This diary entry is part 25 of 25 in Lily's diary dated 29 - November 2023

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

Now Liz is sick too.  Aww.  I went over to take care of her too.  It’s possible I didn’t give it to her, but let’s be honest, I probably did.  So I’m running all over the place taking care of my friends.  I don’t mind, though.  Liz doesn’t really like chicken soup, but she does like ramen – you know, the good kind, not the insta-noodle kinds.  So I got her some.

She seemed to appreciate it.

The rich broth is really comforting when you have a cold.

Jack’s kinda down for the count right now, but he seems to be appreciating the break.  He’s been pretty busy lately, so he seems to enjoy downtime when he gets it.  And he’s not complaining that I let him put his head in my lap and stroke his hair.  Boys really seem to like that… and who could blame them?  I wouldn’t mind either.

It’s almost December!  Where did the time go?  Dave’s putting the decorations up this weekend.  Hopefully using his new ladder.

He bought some lights powerful enough to direct airplanes.  What is it about guys?

Oh well.  It’s pretty nonetheless.

The Aidols are really looking forward to their trip here.  We’re getting on zoom every now and then, and they’re chittering and chattering about things they want to see in America.  Why is it everyone wants to see a Wal-Mart???  And Ai told them about Buc-ees, so they want to see one of them too.  Tourists are so easy to place.  I’m planning on going up to Dallas with them and visiting Rebecca.  She’s not lonely at all – she made new friends because she’s Rebecca – but she wants to spend a little time with the Aidols too.  She had such a good time in Japan.  She wants to take them to one of those arcade places.

I don’t know how we’re going to work some of this out.  Everyone wants to spend some time with Ai and the aidols, but there’s only so much time, and Emiko wants to spend a little time with them too.  She doesn’t get to spend much time with actual Japanese people, so she values it when she gets the chance.  Can’t blame her.  It is her home.

Well, we’ll figure it out.  Ai’s been talking up our Christmas traditions too.  There’s no KFC, but she likes the emphasis on family and how nice all the ceremonies are.  You know, the gift exchanges, the Christmas dinner, that stuff.  “Ceremony” is a strong word… but I guess that’s what they are.  I might set up a big ol’ Christmas party for everyone.  I’ll see what Sabby thinks.  That might be fun.  Maybe we can invite all the people from the shop, too.  Oh, and Katie!  I haven’t said much about her.  She’s doing fine.  Her kid is growing like a weed.  Well, still not doing a whole lot useful, but she’s crawling up a storm.  It’s cute.

It was a bit rainy today, but it was nice.  I took Marie for a long sniffing tour, I mean walk.  She loved it, as usual.

Love you all!!! ❤️

This diary entry is part 24 of 25 in Lily's diary dated 29 - November 2023

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

Jack’s sick now, and so is Grace.  I guess they got whatever I had.

So yesterday I made some soup (Sabby helped, I’m not a great cook) and took it over to him and pampered him a little.  It’s the least I could do.  I read Grace a story too.  She wasn’t really in the mood to do much but she seemed to enjoy the story.  Kids her age always do.  I chatted with his parents a little too.  I told them thanks for letting him take care of me.

They said it was either him or them, and of the three of them, he was in the best position…

Strangely calculated, that was.

But I didn’t write last night.  After I got back from Jack’s, the girls wanted to talk about the band, so we… talked about the band.  Crystal’s kinda raring to go, but I told her that I wasn’t going to be a part of a band that wasn’t at least a little competent, and that’s my price for participating.  She pouted a little but showed me a little of what she can do now.  She really is improving.  Not band quality at all, even bad band quality, but… she’ll get there.  Eventually.

I also checked in on the shop.  Everything seems to be humming along.  Now that we have a little more cohesive identity than “that cookie place with all the girls that wear cute outfits”, we seem to be getting a few regulars.  That’s kinda neat… if a little sad.  They seem lonely.  There’s this one guy who comes around pretty often and the girls have taken a liking to him, they kind of dote on him.  It’s cute, but that’s really all it is.  Even cat-girl learned her lesson, thankfully.

It’s like a “Cheers” with maid outfits.

We got a band that wanted to play.  We told them we couldn’t pay, but they could have some cookies and drinks, and we’d advertise a little.  They seemed to think that was a fair trade, so we’ll be having a little concert this weekend!  We’re also debating an “open mic” night, but we haven’t figured out all the details yet.  I guess we’re a live music house now too!  Fits, for Austin.

Band’s called “Death to Kawaii”.  Hah!

I went to Jack’s again today and made sure he was well fed.  He seemed to appreciate that.

Okay…  going to bed now. 

Love you all!!! ❤️

This diary entry is part 23 of 25 in Lily's diary dated 29 - November 2023

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

I’m glad to be home.  I liked spending time with everyone and it had its good points and all that, but truth be told…  well, I’m glad to be home.  Yuki had a really good time, Grace had a pretty good time, Jack really showed his true colors (in a good way)…  it was a good trip, but I’m glad to be home.  I don’t think I’d have wanted to do that for another week.

I guess I’m not a camping kinda girl.

I like nature but not that much.

Crystal is…  really improving on the guitar.  I know she’s only been at it for a few weeks, so she’s not going to be some shredding guitarist, but…  she’s not bad for the time she’s spent.  She needs to understand theory better but she can play a quite a few chords and pretty decently…  she can do some simple songs in a folksy style, so that’s pretty cool.  Maybe she’ll be ready for playing in a group in a couple of months.  I’m not really worried about my part.  I’m a pretty accomplished musician, I just need to get used to the drums and I’ll be fine.  Beth’s been practicing too… she’s got quite a voice on her when she chooses to use it.  As we learned when she and Sabby had fights…

I could stand to brush up on theory a bit too, though.  It’s a surprisingly complicated topic…

Anyway…  otherwise, back to the grind.  Back to school for me, back to work for Jack, back to school for Yuki, back to school for Grace…  it’s like it never happened.  And…  I dunno.  That’s not the most ringing endorsement for a destination, I guess.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful.  I’m not.  I love how Liz’s family has adopted me, and it was nice to spend time with everyone, and…  I guess not everything can be a hit, right?

Maybe it’s just colored by being sick through half of it.

Oh well.

Next up… Ai and the aidols coming here around Christmastime.  That should be really fun.  Five Japanese girls running around Austin.  We may never be the same.  Haha!!!

Love you all!!! ❤️

This diary entry is part 22 of 25 in Lily's diary dated 29 - November 2023

Hi! It’s me! Lily!

We arrived back this afternoon.  I’m very glad to be home.

The trip back from Amarillo was pretty uneventful, the hill country is really nice, a bit, well, hilly…  but it was alright.  Liz’s parents dropped everyone off then went back to return the cars they’d rented.  The girls were all at my house and there were lots of hugs and tears and “I missed you” and all that fun stuff.

I missed them too.  A lot.

Sabby had a big hug for me, too.. she told me she was really worried.  I told her it turned out fine.  She said she knows but she was still worried, and she’ll always be worried when stuff like that happens.  I guess I get it.  I had a big hug for Dave because he insisted on being so overprepared and that saved my pretty little bottom.  I’ll never be upset with him for doing that again.  Oh, who am I kidding, but now he has a really good argument that will probably shut me up very fast.  I don’t think I would have died or anything but having that medicine and soup was a big help.

I told Beth that she really didn’t miss a whole lot and there was nothing to be jealous of.  It wouldn’t have been a whole lot of fun for her if her friends didn’t come along too.  Camping really isn’t all that good if it’s not with friends, otherwise it’s pretty boring, I think.

Anyway, we’re going to have a sleepover tonight, but everyone has to leave early tomorrow for school, so…  we’re going to bed.

Love you all!!! ❤️

This diary entry is part 21 of 25 in Lily's diary dated 29 - November 2023

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

We’re in Amarillo now, on the way back.

Last night after I wrote the post, I did what I said I wanted to do, and went outside and looked at the stars.  The campfire was still lit, but it was very low, and it was just the right about of light.  The kettle still had some water in it, so I put it on the fire and made some hot chocolate.

While I was drinking it, Jack came out and sat next to me.  We just sat there for a bit looking at the stars.

I looked at him for the first time in a long while.  I mean really looked at him.  The fire was lighting his face dimly, and, well, not gonna lie.  He was pretty hot.  And looked a little pensive.

“Penny for your thoughts,” I said.

“They’re worth at least a dime,” he said.

“We’ll split the difference – a nickel.”

He chuckled and was quiet for a bit.

“I guess this wasn’t really a good trip for you,” he said, a little sadness in his voice.

“No!”, I said.. then again, a little quieter, “No.  It…  was better than I expected.”

“But you got sick,” he said.  “You didn’t get to do anything through most of it.  Everyone went hiking, and you were sick.”

I sighed.  “I got to spend time with you,” I said softly.  “You took care of me.  I…  I don’t like being sick but it was…  perfect.”

He sighed.  “You shouldn’t have to be sick to spend time together.”

“Maybe not,” I said, “But we do what we can.  It’s not like we’re married and living together.  We both have our own lives.”

“I…  wish we didn’t, sometimes.”  His arm snaked around me and I leaned into him.  “I like taking care of you.”

I sighed, and a tear leaked out.  I couldn’t help it.  I sniffled a bit and a coyote howled in the distance.  The stars were bright, the air was cold, and Jack was warm.  It…  was a perfect night.

But eventually we went to sleep, and the sun came up, and we ran around putting the tents in the car and making sure we had everything cleaned up, and then we made a final trip to the bathroom and were on the road.  It was a pretty uneventful trip.  Grace kept jabbering about how much fun she had and making up little songs about the grand canyon.  Everyone else was pretty sleepy though.  For lunch we stopped at a fast food place and had, well, fast food, and it was delicious.  Grace got an ice cream cone and it was gone pretty fast.

When we got to our room, everyone wanted a shower, and now everyone’s asleep.  I’m going to be asleep too, shortly.  I miss my family and my friends.  I don’t think I’ll miss the grand canyon.  But…  I’ll miss Jack taking care of me.  A lot.  I’ll miss that a lot.  He’s told me he loves me.  We’ve spent a lot of fun times together.  We’ve done some stuff together that was… very enjoyable.  But…  this was the first time I knew.  When they do wedding vows, they say “in sickness and in health”, and…  we’re not married yet.  We’re not even engaged.  But…  it’s not the good times that test a relationship, is it?

Love you all!!! ❤️

This diary entry is part 20 of 25 in Lily's diary dated 29 - November 2023

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

I’m…  not sure how I feel about camping, honestly.  I mean, it’s nice here, the air is fresh, and it’s nice spending time with everyone.  But it’s a little boring too.  There’s not much to do at a campsite other than, well… camp.  And I spent most of it sick anyway.  Maybe not my favorite thing.  It was alright, but…  not really fun, if that makes sense.

Yuki really had a good time, though.  Like I said, she’s never seen anything like the Grand Canyon, and there’s nothing like it in Japan.  They have other things we don’t have, but this was different.  And for me too.  It is pretty, but…  once you’ve seen one big hole, I guess…  maybe I’d feel the same if I went to the top of fujisan.

So we leave tomorrow morning.  I guess I should get some sleep.  We packed everything up tonight, except for the tents, and now it’s just getting some good sleep.  We all took a shower before bed too, so it’s just waking up, hopping in the car, and going.

Maybe I’ll sit outside and look at the stars a bit before bed.  There are so many stars here.  In the city, you only see a few, but here, they’re like, well…  grains of sand on the beach.  Just so many of them.  And there’s even this thing, the “milky way”…  Liz says it’s our galaxy.  That’s kind of amazing.  Makes me feel really small.  And it’s so quiet too… except for the distant howling of coyotes and the occasional hooting of an owl…  it’s dead quiet here.  No road noise, no…  no anything.

Jack took such good care of me, too.  He’s really good at it too, I didn’t even know.  I…  I have a lot to think about.  Maybe..  it’s not about how things are when they’re good, but how they are when they’re… well, not.

Maybe that’s what Sabby was trying to tell me.

Love you all!!! ❤️

This diary entry is part 19 of 25 in Lily's diary dated 29 - November 2023

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

And today was Thanksgiving!!!

We didn’t really have a traditional meal, really.  It’s hard to do that when you’re camping.  But the campsite did have a few traditional things, they put on a little buffet in their hall, so we at least had something good to eat.  They had some pies, a couple of traditional things, and they did some BBQ.  It was pretty good.  We wanted to do fireworks, but, well, they’re illegal, so we didn’t.  Some other campers nearby did, though.  They were pretty.  Right up until the rangers came by and kicked them out.  Glad we didn’t.

I woke up feeling a lot better.  Still pretty weak but just weak.  Sucks being sick, but I’m kind of thankful for it.  Jack really came through when I needed him.

There really isn’t a whole lot else to do when camping other than hiking, eating, sleeping, and that kind of thing, so Jack drove me over to the actual canyon.  I can’t walk or run as much as usual right now, but at least I got to see it.  It was really pretty.  Yeah, it’s a big hole, but it’s a really big hole, and pretty impressive.  Then tonight we sang campfire songs.  Well…  Yuki sang a couple of her idol songs, and, well…  it doesn’t go great without a backing track.  But she’s not bad.  I mean she’s not a pro opera singer or anything like that, but she’s had some training.  We taught her some customary campfire songs too.  Like “de camptown ladies”, and “I’ve been working on the railroad”.  I guess that one’s not very well known in Japan.  Apparently “turkey in the straw” is, though.  Go fig.

We leave Saturday morning.

Love you all!!! ❤️

This diary entry is part 18 of 25 in Lily's diary dated 29 - November 2023

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

My fever broke this evening.  Now I just feel really weak.  But I was able to go take a shower, so there’s that.  I was smelly.  I’m not anymore.

But I went out and sat by the fire with everyone, and it was nice.  They offered me some marshmallows, and I roasted a couple, but I don’t really feel a lot like sweets.  That’s how you know I’m sick!!! I just wanted something savory.  They grilled me up a burger, and that hit the spot pretty well.  Jack stayed with me all day.  I really need to hold on to that boy… if I can.

He seems to feel the same way.

There’s enough electricity here to charge phones and run a small fridge, which is helpful.  But not much more than that.  Just a couple of outlets we kinda fight over.  But we keep the big ol’ lithium packs charged on one of the plugs, so there’s lots of places to plug in a phone without fighting over that.  And Dave sent along a car battery inverter too, which is HELLA convenient.

I woke up this morning and found Grace cuddled up to me too…  and that was really nice in its own way.  I hope I don’t get her sick, but if so, that’s her own fault.  I didn’t ask her to.

Maybe I’ll do a small hike tomorrow.  Depends on how I feel I guess.  I still feel pretty weak.  What a time to get sick…  but maybe it was a good thing.  Jack really showed me how he feels…  and it’s really making me think.

A couple of the adults went to town today and picked up some food for tomorrow.  They don’t have a huge selection and it was pretty expensive (and it’s like half an hour away), but they had enough that we’ll have a decent Thanksgiving feast.  I think…  all told, I have a lot to be thankful for.  I hope I actually get to see the canyon, but if not, well… it still was alright, I guess.  The sunrises here are really pretty.

Yuki seems to be having fun.  She says that for all of Japan’s natural beauty, there’s nothing at all like this there, and she’s glad she came with us.  Liz brought her violin and did a little concert at the edge of the canyon, she said the acoustics were better than the shower!

Love you all!!! ❤️

This diary entry is part 17 of 25 in Lily's diary dated 29 - November 2023

Hi! It’s me! Lily!!!

I’m still sick. Today wasn’t easy.  I just laid in my sleeping bag most of the day and slept.

But Jack has been taking so good care of me.  I can’t actually believe how much he’s taking care of me.  Everyone went off hiking today and he stayed behind.  I was cold and he got in the sleeping bag with me – and just warmed me up.  He fed me soup (Dave’s worrywart nature saved me again), he read to me until I fell asleep…  he helped me walk to the restroom.

I don’t deserve him.

But I’m so thankful for him.

They almost packed everyone back in and went home, but I didn’t want them to do that.  A long car ride would probably be worse right now anyway.  My sleeping bag is warm, the air is fresh and nice, and Jack’s taking better care of me than I ever imagined.

Don’t worry too much about me.  I’m not having any real trouble breathing, just a little coughing and sneezing and runny nose and fever.  There’s actually a doctor a town over and the people who run the campsite called him, and he gave me a once over.  They saw me being helped to the restroom and were a little worried.  He said it’s just a virus and it’ll have to run its course.  Not really news to me, but it helped Sabby feel a bit better.  He didn’t ask for any money, so we got him a pastry from the cafe.  It was nice of him.  But I guess that’s how small towns work.  I have a feeling Sabby’s going to send him some cookies.  A LOT of cookies.  And you know that’s not an idle threat from Sabby.

It’s night right now.  It’s so dark outside.  Jack’s sleeping next to me.  His parents don’t seem to mind, I guess they figure I’m sick, what are we going to do?  They’re right.  I don’t want to do anything but sleep.  I’m going to put this tablet away and cuddle up to him now.  He’s so warm…

Love you all!!! ❤️

This diary entry is part 16 of 25 in Lily's diary dated 29 - November 2023

Hi! It’s me! Lily!

I’m sick.  Really sick.  Not hospital sick but I feel awful and just want to sleep and eat chicken soup and I’m cold and…

Jack’s taking care of me.

I love Jack.

I’m so glad Dave wanted us to pack medical stuff.  It’s saving my life right now.  Definitely figuratively, maybe literally.

I’ll write more when I’m not sick.

Love you all!!! ❤️