tc at 930.... plus the hours before and the house after

saturday night the wife and I planned for the boys to have a sleep over at my mother's
the sleep over allowed for a later night than a teenage babysitter could provide
later.... but not much later
as we are old and married with an early bedtime and standard early mornings
so late nights are not as late as late nights once were

lisa and I were invited as guests of a friend to attend the theivery show at the nine thirty club
we were psyched to get on the list as this event sold out fast to an email warning
tickets sold out faster than we could have nailed down a definite babysitter for any single night
so when rob and vida offered to get us on the list... we took it

the day involved a fair amount of pre-Christmas madness
there were all sorts of christmas packages being wrapped
toys being hidden as boys crossed through the house
all the while trying to entertain the boys
which means feeding them and keeping them from getting hurt

while trying to get ready for hosting christmas eve at our house the next night
this involving getting the ingredients for Paealla
Paella being a dish that is becoming somewhat of a new years tradition at our house
as this is the third or fourth year in a row that I have cooked it and served it

seeing the dinner party start time arriving fast
I realized that I needed to snatch my window of opportunity
wanted to ride the bike
wanted to get some more time in the warm not quite wintery december day
needed to go shopping
so I got onto my Surly Karate Monkey with my oversized Camelbak on my back and over spun things across town to the Eastern Market

I love the Eastern Market
years ago I worked at a bicycle on 7th Street at Eastern Market
and well... that section of town became part of me
the various places to eat and all the things to purchase; food, flowers, whatever

the Market itself has its fan tastic food from the Market Lunch
but I was not their for a Crab Cake sandwich platter... as much as I would love that with cole slaw and french fries or maybe the green beans if they are not alread eighty sixed
nor was I anywhere there early enough for french toast on french bread or the best blue berry pancakes in the city
no... I was not there for a sub or a salad or even a cheap hot dog that is ready to be eaten
I was their to purchase what I needed to make Paella to serve six adults and six small children
although the thought of a Prego sub was making me salavate

one stop shopping is my way of thinking
christmas can not always happen that way... but once stop shopping must be part of it

The Market covered 90 percent of what I needed in the best possible form

the sausage selection can not be beat anywhere in the city...
no place are there as many sausage varieties each and every option awesome
there are a set of brothers
each with their own meat counter
I have always bought from one
never compared the selection with the other
considered buying a chicken curry sub while ordering my sausages
but managed to stay focused

went from the sausages past the vegetables and the poultry to stay on the hard to find vitals as they rolled through my head
at the seafood market at the market lunch I got clams and mussels
then had a hard time deciding between small and massive scallops
or the various sizes of shrimp
ended up getting medium shrimp and the massive scallops
there were no small shrimp
they lacked the smal tube of lobster meat
the packet of lobster tail was seventy five bucks
so I went with the lobster tails

for looks the lobster tails would work well
as the clams and mussels would still be in their shells
while I would clean all but the tails off the shirmp
the lobster does not get shelled until after it is cooked

with my backpack filling fast
and starting to get heavy I kept speed
onto poultry where I got half a dozen or so drumsticks
as I thought that the drum stick would not only be more pleasing to the eye
but also more pleasing to the hands of the small children and my often hungry brother

then vegetables
with about ninty percent of my hundred dollar bill spent I ate the free banana given to me as I exited the open market

the exterior had a great urban market feel
there was a friendliness of christmas floating about
trees and wreaths were still being sold
people were gathering goods for the parties they were planning
and of course
gifts were being purchased

there was no time for me to meander through the various tables of the Eastern Market fenced in section weekend market
sure there is handmade jewelry
beautiful photos and paintings of the city and of the world
yes there is all sorts of stuff
but my gift shopping was already done

so I went down the block to visit my old friend from Woven History
Mehmet is everybody's friend
but I feel as if we are like brothers
okay... maybe cousins
as I want to reserve the bond of brothers for when I really mean it
in any way... we are like family

although he is a few years older
he met and married his second wife at the same time I was dating and moving into marriage with mine
then we each had children around the same time
I watched his business grow
he watched as I moved through a series of jobs

that visit was also short
no shopping for rugs
just time for a hug and some quick catching up
his wife was there... she is pregnant with his third
the classic scenario of a ladies man having all daughters
not sure if a classic family name/family business thing had him yearning for a son

with an exchange of holiday wishes I was back on the bike
feeling a tad less spry with a backpack heavily loaded down with a hundred dollars of food and ice to keep it cool

curbs and stairs were avoided
so were cars

the streets were almost vacant for stretches
but there was no shortage of grinches on the road
I got some serious bah humbug from from buggers
as I went past malcom x park I heard the sound of skateboarders in the fountain
the sun was dropping fast but I still had some time before my next task
pulled out the camera to snap some shots in the low light setting
shit.. the only thing worse is BATTERY FAILURE
sure I could erase some shots... but did not want to go through that

chatted with the skaters as they took turns on the very low, short, tight transitions of the now drained and dry fountain
left with a reminder to them about the setting sun and the potential for sketch
they agreed then one of them passed of the link to his photo blog, cornphoto.blogspot
not to be confused with cornbread... a cycling blog I tune into from time to time

arrived home with plenty of time for a few games of Mario 64 with the boys
with bags packed for an overnight I loaded the little monkeys into the toaster and drove the other direction across town

the boys were excited for christmas and for the sleep over with grandma
grantman was crying with objection as he wanted his mommy
but, he is a rational little grantman and soon stopped his tears

after dropping off the boys with their backpacks full of too brushes and pajamas I headed home to prepare for anight out on the town
other than the show at the nine thirty club I was not sure what we had intended for all this free time

there was no hurry to get dressed as there was no reservation for any fancy place to eat
we just enjoyed the quite house and agreed to stop at someplace on the drive down to the show

once dressed we headed down towards the show
unsure where to eat we parked on U Street a few blocks from the club
headed down to John Solomon's place, Solly's
he was not there and the kitched was closed so we headed down the block
having our short plan colapse we once again needed a place to eat
chinese carry out carried back to the bar seemed like our top option until lisa proposed we try Ohhhs and Ahhhhs a Soul Food joint.... the place where the bartender had said Solly was grabbing some carry out

Ohhhs and Ahhhhhs delivered some serious Ohhhhs and some serious Ahhhhs
the food was epic
my blackened catfish, green beans, yams and sampling of my wife's food filled me fast
too much food for a couple headed out to go dancing
but I could not contain myself
I as per usual... am a member of the clean plate club

not sure of the band's start time we headed over to the show

we were early which is to be expected of geeky parents
but it was good to get a drink and settle in
we got to move about before the crowds came in
when the opening act came on I was shockingly stoked
at times the opening act can be a yawn
especially if you are a geeky parent
but not this time
as the opening act was frederico aubele
one of the several other acts on the esl label
frederico is on the downstairs cd player rotation along with nicola conte and fort knox five
it is good to find music that the father, mother, and children can all agree upon

frederico and his band put on an amazing show
the performance was full of energy

there was a healthy gap of time between the opening act and the main act
which allowed for some more looping about
by this time the downstairs was packed
a wall of people
my height left this as little issue to me
while lisa was feeling a little pinned in

we moved about the club settling in at various perspectives for various parts of the show
some spots gave better views of the belly dancer
good to see the belly and not just the face when watching a belly dancer
some areas were more about the awesome ambient light show in the background
while all spots allowed me to focus on my friend rob as he moved to the music
switching between guitar and sitar depending upon the song
he was having a great night
it was clear that the whole band was really having a good night
there was an awesome energy as the band played four nights in their hometown to so many people that are more than fans
so many of these people are friends

there was no after party for the geeky parents
it was a moment's consideration
but sleep sounded like more fun

the music of theivery was fantastic
the show itself was a blast
it was good to get out and dance even if the dance steps were only a little more than a sway or a bob
the arena was just too packed for the crowd to get as wild as the music was pushing for

got home to a house without children
had the pleasure of sleeping late... real late
not 8:30 or 9 late
I think I may have slept to 9:30

woke up and grabbed my coffee
tried to get focused on prepping for the party
the house was without kids so we wrapped the last presents and put stuff away to make room for guests

after picking up the kids from my moms I met up with a friend from high school
his mother's house is not far from my mother's apartment which makes for convenient fun
his boys are roughly the same age as my boys

called on my approach
his mother told me he was at the elementary school down the road with his boys
that was perfect
as we had intended on some frisbee golf as the boys played
to keep the boys entertained I arrived with four light sabers and two other telescoping swords with lights and sounds

sure enough...
the boys jumped right into the fun... and the mud
it was all fine
as the dad's were focused on some heated competition
things started off as an ultimate disc versus the gold disc competiton
at first things were being sold as a Casperoff versus the computer thing
but the tone mellowed after we each shanked a few shots

it was good to catch up
the kids played
we got to talk bikes
I had the pleasure of riding his brompton
grantman and dean loved the kid's seat
sure we broke the no helmet no bike rule
but... there are exceptions

that was my christmas eve day

once back from the frisbee golf olympics I returned home with grant napping
dean was excited to play with some of the preChristmas christmas presents he had already opened
grant was transfered from the car seat to mommy bed
I went ahead and started to prep for dinner

lots of vegetables to be sliced
clams and mussels to be cleaned
shrimp to be shelled

started the cooking process
my wife went with my kids and my mom to church
my brother dropped off his wife and kids at mass
then came over and joined me as I cooked
I made a fire in the brass fire pit on the wooded deck
stepping inside periodically to work the two pans of Paella.... one with yellow rice the other with saffron rice... but this saffron and the same ingredients... just different rices

the fire entertained us as we caught up
the family arrived and the kids ran out back
the kids tried to get me to chase and play with them
but I can not chase and play and cook at the same time
okay... I can chase, play, and cook at the same time
but that would prevent me from having a chance to relax with the adults

the kids played a bit out back then swarmed inside

the six young cousins mobbed the lionel train
which had me display how easy and quick the track can be disassembled

the kids were too wild for structured play

in fact...
the kids were almost too energized to eat
well... my boys ate, but not as much as the like to eat
there was too much focus on the young minds for the cousins and the presents

on a pass through the kitchen dean saw the mussels and wanted to sample one
he got to eat a number of mussels and a couple of clams
the sausage may have had too much spice for some of the kids and maybe some of the adults
the four lobster tails were enough to give all the adults a taste

(comercial for Garden State on IFC just aired)

this is too long to proof
want to veg

managed to take a nap this evening after dinner while the boys watched Power Rangers Mystic force
it was a crazy day with a great great energy
but it was exhausting