Monday, July 20, 2009

A Weekend In Town

We spent the weekend in town.

Saturday began in a strange manner.

Andrew and I, for once, did not wake up with the dog standing on us and licking us at 5:30 a.m., demanding to be taken to the park. He had been over at Alec and Lizbeth’s house since Friday, as we had had plans for Friday afternoon and evening, and it felt peculiar not being greeted by an eager and playful Rex first thing in the morning.

Andrew and I got up early anyway—we are still operating on East Coast time—and we went down to the kitchen and drank coffee and talked and read newspapers until Andrew’s father came down.

Alex came over at 8:00 a.m., and Andrew made everyone a big breakfast: cereal, fresh strawberries and cream, zucchini bread, ham-and-cheese omelets, hash browns, English muffins with his mother’s fresh strawberry jam, and orange juice and cranberry juice.

We didn’t do much of anything Saturday morning except clean the kitchen.

The kitchen in Andrew’s mother’s house is always kept in immaculate condition. Despite the presence of a dog in the household, one may practically eat from the kitchen floor—or from any other kitchen surface—without worry.

Alec and Lizbeth and the kids—and the dog—came over right before lunch. I don’t think the dog had missed us over the previous 24 hours, what with all the company he had enjoyed.

We had a lunch of grilled tuna, pasta, peas and applesauce, accompanied by a garden salad. Helena had chicken broth, pureed peas and pureed applesauce.

Once the kids turned in for their naps, Alec and Alex and Andrew and I prepared for a major episode in car-washing: we cleaned and washed and waxed every vehicle in the family (except Andrew’s and my car back in Boston). The project took us all afternoon.

Once the kids were up from their naps, they came outside and watched us.

They did not find our work to be all that interesting, truth to tell, and after a few minutes they directed their attentions elsewhere. Tim played with Andrew’s father in the yard while Helena sat on the deck with her mother and grandmother, enjoying the beautiful weather.

We had a major dinner Saturday night: lobster bisque, followed by a tomato-cucumber-goat cheese-onion-carrot-tuna-celery salad, followed by beef tips cooked in red wine served with wild rice, grilled red and yellow peppers, and snap peas.

We had peach pie and homemade ice cream for dessert. Peach pie and homemade ice cream are Tim’s favorite dessert.

Helena tried a couple of swallows of the lobster bisque, but she did not quite know what to make of it. She was happier with her cream-tomato soup, pureed butter beans and pureed pears.

She had a little ice cream, too, and she also had a few swallows of pureed peach pie, which she liked very much.

Tim is now fully accustomed to eating at table, and he fits right in. He no longer shows off, as he did back in March when he first started eating at table. Instead, he concentrates on his food and listens to the conversation, mostly allowing others to do the talking. He generally talks at table only after he has finished his food, when the meal is winding down.

At 8:00 p.m., Alec and Lizbeth and the kids had to go home, and the rest of us played scrabble and talked until it was time for Alex to go home and time for the rest of us to turn in.

Andrew and I DID have to get up early on Sunday morning, since we had been unable to pawn the dog off on Alec and Lizbeth for a second consecutive night.

He got his early-morning run, and he was happy.

No one was especially hungry on Sunday morning, so we skipped eating a breakfast of pancakes and sausages, the usual Sunday-morning fare. Instead, we ate cereal and scones and strawberries and cream, taking advantage of the fresh strawberries as long as we had them.

Sunday was the first Sunday since Thanksgiving weekend that Andrew and I had visited our church.

Over Christmas, Andrew and I had been in Minneapolis only for four days, and our visit did not coincide with a Sunday morning.

When we were home in March, we could not attend church because we had tickets for the regional NCAA tournament games at the Metrodome that Sunday.

Last weekend, we were up at the lake—and next weekend we will be up at the lake, too. The following Sunday we will be in Munich, and the Sunday after that we will be in Munich as well.

Sunday, consequently, was our only church-going opportunity of the summer. We got to see a lot of people we had not seen for many months, and Andrew enjoyed it very much. I enjoyed it, too.

Helena was very good during service. However, to stay amused (and silent), she changed laps every few minutes. She started on her mother’s lap, moved to her father’s, moved to Alex’s (where she fell asleep for twenty minutes), moved to mine, and ended on Andrew’s (where she fell asleep a second time). If the service had lasted much longer, she probably would have reversed course and ended up back on her mother’s lap.

The pew arrangement had changed slightly since the last time Andrew and I had attended church. Andrew’s father still sits nearest the center aisle, followed by Andrew’s mother. However, Tim, who used to sit between his parents, now comes next, followed by his mother and father, who between them hold the baby. Alex comes next, followed by me, with Andrew sitting on the outer aisle.

In another year or so, Helena will require her own place on the pew, at which point the pew will be completely filled. The next member of the family will precipitate a crisis: we shall be required to spill over into a second pew. Since the nearby pews are already taken, I don’t know what will happen.

We had only a light lunch when we returned home. bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches. No one was hungry, and no one wanted anything substantial. Helena ate hardly anything, because she was ready for her nap.

We did nothing at all while the kids were asleep. In fact, Alec and Lizbeth took naps, too, while Tim and Helena were sleeping. Parenting young children has got to be exhausting.

Tim wanted to do something fun when he woke from his nap, so his Granddad, his Dad, Alex, and Andrew and I took him to the park. We would have taken Helena, too, but she seemed to be fussy, and we thought it would be better to leave her in her mother’s care.

The dog was definitely not fussy, so we took him with us as well. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the park, staying until it was time for us to go home for dinner.

We had chicken breasts baked in an apple-cranberry glaze, accompanied by potato pancakes, steamed carrots, steamed broccoli and an apple-cranberry-celery-nut salad. For dessert, we ate pineapple sherbet and pirouette cookies. It was a perfect summer supper, both light and substantial at the same time.

Andrew’s mother indeed has a gift for food.

Once again, Helena did not eat much on Sunday night. She ate a couple of swallows of pureed carrots, a couple of swallows of pureed potato pancakes, and a few swallows of strawberry Jello—and that was it for her. Not even the sherbet enticed her. I think she must have been out of sorts.

As soon as dinner was over, everyone went home.

After the kitchen was clean, Andrew’s parents and Andrew and I went outside and sat on the deck, talking until long past sunset.

All four of us sense that some disruptive, propulsive event shall soon shake the world. The present reminds us of the eeriness of the years leading up to World War I, when persons all over Europe sensed, intuitively, that a great and tragic cataclysm was approaching.

I firmly believe—as do Andrew and Andrew’s father—that the reason there has been a veritable EXPLOSION of scholarship addressing the causes of World War I in the last few years is because intellectuals and historians sense the approach of a similar cataclysm, and look to World War I for answers.

Whatever form the coming cataclysm will take, it is undoubted that many, many persons all over the globe shall perish before things sort themselves out again.

Andrew and I don’t have anything planned for the coming week.

We may use our time to do a little shrubbery trimming, and even a little tree trimming.

We may also paint the garage doors, and touch up a few windows and doors.

On Friday, we will go back to the lake for the weekend.

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