Saturday, September 15, 2007

9/10 - 9/15/07 Patrick's Point & Matzah Balls

The campout at Patrick’s Point was far grander than I could have imagined. The state park was like fairy heaven and each view was lovelier than the last. The kids hiked back and forth throughout the park, to vistas and to the beach. Sarah collected white pebbles with her friends and Dave stumbled across a harbor seal five feet away on on his walks.

The campers at the HSC annual event were a real treat. I made many new friends and the kids were welcomed into their midst. There were about 150 people, 50 parents and 100 kids. Of those, 40 were teenagers. Sarah met many teens that she knew from the Sacramento conference. Almost all were unschoolers and their easy, relaxed manner and wonderful enjoyable teens gave me many examples of good parenting.

This miserable cold has lingered. I finally got a squeaky voice back, but the cold moist air hasn’t done me any good. I stayed mostly at the RV during the day or ran errands to the grocery store or shipping Dave’s disabled computer back home.

In the evening I met back up with the group for their unbelievable potluck dinners. Each one of the meals, cooked from coolers on coleman stoves or in cast iron pots in the coals of the campfire, many vegetarian or vegan, were delicious.

Before the get together, I emailed the HSC Camping group and offered to make a special addition to the evening potluck in honor of Rosh Hashanah. I planned on serving matzah balls and chicken soup, round braided sweet challahs, honeyed carrots, apples and honey. Before the campout I didn't have a feeling for the number of people who would be attending and the difficulties in cooking in my RV kitchen.

The matzah ball soup project was a learning lesson. I gratefully found eight boxes of Streight’s mix in Morgan Hill and boxes of chicken broth. I got advice from Demi and pulled out my biggest pots. They were perfect. I learned some good techniques the first day as I made 75 matzah balls. I was confused on how to store them and called Demi for more advice. Yikes - they have to be stored in liquid!

Learning curve moment – the shelves of my refrigerator don’t come out. Decided to store them in a 3-gallon ziplock bag. Mistake! The bag leaked and the drawer below the fridge filled with chicken broth which thankfully stopped the RV carpet from being flooded. It was quite easy to clean the broth out of the drawer.

The next day spent a leisurely day making real chicken soup, finishing another 85 matzah balls and packing to take the final prep stage to the campsite. The teens prepared the apples and sliced the ten round challahs I’d ordered from a bakery in Arcada. Another mom made the honeyed-orange juice carrots. I heated three giant pots of soup and matzah balls. Two were chicken and one was vegetarian. (There is a large percentage of vegetarians and vegans, many cars sporting “biodiesel” bumper stickers and an amazing lack of paper plates and water bottles.)

Everything went perfectly! It felt wonderful to have pulled off soup and matzah balls for 150 people.

Afterwards the teens passed out leftover glow necklaces and bracelets from Sarah's bat mitzvah. As it got dark, it was perfect since there was also a talent show in the evening. Dave was involved in a Magic tournament so he was chatting with boys his age and dueling. Sarah was having a blast but had a very stuffy nose.

On Friday night we had another potluck evening dinner at the campground – it was the last night that the largest part of the group would be there. Most start to head home on Saturday. At the very end of the night, Dave made a joke about Sarah about something personal in front of her friends. While the joke was essential “true,” Sarah was mortified and furious at Dave. Furious might be too light of a word – maybe livid, enraged and incensed might be more descriptive – or all of them.

On Saturday, Sarah worked things out with her friends and Dave stayed back at the RV. There were lots of hugs goodby and promises to come back next year. It was a remarkable group of parents and the teens were charming.

I’m starting to plan for the next leg of our journey to Medford tomorrow. I’m looking forward to a more convenient urban life. We have big cleaning plans and I need to get the bicycles, Direct TV, Verizon cell phone repairs all managed. We need supplies like toilet paper for an RV and some storage boxes for underneath.

I’ll be glad to go – there has been so much emotion here – but I think in retrospect, the lessons of matzah ball making and high holidays amidst the redwoods, the nature of speaking the “truth”, and accepting one’s true self will stick with us always.

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