Sunday, June 16, 2013


I've come to the conclusion that we need to have a week before the actual vacation to get ready to be away from our usual life, and a week afterwards to ease back into the usual routine. Although i've had many agree with me, it still doesn't happen this way. Pity.

Himself was away just before our former neighbours were going to arrive, so it fell to me to get things ready for their arrival. The huge limb that fell from the dead maple was simply just another thing to deal with in a long list of sprucing things up.

I found the process a bit telling, really. Most of the people who have visited or stayed overnight were people i knew well or have sailed with, and so although i went through similar preparations when they arrived, i never for a moment felt that they were arriving to inspect things, but rather arriving to see ME. For some reason, with these neighbours Himself felt that we really needed to put on the dog and pony show. I don't really know what point he felt he needed to prove, but i must say that it made the prep work i was left to do more irksome. It did however, have some positive results, which didn't escape my notice. I finally organised the closet in the guest room, so it's much more useable now, and i had planned to visit an acquaintance's open house for her new business on the Saturday the guests were to arrive. We figured they would be arriving at 5 pm, and i had hoped to get things all done by noon or 1 pm, so i'd have time to pop by the new venture and rest and relax a bit. Maybe even go for a a short kayak paddle around a pond near the house if not a sail.

Ah, yes, grand plans....

Himself seemed to think that we needed to do more, and worked at a frenetic pace. I had cut up most of the limb, but left the biggest bits, in part because i wanted to check with my neighbour to see if he could use it for his boiler (he's got an outside wood-burning model), and said neighbour wasn't home for a few days. If neighbour said yes, then we could see what size would work best and take it from there. There were a few cuts i had started but hadn't completed as the bugs really started biting me, and i could feel fatigue mounting, so felt it prudent to stop. But, that wasn't good enough for Himself, and he borrowed a larger chain saw from a friend and started hacking away at the bits i had started. He ended up leaving the biggest bit because he, too had enough bug bites and realized i was talking sense when i thought him too tired to continue safely.

That left him to redo some of what i'd already done inside the house, and i realized that he was in that crazy mode that refuses to listen to reason. I got things ready for the dump run, and he went with. I nearly had him convinced to go for a kayak paddle if not a short sail, which we figured we'd do when we got back from the dump and fed the cats. And, there was the open house i wanted to attend.
Our former neighbours called. They said they would when the crossed the border into our state, and we were shocked that they called so early. This meant they'd be here in two hours.

I never made it to the open house. We didn't kayak. Or sail.

This couple had never been in this state, although she's lived in many places, as her dad was in the military, so moved around a lot. He was always a hometown boy who's lived within a 35-mile circle. They do like to travel to a few places, their current favourite being Vieques, an island near Puerto Rico. They are nearly 10 years older than we are, and she has a bad back, so we tried to couple activities that allowed for walking and sitting. We also made up a list of rainy day and sunny day activities. And after harping about  New England's typcially being cooler in summer, especially at night, they arrived to 90°F (32°C) temperatures. Ahem.

The weather cooled off during their visit, and we had several, spetacular, sunny days. Himself cautioned against going on our boat as it's small, and Neighbour's back might not fare well in the tippy dinghy and if the water is choppy. He hadn't included me in on the conversation, so i had no idea of its existence, until i suggested a sail around the harbour. A part of me wanted to remind Himself that it was also MY vacation, and if he and Bad Back Neighbour (BBN) wanted to go through galleries ad nauseum, which they did want to do, then Other Neighbour (ON) and i could go boating. ON hinted at a smile when i suggested that we split up to have a gallery/boating afternoon, but quickly nixed the idea, suggesting instead he'd like to see where the boat was moored. When i mentioned there were a few schooners close by, BBN wanted to see those, so we all went down to the wharf. Once we got there, i saw the wind had picked up a bit, enough that it might make for an adventurous sail in our little boat, so it was probably just as well we didn't go.

Neither neighbour had ever been on a sailboat and Himself thought it might be better for their first experience if we went on a larger one. A number of larger boats have two-hour sails, which is a nice introduction, and BBN mentioned only afterward that she's been seasick a couple times, but thought she'd be all right. And, she was. The schooner was one i had sailed on a few years back when a fife and drum friend visited, and he'd never been sailing, either. It was before we got Retrouvé, and to watch this young man's face light up as he experienced his first sail is something that still makes me smile.

The day proved to be quite windy indeed. They reefed the mainsail, and we were going 7 knots. Although we weren't that far from the dock, the temperature was appreciably cooler, easily 20 degrees. I stayed in my shorts and tee shirt, not needing to add another layer, but our former neighbours were glad we had insisted they bring along layers and to wear jeans.

When recounting the places we went with our former neighbours to my knitting group, they all nodded. "Yep, you hit all the places people want to see when they get here." Although i had grown up on the coast, i had forgotten about having to shuttle people around who visited. Then again, that task never fell to me, as my parents took care of that part. The people who had visited before these neighbours either had been here before or were truly here to visit us.

We did go to a few museums, both of which had items i wanted to see. One, which is a transportation museum had loads of school kids when we went. Bruce, a neighbour from around the corner, volunteers there, and he had mentioned taking driving lessons so he could drive the Model T they have. I happened to run into him on my way back from the restroom, and he asked if i wanted a ride in the Model T. He had just gotten done giving a bunch of the kids rides. BBN had gone out to the truck to read her book and smoke as she was done looking in the museum; Himself and ON were in a part adjacent to where i ran into Bruce. So, i gathered everybody together, and Bruce gave a brief talk about the car. After that, we piled into the Model T and went for a short spin. I found it thrilling, and all of us remarked how nice a ride it was. BBN's back didn't give her any trouble, and an older couple who saw us go for a ride, waited until we returned and asked if they could hop in, too.

We ate some meals out, but many more at home and took turns with the cooking. Fortunately, we liked to eat many of the same foods, and it was a nice way to wind down the day. BBN doesn't smoke in her house and doesn't smoke in anybody else's, either. I used to smoke, years ago, and i realized with a start that since living here, no one's smoked here. I don't have to gather ashtrays or clear them, and since i no longer smoke, i don't have to time everything between cigarettes. BBN is a very considerate smoker, doing her best to keep smoke from blowing in people's faces, not pitching her butts on the ground, yet i couldn't believe how much i smelled the smoke. And how it irritated my nasal passages. I sneezed more in three days than i had all year, and she casually mentioned that i might have allergies, which she herself had only lately developed.

The cats wrinkled their noses at the smell, and although they liked her, they stayed away from her when she smoked. She wondered why they weren't going to her, and when i mentioned the cigarettes, her face fell a bit. I explained that they'd never smelled smoke like that before. Which they haven't, really. Many people here have woodstoves, so in the fall and throughout the winter, one smells woodsmoke, but that's different.

When we weren't traipsing through museums, we were walking through towns, looking in shops, and stopping often so they could take pictures. BBN is an artist and teaches art students. She wanted some landscape pictures for herself and them, and one afternoon, when she wanted to pick up some Christmas presents at a comestibles place, she and i drove around to a few places i thought would make for good architectural pictures. I'm not sure what all Himself and ON got up to when we were doing that. ON is mechanically gifted and happiest when working on projects. Since most of our house and the barn was built in the 19th century, there are projects aplenty, and he was admiring some of the construction and commented on some things he liked and some that he'd consider changing. It wasn't said in a judgemental way, simply a "Hmmm, that's interesting how they did that, i'd have done it like this."

So, as vacations go, i didn't get away from it all as it were, but rather delved into what's local. It can be fun playing tourist in one's own backyard. They left early Thursday morning, and Himself and i decided to go sailing before the weather changed over to rain. I'm glad we did, even though we simply puttered around the harbour. JoJo and Jim reclaimed the guest room bed as their own once they saw the visitors drive away, and Phoebe sniffed every inch of the guest room. She had provided a welcome by killing a mole down cellar and meowed a lot at us before, during, and after meals. 

It rained the rest of our vacation until Sunday, and we walked a bit in the rain, slept in a little, did some reading, watched a movie or two.

Since my job is sedentary, i find i like to be active on vacation. Although we walked around a bit showing the sights to our former neighbours, BBN on a few occasions told me to slow down, which surprised me, as she was quite the walker when we were neighbours. I remembered that i walked slowly after breaking my leg, and the last time she and i really walked together, i had a hard time keeping up with her because although my leg was nearly mended, walking with any quickness still eluded me. That had changed, apparently, while i wasn't looking. A few other things have changed, too. I am now living in a place that encourages active movement every season of the year, and i find i like being part of that. I found myself being thankful for the many people over the years who've housed me when i was on vacation, who took days off to show me local sights that they would have most likely preferred to skip, and who perhaps put their wish list of things to do aside for my sake.


  1. We're looking forward to our summer guests; all family with grandsons. Can't wait!

    1. Cro, i'm eager to hear how they love their treehouse/pirate ship. Little wonder they love their Grumpy so much.

  2. I remember being a tourist in New England, several times. It was what it was to the natives and magical to we tourists.

    1. Joanne, i took it for granted growing up in New England, although i always found it beautiful. Then i moved away and missed it dreadfully.

      I doubt i'll ever take it for granted again. Even now, there are days where i'll sigh happily and say, "Thank God I'm HOME." And it wasn't that i hated the other places i lived (there was one, but that's a topic for another day). Simply put, they didn't make my soul sing, and i felt less grounded somehow.

      We have a great many tourists here, especially in summer, and more than one has looked a tad wistful when they ask me where i'm from and i say, "I live here." And yes, i DO know how lucky i am, having spent nearly over 25 years away. It's good to be back.

  3. I am not a great hostess. In fact, I tend to dread visits. Last year, my partner nominated us to house a Japanese teacher who was chaperoning a group of students and they all wanted to stay in houses rather than hotels to get the "American" experience. While I liked this man, it was difficult as he spoke no English and we spoke no Japanese. We used our ipad translator a lot and found it to be less than accurate. Then, a few weeks ago we received a letter from our Japanese friend asking if he and his family could stay for TEN days with us this Summer as their vacation. I was flabbergasted. We are a fly-over state, not much to do with tourists and our dealings with him before were generally just in the evenings. Also, his vacation days coincided with my partner's first week back at teaching and our daughter's first week of high school. Really bad timing, yet we felt that we could not say they are coming. Ugh. I am dreading it. Where is my pioneer spirit?

    1. Oh, Maria, i feel for you. I had a mix of dread, too, as i waited too long to take time off and felt that i was rather burned out before our guests/former neighbours arrived.

      I classify pioneer spirit in a category different from hospitality. Pioneer spirit is about ruggedness, durability, and requires a sort of self-reliance that i don't usually ascribe to being a hostess. Yet, upon second thought, being a hostess requires endless amounts of energy, self-reliance, and exertion.

      I hope it goes well with you. Ten days is a long time. As Ben Franklin said, guests and fish both start to smell after three days.