Ali had been puny Friday so she stayed home, and Jeff had taken the afternoon off to hang out with her. I got home early myself, and by the time I did, she was feeling chipper again and in fine shape for dinner and a movie.
With me out of the picture most of the time, they pretty much had a father-daughter 3-day weekend. Like many of our Olympians, Alison's volleyball team failed to triumph, but she reports that the audition went well. We'll find out this weekend if she gets a part in the Young Actors Theater production of "The Jungle Book."
My Friday outing was a team building, reward trip. The quarterly events are always fun and close to Indy. This was the first foray to a local casino. I'm not usually much of a gambler but I cashed out $47.72 after playing penny slots primed with $5 in free money and $2 of my own. I also got a painting lesson in a wine & canvass class. Not a bad day at the office. Alison, demonstrating what a great daughter she is, thought the painting was wonderful and hung it in her room. (She is not destined to be a successful art critic.)
But in the words of her father, "Your mother has certainly hung enough of YOUR art on the walls, I guess it is your turn." So there it hangs.
Book Club, as always, was great. We reviewed "The Dinner" which is chock full of horrible, horrible people doing unspeakable things in the name of good parenting. But the writing is so good it keeps you right there til the bitter end, and it evoked a lot of great discussion.
It was really a bad pick in a way; we were also celebrating a wonderful thing -- our fourth book club member's imminent motherhood. But we're that kind of club. We can mix a Cat in the Hat baby shower cake with a despicable book discussion and still manage to have a fabulous time. For baby showers, we give our honoree our favorite baby books to stock the little ones' libraries. So regardless of the book to judge, we have books to love. So it's all good.
It was a long day, though, and Saturday dawned with my solo road trip at hand. Alison had auditions for her next play and a volleyball game so Jeff stayed behind to play driver/cheerleader for her.
It's roughly a four-hour road trip to the bottom of the state, but I was living large because Eric Church was my co-pilot. For those of you who are not as cool as I am (and Patricia Jackson who was confused about how I could be both solo and co-piloted) Eric Church (IMO) is this generation's Johnny Cash.
He's twisted and tortured; can't decide if he's country or rock; has a solid connection to Jesus but doesn't much trust anything organized -- religion or the music industry. He's scruffy and cranky and sometimes gets in trouble just by being honest. I can identify with that.
He's also got a new album out and I have a lot of his stuff already. So we cozied up a bit on my nearly eight hours on the road. Well, I cozied up. He just sang.
It was bright and sunny but still February, so the top was up on my car -- a good thing because I might have been arrested for my off-key bellowing. It was a joyful noise, but few would have appreciated it.
Whenever I drive from Indianapolis to Evansville, Ind., it's a trip down memory lane. Like most people, my lane has some smooth spots but more than a few pot holes, so my musical choice was dead on.
I have flashbacks of making that same drive time after time to see this terrible ex-boyfriend who was so bad my father once threatened to tell my brothers how to get to Indianapolis if ever went back to him. The gas stations/convenience store my father and I stopped when he used to drive me to ISU back before he ever trusted me to make that drive by myself. (A story for another day...)
Or the time Kelly Porter Sego and I once chased the cops and firetrucks down U.S. 41 and Wabash Avenue to a scene of a crime back in our Tribune-Star reporter days. (The shift captain was not amused but we got the story.) Or that time last summer Ali and I played softball all day with Jaime and her girls and friends at a field that abuts the highway.
It's a long way to Evansville from Indy. I was lucky that the snow is mostly gone and the roads were clear, but winter is not Indiana's most attractive season. Without snow to coat the gentle swells and vast swatches of flat field in what looks like marshmallow fluff, it's kind of uninviting. The trees are bare, the grass is yellow and there's not a speck of color to be found.
Except for the Big Peach south of Vincennes. And the huge pink elephant at what has to be the world's biggest display of yard art in the country at Hipp Nursery outside of Evansville. Every time we go by there, I remind Jeff that we have no yard art. We don't have a bison or an elephant or a piece of fruit. Heck, we don't even have a little troll. Sigh.
The reason for the trip was to help celebrate what will go down as one of the most perfect weddings I've ever seen. Never in the history of marriage have two people been more perfectly suited than Audrie Koester and Bryant Burkett. Their wedding was a lovely reflection of them, too.
I'd imbibed a bit more on Friday than is usual for me, so I didn't drink at the wedding. Well, the Friday frivolity and the size of the ditches on the country road that got you to the church kept me from drinking.
I'm not sure how much drainage a corn field needs, but apparently in Vanderburgh County, there's a lot of run-off. A whole house could fall into those ditches and never be seen again, I swear.
Or maybe it's a DUI deterrent. It certainly deterred me, I'll tell you that.
I had delusions that I'd meet the wedding party at the hotel bar but I wore my fancy shoes and once I had them off, the king size bed and the remote control sort of sucked me in. I'm pretty sure they managed to party well without me. Plus, I had a breakfast date with Patrick and Patricia Jackson.
It turns out that it's been almost two years since I'd seen the Jacksons. We usually have dinner Thanksgiving weekend but illness kept them away last year. I'm pretty sure we wore out our welcome at the U.S. 41 Denny's, which is a suprisingly happening place.
By the time we noticed we'd been hogging a table for longer than we probably should, the church crowd was arriving, but good friends are like that. You may not see them for years but the minute you're reunited, it seems like yesterday and then all of a sudden it's time to separate again.
So it was back to just Eric and me for the ride home. Thanks to cruise control and a dread of explaining another speeding ticket to the Captain, I managed to have an ISP-free journey. Maybe Eric Church should always be my co-pilot...