More Family

This morning’s jaunt to the diner was a fun outing for nine of us. Walter and me, Lina, Flynn, Mercy, Jasper, my brother Jon and his wife Sheryl, and my dad. Mary and Jordan are so tired from packing they took the opportunity to sleep in.

Afterward, Walter and I went shopping for a calligraphy pen or marker and did not succeed in finding one. My dad had asked me to letter the front of the guest book for the service and I really wish I had known in time to bring my own supplies with me.

Meanwhile, we followed Spencer and Jade’s progress as they drove from Texas to join us. My other two brothers were also on the way, from Indiana and Ohio.

This afternoon Lina and I went to the yarn store near here. Normally when I am here I am working all the time, and although I’ve wanted to go to the yarn store, I haven’t had the time. So it was fun to go with my daughter. I found some ridiculously soft cotton yarn that I think I will make into a capelet to keep my shoulders warm in air-conditioned rooms.

Originally we had planned to meet in a restaurant tonight, but enough people were uncomfortable with that plan that we changed it to an outdoor picnic. Everyone brought the food of their choice and we met in a picnic area near where we are staying. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect: sunny, warm and breezy.

We were a congenial family group. My dad, his sister Lori, me and my three brothers (and three of the four spouses), six of my seven children plus Jordan and Jade, and my nieces Riley and Nicole, with Nicole’s husband also. My brother Matt’s wife and other daughter stayed at the hotel as they were not feeling well, but they should be with us tomorrow.

Once everyone had arrived and had their supper, my dad went over the plans for tomorrow’s services so we all know what is going on. It will be a long day, but I think a good time of fellowship and healing.

Not in Jail

In fear and trembling I called the county clerk’s office this morning and admitted my own stupidity. The lady I talked to was kind and sympathetic. She said not to worry. They don’t even bother rescheduling for grand jury duty. And she offered condolences for the loss of my mom. What a relief! I won’t be spending any time in the poky . . . .

I had to pick up a few things for our trip today, and since I had to go to the north side of town anyway, I zipped up to the yarn store since this is sale month and I wanted a mesh yarn holder that I am not willing to pay full price for. I called first to make sure they were open, because in these strange times you never know!

It turns out there is no more “they.” Only one of the serene sisters is still at the helm. The older sister suffered an injury due to a fall and moved farther away to live with her son, thus forcing her to retire. After going to that shop for over 30 years, it’s a little sad to see that happen. I kind of wanted them both to just go on forever!

One of the things that I also picked up on this excursion was something I’ve been contemplating for some time, and that is (are you ready for this?) some CBD oil from the health food store. I live with pain every day of my life, and for the most part it’s manageable, but on trips where I am in the car with my knees bent for many hours at a time, it becomes really difficult to tolerate the pain in my knees and back. My husband also has knee issues when driving for even an hour or two. So many friends have had helpful results with CBD oil that I am willing to try it. I’ll let you know if I feel it’s helpful!

Because, yeah, we leave for Tennessee tomorrow. There’s been a fair amount of drama leading up to this trip, including my brother and sister-in-law in Hawaii having to be tested for Covid-19 (negative!), but I think we are finally going to have my mother’s memorial service this coming Saturday.

Parting shot:

One of my okra blossoms. I think okra is so beautiful.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

This morning I was up “early” to shower and then hang out with whomever was around while my hair was drying. Our classmate Joy and her husband John had volunteered to make sweet potato crepes for everyone, and our eleventh-grade English teacher, who is also here, had brought some quiches to heat and share.

Although I wasn’t eating, I enjoyed just being with everyone and enjoying the various conversations. No one was in a hurry to rush off and do anything, so after breakfast we sat around and visited in the big living room until it was time to say goodbye to James and Ruth, who had to leave after grabbing a quick lunch. I was sorry to see them go as I had greatly enjoyed talking to both of them.

After everyone else had lunch, Tamra and I agreed that we would go for a walk after she had time for a quick nap. Meanwhile, Joy and John responded to my plea for a ride to the local yarn store, and volunteered to take me there since they had an errand to run anyway. By then it was raining steadily.

The yarn store had a surprisingly good selection:

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I dithered for quite a while over my souvenir yarn selection. I finally chose a grey bulky weight wool/cotton blend that I hope will make a warm cowl. In case I ever find myself back in the north in winter . . .

We got back to the house just a few minutes later than I had agreed to go for a walk with Tamra—but it was still raining and neither of us could work up any enthusiasm for getting wet. So we stayed in the house and I at least had a couple cups of tea.

Almost imperceptibly, the rain turned to snow and then it was snowing huge heavy wet flakes that were so beautiful to watch. I put on my fabulous new boots, a hat and jacket, and walked out into what appeared to be an animated Christmas card. I had no destination—I just wanted to revel in the falling snow and take a few photos.

After walking down the road a piece, I turned around to retrace my footsteps.

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It was pretty easy to do under the circumstances.

As I walked back to the house, Patti and Beth were waiting for me in the driveway, wanting to know if I was interested in going on a walk in the nearby park. So we piled into a pickup truck with Patti’s husband Jeff and Ken (Julie’s husband) and drove through town to the park.

By now the sun had set and we found ourselves walking through a spectacular snowy and magical woodland, complete with glowing lanterns and even a dragon’s head snow sculpture.

Forty-two years ago, who would have guessed that this far in the future I’d be enjoying a beautiful walk with two of my high school classmates, in the snow in Washington state?

As the twilight deepened, we drove back to the house so we could participate in a video call to another absent classmate while Julie put the finishing touches on the chili and cornbread for dinner.

After dinner we all stayed at the table, knowing it was our last evening together, and we went around the table and listened as each member spoke about his or her future plans. There was a break to chat with Paula, another friend who was unable to come, and it was so good to see her face and hear her voice. Her parents and mine were good friends in Zambia days.

We stayed downstairs talking for a long time before finally ascending to clean up the kitchen and say some goodbyes. Quite a few people again went out to the hot tub. The snow had stopped falling but there was a beautiful fresh layer of it on the ground everywhere.

As usual, the reunion seemed a little too short. Some people will be gone before I even get up in the morning, and the rest of us will all have to leave before 11:00. I will be driving back to Spokane to spend the night with Julie and Ken again before flying home to Texas on Friday.

Parting Shot:

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In the park this evening.

A Family Outing

There was no big hurry to get going this morning, although I was up at 7:30 in order to make sure that anyone who wanted breakfast would get food, and that my bone broth had not boiled down too far overnight. It smelled heavenly! Mary and Mercy went to meet up with a friend. Others played a table game. Spencer and Jade had other plans for the day so there were just nine of us.

Meanwhile, even though it was Black Friday, a day I prefer to stay at home, I went to Aldi to do the grocery shopping after snagging a couple of Black Friday deals online. It wasn’t crowded at all. Maybe everyone was out shopping Black Friday deals at other stores.

After I got back from the store we ate lunch and then set off on our outing. We piled into three different cars and drove down to Nacogdoches so Lina could show everyone her apartment and the school where she teaches. We all enjoyed seeing Lina’s cozy little apartment and saying hello to Neko, our former cat who now lives with Lina. I think he was a little startled to find so many people in his space!

From there we drove on to Regents Academy, the classical Christian school where Lina teaches. She gave us a tour and we got to see her classroom and the projects her students are working on.

I had hoped to get a chance to see Lina’s local yarn store, but it closed right as we arrived, so we went to a coffee shop where all the kids got coffee before we headed back home (it’s a little over an hour’s drive).

Nobody objected to having Thanksgiving leftovers for supper. Lina is actually quite sick with a severe respiratory infection, and we are all hoping she doesn’t share it. I think I’ll be going to Walmart tomorrow to stock up on Vitamin C!

More game playing finished out the evening. Tomorrow we’re hoping Spencer and Jade will make it over for at least part of the day.

Parting Shot:

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Lina in the doorway of her classroom.

A Busy Day

Today was the first time in a month I was able to do my regular grocery shopping at my regular time on Friday morning. It will be another month before I can do it again, but it was nice to get it out of the way this morning. Meanwhile, my husband was getting a lot of yard work done.

As soon as we got the groceries put away, Lina and I headed up to the yarn store. We always go in January and July, because those two months everything in the store is on sale for 20% off. And I actually wanted to look for yarn because I thought I was getting some on Ebay and was outbid at the last moment!

When we returned home, I had two chickens to cook and pick for a meal I’ll be making in the future. I just like to have that job done ahead of time as it is my least favorite part of any chicken recipe. And I enjoyed a phone call with a dear friend.

I also indulged myself be doing quite a bit of knitting on my new project, and then I made pizza. Once again I have neglected my sourdough starter and had to revive it before I could make the dough for the crust. I need to start scheduling sourdough recipes on a regular basis. It’s hard to remember to do it when you live a grain-free lifestyle and don’t really think in terms of bread anymore. Maybe I’ll make crumpets tomorrow if anyone wants them . . .

Walter and Jasper did their yard jobs today because one of their clients is hosting an event tomorrow. It was very hot but they got done quickly because the grass was dry.

Lina spent the afternoon with a friend before joining us for supper. Afterward we had a family movie night and I worked on both of my current knitting projects. (Actually there is a third project that’s languishing because the others are more urgent.) Sometimes I wonder if I’d bother to watch videos at all if I wasn’t able to knit at the same time!

Parting Shot:

Jasper’s been working outdoors for about a month now. Can you tell which arm is his and which is mine?

A Mystery Solved

Yesterday I failed to tell you of the day’s thrilling discovery. Over the Christmas holidays, I found myself faced with a vexing mystery. For weeks, I had been buying large quantities of German goodies at Aldi, so as to have plenty to share with my family during the time when most of them were here. Some of my offspring particularly look forward to the tiny cinnamon stars that are a traditional treat in Germany, so I made sure to buy some.

However, when the time came for me to triumphantly produce my cinnamon star stash, it was nowhere to be found. I scoured all my food storage locations, to no avail. I began to think that I was going mad. Had I just dreamed buying all those things?

It’s not like we were in any danger of running out of German goodies. We still had marzipan and stöllen and pfefferneuse and lebkuchen. But the absence of the stars really rankled, because I was so sure I had bought some.

Yesterday, I was busy making a cake for Spencer’s girlfriend Jade, whose birthday is today. He was planning a trip to Waco to see her, and since her own mother is disabled, I wanted to make sure she had a cake. I finished the cake, and then needed to find a container for Spencer to transport it in, because it was in a foil pan that didn’t have a lid.

Every container I tried was too small in at least one direction. After trying several options, my eye fell on a picnic basket that I keep in a cupboard in the “schoolroom.” It looked like it might be the right size, so I pulled it out and opened the lid. It was filled to the brim with German Christmas goodies, and the packages of long-lost cinnamon stars were right on top! And just when my family thought they had more or less demolished all the German goodness . . .

Nobody knows how all that stuff ended up in the picnic basket. Nobody has any recollection of putting it there. Certainly not me.

I ended up having to go out and buy a container to transport the cake in. It arrived safely.

Today has been an ongoing attempt to catch up on so many things, with varying success. I worked on some music this morning. I am in panic mode as I finally have an autoharp lesson next week and I planned to have a playlist ready for my teacher to critique. I finally have all the chords for it and played through it this morning. To my relief it takes about half an hour to play, which is what I hoped for.

Then Lina and I made an excursion to the yarn store for the final time before the sale ends. I didn’t buy any yarn, because I’ve got a pretty good stash, but I found some accessories and a pattern book that I really like.

And speaking of the pattern book, I had a bit of a moment there. Traditionally, I haven’t paid much attention to knitting pattern books, because most of them do not include extended sizes in their patterns. The only patterns available to me were those specifically for “plus size” ladies. Today, as I started idly flipping through this book of patterns, I realized that I could pick any I wanted. They all come in my new, smaller size. Huh. Still getting used to that.

We also stopped at a health food store so I could pick up a few items, and then returned home. Most of the rest of the day has been spent reading for school, doing class preparation, doing laundry, and cooking. I made a nice dinner because my poor husband spent all day working on a vehicle and it was very frustrating and difficult work.

Tomorrow is shaping up to be very busy and stressful and I hope I manage to do everything that I need to do.

Done!

FINALLY I have been able to move my sewing machine out of the dining room. The blanket is done! I did a lot of work on it today, and the binding didn’t meet my standards, but hey—sewing binding on something very large and heavy is quite a challenge and I figure it won’t affect the performance of the blanket, right?

This morning I anxiously called the yarn store and this time I received an answer. Turns out the reason it was closed last week was that both of the sweet sisters were in the hospital! The older one is still in rehab after a nasty fall, but Lina and I hightailed it up there to commiserate with the younger sister and check out the sale. Neither one of us left empty handed.

I want to share some brilliant technology with you. If you sew, you’re going to love it. For the last couple of years, I have had difficulties threading the needle of my sewing machine due to my “mature” eyesight. It is hard for me to even see the eye of the needle.

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When I started working on this big project, during which I’d have to thread my machine multiple times, I was desperate to find something that would make the job easier. My machine actually has a needle-threading doohickey, but using it requires having three hands, and I only have two, so I virtually never bother with it. However, I hit on a solution which works very well with the number of hands I already have. It’s a little piece of white paper that I cut from a 3×5 card. I hold it behind the needle thusly:

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See how much easier it is to see the eye? I haven’t had any problem threading that needle since I started using this marvelous invention!

The blanket was so difficult to handle because of its weight, that when it was finished I couldn’t resist weighing it. Since it is too large to just put on the scale by itself, I weighed myself first (no longer a scary ordeal) and then had my husband drape the blanket over my shoulders so I could weigh myself again. I staggered into the bathroom and stepped on the scale, made a note of the number, and staggered back out to the dining room to get that heavy burden off me.

I sat down to do the math and discovered that the blanket weighs 36 pounds. It felt like a hundred! (Most weighted blankets are not that heavy. If Lucy was a foot shorter, as many women are, this blanket would be much too heavy.) But here’s my point. As I dragged myself to and from the scale with that heavy blanket on me, I struggled to walk. Yet two years ago, I carried around more than three times that much weight on my body all the time. No wonder I feel so much better now. It was a sobering moment. It helped me to realize how far I’ve come—and why I never want to go back.

In other news, my family undecorated and took down the Christmas tree while I finished up my sewing project. Now my chair is back in the corner where it belongs! Maybe tomorrow I can tackle my teacup tree . . .

Parting Shot:

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The finished (and very heavy) blanket.

Drying Out

The rain finally ended! Today was my grocery-shopping day. It was somewhat easier since I don’t have quite so many to shop for or any big holiday dinners coming up.

Mercy and Daniel came for lunch and I had a nice chat on the phone with my mom. She and my dad are currently vacationing in Williamsburg, Virginia, thanks to the kindness of some friends.

This afternoon Lina and I planned to go to the yarn store—the one I sometimes call the Realm of Perpetual Bliss and Serenity. They always have a sale for the months of January and July, so those are the two months I am most likely to go. Well, we got up there and the store was closed. More alarmingly, the sale banner was not hanging up in the window. Now I am worried about the serene sisters. Are they okay? We will have to call Tuesday (they are closed Mondays) and see if we can find out what’s going on.

After that disappointment, we stopped at Walmart for a few supplies and headed on home. I made a big pot of spaghetti sauce so the family could have spaghetti for supper while I headed to the gym and went walking. I am experiencing some physical issues which make walking rather less enjoyable at the moment, but I got through it and even survived the music the basketball team was playing.

The Monster Wedding Post

So, you don’t have to read this if you’re not really interested—but this blog serves as a family record, so I’m going to go into all the gory details of Friday and Saturday.

Friday was “crunch day” for me, the day in which everything had to be done because there was no option for putting anything off. On Thursday night I had filled and crumb-coated the bottom tier of the cake well after midnight. Friday morning I got the second layer of icing on that bottom tier before having to switch my attention to the rehearsal dinner.

Tiffany’s mom had loaned me a couple of slow cookers and big pots, which was great, because the Airbnb just had one slow cooker. Flynn had brought me his roaster oven to use also. Because of the volume of food I was making, I had to do things a little differently than I normally do. I started the meatballs in one slow cooker (this was the “alternate” entrée for those who didn’t want to try the spicier West African food). I used Flynn’s roaster to make the West African groundnut stew (Flynn’s favorite meal). His roaster is smaller than mine and I wasn’t able to make as much as I had planned, but that is fine—there was more than enough!

I had a little meltdown in the middle of the day because I was so busy and nobody else was. Some went out to socialize, and others to a nice restaurant for lunch, while I just kept working. I knew before we went that I was going there to work, and everyone else was going to party, but it still was hard to deal with on that final very busy day. All the cozy family time I had hoped for never happened.

By early afternoon the meatballs were done so I made the sauce in a big pot on the stove. Then I split the meatballs between two slow cookers and poured the sauce over them, giving me two six-quart pots of meatballs. The groundnut stew had to be stirred almost constantly because the roaster heats from the sides and if you don’t stir, the sides will burn. (It is, after all, designed to roast rather than to cook.)

When Walter and Lina returned from lunch, they did offer to help and Lina did a great job of chopping veggies and fruit for the toppings that I hadn’t already done. Meanwhile, I made the rice in the biggest pot I had—three gallons. By the time I had put all the rice and water in the pot, it was almost completely full. A few minutes later, it was more than full.


It was like watching areally slow popcorn explosion. So much rice!

In the middle of the afternoon there was a brief lull and it wasn’t really enough time to get back to the cake, so Lina and I went to a nearby yarn store I had noticed on my many trips to Walmart. We are big believers in buying “souvenir” yarn when we are on trips. I did find some very nice yarn that I can use to make myself a lightweight shawl. Now that I get cold so easily, I like the idea of a light wrap that I can use when I get cold in air-conditioned rooms.

Then it was right back to the house to finish up the cooking. The schedule was a little tricky. We had the room for the rehearsal dinner from 5:00-10:00, so we had to get the food there at 5:00, set it up, then go to the church for the rehearsal, then go back to the hotel for the actual dinner. I was so glad that most of the food was in electric devices that would keep it warm. The massive pot of rice I just wrapped in a towel and hoped for the best.

The rehearsal was very straightforward and went well. Afterward, the wedding party and Tiffany’s family wanted to stay and finish decorating the church, so we went back to the hotel where we were having the rehearsal dinner to finish setting up and wait. And wait. And wait. I was glad to have a little extra time, because I had the heat setting on the stew too low and I needed a few minutes to turn it up and reheat it. It had to be stirred constantly!

So instead of having dinner at 7:00, as planned, we ended up having it after 8:30, when everyone finally arrived. By then people were very, very hungry! Remember the rice had been off the heat since 4:30 in the afternoon—I was afraid it wouldn’t be warm enough at all, but apparently it was still warm enough to be acceptable. The food was a big hit, even with the ten-month-old baby who didn’t seem to mind the spiciness at all.

My primary concern with the lateness of the dinner was that I knew I still had at least two hours of work left to do on the cake when we returned to the Airbnb. And we had to figure out a way to transport 48 cupcakes safely to the hotel where the reception would be held.

So when we finally made it back to the house, my husband and Lina went to Walmart in search of suitable cupcake containers that would not be too expensive, while I put away all the leftover food. Then Flynn and Tiffany came over for a few minutes so we could give them some Christmas gifts. Flynn had been strictly warned to have Tiffany home before midnight so he wouldn’t see her on the morning of the wedding!

After they left, at last I could make more icing and get to work on the cake.

In a situation like that, I have to be very focused because there is no backup plan and no putting anything off. Others went to bed but I could not even think about it until everything was ready for the next morning. I finished icing and decorating and assembling the cake. I packed all those cupcakes so they’d be ready to transport.

For the second night in a row, I got to bed after 2:00 a.m. When my alarm went off at 5:30, I popped right up and went to take my shower. We had to have the cake at the hotel no later than 7:30 because we were scheduled for photos at the church at 8:00.

Anytime I make a wedding cake, the most stressful part by far is transporting it and setting it up at the reception venue. If something goes horribly wrong at that point, I’m hosed, right? So we drove very slowly and carefully to the hotel. Fortunately, since the reception was at a (very nice) hotel, we could commandeer a luggage cart to get the cake through the lobby and up the elevator to the reception room.

Then came the tricky process of reassembling the cake on the cake table and setting all the cup cakes up on the stands I had for them. Nothing broke and nothing fell off! No caramel filling tried to escape! Whew!

The color is a little weird in this photo. The dark color is red! Flynn chose the figurines for the top.

Lina had come with us to help set up the cake, so we dropped her off at the church before returning to the Airbnb, because otherwise we wouldn’t have enough vehicle space for everyone. We rushed back to the house and struggled into our wedding clothes. I had done my minimal makeup after my shower, so at least I didn’t have that to worry about. I wear makeup so rarely that it seems like a big production to me when I do wear it.

My dress was very plain, but I like to think it was kind of classy. Tiffany had requested that I wear gray to match her mom, so I had a grey velvet dress. I had to have it custom made because of my height. I sent all the requested measurements, but the dress was still quite snug. And although she got the overall length perfect, the dress ended up being high waisted on me, so the belt that came with it was useless. The good news was that it still worked as a high-waisted dress!

Once we arrived at the church, we had to wait for Flynn to arrive. All the Burklin family photos were being taken before the wedding, except the ones that would have Tiffany in them. Oh, and did I mention that my crazy-talented daughter Mary was the photographer? She had a tripod and could remote-trigger the photos that had her in them. She looked so glamorous and she was so professional with all the photography. (She is a professional photographer in real life, among many other things.)

After the photos, I went back to the bridal room to store some of my things and to get my corsage, which went on my wrist. It was very pretty!

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Of course, I also got a preview of Tiffany in her beautiful dress!

The wedding itself went very well. Spencer livestreamed it, and if you have a Facebook account you can watch it here:

It was very heartfelt and sweet. I was so, so happy for my son. He had to wait a long time to find the right girl! She walked down the aisle to “Wild Mountain Thyme,” a favorite of mine, and the recessional was a peppy number I had never heard before, which they had listened to early in their relationship. They had part of the ceremony where Flynn and Tiffany shared communion together and could talk to each other privately while doing so.

After the wedding there were more photos, this time with the bride, and then we were sent off to join the other guests at the reception while Tiffany’s family had their photos taken.

The reception was in a  long, narrow room on the second floor of the hotel. One whole wall was mirrors and the other long wall was windows looking out on a majestic panorama of the Rocky Mountains. A sandwich buffet was set up in the foyer, and to my delight they also had salad and even the means for making hot tea.

When the wedding party finally arrived, the bride’s brother took over his DJ duties, and immediately announced the father-daughter dance, followed right away by Flynn and Tiffany’s first dance. Now Flynn is not a dancer. It’s not his thing. But that was the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. The song they danced to was Elvis Presley’s “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You,” and Flynn was singing it to Tiffany as they danced. I tear up just thinking about it.

The dance floor was at the opposite end of the room from where we were sitting, so I spent some time down there watching. One highlight was the joyful, exuberant dance-off between Tiffany and her little brother. So much joy!

Toasts were given to the couple, including one by my husband and a hilarious one by Flynn’s best man, Shane. Somewhat to my disappointment, the cake cutting did not occur until later, when many guests had already left. After working so hard on that cake, I was hoping more of it would get eaten! The hotel rules were very strict about the cake.Although we provided it, their employees had to cut and serve it (after the ceremonial cutting by the bride and groom).

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This didn’t bother me at all. The hotel employees had actually been trained to cut a wedding cake correctly and they did a professional job of it. I was complimented on the cake by a couple of different hotel people, which was lovely because it was a swanky hotel and I’m sure they see some pretty fancy cakes. Several people also made a point of telling me how good the cake tasted, which is an affirmation I really needed now that I can no longer taste it myself! The really important thing was that Flynn and Tiffany liked it!

I have to admit, by the middle of the afternoon, I was quite tired after my two very late nights. Lucy had been sick all week and was downright miserable, but I couldn’t see any way to help her other than to suggest that she get some rest in the car. There’s no way the groom’s family could leave before the groom!

When it was time for Flynn and Tiffany to leave, we all went downstairs to the lavishly-decorated hotel lobby. We were each given an oversized plastic candy cane adorned with jingle bells and a poinsettia. The plan was to create an arch with the candy canes, through which Flynn and Tiffany would exit, while we all jingled our bells.

It all went off without a hitch. Flynn and Tiffany exited through the arch of well-wishers, Mary got some great photos, and then the bride and groom were outside—but their car wasn’t. Flynn had apparently neglected to ask the valet service to bring his car up to the entrance.

So they came back in and were sent back to the beginning of the line, waiting to do the exit again once their car arrived. Meanwhile, we were all just standing there waiting in our two long rows. Anyone coming into the front entrance of the hotel would have to run that gauntlet.

The first ones to come in were a young couple returning from walking their two gorgeous golden retrievers. We all sprang into action, cheering and waving our candy canes. The dogs loved it! I think the couple was a little bewildered. Someone told them, “We love dogs!” They were pretty good sports about it. More and more people came in or out, and all got the celebrity treatment. We had to wait a long time for the car! I went back and hugged Flynn and Tiffany goodbye since we had so much time.

Finally, Flynn’s hail-damaged car was driven up and they could do another exit. Mary had to follow them because their first stop after the hotel was the coffee shop where they had their first date and where Flynn later proposed. Mary had set it up to shoot some photos with them there before they left town.

Meanwhile, the rest of us just had to get our stuff and leave the hotel staff to clean up. They had boxed up the leftover cake and washed the separator plate and pillars for me. I sent the cake home with Tiffany’s family and we took the cupcakes back to the Airbnb,where we were all anxious to change into comfortable clothes and get some rest.

At suppertime, Mercy and Daniel and Mary and Jordan came over and we all enjoyed rehearsal dinner leftovers. It was crowded but I was just so happy to have everyone together.While everyone was there, we realized that we had some things to return. I had a couple of pots to return to Tiffany’s mom, and we had a roaster and an air mattress to return to Flynn, who of course had left town by then. And we needed Mercy and Daniel to bring some stuff back for us since we would have an extra person on the return trip. We eventually worked it all out.

We went to bed at a reasonable hour that night, and I even was able to sleep for a while. But by 5:00 a.m., I was awake with a monster headache and I knew from bitter experience that I wouldn’t fall asleep again at that altitude. So I went ahead and got up and continued packing and cleaning up everything in the kitchen (my suitcase was already packed). The respiratory infection that had been stalking me all week finally hit in full force, and I also was nauseated from the pain of the headache.

Walter woke up half an hour after I did, so he got up and helped with the packing. We had planned to get up at 6:00 and leave at 8:00, but thanks to our insomnia we got everything done and managed to leave the house at 7:30. Lina rode with Spencer in his car and the rest of us were crammed into a very full Toyota Camry!

We were almost an hour down the road when I asked my husband if he had remembered to start the dishwasher. He hadn’t known to do it, and I had forgotten to check. I hate to leave something undone, especially when it is specified in the house rules! So I frantically texted Mercy and Mary about it. Mary was able to get over there and start the dishwasher before the door code expired at 10:00. Whew!

It was a long, long day on the road. I really hate doing that trip in one day, and I hate it so much more when I am really sick and in a great deal of pain. Despite taking plenty of meds, my headache did not diminish. By suppertime, most of the rest of me hurt too! We met up with Spencer and Lina for supper at a Whataburger on the outskirts of Wichita Falls.

We pulled into our own driveway at about 11:30 last night, to find that the roofers had not finished doing our roof after all. There was a trailer full of roofing shingles in the driveway. Lina and Spencer had beat us by half an hour, and Spencer had already unloaded and departed.

Today I did not set an alarm. I got my first good night’s sleep in over a week, despite my cold. I took it easy all day. I cut Lina’s hair, went to the bank, and picked up a few food items at Walmart. I treated myself to a nice long nap. And I enjoyed cooking supper in my own kitchen, where I know what I have and where it all is!And of course, I worked on writing this post.

Now all I have to do is switch into “Christmas” mode and try to get everything done in the next week!

New Specs, Cooler Temps

Last night was rough. I lay awake perspiring for much of the night. The temperature in the house finally became bearable about the time the alarm went off this morning.

So we were all relieved when the air conditioning guy showed up later in the morning. There was nothing “wrong” with our air conditioner other than the fact that the coils were very dirty and the machine itself is over twenty years old. He explained that these older units were not designed to deal with temperatures in excess of about 95 degrees. He also told us the expected life of an air conditioner is ten to twelve years—so we are living on borrowed time.

We had a “cold front” move through today so the high was only 96 degrees! Finally the air conditioner caught up and the house is now much more comfortable.

After lunch, Lina and I headed up to the yarn store, the one I sometimes call The Realm of Perpetual Bliss and Serenity. Both of the serene sisters were there and happy to see Lina. When I was talking to Frances, the older sister, one thing led to another and I ended up telling her a little about my health and weight loss journey. She was very interested as both of her sons are diabetic.

It so happened that another customer overheard the entire conversation and she approached me soon afterward to ask me some more about it, because she also has a relative who is diabetic and overweight. She was so excited to talk to someone who has made so much progress and I suggested some helpful resources to her. You just never know what will happen at the yarn store!

On the way home from the yarn store we stopped at Sam’s to get my new glasses, which came in several days early. I was resigned to not having them in time for the wedding. They fit well and are definitely an improvement over my old pair. Nobody in the family noticed that I had new glasses, so I guess that means I succeeded in my goal of getting something similar to what I had before!

Daniel’s family arrived this evening right as I returned from my Walmart walking. They are staying on campus and will be helping with the preparations over the next few days.

I also spent hours and hours today working on a sign that will soon be painted over. I am almost done.