The Very Last Day of 2013

Just left that rainy dark day in Seattle. Now high above the cloud cover.
My suitcase was packed and as always, I worried that it weighed far more than 44 pounds. I didn't even bring my six pound sleep machine to Seattle this time, but somehow I collect ever more things and the suitcase is always as heavy as they allow. Flight back to Houston was to leave just after noon, but it was delayed over two hours. I read a lot and walked 6,000 steps. Might have walked 10,000 if I hadn't had to sling two heavy carry on bags over my shoulders - stuffed with lap top and iPad, more books, sections of the Sunday NYT and a plastic container of cabbage salad. It is always thus.
But for the second time, I was lucky, blessed and fortunate to be designated as TSA Pre-Approved, which means I didn't have to remove shoes or boots, belt and scarves or pull my laptop out of my carry-on or request a pat down instead of moving through that X-ray machine. Instead, my boots stayed on and I walked through one of those older scanning machines. After years of what I deem arbitrary TSA procedures, being TSA pre-approved gives me that old time feeling of being welcomed as a guest of the airline. 'Enjoy your trip, Ms. Hansen'.  I am not sure what precipitated this change in my status, but I am loving it.
I said good by to Dad late Monday afternoon. He and I were both in tears. He carries on, a lonely stalwart. He loved our Boxing Day party and the kids and the Christmas plum pudding.  I wonder how long these special days and times will be enough to sustain him.
Dad with four of his nine great grandchildren, Boxing Day, Seattle.
Jeanne and Mary B both got that horrible croup cough right after Boxing Day. Mary left Seattle earlier than she'd planned, so she could climb into bed at home in Portland. Jeanne took to her bed too. Dan had a touch of the bug, but was functioning. Just thankful that only two of our extended family succumbed. I think what they got is similar to the croupy chest cold Earl and I had over Thanksgiving. We were in bed for a week. Aching bodies and continuous coughing. Awful.
Sunday and Monday, my last two days in Seattle, were given over to Caroline. Told her months ago, I'd give her two days during the holidays - without children - so we could make that lovely renovated basement space livable. Last spring she and Steve bought a second hand Ikea sectional couch and then their basement flooded with sewage in June. Insurance paid for new carpet and repairs - even for new slip covers for that second hand sofa. But the space itself has been up to the ceiling with boxes, toys, laundry and junk.
On Sunday, we cleared and sorted until late afternoon when I loaded the car for a trip to Good Will - after a trek to Dad's. On Monday, we cleared some more and then assembled that sectional and recovered it, vacuumed, did a bit of accessorizing and suddenly the place looked livable.
Bolting the sectional, making ready to attach new slipcovers.
Charlie Bean admires our work.
I told Caroline she needed to set family ground rules to keep it livable. 'No food downstairs, close the Dutch door at the top of the stairs to keep the cats from leaving cat hair on that dark brown couch, put your toys away when you're finished playing and keep your laundry in those plastic tubs.' I doubt any of these ground rules will be given as edicts to any member of the family, so we'll see how the space functions over time. It looked great when I left.
Arrived in Houston after 8:30 p.m. Dragged my bags out to passenger pick-up and there was 'Earl the Pearl', as Dad calls him. I drove home and discovered that he had a bottle of prosecco waiting in the refrigerator and one of his pasta sauces ready for a late New Year's supper.  Nice, nice man. Happy new year to all. It's good to be home. See the selflies of the folks celebrating in Seattle.