My grandson JR has been visiting from New York this week and the pace here at my staid old residence has picked up considerably, to say the least, especially since it has also been cousin time.
As I have mentioned in past columns, there are four male cousins, all born within a nine- month span, who have formed a tight bond. Chris, who lives in Cumberland, is the oldest, swiftly followed by Henry, just two weeks younger who lives in South County. Then comes JR, from NYC, and last but by no means least comes Liam who hails from Uxbridge, Mass.
They are not just cousins ... and second cousins at that ... but they are “COUSINS!” And although they are in regular e-contact with each other, there is nothing they love more than being live and in-person together, although sadly, this time around, Henry, now on a month-long cross-country, dinosaur-related trek with his mom, wasn’t able to be part of the mix.
The others, however, have been taking full advantage of this break in their routine, beginning with a weekend in Maine with Chris’ family.
Funny story there. The place they were going to was a home owned by a family friend, and when Julie (Chris’ mom) decided to invite three extra cousins along she sent a quick text to friend Paul briefly asking: “Is five kids too many?”
“Five kids is way too many!” came the immediate reply. As it turned out, Julie had texted Paul’s old number, no doubt offering a shock to some poor soul on the receiving end, much to everyone else’s amusement. Turns out five kids were actually just fine, and a good time was had by all, who arrived back here on my doorstep, sunburned but happy and just in time for dinner on Sunday.
Chris and Liam were here until Tuesday. Then it was just Chris and JR going back and forth between Chris’ house (not far from here) and my house in almost fluid motion.
The big attraction here has been the fact that JR (an apartment-dwelling city kid) now has his own workshop in my basement, with a large workbench built by his late Uncle Rick, that is slowly being equipped with a variety of tools and things like a belt sander and an angle grinder.
I should probably explain that JR is a very bright kid who spends a lot of time on YouTube learning all kinds of things that interest him, the latest of which is how to make knives, including heat treating them once the steel has been machined into shape. Which is how I have come to have a small forge in my backyard, built by JR and his cousins on a previous visit two weeks earlier.
There are safety goggles, heavy leather gloves, and masks enough to go around, as well as other safety equipment and first aid supplies, just in case. So far they have three knives to show for their effort, one with an impressive hand-crafted wooden handle on it, and only one very minor nicked finger that was treated on site by the resident industrial nurse (me) with a dab of antibiotic ointment and a Band-Aid.
There’s an old saying (attributed to Napoleon) that “an army marches on its stomach,” and so it is with teenage boys. There were Belgian waffles for breakfast here two days in a row, and again later for dinner at Chris’ grammy’s house. There were late night burgers and fries another day from Burger King (complete with two of the boys coming back out wearing crowns) when all other establishments, including my own, had already closed for the night.
And then there were the much anticipated local dine-out treats that we slowly but surely worked our way through, from barbecued ribs and cornbread at GottaQ Smokehouse here in Cumberland and Wild Wings in North Smithfield, to Ye Olde English fish and chips and Popeye’s fried chicken in Woonsocket, as well as several trips to the Ice Cream Machine (mostly evening trips, mostly with Chris’ parents) here in Cumberland, as well as baked mac and cheese and blueberry muffins here at my place, with plenty of watermelon, grapes, cherries, goldfish, cookies, and blueberry jam to tide them over till the next meal.
Today, JR and I will be going to Newport, site of the never-to-be-forgotten adventure of a few years ago when I sank knee-deep in what felt like quicksand on the rocks along Ocean Drive and feared it would take a 911 call and a crane to pull me out, much to JR and Chris’ amusement. (They still laugh about it.)
But alas, all good things must come to an end. This weekend JR will be heading back to real life in N.Y., and although I know I’m going to miss him, I suspect that the siren song of his workshop will be luring him back this way again soon.