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Our usual New Year’s dates left us high and dry this year, leaving Jim and me to fend for ourselves. No appetizer pig-out and Balderdash marathon this year. What to do… what to do…

I’ve been reading about this new community event this year with the region’s best dance band… we’ll dance in the new year. That’s totally us, right?

[Note: Since I mentioned to people that we were going dancing for New Year’s, everyone’s like, “Jim?” “Jim’s going to dance?”  Nobody seems to know that Jim used to be a saloon kind of dude who hung out with fellow surveyors and trades guys in Sacramento and foothill bars every night after work drinking cheap beer and dancing to classic rock bands. He was totally that guy. I didn’t know him then, but sure I’d have loved hanging out with him, because underneath the beer-drinking, rock-dancing saloon dude, he’d have been Jim, which was probably a good combo.]

Anyway, Jim, my super good sport husband, was game, so we went to the International Order of the Odd Fellows’ New Year’s Eve Bash. Mumbo Gumbo presiding.

We found out Bill and Sabrina were also going so we hitched a ride with them, and being Davis, we ran into all kinds of people we knew. You know, it was sorta like a party. They limited attendance to around 225-250 so there was good energy but also room to move.

I’m more in love with the voices of Tracy Walton and Chris Webster when blending in harmony and quieter folky stuff, but when added to the cacophony of instruments in the MB band, they’re great to listen–and especially dance–to. So we danced for a few hours, really stopping only when the band took breaks. It was incredibly, balls out fun. We’re talking skirt and cowboy boots dancing like a 20-something fun.

Some shots:

I don’t know all the band members’ names and they’ve changed over time, I’m pretty sure. Chris (center) and Tracy are mainstays. The sax guy’s been around a long time. There are two others out of view in this picture.. a newish keyboardist, as we heard Bill Fairfield’s got ear issues and isn’t playing regularly, and Rick Lotter the drummer, who I think’s an original member. Not certain about any of it, but here they are:

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It was definitely an over-50 crowd. Hilarious. I think we tore it up, though. I believe that’s Bill in the middle of the crowd, and you can’t quite see Phil and Amina, who were a just a hot-dancing blur all night.

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After a few hours, and at the time-appropriate moment, this happened.  Yup… a balloon drop:IMG_4026

They’d distributed noise makers and champagne, too.  Just like a NYE party!

And then we, staid and mature crowd that we were, started kicking and batting balloons all over the place, spilling champagne down people’s backs (poor Jim), and stuff like that:

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You can’t quite appreciate the silliness and chaos of all these balloons flying, but it was pretty funny (for a while anyway).

And, lest old acquaintances be forgot, which they shouldn’t (as they say), here are B&S:

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It should also be noted, for the family record, I liked the one slow dance best.

Cold Duck

December 30, 2014

Will you look at that wind!

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(You may have to use a little imagination…)

It was either the fierce wind or the cold, or both, that caused all these ducks to congregate.. not sure why they 1) wouldn’t go into the water, 2) didn’t move when we walked right up to and through their confab..

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My Favorite Restaurant

December 29, 2014

Well… it’s really Symposium, but wow, Tuco’s, again, served up a fabulous dinner tonight.

Here’s what I love about life in the internet age (besides everything): I googled Tuco’s, clicked on images, and found every picture contained herein…. my whole dinner is represented. Wild, huh? Don’t know who took them, and the resolution is not uniformly good, but every part of my dinner was found among the google images.

So… here’s Tuco’s:

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Here are the two appetizers we had.. 1) crostini…garlicky, olive oily, perfectly toasted bread (wonderful bread, too) with goat cheese and fresh herbs. I highly recommend this.

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and 2) Pao de Quejo, which I also highly recommend… as good as the cheese bread balls in Brazil:

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It was hard to not get the bacon-wrapped dates, but nobody else was a pork eater.

I ordered the chicken tacos, and jesus, they were fantastic… the chicken’s good–I think they do it with an achiote paste (not sure about this), but it’s the bacon chard; the buttery chewy, crusty rice; the homemade tortillas (which look just like mine when I make them… a little fat and irregular); the spicy salsa; and, weird for me to say, the black beans that make this dish so incredible. The flavors, the textures, the combination. I swear, it’s hard to imagine, but these things are insane…

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And I had a white flight (though the picture shows red). I think this is the perfect way to drink wine with dinner… four different kinds, each tasty and unique with a nice write up… it’s fun all the way through the flight:

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We had dinner with Wendy K and her husband Barry. Wendy was a classmate from kindergarten all the way through high school. We were only acquaintances then, but should she and her husband decide to move to Davis (from Huntington Beach… who does THAT?), I’m sure we’d be friends. They sure are giving Davis a fair shake.

I really respect anyone who looks at their life and makes decisions proactively about such things as where they might want to live out the rest of their days… especially when that might mean moving to a whole nuther city when they are still young enough to make new friends and essentially start life all over again. Most people just sort of make decisions like that by default.. which is to say, they just stay where they are. Wholesale life change is hard. So.. hat’s off to Wendy and Barry.  I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I kinda hope they choose Davis.

Grandma’s Funny

December 28, 2014

Played table tennis with Peter today. This is always the best way to talk. If it’s going to come out, it comes out while he’s otherwise preoccupied or distracted, and therefore less self-conscious. He won’t tell me things he absolutely doesn’t want to divulge, he’s just freer with conversation. More willing to talk and share. And even listen.

So, historically, it’s been good me/Peter time.

Today we talked about Christmas and why it was good… for example, he concluded that making us a list of things he wanted was a good idea; he thought the Rocky Road was excellent this year (he made a batch); he liked our choice of red fir, it really grew on him, he said.

We also talked about the other events surrounding Christmas… Uncle Vic’s graveside memorial, Uncle Bud’s 90th birthday, visiting Aunt Annita, all the family he hung with–and in some cases met. I liked how he really seemed to value these things. I also appreciated a chance to sort of put some punctuation at the end of his observations…It was a good discussion.

My favorite of his comments this afternoon was that Grandma is funny. We were talking about her quirky little tree and he agreed that she’s kind of a hoot. He said, “I know… that tree…  Grandma’s funny. She’s a lot funnier than you are.” He said it with this new kind of realization and sincere appreciation for who his grandma is. He’s never really noticed before and to me it was a great sign that his eyes are opening a little and seeing things as more of an adult, certainly more of a young adult.

I almost cried (inside anyway). You know how one of our basic human needs is to be seen, for people to really know us.. to get us, to maybe even like us for who we really are? It turns out, for me, this bleeds a little into people getting who my mom is, at least my son and husband. I’ve always wanted them to understand her better, and in Peter’s case to really like her. I didn’t know how important that was until today when his observation of her went a little deeper and was a bit more nuanced. He seemed genuinely kindly toward her.

It just totally made my day. At long last, it seems like Peter kind of gets his grandma, and appreciates her just a little. I think she would really like that.

Besides, who wouldn’t think she was funny?

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Brilliant, Bright and Clear

December 27, 2014

Oh Saturday! You are gorgeous!

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Nothing but sun in the forecast for the next week. Cool and at times windy… but clear skies ahead.

Exhale

December 26, 2014

Oh how I love the day after. I know I’ve written about that a lot in the past, but man….  I just love the wide open spaces of a day without tasks and commitments, following days full of tasks and commitments. I know you do, too.

is that a collective exhale I hear?

The holidays are so full, there are so many tasks that have to be done. But at this time of year especially, I have such a desire to go into that inner space, to connect with a sweeter spirit, to reflect. So, mostly, it’s the silence that I appreciate when the holiday has passed. The time and space to meander.

So I was lying in bed just thinking about it all… the weeks following the last big exhale (which happened the day after the Peterson family’s departure following a wonderful Thanksgiving visit). I hadn’t posted much in Facebook in the last few weeks, but tapped out a thought while lying there in the quiet:

Good, good morning…beautiful day after Christmas. Just lying here thinking… I will never, ever forget this season. One beloved uncle (Vic) died at 92, another (Bud) celebrated his 90th birthday. We lost a dear, dear friend unexpectedly and way too soon… Rest in peace Floyd. Another aunt (Annita) 91, is entering her final stages of life, and we will celebrate Jim’s dad’s (Jim) 90th birthday next week. We have been up and down the state and criss-crossed it numerous times not missing a chance to celebrate and honor our sweet elders. We got to host my mom and all my sibs for Thanksgiving and see them again just a few days before Christmas on one of our trips south and THEN had a great Christmas with all the Frames in the Bay Area yesterday. And underneath it all Peter said this was the greatest Christmas ever…mostly for all the right reasons. I think in addition to a good haul, he sensed the extra love and kindnesses and LIFE and FAMILY happening all around. This morning it all feels peaceful and quiet and ready for what might unfold next. Love to all.

Just scratchin’ the surface, Facebook style, ya know? Ready to be in that New Year space I love so much. Working to make sense of the past year, prepare for the next with intention and open heartedness.

Yay.

So… yeah, first things first…all the Christmas stuff, which was good, really good. But also Uncle Vic, Aunt Annita, Uncle Bud, Grandpa Jim, Grandma Ina, Uncle Dean, Aunt Ellie, Aunt Joy, and Floyd, June… all dealing this Christmas season with life, death, mortality, challenges, changes.  And everyone around them, dealing with all of that, as well.

I’m especially grateful Peter’s aware, at least somewhat engaged, taking it all in. I don’t want to beat him over the head with life lessons, but I sure want him to see beyond his sphere a little, and I think he is starting to.

I think Buddhists learn to breathe in life’s suffering, and to breathe out love. I am really moved by this idea. I love the consciousness of that, the awareness of other people’s pain, the intention of connecting with compassion. it gives me an incredible sense of peace.

I’m using this picture again because it fills me with such joy. It defines, at least in part, what Christmas was about this year… Uncle Vic (with Jane) just hours before he died. Love and a life well lived.

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The Day

December 25, 2014

There’s an aspect to Christmas that sort of reminds me of taking finals in college. By the time the day arrives there is nothing left to prepare, you’ve done as much as you can do, it’s time to just let it roll.

Like it or not, Christmas is a major undertaking. Even if you’ve worked to simplify and get down to the essence-est of the holiday–those most basic and cherished things that inspire and feel so right–it’s still a lot of work and it takes good planning. I know I’ve gone on about this before… I’m just so gratified that I’ve found a way to enjoy Christmas again and not feel burdened by it. Let’s hear it for the uber planners! And holy mother of somebody’s god, I’m just so elated when the day arrives and the prep stuff is finally over. We get to just climb aboard and enjoy the day.

It was a great day.

Started early with warmed, crisped, homemade muffins and coffee to accompany stockings…

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Happy me..

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This was a Mishka’s gift card and the promise of a full Saturday (in January sometime) to spend any way and anywhere I want with Peter (and Jim).

This is a painting by Jim’s mom, Sonia, probably painted when she was a very young woman. Alan found it among some stuff in an attic a couple years ago and passed it along to us.. and I finally framed it and gave it to Jim this year… came out great!

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This was goofy, but even a 16-year-old likes silly toys. Table tennis. Literally. Very fun!

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For the time being, cookie sheets are providing the best suction for the net posts… but a better solution will probably be small china saucers. They didn’t stick at all to the wood.

Matty and Mike got these wool scarves in a small village in Ireland a couple months ago..as the story goes..

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(We discovered instant thank you notes via texted photos… this is the picture I sent to them..)

We hung out at home for a few hours, then headed down to Piedmont to visit Aunt Annita at Piedmont Gardens. She seemed more alert than she had the previous visits though she was very difficult to understand. We’re not sure she knew who we were, but she was gracious and warm. I was so glad Peter got to see her and say a few things. He handled the situation well.

Then on to Monica and Dror’s in Albany. These were the best of a set of not-very-good shots from the evening:

Twins are opening their gifts from us: Dean’s opening a cow bell and tambourine for his new drum set, and Matthew’s about to open some Particle Fever paraphernalia… he’s also a particle physics buff like Peter.

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Maita…

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Uncle Dean… it must have been hard for him to be there without Annita..

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Dror and Alan at dinner…

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Peter and Ben at dinner…

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And that was about it for pictures worth posting… sorry to John, Marie, Monica and Jim… your pictures were worse.