ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the June 2, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] dialecticdreamer, Readera on DW, and Anthony Barrette. It also fills the "family reunion" square in my 12-30-14 card for the Rites of Passage Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Antimatter & Stalwart Stan thread of the Polychrome Heroics series. Note that this takes place in early summer so it's jumping ahead a bit compared to the previous poems in that thread.

"One Wants to Be Together"

"Can you get next Saturday free?"
Stan asked Lawrence as they
straightened up the living room
before supper hit the table.

Checking the calendar on his vidwatch,
Lawrence said, "Yeah, I'm free. Why?"

"Our family gathering is then," Stan said.
"We're hoping you're available for it."

"Say yes," Sloane said,
tugging on Lawrence's hand.
"Come on, pleeeeeese."

"But if it's a family gathering, why
are you inviting me?" he asked, baffled.

"Lawrence, you're family," Stan said.
"If you don't want to come, just say so,
and I'll lay off -- but I'd really like
for you to come with me."

"I don't know, maybe," Lawrence said.
"Who's going to be there?"

"Pretty much Mom's whole side
of the family," said Stan. "We don't
get to see Dad's side very often."

"They don't feel the same way about
family as I do," Stuart said quietly as he
folded the afghan and put it on the couch.
"They're entitled to their opinion, and
I'm entitled to want something different."

Sharon wrapped an arm around him.
"And I'm so glad you do," she said.

"That's the thing about family,"
Stuart said, hugging her back.
"One wants to be together."

Stuart had that odd edge in his tone
that he got sometimes, talking about
home life, Lawrence realized.

The first time Lawrence had come here, he'd
thought they were all one big perfect family, but
later on he began to pick up hints that maybe
Stuart hadn't always been that lucky.

Or maybe he'd made his own luck.

That got Lawrence thinking he could
do the same thing, if he put his mind to it,
insinuate himself into this happy jumble of people
who seemed eager to welcome him for Stan's sake.

Lawrence liked the idea that family
was something he could have.
"I'll come," he agreed.

"By the way, it's a potluck,"
Stan said. "Think about
what dish you want to bring."

So Lawrence worried about that
all through supper, and later on
he called Chatura to ask for advice.
"I don't know any big batch recipes,"
he said. "I mean, I could throw in
a whole bag of spaghetti but that ...
just seems like cheating somehow.
I figure you've got a large family,
so maybe you'd know a good one."

"Well, there's the wedding biryani,"
said Chatura. "It's all done up with
layers of chicken and rice and
lots of chilies for flavor."

"Okay, how do I make it?"
Lawrence asked.

She tried to explain all about
frying the vegetables and
marinating the meat and
layering it together, but
he just couldn't track it.

"Sorry," said Lawrence.
"Could you maybe write it down?"

Not to mention that it was a ton of food and
he had no idea how to afford it, even with
odd jobs, but he wasn't about to cheap out
on something as important as this.

"Why don't we just make it together?"
Chatura said. "It's a family tradition,
I want to make it for my wedding, and
this would be a great chance to practice.
My parents can get some fresh chickens
for us -- Mom's brother raises them."

"That would be great," Lawrence said.

"Hey, doesn't Stan cook too?" said Chatura.
"If he helps, it will go even faster."

When Lawrence proposed that idea,
Stan was enthusiastic. "I'll chip in,"
he said. "If Chatura's bringing the chicken,
I can contribute the vegetables, and you
can bring the grains and spices and the rest."

They wound up borrowing the kitchen at Stan's house
and the big biryani pot from Chatura's grandmother.
"The chickens are in the cooler," said Chatura.

Lawrence opened the lid and then slammed it shut.
"There are dead birds in there!" he exclaimed.

"Well, yeah, those are the chickens," she said.

"Have they been cleaned?" Stan asked.

"They've been plucked and gutted,"
Chatura said, shaking her head.
"What is wrong with you guys?"

"The heads are still on them,"
Lawrence protested.

"Some of my relatives hunt,
so I've cleaned pheasants,"
Stan said. "I'll deal with
the chickens. What do I do,
just cut the meat off and chop it?"

"Yes," said Chatura.
"Lawrence and I can
handle the vegetables."

Even with three people, it took them
over an hour to prepare everything
and then fill up the biryani pot.

"Chatura, do you want to come along
to the family gathering?" Sharon offered,
as she watched them cover the pot.
"After all, you're doing a lot of the work."

"I'd love to, but I'll have to ask my parents,"
Chatura said, wiping her hands on a towel.

"I can call your mother, if you like,"
Sharon said, and Chatura nodded.
So Sharon made the arrangements while
the biryani filled the kitchen with delicious smells.

It took both Lawrence and Chatura
to lug the finished biryani out of the van
and up to the long row of tables in the pavilion.

"This isn't a family, it's a -- a mob,"
Lawrence said faintly. "There must be
hundreds of people here today!"

"Probably between one and two hundred,"
Stan said. "Is it too much for you?"

"I'll manage. I don't want to spoil the fun,"
Lawrence said, drifting closer to Stan.

"It wouldn't be the first time we had to leave early,"
Stan said. "When I was ten, my cousin Mason
picked on Stephanie and I called him out for it
and he socked me in the mouth. So then we
had to go to the hospital to get my lip sewed up,
and the next summer I was still mad at him, so I
went camping with Tyke that weekend instead.
But the next year we came back and it was fine."

"That's not exactly reassuring," Lawrence muttered.

Stan wrapped an arm around him. "Don't worry
about it," he said. "We'll have a great time."

"Hi, Stan, it's good to see you again,"
said a motherly blonde woman
presiding over the potluck tables.
"Who are these two?"

"Hi, Aunt Jenna," said Stan,
stepping around to hug her.
"This is my boyfriend Lawrence
and our friend Chatura from chess club."

"Hello, darlings," said Jenna.
"You play chess now, Stan?"

"Yeah, just started this year.
It's pretty interesting," said Stan.
"Lawrence and Chatura and I
made chicken biryani for the potluck."

"Oh, that sounds heavenly," said Jenna.
"Fill out the card and you can go play."

Stan seemed to know what she meant,
because he grabbed a card and a pen
from the stack on the table. He wrote down
the title of the dish, who made it, and then
listed the ingredients below that.

"This way everybody knows what's in it
so people can avoid allergens," he explained.
"Okay, let's go have some fun."

Stan made a point of introducing Lawrence
to everyone they crossed paths with.
"This is getting weird," said Lawrence.

"What do you mean, weird?"
Stan asked him. "Is it too crowded?
Do you not want to meet people?"

"No, it's fine, just ... 'meet my boyfriend' is not
how people usually come out," Lawrence said.

"I want them to know who you are to me,"
Stan said with a shrug. "I can't really
come out if I was never in. Hey look,
Uncle Gabriel brought lawn checkers!"

A cheerful man with a brown ponytail
was trying to teach a small boy how to play
using a painted sheet plus red and black lids.
He looked up when Stan made the introductions.

"I thought you liked girls," Gabriel said.

"I do," Stan said. "Turns out,
I also like boys. Surprise."

Gabriel just laughed.
"Welcome to the madhouse,"
he said to Lawrence.

"Yeah," Lawrence said.
"I'm getting that."

It was unfamiliar and
more than a little scary,
but Lawrence trusted Stan
not to drag him into anything awful.

"I like checkers," Chatura said
to Gabriel. "May I join you?"

"You'll get creamed," Stan warned her.
"Uncle Gabriel is the family champ."

"Ooo, a challenge!" said Chatura
as she sat down on the grass.
The towheaded little boy
promptly jumped in her lap.

"Mackenzie, ask before you
pounce on people," said Gabriel.

"Hi I'm M'kenz will you be my friend?"
the boy said all in one breath.

"Sure," said Chatura.

"Let's go see what the girls
are up to," Stan said as he
led Lawrence to the playground.

When they got there, though,
Sloane grabbed Stan by the hand
and said, "The boys are picking on
Huckleberry again and they won't
listen to me. Make them stop!"

Lawrence scanned the playground
and spied a tall skinny girl with
long wavy brown hair facing off
against four much bigger boys.

"Girls can't play baseball as well
as boys can," said the fattest one.

"Actually they can, Landon,"
Stan said in a firm carrying voice.
"There's a girl who plays football
at our high school, too."

"Hi, I'm Lawrence," he said to the girl.
"You want to find something more
interesting to do than arguing
with these meatheads?"

"Yeah," she said. "I'm Huckleberry.
Nice to know not all guys are jerks."

"Well, what if we're not finished here?"
Landon said, putting his hands on his hips.

Stan stepped between him and Huckleberry,
looming over the much shorter boy.
"Oh, you're finished all right."

"See ya, chump," said Huckleberry.
"I've got better things to do."

"There's a tire swing at the far end
of the playground," said Stan.
"Let's test this premise. Did anyone
think to bring baseball equipment?"

"Landon and the other boys
had some," Sloane reported.

"We're not sharing with girls!"
Landon said, and the others nodded.

"You can share, or you can explain
to your father how you ran your mouth
and then wouldn't pony up when someone
called your bluff," Stan said, holding out a hand.

Grudgingly the boys retrieved
the baseball and handed it over.

Stan led them all to the tire swing,
and Lawrence tagged along, curious
how the matter was to be resolved.

"Count the number of pitches
that go through the ring," Stan said,
and put the tire into motion.

Lawrence keyed in a search
on his vidwatch to find typical scores.
As he observed the impromptu competition,
he noted that Huckleberry was doing better
than the average for Little League pitchers --
and he didn't think she was on a team.

"Stan, come look at this," said Lawrence,
then tilted the small screen to show him.

"That's something," Stan agreed.

Before long, the boys gave up
and walked away grumbling,
unwilling to play against a girl who
could beat their scores combined.

Even Sloane had done almost as well
as the boys, despite her younger age.

She was still experimenting with
different targets when Stan said,
"Come on, Huckleberry, let's go
tell your father what happened."

The three of them trooped back to
the game of lawn checkers, where
Gabriel was actually beating Chatura.
Lawrence couldn't help wondering
whether the man also played chess.

"Is there a problem?" Gabriel asked.

"The boys were just being jerks again,"
Huckleberry said, settling beside him.

"They didn't think girls could play baseball,
and she showed them better," Stan said.
"Kid's got quite an arm already."

"Is that so?" Gabriel said.
"I know she likes to fool around --"

"It's true, and I can prove it,"
Lawrence said. He showed
the typical scores again. "She's
twenty percent better than that."

"If you like baseball, Huckleberry,
you should really look for a team,"
Stan said. "You'd be an asset now,
and all the more with regular practice."

"Dad? Could I?" she asked.

"If you want to play, go for it," he agreed.
"There are probably summer teams starting up."

"Here, you can borrow my smartphone
to search for them," Stan said.

Lawrence took the phone and said,
"Where do you live, Huckleberry?"

She gave him her address, which was
clear across the city from where Stan lived.
Lawrence found two different teams that were
open to new players, one at a park and
the other at a youth center.

"If you start with either of these, you can
have fun all summer," Lawrence said.
It was so nice to get away from the dumb
nerd-jock division and find people who
had an appreciation of both perspectives.

"What about school?" Huckleberry asked.

"You could play softball, or if there's
only a boys' baseball team then they
have to let you on it," Stan said.
"That's how Fortney got into football."

"Or you could go to a different school,"
Gabriel said. "I'll look around and see which
ones have good sport programs for girls."

"Who knows, maybe you could even
earn a scholarship," Stan encouraged.

"I'd like that," Huckleberry said.
"My school is nice, but ... I dunno,
it's getting too easy for me. Boring."

A beefy teenage boy wandered up,
looked at Chatura, and said,
"What do you know, it is possible
to pick up girls at a family gathering."

Chatura froze, checker in hand.

"Mason, knock it off," Stan groaned.

"Chatura doesn't date," Lawrence said evenly.
"You really need to leave her alone."

"Then how's she supposed to find anyone?"
Mason said. "Is she a lezzie or something?"

"My parents hired a matchmaker,"
Chatura said, making her move.
"I'm very satisfied with that."

A curvy girl with strawberry blond hair
marched up and punched the boy in the shoulder.
"Mason, could you be any more annoying
if you tried?" she said, then turned to Chatura.
"What's my idiot twin done wrong now?"

"Don't queer my pitch, Miranda!" he protested.

"He's trying to pick up girls at a family gathering,"
Chatura said, waving a hand at her tinted skin
and black hair. "Since I obviously don't fit in."

"Mason couldn't pick up girls if he
covered himself in vrip strips,"
Miranda said. Then she noticed
Lawrence. "Oh wow, who did your hair?"

His hand came up to pull the silvery strands
behind his shoulders as if that would make them
any less obvious. He really should've dyed it.
"It just, um, grows this way," he said.

"Lucky ducky you!" said Miranda.
She plunked herself on the grass
beside Chatura. "Want me to help you
beat Dad at checkers? Or we could
flip the disks over and play chess."

"This is a chess set too?"
Chatura said, turning one over.
It had a queen symbol on the bottom.

"One set of equipment, two games,"
said Gabriel. "I'm also working on
the pieces for Martian Chess."

"What about other games you can play
with the same pieces?" Lawrence said,
sitting down on the other side of Chatura.
"Like Archimedes or Fission with checkers
or Crazyhouse with chess pieces?"

"All new to me," Gabriel said.

"There's a book that gives rules
for a hundred different games
you can play on a chessboard,"
Lawrence explained.

"This should be fun," Stan said
as he cuddled up with Lawrence.

"My money's still on Dad," said Miranda.
Mason huffed at them and wandered off.

So Lawrence demonstrated a few games
that he knew by heart, while fending off
Mackenzie's attempts to use him
as a human jungle gym.

Stan just chuckled and transferred
the boy over to himself instead.

Then the food call rang out,
as all the promised dishes for
the potluck had evidently arrived
and everyone scrambled to line up.

Some of the older men presided over
the charcoal grills full of hot dogs and
bacon-wrapped hamburgers. There were
mixed dishes like the ham casserole and
the biryani (which proved quite popular).
Stan's sisters had made dandelion salad,
and there were heavier sides such as
sweet potatoes and smoky baked beans.
Alongside the familiar assortment of pies
was an unusual rhubarb crunch.

"That's from Aunt Jenna," said Stan,
pointing at the rhubarb with his spoon.
"She makes it every year and it's a hit."

Lawrence took some, and noticed that
Stan was taking little dabs of everything
instead of loading up on favorites.
"Why are you eating like that?"

"I always try everything at a potluck,
then go back for my favorites," Stan said.
"Sometimes my taste changes from
one year to another, or there's new stuff."

They sat together at a picnic table
and chatted over the offerings.
"This has bits in it," Lawrence said,
poking at a square of cornbread
flecked with red and green.

"Yeah, Grandpa likes pepper cornbread,"
Stan said. "He puts in cayenne too,
so nibble before you bite. I hated this
when I was little, but it's kinda
growing on me over time."

It was nice to discover that Stan had
his own ways of reconsidering old ideas
and exploring new ones, even if he
did it differently than Lawrence did.

The strangest thing about the family gathering,
though, was the sheer sense of time. These were
people Stan had known all his life, or all of theirs
if they were younger than him, years worth of
stories and squabbles and adventures
tangled around hot summer days
and the holiday season.

Lawrence wondered what it would be like
to have that kind of connection, to have
gathering points throughout the year when
he could expect to see the same people and
catch up on their lives, try the same foods
and find out whether his tastes had changed.

But to have this, he'd have to give up
the idea that he was a loner,
that he was just a guest,

that family was always a disappointment.

Lawrence got an inkling what Stuart
meant about wanting to be together.

It was scary. It was exciting.
He wasn't sure whether the fear
or the thrill was stronger.

Lawrence pressed himself against Stan
and tried to imagine the future, but
it was like trying to see through a fogbank.

Gabriel came by and said, "Hey Lawrence,
I heard you're one of the biryani cooks.
This stuff is amazing. There's barely
a third of it left. Any chance we'll
see it again sometime? I mean,
are you coming to Thanksgiving or
Christmas or next year's reunion?"

Lawrence swallowed hard and
reached for his lemonade.

He could do this again. He could
come back and find out if Huckleberry
had taken up baseball and if Mason
was still annoying everyone.

All he had to do was let go
of everything he'd ever known.

Lawrence looked at Stan,
who said, "It's up to you.
Door's always open."

"Yeah," Lawrence said.
"I think I'd like that."

Stan's answering smile was
sunshine and picnics
and home.

* * *


Chatura Pai -- She has tinted skin, black eyes, and long wavy black hair. She is in the chess club with Lawrence. Chatura is uninterested in dating, but her parents want to hire a matchmaker to find her a good husband, and she's amenable to that. It takes her a while to warm up to people or interact in a group setting, and she's more inclined to pick one person or activity than to mingle.
Qualities: Good (+2) Chess Player, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Dutiful, Good (+2) Student, Good (+2) Zardozi Embroidery
Poor (-2) Socially Reserved

Jenna Kay -- She has fair skin, green eyes, and chin-length blonde hair. She is Sharon Wood's older sister and the wife of Gabriel Kay. He took his wife's surname when they married, because she already had a successful art career started. They have a daughter, Huckleberry, who is 10; and a son, Mackenzie, who is 5. Jenna has a thriving artistic career and loves organizing family events. She makes medium to large paintings for home decoration which range from soothing nature scenes to upbeat modern abstracts, along with art prints, wall decals, and posters to suit a wide range of budgets. Jenna can't keep her nose out of other people's business, though. She has plenty of contacts among other professional women and mothers.
Qualities: Master (+6) Artist, Expert (+4) Organizer, Good (+2) Assertive, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Women Friends
Poor (-2) Busybody

Gabriel Kay -- He has fair skin, blue eyes, and long wavy brown hair. He is the husband of Jenna Kay. He took his wife's surname when they married, because she already had a successful art career started. They have a daughter, Huckleberry, who is 10; and a son, Mackenzie, who is 5. Gabriel is good at going with the flow but terrible at trying to organize other people. He leaves that to his wife, who excels at it. He also has a knack for checkers and similar games.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Abstract Strategy Games, Expert (+4) Handyman, Good (+2) Father, Good (+2) Hunter, Good (+2) Easygoing
Poor (-2) Leadership Skills

Mackenzie Kay -- He has fair skin, blue eyes, and straight hair streaked in lighter and darker blond. He is the son of Jenna and Gabriel Kay; he has an older sister, Huckleberry. Mackenzie is touch-dominant and loves to climb on people, but has a hard time remembering to ask first. He is learning to play board games.
Qualities: Good (+2) Affectionate, Good (+2) Smart
Poor (-2) Sense of Boundaries

Huckleberry Kay -- She has fair skin with freckles, midnight blue eyes, and long wavy brown hair. She is the daughter of Jenna and Gabriel Kay; she has a younger brother, Mackenzie. She is ten when Lawrence meets her at the family gathering. Before Huckleberry was born, her parents were expecting a boy, but they were just as happy with a girl and figured the name was reasonably unisex. She loves running and playing outdoors, and she has an exceptional throwing arm. Huckleberry is Sloane's favorite cousin. They enjoy playing together. Huckleberry has a hard time letting anything go, and it gets her into trouble.
Qualities: Good (+2) Pitcher, Good (+2) Tomboy, Good (+2) Spatial Intelligence
Poor (-2) Troublemaker

Landon Peterson -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and dark blond hair cut short. He is pudgy, lazy, and not in good shape. He also tends to pick fights. However, he is adept at convincing people to do what he wants.
Qualities: Good (+2) Persuasive, Good (+2) Video Gamer
Poor (-2) Argumentive

Mason Kay -- He has fair skin with freckles, blue eyes, and curly dark blond hair. His body is robust and physically fit. He has a twin sister, Miranda, and they squabble all the time. Mason is always trying to charm girls, but he has terrible taste in pickup lines and winds up annoying them instead. He is related to Stanley Wood, about a year older, but they often wind up butting heads.
Qualities: Good (+2) Determined, Good (+2) Football Player, Good (+2) Seeing the Big Picture
Poor (-2) Awkward with Girls

Miranda Kay -- She has fair skin with freckles, blue eyes, and wavy strawberry blonde hair to her chest. She is tall and curvy. Miranda constantly squabbles with her twin brother Mason. She multitasks well, often switching back and forth between several conversations in a group. Miranda excels at thinking on her feet and responding quickly to challenges. She is much less adept at making her own plans in advance. She is related to Stanley Wood, about a year older, and they often cooperate on family projects.
Qualities: Good (+2) Cheerleader, Good (+2) Multitasking, Good (+2) Tactical Response
Poor (-2) Proactive Planning

* * *

"One wants to be together with one’s family. That’s what families are about."
-- Aung San Suu Kyi

A family gathering requires careful planning in order to be a success. It helps to use a checklist. Understand how to bring your boyfriend or girlfriend to a family gathering.

Many cultures have a different approach to dead food animals than modern Americans. So it's a good idea to know how to butcher, debone, and cube a chicken.

Here's the original Biryani for 100 recipe, or a similar one with more details. Lawrence has only a vague idea of how a potluck or a family gathering are supposed to work. Asking someone from a bigger family is actually a good idea. It's the cultural differences and Chatura's desire for practice that jump the size up so high, but the scope fits in this case.

See the picnic pavilion available for rental in Zorinsky Lake Park. This Omaha park has lots of fun amenities.

Lawn games include giant checkers, but storebought versions are ruinously expensive. You can make your own, including printing one side with chess symbols. Other outdoor games are also popular at family gatherings.

Sexism in children often begins with toys. It leads to false assumptions, such as girls aren't good at sports. This creates challenges for girls in school and professional leagues. Of course women can play ball! It's important to promote sexual equality early.

Tomboys are girls who aren't like other girls, but have more in common with boys. It's a perfectly good point on the gender expression spectrum. This is one reason why Sloane and Huckleberry are so close. Understand how to be a tomboy or raise one.

Pitching exercises include some of the same tricks in football and baseball. Tires or tire swings are great for both.


Games that use a checkerboard include Archimedes, Fission, and Crazyhouse. You can get a book of more chessboard games. In local-America, Martian Chess is played with pieces called Looney Pyramids. In Terramage-America, a similar source of wacky games is the company Merry Makers, and Martian Chess is played with tuubz which are nesting cylinders. You can get more rules for pyramid games too.

Tuubz is a game system produced by Merry Makers. It consists of plastic tubes with a sealed hollow at one end to hold a marble. Each tuub can fit over a marble of its own size or smaller, and a larger tuub can fit over a smaller tuub even if the smaller one has its marble on top. A tuub is stable by itself with either the open or the closed end upward, when covering a smaller marble, or when balancing a marble of any size on its closed top. (Game rules may make some of these moves illegal, though.) Compare the nesting function with Gobblet. A cache consists of three tuubz (large, medium, small) with their matching marbles, in a single color. The original colors were all translucent: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, smoke, and clear. A later edition of opaque Tuubz added blood, jasper, butter, grass, turquoise, aubergine, black, and white. Limited editions of Tuubz have been made from wood, metal, and semiprecious stones.

It takes at least two caches of different colors to play most of the games, and some require more. More games may be played by adding a standard grid as for chess or checkers, or a hex grid. Others use maps, as the Tuubs make excellent markers for area-control games. While some of the game boards have been made of cardboard or wood, most Tuubz games have a board of heavy-duty plastic so it can be rolled up around the pieces. A few deluxe versions have used leather boards instead. Compact storage is a selling point of the game system. Tuubz pieces may also be used to play other games such as tic-tac-toe, Chinese checkers, or nine men's morris.

Potlucks are part of Nebraska history. Know how to host a good potluck. Bacon-wrapped Hamburgers, Ham Casserole, Dandelion Salad, Creamy Sweet Potatoes, Smoky Baked Beans, Cornbread, Rhubarb Crunch, and Sparkling Lemonade are some good options.

Food tastes typically change as people age. There are tips for exploring new foods.

Family ties create a sense of connection, belonging, place, and especially continuity over time. This is also true in family businesses. There are ways to strengthen family ties and maintain them over distance. Here is a workbook on family ties for children.

Committed relationships can evoke ambivalent feelings. Think about whether you are ready for one, because it takes time and work to build a long-term relationship. Stan and Lawrence actually decided years ago to be a regular part of each other's lives. It's just taking them a while to recognize that, articulate it, and work out exactly what kind of relationship that's going to be. They aren't even pushing the sex side very hard -- at this point it's basically a romantic friendship with some erotic fantasies.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-07 06:20 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Lawrence opened the lid and then slammed it shut.
"There are dead birds in there!" he exclaimed.

Aww, poor Lawrence! I shouldn't laugh at his reaction, but it is kind of funny. Getting "fresh chickens" from someone who raises them isn't like waiting for the poultry delivery at the grocery store!

Stan seems to have settled into accepting his bisexuality pretty comfortably, especially given how confused he was when he first started thinking about it. I'm impressed.

Okay, so obviously Mason and Miranda are not Jenna and Gabriel's children, and I'm guessing they belong to one of Jenna's sibs. Are their parents present? And how has nobody taught Mason not to use bigoted slurs yet? Because if I had a kid who was being a bully at age 10, he sure as hell would have been taught better by age 16!

I'm glad Lawrence's experience of a large family gathering was better than mine. Not that people picked on me or anything, but I was definitely an odd one out, even though I went in determined to be friendly. Everybody else already knew each other, and they weren't interested in talking to people who didn't belong. And that was my mother's family.

Social food

Date: 2015-06-07 07:12 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
Potlucks (or potlatches) seem to be pretty common across rural and semi-urban America. Find a church or other community social group, and you're likely to find a potluck. Scouting groups often have one for special occasions, for example.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-07 08:39 am (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
*happy sigh* I like this poem. So much.

I love Lawrence's little realisation about family and how it starts off still slightly messed-up because he's not used to thinking about family as a good and positive thing. And I adore that he called Chatura for advice and that they invited her along. But I think it says so much about how Lawrence has grown that his response to worrying about the potluck is asking a friend for help. <3 And Chatura suggesting Stan helps them cook. I love that, seeing the three of them tentatively become friends with one another. It's only a little bit of interaction between Lawrence and Chatura here, but it's already so different from (what I remember) it being wen you first introduced their friendship. (Also Lawrence is taking the dead chickens probably better than I would. In some ways, I am definitely a city-born person.)

I love Stan's approach to trouble-solving in this as well as Lawrence looking up averages. It's such a small thing to do, but it's so incredibly Lawrence and it looks like it results in something that means a lot to Huckleberry. I hope someone thinks to point that positive effect out to Lawrence because I'm not sure he's at a point where he realises how much impact something like that can have on a person yet.

His hand came up to pull the silvery strands
behind his shoulders as if that would make them
any less obvious. He really should've dyed it.

Says a lot that this is the thing that makes him visibly uncomfortable at the gathering. I know Stan introducing him did a bit too, but he brought that one up with Stan after a while. He doesn't try to discuss that people noticing him like Miranda does is something he's not quite comfortable with (yet).

Stan just chuckled and transferred
the boy over to himself instead.

Lookit Lawrence handling that well. I recall when Sloane pounced him unexpectedly. *waves her Team Lawrence flag* <3

Stan's answering smile was
sunshine and picnics
and home.

And this gives me all the happy, fluffy joyful tears.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-07 09:42 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] lone_cat
I wouldn't be surprised if Lawrence isn't used to someone who's never seen him before noticing his hair and responding positively.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2015-06-07 08:24 pm (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
He also has no clue that they're welcoming him not just for Stan's sake, but for his own sake.

Not surprised. He doesn't have tools to recognise that yet. It'll take time for him to realise that there's a whole bunch of people out there who'd want to welcome him into their lives for him. He's very self-aware and strong in a lot of ways, but this is still a blind spot for him because it's just too different from what he'd used to.

I'm glad that comes through. The changes are important. Lawrence is used to getting answers by looking them up, not through social connections, so it's a huge step for him.

So very important. You were worried about this not coming through? Why? Maybe if someone didn't remember enough of the previous poems, but I thought it was pretty obvious and... somewher in between unexpected and expected. I wasn't expecting him to call for help until after trying to look something up first.

Me, I had a hard time not licking my fingers. I was ravenous by the time we were done. I find animals appetizing.

I'm glad you enjoyed it and (presumably) enjoyed the lamb itself when it was ready too. ^_^

I think Lawrence will figure it out come Thanksgiving or so, when Huckleberry is on a team and trilling about her pitching prowess and moaning about how hard it is to get the rest of her skills up to game standard.

*squeals with happy*

It slips in necessary information without being conspicuous about it.

Sneaky Stan is sneaky again. I love seeing sneaky Stan. <3

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2015-06-07 08:51 pm (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
Lawrence probably won't realize this until someone in Stan's family asks him for help and when Lawrence mentions getting Stan, the response is, "This is really more your area of expertise than his." At which point he will drop his brain.

I hope Stuart'll be around for that one. Lawrence's going to need someone to catch his brain and from what I've seen Stuart's probably the most likely to understand why his brain dropped and where it's dropping to.

On the other hoof, he managed to find targeting scores for pitchers, which I couldn't turn up.

He likes numbers, though, and numbers like him. His Google-fu maybe learns more towards finding mathematically oriented things than yours does? Or possibly Terramagne has some reason the information is more easily found.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2015-06-08 07:21 pm (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
They might not be raw target scores, but these are per-game scores for pitchers.: Game score and pitching score... and MLB Top Pitching Performances - 2015 My Google fu is also good. I tried two searches, the second being "pitching scores".

Edited (Clarifying sentence) Date: 2015-06-08 07:24 pm (UTC)

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2015-06-08 07:14 pm (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
Speaking of misgendering, the only people I'd known thus far by the name "Mackenzie" were all girls. So I mistook him for a girl instead of a boy when the name came up.

Hard to give feedback on this one today!

Date: 2015-06-07 06:26 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Mostly because I have been forcing myself to NOT chase the links like a happy wanderer, due to the sheer number of other tasks to finish today

But... Yeah, Lawrence has a much better experience than I did at a family gathering. Everywhere I went, people either insisted I was "So-an-so's friend, brought along for the day," or very, very specifically "that stepdaughter." Just seeing that someone COULD have a better time than I did as an outsider makes very old, very bad memories fade a little bit more.

That summer, that family gathering, was when I decided a great many things about the way I eventually raised my own kids, even though they arrived more than a decade later.

Lawrence, instead of being shut out, finds people who want to include him, and want to help him. He doesn't even see how much doing the same for Huckleberry will change HER summer, and later years!

Re: Hard to give feedback on this one today!

Date: 2015-06-07 09:22 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Young people can be clumsy about social interactions, but when that happens, somebody else steps in to say, "Hey, that's not okay, be nice." They don't just ignore it and let it keep happening. Those things make a huge difference in the experience that people have.

This is one of the things I like best about your writing. You show mistakes. You show people giving examples of how to FIX the mistake, and suggesting ways to avoid repeating it.

PLUS, you show people who don't always have the tools they need to begin with as very different than someone being deliberately dense or cruel. Someone who's being insensitive because they lack social skill isn't /punished/ the way someone who is acting like a bigot would be--the simplest punishment is to withdraw opportunities to socialize.

Re: Hard to give feedback on this one today!

Date: 2015-06-07 11:05 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Mason may be upset that he "looked bad" in front of Stan. That's something to explore, too, a different kind of rivalry/friendship dynamic between guys.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-08 04:51 pm (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb

I love this so much. It feels like a big step in their relationship, as well as a big step for Lawrence, personally. I like Stan's family. Most of them. Mason, he doesn't seem cruel, or mean, just clueless. I hope he gets the clues he needs. Landon seems more problematic.

This reminds me, a little, of the family reunions we used to have when I was younger. We always left early, because it only remained this nice for a short time. There're reasons why I don't associate with most of my extended family.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-09 02:32 am (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
Oh, much love for this.

Considering my family's being a big ball of hurt right now, it's really nice to read this sort of thing. I think I'll go back through the Antimatter/Stalwart Stan thread for a bit.

Thank you.

Re: You're welcome!

Date: 2015-06-09 03:41 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
*hugs* Thanks.

>>I think the world needs more comfort reading. I had another request for it this session so I was happy to write some.<<

You're becoming my favorite source for comfort reading - I'm glad you like writing it. :)

Re: You're welcome!

Date: 2015-06-10 02:21 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
Thanks. n_n

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-07 01:23 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
I loved this -- we never had real family gatherings, but we usually got about 50 people at our (roughly quarterly) potluck parties. Cooking for a crowd is fun!

Thank you!

Date: 2015-06-07 02:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I have been to a few family gatherings. Not a great deal of fun for me as I had so little in common with the people there, but in a well-meshed family it can work great. I suspect that most of the people at the ones I attended enjoyed themselves a lot more than I did, having more in common with each other.

I have also been to a bunch of other big gatherings, and some of those had more fun and camaraderie. Frankly one school's annual rocket launch felt a LOT like a family gathering to me -- we really had that sense of timebinding, especially because a few of us who started the club later came back to judge after we graduated. My description and handling of large potlucks is heavily influenced by a couple examples of well-done funerary feasts and a whole lot of pig roasts and teachers' picnics.

So I was able to put together the right flavor from bits and pieces of separate experience. I'm glad it worked.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2015-06-07 02:34 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
It did. A lot of my experience of potlucks was formed during my SCA days; we had a good-sized household and usually managed to put together a good spread.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2015-06-07 02:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I have been to some utterly delightful SCAdian feasts.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-07 05:20 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (Default)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
Now I'm hungry.

•Aung San Suu Yuki
> I've never seen the fourth component as anything other than "Kyi". See https://www.google.com/search?num=20&q=aung+san+suu

Thank you!

Date: 2015-06-07 05:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Now I'm hungry. <<

Hence the recipes. :D

>> •Aung San Suu Yuki
> I've never seen the fourth component as anything other than "Kyi". See <<


(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-07 10:01 pm (UTC)
ext_3294: Tux (Default)
From: [identity profile] technoshaman.livejournal.com
You and endings again. :)

I remember the first big family gathering I got drug to as a boyfriend.... it was a big overwhelming. And, as it later turned out, these weren't my people.... oh so very not.

The wedding last month, on the other hand... just about everyone there was `ohana to one or the other of us, and several of "her" folks became "our" people by the time all was said and done... and by the time my folks left two days later, the same thing had happened the other direction.

I could really get used to that. :)


Date: 2015-06-07 11:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> You and endings again. :) <<

Aww, shucks. :)

>> I remember the first big family gathering I got drug to as a boyfriend.... it was a big overwhelming. And, as it later turned out, these weren't my people.... oh so very not. <<

Well, better to find out sooner than later.

>> The wedding last month, on the other hand... just about everyone there was `ohana to one or the other of us, and several of "her" folks became "our" people by the time all was said and done... and by the time my folks left two days later, the same thing had happened the other direction. <<

Yay! A good marriage is a union between families, not just individuals. I am happy for you.

>> I could really get used to that. :) <<

So mote it be.

I think that's a lot of what makes Stan's family gathering so successful. These people are 'ohana and happy to pull in anyone else who wants to join the fun. Enough of them know how to make new connections that it's easy for a new person to find someone to yak with or join a game or whatever floats their boat. Anyone drifting off to the corners will eventually be checked on to see if they really want space or if they're just having trouble finding someone to connect with.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-08 02:07 pm (UTC)
eseme: (Default)
From: [personal profile] eseme
All I am seeing on LJ mobile is the notes section, no poem. Is there a link to Dreamwidth?

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-08 06:39 pm (UTC)
eseme: (Default)
From: [personal profile] eseme
Thank you! On LJ mobile, the page starts with the notes on pitching exercises!

I enjoyed that one, I like seeing the good family dynamics.

You're welcome!

Date: 2015-06-08 06:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I'm glad you liked the poem. I have no idea why it is misreading on LJ mobile. 0_o


ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

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