Surprisingly (to me, anyway) a lot of vet techs do pet-sitting for some extra money on the side. The person doing my cat-sitting had recently retired from being a vet tech in order to be a stay at home mom. She was a bit exhausting to be around (major extrovert!) but I felt my boys would be in good hands. They were.
They weren't happy about my absence, but they didn't go on a hunger strike or anything, so it's all good.
The reunion itself was quite nice. The day before an aunt/married-in uncle combo had a 50th wedding anniversary drop-in. Since there were two family gathering events so close together and my sister (the one that visits me) hadn't been to the reunion in some time, she flew in to attend both and stayed at my cousin G- and A- with my parents and me.
My parents and I drove up on Thursday. I ended up driving the whole way while mom read to us. With the occasional random commentary (not on the book) from my dad. The traffic was dense but only had a few slowdowns, and we got there around 7:30.
Shortly after our arrival I went for a walk to stretch out a bit (driving for over 10 hours can really do a number on your muscles) and discovered the fly in the ointment for this trip: cousin G-'s neighbor's dogs. Last year they'd been in kennels whenever I was out; this time they surged up over the bank onto cousin G-'s driveway and proceeded to behave remarkably as if they were planning to attack the minute I turned my back.
I did not know that a dog could snarl and show teeth at the same time it barked constantly and aggressively at you. Points for multi-tasking, I suppose. I managed to face them down for the ages it took Neighbor to come out on her porch and yell at her dogs to come here (they did not obey very well, but enough that I was able to leave the area).
The problem is, the biggest, most aggressive dog weighed as much as I do (probably more) and was physically the same size as well. Which meant should it knock me down, I stood a good chance of getting killed, or at the least, badly mauled. The truly irritating part was that no one seemed to take this threat seriously. I suppose, though, one really has to be there to observe how aggressively dogs react to my sheer presence to understand. I've had dogs on leashes being walked by their person try to get at me, barking, yanking on the leash, and the person be completely and utterly baffled by the dog's behavior--apologizing to me and saying "he/she's not normally like this." It's like a reverse superpower I have!
To get that part of the tale over with, the dogs were kenneled or indoors the next morning and Saturday morning when I went for a walk, but Sunday morning I encountered them again. At 4 am in the morning, which seemed a bit excessive to me. (I was awake and out because if you want to go on a two hour walk before the sun rises and makes everything bright and hot, you have to get up early).
Bad dog aside, the rest of the trip was well worth it. I got to spend not one, but two nights interacting with my extended family. And because the 50th wedding anniversary couple don't live around here, and their children and grandchildren also don't live around here, we don't normally see them--which means I got to have fun meeting people I don't usually get to interact with.
One of these children's family groups is also a musical group called the Celtic Martins. They played two songs for us; the bouncing dancing (not that we did) kind of celtic music on violins and guitars that I absolutely love. I was, for that short time, in musical heaven.
The morning of the reunion my dad has always gone to "the barn" with his brother C-, and this year my sister and I came along. The barn is a converted barn (thus the name, obviously), which the family has turned into a country-cooking restaurant. We're talking very primitive restaurant here ... which means the food is delicious. I had eggs and bacon on a bagel. First time I've ever liked a bagel. Granted, the one time I ate a bagel before this it was dry and just the bagel. I don't think you're supposed to eat them like that.
Then I went back to bed (I tried to catch up on my sleep this trip, but I was constantly being stymied by the thin walls of the room my airbed was in and the fact that everyone else was logically awake during the day). I did manage some sleep, however--good thing, too, all this socializing!
The reunion started at three, and there were lots of people there. I love lots of family--if I get bored with one conversation, or if it starts going off the rails into uncomfortable territory, I can simply find another conversation to join.
Plus lots of food. My Aunt D- brought a cherry cobbler made from cherries that had been growing on the tree that morning (YUM) and because my uncle C- is also lactose intolerant, she used lactaid milk in the sweet biscuits that go on top of the cobbler. Yeah! A homemade dessert I can eat! (That's the same uncle C- that we had breakfast with.)
Cousin G- pulls around a large tractor (we're talking tires taller than I am) with a wagon and hay bales on the back. Actually, I think they were baled barley that he'd put up the night before. There was going to be a hayride! Lots of the younger people were quite enthusiastic about this concept, and several of the older people (including my parents) joined in.
Me? Are you kidding me? Have you not been paying attention? Fumes from the tractor engine, prickly barley sticking into my skin, too much extra noise to understand anyone's words ... sensory nightmare. No, I stayed put and watched the hayride group trundle off down the lane, glad they could enjoy it even if I couldn't.
There were plenty of people left to talk to. I was outside the large garage where the tables and food had been set up, sitting in a circle of chairs with a group, chatting, when it started to sprinkle. I hate being wet, so I got up, went in the house, retrieved my umbrella, and came back to my chair, umbrella wielded.
There was some gentle ribbing at my expense ... right up until five minutes later when the sky opened up and it went from a sprinkle of rain to buckets. Then I got several comments of, "okay, I guess she does know what she's doing" which, although just as joking as the previous commentary, was rather gratifying to hear.
By the way, the hayride isn't back yet. And there's no roof on it.
I hadn't paid too much attention to who went, but I knew at least one person with a walker had gone. They were all going to be drenched and I felt that they would appreciate the ability to at least pretend to get drier. I ran my idea past my sister (just in case it wasn't appropriate) and she agreed and helped me ransack poor cousin A-'s house for towels.
The hayride was at the farthermost point from the house (of course--Murphy's Luck, right?) when it started to rain so it took them a while to get back, even going as fast as the tractor would go (pretty fast for a tractor). Cousin G- also has a huge garage that isn't connected to the house (we were in the connected one) and he opened that with his remote and drove the whole kit and kaboodle into it.
Holding a tall stack of towels (every towel we could find that wasn't in use) in one hand and my umbrella in the other, I walked through the pouring down rain to the other garage and held out the towels to the soaking wet people descending from the hayride.
My parents, since we were staying at Cousin G-'s house, had the luxury of going upstairs and taking hot showers and changing into dry clothes. Considering my mother's respiratory health, I was quite grateful she didn't have to drive somewhere before doing this, like everybody else.
The reunion is supposed to last until 9, and usually breaks up later than that, but half the people were soaking wet and wanted to go home and dry off, so the reunion broke up early--it was a little after 8, so it wasn't all that early.
The consensus was this would go down in the history books, and we'd be talking about the hayride where it rained for years to come. There were even a few people on the ride who loved being wet and enjoyed that part! (I find this very strange.)
Of course, all the socializing over the weekend was exhausting to my social ability, and by Sunday morning I was fairly well a wreck as far as pretending to be normal went. Good thing we were going home.
I drove the whole way home. There were some stops on the interstate but they didn't last long (thank goodness--my patience was not in good shape). Less than an hour from home it started raining so hard I couldn't see the line markers and (eek) discovered I was running between two lanes. Luckily the traffic was fairly light so I wasn't endangering anyone but I decided to slow down at that point. The problem is always do you slow down, risking getting hit from behind by someone who didn't and can't see you very well due to the heavy rain, or do you keep going and risk hitting someone who did slow down and you can't see them very well due to the heavy rain. Discovering I wasn't seeing the lane markers well enough to stay inside them tipped the balance to "slow down." I did so slowly, of course, as braking in heavy rain is also a good way to start sliding.
But the rain didn't last long. I was grateful, since I didn't particularly want to get my luggage out of the car in the pouring rain.
And then at long last I was home, and making my way through my door into the kitchen, dragging my luggage with me, caroling happily "I'm home!" to the cats.
They were suspicious that it was really me, and I had to talk for a few minutes before they accepted that the sound of my voice over-rode the odd smell I had. (If you stay somewhere else for a few days, you start to smell like that new place. It's not something (most) humans can detect, but a cat is able to.)
|The next day I took a nap. My knees are bent between them.|
Colby's upside down closest to us while Thimble's on the other side.
|Thimble has never done this before.|
He blocked the door to the outside so I couldn't leave again!
|Colby blocked the hallway: he was a toll cat and|
must be paid in petting before I could pass.
The day after I got back I had to vacuum the house and go for groceries. The cats did not appreciate the going away part and mobbed me when I got back, grocery bags or no grocery bags (usually, the bags deter the mobbing and they wait until I unload everything).
I took several days off work for after I came back in order to recover. But tomorrow, vacation is over and things go back to normal. The boys aren't going to be happy with that--they just love having me home all the time. Pity ... I love being home all the time with them, too. Until I win the lottery (that I don't play), however, we'll just all have to live with my being a contributing member of society with a job that feeds us and keeps a roof over our heads.
If anybody knows how to successfully explain that to a cat, I'd love to know.