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May 17, 2003: Clustering

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This morning started with cornmeal waffles and pecan butter, and then Richard ran off to get a haircut while I got started on the house-cleaning. I cleaned the kitchen and cleared off tables while he vacuumed up the rampaging dust bunnies and unearthed the back porch from the pile of clutter that had somehow accumulated there over the winter months. Then we managed to get ourselves thoroughly lost trying to find the restaurant where we were to meet my parents and sisters and their offspring for lunch.

After lunch Richard and my older sister’s husband went off for some quality nerd bonding time (or in other words, they saw Matrix Reloaded. Richard and I actually saw this last night as well, since I was not willing to wait any longer than absolutely necessary. And while we are on the subject I should point out that while Kenu Reaves still cannot act his way out of a paper bag and while the movie editors really need to get over their obsession with bullet-time fight scenes because we get it already, it was still a lot of fun). Meanwhile my parents and my little sister and I piled into a car and meandered around the back roads in the hills between Fairfield and Vacaville until we found the Morningsun Herb Farm.

My mom and my little sister’s excuse was that my little sister was putting in an herb garden for my mom for a (belated) mother’s day present. My excuse was that I have this lovely garden window in the kitchen that has been sadly lacking in greenery for far too long.

It’s a dangerous place, this herb farm. Lush greenery everywhere you turn, with all the fragrant scents of the contents of a spice rack. The sheer volume of different types of each herb or vegetable or flower was at times almost overwhelming. How to choose just one type of sage or lavendar or basil from the dozens of varieties offered? I filled my arms with tiny pots – garlic chives and thai basil and geraniums that smell oh-so-deliciously of nutmeg. When I no longer had space to carry them I tracked down a convenient box and added parsley, cinnamon basil, cilantro. I eyed low-growing creepers for future use in garden pathways and pondered an entire shelf of tomato plants – purple, yellow, striped, cherry, giant. There were peppers of every variety. At one point we walked through the little demonstration gardens where the lavender bushes grew huge, and where an extremely lazy garden snake made its way nonchalantly across the path.

Then it was time to drop off my parents and little sister with their flats of herbs and then a quick run to the grocery store before heading home to start working on dinner. I peeled and chopped and stirred and blended carrots and potatoes and celery and onions into creamy potato cheese soup. I stirred butter and eggs and flour together and made nearly a dozen golden-brown cream puffs to fill with cool whip and drizzle with chocolate sauce later that night. And then everyone descended on our house – 7 adults and three toddlers – to run around on our new grass in the backyard, and crowd around the table in our dining room for dinner, and babble excitedly at the cats, and take nighttime baths in the big green marble tub. Well, only the three toddlers did those last two, but otherwise the house rang with noise – laughter and talking and the thundering of toddler feet.

Later, after Richard went off to meet friends for gaming, I went to my parents’ house and picked up my little sister to get coffee. We sat in Starbucks because it was the quietest of the coffee shops we could find, and we talked about things – girl things and family things and children and husbands – over coffee and chai and mocha crunch angel food cake, and discussed once again planning a sisters-only trip one of these days. And once the coffee was gone and it was time for the coffee shop to close, I dropped her back off at my parents house and drove home, reminded once again why I miss her so.

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