Saturday, July 27, 2013

Friend-ly Reunions

This has been the summer of “friend-ly reunions” for me.  I’ve had the joy of visiting with people who make a big difference in my life’s journey.  Some for the first time in person and some for the first time in a while.  

Having a sister is like having a best friend you can never get rid of. You know whatever you do, they'll still be there.  -Amy Li

This picture evokes too many captions to mention. It was tough for me going from an only to the oldest!  

They called us the Easter Eggs because we had different hair color even before hair dye came into the picture.

My sister Ann is visiting this weekend.  We are having a blast but missing our little sister Mary.  Sniff. If I don't comment quickly enough, it is because we are out having too much fun antiquing.

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one.  ― C.S. Lewis

Piper and I met at last year's Moonlight and Magnolias but cemented our bond over Royal Baby news.

Mary and I have been writing buddies for a while now but roomed together at RWA. And we didn't kill each other! 
Speaking of sisters, I just got back from RWA in Atlanta where I was united with writing pals, Piper Huguley and Mary Curry.  I keep saying they are sisters of the heart but they also are encouragers of the first order.  

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.  - Albert Schweitzer

My friend Renee and her husband Tommy. Why yes, they ARE dressed like Rhett and Scarlett!
Another great thing about going to Atlanta was seeing my friend from divinity school days, Renee, and her husband. They recently moved back to the East Coast from California. Encouragement is also a theme of our relationship through all our various adventures in ministry.

“It was only high school after all, definitely one of the most bizarre periods in a person’s life. How anyone can come through that time well adjusted on any level is an absolute miracle.”  ― E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

     Back in the day, we rocked Gunne Sax. I am in the middle seated. Donna is at the end kneeling.
Earlier this summer, my friend Donna traveled all the way to Outer Banks from California to be with her  East Coast family. Then she drove eight hours round trip to see the infamous screened porch project and me. Now that is a good friend.  I think we started talking the moment she arrived and kept at it until she departed.  We talked surviving high school, our faith journey and more.  Just picked up where we left off.

Like fine cheeses, we have aged pretty well. Donna better than me!

I fixed something quick and easy for our visit, not wanting to waste time cooking when I could spend the time visiting.  It is tomato season here and I decided a caprese salad would be the ticket.  My variation involved miniaturizing the ingredients. Everyone knows anything is cuter when it is tiny. I added fresh bread and brownies from the local bakery and voila. Lunch!

This was the perfect lunch for sustaining hours of talking!

Marinated Caprese Salad
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1 container mini mozzarella balls
1 package romaine lettuce, torn up
1 bunch asparagus
1/3 cup olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T Italian spices or dry Italian dressing blend
Shaved parmesan cheese

Mix the oil, vinegar and spices. Pour in a bowl. Add tomatoes and mozzarella balls. Stir, cover and refrigerate at least one hour.  
Toss asparagus in a tablespoon of olive oil and a dash of salt. Roast for 20 minutes at 350.
Arrange romaine lettuce on a plate. Place still warm asparagus spears across lettuce. Top with tomatoes and mozzarella.  Shave parmesan over salad.  Serves 3-4.

I've learned over time it is better to have an easy meal when you know you're going to be yacking. Small bites, carbs to keep you going, and plenty of water to drink so your mouth doesn't get dry.

So, what about you? Have you had friendly or family reunions this summer? Is there one reunion you wish you could set up?  


  1. I usually see family at Christmas - not everyone nor as long as I'd like - but since my parents passed in 2011 and I've been living 4-8 hrs from everyone for almost 23 yrs I haven't been as close to the extended family. I'd like to be closer to my brother but we're 6 hrs apart and he's not one for phone or huggy/kissy stuff. another cousin I'd like to see has changed so much and the way she lives I dont think I'd feel safe staying with her...what I miss the most is the Christmas Eve with my mom's side of the family and Christmas Day with my dad's side - with the uncles and aunts and cousins I remember - now it's so extended they've split up - cousins are now grandparents and those distant cousins have shifted there now.

    1. It's tough when family doesn't use technology well. My dad just started using email in his 80s and still isn't comfortable.

      I am sorry about your cousin. I often believe those longings are prompted to pray for folks we may not see but know are troubled.

      Amazing how friends and family move all over, isn't it?

      Peace, Julie

  2. When I was growing up, family reunions were almost weekly affairs! My dad and his brothers-in-law met up at my widowed grandmother's house to do projects for her, and we cousins got to play.

    My husband, growing up with 7 brothers and sisters and nearly 100 cousins all living in the same township, doesn't understand how my cousins could be as close to me as siblings. I have one brothers, so my cousins became my substitute sisters.

    Since we've married and moved all over creation, I don't get to see them very often - and we don't make it home to the yearly family reunions. But technology is great. Keeping in touch with family is the reason I joined facebook in the first place! The bonus is finding high school and college friends, too:)

    Sadly though, at our age and distance, family reunions occur most often at funerals. Not only do we get to see our families then, but we NEED them. No one knows how to support someone in grief like someone who's right there going through it with you.

  3. So true on the funerals. Thank goodness we can share happy times over FB.

  4. My family doesn't get together all that often, mainly because there are 7 of us (well, 8 now, since a half-brother discovered us nearly 4 years ago) and 2 have health issues that make it difficult to travel. We just had a mini reunion last Saturday at my sister's house about 45 minutes west of our place. Mine was the only entire family (us, our 2 kids, their spouses, and our 5 grandkids) to be there, mainly because everyone else's families are spread out. But one sister and brother-in-law flew in from California, so of course we had to get together. One brother drove up from NC with his wife. Half-brother and his wife drove in from NJ. Another sister and brother-in-law had been there in the morning really quickly before leaving to meet up with her son and then drove back to PA.

    When you get that many people together, there isn't much time for one-on-one interaction. My CA sister said to me as our daughter and her family were leaving, "Melanie! I haven't seen you for more than 5 minutes." Well, it's because my family escaped into the back yard to play with the kids! ;-) Sometimes we can only handle so much from the 2 oldest (they're twins)--they are quite the talkers. I don't talk; I just write long. :D

    And then there was this past Thursday--at a funeral. My mother-in-law's only sibling passed away on Monday, and we weren't looking forward to going because my husband's youngest sister (he's the oldest of 3 kids and the only guy) disowned our family nearly 4 1/2 years ago. It's awful to be within 5 feet of a person and they won't look at you; it's like being snubbed to the max. It was tough going to lunch at the in-laws' independent living cafe; thankfully the peace was kept. But I felt so awkward being there... And the only reason we went was to support my in-laws.

    So glad we have our supportive, loving and encouraging church family.

    Your caprese salad sounds good. I might have to copy and paste the recipe to share with our daughter and daughter-in-law. My hubby and son won't eat it, at least not the tomatoes, sigh.

    Thanks for sharing, Julie! *hugs*

    1. And hugs to you. Yes, there is the dark side to family reunions or lack thereof.

      I am so glad you mentioned church families. People in communities who support and love each other through the hard times.

      I always say writers write what they can't say out loud!

      Peace and prayers to you, Julie

  5. My family was like Jan's with the frequent get-togethers when I was growing up. We all lived near each other and cousins spent a lot of time together.

    By contrast, my children don't know their cousins well at all because we live in different states and rarely see each other, especially now that they are grown.

    Friends - conference is so good for that. I have to admit, I'm so glad I have the RWA flash drive because I really spent more time connecting with people than in workshops. Rooming with Julie was such a blessing and a lovely discovery of how well we meshed.

    1. Mary, shhhhh. You weren't supposed to tell people how much we played hookie and learned a lot from each other!

      Still going through withdrawal from your encouraging presence.

      Peace, Julie

    2. To Whom it Mat Concern,
      Julie was VERY good and attended workshops like the CDC one on epidemics.

      I attended when possible, but editor/ agent appointments were often in the middle of two workshops making it difficult to attend either.

      But I learned a lot and have mp3s to extend the conference experience.

    3. That should have said may concern

    4. I still haven't loaded my flashdrive. It better work!

  6. YUMMERS, JULIEEEEE!!!!! So glad you are having such a great summer!!

    1. It is easy when surrounded by great people!

  7. What fun! I loved seeing the photos. Check out that diaper your sister has on! :)

    Oh, and the Gunne Sax dresses!!! Julie, we must be about the same age. Those were really big when I was in junior high and maybe into high school. We would wear our "maxi dresses" for our school photos. I have a great one with me in 7th grade in a long dress and bright pink lip gloss. :)

    1. Missy, cloth diapers are back but I wonder about Gunne Sax. I wore them for every major celebration in high school including the prom. But we weren't allowed to wear maxi skirts in elementary and middle school. Too hippy for the principals.