Monday, January 8, 2007

In the Kitchen

I'm recovering from holding our annual Twelfth Night party. It is the last party of the holiday season among our friends. This year it actually fell on January 6, which is the Feast of the Epiphany--the day the Magi arrived to see the Christ Child. Today, with a 48 hour limit on hospital stays, Mary and Joseph would have been long gone from the manger. Most years, we hold the party the Saturday after New Year's Day, unless it is simply too close (January 2, for example) to contemplate. The party is a relief for most of our friends because it means the party season is finally over.

I spent a good chunk of Saturday night in the kitchen, because clean-up of the house, as usual, went up til the last minute. For a change, the place was clean and some food was even out, and the drinks were all chilled, before the 7 p.m. start time. But my husband was out making a last minute run for party plates and napkins when the first guests arrived. Mercifully, they came early to make sure that they could lend a hand getting stuff out. Our friends are familiar with the chaos preceeding all of our parties.

I am incredibly happy we got a new range just in time for Thanksgiving, because the handle on the door of the wall oven gave up as I was about to load it with a tray of finger food for the party. There's now a screw rolling loose in the door and it isn't sealing properly. Fortunately, the new oven is much larger and I was able to do all of my hot appetizers and the cookies I didn't get around to baking until about 8:30 that night done. I did forget about the mini-pizzas, but my son is happily heating them up for snacks.

The kitchen was far less crowded than the other rooms, so I enjoyed having people come in to talk to me while I worked. I had a nice long visit with my former department head, who is now the vice president of administrative services at Crafton Hills College. And another friend who works for Conde Nast publishing and is a fabulous cook lent a hand with rolling Mexican wedding cakes in powdered sugar so I coud get them out to the guests.

I finally went looking for a chair around 10, and found it in a room with the always entertaining Michael Cassutt. Michael's written about who's who in space and is a fine novelist and television writer. He would have been right at home at the Algonquin Round Table, and I always try to sit next to him at any dinner we're both attending. He is wickedly funny, and he looks a lot like young Robert Kennedy. Larry and Fuzzy Niven were also in the room and Michael was able to bring Larry into the conversation by talking about the old editor of Galaxy Magazine.

About mid-night, most of the folks in the room decided to head home, so I went into the living room where about a half-dozen more guests were still talking with my husband. Most of them are familiar enough with my m.o. to know that even if I fell asleep on the couch, they were welcome to stay and carry on, which they did for about another half hour.

About 51 people actually showed up for the party this year, not the largest number we've crammed into our less than 1300 square foot house. We always hope that it will actually be warm enough for people to sit out on the patio when we hold the party, but it wasn't this year. The worst was two years ago when it poured outside and we had a huge attendance because Jerry Robinson, a famous comic book aritst, came and Harlan Ellison came (it is so hard to get him to come down from the mountain) because he was dying to meet Jerry. D.C. Fontana and David Gerrold were both there as well, so it was an A-list of original Trek writers in our living room.

A sign of creeping age is that I could barely get out of bed on Sunday, not even to go and check on the Arabian prince. I was totally drained. My husband noted that the same thing had happened on the day after Thanksgiving, although we had to get down to the Airport Marriott for panels we were on at the Los Angeles Science Fiction Convention.

Our next big party will be in the summer, and that's outdoors, so I'm not trying to invent a black hole for storage. We host a smaller group for the Oscars, but I do that as a pot luck, so I don't spend the night in the kitchen. The weekly Amazing Race gathering is only four friends plus us, so it doesn't matter how bad the rest of the house looks!

I'd go back to sleep now, but I've got to get some work done. Melinda Snodgrass, who bred the Arabian prince, is on her way in from New Mexico and we'll do dinner tonight. She's the A-list of Star Trek Next Gen writers all by herself.

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