Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lynne's Sense of Snow

Dear Readers,

Far into my adult life, I maintained contempt for my fellow grown-ups who spoke despairingly about snow. “They've lost touch with their inner child,” I said to myself with a superior air. “Snow is fun, exotic, an opportunity for play.” About five years ago, I succumbed to the dark side. I don't recall if it was a particularly harsh winter. All I know is that I was suddenly sick of snow. I found myself saying that if I never saw snow again, I'd feel fine. Well, we are in the midst of our first Oakland winter, and I feel fine. There's never even a minuscule threat of snow here.

Lynne, on the other hand, being still quite connected with her inner child, misses the snow. No, she doesn't want to go back to living in the winters of the Northeast, but she does fantasize about the occasional romantic flurry. She even went on the internet and found out that there was a snow machine down in Jack London Square that put on a show every evening. However, when we went there at the appointed hour, the machine was broken and there was no simulated winter to be experienced. Lynne was heartbroken.

And so it was
that, on January 4th, as we fastened our seat belts on the plane that was to take us back East for a visit, all of Lynne's fingers and toes were crossed. We were going to be spending five day in northern Connecticut visiting her family, and five days in NYC visiting mine. “Please let there be snow. Please let there be snow. Please let there be snow.” Her mother had said most of the snow that had been on the ground near their house had melted. This, of course, did not deter The Manifester from her prayers. “Maybe my mother is just teasing me and there really will be snow in Connecticut.”

Our arrival at the old homestead revealed that Lynne's mother had indeed been sincere. There were clumps of snow here and there, but mostly there was grass. The next day, however, the TV news was rife with predictions of a storm that night. Sure enough, when we awoke on the morning of the 6th, four inches of the fluffy variety had fallen. I dutifully, albeit enthusiastically, shoveled her parents' walk and driveway. Next night, four more inches and another morning of shoveling. You can imagine how thrilled Lynne was as she looked out the window each day.

That Sunday, we bade our farewells and boarded the Amtrak train at Windsor Locks. The trip down to New York took us through snow-covered forests in central Connecticut. We arrived at my mother's apartment in Greenwich Village and, wouldn't you know it? A truly heavy-duty snowstorm was predicted for Tuesday night. As if on cue, it started falling around 8pm. At midnight, Lynne said she wanted to go for a walk. I had to cover my entire face except for my eyes with my scarf, as the heavy, wet snow was being driven by a slight wind. (Fortunately, there would be no driveway for me to shovel this time.) Washington Square Park was closed, but we pushed through the gate, deflowered the fresh coating of snow with our footprints and took photos of the flakes in the lamplight.

Even without these weather events, Lynne would have had a great time on this trip. It had been her first visit back East since we moved out here last March. We got to spend fun, quality time with our parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, etc. But the “icing on the gravy,” as Lynne would say, had been the snow. She was very happy to have had her vision realized, maybe even exceeded. I was happy, too, both because she was happy, and because we live in California now.

Thanks for reading.

Best Regards,

The most effective cosmetic is interest.

-- Cindy Baranco

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Even More Holiday Presence

[Originally e-mailed to list on January 4.]

Happy 2011!

So now, about the Gala:

always said the the best time to enjoy an experience is before, during and after it. It was easy to predict how awesome this party was going to be because of the buzz of excitement around the house while we were all preparing for it. There was the decorating, which included selecting, erecting and trimming the tree, and putting up yards and yards of evergreen garland, some of which had to done by balancing precariously on top of a ladder and attaching it gingerly to the all-plaster molding. There were also the strings of lights on the stair railing and the front porch, and lush bouquets of white flowers everywhere.

Then there was the food, highlighted, if I do say so myself, by my wife's cooking, although many other housemates contributed as well. Lynne baked exceptional chocolate chip cookies from a recipe tweaked over several weeks (We housemates got to be guinea pigs for the previous “experimental” versions.). She also spent days preparing a glorious turkey that became the centerpiece of the refreshments table. It was accompanied by baked brie, smoked salmon, chocolate truffles, plus much, much more. George, housemother and mixologist extraordinaire, prepared three (three!) different types of eggnog and a special champagne cocktail.

Oceana (housemother and
fashionista extraordinaire) went around the house a week early to guarantee that everyone's wardrobe plans were up to her standards. The theme for the event was to be gowns and tuxedos, and no one disappointed.

None of the guests disappointed, either. When the big night arrived, a steady stream of beautifully-attired men and women flowed through our front door. Their were dresses of green, gold, red and white; there were traditional tuxedos and tuxedos with a “twist.” And everyone came to party. There was live music, enthusiastic dancing, and equally enthusiastic drinking and eating. People saw friends they hadn't seen in a long time, and others made brand new friends here that night. Truth is, I could have asked many more women to dance than I did, and I solemnly promise to do so at the next party, but I had a wonderful time with the four of five beautiful ladies who favored me with saying yes when I offered. Thanks to all of them.

Needless to say, the Gala was a huge success. Over the subsequent few days, we got some touching thank-you notes. Sierra's parents, Tom and Joy, who have lived in the community for decades, said it was the best-decorated party ever at
80. We heard rumors about people reminiscing about having had so much fun that their friends were wishing they'd been there. I know I'm glad I was.

Well, friends, Lynne and I leave for our East Coast vacation tomorrow morning, so I won't be posting for a while. I hope you've enjoyed hearing about some of our holiday festivities, and I hope you all have a great beginning to your new year.

Thanks for reading.

Best regards,

Anticipation is the aperitif of experience. Reminiscence is the liqueur of experience.

-- Vic Baranco

Gala garlands and lights.jpg Gala tree and fireplace.jpg

Gala panorama.jpg

Gala Linda, Rocco, Karen.jpg Tao and date.jpg

Gala O and Gerry dancing.jpg

Gala Millie, O and Carol Sue.jpg