Monday, July 14, 2014

girls-only weekend

Despite all the stuff I should be working on, I took off on a mini-vacation with my daughters.  Someone stayed home to care for Miss Gracie and the cats.  We didn’t go anyplace exotic, but still, I had the best time ever.  We left Thursday evening and came home Sunday afternoon, giving us almost three whole days to reconnect our busy lives and catch up with each other.  What a lucky mother I am to have three creative, fun daughters.  It’s a good thing we get along because 4 ladies staying together in one small motel room takes lots of cooperation.

We visited Shaker Village in Pleasant Hill, Kentucky.  It’s a historic settlement where a religious cult used to live.  In my mind, Shakers were similar to Amish, but a bit more radical.  The grounds there are beautiful.  I especially loved walking through the giant orchard and seeing the gardens.  They grow vegetables and flowers to use in the restaurant and inn there.  I like that they mix rows of vegetables with rows of flowers.  Sarah was intrigued with the castor plants they grow for the poisonous beans, which they use as a natural pesticide.  I was interested in the orach, which is a vegetable I’d never heard of….similar to mustard greens.

The entire weekend was blessedly sunny and pleasant.  Sarah bought two lovely sun hats at Shaker Village and wore one of them all day.  We had lunch there before we left.  The restaurant is famous for its food, but I’d have to say we were not impressed with the food this visit.  Erin and Emily ordered cheeseburgers that were quite standard.  I forget what Sarah ordered, but she rated it “OK”.  I ordered the chicken salad with fresh fruit.  The chicken salad was “OK”, but it was surrounded by chilled wild rice mixed with diced dried apricots.  It was oddly chewy and unpleasant.  On one side of the rice was unidentifiable green stuff that resembled jelly, or perhaps skinned pickles.  I tried a small bite because we all wanted to know what it was.  All I could say was the texture was slimy and it tasted like something I’d never eaten before (and had no desire to put in my mouth again).  Sarah tried it and made a face that I wish I’d captured on camera.  Erin tried it and agreed it was totally gross.  The waitress told us (after we asked) that it was pickled watermelon rind.  Waste not, want not….I suppose.  Also on my plate was a large pickle spear.  Normally I would eat a pickle like that, but the pickled watermelon rind turned me off of anything pickled.  Sarah said, “If you’re just going to leave that pickle, hand it over.”  She took a bite and about gagged.  Of course, how could any pickle be that bad, so I tried a bite and had the same reaction.   Obviously, they make their own pickles there. 

On Saturday, we drove to Louisville to visit the lady who used to babysit all my girls from the time they were babies until Erin and Emily were about 7 or 8.  She and her husband lived nearby us until her husband retired and they moved to Louisville where their children live.  I can say with all honesty, my girls had the best babysitter imaginable.  It still amazes me that I was ever lucky enough to find her.  My girls still love her and her cooking.  Of course, she made some of their favorite foods for our lunch – shrimp fried rice, pepper steak, and cream puffs for dessert.  Yum!   She invited them to keep the fancy chopsticks they ate with.  She gave me another photo album filled with pictures of all of them.  Sarah and the girls copied some of her recipes while she was cooking lunch for us.  We had such a nice visit.

discussion about Japanese cooking and recipes

 We spent two nights in Berea, Kentucky, where a big arts and crafts fair was going on.  We stayed in Boone Tavern, an old hotel in one of the town’s artsy districts.  Some say the hotel is haunted, but we didn’t experience any paranormal visitors.  Several of the girls had bad dreams or talked in their sleep, but that’s nothing unusual.  I love to look at all the lovely handcrafted things and art, but it is very hard for me to buy that kind of thing.  It’s not good to be too attached to things.  Things get broken or stolen.  Nothing lasts forever.  I can buy a decent lamp made in China for $40 that is one of millions just like it; or, spend $650 for a one-of-a-kind lamp that took an artisan  40+ hours to make.  If I were excessively wealthy, maybe I wouldn’t blink an eye if a cat jumped up on the table and knocked my $650 lamp onto the floor.  There's enough to worry about in this world without concerning myself with things.  

The girls bought gifts for me at the festival.  I love them (girls and gifts)!  They gave me a birdhouse that looks kind of like a human heart with veins all over the outside (although Sarah suggested it looks like something else...which it definitely does not)!!  It's a dried gourd; very natural looking.  Also, they gave me a sweet little glass amulet with pressed flowers in it.  I will buy a silver chain and wear it as a necklace.  These gifts will remind me of our lovely weekend together, but I would remember the weekend even without gifts. The real gift was having time with my girls.  

Unusual birdhouse

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