Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ho Ho Ho and a Bah Humbug

Just when you feel it's safe to feel all warm and cozy about the approaching holiday, some scumbag comes along and ruins it for you.

It was a lovely day. My writing group hadn't been together since before Jeri's wedding, for various and sundry reasons, so Joan decided to get us all together for a holiday party. It was just wonderful to see them again. I haven't been part of this group for very long, and I am (by far) the "baby" of the group, but they are beautiful, intelligent, interesting women and I always enjoy my time with them. Joan had been doing holiday baking and set up a table of goodies for us.

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Peggy - Joan - Nancy

We usually sit and talk from about 10 until noon and then everyone goes home by noon to watch Charlie Rose, but when I got home today I looked at the clock and it was 1 p.m. The time had just flown by. We've made plans to get together for Valentine's day, if not before.

In the afternoon, Walt and I were going to go shopping. While we have all drawn names and have agreed that nobody is going to spend more than $5 for our special person, there are still the "Santa gifts" that we always give (the "hang the expense, I want to spend money" gifts that I have such fun getting each year). These are the things that, traditionally, I pick up here and there in the months before Christmas, but since I haven't been driving, the only gifts I'd purchased were bought on line ... and while that is OK, what fun is it if you can't feel it, smell it, and experience it in all its entirety (including handing your credit card over to someone to pay for it)

And so we went off to what I thought was going to be the outlet stores at the Nut Tree, but we got side tracked and ended up doing most of our shopping in NON-outlet stores. But I'm still pleased with what we got.

We decided to check out the new "carnival" area at the Nut Tree. The Nut Tree used to be this huge restaurant/gift shop/toy store/kids train/airport place that was a staple of travelers going between San Francisco and Sacramento. My uncle and his wife always stopped there and always got into a fight there (or so family lore goes) because she spent too much.

Well, they tore the building down several years ago and the land sat there unoccupied for a long time. People still came to the area because they built this huge outlet mall across the highway, with hundreds of outlet stores. Eventually the non-outlet stores started springing up in the old Nut Tree location: Old Navy, Borders, PetSmart, Sees Candy, cell phone stores, restaurants, BevMo, etc., etc. They apparently never got rid of the "rides" that the old Nut Tree had for kids, and recently opened this carnival area which has the old Merry go Round, something that looks like a new (bigger) train, and then stores which supposedly feature local products, whether craft products or locally grown produce.

One of the places that recently opened its doors was Fentons Ice Cream. This is a satellite site of the original Fentons which is in Oakland, and which was a favorite of all of the Pinata group families. I suggested to Walt that we stop and have a sundae...something we never ever do. He readily agreed.

He ordered a black and tan

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I ordered something called a "fudganna", which was kind of a banana split, two enormous scoops of ice cream in a container with a banana and fudge sauce.

sundae.jpg (117531 bytes)The problem was that the ice cream was piled so high that all the fudge dripped down onto the saucer before it ever got to the table.

Undaunted, I used my spoon and chunks of banana, pierced with a fork, to dip into the fudge sauce, sort of like a banana chocolate fondu. I stopped short of picking the saucer up and licking it (which I really wanted to do), but I think that I definitely got my share, and then some.

I actually left some ice cream in the glass, as it was just too much to finish.

Fortunately I had made this wonderful butternut squash-apple-sweet potato soup last night and we decided we would just have leftover soup for dinner, heated whenever one or the other of us felt hungry.

We made one stop at the store that I had gone to the outlet mall for in the first place and I was thrilled at the sale they were having. I did my bit to support the economy there.

And finally we were ready to turn our wheels home. I still have a couple more things to get, but I felt really good about what I'd found, was looking forward to coming home to wrap presents and spend the evening catching up on stuff I'd recorded on the DVR.

When Walt got out of the car in the driveway to open the front door, he discovered that someone had stolen his bike.

Bah Humbug. I hope whoever stole it crashes on the damn thing. I'm remembering that the year Paul died, someone stole our car at Christmas. Maybe the gods can pick on someone else next year.

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