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................