Mmmmmm…. So… it’s yet another holiday come and gone here at “La Casa de Neko” and I’m just back home from our trip to see Carolyn’s sister and her family, so naturally while my sweetie does some shopping for us, I’ve just enough time to do a “Diary” post and let you all in on the boring and mundane details of my recent experiences and our lil’ holiday excursion.
Luckily for us, my new kitchen staff at the restaurant are working out wonderfully, and I was easily able to save some personal time to let us enjoy ourselves to the fullest. Yay!! About time yours truly caught a break for a change.
So… if for reasons beyond lil’ ol’ me you still actually want to hear all about it then all you have to do… as always, Gentle Visitors… is “Read On”.
Yep…. although my desire to pick things up around here is still strong, my ability to actually follow through has been woefully lacking these last few weeks. Sigh…. I’ve meant to do more…. I really have, but somehow it’s just not happening.
The return of cold weather has of course turned me into the seasonal slug I normally am. There are no more early morning Tai-Chi practice sessions… just too darn cold to do it outdoors. I’m still managing to get in the occasional practice afternoons up at the college in their field house…. bless my sweetie for having gym access for herself and family as one of her job perks… but that means having to schlep myself across the square in time to catch the municipal bus up to the campus if I want to take advantage of it. Yes… yes…. if only I could drive myself…. I know. Carolyn keeps poking at me to give up my stubborn irrational dislike of operating a motor vehicle, but somehow I resist it with tenacity. You know me…. quick to make up my mind about something, slow to change once I have.
Anyway…. now that things are straightened out at the restaurant and my hours have actually normalized again to humane levels, I really don’t have any good excuses for letting things slide so much. I’ve a backlog of films to Review…. including a shared review with our friend and fellow Asian film fan Stephen (aka Elpeevio) over at his blog “Things Fall Apart” that is now super overdue. He’s probably sure I’ve gone all “crazy cat lady” and forgotten about him…. D’ohhh!! (Pssst!! Don’t worry Stephen… I really haven’t forgotten… I’m gonna send you my version of the review over the weekend for certain. )
***LATER*** Sigh… As Stephen has discovered by now, I’ve missed that Review “delivery date”… AAAUUUGGGHHH!! Apparently “certain” is a word I should never, ever use… Ummmm… yeah.
So… how did Thanksgiving work out you ask? Not too darn shabby at all.
Last Thanksgiving I spent the Holiday by myself, given that Carolyn’s Mom and Dad were able to make it to Sandra’s for the festivities. We weren’t ready for the big “coming out” with them given how Carolyn’s Mom feels about… **ahem**….”alternative lifestyles”… so it was just easier for me to stay clear and let things be. That really sucked. Maybe not the most polite way to say it, but that’s really how it felt. Luckily for me, that was then and this is now…. and this year there was no such potential drama on the agenda.
Instead, early last week I got a call from Sandra’s daughter Maddy specifically asking if we’d both be able to make it this year. She tried to make it sound all nonchalant and such… like Sandra had to plan just how much food she’d need… but I could tell Maddy herself actually wanted to be certain I’d make it too. Sandra’s kids are gems. Both Maddy and Adam are completely at ease with me as their Aunt Carolyn’s “girlfriend”…. and both seem happy to accept me as their ” real Aunt” as well. Maddy especially, seems to be very taken with the idea of it all… and her Mom tells me she’s constantly talking to her friends at school about “what a neat Asian lady my Aunt has for a girlfriend” , or “My Aunt Miyuki is a Chef!!”, or “how cool I am”. That actually worried me a bit at first…. and I figured it wouldn’t be long before one or the other of the kids spilled the beans about me and Carolyn to their Grandparents, but despite never having been told we were some kind of “secret”, they both seem to understand on some basic instinctive level that we aren’t something Grandma really needs to hear about. Thank goodness. I’d hate to think the kids would feel they have to lie or anything, but I’m certainly glad they seem to understand the situation as well as they do.
Maddy sounded so darn excited that we’d actually both be coming this year, that there was no question of us doing anything else. I have to admit, I was eager to see them both as it had been last Christmas since we’d done so and the two of them have been growing up so darn fast that it seems like they change so much every time I see them. Sigh…
We’re closed for Thanksgiving Day at the restaurant, and as Shéryfa, my new Sous-Chef, has worked out so darn beautifully in taking up the extra responsibilities that were making me so darn tired and cranky lately, I was super excited when she volunteered to take the Wednesday night dinner shift. That let me sneak away that morning with Carolyn so we could get as much time with her sister’s family as we could manage. Not to mention a little “Us” time along the way….
We don’t get down to the city very often, even though it’s only a couple of hours away, so any chance to squeeze in a little shopping before the Mongol hordes of “Black Friday” made their appearance was just too darn tempting to miss. Paranoid lil’ me has never liked crowds…. they just put me on edge trying to keep aware of my surroundings and all the strangers pressing too darn close for me to feel comfy. But…. as I had hoped and figured, the stores were actually pretty quiet at the Mall that Wednesday… with everybody waiting till Friday and the sales to come. It’s always sounded more hype than deals to lil’ ol’ me, but this year that silly “herd mentality” worked in our favor for a change…
We spent the late afternoon looking through stores and picked out some stuff out that we’d been thinking of… and didn’t even do too badly on the prices. Seems that there were a few deals for “early birds” like ourselves…. (Shhhh!! Don’t tell everyone, silly kitten or you’ll ruin it for next year!!)
As has become tradition, we ate an early dinner at another Asian restaurant, this time a Japanese teppanyaki place that had opened here earlier in the year that we’d heard good things about. Carolyn had never been to one before, so it was a treat to have the Chef do his full routine, juggling food and tossing it around while ringing his tools on the grill. The food was excellent…. and much of it was stuff I hadn’t had in years… served with tea and plenty of warm saki. We had lots of fun…. and more than a few giggles every time one of the staff tried to speak to lil’ ol’ me in Japanese only to be surprised to find me utterly lacking in the language. To most of my fellow Americans I merely look Asian…. but to these people I was recognizably Japanese…. not Korean, not Chinese…. and it was confusing and soooo darn improbable that I wouldn’t understand them. I think one of the apprentice cooks might actually have tried to chat me up, but his English was as poor as my Japanese so I’ll never know for sure. Oh well… I’m taken anyway, poor boy!!
Carolyn had to drive, so she didn’t get to sample that tasty wonderful saki all that much. Good for her…. bad for me. I ended up drinking far too much of that surprisingly potent stuff, and after we left the restaurant I felt it hit me hard. That pretty much meant we had to finish up shopping and head over to Sandra’s before woozy lil’ me just plain fell asleep. The cold evening air perked me up enough to make it there and I swear I felt pretty awake, but that’s the way liquor likes to play games with tiny people like me. Once we arrived and made it inside, the warmth of Sandra’s house brought all that sleepiness back with a vengeance. I tried to stay awake and visit with the family, but somewhere along the line I zoned out and woke up snuggled under my coat with my head in Carolyn’s lap on the couch. Everybody got a good laugh at embarrassed little me but it was all in good fun and we said our good-nights before retiring to the guest room and that warm cozy bed waiting for us.
We woke up early the next day to Maddy’s shy lil’ knock on the bedroom door inviting us to join the family for breakfast, something that by then I was soooo ready for. Eggs and crispy bacon…. pancakes and french toast with plenty of syrup to sweeten it all…. Sandra and Maddy had certainly been busy, busy girls!! It was yummy and so darn nice casually hanging out in our Pj’s and slippers in the living room around the fireplace, sipping coffee and gently letting the last vestiges of sleep slip away, the dawn peeping through the windows and promising another crisp fall day to enjoy.
As expected, the family pretty much had the whole day mapped out: a trip to the nearby park for a walk by the river, then the kids got some free time to do their own thing, visiting with friends while the adults all trekked back home to see to dinner. Well…. at least Sandra and I got to work on dinner, Allan had invited a couple of his friends over for some “guy time” watching football and my sporty lil’ sweetie… so helpless in the kitchen and such a fan of the game… ended up popping back and forth between activities.
It was fun helping out in the kitchen, and Sandra and I got to chat quite a bit along the way. As always, she was interested in how her big sister was doing with her job and eager to hear all about things between us. Carolyn had already told her most of that… they talk all the time on the phone… but I think it was nice to hear my perspective on it all to let her know that all was well.
Once things got to that certain point where it was merely a matter of letting the oven do it’s thing, we joined the guys to watch the game, and I got introduced around to them all. They were already aware of my being Carolyn’s girlfriend so all that usual awkwardness was absent, thank goodness. Outside of a couple of curious glances our way when they didn’t think we were paying attention, they were all pretty polite and friendly guys and being around them didn’t feel weird or uncomfortable at all. I think the nicest thing was knowing that by introducing me to his friends, Allan was finally showing me just how much he’d come to like having me as his “sister-in-law”. That was sweet.
Dinner was great. Sandra and I had whipped up a nice Turkey with my own tasty chorizo-herbed stuffing (Gotta have my spicy fix!! ) and creamy mashed potatoes with gravy. The stuffing, cooked in the bird, lent some of it’s spicy goodness to the pan drippings making for a gravy that the family lost their minds for!! Adam especially must have stuffed himself with 4 or 5 servings of that alone. He almost didn’t have room for the pumpkin pie dessert that his mom swore was his favorite.
After dinner there was more visiting, and the kids made us promise that we’d make it for Christmas again this year. Think I want to miss out on that? Think again. Before I knew it, it got late and we headed off for one more night in our snugly bed and our own personal “Thanksgiving celebration”, just the two of us.
Next morning we headed out with plenty of hugs and goodbyes for the long drive home…. a trip that always seems so long, especially after all the warmth and fun we’ve had. I can’t wait for Christmas to get here so we can do it again!!
Well, Gentle Visitors, that’s how it went this year. Hopefully you too have made some of your own fond memories to keep you warm as the cold snowy season creeps up on us all. “Happy Thanksgiving, and Meow, Meow, for now!!”