operated on my own schedule this morning which i have to admit is really nice; normally i’m scheduled to pick up gran at a particular time so i’m locked into a time frame. finished grandma’s present, pulled the wreath out of the attic and wired it to the front of the van, had a nice breakfast and got rolling around 11am.

was startled to pass fong, one of the two sisters who run shanghai, attempting to cross 55 as i drove by. felt like santa cruising through all the neighborhoods in my tall sleigh. almost waved at a couple of kids. somehow the van just feels like the right vehicle for christmas, maybe because it makes me feel like i’m living in the past just to drive it, of course this is a soft-focus, glowing, perfectly retro past… like living in a fantasy land. which christmas is supposed to be, right?

said to mom, hey, i didn’t know megan was moving to vegas. “Oh, that girl. She’s not moving to Vegas permanently– it’s just for three months, but she’s driving her parents crazy making a big deal of it.” ah. i get it. she’s going out there for work, and actually, it sounds damn cool– her company is developing a multimedia security system, and i guess some casinos are interested in it. maybe i should go visit…

mom and i actually had a nice talk, we talked some about how weird and unfriendly a lot of her sibs are… that really joan is the only one either of us really feel comfortable with. which made me feel a bit better. i mean, i’m still a bit of a square peg, but in the context of our family, i’m probably fairly friendly and have reasonable social skills. it makes me appreciate that i’m not only getting some social awkwardness from my dad’s side, but from her side as well.

dinner was great– ham, homemade mac & cheese, spinach casserole, rolls and coconut cake for dessert. wayne pulled out a bottle of special wine they’d gotten in nova scotia– you can only get it there. i forget what it’s called. it was delicious.

the stovetop espresso maker that i got was the most exciting present. we decided to try it out after dessert. it’s very dramatic the way it works. you wait and wait and then a little trickle of brown appears, and you wonder if that is all, then suddenly after more waiting, it explodes three times, and on the third explosion, it foams and you get the creamy stuff on top. stuart decided to try it, his first espresso experience, so it was a little unfortunate that there were no fat-bearing dairy products in the house suitable for blending with it. wayne and i agreed that it was pretty damn good though and we all got into a whole discussion of coffee whilst crammed into their tiny galley kitchen, watching the espresso maker expectantly. daniel and i schooled everyone on ‘espresso’ vs. ‘expresso’, even mom didn’t know the right way to say it. which is shocking, because she’s an editor _and_ loves travelling in italy.

gran’s family in alabama, whom she never gets to see, compiled an utterly (and unintentially) hysterical video-letter for her over thanksgiving. each family unit sat down in front of the camera for a little interview (“hi aunt bonnie, this is holly, i’m 17 now and a senior at…”) with stage-whispered prompting from behind the camera (“and _what_ do you do…?”) the best was the 17 year old girl who plays two sports, plans to become an engineer, was homecoming queen, and is representing her county at a beauty pageant. stuart looked at me and said, “she’s in _our_ family??” and we all cracked up. i’m not sure we’ve ever managed to breed a homecoming queen before.

we started talking about the new $800k “cottages” that are being built in another part of the neighborhood, so i asked gran how much the house cost when they bought it new in 1948. she wasn’t sure but said it was under $20k. there was only one other complete and occupied house on the street when they moved in; that house was and still is occupied by a woman named peggy, who gran said came over to say hi the day they moved in and invited them to dinner that night. peggy and her two daughters mary and margaret came to visit today, which was a trip.

stuart and daniel each gave me an xtc cd, so i have enough now to get started with a mix. so far the mix is about 3 hours long and i’m still missing a lot of stuff. it’s kind of difficult to do justice to a band that has been recording for 27 years, and produced an album a year for about the first ten years of that career. i’m finding unexpected convergences in things recorded 20 years apart, and that the dukes of stratosphear stuff makes really good transitions in some of the more difficult places. it’s hard not to include the entirety of the first dukes record; it’s so fucking good, all the way through. i should hit the used bookstores to see if i can find the stuff i’m still missing.

so now i can relax. a whole week with no work and no travel and no real plans of any kind. wheee!!