Back from Sumter

Lisa and I just got back from Sumter, SC, where we helped celebrate my parents’ 50th Anniversary. I think it says something that I saw this event as inevitable and so many others see it as extraordinary, but I don’t know what, exactly, is being said. In any case, my folks seemed pleased with what their kids cooked up for them, so we can chalk this one up in the “success” column.

We put Sasha into Soos Creek Kennel on Thursday night. This was not a perfunctory event – no, there was gnashing of teeth and rending of garb for both of us as we pondered the options. It turns out, we’re doting parents. Who’da thunk? I even floated the idea of taking her with us, but Lisa wisely pointed out that two round-trip flights, with layovers, was far more stress than Sasha would experience hanging out in her run for 4-ish days. So, into the kennel she went, along with her squidgy, he medicine ball, a bone, and one of her Chuck-It balls. We shall return to this point later.

The humans got going at 0-dark-thirty the next morning, settling in to our 6:30AM departure from SeaTac. The day of traveling was without incident, including our 3-hour layover in Chicago and the ~3-hour drive from Charlotte to Sumter, SC. It turned out that Lisa even knew where to get quality food in O’Hare and, coincidence of coincidences, our gate was 2 down from it! For the record, we got paninis at Tapenade, and they were nummy. We got to Sumter by about 10:00PM local time. Linda and her family were already there, so Lisa got to meet the last of my sibs (she and Ed met a couple years ago when we last visited the homestead). Hawkeye and Johnny were very sweet, taking to Lisa immediately. For that matter, so did Dave and Linda, but I guess I trusted the adults to recognize my genius in selecting a mate. :p

Saturday was the one full day of Caskermania!!!!(tm)(c) and Lisa got a double-barrel dose of it. Actually, she managed to sleep in a bit first (which if you know Lisa, you know is a wonder), but we were all up and at ’em by 9:30 or so. Hawkeye is talk-a-tive, but since we don’t see him very often he didn’t bother us like he apparently can some folks. Mostly we thought he and Johnny were charming, even as they conned Lisa in to upping the egg count from 4 to 10 as she prepared a morning scramble. The middle of the day was all socializing, all the time, especially once Uncle Frank popped in, followed thereafter by my brother Ed, and his wife Lydia and son Ian. Ian and Hawkeye and Johnny all get along great, so the adults were able to chat while the kids went out into the yard and climbed trees, chased cats, etc… I swear, very Twain (in a good way).

(A lasting memory of the trip has to be Hawkeye, singing in the shower “I aaaaam squeak-ee – cleeeeeeeeeaaaaaan! I aaaaam squeak-ee – cleeeeeeeaaaaaaaan!” over and over again..)

The evening’s festivities went like so: The family assembled at 5:00PM at Jeffcoat Photography. There we had a portrait of the entire family made, as well as some breakouts of the individual family groups, the grandkids, and so on. I don’t know if you’ve been to a portrait studio in the last decade or so, but it was a revelation to me. The photographer spent about 45 minutes taking photos, then went immediately and did some rough crops of what he thought were likely to be our favorites. Then he projected these potentials using a DLP and we all discussed/voted on our favorites until we had it narrowed down. At that point he took orders, and we were done with the entire process. Color me impressed.

From there we proceeded to Lilfred’s, a lovely restaurant just 20 minutes away in Rembert. Why Rembert? Well, fine dining in Sumter consists of places like Ryan’s and Applebee’s. Right, so, Lilfred’s. The meal was exactly what I wanted, with a menu that was definitely a cut above casual fare. Everyone seemed to enjoy their meal. What I didn’t take into account, having gone all city, was that a 7:30 dinner reservation is pretty late with a couple celebrating their 50th Annviersary (they didn’t get married when they were 2, after all) and surrounded with their 10-year-old grandchildren. Yeah, oops. There were no behavior catastrophes, thank goodness, but a palpable sense of tiredness came with us as we headed home. (The kitchen had been running behind, too, but whatever, I should have gotten us there earlier).

When we got back to the folks’ place we cut into a lovely cake that Linda had brought, doled out the champagne, and toasted the happy (or at least determined) couple. Then they exchanged gifts – I think Dad may have surprised Mom a little, as he gave her some beautiful gold jewelry and she got him a hat. It’s a really good hat, though. With that, everyone collapsed.

Sunday, Lisa and I woke up to some collection of boys (Ian and Hawkeye I think, but I was sleepy boy at the time) playing/arguing outside our door. I got up and stumbled out of the room.

Boy: “Did I wake you up, Uncle John?”

Uncle John: “Yes.”

Boy (clearly expecting the typical, diplomatic “oh no, don’t worry about it.”): “Ooohh.” *sneaks off*

Mom made waffles in the morning, and she and Dad laid out a classic picnic / grillin’ spread for lunch. Not too long after that we made our way back to Charlotte and the long sojourn home (made longer by a ~90 minute delay in Denver. Anti-w00t!). Still, we were in bed by 1:30AM(!). The next morning I was up to an alarm and was waiting at the door of Soos Creek when they opened at 9. Sasha was pretty happy to see me, but not euphoric – she was a bit disoriented, I think, by all the changes in her routine. She had a small cut on her nose but was otherwise fine. The kennel folks told us that she played constantly with her Chuck-It ball; the other toys might as well have stayed at home. In theory, I’ve been worried about her obsession with those balls, but if it killed the time at the kennel I have to say I’m glad for that. Anyway, she was exhausted and alternated between clinging to me, clinging to Lisa, and sleeping her waggy little tail off.

All in all, it was a great trip, and the family was wildly successful in marking Mom & Dad’s 50th. Hell, the kids (that’s my generation, not the grands) even got along. ;) Here’s to 75 and diamond-studded walker grips.

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