Last night's dinner with the camp counselors went well. I was nervous about it, and those of you who are better at these social occasions might wonder why.
I knew it would be just me and the 5 camp counselors for dinner. I'd have been less nervous if some of the church VBS leaders had tagged along, but they had been working VBS all day, so I understood why they didn't want to make the trek to my house.
I had decided to make chicken with poblano mole sauce. It's been a success when I've served it before, but it's unusual. I made a black bean and corn salad to go with it, and I put out tortillas and tortilla chips. I hoped that people would find enough to eat.
Happily, they loved the chicken. They took seconds of everything. We talked about Wednesday's dinner. I worried that they get pasta too often. They've been staying in people's houses all summer, and some of them have been doing this for several years, and they said they've never had spaghetti. So, I will make my pasta with marinated veggies, along with some meatballs in a tomato sauce, and I'll let them decide how to combine it all.
I find it fascinating that I'm making meals for 4 college students and a high school student, and no one is a vegetarian or a vegan.
The item that makes me most nervous about hosting a get together with people I don't know is the question of what we'll talk about. I needn't have worried. Our conversation was wide ranging, from all the foods one can deep fry (squares of mac and cheese anyone?) to strange food combinations, like peanut butter on a burger to various camp experiences, some with food, some not. We spent a lot of time after dinner talking about musical instruments.
The high school student was fascinated by the dulcimer, which I bought for $40, but never taught myself to play. Actually, it would be more accurate to say I taught myself, but now I don't remember--it was a brief season with the dulcimer.
By the end of the evening, he played it with a bit of a slide guitar sound. As always, I'm fascinated by how people play instruments when they've had no training. What makes some of us frozen with fear, while others explore? And I was intrigued by the fact that all of us can play the ukulele, to some extent. Is the ukulele becoming more popular? Or was it just some fluke? I suspect it has to do with how affordable an instrument it is and how accessible.
They stayed for about an hour and a half after dinner. We talked not only about musical instruments, but about camp experiences, both the residence camp and the travelling to churches to assist with VBS camps. I was interested to know what kinds of lodging they'd had. They've stayed in people's guest rooms mostly, with a sleep sofa here and there. So our cottage is perfectly fine; in fact, one of them said, "If I was a college student here, I'd love to rent something like this cottage."
As I cleaned up, I tried not to notice all the ways I'd failed to clean my house for them--I was too busy getting the cottage in shape. I had clean dishes and a clean bathroom, but my floors could use a sweeping, and let's not talk about the dust.
I decided long ago that I can't keep up the housekeeping standards of a past generation. But I don't want to let that fact keep me from extending hospitality. I suspect that most people don't even notice the dust--or they say, "Hey, I'm not the only one who lets the dusting get away from me."
I'd like to have people over more often--but that often requires a feat of scheduling that's beyond me. So for now, let me be happy to have had this experience--and its reinforcement of my belief that this hospitality is a worthy skill to practice.
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