I'm not, normally, much for parties. I joked a few months ago to another friend, Steph, that in showing up at her BBQ I was attending one of my two social outings for the year. Turns out, it's kinda true...as I can't really think of any others I've been to since (events -- like Philcon or the Celtic Classic or a concert or play -- don't count..as they don't usually involve hanging out with a bunch of people I don't know. Dinners or other stuff with established friends also don't count, for the same reason). So, despite the fact that Kat hosts one of these parties at least once a year, and sometimes twice (Halloween), I'd never been to her house.
Oh. My. Goodness.
Kat bought an old mill-house in Joisie a few years ago, and has been fixing it up ever since. After parking, we walked up to the front of the house...the sound of the rushing stream next to it was nearly overwhelming...and wonderful. We popped inside (it was quite chilly out) and made a quick run up to the third floor, where the party was being held. [The house is a three-story. The bottom floor is actually kind of a sub-floor, nearly a basement...as you walk in the front door and down the stairs to get to it. Alternately, you can walk UP the stairs to get to the rest of the place. Kat lives on the 2nd floor (which I didn't have a chance to see, though she very graciously offered to let me hide out there, if the party got to be too much for me). On the third floor, she throws parties.]
The third floor begins with a bathroom at the head of the stairs. Just past the bathroom is a tiny walk-through library-nook , with a couple of comfy chairs and a wall full of books. On the wall full of books is a ladder that leads up to a small loft (which I didn't have a chance to take a peek at, though we were originally slated to sleep there). Then you step through the doorway into the main room.
The main room is huge...at the end furthest from the door is a stage/dias sort of set up (where the stereo-system resides), and off to one side of that is a lovely bed-shaped bunch of cushions (possibly even a mattress underneath it all) topped by a HUGE chunk of fleece (the sheeps-wool variety, not the Old Navy cloth stuff) -- which Kat told me is actually several fleeces stitched together, found at a yard sale -- and some beautiful nomad-tent looking pillows and cushions. Around the edges of the room are various old-looking bits of furniture (many of which are former theater props, as I understand it). There are half-tall windows --not really sure what to call them, as they start at the floor and go up to about waist-height-- all around the room, with beautiful stained-glass panels hanging from chains in front of each. In the center of the room is a long, narrow banquet-y looking table with three old-looking and beautiful chandeliers hanging over it. Most of the room, however, is open space...that with the wooden floor makes a perfect dance space. On the other side of the room from the stage, on the other corner from the library-door, is a doorway into a sizeable kitchen --which in this case had counters covered in various alcohol bottles (the bottles we brought were never even opened), including, apparently, several varieties of home-made wine.
Troll's friend Jazzy met us in the library, and greeted me enthusiastically (I, on the other hand, was a bit brain-blitzed from the trip up -only about an hour drive, but through winding roads of rural NJ), and couldn't place her for a few long seconds - though to my credit, I've only seen her a couple of times before, and those briefly). We got our bedding, coats and overnight gear stowed away, and went on into the main party.
So. Many. People.
I think, all told, there were four or five people (aside from the group I arrived with, of course) that I'd met before...and all of those were very brief meetings. There were also scads and scads of folks I'd never met at all. And I think I ended up meeting most of them. Though I doubt that I'll remember more than a handful if I see them again, I think I did pretty well assimilating it all. Best of all, I did not, at any point, run screaming.
Bedtime was very, very late (Troll and I slept on the fleece, by virtue of the fact that once I landed there, I didn't leave it for the rest of the evening -- eli set up the aerobed alongside us), and wake up time very, very early...so I was a cranky bird for the small bit of morning between waking and leaving...but I managed, with gregortroll and elionwyr's help, to get us all packed up and ready to go in just a short time...and we were off for the search for food (pastries had been available, and coffee...but if I'm not to be a jittering wreck, I need protein for breakfast).
We found breakfast at Friendly's in the picturesque town of historic something-or-other...it was yummy, plus ICE CREAM. Then we headed home.
Except that we sighted a going-out-of-business Zany Brainy store on the way, and had to stop to bargain hunt. Further down the road, we headed for Michaels (craft store chain), where we caught another sale. Our final stop on the way home was one of those KFC/Taco Bell combos, where (though none of us was especially hungry) we grabbed food for dinner to be had later. And, in the case of the Troll and I, chicken to be munched throughout the weekend, to minimize dish-making and time-consuming cooking. We had Stuff To Do this weekend, ya see.
And we did it! Though sadly dawnwolf was unable to make it down to visit as planned (everyone send her good, lung-healing vibes, eh?), we finished up the things we were doing to the apartment in preparation for her arrival: moving our sleeping space from the living room/guest room to the loft in the bedroom...putting the just-purchased-for-this-specific-purpose spiffy guest linens on the futon in said guest/living room, cleaning the kitchen floor, moving and re-arranging some boxes...it was amazingly productive.
Saturday we mostly lounged & played videogames, and then headed out to South Street, where we were to meet eli and all get our hair cut. Eli ended up running late, so didn't make the hair-cutting bit (Troll and I are both VERY HAPPY with our cuts, and will definitely be going back to this particular Great Clips)...but after a bit of a rigamarole getting her keys out of her locked car, we headed down to the South Street Diner for dinner. On the way back to the car, we stopped into several shops to browse (and in one case, to buy!) the nifty stuff. Sunday Troll and I slept late, then proceeded to take tree decorations down. Tree is still up though...since I'm not sure when tree-pickup is (must go check that)...and I learned that I have a Thing (TM) about the holiday tree.
Troll was happily snipping up the tree to make getting the lights off of it easier...and I looked up and was horrified. Terribly sad. Teary, even. See, it doesn't matter that I know the tree is already dead, and has been for weeks, technically. It doesn't matter that I'm ready to take it out to the curb and let the city cart it off to the dump (or wherever they take them). It simply broke my heart to see the tree looking all broken and undignified. I had no previous idea that this was an issue to me in any way...so it was a very strange experience.
We taped up the reparable bits, and turned the worst damage away from the room. There the tree sits, looking calm and unbroken, until time comes to take it out and away. I feel much, much better. I'm so glad that the Troll is who he is, and is supportive and loving about unexpected, weird little Things like that.