Back to the work week – for the FICA people. I love them. I appreciate them and their continued contributions. Hannah still has gymnastics camp this week, but Quinn doesn’t. So Emery and Quinn were going to be here. There was much debate at the Father’s Day Feast on how this would happen. There is carpooling for Hannah to consider as well as transportation of the Littles. It was determined the Littles would just appear here at the perfect moment for the mother to start here first teleconference without them making noise in the background.

Hannah and her friends needed picked up at a certain time. It was also determined that they could fit in the van with the Littles and their car seats but only if my happy ass wasn’t also in the van. So Pam would pick them up at the appointed hour and I would stay home.

Two kids are much louder than one. Emery never once argued with herself on Friday. She still didn’t today, but she did take the opportunity to squabble with Quinn. They did play very nice together but the bigger of the Littles was quite bossy towards the little Little. Cheri would have been internally smiling at their conversation just like me. In most cases Emery did as instructed by Quinn, but then some line would be crossed and it grew cross. Emery is no pushover.

Pam had several tasks to complete back in the office using her computer and phoning the appropriate people. She could do so in the quiet as I supervised, such as it was, the Littles.

Pam and I grew up with the same mother teaching us to cook, but in the intervening 50 years, we seem to have personalized the lessons. How she put a roast into the Crockpot was different than how I would have done it at home. Both ways taste delicious, but apparently, I’m far more casual.

Aunt Babe arrived for lunch and we had the roast beef. Apparently, it was delicious because all the adults added more to their plates. Aunt Babe and Pam had ordered a wheelie walker for Aunt Babe on Friday and it arrived Sunday and we snapped the pieces open. It was waiting here and Aunt Babe gave it a test run. She felt much more stable with it, over the cane. We left it at the shortest height and it was perfect for her.

We hurried Aunt Babe out of the house and got ourselves ready to go to the pool with the Littles. This time, we went to the old pools since it was burning sun time of the day and that one had shade. Quinn can really get around in the water. We played with all sorts of rules and games and things and had a wonderful time, all while keeping an eye on the clock. We had to get back to the house in time for Pam to go get Hannah and her friends from gymnastics.

We were getting ready to head home when Pam noticed a message from Jen. We did not have to pick up Hannah. We headed home anyway. Adults, kids, and wet towels made the short walk back home and got dressed in nice dry clothes and then – the kids’ electronics for the day were a bit sketchy. Emery arrived with an uncharged iPad and Quinn brought nothing with her. They had run through the charge on the thing Pam has.

They had played with the Barbies and raced the cars and done stuff with stuffed animals and were now in a state of tired uncertainty as to what to do. Pam but on a Bubble Guppies video and kept them from acting like murderous sisters and simply enjoy the time together sisters. We crocheted while the kids chilled and then it was time to return them to their family.

There was another complicated and convoluted discussion about child movement for the next day and all I really know is that the Littles are showing up via their mother’s car and we will see them when they get here.

Either the TSA, the airline, the baggage handlers, or time broke my “favorite” plastic hair toy. I tried to superglue it together and did. All together. I also superglued my hands although not together. After nail polish remover and picking, the stuff was off my hands by afternoon. But I needed a new hair toy because my hair CANNOT stay down while I’m here. I wore my only pair of shorts to walk and I needed new short for not walking. And I needed a hat to shade my eyes for the next walk. So we went to Walmart.

We went to the one close to Jen except it was farther from Jen than Pam had anticipated so it was a bit of an adventure. We were able to get my crap and pick up a couple things for lunch the next day. We dropped Aunt Babe’s walker off at her house, looked for the mysteriously missing papers, still couldn’t find them, and left anyway.

We came home and realized we hadn’t gotten all the things we needed, so we walked over to Safeway and got the rest.

After this busy day of doing nothing really, we relaxed and breathed the same air. It was a lovely day in paradise.

Puchases of the day. Big shopping spree.

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I begin each day with coffee and writing up the adventures from the day before. Pam begins her days with walking and saying the rosary. Yesterday was no different, I wrote and Pam walked but we planned to have her come back and get me after the initial rosary stuff.

I was smart enough to bring to my sunglasses. They were not sunglassy enough and I have a mission of finding something to keep me from the blinding rays before our next walk together. I usually wear a baseball cap at home and have about a ten of them there which isn’t doing me a lick of good here.

We walked over there and then went that way and crossed the street repeatedly in order to stay as much in the shade as possible. It worked really well. It was a beautiful day and hadn’t yet heated up to boiling.

We picked up some groceries as we passed Safeway and got back home before the milk soured or the ice cream melted. She really is that close to the store. According to either obsessive counting or perhaps Fitbit reckoning, it is only 700 steps from door to door.

We then waited for the rest of the day’s fun times. We were going t Jen’s for a Father’s Day feast. We picked up Aunt Babe and got there to piles and piles of food. There were two kinds of steak (ribeye and something else) as well as elk. There was a huge baked salmon. There were hotdogs, regular and burned for Aunt Babe. There were huge baked potatoes with all sorts of goodness for on top. And there were Brussels sprouts with bacon and pine nuts and a pasta salad with the wrong kind of cheese because – well, I don’t know but it was delicious that way.

I have included some pictures here. The only father we had with us piled two steaks and an elk loin on his plate, but didn’t manage to finish his third slab of meat. Aunt Babe ate two hot dogs. The little kids ate hot dog buns without the hot dogs. The big kids were not so foolish.

After all that, we were too full for dessert so we had to sit and “think empty” as Uncle Al used to say. It worked and after a while we were able to come up with enough room for the carrot cake and/or chocolate fudge cake.

The kids were going to swim, the older two generations had no energy left for that. We were trying to digest our food and that was all we could manage. Mark took off for home and we did the same. Pam did want to go to the pool, but the one here at Monte Vista. And she wanted to do it later.

We did “breathe the same air” for a while, waiting for the sun to set. The new pool here is lovely, but shadeless, so we were waiting to not get fried. We successfully did that and went to the pool around 7.30 PM. The pool itself was a bit chilly and so we just got in the spa, which was a bit warm. Better choice anyway. I did wear the suit with both pieces here, just so as to not frighten anyone.

One of Pam’s neighbors showed up after that other lady left. We had company there for most of our stay. We talked and talked an it was obvious some of us have kissed the Blarney Stone. It was past dark and I was still outside so this was rather frightening! I did not turn into a pumpkin and we got home around 9.30.

It didn’t take long, after all this going and doing stuff to get tired enough to have to part ways and end the day.

Ronnie’s stack of protein.

There was other stuff on his plate.

Some of the sides

Most of the salmon.

Brussels sprouts

Carrot cake

Our plan for this day was to go to the outlet mall. The one near Chandler is out in the middle of nowhere and it contains lots of nice stores, but not an overwhelming amount. It doesn’t take too long to do the entire thing for the two of us. We brought Aunt Babe with us, too.

The Arizona desert is known for the dry heat. Last time I was here, I nearly froze my ass off. Not that it was so cold, but that I didn’t bring warm enough clothing with me. I was seriously considering throwing in a winter coat, but opted out. It was not freezing yesterday which meant that it didn’t snow in the desert. Just rained. In the desert. I bring the best weather with me!

It was cloudy with mist droplets in the air here at the house. Then it started to spit a little and then in sprinkled and then it got to rain. Real rain. The sign over the highway that tells you to look for missing kids or missing old farts or watch out for motorcycles had a message telling these desert dwellers that rain makes the road slippery. It was that kind of rain.

The closer we got to the mall, the harder it was raining. We turned off the 202 to get to the damn place and bam! No rain. It had rained for a while because there were puddles, but now it was good for shopping.

We found a place to park. Since Pam and I had different stores we wished to look at, we parted ways with Aunt Babe and didn’t make her look for white tennis shoes not the size of the entire tennis court, and made a time to connect.

I didn’t find the white tennies, but Pam found some sandals and a couple really cute tops. We both bought fancy soap. I got a free gift for giving them my email address but Pam wasn’t eligible because they already had hers. She bought more there than I did, always shops there, and no freebie. I pointed out she should get something for being a loyal customer. She got the free gift, too. They were just teeny tiny samples of their hand lotion – something Pam actually bought.

We found Aunt Babe and got back in the car and took off for Mimi’s Café for lunch. We found it easily enough and got seated, uneasily enough. Eventually we ordered. Aunt Babe got a funnel cake with the whipped cream in a gravy boat and the strawberries and blueberries in a separate bowl because she doesn’t like her food soggy. It looked delicious and she really seemed to enjoy it.

Pam and I ordered the turkey/cranberry/walnut salad sandwich. She got a salad while I got tomato basil soup with mine. And then we ordered dessert in the desert. It was French silk slab pie (which meant it was a square thing instead of a pie wedge). It was fantastic.

We should have been able to get right back straight down the road to the 202. Should is the operative word there. Pam’s in-car navigation doesn’t work. I found directions on my phone but she found them on her phone, too. I turned my speaker off and her speaker would helpfully talk to us shortly after we would miss making a turn. Sometimes it was say, “in three inches, turn left” or helpful things like that.

It was like trying to get out of Dodge City, Kansas all over again. We could see the road, but the on ramp was elusive. Backtracking, we might have got on the 101 to the 60, but … we couldn’t get into that lane. So, we went that other way, past where we needed to turn because of lane issues again. We made a “legal u-turn” (I love when the car tells me that, making sure I never make an illegal one). We followed a sign saying the 202 was over there, right where we had started.

Where there was a chance to turn – one that we had already chanced, we stayed on the straight and narrow, even though there were no helpful signs at that place telling us to do so. We found the damn 202.

I never know where I am here and Pam drives and get us to where we are going eventually. I try not to be a backseat driver. But I saw our exit and Pam was going to miss it and so I mentioned it was time to get off the precious 202 we had finally and laboriously found. I may not know where I’m actually going, but I can get home. That’s where the coffee lives.

We dropped off Aunt Babe, rested a while, got ready for church, got Aunt Babe back in the car and went to Mass. I was Catholic long enough to know the prayers and recitations, but I’ve be unCatholic long enough that they changed the damn things and I get muddled up in the new language. I participated to the best of my ability anyway. “And also with you” seems such a perfect response. Erroneous now, but perfect. Oh well.

We got back home and were going to spend a quiet evening. We called Cheri and I thought we were going to sit here and talk to here, but Pam thought she was going to walk. So even though we were in the same house, I conference called Pam so she could walk and I could sit and drink my freshly made coffee.

It was so good to talk to Cheri. She sounded so much better than the last time we talked. We have been keeping in touch via other technology, but the sound her voice made my heart happy. Steve is doing wellish and they went to see his dad yesterday. Happy Father’s Day to you guys – Steve and Brian.

Back home now, Pam got a call from Ryan and he needed a ride to Target for stupid kid stuff. Neither parent nor the uncle would take him and his friends on this fool’s errand, so Nana got in the car, went over and became an Uber driver for them. Not quite as quiet an evening as we thought.

She got back here and we then resumed our quiet time, playing computer games, crocheting, laughing, talking … sister stuff. It was a long day and she went off to bed and then, so did I.

Dear Dick, I wish you the happiest of Father’s Days. You have always been an exceptional parent. I hope our boys know how lucky they have been in that regard. You led by example (except for the vegetable eating stuff) and showed them how to be the wonderful men and fathers they have become. Thank you for taking this fantastic journey with me. I love you always and forever.

Aunt Babe enjoying her meal.

Pam went on her walk and I stayed here in the cool. Best choice ever. She came back hot and flushed and here I sat, cool as a cucumber. Since we started our day early enough, she had time to clean up before we went to pick up Emery. I do know that Hannah and Quinn were at gymnastics camp all week but have no idea where Ryan is. He may have been lurking in the house when we picked up the pipsqueak, but we didn’t see him.

With Emery now with us, we could start our errands. Rather than pack yarn and haul it across the country, I had asked if we could shop for some here. I hope to be able to make a baby afghan and leave it here for Pam’s donation pile. With that goal in mind, we went to Joann’s since she said they had the best yarn selection.

We did not only look at yarn, of course, but shopped the whole store. I did get yarn and Pam got some things. We went to checkout and I went to their website and there was a coupon if I downloaded their app and then twirled in a circle four times while whistling Dixie and blinking rapidly. I just bought the yarn at the sale price and figured I would just have to learn to like that.

Pam got the thing working and was all ready to go when, bam, it didn’t work. So, she stood there poking at her phone and getting madder by the minute. She finally got the thing to work and got her discount. But the clerk told us that as soon as it updates the app again, it loses all that information and she will have to enter it again.

The clerk said it was frustrating for her, too, since there was no way to help us. I pointed out it must be doubly difficult because Michaels figured out how to get this done faster and better. She told me that Michaels didn’t accept other coupons like they did. I did not point out that Joann had to since they couldn’t seem to figure out how to accept their own damn coupons. That’s what I get for wearing a yoga shirt saying that makes it seem like I’m not going to be sarcastic.

We went from there to Walmart and I looked at buying a bottom half of a bathing suit, but opted to just go with wearing the teal one for my stay here. We bought a few grocery items we needed and left the store. Pam made a quick stop at Dillards because they had her special soap on sale, except that was all a terrible lie. No soap on sale.

We headed home, much to Emery’s delight.

We had told Aunt Babe that lunch would happen at 12:30 and she scooted on over in her power scooter and got here for a delicious meal. We ate perogies with all the fixings.

After lunch, we needed to figure out how to cancel Babe’s OnStar subscription since she doesn’t own the car anymore. This only took one phone call, but they needed information from her that Pam couldn’t have supplied. With both of them working together, it got cancelled.

They then went shopping on Amazon and found some walker thing Aunt Babe wanted and a water sling Aunt Pam wanted and I remained without purchase, although I did scale through a few items to see if I wanted presents waiting for me when I got home.

We played on electronic devices – Aunt Babe with an ebook reader, Pam on an iPad, and me on my tablet. Emery, with her own tablet/iPad whatever the hell that is, was on her own thing “watching” movies on the couch while playing with the toys in the middle of the room. It’s a kid thing.

Aunt Babe went home. Jen came to get Emery. We were down to just the two of us. I got my yarn out. Last year, Pam and I spent a lovely evening unknotting her skein of yarn like this. I pulled out the first little bit and violins! I could get to work. But the joy was short lived, the next pull brought a knotted mess.

Pam tried to untangle it while I kept crocheting. Eventually we decided it could not be done. So I ended up undoing what had been done so I could get the variegated yarn to not be backwards and then we spent a delightful evening unknotting my yarn.

Dear Bernat, your job is to make yarn. This is what you do. Your large skeins are simply unusable since you have not mastered the task of making that glob of yarn into just a string where one can just knit or crochet. It is not delightful in any sense of the world, to have to spend the evening doing a job that other yarn manufacturers have seem to mastered. Twirling this product into a skein that pulls, seems to be beyond your ken. You should fix that.

Even though I was up at the crack of South Carolina’s dawn, I managed to stay awake or at least in the living room, longer than Pam.

I was listening or watching or learning about jet lag from a podcast, video, or something. While the first day is difficult because of the time zone change, it isn’t particularly trying to get your body to understand the daylight stuff. However, it is not the only thing about ciradian rhythms. Your body slows down many other functions at sunset, allowing you to sleep through the night.

The one I remember them talking about was that your kidneys slow down so you don’t wet the bed. It takes days to get this into the new time zone. Just to prove they were right, I was up at 3 AM to pee and it took me over an hour to fall back to sleep. But I did, so it is later now as I write this.

We have plans for the day and I will let you know if they worked, tomorrow.

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My no-longer-skein of yarn,, 

The new money making device for airlines, or at least for Delta, is to charge you to select your seat in advance. My ticket reserved a place on the plane, but I did not get to pick the place. Since I’m cheap, I went with this technological wonder and then wondered if I was going to be flying standby or something.

My flight from Charleston to Atlanta came up with a seat assignment the day before the flight. But the flight from Atlanta to Phoenix just said “at gate” and I asked in Charleston if their gate was any good and was told it was not. I would have to ask in Atlanta.

I had a window seat on the first flight and there was an empty seat between me and the guy on the aisle. Very nice. Since it is a very short flight, we got a quick drink and I chose, of all things, coffee. Who knew? Delta has very bad coffee and I asked for only a single creamer. But I needed to drink something and so I did.

I wasn’t sure how Atlanta terminal was going to go for me. This is where Cheri should have been waiting, but she wasn’t there. I managed to not cry. I managed to not even weep when I bought a $3 plus tax container of yogurt, although I did blink rapidly.

At the gate, some less friendly sky guy had to tell all of us cheap seats people that we would get our seat assignment as we boarded. We would be in Group 1 and just wait patiently or impatiently, if that worked better. We did.

I got a window seat again. And it was a new plane with this odd configuration. The flight attendant’s jump seat faced me and there was a row in front of me that was the actual exit row, but there was no seat in front of mine. So I could stretch my legs out and cross them without bumping into anything. I think it may have been the best seat outside of First Class.

They are remodeling Phoenix airport and I suppose it will be wonderful at some future date. I managed to find a bathroom, my luggage, and Pam – in that order.
We stopped to get something to eat and sent texts back and forth with Cheri. As those who vacation with me know, the gnomes are part of the experience and to that end, we have a system built for this trip as well. See photo below.

While I was winging through the air, Cheri was bringing Steve home from the hospital. They are whelmed, but not overwhelmed at the prospect of no hospital staff available around the clock. I’m sure they will do fine and Steve will get to eat all those meals from the freezer.

We got home and I unpacked my suitcase. I bought two bathing suits because I could and brought them both with me. They are two piece suits, one teal and the other black and white. And I will only be wearing the teal one here because I apparently left the bottom to the black and white one in the dresser back home. Lovely.

We walked to Aunt Babe’s house and she was really surprised to see me. She had the July 2 date in her head and thought that was when we were coming, not going back home. No wonder she was confused. I couldn’t stay too long because it was getting close to nine o’clock and I was tired because for me, that was really midnight.

I knew I would be awake at the crack of dawn because I’m still three hours early. I was. So here I am at either five or eight o’clock, depending on geography or biology. Pam had coffee sitting out for me.

Pam drinks only a little bit of coffee. She gussies it up and adds hot chocolate mix to a large cup of joe and has some confection thing not even every single day. I have at least three cups of coffee every single day and when I get a bit frisky, I have even more. I’m including picture of my not-really-coffee-addicted sister’s coffee stash just so I can feel better about myself at some future date. She has more coffee than I do. Imagine.

For a day in which I did nothing, I had a lot of words to talk about it. One of the goals for this blog while I’m here is to let Cheri have as many details as I can think of. I want her here with me and know she has to be there with Steve where she really belongs. But she is here in my heart. She is with me right now. I want to share this time with her as she takes care of her beloved husband.

And I want Steve to know that it is still Sistercation and that all he has to do is get better and not worry about this. Cheri may be there, but by the powers of love and family and magic and technology and all the gifts of this universe, she is here with us, too. Sistercation is happening and he need not worry about it. Sisters can do these things.

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Cheri dining with us. She will be here for the duration.

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The non coffee addict’s coffee stash.

Back in May, Cheri and I decided to buy our Sistercation flights online together. We were on the phone for over an hour and a good portion of that time was actually buying flights. Steve’s work schedule had to be taken into account as did Cheri’s. Then we worried about Harley (the dog, not the bike). We selected days that worked when flights were available for both of us. To our delight, we found we were both taking the same plane out of Atlanta. We would have extra hours of Sistercation together.

On Memorial Day, Steve was on the bike Harley trying to get home from Virginia. He didn’t feel very good and it was getting worse. It got much worse. He finally decided to GPS for the closest hospital which was still 27 minutes away. He got there intact. He was still 3.5 hours from home, but could go no farther.

His left anterior descending artery in his heart was 100% blocked. He was rushed to a bigger hospital where they put in a stent. He did well after that and was able to come home later in the week.

Pam and I waited. This was all Cheri’s call. Whatever she wanted to do would be what we would all do. Steve was mostly distraught that she had missed the last few days of school and her kindergarten class would be forever changed. Hell, those kids loved her all year, they FaceTimed her on the very last day and will be fine.

Steve’s next doctor appointment happened the following week. Pam and I continued to wait for Cheri’s decision. Steve finally had a cardiologist at home and his appointment was for today while Cheri would be waiting in Atlanta. She figured out how to manage this and would be there via teleconference. So that’s what we would do.

Cheri made 20 heart healthy dinners for Steve and put them in the freezer. She labeled all Harley’s ear medication doses and put them in bags. She was ready for this trip because Steve was adamant that he not “mess up” Sistercation as he had “messed up” kindergarten.

On Monday, Steve’s vision changed and he felt “funny” all over. He had just been to the eye doctor earlier in the day and his seeing was fine. They called the eye doctor and she saw him again and found no reason for the loss of peripheral vision on the left. With instructions, they went home to wait for an appointment at the Cincinnati Eye Institute.

On Tuesday, bright and early, Steve’s optometrist called the Institute and got them in before noon. Steve went there and they sent him to the hospital across the street for an MRI. Steve had had a stroke.

Cheri finally decided that what Steve wanted wasn’t as important as what she needed. She had to cancel Sistercation. On Tuesday afternoon she, Pam, and I were all on the phone together and she asked me to promise to get on the plane.

I am getting on the plane. For Cheri. For Steve. Maybe by later this week or next week, I will be able to say I got the plane for me. I have never been so conflicted about a “vacation” that seems anything but.

All I really want is for Steve to get better so he and Cheri can get back to the regularly scheduled life. I have no idea why it seems like I’m this craven hearted bitch right now. Sitting in South Carolina wasn’t doing either of them any real good. I’m still just a text away for any medical questions. And yet, this feels like I’m behaving inappropriately.

The goals for this trip are to include Cheri as much as possible with FaceTime and phone calls and whatever works for her. I already have my next vacation planned and it is a trip to Ohio to see Joe and the kids. We are driving. We will now reroute the trip for a day or two stop in Cincinnati so we can see Cheri and Steve and then go on to Cleveland for the rest of the time. Pam has her own plans for this.

We have had a two sister Sistercation once before. It worked out all right.

Get well, Steve. I love you both.

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I bargained for my scaling today.

First up was a bench press with six rounds of five heavy reps. Well, it doesn’t take much for me to get to heavy and I managed three rounds, but then couldn’t get my fifth lift as my spaghetti arms got tired. I dropped the weight a bit and did the last few rounds five pounds lighter and it worked okay.

Then the WOD was:

5 RFT
50 double unders
20 push-ups

I can’t do 50 double unders, but I can do some which is a great improvement over my previous life. So I was bargaining on this. The option for non double under people was 100 single unders, but my scaling would have remained just 50 cuz I’m old. But I wanted to try to get some double unders and so, I bargained for five tries per round. If I missed the first double under, I didn’t count it because that was crap, but if I missed the third in a row, I might have. Mostly I always got four, I always attempted five, and then actually five some rounds. It was all pretty fluid since I only had to attempt five but didn’t like really counting the misses.

Now, with math skills intact, I realized that was 100 push-ups. I was given the option of cutting those back and keeping them real push-ups. Wormy was okay, but locked out plank at the top and lowering in a plank position was mandatory. I was told the WOD wasn’t supposed to take more than twenty minutes. Really, that’s all it takes for me. Give me a damn time cap. So I said I thought I could manage all 100 push-ups but if I got to stop at twenty minutes, that would be okay. Just for the record, I finished in 15.40.

In the Open, I only had to do push-ups from my knees because I’m frail and feeble and older than dirt. But I don’t really have to do that. I can do real ones, if you don’t mind wormy. And since we didn’t mind wormy today, I did them all.

However, with all these more than I need to do at the Open options that I’ve been taking, next year during the Open, I should be awesome. Instead of 15# dumbbell snatches, I can drop back to ten. Instead of full push-ups, I will be able to do them from my knees. Next up, tomorrow is wall balls and I think I’m going to try a 12 pound ball instead of the 10 I’ve always used.

It’s the only way to get stronger or better at this. Just keep failing over and over until I don’t fail any more. At least, that’s the plan.

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