Two days late for St. Patrick's Day, but still timely for a fun afternoon of friends and family . . . and good food.
After arriving at the home of Donn and Debbie Irwin, masters of direct mail in the state of Washington and beyond (owners of Immedia), Peg and I sat down to munch and enjoy Randy Lord's description of how and why he fell in love with this wife, Sue.
As Randy carried on about the sophisticated impression she made on his lusty teenage heart, Sue rolled her eyes and begged him to stop his dissertation. Behind the banter was obvious affection. That's one of the great things about our group of friends. We laugh, we joke, we poke each other . . . and we all get along so well.
Besides the benefit of eating excellent food, a party like this is just sooooooo relaxing.
The house was pretty much left mostly to the women. I knew where the men would be, however. I entered the garage.
Gathered around a card table sitting in lawn chairs with dogs ambling between table and men legs, were friends John Reding of J.R. Reding - Furniture and Antique Restoration, Rob Erb, surveyor and partner with Sitts & Hill Engineers, and the Cabigting brothers Sean and Chad, sons of Debbie Irwin from a previous marriage and raised mostly by Donn and Debbie. All had glasses of Scotch and burning cigars.
I came into the room on the tail end of a discussion concerning the intelligence of rats headed by Sean and Chad. Sean works for Donn and Deb at Immedia. Chad is a Registered Nurse with culinary school experience, so he is really handy to have around for feasts with old people.
John Reding and I were chiming in. A fixture to John is the dog, Kota, who has full run of John's boat, Scot Free when he ever puts her down. Kota is his and fiancée Nan Peele's second Shiatsu. Sushi was also an avid sailor, but didn't have potty issues like Kota sometimes does.
As Chad talked about trained rats being able to sniff out military bombs on the battlefield and cancer issues among people. I mentioned that honey bees have been trained as service animals as well: quick to learn and reliable in their judgment. The honey bee knowledge is a result of reading Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis by Rowen Jacobsen.
I recommended the book to my book club of which John is a member. Everyone thought the book would be boring, and yet it turned out to be one of everyone's favorites. Exceeding expectations is always a goal of mine. Sometimes I achieve it. Other times . . . not so much.
A bit later the conversation changed to more trivial issues, well actually the SuperQuiz. Donn saves each quiz published daily in the Tacoma News Tribune and every once in a while pulls them out for entertainment. Most mornings Peg and I complete the SuperQuiz over coffee. The two of us are tough competition.
Around the coffee table Rob read each question. I kept my responses to myself since I knew most of the answers from my own knowledge and some from completing the quiz with Peg. The trivia quiz gives everyone a chance to participate and often answers are simply given in jest . . . ribald jest quite often at that.
Back in the house there was another game going. Rob and Vickie's granddaughter Elizabeth bullied Nan and Sue Lord into a game of Uno.
Nan originally declined to play Uno, but as Elizabeth offered to explain the rules insistently Nan gave in.
Actually, at each of Nan’s objection or excuse not to play, Elizabeth countered with reasoned ripostes. Elizabeth is the eldest of three daughters of Angela who is Rob and Vickie's youngest daughter.
Elizabeth has been reminded several times by grandmother Vickie that she is not to tell adults what to do, but at the top of the birth order Elizabeth knows it is her god given right to tell everyone what to do. She is cute and both Nan and Sue enjoyed playing with her. She probably won.
Peg and I first played Uno Attack at the Erb home and have known Elizabeth since she was born.
Back in the kitchen Donn was busily finishing up dinner. He prepared boiled potatoes, which Peg said were absolutely perfect, boiled cabbage, which had a wonderful flavor, and corned beef. Donn kept the spices to a minimum, but cooked the corned beef with onions and carrots, which added a wee bit of sweetness.
The ingredients and prepared dishes of the entire meal were contributed by everyone who participated for a great St. Patrick's Day Potluck. There were no rainbows, but there was good food.
John threatened everyone with what I think was a salmon and egg pie. It could well have been something that I would have enjoyed, but I thought it looked like a well-done salmon cookie. I didn't try it, but should have. It was probably good. Everything else was. I didn't snack on the Irish cheeses either and I know I would have liked those. You just can't eat everything, especially when the main course was still to come.
Food was out and ready (served at the kitchen table) to eat as soon as people began arriving. There were Irish cheeses, green bread, salmon, tortilla chips, red salsa, candy (chocolate Easter eggs) and Little Smokies wrapped with bacon. I think the Little Smokies came from an original recipe created by St. Patrick himself, which of course could not have been served on Fridays at the time.
As people snacked and drank coffee, wine, beer, and pop everyone talked and shared the latest stories. Sue (Sean's wife) and Megan (Chad's wife) had a chance to gossip and giggle. Sue and Sean live in Olympia, while Megan and Chad live North of Seattle.
Nan brought several briskets of corned beef for the get-together. In preparing the meat, Donn cut most of the fat off, but not all. It's a delicate balance. Too much fat or not enough fat? One is more healthy and one tastes better. Donn won the battle. The corned beef was tender and tasty. I had seconds. Peg sent me back for her second helping of beef.
I enjoyed the corned beef with no mustard or horseradish. For the cabbage I added a little pepper and since my friend Jan Runbeck wasn't there I added a little butter to my cabbage and a smeared it a little thicker on my raisin bread. Jan would have said nothing, but sometimes no comment speaks louder than words.
After dinner everyone settled down a little bit. On the couch Angela's youngest daughter, Ariana climbed first over Angela and then Vickie who was sitting next to me. Soon Ariana and I were flirting. I would make strange faces and she would smile. I would pop my lips and she would smile more. She is a cutie, too . . . not in addition to me, but rather to her two sisters Elizabeth and Emily. Soon, Elizabeth will probably have Emily and Ariana playing Uno with her. There will be no escaping the three pronged Uno attack.
In between mugging for Ariana I watched the March Madness basketball game between Gonzaga and Brigham Young. After a quick two baskets by BYU which extended their lead to ten points at the beginning of the second half I called it quits and left the TV to Chad for his Seattle Sounders game in New York City.
I gave Peg the high sign that I wanted to leave and Debbie caught us in the act. Dessert was served. There were two pies (chocolate and vanilla), Peg's fantastic streusel, and St. Patrick's Day Cookies from Mary's Burger Bistro.
I jokingly referred to Peg's streusel as a Five Pound Cake. It was fairly hefty. While she mixed all the ingredients, I toasted some pecans, walnuts, and almonds in olive oil, brown sugar, butter and salt for the topping.
I chose a slice of vanilla pie and a piece of streusel with whipped cream on both. Both were excellent. "Now, if only I had a piece of streusel twice as large and a cup of coffee . . . with some Bailey's Irish Cream," I thought to myself.
With hugs around and left-overs distributed, Peg and I left. It was a great party.