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2004-04-15 | 10:42 p.m.

Plenty to talk about and no time to tell it. Let's see. Rojo is spending the night. I'll have to tell you more about Rojo sometime soon, since he's here almost every day. He is a pack of cards, that one. Ace, deuce, and joker. I call him my nephew but he is really my grand-nephew. I don't like to say that because it makes me sound as if I am a hundred and twelve years old and asking people to speak into a tortoiseshell ear trumpet.

Most people I know would say "great-nephew" but after being corrected I consulted a starchy usage book and learned that grand-nephew is indeed the preferred term; Rojo's son will be my great-nephew. The trick to remember it is that I am his grand-aunt, sister of his grandmother. The grandness applies to the entire generation, you see.

I had a Weimaraner for a few hours today, until her owner tracked us down through the Humane Society. What a sweetheart. Now I have another breed to covet. I suppose I have been holding Wegman against them all this time.

Duff finally got around to opening some mail from the IRS the other day and had what you might call a cardiac moment. The letter said he still owed them $10,000 for 2001. Apparently the credit union reported that he had received $33,000 in dividends from investment income. He had to spend an hour at the bank the next day sorting it out. Of course, it still isn't really sorted out. Nothing ever resolves that fast when it comes to the IRS.

I almost wrote on Easter, in the evening, after everyone had left. But I started washing the kitchen floor instead. It was a bittersweet day. I loved having Frank and Fiona here, and even more exciting was a surprise visit from Mike and Scott and their kids, the prodigious girl-child who can READ! at THREE! and (for the first time ever!) the squeezably soft boy-child, who might as well have been painted by Sister Maria Innocentia herself. When he smiles, his eyes crinkle up just like Mike's do.

But I couldn't get the house together ahead of time and I felt bad about it the whole day. And then when Frank was thanking me for having them, I apologized for the house being a wreck and he said "It wasn’t a wreck" (being nice) and Fiona said, in that perfect diction of hers, "Well, it was a wreck." I don’t think she was out to hurt my feelings, exactly. I think it was more about being honest and correct. And she certainly had every right to say it, since she had helped me straighten up the kitchen and fixed half the food. But I sank very low after that, and felt as if I were myself physically dirty, though I wasn’t, and my stomach felt half queasy until nightfall.

I always want to do better but it always turns out more or less the same. Except this time it was worse than usual. Next time it might be a little better than the time before this. Who knows? In my mind, I often find myself thinking, "I do try." I suppose I amaze myself, because I do try, and still it manages to be this bad.

At least I have friends like Frank and Mike who prop me up no matter what. They’re both the sort who will defend me from any self-inflicted criticism, no matter how apt. When I complimented Mike on her pretty feet and asked if she’d had a professional pedicure, she said no, they pretty much always look like that. "I might have been a foot model," she joked, perhaps not for the first time. I offered a mild complaint about having Shrek feet and Mike objected.

Oh, I like your feet," she said kindly, as if concerned about my feet’s feelings.

A friend like this you cannot buy with gold nor silver.

Stephen is a good friend too and getting excited about our upcoming visit to Seattle. Duff is attending a convention in May and I’m tagging along. We’re leaving Nana, aka my mother, in charge of the estate. As payment, we promised her a trip to Arizona to visit her best friend. She also made me promise that she wouldn’t have to pick up the chicken.

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