Friday, October 29, 2021

Happy Birthday, Pat!

 Over at 'The Weaver of Grass', Pat turns 89 on All Hallow's Eve.

I found an old video of what was.

Another of what is.


I hope that everyone will drop over to her blog and wish her a happy birthday at some point this weekend. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Summer's End

When I went to the garden after the frost, I picked all the beefsteaks, and brought them home. Green or not, I figured they could ripen inside, and they did. 

I've been having one of my favorite breakfasts, which is coffee (no brainer!) and toast with a thick slice of juicy ripe tomato on it. Just the slightest smidge of mayo, and grind some black pepper over it all, and you have the breakfast of champions. 

This morning, I noticed that I only have one more tomato left. Just one.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Watership Down

Shameful admission: I've never read 'Watership Down'. 

I remembered this only when I was looking in the used book section and found it there waiting for me.

I am currently caught up in a wonderful story. It's so good. I don't know why it has taken me 40 years to get around to reading this.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Exactly The Same

 I think that men and their vehicles are different from women and their vehicles. 

When we first started going out, Tim had an old truck. That was actually our first meeting outside work. I had bought a bed for my daughter and was trying to figure out how to haul it. He offered. I paid him with dinner. 

One thing led to another, and we were dating. And then the woman who was never getting married again was getting married again.

He always wanted to fix up that truck, but we never had the money. We were raising children, five between us, and NAFTA meant that the area was bleeding machinist jobs to foreign countries. It was a time of lay-offs and struggling, and just plainly working hard. 

But he loved that truck. 

Tim has been looking for his 'retirement truck', a nice truck to take him into his retirement years, and it has been a bone of contention between us. He thinks the new trucks are too pricey. I don't want him to buy another old truck. We HAVE an old truck already, for pete's sake. I'd like this to be an upgrade. 

A couple weeks ago, he found a truck on line.




The current owner has rebuilt this. The engine only has 60,000 miles. He's taken everything apart, sandblasted it and painted everything, including the frame, and put it all back together again The brakes and lines are new. It has a new exhaust. Actually, pretty much everything that can be replaced has been replaced. 

Every time that he gets on the computer, Tim goes to market place and studies that truck. He's mentioned it a couple times, but over the weekend, when he went to show me the truck, he couldn't find it. "It's sold," he said. "It was a nice one." 

I felt kind of bad, because I realized then how much he wanted it, although he kept assuring me that he didn't. 

Tim's off work for 3 weeks, having some problems with tendonitis in his elbow, so I get up in the morning by myself. I brought my coffee into the office as usual, and sat down in the dark. He left his facebook up, and I saw it. He'd found that truck. It hadn't been sold. 

I sipped my coffee, thinking about it. 

Once I was showered and ready to leave the house, I walked into the still dark bedroom. "Tim?" and a sleepy, 'huh?' came back. 

"Go get your truck." 

Long pause. "No," he said. 

"I want you to have it. Go get the truck." 

And I left for work.

I wondered what he would do. I got home to supper on the table. I had left the spaghetti sauce going in the crock pot, but he'd made the pasta and dished it up.

I sat down. 

"So...did you get your truck?" 

"Yeah, I did," and he waited. He's going to do the paperwork and pick it up Saturday.  

"I wanted you to have it," I said. 

And he smiled. "It's the same year, same color, same model truck I had when I met you. It's exactly the same." 





Sunday, October 24, 2021

Saver

Every day, the days grow shorter and darker and colder outside. Inside, I take down whatever seeds I've got drying at the minute, and I examine them carefully each day. 

It always seems such a hopeful thing, the setting aside the seeds for next year. As I use my vegetables from the garden, I set aside the seeds and dry them, test them for viability and after 24 hours on a paper towel, they are ready. The whole process cannot be rushed, or your seeds will mold, so it doesn't pay to be impatient. 

Today, I collected my zucchini seeds and put them in a labeled bottle, secure in the knowledge that the dark times will pass and that, just as it always has, spring will come again. 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

The Boy Who Loved Halloween

William came to spend the night last night. He came straight from a Halloween 'do, and so he was in his costume. 
I remember when he was cute, all dressed up for Halloween. That ship has sailed. He's in Middle School now. 

Anyways, he ate his second supper of the night watching 'Paranorman' on Netflix, which he had never seen before. 

Today was a big day. It was pumpkin carving day. We were putting together a special Halloween meal for his mother and Don. 

The menu: Monster Burgers, Toxic Waste Mac and Cheese, The Bottom of the Garbage Can. We made spiders out of black olives and bloated ticks out of garlic stuffed green ones. We made deviled eggs into eye balls, and severed fingers out of hot dog halves. For desert, we made meringue ghosts and skull cookies. 

This morning, we got up and hit the ground running. We had a shopping list for the grocery store. We had a deal. He had $10 to spend on decorations. I would pay for the table settings. He decided our first stop should be Goodwill, where we found a skull and a candle holder for the center of the table, a ghoul, a "Enter if you Dare" sign, a silicone skull ice cube tray, a black caldron for our toxic waste mac and cheese, and a serving platter for our hors d'oeurves (the aforementioned spiders, ticks, severed fingers and eyeballs).

Next stop was the Dollar Tree, where we got black napkins, paper plates (don't judge me), skeleton hand goblets, and tooth picks. 

Then to Aldi's where we did our shopping for the meal. 

Last stop, Walmart to get his soda choices. He still had two dollars in his decorating budget, and so he bought spiders for the table and eye balls for the drinks. 

We spent the day in the kitchen, and he was pretty enthusiastic about the whole thing. His favorite part was setting the table. We finished up pretty much as his parents were walking in the door. Well...almost. We didn't get the faces put on the meringues, so they became 'ghost poop' instead. 

It was a fun meal, and we had a good time doing the pumpkins. 

"Eight more days until Halloween," he sighed as he headed out the door with his decorations and jack o' lanterns. 

Made me smile. His mother was the same way. 


Thursday, October 21, 2021

Bright and Early

 We had our first hard frost here, and so it was a big deal for me to get to the retirement property to get all the green peppers picked. I scooted up right after work. There were a lot of them. The plants had gotten huge. I've really never had such huge pepper plants, and they were loaded with peppers. I picked them and thought I had them all, but then I'd look at the situation from another angle, and darned if there were not more of them. I picked a peck of unpickled peppers. (Later, when I was chopping them, I wound up with 4 gallons of chopped green peppers, but, I digress.)

So I came home with my peppers and my spider plant from the green house (one more plant to get, a fern). 

After I slapped together supper, I headed out the door for a meeting.

I went to bed to read for a few minutes. Steve Reed was right. Beatrice and Virgil? The more that I read of that book, the more I simply hated it. There are some things that don't need 'fable-ized' and the Holocaust is one of them. I read some reviews about the book on line, and one fellow who gave it 5 stars raved that it really 'displayed human nature'. Well. You know what displayed human nature to me? The Holocaust. I glanced through the end of the book, and stopped to read the questions at the end. 

Enough for me. I don't need a howler monkey and a donkey (not to mention a rabid dog) to demonstrate the Holocaust. (The Holocaust Museum in Washington DC did that.) The questions at the end of the book were sickening. With that, I tossed the book at the bedroom door to be picked up and deposited in the trash can in the morning. I shut off the light and curled up next to my already snoring husband. 

This morning, I woke up as the hall clock was chiming the hour. I think it is cool how I wake up before the alarm. It's as if my sleeping self is conscious still, keeping track of the time by the chimes and the bongs and the cuckoos and the music. I shut off the alarm, lay there for a few minutes and then got up. 

I made my coffee. I put my bread in the toaster (pumpkin butter today). 

I walked through the livingroom to the office sipping my coffee and carrying my plate. It is my custom to wake up at the computer sipping my coffee and reading. It's easy to keep track of the time...   I stared in shock at the clock on my computer. It was 4:26. The clocks were not chiming 5. They were chiming 4. I was up and moving a full hour early. 

I looked at the half empty coffee cup in my hand in despair.

The earlier it is, the brighter I'm not.


Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Carpet Cleaning

 I have been playing telephone tag with a carpet cleaning company since last Friday. Their office hours are limited, and my work hours (and Tim's) don't jibe with their schedule. 

I was trying to get supper around last night, and the phone rang. I answered it without looking at the caller ID and a woman's voice asked if I was Debby.

"This is Debby," I answered. 

And she enthusiastically said, "Hey, babe! I'm glad we were finally able to connect."

My first thought was that this sounded a lot like those spam texts you get from lonely women who want to share their pictures with you.

She identified herself as the receptionist for the carpet cleaning place. 

I was a bit surprised, but I really wanted to get the living room carpet cleaned before winter set in. So we talked through the details, and I was inundated with 'babe', 'sweetheart', 'darling', and 'hun'. Nearly every single sentence contained an endearment, and I was starting to grit my teeth a little. I freely admit that while I am a big fan of courtesy and friendliness, I HAAAAATE endearments from total strangers. I feel as if it is intrusive and assumes an intimacy that does not exist. I am not an ass about it. I don't mind the occasional 'hun' from a friendly waitress, but this was over the top and it was...icky.

Since this is an area rug 8 x 16, on hardwood floors, she interrupted to say, "Sweetie, this will need to be brought in. We don't clean carpeting on hardwood floors." 

I was delighted. It meant that I would not have to miss work. We tried to set up a pick up time between a veritable blizzard of endearments. 

Finally, nearing the end of my tolerance, I said, "Okay. How about we just roll it up and set it outside the back door on the concrete driveway? You can just pick it up at your convenience."

She was pleased. "Babes, do me a favor..."

"What's that?" I asked. 

"Put a note on it, so the guys know that's the rug." 

There's only one yellow house on the block. (There are only two on the entire street.) Only one has a 417. If they found a rolled up carpet behind it, they'd be pretty safe in assuming that it was waiting to be picked up. But....I said, "Yes. I can do that." 

Oh, that made her very happy. 

As for me, I was very happy to end that phone call.

My sister was on call last night, and she forgot her phone on the kitchen table when she left with her bags. She ran over at lunch time to get it. I got a text from her 'Forgot my phone, came to get it, helped myself to some cornbread. PS, babe, they picked up the carpet.'

Ooooh, she's funny stuff, my sister...

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Prices

 Tim has been fussing a little about the price hike for natural gas. Winter's coming, and he thinks it is suspect that these hikes always coincide with the advent of winter. 

Every week, I go to the deli section and I pick up a pound of sandwich meat and a half pound of sliced cheese for Tim's sandwiches. I don't like to save the sandwich meat from week to week and a pound is just about right for the week. 

Sunday, I went into the store as usual. 

His sandwich meat has gone up $2 a pound in one week!

I have a feeling this is going to be a tough winter. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Revenge of the White Tail

 I was sleeping soundly in the early morning dark when suddenly my husband startled and yelled in his sleep. I rolled over to look at him. He laughed in the dark. 

"What the heck was that all about?" I asked. 

"I had the oddest dream. I was in my tree stand, and a deer came out of the woods, and then there was another one, and then another one. And they were all flat, like pictures. The last one climbed up the tree my stand was on and sat down next to me. That was the craziest dream..." 

I'm regularly trying to puzzle out some dream I've had. Why would I dream such a thing? What does it mean? 

However, I will leave this one alone. 

Our new tenant called. She sounded exhausted. She explained the situation. Their house is sold, but they still don't have a closing date. She doesn't know when they will be able to move in. 

We've always had the policy that a tenant can begin moving their stuff in the month before they live there. We don't begin counting the lease, or worrying about rent until they are physically in. I re-explained it to her. 

She said, "Do me a favor; tell my husband that. He's terribly worried about the finances."

So I reexplained to him, and said, "You folks have a lot on your plate right now, and we surely do not want to add to that by having you move after the weather changes." (He's got a terminal diagnosis.)

He explained that they are on a fixed income and would not be able to catch things up until the end of the month, also explaining that if the house deal went through, they'd settle up before then." 

"That's fine," I said. "Tim knows you. He knows you're a stand up guy." 

He seemed to get a bit emotional about that. "I haven't been late on a bill since 1983," he said. 

"I bet you haven't." 

He didn't seem to know what to say. "Well...tell Tim..."

I said "He's walking through the livingroom this very minute, want to tell him yourself?"

He did, and they talked for a good half hour, about guns and hunting, and machinist work, as if 40 years had not gone past since the last time that they talked. 



Sunday, October 17, 2021

Rainy Weekend

 It has been a dull, gray, rain filled weekend. The temperatures are dropping down. We are in autumn. 

There is something wonderful about sleeping until you are ready to wake up, and moving about in the quiet morning dimness. 

I've got a lot done this weekend. I am bringing my indoor plants back from the unheated greenhouse for the winter, and putting them in the library, the livingroom, the office. I've been cleaning and rearranging furniture. There's something very satisfying about that as well, at least to me. 

I've been studying the avocado tree situation. I need to rehome 4 or 5 of them. I've got three neighbors in mind. It will be a nice chance to visit with them, and something to do while Tim is watching football.

I'm reading Virgil and Beatrice by Yann Martel, and I'm not sure why I am so intrigued by it. If I tried to tell you what it is about, you'd think it was the craziest idea for a story yet. But...oddly...it is not.  

There was a long phone call with far away Cara. 

It's been a soul satisfying weekend. 



Saturday, October 16, 2021

The Fall Garden

The garden is winding down to a close. At the end of the season, it is always nice to look back and decide what needs tweaking for next year, and what did well. 

Pumpkins did great. I had pumpkins all over the place. I also had pumpkin vines all over the place. They wanted to take over the entire garden. I was hacking back the vines and tossing them over the fence where they took root and continued producing more pumpkins. It was interesting to me that these pumpkin farms just let the pumpkins sit in the fields, and families pay money to wander through said fields and pick the pumpkin of their dreams. In my garden, pumpkins had a tendency to rot. We set them on a pallet, but still we lost about half of them.

I was discussing this situation with my daughter in law who reminisced about the time they went to one of these pumpkin farms. It was warm, and the pumpkins were literally exploding in the field. So...I guess we were lucky. Nothing exploded. 

We did have one not so funny experience with the pumpkins. Tim was headed up to the retirement property to do some recon work (deer season is coming). I asked if he would mind picking up a few pumpkins for me to deliver to my grand daughter. Later, when he was home, he said, "I got three nice pumpkins for them." I asked him where he put them, and he said that they were in the car. I said, "Let me grab those out of there." He said that he would take care of it. I thought no more about it. 

(Morgan Freeman voice-over: "But he did not take care of it." ) 

Three hot days later, the pumpkins had baked nicely, and let me tell you, the car did NOT smell like pumpkin pie. Tim was outraged. I was bewildered. "I thought you said you'd take them out of the car." and he replied, "I didn't think that it would get that hot." 

I swear. 

Anyways, carpet cleaner and febreze finally took care of the awful smell, although it took days. 

So pumpkins were a success. Well. At least the growing of them. Take-away lesson number one: figure out how to store pumpkins. Also maybe give them their own designated pumpkin patch and let them go nuts away from everything else. 

The tomatoes were a success as well, although we know now that we need to build wooden cages. The wire cages are just not sturdy enough to hold them up once they become heavy with fruit. So that's take-away number two. I found some simple ones that we can build using one bys from the Amish. They fold up for the winter, which will be very nice. 

This should at the very least, double our tomato harvest. Another thing I learned? More beefsteak tomatoes.  And...ain't NOBODY needs as many cherry tomatoes as I planted. 

I planted navy and black beans for the first time. They went nuts as well. They were fun. William enjoyed shelling them. Take away, quadruple the black beans, double the navy. 

Potatoes. For the past two years we have been planting in tires. Our friends swear by this method. They just flip the tires, harvest the potatoes, reset the tire, and shovel the dirt back in. This has not been a successful thing for us. Next year, we go back to planting them the old fashion way. We are also going to try planting our potatoes in the fall, as well as planting our onions then as well (thanks for that tip, Northsider.  It would not have occurred to me.) 

Cabbages are the unexpected success. I had planted two cabbage plants last year, but they were nibbled down. I planted two more, but they were also nibbled down. This year I planted two more, without any real hope. Quite amazingly, we did not have a problem with groundhogs this year, and the cabbages grew. So did the other cabbage plants. I had cabbage everywhere. I harvested my first one, and it was wonderful. It was amazing to me that you can leave the roots winter, and they will set up for next year all by themselves, so we will be planting them near the place where we planted 18 asparagus roots in the spring of 2020. (I am keeping the faith, Ed.) They will be part of the permanent garden. 

The pepper plants continue to produce abundantly. Chiles, jalapenos, and sweet bell peppers. The bell peppers grew chest high, which I have never seen before. They were from seeds I got from an Amish pepper, and I have more. I picked half a bushel of peppers yesterday, and as long as it doesn't frost, I will have that many again next week. 

Zucchinis were great. I think we'll plant one summer squash plant next year instead of multiples, and plant more zucchini. 

Corn was, once again, an abysmal failure. We cannot grow sweet corn to save our souls. Next year I'm going to try planting it in a square patch instead of 3 or 4 rows. 

The great vegetable harvest is winding down and the great meat harvest is gearing up. I'm pleased with the garden progress.  

Any gardening suggestions for next year? Leave a comment!



Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Final Countdown

 When I arrived back at work on Tuesday morning, the supervisor said, "Did you hear about Friday's announcement?" 

I told her that I hadn't. 

She said that the company had offered an extension, a new end date of January 14th. The bad news is that they wanted my answer by the end of the day.

I didn't really need to talk to Tim about it. We both saw this train 'a-coming down the tracks'. I said right along that the job would not be done in November. 

Also, Tim has not received his 90 day lay-off notice yet from his company. When he gets that, he's guaranteed 90 more days, and the company can lay him off at any time after that period. He'll be working right up until mid-January at a minimum. 

It seemed sensible for me to accept the extension until January 14th. She looked a little surprised when I said that I would accept it. 

Later, I reprogrammed the countdown app I had going for my last day. I'm a practical person, but despite all that practicality, it was hard to watch the countdown go from 29 days to 94 days. 

More traveling money, I tell myself.


Conversation with a three year old

 My grand daughter is at a very fun age. 

Her parents went out for a brief date night, meeting up with another couple for dinner. Date night with 'ama is pretty special too, though, and we were looking forward to our time, just as much as they were looking forward to their time. 

But by the end of the day, though, tots begin to wind down. For those of you not familiar with three year olds, when they wind down, they are prone to move quickly between laughing and having a fine time, and sobbing over some minor inconvenience as if their tiny sweet little hearts have been well and truly broken. 

'Ama tries very hard to avoid tears. 

So we did calm activities, She loves to be a helper, and so when I switched the laundry from the washer to the dryer, she helped. We took the laundry basket of clothes we had taken out of the dryer into the livingroom, and sat on the floor together sorting laundry. She looked for washcloths to fold. Without warning, she laid down on the floor and began rolling in the laundry, screaming joyously. 

I observed that she was a screaming mimi. She had never heard that term before and she sat up straight to consider it, and in the considering, decided she did NOT like being called a screaming mimi. Forthrightly, she told me this.

"Oh, no," I said. "Am I in time out?" 

Delightedly, she told me I was. Furthermore, I was required to get off the floor and go to the time out place, which is the bottom stair step. She led me tenderly down the hall, explaining about three minutes I was required to sit there. 

Once I was properly seated, she went back down the hall. For effect, I threw a fit while I was sitting there, wailing that I did not want to be in time out. Patiently she reinforced the three minute time frame. Once I was quiet, she came briskly back down the hall. to kneel in front of me. 

Sweetly, she said, "Do you understand why you are sitting here." 

I said, "Because I called you a screaming mimi." 

In a very patient and rational voice, she explained that calling people names could hurt their feelings and that we don't call people names. 

I nodded and she said, "Okay, let's hug it out," and she gave me a big hug and led me back to the laundry in the living room. 

As I folded laundry, she suddenly dropped back down on the pile and began rolling around and screaming joyfully. I laughed. She said, "Call me a screaming mimi again."

"I am not doing that! I don't want to go in time out again."

She considered this, obviously disappointed. "Weeeeeeelll," she said, "we could be-tend that you called me screaming mimi." 

"As long as we are pretending, I guess that would be okay." 

So once again, she began rolling in the laundry and screaming and I dutifully called her a screaming mimi. 

She popped up and said, "Time out for you, ama!" She led me down the hall, explaining gently that I must listen when I am told not to do something. 

Monday, October 4, 2021

Generations

 I was loading a child's school desk to take to a professional to be refinished when I heard it, a low anguished, "Moooooommmm..." 

As any mother can attest, it doesn't matter how old your children are, when someone calls "Mom!" you automatically look. I looked. 

It turned out that a girl was standing near the bushes at the end of our driveway talking on her cell, evidently to her mother. 

"Are you okay?" I asked. 

"Yes," she answered. 

"I just heard the 'mom!' and wanted to make sure. It's the mom in me, I suppose.' I continued loading the desk and the little wooden chair.

"I was just walking to work and talking to my mom. She's not very helpful sometimes."

Curiously, I said, "Where do you work?" She told me. It was a couple miles down the road. 

"That's a bit of a hike," I said. I told her that after I dropped off the desk and chair at the refinishers, I needed to get a few groceries for the week. "I can give you a ride up there if you don't mind the detour," I said. 

She didn't have to be to work until 5:30. It was not yet 4. She agreed. So I got everything in the back seat and we headed off. 

She was a talker. She was a mother herself, getting pregnant when she was 17. The baby lived with her ex and his new girlfriend, and the new girlfriend was teaching him to call her 'mama' and that bothered her something awful. 

I remembered my ex-son-in-law doing that with William and his new flame. It was terribly hurtful and it was meant to be hurtful. I offered up the same advice I had given to my own daughter: This won't last. Be bigger than the hurt. Don't fall into the trap of arguing about it and showing him your hurt, because that's where his power comes from. You just focus on being the best mom you can be and let the crap fall to the side."

She said, "It's hard." 

I said, "Sure. This is a hard time. But hard times pass."

She was quiet, and then changed the subject. She thanked me for the ride. "I don't have a driver's license," she said. "My mom never taught me." 

I said, "That's the wonderful thing about being an adult. You have the power to change that."

She was quiet again. She didn't seem to know what to say. She expected sympathy, someone to say that her boyfriend was a shit, and that her mother had really been derelict in her role. 

She talked about her son, who is two. He will turn 3 just as she turns 21. We got to our destination and walked through the parking lot together. She was very early for work but at least she wasn't walking in the rain. 

When I headed out, later, I heard her on the phone with her mother. "I'm doing the best I can!" she snapped. 

That girl's got a rough row to hoe. By extension, so does her mother. I wish them well.


Sunday, October 3, 2021

Death

 We had to give notice to a tenant at the beginning of last month. There was a lot of suspicious activity going on. It was a shame, because she was a really hard working girl, but she seems to have had a pretty big problem. 

In any case, Tim took a day off work to put the finishing touches on the apartment, and he put a notice in the paper. We had a surprising number of responses to the ad, and made a decision on Friday. We rented to an elderly couple. He has terminal cancer. 

What is sweet about this is that he seems to be very much about making sure she is taken care of when he is gone. They sold their house in the country once he was unable to take care of the upkeep. The housing market is 'hot' now, and the house went much more quickly than they expected. The closing date is not yet determined, but they know they need to get their things moved out. 

She came alone to look at the apartment, a very tiny, spunky sort of woman whose life revolves around her dying husband. The whole situation is so very touching, his thoughts being all about her, her thoughts being all about him. 

What is also touching is that Tim knows the man, having become acquainted with him long ago, when he was in his 20s. Tim feels a responsibility to make things easier for the both of them and so we went over to the apartment to decide what adaptations would be needed to help the two of them.  

Yesterday, driving to pick up our stove, Tim said, "It's so strange. I never would have imagined all those years ago that I would be renting a place to him in his final days." 

Our lives have certainly changed over the course of these past 25 years. 

"I wonder how we will be, when we are of an age, when we are looking at the end," I wondered out loud. 

We drove in silence pondering. One of us will be first. One of us will be left behind. 

It is a sobering thought, but a fact of life. In the end, death comes for us all. Let there be love. 


Saturday, October 2, 2021

Nice

 Turns out, Gary was 'a nice bloke' (as Andrew put it) after all. After he collected the bids and called me, one of the people who had declined to bid higher than my bid changed her mind. She called to tell Gary that she had changed her mind and was willing to pay $100 more than his highest bid. Gary said, "I can't do that. I already told them they have it." 

The woman wanted it badly and tried to debate. Gary told her that he had been very clear when he spoke to her the previous day. It was too late to change her mind.

If he had changed his mind, it would have broken my heart. I told him so. 

"I knew it," he said.

Laughs

 It was a day of getting ready to go, getting everything packed up. We are headed east to see Iris' ballet recital.  I picked up some la...