Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Doing Not Much Of Anything

On Monday morning, Andrew and I rose early—we have been waking no later than 5:30 a.m. Central Time since we arrived home—but we did not take the dog to the park. It was very cold, and we decided that he would be as happy in the back yard as in the park—and we did not want Andrew’s father to have to make another early-morning excursion to the park to make sure we were safe.

At 6:00 a.m., by pre-design, Andrew and I wakened Alex. We three got cleaned up and left the house at 6:40 a.m., taking the dog with us.

Our intended mission: to remove the snow at Alec and Lizbeth’s house.

We arrived at 7:00 a.m., just as it became light enough for us to work.

We had to park on the street, just as Alec and Lizbeth had had to park on the street the previous evening. The snow on the drive was too deep for anyone to attempt to drive through it.

We had our shovels with us, and we got right to work.

Within five minutes, Alec popped his head out the front door and said, “I can’t believe you guys. Don’t you have anything better to do at 7:00 a.m. on a Monday morning?”

“Nope” was our answer.

“I was going to do this myself later this morning” were his next words. “Why don’t you come inside and we can deal with the snow later.”

“Nope” was our answer.

“Then I am going to come out and join you.”

“Nope.” That was our party line, and we were sticking to it. “Stay inside with the kids. We’ve got this covered.”

And we continued to shovel snow until we were done with the sidewalks and the drive. It took us only an hour to do the job.

We stepped inside for two minutes after we were done, simply to say “Good Morning” to everyone, but we had no plans to stay. We declined all offers of coffee and food, and said we had to get home.

When we arrived home, Andrew’s mother and father were up. They knew where we had gone, and they were waiting for us to return in order to have breakfast.

We had a very simple breakfast: grapefruit, granola, scrambled eggs and toast. That was all we wanted.

Our task for Monday was threefold: (1) to decide whether we were to go to Greece in March; (2) to select a particular guided tour; and (3) to make all necessary bookings.

Alex wants to visit Greece, Andrew’s parents want to visit Greece, and Andrew and I want to visit Greece. We are not experts on Greece, however, and none of us has the time necessary to attempt to become experts on Greece. We decided, consequently, that a guided tour may make the most sense for us, especially since we want to see the country’s most prominent highlights without undertaking a massive research project.

We have ten days at our disposal, no more. Our ten-day limitation is imposed by the length of my Spring Break.

Numerous tour companies offer seven-to-ten-day tours of Greece in March, and we plowed through the many options.

Andrew’s parents have always been pleased with Collette Vacations—their escorted trip to Portugal this past Spring had been a Collette Vacations tour—but the guided tour of Greece we settled upon was offered by Globus Tours, not Collette Vacations. Our selection was based upon the fact that the particular Globus tour included visits to most of the key historic sites from Greece’s ancient history, including visits to ruins, excavations, temples, monasteries and museums.

In addition to traveling through a broad swath of the Greek countryside, the tour is scheduled to visit Corinth, Mycenae, Epidaurus, Olympia, Delphi, Meteora, Thermopylae and Athens. We thought this particular tour was the one that most-closely matched our interests.

We will depart on Friday, March 12, and we will return on Sunday, March 21. We very much look forward to our trip to Greece—and we very much appreciate the fact that we will have no additional planning to do.

Another benefit of the trip is that the weather in Greece in mid-March should be better than the weather in Minneapolis or Boston!

Once our trip selection was complete, we went out for a late lunch: hamburgers at Ruby Tuesday.

On our way home, we stopped at the care facility to visit Andrew’s grandmother. She recognized no one.

When we returned home, Andrew’s parents called their travel agent and asked the agent to book our trip, giving the agent all necessary information, including our departure cities. The agent informed Andrew’s parents that tour confirmations and flight confirmations, owing to the holiday period, might take two business days, perhaps three business days.

We did very little the rest of the afternoon except read travel books about Greece and take the dog outside to play.

The house was eerily quiet on Monday, what with the kids gone. It was difficult for us to adjust to their absence.

Dinner was grilled salmon and seasoned wild rice, served with fried zucchini, grilled red and yellow peppers, and tomato-cucumber salad. We had orange sherbet and lemon sherbet for dessert.

After dinner, we went downstairs and watched on DVD Fred Zinnemann’s 1973 film, “The Day Of The Jackal”, a classic all of us had seen before. A near-perfect film, “The Day Of The Jackal” is a meticulous piece of craftsmanship, the work of a master of the medium. Zinnemann, one of the most elegant of filmmakers, possessed a remarkable eye for detail and atmosphere. Zinnemann’s late work, especially, is notable for its economy and subtlety. I doubt there is a filmmaker alive today with his gifts.

Yesterday we had a couple of excursions on our agenda.

For breakfast, we ate walnut waffles, which are a pain to make but worth the effort. An hour later, we were headed downtown to view the exhibition, “The Louvre And The Masterpiece”, at The Minneapolis Institute Of Arts.

“The Louvre And The Masterpiece” was a small exhibition. Only a few dozen artworks from the Louvre had been loaned for the exhibition. Most notable were Vermeer’s famed “The Astronomer”, the star of the exhibition, and a da Vinci study drawing of folds of drapery.

Once we had visited the Louvre exhibition, we visited the period rooms, decked out for the holidays in period Christmas decorations (apparently a longstanding tradition at The Minneapolis Institute Of Arts).

After our museum visit, we ate lunch at a nearby German restaurant. We ordered lentil soup with sausage, Alsatian casserole and hazelnut torte. It was an excellent lunch.

We spent the afternoon at home, doing not much of anything.

Andrew’s mother made chile, entirely appropriate for the cold weather, and she also baked brownies. We had the chile for dinner, along with avocado salad.

After dinner, we went to Williams Arena to see Minnesota open its Big Ten season against Penn State. Andrew’s mother even accompanied us to the game (it will be the only game of the season for her). The Golden Gophers defeated the Nittany Lions, 75-70.

When we got home from the game, we ate the brownies.

Today we will go spend the day with Alec and Lizbeth and the kids.

No comments:

Post a Comment