Almost there...

Friday, January 02, 2004

Ten days. Vacation is good. Back home now. To catch up, here's the summary version...

The holidays were good. It started with a pseudo family reunion for the Wreyford side of the gang, with a trip to my Cousin Debbie's house in Novato. Her husband Ken is a space nut and touring his in-home museum was fantastic. He's working on a museum exhibit at the tech museum in October. More information will follow, but suffice to say, it's a neat collection, and it must be nice to be wealthy.

Christmas Eve, the Sacramento Bee printed an article about Urban Tribes. I wrote to the person creating the article after hearing about it on the Barbarians list thinking, "Hey, that describes the group in Sac perfectly." With the best of intentions, I talked to the writer. Her agenda focused more on how tribes are replacing blood families more than being a second family. For me, the group is just that. They are my chosen family. We get together on Christmas night after all the other Christmas activities to spend some time winding down and share gifts and food with one another after our compulsory family events. We also get together lots of other times during the year - for an Easter Egg hunt with promises in the eggs, for Krazy Khabib's food festival, for various neo-Hellenic pagan events like Pyanepsia, Lenea, and Dionysia, for the 4th of July Bring Your Own Bomb party, for poker nights, for Anne and Mario's annual reading of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. My blood family gets together for the compulsory holidays, but our religious and political differences make us less close than I am to my friends. Anyway, I went to my grandparents' place for Christmas Eve, and things seemed more or less fine, and I'll never know whether they read the article or not, but likely they did. My grandparents are highly skilled at avoiding topics which may cause discord. Usually. At the end of the night, my grandpa started railing against "Arabs" and "Islamic people" saying that they were raised from birth to hate us and that they're all out to get us. I countered that the problem isn't Islam itself, but religious extremism. I cited Northern Ireland and later the Ku Klux Klan as causing untold bloodshed in the name of Christ. He kept trying to impress on my how the Islamic world was going to rise up and kill us all. I countered that the world would be better off without organized religion of any kind, since it causes so much death and misery in this world and since we need only live by one simple rule - treat others as you would wish to be treated. It's that simple. Anyway, we went several rounds, and nobody won. It's been at least six or seven years since I've had one of these nights with my grandparents. I suspect that maybe the 112 words in the paper didn't help matters.

The next day at my Aunt Debbie's house for dinner with the Hill family, my uncle Howard handed me the paper and asked if that was me. I said yes with a heavy sigh. He handed the article to my dad on his way out. Joy. We hung out with my dad at his place for a few hours before heading over to the Wilson's place to wind down. By the time we arrived, I was so relieved to be there.

On the plus side, I got just about everything I wanted from my wishlist that was $100 or less. Quite a haul. Personal favorites include the Battlestar Galactica boxed set and a Trogdor the Burninator babydoll t-shirt. Lots of other stuff too.

So then we went to Seattle for five days. Dirk and Tracey and Camryn were all sick when we arrived, but we seem to have escaped unscathed. Camryn is as adorable as ever, having recently turned three. We got her her first games ever for Christmas - CandyLand and Chutes and Ladders. She really liked Candyland. We also got to meet Ella, who's just 3 months old and snuggly. She liked falling asleep with me. After a day or so, I could get her to fall asleep like magic. Just add warm blanket and rocking chair and get one snoozy baby. Reading a book with a sleeping baby on your chest is quite a treat. Ella is more fussy than Camryn ever was, but still a pretty mellow baby. Tracey has gotten totally hooked on Buffy and is watching them in reruns now since Ella is a night-owl. Camryn is hooked on Dora the Explorer. Thank goodness for Tivo. I don't know how parents could do without one.

On our way out of town, we stopped in at the Utilikilts store where they recognized Rick immediately. They were just finishing up on the judging for the mock-u-mercial. They assured him that "You're going to have a very happy new year." Turns out his commercial won first prize!

We flew home on the 30th. Well, we flew out of Seattle, then came back due to a leaky oxygen tank in the cockpit, then flew home. In the meantime, it had started snowing. Snow falling is pretty.

On the 31st, I pulled myself out of bed and headed to Tate's to cook like a maniac. I peeled shrimp for curry and cut cucumber and tomatoes for a Thai cucumber salad. I made yummy spanakopita. But the big news was baklava. Now I know how to make it, and the really bad news is that it's easy. Time consuming, but easy. Lots of nuts. Lots of layers of buttered filo. A simple sugar sauce. The recipe called for walnuts. I've often had it with pistachios. But as walnuts in a recipe can almost always be replaced with pecans to make a better treat, I tried it, and boy oh boy was it good. Now when I want baklava, I'll make it myself, my way. Yummy yummy yummy. Krazy Khabib's was a success. We toasted in the new year and kissed and hugged and it was good.

On New Year's Day, we dutifully ate our black-eyed peas to ensure prosperity in the new year (but really to ensure avoiding a haranguing by my grandma). We spent the day lounging around with my mom, eating quiche and watching Queer Eye, Faking It, and Seabiscuit. It was the laziest day I've had in recent memory, and it was nice. We packed up and headed home to sleep in my own bed. Nym was VERY happy to see us. She spent last night wrapped around my head on my pillow. She's decided that's the best place to sleep. Good thing I'm not allergic to her. We spent another lazy day here, going to see Big Fish at the Mercado, followed by supper at Tomatina. Big Fish is a good film. Go see it. Tonight I'm off to Friday Night Waltz and Rick is going to go play with Cyrus. Tomorrow is the PEERS Twelfth Night Ball. Then it's back to work on Monday. The last two weeks have whizzed by. I hope I'm ready for work on Monday. Right now it seems entirely too soon.


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