Clearly this is going to be one of those "long rambly posts" that doesn't get around to the core mission of the post (Epic Chef Day if you are forgetting) for awhile. See there are all these things I could update you on:
1. We redeemed Jason's soup by soaking chick peas in the broth to cook the following day and by adding a bunch of chicken and some cream that I had in the freezer waiting for such an occasion and then serving it stew-like over rice. Quite tasty with those modifications! Curry powder helped, too.
2. The peeping in the shells turned out many fine chicks but no turkeys. Maybe another time. Sadly when Jason checked the eggs after all that were going to hatch had, both turkeys had made it almost to hatch time but for some reason that we'll never know were not able to make it through the final push out of the egg.
3. The cicadas no longer seem so interesting, at least in a good way. The ducks and chickens still love them and I still find their various sounds intriguing, but the destruction they are causing makes it hard to feel very endeared to them. Next door our neighbors have spent months preparing for the blueberry crop only to have branches falling off bushes with half ripe berries on them where the cicadas have grooved the bark to implant their eggs. Jason has decided not to thin out the peaches on the trees yet, as there will be a natural, and possibly harsh, thinning from the cicadas.
Then there are all sorts of new things to comment on. Life has no dull moments in it. And I continue to feel in love with the piece of land we find ourselves living on and the people that I find myself living with. And as I hear snippets of news from across the globe, I struggle to know how to hold the joy that I feel in the life right around me with the sadness and anger and even despair that I feel as things seem to continue to unravel across the globe and also in the lives of some that I care deeply about. I keep thinking of a quote that was stated a few times this weekend in various conversations. It seems to resonate with how I have felt about a variety of things recently: "All of us are hanging by spit right now..." (Kinky Friedman)
But I won't choose to expand on that right now (as that would make this blog post even longer than it is already going to be).
We are spending a lot of time outside. If Alida had her way we would spend ALL of our time outside, getting as dirty as possible. And she makes that very clear anytime anyone goes outside without her, or keeps her from going out an open door, or brings her back in prematurely. Let's just say that even Jason noted the other day that he may have to take back his prediction that Alida was going to be more laid back/chilled out than Kali. This little gal can throw a tried and true fit - complete with pounding my chest if she is in my arms. But the flip side of that same coin is that she loves so sweetly - the way she leans in to give her daddy hugs is pure sweetness.
Jason is even making sure she gets some gardening under her belt this season. She helped to plant a little patch of amaranth that is sprouting nicely:
|Here she is checking the germination rate.|
|Not too bad!|
Now to get to the point of this post - we enjoyed a nice planned visit from Jason's sister, Christie, and a very spontaneous visit over part of the same time from most of the rest of Jason's family (the Benner spontaneity is almost as impressive as the Myers intensive over-planning). Jason's sister and her husband have started celebrating some holidays created by them. This visit fell right around the time to celebrate Epic Chef Day and so we were invited to take part. What fun! We may have to begin joining them in this celebration.
The menu included:
|Appetizer: Cahill's Irish Cheddar with Elderberry Wine served with homemade Whole Wheat Soda Crackers and some recently picked and canned Serviceberry Jam|
|Bread: Kali concocted a recipe for Oregano Orzo Garlic Roll-ups made with Lamb's Quarter Swiss Chard yeast rolls|
|Dessert: Icy Lemon-Mint Parfaits (with some of the last fresh strawberries)|
|Drink: Cucumber Water|
Mouths watering? It was scrumptious and fun and great for memory-making.
It was really special to have Christie with us for a number of days. Kali warmed up instantly and Alida sat on her lap for most of one book and came to her for help donning a glove (yes, she seems to have gotten obsessed with wearing gloves and mittens just when temps have risen into the 90's!). We both thought about how the last time we spent this much time together was almost exactly 4 years ago when she came to spend some time with us, helping with Kali, at UVA and ended up being the one with us when Nora died and in the hours/days immediately following. Her presence then was and now is a bright spot in our lives!
In just a few days we will remember (from the vantage point of the wonderful hills of West Virginia) the time of Nora's physical departure from us four years ago; another one of those times in life where we had to hold a whole lot of beauty and pain simultaneously. We've watched her garden bloom again this year and the butterfly weed is starting to blush orange as it always seems to do right on the anniversary. Jason has been working on the next phase of Nora's garden (the "water feature") and with some excellent help this weekend was able to get the concrete poured. Next comes digging/grading around the concrete and working on creating the stone benches. It's good to spend time there and we are all eager for it to very soon not be a child safety hazard but a place to play!
Okay, it will soon be morning and Alida has a very good head start on her night of sleep. I think I'll relieve Jason from chopping garlic scapes so he can read my ramblings before posting them!