Monday, August 29, 2016

All the way to Boston, all the way to Lynn

My cousin Sarah and I spent a week out in Massachusetts with my parents who are out there serving as missionaries for the Church. Sarah was the best traveling partner and my parents are the greatest. It was the tops. To recap:


I'm going to live in Orchard House. Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women here, from a desk that you can cry over but cannot sit at, which is a dirty trick if you ask me. They're probably (rightly, in my case) worried that someone will snatch her extremely charming inkwell. (You cannot take pictures inside the house, which is another dirty trick.) It's the tiniest of desks, next to a larger desk that she purchased after she got good and rich from her book. Treat yo self, Lou! I bet people called her Lou. I certainly would have. The home was saved from ruin and turned into a museum all the way back in 1912 which means that just about everything in it is original and belonged to the family. Like the Alcott sisters' dress-up clothes they used for their theatrics. I wanted to clutch everything to my bosom and lay down in her bed but they don't allow that sort of behavior. I settled on visiting her grave. She's buried up at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, very near Hawthorne, Emerson, and Thoreau. Do you like cemeteries? I think they're kind of nice.

2. We loved Cape Cod so much that we went there twice. It should be noted that the weather was perfection. Whenever I would tell people that I'd be in Massachusetts in August they'd gasp and say, "The humidity!"  and I don't doubt it but we did not have much. And I am a delicate flower who wilts in just a hint of moisture in the air so you can trust me that it wasn't bad. It was glorious for beach sitting and ice cream eating, of which we did a lot. Particularly at this place called Ice Cream Sandwich in the charming little town of Sandwich when you first cross into the cape. (Look at me, I just called it the cape, like I'm a local who has been eating lobster rolls her whole life. Fact, I ate my first lobster roll on this trip. Can I be honest with you and say that I don't get it. Lobster tastes like all other shell fish. And I think I may prefer shrimp. But this is not about lobster it's about ice cream on the cape.) This ice cream was so good that it was a driving factor of returning a few days later. When you go get the Sandy Neck flavor. It's graham cracker with little chocolate covered honey comb. Holy moly! But avoid Sandy Neck beach a few miles down like it is the plague. Because it may actually be that plague. It costs a fortune to park and it is nothing but a bunch of rocks and flies that bite. And it's on the bay side so the water is colder. Other than that bad decision everything about the Cape was perfect. 

3. Overheard at the Nobska Lighthouse from an 80 year old gentleman: "I used to come to Christmas parties here. The Commandant and I became good friends when we both belonged to the same platform tennis club." I mean, come on! Platform tennis withe Commandant?! What luxury. But when asked when this was he said 10 years ago, which was a disappointment. He talked about it like he had to trudge through the Mists of Time to retrieve the memory. 

We ate the best fish tacos of our lives sitting on the beach near the light house and watching the sun set. Luxury indeed.

4. Ah, the Gilded Age! Newport RI is the birthplace of American Elegant Leisure. The Tennis Hall of Fame is there, for crying out loud. We took a harbor cruise and looked at Jacqueline Kennedy's summer home of her youth and the church she was married in and then we toured Rosecliff, one of the many mansions on display, and I dreamed of descending the elegant staircase that was designed specifically for gliding in tulle. Only my imaginings always ended in me tumbling down, as that is what I usually do on stairs. But a girl can dream.

This is the Lady of the House. Doesn't it make you think of Rebecca? 

What a dump.

The Great Gatsby (Redford addition) was filmed at Rosecliff and from the lawn you can look across the harbor to a stretch of land that is not East Egg , but I still wanted to wait until dark to see if a light was shining from the dock at Daisy Buchanan's house.
5. I found myself getting a little claustrophobic there. There are so many trees! You know how when you drive down the highway here you can see things. Not so in Massachusetts. You see trees. Nothing but tall, tall trees. I remember the first time I was back east I was mesmerized by this and now I think it's just weird. How am I supposed to spot a gas station? Is this my exit? I'll never know because the trees all look the same! I have a very strong sense of direction and it was thrown all akimbo because of those trees. Although the lack of billboards was refreshing. And, let's get real, they're gorgeous. 

6. Other things:

There's a statue of Thoreau at Walden Pond. I promised him that if he let me hang out in his cabin in the woods I wouldn't say a word to him. We could be loners together.

Along with a red coat the British soldiers were issued a fanny pack. I'm not kidding, if they had sold this in the gift shop I would have bought it.

I did not buy the tri-cornered hat but I absolutley should have.

And I should have bought this hat of Elegant Leisure in the gift shop at Rosecliff.

We had planned to canoe down the Concord River but this was our hottest day and we were kind of spent. Which means I'm just going to have to go back.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

How to eat corn on the cob

At the Dodger game the other night a family filed into the row ahead of us somewhere around the 2nd inning. And the mom proceeded to pull out from her bag probably the most unorthodox of ballpark food:

Corn on the cob. 

She must have had 15 pieces in there. And everyone happily munched on it. Except for her. She would take a single kernel and twist it off and eat it. And she did this kernel after kernel, row after row until she was done. I get it, corn on the cob is tricky. But along with all that corn couldn't she have packed some toothpicks? Please tell me that one of you eats it the same way. Because that's just too kooky. And I would love you forever if you were adorably weird like that. She did not watch one minute of the game, she just ate her corn and kept pulling more corn out of her bag and handing it to her children. What a character!

Also at the Dodger game the guy behind us spilled his beer on Susie so he bought us all ice cream. Which I think is the only appropriate thing to do when you spill beer on someone. Beer spills happen at ballgames and it's basically the worst thing ever. And the only thing that could possibly make up for it is ice cream. And, I don't know, a thousand dollars because it's so gross. He was there with an Australian guy whom he met in the Uber pool over to the ballpark. They were both in from out of town and were going alone so they decided to sit together. That's cute, right?

We spent the day in the city since Camille, Sarah, and Pam were all in town. Incidentally, I think I came up with a good general route to take through downtown that hits a lot of high points and delicious food and does not require an outrageous amount of walking. I mean, you're going to get your exercise but it's totally manageable. I'll post it later. 

Once again I tried to meet the mayor. We walked into his office and the police officer at the front said he wasn't there. Guess where he was: Rio, putting in some work to get the Olympics here in 2024.  In general I feel like tax dollars are spent unwisely. But in this case I can't think of a better expenditure. 

There's this cool art installation at Pershing Square. We noticed it on the way to the Biltmore (note: if I take you to the Biltmore be prepared to sneak into the ballroom if the door is locked, which it often is. I say that if they don't want you in their gorgeous ballroom then they should put a lock on the service entrance that is hidden around a corner and behind a wall. If we get caught just say we were looking for a bathroom.)(Where was I? Pershing Square.) So this art installation is a giant kinetic sculpture made of thousands of mylar strips attached to a clear net that stretches across most of the square and it all sways in the wind like kelp in a current.
Photo Cred: Camille. Of course, because it's amazing.

It was so relaxing to sit under it. You should go see it and pretend you're an exotic sea creature.

Finally, as usual, we took them to the cathedral and we happened to run into a docent named Charles, who told us all sorts of interesting things. Like, that they baptize babies by immersion now. Is this for real? Or possible? Although we learned that questioning Charles or saying anything even slightly sassy (which was all the time with this group) would elicit a comedic eye roll and a "Dear Lord, please don't strike down these nice young ladies." He took us down to the mausoleum and showed us something special:

That's Charles pointing to his final resting place! He's going to be cremated and placed in that little box. It's already engraved. It says "Docent 'Just ask.'" Come on! That's the best.

Monday, August 1, 2016

It was only a minor heart attack

Well, we had a bit of a scare last night. Katie and I were sitting in the family room, watching an episode of the Great British Baking Show when a man walked into our home. Just walked right through the front door and into the family room like we we were expecting him. We did not know him and he would not leave.

This actually happened! Just last night! Holy cheese on toast it was so scary. We're fine, we were in no danger - although we did not know that. But it took an entire episode of watching the most charming British home bakers make frangipane tarts and vol-au-vents to calm us down. And also a quick google search to figure out what vol-au-vents are.

When I heard the door open I assumed it was Lindsay, even though we weren't expecting her. But she's the only person who would just walk in. The way the house is situated if you're in the family room you can't see who it is until they're inside the kitchen so it wasn't until the door was closed that I realized it was a man. He walked right into the family room, totally casual, and said hi. So I said, "Get out of my house!" I suppose I could have asked him who he was and what he wanted but friendliness did not cross my mind at the time. And he wasn't leaving. He just kept talking. He would say things like, "Oh, do you you want me to leave? How much are you going to pay me to leave?" and "Are you asking me to leave because I'm Mexican." Are you kidding me?! You're a strange man who just walked into a home that is not yours talking to two women you don't know who are clearly shocked and alarmed that you're there and this is what you say?! It would not have mattered if he were dressed like a priest carrying a puppy, I still would have hit him over the head with a cast iron skillet for strolling into my home. He wasn't threatening in that he didn't pull a gun or make a move that he was going to hurt us but like that matters. He didn't make a move to leave  either- even after we told him to many, many times - until after Katie called 911. That is threatening.

While Katie was on the phone I told him, "We're going to go to the door right now and you're going to leave," and he did. He walked out and on his way out said, "You girls should really keep this door locked."

Yes. Right you are, sir. Tomorrow we'll have steel doors installed.

It was as I was walking him out that I noticed all the cars out front and assumed that our neighbors were having a party and guessed that he had walked into the wrong home. And this was exactly the case. The police came (quickly, I might add. Thanks, Chino PD!) and found him outside and talked with him and our neighbors confirmed that they knew him. And then our neighbors came over and apologized all over themselves. They are the best neighbors and have lived next door for decades. Funny aside: twice in the next half hour the kids at the party kicked a ball over into our yard that they had to come and get and you could just tell from the mom's face that she was dying on the inside. I think I should make them a loaf of no-hard-feelings zucchini bread. They said he was a relative of a relative and that he was a little kooky. Which explains, slightly, why he was acting kind of weird. Except that it doesn't. Because this was clearly not a party and he didn't know us. I mean, yes, watching the Great British Baking Show is my idea of a night well spent, but there wasn't a streamer to be found. 

I wonder if he thinks we overreacted by screaming at him and calling the police. Like I care. He knew he was harmless but we did not and he didn't give us any indication that he was. All he had to say at any time was that he was there for a party, that he knew the neighbors, that he had made a mistake and then we would have nervously laughed and walked him to the door. But he didn't. He acted like he was settling in for a long night. And my only assumption was that we were in danger. All I could think about as he was standing there was how was I going to fight him off. Should I go for his eyes or his knee cap. What item of value could we offer him to get him out. We have the world's smallest TV, would that be enough? What if I threw in the $15 from my wallet? Does he just want to rob us? Rape? Kill? Is he mentally unstable? He doesn't seem mentally unstable. Or drunk. Should I try reasoning with him? What will he do to us? How quickly could I make it to the knife block if he went for Katie.


We're safe. We're fine. We were in no danger. Except for a heart attack.