(This is my laziness of posting...instead of writing three posts, I'm writing about three separate things within one post. Bah. Who cares ? :-))
ARKANSAS OR BUST
Though planned for about ten days beforehand, I was unable to share my plans of a vacation to Arkansas with you, dear blog readers, because the point of the trip was to surprise my sister. Mission accomplished. The hardest part of surprising my sister was not telling her myself. The plan was to drive down with her best friend, Bonnie. Bonnie told Les her own sister would be accompanying her, so Les wouldn't be suspicious about Bonnie's decision to drive instead of fly (tix were expensive, but she was still planning on it until I told her I would come too). So for many days of phone conversations and Gmail chats, I had to pretend I was jealous of everyone going to visit Leslie this month. I had fun with it from time to time, giving her hints that wouldn't be at all obvious until she looked back at them later. But despite my acting abilities, I came very close to slipping up and mentioning it in passing. I didn't, however, and the look on everyone's faces was totally worth it.
When we were about halfway there, I almost gave in and told her when she called. About five hours from Littel Rock, Bonnie's phone rang. We both assumed she was calling to see if we were almost there. Bon and I got giggly and I was all quiet, not wanting to ruin it. But as Bonnie began listening to Les, I knew this was not an ordinary phone call. Les was calling to tell Bonnie that their dog had just died. This was not the news we were expecting. Les and Jonathon's darling Saint Bernard, Josephine (AKA Josie), suffered bloat while they were out and about, and by the time they were home, there was nothing that could be done. (FYI: If you are a dog owner, and do not know what bloat is, look it up now and learn, because if it happens and is caught quickly, the dog's life can be saved.) This is especially sad and unfair for Josie, because she had all sorts of health problems including Lyme disease, arthritis, hip dysplasia, and allergies. Les and Jonathon took very good care of her, doing for her everything her special circumstances required. They are the most responsible and loving pet owners ever. It was just a tragic thing that happens sometimes. When Bonnie relayed the message to me, I wanted to yell through the phone, "I'll be there soon, sister! I love you!" But we decided it would still be a nice surprise, even though it would be shadowed.
Bonnie and I stopped at a store on our way to buy a plant for Les to plant Jo's ashes under. Bonnie picked out a beautiful azalea named Autumn Sweetheart, because they adopted Josie two years ago (in the autumn) and she was the biggest (literally:-)) sweetheart there was. When we pulled up to their house then, Bonnie led the way to the front door and I walked with the plant in front of my face. Jonathon answered the door when we knocked, and Bons walked in and I walked in behind her, still keeping my face hidden in case Les was right there. I glanced sideways at Jonathon and he smiled really big and said really loudly, "What!?!" I hushed him and asked in a whisper where Les was. He pointed down toward the sunken living room. Bonnie again walked in first, then I pulled the plant down and yelled suprise. Les just stopped in her tracks and stared at me for a few seconds. No smile, no nothing. Then she walked up to me and hugged me, and we both started crying. So did Bonnie and Jen. Jen had driven over from Dallas the night before, so she was also surprised to see me. Having the people who love her the most around her on this very difficult day was special, I know. She was pretty impressed we managed to pull off the surprise, too, as she is a very smart girl.
The next day was her birthday, and we celebrated in small ways, remaining subdued from the day before. Their house is beautiful and they finally have friends (not to say they're not awesome people, but it's hard meeting new people in a new town). The week was spent mostly chatting, drinking, swimming in their magnificent pool (it is VERY hot in AR), shopping, and having a good time. Girls spending time together doing girly things. Oh, and Jonathon was there, too :-). It was a great vacation, and I'm glad I got to see my sister. I will see her again in October, when my mom and I fly down over MEA break. This living nearly 900 miles apart is taking some getting used to, but it forces us to appreciate the time we do have together.
Miss you already, Les!
THE GREAT MN GET-TOGETHER
"Minnesota, Minnesota, we are south of Manitoba, we are east of North Dakota, we've got something truly rare. It's fulfilling, entertaining, it's true culture you'll be gaining. Accept no immitations, it's the fair!"
This is a song. If you've never heard it sung to its adorable little jingle, ask me to sing it for you the next time you see me. I believe every word to be true. I love the fair. It is a once-a-year indulgence into a day of foregoing diets and wandering aimlessly over 310 acres of "stuff". Our niece joined us this year for her very first fair experience. Back in June, she told me Colbie Callait was going to be opening for someone, and she wanted to go. I looked it up, and she was opening for Lifehouse and Goo Goo Dolls, so we bought tickets. She asked, "What do you do at the fair?" I answered, "Eat and look at stuff." And that's exactly what we did. Items consumed: fresh-squeezed lemonade, pronto pups, cheese curds, french fries, Sweet Martha's Cookies, and funnel cake. Stuff seen: piglets being born, lots of other livestock (we enjoy walking through all the barns), tractors, The Eco-Experience (stopping to harass Pat's co-workers, as Pat himself opted out of working their booth this year), the art show, tractors, wood-cutters, family (Brian and family just happened to be there as well), the fair from above (we rode the Sky Glider), tractors, Canadian Royal Mounted police (I don't know why they were there, but the horses as well as the mounties were worth looking at), seats for the new Twins Stadium, a Great Dane that could be Jersey's dad (I love the Pet Center), and a concert followed by fireworks that made the day complete. It was a beautiful 75 degree day, a wonderful relief coming from the excruciating Arkansas heat.
Conclusions: 1. Eating fried foods is naughty, but quite enjoyable. 2. I love my husband, but the lead singer of Lifehouse is hot.
FOUND: AN OLD NOTEBOOK
I found while cleaning today an old notebook that had very few used pages, less than twenty, I'd say. So, I decided to purge it and use it for my fall grad class which starts tomorrow evening. Before ripping out pages willy-nilly, I read them, and I found something I wrote over two years ago. It's a reaction to the book The Kite Runner I wrote while on vacation in Colorado with Pat and his family. Have you ever forgotten you've written something, come across it later, and thought, "Huh. That's not bad"? I guess that's pretty much the case here, so I decided to chronicle it by typing it here, verbatim, my scribbled reactions written immediately after finishing this book:
"Few things compare to the feelings that run through me upon completing a truly good piece of literature. Nevermind that the cover proclaims "#1 NYT Bestseller". Forget what Diane Sawyer and The San Francisco Chronicle have to say. A book that can cause me to weep so frequently at not only atrocities of humanity, but also at its wonders can only be thought of as great literature.
Such is the case in Khaled Hasseini's The Kite Runner. Hasseini has given his readers the gifts of a gripping and emotional plot, dazzling verbage and imagery, and staggering reality. As I read the story of Amir and Hassan, I wished only that it were indeed a story. And though it is a tale of heritage, family, and the ties that bind, it is set in a background that is all too real. The episodes in the book that cause us to gasp in horror are the portions that are not fictionalized.
The brutal force with which Hasseini describes the state of Kabul and other Afghani cities shows no mercy. It is nothing but painful to know that the things in this book are not things of the past. Here, in the saftey of an SUV traversing US Highway 83, I struggle to comprehend any of it. How could I possibly? Overwhelming feelings of guilt, pity, shame, sadness, and anger encircle my heart. But what good does that do? I know I will do nothing differently. I can try my damnedest to at least remember the plight of others while enjoying my vacation, but nothing will come of it. Ignorance, even when feigned, is bliss. I am a lower-middle-class American. Always have been and most likely always will be. Is it my job to try and atone for the sins of others by simply acknowledging that they exist? This, I don't know. All I can do is thank God daily for the gifts He has given me, right? No. Of course, there is more I can and should do. But what? Send money--to whom? Protest--how? Deny my own happiness to try and "even things out" a bit--? It's all too much to ponder."
Now I can throw the pages away. They were pretty sloppy anyway. I haven't yet read Hasseini's next book, A Thousand Splendid Suns, but I look forward to it affecting me in the same way.
Thanks for sticking it out for all three topics :-). It's back to school tomorrow for me, with the kids joining me next week. This summer has been the best of my life, as I've hopefully adequately recorded here. With finishing my Master's, teaching, and continuing to try and lose weight, blogging will more than likely take a backseat. Although I've only posted 18 times in the last 11 weeks, expect it to fall off even more in the coming months. It has become a form of expression and therapy, however, so perhaps I will find the time. Stay tuned to find out :-)