Streets and Alleys

Low 80 degrees outside led me to believe it was an okay day to take a walk. I headed down a couple of alleys again, looking for something different in my neighborhood. I am always a little cautious walking in alleys, wondering if a homeowner thinks I am up to no good. This is Texas, after all, and some people are quick with a shotgun. On the other hand, I sometimes forget I probably just look like a little old lady and they’d be more concerned that I might fall down than steal anything from their yards. By the time I got back home an hour later, I was very hot and decided to get in the pool. I am proud of myself that I not only walked but did my pool exercises too. Woohoo. πŸ™‚

Multitasking on the theme: Postal Service

Wrote postcards to voters

Enjoyed cards from friends

Got some new cool stamps through the mail (why does it seem funny to get stamps through the mail?)

Watched Postmaster General DeJoy bumble his way through a Congressional hearing

We’re still in a pandemic, though the President and the Republican party act like it doesn’t exist. As of today in Dallas County, we’ve had a total of 72,884 cases and 926 deaths. Statewide in Texas, totals are 625,000 cases and 12,459 dead. US totals are at 5.29 million cases and 181,000 deaths. We are still advised to wear masks when out in public, social distance, not to eat in indoor restaurant spaces, not to gather in crowds, not to attend large events, and so on. Yet Trump had thousands of people on the White House lawn without masks and in close proximity, just pretending that there’s nothing to be alarmed about.

Meanwhile, Trump donor, millionaire, and person who doesn’t know the cost of a postcard stamp (I can tell you it’s 35 cents because I am sending out lots of postcards these days), the Postmaster General is taking machines out of service, hauling off mailboxes, and slowing down mail delivery. Personally, I accuse him of backing Trump in his efforts to interfere with the election but go ahead and call me a conspiracy theorist.

I vacillate between thinking there is no way that Trump could get reelected and being totally scared that he will. I can’t take four more years of it.

A Little Visit

Elle has soccer this weekend so Sarah, Miles and the kids came by for a socially distanced lunch yesterday. Rich made several pizzas and we enjoyed hanging out by the pool while the kids swam for a bit. We are all tired of the pandemic and the precautions we have to take…when will it ever end? Jack said he was so sad we couldn’t hug each other and Beck said he thought we could because they had been tested. Yes, they were tested a month ago before they came to stay with us, but we had to explain that that test isn’t really any good any more, especially now that they are back in school in person. I told them I was so sad we can’t hug, too, and I would be happy when the virus was gone. Jack said, “What if it goes away today?!” Sweet boy with wishful thinking! I said that would be so great and I would hug and kiss them bunches if I could.

The family left for awhile and then Sarah brought the boys back to hang out with us during Elle’s game. We let them chill out in the apartment with Grandpa’s lemonade and some leftover pizza for dinner, they played some video games, and then got back in the pool till Sarah came to get them. Love these kiddos and miss having them around every day. When they lived in Dallas, I sometimes thought about the future when they would be in and out of our house throughout their growing up years, we’d be at school activities and sporting events on a regular basis and get to see all of the day to day aspects of their lives. I have grieved the loss of that life. Although we try to visit all of the kids and grandkids when we can (of course now very changed by the pandemic), it was different having one set of kids right here in the same town with us. I don’t fault them for moving and I know it has been a good choice for them. I am just a little selfishly sad that our growing old years will not be what we thought.

Ugh, I guess the pandemic is making me even more emotional than usual. πŸ™‚

Getting out the Vote

I and many others have been writing postcards to voters throughout the pandemic, encouraging participation in the upcoming election. Now we have collected all of those postcards and are meeting in small groups, masked, distanced, to put labels on all the cards and get them ready to mail. With all of the current issues at the Postal Service, we want to get our bulk mail project out sooner than planned. Wouldn’t it be a shame if all that work was in vain and people didn’t get their mail till the election was over??!!

This is such an important election. I hope everyone who can do something to help save our democracy will get out there and get busy! Make sure you are registered to vote and make sure your loved ones are, too. Do you know where you can check? Go to this website if you have questions. You can also contact your county elections office. If you are eligible for voting by mail, request your ballot now! As soon as you get it, fill it out and return it right away. If you can take it in person to your elections office, do that. If not, mail it immediately. If you can’t vote by mail, vote in person EARLY. Most states have early voting for days to weeks before November 3. You can find this out through your county elections office as well. Wear your mask, go early, and vote in person. Don’t wait till election day if you can avoid it. If you have to wait till election day, go early, make sure you have any documents that are required in your state (in Texas we need a picture ID), wear your mask, take some water and snacks, and be prepared to wait in line. IF you are already in line when the polls close, you must be allowed to vote. Don’t just leave. If you are told you cannot vote for whatever reason, ask for a provisional ballot. You are entitled to one and cannot be denied a provisional ballot, no matter what anyone says.

In the meantime, volunteer for a candidate or an organization working on voter issues. Become a volunteer voter registrar and get people registered. Take part in educational events. Put a sign in your yard. Contact your legislators and make sure they know where you stand on issues. Donate to a candidate you support. Write postcards. Block walk. Make phone calls.

Let’s do this, people!!

Happy Birthday, Miles, and some of the kids head back to school

Happy birthday to our son in law Miles! We have the best conversations about life, he’s smart and funny and talented, a great dad and husband, and all around good guy. We love you, Miles! πŸŽ‚πŸ’₯πŸŽˆπŸŽπŸŽ‰πŸŽ‚πŸ’₯πŸŽˆπŸŽπŸŽ‰

Sarah and Miles’ kids go to a private school in Tyler, where classes are fairly small and they are taking lots of precautions so they have returned to in-person school this week. Elle is in 7th, Beck is in 4th, and our little Jacky Boy is starting Kindergarten! Fingers crossed everyone will stay safe!

A day later, Aidan and Ally returned to school in Clyde. They’re in a little town and a fairly small school district as well, so the decision was made to go back in person. Ally is in 7th and is trying out for the volleyball team. Last time we saw her, she had some pretty good skills so hopefully she will get to play. I don’t know if it’s the same as when my girls were in school and everyone who wanted to play was able to play but they divided them up into A Team, B Team and C Team based on abilities. I’ll be waiting to hear from her! Aidan is a high school junior and that just blows me away! How can this kid be getting so grown up? He will start an aircraft mechanics program this year, a joint effort between his high school and Texas State Technical College. He is pretty excited and it will give him a good boost into a career if he completes the program. He said it doesn’t start till the 31st so right now they are meeting in the library and doing “book stuff” to prepare.

Meanwhile, the Amarillo crew is postponed till September, even though their parents are already back at school doing their prep duties. It will be interesting to see how the school year plays out. I know people on both sides of the equation, those who think kids need to be at school regardless of the risk, and those who would not send their kids for a million dollars because they think it’s unsafe. I suppose I am fortunate that I don’t have kids at home any more and am not a teacher so I am not as emotionally invested in the issue. I worry about my grandkids (and my daughter and son in law who teach) but I guess I think it’s worth a try to see if schools and families can handle it and keep everyone safe. I worry about parents who have to work and can’t leave their kids at home to do online schooling and don’t have a reliable child care arrangement. I worry about those families who don’t have the resources to make online school work. I worry about those who don’t have accessible internet or a quiet place to log on for school. And I worry about the virus spreading through classrooms. It’s such a weird and uncertain time. Here’s hoping we get through this relatively unscathed (but what are the odds?)

Drop Off

Bonnie and David are back to work at their respective schools, even though the students don’t come back till September 1. Because of their schedule, Bonnie couldn’t leave Amarillo till 3 PM so we drove halfway to Oklaunion to meet her and hand the kids off. First, I will say these kids are excellent travelers. Even though they were crammed together in our back seat with Ada and Luke in booster seats and Emery in the middle, they were super pleasant, amused themselves, ate snacks, played games with each other, read and colored, and didn’t offer any complaints. Wowie! They get the gold star for making Gigi and Grandpa very happy on a three hour car ride.

Although we go to Amarillo at least a couple of times a year, I had never noticed Oklaunion. We had talked about meeting in Vernon, but Rich discovered that it would be 17 miles longer for us *each way* (!!!!) so he found Oklaunion to be halfway between both of our houses. How’s that for precise?! Oklaunion is so small that there were no gas stations or fast food restaurants for us to pull into and meet, so we chose the little Post Office instead. We met at 6 PM as planned and big bonus right next door: GOATS! They were very cute and friendly. We fed them some leftover pretzels from the car snacks, not sure if that is a good thing or not. Surely goats can handle pretzels, right?!

We didn’t tarry long since we both had three more hours of driving to do. We hugged the kids before they hugged their mom so as not to get any of her school cooties on us. We gave Bonnie air kisses and hugs as we said our goodbyes, and passed off the rest of the lemon glitter cookies and a beautiful loaf of sourdough bread that Rich made for Bonnie and David. Bonnie gave Rich a nice bottle of wine for a “very late birthday gift.” That was sweet and thoughtful!

We sure did have a great time with the kids and are so happy they got to come. Love them a ton! We stopped in Harrold, another town I never noticed on the road, for gas and a potty break on the way home. Noted that almost no one was wearing a mask. 😦 Got in and out quickly. The drive home seemed to take forever and Rich had it in his head he wanted a Whataburger so we were going to drive through. Of course we could not find one that was on a road convenient to exit the highway so we ended up at the W not far from our house once we got to Dallas. πŸ™‚ Brought our late night dinner home, ate, and fell into bed after a long day!

Here’s our little summary of the Amarillo kids’ visit:

Games played: Mouse Trap, Life, Apples to Apples, Mexican Train, Garbage (card game), Sushi Go, Would You Rather, Concentration.

Favorite foods: Pulled pork sandwiches, spaghetti, any noodles with butter, nachos for lunch almost every day, Grandpa’s pancakes, ice cream, tacos, lemon glitter cookies for sure.

Books read: Ada loved the same little Puppy and Kitten books that Jack loves, plus we also read one aloud that Luke recommended called Snowy, about a lost puppy that finds a home. This was Luke’s favorite of the trip and he took it home with him, along with another one called Bad Guys that is also a favorite of Beck’s. Emery read a book called Invisible Emmie that was gifted to our kids’ bookcase by one of the older granddaughters.

Shows watched: We did not watch any movies, much to my surprise. Just too busy! But the kids DO love a show they found online called “Studio C.” It’s a Brigham Young University version of a Saturday Night Live type show. The kids think the skits are just HILARIOUS. Some of them were pretty funny but some were pretty lame. We saw more than our share of those! πŸ™‚

Favorite thing to do: Definitely swimming!

Quotes to remember from Ada:

“Gigi, you have a lot more white hairs than I remember.”

“Grandpa, your fruit salad is inspiring me.”

On remembering that I was married once before–“Oh yeah, you’ve had two husbands, one to have kids with and one to have a life with. Grandpa, you’re the one to have a life with.”

Along those same lines–“It’s funny that you were married to Poppy (my ex) in order to have my mom and my aunts.”

Luke is a chatterbox but he has been taught to say “May I tell you something?” or “May I ask you something?” as he interrupts. πŸ™‚ He told us he wished they could live here for a year. I commented that his parents probably wouldn’t like that but he could ask. He replied, “Oh, I mean all of us!” I said, “Well, tell them to come on, then!” He and Emery continued to discuss and they eventually came to the conclusion that they didn’t really want to live here, they just wanted our pool in THEIR back yard. They like their house better, no offense, and their stuff, and their neighborhood, but they’d love to have our pool. πŸ™‚

Luke also made several comments about Grandpa’s appearance to the point that Rich told him “No one is allowed to talk about my body any more.” πŸ™‚ I guess he is more sensitive than I am about my white hairs.

I’m sure there were lots more but I can’t remember now and wish I had written them down at the time. πŸ™‚

Our Visit Winds Down

Last games, last swim, last picnic by the pool. We had another round of “who can keep their hand in the ice water the longest?” since they had seen the pix of their cousins trying this experiment. Luke was the winner by far, going a minute and a half. I did a little over a minute and let him have the championship. LOL Unfortunately, we were so busy watching the timer that we didn’t get a photo of Luke’s success. The girls and Rich did not last long in the cold water.

The kids loved having their lunch served to them out by the pool most days. Ada and Emery usually requested sweet tea and Luke loved Grandpa’s fresh lemonade. I never make sweet tea but Rich tends to have simple syrup on hand for various needs so it was easy to add. We also let them split a Coke three ways most days. It’s funny that we usually never have soft drinks in the house but we have taken to drinking Cokes during our quarantine. What started out as a “treat” has become almost one a day for me….not good when I am trying to exercise and lose weight! Rich went to the store last night and noted when he came home that he didn’t buy any more Cokes. Probably a good thing, though I was a bit disappointed. πŸ™‚ We also had plenty of ice cream during the kids’ visit. That needs to stop, too. πŸ™‚

Pop-Up Cards

Always fun and always more complicated than they look! Emery made a pop up of a doggie for her great grandmother in Amarillo, and the kids all worked on a pop up of a peacock for their other great grandmother, my mom in New Jersey. Somehow the photo of the finished peacock card with sentiments written in it has disappeared from my phone. Take my word for it, it was cute and sweet. Luke tired of the card making and moved on to creating paper airplanes. I love it that these kids are all very creative and enjoy making crafty stuff, even though I am not very crafty myself. One of my friends commented on Facebook that I should open a craft store and I laughingly said I was only at little kid level craftiness. Still, it is fun to work on projects together and make some memories along with our creations.

Sous Chef Emery

Emery loved looking at a bunch of pictures of food Grandpa had prepared in the past when he worked as a chef in Alaska. She said she really wished she could help him “cook something fancy.” We said she could certainly help him cook but he was a little concerned that she and her siblings would not actually eat anything “fancy” based on experience about what they will and won’t eat! We looked through his pix again and had her make a list of the things she thought looked good. After looking at the list, we realized her main interest was in the desserts. πŸ™‚ We figured that would work! After some perusal, she settled on tacos and tostadas for the main meal followed by lemon glitter cookies. The cookies took some prep so she and Grandpa were in the kitchen most of the afternoon. Cookies first, then they started on the entrees.

Ada insisted that we wear our dresses, high heels, and lipstick. I showed her the dress I was going to wear and she pulled out several pair of shoes and short booties to go with it. We finally narrowed that down and she approved my final choice. She has some cute winterish looking booties that she wears with everything, including her summer dress. πŸ™‚ She wanted me to use the curling iron on our hair. I have not done this in years but I did manage to find my old curling iron. I am not good at it at all but we made do and stuck a barrette in her hair to hold it back. She then wanted lipstick so I pulled one tube out of my drawer and we put it on. It was not very dark and she was somewhat disappointed. I dug around some more and found another tube of lipstick which I had apparently bought on sale and never opened (can you tell I am not a girly girl?). We opened up the box, pulled out the tube, and WOWIE! it was much darker in color! She was thrilled! The next few days she went in and secretly applied some again. πŸ™‚

Menus were created by Emery. We put candles and placemats on the table. Rich wanted to put the fixings out and let everyone make their own tacos and tostadas but Emery really really wanted to “take orders” and serve our plates. She came out to the table with her little tablet and we all told her what we wanted, then she and Rich plated our meals up. It was super cute to see her so involved and having fun. Rich said she was a big help and he enjoyed their time in the kitchen. She was funny and complained about the “diners” who were kind of demanding and wanted refills and seconds before she even got everyone’s first order done. Rich told her this is how it is in a restaurant kitchen, not as much fun as you might think!

Luke said he would give the restaurant “10 stars,” though he did state that the taco shells and lettuce could have been better. These were balanced out, however, by the exceptional lemonade and cookies. Dinner conversation included hopes that we live to be 100. 

The cookies really were delicious! We saved some to take home to Amarillo so their parents could enjoy, though secretly I wanted to sneak another one.