Friday, August 17, 2007

Simply Newsy Unless, Perhaps, You Belong to my Family

A week left in the U.S.
Together James and I have covered much of the nation. After flying in from Dayton, J helped a friend move from Portland to Houston, and this week he helped another friend move to D.C. I think he’s ready for a nap.

As for me – MN, KS, much of IL, IA, and OH have been covered in the Midwestern Tour of 2007. However, I’ve had plenty of naps, sometimes with babies and toddlers snoozing on me, and other times on the 13 hour train ride from Dodge City to Galesburg, by which time I could have been in Africa, but dang it if those train seats aren’t way more comfy than a plane’s. My new niece is a sweaty-headed little cutie, and my nephew is an utter and hilarious joy. Visited the twins, a pair of nieces about to walk, in IA; saw MN buddies, J’s OH family, my southern IL family, etc. Below, you will see my favorite little boy on his first fishing trip courtesy of Grandpa. He couldn't sit still yet managed to catch three bass.

Deer in my parents' yard:

Last weekend Mom and I went to Granny’s 80th birthday bash. Aunt Tammy, the caterer, had a cake made with an edible replica of Granny as a 16 year old and had put together a photo collage of Granny, all of her children, and each of her eleven grandkids.

Nobody seemed willing to eat the part of the cake where Granny’s face was:

My dear granny glowed with happiness, and there was the usual grinning and laughter of the women in the bunch, in addition to the witty repartee of Ashtyn, my cousin Jamie’s oldest kid, who was wearing a chic pair of Hot Wheels sunglasses and was highly interested in the bubble-gum pink punch. Cousins Kelly and Jamie, sisters, are super-cutely-pregnant. And I got to see my “baby” cousins, all grown up now and the cutest (and probably nicest) guys ever. Below are three generations - Granny is 25 years older than Mom, who is 25 years older than me, a fun and symmetrical coincidence that I broke when I leapt beyond 25.

This week I headed to Springfield to do research at the Abraham Lincoln presidential library, which is right across the street from the new museum. The museum is awesome – so awesome it was covered in the Smithsonian magazine when it opened a couple of years ago. If you don’t count my silly fear of the ubiquitous lifelike replicas of Lincoln located at every turn, I had a super time. Recommended. Because of a technical dilemma, the hotel upgraded me to their "Governor's Suite." I seriously doubt if Blagojevich has stayed in that room, but the whirlpool and adjoining meeting room were nice. If only I had had a Power Point presentation to show to my imaginary friends. Downtown Springfield is quite beautiful, but I was sad that I didn’t run into Barack Obama. That ranks right up there with not seeing Dave Chapelle when J and I were in Yellow Springs, OH. I only visited the presidential library, the A. Lincoln museum, and the Old State Capitol, but I've already got some vivid memories of sweltering days and the yellow school bus that transported me and other whiny kids to Lincoln's tomb back in the days of Room Mothers and soggy sandwiches. One day in Springfield I had lunch at a place called The Garden of Eatin’ and was enjoying the music in the cafĂ© when I realized it was the same kind of music I hear all the time in Egypt. I asked one of the girls at the front counter about it, and she said, “I don’t know” and yelled back to the kitchen, “Hey, Habib, what are we listening to?” “It’s Persian,” Habib yelled back. Oh, Arabia – we’ll see you soon.

We’re looking forward to going back to Egypt for several reasons, but one of the most superficial is that we’re sick of traveling. (I know – BOO-freaking-HOO, and get a real job, right?). One of the things I was most concerned about before moving overseas was not spending quality time with family. Yet I think I spent more time with my nephew (and his new little sis) this past year than I would have had I still been in Minneapolis. Something about being far away can make you more thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the people at home. Plus, it can sure as hell guilt people into prioritizing you when you’re here. Anyway, I’m grateful to everybody who gave up time to hang out and glad for the Q-time with all family and friends willing and able to spend it with me. Come visit us in Egypt, and we’ll treat you up right.



The Mom of the pair of nieces said...

Aunt Mandy,

We will miss you!! Thank you for visiting us this summer (especially for our birthday party)!! We love you!
Amanda & Brooke
P.S. Thanks to mommy for typing this.

moonlight ambulette said...

You know, I grew up in Illinois and never once have I visited Springfield. Weird, right?

Next time... put NYC on that itinerary. You won't be disappointed!

Anonymous said...

Your visit has brought smiles to all our faces. We'll miss you.