Stones for the Centerpieces
I don’t think of myself as a great kitchen expert; if I spend too long on my feet there my sciatic nerve pinches me. So I was glad to leave the banquet food to the caterer, but I decided that I could add some creative touches in other ways.
What about centerpieces to go with the theme, “Hard Places”? All I had been able to think of was a small dish with stones and a single stem of plastic or silk flowers coming up in the middle. People would quickly pick up the idea that we should bloom, – or serve God – wherever we are planted. Even in rocky places, where one would not expect a flower to show up.
I had found more than 30 small green plastic plates at the Dollarama store. (Which is great, as I need them to be saucers under my potted plants in my house; I will not throw them out). I found some cheap stems of small reddish and yellow flowers at the Dollar Tree store. What’s more, cousin Gary had dropped by the previous Sunday evening and since he works with gravel and cementing, I asked him where to find some stones about the size of crab apples. He promised to get me some river rock, but that I’d have to remind him.
I did get Gary on the phone on Thursday evening, but he asked that I call him again the next morning to remind him. I did, but had to leave a message on his phone. Gary does not have a good reputation for remembering to return calls.
By Friday night I was getting worried enough to check online to see how much it would cost if I had to buy some sacks of decor rocks for gardens. Ugh! $9 for 18 kg of white rocks. How many sacks full would I have to buy to fill 30 centerpiece plates?
Semi-resigned that I might have to splurge that way, I prayed and asked the Lord, to remind Gary, if his rocks would be better for my plans, and to see that he came through in time.
Well, I’d promised the caterer that I would be at the church at 12 noon, when others were coming to start work in the kitchen. So I packed up all that I thought I might need to finish the centerpieces there, and also the menus that I’d started. I planned to stop at the Rona (lumber/hardware) store on the way to buy the rocks.
Suddenly Gary was at the door with 3 huge, HEAVY pails full of river rock! I saw immediately that I wouldn’t be able to lift them into my car. So he graciously offered to drive around the back and put them into the trunk of my car. Which he did.
At the church I drove around to the far door of the gym where the banquet tables and chairs had been set up. I carried the stones inside with the smaller plastic ice cream pails I’d brought.
Gary had said I might need to wash them and I soon saw that was important as they were covered with a fine cement dust that soiled everything they touched. It was quite a process, putting some in each of two ice cream pails with water, then transferring them to two empty pails to air dry a bit, from there to an old towel I’d brought, and then arranging them on the plates around the flower stem which I’d taped into place. I also laid a red or golden maple leaf beside each one.
It took me nearly 2 hours, but I was quite pleased. My idea had been very economical, albeit labour-intensive, and people did catch on to the visualization of the theme – at least from those who talked to me about it later.
The menu was Indo-Canadian, but mostly Indian food, and I knew from past banquets like this that some of the people would hesitate to try the strange foods. So I’d got the caterer to give me brief descriptions of each dish. I’d prepared menus which I had printed and trimmed at the corners with fancy scissors, and then glued them down on brown card stock folded to stand as a tent on each table. There were also smaller cards to place in front of each dish so as they came by to have their plate filled they could tell which dishes contained what, and which ones were more spicy than the others.
I finished the last of those and as the volunteers I had recruited started to arrive, they helped put them on the tables. They also helped to cut and dish out the torte desserts, and so on. The day raced on, and the banquet was delayed a bit while we wanted for the pastor who was to ask the Blessing and make the announcements. Otherwise, all went well.
One man came to me afterward and asked if they could have the menu as a souvenir as they had discussed those dishes VERY thoroughly while they waited for the meal to start. I’m satisfied that this was a good idea too!