Today is [Saturday was] our 22nd anniversary, and we went out for lunch at the nice tapas place downtown, Cascal, and then to see The Desolation of Smaug.
Prior to lunch, we purged the gift wrap stash. It seems that much of the nice (ie: unused, from this decade) stashed wrap Christine didn't like, and then there was the ton of recycled or salvaged stuff (a half dozen calendars, for example).
That purging led the way for me to wrap the gifts for my aunts, uncles, Grandmámá and her husband, my grandfather's wife, and my parents. While in the midst of optimizing shipping -- it turns out the fixed rate envelope held the gift of local almonds just fine (although now as i think of it, the odds of smashed almonds come to mind) -- a gift from my grandfather's wife arrived: filet mignon in a giant styrofoam box.
I'm pondering using the steak at the Meetinghouse for our guests who are there this month. That's my planned Christmas morning activity, and i can then write a thank you note that admits to being vegetarian but assert that our guests enjoyed it. And how often, i wonder, do folks provide a touch of steak in the meals they prepare for those who need to sleep in the area churches?
I love the way the USPS has evolved! I could use the address book entries from last year, pay with paypal (and not have to go find a credit card). When all was packed and the USPS shipping labels taped on, off we went to the post office (where Christine chose to stand in line), and then we had our lunch.
While in the house i had felt chilled and cold, the day was bright. We ended up sitting outside in the sun. Just the moment in the restaurant with my heavy sweater seemed too close. We ordered a salad to start: Brazilian hearts of palm, roasted pineapple, jicama, watercress, lime-coconut dressing with grilled shrimp. The hearts of palm had a quality like the whites of boiled eggs. Not unpleasantly so, but i expected a touch more crunch - that the jicama happily provided. If i were making the salad i would have had to added something to give it a bit more color. It was absolutely delicious though, so i don't know what could have been added without affecting the flavor balance.
I ordered the roasted sea scallops. With my first bite, i thought whatever hot seasoning had given the salad its heat was still on my palate, overwhelming the gentle sweetness of the scallop. Then i noticed the slices of jalapeño in the dish. How could i have missed that in the menu description? I didn't: "Fresh sea scallops roasted with shiitake mushrooms, black pepper-soy butter sauce." Fortunately this small dish was very small (three large scallops) and Christine's choice, "Crisp tortillas topped with fresh crab, shrimp, chipotle aioli, guacamole and crema," was huge. Christine enjoyed the jalapeños, and i feasted on the piles of lettuce on the tostaditos.
Our waiter was short with us, and i always assume that attitude is that "Lunching ladies are terrible tippers.." At the movie theater Christine asked if i thought it was because of her. It breaks my heart to think that she still worries about being visibly different. I mentioned the lunching-ladies attitude, thinking about the loud group several tables away from us. Since one of the ways Christine has taught me generosity over the years is through tipping, i knew the waiter would not find that we were short with him.
The Desolation of Smaug didn't resonate well with us. I felt that the echoes with the previous trilogy felt more like reuse than thematic returns. Skimming over the book, i feel like a great possibility was lost: the movie essentially begins with the visit to Beorn. In the book, Gandalf cleverly tells a story to Beorn, slowly introducing all the dwarves. What a great recap opportunity! Stay true to the book, begin with a shire-esque view of an edenic rural life, reintroduce all the dwarves, and then later bring back the evil. Even have Gandalf and Beorn have a political pow-wow out of sight of the rest of the crew. But no.
And the end? Ouch.
Will we go see the third? Yes, i will. Hrmph.
My observances of the wheel of the year have not been as active as i would like. Sometimes i wonder how much is the shift of ecological meaning with the local Mediterranean climate. The length of day is not nearly as important as the arrival of the rains. (And this year, drought, drought, drought!) I found myself celebrating the first rains with delight, knowing that it signals a greening and rebirth at odds with the traditional understanding of the solar wheel that won't see the look forward to rebirth and greening until Imbolc.
I will take the thought of the solstice into Meeting worship today. Thinking of the growing light ties closely with the sense of leading, that the photography and flowers is a Right Work for me and will lead me to where i have the joy of work that aligns with the sense of Calling.