alycewilson (alycewilson) wrote,

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Relaxing with Friends

Saturday marked the second day of Independence Day festivities at The White Rabbit's house. He hosted a barbecue both days, knowing some people can't take off work for the federal holiday.

Bohnanza players (Click to enlarge)

(clockwise from left) The Con Ops Guru, The White Rabbit, The Cheshire Cat,
Batman, My College Roommate, and The Devil's Advocate

There were fewer guests than on the day before, which after all, was the big holiday. Over the course of the day, The White Rabbit's guests included my husband, The Gryphon, and myself; The Dormouse; My College Roommate; Batman; The Devil's Advocate; The Big Kahuna; The Con Ops Guru; The Paralegal; The Treasurer; Kapow; and The Cheshire Cat and his wife, The Paper.

We arrived shortly after the party was supposed to be getting started, at noon. I was already hungry, since that's about when I typically eat lunch. But I opted for sensible choices, such as the healthiest snack (pretzel sticks), and carrots.

The phone rang, and The White Rabbit told us it was for us. The Paper was calling to say that she was running late and asked if we could pick her up. The Gryphon and I had planned on making a trip to Penzey's Spices in Chestnut Hill, a terrific spice shop. Originally, we'd hoped to interest others, but My College Roommate got involved in a game of Bohnanza and opted out.

Since she'd been there before, The Paper gave us directions to Penzey's Spices, which is on Germantown Avenue in a very nice neighborhood of Philadelphia. As we drove, the winding roads, greenery and old buildings looked familiar. Sure enough, it turned out to be on the same street as Bredenbeck's, the bakery that provided the wedding cake for The Gryphon and me. Of course, we hadn't returned to that neighborhood since the cake tasting, more than a year ago.

I found a place to park on the street, and we walked back to the store. Before we'd headed out that morning, The Gryphon had gone through our spices and made a list. The only thing we bought on a whim was a package of Tandoori seasoning, because The Paper was getting it and raved about it.

Penzey's Spices (Click to enlarge)

The store is amazing: it stocks just about everything you'd want in terms of spices and seasonings. We probably could have spent a lot more time and money there. Then again, we also would have to be able to store it, and we have limited space for that. Speaking of which, The Gryphon also picked up some empty jars which he'll use for the bulk spices which we currently have in bags.

On another day, I'd love to walk through the streets of Chestnut Hill and do some window shopping, but on this particular day we wanted to get back to the party. We had a nice, relaxing ride on the bright, sunny day, listening to Polyphonic Spree, which The Paper liked as much as The Gryphon and I do.

The Paper has a reputation for being a very sensible person, so when I complained to her about the poor performance of my car's air conditioner, I wasn't surprised she had a simple solution. She suggested I have my mechanic check the freon. I'll do that the next time I have it serviced.

A few more people had arrived when we returned, including The Cheshire Cat, who had brought the crock pot containing The Paper's delicious jambalaya. Since I was hungry, The Paper suggested I put some in a bowl and heat it in the microwave. I did, and it really hit the spot.

The White Rabbit got the grill going closer to dinner time, at which point I had The Gryphon, who was serving as grill master, cook me a Boca burger. I had it on a bun with a slice of tomato, lettuce, ketchup and mustard. It was delish.

The Gryphon at the grill (Click to enlarge)

With a smaller amount of people, I could enjoy quiet conversation. I spent some time catching up with The Paralegal. I also got The Paper's advice on looking for a home, which is something The Gryphon and I hope to do within the next couple of years.

I would have been up for another game of Bohnanza, but people were tired of that, having played it while we were at Penzey's. I did, however, participate in a game called Citadels, another German-style card game. In this one, your goal is to build your own empire. You get four cards, each of which is a building that cost anywhere from 1 to, I think, 10 coins to build. The goal is to build 8 of them, for the highest number of points/coins.

For each round, people select from among up to 9 possible characters, each of which has separate abilities. You can give yourself advantages or disadvantage another. For example, the warlord can destroy other people's buildings, while the thief can steal their gold and the assassin can "kill" people, or keep them from acting during that round.

Playing Citadels (Click to enlarge)

(clockwise from left) The White Rabbit, me, The Devil's Advocate,
The Cheshire Cat, The Big Kahuna and The Treasurer play Citadels.

Alyce imitating the Bishop (Click to enlarge)

I imitate the artwork on the Bishop character card.

It was a pretty close game, and we had a lot of fun during the process. The Treasurer kept getting himself killed. You see, the assassin doesn't know which player has chosen each character when announcing which character is going to be killed. The Treasurer just had the bad luck of picking the wrong character, several rounds running. He still did fairly well, at the end.

My College Roommate was the first one who reached eight buildings, but The Devil's Advocate won, in part because we'd kept knocking down all his less expensive buildings, and he'd replaced them with pricier ones, which are worth more in the final tally.

The Cheshire Cat, who ended up at the tail end of the selection every time, kept selecting The Artist, which isn't a terribly useful character. It allows you to decorate your existing buildings, in the form of putting an extra coin on them, which adds up to more at the end. He beautified nearly everything he owned, including a prison and a battlefield. We found this hilarious, joking about how he would beautiful such places.

My College Roommate was about to head out when The White Rabbit asked her if she had time for a game of Guillotine. She said yes, knowing that it's a short game. The thing was that we were playing with some players whose recurring strategy was to abruptly end game play by capturing the Robespierre card or playing the Scarlet Pimpernel action card. This prevented any other players from accumulating heads and therefore points. However, it also makes the game shorter.

So three games of Guillotine later, My College Roommate actually headed out. She told us she'd had a great time, as it was her first chance to do any gaming in a long time.

As I had the previous day, I splurged a little on food, but nowhere near as bad as I used to do at such parties. My problem seems to be after the second beer, when my self-control around food goes out the window. Until that point, I'd been carefully marking down what I was eating in a small notebook. I guess that's a lesson for the future: if I'm going to drink more than one drink, I should space it out.

We stayed a little bit later this time. The Gryphon got into some conversations about anime and science fiction topics that didn't interest me, and I fell asleep on a chair until waking suddenly a short time later. At that point, The Gryphon suggested we leave, making sure that I drank some Diet Coke first, for a caffeine boost, since I'd be the one driving. Actually, the nap had done its job and I had no problems keeping my eyes open on the way home.

Take a list with you to Penzey's or you might spend all your money.

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Tags: batman, big kahuna, cheshire cat, college roommate, con ops guru, devil's advocate, dormouse, food, friends, gaming, gryphon, holidays, independence day, kapow, paper, paralegal, photos, treasurer, white rabbit

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