Saturday night, we took the birthday celebration to Excelsior Springs, first stopping off to for a hospital visit with Carolyn. Jim and the hospital have requested visits be somewhat quiet and brief and so we spent a few peaceful moments with our girl. We did as had been requested and re-introduced ourselves to her as we will every time we visit Carolyn until otherwise advised. She followed us with her eyes around the room and for that day; that movement will serve as our little victory. The nurse tried to clean out her mouth with a small brush and she wasn't having it. We would later learn that success came by dipping the brush in her favorite Chardonnay. That's our girl.
We shared a soul-nourishing meal with Carolyn's husband Jim and a few Posse members at their home later in the evening. That lovingly appointed kitchen was once again alive with people and food and cooking and laughter and I was so gratified to see Jim, despite all of the external forces conspiring to bring him down, laughing and enjoying himself.
Considering all that Jim has on his personal plate, its quite astounding that he was still capable of producing such gourmet plates for us. K and I and Charlotte were recruited to help out and soon, Keith was stirring sauce and cutting fresh basil and I was rolling pita dough made from scratch and tossing it on to that screaming pita maker. Kiko arrived from a a dog show day at Topeka and brought some of her eggplants fresh from the garden and Jim mixed us some of his patently lethal margaritas: each pitcher has a secret ingredient of one can of beer. Jim then zipped about the kitchen, checking the sauce and preparing the Chicken and Eggplant Parmesans with the freshest of ingredients. The pasta maker hummed with thin strips of fresh-made pasta and the aroma of made-from-scratch foccacia bread filled the kitchen. A Caesar salad was tossed with a lemony dressing. The final result was not unusual for anyone familiar with the loving care Jim takes with his cooking...every component was a pure delight. I could have drank the sauce alone and bread freak that I am; I'm still dreaming about that incredible focaccia.
We retired to the downstairs English Pub-designed bar area where we ate, drank, laughed and commiserated with Jim. He regaled us with tales of the progress of a screenplay that he's written. It was good to see Jim unwind in a time of such personal strife. Yesterday, Jim would have a crystalline moment of pure joy that only he could and should describe and you can find it here at his CaringBridge journal. Jim and Carolyn have worked so hard to have this moment and I'm so grateful that they did.
The birthday train rolled on and it was good...