Why our local friends might want to come over to our place pretty soon

J and I spent part of the weekend at the Bay house, truly relaxing after a few busy weeks. We've both been working and travelling a lot and it felt good to watch movies and go to sleep early, and also, for one of us - I'm not naming names - to spend a few interupted hours birding and spot two new species to add to his life list. Which means, happily, for someone else, that this particular person won't be moaning and groaning about how he "hasn't seen a new bird since this past summer in Maine" and expecting a great deal of sympathy. My parents were attending an auction - a fundraiser for a local non-profit - Saturday night, and came back to the house late, almost midnight, to join us. They arrived with several boxes and baskets full of auction booty which they promptly unwrapped to show us. An Italian-looking statue of the baby Jesus. A large, imposing angel with outstretched wings. "The neighbors, they're really going to start to wonder about us," my mother laughed, while my father jokingly draped a rosary over the Christ-child's outstretched palms.

In stark contrast to the European-type religious art my mother so adores, my parents had also won a few gift baskets, the most noteworthy being a "Mint Julep Basket" that contained a bottle of whiskey, some sugar, a mint julep recipe and some cups. They very kindly gave that to us, because I guess they figured they didn't really need a cutely disguised theme basket that - when you really get down to it - is pretty much just a basket of whiskey. Especially since, I don't know if any of you have ever tried, but mint juleps are one of those drinks that are kind of hard to make, and when you can just open a nice bottle of wine, well, what's the point?

Luckily J and I are at an age when we still believe such ventures noble, so this was a major score. I'm sure there will come a day when I feel the same way about receiving a fantastic and very old sculpture of a saint or something, but for now, my youth is still intact enough that going home with a mint julep-making kit is a really, really good deal.