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    For Thanksgiving my family and our new dog piled into the car and drove to Reno to visit relatives. If you are not from around here, allow me to explain a few things about Reno.

    Reno is between California (God’s country) and the black hole that is the rest of northern Nevada. Reno is sort of like God’s taint.

    We checked into the only hotel in the area that allowed dogs, and discovered we had to give up a few luxuries. For example, I assume the carpets were not always black. I tried to fashion my own stilts with duct tape and chopsticks, but that didn’t work out. Plan B involved concentrating real hard to see if I could hover above the floor the way I sometimes do in dreams. Unfortunately that superpower hasn’t kicked in yet. I realize that sounds insane, but the only difference between insanity and optimism is luck. And I was feeling lucky. Don’t judge me.

    A sentence you rarely hear from kids at the higher end hotels is “I just got under the covers and now I have bites all over my legs.” Luckily I came prepared with some cortisone cream and some lies about the Reno air drying out your skin. Evidently our blood was so full of turkey triptothan that the attackers dozed off after the initial offensive. Problem solved.

    I had more than usual to be thankful about this Thanksgiving. My recent surgery fixed my speech problem after 3.5 years of spasmodic dysphonia. During those years I dreaded every human contact. Simple tasks, such as ordering a meal at a restaurant, or making a phone call, were beyond my powers. This was the first social gathering since 2005 in which I could speak normally. I am a ghost who got a second chance among the living, and for that I am thankful beyond measure.

    And I am joking about the hotel. It was clean and perfectly adequate. But Reno is still a taint.

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