Getting Back Together
I woke up after 'only' eleven hours of sleep. It was eight and people were walking around a lot upstairs and I wasn't really all that sleepy anymore. I think between the nap and the long, good sleep, I finally kinda caught up. There was also the very enticing scent of scones from upstairs. So I did my morning ablutions quickly, got dressed and emerged from the basement to some surprise from everyone else, as they all thought I'd sleep longer, too.
Mmmmm... raisin and orange scones with three different kinds of homemade jam and lots of orange juice. Now that's a marvelous way to start a day. More catch-up on relatives and what they were up to with pictures and commentary and many side comments. All the way through to noon and while I didn't want to drag John away from stuff he was having fun with, his parents were getting ready to go off and do something themselves at noon.
We went off to the Four Seas restaurant and had what I craved, which was an interesting and good mixture of Cantonese and Mandarin dim sum. We had fried bow, the way Mom used to fry them the day after, and garlic chived steamed dumplings first. We couldn't pass up the Chinese broccoli, even though it was an enormous plate of the stuff that was nearly too much for the two of us, but we managed to eat a very substantial amount of it. I'm still craving greens. The egg custards looked too good to pass up, so we got a plate of those while we waited for the two things I really, truly wanted. The first was the shao loong tung bow, or small steamer soup dumplings where they actually put soup in a jelled form in with the filling so when the dumpling is steamed, it fills with a very savory soup as well as the normal gingery meat filling. The second was the turnip cakes, which I know how to make, but it's much more fun to just eat a little bit, fried, than to make a whole batch and have to go through all of it.
The cart ladies soon knew exactly what I was looking for and on their circuits would tell me just how long it would be until the other was done. So the turnip cakes arrived first, crisp on the outside, creamy smooth on the inside and savory with Chinese bacon, scallions, and shrimp. Yum. Then the soup dumplings arrived, a bit too tender with a steaming that had gone just a bit too long, so they tore very easily. John sopped up his and gave me the other two as he could see how much I wanted them. I managed, with the second, to not loose all the soup to my plate, and slurped up the soup happily before eating the dumpling. John said that I liked them best because they were hard to eat. I like them for the taste, a lot, but he might have something as well. We then ate the egg custards, one and a half each, before going back outside.
It was actually sunlit! Surprise! The whole day, yesterday, and this morning were all overcast and misting or even raining. I went outside with Isabel yesterday when she went to pick herbs from her garden and it felt so good to have the rain fall on me again. I miss that so badly, and it felt just so good. So it was really fun to be with John who was doing our old 'ack! what's that bright thing in the sky!?' routine.
From there we went the one other place we had to check out. I was mildly sad on knowing that there weren't all that many places I could reasonably expect to get to, and that most of the things I could get here were things I could, mostly, mail order from the Web if I absolutely had to have it. So there weren't all that many things that we now absolutely have to do in Seattle. But the one thing left was to go to Victor's coffee in Redmond.
John was even wearing their t-shirt when we walked in. We got very enthusiastically greeted by Jane and Victor and even Brad looked happy to see us for once. It was really cool to just talk and talk and talk with them about how things were, get free coffee drinks and just be interested in their lives as well as have them be interested in ours. Jane was very impressed that I was pregnant and with some of the story on how long we'd been trying, she was actually pretty happy and encouraged. That was very good. I got decaf, and realized, as I was drinking it, that it was not a bad thing that I'd stopped getting mochas and lattes and most of the espresso drinks, even as that much sugar, now, would make me really unhappy. The new place looks really good and while we were sitting there we noticed that the new just-buying beans counter was really, really busy. That was cool. Victor's roasting is getting somewhere, and it's become really popular.
The whole place has gotten really popular. Jane said that from the moment they opened to about 1 p.m. the line has gone from the counter out the back door. So they've become really, truly busy. It's good to see old friends prosper.
John had fun talking with Jane about the coffee roaster we now have, and she said that the air roasters often lost some of the characteristics of the beans; however, it also had the gain of giving us characteristics that we never had before from coffee that might have been roasted anywhere from a week to a month before we ever saw it. She and Victor had huge bags of green beans lying around as they did their own roasting in the roaster that was now stored in the new part of the store, and John asked if we could buy some of the green beans. She recommended a few and took a while packing them, so shooed us over to the other part of the new building while she worked.
The new part of the building has a new bookstore in it as well. So we wandered over there after a while, and I happily bought C.J. Cherryh. John asked me if I was looking for anything, and I couldn't remember the name of the author that Kathy had been happily babbling to me about for a long time. I remembered all kinds of odd tangents that had the shopkeeper completely intrigued by the mystery of what it was that I was looking for. I remembered that the title of the first book of the series of three so far was like the title of a Dunnett book, but with one word changed; that the third book was just out in hardback and only in the U.K.; and that the author was once an SF writer and this new series was a beautifully complex and elaborate weave of fantasy. That was about it.
I'll look it up when I get home and it'll be obvious, but my brain just completely blocked on the name or the titles. So he gave me a card and asked me to call him with the information when I figured it out.
That was a really cool way to get to know a bookshopkeeper.
Jane, in the meantime, had packaged up some Organic Ethiopian beans and some of the old, original Mocha, the actual Yehman Mocha of the old coffee bush breeds. Smooth and creamy and rich. She just gave us half pound bags of the green beans, over our protests. She was just so happy to see us, it was kinda cool. So we finally accepted them very gratefully. Yum. I might only drink a little caffeinate coffee, but what little I drink will certainly taste good.
From there we headed right for the Gould's along the Redmond valley and then out towards Duvall. The scenery made us a bit home sick. Small sky slice over great vertical walls of green, green and more green. Trees and mountains and hills and water, water everywhere, all of it nearly drinkable. I miss the real rivers and the huge lakes and the ocean and the scads of trees that just grow and grow and grow.
Once there John called Joan back home and asked how Fezzik was doing. She said that he was getting around a bit better and seemed to be doing pretty well, all in all. That was very reassuring.
We arrived around 3, which was the pre-arraigned time. Carol and her daughter were making dinner for twenty in the kitchen when we arrived, Jay and Cameron were at Cam's soccer game, and about half an hour after we showed up they did, too, sweaty and happy as Cam had won his game. We just sat and talked with all of them for a good, long while in the relative quiet of the house when other folks started showing up a bit before sundown. Dave and Linda were first, without their teenage sons. Susan and Don showed up with Ian, their two year old son. Paul and Deirdre came with Isabel, who was dressed in a purple hat, poncho and matching clogs. Mark showed up with his two sons and six month old daughter Katherine. Mark's wife, Susie, had flown to Chicago for a shopping trip with her sister and mother and he'd been taking care of all three kids for the last three days. He seemed to be coping just fine, though none of them looked like they'd gotten quite enough sleep. Joe and Lisa with Haley and their new addition, Nathan, showed up, as usual last. They also brought a cute little black lab and border collie mix named Star, a fluffy, happy, jumpy, energetic puppy that everyone said looked like a little Fezzik, but Star was pretty clearly border collie, not Newfoundland.
Though Fezzik was pretty wiggly at that age, too.
The funny thing is that five years ago, most of these people didn't have kids, and the dinners were nearly all-adult and the complete change to this chaos of kids was pretty awesome in retrospect. It certainly was a chaos of kids, too, plus all the talking and catching up people had to do as the whole group hadn't really met since John and I had left! That really surprised me, as I had thought that the group had had some momentum going and were going to keep doing parties after we left, but it seems that it took us coming into town again for them to get motivated.
It was so much fun, too. Lots of folks were pretty happy with my getting pregnant, as we seemed to be the last 'hold out' of the group. They even threw us a baby shower! Wow. Presents and everything, and they gave us lots of really cute and fun stuff, including a wool cap that I'd knit Carol when she was having Cam and a cute little, no seams jacket I'd knit for Susan when Ian was being born! Wow. Old gifts come back pretty much unworn. Babies only go through all the sizes, not the actual cloth, both items were beautifully preserved and will probably do the newborn baby quite well in the winter. Wow. It was so very neat to see them come back and see how well they'd stood up to time and usage. These are going to be around for a while.
It was also fun seeing all the personalities of the kids and how they were something of a blend of their parents and also something more as well. Each with their own ways and means and individualities that were built up over time. Haley was one of the first, and she was probably one of the strongest minded. Little, fourteen month Nathan was completely fearless and this beautiful, blond cherub with a knack for finding the most dangerous thing in any room. He toddled about with a really, really sharp knife he'd somehow found and was climbing everything in sight. It was pretty amazing, all in all, just to see them all in one place and watch them all interact.
Dinner was great. Roast tenderloin of pork, mashed potatoes with gravy, broccoli, salads of all kinds, with apple sauce and various chutneys. Lots of Thomas Kemper pop for me, and everyone else had a good amount of beer and wine, as usual. We overflowed the dining room table and the kids had their own room and table; but the adults alternated as necessary to make sure that the kids always had some supervision. John took his turn as well, and the kid chaos overflowed everywhere.
Nearly overwhelming, too, given that I was pretty tired and the simple fact that I was pretty allergic to the cats of the house. Our bedroom was supposed to be entirely cat free; but the rest of the house still had the cats wandering about once in a while. Enough that I was mildly wheezy and sneezing now and again and sniffling a lot. I took a small time out in Carol's studio, which she has a completely working pottery studio for a good number of women that come over and make things whenever they really need to. Tonight, a woman had managed to get away from her family of three kids and a good husband who had chased her out for a little time and she was making six bowls in a row. Carol heated up some of the dinner for her as she hadn't eaten, she'd been so rushed. It was nice to just sit and rest and breath for a while.
The party started breaking up around 11. Tired kids, wise parents. So around midnight it was just the Goulds and John and I sitting in the kitchen, eating one last midnight snack before going to bed.
Bed was very welcome, but, sadly, around 2 a.m. I woke up and I was having real problems breathing. There was likely something somewhere that just still had something in it and given that the house, itself, had been aggravating my allergies all evening, it just wasn't going to get any better. I was distressed enough not to know what to do, and my old, childhood reflex was to just tough it out. Back then, even with the drugs of the time, it would simply take a while before I could breath again, and now I couldn't take any drugs. John, on the other hand, started dressing. He got me into my clothes, packed all our stuff, and went to wake up Jay and Carol to say goodbye. Carol was pretty distraught; but after some reassurance that there really wasn't anything to be done, we hugged and went out into the cool of the night air.
John drove. I was completely blind, not bothering to put in my contacts. The streetlights and cities blurred by and he was very good and very steady and got us to his parents' house pretty quickly. He called them on the celphone when we were at the top of their driveway, so they wouldn't be startled when we got in and they wouldn't set the alarms off. We then pulled in and stumbled downstairs and went to sleep. My breathing hadn't really completely recovered yet, and later that morning, around 6, I woke up for some bladder relief and I was still wheezing a little, but not nearly as badly as when we'd left. That's about when I realized just how badly I'd been affected.