Cost-Saving Day

Today was one of the “cost-saving days” dictated by our contract.  (I get to choose six of them, whereas four of them–the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, the day after Christmas, and New Year’s Eve–were chosen for me.)  I slept late both yesterday and today, so returning to the work routine come Monday morning won’t be easy.  Open-ended waking-up times are very easy to get used to.

We had a pretty low-key Thanksgiving fête, just Steph, Susie, and me.  It featured turkey, potatoes, carrots, wine (for Steph), water (for Susie), and apple juice (for me).  It was hardly a Norman Rockwell setting.  As we ate, we watched a Two and a Half Men stored on the DVR, and I enjoyed some of the many episodes of Law and Order that TNT broadcast.  I was too wiped out, both emotionally and physically, to write either here in the blog or in my diary, and I was in bed well on this side of midnight.
Even though the temperature hasn’t been above 30º F. today, I’ve been outdoors quite a bit today.  Yesterday, Thanksgiving, it was dark most of the day, with a constant cold rain.  The only time I was outdoors was to run turkey parts straight out to the trash can in the back yard, so David, our tabby, wouldn’t get into the trash.  (He feasted on giblets from the turkey, so he ate as well as we did.)  This morning, I took Susie to the Short North post office branch to buy a $.10 stamp, so she could mail a letter to her pen pal in Ireland.  (I had given her two $.44 stamps already.)
Steph and I walked, mostly along E. and W. 5th Ave., in the afternoon after the noon meal.  She took my camera and shot some pictures of different scenes and buildings along the way–Godman Guild, the New Life United Methodist Church, shops near the corner of High and 5th, etc.  We walked as far west as the Thompson Recreation Center, and then turned around and headed eastward.  Our goal was to be in the light of the sun as much as possible, and the sun darted in and out from behind clouds the entire time.
As maudlin as it sounds, I have been searching the junk stores and thrift shops for a decent copy of Eric Enstrom’s “Grace,” a painting taken from a photograph of peddler Charles Wilden.  I’ve seen the pictures in church social halls, friends’ dining rooms, and even some hole-in-the-wall restaurants here and there.  Since it was so ubiquitous, I thought that it had crossed the line into kitsch, but lately I’ve rethought that.
What I like about this picture is that the old man in the picture is genuinely thankful and glad for the food that is set before him.  And it’s quite a simple meal, just some bread and gruel.  The Lord’s Prayer says “give us this day our daily bread,” meaning give us the food to sustain us, no more, no less, no deprivation, but no excess, either.
I realized that I had some rethinking to do in this area sometime last year.  I was walking through the kitchen at night, and the lights were off.  I nearly fell when I stepped onto a scatter of cans on the kitchen floor and nearly fell.  After I regained my balance, I was cursing that our pantry was so overloaded cans weren’t staying on the shelves.
I caught myself a moment later.  So easily did I forget the days when I was between jobs and rolling pennies so I could buy a cheeseburger.  I had forgotten the days when I would buy two hot dogs for a dollar at United Dairy Farmers and savor them as though I were eating a thick rare steak at the finest restaurant in town.  And here I was griping about having so much food my pantry runneth over!
I have my earbuds in right now while I’m typing.  In today’s mail, I received an MP3 disk of the “Top 95” countdown of WXIL-FM, my all-time favorite radio station during my early adolescence.  This program was recorded New Year’s Eve 1977, counting back the top 95 hits of 1977.  (WXIL’s place on the FM dial was 95.1.)  Currently, Chicago’s “Baby, What a Big Surprise” is playing, and I remember that song fondly.  (In eighth grade, I saved my lunch money so I could buy Chicago XI at Hart’s.)  I’m enjoying hearing commercials that I had forgotten, for companies like Auto Sound and Security and Powell’s Honda.  Earlier, I heard Stillwater’s song “Mindbender,” which I had completely forgotten.  (Never mind that I used to sit by the radio for hours with my tape recorder, waiting for that to come on.)  I was glad to get that disk in today’s mail.  The year 1977 was not a particularly happy one for me, but the radio was a constant companion during my many hours of self-imposed exile in my bedroom.