We had another day together! We started out with Pam walking before the “all day” rain began. She got most of her steps, all her active minutes, and her rosary completed before getting back to the house. She was pretty far away when she realized she needed to be home in 15 minutes, so her active minutes had to be even more active to get back to the house in time to go pick up Emery for preschool.

We got Emery there right on time and with her Valentine’s Day cards intact (and even more importantly, with us) and we dropped her off at school and went to the park over there for another walk before the rain started. We got more steps in and then went shopping. We started at Target and I bought a pack of socks. I used Google Pay to pay for them and it worked. I don’t really remember how I did it, but I do remember that I had to be logged into my phone for it to work.

Pam bought some fancy fizzy flavored water that was 3 pack for $9 except they didn’t ring up that way and so we had to go to the service desk for “guests” to get service. I think the term “guest” is being used incorrectly in business establishments. You don’t charge guests. You charge customers for a service. Just trying to keep the language working here. And Target helped their paying guests not overpay.

We couldn’t find the specific size of trash bags Pam was looking for at Target, so we then went to Walmart and they had them. On the way back to the car, it finally started to drizzle a bit. We still had time to kill, so we went to Joann’s and I bought – wait for it – some yarn. I needed it! Pam bought some, too. She needed it!

The basket weave pattern I’m making is beautiful and I love the way the blanket itself looks. However, I made a bit of an error. First of all, I could have made it narrower. Second of all, I could have used a larger crochet hook to get more of an airy look to the pattern and use less yarn. Either way would have helped but the end result was I was going to run out of yarn before I had an entire blanket. The pattern is a bit of a yarn hog. I would make it again, but I would do things just a tad different.

I bought a variegated skein and then a contrasting color to complete the blanket. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the rest of the blue, but something else. Perhaps, this will still need the extra blue added at the end. I have no idea what’s happening with this whole item.

We got Emery from school and in the car and then, since it had finally started really raining, we went to Aunt Babe’s and got her. Pam went in to get the water stuff set and make sure Aunt Babe’s other stuff was ready for her use for the next couple days. Aunt Babe wanted the blind behind the sofa different and Pam fixed it and then, disaster.

I thought I heard something thump and then a yell from Aunt Babe and then heard Emery saying “Aunt Babe fell” and I was out the car door and into the house in a flash and Pam was upright, there was a stack of papers on the floor, and Aunt Babe was standing there looking devastated but not hurt. Pam had tripped over a small coffee table in front of the sofa, fell backwards and hit the end table next to the recliner, tipping the papers all over the floor, but not the table itself. She said she was all right, but would probably be bruised. We got a shaken Aunt Babe into the car and back to Pam’s house.

We then made Spinach Soup which sounds horrible but is really delicious. This was supposed to happen before the freezer fiasco, but this is when we finally ran out of other food to cook and use. It really looked iffy there in the middle, but turned out to be surprisingly wonderful.

Pam was loading the dishwasher and cleaning up over there in the kitchen and then there was another thumping sound. She had the dishwasher open and was standing between the lowered door and the stove when she turned to go back to the sink. She misjudged the exact millimeters and ran into the very corner of the dishwasher door. She limped to the freezer, got an ice pack out, and propped her foot up. I managed to finish the dishes without injury.

We then did pretty much nothing all afternoon. Aunt Babe read, Pam and I either played with electronics or crocheted (really a combination of both), and Emery amused herself with all her Valentines and some toys and her vivid imagination. It was time to get Aunt Babe and Emery all delivered back to their houses.

We came home and made a salad called “Empty the Refrigerator of as Many Containers as Possible” and it was delicious, too. We spent the evening pretty much the same way as the afternoon, but without ice packs.

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Another busy day in what was only partially sunny Arizona. We began our day by picking up Emery. Uncle Mark has been following his calendar, a detailed timeline for each day saying what each kid needs to do and when they need to do it. Everyone is surviving like this. Good job, family.

We took Emery with us to make rosaries. Ryan had to be taken to school at the same time we had to be at rosaries and there weren’t enough drivers to then get Emery to preschool so she came with us. The old ladies were happy to see her again.

We had all the beads sorted and Pam and Roseanne had made new strings. What Pam had forgotten to do was put the first knot in the end to keep the beads on the string. So that put a little kink in our progress. Even so, and with Emery’s help, we were able to make seven rosaries in under two hours. Only once did Pam try to trick me by not putting the Our Father on before handing one of my strings back. I only put the beads on the wrong end of the string once. So there was little in the tactical error realm.

We finished up there and came home. We had a plan for dinner but were not completely sure how to execute it. We had the steak mostly cooked from the frozen fiasco. There were carrots and onions with it already. We needed some potatoes and Aunt Babe only likes canned potatoes that are already cooked. So we strategized and managed to get three bowls of stew, each with the preferred items in it, on the table. Emery doesn’t like carrots, onions, or mushrooms and the meal did not meet her high standards. She got a grilled cheese sandwich.

Penelope, Aunt Babe’s scooter was getting low on charge. She had enough to get home and for the next couple days (probably) but it is supposed to rain “all day” today and it was tactically superior to get the thing charged yesterday. So Pam walked over to Aunt Babe’s about ten minutes after she left to plug it in.

We piddled away the entire afternoon and then it was time to take Emery home. Uncle Mark had several items all checked off and we got a checkmark for delivering another kid and then a second checkmark for taking Hannah and her friend to gymnastics. His plan has been solid. If it isn’t on the list, the answer is no. If it is on the list, it gets done. One problem, he had to “take Ryan to school” for lacrosse practice. He didn’t know where the school was. Luckily, he could find that out in several ways. It did let him know that if he needed to transport a kid to or from any other school thing, he needed an address. That has been rectified. He still had all his hair and all the kids are doing well, so this seems to be working.

We came home and made something to eat. We had salad mix stuff and added lots of extras to it, including the leftover chicken from Applebee’s. It was delicious. It was quick. Because we had more to do. Even though it was trivia night and I wasn’t home for trivia, I was still out after dark. In fact, I was out after dark for two nights in a row. Whew!

The Tennis Club sponsored a Local Talent Show and had an auction to go along with it. They had several items up for Silent Auction and then they had three items to have with a live auction. They made several hundred dollars with the auction and we got a wonderful talent show. They had a group with a variety of instruments (even the bass viola huge thing belonged to one of the residents) singing a few songs. There was a juggler, a bagpipe player, and three little girls singing a cappella. There were several comedy sketches and a soloist singing and the grand finale was a couple of professional singers giving a two song sample of their work which will be an upcoming event here.

After leaving, we walked over to Aunt Babe’s and unplugged Penelope and then toddled home. Each of holding our phones with the flashlight lighting our way. Last night someone said how easy we were to see walking like that, so we know it is effective as both an anti-trip and anti-get-run-over technique.

We got home and breathed the same air until it was time to fall asleep. Another great day.

PS As far as I can tell, there is no rain out there – yet.

The day started out with preschool. Miss Jody welcomed me into the class. There were several familiar faces from last year and a few new faces as well. By the end of the day, I had all the names straight. The class was preparing for their Valentine’s Day party coming up on Thursday. There was lots of work to get done.

The kids were practicing their writing skills, so they had to sign themselves into class. It was my job to get them to sign in. I do not know how my sister teaches kindergarten. I don’t really do well with people who can’t read the directions and do the stuff. It took me longer to get eight signatures on the paper than it would have been for me to go door to door and ask for signatures for a referendum to end free air and get eight. But eventually I had eight kids signed in.

I am gong to miss the big Presidential/American extravaganza they put on because I will be travelling with Dick, but I did get to march with my flag and sing It’s a Grand Old Flag to practice for the event. We had a couple stories read, we had free time to play, we even got out Play Doh at the end. I don’t believe I was ever actually twitching, but that may have been just my eternal optimism. I’m so glad kids grow up into people who can read and follow directions, at least most of the time.

We had plans to meet Marsha for an early supper, so lunch needed to be a little lighter. With all the food we cooked the day before in the food fiasco, we didn’t eat any of that. We decided on cheese crisps. Or as the world calls them, quesadillas. Pam did most of the work because she had to hand shred all the cheese. I built them and baked them while Pam cut up a cantaloupe. Emery had fallen asleep in the car, so it was just three adults eating.

Aunt Babe had an appointment for a haircut and had to leave. Emery finally got up and opted for no cheese at lunch. This should be headline news. That kid loves cheese, but she loves melon more. She wanted watermelon and strawberries and red circles or salami for her lunch.

Pam volunteers to make rosaries to donate to those in need. She buys beads to string by the boatload. The ship had a arrived. However, she already had one boatload at the house and it needed some reorganization so all the beads would fit where they go in the “Costco closet” which is a huge storage closet.

While Emery ate, we got old beads out, containers out, new beads out, and then put them into these containers for storing, those containers for taking to church and actually making rosaries, and other containers for smaller amounts. They were stacking and storing nicely by the time we were finished.

As I mentioned up there, signing one’s name when one is only four is a laborious task. It is a struggle to make the proper squiggles in the correct order and with spacing on the paper a concern. Emery had Valentine’s Day cards to sign. Yesterday, Gail posted pictures of her own personal granddaughter (same age bracket) signing her cards. At least Emery only had five letters instead of nine. It still took a very long time, broken into sessions, in order to get all the cards signed.

For the adults out there reading this, a lower case e is very difficult to write. A lower case y is no picnic either. The difference between an r and an m is where you stop writing. And the three parallel lines on an upper case E can be problematic. All in all, writing is a horrific task and we don’t even appreciate how difficult it was to learn way back when. We blithely go about putting pen to paper. We then make up cursive in order to write even faster. We adults are all whiz kids. Who knew?

Emery got a typewriter perfect e into her name and Nana told her to show me. She was sneaking up on me to show me the paper and I continued to ignore her until she got right up next to me and called my name and then I screamed like I was in the movie Psycho. Scared the crap out of the little kid, who jumped about three feet back before she started laughing. She then showed me her writing which really was great.

She made another wonderful e and snuck over to show me and I thought I had really frightened her so I didn’t scream as loud and then she was disappointed. Whoops. Eventually, and with great struggle, the cards were all signed.

We went to pick up Marsha and then took Emery back to her house. Both Daddy and Uncle Mark were there, or at least their cars were. We gave Emery to them and went on to Applebee’s. I pulled up nutrition information on my phone before I got there so I could know what was good and bad to order. It isn’t always what I think will happen. The salmon was good to go, so that’s what I ordered. It was delicious. Pam and Marsha got a two for $25 deal. The spinach and artichoke dip is bad enough but the chips it goes on is worse, so even though they offered, I didn’t touch it. They got bourbon chicken and shrimp which looked delicious.

We had some food to bring home so now there are more leftover containers in the over packed fridge. We then walked down to the ballroom and watched Mike James deliver his comedy routine and then Michael Paul do his ventriloquism act. I’m unsure why the Mikes didn’t have proper last names! But they were entertaining and we laughed a lot.

We got home and breathed the same air for a while. It was a nice quiet ending to a busy day. Now, for all of you who can simply sign your names without a thought, congratulate yourselves – you are rock stars.

Pam was awake for awhile in the back of the house before coming out to the kitchen. “Houston, we have a problem,” I told her when she appeared. Then I told her about the stack of food I had found in front of the coffeepot.

We threw away the crab cakes, which was the only iffy thing in the pile. They had been left behind by someone returning home after a winter stay here. So it wasn’t a real loss. We decided the bacon could be saved as is. And then we decided to cook the ground beef and what turned out to be a round steak. We talked about a variety of things we could do with that much food and then it was really time to get the day going.

We went to Jen’s house and picked up Emery and then went to Marsha’s house to play cards. They were aware of an extra guest and so we knew we couldn’t play euchre with all five of us. So they taught me how to play Spades Rule. I learned how, but … I still lost. It is a fun game for an odd number of players. I really did understand the rules as we went along but when the cards aren’t in your favor .. then you lose. And so, I lost the second game by a long shot and came in fourth out of five the first time. It was fun anyway.

Because we played a different game and it took longer for two games of that than two game of euchre, we didn’t get home until nearly noon and we were supposed to be eating at 12.30. Pam had hoped to have a longer time to cook the tougher steak into submission but we didn’t have that kind of time. She worked on cooking up the steak. I worked at browning the ground beef. We took half of that out to put into the freezer to make something another day. Then I added mushrooms and sauce and we had spaghetti for dinner.

Even with two cooks, or maybe because we kept bumping into each other in the corner, we weren’t ready for dinner in time, but once we finally got it on the table, it was pretty dang good. Pam had some greens in a bag stuff that was mostly broccoli but had something leafy in it, too, and that was the base of our salads. Emery opted for strawberries instead. She is so smart.

Pam got the next round of books on Aunt Babe’s tablet and then we piddled around. Pam and Emery made her Valentine’s Day cards – they are cute little felt ladybugs with hearts and stuff. Then she wanted me to make heart shaped “cards” to print out so Emery could sign them. This should have taken me all of two minutes. It did not. Technology works the very best when you actually turn it on. Once I figured out that most of my problems were stemming from having my tablet in airplane mode, I could get them to print out.

Of course, like every human since time, when it first didn’t work, I blamed the machines. This made Pam go and touch something which then made the printer have to align the cartridges for some reason and then finally with all the systems on and happy, they printed easily. Taking the tablet off airplane mode was the real key here. Too bad my lock was so rusty.

We had told Jen we would go to Costco and pick up fast to make food so Uncle Mark could feed the starving masses known as “the kids” while both Jen and Ronnie had to go out of town for overlapping days on business. Mark got home from California Monday. Jen is leaving for California today. Ronnie is leaving for California very, very, very early tomorrow. Pam and I are remaining right here for the duration. Lots of moving about the country, but mostly to California going on this week.

Pam finally ate the free half sandwich from Panera. She said it was chicken. She also said she would never buy that particular sandwich. It was mostly tomato and little chicken salad and wasn’t very tasty. But what can you expect for free?

Both of us have been staying up late. I have been getting up way too early. So, being tired and adult, we went to bed rather early. It was a fun day where little got done and I was worried I wouldn’t have anything to say. But I was pretty sure that wouldn’t stop me. And look, I was right.

I kept all my possessions with me when I was out and about so there was much less terror involved in the day.

First we were going for a walk. I can walk so there isn’t a problem with that. On the way home, we would stop at the grocery store and pick up some of the things I need to now include in my diet. Horrible things, like Greek yogurt, and then lovely things, like fruit to put in it so it doesn’t taste like school paste.

Pam uses Apple Pay. I have wanted to see what Google Pay is like, but figured I would stick with cash or credit rather than learn something new. This seemed like a good time to learn something new. The app came preinstalled on my phone, so I set it up and didn’t have to bring money on the walk, and could just carry my phone, which I would have done anyway.

We walked for miles before getting to Safeway, a store I don’t have at home so I don’t have a preferred member card or an app or anything but Pam does. We founds Click It food items which means you have to have the coupon selected on the app, and we found sale items which means you just have to have a preferred customer card. Pam paid for everything, got a bazillion game ticket things, and we came home.

There is a permanent flea market thing – huge – very close to Pam’s house. It is open on the weekends, even in the summer. There are only about half the vendors there in the summer and it is much more of an extravaganza in The Season. We asked Aunt Babe if she would like to join us, but she opted not to go. So just the two of us went and spent another one and a half to two hours walking up and down and buying extremely useful nonsense. Important things like a bottle opener to replace the rusty 50 year old one Pam had, some pruning shears, and sugar free green tea based candies rather like Tic Tacs.

It was now past lunch time and we were both hungry. I have researched menus and found what is within my carb limit at a few eateries. Panera was one I knew what I could order although I wasn’t sure which of the soups I wanted with a Pick 2. I pulled that up on my phone and looked at nutrition information while Pam got us there. I had my choices ready.

We ordered and Pam and I got the same thing, except I don’t like gorgonzola, so wanted none on my salad. And I got coffee while Pam did not. Panera accepts Google Pay, so I was going to get to try to make my new fangled (to me) technology work. It didn’t. I tried it again. Unsuccessfully. So, I just got my credit card out and paid. Next time!

We waited for our food to come and they brought a salad and half sandwich which we both insisted we did not order. It went away. Then came a soup and salad with a baguette which had cheese in the salad and bread on the tray so we knew that was Pam. Then the sandwich came back. We again said it wasn’t ours. It left. It came back insisting it belonged to us.

The salad was indeed cheeseless. But there was also a baguette on the tray. In all the hoopla of trying to get the old woman’s technology to work, no one asked the old woman what she wanted with her Pick 2. It was not a baguette. It wasn’t chips either. I asked for the apple. So, eventually, I had my cheeseless salad, the soup I ordered, the baguette and sandwich which had touched down on our table, and the apple I wanted along with my coffee. Quite a spread indeed.

We had an entire box of food to bring home with us. I think I got a tuna salad or maybe a chicken salad sandwich in there. I won’t eat the bread, but the other stuff is okay. Pam can eat the extra bread and it will be delicious. I have no idea where the sandwich came from. My receipt really said soup and salad.

We got home and walked down to Aunt Babe’s house and visited with her for a while. It was so good to see her again. We talked and played and got things settled there and then came home and sat and talked and laughed and played and laughed and I made one loud whoop noise that may have startled the neighbors, but it wasn’t too late so I hope I didn’t wake them. I can’t even now remember what was that funny. Maybe just the loveliness of being with my sister.

We worked on our respective crochet projects and I’m using a new pattern. It is turning out beautiful, but I may have been a bit overzealous on the original chain because it seems wider than I really need. If I don’t like it when I run out of yarn, I can always just redo the thing or add fringe or something else. Who knows. It is a mystery and adds spice to life.

We decided on what to have for dinner today and settled down to more laughing. I’m pretty sure dinner plans have changed. Pam was looking for stuff in the freezer and had set a pile of other stuff on the counter. I am awake again in the middle of night here in Arizona but at a reasonable time for South Carolina. Part of that is due to my forgetting to have an evening cup of coffee and having a caffeine headache this morning.

I came out to the coffeepot and there was the pile of things Pam had taken out of the freezer. Since it was a huge pile, it was still very cold, but it wasn’t still frozen. I think we are having meatloaf today or maybe spaghetti with meat sauce or perhaps chili or something with that pound of ground beef. I don’t even know what is in the double wrapped thing and the bacon really is excessive since she has a bunch already cooked in the fridge. If I can find my low carb tortillas here (Walmart carries them at home) we can maybe have cheese crisps with some bacon and get some of that gone. The crab cakes were on the bottom of the stack and were probably the most fragile of the items and the coldest when I put them in the fridge. But they were not solid, so I did put them in the fridge and not the freezer. Luckily, Pam’s house was cool (the heat doesn’t run overnight) and I was up before dawn. I believe the food is all safe but we are rather committed on dinner for the next few days.

Having company and being company is so distracting. Today, I will see once again if I can learn to use my new technology. Once I get the hang of that stuff, it usually works pretty good.

This is really a light blue

I had a few misadventures on my trip to Arizona. Like most people, I am a bit nervous about travel and unsure when in an airport. I don’t really like to fly.

Charleston airport was overhauled and is beautiful and all that nonsense. I was dropped off at the right place, saw all the Delta counters, saw the sign for Delta Baggage. There was no line as the airport was nearly empty. I walked up to the desk and got out my wallet and then my driver’s license. I powered up my phone. I was ready to go to Phoenix.

“Via Dallas?” asked the counter person.

“Atlanta,” I answered. I was at American and not Delta as I had passed on the wrong side of the sign. I ducked over to Delta and began again. I had no wallet. I had my purse and my suitcase. I looked over at the still empty space at American and there was my wallet sitting on the counter. I grabbed my phone and ran over there, ducking literally this time, under the barrier, grabbed my wallet, ducked back, and handed over my driver’s license.

Everything was now fine except for my panic level. I got checked in and there was also no line at the TSA, so I whizzed through there, too. Gned and I got to the gate with Atlanta written on it and perched ourselves. I got out my book and began to read. When disembarking passengers showed up, I ran one last time to the bathroom and came back as they were just beginning to board the plane for New York.

They had moved the Atlanta gate to 4 instead of 5 although I heard no announcement about this. I moved over to 4 and waited some more. I waited for them to call Basic, my zone on my ticket. They never did, so I just boarded anyway. My seat was 19B and I waited and waited to see who was going to squish in there with me. No one! I had the entire row to myself.

I had been stressing about what I would find to eat in an airport and I found a little veggie tray. There was some ranch dressing to dip and I used about half of it and ate all the veggies. I got my empty water bottle out and filled it and had water with my snack. I dipped into the mixed nuts I had brought along.

In the airport, talking on speaker phone, was a disgruntled young man and his other person who were totally dissatisfied with the cost and work involved in what seemed to have been some sporting week extravaganza. There were videos in which they weren’t tagged and praise they weren’t given and there was more complaining than two old women talking about health issues. For over an hour.

Again, a trip to the bathroom as soon as passengers came out of the gangplank thing and then I was ready to board. I was in zone — this time. Eventually, at zone 2 my name started appearing on the screen, so I got in line and on the plane. I was in 26B this time and a couple came up and wanted to know if I would mind if they sat together. I took the window seat.

I read my book and was a bit thirsty so I got my water bottle except I couldn’t because it was still back inside the airport. Oh well. At least it wasn’t my wallet. I know because I had been obsessively checking that I had my wallet and my phone over and over and over again.

I got to Sky Harbor and Pam had just started to circle the pickup area. My luggage arrived in the middle of the pack and then I got to hug and kiss my sister! Best part of the trip.

We got to Pam’s and I got unpacked, leaving plenty of room for Dick’s clothes next week. Then we ate some soup and then … we sat and laughed and talked and laughed and crocheted and laughed and then we laughed some more. It was a wonderful evening.

It will take a day or two to get adjusted to the time change, not as bad as in the summer. I was awake around 5.30 but it was really 7.30 on my internal clock and I needed a cup of coffee. So here we are. I can’t wait for the rest of the adventures. I’m going to make sure I have all my crap all the time. This should be exciting.

One of the downsides of aging is that many of the people you once knew are no longer around. One of the benefits is that the ones who are still here are even dearer to you. This is especially true of family. At least, I hope it is.

I know some families fall apart for a variety of reasons. Luckily, mine has not. And so, I’m off again to invade my sister’s house. I invited myself and she said I could come.

There will be plenty of laughing and story telling and complaining and kvetching even though we aren’t even Jewish. Catholics are close enough to be able to appropriately kvetch. There will be comfortable silences and just “breathing the same air” time as well.

Once we became orphans, we noticed that getting together, all three sisters, was going to be a problem unless we actually planned for it. So we invented Sistercation. That happens in the summer and for over ten years it didn’t dawn on me that it need not be the only time in the year when I see a sister.

This extra sister trip is lovely. I get a sister fix in the middle of the dreary winter. Pam lives in a snowbird place and it is hotter than hell there in the summer. But those retired Canadians love coming down for exactly five months and 29 days in the winter. Health insurance, guys. So when we visited her in the melting summer, there were few year round residents available. She insisted she had many friends there in The Season.

She does. They aren’t imaginary. I met them last winter and they were legion. And they were nice and it was fun and my shoes didn’t melt to the pavement if I stood still for too long.

I’m looking forward to the time together. I’m sure we will call the other sister and talk to her together although during the rest of the year we have all figured out conference calling so that isn’t a once a year experience. It will still be fun to include the baby, the FICA person, the employed one. And then we can go back to being retired and free to move about the country. Well, at least, I’m free to move about the country.

There is something special about this time with someone who has known me my whole life. There is a rejuvenation aspect, a connecting aspect, a laughing aspect. No one on the planet can make as much fun of you (lovingly, of course) as a sibling.

Gned and I are packed and ready. We can’t wait.

And there’s more! In a week, Dick will come out and see Arizona for the first time. Since he has never been to the state, we can infer he has also never been to the Grand Canyon. We are going to fix that and drive up there, spend a night and move on to Las Vegas for a couple nights and then wend our way back to Phoenix for a few days before coming back home. I have never been to Las Vegas even though he has. So we each get something new. Neither of us has seen Bryce Canyon, so that’s a surprise all around.

I’m looking forward to this wonderful time and can’t wait to see my sister. Hugs and kisses and love and laughter – here I come.

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My loving sisters making fun of my overabundance of scarves.