Tuesday, 13 October 2009

On wasted Amish birds

There are two ways it seems to me to cure the restlessness that overcomes me on landing in a new universe. I mean city. 1. Get outside and do everything and anything, eat one of everything on offer, ride a tram, eat an ice cream, visit a museum, have another coffee. Or 2. Get on a treadmill and after replenishing with a healthful-ish lunch approach the new place with the keen but calm eye of the travelling observer. Fortunately for my family today I chose the second. The day started well (I made the coffee) and we spent the best part of our caffeine highs (Cory and I that is, Sam's is perfectly natural and enhanced by his ever changing homes the source of unadulterated excitement) moving in. It seems our process of unpacking is speeding up at the same rate as our packing is slowing down. All I know is that it took us twice as long to put away as it did to spread out. And spread out we have. I have taken over the walk-in closet. I feel like Carrie without the clothes or the quads but boy was I working on the eight pack this morning. Yes, me and 6ft tall and wide man were sweating it out some down the in house fitness centre, I counted roughly 20 of my 5lb bicep wotsits to his one breathy lift of 500lb. As I found my way to the floor, as gracefully as I could manage after 20 mins running (I am NOT a born runner, this is BIG for me) to do some belly bashing I saw him stride out, legs wide apart, arms almost able to hang by his sides clutching a fat and well loved leather support belt. I have a feeling it has seen a lot of action. Whilst all my panting and sweating is going on the boys are just the other side of the window in the pool (the weight bit and the sweaty runny bit face onto the water bit). When I say pool, I mean hot tub. We missed out on all those teach your 6 week old to swim in a month classes as we were moving around so much during his first year with Cory's other musical theatre tour of The Producers and were never long enough in one spot to make it worthwhile (hang on, that makes me a WAG after all). Hence our son's slight apprehension to the expanse of somewhat chilly water or maybe he just has a savvy sense of comfort; cold pool in which I will be under constant perhaps even somewhat claustrophobic contact with my father or warm bubbly hot tub in which to let the cares of the world drift away? We all know what we would choose don't we? Excercisaholics aside. 75 lengths any day. There I was, scrambling to make my iphone (that's "i" for irksome) play some sort of morale propping music radio station over the internet (forgot to charge up ipod) but every site I visited asked me for my post code, and after typing it in wrong for the fifth time (how am I supposed to work that keyboard thing anyway? My fingers are slightly bigger than a two year old's!) I narrowly escaped throwing it across the room (there were people there, and it would have undermined my dont-throw-anything-other-than-a-ball policy I lay down for our tyke somewhat) and, as I came to the end of my 5 minute power walk warm up bit I plugged my headphones hastily into the treadmill itself and in desperation settled on the Heavy Metal channel. At the 8 minute mark I was in a self inflicted mental hell. Ahead of me, the seeming distant 20 minute mark and Meatloaf loafing about a sofa talking about something I don't understand interspersed with "music" clips, which is why I mistakingly stopped at that channel in the first place. If it wasn't for my husband and son, popping their little faces up from the hot tub on the other side of the glass where they seemed to be engaged in the most serious of conversations (who the yankees beat last night or quantum physics probably) and throwing me the thumbs up I think I may not have lasted. Thanks to them, and having mistakingly pushed the incline button too many times till it stuck at a way-too-high% for the entire gambit, I came out of that room a quivering slightly euphoric dripping mess. When I meet the boys back up in the apartment I find them glued to the enormous sky scrapery windows plane watching. From our giant panes we can see the shores of Lake Erie (its a biggie but no trendy Garda cafes on the front type scenario going on as far as I can see) and there is a small jet plane runway next to it. Need I say more? This, together with the constant stream of locomotives pulling industrial quantities of coal to the steel mills and you have a boy-heaven. I go into my Carrie room to change and again feel a sizzling smugness to have gone against female stereotypes delighting in the fact I have managed to pack light. I mean to say, I have but a few clothes (I came leaving room for some SERIOUS shopping). To compensate, I seem to have brought a lot of heavy stuff, I 'm blaming it on my books and journals (how could I leave my Shakespeare in Sardinian behind?!) and just in case medical bits and bobs. And boots. Flashback to husband rolling his eyes as my luggage is overweight in Hartford and we are charged a handsome sum. We make a promise to ourselves that we will put more in the hamper. Not a foodie wicker one, our own little square mile of the touring trucks. It looks a little like an oversized laundry basket but so far not as smelly and atop of its canvas sides is a wooden lid with Cory's name printed on Young Frankenstein logo'd adhesive. We are like a troupe with an unhealthy obsession with all things halloweeny. Quite fitting now, I wonder how it will feel in the summer months? And summer it most definitely is not. We braced the gusty if somewhat deserted streets of Cleveland until we found the warming shelter of the nearest diner. It was filled with hungry local office workers and manned by a small, slightly out of synch team, tempers kept in check only by the fact that they were constantly on show. I insisted we sit at the counter (red twsity stools and everything) and our boy had his first hot dog. It took me a few minutes to convince him that it was American for sausage but he wasn't totally convinced until he saw it and inhaled it in under a minute. I do feed the boy, honest. If you will hang out in a hot tub mid morning. I enjoyed the show though. Cook one, grey and black streaky (long) hair, computer analyst glasses, white catering cap. Cook 2, new, pretty, fish out of water and trying not let it show, baseball cap with POLICE written all over it in fat white letters. Either he was an under cover doing a really bad job or loves a man in uniform. I'll never know. What I do know is that I irritated the waitress, slim, fast, put upon. Each time I reached over Sam to get to one of Cory's chips (sorry I meant both times) I said "excuse me" which seemingly happened to coincide with her passing at great speed in front of me. She would stop on a dime and look at me expectantly. The first few times I didn't clock what was going on. That'll teach me for stealing chips. Actually that will teach me for forgetting to put our mouth watering Amish chicken back in the fridge for lunch today. Would have been a darn site more satisfying than my pretend turkey sandwich and I wouldn't have had to steal chips or upset waitresses. The butterfly (or should that be chicken?) effect is something to be reckoned with I tell you. After lunch we picked up a coffee (at the place whose name must not be mentioned) and walked by the theatre. Or should I say theatres. At the end of the relatively dead Euclid st lies a cluster of large theatres, a hark back to how thriving this place was in the 20s. Wikipedia (I don't skim on my research) tells me it had Italian families and organised crime as infamous as Al Capone and his cronies. Now, however, unless we weren't in the part of town where people generally are, the place on first impression is like another one of those sunday afternoons in the city feelings again. Columned buildings, gilt facades but empty streets. I lie, I did see a corner shop with the word "Fancy" somewhere on its sign appertaining to the clothes in its window but there didn't seem to be anyone working there. I think we were walking just around the corner from the "First Third Bank" building I saw when we drove in yesterday which is by the "Progressive" baseball field. Until Cory told me that was the name of an insurance company I thought it was where the players and fans practiced meditation at half time. It didn't take long before we were blown back to the comfort of our little home just opposite the gorgeously deco Greyhound bus stop, all curves, glass brick and clocked standing stoically in the mournful afternoon light. As the boys watch the clouds roll by and the planes fly in I put a chicken casserole on to simmer and after a bath with dad, Sammy is off to sleep and Cory is off to work. I am off to Skype with the in-laws for some catch up, punctuated by play by play texts from husband reporting back on the slightly disastrous opening (an hour late on curtain up because of technical difficulties). Apparently the curtains were closed half way through the first act because the two towers that fly in were late and began to swing in a way that heavy scenery shouldn't. Roger Bart (Dr. Frankenstein, Gene Wilder in the movie) kept the crowd happy with a front cloth turn (Vive La Vaudeville!) whilst the trouble was fixed. When we had walked by the loading dock earlier this afternoon we were greeted with the slightly furrowed brows of our crew. It is after all only the second load in in a few weeks. Even though they were supported by an army of local crew including a fisherman whose boat I had supposed had been blown off course on the lake and he had found himself on quite a different vessel. I'm talking long white hair, thick white beard and moustache, big blue wooly jumper and dungarees. He was like my memory of the man from Cockleshell Bay. A cluster of others joined the merry band of brothers all be-gloved and poised for attack with the rugged energy of a pirate crew on the 1700s seas. Ok maybe the 1700s bit pushed us over the edge. I apologise. In front of the cab, away from the excitement of the luggers are the drivers. Hudling out of the wind, world weary faces and baseball capped heads with the names of musicals on them. Lion King spoke first and made friends with Sammy. Turns out all of them have three or more kids each, all grown, and all had a tip or two to share. Mamma Mia's fondest memory was when the diaper bag finally decreased into nothing after the fourth child, then he knew he was on the home strait. I loved the way this baby talk sounded like a play by play sport commentary. For a moment it took me back to the summer bonfire my brother in law lit in his back yard one night when we were over. I was about 5 months pregnant at the time. I remember sidling into the predominantly male group huddled around the heat toasting marshmallows and drinking beer. It was but a while after I had joined them, trying my best not to upset the equilibrium (My accent seems to have the effect of making everyone mind their p's and q's over here which I know would make some folk feel somewhat restricted and that night I just wanted to be a fly on the wall) that the men each took it in turn to talk about their birthing stories. No-one driving by that night seeing the flickering fire lighting those very masculine men's faces would have ever dreamt they were actually talking about placentas, water breaking, record labour times. Back to the men in question. Cory and Sam feel at home with the crew gang. I feel too, like I am a welcomed member of the group also until I catch sight of the reflection of my leopard skin coat and leopard skin t-shirt underneath and suddenly feel like a crazed fashion victim doing a bad impression of a cat. Either that or I think I am married to Tony Soprano. I am in my satin leopard skin pj's now, looking over at my leopard skin jewelry holder thing (not that I am carrying the crown jewels or anything, it was a present from my mum and her sponsors QVC). Her way of helping me prepare to travel. I inherited some amazing costume jewelry from my aunt (of the sauce and general all round culinary fame) when she left us a few years ago, each with some seriously vivid memories of her attached. I thinks its also mum's way of trying to encourage me to look after them in an uncharacteristically careful way. Most days I am armed with my aunt's wonder woman mother of pearl and silver swirl bracelet the width of a wrist band. It makes me feel like she is visiting the places with me. God knows she would have been wearing it too (it was a travel favourite as I remember) along with her ten rings, fiat badge pins sported as earrings (Uno left, Panda right. My godfather is a partner in a concessionary in Sardinia and my childhood was littered with random merchandise of cars my friends had never seen) and rhinestone trainers. I miss her. I made tonight's dinner in her honour and I am determined not to let this batch of Amish bird go to waste.

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