Man.  I thought I was going to be able to keep up with things while I was on this road trip, but that was just not the case.  I was pretty fried, though.

Tony is Lee’s son from twenty-five years ago, and the mom told him she didn’t want him to have anything to do with the baby’s life, so he didn’t, which pissed her off.  From what I’ve heard, though, it’s a good thing that Lee’s back now.  They’re so similar that they’re more like brothers than anything else, I guess.  I feel more or less the same about Tony as I did when I met Mike and Dale, anyway.  Tony is, I don’t know, more reserved than they are, though, so I don’t feel like I know him as well as I do those two, even after first meeting them.  Maybe it’s the awkwardness of being a mother-in-law, or just a mother, or that he didn’t know Lee for years and years.  Mike and Dale were all blah blah blah, did you know about this horribly embarrassing thing that Lee did when he was eight kind of thing.

Brittney, I think, has found her niche in being a preschool teacher.  I like her but I have to laugh, because it’s so foreign.  She does craft projects.  She terrorizes little kids into being good, when they’re coming from some pretty harsh backgrounds.  She has me crying TMI…not often, but yeah.  I forget what it was but it was something about farting, maybe.  She can’t spell to save her life yet reads all kinds of books and likes sad endings because they’re more realistic.  I guess you’d have to meet her to understand, because it’s hard to explain.  A sensible battle maiden type?  Hugs for the kids, an axe to the jerks, and burn the house down because you don’t feel like cleaning it.

They do well together, but they pick on each other constantly, if seemingly affectionately.  They had their first anniversary while they were out here, both of their wedding and losing their unborn baby together.  They both seemed to take it pretty well, but I got a little wound up about it and had to calm down.

The little things that Tony does that are just like Lee are uncanny.  Hating water, the kinds of foods they like, music.  It’s like they’re twins sometimes.  Tony seems, if anything, even more Russian-Cossack looking than Lee does.  I can just see this huge bear of a guy with shiny leather boots doing the dance with his buddies.  At twenty-five, he has more of a beard than most men will at fifty.  The genes speak true, I guess.

We went back through Omaha, which was tricky.  The bridges to I-29 are out, which hadn’t really clicked until we’d been cut off twice from getting back to the Interstate, so we drove back through Missouri Valley.  Sandbags all along the roads.  The water wasn’t that high, but it was close, and we saw house after house flooded out on the way back.   It was strange that there weren’t more mosquitoes.  And seeing everything so green in August, knowing that it wasn’t a good thing, necessarily.  Standing water in a lot of fields, even after we left the vicinity of the river.

Sioux Falls is changing, becoming bigger and more prosperous, but I still couldn’t get away from the feeling that it’s a place built on a black, black foundation.  Lee and I joked about it–the Scandinavian depression is everywhere.  He feels a lot more comfortable with it than I do.

I think it’s harder to see once you’re around it for a while.  Just before we’d come into town, apparently a room had started on fire at the meat-packing plant, Morrell’s.  They’d evacuated the room but made everyone else keep working.  We went to Falls Park (lovely) and drove back by the animal chutes, where the pigs were screaming.   Turning Sioux Falls into a place where you go, “I want to be there” instead of “I have family there” or “It’s where I ended up” will take more doing than just the Washington Pavilion and cleaning up Falls Park.  Not a horrible place.  But a very dark one.

Lee got a cold on the way back, and his attention span was bad enough that I was about ready to pitch a fit to try to get him to let me drive.  He hates having me drive the Jeep, partly because I do all the driving when he’s not with me, back and forth to Grandma camp and whatnot, but also because I bitch and moan about what a pain in the ass driving the Jeep is.  I can’t blame him.  Most of the time I just leave it alone, but having the Jeep sway back and forth in the lane was too creepy.  I said something about it, and he got off at the next rest stop to let me drive.  I like driving.  The Jeep was a pain in the ass.  I zoned out and made little vroom vroom noises in the back of my head, and bitched about Denver traffic and jerks who floor it to cut me off whenever I turn the blinker on:  it’s you @#$%^ that make people not use their blinkers.

And then we were home.  I had a ton more things that I could talk about, but I have to keep moving to try to get caught up again, which is ironic–one oof the things I came away with on this trip was that I’ve been working too hard, and I need to spend more time with people and less time with working my ass off.  Still, I’m the kind of person who has to unpack everything the minute I get home, no help needed.  I need to straighten my brain out, and getting caught up is part of that.  The house didn’t burn down, the animals were okay, school starts Monday, and I need to buy groceries because being away for almost a week has done nothing good to the milk.