That basically describes the past several days of our time on the east coast. I know you’ve been sitting and waiting for a summary so here goes.
July 25 – C is city as I spent the day (that I had planned to spend AT HOME PACKING) going to the library to return a CD that wasn’t in the case (we had returned the case, and all the other library books on Monday as part of my “we are going to be organized and calm rather than insane on the day before we leave, so let’s get things done earlier in the week” plan), getting the boys haircuts (because that had escaped the aforementioned plan), and packing. I spent the morning doing laundry, starting at 6:30 because we have an energy plan that gives us a higher rate from noon to 7pm, so we avoid using any massive appliance between those hours. Everything we owned was clean by noon. I was still packing at midnight. Why? Because I always pack myself last. While the boys did help get themselves packed, I was still all out of sorts from the afternoon of errands.
July 26 – Flying. Airport food. Flying. Driving. Collapsing.
July 27 – C is for cheetah. Dan and I had lunch with my friend Joy, her husband Frank, daughter Avery and her mom. Her mom is currently driving her brother’s car (Joy’s brother). He has recovered all the seats with leopard print fabric. He apparently also carries a leopard print backpack. Joy says he’s secretly a 12 year old girl I said Cheetah because it started with C (rather than the L that starts Leopard). Dan and Frank were able to talk hockey, Joy and I talked babies and high school and general humor. We ate at the local bar that also serves food and had a really tasty lunch.
July 28 (Bed #2). C is for condensation. We drove to Speculator to see my step-brother and his girlfriend get married. The day started out lovely, there was some on and off drizzle that we tried to wish away, but in the end, they were married in a gazebo while everyone either stood under umbrellas or in the pavilion for the reception. It was quite possibly the shortest ceremony I’ve ever witnessed (and, much to Dan’s glee, devoid of diety). There was good food, good music and great times had all around. It was the first time all four of my dad and step-mom’s children have all been in the same place at the same time in 10 years, so my dad was really happy. Family photos were taken, natch. The sun did manage to come out shortly after the ceremony, so the bridal party still had photos taken on the point of the lake where the ceremony was supposed to happen.
Debbie (my step-mother) and my dad, too, I guess, don’t refer to any of us as step-children, which I can appreciate, but it did make for at least one confused guest. I have one brother. Debbie has two children – Laura and Joey. At one point, Debbie introduced me to someone as her daughter. I could see the guest trying to place me and still being confused (FYI: Laura and I don’t really look much alike – she currently has very short, very dark brown hair and brown eyes). I finally said, “I’m Paul’s daughter – Debbie’s step-daughter,” which put the guest at ease. Clearly, she knew Laura (or had met her) and was trying to decide if I was her or something. Debbie made a comment about how she and my dad think of us as their children with no “steps” involved. How you do tell someone that you’re not worried about being called a step-child? It’s the correct relationship. They got married after I did – there was never a custody/visitation/blending families thing were someone might get upset about being called a step kid.
With a 2pm wedding and reception, everyone was hungry again at 9, so I ran to a local bar (the owner was on Chopped!) for late night eats before piling into bed.
July 29 – C is for Coats we didn’t have (Bed #3). We reworked our driving schedule so that we could join everyone for breakfast before starting the long drive to New London, CT and the ferry to Block Island. It began to pour shortly after we entered Connecticut and during the whole ferry crossing. You know what it rarely does in Phoenix? Rain. You know what we don’t have (and kind of refuse to buy)? Raincoats. We were met on BI by Dan’s dad and his long term lady friend, Paula. We had dinner at the Poor People’s Pub (I wonder what their off-season prices are, because “poor people” aren’t dining there in the summer). The Olympics had definitely started by this point and were on every place we went. As much as I dislike TVs all over the place, there is something fun about everyone celebrating athletes when you’re out and about. The waitress joked that the only reason she wasn’t doing the balance beam was because she had to work. I said that family obligations kept me from the uneven bars. Then, it was time to head to the condo/apartment/time share thing that Paula has on BI. I went on the complete tour of the place and very nearly took notes because when it was the pack of us moving around, if anyone tried to have a side conversation while she showed us something (“This is how you open the slide lock on the screen door: you lift this lever, here.”) she was quick with the “Are you paying attention? I’m trying to show you how things work around here,” and not in a joking way.
July 30 – C is for Cocktails. Fun fact: someone who has some complaint about your life choices is more tolerable with cocktails, especially when they’re made with a heavy hand and you’re a lightweight drinker who opts for a light lunch. When Jim and Paula ordered booze with lunch and Dan was doing the driving, I had one too. I’m relatively sure it wasn’t made correctly, but it was strong and I was way more laid back about how I couldn’t possibly educate my children at home forever.
We went to a little animal farm, and I was required to go to the local yarn shop (not by me, mind you – I’m on a yarn diet and wouldn’t make demands when we’re guests for one full day). The actual comment made was “You do yarn, right?” I bought some yarn, mostly out of sympathy for the employees dealing with Paula’s complaining about prices and crap. Dan talked to one of the owners about the looms they have because he did an internship at Albany International where they weave felts for the paper industry.
Dinner featured more booze and more complaining (al dente vegetables – not her favorite). At some point we also hit the beach (boozeless).
July 31 – C is Coming to an end. We made plans to get up “early” so that we could go to this inn that does a breakfast buffet featuring a whole bluefish (Jim loves the stuff). This was met with C is for complaining (quelle surprise) about the “early” departure time (the plan was to be out by 930). There was booze available at breakfast, but it felt a little unseemly to be knocking back mimosas or poinsettias before noon. I had one. We went to see a lighthouse. We were (nearly) yelled at for taking too many pictures because there was a “better” place to take pictures (can you guess by whom?). Fun fact: that better place was closed off to the public. The kids and I walked down the 143 steps of Mohegan Bluffs and then back up them – everyone else stayed at the top. I realized I didn’t have the camera at about step 80 and didn’t opt to go back for it. Fun fact: I’m out of shape.
Late afternoon we took the ferry back to New London (the rain came back just in time for us to get on the ferry again – yay!). Then we took a different ferry at the same dock to Orient Point on Long Island. On that ferry we took the car. Handy tip: there’s no way to get a car from Block Island to Long Island without going thru New London – we went to BI carless. We then drove the Quogue – all the expense of the hamptons without the hampton name (we saw none of those “notable residents”).
August 1 (Bed #4) – C is for cousins. As a child of a small family, I love spending time with Dan’s family. His mother is one of 5. His grandmother’s house is the hub of family activity. We got to see his mother Marilyn, Aunt Marion, Uncle Martin, cousins Michael and Marybeth and Mariah(seeing the theme?), and Uncle Matthew the night before at the house because people were there to celebrate Marion’s birthday (I’m pretty sure it was birthday number 25, despite her having children older than that). I spent this day reorganizing the suitcases doing laundry and being somewhat quiet. Dan and the kids went to the beach with his mom and aunt.
August 2 – C is for companionship. Marilyn offered to watch the boys so that Dan and I could have a day alone (crazy talk, I know). We tried to go out to the Montauk Lighthouse but at about halfway we gave up sitting in traffic with all the other summer people and turned around. We did a little wine tasting at Duck Walk Vineyard, walked around Sag Harbor (including the Whaling Museum. Fun fact: Mrs. Russell Sage used to own the house where the Whaling Museum is located. Also, they have some VERY enthusiastic staff). We had decided on some place in Southampton for dinner, so we drove over there and wandered around that area as well. Fun fact: I would have to buy more things with sequins to fit in if we were to stay in that area.
August 3 – C is for crankiness. Marilyn and her sister left early in the morning and we were trying to find something to do. The awful humidity and general miserableness of staying in a house with floor fans but no air conditioning was really wearing on the kids. We tried to go to the park and play, but they just wanted to sit. Dan’s cousin Marybeth came over for a little while, I tried to read and knit on the porch (the occasional breeze was nice), we played a couple of hands of cards, but basically? We watched the Olympics and were zombies from the heat.
August 4 – C is for crying (bed #5). We left Long Island, but somehow Thing 2 had missed the complete details of our grand tour. He was a mess – he didn’t want to stay at Grandma’s house anymore (because of the lack of A/C), but he didn’t want to get in the car (with A/C!) to get to our next destination. We were patient for a while and then reached the “we’re leaving, so you can get in the car or not, but commit” point while he stomped around shouting that “NOTHING IS GOING TO FIX THIS SITUATION!” He got in the car and was in a better mood as soon as we drove past the Air National Guard base, what with the cool helicopter out front. Handy tip: Weird Al on the radio also helps.
We drove to Englewood, NJ to meet up with one of Dan’s friends and her family. We had lunch at a local park, played on the playground equipment and watched the fish in the stream until we’d all had enough of the heat. We went back to the hotel and got nearly everyone into the pool (I wasn’t interested in suiting up). After everyone had been in the pool for a while, Stephanie volunteered to watch her kids and ours in the pool while we had some time alone (“Do you guys want to go lay down and rest or something? Jason and I can watch the kids. You know what I mean.”). Three cheers for the kindness of non-strangers. 🙂 Once everyone was out of the pool, we had dinner and packed the kids off to bed so they’d be well rested before our big outing the next day. The adults met down in the bar in the lobby to watch Olympics and catch up. It always gives me a brief panic when we leave the kids alone like that, but we’ve done it a couple of times now – we leave them a phone, and they are generally sound sleepers, so it’s a relatively safe prospect. I’m sure European parents wouldn’t even bat an eye.
August 5 – C is for cages. Well, not really. We headed out to the Bronx Zoo. We saw some near animals, dealt with the rain, got turned around several times (Handy Tip: Thing 2 is the best one to have the map), and sweated. There were things we did want to see and didn’t get to (like the Lowland Gorillas) mostly because of getting turned around and walking, walking, walking back to where we started, in circles. In the end, we picked going home and getting cool over more time trying to find things in the humidity. I had managed not to sweat as much (thank you, linen pants?), so I offered to take the kids into the pool while everyone else showered and regrouped. I left it up to the adults to make dinner plans. Once everyone was out of the pool, we were going to find someplace to get some pizza delivered and sit and eat all together in this corner bar area of the lobby (with the blessing of the front desk staff). While walking thru the lobby talking about it, an employee mentioned that a new place had just opened up around the corner with terrific pizza – within walking distance. So, we walked over there, had really great pizza, and then sent the kids to one of the rooms to watch cartoons and play lego while we hung out together again.
August 6 (Bed #6 sort of – it was back to bed #1). C is for college. We checked out by noon and started our drive north. We stopped in Poughkeepsie to see another friend of Dan’s. He went to high school and college with Steve. His wife, Nancy, was 2 years ahead of me at Sage. We stopped at their house, our kids played with theirs, we talked about people in common, had dinner, and a general all around good time. Then it was back into the car to drive the rest of the way upstate and get everyone into bed.
August 7 (there was some bed shuffling tonight now that Dan’s gone – does that count as another bed location?). C is for calming down, sort of. We got Dan off to the airport, the car washed (mostly), several cups of REAL TEA consumed (Dear Coffee Makers of the world – if you want to offer tea, can you PLEASE have a dedicated hot water pot? Not one you sometimes also use for coffee? The hotel offered tea bags and had a hot water thermos pump thing along with coffee in the lobby in the morning. My cups of tea [i tried more than once] tasted like coffee because apparently they just fill the three thermoses in the morning and slap a label on them, rather than one being permanently hot water), lunch out eaten (childless, again!), scooters and bikes ridden, ice cream eaten, and more plans made.
It’s been a crazy 2 weeks. How are things with you?