Things you've missed (a.k.a. things I forgot to tell you about):
In mid January Aaron and I went up into the mountains with a bunch of pals for Josh's birthday. Emil's family cabin. While I haven't seen snow all winter out here, there was of course snow on the mountain. The guys had shoveled it before we arrived but it was still slippery, which made carrying our things inside tricky. I forgot how difficult walking in snow was when you cannot feel your feet.
Inside the cabin it was warm and cozy despite the sole source of heat being the small hearth along the far wall. Everyone who had gotten there ahead of us was seated around the central table eating, drinking, and being social. We were guided to the back balcony, overlooking a scenic river we could not see in the dark, where Emil and Josh had shoveled the snow into shelves which held and served as cooling for all the weekend beverages -- from beer to soda.
Introductions were made where necessary and good times were had.
However, that night the fire went out while everyone slept. This made staying asleep difficult and waking up in the morning bone-chilling. It was re-lit soon enough and coffee was served to help warm and wake us all. Josh wasn't feeling well, but it didn't dampen the mood any. He was a champ about it. We created characters for a Deadlands campaign and sipped Mimosas. Outside the sun shone off the river, casting light at the snowy banks from all angles. It was beautiful. I spotted a giant pine cone off beside the cabin a ways and Aaron made it his mission to wade through thigh-deep snow to retrieve it for me. Seriously, it's like the size of a human head. I've never seen pine cones of that size living back east.
At noon Aaron, Sean, and Josh headed down the mountain to the market to pick up ingredients for dinner. The rest of us played video games and hung out. When they returned, we started the campaign while Aaron began working his magic in the kitchen. Josh was feeling worse, but sat through a few rounds anyway before going to lay down. By dinner time he'd gotten so bad that we had to drive him home, fearing his sudden illness may be Altitude Sickness.
We did our best to continue to have a good time, knowing Josh wouldn't want to be the reason everyone's week was spoiled. It was sad, however, that Josh would be so sick on his birthday and miss out on the dinner made just for him at the cabin. Aaron's famous The Meat. We immediately decided to save him a generous portion, and bring it down the mountain to him when we left.
That night, with periodic attention, the fire stayed alive and we weren't left shivering beneath our blankets. Sunday morning Aaron made everyone breakfast, after hearing horror stories about the other guy who cooked breakfast last time serving everyone raw French Toast. We then had some more geeky fun before having to head out at noon. While everyone else was staying the duration of the week, Aaron, Sean, and I had to be back after the weekend for school and work, respectively.
Once down the mountain we stopped to deliver some of the previously mentioned meal to Josh, who it was specially prepared for. He was still sick, but seemed in better spirits about it. Especially when we showed up regardless of his plague to make sure he got some of his own birthday dinner. We stayed and kept him company for just a bit, then we decided to go for lunch at The Black Bear Diner. There, Aaron noticed I had spots on my tongue and I admitted to having a little scratch in my throat, but it seemed like nothing.
Or so we thought.
By that evening, I was sick too. By Monday morning, so was everyone else. Ten people went up that mountain. On Day one, Josh got sick. On day two, I got sick. On day three, everyone else. Given that none of us had any previous contact beforehand, that meant it was some crazy infection that gestated for less than twenty-four hours. To make matters worse, it kept everyone sick for over two weeks. Everything was involved. Stomach upset, sore throat, runny nose, stuffy nose, fever, cough, and headache. As if every illness we've all ever had had combined into some super mutant virus hell bent on murdering us all slowly.
We were sick for so long, I forgot what it felt like to not be sick. Once I had finally reached that point, the virus released its death grip on my body and I recovered.
Aaron's mom, Eileen, came to visit us after we finally got better. She hadn't seen our new place yet and wanted to bring me a possible wedding dress which had been passed down to her. Of course I can't say for sure whether I'll wear it or not, because Aaron isn't allowed to know. Tradition and all.
Eileen is always a joy to be around. She and I get along famously, which is nice. We took her out to dinner at The Elephant Bar. The next day we took a trip to Old Town, down by the river. We ate lunch at Fat City, the place we discovered last time we were in Old Town with my aunt and uncle. Good food, good atmosphere. Later on, after returning home, we watched Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and stuffed ourselves with gourmet candy. It was delightfully entertaining. Before she headed out the next afternoon, Aaron made us pancakes with maple syrup and sweet Sumatra coffee. Saying goodbye to her is hard, like saying goodbye to my own mother. Though I guess that makes sense, since she'll soon be my mother-in-law.
Valentine's Day was spectacular. Aaron made fillet Mignon with mashed potatoes, caramelized onions, and served it all with a bottle of port. For dessert we had chocolate fondue which is both fun and delicious. I've never had a good steak, but this was so tender and moist I think I could have eaten it forever. Every day for the rest of time.
Though it took him an age to find a florist who had them, he also brought me a bouquet of tulips! I imagine most florists carry carnations and roses for Valentine's Day, since those are the generic picks guys get for their girls -- but I prefer tulips and he knows that. Which is sweet.
For him, I got a pound and a half of toffee in a gold tin, because he really enjoys a good piece of toffee. Half is traditional English toffee and the other half is toffee smothered in milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate. I had it imported all the way from the family who makes it out east. Which sounds weird to me, because I've always lived in the east.
Since my mother's husband is rather bad at gift-giving (e.g. he gave her a chocolate fish), we bought her a little barrel cactus and had it shipped out her way. Her favorite color is green. Cacti are green and grow all over California. So I figured buying her something green that could also remind her of me would be nice. It caught her totally by surprise and made her day. Exactly what we were hoping it'd do.
Lately we've been having gatherings every other weekend in our apartment, where all of our friends who live nearby come and hang out for food, drinks, company and gaming. It's funtastic. Aaron prepares all the meals, though everyone chips in monetarily for supplies. Friday night we usually drink and play video games or board games. Saturday afternoon we run a Gothic campaign. Saturday evening we either play more video games or watch Netflix. Our long distance friends are naturally invited to these gatherings as well, just for future reference! Even if you don't like tabletop games, board games, and/or video games, you'd probably still have a great time. However if you're our friend, chances are you enjoy at least one of the many activities we partake in.
And now I do believe you're all caught up!