Amanda and I stuck around Richlands one more day because Phil’s sister, Ona Pickens, was coming to visit with Peter, her husband, and William, her younger son.  Stanton, the older son, was going to be in Las Vegas as we’d heard earlier, but it turns out he’d been out partying the night before and had to get ready to head to Vegas.  Where’s the love, Stan?

Anyway, they got to the house for lunch.  The grown ups ate in the new sun room and us kids (thirty years old and I still think of myself as a kid?) ate in the kitchen.  After that Michael and I showed Will Left 4 Dead and he and I played it on split-screen in the living room while we hooked up with Michael, who was in the sun room, via Xbox Live.  Amanda watched and the older folks hung out outside or in the shop or someplace.

You know, after years of playing online gaming on TV screens measuring 42 inches or larger, it’s hard to adjust to split-screen.  Oh, it was all good when we were playing Goldeneye or MarioKart 64 with four people on a 19 inch TV, each person getting about a four inch square to play in, but we didn’t really know any better at the time.  Yet another way we have become spoiled by modern technology.

The Pickens crew left after a bit and I got Amanda to take up Will’s spot in Left 4 Dead, but she didn’t play for too long.  Truth be told, the computer AI was a bit better than she was, not that that’s any knock on her.  It’s not like Amanda’s had much practice at playing first person shooters.

Amanda and I decided to go after a bit, but after packing up neither one of us felt like driving.  A deal was eventually struck and we were about to take off, but then we couldn’t find the dogs.

Amanda’s grandparents had come by to return some stuff they borrowed for yesterday’s shindig, and in all the traffic inside and outside and walking around, going to the shop and such, Bruce and Harvey were let out, despite Amanda telling people not to let the dogs out, and nobody kept an eye on them.

It wouldn’t be a huge deal, but Bruce likes to run off and doesn’t always listen when you call him.  Harvey’s a lot more obedient but hasn’t been there very much and was likely to run off just checking out new smells and such.  Amanda nd I frantically looked for them, and everyone else helped too.  I heard some barking that sounded vaguely like Harvey’s across the field in front of the house so I set off that way.

Harvey, it turned out, had been shut up in the shop.  I’d called for him back there and we assume he was trying to come to the people calling him because someone eventually heard him trying to get out.  Bruce had taken off to go visit the neighbors.  So it all turned out okay, but the sun was starting to set and Amanda and I were really apprehensive about trying to find the boys in the dark.  We were, honestly, a bit upset about the whole thing.  I tihnk people know we love our dogs, but sometimes don’t realize just how much.

When we were leaving, Karen said something about how it’s even tougher once we have a kid.  Obviously we’d be more concerned about losing a child, but I think people would be mor ecognizant of letting a kid outside, plus a kid would know to answer back when you’re calling for them.

Anyhoo, all that aside we had a nice Christmastime with both of our families.  We got home (I drove) and vegged.

Zach Dotsey