Later, I graded papers and watched part of John McCain’s funeral, some of which almost brought me to tears. I often disagreed with him but never did I question his passionate love of country, his courage, his willingness to buck the norm, to defy convention when he thought it was the right thing to do. I think he and I shared certain values on which this country is based even if the country as a whole rarely lives up to them. These include the conviction that all people are equal, that everyone deserves justice, and each person carries the right to find his or her own share of happiness without judgment and condemnation from others who may think differently.
Later, while working on the latest book I am writing, I found handwritten recipes written by my grandmother, my mother’s mother, Nellie Narcissus Duke (Kaiser),whose father came here from Switzerland as a child. One, for dumplings, remains readable. The other written in pencil on the front and back of thin paper is fragile. It is for Strawberry Shortcake. If Grandmother Duke ever made dumplings, I do not remember it. Mother did–chicken and dumplings. I wonder if she used this recipe. I do remember conversations about the shortcake because Dad did not like strawberry shortcake even though he liked strawberries. I took photos of these two recipes written decades ago in my grandmother’s handwriting.
This day, like many, has flown by in a whirl wind. On May 3, I am hosting a benefit for a local senior citizens’ center. We will have a silent auction, food, and drinks. Over one hundred invitations have been sent, but only a few have actually bought tickets in spite of the fact that quite a few people have told me they plan to attend. Customs vary in different parts of the United States. When I lived east of the Mississippi River, people actually religiously responded to request for an RSVP. Here in the Texas Panhandle, not so much. At this juncture, I have no clue how many people will show up.
About two and on half hours ago, my friends showed up with the forks and spoons and plates and wine and auction items. These items currently reside in one of the guest bedrooms and the garage. We decided to have some wine and then I dug out cheese and crackers and some more wine and more cheese and crackers. And we visited.
A downside of United States life for me is the pace. Everything is done in a huge hurry. People even gulp their food. I especially notice the difference when I spend time with people from other cultures who take hours to eat dinner and visit. When one of my best friends from India lived here and I invited others over, we took hours to eat and visit. Recently, when a US friend brought his exchange student from Italy over to ride my horse and his daughter and wife showed up as well, we rode, and then fixed dinner. We cooked, visited, and ate leisurely. The young woman said she felt so at home because we were spending time, visiting, cooking, everything leisurely. I frequently cook dinner very late by US standards, e.g. eight o’clock at night. When my exchange students from South America lived with me, they thought this was normal. People there eat late by standards here. My daughter tells me I have become more and more like all these people from other countries with whom I spend time. I laugh.
Tonight’s experience further validated my belief in the value of friends and time spent with them. This was not one of those planned, elaborate events. We just sat, drank, ate, and enjoyed the pleasure of each other’s company. It was wonderful.