I made myself get up and get started, though, so I could get to Vivian's before the rest of the family. I SSSed, kissed Robert goodbye, and got on the road by 8:10. I stopped on 64, still on New Bern Avenue, and bought a cup of coffee inside while my gas tank was being filled with $1.87 a gallon gas. That's the first time I've seen it below $1.90 in a long while. I got back on the road, had two sips of that coffee, and was done with it.
I hate driving to Greenville in the morning, and riding back in the evening, which is exactly what happened today. On the way the sun is rising in the east (i.e., in your eyes the whole way), and on the way back it's setting in the west, of course, creating the same nuisance in the opposite direction at the other end of the day.
I stopped at the "Trade" gas station near Vivian and Jeff's house, and bought a roll of film -- 24 exposures for $7.75, which sounded like an outrage to me. Oh well. That's the price for not being prepared. It was "Clark film," which turned me off at first, but I've used Clark's to develop my pictures in the past, so trust them, and then noticed that the developing was included for that price, which may not be so bad.
I got to Vivian and Jeff's at about 9:45. It smelled delicious when I walked in, and Vivian and I started off our giggling and carrying on right away. I ate a little bit of the dip with some Tostitos, as I hadn't had breakfast, and then put it away until the others arrived.
Michael and Cynthia were the first to arrive, and there were hugs and introductions all around. I immediately took a liking to Cynthia, and thought, "She's good for him. She doesn't seem like the type to take any shit from him, which is exactly what he needs." It was also interesting to hear another side of my brother's life that wasn't all doom and gloom.
Speaking of viewpoints, it was interesting while showing Michael pictures of Mom & Dad's 50th, to hear the stories he has preserved over the years about our relatives. It made me think about the significance of "oral histories," and how we've lost a lot in our family. Well, we have Mom's, as she tells the most "stories."
I was astounded to hear my brother say, when pointing to Uncle Rene, "Oh yeah, he worked for the mob."
"The mob?" I said incredulously.
"Of course. How do you think he afforded that huge house he had on a milkman's salary? You think he could afford that working for Hood's?"
How interesting. That had never even occurred to me, but this is a, the, "story" he associates with Uncle Rene. Then, he pointed to Uncle Roland, and told Cynthia, "What I remember about him was the he had a brand new car -- it wasn't a month or so old -- and some cat crawled up in the engine. When he started it, it ruined the engine." I had never even heard this story, yet "this is Uncle Roland" to him.
Mom and Dad arrived shortly after them, and hugs and hellos all around again.
The entire day was comfortable, with no lack of conversation. We had the Macey's Thanksgiving Day Parade on in the background, and eventually a football game came on. We talked about a lot of things, getting to know Cynthia, and she getting to know us -- food, traveling, growing up, etc. Oh yeah, and we talked about turducken, of course.
In the course of those conversations, we learned that she was Jewish, and didn't eat pork, which gave us a little pause, because most of the food we have for Thanksgiving includes "chourico" (Portuguese sausage) in it in some form or other -- the Turkey is cooked with it, the stuffing is made with it, the "Portuguese rice" has some in it... oh yeah, and that big Honey-Baked spiral ham we've got to go along with the turkey... :-) Cynthia was real gracious about it all, saying that since she'd met Mike she has actually had some pork on rare occasions.
We sat down to eat at around 1:00, to a beautifully set table. I got a couple of pictures of it set, empty, and then after we were seated. I sure hope these pictures don't come out with a big black line across the top part of the pictures like some of them did from Greece.
I asked Cynthia if she would be offended if we said a Christian blessing before eating, and Vivian quickly chimed in that she (Cynthia) could add a Jewish one afterwards if she wanted to. "No, no, it's no problem. Please just say your blessing." Gracious. And she actually tasted a small bite of the ham, which she labeled as "too sweet." Michael put a piece of chourico on her place, and she said, "Please get that thing off my plate," to which we all cracked up.
Vivian had thoughtfully planned for leftovers (good idea since we had an 18-pound turkey and a spiral ham for 7 people), by purchasing 10 or so of those Glad plastic containers, which she put out after lining up all of the left over food like a buffet. We each went along and filled "our tubs" with whatever we wanted.
After dessert -- a choice of pumpkin pie, apple pie, and carrot cake -- we cleaned up a little (some of us), and then sat in the living room, some of us talking, some watching football. After about 20 minutes or so, I announced, "I'm going for a walk. Anyone want to go?"
Me, mom, Mike and Cynthia ended up going. Vivian loaned mom and me a jacket, as it had cooled off quite a bit. We got about a quarter of the way around the circle, when mom said, "I'm going to turn back. You guys keep walking." It was very windy, and we were walking against the wind, and she was getting tired. We all turned around, and walked her back to the house. When we got there, Vivian was outside picking up her potted Poinsettia plants, which had been blown over by the wind, and I yelled to her, "We're dropping mom off."
Mike, Cynthia, and I kept walking in the opposite direction, and made the circle. We had good conversation along the way. I remember talking about skiing at one point. She's skied Tahoe before, and said, "Go to Heavenly," which is the place I'm staying at there during Spring Break if all goes as planned. Yippee.
Mom and dad got ready to go at about 3:15, and before they left, I asked Jeff to take a couple of pictures of just our family together -- mom, dad, Mike, Viv, and I. I hope those come out. Dad didn't seem good today. Mom said he's having trouble breathing again, which she's going to have them check when he goes to his next appointment. I'm glad we all got together today.
Mike and Cynthia left shortly after mom and dad, and I gave them about three-quarters of the leftover H&D dip, which Cynthia loved, and left the rest for Vivian and Jeff.
I left shortly after them, and headed west -- into the evening sun. I was tired. Three times I drove to the left, or to the right, depending on which lane I was in, past the solid line indicating the side of the road. I snapped my eyes open each time, though, before I actually ran off the road. "This is not good," I thought, and though of Joe's recent falling asleep at the wheel. "If I see a rest stop, I'm going to pull off," I thought, but I felt certain that there wasn't one.
Just where 264 ends into 64, a pickup truck was smashed head on into a guard rail. Traffic came to a complete stop, and I watched as ambulances and firetrucks arrived, and they worked to pull someone out of the truck, onto a stretcher, and slip them into the ambulance. That kept me awake the rest of the way, which fortunately, wasn't too far.
I was surprised when I pulled into my parking spot at around 5:30 to see Robert's car there. I thought for sure he'd still be at his mom's. He was in the house in the bed, though, which was great, because that's just where I wanted to be - nappage.
We slept until about 8:00, and then contemplated going to Tony's, which I really didn't feel like doing. Robert was gracious, and called him to tell him we weren't coming, and I was glad to hear that there were 10 or 12 people over there, they were on their 7th or 8th bottle of wine, and they were watching Queer as Folk. I was glad to hear that for 3 reasons: 1) it wasn't like there was hardly anyone there, 2) I didn't care to be joining a group of people who were already 8 bottles of wine ahead of us, and 3) neither of us watches Queer as Folk, so happy to miss out on that.
Robert left a little after 11:30, I think, to go to Trailer Park Trash Drag at Flex. I stayed in the bed. He got back at around 2:00, but I didn't hear him come in at all.