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July 04, 2004: Booming

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It has been weird to have the Fourth of July celebration on a weekend. It has felt, in fact, as if the day snuck up on us. Usually I feel much more prepared, but this time around it was as if suddenly it was July and wow, we hadn't made any plans at all.

We did what has now become the customary celebration for the Fourth, ever since we got this house. We gathered all the local family together (Richard's parents and little sister, my parents, my older sister and her family, and her mother-in-law) and they all came to our house for dinner and dessert and then to watch the fireworks from our back porch.

This means, of course, that the bulk of the morning and early afternoon were spent at home getting ready. Richard roasted Cornish game hens on the barbeque and we found a recipe for grilled vegetables (green beans, asparagus and mushrooms) in a light seasoning of rosemary and thyme. I spent a few hours coring and slicing apples into paper-thin chips, then sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar and baked them until they were almost crispy. I don't make the apple chips very often because they're so time consuming, but sometimes they're worth it.

The last few times we've had family over for dinner cooked on the barbeque, we've had the timing off and dinner ends up being served later than planned. This time we made extra sure to have everything in place so dinner would be ready right when we said it would. Naturally, this meant that everyone else showed up late traffic, naps for little kids, and so on. In fact, we ended up eating almost in shifts. Richard's parents showed up first, and my older sister called to say they'd be a lot later, so we started in on the chicken and the veggies and then my sister and her family came in just as we were finishing our food, so we all sat around the table and chatted with them while they ate theirs.

Because the oldest nephew has learned to read, I made sure to go through our collection of kids' books before they arrived and pulled out a small stack of books I thought might be in his ability level. After dinner the two boys excused themselves like they usually do to go play, but when we went to check on them later, only the three-year-old was actually playing. The six-year-old had planted himself on the couch in the living room and was lost in a book and that's just about where he stayed the rest of the evening. Luckily my family and Richard's were more than used to having kids lost in books (Richard and I were both reading from an early age as well) so we all just moved around him and chatted above his head and only finally dragged him back into reality once it was time for the kids to get into their pajamas in preparation for the fireworks.

As usual the city put on a spectacular display. We all sat on the back porch, or in lawn chairs lined up on the path around the grass in the back yard, and oohed and aahed and laughed and applauded some of the more amazing explosions. And then it was all over, like it inevitably must be, and my sister took her two very sleepy kids out to their car and we waved them goodbye, then my parents (sending them home with the remains of the apple pie from dessert), and Richard's family as well, leaving only Richard and I and seven very annoyed and slightly skittish cats in a suddenly quiet house.

Actually, there was one amusing incident during the fireworks show. In preparation I ran around the house and shut all the windows before the fireworks even started, to minimize the level of noise on the cats since I know it tends to scare them. Most of the cats immediately skittered upstairs and hid nervously under the bed until long after the fireworks had finished and everyone had gone home. The one exception to this, however, was Tangerine. At one point someone looked toward the glass door and started laughing, and the rest of us turned to see her standing there. With the noise of the fireworks we couldn't actually hear her, of course, but we could see her mouth moving, since she apparently had a lot to say. We weren't sure if she was just miffed because we were all outside and she couldn't come join us, or she'd been sent down by the rest of the cats to tell us all off for the scary noises, but whatever the reason it was pretty funny to see.

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