Wednesday, June 30, 2004

6/30 Good work day

Got so much done. Worked on a hardcopy newsletter that needed additional pieces. And finished the online newsletter that needs to go live tomorrow. It's fine as is, but am still going to try to find one more article tomorrow.

Met with the VP who liked an idea I surfaced, so that was cool. Ate cake over break, so that was uncool.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

6/29 More of the funeral and more family

What a day. Frank and Katie had coffee ready for me when I got up. Hugged them good-bye and headed to Naperville. I arrived in time to have some great conversations with Barb's brothers and sisters and their families. I love that we grew up together in Quincy and are closer than some siblings. We are really blessed.

Someone told me there were between one and two thousand people yesterday at the visitation. I don't doubt it. And there was more than 500 at the church today for the Mass.

Jacob, a cousin's son, is a very young kid who was being bribed to behave (hey, if it works, don't knock it). If he could keep quiet during the service, Mass and at the cemetary, the family would stop at a toy store on the way home. He was really trying, but was starting to get antsy. I told him I could help. I put my finger on the side of my nose and said, "Every time I do this it means 'be good.' And that will help remind you." Oh, he loved that. I told him this was his special sign. When another cousin tried it later, Jacob remarked, "You can't do that. It's mine. She said." Made me laugh.

My cousin Ann from near Boston and her brother Tim from South Bend arrived in time for the Mass. How wonderful to see both of them. Delightful people. And at the luncheon afterward all the cousins sat at a table and reminisced. And laughed. I was the only one from my family who was able to make it, and I missed my sibs. But it was a long trip for them, and some had just gotten home from Colorado.

Normally, luncheon is served by church volunteers and many many people bring in covered dishes. Because Barb knew that several hundred people would attend, they ended up having a catered meal and it was delicious.

Barb was a rock. She said she was at peace and I believe her. Her sister Susie will stay a few extra days. All her sibs have been so gracious and loving and very supportive of her. Bob (the oldest) and I compared notes on being the oldest in a large family, and a social worker to boot. We have that in common.

I hated to leave, but had CSz practice tonight with my group. The normally 2 hour trip took over 3 1/2 hours because of a bad accident. Thankfully it didn't look like anyone was hurt, but it sure messed up the highway for a long time.

I'm SO LUCKY to be a member of the family I'm in.

Monday, June 28, 2004

6/28 To Chicago for a funeral

I left work early and drove to Naperville for my cousin Joe's funeral. Actually, his wife (Barb) is my blood cousin. But anyone who met Joe felt a kinship with him. It's remarkable that everyone who spoke of him talked about three things--how much he loved his family, his hearty laugh (and concomitant jokes), and how special he made them feel. He had a way of attending to you as if you were the only one there. He really listened (a rare gift). And oh how he laughed.

No wonder the line at visitation at the funeral home went through three viewing rooms and into the hallway, out on the porch, down the stairs and into the parking lot. No wonder that the line stayed that long for hours. No wonder that the visitation was supposed to end at 9 and actually ended after 10:15. No wonder at all, if you knew Joe.

Speaking of laughing--we sure did. Not just at "Joe stories," but because of some music. They played a CD of Josh Grobin, singing My Forever Love. It was superb and so fitting, but before they could turn off the CD, we heard Bob Dylan, "Everybody Must Get Stoned." Omigod we laughed.

I drove to Aurora to stay at Jim and Karen's house (brother and sis-in-law). They were in Florida but her parents were there. Frank and Katie made me feel so welcome, and since they had friends over for bridge, I went to my room, watched a little TV, and snored.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

6/27 Boring yet wonderful

Spent all day inside. Injured my foot last week, and stayed off of it most of the day. Did empty one box and put things away, so I felt productive. Other than that, I made soup and watched TV shows I'd taped.

Such is my life.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

6/26 Summerfest and Strawberry Festival

Picked up Chris at 11 AM. He wanted to go shopping so I took him to Grand Avenue mall. Even though it dowsn't have all the stores of the suburban malls, it's so cool. Old buildings downtown, connected by elevated walkways. He enjoyed it and spent some money. Also got hauled in to do a survey regarding magazines. Had to walk five minutes to get to the office, so of course I teased him about his inability to say no.

Then to Summerfest. We had a really good time. Ate lunch and watched an Xtreme Airshow--snowboards, skis, jumps and trampolines. Very cool. Walked the entire length of the park and listened to different bands. Saw Lee, a friend from my CSz group, and Chris and I went to watch Lee's daughter dance. The kids were so cute. They're coached by the Milwaukee Bucks cheerleaders and we saw them dance as well.

Chris had his first taste of root beer, and frozen custard. An enjoyable experience for him. And of course for me too because I had to enjoy those same things. :)

Listened to some great salsa music, and rock and roll. Took the sky glide back to the start of the Summerfest Grounds. Then off for more shopping.

Took him to Mayfair Mall where he did some major damage. I found two bargains for my sister, but bargains weren't on Chris's mind. He bought some beautiful items.

Then we drove to Cedarburg and met Bill and Joel for the Strawberryfest. I had so much fun (so did Chris). What a super festival. Only problem is that it closes at six and we didn't get there until after five. Next year I will definitely go for the full day. I loved it. Bought my son-in-law a great Christmas present. We ended up stopping at the Stagecoach Inn and the four of us sat and enjoyed drinks. I had Leinenkugel's Honey Weiss--one of my favorites. Then had a Sprecher Root Beer, on tap.

The guys were so entertaining. Could have sat there all night, except I needed to take Chris back to the hotel and then back up north to my house. Dropped him and off, and I was home by 9 PM. Such a super day.

Friday, June 25, 2004

6/25 Work and Christopher

A really busy day, but I got a lot done. Afterward I picked up my friend Christopher from the airport. He's from Tipperary Ireland (Clonmel) and we hired him while I was in the UK. We became friends throughout the hiring process. A nice guy. His wife and son are in France while he's in the US.

CSz is playing at Chris's hotel while their new place is being renovated. So he and I attended the 10 PM show. Chris hadn't seen a match before and couldn't quite get the picture until he saw the show. We had a great time, plus I got to see a few friends I hadn't seen in a while.

Home about midnight...

Thursday, June 24, 2004

6/24 Sad day

Talked to Jill and the kids early in the morning. That was wonderful.

A little later in the morning I found out that one of my cousins died. My cousin Barb's husband (Joe) was only 48 and this was quite a shock. They live in Chicago so I'll be able to go to the funeral.

For some reason the tears kept coming the rest of the day, so I decided to go work at home rather than try to hide my tears at the office.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

6/23 Work and fun

Finished some projects. Got two wonderful articles for the Journal, so am finished with gathering them. Now just have to edit. That's the easy part for me. Oh, and I have to write my editorial.

After work I joined my friend Jeff and we went to the Minor League show at CSz. It was great to see other friends. A few of my former classmates made it to the Minors. I'm happy for them. Wish I could have auditioned also, but it happened when I was still gone. I also saw one of my instructors, who's one of my favorite Players. Nice to see Dick too, who's the owner and founder of CSz.

The crowd was very small and one guy was drunk before the show started. Dick finally went to the front row, motioned for the guy to follow him, and made him sit in the back row right next to Dick. Funny. And the guy yelled, "I'm on probation." In spite of myself, I laughed sometimes. But he bugged the hell out of me. The players were trying so hard and he was quite distracting.

Also spoke to Chris, my Irish friend. He's coming to Milwaukee on Friday and will be here a week. I volunteered to be his tour guide and take him to Summerfest and to CSz. My CSz friends said they want to hear his accent... everyone's always trying to improve their accents. :)

Another late night for me. I'm too old for this.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

6/22 More work and lots of play

Have found a few more possibilities for the Journal we're publishing, so I'm feeling pretty confident.

Went for a walk over lunchtime with Bill and Elaine. Enjoyable half-hour. Of course I still ate lunch when I returned. I love walking, but not to replace food. :)

Forgot my earrings and felt naked, so after work stopped and bought a new pair. Then ran by Noodles & Company, picked up spicy udan noodles (makes my mouth water just to think about it), then went to Jeff's. We've formed a CSz Summer League (certainly unofficial). Six of us have committed to meeting weekly and practicing until the new classes begin in September. Then in October or November will be auditions for the Minor Leagues. I'm psyched about that--but nervous too.

Home after 10 PM, so naturally didn't do any work. Notice that I'm developing a pattern? Well, this weekend I will be ABSOLUTELY DEDICATED to unpacking from the UK trip and putting crap away. Tomorrow night I plan to go to a Minor League show. Several friends are playing and I want to support them. Plus it will be fun.

Monday, June 21, 2004

6/21 Work and more work

Finished work on one hardcopy newsletter, and began work on a hardcopy journal and an online newsletter. I love it!

Had lunch with my friend, Bill, and finished the Press Release for CSz.

Later, I caught up transferring notes to the blog and I'm glad that's finished. I hate to be so behind.

Felt so productive today that I didn't do too much when I got home.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

6/20 From Quincy to Milwaukee

Up at 4:30 AM and am tired. When I got to the train station I dropped off Jane's van and they'll pick it up later. Aunt Millie was there dropping off her son and grandson--Tom and Kevin. Before our train left I looked out the window and saw the aforementioned Andrew and yelled out the door, "Are you coming on the train too?" Turned out he dropped off his girlfriend, Ash, who was going home to Chicago. So I found her and talked for a while. Went back to my seat in Business Class and got my "free food." Ordered a bagel with egg and cheese and a coffee. Tasted good.

Needed to work on the press release but decided I needed a nap more. I woke myself up a few times with snores. God, I hate that.

Woke up when a family with two kids sat across from me. Mom read aloud to the kids. My naptime was done.

Tommy came in and we went to the cafe car, sat and visited for a time. Nice reminiscing about younger days and also to re-visit the fun of yesterday. His son, Kevin, was a star for his improvised interpretation of a three-toed sloth.

By the time I got back to Milwaukee, I was exhausted. So I didn't do much work. Mostly just relaxed until it was time for bed.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

6/19 Family Reunion

Up early to prepare for the family reunion. Jane made cole slaw and some other things. Me? I brought olives. Can't believe that's all I brought, I forgot all about making food when I got involved in the games.

Went to the Dollar Store looking for a few trinkets--extra decks of cards, water balloons, a whistle, etc.

Got to the park at 11, lunch was to be at 12. Our family is sponsoring this year so we arranged the tables, cleaned them, and put on tablecoths--secured with tape from the Dollar Store. It was really windy.

Car by car people arrived--what fun! I don't have too many aunts and uncles left so it's a real blessing to be around them. And my many wonderful cousins. Lots of people couldn't make it this time (only 2 of my 5 brothers), but there was still a big crowd.

We visited a little bit and gathered around for grace. I don't know why but I'm always the designated pray-er, and I always include prayers for those not with us, including those who have died. I always think of Mom and Dad, and my little sister Jill, gone so many years.

The the feasting began. The food was superb as usual, although much wasn't vegetarian friendly--German potato salad (with bacon) and a beautiful broccoli salad (with bacon). I still had plenty to eat. There was no bacon in the apple pie.

But the temp was really cool. People went home to change into jeans and jackets. Throughout the day it warmed up nicely especially if we sat in the sun.

After lunch we began the games. It was my turn to lead them. I decided to do non-traditional ones. Early that morning I'd prepared a written game on language. It said, "Think we speak the same language as our friends in the UK? Think again." Then I had a list of words from the UK that were different than what we called the same item. People had to fill in the US version of the UK word. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. We gave out lots of prizes.

Then I led what my nephews call "Jer Games." I've never taken credit for designing these; they're ones I learned in CSz but they're called Jer Games anyway. My family is so strange. The boys always tease me unmercifully about these games but they love to play them. We played What Are You Doing and Story as elimination games. Last person standing won a prize. And I did two sessions of each--one for 12 and under, and one for teenagers and adults. Then we played Countdown just for fun and also a gibberish game. My nephews excel at improvisational comedy games. A few cousins shone as well.

After that we played some of the other games available--a beanbag game, a washer game, and a new one Zylo (Xylo?). There was a huge playground also, so everyone had something to do. Of course some people prefer to talk rather than play games. Go figure.

We then had the auction. Everybody brings items to be auctioned. Some are visible and some are wrapped. The items I brought from the UK, Denmark, France and Sweden were big hits. Everyone that brings an item and everyone that purchases an item gets their name put in for the drawing. The sponsoring family first takes out the money spent to buy the meat for the group and then gives the rest of the money away. It's so much fun. We draw names for $10 and after a while change to $5. The kids are especially excited when we get to this part of the day. I usually win money but didn't this time. Drat.

Then we had a big Euchre Tournament...24 people (12 teams). We drew names out of a hat to determine partners. My niece Kris and I didn't do well. Were probably in the bottom half, but we had a good time. Everyone put in a dollar and the winning team took the pot.

Many new additions to the gathering. Bob's daughter Karen married Matt (the third Matt in the family). They met in Africa serving in the Peace Corps. They're home for a few months and will then go to China to continue their Peace Corps work. A really nice couple. Bob flew to Africa for the wedding. Karen had warned him that the villagers would offer him goat's head to eat and that it was a real honor. If he refused to eat it, it would be the height of disrespect. Bob spent a few months before the wedding asking around about what it tasted like, was it gristly, etc. But he couldn't find anyone who'd ever eaten it. When he arrived in Africa he asked some Peace Corps volunteers about it, and they told him not to worry, he'd live through it, but whatever he did he couldn't refuse to eat it. Bob's a nice guy and wouldn't do anything to offend the people he was visiting in Africa. But he did worry about it.

The day came for the wedding. Karen and Matt were married in the desert. Bob escorted his daughter and they walked a long way to get to the ceremony--I think he said 1/2 mile or so, but by then I'd had a few beers so I can't be sure. The entire village turned out. Wish I'd been able to find out more about the ceremony, it sounds fascinating.

Oh--the goat's head. No such thing was served. Turned out to be a joke Karen played on her dad. Everyone was in on it. I can't wait to find out what Bob does to reciprocate. :)

Another new person was Tom's daughter Colleen's boyfriend John--a really nice guy. Quiet and probably a bit overwhelmed by the group. And Bill's son Andrew's girlfriend Ashley. Quiet and cute. Plus my great-nephew Blake is four months old, so this was his first reunion.

Everyone stayed until 8 PM and by then we'd run out of food. My b-i-l Tim asked if we wanted to stop by for dinner and he'd grill out. I said no thanks. I was already tired and had to get up at 4:30 tomorrow to catch the train. As Jane, Sarah, Jordan and I were driving to Jane's house, Tim called and said the brats were already on the grill and he was cooking a veggie burger for me. So we went over there after all and ate and watched Along Came Polly with Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston. Lightweight but enjoyable.

Got to Jane's around 11. Packed for my trip home. Hugged and kissed everyone good-bye, since I wouldn't see them in the morning.

Friday, June 18, 2004

6/18 Off to Quincy again

Lots to do at work...and I'm so glad.

Got info from CSz so will work on the press release on the train, either coming or going. I'm quite excited about helping. Not only will it be fun but I'll learn a lot. Hope to be able to take off from work so I can attend workshops.

Nichole from work was on the train from Milwaukee and Chicago. She and two girlfriends were going down for an overnight trip to maximize shopping. The train from Chicago to Quincy was supposed to leave at 5:55 but was delayed until 6:45. Meant that instead of getting to Quincy at 10:18 it would be nearer 11 PM.

I took Business Class. A good thing because it was a full house in coach. For $28 more round trip I got two seats plus $4.50 worth of food vouchers and free drinks. I had two seats most of the way but had to share with someone when a mom got on with two kids and it wouldn't have been easy for her to split up with them.

I sat with a woman on the way to visit her daughter in Macomb, her daughter's first apartment and she wanted her mom to visit.

This time was unusual as we had kids running up and down the aisle in business class. My mantra was, "I know it's worse in coach. I know it's worse in coach."

I worked on my games for the family reunion tomorrow. Plus I finished reading a book. I'll write a book review for one of our journals. The book is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. The antagonist is a boy with autism. A riveting novel and funny too while never losing respect for him. A really good book.

The train ended up arriving at 11:20 PM. Unusual to be so late. Jane and Jordan picked me up. We also saw three cousins there. Two of them had been on the train with me but I hadn't seen them. A nice surprise. Will see them again tomorrow at the reunion.

Went to Jane's and immediatelyt to sleep.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

6/17 Friends and relatives

Finished copyediting a huge journal at work. Felt good.

I called an old friend. And another friend called from out of town. So cool to reconnect. Spoke to Jill and the kids via Yahoo and webcam. Pretty cool to see them and hear them...especially to see the kids throwing kisses to Grandma.

Had to iron more and then pack for Quincy. I'll leave tomorrow on the 3 PM train.

Gave Shirley her gift, a scarf from Paris. She worked hard, saving all my plants from certain death in my absence.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

6/16 Unpacking

So busy at work. I love it. Job security.

Lots of rain. Unpacked boxes looking for Shirley's gift. Finally found it in the last box. Isn't that the way? By the time I found it, it was too late to give it to her. Will do it tomorrow.

Ironed. Yes. Me. I ironed.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

6/15 CSz Committee Meeting

Another busy day, but it's payday. Hooray!

After work there was a committee meeting for ComedySportz. We're preparing for the 2004 World Championship to be held in Milwaukee in August. I'm quite excited about it, and even though it will be a lot of work, I'm honored to be on the committee.

We met at Slim's, a bar by the new venue. Jen, Jeff, Lynna and I enjoyed drinks and dinner. (Michele couldn't make it since she just had knee surgery.) After dinner we toured the CSz location. It's awesome and will be a great venue. So much larger than the old place and very well organized. They've done a super job of the design.

Monday, June 14, 2004

6/14 Back to work

My kitchen might be a bit dryer today. I'll continue to blot the water and hold off on the plumber.

Couldn't wait to get back to work. I really missed the place and the people. My office was decorated with welcome-back posters and people wrote notes on the largest one. A wonderful feeling. Then at 10 we had "tea and crumpets." Delicious items to eat...and tons of them, too.

Had a few meetings and then enjoyed lunch with my friend, Nichole. Couldn't give out the candy I'd bought, since Fedex refused to ship it. All I had were mints, since I carried those myself.

A busy day. After work I went home and began the process of opening the boxes that were shipped.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

6/13 From LA to Milwaukee

During the night Kayla had nightmares. I'd wake her up but when she went back to sleep she'd start thrashing, crying and talking. Finally she said, "I miss my mommy and daddy." So I brought her into their room. Normally she sleeps all night in her own room, so maybe my snoring scared her. (Made myself laugh over that one.)

At 5:45 AM Hunter yelled for his Mom but she didn't hear him, so he finally yelled, "Grandma," so I got up with him. He "helped" me finish packing and we had a good amount of time together, which I cherished.

Jill had errands so she didn't take the kids with us to the airport. So I had my crying finished by the time we were underway. I hate leaving them.

The flight went by quickly because I slept. My CSz friend, Jeff, picked me up at the airport. It was good to get home. I found a welome from Shirley (who watered my plants in my absence). She made a sign for my door and wrote a lovely note. And Peggy, who cleaned for me, left a really cute card and a balloon welcoming me. That made coming home even better.

The only bad thing was my kitchen rug was all wet. It must be a leak and I'll hate it if I have to call a plumber.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

6/12 Fun at Joanne's house in the OC

"Time to get up, Grandma." Kayla and I got up early, but Hunter slept until 7:15, a nice bonus for Jill.

Kayla asked Todd for a scrambled egg for breakfast and i just had coffee, preparing myself for the feast at Joanne's.

We left at 9:45 for the 90 minute trip to the OC. Joanne's house is lovely. I'd been there a few tiems before. We got there a little before 11:30 and were the first to arrive. Kayla was ready to go swimming right away but I convinced her to wait until after lunch.

Joanne's daughter, Ria, and grand-daughter, Adrianna, arrived next. Dom and Rocco, the seven month old twins, were running fevers and couldn't make it. Hope to meet them next time. Charlie arrived next and finally--after a bout of horrific traffic--Deb and her sister Iris.

Food--wow--ham/cheese/asparagus roll-ups, tons of cut up veggies (including tomatilloes, my new favorite), declicious dip (Joanne will share recipe), zucchini fritters (omigod), Debbie's squash fritters (omigod again), Deb's dessert chocolate peanut butter cups (ecstasy), chips with fresh guacamole (my mouth is watering just typing), fresh lemonade (I had four glasses), and limoncello (a homemade lemon liqueur). Wow! There's more, I know but I can't type everything or I'll run out and start stuffing my face.

Can you tell I loved the food? So good that I grazed all afternoon and didn't have to eat dinner.

Joanne was so sweet to welcom us to her lovely home. Adrianna and Kayla got along well and all three kids impressed us with how verbal they are. So much fun to interact with.

Before Ria left to go tend to the twins, we got to watch her latest commercial. That was fun.

Jill, Joanne and I swam with the kids. What fun. Joanne had warmed up the pool and the kids loved that.

It was a great day. After swimming Jill relaxed on a chaise lounge, the kids played, and I got to visit with my friends. Deb, Charlie, Joanne, Iris and I had a great conversation. Wish I lived closer to get together more often. I really love these women. And to think, we met on a writers' bb. So cool.

We got to see the uncorrected copy of Deb's latest book--Your Shirt Is Not an Oven Mitt. It's such a fun book (and her 4th). I had a small part in copyediting and am mentioned in the acknowledgements. I'm thrilled with that. (No one would know I'm a good editor by reading this blog, that's for sure.) :)

By the time we got home it was 7 and only a short time before the kids had to go to bed. My last night. Kayla went to bed in my room as usual. I read for a while and then Jill and I spent a long time in an enjoyable conversation. She's such a sweetie.

Friday, June 11, 2004

6/11 Fun with the kids in LA

Up early. Kayla nudged me at 5:40 AM saying, "Grandma, it's time for you to get up." I'd been up earlier anyway. Around 5 Hunter cried and I succumbed to his begging and brought him to his mom and dad's room. Thought I could sleep a little longer, but Kayla would have none of that.

I took Jill to work at 6:40 and then took the kids to Coco's for breakfast. Kayla loves it there because she gets her orange juice in a "to go" coffee cup, "just like Mommy." She also ate eggs, basically a first. She'd tried them a few years ago and declared she didn't like them. Later Todd was surprised that she'd eaten both eggs and tomatoes with me. Ah, the power of grandmahood.

Went home so Hunter could have his morning nap. I did some email work while half-watching Brother Bear with Kayla. Her new favorite movie.

I woke up H at 11:45 since we were going to Chuck E Cheese for lunch. We had a great time there. Had tons of tokens left over from Kayla's 4th b'day party last month. After we ate pizza I was ready to spend all the tokens. But I laughed when the kids only wanted to play on the toys that were free. Went home with a cupful of tokens.

Funniest thing was when I bought them ice cream cones. H stuck his face right in it and kept sucking like it was a giant straw. I took a few pictures when I could stop laughing long enough and when I could convince him to come up for air. He had a faceful of ice cream and when I wiped it, his skin was frozen red. What a sight.

Went home to give them a short nap before picking up Jill at 4. Todd was at the house when we returned. He fed dinner to the kids while Jill and I enjoyed my b'day present to her--manicures and pedicures. Went to a new place in Valencia. Most comfortable chairs ever--chair vibrates while your feet are in a vibrating bath. Absolutely heavenly.

Then Jill and Todd went out for dinner and a comedy club while I got to babysit. God, I lvoe to do that! (Should have recommended they go to the LA ComedySportz. Never even thought of it.)

Kids went to bed at 8 and I watched my favorite TV show--Stargate SG-1. I missed that while in the UK.

Rob and Beata called from Japan--a nice surprise. Can't wait until they move to Chicago.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

6/10 Quincy to LA

Finished packing and got to the airport at 9:30 for a 10:30 flight. That's the nice thing about a small airport. I could have gotten there 20 minutes before the flight and it would have been fine. It wasn't hard saying good-bye this time since I'll be back for a family reunion in nine days.

The flight was uneventful but the arrival was awesome. "Grandma, you're here. I missed you so much." Quickly followed by lots of hugs and kisses. That alone is worth the trip. Both Kayla and Hunter are the cutest! And my daughter Jill looked beautiful as always.

By the time we'd gotten home from LAX it was dinner time. Todd arrived from work and we enjoyed BLTs (me without the B).

Kayla asked if she could sleep with me every night, so when 8 rolled around, I put her to bed in my room. Since I was still on Central Time, I was tired too, and after checking my email I went to bed too. Kayla was sprawled at the bottom. I replaced her on the top of the bed with her head on the pillow and covered her with a sheet. That lasted a moment or two.

Earlier Jill said that when anyone uses that room Kayla tells them that it's my bed. She once told my ex-husband, "Grandpa, you're sleeping in Grandma's bed." Wonder what his wife thought about that.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

6/9 Still More Quincy

Jane went back to work today. I took Jordan and Sarah to visit Blake--our newest family member and my great-nephew. Four months old and adorable. Took lots of pictures.

After lunch we watched the video, Miracle, about the 1980 US Hockey Team. An excellent flick, even though you know how it ends, it still has lots of excitement.

When Jane got off work--she, Pete, Jordan, Sarah, Jan, Tim and I met for dinner at Tony's Old Place. Pizza was buy one, get one free. Couldn't pass it up. It was so good, and I ate way too much, but hell, I'm on vacation.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

6/8 More Quincy

Did some shopping, to the tune of my new favorite song by Barenaked Ladies--"Shopping." Then lunched at the Maid Rite, Quincy's favorite diner. Then Jordan, Sarah and I went to see Harry Potter and Shrek 2. A movie marathon day. I'd previously begged the kids to wait until I got to Quincy to see Harry Potter. It's so much fun to go to the movies with them. Loved both shows.

Went to dinner at Jan and Tim's. Lots of good food. I then showed everyone my pictures from France, Denmark and Sweden. Other than some traditional teasing, I think the clan enjoyed the photos. One brother called my computer pics "the new generation of home movies."

Monday, June 07, 2004

6/7 Quincy

A fun day. After coffee and breakfast we went to Jan and Tim's and drove across the river to the new house they're building. It's really beautiful. As a carpenter, Tim is building it himself. Since Jan's been married to him for 33 years, she's picked up a lot of skills too and helps out when she's not working at the Clinic. Everyone is excited about them getting the home of their dreams. Jan can't wait to host family gatherings, and we can't wait either. They'll have plenty of room for all of us.

Had grilled veggies, grilled potatoes and cottage cheese for dinner. Mmm-mmmm, good.

Watched a little TV, got on the computer, and then snores. (Just read this--sounds like I slept on the computer. LOL.)

Sunday, June 06, 2004

6/6 Last Day of the Walk!

Sunday: I was up every hour on the hour to trek to the Porta-John. I don't feel sick but something I ate didn't agree with me. Yikes. Felt like dragging my sleeping bag to the sidewalk in front of the toilets, but I was afraid people would step on me. :)

Up for good at 4:30. Funny that it felt normal. Cleaned up, packed up, got coffee, and went to work.

Fortunately the day wasn't busy except for one traumatic event. So I was able to greet walkers as they finished their grueling trek. It was especially gratifying to stand with my sister Jane and brother-in-law Tim to greet our sister (and Tim's wife)--Jan. She did so well on the walk and we are incredibly proud of her. The closing ceremony was very moving and elicited tears as it always does.

We quickly gathered our bags and loaded up Tim's truck. A potential mishap was averted when all three sisters screamed, "Tim" at the same time. I was still outside of the truck and both doors of the extended cab were open on my side. A cop motioned for Tim to go, and being a law-abiding citizen he began to do so--not knowing I wasn't in yet. It was scary, but no harm done.

After being on my feet for those long hours I really had "restless legs." Sitting in the backseat with nowhere to move my legs was painful. So I stretched out my legs and put my feet in between Jan and Tim sitting in front. Then I had to endure the taunt of "stinky feet." It was still better than the alternative.

We stopped for a delicious dinner on the way to Quincy, but still the six hour drive seemed interminable.

Super to finally arrive at Jane's house. Pete, Jordan and Sarah were waiting up--it was after 11. We hit the sheets soon after arrival.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

6/5 The Walk

Saturday: Of course I didn't sleep well, a combination of excitement and being in a room with a littl bit of snoring going on. I was informed that I was one of the snorers, but replied that I didn't do it too much because I'd only slept a few hours.

Something cool. My wrist alarm was set for 3:45, but I erred and had it set for weekdays only, so it was lucky that I didn't sleep well since I wouldn't have gotten up on time otherwise. As it was, I jumped out of bed at 3:45 and since I showered last night I was out of the room by 4:10 AM. Tim was up too and walked out of the room with me.

I made it to the Command Center early and was able to enjoy breakfast and coffee prior to working.

When Jan and Jane arrived we were able to get a picture taken together. Plus I got a few pics of Soldiers' Field.

The Opening Ceremonies were as moving as always--raise your hands if you're a breast cancer survivor, if you've lost someone to breast cancer, if you know someone who has breast cancer. All 3,000 people had their hands in the air. Now clasp the hand of someone else--complete the circle. Awesome. As they marched out of the staging area, I thought about the nearly $7 million we raised and how many people it will help. Again this year they're giving out the "every three minutes" ribbons. Every three minutes someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, and in our two days together about 675 people will be diagnosed. So every three minutes designated staff and crew give out a large pink ribbon to one person. Every three minutes until the weekend is over. Powerful. I wear mine proudly. Yep, I was awarded one this morning by my friend Alison. She said it's done randomly, except for this one. She's the staff member who everyone says is my long-lost daughter.

After I was relieved for a few hours break in the afternoon, I set p my tent and my sisters' tent--so they'll have that done when they arrive at the campsite, named the Wellness Village.

The weather turned out to be absolutely perfect. Warm, but not hot. Blue skies. A dy when it's impossible not to smile--no matter how much your feet hurt.

We weren't busy at all until the walkers strted arriving in the afternoon. When the dam burst, it did it with a vengeance. Joann, the staff member with whom I worked, sent me to my tent at 10:15 PM. Even so, that was a very long day. But a damn good one.

Friday, June 04, 2004

6/4 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, Chicago

Friday: Up at 5, that's okay, I'll be up earlier than this for the Avon Walk tomorrow and Sunday. Jim's going to leave work for a while to give me a ride into the city. Unfortunately I can't take the train in because I have too much luggage, I couldn't physically do it.

Jim picked me up at 10:45 and brought me to downtown Chicago. Got to the Loop around 11:30 or so. I was able to check in right away. Neat room with two double beds and two bathrooms. Called Jan and they were 70 miles from Chicago. I walked around and saw some people I knew from last year. Fun. When Jane, Jan and Tim arrived we grabbed their lunch at a Soul Food Deli around the corner. They were later than planned because their car had to undergo inspection by bomb-sniffing dogs, but no one would say why. After the deli, we noticed cops everywhere, surrounding the Hilton, and they'd closed off the streets. VP Cheney was arriving momentarily. As he drove by he waved at us. Even though I don't like the man, or his politics, it was still cool.

Then we registered for the walk. It was very well organized--nearly 3,000 people registered. Jane and I went to our crew meeting and afterward the four of us walked down Michigan Avenue and ate at the Artists' Cafe, same place as last year. It was good! By the time we got back to the Hilton, it was 9. Since I had to get up at 3:45 AM, I was ready for bed.