And that means NaNoWriMo is over and life will assume some normal routine that doesn\’t depend on writing four thousand words a day to \”Catch up.\” Finished the thing, with about sixty five thousand words when all was said and done. Does it need work? You betcha. Lots. But not until January.

But for your reading pleasure, here\’s a short exerpt:

“Can you tell me how much longer the turkey has until it’s done?” Maura sighed, a long, loud, self-pitying sigh. “Your father used to cook the turkey. I never did learn how.”

“Well, I usually just read the directions and I do allright,” Jane said as she walked over to the oven and took the orange and brown turkey-shaped oven mitts off the counter. She slipped them on her hand and saw Caleb coming into the kitchen. “Gobble gobble,” she said, using the mitts as puppets. Caleb laughed.

“You go on back to the kids room, Caleb. There’s hot stuff in here and I wouldn’t want to you get hurt.” Maura warned.

“I want the toy-key puppet,” Caleb said. He held out his arms to Jane.

“The turkeys have to work right now. They can come to the playroom and visit when they get home from work.” Jane smiled as she said it.

“You can’t give those to him to play with. They’re oven mitts. We’ll need them after dinner for the pies.” Maura shook her head, clearly exasperated. “When you’re a mother you’ll understand these things.”

“Funny, nothing I learned in college biology classes told me that pregnancy causes the control freak hormone to gush out of control,” Jane muttered under her breath. “They’re just oven mitts, Mom, he can’t hurt them. Even if he did, we got them at Wal-mart. You could get an exact duplicate tomorrow for half price.”

“I shouldn’t have to pay any price, since I already have them here.”

Clint said nothing during this entire exchange. He was programming phone numbers into his new cell phone and whistling whenever the voices around him grew louder.

Jane pulled the turkey out of the oven and uncovered it. She stabbed it in the thight with the meat thermometer and waited for the red needle to creep up to the internal temperature. Still lacking a hundred degrees. She recovered the pan and shoved the whole rack back into the oven, then adjusted the temperature slightly higher.

“Your father always cooked the turkey at 300. Turn it back down,” Maura ordered.
Jane looked at Lisa for help. “Dad also started cooking at five am. We started at ten. Unless I turn this thing up a bit, we’ll have a few more days until dinner.”

“It’ll be fine, Mom,” Lisa said. “The kids and Clint are getting hungry.”

“Would you rather we hurry it up, Clint?” Maura asked.

Clint’s eyes went to his wife’s face, then back to Maura. “Yes, ma’am. I’m starving. Lisa wouldn’t let any of us eat anything all day, said we’d spoil our appetitites.”

Lisa smiled her approval.

Maura hurried over the the golden yellow side by side refrigerator. “Here,” she said as she opened the right hand door and pulled out an enormous tray. “I made this to snack on while we waited.”

Snack on? Jane thought, Three families could feast on this alone. There were heaping mounds of brocoli, cauliflower, black olives, green olives, midget dill gherkins and sweet midget gherkins. A bowl of ranch dressing sat in the center. Each section was separated from the others by stalks of celery and sticks of carrot. Jane picked up a carrot and dipped it into the dressing.

“Jane, that’s not fat-free dressing.” Maura said. Her left eyebrow arched slightly.
“I know, I don’t eat fat-free,” Jane said. She put the carrot in her mouth and let the creamy sour cream based dip melt on her tongue.

“I’m just saying maybe you should think about it. You had a little pouch on your tummy the last time you wore those black slacks. You’re not some twenty year old kid anymore. You need to start watching.” Maura took an olive an popped it into her mouth.

There was something wrong about being lectured about diet by someone with diabetes who has the shape of an Idaho baking potato. Raw, not after it’s been turned into French Fries, or as Maura now called them, Freedom Fries. Her postition as the Social Secretary for the Republican Women’s group made it important that she stood strong on important issues. Like what to call fast food. Normally, Jane would let it roll off her back more, then later, she’d have a beer with her dad and they would compare all the snappy comebacks they would have said if they weren’t so diplomatic. Without Dad around to release the pressure valve later, Jane was starting to wonder what would happen if some of her thoughts actually leaked out of her head. For sure, she would be demoted from the grownup table in the dining room to the children’s table in the kitchen. The problem was, Jane was starting to think it would be a good thing.

“So, Jane,” Clint said, “How are things in dodge ball land?”

“Silly, Clint, she can’t teach dodge ball anymore. Too violent.” Lisa said, rubbing Clint’s balding head.

“I could, if I found away to connect it to the standardized tests. I think dodge ball and No Child Left Behind are made for each other, myself.” Jane said.

“Hey, we finally agree on something political! Who’d guessed?” Clint smiled.

“You’re right. Both are barbaric, based on old ways of thinking.”

“Whoa, that’s not what I meant…” Clint stammered.

“I think we should leave politics and religion out of Thankgiving,” Maura said.
“Neither one belongs on a family holiday.”

Lisa and Jane looked at each other. Every now and then, Lisa showed signs of seeing the insanity that emitted from Maura’s mouth. Lisa grinned. “Ok, no God and country will be mentioned any more today. What about grace?”

“Who’s Grace?” Maura asked. “I can put out another place.”