Since we have no kids and my brother doesn’t either, we are very lucky that C’s brother and his wife produced two amazing young women, Samantha and Allison. The sisters are ten years apart, and yet somehow, really really great friends. We’re really close to both of our nieces (Sam actually lived with us for about five years). Sam lives in St. Paul with her husband and two kids and we visit them when we can. Allison is a teacher and has moved from Cortland (where she went to college) to Syracuse and ended up in Beacon, purely by coincidence the town where her sister Sam got married (and I put together a brass quintet for the ceremony, which was a lot of fun).

A few weeks ago, we had a zoom call with them, where Allie gave us a video tour of the new half-of-a-house she and her new gentleman friend had just moved into. And after that call, we were like, “OK we need to take a weekend and go up and see her and see this house and meet the boyfriend and visit with our other friends up in that direction.” So this weekend we took Friday and Monday off to give us our ‘functional weekend days’ and traveled on Saturday and Sunday. I picked up the (unusually expensive) rental car (I remember reading that rentals were really expensive now, but I also realize that I totaled an Avis car last year, so maybe that’s why…) and we headed up north. Not a long drive, not particularly trafficky once we left the city, although there were delays here and there.

Got to Beacon, found their house. Greetings and hugs. J, the gentleman friend, is charming and clearly a keeper. A and J’s half-a house is really really cool -it’s a Victorian house they share with their landlord, and it’s all dark wood and weird little nooks and alcoves and stained glass and views of the Hudson. It’s charming and lovely and has personality to spare – they are very lucky.

C still having walking issues, we did a little more driving than we otherwise would have. We went to lunch at The Beacon Daily, which was great except for the unusually loud music playing. I had a Banh Mi sandwich which was delicious, and a chocolate cookie. J had a cubano, Allie had a Double Double, and C had the KFC. (next time I need to try a fried chicken sandwich, I think) Then we went to Main Street and walked around as much as C’s leg could stand. I bought some craftsman soaps (“They’re very mild, you can take them right in the shower!” the proprietress chirped, to my bafflement.) A giftie store yielded a little vase that looks like a Harry Potter magic textbook – I’m going to use it for pencils, I think.

To my delight, the antique store up the block had a couple of brass instruments in the front window, so I lunged for the door, but they were just closing, oh well. So up the street to the Big Mouth for coffee drinks, then dropped A and J off at their house with plans to pick them up later for dinner. Off to our hotel in nearby Fishkill for some downtime. Discovered from FB posting that my good friend Ori had lived basically across the street from our hotel for several years as a kid, that was a fun discovery.

Back into town for dinner. Allison had made quite a few suggestions, and one of them was Isamu. Sushi sounded amazing to me, so I pushed for that and there we went. A and J had bento boxes, which looked like fun, and C had a specialty roll and shrimp tempura, but I just got one of those big-ass sushi/sashima platters, scarfed the whole thing down and made a mess with my poor chopstick skills. (You’ll be happy to know that the soy sauce came out of the slacks just fine.) I’d never tried mochi before, but we had green tea mochi ice cream and it was delicious.

Wrapped up our evening, very nice. Back to the hotel for Olympics and sleep.

Sunday morning, we lazed around, basically. I fetched coffee and our bags of continental breakfast from the lobby and we just hung out until we had to check out at 11:00. First stop, Ori’s childhood home across the street so I could take a picture (picture looks so different that Ori’s betting they tore the old home down and rebuilt). Then to check out the main street of Fishkill, which looked nice enough, but almost everything was closed, so we didn’t stop and walk.

Back to Beacon to see if I could get into the antique store this time. We could, and I asked to see the instruments in the window. Both looked old, but the baritone horn actually looked like it was in decent shape – two of the three valves were working, which meant the third probably just needs oiling. No dents. The other one was a… well, I’m not sure what they’re called, possibly a mellophone. Sort of a bargain-basement French horn with right-hand fingering and piston valves. It was in sad shape, so I handed that back. The proprietor also showed me a beautiful and shiny (but useless) old drum corps bugle with one rotary and one piston valve, plus a metal clarinet. But I bought the baritone! (well, maybe it’s a euphonium) It was not expensive, it will be a fun fixer-upper and something I can play at Tuba Christmas.

Crafty soaps, magic textbook vase and baritone horn (euphonium?) of indeterminate provenance.

Delighted with the purchase, (well, I was, C was looking at me askance), we headed off to Heritage Food and Drink to meet up with Patti and Peter and Alyssa. Patti is C’s best friend and former roommate, Peter is her husband and the gentleman who performed our wedding ceremony, and Alyssa (who we had not met before) is their son’s lady friend. Alyssa had demanded to come along because, apparently, she’s been hearing “Charles and Eric” stories for years. We had a delightful brunch, getting caught up, although both C and I were less pleased with our entrees than we thought we’d be – more of a case of ordering the wrong thing than anything the restaurant had done.

Warm goodbyes (I insisted on showing them the baritone before we left) and then we drove back to the city. Got a parking place right across the street from the building and then had a ‘turn into slugs’ evening, leftovers for dinner and Olympics. I feel asleep at 9:30 – I don’t drive much and I’d done all the driving. And then I brought the car back this morning.

As it turns out, niece Sam and family are coming into town to visit Allison next month, so it looks like we’re going to do much the same thing in a few weeks! I’m fine with that.

Ya know, I almost forgot, but wanted to stress that all of these people who we spent time with this weekend, who I love dearly, are in my life because of Charles. I am blessed to have them, and especially him.

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