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September 12, 1998
a year ago

Party Day

The first thing I heard from Flynn was an alarm beeping at me at 7 a.m. in the morning. Then, on the half-hour, it went off again, and again. I have the sleeping cycle about 90 minutes, so was being driven entirely insane. I finally opened the door, asked him if he could turn it off, and a hearing a Hyup, went back to sleep for another hour and a half. Poor Flynn, such an abrupt greeting.

He was cool, though, and made John and I waffles while we worked on moving things around for the party. I also immediately started the green chile stew. John had cubed the pork roast, and diced all the onions. I smashed and chopped garlic until it was fine, put it in some olive oil until it was fragrant and just starting to brown. I then added the onions and meat, and cooked then until they were brown and fragrant. The entire mass then went into the slow cooker, and I used a cup of John's home-brew to scrape off all the fragrant, caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan and added all of those to the slow cooker. I poured in a pound and a half of canned tomatoes. I cubed potatoes, added those, and then thawed, chopped, and added two bags of frozen green chiles. I let it cook for a little while, stirred it, and then tasted the juices. It was very tasty, but not hot enough, I knew, because it tasted hot to me.

I have very wimpy taste buds. So, I know that if it tastes hot to me it is just mildly spicy for John and all the people who like hot food, and since this stew was specifically for those who wanted spicy-hot food, I added another bag of green chiles. I didn't even bother tasting it after that, as I remember to just how hot the chiles were.

John and Flynn, in the meantime, moved bunches of deck furniture out onto the deck, and the two of them set most everything up out there. Flynn was pretty cool about helping out with everything. John then left for the soccer game that his kids were playing. The game was around 1, and he was going to get back just a bit after 3 p.m.. A bit after the party started. As part of the setup, he put a table out by the front door that had name tags and everyone was supposed to put on a name tag that had a dog's name on it. Not for any particular reason other than fun. People were coming up with all kinds of names, though that were pretty cool.

The first two to arrive surprised me completely. They were Walt and Cathie, John's brother and his wife, who lived in Albuquerque. We hadn't been expecting them at all, so the surprise was huge and really cool, as we haven't seen them for a long time, and they're really cool. So I got to talk with them some, as I started the vanilla-cinnamon ice cream.

Julie arrived soon after, and I got to at least meet her and talk with her a bit before other folks started to arrive. It was good to at least get that. The others started to come in from all sides, the front door, the side door, just around the lawn to the deck itself. All kinds of people arriving and saying hello to me, and complimenting me on my blue hair and then moving out onto the deck. I'll admit that it even overwhelmed me a bit, so when Julie said that the sheer ratio of strangers was starting to overwhelm her, I understood completely and gave her a hug g'bye. It surprised me when she came back with Anita, but I was glad that they'd have someone to talk to as the rest of the crowd came in.

There were folks from work, family, friends of family, folks from church, about half a dozen people from my Internet connections, many of which ended up inside the house when everyone else was outside. Which worked, as they were pretty happy to have the space. Singer showed up with my sister later in the afternoon, Kathy was happy to exclaim that she was covered in clay, as Singer had gotten her to actually throw something at his workshop. By the time they arrived, the deck was so full of people, it took a little maneuvering to get around

The wave of people was pretty huge. I pretty much did nothing more than greet, get comments about my hair color, and a) cook custards for the two ice creams and b) cut stuff up for the hamburger table. I think the extent of my interaction with about 90% of the people that showed up was to greet them and then to hug 'em and say goodbye when they left and hear from pretty much all of them how much fun they had had. It was really keen to know that everyone loved the party, several. It was interesting to realize that I was just so busy I just never really thought about whether or not I actually enjoyed it. I'll admit that it was a lot of fun to create something that so many people did enjoy.

The ice creams were fun to make, if a bit scary. I mean, it's not often I get to pour an entire gallon of half and half into any recipe, and then add 16 eggs, three or four cups of sugar and several tablespoons of vanilla and cinnamon. That was pretty exciting. The Mexican chocolate ice cream was done in a dasher that was half the size of the other, so it was 'only' half a gallon of half and half, half a dozen eggs, a puck and a half of Mexican chocolate, and half a bag of toasted almonds. Sizing recipes up is always a challenge of sorts, but it turned out really well. John's dad did the watching of the ice cream makers, and when the ice creams were done, they were tackled by everyone, including Fezzik.

When the ice cream was done, they gave Fezzik a big bowl of it, and he lay in the middle of the mass of people as they all sang "Happy Birthday" to him. He actually looked like he knew it was all for him and happily chowed down on the ice cream. He spent pretty much the entire party circulating through all the people. In part, I think he was looking for food, but he also got a lot of pets and food and cuddles and hugs and it was fun to see him having so much fun and getting so much attention. There was a pile of gifts in bright wrapping paper, as well as a number of really huge bones in plastic bags or on ice. After most everyone had eaten, all the bones were put on the BBQ, and were cooked so that we could either feed them to him without worrying about bacteria, or we could freeze 'em without that worry either.

All the kids loved the cone and that they could spoon ice cream onto and into them themselves. One daughter of a family friend had a cone of the vanilla-cinnamon and was diligently licking it all the time. She paid it her complete and total attention no matter who was trying to speak with her or any other distractions, until Fezzik walked by and poked his big nose in her direction. Then, being well-trained by her dog, she put the ice cream cone straight up in the air, over her head, so that even Fezzik couldn't reach it. She just held it there until he wandered away again and went back to licking happily.

John opened all of Fezzik's presents for him, and he got treats and nearly 6 pounds of biscuits, several hooves (which he loves to chew), a dried pig's ear, a giant can of dog food, more bones than I have ever seen him have, and lots and lots of toys. He immediately ate the pig's ear, crunch crunch, as he loves those things, and watched the BBQ as the bones were cooking.

People started to leave about the time it got dark, though some people were still arriving as well. All the stuff we'd bought was gone, already, so I thawed more chicken from our stores and another pound of hamburger and made a few more burgers. That fed all the remaining people, and a number of my Internet friends had filtered inside. So I got to talk with them, and share some Darjeeling with Singer. He'd brought a lovely, amazing first flush Darjeeling rich with orange tones and deep notes, we compared it to the Makaibari first flush, which had the light citrus tones, but none of the orange-sweetness, a different, smokier background flavor without the wine tones of the other. It was pretty amazing to compare the two so closely and realize that they were grown in the same kinds of climate and from exactly the same kind of plant.

I love sharing things with Singer, but the evening was so filled with things that had to get done that I didn't really get to sit with him and talk and do the tea thing properly. I was just running about getting things seen to and taken care of. But it all worked. I heard, at one point, while I was running around taking care of the chili, Jon and Kathy exchanging stories about the ComicCon and various comic authors and artists as well as stories about various meetings and the whole story behind the Jon Singer t-shirt, which Kathy had organized, originally. That was fun to listen to.

Another fun conversation was the one between Flynn and a Hell's Angel friend of the VP of sales at our company over what they learned at a motorcycle safety class and exactly what they learned going full speed on a race track on motorcycles. Gravity Bear had a lot of really keen stories and he really liked my green chile stew, said it was just right on the level of spices and heat.

By late evening, most of the folks had gone on to evening activities. We were left with a gang of six or so, including Regis, who had arrived much later in the evening, and we sat and watched vids together, including several things that Kathy had taped for me.

John was outside, cleaning up. Fezzik was lying on the deck, exhausted and panting lightly from all the food, we think. John laid a cooked bone in a bowl on the deck in front of Fezzik's nose and all the dog could do was look at it. He kept looking up as John approched him, as if to say, don't take it away, I'll get to it, I will, as soon as I can stand up again. An hour later, John saw the bowl, upsidedown, on the deck and Fezzik was on the lawn happily gnawing at the bone.

I think John and I have a system, now. He really enjoys the heat of the party, when everyone is here. I avoid that part, stay in the kitchen, do the stuff that needs doing to keep sections of it all running as best I'm able from the kitchen. Occassionally going out for things like the singing, but usually getting overwhelmed by all the people and the need to Do More Stuff, so I run back into the kitchen and bring out more food. John stays in the thick of the party, then, as he enjoys all the people and watching all the interactions. Later on, when things quiet down, and there are only a few people left, I finally sit down, relax a bit with the few people that are left, and then John goes into clean-up mode. He does nearly all of the clean up as I do most of the keep up with what's getting eaten at the party. It works out well for both of us as we both get time to enjoy the parts of a party that we enjoy. So I got to enjoy my part of the party.

That was when John found out about the name tags. That was when the enormity of the entire setup really hit me. John and I talked about it later and he has the philosophy that there are plenty of parties that other people throw that we have a great time at and that we help out with, some. And that it was simply a kind of payback, in some ways. So that everyone else could really enjoy it while we held up all the underpinnings and did the structural work to make it work. That works for me.

Eventually folks went home around midnight, and John went to sleep, so Kathy, Flynn and I watched The Princess Bride. It was Fezzik's movie in many ways, as that's where his name comes from. And when that was done, we went to sleep. This time Flynn just kept his alarm turned off.

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