Behold the begotten
25-Aug-06. The Minnesota relatives decided to hold a family reunion for all those begotten by my parents and their progeny.
My parents were married in a double ceremony with my mother's sister. For reasons that I've forgotten, if I ever knew them, my aunt and uncle were affectionately called 'Tookie' and 'Diddley'. They soon begat six children, although the gaps before Edna (#5) and me (#6) suggest that we may have been accidents, or at least afterthoughts. Back in those days, large families were not unsual, especially on farms.
When my oldest sister was married, someone asked my father how many grandchildren he wanted. He answered, "36." Since he had had six children, he thought it perfectly reasonable that each of his six should have six children of their own: 6 X 6 = 36.
Donald died many years ago, and Edna died last year.
Wouldn't you just know, my brothers and sisters were such over-achievers in the begetting business that the quota of grandchildren was soon filled, all without any contribution from me. And a good thing, too, 'cause it just wasn't going to happen!
I stayed with my sister Ethel on their farm. At 80, she puts many half her age to shame. She's up at the crack o' dawn to ride her bicycle several miles before breakfast and take warm milk to the cats who live in farm buildings on both sides of the road. She bustles around, cooking for whoever happens to be present at meal times (and there are always a bunch, it seems) and taking care of grandchildren who appear most days. Plus taking care of her garden. Plus all the other endless housewifely and farm chores. To be honest, she made me tired just watching her.
The reunion went off smoothly, although there were some branches and many twigs of the family tree missing. Still, there was a passel of people, comprising at least three generations of descendants of Helen and Robert Williamson.
Minnesota is certainly different from California. The Minnesota store at the airport sells paper bags of moose-droppings and T-shirts proclaiming the mosquito the Minnesota state bird. Bookstores devote whole sections to books by Garrison Keilor. I went to the supermarket before the reunion on Sunday to pick up my contributions to the pot luck and was told I was not allowed to buy beer before noon on Sunday. How quaint is that?
For the return flight, I allowed plenty of time. The airport (MSP) is huge and spread all over the place. The TSA was on top of things and shunted people to different security portals, making it go pretty quickly. There were only a few people at the America West counter when I checked in. The first surprise was finding out that the flight would be delayed an hour due to a 'mandatory crew rest' period, and the second surprise was hearing the rep behind the counter say, "You may miss your connection in Phoenix, so I've also confirmed a seat for you on a later flight, just in case." Having nothing better to do, I picked up a new book to read and stopped at TGIFriday's for a nice breakfast. While I was eating, I got a call on my cell phone from America West to again tell me about the delay and to assure me that I was confirmed on two flights out of Phoenix to Palm Springs, just in case I couldn't make the connection to the the first one. All of this was a complete reversal of the horrid treatment we suffered at JFK at the hands of America West.
Whitney the Witch was, however, on board my flight, sitting in seat 4F, the bulkhead row, right in front of me. She's one of those people with an exaggerated sense of her own importance as well as an excess of avoirdupois. She talked constantly to her traveling companion in a voice loud enough that all around could hear her side of the conversation. When the flight attendant came to tell her she would have to put her bag in the overhead compartment, she became indignant because it had her laptop in it. She was afraid it might be damaged by the vibration in the overhead compartment. "Can you personally guarantee that it will be all right up there?" she wanted to know. The attendant declined to accept that responsibility, since it was a carry-on. "What is your name?" Whitney demanded. "And what is your employee number?"
The attendant calmly said, "I don't have to give you my employee number. Now you have just two choices: either put the bag up above or I will reseat you in a middle seat." After some hemming and hawing about whether that meant just her or her and her companion ("Just you, or both of you, you decide"), and whether they would still be seated together ("No, it's a full flight and there are only single middle seats available"), and if they were both in middle seats, would they be close to each other ("No") the companion quietly took the bag from Whitney's hands and handed it over to the attendant to place up above. That ended the kerfuffle. Thank goodness! They were holding up the departure.
Arriving in Phoenix, I could see when Whitney got up that she lacked not only common sense but also fashion sense. She was dressed in a snug polyester blouse with a big swirly print and polyester stretch slacks that accented her pronounced pear-shape. Did I mention that I took an intense disliking to Whitney?
Pictures are divided into two slideshows, one dealing with the trip itself, the other with the reunion. See the sidebar.