Feb. 8th, 2009

helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Just returned from visiting with my older brother J1 in New Jersey with my younger brother J2.

J2 and I arrived about 1:30 on Saturday and hung out with J1 and his wife G for a while. After a few hours, J1 left to go to work at the restaurant where he plays Greek music, and shortly afterward we rode with G to visit with J1's daughter K, her husband J3, and her son D. It soon became apparent that D has decided that his name is not "D" at all -- it's "Alex". He claimed that D was too shy, and so he was staying "upstairs", and that Alex was who we were dealing with. This persisted through the entire weekend. Not sure exactly what to make of it.

Later, J3 drove us to the restaurant where J1 plays music. There, we were treated to dinner. And by "treated" I mean that the wine at this particular restaurant is sold for ten dollars a glass (never mind the dinner). Luckily, the restaurant owners footed half the bill because we were relatives of someone who works there. During dinner, K recommended that I read the book "Middlesex" about a hermaphrodite, and that I see the movie "Religulous" about the evils of extreme fundamentalism (done with humor). After dinner, we went back to K's house to hang out some more with her, J3, and D. Then G picked us up and we went back to J1's place.

The following day we all met for breakfast at a place where a guy was flipping omelets made to order ... (a far cry from the IHOP we take J1 to when he comes to visit us!) Then J1, J2, K, J3, D (or Alex, as the case may be), and I all returned to J1's place and visited for a while. J1 showed us his huge train layouts and ran them for us. There were about 50 cars being actively used in various trains, and about twice that many that were not being used. The layout had tracks, mountains, stores, loading docks, bridges, semaphores, etc., all set against a scenic backdrop. The trains moved and sounded their whistles according to commands given by the operator using various switches and levers. J1 has had these layouts for most of his life - I remember them from when he was 14 and I was 4. There was even a Hogwarts train (but that one belongs to G).

J1 also showed me a couple of heavy-duty work tables he had built himself. The work tables had vise attachments for clamping any items being worked on to keep them stationary. One of those would make it a lot easier to construct things like book cases, firewood boxes, etc. I got some good ideas for designs and materials, but was still completely lost in the area of how to do the actual construction. J2 mentioned that he doesn't like my dad's old work table and may want to get a new one, and that if he does, I could have the old one. (Sounds good to me - at least it would be a good first table while we're trying to muddle through making a bigger one with more features).

Before I left, J1 loaned me a hammered dulcimer to try playing for a while. I figured out a couple of scales and simple tunes.

It was a bit of a long drive, but now I feel like I'm not hopelessly neglecting my family. They've all made tentative bookmarks in their brains to visit us during the warmer months.

April 2010

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