Sunday, February 18, 2007

Year of the Pig

Today is Chinese New Year--Gung Hay Fat Choy! We celebrated by joining Mary, Paul, Joy and their extended families for dim sum at Pearl in Rancho Bernardo. The place was so big and so crowded it reminded me of dining at the White Swan in Guangzhou. All the little girls in Chinese silk dresses added to the impression. But the Lion Dancers accompanied by drums and gongs reminded me of Hong Kong, as the New Year's celebration was in full swing when we arrived last year. Watching the Lion Dancers brings luck for the new year, and even better luck if you "feed" the lions some red envelopes filled with money. Mary very kindly provided Jarrah with an envelope for these lions, and Paul helped her give it to them. It was all very exciting and very loud.

When we finally got settled at our table with the Lazy Susan ("This is a Lazy Susan!" I told Jarrah, spinning it around and immediately regretting offering up an idiom that is impossible to translate and sounds offensive to boot) I realized, with more than a little guilt, that I apparently don't LIKE dim sum. For one thing, I don't eat shrimp or pork, and for another I am afraid of mystery buns filled with gelatinous paste of undetermined origin. We ended up ordering some noodles before I fainted right into my empty plate. Jarrah liked dim sum, however, and even yummed up her sesame mung bean ball and an egg custard that she thought was a cupcake.

Still, it was a lovely afternoon, and I had the opportunity once again to appreciate how warmly we are always welcomed by Mary and Pauls' families. The New Year is a good time to give thanks for that.

And speaking of giving thanks, I had a really amazing time yesterday enjoying my birthday present from Synthia, whom I have known for nearly 23 years. When I unwrapped her gift a few months ago, I was confused: two balls of really nice yarn and some long wooden sticks. Um, thanks! But then I opened the card, and out fell the schedule for The Grove, a fabulous yarn/bookshop that offers all kinds of knitting events, including a "Beginner's Scarf Class" in two parts. I was moved to tears when she explained that she wanted to give me something that would involve us spending time together. With three kids between us, not to mention dozens of activities because we are both the fill-up-the-calendar type, I don't see enough of her these days, and the opportunity to learn something I've always wanted to learn while spending two consecutive Saturdays hanging out could not have been more thoughtful.

So, the big day was finally here, and we were off to the Grove with our chic bamboo needles and all our hopes, fears and dreams of becoming one of those nonchalant, super-groovy knitting gals with a half-finished shawl-collar, belted cardigan peeking out of her knitting bag. Soon we were seated around a big table with the incredibly sweet and funny instructor and three other gals learning to cast on "cheap and dirty." I came close to a panic attack when it became clear that I was the only one who had no idea what was going on (Note to Readers: I am utterly hopeless with learning new manual tasks. I actually become light-headed with terror because no matter how many times I watch something, I can't do it until like an hour after everyone else has figured it out) but when I finally had my breakthrough there was no stopping me. We sat around that table gabbing and giggling and the time and rows flew by. We touched on every topic: marriage, children, career, pets, hobbies, geography, movies, art, name it. I marveled that everyone was so forthcoming about the intimate details of their lives...usually it's just me who's "sharing" with people I've just met. But then our teacher talked about how knitting is an ancient art originally practiced just by women, and the afternoon made total sense.

I am determined to finish my scarf by the next class. And then I'm going to learn how to put fringe on it.


Amy said...

Way cool! I have had my mother try to teach me to knit at least 5 times. Each time I leave having "gotten it", only to get home on my own to find I can't remember where to begin...again...
Kudos to you!!!
I can't wait to see your new scarf...with fringe!

Anonymous said...

Love the photo!

It was so fun! I am glad that you could join us!



Anonymous said...

you go, girl! :) xxxlix