Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ye-HA! HogRoast/Birthdayparty/EndofSummerCelebration

 When we arrived at the cottage on Friday night, picnic tables littered the road in front. Nearby parked a pick-up with a cage attached. THAT had held a real, live, oinking pig only hours before. Now, she had given her all and was butchered, ready to cook. And across the yard, our neighbor had set up the smoker.

We awakened Saturday morning to smoke. Savory smoke.
 The day was sunny. Various neighbors (and look at that cutie without the shirt) lent hands and backs to setting up.

Several friends from Kokomo were coming to the bash. Some arrived early for boating, biking, and general whatever.

Help trickled in. What had begun as a general pitch in was now on track for a really well-organized bash. Our neighbor Lori took the helm. Nice touches like PIG name tags, PIG table clothes, and PIGGY banks started sprouting.

The band arrived at 3 to set up. Time Travelers, a well-known Indiana band was going to be ready at the 7 PM start time.

Time Travelers, as some may know, consists of three great musicians, one being Mike's brother, Matt. And, by the way, Saturday was HIS birthday.

Greeting guests

 This was just before the crowd began to crowd. Lori had sent invitations to everybody on the Island. She had receive some RSVPs but we knew that this was in no way an accurate count. Our goals, mainly, were that we would not run out of food, drinks, and fun until everybody wore down.

Ready, set.....
 There's the hub, entertaining the ladies who came early. He found his shirt.

To the right, that's Eric, one of the Time Travelers. The road was already shut off and several women were standing guard. There were not going to let him in. Good thing they changed their minds.

A few special pictures.

This is Cynthia Evans, long time friend. We met when Natalie (center) was just a baby. Mom was THRILLED to have her little girl and used to doll her up in ruffles and lace.

 And here is Mike's Aunt DeDe (married to Homer) and my mother-in-law, Mary Ann. What you can't see behind them is the sea of future revelers, making their way toward the end of the street.
Friends from Oakbrook made the drive.
 And so it began. Lori and my sister-in-law Stephanie had hand-shredded the pork. It filled two large pans. Many people brought food to add to the feast: the BEANS food group, the SALADS food group, POTATO food group, and the CHIPS food groups were well-represented. And, of course, the SUGAR food group got its own several tables. You could not turn around without finding a cooler or tub with soda or beer or water.

 What was really fun: although the 'start time' was 7, quite a few arrived early and were ready. And as the evening wore on, more and more arrived. Some came, assessed, and tweeted their friends to 'get down here.' And some, inspired, walked back home and returned with more stuff. Munchies, yes. But also sidewalk chalk, uncut melon, helium balloons; one guy came back with his 'train,' a kid-friendly ride with an engine and 4 attached cars.
 The Time Travelers performed for 30 minutes and then we sang Happy Birthday to Mike and he blew out his candles. Then, he took the mic and gave a little speech, this time about how important friends and neighbors are. Especially THESE neighbors.

Of course, our great neighbor from Kokomo, Mike, was here along with his wife. Plus several other fans of the hub. His angel oncology nurse, Cathy P made the trip. Made his night.
 I realize as I look at these pictures, besides the back of your body shots, I haven't captured the crowd. Lori told me that they had 200 name tags and ran out early.

Matt said he was not good as estimating. I say we had about 400 on our little corner of Winona Lake.
 AND, they stayed. The sun went down, the street got dark. Several late additions fired up portable back yard pits.

Dancing, singing, eating, more eating.

And for me, what I loved about last night: this is the 4th time we've celebrated a birthday for my guy. It gets bigger every year and people around him just grow more pleased.

And as I sat with my friend Cynthia and watched the action, I could not miss Mike working the crowd. This man who for most of our marriage was a bit of a social recluse: strolling among his friends, laughing, entertaining them with stories.  In the past, he might have attended if I nagged him; he would have stayed a few minutes and disappeared. Last night, he outlasted me. Joyous.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Of Updates and BIRTHDAY Parties!!!

We've celebrated 3 birthdays for Mike since 2009. Prior to this, I don't remember ever noticing so much.

2009, in the midst of diagnosis, we smiled and met thinking, really, this would be his final party. He was frail. I gave him what he asked for -- an electronic frame filled with photos so 'when I become bed fast, I can look at them."

2010, in remission, we celebrated with many friends who crowded into our non air conditioned cottage on a scorching hot day and pretended that it was no so hot.

2011, Mike's health had become a series of palliative measures as the cancer had reoccurred. Again, amidst much celebration, we felt THIS would be his last birthday.

So here it is, 2012, 2 weeks away from #61. What to do, what to do?

My idea was to skip it. I mean, we've soaked this for almost 4 years; also his birthday falls squarely in the middle of the week when I'll be back to school. Several friends up here voiced their disappointment. I put it on a back burner.

On ANOTHER burner was an idea floated by neighbors. Our little island has been through the meteorological wringer this summer, what with storms, trees uprooted, roofs smashed, and so forth. Amidst the clean up, we chatted about how we ought to have a street party to celebrate when all the work is done.

And on a side burner, our neighbor, Mike's old friend since before high school, has been experimenting with roasting meat in a pit that he dug. He announced that he's ready for a hog roast.

In addition, besides the hub, his sister, her husband, his brother and HIS wife, plus a few non relations have birthdays that fall at the end of August/beginning of September.

THIS has gelled into the First Annual Island Hog Roast, Birthday Bash, End of Summer, Recovery Celebration: we got permission to close the end of the island to traffic, and the party is ON!
Saturday, August 25, 2012, any and all of the above will be cheered and celebrated from about 7 until midnight. Besides a hog, there will be lots of pitch ins, beverages, a live band, and who knows what else? Every time someone brings it up, new additions surface.

Island will be closed from the left end to the first side street.
So, from 501 Administration, Winona Lake, Indiana, we are sending out a general invitation to anyone and everyone who would like to come. Fine with us, come earlier and enjoy the village (closes at 6) and the lake (never closes.)

You purists will want to RSVP but really, it's not necessary. Our head count is somewhere between 50 and 500. And my neighbors and I can handle it.

Yes, Mike will mark another birthday. Amazing. And praise our God. What more does He have for the hub to do?

The rest of the update: Mike has been on chemo vacation all summer. He will meet with his doctor on Tuesday and discuss his course of action. I would ask you to pray for him (and me) on Tuesday. We are surrounded by angels and your prayers, AND we are so well cared for by his medical team.

School starts for me on August 7. YES. THIS Tuesday. Oh my. may remember that he is PROFESSOR of the Year!!.. has signed up to teach TWO courses at Ivy Tech. They are so excited to get him. The ONLY part of this that is in anyway troubling: IVY Tech requires that all professors use Blackboard this year, for attendance and grades. Mike does not know how to use Blackboard nor does he want to learn.

I signed up to learn what he needs to do and then help him. This is on my agenda for Monday.

So, much is good here.