Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Blast from the Past

Thanksgiving, 2002

Dramatis personae

The Narrator
Paula, my Godchild, three days a mother and Thanksgiving Day hostess
Marc, her husband
Megan, the newborn
Nancy, my sister, Paula's mother
Paul, her husband
Susan, their daughter and my niece
Erin Kate, my daughter
The Visiting Nurse
Maushop, the yellow Lab
The Grammy, mother to Nancy and me, grandmother to Paula, Susan, and Erin Kate

Paula gives birth to her first child, Megan, a few weeks ahead of schedule. She insists that she will host her first Thanksgiving dinner in her new house, regardless.

Baby Megan develops a mild case of jaundice. She will need to spend time in a glowing bilirubin blanket when she goes home from the hospital. Paula continues to insist upon hosting the family gathering in her Hanover home.

Wednesday Evening
Susan drops off a brand new Thanksgiving outfit for the Grammy at River Bay Club, the Assisted Living facility in Quincy. Heavy snow begins.

Thanksgiving Day—The Voyage
Quincy, 10 AM
Eight inches of snow has fallen overnight. I attend the Quincy v. N. Quincy football game. My team loses. It is a foreboding sign.

Quincy, 11 AM
Two River Bay attendants manage to get the rather immobile Grammy into her new outfit.

Hanover, 12 PM
Family members begin to arrive at Paula’s house. Nancy and Susan have taken over much of the meal preparation duties.

Quincy, 12 PM
I arrive at River Bay Club. It has fallen to me to transport the considerably immobile Grammy to Hanover, approximately 12 miles. The Grammy is sitting in a chair wearing her new outfit. She announces that she has waited too long to pee, and if she moves, she will wet herself. I summon the attendants, who help her from the chair. The Grammy has predicted correctly.

Hanover, 12:30 PM
A Visiting Nurse arrives to demonstrate the use of the bilirubin blanket.

Quincy, 12:30 PM
The attendants have washed and changed the Grammy. I maneuver her downstairs via wheelchair and into the car. As I heft her into the passenger seat, the protective plastic is pushed aside by her rump.

Quincy, 12:34 PM
The Grammy announces that she has to pee again. We have driven one mile. She will continue to make this announcement every thirty seconds for the entire 12-mile trip. She has refused to wear a Depends, because they are for old people. She is 80.

Hanover, 12:45 PM (Inside)
The visiting nurse begins the bilirubin blanket demonstration. All present are in rapt concentration.

Hanover, 1:05 PM (Outside)
I pull into the driveway, confident that relatives will come streaming from the house to help maneuver the heavy and almost immobile Grammy into the house. No one comes out. As I try to shuck the Grammy from the shell of the car, she announces that she is "leaking". The brick walk is dappled with patches of snow. The chill factor is 0 degrees. I walk backwards, supporting the Grammy as we slowly totter toward the door, a grotesque slow-motion tango on the treacherous walk.

Hanover, 1:10 PM (Inside)
Everyone is absorbed in the visiting nurse’s demonstration. The doorbell begins to ring wildly and continuously. Susan wonders, "Who the h--- is that?"

Hanover, 1:10 PM (Outside)
I am holding up the collapsing, tinkling Grammy with one hand and frantically ringing the doorbell with the other. I wonder, "Where the f--- are they all?"

Hanover, 1:11 PM
The door opens. All becomes clear. Maushop begins barking ecstatically, doing his Happy Dance of Greeting, blocking the doorway.

Thanksgiving Day—the Dinner

1:15 PM
Susan and Erin Kate maneuver the Grammy into the bathroom for salvage operations. She emerges 15 minutes later in her emergency outfit, her third change of clothes in less than two hours. "When do we eat?" she asks.

2:00 PM
The family sits down to a sumptuous meal. The Grammy, as has become her habit, begins to load her plate with food and to eat before others are even seated.

2:02 PM
Marc, deeply affected by his first Thanksgiving as a father, begins to say Grace. He is unfazed by the loud bovine munching sounds in the background. His first heartfelt sentence is punctuated by the Grammy, announcing, "Gravy! I need gravy!" After his second sentence, his usually demure bride blurts out, "That’s enough! I’m hormonal! I just wanna eat!"

2:45 PM
The main course is complete. Susan and Erin Kate take the Grammy on a pre-emptive bathroom run. We are out of Grammy outfits.

3:00 PM
The Grammy enters the kitchen on the arms of Susan and Erin Kate. She announces, "I think I may throw up." And she does, in projectile fashion, her entire Thanksgiving dinner. Susan is a victim of the sidestream. Nancy catches most of the outflow in the empty mashed potato pot. I catch the second wave in a plastic pie-plate cover.

3:15 PM
The Grammy announces that she now has lots of room for dessert. She eats three pieces of pie—lemon meringue, pecan, and squash, all "slivers".

3:40 PM
John, younger brother to Nancy and me, calls from Washington, DC. The Grammy tells us that it’s nice that at least one of her children is thoughtful. She then tells her favorite Thanksgiving story, about how I ruined Thanksgiving dinner when I was eight. She tells it every year. My crime? I was sent to the store to buy cranberry sauce, and I came home with whole berry instead of jellied.

4:00 PM
The Grammy is exhausted and wants to go home. This time, she is escorted to the car by something resembling a rugby scrum. We discover that the RAV4’s passenger door lock is frozen from being open so long duringthe unloading. We have to tie the door closed with rope.

4:00-4:30 PM
I drive the Grammy home. With every left turn, the door opens about an inch, and she yells, "I’m falling out of the car!"

4:45 PM
The Grammy is safely ensconced back in River Bay Club. "Who’s doing Christmas dinner?" she asks.

Welcome, Ryan

There are few better feelings in the world than holding a new
grandchild. Ryan Thomas McShane arrived on his due date.

The proud parents, Matt and Christine
Evan is just loving his new role as a big brother.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Gratuitous Vacation Photographs

Waquoit Bay jetties, with Martha's Vineyard on the horizon

Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard

Rose hips, rosa rugosa, South Cape Beach Reservation

Merlot grapes, Cape Cod Winery, Falmouth

Popponesset 2010

Due to popular demand, we expanded the Popponesset vacation to two weeks this year. At various times, the cottage was host to Matt, Christine, Evan, Erin, Boss, Joan, Conor, Sarah, and Oey (who received the Capey moniker "Oyster". Mid-way through week 2, we left the house in the care of Stacy and the kids, and she in turn hosted two families on her own.

Kathy in the Offshore Brewhaus, Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard

Conor and Oyster, Shuckers World Famous Raw Bar, Wood's Hole

Kathy and Paul at the obelisk, Wood's Hole

Each successive group of visitors had their favorite activities to pursue. Erin, Matt, Christine, and Evan sandwiched a pool party at Nancy and Paul's between two days of beaching. Joan and Boss were on the ferry to Martha's Vineyard an hour after arriving. Conor  liked the pubs and restaurants, and Sarah liked the shopping and hiking trails (Oyster did it all). When Stacy arrived, the kids headed for the pool and playground, but she expanded their repertoire to South Cape Beach and the beach at John's Pond (there are also rumors that she broke the lobster roll record at the Raw Bar in Popponesset Marketplace).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July 4, Bethany Beach

We woke up on Independence Day to find the salt pond aglow, the promise of a perfect day on Bethany Beach.

We had Umbrella Row set up by 10 AM. Sister-in-law Kathy, a CEO, doesn't have a lot of leisure time, so she knows how to make the most of it.

 After a day at the beach and perhaps a taste of Myers black rum, the McShane brothers decided to kick back on the deck for a while.

We had dinner at a new bistro in Ocean View called The Cafe on 26. As the birthday boy, I was treated to beef bourguignon and a healthy tumbler of  The Macallan single malt. Then we settled back on the deck  for the fireworks--the salt pond was aglow for a second time.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tavernier Nuptuals

Kathy and I exchanged vows on the sand in the shade of a palm tree. Brenda Cockrell officiated.

According to a Keys tradition, the rings are placed in a shell containing Key West sand.

The guests were not shy about joining Captain Josh on his repertoire of Jimmy Buffet songs, nor about dancing a conga line around the pool.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Key West Quest

The ride from Key Largo to Key West takes about 2 hours, but we all felt it was something we wanted to do. It was more than worth it, with ocean and bay vistas much of the way.

We stopped at the Parrotdise Waterfront Bar and Grill in Little Torch Key for lunch. Nobody had the featured wine (see sign); we opted instead for a round of Key West Sunset Ale. We learned from the owner that lower keys people regard anyplace north of the Seven Mile Bridge as the mainland.

We found a parking space not far from the madding crowd at Mallory Square, the center of Key West's tourist area.

The downtown area is full of colorful shops, restaurants, and sidewalk bars. One of Key West's mottoes is "a small town with a big drinking problem." The three huge cruise ships in port added to the throng.

As Kathy and I passed Irish Kevin's, the entertainer spotted us from the stage. "Hey, Michael McDonald," he bellowed, "bring her in here and we'll get her good and shitfaced." That's why everyone is looking at us.

We were apparently being stalked by pirates. Avast, ye scurvy knaves!

Another obligatory stop: the southernmost point. You can practically smell the cigars across the strait.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pre-Cana Reef Fishing

On Wednesday, February 10, the male members of the Keys wedding contingent went on a fishing trip aboard the SOZ, docked at Sundowner's Marina in Key Largo.

The weather was less than ideal. We all hoped that Mark, the only midwesterner, had taken his Dramamine. We headed through a waterway and a channel through the mangroves, stopping to catch some pinfish for bait along the way.

Out on the shadow reefs, we caught a variety of snappers: a bunch of small yellowtail, mangrove, and some big mutton snapper that we kept for the grill. We tried to get Boss to give this one a kiss.

Late in the morning, brother-in-law Paul hooked into a real rod-bender that struggled to find some underwater structure to break the line. "25 pound grouper," I said aloud.

It was a 25 lb. grouper. This fish would have fed the entire company, but due to a recent restriction on grouper fishing, we had to release it.

My brother John is known for his bad fishing mojo. When he hooked into a good fish, we all hoped he could reverse the curse.

And he did! He giddily displays a fat black grouper that we dutifully released.

Everyone having caught fish, we headed back to port through the mangrove channel.

Dinner that evening would consist of mutton snapper grilled three ways: lemon pepper, horseradish, or blackened.

John and I did some serious fish-grilling after dark out by the cabana.