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Paint Fox, Bread (Read 2956 times)
Nov 28th, 2004 at 8:08pm

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Makawao,  Maui, USA, HI

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On Saturday, we walked the streets of Paris with Christmas shopping in mind.  There’s been a resurgence of Chairman Mao memorabilia in the windows of Paris boutiques.  I point out to anyone who cares to listen that this man was responsible for the largest genocide in the history of mankind.  What are they thinking ?????

We celebrated Thanksgiving this year with eleven guests:  the four French people who helped us most when we arrived on these shores and seven American friends.  The meal was a several day process – shopping and pies on Wednesday, major cooking and the party on Thursday -- Friday to do the dishes.

As the last dish hit the shelf, I collapsed on the bed for two days of recuperation.  I took to reading “Confucius” by Inoue.  I only knew the littlest bit about Confucius beforehand, and frankly associated him with fortune cookies.

The barbecue we bought to cook the turkey worked half as planned.  When the turkey (14.3 pounds/6.5 kilos) arrived it was too big for the grill.  Blair squished it down as much as possible, but eventually ended up cutting the grill top to slide down further into the kettle.  Charcoal only lit on one side for the first hour.  In 35 degree weather (near 0 Celsius), we rearranged things beneath the light of a table lamp from our living room (why isn’t it sunny tonight?).  Miraculously, three hours later, the turkey emerged:  cooked, moist, beautifully bronzed and we even made gravy.

When Confucius was just a little older than Blair and I he received his “mandate from heaven” to travel and instruct the world.  His philosophies were based on good sense and honesty.  His intentions were “to heal the confusion of the world”.   He did not intend to become rich or famous.

Our guests arrived a little late on Thursday, a work day in France.  Parking places were hard to come by. M-C’s cats profited by the delay -- we sent home the shrimp hors d’oeuvres for them.  Everyone brought something.

Barbecuing with charcoal is something not usually done in Paris.  We kept a low profile.  Olivier opened his window as smoke billowed by.  I told him this was an important American cultural activity:  thanksgiving.  Shhh!

Blair and I have been buying frozen Chinese dinners that come in their own ceramic bowls.   We take the 83 bus to Chinatown.  We fined the cheapest walnuts there, and you can get butternut squash, too – our first soup course.  We found a store that sells official Buddhist begging bowls and another with Korean tea cups made in the ancient manner.

On Thursday afternoon, Michel and Nicole presented us with a giant decorative bread they had for Beaujolais Nouveau: our Thanksgiving centerpiece (they couldn’t come themselves).  I made the leftover turkey into pot pies, and served them up for their lunch, in our Chinese bowls, on Saturday.

Confucius was born in 551 BC  At 15, he became dedicated to learning.  At 30, “he had his feet on the ground; 40, he no longer suffered perplexities; 50, he knew what were the biddings of heaven; 60, he heard them with a docile ear; at 70, he could follow the dictates of his own heart because what he desired no longer overstepped the boundaries of right.”  This book was translated from the Japanese, abridged for the Western reader.

Everyone at our table had an understanding of Thanksgiving from years before.  It was the first time I realized I was the pilgrim, who really needed to thank the people who have helped me survive these hardest winters.

Confucius thought the flow of humanity is like the flow of a river:  generation after generation toward a big sea.  The custom of Thanksgiving is my favorite American celebration.

Laurie (painting and text) and Blair PESSEMIER

www.paintfox.com ;

"Bread"  6.5 x 20 inches, acrylic on wood (wine box)
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