Saturday, October 25, 2014

Steamboat Adventures, Part 1

Raquelle: Here I am, to write up a stupendously scintillating narrative of our recent excursion to the Festival of Riverboats in Louisville, KY. (If you don't know what that is, it's where a bunch of nifty old steamboats have, like, a steamboat reunion and bring potato salad and sit around in lawnchairs in the river and reminisce. Hey, Belle of Cappuccino, you 'member that time we run into a tree snag down in Tucson and like to sunk to death before they plugged up the hole with tobacco barrels?)

Heather: There aren't any riverboat routes in Tucson.

Raquelle: How do YOU know? *looks belligerent*

Heather: Cuz it’s in a DESERT, moron.

Raquelle: Anyhow, about two hundred Civil War reenactors from all over the country attended the event in period dress. That included US and Grandma and Gramps. Grandma and Gramps have been married sixty years this summer and we wanted the trip to be a celebratory vacation for them. Here's a sneak peek of us below, and yes we DO look dashing, don't we? Thanks for mentioning it.

Now, before I go on, I feel the need to insert some sort of dust jacket blurb to Peak Your Interest. It needs some sort of breathtaking plot summary and a bunch of inane leading questions. Let's see:

Raquelle was a striking brunette [that part sounds good, I'll keep that] with a thirst for adventure and ribbon ruching. The steamboats were handsome and dashing, but underneath their glossy veneer lurked A Past. When Raquelle and the steamboats met, it was love at first sight--or was it? Will Raquelle find the thrill her heart yearns for? [We don't exactly know what that thrill is, but it sounds good.] Will Raquelle get to play a calliope? Will Raquelle's cat go on a hunger strike while she's gone? Will the Bad Plumbing Luck that the Sheens can't shake off follow them to Louisville? Will a bird poop on Raquelle's head like one did a Stan Clardy Civil War concert a few years ago? Will Heather figure out that Raquelle is talking exclusively about herself and ignoring everyone else in this blog? Will you REGRET failing to spend $4.95 on this cheesy Penguin Classic cruddy paperback version of Raquelle's adventures? 

There, that sounds pretty perky. I oughtta publish myself on Kindle. I am just. that. good.

Heather: Don’t quit your day job.

Raquelle: Our steamboat adventures actually began about six months before in the sewing room. There, by dint of working night and day and often into the wee hours of the morning, the Sheen ladies churned out 8.5 new dresses, trimmed a hat and three bonnets (mine has a BIRD'S NEST ON IT), made I-don't-remember-how-many-headpieces, trimmed and made a pouche pompadour purse, finished a mantle, made a gazillion shoe rosettes, and I don't remember what else. Raquelle (that's me, in case you've forgotten) was the Dress Mastermind. Most of the new dresses were designed and/or overseen by my bossy fingers. Heather was the Rosette Mastermind and cranked out rosettes and cockades galore. Mom was the Floral and Millinery Mastermind and made all of the headpieces and corsages and almost everything else pertaining to millinery. Dad, being a wise and patient man, stayed out of the whole schmazz and only popped in to periodically compliment the process and recite carefully, "That Looks Nice, Dear."

And Wednesday-Cat obligingly kept us company and purred and curled up in the middle of the dresses in progress whenever possible. 

I know you don't really care about all that, but since I just invested six months of free time into all that sewing, you are going to hear about it whether you want to or not. In fact, I think it all bears repeating. We made 8.5 new dresses, trimmed a hat and three bonnets---

Heather: I know, I know and your bonnet has a BIRD'S NEST ON IT--

Raquelle: Yes, that's right!!! See? Lookee lookee!

Raquelle: And we made I don't-remember-how-many headpieces and--

Heather: Here's a sock. Want a sock?

Raquelle: Why would I want a sock? I have socks.

Heather: For your mouth, I mean. I think your teeth are getting cold, flapping your jaws like that.

Raquelle: Don't insult ME, peasant. I made your evening dress undersleeves, you know.

Heather: I made your shoe rosettes.

Raquelle: I made your red jacket.

Wednesday-Cat: BARF. I made a MESS. How 'bout THAT?

:Raquelle departs to clean up hairball barf:

Heather: One thing you can always count on around here is that a cat will barf at the Critical Moment.

Raquelle: *bounces back in* By the way, let me just crow for a half a sec. We did NOT bring a sewing machine with us to the event. (Some people we know DID. I'm not mentioning names, but I could, so bribe me with chocolate if you don't want it broadcasted publicly. *smirk*) Nor were we sewing the day we left. We finished up EVERYTHING by 11:00 p.m. the night before. I believe this puts us into some sort of elite category. *preens*

We Sheens believe in being Vastly Organized, so we Made Great Plans for how to streamline the event. Heather organized an impressive pile of paperwork and maps into a categorized accordion file. Raquelle printed daily checklists for use on the trip to make sure we brought everything with us on the boat each day. Mom outdid herself organizing outfits and accessories into their appropriate hangup bags. And Dad made the all-important run to KFC the day before to load us up with enough fried chicken to feed six people dinner for several days. We only forgot to check one thing............. wasn't, like, a really BIG thing..............

.................I mean, not exactly............................

...........we forgot to check the geographical location of the Central Time Zone meridian. We were sure that Louisville was an hour earlier than home.

It isn't.

However, we were blissfully unaware of this as Dad scientifically packed the van to the gills. If you've ever traveled with us before (we don't recommend it), you'll know we bring tons of STUFF. This time was no exception. I don't know how many hang-up bags we brought, but we brought at least 25 outfits (really), besides assorted cloaks and wraps. Plus accessories, such as hats, bonnets, walking sticks, parasols, hoops, kits, cats, sacks, wives, HOW many were going to St. Ives???? Plus Heather's cockades and displays. Plus enough food to feed an army. Plus.............why am I telling you all this? It's boring. Never mind.

Heather: It really is boring. And you're never going to finish this blog if you keep prattling like that.

Raquelle: Anyhow, all of that stuff had to be packed JUST SO, so when Heather foolishly tried to retrieve her lunch from the cooler in the back of the van (because I forgot to pack her lunch with everyone else's in the FRONT of the van), she underestimated the precision of the system and foolishly opened the back door without any sort of protective hazmat gear. What a corkbrain. Immediately, as though summoned from afar, the glass vase we'd intended to put Grandma and Gramps' anniversary flowers in, cheerfully popped out of the corner it was wedged into and splintered into a thousand pieces on the ground. Physics at work, right there.


We all LOOKED at each other expressively. I mean, except for me. I was studiously trying to avoid being noticed, since it was my fault for forgetting about Heather's lunch in the first place. *cough*

It was okay, though. We had to gas the van anyway, so we simply picked a gas station next to a Walmart and got a replacement vase. No Sheen vacation is complete without stopping at a Walmart for SOMETHING, so we all felt better that we'd gotten that obligatory stop out of the way right off the bat.

The drive was uneventful. I was on the whole rather thankful that my half-state of exhaustion, induced by late nights and a tiresome cold, made me sleep most of the trip, because I DESPISE driving through the mountains. I have never learned to appreciate the thrill of whizzing down a precipice with a semi on one side and a concrete wall on the other.

Heather: Get a grip. It’s called GREAT SCENERY! Enjoy it!

Somewhere in North Carolina, I think

Raquelle: Yeah, whatever.

We arrived at The Brown Hotel about twenty minutes before Grandma and Gramps. The Brown was built in 1923 and is Very Grand and Very Charming. The only real amenity it lacks is a big, free Hampton-Inn style parking lot. Our oversize van doesn't fit in parking garages, so we opted for the valet parking option. This, coupled with the arduous process of unloading the van, made us form an immediate and close alliance with the patient bellhops, who outdid themselves to be helpful during our stay. We recommend them.

Heather: They never once expressed their (undoubted) stunned amazement at the volume of STUFF we had. However, we still felt the need to explain ourselves and assured them that all that STUFF was for SIX people, not FOUR. “Oh, no big deal,” they said. Which was very polite and inaccurate of them.

Raquelle: We quickly set up a vase of yellow flowers in Grandma and Gramps' room, plus an anniversary goody basket to s'prise them when they arrived.

Then Mom and I started putting away the chaotically-strewn hang-up bags that were making the rooms resemble a poorly managed government-funded construction project. Suddenly, panic struck. We could NOT find Gramps' two 1860s suits. Since they had been made especially for this occasion and formed the bulk of his wardrobe for the weekend, to not have them would be Disastrous In The Extreme. Mom and I began to spaz and paw frantically through all the bags, our stress level climbing faster than the national debt (which grows at $10 million per minute, if you believe Yahoo! Finance. I don't, I think it's more like $15 million). Finally I realized that the suits had fallen off their hangers and were hiding in the bottom of a bag. Ohthankgoodnesstheretheyaremusteatchocolate!!!!!
Crisis averted!!!

Grandma and Gramps arrived next and we gave hugs and said howdys. It was about this time that we made the discovery that, um, Louisville is on Eastern time. Instead of having an extra hour to leisurely unpack, eat supper, and set up Heather's cockade table display at the Meet-and-Greet that evening, we very much time. Heather and I raced downstairs and rapidly set up her table display.

Heather talks about cockades with interested visitors

Browsing visitors soon arrived and Heather had a steady stream of traffic all evening, admiring her original cockades and exploring all the goodies she had for sale. I stood around and tried to answer questions and Look Like A Big Wig.

Heather keeps me fairly up-to-date on all things cockade-related, so it wasn't too hard to Look Knowledegable. She says she wants to hire me, but all the tasks she wants to hire me for are all the things she doesn't want to do. Coincidentally, I don't want to do them either. Besides, she never listens to my advice. I keep trying to get her to start a line of edible cockades with Hershey chocolate bars in the middle and she's like, nope, can't find documentation for that. Hmph. Stickler. So I stick to teaching music lessons.

Heather: That’s cuz your music students HAVE to listen to you. :smirk:

Raquelle: Precisely.

That evening the event hostess, Karen Duffy, called everyone together in the hotel ballroom and gave us an overview of what would happen that weekend and imparted to us some 1860s etiquette tips. I like learning about 1860s etiquette. My favorite Victorian etiquette book is the one with a list of slang no-nos that polite people do NOT say. For instance, did you know it is considered vulgar and unpolished to tell someone that you're depressed by describing yourself as "wamble cropped?" Uh huh, be glad I warned you. It's a social gaffe we're all apt to make.

By the time the Meet-and-Greet wound down, we were all tired. Grandma and Gramps were tired because they had had a two-day drive, besides having just moved to a new town and new house about a week beforehand. I was tired because I had a cold. But, like, I don't know why anybody else was tired. We decided to go to bed before we all got wacky.

So we all went to bed, which I know you don't care about, and eagerly awaited the adventures on the morrow! Stay tuned!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Remember all those inane questions for the dust jacket blurb? You know you want the answers, so make sure you read the next installment. You never know what you might find out..................

Sunday, June 22, 2014

And NOW, the moment you’ve all been waiting for!

(No, silly, not my wedding announcement, I need a guy first, remember? Know anybody?) 

What I mean is, Raquelle is BACK, with the latest greatest adventures from the Family Reunion! Sit back and enjoy DAY TWO!

(oh wait, I just said that)

Highlight: I should say “getting out of bed,” but that’s never a highlight for a non-morning person. However, those who WERE morning people appeared to be deeply enjoying the morning’s breakfast of some kind of waycool fancy omelette thingie.

Lowlight: My stomach wasn’t awake enough for a waycool fancy omelette thingie. I blearily gnawed a cold piece of gluten-free banana bread. The world is a glooby bluggy place in the morning. This is me:

WHOA! Insertion from Heather: You can't just skip over breakfast like that! :iz shocked:

Heather Highlight: The waycool Breakfast Team headed up by the Awesome Uncle Mitch created Amazing Omelettes for us. Notice all those capital letters? That shows my enthusiasm! They were excessively good.

Unca Mitch cooking


Heather Highlight: Also, the breakfast conversation was tremendously fun. Once everyone downed an omelette or two and chugged enough coffee, the entertaining stories started to flow. A fun aspect of our family is that it is LOADED with storytellers. I just about laughed myself sick over Uncle Brian's tales of Varmints In The Woods and Hannah's story of Joshua And The Cheese. :D :D

OK, back to sis.

Highlight: Everyone assured me that the pond was so stuffed with fish, you couldn’t NOT catch one. I’ve always felt deprived and incomplete in life that I have never yet caught a fish, so this made me happy.

Highlight: Tim agreeably promised to take me out to the gazebo overlooking the pond and show me all I needed to know about fishing.

Highlight: Tim was unperturbed by my Extreme Reluctance to whack up a worm and put its dismembered fragments on a hook and obligingly did the dirty work for me.

Highlight: Sheila joined us for a few minutes and overawed me with her ability to whack up aforesaid worm herself and bait her own hook.

Sheila and Tim: Mighty Worm Wackers

Lowlight: Sheila occasionally found relief to the jar the dismembering process afforded her finer feelings by verbalizing the problem. “Ooooh yuck, you can see its guts!” she’d say, or “Eww, it’s still wiggling!” I implored her to keep it to herself. In retrospect, I’m concerned about the long term psychological effects of repressing one’s conscious and subconscious feelings when confronting a scene of harrowing violence to the Oligochaeta subclass, and I hope she doesn’t have any long term emotional traumas from my request. Also, that if she does, she won’t sue me.

Lowlight: Some stinkin’ worm snatched my bait of the hook and ran off with it. Fink! I expostulated loudly and told the nasty fish what I thought of it. (Hint: It wasn’t complimentary.)

Highlight: Sheila explained to me that one of the most fun parts of fishing is talking trash about the fish. I agreed.

Highlight: Tim patiently re-baited my hook. 


Lowlight: It wasn’t an impressive fish. It was a peevish 6-inch blue gill. I threw it back. That is, Tim threw it back. Do I look like the kind of girl who could take a fish off my own hook? Ha-ha-ha! Thank you, next question.

Highlight: Over the course of the next hour or so, I caught THREE MORE FISH!

Lowlight: They were all silly little fish.

Highlight: Of course, I don’t have to tell people that they were silly little fish. I can just swagger around and say, “Who me? Yeah pal, I caught FOUR FISH” and everybody will be, like, awestruck or sompthing.

Lowlight: Dad says I throw a ball like a girl. (I do.) I also cast a fishing rod like a girl. Tim could sent his hook sailing out across the pond, where it would fall in about six miles away. I could only get my hook about six feet away. I mean, on the good tries. I might have caught four fish, but I also caught my own fishing rod, Tim’s fishing rod, AND the gazebo. 

Tim was patient and didn't say the things he was probably thinking about silly dumb gurlz.

Lowlight: I really wanted to catch a giant tuna......Alas! Someday, maybe, when I'm truly reaching for the stars and following my heart............. 

Highlight: Hangin’ out with Tim. He’s a goofball. His sense of humor kept me in stitches.

Lowlight: Watching the rippling water eventually made me slightly seasick, even though I was standing on firm ground. I called it quits and went in. Some seaman I’d make.

Highlight: Elsa and Jason and I went to WALMART. Because, you know, someone must go to Walmart every single day. It is the Law of Reunions. Maybe more than once! Elsa and Jason were in quest of a volleyball, so they could be all active an' stuff. I was in quest of ingredients for banana pudding, so I could get fat an' stuff, I guess. J

Highlight: Aunt Carol caught us on the cell phone at the critical moment when we were JUST about walking out the door at Walmart to inquire if we’d looked at the grocery list on the fridge.

Grocery list? *cough*

Um, so we went back into Walmart and came back laden with Ro-Tel canned tomatoes, peppers, and paper towels. (Trust us, the paper towels give the fajitas extra flavor.)

Lowlight: I signed up for meal clean-up after lunch. What was I thinking????

Highlight: Hannah signed up for clean-up too, so we had fun cleaning up and scrubbing handwash together.

Highlight: After lunch I made banana pudding. Yum! Slurp! Nermy, nermy! (Grandma’s favorite word!)

Lowlight: After lunch, Aunt Sarah had to head for home. We all lined up in a big gaggle and waved goodbye as she beetled off down the driveway.

Highlight: After lunch, Mom and I, armed with six pages of handwritten instructions (no joke) from our local seamstress, undertook to do a fitting with Gramps on the new civilian outfit our friend is sewing for him. (We personally have not ventured into sewing gents’ clothing yet.)

Highlight: Gramps is a patient fella. We kept him at the fitting for about an hour.

Highlight: Gramps is also a handsome fella. He looked dashing.
Yes, the Roberts ARE the backbone of Texas history, 
thank you for asking. 

Highlight: Fitting Grandma for her new ball dress and evening bodice. This went quicker, since I actually knew what I was doing this time.

Highlight:  Grandma is an elegant lady. She looked chawming!

Highlight: I’m ackshually pretty stylish myself. *preen*

Highlight: Did I mention that there are people who actually like to cook in this family? Dinner was DELICIOUS!
Y'know, this is turning into a food blog, not a reunion blog!

Highlight: While the parents sat around after dinner and conferred with Grandma and Gramps on some stuff, all us cousins went for a WALK.

Highlight: I have cool cousins.

Lowlight: Most of my cousins are in better shape than I am. They rapidly outpaced me.

Highlight: Susie and Sheila obligingly dropped back with me and we solved the world’s problems. The Founding Fathers ain't got nothin' on US.

Lowlight: Are we STILL walking? Can we turn around now?

Highlight: Everybody else finally turned around.

Highlight: When we returned, Susie and Tim and I tried our hand at fishing again. I didn’t catch anything this time, not even the gazebo.

Lowlight: The parents had been talking the whole time and hadn’t cleaned the kitchen yet. Can you believe that?!!?!?! Bummer!  

We all pitched in to clean up the mess.

Highlight: After dinner it was time for movie night. That is, time for the slide show of family photographs that Mom and I had spent two bazillion hours on. It was more than a thousand photos. And NO, that’s not a nervous tic you see in my left eyelid, THANKYOUVERYMUCH!

Highlight: First I made two big batches of popcorn. Like, real popcorn, not that partially hydrogenated, framinized and glomminated microwave stuff that causes heart disease, kidney failure, ingrown toenails, and crankiness on Tuesday mornings. We had packed along a great big bag of popcorn, because we ALWAYS bring EVERYTHING, even an EXTRA kitchen sink. Y'know, the essentials.

Lowlight: I think I oversalted it.

Highlight: Everybody ate it anyway.

Highlight: Everyone seemed to enjoy the slideshow. Cries of, “Hey, remember that?” and “Oh, that was at such-and-such!” and “Wow, we were so little then!” peppered the viewing.

Highlight: After the slide show, a bunch of folks headed for bed. Some others stayed up to watch a movie about an action figure named “Mega-Mildew” in a city called “Metro-Citibank” or something like that (I didn’t catch the details). Heather and I were sort of TV-screened out, so we went outside and sat on the stairs overlooking the water, enjoying one of the biggest moons we’ve seen in forever. It was a gorgeous evening. The frogs were singing loudly and the turtles were........wait, I guess turtles don't sing. Too bad, 'cause there were enough great big turtles at this place to have put the Vienna Boys Choir to shame.

Full moon rising over the lodge

Highlight: Going to bed after a long, fun day........

Now don't forget, if you want the REALLY big moment you've all been waiting for (i.e., Raquelle's wedding announcement), you need to interdooce her to somebody, okay?

Stay tuned for Day Three...........

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Atten-SHUN! This, ladies and gentlemen and cats and dogs and praying mantises, is an account of the Texas reunion from the perspective of that Famous Individual, Raquelle Sheen, whose credentials are as follows: 1) Owner of four remarkable cats, 2) Second-oldest grandchild, and 3) Author of the national best-seller “Why People Should Quit Bugging Me About Leaving My Shoes in the Middle of the Floor.”

Prrrrrepare to be amazed................

I will use one of my favorite narrative approaches, the old highlight/lowlight format. Like this:

Highlight: I have a huge bag of M&Ms on my desk
Lowlight: The IRS is demanding a 47% tax on my M&Ms. Stupid crackpot government.

Get the picture? Good. Here we go.

P.S. Not all highlights and lowlights are relevant to the topic, because that’s too conventional. Next thing you know I might start not capitalizing anything either or sumpthing else unconventional that will give Inscrutable Meaning to these, my memoirs.


Highlight: How cool is a 60th anniversary party???!?!? Can’t wait!

Lowlight: It’s a 13.25 hour drive to Mineola, excluding stops.

Lowlight: The Sheens make lots of stops.

Highlight: We left only 15 minutes later than we intended on Sunday morning. Usually it’s 30 minutes, so this was pretty cool. (We refer to this as trying to achieve escape velocity.) The euphoria lasted till at least lunchtime. We felt inclined to nudge the person next to us at the rest stop sink and say, “Hey pal, did you know we only left fifteen minutes late this morning?”

Highlight: There is minimal traffic in Atlanta on Sunday morning.

Lowlight: By the time we were all in the mood for a Dunkin Donuts coolatta, they weren’t listed on the road signs anymore.

Lowlight: We despaired of coolattas and got a round of McDonald’s mocha frappes.........and THEN found a Dunkin Donuts 20 miles later. Alas, too late! We carefully noted the exit, however, for the return trip. Gotta get those yummy iced coffee slurpies!

Highlight: They stopped putting artificial coloring in the tooth-friendly Xylitol chewing gum I buy.

Highlight: We ate supper at a nice picnic table at a rest stop. (Supper was KFC chicken that we’d bought at home the day before to avoid standing in line for 20 minutes at a durn fast food place run by dawdling nincompoops)

Lowlight: It began to rain during supper. We finished eating in the van.

Lowlight: Usually we use travel time to Brainstorm Something. However, we were all too brain dead to brainstorm anything. Too bad. 15 hours in the car and not one single brainstorm. Anyone who tried to brainstorm anything was rapidly quelled by the other three. Conversation degenerated and we began to long for something stimulating.

Highlight: We had good roads and clear weather the whole drive.

Lowlight: I used to have three gray hairs in my bangs. Now I think I’m up to seven.

Lowlight:  We couldn’t find the driveway for the lodge.

Highlight: We found it.

Epic Highlight: Greeting everyone! Arrival time at a reunion is just the funnest thing ever. So many hugs! J

Second Epic Highlight: Having SIXTEEN people swarm to help us unload the van. Wanna travel with us and be our roadies from now on, y’all? That. Was. Awesome.

Lowlight: I am so non-techie that I was using the wrong attachment to blow up my air mattress. It was taking forever. Remind me someday to tell you the story of how I recently thought I was turning off the water main in our latest water crisis and actually only turned off the filter bypass, even though there was a large instruction tag on the water main handle that I had written and affixed MYSELF. Not my best moment. Like, this would be me:

Highlight: Uncle Kent is much more techie than I am and rescued me from myself. He put on the right attachment and blew up both air mattresses in approximately 13.7 seconds.

Highlight: Staying up too late chatting the other night owls for a little while.

Highlight: Going to bed.

Lowlight: That night I dreamed we were trying to set up our reenacting camp on the deck of the Titanic. It was pretty wet. We checked out both ends of the ship and opted for the end with the ankle-deep water instead of the chest-high water. The water made it really inconvenient to set up camp. I don’t recommend it, personally.

Highlight: People in the Roberts family like to cook. Can you believe it? They actually LIKE to cook. I don’t. So I bip out of bed in the morning and like, WOW, people have made BREAKFAST! At home I barely summon up the resolve to scramble an egg for breakfast and I vary this with eating dry cereal. No, seriously.

Highlight: Having a Top Secret Clandestine Meeting with all the cousins upstairs, plotting our role in the party. We stopped just shy of plotting a World Takeover. Consider yourselves fortunate.

Highlight: My cousins are cool.

Highlight: I am also cool.

Highlight: I am also humble.

Highlight: Grandma and Gramps conveniently had an errand at Walmart. While they were gone, me and Uncle Brian and Co. frantically practiced their special music for the party.

Lowlight: There were thunderstorms bashing around all morning.

Highlight: Even though they lost power in town, we did not lose it at the lodge.

Highlight: Sneaking around in Mom and Dad’s room with Mom, Dad, Monica and Aunt Therese, working on party decorations, making sure we didn't forget anything Highly Critical. Balloons, check. Curly ribbon, check. Cake, check. Confetti, check. Kitchen sink, check.

Highlight: Decorating the living room for the party. Me and Tim got our hands on a bunch of streamers and went berserk together. Everybody else went berserk too. Yes, you can hire us for a very reasonable fee of $1789.43 per event.

Lowlight: My toenail polish chipped two days ago for no good reason. *miffed*

Lowlight: Realizing I’d forgotten to pack the jewelry I meant to wear with my dress.

Lowlight: Finding the jewelry the next day and realizing I’d forgotten that I hadn’t forgotten. Crud.

Highlight: This crowd is a good-lookin’ bunch of people. As Mamaw always said, “There’s not an ugly one in the bunch.” Not in our bunch, anyhow. ‘Cept maybe Uncle Mitch.

(Fine print: I don’t really mean it, it’s just a test to see if he actually reads this.)

Highlight: Making a big whoop-de-do as Grandma and Gramps came downstairs, duly escorted by some of their esteemed grandchildren.

Highlight: My grandparents have been married 60 years. That's spectacular!!!!!!!!!!!!! My grandparents are mighty cool, yessiree.

Highlight: Watching all my waycool cousins do a waycool talent show for the party. Crikey, I had no idea that Monica and Steven and Susie and Sheila could sing like that! And the memories that the other cousins shared were hilarious. I especially got tickled at the one about Jason informing his first (second?) grade teacher that Lincoln was LIAR. 

Highlight: Enjoying all the party fol-de-rol for the next couple of hours.

Lowlight: The guy cousins, aided and abetted by several uncles, shot nerf guns at us from the balcony. Can you believe it??!?!?! Outrageous! Dastardly! Finks! 

Highlight: They tried to shoot down a balloon that escaped up the two-story ceiling and missed it. The nerf stuck in the rafter. I'm sure this was what Aunt Carol was thinking..........

(Epilogue: The nerf was later removed with a long fishing pole.)

Lowlight: It was dinner time. Cook? Somebody has to cook?

Repeated highlight: People in the Roberts family ACTUALLY LIKE TO COOK! A crew of talented chefs whomped up a delicious meal for everyone. Holy cats. I’m stayin’ here all my life!

I'll do it! I'll cook supper! 

Highlight: Listening to Heather and Monica jam together on the keyboard and sax.

Lowlight: Uncle Kent, Monica, and Steven had to head out for home. Bummer.

Highlight: Per tradition, I called Steven a pipsqueak when I hugged him goodbye, a term which isn't even slightly applicable anymore since he towers over me. However, he grinned and said he didn't mind. 

Highlight: Having a traditional Roberts sing-along that evening. Man, I’ve missed all those times of sitting around singing with Uncle Mark’s guitar. When we were little kids in California, we used to do that a lot. And then Heather and I would have to go to bed, but we’d get out of bed and sneak into the hallway and listen to the music continue while we hid behind the hallway door. We usually got caught and got in trouble, but it was worth it.

Highlight: We all enjoy good ole traditional favorites, which is great fun. None of this, “I know, let’s sing My Life Is A Epic Tragedy And I Have Angst And Also My Bologna Samwich Rotted tedious pop stuff.

Highlight: Recycling traditional nonsense songs, including, but not limited to, “Don’t Take Your Cats to Town,” and “It Ain’t Me, Cat,” and the ballad about ole butter-fingered what's-his-name, whose talents including drawing pictures of a cow when he was SUPPOSED to be drawing a gun. (Easy mistake, I’ve made it myself.)

Highlight: Learning “All God’s Creatures Got a Place in the Choir” from Uncle Mark and Jason. A new favorite for me. You can hear the official version here: but I prefer hearing Uncle Mark and Jason sing it.

Highlight: This family has a powerful lot of good voices. I haven’t heard the cousins sing much so it was great fun to hear ‘em. Yowsers, Susie and Sheila can harm-o-NIZE!!!!

Lowlight: That’s TWICE I’ve tried to kill the obnoxious mosquito buzzing around my computer and twice I’ve missed him. I throw a ball like a girl, I blow up an air mattress like a girl, and I kill mosquitoes like a girl. *sigh*

Highlight: I did NOT dream about the Titanic when I went to bed that night.

Stay tuned for more................