first day of Hanukkah, 2002
Friday, November 29 2002
As often happens when Gretchen visits her folks, today Gretchen's father took us to Dædalus Books in Columbia, Maryland, and we stocked up on a strange cornucopia of cheap books at wholesale prices. My best find of the day was a comprehensive guide to house building. Gretchen and her father tend to spend more time at Dædalus Books than anyone else in their contingent would prefer to spend, but I was so fascinated with thumbing through and reading this book that I lost all track of time. With us also was Jen's father, who spent most of the time reading from some nonfiction book about organized sports.
Crossing the parking lot both from and to Gretchen's father's car, I couldn't help but again be struck by how dismal Columbia is. Every neighborhood that's not residential looks like a squat industrial park. I actually saw a church in Columbia that looked like a factory. If you can find the Methodist Creator there, you can find Him anywhere. That, perhaps, is the point.
After that we had a light lunch at the Chinese restaurant with all the aquariums. The place appeared to be doing brisk business with people already weary of turkey sandwiches.
This evening Gretchen's folks played host for another medium-sized dinner party, most of them being the same people that they took out for Thanksgiving (but minus that bratty chocolativorous kid and his juicer-obsessed parents). The meal took place at their house and was in celebration of the first day of Hanukkah, which comes early this year. It featured all the usual incomprehensible Hebrew mumbo jumbo and the lighting of a candle on the menorah. The featured food was chicken drum sticks, though Gretchen's mother had also prepared Gretchen a tofu dish inappropriately flavored with some tropical fruit like mango. [I had a taste of it as a leftover on Saturday and its flavor was so completely wrong that it actually left me with a lingering feeling of illness.]
Later in the evening we all sat around in the living room exchanging gifts and singing Hanukkah songs. The most useful of our gifts was a pair of fifty dollar gift cards for Lowes, courtesy of Gretchen's brother Brian and his wife Jen.
One of the songs we sang had been composed by Brian especially for this evening. It was about homemade dredles and featured a few lines for everyone present (including the dogs) mentioning some substance peculiar to that person from which the fictional dredles had purportedly been made. For example, my dredle was said to have been made out of diodes in honor of my geeky technical interests.
In other business, I worked late into the evening trying to network Gretchen's parents' computers using a Linksys router and several lengths of professionally-installed Cat-5 cable. It proved to be yet another one of those frustrating time-devouring computer-centered evenings, the result of some mysterious defect in the router.
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