Stolen Fire Pit

We don’t see a lot of other people these days, at least in person. But we did find a workaround to help. My son had a friend over not too long ago, sort of. They hung out at the end of our long driveway, a good distance apart, but enough to have a long conversation. That worked well to get in some real face time. We have no close neighbors so it was just the two of them.

Not long after that we had their whole family over. The second time they came over we hauled our metal fire pit to the end of the driveway and put that between us. They were on the road side and we were on the house side and it was enough to have a shared experience. After they left we snuffed the fire and pulled the pit off to the side and went back to the house.

My daughter tried this with friends as well. We had three or four fires this way. Then my daughter had a plan to do it one more time. We grabbed some wood and matches and water to put the fire out at the end and headed down the driveway. But we got there and the fire pit seemed, well, missing. Hadn’t we left it right there? We had. It was gone.

There was a pile of cold wood coals. The fire pit was gone, as was the grate that we had set off to the side. Someone had come to our house, dumped the ashes, grabbed the pit with its grate, and taken it for themselves. We were a bit dumbfounded. Who would do that? Especially right now? I mean, I know people steal stuff, but to take it while we are home? During the day? That’s bold.

Missing the fire pit isn’t too much of a problem. It is just a thing, albeit one that brought a lot of joy. My daughter and friends had a fire right on the gravel of the driveway that night. In fact, we have a second metal fire pit. Years ago my wife and I both bought one to give to each other for Christmas. Hers was better so we have had been using that one. I pulled out the second one from the basement and, after way too much assembly, we have another one to use, although we have yet to christen it.

The problem is that someone stole this object that made a big difference during these days of isolation. It was a symbol of how we might come together even when we can’t come together like we would at another time. It allowed for real sharing, not virtual sharing–light across distance. Plus it was a gift, and we had shared many fires with many other people over the years. For someone to just take that? That ain’t right.

Luckily we do have a back-up. I guess we won’t be leaving it at the end of the driveway, however. And I hope that the one that disappeared ends up causing some joy for others, even if it is a soured joy. I hope the sourness wears off, and true enjoyment can be had from our old fire pit. That theft has put a ding in a lonely time for us, so I hope it can take a ding out of someone else’s.

Thankgiving Dinner

We headed down to hang with my side of the family for Thanksgiving.  We had a typical Thanksgiving dinner.  The menu included:

  • Turkey ( I abstained)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Butternut squash
  • Peas
  • Stuffing (made by the brother, vegetarian even!)
  • Sweet potatoes (with maple syrup and cranberries, even I thought this was tasty)
  • Cream of broccoli soup

It was a team effort, with my brother and mother doing most of the work.  After a while we had dessert, with these offerings:

  • Apple pie
  • Chocolate pudding pie
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Chocolate ice cream
  • Whipped cream to top things off

A word about the pumpkin pie:  It was the best pumpkin pie I have ever had.  My brother found a new recipe and my mom whipped it up and it was sweet and creamy and just plain GOOD.  I need to find out how to make me one of them puppies.

It was a fine meal, shared with family.  That is a good thing.  Like all families we have our differences and oddities, but we get along well.  That isn’t true of many families.  So I am lucky.  I am thankful for that.

Dinner Over, Dessert Soon

Dinner Over, Dessert Soon

Tofu Pot Pie

I just opened the oven and slid in a pie, a tofu pot pie.  For those with eclectic or simply open tastes, this is one good dish.  It was introduced to us by our friends, Spike and Liz, when we visited them a couple of years ago out in Idaho.  We jotted down the recipe on the back of a random page from a transcribed telephone conversation about a land conservation deal, and it has become a staple for us since then.

It took me about an hour and a quarter to put it all together, another quarter hour to clean, and we still have 15 minutes remaining for it to bake.  It can sometimes take two hours from beginning of prep time to pulling it from the oven, but it is worth it.  It is comfort food at its best, with no factory farmed critters in the mix.

Aside from its gustatory pleasures and its ability to satisfactorily fill one’s gut, this pie offers something else.  Whenever I make it I think of Spike and Liz.  They are two of my favorite people and I have not seen them in way too long.  We almost saw them this fall but plans fell through.  Making this pie helps keep them fresh in my mind.  I hope that anyone who reads this has had the fortune to have friends like these.

They are bright, ambitious and set an example of how to achieve.  Yet, despite their ambitions and achievements, they are both humble, enjoy simple pleasures and are accepting of even those with differing viewpoints.  Neither of them is content to accept anything without asking first, Why is this this way, and is there a better way?  They probe the mysteries of life and take what comes, even if it is difficult or tragic, with grace.  I love them both.

So in this season where the harvest is now in the root cellar, I sit in the dark for dinner and enjoy with my family a meal whose recipe I learned from some high quality individuals.  And I think of them as I prepare it and as I eat it.  Here is to Spike and Liz, for sharing, for teaching me, and for making the world a better place.

Happy pie!  May you have such meals as this.