We decided to take my Dad to Ohio for the weekend - for a couple reasons cuz living on a teeny, tiny, itsy bitsy island he never gets to drive anywhere - so he kind of liked the road trip. Janice thought it would be fun for him to get to go to Cabellas (a outdoorsman store the size of 2 million football fields), and we also thought we might be able to fit in the Fords Museum - which is super cool. Unfortunately we didn't manage the museum - but we had a really nice weekend. And I had no computer...excuses, excuses.
Since we were gonna stay there two nights we decided to bring the wieny along... I still can't get over how good she is in the car. I mean she pretty much wants to look at everything for the first quarter of an hour - and then she just snuggles up under a blanket and sleeps. Ok - I do the same thing too, so perhaps it's genetic. Actually road trips for Rich are a double edged sword - on the negative side he has to drive for like three hours... on the positive side I am instantly catatonic and he manages to get peace and quiet for three hours.
Not so on this particular trip though... since we had the Sirius radio in the car and Dad discovered the Showtunes station. Which allowed Saul three hours of uninterrupted Broadway songs to complete make up all the lyrics too. Usually Dad's lyrics go something like this: (for instance 'memory' from Cats: "Memory... I'm alone in the carwash...and the kittens are spraying...and the leaves are alone". But he sings it with great commitment. In fact, it took five and half total driving hours (it was on the journey BACK) but for the first time in my entire life he actually did manage to get TWO complete stanzas correct. Astoundingly he actually a lengthy stretch of "Darling Eileen" from Wonderful Town without making up ANYTHING. You have no idea how great of an achievement this is for Saul. It's like as momentous as getting Cathy Rigby to accept that at age 84 you can't really convince anyone you're a ten year old boy who can fly.
Anyway - apart from the Pack Leader - who had to drive all that way and back - the trip was very restful. After Dad leaves I'm laying down a moratorium and unplugging his computer, his phone...I'm even unplugging Po... and he's gonna sleep IN. And now that the apartment is more than liveable (quite nice, thank 'e very much) we're going to officially take one day off a week so that he can recharge. One member of the family already has this under control:
Anyway - the trip was really nice - Janice made my favorite Najuch meal - un-stuffed shrimp. (Ok, see it's SUPPOSED to be stuffed - but she just sort of bakes the stuffing WITH it - so it's not REALLY stuffed shrimp...it's kind of insulated shrimp or something...but it's AMAZING). I think that Bob enjoyed getting to tell my Dad 'great white hunter' stories... And Chuck was admired greatly. Apparently there is a moose lottery for the moose hunting season... see so many people want to hunt moose that they have to draw names from a lottery. Bob wanted Janice to sign up for the lottery - so he'd have an extra chance at getting picked...but that would involve Janice standing out in miserable weather for hours on end waiting and waiting. Which she does every weekend golfing anyway - but maybe it's different somehow. Anyway - Janice ixnayed the idea. Now, see, I am not a big advocate of stuffing things...but I WOULD LOVE love love love to have a moose head. I think they are about the coolest thing in the universe (it's probably some sort o Bear Country Jamboree residual childhood fascination). I would actually like one of the fake ones they have in Abercrombie Stores - but sadly they don't sell them off the rack. So ANYWAY - of all the kind of hunters, I think Bob is the best kind... since he PERSONALLY eats like every itty bitty morsel of what he kills. Which is why for the past year Janice has been eating Chuck the Buck. Chuck steak, Chuck Hash, Chuck Sausage, Chuck Stew, Chuck Cereal. So, basically getting mad at Bob for hunting is like getting mad at a lion for jumping a zebra. Except I think the lion actually leaves MORE behind uneaten than Bob. So - I thought if I signed up for the lottery - then if Bob managed to bag a moose, I could get the head stuffed (if it was a female because a boy is tooooo big) and then Bob could eat the moose. In fact, he'd probably come up with a way to make Moose Mousse. With Salsa. Now there is one drawback to this for bob. He would have to sit for about twelve hours alone in a forest with me. Attempting to be absolutely silent. I think we all, in this case, when it comes to me or the moose...who's gonna get shot first.
So the big trip of the weekend was up to Michigan to Cabellas. I don't know if you know what Cabella's is...but it's like a fisherman/hunters Disneyland. It's like INSANE. It has a mountain inside...like a full scale mountain with a zillion stuffed game animals cavorting around it... an aquarium...a trout pond... a snack bar. In fact if you ever wondered where the Country Bears ended up... they're probably here on a wall someplace.
I mean you can't even fit the whole thing in the camera frame...but it's 360 degrees. With a waterfall. In a SPORTING GOODS STORE!!! See the idea is, it's somewhere that a Dad can take his young kids and let them run around looking at critters for hours while he gets to look at fishing stuff. Or, I can take MY dad and let him run around looking at fishing stuff while I run around looking at critters... And as you can see, the apple doesn't fall toooooooo far from tree. Ok... next county. State. Ok the apple started in Nebraska and it ended up in Denmark.
Like we spent hours in this place. Like almost as many hours as we spend at Lowes. After a whole lot of brow beating, emotional blackmail, and me screaming "this is the biggest freaking sporting goods store in the entire universe and we drove four and half miles to get here and you'll never get to come here again and if you don't pick out something for christmas then that mountain is going to have ONE EXTRA stuffed TURKEY".... My dad managed to finally agree to pick out a fishing rod and reel. Amen. See my Dad starts out saying "I don't need anything.... I don't need anything" And then after you pummel him to death he admits something tiny like "oh well all my fishing equipment got STOLEN a few weeks ago". Yeesh. So anyway - it was fun for him to putter around looking at the guy stuff.
But we managed to keep ourselves entertained....
Of course the alternate caption for that, for all my British friends... "Camp as a row of tents".
I mean the crazy thing is... between coercing Dad into picking something out, looking at stuffed things, and trying to find some cozy winter wear for my Mom for xmas (yes mom, I know the only thing you want for Xmas is ice tea. - no people...really...that's what she says. Ice Tea. Welcome to my world)... I actually RAN OUT OF TIME. After three hours. I didn't get to look at the xmas stuff (which is always kind of kitchy and fun there) before it was time to head back home for dinner. Cuz we also needed to hit a Sams Club to buy the bulk rolls of christmas wrap ribbon for my Mom. Since in Bermuda three feet of ribbon costs about three thousand dollars. Seriously, even though the weekend was spent doing insane things like buying jars of ice tea...it makes sense to people who are used to be stuck on the island. A) the cost difference is huge (one year our Xmas turkey actually cost over a hundred dollars)... and B) there's just to real consumer choice there. The don't have department stores...or chain stores or anything. So. My Dad now has a suitcase full of ziplock bags full of ice tea granules. So I hope the drug-sniffing dogs don't like Lipton....because if you ask me the ziploc bags full of brown stuff DON'T lOOK GOOD coming through customs. And "my wife asked me to bring back twenty jars of ice tea"... no matter how true...doesn't sound like the most lucid explanation during the strip and cavity search.
So the weekend trip was lots of fun. We got a lot of my Mom's to-do list taken care of... including Rich and my Xmas gift...we decided we wanted a pie-fighting pressie... so we're getting an elliptical machine. Which Jean Anne is very excited about (probably because she thinks it means she'll be able to sell me MORE pie if I can work it off :) ) We got it at this huge sports chain store called Dicks. Which, involved some minor hilarity for the Jo Jo in the car as Janice and Saul had discussions like this:
"Look at the size of that Dicks" "Yeah...those Dicks are huge".
I can't make this crap up people. I wish I could.
Anyway - so after elliptical-ing on sixty different machines like a lunatic I finally picked one out. See, I didn't KNOW that they have different strides. From 14 inches to 20 inches. The twenty inch stride feels like you're attempting to either do an imitation of a gazelle OR leap small buildings in a single bound. And the 14 inch one is too small to really get any oomph so you kind of use your back too much. Which I can't do. So we settled on 18 inches. So I went to a store called Dicks and picked out an eighteen incher. This is what makes America great. Seriously - this thing is soooo nice, and combined with the weight machine the pack leader got on ebay, we should be able to actually make some real attempt after the holidays to get back to the way we were in the years B.C. (Before Cheesecake).
While we were at the Najuch's Dad even helped polish off a little Chuck for dinner... which I think endeared him to Janice. Cuz every bite someone else takes of chuck, is another bite closer to her getting to eat an actual cow again.
So we had a shopping date with Jean Anne to go to Indy the next morning, so we headed out super early. Jean Anne had liked planned this trip with us for like a week and arranged to get away from Nicks and everything... but we were like zombies. So when she saw the bags under our eyes she suggested we go to Fort Wayne instead. Which we did. Cuz we HAD to go out with her... cuz look how purty she looked:
We also made it up to her by going somewhere fancy-schmancy for lunch, which was a lot of fun too. Poor Jean Anne kind of went glassy eyed for a while watching my father and I interact while shopping AND trying to shop for my Mom. And usually we end up resorting to calling her. She also managed to get in a little shopping too... which I found a nice change. For instance, when shopping for my Mom I don't usually get to go "Oo, oo this is perfect... it has LOTS of skulls!". So it was a welcome change of pace. :)
Oh I forgot to tell you a story about the first five minutes Dad was here.... He goes into Rich's office during the grand tour, and, after only being in the building less than 500 seconds he WHACKS his head against the giant iron I beam which runs along Rich's doorway. Dad's first construction advice to us was: "Why don't we cut that out". "Well, Saul it's structural". "Ok... well you can use a bigger saw".
So in the first ten minutes basically my Father would have made a construction decision which would have made the entire building collapse. But really, I mean what do you expect...the last great Jewish carpenter was...well...Jesus. And even he changed careers. So, when you consider that I am the genetic offspring of a father who wants to saw out a two foot thick iron support beam, and a woman who takes twenty seven years to find a new living room sofa... I'm actually not DOING THAT BAD in terms of progress. Like if you consider that I'm trying to keep up with Team Najuch...really....it's like calculating a handicap for Tiger Woods playing with - well - Stephen Hawking.
Oh - and I also forgot to tell you a funny story about our Huntington Museum hopping. See, Rose at the Visitors Center was like amazingly super-cool and made us up this whole fun to-do package for when my Dad was here. And, we actually managed to DO some of it too! It was like this folder of brochures and maps and info and stuff...and she also gave us a bunch of nifty coupons for a lot of the museums and things in the local area. So we go to the Wildlife Museum and give the admissions lady our discount coupons and she goes "oohhh now I've never seen these before. Where did these come from?" And we tell her Rose at the Visitor's Center. So she says "Oh, well, if there from Rose I'm sure they are fine." Then we go to the Huntington Historical Museum and give the lady our coupons. "Oh my. I've never seen these before. Where did you get these things?" "Um, Rose at the visitor's center". "Ohhhh...wellll...Ok. I didn't know these existed...but if they're from ROSE I'm sure they're ok".
So - this means one of several things. A) Not enough people utilize Rose and her ultimate cosmic power at the Visitors Center NEARLY enough. Or, the theory Rich and I much prefer, B) Rose sits in her office with Print Shop making up coupons when she's bored. For whatever she feels like. So when it was time to pay our income tax on the building on Tuesday I tried to convince Rich to make up a little coupon that says "Rose says we don't pay income tax this year", cuz I figured we'd hand it in at the courthouse and they clerk would go "hmmmm...well if it's from ROSE..." I also am considering "Free Shit Box from Ness Brothers". We'll see.
Anyway - So by the end of the day yesterday the shopping trip was successful enough that my Father was having cardiac arrest trying to figure out exactly HOW to pack his suitcase. Although, if dad had showed up with an empty suitcase and only purchased a Q Tip I think he'd still be worried about how to pack his suitcase. My Mom, however, can somehow manage to pack twelve sumo wrestlers, a giraffe, and an SUV. In her carry-on.
Tragically however, one of the items on the Donna-Sue shopping list will not be making an immediate departure for the island. See, mom wanted this sheepskin seat belt strap from Brookstone. And, having seen them now, they are actually really nice. And I'm sure they also make your shoulder very comfy. Everyone thought it was a great present. And by everyone...I mean EVERYONE.
I mean, honestly, it wasn't her fault. Dad put in on the fold out bed - which she has been sleeping on all week...and at first glance we ALL thought she had a toy. So if WE thought it looked like a toy...how was SHE supposed to know it wasn't. So - three cheers for brookstone.com and being able to order a quick replacement. Actually... we're getting two. Just in case. Whatever you say about us....we're not sheep-scates.
Dad really wanted to make a tangible hand-on contribution to the project, however. So today Rich and he tackled the half bath. Or, since it's for Janice, the HAAAHHHHHHF BAHHHHHTH, as I have christened it. It's a very tiny room so I, though devastated not to doing manual labor, bowed out of the activity and hung out a few feet away in my office designing our Xmas card. Which, I have to say kids, is pretty peach keen. When I described my idea to Rich he thought I was mental...but when he saw it today he kind of loved it - which makes the jo jo very happy.
The two of them actually did a great job..
And I even got to foam - and we all know how much I love spraying foam. See they drilled this big hole for the bathroom vent ("what?", you say. "But Joel...it was already a bathroom in a previous life, how could it NOT have a vent?" Yeah, not so much.) So the big whole, once the vent accordian-looking saran wrap lookin' pipe stuff was run through the giant hole... needed foamed. But the foam wasn't foaming because even though I had utilized Bob Tip #348 "put a nail at the end of your caulking type item so it doesn't dry out"...the foam tip was too long and it dried out even though there was a nail in the end. So... I had to.... FOAM WITH NO PIPE. This is like walking a tightrope with no net. If you fall and end up one giant mess...it's no one's fault but your own. After my last foaming disaster I was pretty nervous... but I used rubber gloves and managed to get more foam on the wall than on myself. So that's progress.
By the time the boys called it quits for the day they had installed new floor joists, put in plumbing stuff-type-items, installed the vent AND the subfloor...not bad, right?
Although it would have been great if they had finished the half bath completely - only so that I could use the old "lawyer flushed the toilet and it went to the suer" gag. Alas.
So they called it quits around dinner time... which had them falling short of my father's declaration that "by the end of the day I want a bathroom I can poop in". Nice.
Jean Anne wanted us to come to dinner at Nick's since she was having a big function there for ABWA (American Business Woman's Association) and it was like a thanksgiving dinner type of meal and there was gonna be extra. AND most importantly she was extremely perturbed that Dad was going to be leaving Indiana without having had a TENDERLOIN. And Rich and I like turkey and stuffing a lot - so we were golden. Jean Anne and I actually had run to Fort Wayne earlier in the day while the boys were working - cuz she had this 20 percent off coupon for Macy's that she let me use for a vest that I'd put on hold for my Dad the day before (cuz she didn't have the coupon then). The woman who waited on us yesterday and today was Mary Alice - which, as I informed her, was the BEST retail employee name EVER. Twenty points if you know WHY???? Because boys and girls in Pretty Woman when Richard Gere takes Julia Roberts shopping after she's been turned away, and they go into the store and have the suck-up salesman (Larry Miller), when they start the shopping Larry Miller calls the two sales assistants: "Mary Kate, Mary Alice...."
That's WHYYYYYY. Anyhoo... We picked up the vest. In the car we were talking about the food vendor that visited her at Nick's today and she asked me if I'd ever had Chicken and Dumplings. And I said "No, but I guess it's like Matzoh Ball soup, right? Wait...you've never had matzoh ball soup, have you?" And she said "No. And I'd never eaten Pinata either". I was very confused by this...until I realized that yesterday at the fancy restaurant I ordered a corn meal dish I really like and had her try (which actually was not nearly as good as I've had it elsewhere.. so I didn't win her over.) Anyway - Polenta. Not pinata. Pretty cute, right :) She swears polenta is the same thing as what midwesterners call "corn mush". So I shall have to investigate.
So anyhoo...we headed over to Nick's for DINNER. Now, Nicks normally closes at 2:00 pm so this was like a whole alternate universe night-time nicks experience. Jean Anne USED to be open at night (and actually had these little magnets printed up that said "Nicks at Nite". See why she likes me?
So Dad had his tenderloin. He loved it. And, I think he is possibly the first Jew to ever have a Pork Tenderloin at Nick's Kitchen. He might actuallly be the first Jew in NIck's kitchen. He might actually be the first Jew in Indiana.
So Dad gave it two thumbs up. Which, is a lot, considering that the original pork tenderloin maker 100 years ago had no thumbs at all. See "Nick" (like THE Nick) had a brother who got drunk and apparently passed out in the snow or something...and got frostbite. And they took him to blacksmith and the blacksmith had to cut off both his hands. So he had stumps. And then he discovered that the stumps were really good for tenderizing meat. So Nick's Kitchen in 100 years began with 2 stumps and tonight had 2 Frumps. Progress.
After we were through our meals we gabbed a while..and apparently, according to this photograph, the wood panelling must have made Dad think he was in the old west - cuz in this pic he totally looks like he thinks he's a gunslinger, right?
Dinner was awesome. And Dad is going back to Nicks in the morning before we take off for his flight at 5:00am to have his morning coffee with Cindy (who shows up that early to set up the restaurant for the day).
And that, will mark the end of Dad's visit. It's been really fun having him here and I think it's been really good for Rich and I to engage in activities that did not involve nails or goo for a change. So - even though we wish he could stay longer -
That's Saul She Wrote.
xo Jo Jo.