Saturday, October 02, 2004
Well, since Mom & Dad (Grams and Gramps) showed up last night, the Twin Toddlers of Turpitude woke extra early to say hi. Actually, Jacob stood in the doorway of the guest room and just did his coy little boy thing. Alexis was interested, but insisted on sticking to her morning schedule thingie and was very displeased with being deposited in Gramp's arms. She insisted that I put her back in the Master bedroom and she will greet the Grandparents when she was damn well ready to. Sheesh, talk about future diva material.
Since we were dragged from our oh-so comfortable bed so early in the morning, there was a sufficient slice of time for my Hero Dad and I to take the steps he bad built and attach them to the North Tower.
We ran into complications at that point. I had managed to get the first six inch bolt in place. It was no small task to find just the right place and angle to drill the hole. There are several bolts, screws and nails securing the various boards in place that would not make for an easy time with the 5/16 inch drill bit. The second bolt was not as cooperative. I had gotten 5.5 inches into the hole when I managed to strike a screw or nail, thus stopping my progress in a very loud and disturbing manner. "Krrr-at-chat-chat-chat-chat...." Well, there goes my 15$ long-bore bit. At this point, I have cracked the little block of wood that the decking was nailed to so I have a bit of work to do now. Unscrew a few pieces of wood, remove the broken block. Remove nails that were left behind. Pry out the nail that lost it's head when being removed. Get new block, drill hole, affix to now vacant position. All in all, it worked out but it was an effort that I was not interested in spending any time on. The end result was pleasing though. This is one of the typical constructions that makes me pretty sure that this play-set would support an M1 Abraham's tank and will be here 100 years from now. Rock solid and twice as durable.
At 1000 hours, both Grams and Mom informed the Laborers, Hero Dad and I that it was getting neigh time that we cleaned up and get ready to go. We did the typical 10 minute male shower thing and were ready to hit the road. After we loaded up the family tank and got the twins strapped into their jump seats, we rolled off towards NYC to lay it low. We were going up the NJ Turnpike (starting at exit 6) and after an hour or so, I could see the Empire State Building stabbing up into the sky. As I pan to the south, I think I can see the new construction being done down at the Trade Center Site. Makes me proud to be an American. Knock us down, we get right back up. Knock us down hard and we get up twice as fast and twice as tall.
We usually go through the Holland tunnel and transect Manhattan on Canal street. This time, we went up a ways to the Lincoln tunnel since we were going up to the Bronx. It was a slightly different experience, but it was different in so much that the traffic was jammed up with different scenery to look at. The twists and turns and the surprises about which lane you really needed to be in was no new news to my. Frustrating, irritating and dangerous, but not new. Shortly after exiting the tunnel, the kids woke up to see us parked in a mess of traffic as we were working our way west. We drove up the West side highway past the USS Intrepid. That is one big ship, but the cruise-line ship docked next to it is quite a spectacular sight as well! The traffic was relatively light except for all the double parked cars and the busses maneuvering around them. It was harrowing for the passengers as I swerved from lane to lane to avoid the other commuters. It made my appreciation of the predictable Pennsylvania drivers grow considerably.
We managed to get to the Cathedral at 120th street about one hour before the ceremony was set to begin, and all that with no vomiting. The Riverside Church Cathedral is enormous. It takes up about 2 square blocks and is just north of Columbia University. The spire is astounding as is the interior. The ceremony went well, as far as I could tell. If a giant orange mastodon had tap-danced down the aisle I would probably not have noticed. I was much too pre-occupied with wrangling the kids. At the end, the final cacophonous roll of the organ music was thunderous. It started out in a familiar way but ended up sounding like some sort of horror show for the ears. It made my bones rattle and my ear-drums curl in fright. Jacob was thrilled. Once everyone had marched down the aisle, all bound up in wedded bliss, we let the two micro-demolition experts run about to burn off some pent up stress. Jacob tried to climb to the top of the tower but Gramps and Dad tired quickly of the "I'll do the first 10 steps and you lift me to the next flight" game. We managed to get to the 4th floor before heading back down. The two of them ran about the cathedral a bit before we got our turn to be part of the family pictures. When we made our graceful exit, we found that we were in for a new treat. We had parked in the garage below and there was a new parking attendant. It is my guess that they typically put the keys in the ignition when they park the cars. I made the mistake of just parking the car in the first space available and handing the keys to the attendant. When we returned, there was a new attendant. I gave him my receipt and paid 20$ for the 2+ hours of parking. He handed me an exit card and started to walk away. Then the trouble began. I asked for the keys and he ran over to the car to presumably show me that they were in the car. They were not. He looked about for a few moments and then looked at me and shrugged his shoulders. Ok, not good. We did have a spare set but I was not going to just walk away. After about 20 minutes of me harassing him and him renouncing any responsibility, I finally got him to admit that he did know who was on duty in the morning and get him to call him. After a short but heated discussion over the phone in some language that I assume was Pakistani, he ran back over to our car and snatched the keys from the front window, behind the window-wiper. Well, now that's a new one on me. There was a moment where he took the time to apologize after realizing that his curt responses to our obvious distress were not winning him any points. In the end, we went our different ways and both parties were happy to be rid of the other. I think this is pretty much how the world works. Everyone is much too preoccupied with their own troubles to be concerned about what is happening with the person next to you, or the next city over, next state, or country. At least I didn't invade his airspace and he didn't blow up my car. And the UN didn't steal a bizillion dollars from us, even though he didn't get a tip.
We did our best to escape from NY the way we got in and then drove FOREVER across Northern Jersey to get to where the reception was being held. Some town called Scotch Plains, at a well known restaurant/reception hall that the Mrs knew of but I had never heard of. Somewhere south of 78, west of the NJTP and east of 287. I cant imagine I will ever be near there again. We got there at about 1700 and were just an hour early. The Mrs took the time to feed Jacob a bit before we got into the world of edible delights that he would sneer at, but Alexis would dig into with great gusto. After the cocktail hour (which I abused by getting my share of vodka martinis up front), we went on to the actual reception where my Dancing Fool Son showed me that he had more skill on the dance-floor than I will ever hope to have. Where a 2 year old manages to pick up these kinds of moves is beyond me. Of all the photos taken that night, I am fully confident that at least 50% of them were of Jacob in his various choreographic contortions. He would dance and dance until one of the 'responsible' adults would whisk him to the designated table for a brief respite and a drink. Then, after a dish was served and quickly devoured (but ignored by the perturbed and kvetching youth), we would run back out to do some more convolutions. We ended up leaving at about 2300 hours mostly due to the exhaustion of the adults. One thing that we found a bit disturbing about the whole event was not the driving, the traffic, music volume or the difficulty in restraining toddlers for several hours. It was the age and quantity of the smokers in the building. How can people still smoke or even think about starting to smoke in this day and age. The Accepting Mrs MDMHVONPA just shrugs her shoulders and says "Its New Jersey, whatever." Heh, funny how everyone in NY, PA and DE thinks the same things about their crossroads neighbor. It's forgivable since we use the NJTP extensively. We managed to get home by 0030 and everyone collapsed into bed after some minimal evening clean-up. We didn't waste many hours in this day.