Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

We had a great day. We've been anxiously anticipating it all week. Then as dusk approached I feared the evening would be derailed by some candy G asked to eat from the stash meant for our neighborhood kids. A few pieces and he was on the floor making snow angels. Fortunately the sugar metabolized quickly and we were back on track - costume on and out the door for some trick-or-treating. Then to a friend's house to watch movies outside - this is the second year they have projected movies from their computer outside. We went last year and G has talked about it ever since. He was more excited about this than the candy and after going to only a few neighbors for the candy he was asking for us to go to the "movie house". We watched the Charlie Brown Halloween special and then a bit of "The Curse of the Were-rabbit" before the kid conceded that he was exhausted and wanted to go to sleep. All-in-all, just the perfect holiday.

Carving the "happy" pumpkin, per G's request.

The triangle eyes, the many teeth. Just the way he wanted it.

At the "movie house" before the movies started. Spiderman and a wizard playing pirates.

The movie! So very cool.

Kids had their candy, the parents had beer and salty snacks. I want to do this every Friday night.

Oh, and the piece de resistance! A neighbor managed a free-hand carving of Obama on her pumpkin. Check out the halo effect above his head. To think a pumpkin could inspire such awe!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another Grand Fiesta!

Someone once told me that when it comes to your birthday you get to celebrate a day for every year you've been on the planet. I take that very seriously. Last weekend I got the pleasure of celebrating with my familia mexicana and because their matriarch, and G's beloved abuelita, also has her birthday on the 25th, we had another really grand fiesta.

Here is the patriarch of the family, with his eldest granddaughter.

Here are G and his primos hermanos: brothers/cousins/best friends.

Here I am with the eldest daughter.

The matriarch with her youngest granddaughter.

We feasted well with a delicious dish, very typical to Hidalgo, the region they call home.

The five young granddaughters made sure we ate well - and insisted on making our second meal of the day!

The youngest grandson.

As we went to cut the cakes the whole family gathered around to take pictures. There are 4 adult children, all with partners, and all of them were taking pictures. Flashes were popping everywhere. It was like we were being swarmed by paparazzi. I joked that it was like we were Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez.

The kids were unimpressed by our super-star status. They just wanted the cake!

As you may remember there is a Mexican tradition called the "mordita" or "little bite". You are encouraged to take a little bite of your cake so your family can smash your face into it. This year I was ready and tried to ward off the assault. Of course, there's just no escaping it.

And you still love your family anyway.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

First Day of Snow!

Today I needed to be at work so I woke before sunrise to take Zoe for a walk and was blown away by the surprise and beauty of snowflakes swirling in the light of our street lamps. I had to be off before the boys were up and I hoped they, too, would be able to delight in our first day of snow. Clearly they did - D sent these photos to me - and that made my day.

I'm so grateful for this picture of G and Zoe together. Zoe has been quite sick lately and we don't know if she will recover. We are grateful for every day we have with her. She has always loved the snow - so happy when she could burrow her nose and roll around in the stuff.

G decided he was cold and could use another layer and asked for D's sweater. Very resourceful, and luckily D didn't mind the chill.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Very Local Pear Jam

Before we left for California I picked 15 pounds of pears from our neighbor's tree. In previous years I watched as they went unpicked, fell and rotted on the ground. This year I decided: not on my watch. At the time they were green and hard as rocks but I put them in brown paper bags in my basement and when we got home they were yellow, ripe and juicy. The bulk of them got made into pear jam. After last year's experiment with canning I swore it would be years before I undertook such a labor again. But I'm so glad I did it. And the luscious jam is a very just reward. I hope it will make a welcome gift for some dear friends.

California Love

I swear I would move to California if not for the housing prices. I would miss North Carolina, but I would console myself with a big plate of vegetables that had been grown right down the road (9 months out of the year!) and glass of wine that had been pressed right down the street. Really, for this locavore, there is nothing better than almost 2 weeks filling up on the extraordinary friendship, food, wine and sunshine that California has to offer. Here are some pictures. (We didn't manage to get very many because once again we were struck by the curse of the travelling camera - our batteries ran out and the new ones we put in didn't work.) You can find more photos supplied by our dear friends and hosts on my Facebook page.

The first part of our trip was spent in San Francisco where I had a maternal health conference. That's right, folks, my work paid for me to take this trip. Life is very, very good. While I was in the conference dh and ds made the most of their time by hanging out at the ports, taking a ferry, riding the cable cars, exploring the streets and a much-too-short trip to the amazing Exploratorium. (Really, it sounds like you could never exhaust the wonders of that place. I can't wait to go myself next time around.)

The conference may have afforded the trip, but our raison d'etre was time with our dear friends. They hosted us for a glorious week. The whole visit was lovely and every day offered some new delight - like roasting marshmallows in their home-made fire pit. It doesn't get much cooler than that!

It doesn't get much cooler, that is, unless you're a kid and have the opportunity to eat an organic chocolate bar with your best friend while watching the movie Cars.

Last year we were blown away by the beauty and majesty of the Redwoods. This year we were wowed by the return of the Monarch butterflies. It was hard to capture but the skies literally filled with thousands of dancing butterflies. Pure magic.

The butterflies were amazing, but these boys also knew how to put on a good show.

Our last day, saying goodbye to my dear friend - but never for long.

And one last thing: remember how I had been living with unpleasant upper respiratory symptoms for months? Gone after our stay in California.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

La Troisieme (My 3rd Groovalicious Birthday Dance Party)

Words, words, words. They escape me. They can't capture the exquisite joy I felt last night at my party. So I'll mostly let the pictures tell the story. (And, Hallelujah! What pictures!)

I will just say that I almost didn't have this party because we are leaving on Sunday for an extended trip to California, I've been living with rather unpleasant upper respiratory symptoms for months (mold in the basement? monster allergies to pollen or foodstuffs?) and, maybe you don't read the paper (like me), but there are people out there worried about a financial crisis. Taken all together, it just seemed a bit much, you know?

Then about two weeks ago I realized it was the *perfect* time to have the party. And it was. Perfect. Now I just wish that I had that realization sooner, so I could have enjoyed the anticipation more. And I wish the party had been longer. With a small one, I really wanted to wrap things up by 10 so the kiddo could be in his own bed. So now I am already planning next year's fete - for my 40th! - a whole weekend of revelry, starting Friday night and going through Sunday. My very own extravapaloozathon. Ah, delicious anticipation. And until then I can content myself with the fabulous memories of last night.

I need to be on a plane in 6 hours (and get some sleep before then) so I don't have time to put the pictures in any particular order. Until I can get back and narrate, I will leave them to be a feast for the eyes.

My girls. They are fabulous.

My cake - a very decadent, vegan delight. A special shout-out to Short Street Cakes! Thanks, Jodi, for making such yummy goodness!

The very dapper D. Too bad you can't see the tie had dancers on it. And we won't see him wear it again soon. The only other time I've seen him in a tie was over 3 years ago at my son's baptism. (He's the godfather).
G. Stands for gorgeous.
Dancing to our song, "Home (This must be the place)" by The Talking Heads.

Dancing with C.
Start Me Up by the Stones. Anything to see D do his Mick Jagger impersonation!
As a gift to me, all my friends took turns taking pictures so I would have the opportunity to look back and remember it all - especially how shiney-happy we all were.

Okay, the real reason for the party: the dress. The dress demanded that there be a party. I was powerless to argue. A special shout-out to Ship to Shore Designs. Brooke Priddy is an amazing artist!

Like in years past, it was a total sushi fest. So good.

D had an amazing show at Blue Spiral this year. One of my favorite paintings (and there were so many!) was the One and the Many. He gave me this print for my birthday. And he hinted that I may have inspired the figure 2nd from the left on the bottom. Freckles and green eyes. Very cool.
So many dear friends. Such an incredible night.
My boys. They bring SexyBack. You definitely want to party with them.