I have been away for a spell caring for my family and living life on a daily basis. As I write this I can sigh and smile that all has returned to normal, save for a bit of swollen cheeks and a mere hint of bruising on Miss Lydia's part. The day she returned to the music room and I heard the glissandos falling from her harp I knew we had weathered the storm and calm had returned.
In returning to the internet, I noted that storms had sprung up in many lives. Thankfully my dear friend, Karen Deborah in Mississippi, has come through Hurricane Gustav without incident. Our prayers continue as the season of storms keeps going. Our heat spell has finally broken here and our evenings cool off, as does our house, and we sleep peacefully. Our deck-building project has progressed to the painting stage with railing due in a week or so. We had hoped to spend Labor Day on the deck dining sumptuously. Due to the ladders, dropcloths, and railing-free outdoor setting, we opted to take our repast in the dining room.
Now most of you enjoy family gatherings, cookouts, BBQs, and the like on this "holiday" and we do too. However, I did not plan, prepare, or cook a morsel (and I didn't last year either). Instead, a five-star Swiss chef descends on my pre-heated grill with the finest of meats marinaded to perfection, accompanied by delectable salads/rice dishes, and followed up with the most heavenly chocolate mousse I have ever tasted! (Sounds like a Faery Tale Friday post, right? I can just picture some of you scratching your heads and wondering if I jest. Well ... I don't.)
We've been blessed with a five-star-friendship in Karl and Lily Resch, proprietors of Swiss House . Many years ago we crossed the threshold of Swiss House in search of a festive meal (an anniversary celebration) and marveled at the excellent food and friendly European service found in our tiny Sierra town. On a subsequent visit Lily approached Gary with a question: "Are you a contractor? I need to hire somebody to install a light fixture for me." To make a long story quite short, he answered "No," then added, "But I can probably take care of it for you." He did and we entered the friendly domain of regular customers.
Time passed and the friendship blossomed. The following Christmas Karl gifted our family with a strudel of such exquisite form and flavor that it still lingers prominently in our memory: Delicate pastry, tartly/sweet apples, bathed in a vanilla custard sauce that makes my mouth water even now as I am writing with only a memory to stimulate. The next Christmas we invited them to join us for our family celebration as they have no family in range for gatherings. They accepted and I promptly panicked. Do you know what it feels like to realize that you just invited a five-star chef to your home for a meal (especially one with a reputation for having THE CLEANEST KITCHEN IN THE COUNTY -- I got that from a source directly related to a health inspector)? I prayed, I planned, I cooked and I CLEANED! They arrived with a delicious gift of mousse in a very large serving bowl (I don't need a vague memory of this treat, my thighs sigh out contentedly on that issue). We dined, we laughed, we celebrated with Christmas crackers and party hats and hugs.
Over the years, we have joined together to celebrate Father's Day, Labor Day, Chinese New Year, and so on. We have dined with them for Swiss fondue and Chinese Hot Pot or ventured to other restaurants to enjoy, Chinese, Japanese, and Thai cuisines. My palate swoons whenever we set a date for a get together We even purchased our outdoor gas grill when Karl suggested he would come and grill for us if we had a grill. We bought one and asked his approval. He smiled. We salivated.
Life offers us so many opportunities to learn and grow and love. Meeting Karl and Lily opened our eyes to a whole new world of European and Asian upbringings and cultural customs, unique memories of visiting numerous exotic locales around the world, and world-class restaurant careers, coupled with the unique love story of a Chinese woman living in Hawaii who meets up with an internationally-acclaimed chef -- well, you know ... the rest is history. The cultural and emotional aspects read like a fairytale, yet the reality of reaching for happily ever after as restaurant owners in our town took much hard work, careful planning, and the occasional risk. They enrich our lives and those of our children with wisdom and affection and encouragement to follow your dreams, but be willing to work hard along the way.
This past Monday found us all eager to get together, celebrate life over great food, and talk, talk, talk. We discussed Elizabeth's current journey away at school, Lydia's recent surgery and speedy recovery (she ate meat for the first time since the wisdom teeth removal -- she couldn't bear to pass up any of Chef Karl's fantastic creations), and of course politics and world events. Naturally the fast-approaching elections held center stage. Both Karl and Lily have been U.S. citizen's for over 35 years, but thus far only Karl has ever exercised his right to vote. Lily always preferred to abstain. But not this year! She came in the front door with hugs and greetings and exclamations that she had found a reason to register to vote and she was ready to do it. (I just happened to have the forms ready and waiting ... just in case.)
When Karl and Lily bid goodbye I paused with a lump in my throat when I saw her with that voter form tucked under her arm. Her enthusiasm to cast a vote rather than a stone reminded me that I once held unjaded and enthusiastic hopes each election day. Somewhere along the way I had lost that enthusiasm felt so keenly at my first ballot for president in 1980. Of late, I felt ennui in the face of the dirt and mud of politics-as-usual and saw little reason to celebrate the changing of a guard that changed very little (if at all). Lily's shining smile and eagerness to register for this historic vote buoyed my spirits. We have choices -- stark ones, it would seem -- and the privilege to make them. I felt a rising of spirit -- patriotic spirit -- to participate in selecting a government FOR the people, BY the people, and OF the people. Lily's smile muted the cacophonous braying of the media, the partisans, and the mudslingers. I heard a tune of freedom ... and I started dancing.
Karl and Lily Resch