Yesterday we went down to San Martin (about 75 miles away) for Robby (my BIL)'s party to celebrate his graduation from college. Bob & Bev (Shannon's mom & step-dad, and Robby's parents) just recently bought a house and moved to San Martin (after living in San Jose for pretty much ever), so this was our first time getting to see their new house and neighborhood. What a change! Some of the people there have huge houses and/or huge yards/stables/corrals/barns/etc. The hills roll all around, golden brown and dotted with dark green scrub brush. There are horses milling here and there beside the agricultural fields. We were definitely not in Kansas anymore. I would go absolutely batshit insane living in the middle of nowhere like that, but Bob & Bev seem really happy about the move.
We caught a ride both ways with relatives of different types, of course, since we're non-drivers and BART doesn't go anywhere near. It was a little unfamiliar to spend so much time in a car!
The party itself was nice. It was the usual Wiedlin contingent (Bob's family) and Martinez contingent (Shannon's brother Jason's wife's family), plus a few of Robby's friends from school: maybe 20-25 people in all. The house had more than enough room to hold everyone comfortably, as people sat out on chairs in the yard (under a very nice pavilion), in the gigantic 3-car garage (where a ping pong table led to an extended "Ping Pong Armageddon" tournament that involved posted sign-ups and heats and semi-finals and whatnot, with competitors ranging in age from around 7 to around 50), not to mention in the dining room and the family room and the living room. They have two ovens, three refrigerators (though I was told one of the fridges might be a freezer, though it was shaped like a traditional refrigerator), and three fireplaces. The master bedroom is literally about three times the size of our bedroom, if not more, with a sleeping area and a sitting area, and most of the rooms have wide french doors leading directly out to the backyard, letting in lots of sunlight. The yard is great for Bob & Bev's three very active dogs, and the view of the hills from the backyard is gorgeous.
So yeah, the house is pretty cool, and it's wonderful for hosting a party of 50 people or more, but it kinda requires living a million miles from anything I consider particularly interesting, not to mention the complete and utter lack of public transit. But cool house!
It was nice to see everyone again, plus meeting a few people I don't think I've met before (it's hard to keep track at these big family gatherings sometimes, when people I barely know bring boyfriends and girlfriends and such, and they don't always stay the same from one year to the next).
I had a fairly lengthy "intellectual" (*snerk*) debate with my brother-in-law's wife's sister, Lauren, about whether the Twilight series or the Hunger Games series set young girls a better/worse example. She insisted that Twilight was far better for impressionable teens; I was on the side of The Hunger Games. She raised some very valid points about rebels becoming as bad as their oppressors -- and we agree that the third HG book mostly sucked -- but I still think she's wrong. I don't think anyone can or will ever convince me that Bella Swan presents a positive role model for anyone, let alone vulnerable girls who haven't yet decided what kind of women they want to be.
When Lauren's mom joined the conversation, we snarked that we were engaged in snooty literary debate. It was pretty enjoyable, though, to be discussing/comparing the two series in depth with someone else who knows them well and thinks intelligently about the social ramifications of the messages they're sending. Definitely the most enjoyable part of the party, in my book (ha!).
Second most enjoyable part of the party: barbecue! Bob always grills a lot of food at these parties, and this time was no exception. We had grilled chicken, beef, zucchini, and eggplant, along with several salads (fruit salad, pasta salad, tabouleh, and something full of disgusting-looking olives), as well as a delicious kibbeh (Bob's family is Lebanese, and this dish is traditional at their gatherings). There were also chocolate-dipped strawberries (with fruit from a nearby farm, apparently) that were AMAZING.
On the car trip home, sitting in the back seat, I fell soundly asleep for probably almost an hour. Being social for almost 5 hours at a stretch -- and in a crowd, no less -- exhausts me.
So today I've been mostly hanging out on my own. Not entirely relaxing, but getting things done around the house. I'm thinking of starting a new decoupage project to prettify my new full-length mirror (which Shannon kindly carried home from the hardware store for me today in the blazing heat). I have to decide exactly what to do with it, though. Maybe stripes of some sort. I've been on a stripe kick for months now.
And now I think I'll kick back for 20 minutes until Shannon and I get together to read a chapter of our latest Harry Dresden novel. What a treat after suffering through John Crowley's dreadful Ægypt, which was a terrible disappointment after the other books of his that I've read.