Feeling a little subdued now at the end of a long, good day. I listened to both the morning and afternoon sessions of General Conference while doing light work around the house, stopping here and there to write down some thoughts. It was time well-spent, and an atmosphere which felt like coming home. There was so much love and light in all the talks I heard—I find real intelligence so compelling, and completely irresistible. It's funny though; always after the words and music and prayers are past, I feel melancholy. It's like having to end a long-anticipated visit with family or best friends before you feel ready to say goodbye, knowing it'll be a long time before you're together again. I'm glad there's one more day of this conference. It's a beautiful way to enter into the changing season and get ready for the chill of winter.
This evening Rob and I got together with all the Tribal locals to celebrate two birthdays: baby bro Chris, who turned 26 today, and our most excellent friend Gary of the Tiaras, whose age he won't commit to. We enjoyed a quick and rowdy multigenerational dinner—a hodgepodge of foods featuring Dinosaur Bites served with a gourmet chipotle dipping sauce from the farmers market. While we dined on this haute cuisine, a talented guest at our table graced us with a vocal performance of "A Boy Named Charlie Brown." I feel relatively sure professional jazz singers don't typically give private concerts to the chicken nuggets crowd. We were lucky.
The menfolk knotted their neckties and took their leave of us for their priesthood meeting. The wimmen and chillun hung around and made Halloween crafts, told stories, and experimented with acupressure points. Yeah, the usual. I couldn't seem to get enthused about the spook-making business, so I set to work fashioning myself a pair of black pipe cleaner horn-rimmed glasses, complete with giant googley eyes and Betty Boop lashes. Big hit with the under ten crowd. Next, my niece D. and I worked together on a pair of diminutive yellow Devo glasses for her, also well-googlied. From haute cuisine to haute couture. We are nothing if not trendsetters in this family. (I wish I'd had my camera with me.) It was good to be with these people I love, though I never fully shook off my inward melancholy. Becca knitted away at a beautiful pair of warm house socks and wrote out her pattern for me. My niece E. and I managed to ruin a few fingers each with superglue while being ingenious. Jeanne gave me two hand-me-up sweaters and a dollar store crow which will be great for my Halloween costume. Amy made Kleenex ghosts, focusing most of her attention on a pair of cyclops lovers. My Nephew S. tonight traded in his daffy love of duck talk for a new fascination with the roar of dino-speak, and proudly wore googley eyes in the back of his head. Mum directed the blowing of eggs and the making of holiday garlands. My namesake niece wandered around being adorable and opening and closing doors. The elderly ladies sat together at the opposite end of the room and enjoyed some lively senior commiseration. (I wish I'd had my recorder with me.) I had a hard time staying awake till the guys arrived, just after 8:00. Not enough good sleep recently; there have been people trying to kill me for several nights in a row in my dreams, no joke.
When the fellas showed up, we all ate again(!), sung birthday songs (sans jazz soloist but not without some attempts at show biz), presented cake and ice cream and cheesecake and gifts, and enjoyed our collective sugar rush. The night slipped away and then suddenly the baby was squawking and it was time for the travelers to head north, so our party broke up, and the day was done.
I really ought to mention here that early today I pulled out a great chocolate cake recipe shared with me last year by Azúcar, and it was divine. 'Course, I owned it with the addition of BLACK MENNONITE COCOA which I bought in New York this summer. I've never seen a black cake before that wasn't burnt, and oh, it was lovely. Thank you, Azúcar. Thank you, Mennonites. Layers of the blackest chocolate you've ever seen filled and glazed with plum, peach, and raspberry sauce. Oh, ho ho ho!
I'm wondering now if I'll ever get to sleep tonight, after that delicious dose of pitch-black caffeine. This evening, when I was making my glasses, I told the kids they would enable me to appear wide awake at all times—say, in boring meetings, or classes—when really, I was enjoying a secret nap. They approved of that option. I'm afraid tonight I won't need to wear any special specs; my own googley eyes may not shut for several more hours. That's just the way chocolate and I get along.
I hope you'll tune into General Conference with me tomorrow. Doesn't matter whether you're LDS or not; I feel sure there's plenty you could find to appreciate—comfort, counsel, courage—a rare uplift. I hope you'll take some time to listen and feel and then meditate on what it is you want to do next to make your life a little better. That's what I'll be working on tomorrow.