Sunday, November 30, 2003

Thanksgiving Up North
On Wednesday, after my class, we hit the road to head up to the Upper Peninsula to spend Thanksgiving with Mark's step-mother and younger sisters at his father's house in Rapid River, a tiny little town near Escanaba. From E. Lansing, it takes about 6 hours to drive up there. Wednesday afternoon, it was a beautiful drive. I am now even more of an official Michigan dweller, as I have been across the Mackinac Bridge. When we came to it, it was dark, and the whole thing was outlined with multicolored lights along the top of the suspensions.

We got to Mark's dad's house around 9. It's on the shore of Little Bay De Noc, and it's beautiful. His dad and Debbie, his step-mother, had it built several years ago. I was there last year, when I came back for Mark's dad's funeral, but then it was full of people and very hectic. This time, there was just me, Mark, Debbie, Mark's little half-sister Emily, and Mark's full sister Tessa, who flew in from New York, where she's in art school. Mark was in the downstairs guest room, which has a pinecone theme. Tessa and I were upstairs, in a room with twin beds, all in pale natural colors. I thought it was great because my bed had an electric blanket on it. Yay, warmth!

The weekend was very peaceful. On Thanksgiving Day, Debbie's family came over, which was easy, since her parents live just down the road, and a couple of her friends. Her friends got there earlier in the afternoon, in time to watch the Lions vs. Packers game. Since a lot of people in the UP are actually from Wisconsin, and the rest are from Michigan, it's a fairly important game for many people. It's always funnier to watch football games with people who actually care about one of the teams, because they get so excited. Debbie's friend really wanted Green Bay to win, and for once, Detroit actually beat them. Boo hoo. Then Debbie's parents came, with the "show turkey." They had decided to do two small turkies, instead of a great big one, and the magazine the recipe came out of claimed you were supposed to make two so you had one sliced ahead of time and one for show, which Tessa found hilarious.

For dessert, we had pumpkin pie and homemade cinnamon ice cream. Last Christmas, Debbie and Emily got an ice cream maker and have apparently become very talented in the making of different flavors. Mark was not appreciative of the festive cinnamon flavor, since he hates cinnamon in just about anything, nor does he like pumpkin pie. I, on the other hand, enjoyed it quite a bit. As Mark says on frequent ocassion, "More for me!"

Friday was a very quiet morning, waiting for everyone to wake up. Amazingly, Mark was actually up before Tessa, so at least there is one person in the world who sleeps later than him. Emily took great glee in asking Debbie's permission to go wake up Tessa, who sounded so pleased to be woken. After lunch, we went into Escanaba, about half an hour away, to run errands. Debbie needed Mark to go with her to Staples to figure out what upgrade she wanted for her computer; Tessa and Emily wanted to go to the art gallery, so we all went. First, though, we stopped at the bank and visited with a friend of Mark's dad, who had recently been on a trip to Vietnam with his son, who is a writer, and whose magazine wanted to get his father's impressions of modern Vietnam after his two tours of duty there during the war. His pictures were very nice, and his story was interesting as well. Then we went to Staples, then the art gallery, where Mark fell asleep in a chair, then a surprise visit to a Christmas store! The girls were all happy to be there, but Mark was again not so thrilled. He really hates scented candles, the poor guy.

Finally, though, we did head back to the house, and spent the rest of the evening watching rather dumb TV in front of the big fireplace in the living room. Mark also helped me get started on making an online teaching portfolio, which isn't actually required for my practicum anymore, but I still ought to do it, and this seemed like a good time to start. In all, a very low-key and pleasant evening. I wish our fireplace in E. Lansing was bigger.

Saturday morning, Tessa had to get up early to get off to the airport to fly back to New York. Debbie and Emily took her, and I let Mark sleep until 11:30 before I made him get up, nice person that I am. When Mark did get up, he worked on finishing up installing all the upgrade stuff on Debbie's computer. When they got back from the airport, Mark got to demonstrate his somewhat rusty carving skills on the show turkey, so we could have some turkey sandwiches for lunch. At about 3, though, we had to head back to Lansing, to avoid running into all the Sunday returning traffic.

The drive was very nice until we stopped for dinner in Gaylord. When we were done with dinner, we came out of the restaurant still expecting the dry but overcast sky we'd had the whole time up until then, but instead found a driving snow storm. It was very pretty to see, but Mark was not so thrilled to drive in it. It ended up slowing down traffic on the interstate to about 30 mph for nearly an hour. By the time we got to Lansing, though, it was like there had never been snow, which, I suppose, in Lansing, there hadn't been.

We had a surprise waiting for us at home. There was a message from Mark's older half-sister, Kate, telling him to check his email and then call her. When he checked, there was a huge file, showing a strange black-and-white image with the name of a hospital at the top. Mark started to scroll the image so he could figure out what it was, but I said, "Oh, Kate's pregnant." Sure enough, it was her ultra-sound. Mark is about to be an uncle for the third time, since his older half-brother John IV has two sons as well. Such a strange thought.

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