Sunday, December 31, 2006

The New Year's Tradition of Wayfarer House

Every year we’ve been married, Wifeness and I have celebrated our anniversary* by hosting a party. We open the house, invite everyone (most people know that the invitation is standing from year to year), talk, laugh, play and connect with all the people who touch our lives in so many wonderful and special ways. This is the twelfth Wayfarer Open House, and over the years a certain routine has been established. Let me take you through the entire event, so you get a sense of things:

New Year’s Eve

Wayfarer House is open. Occasionally, people arrive earlier than this, which is wonderful, but it is understood by those not covered under the 3-times rule that they will be asked to help clean and prep the house to receive the 30-odd guests we’ll have during the evening.

Families with children usually arrive at this time, to make sure the kids get to take part in things before it gets too late. Many of the people who stay the night come around this time as well.


The buffet comes out. This year, the house serves cream of broccoli soup and panini, accompanied by a scrumptious assortment of pot-luck offerings. Those staying over will not want to eat heavily tonight. Fatty’s Diner is open tomorrow!


The kids take over the house. The adults hide in the corners, hoping their children will play hard now and sleep well tonight.


The kids run out of gas. The wise parents will take their leave. The kids who are staying over will be plunked down in front of the television to get some downtime.

The adult crowd will start trickling in about now.


Fun time! What we do depends on who is here. Last year, we played Apples to Apples. In years past, Dick Clark would sometimes play in the background. Who knows if people will want to hear Carson Daly.


We all go outside, huddle together in the cold and quietly count down to the New Year. It’s a special, cozy moment, and it truly starts the next year off in a beautiful way.

New Year’s Day

Some will stay up. Some will go home. Some will say “to hell with it” and go to bed. Even though I have to get up early to open Fatty’s, I usually choose the first option.


Fatty’s Diner, the fictional eatery of Wayfarer House, is open for business! For those of you who don’t know, Fatty’s is the brainchild of Uncle Bubba. It has always been Uncle Bubba's dream to run a restaurant that served only food that tastes wonderful, regardless of the fat or caloric content. Wayfarer House is proud to support this endeavor, and has hosted Fatty's each year since its inception. Every year the menu is different, but it is always comprehensive and inevitably includes the kind of food that would make Jenny Craig run screaming to the nearest health club--French toast, biscuits and sausage gravy, grits, eggs, bacon, homefries, bagels with cream cheese, scones, cereal, oatmeal and coffee by the gallon.

Fatty’s is only open for one meal a year--New Year's Day Brunch, and Uncle Bubba is its head chef. Family, friends and guests who show up for Wayfarer House's annual New Year's Eve party and stay overnight get the added bonus of an early seat at Fatty's, where they can linger over the best of the smorgasbord in their pajamas. Others arrive throughout the morning, sampling offerings as they are prepared hot off the grill and enjoying the energy of a house rich with love and the smells of hearth and home.

This year, sadly, Uncle Bubba will be unable to see his tradition off the ground. I will act again as his humble replacement, with Wifeness and others acting as co-chefs. We promise to do you proud, Bubba!


Fatty’s has closed for another year, and people are usually on their way home. After all, people need to start gearing up for work the next day. For us at Wayfarer House, it’s mostly a matter of putting the furniture back where it was and making sure the leftovers go home with someone. We will have community dinner later, but for now, it’s chill time.

* More on my anniversary in the next post.

The 3-times rule

I get odd looks from people whenever I talk about this. It is in many respects quite different from the way many people run their own houses, so I can understand how it might need a little explanation.  Here goes...

The Wayfarer House 3-times Rule

The first three times you visit Wayfarer House you are considered a formal guest. As a guest, you are offered food and drink when you arrive, and you will be fully cared for during your visit and extended every courtesy. After this period of time, you are usually considered family and, therefore, extended all the rights and responsibilities of any familial member of Wayfarer House. Among these are the following:

The right to get it yourself. If you know where stuff is, you don’t need to ask. If you don’t know where it is, you can go searching for it.

The right to come and go as you will. For chrissake, stop standing and knocking at the damn door! Knock once if you want, but come in, already! Notice is usually given if we’re closed but and easy way to tell is to simply try the door. If the door is locked, we’re not home. If you know where the key is and you need to get in, use it.

The flip side to this right is that, if you are under the protection of the House and you go off on an adventure, you must always tell someone where you're and when you'll be back, so as not to worry anyone. The reason for this will be told someday, but suffice it to say that it was established for cause.

The right to use the equipment and facilities of the House. If you need it and we have it, ask. If we can, we’ll give it.

The responsibility to protect the sanctity and safety of the House and its family. You are looking out for more than just yourself now. You are part of a large and caring family, every member of which expects to feel supported, loved, and respected for themselves when they are here. Share of yourself freely, but don’t bring negativity into this place unless it’s to seek help in working through it.

The responsibility to be part of the life and culture of Wayfarer House. This means the big things like teaching the children about good ways to be and guiding us all with your wisdom, but it includes the mundane stuff, too. Trust us, there’s always some way to contribute around here and the only way we keep this thing going well is to have everyone help when and how they can.

The responsibility to keep coming. You’re family. We miss you when you’re not around! However long you’ve been away, whatever has happened in your life--good or bad--we love you and will welcome you with open arms.

Some notes about the 3-times rule:
• You can opt past the 3-times rule at any time. If you actually go and get something yourself, you’ve as much as said you’d like to be considered family; we will consider you such from then on.

• Anyone who sleeps over is automatically considered family. This is not a hotel.

• No one is required to accept the standing of family member at Wayfarer House. We’ve never really had it happen, but it would be presumptive not to say that you don’t have to join the fun if you don’t want to.

• This standing is not automatically granted to everyone who visits. If there’s a question in your mind, ask, but you will know if it’s not extended to you.

• People of venerable age or status are exempt from the 3-times rule.  They are always treated as honored guests, though they are still considered family.

How does the 3-times rule fit with the way you do things in your world? What do you do that’s the same or similar? Do you do things differently? How so? I’d love to hear people’s responses to this, if they’re willing to post them!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

So, I’m asleep on the couch, dreaming...

OK, the fact that I am asleep on the couch is not uncommon. I often stay up well past midnight and, when I get tired, I just fall asleep wherever I find myself. That’s usually on the couch.

My wife has given up trying to get me to come to bed. She has employed all manner of coercion to convince me to move my sleeping to the traditional bedroom setting, but none have ever really been effective and so she has resigned herself to leaving me in the living room to whatever the fates will for me. I often wake up around 3am to find that she has closed down the house and gone to bed. I am left to navigate quietly through the darkness to take my place next to her, where I often find that she has taken her half out of the middle of the bed as revenge.

But I digress.

Let me start again: I’m dreaming. That’s the thing that’s important here. I don’t dream very often; at least, not so I remember it when I wake up. I’m just not terribly sensitive to my dreams. Every once in a while, though, I get one that’s vivid. Sometimes, they’re momentous, like the one where I learned my older daughter’s name--before she was born. Sometimes, they’re subconscious lessons for me. The following dream is neither of those:

I’m teaching in a traditional high school classroom. The desks all face toward the front. All the students are taking a test. I’m looking over their shoulders, and I can see that it is a multiple choice test. Then I look closer. It seems as though the answers to each of the questions on the test has a common answer.

The 16th president is…

a. Woodrow Wilson
b. Grover Cleveland
c. Abraham Lincoln
d. Ferguson J. Cat

The Civil War began in what year?

a. 1794
b. 1918
c. 1861
d. Ferguson J. Cat

This strikes me as odd because I cannot imagine why my cat would be listed as an answer on my test, but I convince myself that there must be some good reason for it. Maybe it’s some sort of twisted attempt to get a laugh out of the students. I’ve been known to do that.

I go back to looking over shoulders. As the class period goes along, I notice that the test is getting more and more strange.

The cubed root of 8 is…

a. 4
b. 2
c. Ferguson J. Cat
d. Ferguson J. Cat

Anchorage is the capital of…

a. Alaska
b. Ferguson J. Cat
c. Ferguson J. Cat
d. Ferguson J. Cat

The Earth is how many miles from the Sun?

a. Ferguson J. Cat
b. Ferguson J. Cat
c. Ferguson J. Cat
d. Ferguson J. Cat

What the hell??!?

My brain simply could no longer suspend its disbelief and I rose to the surface of consciousness.

It takes a moment for me to realize that Ferguson J. Cat is laying on top of me, her head tucked into my neck. She is stretched out all the way to my waist, basking in the relative warmth and comfort of me under the afgan.

Lesson of the day: Cats have the power to affect the subconscious.

Friday, December 29, 2006

I’m back.

I said I’d be back when grad school was done: It’s not done.

Not quite.

I’m close. Classes are done. I just have to compile material for my portfolio and finish my thesis. I say that like it’s a simple matter, but it’s not. Still, there is at least a pinhole of light at the end of the tunnel.

I should wait until I’m really done to start blogging again. I still have many miles to go before I sleep.

I just feel like I need to be back. I’ve missed this. I’ve discovered over the last year of this experiment that I get a lot out of writing, even if it’s mundane. It inspires me. It motivates me. I need that right now.

So, I’m back. I hope the wait wasn’t too long.