The past month has been graduation prep month. I’ve been working the dock expansion and all the stuff associated with that while Nancy has been making the gifts and doing the meal planning. The first party was at Tom’s house on June 5, then another here on the 6th, all culminating in the actual graduation ceremony on the 9th. I haven’t heard about any after ceremony festivities but wouldn’t be surprised if there were that one last event. Tina’s family from Utah and Idaho have come to the events so it’s been a nice family reunion.
Nancy made Simon a gator quilt with matching gator pillow cases and pajamas which were unveiled at the first party. There were lots of ooh’s and aah’s, especially for the quilt. She also made a Teddy bear using gator material for Simon’s girlfriend, Julia. That was a big hit too. My part in all that was to drive the gifts from Barberville to Lake Mary.
Our focus for the few days leading up to the lake party was getting all the food together and whatever else is needed to entertain a crowd of 20 or so. I work the jungle path down to the dock to clip off any palmetto or fern that extends into the walkway and would scare off a city kind of person. Newbee’s usually approach the path with apprehension and if they brush against a branch, immediately think a snake or something has attacked. So I try to make it as non-threatening and inviting as possible. For example, about an hour before the guests are expected to arrive, I’ll walk down the path and pull down any spider webs that have been created overnight and make lots of noise so that any critters will be alerted to get out while the getting’s good. The last thing in the world I want is for a little black snake to slither across the path in front of one of the ladies or kiddies. Party pooper. And I take a wide area bug killing fogger and smoke the sides of the path where mosquitoes lurk in wait for passersby. I’ll brush off the overnight pollen load that’s coating the picnic tables. By the time I’m done, the guests will view the whole event as a stroll in the park.
Post party report – Went off flawlessly. The dock expansion held the load well without a quiver. Mark gave all the construction I did (without supervision) a very careful examination and pronounced that it was straight, level, and stable. Ditto the picnic table I resurrected. What more could I ask for? With the two picnic tables we had more than adequate eating places which was the driving motive behind all the work. I held my breath when the load on the old table reached 8 full size people but it held like a rock, not a groan or wiggle. Considering the time of year, the weather behaved nicely. It was overcast with a nice breeze off the lake so the sunburn potential for all the sun deprived guests was lessened. There were only a handful of yellow fly incidents but I did learn another factoid. Tina’s dad wore a bright red bathing suit and shirt which was an instant attractor for yellow flies. As soon as he walked on the dock, several headed after him while no one else was being bothered. And they were landing on his clothing, not his skin, so it had to be the color. Next year I think I’ll supplement the black traps with a red one just to see what happens.
The food for the party went over well too – ribs, salads. and baked beans – classic summer barbecue fare. I put 6 racks of Costco loin ribs on the Holland Grill and they were done to perfection – thanks Holland Grill. I have a rib rack holder that allows a much larger load than just laying them flat on the grilling surface and could have actually done another couple racks if needed. But we had ribs left over so I’m fairly well calibrated on that. Using two parties as a guideline, 1/4 of a rack per person is just right for a mix of men, women, and a kidling or two; 1/3 of a rack/person insures leftovers. The salads were mostly garden based – including the potato salad. The big garden salad incorporated tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, zucchini, and green peppers marinated in Garlic Expressions dressing. Also Nancy added a new dip to the chip and dip repertoire, Buffalo wing dip, which went over well. Nice and zippy. We got it from Megan.