Kate and I did an awful lot this past weekend. Friday afternoon we drove down to Philadelphia, leaving only 3 hours after we’d intended to because of multiple tempests in multiple teapots at work. Kate was about ready to punch everyone in the world before we took off, but the drive down was smooth and quick. We took cleanse-friendly manna bread and almond butter sandwiches and toasted almonds and apples in the car to eat, and stayed pretty happy, foodwise. (the manna bread has an interesting sweetness to it which goes with the almond butter nicely.)
Pulled into the Pickerings’ around midnight and went pretty directly to bed. Got up early to shower and iron before going to the memorial service; Pete and Nancy cooked us eggs (borderline for the cleanse but okay, I think) and toast (wheat flour, ixnay) and canadian bacon (salted, processed, right out) for breakfast, which we ate in polite moderation.
The memorial service played like a New Orleans jazz funeral, except all the music was people talking and telling stories about Charlene, who’d died a month before. Neighbors, friends, relatives, people who’d been inspired by her letters and books, a granddaughter who said that “I could have been an axe murderer, and she’d still have loved me” – I never met Charlene, and by the end of the meeting, I felt like I knew her well. All the stories painted her absence and hung in the air, there in the old Middletown meetinghouse.
This is the kind of thing that makes me love Quakers all the more.
Afterwards, the whole meeting went back to Pennswood, the Quaker retirement community where Charlene had lived. Keeping the cleanse in mind, I looked longingly at the chicken in some creamy something or other and had the (wait for it) painfully overcooked baked institutional tilapia. Having just had Lime Ginger Tilapia a la Kate a couple of nights before, this was a little rough.
Then it was off to talk with our clearness committee , comprised of two couples from Kate’s home meeting whose responsibility it is to make sure that in the eyes of the meeting, we’re ready to get married. We chatted about anger in relationships, how we deal with money, whether we’ve got previous entanglements to clear up, the partly-done puzzle on the table in front of us… it was a good discussion, even if on several of the points we talked about, the response from our overseers was, “You know, we can’t really explain 30 years of marriage to you in words you’ll understand.” Makes sense, but as a child of divorce, I want THE ANSWERS TO PREVENT MARITAL TROUBLES, DAMMIT.
Spent the evening eating great-tasting but cleanse-dubious chinese food with Hannah, Dwayne, and little Haley. (Rice, meat, and vegetables in theory are okay the first week, but fried up sesame chicken (with the inevitable corn starch, MSG, etc) is pushing the envelope hard enough to bust it, just about. So we’ll just call Saturday a wash, cleanse-wise.) During the election cycle, Hannah forwarded around some dittohead piece slamming Kerry, to which I’d responded with as much tact as I could muster . I never got a response from her, and when Kate suggested we spend the evening with her and Dwayne, I made Kate promise to kick me in the shin if politics came up. I needn’t have worried – when there’s a baby around, the conversational event-horizon is so wide that all anyone talks about is the baby. Haley’s a peach, and we spent about 3 and a half hours detailing her peachiness. (She had a nasty sounding recurring cough, and her hair and clothes, alarmingly, smelled like cigarette smoke. I didn’t say anything about it to H & D, but later that night, had a dream about trying to tell a couple in my dream that smoking around their kid was probably not the best idea. Clearly it bugged me.)
The next morning we got up and out fairly early, drove to Conshohocken (to talk with Sherry about Kate’s wedding band and learn the upsetting details of what Sherry engraved on her second husband’s), and then sprinted through the city to get to New Jersey on the other side. Philadelphia’s in full-on spring mode, and Kelly Drive looked perfect – the grass was lush, the blossoms were out, the river was full of crew boats – which gave Kate and I pangs about the things we miss down there. People, mostly, and food, and easy access to a smooth, paved bike trail, and a Dali exhibit at the Art Museum.
Got out to Joe’s liquor store and spent a very enjoyable hour sampling some spanish red wines for the wedding. (the menu’s pretty white-wine friendly, but for those people who insist on drinking red, we wanted to do our best.) Found a couple which were surprisingly smooth and not tannic at all. Picked up three cases, followed by three cases each of a decent riesling (wet) and a gruner veltliner (dry) from a winery named Hirsch, a case of Darting (just in case) and 2.5 cases of bubbly. We brought Kate’s car down, thinking that the Outback would be a better carrying car for 12 cases of wine. Turns out it all fit easily, with room to spare for a case of random things Kate picked out for us to try. The car rode a little lower on its shocks, but even with 13 cases in the back, it got nearly 27 mpg on the way home. I had to eat a little crow about its fuel efficiency, since 27 is better than my car is getting with its snow tires on.
A quick (but awesome!) sushi lunch with Beth and Joe later (I tried the half-price Godzilla roll, which was tempura-fried, warm, and drizzled with tobiko and soy and orange mayo – not quite what I think of for sushi, and something of a spectacle) we got on the road and headed home. Partly due to a bathroom-enforced detour and partly due to my driving slower than Kate, we got home about 7 hours later and collapsed into bed. Great weekend, but hoo boy, pretty densely packed.
UPDATE: Luke pointed out that my original post’s comments about the Pickerings’ breakfasts might have been construed as an evaluation of their cooking (which is quite good) rather than the foods’ suitability for our four-week Cleanse process . We regret the ambiguity, and have clarified the entry as much as we can.