Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

Our Block’s Progressive Party

A few of us talked about it last month. Five people met ten days ago and figured out the host houses and their part of the meal. Using Evite, people responded if they were coming and what kind of food they would be contributing on Sunday.

Fourth Street in Washington, D.C.’s Shaw and Truxton Circle neighborhood is part of Old City II. The group of twenty four houses on one side of the street dates from the early 1870s and are a number of small houses, ranging from 1200 to 1500 sq. feet on two to three floors. The other side has bigger houses of three stories, erected near the beginning of the last century.

Our house would be the second stop: appetizers. We saw who planned on bringing appetizers from a glance at the list. My husband made stuffed mushrooms and stuffed grape leaves. I waited until the last minute to grill chicken sausages so that they would be as fresh and hot as possible. Starting at 2 o’clock people came from around the street to drop off their appetizers. We laid them on our circular dining table.

Washington had ice and a little snow the evening before. We’d gotten rid of most of it but a chill remained. At 4 in the afternoon, the party started up the street in one of the larger of the smaller houses. The open floor plan enabled guests to stand around in the living room and dining room. Drinks and cocktails sat on a long table in the dining room. Two of the children made name tags for the guests as they walked in. Around 35 people enjoyed their drinks and conversations. I found our Dutch host’s art very interesting. She made one photo collage of a bull licking his private parts in different colors that gave me a smile. I asked where her cats were and discovered she put them in a room upstairs because the big one might have wanted to lay in the middle of the party.

I left early to get to my house and finalize preparations. Then as the appointed time to arrive past I grew nervous. Our cat Lila, a 16-year-old all-black domestic short hair, gave me a few meows as if anticipating something. My husband came home first and told me to relax. The first crew came in and I took their coats upstairs. Our cat remained downstairs to the joy of an 18 month old girl who couldn’t wait to pet her.

As more and more people came we piled the coats on the upstairs bed. I announced that the AFC Championship Game was on upstairs in our office. However, almost all the people crowded around our kitchen. Downstairs is only 400 square feet so all these people somehow found a space and could communicate.

As we showed people around, highlighting our African safari pictures of a leopard in a tree and a baby hyena to some of the other children who came, Lila needed to get away. She moved outside but as it got colder I wanted her to come in. I showed the children how Lila eats shrimp out of my hand then let her try to escape.

The football game between the Patriots and Ravens came down to one final drive in the fourth quarter. I announced to people who had an interest the circumstances and all eight of us squeezed inside the office to watch the Ravens’ final drive. One of the our good neighbors announced that the partiers intended to move across the street for the dinner. I said fine, thanks we’re watching the game. She laughed. We watched until the missed field goal.

Before I left I looked for Lila. As owners know, when the cat does not want to be found, you will struggle to find her. I made sure that she was not outside the house and went across the street to enjoy the dinner. The family had done a ton of the organizing of the event.

The feast included three sets of chicken, vegetarian dishes, assorted other specialties. The family dog waited under the table. Good, quiet but hopeful.  The walls contained a nice collage of family photographs. While some people watched football and mingled in the kitchen, groups clustered all around the sofa, series of chairs near the dining table and the hallway. I discussed trips, my books, people told me about their relationships, children, interests.

On the way to desert and coffee back across the street and down to the end of the block, I checked in on our cat. Lila felt relaxed and ate from her bowl. The newlywed hosts for the last stage have a house close to ours in size. Their settee proved comfortable for many on this last leg. The central table near the kitchen counter bar area held towers of cupcakes, a cheery cobbler, ice cream, chocolate pudding and chocolate chip cookies. Urns with drinks filled most of the counter space. Many of us clustered around the table and kitchen finishing conversations, or adding new elements, or maybe trying to meet someone new until groups went off home one by one.

The Religion Thing

Go see the new play at the Theater J. The Jewish Community Center in Washington, DC has created a festival of new local plays to be performed by local actors. A great idea in such a rich theater city as Washington.

The Religion Thing opens things up this month. The performances were uniformly very good. The playwright said she wanted to have the play think about it on their way home. The play spurred a good discussion in the theater and I’m sure she succeeded in her goal. It made you wonder what sits in our subconsciousness that may be very important to us.