Kath and Peach picked me up around 9 a.m. Walt had left long before that, since he was going to a FEMA meeting in the Bay Area. I got all the dogs "treated," packed up my bag o' booze (it was my time to make drinks) and got in the car.
"We have to stop at Bed, Bath 'n' Beyond," Kathy said first thing. She had left her pillow at home and, with all of her breathing problems, she is very particular about the pillow she sleeps on and she needed to stop and buy a new pillow and a new pillowcase. She found the pillow early (with some assist from a clerk) and as we wandered through the maze of pillow cases, I learned about thread count and color (can't be cream, it has to be white; has to be at least 350 thread count).
I was thinking about what I sleep on. It's a tan pillow that Walt's sister used to prop up something--was it a television?--that Walt was driving from Santa Barbara up here. She said "just throw the pillows away when you get home." But they kind of matched the couch in the living room and were smooth surface rather than a bumpy surface, so I used them as couch pillows and, at night they become my sleeping pillow. Sometimes the dogs sleep on them during the day so they always smell of dog.
But yes, I'm weird. I do have to admit, though, that I have heard Oprah for years wax eloquent about high thread count sheets and, I'll tell ya. I felt 250 thread count, 350 thread count, 750 thread count and some even >1000 thread count and they all felt the same to me. I couldn't believe some pillow cases were selling for more than $50 for two! I did spend $10 for a dog bed that was on sale, though. (Gizmo was asleep in it before I even had a chance to ear off the tag, after I returned home!)
We arrived at my mother's, with all our stuff, sat around chatting for awhile -- our usual "first hour," when all the angst of the time since our last Cousins Day comes out -- and then sat down to a delicious shrimp salad for lunch.
Then, of course, it was time to break out the cards four our "65" marathon. Peach brought some cards which someone had given her. They are for a game called "Five Crowns" and when you read the rules you realize that they are the rules for what we have been calling (and will continue to call) "65."
But the cards are different, and include five suits, not four, adding "stars" to the usual hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades. Also, the some of the normal suits are in different colors (green for clubs and blue for diamonds).
However, whether played with a regular deck or the Five Crowns deck, this was definitely NOT my time to win. Everybody won at least one game, I won nothing. I figured my only function this time (other than providing jokes and small talk) was to make the others' pots bigger. Sometimes when I have a bad day like that, the next day is better. Not this time. We also had a bad day with "the boob." I don't think there has ever been as much discarding of trump since we started passing "the boob" to the person who made the bad decision. That boob was flying around the table faster than a stripper's pasty in "whirl" mode!
We played two games, then Kathy decided she needed to take a nap, so Peach, my mother and I played a game of canasta (which I lost), after which it was late enough that we could justify starting the cocktail hour.
It had been a year since I made my "rasptini" (3 parts raspberry vodka, 1 part clear chocolate liqueur, a splash of raspberry syrup, all shaken in a shaker over ice and served with fresh raspberries in the glass). Those suckers go down waaay too easy. Kathy stopped at 1, my my mother stopped at 2, but Peach and I had 3-1/2. Yummy stuff.
It was Kathy's turn to make dinner...
She made a shrimp cocktail, chicken enchaladas, and salad, which my mother followed with a Sarah Lee cheesecake for Peach's birthday, much belated (it was in early June).
As usual, through cards and dinner, the important stuff (other than yelling "you bitch!" at someone) was the camaraderie, the chit-chat, the problem-solving, the tears, and always, always the laughter. I can't tell you how many times "I love you guys" was said, in one way or another. We grow closer every time we get together.
In the middle of our last game of the night, the phone rang and it was my mother's step-son's wife, calling to say he had collapsed with pneumonia and was in the hospital and that "it didn't look good." His blood pressure was something like 59/35 and they weren't sure he was going to make it.
That put a damper on the rest of the evening. None of us really knows Fred, of course, except my mother, but still it evoked all those similar phone calls that we all have had throughout our lives, when we received the bad new unexpectedly. This led to a discussion of yesterday's journal entry, of course.
We all decided to go to sleep early. I thought I was going to read for awhile, since it was only 10:30, but since I'm not a drinker any more, 3-1/2 drinks can have an affect on my ability to stay awake! I fell asleep almost instantly and, except for one trip to the bathroom around 2 a.m., I slept all night until 6:30. Amazing.
Nobody had anything they needed to rush home for, so we had breakfast and two additional games of "65" (I lost both). One was the weirdest game we'd ever played, since people were winning hands on the first or second round of play--up until about the 9th or 10th round. You hardly had time to sort out your hand before you were counting up your score.
As it did the day before, laughter reigned. And there was no word of my mother's step-son, so we took that to be "good" news. We stayed to have lunch, finishing off the salad from last night, mixed with the shrimp that was left over from the shrimp cocktail. Then we packed up and, reluctantly, said goodbye and headed home.
On the way home, as is our wont, we re-hashed the past day and a half. We once again reaffirmed the importance of Cousins Day in our lives, and agreed that when we start dying off, those who remain will find a way to keep it going. Maybe without 65 (which might be a benefit to MY pocketbook, the way my games usually go!), but in some way or another. It's too special to let die. Ever.