Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Farm Day


We kicked off the first day of Spring in style this year as participants in Kinder's first official Farm Day. Parents were asked to contribute what they could to run or stock each station planned for the field so I happily volunteered to make and run the photo booth with Mike as a banjo welding music man by my side. The day before the event however, I realized the simple gingham backdrop and wood bench I had in mind for the booth made for a pretty sad sight once I started to visually construct it. Luckily, Mike is typically up for these kinds of hasty project deadlines so I drew out what I wanted and he got to building right away. Late that night he came through with the cutest cedar planked barn front complete with a hand painted sign and a couple small windows for a few extra farmers to peek through for the photos.

We stocked baskets full of old hats, handkerchiefs, vintage wash boards, wooden spoons and an array of instruments we had around the house and let them jam in true hillbilly style after each group shot. To which they then passed on to the next station, making the rounds racing wheel barrels, milking a homemade wood cow cutout, making butter, competing in a pie eating contest, lassoing saddled hay bails, hunting easter eggs, planting flowers, and learning to line dance. One long, jam packed day I suspect sent each of them fast asleep with the weight of their day settled deep in them bones, in true farmer fashion at the end of the night.




Till next year little fellas.




Saturday, March 14, 2015

To the Lake House

A couple weekends ago we drove up north to stay with my best friend and a few other friends at her Family's cabin in Nacimento overlooking the water. Though the lake is so low these days it's nearly unrecognizable with new islands of land sprouting up in sporadic places that make it hard to remember how different it looked just a decade or so ago. Where we spent a good portion of our teenage summers holed up at every chance we could. Even hoping on a train on the times we couldn't catch a ride. Walking up to that cabin still brings me instantly back to that time in my life. The two of us so young and careless. Driving along those wheat colored hillsides in the peak of an August heat wave in her father's red mini van blasting Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes on CD. Sitting with sun burnt shoulders on the dock for hours at a time eating beef jerky, trying to smoke a cigarette, discussing big life goals while concentrating more focused efforts on just how we were going to go about successfully stealing beer from the coolers of family friends during our week's stay. Jumping into that big glassy lake at midnight in our underwear. Sneaking out of the stuffy top attic bedroom when the rest of the cabin had fallen fast asleep to wander down the street to a known unlocked cabin where we could soak in a hot tub and snag bags of cornnuts from an impressively stocked foreign pantry. Crusing aimlessly around the community trying to kill an hour in a day that seemed to last a lifetime. Kids, trying to be adults. Having not a clue or care in the world besides finding beer and flirting with boys.

Heading back there as a family proved a thing of it's own. If only because all the adults now manning the rules of the cabin were US. My old teenage fling, conveniently the best friend's cousin, now a handsome and successful bay side chef there with a new girlfriend in tow, driving the same boat we use to steal away for a day to find secret coves hidden behind the shoreline to fish or hike around in. The cabin still smelling like a faint mix of cedar and dank wet towels. Grocery bags still stacked at the bar, the same bold yellow kitchen and rotting picnic table covered in plastic grape patterend cloths out on deck. The collection of family photos now sun streaked and fading, still lining the expanse of the dinning wall. Most everything there, aside from our age and circumstance, seemingly unchanged.

We tried our best to share some of the history behind the cabin with the boys. We told them censored, select stories of our summers spent there as kids but they were naturally more concerned with shooting bee bee guns and sling shots over the deck than hearing these tales of Ole. They went fishing, took a couple rides around the lake, visited the San Luis Obisbo skate park and spotted a handful of deer who came down from the hills looking for food in the late mornings. The trip wasn't as smooth as I had hoped for. But my God, is it ever? Having my four boys and two more there to wrangle and entertain for three days proved naturally exhasuting. Especially when the other parties in attendance had no children of their own there. So in some of the more trying moments it got a little tense but for the most part it proved a fun full weekend away where we got to indulge in fancy food with good company in a place we love. Lots of fancy cheese platters, shrimp tacos, steak and asparagus on the dinner table, salami trays paired with bottles of wine, and two notable breakfast set ups unlike anything we could ever possibly manage here at our own home. Leon even told Ben at one point that his eggs were "the best eggs he ever had." A remark that would stick with Mike long after the plates had cleared. As he has made it a regular note to ask Leon every morning thereafter, once his breakfast is through, who's eggs are "better?" And poor Leon, clueless to any competitive tendecnies on anyone's behalf, always answers plainly, honestly. In which the old fling's versions win every time.

Egg egos aside, the weekend proved just long enough to take it some heavy fog in the mornings and dull sunshine in the afternoons. The prettiest storm clouds with a tease of lighting and a little rain. Two late night kiddie dance parties, and one long nap out on the deck. We're hoping to have a second (maybe third) romp back out there at some point this summer since Jess really wants to teach the boys how to wakeboard during another family weekend, as well as host an adult dinner party there beneath the stars near the end of summer. In the meantime, we still have spring break to prepare for. And a couple other little vacations planned in between. And hopefully, all of that allows ample time for me to improve their lakeside manners, and Mike to sharpen up them breakfast skills.