The Knitting Elf

Monday, August 07, 2006

The "good" reunion

As the good family reunion didn't have anywhere near as much drama, and was two days shorter, I have considerably less entertaining material to work with. So I'd like to apologize in advance for the relative dullness of this post. It's also kinda long.....opps.

Day 1 - Thursday
We (my family and I, with the exception of Sister, who stayed home with a friend because she wanted to go to a church activity instead) of course didn't leave home till much later then planned but we managed to arrive before dark and just in time for dinner. I couldn't eat most of what was served (for dinner everybody brings something and we all share) but Mum made some excellent chicken salad and somebody brought a bunch of fresh fruit. Ooo and I roasted some coconut marshmallows, mmmmmm they're regular marshmallows covered in shredded coconut; soooooo good!!

After dinner Daddy and I set up the tent and figured out where everybody was going to sleep and I approached Aunt Crafty about teaching me to tat in the morning to which she happily agreed (yay!!). We all sat around the campfire and chatted (I worked on a sample of an 8-strand braid I've been messing around with); at about 1 I went to sleep.

The place we pitched our tent was quite close to the creek and the sound of the water kept me awake for most of the night till I got out my CD player (Sting - Mercury Falling; if you must know) though I still didn't sleep very well.

Day 2 - Friday
I woke up at 5:30 and laid in my sleeping bag enjoying being warm (it wasn't too cold but I was feeling all warm and snuggly in my sleeping bag). I finally got out of bed around 6-6:30 and sat by the fire to watch my Uncles make breakfast.

Cooking is something Mum's side of the family loves and does really well. They especially love Dutch oven cooking and do a lot of it when camping. Our traditional breakfast is called "Mountain Man Breakfast". It's comprised mostly of eggs but also has a lot of cheese, bacon, potatoes, onions, sausage, and peppers. I wasn't sure if it would be gluten-free* or not but I didn't care; you cannot go camping with that side of the family and not eat "Mountain Man Breakfast", it just doesn't work. At times, it's almost like eating "Mountain Man Breakfast" is the reason people come to the reunion, it's that good. My Uncles also love making Dutch oven cobbler. On the first night at dinner they made apple cobbler and peach cobbler....I couldn't have any. *sob*

Anyways; so I watched them make breakfast. Like I said, we had "Mountain Man Breakfast"; we also had fruit and pancakes. Uncle Hot-Cakes always make the pancakes and when he's ready to serve them he says (at the top of his voice, which is considerably loud) "HOT cakes!! Come and get your HOT cakes!!". He does it every year and Cousin Runs-a-lot (his daughter) says he never makes pancakes at home, but he sure loves making them at our family reunion :o) When we were at the dreaded reunion we also had pancakes for breakfast but brother (keep in mind that he's only 5 years old) was so confused; he kept telling me that they forgot to say "HOT cakes!!" heehee :o) Uncle Hot-Cakes was also feeling a bit silly; every time Aunt Cleans-a-lot (his wife) would walk by he'd shout "HOT wife!!" :oD

After breakfast Aunt Crafty started teaching me to tat. She's attempted teaching me a few other times but I never really caught on till now. It only took maybe an hour till she was confident I could do it by myself (success at last!!)!! Over the next couple of hours I worked at it and slowly improved; I had to run and find her about every 10-20 minutes to ask if I was doing something right or have her remind me how to do it properly. She'd patiently show me how to do it/answer my question and watch me for a minute or two to make sure I understood.

This year it was Uncle Techno's turn to plan the reunion and he brought a couple of activities for the kids to do. They did something called "diving for dollars"; there was a big pile of sawdust that had about $10 in change hidden in it and on "GO" all the kids dove in and started looking for money. I don't think they found all of it; after awhile they got bored collecting dimes, nickels, and pennies and just started having a sawdust fight :o) Uncle Techno also brought a candy gun (it's like a mini cannon). You stuff it with candy, light the fuse, and it shoots it's contents into the air so when it all comes down it's raining candy (every child's dream)!! We shot it off twice but then someone from the host campground came and informed us that it was illegal and if we did it again she would call the police.

Another thing we always do is jigsaw puzzles. This year we only did one (we usually do 2-4) but it was pretty big. It had a bunch of Looney Toons characters all over it! I worked on that off and on through the day, alternating between that and working on my shawl (which I finally figured out where I made a mistake, the last time I had to rip back I didn't put my stitch markers in the right place so I only thought I was missing a stitch).

I also took a short walk so I could take a few pictures. We go to this same camp site almost every year so I revisited all the places I used to play as a kid. At one point by the creek there's a wooden bridge that I liked to play under. We (meaning the cousins around my age and I) used to find the coolest pebbles there (lots of different colors!) and trade them, or pretend they were money for other games. We also used to try to build a dam; it never worked but we had a great time getting extremely wet and muddy :o) There's a campsite with a cement platform to put your tent on (which I never understood, wouldn't you want to stake it down??) and we'd pretend it was a stage and make up plays or have talent shows. And there's a volley ball court that has a mix of sand and dirt that was perfect for sand castles and mud pies (or just getting extremely muddy, which we always liked to do). If you walk up stream in the creek, there's a little island made of small rocks and pebbles that was our "raft" as we "sailed down the river". And there used to be a tree that fell down across the creek that made a great log bridge (We'd pretend it was suspended over a huge ravine and we had to get across as fast as we could because there was a bear chasing us, I was never the fastest one but I was in the top 5).

That night I had Dutch oven potatoes (cubed and roasted with bacon, mmmm), bean salad, fruit, and cooked vegetables (cabbage, and cauliflower). There was also potato salad, some sausages (I had a bite of Daddy's; a bit disappointing as it was more like a hot dog :oP), chocolate chip cookies, some jello fruity stuff, and cake. My Uncles also "Dutch ovened" more cobbler (chocolate cherry, my favorite), turkey, baked beans, and some pork but I wasn't sure if they were safe :o(

After dinner we sat around the fire and sang. I've always hated singing by the fire (we never sing anything good) but it means a lot to my Grandmother so I do it anyways. Music is one of the only things my Grandmother responds to anymore; she has dementia. She doesn't know my name anymore, and the only conversation that goes on is her telling you how much she loves you and her family (I love my family, I love you love you love you, I love all my children and grandchildren, etc.). Last time I saw her she still knew my name....It was a huge shock when she didn't know it (she still knows I'm her granddaughter though). It's been so hard watching her get worse and worse. We used to be very close.

After most everybody went to sleep (around 11), Cousin Runs-a-lot and I went up to the (paved) parking lot, laid down in the middle of it, and watched the stars. I am very much a city girl. But the one thing I always miss is the stars. I think we laid there in the middle of the lot for 3 hours. We talked and swapped jokes/corny pickup lines :o) Then we sat against a car and talked some more. I don't think I went to bed till around 5.

Day 3 - Saturday
I woke up at 6 and enjoyed being warm again :o) We had "Mountain Man Breakfast" again :o)

After breakfast everybody started packing up; around 10 we had a family meeting where we tried to work out a schedule for us to help give Grandpa a break from taking care of Grandma. When you hear the same comment (I love you) every 5 minutes it starts to wear you down. Grandpa never gets any time to himself because Grandma just follows him around asking what he's doing/what he'd like her to do. The idea is, each family would have a week where they would do a couple of activities with Grandma so Grandpa can have some time to himself and do things he enjoys. I always feel bad talking about someone in front of them; Grandma didn't know or understand what we were talking about, and even if she did she wouldn't remember it 5 minutes from now, but it still felt really awkward/rude discussing this stuff with her sitting right there.

Around 1 we finished packing up and started for home. I tatted and listened to music on the way home (Bright Eyes, Natasha Bedingfield, Eminem, fan_3, and Snoop Dogg). When we got home I promptly took a shower. It feels good to be clean again :o)

So all in all I guess it sounds like it was a bit on the boring side (esp. when you compare it to the dreaded reunion) but I really did have a blast! It was smaller this year, not as many people were able to make it. When I was young(er) I always had lots of cousins to play with but now they're all married and wrapped up in their own lives/families. Which is how it should be, I believe that once you bring a child into this world, they should be receiving most of your attention; but I missed having them all there. Cousin Runs-a-lot is a lot of fun, but it's just not the same; I don't think we would've spent as much time together if Sister had come(they're the same age and best friends). And I don't mean to imply that I was glad Sister didn't come, she's gets really hyper at night and it would've been more fun to have her there as we swapped jokes in the parking lot :o)

*My gluten-free worries were not about the ingredients, but about the cookware. Sometimes residual traces of gluten can be found on certain kinds of cookware that have been previously used to make something containing gluten.


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