Saturday, July 21, 2012

Vacation, Had to Get Away

[Before I begin, let me commend those people who noticed in the last blog how Daughter was now Alice. You are far more observant than I am, because I didn't notice that before I clicked "Publish." On the other hand, I've been meaning to sync the books and the blog for a while and maybe this was my subconscious way of getting around to it. Hereafter, Daughter is Alice, which is no more her name than Daughter is. It is her nom de livre. Or nom de blog, as the case may be. Consort will remain Consort, because it pleases me to do so.]

Hi, I'm back! I mean, literally back. The family and I took a trip to the east coast for fifteen days. We had two days in Westchester county with Consort's family for July 4th festivities; six days in New York City; three days at a lakefront cabin in Connecticut and two days outside of Boston; with two days for travelling and semi-professional shoe-removal and personal-space invading included for padding.

We had an unqualified blast. Consort's family is of Italian ancestry, which means I now understand that a nine foot-long table crammed with food is, in fact, just the appetizers. The night of the 4th, there was pouring rain, thunder, lighting, marginally-legal fireworks being set off by the kids in the house across the street and Consort's cousin, the retired detective, playing patriotic songs on his bagpipes. The finest bagpipe player in New York - the man who played at the funerals of scores of firefighters and officers after 9/11- is 100% Italian-American, born in the Bronx. I listened to the music, barely hearing it over the storm and the fireworks, as I chewed on the sixth course of the second meal of the afternoon. If our trip had stopped there, it would have qualified as a perfect vacation.

Then we landed in New York City, pet-sitting for a friend whose apartment overlooks the Hudson River. When I say "overlooks," I don't mean the usual New York real estate agent version of overlooks, which means "If you squeeze your body through the vent over the shower and cling to the outside wall like a gecko and extend a make-up mirror to the corner, on the right day you can see a bit of the river between the buildings." I mean this...

And this was the inside...
We had gotten the Brigadoon of house-sitting: a spacious, gorgeous, air-conditioned Manhattan apartment complete with the most perfect accessories ever.

May I present the accessories. Bruiser, in my laundry bag:

 And this is Edna, taking over the bottom third of the bed and encouraging me to sleep in a position which resembled a boiled shrimp.


It was a perfect NYC trip with wonderful adventures and wonderful people (and perfect cats) but it will be a long time before I wax rhapsodic about the weather. It hovered near a hundred degrees most of the time. We took subways everywhere, both to save time and money and to keep the kid from romanticizing the city too much. The hottest day, we took a subway from Washington Heights to Brooklyn, which should have been a long, air-conditioned respite were it not for the fact that the trains are air-conditioned but the stations are not and the stop before ours was apparently Neptune. The F train took an hour to arrive. The platform was about a hundred and ten degrees but it was a dry, wait.  It was like standing in a damp towel. An oppressively warm, damp, urine-scented towel. On the Staten Island ferry, we heard someone standing behind us loudly admit to a murder but, as she carefully pointed out several times, "Bitch shouldn't have been (sexually congressing) my man."

Yes, I believe that exception was noted in the Supreme Court case Doe v. Ho.

On Candlewood Lake, Alice got to drive a speedboat. She showed a certain aptitude. She noted this to us several times and suggested this meant she could probably drive the car. We all got to kayak. I showed a certain aptitude for going purposefully in all random directions except for the direction I wanted to go. A swan picked a fight with our host's boat, which is exactly the sort of behavior I associate with swans. I sprayed everyone with sunblock, constantly. When I wasn't spraying them with sunblock, I was suggesting a quick yet thorough tick-check. Deer ticks are what an obsessive pessimist would dream up while dozing in the subway station waiting for the Brooklyn train to arrive; they are smaller than freckles, easily missed, hide in hairlines, and cause a disease with all sorts of nebulous symptoms which can be misdiagnosed for months and can lead to permanent neurological damage. But what about the iconic bullseye mark, the one Lyme disease sufferers get and lets the world know you need three weeks of antibiotics, you might ask? Turns out, about 20% of victims never get that. You could be getting sick right now and you might never know. Fixate on that sitting by the pier for a while and I promise you that you'll feel someone very small striding aimlessly up your calf, or in your eyebrow, or spelunking in your armpit. 

Virtually no one was excited about my idea of putting away the kayaks and settling in for an afternoon with a magnifying glass, a powerful flashlight and a tweezers. It saddens me when my family tosses away bonding experiences so recklessly.

Next time: I wind this up and get us home. It's less orderly than it sounds.


Blogger Heather said...

My first job, secured when I was but a senior in high school, was working for a production company in Manhattan. I was told by my boss that I would have an office with a window. Oh, the excitement! That is, until I realized that the view from said window was the wall of the next building, approximately 18 inches from mine, and that the shaft between these two buildings was just a place for pigeons to fly into and die loud, agonizing deaths. We were on the 8th floor but that wasn't high enough to get any daylight down at our depth of the shaft. I kept the shade pulled (as countless tenants before me had, I'm sure) because it felt a lot like working in a mine, except with the loudly dying pigeons instead of canaries.

Glad you had a good trip, potential deer ticks notwithstanding. We just returned from a family walk (with our canine houseguest) through an area park with lovely forests and plant-filled meadows. I was preparing my tick check strategy before we'd even gotten back to the car. *shudder* So, I completely hear you on that count.

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Marni said...

Welcome home, you were missed around here- can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip. Amazing NY apt! Thanks for all the laughs too!

BTW- is your picture new? Very nice!

11:07 PM  
Anonymous Melodee said...

Sounds delightful. Well, except for the part about ticks and the hot damp towel-like weather. Having moved to San Diego, I can't understand why anyone would ever live anywhere but here.

12:58 AM  
Blogger Chris said...


I saw this today and IMMEDIATELY thought of you.

Toastaholics, unite!

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Robin Raven said...

I'm catching up on all my favorite things online, and your blog is one of my faves for sure. What a great entry. I loved the pics of Bruiser and Edna, too. :) Thanks for sharing. I can't wait to read what happens next.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Twisted Susan said...

I'm a sucker for bagpipes.

7:41 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

LOL at "Consort's family is of Italian ancestry, which means I now understand that a nine foot-long table crammed with food is, in fact, just the appetizers."

Well, I'm glad you got that cleared up. The key to eating at an Italian's house is to pace yourself. Admittedly, this is not an easy task. But it must be done if one is to avoid an unpleasant outcome like rolling around on the floor holding one's stomach and moaning in pain (as one of my guest's did) or locking oneself in the bathroom for half an hour (as another guest did). Both of these reactions occurred in response to my annual "Feast of the Seven Fishes," which, as the name might imply, is a multi-course meal featuring--you guessed it--at least seven different kids of fish prepared in different wasy. Does Consort's family participate? If so, book your ticket now! :)

8:25 AM  

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