Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Cape Cod, USA

Cape Cod

When reflecting back on my recent visit to Cape Cod, spending time with my sister over the US Thanksgiving week, many memories were made, some were simple and pleasurable memories, others were a wee bit out of the ordinary for us, but what fun we had!

First off, as I mentioned before, we equate Thanksgiving with the Canadian celebration during the second week of October, and not the American date falling in the month of November on the Hallmark calendar. So lest you feel we abandoned our families, not so my friend, rather while other families near and far gathered for their turkey, my sister, and I gathered for the first time since we were children, alone together for one whole week. Her husband is deceased; her grown children are living in another state. My husband and children were not celebrating this occasion in our home this year, therefore this was a perfect time for me to travel, accepting her invitation for a visit, a break you could say, from the hectic pace life seems to shovel towards me by wintertime.

I noticed the lovely table decor instantly.
By evening, candles were glowing
everywhere to create an ambiance like no other.

It almost was not going to be possible for such a trip for me to venture off for. I thought it almost impossible to have this visit initially to be honest. Many details were required to oversee here at home, but it was my husband who thought about the possibilities, and decided I should go. “It would be good for me, us rather, to do this together”; he said. The children however weren’t so sure, for their mother would be gone for a whole week, alone without one of them charging behind her, and after all, they wondered; could dad fill her shoes with the schooling, the activities, meals, and so forth? He was certainly willing to place forth the effort, and in the end, he sure did, though very happy for my return, also exclaiming he would not trade jobs with me permanently …laugh.

It seemed almost surreal for me to bid farewell to my family when they dropped me off at the airport, and to be traveling alone, though I was quite comfortable doing so. There I was at the airport, lugging my suitcase on wheels behind me, and then in an instant I was standing in the line up at the curbside check-in, about to fly off for a sister-time visit. Through security I went, first stop was Starbucks to grab a hot and delicious latte for sipping on as I walked the long corridor towards Gate 73, my waiting area. After arriving at my gate, as agreed, I telephoned my sister to verify the time of my plane’s departure and finalized our meeting venue at the other end. As if in a dream while speaking to her, the digital information board behind the flight representative suddenly changed, denoting a later departure time, and again, another delay soon surfaced, leaving me one hour behind schedule before I even left the airport. Hmpff! This was my third time I have flown to Boston, all three times I have experienced late departures, and it seemed to be the very last stop on the various airways’ milk run. Once in the air, I noticed the plane was full, full, full, with folks off to visit loved ones for Thanksgiving.

A later autumn still showed off its lovely colors.

Finally our plane landed and I had arrived, claimed my suitcase and soon I was hitching a ride upon the silver line bus, onward through the tunnel and heading towards our scheduled meeting place. Everything clicked just fine, there was my sister to greet me, and off we went, driving into the chaotic rush-hour traffic. Lucky for her, we could use the HOV lane, though there seemed to be little difference in traffic volume in that lane compared to the others.

However, I was here, we were together, and our week was about to begin! Nothing would prevent us from feeling festive and the celebrations were about to commence for us, though not necessarily Thanksgiving celebrations per se.

Cheeses of the world!

Since the traffic was so crazy, we opted to exit the freeway in Hingham”, where a lovely outdoor mall awaited an evening stroll. It was so incredibly inviting with many white lights attached to the exterior of the buildings, framing it all in an illuminated glittery glow, and Christmas music blared through the speakers surrounding the entire walking areas for all to enjoy. It was there I had my first encounter with “Whole Foods”, an incredible organic food store.

What an amazing place!

We sampled cheeses from around the world, picked up some “grazing” food for the evening, and a few other goodies for the week’s food fare menu. We were not going to go out for meals much, preferring to stay at home for the bulk of the week instead and relaxing quite a lot together. We both really needed to do that.

One of our many "grazing" dinner fares...yum!

I was introduced to many new stores, "Talbots”, "Crate & Barrel" (ohhhhh baby!), "Pottery Barn" (ohhhhh baby again!), and of course the stand-by "Barnes & Noble" was in full view for me to drool over. Nevertheless, we never entered those doors, as I was only to experience the ones new to me this week…all except for the “Christmas tree store”! Yeehaw! Okay then, we headed for a bite to eat to remain out of the heavy traffic a while longer and it was over a light dinner when we decided on a rough sketch for the rest of the week together.

Highlights of our week included many items for us both, but it was the ability to decide what we wished to do, when we wished to do it, and our decisions only arrived day to day depending on our moods, and of course, seeing if the weather co-operated with us.

Personal trainer workout sessions
awaiting me were quite a surprise!

To my big surprise, my sister booked us in for a few sessions of exercising with her personal trainer, a lovely woman with four children who performed her “boot camp” sessions out of her home, both inside and outside, using her personal gym and her outdoor tennis court for stations assigned for us to get into (grueling) workouts to die for (yes, I almost died while I was doing those things…laugh).

Actually, I never knew my sister was attending personal training workouts, and had no idea we would be involved in something such as this when I asked if we would do something other than remain sedentary all day long. Ha, I had walking on my mind and working out in my sister’s basement instead. However, we felt great after those (torture) sessions with our gratuitous Hollywood glowing faces beaming afterwards. After the first sessions, even though I had never performed so many lunges in so many various stances before, the eighties saying “no gain without pain” pounded in my head, seemingly keeping me (out of breath) and in full focus.

The torture chamber..snicker

Keeping my chin up...literally!
(and I was smiling)

Wouldn't our children just LOVE this
sports court beyond the swimming pool
and decks?

Admittedly too, the personal trainer was excellent for stimulating self-motivation (fake it or die! – snicker), and had the personality anyone would love to be working out alongside. It was a pleasure to meet her and experience her boot camp! Truly! Not once but twice (though it was going to be three at first, the last session didn't work out for all)! After the first session, I couldn’t imagine another being less grueling, but how did make it even harder than before? laugh

Indeed, this session was over!
I really was a good sport though...laugh

We spent several of our initial evenings unwinding, and enjoying the simple food fare we both preferred. My sister lent me a cozy white housecoat, and there we were grazing on our meal, and watching her previously taped shows. I really enjoyed the last few evenings of “Dancing with the Stars”, “Divine Design,” and “Room Service”, makeover shows.

Spa ladies in white fluffy housecoats.

It was just entertaining to watch these in such a leisure setting, candles glowing all about for a beautiful ambiance, and to be able to fast forward through the commercials. I found this time so cozy, very special beyond the norm, just us, without a time limit for heading to bed, dozing off for a wee nap if we preferred, and sleeping soundly when we did hit the hay.

More grazing food fare - Yum!

My sister was the queen of pamper during this week, giving me the pleasure of sleeping in the “Princess Room” upstairs. She went out of her way to offer me a fresh cup of coffee each morning to begin my day, as I loved to do shortly after rising. It was my most quiet and “still” moment of the day, one I treasured. One morning she even brought me breakfast in bed. How great is that, being spoiled in such a way as this? That was my sister this whole week, so attentive, literally attempting to serve me. I lapped it all up of course, ensuring the relaxation I found so necessary in the big scheme of things in my life.

On Thanksgiving Day, the weather was spectacular with brilliant sunshine inviting us out of doors for a very long lingering afternoon beach walk. It was a beautiful walk, especially knowing we had nothing to rush back for, taking our sweet time absorbing the sights and sounds around us, walking the boardwalks, viewing the homes along the shores, and noticing other folks out doing the same thing.

Cape Cod is known for its lovely ocean beaches.

A lovely sandy beach invited us
to meander along its shores.

Many people were visiting the Cape this week, busier than a usual winter week, but it was festive with people obviously loving their time united for their visits with their family members, taking photos, and walking on the beach alongside of us. Imagine hearing about the snowfall back home while we enjoyed only good weather, sun every day with the exception of one morning rain.

The Mashpee Commons shopping center.

Black Friday was a day we preferred to avoid in the shopping arena, especially with all the stores opening by 4am, but with an impulsive decision made, we did in fact exit the door late in the day, to venture over to the “Mashpee Commons”, a lovely outdoor shopping experience. We arrived later in the day when most shoppers were about to leave, but just in time to see a horse drawn carriage, with children having a visit with Santa inside.

Horse and Carriage greeted our arrival.

Off for a nice hot cuppa Starbucks and a little bite to eat before entering many of the surrounding boutiques and stores. Almost immediately, we could hear the Christmas music playing in surround sound everywhere we walked, and noted the care of the businesses with their attention to a Christmas themed décor, seemingly enjoyed by all passersby we met along our way.

Festive decor surrounded shoppers.

Every building had twinkling little white christmas lights glowing brightly in their windows, also on the trees surrounding their premises, and the continued music sweetly sounding through outdoor speakers made this a pleasurable stop. We entered numerous shops I had never been in before, and as we meandered about, it became a unanimous decision to enjoy a movie together to end our evening, at the local theater in the same shopping complex area.

For mom & dad - Bobby Burns, your soup place

The movie we viewed was titled “Enchanted,” a delightful film we both enjoyed tremendously. There we were, two adults attending what we thought was a child’s “G” movie, obviously filled with other adults and plenty (!) of children. This seemed to be an evening for a sold out viewing of the newest movie to hit the screen just in time for the holidays, where cartoons came to real life and the setting was in New York City. We were able to sit back, relax in comfort, and spent much of the movie giggling, just like the little children surrounding us, actually laughing wholeheartedly until we became teary eyed in some spots. When the movie ended, we were also some of the adults who sounded out by clapping and a few actually cheered at such a fun and entertaining film. My sister hadn’t been to a movie in over a year, and though we had no idea what this movie would be like beforehand, it was a great choice for the both of us to come away with happy hearts and the enjoyment of time spent viewing it, and eating our popcorn together.

A lovely princess movie we enjoyed very much.

One little boy seated near my sister was so engrossed in this movie, at one point when silence reigned in this theatre; he shouted, “Just do it!” This was a fine film by the Disney folks, and while watching it, very soon everyone began to notice little spoofs from other movies sprinkled in, so snickers and enlightenment began, noting the other movie scenes represented, everything from Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Snow White, Sound of music, and many more. There were a few parts we wondered about being too frightening for little children, and then there were a few parts adults would relate to more than the children would. Overall, we both truly loved it. Highly recommended!

Yet another surprise surfaced as we drove towards my sister’s hairdresser, where (secretly) appointments had been previously reserved for both of us. We had just completed our second boot camp session shortly beforehand in the morning hours, so sitting for some time while having our hair highlighted and cut was very welcomed as we were continuing to “feel the burn” deep inside our muscles. My sister had less coloring than I, so she enjoyed a manicure and pedicure in the same time period as me.

Don't we look radiant during our "Diva day"?

I was thrilled when the first question uttered by my stylist was; “Would you like a cup of coffee?” YOU BET I would love one, and simultaneously two magazines were plopped onto my lap, my sister looking out for my reading pleasures as my grooming was about to begin. Ahhhhhhh, this is the life! This was our little Diva Day, our moment of womanly grooming necessities. (smile) While I could feel the many muscles still screaming at me for the workout just completed, I rebelled somewhat by slowly melting into my chair on purpose, and then I uneventfully decided to begin sipping my brew and began flipping through the magazine pages. Once the hair technician commenced, I was just pleased not to have to move again for some time, (could I actually move though if I had to? – snicker) enjoying every moment of this pampering thrill I do not usually remember to take the time for back home.

Her computer calling me to install many items.

One of the things decided upon early on was my sister’s desire to get her computer up and running with the installations of new programs, installing a new printer/scanner and a record turntable for recording all her LP albums to MP3 music files.

Ready to begin...

I was also going to get her digitally organized, musically organized by uploading music to her I-tunes, and overhauling her music CD collection by revamping her organizational abilities from the plastic CD cases to a binder with disks only. I had not anticipated her needing three large cases to get all the music CDs organized, but the hard part was completed while I was there. All she had to do now was purchase one more case and enter the remains of the day’s work, and then enjoy the new way to peruse her musical genres in one place.

In progress...throwing out those Cd cases.

Now doesn't this look so much more organized?

There were a couple of spontaneous wee visits, where a bit of company either dropped in, or we met a few of my sister’s friends momentarily, little escapes we both found pleasurable, as the sightseeing along the way was also most interesting.

What a great guy!

A good friend of my sister’s whom I first met three years ago, was working on a new room he was finishing in her basement over the weekend. He has been renovating her current home for a few years with project after project, teaming up with my sister perfectly and the place looks great! He never tires of another thing added onto his to do list at this home, and this weekend he was working on her new craft/sewing room. He spent a few hours framing in the pipes inside the closet, and required assistance to install the ceiling bars for a dropped ceiling. He and my sister also worked alongside one another, sanding the walls and painting the entire room. A delivery was made one day with doors and other assorted items to continue work another day. He was so sweet, treating us to dinner twice while he continued working tirelessly, but in actual fact, we all worked on our individual projects.

There's always something to do.
"Doesn't she know I'm retired?" *snicker*

(Remnants from our work in progress, he took it away. What a guy!)

Hyannis was a great spot for motoring and cruising down Main Street. My sister pointed out Rose Kennedy’s church - St. Francis Xavier, on the main drag. I wondered how many Kennedy family members were celebrating Thanksgiving together at their family compound just down the street from here.

Hyannis' Main street.

It was interesting to note how quaint this little area was, just as the Mashpee Commons area, little homes decorated as Cape Cod housing to hide the commercialism of the area. It was remarkable how quickly the many Christmas lights had suddenly sprung up since Thanksgiving Day. Wow, nothing like a little Christmas décor happening in a matter of 24 hours, but this is the way things are commonly done there!

A winter and Christmas decor surfaces.

Our final day together found us unprepared for realizing the end of our visit was almost at hand, having to pack quickly as we had become consumed throughout the morning working on our final projects around her home. We wanted to be on the road, traveling to Boston for the evening, as we had previously decided it would be beneficial to both of us to spend the night at a hotel, for our early morning commute to the airport and for my sister to get herself off to work. Therefore, we splurged on a hotel stay, something a bit unusual admittedly, though the next day a huge multiple traffic accident halted freeway traffic into the city. In hindsight, it was a good decision overall.

On our travels back to Boston, we stopped briefly at a grocery store to pick up a bit of food fare for our evening dinner in our hotel room. It was there we cozied up for the night, catered to one another as the snacky foods were distributed throughout the evening (more grazing preferences), and where we would turn on the television to watch the greatly anticipated, final competition of “Dancing with the Stars". I must confess, our many simple evenings spent grazing our final meal of the day throughout the week were the most special moments for me, a time to stop to smell the roses, easily conversing, while spending moments relaxing in one another’s company.

My early morning flight at the Logan airport was a mere short distance away from our hotel. As we prepared to head down for the breakfast accompanying the room’s fee, I peeled back the curtains covering the glassed paned windows, to find a wonderful view, as our room overlooked the harbor below, and up in the sky, the sun was almost ready to blast through the skies for what would become a glorious day, offering nothing but sunshine and warmth for my return trip home.

Good morning sunshine!

Okay, at long last here is when I fess up something I had to do while visiting Cape Cod. A friend asked me if I had the opportunity to hit the “Christmas Tree Store” while there. The answer was “yes, indeed!”. In fact, I had to visit Marshall’s department store” towards the end of my visit because I purchased too many items to fit into my suitcase for my return trip home. It was necessary to also acquire another suitcase to fit things into for carry-on, as the bulk of the load was fragile items. As well, I had an additional bag I borrowed from my sister, a rather large duffel bag, packed to the hilt with additional fragile items, bulked up quite well with paper, and the attendant placed a few “fragile” stickers on its surface for delicate handling. I was loaded up, stocked up, and ready to head home again. I loved that Christmas Tree Store! What a great place to shop…but then, Marshall’s was really a tempting shopping thrill too, though I was diligent and focused, walking out with only a small suitcase for future travel usage.

Already in contact with one another since my return trip home, my sister has declared our need to recognize our visit could be considered a yearly endeavor for the future. It was time well spent, renewing similarities and shared interests, “just me and my big sister” alone together, and no regrets from either of us for allotting time to make it all happened.

Thank you sis, I love you, and I had a blast!