Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Family Reunion

Ah, family reunions.  How can something so simple as getting together with relatives have so much importance?  I can explain it.  It just does.
The new generation of cousins, my niece and nephew.

We recently gathered for a week of fun and family celebration at the Circle 8 Ranch near Cle Elum, Washington.   We've had at least two other reunions at this location.  I have happy memories of the place from when I was a very young girl.  There were salamanders all over the bottom of the pond and I was too little to dive down and catch them.  My sister Lisa would do it for me.   Now she has a five year old son and Sarah a four year old daughter.  Oh, how the years fly by!
Circle 8 is a lovely place tucked up in the trees with a pond for swimming...  
"Help us, help us!"

And water fights...

"Ohhhh, you got me!"
I love the rather fiendish smirk on Lisa's face in this one. 

And "fishing."  There was food to feed the fish which the kids loved.  When you'd feed them the pond would start writhing with fish.  It was quite the hit with the youngins.

There were miles of trails for walking.  They were lined with lush greenery, blossoms, and berries.  The trees were filled with birds and squirrels.   There was flora and fauna to explore everywhichway!

I've never seen so many daisies in one place in all my life.  There were fields of them everywhere!
Western Tanager, a bird I had only seen briefly seen once before this trip.  I got a very close view at Circle 8.  They are fabulously colored though this photo doesn't do the bird justice because of all the shady trees.

Circle 8 has a large lodge with a kitchen in which to prepare and gather for meals and play endless games of cards. 
We had some epic Demon matches.

There was even a stage in there for the talent show, always a favorite part of reunion for me.
There was also a fire pit to sing around with the guitar and the family songbook, and a game house complete with ping-pong!  Family singalongs are one of the best parts of reunion as almost everyone in the family is musically inclined.  I had forgotten what a terrible ping-pong player I was! And to think we once had a table at our house!

Taking very careful aim....

Fortunately I discovered that I excel at ladder-ball so at least I had that going.  I'd never played before, but it was quite fun and easy to get the hang of.  I want to make a set for my own yard.  It seems easy enough to construct with some PVC pipe and golf balls.

Sarah bites her tongue when concentrating or working.  Her daughter Keleigh does it too.  Check it out in the photo of Keleigh hiking above.  Like mother, like daughter!
I had been kind of on the fence about going to reunion this year as it was sort of inconvenient for me in regards to work and vacation days because it was so far away.  However, some things are more important and so go I went inconvenience be darned!  Thinking back on it now I can't believe I was on the fence.  Family reunion is SO MUCH FUN!  I would have kicked myself the whole week if I had not been there. 
Can, can can you do the can, can can you?
I think it is so important not to let "life" get in the way of these sort of gatherings or else the family would just grow apart with the distances between us all.  It could happen easily enough and that would be a real tragedy.  I had the best time catching up with cousins I hadn't seen in years.  It was amazing.  They have grown into some very remarkable people.  I spent the whole first day absolutely overflowing with emotions.  I wanted to hug and kiss everyone over and over again.  I was so full of family and love that I wanted to cry!
Silly sisters...
If you're going to Cle Elum be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.
Me leading the children in yoga.

The only negative of the reunion was that my mother wasn't able to get her work situation settled either and was forced to make the tough decision not to come at the very last minute.  I was quite distressed by the news at first, but oh well, what could we do?  As usual in this wacky life we had no alternative but to make the best of things.  It was actually kind of interesting actually  because I felt like a true adult member of the clan.  I didn't need my mommy there to act as an emissary with the other adults.  I was one!  And so are my sisters and cousins!  Shocking!  Still, it would have been nice to play cards with Mom and add her voice to our family choir.
No family reunion is complete without adorable babies!
No photos please!

We brought my sister, Lisa, and her kids home with us for a month long stay in Montana.  Woohoo!  It is the family reunion that just keeps on going!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Strawberry Pickin'

One of the food highlight of family reunion (at least for me!) was stumbling into a bountiful patch of wild strawberries. 
My sister, Lisa, and I managed to pick a couple times.  It was hard to pull ourselves away from all the singing, stories, eating, swimming, etc.  They were so tiny that it took a while before it looked like any progress was being made.  Ah, good things come in small, red packages!
Since we didn't end up with enough to even make a decent jar of jam we decided the best thing to do was turn it into a sauce and serve it with dessert after an absolutely AMAZING family dinner. 
Corn on the cob, roasted veggies, baked tofu, and chili. 
Lisa smashed the strawberries with a bit of honey and mixed it all together well.  And there you have it!  wild strawberry syrup!  What could be simpler than, that?

 The dairy-eaters of the family had theirs over vanilla ice cream.  I had mine over granola though they did offer to purchase some soy ice cream for me.  I declined.  The granola was just perfect.
It seemed that everyone agreed it was fabulous.  I certainly thought so and it was all quickly gobbled up.  So sweet and so yummy.