We went down to my aunt’s house directly after work on Friday — it’s about an hour from here and, even though it was murky, dreary, and rainy, once we got outside of our own neck of the woods, the fall foliage was ablaze with color. I especially love the sumac in the fall, just as red as it can be.

We arrived at my aunt’s house around 5:30 or so, and she’d put on a delicious soup made simply from chicken broth, that little pasta that looks a bit like barley, and spinach. It was exceptional and really hit the spot. We sat and chatted and laughed until nearly midnight. We brought an old “antique” slide projector that my father had left at my house, along with slides, and we sat and went through some of them, too. A lot of family history on those slides. Wanda (my aunt) was thrilled with them.

Saturday morning we got up and drank coffee and sat and chatted a bit. I put on a crock pot of chicken and vegetables which I would later make into chicken stroganoff, and then we left to go to the festival. It was foggy, drizzling, and not quite 50 degrees. Typical Fall Foliage Festival weather. Don’t know we’ve ever gone and NOT had it cold and rainy.

On the way there, Lisa’s cell phone rang. It was Mary. Her mother had passed away that morning at 9:00 and I think she just needed a friendly voice to talk to. She indicated that she didn’t know what to do with herself that day and that everything seemed surreal. I told her to do something normal. Vacuum the carpets, brush the dogs, change the sheets on her bed, anything normal. It might help restore a sense of normalcy for her. We chatted a bit and I elicited a promise from her that, if she needed to talk or anything, just to call.

We met Michelle and Doug near the exit from the expressway and they followed us into the town where the festival was being held. They’d brought Cherlyn with them and she had a cute little hooded fleece underneath her little rain coat, and of course her Dora the Explorer umbrella. She was SUCH a good little girl all day as we roamed through all the exhibits, browsing the crafts and foods and clothing and art. We went by and saw the “tree sitters,” and roamed up and down the side streets where individual yard sales are always held during the festival.

I had a hot dog for lunch and, about a half hour later we found another food booth that was selling artichokes and greens and beans. They had a combo plate of artichoke French and greens & beans — I succumbed to the temptation. My aunt got the deep fried artichokes and Lisa passed. Of course, Michelle didn’t even want to SEE the artichokes, let alone try some. The weather, as usual, didn’t deter festival goers. For the most part, there was a misty rain that wasn’t bad. It was more obnoxious to use an umbrella than to go without.

I got cold early on. Well, my HANDS got cold, especially the one finger on my right hand that I demolished 3 years ago while splitting wood. When it gets cold, it hurts. I bought a wonderful pair of wool gloves (handmade) at a booth for $6 and almost immediately I was warm all over. Amazing how just keeping your extremities warm can make everything else warm.

We prowled the grounds for about 3 hours, said good-bye to Doug and Michelle and Cherlyn (who calls me “Gramma Pat”) and went back to my aunt’s house. We sat around for the remainder of the afternoon and chatted and, about 6, I prepared the stroganoff, cooked noodles, and we sat down to a hearty dinner. We were all famished. I’d put in 8154 steps that day and, besides, OD’d on the fresh air and oxygen in my brain. After we’d cleaned up from dinner, we sat in the living room and I struggled to keep my eyes open. We had a great evening but, by 10:00 I was exhausted, and went upstairs to bed.

Sunday morning we got up, and I went in to shower. Or at least I tried to shower. I couldn’t figure out how to get the frickin’ shower to turn on. I finally got exasperated and just washed under the faucet in the bathtub. I think, though, that I washed with my shampoo and shampooed with my shower gel. I went to brush my teeth with my power brush and switched it on, and it went “WHIRRRRRrrrrrr r r r r r r r r r ” and then died out. I shrugged and brushed my teeth with it anyway. What else could I do?

I went downstairs, went into the kitchen and got a coffee mug out of the cupboard and…the coffee pot had about a mouthful left in it. Of course, I’d already poured half and half into the cup so I had about a quarter of a cup full of slightly warm and slightly off-white half and half. (They have a “brewing station” so I couldn’t see how much coffee was in it when I went to pour some.)

I went out onto the front porch where Wanda, Bob and Lisa were smoking, along with my quarter cup of off-white creamer. I announced, “If someone will show me how, I’ll make MORE coffee!” Bob indicated that the brew station could only be run once per day and I just matter of factly told him “Look, I’ve had my ass kicked all over the place this morning, so don’t you fuck with me too!” Raucous laughter followed. Bob poured the remainder of HIS coffee into my cup and went out into the kitchen and made more. Lisa asked how I got my ass kicked and I told her about not being able to figure out how to work the shower, mixing the shampoo and shower gel, and the power brush running out of juice, only to come down and find there was no coffee. More raucous laughter.

We hung out until around noon and decided we should be getting home, as we wanted to make sure Mary was doing okay. We got home around 1:30, went next door to Mary’s and sat with her for about a half hour. She’d cleaned her house like a woman driven and was sitting and brushing one of the dogs. She seemed to be doing really well, and we left, promising to check in later. When we got home, it was damned cold in the house, since the furnace wasn’t turned on and the windows hadn’t been latched all the way when we left Friday. It was 58 degrees downstairs in the family room. I turned up the furnace, and went upstairs and turned on the oven to 350 degrees. Got a cake mix out of the pantry and baked a cake.

We sat and watched the Broncos, Bills, Jets and Patriots win on the four televisions I had set up. The Broncos didn’t do all that bad, but they gave up too many rushing yards to Clinton Portis (former Bronco running back). Dallas handed Philadelphia their asses, and Green Bay walked away from a 4 game losing streak with a 52-3 win over the Saints. Cincinnati should be ashamed of themselves for losing to Jacksonville and, with that, Indianapolis is now the only team in the NFL that is undefeated after 5 weeks.

About 6:00 or so (midway through the late games) we took some cake over to Mary and hung out for a bit, then came home and dropped, exhausted, into our nice warm waterbed at about 9:30.

Sunday I got in only 5455 steps but, on the positive side, this morning the scales indicated I was down exactly 4 pounds since the first of the month. Gosh, if I could lose 0.4 lbs. each day, I’d reach my goal before year’s end! Okay, maybe not before year’s end, but certainly before MLK day in January! Wouldn’t that be nice! I’ve got a goal of 1 lb. per week though, and I know that, at that rate, I can realistically expect myself to reach my goal by the time our anniversary rolls around again in July. My other goal is to get upwards to about 10,000 steps per day by the end of the month, as part of the Walktober program the college is sponsoring this month. In the midst of all that, I’ll ride my bike (which is now on the trainer), get on the Gazelle Glider one day a week, at least, lift weights and climb stairs on the weight set at least one day a week, and do a stretching workout on the exercise ball 3 times a week, at least.

I’ll call Mary when I get home and see if she wants to go for a walk with me, if she’s home.

Lisa leaves on Thursday for Louisville, and I’ll go back down to my aunt’s house Thursday and stay until I have to pick Lisa up at the airport on Sunday. Lots of work to do between now and then…

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