Tuesday, January 03, 2006

After Action Report

Some Notes to put Recent Pictures in Context

My vacation did not begin well. I had arranged to drive myself to National Airport early in the morning, leaving my car in the economy lot for Jane to pick up and take back to my house later in the day. The object of this excercise was to get to the terminal in time to make my 0600 flight, without paying for parking the whole week I'd be gone. I judged that waiting for the first Metro train wouldn't be sufficient. Suffice to say, by the time the economy parking lot shuttle pulled up to the terminal, the Metro train was as well. Strike one. I then waited in line to use the e-ticket kiosks that also allow you to check bags, since I had luggage filled with presents. I bought the tickets at United.com, so I went to the United counter. Turns out that since my flight was a code-share with US Airways, I had to check in with that airline. Now I have less than 1/2 an hour until my scheduled departure. Wait in line again. When I try to use the US Airways kiosk, it says "see a representative." Okay. The lady says, curtly, that it is too late and I must go downstairs to the US Airways Shuttle desk and re-book. Goody. At that desk, they say it is not too late. It is only too late if I want to check any bags. I thought I had to, since I have two large bags. They say "run." I was the last man on the plane, and they closed the door behind me. I had a whole row to myself, the flight was so empty. And once I got to LaGuardia, I hurried across the whole terminal to make my connection, which was, of course, delayed an hour. Chris was good enough to wait for me in Burlington. Air travel is fun.

Spent the two days in Vermont watching monster movies, baking cookies, tagging along with Chris to work in Vergennes, and delivering the cookies to most of the folks we usually visit with at Christmas. Chris tried to make some cookies as well, but the shortening he used had turned, resulting in "ass-flavored" cookies.

We visited the Broughtons, who were having a rough holiday since Ben had fallen about 20 feet at a construction site in New Hampshire a few weeks before. He has metal rods and pins all through his body now, and is using a walker until he heals up. Six months, they say. I'm glad we got a chance to check in with him and his folks, and wish them all well. We would have visited the McEachens, but they were out of town, sadly, since Katie and Molly's grandma, "Omay," recently passed away. We then visited our old backyard neighbors, the Martins, and then Cindy, Gen, and Julie Folino, who we usually see Christmas morning. They were all doing very well, and were still raving about their recent trip to NYC with our parents. We stopped by our old next-door neighbors, the Dearborns, and heard about the folks who bought our house. On Reg's advice, we peeked in the windows and saw how much work they are doing on our old place. It's already a very different house. Swung by the Bests' briefly, since I had promised Sara I would see her one way or the other while I was in Vermont. Caught them just as they were heading out the door. Good to see them all, if only for a few minutes. The last visit was to the Pellegrinis - Ray and Lucy both look like they are doing very well. Lucy even surprised us with a LucyCake. I said there was no way she had planned to give us that, since she had no way of knowing we'd stop by. She claimed she had wanted to get it to us, but just didn't know how. I said I would not take a cake that was really theirs. Then she ordered me to take it, and you don't disobey Big Red. The cake was delicious. Then we drove 5 hours in the freezing rain and slush to Portland.

Beth & Ryan arrived the next day, Christmas Eve. Mom & Dad's new place is great, but 6 people is pushing the capacity a bit. And later in the week, our godparents Dan & Linda stayed there a few nights, which made it ... cozy.

Christmas was very different, but still very good. Things got started around 7 or so, everyone going through their stockings. Dad got Dan & Linda from their B&B around 9, then we did breakfast followed by presents. We've never done that. It felt weird. Lots of great gifts: I got homemade socks, a Virginia Atlas and Gazeteer, 3 new prints of Chris's photos, some great books, new slippers, a Coast Guard tartan shirt, and "JingEling 2," featuring parody movie previews, as well as DVD copies of all the plays and musicals I did back in grade and high school.

People were coming and going the rest of the week: Mom & Dad had work, Beth & Ryan visited her family and some of their friends in other parts of Maine, etc. We saw Syriana, ate out at Ri-Ra's on the Portland waterfront, I checked out a great little used book store off Longfellow Square. Cool Dan, Beth & Ryan, and I tried to get some excercise in at the YMCA, but were not entirely successful. The plan was to swim, so we just brought swim gear. Unfortunately, the pool was taken over for swim practice 15 minutes after we got in. Ryan kicked my ass in a 25 meter freestyle AND can swim farther underwater on a single breath. We also had breakfast out one day at the Portland Street Diner, went up to LL Bean to use Dad's discount, and celebrated Chris's birthday with pizza and dulce de leche cheesecake, as well as a SpongeBob pinata that Beth & Ryan bought.

Leaving was difficult for all of us, since it's been about a year since we've all been together for more than a day. But we said our goodbyes, and Beth & Ryan drove me back to Boston. We didn't have much time in the Hub, since we had to return the rental car, get a late lunch, then ride the T to Logan so I could make my flight. I got a little rushed in the security line, and barely had a chance to hug Ryan goodbye, and missed Beth entirely.

I started feeling a little sick the next day, New Year's Eve, so I stayed in instead of going to Ian & Jane's big party. That was a disappointment. I rallied the next morning to go to brunch at FireFlies with Ian & Jane, her brother Sonny, and Steph & Aaron. Good food, bluegrass music, and great company. Steph even gave me leftover chocolate cake and raspberry sauce she made. Delicious. It sounds like everyone had great vacations, both here and up in Jay. I'm really glad we were able to get together, and I hope everyone else enjoyed themselves as I did. However, only a few hours later I was very sick again. I felt nauseous, I had a horrible headache, my whole body felt weak. I almost fell in the kitchen when I tried to get a warm towel to press to my forehead, and had to lie down on the floor for some time. I don't know how long, but the towel was quite cold by the time I crawled up to bed. I feel much better now, though.

Now it's back to work. Drag.

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