When Art and I got together in 1992, his six children ranged in age from 5 to 19. Most of them visited us on Tuesdays and Thursdays and every other weekend. Some of them lived with us for a time until they graduated from high school or went on to college or graduated from college. I know them all pretty well, and they know me. We joke that I am their Wicked Stepmother.
We have a timeshare in Sedona, Arizona that we've owned for about 20 years. Before Art and I retired, we spent two weeks in Sedona every other year. After that, we usually spent a week there in February. Sometimes it was just us, other times another couple, and a number of times two to five of our children. Seven of the eight children in our blended family have spent time with us in Sedona at least once.
This year we reserved two units for February 3 to February 7. Art's grown children Melissa, Jason, Pete and Greg flew from Seattle, along with Jason's son Kaleb (14) and Pete's girlfriend Danielle. Art's daughter Laura flew in from Philadelphia. My sons Russ and James had planned to come, but they both had to work. So there were nine of us.
Our custom for these times together is that people do their own activities during the day and then everyone gathers for dinner. On Friday night, after a long travel day, we went to a Mexican restaurant.
On Saturday, all seven of them took a long Sedona hike. For dinner, Greg (the chef) rummaged through our refrigerator and found pork chops, potatoes and broccoli. He served a delicious meal to six of us at the main table and the other three at the patio table dragged in from outside.
On Sunday, two of the women took another hike and the other five rented mountain bikes. In the evening Greg prepared a chicken pesto spaghetti, artisanal green salad and crusty bread.
On Monday they all took another long hike, and Melissa made her signature enchiladas for dinner.
The seven hikers and bikers talked on the trail, kidding around but also encouraging each other, and commenting how good it was that they could be together as grown siblings and enjoy each other's company.
Art and I took many hikes like that years ago when we were younger. This year we stayed in our unit and read or napped. I was glad to read five back issues of "The Sun", the only magazine I currently subscribe to.
I'd been feeling sad that the young people were doing things I used to do but no longer can (bad knee and elderly). One of the stories I read in "The Sun" talked about not looking back wishing I could still do those things, and trying to still do them, but, instead, being glad I had done them and looking forward to what I still have ahead of me. That is helpful.
Everyone but us left on the early morning of the 7th to catch flights out of Phoenix. We had an appointment in Kingman, Arizona, about a three-hour drive from Sedona. Here's that story:
Art is allergic to cats, but there is a breed that's often hypoallergenic. Siberian Forest cats began to be imported to the US from Russia in the 1980s. Some of those cats lack the protein in their saliva that causes allergic reactions. There are tests available that will identify that protein level, but the tests are expensive. Another reliable test is for the allergic person to bury their face in a cat's fur to see if there is an allergic reaction. Back in 2008 Art buried his face in a cat's fur at the Lundberg cattery in Stayton, Oregon. Larisa (Windrifter Larisa of Lundberg) was four years old at the time. He had no reaction, so we added our name to the Lundbergs' kitten list. Several months later I looked at their webpage and saw that Larisa was being retired from her breeding career. She was available for sale. We put in our appication, then drove from Seattle to Oregon and bought her. Larisa lived with us from that time until she "crossed the rainbow bridge" on December 1 of last year.
I did a nationwide search for a retiring Siberian queen. I found two in Boston, one in New Hampshire, several in Oregon, and one in Kingman, Arizona. Our timeline was for a spring pickup, after a period of mourning for our beautiful Larisa.
As luck - or fate - would have it, Pumaridge Siberians in Kingman had a queen available. They planned to breed Dutchy (Pumaridge Killjoy Dutch) one more time, with a male whose line they wanted to establish. She'd be available for us to pick up in early summer. That sounded good to us. Then, two weeks ago, I got a call that they'd decided not to breed Dutch again and were having her spayed. So she'd be ready to go to a new home in late February. Since we'd be in northern Arizona anyway, it seemed reasonable to drive to Kingman at the end of our Sedona trip to meet Dutch and see if Art was allergic to her. We could then return a couple of weeks later and make the drive with her from Kingman to Tucson, where we live in the winter.
All went well in Kingman! We met Dutchy and spent about an hour with her. I was grateful to observe that she looked and acted nothing like Larisa. Different color, different eyes, different face shape, friendlier. It seemed the only thing the two cats had in common was their breed - Siberian Forest - and their hypoallergetic status.
So, two weeks from today we'll be driving home from Kingman with our new girl. We're taking the cat condo, litter box and other feline accessories out of the shed and setting them up. We're buying the same food and cat litter and food Dutchy is familiar with. We're making an appointment with our Tucson vet to meet her and get her chipped. We're excited.
Good things happened during our time away!