Pre-holiday weekend in Holyoke

Late, but we’ve been crazy busy. Friday morning we drove up to BWI where I made possibly the best decision of the year by deciding to pay the extra money to park in the daily garage. There wasn’t much of a line and we were soon at the gate, but we soon got to experience something that’d never happened to us before: being asked to get off the plane. It wasn’t just us, though, everyone had to leave as the plane had a mechanical problem (previously those problems had been resolved one way or the other before we boarded). The good thing about being at a hub is they’ve got plenty of planes, and we got into Hartford only a little over an hour late.

We rented a car and headed up to Jill’s mom’s house in Holyoke, visited upstairs with Gram for a bit until I started nodding off. I guess 90 minutes of sleep the night before wasn’t cutting it, and we went downstairs and I napped for a bit. Jill was hungry and we drove over to Northampton and had lunch at Sylvester’s, where she had the black bean soup and I had the jalapeno cheese soup and a half of a roast beef, both decent. After lunch we went our separate ways to shop, as I wanted to spend some time in my favorite store. No one was home when we got back, so I had time to nap a little more.

That night Jill’s mom Sue took us over to her sister Melissa’s house, where she babysat the nieces and nephews while we went out with Melissa and her husband Dominic to Spoleto. They had a $20 three course menu, and we took full advantage. Jill started with soup while I had the Spicy Caesar Salad which was a regular Caesar with squirts of Sriracha, wonderful. I had the Mixed Grill for an entree, a nicely sized selection of meats, while she had the Penne Papillote, served in parchment. For dessert I had the cheesecake and she had the no sugar added cherry turnover, delicious. It was still early by the time we finished and we headed over to the bar at The Pizza Shoppe, where Dominic is a regular, to hang for a while and we may have overconsumed a bit.

Saturday we slept in a bit, then Jill’s sister Robin joined us and we went up to their father’s parents’ house and spent an afternoon with them, their dad and their aunt Dede. We exchanged gifts (I’d obtained some Eric Clapton/Jeff Beck tix for Jill’s dad) and chatted for a long time. When we got back to Holyoke, I worked for a while on loading some music into the phone Jill’s niece was getting soon, turned out to be more work than I’d thought. My sister Sharon arrived in the early evening and soon Sue made dinner for all of us, tasty shrimp scampi and asparagus. We worked on more gift stuff and watched TV after dinner.

Sunday we woke up to only 2″ of snow, nothing close to the two feet they had gotten back in Virginia. Sue made us a big breakfast of eggs, sausage, bacon and French Toast. We tried to go to Jill’s nephew’s basketball game in the afternoon but got stuck in traffic on the highway and turned around after the game finished, stopping so I could get some accessories for the phone I was working on and some groceries for the evening ahead. Everyone showed up for an early dinner of pork roast, mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes and green beans. Afterwards the kids opened their gifts first (and we told them of our upcoming trip to Orlando), then we opened ours, some nice Blu-rays, and this fabulous painting of Illa by Gram.

Illa by Gram

When Jill was running errands Saturday, she called me from the liqour store and asked if I wanted anything. I asked for the Samuel Adams Winter Classics and told her to buy a bottle of Utopias if they had one. She called me back a minute later and asked me if I was sure, since it was $189. I was sure, since I’ve heard of sellouts in areas where it’s priced at $250. So Sunday night I opened it and passed tastes around. I think I was the only one who really enjoyed it – it’s closer to a cognac than a beer. Almost everyone left to go to Bright Nights, Dave and I were left to watch sports and chat. Later on the ladies returned to watch “White Christmas”, almost finishing it.

Monday we saw Sharon off, then headed over to Melissa’s house as she had an appointment in bureaucracy hell and no one to watch Ava, my niece and goddaughter. I didn’t mind too much, as I hadn’t spent too much time with her. We watched videos including two I hadn’t seen – Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas was cute, but too advanced for Ava as we only watched 30 minutes (and maybe I’m coming to it too late, I like my Muppets more frantic). It was amusing to finally see the Jetsons episode where they perform Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah as I know the cover of it by the Violent Femmes well from incessantly playing the covers of Saturday morning cartoons when I had the record store. We also took a walk around the neighborhood and played some hide and seek.

Ava & Jill

Sue took a break from work and picked up Melissa and dropped her off, then we followed her into Springfield. We had lunch at Chef Waynes’s Big Mamou, a BYOB Cajun restaurant. Jill had the Gumbo of the Day while I tried the Thunder Thighs Jerked, a spicy Nawlins take on Buffalo wings. I had the Big Mamou, a delicious special with fried chicken and crawfish while Jill enjoyed the New Orleans Red Beans. We were way too full for dessert (and I didn’t eat again until midnight). We headed back and packed, then headed to the airport (with a brief detour in East Granby to see where Jill lived). No problem with our plane this time, just delayed coming from BWI.

The trip back was fine, but BWI was incredibly crowded due to the snow cancellations. We got our bags and got out to the car where I knew my decision to park in the garage was a good one by viewing the cars outside. The trip home was ok, no delays, and soon we were in our parking lot, where it took us nearly three hours to shovel out my space, Jill’s car and our steps. We only had time for a snack and a beer before falling asleep.