I am safely esconced back in my little home with G, after a delightful visit with my pals.
At one point, the three of us were in the car, and I suddenly exclaimed "Where are we?" Outside the windows was a large bridge, which we were already on, and water all around.
"This would be Long Island Sound," Marc explained.
"Wooooowwww," I said. Jess Laughed.
"Actually, this is the Great South Bay," Marc specified.
"And that up there," Jess said, pointing ahead, "would be Fire Island."
I just gasped and grinned and gawked. I don't see much beach, and the beaches I've seen in New York, well, not so nice. This place was beautiful. We didn't actually get onto the beach yesterday - it was pretty chilly - but we did take a nice stroll through the sand dunes, and met some deerlings (see Jess's photos). The air was amazingly clean, and clear. Driving back to their place, I watched the sun set, slowly, over the course of about 1/2 hour. I can't remember the last time I've actually watched a sun set. It was huge and bright, and everything turned golden.
Generally I don't think of Long Island as the Country. Heck, I live near some state parks, mountains, vineyards, a horseback riding stable, etc. It doesn't feel like country here. But I was able to do something in Long Island with the guys that I don't really get to do much: Relax. As in puddle on the couch, no need for idle babbling, chillin' out relax.
Marc describes his cooking, and all I can say is YUM. Last night we never actually made it to the sitting down with plates. The minute everything was cooked, we gobbled it up in the kitchen! I remarked that it felt like the Fourth of July. His "Smores Pudding" was so decadent I had to eat it in installments!
I recalled fondly my days in my little one-bedroom in Astoria back in 2001, when I had both time to cook and great places to buy ingredients. I usually have one or the other, but in Astoria, I had both. Sigh. I vowed to myself that once I get out of school, I'll cook again. And well.
Jess's music collection is all-encompassing. We listened to a lot of fun old tunes while dinner was being prepared, and at one point those guys had me singing Barbra Streisand tunes in the kitchen. Where I come from, among my peer group, it wasn't exactly cool to be a Streisand fan. Madonna, Cyndi, and Souxie and the Banshees were my generation. So when I was in high school, and my teachers wanted me to sing Streisand covers in swing choir, well, it didn't do much to enhance my social reputation. I was careful though. Evergreen got me a lot of attention, and by 1987, it was old enough that most of my peers didn't know where the song came from. "Woman in Love" was always one of my favorites to sing... but alas, that was a Streisand Anthem, and reeked of the disco era. A shame... Jess can now attest to what I can do with that music. Ah, Babs. Us gals with big noses have a rough time.
This morning, I waxed sentimental over the "omeletes" my grandmother and I used to make when I was growing up, while Marc and I emptied the dishwasher of last night's dishes. Grandma would make homefried potatoes with onions for dinner quite often, and the next morning, she would reheat the leftovers in the skillet, crack eggs over them, and call that an omelete. For years I didn't know that was actually a frittata. After I moved to New York, I noticed in diners that omeletes with potatoes in them were called "peasant omeletes." "That's very Italian," my mom would say, nodding matter-of-factly.
So of course, Marc made us fritattas with smoked turkey, bacon, and broccoli, with some magic spice blend that set everything dancing on the plate. Grandma would have loved it. What was in that spice blend - Chives, garlic, green peppers, shallots... must pick up some of that. (I get more cooking tips from that guy. The last time I was there, it was the Bloody Mary mix that I had to have.)
I spent a lot of time rolling on the floor with the dogs, Mandy, Bernice and Dodger. Today is the Chinese New Year, the year of the dog. All that puppy love just warmed me inside and out. I'm slightly allergic to dogs, so I did a lot of hand-washing, and I was a bit stuffy today, but it was worth it. And especially amusing to see the look on Marge's face when I got home. She yowled and sniffed and turned her back on me, sauntering disgustedly away. How could you, she seemed to say. Aw, Margie, they were just so loving. And it's not like you roll around on the floor with me and lick my face. How could I resist?
I confessed to my hosts that I had almost backed out on the visit a couple of times. Two weeks of 17-hour days, three exams, and an upcoming final had me feeling overwhelmed. I stubbornly insisted that I take this day just for myself, and I'm so glad I did. I have a rough time doing things just for me, and dammit, I wanted to see my friends. Usually I only see people at drink-ups, and frankly, it was so refreshing to just sit around, eat, sing, snuggle the puppies, watch a movie, even lounge quietly for a few hours, not worrying about what to do for the next few hours. A little peace and quiet and fellowship, and I'm ready for Monday.