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Lone Star State

August 29, 2014

Like last year, Mr. Karen’s family reunion was held in Houston. Unlike last year, I managed to actually book our flights in to and out of Houston rather than Dallas. This meant we had enough time to meet up with my friend Mel, and fortunately her work schedule cooperated so we were able to make that happen. Mr. Karen and I shared a very tasty late lunch with her at a Tex Mex restaurant, then she and I went off to do a little shopping while Mr. K headed to NASA to see what he could see. After our excursion, Mel dropped me back at the restaurant so she could head to work and not two minutes later, Mr. Karen arrived to pick me up. I didn’t even get a chance to order a margarita at the bar like I’d been planning to. Probably just as well since we still had some driving ahead of us, and it usually works better when I drive and Mr. Karen navigates. We didn’t want to deal with the peak of Houston rush hour, so we explored the area near the restaurant until things cleared a bit. Rather than arrive at the reunion hungry and cranky, we made a stop at Whatburger on the way—my first experience with that particular chain. It was tasty, and the spicy ketchup was a nice surprise. We finally got to the reunion house after dark, and had just a little while to talk with our hosts before we went to bed.

Over the years, I’ve gotten used to the reunions being heavy on sitting and eating and chatting, but this year it was a very small group, with none of the oldest family members able to make it, so instead of spending most of Saturday hanging around the house fueling up from a buffet every few hours, we headed out after breakfast, having been instructed to bring a change of clothes since we wouldn’t be back until late. Okay then. Our first stop was a soccer tournament the younger son of our hosts was playing in, but we didn’t stay very long as we were off to Lake Houston to go jet skiing. I’ve never jet skiied, nor did I have any great desire to jet ski, but there did not seem to be an air conditioned option on offer and who knew when I’d get a chance to try jet skiing again, so I climbed on behind Mr. Karen and the older son of our hosts led the way off into the lake. After a quick tune up cruise, I got to drive; we ended up at a park at the other end of the lake, where we got out and had a snack at a picnic table. A picnic table with fire ants under it, as it turned out. Apparently I was the tastiest one in our group, as I got the most bites, fortunately just on my foot (and my neck, where I must have deposited an ant after I brushed it off my foot). Mr. Karen took the controls after lunch and we zipped along until it was time to check in with our host, at which point I got dropped off at the marina and Mr. Karen zoomed around for a little bit longer to see what the machine felt like without the extra weight of a passenger. It was fun, but I don’t think I need to do it again anytime soon.

Jet ski in the sky

After changing out of our wet clothes into clothes that almost immediately became wet due me sweating like a sweaty thing in the mid-90s temperature and high humidty, we drove to the younger son’s second soccer game of the day. We had misters and an umbrella and shade from a tree near the field, but I felt very melty nonetheless. It was nice to see our cousin play, though.

Yeah, I got a little warm

After the soccer game, when I thought we might have dinner, we instead went to something called Painting with a Twist, where we were booked for a two-hour session in which we’d make our own versions of the evening’s selected painting. Fortunately they allow you to bring in your own snacks and beverages, and our hosts stopped to get same on the way, or I would have been one hungry and cranky Karen. Once I got some protein in me, I felt much happier, and ended up having a good time with the painting. It was fun to do and fun to see what other people were doing. We all got the same instructions, and colors, but the end products varied quite a bit. By the time we got back to the house after painting, it was late, yet we stayed up for a while longer. At some point we had a little something to eat, grazing off of dishes the hosts had pulled out of the fridge— then it felt like the reunion I’d expected in the first place.

We all got the same instructions

Sunday we had just enough time for breakfast before heading off to the younger son’s third soccer game of the weekend. We couldn’t stay to see that, though, as we needed to get to the airport for our flight home—a much easier drive than last year when we had to get up early to make it back to Dallas.

I’m told we’re hosting the reunion in 2015, which means I should probably start on clearing out a space for the ping pong table now, since so much of my crap has piled up in that part of the basement.

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