February 21, 2005

A six pound good deed

My sister and I drove to San Luis Obispo this weekend to go visit our grandparents. They are getting on in age and the family had made it clear that the grandchildren (and, in particular the grandchildren with children, which thankfully leaves me out of the double guilt dosage) needed to start making efforts to visit, not efforts to explain why they hadn't visited.

This time of year, when it's storming, central California looks like Hawaii: the hills are deep spring green, it's raining, windy, and there are rainbows every day. After 3 hours of driving through the gorgeous views, we pulled into the budget motel I'd picked out (the grandparents are too old to be hosting guests but not too old to think they aren't and be insulted if you say no, so you have to check in BEFORE you show up at their place).

Although I hadn't recognized it on the web, on person I had a flash of recognition and said, "Hey, sis, I've got a question?..."

"Yes." She immediately responded with conviction and pulled out of the parking lot.

Turns out, the cheap motel was the place our grandparents had been pointing out to us since we were quite young. Every time, they'd point and tell us the story of the young girl who was murdered in her room one night and they never caught the killer.

Right. So, we found a different motel. Then we headed to gran's house, in town, where we were asked, "Do you want a steak or a fish dinner?" How great is that? When I've got guests, the question is usually something much more ridiculous and stupid like, "What types of ethnic foods do you prefer? Any food allergies? Special diet? How long do you want the meal to go? How hungry are you? How important to you is the value of the food? Music? Size of the restaurant?" But, nope. Not Papa. When fish was decided, gran and papa had my sister drive to Morro Bay so we could eat at Dorn's Cafe. This was convenient because Chris Dorn, the manager, was somehow involved in the superbowl betting pool that my papa and all the other local farmers belong to. Business/Pleasure. Whatever. The food was excellent, the ambiance and views were gorgeous, and I couldn't have done a better job with my 20 questions method of selecting restaurants. Never hurts to have the manager greet your grandfather by name and escort you to the table, either.

Gran and Papa were determined to show my sister and me a good time. They ordered a bottle of Talley Chardonnay, sauteed mushrooms and steamed clams for appetizers. Both appetizers were excellent, but by the time we were done, I had no room for more food (and I'd run 11 miles that morning, if that gives you any idea of the size and richness of these appetizers). Laughably, I still had a salad and my main course of halibut with rice pilaf and green beans on the way. So, I did my best to eat those and watched in shock as Papa put away a bowl of clam chowder, and a large calamari steak. Gran slowed down after the clam chowder, but I would have too if I was allowed to do so! My sister and I laughed as papa continued to put away food, clearing his green beans and asking gran why she wasn't eating her calamari steak, which he repeatedly refered to as "magnificent" or "perfect" and kissed his fingers. Of course, he kept turning off his hearing aid closest to gran so he couldn't hear her, she'd have to yell, he'd roll his eyes at us, she'd roll her eyes at us, and well--it was the usual adorable stuff.

The best part of the whole weekend? This morning, when we showed up for brunch, Papa informed us that he'd gained 6 pounds between breakfast on Sunday and Monday morning. When you're old and you've lost a lot of weight, it's a good thing to put a little back on. My sister and I were VERY proud. Now if only we could figure out how to do it without matching him him pound for pound...

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