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November 02, 2002: One reason I was looking forward to getting home

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Months ago, my younger sister made plans to come down and visit over Halloween. Back when I was working for The Company to be Nicknamed Never, it wasn't going to be a problem because at least I'd be home in the evenings. With the new job, and the fact that training started this week, this meant I missed most of her visit. However, at least we had this weekend to make up for it.

My sister brought my niece with her, since she's now a bit over two, and is old enough to realize that Halloween can be a lot of fun. So this morning, once we'd figured out the battle plan for the rest of the day, I headed over to my parent's house to get a chance to spend some time with my very favorite little girl (okay, and my sister too).

Every time I see her I am shocked by how much she has grown. I see my nephews often enough that their progress is gradual enough not to seem so abrupt, but not with her. Her hair has lightened to a rich honey brown, and she's tall for her age. She speaks in a quiet little voice and her mom and dad have been very good about teaching her manners, so she says please and thank you and excuse me, and every time she spoke I just wanted to scoop her up and give her huge hugs.

My mom and dad have a walnut tree in the backyard (actually, I gave them the tree years ago when they first moved in. The poor tree sat on my lap and stuck out the sunroof of D's car when we drove it out to them, but somehow survived that indignity and now is busily trying to take over their yard). So Saturday afternoon the four of us (my mom, sister, my niece and I) all went out to round up the walnut crop. The job for us adults was mainly to corral all the walnuts into places where a certain two-year old could reach them, and her job was to chatter quietly to herself about walnuts and scoop them into buckets.

Richard and I met for lunch (the all-you-can-eat sushi buffet, because I was going through sushi withdrawal), and then scurried home to hastily finish cleaning the house and get dinner ready in time for the rest of the horde to descend. I was actually rather happy to see that we could fit the entire crowd around our dining room table (Richard and I, my parents, both sisters, all three kids, and Bil-1) even though it was a tight squeeze. In deference to my youngest sister I prepared a vegetarian meal (a concoction that looks like meatloaf but isn't, recipe gleaned from Atara). And as usual, after dessert the kids all excitedly piled upstairs to take their nightly baths in our big green bathtub. Ah, to be still young enough that this is the highlight of your trip to your aunt's house.

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