Monday, July 16, 2007

A Visit From Josh's Family

Joshua and I had a wonderful visit with his family this weekend. Prior to the visit, we had had one fear: that Josh’s sister would not enjoy her visit to Minneapolis. As things turned out, however, Josh’s sister enjoyed her visit very, very much.

Josh’s family was waiting for us, in our apartment, when Josh and I arrived home from work on Thursday evening.

Despite the small size of our apartment, there was enough room—just!—for Josh’s family to be comfortable.

We gave everyone a nice dinner—baked steak and French-fried potatoes, and peas, and a corn soufflé, preceded by a very elaborate garden salad, and followed by a carrot cake Josh and I had baked and iced on Wednesday night—and we all spent the rest of the evening catching up and deciding what everyone wanted to see and do for the remainder of the weekend.

On Friday morning, Josh’s family came over early to eat breakfast with us—breakfast is my specialty, and there was no point in Josh’s family having to eat breakfast at the hotel, since Josh and I can prepare an excellent breakfast ourselves, at no cost—and afterward we all headed to Saint Paul.

In Saint Paul, we visited the Minnesota State Capitol and the Cathedral Of Saint Paul. When we were done visiting those venues, we ate a packed lunch in a park in Saint Paul (Josh and I had prepared for everyone both chicken salad sandwiches, and tuna salad sandwiches, and we had prepared celery and carrot sticks and radishes to eat with the sandwiches, and we took apples and pears and homemade peanut butter cookies with us, too). After lunch, we drove to Minneapolis to visit The Minneapolis Institute Of Arts.

The reason we visited The Minneapolis Institute Of Arts was because it was the one attraction in the Twin Cities that Josh’s mother most wanted to visit. On Thursday night, while we were discussing what to see and do, Josh’s father told us, immediately, that Josh and I would be required to escort Josh’s family through The Minneapolis Institute Of Arts, because it would give Josh’s mother more pleasure than anything else in town.

Josh and I had been delighted to hear this news. We had not planned to take Josh’s family to visit any of the local art museums, because we had assumed—incorrectly, as it turned out—that the local art museums would not be high on Josh’s family’s list of things to visit.

We decided to visit the museum on Friday, the first day, because the museum would likely be less crowded on a weekday than on the weekend.

At the museum, we started in the antiquities section, and we examined the entire collection of antiquities. Josh and I thought that Josh’s brother and sister might enjoy the antiquities most of all, and they did, very much.

From the antiquities section, we took Josh’s family through the painting collection, and we pointed out what are generally considered to be the most important paintings in the collection. We ended our examination of paintings at the year 1900, because none of Josh’s family members had an interest in seeing modern works.

Our final area of examination was Asian art, a specialty of the museum. We went through much of the Asian section, and I think Josh’s brother and sister enjoyed the Asian collection very much, too.

When we left the museum, we headed toward the baseball stadium, and we had an early dinner en route—at a Pizza Hut!

As we knew in advance, Josh’s mother and sister have no interest in baseball, but Josh’s mother and sister seemed to enjoy the game, primarily because Josh and I talked to them the entire time the game was going on. We talked about our life in Minneapolis, and our work, and Josh’s plans, and our forthcoming trip, and I think that Josh’s mother and sister ended up having a fine time at the ballpark.

After the game, we returned to our apartment, because it was still early, and we ate ice cream and cookies, and talked until it was time for Josh’s family to return to the hotel.

On Saturday morning, Josh’s family came over for breakfast again. After breakfast, we drove into downtown Minneapolis and we showed Josh’s family the primary buildings and landmarks. We had saved this visit for a weekend day, on the premise that traffic would be light.

Not only did we drive around much of downtown Minneapolis, but we also parked the car and did some walking around downtown Minneapolis, too.

We ate a packed lunch again, and we ate outside for a second consecutive day. Josh and I had prepared, again, two kinds of sandwiches for everyone: roast beef and Swiss cheese and cucumber on onion rolls, and ham and Swiss cheese and radish on potato rolls. For lunch, we also took with us an Amish pepper salad, and small bags of potato chips, and oranges.

After lunch, we visited the Science Museum Of Minnesota, which we thought Josh’s brother and sister would enjoy. Only Josh’s brother enjoyed the museum; his sister did not like the museum at all, as it turned out. However, we only spent a couple of hours in the museum, in order that it not become intolerable for Josh’s sister.

When we left the museum, we drove to The Mall Of America, which Josh’s sister especially wanted to visit. We spent HOURS at The Mall Of America, walking around, and visiting stores, and visiting other attractions. Everyone seemed to enjoy it immensely, although not a single one of us was actually visiting the mall for the purpose of shopping.

We visited department stores, and bookstores, and sporting goods stores, and toy stores, and gift stores, and we had a ball.

After everyone had had his or her fill of the mall, we went home to our apartment, where we had dinner.

Josh’s family had informed us, the first night, that the Guthrie Theater “1776” was of no interest whatsoever as a Saturday evening entertainment. Josh’s family had wanted to take Josh and me out to dinner on Saturday night instead, but Josh and I had refused the dinner invitation. For the duration of this fifteen-day baseball road trip, Minneapolis is the sole stop in which Josh’s family will be able to avoid restaurant food, and Josh and I had decided, before his family arrived, that it would be senseless and poor form on our part for his family to eat at restaurants during the visit.

For dinner, Josh and I prepared poached salmon and Fettuccini Alfredo and steamed broccoli, accompanied by an apple salad. We ate pineapple sherbet for dessert, and we sat around, talking, until late in the evening.

On Sunday morning, Josh’s family came over for breakfast again. Joshua and I gave everyone a big breakfast on Sunday, because we prepared not only cereal and fruit and eggs and bacon and potatoes and toast, but pancakes and sausages, too. Josh’s brother is a big pancake-eater, because he was able to eat both Josh and me, big pancake eaters ourselves, under the table.

After breakfast, we visited the campus of the University Of Minnesota. Josh’s parents wanted to see the campus very much, and they enjoyed the walk around.

We returned to our apartment for a light lunch—Josh and I made a tomato-and-cucumber salad, and beef tips and peppers and rice—and after lunch we drove around Edina for a while, showing Josh’s family places he and I regularly visit, until it was time to go over to my parents’ house.

We spent the rest of the day, and evening, visiting with my parents. I think that Josh’s brother and sister did not mind spending a few hours at my parents’ house, because they could kick back, and rest, and relax, and spread out, and watch television in the downstairs family room.

Josh’s brother and sister were also amused by my parents’ dog—they were truly amazed at some of the fetch games he knows, and how well he understands human speech, and how well he can follow instructions, and how playful and affectionate he can be, especially given how enormous he is.

My mother prepared a large dinner for everyone. She prepared a shrimp-and-pasta-and-vegetable starter course, followed by stuffed roast chickens, and mashed potatoes, and green beans, and sweet corn, and carrots, and a tomato salad, and a special fresh fruit salad. For dessert, she made a blackberry cobbler, and Josh and I made homemade ice cream.

Josh’s family enjoyed watching our dog’s Sunday chicken ritual, in which the dog gets a cooked and de-boned chicken for dinner every Sunday evening. We cool the cooked chicken, almost to room temperature, before we de-bone it, and we cut the meat into very tiny pieces before serving it to him. We do this so that it takes him a while to eat it, and so that he does not simply wolf it down in a few gulps and then beg at table. Once he is done eating his chicken, he generally jumps up on the daybed in the kitchen, and lies down, and half-snoozes, and half-watches everyone else eat. He knows, at the end of dinner, that he is going to get a bowl of table food, so he is generally good about allowing everyone else to eat in peace.

Josh’s family also enjoyed watching our family’s ice cream-making ritual, in which the dog guards the electric ice cream maker the entire time the ice cream cylinder is turning. He plants himself next to the machine--always placed on a rug in the middle of the kitchen floor--and he does not budge until the machine stops. He knows what is in the machine. He knows that he will get his fair share, but he guards it like he is afraid that someone will try to steal the ice cream. When the ice cream is done, he starts barking, and he continues to bark until he is given a bowlful, as if he is afraid that we will somehow forget to give HIM ice cream, too (not that we would ever be permitted to forget).

During the whole weekend, but especially on Saturday night and on Sunday afternoon and Sunday night, Joshua and his father talked a great deal about future plans. They talked about law school, and graduate school, and the relative merits of each. Josh’s father is obviously in favor of law school, but I think that Josh’s father has come to accept, more or less, the fact that Josh is not yet sure whether he truly wants to make the practice of law his full-time career for the next forty years. I also believe that Josh’s father has come to accept the fact that Josh is only twenty-three years old, and that time is not necessarily of the essence in making such an important decision. Josh is very smart, and I believe that Josh will make the decision that is best for him when the time is right, and I think that Josh’s father now believes this, too.

I am exceedingly glad that Josh’s family came to Minneapolis for a visit. It was important for his family, I believe, to see where Josh lives, and works, and spends his free time. It was also important for his family to see that Josh is settled in, and that he is comfortable, and well cared for, and that he has plenty of stimulation in his life, and plenty of support, and that he is happy and content.

I think that finding out these things was the true purpose of Josh’s family’s baseball road trip. A few baseball parks and a few baseball games were only a sideshow to the main event: ascertaining that Josh was happy and fulfilled in his new home up North.

This morning Josh’s family departed for Milwaukee. Before his family left Minneapolis, Josh went over to the hotel and ate breakfast there with his family. Josh said that his family—even his sister—was ever so glad to have come.


  1. I finally visited the new addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum. Some friends with an interest in Asian art came through town and asked for a tour.

    As with the exterior, the interior left me ambivalent (of course, I'm sort of wishy-washy anyway).

    At night, the new additions glow with a beautiful soft light. Really breathtaking from certain viewing points. During the day, there's an undeniable warehouse look about them.

    The interior is modern, but not cold. I like the way the "lenses" bring natural light to the new galleries. But, about 50% of the expansion is devoted to public space - lobby, gift shop, cafe. In other words, lots of light, airy space that's not available for display of art. Wish I knew what the architect was thinking.

    KC is a notoriously conservative town. And, we're part of the Show Me state. So, I'll give it some time and see if it grows on me. After all, Claus Oldenburg's giant shuttlecocks were a scandal when they were installed in the mid-nineties. Now they're viewed with affection.