Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Cooking for the Pramas Party

Unbeknownst to Pramas, I was plotting his birthday party for a couple of months before it happened. It all started with me beguiling him into agreeing to put our Belize money into a patio. I wasted no time in getting that started because my secret plan was to have it done in time for a birthday barbecue. Fortune favored me on that and I was able to get a company to come out and do the patio in pavers for what it would have cost me for a concrete pour (taking advantage of a company that had just the right number of pavers left over from a bigger job). Then, I got a great deal on a grill during a Memorial Day sale and was able to do a lot of landscaping improvements while Chris was away at Enfilade and Book Expo.

Luckily for me, Chris is used to my compulsion to make sure all guests are well fed and while he did think I was going a little overboard for a barbecue with half a dozen people, he put up very little resistence, even getting the extra chairs out of the attic "just to be safe".

Even though I was expecting up to a dozen more people to show up, we had plenty of guests, including friends from San Francisco and Vancouver, BC who made it over. The surprise kept rolling as people kept arriving over the first three hours of the party.

I didn't get as far into the last minute cooking as I'd wanted because I misplaced my big pasta bowl which was the only bowl that would fit the pesto pasta dish I'd made and left me running around with things half completed when people started arriving in numbers. I managed to get out some chips, Pramas's famous hummus, fruit (watermelon, cantaloupe, cherries, strawberries... I still have a pineapple left, which I might try grilling up for game night), Salada de palmito, where I substituted fig-balsamic vinegar instead of using red wine vinegar, pesto pasta, a full spread of cheese and salumi salami with some of Mark Bittman's Parmesan cream crackers and Smitten Kitchen's rosemary flatbread, a couple of different types of tofu on skewers for our vegetarian guests, North Carolina-style Pulled Pork, hamburgers and sausages from Columbia City's own Bob's Quality Meats on buns from Columbia City Bakery. (I also couldn't resist a loaf of their whiskey cake with espresso glaze, which we never even got around to slicing.) I also baked two Guinness Chocolate Cakes. Believe it or not, I had originally intended to have another salad (Avocado and Belgian endive), fresh salsa (Salsa Criolla), and chicken satays with homemade peanut sauce and some homemade ice cream but I flat ran out of time on those. Game night should certainly benefit from remainders this week!

It's taken me a couple of days to feel recovered after the last push on getting the house, yard, and food set up to my liking for the party but I'm definitely feeling in the swing of cooking again if nothing else.

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So I got proofs for a book that we want to have at GenCon today. The proofs arrived at 2:00pm and needed to be returned the same day to keep to the schedule. Yikes! So I dropped everything and made proofing pass. I actually turned up two minor typos (OR for OF, that kind of thing) and decided that, in the interest of keeping the product on schedule, I wouldn't even request those changes be made. I reserved the Flexcar, ran the proofs off to the UPS depot at the last minute, and counted myself lucky.

Then, because I had the car for a little while, I decided to drive up to Queen Anne (a 10 minute drive from where I was) to surprise Pramas and bring him home in air-conditioned comfort instead of having to face his usual hour-plus commute by bus. Why not? I did a little grocery shopping (as his office is conveniently across the street from a lovely market) and waited. We drove home, three birds (proofs, groceries, Pramas) killed with one stone.

When I got home, I saw the news that there had been a shooting in downtown Seattle. The victim was shot four times, right in front of the Macy's. Right where Pramas transfers on his commute every damn day.

This is not the first shooting downtown in Seattle in recent months. Gun violence has been cropping up far too often, in fact. We're almost exactly one year out from the shooting at the Jewish Federation. The Capitol Hill post-rave shooting is still all too vivid. Seattle is proposing cracking down on night clubs because of increasing violence (although, to be honest, it's the brazen drug dealing going on in the Pike/Pine Second/Third Avenue area that worries me the most and which seems like it may have been responsible for today's violence... Macy's and the bus stop are not nightclubs).

All I know is I felt like today was a particularly fortuitous day for me to decide to pick Pramas up and drive him home instead of letting him take his normal bus commute. Chris is my husband now, but he started as my friend, growing into my best friend and finally into someone I could not imagine living without. We've known each other longer than I've been a mother (which in itself seems like it must have been most of my life) and we've been committed partners for a decade. I freely admit that I fear losing him like I fear little else; I don't want him to succomb to the Pramas curse (and bad genes) that take Pramas men through heart attacks by their 50s. I certainly don't want to lose him in some random outbreak of violence at his fucking bus stop as he's on his daily commute. Just the thought of it freaks me out and brings me to stupid, girly tears.

I'm not the sort of person who hears about random violence and changes my life willy nilly. I understand there are always things in our lives that we can't control. I learned this lesson early when my friend, one of the most careful, diligent, wonderful mothers you could ever know, lost her baby to complications from chicken pox. Wendy was so much more vigilent than I ever would have been... she noticed right away at the first sign that something was off and took her baby to the doctor. She acted far, far earlier than I ever would have and even so had her precious baby go limp in her arms in the doctor's office! If there was ever an experience that taught me you can't control the world, it was that. Even so...

I've asked Pramas to please find somewhere else to make his bus transfers for a while.

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Herbfarm photos up

Ravioli plate, close up
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
Chris made a short post about our dinner at The Herbfarm for his birthday last night. I've uploaded all the photos but that's all I can get around to before running off to brunch with John & Jenny, retrieving Kate and hitting the showing of Scaramouche. Drugging myself to the gills last night allowed me to get through the dinner fairly intact but the amount of food just about did me in anyway. I nearly couldn't finish the "selection of small treats" at the end of the meal which would have been criminal. Possibly the best caramel I've ever had, among other things.

Enjoy the photos and we'll try to get a more detailed blow-by-blow written up soon!

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The Smirk

Pramas has it. He can't help himself. He'll tell you how authority figures throughout his youth would chastise him for his expression when he didn't even realize he was smirking. When I saw it today, I knew I was in trouble.

I should have suspected something earlier but I've been busy and distracted. When he suggested that we meet in the International District for lunch, I was pleased to have an excuse to break instead of working through my lunch as I have been all week. When I mentioned needing to check the bus schedule, he replied that he was hoping I'd bring the Flexcar as he had a "bulky package" that he didn't want to carry on the bus. This could have been a clue had I been interested to ask but I gave it no thought. It could have been a bunch of reference material, or something he'd picked up from Metropolitan Market for all I knew or cared. Sure, no problem, I'll bring the Flexcar.

After lunch, I announced that I had to be going because I needed to get back in time to finish some errands and pick up Kate to bring her to her dad's tonight. "And my bulky package!" Chris reminded. Right, the bulky package. I began to give this some slight thought only at this point. What could it be? Oh well, I would find out in a moment...

Jess pulled his car around to where I was parked. Chris got out, The Smirk in full effect. "What are you smirking about?" I asked. In response, he pulled this from the back seat:

Hard to tell from my quicky photo, I know, but that would be a framed movie poster from the Thai (?) release of The Killer. It's over three feet tall and over two feet wide.

I believe my first words, to Jess's great amusement, were, "What the fuck is that?" which I guess makes me somewhat the stereotypical wife in this scene (though in stereotype I'd be presented with a mounted moose head or Elvis lamp or something). Chris, laughing, said, "I told Jess you'd either think it was really cool or you'd punch me." Well, I didn't punch him... I just want to know where the hell we're supposed to put it as nearly every square foot of wallspace in our house is already taken up. Those walls that don't already have shelves mounted on them have framed Ars Magica art, Button Men originals, the framed cover for Into the Maelstrom (the Warhammer 40K anthology for which Pramas wrote the title story), a giant map of the known 40K universe, blah dee blah dee blah. Shoot, I have two substantial piles of framed award certificates that can't be displayed because we have nowhere to hang them.

The Smirk means trouble. Watch out for The Smirk!




As has become tradition, my mother-in-law sent Chris giant lobsters again for his birthday. She called to be sure we'd be home to accept the delivery, and we were expecting lobsters to arrive on Monday, but she went for the Saturday delivery instead. Since I'd planned a party for Chris, I totally wasn't intending to cook lobsters yesterday afternoon but I opened the box and took a peek at the lobsters, and they were looking none too peppy. I was worried that the larger of the two was possibly no longer with us, but it twitched half-heartedly after I poked at it for a while). NO WAY they were going to last another day, they had to be cooked immediately.

So, we had some giant lobsters for lunch, we have a ton of meat left over (they were just too big to eat!), and I went crazy making lobster stock before the party. This month's issue of Cooking Light arrived Friday and when I was reading it what did I see but a recipe for lobster stock! And, coincidentally, I have lobsters lying around the house and just enough time to make stock before the party. It was a sign, a portent. I had to obey.

The party at the Capitol Club was delightful, the Blue Room just the perfect setting. Only twice during the night did anyone uninvited intrude into the room. The first was a drugged up club-goer who twitched his way into the room and tried to make himself comfortable, until we told him it was a private party and all stared at him until his paranoia kicked in and he got up and left again. We heard the doorman forcibly ejecting him with a, "What are you doing in here, we told you to LEAVE," followed by a quick apology to the room for not noticing he'd slipped in. The second intrusion was a twenty-something partier who stuck her head in the room and bitchily barked at us to "Stop it right now." Since everyone else was in brisk, geek conversation, we had no idea what she was talking about. "Stop throwing ice!" We looked around at our iceless drinks, and back to her, baffled. Conversation screeched to a halt. Luckily, Sasha had been sitting with a view to the door and had seen some ice go flying past while the woman was standing there, and knew what the hell she was talking about and jumped in to tell Righteous Indignation Chick that the ice was coming from elsewhere. Good thing, too, or I would have had to match her Righteous Indignation with some of my own, and goodness knows that couldn't have ended well.

Besides my favorite part, where John Tynes shows up late to the party, wearing the same Trogdor the Burninator shirt that the birthday boy is wearing, my next favorite bit was where our waiter, overhearing the raging geek debate about whether Spiderman or Batman is older, picks up on Ray's remark about the Rawhide Kid and asks if it's true that the Rawhide Kids is an out of the closet, gay cowboy comic book character. To his delight, we confirm that it's real. My second favorite part of the evening (only coming in second because I'm currently smitten with Strong Bad) was the ever-gracious Stan! offering to belly dance, since Chris's one "disappointment" of the evening was the lack of belly dancers. Lotsa fun, laughter, and good friends.

We closed the place out, cursing all the while at Seattle's lame policy of bum rushing people out of bars and clubs at 1:30am (even though they technically don't close until 2am, when the clock strikes 2 the lights must be off and the doors locked, no stragglers). We milled around on the streets with a couple hundred other refugees from the surrounding area, and debated moving the dregs of the party over to Ray and Christine's private room, but eventually decided to call it a night. John and Ray apparently drove the looped Mr. Mitch home, which was undoubtedly a good plan. When we left them, Mitch had just peed on a building (for lack of a bathroom), was munching happily on a sausage purchased from a street vendor, and was looking for an attractive young woman who might answer the night's burning question of "What the hell is a camel toe?".

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Chris and I went to Kate's school's End of Year performance. We sat through two kindergarten classes singing. The first class was sweet, the second class (led by Kate's Kindergarten teacher) was a mess, all the kids singing and shouting out "lyrics" to a complicated song they'd recently "written" all out of unison.

Next were the first graders, Kate singing with her class, oh so sweetly. Kate also joined the "Orca Junior Choir" for two songs, including It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing) and a song listing the fifty states called The Red, White, and Blues. Tried to take a bunch of pictures, but I was sitting too far back to get good shots.

Kate's dad came down from Vancouver for the performance and the girl was thrilled that he did. I'm glad I told him about it and strongly suggested he come, it meant the world to her. The two of them left for a weekend together as soon as her part in the performance was over.

Chris and I stopped for dinner at the nearby Vietnam's Pearl. The food was great, enhanced no doubt by my ravenous hunger. I'd had nothing to eat all day but a cup of coffee and then the meal deal at Fatburger for lunch (which, while not as good as In-n-Out Burger, did tide me over for several hours), and by the time we'd gotten food it was 8:45pm. Vietnam's Pearl is a decent place, but unfortunately reminds me of a couple of former friends with whom I've fallen out. One couple I now truly despise and I dislike doing things that remind me they exist. The other fellow isn't 100% unredeemably loathed, but unfortunately is not only a close friend of the couple, but is also an unflinching apologist for both their personal conduct towards my family and the outrageous corporate misuse inflicted on my husband in the last year of his corporate job. Since I can't forgive either of those things, and since this guy had the nerve to stand in my kitchen and tell me I was, essentially, fucked up for holding my beliefs and opinions on the matter, I've washed my hands of him as well. It's better for my mental health all around to forget them, but certain stores, restaurants, or other places where we shared experiences crash in on my voluntary amnesia now and then.

Tomorrow night is Chris's birthday party. I wish I could have done more for him to express my love and adoration, but I fear I can never top the year I kidnapped him and took him to a bed & breakfast for the weekend. (I can, however, usually willfully forget that the estranged couple I just referenced unforgivably decided to book a weekend at the same bed and breakfast for the same weekend we were there, and met us at the door of the place to announce "We've seen your suite! It was huge, you have two rooms! We laid on your bed!" before Chris or I even had the chance to check in, and before I had the chance to fully spring the surprise of having rented the best suite in the place on Chris. Gah, who does something like that and why was I ever friends with those people?)

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Why I love my husband.

We're made for each other. I've known that for years now, but it's nice to have it restated. Today's example: my favorite Dude and his lovely lady are newly pregnant and expecting a baby, what seems mere weeks after their wedding (which actually took place back in February). Evan broke the news that I'm to be a surrogate auntie, and my smart-assed first response was "You guys don't waste any time, do you!" I called Chris down from his office, under the false pretense that he should be host-like since we had a guest, but it was really to give Evan the opening to announce his impending fatherhood to my dearly beloved. Chris's first shocked response? "Wow, you guys don't mess around!"

For something like 6 years now, Chris has been able to finish my sentences, and I've been able to finish his. When we were no more than pen pals, living on opposite coasts, we could anticipate what the other was about to say, and had several Instant Messenger conversations on AOL where we're both type the same comment to each other, at the same moment. It's completely natural, unscripted. It just happens. It's one of the coolest things about my marriage.

And I'm all jolly and happy to hear Evan and Rona's good news! If I can't have another baby of my own, having a surrogate niece or nephew to dote on is just fine by me.

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