I get a little teary on Derby Day

I have just had the BEST afternoon.  To start, it’s a beautiful spring day.  John is in the recording studio with his band, hopefully having a good time.  I went for a run right after he left.  Temps were in the low 50s, and I did a respectable distance at a respectable pace.  Lovely scenery, which I was able to enjoy because I wasn’t pushing myself, and I found purple flowers blooming and I was listening to a fascinating podcast – all good.   I came home and made tortilla pinwheels for tomorrow’s SWV NOW potluck: cream cheese, sour cream, shredded cheese, green chiles, green onions, and a little garlic.  SO GOOD.  And so done and ready for tomorrow.

Run: good, chore: done.  Let’s not forget it’s Derby Day, so after I showered, I went to Steelhead to watch the race. They had NBC coverage on half the TVs, but they told me they only turn the sound up for Oregon Ducks games, so I left.  Next stop was a sports bar a couple of blocks away that I’ve never been to.  It was practically empty, and the bartender changed the channel to the Derby on four or five TVs and turned the sound up, and I was happy.

They were out of mint, so I ordered champagne.  Corey said I should go fancy and order a French 75, but this place was decidedly not fancy.  I didn’t chance it.

Me and my champagne

I had a wonderful time watching the race while texting with Mel and Corey (and Christine by proxy).  My horse (McCraken, chosen because he was the prettiest) didn’t win, but that’s true every year.

Text conversation with John:

Me: My horse did not win.

Him: To be fair, Tigger wasn’t in the race.

I left the bar after the lady with the antenna on her helmet interviewed the winning jockey while riding alongside and cut through 5th Street Market with a vague idea of buying myself a rose from Rhythm and Blooms.  They didn’t have any roses (out – I’m sure they have roses), so I kept walking and hey, there was a wine tasting table set up. Wine tastings always appeal to me, but especially after two glasses of champagne, so I stopped, tried the wine, LOVED the zinfandel (which I bought), and had a nice conversation about running with the woman in charge of the tasting.

It’s still a beautiful day, and when John gets home, we’re going to take a leisurely bike ride so I can show him the purple flowers I found.  Then dinner.

VOLT

We had two reasons for going to PA and MD this time:

  1. Meet our new nephew, Graham!  This was supposed to be the first time we met the baby.  That was before the funeral trip, which, obviously, was unplanned, but since everyone was there, we met him in October instead.  Still, the tickets were booked and it cost more to move them to Christmas (or to just cancel and keep them as a credit) than it did to keep them and make the trip anyway.  Plus, we had reason #2.
  2. Celebrate John’s parents’ 40th wedding anniversary!  Their anniversary is the 20th, but we took the opportunity of coming into town to see the baby to get the whole family in one place and take John VII and Pat out to dinner.

We weren’t really sure just what we were going to do to celebrate at first – big family party?  small family party?  dinner out? – but then Emily had the brilliant (and very expensive) idea of taking them out to dinner at best restaurant in Frederick, MD: Volt.  She and Sean had been once, and they’ve been raving about it ever since.  She booked the nine of us (plus Graham) into a private room, and let me tell you – I have never felt so fancy.  The restaurant is in an old mansion in downtown Frederick.  The decor is pretty modern, but the room we were in was the conservatory, with a bay window at the end, and big windows along both sides looking into the garden.  The room was just big enough for us and the full staff serving us.  Seriously, every time they brought in a new course, five waitstaff came in at once and served us at the same time.  It was like synchronized swimming.  Synchronized service.  Very cool, very fancy.

Special menus were printed with “Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad” and their wedding date on them.  We had a four-course meal, with three choices per course.  I couldn’t tell you everything that was on the menu, but I can tell you what had.

  • Garlic: tom cove clams, black garlic, onion blossoms.  It was a soup, and it was SO FREAKIN’ GOOD.
  • Goat cheese scarpinocc: chicken of the woods mushroom, spinach, honey vinegar.  Little bitty filled pasta, and this was even better than the soup.
  • Lamb loin: mushroom oatmeal, maitake caramel, wax beans.  Also very very good, but the little bitty pasta was better.
  • Mini apple tart: maple ice cream, confiture de lait, ginger, rosemary.  By far the disappointment of the meal.  I mean, it was fine, but it wasn’t up to the standards of the first three courses.

Tiny portions, but plenty of food.  I would definitely eat there again, but I’ll have to save up for a while.  Graham cooperated by sleeping through most of the meal and letting Sean feed him when he woke up.  No crying, even though we were in a sound-proofed room, so if ever there was a time for a baby to cry in a restaurant, this was it.

We all look demonic in the one picture I have of the group of us at the restaurant, so you don’t get to see that unless you look for pictures I’m tagged in on Instagram.  Or go to Facebook.  Everyone in the family has probably posted a picture or two there. Pictures of the baby tomorrow!

I don’t really feel like it

I don’t have much to say, but I feel like I’ve been MIA a lot this past week, and I don’t like that feeling.  We’re on Long Island for the funeral of John’s cousin Kerri’s husband, and we spent the entire day yesterday at a funeral home for a very emotional wake.  Lots of people, lots of tears.  The burial is this morning (Monday), followed by lunch with the family (I think), and then John and I will spend the evening with his parents, hopefully discussing happier things.

Then back home to Oregon.

We met Emily and Sean’s new baby boy yesterday (SO cute at nearly 6 weeks old), who fell asleep in my arms during breakfast.  That was maybe the best part of the day.  They went home last night, though, so I don’t have that to look forward to today.

St. Patrick’s Day festivities

Our St. Patrick’s Day festivities are days late and did not include drinking.  We’re not very good partial (or fake) Irish people.  I am wearing green, though.

Corned beef and cabbage for lunch, plus a good luck cake for our trip out west.

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We’re completely stuffed from that, but I really want the tres leches cake I know is waiting in the fridge.  We’ll just skip dinner and eat cake.  Later.  Much later.

I ran out to the hardware store to make a copy of our storage unit key for Emily and Sean, and when I came back, I found two thirds of the family asleep in the living room.

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We might not make it to the next round of cake.  That would probably be okay.  Except not.  It’s really good cake.

When you’re right, you’re right

Mel has been on a roll lately.  Last fall, she insisted we create a Pandora station seeded only with Electric Light Orchestra, and you know?  It’s my favorite Pandora station.  It’s SO good.  Then last week (just a few days ago?), she told me about a trilogy she’d gotten sucked into that surely I knew about already, but if I didn’t, I had to read it.  Again, she’s on top of it.  I downloaded the first book and read it in about 24 hours.  Couldn’t put it down (Brilliance by Marcus Sakey), and I’ve already started the second book.

What’s next?  I’m all ears.

We’re not nice people

It’s Christmas Eve and everyone is here.  We’ve started drinking, we’re working on our ugly sweaters (or t-shirts, for some of us), and games (Munchkin, maybe, probably Taboo, almost certainly Bananagrams – we know how to party) and a contest are coming up.  We’re expecting a lovely Christmas Eve, at least partially because a certain someone has decided she’s not feeling well and has gone off to bed.  Poor thing.  Guess the rest of us will have to make merry without her.  We’ll manage somehow.

I’ve been banned from the basement for the time being.  I think Molly is wrapping my present.  The making of the Beef Wellington (by John and his mother) is imminent.  We’re very excited.  But if they’re busy in the kitchen, and I’m not allowed to hang out in the basement, I might have a few minutes’ quiet.  “Quiet”, I should say.  Christmas music is blasting, and there’s plenty of good-natured shouting (followed by shushing) going on.

Oops, I’ve been summoned to help Emily with something.  And I have to change the song – it’s that depressing Peanuts one.

 

Extended family

The other night, we went to a family party on Long Island, and I got to meet some relatives of John’s that I’ve only heard of and another dozen no one has ever mentioned to me.  Some of them were totally normal, some of them were a little nuts, and I only wanted to fight one of them.  She’s a Trump supporter (“Government should be run like a business, and he’s a brilliant businessman!”), and she turned a perfectly civil conversation into a contentious argument.  I bit my tongue and backed out.  I’m not going to have a political argument with one of my mother-in-law’s cousins, certainly not at a holiday party/family reunion.  I can’t be that in-law.  I did find unlikely allies in two of John’s uncles.  I knew there was a reason I liked them.

It has begun

It’s a misty day in PA.  John’s parents live on top of a ridge, so the view out the back of the house is of treetops shrouded in fog.  Not very many treetops, though – visibility is so low we can’t see very far.

We’re about to head to Long Island for the afternoon and evening.  We’ll visit John’s grandmother and then go to a party to see some cousins no one has talked to in years and some other cousins we see all the time (where all the time = once a year).  Probably have another late night (got to bed about 1am Monday night), and then tomorrow everyone else is supposed to arrive.  Christmas is here.  I have proof.  Photographic evidence.

Tree 1:

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Tree 2:IMG_20151222_125351

It doesn’t get much Christmasier than that.

Please bother me with trivialities

My brain is stuffed with trivia.  It’s not just me – Corey and Mel have movie and music trivia down (I’m not bad those, but not great), Christine knows the Greek alphabet and can rattle off all prepositions (we don’t know WHY, but she can), I can name all the states in alphabetical order (A through L – I get stuck at the Ms.  There are so many!), and Mom and Dad can come up with all KINDS of crap.

There’s plenty of demand for trivia this weekend, what with the crossword puzzles, Songburst, and THREE versions of Trivial Pursuit in the house.  We’re the right people for the job.  Even if we all blank on the occasional question.  It’s cheating to use Google, but sometimes we can’t help ourselves. Google knows all, and we need confirmation.  What did people do before Google?

Awash in noise

Sometimes there’s SO much happening, SO many people talking, SO many dogs barking and howling and running around, that I can’t process it.  On Thanksgiving, we had nine adults and four dogs around the table.  The noise level was surprisingly easy to handle, probably because the dogs were quietly waiting under the table for scraps.  In contrast, Mom got back from the store a little bit ago and was greeted by four barking dogs and three people milling in the kitchen (Corey, Mindy, Christine, all waiting to start the dinner prep).  The rumor is we’re expecting two more people (and possibly their two dogs) tonight, making the minor turmoil when Mom walked in just now a prelude to who knows what kind of chaos tonight.  It’s not bad, not overwhelming in any negative sense.  It’s just…loud.  The noise surrounds me, stops making sense.  It takes focus to figure it all out again.  The football game in the background (UofL/UK) adds to the confusion.

All this activity drives home how quietly John and I live.  The TV is only on when we’re actually watching it, and since it’s just us, there’s nothing else going on in the apartment.  When we’re working, we’re pretty quiet unless we’re on the phone for work, and we use headphones if we’re going to listen to music. We almost never have people over (and more often than not, it’s just Jess, so we’re only three), so we never have more than one conversation going on at the same time, no cross-chatter.  It’s quiet.

Everything I’ve just written doesn’t mean I don’t LIKE the noise.  I do.  These are my people, and we’re having a good time.  It’s good noise.  So if I go blank for a minute, don’t worry about me.

Is it home yet?

We’re back from Kentucky and a successful surprise party for Corey to celebrate his 40th birthday (very late – it was in July) AND his successful bar exam results.  Corey is an actual honest-to-god lawyer now!  Well, he will be when he gets sworn in, which I think happens tomorrow (Wednesday).  He’s got business cards and everything.  (You can’t call yourself a lawyer without business cards.)

It was a good visit (and I’ll be going back soon), and it was both good and super strange to come back to Annapolis from there.  On the one hand, it felt like coming home.  It’s familiar (BWI, the main roads – we’ve lived in the area for a LONG time), our stuff is here, the weather was super-nice (that always helps a homecoming feel good), that sort of thing.  But on the other hand, we’ve only lived here for 7 weeks.  Just how homey can it be?  And on the OTHER hand, does it need to feel like home?  We’re basically itinerants now.

We missed the torrential rain from the hurricane (since we were in KY), but it definitely came through the ceiling again.  The bowl we left behind was half-full. And the toilet has started leaking again.  One of the bathmats was soaked from the end near the toilet to about halfway across the sink.  Our landlady says there’s a window leaking on the third floor (she’s waiting for the replacement window to arrive), and she’s calling the guy about the toilet.  So maybe that stuff will get resolved.

Other than that, the apartment is in good shape.

We got home around 4:30, unpacked, picked up a little, and then went out to eat.  We picked another good one this time.  Vida (on Main Street) is a taco place, local food, and really good.  Yummy guacamole and really interesting tacos.  They have traditional ones (carne asada, avocado, that kind of thing) and non-traditional ones (ahi with kimchi, pulled pork, etc).  SO good!  And when they brought the check, they brought little hot hand towels doused in lavender water for our sticky hands.  (Oh, the margaritas were really good, too.)  AND today is Tuesday (Taco Tuesday), so we got 20% off the bill.  I’m happy.  We’ll go back.

All the memories came flooding back

Last night, we went to a high school football game for the first since high school (I think).  (We lived two blocks from a high school with one of the best football teams in the state for ten years – NEVER went to a game.)  Sean is one of the coaches, and last night’s game was against their big rival, and (nicely for us and them), they won.

It was both super-strange and VERY familiar.  John and I didn’t get there until the second half (we were parking the car as the marching band marched off the field (to my disappointment)), but one half of a football game was plenty (for a number of reasons).  The view, the smells, the students, the parents – I only went to football games because I was in the marching band and I HAD to go, but I went to every football game in high school (the home games, anyway – I don’t think the band went to away games), and it was ALL familiar.  It was neat, but although there was a little nostalgia (I really enjoyed marching band), I’ve never liked football, and I’m in no hurry to re-live high school.  This will not become a regular thing.

It was kind of fun to sit with Emily and compare notes about how little we both know about the sport.  Who has the ball?  What are they doing now?  Ooh, that looked painful.  Is that allowed?

I’m not even going to get into how they must be recruiting from elementary school.  Surely those kids aren’t in high school?

I’m old.

A big welcome

Molly moved to DC a few days ago.  How happy was DC to have her?  So happy they threw a parade in her honor!  Or, coincidentally, the day we headed downtown to hang out with her also happened to be the day of the DC Gay Pride Parade!  Which was totally awesome.  We had to park 8 or so blocks away from her apartment (street closures), but that meant we could follow the parade route to her block, cheering and dancing the whole way.  (Well, I was.  John is not the dancing-at-parades type.)  And then, to our surprise, we followed the parade route ONTO her block, right past her front door.  But where was Molly?  Not on the stoop with her neighbors, whooping it up like any self-respecting young woman in her 20s.  No, she was napping and had NO idea any of this was going on right outside her front door.  In her defense, her apartment is on the back side of the building, and she swears that when she came back after a run to the store at 3:30, there was no sign that a parade was about to come through.

We gathered her up and followed the parade all the way to the circle (more dancing and cheering from us, of course, and I will admit to choking up a few times from the outpouring of love and support – it was great), and then veered off to find dinner, assuming (correctly) that we wouldn’t have too much trouble getting in someplace while the parade was still going on.

Dinner (French) was delicious.  All three of us had mussels – LOVE mussels.  We had another drink at a bar with a game theme (we played Scattergories), and then we headed home (after making sure Molly could find her back to her apartment – she’s a bit directionally-challenged).  Bed finally at 2am, and we slept until 10:30 Sunday morning.  I am not a young woman in my 20s.

Too much fun was had by all

I am SO tired.  No, really.  Seriously very tired.  Like, beyond tired.  So tired I can’t use any other words to describe how tired I am.  It was worth it, though.  John and I got back from a quick trip to Kentucky today.  Very little sleeping occurred.  We got up stupid early to get to the airport Friday morning, drove to Baltimore, flew to Kentucky.  Had a VERY good brunch with Mom and Dad (scrambled eggs with goat cheese, wild mushrooms, garlic, and truffle oil – holy hell that was good), hung out at home with them for a while (I wish I could remember what story John was telling that he had to pause so Dad could finish laughing), and then surprised Gaby at her bus stop (with Candy) and had a snack with the two of them before going back home for dinner with Min, Mom, and Dad.  Ate GIANT steaks (and my first Brussels sprout EVER), and then we (me, Min, and John) went out to meet Corey for a couple of beers.  Got the whole family in over the course of the day – it’s like collecting points.  We were out late-ish – went to bed around 1:30, but that made it a VERY long day.  Saturday was just as bad (worse?) for sleeping, but if I had slept more, I would have missed time at home.  Not acceptable.  Min came over early afternoon, and the five us played a very loud, very long, and very profane game of Ticket to Ride: Europe.  It was awesome.  Then some guitar-playing and singing (Corey and Christine were there by then), never to be missed, a delicious dinner, and several rounds of pool in the basement (I almost won one game) until around midnight.  Up before 6am to get back to the airport and THAT’S why I’m so tired.

We should have stopped at the store before we got home.  Silly me thought we’d go back out.  Don’t know what I was thinking.  We are in for the night.  At 2pm.  Since 11:30am, actually.

Same old

It’s that time again: time to pick a new book.  But it’s bedtme and I’m sleepy, so I’m going to put it off until tomorrow.  Which really means tomorrow after work.  Why do I even want to put it off?  I certainly don’t want to NOT read something.

I have made this complaint before.  No more.

Hey, my company offered Molly the job she interviewed for, and she’s accepting it!  That’ll be interesting.  Good, but interesting.  More to come as the story unfolds.  Or however that goes.

You know what’s cool?  My keyboard.  It lights up.  See?

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Yeah, that’s a great picture.  I’m on a roll tonight.  I should definitely keep writing random stuff and then trailing off without any attempt to make it interesting.  Yup.  That’s what I should do.

Oh, wait!  I know what I’m reading next.  Finally, I have purpose!  Energy renewed, off to start a new book.  (Is this my process?  Kind of irritating.  Thanks for wading it through it!)

I like games

Because John’s family knows us so well, we got two copies of the game Geek Out for Christmas.  It seems silly to own it twice, so after playing Lords of Waterdeep with Jess and Chuck on New Year’s Eve (good game, lots of fun), we decided to exchange a redundant Geek Out for that one.

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Well, we haven’t done it yet, but if we make it to the mall soon, we will.  At least a decision was made.  Margaret, when you decide to start your LARPing career, you should aim for the scary dark-elf-type person on the right for your first costume.  I don’t know who she is, but she looks like she could kick some ass.

We haven’t played Geek Out yet, but it’s a trivia game (that can also be played by two people), so maybe we’ll give it a try this weekend.

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Earning it

An early Thanksgiving report:

I’m trying to earn my Thanksgiving dinner.  Molly and I ran our own private 5K this morning.  I inadvertantly made it harder by suggesting we take that turn over there.  Yeah, so we went downhill.  A lot.  Steeply.  The only way back was to climb up.  So our thighs were burning, but maybe that means less stuffing will stick to them.  Then I helped Sean shovel a neighbor’s driveway (they’re out of town), so that counts as a good deed AND more calories burned (big driveway and wet snow).  I feel virtuous.  OH, and then I ran to the store for my mother-in-law to get bread and ice.  I would like to win Daughter-In-Law Of The Year again.

Bring on the turkey and stuffing and green bean casserole and sweet potatoes, please.  I’m ready.

Balloons are fantastic

Birthday balloons!

These are from my team.  They arrived shortly after I got in this morning.  Then they sang Happy Birthday (they were goaded into it by someone walking by).  Then they took me to lunch (and told the waiters it was my birthday, so there was more singing) where I had to deal with this indignity:

Don’t ask what’s wrong with my face. It got stuck that way.

Then I got back from my lunch and was greeted with these:

After much confusion (the card only said “Surprise!”) and many texts, Mom finally admitted to sending them.  So I’ve got LOTS of balloons.  Mom’s are coming home with me.  I’ll probably take my work ones home tomorrow.

I think my favorite rendition of Happy Birthday so far was Gaby and Corey’s (sorry, Dad – yours is classic (for us), but hers is cuter).  It comes complete with cha-cha-chas at the end of every line.

It’s been a really nice birthday so far.  I think I’m going to have to reschedule my birthday dinner for another night, though.  I’m completely stuffed from lunch, and I really want lots of Indian food.  I don’t have it in me to enjoy that tonight.  But hey – that means more birthday time for me!

Audible gasps from all around, seriously

A couple of weeks ago, our good friend Chuck retired after 30 years in the navy.  It was a really nice ceremony all the way through, but the best part came at the end.  One of his fellow master chiefs stood up to read The Watch (as you do).  It’s sentimental to begin with, but for the most part, it’s like listening to the readings by family members at a wedding.  The readings are nice, and the words are heartfelt (you hope), but you’ve heard them before.

The master chief was introduced, but she bowed out, saying someone more appropriate was going to read it.  Chuck’s son, a brand new seaman apprentice, two weeks out of boot camp, appeared from behind the enormous American flag hanging from the ceiling.  Chuck was taken completely by surprise and choked up immediately.  Cody began to read.

The Watch (with minor adjustments made by Chuck):

For thirty years, this shipmate has stood the watch.
While some of us were in our racks at night, this shipmate stood the watch.
While some of us were in school learning our trade, this shipmate stood the watch.
Yes, even before some of us were born into this world, this shipmate stood the watch.
In these many years as war has been waged against us, and as our nation sacrifices blood and treasure, this shipmate stood the watch.
Many times he would cast an eye ashore and see his family standing there, needing his help during those hard times, and yet he stood the watch.
For thirty years, he stood the watch so that we, our families, and our fellow countrymen could sleep soundly in safety each and every night, knowing that a sailor stood the watch.
Today we are here to say, “Command Master Chief, the watch stands relieved, relieved by those you have trained, guided, and led.  Shipmate, you stand relieved.  We have the watch.”

Now read those last couple of sentence again, with one minor adjustment, knowing that Cody is his father’s son.

“Command Master Chief, the watch stands relieved, relieved by those you have trained, guided, and led.  Shipmate, you stand relieved.”  Then he paused, looked up at his dad, and said, “Dad, I have the watch.”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  In fact, I’m tearing up just thinking about it. That kid’s good.

Gobble gobble giggle

The turkey is stuffed and in the oven, the leftover stuffing is in a pan, the sweet potatoes are in a car on their way here, the cranberries were accidentally left in PA, and the other stuff (mashed potatoes and green bean casserole) can wait until later.  John and I have spent the morning in the kitchen with oldies on Pandora for food prep.  Now that we’re in clean-up mode, we’ve moved on to 80s pop.  It’s been fun.  Only sad part?  It’s not really cold enough for a fire.  Maybe at pie time.  (Well, that’s not the only sad part, but who wants to get serious now?  Miss you, family of mine!)

Happy Turkey Day!