Some Observations from a Holiday Weekend

I jotted notes throughout the holiday weekend in case I observed anything post-worthy. Looking through my notes, it seems like the notes themselves are enough for one post.

Wednesday

  • It seems like Thanksgiving weekend starts earlier ever years. For our kids, the weekend began Tuesday at around noon after their “Grandparents” show at school.
  • With so many people traveling on the holiday weekend (including us), I’m always surprised that people are traveling to the place that we are leaving. The school has their “Grandparents” show on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, presumably because so many grandparents have traveled to the area.
  • Many grandparents, many being retirees I suppose, and wanting to avoid the holiday travel rush, must decide to come into town much earlier than Thanksgiving. There were quite a few grandparents at the Grandparents show, and that show took place at 9:30 Tuesday morning. I wonder how many calls went out to Grandparents saying, “You better be here to see your grandchild perform in the Grandparents show!” I wonder how many grandparents had to change their travel arrangement to make it to the show?
  • Although I am not a grandparent, I like to avoid the holiday travel rush. We set out for our drive to New York at 5:30 am. We hit no traffic and arrived at my sister’s house at 10 am.
  • E. B. White accompanied me on the drive. I listened to the audiobook version of One Man’s Meat. It was the third time I have read that book, and I never seem to tire of it. Each time I finish it, I think I want to pack it all in and move up to a salt water farm in Maine. I doubt that Harper’s would be pay me the 2019 equivalent of what it paid White for his monthly column, but I could blog about it here, right?
  • The five miles or so leading up to the George Washington bridge are always a little hectic. This time, though, there was no traffic. The signs indicated the faster route was via the lower level. I took it reluctantly. I’ve been crossing the George Washington Bridge my entire life, and the lower level feels a lot less bridge-like than the upper level.
  • Once at my sister’s house, I settled in at her kitchen table and spent the next eight hours working. Thanksgiving weekend–for me at least–didn’t start until about 6 pm.
  • I walked through the main street in my sister’s town after I finished working. The temperatures had been mild, but the winds were picking up. The main street was abuzz with traffic, cars and people. There are dozens of local shops that are fun to look it because they are right there in front of you instead of on a computer screen.
  • The hardware store was my favorite. It was a practical hardware store, with what seemed like hundreds of bins of stuff that is useful around the house.
  • I noted in my notebook about half a dozen barber shops. At 6 pm, not all were all of the seats filled, but the waiting areas were filled as well. It seemed like everyone in town suddenly realized that needed a trim before the holiday.
  • It started to rain while I walked. Passing by the local, family-owned grocery store, I caught of glimpse of what I typically see deep in the City: a street clogged with traffic, and lots of honking horns. Cars double-parked in front of the grocery store while groceries were loaded. I suppose the people were concerned about the rain, but it didn’t bother me.
  • My parents arrived not long after I returned from my walk. We had baked Mac & Cheese for dinner. My sister, knowing that I like notebooks, gave me Rite in the Rain, All-Weather, Universal No. 135 Notebook. I’m not sure what the 135 stands for, but it is a great little notebook with waxed paper that you can write in the rain with. I wish she’d given it to me before my walk. There are smudges on the pages of my Field Notes notebook where I tried counting barber shops.
My Rite in the Rain notebook

Thursday

  • I took walk early Thursday morning, and the main street in town looked completely different than it had only 12 hours earlier. It was desolate. Everything was closed. There were handwritten signs on many business letting people know that the business was closed. I found these signs completely unnecessary as there was no one out to read them.
Main Street - Thanksgiving Morning
  • A few years back, while reading a biography of Casey Stengel, I learned that Brooklyn Dodgers manager John McGraw bought a house in Pelham, NY. I looked up the news of the purchase in the NY Times, found the address, and since it was only 2 miles from where I happened to be, I decided to walk there.
  • The street on which the house was on was quiet. No one was out. I felt a little strange taking a picture of the house at 7:30 in the morning, but I love this sort of thing. Here was the place that John McGraw came home at night. I was standing on the sidewalk in front of the house, looking 90 year back into baseball history.
  • John McGraw paid $65,000 for the house in 1930. The house is currently worth about $1.5 million.
  • There is always a lot of snacking on Thanksgiving, but I tried to avoid it because I wanted to be able to sample everything at dinner.
  • “Everything at dinner” included: butternut squash soup w/bacon, a delicious crab dish, orange stuffed with yams and marshmallows, smoked turkey (with my brother-in-law smoked in the backyard), mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green beans, and rolls. I ate it all.
  • Dessert consisted of grasshopper pie, apple pie, and pecan pie. I was unable to eat any of it. I was too stuffed.
  • In the evening, we watching the first half of White Christmas. Halfway through, stuffed to the gills, everyone was sleepy and we decided to finish the movie the next day. Dozing off that night, I tried to think the last time I watched a movie or TV show straight through without interruption. I think it must have been sometime in the previous decade.
My Thankgiving dinner plate.

Friday

  • The day after Thanksgiving is a day designed to be lazy. While everyone is out at Black Friday sales, we just relaxed. Some of us may have shopped online.
  • We watched Home Alone, which I hadn’t seen in years, and which was just as funny as I remembered it.
  • The kids and their cousins went to a nearby park with glider in hand. Five minutes after arriving at the park, the glider was stuck high up in a tree. They spent the next 50 minutes trying various methods to get the glider out of the tree. Eventually, they succeeded.
  • I reprised my Thanksgiving dinner, but this time, for an early lunch.
  • Kelly, along with my sister, my mom, and the older kids went out for a hike. I stayed back in order to make sure our youngest got in her nap. And while she was at it, I decided it would be prudent if I napped, too.
  • I made up for my shameful abstemiousness the previous night, I had a piece of all 3 pies. We then settled in to watch the rest of White Christmas.

Saturday

  • My brother-in-law ran in a half-marathon Saturday morning. We all cheered him on by racing from one spot to another along the course. At times, we ran. It was cold, but some 800 people ran in the half marathon. We cheered them at each place we stopped.
  • My brother-in-law completed the half marathon in 2:06, better than he had expected. We celebrated by heading back to the house and eating.
  • We debated about when we should head home. Rain and snow was expected on Sunday, and so we finally decided to head home around 4pm on Saturday in order to avoid the holiday traffic with weather.
  • When we started the car, the GPS said we’d be home around 8:50pm. I avoided the George Washington Bridge, and took the Mario Cuomo “Bridge” instead. I put bridge in quotes there, because I thought the old Tappan Zee was more of bridge than the eyesore they call a bridge today.
  • We arrived home at 10:24 pm. I suspect everyone else had the same idea that we had. If it took us 6-1/2 hours to make 4-hour drive in clear weather last night, I can only imagine what the drive today will be like. Besides, it wasn’t a bad drive, I spent the 6-1/2 hours listening to the first 9 hours of Eye of the World by Robert Jordan.

Sunday

  • Slept in until almost 8 am. Then I went out for a walk despite the light rain.
  • Went grocery shopping, and picked up a copy of the New York Times. Great article on Amazon. First in a series.
  • Made eggs and toast for breakfast. Then I headed up into the attic to play Tetris with the boxes up there in order to locate and remove the box containing half of the Christmas tree.
  • The tree has now been assembled. It will be decorated after lunch.
  • Speaking of lunch, that rumble you hear is my stomach growling.
  • I mentioned last week that I have been growing a beard. Today I’m 4-weeks in. Here’s the result so far:
My beard, at 4-weeks