Thursday, July 30, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Stories Told Around the Fire

Today I am throwing it alllll the way back to last week. That's right, last week; my throwing arm is tired.

Last Wednesday evening, we hosted Hugh's extended family for Porch Night, and, despite being kind of crappy earlier in the day, the weather held out just long enough for us to enjoy grilled tequila lime chicken, mock Caprese pasta salad, and freshly baked bread on the porch. Then, as a sweet bonus, it stayed nice enough for the cousins to gather around the firepit for 'smores and good conversation.

I love it when a plan comes together (translation: I love it when Mother Nature cooperates).

One of these things is not like the others...poor Teenager

Darren was an honorary cousin this evening, he fit in perfectly

Afterwards, Hugh invited all the boys to stay the night, so we ended up with a slumber party in the living room. It was a nice way to end the cousin's visit and it gave all of the kids a chance to get to know each other a little bit better; now, they can all connect on Facebook and carry on with a closer relationship, which, is pretty cool given the distance between our households.

This summer has been a good one for reconnecting with family, in general, and I am grateful for the opportunities. I hope my kids realize what a blessing family is and that they always make time to spend with their loved ones.

I'm pretty sure they will.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

So, Do Blondes Really Have More Fun?

The jury is still out on that; it would appear, however, that blondes attract more attention. Of course, my experience with that is slightly skewed; it tends to come from people who haven't seen me in a while and who have always known me to be a brunette, and, who are then taken slightly aback by the sunlight bouncing off my head. I mean, I assume that is the reason for the stunned look on their faces, anyway.

Hey, they aren't alone; I still do a double-take when I catch my reflection in a store window.

On the bright side, my stylist and I have agreed that I can probably start going five weeks between root touch-ups, rather than four weeks. This could potentially save me a bundle of money over the course of the year, assuming that I don't just spend it on other vain and unnecessary things.

Actually, if I do realize a savings, I could reinvest it in entertainment, proving the old adage about blondes having more fun, and, finally allowing the jury to retire once and for all.

That sounds like the wisest course of action, after all, that jury has been out for a really, really long time.

Monday, July 27, 2015

There Are Signs For Those Who Choose To See Them

During his last few years on Earth, my dad developed an affinity for gardening; specifically, the desire to plant lilies.

His favorite were daylilies, vibrant orange and willowy, but; any lily would do. He planted the bulbs, watered them, fretted over them, and, generally sowed love deep into their roots. So, it came as no surprise to hear that Dad's lilies bloomed in his yard this year; I naturally assumed that he would fuss over them, even from his Heavenly perch.

I was, however, completely surprised to see my own flowerbed erupt into a burst of colorful blooms late last week; I had planted oriental lilies a number of years ago and have had, at best, one or two small flowers to show for my efforts each year since.

There is no doubt in my mind that Dad tended these flowers, coaxing them into a vibrant and dynamic display, the likes of which I probably won't see again.

Now, I don't know where you fall on the spiritual plane-if you are a believer or a skeptic-but, I'm sure you will agree that these blooms are heavenly, whatever your definition of the word.

Thanks, Dad.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

We Endure

Stampede Weekend 2015 has come to a merciful end. I am preparing to pack my car for the trip back to Petticoat Junction, leaving behind the Man-Cub and Darren, who joined us this trip.

The boys are going to stay in Mayberry for the next week, to spend time with my mom and to dog-sit for her while she and her sisters take a few day-trips across the state. I'm glad they are all going to have fun; the sisters, as they go sightseeing, and the boys, who will, no doubt, take full advantage of the fully stocked fridge, the ginormous television, and the close proximity to the Dairy Queen.

I am not looking forward to returning to work, nor am I excited about the end of summer, but, I also know that there are worse things.

I can also say that we will never again have to spend the first Stampede without Dad; we've put that in the rearview, thankfully. Granted, I don't harbor any illusion that it will get easier as the years go by, but, I do know that I am blessed to have had the opportunity to build a solid tradition for my children and I hope that they will let the good memories of Stampedes Past color their enjoyment of the event going forward. That is what I hope for, for myself, as well.

And, there were some good memories to add to the collection this year. I'll always remember this as the year that Mom and all of her remaining siblings were together. I'll remember the sound of their individual voices coming from the kitchen, where they gathered around the table to reminisce about their youth. I'll remember the laughter that echoed down the hallway when they recalled something particularly funny, and I will remember their arguments over the division of family photos: these are the sounds of my childhood and I had not realized how much I had missed them.

In addition, I will remember trailing behind them all as they walked to the local park to check out the vintage car show-each holding a colorful solo cup full of tasty beverages, despite the questionable legality of that action.

They gave me ample opportunity to laugh this weekend and, for that, I am grateful.

Not pictured: Red solo cups

Friday, July 24, 2015

The More Things Change, the More They... Are Completely Different, Actually

The kids and I arrived in Mayberry yesterday, somewhat prepared to face the first Stampede without Dad. That is going about as well as you may think.

On the bright side, my mom's siblings also arrived to spend the weekend, which, has provided some distraction from my natural tendency to compare this year to years past; this is the first time ever that all eight siblings have been together for the three-day party. They didn't even accomplish that back when they were all growing up-there was over twenty years between the first born and the baby of the family and they all did their own things as they matured into adults.

So, this weekend is pretty special and it is good to see Mom distracted by the chaos.

Last night, I went to the Kelsea Ballerini/Trace Adkins concert with Mom, my six aunts, and my four uncles. Usually, I attend the concert with Phoebe and Reese, but, Reese wasn't able to make the trip from Phoenix this year, and Phoebe is headed to a swim meet in Pueblo later today, so, while I got to see her for a bit last night; I was more or less on my own with the geriatric crew.

The concert was good, and I did enjoy the company, but, afterwards, trying to keep them all together on the trip from the concert venue to the parking lot was about as easy as herding small children. Or, cats.

We made it home, eventually, where I have been ever since. I watched the parade, like usual, but, when it came time to join the clan at the rodeo grounds to watch my niece and brother-in-law compete in the slack (qualifying runs for rodeo activities the rest of the weekend), I was fast asleep on the couch.

There is a rodeo this evening, followed by the dance, and; I actually have no intention of attending either. I miss my comrades. I miss my dad. I miss feeling like Stampede is the greatest weekend in my hometown.

As I've said, the more things change...

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Outlaw Photo Shoot

Hugh, the kids, and I joined the rest of the family at Oscar and Emily's house for dinner last night. It was the first time in, like, twelve years that the whole family was all together and Emily had requested that I take a photo to mark the occasion.

Like most large group photo shoots, it took a number of attempts in order to achieve one picture in which all eyes were open and focused on the camera., and, as with most photo shoots; it resulted in a lot of fairly hysterical out-takes.

Once the large group photo was out of the way, we concentrated on smaller sub-groups, including the original family of five, plus the fur-baby, who, cooperated better than she usually does; maybe it was the pitchfork?

Yeah...there was a pitchfork...just go with it..

Then, the grandchildren graced us with their cooperation, which resulted in both great pictures and a workout for the boys. We are all about multi-tasking in this family.

She's the only girl, please don't drop her on her head.

Not to be outdone by their offspring, Hugh and his brother attempted a similar feat with their sister...

Even the dog is like WTF?

...we are eternally grateful that she escaped injury.

Tomorrow evening, we are hosting Porch Night for the family. I am hoping for better weather than we have experienced the last several days, but, in the event that it is cold and rainy, I am busting the porch quilts out of storage and looking up recipes for a good Hot Toddy.

Should be fun either way.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Take Care

Another summer weekend, come and gone.


At least we had some fun, and, for once, I am not being sarcastic when I say it like that. Oh, we had our fair share of housework, yard work, bookkeeping, bill paying, grocery shopping, and other general drudgery, but, we also got to spend an afternoon on the lake with Hugh's siblings and their families.

Hugh doesn't get a lot of opportunities to see his brother, who lives in Maine, or his sister, who resides in Illinois, so, their visit is an especially nice treat, and; Hugh wanted to do it up right, which, basically means that he took it pretty easy on their children when he pulled them around the lake on the tube. Indeed, the only minor mishap occurred when two of Hugh's nephews bumped heads during an especially turbulent moment. Otherwise, no dramatic wipe-outs or anything.

I'm not entirely certain Hugh's siblings understand the degree of restraint that Hugh was required to employ.

Ok, except for that one time...

...otherwise, smiles all around.

See, siblings? Your children are totally safe with your brother...totally safe...

The family will be spending a bit more time together this week, including dinner at Oscar and Emily's and Porch Night, at our house.

I'm glad that Hugh gets this chance to see them; if this year has taught me anything, it is to treasure the time that we have with family.