Just about every local immediate family member we've got was here today for what Isaiah dubbed our 'Mother's Day Bash'. We even had one non-family attendee, Miss Donna who is long-time friend of Ruth's folks.
Ruth and I had been meaning to get the joint cleaned up all week, but of course nothing really got started until about 10 pm last night and that didn't last very long at all since we were all tired from the busy Saturday we had yesterday, but Ruth and I were fairly confident that we could get the place knocked into shape between getting home from church and the 1:30 pm arrival time we'd announced. Ruth was also going to get up early and get a head start on some of the cooking.
This morning she came and woke me at about 7 am, as I'd asked her to do, and then went back downstairs to continue working. At about 7:30, she came back up and pointedly mentioned that I'd been laying around and extra ½ hour.
I then promptly got up, put on jeans and a t-shirt and got down to business. The first item for me was cat litter. Changing two overdue litterboxes (Nijal's upstairs and the one for Mamma and her 3 kittens in the basement) is not the way I would suggest you start out a day. Especially when you are not as awake as you'd like to be and you're moving slowly and stiffly from physical exertion the previous day. To make a long story short, I ended up having to employ the mighty shop-vac in the basement. I guess I should be glad that if I had to have such an incident it was in the basement instead of the middle of the floor upstairs. By the time that fiasco was completed and I'd hauled an assortment of junk upstairs, it was time for me to get in the shower and get ready for church while Ruth got Isaiah up and dressed.
When we got home it was time to get to work. While Ruth and I changed clothes I made Isaiah carry the books and videos we'd gotten him at the library Friday night up to his room to get them off the dining room chair they had been in for two days and where they would probably have been for much longer if we hadn't had company coming. Once Ruth and I were in regular clothes the whole house became a dizzying whirlwind of high-gear presentability enhancement. We were full-on cranking till just about 15 or 20 minutes till the folks started showing up.
Ruth's folks were the first to arrive and as they were carrying in the stuff they brought she was exhorting me to get out back and fire up the grill. Firing up the grill, I quickly learned, was going to be a sticky wicket. The lighter fluid which I doused the briquets with turned out to be about as useful as water. Who knew the stuff went bad sitting out on the back porch over the winter? Anyway this gave me a chance to acquire an actual Mother's Day card for Ruth when I dashed up the street to the grocery for more lighter fluid.
OK, ok, I agree. I should have spent some time and effort last week to find her a good one instead of the best one left at the corner grocery store at 1:45 pm on the very day, but it's not that I'm the kind of jerk that consciously thinks "Yeah, whatever- I'll just get her some old card when I sneak out to the store that afternoon." I'm the kind of jerk that is either at work or with my wife and when the day finally arrives curses himself for not taking some time at lunch or on the way home from work to get a good card and maybe even (imagine that) a present. I am sure Ruth knows that in my own feeble way I really do love her and I think she kind of understands that I'm the kind of jerk who is at least sorry for being such a jerk. But anyway, I got her a card and managed to slip it in the house with out her noticing, though she told me later that it took her about one minute to figure out what was up.
The new lighter fluid, though flammable, was still not getting the job done on the charcoal. I guess mainly because at this point I was feeling some pressure to get a fire going and I didn't wait long enough for the fluid to soak into the charcoal before I hit it with a match. Once you've gotten off to a bad start with charcoal, there's really nothing left to do by play the game I call 'FWOOSH' over and over again until by sheer brute force the coals start to turn white.
Then, once the fire was actually beginning to start, kind of, I realized that I'd forgotten to clean the grille and that it would take a while to get it to a state that I would feel comfortable putting food onto. Ruth, growing impatient (understandably so almost an hour after people had shown up) suggested I just put foil over the grille and so I did.
Let me tell you right now if you don't already know: wrapping the grille in foil is a very bad idea. It just doesn't work. Period. It kept the chicken, patio steaks, hamburgers, and hotdogs from getting crunchy crud on them from the dirty grille, but it also effectively suffocated the poor coals to the point that very little if any cooking was happening. The foil was too hot to touch, but there was no ambient heat getting through it to the meat. So with no other recourse left, I carefully removed the foil from the grille, shuffling the meat back and forth.
Fortunately, the heat had burned off almost all the crud and with the foil out of the way lunch was soon done. After that it was all over but the eating. Actually, that's not quite true. There was one item of business before lunch.
Last night Ruth had made a set of small cards- one for each attendee today. She put them in little addressed envelopes and when she was setting the table she put them out like placecards at each seat. When we'd all sat down just as Isaiah was chomping at the bit to say the prayer, I told him to hold on a minute and Ruth told everybody to open their little cards.
The cards were invitations to meet the newest member of our family in the second week of this coming December. Long time readers, familiar with my circumlocutious turn of phrase, may have deduced that by the above statement I mean to say that today was the official public announcement that we are 'with child'.
We had only told Isaiah earlier in the day before anyone arrived. Ruth and I sat by him on the couch and told him we had a surprise for him.
"A surprise for me? Is it some kind of space toy?" he eagerly asked.
"NO," I replied, "it's about Mommy and for all of us."
"Uh, is it Buzz Lightyear?"
"No, you turkey! It's a whole family surprise that will be coming in December."
"Oh, you mean the baby!"
"Were you listening to me on the phone to my friend Lisa the other day, Isaiah?" Ruth inquired.
We hadn't told him earlier (we've known for several weeks) because we weren't ready to announce it and we knew he wouldn't keep a lid on it. In fact, he didn't. After everyone had read their cards and expressed there congratulations, Isaiah sheepishly announced that he'd told Grandma Joanne.
"You weren't supposed to tell them you'd told me," my mother chided "We were in the living room talking and I asked him to whisper something to me, and he did- he whispered that you were having a baby."
I thought her dramatic gasp and wide eyes of surprise when she opened the card had seemed a little over-acted, but no harm was done.
Lunch was good and we had a good time eating together and visiting after lunch. Miss Donna's French lemon cake was a big hit, too. I'd thought it tasted like something I'd had before- a vague but unplaceable memory. Then Robin (my sister) announced that it was just like Grandma Waggener used to make, though she just called it lemon cake.
After lunch, Nanie (that's Ruth's mother, Nancy, Nanie is Isaiah's nickname for Grandma Nancy) was headed for the bathroom when Isaiah zipped in front of her.
"I have to go potty, Isaiah."
"I do, too, Nanie, but I just have to pee."
"OK, then you can go first."
"We can go together if you want."
"No, we can't do that, Isaiah."
"Why not? Kyle and I do it all the time at preschool."
"Well... I have to sit down."
"Come on, Grandma," was his reply, "you've just got to learn to be flexible!"