Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas at Squaw Valley

As usual, we fled the Bay as soon as we could Friday night. Ski Team picked up where it had left off the previous weekend and we shoved Thing 2 out the door at 8:30a Saturday morning.

We've had an early and abundant snowfall this winter so the mountain is quite well endowed for December. Dave's sister, BIL and kids came up from LA Sunday and The Cousinfest began. It stormed heavily one day then snowed lightly off and on a few more days. In general, though, the conditions were great and Dave and I both got in four days. After eight years of being neighbors and friends, I finally skied with Downstairs Lora. It was humbling although I really appreciated the lesson and her taking her game down several notches for me.

I just love skiing with the kids; they're at the point where we can all ski together and just enjoy the mountain. I had the luxury of skiing by myself Christmas morning. The sky was blue, the slopes were nearly empty and the snowboarders, who I fear will run me over from behind and leave me maimed for life, were absent. It doesn't get much better than that.

Squaw Valley does a Christmas Eve Parade of Lights. Instructors and coaches ski down KT wildly waving flares and it's a beautiful thing to see. It was even more fun this year because we met up with Aaron and Jessica, and five-week-old Sierra. Yes, they live in Truckee and named their daughter Sierra. Incidentally, there's just something delicious about babies. No matter how many you've had, newborns just draw you in. It's quite impressive that Jessica is back on skis so soon postpartum. Either it's the healthy mountain lifestyle or the fact that her career as a neonatal RN made her smart enough to do the right things for Sierra en utero and stay in shape during her pregnancy.

The littlest Pinks turn eight this month so we had a celebratory dinner with our neighbors. With my MIL and her gentleman friend, who came up for the night, there were 28 of us. You can see Thing 2 above with her candled carrot. She didn't want a cupcake. (More for me. My scale proves it.)

The older cousins watched the younger cousins one night and the adults got a expensive meal at Plumpjack.

All in all a great week in the mountains. I was a little sad to come home but what with two birthdays in the family this week, it was time.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

December 26

Be forewarned, friends and family, the Room and Board Sample Sale is not for the faint of heart.

I'm not sure I've ever been shopping on the day after Christmas. But, spurred on by the increasing unhappiness we feel toward the uncomfortable and too-small-for-our-clan family room sofas, I got up early and drove into the city. Not knowing how many cars would be joining me on the road led to my arrival 45 minutes before Room and Board opened. I got into the parking lot, barely. There were perhaps 75 people in line when I arrived and when the store opened, the line extended another 300 people easily. Who knew?! Fortunately I had The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with me and the time went quickly.

Once inside, it was a stampede. The cognoscenti had scoped out the store in days prior, noting where their picks were located. Then on this day they ran for them and plopped themselves down, waiting until a sales associate passed by and wrote up their order.

I didn't have a snowball's chance in hell. C'est la vie. I'm still glad I went.

Five days of skiing left me a little achy so I took a chance that Suchada, my favorite Thai massage place, could take a walk in. And they could! So I had a great rub down before heading to the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market, the best California has to offer IMHO. Of course parking was a nightmare but after having read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle I was on a mission!

Now for my next moment of discovery: the market takes two weeks off for the holidays. At least Ferry Plaza has lots of foodie options. I left with four kinds of mushrooms, including Black Trumpet, which I'd never seen before, Prather Ranch beef and a Miette cupcake.

Sur La Table was having a big sale so I bought a few things and didn't buy many others. (Are you reading me, Dave? The bag I brought home did not include the cupcake wrappers, $160 Scanpan and cutting board that was not on sale.) My big coup was a green paring knife, pictured above. It's Kuhn Rikon and it's the best knife I've ever owned. I'll be cooking this weekend.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My babies

These are my daughters, the three young people that have most changed my world. They have taught me how to function with very little sleep, belly laugh at things most people would find disgusting, and set aside my selfish tendencies.

Sherman Chu shot this picture, among others. We were very lucky to be the high bidder for his services at an auction last year. His niche is high-end weddings and I love to read his blog. It transports me to exotic celebrations on foreign soil and reminds me of the promise of marriage, of the way I felt when Dave and I tied the knot. A former news cameraman, his point of view is incredible, too.

Here's the backstory: Eldest Daughter is flexing her adolescent muscle by nixing the sweater I bought her for the photo shoot in favor of a top of her own choosing with high-topped Converse. Thing 1 is wearing a skirt, impervious to the cold at 8:30a on a November morning. Thing 2 is in a shag vest, reminiscent of my parents' Golden Retriever, whom she loves more than anything, with patent purple boots.

This photo makes me happy.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Happy tears

I've just had a good cry after returning home from dropping off the gifts for the family which Thing 2's class "adopted" for the holidays. One of Thing 2's classmates has a much larger SUV than mine so they graciously (for many reasons) drove. The gifts, pantry items and general household supplies filled up the entire back of their Yukon.

The generosity and huge way Thing 2's classmates and their families undertook this project blew me away -- not only did people donate requested items such as work boots but they added socks and extra laces. One family donated toiletries and dressed them up in a basket with cellophane and a ribbon. Another donated toys for most of the kids to accompany the gift cards the family had requested.

While the family received the actual items, I truly believe that we received the biggest gift.