one for me, one for you
I figured my mother needed a change of scenery, so last Friday I drove her up to Sacramento to visit the psycho soap-opera-drama familia, also affectionately known as the relatives. After all, there’s only so many times one can wander around the yard and talk to the rose bushes and geraniums, you know. Actually, that’s my dad’s line of expertise. But the daddy-o is also a social butterfly who spends literally hours on the telephone and enjoys telling his life story to total strangers he meets in the sprinkler-system aisle at Home Depot. My momma, on the other hand, is just a shy butterfly, and I decided she needed to get out of the house, and away from the isolation she sometimes feels, living as we do in the Bay and an hour away from close friends and family.
We took with us a box of pomegranates from our tree to dispense as a gift amongst the families (there are four). When we came home in the evening, we brought back with us two melons and a carton of homemade potato salad. (Sidenote: Damn, Somayya, that stuff was GOOD!)
Saturday, we decided to go harass the relatives again, and the daddy-o bought a box of dates for everyone there. We decided to leave just before iftar, so that we could make it back to the Bay in time for taraweeh. This, of course, made all the aunts extremely sad, because their primary goal in life is to feed everyone as much as they possibly can. So the fun part was, each of the four aunts put together a “care-package” for us to eat on the road, once iftar-time hit. We drove home loaded with dates, fruit, lasagna, kabob, samosas, french fries!, and bread. Not to mention, a bottle of water, two bottles of coke, and a jug of orange juice. And real glasses to drink out of. That one still makes me laugh. And they even gave us little containers of ketchup and chutney. Simply ingenius!
A while back, we had given our neighbors some pomegranates and persimmons from our trees, too. On Sunday, the across-the-street neighbors stopped by to thank us, and to rave about the pomegranates, which they had also shared with another neighbor down the street – “We were eating them as if it were candy!” They brought a plateful of dates (because they had “heard that tradition has it, Muhammad used to break his fast with dates”) and a container of hot lentil soup, thick with tomatoes, carrots, potatoes!, and tiny grains of unidentifiable-but-yummy rice. Perfect for this annoying cough-and-cold-combination I’ve got going on. Such nice people. I still remember that when they moved in the house across the street, years ago, their son and my brother hit it off, since they were the same age. They were also the most annoying little brats ever, and I’m not exaggerating by any stretch. Somehow, my brother grew up to become an art and film aficionado who makes exaggerated funny faces, delivers hilariously impeccable imitations of people, and can tell you anything and everything about seemingly every single movie listed on The Internet Movie Database, whether it’s good, bad, or ugly. And the neighbor boy grew up to become a thoroughly likeable guy, and is now away at college at UCLA. And even after so many years of marriage, his parents are still madly in love. You can tell by the way they look at each other. It’s so cute, masha’Allah.
Later in the day, the lady from next-door stopped by with a thank-you gesture in the form of walnuts and a bag of Fuji apples, both of which my dad actually loves. My family is always amused by the fact that, even four years after moving in, the couple next-door still has a constant stream of construction and remodeling going on. But we patiently bear the loud noise and the heavy-duty trucks that perpetually block our driveway, because every year around Christmas-time, she brings us a tin of English toffee without fail, and we have become obsessed with her English toffee, we admit it. I just can’t wait until December already.
Bartering is so much fun, didn’t I tell you?