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A weekend with family

Posting from HOT-lanta, where it’s actually very pleasant temperatures but very, very dry.  There have been rain sprinkles today and it’s been the first moisture in weeks – they’re fighting wildfires in south Georgia because of the dryness.  There are fears that they could get summer-type storms – bolts of lightning but very little rain, which could make the fire situation worse.  It hasn’t been bad this weekend but apparently the smoke from the fires has been so strong that even in Atlanta, the air quality has been seriously affected.

The flight down yesterday morning was entertaining, complete with an unusually charismatic flight attendant who was cracking jokes and making friends with the passengers the whole way, and a chatty seatmate with an entertaining tendency to say “agriculture” when he meant “architecture”.  The first couple of times he said it, the substitution could be construed in a way that made at least a little sense, so it wasn’t until he mentioned admiring the agriculture of Notre Dame and taking pictures of the interesting agriculture along the Seine in Paris that I felt confident that he was actually making that substitution.  SInce he seemed otherwise reasonably bright, I’m sure he’d be mortified by the error if he ever learned he made it.
I’m here because my brother and I hatched up a plot to surprise my parents with a nice, grown-up style dinner for their 45th anniversary.  Amazing.  Someday I hope to have been happily married for 45 years.  The surprise worked out – J (my brother) called and asked if “we” could take them out to dinner.  My parents assumed that “we” referred to him and his wife and kids, and the plans were set.  Yesterday I flew in, J picked me up at the airport, and we headed straight to my parents’ home.  We stopped off at the local library, where Mom was helping to set up a charity booksale; J sauntered in with me a few steps behind and said “ready to go?” as if she’d known the plan all along.  This, of course, meant she got to take us around to all her friends at the booksale, introducing us and telling everyone about the surprise.  I suspect this is the sort of thing people in her age set are mildly competitive about:  “look how much trouble MY kids go to, to make me happy!” Whatever pleases her… if being dragged around to meet strangers is all she wants, I’ve got an easy Mom.

Then home to pick up Dad, who was similarly pleased – both by my presence and by the reprieve from the expected dinner out with the grandkids.  Poor Dad never really liked kids much to begin with and has gotten more sensitive to their noise and randomness as he ages.  He tries really hard to be patient and non-critical but my nephews are all rambunctious and a bit too young to be expected to remember sedate behavior for very long. 

We took them to Pappadeaux; I felt a little guilty about taking them to a “chain” restaurant but while they’re all over the place in Houston, there’s actually not many of them outside Texas.  So in Georgia it’s a bit less ordinary.  And I was effectively selecting a restaurant from a distance, since J doesn’t get out to restaurants very much and didn’t feel confident about selecting a place.  Pappadeaux was a source of cajun/gulf coast cuisine (Mom and Dad honeymooned in New Orleans) that could be counted on to deliver tasty food at a predictable price range. And in fact it was very yummy, especially with J and I taking charge and making sure that all the treats (yummy crawfish and cheese fondeaux, tossed salad and garlic bread with the entrees, nice drinks) got ordered along with their entrees.  We each ate about 2 peoples’ worth of food.  My grilled salmon and fresh asparagus was fantastic.

Then home for a brief walk in the neighborhood and some relaxation before a long, restful sleep – J and Mom arguing a bit about who got to keep me and J agreeing that Mom could keep me as long as we promised to get up timely and head over to his place for breakfast and a day of family.

Which was also great.  My nephews are good kids, despite the above-mentioned rambunctious… my sister-in-law is a bright, interesting person who’s a little hard to get to know unless you carve out time to spend with her… my brother was obviously craving some bonding time with his little sister… and I got a bit of a kitty fix, since every time I sat down I either got to cuddle Linus the enormous purr machine or Laura the petite and shy tabby who, once she decides you’re safe people, is just as snuggly and friendly as Linus.  We put in a full day then staggered home around 8 for a bite to eat at the local Tex-Mex place (which was surprisingly good, considering we’re in north central Georgia…) and a couple hourse looking at my parents pics from their recent anniversary trip to France.

I’ll fly back tomorrow and get started with the workweek.  I feel exhausted and yet rested in an odd way.  I think it’d been too long since I hung out with my family.  The only downer was that K couldn’t be here – he’d already committed to give talks in Chicago and Nashville over the next few days, so had to fly out this weekend for the start of that adventure.  Next time, we’ll plan a bit further in advance. 

I feel really blessed to have such good family.  A peculiar feeling considering how unsure I am on exactly who or what  is out there to be bestowing such blessings…


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