I had my laptop, a suit bag, and a small bag that I'd normally take as my carry on bag, but was checking today, since I had three items. I was absolutely annoyed that I had to pay $15 to check that little bag.
Retrieving my stuff at the end of the security conveyor belt, I had walked around to the other side, since it was so crowded and shit was spurting out and piling up at the end of the belt, but within about a minute, Brunhilda came toward me, "Sir, I need you to move back around to the other side."
There, I put my suit bag on the stack of empty containers, while I gathered my shoes, laptop, and the gray bin with my wallet, cell phone, watch, and change in it. "Sir, I need you to move your bag off the empty bins." (There were two piles of empty bins, and no one was trying to put an empty one back on either pile.)
I made a face, and grabbed my bag, and then she began to wheel that stack of empty bins, which was on a dolly, and she ran over my toe. She knew that I had just about had it with her by then, and she said, "Oh, excuse, me. I'm so sorry, sir," and went around me.
On my way to my gate, I stopped for a bagel, where the cash register had just "gone down," and where the two people working there were trying to manage math in their head, using English as a second language to boot.
Overall, not a great start to my day.
We had an uneventful, on-time departure for my RDU to LaGuardia flight. The plane was small—two seats on each side of the aisle. The guy next to me was hot, but slept the entire time.
I devised my Thursday and Friday blog entries en route, and listened to Eva Cassidy's Songbird CD on my iPod Touch.
I had seat 7A on both of my flights today, and my gate out of LaGuardia was Gate 1, with a 45-minute layover. I started on my PowerPoint presentation for my China trip while I waited, and pretty much got the first five slides done.
The flight from LaGuardia to Providence was on a tiny plane, nine rows total, and propeller-driven. Of the 36 seats, only 13 were occupied, so we had plenty of room to spread out.
That flight arrived 30 minutes early in Providence, which I still can't quite figure out. Something was wrong there. The flight time I had in my Palm Pilot was from 9:30-10:54, which is nearly an hour-and-a-half, but I'm quite sure the flight attendant (and later the pilot) said that it was a 45-minute flight. And then we landed so early, which was more in line with the 45-minute announced flight time, than the time I had in my records. I checked my printed flight reservations and sure enough, it stated the flight time as one hour and 25 minutes.
I don't know. Who cares. It's said and done, and I arrived safely.
After retrieving my bag, I found Aunt Annette and Karen, and after tearful hello hugs, we headed back to Coventry.
Before we unloaded my stuff from the car, we walked across the street to Annette and Frank's three-car garage, which Frank was going to make into a little retirement house for them, where Karen's husband, Joe, has done a phenomenal job in going through.
My uncle had an incredible collection of all kinds of things for stone masonry and building. Piles of hammers, piles of chisels, piles of trowels, and piles of a lot of other such things. All kinds of leftover wood, wires, drills, saws, huge buckets of nails, screws, four or five gas containers, four tool boxes, and a huge stone cutting machine with diamond-edged blades on it.
Joe is such an incredibly nice guy and has been working over the last several weekends clearing out and straightening up the amazing collection of clutter that the place had become.
I took a compass that was laying on my uncle's work table. It's one of those old compasses that used to be used in math classes—V-shaped with a steel point on one end and a little pencil stuck in the other end.
I also took a key chain that says "Açores" on it, and has an eyeglasses screwdriver hanging on it. Both my uncle's and my dad's heritage is from the Azores Islands of Portugal.
After checking that out, Karen, Annette, and I came back across the street, where I unloaded my stuff, and the three of us enjoyed cocktails and some snacks.
Uncle Frank's cremains were on the table, most of it in a good sized black box, and a little bit in a red draw-strung bag. The box was for Annette. The bag for Karen.
Around the next May timeframe two things will happen with them: (1) Most will be buried at a local cemetery, and (2) Karen and my aunt will go to Arizona, and spread a bit of them in the Grand Canyon.
Karen and Annette brought out a stuffed quahog with a birthday candle stuck in it for me, and I said before blowing out the candle, "To my favorite uncle in the whole world," to which we all smiled through tears.
An hour or so later, Joe came back over, and we had Bacalhau—a delicious Portuguese cod fish dish that my aunt made, along with some mashed potatoes. Yum. Yum. Yum.
For dessert, we had some most delicious pistachio cake, made by Karen, also served with a birthday candle in it, and all of us sang happy birthday to me. :-)
After that late lunch, we walked back across the street to see the work that Joe had done while the three of us were drinking and snacking earlier, and it was incredible how much he'd gotten done in that little bit of time!
We walked around the back of the place, and checked out the piles of stone back there, and talked about what the little house that my uncle had planned to build was going to look like. He had it all thought out, of course. Karen kept saying, "Every time I see this, it just breaks my heart. He had this all planned out, and it would have been done, too, if all of this hadn't happened to him."
Back at the house, we sat around the table upstairs, and Annette and Karen detailed the final week with my uncle. It was an incredibly taxing week on them, extremely painful for my uncle, and left him so sad in the end as Karen was the only child that visited him during his time in the nursing home and at home under Hospice care. Heartbreaking.
Later in the evening, Karen and Joe, especially Joe, told a lot of funny postal stories, most of them about dogs, as they both work for the U.S. Postal Service—Joe still a letter carrier, and Karen working in human resources now, but having been a carrier for eleven years.
Karen and Joe left at about 8:30, and by 9:00, Aunt Annette and I had both retired to our rooms.
I checked in with Robert by phone, finished this blog entry, and then worked for about an hour on my PowerPoint presentation for my China trip.