We were celebrating Deirdre's 50th, and while there had been hints of meeting up in New Orleans for the event. When enough people said they couldn't make that flight, it went back to being in Seattle, where everyone else lives. She gave us nearly four months, however, in which to plan, so we made the whole trip just for the party.
The old Synario group, the folks that John created the whole application with at Data I/O, and whom I joined much later as a software engineer, were folks that formed good close bonds with both John and me. I was one of the "wives" before then, when i was still doing hardware design. Several of the other wives were engineers too, though there were also ceramicists, artists, caterers, business managers, and all the like, and we were all pretty driven in our fields. In many ways it was coming back to our peers.
*laughs* It was a mite intimidating, as pretty much everyone in that room had made their millions for their families, and were either looking for more or were consulting and making more by just doing the stuff they wanted to do with connections all around the world. Sticking with the tech instead of just chucking it all the way John and I did. All of them not only doing really well but being creative in their own ways. Music (several are in bands another picked up teaching piano in a week again), writing (four published authors in the room), and the like.
But with the same wonderful mix of creativity, drive, and challenge with and for each other. These folks are why I always look at someone in surprise when they comment about how rare it is that someone technical is also creative. Most of the high-end technical folks I've known have always been creative, they wouldn't have been able to get the jobs or make the kind of money they did if they had only followed the lines.
It was a lot like coming home again, to people we knew in ways we couldn't know anyone else. After working whole weekends, the crazy schedules, bowling, partying, and staying up to all hours of the morning, I knew these folks in ways I don't really know all that many people. I wasn't ever on par with John and Paul and Joe or either of the Daves, but I was bright enough that they respected me, perhaps more than I respected myself. It's funny as I always felt like the "younger sister" to the main gang.
There is bright and there is bright and there are these folks who shine like the sun. Anyone who ever thinks writing software has nothing to do with creativity and amazing personalities and the ability to leap into intuition with a steady basis of reality never met these folks. I was very happy to bring a painting for Deirdre's present, and very happy that these folks liked it as well.
*laughs quietly* And the food... Good God the food. *laughs*
Deidre asked everyone to bring Cajun-style food, with a Mardi Gras theme. Gumbo of three kinds, spicy as hell andouille sausages, fresh live oysters on the half-shell, plenty of shrimp, red beans, okra, cornbread with honey, Hurricanes, and Huge Ass Beer cups (plastic of course) filled with the local brews. Salad and rice and appropriate accouterments, and the feast was on. The funny thing was that we all had so much to catch up on, no one really paid attention to the food until after 8:30, and Jet only ate a plateful of rice with a bit of salad. *laughs* We ended with two lovely King Cakes with a white and a chocolate plastic Baby for the game. Amazingly almondy and sugared and accompanied by vanilla ice cream.
Jet had fun with Isabel, Paul and Deidre's daughter, and the girl who named him, in some ways. She was the three-year-old that pointed to my tummy and said, "There's a baby and two airplanes in there."
We talked and talked and talked. *laughs* And I played Wii Mario Karts with Jet for a while, and after 11:30 pm, both he and I decided it was time to go home and to bed. I love having a child who is entirely reasonable about bedtimes. So he and I bugged John a little, and we said good-bye to everyone and then went back to Isabel and George's and passed out.
One funny thing happened on the way home. We were talking about plans for the next day, and Jet very firmly said,"I really want to go to Ninja Noodles!"
I died laughing, but told Jet that I was really pleased. As the really good authentic Japanese ramen store in Seattle is called "Samurai Noodles". So it was close... and I was just impressed that he *remembered* something that was *like* but utterly unlike in a different way. So today was a mad scramble of priorities. Food and familiar haunts or Daniel Smith's seminar on how to present art in the Seattle area? John and I had also brought a painting for his mother, Isabel, and he'd packed it in a box, hoping it would hold, but the glass broke, ripped up the matting and the frame but not the painting itself (I am very happy about being lucky). But on finding that Isabel wanted to wander around the downtown Uwajamaya, we all finished up a rousing game of Pit, got ready and went downtown to find Samurai Noodles and the Uwajamaya Market.
It started with their chicken-base (shouyu), rather than their more famous extra-rich pork (tonkatsu) soup, and they added fish cake, roast pork, half a boiled flavored egg, toasted seaweed, green onions, and bamboo shoots. I asked for the thin noodles instead of the "fat" noodles, which are actually the more common width ramen noodles. Mine were thin and wheat-based, and very delicious but mildly different than the mildly more transparent "fat" noodles that everyone else had. All the noodles were good and chewy and the broths flavorful and the condiments, especially the slow-roasted tender pork and crisp toasted seaweed, were very good.
Happily sated, we walked into the huge food mart of Uwajamaya, and the first thing I saw was the Beard Papa's Cream Puffs. I had to have one, just the plain one, as I'd heard so much about them and kept walking by the place because I was full by the time we were in the grocery store. So I finally plopped down the money and had one.
It was utterly wonderful. The shell was crisp, rich with egg, and filled with a perfect cream-cut custard. Lighter than a regular custard, but creamy and lovely and not too sweet. It was about the size of a hardball baseball, so it was a perfect dessert, mostly air and crisp sweetness. I enjoyed mine very, very much, and savored it as we looked over all the sushi, the pre-made meals (including and udon that Jet just adored), and walked through the fish tanks and saw the enormous Dungeness Crabs. I wanted one so badly. *laughs* During the summer, we're just going to have to buy a few, boil or steam them, and just eat them with a bit of ginger and vinegar. Yum.
Yes, it is just as spiky as it looks. The funny thing is that it peels like a lychee nut, i.e. there's a leathery skin with white flesh underneath, smooth and fragile. And the flesh had the same texture as a lychee, but the flavor is more tart and mildly more fragrant. The whole thing fit the palm of my hand, so the fruit is significantly larger than a lychee, but the pit is proportional. So it wasn't any great monetary bargain, however, it was certainly unique and I was glad I'd tried a fresh one.
Trader Joe's used to sell freeze-dried Rambutan by the pouch, and they were tasty, so it was nice to actually experience the real fruit.
From there we went to the Daiso across the street, thousands of neat little Japanese items for a dollar-fifty. We ended up with some nice origami paper, another brush pen, more ink for my other brush and regular pens (I do love Platinum and Preppy fountain pens), and lemon-scented pencil leads. Jet liked those more than the strawberry ones, so I had to buy them as well.
We went home after that, just to drop off Isabel, George, and Jet before John and I headed into Issaquah on a mission. The first was to get the Yellow Chrysanthemum re-framed, as the frame was damaged, the matte cut through, and we had to replace both of them at the local Michael's and Aaron Brother's framing. I was made very, very grateful for John's work in doing the matting on the paintings, as the mat alone cost nearly thirty dollars for labor and materials. We bought big mat boards for eight bucks and cut up to four different mats from each one. So we saved a great deal of money by doing it ourselves, but in Seattle we didn't have the resources, so we just sucked it up and got what we needed.
Other errands included going to Trader Joe's to check out the beef bacon (which wasn't cured, so we didn't get it), Costco to check out the gas line (which went out into the street so we got gas elsewhere), QFC for a box of PG Tips tea bags (which was easy to get especially through self-checkout), and then back for the cut matting. (Takes a minute to go off and make a pot of PG Tips)
From there we went to Frye's and tried out every keyboard on the shelves. My BTC 6100C, cut-off keyboard (no numeric pad) has been going a little intermittent; however, the play of the keys is *perfect*. Not so much that it takes effort for each stroke, but not so small that I don't get good tactile feedback. I love my keyboard too much, as NOTHING on the shelves was even close. I just found out that the keyboard takes 65+/-1.5 g of force for it to take. *laughs* THAT's the thing that I need to match for a new one. But none of the ones that they had on their shelf actually matched what I have already, and I was pretty sad about that. My keyboard isn't being made anymore, and I'm starting to look into rather esoteric methods of obtaining a replacement, but the first was just fun to go into Frye's and try everything, as that's where I bought this one. Sometimes, being able to go into Frye's and walk out without buying anything is something of an accomplishment. I might have been able to go with the Microsoft wireless ARC, but it seemed a lot of money to spend on a "maybe".
So, I figured that I'd spent the afternoon well. In the evening we all went to Yeh's Wok and had a wonderful dinner of tea and camphor smoked duck, the dry sauteed green beans, and the walnut shrimp. Jet ordered the deep-fried tofu and egg rolls for the bulk of his dinner, and we all tried a bit of those as well. It was an amazing meal, eventhough I've had it so many times before, the flavors were just as I remembered them. I learned recently that they also serve "stinky tofu", and I should remember to order that there next time as it isn't on their English menu.
Sunday was our travel day, we were out the door by 8:30 a.m. and had plenty of time at the airport to find some mochas and our lunches to take onto the plane. That worked out well, and we had a very pleasant flight, got to DIA in the daylight which made finding the car and getting home a breeze. Jet and I napped a bit in the car on the way home, played Kirby's Epic Yarn when we got home, and John made a nice spaghetti dinner.
I have, however, come down with a cold. I'm very thankful that it's not the flu that's been floating around, lately. Just a little cold that makes me sniffly and achy and tired. Not so bad that it's eaten my brain. The weather's been nice since we got home, and it's making me feel like it's spring. I should be planting outside. *laughs* Especially the spinach, lettuce, and radishes, but I've been tired. So mostly been writing, practicing Chinese calligraphy (thanks to Sam Song's "Learning Chinese the Easy Way", I've even understood what it is I'm writing down), and peering mildly at Chinese poetry. I want to learn more of that to put on my paintings in the traditional method. Scribbling the thoughts that go with the image. Maybe I should just do it in English as I'm American. That might be fun to do.