We had a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, including being back in the house, the weather cooling off, and the fact that I managed to successfully make oyster cornbread dressing for the first time without ruining a $22 pint of local oysters.
A Long Pause
Those of you who have been reading our blog for a while might recall that we arrived in Eastpoint in January. With my parents in assisted living in Jacksonville near my sister, our intention was to clear out and prepare their home to put it on the market in late March. One week before we were ready to pull out of the driveway, the pandemic stepped in and put a halt to our travels.
The next few months were a blur, with my father’s passing in early May and our decision to renovate the house in the dog days of a Florida summer. It was painful, all of it.
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After living in the trailer during the hellacious summer of remodeling, we moved back into the house in October, with minor details requiring the help of contractors dragging on for the next eight weeks. We have almost recovered from the trauma we inflicted on ourselves. I wish I had kept a few of the holiday decorations we came across in our archeological dig. But who would have thought way back last March that we would STILL be here in December?
Enjoying The Fruits Of Our Labors
Now that the remodel is done, we are enjoying the serenity, light, and spaciousness of the house. Although it’s only a 1600 square foot home, it feels enormous after living in our 27-foot trailer for more than seven years. We’ve even left two of the bedrooms empty. It’s hard to conceive of needing that much space.
Furnishing the house was an interesting project during the pandemic, with all of our shopping done online. Sadly, we were only able to salvage a couple of items of furniture from my folks’ house. Almost everything else came from Wayfair, which is a great resource, but a vortex of options. If you’ve ever bought anything from Wayfair, you know what I’m talking about. Even with putting in every parameter possible, I was still presented with at least 500 choices in end tables or anything else I was searching for. I hope I’m done with shopping for a good long time.
We’ve kept things simple because we’re still intending to put the house on the market. The longer we’re here, the harder it is to think of leaving, though. I suspect it’s equal parts of loving it here, needing to recover from a long hard year, and inertia.
Fall In North Florida
Adding greatly to our current enjoyment is the fact that the weather finally cooled off in October. Summer was atrocious. But fall in North Florida is grand. The landscape is alive with color and sound. Scores of butterflies and dragonflies float by, birds strip berries from the bushes and herons fish from the dock, dolphins play in the bay, lizards skitter through the leaves, and a frog chorus rises from the marsh every night.
And we have friends, and that makes everything better. We’ve been enjoying kayaking, happy hours, and dinners with our fulltime traveling buddies Shannon and Ken, who’ve been stranded here since January, too. They’re using their time to build a home on St. George Island, just across the bridge. And on our daily walks and bike rides in the neighborhood, we’ve made several new friends with whom we have a lot in common.
We only socialize with people who are as careful as we are, and only on the screened porch. Which is kind of a bummer, considering that we have a house that’s all fixed up. But the porch is wonderful, and we feel extremely fortunate that the Florida winter will allow us to socialize outdoors.
A Thanksgiving Cooking Project
Being here in the oyster capital of Florida, I got the idea that I wanted oyster cornbread dressing for Thanksgiving and couldn’t get it out of my head. This was a project, making the cornbread from scratch and being afraid of ruining the oysters. But it turned out great! I had some for breakfast today, LOL.
If you should ever get a craving for the same, try this recipe for the cornbread and this recipe for the oyster dressing. (I eat gluten-free, so I subbed almond flour for the regular flour in the cornbread recipe, and used all cornbread in the dressing instead of a mixture of bread and cornbread. I cut the cornbread into small cubes instead of crumbling it. Oh, and add dried thyme to the dressing. And sage, if you like.)
We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, in whatever form it took in these fraught times. Stay well, dear ones. OX