Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
A holiday diary, one of my favorite types. Over the years, we have celebrated American Independence Day with friends in Ukraine, Germany, and, of course, America. We now have a record spanning twenty years and it is fun to see the changes that have happened. Were you part of any of these parties? (1999, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2018)
The 2019 Fourth of July started quietly. A morning tour of the rose garden yielded a few nice flowers. This will end soon, as the Fresno heat will start to take over and roses will bud, die, and dry out in the course of a single day. Enjoy it while we can.
Meanwhile, the neighborhood was going about its morning: Vern was reading the newspaper on his porch, Steve was doing garden therapy, and Kent was hunting bugs. It's what he does. Professionally. (Entomology professor.)
Across Cambridge Avenue from our house, the neighborhood hawk family was enjoying the morning too. Three of the four-bird family were perched in the tree, sometimes looking down at me as I was looking up at them, but mostly starting the day with a good breakfast. They seemed to take turns picking apart a poor little bird victim and guarding against competition.
Of course, we were having a couple dozen people over for a neighborhood BBQ, so I did have to get to work. Our back yard is bigger than I had originally wanted, but we have made it relatively low effort, even for entertaining. One of my first parts of party prep was to get rid of an uninvited guest, a good-sized Black Widow, with a couple of fuzzy nest balls. Yikes.
I also rearranged the seating, bringing over the two-seat bar and the it's-five-o'clock-somewhere sign. Seemed appropriate. The Munich beer hall tables came over as well, bringing with them memories of July 4th parties in our old Bavarian barn. That was a tradition for us in the old country and even Germans know the holiday.
At 4:00-ish, neighbors started showing up and pretty soon the conversations started, as they always do. A good bunch to celebrate with.
Athletics were available. The bocce court was clean and available, but the garage ping pong venue had also been arranged. Staying in the shaded garage seemed a better idea.
As usual, there was far more food than the group could possibly eat. Susan, Jon, Steve, and Gloria brought delicious Colombian barbecue. Jeanne brought great pork ribs, corn salad, cookies, and ice cream. All low calorie. Babi and Reuben brought giant hot dogs and a couple dozen deviled eggs. Marianne and I contributed hot dogs and "obstkuchen", both traditions from past Independence Day celebrations. Steve brought a cheese, crackers, and cold cuts plate and good wine. I forget what others brought (sorry), except for the fancy, patriotically-decorated, chocolate cake made by Eloise and Hazel. Thanks to all!
Dr. Professor Kent wandered away from the group to do a bit of backyard bug hunting. He bagged a giant golden something-or-other and put it into one of his ever-present specimen bottles. Do your barbecue guests come with nets and specimen bottles? Ours do. However, guest reaction was ... varied.
On a less serious note, Gloria introduced us to Columbian firewater, aquadente DE cans. It has a strong licorice flavor, different from the similar Brazilian sugar cane liquor. The Brazilian flavor is closer to turpentine. Joan thought blending a mixed shot would be best. Few agreed.
As darkness approached, our barbecue broke up, three-and-a-half hours after starting. Jon claimed that was the longest-lasting Cambridge party on record. We consider that a real compliment and will certainly add this to our fond memories of Independence Day gatherings.
For the younger set, Independence Day was not over until there were sparklers and fireworks. They were correct, of course.
So, after a full Independence Day, Cambridge Avenue settled down to the quiet it started with - almost. This year it seemed like the sound of explosions and fireworks continued well into the wee hours. At least our street was not contributing.
We hope to continue this tradition for years to come, but first we need to concentrate on Marianne's art show.
John and Marianne