We decided to go exploring a bit on our bikes this morning. There's one road that heads directly to the freeway if you head north, and we'd gone down it a bit on the south side, but never more than a few miles. This is a road Richard's never actually driven, so we didn't quite know what the road quality would be - some of those back roads really get nasty in places and are not exactly bike friendly. But we figured we had plenty of time to wander around, get lost, and still make it back in time to get ready for the holiday festivities.
Turns out the road only goes about 8 miles south before it dead-ends. But luckily there was a crossroad to take us to another road that would lead us back home, and while we were on that road, Richard spotted the old cemetery.
We'd heard about this cemetery from someone we met at the Habitat for Humanity meeting we attended a week or so ago. Seems his son cleaned it up for his Eagle Scout project. It sounded intriguing, since older cemeteries are always much more interesting to wander through than the new ones, with their boring, flat gravestones, the abundance of tacky plastic flowers, and the distinct lack of statuary.
This cemetery looked as if it might once have been interesting, a very long time ago. I'm not even sure how Richard spotted it, because from the road it just looks like a big fenced-in field. There is a large gravestone near the front of it that lists dozens of names, most of whom died in the late 1800's or early 1900's, and in the far back of the field we could see what might have been a few more stones. But the rest of the field was disappointingly empty. I was hoping to have been able to wander around and peer at epitaphs, but alas.
Back home we headed, tacking on an extra few miles to round the ride up to 25 total, and then it was time to get to work. Richard had put the lamb in the marinade last night, but the chicken and the vegetables had to wait until today. We did a massive shopping trip, and managed to only require two additional trips to the store later in the day. I chopped four pounds of frozen chicken into cubes and then attacked a massive pile of vegetables. Once those were all in their respective marinades, I dragged out pie plates and made an apple pie and a peach pie because I had found this recipe I wanted to try.
And suddenly the day was almost over and people were at our door - lots of people. Richard's Mom and Dad and youngest sister and sister's friend all arrived, followed shortly thereafter by my Mom, Dad, aunt, and cousin, and then my older sister and her family (husband plus two little boys) showed up, and the house was suddenly brimming with people! Richard's dad volunteered to help, so he and I stood over the sink spearing chunks of meat and vegetables onto bamboo skewers while Richard got the grills set up and the charcoal started.
This is the first time my aunt has been in the area since we moved, so I started giving her a tour. By the time we made it upstairs, however, the tour was taken over by my little four-year-old nephew. Naturally, the emphasis from his point of view was the big giant green tub (he looooves our bathtub), and he then proceeded to point out every single devil ducky to all of us, before continuing on to show my aunt the other rooms, all with a running commentary. I don't think he had a clue that I was practically in tears from trying not to laugh, and my aunt wasn't faring much better.
It was a noisy and busy evening. Richard and my brother-in-law stood outside and manned the grills (and probably talked Linux the entire time), while I handed plates in and out of the door, and tried to corral everything else to the table. There was corn on the cob and a huge half watermelon over-full of fruit salad. There was far too much fruit and far too many vegetables, but even with the excess, the crowd (14 people) made short work of most of it. And then we had barely recovered from dinner before I realized that it was going to be fireworks time soon and we'd better get dessert served before that started. Richard made coffee, and my mom and I laid out all the pies - blueberry, cherry, apple, and white peach.
The fireworks were impressive, as usual. My nephews weren't too keen on the loud booms, so my mom and my sister took one each and sat inside, watching out the windows. The rest of us sat outside, some on the porch and a handful of us in lawn chairs on the ground, and we watched the fireworks show the city puts on in the park just behind our house. The weather was perfect for watching - only a slight hint of breeze and not the usual heavy evening gusts. And we sat outside and cheered each explosion of color and light in the sky.
The house seems strangely quiet now that everyone is gone, but in a way it is a welcome quiet. The cats are creeping slowly out of their hiding places, a little skittish from all the noise of the fireworks and the earlier crowd of strangers in their house. There are two huge bowls in the refrigerator - one of leftover vegetables and one of leftover fruit - and the remains of three pies. I have piled all the dishes into the sink to wash tomorrow, and all stray paper plates and napkins have been corralled and taken outside to the trash. The explosions are over. The house is almost back to normal and so are we.