Thursday, October 12, 2006

Yearly pilgrimage

12 October 2006

I am home after being away for a couple of days - and it feels good to be here.

Both my sister & I are over 50 now. The fact we have parents in good health is a blessing - not to mention, amazing. Every year we visit them, either by driving or by flying. This time, we drove. Actually, I do the driving - as sis does not drive. We left later than usual. My grandson is now 2 years old and we couldn't miss his birthday party (which will be another post). Sis & I left around 5:30pm on Saturday & arrived around 10:30pm at what we call our "half way" point. 10:30pm in Merrillville, Indiana is not exciting. Finding the hotel after 20 minutes of cruising the streets wasn't either.

After we located the hotel, we unloaded a few pieces of luggage and then we located a Dennys and a very friendly waitress (even if she couldn't rustle up a bowl of soup for sis). A word for the wise. Late night traveling does not lend itself well to anything that contains BBQ sauce.

The next morning - beautiful but cold traveling weather. What should have been another four hours of traveling turned into a little under five hours. Another traveling tip ... try to stick to Yahoo map directions as much as possible, no matter how tempting that 'short cut' looks (it probably isn't a short cut anyway - and no doubt it will go through many towns and slow speed limits).

Finally, we arrived in Oshkosh where our folks retired many years ago. Dad is retired Air Force - and they both grew up in Oshkosh. They have a history that we get glimpses of every year. It was only in the last decade or so that I learned that my father grew up living with relatives & orphanages. His large family (12 or 13) was split up - not uncommon during the depression era - and dad never really knew his siblings. This trip we learned that mom and several of her siblings also lived with relatives and in orphanages. She also came from a large family. I am still trying to take that piece of information in.

This year's visit was a little different. My husband flew in on Monday to join us - which was a most interesting tale in itself. Dad learned that the airline definition of "on time" is quite different than the world's definition of "on time". I learned that it's possible to have a decent cappuccino without a Starbucks price and that cappuccinos taste pretty darn good in an airport.

On Tuesday, the four of us went to Oneida for an hour with the slots - again a yearly tradition. Hubby stayed behind for a teleconference. Just as well. I would have hated his witnessing his wife of 35 years totally out of control after winning 35 nickels. Yes, Virginia - there are still nickel slots out there. Sis lost her $2.00, dad won over $55, and I came away with $5.55 more than what I started off with. Dear hubby lost a little under half of what I threw in the slots for him (and yes, I solemnly swear the money he gave me was totally separate from the money I threw in the slots). Mom is still not talking. You can bet that it wasn't more than $3.00. A trip to Michiels restaurant afterwards - where they have the world's best small salad bar and a hot bacon dressing to die for. You bet - another tradition is to stop there for lunch. Oh yes - my first taste of Cream of Cabbage of soup. I have got to get that recipe. Chunks of sausage, cheesy creamy base, potatoes...and of course tender cabbage. Mom & I both took back pieces of broasted chicken for later.

Somewhere along those couple of days, I helped dad pick apples in their backyard. Dad grew a Cortland apple tree from a seed some twelve years ago - and the crop this year was amazing. Standing on a ladder with an 'apple picker' was so much fun. I hope that the inventor made a billion bucks on this invention. Picking apples made me seriously think about our apartment living...for about twenty seconds. Picking apples = upside of having a home. Shoveling snow & raking leaves = downside of having a home.

While there, I laid out squares of flannel for one of my next quilting projects (which my wonderful husband participated in), cut out several blocks, bought a nice portable plastic quilting 'frame' for my current project and bought 1 1/2 yards of cute Christmas print flannel - which I realize now is totally unsuitable for the squares of flannel we laid out earlier. And best of all - went out for a birthday dinner for dad with the added bonus of my niece and her husband joining us. My brother and his wife live in Oshkosh also - and of course they were at the dinner. Some day I will write about my brother - who is quite a guy. His wife is a wonderful woman I'd like to get to know better someday.

Before we departed Oshkosh, dear husband promised aunt Joyce a visit in July for the family reunion - and his traveling home with sis & I made the trip much more enjoyable. Nice to have a chauffeur for most of the trip!

What makes each of us so special is where we came from - and for now, knowing we can go home for awhile makes life that much better & more precious.

Angel45402

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