...on his last night in town
Me: Anything I can do for you before I go to bed?
Boyo: Hang out?
A blast of arctic air has cooled things down here, making it downright chilly in the mornings. Of course, to us anything below 50 Fahrenheit is considered chilly and this morning it was 39 degrees in Oakland - a record low - and the weather report predicts even colder (in the twenties) for Thursday morning. Feels like December must be just around the corner.
We are now able to catch our breath, after the wedding whirlwind and the Thanksgiving transition, and I can share one bit of information with you that was kept as a secret until everyone was duly surprised. Our Boyo came home for the wedding and the holiday. Just for two weeks and then he's off again to Germany on Thursday morning and we don't expect him to return until next summer. Well, at least we hope he will return.
He's full of piss and vinegar as you can see:
He's striking out on his own and will spend this Christmas in Slovakia with friends. Then he and his cousin will go gallivanting around Europe for a week or two before he settles back in a new city and a new language program.
So this morning I'm feeling a little of that old blue-panic. Just a little. It's not just him, it's everything: blind wiener dog, Boyo leaving, Girlie's new plans, frail mother-in-law, work overload, ever-impending menopause (will it ever actually pause?). I woke up this morning in a panic of unknown origin. I'd set the alarm for 7 a.m. but it was 6 and I was wide awake. So, bath, then breakfast and then a brisk walk to the BART station. I listened to Brenda Dayne's Cast On podcast on the walk/train/walk to work and she had me alternately laughing out loud and wiping away tears. Crap. The tears want to stay. Major life changes wash over you so quickly and thoroughly that you barely have time to react. Holidays come and go in a flash and then life has to return to some semblance of normal, which seems to be always morphing into something else.
Maybe it's just this damned time of year.
Deep breath. Nose back to grindstone. And at lunch, a little recreational knitting - Vicki's socks. Sock one is headed toward the toe, and sock two will probably be cast on tonight. Let's see if that helps me shake the blue/panic away.
I present the happy couple.
And they do seem to be VERY happy. The past week has been a whirlwind of people arriving from far and wide, last-minute wedding preparations and celebration.
On Saturday, this...
The wedding cake was pronounced "Delicious!" One of the band members said, "I play a lot of weddings and that's the BEST wedding cake I've ever had."
Earlier in the week, I knitted this laceweight, handpainted soysilk...
Which was worn by the bride for good luck. (I used this pattern.)
There are so many more photos, but they'll have to be posted later. And there has been lots and lots of family time. We're all havin' a regular lovefest over here.
Yes. T must also be for my darling brother Timothy, who did something unbelievably touching while running the NY Marathon. I have been so freakin' busy this week, I wasn't able to look at his account of the marathon until tonight, when brother Pat reminded me. I burst into tears in front of the family gathered for the rehearsal dinner. Just go and read the whole thing, all four pages. It's worth it.
Go Timbo, Go!
There is plenty to be thankful for this year. My brother's wedding is this weekend. There's a new baby on the way. Another brother is flying in tonight. And there are plenty of surprises and good times to be had in the week to come.
Yet, in our Thanksgiving universe, things are changing. Every year for at least twenty-five years we've gone to Mr. Celia's family for Thanksgiving. This is the family portrait from twenty years ago.
That's Mr. Celia and me in the upper left. The little girl in the pink dress is our Girlie and the thumbsucking baby in red is our Boyo. He's sitting on Mr. Celia's Mom's lap, Mr. Celia's Dear Departed Dad is at the lower left and the little boy in blue is the father of our two grandnephews. My, my how times have changed.
Mr. Celia's Mom has always owned our Thanksgiving. After the Girlie's first Christmas, when we spent Christmas morning with my family and then drove a grueling four hours to Mr. Celia's family Christmas dinner, I put my foot down. "We're not doin' this next year," I said. "Children should be able to spend Christmas Day in their own house. They should be able to play with their new toys, stay in their pajamas and slippers, and relax." And from then on, we have stayed home, had a leisurely Christmas morning and every other year we have traded hosting the dinner with my sister. Then we would go down to Mr. Celia's family a day or two after, trying always to be there for Mr. Celia's Dad's birthday on the 27th. Twenty-five years, ago after I put my foot down, Mr. Celia's Mom put hers down, too. She said, "Well, if you're not going to be here on Christmas, can I at least have Thanksgiving?" And ever since then she has owned it.
Thanksgiving has always been the big annual family gathering for Clan Mr. Celia. And it has always been held at Mr. Celia's Mom's house, with her getting up in the wee hours to put the turkey in the oven so we could eat a noontime dinner. I would always bake pies and make cranberry relish (I could never, ever get used to that canned stuff!) the day before. Mr. Celia would get up early to help his mom, and watch the kids while I slept in. How wonderful to wake up to the delicious aromas of the cooking dinner!
It's funny, for years I chafed that we always HAD to go down to Grandmother's House for Thanksgiving and I romanticised Thanksgiving with my own family. And one year (I believe it was in 1993), when I was in my senior year at Cal and had a TON of papers to write, I stayed home and had Thanksgiving dinner with my family, while Mr. Celia took the kids to his family's dinner. That year, I missed everyone so much (and the reality with my family was not nearly as romantic as I'd remembered), that I stopped chafing and started to really look forward to the tradition we'd developed and I've really enjoyed Thanksgiving with abandon ever since. There's little pressure - Mr. Celia's family is really always more interested in what's going on with him and the kids - so I can really focus on relaxing for a few days and I've grown to appreciate and love them all for who they are.
And yet, as I said before, our Thanksgiving universe is changing. It appears that Thanksgiving 2005 was the last one owned by Mr. Celia's Mom. She suffered a "little" stroke in early December, which greatly affected her ability to take care of herself. She moved in with Mr. Celia's Brother and his wife, who took really good care of her, but that 24/7 thing gets overwhelming after several months and finally, in August, Mr. Celia and his brother made the decision to move her to an assisted care facility. She has been struggling with that adjustment ever since.
This year we will begin to develop a new Thanksgiving tradition as the ownership of the holiday passes to my generation. Mr. Celia's Brother and his wife will host a (gasp) evening dinner. The two brothers and their cousin will have lunch with Mr. Celia's Mom at her new domicile and the rest of us will try to spread out our visits so as not to overwhelm her or interfere with the routine that holds things together for her.
I hear we're going to have a traditional turkey and (gasp) barbequed salmon. I, as always, will bring the pies, although I'm thinking of tinkering with the recipies a little bit, based on my experience with the wheatless, natural-foods baking I've been experimenting with for the wedding. And, of course, I'll make the traditional cranberry relish. Seems like they rely upon it now. I own that part of the Thanksgiving tradition.
As long as I am methodical, I don't get lost in the pattern. By this time on Sock No. 1, I had already ripped back. I say ripped back, not tinked, in several areas many times. But having finished the first sock seems to have done the trick. I am more experienced in this intricate, twisted knitting pattern and I am no longer taking one step forward and then two steps back. Yes, I've got this far in only five days, and the knitting opportunities this weekend will be many. And I'm comfortable enough to knit a row or two on BART. It takes meticulous chart following, but I'm finding that rather easy to do now with the aid of two little Post-it strips that I very.methodically.move. after completing each row.
OK. I'm knocking on wood now - don't wanna jinx my knitting mojo, ya know. But I'm also finally enjoying the pattern and enjoying when people admire what I'm working on. It's not kicking my butt any more. I'm kicking its.
At work or in school: I need to be "hands on": I like to play games, to compete, and to perform. I enjoy flexibility, changes of pace, and variety. I have difficulty with routine and structure. My favorite subjects are music, art, theatre, and crafts. I often excel in sports. I like solving problems in active ways and negotiating for what I want. I can be direct and like immediate results.
With friends: Planning ahead bores me because I never know what I want to do until the moment arrives. I like to excite my friends with new and different things, places to go, and romantic moments.
With family: I need a lot of space and freedom. I want everyone to have fun. It is hard for me to follow rules, and I feel we should all just enjoy one another.
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Three wheat-free, naturally-sweetened*, macrobiotic cakes.
Clockwise, from the top:
Gingerbread Fruitcake, loaded with dried fruit: plums, cranberries, blueberries, figs, raisins & apricots. Judged too sweet.
Chestnut Cake, chestnut & barley flours, cranberries, pinenuts, orange juice & rind, and rosemary. The clear winner of this round.
Carrot Cake, coconut, pineapple, raisins & walnuts. What's not to love?
And the icing, from left to right:
Almond cream, blanched almonds, maple syrup, and rice/soy milk, almond extract.
Cashew cream, cashews, maple syrup, rice/soy milk, vanilla
The cashew cream is a little too...sticky, even though the texture is smoother. The almond cream could use a little less almond extract but was judged best of show by all tasters.
We await the judgement of the bride and her father (who arrive today!).
The cakes and icings were all creditable efforts in their own right. Really delicious, as a matter of fact. And the bonus? I'm getting some good ideas for wheat-free holiday baking. I'm planning on trying out some other combinations next weekend. Specifically, I'd like to try a carob entry, for those wedding guests who are into the dark side. Also, I'd like to see if I can improve on the Chestnut Cake, by adding xanthum gum to the batter to make it a little less crumbly. And, who knows? I might just get inspired to make something completely different. Tune in again next Monday for a report on next Sunday's taste test.
As for Bayerische No. 1, she is finished. Bayerische No 2. is on the needles and halfway through the first repeat... Time consuming & fiddly, but beautiful already.
Speaking of beautiful,
I love the fall!
*sweetened with Brown Rice Syrup, Barley Malt Syrup, or Maple Syrup
My city has been invaded by more than 70,000 football fans. Our boys are on national TV (ABC) tonight and beating the bejeezes out of the UCLA Bruins. Go Bears!
And the puree is in the freezer awaiting Thanksgiving.
This afternoon, I baked three test cakes for my brother, Mike, to taste test.
He's getting married two weeks from tomorrow! And I'm baking the cake!
And I'm this close to finishing the first Bayerische sock.
It's been a good day!