Thursday, August 19, 2021

Two Grand Openings

The Grand Opening of Ugly Plant

I have a very unusual plant, affectionately called “Ugly Plant” but in truth, a Night Blooming Cereus.

This plant has limited qualities, shall we say, as plants go. It’s loaded with prickers, gets spindly and takes over window space.  

And a little more background here.

This clipping originally came from my parents. Once a year, for one night only in the middle of summer, Ugly Plant would put on a spectacular show! On this occasion, my parents would invite family and friends to join in and watch the Grand Opening. 

So when I moved to Elderberry, I decided to continue this tradition!

Towards the end of June, my plant started to produce fuzzy nobs. Over the course of ten days, these nobs began to lengthen and develop.

Finally, one evening around 7:30 pm, the ends begin to “ripen”. 

Tonight will be the Grand Opening!

I sent out an email to the community inviting everyone to come by and watch. The late-night dog-walkers arrived with flashlights (though some people forgot and only saw the sad remains the next morning). 

My photographer friend Scottee has shot this plant for three years and has won awards with her images. On the other hand, I simply use my dependable Ipad!

At 8 pm, the interior of the blossoms start to show.

By 9 pm, the blossoms are fully open.

The Grand Opening!

The blossoms stay open throughout the night. However, by morning, they have closed and wilted. Party definitely over!

Maybe you might join us next year for our bloom-viewing event?

The Grand Opening! Introducing Sambuco,
a Fine Dining Experience in the Elderberry Hive


Last year our Culture Team, comprised of Mary, Vonda, Linda and Joyce, organized a community retreat and check-in to gauge how well members of our community were relating with each other. 

One of the comments received was that people wanted more opportunity to socialize around smaller and more intimate dinners. 

Also during this check-in, we presented an exercise called a spectrum, where everyone stands along an imaginary line to indicate how they might answer a particular question. We discovered most of us like to be invited to events, but are less inclined to initiate social interactions. Yes, we have a fair number of introverts!

With this feedback the Culture Team created Sambuco, Elderberry’s own version of an elegant, sit-down restaurant with limited seating, and reservation only. 

The catch? Members need to invite each other!

The Culture Team transformed the meeting area within our Common House into an elegant dining room with white table clothes, fresh flowers, soft jazz and beautifully printed menus.

Four volunteers who are fabulous cooks prepared and served a four-course dinner for three tables, with all the finishing touches you’d expect from elegant dining.

Lemon Cloud was the finishing touch for dessert, garnished with raspberries, and powdered sugar. And the final detail? Sambuco-inscribed doggie bags for the delicious leftovers!

Opening night was a huge success, with many requests for another evening at “our restaurant". Sambuco is scheduled again for October.

The Dream Team, our gourmet chefs and servers.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Summertime Holidays!

 Memorial Day, the Big Kick-off! 

Classic Elderberry events combine family and friends, spectacular potluck dishes, lots of grilling, musical soundtracks, and outdoor games! 

So far this summer, skilled teams competed for fame and fortune with corn hole, Jenga, and our newest addition, miniature golf — entertainment for participants and peanut gallery alike!

With several tables of food, we mingled and overate, another honored Elderberry tradition.

Mary and Karolyn are a formidible team. We think they go into training off-season.

Marjorie and Mike made up for skill with lots of good-natured ribbing — always a crowd favorite.

The spectator gallery never broke a sweat.

My personal favorite was an impromptu duet with Mary Kay and Stewart singing "Oh Lord It's Hard to Be Humble", Mary Kay's personal theme song!

Fourth of July Trifecta!

This year’s Fourth of July involved three great events: Our traditional Independence Day potluck; celebration of one members’ 87th birthday; and a new lawn game addition, the inauguration of Elderberry’s first ever Miniature Golf Course!

Besides knowing how to have fun, Elderberry obviously has some outside-the-box thinkers that come up with some pretty amazing ideas! It’s not every community that has its own mini-golf course. 

Mike had been working on the details for several months — what material to use for the greens, the holes, the bumpers? And most of all, for the obstacles!

In the end, he used turf fabric for the greens, PVC pipe caps as holes, and landscape edging as bumpers.  

And for the obstacles? Mike asked for volunteers to “adopt” each hole. And members definitely stepped up to the challenge!  

The first hole had a moving pendulum painted by Mary’s 5 and 6-year-old grandkids. Karen and Stewart created a dramatic Scottish scene complete with a homemade castle.

 Joyce and Mary Kay assembled the “animal hole” with every manner of creative creature obstacle. Next, there was a deceptively difficult hole on Mike’s front porch.

 A big crew at the moose hole (you’d have to see it!), contributed by Diane.  

And the final hole, courtesy of Karolyn — three 5 gallon buckets and no easy bank shots! 

After several rounds of play, there ended up being three hole-in-ones and lots of groaning and cheering from players and spectators alike.

 Mary and Joyce surpassed last year's Jenga record, although we lost exact count when it unexpectedly toppled! We had to rely on a photo finish to count the final number of rows. How many? I'm still not sure!

Diane was the organizing powerhouse for fabulous food. Richard set up the grill so folks could prepare anything from vegan hot dogs to delicious, spicy, local sausage burgers. 

There was one entire table of potluck side dishes and another table of desserts, a particularily popular spot. Karolyn prepared her famous gingerbread cookies with personalized limericks, all with a 4th of July theme. Desserts ranged from ice cream, peach pie, chocolate brownies, blackberry cobbler (using our own blackberry’s from our garden) and blueberry crisp.  

July 4th is Nancy’s birthday. Upon request, Karolyn made Nancy’s favorite dessert, an amazing carrot cake (a community favorite with a great background story).

As the evening finale, Stewart, with his amazing tenor voice, sang I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen. Nancy requested this song because it was her mother’s favorite, and the reason that Nancy’s middle name is Kathleen.

Story and photos by Joyce Hopkins