Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Highlights

So much to tell, so little blogging time while summer continues and school preparations begin.

We had a MARVELOUS time with Gommie!  And, as you saw from my earlier list, we managed to squeeze so much in--and that's with a very slow Tuesday when everyone was tired and blah (both kiddos seemed to be fighting something virusy.)  I'll spare you a day-by-day description in favor of highlights, in random order.



Schooner:  It's a tie for my favorite thing we did while Gommie was here, but since I hadn't done a sunset schooner cruise with lobster dinner before, I vote for it.  We headed to the port midday, stopping first for a quintessentially New England lunch at Abbott's Lobster in the Rough in picturesque Noank.  In a series of little shacks, we picked up lobster salad rolls, steamed mussels, steamed corn, frozen hot chocolates, apple crumble, and lemon slab pie with ice cream, all of which we ate overlooking a brilliant blue Sound with lots of white sailboats.  I felt like the cast of Carousel would burst out singing at any minutes!

Then we headed to the dock in New London where the Mystic Whaler was waiting for us.  It's a I-don't-know-how-many-feet-long schooner built in the 1960s and refurbished.  With three sails and wooden decks and detailing, it felt older to me and transported me back to the great age of sail (without all the danger and hassle.)  New London, of course, was a major seaport in the country's colonial past--we even sailed by Revolutionary War-era Fort Trumbull and another fort.  We cruised out past the London Ledge light and got some great photos.  Gommie, Mama, and the kids even helped haul the sails while singing a chantey! It really was idyllic.  And the food was good, too.  There was clam chowder, lobsters, tasty grilled chicken for me and Sis, coleslaw, rolls, and cheesecake.  Even though there were two dozen or so other passengers, it never felt really crowded.  And the crew was especially helpful and nice.  I think it'd be lovely to take an overnight cruise with them.  I know Gommie had a great time, which made it extra special to be able to find something new for her.  Being on the water and dusk are two of her favorite things.  Though, she refrained from calling it "the nicest time of the day."



Cats:  Our trip into NYC was a close second to the schooner cruise, especially because I think the kiddos had never been in the city with Gommie before.  We spent the day around Times Square, which is familiar to all of us, albeit never all together.  In fact, we really did the tourist thing, quite embarrassingly (and jokingly) pointing at tall buildings, stopping on the sidewalk for selfies, and going to tourist traps!  We did not, however, wear "I (heart) NY" shirts!  Our first stop was Madame Tussaud's, where there was a virtual reality Ghostbusters experience.  The kids and Mama loved donning the proton packs and hunting ghosts, but I didn't even try (the packs were 15 lbs) and Gommie got disoriented by the VR and stopped when it malfunctioned a bit.  The rest of the place was mostly uninteresting--the kids didn't know 90% of the figures and couldn't have cared less.  We did see a few they liked--Katniss from Hunger Games, some of the Avengers, and three of the Ghostbusters women--and decided if the whole place had been geeky was statues--Doctor Who, Star Wars, Pokemon, Studio Ghibli, etc--we would have had a blast.   Gommie did really enjoy posing with Hillary Clinton, too.

We had dinner at Sapporo, our favorite quick pre-show eatery (don't forget that it's a cash-only place!)  Sis and I had our usual katsu chicken cutlet, to which she added gyoza and I added the potato salad with sesame-Japanese mayo dressing; and there was the yummy house slaw and soup.  Bud got soupy noodles (because there was enough time before curtain) and Mama got cold noodles.  Gommie got this delicious gyun-don shredded beef rice with sukiyaki sauce (I think), which I think I'll get next time.

In the time before curtain, we perused both Hershey's and the M&M store, neither of which Gommie had seen.  Then, because it was hot out and we were a little tired, we sat in the Crowne Plaza--where there was the Liberty City Anime Con!  Gommie got to see all the cosplayers!  It was the perfect NYC people-watching spot.  With seats and AC!

Then it was time for Cats.  We had great seats, second row Orchestra on an aisle; we don't usually sit that close at all, but it was great to see the elaborate garbage set and the amazing dancers close up.  And, during all the action, numerous cats ran down the aisle beside us.  In fact, Rum Tum Tugger was flirting with me!  (I had the aisle seat.)  At one point during the show, some cats pretended to take a photo of Tugger and me together.  Later, when he came down the aisle, he purred, "How do you like my fur?"  And yet again, he winked right at me from stage later.  Funny.  You're a cute kitty, RTT, but not my type.  Amazingly, during intermission, they let you up onstage to take photos with Old Deuteronomy!  We didn't know this so Mama and Sis had left for the bathroom and missed it, but Bud and I went and Deuteronomy played with Bud's hair (or, made a gesture similar to one he made in "Moments of Happiness" about memory.)  It was amazing to see the house from the stage; Bud grinned from ear to ear the whole time.  I was really sorry Sis missed it; so was she.  The show was pretty much exactly how I remembered it from when Gommie and I saw it on tour in Houston, in, oh, the early 1980s.  Though, there wasn't any "Growltiger's Last Stand" this time.  I loved it then and I loved it again.  Maybe even more sitting with my mom, my wife, and my kids, all of whom were enthralled.  We've been humming the songs ever since.  And both kids read T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.

After the show (and the purchase of some pins and magnets and a eared hoodie for me), we had our requisite trip to Junior's for snacks for the ride home--chocolate egg creams, cheesecake, black and white cookie, Cel-ray soda, and some French onion soup for Bud to eat the next day.  I think we weren't asleep until 2 a.m., but it was worth it.


Food:  You know we love to eat out.  In addition to the Japanese food mentioned above, we ate at our favorite local Japanese place (after going to see Kubo and the Three Strings; more below.)  Mama, Bud, and Gommie had a big boat of sushi, while Sis had a chicken udon stir fry and I had chicken teriyaki.  There were also gyozas, harumaki, soup, salad, green tea, and mango mochi.

We also took Gommie to a new German place we'd found, since we know she loves sausages and sauerkraut.  The table was groaning with a sausage tasting platter (kielbasa, weiss weiners, and something else), raclette (cheese on potatoes and pickles), big buttered pretzels, currywurst, jaegerschnitzel, chicken schnitzel, cold potato salad, steamed mussels, apple strudel, black forest cake, and I don't remember what else.  Whew!

We also got take-out from the Italian deli, with various chicken parm and meatball grinders, seafood salad, chicken cutlet salad sandwich, etc.

I almost forgot the meal her first night at a local bistro--steamed mussels in wine and garlic (the better of the two mussels she had this trip), hummus with olive gremolata, salt and pepper shrimp, homemade bread, and roasted chicken.

Other food included the best local doughnuts, my own sourdough biscuits, Sis's oatmeal lace cookies

I'm sure I've forgotten a few places--I don't think I cooked much if at all.


Movies:  As a family, we've been going to more movies this year and we saw two with Gommie.  First, the kids wanted to take her to the new Ghostbusters, which she hadn't even heard of, to prepare her for the Ghostbusters experience at the wax museum.  She laughed through the whole thing, which was entertaining to Mama and me, since we know it's not her kind of film.  I enjoyed it just as much as the first time.  I think I liked Holtzmann even more this time!

On preview night, we went to see Kubo and the Two Strings, which Bud had wanted to see since spotting the first trailer.  And then we learned that the brother of a friend of mine was the production designer.  Wow!  It was a masterpiece.  And I'm not just saying that because Sew and Sow reads my blog sometimes.  It was beautifully made--with this incredible stop-motion technique--with papers and fabrics.  Oh, the flying origami!  The original story seemed taken straight from Japanese folklore (and I loved the details of the samurai armor, netsuke, wabi sabi-like rice bowl during a meal, the cemetery and lantern ceremony, etc etc etc)  And what a story!  No spoilers here, only to say I loved the non-violent resolution.  If you go--and you should--stay for the credits; there's a behind-the-scenes bit that Bud tells me shows the largest stop-motion sculpture ever made (how does he know that??)  We talked about it for a few hours straight--over a Japanese dinner, no less.  Oh, and we even got free little pins because it was preview night.


Maple Syrup Incident:  This was on my list so I feel I must explain it.  While trying to get food on the table before Bud had to go to kung fu, I realized an entire jug of maple syrup had been de-capped and upturned in the fridge, spilling all over not only a shelf but in both crisper drawers.  UGH.  Gommie saved the day with her thorough cleaning.  And Sis finished cooking Bud's dinner while I helped Gommie.  Bud was oblivious to it all and, probably wisely, stayed out of the kitchen.


Pokemon Go!  Gommie had a thorough introduction to the VR world of Pokemon when Bud directed her around town for two hours hitting many of the best Pokestops.  I believe she even got one herself.


Clockwise from left:  Sis, Gommie, me, and me again

Clockwise from left: Sis, Gommie, me, and Bud

Gommie's new tiles.  She really likes lace, on the bottom tile.


Zentangle:  Last but not least, we did some tangling.  Gommie poured over my new books and practiced some new tangles.  And we all made a couple of family mosaics together.  I had gotten Gommie a special Zentangle "No Mistakes" t-shirt and also some little carrying-pouches for supplies that we decorated.  It really is a wonderful thing to do together.  And she's gotten really good!


Games:  The kids save a lot of their game playing for Gommie, because she is so enthusiastic about it.  They played checkers, Simon's Cat, (tried to play) Harry Potter Clue, the 5-Second Rule, and Rummy Q.  We all played Telestrations, which Gommie picked up for us, a kind of old-fashioned telephone game plus Pictionary; we laughed and laughed at some of the outcomes (including "chicken man with furry face," "narwhal with legs," "bird in a pie," etc.)  Gommie was also game to try the Wii games Fantasia (directing an orchestra) and Just Dance (like Digital Dance Revolution.)  And we all told her all about Dragonvale.  Plus, of course, Pokemon Go, as described above.

And that's about it.  Sure, Gommie went to horseback riding lessons, kung fu lessons, piano lessons (albeit in the house), and ice skating lessons, too, and there was down time swimming at a neighbor's pool, watching Olympics and such.  But, mainly, I think we squeezed in as much as we had energy to do.  And we started making plans for next time!!!

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