This weekend was Girls' Weekend Out, an event some of my female friends started several years ago. It's a time when us women get together for a weekend, just us, and spend some quality time, whether it's chatting, doing things together, or watching chick flicks and drinking girlie drinks.
We'd had some scheduling difficulties and had missed a year, but we've already tentatively scheduled another in the spring, when we should be able to do some outdoorsy stuff.
This GWO was hosted by The Laughing Man's Wife, whom I will dub from this point onward The Scrapbooker, after one of her favorite hobbies. Her home was filled with decorated photo frames, and she showed off her latest accomplishment, a 2007 photo montage of her family, folded into an origami-like book.
At 8 a.m., I dropped our doggie, Una, at the pet sitter's, as The Gryphon would be hanging out with the guys at The Photographer's house. They would do manly things, like going to a shooting range.
After dropping her off, I came home and packed. Then I drove to the grocery store to pick up ingredients for a special drink. I'd looked through the bartender's book I'd bought recently, and selected the Cape Codder, which involves two of my favorites: vodka and cranberry juice. It also includes a splash of lime juice and is garnished with a lime. My last stop was at the wine and spirits shop for some citrus vodka. I also picked up a bag of fresh fruit to share for snacks.
Closing my trunk, which was full of bags and items, I thought of how much lighter The Gryphon had packed, taking only a backpack with a change of clothing and a bag containing some bedding. I did have a few extra items I'd thrown in on a whim, such as a bag of extra craft supplies I'd accumulated but knew I would never use.
I'd even packed a bag full of belly-dancing music and hip scarves, thinking that if there was a slow moment, I might suggest teaching people some belly-dancing moves. As it was, I never got around to that, so it sat in the car, along with my snow boots, packed on the off-chance that the weather would turn nasty.
I got on the road by about 11 and arrived about 11:30, and I wasn't the first one there, as The Cousin, The Paper and The Book Lover had already arrived. The Scrapbooker had some delicious vegetarian chili cooking in a crockpot.
I was getting hungry, to the point of irritability, so after stubbing my already sore toe on the short rise into the dining room, I set about unpacking the foodstuffs I'd brought. This included the fruit, the homemade hummus, and two containers of whole wheat pita, which I cut up for dipping into the hummus. I should have left one of the packs uncut, since we only got through one of them. I now have a package of small pita triangles in my refrigerator, which are only good for dipping into things (or, I suppose, making extremely small sandwiches).
The Scrapbooker also provided some chicken salad and some homemade bread, and someone had brought corn tortilla chips. I happily filled my plate and began to eat, feeling less cranky as I did.
Over the next hour or so, a few more guests arrived, including The Warrior Princess, My College Roommate and her young son, The Genealogist and finally, a friend I formerly called The Punster's Wife but whom I will now refer to as The Nature Lover, after her fondness for wolves, bears and natural landscapes.
We chatted over lunch and caught up a bit, and then we cleared the table and unpacked the crafts people had brought to work on. The Genealogist was working on some beaded ornaments, which ranged from very simple to complex. She had bags and bags of beads, all contained in a neatly organized container.
The Cousin was primarily working on sewing projects, including hemming a dress for one of her daughters.
Since The Paper doesn't do much in terms of crafts, she'd brought her laptop and worked on a short story. Of course, if I'd thought of that, I would have brought The Gryphon's laptop and hammered out some more pages of the upcoming Winter issue of Wild Violet.
The Nature Lover worked on a holiday door decoration, which had a sort of fragile elegance, composed of dried materials, feathers and ribbon. As she neared completion of it, she mused that it was too delicate to grace her door, given the strong winds she'd been experiencing lately. She resolved, instead, to hang it indoors.
The Warrior Princess was working on an ambitious project: spinning wool into yarn, which she'll then use to knit, I believe, an afghan. She is a very skilled knitter. In fact, when she arrived, she was showing off her freshly completed red and black knit socks, with such an intricate pattern you'd swear they were made by a professional craftsperson.
The Warrior Princess was trying to teach the skill of yarn-making to The Book Lover, who found it challenging. I helped her, at one point, by holding one end of the string, which unfortunately, kept getting tangled into things such as loose thread from a lace-making project.
I hold the end of the thread for The Book Lover
Throughout, The Book Lover kept cheerily unwinding the tangled thread, laughing as The Warrior Princess teased her, and she was ultimately rewarded for her patience with a sufficient amount of thread to take home and perhaps use later in one of her own projects.
I had brought some random craft items, such as pieces of felt, cardboard, sequins and craft glue, with the vague idea of creating some holiday ornaments to hang on my dad's tree when he hosts a holiday get-together at his house. I'd been hoping that The Cousin might bring her daughters, who are both very creative and who, faced with a pile of lace, pompoms and sequins would no doubt have found multiple ways of making ornaments. But by myself, I wasn't sufficiently inspired and when The Genealogist saw me with nothing to do, she offered to teach me how to make a simple beaded wreath ornament.
It was simpler than it looked. You simply place a certain number of beads, in a certain order, on a bent wire. I was about halfway through when I dumped all the beads on the floor (my hands, it seems, have more trouble with fine-motor skills when I'm cold). So I started over again and this time completed it. I was having trouble finishing it, and as The Genealogist worked on it, the wire broke, spilling all the beads on the table.
The Genealogist, undeterred, said she'd restring it for me, so she remade it and finished it, giving it to me to keep. So really, I suppose the only work I did on the existing wreath was to select the beads which were used in it.
Later, she taught me how to make a much simpler ornament, a candy cane made by stringing beads onto a pipe-cleaner. For this one, I can claim full credit.
She suggested I could even allow my cat to play with it, but given his penchant for chewing on plastic bags, I told her it might be a bad idea to give him a candy cane made with plastic beads.
My College Roommate, meanwhile, was busy chasing after her son, who was playing with toys in the other room. When she came into the dining room and announced, wearily, that he was getting restless and she was taking him outside to play, The Genealogist and I stood up with the same thought. We threw on our coats and joined them outside. After all, she shouldn't be isolated from the rest of her group just because she'd brought her son.
The Genealogist, who has many nieces and nephews, was a natural at playing with him and making him laugh. I got a chance to talk to My College Roommate and catch up on things in her life. And her son seemed less restless and had some fun.
The Genealogist and My College Roommate's Son
Of course, playing in the yard had its drawbacks: namely, mud. The Genealogist and I busied ourselves in the kitchen with paper towels, trying to get all the much off our shoes. Of course, My College Roommate's son dashed off before anyone could stop him and got mud all over the carpet. We assured her that The Scrapbooker was no doubt prepared to deal with such situations, as she has two small children herself.
My College Roommate couldn't stay much longer, so she bid us good-bye and she and I vowed to get together sometime for lunch.
Meanwhile, The Cousin was helping The Book Lover to hem up her Arwin costume from Lord of the Rings, which she made a couple years ago for Halloween. As The Book Lover stood on a chair, The Cousin pinned it up for sewing later. She couldn't stay long after that, as she had a small child of her own to get home to.
The Scrapbooker awaked from her nap, and after making short work of the muddy carpet, asked if I wanted to watch a movie with her. We settled on Amelie, which The Cousin had brought, a beautiful film. Of course, it's longer than I remembered, so we couldn't watch the whole thing, as we had to get ready to go to dinner to make our 6 p.m. reservations at a nearby Mexican place.
I was expecting it to be a little colder than it was, and I'd brought some wool pants to change into, pairing it with a purple cashmere sweater and a denim jacket. The weather was warm enough, though, that I didn't need the wool, which itched me through the lining. Still, they were nicer than my jeans.
The restaurant was a small store front decorated southwestern style with embroidered sombreros and desert scenes. They were crowded and also understaffed, as one waitress had called in sick, and the staff kept apologizing to us for slow service. Still, even with our large group, they served all of us at the same time, and the food was tasty.
They also gave us free sangria, which was very tasty, sort of like a wine cooler with chunks of fruit. We shares some appetizers. I had a taste of one filled with delicious cheese.
My entree had the word Festival in it, which was one of the reasons I chose it: I wanted a festival of taste, baby! It was a shrimp dish with chorizo and rice. Yum.
While the others got desserts, I opted out, because I was looking forward to sampling the cookies The Genealogist had brought, which I'd avoided all day. I probably should have limited myself to a couple, as that was my worst indulgence of the day. Hopefully, being good the rest of the week will help make up for it.
When we got back to the house, The Nature Lover bid us good-bye, as she had a long drive ahead. The rest of us opened some red wine and watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the movie, which I'd never seen. I expected it to be campier than it was, and since it was neither terribly campy nor terribly thrilling, I was disappointed. We did, however, have fun making fun of the trendy fashions the high-schoolers were wearing.
A couple people went to bed then, including The Paper and The Scrapbooker. I made a Cape Codder for myself and for The Cousin and The Warrior Princess to share. While I was out of the room, they decided to watch Shaun of the Dead, which is a great film but I'd been campaigning for Thoroughly Modern Millie, with Julie Andrews and Mary Tyler Moore, which I'd never seen.
Still, it was fun watching Shaun of the Dead with everyone, laughing at the brilliant first half. Partway into the real drama, though, I fell asleep and woke up, drooling on myself, as the credits rolled.
We all got ready for bed, then. I changed into pajamas and brought down my sleeping bag, looking for a place on the floor. The Genealogist had brought a large inflatable mattress, of which she was only using half, so I took her up on the generous offer to use the other half.
If you'd rather watch a musical than a zombie flick, don't be out of the room while the decision is being made.