Two weeks. Ugh. So sorry my dearest blog readers. I’m hoping this is the biggest gap we’ll have on this trip but I make no promises. Unfortunately getting ill the first couple of weeks really trounced my blogging endeavors. I had grand plans to take some interesting day trips, see some countryside, pop into a ghost town or two…basically be a tourist in the state where I spent many summers as a kid. But then the pus grew on my tonsils and that plan flew out the window. So what have I been doing? Not too much that’s blogworthy, really. Of course there was the funeral for my cousin JJ on September 15…and then the birthday party on the 22nd for my grandmother who turned 75. Basically…lots and lots of family stuff which is fun for me but probably not-so-interesting for the rest of you. If you’ll indulge me a little I’ll be posting quite a few pics of said family this time around but will shift back to travel locations later this week.
I’ve fielded several questions lately about the status of the investigation surrounding my cousin JJ’s murder so thought I might type a brief update on what’s been going on. As many of you know, my 26 year-old cousin was shot to death late on September 6 in Fort Benton, Montana (where my grandmother and the majority of my mother’s family lives). The two suspects were immediately apprehended after the man with the gun lead the authorities to the body the next day. Multiple stories have been given about what happened and the murderer maintains the shooting was accidental…but with four shots to the head we’re thinking that’s not likely. The one thing that most agree on is that the outcome was likely fueled heavily by alcohol and drugs for both Cal and Kelsey (the murder team) were known to have drug-related issues. Since Chouteau County hasn’t seen a murder in more than a decade, the state of Montana sent in their own investigators who’ve been extremely tight lipped about what is going on in the investigation. Both Cal and Kelsey have pleaded “not guilty” to their charges (deliberate homicide for Cal and obstruction of justice for Kelsey) though more charges are likely to be filed as the evidence is reviewed. To say this is a difficult time for my family would be an understatement but all things considered, we’re getting on with living which is simply what must be done when something like this happens. Your continued good thoughts would be appreciated.
On Thursday we packed up the cars and headed east to the prairies of central and eastern Montana. After a tough weekend of funerals and sadness, my family really needed a reason to celebrate so decided to continue on with the original plan of my grandmother’s 75th party on September 22. Maxine, Tony, Lindsay, my aunt Joanie and I spent Friday afternoon putting together 13 lasagnas for the party on Saturday. While it was fun…I’m quite sure I do not have a future in the catering business. I don’t like being responsible for so many people’s gastronomical happiness!! To the right is a picture of my sister Lindsay (Noodle Woman) in her chef’s hat with my mom’s sister Joanie. Despite the fact that my grandmother didn’t think anyone would show up, the party was a smashing success by all accounts and fortunately the lasagnas turned out OK. Below is a snapshot of the whole crew with my Granny on her 75th birthday. Aren’t they cute?
The Hankins Seven + Granny Goose
From back left…Cheryl (Tori’s mom), Joanie (Andrea: cousin Alijah’s mom), Marlena (Sheila’s mom), Rodger (cousin Jenifer’s dad) and Dale. In the front row from left is John (JJ and Stevie’s dad), Granny Goose and Maxine (my mom, of course). And in the thumbnails there’s Granny’s cousin Phyllis and her son Michael who traveled 12 hours from South Dakota to be at the party. Also shown is the official emcee of the family…Uncle Dale…and official musician…my mom’s cousin Butch. And of course…the tag team of Stevie and Tori.And with that Tour de Familia I shall depart for now. I should be able to get some more Montana stuff up and posted by the end of this week and I’m back in Madison on Thursday night for the season premiere of Grey’s Anatomy with Colette and Ryan. I’m in the Mad City until October 9 when I depart for Quito, Ecuador…stay tuned for some new culture, new useless facts and lots of great pictures coming from South America starting early October. My best as always and thanks for reading the Extravaganza Blog.