We set out for Cedar Hill State Park for Jon’s birthday weekend, which started out wet and muddy following days of drenching rains. Our campsite was in the Lakeview area, so named because at the time of the park’s development it likely had views of the lake. Not today, however. In fact, we were hard-pressed to find any views of the lake beyond the trees and brush.
Each night had temperatures dipping into the 40s, which was ideal for sitting around the campfire but not for outdoor dining. Chef Cliff braved the chill at the grill, producing an exceptional Date Night dinner on Friday. We ended the evening by watching an episode of our latest binge-worthy series, “The Restaurant: Our Time is Now,” on Amazon Prime. The Swedish period drama depicts the upper-class Löwander family, whose restaurant business is struggling at the end of World War II. Over the course of 30 years, the series presents all the complexities and poignancies of life and love played out between the privileged and the poor in what some have called “the next Downton Abbey.” It took some time for us to get used to the English subtitles, but we’re definitely hooked. As Jon noted, reading subtitles while also trying to see the action is a challenge that requires a viewer’s full attention. Multitasking is definitely not an option!
Jon’s 58th birthday started out with overcast skies and northerly breezes. As Cliff returned to Hampshire for his work shift, Jon stayed at Cloud 9 to watch the austere yet majestic funeral of Prince Philip. Just as the four-person choir began its powerful, moving performance of the Royal Navy hymn, Jon received a Facetime call from his nephew. A brief visit with Andy and his wife, Lindsey, brought two birthday surprises: Jon’s introduction to baby Jack and a reunion with Jon’s brother, Jody, who was at the O’Guinn home in Kansas City for the weekend.
For Jon’s birthday dinner, Chef Cliff prepared one of Jon’s favorite dishes: chicken Marsala. Cliff’s version of the Italian-American classic was worthy of serving at the finest restaurants, with breaded chicken cutlets and cremini mushrooms pan-fried to perfection and bathed in a Marsala wine sauce. For dessert: No candles, no cake. Just the Season 1 finale of “The Restaurant.”
Sunday’s typical routines were followed by classic cocktails, a campfire televisit with Jon’s mom, and a supper of smoked sausage, cob corn, and ranch-style beans. Afterward, we concluded the evening by watching the most excellent Academy of Country Music Awards show, marked by memorable performances by Carrie Underwood and CeCe Winans, Dierks Bentley, Blake Shelton, and Jimmie Allen.
Monday found us cursing a cardinal that had pecked at every single reflective surface all weekend long. We happily said goodbye and good riddance to the red menace, while also looking forward to a favorite site in another part of the park next weekend.