Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Effie's, Ever Enchanted...

                                                                                       Cathy and her Honey

There is something to be said about this journey, this gathering of faces, places, and friends. I have been surprised to the utmost--there is no lack of adventure here, amongst kinsfolk, and I have found a comfort in it.

Leaving Tamara's rustic farmstead, beyond the ghost-and-goat stories, I was touched by her constant WORRYING over me. Were the amenities at her house alright? Was it warm enough? Did I like the food I was eating? What did I want and need? She would get it for me AND pay for it (which continued the long-standing theme of Midwesterners who REFUSED to take my money)! I truly started to wonder whether there was something about my demeanor that garnered this attitude--was there a worry that I was too "city-fied," too judgmental?

Didn't Tamara know that there was nothing to worry about? Why didn't she think that everything was perfect? It didn't matter where we were, how fancy or primitive the conditions. It didn't matter what the food was, where it came from. I was amongst friends, and when one is truly amongst such fine people, it wouldn't be any matter what the accommodations--the companionship and camaraderie were the important thing.

I was sad to leave her. She was like the hard working, secretly cool older sister who advised everything, was tough as nails and somewhere, underneath those exterior layers, lay a truly good person with astute business sense and a fine heart compass. I like Tamara and hoped my wooly weird ways didn't scare her off. One of these days, I hope to see her again, I miss her unique outlook on life already.

Where was I headed? Into the grand, familiar arms of a long-time friend and one of the original reasons I had gotten myself into this crazy circus ride in the Midwest. I was off to the esteemed Miss Effie's--and finally crossing into Iowa--to stay with the amazing Cathy Lafrenz.

Cathy--sight unseen--agreed to host me when I first decided to do this mad-capped beekeeping tour a year ago. I owe her much in the success of this thing, and have experienced much because she was one of the first to take a chance on me.

In trying to describe Cathy, I always find myself at a loss....particularly does on describe the colorful tornado that IS this woman? Everything about her is so uniquely HER, that there is a grand lot of wordage needed to describe the wonderment that is her life. To be fair, almost every person I've met is, indeed, very unique but Cathy--and her alter-ego Miss Effie--are one big bundle of antique-loving, tea-cup-in-trees, flower-gardening, farm-eventing, sustainable-advocacy, knitting-diva, history-buff, cheese-making goddess, loud-and-happy rolled into one. My BEST attempt at describing the lovable force of nature that she is might best have been done HERE, and my stay this time was no different.

I have come to love the familiarity of her enchanted world, and perhaps now I needed this more than ever. I had been wandering enough, but here was a space to talk to Cathy and her sweet Honey husband, whom I considered family, and speak of my own family, loss, love, and other human things. There is no secret in that I felt the warm-fuzzies around that Iowa couple--they were always kind, funny, animated, and generous. They were a super-sweet duo, though I think Honey is more laid-back and Cathy is the spitfire of the two.

Speaking of spitfire--that was one of the new "additions" since I had last been to Eff's. The tea-cup covered tree, the green and brown egg-laying hens, the antiques all over the place--they were all still there, but there were four new kitten siblings amongst the barn cats, and I took it upon myself to name the skittish little bunch (too many years working at a vet clinic, I'm afraid). And so, Smoke (black with grey underhairs), Spitfire (the little one who hissed, screamed and spit when we tried to clean it's infected eye), Spot (the spotty one, of course) and Shadow (the little black one) were inadvertently given their "S" nomenclatures.

Beyond this, there would be no beekeeping classes with Miss Eff's this time around, but there would be plenty of cooking--which was fitting for a woman who spent quite a lot of time teaching others how to cooking in her indomitable style. 

Our first foray was an egg cooking class, where we used the fancy colored eggs from Miss Effie's own chickens, to make an amazing cheesecake and cheese souffle. Our class students came,  there was fine china placed out, recipes shared, and a wide variety of tea chosen and sipped up. I enjoyed being the assistant as Cathy worked her magic in the kitchen. There was laughter and the amazing cooking.

More importantly, there was eating! It was quite a fun time:

Smiling faces...

A tasty, super-tall homemade cheesecake made with FIVE packages of cream cheese..yum!

The woman in red with participants, and her tasty cheesecake creation in the forefront...

And the fun was just beginning...

TOMORROW: More Miss Effie....

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