Month: May 2005

Cape Cod Trip

Rather than give you 2500 words on our trip, I’ll force myself to share the highlights via bullet points for brevity’s sake.

  • The weather, as I alluded to earlier, sucked. We didn’t expect 85 and sunny each day, but this was nothing close to Chamber of Commerce weather. Luckily, I had some good books with me.
  • M. did phenomenally during our travels. She largely slept on both flights and our 90 minute drives between Boston and the Cape. She even behaved wonderfully when her mom and dad forced her to take a 90 minute tour of Fenway Park. We flew both ways on small CRJ jets. It was funny watching the looks of fear in the eyes of the other passengers as we boarded with a small child. Benadryl is the traveling parents’ friend.
  • Bad joke of the trip. As we descended over Boston Harbor towards Logan, S. nudged me and said, “We should get some tea bags and throw them in there this week.”
  • Quintessential Boston scene: As we were driving by the BU campus, trying to find the right route to Cape Cod, several crew teams rowed their boats (what are those called, skulls?) down the Charles River.
  • The trip to Cape Cod was kind of strange. First, you’re never more than ten miles from the water, but once you get out of Boston, you never see it. Second, unlike Midwestern highways that are generally cut through flat, open lands, the route to the Cape is cut through old forests. It’s as if you’re on some deserted highway going nowhere rather than just south of one of the biggest cities in the nation. Since spring arrives later in New England, many of the trees still had muted colors, making it feel more like October than May. Not what I expected at all.
  • Our house was nice. Room for all ten people we had each night. A large family room, a smaller TV room. Roughly a block away from the beach. Too bad we only made that walk twice, and then heavily bundled up.
  • Monday, after an excellent lunch of Guinness-battered haddock and some outstanding chowder (chowdah), we drove to Hyannis. I wanted to go to the small JFK museum there. The museum ended up being closed for construction, so we walked around a bit, then drove to the JFK memorial near the marina. The winds were starting the roar in off the water then, so we ran out, took a couple pics, and scurried back to the minivan and headed home.
  • On the ride back, we stopped at a roadside taffy stand. A popular sign at the stand said “Fill Your Own Box”. We had fun with that one.
  • For years I’ve heard Bill Simmons talk about Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. I finally had some. My first attempt wasn’t what I hoped for, mostly because the person serving me spoke zero English, apparently not even comprehending the items on the menu. So I ended up with a plain coffee with milk. Not bad, but not what I was looking for. Later in the week I got an iced latte that was quite simply sublime. Far better than the iced offerings at Starbucks. We need to get DDs in Carmel soon.
  • Evenings were spent making group dinners, then hanging out while the weather battered our old house. I went through two books (see up-coming Reader’s Notebook summaries) and following the Red Sox on either NESN or the radio. Unfortunately, the Sox decided to get swept by the Blue Jays, so that didn’t end up being quite the experience I wanted it to be. Some of my in-laws looked at me like I was crazy when I said I wanted to sit around and listen to baseball at night. I’m a geek, but I’m not crazy!
  • One goal for the week was to avoid the news as much as possible. I wanted to chill out and not be bothered by the goings-on in the world. Our house came complete with 70 channels of cable TV, which once the weather hit, was quite popular with some of my house-mates. I ended up learning a little about what was going on in the world because we sat around watching the “24-hour, live, eyewitness, weather-watch, storm-tracker” teams on both the Boston on Providence stations.
  • Wednesday, we headed to Boston to drop off my new college grad bother-in-law for an interview and pick up a sister-in-law at Logan. We had some time to kill, so drove around a bit, and made a quick trip to the Museum of Fine Art. Highlights were seeing a Jackson Pollack up close, and an exhibit that had old Red Sox jerseys, including Ted Williams’, Yaz’s, Carlton Fisk’s, and of course several items from last year’s team. Some of those old jerseys looked ridiculously cheap. Hard to believe it’ll set you back $200 to get one these days.
  • Thursday, we went to Provincetown, which lies at the farthest reach of the Cape. That is where the Mayflower landed first and sat docked until they realized there was little fresh water and they then sailed across the Bay to Plymouth. There’s a huge (252 feet) monument to the Pilgrims, along with a couple smaller memorials. P-town, as it’s called, is a very artistic, open community. There are lots of flamboyant characters. I’m using euphemisms the guide books like to use for saying there’s a large gay population in town. Combined with the tiny, crowded streets and crappy weather, it definitely reminded me of my days in San Franscisco. We ate lunch at a place called the Lobster Pot. Appropriately, I had lobster bisque and a lobster salad roll. Outstanding. Driving into P-town was amazing. The land just disappears and suddenly you’re on a highway surrounded by sand dunes. Again, I felt more like I was in Northern California than the tip of Massachusetts.
  • Friday was get-away day. We loaded up the minivan (including several bags we were checking for the in-laws who were driving back to Indy) and headed north. Since S. said it, I can just quote her, but the highlight of the entire trip was taking the Fenway Park tour. That place is just amazing. As someone who’s loved baseball since I was seven, it made me feel like a little kid again to be in a place with so much history, that seemed so unreachable when I was a child. I’m particularly pleased with how our <a href=”http://homepage.mac.com/dbrann/Album2/PhotoAlbum38.html”>pics</a> from Fenway turned out.
  • Our trip to Logan and then home was uneventful, other than sitting on the ground for an hour at the gate in Boston. Memo to other travelers: flying into Indy on Memorial Day weekend can be problematic. There’s a little sporting event here that keeps the airport extra busy.
  • So great trip, really. Sure, the weather sucked, but it was extremely relaxing for the most part. Kicking back in a comfortable chair with a good book while the weather shook the house made me feel like a New Englander for a moment or two. I imagined this is what Stephen King, Dennis Lehane, and all the other writers from NE do when the weather is shitty. If the weather had been great and we were running around each day, we would have come home totally fried. I’m a big fan of being boring and catching your breath when you leave home. Travel is stressful enough without having 20 of every 24 hours devoted to making sure you’re at this place at that time. And I definitely want to go back to New England sometime, perhaps during a fall when the weather is changing. And I want to get to Fenway for a game some day.
  • I think that’s all the big stuff. Hope it’s not too detailed and you get a feel for how the week went.

Nor’ Eastah

Nothing like spending a week in Cape Cod during the worst May Nor’easter the area has experienced in nearly 40 years.  Torrential rains, 50+ MPH winds, temps 15-20 degrees below normal.  And believe it or not, I had a great week.  Arrived home safe, sound, and tired late Friday night, still buzzing from our tour of Fenway Park Friday afternoon.  Pulling my thoughts together over the holiday weekend and I’ll have a recap of the week ready when most of my regular readers are returning to work next week.  Hope all have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend.

My Daughter, The Entertainer

We’ve entered another rather unfortunate phase of M. waking up in the middle of the night. Sure, we might be going to bed between 9-10 each night, but waking to yelling and screaming at 2:30 AM still sucks. Last night, M. was in rare form, though.
I got up with M. the first time at around 2:30. She had twisted her body into a weird angle, kicked off her blanket, and lost her binky. I straightened her out, covered her back up, and offered her pacifier to her, which she snatched up greedily. She opened her eyes wide, which I should have known was a bad sign.
About 15 minutes later, there’s more noise from her room. Not really angry-upset noises, but more the sounds of a baby who is wide-awake and wants to play. I rolled out of bed again and found her standing up, holding onto the crib rails, smiling. I picked her up, sat in the rocker, and tried to calm her. She immediately dropped her head against my chest and seemed to be going back to sleep. 10-15 minutes passed, and I was nearly ready to try to put her back to bed. Just before I made the move, she popped her head up, looked at me with wide, crazy eyes, smiled, and tried to shove her binky into my mouth. Great, she’s definitely in the mood to play.
Over the next 45 minutes, I was witness to the first performance of M.’s variety show. She told jokes. Something along the lines of, “Yoooww ahhh baaaah yoooowww mamamama,” offered with great drama and seriousness. Pause. Ridiculous laughter. I either missed the punch-line or it was something only a ten-month-old can appreciate. She danced, bouncing up and down on me. There were some songs, too, but she failed to combine them with her unique moves into a song-and-dance number. She did magic tricks, continuing to try to both make her binky disappear into my mouth, and trying to make my nose disappear by grabbing it and yanking as hard as she could. I found all of this slightly humorous and a little painful. She found it to be great fun.
I gave up and brought her to our bed around 3:45. She laid there quietly, looking around for about five minutes until S. got up to use the restroom. Keep in mind, M. had been perfectly happy for the past hour with little or no whining. As soon as S. went around the corner, instant screaming. I still can’t quite figure out how these babies and their emotions work. We medicated her with Motrin, S. rocked her for a few minutes, and she finally fell asleep again a little after 4:00.
You might think this little early morning playtime meant we got to sleep in for a change. You would be wrong, although 6:35 is much better than 5:00. Naturally, though, around 8:00 M. utterly collapsed on the couch with her mother while I went to the gym. No matter how tired and worn out they make you overnight, there’s something about seeing them curled up, in complete peace, napping that makes all the weariness and unhappiness go away.

Sorry Ass Old Folks

I’m referring to my wife and myself.  This is what roughly two weeks of 5:00 AM wake-up calls can do to you:  We had dinner with some friends last night.  I had three beers and S. knocked back 2 1/2 glasses of wine.  We got home about 8:45.  We were in bed at 9:01, asleep shortly afterwards.  Kids suck the life out of you some days.  M’s grin when she wakes up in the morning and sees us for the first time makes all the lameness completely  worth it.

Balls

There’s no easy way to say this so I’ll just come right out and say it: until recently, my daughter had no balls to play with. I’ve failed in my responsibility as a parent in allowing her to reach eight months of age before I made sure she had some balls to play with. On a trip to Target a month or so ago, however, I found a package of four whiffle balls for 99 cents. Since Nerf balls are apparently no longer carried at Target (at least in Carmel, IN), that seemed to be the best I could do. I tossed the package into our cart, and hoped for the best. Turned out to be an excellent purchase, one of my best yet.

The package included two types of whiffle balls. Two each of the fake, solid baseballs with plastic stitching and the standard whiffle balls. (Sorry Gail, no plastic softballs were available.) Both were instantly popular. M. liked the true whiffle balls because she could get her fingers stuck in them and drag them with her as she crawled around the house. Her hands were just big enough to grip the psuedo-baseballs, and she liked to hold those while she flapped her arms (I’m still not sure what the arm flapping means, although she usually laughs when she does it, so I guess I shouldn’t worry about it). Sometimes, and I’m sure to an outsider by complete accident, she would fling one of the balls in my general direction. I’d roll it back to her, she’d knock it back to me. Hours of fun, at least for dad.
She’s now advanced to the point where she’s a little like a cat. She’ll lay on her stomach and smack at them, causing them to bounce around. Eventually, they fly away crazily and she chases them down. I can’t help but think of Will Ferrell’s cat imitation when she does it.
As soon as she can stay upright, we’ll start working on kicking them towards the goal (fireplace). The next Mia Hamm may very well be groomed in our living room. I just need to make sure I teach her at an early age to keep her shirt on if she scores the winning goal in the World Cup one day.

Now Playing:<strong>Insomnia Radio #26: Warming up for the assault</strong> from the album “Insomnia Radio” by <a href=”http://www.google.com/search?q=%22Insomniaradio@gmail.com%22″>Insomniaradio@gmail.com</a>

 

Hotel Rwanda

We watched this incredibly powerful, moving movie last night. Don Cheadle is truly amazing.

My long-time readers know that I have a certain sensitivity about what happened in Rwanda in the mid-90s. I won’t rehash the rant I’ve shared before, partially because you’ve heard it in the past and also because there is another book about the genocide in my To Read pile. I highly recommend the movie to everyone. It’s disturbing, but without requiring graphic footage of the mass murders to achieve that end.

Watch it and think about when it is and is not appropriate for the world’s only superpower to take action in other countries. When is it necessary to do more than just say we’re concerned (as has been happening again over the past year with Darfur). How many poor citizens of third world nations most Americans have never heard of must be killed before we do something to help them? I believe it says a lot about this country that we always think about sending troops as a first option, and if that isn’t politically feasible, we often end up doing nothing. Can’t a nation as rich, powerful, and industrious as ours find other ways of helping those in need?

(OK, that turned into a bit of a rant. My apologies.)

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