Friday, July 31, 2009

Endless summer

The other night, my friend Mary Ann made this (partial) comment on the blog:

First and foremost would be a Pasquale Cucumber Salad, from the black sand beaches of Mexico, with 20’ waves, palapas bars lining the shore and that cute surfer from Texas. It was hot, but the beer was cold and all the tables had fresh slices of cucumber dressed with minced jalepeno, sea salt and vinegar...and we were young & tan with sun-bleached hair and beautiful boys to entertain us, still in the top 5 summers ever...

She may have been commenting about the cucumber salad, not the season, per se, but her description transported me there, to the summer we spent in Mexico, supposedly studying Spanish. But language study turned out to be background noise, heard only during the morning hours, then quickly forgotten as we walked the suburban streets of Guadalajara back to our host family’s home to sit down to a large, homemade Mexican meal, always accompanied by fresh squeezed juices of every kind: watermelon, cantaloupe, papaya….

The siesta that followed was almost always during an incredible afternoon downpour, white noise that doubled as the city’s daily air freshener.

It wasn’t long after it cleared that we’d head out to the corner to take the local shared taxi-like ‘combi’ to the Suites Bernini, a housing option that most of our guy friends opted to inhabit -- two bedroom apartments with daily maid service and an armed guard at the front door.

Surely the maid had never worked so hard, but perhaps she’d never collected so many single dollar bills or returnable glass bottles, either.

Weekends we got out of the city, heading west, to the coast.

We headed to Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta, Pasquale, Zihuatanejo. Some of the best side trips ever. Sure there were chipped teeth, near drownings, and mishaps on planes due to over indulgence. There was too much tequila and arguments in tropical downpours and all matter of other shenanigans, but mostly, mostly there was a group of early twenty somethings who spent a space in time together, not even a whole summer, but a matter of weeks that I doubt any of us will forget.

That summer was exactly 20 years ago. Late July of 1989, that’s were I was, where we all were. I’m not sure where the time goes….. But here I am, exactly 2 decades later, holed up in the hospital, waiting to have a baby with a beautiful boy I met there, that summer, so long ago…. (Man do I wish I had the photo of the tequila-induced peace-sign he shaved in his chest one night to show you – both because he was already a manly stud back then, and because it’s a good illustration of the flavor of all those Mexican summer nights.)

Endless summer, I guess it’s sometimes true.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Show the Love

This is Izzy.

Izzy is the daughter of my friend Christine, who has a cottage at Misquamicut Beach this week, and casually invited us up. I don't think Christine realized just how quickly we would say yes.

Christine has a couple of sons, too, who are as clever and fun and smart and entertaining as their younger sister is. They bailed, though, after the first couple of rounds of Catch Phrase, and left the womenfolk to carry on the game.

Izzy's 8, almost 9, and she's extraordinarily good at Catch Phrase.

And awfully cute while she's at it.

I mean really.
Christine's niece Becky is spending the week with Christine's family, and it was us against them. Christine and I against Becky and Izzy. The UConn grads vs. the elementary school and high school girls. The 40-somethings against the under-17s.

And the bad guys were winning.

We got 'em, though. We flattered them and fist-pumped them and knuckle-balled them until they got soft and let their defenses down.

Then we went in for the kill.

In the meantime, our photographer was either getting taller . . .

. . . or inhaling helium . . .

. . . or being ascended . . .

. . . or growing wings. Our photographer seems to have taken flight . . .

After our crushing victory game, the party moved to the Westy, as it often does. Everybody loves a Westy party.
Christine and Becky love a Westy party . . .
Kenny and Christopher love a Westy party . . .
Well? What's not to love?

And what's the point of being a Westy-loving goober . . .

. . . if you're not going to show it?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

the scene

Last weekend, we joined my husband’s family in the fair city of Sacramento for a bi-annual reunion. At one point, one of the nephews mentioned that when he had told friends that he was going to a family reunion, they assumed that it was something to be endured rather than enjoyed. “The hell, you say” (he undoubtedly said), our family reunions are ragers!”
This year was no different. In the six or so years since the official reunions began, a most remarkable thing has happened…while we brothers and sisters and spouses got old and potentially boring, those little nieces and nephews all grew up into really fun party people! It was like back to college week, but without fear of scandal or humiliation because this is family, and you are expected to humiliate and scandalize yourself.

The massive volume of food and alcohol necessary to entertain this group for three days is impressive, but not as impressive as the solid consistency of the relationships that form and re-form over the years. As usual, my family is the farthest removed from the group both geographically and chronologically. My husband and I were each the youngest in our large families, and our kids are much younger than their cousins. We don’t see them as often as they see each other.

Some years, like this one, the difference is dramatic. My boy’s closest boy cousin is now 15, and I think he grew 14 feet since they last saw each other. I wondered if he would have outgrown his goofy little-kid cousin, but the two of them found a camaraderie bound by horrific video game murders and maximum velocity body tossing in the pool.

Likewise, my girl’s closest cohort is teetering on the brink of adolescence, and could easily have rolled her eyes at this 8 year old appendage that suddenly developed on her shapely young body. But the two girls were virtually inseparable for the duration, choreographing skits and games and adventures that left no room for the intrusion of well meaning yet totally dorky adults.

The older cousins divided their time between humoring the old dogs by teaching us new tricks, revisiting the skits and flips of their youth with the little ones, and stealing off on their own for scenes accompanied by the talk and laughter that cousins are uniquely equipped to compose.

Scenes from our reunion*:

*disclaimer: people who smile and strike poses in front of cameras tend to show up in more photos. people who hide from or behind cameras? not so much. and it's not MY fault there is no group shot, I'm just an in-law!

setting the stage: everyone had a cup adorned with their nickname and a representative drawing. mine was "whacquie jacquie" and the drawing was of me burying a body making a sandcastle

The pool was perpetually filled with small people making like hamsters in a wheel

and surrounded by shiny, happy people. day and night.

there were drinking games

even a byramid!


why do I always forget how fun drinking games can be? If only it was something I could enjoy with my own children. Wait.... well... nevermind about that.

who invited uncle fester?

beerpong is somehow more taxing in the light of day. It was difficult to force myself to participate

here's what it looked like when we tried to go somewhere:

it was worth it, though

there's something about that brown dog... can't put my finger on it...

Oh, did I not mention the wigs?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The never ending story

I know you’re sick of reading about the hospital, I’m sick of writing about the hospital, believe me. From its food to its ability to make one feel like a helpless child to its crazy schedules, I’ve dissected it ad nauseam, but I’ve got another one for you.

I just can’t help it.

It's one of those posts you have to write because a blog, if nothing else, is a venue where you can highlight the more absurd episodes of your life. You know, the break down of your automobile that forced you to camp out in the Motel 6 in Nogales, Arizona for a week, or the ticket you got from the humane society for being inhumane to your very own dog, or the theft of your gym clothes, of all things, from your car that unfortunately involved the smashing of the car window. Those kinds of stories….

Here’s my current one: I have pneumonia!

Does it get any better?

It’s a mild case, and in all honesty I would in all likelihood not be getting these meds, dispensed intravenously and by mouth, if I was not in the hospital, pregnant and prone to bleed.

But, alas, I am.

It all started with what I think was a little virus, which morphed into this annoying, never ending, sometimes hacking cough. Which again, in my humble opinion, had something to do with the latest bleed I had on Friday night.

I was returned from labor and delivery Saturday morning without delivering -- thank god. But the cough remains.

So they’ve tried different treatments. Cough medicine, then cough medicine with codeine (I know, I’m pregnant!), then yesterday they decided I should also try this bad boy:

An albuterol inhaler...

Then today a new doctor suggested I get a chest x-ray (I know, I’m pregnant!) and consult with the pulmonologist.

The x-ray, surprisingly, to me and my doctors and nurses who have not heard anything suspect in my lungs, showed gunk in my left lung.

Just a bit of pneumonia.

So now they’re really medicating me.


And intravenously:
Gotta love the hospital….

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Tale to Tell

I work in a bar.
I don't know if I've ever mentioned that.
Have I ever mentioned that?

It's a really great place. Really great. There are so very many great things about it.

One great thing is the lighting.

The lighting in the Tavern is a great and glorious thing.

Another great thing about the Tavern? It's a great place to tell a story.

If you've got a tale to tell . . .
. . . if you've got some dirt to dish . . .

. . . if you've got the lowdown to unload . . .
And especially if your friend Johnny Slips is in the equation? Well, the Tavern is the place for it.

"Okay let's get back to the story heah." (That's my Bayonne, New Jersey accent impersonation).

If you've got a tale to tell, and Johnny's in the house, and the sun is shining in, and you can sit down on the other side of the bar to tell your tale? The Tavern's the place to be.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Weekend 3-Way: Fish Stories

Thursday afternoon, unexpectedly, Bobby came into the Tavern and gave us some fluke he'd caught a few days before, cleaned, and vacuum-packed.
Refusing to let any blog-worthy opportunity pass, for this weekend's 3-way: Fish. Tell us a salient, pertinent, or just plain entertaining fish story.

Yum. Fresh fish. There is nothing better, really. We learned how to fish, briefly, in the Florida Keys our first year on the road, with friends who knew a thing or two about catching their own supper. But those days are gone, and now we depend on the kindness of strangers. And also on the generosity of our larder.

Bobby caught us (ha!) on a good day. We had garlic and lime and olive oil, with which we pan-fried the fluke, just 2 minutes on each side. We had a pasta-and-bean salad I'd whipped up the day before. And most importantly, we had an avocado, basil from our garden, a red onion, more lime and S&P, all of which I tossed with my homemade dijon mustard vinaigrette, to create a salad-salsa-side that complimented that fluke perfectly.

The whole meal took about 5 minutes. And was, in a word, sublime. And that ain't no fluke.



What can I tell you about fish? I’m not much of a fisherwoman, although I am quite adept at drinking on boats. I do so enjoy the eating of fish, and I’ve kept a few as pets. We had many fishies gracing the shelves of bedrooms in our girlhood home. My sister Julie had one that she really loved. And I really loved her, so much that one day I decided to surprise her by cleaning the bowl of that sweet, lovable fish. Everything was going fine, the little guy was happily hanging out in one of the sinks in our upstairs bathroom while I used the other to wash out the bowl and the rocks. I was just about done, and savoring the anticipation of Julie’s delight at my altruistic endeavor. I scooped the wee dude up to put him back in his clean and fresh bowl, and watched in horror as he slipped into the overflow vent and was instantly gone. I have never, ever been so horrified in all my life. I’m sorry Julie.

I like fishing. I’m not that good at it, but I like it. I like casting my line, sipping a beer, and waiting to see what will happen. Usually it’s nothing, but sometimes I get lucky.

One day me and my husband were lazily fishing right off Mission Beach, and as we were drifting and drinking, my husband got lucky showcased his fishing skill. He reeled the fish in and to our surprise and delight, it was a halibut. Yummy we both thought. We took him home, I cleaned and gutted him, and we cooked him right up on the BBQ. Truly delicious.

Our neighbor stopped by and commented on how small the fish looked to him, then inquired about its length. We had measured him on the boat, because he looked rather formidable to us, so we let him know.

Turns out we poached the poor baby. He was an little more than an inch under the legal length, still not fully mature. We killed a damn baby halibut.

He was really delicious though.

Friday, July 24, 2009

boy meets girl

Once upon a time, there was a boy. He was a fine boy, handsome and clever. He was not a sad boy, yet his natural disposition could probably be described as more brooding than jovial.

And once there was a girl, a cherubic and sunny girl, whose tendency always leaned toward smiling. Although she had times of strife, as all girls do, it was known throughout the land that a smile could be coaxed into emergance through even the most heartfelt tears.

As for the boy, few could claim that his elusive smiles were easy to cajole.
But if you ask the girl, she might tell a different story.

Some people were just made for each other.