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August 27, 2008

Visits

UnEventPancakes.jpgThanks for your comments on the UnEvent, everyone! And Sharon, thanks for the great photo (shown here). Sorry I haven't replied. I scrambled to get the last post done and then we left town for a weekend in Washington State, after which Richard left me on the coast for 10 days with my family, spending time with my nieces and helping my sister prepare for a move to England, and working - though a fair bit less than I intended. After an intense visit and long drive home yesterday afternoon, I feel like I could sleep for a week...

So many fun gatherings this summer! And Richard tells me we have more visitors tomorrow night, though he's enjoying keeping secret who it is.

While away, I've been finding a little quiet time here and there to re-read Jane Austen's Persuasion. A wonderful novel, and like Pride and Prejudice, full of constant visits between relations, friends and neighbours. I couldn't help finding parallels as I thought about this summer. We had several visitors in June, spent the 4th of July on Marrowstone with the Lunds, had more visitors in July and entertained 25 friends on the August long weekend, travelled a thousand kilometers to have dinner with Chris and Dagny on the 14th, the Lunds on the 15th, the Webbers on the 16th, ate brunch with Rob and Jen after leaving the Webbers on the 17th, and I arrived at my parents' house by dinnertime that night. While with my family (both siblings having moved back to the Cove this summer for a very full house), my aunt Gudrun arrived from Idaho. And while I was visiting with all of them, Chris and Dagny spent Friday night here on their first leg of a cross-Canada road trip, and Richard got the news of visitors coming tomorrow - presumably for the long weekend, coming up so fast now. I'm exhausted just relating it all! Now I have a day to get the house and my desk in order before the next whirlwind.

I finished Persuasion last night and that's it for novels and visiting (once these mystery guests leave) for a while, at least until I get my business off the ground. My only regret is that I didn't get to see more of my friends while on the coast, but I'm no Austen heroine and one more dinner party might have worn me out completely! It has been a very abundant summer (aunt Gudrun reminded us what abundance really is), and I appreciate every minute we got to spend with all our loved ones this season. It's feeling like fall already, though, isn't it? These guests will help us extend summer just a little longer, then it's on to fall projects and the kind of changes - for the better I hope - that I always associate with September. Have a great Labour Day, everyone.

Posted by anita at 10:41 AM

August 14, 2008

The UNEvent of the Year, Part III

3-ChrisnRichard.jpgThanks to all our guests who’ve posted comments on the UN-Event so far. If you’re just catching up now, note that this is part 3 and there are lots of other photos in parts 1 and 2. I’m still hoping a few more of you will send photos our way, but these are the last batch from us.

Part III: Friends

Despite the focus on the food, the best part of the weekend for us was seeing so many of our friends together, some of whom were just getting to know each other. In case you missed the introductions, I’ll try to put names to all the following photos, as I did in a few cases with the last two posts. What a great group of people our friends are! I personally am feeling more grounded, relaxed, optimistic and loved after our long weekend together—thanks for being here for us. Those of you who feel like sharing, please post a comment or two. Richard would love to hear suggestions for next year’s menu (see Part I) and I’d like to hear what activities people enjoyed most, so we can plan for next August!

3-Bikes.jpgChad gets his & Maria’s bikes ready to go Sunday morning.

3-Maria.jpgAlways the photographer – but Maria took it easy this holiday.

3-HanginOut.jpgMaria, Adrie and Dagny enjoy our ‘new’ patio furniture.

3-Tents.jpgRichard levelled areas for tents. Too bad 10x12’ was too small!

3-Campers.jpgBarbie checks out the other shady spot by the campers.

3-Chillaxing.jpgDan, Barbie, Chris & Dagny chill out after lunch.

3-Adrie-n-Ben.jpgBen and Adrie enjoy their milkshakes by the fire.

3-UpToNoGood.jpgNow, what were Rob, Richard and Dan up to in the garage?

3-Kahlyn.jpgKahlyn, beading Anika’s canopy – wish I’d got a photo of it.

3-EriknBob.jpgAh hah, I caught young Erik sitting still for a second!

3-AndrewIceCream.jpgI tried one of those so I know why Andrew’s smiling.

3-Frog.jpgA Pacific tree frog fascinated the three 2-year-old boys.

3-Cynthia-n-Sharon.jpgSharon and Cynthia, surprised by a 4x4 on their toes.

3-Rick-n-Josh.jpgRick and Josh watch the bikes and remote-controlled truck.

3-FunnyBen.jpgIs Ben practicing parenting, or cross-dressing?

3-Adrienne.jpgAdrie’s thinking, next year I'll have a 5-month-old!

3-Campfire3.jpgFriends and neighbours around the campfire.

3-HappyRichard.jpgRichard and I are happy campers. Thanks, everyone!

Posted by anita at 2:31 AM

August 10, 2008

The UNEvent of the Year, Part II

2-Gotcha.jpgWhat a difference between this weekend and last! Yesterday we had a massive thundershower that dumped a torrential amount of rain, and in the middle of the day I had the overhead light on in the kitchen, it was so gloomy. Thank goodness the showers forecast for last weekend barely sprinkled our Friday night campers and then dried up. We had beautiful weather the rest of the weekend. Shade was a little hard to find in the afternoon–we’ll work on that for next year.

With most of our guests arriving after lunch on Saturday, it was a quiet morning, and then our afternoon arrivals had to set up their campers and tents. After our pulled pork dinner it wasn’t long before someone lit the campfire and we sat out late, talking and star-gazing. Sunday morning Richard got to use the commercial grill, starting the day off with blueberry pancakes. It ended up being a really full day… Most of the following are from Sunday afternoon, on the river.

2-TowelledKids.jpgPart II: Fun!

After breakfast we said goodbye to Chad and Maria, who continued on their weekend bike trip, and Rob who had to get back to his regular work week in Washington State. Then while Pam, Cynthia, Bob, Dagny and I played some badminton out on the new concrete in front of the barn, the rest of the guys were inside, starting assembly of Richard’s 2-post hoist. Matt, who spent all of Saturday wiring the lighting, ran electrical for the hoist while everyone else put the thing together. The other gals found shady spots to sit and talk or read, and watch the kids play in the hammock. The kids were our clocks, letting us know when it was time to cook up the wings for lunch and head to the beach.

We spent the afternoon on the river, with the twins’ boat and kayak, and Dan’s amphibious Predator. By the huge smiles all around, I’d say people had a good time. Chris is very glad the boat was well used, because on their way home, someone stole it when they stopped in Merritt!

After dinner, we sat digesting our burgers and shakes, and the guys continued with the hoist installation. I couldn’t believe how bright it was in the barn with all the lights Matt finished wiring. Richard said he was too tired to express his happiness, but he looked pretty pleased as the hoist lifted the guys into the air. We squeezed a lot into one day, and yet everyone lingered by the fire for a few more laughs before bed.

2-Badminton.jpgSo glad Pam and Rick brought their badminton set!

2-Wheeling.jpgWhat are they all looking at? Ah. Toys.

2-Group.jpgBen, Matt, Richard, Adrienne, Chris, Dagny, & Cynthia.

2-River.jpgA day right out of an Impressionist painting.

2-80sBoating.jpgBob and the kids in the Olson boat – wave to Mom!

2-SharonBoat.jpgAll the kids got a ride down the river.

2-Dagny.jpgToo cute. Look hun, crocs float!

2-Sharon.jpgSharon, always with an eye on Olivia and Andrew.

2-Kayakers.jpgBen and Matt take the kayak for a spin.

2-PaddlePam.jpgLook at that smile!

2-MattCyn.jpgIf the water’s so warm, why are they screaming?

2-RunningMan.jpgBob says, “So you want a funny photo?”

2-PredatorDan.jpgDan made quite a splash with his amphibious Predator.

2-Predator2.jpgThen Chris gave it the Olson touch – and drained the battery.

2-GuysnHoist.jpgAndrew really wanted to join dad Pat up there.

2-TruckHoisted.jpgLast thing Monday morning, up went Mechano!

2-Danaeya.jpgNow that we've taken stock and nearly finished our cleanup, here is a short list to recap:

Lost: 1 boat

Found: 1 beading needle

Missing: 1 down duvet

Consumed: 10 litres of ice cream for milkshakes

20 lbs of chicken wings

15 lbs of french fries

and more than 90 bottles of water

Left over: 5 dozen eggs

about 60 ice cream bars

and a lot of bread

Total happy campers: 19 adults and 6 kids!

Posted by anita at 9:05 AM

August 7, 2008

The UNEvent of the Year, Part I

1-Wings.jpgOur first anniversary of the UNWedding, dubbed the UNAnniversary, was a huge success. Everybody had a great time, Richard got to stuff us full of his favourite comfort foods, and there was just the right number of people so that, as we hoped, we had time to truly connect with everyone. And our guests made this gathering so easy to pull off, jumping in to help with the food prep, cooking and cleanup. By the time everyone left us Monday afternoon, there was hardly a thing to clean up. (Thank goodness – at that point we both had a nap!)

Because I had to swing right back into work mode alongside finishing the remaining cleanup, and we were surprisingly exhausted (not from the visit but from weeks of preparations), it’s taking a while to select my photos and get this post written. I took over 400 photos, unbelievably, not to mention those from Bob and Dagny so far, and my short list narrowed that down to 60! Meanwhile Richard says everyone has been nagging him to get pictures posted… So, I’m going to do this in three parts.

Part I: The Food

After our annual trip to visit the Lunds in Washington for July 4th, it occurred to me that we could make meals over the long weekend even easier for everyone by following the Lunds’ example. This year, instead of each family taking responsibility for a meal, they bought all the food and we all pitched in to cover the bill. It worked out much easier for us, as we can’t take food over the border and normally pay ridiculous prices for produce when we get there. For our UNEvent, being at home means we have everything we need to cook for a crowd (more than most people!), so we set a menu for breakfasts, lunches and dinners for three days and all our guests left their own food, cooking gear and coolers at home.

It worked out wonderfully. Chef Richard beamed from ear to ear as he used the grill and deep fryer, which Chris worked on all Saturday evening to convert to propane for our outdoor kitchen. Our chafing dishes made it easy to feed our crowd of 25 without things getting cold. Richard kept notes and calculated how much it actually cost compared to what everyone paid per meal. You all paid $6 a meal; next year it will be $7.50, and we’ll plan it so we don’t end up with a freezer full of ice cream and bread. (Not that I’m complaining about the ice cream!) We promise to have lots more onions, mushrooms, and Dole tropical fruit juice. Least favourite item? Coke Zero. Nobody was watching their waistlines!

There’s nothing Richard loves better than feeding his friends, and apparently you all love to eat, so it was a recipe for a fabulous weekend. More on fun and friends in the next two posts, but following are highlights of the food. All you busy people who couldn’t make it can sit there and salivate, and mark your calendars for next August. Those of you who stuffed yourselves to bursting this weekend, we’d like you to post comments on your favourite food or dining moment, and let us know what you’d like on the menu for next year! We’re looking forward to your comments.

1-FoodZonePrep.jpgFriday morning, our cooking zone still looked like this!

1-FoodZone.jpgHalf a truckload of gravel made it more kitchen-friendly.

1-ChefRichard.jpgChef Richard was up early Saturday to set up.

1-GrillSetup.jpgChris got us the grill and fryer and fixed them up.

1-ServedUp.jpgOur outdoor kitchen in action: wings!

1-YamFries.jpgMore equipment: the potato cutter made perfect yam fries.

1-Burgers.jpgHappy campers Dan, Barbie, Sharon, Cynthia, & Bob.

1-HomemadeFries.jpgSunday's dinner: burgers, fries & shakes.

1-Andrew.jpgAndrew loved his milkshake. Pic by Dagny.

1-IceCream.jpgMonday morning, everyone helped with the leftovers!

Posted by anita at 9:04 PM