Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Day Two: Meet The Family

The first night in a hotel is always a restless sleep, and I was none too amused when Jarrah appeared bedside to stage-whisper "Mommmmmy! It's light outsiiiiide!" just after 6:30. Ugh.

I did enjoy wearing my hotel robe and checking e-mail on my new netbook (gift from David) and even drinking the hotel coffee mixed with white powder. There's something about that ritual that just says vacation to me.

Soon enough, we were down in the hotel coffee shop, where we met the first wave of Thomas's family--Kay, Matt and their two kids, and Mark and and Museng from Switzerland. Actually, Kay was sitting with John, another of the siblings, and at first I thought those two were married yet suspiciously similar in appearance.

I happened to mention that Jarrah was supposed to go "somewhere" while we were wine-tasting, and before I knew it John was handing me the phone and saying "it's the Ranch." "Hello?"

I said uncertainly, and it was Pele, who is just the sweetest person ever. She's married to Dominic, yet another brother, and she said "Yeah, bring her by! She can hang with the rest of the kids. Don't forget a bathing suit."

It all seemed a bit vague, but soon we were wending our way up a tiny road into green hills rippling with lupines and poppies, where curious cows peered at us from inches away.

I don't know how the family found that ranch, but it was just beautiful, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by verdant splendor and a giant wood deck to admire it from.

There were a number of children already there, and as soon as Jarrah met them, she was all "Don't you people have wine-tasting to do?" We can take a hint, so after meeting and greeting, we headed back to the hotel to catch the van Thomas and Lindsey had arranged for the day.

At our first stop, Zenaida, Thomas produced an incredible lunch spread, including sandwiches, fruit, brie, salad and lemon bars, which we enjoyed at long tables in their garden.

At this point, I was a bit overwhelmed by all the people, and had already confused a few of them...for instance, how did that long-haired guy who sat with us at breakfast manage to open the gate for us as the Ranch? Did he teleport? No, turns out Mark and Dominic just have similar hair.

And they were all as nice and welcoming as could be. I felt like I was the one joining the family. I got an especially warm reception from Margaret and Paul, who asked me lots of questions (maybe hoping for dish that Lindsey had withheld?)

At one point, I was riding shotgun in a different van with about five of Thomas's siblings and spouses (none of whom included my sister or my own husband) and we were singing, and Margaret mentioned that they used to do a lot of harmonizing on family trips. I burst out "Why wasn't I in your family?" and Paul squeezed my arm and said, "You are now!"

We visited a few wineries, but I was totally done drinking after the first one (all that sipping and furrowing my brow to announce "Hmmm! A hint of cherry!" just exhausts me) so I mostly just hung out. It was like a million degrees in the shade and I could tell I was a bit dehydrated. Still, it was lovely to have a kid-free afternoon (free of charge!) and meet a lot of interesting people who were very interested in meeting me, too.

Eventually, we ended up at a tasting room in Paso Robles (a very cute little town) and Margaret and I sat on a bench outside and dished for over an hour about all and sundry. Occasionally, other members of our party would stagger by, heading for the shops or the "saloon" across the street, and it was all very jolly and social. I had a vague concern that someone might be trying to reach us about Jarrah, but my cell phone kept telling me otherwise.

We got back to the hotel about five, with enough time for a little rest before Jarrah showed up, squeaky clean and smiling, with Pele and Pele's daughter, Solara. I thanked them profusely, and then Jarrah regaled us with tales of swimming in "the hot pool" and all the fun she'd had at the Ranch and we dressed for the rehearsal dinner.

Which, handily, was right down in the lobby, at the hotel restaurant. There was a reserved room for us, and a great buffet, and everyone spent the evening noshing and circulating to their heart's content. Jarrah showed off her "high heels," ran amok with her new cousins, and got thrown around by my brother Karl and any other person she met,

including my co-celebrant, Thomas's oldest sister Therese, who had just arrived--bearing books and gifts for all the children like a May Santa. Jarrah had The Paper Bag Princess memorized by the next day, so smitten was she with the idea that you can call a prince "a bum."

Having not slept the night before, we were all pretty wiped out by 10:00, and headed back to the room, where Jarrah was much more willing to get settled than she had been the night before.


Aunt LoLo said...

Oh, it sounds like you had a GREAT time! Jarrah looks so happy..you look so relaxed!

Myrnie said...

Aww..gorgeous photos!