Traditional “E&C visit the Petersons for Thanksgiving”: we take the week off, fly down on Sunday. C takes over the kitchen completely, delighting my parents. There’s a day for outlet mall shopping. I help my dad with computer issues. We go home on Friday, unfortunately missing out on the leftovers.
It’s different now. We’d only had about one ‘normal’ Thanksgiving in Mom and Dad’s new home in Durham. Then, the last one we had was two years ago, a week after we’d definitively found out that my mother had terminal cancer – so that was not only awful, but awkward. And then she passed away and then there was COVID and all that, so last year didn’t happen. A lot has settled into its new normal, but now we have C’s medical issues to contend with: his limited mobility meant (a) although he was still taking care of Thanksgiving dinner, no way was he taking over the kitchen for the whole week, and (b) the logistics of getting there and back were significantly more complicated.
After a Saturday of prep also made more complicated by a broken building elevator (denying me access to the giant laundry machines in the basement, and thus making laundry take the whole damn day), we get our act together on Sunday and set out for LaGuardia. Everyone had told us that getting wheelchair service at the airports was the thing to do and that turned out to be true. LaGuardia is under significant construction, but we did manage to get the wheelchair service pretty much as soon as we got there, although could not check the bags at the gate. (New lesson for me: try to condense down to one suitcase if possible, because I’m now driving all the luggage at the same time.) Once we got into the terminal, I got into a line to drop off the bags (we’d checked in online), praying they wouldn’t need C’s presence or ID (and they didn’t). Another wheelchair attendant came and got C and we went through security; we are Precheck, but she didn’t notice, and we ended up in the regular line, where we had to empty our laptop bags and such) and then to the gate.
From this point, we were fine (C could walk with a cane to get on the plane, and we took advantage of ‘passengers who need extra time on the walkway are invited to board’) and the flight was short and painless. Once in Durham, though, we dismissed the new wheelchair guy once we got our luggage, and that may have been a mistake. Normally, we would have just gotten on the Avis bus together to get the car, but it was clear it would be better if I left him there with the luggage, got the car and came back. Now… what we should have done was either park him outside with the luggage, or directly inside the door, but we didn’t, he was on the far side wall. And once I got the car, I realized I had a classic ‘fox/goose/corn’ situation: I couldn’t leave the car at the curb to get him, and he couldn’t bring the luggage out to me. Sure enough, I pulled in and one of the security coordinators told me I couldn’t leave the car. I told him the situation and first he told me I’d have to park the car (which made sense to me and I was about to do that)… and then said, ‘well, what does he look like?” And I described C, and this security guy went in, found C, and brought our luggage out. Which was crazy nice, and for some reason, I didn’t tip him, and now of course I realized I should have tipped him. Or at least kissed him.
Off to Dad’s, no problem, greetings and unloading. Sibling Sam came over and we went out to Local 22 for burgers and such.
Monday we had a leisurely get-up. We’d already been through the “figure out who’s responsible for what meal during the week” and I decided I’d make eggs for breakfast. They were not fancy, and probably not cooked that well, but they were fine. Our big project was to do the grocery shopping. First to the Medical Supply Superstore, where I’d reserved a wheelchair rental for the week. They were very nice there, and C also bought a wrist brace for his newly-diagnosed carpal tunnel (with all those tests he’s getting, they at least found something, although it has nothing to do with his leg), but I couldn’t help thinking as I looked around at the ostomy supplies and such that I was looking at my future, for my aging family and myself. Ugh, morbid.
Then a fun scurrying around for about 20 minutes, total red herring, because I thought I’d lost the extra car fob to my dad’s car (pocketed just so we could get his reusable totebags out of the trunk), and after detailed perusal of both his parking lot and (back to) the medical supply store’s, I realized that I’d probably tossed it into a different tote bag, and yep, there it was. I was freaking out and C was trying to calm me down. “You’re too hard on yourself.” Well, yeah, sometimes.
I’d thought that C could do OK in the grocery store using the cart as a walker, but he asked for the wheelchair and that turned out to be a good move – those suburban grocery stores are huge. (we went to a Harris Teeter) We only had 4 for Thanksgiving and had some other stuff to buy, so it wasn’t a huge operation, but we had to figure out how to make this work. Basically, I pushed him to where he needed to look, and he picked out stuff off the shelf or whatever while I brought the cart up, and handed it to me to put in the cart. Sometimes we traveled so aimlessly that I’d realize that I’d left the cart halfway across the store and I wasn’t sure exactly where. But ultimately we were successful and we got ourselves and the goodies back home.
After some downtime, C made dinner for the three of us, a vegetarian whole-wheat pasta dish, very nice and we watched the news or whatever.
Tuesday was fun! Sam came to pick me up for a brothers-only breakfast and took me to Monuts. Alas, they weren’t serving sit-down, so we just ordered out and took it to Sam’s adorable house. I had a breakfast burrito that was out of this world. And we got caught up on the parts of our lives that we didn’t necessarily want to discuss in front of Dad or C, heh. Really great.
Back to the condo, where Sam dropped me off, I buzzed in to freshen up, and then C and I went out for outlet mall shopping. Always a holiday tradition, the outlet malls near Durham are quite a bit closer than the Bluffton malls were to Port Royal back in SC. Again, we used the wheelchair, but no grocery cart to pull along this time. He got things for the grand-nieblings, I bought sweaters for Dad and Sam, who both have December birthdays. It was nice and relaxed and we didn’t spend a ton of time there.
Every single time we go to that mall, we finish our shopping, decide to have lunch, pick a restaurant selected from Google Maps, and although we pick a different one every time, they all end up being in the same strip mall a mile away. This time we went to a Mexican place which was really nice, but I was still full from breakfast, so I just had their (rather tasty) chicken soup, which had cilantro and pico de gallo in it. C chowed down, as he hadn’t had breakfast.
Then we went to the Lowe’s grocery store (Lowe’s grocery store?) next door to buy fresh sage, which hadn’t been available at the Harris Teeter. C was feeling his leg, so sent me in to grab it quickly, and of course it turned into an ordeal. I didn’t see the produce section where they had the fresh herbs, but I did see that they had these flowerpots with growing herbs in them, and this station called “Pick and prep” or such, where apparently, you had one of their staff members get really fresh herbs for you. So I went up to the window and asked how this whole thing worked, but the lady I talked to had minimal English and we went around a few times until she figured out what I wanted. She showed me to the part of the product dept that I’d been looking for in the first place (I’m pretty oblivious) and I thanked her….
But then they only had one package of sage and I needed two and I went back to her and yeah, she grabbed one of the flower pots and planted it in this trough and handed me a plastic bag and some scissors and told me to go to town. And I’m just like, “ok, no clue here”, cut off the entire plant and shoved it in the bag. 99 cents. And bought my sage and went out of there. That was bizarre, to say the least. “Please tell me how this system works, because I don’t know enough to ask for what I want.”
Back home, where I had Dad try on his sweater, which fit, so that was good. And after downtime, we went to Metro 8 for dinner. It had relocated since we’d been there last, but was still really good. I got a brussels sprouts appetizer and C got empanadas, and then Dad got fish while we got steak au poivre. (Dad had a gallbladder scare a few weeks ago and has a limited diet until he gets his gallbladder removed, which will happen right after Xmas.) Desserts all around – I had a chocolate torte, Dad had key lime pie and C had … I don’t remember… maybe he didn’t get dessert.
Wednesday was about Thanksgiving prep, which for me meant stripping thyme twigs for about an hour, and otherwise helping my dad with computer projects. It was cold, so we didn’t go out and do anything. I read and did projects myself.
We met Sam at Parizade, a favorite restaurant of ours, where we’d taken Mom and Dad for their 60th anniversary 3 weeks before Mom died. (memories everywhere) They had a specialty cocktail, like an apple cider mule, and I had that. C and I both started with phyllo-wrapped shrimp (good) and then I had rigatoni with short rib bolognese, taking advantage of a cheat week to eat lots of pasta. (I don’t generally like short rib, but this was good.) Dad and Sam both had the swordfish special, which they continued to praise well into the next day. I had something interesting for dessert that wasn’t tiramisu (I love tiramisu) – oh, yes, it was opera cake, and that was really yummy.
Thursday was Thanksgiving, of course. I’d had it in my head to make both pumpkin muffins (because I hadn’t gotten to make them for C’s birthday a few weeks ago) and a lemon cookie recipe I’d made in peak lockdown last year. Dad didn’t have a muffin tin, but had several loaf pans. I stupidly (like, as I did it, I knew it was stupid, but kept on anyway) used one loaf pan instead of two and of course it never cooked all the way through, although I just sliced it and salvaged the fully-cooked parts, which were quite good (that was breakfast). The lemon cookies were labor-intensive and didn’t come out nearly as well as the first time I’d made them. (oh, and the sheet of paper with the recipe fell into the mixing bowl. What a mess.) Oh, well, no one was clamoring for them, and we had pumpkin pie for dessert anyway.
Last time I’d been down, Dad and Sam had been taking almost daily 3-mile walks, but Dad’s bursitis got in the way. I lured him out for a walk anyway and we did about a mile, and to his surprise, he was just fine. So that was good and it was beautiful out. Dad lives on the boundary of a golf course, and in a neighborhood of really fancy and lovely houses, so the walking routes are really nice.
I put out snacks mid-afternoon, Sam came over, and then we had the traditional turkey and everything. It was really good, and we didn’t gorge ourselves silly. Sam did most of the cleanup so that was great, and we divvied up the leftovers so Dad and Sam each got some. (as always, a downside of going home the day after Thanksgiving is missing the leftovers). Had some pumpkin pie and cookies. Sam went home and Dad and C and I watched Red Notice, which was good silly fun. I started falling asleep about 8:30, not sure why, I hadn’t been the one slaving in the kitchen. I guess turkey sleepiness is a real thing.
Friday we had a nice leisurely wrap-up, as our flight wasn’t until 4:00. C served another traditional meal: bagels and lox, plus we grabbed some more pumpkin bread and cookies. Clean up, packing, stripping the bed, and so on. I ran out and returned the rental wheelchair.
Goodbye to Dad, then we went over to Sam’s house for a bit – C had never seen the house. Sam’s house is small, but really lovely, and that was a nice visit.
Then off to the airport. Quite a bit easier this time because they had a skycap station at the arrivals area and had a wheelchair ready for us. I was able to leave C and the luggage with the skycaps to go through security on his own while I returned the car. Came back, went through security myself, went to the gate and C was safely there reading. “OMG, it worked!” I
Flight back was also painless, and we had a great flight attendant (as we’d had on the trip out). Turned on my phone on landing to find out that Sondheim had passed away (and much more on that in a future blog post). When the plane was parked, unfortunately we had no jetbridge, and poor C had to work his way down the very steep little staircase, but the wheelchair guy was waiting at the bottom. This time we kept the wheelchair guy all the way through – I asked him if it was better to taxi or Uber and he said Uber – told us when to order it as we got our luggage, then led us right out there, asked for the license plate of the Uber driver. Good thing, because as we got out there, a Delta pilot was about to load his luggage into our Uber. Our wheelchair guy led the charge, “no no no that’s ours!”. We resolved that, got all packed up. C took care of the tip, not sure how much, but I hope it was a lot, wheelchair guy deserved it.
Easy trip back home, left unpacking until the weekend, ordered Chinese and watched TV. Success!
Nice weekend too, except C’s leg is actually getting worse. Maybe just because he pushed it so much this week. He has more tests coming up, cross your fingers.
Oh, and I met my congressperson, AOC, this weekend! I figured it would happen eventually – there’s a restaurant on the corner that I got to pretty much every weekend, and she goes there regularly. Dudley, one of the owners, who I talk books with, seated me at the next table, but actually sat with my back to her so I didn’t stare. After she finished her meal, she was nice about talking to all sorts of people and getting selfies. I met her, told her I’d make it quick, but we had a nice little convo. She is teeny and skinny and sweet and kind. I was too embarrassed to ask for a selfie – maybe next time. (I really like her a lot, have from the beginning.)
More on the Sondheim thing, ‘soon… I promise’.
Enjoy the week!