No Place Like Home

There used to be two ways to tell that Thanksgiving had come to Retirement Acres.

The first was the dulcet sound of Mr. V’s leaf blower, which he would crank at 6 am to make sure we didn’t sleep through a single second of the day.

That ended the year my brother went out (at 6 am.)(I know it looks like I might be overstating this point, but I want to get across that the sun is Not. Up. at 6 am on Thanksgiving.) in his boxer shorts to let Mr. V know that we were all wide awake now, thanks, and maybe he should take a look at that leaf blower because it seemed to be making a Really Loud Noise, but he would have to look at it in the garage as there was not yet enough light to see the inner works at this early hour.

And also did Mr V consider that while his family might not celebrate the arrival of the Great Pumpkin, many people in the neighborhood do and they like to wait until daylight to see what goodies he might have brought. To which Mr V responded that Halloween had already passed and my brother pointed out that at this hour it was almost impossible to tell.

Dads and spouses were dispatched to collect their respective debaters of holiday cheer, leaves were redistributed along a slightly different curve than both their original and current positions, an offer was made to bring ’round the police to help kick off the celebration; a good time was had by all. Officer Obie was prevailed upon to explain that while running a leaf blower at 6 am is generally a crime against humanity, it’s also a crime against the Retirement Acres noise statutes, but those same statutes also bar public nudity, so why didn’t we call it a draw.

The other way to tell Thanksgiving has arrived, of course, is the Macy’s Parade.

Guess which one still gets talked about.

But I digress with this meandering discussion of Thanksgivings past. We now have a third, unanticipated, harbinger of Turkey Day.

I believe I have mentioned before that Retirement Acres is quite beset with wildlife. Along with the foxes, coyotes, and demon-spawned cats, we also have a number of wild birds. Hawks and ravens are common. So are wild turkeys. (This is Tennessee, so don’t wait for me to make a bourbon joke.)(because Wild Turkey is a Kentucky product.). Flocks of them waffle majestically across roads and over back porches, many times catching the residents of Retirement Acres off guard. They are also commonly mistaken for vultures, especially if one is perhaps advanced in years and not expecting to find a bird with a more than three foot wingspan at eye level on one’s deck rail.

“Discombobulating” is often used as a description.

“What the hell” is also popular.

“Where is my rifle” has caught on lately.

“Are they reporting to that damn cat” is less common, except from certain among the neighborhood handymen.

This year, the good sleeping people of Retirement Acres were greeted by a new sound.


The sound bounced off the frosty roofs over the heads of wives hauling yet another casserole from ovens which had been in constant use for nigh on forty-eight hours.


This more insistent howl was heard by men collecting the newspaper, which must weigh thirty pounds with all those sales ads in it. Maybe nobody would notice if they just put some in the….

“That better not have been the Dillard’s ad!” rang out from more than one backdoor. Dillard’s ads were duly retrieved, with much muttering.

“AAAAAARRRRRRROOOO!!RRROOOOOO! AARRROOOOOOOOOOOOO!” pealed a third time, echoing off the otherwise silent hills.

“Coffee?” Dad offered. “Get out of the way.” This was addressed to my brother, who was sampling the bacon Mom had prepared last night.

“I thought y’all weren’t going to get here until after 10,” I said. “You were going to run the Turkey Trot.”

“We still are. I stopped by here for the bacon.”

“No, thank you,” I answered Dad. “But if there’s hot water…?”

“There is, but Mom hid the rum. So it’s plain hot chocolate or coffee roasted in old whiskey barrels. It’s up to you.”

“What is that noise? I thought Mr. V’s leaf blower got stolen last year in that crime spree.”

Technically it was a crime spree, although when all was said and done, the only items in the neighborhood that proved to be missing were Mr V’s leaf blower and the stereo out of the car of the junior delinquent across the street. Mrs. Canapé’s hearing aid batteries were located under the dishwasher, having been thoughtfully relocated there by her spiteful cat. It was thoughtful because he also chewed through the water line leading to the dishwasher, thus allowing the batteries to be washed out when the kitchen flooded.

“And who called?”

“That was Mr Glenn,” Dad explained as the front door slammed behind my brother and a handful of bacon now headed downtown. “He wanted to know if we had turkeys on the deck.”

“Is drinking the coffee going to make you sound less like you’re having a stroke?” It didn’t matter. My grandfather was here; Dad was drinking straight from the coffee pot. The rum might be hidden, but the NyQuil sure wasn’t.

“He had turkeys on his deck this morning. Bruce has been channeling his inner Paul Revere.”

“Gimme that pot.”

“Warning everyone of the inherent danger of approaching turkeys,” Dad clarified. “The pot is empty.”

“That’s…he’s quieter than Mr V, I guess,” I conceded.

“That’s not why Glenn called.”

“He didn’t call to apologize?”

“He called to ask if Mom makes her own gravy, because that’s the only thing Bruce will accept on turkey.”

“He *caught* one?” This was an alarming turn of events.

“No,” Dad scoffed, digging under a cabinet for more….sure. Coffee. “He ran like a bunny. He’s hiding out with the ninja cats in the Jeep until Mr Glenn shoos the turkeys away.”

Welcome to the holidays in Retirement Acres, folks. May all your leaf blowers start after 10.


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