Last Sunday, we piled the kids in the car and drove south to my ancestral state of Tennessee where we stayed at my parents' home for just under a week. Nearly every time we have done this in the past, someone has been ill, either succumbing just prior to departure or shortly thereafter. Last year, David was recovering from pneumonia and Devon had an ear infection. Devon was also sick the year before that, as was David. In fact, it's almost always a small child or David or both, but never me. This time, miraculously, no one had even a sniffle and Devon, bless her heart, was sunny, sweet, and pleasant almost the entire time.
But it was still incredibly stressful, as family visits always are.
Arrangements had been made for us to drive on Thursday to Franklin, where my brother lives, to meet up at his house for a couple hours with my sister and her family and then go to a restaurant that they recommended for Thanksgiving dinner. Sparta, where my parents live, is about 2 hours away from Franklin, and there is nothing in between the two. NOTHING. Miles and miles and miles of NOTHING. And while getting there was long and boring, coming back was worse because you know what's out your window when you drive through nothing at night? INFINITE, IMPENETRABLE BLACKNESS. Driving down windy, two-lane highways in a thick, dense shroud of negative nothing is not exactly boring. IT'S TERRIFYING. I was absolutely sure that either a huge, 20-point deer was going to leap out of the void and impale us all or some crazy redneck, blurry-eyed from a case of Bud Light and too much family togetherness, would cross the median and we'd all be obliterated in a greasy smear on the pavement in the middle of NOWHERE. As it was, we nearly hit a dog and an albino skunk. Seriously. It probably plays banjo and owns a still.
As I have done all my life, and will probably continue to do even after I am dead, I overdressed myself and my family for the occasion. For me, that is still not saying much, since I don't own any decent clothes, but I did wear real shoes with heels (stacked heels, but still) and the girls had on dresses. David was going to wear a tie, but I actually managed to think clearly just long enough to tell him to just bring it and put it on if he felt he needed it. Naturally, everyone else was in jeans and t-shirts. I do this all the time. I always assume that if I go casual, no one else will, and I'll look like the idiot who has no respect for others and can't dress properly. But instead, I always look like the idiot who dresses like a grandma: pearls and pumps just to buy a can of tuna.
Dinner itself was pretty sad, at least for me. I have a...ahem...condition, resulting from having my gall bladder removed about 10 years ago. Most people live without a gall bladder just fine, but others - five percent, maybe - can't tolerate the bile just being dumped into their intestines constantly. I won't go into all the details, but I will say that it is rather painful. How painful? People wonder why I was willing to give birth twice without pain medication, and it is because, even though labor lasts longer and is certainly more exhausting, it doesn't actually hurt as much as the cramps this condition produces.
Naturally, it happened on the way to Franklin, and though it eased up a bit throughout the visit and dinner, I knew it wasn't over (and hoo, boy it wasn't - at certain points on the ride home I was hoping that deer would show up and put me out of my misery). So I wasn't too willing to stuff my face at dinner. Not that I would have anyway, probably, since it was all buffet style and I have a deep-seated dislike of buffets. Besides the fact that you just have no clue what some of the dishes actually are (Oh, that's undercooked possum with jellied phlegm and mule hoof gravy! Specialty of the house!) there's also the bacteria-loving semi-warm temperature and the blatant lack of even a sneeze guard (at least there wasn't one at this joint, and I don't believe they help anyway). You just know people are picking up every roll and individual pecan pie and setting it back down, even though they pulled something long and green out of their nose only moments before. Gaaack.
But even if it had been made by my own hands and served on bone china, I couldn't have eaten it. The trip back was bad enough, and if I had stuffed myself on top of it, we would have had to pull over somewhere in the pitch black and I would have taken my chances in the dark with the albino vermin.
I did not sew a stitch while I was there, mainly because it was time to upgrade my phone and I got a good deal on a refurbished Droid X, so I spent a lot of time just playing with that. I do love a new gadget. When I wasn't doing that, I was reading. I'm on the fifth book of the Outlander series, and oh, poor Roger! I honestly don't know what I'm going to do when I am through with the last book. Probably start all over and read them again. Or die. That seems not unlikely, considering the depth of my addiction and the potential withdrawal symptoms an end to the series will no doubt cause.
So I have nothing stitchy to show you, but I will show you a few photos I managed to take while we were there. Sadly, there were no albinos willing to pause long enough to be photographed.
My parents' house.
The view from the back.
Happy to be out of the car.