March combo birthday party
Sunday, March 11 2012
Our friends Nancy and Deborah both have birthdays in March, so Gretchen had arranged to throw them a party at our house today. It would be a daytime party, beginning at noon. I hadn't done any cleaning last night, so as Gretchen prepared her final series of dips and spreads (one of which had been made from my fava bean tempeh), I went on something of a cleaning jihad. It was thorough in parts; for example, this was the first time I'd ever cleaned the greyish grime off the plastic bins where we keep the dog and cat kibble.
There were a few cancellations, including from an in-demand woman who has canceled on a number of other occasions. It made Gretchen retroactively come up with an idea for a Seinfeld episode. It would be about a "canceler" and might involve, I don't know, Costanza hoping to score effortless social points by inviting a notorious canceler to a very lavish party, confident that the canceler would cancel at the last minute. (Evidently Gretchen knows Seinfeld well enough to know that such an episode was never made.)
When everyone had finally arrived at our party, their cars completely filled our driveway. The same dogs were in attendance as had come to our dogwarming party a week before, and most of the people were the same, though our neighbor Andrea wasn't there; she'd been replaced by Deborah's friend Jane, an alternative rock cellist.
We all stood around the table eating crackers and dips and drinking mimosas. I don't remember much of what we talked about, though I do remember that the only thing Ray talked about was his new obsession, the historical epic entitled Spartacus. He especially appreciates the uninhibited sex between the various gladiators.
People were impressed with my fava bean tempeh, so I took a bunch of them up to the laboratory to show my tempeh incubation system. I turned on the disco ball while we were there, and (due to recent maintenance and improvements) it started right up.
The weather forecast had predicted a 60 degree day, but it was slow in coming. Nevertheless, Gretchen and I had thrown open all the doors when temperatures were still in the mid-50s. It was chilly in the house for our party, but everyone was wearing jackets and the sun definitely helped. People can stand much colder conditions when there is the promise of an imminent spring. For the first time this year, I put some of the plants I've been growing in the dining room window outside to enjoy the naked sun.
Eventually we all ate a buffet-style meal of pizza made by Sarah the vegan, tofu pie made by Gretchen, and a weird pan-asian pasta fruit salad made by Ray. There were also collard greens cooked with seitan sausage. It was all delicious except for Ray's salad; I don't know what made him think noodles would go well with mango.
After the meal, a large group of us walked the entire length of the Stick Trail and then over to the Canary Falls, which we hadn't made it to last week. As you may recall, I'd boasted that these falls are the highest in the world and flanked on both sides by active volcanoes. They couldn't quite live up to that sort of hype, but everybody was surprised by how beautiful they actually are. We hung out there over a half hour, watching the dogs play tug of war and cautioning them when they stepped too close to the edge of a cliff.
On the walk home, Deborah noted that she'd gone for many walks in our woods before but we (mostly Gretchen) had never once taken her to the water fall, which, to her, made no sense. It's by far the most spectacular thing in the forest. Later I asked Gretchen why, and she said, "I sort of forgot about the falls."
Back at the house, I made a second batch of coffee and there was a little more champagne consumption. Ray and I were the only people to hit the hard liquor; he added some kahlua to his coffee and I made myself a bloody mary. At some Gretchen produced a two-layer spelt chocolate cake with white frosting she'd baked and we all sang the non-public-domain birthday anthem known as "Happy Birthday." You'd think of all people this group would be creative enough to come up with an alternative.
After the walk, the dogs were far less active than they'd been before it. The young dogs were especially tuckered out, and Michæl found that he could arrange them like fruit in a still life. Lucy the chocolate Lab was still pacing around and breathing her humid low-tide breath on everyone. Inevitably her thick wagging tail knocked over Nancy's wine glass, causing it to fall in splinters on the floor. Gretchen quickly fetched the fancy new Dyson vacuum cleaner, and after cleaning up the glass, I acted as if the party and Nancy's broken glass had all been a setup for us to sell everyone on the glorious new Dyson.
At around sundown, almost everyone left en masse. Had they not, the logistics of shuffling the cars would have been too difficult. Ray and Nancy (and their dog Suzy, whom they'd dressed with fake pearls) stayed on for another half hour, telling us all about the glorious tourist destination that is Cabo San Lucas (where they'd recently spent a week). Nancy is fond of saying of Upstate New York, "It's so dark!" because of the relative paucity of outdoor lighting. But in Cabo she'd found herself saying, "It's so bright!" This is because there are no landforms to obstruct the rising and setting of the sun from and upon the sea. And there's no humidity to intercept it in the air.
Once all our guests were gone, Gretchen curled up in front of the television and I went off to bed even though it was only about 8:00pm.
Tricia (she has a Bulgarian royalty personna in the local women's arm wrestling league) with the dogs along the Stick Trail (41.924935N, 74.102654W).
Crossing a gulley along the Stick Trail. In the front is Michæl, followed by Tricia, Sarah the vegan, and others. (41.920066N, 74.10583W)
Eleanor found a deer antler somewhere along the Stick Trail. I'd seen a loose antler in the forest before. Allou eventually took it from her.
Dogs at the Canary Water Fall playing tug-of-war. From left: Ramona, Deborah's dog Allou, and Michæl's dog Penny (41.923259N, 74.114156W).
People at the falls. From left: Paul, Ingrid, Deboarh, Sarah the vegan (in the back), Jane the cellist, and Carrie (Michæl's wife) talking Gretchen.
A beautiful Shagbark Hickory (41.925781N, 74.109564W)
Still life with dogs. Michæl is arranging the tuckered-out Allou (left) and Penny. Ramona is on the right.
Gretchen hug Ramona, with Sarah the vegan to her left (our right).
Our driveway as everyone left en masse.
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