The Golden Circlet

All the good things in life

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I love to dance. Dancing is more fun with a crowd, so I’m always trying to convince people to go dancing with me. It’s always kind of a task. Dancing, like singing — this basic, primal, human thing that people have done in all societies since the beginning of time — somehow got turned into this thing that you had to be a certain kind of person to be allowed to do: Young, probably female, definitely beautiful-looking, and with that particular nonchalant, sullen superiority that passes for hip in this broken country. I’m only one out of the four, and most of my friends are also acutely aware of where they fall short on the checklist. It’s a hard sell.

But I’m a great believer in what Morrie Schwartz called “create your own culture,” and I *do* love to dance, so I keep on selling. It’s gotten extra difficult since I moved to the middle of nowhere. Even if I can get willing partners, sometimes there’s nowhere to go. I’ll dance to anything with a beat, honestly, but part of getting people comfortable with dancing is going somewhere they feel comfortable, and the choices¬† are limited.

Yet, really, what’s not to love? A crowd of people all moving together, arms waving, feet stomping, colored lights flashing, music shaking your veins — if you don’t think about it too hard, you can rise right up off the floor and float until morning.

So I was excited when a friend invited me to a dance party at a quirky local museum. It was in honor of her friend’s birthday, and dancing was the main attraction in a night that also featured meditation, a powerpoint history of social justice, and a potluck. That’s how we do our revolutions in Northern New England in January. We brought the kids and danced to amazing West African music courtesy of Landaya. It was fun to watch the kids — at 10, the boy is on the cusp between heartless adolescent embarrassability and a child’s readiness to get down and boogie. Initially he was all frowns, but he told me later he simply wanted to see “what I was supposed to do.” When he concluded that “dancing is just like airbending” (and somehow telepathically communicated this to his friend), the two of them airbended their way up to the front and center and took it on down to the floor. Talk about rising right off of the ground.

I didn’t airbend — that I know of, anyway — but I did enjoy the music, lights, and being out with friends and family on a Friday night. And I can recommend it: So would you. Create your own culture. Go dancing. And invite me, next time you go.


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Silver and Gold Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving this year reminded me of this old camp song. We had two families over — the family of one of my very oldest friends, a woman I went to summer camp with when I was a kid, and some friends of theirs — an amazing art-music-geekery-thoughtfulness-activism-dancing family whom I hope will end up being our newest friends. It couldn’t have been more wonderful to spend the evening with all of them.

One problem that occurs when you invite generous people to dinner is food. Plenty of it. It’s a good problem to have on Thanksgiving!

We contributed:

  • A bread cornucopia (except we used homemade No-knead Challah dough rather than commercial breadsticks)
  • White bean and rosemary dip (based loosely off of this recipe) and salsa with chips
  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • Vegetarian and turkey gravy (we never even served the veggie gravy, because our friends brought their own)
  • Salad (which we then completely forgot even to serve)
  • No-knead challah drizzled with honey
  • Pumpkin packed with bread and cheese
  • Cauliflower cake
  • My husband’s famous and much coveted veggie pot pie
  • Homemade cranberry sauce (Our son made this, using the recipe off of the back of the cranberry bag, to which I suggested he add a chopped, unpeeled orange and a handful of chopped candied ginger, which makes a nice sauce).
  • Black olives, the ordinary kind, from a can, which is how I like them. I could eat the entire can, in fact.
  • Mini tartlets filled with coconut cream (Robin’s favorite) or lemon curd. (For the crusts, I just make Betty Crocker’s standard pie crust recipe, with butter substituted for lard. Do they even still publish this recipe with measurements for lard? They don’t online, but an old version of the cookbook will have it. I bake them at 350 for 20-25 minutes or so, in an assortment of sandbakkels tins from my grandma and some strange-shaped tartlet pans that my aunt handed me down to be playthings for my son when he was small. I don’t do anything fancy like use pie weights or prechill the dough. My tarts turn out misshapen, but who cares?)
  • A couple bottles of Clos du Bois Riesling (2007 and 2009, for those who care, which does not include me. I do like this Riesling OK, though)
  • Some “kid wine,” like so:

Then my old friends came, carting an amazing heater-cooler which plugs into the wall and does whatever you need it to do and would be awesome for a pop-up dinner party like this one. And they added:

  • Bumps on a log, cran-cream cheese and PB&raisin versions.
  • A “meat” pie made of seitan and mushrooms, which I haven’t even tried yet.
  • Green bean casserole
  • Veggie gravy
  • Homebrew IPA
  • A bottle of Bella Sera Pinot Grigio
  • A bottle of Rosenblum Cellars Zinfandel

Then our new friends came, and at this point I just rolled over and died laughing, because they brought:

  • A huge, beautiful local roast Vermont turkey
  • Another container of homemade cranberry sauce, which we didn’t even touch
  • Another container of gravy (at this point, with two different meat gravies and two different veggie gravies, I’m thinking we should bring out the shot glasses and have a gravy tasting)
  • Homemade rolls
  • Stuffing
  • A gorgeous, cranberry-topped cheesecake
  • 2 lovely pomegranates
  • And a whole bunch more wine and beer

The kids ate 6 tartlets a piece and screamed and jumped on the beds. We grownups sat around the table and yakked and yakked and ate and ate. It was ridiculous. It was epic. It was bountiful. A good time had by all.  I hope I know these people forever.