Wednesday, June 29, 2011


On thursday morning, I plucked cherries from the tree we share with the neighbors. The birds seem to be lazy this year because there were hundreds of large, sweet, purple-red berries left on the branches.

Usually the birds strip the tree bare the second the cherries ripen. I managed to pick three cups of fresh berries...

...exactly enough to make a Gluten Free cheery and pecan cobbler.

We were preparing for our Graduation Celebration on Saturday, June 25th, and were expecting close to 30 friends and family members to join us for champagne and bbq pork shoulder. Thursday night Rick marinated the pork and then early Fri morning started smoking it in cherry wood chips on the bbq. It took 9 hours, and then we had to finish it in the oven, letting it roast until 11:00 at night. By then, I was sick of the smell of smoked meat and wondered why the hell we didn't just have hamburgers! 

I'm glad we didn't, because the pork was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. People literally moaned with delight while eating their pulled pork sandwiches dripping with bbq sauce and coleslaw, North Carolina style. And the cobbler? SWOON. It was the absolute best thing I have ever baked. I found the recipe on the blog Gluten Free for Good. I don't know if it was the fresh cherries or the pecan crumble top that made it so good, but the other thing that makes this recipe great is how easy it is. Go ahead, give it a try.

The weather was perfect and my friends crowded onto my recently cleaned deck, chatting, laughing, drinking champagne and eating. My friends have very diverse backgrounds: politically, spiritually and economically. Everyone from Tea Partiers to Socialists. I like spending time with different types of people, hearing different viewpoints and debating the merits of the Obama economic plan. But what my friends have in common is intelligence and the ability to have a good conversation. Strangers talked with each other like long lost friends and we didn't have to resort to party games to keep the mood high. 

Even Queen Teen came outside and joined in the talk. A friend of mine knows ASL and he sat beside her and started signing. She sat up straight and watched him with wide eyes and then signed back. They chatted like that for several minutes. I've never seen her more engaged when someone tries to talk to her. Here was a person speaking her language, OUTSIDE of school, just for fun. What a treat! I could see in her smile how thrilling it was for her to have a conversation with someone that wasn't tied to classwork, how wonderful to be a part of the party instead of just a silent observer. Obviously, I need to provide more opportunity for her to chat with ASL users outside of school. 

She was also ecstatic because there were four other girls at the party, one in particular who hung out with her in her room and played. Later, I popped in The Frog Princess and all the girls watched it together while eating strawberries and tortilla chips. Queen Teen grinned with delight to have so many kids watching a movie with her. 

So many good friends at my party, new and old. Three friends I have known since high school, and one of those drove all the way from Fresno with her family. My brother and his wife were there, and my mom got over her nervousness to drive to Ukiah from her home in Lake County. Laura, my master teacher and soon-to-be-coleague came bearing a gift: the map and key to the MCOE car. "I need the key back, though," she said with a laugh. 

Later that night, when the last of our friends had left and the food had been put away (and I'd scraped the last of the Gluten Free cobbler off the bottom of the pan. Oh my god, it's good!), Rick and I finished an open bottle of wine in our back yard and stared at the starry sky. The night was still warm. Crickets chirped loudly and the night blooming jasmine filled the air with sweetness. Contentment filled me for the first time in ages.  


Terry said...

Wish I could have celebrated with you guys. I'm on the other side of the country. Kathy coming out in Aug and we're going to hook up in Mich. I'm finally going to meet her family.
After that heading back to the West coast. Will be by for a visit.

alpharat said...

It's a wonderful story, and it sounds like a wonderful time, but at the end of it all, you're just really making me miss BBQ!

TherExtras said...

I enjoyed reading about your celebration, too! Perfect!