Saturday, November 26, 2011

... a little more bliss ...

Holidays at my Aunt Lisa’s are the closest thing to perfect that my family will ever have. The company is delightful, naturally. There is the perfect combination of hard work and leisure. There is NEVER any shortage of amazing food. And most of all, the amount of love in that house hits you over the head like a Louisville Slugger the second you walk in. From Wednesday until this evening, I lacked for nothing and probably had too much affection, food, kindness, and laughter. In fact, I felt rather spoilt.

My darling cousin was hard at work all weekend on major papers and saving the world (typical tasks for one as brilliant as she is) so I was left to reading, assisting with cooking, some cleaning, walking my the dog, and in general having a fabulous time. I learned about old coins (the US Mint used to make coins worth five cents that were marked as a half dime instead of a nickel, and coins worth 2 ½ dollars apiece) and how to cook ribs (well, mostly preventing them from catching fire). I also got lots of quality time with this motley crew – my sweet grandmother (mentioned in the previous post), grandfather, and their ‘son’ Sam. I love this photo; it seems to get all the personalities quite well.

Pappy is quite the stoic man’s man, but loves to be paid attention and spoilt and looked up to. When I was little he told me stories of him wrestling tigers in India and I believed every word he said. He has the firm believe that any useful sort of fella will know how to fire a gun, fix things, always have $20 in cash, and be able to produce a watch and pocketknife on demand. He worries if you are late and/or gone too long, and needs to be reminded that I do behave and I won’t run off from family gatherings to go be a reckless hooligan and smoke cigars and drink scotch. He’s stingy with his praise, but not with his love. He is also a sentimental old coot, though he’ll never admit it – he still carries the hankies I embroidered for him when I was a little girl. He loved watching the news, grumbling about politics, hugging Nanna, and watching his two granddaughters become somewhat useful girls. He loves cars, and heaven help you if your tires are old or your oil needs changing and it hasn’t been done!

Nanna is a typical Southern lady, has Amy Vanderbilt memorized from cover to cover, can cook the pants off almost anyone I know, and is one of the few people I know who could actually kill someone with kindness. She is put together, enjoys her friends and family, loves hugs and closeness, and praises everything lavishly and wholeheartedly. She keeps Pappy from being too blunt by simply saying ‘Charleton!’ in a tone only that many years of love and labor can create. She sees beauty and importance in everyday graces, and forgives easily and beautifully. She can be melancholy at times, but she’d give the shirt off her back to the first person that asked.

And Sam? Sam is the best dog in the world. Sam is as faithful, kind, fiercely loyal, and intuitive as Sam in the Lord of the Rings series. He brings Nanna joy, Pappy comfort, and their whole community something to nurture. He is also camera-shy.

How else was I spoiled this week? In addition to my gourmet chef aunt’s cooking, I got a coffee date with the terrific trio from my undergrad days – Ben, Catherine, and Zach. I was foiled in my plans for giving Voldemort as my coffee-name at Starbucks, but I did have a lovely long conversation with my loves, in which I successfully used the term ‘bogarted’. We discussed arranged marriages, villainy, gold plated AVI cables, holding hands, camping, football, and work.  We had such a good time, in fact, we went to a wretched hive of scum and villainy known as the Thirsty Fellow (the bar was actually far classier then you’d think for it being across the street from USC’s greek village) and finished up by discussing football and nerdy pick-up-lines there. In short, my coffee date lasted from 3:30 to almost 8, and I never really noticed how fast the time flew. And I’ve been recruited for springtime camping trips and may have housing at Zach’s for Enter the Blues in Atlanta.

Dad visited for a good portion of the day today and took the weekend from simply wonderful to absolutely fabulous. He also said I was an excellent driver, which made me giggle.

Also, I have gotten to read and reflect more on my newest nonfiction homework. My goodness. The author described the work, quite accurately, as ‘not a nice story’. The dark, dirty, sad history of the treatment of people with mental illnesses is not pleasant – and when you combine that with questionable ethical/moral choices, as well as academic backstabbing and hubris … not an easy read by any means. But then again, this was undertaken as improvement and not necessarily enjoyment. I am enjoying the knowledge I am acquiring though.

Now, I am curled up with a cocktail and the newest Jane Eyre DVD in my very own bed, taking stock of what I need to do tomorrow. Groceries, bills, running to prep for Lindy Focus … and I am wonderfully content.

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