second day

12.26.12 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia
12.26.12 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia ~ an impressive Santa collection

Driving from New York City to northern Virginia the day after Christmas is something we probably will never do again! We were stuck in crawling traffic in the rain and wintry mix of precipitation most of the way and were so relieved to finally reach our destination! We enjoyed a lovely evening out at a new restaurant and at the home of Tim’s brother and sister-in-law we found a very lovely white pine Christmas tree, decorated in red and gold.

12.26.12 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia
12.26.12 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia

This is my friend, Zoë, (below) taking her morning sun bath as we were getting ready to depart the next morning. My sister-in-law has a very kind heart and has opened her home to a feral cat and three of her kittens. (They have all been spayed now.) The mother won’t come inside, but the younger ones have learned about the comforts to be found in human dwellings. But Zoë, perhaps taking cues from her mother, is not friendly and had some insulting names given to her, which I won’t mention here.

12.26.12 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia
12.26.12 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia ~ Zoë

For some reason, when we were visiting in November for Thanksgiving, Zoë decided she liked me and let me pet her and then started to purr! She seemed to like the name Zoë so I renamed her. My sister-in-law was astonished because even though she treated this one kindly she had never warmed up to her like the other two eventually did. When I returned on this trip a month later Zoë remembered me and let me pet her again. I felt very honored! I invited her to sit on my lap and she considered it, but decided she wasn’t ready for that much contact yet. Who knows what might happen when we meet again?

The longest leg of the trip was next, northern Virginia to southern Georgia!

a house full of little ones

12.31.11 ~ Athol, Massachusetts
Lizzie, 5, made this drawing, a Christmas gift for me ~ 12.31.11 ~ Athol, Massachusetts

Viktor and Aneta Urich of Grande Prairie [Alberta, Canada] welcomed the birth of their 100th grandchild earlier this month – newborn Henry Urich, ninth child of Tatjana and Heinrich Urich. Heinrich is one of Viktor and Aneta’s 16 children.

How does he keep them all straight?

“Good question,” laughs Viktor, 62. “Sometimes when I look, I say ‘What’s your name?'”

(The Canadian Press)

And we thought we were confused!

12.31.11 ~ Athol, Massachusetts
Clarice playing hide and seek with unidentified imp ~ 12.31.11 ~ Athol, Massachusetts

Yesterday we went to visit Tim’s cousin in Massachusetts, who was hosting a family Christmas gathering. Four generations, ranging in age from 2 to 75 years old. Twenty-seven people in all, including one aunt, four cousins, nine second cousins, two third cousins, and not to be overlooked, six spouses and significant others and five foster children. Or, using another method for sorting the gang out, fifteen adults, three teens and nine little ones. We had but two hours on our way home to sort out the numbers and connections… Not as impressive as the couple in Alberta but…

We did our share of asking, “What’s your name?”

12.31.11 ~ Athol, Massachusetts
Dima & Larisa, familiar faces ~ 12.31.11 ~ Athol, Massachusetts

We weren’t there two minutes when little Delyah, 2, inquired “Who are you?” and then put me to work brushing her pony’s hair and fastening barrettes on its tail.

In a little while Nova, 4, sporting sparkly temporary tattoos on her arms, introduced herself and asked me where my tattoos were. (Both her parents have visible tattoos.) I regretted having to disappoint her.

As the afternoon went on, a little one of uncertain age kept saying,”Thanks, Santa,” when Tim would toss one of the balloons her way. Do you think it had something to do with his whitish beard and all the red he was wearing?

12.31.11 ~ Athol, Massachusetts
Santa? ~ 12.31.11 ~ Athol, Massachusetts

It was wonderful seeing everybody again, and meeting new additions to the clan. A clan that adores its children!

Tim & I got ourselves a new camera for Christmas and it was our first chance to use it. So far we’re very pleased with the results and we have so much more to learn about using it!

Hannah, 9, made this pet rock, a Christmas gift for her dad ~ 12.31.11 ~ Athol, Massachusetts

Thanksgiving

11.22.11 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia
Baby ~ 11.22.11 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia

As the four of us piled into the car one night to pick up some pizza at Z Pizza, I realized that this was the last Thanksgiving all four of us will be in our 50s – next year Tim will be 60. Where did all the years go???

Again we took the train to Washington, DC and then the Metro to Springfield, where Tim’s brother Dan picked us up after his session in Cardiac Rehab. There was so much to talk about, and so many notes to compare… The household cats (Baby above, Tammy below) took little notice of our arrival.

Tammy ~ 11.22.11 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia
Tammy ~ 11.22.11 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia

The new plant-based diet was a hot topic, and the guys decided to make some pasta from scratch, with a pasta machine Dan dragged out from storage in the garage. They used a broomstick to hang the pasta – after cleaning the stick part thoroughly. It was fun listening to them solve logistical problems as they went along. And the pasta was such a hit that they made it again a couple of days later!

Tim and Dan ~ 11.23.11 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia
Tim and Dan ~ 11.23.11 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia

After a few days I was totally hooked on the cappuccinos Dan made with soy milk. One night on CNN we all watched with great interest, Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports: The Last Heart Attack. We did wind up having a turkey, and one night some salmon, but other than that we enjoyed vegan and vegetarian fare, Fran inventing a gluten-free vegan lasagne that was out of this world!

Below – Baby anticipating her share of the Thanksgiving feast…

Baby ~ 11.24.11 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia
Baby ~ 11.24.11 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia

A lovely centerpiece on the coffee table…

11.24.11 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia
11.24.11 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia
11.24.11 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia
table set for Thanksgiving ~ 11.24.11 ~ Woodbridge, Virginia

While Tim and Dan went golfing on Friday, Fran and I went shopping in historic Occoquan, Virginia, where there was not a Black Friday deal in sight, and a friendly gnome reminded dog owners to mind their manners.  🙂

11.25.11 ~ Occoquan, Virginia
11.25.11 ~ Occoquan, Virginia

At the Golden Goose I was thrilled to find a Norwegian Julenissen (Santa) figurine, five and a half inches high! I’m sure he will show up soon on this blog if I get a good picture of him while decorating for the holidays…

11.25.11 ~ Occoquan, Virginia
11.25.11 ~ Occoquan, Virginia

We had a great lunch at The Blue Arbor Café

11.25.11 ~ Occoquan, Virginia
11.25.11 ~ Occoquan, Virginia

Whimsical rest room signs…

11.25.11 ~ Occoquan, Virginia
11.25.11 ~ Occoquan, Virginia
11.25.11 ~ Occoquan, Virginia
11.25.11 ~ Occoquan, Virginia

And this is pretty much when the picture-taking ended – I was having too much fun to continue!

Saturday Fran and I took the two Freds out for lunch at the Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant. Fred and Fred have been friends for over thirty years. One is blind from birth and the other is intellectually disabled. They had no one to share Thanksgiving with so Fran wanted to do something special for them. She was afraid these meat lovers would balk at the idea of eating at a vegetarian restaurant, but they came along with open minds and really enjoyed their selections. I had the yummy Eggplant Medley.

Sunday we all went to see The Descendants, which was an excellent movie. Then the guys went to wash the car and make more pasta while Fran and I shopped at Ten Thousand Villages in Alexandria, a Fair Trade retailer. I bought two blue egg ornaments from Peru, looking into the cut-outs there are little snowman families inside. The cashier wrapped them very carefully for the train ride home on Monday.

Tim gave Dan a bottle of port which should not be opened until 2018. That’s seven years from now, a goal for them to look forward to as they adopt this new plant-eating lifestyle in order to reverse their heart disease and beat the odds. Here’s to family and life!

A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses.
~ Hippocrates
(Regimen in Health, Book IX)