08 May 2009

MARATHON WEEKEND, part 1: We Begin

JL arrived last night. We met in Streamwood near RvH’s house so that we can deliver two very large and beautiful geranium plants—one peach and one hot pink. RvH has a beautiful townhouse and this is the first time JL has been inside. RvH has the best original art featuring geraniums—I have to get a photo of the painting of the ladies with the geranium hats. We stay only 30 minutes or so because it is growing late and home is an hour away.

I drive through Tommy’s on the way home and pick up the best hamburgers in the world and, guiltily, some fries. JL is following Weight Watchers, and so should I! CA is home from his soccer game and we have a quiet evening and head to bed before 11:00pm. JL and I have the reputation of talking until 2:00am or so, but not last night.

Today is loaded with tasks and plans and travel for JL and me. We are up before 6:30am and bake a second three-layer Hershey’s chocolate cake—I baked the first one yesterday. JL helps me frost mine with Verna’s (her mother-in-law) fudge frosting—I get only so far and am frustrated as the frosting is not sticking to the cake sides. JL finishes mine and later frosts the second. In the meantime, I touch up my hair color and she whitens her teeth.

I pack for the weekend, and for Europe, wrap gifts for this weekend’s family gathering—for my Seattle sister NC, the new baby twins, and also for my mother-in-law’s Mother’s Day. I plant the black violas and then cover them with a wire basket because the deer have been feasting on my lovely flowering plants. JL has brought me a gorgeous Brunnera with tiny but tall blue flowers and the coolest leaves ever.

I make a nutritious salad—romaine, spinach, carrots, yellow peppers, avocado, tomato, green onions with Ken’s Lite Caesar dressing—and we sit down to watch some daytime t.v. By 2:00pm we are on the road heading toward Eureka and Peoria. This trip takes just under 3 hours and flies by—I think we will be entertained by satellite radio, but JL can spin a story and does. She was destined for talk radio, but missed her calling and became an OB nurse. Just one pit stop and we get to grandma’s just about 15 minutes before JE and MA arrive with LE and JA. So, so fun to see the little ones here in Eureka.

JA calls great grandma Gigi, and she loves it! He explores her house and spots a guitar magnet on the fridge. Gigi gives it to him and he is a riot mimicking playing the tiny guitar. He strums on his shovel and anything else he can appropriate, including the string from his mommy’s hoodie.
My youngest sister PM arrives with her husband MM. Great grandma has ordered chicken from the local bar/restaurant Chaniticleer. They have the best onion rings—the stringy kind—and we are quite literally in hog-heaven. I had suggested to Gigi that we eat out, but by the time we arrive she has made oven –roasted potatoes, broccoli salad, creamed peas, almond bars, and melon chunks. This is a feast of the first order. Gigi is and has always been a phenomenal cook, still trying new recipes at 81 years old.

PM and JL clean up while Gigi and I drive the two blocks to the Cottager’s Lounge, where great grandma has rented rooms for JE’s family. They will have all the privacy a young family needs to keep the little ones on-track with naps and bedtimes—something JE requires.

I had planned to go with PM, MM, and JL to visit the new baby twins and the two big sisters, but I am peopled out and decide that my day is over. I tell Gigi good night and nestle into the guest room bed with the brand new Vanity Fair that arrived in today’s mail.

Fortuitously we have gifted Gigi with high-end foam bed pillows, high thread-count sheets, and the perfect fleece blanket and comforter—some when she was using this bed to recuperate from her hip replacement, and some when she moved into her cottage. The gifts that keep on giving—to the givers! Trust me, this was intentional after years on a lumpy mattress with sheets that were thread-worn and ripped every time you moved your feet in the night. Gigi and grandpa are/were from the era of thriftiness, which has its eventual rewards. They are/were both infinitely generous in spirit, love, and material gifts to us, but shopping/acquisition has never been a priority.

A great night of sleep with an open window and the sounds of rain and wind to lull me through any wakeful periods. What a fun weekend this is!

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