Friday morning arrived much too early, after a too-short night of sleep.
John had gone off to the gym, so I attempted to find breakfast. Coffee wasn’t a problem: I bring my own personal espresso machine and ground coffee, but since the family is mostly on San Jan for the summer (John goes up for weekends), there wasn’t much food.
The network was still problematic, so I just played with the cat until John returned. After a bit of playing with access controls and new firmware, John had gotten things working and I was back online. He’d gotten out his HP laptop and plugged it in for me “just in case” and mentioned with chagrin that he always needed to plug it in since vista “just sucked battery power.”
He looked at my MacBook Pro with a bit of amusement, noting that a number of his colleagues at Microsoft bought MBPs, then installed and ran Vista on them … while covering the Apple logo with a Vista sticker. Apparently the quality is higher than what they can find in windows-only laptops.
I have the pleasure of cooking while I’m here, and I collect recipes during the year to try out. In preparation for shopping, I ran through the various recipes to find the extraordinary ingredients, and then called Annette (John’s wife) to see which of those items she didn’t have. We packed the car with a pile of stuff, and it was off to a local Whole Foods to shop.
Unlike shopping trips of yore where we shopped for a week to feed a bunch of hungry people, this was fairly minimal, as most things could be found on island. We needed plum sauce for some recipe, but the employee I asked wasn’t very helpful — he’d not tried either, he said, but figured they were pretty good. And, he added, if we didn’t like the one we bought, we could just bring it back for a refund. Gotta love good customer service.
While I discussed the merits of various chocolates with another employee, she mentioned that she also worked in the cheese department, which was our next stop. She helped with those selections, and I think we escaped with only $175 of french and italian cheeses. And a British cheddar: I asked about Montgomery – which I normally can get in Boston. She laughed and explained that it was her favorite, but they’d been out for a week or so. She pointed out the second best British cheddar as a worthy replacement.
The cashier was pretty chipper, and asked if we were planning a party – she’d guessed because of all the expensive stuff (“so much cheese!”) – and explained that she liked to cook, but didn’t know how to cook the “fancy food” that we were seemingly going to make. I suggested any Italian cookbook by Marcella Hazan, since that’s from where I got a lot of recipes and inspiration.
From there it was off to our “traditional” stop at The Grape Choice in Kirkland, run by a fellow who’s a state legislator in his spare time. He wasn’t at the store, so we chatted with the another fellow which wines to get.
Sadly, they didn’t have any Banyuls (great for chocolate desserts) but the did have a pair of red and white Bandol, which is quite excellent. The remainder of the case (12) was a mix of French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese wines. I made some comment about coming out every year and cooking, and he chuckled and said he did remember me from the past couple of years, but didn’t think it had been so long since I’d been to the store. haha, nice to know I make a favorable impression.
From there it was off to the ferry in Anacortes, in the midst of a steady traffic. We figured we’d end up on the 5pm ferry by managed to squeeze in as Standby #12 – a high likelihood that we’d be on the 3:10 ferry. Indeed, the staff waved us out of the parking lot and as we approached the ferry in a mass of cars, I asked John how they could tell how many standbys to let through.
Just as he was explaining that they did this every day, so had a pretty good idea of how many cars fit on – as well as using their radios – we were stopped because they might have let through too many standbys. Fortunately, we managed to get on, and had a pretty uneventful ferry ride, though John did want to play with all of my lenses, and looked forward to playing with them more during the week.
We arrived in Friday Harbor, drove to the house, and were greeted by three screaming kids (4, 5, 9). Nice to see them, but, um does the wireless work? Turns out it didn’t, at least until John upgraded the firmware (a recurring theme). And it seemed particularly slow. “hey, we’re on an island, what do you expect?” he chuckled.
John and Annette went into town, and I was left to watch the kids, as they watched a movie. They were tolerably well-behaved, and their limits were well defined, at least from my perspective: dinner, two cookies only, movie. All other “uncle mike, can I ….”‘s were answered with “no.” Really quite simple, if repetitive.
Dinner for the (tired) adults was a simple affair: grilled salmon (which could have benefited from a cilantro/lime sauce if I’d remembered), brown rice and corn on the cob with a bit of lemongrass in the water.
Another couple and kid arrived, so there was a bit of bedlam with the kids, and again it was pointed out the network was a bit slow, so John rebooted the router .. and like magic, we finally had normal ADSL speeds. ahah!
And then it was time to sleep … ready to be woken by the steady thump-thump-thumb of kids running above my bedroom at 5:30am.