Monday, November 30, 2015

Sweet November

Well, a whole month has come and gone. I just haven't felt much like blogging lately, plus writing love letters has taken up some of my free writing time. I'm only halfway done with the project (5 of 10) so it looks like I'm going to be later than I was last year when I completed 10 before the end of November.

Anyway, this month started out with Puck's birthday the first weekend - as it's been in some years past, it was a multi-part affair. On Saturday a group of friends visited the Alice Austen House on Staten Island. Katie M stayed over with me Friday night and we went together. Teresa came separately and got there first - it's been more than a year since I saw her so it was nice to catch up. Evan and Adele came from Long Island, plus Patrick and Alyssa so it was a nice crowd of very familiar people.

The next day we had a dinner at Puck's home and Emily came, although she couldn't eat much since she was preparing to have surgery in a couple of weeks. So we had the traditional carrot cake and multi-course homestyle dinner. I gave Puck a small blue Totoro doll and a novelization of the movie, items that go with the giant Totoro that I presented to them a week prior and that has been staying at TSMC with the rest of my stuffed pals until I can move him out to Staten Island.

The following weekend Puck and I had a private date for their birthday and got to cross something off our funzies list that's been on there for many years - we visited the Intrepid Air, Sea and Space Museum. We started with the 360 degree flight simulator ride and then explored all the decks of the USS Intrepid. For dinner we went to Gotham West Market and had some small plates at The Cannibal (Salumi board of bresaola, finochietta and sopressata; Thai sausage with bok choi, jalapeno and peanuts; and Brussel sprouts with mint and country ham gremolata). After that we went to see the new James Bond movie SPECTRE at the Empire 25.

The following Thursday we did a TSMC showing of "My Neighbor Totoro" at TSMC, since we had a plethora of Studio Ghibli characters in residence. Puck brought their Catbus doll to join the party. Michelle and Katie B came for the movie, and after it was finished Michelle left, but Katie, Puck and I watched a second Ghibli movie called "From Up on Poppy Hill," my favorite of the more realistic works in that genre. Lillian came by near the end of the movie and we all chatted for a bit before calling it a night.

The next morning Kacey came over to start our long-awaited Boston trip to visit Lourdes and Illona, who have both relocated to Beantown this year. We had a lovely drive up and met up with Nick at Lourdes' place in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood. We went down to Centre Street where we found all sorts of quaint bookstores, toy stores and thrift shops. I bought a children's book for Illona and Tom called "What is Punk?" and we had dinner at a Lebanese place called Cafe Beirut, followed by ice cream at J.P. Licks. We met up with Lourdes at home and started watching "The Man in the High Castle" on Amazon before turning in.

Saturday Kacey left early to meet up with another friend who happens to live in the same neighborhood, while I met Lourdes' other houseguests, Mary and Roberto who came in late the night before from a concert. We all went out for brunch at a nearby place and then met up with Kacey back home before saying goodbye and heading to Illona's house, which happens to be very near Puck's old place of residence, the Magic Treehouse, in Somerville.

Tom and Illona were cleaning the house when we arrived, so they shooed us away so they could finish. We took the subway downtown and walked along the waterfront until it was time for dinner at The Daily Catch. The food at the Seaport locations isn't quite up to the standard at the North End location that Puck and I visited last summer ("Staycation 2014" - August 31, 2014) but it was still top-notch. We had dessert at the Mister Crepe in Davis Square back in Somerville before returning home.

I had planned to visit my friend Linda the next morning for brunch, but she unexpectedly had to work so we had a little more relaxed time leaving the next day. Kacey and Illona did a pregnancy photo shoot, as Illona is due to give birth to their first child in mid-December. I got to finally meet Illona's pet hedgehog (surprisingly, this is the first time I've ever visited her residence, since I never visited her in Brooklyn).

We left Somerville about 1 pm and stopped at Frank Pepe's in New Haven for an early dinner - it was my second visit and Kacey's first. We made it back to New York smoothly and I dropped her off before heading down to SI to drop off Yoshi. I had a little supper and tea with Puck's mom and dad before heading back to TSMC to meet up with Puck after their date with Alex.

The following Tuesday I had lunch with my friend Chrissy at my nearby Kung Fu Noodles. As I mentioned in my last post, I met Chrissy at the Pride march earlier this year and we've been Facebook friends since. I've convinced her to let me mentor her to join the Open Love NY leadership team, so we'll be working together for the next few months. We came back to TSMC so I could cook my noodles and we watched the MTV True Life episode about polyamory that included my cameo appearance. Her husband Charles came over and we went to the Open Love NY potluck party together.

For Thanksgiving I took a 24-hour trip to visit Chris and Bruce in Harrisburg. I left Wednesday evening and we had a late late Friendsgiving dinner at their home with Fiona, Bruce's friend Tony and Fiona's friend Jay. Chris and Fiona did all the cooking: a roasted duck and duck fat fried herb potatoes, a leek and cheese quiche, dandelion salad and an apple cobbler for dessert.

We started eating at about 12:30 am and finished up close to 2 am. Once everyone left, Chris and I stayed up to watch some MasterChef Junior while she baked a pumpkin pie for the next day. I finally went to bed around 4 am and she probably only got about four hours of sleep before we were up to go to her parents' house for Thanksgiving dinner at 1 pm.

The dinner was the same group from last year minus Aunt Christa, who had to work on the holiday this year, but it was the first in their new home so there was enough room for everyone at the table instead of having a separate kids' table. Chris' mom Julie read an Irish blessing before the meal and we all dug in. There was roast turkey with stuffing, homegrown mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, cranberry and raspberry sauce, plus an apple pie to go along with Chris' pumpkin pie for dessert.

Since we started dinner so early I came back home the same day and hosted Natalia on Friday, where we watched two more of the Fast & Furious movies. We are doing them in movie timeline order, so we saw Fast and Furious 6, followed by number 3, Tokyo Drift. We'll finish with Furious 7 in the next few weeks.

Finally tonight I ended the month with the first of a two-part Star Wars marathon I'm hosting for Katie and Lillian's friends. One of them named Jen acquired the Harmy Despecialized Editions of the original trilogy, which I was very keen to see. We're also watching them in the so-called Machete order, which is supposed to produce a better flow in the story. So Jen brought the discs over to TSMC and we were joined by Lillian, Katie, Carolyn and Rebecca. It was Jen and Carolyn's first visit to TSMC, and Rebecca's second (after Furious 7). Although I've met Carolyn many times now, I think it's the first time I've met Jen and it's always a treat to meet someone who loves movies as much as I do.

We did Episodes IV, V and II this time, and we'll reconvene on Saturday to view Episodes III and VI. Carolyn has never seen the movies before, so we're trying not to spoil things for her. This is actually my first time doing a Star Wars marathon and it's very interesting being submerged in that universe for a whole day. We also talked about doing an extended edition Lord of the Rings series at some point, which I've done in a single sitting before with my family in New Jersey. But for friends, I think if it happens we'll break it up into two or three sessions.