Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Suburban Recitative

As promised, a recap of the four day vacation-within-a-vacation taken by myself, my spouse and my child in Boston and the surrounding suburbs 3/8/03 - 3/11/03. Ginny stayed at our apartment and watched the dog.

On Saturday I woke at ten, in my parent's house and in my brother's old room, now remodeled to a rust-carpeted guest room lined with travel books in newly painted frostywhite shelves. Darcie and the baby, having woken at 7:30 to play with Mom (aka Grandma, to the baby), were ready for their turn on the bed and their midmorning nap. Dad took me to his tailor and had an old suit of his fitted to me. The somber blue with thin grey stripes will do for "formal" on the two nights that require such attire on our summer Alaskan cruise. They also, I've discovered, serve something called a High Dutch Tea on the last afternoon, which sounds a bit Amsterdam Coffeeshoppish, but is probably not at all what it sounds like.

Home again and on the road to the New England Aquarium by noon. We thought the baby would like the fish and were half right, as she liked everything, the flashing headcocked penguins and the glowing blacklight shark models and the bubbles rising from the diver in the big ocean tank. And her fellow visitors, the heaving sweaty tightly-packed masses which began to drive Darcie and I insane after 45 minutes. The baby was sleepy anyway, so we went to the Legal Sea Foods across from the Aquarium and the tourist trolley tracks and ate thick creamy chowder, crab rolls and fries, and midday Chardonnay while the baby threw cookies on the floor.

Back home for a quiet afternoon. Sarah had some friends stop by and I chatted with them while they figured out how to get a nonexistent bus to the other Central Square. Mom eventually drove one of them to the T, the baby fell asleep on a bed surrounded by every couch cushion in the house just in case, and Sarah and Amy watched TV while Darcie and I set up the data projector and VCR I just "happen" to carry in my car during breaks for just such an occasion and watched old Fawlty Towers episodes on the wall in the den while we ate take-out barbecue -- pulled pork and purple ribs, slaw and cornbread and pecan pie -- on the floor.

On Sunday we slept late. After a fun trip to the pet store, where a cinnamon cockatiel hopped on the baby's shoulder for justamoment, Mom and Dad offered to take the baby while Darcie and I had a "date." So we went to the Chestnut Hill Mall, had a luxury brunch at Paparazzi (eggs benedict on filet mignon and lobster for 13 bucks! It came with a Mimosa!), and shopped for baby clothes we couldn't afford from designer stores where even "sale" items never dipped below thirtyfive dollar blouses and eighty dollar jumpers.

By the time we got back at three, Darcie and the baby needed another nap. I went out to sit in Starbucks and drink evil corporate coffee while reading the entire Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy series in one sitting, and I broke the passenger side mirror off the car on my parent's fence on my way out of the driveway.

Sunday night Dad had his book group so I went out to Malden to hang with PJ, who had written a rather decent song while I was on my way over. Another old school friend, Bob, stopped by for a while; after he left, we made breakfast (okay, I made english muffins, and PJ made breakfast) and PJ made me watch the first-aired episode of the space western Firefly from a bootleg DVD; I highly recommend it. I stayed way too long and drove back tired and crashed.

It's always a good day when you eat two big meals and both of them are breakfast.

Monday morning we moved the baby seat into my mothers car and started with a visit to Grandpa. He communicates mostly with his eyes now; he can nod to answer yes or no questions, but only speaks on some days, and never on the tooseldom days when I visit. His roommate, Norman, is wheelchair bound as well but more alert and talkative, cooing at the baby while my gentle grandfather looks on ever expressionless. Still, Grandpa seemed rewarded by seeing Willow, especially when she danced for him. He seemed relatively whole, and clean-shaven, which I know makes him happy.

From there to Framingham in the Lexus, my mother behind the wheel, looking for a fabric place called Fabric Place. The downtown neighborhood has become predominantly, ethnically Brazillian in the ten years since I have been through; we park in the Fabric Place lot and walk first down the busy main street in a chill wind past Brazilian supermercados and travel agencies and cultural centers. After some dithering we eat cheeseburgers in the booth of a slightly grimy diner, run by Italians, that served both Pasta Putanesca and Empanadas and had menus in both Portugese and english.

Fabric Place had an endless series of rooms filled with bolts of cloth on shelves, in bins, and in fat quarters, which, like High Dutch Tea, sounds like a drug reference but isn't. My mother and I played with the baby on the floor and talked about her mother's estate while Darcie wandered around gathering patterns and cloth for this summer's petticoats and jumpers for over an hour. Then we paid, and left, and found a different car in our parking space.

The towing company hired by Fabric Place saw us get out of the car and walk purposefully away from the store. Reasonably, how could they know we planned on spending almost a hundred dollars on cloth and string? But we had been there, and the management of Fabric Place was nice enough to call to towing company, and the tow truck driver was nice enough to give me a lift to the muddy lot where the ar was, and the guys behind the desk in the lot were kind enough to waive any charges (they should have, but they didn't have to, you see, so it's still nice), and so that turned out okay. If it had been my car, we'd surely be sitting outside an impound lot right now, counting out our remaining life savings on a brown-grained formica counter.

On our way back we stopped at a wonderful little used clothing store in Auburndale, the next village of Newton over from West Newton (my parents' village) and proceeded to buy about one in ten of the outfits in Willow's size, making moot much of the need, at least, for the cloth-gathering adventure in the first place. Darcie made dinner for the four of us -- two couples of two generations -- and we ate it: walnut and blue cheese on mixed mescline greens, spinach-capped portabella, risotto and roast chicken stuffed with thyme and surrounded by butternut squash. The baby spooned oatmeal and rice onto her brow with a deliberate spoon throughout the meal.

Tuesday I wrote about, mostly, on Tuesday. But before homecoming, we left, which meant hugs for mom and an hour straight of packing, and had lunch with PJ at a Chinese Buffet in the middle of nowhere near his house. PJ seemed agreeable towards but generally unimpressed with the baby -- a behavior I find intelligent and, to be honest, somewhat of a relief, as you get sick of people cooing at you while you're eating.

And today? Ginny stayed on the loveseat last night but left this morning after I came out with the baby at around 8. After a short walk around the warming campus, Darcie's up in Brattleboro with Willow while the power's out for maintenance all day, and I am, to my immense surprise, blogging. The LAN still runs, I can blog as long as the battery lasts. Isn't technology wonderful.

posted by boyhowdy | 11:11 PM |

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