Saturday, August 30, 2008

8/30/08 Incredible Saturday at MRO for Labor Day weekend

Wow. What a day. It started with a big breakfast for 12 (Grammy and Christine arrived after dinner last night) at 8:00. There wasn't enough room in the North Lodge for everyone, so 3 of us spent the night on the other side of the lake in a very nice "cabin" (more like a house). I woke early so I snuck out and found a quiet porch to sit on looking out over the lake and wrote. I mostly just tried to soak in all that beauty and reflect on God's amazing generosity. . . more of those "magnificent whispers".

After breakfast a bunch of us drove about 15 minutes to a dirt road and then hiked another 20 minutes into a wonderful waterfall area called Slide Down Falls. It was great! The water was sooooooo cold but once your feet got numb (which was pretty instant), you didn't mind. Some folks climbed to the top of the first falls and jumped into and off of the falls into various pools of water. Then we all went up to the next level of falls where there was a precipice that you could jump off of into a very deep pool of water 11 feet below. I just watched and took a lot of photos. My blood as a former lifeguard only curdled a few times.

When we got back it was a lunch of grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with tomato soup. YUM! Did that ever hit the spot. Today was cloudy and gray without the rain which didn't hamper the trip to the falls at all but was perfect weather for a lunch of hot sandwiches and soup. After lunch we sat around and yacked and played with babies and snacked on delicious homemade goodies: caramel chex mix, peanut butter crunchies, and chocolate chip cookies. Hmmmm, other people were asked (or volunteered) to bring items they cooked themselves. Rodney and I were only asked to bring items to contribute to the collective. How did they know?!

I had an interesting conversation with Jed this afternoon. He's Ron's son--one of the nephews. He's a police officer in Wilton, next to Farmington. A bunch of us were standing around and Heidi (our hostess) handed Jed a blueberry rake. It took a second, but I recognized it from having stopped to watch a group on the side of the road gathering wild blueberries when I was in Maine a few years ago with Gerald, Rhonda, and Brian. Jed didn't know what it was and I gave him a hard time about it that someone new to the state would know but a local wouldn't. He explained that he wasn't a local either, being a Wisconsin boy. But he then proceeded to give me a very hard time. The C* family is very good at giving each other a hard time--lots of kidding and razzing. And though Jed married in to the family, I don't think he acquired that sense of humor from being affiliated with the family, I think he was raised that way and just fits in well. Anyway, he started saying, "Even if I was a local, I wouldn't know things like 'this is a blueberry rake.' I'm not all about the Maine culture like you are. 'Oh, what a fascinating use of the language. I wonder why they say cah instead of car? What nationalities are contributing to the melting pot that is Maine?' No, not me. All I care about is what's to eat and what extreme sport can I participate in next." How did he know?? He nailed it! Then I said to him, "No wonder you're such a good police officer. You're very good at reading people." To which he replied, "And you're an open book." ROTFL!

Next on our agenda was Polish Ping Pong. What a hoot! And as long as you have enough paddles, you can play with as many people as you want. It involves everyone only playing one volley at a time. You have to remember what order you're going in and when it's your turn, it doesn't matter how many times the ball hits the table, you have to wait 'til it hits the floor and you only get one bounce and have to get it back on the table and then step aside for the next person. I know my words aren't doing the game justice because when people tried to explain the game to us, it was too hard to conceptualize. Fortunately, a demonstration round takes care of it all and that's what Marcus and Heidi and a few others did. Then we played and oh my, what a fun game. The first three rounds, I was out ASAP. But the next round, I happened to get behind Rodney and he kept setting up gentle and easy shots for me. Shanda described it as, "Take pity on Texas." I liked thinking that he was being a great coach and teacher. Either way, I did get a chance to get a feel for the game. I ended up after him several more times and though it's a fun game to watch (which when you're the first person out, you get to do a lot of), it's even more fun to play. I gotta say, though, as competitive as this family is, they were very supportive of the rookie and cheered my lucky shots.

Soon it was time for dinner. We do seem to do a lot of eating, but I guess that's typical for these kinds of events. And it is a great time to yack and chat and tell stories. Tonight we had to bring out the second table onto the porch. Marcus said our count was 19. It would've been 20 but Marcus and Bekah's Grammy, who came up last night, had already left so she could be home tonight in order to teach Sunday school in the morning. Tonight's meal was homemade lasagna and barbecue kabasa. Who would've ever though that kabasa smothered in barbecue sauce and grilled would be delicious? Everyone said Bekah's lasagna was just like her mother's. Since her mom wasn't even coming down until the next day and I'd never had her mom's lasagna, I wouldn't know. But I do know it was scrumptious.

After dinner it was time for fireworks. When you're sitting on 7,000 acres of private land in the middle of nowhere, you don't have to worry about local laws regulating fireworks. I joined the gang for the first one which was an M-80 (whatever that means). We were hunkered down behind cars since the M-80 was inside a Mountain Dew can in order to see if the can could be, literally, blown to smithereens. When it went off, I realized that I don't think I'd ever heard anything that loud ever before in my life. I also had a chance to look around at all the folks who were picking up "smithereens" (shrapnel) and realized, it was all men besides me so I snuck out and joined the women and children inside. None of the rest of the fireworks were anything to look at, they were just loud to listen to and I could do that from inside.

Pretty soon, we got the word that the "pretty fireworks" were about to take place, so I did go back outside for that. In the clearing by the boat dock, Ben set up a series of sparkly, wooshy, colored fireworks that were way cool. What an appropriate culminating celebration of an amazing day. After that it was hanging out by the fire in the great Adirondack chairs (there were too many of us for the five chairs, so there were a lot of folding "camp chairs" to choose from as well, but somehow, I managed to get an Adirondack chair again. Way cool. More stars and more stories. There was a little bit of cloud cover so you couldn't see as many stars and pretty soon, the cloud cover grew to the point where there were more clouds than stars and soon, there were no stars at all. About the time that we decided to call it a night, the rain started to fall, so our timing was perfect.

Tonight, Christine and Dale joined us on our side of the lake. They both had been here the night before but pawns that we all were, they moved over. Later that night after lights out, Christine and I chatted well into the night both lying in our sleeping bags on top of our beds in the dark. A touch of slumber party was a fun way to top off the night that followed a glorious day.

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