14 August, 2006

a giraffe in your dining room

And why not? Have a giraffe in your dining room, I mean? This, along with fresh chicken salad and gazpacho, and irreplaceable dinner conversation, is the reason to visit our beloved friends Cynthia and Jeanne in Orange, New Jersey. I have come to terms with the hedgehogs, spiders, lobsters, koi fish, foxes, rabbits and ponies that adorn the plate rack in their library, Steiff animals all complete with the little gold buttons in their ears. I myself had a fair collection as a child. But even I was taken aback by Clarissa, living in their dining room. And yet why not?

We had our usual perfect visit, missing only John. I think when you get known as a person who likes to cook, fewer and fewer people cook for you. But Jeanne, better known as Jeannemommy since Avery thus christened her probably eight years ago, always feeds me. And nothing ever tastes as good as what she makes, no matter what it is. In this case it was perfectly roasted chicken breast, pulled apart and tossed with pineapple, endive, celery, white grapes and a bit of mayonnaise. Simply divine. And this after we had dragged her on practically the hottest day of the year, to find riding clothes for Avery, in a charming tack shop where the owner of the barn actually knew crazy Joey, Avery's trainer. His fame, or insanity, precedes him.

After dinner we were joined by Cynthia's niece Alexandra, who I met when she was Avery's age and is now, frighteningly, a post-graduate intern at Simon and Schuster in the city. To think the little sprout, Irish as they come, taught me to sing "Over in Killarney" to try to quiet newborn Avery, closeting us in the library during a dinner party. "It's always comforted me," I remember her saying, and now not a bedtime in Avery's life has gone by without its being sung.

After our lovely visit to them, we were off again back to Connecticut, this time to my sister's house to see my whole family! Wonderful to be together, but honestly, we could be anywhere and we would all still be engaged in that popular eternal game: "Watch Baby Jane"! It really doesn't matter where we are, or who's around the table or the room. Mostly we all try to get her to say cookie ("diddle liddle liddle") or stroller ("doodle loodle loodle") or squirrel ("durdle lurdle lurdle"), or show us her happy feet, or say "What does Daddy do when he sees a bug?" and see her clap her little fat hands together, squealing "Daddeeee!" "Mommy" is "minamalina" or some such thing. Dad was busy helping Joel do something involving wet concrete in the garage, and Mother was enjoying being called "No----na" by Jane at the top of her lungs. Everyone took time to appreciate Avery's report card from QCPS and her Latin cup, then we were back to asking Jane how does a sneeze sound.

More updates in a bit, but right now Avery are off on our typical summertime ritual: the library and the POOL! It's 80 and sunny, what could be better.

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