In which I have the choice, and am not obliged...

It was raining heavily a few days ago and I didn't feel like riding in the rain. So I didn't since I had the choice of taking a car2go car or the bus. I took the bus and it was a mistake. The bus was crowded and it shouldn't have been because it's my personal theory that the majority of bus riders are the great unwashed who are obliged to ride the bus. Unlike me who chooses to ride the bus to spare the environment or something like that. However, you'd think that the great unwashed would go frolic in the rain to wash themselves, but not that day. Maybe it was too cold. In any case there they were on the bus getting in my way and opening umbrellas because the bus was leaking and making me assume cold stares, all of which matched my feeling of coolness to the world.

The deck was opened officially this past weekend. There had been much whining and grumbling about the frozen packets of spice procured from Mrs. Tan's cottage industry a few months back: 

Isn't it time we (note the choice of pronoun) used them?!

There's more to life than just nourishing my soul with travel; I need my noodle fix!

It's warming up! (it was 5C that day)

So, kind-hearted soul that I am, I acquiesced and sent out an invitation for Sunday evening. Then the preparations started. Fortunately, I had a huge bottle of stout left over from a few weeks back when the urge came over me. The first thing to be done was to look up Nigella (now safely stored on my Google Drive) and make sure that she would approve of my minor changes. And she did, of course she did, heaving her generous bosom, described with a word from DWE that starts with a P and means great tracts of land - could you please supply the word again if you can given that you're now sober, and shaking her waterfalls of dark hair and touching her tongue non-lasciviously but approvingly to her generous lips. So thus was it that I mixed white sugar with brown, threw in a handful of chocolate chips and used Stout from Howe Sound rather than the Guinness family. In truth, I ran out of brown sugar and was damned if I was going to get more, didn't quite have enough cocoa powder and couldn't find a can of Guinness for love nor money.

The kiddies were fascinated by the making of the NGC and gathered around at the finished product licking their lips. I had to elevate the cake on an upside down bowl which was noted by DWE when he walked in. He said not very sotto voce to Il Doge that I had at least upgraded (used very loosely) from a bare plate to a bare plate suspended on an upside down bowl, which was at least a step to a cake stand, but not very far towards it. In truth, it was to keep the hordes from having at it before you hordes got at it, which you did.

There was also some contretemps with the peeling of the shrimp. The little guys were willing to help peel the shrimp but they didn't quite have the dexterity for the task. Leave it to DWA they chorused with one voice. All the activity will be good for the Rheumatoid Arthritis he claims to have. He always says that to avoid peeling shrimp but that doesn't explain the speed at which he typed out a message on his phone to DWE on Sunday morning. 

In a moment of uncertainty, I thought the broth smelt a bit off - it was actually a stray shrimp shell which had fallen on the element - and sent DWA a text saying that we would have to order pizza because the spices had gone off, that obviously Mrs. Tan's daughter had fallen down on her job of sealing the packets properly. 

Well. I got a one word reply: Tramp.

I'm not quite sure what that had to do with anything, but there you go. 

Then I heard from ML later that DWE received a flurry of messages from DWA asking whether it was true, whether he (DWE) had heard from me that the spice was off, whether it was true that pizza was to be had instead of laksa, and damn it, why didn't that slut of a daughter seal the packets properly and was the entire supply contaminated, or just one packet, and what was he (DWA - slut) going to do now? After all, he had been utterly disappointed the week before when he'd been promised dessert, or rather that he would be dessert, but that it was all false promises, and that it had been at least hours since he'd indulged in an orgy, and well, was the spice alright or not?! ARRRRRGHHHHH!

Such panicky souls. 

In any case, they all showed up, the OCKs and one NCK, the rest being either abroad or incommunicado, but one hopes not commando for that results in you being labelled a Dangle Queen, or so RR in Seattle says. I wasn't quite sure what he meant until he pointed out a DQ standing on the curb in sweat pants, obviously going commando, and well, dangling. Where was I? Oh yes, they arrived with bottles of wine - some fine, some not so fine, and some downright nasty. There were General Tsao Chicken chips on offer, and the bottles were opened in record time. Dr. J, sneaky academic that he is, brought some cans of ale, drank one, started on the left over stout and left the rest behind so now I have to get rid of them. Left over alcohol - such a pain, it's not like it goes bad so I can't just toss it without feeling guilty. 

Then CA dropped a bombshell on us and declared that he'd decide to become vegetarian - not vegan, but vegetarian. I asked him outright what the feck was wrong with him, and he started explaining about not killing/eating sentient beings and drawing lines around what constituted (or not) a sentient being. Chickens, pigs and cows are apparently sentient, fish (particularly grilled with a tasty mango salsa) or squid (lovely as calamari with a fresh minty cucumber yoghurt dip) are not. Be that as it may, it did mean that there was more chicken and pork left for us. Later in the day, I wondered aloud to DWE whether CA had mistaken Sentient for Sanctity (now that he's a priest of some description and actually marries people). It would explain a lot, really. DWE replied saying that was exactly the kind of mistake CA would make and that one would probably have to explain what tofu was to him. I should probably have also explained to CA that this was only a dinner and not a function to promote the cause of his canonization so he didn't have to show concern for sentient/sanctified beings.

Then DWE went on about the terrible evening he had when the Ex-Michael's sister became vegan with a vengeance and made the family tofurkey or some such malarkey for Thanksgiving one year and was forever banned henceforth from preparing meals ever again for the family (smart move on her part I think), and that what were they (DWE et al) going to do when they got together with their coterie wherein one didn't eat fish, the other can't eat gluten, CA won't eat meat, DWA won't eat anything with their heads or antennae still on, another couldn't face onions and the other was abhorrent of carbs.

As ML put it - No pasta, no meat, no seafood, no shrimp (antennae and bulgy eyes you see), no breads, no deserts, no nothing. Feck - let's just eat tomatoes and olive oil grilled at which point the SOCK piped up, after the copious amounts of Nyquil (it's at least 40% alcohol) downed to quell his incipient cold, 
declaring war on watery grilled tomatoes and yucky (the opposite of yummy) blood sausage. It's a mess, he said, soggy, watery, tasteless tomatoes - and don't get me started on blood sausage (it was too late by then), I don't understand how this is part of my cultural background. What's tomato got to do with Ireland where the land is full of Ire, rain, cloud and green as in moss anyway? Fortunately, Dr. J had gone for a little nap under my computer table for he's a fan of blood sausage ("ate it everyday when I was growing up"). Then DWE and I defended the watery grilled tomato and told the SOCK that when done properly and with the right tomatoes, grilled tomatoes were ambrosial. I don't think he believed us though. 

As you can tell, the bottles of wine were put to good use especially when drams as defined by DWA were poured; more of a flood but that's only my opinion. There was some final slurping of broth, the sun disappeared, it got cold and we repaired inside to have at the NGC, which as you can see was had at quite well for there wasn't much left for the little guys by the end of the night. 

So there you have it. Another successful opening of the Patio for the season and likely the last for who knows how much longer the wooden slats will last as they're rotting very quickly.