Monday, November 7, 2016

Celebrate Regardless

What a strange autumn it’s been.  We still haven’t had a killing frost, many leaves have remained on the trees, and it has been generally spectacular.  Too dry, but so beautiful it’s hard to care.  Perhaps Mother Nature knows we must be hit over the head with beauty this year to pull us away from the election.  I’m on record as saying September is my favorite month.  If I may amend that and say that while September is my favorite month, November has my favorite mornings.  Many November mornings start the same here.  They are finally cold, not cool.  Maybe in the 30s, perhaps the 40s.  You don’t know if daybreak will bring vibrant sunshine and warmth, dramatic winds and rain, or even snow.  Hour by hour, November changes.  There is a bit of a bleak magic watching a deciduous land reduced to its skeletal grey—November is the theater for that show. 

A frosted fence


The essence of November
Our first frost made Saturday an exquisitely beautiful morning. 





I would hope that if one were to distill the thousands of words I’ve written specifically about Thanksgiving—though really about holidays in general—that it would reveal one consistent message.  When I think about the very essence of my holiday philosophy, it boils down quite simply to celebrate regardless.  There are always reasons not to, many reasons far more legitimate than I’ve ever had.  Holidays take on such a complex energy the older we get.  What used to be so straightforward and simply good can become sad, fill us with a sense of longing—an agony thinking of those who won’t be ringing the doorbell or sitting at the head of the table.
But it can be other things, too.  Holidays can be reminders of all that hasn’t happened.  Christmas was always my biggest holiday.  There was about a decade of fluctuation in my family where some people upheld the annual trip, some veered off to more exciting destinations, and some stayed home.  Because we weren’t all together, Thanksgiving was often a do your own thing affair.  Christmas was the institution and Thanksgiving was kind of a cobbled together hit or miss dinner.
Then I had a year that rapidly changed my lukewarm feelings for the holiday.  I had spent the summer utterly shattered and heartbroken.  I sort of felt as if my body was in one place trudging through minutiae and my spirit was in another, hovering over the dream of the life I thought I was embarking upon.  So I wasn’t myself.  While my attitude is usually that everything matters, my outlook then was that nothing really mattered.  I spent June-October being a big whore.  But you know, being a big whore is a lot of work.  You have to keep yourself market ready. Well by late October, I was over it.  I was suddenly a lot more interested in perfecting my buttercream than apathetically banging anyone else.  So I got fat.  Considering I had spent my entire life obsessing over weight and not getting too fat, it was quite liberating to say fuck it and just love and enjoy cooking.  It became about confronting the incredibly wound up and combative person I had become, and honing my cooking in the process.  It’s funny how at the time I thought of it as misery, and looking back I see it as triumph. 
Frosted goldenrod is one of my most favorite sights

At this time of year, my favorite trees begin to shine.  The white bark of the Sycamores is increasingly striking against the monochromatic landscape.  


I had always illuminated myself with spotlights and I loved learning I could turn them off.  The thought of Christmas felt too big, too much everything.  In my weakened state of empowerment, Thanksgiving felt approachable.  That year, it was Thanksgiving that I needed.  I think I called around on Tuesday to see who was available and went to the store that night.  There were no lists, no perfect tablecloths, no real thought of anything other than how much I’d enjoy cooking it.  It was what I could handle that year. 
My first Holiday table of the season.  
Holidays come and go, as do the people we love to share them with.  Perfection will not be achieved until it’s all over and your mind does some editing for you.   Rain or shine, Trump or Hillary, single or married, fat or thin, we might as well celebrate the holidays we have.  I think it feels better to participate than not. If you didn’t find the perfect dream china, use what you have.  If you didn’t order your heritage, pastured, organic turkey in March, buy a frozen Butterball.  Thanksgiving is about coming together, moving through a rough year, and affirming what matters most.  I hope you’ll celebrate regardless. 


This display has resulted in some debate.  I think it's funny and well done.  One could argue Hillary is either a victim or a villain based on this, no?

Why anyone would spend money on these signs baffles me.   
It seems that Trump will win Ohio, don't blame me.  



82 comments:

  1. Just the post I needed. We've just come off of a hard week with two funerals in the family. It is especially difficult to know our doorbell will never again be rung by my brother-in-law. Thanksgiving has always been a cobbled together affair here; I'm not a great entertainer and we're usually knee-deep in mud in the gardens if we haven't got a foot of snow by then. I don't know if any of the family will want to celebrate Thanksgiving this year but I'm thinking this might be just the thing we all need; a celebration regardless.

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    1. Oh, Karen, I'm so sorry to hear that! So sorry for your losses. I really struggled with Christmas last year. But it ended up being one of the very best because I think we all really needed it. Of course we all have our own ways we do this, but I think it's a lovely way to take care of people you know are hurting. Just make sure you have plenty of food! Grief makes people very very hungry!

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    2. If I had your entertaining and cooking skills, the family would be wowed off their feet. Sadly, such is not the case (but I promise I will omit the Stovetop stuffing this year.)

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  2. Your pictures are absolutely breathtaking and beautiful...
    we all have so much to be thankful for and to celebrate and be grateful is important.
    Perfection is not a word that I would even consider using when we get together for family events...I set the bar much lower to allow for the unknown glitches that invariably crop up!
    Enjoy your celebrations...your advice is so welcome and very wise.

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    1. Thank you so much! You are absolutely right, there are always unforeseen hiccups!

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  3. Beautiful, beautiful photos! I can almost smell the air and feel the chill.
    Wonderful writing, too.
    I made your pie recipe. Delicious!

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    1. Thank you so much! Autumn really is the time the Great Lakes region shines. It's all so beautiful! I'm so glad to hear you made the pie!! Thank you for telling me!

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  4. I am so grateful for this post today. And for you, always. Thank you for a strong dose of beauty, for a much needed laugh and for common sense that is bordering on wisdom. You are wonderful, Stephen.

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    1. Thank you so much Heather! I hope things are going well over there! It certainly was a good call to be across the Atlantic for Election Day!!

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  5. I was so happy to see that you had a new post. It made my day. Your writing has such soul. You make me laugh and also realize that we all go through ups and downs in our lives, but you express it so well in your writing. So sorry for your down times. Love your photos and what kind of camera do you use to take them? Thanks for making my day. I will share your post at the office. They now look forward to them. We have 4 weeks to go until it is our last day and we can hardly wait. Weird in a way, but we are so lucky that we were offered a package to retire early. Many already have new jobs because they want to continue working.

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    1. I'm so excited for you and your coworkers! And to finish just before Christmas? How fabulous! Thank you so much! I just got a Nikon D3300 a few weeks ago. It's my first real camera, I've always been reluctant to dive in because I already have too many expensive hobbies! I'm very happy with it, though I've been cautioned the big difference between Nikon and Canon comes out in portraits. My best friend's family are all photographers and swear a Canon is the only way to really really bring someone to life. Canons and iPhones :) my biggest takeaway from them was "ABYC" Always Bring Your Camera. The thing I want now is one of those giant telephoto lenses as that would enhance my very lazy style of nature photography.

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    2. Thanks for the camera info. I bought a Cannon Rebel a few years ago and several lenses. I know probably spent too much, but I plan to take time away from job hunting to take photography classes and became a pro like you. I am ok at taking photos, but I am not as good as you. Those telephotos can be pricey, but just watch the sales. Christmas time is a good time to look because of the sales.

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    3. Haha I am millions of miles from being a pro! That sounds like a wonderful idea if you learn best in classes. I hate class formats so I've enjoyed learning most just going out and trying to figure out what makes me like the photo. The downside is I end up having no recollection of the specifics were!

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  6. What a great read early this morning! I am off to vote when the polls open here at 6:00 AM.

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    1. Thank you! Glad to hear that! Hope the line isn't terrible!

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  7. Just when I think your posts can't get better they somehow do. You are an amazing writer and these photos are stunning. And thanks for the glimpse of Political Ohio. I like the Bernie Sanders bumper sticker the best.
    You're right the thing is we just have to take the plunge and do the holidays, it's easy to step away and do nothing when we feel shattered.
    I keep telling my family that Hillary Clinton will win by a larger margin than any of the damn endless polls have predicted. I think I've just been saying that to get them to stop talking about the election, not because I know anything. What a day it will be! Wish I was closer I'd drop a bottle of gin off for you. XOX

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    1. Thank you so much, Dani! That is so lovely of you to say. I think Bernie will end up having a significant write-in presence. I know quite a few who plan or have already done that. I am so interested to see how things go here in Ohio. I don't think Clinton image rebounded here as it did in much of the country after Bill's affair and throwing poor Monica Lewinsky to the wolves. Also Hillary's cookie comment (that she ended up embracing as a positive this election!) was never forgotten. I've heard many women say they felt judged by that quote as they were also college educated but chose to focus on their families. Also what the fuck is better than being at home making cookies? I think I might leave the Bombay cap tightly screwed on as my drunken political opinions are...loud.

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    2. UGH! The Cookie Comment!! Yes, I felt judged by that quote, too! I remember it so well as I was in the midst of raising my two young sons as a stay-at-home mother and was coincidentally removing the third batch of chocolate chip cookies from the oven when I heard it. I wasn't college 'edumucated' so I guess that makes it ok. (And I don't know a thing about tea.)

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    3. No it absolutely does not make a difference!

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  8. what a truly lovely post stephen. the images are breathtaking and so is the message. it's so spot on and for those of us suffering with broken families, a message we need to hear and take to heart. we are all so powerless in this world except for our own choices. we can choose love and happiness even when it almost feels guilty to do so. thank you my dear, lovely friend. i will not hold ohio against you. xoxo

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    1. Thank you so much Janet! I'm sorry to hear that, and totally agree with you. I think the great thing about holidays is that they can be whatever we want them to be, just as long as they're enjoyed!

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  9. Just a delight, am absolute delight, to read your writing and view the beautiful photos. Thank you.

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  10. Stephen, what a gorgeous post. You are such a terrific writer. I'm so happy you are now able to see the misery as triumph. Still struggling with that one myself. xo

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm sure you will very soon, as you're not one to be closed off to learning new things! I think identifying the growth in times of emotional atrophy or even despair helps them to not feel like total wastes of time

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  11. I think most signs (especially on just one corner next to others) are paid for by their campaign.

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    1. Yes perhaps in busy areas that is the case. I'm almost positive people around here have to actually pay for them! They were frequent purchases at the farmers market this summer for many!

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  12. "Celebrate regardless" is a great empowering phrase. I'll be repeating it often as my own broken family tries to make it through the holidays and beyond. Your writing is gorgeous, as are your photos, as always.

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    1. Thank you so much, Nancy! So sorry to hear it's a rough time for your family. You will enjoy your New York Thanksgiving so much! I really should write about my New York Thanksgiving when I met Darlene Love and we traded notes about our fur coats. I couldn't be bothered to go to the parade though. Do you think you'll go?

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    2. I loved the photo of the adjacent homes, each flying the flag but planting opposing signs. America...so great.

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  13. Loving your November! Ours remains frostless and unseasonably warm and even wetter than what is normal. *sigh* Mud is everywhere and muddy paws abound, but I'm still hopeful for some bolstering cold weather before long. Too cold to rain is my eternal hope!
    Sorry, but I laughed out loud at that hillary up the tree display...only wish it were real. :) Yes, I mean that. As much as I dislike Trump and his big, fat mouth - I simply abhor Hillary and pray for her demise. Politically speaking of course. But I think she will likely win, and God help us. :(

    Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday ever. When I was a kid, it was Christmas. But Thanksgiving requires nothing more than a beautiful meal shared with the people we love, and hopefully focusing on all that we have to give thanks for. I love the perfect simplicity in that.

    Happy Thanksgiving SA! Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. Thank you so much! Totally agree with you on Thanksgiving. Many many people around here agree with you on Hillary. I'm not a fan of HRC at all either. I'm still disappointed Kasich couldn't make it. But proud of him for standing his ground against Trump.

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  14. HI Stephen,

    It is not the camera that makes the photographer great but the photographer that makes the camera great. It is how you see things, the frost rimming the edges of an aline plant, the mist in a valley, etc. It is how you see,how you perceive the light (although the light is spectacular independent of you!). Don't worry about Nikon vs. Canon. Nikon takes portraits just as well as Canons. Thanks for such a magnificent blog. Beautiful photos, and inspiring text. I have been thinking of Ellie for the past few days. Celebrate regardless....

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    1. Anonymous, that's exactly what I was thinking: it's not the camera but the photographer!
      Stephen, thank you for sharing your photos and insightful posts; you have many gifts!

      Marianne in Vancouver (anxiously awaiting your election's results tonight, as are most Canadians)

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    2. Thank you so much! I am missing Ellie so much! I keep wanting to run things by her or show her things that I find shockingly ugly-like this purple front door I pass all the time or this gorgeous house that was painted blue by a straight man who won't admit it looks fucking electric. We've all made bad paint choices. It's how we correct them that shows character! Haha.
      I owe it to my friend's parents to add a bit of context on their thoughts on Canon portraiture! Haha I only got that answer after pressing and pressing for why they all use Canons. It wasn't a shun on Nikon as much as a "there's just...the slightest...maybe....a certain element of someone that you don't know isn't there in the photo that you can't live without once you capture it". Basically I got that answer as if repeatedly shaking a magic 8 ball until getting an answer you like :) We love going through their "normal people" photos, taken with normal cameras and admiring how well their talents translate even to disposable cameras! I feel lucky to have observed them in their processes. One of our favorites is from a birthday party at like Chuck E. Cheese where the composition is almost exactly like the Last Supper! Haha

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  15. I love "celebrate regardless" too! May just have to make a sign. Thanks for your simultaneously deep and funny comments, and the beautiful pictures!

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    1. Thank you so much! I love your name, it's so elegant!

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  16. You have such a kind and generous soul. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, they're apt.

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    1. Thank you so much, GK! I hope you're doing well!

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  17. Every time I read your "about me" blog statement it makes me chuckle. You're one of a kind darling: keep growing but don't ever change. (I first found you through Ellie. )

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    1. Thank you so much! Don't worry, as a Taurus I evolve/devolve but never really change.

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  18. it's like a little gift in my email. a post from Stephen Andrew Jones.
    I always know it will be a treat. and this one was hilarious and so poignant at the same time.
    I have thought all along that I wouldn't be voting this year.
    and it would have been the first time in my whole voting life that I didn't.

    and yet this morning I went to my polling place three times. the first time literally NO place to park.
    a great turn out. the lines didn't seem to be dwindling as I tried a second time. still no parking.
    the third time I had to parallel park which was lots of fun. but I made it.
    stood in line for one and a half hours and you know what? I stood there fighting back TEARS! I always cry at parades. and I always cry when I vote. very weird. but I am moved beyond measure. just the thought that I CAN VOTE!
    love the bernie sticker. our state doesn't allow write ins.
    and...
    i'm with you darling Stephen Andrew Jones... "celebrate regardless."
    for its LIFE itself we're truly celebrating.
    and your place setting with the tartan is magical to me. and the crisp autumn pictures feed my soul.
    XOXOXO♥

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    1. Thank you so much Tammy! I am so glad you voted! I know you were tempted to opt out, as I was! Oh my god I cannot parallel park to save my life. I can't even parallel park in "rural sized" spaces. I will literally drive around in circles for an hour to avoid parallel parking!

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  19. Stephen, I think your raw honesty is what keeps me coming back again and again....that and you are almost as crazy as I am .... and you like your linens and silver and perfection. Fat or thin, I love you just as you are----but you know that.

    I think I have about 20 for Thanksgiving this year. 3 tables- adults, older kids, toddlers and tiaras...lol Should be fun and I am already planning my meal and table settings. Yep- still crazy after all these years (isn't that a song or something?)...xo Diana

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    1. Thank you so much, Diana! I'm much more lovable when I'm fat because I'm so mean when I'm hungry. Your Thanksgiving sounds fab! Don't get too carried away with your etsy shop! You need lots of plates!

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  20. I think this is probably my favorite post from you EVER. Beautifully said, and a beautiful sentiment. I've had some holidays in the midst of tragedy, and you are absolutely right, it still needs to happen in some form -- ANY form, really. Each Thanksgiving is like a person -- unique and special, but in their own way. And your photos make me extremely hopeful that some day I'm going to celebrate Thanksgiving in a place where I will look out and see that classic autumn-into-winter landscape. And that too will be unique and imperfect in its own way, I have no doubt. Yet still beautiful. Thank you for sharing this!

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    1. Thank you so much! You are so right! They all have their own vibes and identities. Oh I am sure there are many many many merits to your area at this time, but it is so wonderful to be in a winter-headed land in November!

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  21. I see your hands and WAIST in that bumper!YOU ARENOT FAT..........plus it makes us look younger as we age.THE FAT!
    If one is TOO SKINNY they look sickly.
    I will celebrate NO MATTER WHAT.................there will always be food here!
    How many are coming this year?
    What china will you use............?
    Give US the details...........PLEASE!
    I am afraid to turn the TV or radio on now..................I think I will let a BLOG INFORM ME OF THE WINNER TOMORROW!
    I am with YOU..............ALL THE WAY on EVERYTHING you spoke of here in your FABULOUS POST!

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    1. Haha thank you! I will share my china soon! It's so beautiful! I think I have eight this year. Maybe twelve. I'm watching the coverage and I have to admit I'm so into it. Time for a g&t though!! One of my beauty school teachers was in her 60s and had the smoothest most lovely skin and she always said it was because she had some extra cushioning!

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  22. Stephen, your post has touched my heart so tenderly. We lost our sweet sister in law last Christmas and the last time she was 'herself' was at our Thanksgiving table. This year's holiday will be so bittersweet for us all. I am sending your post to my brother and the rest of my family because of this quote...."When I think about the very essence of my holiday philosophy, it boils down quite simply to celebrate regardless." Our presence honors the ones who are missing as well as the beaten up, flawed, tired, lovable beings who sit around the table. There will be laughter and tears, but, mostly gratitude for the gifts we don't deserve given to us by God. Your photographs are inspired and should be framed on your walls. Thank you again for pulling at my heart strings while making me laugh till I snort!!! (Ron Johnson wins the bumper sticker contest, in my book!)

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm so very sorry about your sister in law. So hard to go into the Firsts of having lost someone. But also how very wonderful that you have these good Thanksgiving memories of her. Couldn't agree more, keeping the traditions going helps keep them alive and a part of the celebrations.

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  23. Loved this post- your photo game is uber strong, so congrats. Love all the bumper stickers and neighbour signs. I got up super early to watch the election coverage. "Whoring is a lot of Work" made me laugh out loud. Going out all the time is emotionally and physically exhausting. Not to mention fraught. Loved your table setting with the tartan napkin. Mentioned you on my blog xxx

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    1. Thank you so much! I love your post and am now craving a yachting holiday. Watching the coverage now and they really don't have anything to talk about! But it looks like Ohio is very very close. You are so right! It takes so much out of you and leaves little time for polishing silver and cataloging china!

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  24. Stunning photographs. They could be paler in the mist and low light but you have magically captured vibrancy peeking out in them. I keep coming back to look at them again. You might post them on etsy and see what happens. ;) It is a triumph of the human spirit to take a step and start anew. Glad you did and started from where you were. The starting point is a moving target and not to be over analyzed (easier said than done at times). Canon vs. Nikon seems like apple and oranges to me, but then I cannot understand deep camera conversation. I just like to point and shoot (ok I can spend some time framing and focusing). I love the place setting. Is that from this year? And is the setting Lenox? Anything trimmed in gold is good with me. I am feeling rather light today, not sure if it's because the election is finally here. My favorite posts today are footage of people at the gravesite of Susan B. Anthony where people are standing in line in order to put their "I Voted" sticker on her gravestone. Gave me goosebumps. God Bless America. ~Nicole

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    1. Thank you so much! I so agree with you that starting is the hardest part of starting! The setting is from Friday night. The salad plates are Royal Doulton, bread plates are Selb Bavaria, dinner plates are cheap BIA. How beautiful! I need to see that of people putting their stickers at SBA's grave. Had an absolutely stunning, incredible moment tonight when one of my clients brought in her 4.5 year old daughter with her tonight and she said "Guess WHAT Stephen?" What?
      "a GIRL can be a PRESIDENT". Brought me to tears! im not a HRC enthusiast but I absolutely loved that moment.

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  25. Thank you for this. It was very soothing to read after spending the day working the polls.
    Mary

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    1. Thank you! I have to tell you how much I appreciate the poll volunteers! Nice volunteers set such a wonderful tone for voters. The volunteers here in Delaware County couldn't have been better.

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  26. I normally don't post anything under the influence (interpret how you want), but tonight I'm making an exception. I have poured myself the largest vodka-Bailey's I've ever poured. Watching the results - while early at this point - with a heavy heart and much dismay.

    At times like these, what you are preaching is more important than ever. The French have a wonderful expression - s'enfarger dans les fleurs du tapis - literally translated as tripping over the flowers on the carpet. Perfection is a illusion. All we really need is effort. Kudos to you for recognizing this.

    Signed, Ann without and e but answers to both.

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  27. Thank you, Ann! I haven't ever heard that expression, I love it. Yes I'm nursing a stiff g&t and thinking I might just go to bed! I was thinking I'd stay up and watch but alllll the sudden I'm tired. Can't believe he won Ohio!

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    1. Me neither regarding OH. This is such a dirty battle, a very divisive and damaging campaign. We will wake up to a new world tomorrow. Sadly, not a better one.

      Have a good night. A new era dawns.

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  28. I must remember this - i can be such a bah humbug. But it's innate - i told the fake santa when i was 7 not to be so patronising. But i seem to have the type of face where people will sit next to me even if the bus is half empty so people don't realise that about me. i still celebrate mind you but indeed it is harder when members pass on and the dining table seems a little empty.

    This autumn seems to be one of the most beautiful and I have overloaded pics on my phone.

    I am now taking a break from messaging those who are crestfallen to relax bc even their beloved Obama didn't manage world peace and the checks and balances of the US system means the president can only do so much anyway.

    I am wondering now if you will be going for all the classics or will you be making a dish for thanksgiving and xmas? PS would it be so brash of me to request a post on your favourite foreign foods - curries, sushi etc? I am so interested to know!

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    1. Yes everyone knows I go to bed early so I literally woke up to 37 texts! Granted like 20 of them were from my best friend but wow. Well we'all see how this goes. I didn't want HRC to win but I didn't want her to lose. I voted for her. Interestingly Trump underperformed in my county compared to other pres candidates but turned formerly very blue counties red.
      Hilarious about you and Santa!! That is wonderful that people are drawn to you. I know exactly what you mean!
      Thanksgiving will be very very traditional of course! I love good Indian food at someone's house but don't seek it out at restaurants because my Indian friends say for a good Indian restaurant we need to go to New Jersey. My favorite curry is one that is laden with cilantro and citrus and heat. I rarely eat seafood here in Ohio because it's Ohio (what did that fish have to go through to get here?) so the many sushi restaurants gross me out. Also a beach house full of people losing it from all ends from sushi (or who knows actually but they did all eat sushi) pretty much cemented it as a no for me. I love to cook Thai as again I favor very clear, bright flavors. I also love Baja Mexican. I'll try anything if I trust it's done well/in someone's house but I'd never be the free spirit who walks down a street where there are bugs and open air and cats and eat street food because Eat Pray Love told me it was okay.

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    2. You are being kind by saying they are drawn to me - its just that I am a certain demographic and I look safe ;P

      Yes Ohio and sushi don't somehow go together.

      I never met a curry I didn't like except Massaman curry.

      As usual Ohio called it - when Ohio was called for Trump I thought maybe it is an outlier year so I waited for Florida and then i went to sleep bc i knew it was over.

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    3. Yeah I knew he'd get Ohio but I thought FLA and NC could tilt it back so when NC went Trump I went to bed. I am now wondering if HRC will actually make a concession speech.

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    4. I'm currently in a bad way, physically and mentally and struggling to get well, your words have reminded me that everything passes eventually, life is precious and we need to be kind to ourselves.
      The photos are amazing so evocative.
      I think you are a very special person and I wish yourself you ran a bed and breakfast and get your shit together retreat because I would be there. In the meantime I am printing out your post and sticking in my journal.

      As for Trump. No words, wtf happened here seriously?

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    5. Thank you so much. I'm so sorry to hear you're going through such a hard time. Oh I would love to have a b&b! Except I could never lead a get your shit together workshop because my expertise on the subject would be a blank PowerPoint presentation!!

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  29. She made a beautiful concession speech. Horrified by the whole thing... did love your photos though, well done. The deer in the frost.. christmas card.

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    1. Yes it really was an excellent speech! I wrote that earlier, I was trying to find specifics on when the speech would be and couldn't find anything. Thank you so much!

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  30. Dear darling Stephen,
    Wow! I left the USA 18 years ago, but still absolutely love America and my fellow Americans. I am devastated. Yes, an excellent speech. Thanks so much for this excellent post. You encourage me to be a better person. Hugs to you and Barbie...

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    1. Thank you so much! Yes, there were a lot of tears yesterday. I'm glad the protests have been peaceful. I just hope everyone protesting actually voted!

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  31. p.s. I had a great haircut today in Florence.

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  32. Got up this morning to the news and felt a deep sense of depression. I couldn't understand why I was so deeply affected. And I still don't have an answer. Then I got on-line to read my blogs and remembered your admonition to, "Celebrate Regardless." I realize that this was in regard to our upcoming Thanksgiving celebration, but, for those of us trying to make sense of the current political climate, it seemed very apropos. And so I celebrated. I went to my aerobics class and talked to friends. I played Trivia with my brother-in-law and his wife. I had my hair done. In other words, I went about my day as usual. And my government went on smoothly as I expected it would. No riots, no coups. Just a peaceful acceptance, and I would expect no less. I'm not happy. My candidate didn't win. But I still feel safe and still love my country. Can't ask for much more.

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    1. I'm sorry it was a rough morning for you! I think it was for many. I had a bit of a visceral reaction myself before sunrise. But, like you, was able to get into my day and bring down that weird energy. Thank you so much! I figured it applied to both so the night before the election was a good time to post it!

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  33. Your photos are just beautiful. Really soothing to look at. And I loved the glimpse of politicking in Ohio, and a different side to what we're watching on the news here.
    I also love the way you celebrate the imperfect with your entertaining because really if you wait for everything to come together just the way it's supposed to be in the movies it never happens. I had friends for lunch last Friday - it was the worst week I was so busy, but I didn't cancelled, I ordered in the majority of food, set the table nicely and we had a great time. They were all strangely happy that I'd not been superwoman and cooked everything and I think maybe felt it gave them permission to entertain on their own terms without feeling like everything has to be perfect/ done to the nth degree.
    Well, we're in shock here. It's been a bad year for elections in general - we had ours earlier in the year - it lasted 8 weeks, was nasty, and if it had gone on as long as yours in the US did I think I'd be imposing a bubble sanction (where we have news banned int eh house). My husband loves politics, so we have been getting a lot of Trump/ Clinton. I have some hope because his victory speech was gracious, however the rhetoric that he delivered throughout the campaign was so awful, it is just frightening. Perhaps this will be the catalyst though for all those Millennials who rant about things on Twitter but didn't actually vote. I see from the latest news that campuses are protesting across the country, which is to some extent heartening. An apathetic generation that haven't had anything to unite against perhaps are finding their voice. xx

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    1. Thank you so much! Yes, I was quite certain Trump would win Ohio as the feelings about HRC around here are not good. What shocked me were Pennsylvania and North Carolina! I really would like to see a breakdown of who voted and who didn't. I thought the Brexit was quite a warning to young people that following through with a vote was kind of an important part of the process! I'm not sure what exactly it is they're protesting or what they think will come from it but you make a good point about actually doing something. A lot of people did block out all the news after a while. I know I did. I followed our Governor's presidential campaign very closely but once he was out I kinda gave up and only got highlights occasionally. With our elections going on so so long you really do have to be careful about how much media you consume or you'll end up a paranoid ball of shit with no focus on the important things like keeping your silver polished and organizing your stemware!
      I love your lunch and totally agree, I think people have a much better time when they feel like it wasn't a huge bother for the host. Much more important to keep your pulse low and enjoy your own party than cook everything yourself!

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  34. I have always been just the opposite. A career in retail has destroyed my holiday joy and essentially ruined Christmas for me (if you spent over 40 hours a week observing nasty, miserable Christmas shoppers you would wonder why we bother) and while I can usually rally myself a week or two before the 25th, it is Thanksgiving that I have clung to as the most special holiday of all. There is nothing materialistic about it (other than the quest for a gorgeous table setting) and it is ALL about gathering loved ones around a table and sharing a meal. My favorite thing to do anyway.
    Now we are two weeks out and I haven't even started to plan and am struggling to muster up the drive to do it. I thought last year was weird but I am back in the same place again this year. Hoping I get the motivation to rally myself soon.
    Your photos are A++ and your post as always a bright spot.
    xo

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    1. Okay I think you are struggling with dream achieved syndrome. You're in the location you dreamed of and this year your whole family is there too as you also dreamed about. It's that thing where you finally have it all right and it's kind of like "uhhhhh....now wut?" Just start with a list! Even if you know the menu, writing it down is what flips the switch in your soul. It'll start to flow!
      I hate observing bad behavior at Christmas from shoppers. What is wrong with people?

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  35. Wow! You nailed it for me with two zingers just in your reply to Heidi alone. "be careful how much media you consume or you'll end up a paranoid ball of shit..'' ME! And I'm Canadian! But I've been a bundle of nerves and stress for months while glued to your election. That night, that morning; unbelievable I sobbed and sobbed for the loss of everything decent. I'm frightened and just can't accept it and can't shake this feeling. I don't know how anyone handles it who lives there. I'll say though it will strongly affect us too. There is no place far enough away to move to escape this!! But I'd still welcome you Stephen; I can only offer a sofa, but it's a nice one...and made in America!!) So, too late, I have turned off the news!

    And re: entertaining: ''people have a much better time when they feels it wasn't a huge bother"...ummm GUILTY! I'm always flustered, everyone knows it nearly killed me to pull it off. (actually they end up in the kitchen finishing it off while I have a teensy melt down in the background, clutching my wine and envying those 'cool' cooks)

    Barb (some times Barbie too:) Oh to be a carefree doggie today....

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    1. Haha thank you so much! Oh I think every host is flustered in that last half hour of prep and first half hour of the party! It's just all about pretending you're not! We all have our wine clutching tear stained breakdowns in the kitchen or pantry though!
      Thank you so much! I love Canada! But will stay here on the other side of Lake Erie :)

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  36. On a Thanksgiving note, Stephen. I have been trying to find a recipe I saw called Caramel Pumpkin Pie. It had a layer of caramel (made from scratch) on the crust before the filling goes in. I suppose I could use store-bought caramel sauce. Do you have any ideas?

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    1. Oh I have done that! It's really good! I think I used a Martha recipe. But make your own sauce! You can make it now. Store bought caramel never has that luxurious ambery nutty flavor that homemade does! Plus they add so much shit to it. Making caramel is so much better than meditation because you focus so intensely you end up with a clear head but unlike meditation you also end up with caramel. I also swirled caramel into whipped cream once and then piped the whipped cream onto the pie. So good and so pretty!

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