Tuesday Night Chaharshanbe Suri

It was a dark and stormy night. Actually it was barely even drizzling but the thought of trekking to the beach fire pits for the annual jumping-over-fire event (aka Chaharshanbe Suri) seemed like way too much work for us pansy-ass Californians. Weather in general freaks us out. Hours of mindless traffic, whatever! But a slight drizzle is cause for alarm.

So we bought some coals and some Persian take-out from our local International market and called up Grandma Pedram. It had been one of those rough-around-the-edges kind of day and a little Tuesday night family visiting would do us some good. Of course the kids were bummed because a little drizzle (or wild horses) couldn’t keep them away from the beach. They sulked in the car and stuck their noses in their phones, playing data-free games while Payam and I cursed at the usual Tuesday night traffic. charsanbehsouri-2018-1

When we got to Grandma’s, Uncle Ramin had already gotten a small barbecue ready for us. This was something new for everyone, making fires at home! Fire! Fire!  It was novel and even the phone-addled girls started to catch on to the excitement while Grandma stayed inside nice and warm peering through the sliding glass door.

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After the fire was going in the small barbecue, Payam took some tin foil and made seven small fires. It took a bit of coaxing to get them going. He worked on that while the rest of us chowed down on our Persian take-out inside. When the fires were good and lit, the kids came out and we started the “jumping festival”.

Jumping over fires is thought to be a way to say goodbye to the bad of last year and hello to the good of this year. I’m all for that! Uncle Ramin taught us how to say “Give me your beautiful red color and take back my sickly yellow pallor” in Farsi. Of course I cannot remember how to say it now but it’s relatively easy. The kids made up their own sayings as they jumped over. Bug wished for no allergies and Joon wished for happiness.

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It didn’t really matter what we said or if we had the fire-jumping traditions down just right. We are not practicing Zoastrians and we probably didn’t even get the day right.  Chaharshanbeh Soori* literally translates to the last Wednesday of the New Year so why are we doing it on a Tuesday night?  We discussed that for quite a bit but no one really had a good answer. We were just there for the memories and the family time.  I’m so glad we did it too.

Sometimes you have to push through those rough days when you’d really rather just check out on the couch and let the kids turn their brains into phone-addled mush and put out a little effort because it’s always worth it in the end. Always. Seeing Grandma Pedram smile through the sliding glass door as her grandkids jumped over fire like she probably did as a little girl is something I will always treasure.

*there are so many ways to spell Persian words in English (Pringlish) so forgive my many iterations.

Summer Nostalgia

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Bug and I finally made it out to the sticks to take advantage of my parents over-achieving gardening skills this summer. My parents have a HUGE over-grown garden that is producing tomatoes like a factory. Their nectarine tree is literally breaking it’s branches to hold all the nectarines it grew and of course there are grapefruits coming out their ears. This winter’s heavy rain probably had something to do with the bumper crop but the rest is all my parents and their giant green thumbs. They also may have an alergy to staying inside. Let’s just say my mom’s approach to housework is to close the door and garden instead. I should make her a shirt that says that.

I love taking the kids to The Sticks but we haven’t been much this summer because it’s been hard to leave our perfect 70-degree weather to go hang out in the 102 degrees of blazing heat that is The Sticks.  We have a big olympic-sized pool in our community. My parents have a tiny above-ground pool that sits in the sun and promises a darker tan in three minutes. And that’s not a good thing.

I can’t even take the dogs with me which is sad because the dogs LOVE The Sticks even more than the kids! But I feel horrible taking them out to that heat no matter how much they love exploring the wonderland of dangers that is my parent’s foxtail-infested half-acre yard and the twenty-seven cats they get to chase.

Cody is not allowed in their pool because his hair would clog the filter in about a minute. It would just be mean to take them on a long hot car ride just to tell them they couldn’t swim. You know how Cody is. He is a SWIMMING DOG.

So Bug and I decided to tough out the heat on our own and it was totally worth it! (Like you knew it would be of course.) I love visiting with my parents. We hide out in the cool of their mobile home, chatting away in the living room. The drapes are drawn to keep it cool and the swamp cooler blows that soft cool air that reminds me of my childhood. Bug takes quick breaks to run outside and visit her old friends, the many kittens who have now grown up into lanky cats.

I love that Bug and I have The Sticks as a big part of who we are. We are both sentimental about it in a way that bonds us deeply.

I almost forgot the one funny thing that happened while we were out there! We found Mongolian Grill!  I can’t even believe it myself because usually eating out in The Sticks is limited to horrible chains with 2000 calorie entrees or fast food. It really is Walmart Culture at it’s worst and everywhere you look are depressing choices. So you can imagine my surprise when I opened my Yelp app and I found a whole underground of Asian food in The Sticks that I had no idea existed! Why didn’t I discover this sooner!  I even made my Dad try it and he loved it!  Sticks WIN!

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We came back home from The Sticks with a giant bag of nectarines which were about to go bad in a day so you know what that means: PIE. Except I forgot that they are super maximus juicy and I should have added gelatin or five tablespoons of flour or something to my pie when I made it because my beautiful pie turned out to pretty much be cooked fruit soup with a crust.

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Mmm… soup. Sadly, I left the pie out on the counter too long and fruit flies got it. That’s what happens when people are on stupid diets and things don’t get eaten fast enough. Sigh.

Maybe the pie didn’t get eaten because some people like to spend all their time in the garage and they forget to eat. Harumph. Jealous much? Yeah. I am.

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As you can see, Payam has finished his workshop in the garage and it’s pretty cool! I’m sure he’ll keep tweaking it and getting it more and more just right but I have to say it is very cool and yes, I am jealous. Good thing he lets me come hang out here and I’m even trying my hand at creating some of my own wood things. Power tools are fun!

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They are also scary. I’ve been customizing Payam’s work bench with illustrations and reminders not to cut himself. He’s on blood thinners after his recent heart surgery so I’m pretty much visualizing gushing limbs on a regular basis because I’m fun like that.

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You know what else is fun? My laundry room! I love my laundry room/craft cabinet corridor that sits on the other side of Payam’s shop. It’s like my own personal Diagon Alley.

You laugh but really it is awesome.  I look at this and smile as memories flood me from all my past laundry rooms… All those days of schlepping laundry to a laundromat in the next town over. Doing so many loads with a baby hanging off my hip.  Watching the loads go round while my baby napped in a wire cart. All those playdates at drug dealer park… I love this room, torn linoleum and all. It even has a man-cave refrigerator in it, covered in stickers! Care for an ice-cold soda in a glass bottle while you hang those wet swimming suits? Don’t mind if I do!

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