Featured Post

Snapshots of the Present Condition

A mishmash of stuff. So much is going on that . . . well, here are some snapshots I have taken. Bernie in Philadelphia. Wow! I guess Berni...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Thanksgiving Repost: Feathers

Originally posted on June 30, 2013. Strikes me as more appropriate now. The Diplofamily will be heading off to Vegas for Thanksgiving--like the Pilgrims we are taking a gamble. The kids are flying in from California and Florida and we will be hitting the buffet line! Posting might be a little light for a couple of days.


Yes, feathers. Not the figurative kind that fill leftoid heads, but the real kind that cover birds. We are going light today. Our topic is feathers and how they nearly produced a civil war in the Diplomad clan, and how echoes of that strife apparently will reverberate on the 4th of July.

As the six regular readers of this blog are painfully aware, during the Reagan years I served for a time at the UN in New York. We loved New York City, even with all its inconveniences especially with two rambunctious boys. Schooling was a problem as the local PS was, well, pretty bad. When two of the vastly overpaid teachers at the school told us that they would never send their own kids there, we decided to yank our boys out and send them--at considerable cost to the Diplomad bottom line--to private schools. One went to a school run by Irish Catholic nuns, who wanted no parental involvement, "Thank you very much, but we know how to do this." The older son went to one run by strangely liberal, yet oddly conservative Jews who wanted lots of parental involvement in the school as long as the parents did what the school wanted. Hey, it's New York. Live with it.

Well, as it does every year, the Thanksgiving holiday rolled around. You must understand, we had spent most of our lives overseas. The boys had been born in Spain, and hardly had been in the US. Educated abroad, they--God help me--had grown to love soccer/football with both of them becoming (and remaining to this day) rabid fans of Spain's La Furia Roja. Their grip on Americana was a bit weak. Please, remember that as this saga proceeds.

Another piece of background which you will need. My Spanish wife hates, detests, abhors, loathes, etc, feathers and any creature which sports them. She has a special wrath for chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese. She cannot stand the thought of fowl on the meal plate. I have seen her blanche and break out into a cold sweat at fancy diplo dinners when served quail, duck or some other feather-bearing beast. It is not funny; better said, she has no sense of humor about this matter. My efforts to convince her that chicken tastes just like iguana have had no positive effect. Whenever we go to a restaurant, regardless of what she orders, she insists on, ahem, grilling the waiter on whether any foul fowl was involved in the making of her pending meal, "Uh, no ma'am, our salmon is, uh, salmon. It's a fish, not a bird." "Yes, yes, but the rice and the vegetables, were they cooked with chicken?" I am used to it by now.

Thanksgiving Day in New York, 1986. My older son, then about six was in a bad mood. I asked what was wrong, "You have no school today. Mom is making a nice Thanksgiving meal. What's wrong?" He glared at me, "The Pilgrims did not eat paella! They ate turkey!"

Explanation. Given the Diplowife's aversion to feathery creatures, our overseas Thanksgiving Day meals consisted of seafood paella. My wife had, ahem, implied in some way . . . oh, heck, she flat out told the kids that the Pilgrims ate paella with the Indians. Maybe she was thinking about Cortez and Pizarro, I don't know, but anyhow the kids had gotten into their heads that paella was the meal on Thanksgiving. Now in NY, the older boy had been asked the previous day to make a presentation at school on Thanksgiving. He, of course, reported that the English Pilgrims sat down and shared paella with the Native Americans. This caused a bit of a commotion and, I guess, led to some considerable ridicule, or what the politically correct nanny-staters now would label "bullying."

He was furious with us. He was refusing to eat paella and demanded a turkey. Even my wife was shocked into submission by the uncompromising fury coming from the tyke. It was Thanksgiving Day. I had to find a turkey in Manhattan. I dashed out of our building on the upper east side. All of the supermarkets were closed. A turkey! My kingdom for a turkey! I wandered the cold, darkening desolate concrete canyons, my despair growing, and threatening to overwhelm me. I had let down my kids! The wages of sin, the consequences of falsehoods, God give me a sign that You will allow me to redeem myself . . . wait! A deli! Still open but about to close! I ran in! Turkey sandwiches! They must have a turkey somewhere! A bizarre negotiation followed in which I finally convinced the suspicious Pakistani owner of the "Jewish" deli to sell me a whole kosher turkey at the price per pound of the sliced sandwich meat. I paid him a fortune--in cash--for a small bird about the size of a Chihuahua and ran like the Grinch with my turkey under my arm.

My kids had turkey that day, and every other Thanksgiving since then has featured a big bird on the table. My wife refuses to sit anywhere near it, and has her own separate fish-based meal.

This will be an issue on the Fourth of July. The Thanksgiving paella got moved to Independence Day. The kids, now grown, of course, alas, are starting to make noises of impending rebellion against paella and in favor of hot dogs and other beast meat. The Diplowife mistrusts hotdogs, even the kosher all-beef ones, as stealth chicken missiles. She does not want anything with the potential of bearing fowl touching our BBQ grill or being anywhere near anything else that might be cooking. It appears that we might have a split Fourth meal. One side of the family eating chicken wings and hotdogs, and the other with the paella. Now that I think about it, this seems an appropriate metaphor for what is happening to our country.



  1. Hahaha, I loved this the first time you posted it, love it still.

    To you and yours I wish a peaceful Thanksgiving, filled with love. (And paella!)

  2. If you like your paella, you can keep it. The President promised!

  3. What about eggs? They have no feathers and are simply "liquid chickens". Many dishes are made with eggs. Your kitchen must be a place of deep suspicion?

  4. "chicken tastes just like iguana" Love it.

    It could have been "tastes like crocodile [or goanna]" down here.

    Your wife probably has a fan club of several thousand very nervous turkeys all vying to be "her chosen bird" and thus survive another year.

    ..and after 5000 years she has unwittingly changed the Kosher dietary rules by adding a third category -- feathered creatures to be kept separate.

    I wish you and your family a joyful Thanksgiving.

    Kol tuv [for the turkeys]

  5. Give me turkey or give ham!


  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. My diplowife came from the southern Chinese tradition which wrote the book on poultry. She and I regard various forms of chicken, duck, and goose to be among the deep and abiding bonds between us. Taiwanese saltwater duck is actually quite a treat, as is smoked chicken. If we ever seceded from my extended clan for a Thanksgiving of our own branch, we'd be sore tempted to put a few Cantonese roast ducks (or, perhaps, a whole roast pig) on the table.

    However, your mention of a seafood paella made my mouth water. There's a Cuban place not far from us that does a good one.

    And I sigh with sympathy about your sons' feelings. My eldest had a determined rebellion against the Chinese language that last from age 3 (when he first came to the States) to his college years. That, however, changed after he spent a summer in Taiwan and met the girl who would later become his wife.

    Have a very happy Thanksgiving, and should I not pop in tomorrow, a blessed Chanukah.

    1. Well, my daughter-in-law (Taiwanese, like her mother-in-law) did a pre-Thanksgiving turkey at chez Kepha. For the first time in years, I actually liked it. It wasn't dry as turkey usually is!

    2. Don't worry about the recipe so much, just the wine/butter/cheesecloth trick, and you'll NEVER have dry turkey again.


  8. Hope is the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul,
    And sings the tune without the words,
    And never stops at all,

    And sweetest in the gale is heard;
    And sore must be the storm
    That could abash the little bird
    That kept so many warm.

    I've heard it in the chillest land
    And on the strangest sea;
    Yet, never, in extremity,
    It asked a crumb of me.

    -- Emily Dickenson

  9. No guajolote? Well feliz dia de Pavo!

  10. An appropriate metaphor indeed! And a happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Mr. D.

  11. Happy Thanksgiving, Diplomad....we rejoice that our son finished his 12th tour in Afghanistan and is home with his family this Thanksgiving. Thank you for your blog. It makes me ponder, nod in agreement, and affirm with someone who has lived abroad and knows this country (and loves it) well.
    May God who watches over us all give you blessings of joy and grace and thankfulness tomorrow....

    1. Wow, wonderful news, ETR. Hope you all enjoyed Thanksgiving. Thanks so much for your son's service and safe return, and sharing your life's events. May God's winds be gentle and fair for you, and at your backs.

  12. ETR
    12 Tours? He's done more than his share.
    I'll bet you are immensely proud of him.
    Thanksgiving is not a holiday we celebrate but I wish you well of it.

  13. Happy Thanksgiving to All and God Bless Us Everyone!!!

    LibertyGrace'sGrandma (#13)

  14. I can empathize with Diplowife in a small way.....her feeling about fowl is the way I feel about sushi! Yuck....

    Thank you for your thoughts and stories throughout the year!

  15. On another subject--it appears the new Australian PM has managed to piss off the Chi Coms. Well done Mr. Prime Minister!

    1. G'day Whitewall,

      He's starting off well.

      The number of boats arriving from Indonesia carrying illegal immigrants [alleged asylum seekers] has been cut to next to nothing and those arriving found not to be genuine are being returned to their country of origin.

      He has axed the Climate Change Commission and put its con-man in chief out on his previously tax payer funded ear.

      Now he has stood up to China over their claims on the disputed Islands.

      Needless to say he has the "progressive" socialist luvvies in an absolute tizz. Some days it just keeps getting better.

      Hope your Thanksgiving went well.

    2. Good morning David. Thanksgiving went well at our humble shack. We invited some friends who are in their 80s and don't get out much anymore. The entire meal and afternoon had a grateful feel to it. Will do it next year too.

      I can just imagine the "progressive" luvvies frothing at the mouth :). I would love to see more of that here. Our time for collision is coming.

  16. By the way, a happy Chanukah to anyone who is (a) Jewish, (b) has Jewish friends, relatives, or neighbors, (c) has read the Apocrypha, (d) has read the Gospel of John (ch, 10), or (e) any combination of the above.

    I made it a point to dust off my copy of Goodspeed's translation of the Apocrypha and read First Maccabees. While I may not be at the armed resistance stage, it did remind me that there once were men who stood up for a great tradition against a tyrant who wished them to get with the program.

    1. G'day Kepha,

      Thank you for the Hannukah message.

      Chag urim sameach to you and your family

    2. "Atlas Shrugged" was written as a warning to America and not a "how to" for the Left. If push ever comes to shove, I have never been one to "get with the program", even after all these years. Greater things are at stake.

    3. It kinda works for both purposes, though, doesn't it? :-(

  17. This just in: Rumor has that several Las Vegas casinos have lost considerable sums of money this week. The prime suspects seem to be a family gang headed by a former FSO of the United Sates. They are considered quite dangerous and the public is advised to approach with extreme caution.
    Among details released to the public is the Putative head of this desperate bunch maybe driving a corvette with the bumper sticker "Nunca Plumas Siempre Paella" further details will be released upon receipt.

    1. Funny! A run for the border is my guess. Our host may do his blogging on the lam from now on.

    2. "A run for the border is my guess" Yes, continuing a reign of terror upon the placid citizens of this great land. Spreading truth and the love paella willy nilly without regard to the sensitivities to leftist, socialists, sissy men, and silly people everywhere.

  18. David from OZ: As William the Conqueror said when he found Don Quixote on his skinny nag Rosinante among his crowd of otherwise stalwart knights on their powerful chargers, Ma-nishtana ha-laylah ha-zeh m'kol halaylot?

    And thanks for the greetings.

  19. I always felt an especial responsibility to acculturate my sons as Americans while posted overseas, They are still third culture kids, but they grew up in an American home.

    The incumbent third culture kid is an abomination that bears this out. Did they even celebrate Thanksgiving when he was in Indonesia?

  20. LOL. Why the antipathy for feathers? That being said, paella is delicious!