I think this is my favorite shot from Laney's birthday party last night. "And another thing!" Actually she wasn't saying that, it just looks like it. I have no idea what she was actually saying.
I've spent a lot of time comparing this party to the one Laney had at her "cottage" ten years ago, for her 50th birthday. That party was coparatively raucus -- and boozier.
It turns out, Shobhit was a significant factor in how much Laney enjoyed her party last night. She really appreciated him making not only the samosas, but the pumpkin pies he made from scratch, using fresh pumpkin. Laney and I talked specifically about those pies today, and I noted how I don't think I've ever had another pumpkin pie that was better. Laney said she felt the same way. I told her how impressed Shobhit had been with Laney's friend Mary's "Boston Cream Pie Cake", and he even said to me he thought it was better than his pumpkin pies. Now, I liked that cake a lot, but still I was like, "No it wasn't." And Laney said exactly the same thing today. Those pumpkin pies were excellent.
Those pies were unusual in a few of ways. First and foremost, I suspect, was the use of fresh pumpkin -- I think that gave it its vivid flavor. Second was that was used a vegan pumpkin pie recipe, but substituted the coconut milk with real milk -- so they weren't actually vegan; Shobhit just didn't want eggs in them. He's refraining from eggs for a Hindu-related reason that I don't quite understand (he's really not especially observant, but I guess some rituals do comfort him). The other two things were that, as always, he also made the crust from scratch; and he also put together the pumpkin pie spice on his own -- except, since we discovered we did not have ginger, that was replaced with cardamom.
So just keep all that in mind with this specific vegan recipe as a guide, and you've got yourself a fucking fantastic pumpkin pie.
But that wasn't the full extent of what Laney openly appreciated about Shobhit's contribution to the party. Now, there was alcoho available, mostly wine -- maybe three or four bottles were brought, including a refrigerated boxed wine Laney herself brought. But Shobhit offered several non-alcoholic options, both thanks to products brought home from Starbucks: cold brew coffee, and Teavana Iced Passion Tango Tea. The latter was prepared by putting one of the "pitcher packs" in a pitcher and filling it halfway with boiling water, letting it steep for five minutes, then removing the bag and filling it the rest of the way with cold water. One problem: we used a glass pitcher and pouring boiling water into it cracked it -- it didn't shatter, but we had to toss it into recycling.
The pitcher was one of two that were part of a set with several margarita glasses that Mala and Vega gave us when they moved away from Seattle, close to a decade ago now. We've had them for years. Well, now we're down to just one of the pitchers. Space was getting tight on that shelf anyway.
In any case, at least a couple of Laney's friends don't drink, and Laney said it was really nice that not everyone was drinking and there were other options. Although her 50th birthday party in 2007 was itself great fun, that was still one contrast between then and now.
Also, Ivan must have asked me three times how the party was, and when I said for the third time it was fine and that he's asked a bunch of times, he was like, "Well, you haven't given me any detail." It was like he wanted to hear about some kind of drama. I said, "There was no drama at this party. Gabriel wasn't there."
Also, Laney specifically asked in her Facebook invite that people not talk U.S. politics or chorus politics -- several of the friends were from the Seattle Women's Chorus, and also Laney's sister Lorrie is married to a Republican. That guy's name is Richard, and it should be stressed that, Republican or not, he has never been nor is he now a fan of President Fuckwit. Laney told me something about her 50th birthday party that I never knew: apparently Andrea (who now goes by Alex) was somewhat confrontational with him when she found out he's a Republican, and at that time it was, like, the second time Laney had ever met him. Nothing like that at this party! In fact, he did indeed seem like a perfectly nice guy to me.
Shobhit did bring up some reference in passing to the president at one point, and Laney handled it with both grace and charm, immediately saying to him, "No politics!" And she started cradling his face in her hands and caressing his cheeks, and repeating herself: "No politics. No politics!" It was pretty funny. As I noted to Ivan earlier today when talking about it, it's not that difficult for Laney to get Shobhit to shut up when she needs to -- because she's fairly diplomatic about it, and she and Shobhit actually respect each other.
And other than that, it was a super laid-back party, and seems in retrospect to have been the perfect venue for its purposes, in our Braeburn Condominiums complex community kitchen. I'm 41 years old and was probably the second-youngest person there -- I said earlier to Laney that I was probably the youngest, but I was forgetting her friend Alán, who shares her same birthday but was turning 38. That's three years younger than I am, damn it! Anyway, somewhere between a third and half the people there were at least above fifty, if not also above sixty; with Alán as possibly the sole exception, everyone else had to at least be in their forties. Oh wait -- I suppose Julie, one of the members of the B Naturals quartet, could easily be in her thirties as well. Anyway! The point is, the party was just sixteen of us hanging out, eating and drinking and visiting but never coming anywhere close to getting wild in any way. At the 2007 party, which took place the night before her party, everyone cheered like it was New Year's Eve to ring in her 50th birthday at midnight. Not only did this party have nothing like that, it also broke up a little while before midnight even arrived. It was after 11:00 though!
I did take this one panorama shot while we were all sitting around in a circle, which shows all but two of the total sixteen who attended. This seems like as good a time as any to list everyone who came:
8. "Mary the Good"
The list above, from Diana through Trace, is everyone left to right in the above panorama shot -- except Shobhit is between Kenneth and Richard, and Laney is between Lorrie and Julie. Alán is the only guest I never got a photo of, as he came last to the party, and by a wide margin -- which everyone totally understood, given that it was also his birthday and he was spending time with his parents. He and Julie are apparently partners, and she was unable to go to his get-together with his parents because she had already committed to this party, and to sing a few songs as part of the B Naturals quartet. Alán arrived in the middle of that performance, actually, and listened from outside the windows, not getting let in until the songs were finished.
How about I just share all four songs with you right here?
They had said they would sing three songs and then do a fourth if we wanted -- as if we might all say, "Thanks, but three is enough!" After that third song, though, I shouted, "I have a request!" And I requested this parody of "Faith" that Laney wrote -- which they also performed at their inaugural set at the retirement home in August -- called "Cake."
What could be more appropriate than this song at a birthday party?
When they were not performing, Laney did give me a shoutout for the playlists I had created, at her request, for the party. I actually created four playlists, and the one with songs all about getting older never got played. I did play the specific list of songs about birthdays and celebrations first; then there were two separate playlist consisting of her favorite classic rock bands and songs -- the first of which I actually have on Spotify. It's a genuinely great playlist, I think.
Laney's friend Mary, who had brought the Boston Cream Pie cake, was the first to leave -- and she did the "Irish Goodbye," leavig without actually saying goodbye to anyone. Apparently this is typical of her, and everyone was amused rather than annoyed. The last I remember of her, she was asking Shobhit for the entry code to the bathroom around the corner in the hall. Maybe she just left after using the restroom. She left the cake, of which about a quarter was left at the end of the evening, so Laney took it home inside the large tupperware container it was in.
Carol and her husband David were actually the first to arrive, even before Laney, because they thought the party started at 6:00 when it was actually scheduled for 7:00. And they had parked at the Angle Lake Park & Ride just south of the airport and taken Light Rail. They were slightly embarrassed by arriving so early, but Shobhit and I said it was fine; Laney was on her way by then anyway, and she did arrive with her sister Lorrie and brother-in-law Richard about twenty minutes later.
And the others trickled in steadily after that, nearly everyone bringing great snacks and foods. Shobhit and I prepared 24 samosas before the party, and about half of them got eaten. Lorrie brought something both simple and ingenious: crackers topped with peanut butter and m&m's. Scott brought deliciously seasoned crescent rolls and Kenneth brought mini quiches. Half had chorizo and half were vegetarian, but I knew Shobhit would never eat any of them because they were all in the same container and touching each other. I didn't care and had a couple of the spinach and cheese ones, which were very tasty. They didn't have any chorizo on them; only their sides had touched anyway and the chorizo ones were just topped with it.
Once the party was winding down, everyone else left pretty much as a group. Shobhit kept trying to start cleaning up earlier than I thought he should, and more than once I tried to discouage him from it -- I didn't want people to feel like they were getting rushed out, even if Shobhit had to be up early for work this morning. Laney did stay back and help clean up, which was not hard to do. None of Laney's friends are slobs.
I did keep having to pull used paper plates out of the recycle bin and put them in the trash. I had to tell Shobhit, yet again, that food soiled containers are not recyclable. He literally just shrugged at me about that, which was fucking annoying. Food soiled containers contaminate entire bins of recycling, preventing any of it from gettoing recycled -- they tell us this constantly at work. So as far as that goes, Shobhit needs to get his shit together. He never puts used paper plates in the recycling at home, so I really don't get why he was doing that. At first I thought it was other guests doing it. I caught them all, at least, and took only genuinely recyclable things to the recyling dumpster in the East building at the end of the night.
Shobhit and I walked Laney to her car in the parking lot across the street. Then we came back to the kitchen so I could gather up the stero that plays my iPod classic that had the playlist on it. By now we had already taken a couple of rounds of things back upstairs to our condo. We had a full plate of leftover samosas, two of which I am going to have for dinner tonight as soon as I post this.
Note: either of the still photos in this entry can be clicked to take you to the full photo set on Flickr, where I have more details about the evening in the captions.
[posted 7:53 p.m.]