Saturday, April 30, 2016

Oh Those Pranksters

Update 3/28 - 4/3

I had given Bailey two T-shirts for her birthday.  One said, "Fitness? More like fitness whole pizza in my mouth." And the other one she wore the very next day to her Chem class.

Zach and I we're having pretty rough weeks, so we decided to cheer ourselves up with wings outside in the sunshine.  It didn't make any of our problems go away, but it did remind me that I have awesome people like Zach in my life.  Percy also appreciates that Zach is in our lives. 

We moved into a new building for work in January.  There are 4 floors, and basically they all look the same.  The only way you can really see, visually, that you're on the right floor is a huge piece of art work that takes up the entire wall across from the elevator.  For April Fool's day, some trickster changed all the art work up.  Why I oughtta!  Although some other trickster (or maybe the same one for all I know) had a soundtrack playing in all of the bathrooms with this fake art work:

I met up with Becky, Kelly & Kelly's parents on Friday evening for some adult beverages at the Malt N Vine. 

Me: The Original Pancake house is supposed to open in "Early 2016" but it's April already.
Becky:  We should write a letter: Long time eaters, first time writers...

Becky had to dash, but then the rest of us met Zach & Tom for dinner. 
Me: Oh, I invited Becky to your party.
Zach: Oh man! I didn't want any adults!
Me: She's a month younger than me.

The following day, about an hour before the party:

Becky: I'm going to pick up some cupcakes from Pinkabella
Me: Those are Fancy.
Becky: Too fancy for Zach...?

Zach: Can you pick up stuff for hamburgers?
Zach: And Marshmallows?
Zach: And paper plates?

Later at the party:
Me: There are no lights in this room.  Do you think we should do something about that?
Zach: It's fine.
Me: The sun is about to go down.
Matty: Do you have a light bulb? (Unscrewing old light bulb.)
Me: I'll go find one.

Tell me again about how you didn't want adults at your party?

Zach's plan was to have a card castle building contest so he built on, 13 levels high, as an example in the middle of the living room.  And then I walked in with Percy.
Zach: Tiffany! Make sure Percy doesn't knock over my castle.
Me: Percy, don't knock over the castle.
Zach: Thank, Tiffany.

When folks ended up diving into the castles later, especially when Zach dove into the cards, Percy freaked out, started shaking and tried to get me to bring him to the car so we could go home.  But I refused.  Instead, I told me we could go for a swim - and he did appreciate that, at least. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Joy Day!

Update 3/21 - 3/28

Dawne & Jordan were in town to get ready to have 40 people over for Easter.  Before I left for Easter, I took advantage of them being in town and went to the park and also grabbed some dinner at the family kitchen, AKA Cross roads, AKA a strip mall food court. 

Lucas: It's been pretty boring at the brown house.
Me: Oh, because the TV is gone.  You could have watched TV in your parent’s room.
Lucas: I've just been taking a lot of baths.

Lucas: It's an autobiographical
Me: About a car?
Lucas: It inspired a Disney movie maybe you heard of it.
Jordan: We should keep rolling along with this one.

On Good Friday, I picked my nieces up and we grabbed some lunch.  A late lunch because I clearly needed to nap the morning away.  On our way to the diner I suggested that we think of things that gave people joy and then surprise them.

Jackie: It brings my mom joy when I'm not around so I'm already giving that to her.

We ended up getting a bunch of things for Sean & Stacey (who totally ruined it by completely not getting Joy from the Easter basket of awesome) and then Stacey's dad, my parents (who did love Joy day) and even some adult diapers (the sexy kind) for Mo.  We left those on her door step anonymously with a note that said, "For someone special and all her many needs." My nephews saw it and thought that someone had messed up and intended to drop it off at their 90 year old neighbors.  Nope!

Stacey's Dad gave some liverwurst to Percy and he was a very happy boy.
Mr. L: Try some liverwurst.
Jackie: I'm full.
Me: She had half of a candy cane.
Jackie: And it's against my religion.

Jackie told us a delightful story about a friend who accidentally pooped in a pool.  When her fellow swimmer asked about it, she convinced her friend that it was a pretzel nugget.  But then later, she admitted what really happened.

Carla: I feel like if I accidentally pooped in a pool I would never admit it.  Especially if you believed that story about a pretzel nugget.

Me: Jackie O!
Jackie: They call me Jack queen now.
Morgan: More like Jack noying.

We played some Canasta at my parents' house.  It was a first for the girls, but I think they got a handle on it quickly.

Frita: Tiffany hates losing.
Me: But you know what I love: winning
Morgan: You know what I love: dogs named Pepe.

On Saturday, I spent some time putting aside things I wanted my parents to drive out to me this summer.  I also counted out my life's savings:

Later that day we went to Maureen's to do some epic egg coloring.  We tried that FB video trick with the silk ties, and they came out pretty cool.  Lisa totally doubted us, but after seeing the awesome, she was a total believer.  I feel like she's kind of missing an essential lesson about Easter, now that I think about it...

Frita's had a slightly different effect:

I also went to Sean and Stacey's to also decorate eggs.  Jackie made a Silence of the Lambs type egg.

And Carla made an egg, then named it and said she was going to give it its own seat on the way home on the train. 

Sunday, after church, we went to Sean and Stacey's where Stacey made one of the most amazing meals ever.  No joke, D-Lish. 

Morgan: I could eat a half gallon of ice cream (in one sitting.)
Carla: No you couldn't.
Stacey: I've done it for sure. Just sat in the back seat on the way back from .... and ate the whole thing. Easy.

Kyle: Can you ask Nana to tape super girl?
Me: Okay
Nana: His brothers don't like super girl. He just likes to watch his brothers have to watch it.

After dinner on Easter we were all chatting.  Sean started talking about the economy and what was wrong in America. So then I asked if he was voting for Trump... which created a whole big conversation.  That's when I turned to Mr L and said, "Okay now you ask about religion." 

Some epic pics of my nieces and nephews - including the "gangster" version in their Easter finery. 

All in all, a super awesome weekend. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

What if it's an Elephant?

Update 3/14 - 3/20

Started the week out by getting an early birthday present from my parents.  My mom had called me about it a couple of weeks before.

Momela: Your dad thinks I should tell you about the present I'm getting you.
Me: But then it won't be a surprise!
Frita: What if it's an Elephant?

Momela proved once again that she knows me perfectly because she got me the perfect kitchen table.  It's the perfect color.  And it goes from real small, to card table sized, to a nice big table in case I decide to have a dinner party.  It really is awesome.  And what is even more perfect is that Lucas was there when it arrived so he could help me unbox it because it was also incredibly heavy.  Here are some pictures so you can see how truly swell it is.

Weirdly, I've spent a lot of St. Patrick's Day's working in LA, this year was no different.  I actually kind of felt bad because I hired this new guy who went to Orientation on Monday, his first day was Tuesday, and then I had him fly to LA on Wednesday, and his Birthday was Thursday and to top it all of he absolutely hates flying.  I got him some presents for the plane, but I don't think that made up for the fact that we just barely made the flight so he didn't have time to take some relaxing shots before getting on the plane. 

We went out Wednesday night to this bar in the middle of a hockey rink.  It was super weird, but fun to hang out with co-workers.  Then I had to be in a meeting all day, being one of the only one's wearing green.  Good thing I got to look at a lot of rad toys, or else would have been totally lame.  As a reward for all that meeting, I got to put this Hot Wheel down a track on my way out. 

When I picked up Percy from his play date with Riley, he was super happy to see me. This is not unusual.  What was unusual was that Pete and Sandy who was watching them were kind of insulted by how happy he was because they took that as meaning he wasn't happy hanging with them.  I don't think that's true at all.  I just think he really really likes me.

The following day, my other coworker decided to make me laugh uncontrollably by putting this outfit on.

And then something happened over the weekend I'm sure - but I'm also sure it was me going to the dog park and then chilling. :)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Let it Ride

Hi Friend,

Update 3/7 - 3/13

Sadly, I have no idea who I was with when this was said, but I think it's still funny on its own.

Whoa I'm a Native American I make the deals.

Instead of going somewhere this week, we had a partner in town for two days.  The rest of the week was pretty run of the mill.  I hung out with Zach on Friday night, catching up on Elementary.  Then on Saturday I asked someone to come and clean my place.  She stayed for 5 hours and moved all of my furniture, pictures, and other stuff around.  Some of it, I still haven't moved back, but others is more of a tug of war of a sort.  I spent most of that  time at the park, at Zach's and hanging out with Lucas.  Later that evening, I also lost power so it was a little weird when I had to move all of my candles back into the living room and had a serious search to find my lanterns. 

I also met up with Nater for his birthday at some bar I've never been to. The bartender preached to us though, all while I was drinking something delightfully fruity. 

(Looking at the dates...It's possible I accidentally switched my weekends and I'm describing last week... and the last update was this week - but I can't fix it now!)

Lucas: Let it Ride might be one of my favorite movies.
Me: I'm scared to ask what else is on the list
Lucas: Uh Casablanca, citizen cane ...

Lucas, Zach and I all ended up watching Let It Ride, even though they told me how it ends.  Honestly, I think because I knew how it ended I was able to enjoy it without stress. 

Lucas: That's why I don't like goose and duck.  It's so greasy and fatty.  Plus they're always patting you on the head.

More soon!

Dallas Day Trip

Update 2/29 – 3/6

This was the week I switched it up and went to Dallas for work.  We stayed in a hotel that had made all the rooms look like NY lofts, which was pretty rad.  Plus, there was a swing in the lobby.  The trip felt very successful.  The partner I was meeting with said that they always get sandwiches and salads for lunch when people come to visit.  Even when my boss and stopped by a month before, he had sandwiches and salads.  But when I came to visit, they got fried chicken.  I took that as a compliment because obviously they felt like they were comfortable enough with me to eat a food that you have to rip apart with your hands and teeth.  One of the guys there said that they always bring first dates to fried chicken because it says a lot about a girl.  I hope I passed the “first date” test!

Lucas had a pretty rough week because he broke up with his girlfriend so all weekend we were in operation cheer up mode.  Apparently, to Lucas, that means watching a lot of movies.  Zach came over for dinner when we made meatless tacos (and then was surprised when there was no meat.)  I told Zach that Luke was going through his, “I’m going into the film business” phase.  Zach agreed, as many of the movies were the same ones I watched with Zach when he was going through the same phase.  He separated them into classic and actually good movies.  We watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Godfather, Mr. Smith Goes to Town, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind – you know, the usual.  Percy was less than impressed.

More soon – 

Bring your Bro to Work Day

Update 2/22 – 2/28

So how is this for an update – the only cool thing that happened as that my brother Sean came to visit.  Obviously that is WAY cool and plenty for an update, even if it was just for a couple of hours.  It was actually really rad because Sean and Raymond came to my office and I took them around to see where I work (you know, at the mall.)  And then they followed me home, including picking up Percy from day care, so they totally got a feel for my everyday life.  I showed off my new home and then we met Michelle, Ashley, Nicki & Zach for dinner.  We got to chat for a beat after dinner, and Becky stopped by too.  It was really the highlight of my week, to be sure. 

Me: Why did you rent a gigantic pick up truck?
Sean: Well, the guy I was here with was a Marine, so I definitely wasn’t going to rent a Chevy Spark.

Other than that, there was a lot of working and when I wasn’t working I was watching TV while I built a bunch of shelving units.   Jealous, right? J

More soon,

Two Dogs and a Funeral

Update 2/15 - 2/21

It was my mom's birthday on Monday.  I was really thankful that I was able to spend the day with her, even if it was under sad circumstances.  I gave her a bunch of pictures of me from India, I'm sure that was on top of her wish list. :)  Patrick II gave her a card that said, "Enjoy doing everything you want while you can."  We laughed at the truth in those words.   We went to dinner at that cute restaurant again, but this time Leslie joined us.  Leslie and Bill just got back from vacation so we got to get all caught up!

I spent the evening with my sister in my grandparents old room.  I was reminded of the time that we forgot to tell Stacey to pack shorts the first time she came to Christmas in Chicago.  Mainly because it was so hot at night that I would take Percy out for walks in the middle of the night just to cool down. 

My mom apologized for waking us up the night before with her loud argument with Aunt Maureen.  Mo and I hadn't heard anything.

Mo: Patrick, what did you hear?
Patrick: I heard Aunt Maureen say something and then Nana explain to her why she was wrong.

I also caused a bit of a ruckus with the fam, but I genuinely think I ended up helping, even if Uncle Bill ended up calling me Trouble for the rest of the week.  I forgot to tell you this one story from when I was talking to Zach at the park, but I told it to Dawne to cheer her up, so I'll tell you now. 

Zach: Did you get Mom's text asking us to do something?
Me: Nope, actually, she's not my mom, so maybe that's why I didn't get that text.
Zach: Oh man! It's just me and Nater so I'm definitely going to have to do it.
Me: What do you need to get.
Zach: Mom's good coat and Dad's suit and coat.
Me: Oh, you know your mom likes to wear her fur in Chicago.
Kelly: How are you going to pack that?
Me: I guess you're just going to have to wear it.

Dawne: I didn't mean my fur coat.
Me: I know that! You were talking about your black one - but this is so much more fun, let's see how it plays out shall we?

Zach ended up just taking an extra suit case so he doesn't think this is funny story, but I do, and I'm the one writing. 

My cousin Julia and Martin from Germany were in town, and I it was really great seeing them.  I even tried teaching Kevin some choice German phrases to share with her.  A couple of us drove down to see Aunt Audrye and my cousin Bill and Sean were also available for lunch.  Aunt Audrye assumed that we were going to TGIFriday's because that's the only place my Aunt Maureen likes, so when Aunt Maureen didn't come she literally had no idea what to suggest.  We ended up at IHOP, which I thought was appropriate because that is an Uncle Ray approved restaurant.  That's when I found out my Aunt Audrye's diet.  Mind you she is the eldest sibling and looks amazing.

Aunt Audrye: I don't drink water, never have.  Those people who say you have to drink 8 glasses of water to survive are lying because I only drink coffee.  I have a chocolate donut for breakfast with a cup of coffee.  And then I have Sour patch kids for lunch - and I don't put a limit on them, I eat as many as I want.
Mo: Doesn't that hurt the roof of your mouth?
Aunt Audrye: Nope - I must have a callous.  And then for dinner I have some ice cream and good n plenty's.   Sometime I decide to have a microwave meal, so I have one fork, knife and spoon - but that's it.  I don't need extra silverware cluttering up my kitchen. 

I adore her.  :)

We all went to Uncle Bill's for lunch before the Memorial.  On our way over, Maureen turned to me in the car and said, "I know today is going to be really hard for you, so if you need me let me know."  I said, or maybe I just thought, "Why me? I thought we were all going to be miserable?" 

Later in the day, I was talking about how Grandpa used to write all of his recipes using things like "Handful" of this, only his hands were definitely bigger than mine.  Lucas replied helpfully, "At least it wasn't a mouthful."

Me (whispering): Dawne, which one is Amy and which one is Kara?
Dawne: Hey! Which one are you?
Me: I could have done that. 

It was really great seeing everyone - we even took a group shot.  I think mostly we did this to emphasize that even on a step or two above my cousins, I'm still embarrassingly short.  Aunt Audrye hid in the kitchen for this by the way, so you might never know a person who lives on sugar and coffee alone looks like.

I was going to bring Percy back to Aunt Maureen's before going to the memorial, but Dawne told me that she specifically told the funeral home that there would be 2 dogs in attendance. 

When we got there, we totally all fell apart.  We were a blubbering mess. 

Bill: What happened?  We were all happy 20 minutes ago and now...
Me: I know and I can't make it stop.

Pam: Shorty looks really good! She must be like 20 now...
Me: She does look good, but that's actually the 4th Shorty.

I met up with Dawne's friend's son Matt who is a professional UFC. 
Me: I heard you're looking for your Rocky.
Matt: No, I'm looking for Apollo.
Me: No... aren't you looking for someone to fight because no one will? 
Matt: Yeah...
Me: So you're looking for your Rocky. 
Matt: Well I don't want to lose.
Me: Rocky lost in the first movie...
And this is when I realized not only was I at funeral, but I was fight with an ultimate fighting champion...
Me: anyway, good to see you! Gotta run!

We played a lot of Canasta while I was in Chicago.  After the memorial, the boys tried to teach Lucas how to play and he just kept saying, "Oh, I see. That’s a Canas-don't."

We shared a lot more stories about Uncle Ray - although one of my favorites was when Teri, Dawne's BFF yelled from the back of the room, "Dawne! Where's Dawne? Come on, let's tell everyone the story about how your dad saved my life."  And with Teri's help, Dawne was able to talk about her dad. 

Here are some more that I shared:

We went to Spazzo’s the other night upon Luke’s request. My two uncles were not pleased with their meals, though one was significantly more vocal on the subject.
Uncle Bill: Ray, would you like to not like my Pizza?
Uncle Ray: No, I’ll just eat something when I get home.
Susan (to Aunt Pat): Is your kitchen open late?

After Uncle Ray did try and disliked the pizza: That is the worst pizza EVER.
Me: It’s less of a pizza than flat bread.
Uncle Ray: I hate flatbread.
Lucas: That will be on his tombstone “Will always be remembered for his hatred of flatbread.”

The next morning at IHOP, Uncle Bill said to Uncle Ray, “This is uncomfortable.  I bought a gift certificate to Spazzo’s.  Are you not going to use it?”

Zach: Slept in mom and dad’s bed last night.  I don’t know what their sheets are made of but it feels like unicorn skin.
Uncle Ray: Those sheets are so expensive.  I think they are 3 or 4 hundred dollars for sheets!
Zach: Well, of course they are!  Think of all the unicorns they had to kill to make them.

(Friday Morning)
Me: Okay guys.  Check ya later! Have a great day!
Lucas: Where are you going?
Me: Work.
Lucas: I thought it was Saturday.
Uncle Ray: I’m with you Luke.  I had no idea why she would be going to work on Saturday.

Saturday morning, Uncle Ray asked Lucas how his night was, but he was almost giggling (if Uncle Ray giggled) when he asked.
Lucas: Fine…why?
Uncle Ray:  You came into our room from the outside door, asking where your mom was. Grandma said you were sleep walking, but I didn’t think you were.
Lucas: Def. sleep walking.  I don’t remember that at all. At least I had clothes on, right?
Me and Jordan simultaneously: RIGHT!?

Zach: You know, even though I hated that environmental weather class, I learned a lot of information that I’ll never use.
Uncle Ray: What do you mean?  You just used it!
Me: I took a Film Noir class in college.
Jordan:  That would be helpful if you were working for me right now. 
Me: But I’m not.
Uncle Ray: Why would you take a film noir class?
Dawne:  It was a part of her major.  I just wanted my dad to know weren't a f*ck up.
Jordan: I think you meant “wasn’t always a f*ck up.”
Me: Thanks?

Lucas made a deal with his grandfather that if he helped remove/cut up the hot tub and help put the new one in, Uncle Ray would help him build a 4’ x 24’ ramp on the sport court.  I told Shane and he said, “I’ll be there the day it’s finished because to show up the day before it was finished is just stupid.”

I almost got into a fight with my Uncle Ray this morning.  I told Matty and he asked “Was it politics? Religion? …” “Worse! Harry Potter!”

Earlier in the week, Zach was coerced into walking at graduation by his grandma.  When his grandpa got on the phone he said, “I’m supposed to tell you to walk, but I don’t really give a sh*t, so I’m probably not the best person for this job.”  He also announced that “Everyone down here are idiots” and couldn’t wait to leave PR and come back to WA.  Until, or course he spends a couple of months here and then he’ll be saying, “Everyone up here are idiots…” We miss you too, Uncle Ray.

Dawne had been thinking about how much she didn't want to live in the brown house on our way to Home Depot.

Dawne:  Maybe if it had hardwood floors so I could breathe.
Me: Sure, that's a reasonable request.
Dawne: But that kitchen, what am I going to do about that?
Me: Um, weren't you the one who designed a house once without a kitchen because "it wasn't that important?"
Dawne: Yeah, but I recognize that people like to sit around in the kitchen and drink coffee in the morning.  And sometimes one person likes to cook some eggs every once in a while, and we like watching that happen. 
Me: In that case, couldn't you just build some seating and remove the table all together and we could sit with our coffee and watch Jordan cook until we were ready to move to the next room?
Dawne: Sure... or we could change everything.

When we got back from Home Depot.
Dawne: I want to put hardwood floors in the brown house and figure out what we can do to the kitchen to make it better.
Uncle Ray: That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard.  You're not even going to leave there, why you would put any work into it.  Seriously, dumb.
Dawne: Right.  So... Dad? You wanna walk down to the brown house and tell me how to fix it?

Ten minutes later, they walk back upstairs.

Me: So?
Uncle Ray: I fixed it.
Me: How?
Uncle Ray: We're going to move two walls.
Me: How long is that going to take?
Uncle Ray: Three Days:
Me: So conceivably, we could finish this before Jordan gets back from his trip?
Dawne: It wouldn't be the first time I removed a wall in a kitchen while he was out of town.

Two days later we were supposed to go to a Regatta, but it got canceled.  Instead, we go to Home Depot and get some tile for my bathroom, come back to the brown house and 15 minutes later, the picture window is removed.

Lucas:  That's great! We're really one with nature now!

And over the course of the day, two external walls were removed.  And then Jordan came home.

The next day I was telling my mom that Uncle Ray instructed me on several occasions that day that "Measuring is for Idiots."
Momela: So.... how big of an idiot were you? 

After we took down the two walls, that's when we thought, hmmm maybe we should move some furniture out of the connecting rooms and cover them with some tarp.  As we were moving these items, I said, "I don't know why we're doing this.  It's only going to take three days."

Taco Bell with Extra Sauce

Update 2/8 – 2/14

On Monday, I contacted my cousins and asked if anyone was in the mood for some Taco Bell with extra sauce and Texas Walker Ranger (favorites of Uncle Ray.)  I even bought a ceremonial Budweiser (that is still in my fridge btw.)

Lucas ended up getting to my place last (even though he’s the one that suggested the early gathering time.)  He did show up with Taco Bell, so we forgave him 
Matty: Give him a break; he did drive to the border. 

We played some game from the Jane Austin books using the sauces as ante.  And I think the loser now has to vote for Trump, now that Uncle isn’t here to vote.  We also lit candles, and shared memories.  He would have hated that, but I think it was lovely.

This convo happened too… and because it says it’s funny, maybe you’ll think it is, even though I have long since lost context.
Gluten free
Chips and salsa 
you already made that joke 
still funny

I had breakfast with Becky at the Redmond Pancake house – which is good, but not nearly as good as the Original Pancake house.  And then I had another last minute trip down to LA.  I asked Zach to watch Percy, and he brought him to class.  I told him he could leave him at his apartment, but Zach just told me, “You know he doesn’t like that.”

I also made arrangements to meet my parents and sister in Chicago on Saturday.  Before we left, I made an appointment to have Percy groomed.  I gave them a picture and everything.  They proceeded to call me three times to tell me they couldn’t do what I wanted.  The conversations went a little like this.

Me: I need you to shave his body, and leave his hair on his legs long. 
Them: But he’s super matted. How often do you bathe him?
Me: I usually groom him every 4 weeks, but he went to long beach and played in the ocean and sand for two weeks and now he’s a mess.
Them: Well, I can’t leave his legs long.
Me: I need you to leave them long, because we are going to Chicago this weekend and I don’t want him to be cold.
Them: Well isn’t he the world traveler
(I didn’t have the heart to tell them that he actually went to Long Beach without me.)

The third call went more like me on the verge of tears begging them to do what I asked before I have a mental breakdown because we have to go to a funeral in Chicago and I just can’t deal with this.  That conversation finally got what I needed.

On Saturday, I met up with Zach, Kelly and Tom at the park.  Kelly tried to get Piper’s attention.
Zach: No one can compete with a good piece of ass. Even with treats. 

Sunday was Valentine’s day, so after church we went to this darling little place for brunch. 

Aunt Mo: remember when you were little and you had to be my valentine and you hated it as much as I did? 

And then we stopped at Jewel to get some food and “Hockey Sticks.”

Mo: I did say if anyone gets hurt they all have to come in
Me: aka “mom says we can't come in until someone gets hurt!”

Mo was also adamantly calling these "hockey sticks" that "I guess you could use for lacrosse if you used your imagination". 

More about Chicago soon – but in the meantime here’s a gem from Becky.

Becky: I dyed my hair right before I came. It was bad, many grays.  So bad that Jared even asked me about it.  I know what he meant, but I game him crap about it anyway.
Lauren: He has a trophy wife, but didn’t realize that he took silver!

Uncle Ray

Update 2/1 – 2/7

I spent this week catching up at work, and then struggling to stay away until 8, which I felt was an appropriate time to go to sleep.  Some days I made it, other, I definitely did not.  So let’s call those 5 days a blur of boring. 

On Friday evening I decided to drink an entire bottle of wine myself and throw myself into cleaning/unpacking my second bedroom.  I called Janette to keep me company while I sorted – and lucky that I did, because it happened that she was coming into town the next day!

On Saturday, I continued to clean and I found a couple of gems like the thong that Julie made me (actually one for each of us) to wear under our gowns for graduation.  I think we had a thing going where we gifted each other random underwear for a while, b/c I also found a bejeweled satin thong that was incredibly heavy for the little amount of fabric that it was made of. 

And then I went to Anderson’s baptism.  It was awesome to see Dr. Rach’s whole family in attendance.  That same family was in the first pew to witness the embarrassing spectacle of me, after 28 years of successfully getting communion, I missed my mouth and almost dropped the body of Christ.  I, thankfully, made a miraculous, albeit awkward save only to look up and see Dr. Rach and her sister cracking up at me. 

Sunday I met up with Janette, Neville and Azalea for about ten minutes – I’ll take what I can get!

It was also Super bowl Sunday, so Kelly and I drove to one of her friend’s house to watch the game.  No sooner did I walk in, did my mom call me with really bad news… My Uncle Ray had died. 

There are no words to say how much I cared about my uncle.  I think it’s safe to say that the next couple of emails are going to be on the sad side, but I’ll sprinkle them with a couple of stories about the man who brought so much wisdom and strength into our lives.  Living with him for 12 years was truly a gift, and I am so thankful that I got to know and love him for so long.  I didn’t just live with Uncle Ray – I talked to him daily over coffee, one of my favorite times of the day.  I got to know the everyday Uncle Ray.  What he really enjoyed, what he hated, what was stupid, what was acceptable.  Uncle Ray would sometimes, take you aside and impart wisdom to just you.  Every time it felt harsh, and abrupt, but also true.  With those chats, he really was trying to get me to help myself be a better person, have a happier life and also showing me how much he really loved me.  I remember when my grandfather died, my sister said how lucky we to hurt this much because we wouldn’t hurt so deeply, if we hadn’t loved so strongly.  I think often how true those words really are. 

And here are some funnier moments because I’m starting to tear up…

Uncle Ray: The thing about driving you crazy Zach, is it's a short trip.

Uncle Ray: I once tried to fix a Carburetor.  We tried everything.  Finally, we looked at the booklet it came with and on the front it said, “When all else fails read these instructions."
Dawne: I guess they know their audience.

Dawne: What happened? 
Uncle Ray: Some moron dropped the pump on my foot.
Jordan: First thing you do is fire that guy. 
Did I mention that Uncle Ray dropped the pump?

Uncle Ray had some surgery to improve his sight that left stitches where his eyebrows had been.  He forgot about this when he went to Costco.  He saw a small child crying on and giving his father a hard time.  Uncle Ray's response was to say to the father, "I'll give you 50 cents for him."  The small child was immediately terrified, stopped crying and ran to his father as his mother tried to contain her laughter in the next aisle over. 

Okay, we started out the week having dinner at Red Robin.  Lucas was ruminating about how he wanted to go skateboarding with his cousin Ashley, and then dreaming about all the awesome skateboarding he'll be doing in California. 

Uncle Ray: You won't have time for that when you're spending all of your time getting straight A's.
Lucas: That's what I was thinking. 
Me: Is that what you were thinking?
Lucas: No, but I'm saying that that is what I'm thinking so we don't have to talk about it.

Uncle Ray came over for dinner while Aunt Pat was on a road trip to Olympia.  I figured I had to cook chicken for the pups anyway, I could go the extra mile and make us some dinner too.  Although, he interpreted that as me feeding him dog food, but it was really delicious and healthy dog food.  I can’t help it if they eat better than we do. 

Great Wall Heroes

Update 1/27 – 1/31

This is the time we went to China.  I know this was actually my “India” trip, but I loved Bejiing.  The first thing we did was go to a “fast food” noodle place and had the most amazing tea.  It was warm and lemony and sweet with honey, and for my sore throat, it was like heaven. 

We got up bright and early the next day and went to the Forbidden City.   

Guide: Only 2 times have they painted Mao’s painting
Zach: Not exactly steady work

When we got inside the Forbidden City, I asked my historically minded cousin some serious questions.
Me: So, is this where Mulan met the Emperor?
Zach: Tiffany.
Me: I mean I know Mushu blew up that one building with fire works… did they end up not rebuilding that?
Zach: Tiffany…
Me: I know, but is it?

The whole place was gorgeous, with totally clear skies.  We found out that the wood columns were actually the most expensive part of the palace.  And then we took a drive to a Jade place to have lunch and I bought a Buddha for Maureen.  And then we drove to the Great Wall to become heroes, in the laziest way possible.

Shutterbug, running out of battery: I need a picture of the Great Wall but I also need one of Col. Sanders.

Guide: Thanks for waiting
Lady: we didn't have a choice.
Guide: put your coat on
Lady: Why?

I walked as far as I could without having a panic attack at how steep everything was.  Seriously magical.  And then we went to a traditional Peking Duck dinner.  After that, we did a little marketing which was not at all what I was expecting.  Zach got some head phones and sheets, so he was very successful.  Then I insisted that we get more tea that that heavenly fast food place before we headed home.

We stopped in LA for a couple of hours to hang out with Dawne and pick up the Percy boy after his own vacation in Long Beach with his mom.  When we got back to Seattle, we went out with Lucas for a bit – which was really nice to just chill for a bit. 

Lucas: was there ever a scooby do villain called scooby don't?

And that’s all I remember!

Minito is my Idol (AKA that time we want to India.)

Update 1/18 - 1/26

I haven't put my pictures together yet, so in an effort to be efficient, here's a link to the top posts, and then I'll follow up with more later. :)

Zach (looking at a carved elephant trinket): Something like this takes so much work and it's spent on something worthless.

A couple getting photographed with the Taj behind them.
Kelly: Shana thinks that is an engagement shoot.
Me: or the first look. Like ever.

Zach: I feel like the Taj Mahal is like if charlie chapman was a building
Shana: what?!

Tom: Bad luck for choosing the wrong gender.

Tom, Kelly, Zach and I went to the Taj at sunrise.  We were driven by a guy who, during the course of the day had 5 different modes of transportation, but was always wearing a beanie that simply had "BOYS" written on it. 

Me: Why don't you go Jimmy those doors open
Zach: alright! That sounds like a great way to get kicked out of the country, but not before a sound beating.

Kelly: that lady was not happy about you disrespecting this place
Zach: sure, but I didn't get kicked out of the country so... Success!

After being followed around by a photographer at the Taj
Tom: that was Zach's muse or rather Zach was his muse Zach; they are afraid of the police bc the police will beat the shit out of you.

Tom: oh look you can buy a book or a spider.
(after seeing a large display case that only had one book and one large spider in it.)

Zach: so I followed the path up and there was a dark corridor with just on guy sitting on a stool with an AK47 and, instead of startling him, I ran out of there so fast.

groaning after posing on our knees
Ebony: You should come work out with me.
Ebony's friend: Negative

Zach: what is he saying?
Guy: if you aren't a licensed photographer I won't just prosecute you I'll beat the shit out of you.

After posing with some more strangers
Me: I don't understand it.
Zach: what's not to understand? We're a freak show.

People were constantly asking us to take pictures with them - but none more than the one and only Shana, whose tattoos and brightly colored hair was a spectacle.  I thought it was simply because everything was so bright, but after talking to one guy, I realized the cost of getting so many tattoos was also a sign of her immense wealth.  The paparazzi was in full force.

Zach rode a camel, as in jumped on a camel mid carriage ride, but I couldn't take a picture because there was a dead body being carried through the street. I'm not complaining, I'm just stating facts.

At one point, Zach left his phone in a car.  I think he would have preferred to lose his wallet.
Kelly: Did Zach get his phone back?
Tom: yeah "Boys" gave it to him.

Zach and I went to Agra fort alone for a late night adventure.  There was a "show" scheduled, but I know we showed up for the wrong time, but because we were there, I think they switched to English.  This was great for us, but ended up causing the other 15 people to leave before the end.

Fellow traveler: You speak English really well. Did you go to an America school?
Young man: No, we have schools in India.

While we were Rathambore, I ended up getting really sick with a fever, so that day I can't say I was in the best mood.  But we did go on Safari.  I really wanted to see a Sloth because I thought that was me keeping my expectations low.  Only, it turns out they don't have sloths, they have sloth bears that are harder to find than tigers. 

Traveler 1: Deer! deer!
Traveler 2: I have those in my backyard.

After looking at a box on the jeep that only had a symbol on it.
Zach: Either Finland or first aid can be found in there.

Kelly: Tom locked me in the courtyard. He said it happened on its own but I still had to climb the wall.

Russian Traveler: Ten percent loss of tourists is normal on every trip.

While visiting a local village:
Guide: What do you think this is?
Traveler: Condoms?
Shana: I didn't say it!
Ram (originally from India): People don't use condoms here!

One family in the village invited us into their home, and made us Chai tea and biscuits.

Shana & Vance danced with one of the older gentlemen
Shana: everyone has that uncle and its him!

Ebony: I think it would be rude to pay for the rest of the biscuits.
Ebony's friend: But if you over pay that's just consumerism.

Ebony's friend: I thought mulberry was a type of hand bag.

Ebony: When I got checked by TSA I counted every single one of my Capri suns to make sure they were all there.

Me (about the people we visited): they seem so happy
Ebony: you would be too if you were home on a Friday.

At one of the stops on the trip:
Ebony: I got a mars bar because life is hard and then you die
Me: And also you wanted a Mars bar.

Ebony: I took my kids to Disney, and it's really hot in July. I didn't care though, I made them keep walking around the park all day now when I ask, You guys want to go to Disney? They reply:
Hells no!

At lunch:
Russian Traveler: I've got good story about soup.  This guy who had put his dad in a nursing home, decided he wanted to do something special for his lonely dad on his 90th birthday. He called an escort service and said, "I want you to give my dad SUPER SEX!" the clerk replied, "I have just the woman." So right after lunch his dad was relaxing in his room watching Jeopardy, when this beautiful woman walked in his room and said, "I'm here to give you super sex" the old man said, "I'll take the soup."

Overheard on the bus by a couple
Husband: Our problem is we have too much family
Wife: We don't have too much family
Husband: Even one person is too much
Wife: We are blessed  

There is no other way to say this, some people in our group are remedial.

We get to this palace with these historically significant metal canisters and Shana in the voice of the count says "two silver pots ha ha ha"

Kelly: I'm excited to see someone else break a bone.
Tom: I've never seen someone break a bone playing cricket.
Me: you've never seen Rhonda play.

Zach: it's always interesting on the wrong side of the road
Me: interesting is a word I wouldn't use.

Tom: I can't wait to do this again but on a motor bike. You can be on the back of my bike
Kelly: I'll just meet you at each city in the world spree bus.
Tom: a day and a half later.
Kelly: I want to tour the country in one of those water pipe engine trucks
Tom: you don't need to get anywhere quickly just loudly and inefficiently.

Oh yeah, I should have mentioned.  When we stopped at the stair well, we were also corralled into a water pipe engine truck and paraded around one of the villages for their amusement, which we totally deserved.

Zach and I were not huge fans of listening to the tour guide, so instead, we listened to a pod cast called "There's no such thing as a Fish."  It was hilarious.  I found out later though, that we might have laughed at some inappropriate moments, like when Som was explaining the caste system.

Som: You look like you'd want to eat in a palace.

We went to this "Palace" hotel, and had a fancy dinner.  That's also when we sat next to Stephen Fry.  I did not ask him if he was going to any good parties, even though I'm sure some of our other travelers would have if they had been with us. 

We also went to a fancy dinner at the Amber Fort & Palace.   Unfortunately we totally didn't time it right so Tom was concerned about the cab driver who was supposed to pick us up and wasn't able to enjoy his meal.  He was pretty upset the following day as well.  I found out much later, actually while we were in the palace at Jaipur, that the reason why he was so upset was because Kelly told him, "Don't be a Rhonda" our least fav person on the trip.  Rough.

Rhonda: "I'll tell you to stop when I want to get out and shop for jewelry"
Som: "And now we'll go out of our way to drop Shana and Vance off"

Tom: Minito (the driver) is my idol
Me; Seriously? He hit a cow twice today.
Tom: Just a tap to get him moving along.

I think I actually started into the next week, and I didn't really explain at all what we did in India.  So here's my quick summary for those who like details.

We went from  Delhi - Agra- Ranthambore - Jaipur to Bejiing (which is the next update.)

We went to Gandhi Smriti, the former residence of Mahatma Gandhi where he spent his last days. Baby Taj, Humayun's tomb & Jamma Mosque and Agra Fort. We had Hi-Tea at Castle Kanota, (a location in the film "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"), Ranthambore National Park for the safari ride, and also a visit to a local village. The Taj Mahal, Amber Fort, where we rode an elephant up to the top of the fort.  And we saw Hawa Mahal in the pink city. We rode a rickshaw, a tuk tuk, and elephant, a jeep, a bus, a camel and a crazy truck bed.  We fed cows for luck, we drank local rum (I think) lots of Indian food, basically had an awesome time.  And I only needed to use me She-pee once!

More on china soon!