Sunday, January 19, 2014

In Which Dictator Diana Directs a Dinner Date.


The party last night went off without a hitch. Everyone had a great time, and my sister Kerrie said it reminded her of dinners at Nana's place, which is a high, high compliment. Needless to say, we will be planning others.

Of course, that now leads to the other side of the equation: dinner with Corb's family, which we have planned for next Sunday. 

The thing is, Corb's family isn't as easy or as mellow as my family. My thought for a family dinner began as an offshoot of a conversation with my Dad. I just mentioned it, and then, two text messages to my brother and sister, and it was arranged.

Corb's mother, as I have mentioned on many, many occasions, isn't quite as easy-going as my parents. Case in point: the phone call Corb received from her yesterday afternoon, as he was knee-deep in making the pot roast.

When the conversation was over, he came over to me in the parlor, looking grim. 

"So, mom wants to change the time for the dinner," he said. "She says five is an inappropriate time to dinner on a Sunday, and I should have known that. She has suggested we change the time of dinner to one."

Well, that isn't totally unreasonable, although I wasn't exactly thrilled with the way the message was delivered. "Okay."

"And also..." And then he stopped, and let the sentence trail, with a bemused smile on his face.

Uh oh. "What is it?"

"Well, she wants us to invite someone else to the dinner."

Someone else? Who? Let me think about this. We invited his mom, and her boyfriend, and his brother Scott and family, so who else...?

"Your other brother?" Corb shook his head. I scratched mine. "Then who the..." Realization sunk in. "Nooooooooo!"

Corb smiled in delight. He knew exactly what my reaction was going to be. "Yes."

"Not your aunt Carol..." 

A word of explanation: Corb's aunt Carol is one of the most tiresome people I have ever met in my life. She is not a BAD sort, but her and her family are such an effort to be civil with. In fact, Corb's mom and her sister were at odds for years. They had a fight about some stupid thing and didn't speak to each other for a whole decade. But when Corb's grandmother took ill, they reunited, and now are inseparable. This past July 4th, at her insistence, we drove to New Hampshire with the kids and a more exhausting day I have never spent. 

It's not just her, although she talks endlessly and doesn't let you get a word in edgewise. It's also her tea party husband and their son, who is obsessed with his love for the NRA. Fortunately, Carol had warned her husband not to go too right wing nuts that day, so he only got political once and was quickly shushed by her.

The next time we saw them was on Thanksgiving, at which time their NRS son told us, as we were buying beer, that they had all gone out and purchased hand guns the other day. When we asked why, he said it was to exercise their god given right to possess firearms.

I think he has a screw loose. And after another exhausting conversation, at the end of the night, I sweetly informed Corb that I had no intention of seeing them until the new year started. I had had my fill. 

Guess what? It's 2014.

"Well, it is 2014 now," I said, ruefully. 

"Mom says it's not her fault," said Corb. "She said she was talking on the phone to Carol the other day and she mentioned the dinner party--just by accident! And Carol got all angry and said, 'And why wasn't auntie invited?' She said she was shocked and appalled that her beloved nephew would neglect to invite auntie along to such a family gathering, and mom is now saying, if she isn't invited, she'll be furious and upset."

SIGH. "Okay, so tell your mom she's officially invited."

"I did that. It's not good enough." Corb frowned. "She says that I have to call Aunt Carole and personally invite her. She says if I don't, auntie will not be happy, and will refuse to come. And she says I have to do it tomorrow, to give her at least a week's notice."

I mean, really? Not only does she want us to change the time and invite additional people, but we have to extend official invitations, too? It's one thing to send a quick text message, but this would have to be a call, and Aunt Carol would keep him on the phone for a half an hour, at least. 

I know, I know, it's only the polite thing to do. Still, it just kind of rubs me the wrong way that Corb's mom feels the need to dictate when and who will be at the dinner party at our own place. Especially when she moved into her place a month before us and she has yet to hold a gathering for anyone. So what's the urgency on our end? I think that's poor form, especially since we are pretty damn sure she was the one who made sure Carol knew about the dinner to begin with. In other words, all this is being motivated by her. 

Any suggestions on how to respond? Corb right now is being a bit oppositional defiant and plans on sending his mother a text message saying dinner is at three and Aunt Carol is welcome to come by. But that's it. (Of course, he knows there will be a call demanding to know WHY.)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Parsnips versus Turnips?

Oh my God! We foolishly planned a dinner party for tonight, and now Corb is completely freaking out about the  preparations. He took yesterday off to clean the whole house and it looks the best it has since we moved in, but there's still so much more to do and now he's losing it about the meal.
He couldn't think of what to make, so I had suggested pot roast. Sounds simple, right?

HAH! Now we are into the world of slow cooker versus Dutch oven, this recipe versus that, and...
"Turnips," Corb just called up.

"What about them? We bought them yesterday." I shouted down from the second floor.

"I bought parsnips by mistake."

"Parsnips are the white carrots then? What are turnips?"

"White beets."

I grinned. "I like parsnips better."

"I don't."

Sigh. This is going to be a long day.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Seven ghosts

The house, 1986

Last Friday afternoon, the previous owners of the house came to visit. They were in the neighborhood from Maine visiting an in-law, and thought they would drop in share with us some old photos. Of course, we were petrified, but they were really quite lovely.

"You are the third generation of gays to live here," Todd, the older half of the equation informed me, clearly pleased with this fact. "We bought it from an older gay couple, and we are delighted to be able to hand it over to you."

The shared with us photos of the house. Some from the sixties, when the house was being transported six miles to its present location. One set of photos was in an album, dated June 1986. "We were holding a yard sale, and a couple came over to us and handed this to us," said Chase, the younger half (and yes, I did take note of the fact that there was an age difference between the two, just like me and Corb). "They told us they bought the home and wanted to make it their dream house. They ran out of money."

"Wow, this place has come a long way." And boy, has it. What these two did to transform the house...the love and attention to detail they poured into nothing short of amazing.

And then the conversation turned to ghosts.

"Seven," Chase informed us, rather firmly. His partner looked away. "Two men and five women."

"Seven ghosts?" I asked, rather shocked. I honestly hadn't felt much of anything. But then again, I never do.

"Is there one in the servant stairway?" asked Corb. "I thought I saw something crouching there the first day we moved in."

"A male," said Chase. "But they are all very nice. None of them even made themselves known until after about a year."

We had a smudging done a few days before that, by my friend Psychic Sue. The place reeked of burnt sage. "But you hardly need this, because the ghosts that you have here are completely harmless," she laughed. 

Since our visit, we've had little incidences. Saturday we were sitting in the living room and three books fell off the shelves without warning. We returned home that night and the television had been turned on. Another book had fallen off a shelf upstairs. This evening Corb saw the door to the pantry being jiggled open.

The key for me was being alone in the house. This morning, when Corb left for work. I was left all alone for the first time. I braced myself, fearing the worst. But I felt nothing, only peace. That was a good sign. 

Seven ghosts. I am okay with that.