We'd celebrated in Jasonville with my family where Jaime and Alison beat Rachael and me at euchre.
Highlight quotes: "I'm not saying you're a cheater, but you win suspiciously."
"Hey, I'm not trying to see, but if she SHOWS me her cards, I'm gonna look!"
The food was tremendous and I was extremely grateful that the New England idea that you should boil onions and then serve them in milk had not made it to Indiana.
And yes, I had seconds of mashed potatoes and noodles. Plus dessert. I'd tried to prepare by jogging around the neighborhood before we left Indy. This was nearly a failure because A. I hate to run and B. I run about as fast as Alaskan molasses in December. But I trotted as long and as far as I could and tried not to cry when my muscles cramped up on the drive south west.
It was a lot of fun and ended with most of the girls poring over sale ads in anticipation of hitting the Terre Haute sales. For those of you who think shopping on Thanksgiving is akin to kicking puppies, the trip was largely for a Toys for Tots drive, and hitting the sales greatly expands the ability to buy for the needy. So it's a great thing. We usually don't spend the night on Thanksgiving but I might plan better next year just to help shop.
Ali and I generally spend the Friday after Thanksgiving decorating for Christmas. She has done the tree for the past several years. For a couple years, it boasted most of her stuffed animals, including our Island of Misfit Toys collection.
This year, she went traditional and put the animals above the picture window, taking my suggestion of using a strand of un-matched lights to give them an extra boost.
I've been very crafty this year. I wielded the glue gun with glee, and I had to repaint our outdoor terra cotta snowmen, who'd gotten flaky - and not in a good way. They look great and while I nearly fumigated ourselves out of the house with my applications of sealant, they shouldn't flake for years now.
We got through a lot of the indoor decor Friday before our traditional post-Thanksgiving Day dinner out with Team Jackson. We were all pumped. I'd seen Patrick and Patricia last year when I went down to Evansville for a wedding but Patricia had gotten sick and missed their annual shopping trek to Indy.
We met at Petite Chou - one of our favorite places to eat in the city - and had a fabulous time catching up and just chatting up a storm. No one was seated in our section after we came in. I'm pretty sure we were very entertaining. Maybe a little loud. Maybe.
In between our catching up, I was checking on what seemed to be an outbreak of feral pigs in Jasonville that had gotten the local police involved. Turned out later to be only four escapees from a local farmer (I think) but it was fun for a while.
Dessert was at our house because Deb had sent Jeff home with an entire pecan pie. He was in heaven as was Patricia. Patrick and I agree that all good desserts have chocolate in them and we came home with two servings of pots de creme to go.
Saturday dawned and brought with it a warm front so it was outdoor decorating time. I asked Ali if she wanted to help. She hesitated. I told her I'd pay her. She suggested that we couldn't decorate before we got rid of the remaining leaves in the yard.
I was prepared to make the sacrifice but she was right. So out we set. I dragged down the leaf blower, absently noting that that last time I'd used it, I'd somehow knocked off the cover of the motor. I remember thinking I should fix that. But it hadn't gone back when I tried to re-afix it before and we had stuff to do. So out to the leaves we went.
Ali found the damp leaves unresponsive to the leaf blower and I'd had her snip down dead flowers and ornamental grasses while I took over. Jeff had come out, too, and was starting to apply 15 wheels of light strings, each containing 160-LED multicolored sparklers to the magnolia tree in the front yard.
He was happy because he got to use the ladder of his dreams -- possibly the best birthday and/or Father's Day gift he's ever gotten. (Boys are weird.)
It was about three hours in before it happened. I was in the midst of getting out the leaves beneath the bushes closest the house when I lost my focus. And just like that my index and middle finger met the hard plastic blades of my leaf blower as they whizzed by at a gazillion mph. Maybe 1- gazillion mph.
I was momentarily stunned. Ali and Jeff were at the magnolia. I looked down to see if I still had fingers. And how much blood was going to seep through my purple and black gloves.
It really hurt. Like hurt so much you couldn't really feel it. You know? I think if I'd seen blood, I would have cried out. Or fallen down in a faint among the leaves. But no matter how long I looked, there wasn't any blood.
Here's where you are thankful for reflexes honed in the fires of having to evade saber-toothed tigers or marauding Huns or your brothers' BB gun. I don't know how it happened that my fingers met and fled the flying blades. I'm just glad I had only a little numbness to deal with. And that I wasn't an Angie's List DIY disaster story. (I've used others; I'd have used me, too.)
But with no real harm done, I finished the leaves and went to the rake as fast as I could. I have a newfound affection for that rake. It's awesome.
So something like 15 bags of leaves and debris later, we'd depleted our store of decorations.
Jeff was up in the tree for a few hours. I helped a little.
Years ago, long before we had the fancy ladder, Alison had gotten stuck in that tree. I'm sure she was wearing one of her mesh, frilly skirts and her Dora the Explorer underwear. Under the influence of that early role model, she'd traveled a little too high and couldn't get down. I'd dragged out our old wooden ladder that came with the house, but I couldn't reach her. I was standing out there, craning my neck and trying to talk her down like she was a cat in a tree when our neighbor, John Engle from down the street came ambling over with his extension ladder.
He didn't say much. Just leaned the ladder against the tree, extened it and climbed up to snatch her down. As he left, he said we could come get the ladder anytime we needed it.
Yesterday, as Jeff was high in the tree stringing lights and I stood beneath him, John drove by. He slowed his car and lowered his window. "I'm not going to have come back and get HIM down, am I?" he drawled before driving away.
I doubled over in laughter. Jeff grunted. He probably smiled a bit. For the record, he got down on his own.
Today has been a battle of wills and patience that I lost a few times. Since I got my iPad a few years ago, I've been horrible about backing up and organizing photos. Jeff bought a hard drive specificaly to save the artistry and I spent hours trying to move and organize more than 1,000 photos. It's been made more complicated by the fact that when you modify a photo, it affects its metadata. As a result of something I'm sure I did wrong, we had a bunch of imports that were allegedly shot in 1969. There were whole years's worth with the same date.
I dragged out old paper copies of Photoshoots, did a bit of googling and Jeff and I traded question like, was it 2012 or 2013 we went to Disney? When did James and David get married? What year did Ali first go to spend a week with Auntie Jen? It was maddening.
After what seemed like light years, I escaped to the gym and Jeff took pity on me, doing a large part of the work. I still have to sort and and name a bunch of them, but I'm up to 2011 and have spent tons of time remembering some pretty good times in photos.
In the middle of the work, Team Jackson stopped by on their way out of town with two bottles of what may be the world's best chocolate milk. They'd talked about it at dinner and decided Jeff shouldn't live without the experience. Trader's Point Creamery makes it, and it's like drinking a Hershey bar. It's amazing.
In fact, I'm pretty sure I deserve some right. As I've regained the feeling in my fingers, I can even hold the glass. Plus, I have more damn pictures to label and sort. You need working digits for that.