What have I been doing all month? Did you HAVE to ask??? My trip was fabulous, by the way. Thursday Jonís brother Marc gave me a ride to the airport in his new hot rod. Todd and Craig picked me up at the South Bend airport and drove me straight to the Texas Roadhouse Restaurant (Mmmm, dead meat, always my favorite) for my uncle Wesí birthday party. About 25 of us were all there so it was a good way to see everyone on my first night! Todd and I TRIED to drive around and cause trouble, but it was Indiana and SUPER hot outside and honestly we couldnít find a single stupid thing to do.
Me & Grandma Duck
Midnight Chocolate Cake
Dadís house is a paradise for animals. He still has his two dogs from Vegas, plus two cats that showed up soon after they moved in. They also have a tiny blind kitty named Cecilia who is awesome. The first building of the animal shelter is completed Ė the landscaping around it will take years to complete Ė itís going to be surrounded by rosebushes and other beautiful things he planted with patience. The dogs all laugh and play and have dog doors so they can run in and out of the building all the time. The floors, including a covered patch just outside the dog doors, are heated.

The shelter behind Todd

Just one of the dog runs!
The dog runs arenít dog runs, really, theyíre fields. They are the size of my houseís entire property. I canít begin to tell you how hot it was walking around outside. Luckily the building is air conditioned. Dad has planted about 500 trees and tends to them constantly, as they are just babies. Many will be transplanted later. He also has a huge garden that the plant employees are free to come over and use as their own, in exchange for Dad & Kay being able to pick and keep whatever they want. He is still in the process of landscaping around the house. It looks finished, but heís not done yet!
Me & Susan
Lois & Samuel
Me & Ethan

Ben & Ethan play
I wanted to stop by Susanís parents house to see how Susan was doing since I hadnít heard from her since last summer, and I wanted to get a recent e-mail, since she never replied to the last e-mail I sent to her in May. So Todd and I drive up to her house (across the street from Dadís up a long hill) and would you believe it? Susan was there visiting from Baltimore. With Ben and Ethan and Ö. her 6 week old BABY! His name is Samuel and he was born the day I sent her that e-mail last May. So she was a bit too busy to reply.
I also stopped by Burt & Aleneís new river house to see the updates since they first bought it last summer. Itís becoming! We arrived to the lakehouse and I immediately looked for Aunt Nancy (who was sleeping upstairs). She lives in San Jose and we donít see each other enough. Much of the rest of the family was there as well - we made two different trips to the grocery store - once just to get $50 in ice cream bars (that's what we get when we say "Grandma we're craving ice cream bars").
It really was amazingly hot that day. Diamond Lake is light green - the water is warm and the lake is shallow. We got a boat upgrade which is cool - this one can pull skiers. Steve pulled us around for a while and whenever my cousins saw some hotties my Uncle Steve would honk the horn and wave at them. It didn't help.
The photo (below and left) is of the new trampoline, which has an extension attached to it. You set a small child at the end of it, and the big kids bounce as hard as the can onto the long part and the kid goes flying into the air. It was hilarious!
Would you believe there were no fireworks on the fourth? They waited until that Saturday. Todd & I stayed up late making cake and hanging out with the cousins, and on the way back to Dad's we saw some fireworks here and there in the sky, but it just wasn't the same. And the Rouches didn't set a single thing on fire.


The catapult

See Todd taking the picture of me? (bottom right)
Mom's Birdhouse
Mom's pond

Can you find the frog?
The next day I went to Mom's and got to see all of her changes to her house and pond. Last year they were just starting the pond, and now it has koi fish and green frogs - including a bullfrog! And since thriving this summer, there's even the addition of baby koi fish (!!!!) and a bunch a teeny baby toads. She's going to have a mess of pets by the end of this summer.
While there, I made dinner (can you believe it?) that Jon usually makes for me - salmon with blue cheese and broccoli casserole, which Mom & I ate on the deck.
It's kind of difficult to describe the changes Mom and Jeff made to their house without you seeing how it looked before. They got all new windows and a roof, a new fireplace, and what used to be the wall of the top

New open space
floor is now a loft. This is just a small section of it (left), The railing was there with a hallway, and you couldn't see anything else upstairs, and now the top master bedroom is opened up to the whole house. That dark wall is a cool wine color that didn't scan well..... sorry.
The next day Mom and I went to visit Grandpa Bob (who is doing much better!) and Connie, and later went to visit Uncle Steve, who also rebuilt his house all of last year. They had just moved back in a few days before we went to visit.
Steve just started his own new law firm in Syracuse with some other partners - it's Snyder, Birch, and Morgan - and I hope to make a great website for them!
Steve took us out on his awesome boat with the girls (it was Lisa's birthday that day, so she had some friends over), and we ran out of gas!

with Tom Roebuck
He said that was the first time that's happened to him in 32 years.
After hanging out at Steve's for a while, Dad and Kay met me there and took me to Tom & Sue Roebuck's, who live on the same lake as Uncle Steve. I couldn't remember the last time I saw them, we eventually concluded that it was sometime in my preteens. They are extremely fun people with a very entertaining house, with quite
the collection of sports memorabilia, arcade video games, slot machines, jukeboxes, and even Dale Earnhardt's very own racecar - which is on display out on their floating pier (I can't imagine how they got it out there!) Tom said people stop by and take pictures of it. He bought it from a guy in Missouri, that Kay knew. Small world.
We stayed there as long as we possibly could, but we also had the class reunion to get to, so it seemed like a very short visit. Next year I vow to spend at least half a day at their house.
Dad's High School reunion was great - I remember quite a few people from his class, since he remained friends with a lot of them after school.
This is Bart and his Mom. She was at the reunion because she was the second grade teacher in North Webster for a large amount of Dad's classmates. They were all so happy to see her!
I got to see Dan Kuhn, Denny & Peg, Bart & Cinda, Tim & Candy, and a guy who I met there, about my age, whose entire family tree attended North Webster. Stranger yet, we discovered we were related (via Val, my Uncle Wes' wife). Things like this happen at class reunions in North Webster, Indiana!
Bart bought me a couple drinks and I don't remember as much as I should from that evening. I doubt the others do, either.
I know that I was sad to be leaving the next day.

Everyone go to www.barts.com.
(and see his "About" page!)

A family came over to Dad's to adopt a dog the next morning. They brought their smaller dog with them to test how he behaved with a small dog, and he passed. So then they had the baby pull on him, pick his nose, etc., and he passed again. The final test was to compare him with cats, so they went inside the house and walked him over to the cats. The cats said %*!!%# and the dog said "Hi." And they said - We'll take him! I was happy to be there when a dog got adopted. He was smiling the whole time - and when they put the collar on him, it's as though he remembered what it meant.
Todd drove me to the airport and I was sad to go - the whole four days went by in a mad rush - no doubt, with all the people I wanted to see. And I never even saw any fireworks (they were the night of Dad's reunion).
I had no idea what I was in for when I got to the airport, but that's a whole can of worms to open up at a later time. I ended up getting home Monday night instead of Sunday night, and Truly had to open for me Monday morning at 4:15 (I still owe her one!). I'm writing a letter to the airlines, so maybe when it's done I'll copy it here for you.
Anne and Brad's wedding was the following Saturday. She's a Starbucks customer! Her father was the officiating minister of the ceremony which was really cool (that's him looking on in the picture on the right). Their reception was at the Overlake hospital and I got to visit with some of the women I met at her bridal shower.
It took me a whole week to unpack my one suitcase since returning from the trip. I had since upped my hours at Johnston Architects (see my newly designed website!) and I'm still working the wee hours of the morning at Starbucks and I've been tired. On top of that, Shane has partially moved in with us and I'm trying to catch up with him as much as I can.
Shane's been working on a house on Bainbridge Island so he's usually away (he camps on their property instead of taking the ferry every day). But when he's here, I'm listening to recordings of his new band (Robosexuals) and he makes me laugh. It's nice having him around.
He's been doing some work on our house as well, and I am proud to tell you that our kitchen floor is fixed after (over) three years! I won't be falling into the crawlspace any time soon!....Er, at least not in the kitchen. And he's painting something to go above our fireplace, and he's making these incredible tables with his artwork covered in epoxy. His energy is incredible.
The weekend of Anne's wedding was also the weekend of the Capitol Hill Block Party, which is like a street fair with music.

Hint Hint
The night of the wedding, wearing the outfit you see above, I met with Jon and Amy for Automaton and Verona performing at the JuJu Lounge. I had about four men compliment my skirt. Automaton and Verona both rocked and I'm pleased to say that Automaton is still speaking to me, even though their website is at a halt.
When I dropped off Jon & Amy, some guy in a skirt asked me if he looked fat. I said "No, but you probably shouldn't wear running shorts with that" (you could see them hanging out from the bottom hem). His friend laughed at him. I felt bad.
The next day was the final Six Thumbs softball game (may it all R.I.P.) and Jon & I went to see Jason perform with his band at the Capitol Hill Block Party again. Their lead singer reminds me of Frank Black of the Pixies.

Us watching Hint Hint
The next Friday night was Jason's birthday at Linda's Tavern. I have lots of pictures from that night, and all are embarrassing. Crecia did a great job setting everything up, cake and all. That's her on the right - she's playing with my hair tomorrow because I'm annoyed with it.

She'd been drinking
Top left is Sam showing off his scabs, which is why he sat out of the last softball game. He's got a new project at work that's in Palm Springs and I'm trying to talk him into taking me so I can visit my old haunts.
I got a new weed whacker! YES! The ditch (left) was about four feet high, and it took multiple steps to hack away, but it's almost forgivable now! Supposedly the new salmon/landscaping plan with the city (taking place at said ditch) is supposed to start in August. The pool, above, still sits - full of dirt. Our landlords tell us that the new project will be replacing the new roof. Huh.
Tomorrow is Jon's birthday and he's getting a party at Beppo's. He's getting other stuff too but I can't write what it is yet.....
I can't tell you how tired I am from scanning pictures and writing all this out. Telling my Chicago/Airlines story will take just as long.
{Thanks, Kay, for the camera.}