We decided to mark this Columbus Day weekend by Having People In for the first time in our new digs. Actually, that's a complete lie.
We did Have People In - a whole two of them - but it was less out of a sense of holiday entertaining than it was that they have a cement bit for their drill, and we have a concrete wall on which pictures must be hung.
In any case, the only time that we could make work among our complicated schedules was Sunday morning, and so our friends The Retirees dropped by remarkably early yesterday morning, for what was defnitely breakfast rather than brunch. They are another Americo-Egyptian couple (there are a surprising number of us, really, once you start looking around) who have prospered in several small businesses, all of which they now have people running for them. I think I'm more jealous of them than almost anyone I know, even if they do have Weimeraners, which as everyone knows are the sweetest but dopiest dogs on this green earth. They're the canine equivalent of a particularly clumsy, tipsy great-aunt, the kind who habitually knocks over small tables after a Gimlet or four. Fortunately, they stayed home, as we do have more than our fair share of small, knockable tables.
Sadly, the strength of our wall - the barrier between us and the next door neighbors (and either they're entirely silent or it's an effective barrier at that) - defeated their best efforts, but that aside the morning was rather a triumph. It was a mixed bag of traditional foods. Egypt contributed a hearty plate of fateer, the deconstructed pastry that is more or less like flat, deconstructed croissants, served with honey, strong cheeses, and some of the Mister's trademark homemade jam. From our side of the water came a lovely bowl of fresh berries, eggs baked in avocado halves (which seems very Mamie Eisenhower, don't you think?), and a guilty pleasure. One of the few trashy processed foods I truly missed all those years living overseas was Entenmann's raspberry danish twist, and The Retirees are fortunately deeply non-pretentious, so I knew I could get away with buying one (and it was just as good as I remembered).
The prospect of guests had been a good impetus to finally tackle the living room, and now it stands more or less, if not complete, at least presentable. It's definitely not minimalist, but there is room to move around (yes, in my family, that counts as an achievement), and the various things from all the various sources seem to gel adequately well. My greatgrandmother's camel-back sofa (which has made its way here from my Dear Sister's library, a tale in itself for another time) mingles happily enough with the little red sideboard from Ghana, and the books form a backdrop marching almost all the way down one long wall. After all those years of furnished flats and houses, it's really rather odd to have a place that's all ours (last year's rental having always felt somehow improvised) - even almost disconcerting. Say what you will, it's all ours, and as an ensemble, I suppose it's all us, however far it may be from today's sleek Mid-Century Modern ideal.
So we may not yet have got that cement wall covered, but we have baptized the place and proven that we can manage guests even without the (still much-missed) services of Mrs. Galapatti-da Silva. And this morning I got to have some leftover raspberry danish. Life is good.