I stayed with my aunt while in Buffalo, and attended her Stamp Camp on Thursday night (she sells for Stampin' Up and held a Christmas in August card making workshop). She and I share a love of handcrafts. And now I have 4 cool Christmas cards, that I'm hoping I can locate when it's time to send them out.
Friday was my brother's 26th birthday. (He and my other brother had flown in late the night before and had a hotel room in town. My mother and stepfather had driven - yes, they're quite insane - and arrived late the night before as well.) We headed to the home of the original buffalo wings for a birthday lunch. My aunt didn't come with us, as she was busy with the marathon of baking in preparation for Saturday's family picnic.
The birthday boy presenting the spoils of his lunch
We stopped for some delicious soft-serve ice cream (the real thing - not frozen yogurt) on the way back to my aunt's house. I helped her a bit with the baking for a while, and then went with her to the local WW meeting, led by her favorite leader. I gained quite a bit, but was happy I went (reality check). And then more baking after that before my mother and stepfather picked me up to head to Santora's for pizza. No, it was not a low-fat trip. When we still lived in the Buffalo area, my family used to go to Santora's all the time. It's great, but they've remodeled the place since we moved, so it's not quite the same.
Saturday morning my aunt and I drove down to the site of our annual family picnic (it's in the town of Lenox, outside of Syracuse), with her SUV loaded down with cooler's of food and extra blankets and pillows. The picnic itself was fun - less like a picnic than a huge family potluck. We have it at a cabin on a small lake that is co-owned by one of my mother's cousins and a number of his cousins from his other side of the family. It's a beautiful site, and I took quite a few photos on my Sunday morning nature walk. But I'm jumping ahead.
After the major food-fest, when the relatives who live locally to the cabin had gone home, the rest of us (Mom, stepfather, 2 cousins, 2 aunts, 1 uncle, 2 brothers and my cousin's wife) sat down for a Trivial Pursuit tournament. I was on a team with Aunt Fran and my cousin Doug's wife (Doug couldn't come this year, as he was called in for his 2 week training for the National Guard. They are sending him to Egypt for a year shortly). The goal of the tournament was to knock my cousin Greg and my Uncle Tom out of the winning spot, since they won last year (I wasn't there) and never let anyone forget it. My team was ahead for most of the game, which was driving the incumbents crazy. And, like most of the board games played throughout my childhood, and adulthood, for that matter, the game was almost immediately under protest. Anyway, my Aunt Sharon (Tom's wife) and cousin Chris ended up pulling ahead and winning. In the meantime, the team consisting of my two brothers had quit, with Tony hurling thier pie-less game piece into one of the card boxes in disgust. My mother and stepfather left in the middle of the game to start the first leg of their drive back to CA (with a stop in IA to exchange cars).
My cousins (and cousin-in-law) all left early Sunday morning to head back to VA. My brother Joe was antsy to leave, but couldn't get Tony to get up. I'm not sure why he was in such a rush to head back to Buffalo, as the rest of us weren't leaving yet. But it was so like my grandfather that it was almost scary. Aunt Fran headed off to church and I went for an extended nature walk with my camera.
Dewy spiderweb in the grass
After getting back to the cabin, I started tidying up for our departure. Tony was still sleeping, and Joe was fuming, but had given up. Later, after we had all left, Uncle Tom, Aunt Sharon, Aunt Fran and I all went to Sylvan Beach for lunch. Mom's family used to head out there in the summers when they were growing up (I only learned this a few years ago), as two other family members had cottages on the lake (I don't know which relatives now - there are so many to keep straight!)
Thistle with honey bee heavy with pollen
On Monday, Aunt Fran and I met up with my brothers for lunch before they had to head back to the aiport. Then she and I wandered around a few craft stores, where I obtained materials for a crocheted necklace. No photos of that project yet, since it's not finished.
Early Monday morning (very early - 5am) I arrived at the airport for my flight back home. I had to check in at the counter, as my connection was inexplicably unavailable for online check-in (I had tried a few times the night before and that morning). For the first time ever in my memory, the boarding pass printer at the counter ran out of paper. Good thing I checked the envelope before leaving, and noticed that there was only one boarding pass in there. The woman behind the counter couldn't find the key to open the door that would allow her to refill the paper. Come to find out, it's a master key that only a manager had, who was nowhere to be found. Anyway, this caused an uneccesary and annoying delay in the check-in process, which put me back at least 15 minutes. (Those are important minutes.) Then I waited in the security screening line for a full 40 minutes (in the tiny Buffalo airport at 5am!), and still had to find my departure gate. By the time I was through the line, there were only 10 minutes until my flight was scheduled to leave, so I figured I was screwed. What do you know? I was right! The plane wasn't even at the jetway by the time I got to the gate.
So, I was shuffled over to the next gate to wait for the next flight into Chicago, where I could connect to SFO. After the end of the boarding calls, there was one couple who hadn't decided whether or not they were going to get on the flight. The woman was either afraid to fly or sick, as she apparently kept stating that she was going to get sick. One other standby and I had been called to get on board and were already on the jetway when the couple came rushing on, having decided at the last minute to get on the plane. So the other guy (also had missed the same flight I had) and I were called back to the gate to wait for the next flight. Fun.
But, I did get on the next flight and the connection and made it home safely, which is what matters. And it's hard to believe, but I really don't get that worried about flying or making connections, because I figure it's all out of my hands. Don't analyze that logic, since I tend to worry about everything else, whether it's in my control or not.
Anyway, now I'm back, and have contracted some cold or flu or something. Complete congestion, coughing, sneezing, headache and body aches. I'm just happy it hit after the trip and not during. Though I was feeling it a teeny bit before I left. However, this weekend will be all about relaxing and recovering. I am vowing to not make any plans at all. (I haven't had a free weekend to myself in quite some time.)