Showing posts with label party. Show all posts
Showing posts with label party. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Party Gal

You know, you'd think that having been raised by a mother who is always the belle of the ball, who is a terrific hostess, and sparkles in social situations (even with her early dementia!), being the granddaughter of a grandmother who was on the stage and also loved to throw parties and was quite comfortable in social situations, and having birthed children like Ned and Tom who seem to exude sociability and comfort in social situations, that I would not be such a stick in the mud.

Now, I realize, of course, that there is "sociability" and the "air of sociability," and perhaps all these people in my family who seem to be so good at it are just actors, but I am neither a social butterfly, nor a good actor.
The holidays are always filled with social gatherings to which we are invited (many fewer this year than usual). I have also been to a few parties since the first of the year and I always come away kicking myself for sitting off in a corner (yes, Ron, behind the potted palm!) not knowing what to say and so saying nothing, and just stuff my face with goodies because it give me something to do.

Here are some situations which have come up since, oh, let's say Thanksgiving.

I arrive at a party and someone I have not seen in a long time comes rushing up to me, as I stand by the plate that used to hold shrimp and sauce.  She gives me a hug and says "Oh, I haven't seen you in so long.  I want to talk with you, but I want to get some shrimp first.  Don't move.  I'll be right back" and off she floats through the crowd.

I stand there trying to see where she is and soon I see her on the other side of the room, in deep conversation with someone else.   I weave my way through the crowd and get to her side of the room, making it easier for her to catch up with me when she has finished her conversation, but she moves to another person and then another person.  I am surrounded by people I don't know, so I finally find a chair that has an empty seat next to it and sit down.  She never gets back to me at all.  She leaves the party without even saying goodbye.

In another case, someone comes up to me and we begin talking.  She asks me something about a show I have just reviewed.  I begin answering her question and someone walks up and interrupts, the person who was talking to me turns to the interrupter and starts a conversation with her and I am left wondering if I should stay and wait for her to finish or move on.  I stay and wait and when the second conversation is finished, the first woman walks off to talk with someone else.

We are invited to a party where I am under the impression that I will have an opportunity to talk with like-minded individuals, and when we get there, it is never pointed out who are the people I should meet, but I try anyway to get into the spirit of the conversation.  Two people are discussing bread machines and how much they hate them because they make the wrong sized loaf.  I happen to like my bread machine, but these people used theirs once and put them in the garage and obviously think anybody who would use a machine to bake bread (says the third person who joins the group), is cheating.  Well, so much for contributing to that discussion.

Another group is discussing movies, which I find fascinating, but can only listen because they have studied these movies and have deep insight about their real message, and I have only gone to see the movies and enjoyed them (or not).  I feel dumb and uninformed and just listen, but don't talk.

I am standing with a woman and another woman comes up.  The first woman says "...of course you know Gay Flebbich.  She's lived here 40 years, you've lived here almost that long..." and then she leaves me standing there with this total stranger whom, as it turns out, I have never met before. Gay Flebbich looks uncomfortable, turns and walks away, leaving me standing there.

I've tried stepping out from behind that potted palm and asking someone questions about their lives but, though interviewing people is supposed to be what I do in part of my job, I get monosyllabic answers and I can never come up with a follow-up question and the other person finds someone more interesting to talk to.
This is why I used to love my editor's Christmas party each year.  The guests were, for the most part, a bunch of social uncomfortables, some of whom were good minglers, others of whom (like me) were not.   For us there were party games we could play alone, answering trivia questions or counting objects or checking which of 7 drawings was different from the other 6.

If there was someone you wanted to talk with and if that conversation seemed to go well, that was great, but if there was not, you never felt that you stuck out like a sore thumb.

I like to think I'm sociable, but time and again, when we go to parties where we stand around a table full of food and drink and make small talk, I feel like a total idiot, like I don't have a brain in my head and even if I do, I can't formulate a statement or a question coherently, so I just stand there looking ridiculous.
Maybe I should switch my party beverage of choice from water to wine.  D'ya think that would help?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Happy Birthday

We went to a birthday party today (one of those big-number birthdays that people celebrate) for someone that Walt worked with.

I was actually kind of glad when I had a bit of an intestinal problem this morning. If it got worse, I would have an excuse to skip the party, but it got better and I could have decided not to go (one guy who comes to these things never brings his wife), but I wanted to be supportive, so I decided to go.

In Meet Me In St. Louis Judy Garland's character talks about things that she "hates, loathes, despises and abominates." These office gatherings don't fall into quite that categorization, but they come close. I've rarely enjoyed them.

It would be different if I were a person who knew how to make small talk. My mother does it beautifully. But the minute I walk into a room of strangers and near-strangers, my brain goes blank. My friend Ron will attest that I'm more comfortable standing behind the potted palm.

It would also be different if I knew the people in Walt's office. Many of them seem to have or have had a social relationship outside of work, and have had for many, many years. The problem is I recognize them all, but I don't have any kind of relationship with any of them. Since I may go a year or more between visits, I can't even remember their names and am doing good if I can match up the couples. I can't tell you how many Christmas parties I've attended where the wives talk about this or that project that their husbands are working on that I've never heard about. Once I was congratulated for an award that Walt won, which he never told me about

Walt has never taken his work home. It was so bad that at one time my kids told their friends he worked for the CIA and couldn't talk about his job, because they didn't have a clue what he did and didn't know what to say when their friends asked them what they did. Char once refused to let Walt get out of a chair until he told her something about his job. "I've known you for ten years and I don't have a clue what you do," she told him.

(Actually, in the new TV show Covert Actions the woman who works for the CIA tells everyone that she works at the Smithsonian, so maybe the kids were on to something!)

When we enter a room at one of these parties, I sidle up to someone I know a bit, they acknowledge my presence and go on talking to someone else and I feel like I've stepped into a black hole. Or worse, they will ask "what are you doing these days, Bev? Are you still doing theatre? I miss your editorials in the newspaper." This acknowledges that they remember that at one time (20 years ago) I was involved with theatre, doing publicity or supporting the kids, that I once wrote letters to the editor (not editorials), and that they don't have a clue that I've been the local theatre critic for 10 years. I say "Well, I'm still writing theatre reviews," but by the time I get "theatre" out of my mouth, the group has gone back to talk amongst themselves again.

(Conversation got much more awkward, by the way, after the kids died, which is not surprising. But then it wasn't quite so bad when someone else had to bury a child and we could feel like we were allies against all those people who don't know what to say to someone griving.)

When I can't stand the awkwardness any longer, my next move is to the food table. I don't load up on food, even if I haven't had lunch (which I hadn't) because I don't want people to see the fat lady with a big plate of food. But I did get some fruit and cheese & crackers and a glass of water.

Then I have to find a table because Walt is visiting with friends, which is fine. That's what he's there to do.

I found an empy table and hoped maybe someone I knew would also sit there, which actually happened. I started with my usual "how's the family?" and while she was in the middle of answering someone came up to her and started talking to her. In the meantime, two other people sat down on my other side and began talking to each other. I got up and filled my food plate again, just the thing I didn't need to do, of course.

There was a formal part to the party and that was fun. I got some ideas for a multimedia presentation, but I couldn't hear a lot of what was said.

After that was over, a woman came over, the only one I know, sort of. We had a nice chat and she told me about a trip to China she and her husband had taken. Walt eventually joined us and we talked a bit, but they got up to leave. It was past time for the party to end, so we decided to leave too, but first Walt had to go to the other end of the room to say goodbye to the guest of honor.

Fortunately there were lots of things about the family's history on the sign-in table because I got to read through almost an entire book of family stories before "Hour Baur" ended and Walt finally came to the front door of the hall. I had my Kindle with me, but it would have been rude to be reading a book in the middle of the party, but it was OK to read some of the party materials.

I came home feeling detached the way I always do when I spend 2-3 hours trying to be invisible so I won't feel terrible because I can't think of a thing to say to anybody and nobody knows what to say to me either.

It was a relief to be back home again.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Uncharacteristically Sociable

The invitation came about two weeks ago. It was the kind of invitation I would normally not even think twice about. Rose, a woman I had gone to high school with, was inviting us to her birthday party. Now I haven't seen Rose in about 40 years. The last time was one of my most embarrassing moments. I had invited classmates to our house for the afternoon to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our graduation. About 5 or 6 turned up. I had just given birth about a week before and my intention was to give them drinks and hors d'oeuvres, but apparently I had somehow given them the impression that I was inviting them for dinner.

Rather than be honest, I threw some godawful thing together. I don't know what, but I remember it included the driest ham I have ever eaten. You just don't have a full stocked larder right after you've given birth!

Not surprisingly, I haven't heard from any of them in the intervening 40 years. But the school is now planning our 50th anniversary and that has put me back in touch with a few of my former classmates, Rose among them.

Not being a social butterfly, I would normally make an excuse why we couldn't attend -- it did involve driving to San Francisco, after all. I hadn't attended our 40th anniversary because I was too embarrassed about my weight. But my "big sister" Joycie has convinced me that I'll be sorry if I miss this one and so I'm planning on going (even attending the Mass, I guess).

When Rose's invitation arrived, I decided that I was going to force myself to go. It would be good to see her, she must surely have invited at least a couple of others of our classmates and I needed to get out in social situations more. I RSVPd. Remember that other than parties involving family or the Pinata family, I go through the mental tortures of the damned before almost any social situation. I'm always convinced I'm going to make a fool of myself, or feel like a wallflower stuck off in a corner with nobody to talk to me.

Rose is retired now, but she had a long career as a physician and she owns a lovely home in an incredibly gorgeous location in San Francisco. This is the view from her balcony.

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It overlooks Golden Gate park and beyond it the Golden Gate bridge. This was one of those rare crystal clear San Francisco days that I love and so it was the best of all possible conditions.

We climbed up to the living room and I poked my head in. I didn't recognize anyone. Then Rose came out from the kitchen and it took her a minute to recognize me under all this flab. We talked a bit and she took me to the kitchen to get me set up to have some of her home made chili. I was afraid I'd be a klutz and spill it on her white carpet. There was nowhere to sit with the group, so I sat in a chair off to the side, in the wallflower position. And, of course, I proceeded to spill a bit of chili on myself, but fortunately I'd worn black and it didn't get on the carpet. I did not spill my lemonade (score one for me).

The conversation was interesting. These were all fascinating, successful people, with a heavy emphasis on the medical profession. They were discussing ballet and post-traumatic stress syndrome, and the Oscars, and Obama's health plan. I couldn't participate because I was being a wallflower again, but one guy got up to leave and I took his seat on the fireplace, which put me smack dab in the middle of the conversation.

How I'd missed this! Sitting around with intelligent people talking about current events and nobody getting angry, but everyone offering fascinating insights into so many different topics. It was like the breakfasts Nancy, Joan and I have once or twice a year, only multiplied to a larger group.

At some point Rose's 11 year old nephew asked me, innocently, if I knew how to play Chess. I told him I didn't really, but I remembered how the pieces moved, at least, and would be willing to have a game with him. He wiped the board with my bloody carcass after he "chased me all over the board" (which is how Rose described his method of play), but it was fun.

A latecomer was a larger than life orthopedist who was an absolutely fascinating man who showed us pictures of his adopted Siberian son (now 12, adopted in infancy) and talked about working in 3rd world countries with Doctors without Borders, and the mess that health care is in in this country right now. It was like being back at Women's Health in the good old days.

No other former classmates showed up and I didn't ask if any had been invited, but I just had a fabulous time (so did Walt). I'm so glad I talked myself into overcoming my normal reticence for social events like this. I'm also feeling more comfortable about the upcoming reunion, having taken my flab at least part way out of the closet.

We stopped on the way home for dinner at a Chinese buffet which offered "all you can eat crab." Now you KNOW that's gonna grab me...and it did. Walt was intrigued by the blue jello and had to have some for dessert. He said it tasted like Mr. Clean (I'm not sure when he last tasted Mr. Clean.)

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When we got home there were two messages from our neighbor, left 15 minutes apart, complaining about Spencer's barking. Ashley says some folks are coming to look at him next weekend...I sure hope this ends up being a forever family for him.

Monday, October 12, 2009

...And a Good Time was Had by All

The Ice Cream social was a great success.

I had things mostly set up by about 1:30.

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(Note the puppies in the pen at the left)

Then it was just a question of waiting for the folks to arrive. Ashley arrived early so she could give Eliza her vaccinations and she took the "down" time to give Dexter a manicure.

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The first neighborhood guy arrived right on the dot at 2 p.m. (he was also the last to leave--and had four different cups of ice cream!). He brought a bowl of sliced strawberries and a container of hot fudge sauce. Yum! Then others started straggling in.

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Even the Don Saylor, Davis's Mayor Pro Tem showed up, and had a chat with Ned, who also came, with Marta.

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Don also took this picture to post to Facebook, along with all the photos he took at all the other neighborhood parties he attended, from ours at 2 p.m. until after dark.

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The puppies were a big hit.

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This little girl in particular loved all the puppies, but especially loved Dexter (who was more her size than the others)

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At the height, we may have had about 20 people, which was about double the number who came last year.

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I ran out of vanilla ice cream, but had plenty of chocolate, strawberry and blackberry left over at the end of the day. I feel very good about how it all went and think that we went out on a real high.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Perle Mesta is at it Again

It's time for this year's Neighbor's Night Out again, coming up this Sunday. Remember last year I hosted an hors d'oeuvre reception in our carport at the ridiculous hour of 7 p.m. (Our party was the latest of the 60-some parties that were held city-wide.) I decided to host the event for one more year, but this time do it in the afternoon and have an ice cream social, figuring more of the parents with children would come.

And, no dummy I, I can buy tons of ice cream and if nobody shows up, well, gosh--gee whiz--somebody has to eat it all, right?

The folks at the city dropped off my package, which includes little reminders to put on everybody's doorknob, so I went out this morning and walked the street, putting reminders on all the doors. It took about 45 minutes to do, so I've had my exercise for the day too. I only ran into two neighbors on the route, one an old man I'd never seen before. We didn't chat. But the other was a woman who has lived here as long as we have and we talked for a long time. She says she makes a "killer hot fudge sauce" and will see if she can send some with her husband (since she can't come).

I also spent most of the time I was walking trying to remember the name of our next door neighbor. I remember HIS name, but I cannot for the life of me remember hers. This is not so much an Alzheimers thing as it is that we have not spoken in probably more than 20 years. No reason that I am aware of why we don't speak, but we just don't. She never even sent a note of sympathy (or made eye contact) after Paul's or David's deaths. (But that's ok--she wasn't alone. Most of our neighbors didn't, including people whose kids had gone to school with them. But who's bitter...?)

Anyway, the invitations are out, the plans are made and on Sunday at 2 p.m., we will gather together for ice cream and hope that not very many people show up, so I can have an excuse to eat the leftovers.

The one thing I noticed on my walk around the neighborhood was how many houses are decked out for Halloween. I assume these are either houses with children, or houses of people who have grandchildren who are expected to visit during the month.

It reminded me that Halloween is my very least favorite holiday. I have always had trouble with Halloween on so many levels. First is the costumes. I always felt that I should be The Good Mom and make my kids' costumes, not just buy tacky store-bought plastic costume. Of course the flaw in this plan is that (a) I do not have a creative bone in my body, and (b) I can't sew a button, much less a costume. I remember one year all the boys were super heroes, which was easy because we could use towels for capes and Tom went as Diaper Man (the cutest superhero you ever saw!), dressed in pink and blue, if I remember correctly.

But no matter what kind of costume they wore, we would get to the school parade and I'd feel about 2" tall because there were kids who looked like they were ready for the stage in Vegas, the costumes were so gorgeous. Mine were made with love...and very little else!

I also loved making my own treats for trick or treaters. I'd make rice krispie treats or cookies nicely packaged in individual bags. I think I even did candied apples one year. But then the sickos started putting razors in apples and poisoning cookies, so nobody would take your home made goodies and you had to go with store bought.

Then there was the candy problem. It's a no-win situation. Either you give in and let them dive into their stash immediately and make themselves sick from gorging on candy, or you go through the daily, sometimes hourly fight over how much candy they can have and why they can't have it before dinner. We generally went with the "eat it all now and make yourself sick and then we'll throw out the rest" until the kids got old enough to become territorial about their candy (this was also the age when they could if Mom had stolen a Snickers out of their bag, so it stopped being fun for me completely!)

The kids continued to get older and we had a few fun years where we decorated the house and they helped with a haunted house that the city ran for little kids and they also did most of the giving out of candy here at home. But eventually they moved out and now it's just Walt and me at home.

Ever try giving out trick or treat candy and appreciating the costumes of little kids while trying to keep several dogs from licking the trick or treaters or rushing out into the street? I ended up turning the trick or treat task over to Walt completely and I manned the dogs. But there was the problem of my buying way too much candy, so I could eat it myself after the little kids had gone.

Soon, we had fewer and fewer little kids, as there were more dangers for little kids trick or treating. Now they do it at businesses downtown and the older kids have parties at the school. Mostly the only kids out trying to get candy come dressed as surly teens, taller than I am, with pillow sacks they are trying to fill.

Now I pretty much ignore Halloween entirely. I turn out all the lights in the front room and the carport and stay in the back of the house and if someone should decide to check and see if just maybe there is somebody home, I don't answer the doorbell.

I suppose I'm ripe for having my windows soaped, but I don't think anybody "tricks" any more.

At least I hope not.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Party

Whew. Where to start...? Simply saying that it went off beautifully and that everybody came together to make it a great celebration for my mother. If nothing else (and there was a LOT more), her excitement the morning of the party was worth all the hassle.

Somewhere between 55 and 60 people came. We started setting up around 10 a.m. By that time Ned & Marta had arrived and Tom had called from Costco (where he had purchased wine) to say he'd be there soon. When they arrived, Bri was all dressed in a Cal cheerleaders' outfit.

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Ed (my mother's stepson) had brought the keg of beer by and set it up. My second cousin Denise came early with her sisters to arrange flowers for the tables. My cousin Ken arrived an hour early and sat around waiting for someone to tap the beer keg for him (I told him that would not happen until 3!)

People began arriving around 3, by which time I had a jug of nacho cheese sauce with chips out along with Mexican won ton and a vat of guacamole I'd made, and the stuffed jalapenos were in the oven cooking. Ellen, my mother's step-daughter, brought 7-layer dip.

The caterers ("Are you Being Served" in Marin County) were just great. The head caterer finally shoo'd me out of the kitchen, said they'd watch the hors d'oeuvres (which was not in their job description) and that I should just go and enjoy the party.

Peach had made name tags and got them distributed. Several people had brought pages to put in a memory book for her. Walt's brother, sister and their spouses had had a great time making up fantastic pages that were the highlight of the book.

Ned took on the job of MC for the day, of course. A lot of people had arrived before my mother did, so he had her make an entrance, and she did (there's video of that, which I'll get up eventually). She hates it when he takes out his temporary false teeth, so of course he did it as often as he could!

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People visited, ate, drank, and enjoyed themselves until the caterers got the food out for dinner, when Ned invited everyone to the buffet table, a taco table, with chicken and tri tip roast to fill tortilla shells, along with the usual rice, beans, salsa, etc, and a side dish of roasted vegetables and a big salad.

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When everyone had finished eating, Ned made some remarks and then introduced a song that Jeri and Phil had written about Grandma Rynders. It goes on for about 10 minutes and I'm going to post it as soon as I can but since I was part of the song, there are no photographs of the act itself.

Ned then invited people to come and offer any remarks about my mother. Several did, including her best friend Paula, who was very funny.

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Ned invited the whole room to come to the stage and pose for a group photo. I had brought my tripod with me, so we could do it on a timer.

Then we did a family portrait that included both my family and my mother's step family as well. It was a picture I very much wanted to take.

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Then my mother wanted a picture of her and her step kids and Ed's wife, Jenny (whom I have decided I love....)

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(I was holding back tears in this picture because Jenny
had done something that meant so much to me)

...grabbed my camera from me and insisted I get in the picture too. It was perhaps the moment of the whole day that meant the most to me. (I still have a difficult time thinking about that moment without tearing up).

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I gave my kids the task of getting the candles on the cake and lit.

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After cake, my mother finally got her wish to dance on her birthday

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She loves to dance and hadn't been able to for two years, since her accident. She said that it still hurts a bit, but she gritted her teeth and decided she waas going to have fun--and she did.

People finally started going home. The hangers on sat around watching Bri dance, and dancing with her, which was SO funny...

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...or just sitting around basking in the afterglow...

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while Walt worked his tush off starting to clean up. I have to say that I was so incredibly impressed with the work that he did for this party. He seemed to be everywhere at once and I don't know how we could have done it all without him. He deserved his rest once it was all over.

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Everybody who stayed late did such a great job of cleaning up, especially Ed, who got all of the rental things into my mother's car so she can return it on Tuesday. Ned, Jeri, Marta, Tom and Phil are such old hands at cleaning up events like this, that I never worry about getting it all done. They are gems, each and everyone one of them.

I cannot say how grateful I am to everybody who helped make the party such a great event and who put that smile on my mother's face, which I'm sure is going to be there for many days to come!!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Hors D'oeuvre Factory

Well, if people don't have enough to eat at this party on Saturday, it won't be my fault.

I got my new deep fat fryer set up and started making Mexican won ton. I don't know how many hours I folded won ton, but I got into such a rhythm that it worked perfectly -- put 12 won ton in the basket of the fryer, lower the basket and cook 2-1/2 minutes. Raise the basket and let it drain, go to kitchen table, fold 12 more won ton, return to kitchen, take basket out of fryer, dump into draining container, add 12 more won ton to the basket, lower, cook, raise, fold....over, and over and over again.

Of course, I did have some willing assistants...they just were missing opposable thumbs, so I couldn't use them.

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So I just kept plugging away while Jeri and Phil were packing up their stuff and their dog and getting ready to head over to Ned's house.

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The good thing about having puppies is that they have to be fed when they're hungry, so I had nice half hour mini-breaks for puppy feeding time. Red letter day today: Both Higgins and Freddie finally have little slits of eyes, so all three of them are starting to be able to see.

When I finally finished the won ton and got it all packed into a container and in the refrigerator, I got the puppies fed and then went out to pick up the cake. In truth, if I had known I was going to be this tired, I would have ordered a decorated cake. But I really wanted to make my mother's cake, so the task yet ahead of me tonight is decorating the cake (for which I have zero inspiration at the moment!)

Then it was time to start on the stuffed jalapenos. This was a bit more tricky, since I wore latex gloves because I didn't want to run the risk of getting any jalapeno juice on my hands if I was then going to be feeding the puppies.

This is what they will all look like on Saturday, if I followed the recipe correctly.

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You can find the recipe here.

Walt got home from work and I used the leftover Mexican won ton filling to make burritos for his dinner. Then it was time to feed the puppies again and finally start on the cake. Which involved yet another trip to the store (third time today) to get milk for the frosting, since all the milk went on cereal this morning.

I'm writing this entry to postpone yet again the decorating. Not because I don't feel like doing it, but because my creativity is long gone, along with my good disposition.

When I finally get the cake done, there is making the bed for Ashley, who will be staying here while we're gone, and trying to clear away a space on the kitchen counter and on the stove for her to use. I really, really like the new deep fat fryer, but when you finish using it, you're supposed to filter the oil so you can use it again, and for lack of a better filtering system, I'm running it through coffee filters--which takes a very long time for 3-1/2 gallons of oil! (Anybody who knows a better way to filter oil, I'd be beholdin' to ya for the advice!)

I'm also looking at the mountain of stuff that has to get from here to San Rafael (without smashing the cake!). I've been working since 5 a.m. and the tasks ahead of me are still daunting.



Sunday, July 26, 2009

Old Guys

There's nothing that make you feel older than going to a retirement party for somone younger than yourself and looking at all the people you've known for 40 years and seeing how they have aged!

CKD.jpg (51470 bytes)Today is was time for the retirement party for Charles, who has worked in the same office as Walt for more than thirty years. He was the guy who was the MC for Walt's retirement party two years ago. They never worked on the same projects because they were in different sections, but they have been friends for all this time.

One office tradition that I always loved was lunch. Nearly 45 years ago, the wife of Walt's then boss (and still good friend), Dave and I decided that we wanted a break from having to pack our husband's lunches every day, so we demanded a day off and the guys started going out to lunch one day a week (I remember that it was Tuesday, but it's Wednesday now). The tradition continues to this day, though Dave has long since moved away.

CKDChris.jpg (46134 bytes)When we moved here to Davis, David was in school with Charles' oldest son, Chris and we didn't know what was going on, but eventually we learned that though Chris and Dave had different friends and traveled in different circles, every Wednesday they would eat their lunches together, because that's what their dads were doing.

Our kids will also be amused to know that at the retirement, Charles' youngest son, Mike, talked about how he always tried to find out what his Dad did for a living and how he could never figure out. He just knew that Charles was an engineer, and decided he must drive a train.

Events like this are always fraught with "moments." We sat down at a table in the senior center with the couple we usually sit with at these events and she looked around with a smile and said "the last time we were in here was for our son's wedding." I resisted saying "the last time I was here was at our son's funeral!"

This guy gave a funny roast for Charles

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Grey-haired old guy getting ready to retire from his second job. When he first went to work with Walt, it was in Berkeley, so pre-1973, and he was a young kid just barely out of college and with his first serious girlfriend (I think he eventually married and ultimately divorced her).

I wasn't there for the whole event because I had to run out to Petco to pick up Tasha and take her home, but I was back before it ended.

After the event, we gravitated toward a couple whose 40-something year old son had died in an accident earlier this year. We understood each other and we spoke with the familiarity that only comes to those who are members of this terrible club. But it was good. They've gone through most of their "firsts" without their son and we nodded sympathetically. It hate it, but in a weird way it was sort of good.


SPECIAL LAWSUIT ALERT: Ned has been posting old Lawsuit videos (because, of course, there are no new Lawsuit videos!) on the "Lawsuit Music Channel" on You Tube. If you were a fan and are missing Lawsuit in your life, or if you just wonder what the magic was all about, by all means check it out!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The OTHER Party

There was so much to say about the wedding reception and the events surrounding scattering Michele's ashes that I never did say much about Peach and Bob's 50th anniversary party, which was sandwiched in between angst about Ellen & Shelly's wedding cake and then their reception itself.

The anniversary party was a Hawaiian theme and I actually managed to unearth a muu muu I bought at Hilo Hattie's on one of our two trips to Hawaii. I can't remember the last time I wore a dress or a skirt, but after all, this was for Peach and Bob.

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The party was to start at 4, but I was a little late because of the cake not being picked up until late, but I got there just in time. Their kids had rented a limousine to pick them up, driving them around Sacramento to all the spots that had been important in their lives and then drop them off at the party. I arrived just as the limo was pulling up and whipped out my camera.

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I don't know how many people were there, but a lot. There was a "cousins table" that we all gravitated to since we knew each other, but not most of the other guests.

Their son-in-law had put together a nice slide show about their 50 years together. (The hair part was particularly good, seeing how the styles have changed--radically!-- through the years!)

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I wasn't able to see the show all that well, for the crowd, so I saw it in a later showing. A woman sitting near me, whom I didn't know, was determined to let me know that she had known my cousin for a very. long. time. I think she was a little deflated when I pointed to their wedding photo and showed her that I was in the wedding party. I explained that I was Peach's cousin. That kind of ended the "trying to one-up you" part of the interaction!

Their son-in-law is Mexican so this was billed as a "mexican luau," and they had a huge spread of food (so much that when I went to Shelly & Ellen's reception later, with an enormous buffet, I didn't eat a thing because I was so stuffed from the party).

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After food there were heartfelt speeches by all 3 of their kids, and by Bob and Peach too.

I couldn't stay too long because I had to get home, feed the dogs, change my clothes, and get to the wedding reception, but this anniversary party, like the reception, was a real feel-good event and I'm glad that I was able to make it to both parties.

Given my "problems" recently, I made this sign to go on the front seat of the car...and made it home without having to turn around and drive back to get the cameras!

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Return of "The Psychiatrist"

It has been about a year since the psychiatrist and I had an amicable separation. He found a new transcriptionist and I entered blissful, if non-profitable, retirement from 30+ years of doing his transcription.

Amazingly, I don't think our paths have crossed in all that time, which is strange, since we often travel in the same circles.

Today, we both attended the same party.

He told me how much he missed "all my good work" (conveniently forgetting what a flake I was the last year I worked for him). I told him that I had to honestly admit that I didn't miss it one bit.

But it was lovely to see him (and his wife). Since we last parted, one of their kids has had a new baby and another one is expecting their second child in April. I told him about our impending new addition to the family and the trip Jeri and I are taking to France and Italy next year.

It was so incredibly nice to stand there talking with him without a huge cloud of guilt hanging over my head as I thought about how much undone work was sitting at home and wondering if he was going to ask me about it! He's a lovely man and I like him even better now that I don't have to meet his deadlines.

I'm even going to (I think) write a story for the newspaper about the musical group with which he has played for years. My editor and I discussed this several months ago and tabled the idea until the spring, when they will be playing outdoors frequently. Now that is going to be a fun article to write!

The party we attended was for a woman celebrating her 75th birthday. We've known her and her husband most of the time we've been in Davis, though we seldom see them more than once or twice a year (if that).

Pat is a wonderful woman who has had a major impact on this city, a "selfless" (as someone described her), self-effacing person whom I always hear apologizing because she hasn't done "more" for some particular cause or event or person, when, in fact, she has done so much.

In addition to being a founding member of the Davis Comic Opera Company, she was also a major force in starting Citizens Who Care, which provides support services for county older adults and their caregivers. You might want to check the group's web site. It looks very professional now, but I remember when it was just a germ of an idea that Pat and a couple of other people had.

I could go on and on and on about all the things Pat has been involved in, which also includes gourmet cooking and gardening, yet I never once visited her when she didn't apologize for something she felt she didn't quite do right.

As person after person got up to the microphone to talk about the impact Pat had on their lives, I thought how wonderful it would be to live that long and have this kind of a celebration. I know of very few people (myself included) who could.

I looked around the room today and saw some of the luminaries of this town, including a couple of former mayors and a County Supervisor. A good friend had left Dublin that morning (Dublin time) and hoped to get to the party in time, but she had not arrived by the time we left.

Walt and I gravitated to the table that was filled with people from the now defunct Davis Comic Opera Company, who are probably our closest friends in Davis (the honoree and her husband were founding members of the company). It was nice to sit together with this group because we see them so rarely now that there is no more DCOC. One guy with whom we used to socialize on a regular basis, and who is one of my favorite people around here, I realized I had not seen in over a year. We keep missing each other at events.

Now that we're all getting so old, we don't seem to do evening parties any more, so this one started at 2 and we were home in time for dinner.

But it was a lovely tribute to a lovely lady and I felt very honored to be among the invited guests.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Daddy Shower

Baby showers are traditionally the realm of women. All those finger foods and giggling over silly games and oohing and ahhing over cute little baby things.

Why does Dad get left out? It's his baby too.

Well, fortunately, Walt's sister and brother-in-law decided that Tom needed a baby shower, so we are back in Santa Barbara again.

The morning started very, very early for me. I was so afraid I'd oversleep, what with both the need for an early morning flight and daylight saving time to contend with, that I actually woke up at 4 a.m. regular time, 5 a.m., daylight saving time. At least half an hour earlier than I intended.

I got showered, finished packing (how much do you need to pack for a 2-day trip?) and got the dogs into the car for the trip to the dog sitters.

I had made arrangements for Kathy and Miguel to keep the dogs weeks ago, and asked if I could bring them at 7 a.m., which they said I could. I'm never quite sure where their house is, and I didn't have the address with me, so hoped I could find it. When I did find what I thought was their house, everything was very dark. I called them on both their cell phone and home phone and got message machines on both.

Great. I wasn't even sure it was the right house.

There was lots of construction going on in front and the back fence was down (how would they keep the dogs in, I wondered) so I tiptoed in to see if, indeed, this was the right house. The tiny play yard I was so impressed with before, was no more, but I did recognize the tree stumps and knew, at least, that I had the right house.

I rang the doorbell and hoped for the best. There was no answer. Swell. What was I going to do now? We had to leave for the airport in an hour and what was I going to do with the dogs?

I rang the doorbell again and there was movement at the window and I saw Kathy looking out. They had forgotten to set their clocks forward. At least I had the right house and had managed to raise someone. I didn't want to think about the now nonexistent back yard. I just dropped the dogs off, asked if they would also groom Lizzie while she was there, and went back to the car.

Our flight to Burbank was uneventful, save for th fact that Walt measured the seat I was sitting in comfortably and it seems to be the same size as the Express Jet seat, so next time we will probably try flying Express Jet and hpe for the best--that way we can fly directly into Santa Barbara.

We drove the 2 hours up from Burbank and got here just as the first guests were arriving.

As I said at the outset, why has nobody thought of giving a guy shower before? We still played the silly games, but the guys added a new twist--and watching blindfolded men doing a baby food taste test was worth the price of admission.

The gifts, too, were perfect. Tom opened them, since this was his shower. A real winner was "Fatherhood for Dummies," where one of his friends had taken a phone book, hollowed it out to hold a bottle of booze, and then photoshopped a cover from some other "for Dummies" book. You had to look closely at the cover to realize that it wasn't really a real "for Dummies" book after all.

I had bought the baby, among other things, a set of golf shoe booties, which went with the set of toy golf clubs that someone gave him, so that was a nice bit of serendipity.

It was nice for Laurel because she got to sit back and watch Daddy Tom be the center of attention for a change!

Things broke up with one guy overheard someone talking about cultures that eat the placenta and he decided that this was getting entirely too graphic for him! (OK...so maybe the guys aren't ready for the entire baby shower experience!)

We'll be here in Santa Barbara for one more day and then fly home on Tuesday. I don't know when we'll be back, but it depends on when the grandchild decides to appear. The due date was originally April 2, but they don't think she's going to wait that long...so, who knows.

Tomorrow we are going to go see the progress made on Tom & Laurel's house. The remodel is not as far along as they had hoped, but the rugs get put down tomorrow and I'm sure that will help considerably!

I didn't bring my card reader, so can't transfer photos from my camera to journal, so that will have to wait until I get home (I took the picture of Laurel with my cell phone). I also forgot to charge the battery for my camera before I left home, so I'm not sure how long it's going to last. One of those "plan ahead" things I almost always do and just plum forgot this time!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A New Decade

"Welcome to the 60s," I wrote on the birthday card. I signed it and then gave it to Walt to sign.

"60? He's only 50, isn't he?" he said.

I could have sworn he was 60, but I didn't want to give him 10 years he hadn't earned yet, so I changed the "6" to a "5" and sealed the card.

We arrived at the house in Sacramento this afternoon, meeting relatives of the guest of honor outside and exchanging names and identities. We walked in the house and were greeted by messages:

Oh well. It's kind of like the hero of "Water for Elephants," who can't remember if he's 90 or 93. The card covers turning 50 or turning 60!

Our hostess reads this journal and so knew that I'd be tickled to see what they were using for a coat rack for the party.

(She assured me that it was only for tonight and that the exercise equipment really does get used!)

We each got name tags and what fun it was. Everybody had a tag with something everyone was supposed to ask them about. It was a fun icebreaker.

At least one person was planning to go home and check out Funny the World after the party. If she did -- Hi! Glad to see you here!

What a great mix of people. Jim is a movie critic for a Sacramento newspaper and so my boss (who is the movie critic for the Davis Enterprise) was there, as was the movie critic for the local TV station. There were several folks we knew from theatre here in Davis (one is also the Vice President of the SPCA, so it was a double whammy), and people Jim, who is also an actor, knew from other theatre groups. And then there were the neighbors who came, not really knowing more than that LuAnn was a singer and piano teacher.

"He seems to have a lot of friends in the arts," one neighbor told me.

People came from all over, including a handful of folks from Davis. When you run into people that you know...but don't really know...there is always that awkwardness. I was speaking with a delightful woman who has lived in Davis even longer than we have. In fact, her daughter and Jeri used to be good friends (I think), we discovered. She said that she loves reading my reviews and she knows that if I write a good review, it's something that she will like.

Things were going along well until the conversation turned in that direction that I hate. "What are your kids doing now?" she asked. I cringed. She's been in town 35 years. Our kids went to school together. My name is familiar to her. Surely she "knows." I hoped. It was in all the papers. Many times.

I told her about Jeri, and about Ned, and about Tom and hoped that she remembered all the headlines we'd made all those many years ago.

"And what about the other two?" she asked.

That's always a conversation stopper. It doesn't bother me except for the awkwardness the other person feels when I give the answer. Sometimes I say that they are still in Davis and leave it at that (because they are!). But I could see she was interested enough to want details, so I told her and then tried to change the subject so she wouldn't feel bad for asking. Telling someone always totally stops whatever "getting to know you" conversation you were having.

I was going to ask what the child that (I think) was Jeri's friend is doing now, but somehow once I'd talked about Paul's and Dave's deaths, we never got around to it.

But I enjoyed chatting with several people, including a guy who has been attending Lamplighters shows for longer than Walt and I have--over 50 years. It was fun having non-business time to chat with my editor and exchange views on various theatrical things. And I loved watching the little kids play.

I talked with a woman whose first grandchild is just 8 months old and she was giving me a pep talk on the joys of grandparenthood, which I didn't need, but loved hearing anyway!

The party had started at 5, so we ate, drank, had dessert, and were picking up our souvenir wine glasses and heading out the door by 7:30. It seemed longer, but we really had a fantastic time and I'm so pleased we were included in the party.Happy Birthday, Jim...and I really do mean "welcome to the 60s!" -- Walt just thought you looked much too young to be 60, I guess!


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Turning 70 in Style

This was the decoration above the food table for our friend Jill's 70th birthday. The birthday was a few days ago, the party was yesterday in San Francisco, at the home of some friends of hers.

We didn't realize they had arranged for the guests to park at a nearby school, but my parking angel was on it anyway. In this impossible-to-park-in-neighborhood, we happened upon a couple moving their car just a few spots from the party house. (Thanks again, Gilbert!)

My recommendation to everyone about to celebrate a birthday is...make lots of friends among Lamplighters, or some other group of professional musicians!

For one thing, theatre parties have great food. Usually it's pot luck, but the food for this party was all catered and it was fabulous.

And then there is the music. You should always travel with your own musicians!

There was a wonderful song, a Gilbert & Sullivan song with lyrics re-written by Barbara Heroux, one of the Lamplighters fantastic lyricists, changing "Hail the bride of seventeen summers" from Ruddygore to "Hail the broad of seventy summers!"

Boy Scouts at pedestrian crossings
Suffer her imperious bossings.
Maidens greet her, kindly treat her,
You will all be old some day!....

...etc.

Jill's brother had flown in from Minnesota to surprise her.

(His twin brother had flown in from England, where Jill was born and raised, 10 years ago for her 60th).

There was a slide show covering Jill's life from babyhood to today running continuously to a Gilbert & Sullivan background music in one of the upstairs rooms.

I do better at Lamplighters parties than most other parties, but still not really "well." But this time I found myself sitting next to a lovely gentleman in a wheelchair, who had worked with Jill. He reminded me a lot of my friend Steve and I ended up asking him questions about himself (my new trick about how to not feel like a dolt), Turns out he, too, had grown up in San Francisco, we had similar memories and he had also graduated from UC Davis, so he was familiar with this area as well. He was also a dog person, so we shared dog stories too. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with him.

After Jill cut the cake there was a roof-raising rendition of "Hail Poetry," de rigueur at gatherings like this, it seems.

Walt and I left around 5:30 or so and made it home without encountering bad rainstorms, so all things considered it was just an absolutely lovely day and a beautiful way to celebrate another milestone in the life of this really special person!