Unbeknownst to me, Mr. G had taken the day off, had driven up the road to the service station where he parked and waited for me to leave for work, then went back home to clean house, grocery shop for the weekend, and begin preparing supper.
On Fridays I usually get off work an hour or two earlier than the rest of the week, so, as usual, I headed home Friday afternoon with plans to cook a nice dinner, and spend the rest of the weekend planting, cleaning house, the usual.
When I arrived home, Mr. G was already home... the dishes were done and the house was immaculate, he was at the sink dicing potatoes... something UN-usual was going on... but not VERY unusual... YET! I asked my dear husband just how long he had been home... "Oh, I had an early day today..."
O...K... still not VERY unusual... but I was getting a feeling things were not exactly what they seemed...
Mr. G announced that he was in the mood for barbecued chicken on the grill, would I please make up a batch of my homemade barbecue sauce... sure... so I did... he looked in the saucepan and once again announced, "I don't think that's going to be enough, do you mind making a little more?" I responded, "What are you planning on barbecuing, a whole pig?" He laughed, I made more sauce... I began to suspect all was not USUAL... but couldn't put my finger on anything substantial...
An hour or so later, my honey and I were sitting on our back deck talking... he mentioned that Smokey Dog was surprised by a substitute mail lady who had driven up our driveway earlier to bring a package (my order of seed potatoes)... WAIT a minute... I said, "Just how long have you BEEN home, our mail comes at 10 a.m.!" To which he responded, "Do you want to hear about this, or do you want to play 20 questions, I had an early day." We laughed and continued to chat... (at this point, I'm curious but I'm still pretty much oblivious to the deception that had been going on around me)
Around 6 p.m. things began to happen, much to my surprise...
My daughter, Hannah and her intended, Nick arrived... I was so surprised and delighted (my children live about 2-1/2 hours away and visit maybe 2-3 times a year)... Mr. G, on the other hand, seemed not surprised at all... Hmmm... the plot thickens...
We visited and talked and laughed for awhile... about 8 p.m. it was decided to start the grill and cook some chicken and sausages for supper... Hannah helped mix up some potato salad with the potatoes Mr. G had diced and cooked earlier... I chopped lettuce for a green salad... Hannah peered over my shoulder an stated that she didn't think it would be enough lettuce, would I please chop some more... WHAT? It was plenty for the four of us... but I dutifully chopped more... couldn't let "company" go without plenty to eat...
About the time I got the lettuce chopped, Hannah let out a giggle, I looked up, and there in my kitchen doorway stood my son, Caleb and his sweet wife, Kaila... I squealed, hugged all over them, and declared that this was a wonderful surprise... the four of them visiting for the weekend...
Kaila announced, "Mom, this is our birthday surprise for you (my birthday was 4 days before), we have reservations in the morning at 11:15 at Laura's Tea Room for you, me, and Hannah." I was beyond excited! Ever since we moved just outside the little town of Ridgeway, S.C., I had been telling them I wanted "us girls" to have tea at Laura's!
We ate, we visited, we laughed, we talked until the wee hours... then up next morning and got ready for our tea party at Laura's... I was so overwhelmed with delight!
We arrived at Laura's a little early, the girls seemed eager to get there (it's only 5 minutes from our house!)... the guys said they might go fishing for us to enjoy our outing and not to rush back, they were good to go with plans of their own...
We spent some time browsing the wonderful little gift shop on the ground floor at the tea room... then our hostess came for us, telling us that we could wait on the mezzanine between the floors while our table was being set up... and while waiting, there were hats... of every shape, size, and color... we were welcome to try on hats while we waited and could choose one to wear to tea if we wanted...
Like three little girls playing dress-up, we tried on hats...
|Hannah and I hamming it up in what we dubbed our "church|
|Hannah and I in floppy garden hats...|
|Hannah looking chic in a zebra print and black number...|
|Hannah looking very "flapper-esque" in this little bit of|
|Kaila and Hannah sporting garden chapeaus|
|Kaila in her red satin, poofy, wide brim, and myself in a |
purple "church lady" topper
|Sweet Kaila models yet another wide-brimmed bonnet|
|Getting a little silly in this pink|
headpiece trimmed with purple veiling.
|A walk on the wacky side in a hot pink|
|The three of us, garden party girl, flapper girl, and "crazy" church lady!|
Soon we were called upstairs for "High Tea" so we chose our tea hats and followed our hostess up the stairs where we were led to a table covered with an eclectic assortment of antique teacups, saucers, and tiny teaspoons... we were given direction to choose our own cup in which to enjoy our tea...
|My teacup was a delicate white china|
cup with robins painted on the side...
We started off with an iced blueberry hibiscus tea while we perused the tea menu... we would be served the Irish Breakfast blend, hot, while we decided on two teapots full from the menu...
|Kaila and Hannah discuss which teas to try...|
|Hannah enjoying Mango Passion tea from her |
leopard print teacup.
|Kaila REALLY liked the fruity iced tea|
|Hamming it up while enjoying a cup of Monk's Blend|
(a black tea flavored with vanilla and grenadine)
As we sipped our teas... we were treated to a first course of blueberry scones served with raspberry jam or Devonshire cream.
The second course included a veggie quiche with a choice of green salad with strawberries, mandarin oranges, and pecans... or Laura's homemade tomato basil bisque... I chose salad, the girls chose soup (which was yummy! I tried some!)
The third, and final course was served on a lovely three tiered serving plate... cucumber sandwiches, tomato sandwiches, Dubliner cheese on wheat toast, and chicken salad on mini-croissants... then apples on cinnamon bread with cream cheese, strawberry cream cheese on banana nut bread, and green fluff tarts... then strawberries dipped in green chocolate (it was St. Patrick's Day) and chocolate filled cream puffs.
Such a fun time, much talking and laughter, and amazing service! We browsed the gift shops and the antique shop in town (Ridgeway is tiny, it's main claims to fame are: it is home to the Nation's Smallest Police Station, it hosts the annual Pig on the Ridge BBQ, Town Hall was once Confederate Headquarters for two weeks, Laura's Tea Room, Cotton Yard Market Antique Shop, and R.H. Lee and Company Auctioneers). We ran some errands, did a little more shopping in Columbia, then headed home late in the afternoon.
Again, unbeknownst to me, the girls had been given orders to keep me away from the house for as long as possible... those boys had yet another surprise up their collective sleeves.
We returned home to find the guys, not fishing at all... but building a roof on our back deck! Imagine my incredible surprise!
|My sweet husband, Hugh, aka Mr. Granny|
|My beloved son, Caleb|
|My son-in-law to be, Nick|
Apparently, this scheme of conspiracy and deception had been in the works for at least a month... there had been clandestine phone calls making plans... The girls had devised the idea to take me to tea to get me out of the house, Mr. G had made the reservations weeks ago. Mr. G had taken photos of the existing deck, sent them via email to Caleb, who drew up a plan, composed a materials list, and emailed it back to Mr. G, who proceeded to purchase the supplies... and hid them in plain sight in our back yard... near the pile of pallets we have... with leaves blown over them to camouflage them from my view (I parked my car EVERY DAY in view of that pile of wood! and never saw it!) I have come to the conclusion that I am completely oblivious! Or, perhaps, this crew is just that sneaky!
|Caleb swings from the rafters of the new covered porch|
They ran into a few obstacles with shoring up the foundation and had to finish up their project on Sunday morning... I, in my gratitude, made them a "working man's breakfast" of ham, eggs, biscuits and red eye gravy, and fruit before they completed their task.
I am blessed... I have always known this, but it's such a beautiful thing to see it put into action yet again. I love this group of conspirators... my dear husband who came up with the beginnings of the wonderful plan... my son Caleb for drawing it up and seeing it through... our newest family member Nick, for his hard work and dedication... my daughter Hannah for her sneaky part in the plot, for enjoying tea with me, for shopping and laughing, and for buying me an adorable ceramic green pepper at the antique shop... and for my daughter-in-law Kaila for devising the strategy to get me out of the house, for hanging out an entire Saturday with her mother-in-law (and enjoying it!)... I love them all for SO SO many other reasons!
The deck (now porch) is yet to have it's permanent roofing installed, we plan to add metal roofing as soon as we decide what kind (and save up the money for it) so for now we have temporary roofing (two tarps pulled tightly over and fastened well)... My son calls it our Redneck Porch, Mr. G calls it our Hurricane Relief Porch... I call it a Labor of Love... and am enjoying the cool breezes that blow through as I sit in my rocking chair enjoying my coffee each morning, watching and listening to spring awaken in the Sunny South... and memories of a loving, laughing, working family who contrived through sweet trickery to put it all together.
|Sweet Little Kaila, exhausted after a long day at tea and shopping.|