Dec 22

I fixed a thing, we ran some, and did other things

I decided to try to get cool son-in-law points this weekend. My mother-in-law had grown frustrated by a leaking kitchen sink. They’d had a plumber out, but that hadn’t worked. So I said, “Let me go get, and install, a new faucet for you.” The old one was, well, old. And they have weird water, so a new fixture wasn’t uncalled for.

It went like this. I went to Lowe’s. Found a faucet. I purchased some other things because my in-laws don’t have the widest array of tools on hand. I took half the old faucet out and realized I didn’t get a big enough crescent wrench. Grrrr. Having failed at my first goal of going to one hardware store for this project, we went to Walmart and got some more crescent wrenches. And then I labored at the silly old faucet and it’s decades old components for a good long while.

Finally, the new one went in, but I kept running into a leak from the supply hose. The cold one was fine, the hot supply line was a spraying mess. I tried, oh how I tried, to make it work. After a late lunch I, grrrrrrrrr, went to the local small hardware store for new supply hoses. A guy walked me right to them and, showing the amount of studied disinterest that indicates he’s almost ready to work at Home Depot, he showed me the many size options available. I took the most likely candidates and then I asked the guy “Why do you suppose this one is leaking?

The old one was a plastic-rubber style, popular in the 1980s or so. It was undamaged. He looked down the hose. “No rubber seal.” I showed him the old cold supply hose. It worked just fine. He glanced at it, turned and walked away mumbling, “I don’t know.”

This guy need to be wearing a vest in a big box store, ASAP.

Anyway, we got the sink working. It does not spray under the cabinet. It does not drip when she turns it off. My mother-in-law is very pleased. Despite that project dragging on way longer than it should, and longer than I’d promised, I think I might be the number one son-in-law now.

We went for a run, just before darkness fell.

We had great sunset views along the beach for one of our favorite 5Ks.

But then, when the sun went down, it went down quick.

On the far off, westernmost point over the sound we saw the sun go down. It turned dark before I could get there, despite an almost-sprint to make it to the beach. But imagine about two thirds of this amount of sky in that brilliant red.

Also today The Yankee got her mother’s new iPad set up. And, tonight, she digitized all of their old slides using a machine I picked up this year. There’s 1,100 of them, all sitting on an SD card, and in the cloud, and in all of those carousels. We looked at the first several hundred of them on their TV this evening. Their daughter was a really cute kid.

Dec 22

Merry Christmas




Dec 22

Brick Christmas

Today we’re in New Jersey. Us and the cold — and I know no one shivering wants to read about that. We’ve been lucky with the weather all the way around. Oh, it’s cold, but it’s as cold or colder everywhere else. And we’ve only seen flurries. And where we are, in New Jersey, everyone has power.

Christmas in New Jersey is with my lovely bride’s god parents. My god parents-in-law, if you will. There were only 10 of us there today, where there are usually 15. But the day, which is always great fun, goes like this.

You go inside and up the stairs, hugs and handshakes, and then you look for the pickle. The Christmas pickle is a lesser known tradition. Seems to stem from some Germanic origin, or late 19th century marketing. (And if I had a nickel for every time something without a clear provenance was possibly attributed to those two things … )

This tree has two pickles on it, and if you find them, you are due a year of good fortune. Everyone always finds both pickles. That’s family for you.

I also spend a few minutes studying all of the other ornaments. The godparents-in-law have an interesting collection.

There are hor’dourves. After your first experience with this particular party’s habits, you know precisely where to sit. And, of course, they changed up which end of the table would have the shrimp. I was out of position. There are presents, one person at a time, youngest to oldest. I’m sixth of the 10 present today, so I’m above the mean and the median. Yikes.

(When all 15 people are here, I sit 10th.)

Later there’s a lasagna dinner, which is one of the highlights of the Christmas season. My godfather-in-law is a third generation Italian immigrant, and he knows what he’s doing. And we all love him for it. My mother-in-law always brings the Christmas Crackers, a thing which I’d never known about until my first Brick Christmas in the oughts. This year’s Crackers had some bad puns and good trivia. We all took turn reading those.

After dessert one of the kids suggested the board game Blank Slate. Never heard of it. Had a blast. Everyone did, old and young.

And that’s Brick Christmas, it’s always great fun for everyone.

We’re staying in New Jersey tonight. Pull out bed in the downstairs den. I fear that my back will never be the same.

Dec 22

Yet another travel day

We woke up early enough this morning to take a little bike room. So there we were in the bike room, pedaling away, thinking about what was upstairs, not getting packed. But I got in 25 miles — which was great!

This was my first ride in a week, and my last ride for a week. Meanwhile, the calendar keeps churning and my yearly mileage record is still out there, waiting to be met.

I should make it, but probably not by much.

Couldn’t do more than 25 miles today, and let me just say, he wrote, that based on how the rest of the morning and early afternoon developed, I did not have time to do 30, or even 27 miles. The day was perfectly, accidentally, plotted out.

We got cleaned up and finished packing. I loaded the car and drove us to the airport. We made it through security and down to our gate with no incident, having left the house six minutes later than we wanted, but with no stress on time.

(Let’s see if we can do that the next two or four times in a row before it’s worth really remarking on, though.)

Anyway, to Delta, and a plane that winged us away to LaGuardia Airport. Here we are flying into Queens now.

They’ve been working on LaGuardia, an $8 billion renovation, since 2016. The terminal we flew into today opened last June. And they’re now nearing the completion of this whole project. Joe Biden, then the vice president, famously said the old airport belonged to a “third-world country” and the mid-project experience was none better. But now, here we are, the airport the New York media is calling the first new major airport built in the United States in the last 25 years.

What is not be available: mass transit.

Can you believe that?

Getting to the rental car companies is no easier. Landing at Terminal C there is sometimes a shuttle to Terminal A. From Terminal A you’d have to take a second bus to the car rental people, who are off the premises. Or you could walk. It is not, repeat, not, conducive to walking. This whole design is as naively 20th century New World as can be.

We took an Uber, instead. Two, actually, because we got in the wrong car the first time.

There’s egg on my face but, hey, it’s in your car, lady, and not mine.

So we got the car and then drove toward our next stop: Pennsylvania.

At a key moment on the two-hour plus drive (about the same amount of time as the flight, I think) The Yankee noted that we have been in seven states in 36 hours. It was then that I decided to tally up our travel mileage this holiday season.

We had dinner with her god-sister’s family. We spent the evening playing card games with their daughters. It’s fun watching them grow up, and it’s a special treat to be able to spend this time with them.

This is their oldest, when she was about a year old, in 2009.

Tonight we were talking about colleges. She’s brilliant, I’m surprised we weren’t talking about graduate programs.

Both of those kids beat me up playing cards, so if that’s any indication …

Dec 22

Early holidays

We are enjoying an early Christmas in Alabama, where the sky is blue …

… and the present of choice is quality time. After church yesterday, we had an afternoon with family. Lunch, presents, dominos. The food was good, the presents were simple and The Yankee and I got crushed at dominos by my mother and grandfather.

I think he’s a ringer.

And, oh, how they delight in beating us. We play this game every visit, now, and I think we’ve won one game, perhaps two. Definitely no more than that.

My grandfather and I got matching novelty ties from my mother.

This glittery, oversized, ridiculous tie-shaped material is on a loop of elastic, is in no way a tie and, given how often you’d have occasion to wear such a thing, ought to last me eight or nine years.

Also, the rare food photo. Saturday she made a chicken pot pie. It had an expression, right until I stabbed it in the eye.

Ran a few errands today. Bank, post office, another bank. There are always banks. The Yankee and I went for a run at the nearby high school. Well, she ran. There’s a track around their practice football field and someone left a football on the field, so I just worked on my punts. Ya know, in case it ever comes up that someone needs an emergency punter and they somehow lose the phone number of every punter in the world.

The good news is that I can still punt my age in yardage — but only just! — the bad news is that you may as well be kicking field goals for all the good I’d do you. Also, I was doing this in running shoes, rather than cleats. So add on a few yards, and let’s all pretend I’m still young. I am still young.

Anyway, everyone is well here. We’re having a lovely time and I’ve only had to climb up a ladder three times and do just a few light chores to help out. I always suggest the making of a list, let me know if I should bring some work clothes or some special tool or whatever, but I got off easy this time.

It really is Christmas! (And the real gift is quality time.)

We have to leave tomorrow, as our travels continue, and the weather is coming in. Our time to visit is short, but our visit is wonderful.

I hope the most appropriate part of that sentence for your holidays applies as necessary.