Recipes and Garden Parts

Here are the Noncation recipes for Lemon-Sage Roasted Chicken and Warm Eggplant and Goat Cheese Sandwiches.  I made Broccoli Slaw, too, but that was a cheat:  1 bag of ready-made broccoli slaw, 1 cup of prepared cole slaw dressing, ½ cup of raisins, and 1 small package chopped peanuts billed as desert topping.  Mix, eat, love.

Guess what I found this morning?  Seedlings!  Four hollyhocks and three sunflowers.  The peat pots were nice and soaked, and a little bumble bee was having a grand time slurping the extra water off of them.  My pictures of all this were abysmal.

My fancy water pail

But here’s my fancy water pail for your amusement.

Sometime last Tuesday, while I was gone to The Sing-Off again (which was much shorter this time, and Daddy treated me to dinner after!), my spearmint plant fell over and the whole thing slid out of the pot.  By the time I found it the plant was completely dried out, crunchy leaves and all.  The stems and smallest leaves closest to the soil were still somewhat succulent, so I cut it back hard and brought it inside to convalesce at the kitchen window.

Spearmint before

Spearmint before

Spearmint after

Spearmint after

The rest of my beautiful plant fit into one small teabag.

The rest of the spearmint plant in one tiny teabag.

Spearmint tea

Honestly I wanted peppermint anyway, not spearmint, so I picked up this lovely

Peppermint

Peppermint

along with another spearmint for Jess, to help repel the aphids attacking her garden.  And I moved everything to an east-facing porch so they won’t scorch in the fierce sun and heat pounding down on us.

Aw, so perty

Aw, so perty

The east porch is also adjacent to the site of their future permanent home

Dirt and waning tomatoes today, herb garden eventually.

Dirt and waning tomatoes today, herb garden eventually.

School started for Drew last week.  A smooth transition into freshman year of high school.  He is going to start a club…I told you guys about that already, yes?  The Nerdist Club?  He’s ready to go with a faculty advisor, officers, members, a first activity/ fundraiser, even an endorsement from the creator of The Nerdist!  Now he just has to wait for the paperwork to become available, get 50 signatures (which will be super-easy, he says), and off he goes.

School starts for me tomorrow. I don’t want to goooo!  Technically school starts Tuesday, because all of the classes I registered for are on Tuesdays and Thursdays:  English Lit, Modern Drama, and Short Story Writing.  However, only English Lit is required; the rest of the classes I actually need were full, so I picked up Modern Drama and Short Story Writing as fillers.  I will attempt to add Biology and Cultural Anthropology by showing up to the first class meeting and hope that that teacher lets me in.  I have a list of 8 class meetings to try throughout the week.  If I get into any of them I will drop one or both of the fillers.  Ugh, what an ordeal.  Last year this was all very exciting, but this year I’m over it.  I’m sure once school starts and I’m into my routine, meeting new teachers and new classmates,  I’ll be fine, but today it’s hot and sticky and I’m being a cry baby.

One more load of laundry into the dryer, then it’s off to bed.  Good night, blogosphere!

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Super Family Fun Time

On Saturday the folks treated us to a family day trip.  In our family that means choosing a starting destination, then going wherever the road takes us from there.  It’s been awhile since we’ve been able to do that, but with our dauntless vacationers gone only three days, there was some vacation budget left.

Our starting destination was Galco’s Soda Pop Stop, a rather famous store that sells all kinds of small-brand soda and old-fashioned candy.  It’s not very far from home, but who doesn’t love soda pop and candy?  For the first ten seconds Galco’s looks like an outdated neighborhood grocery store full of boxes, old equipment, and unused office furniture.  Then we start picking up soda bottles.  Elderberry soda?  Mint?  Birch beer?

Dandelion and what?! Are you sure this is soda?

They had over 400 types of sodas and beers from around the world, a make-you-own-soda station (a hand-made blue soda named TARDIS came home with us), and vintage candy. (Anyone remember something called a Chick-O-Stick?  Sen-Sen mints?  Zots?)  This place is as fascinating as a museum!  After we left we learned [from one of our more observant, less communicative family members] that they had a small deli, too.  We decided to take our sugary purchases and let the road find us another hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop for lunch.

Now friends, remember that we are following the people who had two weeks of vacation available to them, and could only handle three days.  There is a reason for this.  My step-dad, Rob, is a notoriously bad driver, so Mom does all the driving.  Unfortunately, Rob is also a notorious backseat driver, and sometime’s Mom can only take so much.

Let's flashback to 2006 for just a moment.

Let’s flashback to 2006 for just a moment.

Seven years ago we took a two-week family vacation together.  We followed them just like we are doing today.  In the Sierra Nevada mountains, about five minutes after the above picture was taken, Rob consulted his new GPS system and told us to exit the parking lot and make a right.  According to the old-fashioned Thomas Bros. paper map, however, we needed to go left.  Rob insisted it was right.  So we followed them out and made a right.  A minute or so later Mom made a tire-squelching U-turn on the two-lane mountain road, passed the parking lot we just left, and pealed into the first turn-out she saw.  It was like watching a silent movie: Mom parked the car, got out, slammed the door with all her might, stormed over to the passenger’s side, yelled at the window with arms flailing every which way, stomped over to the edge of the turn-out to find a rock to throw at the window, decided she didn’t want her insurance premium to go up (and couldn’t find a good rock anyway), marched back over the the car, started yelling and flailing again, threw herself back into the driver’s seat, and drove away.

Flash forward to now. Here’s a gratuitous picture of a beautiful car owned by our friend, John.

So here we are today looking for a sandwich shop: Mom, Rob, and Shelly in the lead car, with Drew, Joe, and me following.  We enter the parking lot of a little báhn mi shop, start to park, and then leave.  We drive a little ways, turn a corner, drive completely around the block, go back to the main road, and keep going.  We turn another corner, enter an alley, drive completely through the parking lot of another sandwich shop, stop in another alley, head back to the main drag, pull over under some trees…

At this point we expect Mom to fling herself out of the car and read someone the riot act.  Alas, not today.

We end up back in Pasadena, at a sandwich place called Ginger Corner Market that sells hoity-toity stuff like a ham and brie sandwich with fig jam and arugula, green pea salad with mint and feta, and lavender lemonade.  Okay that was just my lunch:  everyone else had turkey or grilled cheese with potato salad and iced tea.

Shelly's lunch.

Shelly’s lunch.

The owner gave us free lemon squares for desert, as a Welcome To My Restaurant present.  How nice!

We couldn’t decide what to do next, so we came home to regroup.  Poor Mom and Rob fell asleep almost as soon as their feet hit the living room carpet.  Drew just wanted to plop down, Skype his friends, and play computer games.  Shelly wanted to do anything please Janine don’t make me stay home let’s go somewhere else we’re supposed to be on vacation please please get me out of this houuuuuse!!!

We drove to a nearby garden center and bought these beauts,

Thyme, sage, and spearmint.

Thyme, sage, and spearmint. Note the empty dandelion-burdock soda bottle. Not too bad, that stuff.

came home and started these things,

Seeds!  Bell peppers, tomatoes, sunflowers, and hollyhocks.

Seeds! Bell peppers, tomatoes, sunflowers, and hollyhocks.

and then told Rob about my new herb garden idea.  Today, he bought me this:

Eeeee!

Duranta repens

Sorry I couldn’t get a better picture of it.  It’s a type of verbena called Skyflower, Golden Dewdrop, or Pigeon Berry.  It has the prettiest purple flowers edged in white, which become clusters of yellowy berries.  The flower and berry stems arch willow-like from between the foliage.  Usually they’re big hedge shrubs, but this one is trained into a small ornamental tree that is going right into the center of my herb garden, where it’ll attract birds, bees, and butterflies.  Eeeee!

Tomorrow is the taping of The Sing-Off with Daddy. Yay!  So I’m off to get some shut-eye.  Sweet dreams!

Sing-Off snacks are ready to go.

Noncation 2013: Day 3

7:00 am:   What am I doing up?  My room never properly cooled off, so I didn’t sleep well.  And at some point the rubber band fell out of my hair, so I spent the last hour or two of semi-sleep flipping my whole head whenever I changed position.  I know I should stay awake but I don’t think it’s going to happen.  One of my eyes feels swollen.  I’m whiny and cranky.

7:15 am:  Andrew is up.  Guess he doesn’t need to change his schedule after all.

8:00 am:  Feed animals.  Start feeding Sprite half of a tiny can of food twice a day.  She eats it with her body as far away from the bowl as possible like she’s stealing it.

Pilot, Sprite, and Sahara.  Missing the fish and a turtle.

Pilot, Sprite, and Sahara. Missing the fish and a turtle.

It’s hotter downstairs than upstairs, which actually feels pretty good now.  I find another rubber band and pile my hair on top of my head.  Screw this noise, I’m going back to bed.  I’ll start changing my schedule tomorrow.

11:45 am:  Wake up permanently.  I am ashamed.   What time should I tell the blogosphere I woke up?  11:00?  10:30?

12:15 pm:  Call Jessica to arrange pick-up.  I tell her about the nightmare I had that her dad started a Nazi-like religious cult and locked a couple hundred people inside, including his family and me.

12:30 pm:  Shelly calls.  She had been looking forward to seeing the San Diego Mission, but her parents got into a big fight so they are coming home instead.  At some point, though, they calmed down and decided to make it up to her, so now she’s calling from the Mission San Luis Rey.  Next stop is Mission San Juan Capistrano.  That’s the one the swallows come back to.  Bug Bunny said so all the time, remember?

1:00 pm:  Shelly calls three times in a row while I’m in the bathroom.  I call her back and get voicemail.  I call Mom.  “Why did you call Janine?”  she asks Shelly.

“To complain!”  I hear her say.

“Oh.”  I can hear my mom roll her eyes.  Shelly put her purse down to take a picture and forgot about it.   She didn’t realize it was missing until they had toured the whole mission.  She and Mom scour the place, but it’s gone.  Shelly wants to come home right now.

Scene of the crime:  cemetary at Mission San Luis Rey de Francia.

Scene of the crime: cemetery at Mission San Luis Rey de Francia.

An old friend of Shelly’s, Janice (rhymes with Bernice), shows up with her mini offspring while I’m on the phone.  They are 2 and 5, and tiny even for their ages.  They’ve had a long day already.  Janice makes them lunch then pulls out her cell phone to make some calls.  The kids bring a bowl of Cheetos upstairs to my room, exploring and chatting while I type. One of them finds a purple plastic Easter egg and oh, it is on and crackin’ now!

They also find my Thinking Cap.

They also find my Thinking Cap.

Our stairs are steep and treacherous, so the five-year-old bounces down them on her tush for safety.  She starts playing one-man fetch:  she throws the egg down the stairs as hard as she can to break it in half, then retrieves it.  Each time she descends, she tries to muster the courage to walk it.  Eventually she gets it.  “Look!  Come quick!”  she calls.  “I can use my feet now!”

2:30 pm:  Make the Friday Night Switch:  Drive to Monrovia, pick up Jess, drop off Drew.  The drive makes me extremely nervous considering my illegal car, but Drew’s face would probably melt off if he missed a Friday night at the weekly street fair.  I leave a pile of picture books for Janice and the kids.

Finally stop at the market for the odds and ends I really need now.  I feel so accomplished.

4:00 pm:  Wipe spilled juice and unidentifiable sticky off the books while the kids are still napping.

There’s never a wrong time for a Christmas story, especially when you’re small.

When they wake up they end up back in my room.  I bring out my wooden treasure chest for them to scrounge through, a leftover from the pirate-themed surprise party my family threw for me a few years ago.  I let them each keep a plastic gemstone ring, a string of party beads, and a plastic cocktail pick shaped like a sword.  They try to con me out of more.  I make a mental note to stock it with more give-away trinkets.

5:30 pm:  Shelly posts on Facebook that they are at her aunt’s house.  They are definitely on their way home.

7:00 pm:  Warm eggplant and goat cheese sandwiches with broccoli slaw for dinner.  Jess posts on Facebook that it’s the best vegetarian meal she’s ever had, EVER!

7:15 pm:  Shelly calls.  They’re in Arcadia, one city away.

8:00 pm:  The intrepid vacationers arrive home.  They’ve tied their record for shortest summer vacation ever.  Mom still has another week off of work.

10:00 pm:  Reverse the Friday Night Switch:  drop off Jess, pick up Drew.

And thus ends Noncation 2013.

Noncation 2013: Day 2

8:45 am: Wake up.  Wonder why I’m awake before 9 am.  Stumble downstairs for some water.  Put the bird out and offer to feed Sahara.  She’s not interested.  Stumble back upstairs to check email and Facebook. 

9:45 am:  Still can’t keep my eyes open.  Can’t remember what time I went to bed last night (okay, this morning).  Go back to bed.

Everyone's bed should be a comfy mess.

Everyone’s bed should be a comfy mess.

11:30 am:  Wake up again feeling better.  I really need to change my schedule back to my non-summer, non-lazy routine.  Maybe tomorrow.

12:00 pm:  Read part of a book.  Play part of a game.  Stare at part of a wall.  Contemplate dinner.  Do absolutely nothing.

1:00 pm:  Receive an email saying one of my Sing-Off ticket requests is now available, but they’re still first come, first serve.  I stub my fingers trying to get to the website quick-like.

1:20 pm:  Got the tickets!  I’m not as excited this time because I’m still recovering from the last taping, but I am excited to take my daddy.  Our call time is much earlier, so even if they run over we’ll be out well before midnight.

2:20 pm:  Decide to stop typing and maybe get on with the rest of my day.  But I start listening to this, and it’s hard to tear myself away:

2:40 pm:  Actually get up and get on with the rest of my day.

3:30 pm:  Take a shower and I’m still sweaty.  Decide that ice cream is in order before I go to market.  Make myself a sundae with marble fudge ice cream, homemade cinnamon whipped cream, and maraschino cherries.

4:00 pm: Realize that I don’t have to go to the market today!  I have everything I need for the lemon-sage chicken if I use dried sage.

4:01 pm:  Grab the chicken from the fridge in the garage, and lemons from the tree.  Survey the yard for my herb garden project.  Fail to find a good spot.

5:00 pm:  Get the chicken in the oven.  It’s too hot to roast anything today, but the last time I made this recipe I tried to crock-pot it.  Huge mistake.  Of course I also replaced several ingredients.  This time I’m sticking closer to the recipe.  It will be good, so help me…

5:15 pm:  Can’t find another roasting pan for the veggies.  I’ll have to use the 12” cast iron skillet, but it needs washing.

5:16 pm:  There are too many dishes in the sink: the skillet won’t fit.

5:17 pm:  Wash most of the dishes.

5:27 pm:  Wash the skillet.

5:50 pm:  Finish cutting up the veggies: potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and turnips tossed with thyme.  I’ve used parsnips before, but I’ve never even tasted a turnip.  I try a little piece and it’s fantastic!  Why don’t people use these things anymore?

The chicken will be done way before the veggies.  I’ll have to pan-roast them on the stove top.  More heat my kitchen doesn’t need.  Great.

Save my vegetable scraps and freeze them for stock.  Anyone know how to jar stock?

7:00 pm:  The chicken is amazing!  Goes especially well with the turnips.

9:00 pm:  Mom calls.  They visited the town of Julian today, and are staying in El Cajon (pronounced el kuh-HONE) tonight.  Shelly wants to swim but the pool is closed.  The motel gives her free wi-fi.

10:00 pm:  Catch my cat, Sprite, trying to eat Sahara’s food.  She has gotten very skinny since we moved here.  I talk to Joe about starting her on canned food again.

Sprite, Queen of the Pixie Cats.

Sprite, Queen of the Pixie Cats.

10:30 pm:  Catch Sprite outside. She’s an indoor cat.   I had hoped her skittishness would keep her that way; otherwise it will be damn near impossible to keep her inside while we’re here.  Clearly she’s not skittish enough.

Sometime after 2:00 am:  Go to bed.

Noncation 2013: Day 1

Sometime before 9:00 am:  Mom wakes me up and tells me they are leaving.  I cannot fathom how she managed to get up so early and sound completely awake.  I briefly wonder how Joe’s holding up.  I fall back asleep before Mom reaches the stairs on the other side of the room.

9:00 am:  Wake up.  Still feeling worn out from the Sing-Off taping, but I’m starting to get one of those you’ve-been-in-bed-too-long headaches.  Andrew starts school on the 21st, and I start on the 26th, so I really need to start waking up earlier.  Maybe tomorrow.

9:15 am:  Start typing up a blog post about the taping.  I have every opening number from last season, as well as compilations of my favorite groups from the last two seasons, saved on a playlist on You Tube.

Stuff like this:

(Be careful, the volume is a little low)

And this:

(The song starts at about 1:34)

I pull them up in another tab for fact-checking purposes.

11:00 am:  Stop watching You Tube videos and take Andrew to register for his freshman year of high school.  He seems so big and grown-up until he’s around other high school kids; then he seems like my little Nanu again.

1:00 pm:  Return home and finish my blog post.  Ever since I hit that bad spot in June I haven’t been writing much at all.  I feel so out of practice.  I proofread three times as often as usual and hope I’m making sense.

3:00 pm:  Contemplate dinner.  I still need to hit the market for some odds and ends.  My recipe for lemon sage roasted chicken calls for fresh sage leaves.  I think I should buy a whole sage plant because 1) a whole plant is the same price as a super market sprig, 2) I use sage all the time, and 3) I want an herb garden, and sage needs to be there.

4:00 pm: Get an email that Daddy commented on my Sing-Off blog post, saying he’d go with me to another taping.  I decide that needs to happen.  I go to the website and try to snag a couple tickets for us.  Five Sing-Off tapings pop up, but they’re all currently waitlisted.    I put us on the waitlist for all five.

6:00 pm: Realize I haven’t gone to the store yet, or actually made a decision about dinner.  So I decide:  I’m not cooking.  It’s too hot.  There is plenty for each of us to scrounge a meal out of, bachelor-style.

6:30 pm:  Plop down with a microwave pizza and catch up on the shows I missed last night:  Who Do You Think You Are, So You Think You Can Dance, and Face-Off.

Sometime after midnight:  Turn off the lights over Shelly’s fish and turtle tanks.  Wake up Shelly’s cat, Sahara, and ask if she’s hungry.  She lifts her head but doesn’t answer, and she’s not sitting at her food dish, so I take that as a no.  She puts her head back down and wriggles into sleep.

Sometime after that:  Go to bed.

Sometime after that even:  Andrew goes to bed.  We should change his schedule, too.

Pre-Noncation 2013: The Sing-Off

It’s that time of year again, my friends!  The folks are off on another road trippin’ adventure, this time South toward San Diego and its environs, while I hold down the fort.  This year’s twist is that rather than merely house-sitting, I actually live here again.  Blerg.

But are we going to let that ruin our Noncation?  No way!  We are going to have a perfectly average time just like last year.

Noncation officially starts today, but the night before Noncation (i.e. last night) deserves its own post because Mom, Joe and I went to a taping of

the-sing-off

AAAAHHHHH!!!!!

The Sing-Off is a competition show for a cappella singing groups.  Each week there is a theme of either a song style or a song type, and one group is eliminated by the three judges.  I love it because no one’s a jerk, there’s no backstage drama, and the singing is awesome.  And it’s a cappella!  Who doesn’t love a cappella?  Like the movie Pitch Perfect but with less insanity.

Here is one of the first opening numbers from last season.  It’s not one of the best, but I want you to see the lighted tunnel that the Dartmouth Aires comes through, at about 1:48:

When we got to the sound stage we walked through that tunnel onto the set.  That was my fan girl moment, when I realized this was THE tunnel and I could see the Sing-Off stage at the other end.  I played it cool but I fought back excited tears.

We weren’t at the end of the line, but we’re old and slow so people passed us when we walked from the holding queue to the stage.  As we were being seated, I noticed with a twinge of panic that these were not chairs, but bleacher-style benches.  OMG, we can’t sit that long on glorified stairs!   But those people who walked around us did us a favor.  The audience wranglers cut the line right in front of us, and we and everyone behind us were moved to a section with real chairs.  Score!

When the show airs it’ll go like this:  a big group number with all the contestants; one performance from each group, including a short intro and ending critiques from the three judges;  the announcement of the two bottom groups; a sing-off between those two groups (one song that they sing together throw-down style); and the elimination of one group.  And of course the host’s banter in between.  Very simple show.  Filming it, not so much.

Taping was scheduled from 7:00 pm-10:30 pm.  This episode will only be the second of the season, so nine groups were still in the competition.  That’s eleven singing performances.  In theory that sounds fabulous, doesn’t it?  But it translated to 2 extra hours of taping.  5 ½ hours of roof-shattering cheering for damn near everything.  We cheered after every performance, before and after every commercial break, before and after every group intro, at the end of every judge’s critique, as each group left the stage, and after every elimination announcement.   Every re-take started with us cheering. Many re-takes were shot two, three, four times.   If we failed to cheer at the right time or with enough enthusiasm, it was a re-take.  As if that wasn’t enough, it was Party Anthem week.  They didn’t want mere applause; they wanted us to bring the entire sound stage crashing down.

The opening group number was shot in its entirety 3 times (which was cool, actually).  The final singing battle was shot twice.  (Not so cool, because we were tired by then.)  It took 40 minutes for the judges to make a decision.  (REALLY not appreciated!)  The audience wranglers wished us a good morning as we dragged ourselves out at 12:30 am.  Our fingers and hands were sore from all the clapping.  We were completely exhausted.

It wasn’t all bad, though.  My hands would’ve hurt less if I hadn’t worn rings, so that was my fault.  We knew that our cheering wasn’t just for TV, but to boost up the very real people who were competing, which made it a little easier to keep going when we were worn out.   And oh, my friends, the singing!  Here are two of my favorite groups, Home Free and Street Corner Renaissance:

I had two other favorites, but I cannot for the life of me find them on the Interwebs anywhere.

Interesting things happen when they film this show.  When it came time to announce the bottom two groups, the crew took “beauty shots” of the contestants waiting to hear the results.  The groups were all placed on stage atop portable stairs, like little individual class pictures.  During set-up the contestants chatted and laughed, but when tape rolled they had to stare at the judge’s table without smiling, while two cameramen whirled around them.  If the table was empty, the footage was called “worried shots,” but if the judges were there it was called “tense shots.”  And there was nothing else going on: the host wasn’t talking ,the judges weren’t deliberating, we weren’t even cheering.  So on TV, when they cut away to close-ups of the contestants looking anxious, those are the beauty shots. 

Another eye-opening moment came when the host announced elimination results.  For most of the show he reads from a teleprompter, but to reveal the bottom two groups he reads the results off of a card.  Or does he?   When the time came, he opened a card and started ticking off the names of groups that were safe.  That’s when my radar went up:  there wasn’t enough room on that little card for all of that!  They stopped taping briefly to reset camera angles, and during this time the host refolded the card.  He opened it again and pretended to read it when he announced the first group in danger of elimination.   Another reset, and he folded the same card again!  And opened the same card again to announce the other group in danger!  The same blank card!

And all that tension while everyone is waiting to get the results?  Fake.  Sure, everyone wants to hear who stays and who goes, but there was so much time between those particular takes that the contestants goofed around with each other, one of the engineers played party music, our warm-up guy threw candy at us and led us in sing-alongs…by the time they finally started taping those segments, the announcements were little more than cues for the contestants and the audience to react for the cameras.  The host (or in one case a judge) just pauses for about 15 seconds to heighten the suspense.  Even that dramatic anticipatory music isn’t there; it’s added in later.

My favorite part of the night came while the judges were deliberating.  According to a former contestant sitting nearby, they usually don’t take longer than 10 minutes or so to made a decision.  They came back, sat down, cameras had just started to roll on the final segment… when the director cut, two producers approached the judges, and then the judges, producers, and director all left again.  They were gone for 40 minutes!  Uuuuuugh!  Maybe if they had come back with burgers for us we wouldn’t have minded so much, but it was already late and we were running on fumes.

In the meantime the show’s host went back to his trailer, too, the bottom two groups were stuck standing on-stage (chatting and laughing as usual…no tension), and our warm-up guy ran out of candy. The party songs were getting old, so Mr. Warm-Up wracked his brain for some good sing-along songs.  Eventually he tried Blurred Lines, a current pop song.  Turns out it was in the repertoire of one of the groups standing on stage!  So when we started singing they started beat-boxing and filling in the background with their version.  We all stopped to listen, but then the other group on stage joined in with improvised backgrounds, so we took the hint to keep singing.  Some of the other contestants joined in, too.  We didn’t get very far, but it was still frickin’ amazing!   We sang with the Sing-Off people!

Electronic devices of any kind were prohibited, including cell phones, so we couldn’t call home to let them know the taping ran late.  My step-dad gets panicky over this type of thing, so of course when we got back to the car Joe and my mom had a bunch of missed calls.  My sister, Shelly, left a message on Joe’s voicemail, so he called her back and explained what happened.  Not two minutes after hanging up, my step-dad called my mom!  Shelly had relayed the message but it wasn’t enough.   He’s getting crankier and more anxious in his old age.  Anyway, I drove home at what felt like warp speed.  My bed was calling to me, but perhaps not as loudly as Mom and Joe’s beds were calling to them.

Still, I’d do it again.  Anyone else up for it?