September 15, 2007: Living La Vida Ohio

Dominica and I were pretty sleepy this morning. I got up around nine thirty and had a pretty good lead on Dominica and Oreo who weren’t even thinking about waking up yet. I showered and dressed and went over to visit with dad for a while until Dominica was up and ready to get breakfast. It was about eleven when she and Oreo came out and we all went down the street to Luna’s in Alliance for breakfast. We originally tried to go to Bob Evan’s but the line was way too long and once we were there Dominica and I both remembered eating at Luna’s the last time that we were out in Ohio so we went down the street in search of it.

After breakfast we went over to my grandparents’ house in East Canton, OH. It was a little after one in the afternoon when we got over there. We just hung out there, the five of us, until four thirty when it was time to drive out to Hartville to meet the rest of the family for dinner. My oldest cousin, Gwen, is living upstairs with my grandparents these days. She and her boyfriend, Mike, stopped by momentarily to say hi but had to run out and run some errands before dinner. So it was a quiet afternoon.

At four thirty we bundled into two cars – Dominica and I always need to drive separately to make sure that Oreo has a comfortable car to sleep in where he won’t panic – and drove out to Hartville to eat at the Hartville Kitchen. For the past several years dad has been raving about the Hartville Kitchen but Dominica and I have not yet had a chance to eat there. Just last night Dominica had expressed that she really wanted to eat there and was hoping that we would get to today after I had discovered a brochure for the restaurant in the lobby of the Comfort Inn in Alliance.

Today we are celebrating, a bit belated, my grandparents’ sixtieth wedding anniversary.  They were married, July 4, 1947!  This weekend was the first opportunity for everyone to get together.  Dominica and my schedules, my dad’s schedule and my grandfather’s health have been major factors determining when we would be able to get together to celebrate but fortunately we were able to find something that worked for everyone without having to wait too long.

It didn’t take long for the rest of the family to arrive. Everyone made it from our immediate Myers family except for my youngest cousin Monica. Monica is the only one of my cousins (on either side) still in high school. I only have five cousins in total, two from the Miller side that both grew up and live in New York and three from the Myers side that all grew up and live in Ohio. All four of the other cousins are in college currently which technically, since I am doing my Master’s degree currently includes me and Dominica as well as the only spouse among the cousins who is currently working on her second Bachelor’s degree.  Monica just moved into her first apartment in the last two days or so.  Now all of the girls of my generation have moved out from home and all of the boys except for me are still living at home.  So she is busy dealing with her new home.

Dinner at the Hartville Kitchen was very good.  The Hartville Kitchen is a Mennonite restaurant specializing in “comfort foods” of the upper midwest.  Dominica had the broiled fish which she really loved and dad and I both got the “fish and shrimp” which is fried cod and shrimp.  You get a choice of three hearty sides with your meal making the “normal sized” main meal portions inconsequential as the side dishes generally equal far more volume than the meal proper.  The sides were excellent as was the shrimp.  The friend fish was fine but I would avoid it personally and go for the all shrimp meal next time myself.  The “Kitchen” doesn’t really have much for true vegetarians but for ovo-lactovegaquarians like Dominica and myself there was plenty for us to eat.

The Hartville Kitchen is also renowned for their dessert selection with twenty home made pies and more but we were having dessert at my aunt and uncle’s house later in the evening so we decided to skip the dessert for now although I am sure that Dominica and I will be back to sample it at another time.  After dinner Dominica wanted to explore the Vera Bradley collection at the “Kitchen’s” shops.  They had the largest Vera Bradley collection that Dominica has ever seen.  It is funny to find such a large collection in such an out of the way place here in a small agri-community nestled between Canton and Akron, Ohio.  While Dominica was shopping Gwen, Mike and I explored the candy shop and discovered that they had the freshest Jelly Belly Jelly Beans that we had ever tasted so we bought several pounds of them between us.

After we were finished at the Hartville Kitchen we all drove over to my Aunt Marlene and Uncle Don’s house in Louisville to visit for the evening.   Monica managed to join us there.  Gwen brought a game called Mad Gab which Min and I had never heard of before.  Mad Gabs is based on mondegreens which are mishearings of words or phrases as a homophone.  We managed to come up with two teams of four – the young team of Gwen, Mike, Molly and Brett versus the old team of Dominica, my Aunt Cheryl, my Aunt Gayle and me.  The old team won the first round, lost the second and game back to win the tie breaking third round.  Dominica and I quickly discovered the secret to the game – having just one team member read the mondegreen and have the others listen as most of the challenge of the game is created by the psychological impact of visually seeing the mondegreen.  Playing the game without having this visual stumbling block makes it much easier.  The game is a lot of fun.

We had dessert – cake, cheesecake, blueberry pie and, of course, elderberry pie.  Elderberry pie is a family specialty and one of my dad and my personal favourties.  My grandmother knows that I love elderberry and that I can only get it when she bakes it for me in Ohio.  Elderberries are not generally very popular in American culture although many people have contact with them as they are one of the main flavourings of the anise drink: Sambuca.  Here is a tip – elderberries should not be eaten raw as they contain cyanide.

Oreo had a great time at the party.  He ran all over the house playing with one person or another.  He was a little nervous being in a new place but for the most party he had a lot of fun and got a lot of exercise.

It was really great to get to see the family.  It is very seldom that we are all able to be together and my grandmother was really happy that all of her children, all of their children, all of the spouses and all of the significant others all made it for the anniversary party.

Dominica and I were tired and went back to the hotel a little after eleven.  We just can’t keep up with these party animals anymore.

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