Tuesday, December 02, 2008
My holiday weekend got off to an unusual start last Wednesday. AG and I had planned for an early start, however at the last minute, I found out that the meeting I had been waiting for the past week to occur was going to happen at last that morning.
My rat study is finally becoming an actuality. However, to make it happen we had to have one more day of animal training. Bits of white fur went flying as we learned to do saphenous vein draws, gavage feedings and how to sedate the little beasties. At one point it was somewhat festive as the lab expert showed us how to deftly guide a rat into a cylindrical bag with an opening at the end to make the feedings easier. As she guided the rat into the bag further, with it scurrying towards the opening and tail hanging out, I couldn't help but think of how this was similar to squeezing frosting out of a tube when cake decorating! Our test subjects gave the ultimate sacrifice in the interest of training us for autopsies, and I wondered if there was anyone else on the planet thankful at that moment that rat dissections are relatively straightforward.
Meetings when you are in a rush never seem to end, and I quickly raced home to help load up the cooler with snacks and AG and I were off, an hour and a half later than planned. It was a long drive, prolonged by Lake Effect snow that hurled at the windshield and increased the weight of our eyelids. We were on our way to his aunt's house out in West Virginia. Along the way, signs read "Buckle up for next one million miles" and I knew I was far from home when an Amish buggy, complete with horse, crossed over an overpass.
Finally, we made it. His parents soon joined us, and we all settled in for the night. The next morning, visitors progressively arrived, until we had 30+ people situated at three different tables. (AG's family is like mine in that neither of us will ever make it to the adult table.) I don't know how his aunt did it all, but she was able to orchestrate plenty of room for everyone, and somehow managed to have the dinner dishes washed and stacked while the rest of us nibbled at an incredible selection of pies.
Thanksgiving morning, AG and I went for a bit of a ride four-wheeling, followed by target shooting out in the backyard. I had never fired a gun before (I always refused to go out with my father and brothers, being the petulant teenager that I was), and took turns at two different rifles and two different handguns. I actually did pretty well with an older bolt-action style rifle than with the other ones which had fancy magnification scopes and laser-sites. Something about just lining up the iron sites and watching casings flip out of the rifle each time I cocked it amused me. I did alright with the 0.22's, but when I switched to a 0.40 caliber handgun, is when I took a beating. For the next two days my arms were sore, just from lifting the weapons, and bracing myself when I fired them.
After Thanksgiving, we drove back to AG's parents' home. Over the weekend, we met up with several of his friends and family, and did an early Christmas gift exchange. I think that you can tell a lot about a person by their friends and relatives, and it's neat to see him in that kind of environment. The weekend went by all too fast, with lots of hurried goodbyes before he leaves for deployment, but I was happy to see that he has such a strong, supportive network.