November 18, 2007: Boston Family Stuff

Richard's Birthday. . .

To celebrate Robert's father Richard's birthday, we went to Finz restaurant on Derby Wharf in Salem. Grandma Helena especially loved the restaurant, from the decor to the view to the baked stuffed lobster. We also fed her a tuna tartare appetizer with mango cubes, juicy fried oysters, some of my lobster macaroni and cheese, some of Robert's buffalo fried shrimp (albeit with most of the spicy sauce wiped off), and a cranberry bread pudding. My lobster mac-and-cheese was particularly good, and we'd go back to the restaurant again. OnSunday afternoon, with the sun streaming in the windows, it was a lovely and peaceful place to eat tasty seafood.

After dinner we went back to Grandma Helena's apartment and had cake (I'd made a lowfat, whole wheat cider-spice cake with candied ginger and pecans, decorated with just a drizzle of white chocolate cream cheese frosting). Because we didn't have any birthday candles, Robert got the bright idea of sticking matches in the cake. Strangely, he wasn't able to light all of the matches before the first one lit blew out, scattering ash on the cake. A brilliant idea? It depends who you ask. Let me just say I was against it from the start.

. . . and Helena's TV

The birthday threatened to be overshadowed by the other event of the day--a new plasma-screen TV for Grandma Helena. She watches TV (and DVDs, thanks to Netflix) a lot, and her current TV was not agreeing with her eyes: even the much-needed closed captioning (provided by a separate box, since the TV was too old to have it built in) was getting to be too fuzzy for her to read comfortably. So we took the plunge and got her a beautiful, crisp plasma screen--with built-in closed captioning that actually functions with her cable (apparently there are lots of horror stories about incompatible closed captioning and digital cable, so we seem to have lucked out here). It all began when Sarah and Sean met us at our house at 9:30 in the morning to head to Costco in Everett--our Zipcar, their Costco card. After a long and mostly fruitless saga of trying to measure the TV box and the trunk, we just decided to (famous last words, I know) "make it fit." We cut the box apart in the parking lot and slid the TV into the backseat naked; then we piled various Costco items around the TV in the car, and shoved Robert and Sean into the front seat. Sarah and I watched as they then switched places, since Robert was too cramped to drive. They drove the TV to Helena's house in Lynn, while we wandered across the shopping center to Target and managed, somehow, to spend an hour shopping. Later that day, after dropping Sarah and Sean at church and picking up Robert's father, we finally got to set up the TV. Below, at left, you see Robert sitting in front of it on the floor, before we got it up on her TV stand and fully set up. At center you see Helena reaching for the remote--she wanted to control it herself, right from the beginning, and at right you see her studying the remote and learning the difference between "regular cable" and "D cable" (which Robert's father explained was "D as in David--David cable!").

There are a few too many tiny buttons on the remote, though, so our next step is to make a larger-than-life color printout of a photo of the remote, then color-code the buttons she needs to use on a regular basis. Excitingly, though, this new TV with built-in closed captioning opens up an entirely new world to her on DVD, since she can now see closed-captioned DVDs rather than only English subtitled ones. Hurray for technology!

Below you can watch a little movie--kind of low-quality video, but better than some of the grainier things out there on YouTube--of Helena learning to use the remote and commenting on the random TV stations that she happened to turn on and off during the fiddling process.


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Created: 11/19/07. Last Modified: 11/19/07.