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Monday, June 12, 2006

Our Hen Party in Grass Valley

My weekend was like a fine wine; full bodied, elegant color, and fragrant bouquet but with a rough finish for me, which I'll get to explain for you later this week.

Saturday morning Barb & I were up & at 'em at the crack of mid-morning, racing around in slow motion, sipping tea & coffee, and nibbling fruits & cheeses for our breakfast. Eventually we made it out of the house & off toGrass Valley a little before noon - not the fast paced start we'd hoped for but on the other hand what was the hurry? The drive up to Fran's is just an hour. There we found Fran bustling around her back yard rinsing off the lawn chairs. Ingrid made it up on Friday and was off at the grocers. Fran and Mark's back yard is beautiful and spacious & I sunk immediately into an Adirondack Chair and stayed put for a long time, listening to Barbara & Fran happily talking teacher - they teach kindergarten & first grade respectively. After a bit Ingrid returned and shortly thereafter more hens; Lady Welling of Berkeley (Robbie), Lady Smith of Windor (Rhonda) and Seniorita Nancita del la Sacramento (Mommy Nancy) arrived. Earlier in the day they had rendezvous'd at Nancy's . As it turned out we really did have a Hen Party because Mark decided to stay away all weekend and use the time for his advantage to get in some golfing - a wise move no doubt - too many chicks for most gentlemen to easily contend with.
So the seven little hens were all together again for some prime fluffing and preening. I guess we have known each other for the better part of 25 years, since we were students at UC Davis. Our group of friends had gathered annually for most of the 1980s and into the 1990s for three day weekend camp-outs over Labor Day weekends. Eventually camping got kind of old for us all so these days it is only the 'hens' that get together once a year, leaving hubbies and kids behind and we gather at each other's homes. Somehow there is always a missing hen or two but if we don't see them at one hen party, we get them at the next.

There was a lot to catch up on & here is a teeny scratch on what's up with the hens I see the least. Robbie, Bill and daughter Julia are going to spend about a year in Shanghais China. Julia will get an interesting year of schooling, Robbie will learn some Mandarin, Bill will manage other computer programmers and I might get to visit them in China! Ingrid's jet-setting daughters have spent time now studying at university in South Africa and vacationing in Spain. One of them, whom I know we are all proud of, is a budding activist who took part in a modern freedom rider bus journey to support the rights of gay student rights at several fuckwit college campuses like Bob Jones University and Brigham Young University.
There was far more news to share than the eensy bit above but that is all I care to write up just now and you know I'll feck up the facts anyway so let me just say there was loads of news and happenings so Saturday was all chat, chew & chuckle into the wee hours.

Not to dwell on food (fooood!) but we ate well. Fran prepared what I consider the best salmon I've ever tasted and that is saying something - baked salmon with a crust of Dijon mustard, breadcrumbs and herbs. Robbie baked a rich chocolate cake made with almost no flour but loads of bittersweet chocolate, folded into beaten egg whites - to die for! Ingrid smuggled exotic citrus fruits to us and in addition to all there there were several varieties of crusty breads & local cheeses. There was loads of wine on hand, but what whimps we were; between the seven of us we only finished one bottle of red wine and we daintily sipped on a wee bottle of sweet ice wine from Niagra New York.

By Saturday morning we were hard at it, swapping tales, enjoying competitive family confessions as comparisons were made on whose family was the most uh.... challenging to grow up in. That discussion was followed by lively demonstrations of towel folding from those who grew up in the lap of luxury and O.C.D.

Two days and still the weekend ended way too fast. Early Sunday afternoon we had our final photo op in the great room and after hugs and reassurance, everyone headed back to their lives - ok, except for Barbara and myself. Some guests are just plain hard to get rid of! We lingered then eventually trooped off with Fran for a little drive and some wine tasting at the Nevada City Winery.Rhonda, Robbie, Nancy, Ingrid, Barbara and Fran It seemed strange being there without winemaker Mark there to spoil us with a personal tour. But we made do - sampling and purchasing some lovely dessert wine and an Alpen Glow for presents.
Eventually we returned to Fran's house and sat around enjoying the cool of the afternoon. Soon enough though, all good things must come to an end and Barb & I reluctantly headed down highway 49 back to my place in Fair Oaks.