Sunday, July 10, 2011

Independence Weekend Part 2

Ugh....got a tad waylaid by a particularly nasty sinus infection for a few days. Sounds a bit whiny, but when every swallow feels like choking down broken glass; writing about anything centering around food was feeling a little less....inspired.

That said, I have been derelict in my duty in reporting the latest on our friend Carolyn. Her and Jim's local friends all keep up on the 411 thanks to Jim's Facebook posts. My own illness has kept me from visiting them this week and as this is an extremely busy time for Keith, he hasn't been able to visit as much either. Kiko keeps us abreast of how she's doing and Jim has added Carolyn to CaringBridge, a wonderful website that connects family and friends of a patient. Many of you have asked me about Carolyn and even if you haven't met her; you can enter her name...Carolyn Schutte.. and offer best wishes on this site. CaringBridge allows you to not only offer wishes but also monitor her progress. Her husband Jim manages the journal part of her site and his own writings on the progress of her recovery are a riveting read. Jim's a brilliant researcher and has, in his time, been an archaeologist and scientist. He writes of the "zebra hunt" of uncovering the true mystery of her affliction. A heart attack has been ruled out, the vaccinations she received in preparation for an upcoming African vacation have come into question and her lupus may be coming into play as well. Reading his posts are like reading a thrilling scientific mystery novel that suddenly catches you by the throat when you remember that the patient is his treasured wife. Indeed, she continues to offer continued glimmers of hope: improved reactions to stimuli, movements that connote a seemingly strong desire to sit up and speak and these actions, for once, were in full view of her doctors. She is being weaned off the respirator this week and is already accomplishing this at a rapid pace. Some of our friends have seen fit to remind us to be realistic and are merely concerned for our own welfare when doing so. We appreciate the thoughts and trust me, none of us have ever forgotten that their are many possible outcomes to Carolyn's recovery and not all of them happy ones. We have chosen and continue to choose to surround her with positive thoughts, prayer and energy and do everything we can to stimulate her healing and keep the negative at bay.

Also, when last I posted, I was kicking off a series of posts regarding our Fourth of July weekend and as a week has now passed, it seems a bit dated, so I will offer a briefer description. It was the night of July 3rd, as this was the night the Elms would host the town's fireworks display. The original plan was for Jim and Carolyn to host the holiday party and oddly, their beautiful home remained the locale for the evening. The party had, at one point, been moved to the poolside setting of Kiko's home but lingering summer storms threatened, so Jim quite graciously offered up his home once again. Jim himself would not be in attendance at first as he remained at Carolyn's bedside. It was decidedly disconcerting throughout the evening as Jim didn't actually arrive until late but the Posse is indeed like extended family and Jim's son DJ was in from college so I didn't feel like a complete interloper in their home...but it still felt odd nonetheless. That odd feeling would become a sheen that colored the entire evening; not in a negative way but it all seemed a bit surreal.

When K and I landed at their home, friends Carl and Charlotte brought in a mixture of white sage, cedar and braided sweetgrass to perform a Native American ritual of "cleansing" the house of the negative. The sage cleanses, the cedar and sweetgrass bind and protect. From that auspicious kickoff to the kitchen as Cooking Central; more Posse members arrive, more food is brought and soon there are literally eight people cooking in various areas. Kiko's whipping up a zesty bean dip. Bunchie brings her luxurious mac n' cheese and then starts preparing homemade chips for the dip and later sautes some sweet-looking scallops. Kiko brings fresh kale from her bountiful gardens and bakes them with olive oil to create healthy chips that taste like almost like popcorn. Carl and Mike man the grille and it's constantly evolving items....juicy steaks, salmon, asparagus, corn on the cob, etc. Marinated veggies, Asian slaw and our meager potato salad were also included and in the end, it was an embarrassment of riches. Outside of some of the more offbeat elements, it was not unlike an event with some of Keith's family. Everyone takes on a role and somehow it all come together, although the family get-togethers seem much more structured. The Posse's group cooking is very entertaining, barely controlled chaos.

We left en masse for the Elms where we met up with Daphne, her husband Jim and son Colt and then proceeded to completely horn in on TJ and Cress's sweet viewing spot. The fireworks were duly spectacular and everyone cheered them on. We returned to Jim's to finally dig into our churning homemade ice cream. I'm quite thrilled to report that both the raspberry from the Alice Waters recipe and the vanilla were aces. In fact, Jim came home in time to enjoy some himself and DJ even said the raspberry triggered a childhood memory for him. Daphne and her family joined us and she brought a lemon-poppyseed cake with blueberries and raspberries. The cake was the appropriate patriotic colors.

Lest you think we had gone completely apple pie and American dream, pitchers of margaritas were soon poured, new guests arrived and a hookah pipe, of all things, appeared on the kitchen island and was being packed with flavored tobacco. After Jim updated us on Carolyn, K and I headed home; our minds a bit blown from our holiday with these never-boring folks. The Posse gets more interesting every time.

The next post will be about the actual Fourth. I actually worked, but the K-Man whipped up a fantastic meal that meets another Cookbook Challenge....

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