My sister's computer was disassembled, which is why I didn't journalize on Friday night. Her significant other, Dave, had an EMT's nightmare of a call on Friday night; the kind of call where there was a counseling session the next day for the ambulance crews and there's another scheduled for everyone involved. It involved a BWI, and Dave's crew transported a boy roughly his nephew's age who was beyond saving. Dave was in no shape to attend the wedding, and none of our relatives could blame him -- if any of them had, I might well have yelled at them.
I took my nightly med so I was knocked out before Dave got back home and we learned the details. Mom and Pamela couldn't sleep, and we ended up starting out at about 04:00; an hour later than Pamela had wanted. I slept for most of the trip since my medication does not care whether I'm supposed to be up or not. We got to Gettysburg at about 10:00. We ran into Uncle Rich as we checked in and chatted for a while. Also a woman who is my aunt's ex-husband's sister recognized Mom, which was neat.
Even though my room wasn't ready (check-out time is 11:00 and check-in time is 15:00) they counted me as checked in, which was good since we didn't get back from the wedding until after 18:00. For those who don't read some of my friends' journals, I'd mentioned the policies of this particular hotel: they charge you for your room (not just run it through to see if your credit card can handle it, but actually charge your card) when you reserve it, and then they will give it away if you fail to check in by 18:00. I never got around to contacting the BBB, but my Uncle Rich said that he's had that happen in other touristy areas before -- at least the part about pre-charging for the room.
Sandy's wedding was fairly nice and mercifully short for a Catholic ceremony. Her older sister, Meredith, had a full mass which lasted for over 90 minutes in an un air-conditioned church in the middle of July in Maryland. Sandy's had two relatively short readings, the gospel/homily, the exchange of vows, and then the recessional. It probably lasted about 45 minutes, maybe less. The readings were not what I would have chosen. One was about a wife on a wedding night who decides to pray for a while, and the second was from I Corinthian, but it wasn't the one I was expecting (Love is not jealous and so on), but instead one about not thinking lustful thoughts.
My oldest cousin's 14 month-old was a junior ring-bearer, his job was to toddle down the very long aisle after the actual ring-bearer; Meredith's son Aaron. Sandy was escorted halfway down the aisle by her step-father, and then the rest of the way by her biological father. I think it was a great way to include both, but then Sandy has always been very conscientious about not leaving people out. She wore an off-the-sleeve strapped gown with some subtle embroidery and a big old hoop skirt. I have a bunch of pictures which I'll put up when I get a chance after I get home.
The wedding and reception happened in a very strange mix of Maryland and Pennsylvania. On the way to the hotel, which is in Pennsylvania, we actually crossed over into Maryland for a mile or three. We also crossed the Mason-Dixon line in the brief jaunt in Maryland. The hotel was in Gettysburg Pennsylvania and the church in Frederick Maryland, about half hour apart. We rode with Uncle Rich and Susanna (well, I rode with Uncle Doug and Julie on the way there so I could see my youngest cousin, Curtis), and he needed gas and Pamela needed a card for Sandy.
Now, those of you who've read this journal for a while know that my sense of direction is, well, non-existent. Those who haven't, just trust me on this one. This trait most definitely comes from my mom's side of the family. In fact, when she was growing up, whenever the family went on trips and got lost, Grandpa would ask Mom which way she should turn, and then he would go the opposite way. Every time. And they always got to familiar territory immediately thereafter. One time Mom made such a fuss that he went in the direction she wanted to, and they got hopelessly lost until he finally used the reverse-Yvonne method to get them back to civilization. Sadly I guess correctly about 5% of the time, so the reverse-Cat method isn't quite as foolproof. I think Pamela got more of her direction sense from Dad's side.
Anyway, as I was saying, Mom's side of the family is directionally challenged. Sandy is Mom's sister's daughter, and Uncle Rich (who was driving) is Mom's brother (His trip to PA from Rhode Island took some 14 hours because he got lost). We were in this weird reality of alternating Maryland/Pennsylvania, and the town near the hotel was one of those "one store" deals, but the store wasn't on their iteration of Main Street. Hilarity ensued. On the way though we did find their volunteer ambulance station, so Pamela got a t-shirt and a patch for Dave's collection. Interesting side note: had Uncle Rich had us lost for four more miles his SUV's gas mileage would have been 30 mpg based on how many miles vs how many gallons it took.
We were back well in time for the reception, which started late because the photographer was taking pictures for quite a while. The place was decorated gorgeously, with tons of balloons. Sandy loves children and invited everyone to bring theirs, and oddly enough they were for the most-part really well-behaved, and I'm not just saying that because I was related to most of them. None cried during the mass, and at the reception they mostly jumped around on the dance floor. One of the flower girls caught Sandy's bouquet, which always irks me a bit (I think if it were up to me I'd say "All single females of marriageable age" for the bouquet tossing). On the other hand since it was a ten-year-old who caught it they skipped the garter toss thing, which I've hated since I first saw one done.
I skipped out on the reception shortly after cake was cut. They did the dances first, and the music would have been appropriately loud for a room roughly three times the size of the one we were in. It's a good thing I partially depend upon lip-reading to hear, because people were going hoarse shouting above the music and were still barely audible. The reception ended at 22:00 and I chatted a bit (but not nearly enough) with Kim who, as a Halloween baby born in the same year I was, was the cousin closest to my age in either family. She always spent the summers with Grandma and Grandpa, and since they lived about five miles from us, she, Pamela, and I have always been very close. I need to figure out a way to keep in contact with her, especially now that Andy and I aren't within driving distance of the family reunions (usually held in PA midway between upstate NY, Maryland, and Rhode Island) any more.
The plan for today had been to leave about 09:00-ish and meet up with Father Wally (Grandma's brother) and Aunt Helen (Grandma's sister) at the restaurant where the small annual gathers (as opposed to Hershey park, where the larger bi-annual reunions) occur. The other thing people will learn if they hang out with me or read this journal enough is that a Pilny leaving on time for anything is reason to be looking out the window in case DEATH, Famine, Pollution, and War go by on their motorbikes. Andy is working on overriding the particular trait in me, with some modest success, but relapse would be very easy. The net result is that Pamela got me up at 09:00 and I was ready within about fifteen minutes. I could easily have taken another forty-five and not effected the actual time of departure.
Mom rode with Uncle Rich and I rode with Pamela and Susanna, my penultimate-youngest cousin. Mom rang Aunt Helen, who said Father Wally had probably already eaten, so when we stopped at Father Wally's they informed us that the plans had changed and that Aunt Helen would be joining us, we'd visit him for a bit, and then we'd head for home. Aunt Helen pulled up about two minutes after we arrived, and we had fun with Father Wally. He lives in a retirement home for priests and has diabetes and some vicious arthritis, but he is still extremely quick on the uptake. I rarely get a chance to see him and Uncle Rich playing off of one another, but they were really going at it today. Father lives in a nice but very small apartment, and after playing dollar bill Poker (If anyone wants an explanation, comment or e-mail me) with Pamela and Uncle Rich (and giving all of his winnings to Susanna), he asked if we wanted to go to lunch. He has said before that he desperately wants to get out of his apartment as much as possible, so we decided to go for it.
Father Wally and Aunt Helen live in a relatively small area. It was really neat to see people actually stepping aside for an old guy with a walker. The food was good, the waitress was very confused (the first thing Father Wally told her was to put everyone but Uncle Rich on a separate bill), and much fun was had by all. Miraculously no one managed to laugh while eating or drinking even though the laughter was abundant. After discussing various things, especially baseball, Father Wally officially wasn't talking to anyone on Uncle Rich's side of the table except Susanna. I managed to alert both managers on duty as to the heroism of our waitress and left her a few extra dollars in the tip. She actually had made up a second bill for Uncle Rich, and he went up to take care of it.
While there he also took care of the rest of the bill, thus getting back at Father Wally, who had planned to treat everyone, even Uncle Rich. The funny thing was that when the waitress mentioned this I was the only one to hear it, and Uncle Rich had come back, retrieved Susanna, and taken off, begging a long ride with several sets of directions between Aunt Helen and Father Wally. No one believed me that he had treated until they called her over and asked her for the bill, and at that point she got even more confused. I don't blame her one bit.
Before they left I invited Susanna to come visit for a week either next summer or the one after, depending upon when we actually get a house. In response to a comment ladonne left the other day, we officially begin house-hunting the day I get back, October 1st. Whether we actually start that day or wait until the next is open to question, but October was the original plan. Oh, and Uncle Rich was ok with the idea even after I told him about the black widow callicrates discovered in our garage Saturday afternoon.
The drive home was uneventful. I did crossword puzzles (I can just hear people fainting with surprise) and occasionally heckled Mom and Pamela. We discussed the newest information we'd gotten on various family members and the very latest in the ever-changing world of What's Good For You (Butter is in, trans fats are out, various urban legends of everyday objects rendering microwaved food poisonous, etc). My cell phone, which worked only randomly in Rome, not very well in Syracuse (possibly due to interference from Dave's police scanner) and not at all at the hotel actually did work on the Interstate. Well, at least until we passed between one of Pennsylvania's many towering walls of <insert rock here>. After being cut off three times Andy and I agreed to send e-mail to each other later. We did manage to get a call in to Dave long enough to get directions, since Pamela had never tried to get to her new house via the road we were taking.
After we got there and discovered that Dave had been a very busy bee while we were gone (they can now actually park a car in their garage), they talked me into playing cards. I haven't played in approximately forever; in fact Mom didn't realize I even knew how to play, despite frequent heckling on my part. I can't remember why I stopped playing, but it has probably been about ten years. We played racehorse pitch, which is for money. I wouldn't have played but Dave and Pamela offered to lend me a dollar and let me keep anything over $1.00 if I won. Mom quickly discovered that I do indeed remember how to put people up^W^W^Wplay. Since Dave had work tonight and Pamela has to get up early tomorrow we left at about 20:00.
On the way home we stopped for Chinese. I'd called it in and asked them to have it ready in 45 minutes. It took us more like 55 to get there, but it was ok. Their food is always way too hot and I have to wait 15 minutes or so before I can eat it. This time it was at the optimum temperature, more or less. Bandit and Noia hadn't eaten much of the food we left, and Noia began yowling at us even before we opened the door. When I sat down to eat she began eating and purring up a storm. I wonder if she was waiting for someone to eat along with. Afterward she let me pet her without pulling any Jekyll/Hydes, though I wasn't brave enough to risk foozling her.
Tomorrow it's supposed to rain but Tuesday it's supposed to clear up at about noon. We're going to go to Howe Caverns tomorrow; I've been there twice before, and I want to see it again before I venture out to Carlsbad Cavern(s) in New Mexico. Uncle Rich has mostly talked Mom into trading in the Toyota she hates so much for a Honda, and since I've had very recent experience in the Honda-buying shtick, I'll probably tag along.
On Tuesday we plan on visiting Mary (Grandpa's widow, for those just joining us) and then, if it's cleared up, heading up to Old Forge. Leaves aren't yet at their peak, but hopefully there will be enough change to tide me over. The McCauley mountain ski lift won't be open, but apparently the trail can be walked in relatively short order. I'm actually more interested in Moose River, come to that, but a hike up the mountain certainly won't hurt.