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September 11, 1998
a year ago

Shopping Frenzy

There were 100 name tags on the table by the front door when we started the party. When we were cleaning up the aftermath, we discovered that there were only five tags left. That gives you some idea as to the magnitude of Fezzik's 10th birthday party.

My sister arrived Thursday night, fairly late in the evening, but not quite as late as she had first been planning on arriving. Alaska had had another flight an hour earlier, so I had asked her to take the earlier flight, simply so that we wouldn't go to sleep far too late. John and I arrived at the airport a mere ten minutesbefore flight was to arrive, and they had changed the signs at the airport for where the parking was, which caused just enough confusion for John that we ended up at the check in/ticketingarea rather than in the normal parking area. So, he let me out of the Range Rover before going to find parking.

I walked to the gate, and waited for the plane to come in. Kathy was seated near the back, so, the moment she walked out of the tunnel John walked out of the security gate. She had checked to some luggage, so we went to the luggage area to claim her stuff. Kathy and John get along very well, both are youngest in their families, so have many characteristics that they understand and share with each other. Including the ability to laugh much more freely and some first kids, namely me.

The drive back home was fun. It's been quite a long time since I've seen her, and it was good to just be able to talk with her after so long.

She was sick, recovering from a cold that she had had, and had even taken a sick day for just the day before. So, I found some powdered Gatorade for her, she had it hot and with the extra liquids was able to re-hydrate after the flight. We just sat in talked over hot beverages and caught up. We all went to sleep before too late, as the following day would be a busy one.

John went to work, as he had too many things to do. I stayed home with Kathy, and the two of us went over the list that John then I had made for what we needed to get for the party. There were three major stops on the list: Costco, Target, and a grocery store. Costco had the major purchases, most of the food, drink, and picnic supplies, i.e. silverware, paper napkins, and tablecloths. So, we went there first.

For an early Friday afternoon, Costco was fairly crowded. I waffled about how much cart space I would need, and finally decided on just one cart. A decision I would regret later. But sooner, Kathy and I wandered up and down the aisles with the cart, gradually filling it with all the things we needed. More than a hundred hamburger buns, bags of tomatoes, a bag of sweet peppers, a cake that had a dog hanging out of a car window on the icing, a flat of chicken breasts, hot dog buns galore, three giant bags of chips, two cases of pop, a box of Thomas Kemper root beer, and then, when we tried to fit in the bale of toilet paper, we figured out that there was just not enough room.

Kathy ran off to get another cart, and when she came back, we piled most of the bulkier stuff into her cart. We then found the eggs, in cartons of 18, the half gallon cartons of half and half (yes, that is exactly as horrifying as it sounds, and was for the ice cream), Solo cups by the 200, tablecloths, napkins, and most of the rest of the list that we expected to find at Costco. It turned out to be two full cart loads.

We paid at the registers, and then rolled our booty out to the car. Kathy has been having problems with her hands as well, worse than mine, even, so I did most of the loading and unloading and she was very helpful with the wrangling of carts. She hauled away the carts as I unloaded things. As I unloaded the carts, I checked to make sure that everything we bought was there. The perplexing thing was that there was an extra double stack of the Solo cups, that I hadn't put in the cart. We double checked the receipt, and the extra stack wasn't on it. It looked like the cashier had added the stack, somehow. An extra bonus, it seemed.

Since there was so much meat, we decided to go home with the load. Kathy was great and helped me unload the car, being careful of how she carried things. We stacked things up in the back room, to keep things out of the way of the maids, who were rumored to be coming that day. The stuff that had to go into the refrigerator we managed to put away, with some shuffling of the contents to make room. I eyed the space that was left and wasn't sure that we could fit everything that was on the grocery list that needed to also go into the refrigerator. Kathy, however, was more optimistic, so we went out and did the rest of the shopping list.

Kathy's cold was not getting better, and she needed a few cold remedies, some more Kleenex, and lots more Gatorade. So, we went to Target and got her all that she needed, as well as a few things I needed and wanted. Emily's birthday party was going to be Sunday morning, and John had said that her wish list included various items for her hair, and I saw some beautiful rainbow colored hair ties as well as gold, silver, and pearl-tipped flexible hair combs. So, I bought them for her.

The grocery store was next, a Safeway a few blocks away. I am somewhat annoyed by the Safeway membership program, where members get a special price on various items within the store. It seems hokey. They did, however, have everything we needed on the list, except for the powdered vanilla I prefer, from Cook's. I usually get the powdered vanilla, because the liquid extracts usually lose their potency in the time it takes for me to use an entire bottle. I knew John would be going by a QFC on his way home from work, and I knew they carried the vanilla.

The butcher was the last stop, and we picked up the box of hamburger patties, 10 pounds of hamburger, as well as a dozen sausages for those that didn't want to eat hamburger. We had about six pounds of chicken, so it was nearly 20 pounds of meat. We had 60 RSVPs, so I was estimating about a third of a pound per person. There were also eight giant Portabello mushrooms, for the pure vegetarians. Kathy and I got everything home, and, somehow, managed to rearrange the refrigerator until everything fit. It seemed a minor miracle.

By then, it was fairly late in the afternoon, and I had to get her to Heidi and Jeff's place, as she was staying there for the night. It was city side, so, in order to beat rush hour traffic, we left around 4 p.m.. We managed to miss the worst of the traffic, but realized, about a third of the way there, that we didn't know where we're going. Kathy hadn't given me the address yet, and I had assumed that they were staying in their old apartment. They had moved. Kathy had the new address, and read it aloud to me. I got confused, and mixed the North-South grid up with the East-West grid, and got thoroughly confused. Luckily, Kathy had her celphone with her and it was in a service area, so she called Heidi. She got an answering phone, but Heidi called her phone back almost immediately and gave Kathy instructions on how to get to her house. I realized, after about the first two sentences from Kathy, that I had mixed the grids up, and had a much better feel of where I was going with the instructions.

We made it.

I also made it home without incident. Only to find that the maids hadn't appeared, but there was a phone message saying that they would make it the next day, before the party.

John and I did preparations for the party for most of the evening. When John had a list of the things that were necessary for the next day, and I had nothing else left to do, I made dinner for the two of us. Kathy had given me the general guidelines for making a certain type of homestyle sushi. I had a slab of King salmon, which I fried in butter on the stove and then kinda mashed into small pieces. I made sushi rice with rice vinegar and medium grain rice, and then wetted my hands and made rice balls around salmon filling. It was fun, as the rice didn't stick to my hands when they were wet. So I'd smash a disk into my left palm, spoon on salmon, and then top with more rice and then press it all together so that it would all stick together. We ate them with various vegetables that we had bought. Then I went to take a bath and sleep. I was so tired that I never did hear Flynn arrive.

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