Sunday, January 30, 2011

A boring life?

I haven't written in more than a month because I tend to define my "normal" life as a bit boring and uneventful and just not worth sharing with my bestest friends and family. Last night helped me remember that MY normal is not exactly the same as everyone else's normal. I invited this group to our home for this group, I only knew Deb and Richard knew me...and there were two others that aren't in this photo!
Steven is missing and so is Richard. We have: Deb, from Venezuela on the far left; with Sharmila next to her. Yan with the pearl necklace center; "She" the grandma of Staci and Brice and the mother of Traci, sitting next to me; with Staci, the grandaughter on my lap and Brice beside me. Traci, the mom is in the purple; Baba is the grandpa and on the left of Traci and Judy, Steven's mom is in the back. Our dinner...minus a few.
So, we had nine people whom I had never met at my home and seven of the nine were Chinese...not Chinese Americans, Chinese who had arrived in Cape Coral, the town next to us, just two days earlier to meet Steven's family and a see a bit of our country. And then, I had invited a lady I had heard about from my contact at Hope Hospice.

Sharmila, an Indian woman, I had heard, speaks both Mandarin and Cantonese so I thought I would just give her a call and invite her over just in case we needed help with our Chinese guests who don't speak any English. Her husband was dubious and a bit cautious when I spoke with him. Sharmila was at work and he wasn't quite sure why I was on his phone, inviting his wife to a "free" dinner with people no one knew. I guess, for him, or for most people, that would sound odd but I just found it wildly humorous. He took my name and number and Sharmila did call me back and agreed to come join our anonymous group.

Now, Sharmila, not a stupid woman, asked if she could bring a friend who is Chinese so she would have someone she knew at the dinner. "Sure, why not? said I. And Yan did come and was a welcome addition to our dinner party. Yan and Sharmila were able to talk with our guests and we all laughed our butts off at the mixture, the agreeable and fun time we had and we were essentially strangers. I did invite two people to this dinner, Steven, a guy I had met and enjoyed during my short census work and Deb, who is Venezuelan and also someone I worked with at the census...Steven and Deb had never met either. And, as it turned out, we discussed having Deb teach conversational Spanish to Sharmila...we died laughing all evening.

So, the conversation was a bit in Spanish, a lot in Chinese with translations and a bit in English. Richard, who is not the most comfortable in situations like this furthered US/Chinese relationships by offering to take "Baba," the father in law of Steven, who speaks not a word of English, off to the dock to go night fishing. Baba's daughter, "Traci," Steven's wife, went to the dock to translate and all were delighted to have caught fish.

Now, I passed on a Kodak moment...Traci weighs all of 85 pounds and she and her father were very chilly. So, Traci went off to the dock in one of my coats and Baba went in one of Richard's fleece hoodies. Baba weighs about 100 pounds and is 5 feet tall, maybe. They were super sports and Traci really was NOT up for fishing or the chill but she knew she had to go as translator and support for her father. She was back at the house in about 20 minutes...Richard and Baba were doing just fine with "show and tell" communication techniques.
Our menu, to those who are my bestest friends and family, was a bit unusual. Thinking that Steven's kids, part American, would have eaten different foods and reassured that the family wasn't picky, I did my thing and cooked away. I made a delicious butternut squash/apple/curry soup which the whole international group pretty much didn't like. Come to find out, "She" which is how you pronounce grandma's name but I am certain, it is spelled totally different, and Baba do all of the cooking in their home where Brice, the son, and Staci, the daughter live. So, the palate is for Chinese food...and I didn't cook any of that. The adults were gracious and ate, the kids were looking longingly for something else to nibble on.
At the end of the evening, when the grandma's were ready to leave, "She" asked Staci to dance for our group to say thank you. Grandma sang, and Staci danced for us. She was very pleased at the round of applause she received and what a fun way to end the evening. Steven took the kids and grandma's home and Richard took Baba and Staci fishing, while Deb and Sharmila and Yan and I talked and laughed at how well this weirdly planned dinner went.
Not boring at all!

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