Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Rather Sad, Rather Uneventful (Except For Death) Staycation - Part One

This is a picture of Paddington Bear looking out of our front window. Why? Why not! You might as well enjoy it. It may end up being the highlight of your visit here today.

Here is what we did on our staycation.

Friday – In order to celebrate our upcoming "Nine Days O’ Fun" (trademark pending) we went out to eat at a local steak house. As might be imagined, we had steak. We then went home and I watched the Red Sox win, 2 – 0, behind the magnificent pitching of Daisuke Matsuzaka. The staycation was off to a good start. The fortunes of the Red Sox, as it turned out, would closely mirror our own throughout. If you followed them in the series against Tampa, then you know this doesn't bode particularly well.

Saturday – I went out and did the grocery shopping. This wasn’t on our list of vacation things to do, but some things just need to be done. After breakfast, we went to the library to return some books. As with the shopping, not on the list, but...

Then we actually used one of the suggestions given us when I asked you for suggestions. We went to the barbershop to watch the old men get haircuts, as suggested by Rich. Actually, I was the old man getting a haircut, and MY WIFE was the one who watched. We did this for a reason (aside from my needing a haircut) but it didn’t turn out as planned.

There are two barbers at this shop. One is the fellow who owns the shop, a really nice guy named Bob. He's about my age and, like me, he played softball until this past season, when he decided to hang up his spikes. Unlike me, he stuck to that plan of action and was happier for having done so. Anyway, we always talk sports when I get a haircut from him and it’s a pleasant enough experience. However, as much as I like Bob, it was my intention to let MY WIFE see the other barber, Jay, in action.

See, MY WIFE is searching for a good reliable stylist for herself, and Jay also does womens hair. I told her about his general demeanor and way of giving styles, and suggested that perhaps Jay might be the one for her. She bristled at the idea of going to a mens barbershop, but I told her that once she saw the care Jay took with the scant hair I had remaining, she’d be convinced that he would handle her hair with delicacy and grace.

When we got there, Jay wasn’t on. He had the day off. This was yet another portent of things to come for the better part of the remaining staycation. I got a nice haircut from Bob, we talked sports, and MY WIFE watched. Not much in it for her, I’m afraid.

We went home and I watched some college football. MY WIFE talked to her sister on the phone. Their aunt was very ill – had been for a while, nothing sudden – and they decided to visit with her. Family members felt that Priscilla (the aunt) might be nearing the end, so a visit was in order and a nice thing to do. While they visited, I made a couple of pies for the block party that was going to take place on Sunday. I made pumpkin and mince.

They returned from their aunt’s place, planning to possibly make a return visit that night. Meanwhile, they decided to go to a local diner to grab a bite to eat. I was invited, and got dressed to go, but while putting on my shoes, I decided that I really wasn’t hungry. That won’t usually stop me from having something tasty to eat, but this time it did. I figured the sisters could use a little more time together, anyway, and I could watch some more football.

That was about it for Saturday, except for the Red Sox losing in extra innings, 9 – 8. As their good luck took a downturn, so did ours.

Sunday – Aunt Priscilla died. We got the call early in the morning. The wake would be on Tuesday, with the Funeral on Wednesday.

Priscilla was a wonderful woman, full of the joy of life. She made friends everywhere she went, and went everywhere she made friends. I didn’t know her as long or as well as MY WIFE, of course, but I don’t ever recall seeing her without a smile, even in the midst of serious illness. I’m getting ahead of things here, but her wake was about the busiest one I’ve ever been to. You know how they have those books to sign when you go into a funeral parlor, to give your name and let the family have a record of who was there to pay respects? Most times, there are at least four or five pages empty at the end, sometimes many more. The entire book got filled at Priscilla’s wake – just a couple of open lines left by the end - and we were seriously discussing whether we’d need to have another one put out, just in case. The woman lived life well and left no regrets behind.

Well, with Priscilla dying, this now meant that a couple of days wherein we might have done other things would be taken up by the wake and the funeral. That’s the way it goes sometimes and no problem, of course. MY WIFE was asked to handle a few of the details since she has a strong background in Catholic liturgy. Over the next couple of days, much of her time would be spent talking to priests, funeral directors, florists, and other folks who make their livings from the deceased among us, making sure that all was nice for Priscilla’s sendoff.

Meanwhile, we had a block party to attend. I asked MY WIFE if she wanted to cancel our appearance there, but she said that she still wanted to attend. As it turned out, it was a lovely day for it. The party itself was a lot of fun. We got to meet some really nice people – we’ve been living on our street for seven years, and we really should have known more of them already – and the food was good, the atmosphere convivial, and it was probably just the thing we needed at that moment.

After the party, more good sports news. I watched the Patriots lose, 30 – 10.

Monday – You’ve already heard about My Breakfast With Yoooooook. That took place on Monday. If you read that, then you know that the Sox lost again. Aside from general funeral planning, and naps, that’s fairly much all of interest that took place on Monday.

– Priscilla’s wake. Sad as these affairs can sometimes be, this one was fairly upbeat. As I said, she lived life to the max. There was much laughter as people recounted good stories about her. MY WIFE ran around getting this detail or that detail straightened out with the funeral people and priests. She was getting slightly frazzled, as was her sister, who also handled many things. After the wake, we ordered some Chinese food – we hadn’t eaten all day – and enjoyed that while watching the Red Sox lose again. MY WIFE’s brother, who came into town for the funeral, arrived from New York at about 11pm, and he had some food with us. This actually sort of fulfilled one of the things we wanted to do during the staycation, which was to have someone over for dinner at our place. We expected it to be slightly more festive, of course, but I like my brother-in-law a lot, so it was OK this way, too.

Odd fortune in my fortune cookie – "When the moment comes, take the first one from the right." You don’t usually get such specific advice. If I end up having a critical choice to make in the near future, I’ll have to remember that.

Wednesday – Funeral. No matter how well a person lived her life, there’s no getting away from the tears at these things. I’m usually pretty good at keeping my emotions in check, until I see someone else crying. At that point, I can’t help but shed a tear or two myself, maybe more. And I absolutely cannot get through the singing of On Eagle’s Wings without choking up. It was one of the songs at my Father’s funeral 14 years ago and seems to have been chosen as music at every funeral of a person significant to me ever since. Get to the part where the song goes, "And He will raise you up..." and I become a blubbering mess.

Everything went well - as I prayed it would, so thanks, God – and then we dropped off MY WIFE’s brother to catch his train back to New York. We went home, had a bit of leftover Chinese, and took well-deserved naps.

Odd sort of a vacation, thus far.

Thursday – We went to the mall today.

Actually, it was a bit more interesting than your run-of-the-mill mall. It was a place called The Natick Collections. We went there to eat hamburgers. We had seen a place called The Met Bar reviewed on The Phantom Gourmet, a local TV food show. They gave it a great review, especially the hamburgers, so we decided that we’d hit it some day and try the grub.

We had a bit of trouble finding the place, and, as a result, we were both a bit less-than-nice to each other. I think we were both off because of the wake, funeral, and general lack of vacation-type things we had done thus far. We got there, and we were OK once we did, but we so rarely argue, it was a distinct bummer.

The burgers, on the other hand, were good. Not anywhere near worth the price, though. Our bill for burgers and fries, with drinks, came to $55 with tip. Granted, MY WIFE’s burger was Kobe Beef, but mine wasn’t. She had wine – I had driven her to drink, apparently – and I had a chocolate frappe (or "shake", as it's called on the Met menu, which - if you're from the Boston area - should be all you need to know about this place. Most of you from other places won't understand that putdown, but don't sweat it.) We could have gotten much the same from a good burger stand and a liquor store for $25 tops - and had wine for later, too. The ambiance was pleasant enough, but not worth the extra $30. We expected the toll to be high, though, so we weren’t shocked out of our shoes.

We strolled through some other parts of the mall, going into a couple of chichi shops. At Nordstrom’s (a proud Thanksgiving Comes First participant, by the way) MY WIFE had a bra fitting, which just thinking about how such a thing is accomplished makes it harder for me to walk. While she was having her boobs measured, I flipped through a handy lingerie catalogue that would have qualified as soft porn had it been available behind the counter at 7-11. It was not a totally unpleasant way to spend 20 minutes of my life.

We bought upscale desserts from an overpriced dessert shop and took them home for consumption later on, perhaps as solace for when the Red Sox get eliminated by Tampa Bay tonight. Not that I’ve given up or anything...

Friday, Just After Midnight – And the Red Sox pulled off the most amazing comeback in playoff history, overcoming a 7 – 0 deficit, in the 7th inning, to win 8 – 7. Very nice. They now get to go back to Tampa for at least one more game. Yay! Life is getting better, just in time for the final three days of our vacation.

Friday Morning – We went to an excellent deli in Brookline called Zaftig’s, a funky place with good food. This completed the "Z" category under "Restaurant Names" for our "Breakfast Club" - as referenced in the "Yoooooook" story - and this sentence may have set some sort of record for completely unnecessary quotation marks, but that's alright. I'm on vacation, so I don't see why I sweat should things as such punctuation or grammar.

MY WIFE got French toast stuffed with bananas, a side of turkey sausage, and coffee. I got the corned beef hash, scrambled eggs, marble rye toast, home fries, coffee, and some fruit (which comes with the hash, oddly enough – strawberries and watermelon.) It was very tasty, very filling, and a very nice way to start the day.

After breakfast, we parted. She wanted to go have her nails done and do some other stuff in downtown Boston. I didn't, so I drove home and picked up a newspaper along the way. Now I’m going to enjoy a little peace and quiet, have a cup of good coffee, and read the paper – something I don’t normally do unless I’m on vacation or otherwise have a lot of time.

Friday Afternoon & Evening - More naps, some writing, watched a Deep Purple concert DVD, and generally chilled out. Two days to go and we're just now getting to the point where it feels like an actual vacation.


Tomorrow: I'll tell you about Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was the only day wherein we took any photographs of stuff we did, so perhaps that's a little something to look forward to - or, considering my horrid ineptitude as a photographer, anticipate with dread. Your guess is as good as mine, actually, as I haven't even looked at the photos yet myself. Odds are they'll be pitiful.

See you then!


Karen said...

Sorry about your WIFE's aunt, but these things do happen.

Love, love, love your blog! I find myself laughing out loud as I read it, especially the part about the bra-fitting. HA!

Anonymous said...

Hello Suldog, seems like everything didn't go exactly as planned. How sad about THE WIFE'S aunt, and having a wake and funeral. But she had a good long life filled with a great many people who loved her.

As usual you managed to give us a funny post and like Karen I found the Bra. bit especially funny.
Let's hope the 'team' pull it out of the hat and make your day, or season or year.

Janet said...

I was a bit startled at the title and was almost afraid to read the rest. I did, of course, but peeking through my fingers.
I'm sorry about Priscilla, but it sounds like she had a great life, and she probably isn't a bit sorry to not be ill anymore.
The bra fitting was the most frightening part. The only time I had that done was for a nursing bra, and the poor woman whose shop I was in was a very lonely lady whose husband had just left her and she felt the need to confide every sordid detail.

SandraRee said...

What a post Suldog. So sorry about your wife's aunt. Really enjoyed yesterday's post. :)

Angie Ledbetter said...

Life, death, celebrating with friends on the block, a little dis, a little dat...your staycation sounds like a mirroring of life in general.

GreenJello said...

I think my hubby would have the same walking problem as you when considering bra fittings... LOL!

Jeni said...

My condolences to you and your wife with the passing of her aunt. But, on the plus side, it does sound like she must have lived her life exactly as you described it to have had that many visitors at the wake. That does say a lot about a person, doesn't it?

On a sports note, just thought maybe you might be interested in checking out another blog. This one is written by the fiance of one of my daughter's former roommates (as well as that the young lady is also my son's former girlfriend too from high school.) Anyway, Paul's blog is dedicated primarily to baseball. Check it out and see what you think.


Velvet Ginger said...

My heart felt condolences to you, your wife and family, it's always hard to lose a loved one, no matter what age. your block party looks like a success! So are you going to have another stay-cation or are you gonna step it up a notch! lol
I sure like Paddington!

Buck said...

My condolences to YOUR WIFE and family, Jim. But... as you and the other commenters have noted, she lived a good, full life. Would that we all could be so fortunate.

I liked the block party photo. As with a lot of things you post, that photo brought back memories of block-parties-past in Former Happy Days. There ain't nuthin' like a tight, friendly neighborhood!

Unknown said...

So very sorry to hear of Priscilla's passing but it definitely sounds like she touched so many lives in such a positive way that remembering her will always be a happy time for both you and your WIFE.

All the talk about good food makes me hungry but I am making a mental note to be prepared for the prices if ever eating at The Met Bar, yowza!

fuzzbert_1999@yahoo.com said...

It's not where you go, it's who you are with, what you share, what you ate, and how you felt doing it.

You can go somewhere and feel lousy!

Even the funeral is part of "real life".

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the loss of Aunt Priscilla, she sound an amazing lady.

Seems that your vacation took some odd turns there, but had a few good parts. Hey - you can go anywhere in the world and have that happen! We flew over to the West Coast of the US earlier this year and I caught a pneumonia bug! Still managed to enjoy it though. ;)

I understand the chocolate frappe/shake distinction - and it's amusing how different words mean different things in different regions, isn't it?

lime said...

very sorry to hear about aunt priscilla. my condolences to your wife and you. glad to hear there was such a celebration of her LIFE though.

certainly not how you may have liked to spend your staycation but since your wife was called upon to attend to so many details i guess it's good that you two decided to stay close to home.

zaftig's huh? next time i visit my cousin in brookline i may have to ask to check that place out. i never heard those things called "frappes" either until i visited boston. truthfully, it was a little different from a "shake" anyway, but in a good way. whatever it was it sure was a yummy thing!

Hilary said...

I'm sorry for the loss of Priscilla.

That burger place sounds like one to avoid. But block parties can be a blast. We have one every summer.

Looking forward to seeing those pics and reading more. :)

Michelle H. said...

You have my condolences for Priscilla. Your life is a very eventful one indeed, even on staycation! I'm eagerly awaiting for the next post.

Judi FitzPatrick said...

Always a fun read in this column. My condolences for the loss of Priscilla, she sounds like quite a neat person.
Peace, Judi

Ericka said...

sorry for your family's loss, but i'm glad your staycation went fairly well.

and since you're on vacation, you shouldn't have to sweat the small stuff, aka stupid cameras and their ongoing plots to drive us nuts.

Neponset River Bridge Dig said...

Glad you took my advice on the Baber shop thing, even if you were the old man. Your wife still loves you anyway.

sorry about the aunt.

Anonymous said...

The part about your WIFE being driven to drink had me laughing out loud.

Sorry to hear you all lost Priscilla! That song is one that gets me too.

Seems staycation or vacation there are always things not expected. At least you have maintained your humor!

Cath said...

I read half of this the other day and forgot to come back and finish it. Must be a dementia or something...

Sorry about your wife's aunt. Sorrier about your row - that sucks on vacation. But glad you got a team that pulled back from annihilation and enjoyed the rest of the week.

On to the next installment now...

Anonymous said...

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I would really appreciate if someone could reply and help me find a place because I we all know we want our wedding to be perfect.