I have returned. What an interesting trip, which is a nice way of saying that it had good times, bad times, drama, and even comedy. Of course that's what always happens when you see family, right? We ended up spending more time in Connecticut then New York, but it was worth it. So let's hit the highlights:
My Father: You remember him. The man who may or may not be a secret agent. Well first of all, today is his birthday, so happy birthday Dad! My father was the source of the trip's funniest moment. You see, he's been working very hard on prepping his classes for the new school year (you'll recall he's a professor) as well as keeping up with his other ventures. So, he wanted some ice cream for nice break. Well, my wife and I were heading out to pick up dinner for the whole family, so he tagged along in order to get his, "chocolate ice cream with chocolate sprinkles." There is a little ice cream shoppe on the way to the pizza parlor, so we stopped. It was warm, and there were a great deal of people in line to get their frozen treats. One group waiting was a bunch of mentally challenged kids from a nearby camp. Extremely excited about ice cream, the kids were happily waiting in line and singing and laughing. Well, my father wanted that ice cream, so he walked in, looked around, and when he heard them ask for the next person in line, he stepped up to the counter in front of all those kids and ordered his ice cream. My wife, the good midwesterner, was shocked and turned red with embarrassment. The kids didn't really seem to notice, but the counselors did.
Later that night, as we sat around dinner, I recounted this story to my family. Here was a distinguished professor of history pushing mentally challenged kids out of the way in order to get ice cream. It would have been funnier if it had been some captain of industry. (Lee Iacocca pushes little kid out of the way in order to get hot dog...FILM AT 11!)
My Sister and My Neice: My sister is moving to a house in Connecticut. This was the true point of my trip. My wife and I are somewhat savvy when it comes to carpentry and other home improvement aspects. The house my sister is moving into is from the early 20th century (maybe 1907 or 08). It needed some work. My job, beyond moving boxes and such, was to repaint the outside of the house, which I did. However, we should begin in New York with the moving company.
Leaving her apartment in NY was tough for my sister, but she believes that her daughter should be raised outside of Manhattan. So to get her (and some of my parents') stuff up to Connecticut, they hired Moishe's Moving Company. Now the funny thing about Moishe's is that here is a company with an incredibly Jewish name and out of the truck came a Hispanic crew. It was strangely funny. Only one guy spoke English which meant that my rudimentary Spanish came in handy.
My neice, who loves people, flirted with every single one of the guys. If she dropped her pacifier, they would drop the box they were carrying and get it for her. (Who says women don't have power?) When they arrived in CT, the guys wanted to see her. They asked about her. It was cute (and slightly creepy).
Back to the house, however. It needed some work. I spent an hour scrapping off old paint from just one side of the house, then I had to prime it. When I finally could paint the house with the color we matched, it was after 9 PM. There are no lights outside the house, and it is in the middle of a forest. Thus, armed with painting equipment and a flashlight, I figured out how to do it. I held the flashlight in place using my shoulder and neck, then I started painting. While I doing that, my wife and my mother were cleaning the entire house (which looked like it hadn't been touch since 1907)from top to bottom. If I were a little kid again, I would love this place. It's in the forest, it has a huge lawn area, and it has all these hiding places and nooks in it. It's perfect for a kid.
I wish my sister and my neice the best of luck and happiness in this new place. I think that as soon as you can make it your own (meaning live in it for a while) you'll love it.