+ Shipping & Handling…

My spring objective was to visit Iowa during May. Before Iowa’s insufferable heat and humidity arrived for a couple months. Before I started canning anything. Best laid plans. Nuts. Just couldn’t follow through. I blame Hubs. It’s the easy way out. His fault. It’s not like a brand new health issue hit him. He’s been hurting pretty bad for a couple years. So much he actually saw an orthopedic specialist 6 months ago. To John’s surprise (and mine) his x-rays showed nice cartilage around his hip.

Bridge overlooking Davenport and the ball diamond i used to frequent with Mary Ellen…

Huh? Then what’s causing all his pain? We now believe it started decades ago, about a year after we moved to North Muskegon. Joshua was finishing his freshman year of college, Adam was a sophomore in high school. First time living on a lake. Ah, the good life. Oh, please. John immediately bought a decent sized fishing boat, quickly followed by a bigger boat (few feet longer, so more area to cover when throwing our money away), plus a little fishing boat for the boys to use as long as they didn’t take it out on Lake Michigan, which was a couple miles away via boat. In case our new dock didn’t have enough shit now attached to both sides, Hubs bought 2 used Sea Do’s. (Just kill me now I thought as I watched them from the safety of my deck). The boys did some crazy stunts with those Sea Do’s. Trying to see how high they could make it ‘jump’ in the air when they hit a wave. Which John just had to try. Hubs, in his mid-40’s was pretty good at keeping up with the boys. But as he descended from his heaven bound water leap, he landed very wrong and his right hip has periodically given him pain ever since.

Not crowded yet, but the dock was soon packed with boy toys, ugh…

That was probably 1995. Doc thinks it’s arthritis and said if it got any worse, John could try a cortisone injection which should relieve much of the pain for months. And the pain has gotten steadily worse. Kitchen chairs, the car, bleachers bother him a lot, so he ends up standing much of the time. The more Iowa plans we (I) made, the louder the complaints. With about 10 days before we were scheduled to leave, I’d had about enough. He was not looking forward to sitting in the car for the better part of 2 days and it showed. “You know it’s not too late to postpone our trip,” I suggested. “Why not call the doctor and make an appointment to get the cortisone shot. See if that helps?” He agreed. So I let the relatives know and he cancelled our hotels, (not an easy task these days. I don’t remember them giving you such a hard time to cancel a reservation, but yikes they got kind of nasty about it) and made an appointment at the hospital to get the injection.

Hubs in the boat, brother Les doling out advice, 1996…

But I had already made plans to spend a couple days in Davenport. So while Hubs was resting his recently injected hip at home, I zipped across Michigan, a tiny bit of Indiana, all of Illinois to The mighty Mississippi for the weekend. In search of my favorite card game with some of my best friends.

Initially, I taught the group how to play well over 30 years ago. These gals have now made it their life mission that I not forget how to play double deck Euchre. There were 4 of us who were ADDICTED to that game for years. Two of us still play. My bestie, Mary Ellen passed away 5 years ago. I still get a lump when I think of her, we had such a great friendship. Our other constant card player has some serious health issues and hasn’t played for the last 2 or 3 years. That gives me a lump too. Mary Ellen’s cousin Betty was always one of our first phone calls when someone was gonna miss one of our marathon card parties, so she’s now slid into a starting position. Plus a new recruit/rookie (one of Betty’s Bridge playing friends, Connie has answered the call as our 4th since Pat can no longer play).

Our playing nights of 7 pm to 2 or 3 am have long passed us by. Now we start after lunch, play for awhile, stop and eat, play some more, graze again. We talk more, have more potty breaks, and constantly forget who’s turn it is to deal. And for the last couple years we’ve had a running argument. Betty doesn’t remember a couple of rules we instituted from the very beginning. But Jeanne and I both remember.

Double Deck Euchre

  1. It’s always been a quarter a game, dime a bump, another dime if the loser is still in the hole when the game is over. 
  2. If you go set on a hand, the team that set you gets credit for the tricks they pulled to set you. Example: I bid 6 Diamonds, but only take 5 tricks. My opposition gets credit for 3 tricks, plus I go down 6 points. 
  3. If you’re ballsy enough to bid a 7-14 or 8-16 and make the bid, you’re  both paid a quarter on the spot by the other team. 

We’ve used these rules since 1985. I don’t care what Hoyle, the Internet or Wikipedia says, this is the way we’ve always played. Deal with it. Just deal-period, it’s your turn. I think. We always have a great time catching up with each other’s lives. Every time I hug them goodbye, I wonder if this will be the last time we’ll get together. You just never know what will happen in another year’s time. None of us is getting any younger, and I’ve always been the baby of the group. When Hubs is along, we stay in a hotel, ride past familiar landmarks, eat at our favorite spots if they still exist. Not the case since I’m alone, Jeanne invited me to stay with her. She had a bouquet of one of my favorite flowers, Lily’s of the Valley in my room when I arrived. They smelled so good. She’s a very thoughtful hostess.

Lily’s of the Valley to greet me in the guest room at Jeanne’s….

She hauled my sorry butt all over the Quad Cities, weaving our way back and forth across several bridges between Iowa and Illinois. Northpark Mall, a sports/fitness store called Athletic Endeavor because I was shopping for a new pair of Keens. And I could not be in the Quad Cities without a stop at Isabel Bloom. I spotted a new angel I really, really wanted, but could not fathom where she could call home in my house. There’s just not a spot for her. Most of my Isabel’s are larger statues and our house is no longer large. So I held onto my seldom used common sense for 5 minutes and bought a small butterfly. That was all.

New Isabel Bloom Butterfly…

Time spent went lickety-split, soon it was Sunday morning and I was ready to head back to Michigan. After I got home I thought of something Jeanne and I had talked about. How good a cup of tea tastes in the afternoon when it’s cold. I haven’t used a tea pot for years though. After my friend Rosemary passed away, she left me, I guess you would call it a hot water pot. An electric kettle. I had never heard of such a thing, yet I’ve used it constantly since I got it. It has a small coil in the bottom which heats up water fast and hot. During the winter when I get home from work John has already started the kettle for a cup of tea or my weird blend of Cinnamon-hot-chocolate-with-a-dash-of-instant-coffee.

My new Keens…

But that kettle gets used more often while I’m canning. It’s like having an extra burner on the stove. A constant source of boiling water to help keep my jars piping hot. Maybe Jeanne would like an electric kettle. A small way to thank her for the hospitality and driving me around for my mini-shopping spree. My goal was Bed, Bath & Beyond, but I only made it to Meijer, which had 4 different models to choose from. (Here I thought I knew every single product and where they’re located in that store, yet had never spotted electric kettles. Well color me embarrassed). I picked one, brought it home to wrap and take back to Meijer to mail. (I literally don’t know where the post office is in Jackson. And I hope I never have to learn. I buy stamps and mail all packages at the Meijer courtesy counter. Until a couple of days ago with the electric kettle under my arm).

The water kettle, coffee mug (which I just broke) and sugar bowl from Rosemary…

“Anything liquid, hazardous, glass, delicate,” he queried? “Nope, it’s just a kettle,” I said as he hauled it to the scale for weight and measurements. “Well, it’s just a tad too big for general delivery, so it has to go priority,” he continued, “that will be $10.18.” Using my awful hearing loss like a badge of honor now I said, “What? Are you freaking kidding me? That’s about half of what I paid for the thing. It weighs nothing. I need another price option.” “Sorry ma’am.” “Well, I’m not paying over ten dollars to mail this. I’ve changed my mind. This box has books, so I want it to go media mail.” “Umm, ma’am I can’t do that, you already said it was a kettle.” “Ok, fine,” I said as I grabbed the box and stomped out of my favorite store. Livid.

Set the box back in my Jeep and drove home. Plotting my next move. Next day I had to pick up Peyton at school on the other side of Jackson. After work I dinked around town for an hour, then headed to the other Meijer store closer to Peyton’s school. Walked up to the courtesy counter, kettle box under my arm. Plopped it on the counter, cautiously checking my surroundings like nervous Nelly. (I had thoughts of the courtesy counter dude from east side Meijer calling west side Meijer yesterday with my description. “Be on the lookout for an old lady trying to disguise a box with a water kettle as media mail. Call the FBI, CIA or the postal police immediately. She’s the very reason we lost 3 billion last quarter. Got to set an example, here and now. Get a warrant for her arrest.” “It’s books,” I fudged with a shaky voice. “My friend and I exchange paperbacks,“ I stammered. (Geez, that was lame. Forgot the cardinal rule when lying. KISS, which stands for Keep It Simple Stupid). “That will be $3.68,” she said with a smile. Handed her a 5 spot. Gulp. Done…

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