I called Dad yesterday since it was his birthday and had a really nice chat with him and Stepmom.
They went to my aunt & uncle's house this weekend to visit with them and my cousin and his family who were visiting from out-of-state. My uncle and cousin (not father and son) are a hoot. They both have amazingly funny senses of humor and are always up to something. Cousin's little boy, who can't be more than about 7 years old, is a super-smart little guy and is a ton of fun to be around. His mom tells me that everytime they go to the library, he always checks out the science section. This year he's into engineering & electrical stuff, last year it was natural disasters, and before then it was dinosaurs.
Aunt and Uncle have quite a character for a neighbor. When he moved in and saw their little fish pond in the backyard, he had to build one, too. They ended up with a big, joined pond that's full of fish. The neighbor also aquired a couple of chickens and a rooster from jobsites/friends. Mind you, they live in the city limits in one of the more upscale areas. Eventually, one of the neighbors complained, and animal control told him to get rid of the rooster, and they he could keep one chicken as a pet and no more. Apparently the chicken is very tame and friendly and likes visitors. When the family sat down outside for dinner, the chicken came trotting over for snacks. She loves beer and steak, and also eats chicken - that little cannibal. Dad was very much entertained by the whole thing.
Uncle also shared some sad news. When Gramma went into the nursing home, an aunt took her dog. The dog was hit by a car a few years ago, nearly killed, and expected to barely walk after recovery. She made an exceptional recovery and was able to run my aunt's lab ragged. A few weeks ago, my aunt was travelling with the dogs on I-95 and had car problems. She pulled over to check the tires, and Gramma's dog got loose and ran into the highway. My aunt called the state police in a panic and a short while later one of the officers came back with the remains of the dog. From what Dad said, the dog ended up splatted over 3 lanes. Gramma probably isn't coherent enough to understand so I'm pretty sure the family won't tell her. I'm not sure if I should tell my mom - she's the one who adopted the dog for Gramma when Gramma spent a summer with her, so she and the dog had a bond.