Way, way back, before there was an internet or any technology really, there were kids, and a postal service, and Disney, and life was good. Not great because the world was still black and white, but it was still pretty good.
Young Meghan wanted the Disney to become one with the kids, so she used the nascent postal service, with their pony expresses, clipper ships, and smoke signals, to ask Disney to come to her school. To their credit they did reply via the same route, but alas they lacked the technology to be in multiple places at once and declined her gracious invitation.
I uncovered this letter, framed, while we were cleaning our room. (Yes, even adults who were once children must clean their room from time to time.) Meghan refused to keep it, so I have scanned it for posterity and posted it to the internet for eternity.
I got a text from my sister-in-law on a Thursday: would you like a pair of tickets to see Blue Man Group this Sunday? Something came up and we can’t use them.
Always quick on my feet, I got back to her over an hour later, asking her where (even though there’s only one place in the area).
Both girls declined repeated offers to go with me. Apparently I smell bad or something, but opportunity only knocks once. At least Meghan was willing to go, but only after I promised to keep to the speed limit this time.*
The show was hilarious and high-energy. It does appear to evolve over time, as it’s not the same show that we saw last time – except for the general tenor it was basically a new show to me. If you too haven’t seen it in twenty years, go again.
*this is a short story: before Meghan and I were married we went to see Blue Man Group with Kennon and Katie. While cruising down the Massachusetts Turnpike I was pulled over for “speeding and weaving.” I disputed the ticket because I honestly don’t think I was speeding when the cop saw me (I now freely admit to having been speeding earlier) and the weaving charge was just plain stupid. I was half successful.
Alpha and Beta put together a Halloween party with over a dozen on their friends. We’re not typically party people, but we do enjoy the chance to have people over. I especially like it because it means I get a clean house. 🙂
We had a great time planning for, shopping for, and decorating for the party. (Really. The house looks great.) Beta enjoys decorating, planning, and being surrounded by large groups; I don’t know how she came to exist in a family full of introverts.
Meghan and I tend to take a particular approach to events: plan very little and let things come together naturally. The kids were happy to follow our lead.
One little personal detail: this party happened to coincide with our anniversary. It couldn’t happen any other day, unfortunately: Halloween is mid-week; we had a birthday party to attend on Sunday; and Halloween parties after Halloween are just no fun.
Fast-forward to the appointed day, and a nor’easter bore down on us from the early morning onwards. This wasn’t such a bad thing: I had wanted to keep the fireplace lit for the duration of the party and cold, bad weather is very amenable to that. Meghan made a (gluten-free) cake that made the house smell fantastic. Beta and I rearranged the seats into one long couch, plus another smaller love seat back-to-back with the big one.
Guest started arriving promptly at one, and very quickly we had a dozen teenagers, not related to us and all dressed in costumes, in the living room of our house. For some reason they all packed into the living room and refused to spread into the kitchen, dining room, or even the front room. The decibels rose and Meghan and I retreated, occasionally checking on the kids, the fire, and the food.
The first movie of the day was Young Frankenstein, chosen through first-past-the-post voting. (I believe it had two votes, which was one more vote than any other option.)
Around 4 pm, as the first movie was wrapping up, I headed out to pick up pizza and more soda. I came back to a relatively quiet room watching the Blair Witch Project. You kind of have to pay attention to the movie to get the full effect, but I there was also an air of the forbidden – that movie has a reputation.
As people finished up pizza, the movie was just finishing the setup and was about to get scary, the power went out. Whoops! We checked with neighbors to make sure it wasn’t just us, checked the power company to see if they knew yet, and lit candles and lamps. The kids took all this in stride and got busy socializing. I was honestly impressed how they acted — sociable and comfortable, even though many had never been to our house before.
Power was restored in about an hour, and the movie resumed. The end of the movie led to discussion of what the hell happened, because not everyone had paid attention in the beginning.
Unbeknownst to us during the week, Beta had been telling people that the party was planned to go until 10 pm. The first kids dropped out shortly after pizza, and most kids had left by 8:30 or so, but a couple stayed for the duration and were picked up right at 10 o’clock.
All in all, it seemed like everyone had a lot of fun. Even at the end, with three kids left, everybody was in a good mood.
Lessons learned: Megh and I now know to double-check what the plan’s details are before it’s announced, and Beta knows that a) 10 pm is just too late and b) nine hours is just too long. (She was exhausted, we all were, and I think she was glad to wrap up.)
Biggest lessons of all, though: Megh and I still know how to throw a good party, and Alpha and Beta saw how to make it come together by being a part of it and seeing how it’s done from the inside.
Sitting around the dinner table, Meghan shared a work story about hearing her name as she passed, only nobody said her name. The math teacher across the hall said, “bar graph.”
I also mis-heard it, at first, as “bargra.” I’m trying to get it to stick as her new name.
A minute later, Beta is sticking something between her toes while we’re talking and Meghan blurts out “Stop that! Now it’s all covered in toe groods!” (Nobody knows what that means or what she was trying to express, not even Meghan.)
And then we realized that Meghan accidentally revealed her orc-name: Bargra Togroods.
This is a great side for pretty much any meat dish, especially on a cool fall day. The smaller, skin-on potatoes are tasty and not nearly as bad for you as a full-size, peeled and boiled starch-bomb white potato.
3 pounds of small red, white, and/or purple potatoes
Lots of supermarkets carry 2- and 3-pound bags of mixed, pre-washed small potatoes, which is really handy if you want more colors
6 cloves of fresh garlic, crushed
A couple of shakes of black pepper
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of minced fresh parsley (optional)
Preheat your oven to 400° F
Halve and/or quarter your potatoes; chunks should be roughly between 1 and 3 cubic inches
Toss the chunks into a freezer bag with the remaining ingredients, adding enough olive oil to coat the potatoes, then mix in the bag
Spread the potatoes into a single layer on a pan or baking stone
Bake for an hour, flipping everything over at least once to keep things from scorching
Another change of venue this year: Wellfleet, MA. We seem to be creeping further up the Cape every year.
Day 0: Driving and Arriving
We left the house around mid-afternoon, planning to arrive fashionably late. Our intention worked as planned; we rolled into town around 6 pm and got busy making a pasta-and-meatball dinner for everyone.
After a short dinner, we took everyone to the closest beach to let the little ones burn off some energy. The Fox family had been on the road since morning, and rolled in around 7pm; the kids were exploding with pent up energy and excitement.
Mayo Beach @ Sunset, Wellfleet MA
Day 1: Rain!
Meghan and I woke up on our usual schedule, 6am. (This continued for the duration of the week.) The weather was forecast to be poor, and it proved true for most, but not all, of the day.
We headed out to a full-size super market in search of a coffee maker (the house’s was AWOL) and groceries for dinner. I prefer to spend a little extra money rather than pack the car with perishables.
After breakfast, the weather cleared enough that almost everyone headed to the beach — I stayed home and napped to catch up on a week of poor sleep, and missed seeing a Great White shark off Marconi Beach.
Dinner turned out to be an unpleasant adventure: we had picked up a pair of roasting chickens that morning, but after unsealing the packages we discovered that the fowl had gone very foul. Tim and Kelly started cranking out their dinner planned for the following night, and Meghan and I dashed back to the store to get our money back.
After dinner and the little kids had gone to bed, we sat down to play Cards Against Humanity —with Alpha and Beta. It was a night that they will not soon forget… nor will I.
Day 2: Chatham
I woke up early to a beautiful day and took a bike ride around the perimeter of Wellfleet. The ocean side of the cape was still socked in with fog, but the land and western side were clear.
The fog bank on the ocean side stopped abruptly at the edge of the water.
After breakfast we took a ride down to Chatham for some shopping and lunch.
Top Shark: Artist Mary Dunn Cauley, Middle Shark: Pati DuVall, Bottom Shark: Dennis Predovic
We introduced the Fox kids to Ponyo. Tim and Kelly don’t seem to be big on anime, but the kids were fascinated. (Sorry, guys!)
A documentary of Ted Williams premiered on PBS that night, which was important to Joan, so we cleared the deck, got the kids in bed, and watched with her.
Day 3: Marconi
We chose to go hiking around the Marconi Wireless Station on Tuesday.
Quinn and Beta looking out over the sea.
Listening to the Navy Band at the Old Salt Pond Visitor’s Center at the National Sea Shore.
Day 4: Biking and A Guest
Meghan and tried out the Cape Cod Rail Trail, which has a trail head in Wellfleet. Our goal when we started was Marconi Beach, but the ride was so easy we kept going and made it to Orleans before turning around.
Kappa sleeping on the couch, take 1. He refused to sleep in his own bed until we bought child-proof door handle covers. We found him like this on Tuesday morning.
While we were gone, the Foxes hit Mayo Beach in Wellfleet. When Meghan and I got back we headed to the beach with the girls as the Foxes were leaving. We stayed about an hour and a half, and came away with minor sunburns, but the water was warm and the swimming was easy.
We hosted a friend of Joan’s who lives on the Cape, and her young daughter, for dinner.
On this night an issue withe the youngest of the Fox clan, Kappa, not going to bed at bedtime became particularly troublesome. We pledged to find doorknob covers the next day so that he would have to stay in his room at night, even if he wasn’t going to go to bed.
Day 5: P-Town
After a very slow start to the day, we headed to Provincetown with Joan while the Foxes went back to the beach.
We started at the far eastern end of the main drag and worked our way westward. People watching in P-Town is always an adventure. The girls are still young enough to not really notice how bizarre the crowd is and have more fun shopping.
Day 6: Cape Code Lighthouse and Pilgrim Monument
Meghan, Alpha, and I spent the day being tourists.
We checked out the Cape Cod Lighthouse, where Meghan went up –and down– the spiral staircase of the lighthouse.
Quinn climbing up onto the light platform of the Cape Cod/Highland’s Lighthouse.
Quinn and Megh at the Cape Cod/Highland Lighthouse 7/27/2018
We then went to the Pilgrim museum and tower in Provincetown. I, however, was the only one to climb the tower.
View up the Pilgrim Monument
View from inside the Pilgrim Monument, Provincetown, MA.
I was curious about how good a picture from this distance would come out. Very surprised everything is as sharp, considering the haze!
The view of Provincetown Light from the top of the Pilgrim Monument tower
After dinner at home, the adults stayed up to watch Jaws with the RiffTrax overlay.
Day 7: Leaving
We were supposed to vacate the house by 9 am. We missed the time by less than five minutes (WE were ready, but the Foxes have a small army to move.)
We ate an excellent breakfast at Laura & Tony’s kitchen, and hit the road for home. Others in the party were hitting the beach one last time, but we were all ready to be home.
Mom hanging out, waiting for breakfast 7/28/2018
Cousins on the Group Shark Bench. Chatham
Will they swim or won’t they. Marconi Beach at the Cape Cod National Seashore.
We’re off to the Cape! 7/21/2018
A view of the fog over the ocean from the top of the Nauset Light House.
Quinn and Megh climbed this amazing lighthouse. The view from the top was breathtaking
Delta and Kappa when we woke up. Kappa had been on the couch all night, apparently. This was escape # 2.
We made an impromptu trip to Maine with our friends Sam and Joanne.
There’s a back-story: we were supposed to be camping this week with Sam and Joanne (and others) but a conflict with school forced some to cancel, and eventually everyone canceled. Since we all had the time off already scheduled I had the idea for a quick road trip with S&J. Meghan made the arrangements when they bought in, so game on.
Found this very stereotypical Maine view while biking on Friday morning
Day 1: Foul Weather, Destination Southport
We left home on Thursday. S&J had the longer drive, but our house was on the way so we met up here and caravaned the rest of the way together.
A bundle of rain followed them from Connecticut, and would continue to follow us all the rest of the way.
Meghan and I neglected to pack until they arrived, as we were running around all morning doing chores, so they got in a short, much-needed break from driving in the rain.
We rolled into the Ocean Gate hotel around 5 pm. We had rented three rooms: one for S&J and their son; one for Alpha and Beta; and one for Meghan, me, and Butter-the-dog. We were spread across different buildings in the resort, but the girls were close to S&J so that was ok.
Our room, unlike the others, had a full kitchen — indeed, that was one of the selling points for us. It was billed as “not having a view” but that was a lie: the view was, in fact, beautiful.
Sunrise on Saturday morning. I didn’t mean to wake up at 5 am, but I’m glad I did since I got to see this.
We went out to dinner at a tiny-but-tony restaurant called Oliver’s at Cozy Harbor. The food was excellent, btw. Joanne went high-end and got a “lobstertini,” lobster meat served in a martini glass, but most everyone else went basic with burgers or fish-and-chips.
Sitting down to dinner at Oliver’s. Everyone was tired. and nobody but the server saw me taking the picture, which is why everyone looks bored
We did check out some of the “traditional” Maine sight-seeing, which is to say we took pictures of the fog:
The very foggy view from Oliver’s [click to expand]
Day 2: Swimming, Shopping, Dinner at Home
Sam and I started Friday off with a bang: we went biking. The kids started off with fun: they went swimming in the pool. Meghan and Joanne started off with style: they took a dip in the hot tub.
After everyone felt ready to start their day, we packed into the cars and took a short ride to Boothbay Harbor. It was hot so we had an ice cream lunch. The girls shopped, while I took Butter on a walk up and down the main drag. She’s truly an adorable dog and we stopped to talk to several people that wanted to “say hi” to her.
Sam braved rumbles of thunder to discover that a nearby island is not, in fact, an island.
We all took a siesta in the late afternoon back at the hotel, except for Sam who ignored the impending thunderstorm and went kayaking.
After a brief downpour and a bit of lightning, we got going on our planned “traditional get together” dinner: spaghetti and sauce. This is why the in-room kitchen was important, you see.
For years, when we lived near each other, we would gather at one house or the other and feed everyone with a simple pasta, meat sauce, and garlic bread dinner. From time to time we do it even now, but the drive is much longer.
I made the pasta, Sam made the garlic bread, and the kids watched TV. This was about as traditional as you can get without being home.
After dinner I washed up while everyone else played a game at the table until bedtime.
Day 3: Freeport and Home
Our stay was intentionally short because we were trying a too-good-to-be-true hotel and everything came together last-minute. Much too short.
After a big breakfast we packed up and rolled out, destination: Freeport. Sam had only passed through Maine before, never stopping, and Joanne has never been at all. Both wanted to see the main L.L. Bean store in Freeport. Meghan is always game to go there. I walked around with Butter while everyone wandered inside the store for an hour because I just can’t even. We also made time for the Ben and Jerry’s store, of course.
We made our final leg home, where S&J paid us a final visit before making their way home as well.