Friday, August 6, 2010

Las Vegas to Arlington

While visiting in San Diego, food was just as much a focus there as it is here -except I wasn't doing the cooking! We were really treated and pampered. We went shopping in the ethnic markets where we bought and ate (among other things) fresh garbanzo beans and papaya. We ate lots of amazing foods: Mexican, both home cooked (my enchiladas and red rice are never as good as my sister-in-law's) and lunch at a counter in a market that was like a trip to Mexico; pizza and beer at Oggi's; raspberry lambic and various beers; breakfast at Tip Top Meats and European Deli (a REALLY great place!); classic homemade Hill Family spaghetti dinner; my nephew's grilled chicken extraordinaire; and I helped him make salsa. He is totally proficient in the manly art of grilling, and he pays the same careful attention to all the details of cooking as my son does. My daughter and I were laughing as we watched him and simultaneously recognized the exact same intense body posture and uncompromising attitude in the kitchen my son has -and they both are incredibly laid back dudes otherwise. His mother is the most wonderful cook, but he even chides her on her lack of finesse in dicing tomatoes. My daughters both refuse to cook if my son is watching because of his criticism/comments. I tried really hard to not disappoint my nephew and measure up to his standards. He said I did pretty good which I took as high praise!

We didn't spend all our time laying around the pool and eating. We took one day to sight see and visit Balboa Park, and the guys went surf fishing early one morning. Everyone except for Angela and I, went to a Padre's game one night. Their kids went surfing several times while we were there and they would have taken us along but I am not a good enough swimmer to even think of trying. I can't say enough how genuinely nice my niece and nephews are. They are really great young adults! They drove us to and from the airport, gave up their beds for us, took our daughter to a movie one night, spent time entertaining us -and never once made us feel like it was an imposition. I am so impressed with these young people and feel lucky to have had the chance to really spend time just talking with them.

One day we drove to the small town of Julian and bought Mom's pies. The trip was into the more rural area around San Diego. The geology and trees were beautiful and interesting, as well as the small towns along the way. We stopped and bought eggs at a farm stand, saw some Boer goats and a flock of sheep -and a camel dairy of all things. I loved the area.

As if all this, plus drinking wine and swimming in the pool in the evening in San Diego weren't enough of an indulgence for a farm girl (hilarious in a swimsuit with a farmer's tan),

we also drove to Las Vegas for the weekend. My husband and I had never been before and it is an amazing place! My sister-in-law likes to gamble a little, and my brother-in-law likes the buffets. It was so great of them to take us and we had a really great time -but I think I've gained 5 lbs!

A shepherdess in Las Vegas is about as incongruous as you can get. I have never seen so much glitz and opulence. We walked the strip at midnight (with a bajillion other people) and it was like nothing else on earth I have ever experienced. We spent one Saturday in Las Vegas, and the next Saturday we were at River Meadows County Park near Arlington for a family reunion.

What a contrast to go from 108 degrees and sleeveless tops to 68 degrees and polar fleece! Family reunions are about getting together to reconnect with family members you don't live near or see as often as you'd like to. Families constantly change, and not everyone makes it every year, but it is always great to get together and simply enjoy each other.

Reunions are also about eating -an activity you can see I am always happy to participate in. Everyone in my family will bring food as if they are the only one cooking for the entire gathering, so we all ate heartily then left with a jolly jumble of leftovers. I came back with crab, smoked salmon, corn on the cob (I love corn on the cob, cold or otherwise), hot dogs, muffins and a few other things. There was so much great foods -baked beans, potato salad, bratwursts, hot dogs, steaks, pies (and more pies) and cookies and the list goes on. It was wonderful.

My niece, Sherece has been learning to spin with a drop spindle. She had expressed an interest in learning to use a wheel, so I brought along mine and we spent most of Saturday spinning. The spinning lesson was great entertainment for the rest of the family, and Sherece was absolutely delighted. I had so much fun teaching her, but maybe not as much as she did!

Sherece is an absolute joy to know as a person and doubly so to me, having known her since she was a tot. Watching all these young people I've known since they were children grow into the wonderful adults they've become, is so amazing and thrilling. Besides being an all-around great person, Sherece is also an amazing knitter. I mean a really, truly amazing knitter. I was really impressed when she said that she took her knitting into the casinos in Las Vegas and sat down in a corner and knit while her husband and friends gambled. I am still laughing about that.

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