July 2010

Ben Stein wrote an article posted via The American Spectator. He talks about the recession and unemployment in the article. He makes this statement: “The people who have been laid off and cannot find work are generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities. I say ‘generally’ because there are exceptions. But in general, as I survey the ranks of those who are unemployed, I see people who have overbearing and unpleasant personalities and/or who do not know how to do a day’s work. They are people who create either little utility or negative utility on the job.”

The responses to the article are scathing. How dare anyone say someone being out of a job might be their own fault.

Unemployment graphic

There are not enough jobs for the number of people who want to work. That’s what rampant unemployment means. There are many people who would work if there was someone to hire them. I know. I was that person. However, I wasn’t desperate about it and so was choosy in the type of job I was looking for.

There is a really great graphic at Google. You can see the overall US unemployment rate as well as add various states. It is not a static picture so I can’t grab it, but you can see it here.

But let’s be realistic here. There are people who go to work – sorta. They arrive late, text all day, leave early. They don’t look “professional” in the work place. It is extremely hard to look professional with tattoos on your face or neck (or anywhere exposed for that matter) and piercings all over your face with odd colored hair. There is business attire and it doesn’t include flip-flops.

If you are non-productive at work or if you spread misery wherever you go, you aren’t going to be the person retained or the one first hired. If you really want a job, you need to show up at the interview looking like a business person, not chewing gum like you were some cow chewing her cud, with hair that doesn’t look like a rainbow. Cover up the tattoos, take all the hardware out of your face (those earlobe extender things are just not easy to hide so I have no advice here) and turn off the cell phone. If you get a text, you just can’t answer it in the interview – really.

This doesn’t mean that all people who are unemployed are slugs who have no work ethic. What it does mean is if you are looking for a job, there are things you can do to increase the likelihood of being hired or not. Making yourself into a corporate drone doesn’t mean selling your soul to the devil. It means that while you are work you are a “work person” and while you are at home you are a “home person” and while you are out in the world having fun you are a “fun person”.

Individual expression is great if you are all alone. If you are in a group, there are standards. You have to be up to the standards or the group shuns you. It is not bullying. Your individuality doesn’t trump society. If you want to live outside society, then you have no claim on that society. You are permitted to pick your nose, but if you do it during a job interview, you won’t be hired. You can tattoo your entire body, but don’t expect to be hired at some conservative law firm. You can color your hair lime green, but don’t expect to be the receptionist for some small company in Podunk, USA. If you want to play the game, you have to play within the rules.

There is a time and place for everything. Texting all day at work isn’t a good idea. You may be able to do it quietly, but you aren’t as unobtrusive as you think you are. You are at work and those horrible people actually expect you to do stuff for them while they are paying you. Imagine that!

The amount of anger in the responses to Ben Stein is rather amazing. How much responsibility do we have to shape our own lives? How much of our existence is just a matter of luck – good or bad? I understand the rampant unemployment. I know people out of work, too. Why not take this as a way to get an edge during a job interview? Look the part, play the part, get the part. Isn’t that the goal of job seeking?

I’m back home and not writing again. Partly, this is due to my days being filled with tasks of great to miniscule importance.

I’ve worked more than my five hours each day this week – so far. I should be able to get out on time today. One hopes. I will take time off Monday in order to make up for the extra I worked this week. Or maybe Tuesday would be better. But one of those days will see me getting my “time” back.

I’ve had to do laundry. My own (including many of the new clothes I bought in Arizona) and all of Dick’s while I was gone. I’ve had to go to the grocery store and get some fresh foods into the house. Dick isn’t so keen on fruits and vegetables.

My new car is wonderful. But it had a horrible rattle. Dick said it didn’t happen when he was driving it. But when he tried driving it after I got home from work, he was appalled by the noise it made. He figured out it was the plastic cover on the driver’s side of the latch holding the convertible top in place. It rattles more when it is hot outside. Doesn’t rattle at all with the top down.

He made an appointment with a Mazda dealer to bring the car in yesterday morning. It was also the one and only time since I began working last October that I needed to be into work early. So we ran over to the car dealership at eight and left the car. Curtis, the man behind the desk, thought it would take less than an hour to fix. But we didn’t have that much time to wait around.

While at the grocery store the day before, I had purchased a pork roast. I was intending to get that in the Crockpot before I went to work. But I hadn’t intended on a trip to the car dealership. So Dick helped me get the roast into the Crockpot by peeling all the carrots while I dumped the rest of the stuff in.

I met Julie at the office and then we traveled downtown to a workshop on a company specific program. It was fairly beneficial. We both learned a few things that will make our lives easier from here on out. But it wasn’t as great as it could have been because there were some people who had never touched the program before while we have been using it for three years. We knew much of the basics that were being presented to the laggards who had successfully avoided using the program. One would assume they are finally taking the legacy program offline and so the Luddites are being forced into the new software.

I got home and the part for the car needed to be ordered. It was only a $20 part, but they didn’t have it in stock. My car is supposed to be ready by 10 AM today. We haven’t yet taken the Saturn to Craig, so I’ve been driving that. I only drove the Mazda for two days, but I tried to step on a clutch to start the Saturn and then grabbed the gear shift to go from first to second after pulling out from a red light. The brakes are a lot different in the two cars, too. It doesn’t take very long to get used to something.

Last evening was my first time since I got back from my vacation when I could really just laze around. So I did that. I could have looked for something topical to write about. I didn’t do that. I just sat and played a couple dumb computer games and ate cherries. Everyone needs some down time.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

I used to not like flying itself. That’s all changed. I now am petrified of the process of getting on planes. Because Dick flies so often and has so many bad stories about his experience, I’m always afraid of missing a flight or the flight being cancelled. This means I sit around in airports longer than I have to, but it keeps me from throwing up so it seems like it works out best for all.

We got to the airport faster than I expected because traffic was exceptionally light. Pam kept saying how light traffic was so this isn’t me just being weird. It is me being weird and then facts bearing out my perception. It happens every once in a while so there is no need to look alarmed.

I waited for 20 minutes in a shorter line at my dinky airport. There was only one TSA person checking our valid picture IDs against our tickets and our faces and only two places to x-ray all our goods. So even though the line was longer, the process was shorter and it only took 10 minutes at Sky Harbor.

Gnome at Sky Harbor in Phoenix, Arizona

I was at gate 17 and Cheri was leaving from gate 15. The two gates were right next to each other. They had a television set mounted and talking with the words also scrolling so we could all be “entertained” while we waited. Then the airline personnel would make an announcement. You couldn’t hear important stuff because the TV was talking.

There was no plane outside at the gate. I know there needs to be a plane there in order for me to get on it. Planes are large and hard to miss when looking out the big window. Cheri didn’t really believe me when I was beginning to panic about not having a plane there. If every flight was from Far-Away-Place to Home, I wouldn’t care. I would be on a plane when it got there and then be home when it landed. But because I don’t live at a hub location, no planes do that. So I always have to worry about a connecting flight.

We were to begin boarding 30 minutes before the flight was to take off because it takes that long to get everyone and their luggage onboard and stowed in the overhead bins or under the seats. The plane needs to be there prior to that because it takes some time for people to gather all their crap from the overhead bins and under the seats and file off the plane and get the hell out of my way. Then flight crews need to do stuff to get the plane ready. I believe part of this “stuff” is collect up all the crap people forgot to take with them.

When the plane wasn’t even at the gate by the time we were to begin boarding, I was getting all panicky again. I waited a few minutes as we saw the plane pulling in and then I called Dick and he said, “You are going to be late taking off. Let me look and I will call you back in five minutes.” I waited a bit more than five minutes and then we were beginning to board so I called him back and said we were boarding. We did take off a few minutes late, but it wasn’t bad.

Gnome on the plane, safe and sound

We got to Atlanta and pulled up to a gate and we got off the plane as quickly as possible. We made up some time in the air. It was a very smooth flight – I think. I slept most of the way. Or at least dozed. My neck would get all sore and wake me up and then I would fall back to sleep. I didn’t sleep the entire way, however, because I read most of my magazine on the first flight and I ate my peanuts – a far better choice than the gag-ya-stick-in-the-throat cookie thing they have.

I tried to get online in the Atlanta airport so I could put up something on Facebook to say I was safely that far. I have no idea what I was doing wrong. It wouldn’t connect to the airports WiFi or to the Free Public WiFi. I don’t know why, but it wasn’t really that important. So after trying several times I put the computer away.

The plane arrived before we were to be boarding and the people scurried off. No problems. Except there was a problem. They announced we would be waiting until the mechanic finished working on the compression thingy. It sounded like this was important as cabin pressure needs to be maintained at all times during the ride. We would be 15 minutes late. Then we were going to be 30 minutes late. I didn’t mind being late here because that only meant I would be home late, not missing my next flight. They might cancel the flight and then that would send me for a loop, but we weren’t there yet. The next leg of the journey home was just a short hop.

My 6.45 flight was to being boarding at 6.15 but instead we began boarding at 6.55. I’m not quite sure what time we left but I got to Charleston at 8.30. It seemed like I waited a really long time for the luggage to show up, but that might have been fatigue making everything seem to take longer. I was back at the house by 9 and unpacked quickly.

LC was really glad to see me. We snuggled for a bit. She has been following me around closely. The basket arrived here without damage. I showed Dick all my new clothes and got stuff either hung up or put in the laundry. I have to wash all Izod clothes before I can wear them because they make me itch if I don’t.

Gnome all confused in his new surroundings. Where is this place? Where are all his people?

Then Dick showed me my new car and we played with that for a while. I was still not tired enough to fall asleep. So I downloaded my Shockwave games and wrote a bit on Facebook. Then I told myself I simply had to go to sleep because tomorrow was another day.

A familiar thing. A very spacious and capacious and wonderful computer. At least we have this.

I set the alarm for 7.15 just in case. But I woke up at 6.20 as the day really began here with daylight filtering in.

We all managed to sleep in a bit. I got my morning pieces written, pictured, and posted. We ate huge cinnamon rolls (except for Aunt Babe who had cereal). We then needed a plan.

We figured out what that mall over by where Cheri used to live was by searching on Google. I needed a better search phrase than that, but rather searched against Neiman Marcus, a store known to live in the mall. We then had a mall name, we could put in an address and get to the mall with the Garmin helping out.

We entered from a different direction and Pam couldn’t find her normal place to park. But since it was the weekend, we had the opportunity to park in an underground lot usually saved for people who rented space during the week.

We walked in via Anthropologie and figured we would never find our way back out. So I took a picture, just in case. We were going to leave a trail of gnomes to follow back out, but were too frightened we would lose our precious buddies.

The mall is built on several different levels. There is the Palm Court level, Level 1, and Level 2. Except that in a few places, rather than a full level up or down, you walk a half level up or down. We did manage to circle the mall from Barney’s of New York (where we had to keep Pam from buying a $1,900 purse) to Dillard’s. we did not stop in Macy’s or Nordstrom and stayed out of Neiman Marcus as well. They didn’t really like us at Barney’s as we kept gasping for air with each price tag.

A gnome at Barney's. This may be part of the reason they didn't really like us too much. Gnome discrimination.

While walking toward Barney’s we saw a Cheri store. We had no idea what was inside because we were not at the right angle to see anything more than the name of the store. But Charming Charlie seemed just perfect for our charming sister. When we got close to it, Cheri noticed an entire Crocs store directly across from it and squealed.

We went to the charming store first and it was an accessories store. Everything you might ever need to accessorize any outfit you might ever have. Each area was a specific color, rather than grouped by item. So if you needed something in red, go to the red section. Want yellow? Go to the yellow section. Very smart marketing. It made us wander the entire store.

I stayed strong for quite a while, but I finally caved and purchased some jewels. I got three necklaces for me (two with matching earrings) and a beautiful pink ribbon necklace for Morgan. I spent $25. Pam found a summer watch that wouldn’t be irritating. It was $15. Aunt Babe also found a necklace. Only the charming sister managed to not buy anything at the charming store. We put everything in one small bag, so it contained the family jewels.

Gnomes guarding the family jewels

Cheri happily shopping

We then went to the Crocs store and Cheri couldn’t find the very special Crocs she needed. As Pam and I were crawling  around the floor to get a picture of the gnome in the Crocs store, an employee came over to see if we were insane or in trouble. Once he knew we were just nuts, he shook his head and slowly backed away.

Gnome at the Croc store and attracting attention. I swear he has proper papers and should not be deported.

We were hungry. We went to the food court. There had to be 12 to 15 places to pick from. Three of us (the sisters) chose Paradise which is a sister store to Panera and had wonderful sandwiches which came with chocolate chip cookie. Aunt Babe got a spinach Stromboli from Sbarro.

Gnomes having their last meal together. At least for right now. Gnomes alone can be unhappy, so they need to plan another get together.

Next, we needed a pit stop and entered the coldest restroom this side of an open latrine at the South Pole in the dead of winter. Also good marketing. If you didn’t need to pee when you stepped in, you did after you stood there for a moment.

We continued down the mall and got to the anchor store opposite from Barney’s. We were much better at Dillard’s. We strolled around and looked at shoes with Aunt Babe while Pam went off to the lingerie department. Apparently, the big look for the coming year is “hooker”. We found lots of shoes with five inch spike heels, but they were sitting on a one inch platform, so that’s much easier. Why don’t they just sell stilts?

After we were done being amazed in the shoes, we joined Pam in lingerie and she was so happy. She had finally found 70% off jammies, just like she was looking for. They were so great, she bought five pair. She found some Yves St. Laurent jammies as we were leaving that were on sale, too. The ones she bought were buy one, get four free when comparing price against the YSL pair.

We did manage to find our entry point and got back outside to the hot (but dry) air. We found the car. Even though we had been inside for 2-3 hours, our ice water was still cool. The ice had melted, but it was still refrigerator cold. The power of shade. We needed the Garmin to find our way back to the main highway and home. We spent the rest of the afternoon just laughing.

I never in my life thought I would live to see THIS. Aunt Babe wearing shoeboxes. Wait, those are Cheri's Crocs

After we foraged for food, we decided to mosey on over to the pool for one last refreshing dip. We were packing up the towels when Jen knocked on the door. Aunt Babe was opting to revel in silence at home while the sisters went to the pool Jen had to go home to get her suit, but she then joined us at the pool. We were only there for about a half hour when it began to lightning. Even without a lifeguard present to save us from the elements, Mother Nature, and the fury of the storm – we were smart enough to get out of the pool.

The lightning was rare and distant. It then got less rare and less distant. We decided to get back home and began our walk. We could see where it was raining over there, but it was still dry right here. We got Pam’s chairs she had taken to a neighbor’s roof patio for the fireworks display on July 4. She now has her chairs back and we were home in plenty of time before the rain hit.

Cheri and I needed to print out boarding passes which sounds like it should be easy. I tried first and there was no printing going on. The printer was on and still nothing happening. I had to ask Pam. Well, you have to have the printer and computer hooked together or it does no good at all. After we fixed that little problem, I got my boarding passes and a pass for my luggage. It is $2 cheaper if you do that the night before. Cheri couldn’t find her Delta code and was near panic when Pam figured out a way to get her in and get her boarding passes.

My luggage is packed with room to spare. What I wasn’t really sure about was the weight. It weighs slightly over 30 pounds, so I have weight to spare, too. I still can’t put any of the candy in there, so my carry-on backpack is a bit heavy.

Pam and I played the last set of trivial cards with Cheri chiming in with “bowling ball” every so often. Aunt Babe was reading. We went to bed fairly early. I was up at 4.15 AM Arizona time. This may be a really good thing, because now I’m on South Carolina time without really trying.

I can’t believe my sister vacation is over. I don’t want it to be over. We had so much fun. Since I wrote this daily, we can even remember all the fun we had. Aunt Babe gets to stay until the end of the month and then she is driving up to Illinois. She and Pam will still have lots of fun. That’s a good thing. I just wish I got to share in more of it.

The day started out with laughter and went from there. Aunt Babe come out soon after I emerged from the bedroom. But she was dressed already. Like most days here, I began by writing up the story of the day before. Pam and Cheri joined us in the kitchen and we laughed while I typed.

We were trying to get to the outdoor (but under roof) shopping place early in the day. We are four gabby women and three of us have kissed the Blarney Stone. Nothing gets done as quickly as we think it might because we are busy talking. We left the house each with a large Styrofoam cup full of ice water.

This place is rather like a flea market – without any of the stuff being what is now euphemistically called “pre-owned”. Only a small portion of the place was open at this time of the year. But prices were generally lower than in the winter. Cheri was looking for coasters and Pam was looking for a watch. Aunt Babe and I weren’t looking for anything in particular.

We did not start out at the time we intended. Bit it wasn’t really late, either. It was near nine when we left the house. They turn the misters on only after a certain temperature is registered. When it is 100⁰ F we were supposed to be misted. One booth was selling thermometers. It was 102⁰ in there. We were not being misted.

I found some really cute skirts. Not plain, but still. Finally some go-to-work bottoms for real. Julie and Lester don’t care what I wear as long as I look nice and rather businesslike. So my nice Capri pants work. But I prefer something else, myself. So I’ve been looking.

Cheri and I each got coasters. Pam was not successful in her watch shopping. They no longer carry the style of watch she needs for summer in Arizona. Although they had “over 5,000 watches” according to their sign, they weren’t the right kind. She wants the kind of band like the watch I bought in Alaska, which isn’t helpful to anyone who doesn’t know what type of watch I got in Alaska, but that’s still the kind.

I ran out of water somewhere in here. Everyone else was less piggy and still had water.

After the disappointment of the watches, and the dry heat of the establishment, we opted to go to somewhere air conditioned. We started out at Ross and I filled up a shopping cart. I bought a jacket, three tops, and three dresses. I got new sunglasses that I can actually see out of, and a netbook case with handles. Aunt Babe said I was going to run out of room in my suitcase.

A gnome in the shopping cart, looking for good buys

A gnome looking at all the wonderful wares available

Pam found a really cute top and Cheri got some shoes. We took all the bags to the car and continued on.

Our next stop was World Market. I bought some chocolate wine with my compatriots looking at me somewhat askance without actually saying, “Are you nuts?” Cheri bought some specialty food we hadn’t seen elsewhere.

We went to Sweet Tomatoes for lunch. There is nothing like this back in South Carolina or in Ohio. It is a fresh food cafeteria. They use produce from local farmers. There are specialty lettuce-based salads, salad bar ingredients, pasta salads, several types of soups, breads, and side dishes, and an ice cream dessert bar.

Gnomes eat free at Sweet Tomatoes

Anyone watching us might have thought we had just emerged from forty days in the desert rather than a morning of shopping in the desert. We had plates piled with salad, a bowl of soup, and dessert. I had one large plate, two smaller plates, a soup bowl, and a dessert bowl at my place setting. I also had a drink, but who wouldn’t? I don’t remember the last time I had a soda before I got here. I’ve had a couple Cokes on the plane, Dr. Peppers on the road, and so I went for a root beer. What a waste of calories. But that can happen when you are thirsty.

We were tired and cranky and overstuffed from eating like it was the first time we had seen food in at least a week, possible a decade. We opted to come back to the house although it wasn’t much more than two.

First thing I did was jump in the shower. I then put on one of my new dresses. I felt so much better clean, un-stinky, and dressed in completely dry clothing. Mass started at four and I was ready. Then it dawned on us.

Earlier in the week, I had been to Sprouts. But I didn’t buy my candies then because Pam said we were coming back later in the week and we were in a hurry the first time. So I needed to get back and we were supposed to do that after Sweet Tomatoes. If we weren’t in a food coma, we probably would have remembered that then. But that’s not the choices we made. Maybe next time we go out, we will remember to make better choices.

Pam found online how late they were open and we knew we could get there after church. So we just laid around. Aunt Babe read a book, I read AARP papers, Cheri and Pam were on their computer. Then people were feeling a bit worn out and began “resting” or even got so far as to “doze” or possibly “nap”.

Pam set the square timer from the kitchen and curled up in the red recliner. Cheri was on the floor, Aunt Babe was horizontal-ish on the sofa. I was lounging in the green chair. Aunt Babe and I still had reading materials out. Pam’s timer is weird. You set the time and ten minutes before it is time it beeps once, five minutes later it beeps again with a different pattern, and then it gets really bossy when the time is up. Pam set the timer at 2.55 PM.

Anyone who has ever visited my sister’s house knows about the clock. It chimes. It chimes and chimes and chimes. There is a pattern for each quarter hour and on the hour it goes on forever and then adds the hours. As the small timer chirped, the clock chimed the hour, and I got the hiccups. Cheri, in her usual calm and easy manner, squealed and then started laughing so hard she could hardly fall back to rest.

Everyone finally got rested and then spruced up and we went to church. I have been to Pam’s church before. I know all the ritual prayers of the religion. But each church gets to pick the Mass they sing. For non-Catholics out there, this means there are hundreds of ways to sing several of the ritual prayers and each separate parish gets to pick their version. So travelers may be steeped in the religion but unable to fully participate. I could recite the prayers as spoken, and sing the songs from the hymnal as they had the music included. I couldn’t sing the Mass because it wasn’t one I knew.

The celebrant priest was visiting from Tanzania. He spoke with a beautifully cadenced rhythm. He was engaging and had a great sermon based on the Gospel. He lamented that the entire world is changing and not like the world of forty and five years ago. (I had just met a small person in the bathroom at Sprouts and kept her from either escaping while her mother was occupied or getting smacked in the face with the door. Her mother thanked me and sadly mentioned how her daughter was not afraid of anyone. We commented on the unfortunate world in which we lived where it is necessary to be afraid of strangers.)

After church we got to Sprouts. Dick has his taffy now. We came back to the house and Pam and I had our leftover Chinese dinner from the day before. Side note: yesterday, I was crop dusting (without announcement) all day. I didn’t know what I ate but after a second helping of my sesame chicken and crop dusting again, I think I will blame it on the chicken. We had the chocolate wine and all those who had never before tasted chocolate wine found they liked it.

Pam had purchased (at 90% off) three decks of cards. They are trivia cards and time based. She got the three years of our birthday. So while we ate, I read the cards for Pam’s birth year and we tried to guess what the answers were. At a juncture of disagreement, I got my computer next to me and found out the dang cards were correct – according to the World Wide Web.

Cheri mentioned (several times) she wasn’t actually around during the year of our eldest sister’s appearance and so shouldn’t be expected to know any of the events. She asked we do her year next.

On the king of hearts was the question, “What is ‘2-inch Quadruplex,’ which is first demonstrated by Ampex at the 1956 NARTB in Chicago?” and Cheri yelled out, “bowling balls.” Pam got so silly picturing a 2-inch bowling ball, she couldn’t even talk. I had to leave the room before I wet my pants/dress. The answer, for trivia buffs anywhere, is “The first successful videotape.” We will play the last set of cards, my birth year, tonight. I’m guessing bowling ball is going to be the answer nearly every time.

We then settled down with Aunt Babe and Pam in the back of the house and Cheri and me in the living room. We were on our computers and the other two were talking and talking in the background. We spent the evening in this relaxing manner. Everyone disappeared into beds and the night slipped away.

Once again, we managed to have a fun day.

Aunt Babe and I were up early in the day and got to spend more of it with our eyes open. Pam left for Jen’s house and we got to spend a leisurely time doing not much of anything. Cheri finally joined us in the doing nothing.

I did work industriously at getting the day before written up and then had not one, but two history pieces to post. In fact, I spent the better part of two hours doing this (obviously not concentrating and working the whole time).

Pam came back to the house with Hannah and Ryan. She had promised she would make them cookies. Ryan’s cookies are made with rice flour while Hannah’s cookies are just regular old-fashioned regular cookies. Both kids were getting chocolate chip cookies.

There was a plan for the rest of the day as well. We didn’t, however, follow it. That turned out to be a rather good thing.

We decided to go to the Chen’s Chinese restaurant but we didn’t fit in one car. Pam, Aunt Babe, and the kids drove over and Cheri and I walked. It’s a dry heat. We didn’t measure the distance, but it might have been a half mile. It certainly wasn’t a full mile. We walked to Baseline, turned right, crossed over Elsworth, and then took the hypotenuse to the restaurant. Going diagonally through the parking lot might have been dangerous in the winter, but in non-tourist season there were very few cars there.

Even though we left first, the car people beat us there, much to Ryan and Hannah’s delight. The entrée of choice came with egg drop soup, a salad, an egg roll, and fried triangle filled with cream cheese (according to the menu, this was a crab angle, but there was no discernable crab in the tasty treat).

Finally, gnomes at Chen's

The driving people left and Cheri and I walked back to the house. Since neither of us was graced with an internal GPS system, we had to argue about the path back home. Cheri wanted to go that way, and I wanted to go this way. I prevailed and my this was the right general direction, but we tried to make more of a hypotenuse than was actually available. We ended up trying to cut through a gas station that was surrounded by a wall. We weren’t scaling walls, to this was not going to work. We had to backtrack a bit. It was probably only 20 feet. But at 111⁰ F, every inch counts.

Very hot intersection

There was a light breeze, but all it did was move the heat around. Instead of being in a regular oven, we were now in a convection oven. The heat surrounding us didn’t seem so bad, but the asphalt we were walking on was very hot. We were trying to find the right speed to walk. I don’t know how much calculating we did, but if you walk too fast it only makes you hotter from exertion but if you don’t walk fast enough, it takes longer to get home.

I forgot my camera. Cheri did have her phone so there are pictures. Cheri said she would get them to me. All I can say here is, “Liar, liar; pants on fire.” I will try to add some photos here later when my sister finally arises and begins the day.

We then had no big plan for the afternoon. Hannah was a bit on the cranky side and she and Nana went to lay down for a bit. Both fell asleep. Cheri wandered off and fell asleep. Aunt Babe rested back on the sofa and fell asleep. Ryan came to me and mentioned we were the only ones awake. This was very true.

Jen called to say there were two different multiple car accidents on two different highways so she was taking the back roads home and would be here 15 minutes late. Didn’t matter, everyone was a sleep. Aunt Babe woke up, Pam joined us, Jen arrived, Cheri came back to the living room – and still Hannah slept.

Jen got to spend some time talking to adults. Not only adults, but adults who love her dearly. It is always fun to have people around who can converse about a wide range of topics. And we did. Hannah woke up and Jen and the kids went home.

Since we had such a large lunch, we foraged for dinner. Cheri ate her take home portion of lunch. I had a well rounded nutritious dinner of Cheetos, cherries, and coffee. Yes, I’m on a c-food diet. Cheri began picking into my bowl of cherries and I gracefully shared.

A couple days ago, when throwing out the cherry pits and stems, I dumped them on the floor, missing the wastebasket. I thought I picked them all up, but apparently they blended in quite well with the small piece of carpet Pam has by the sink. There has been continual annoyance and even some persecution going on here with newly found cherry stems. Apparently they are large enough to actually trip over.

There was only one cherry left and I offered it to my baby sister. She declined, but I insisted and so she took it. She says I had a nasty grin on my face. Perhaps I did because I had a plan. She looked alarmed and asked what was wrong. I explained since she ate the last cherry, she had to throw away the pits and stems. I wasn’t NOT making another mess. She managed to offload the detritus without incident. Show off.

As the sun neared the horizon (or 6.45 PM) we thought it might be fun to go to the pool. The three sisters put on suits while Aunt Babe just walked over with us. Pam and Aunt Babe went to get the mail. Cheri and I got in the hot tub. Once there were the four of us together again, we went to the lower pool because –

The upper pool was the location for a pool party. On our walk over, a car stopped and asked us if we were going to the pool party. There was only two cars at the parking lot, but apparently more people walked over. Cheri was mortified, but we pretended we were all stovie mars and walked with pride around the pool. The water felt great. It was wonderful to be in such cool weather. When we got out of the pool, it was actually cold. I haven’t been cold since I got here.

We sat in the pool chairs and dried off and talked and talked and talked some more. We walked home and Aunt Babe threatened to crop dust and held back. There was a sound similar to a duck call that lasted for at least twenty minutes or so. (Aunt Babe insists I edit here and admit it only lasted for a few seconds, so I am trying to comply.) Cheri said that wasn’t a crop dusting, but an air raid. We giggled so hard we nearly didn’t make it home.

When we got home, we checked the temperature. But it was already much later when we remembered to do this. It was in the high nineties. We were cold in one hundred degree temperatures. Amazing.

We got home and sat around for a while and then I coerced Aunt Babe to play Scattegories with me. Cheri would only consent to play after I suckered Aunt Babe into a game. But it was fun with the three of us playing.

Since we were at the pool, Pam picked up her mail for the first time in weeks. There was quite a bit of it and she went off to read it. There was some sad mail and we all had to cry for a moment and then we got back to our normal laughing evening. We all toddled off to bed.

Another fun day. Only a couple more left – here – this time.

We had a busy day once again. We had plans. We were going places.

This was the day to get Cathy’s car back to her. She was planning on being in Tucson and so we planned on being there, too. South of the city is a mission. Mission San Xavier del Bac, also known as the White Dove of the Desert, was our first stop. The Mission’s website doesn’t have photos up (yet – it is under construction as of this writing) but the website where you can donate to the restoration project has photos of the latest restoration venture. They are here. They are slideshows of the interior and exterior restoration.

Fortunately, I took some photos myself. Who knew?

Mission San Xavier del Bac exterior

Pam and Aunt Babe looking at the east wing

Ceiling above the altar

Father Kino first visited Wa:k in 1692 and laid a foundation for a church here. He died before building anything. Other priests came and first built a church at the mission in 1756. It was hoped that a larger community would grow with the mission but it didn’t. The current church was built between 1783 and 1797. It has survived both an earthquake and a lightning strike.

The gnome at the mission

And if yesterday was any indication, it has survived the baking of the sun for centuries as well. Now, for those people who know me – you know I don’t whine much (just constantly and all the time so if it can be summed up in one word, it can’t be all that much). But I began to whine about the heat. It was hot. I know it was a dry heat, but honestly, when the temperature reaches degrees seen on an oven thermostat, it is what everyone would consider “hot”.

Rumors abound, with the Weather Channel saying it was a mere 112⁰ F. For people who have average temperatures instead of failing temperatures, that’s 44.4⁰ C. The car thermometer said it was 117⁰ F which is 47.2⁰ C. I personally registered temps in the 325 to 350⁰ range. It was hot.

Mark and Cathy met us in the parking lot and we gave Cathy back the keys to her own car, Mark drove off in the car they arrived in and we headed off the San Xavier Reservation, home of the Tohono O’odham people.

We headed toward Tucson and food and drink. The drink was becoming more and more important to me and my fellow passengers in the broiling pan sometimes known as “car”. We found a shopping center and hoped to find food. We found shopping and more shopping. I believe the mall ran on for at least an mile and possible for six or seven. Finally, we spotted a restaurant and arrived safely.

As we sat down, we asked for water. It arrived shortly thereafter and we all sucked down the huge class of ice water. We got refills right away and those disappeared, too. We were at the Red Lobster and Pam, Cheri, and I each got a pasta dish while Aunt Babe got fried shrimp and a baked potato. We were too full for dessert.

The gnomes at Red Lobster

We went from there to the outlet mall in Casa Grande. Pam handed me the Garmin to try to find which exit was the appropriate off ramp. I tried any number of ways to find shopping in Casa Grande. None of them worked quite the way I wanted. It finally dawned on me – I had seen a Liz Claiborne at the mall on the way down. Since Casa Grande Outlets didn’t work, I tried putting in an individual store. (We ended up at the Outlets of Casa Grande – computers are so literal.) That did work and we knew where to turn off. This took the better part of ten minutes because I also kept hitting something to make the GPS restart itself.

It was a nice large mall, not quite as long as the Red Lobster mall. We had seen it on our trip down south before. We pulled in and there were almost no cars. There were a few open businesses at the south end and a few more at the north end. More than half of the stores were empty. There was a Wendy’s there and we were already dry again. The three sisters got huge drinks from there and were trying to get un-poached (love you Heather) but were glad there was ice for us for later consumption, too.

Our first stop was at Kitchen Collection. Cheri had already explained to us about crop dusting. It seems a coworker had offered a way to fart with impunity. Being teachers in a room full of students gives one a bit of cache. The kids don’t believe you are capable of such mundane things as flatulence. So, if you need to let one rip, walk up and down aisles and spread the joy. This technique is called crop dusting.

Aunt Babe was standing in the store holding her nose. Cheri asked her if she was crop dusting. We all laughed so hard, we were crying. We would get calmed down a bit and then burst out laughing some more. It seems Aunt Babe was just trying not to sneeze.

Fortunately, two of the remaining businesses were Izod where things were only $8 each (from the sale rack) and I got four bottoms and one top. I then managed to find two bottoms and one top at Liz.

We got back into the oven car. We headed for home but wanted to stop one more place. We wanted a gnome for Aunt Babe. Pam purchased them long ago at Jo-Ann Fabrics. We found a store and searched and searched. There were no more tiny gnomes left. It was very sad.

We stopped at Jen’s house on the way home to show Aunt Babe all the amazing stuff Jen has been doing. Necessity is the mother of invention. Jen has learned carpentry and plumbing as well as finishing work and is now learning how to put up tiles. It is amazing what one can do when one has to.

We kept sucking up the melting ice and getting re-hydrated. It would be less irritating if I didn’t know better. You should never leave the house in Arizona without having water with you. Really. This is a necessity. We got back to the house with empty cups and I made my second gigantic cup of half-caffeine coffee for the day.

Cheri and Aunt Babe looked at a bunch of pictures of Cheri’s family using Facebook as a picture album. Pam went off to grade papers. Pam’s program wasn’t working well and even when forced to behave, the grading is onerous and time consuming. But she, too, will do what needs to be done.

Cheri and I played a couple games of Scattegories. She won the first game – highly disconcerting. Good thing I’m charming and not too competitive.

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