Sunday, September 18, 2011


Morris chair reflections on yesterday: Zach is a graceful driver, easy on the passengers, gliding into turns and without any of the quick starts and stops new drivers usually exhibit. Recalling all the Nashua to Newport rides with the kids it looks like Ed has passed along some of my driving philosophy. There were a couple of first experiences for me; playing with a backhoe (I think the male brain was designed to find pleasure in moving dirt) and piloting (more holding the wheel but it was great) a cruiser across Narragansett Bay. I walked down to the pond to sit on the bench for a bit and as soon as the flock saw me coming they gathered around quacking and squawking making pests of themselves. They must have thought I was heading to the food bins (wrong) and even though the roosters are gorgeous (as birds go) I ignored them and knew how it felt to be a god (or at least a wizard). Gotta go. The sight of a grandchild wandering into the room, sleep yielding to anticipation, never gets old. Last night it was Jami's "turn" to stay over, and she's going to make the most of every minute. I'll gladly give up my quiet time for a little snuggle time.

Sunday - September 18, 2011 - Tiverton, Rhode Island

Sunday - a day of rest? Hardly. Three more "farmers" tumbled into our happy abode. A quick survey indicated that nothing would satisfy their morning hunger like pastries from Provender, the renowned Four-Corners bakery and eatery. According to The Voices, they make the best cinnamon buns in the WORLD. How could we say no to that? I was elected to drive down and must say a little surprised, but not disappointed, that only one child wanted to accompany me - Alyssa (Kathy has a magnetic draw, but I refused to go by myself). With my new MP3 player plugged into the car audio center we listened to what I consider to be the most satisfying operatic aria in the WORLD, Caro Nome from Rigoletto, performed by Beverly Sills. It was hard to tell if Alyssa was impressed.

I, however, was impressed with the cinnamon buns. Freshly baked, still warm from the oven, and slathered with carb-rich frosting, if not the best in the world, they come close. As temporary stewards of these children we insisted that the pastries be eaten with protein-rich, next-door laid farm fresh eggs (Kristin ensures there is a bowlful in the refrigerator each day) a decision that did not go over all that well with a couple of the kids. Thus ensued an interesting discussion about the way scrambled eggs should be cooked, and I opined that perhaps they didn't care for eggs because of the way they were prepared. Kathy supported this with "I don't even like eggs, but I like how Vôvo makes them." That was all it took. I made them the way I usually do, with a little cream, into a hot buttered pan, shaken, removed from the heat and folded until they were fluffy (similar to how Julia Child made omelets). I had to make two batches and at the end of breakfast every plate was clean.

We could hardly wait to see Lisa, Emily and Danny, so while I showered and made myself pretty Kathy and the kiddies commandeered my journal and left some nuggets for me to read later. I note some of them here:

Words Vôvo taught us today: (I'm particularly proud of these)

Jami - mundane
Meg & Alyssa & Jami - flatulent
Meg & Jami - sous-chef

Alyssa had a short opera lesson on the way to "Provender" to pick up humongous, giganto, huge, big, large, immense, ginormous, delicious, awesome, extraordinary, boss, unique, cool cinnamon buns, croissants, raspberry danish and a blueberry muffin.

Vôvo made eggs twice with Megan as sous-chef and Jonathan has decided that he likes "undercooked eggs."

I'll have to leave my journal unattended more often.

Alyssa and Jami asked if they could accompany us to visit Auntie Lisa and their cousin Danny. Megan and Jonathan had some things they simply had to do. I checked with Lisa (sure, the more the merrier) and off we went. The drive, which can be brutal (have I complained enough about this yet? All Rhode Islanders do, because they can think of no plausible reason anyone would leave heaven to go to Cape Cod.), seemed short as we played linguistic gymnastics on the way. They knew the license plate letter game, but had never played the "I'm going on a trip and taking ... " game where each player in turn has to name all the items the other players are taking then add his or her item to end of the list in alphabetical sequence. I think we finally found something we can beat them at. Victory!

Lisa is amazing. There is no other word I can use to describe her. Besides being beautiful, she is upbeat, unfazed by adversity (more in a minute), a visiting nurse assistant providing angelic care to the infirm, a whirlwind of directed energy, and a lot of fun to be around.

Her good nature would be tested immediately upon our arrival. We came bounding up the stairs right into the middle of what I would consider a minor crisis. Never-mind that the ferrets (Emily's) looked hungry, Emily herself was grimacing, lisping, and mumbling (due to the hole and spike that was now in her tongue) just able to manage a closed mouthed smile for Kathy's painting of a stylized dachshund, Danny (exuberant as ever) had just returned home thrilled to see the new arrivals, and the family dog (now in old age) was acting his age. The most immediate problem was the heating lamp in the snake's cage. It had just this moment burned out, and because snakes are cold blooded a solution had to be found quickly. No slight feat for a Sunday in a small Cape Cod town.

Superwoman took over. In short order a friend was on the way with a replacement bulb, Danny was showing me how to play a sophisticated transformer game on the computer, the ferrets were fed, Emily was pampered a little, the dog was on the porch enjoying some time in the sun, and Lisa, Kathy and the girls were figuring out what to do about dinner. Lisa offered (and was prepared) to cook one of her fabulous meals for us but was overruled. She deserved some kind of respite and The Booster Bar & Grill was going to provide at least part of it. While Alyssa, Kathy, and Emily went to pick up the food, Lisa ministered to the snake, the dog and the rest of us.

Just as the food arrived, the new heat lamp was mercy lifted in by Lisa's friend, David, the snake saoshyant. With the lamp installed and the snake looking better by the minute, we convinced David to share dinner with us. The food (and wine) was very good, the Patriots were beating the San Diego Chargers (soundly), and Emily was somehow managing to masticate her food with limited observable discomfort. I could watch the Pats but not Em.

With dessert we decided to resurrect the alphabet tag game we had played in the car (something I figured I could easily win). To everyone's amazement all 8 of us were able to recite the 26 items we were taking on our trip to Africa. To wit: I'm going to Africa and I'm taking: an antelope, balloon, candle, didgeridoo, esophagus, fiddle sticks, giraffe, hedgehog, igloo, Jami, kumquat, Lincoln logs, muscle, neanderthal, octopus, pencil, quote, rainbow, sushi, thumb, uvula, viceroy, wishbone, x-ray, yak, and a zebra. Each person got one mulligan, and that's all anyone needed. The ages ranged from 7 (Danny) to Vôvo (64) so that is a pretty remarkable performance. We laughed and congratulated each person as they completed their recitation.

It was half past dark when we finished the game, so with great reluctance we packed up our two kids and bid everyone goodnight. Losing track of time was probably a good thing on a Sunday night as we encountered minimal traffic on the way back to Little Compton. The girls decided there was really no good reason why they should go to school the next day, but their parents saw that differently. We dropped off Jami and Alyssa and picked up Megan and Jonathan to take back to the schoolhouse. It is such a treat talking to the grandkids. As I mentioned on page 1 of this trip, Megan is so accommodating, just rolling along, seldom creating a stir. She told us that according to a discussion at school, middle children are like that, preferring to stay in the background and letting the end children garner the attention (and sometimes the scrutiny). This resonated with us - both Kathy and I are "middlers" and grew up with a similar perspective. Interesting. Before we knew it the clock was striking 10:30, and it was a school night (I know - too late). As we tucked them into bed we realized that the time apart had to be shortened and committed to do better this coming year. I don't know how many more alphabet tag games we have left in us.

(Ed. One major regret is that I didn't take more pictures while in Mashpee. The only one I took of Lisa shows her in the background taking care of something for someone else. That's Lisa. So I plucked a picture from her Facebook page and here it is. We love you, honey. Thanks for everything.)

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