Friday, July 16, 2010

Vacation: Day One

Smooth travel all in all. Weird getting a "pat-down" at O'Hare security. Even weirder was that a TSA lady sat nearby taking notes on every step of the pat-down. All I could imagine her writing was "From the look on this suspect's face, she thinks it's weird that I'm taking notes."

During a short, pretakeoff wait on the tarmac, Francoise and I opened a map of Virginia to discuss what we might want to do on our non-Monticello days. As the plane hurtled down the runway and took off, she and I then made comments indicating our jitters over the plane's rumbles and shudders and shakes. As we talked, I noticed a nearby man with a $200 haircut and professional manicure shaking his head in what I presumed was disbelief that hicks like us exist. Once we were at cruising altitude, he put an iPad on his tray table to read a book. He turned the pages with his little finger. We got the map out again to discuss Yorktown vs. Jamestown vs. Williamsburg.
After agreeing to decline (is that a double negative?) all the upcharges proposed by the car rental agent, we crept out of the airport in a PT Cruiser. At the counter I'd described it to Francoise as a "gangster car," and when she saw it, she was delighted to agree. We're pretty sure we're going to have fun with this car.
When we got to Joan's, she was doing her usual gourmet thing. Her wooden cutting board ~ the size of a door, for pete's sake ~ was filled with neat piles of chopped onions, Italian parsley, and fennel. Out came the spring greens. Joan asked John to whip up a vinaigrette from scratch. "What can I do to help?" I asked innocently. "Clean the mussels." Gulp. Joan told me to look for open ones, and then tap those on the counter; if they don't close up again, discard them. Francoise coached me on pulling their hardened drool off them. I wanted to be a good sport, so I ate one at dinner. I chewed and chewed and chewed. No way was that thing goin' down. John opened a can of tuna for me.

It is lovely being with Joan and John. Lovely enough that I don't even care that it's 97 degrees here in Alexandria and very spidery. After clobbering a large black spider with my shoe, Joan laughed, "Welcome to the woods." After dinner we watched an Australian comedy with our feet up on the table and our fingers in the berry bowls.

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