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James and I went down to our dear friend L.’s house in Nevada City for Thanksgiving dinner yesterday afternoon. It was also wonderful to see her old friends J. & S. who spend this holiday there almost every year (along with July 4th).

We had not seen these friends for six years, at a July 4th picnic. J. lives in San Francisco and S. lives in Oakland.

We arrived around 3:30 and the huge turkey was still in the oven. We chatted around the huge island in the kitchen, sipping wine and catching up.

 

 

 

Both J. & S. commented on how “mature” I look — yes, it’s been six years and I’m going gray! — J. said, “You’re all grown up” which made me feel anything but.

Many of the people who have not seen me in several years have made similar observations. Hmmm. My favorite comment was “Wow, you look different”. This was from a musician in San Jose who hadn’t seen me since I last played with her orchestra in 2001.

Thanks a lot! She looked different too, but I decided not to say how much weight she had gained.

 

ANYWAY…back to T-day! The food was absolutely delicious. I liked the fact that there were not a lot of dishes to choose from; just the comfortable, traditional Thanksgiving fare of turkey, cranberry sauce, dressing, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. The only extra dish was a spinach soufleé, made by J. from San Francisco. Major yum on that!

 

 

 

James was asked to carve. We joked about the (straight) man of the house, L’s long-time partner D., who chose not to carve.

 

 

 

He arranged the wonderful centerpiece, however! How straight is that? 😉

 

 

 

The only two things that I would have done differently at this dinner:

1.) Not mix white and red wine. I had several glasses of white before dinner and then had a glass of red during the meal. Not a particularly congenial mix in my stomach.

2.) Have a smaller piece of pumpkin pie for dessert, with NO ice-cream. This, too, kicked back on me for hours afterwards.

Today, James and I head down to Sacramento to spend time with my brother, his wife and two kids. Well, one of them is a junior in college and the other is a senior in high school, so they’re not exactly kids now, but somehow it sounds better than “offspring” or “spawn”.

It will be great to see my niece and nephew.

Just after I wrote that sentence, my nephew actually called to ask me to bring my horn; he just got a loaner horn from his high school and wants me to check it out, and then give him a horn lesson!

Ben is already a fantastic musician; he plays bass (both upright and electric), regular guitar, piano and trombone. He’s getting paid-gigs in the Sacramento area, and is still in high school! (He’s way ahead of me…)

He also has a comprehensive grasp on music theory, and has started to compose and arrange.

He is carrying on the family musical tradition, which is very gratifying to me. I have no doubt that Ben will become a successful jazz musician. It seems to be the only thing he wants to do; he has real passion for music, and thinks of little else (until he hooks up with some girl, that is! 😉 )

He hopes to attend the Berklee School of Music in Boston next year.

But wouldn’t it be cool if he takes to the horn too? I’d enjoy teaching him!

My oldest brother and his girlfriend are also coming down from the Placerville area to visit tomorrow.

We’ll stay overnight and then stop at Home Despot on our way back up the hill.

For the second day in a row, our quiet skies are being BUZZED by small planes and copters, searching the area for marijuana crops.

The guy and gal who came out to install the HughesNet satellite internet system yesterday (HOORAY! It’s definitely faster than dialup! We like that!) said that they’d read something about it in the local paper.

This is the end of the harvest season and the Gub’mint wants to confiscate every last bit of “crop” before it ends.

Regardless of what your opinion might be on marijuana, this seems like a HUGE waste of our taxpayer’s money!

Yesterday I was amazed at the non-stop drone of small aircraft above our usually peaceful neck of the woods; it went from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I just heard the first plane of this new day at 10 this morning.

Please go away. Soon.

* * * * *

(UPDATE) Several hours later: We just found out that in addition to the drug survelliance, there is a small forest fire two miles from town — which explains the copters. Strange….because we don’t see any smoke, whatsoever.

Last Wednesday, James and I accompanied our dear friend L. to a Tea Room in Nevada City. It’s upstairs from an antique store; part of the same family business which has been in town for many years.

Ordinarily, James and I wouldn’t seek out such a place, but L. has been wanting us to go there with her for a long time now.

It was an honest-to-goodness tea room in the British tradition. Little round tables were covered with heavy white tablecloths, set with gleaming, substantial silverware; white porcelain teapots with tea-cosies, whose fabric exactly matched the wallpaper; little silver covered dishes with clotted cream, lemon curd and jam for the scones.

Classical music was discreetly piped into the room, which had high ceilings and crystal chandeliers. It would have been even nicer with a live harpist, I thought. In fact, I spoke to the owner after our lunch and she seemed receptive about having me play there some time, so I’ll keep you posted on that!

Our table was located near a small kitchen, where three women garbed in crisp aprons — again, matching the wallpaper and tea cosies! — prepared the light fare and set up the teapots.

There were only a couple other small groups at tables a discreet distance from ours, so the general atmosphere was private and quiet. It was lovely, really; harkening to an earlier era characterized by leisurely grace.

The little tea-sandwiches, scones and cakes were delicious, and I enjoyed my individual pot of Kensington Ceylon tea so much that I later bought a tin of it in the shop downstairs.

The waitress knew L. by name, so obviously our friend is a regular. After this thoroughly enjoyable, “civilized” experience, I can see why. We look forward to many more visits.

After lunch, we brought L. up to the land In the Woods, as we had invited her to stay overnight. In fact she is the owner of this 38 acres of property, and is very pleased with our tenancy and what we’ve already accomplished in the barn and attached rooms.

Almost every Wednesday, there is a sit-down dinner hosted at the hotel on the town’s main street. Various cooks take turns preparing the meals, which cost only $6. It is a nice opportunity for locals to eat home-cooked food and socialize.

James and I had not heard about these dinners until last week.

We thought it would be a good chance for L. to meet some of the locals, and perhaps connect with someone from her past years of coming up here, as she bought the land up the hill from town in 1969.

Although she didn’t know any of the dinner participants directly, several of the locals recognized the names that L. remembered from years past.

That week’s cook, Paul, was the same one who prepared the best chili I’ve ever eaten, at last month’s fundraiser for a local boy with cancer. So I looked forward to this dinner.

We were not disappointed. Paul himself came out to serve huge bowls of beef stew, brimming with potatoes and carrots and onions. This was topped off by homemade biscuits.

Perhaps a dozen people sat around a long table in the middle of the main room of the hotel, adjoining the historic, picturesque full bar. Many objects dating back from mining days adorn the walls and ceiling, which create a homey atmosphere.

We knew all the people at the table, some better than others; the ones who regularly attend the weekly “Saturday Trailer Trash Potluck” dinners were the most familiar, since we stayed at the campground on Main St. for a couple of months this summer.

So there was L., dressed in her embroidered Chinese jacket and adorned with gold jewelry, sitting in the midst of women in T-shirts or flannel and jeans. She remarked softly to me that she will “dress down” next time.

But no-one batted an eyelash or made any kind of judgement about L.’s obvious “class”.

Generally, James and I have found that the locals are welcoming and accepting; after all, here we are a gay couple, and no-one appears to have a problem with that.

After the delicious dinner, the three of us adjourned to the bar in the next room. This, too, contains many historical objects from the mid-1800s when this mining town first appeared in the middle of the woods, when gold was extracted from the Yuba River which is located just behind the hotel.

The young bartender “Rye” looks like a big, shaggy biker. He recognized us from our few past visits and was very amiable. We introduced him to L. and he tipped an imaginary hat while saying “Ma’am”.

There were a few familiar local guys at the bar who seemed to know us by sight, but we haven’t formally met most of them. They looked at the three of us curiously for a moment but didn’t stare. We all eventually exchanged bits and pieces of conversation as we enjoyed our drinks.

The guys didn’t seem to feel inhibited by the presence of a lady, yet I imagine that they might have toned down their usual rough language just a tad. L. mentioned this later, and hit the nail on the head when she said that mountain men are ‘often chivalrous’. Yes, I believe this to be true.

I will never forget the sight of this fine woman sitting on a bar-stool in this local, rather rough and down-home establishment, and enjoying herself immensely!

L. kept laughing about the day’s events — starting out at an elegant tea-room and ending up at the local bar. She remarked, “From the sublime to the ridiculous”, hence the title of this post.

She didn’t really mean that the conclusion of the evening was ridiculous, per se, but it was quite a contrast from our genteel lunch earlier in the afternoon.

A good time was had by all and I was pleasantly surprised when we received several genuine, nice “goodbyes” when we left.

Yes, we are liking this tiny town (population 166) and its people, very much.

And tonight is Wednesday and we’re attending this week’s sit-down dinner. Paul is cooking again, this time it’s chicken stew. Yum!

All of a sudden, it seems that everything has gotten so much more sophisticated on the WorldWide Web.

Since James and I gave away our television to a thrift store in St. Louis in March of 2002 — we couldn’t STAND it anymore! — most of our news comes from the computer.

During most of this five-year period, news videos on the online New York Times and abcnews.com have been cumbersome, awkwardly put-together, glitchy, and stuttering with poor picture quality.

But seemingly overnight, the online news videos are now very polished, sparkly and glitzy, rather than glitchy, with Google Earth satellite maps and more sophisticated graphics. They didn’t seem to be like that a few short months ago.

The merging of television with computer continues apace. It will not be long before we all have just one little box to watch. Later, we’ll probably have implants so no hardware will be necessary.

Just now I saw the United Kingdom from space, a living example of those flat one-dimensional maps we perused as children, suddenly ZOOM IN to show the actual street-grid of London as the announcer glibly and very quickly narrated short bursts of sound-bytes about the latest Terrorist Threat.

Amazing.

I know this is old hat to you veteran internet habitués, but somehow it comes as a surprise to little old me at the moment. I guess I’m just naive.

It has just suddenly hit me how I’m feeling older, more quickly than I should. I feel like things are racing away from me at an ever-increasing pace these days, as though I’m never, ever going to be able to keep up.

Do any of you feel this way too?

It seems that the world is changing and evolving so rapidly now that we are forced to accept it all, hook-line-and-sinker, just in order to SURVIVE.

And be somewhat coherent about it, and be able to navigate through the ever-more-complicated technological intricacies facing us every moment.

For me, technology has always been a double-edged sword. We have become such slaves to it. We need to buy new computers to accommodate new software every two or three years (at the most!) so we can “keep up”. Americans in particular do not want to be left behind.

Many of us sit in front of computer screens for hours on end, whether at work or at home. Then when things crash, we feel totally bereft. Where have our lives gone? Into electrical gadgets, I think.

Let’s not even TALK about this iPhone thing — except that it’s a four-letter word starting with “H”, ending with “E”.

Yet, part of me wants one.

But there are so many wonderful aspects to being online: communication aurally and visually, and my personal favorite: the written word, exploding in rapidly-multiplying blogs, emails, video conferencing and Instant Messenges.

And I especially enjoy sharing my music, on a much greater scale than I could have ever imagined a few short years ago. I’ve participated in the online musical community at MacJams since 2004. It’s a wonderful bunch of people, mostly. It’s much like the blogging community, except that it has a musical twist.

These online communities are richly interactive environments, bringing millions of people together.

So why am I feeling so conflicted?

On one hand, I hope that I can keep up reasonably well with my online presence, and not be too much of a rube. On the other hand, I am about to move to a place where I will hopefully “get back to basics” in a fashion totally alien to many of us. Kerosene lamps in the river cabin until we get electricity. Outhouse. Chopping wood so we can stay warm in the winter.

My soul welcomes this, in fact yearns for this attempt at simplifying my life. Getting outdoors, using my body more. Trying somehow to recapture something from the past, living life more fully. At least, more peacefully.

Living in the Woods, “with a modern twist”, of course. I am not quite ready to give up modern conveniences like being online. Yet.

We will get satellite, since the land is in the thick of the mountains, no cable, no cell phone service.

Guilty as charged: I am still a slave to Technology.

[Next possible rant: The WorldWide Weather.]