Friday, July 25, 2008
When we lived in Prince Rupert (on BC's north coast), and our kids were small, family and friends would make the long drive or fly up from the Vancouver area to visit. Then we moved to Vancouver Island (the big island, first, not our current smaller one which is off the "big island" -- follow?), we'd get Rupert friends visiting as well as family and friends from Vancouver. And, of course, as our children got older, there were always sleepovers. The house would be full, kids would be running in and out, we'd be changing bedding, doing laundry, hauling home bags and bags of groceries and making lasagnas and spaghetti, hamburgers on the grill, huge bowls of caesar salad, big loaves of garlic bread designed to fill those ever-hungry stomach, and as tiring as I found it all, I loved it! I loved the kind of extending visiting that you do that way, as you put a meal together, as the kids eventually concede exhaustion and hit the sleeping bags one by one, as you nurse the last glasses of wine before you do the same, and then the next day with coffee as you whip up a big batch of pancakes. Some of my best memories ever are of days like that at a friend's cabin at Lakelse Lake near Terrace, and I loved being able to pass along some of that spirit-of-summer hospitality myself.
Here at our beachside home we've been able to do quite a bit of that as well, especially during the earlier years. For almost a decade now, though, Pater's done a commuting thing, first to Ottawa for several years (now that was a long commute!) and for the last four or five years, he's been working in Vancouver. Much of our social energy gets diverted by the need to prioritize good couple time, especially since his work is pretty stressful. As well, his is a job where I can't always count on him getting home Friday night should something come up. Summer's especially intense in his field, and there can often be some kind of crisis to field over a weekend. We do still try to have friends over for dinner enough so that they don't completely forget us, but until retirement, our social life is on that proverbial back burner. Lately, because it's been perfect weather on the island, I've been rather missing all that summer-guest action (even while I know perfectly well I'd get cranky if I got too much of it).
So I was quite tickled this week to answer the phone one afternoon and hear my nephew Chris announce that he and 3 buddies were at Horseshoe Bay, ready to catch a ferry to come see me. And they seemed pretty receptive to my offer to feed them and provide a place to crash -- Chris knows he has a standing offer with me of a homemade blackberry pie, but he hasn't taken me up on it for years, way out in Edmonton as he is. I hustled into town, happily hauling back bags and bags of food (way too much, it turned out), then roasting chickens (such an easy way to feed a crowd), and more roasting -- new potatoes for a big salad, and the standby garlic bread, and a big Greek salad, and I got the pie made (no, this year's berries aren't ready yet, but I try to keep some of last year's in the freezer 'til the new guys arrive).
They were perfect guests -- considerate, appreciative, and convivial, and I enjoyed the opportunity to practise my summer hosting skills. This weekend, I'll get a chance to use them again, although the guests are all immediate family. It's the double birthday today -- Happy Birthday Bronwen and Zachary -- and Paul's birthday is early next week AND it's Bathtub weekend here which is a big deal in Nanaimo, so my crew are all coming home, three of my kids with two of their partners. I'm heading off soon to get their favourite artisan sausages for the barbeque and to pick up the secret ingredients for the favourite family birthday cake.
We'll be missing one daughter, though, so it won't be the perfect summer weekend it could be. But now that she's started up her blog again, we can at least see what she's doing far off in Toronto. Call me a proud mama, but I get such a kick out of the way she writes up her adventures. Here, for example, is what she says about a recent hair crisis:
I am a cook, who loves butchery and can testify in court that the woman who "cut" my hair must also share the same passion. She did a real hack job. My hair was neither long nor short. If I had been a male in the mid eighties, I would have done well with the ladies as my new mullet screamed business in the front, party in the back!!!!
What about you? Any summer guests this weekend? Or are you stuck in the city wishing you could be a summer guest? Are guests and summer a good combination for you or are they instead a recipe for crankiness? Do tell . . .