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As I believe I've mentioned, Jason's mother died in early June. A lovely obituary for her is available here. We went out to Idaho in July for the family reunion she'd helped to plan, which became a chance for her family to mourn her together.

Jason's dad, Steve, decided that the memorial event in Seattle would be a gathering in their garden this past Saturday, so we flew out on Wednesday night. We spent Thursday puttering around and Friday mostly working in the garden--one of Trish's gardening friends came over to get us started and point out what needed doing. I was rather amazed at myself for doing that much yard work, but it was oddly satisfying and felt like a real way of honoring Trish's memory.

On Saturday people packed into their beautiful garden. There were co-workers of Steve, people from the neighborhood, friends from the book club she founded more than thirty years ago and members of the chamber choir she had joined more than forty years ago, and about twenty members of her extended family--all her siblings, a couple of their kids, three of her first cousins, plus their assorted partners. Everyone expressed their shock at her sudden passing and told stories of her generosity in their lives. One of her friends brought the sheet music for Wild Mountain Thyme and Jason's brother, Eric, accompanied us on his violin as we sang "Will ye go, lassie, go" in the lovely Seattle afternoon in the shade of the trees Trish had planted.

It was a beautiful farewell to a life full of friends and family, music, literature, and love.
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While I was in Northern Ireland last summer, I started making a list of all the stories I tell that I'd like to write down. This is one of them.

Like most families, I assume, we have running jokes and catch phrases within the family that persist over decades.

One day in the early 80s, I was sitting around the living room of my sisters' apartment on Prospect Hill, reading. Anne was reading TV Guide when she suddenly said "What?!" and thrust her magazine at Beckie to read. B. read the article, looked at Anne and said "There's no way to tell?!" and Anne said "Exactly!" and B. handed it to me.

It was an article about the record companies being annoyed with MTV, because the contracts under which they provided music videos to the channel stipulated that certain of their videos would be played at various frequencies--once an hour, once every three hours, once a day, etc. They suspected that MTV was not actually honoring their contracts, but since there was no way for them to tell, they were just having to take MTV's word for it.

This became one of our long-lasting catch-phrases. Wonder if Royal East is open on Monday's? There's no way to tell. Wonder what's playing at the Somerville Theatre this weekend? There's no way to tell. Wonder what George wants to do for dinner? There's no way to tell.

There's just no way to tell.

Easter Day

Apr. 17th, 2017 12:13 am
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Lately, Sundays have become especially busy. If I only have two or three events on my calendar for a Sunday, that's a pretty easy-going day--sometimes there are five. Perhaps because of that, today felt only moderately busy.

I was surprised to find, as Easter approached, that I was thinking of my mother more than usual. It felt so strange to be planning for the day without figuring out how to include her. Perhaps it's because for her it was still a very religious holiday, or just because I have so many memories, so many pictures of us all gathered in the sunshine in our Sunday best, with her tucked between her giant girls.

This year I actually wondered if we had to celebrate Easter as a family. And then I thought sure, keeping the tradition of getting the family together a few times a year is no bad thing. I wondered if I might turn to my sisters and ask what plan they might come up with that didn't involve my house, or me cooking. And I thought about hiring a chef, which I've done a few times, or going to a restaurant. But in the end I decided that I did want to cook and to gather family and friends around the table.

The day started early, getting to First Parish by 8am so we would have time to eat breakfast there and practice our skit before the choir gathered at 8:30. Jo and I were performing a piece based on The Yellow Tutu, with narration by our fabulous DRE and some mean-girl assistance from members of the choir. It was short and sweet and involved the indelible image of the two of us dancing in front of the congregation wearing tutus on our heads.

Our minister had asked us to wear silly hats and I'd decided to get this blue fascinator, which was an utter hoot to wear. The adult and children's choirs collaborated on "Easter Bonnet" and we sang lots of joyful hymns. We also did a responsive reading that I found really moving, adapted from a sermon by Nadia Bolz-Weber:

Some Modern Beatitudes )

During her invocation for communion, Marta also gave us a chance to speak the names of the dead who were in our thoughts today and I was so grateful for the chance to say my mother's name, to invoke the presence that has been hovering over me this week.

Alice had a grand time in the Easter Egg Hunt--her first year in the graveyard with the big kids. We stayed for the first part of the second service, in which Alice was one of the readers, while Jason and I reprised our performances, and then snuck out. The car said it was 82F as we pulled out and I was dreading turning on the oven for dinner. But while I took a nap, Jason turned on the AC and it was actually pleasant inside throughout the day. Alice found her Easter basket and seemed to enjoy the various treats and toys I'd included in it.

While Jason de-cluttered and got the dining room set for dinner, I roasted the lamb that had been marinating since yesterday, on top of potatoes, onions, mushrooms and garlic, which I seved with a very tasty demi-glace. I made way too many deviled eggs, with the help of Lisa, Paulo, and George at various points. Beckie & Neil brought the traditional too-much-nosh (shrimps and cheeses and summer sausage and pate and olives, oh my!). Anne & G. brought Greek-style braised green beans and I made a chopped Greek salad and heated up some Hawaiian rolls that miraculously survived several months in the freezer to be wonderfully soft and tasty. Dave and Jo collaborated to decorate the spiced carrot chiffon cake I had made yesterday with honey-cream cheese ice cream and pecans. By the time Hatem got out of work and could join us, we were just about ready to put it all on the table.

The food was reasonably good (not the best I've ever managed, but no one complained) and it seemed like an especially good group of people and conversations. Jo and Beckie helped enormously with the clean-up and by the time everyone had left around 5:30, another half hour got the kitchen to a state where I felt I could leave it. So I took another short nap, rising in time to be awake when the Mourning Becomes Electra arrived for a line-thru of the whole show.

I was able to do the whole thing without my script, though I did get confused and have to call "line" a couple of times. I felt pretty good about it and most other people are also in pretty good shape. This is going to be a really powerful show and there are a lot of dark moments, but we had fun together and it was really nice to be in a room with most of the cast, since that hasn't happened much yet. Jason got Alice to bed during one of the stretches when he's not on stage, but I was able to pop up and kiss her goodnight.

The cast and crew took off and after a break, it was time to finish up the kitchen and get the garbage, recycling, and compost to the curb. And now, I think I can say that I am well and truly done. I'm very excited that Alice doesn't have school in the morning.
lillibet: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] gilana has taken the slideshow I made for the memorial service and turned it into a YouTube video. Thank you, Gilly!


lillibet: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] gilana has taken the slideshow I made for the memorial service and turned it into a YouTube video. Thank you, Gilly!


lillibet: (Default)
We had a relatively small gathering this year, but that meant that we were able to all fit around the table.

Food Notes Behind the Cut )

All-in-all, this meal didn't thrill me like Christmas dinner did, but it was a lovely day and nice to sit around the table with all the windows open and the breezes carrying away the heat of the oven. Huge props to [livejournal.com profile] jason237 for all his assistance and to [livejournal.com profile] muffyjo for pitching in to help out in so many ways.
lillibet: (Default)
We had a relatively small gathering this year, but that meant that we were able to all fit around the table.

Food Notes Behind the Cut )

All-in-all, this meal didn't thrill me like Christmas dinner did, but it was a lovely day and nice to sit around the table with all the windows open and the breezes carrying away the heat of the oven. Huge props to [livejournal.com profile] jason237 for all his assistance and to [livejournal.com profile] muffyjo for pitching in to help out in so many ways.
lillibet: (Default)
I've been making Christmas dinner for my family regularly--not every year, but many--since 1991. I usually make roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. This year somehow it all came out and came together better than ever before, so I thought I should write it down while it's still fresh in my mind.

Read more... )

We were all sad that [livejournal.com profile] bex77 and [livejournal.com profile] audioboy couldn't be with us and Dad had a bad spell this afternoon that threatened to make him miss dinner, as well. But he rallied and it was really nice to gather around the table for some family time at Christmas.

I hope you've all had a wonderful day!
lillibet: (Default)
I've been making Christmas dinner for my family regularly--not every year, but many--since 1991. I usually make roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. This year somehow it all came out and came together better than ever before, so I thought I should write it down while it's still fresh in my mind.

Read more... )

We were all sad that [livejournal.com profile] bex77 and [livejournal.com profile] audioboy couldn't be with us and Dad had a bad spell this afternoon that threatened to make him miss dinner, as well. But he rallied and it was really nice to gather around the table for some family time at Christmas.

I hope you've all had a wonderful day!
lillibet: (Default)
We decided tonight would be a good night to eat in the backyard, so we plugged in the grill out there for #77 Grilled Lamb Salad )

And for dessert there was #77 Lemon-Buttermilk Pudding Cake )

It was a lovely send-off meal for Jason's brother, who's off to law school soon.
lillibet: (Default)
We decided tonight would be a good night to eat in the backyard, so we plugged in the grill out there for #77 Grilled Lamb Salad )

And for dessert there was #77 Lemon-Buttermilk Pudding Cake )

It was a lovely send-off meal for Jason's brother, who's off to law school soon.
lillibet: (Default)
Today is my father's 87th birthday, so we had my parents over for dinner and made some of Dad's favorites. I made shrimp louis for the first time, but since that didn't involve a recipe and only involves plating a bunch of pre-cooked shrimp on lettuce and putting a dollop of Thousand Island dressing on top, I'm not going to count it.

#59 Shrimp Scampi )

#60 New York Cheesecake )

It is always so wonderful to celebrate my father's birthday. He's had some close calls through the years that make us appreciate each one, but while he's definitely aging, he is still with us and that is a great joy.
lillibet: (Default)
Today is my father's 87th birthday, so we had my parents over for dinner and made some of Dad's favorites. I made shrimp louis for the first time, but since that didn't involve a recipe and only involves plating a bunch of pre-cooked shrimp on lettuce and putting a dollop of Thousand Island dressing on top, I'm not going to count it.

#59 Shrimp Scampi )

#60 New York Cheesecake )

It is always so wonderful to celebrate my father's birthday. He's had some close calls through the years that make us appreciate each one, but while he's definitely aging, he is still with us and that is a great joy.
lillibet: (Default)
I decided to host my family for Easter dinner today--any excuse for new recipes!

#34 Herb-Stuffed Boneless Leg of Lamb )

#35 Leg of Lamb Stuffed with Wild Mushrooms and Greens )

#36 Greek Style Potatoes )

#37 Green Beans with Feta Cheese )

#38 Baklava )

The latter was served with the Oatmeal Carrot Cookies from Friday night and deliciously creamy homemade vanilla ice cream, courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] muffyjo. She also showed up bright and early this morning to take the savory cheesecake over to her house for baking. For the many of you who've expressed interest, the recipe for that is here. She also did yeoman work cleaning up.

Anne & G. brought a huge salad (and another guest, Divia) and [livejournal.com profile] heliopsis brought biscuits and sartorial splendor to the occasion. [livejournal.com profile] bex77 brought beautiful blue hydrangeas and took Alice off for the morning while we were in last-minute prep frenzy.

Special mention also goes to my father, who sat and picked thyme off the stalks for about two hours yesterday. He picked more thyme than I needed--about a cupful--which was just amazing and luxurious!

And many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] bookly who dropped by yesterday, all unsuspecting, and ended up snapping all the beans for a meal she couldn't even stay to eat.

Lastly, Jason continues to be my hero--he helped so much all around the edges and listening to me talk out the various decisions and then entertained Alice all evening after our guests had left so that I could get a much-needed nap.

I love making big meals for the family, but it's especially nice for it to be such a joint effort.
lillibet: (Default)
I decided to host my family for Easter dinner today--any excuse for new recipes!

#34 Herb-Stuffed Boneless Leg of Lamb )

#35 Leg of Lamb Stuffed with Wild Mushrooms and Greens )

#36 Greek Style Potatoes )

#37 Green Beans with Feta Cheese )

#38 Baklava )

The latter was served with the Oatmeal Carrot Cookies from Friday night and deliciously creamy homemade vanilla ice cream, courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] muffyjo. She also showed up bright and early this morning to take the savory cheesecake over to her house for baking. For the many of you who've expressed interest, the recipe for that is here. She also did yeoman work cleaning up.

Anne & G. brought a huge salad (and another guest, Divia) and [livejournal.com profile] heliopsis brought biscuits and sartorial splendor to the occasion. [livejournal.com profile] bex77 brought beautiful blue hydrangeas and took Alice off for the morning while we were in last-minute prep frenzy.

Special mention also goes to my father, who sat and picked thyme off the stalks for about two hours yesterday. He picked more thyme than I needed--about a cupful--which was just amazing and luxurious!

And many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] bookly who dropped by yesterday, all unsuspecting, and ended up snapping all the beans for a meal she couldn't even stay to eat.

Lastly, Jason continues to be my hero--he helped so much all around the edges and listening to me talk out the various decisions and then entertained Alice all evening after our guests had left so that I could get a much-needed nap.

I love making big meals for the family, but it's especially nice for it to be such a joint effort.
lillibet: (Default)
Coming into the weekend Alice and I were getting pretty tired of being on our own, but fortunately the reinforcements arrived on Thursday in the form of my cousin, Ashley, and her boyfriend, Alex. We had a fun dinner at Mifune and I got to hear about some of Alex' adventures as a set designer for movies and television. Unfortunately, something Alex and Alice ate (we suspect the beef) did not go down well and they both had rough nights. Avert your eyes now if bodily effluvia is a squick factor.

Gag Line )

On Friday A&A went off for a day of wandering Harvard Square and Newbury Street and dinner with [livejournal.com profile] bex77 and [livejournal.com profile] audioboy. Alice and I had a hard day--even before the previous night's adventures she had been off her feed for a few days and mealtimes have become major exercises in patience. But we survived and A&A came back about the time that [livejournal.com profile] muffyjo was arriving for pizza and laundry and we ended up playing Trivial Pursuit. I shamelessly won and when Alex wanted to play again I suggested that I just dump my pieces and we keep going...and I won again.

When I woke up on Saturday, Jason was home and in bed with me and all was right with the world. He looked after Alice all day, while A&A went off to spend the rest of their visit with Anne & George. I puttered around and finally managed to get some traction on a task I've started three times previously and then we joined [livejournal.com profile] dpolicar and [livejournal.com profile] earthling177 for dinner at Alfresco, which everyone had been praising to the skies. The food was reasonably good, but they were overrun and the service suffered to the point of Jason not only being served the wrong entree, but never being brought the correct one. The waitress was fairly nonchalant about the whole thing until I asked her to take the wrong entree off the bill and then the owner came and made sufficiently effusive apologies that we came out thinking we probably will go back, but maybe on a Tuesday. From there we went to celebrate [livejournal.com profile] hotpoint's birthday at his lovely home and I gorged myself on cannoli. Most exciting of all, Alice took her first unsupported step before realizing what she'd done and sitting down. Now the trouble really starts!

Today I did a big run to Whole Foods and then came home and cleared enough stuff out of the fridge to make room for the groceries and made lunch before setting to work on dinner. I made a quadruple batch of Hungarian mushroom soup. I think that's the largest I've ever done and chopping seventy mushrooms reminded me why I don't do that more often. I did remember to use my snorkel mask for the onions this time, which is a major win. I got a nap and then the hordes (Anne, George, Ashley, Alex, Mom and Dad) descended upon us and we had a very pleasant evening, dining on soup and bread and the wonderful salamis that Jason had brought home from Salumi. Unfortunately, something hit Jason really hard a few minutes into dinner (possibly the clam chowder he'd had for lunch) and he's spent the rest of the evening Very Unhappy™. After dessert (ice cream and brownies--I tried wattleseed for the first time!) everyone else left and I spent some time with Alice before getting her to bed right at ten. [livejournal.com profile] muffyjo called on her way home from NJ to say that her car's problems had piled up to the point that she'd like me to meet her at our dealership, so she could leave the car there without stopping again. So I got to see her for a few minutes and hear about her weekend adventures.

And tomorrow I get to have rehearsal again!
lillibet: (Default)
Coming into the weekend Alice and I were getting pretty tired of being on our own, but fortunately the reinforcements arrived on Thursday in the form of my cousin, Ashley, and her boyfriend, Alex. We had a fun dinner at Mifune and I got to hear about some of Alex' adventures as a set designer for movies and television. Unfortunately, something Alex and Alice ate (we suspect the beef) did not go down well and they both had rough nights. Avert your eyes now if bodily effluvia is a squick factor.

Gag Line )

On Friday A&A went off for a day of wandering Harvard Square and Newbury Street and dinner with [livejournal.com profile] bex77 and [livejournal.com profile] audioboy. Alice and I had a hard day--even before the previous night's adventures she had been off her feed for a few days and mealtimes have become major exercises in patience. But we survived and A&A came back about the time that [livejournal.com profile] muffyjo was arriving for pizza and laundry and we ended up playing Trivial Pursuit. I shamelessly won and when Alex wanted to play again I suggested that I just dump my pieces and we keep going...and I won again.

When I woke up on Saturday, Jason was home and in bed with me and all was right with the world. He looked after Alice all day, while A&A went off to spend the rest of their visit with Anne & George. I puttered around and finally managed to get some traction on a task I've started three times previously and then we joined [livejournal.com profile] dpolicar and [livejournal.com profile] earthling177 for dinner at Alfresco, which everyone had been praising to the skies. The food was reasonably good, but they were overrun and the service suffered to the point of Jason not only being served the wrong entree, but never being brought the correct one. The waitress was fairly nonchalant about the whole thing until I asked her to take the wrong entree off the bill and then the owner came and made sufficiently effusive apologies that we came out thinking we probably will go back, but maybe on a Tuesday. From there we went to celebrate [livejournal.com profile] hotpoint's birthday at his lovely home and I gorged myself on cannoli. Most exciting of all, Alice took her first unsupported step before realizing what she'd done and sitting down. Now the trouble really starts!

Today I did a big run to Whole Foods and then came home and cleared enough stuff out of the fridge to make room for the groceries and made lunch before setting to work on dinner. I made a quadruple batch of Hungarian mushroom soup. I think that's the largest I've ever done and chopping seventy mushrooms reminded me why I don't do that more often. I did remember to use my snorkel mask for the onions this time, which is a major win. I got a nap and then the hordes (Anne, George, Ashley, Alex, Mom and Dad) descended upon us and we had a very pleasant evening, dining on soup and bread and the wonderful salamis that Jason had brought home from Salumi. Unfortunately, something hit Jason really hard a few minutes into dinner (possibly the clam chowder he'd had for lunch) and he's spent the rest of the evening Very Unhappy™. After dessert (ice cream and brownies--I tried wattleseed for the first time!) everyone else left and I spent some time with Alice before getting her to bed right at ten. [livejournal.com profile] muffyjo called on her way home from NJ to say that her car's problems had piled up to the point that she'd like me to meet her at our dealership, so she could leave the car there without stopping again. So I got to see her for a few minutes and hear about her weekend adventures.

And tomorrow I get to have rehearsal again!
lillibet: (Default)
Tonight, in honor of both [livejournal.com profile] jason237 and my eldest sister's partner, George, who have birthdays in the next week, my parents treated us to dinner at Scutra, here in Arlington.

Details behind the cut )

Overall, the service is friendly and the food is inventive and quite good, although slightly uneven. Most of all, they really need to start printing out daily menus!
lillibet: (Default)
Tonight, in honor of both [livejournal.com profile] jason237 and my eldest sister's partner, George, who have birthdays in the next week, my parents treated us to dinner at Scutra, here in Arlington.

Details behind the cut )

Overall, the service is friendly and the food is inventive and quite good, although slightly uneven. Most of all, they really need to start printing out daily menus!
lillibet: (Default)
Is any one of the several massage therapists who read this post available this afternoon to make a house call? My mother's back is reportedly in spasm and she is nevertheless making the three hour drive here. I would love to have someone come and see if they can make her feel a little better. Thanks!

EDIT: Found someone, thanks!

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