THIS GATHERING OF THE Yard Man's mother's kin has taken place with regularity every two years for the past...uh...umpteen years. There are numerous spots where this extended family has convened, but the retreat center in the Big Valley where we met this past weekend is a definite favorite.
Really, Reader Dear, there's just very little not to love about this place.
There's the VIEW, displaying nature in a fantastic gussied-up state!
There's the AREA. If one gets a notion to pile into a van and drive around the countryside, taking in the scenery and the local Amish farms and stores and market stands, one will not be disappointed!
(One might come to a greenhouse that looks like a mini-Henry's!)
(One might come to this hanging-basket-and-moon-pie-selling stand where the young sales clerk looks familiar!)
But...oh, where was I? Enumerating the glories of this reunion spot...
The FOOD (cooked up and served by the folks who run this retreat center) is not fancy, but it certainly pleases the palate! Freshly homemade breads, fresh strawberry jam. Turkey and mashed potatoes. Salad with wow-such-yummy-dressing. Freshly-baked cookies and whoopie pies. Get the picture, Reader Dear? (One might think to oneself, How often do I get the chance to eat this way?! [And then one might answer, Why, every two years, of course (such a rarity)!] And then one will likely eat with impunity!)
Last but not least is the LAUGHTER (Although, come to think of it, one must carry this along in; it's not provided by the center) It just happens, this particular group with which I met always has an abundance! One of the Yard Man's aunts brought a long list of "actual announcements found in church bulletins."
I'll share just a few, Reader Dear. If a tiny smile doesn't lift the corners of your mouth as you read, what can I say? Perhaps you've got to be sitting in a group of guffawing kin to find these amusing. (We read the list four times, as we had to repeat for various new arrivals. We rocked the big deck [another great feature of this place] with our comments and wisecracks and outbursts of laughter each time!)
--Don't let worry kill you. Let the church help.
--For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
--Tuesday at 4 p.m. there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk please come early.
--The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind and they may be seen in the church basement on Friday.
--Mrs. Johnson will be entering the hospital this week for testes.
--This week the pastor will be on vacation. Massages may be given to the church secretary.
--Thursday at 5 p.m. there will be a meeting of the Little Mothers Club. All wishing to become Little Mothers, please see the minister in his private study.
--The rosebud on the altar this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Belzer, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer.
Haven't cracked a smile, Reader Dear? Here's my personal favorite, and the final one. If you've pursed your lips and slightly rolled your eyes, finding nothing amusing about the list so far, well...er...this might be the one for you!
--The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday:
"I Upped my Pledge--Up Yours!"
(I didn't even want to mention this, Reader Dear, after this most glowing report,
but there could be one tiny drawback to this place.
Should you happen to make just a slight wrong turn* as you're eagerly expecting imminent arrival at the center, you're in for never-ending loop-de-loop!
Of course, you do come to an end eventually and you'll be in some perplexing location, feeling jostled and joyless. When you ask for directions, the woman will say,
"Go back about six or seven miles, the same way you came..."
*Very slim odds, Reader Dear.
(And "jostled and joyless" is just
for effect. You might only be