February 2018


It’s been very busy here. Yesterday was preschool day. It was also parade day, which was supposed to have happened last week, but was postponed due to inclement weather. So this was the big day. We practiced for the event which was to take place when the parents came to pick up the little darlings. This was a new way to parade around and so there was much deliberation and input from various adults in attendance. We decided on procedure and then returned inside.

Then there was some play time while Pam and I worked with the kids on their flag painting extravaganzas. They had painted a flag, their picture was added and what they liked about the Presidents Day Parade event. On the back was a paper with what the flag’s colors symbolized. Pam and I made up what to do with this part and may have chosen poorly. We had the kids drawing circles around the red, white, and blue with red, white, and blue crayons. This was on white paper so we confused the little kids with this middle color.

The big moment arrived and out marched the bedecked munchkins to a crowd of waiting parents armed with cameras and video options. The kids got to their chairs, and the rose to say a poem that led in to the Pledge of Allegiance. They then sang “It’s a Grand Old Flag” while marching and waving their flags and it was all extremely patriotic and totally adorable.

We then packed up and came home but had to stop at the grocery store on the way because the day before it was announced there would be block party today at 4 PM. We looked for recipes and came up with something to make for the party. Almost instant pierogies. We stuff large pasta shells with cheesy mashed potatoes and layered them between sautéed onions before baking. What we really didn’t properly think through was the number of large pans which would need to be used all at once to make this dish.

We managed and got them made and they were delicious. The kitchen was in total disarray, and pans were everywhere, but they were so good, I plan on making them myself when I get home. There were lots of imaginary people at the block party (see picture below) and we had a great time.

We got home and Emery was picked up and taken home. We had enough time to catch our breath before we headed over to the Monte Vista ballroom for the last event of the day. Neon Circus (a Brooks & Dunn cover band) played for 90 minutes. They did a great job and it was a wonderful show. Rain had been forecast all day but kept not happening until it was time to walk back home in the dark. We each had our phones turn into flashlights and walked home in the cold drizzle.

I was pooped from this much activity. I barely even do one thing a day and here was three events all in one day. I went to bed early.

This is my last day here in Arizona. It started with us going to church to make rosaries. We made nine this week. We went to Sprouts so I could get some chocolate raspberry coffee and they didn’t have any. I got a sad but did not pout too much. We are making homemade chicken noodle soup and Jen is bringing the family over so I get a chance to see the kids again, this time without a whole raft of strangers included.

The last load of laundry is in the dryer so I can pack up clean clothes to take home. Tomorrow we drop Emery off at preschool and then drop me off at the airport. I hate the end of sister time.

Pam’s amazingly lifelike imaginary friends

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Back to our regular week. Except it isn’t regular at all since I’m still in Arizona with my sister. I have been loving this time in the frozen land of Arizona, watching the temperatures being mild and wonderful back home. I haven’t yet needed my Capri pants or any short sleeves. I’ve worn my jackets and my cape and been chilly. And when I get home, the cold temps here will have reached the other coast and I will be chilly there, too. I’m saving these thoughts for the next time I visit and it is 117 degrees out there.

We started the day with our euchre group and I was supposed to be the fifth person and not play. Pam and I would switch seats and make it work. But the fourth regular player had family in town and they were visiting other family and she was not there. So I played again. Once again it was Pam and Carol against Cindy and me. They won the first game and then we won the next two. We were supposed to stop there, but we didn’t. We opted for two more games and they won the fourth but then, like a phoenix (did you see what I did there?) rising from the ashes, we won the last one. Cindy likes to win as much as I do. It was fun.

Emery liked the idea of playing a game and wanted to play Left, Right, and Center. As Nanas who forgot the word “no” we were going to play. The game lives in that box. But it wasn’t there. And it wasn’t anywhere else, either. We looked. For a very long time and in every conceivable space. No game. Whiny kid. Lunch time. We ate and then, because Nanas do this we made a special trip to Target to go and buy the third copy of this game. Pam can’t wait to find the other two which are hidden some very odd place in the house.

We played five times with Pam winning once, me twice, and Emery twice. And then slave driver Nana put the kid to work. So that Nana thing doesn’t work all the time. We changed the house over from Valentine’s Day to St. Patrick’s Day. At my house, this means I put away the decorated placemat and put out another one. At this house, it is an all afternoon event and only because there were three of us working.

The outside and inside of the house are all green now instead of the red they were when I arrived. The refrigerator is all full of green Irish magnets, the indoor tree is full of shamrocks, and the outside is now Emerald Isle from top to bottom and front to back. The centerpiece on the dining room table went from hearts to clovers (I don’t think she decorates with diamonds or spaded for some other season, but you never know cuz she really likes playing cards.)

We each had our own little Cornish hen for dinner. We had roasted potatoes and sautéed mushrooms and asparagus to go with it. We looked like barbarians at the gate trying to eat this lovely meal. We were messy which is quite the understatement. It was delicious, but we didn’t exactly win the Miss Manners Award for grace at the table. We laughed a lot.

Pam went for a walk and I stayed back here. When she got home, we got into the Cheesecake Factory desserts. They were both delicious and there is more to come. Mine is white chocolate macadamia nut and Pam’s is Adam’s chocolate peanut butter (I don’t know who Adam is or was). Luckily we can persevere and have more of that stuff today.

After all the decorating, Pam was very tired and went to bed early. And I soon followed. It was another lovely day – and the first time I went outside without a coat or jacket on, but then again, I was working on the home décor.

There was still more to come, but this is when I got the picture taken.

She loved wearing this hat, but it tended to fall off frequently.

She wouldn’t let me take her picture a few days ago. Now, all beautiful smiles.

As a reward for working so hard on Saturday, we decided to not work at all on Sunday. Well, I did and invited Pam to play as well. I suggested that while we were childless, we should go out to eat somewhere and not cook anything at all. We opted for Cheesecake Factory and found they had brunch served until two on the weekend.

Back in South Carolina, my coffee cups are kept filled with hot coffee. That hasn’t been happening here. So I tried to find out if my $3.25 cup of coffee was one six ounce cup of soon to be cold coffee, or if it was like in the good old days when you bought a half pound of coffee grounds and could at least have hot coffee for an entire meal. Giovani assured me, after much struggle with communication, that my coffee would remain hot and refilled throughout the meal.

I got coffee with me Eggs Benedict and it came in a huge cup, piping hot, and was added to a few times during the meal. I’m sure I over consumed but it was good and it was hot and after the communication snafu, it was the least I could do.

Pam selected off the lunch menu for a smaller portion and was barely able to finish. I ate my eggs but couldn’t do much to the potatoes that came with it. So we both got our cheesecake to go. It was, after all, the point of going there. Since it wasn’t hot and Pam had a cooler, we went into the mall next door after stowing the dessert.

Pam had a gift card to See’s Chocolates, the area’s best attempt to approach Suzin L in the chocolate making industry. She spent her gift card, they did not have any caramel nougat Easter eggs available so I bought nothing, and then we looked around a bit before ending up at T J Maxx. I looked at their coffee and there were three bags of my favorite brand of chocolate peanut butter coffee. I bought them all. Along with a shirt on the clearance rack.

We made a quick pit stop at the flea market place. At the Brat Lunch on Saturday, the woman across the table told us about this stick think that brings in local channels clearly on your TV. Pam wanted to try it since it was only $15 and her TV brings in nothing right now and is only a DVD player. It took us longer to find it than it might have, but we got it eventually.

We brought our purchases home and then I sent Pam off to pray and walk and she did, but it was Pam so she met imaginary people and did a lot of talking as well. It took much longer like that, but it worked anyway.

We have talked about calling Cheri several times and then it is too late here to call back there and time gets away from us. When Pam thought of it again, it was shortly after 7 here or just after 9 at home. We decided to call and Cheri said she had fallen asleep in her chair with the TV on and her iPad in her hand and would love to talk to us. So we talked all together for 2.5 hours and then the worker on the East side of the country had to go to bed so she could go to work. I love those FICA people.

We played for a while longer and talked about talking to our baby sister and what we might want to do when we are actually all in the same place again this summer. Then it was time to toddle off to our trundle beds and dream. So we did that.

Cheesecake we brought home. Mine is the chocolate one.

Friday was recovery day. We did nothing and almost didn’t get it finished. If pressed, I could mention we played with Emery and walked to Safeway and got some food (mostly fruit) and then walked around the neighborhood. We played computer games and laughed a lot. We told stories and had a wonderfully relaxing day.

Exhausted from doing nothing, I went to bed early and then woke up late anyway. Saturday was shaping up to be busy. We had talked about sorting Pam’s basket making reed on Friday, thinking we could start with Emery here. But we were so busy doing nothing (Pam spent more than an hour trying to get tickets online from an unfriendly site and then looked at tickets to go see Aunt Babe for longer so she was busy, I wasn’t) and the day simply got away from us.

So Saturday would be the day we sorted reed. Boy did that work out well. This simply would not have worked with a three year old in the house. It nearly took all day – because we kept doing other things in between.

Just unloading all the stuff and bringing it to the living room took a while. We didn’t do any of the colored reed and we could leave the kits alone. So that was at least four and maybe five boxes we didn’t need to touch. The rest came out and it seemed daunting. Such a mish mash mess and we needed to bring order out of chaos. So we started.

We worked for about ninety minutes just getting it sorted into piles by flat, round,, half round, and this one batch of oval stuff that Pam didn’t even know she had. She had purchased the supplies someone had stored for years and they moved, either out or up, I don’t remember which. But Pam bought the lot and brought it home, filling up her house with reed. She had sorted it somewhat to start, but after years of using it, the whole thing was a mess.

But then it was time to go to the Bratwurst lunch. I had a hot dog but Pam had the brat. It came with chips and a pickle and then ice cream for dessert. The ballroom was again filled with old farts coming out of the woodwork … that’s a pun because it was to help the woodworking group from Monte Vista. They had some of their year’s projects up for raffle and we bought tickets for that and put them into bags. I had to select things that would travel back home in the unlikely event of a win. Everything was beautifully crafted so I had plenty of choices.

Brat lunch

Then we came back and started to package up the sorted reed. The goal was to take each different kind and wrap it into a circle and tie it together and have it labeled for future finding. We did the half round first and then it was time to go off to church. So we stopped again, got a bit gussied up, and went to Mass. Just like last week, the walls stood.

We came back home and Pam still needed steps and to pray her rosary – something she does every day. I forced her out of the house while the sun was still shining and it was at least a little warm out there. The reed would be there in the dark and we could finish any time. But if she waited, it would be cold and not as nice outside. So, using my superior logic, I refused to work on reed until she took care of herself.

And as I surmised, the reed was still all over the damn place when she returned. So we finished winding it all up, got it sorted and labeled, and then got it all put away. By being neat and tidy and organized, we had one less box full of crap and instead had only nice boxe of ready to use reed. Then we had to clean up the mess left behind since the whole process was rather untidy.

We made dinner and then played games for a little while and talked and laughed and breathed the same air. I did charge her for my help and while looking at this, I may have undercharged. We worked in three spurts and I only charged her two kisses. I love spending time with my sister. I can’t wait for the time when I get to spend time with TWO sisters.

Yesterday was busy all day long. We did many of the things. First we took Emery to preschool and that was a real treat. We got on the highway right before a sign proclaiming the whole thing was shut down at that intersection up there between where we were and where we needed to be. Pam immediately got off the highway and started taking back roads to get to school. We got there, but it took half again as long as it was supposed to.

We dropped Emery off and went shopping. The Pink Zebra candle bits needed glass jars with lids because that’s the way to store them longer and keep the scents strong. We looked here and there and everywhere until we found the right jars at the right price. That took most of the time Emery was in school. We then returned and spent the remaining time walking around the neighborhood.

We picked up Emery and it was our outing day. By her choice, we were going to the art museum. But we forgot to pack food and so we needed to get lunch on the way. We went to El Pollo Loco. I got chicken, as the name implies with broccoli and macaroni and cheese. Pam hadn’t seen that and ordered rice for Emery who did not approve of the selection. Pam went up to change the order and I sat with the kid.

She did not want any of my food, but then took a bite of mac and cheese. Then she wanted another. And another. Luckily her Nana got back with her own meal before the kid ate my entire serving of mac and cheese. And then she got mischievous. She insisted, while smirking at me, that she only ate one bite of my stuff. And then she would giggle, sure that her Nana would side with her.

We went to the art museum to see the Fireflies. There is an installation that has you walking through a darkened room lit only by dangling multicolored LED lights (similar to Christmas lights, but only one bulb per strand) hanging throughout the room. The maze is made of mirrors and you have to try to find your way through. We did. Five times.

There was a new installation as we walked in. There were 25,000 (that’s really the correct number) black thin construction paper cut out moths and butterflies of 30 different species all swarmed through the entrance. They were stuck on the walls and ceilings individually with Stickytak. The entire display was quite powerful.

We went through most of the museum before we were all too tired and needed to get back home. Emery fell asleep in the car within about 6.7 nanoseconds. We dropped her off at her house and then came home for a short time. We got ourselves fed and watered and then gussied up a bit.

Next up was our trip to Hale Theatre to see No, No Nanette! It was delightful. The acting and singing were tremendous and the voices were chillingly good. The choreography was well done and attended to the theater in the round set up. We had a great time and got back home without incident. There sure are a lot of people out after dark. I have no idea what they were all doing. I’m usually safely tucked in at home before sundown.

We played a bit and then went off to bed, exhausted from having so much fun.

Gned at the theater

Yesterday was Wednesday which means it was rosary making day. Jem brings Emery to Pam’s house each morning and did so yesterday as well. Emery entered the house wearing her bike helmet because she wanted to. While here and waiting to go on to our next event, Emery got out a magician’s wand and then the magic cape.

Decked out in this finery, we were now ready to depart. We packed up snacks, the beads, Emery’s electronics, and took off for church. Emery made her grand entrance and we took our seats. She was a real hit with all the old ladies.

I got to meet more of Pam’s imaginary friends and they all insisted they were solid and real and not pretend at all. We brought four different colors of beads and mixed them this way and that, making seven unique rosaries.

I swear like a sailor on leave in a foreign port. I know all the words and sprinkle them freely throughout my speech. I usually am not sitting a church room while speaking. It was my job to string the beads while Pam made knots. She was in charge of the Our Fathers and the Crosses and I did all the Hail Marys. Pam counted each decade to make sure I had the right amount of ten beads and then added the complementary color and the knots. We were checking each other. I found her mistake the time she didn’t add the Our Father bead. And then I threaded the ten beads and dropped the end and all ten beads plunked to the floor.

In this instance I only got the sshhhhh part out of the word before I stopped myself, knowing where I was. But I believe I should get an attagirl for that. I didn’t mutter the entire word and I didn’t use a stronger one. Go me.

We stopped at Walmart to see if the special little pan I wanted was still there on the clearance rack but it wasn’t. Then we stopped at Costco and picked up a few items we needed from there. Again, showing great restraint, I did not buy the vat of cinnamon honey coated nuts (no peanuts included) even though I really wanted it. I didn’t need the calories and I didn’t have the room in my luggage, so using my good sense which is often ignored, I left it there.

We came home and had lunch and then we went for a walk. Well, the adults walked and Emery rode her tricycle. We went over to Safeway and then went around the neighborhood before coming home. I am apparently the angel of cold and bring it with me wherever I travel (except when I come here in the summer and it would be helpful). I had on both of my jackets and wore my poncho and was still chilly when the wind blew or the sun went behind a cloud. Really?

Emery wore her bike helmet in the house with the magic cape and to the church for rosary making. She wore her helmet in the car and we convinced her to remove it for shopping, but it wasn’t her own choice. When it came time to ride her bike, she opted for no helmet. Just saying, kids are weird.

We came home and played games and eventually Jen came back for Emery. And then we just lazed around the house and enjoyed being together while playing. I got Pam started on Wordscapes and she got me started on a Picross game she likes. So we are sharing nicely.

For a day in which we did next to nothing, we both ended up really tired and went to bed early. Still, I love being here and playing with my big sister. I’ve always liked that but she still doesn’t really let me boss her around. Just like when we were kids.

Rosary friends

We began our day at preschool. I thought I was only going to have one job, so I studied for it the evening before. I was to sort the crayons so each container had all the colors and only one of each of the colors. I studied hard and thought it would work for me. Of course, there were issues, the main one being I was missing one of the containers. I eventually was able to complete my task.

I was introduced to the children and pointed out on a map how far away I lived. We told them I was here on a mission to prove Ms Pam did indeed have real friends and they weren’t all imaginary beings. I did the ET finger touch with each kid and wouldn’t you know, they were all solid and real and giggling.

The kids are three or four years old. This is not really my best time. I do better with older, more literate students. My next job was to help them complete their headwear for the parade they are having next week (which was postponed due to cold weather) for Presidents’ Day. Their pictures were already on a band of paper and we had to add four stars, two on each side of the picture.

My job was to handle the glue and make sure four stars, two each side, were added without them overlapping the pictures or being too close to the edge making gluing them into a circle an issue. I only knew Emery. So we started with her. I then sent her to fetch me the next kid and come back with said kid and then on to the next table where Pam was working with the kids to get the Pledge of Allegiance under control.

This was much harder than one might imagine. Most of the kids had no problem counting out the four stars or placing them in the right place. Fetching the next kid and coming back with said kid was just too much. I kept losing the damn kids. They disappeared on me and then I couldn’t send them and their completed headdress over to my sister. I tried every way I could think of to issue my directions but those kids acted just like three or four year olds and it was so much more difficult than with say, adults.

We did manage to get all the headdresses made, everyone got to practice the Pledge, and we should be ready for the parade if the weather will cooperate. I know that my years in adult education were the place for my happy butt to be. Little kids are amazing and they want to learn and interact and yet, they are like Brownian motion and wholly undirectable.

We came back home and had lunch and then Emery wanted to play puppets. She had a bag of hand puppets and we played. I have no idea, even now, what the rules were. I did it wrong many times but would occasionally redeem myself and get something right.

I found an ABC app and downloaded that thing and Emery is amazingly good at the match game. I don’t know how little minds do that, but she managed with a screen of up to 12 cards to flip. Once we got her busy with that, we started to nail polish string.

Pam makes rosaries with a group of people each Wednesday. This was in preparation for that event. My job was to cut the wax coated string into a certain length and then Pam dipped the ends in nail polish making them into a sort of shoelace which would make threading the beads easier. Being lazy, I found the best way to manage the strings. Pam was working on looping the painted strings to dry. This was the trickiest part but we managed and made close to 70 strings for future rosaries.

Later, we needed to put a knot towards one end and them loop them into manageable shape for storing and transport. This also took longer than one might imagine mostly because there were about 70 of them. On the plus side, Pam’s ready for Wednesdays for months to come.

All in all, it was a very productive day.

Dinner at Chez Pam

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