I spent three hyper-relaxed, pleasurable days in Logan, Utah with Bruce. We did all sorts of fun things: took a nice walk (see burdock burr decorations above), attended a garden party, and made visits to a couple different fun electrical supply stores. Friday evening, we drove out to Richmond and visited Stuart Smith (father of my friend Nate) whom I absolutely adore and the three of us stayed up swapping stories and outlandish opinions until 1:45 in the morning! Saturday evening Bruce and I played pool (complete with tattooed Midwestern thugs) and ate awesome pizza at a grungy local basement hang out called The Factory.
But the activity I'd arranged my schedule around as soon as I'd decided to stop in Logan and visit, was Sunday dinner at the Christiansen house. Almost as long as I've known of Bruce, somehow I've known about Bruce's family's regular weekly Sunday dinner. It's funny what you attend to, isn't it? I think the aspect that most appeals to me about Christiansen Sunday dinner is the very regularity with which it has unfolded all these years, probably because I've had so little consistency in my own life. I went to dinner prepared to absorb and replicate every little component ritual so I could fully inhabit the concept of regularity - well, as much as any pink haired woman might, I suppose.
At right, Bruce demonstrates one of the physics principles utilized in proper beverage service: optimal chilling of a soft drink over specially prepared ice. He makes it look so simple, doesn't he? But don't take this regular Sunday dinner stuff lightly, people! It is not nearly as easy as it looks, I assure you.
Following a whirlwind of activity in the well oiled machine of the Christiansen kitchen, a turkey breast, mashed potatoes made from scratch, brown gravy, green salad, sliced home grown tomatoes, sweet summer corn on the cob and freshly baked yeast rolls (drool!) were turned out onto the dinner table, ready for rapid deployment. After a brief discussion of where everyone should sit (I was an intervening variable, after all) we settled in and began the quiet ballet of serve, pass, serve, pass.
I watched Bruce carefully to see how he arranged, combined and ordered his meal. This was a ritual, after all, and I didn't want to be the dumb neophyte acolyte that dropped the chalice! Bruce puddled his potatoes and made a large caldera for gravy, which he neatly filled before dotting the rim of the crater with neat white turkey chunks. Because I am a heretic of sorts, I added salad (1000 island dressing) and sliced tomatoes to my plate. Bruce is a celebrated vegetable eschewer, so I had to wing this part of the procedure myself. Unfortunately, I think in the end analysis, I got a bit carried away with the turkey chunks, but then those of you that know me are aware of the fact that I've been known to overdo a thing or two before.
Dinner was absolutely delicious - I was just short of miserable when I finally gave up the ghost. I chatted with Bruce's mom Judy, as she neatly portioned the leftovers and stowed them away, item by item. We talked about travel and cooking and reading - it was great fun. I'm not sure if the boys were having brandy and cigars in the other room or not, but after awhile I shifted my locale and began watching the Harry Potter movie already in progress on the wide screen tee-vee in the family room. Just as things were getting hairy for Harry, Judy brought Pat (Bruce's father) and I a piece of apple pie with ice cream. It was almost like receiving the wafer and wine - the culmination of a great American family sacrament. After the movie magicked to a close, Judy packed the leftover yeast rolls in a Rubbermaid container for Bruce and I and we staggered back to our lodging just before midnight. Ahhh the rhythm of life. Sometimes the simplest melodies truly are the best. Thank you, Christiansens, one and all.