Neglected to mention in the last post that we passed the six-month mark since the thing. Feels like it should have been a milestone, but it really wasn’t. He’s still gone, I’m still learning how it all works without him – or remembering how to do it. I’ve been single before. I still continue to be gratified that, despite my low-level fear that It’s All Going to Fall Apart, somehow, everything keeps going and getting done and the apartment looks fine and I’m meeting my obligations, for the most part. I’m not taking that for granted, not at all.
And anyone who thinks I’m no longer mourning or insufficiently shook or whatever… well, you didn’t see me randomly start sobbing on the airplane coming back home this weekend. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.
I have a dear friend, Susanna, who I’ve known since we were counselors at the same music camp. After graduating from Eastman, she established a piano and voice studio in Rochester and has been there ever since, she and her husband raising two sons (now solidly adults) and being active in the community. I used to visit them regularly for Thanksgiving: they’re both good cooks, but S particularly loves the holiday cooking and plans it out like an army operation (much like a certain Mr. C did). So it was nice to be invited for the first post-thing Thanksgiving.
There’s no obvious best way to travel between Rochester and NYC: its’ a very short flight, but a lengthy train ride or car ride. I probably would have rented a car if I thought I’d need it in Rochester, but knew I wouldn’t, so flew. I thought I’d come in on Tuesday and leave on Saturday to avoid the heavy travel days, but for some reason there were almost no flights home on Saturday, so I stayed until Sunday. Me, apologetically, “do you mind if I stay until Sunday”. Susanna, rolling her eyes, “You are welcome here always for as long as you want.”
Came in on Tuesday afternoon, husband Patrick picked me up at the airport. Lovely reunion, got settled in the guest room, unpacked. Their house is lovely and large – purchased not only to work logistically as a teaching studio within a home, but also with (what was) a mother-in-law suite for S’s mom, who has since passed away. Got caught up, then took them out to dinner. (I had brought nothing in the way of gifts, was anxious to pick up dinner checks or do whatever to be a good guest.) S’s friend Amy, from college, who I’ve also known since I was a sweet young thing, but had not seen in forever, was driving in and arrived after we got back from the restaurant, got all caught up there.
Leisurely morning Wednesday, at least for me, while S prepped stuff. We two went to Wegman’s for shopping – a zoo of cart traffic, but everyone was in good spirits. S’s friend Kathy – a fellow singer and teacher – came over to help. We prepped for Thanksgiving, which mostly involved me and Amy staying out of the way at the kitchen table, occasionally being handed carrots and parsnips to peel or such, while S and K and P did their thing in the kitchen proper. I will say I am mildly jealous – their kitchen is set up so it’s not hard for multiple cooks to work at the same time. My kitchen is extremely well-stocked, but it’s a galley kitchen and it’s very difficult to even have more than one person in there if you’re trying to cook. (C at more than one party, when Tessa or my mother or whoever was trying to chat with him in the kitchen, “Go stand over there – no, right there.”)
I also did various projects I’d brought with me – Ruddigore score comparison, making a spreadsheet of C’s charity donations from last holiday season so I could do another round from “the estate” this year, planning my own Christmas stuff and so on. Worked on knitting some coasters. Amy is also a knitter (and a cook) and we had a lot of good conversations about that stuff – and Kathy, Amy and I also had a weirdly specific conversation about CPAP machines (which we three all use), which S found fascinating.
K eventually left (to return the next day with her husband), and we had chili and salad for dinner, plus ice cream afterward. S and P are big wine people, so there was quite a bit of delicious wine drunk. Then in the post-dinner hangout in the living room, Amy (who has health problems which marijuana products help) brought out her vape, and there was a huge discussion about how that works and the various ways to consume… what’s the general term for CBD oil and pot products and such? … let’s just say pot products. S’s been having hip problems, and was interested in trying out the vaping to see if it helped, and P knows his way around a recreational puff or two. I myself have never been a pot smoker, but have been ‘edible curious’, particularly thinking about how the right combination/dosage of, uh, pot product could give me the approximate effect of the booze I drink at night, without all those calories. Something to investigate at some point.
Thanksgiving was more of the same – staying out of the way in the kitchen, helping when possible, doing my own projects. I spent the morning up in my room, calling family and friends. We were joined for dinner by K and her husband, and S and P’s younger son (older son was getting over being sick, and stayed home). Food was fantastic. Very traditional: turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce (the real stuff), two different dressings, rolls and so on. Three pies: apple, pumpkin chiffon, and chocolate pecan. Someone had posted online that a pecan pie requires almost no skill to make, and I’d watched S make this one – it does look very easy, although I don’t really want to encourage myself to start making pecan pies…
And then Friday and Saturday were more of the same. Some lovely power walks in the morning – Rochester is a lovely town, as far as architecture – most houses are just charming. Puttering around, putting quick breakfasts and lunches together, fairly elaborate and delicious dinners. S and P decorated the house for Xmas. More of my own projects (I finished knitting some coasters, which I handed over to my hosts) and at some point, no longer felt guilty about just going upstairs and retreating to the library to read.
Saturday, S and Amy and I went into Rochester for a bit of shopping. They dropped me off at Parkleigh, which is an eclectic gift store I enjoy visiting every time I’m there. They went to F. Oliver’s, an oil and vinegar store (what?) a ways down the street. I’d found FO’s really interesting when we’d been there before, but C had bought a bunch of fancy oil and vinegar there which we still have in our kitchen. I need to evaluate them – after discussion, it may be that the oil is all expired now. I poked around Parkleigh, but it was mobbed. I also got this sensation of, “everyone here is going to have a lovely Christmas, and they’re working on that now, but I don’t know if this is going to be my year for a lovely Christmas, so don’t force the jolly when you don’t feel it”. I thought about buying an Advent calendar, but in the end, bought nothing, and strolled down Park Avenue to meet S and A at FO’s. Even that was kind of evocative – again, I’ve been visiting Rochester on and off since the mid 80’s and there were a lot of old memories flashing back. (There’s a lot here I’m not getting into, but those early visits involved some drama, which I was on the sidelines for – I’ll save that for my memoirs, heh.)
Both sons came over Saturday night for dinner and a movie (“The Santa Clause”, always fun). Older son was the first of the “wow, my friends are adult enough to make babies” children, and I’ve known him (and his brother) all his life. He’s now in his early 30’s, OMG. The two brothers share an apartment and are great friends, which I think is very cool, and they have dinner with their parents most Sundays, also very cool.
And Sunday I got up very early and S and P drove me to the airport about 8:00 for my 10:00 am flight, and the airport was actually surprisingly empty at that hour, although while waiting for the flight, it got much more heavily peopled. Flight home was painless, and I spent the rest of the afternoon doing laundry and such. Then joined my upstairs neighbors for another round of pizza and House of the Dragon. Very fun.
So, a success! S and P will probably come to visit me over the winter or spring, and we’ll go see a show or too.
Now I need to get Christmas together. I’ve already told everyone involved that there’s no way I’m doing the 100% Christmas explosion that C did every year, but I’ll certainly do at least one tree, maybe both. Waffling about things that we did every year for holiday prep, such as cleaning the chandelier in the dining room. It was a finicky process that took C a whole afternoon, and involves taking all the little crystals off – but I know that I have instructions for doing that somewhere, and, more importantly, you can really tell when it’s been cleaned. I usually polished the piano and entertainment center – I’ll probably skip that this year, but it’s not difficult, so if I have time, I’ll do it. I’ll be rejiggering the entertainment center anyway – my gift to myself is a new TV, and reorging the entertainment center so the stereo amp is in the top half (thus much more accessible) and has a bluetooth connection so I can, for instance, play Christmas carols from my phone. I ordered the TV yesterday- it will be here next Monday. Current living room TV will go to the bedroom, current bedroom TV (an old not-flat model) will go out the door.
Again, it seems like a lot of work, but it’s fun work, for the most part, and none of it actually has to happen, really.
OK, so, happy holidays! More about Xmas stuff later, I think – for instance, what movies am I going to watch. C was a big “Rudolph” fan, but I’ll be happy not to watch that this year, or maybe ever again…