As of this current visit, I have seen Uncle David (my mom's brother) and Mary Ann (his wife) on five separate occasions since Christmas 1986, when I was ten years old. By that time, Grandma and Grandpa Minor had established themselves as snow birds, and Mom flew us down to Sun City, the suburb of Phoenix, Arizona, to spend Christmas with them because Uncle David and Mary Ann were coming. The same process repeated for Christmas in 1990, when I was 14.
When they came from Australia to visit Seattle back in 2015, it was the first time I had seen them in nineteen years -- since Grandpa Minor's memorial service in 1996. I was 20 years old that year. And given that Uncle David and Mary Ann are getting on in years now themselves, in 2015 I really assumed this would never be repeated, and the next time I saw them would likely be once Shobhit and I finally managed to visit them in Adelaide.
So, I was pretty delighted to hear from Uncle David a few months ago via email, letting me know they were doing another cruise across the Pacific much like the one they had done in 2015, and would be returning to Seattle yet again. This time, though, since Ivan has been officially moved out since Valentine's Day, we had no roommate to obstruct this offer of hospitality: and they took us up on the offer to stay in our guest room. They stayed the night last night; will again tonight; and they embark on their three-flight journey by air back home tomorrow afternoon. Seattle to San Francisco (about two hours); San Francisco to Auckland (about 11 hours); Auckland to Adelaide (about four and a half hours). That's at least 18 hours of air travel between Seattle and Adelaide, something I am not especially looking forward to once we finally do make this trip -- although we might shave a few hours by going to Sydney first. Who knows? We'd still have to deal with the same kind of itinerary returning from Adelaide, though. Maybe it would be better to do Adelaide first. Anyway! Nothing about that is yet set in stone; we did talk earlier about when Sydney's Gay Mari Gras is, and it happens to be during March, which Uncle David already told me shortly after their 2018 visit would be the best time of year to come. Next year, maybe? God, I would love that. I hate being in my forties and still Canada remains the only other country I have ever visited. That needs to change.
But I digress.
So there were 19 years between seeing them in 1996 and in 2015; then all of three years between then and this year. So the turnaround time shortened by 84%! If that percentage remaind constant, then we'd get to see them again . . . in about six months! Okay, that's not happening. But, if we go there in March of next year that's only ten months away, which certainly seems like a reasonable compromise.
It's nice to have an available spare room again. When they visited in 2015, Tommy lived here. Shobhit just happened to be home from L.A. for another reason. Now, Shobhit has been back for good for a year and a half -- in fact, just today, he drove past a woman who used to be a local accent coach for him here in Seattle, named Ellen, crossing the street on Pine with her bike. Shobhit shouted through the window to say hi, and she was beyond happy to see him. "It's always nice when someone is delighted to see you," Mary Ann said.
And, Ivan has been gone since February. He did say over that one evening last weekend, and I did slightly worry that this might somehow conflict with when Uncle David and Mary Ann were here. It worked out great, though, when they had their respective visits two weekends apart. When I very first offered the guest room to them while they are here in Seattle, they declined. But they had to do a lot of rearranging of their plans for the week they'd be in Washington because Mary Ann's third cousin who lives in Westport was only available on Tuesday. So, they did spend one or two nights in a hotel downtown last weekend. Uncle David went to a Mariners game. Mary Ann visited with her cousin, who came with her husband to visit for a day in Seattle. On Wednesday they drove out to Wallace, Idaho to visit Mom and Bill and Christopher, staying two nights.
They drove all the way from Wallace to Olympia on Friday, because Uncle David wanted to get pictures of a ravine he used to play in when he was a kid. They stayed one night there in Olympia, and originally even hoped to go to Dad and Sherri's restaurant, which I thought was rather nice. That got nixed in the end because of delays with terrible traffic on their drive on Friday, though. So now they're talking about making a real effort to get to the restaurant the next time they're this way -- which I thought was rather cool, that they seem to be assuming they'll return for another visit. I could have sworn their basic vibe in 2015 was that they were starting to get to old for this much travel. Maybe they changed their minds, for now at least.
So yesterday morning, then, they drove up to Seattle from Olympia. Shobhit stayed home, but they met me at the Amazon Spheres for the timed-entry tour we did.
I actually found Claudia and Dylan first, as they locked up their bikes on the 6th Avenue side. Uncle David and Mary Ann don't have working cell phones in the U.S., so we agreed via email we would meet "on the Sound side" of the block on Lenora at 11:30. I stood there with Claudia and Dylan for several minutes, started to get a little worried, and finally moved over to the corner -- a smart move. I guess Uncle David was a little dyslexic with the "Sound side" of the block; they had been waiting all that time on the other side of the spheres. In fact, apparently they even saw me when I arrived as early as 11:15 or so, but I was across the street taking pictures, and I never noticed them waving at me. They just decided to get up and check the other side of the block once it was about 11:45.
After that, it was all good. The tour wasn't quite what I expected, and in fact was better. You can reserve spots for timed entry, but there did not seem to be any time limit to your stay inside the structure. Also, I was expecting a sort of guided tour, and instead you just got to roam around at your leisure. They have several employees in blue shirts standing around to answer any questions, and I was quite impressed to find they had knowledgeable answers to every single one of the actually quite a few questions between the four of us. Actually I don't think Dylan ever asked any questions.
Shobhit had given me a ride because we drove beforehand to Grand Central Bakery to get some loaves of bread. This was why I got there pretty early; he drove me downtown and dropped me off before he drove the rest of the way home. He wasn't that interested in the Spheres. I might convince him to come the next time I go, though. Laney and I discussed it later yesterday and decided we would go in the winter, at the end of the day when it's dark, which would make for a different, also cool experience.
In any case, Uncle David, Mary Ann, Claudia and Dylan all seemed suitably impressed. I was very much so. I got quite a lot of really great pictures.
Claudia and Dylan had other commitments right afterward, and then Uncle David and Mary Ann, who were beginning to express interest in lunch, were happy to come to our place for homemade sandwiches. I walked with them to their rental car and they asked that I just do the driving. Shobhit took his car out of the garage to park on the street since we have the neighborhood zone pass; I parked their car in our spot in the garage, where it remains until they leave for the airport tomorrow afternoon.
And then, using the bread we had just bought, we made some very tasty sandwiches for a late lunch.
A few hours later, I left everyone behind for a few hours in the evening to see a movie with Laney -- plans we had made weeks ago, and which Uncle David insisted I did not break for their sake. The movie was originally intended to be one that it turns out won't open locally for another couple of weeks, so I convinced her to go see Tully. I had already seen it, and given it a solid B, but I was really interested in Laney's take on it. And true to form, her take was indeed very interesting.
We took Light Rail there and back, delayed slightly by our own discussion of the movie at Pacific Place before returning. I did have to pay full price for this ticket, unfortunately. I learned something new about MoviePass yesterday: it won't let you see the same movie twice. At least not at the same theatre, anyway. I still don't know if I could have used it to see it at another theatre. But this was the movie time we had planned for, so I just paid for the ticket.
When I got home, Shobhit, Uncle David and Mary Ann had already had dinner, and there was some waiting for me to eat -- Shobhit made an Indian meal of baturas with rice and lentil (surprsingly delicious; I always expect lentils to be bland -- with Shobhit I should really know better) and a potato dish. It was all wonderful. We spent some time visiting, since I did not have to write a review for this movie, until it was finally time for bed.
And that brings us to today! We did some back and forth about how we would do brunch -- last night I had said we should go have brunch at Lowell's at the Market since we were planning to go there today anyway; Shobhit thought he should just make pancakes at home. Given that the blackberry preserves from 2012 Danielle gave us that we opened a few weeks ago has really been enhancing pancakes Shobhit has made, I was fine either way. But, since Mary Ann and Uncle David felt like I was all about the blueberry pancakes at Lowell's (which really are wonderful and I hadn't had in some time), they insisted we do that and they would "shout" for brunch.
At first we were going to walk down. But when I noted that they switch their menu from breakfast to lunch at 11:00 a.m. and it was nearly 10 a.m., we wound up deciding to drive. We took Shobhit's car; Uncle David sprang for the parking cost at a nearby garage.
So, we spent a couple of hours at Pike Place Market late this morning and early this afternoon. Shobhit was the only one who did not want the pancakes, and since I knew from extensive experience that a stack of three that is the standard is one pancake too many, the other three of us agreed we would get two orders of the blueberry pancakes, ask for an extra plate (no extra cost, thankfully), and each of us would get two pancakes. It worked out perfectly.
We roamed around the Market for roughly an hour after that, and I got several nice pictures, rounding out the photo set I created today just generally for their visit; it's what the group selfie at the top of this entry is from.
After that, we drove out to Magnolia to see Grandma and Grandpa Minor's old house they lived in for a couple of decades in the eighties and nineties. I last went out there to look at it in 2007; Uncle David and Mary Ann likely hadn't seen it since Grandma and Grandpa moved out around 1995. I got some new pictures of that as well, which are also part of that photo set.
We came back and have just been sort of hanging out for the last few hours. We watched some TV; I processed some photos and wrote this entry. I'm running a little over the half hour I asked for to get this finished, though, so I should wrap this up and go start chopping vegetables for the pizza we're going to make for dinner.
[posted 6:39 pm]