"And now, I'm glad I didn't know/the way it all would end, the way it all would go/our lives are better left to chance/I could have missed the pain/but I'd have had to miss the dance."--Garth Brooks, "The Dance"
Thanks to everyone for your hugs and sympathy, first of all. I really appreciate it.
My great-aunt gets out of the hospital later today. She will have a home health aide coming to her house for now. This is a huge concession for her, but she really can't do for herself right now. The aide will at least relieve her daughter a little, which is good.
My work husband B. and I arrived in the Outer Banks area of North Carolina on Tuesday night so we could make it to Maia's funeral and wake on Wednesday. I'd heard about those beaches, and not just from Maia, but have never been. I'd like to see that area again, in happier circumstances. We got dinner from Sonic (we miss it here), and had to go through the Brew-Thru, which is, I am not kidding, a drive-thru liquor store that she told us about a few times. We even got T-shirts for ourselves and a couple friends from there. He and L'Ailee's best friend consider each other good friends, too, and we looked at each other and knew he'd need a Brew-Thru T-shirt, "the biggest you've got."
It was a hard night. B. couldn't sleep, either. So we went and sang karaoke in the hotel bar, choosing the most upbeat songs we could manage. It helped get his voice in tune to sing at the funeral, anyway. (The song he sang was "The Dance," by Garth Brooks.) We both spoke, too, a couple minutes apiece. Pretty much everyone did.
So many people were there from all across Maia's 44 years of life. There were a lot of strangers with only one person in common hugging, crying, and talking. As we talked, we put together, like, a mosaic. Her parents were really eager to see me and B. They said she "talked about you like her brother and sister." They wanted to hear about her time in NYC and what she did at work. We liked hearing their stories of her childhood and adolescence, too.
It's been hard to pass her empty desk and chair. I'd almost managed to block out why I found it distressing. Now I realize she'll never, ever be there again, and the feeling's as fresh and painful as it was in June. It's not going to stay empty, though. We have to hire someone to take her position, if not her place. We can't keep spreading her job functions out. B. and I promised each other that we would be kind to the new person, that we would not compare them to Maia or tell them stories, that we would not hate them for things that are not their fault. I was sort of in that position once; I'd replaced a woman who got pregnant and decided to become a stay-at-home mother. She seemed to take on ever more sterling qualities in her former co-workers' eyes, and though I did the actual job competently enough, I always came up short. I wanted to scream, "Look, I'm sorry she's gone, but it's not my fault and I can't be her!" I won't do that to another person, and I write it down here so I can remember.
I managed to get the muscadine grape pie down there in one piece. It took some pretty clever packing. I made one for L'Ailee, too, because she loves it as much as Maia ever did, if not more. I'd rather share a recipe than go on writing my own stuff, actually. This one's from About.com Southern Food. Muscadines or scuppernongs, nothing else will work in this. Both are ginormous grapes that grow in the South--muscadines are the purple ones and scuppernongs are the green ones. They are very sweet, with tough hides. Bite through that hide and you're rewarded with a juicy burst of flavor. But they're not around long--they're a late summer/early autumn treat. L'Ailee and I buy lots, even though it's not cheap in NYC.
pastry for 2-crust 9-inch pie
2 quarts ripe muscadines
2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon butter, cut in small pieces
Line pie plate with half of the rolled out pastry. Refrigerate pie shell and remaining pastry until ready to fill pie. Mash muscadines. Separate hulls from pulp. Strain so as to get juice, leaving pulp and seed. Cook hulls in juice until tender, adding a little water if needed. Let cool, then add lemon juice, flour, and sugar. Put fruit mixture in prepared bottom crust. Carefully arrange top crust over fruit, lattice style, if desired. Flute edge. Cut several slits in top if top crust is left whole. Bake in a 400° oven for approximately 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375° and bake 30 minutes longer.
Serve with whipped cream or whipped topping, if desired.
Links about happier things:
NY Governor David Paterson may try for same-sex marriage equality again.
Mike Szymanski offers a list of bisexual pride symbols. Yes, we have them.
Next week is Fashion Week! I won't be seeing much of L'Ailee. But there's one show I'd kinda like to see: Snuggie's "sexy" fashion show! That's right, the blanket with sleeves. And if you think that's wrong, dare ya to click on the NSFW Snuggie Sutra link, which explains how to, well, do it in a Snuggie. With stick-figure illustrations. It's got a heterosexist bias to it, but that's not why my beloved wife murmured, "No. Just no." when I showed it to her!
Finally, while I was distracted, the All You Can Eat Schadenfreude Buffet was being set out for me. First, Alex Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals' showboating left wing, got himself perhaps the world's stupidest tattoo this summer. (Commentary is often funny, but there's homophobia and just plain grossness in it, fair warning.) This is waaaaaay better than, say, Ruslan Fedotenko's new tattoo. Then Carl Edwards, who is fourth in the Sprint Cup Championship points, fractured his foot playing Frisbee. Right before Atlanta, which is one of his better tracks, and the Chase (a/k/a "playoff") order being set next week. I actually feel kinda bad for the guy, to be honest.
Speaking of the Atlanta race, James Dobson may be there to smear it with his culture war slime during the pre-race invocation, but his Focus on the Family organization is hurting, to the tune of 75 more staffers being laid off. Oh, and not only is Glenn Beck a paranoid nutjob who whips up fear for fun and profit, not only is he hemorrhaging sponsors, but he fails at spelling. Honestly, this is yummy and all, but I don't think I could handle another bite...