Jam-packed!

Last night we had dinner at Sarah and Miles’, the kids swam and played, and Ally and Elle conspired to get Mom/Aunt Sarah to consent to letting Ally spend the night.  Aidan came home with us and we played games till bedtime.  This morning the girls got up and swam some more, then Elle had an appointment so I went to get Ally and Jack (Beck is at day camp all week).

The kids kept Jack amused, we all had lunch including Grandpa’s home made cookies (yum), then Aidan and Grandpa went to the movies while Ally and I stayed home with Jack, who needed a nap.  While he was asleep, Ally and I played a long game of Rack-o and she watched a little TV, then we drove Jack home after he woke up.

Rich made spaghetti for dinner and the kids swam.  I reminded Aidan about his Kahn Academy math work and his reading for the public library summer challenge, which made Ally interested in both.  After showers, they both read books and did some math problems before bed.  Ally was really into it and asked to go to the library tomorrow to pick up some more chapter books. That does my heart good.

We are having girls’ day tomorrow since the guys got to do something today.  We are picking up Elle in the morning and going to see Despicable Me 3 because it’s the only kids’ movie playing and Ally hasn’t seen it yet.  I wasn’t that crazy about it the first time but I guess I am seeing it again, and Elle is going for the second time so she can see it with Ally.  🙂  Elle has a tennis lesson, so after we take her home we will go to the library and look for some books on our list that we made tonight.

I have a little bit of a scratchy throat–sure hope I am not coming down with something!

Let the Summer Fun Continue

Yesterday we drove  halfway to meet Susan and pick up Aidan and Ally. For once, the traffic was not bad and we made good time.  Great to see Susan and chat for a little bit before heading back to Dallas.  After we got to the house and unloaded, we went over to Sarah’s so they could see their cousins.  They always have a big time together!  Sarah is feeling better, though still a little weak.  Hopefully she will be 100% soon!

Kid Stuff

My daughter Sarah has been having some medical issues so we’ve helped with the kids a bit lately. She ended up having her appendix out on Friday! Hopefully she will be feeling better soon.  Elle has been away at camp for the past week but we enjoyed having some time with Beck and Jack.  Beck and I played a few games of checkers and then he wanted to learn how to play chess so Grandpa took over.  Although a few people in my life have tried to teach me chess before, I never really learned the game.  I think it’s great that Beck is interested.  And my 66 cent bowling set from the thrift store was a big hit with both boys–anything to make noise and knock things around, right?!  🙂

Miles and Beck went to get Elle at camp on Saturday so I stayed with Sarah to help with Jack and make sure she didn’t need anything.  Elle had a fabulous time at camp and we were all happy to see her after a week away!

Tomorrow we are driving halfway to pick up Aidan and Ally so the summer fun continues!

Weekend Update

I haven’t done one of these in awhile.  When you’re retired, sometimes the weekdays and the weekends run together and you don’t remember it’s the weekend till it’s gone.  Other times the weekend is just too busy to sit down and gather your thoughts and post anything at all.  And sometimes the new neighbors next door are having a very very very loud party in the back yard on a Saturday night and you want to be friendly and welcoming and not a crotchety old lady and so you don’t say anything even though it’s super annoying to have to listen to a bunch of whooping and hollering at 12:46 AM.  You wonder what in the world they are finding they have to yell about at this hour. Seriously, have fun, kids, but don’t yell so loudly that I can hear you even with my windows and doors shut, the air conditioner on, and the TV turned up to something like 45 on the volume-0-meter (hubby’s doing; I will just place the blame on him right here and now).

So since I am still up enjoying the party to which I was not invited, I think I will do a weekend update.  Here ya go.

I haven’t done much with Refugee Services lately–they haven’t had a lot of tasks listed on the weekly opportunity email and I think perhaps the numbers of refugees have diminished. I’m hopeful to do something again soon. Meanwhile, here are some books that look like interesting reading.

Sad that this brilliant woman’s life was cut so short.

A fun story from my former hometown.

I’m in a tizzy about the health care bill.  If you think you will never need Medicaid, read this.

Or this.

Awesome. Watch! 

Great books for encouraging kindness in kids.

I love this guy. Wish I lived in Wisconsin so I could vote for him.

Odd.  But amusing.  Or amusing but odd.  Whatever.

Happy weekend, everyone.  Sleep well while the partiers party on.

 

 

 

 

Hot Days of Summer

We took Elle, Beck and Jack to see “Despicable Me 3,” then Beck and Jack came to our house to swim for awhile when Elle went on to soccer practice.  They loved the movie, though I have to admit I am not a big fan of animated shows and some are definitely more lame than others.  🙂   The boys had a blast in the pool and Grandpa got in with them for a little bit while Ajax and I watched from the sidelines.

This photo popped up as my Facebook “memory” for the day on the 13th, taken in 2009.  Yes, in Unalaska I often wore hoodies and hats in July!  My, how things have changed!

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I’ve been wanting some outdoor furniture for the front porch and kept looking at sets but didn’t want to spend the money. Imagine my delight when Sarah and Bonnie and their families bought this cute ensemble for Rich and me for our birthdays.  I think I will enjoy it a little more around September and October, though!

 

Cousins

There are 31 first cousins in my generation of my father’s family.  My dad was the youngest of 8, well, really 9 because one child (Robert) died as a baby.  There were five females: Elizabeth (Liz), twins Jane and Catherine (Cass), Mary, and Teresa and three males: Harry Kirby, known as Kirby, George, and my dad Joseph (Joe).  They had a rough life growing up; my father’s mother died when he was a baby and his older sisters helped raise him and his next older brother, George.  Their father married a woman with children of her own and according to family lore, life became the stuff of cliched fiction with the stepmother favoring her own kids and leaving the stepkids to fend for themselves.  One story states that she would often get upset with the youngest two boys and sit them out on the front stoop with their belongings so one of the married sisters would come and get them. As an older adolescent, my dad lived with my Aunt Jane and Uncle Charles till he joined the Air Force at the tender age of 17. Now most of these family members are gone except for Teresa, Mary and George.  My dad died first, at the very young age of 42, from lung cancer. The rest have passed on as they became older and suffered health issues.  I really miss all of them and have fond memories of that generation of “Rices.” It makes me sad to know that there is so much information and history that is lost to us and I wish I had taken the time to learn more from my dad, aunts, and uncles when we were all younger. Here are a few recent pics of just a handful of relations.

 

 

Most of my cousins grew up in New Jersey, some within a few miles or a backyard of each other, while my family lived a nomadic Air Force life, only returning to New Jersey on vacations and between assignments.  We also had our “Chicago cousins” —  Cass’ eight kids, whom we only saw rarely, and Uncle George’s kids who lived in Utah so we hardly knew them at all.  But mostly I remember the NJ cousins and as a kid I was quite envious that some of my cousins seemed to be best friends and did a lot together, while we were the outsiders who only came to visit on occasion.

Over the years we’ve had a few reunions that many of us attended and I regularly see many of the NJ cousins to this day when I return to see my mom.  We aren’t the best at keeping in touch but thankfully some of us are on Facebook and get to follow each other’s lives a little bit that way.  And sadly we are all getting older and we have already lost a few cousins.

Recently my sister let me know that one of our cousins and his family were coming to San Antonio because their son was completing basic training in the Air Force and would be graduating.  So Rich and I decided to drive out and visit for a couple of days.

My cousin Tim is my Aunt Mary’s youngest son.  Funny side story:  His real name is Thomas but when he was a child, he was very small so everyone called him Tiny Tim which got shortened to Tim.  I always knew him as Tim and never knew the story behind it–just thought that Tim was his given name.  When I was visiting in NJ not all that many years ago, a bunch of us had gone to a softball game and then back to Tim’s house.  I heard his wife Brandi call him Tom and I thought I had misheard.  Then someone else called him Tom and Brandi called him Tom again and I finally said, “Did you call him Tom?”  She said, “Yes, that’s his name!”  What?? I always thought his name was Tim! So they explained that they’d originally met when they worked at the same place where he’d been hired under his official name and everyone there knew him as Tom.  She had always known him as Tom and most of their friends call him Tom. She laughingly said, “Your whole family calls him Tim but all of us around here call him Tom.”

We had a great time in San Antonio with Tim/Tom and Brandi, their daughter Veronica and their son Trevor, new AF airman Aaron and his girlfriend Jamie.  My sister had a potluck dinner on Saturday attended by her daughters Alana and Rachel and their hubbies and kids, her son Ryan and his wife and kids, her son Eli, and her ex-husband Alan, along with Rich and me and the NJ crew.  We enjoyed good conversation and catching up with my nieces and nephews and all of their adorable kids as well as the cousins.

 

 

Once upon a time I had an idea that it would be a cool project to photograph and interview each of my first cousins and put it together for posterity. I suppose I could have started this weekend but it didn’t even occur to me.  🙂  Maybe on the next NJ trip!

The Broken Bow Incident

My friend Tammy planned to travel from Alaska to Missouri this summer to see some of her family,  so we decided we would meet somewhere for a day or two.  We contemplated a few locations and most of the more “appealing” sites were too far for one or the other of us.  Eventually we just looked for something about halfway rather than somewhere we really wanted to go.  Our search informed us that Broken Arrow, OK, was about equidistant and not a terribly long drive for either of us.

Tammy and I  chat regularly via Facebook messenger and our planning began months ago.  As time moved forward, we began to talk about getting hotel rooms v. renting a place to share.  Also as time went on, in my mind I somehow changed the name of the meeting place to Broken Bow, not Broken Arrow.  Tammy went along with me and soon we were both planning our trip to Broken Bow without question.  In fact, one time she said, “I keep wanting to call it Broken Arrow!” and I replied, “Me, too!” and we laughed and went back to arranging our meet-up in Broken Bow( totally oblivious to the mistake).

Apparently, Broken Bow has a very popular lake and lots of fly fishermen like to vacation there.  We were told it was the busy season and it might be hard to find a place. There were some cute cabins for rent but all required a two night stay and we were only going for one.  We finally settled on an apartment I found on HomeAway, a little funky looking,  but we thought it would be okay, and it was located “downtown” near shops and restaurants.  It would be fun to walk out our door and wander around, right?

We talked about meeting around noon since we each had about a 3.5 hour drive and didn’t want to have to leave too early.  The day before our trip, Tammy texted me and said she would not be there by noon because it was a 5.5 hour drive for her. WHAT?? I was so confused!  I thought we were meeting halfway!  I looked online and sure enough my trip was right at 3 hours and hers was 5.5.  I was still puzzled about how I could have misunderstood the driving distances when I thought we planned something that would be about the same for each.  I started digging back through our messages and finally found the error–yes, we were supposed to meet in Broken Arrow and we had made plans for Broken Bow!  OMG.  I felt so horrible about it!  Of course, because we’d rented an apartment, we couldn’t cancel and get a refund at this late date so we were stuck unless we wanted to forfeit our money.  Tammy was such a good sport about it and said no biggie, she was on vacation and it was all fine.  Thank goodness for kindhearted friends!

Rich and I headed out on Sunday morning and arrived in Broken Bow around 1 PM.  I texted Tammy that we were there so we could meet somewhere for lunch. No reply so I figured she was driving and her two teen girls were asleep so no one could text.  We decided to drive over to find the apartment and make sure everything was okay there.  It was a little difficult to find (as we’d been warned by previous renters on the website), with the address on one street and the entrance on a side street, connected to a business, so it wasn’t obvious that there was an apartment there. We had to get a key out of a mailbox, which we did, but then we couldn’t get into the apartment. The key unlocked the deadbolt but the doorknob was also locked and the key didn’t seem to work.  I messaged the owner to ask if there was something else we needed to do and didn’t hear back from him.  We decided we’d give him some time to reply while we waited for Tammy, who eventually called to say she and her daughters were in town but their AK phones apparently did not work in OK and she had a hard time finding someone who would let her borrow a phone to contact us. What the hell.  Several people told her no before some kind soul at a store let her use a phone! We then met at a Mexican restaurant and had a great time chatting and catching up.  Tammy is full of stories and always lots of fun and it was good to see Rosie, who’s in art school in Portland, and Mary, who’s a high schooler back home in Unalaska.

After lunch, we drove back to the apartment.  We figured out that the key DID open both locks and walked into a foyer area that had three separate doors in it.  We weren’t sure which one was the apartment so we tried them all and none of them would open.  I finally called the owner and he said he was out of town for work but that the apartment door should not be locked. Well, it was! He seemed very puzzled about this but after we tried some more, he told us to open a different door that seemed to be stuck but we finally opened with a strong tug, taking us into a large industrial type garage.  He told us to walk through the garage and there would be another entrance to the apartment, call him back if we had any more problems. I had barely hung up when we walked into the apartment and realized that it had not been cleaned! There were towels all over the bathroom, three beds were messed up and unmade, coffee pot sat on the counter with residue in it, trash in the trash can, etc.  So our little misadventure continued! I called him back to tell him and he acted like he was shocked.  He could not understand why the apartment was not cleaned.  I asked “Are you sure you didn’t have someone here last night?” because he had earlier sent us a message saying he hoped we’d “enjoyed” our stay and to leave the key in the mailbox.  Then immediately after that, he sent another message saying, “Sorry, I just realized you are there tonight, not last night.”  So this made me think that he DID have people there the night before and he’d somehow gotten mixed up.

Anyway, he said since he was out of town he didn’t know what to do except refund our money and try to find us another place.  This went on for awhile with him texting us about other options but they were all more expensive and he never offered that he would pay the difference so I finally said we would just find our own place if he would refund our money ASAP.  He apologized and agreed that he would set a refund in motion through HomeAway, stating that it was his fault; he did have people there Friday and Saturday nights and forgot to set up a cleaning.  Meanwhile, the AK people with no service got to use his free Wifi for a little while.  🙂

He did call back and say he had found someone who could clean the apartment if we could wait 3-4 hours!  LOL  By now it was 4:30 or so and I told him we’d already wasted our afternoon, so no thanks, just the refund, please.

We found a lodge outside of town near the state park that had two rooms next to each other for about the same price, so we drove out there.  The weather was nice and there was a seating area right outside our rooms so at least we could sit there and chat.  We were still full from lunch so didn’t want any dinner at that point and by the time we decided we might want something, most of the restaurants were closed (well, the ones that had been open in the first place…it was Sunday and a lot of stores and restaurants were closed all day). Rich volunteered to drive back into town and get us some pizza so we sat around and chatted some more with our late night pizza dinner, then hit the hay. Whew! First day was quite a fiasco but at least we had fun hanging out!

Monday we had breakfast at the lodge and then set out to see “downtown,” which ended up being a bunch of closed down buildings from the past, one junk store/soda fountain, and one western-wear clothing store.  It did not take us long to see “downtown.”  From there, we decided to go to the Gardner Mansion and Museum, which houses Native American and pioneer artifacts.  I’d read online that it was a little hard to find, which proved true but we did locate it and drove up the dirt driveway past a sign that said “closed.”  The road was open, though, so we thought maybe they just hadn’t switched the sign to “open.”  We pulled into an area that said, “park here” and displayed two more signs, one that said, “honk for an attendant,” and the other that had prices listed to see the museum and “the tree,” or “the tree” only for fifty cents. Rich said he loves trees but he wasn’t sure what was so special about this one that made it worth fifty cents.  🙂  We honked but no one came out.  I looked up the phone number and called, but no one answered. We took a few pix and drove away, sadly.

I’d also noted the Forest Heritage Center Museum and the Peter Toth Totem Pole as places we might visit, so we had to drive back the way we’d come, out to the Beaver’s Bend State Park.  The Forest Heritage Center was pretty interesting, with a lot of history about the area and about the logging industry, the CCC camps, and the traveling timber towns.  I never knew that the logging companies would house people in the woods, then cut their houses in half and truck them to the next location when all the timber had been cleared.  We saw some interesting photos of the company towns of the logging industry in OK, which “despite the hardships,” are portrayed as just the most wonderful life anyone could have imagined.  Funny how history gets revised.  I was especially interested to read that the women worked themselves to the bone on a myriad of tasks but “these were the best days of their lives.”  I wonder if anyone really asked those women!  We also saw a 100 year old log cabin and an old Post Office.

The Peter Toth totem pole stood outside. According to the OK Forestry Service, “The sculpture is one in a 50 state series known as the “Trail of Tears” sculptures by Hungarian artist, Peter Toth. Mr.Toth came to Oklahoma to sculpt Oklahoma’s Indian monuments. Mr. Toth’s goal in life was to complete at least one sculpture in each of the fifty states. To date, he has done 67 monuments.”  When I was reading about Broken Bow, I learned that it was originally founded by some members of the Choctaw Tribe who had grown weary on the Trail of Tears and stayed at this location.  They lived in their community of Con-Chito for about 75 years before white settlers began to arrive and take over. Eventually, brothers Herman and Fred Dierks moved from Broken Bow, Nebraska and began a logging company, changing the name of the town and trajectory of history.

After lunch at a nearby diner, we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.  It was really great to see Tammy and her girls and we had a lot of laughs and conversation about what will be forever known as The Broken Bow Incident.  As a funny side note, we discovered there was a Star Trek episode with the same name, in which a Klingon ship crashes in Broken Bow, OK.  🙂

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We decided next year we will have to meet in Broken Arrow as planned, or Rich says he is willing to drive further to Eureka Springs, which was suggested this time and we had vetoed it as “too far.”

Thankful for good friends with understanding hearts!