Monthly Archives: December 2004

Anticipation

I did say in my last entry there would be news here soon. And news there is.

Almost eight years after we exchanged our first e-mail, six and a half since he first visited me, five since I got my first passport to visit him and three years after our first serious effort to live together (one which was foiled by the then INS), Paul and I are getting married tomorrow. Really, even though we decided to do this only a week ago. I keep telling myself this is going to happen because I can’t really believe it. We have rings and everything.

If by “everything” you leave out my dress which UPS seems to be holding hostage for reasons not at all clear to me — I’ve been told everything from ‘it’s about to be delivered’ to “it’s trapped in Kentucky with a weather delay.” Sadly, I suspect the last part is true. (Here’s a picture of the said dress which I’m hoping against hope will arrive today so I can wear it tomorrow).

vintage-dressWe’re not having a big wedding. In fact it’ll just be the two of us, plus the woman who’s doing the ceremony and a friend who’s our witness. This is quite a change from my first marriage, a large, very Catholic wedding with the church packed full of everyone I’d ever met in my entire life. Or at least it seemed so to me. My dress cost more last time than this whole wedding will. (Or at least should.) Not just because we’re cheap and kind of short right now, though heaven knows that’s true. But this style is way more us — we’re introverted and neither of us likes being the center of attention. And I like the idea of something simple and personal. I’m even going to carry daisies from a local market and try and get Paul to weave me a chain for my hair.

A friend, on hearing, commented that we’re already married. Sometimes that feels very true. But other times I look at this man I love with all my heart and the knowledge that we’re about to vow our love and devotion to each other makes me tremble and cry with fear and joy.

Tonight it’s raining. Think of us tomorrow and know that whatever the weather, the sun is shining.

Christmas 2004

What a different sort of Christmas!

It was strange not seeing my family on Christmas Day (and not having plans to see them after either). I imagined the next time I did that I’d be in England or something. But no. We spent Christmas with my friend Beth’s family and Jinny, another one of my friends.

Christmas was amazing. When I first when to Beth’s mom’s house some 6 years ago, it was sort of a grown-up woman’s mecca. Very quiet. Shades of pink and subtle florals. We had a formal cream tea off of bone china. It was a total girl house and I loved visiting.

In the last 4 years however, Beth’s sister and her husband have had two sons and Beth and her husband have adopted a one year old boy. The balance of power has definitely shifted to the male end. And children — 2 tiny toddlers and a 4 year-old give this former femine space a new nickname, “monkey house.” What a blast of a place to spend Christmas day! It was totally toy central.

For reasons that may become clear in the next few days — yes, I’m trying to build tension — this was a very memorable Christmas. That aside, Jinny and Beth are on the job market this year and could easily end up on the other coast. It’s hard to imagine us being thousands of miles apart, but this could be the last winter we’re all in LA.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Ninety-Nine

No, not the ice cream with Cadbury flake. Though who wouldn’t want to write about those?

This is about another 99 though. Today my grandfather celebrated his 99th birthday– with cake, friends, family and wine (from the sound of the phone call I had to him). Old age is hard. His hearing is almost gone (so much so that I think he thought he was talking to my sister, which is okay by me), his joints are stiff and make him wobbly. Hard for a man who until 10 years ago swam at least an hour every day, rain or shine. But the hardest for all of us is that somewhere between 90 and 99, he’s become senile.

He doesn’t forget the things he knows. That is, he knows who everyone in his family is and what our relationships to each other are. He’s even been able to remember new family members, brought in by birth or marriage (though there he needs some prompting). But anything new — events, news, where we’re going for dinner (or even if it’s been eaten) are like water though sand. I’m not sure where it goes, but it doesn’t stay. He can be like a child: demanding, petulant, stubborn. Even angry.

This is hard for me to see. Harder still for my mother. Hardest yet for my grandmother, his wife of 65+ years. Nana sometimes thinks he’s just not trying. Or is trying, but just to tick her off. I can see it hurts her. It’s like he’s died in some ways but it still with us. The good days become rarer, to be savored and remember the man my mother and I grew up with. A remarkable man who’s already abandoned this shell. One might say we should be glad for the time we had — and it’s true. We’re lucky that this didn’t happen when he was 60, 70 or even 80. I’m lucky I got to know my grandfather so well. He taught me many things, including how to swim and body surf and how to love the ocean. He was fearless as far as I knew, on the land or in the water.

Yet I’m not grateful. I’m selfish and greedy and I miss terribly the man he was. The man who argued about politics (he was a democrat and couldn’t understand why or how anyone with a conscience could be anything else) and a union man to the bone despite his very privilaged upbringing. When I was 10 and there was a grocery strike, he made me promise I would never cross a picket line. Not for anything or any reason. Right and wrong were black and white like that for him. Not easy, but he was seemingly never tempted by immorality or unethical acts. His kindness in his voice. We never doubted his love — I grew up hearing him sing love songs at breakfast to my grandmother. His goodness, like his Irishness, was written on his face. Everyone but his grandchildren and daughter calls him “Buddy,” a nickname given by his mother (she died when he was barely an adult) because he followed her like a shadow. Her Buddy.

His face and voice that are still with us. He still knows me as his granddaughter. And, clearly, still loves me. Though I may wish for more, he’s still my grandfather. And still wonderful.

Happy Birthday Grandpa. I’ll be there when you turn 100 in 2005.

Home for the holidays?

P and I aren’t going up to Portland this Christmas. We’d planned to, but the airfares are really high and it seems silly to spend so much getting up there when we were just there for Thanksgiving. Going in February makes a lot more sense.

A friend I told the other day commented “are you sad not to be going home for Christmas?” And I realized that while I am sad not to spend Christmas with my parents and grandparents, what it really means is that I am going to be home for the holidays. This apartment is P and my home and I love it. With all its quirks, including our crazy landlady, I wouldn’t trade it for anywhere else.

With that in mind, I’ve got to clear up the messes here so that we can put the tree up this weekend. That’s so exciting! The amount I love Christmas trees should be illegal.

Cooking Mexican

This entry is part public service, part suggestion for any family member looking for a gift idea for me. There’s a wonderful (and I do mean wonderful) cookbook that’s been re-released called Frida’s Fiestas. I got a copy of it for Christmas ten years ago when it was first released. It’s a cookbook by Frida Kahlo’s step-daughter (Diego Rivera’s daughter) with wonderful recipes and beautiful photographs of both the food and Diego and Frida’s art and house in Mexico.

fridas-fiestasIt’s definitely the most beautiful cookbook I’ve ever had. Fun to read, beautiful photographs and the recipes are organized by monthly holidays. So in addition to getting information about Diego and Frida’s lives, you also get to read about Mexican holidays.

So I bet you’re wondering why I don’t have my copy anymore. Basically, I gave it to someone to look through and they thought it was a gift. I didn’t have the heart to take it back. But I really miss having it. All the other Mexican food I know how to make are family recipes — I’ve found most cookbooks for Mexican food are dismal. The ones in Frida’s Fiestas are more fun though. The book was out of print for about five years, but was re-printed last year (probably because of the movie).

So this gift would work for cooks, art lovers and anyone interested in beautiful books.

My mac

It gets so old, the mac / pc discussion. PC users are happy to bash windows but some become offended at the idea of users switching to (or in my case, always having used) macs.

The debate always strikes me as odd. I mean, I love my mac. Over the past fifteen years I can count the number of problems I’ve had on one hand (not including the fluids I’ve poured into my powerbook). I can’t ever remember one problem since Paul switched us (we have three macs between us, so I guess we’re our own network) over to OS X two years ago. (Hey, I’m just remembering an under-warrenty drive problem in 2001!) But maybe because the macs work so well I find I don’t talk about them very much. Still, if I happen to mention mine to a PC friend who’s having trouble, there’s almost always the little dig about apple or macs. Would that happen if I was telling them about a less-problem-prone PC?

Six years or more ago that dig would come with a prediction that macs would go the way of the Sony Betamax — beaten by more dominant windows machines. I believed it myself, buying all the software I would need and maxing out my RAM, figuring when Apple went under I’d just run my machine until it wouldn’t run anymore.

Next came the comment that Macs were so much more expensive. I believed that one too until my dad (who’d just gotten a new Dell notebook) compared the cost with my new powerbook. We found that Apple’s cost the same as the higher end PCs. A PC sales person at CompUSA told me he believe Apple was selling flat-screen iMacs at a loss — it was the only way he could explain how cheap they were. I reminded him that though Apple’s OS makes up a small percentage of the operating systems in use, Apple sells more computers then most of the other large computer manufacturers in the US.

I think one of the things I like about my macs is the way that Apple decides to make a change and never looks back. It means my computers haven’t felt dated the year after I buy them the way PCs seem to. But then I’m not much of an updater. With the exception of some RAM, my computers ended their useful life with me with pretty much what they came with out of the box. I find four or five years after I get them I’m lusting after the next new one. And get it two years after that.

So I’m not due for another few years. Still, I don’t doubt Apple will be there.

Wonder what the next new thing will be in 2007?