Monday, December 02, 2002

Lame how lax I've been with the blog, and writing in general as of late. No creative writing since last Wednesday. But we all need to take a holiday from all that sometimes.

Esther got upset when she heard her grandmother's funeral wouldn't be held until a month after her death. But such a late funeral has given Esther a chance to find out more about her grandmother. Last night at the Larson's she looked through old photographs from Grandma's wedding, her high school yearbook. Esther learned Grandma's nickname was "Patches," and that she was fast runner, a good ice skater, and outgoing and determined. Grandma "willed" her determination "to the flowers, because I wouldn't want to burden anybody else with it." What a prescient phrase, because Grandma's particular nature is something she battled her whole life. One of Esther's less-than-pleasant memories is spending hours with Grandma learning how to spoon soup properly.

Thursday, Thanksgiving, typical, but wonderful. I ate too much, got a tummy ache. Aunt Margaret and Uncle Jim's. Only cousins to show were the McMillans, Margaret and Jim's kids. Brother Mike showed too. Small gathering. Jimmy's stepkids Crystal and Heather the youth element. Also Uncle Burt and Aunt Nancy and Aunt Althea. Took a windy cold red faced dusk walk. Mom and Margaret kept a quick pace through the neighborhood. We stayed late, past 11, and Mike, Esther and I dozed on the couch, lulled to slumber by conversation of parents, aunts, uncle. Phrase of the day, which cousin Jeff and Aunt Margaret read out loud many times: eye yam sofa king we todd did. Just about bust a gut laughing at cousin Joe's word play creation. He works as a prison guard.

Friday at the Larson's. Trent and Beth's baby Emily the star attraction. Usual Larson feast. I made the best turkey gravy I've ever made, using corn starch AND flour. Added fresh ground pepper and salt. Emily is a very animated and talkative baby. She is slowly warming to Esther and I, even though she did not let me hold her. She smiled when I played peek a boo and said my name as we were introduced. Later in the evening had dinner at my parent's and saw my brother Bob, who is in town to help his brother-in-law with house repairs. Bob looks good. Too bad about punk niece Cathy. And Candy, at 21, can hardly be out of her mother's sight. Neither have high school diplomas, jobs, or live away from home. But they are healthy and, hopefully, loved. I have not seen Cathy or Beth in almost two years and Candy since my chance encounter with her at the Phantom Regiment show in July.

Saturday drove down to Springfield and met with trail friend Odin, a.k.a. Keith Leffler. Highlights of day include a tour of the state capitol building and the Frank Lloyd Wright Dana-Thomas home. Ran out of time to see Lincoln's grave or home. Another visit. Met Odin's wife, Julie, and family, including parents and sister. Fun party in the evening. Saw slides from Odin's thru-hike, including pictures of Esther and I we'd never seen. Odin's father, Bob, is a talented amateur photographer, and Odin has learned well from his old man. His photos were some of the best composed I've seen of anyone, especially a memorable sunrise photo from the top of Blood Mountain in Georgia. Odin, his family and wife, Julie, are all good people. It was a great time.

Sunday, my 30th birthday, drove back to Rockford in record time to catch Packers-Bears game. Packers won, 30-20, in exciting matchup with many trick plays and weird plays. A memorable game with a positive outcome. Packers clinched division and are the first team in the NFL to earn a playoff spot. After game took a walk around neighborhood with Mom and Esther. This walk and the one on Thanksgiving was the only exercise I got. That, and all the walking we did around Springfield. I feel like I've gained weight.

Mom made me a great ribeye steak dinner, cooked just the way I like it, with a mushroom and grilled onion au jus, baked potato and salad. She also baked a chocolate cake with pudding in the middle, topped with a light frothy seven minute frosting. Mom and Dad gave me a showerhead attachment that eliminates chlorine. I hope it will reduce the frequency of skin rashes and psoriasis I get. We'll see. Rockford water is murder on my skin. Then over to the Larson's for more cake and ice cream. I only ate a little ice cream, full from the other meal. Presents from the Larson's include: $15 Borders book store gift certificate from Trent and Beth; compact disc binder from John and Dorothy; an Arizona gazzetteer and $50 to buy clothes from Mom and Dad Larson; and Esther bought me a crew neck casual dress shirt and a sweater. I've worn both, and they both look very hip. I need the wife to develop a fashion sensibility.

Which brings us to today. Worked again at Kishwaukee. Watched a bad Spielberg flick from 1987, "Batteries Not Included." Ran errands to grocery store and Borders after dinner. Talked to Shawn. That's about it. Good. We're all caught up.

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