Over the past couple of weeks, it's been starting to feel increasingly holidayish, what with the summer weather that held on so long going away and the dark, rainy days arriving for their annual five-month visit.
A little bit has been going on since last we checked in:
Rad's birthday happened while he was away competing at Clearwater, so for the first Run Club after his return, Ace made a cake! Angel food! I was surprised that we had an angel food cake pan. I was also surprised when he asked whether we had any sprinkles. We did, but usually he avoids sprinkles (on his Cold Stone hot fudge sundae, for instance) because they are just "empty calories."
Cafe Sophia, that Afghan place on Middlefield, is fantastic. The food is unbelievably flavorful and there is a fine vegetarian selection. The "Chef's Choice" mixed plates are good.
We've hosted and attended a couple of Game Nights, or nights where games were played. I'm still learning how to match games with crowds. You can't just play anything with anyone. For instance, Celebrity is no good with more than about a dozen people, and it works best with a crowd of at least overlapping interests. The Werewolves of Miller's Hollow requires attentiveness by all, but is enjoyable, if quiet. It's reminiscent of that "7 up" game we used to play when we had a substitute teacher.
Apples to Apples tends to be popular, but I find it mostly random and therefore not satisfying. It's a good ice-breaker, however, because it takes zero skill, and helps to knock the competitiveness out of the evening. I still haven't formed a complete opinion of Cranium, though my initial impression is that it's too easy to be all that fun. At least, it's better with more than two teams. And the Zombies! game, we haven't even played it because the instruction booklet is about thirty pages. Puerto Rico gets rave Customer Reviews, but it's not a game you can play casually or while drinking. Why Did the Chicken must especially be played while drinking. Taboo remains a classic.
Hey! Did you even see my Halloween costume?
I've kind of bailed on my holiday crafting. This will doubtless come as a surprise to Ace, given all the supplies in the closet. Stuff just wasn't turning out very nice. But I'm learning a couple of new crafty skills, which I'll show you in a little while, i.e. as soon as I make something not ugly.
My brother returned from Iraq! Say it with me: "Phew."
For Thanksgiving Ace and I both went to Chicago, where half of his family lives and where my parents just moved after calling it quits on seventeen years in Singapore. We both went to both of our families' Thanksgivings and it worked out actually a lot more smoothly than I expected.
It was a chemically-fueled weekend, tea and coffee in the morning and always, always cocktails, wine and port in the evenings. Instead of my usual attempts to keep the system clean, I gave in and went with what was on offer, and have learned that there is some wisdom in these habits. They go a long way towards keeping everyone's attitude (including my own) manageable.
On Sunday I rolled my stimulants and sedatives into one by having two Irish Coffees at Butch McGuire's, after which Ace and I avoided the sleet by hiding out at the Art Institute.
I think Ace wishes he had spotted the architectural drawings sooner, and I wished I had discovered the "touch museum" sooner.
I also got to see one of my dearest friends and her kid who is a laugh riot. (And I am not one to fawn over people's kids.) She probably won me over when, speaking to her mother, she called me "that girl." Sure beats "that old lady."
Another lesson from the weekend: direct flights are totally worth it.
Ace and I have been frugalizing by refusing to turn on the heat, so our house has been at a steady 61 degrees for the last month. I thought he was merely humoring my cheapness, but he revealed that he was kind of making a personal character exercise out of not turning on the heat until at least Thanksgiving. We got up at 2:30 a.m. California time to fly back yesterday and go straight in to work, so in the evening when he finally made it home, I made sure there was hot vegetable soup (to counteract nearly a week of midwestern meat, cheese and white flour) and a roaring fire. And when he climbed in to bed, a hot water bottle. That went over big.
Our savings on heat will probably be balanced by our electricity bill: SOMEONE left the freezer door ajar for the five days we were away.