[ Unavoidably early, yes. While I'm not going anywhere in the morning, my parents need a ride back from the airport at an unspeakable hours. ]
And in other goings-on: this weekend my niece had her fourth birthday, and a corresponding party. This was held at my sister-in-law's parents' house, at the way far south end of New Jersey, which meant for me getting up earlier than I normally would on the weekend, and also doing all the driving myself as my parents are on vacation. There was a short-lived effort to get all the siblings together to carpool down, but it fell apart when my brother living-in-Massachusetts said he didn't want to add the time driving to and from my/my-parents' house to his already long commute. It turned out this didn't matter anyway, since he bailed out, an hour before the party started, irritating my sister and her husband (who had been planning to drive down with him), and really irritating my sister-in-law who'd got up ridiculously early to bake vegan cupcakes for him and his girlfriend, when she could've just got gluten-free cupcakes for the other people with diet restrictions in the guest set.
Anyway. The net result: I was the first sibling there, and the last one to leave by several hours, and the contretemps about family members not visiting enough, which as far as I know is still going on --- again, I only hear about it second-hand --- is still avoiding me and I'm coming out way ahead on points.
Oh yes, and my niece was thrilled with her birthday. She's at the age where she's been absorbed by the Disney Princesses, which was the theme for the party. But her parents also built a nice cardboard castle for the backyard, and among her gifts included a bunch of Strawberry Shortcake: Friendship Is Magic toys. I gave her that Weird Al Yankovoch book I got autographed to her a few months ago, as well as a Snoopy Sno-Cone Maker. That last I was really happy to give since I remember having that as a kid, when it was (a) delightful and (b) not making enough sno for our needs. But she's got a smaller family. Her favorite gift, though, was a toy cell phone; almost immediately she began making calls to some of the Disney Princesses and clearly imitating my brother in checking in on FourSquare.
The baffling thing --- something many people asked about --- is not that she used the toy phone to take ``pictures'', but that after the photo-snapped sound she took something slid out from it and handed it to us. How the heck does a four-year-old know how Polaroids work?
Trivia: The Babylonian Zodiac sign corresponding to the Latin Virgo was the Furrow. Source: Mapping Time: The Calendar and its History, EG Richards.
Currently Reading: Chocolate Wars: The 150-Year Rivalry Between The World's Greatest Chocolate Makers, Deborah Cadbury.