Equinox Surprise

David Shows Silver-
ware to Mai Linh
Seattle, USA
April 11, 2012

Greg and I colluded together to make my visit here a surprise to the rest of the family. I sent my brother e-mail a few days before leaving Chicago:

David: "I was thinking it might be fun to show up and surprise
everybody else without them knowing I'll be back in town. To really
work a scheme though, I'd need a confederate. That would be you."

Greg: "Maybe we can manufacture some sort of Ching Ming/Mom's bday
celebration for you to show up at?"

Post-Chinatown Dinner: Alan,
Dad, Mike, Jen, and Nick
There wasn't a holiday or other special occasion falling on any date remotely close to my arrival that might provide plausible cover for the whole family gathering. We decided to lump together any and all dates appearing over two months as reason for a dinner in Seattle's Chinatown. Greg sent an invitation out to all the other unwitting family members:

Greg (to all): "I thought it may be a nice to get together somewhere
over a simple bowl of noodles to remember mom, celebrate our family,
welcome the first week of spring, anticipatorily have long-life
noodles for Nick's bday, and share whatever other good things are
happening in our lives... "

David: "Wow! That's pretty sly. I couldn't have composed it better,
myself... "

Greg: "Excellent...the trap is set... "

My Hanh Knits
While Greg Reads
The subterfuge worked. Everybody responded. Everybody came to dinner. Everybody was startled and delighted that I was there, too. Even sage elder sister Jen, who I expected would know me well enough and have the intuition to suspect there might be a set-up at-hand, didn't have an inkling.

Since our happy surprise reunion at a Chinatown noodle house I've spent the past few weeks in Seattle almost exclusively calling on family. In most regards, the visit really was unplanned--when saying goodbye after Thanksgiving I bid everybody "farewell" for what I expected to be at least a year. But, with the wheels of bureaucracy delaying the start of my language-courses back in Quebec, I figured I'd take advantage of my unexpected free time to visit with the people I most care about.

Gymnastics: My Hanh
atop Devon, Alan to Side
The family members are all more-or-less as they were when I left. (I suppose it was only four months I was away.) My nephews and nieces are all ever so slightly more grown-up and more articulate. Spending time with the younger generation I had the most fun doing things together that I learned how to do back when I myself was around their age. With Robin and Nick I played cards for one entire evening. Those two could use a refresher on their blackjack basic strategy but--both of them at least did break even for the night playing against me as house. Another evening, Mai Linh was curious to learn how to make those macrame friendship bracelets that I first learned how to knot together back when I was in public school, myself. I demonstrated; she'd nearly completed her first bracelet before the night was over. Youngest nephew Tai, insisted that I must make one for him. I let him choose four colors of thread and promised I would mail him a completed bracelet made from them back from Canada.

My Hanh, who has been performing for years with a gymnastics troupe at her elementary school, challenged me one day to a handstand competition. She must have known full-well how her poise has developed. We used to go head-to-head regularly seeing who could remain longer with hands-down on the floor and feet up-in-the-air--but she hadn't taken me on for at-least a year. This match was the first time she's beaten me. I shall take this defeat as incentive for me to practice my handstand skills regularly in anticipation of some future rematch against my niece whenever I next return to this city.

Robin, Jen, and Nick After
Frisbee in Myrtle Edwards Park
My time together with family concluded with Easter. Jen's family hosted, glazing, baking, and serving up an enormous ham. I contributed two sheets of cornbread I'd made from scratch. Perhaps not a traditional item on the Easter dinner table, but it was something I was craving and thought would go well with the meal.

As with most times we siblings gather we played rounds of various games after eating. Our standbys of Anagrams and Indian Poker came up not just then, but many of the nights I was in town. We managed some rounds of the Sentence/Picture game which is always good for lots of laughs. I rediscovered that one game I could never recall the rules for, "Buck Wild," is worth remembering. Another I hadn't played in years, which I think we just called the "Hat Game" is evidently also known as "Celebrities".

It's always so good to spend time with the family.

Indian Poker: Ben, Anna,
Nick, Alan, Devon, David
and Mike (Head to Camera)
Now I'm about to head back East again. This time I have all my documents confirmed. My language integration classes begin in Quebec City on the last day of this month. I'll make my way back via another detour through the U.S. east coast. I have some time yet before classes start and would like to visit with some of the friends who I didn't get to spend very long with the last time I was in Washington, D.C.. I'm also choosing to go through the U.S. east coast as airfares are really cheap within the U.S., right now--though not so low when flying across the border. I get the sense that flights across this continent are always considerably cheaper if no legs go through Canada.

Next Stop: Washington, D.C.