This has turned out to be quite the eventful weekend, and I don't really have the energy right now to put it all in one entry, so for now I'll focus on one day and one event: yesterday, Becca and Tyler's Reception Party. Because there is much to tell.
Firstly, this was radically different from Nikki and TJ's wedding back in March 2014 -- in fact, yesterday wasn't the wedding at all, which most of us were not actually invited to. That happened on Friday -- the day before yesterday -- and was at some park in Lake Stevens, the town they live in just outside of Everett.
I was surprised to see the photo Becca posted to Facebook from the wedding itself, with Tyler and all three of Becca's brothers: Tristen, Christian and Braeden.
At Shobhit's multiple suggestions, I called Mom while we were in the car driving to Becca and Tyler's place yesterday, just in case she could give us any insight regarding the family before we got there. She was indeed able to do that, although Mom was just as surprised as I was to see all three of the boys over here.
I had assumed they were here specifically for the wedding. The reason that was surprising was because we had all been told they could not all three come along with Christopher to the family get-together last month at Mason Lake, because if all the boys were taken away then Katina would lose her space in the shelter she's been staying in with them.
Oh yeah: she got evicted. I guess she also had to stop living with her mom and aunt. Long story, most of which I do not know. Although I did learn from my conversation with Mom that apparently Dawn and Sue (Katina's mom and aunt) had suggested Katina just leave the boys to live with -- and be raised by? I'm not sure if they actually suggested that -- them. It sounds like that suggestion caused a bit of a rift.
But, what I learned from Christopher yesterday was that the boys had been with him at Becca and Tyler's place for about a week and a half. They weren't brought over for the wedding. They were there because Katina's time ran out at the shelter, and she told Christopher she had to come and get the boys. "I manditorally had to come and get them," Christopher said. He used that word several times, "manditorally." So what about school? I thought to ask Becca that at another time. I guess they just aren't attending school right now. Those boys are 17, 14, and 11 years old.
By the way, it's a bit misleading to call the house in Lake Stevens "Becca and Tyler's place." They actually live with Tyler's parents, and as far as I know they have this entire time, since they both finished Job Corps -- where they met. It's been several years; I'm pretty sure she had just finished Job Corps when I took her on the Seattle Great Wheel in 2013. Holy shit, I can't believe it's been four years since then already! Anyway, they're talking about moving back to Spokane, because he can transfer with his job without a pay cut and the cost of living is lower.
This relates to several minutes of spirited debate Shobhit and Christopher got into, about raising the minimum wage -- Shobhit is for it; Christopher against it. You'd think poor people would want a higher minimum wage, but Christopher is stuck on how Seattle's minimum wage hike has raised prices in surrounding areas -- such as Lake Stevens -- where the wages did not correspondingly increase. Well, the solution to that is to raise the minimum wage state-wide, but Christopher (like most conservatives, poor or not) counters that it raises prices no matter what. Whatever, for me it's a moral issue: forty years ago minimum wage paid for way more than it does now, simply because minimum wage has not caught up with the inflation that already existed without the wages going up.
But I digress. To their credit, at least both Shobhit and Christopher were respectful with each other and allowed each other their disagreements. This was a lot different than, say, when Christopher was trying to convince me I was infringing on his rights as a Christian by wanting marriage equality, during one Thanksgiving back in the late nineties. That one devolved into shouting. But whatever -- he lost that battle anyway.
Christopher seems to have his own spot on a couch out in the garage, where he's been staying for a while. I didn't quite get the details as to why he brought all the kids here rather than to Mom and Bill's in Idaho -- they have more space for them, I'm guessing. Tyler's parents have been supremely generous with Christopher, come to think of it. When his car broke down on the way there before attempting to come to last month's family get-together, Val and John helped him out so he could get back to Wallace. Apparently they were set to drive back to Spokane again, with the boys, today.
What is to become of the boys is anybody's guess. Mom did tell me, and Christopher confirmed, that Christopher is on a waiting list for a one-bedroom apartment in Wallace. That was new news to me, and indicates there's at least some chance Christopher will stay in Wallace indefinitely, but not necessarily living with Mom and Bill. I was getting resigned to the idea that he would be living in their house indefinitely, to be honest. Although I did ask Mom on the phone yesterday if he helps out being around, and she said yes, so that's a positive at least.
I guess he asked if Tristen could come live with them as well. Mom said yes, and told me she was okay saying yes with the idea in mind that perhaps they would wind up living in the aforementioned apartment. Apparnetly the State won't allow the boys to stay overnight with Christopher unless he's in an apartment with at least one bedroom.
I asked Christopher if he likes it over there in Wallace, and he said yes. He said it's "less depressing" than Spokane -- that almost made me laugh; I kind of feel like that goes without saying -- especially in the winter. He said he saw an article recently online that listed the most depressing American cities in the winter, and Spokane was on the list. Maybe it was this list. Or this one. Spokane is on both, but then, so is Seattle, and ranked as more depressing. Whatever! Seattle is the shining jewel of the planet.
Christopher mentioned that in Spokane, where snows are much more sporadic, it gets very dirty very quickly and instead of untouched snow it's just brown muck, and for long periods. In Wallace, the snow sticks around, and is mostly pristine and untouched. It's much prettier and thus far less depressing.
Anyway, beyond all that, this Reception Party was . . . interesting. I mean, I had a good time. I think Shobhit did too. Shobhit and I spent a lot of time talking to Tyler's mom. Her name is Val and she was very fun to talk to. She made excellent homemade macaroni and cheese. She's one of 21 siblings and half-siblings because her father was, according to her, known as "The Whore of Buffalo." She was born and raised in Buffalo. She met Tyler's dad, John, in the military. They have lived all over the country and ultimately wound up in the Pacific Northwest due to the military stationing them on the West Coast. They spent some time in San Diego as well.
John is very white and Val is pretty black; this would make Becca the second person in the family, after Shobhit and me, to be part of an interracial marriage. Because in America, even 50% black means you're black.
We also met Tyler's sister, Brennan (who goes by Bree to everyone but her parents, I guess -- but she was introduced to me as Brennan), also sitting at that outdoor table in the backyard. I liked her a lot too. She works for Microsoft, which gave her and Shobhit something to talk about.
One pseudo-criticism: these people were super friendly and I very much enjoyed their company, but they did not at all seem very well versed in hosting parties. On this point alone, I feel like Dad and Sherri kind of dodged a bullet by having Becca send out the Facebook Event invite so late that Dad and Sherri already had travel booked for the weekend. Wherever they went -- I don't remember -- I'm certain they enjoyed it more than they would have this remarkably disorganized party.
None of the potluck dishes had serving utensils in them. I had to ask Becca where I could find some. I then had to ask her if they had any paper plates or plasticware; neither could be seen anywhere. She did find some for me. The paper plates were set out on a coffee table with a hole torn in the plastic casing, through which to pull the plates.
There was no central area with enough seating for the number of people there, and it was fairly crowded. They did make room for Shobhit and me to sit and eat at the small table out in the backyard, which was how we wound up chatting for so long with Val and Brennan. Anyone else with a plate in the backyard would have had to stand, or maybe sit in the grass, though.
To be fair, I suppose they could be cut some slack given that their house was clearly overcrowded already. I don't know how many rooms that relatively large house has, but for the past week and a half it's been housing eight people at least, and that's double the number usually living there.
Still, I think Becca in particular could use some, I don't know -- hosting etiqutte lessons. Someone send that girl to finishing school! Okay, I'm kidding. Mostly. Rule number one: don't make your guests wonder if they're going to have to regard macaroni and cheese as finger food.
Most disappointing was that they did the ceremonial cutting of the cake, and no one bothered to come tell us out in the garage that it was happening. Someone had asked about cake, and there was talk that we'd go ahead and have dessert, but I did not realize Becca and Tyler cut the cake together until I saw pictures on Facebook later. I was merely brought a slice. Wait a minute -- Shobhit brought me that slice! Did he see them cutting the cake? That just now occurred to me.
Bree (Brennan) was the one who provided the cake. It had a citrusy flavor to it, a berry flavor to the icing between the layers, was incredibly moist, and it was delicious.
Because the party itself was so very informal, I didn't get anywhere near as many photos as I hoped. Although the full photo set (which can be viewed by clicking either image in this entry) currently includes 16 shots, all of 4 of them were taken by me, actually at the party. Three others were taken by me before the party: of the gift I brought them (free mercantile samples of kitchen glasses I got at work, wrapped in leftover Christmas wrapping: Shobhit and I wrote the book on being cheap -- but hey, Becca seemed to love it, so there) and of the samosas Shobhit made for the party. One shot was taken by Becca at the wedding itself on Friday, and the other seven were taken at the party but posted by Becca on Facebook after the fact, and I swiped them.
Speaking of the samosas, those took up a majority of the time spent yesterday before leaving for the party. Although Shobhit and I did take a walk around Capitol Hill late morning to run a few errands, and we watched a few episodes of season four of BoJack Horseman. And he had already made the potato filling something like three days before, and the dough at least one day before.
Now it was all about Shobhit putting the samosas together -- putting the potato filling inside the flattened dough which he then pressed into their semi-triangular shapes -- while I manned the stove and tended to the samosas getting deep fried in the oil in the wok. This alone also took a while.
Shobhit and Ivan and I all had some of them for lunch. I had two; Shobhit had three; Ivan took two and then later went back for a third. Shobhit made something like fifty of them total. We kept another 9 or so for ourselves, and Shobhit took a box of 11 to share with coworkers at one of his jobs this morning. He made an earlier batch and took those to coworkers at his other job on Friday evening. Suitably impressed people all around.
That said, because we know Becca to be, let's say, not the most worldly -- Shobhit and I both kind of unfairly extended that expectation to the rest of the people at this party, and we really thought a lot of people might not even try a samosa. This was the attitude of at least a few of the people who came to our wedding in 2013 with its Indian food catering, after all.
Well, we needn't have worried. We went to Safeway yesterday morning and bought a tray to take the samosas in, and in it we brought 24 samosas. By the time we were leaving to come back home, there were only four left. I had only one or two out of that batch myself. Becca herself loved them, and was happy to keep the leftovers when we left. Val and Bree both were impressed. Only Christopher was the one who said something like, "It's . . . interesting." But, hey. He ate one.
There's probably a lot more I'm forgetting but I'm ready to stop writing and post this now.
[older family gatherings posts]