Boston Cousins, Don’t You Know

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July 15th 2018
Published: July 17th 2018
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We slept pretty good again, and again we awoke to the sun filtering in through our window overlooking the pool. I was hungry and looking forward to my omelet; and, I wasn’t disappointed. Sharon was pretty much looking forward to her scrambled eggs and roasted potato cubes which she’s been enjoying for a couple of days now; but, she was disappointed. Evidently, potatoes is a non-starter on Sundays. As expected, the central elevator is still non-operational… “They’re not going to fix it on the weekends.” Sharon Said so I said, “Well they might if they’re reading our blog!” We met a couple in the hall with a passel of kids and we noted, “It’s inconvenient about the elevators, isn’t it. They haven’t been working for several days now!” “That’s terrible,” she said. Then he added, “We were here last year and the central elevator wasn’t working then.” Good to know.

We checked the laundry on the way to breakfast, and there were machines available. We bought some soap and Bounty and got a roll of quarters. These machines are a bit pricy at $2 for wash and $2 for dry. I came back with our laundry and did everything in one of the three machines and washed everything in cold water. The wash takes 20 minutes, so I took the stairs both ways to save time… not so bad on the way down, but I certainly needed a rest after going up two flights of stairs. I camped in front of the TV and tuned into the Wimbledon men’s final. It had just started. I told Sharon when the wash would be done, and it was her assignment to start the dryer.

The men’s semi-finals were much more exciting, and Djokovic prevailed in three sets. Anderson had his chances in the third set but couldn’t convert any of his break-point chances, and in the end his serve failed him in the tie-breaker. As the match is nearing its end, Sharon giggles, “I beat you, I beat you!” and I hear a text message arrive informing me that she’s won today’s daily Sudoku challenge. Well, just wait until we get on board; although, I’m not sure that they still put them out on HAL cruises. Sharon doesn’t fair as well with pen and paper as stylus and tablet, chiefly because her way of marking is usually a hinderance on the usually easier HAL puzzles (albeit that they come from the New York Times).

Today we were meeting two more of Sharon’s cousins, Jack and Mary along with Mary’s boyfriend Mike. Sharon wanted to be sure that we arrived early, especially after we were so late last time due to our HO-HO tour the last time that we came to Boston in the pouring rain. As we went down center hallway, there was a cop and hotel front desk staff in the doorway of a guest who was having trouble understanding the questions posed by the cop. “Do you live here?” It seemed clear that she wasn’t supposed to still be here. She nodded. “Where do you live?” In a heavily Asian accent she replied “Singapore.” By then we were well out of earshot. Joe’s American Bar & Grill was just off the interstate a few miles from our hotel. We saw it from the freeway and crossed the bridge to get over to it once we exited the freeway. And we were half-an-hour early. Jack, Mary and Mike showed up before 12 noon as well. Jack and Mary are Sharon’s cousins, and the children of Sharon’s Aunt Flo who died a couple of years ago. Flo would always get Lobster Roll (without the roll), and indeed, that’s what I was leaning towards today (but with the roll).

Jack had just finished up organizing and running a charity golf tournament. It started out as a charity commemorating a friend of a friend of his who had passed away from melanoma. It has been going on now for twenty years, morphing somewhat from the original genesis, and now also commemorates their older brother Joe who passed away a few years ago. This year they’ve raised the most money in quite a while; but, it took a lot of Jack’s time to pull it off.

We told them about my mother who passed away recently at 87; but, who was active until the end. She had one friend in the independent living facility that she lived in Las Vegas who still walks one mile per day at 93. Mike noted that his mother still drives at 94; although, acknowledged that she just had a minor fender bender that he is fixing later today. Sharon told them about her charity work, both in Las Vegas, and remotely for her church back in Ohio.

We decided to start with a couple of appetizers, and Jack ordered “Joe’s Combo” and the “Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Flatbread”. The combo included fried mozzarella, corn chips, spinach and artichoke dip, calamari, buffalo chicken, marinara and ranch dressing. The flatbread was delicious, as was the combo. Sharon went with the Prime Rib French Dip (again) and the picture of the lobster roll looked really good, with large pieces of lobster and lemon chive mayo on a buttery toasted split bun. On my Lobster Roll, the mayo part was very subtle, and the roll was stuffed with large pieces of lobster, just as my “Connecticut Style” lobster roll in Salem two day ago had been; but, in this case the mayo and season did seem to add something to the overall experience. I had a tough time handling the sandwich and was trying to make so sure that I didn’t drop anything. It’s hard to eat one of these without letting some of the lobster spill off. I think I’ve mastered the technique of biting down from above to remove some of the burgeoning top-heavy lobster while retaining the split bun container that holds the rest. I’m probably making a fool of myself and the whole think is supposed to be eaten with a knife and fork and everybody is just too polite to tell me how it’s supposed to be eaten. I had about two-thirds of the roll successfully eaten when it happened. A large lobster claw slipped from its perch, hit the side of the tray and then bounced towards me, off my knee and onto the floor. And I had been so careful and come so close. I thought I was home free; but, I don’t think anyone noticed. ** Sigh! **

Sharon’s cousins gave us recommendations for parking tomorrow when we will be going whale watching. And they also gave us recommendations for when to leave to get there in time… It looks like we’ll need to get up early. Traffic may be lighter on Monday, they said, because in the summer people tend to take longer weekends. It’s funny how retirement can change a person: “Week – End”, what is that?

Everyone seemed to enjoy their food. This is the same restaurant chain that we met them at last time, but this one is in Woburn and two years ago we were in Boston. Mike’s fish and chips looked delicious and Mary’s sandwich was simply huge. And when all was said and done, we forgot not only to take pictures of the food; but, we forgot to take a group picture of us as well. Sharon couldn’t believe it, only realizing after we were driving away.

We went across the street to a Market Basket to stock up on water and snacks as the $85 we bought when we got here is nearly gone. And that included the mini woopie pies that Sharon added to the basket. This time our bill was just $25; but, we did slide in just under the 12-item limit for the Express Line which was fortunate because all the other lines had at least two very full carts waiting just to approach the register.

Back in our room we were happy to find out that the maid had a chance to cleanup our room. Yesterday, they were approaching our room when we returned, but we didn’t want to be disturbed so we put out the “Do Not Disturb” sign. I had forgotten that Sharon was going to a 6PM mass at a nearby church. We only had about an hour to kill.

I dropped Sharon off at the church and decided to go and get some gas. Then I decided to track down a Mickey-D’s and found one about one mile away. I went inside, and this one did offer a Smokehouse Bacon Artisan Grilled Chicken. I did look to see if this location was offering McLobsters; but, I hear that that is more a Maine-thing. The sandwich was as good as I remember from the location in Tustin a couple weeks back. Eating at McDonald’s reminds me of the “Mickey-D” questions in my HAL Trivia FAQ list. Things like, “On average, how many seeds are there on a Big Mac bun?” or “What country was the first to offer a ‘ski-thru’ lane for ordering and picking up food?” or “What brand in the 1990’s surpassed Coca-Cola as the most recognized brand in the world?” I’ll give you a clue, given what we’re talking about you better get this last one! As for the other two: You might expect to get 178 seeds on that Big Mac that you order in that McDonald’s with the first ski-thru lane in Sweden.

I returned to church, texted her to call when she got out, and told her I’d pick her up where I dropped her off. She said that the service was “very interesting” and hadn’t expected that mass would be held upstairs. When Sharon says that something is “very interesting” it’s not necessarily good; although, it doesn’t necessarily mean bad either. In this case she meant there were a few things different than what she was used to. She walked into the church building but couldn’t find the church part so finally asked a woman sitting on a bench who told her that it was upstairs. It was a very pretty church, St. Patrick’s Parish in Stoneham, with a lot of older woodwork and very nice stained-glass windows especially behind the altar. There were not many people there when she first arrived, but it filled up quite a bit by 6:00. Before each reading the Priest would return to the altar area and comment about the upcoming reading and the context for it which was actually very helpful just nothing Sharon had seen done before. Another different thing was that the announcements were read in the middle of the mass just after the Prayers for the Faithful. In the churches Sharon has attended they used to always be read at the end of mass but in Ohio they had started reading them at the beginning and currently in our Las Vegas parish they are done by video before mass.


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