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Ready Aim Shoot

The highlight of the neighborhood every summer is our block party. It’s open to everyone on Calista Court but there are infiltrators from nearby streets that are drawn to our fun.  W don’t kick them out because it’s good to get to know everyone who lives in our division. Since we live in the center of the street, most of the events are set up right in front of our house. It does require Steve to hose down the street the day after, but any excuse to hang out with a hose and water works for him. Harold always joins him to remove any lingering spills and they can talk for hours out there.

Judy Anne was coordinating the party this year with help from a committee of other neighbors. Everyone had received a flyer with all the pertinent info in their mail slots. Chloe had picked up my mail from the floor behind the front door slot and cared for Snowball while we were away, so I read the block party news when we returned. A couple of new events had been added that the children would like. The sidewalks would be the site for chalk drawing and Zettie Louise was breaking out her archery target for the older kids. That was probably the mysterious project that Junior was helping her with.

The dessert contest was still fruit based. I was worried about the effects of hot weather on my Bananas and Strawberry Pudding Icebox cake but I was still committed to the challenge. My last one unfolded nicely and Steve loved it. Daisy ate all the whipped cream off the top and followed that by eating the strawberries. It wasn’t so pretty in the eating stage.

The morning of the party was cool and sunny and as soon as the sawhorses were in place blocking the street, the men starting putting up the tables, signs were placed and the obstacle course was set up. Zettie Louise mounted her target on the flatbed of a truck parked in the center of the street away from the food. A genius idea; the arrows would be caught in the truck if they didn’t hit the mark. After the morning work was done, the guys returned home to shower and dress. I had purchased new Bermuda shorts for Steve and me that matched – baby blue. He wasn’t crazy about the idea, but went along with it because our shirts didn’t match.

I set up my chairs out front and gradually everyone in my group brought theirs out also to form a good semi-circle viewing area. I brought out two extra so Chloe would feel comfortable. I had found new red, white and blue webbed chairs and thought they would be appropriate for either France or the States, so Chloe could choose where to sit. I knew Steve would make Frances hang with the men at the grilling area.

First block parties can be intimidating. As the neighborhood guys started their grilling tasks, the beer keg was tapped and the glorious smells of summer barbecue started. Everyone brought out their side dishes and desserts. Judy Anne danced around the tables adjusting and directing the food placement. After I put out my food, I sat down with Daisy behind me drawing on our sidewalk. Chloe, Frances and Marie Claire came out and joined us. Steve came by and stole Frances away and I reached over to get a drink from the cooler. Steve had iced down my favorite selections of pop from Friel’s. That was when I noticed a second cooler and opened it to find pale pink wine swimming in ice water. I usually have some special drink selected for the party but was lazy this year and didn’t plan ahead. Chloe reached over and deftly opened a bottle and tossed the cork back into the ice water. Chloe had supplied the special beverage. She let me know that ice water was the secret to great chilled French wine. Chloe pulled wine glasses from her bag, poured the pretty liquid and handed me a glass just as Mags, Sarah, Edie and Gail came walking up. They had all brought their own wine glasses. Apparently, I was the only one unprepared. We toasted Judy Anne as she flopped down into an open chair. With everything in place, another block party began. Some strangers from around the next block checked it out and we encouraged them to stay and have fun. Daisy and Marie Claire rode the obstacle course on their bikes and decorated our sidewalks. Junior worked the crowd playing archery with Zettie Louise. Steve and the men cooked and we all ate well.

My dessert didn’t win any prizes and it was pretty sloppy looking after a few spoonfuls had been removed. But Chloe had a Tart Tatin that everyone raved about. The hot food was great and the men had simmered some bratwurst in a big pot on one of the grills. So smart. The old me might have been disappointed that I didn’t go to the trouble of selecting a special drink for the day or presenting a beautiful dessert. In truth, everything worked out without my planning well. In fact, that apple dessert Chloe made went perfectly with the wine. I should let go more; maybe not frequently, but just enough to let something unplanned happen. Who knows what could happen if I planned less?

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