Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The henna party - Part 2 of Katie's Wedding Weekend

Once we got off the bus in NJ, we walked up the hill to Ipek's house where she was throwing a henna party for Katie. This is sort of the Turkish equivalent of a bachelorette party, only there aren't ever any strippers, or bar crawls. There's a little ceremony where the groom's family gives the bride to be gold pieces (which are as good as cash in hand) and everyone celebrates with a little henna staining on their hands. I was a smidge disappointed because when I heard henna party I thought we'd be doing something cool like in India where they decorate their hands with henna in beautiful designs. This is not the case in Turkey. Nope, you just plop a little henna down in your palm or whatnot and go on your merry way. Nonetheless, I came home with a little packet of the stuff, and I think it'll be fun to play with (we can do a henna design party anyway).

Because it was so cold in the city we were the first people to show up. The henna party is for girls only, but Brad did hang out for awhile until Bekir showed up to take him back to NYC for the bachelor party at a Brazilian steakhouse. Once he was gone most of the ladies showed up. Several of Katie's friends from the city and from college were there, along with my mom and Bekir's family (sister, mother, aunts, grandmother and cousins).
Ipek did Katie's make-up and Bekir's mom dressed her in a green sparkly "robe" and put a red scarf on her head. She sat at a table and they brought out a tray with candles and a bowl of henna (which I'd earlier mistaken for spinach dip - but thankfully did not sample). They sang a little song (of which I understood zilch, but it was fun anyway) and did a little ceremony with the giving of the gold coins and the henna. They tied a red bag around Katie's hand with the gold and henna and she then passed around the bowl of henna for everyone else to put a smidge in their hands. This was fun, but mild disappointment ensued when the American girls figured out there wouldn't be any pretty designs (see, it wasn't just me). That was pretty much the entire ceremony.
After the ceremony we had some new and interesting Turkish dishes to sample and there were plenty of drinks to go around. I tried 3 different kinds of pasta salad, 2 different kinds of hummus, some red relishy stuff on bread and crazy amazing brownies made by Bekir's mom. The party was all in all a good time, but we had to drive about 45 minutes back to the hotel and Brad did not come back to get us until about midnight (we were not the happiest campers ever).

NYC Trip - part 1 of Katie's Wedding Weekend

So last weekend was my sister's wedding. Like most weddings there were a few events leading up to the big day, so even though the actual to-do wasn't until Sunday evening, we headed up to NJ on Thursday afternoon. After a nearly 7 hour drive in the rain, we made it to Bridgewater, checked in to the hotel and crashed. The 6:30am wake-up call came rather early (with it being 6:30am and all), but we got up, got ready and drove in to West NY to catch a bus in to the city. First off we saw Wintuk, a seasonal Cirque du Soleil show that my friend Rene just so happens to be performing in. After Josh moaned and groaned a good bit (as he does when we do anything he didn't particularly suggest), the show started and he decided it was a good idea after all (shocker). The show was fab, and when it was over we went backstage with Rene to get the grand tour. This was a pretty interesting addition to our trip and it was great to see Rene aside from everything else.

From there we took off for Soho - it's only my favoritest place in the whole world (well, at least it's my favoritest place in NY, if not the east coast). We made our way over to La Esquina (otherwise known as the Corner Deli) and had their fabulous roasted corn and fish tacos. Josh, ever the moaner and groaner, would not eat a bite of his corn, so I finished off not one, but two servings and definitely had my fill of corn till next season. From there we walked down to Rice to Riches and had some cheesecake and cookies & cream rice pudding. This was Brad's first trip to the famed rice pudding shop and I think he quite liked it (which is shocking cause Josh gets the groaning and moaning precisely from him when it comes to trying new things). Josh, still groaning and moaning, had no rice pudding whatsoever. After we stuffed ourselves silly at RTR, we walked over to Uniqlo so Brad could get a hat, scarf and gloves cause it was not particularly warm that day. Even with the newly purchased warmth, it was too cold, so we decided to just hop on the subway and head back to the bus.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Not so warm in south Texas

I'm on my last trip of the fall travel season, and frankly I'm rather disappointed. The people are great, I've got a bay front room and have had fun thus far. The major issue here is the freakin' weather. I picked this trip almost exclusively for the nice weather potential. Seriously, who doesn't want to go to Corpus Christi in December? It's all nice and warm and sunny.... or not. No, it was lovely when I got here on Wednesday, about 85 degrees, sunny, a light breeze. I wore my flip flops and walked around town - just great! All that ended about the time I went to bed that night. The wind woke me up repeatedly, it got terribly cold out, and today I didn't see the sun at all. Granted, it's better than the cold and wind in DC (cause there's no bay front room) and it is probably 10 to 20 degrees warmer. I'm outta here tomorrow afternoon, and of course it's supposed to warm up over the weekend. I suppose this is what I get for planning business travel around my personal desires.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving and wishful thinking

I rather enjoy social networking sites - of any sort really. For some it's a blog community (sorta like this), for others it's Facebook or MySpace, and for other's it's a message board of some sort. All of these things are nifty ways for folks to keep in touch and I really enjoy reading up on everyone's lives and news. This brings me to my current state of reading up on everyone's Thanksgiving holiday. Several friends of mine went out of town, while others stayed home and people came to them. Most had home cooked food, but I'd venture I know at least someone who went out for their turkey dinner. The recurring theme in most everyone's depiction of their holiday was FUN. Fun with friends, fun with family, fun with the dog and cat - whatever, it was all just fun. This applies to mostly everyone who wrote a blog, posted pictures, or made a comment of any sort regarding turkey day. This; however, does not apply to me.
For many years now we've been going out to Winchester to have Thanksgiving dinner with our friends and former babysitters, the Purvis family. These folks are straight sent from heaven. When we were absurdly young, clueless, and in need of quality child care, the Purvis family (yes, all 4 of them) came to the rescue. Kelly, the daughter, worked at the daycare Josh went to and when we asked around for someone who might be available one evening to babysit she was all in. We really liked her and her family (she was 19 at the time) and so we called her again and again to help us out. When we discovered we would need someone who would pick-up our kid and watch him till later in the evening, Debbie, the mom, stepped in to help. These folks helped us raise Josh and were just like family to us for the whole 3 years we lived in Winchester. Even after we moved away, we continued to go out to visit them for Thanksgiving (among other times during the year). THIS was always nice and enjoyable, never awkward or uncomfortable, and something anyone would want to do again.
This year my mom wanted to come for Thanksgiving with her new husband, who we've met all of once. Not to completely poo-poo the guy - he seems nice enough, but we just don't know him at all. Compound this with the fact that my mom doesn't even know him. This time last year she was screaming at us all about how everyone on the Internet is a "liar - all liars", and how dating sites are just formulas for disaster. Fast forward 6 months and she'd run off and married the first guy she met on an Internet dating site - pretty much site unseen. She dragged him around to her friends and family (Katie and I excluded) and then decided that was ample opportunity for everyone to "approve", so she took the leap like a complete child. I'll stop this rant here and continue on with my Thanksgiving story.
So she calls and says she wants to come and I said that was fine if she wanted to, but it wasn't necessary (cause we're very happy just going to Winchester). I've spent the bulk of my life going out for Thanksgiving, so she suggested we do that - her treat. I looked up a few places and decided on Clyde's in Ashburn, and that was that. There was some momentary moaning and groaning on the part of everyone here in my house because it's just not fun. It's not fun to deal with people in your house that you don't know. It's not fun to deal with my mom who is just a strange bird to begin with, but then coupled with her draped over this guy we don't know is extremely awkward. It's difficult to describe the level of discomfort that exists when they're here. At least when it was just my mom I could deal with just her. Generally she's nice to your face, it's over the phone that she's so unbearable. I did my best to make conversation about whatever I thought I might have in common with the new guy, but as it turns out there isn't really anything. He mentioned that he wanted to go visit places now that he's retired, so I thought that would be a fun topic. It wasn't. The only places he wants to go are places he's already been to, and all of said places are in this country. The funniest part of the entire conversation was when he suggested my mom get on an unpressurized, unheated military plane to Hawaii. She was clearly shocked by this suggestion, and my comment to her was "" I was beginning to think he might be relatively tolerable until the day they left and he started to tell a "joke" which wasn't a joke at all. Brad, in quick thinking, stopped him, and later told me what he was going to say (which he'd apparently told Brad the night before). I honestly wish he would've said it in front of me so I could've thrown him out good and proper. I have no patience for stupidity, racism, redneckism, or anything that could be construed as a threat to our national security. Makes me wanna take him up 123 and drop him at Langley next time they're in town.