Friday, November 25, 2005

So Much to be Thankful For

Thanksgiving at my sister & brother-in-law's (Kathy & Bob's) home yesterday was such a great time. This is the first time in a while where everyone in our family was together for Thanksgiving dinner.

We are far from the perfect family, and we've had our spits and spats. But here we all are, after years and years, still together and still enjoying each other's company. We bug each other, and we forgive each other. We do special things for each other, and when you need help, oh man, you can count on this family to stick together and help each other. Holidays can be pretty stressful, everyone knows that, but my family has grown up together and we truly enjoy being together at holidays. I mean, we truly enjoy it, we look forward to it. In a way, it is kind of amazing. How many families with at least 5 kids all get along so well? Mom and Dad have been married more than 50 years, all of us kids are doing well and have great kids of our own & good marriages, with the exception of my sister, JoAnne... but only because her husband, Scott, died from cancer shortly after their first wedding anniversary, more than twenty years ago. He was a great guy, and we all still miss him. We've been missing him longer than we ever knew him. He would have always fit right into this family. Joie never remarried. Sometimes, once you find your soulmate and lose him, that's that. But Joie's doing well and has a good job and a super nice house, with lots of pets.

Like I said, as a family, we're not perfect, but we're damn good. And now for pictures...

After Thanksgiving dinner, and after a bit of a breather, everyone came over to our house to celebrate Joycie's 17th birthday. We had the family birthday party on Thanksgiving because we were all together, though Joycie's birthday is actually on Saturday.

Doesn't Joycie's hair look great?!!! She got it cut and colored on Wednesday evening, and it turned out gorgeous. She wanted her hair to be as dark as her eyebrows. It so fits her. My beautiful, beautiful girl.

Another thing for which I'm thankful is the beautiful snow we got this week. It's now wintertime, and it's beautiful. Kev got up early this morning to go hunting. He should be coming out of the woods soon, and I know he'll be in a good mood. This is hunting weather! My man loves to be in the woods. And I love that about him.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

It's Cabbage Patch Dolls All Over Again

Of course, my daughter wants an iPod nano for her birthday on Saturday. And of course she only just decided this (until just recently, she wanted a guitarlin, and we were going to make a nice day of it and buy it together so she could pick it out, have a nice lunch together... *sigh*).

The iPod nano, expected to be one of the most popular Christmas gift items going this year. Where I live, that means nearly impossible to get your hands on one of 'em. Best Buy all out today, but each store is supposed to get, hold on to your hat, FORTY-FIVE OF THEM. Each store. 45. Whoo-hoo! And they should have them in time for when the store opens the day after Thanksgiving at FIVE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING*. The salesperson (a very nice young man that Joycie would call a hottie) suggested I get there early if I really wanted one by Saturday.

And it was funny, he was talking about how popular the iPod nanos are for Christmas and how getting one will not be easy, yada, yada, yada, and then he seemed so very surprised when I said it was for a birthday gift, not Christmas. What a strange reaction. Um... yes, babies really are born during normal Christmas shopping season. Then when I told him I wanted one by Saturday, I thought he would surely keel over from shock... Surprise! it's a birthday gift, not a Christmas present... Double Surprise!! I need it by Saturday! But he didn't... at that, he just laughed. One of those, ha-ha-yeah-right-that'll-happen laughs. Sorry 'bout yer luck.

*I went shopping the day after Thanksgiving once about 5 years ago and vowed, Never Again. a) I don't really like to shop all that much, b) I hate crowds, & c) I hate standing in line for a half-hour or more just to give someone money for crap that costs too much anyway.

I ended up buying Joyce a $15 iTunes card as a tangible representation of a birthday present should I fail to have an iPod nano in hand to actually wrap by Saturday.

I'm Thankful for My Quick Reflexes

While driving in the city near where I live, one must be constantly on the lookout for minivan-moms. It's not that big of a city, probably around 40,000 to 45,000 population, but I think more than our fair share of the population drives a minivan. Soccer moms and the like, I'm sure. If they're driving behind you, they will likely tailgate. Yesterday during lunch break, I went out to run some errands and immediately as I got on the road, I had a white minivan right on my ass. I get so sick and tired of that. Turns out, that white minivan was a woman I work with... which is pretty common in our town, too. The person driving like a jerk could be someone you know or work with. I learned that lesson back when I was 19 years old and flipped off an old fart that turned out to be one of the managers in the department where I worked. Not good. I don't do that anymore.

Today, I had a dark red minivan cut me off, zipping in between me and this big truck in front of me. I jumped on my brakes and swerved left, avoiding a collision. What the hell. If I had been looking in any other direction, we would have hit. And I discovered that apparently I have an established minivan line, and that chick crossed it. I followed her. It took her a while to realize what I was doing, but then she stopped in the street in a residential neighborhood. I think she realized if she didn't stop, I was going to follow her home and find out where she lives. I'll give 'em one thing, those minivan moms ain't entirely stupid.

So I pulled up next to her and put down the passenger window. An attractive blonde (they're always blonde) woman anywhere from 30 to 50 years old immediately started apologizing. I said, "you know what I'm thankful for?" She looked at me like I was nuts. "I'm thankful for my quick reflexes, otherwise, I would have hit you. This is my daughter's car, so you should be thankful it wasn't her driving. She would have hit you." She apologized again and explained that she suddenly realized she was turning on the wrong street, so she had to get over a lane and she just did it without thinking. I just acknowledged that seems to be a common trait among women who drive minivans, then told her to have a nice Thanksgiving holiday and drive safe, now, y'hear.

Anyway, it made me feel better. I might just have to do that more often.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Things I Do Instead of Laundry

I have a lot of beads. And when I get those 40%-off-one-item coupons from Michaels, I often buy more beads. Last week I bought a package of memory wire. Making bracelets with that stuff is Fun with a capital F! Fantastic, Frivolous Fun!!!

I've been buying glass beads and memory wire so that when Joycie has her upcoming birthday party sleepover, the girls can make memory wire bracelets. Sam and I have made a few bracelets the past couple of days to have examples. And because they're FUN to make.

I made Sam model them for me this morning, which he did so very, very willingly. (Right.) He told me not to put on my blog that those were his arms, so of course, I am. Mama doesn't like to be told what to write on her blog.

Sam has a good eye and he is so creative. When he was a little boy, he used to say that when he grew up he wanted to be a truck-driving-artist. He made the red & pearl, the blue & green with gold, and the hippie (polymer clay beads) bracelets. Beading is relaxing, we sit together and bead and talk. It's FUN! (did I mention that it's FUN??)

What is it About Belize?

Back in 2001, while in the 6th grade, Joycie had to make a mobile for a social studies class. They had to pick a country, find out facts about it and make a visual representation of those facts, incorporating the facts in written format. Joycie chose Belize.

When the kids do projects like that, I decorate my house with them. After a while, we either file them away in their grade box (we keep a storage box for each grade), or I'll put them up in the basement. The Belize mobile stayed out and on the wall in our basement. It's really pretty, and I thought Joycie was super creative with it. Also, at the time, I couldn't remember ever hearing about a country called Belize. Which I thought was pretty amazing, considering I spent 12 years on a job involving a great deal of international work. I could tell you the 2-letter country code for nearly every country in the world. NA Namibia (formerly South-West Africa), LK Sri Lanka, HR Croatia, CH Switzerland... But Belize? Maybe I had heard of Belize, but I didn't remember it. I learned about it, though.

I learned there are a lot of poor people there.

And lately, I keep hearing about Belize. A blog I read has entries about her recent trip there. Joycie found a t-shirt at "Salvo" from Belize (Salvation Army, her & her friends like to go there and buy t-shirts from other people's vacation destinations). It's a really cool t-shirt, like brand new. (It makes me wonder how it ended up at Salvo. Why did the person want to get rid of that beautiful, colorful and nearly new t-shirt? Did the person have an awful time on their trip there? Did the person go there with an ex-boyfriend or ex-husband? Probably more likely the trip-taker bought it for someone and got it a size too small. But that's not very interesting, is it.)

Also, I heard something about Belize on the radio the other day, and it was mentioned on a quiz show on TV. Belize, Belize, Belize, everywhere I go lately, Belize.

I'm Hungry! Hey, Dad!

Yesterday morning I took Sam to his basketball clinic, which was from 10:00-11:20am. Kev is working midnight-12s, so he got home at 8am. Normally I would be up and already through most of a pot of coffee by the time he arrived home, but for some reason I was sound asleep. I had gotten up earlier, around 6am, and let the dog out to pee (and I joined him, well, figuratively speaking), turned the furnace fan off because our house was way the hell too hot (again), fed the dog, fed the cats, and went back to bed. Sam woke me at 9am to remind me that I have to drive him to basketball. 9am! We have to leave at about 9:20am. No shower for me, and coffee to go. Grrr....

No breakfast, either. On the way home, around 11:30am, I was so hungry that I had a headache. It may also have been due to insufficient coffee intake. Sam was talking to me, and I wasn't answering soon enough... so he got a little frustrated with me. I told him to have pity because I was hungry. (He knows from experience that when I'm hungry, I'm not very nice, usually.) So then while he's trying to talk to me, I keep saying, "I'm Hungry! Hey, Dad!". Drove him bananas. I couldn't remember what the boss says, and Sam wouldn't tell me. I have done this off and on for a couple of years, ever since we downloaded this particular game. I drive my kids nuts with it for a while, then I quit, then I'll start up again. They especially love it when I start chanting, "I'm hungry! Hey, Dad! Hot off the grill!" in public.

It's from a game I downloaded a long time ago called Chef T oss (from O maha S teaks). The Dad is grilling and people and animals pop up at picnic tables. You click on people only, and Dad tosses them various meat items from the grill. They talk. Dad says, "Hot off the grill!" and "Cooome and get it!". Mom says, "I'm hungry!". Son, "Hey, Dad!". The baby giggles and coos, and the teenage daughter just laughs. The boss says, "Yakkaty Schmakkaty". (I had to play it, couldn't remember.) I like to pop the mustard and ketchup and watch 'em squirt out with a fart sound. Real entertainment, that.

So this morning, we're having a relaxing time. Kev finally went to bed for the day, Sam was playing with his DS and I was playing with my camera & computer. Sam got up from the lazy boy and said, "I'm hungry." While making himself a bowl of oatmeal, I could hear him saying, "I'm hungry. Hey, Dad. I'm hungry. Hey, Dad." When I followed up with, "Yakkaty, schmakkaty" he groaned... "oh, noooo...."

See what kind of influence I have on my kiddos?!!! heh heh heh

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Pink is the New White

My Joycie was never much of a girlie-girl when she was little, nor was she a devoted tom-boy. She would occasionally put a dress on, but nothing frilly or, God forbid, pink. Her previous aversion to pink became nothing but a memory last year. That was when Joycie was influenced by Mary Anne, her former boyfriend's mom. Mary Anne is one of those very pretty women, who would be beautiful in an old t-shirt and sweat pants, but who always looks great. Mary Anne has that dress sense and the hair, makeup, nail polish, etc. sense that somehow eludes me. You will mostly see me in a bluejeans and tennies, likely wearing a cotton shirt, more often than not, bought in the men's section, because I hate the shiny fabrics and bright colors and odd motifs of shirts in the women's section. Give me a simple blue shirt with a handy pocket for my notes, and made of nice, soft washable cotton. Oh, yeah, and give it to me cheap & make it easy to find, because most of the time, I hate shopping. Once in a blue moon, I like to shop. Mary Anne is a shopper, and now Joycie is, too. My girl loves to shop for clothes. Joycie picked up on Mary Anne's sense of style, and she developed her own, which is wonderful. (*Sigh* I miss Nathan. Can't tell Joycie that, though, she gets ticked at me. I guess I said that too much. I miss Mary Anne, too, and Nathan's dad, Jesse. But I really, really miss Nathan.)

So anyway, I loved Mary Anne's influence on Joycie, and pink is a great color on my girl.

Except, of course, when it's in the eye. Pink eye. Conjunctivitis. Ugh. This past Thursday evening, Joyce's left eye was bothering her, and we thought it was just the problems she had recently with her contacts coming back again. But it is not. It is pink eye. This morning, she woke with a gunked up, swollen eye and in a lot of pain. I had to take Sam to his basketball clinic, so Joycie & I didn't get into the urgent care office until about 12:30pm. After about 3 hours of waiting, seeing the doctor and waiting some more, we were referred to an eye doctor. The eye doctor on call for this weekend is located in another town, about a 40-minute drive. He was great, and spent a lot of time examining Joyce. Constantly using some of that hand sanitizer gel. Conjunctivitis is very contagious, in case you're living in a cave somewhere and don't know that. He told Joycie what behaviors could help her avoid spreading it. Several things she could do, like not share pencils, use a kleenex once and throw it away herself, if she uses a glass or something, to put it in the dishwasher herself, don't share drinks, basically don't touch anything and then let someone else touch it, and don't sneeze or breathe moistly in someone else's face. Too late. She and I already crossed those lines all afternoon...

Wonder how I'll look in pink.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Slip Slidin' Away

OK, I love winter. Good thing I live in Michigan. Although plenty of people I know look at me like I'm some kind of freak when I say that out loud or when I'm happy about a snowfall. There is one thing I do hate about wintertime, though... icy roads. I don't mind driving in snowy, slushy roads, but I hate those icy roads. Especially now that my daughter drives on 'em. Ugh.

So what do I get for my excitement about the snow yesterday? How do I get rewarded by the universe for being the only one at work happy about the snow yesterday? Huh? What do I get? This:

That's me driving 15 mph this morning on a very, very icy road. (Safely taking a picture with my cell phone. Yeah, right.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Skies at Noon

Therz snow in them thar skies...

Come on, baby, give it to me!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Too Much of a Good Thing

Last month, we purchased a wood stove.

It's one of those big units that sits outside and is part of a new heating system for our home. We have a forced air furnace and have paid big bucks to the natural gas company. This new unit converts hot water to heat and works in conjunction with the furnace we have now. It also heats all the water for our hot water heater. It was expensive to purchase and not easy to install. Our brother-in-law, Bob, is a plumber and did all the plumbing/heating when we built our house 11 years ago. Bob, with Kev's help, got this system running for us. Just got it going a couple of days ago, and it's working great. Too great! The house was way too hot yesterday, and it still is this morning. It's about 50 degrees F. outside and super windy, so it's not terribly cold out. Balmy for this time of year. But still... mid-November and I've got a bunch of windows open because the house is too hot.

Kev has to get the thermostat for the wood stove installed yet, and then we'll be able to control the heat better. I think it's gonna be a warm winter...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

My Favorite Tree

My favorite tree in all the world is the huge White Oak tree at my folks' place. The tree is right next to where they built our house, on the side of a hill. When I was a kid, we used to climb all over that tree. One of us would lay on the ends of the long limbs while one or two of the other of us kids would grab a branch and make the tree limb go up and down like some big boat riding the waves. I remember climbing up high into it, one time too far and scared myself half to death climbing back down. It is a huge tree, and some of the branches are pretty far apart. I look up at that tree now and can't believe that I ever had the nerve to climb up it. As the tree has aged, various limbs have broken off &/or died (I'm sure our rides on them didn't help), and my dad has amputated them here and there. Tree climbing and limb riding was banned. Thank goodness, since I wouldn't want to see my kids climb up as high as we used to. Older and wiser equals chicken shit nerves, especially when it could mean death or dismemberment to my kiddos.

Anyway, the tree looks different now, with some of the big limbs gone. But if you had never seen it before now, with all it's previous lower limbs entact, you would not think it looks like it's missing much of anything on it. I took this picture of it this evening with my new camera phone.

When I was 8 years old and approaching my next birthday, all I wanted and begged my mom and dad for was a porch swing. I wanted to hang it in the oak tree. I was the youngest of 5 kids and in the late 1960's, for my folks to spend about $50 on one kid's birthday gift was not common. We just didn't have that kind of money. But I begged and begged. I think a porch swing for a 9-year-old was an unusual birthday desire, and my mom and dad came through. To this day there is a porch swing hanging where we first hung my birthday present.

When you sit in the swing, you overlook the river flats. The river makes a big, wide bend, so the flats are big. That's where the garden is, and next to that is a field where mom and dad used to grow hay. It's still a nice hay field. Near that are pines and further on are spruces that my dad planted. Lots of other trees, too, next to the river. In the spring and summer are always tons of wild flowers. It's a beautiful spot. Sitting in that swing on a hot summer day, catching a breeze and looking at all that beauty... ah...

That old oak tree has so much character to it, and since Mom put a face on him, he's got even more.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Long Post About More Magnets & PEI

Whenever we take a trip, we buy magnets… so there they are on the fridge reminding us daily of some great times we’ve had. For about 2 ½ weeks in the summer of 2003, we took a long road trip. We drove from our home in Michigan to Souris, PEI (Prince Edward Island) in Canada. There we rented a house on the ocean for a week. Our trip wasn’t only the week on PEI, but also the drive to and from. We loves us a road trip.

Since it was such a long drive, we went through a lot of states, as well as a few Canadian provinces. We started by crossing the bridge in Port Huron over into Canada, crossing back over through New York. Stayed in a crappy hotel late the first night.

Made Massachusetts the second night, and stayed a real nice hotel there. Great pool. Found a piece of apple (yes, apple) on the mattress of one of the beds when we turned down the covers for the night. Apples attract ants. Lots and lots of ants. The 2nd room was even nicer. And no ants.

Our 3rd day on the road, we finished up Massachusetts, did a short stint through New Hampshire, then up along Maine’s east coast.

Maine was beautiful, especially the northern part. Lots of signs warning us of moose on the highway, though we never did see one. That was disappointing. Crossed over into New Brunswick, Canada, and made it to Fredericton.

That’s where we stayed the night, at the Lord Beaverbrook Hotel. How could you not want to stay at a hotel called Lord Beaverbrook? It was very nice. Old, but nice. The pool was like some kind of Grecian bath. Tile mosaics extravaganza.

From New Brunswick, we crossed the 8-mile long Confederation Bridge to PEI. I was creeped out by that bridge. I just don’t think that bridges are meant to be EIGHT MILES LONG. Whew.

We tend to buy magnets that remind us of specific things about our trips, so I can’t believe I didn’t find one that had lupines on it. Oh, the lupines! Gorgeous, gorgeous lupines. Miss Rumphius must have visited PEI.

We found the house we rented easily, and it was better than we expected… and we had high expectations. A truly beautiful home in a spectacularly beautiful setting. The red cliffs and blue-gray sea, with the sweeping fields of green patchworked with shades of pink, blue, purple, white and pale yellow lupines. We spent an amazing week there. We didn’t do much of anything amazing, just had a wonderful time. We’d go down the steps to the beach (it was a high cliff) and search for beach glass and shells. A little too cold to actually swim, but we made our little screaming dips in and out of the ocean. Made sand castles with intricate canal systems. We would make our daily trip into “town” (Souris is small), stopping at the fish market for lobster or other catch, at the Beer Store for whatever we were in the mood for (lots of Blue Sapphire gin that week, plus some great PEI wines and Canadian brewskies). We were there the last week of lobster season. I became a pro at cleaning lobster.

The house had a “gourmet kitchen” outfitted with everything. I loved cooking in it. We would also visit the grocery store daily, and then the gas station to rent videos. Buy fresh potatoes at the roadside stands. PEI is famous for their potatoes, with good reason. Great potatoes.

I made a potato chicken casserole dish one night because Joycie had picked up the recipe card at a welcome center. It was excellent. The kids have both asked me to make it since, but I haven’t… I don’t know if I want to spoil the memory of that PEI dinner.

We played board games and watched Wimbledon on TV. Cooked dinner every night together, and ate it with a fire going in the beautiful local stone fireplace. Made necklaces out of the little shells we found. Celebrated 4th of July (not such a big deal in Souris); called family that day. We took a day trip into Charlottetown for a play, “Anne of Green Gables.” We are big fans of Anne.

On our last day at PEI, on the way off the island, we went to Green Gables in Cavendish, to tour the house that inspired the author to write the Anne books. It was quite a ways from our path off the island, but well worth it.

We stayed that night in Maine, stopping late at night and ending up at another awful hotel. Lots of bugs! The next morning, 20 miles down the highway were a half dozen great hotels. So now on road trips, it’s always, don’t stop there, let’s keep going, remember Maine?!!

We mostly took the turnpike back home, making a few stops. I remember a really great seafood lunch before we got away from the East Coast. Stopped in Pennsylvania, but only briefly. Somehow acquired 2 magnets. Heinz because Heinz ketchup has a special place in the hearts of my family members (gotta be Heinz), and who knew it was from Pennsylvania?

And Hershey’s because, why not? Who doesn’t love Hershey’s.

I like the turnpike. I’ve talked with folks that hate it. We play license plate games, and we people watch. I like stopping for the 4th time and hearing Sam say, hey, they were at the last stop we made. Sam likes to sometimes try and get the semis to boop at him.

Our last night on the road was at a Radisson in Utica, New York. Beautiful. Nice pool and great pizza. The next morning, we headed out and hit McDonald’s near the hotel for breakfast. This McDonald’s had one of those 1950’s theme going. We sat in a booth and not too far away was a big corner booth. In that corner booth were 3 or 4 old men. I only remember 2 of them well. They were still arguing in their New York accents when we left. It was hilarious. They were throwing some serious shit at each other, but they just kept on and on with it. You could tell it was a normal morning routine for them. Once they got to cussing at each a little too strong, and Kev turned around in his seat and gave them a look. They apologized for the blue talk in front of the lady and the children. The incongruousness of it just made me laugh all the more… the kids and I were not offended, we were cracking up. I think Kev was the only one frowning at them. He’s so protective.

We had planned another night on the road, but booked on home. Stopped at one last Cracker Barrel for dinner. We love the road trips, and at the end of them, we love arriving back home.

A few days after we got home, Joycie and Sam, while spending the day at Grampa & Gramma’s, each drew a picture for me of the house we rented on PEI. I framed both drawings and hung them on the wall in our living room, along with three small sand dollars we found on that beach that I put in a frame.

I kept a journal of our trip, with all the receipts and other stuff. We’ve looked through that journal/scrapbook and the photo album often. We have lots of reminders of that trip. It was one of our best vacations.

You're Just Jealous

Funny bumper sticker from this morning's drive into work:


Yes... yes, I am.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Happy Birthday, Sam!

Our Sam turned 11 years old this past Friday. We had his family birthday party last night.

On Friday, he took in a great big cake for a school birthday treat, and he had a great day at school. His class had a substitute teacher that day, which kinda bummed him out, but Sam knows the sub and he's nice. The kids acted up a bit, which is pretty normal for the class when a sub is there, so they almost had their special 2nd recess cancelled. It was a gorgeous day outside, so the kids really wanted the 2nd recess... the sub made a big deal about it being Sam's birthday, so he asked Sam if it was ok to go ahead and have the recess anyway due to his birthday. Oh, yeah! Too cool.

Friday evening we went to our high school's playoff football game, which the team won. Some local businesses arranged for spectacular fireworks throughout the game and a big show at the end. Awesome. Sam had a friend come home with us after the game to stay overnight, but before we went home, we all went to Damon's and Sam got put up on one of the big screens for his birthday. He LOVED that.

Sam picked out the festive decorations. He got some great gifts, including a bunch of cash. His Aunt Janet started a tradition of taking the birthday nephew or niece out for dinner and shopping, and Sam is excited about that. I think they're going Tuesday evening. He has close to $200 to spend, which is a LOT of money for us. He's been talking about his birthday shopping with Aunt Janet and saving for it since summertime.

I usually bake birthday cakes, but a couple of years ago, Sam decided he wanted a bought cake. Hey, that's A-OK by me! This year, he went with the Lions football theme. The blue frosting border must have had a healthy dose of food coloring... even getting it on your hands stained blue. Fun with blue frosting!!! Aunt Kathy got the prize.

Dad was a close second, but the photo wasn't focused... I was laughing too much. I think we all snorted blue frosting we laughed so hard! Good times.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Aunt Shirley

My father-in-law is one of 8 children. His dad died years and years ago, and his mom (Kev's Gramma T.) is in her mid-90's and lives in a nursing home. She has health problems, and her mind is gone. Or rather, her memory. Gramma T. doesn't know anyone anymore. One of her daughters died this week, and I wonder if she knows or understands. Sad.

Aunt Shirley was a great woman. Her grandson and Sam were baseball teammates, and Aunt Shirley was at every game. Her husband died about 10 years ago, so it's been just her. She had rheumatoid arthritis, and suffered from it badly. I didn't know it affected major organs, but it does & Aunt Shirley had been dependent upon dialysis for a quite some time. After her dialysis treatments, she always felt funny. She shouldn't have been driving herself to and from them, but she was. My mother-in-law told me that Aunt Shirley had just been talking about how it's probably time she quit that. There's a senior citizen service in town that will arrange for rides for things like that, with volunteers that drive folks and deliver things for people.

This past Saturday, on her way home from dialysis, Aunt Shirley made a left-hand turn off from a busy highway to her driveway, right in the path of oncoming traffic. Her car was hit by a pickup truck, and as it happens, that driver was a young man she knew. He was uninjured, thankfully. Aunt Shirley would have hated it if he had been hurt. She was taken to the hospital, where she died Tuesday morning from her injuries and complications due to kidney failure and heart failure.

Aunt Shirley's funeral was today. No one was prepared for it; she was the first of the 8 kids to die and she died so unexpectedly. It was very difficult to say goodbye to her.

At the funeral, the pastor told some stories and tidbits he had heard from her family over the past couple of days. Aunt Shirley's fingers had gotten very crooked and bent because of the arthritis, and her left hand's fingers were all bent like she was starting to make a fist, except for her middle finger, which was ramrod straight and she couldn't bend it. Once, while driving with Aunt Carolyn, they came to a bridge in town that only one car can cross at a time. They met an oncoming car, and that car stopped and let them go. Aunt Shirley waved her thanks to the man... with her left hand. He waved back at her with his middle finger ramrod straight, too! Confused the heck out of him, I'm sure, since he let them cross first and then to see 2 old, gray-haired ladies in the car with one flipping him off. (Aunt Carolyn got a hoot out of it, I'm sure, but I bet Aunt Shirley felt kinda bad about it.) Too funny!

Aunt Shirley was a geniunely sweet person, and we will miss her so much.