Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.
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» Sunday, October 31, 2010Undisguised Fun
It was destined to be a busy Saturday.
We were up and out to get the supplies for game night: Swedish meatballs, onions, and whatever else was needed for the week at BJs. We would usually follow this with a trip to Kroger, but we had a coupon to the newly-opened Food Lion on Austell Road. So we went there for the rest of the fixings instead. The moment we walked into the door they shoved two packages of potato buns at us for free! They were also giving out free grilled hot dogs, so we had lunch.
We brought the food home and while I vacuumed those ever-annoying stairs, James put the meatballs in both crock pots, the little one with meatballs done in barbecue sauce and the larger with the main dish. James doesn't make actual "Swedish meatballs" because the cream sauce would make Juanita sick; instead he makes a combo of poultry and brown gravy, and he added some mushroom gravy to this batch.
With that started, we went out to Borders at "Parkway Pointe." There is a 40 percent off coupon and we just joined their "Plus" club, so each book would be half off! The one book I wanted (The Mental Floss Guide to American History) was already on discount, and I couldn't find the other two I would have liked, so I got the newest Bryant and May book that is in paperback.
After that it was the usual weekly visit to the hobby shop, and then we came home by Baskin-Robbins. (We're adults; we can eat dessert before the meal. <g>)
Then home to finish the last bits of removing books and magazines from the coffee table and setting up the utensils.
We had a small crowd tonight, since poor Jessie was sick—the poor kid is embarrassed since she is already being teased about having "the kissing disease"—and Ann and Clay couldn't make it at the last minute. I wore my "spider cape" and spider hair clip, and a cute little purple spider on my wrist, and James wore his kilt. Juanita had her ski outfit on (since she is still in a cast), and everyone else came as themselves. :-) We spent the first hour or so eating (meatballs, bread, watermelon, mashed potatoes, cookies, and the pumpkin cupcakes) and watching the Georgia-Florida game. Sadly, the Gators won. Later we played one of our new games, Yahtzee Free-for-All, where you either have to make whatever "roll" is on the board, or you can capture another player's card. It was a barrel of fun once we understood how it worked.
The Spiveys went off to see Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Strand in Marietta, and Juanita home to tend poor Jessie, and we joined chat "in progress." Lots of discussing when Jen would be "free." She is graduating on the 12th, so we only have another week to send her letters. Then she will be e-mailable again.
Slept in as late as we could, since James had to go into work this morning. There was little to clean up after this morning, as James had done most of the rinsing last night, but I put the table back together and vacuumed, and put some things up. I was feeling definitely under the weather this morning, my nose all stuffy and my throat sore. Damned if I know why, but it sure dragged me down as I popped out this morning to go to a couple of Borders and try to hunt down the next issue of a cross-stitch magazine that I wanted. I did get Ideals Christmas and the new Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas Magic book, and I found a little "Uncle John's" Christmas book on the bargain table. The December "Victorian Homes" wasn't out yet, but I did find the December "Early American Life" and also "Midwest Living," which I usually get in the fall but haven't seen in months. Picked up the Christmas "Bliss Victoria" and the new "Cooks Country" as well.
By the time I got home my throat was hurting quite badly, so I took three ibuprofin and lay down for a half hour. Also had chicken broth and rice for supper, which made my throat feel better, and watched The Good-for-Nothing (the "For Better or For Worse" Hallowe'en special) and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. I have other "spooky" stuff I can watch, like Return to Oz, Midnight Offerings, Haunted History of Halloween, etc, but I usually don't end up watching them. I do the decorations and put on the costume, but I really find Hallowe'en a bit dull.
So here I sit on the steps down to the foyer, waiting as the little goblins come by. Still too many older kids without any costumes at all...come on guys, make a effort, okay? One kid's voice had already changed! Some darling little kids, including one tiny boy who was Dracula, and another as a knight, complete with a makeup moustache! Many demons; don't think they were zombies. As always little girls in princess costumes, a bright-faced little boy as Superman, one tiny child as a convict with a black eye. One little girl was a snow princess among three monster brothers. LOL.
Tomorrow I can pull all this down and put up Thanksgiving decorations, which will make me happier.
(7:56 p.m.: OMG! A girl just showed up in a sailor suit!)
» Friday, October 29, 2010As His Wimsey Takes Him
I ordered Strong Poison, the first in a series of three 1985 Lord Peter Wimsey novel adaptations, from Netflix last week, watched it, and am now on the second, Have His Carcase. (I'd seen these when they were first broadcast, but wanted to see how they held up.)
My first encounter with Lord Peter Wimsey was in the 1970s, when Masterpiece Theatre showed "Murder Must Advertise" (previous Wimsey stories had been shown, but I hadn't seen them). I found the combination of advertising agency murder, Bright Young Things, and the appealing Lord Peter intoxicating. In short order I had raided my college textbook fund to buy all the paperbacks (they were only $1.25 back then). "Nine Tailors" followed on television and became my second favorite of the series. I eventually saw all five of the original stories, which starred Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter. Carmichael was a bit old to play Wimsey—he was 52 when the first one aired—who ranges from his 20s to his 30s in the five stories that were filmed (Clouds of Witness, Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, Murder Must Advertise, The Nine Tailors, and Five Red Herrings, but he fully captured (at least to me) the contradiction that was Peter Wimsey—aristocratic, clever (while acting the silly ass), devoted to his mother and later to Harriet Vane, with a puckish sense of humor and strong sense of justice.
Fifteen years later the BBC did three further adaptations of Lord Peter Wimsey stories, those featuring Peter's love Harriet Vane, a stubborn, indepedent "new woman" who is also a writer of mystery stories. For these stories, Edward Petherbridge was cast as Lord Peter Wimsey. While Petherbridge was also in his early 50s when he was cast in the role of a younger Wimsey, he also did look more like Dorothy Sayer's description of her investigative hero, with blond hair and a long face.
Since then there have been debates (many quite strident!) over who was the better Wimsey. Some people cite Petherbridge as being "younger" than Carmichael along with looking more like the description, although they were almost the same age when they filmed the stories. I've always leaned toward the Carmichael camp, as you might tell by my description above. While Petherbridge looked the part, he was a very Byronic Wimsey, all troubled looks and hollow eyes. Even when he is trading quips with Harriet, he is so very sober. One cannot imagine Petherbridge's dour Wimsey doing several of the things Wimsey does in the books: diving into a fountain dressed as a Harlequin, bantering with his delightful and unconventional mother, the Dowager Duchess of Denver, taking his young nephew on a treasure hunt in a rowboat, going to the Soviet Club with Marjorie Phelps, playing a mischievous prank with his young son Bredon in the very last Wimsey story ever written.
Perhaps in the future the BBC might try to do a new Wimsey series with someone closer to the proper age who blends the best physical attributes of Petherbridge and the mixed intensity and humor of Carmichael.
(Incidentally, Harriet Walter, who plays Harriet Vane, comes in for a great deal of criticism in the role. Complaints range from her voice being too high [???] to her haircut being terrible. I always imagined Harriet having darker hair, but I don't mind Walter so much in the role. I do notice she is involved in the new Law and Order: UK series as the police superior.)
The Petherbridge Wimsey stories also cast Peter's faithful manservant Mervyn Bunter as a young, handsome fellow. I'm so used to an older Bunter—Glyn Houston is quite charming as Bunter in three of the five Ian Carmichael stories—that the use of a younger man was a bit startling. However, Bunter always was a bit of a ladies' man, and the younger face certainly does work better with that image!
» Thursday, October 28, 2010Fall Chill and Father Christmas...
» Wednesday, October 27, 2010Now, THAT'S Scary!
Today's "Mother Goose and Grimm":
(Appropriate that Election Day is two days after Hallowe'en this year. First we get treats, then we get tricked.)
» Monday, October 25, 2010Threads...
» Sunday, October 24, 2010Highs and Lows
We had a busy, fun Saturday!
We were up in time to go to the farmer's market. At that point it was nice and cool and we leisurely strolled the booths, bought vegetables, chicken salad, and cheese, and munched on samples. I had a nice cinnamon roll—no icky white icing on top!—and James had a ham-and-cheese croissant for breakfast. We finished just before ten and I suggested to James that we go to Smyrna's Fall Jonquil Festival while it was still cool.
So that's what we did, parking behind Shane's barbecue. We walked all the booths, sampled the dips, talked to some of the vendors, kept bumping into a woman with two cute little dogs on a leash (one who had a cute fuzzy face like Willow), stopped at the library sale and found Burgess Meredith's biography and also a Yankee book, Practical Problem Solver, and bought a Christmas gift. Then we stopped back at Shane's for lunch; neither of us turned out to be very hungry and we brought most of it home.
Brought the things home, then went out to the hobby shop for a while. From there we went up to JoAnn. Walked in the door and was gobsmacked...they have remodeled the whole thing so it looks almost exactly like the one near Gwinnett Mall. So we had to find everything again. The craft book department now looks really sloppy, and I don't think they have as many magazines. I did get a Mary Hickmott's with some beautiful blackwork autumn leaf patterns.
Then we went home and chilled out for a while, and had a bit of supper (I had the oatmeal and yogurt I didn't have this morning) before heading out to Avondale to see the Atlanta Radio Theatre performance of Island of Dr. Moreau. We got there in time to say hello to Amy and chat with Lin before the performance.
Moreau is, as always, intense. By the time it finishes, you are wrung dry. They also did three short pieces, a Rory Rammer piece ("Set Loose the Dogs of Time"), "Inhuman Rights," and a story I wrote for "Bumpers Crossroads" many years ago, "The Stray Dog," and there was an enjoyable musical performer, Julie Gribble, as well. After the performance, we stayed on to chat with Daniel and Clair, then drove home to continue a different chat with Emma, Rodney, Mike, and Meggan.
(Incidentally, we took the rental car today and yesterday, and were listening to WABE on Saturday morning. Found a neat show about food and cooking called "The Splendid Table." Saturday afternoon I went fishing around and found the RSS feed so we could listen to the podcasts. The show we listened to, from last year, featured a woman who wrote about food in gangster movies, and another woman who wrote a book about feeding men and boys. There is also a question-and-answer segment, and one where a person gives the hosts five ingredients in their fridge and challenges them to make a dish containing those ingredients.)
About halfway during chat I started feeling a bit off. Had two trips to the bathroom during the night, and woke up feeling nauseated as well as hungry. Had something light on my stomach before we went shopping, but just kept feeling worse and worse as we went to BJs and to Kroger. James said he know I was really sick because I completely ignored the books and the DVDs at BJs. I just wanted to get home and be quietly ill.
So after the groceries were put away and I had some oatmeal and yogurt, that's what I did. James went to the IPMS club picnic at the new Marietta Aviation Museum (which isn't open yet, but they got to tour the planes and got to see inside the building, which isn't open yet because they haven't yet gotten it from the Army) and I had a nice nap for half the afternoon and, when I was feeling a little better and had eaten some mandarin oranges and peanut butter on bread and had some milk, dubbed off the first five Castle episodes from this season.
Also put up the Hallowe'en decorations after supper, which, I'm afraid, is still aggravating my stomach, despite the fact that James drained and rinsed the ground pork thoroughly and made the pasta mixture very mild. I think the barbecue yesterday set everything off, and I haven't been exactly good with taking my Prilosec twice a day. I kept forgetting while we were away and did only mildly better this week. I cannot miss one of the damn things.
Anyway, I was done in time to watch the first episode of Sherlock on Masterpiece Mystery tonight. This is a modern-set version of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, with Watson still as a veteran of Afghanistan (but with post-traumatic stress disorder and a psychosomatic limp) and Holmes as his usual observant self, except this time he texts instead of telegraphs. I loved it—the whole thing's absolutely brilliant, and they haven't made Watson a buffoon (nor Lestrade, either, although I was getting Captain Stottelmeyer vibes from him...LOL).
Who was that playing the cabbie, though? He looked so familiar...
(Oh! they showed a preview for the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows during Extreme Home Makeover tonight. Too cool!)
» Saturday, October 23, 2010Aha!
You can find anything on the web. :-)
This is the little bakery we ate at in Boston: Maria's Pastry. And what we had was a "mustaccioti" (I knew it wasn't mascarpone; that's a type of cheese), a spice cookie with chocolate coating.
Hmmm...they say they ship anywhere in the U.S....
(Gosh, the raves over their cannoli! We should have had one. And they had chocolate torrone.)
» Friday, October 22, 2010Workin' for a Livin'
Not much to write about this week, since I was back to work. Got Twilight to a repair shop (Artcraft, where they fixed James' white truck so long ago) after the appraiser came over, and then I got a rental car. It's a white Kia Forte. Not quite a "putt-putt car," but not too bad. The doors and the trunk have a very, very light feel, though. When you close the back door, it doesn't thump, it clunks. I would imagine if someone hit you there you would get some serious damage.
Work was very light this week as not a lot of people have their budgets yet. I did forms on three orders so they will be ready to go, did one order, tried to do another, but the funds were not available yet, and answered questions from an end user about a modification. During lunch hour and after work I was able to wash a couple of loads of clothes, clean the bathrooms, and change the bed. The suitcases had finished airing out, so they were put up when James got home. It has been cool during the night and warm during the day, so being home to adjust the shades and turn the fans has been invaluable in keeping it cool inside.
We spent the evenings catching up on DVR'd items, and the last disk of the third season of Pie in the Sky, which is the last of the series available on DVD. I have decided to get The Sarah Jane Adventures via Netflix since we missed half of first season due to our DVR dying and didn't see second season at all. Also was tipped off to two wartime series done by the BBC, Wish Me Luck and Fortunes of War, whilst prowling the Burlington Barnes & Noble (gad, that was a huge bookstore—and then there was the downtown Boston Borders...Atlanta needs a better class of bookstores!).
» Tuesday, October 19, 2010Just Some Vacation Photos
» Monday, October 18, 2010What A Great Doctor Who Article!
And in The Atlantic...wow.
"The Doctor is In"
Linked from a message in the DragonCon Brittrack panel Yahoo group.
The amassed mail has arrived. Half of it went into the wastebasket, but my thyroid medication has arrived, several magazines, and—woot!—my box from Amazon: the second book in the Time Unincorporated series and the DVD set of Ellery Queen. Watching Ellery pilot; had completely forgotten this was an NBC Mystery Movie special, and used the same music. That was a great theme song.
There is a cute bit in this movie (set in 1947) where Ellery is spending the day with his cousin Penny, a little girl who attends a private school. She is dark haired in pigtails, with glasses, and is kind of a streetwise city-kid version of Addie Mills. And she's played by Franny Michel, who played Addie's best friend in The Thanksgiving Treasure (set in 1947). :-)
Speaking of mysteries, has anyone read the Bryant and May books? I had a great time with the first one, Full Dark House. Don't usually laugh aloud at books like this, but it had great bits of humor along with an eerie mystery taking place during the Blitz.
The laundry is done and piled on the bed for sorting. Still waiting for the insurance guy to call.
Never mind, he just called as I printed this. Next the adjuster will call to arrange to look at the car.
» Sunday, October 17, 2010Trip 100, Twilight -10
Well, we have had a sad end to our trip. Thank God it had nothing to do with Willow or Schuyler, or the house.
Nothing much to say about today otherwise. We'd packed a bit last night, and finished this morning, stuffing dirty clothes just about everywhere they would fit and rearranging some things. Went downstairs for breakfast and found every space taken—this hotel has been tremendously crowded; not like the Staybridge last year in Royersford, but then this is a much busier location—so we gathered up what we wanted to eat and brought it back to the room. This way I could eat the yogurt I bought and finish the milk. Had to leave the bottle of coffee syrup behind; should have used it more and earlier in the week.
Drove back to Providence, turned in the car. We are both sorry we took the upgrade. The intermediate car was certainly cushier and comfier, without sacrificing much mileage, but it was so low to the ground we practically had to crawl in and out of it. Compact cars are so much higher off the ground!
I have decided after going through security at Providence that I really despise flying anymore. It's not TSA; they were all friendly and just doing their jobs, but they almost strip you down to your underwear these days and piling that all in trays is a flat PITA. Then we just sat and waited, munched on apples and the rest of the marble cake from DeFusco's.
The ride (a much more comfortable one than coming up!) was unremarkable. We dragged across half the airport to get to baggage claim, then out to the van transport pad. Yadda yadda.
Our troubles started as we approached my car. I thought it looked like the drivers' window was open, but I figured that was my imagination. We opened the trunk to put the suitcases in, and I unlocked the passenger door to put my purse in.
First thing I noticed was all the glass everywhere and that my glove box was open. Then I noticed my satellite radio was gone. That's when I noticed the driver's window was broken in.
To make a long story short, the manager came over. They had five cars broken into last week and mine was one of them. He paid my parking fee and gave me a number to call. I don't care so much about the radio—Sirius is just such a letdown anymore—but having the window broken really hurts. I've always tried to keep that car safe and I fell down on the job. I should have put it in the glove box so no one could see it, but we've used that lot for years (but, admittedly, not in the last few years, since we haven't flown since...2002?) and never had a problem. Probably if we hadn't been in covered parking, we wouldn't have.
Anyway, we got to the vet, picked up Willow and Schuyler, and then came home, which, thankfully, was okay. Had to go out again to Publix to get milk and something for supper, but that was it.
Feeling rather numb at the moment.
[Next morning, 10/18: We had all the windows open last night. Hard to believe it was in the 40s last night and going up to 80 today. Slept badly (unfortunately not as badly as James) and woke up with a screaming headache and a sore throat, the latter probably from the lady next to me on the plane, who coughed and sneezed through half the trip. Then the dam broke: I had a good cry on James' shirt before he left for work. Now I've made the phone calls to the insurance company and am waiting for the adjuster to call me back, started a second load of clothes, filled the bird feeders, and had breakfast. You should have seen Schuyler when she saw my oatmeal; climbed right up on her branch at the front of the cage waiting for me to share! Willow is just depressed; finally has her daddy back and he had to leave...]
» Saturday, October 16, 2010Linda and James and the Blustery Day
But it was a sunny day! They had predicted for days that the noreaster's showers would last into today, and I had resigned myself to the fact that we would be possibly walking around Boston in a soggy state.
But today dawned sunny with fat, fluffy cumulus clouds and sapphire blue skies. The wind was wildly tossing the trees, but we were snug and warm in our jackets after we ate breakfast, then headed a few miles south to the Alewife T station off Route 2. This came with a huge garage, so no worries about parking spaces; alas, this T station, at least, charges for parking now. There were no tokens to buy, as they now use cards as well, called "Charlie Cards" after the famous Kingston Trio song about "Charlie on the MTA."
James asked what I wanted to do. Well, I just wanted to be there. When we emerged at Park Street, I wondered if he wanted to go on the Duck Tour again, until I checked the price. Ulp. Let's just...walk.
And so we did. We stopped at the Granary Burying Ground where Ben Franklin's parents and John Hancock lie, then strolled past King's Chapel and the Omni Parker House, where Parker House rolls were first invented. This time we followed the Freedom Trail line, walking past the site of the first Boston Public School and the old City Hall with a statue of Ben Franklin out front. This led to the downtown Borders Book store, so we went in to use the facilities. Of course we had to look around, and I found an Anne of Green Gables calendar, something I've never seen before! I have completed my calendar purchases earlier in the week, but I had to get this. I was hoping to find some "Revels" CDs, but none were in stock. I figured I could check at the Coop.
After seeing this store, and the Burlington Barnes & Noble, we agree Atlanta needs to get some better book stores. This Borders was enormous, easily twice the size of the one in Buckhead. I've never seen so many calendars in a bookstore, and there was a long row of shelves full of local books.
From there we stopped at the memorial to the Irish who died of famine in the 19th century (the potato blight killed thousands of Irish dependent on them for food, prompting the mass migration of many Irish to the United States), and then walked on to the Old State House and the Boston Massacre site, next door to one of my favorite Boston spots, the National Park Service book store. We bought a few postcards and sent one, then walked on to Fanueil Hall and Quincy Market. We walked through Newbury ComicsJames looked around at the DVDs, stickers, cards, and the biggest collection of toques I've ever seen and said "They do have comics in this comics store, don't they?" ala Ian Malcolm, and we did find them, in the rear of the shop.
We walked through Quincy Market and all the food booths, but they were having a fall festival today and the place was crowded, with nowhere to sit. James and I both had our eye on some freshly carved turkey, but we decided, because of available seating, that we would eat at Durgin-Park, a Boston institution, instead; the place was founded in 1742. You eat at long tables with checked tablecloths, and I warned James that the restaurant had a tradition of "rude" waitresses. However, we encountered a cheerful greeter and a friendly waiter, and had nothing but a pleasant time there. James got a shepherd's pie, which turned out to be huge, and I, having never had such a thing in my life, partook of a lobster roll (think a lobster-salad sandwich in a hot dog bun with lettuce). It was absolutely delicious! We both got sides of Boston baked beans, and I believe these were cooked traditionally, because they were yummy, soaked through with molasses flavor, and I don't ordinarily like beans.
After lunch, we walked out the rear of the Quincy Market complex. The last time we ventured that way, many years ago, this brought pedestrians under the dirty, smelly beams of the expressway. Since then, the "Big Dig" has swept the steel and concrete freeway away. It's absolutely miraculous, open sky and parkland in place of noisome cars. On the way there, we passed the Haymarket, the weekly farmer's market near Haymarket T station. Mary Bloemker took me there once; I remember buying a dozen oranges for a dollar. I'd forgotten how big it was, starting at the corner of North Street and all the way down Blackstone Street: stalls and stalls piled full of vegetables, fruits, and other foods.
We crossed what is now the John F. Fitzgerald Surface Road (instead of Expressway) and made our way the half-mile to the Paul Revere House and toured the inside. There are four rooms on display. One, the "hall," was in the style of the man who originally built the house in the late 1600s. The other three rooms, the kitchen, the main chamber, and the bedroom (where Paul's mother probably slept), were decorated in the style of Paul Revere's era. In the hall, an enthusiastic docent read us an account of Revere's famous ride as written by himself. On the way out, we purchased some post cards and then walked on to Christ Church (the "Old North") via the Paul Revere Mall, a wide windswept brick walkway which is covered with plaques commemorating famous Bostonians and the North End's war veterans. On the way there we passed St. Stephen's Church, which is the last surviving church in Boston designed by the famous architect Charles Bullfinch.
Christ Church is the oldest operating Episcopal church in the United States. It still has the old-fashioned enclosed pews meant to keep the attendees warm in winter, and one of the boxes was still decorated with carpeting and brocade. Members of the church bought their pews and were free to decorate them in any manner they liked. We also saw Paul Revere's son's pew, and the one belonging to General Gage. This is a beautiful church, all white inside with two chandeliers, and an enormous sounding board over the pulpit. Four angels in the choir loft were spoils from a French ship on the way to Quebec captured by a British ship. The clock in the loft still works after over 300 years.
From there we walked uphill to get a good photo of the churchI did not take my camera today; just had my phone, so any photos I eventually put up of Boston will be via Droidand to visit Copp's Burying Ground, the first cemetery in Boston and final resting place of people like Cotton Mather. I remember Copp's Burying Ground from the scene in Johnny Tremain, where Johnny cries himself to sleep there after burning his hand.
We used the Droid's Google maps again to bring us down from Copp's Hill (it provides walking directions as well) and stopped for a rest at a little Italian bakery. (The absolute other best thing about walking through this historic neighborhood is that it's still an Italian stronghold and smells delightfully of pizza and spaghetti sauce.) We both had a bottle of water and something I swore the woman called a "mascarpone," although I didn't think that word applied to what we ate. It was a lozenge (diamond) shaped cookie with a chocolate coating; the interior was a dark, rich gingerbread cookie, exquisitely cinnamon-and-ginger spicy.
We made our way back past Faneuil Hall, where a guy was beating out happy syncopation on two plastic paint buckets and a metal tray, and back to the Park Service store to use the facilities. I wanted to buy a book, but their charge machine was down, so I brushed it off. We were heading for Harvard Square anyway, and I figured I could find it in the Coop.
We got back on the T at the State Street station, where I let poor James down two wrong turns before we found the connection to the Red line. By now it was around four o'clock, so we were intending to only spend a short time at Harvard Square, and so we did. I was so disappointed when I found out the Coop no longer sells music CDs! They used to have the best music department, including a great international department! I found my LP of the soundtrack to Flambards there so many years ago. I did find the book I had seen, however, and James found a book about Otis Air Force Base.
Finally we limped on to the T once more and headed back to the parking lot. James has had a great deal of trouble walking today. He has a bone spur on one heel that is throwing off his stride and makes it difficult for him to walk. We talked about him having it taken care of; it's a big step since he will have to be out of work and that's hard for us to afford.
On the way back to the hotel, since we still had a few things in the fridge, we picked up dinner at Friendly's and went back to the hotel to eat. I found one of the later episodes of All Creatures Great and Small on the New Hampshire public TV station and realized why I didn't like them all over again. Lynda Bellingham is a good actress, but she had no chemistry at all with Christopher Timothy. The episode, about James making Helen a cabinet, just crawled by. Sad.
» Friday, October 15, 2010Light in the Darkness
We had a noreaster barge through during the night, and when we awoke, it was smoke grey outside, quite chill, and still raining, although not as hard as it had during the night (the windows were soaked). The weather report looked iffy, but we had planned for this: we were doing two indoor excursions today, out to Stockbridge where the Norman Rockwell Museum and Studio is, and to Deerfield, to the Yankee Candle flagship store. The only problem would be the long ride out.
After breakfast we set out via the Massachusetts Turnpike. For a while it looked as if it would clear upwe even had some sunshine and bits of blue skybut by the time we reached the Berkshires the weather had grown low and gloomy again. But up until we reached I-91, the roadside was aflame. You couldn't look right or left without seeing loveliness: multicolor trees marching at roadside, or curved about a pond or lake, protectively surrounding a Victorian-era home as seen from swift movement crossing an overpass. Even the brush growing up against the roadbed was brilliant with saffrons and tangerines and crimsons.
After we crossed I-91 and reached higher elevations, the color faded a bit, except for the yellows, for a good while, but it was still pretty bright by the time we reached Stockbridge.
If you've seen Norman Rockwell's painting of Christmas shopping, you know Stockbridge. It's almost close enough to New York to spit over the line. And it still looks the way it did when Rockwell painted it, although the contents of the buildings have changed, and, despite the weather, the tourists were still cheek-by-jowl. The museum and studio itself are further down the road, on a beautiful piece of land with an east view of the steep slope of the Berkshires, which, despite the overcast and rain, popped with yellow and gold.
The museum holds a gallery of paintings, most of them with some type of story attached, whether it was about one of the people in the paintings or even about Rockwell's financial status at the time it was painted. For instance, in this early painting of a boy forced to walk his infant sibling while his friends jeer at him, Rockwell commented that the boy playing the aggrieved youngster was a perfect model who could pick up whatever emotion was asked of him immediately. A few years after he posed pushing the pram, the boy was playing a prank and fell out a window to his death.
This piece of a little boy and his grandmother saying grace at a diner was something Rockwell drew that was not something he himself had observed, as many of the other paintings were, but something that was told to him. He changed many things about the characters in the portrait from the original story, but the essence remained the same.
I was really struck with all the paintings, which were so much more alive than the illustrations they spawned, but was particularly taken by this painting of a telephone lineman, which was done as an advertisement for the phone company. It has a photographic quality, especially from a distance. You expect the man to move and breathe. And of course the "Christmas Shopping in Stockbridge" is even more compelling in person. I want to step into the painting and walk those storefronts and catch snowflakes on my tongue.
There was also an exhibition of William Steig pieces at the gallery. Cartoonist for The New Yorker and illustrator of many books, Steig is probably most well-known these days for being the creator of Shrek, the original who has a much different look from his Dreamworks counterpart. The New Yorker cartoons gave me a good giggle.
Tramped out in the now steady rain to see the studio. This was Rockwell's last studio, and, he said, his finest, with windows at the north for the best light. It has been left exactly as it was when he sickened and died, down to his brushes and reference books, and a typical palette has been laid out and a painting left on the easel (something I didn't know: Rockwell did his paintings with a frame on). The famous helmet hanging on the easel in his "Triple Self-Portrait" is there, and comes with a funny story: Rockwell spied the piece while shopping in Paris and thought it was some sort of antique artifact, perhaps Napoleonic or from the Franco-Prussian war; he paid a pretty penny for it. Then he found out all the Paris firemen wore them!
Visited the gift shop (it's a state law...heh) and got a souvenir book and a magnet of "Christmas in Stockbridge" (oh, and sent a postcard to Jen before leaving; she's going to have a pile of them in a while), then went off in search of lunch. Thanks to my Droid, we found a Friendly's only a few miles away. Warm chicken soup tastes quite yummy on a chilly, rainy day.
Incidentally, the Droid has been invaluable on this trip: except for losing signal completely in Weston, it has found us directions (since the GPS unit only tells you where you are going, it doesn't show you the map of where you are and what surrounds you), places to eat, and things to see. Plus it kept me entertained at the airport during the hour delay, and I could read while waiting for lunch. Today we listened to the two most recent "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" programs on the way to Stockbridge and a "This Week in Tech" podcast on the way back.
It was approaching three, so we got on the road again to backtrack to Deerfield. This took about an hour.
So what's so great, you ask, about a giant candle store? Well, there are Yankee candles everywhere. (Mnn, some great new scents, too, like spiced orange, maple pancake, apple pie, and maple walnut.) You can't turn a corner without seeing tables of large jars; right now, of course, the Christmas and autumn scents are prominent. But it is also a place to buy gifts, foods (soup, dip, cheeseball, cake, and other mixes), pantry items like dishcloths and napkins, coffee, sports items, a few clothing items, treats (like fudge and caramel corn), cookbooks, dishes, toys, and candy.
Oh, and Christmas ornaments: within the complex there is a huge Christmas store with ornaments in designs and shapes I have never seen beforedogs, crystals, Santas in various costumes, fish, ballerinas, woodsy forest creatures, fruits, baked goods...just too many to name. One area looks like a castle and has German items, including "smokers" and nutcrackers. (Another section had an assortment of German pyramids, which made me drool.) There is an area with Christmas trees where it "snows" every four minutes (this was disappointing; I knew it wasn't real snow, but the effect is rather half-hearted). Another section has Christmas villages set up. One central area has a little animatronic stage show with country boys cracking bad puns, with little booths of different Christmas ornaments around it. One area even has the history of Yankee Candle, which started with a teenage boy named Mike Kittredge, who wanted to give his mother a gift but had no money. He used leftover crayons and a mold to make his mom a candle. Someone admired it, he used money to make more, and he was off! They even had his original tools and wax-encrusted sneakers on display. Another corner had old-fashioned candlemaking tools, both dipping and molded. A thick enough taper candle, it seems, must be dipped at least 25 times.
By the time we emerged from this wonderland it was almost six o'clock and the wind was whipping up. It was definitely chilly, too.
They say the mark of good leaf color is that they glow even as it gets dark and these leaves fulfilled that. As we drove the long road back to Burlington they were attractive up until full dark. Unfortunately full dark brought full rain. I drove as long as I could, but there was construction on Route 2, and the reflection of the headlights from oncoming traffic on the shiny panels set at the side of the road made my eyes burn and blur. I finally had to pull off at an exit and swap with James.
We had our leftover Chinese food from dinner on Sunday for supper, watching a repeat of Nature's "The Wolf That Changed America," about Ernest Thompson Seton's pursuit of Lobo the wolf.
» Thursday, October 14, 2010The World is a Carousel of Color
Those trees on I-93 heading up to Quechee Gorge were just an appetizer to me. I wanted so much more. They were like spiritual food to a starving soul.
We also wanted a little less strenuous day than yesterday.
So after breakfast we headed back up I-93 to drink in those lovely colors again. I had seen two things in my guidebook that looked promising, something called "America's Stonehenge" and also Robert Frost's farm.
Despite the GPS trying to get us to turn left in someone's driveway which it said was a road, we eventually got turned about and headed into the countryside at Salem, New Hampshire, just a few miles over the Massachusetts line. Again, trees that looked good enough to eat: ones that brought you in mind of hot cider, pumpkin pie, cinnamon rolls, gingerbread, cranberry juice; the sweet, spicy tastes of fall to accompany the colors.
"America's Stonehenge," formerly known as Mystery Hill, contains the remains of an ancient settlement of man-made stone caves and chambers, carbon-dated back to 2000BC (nothing overwhelmingly large like Stonehenge, by the way; it is more a tumble of stone atop a hill). There is evidence that the area was, like Stonehenge, used as a giant astronomical calendar. Uprights mark solstice and equinox lines, and also those for the four major pagan holidays. Some of the fallen rocks have been put back into place by the researchers and restorers, and it's a wonder anything was left because there was a homestead in the area as late as the 1800s. One of the rocks was used as a fireplace and the lady of the homestead planted lilacs in another place.
You see a film before you go in, with a bit of a "woo-woo" factor inserted, complete with eerie music, but the place can be seen as a plain historical site and is too neat for words, especially going there in the fall. You have to walk through a winding path through the woods to get there and return, and that alone was worth the price of admission, just you and the trees and the birds (chickadees calling "dee-dee-dee" constantly), the fallen leaves underfoot, carpeting the earth and the multiple tree roots which often made steps up the slope, and the steady crunch of fallen acorns under shoesoles.
Oh, and one more thing: we kept hearing what sounded like little chirps, but not like little bird chirps. Then one got closer to us as we walked toward the formation, accompanied by a rustling sound, and a little head popped up from between two rocks. The whole place is occupied by chipmunks! While they are wary, they are not starkly afraid; they stood still and posed for photos unless we got too close. So cute!
Once finished there, we headed to Robert Frost's farm, which was only a few miles north in Derry. James drove for a bit so I could film a movie of driving down the road with this fabulous color everywhere. Sadly, the Frost Farm had closed for the season on Columbus Day (I'll say it: "Missed it by thaaaaaat much..."), but we pulled into the parking lot nevertheless, because the site was an entire microcosm of New England fall color. There is a big meadow behind the house and barn, surrounded on three sides by trees, and trees that were at the moment in full, vibrant colors. I took my camera and went crazy, snapping shots in various aspects, getting the gradually clouding sky in some photos, doing artsy things like getting the edge of the white barn next to a glowing red/orange/green maple tree. Zowee, wowee, wow, wow, wow, wow! [insert incoherent superlatives here]
By now it was lunch time, so we stopped at a place we'd seen advertised on television, the "99" (because the original place was on 99 State Street in Boston). Again, informal, rather like a Shoney's or a Friendly's crossed with a steak-house look. In fact, that's what we had, sirloin tips, with real mashed potatoes that would have met the Clay Weaver approval test.
After lunch I told James he "owed" me a cross-stitch store since we skipped all those Christmas shops and bookstores yesterday. :-) So we drove about 40 minutes north to the town of North Hampton and Yankee Cross Stitch. Oh, this was a lovely storethere's not anything like this within driving distance of Atlanta anymore, except for Abecedarius, and I never feel welcome there. The lady here was very welcoming! I bought two small patterns, an autumn band sampler, and a pattern that jokes about starting stitching projects and never finishing them.
On the way to the cross-stitch store, we stopped at Sanborn Candies. I had read in one of my guidebooks that you should try them if you love chocolates, and I never did go by Sweenors for some orange and coffee creams. So I got those here, and also some lime creams, a couple of wintergreen creams, and the rest in peppermint creams (all in dark chocolate, of course). James loves key lime pie, so we tried one of the lime creams on the way to the cross-stitch shop. To quote George Takei: "Oh, myyyy!" LOL. Good taste and even better aftertaste.
On the way out we had to stop at something called The History Store. It was half historical books and half models, both vehicles and figures, and also historical DVDs (fiction and nonfiction) and some magazines and children's history books. Really neat place! James got a magazine, and I found a book about fifth columnists on the American homefront during World War II. It was barcoded at $15, labeled at $10, and he charged me $5. Hey, I like that!
I wanted one more try at the ocean, so took the GPS's advice and was led on a circuitous route through New Hampshire and Massachusetts back roads on 1A, through Seabrook, across the border to Newburyport, Rowley, Ipswich and Essex. At one point it had me get on 128 and then off again. Absolutely bizarre. So we didn't arrive in Gloucester until almost 5 p.m. and had only a few minutes to wander around the Fisherman's Memorial area, with its statue of an oilskinned main steering a ship's wheel and memorial plaques to those from Gloucester killed at sea. The approaching nor'easter had pushed scattered clouds along the sky, highly mackerel-striped, and it was all quite atmospheric.
From there, however, it was just a mile or so from the street we were on to the end of Route 128 (which begs the question why the fripping GPS didn't take us down I-93 to the I-95/128 combination to 128 north, which would have been so much easier). Good thing the scenery on those back roads made up for it; except as you got closer to the shore the trees were still stunning down into Massachusetts.
(And it was so good to be riding 128 again; lots of nice memories of Sunday rides with Mom and Dad to visit Uncle Johnny and Aunty Susie, and Uncle Petey and Aunty Ola. I waved at Northshore as we went byway back when it was still an open-air mall, I got my tricycle there.)
We were back to the hotel in time to attend the Sundowner, which tonight was panini sandwiches, then returned to the car briefly to go to A.C. Moore. (Apparently I have a talent for finding hotels with A.C. Moore stores nearby; unfortunately this doesn't apply to where we live.) There were some lovely little craft things I would have bought had we been driving, like little sleds that could be painted for winter or Christmas. What I was hoping to find were the little painted wooden shapes I have been buying there for years; Michaels has some, but they are mostly generic. Moore has always had them in different holiday themes. Sadly, they don't seem to stock them anymore, or at least don't stock them in this store.
James was feeling a bit off, so we just made a brief stop at Stop'n'Shop for more water (we'd intended to refill the bottles we bought in Rhode Island, but the water here is dreadful) and a couple of chocolate yogurts. I had the strawberry yogurt this morning...it wasn't bad, but was just not the kind of taste I like.
» Wednesday, October 13, 2010By the Sea, By the Sea...
We should have gone to bed earlier last night, but James was scanning his netbook for viruses (none, thankfully) and we were enthralled watching the trapped Chilean miners being rescued one by one. It is wonderful that this rescue was able to take place. Mining accidents usually end dreadfully.
So we didn't get up until eight, and weren't on the road until after nine, and then got stuck in a couple of miles of rush hour traffic. However, we soon broke free of that and were zipping on our way to Cape Cod.
Last night James had surfed around and found a small military museum located in Bourne, which is just on the other side of the Cape Cod Canal. So we decided to go out there the "quick" way, through Route 6, which is a pretty bland ride until you get to the Lower Cape (that's the "forearm" part), all the way to the tippety-tip, and then amble our way back via 6A, the more scenic route, and stop at the little museum on the way back, since it was open until 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.
It was a long trek, down Route 128 (I don't care who says it's really I-95; it's still 128 to me) and then via Route 3 past Hingham, Duxbury, and Plymouth, and finally to the Sagamore Bridge over the canal, so we didn't arrive at Race Point, the very edge of Cape Cod, until after noon. We parked at the edge of the dunes and climbed up and then down to the beach. The view was magnificent: the pale, soft sand meeting the sea in an undulating line, the waves flickering dark and darker blue, the sky a vivid blue above it. The Atlantic was relatively calm today, with rare foams of surf rolling upon the shore, and it was just perfect, cool enough for me to wear my new sweatshirt but still pleasant in the sun. The breeze was mild, and smelled of warmth and brine.
From there we thought we might get a bite to eat in Provincetown, so we first stopped at the Pilgrim monument (despite what some people believe due to Victorian legend, the Pilgrims did not initially set foot on Plymouth Rockthey first landed at Provincetown), which is a tall tower like an Italian campanile. All it needs is the bell.
Alas, we kept getting turned around. We did go past the Pilgrim landing spot, at which a wedding was taking place, and a very pretty place for a wedding indeed, a little flower-decked park at the edge of the water, and through the back neighborhoods of Provincetown, where every home seemed to be some type of an inn or bed and breakfast, some with standard names, some with cute beach theme names.
Eventually we just drove south again, consulting the "find" function on the GPS. Problem with this was that most of the restaurants we found were closed for the season; there is a disadvantage to coming to Cape Cod on the off season. We finally found a place called the Wellfleet Bookstore and Restaurant (yes, leave it to us to find a place to eat attached to a bookstore). The place was informal, but the food was goodI had some huge broiled scallops along with a mild rice pilaf, while James had "steak frites." When we were finished, we did stop in the bookstore, which was a trip: it's been there since 1934 and is crammed ceiling to floor with old wooden shelves and bins full of used books and magazines of all descriptions, including old National Geographics andgood heavens, what flashbacks!1970s issues of "Tiger Beat" with "Bobby" (Sherman), "Sadjid" (Kahn), the Cowsills, Barnabas Collins, etc. on the cover. There was even a 1920s automobile review magazine, and old comic books. It definitely would have needed hours to look through, and we didn't have them, but I did find the first of the Beany Malone books in an inexpensive paperback and a James Thurber volume (The Middle-Aged Man on the Flying Trapeze) I didn't have.
We also stopped at another small bookstore in an old house, but weren't there long, either.
Since it was getting late and we did want to stop at the little museum in Bourne, we didn't go out to the Marconi Beach site, nor did we stop at some of the delectable-looking Christmas and book shops on 6A between Orleans and Sandwich. It was a pretty ride, though, through those towns and also Brewster, Dennis, and Barnstable, passing tidal inlets, salt marshes, restaurants and other seasonal businesses buttoned up tight, smallholdings with a horse or two, big summerhouses, homes decorated for fall and with the same "hospitality candles" as in Pennsylvania last year. (Oh, on the way in we stopped at a gas station to use the facilities, and I struck up a conversation with a woman from Pennsylvania, who just happened to live in Paoli, where we took the train!)
We reached the little museum, housed in the building of the Bourne Historical Society, just about 5:30, but it turned out it didn't open until 6:30. How odd! So we wound our way through rush-hour traffic queued in a rotary (that's New England-ese for a traffic circle, or a roundabout if you're British) and heading for the Bourne Bridge, found a Dunkin Donuts (this is New England, after all; you can't go more than a few blocks without finding one), and both had one of their "flats," a sandwich-type thing, and some cocoa. We found an alternative route back.
When we arrived at the museum, a lively older lady was just getting out of her car with some supper for her friends. We helped her carry it inside, and this is when we found out the museum, which was originally built as a town library (one of those delightful old-fashioned ones, made of yellow brick, with dark paneling everywhere), wasn't just small, it was just a tiny thing. Besides the DUKW WWII-era vehicle outside, the only other really military memorabilia they had was a glass display case of medals, a couple of pamphlets, and other little things. James was so disappointed!
However, there were two walls of display cases set up very nicely in a "now and then" fashion: children's toys, women's purses, clothing, hats, housecleaning items, travel, and a few others. One display was a bit macabre: it was a display of dolls dressed to represent the characters in a bizarre murder case, in which four members of a family, a woman, her husband, and two of their daughters were poisoned with morphine and aconite by the nurse who was supposed to be caring for them! Another case contained memorabilia from a young 19th-century widow named Rebecca Burgess. Her husband was a sea captain and died during one of their voyages, and she took over command of the ship, navigating it safely into port at Chile. She was 22 when he died and never married again.
So by now it was late and we had a long ride to go in the dark, made longer by road construction down in Dedham. There was no place to pull over to swap drivers, so James had to do the whole distance on his own. By the time we got to the hotel he wanted a plain burger, but he could not get into the right-hand turn lane in time, so we stopped at the Barnes & Noble instead for about 20 minutes: this is a huge store, two stories, larger than the B&N on Akers Mill Road. And what a selection of magazines...I saw ones I never knew existed, including two devoted to watches. There were at least ten shelf units of local interest books. Wow.
And then James got his burger and we were finally able to roost.
NB...we saw some places with odd names today, which we swore we would remember and of course we have forgotten, but I do remember the one place we saw yesterday in Vermont and did a double take: it was the Celtic Buddhist Center! Well, they say you can find anything in Vermont...)
» Tuesday, October 12, 2010In Living Color
Most of today is difficult to write about because it's hard to paint some things with words. You might want to go to Yankee Magazine's website and look at some photos of this year's autumn color. :-) But I'll try.
I either set the hotel alarm badly or it doesn't work properlythis is not a new hotel like last year's, and several things in the room are a bit wonky (but 90 percent of it is comfy and quiet)but it never went off, so we were up a half hour late. After breakfast we headed north against a patchy sky that gradually cleared into bright blue.
We were headed to Quechee Gorge, but most of the best color was on the long ride up I-93 and then I-89. Every turn and curve of the freeway was a calendar photo, and the colors were so numerous it would take hours to name them: pale yellows like "fancy" maple syrup, pale cantaloupe color, cherry red shaded with pale brown, striking golds, rusts, burgundies, trees of yellow and red so close to each other that from a distance they shaded to orange, the white bones of the birch trees against scarlet, tangerine, and lemon, themselves against the dark green of the pines.
By the time we did a switchoff to I-89, the color was actually paling, with more and more bare birches predominating. From then on we went in and out of color.
Quechee Gorge was actually past peak, with only the bright yellows remaining. Nevertheless we walked down to the small dam, then walked across the bridge to see the water bounce and rush between the rocky sides of the gorge from either side of the road. There were busloads of tourists coming in every few hours. One group was from England!
We had lunch at the little snack bar next to the gift shop (it's a state law...LOL...I know because I got a calendar and a small print of maple leaves) followed by a chaser of Gifford's ice cream. James had "Moose Tracks" and I had "Deer Tracks," the difference being the base on his was vanilla and mine was coffee. We also walked across the parking lot to the little row of shops: wine and cheese and some other foods and a Christmas shop which was okay. The gift shop has changed little from the first time I was out here in 1970, save it was enlarged to include a clothing corner and it no longer is infused with the overwhelming scent of sweet cedar (this was back in the era of cedar souvenirs from calendar bases to ashtrays to other nicknacks engraved with the name of the place you were visiting).
From there we were off to the Vermont Country Store. Last time we went to the Rockingham store, which is directly off I-91; this time we were a little more adventurous and drove to the original Weston store, winding between open fields, a persistent stream, houses decked in cornstalks and scarecrowsand a few minutes of drama winding through a one-lane construction site which included a gaping hole to the right of said lane while going through the town of Ludlow.
Suddenly the road curves to the left and there is a little village of about ten buildings, a few houses and the rest shops. The Vermont Country Store is actually in three buildings, plus has a restaurant attached. Across the street is a Christmas shop, a cheese shop, and a "general store" which sells gift items. As always, the Vermont Country Store is a trip, with candy, cheeses, treats, kitchen goods, games, clothing, bedding, Christmas things, books, and more. In the back there is a scale (as in weighing) collection, and old appliances dot the store: a 30s vintage stove and washing machine (with the wringer to the side), along with a lovely Hoosier cabinet.
I told Sherrye that I really wanted one of the Lanz nightgowns, but I thought it over and it's really silly to spend that kind of money on something I'll only wear two weeks out of the year (if that much!). I got only about a pound of mint julep candies, which are mint taffy squares. They used to be one of my two favorite candies at Tom's Superette when I was a kid. Tom and Molly still sold them for a penny, and you could buy a few along with the chocolate-flavored Squirrel Nut candies for only a nickel. James got some sugar-free candies in flavors he can't get at home.
The Christmas store across the way is lovely; just packed with trees decorated in various themes, ornaments atop of ornaments, a few Hallowe'en things in a corner, and a wall of Christmas village items. I could have bought many things, but I really have no room for more and most, including the lovely pale orb with autumn leaves on it, would be too fragile for the plane. I did find a leaf ornament that matched the three Jen gave me, so I will have an even number of them (I have mounted hers in the china cabinet), and two CDs, "New England Yuletide," by the folks who did "New England Christmastide" (I have "Christmastide 2," but have never been able to find #1), and "Christmas in Tuscany" because of the Italian Christmas songs included, like "Tu Schendi Delle Stelle." We also went in the general store where James bought me the loveliest fall sweatshirt.
We went in search of the highway and a gas station; the GPS mislead us on the latter, but we remained on the road as it went out to I-91. Well, it did finally get us there, but a nine-mile gap of it was a gravel road. Wonderful. At least it was a two-lane gravel road, not like the winding Virginia roads we found ourselves on after visiting the Walton Museum five years ago! Color flittered in and out, and we saw a good deal more of country Vermont than we expected!
We emerged at Bellows Falls, Vermont, for gasoline, and let the GPS take us home, cutting diagonally across Vermont to New Hampshire to Massachusetts. Due to our gravelly delay, we wouldn't make it back to the hotel in time for the "Sundowner" meal served on Tuesday, so about a half-hour out from the hotel we stopped at Friendly's for supper. Their chicken soup is quite good.
James is fretting right now because it looks as if his netbook has a virus. He was on Comics.com last night when a download started out of nowhere. He shut the browser down immediately, but now his virus blocker won't update. Wretched idiots. If he can't get the virus off, he's got no way of redoing the computer, as it didn't come with operating system disks.
» Monday, October 11, 2010Land From the Past
We were up about 7:30 for breakfast downstairs. The breakfast area was so busy we had to eat in the armchairs near the fireplace. I hope this calms down after the holiday!
In the absence of chocolate yogurt I tried the blueberry; it wasn't all that bad. Usually this fruit-flavored stuff is too sweet and artificial.
Since it was Columbus Day, the traditional day for leaf peeping, I was reluctant to go northward only to be stuck in traffic. So we headed for a different destination, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
In 1939 Lois Lenski wrote Ocean-Born Mary, a fictional adventure based around a real historical figure, a little girl whose life and family's lives were spared by a pirate in exchange for her being named "Mary" after his mother. The story took place in "Strawbery Banke," the original name of the settlement which became Portsmouth. Many years ago the city of Portsmouth reclaimed the area that was "Puddle Dock," a tidal inlet, and created an historical area. Now, I've thought it was chiefly a colonial-based restoration, but it turns out the whole history of the neighborhood, from colonial era to the 1950s, is represented.
But before we reached Portsmouth, we stopped at the New Hampshire welcome center and I discovered a flyer for the USS Albacore, a 1950s submarine that was used for submarine design research. So we went there first.
This sub is really in drydock; in fact, it's mounted on concrete supports in a hollow of land. One of the things they were testing was the design of the sub itself, and it looks like a big porpoise, with an unusually smooth skin with few protrusions. There is a guided tour via speakers set along the dry dock and inside the sub.
As in all submarines, I constantly wonder how on earth they managed in that small, small space. The bunks appear barely two feet apart. The top ones sometimes have bolts or valves protruding into them. On this sub, even the captain had to share his stateroom with the executive officer. Everything is so tightly packed together you wonder how they can breathe. Nevertheless, it's neat crawling through the hatches and seeing all the equipment.
The ticket building also has a small gift shop ("It's a state law," as Daniel Kiernan always says) and a tiny submarine museum that is mostly plaques from other subs, but also has a small display about cooking on board a sub, a tribute to the sunken sub Thresher, and other small items. James found three books for himself: one on Albacore herself, one about the Portsmouth Naval Yard, and one listing all naval vessels you can see.
From there the GPS directed us to Strawbery Banke. It was about noon and we should have had lunch, but instead I stuffed a couple of Odwalla bars and some crasins in my pocket for us and we went on.
It was a neat tour. Some of the houses have been restored, some haven't, some are restored but are private homes; the ones that are open have a flag next to them (usually a US flag, but a couple of colonial homes have British flags). The first place we saw was the Goodwin Mansion, originally the property of the first Republican governor of New Hampshire. Some time during his ownership a young woman worked as a maid there. She later married and had a son who became governor of New Hampshire, and she appealed to her son to save the house from urban renewal. It was cut into pieces and moved from a nearby street to be reassembled at Strawbery Banke. This came with a lovely garden out back and at the side, including a "fairy garden" of shells and twisted wood.
One house was simply an example of how they deconstructed the homes and did the research. Another was a duplex that showed two different tenants of a building, one from 1790 and one from 1950. In another, a man was giving an exhibition of fireplace cooking; he even had a real sugar loaf. One had a lovely herb garden. One was the home of a childless widow who brought up her nine English nieces and nephews. One building was an 18th century tavern. One contained early tools.
One home was the property of the grandparents of Thomas Bailey Aldrich, the author of Story of a Bad Boy. He visited there and lived there for four years during his teens, an only child who was indulged by his parents. The docent there was quite opinionated!
Our favorite exhibits were the Shapiro house and the Abbott store. The Shapiro house was the home of a prosperous Ukrainian-Jewish family who arrived in Portsmouth in the early 20th century. This house had a woman re-enacting the role of the lady of the house. She showed us each of the foods she was preparing, including the Ukrainian version of biscotti, which, she told us, is a cookie each culture has, they just call it something different. I was enchanted by her kitchenit had the painted beadboard and faucets that reminded me of my grandfather's house.
The other was a small grocery store that had been operated until 1950, but which was dressed out as a World War II era store. It was closed when we went by there, and we waited under an arbor munching on our Odwalla bars, then checking out the herb garden, and the World War II display in a shed at the side of the store (there was also a victory garden). Then a stout middle-aged woman dressed in clothing that a woman in that era might have worn came hurrying along, telling us that she was Mrs. Tucker, a neighbor who Miz Abbott had asked to do the favor of re-opening the store. Miz Abbott herself had to run down to deliver a telephone message. She asked that we write out our grocery orders and leave them on the counter and they would be put together when Miz Abbott returned. The store is fab, with all old brands in their 40s containers on the shelves.
Our last stop was the art gallery that had beautiful paintings of the area. One was particularly striking; from a distance it looked like a photograph, and the artist used white paint in a way that made it mimic beaming sunlight. It was lovely!
We went through the gift shopit's a state lawand found something neat: a big trade paperback called Produce & Conserve, Share & Play Square: The Grocer and the Consumer on the Home-Front Battlefield During World War II. It tells the story of WWII food rationing against the backdrop of the Abbott store. It was a private press book and we were quite afraid to ask the price, but it turned out to be only $10! Majorly cool.
By now we were ravenous, so we drove over the river to Kittery, Maine, where there is a humongous string of outlet malls. We ate at the Weathervane, a seafood restaurant; the baked stuffed shrimp was quite good, with crisp crabmeat stuffing to boot! Then we went next door to browse an overstock store called "Ooops!", drove down to check out a hobby shop (just radio control stuff), and finally ended up at a huge establishment called the Kittery Trading Post (which started in 1932 in a shed) which sells outdoor clothing, camping stuff, hunting gear, knives and guns, warm indoor clothing like women's flannel nightgowns, and even books. (Yes, another one found me. It's The Big Book of New England Curiosities.)
We had a slow ride back to the hotel, as traffic was very thick and stop-and-go in several places. We got back just in time for House, then watched a Law & Order rerun before the steampunk episode of Castle.
» Sunday, October 10, 2010To the Seashore One Day and Heading North Another
An eventful couple of days, Saturday which unfortunately opened with me not having slept much. I have been so stressed out planning this trip that I cannot unwind, and the bed was narrow. Debbie made us a hearty breakfast of French toast and English muffins and eggs, and we ate and chatted. Richard hadn't been feeling well the previous night and we were glad to know that he was better.
I had to go 'round to my old house just for the heck of it. I had already seen it on Google: the new owner had the trellis over the front door and window taken down, and had put in a new front door. They also took out Mom's azaleas, which kinda hurt, but after all it isn't my house anymore. They also painted the aluminum sidings gray! Interesting. The house was gray before the sidings went on.
Then we headed for I-95 South to 138, to go to Newport. On the way there James wanted to stop at the Quonset Point Air Museum, so we did. We were pleasantly surprised to see that it has been fixed up from the last time we came, with a coat of paint on the main wall facing the street, and nice new exhibit boards to replace the badly-typed ones, and several of the aircraft we saw last time outside and/or in disrepair had been painted. There was a small exhibit of V-mail, and of a flight to the South Pole, and a few other things. I even found an old Carolyn Hayward book on sale for a dollar in a pile of old books on the counter, and we bought a gift for Jen.
It was lovely outside, an absolutely gorgeous blue sky and a nice breeze off the ocean, chilly enough we could wear open jackets. I spun around outside with the sheer joy of having wonderful cool weather.
We were there about an hour before traveling on to Newport. We went over the new Jamestown Bridge (the old having been reduced to a fishing pier). Boy, they get you coming and going now over the Newport Bridge, a fat $4 each way!
The city part of Newport was crowded; not just the usual folks on a nice Saturday, but folks there for Oktoberfest and also off a cruise ship in the harbor. We just drove through, frustratingly behind a very slow-moving tour bus. We did see the new project at the old "Swiss village," raising heirloom animals. There were also llamas and sheep on the grounds in front of Fort Adams. We discovered they have a new rugby field in there (and guys were playing rugby).
The marina was full of all sorts of sailboats and very close by was the cruise ship, the Norwegian cruise lines ship Norwegian Dawn. You could see the little excursion boats going back and forth to the city dock.
There was a tour at one o'clock, but we would not have gotten out on time to enjoy Brenton Point, get lunch, and get to Sherrye's house by three, so we skipped it; just bought a postcard for Jen and went on to Brenton Point. The kite seller was there with over a dozen multicolor kites, and a Del's Lemonade truck was parked up in the parking area, so we both had a lemonade and walked along the sea wall, then went down to the shingle and near a jetty of rocks to watch the ocean and all the sail- and speedboats, and one big barge being pushed by a tugboat.
It was just bliss.
Sadly, bliss has to end. I took a little film of the scene and then we went on, down Bellevue Avenue where the mansions are and then back to the bridges. We arrived in Exeter about 2:30 and had lunch and then went to visit Sherrye and Walt.
It was so good to see Sherrye again. I hadn't seen her since my mom's funeral. We just gabbed and gabbed, and I showed her the pictures I had brought with me, and we had fun trying to fend off their dogs, two beagles that they adopted when their owner couldn't take care of them anymore. Bridget is nine and Bella is eight; Bella looks "like Eeyore," as Sherrye said, and Bridget is a kisser. And of course with my stupid allergy I can't be "kissed."
We chatted right on till suppertime and finally just ordered pizza which Walt went to pick up, and all the way until nine o'clock, when we really had to be heading back to Debbie's. We got there about ten, and Richard was up watching baseball, so we talked to him for a while before going to bed, and whether it was the cold air last night (it got down to 38°F) or that I was just tired out, I did sleep!
Oh, I have to mention Debbie and Richard's dogs, who greeted us last night with a rousing chorus that woke Debbie. There is Brandy, a mixed-breed shepherd who only has three legs. She is the "pack leader" and lets the other dogs know it. Dolly is the Basset hound who steals food off the kitchen counters. Molly is a sad-eyed beagle. The littlest and newest is Pollyanna, "the instigator." Polly is some sort of chihuahua/maybe rat terrier or MiniPin. One night they were driving down the street in the rain and saw Polly running loose. They stopped and opened the door to check on her and she jumped right in the car. They never found her owner.
Debbie loves animals. She also has a tortoise at her work.
On the way home last night I called my cousin Donna to see if we could meet for breakfast. We were originally supposed to meet at Panera Bread near her house, but I wanted to go to T's on Park Avenue, because I have been dreaming about their chicken soup for five years. Alas, they only serve brunch foods on Sunday, no chicken soup. :-( I had a waffle and an enormous bowl of oatmeal with apples and granola that was so big I had to take half away with me.
Anyway, while we were waiting for Donna to arrive, a woman walked in who looked very familiar to me, but I figured it was just me. Then she turned around and came back, and, oh, my goodness, it was Donna Longo DiMichele, who I went to Hugh B. Bain Junior High with and whom I've been talking to on Facebook! She was there with a friend, Monica, and we were talking as my cousin came in and we all got introduced, and Donna took a picture, and then our name was called.
We had a nice long chat with cousin Donna, and then she was off home to make dinner, and we were ready to go on, except that James couldn't find his sunglasses. He was pretty sure he had shoved them in something to keep them safe, but we couldn't see them in the suitcases. So first we went to mail a postcard to Jen, and then we went back to Debbie and Richard's house to see if we'd left them behind. They were not in the room, and finally someone asked, "Are they in your pouch?" and James looked and there they were! He doesn't usually keep them there. We wouldn't have minded, but they are prescription, not just drugstore sunglasses.
Anyway, we got to see Debbie and Richard's daughter Deanna after all, and her husband, so that worked out. We stopped at Stop'n'Shop for some bottled water and fruit, and also got some coffee syrup (you can take the girl out of Rhode Island, but you can't take the Rhode Island out of the girl!). We had, before breakfast, also stopped at DelFusco's Bakery because James remembered how good their lemon squares are. Let's say we now have dessert for the rest of the week! We got lemon squares, cheesecake squares, brownies, two cannolis, and a marble loaf cake.
Then we headed north to Burlington, MA, and our hotel.
It was another lovely day, not a cloud in the sky, and never got over the mid-60s. We fairly zipped along, listening to Gaelic Storm, until we got to Burlington. I had not plugged the hotel address into the GPS, so we were unsure of what exit, besides it being Burlington. So we got off at the second exit, and found a Borders where we could look it up in the parking lot. Turned out the road next to the Borders led to a back road to the hotel.
This is another Staybridge Suites, like we stayed in last year. But when we got in, the rooms weren't ready, so back we went to the Borders and the L.L. Bean next door. We walked about the L.L. Bean, then went into Borders, and I found two great calendars for next year, a New England one, and a vintage Boston one published by Arcadia, who does the Images of America books. Also found a locally-published book about a boy who travels back in time to Evacuation Day (when George Washington's army escaped the British).
By the time we got back to the hotel, registered and moved in, and got a breath, we realized it was time for supper. We found a Chinese place in Woburn "just down the road apiece" that was in an old mansion. The meal was quite good; we had some pork potstickers as a appetizer and sesame beef with fried rice on the side (unfortunately the fried rice had peas and carrots in it). But the beef was great, and we have enough for another meal.
We were going to stop at A.C. Moore across the street, and the supermarket, but I messed up my supper getting scared as we left the hotel and I realized I hadn't seen my camera all day! I was afraid I had left it at T's and was nearly in panic mode, but it was under my jacket in the back seat. So I had a "sit" while James went to the supermarket. All he came back with was milk for me because he'd forgotten his phone in the charger. We are certifiably hopeless.
So now we are just relaxing and deciding where to go tomorrow.
In other news, I went to start this blog entry, and "the Mouse," my netbook, turned on, got to the Windows menu, and shut off. And kept doing it. It kept shutting down after 30 seconds, whether it got to Windows or not. James just took the back off it, then put it back on and has gotten it to boot up, so we are seeing if it stays on. Too weird.
» Saturday, October 09, 2010Too Much To Day...
...to write about...trip to the seashore and to see a friend.
And dogs...lots of dogs...
» Friday, October 08, 2010"Leavin' on a Jet Plane" and Other Tales
What a morning! We were up at six promptly, sorely puzzling the fids. Suitcases were all packed once the hairbrushes were in, so they stood like sentinels as we got a little bite, not knowing when breakfast would be.
James did see a shooting star this morning as he walked Willow. Thought that was cool!
Then we packed the furred-and-feathered ones into the car, locked everything, and were off!
Well, one bobble--forgot my phone and the chargers, but we were only two miles from home when it happened.
Traffic was very reasonable for early rush hour on Friday; perhaps folks taking an additional day for Columbus Day weekend. Arrived at the vet without incident and said a semi-lachrymose farewell to Willow and Bandit.
Well, we'd talked about stopping for breakfast but decided not to. We ended up getting to Hartsfield and through the rabbit warren that is security (although everyone at TSA was very nice, not like those grumpy goats at Independence Mall last year) about 9:30. There was a Wendy's right across from our gate, so James got breakfast while I attended to my phone, which had rung five times from the moment we dropped Twilight off at the Park and Go.
Turns out it was Delta telling me our flight was delayed nearly an hour. Sigh.
So James sat watching The High and the Mighty on his phone, and I was watching "Spider" on mine (have I mentioned lately that I love my Droid?), and both of us made separate trips to the little bookstore across the way and the little newsstand further down.
Finally it was time to board. I think this is the smallest jet I've ever flown on, as the smallest plane I flew on was a prop. It makes a city bus look big, and we were in the last row, near the engines--very noisy! During takeoff the flight attendant had to sit on a jump seat in front of the bathroom door!
And as always, someone had too much perfume on.
Never did finish this--plane landed at 3:05, only 35 minutes late. After a "pit stop," our luggage was already on the carousel. Next we got our rental car; the had a car one size up for only $2 more, so we took it. Turned out to be an Impala, which is what I learned to drive on.
We were hungry since we ate lunch at ten, but Debbie would be feeding us at 5:30, so we just had a couple of doughnuts; there is no icky icing on the chocolate frosted here! Then we went to Borders and I found a book on Rocky Point park!!!
The rest of the night was spent having a delicious supper--Debbie made lasagna and sausage and meatballs and salad and roasted chicken thighs!--and later some pie and cake, and we talked for five straight hours with Debbie, her husband Richard, Debbie's sister Paula, her husband Jimmy, their youngest son Nicky, and Debbie and Richard's son Richie and his girlfriend Taylor before stumbling off to bed.
» Thursday, October 07, 2010Fine Morning for a Picnic
Our annual picnic took place today, at a different park than previously, Wade-Walker out in Stone Mountain. Man, what a drive! and I don't mean that in a complimentary sense, either. It takes us about an hour to get to Stone Mountain Park, so, knowing it was a weekday, I accordingly left 90 minutes before I was supposed to be there.
I just made it. There was an accident on Spring Road and I had to backtrack and go down Windy Hill instead. It took me nearly 50 minutes to go the seven miles to the freeway, which was a little slow between I-75 and GA400, but otherwise was quite nice, as was Route 78. Then I had to twist about some surface streets to get to the park, but the trusty GPS on the Droid got me there fine.
Of course since I got there on time, it didn't start on time; our branch chief's GPS couldn't find the park. :-) So we had awards—I got my 25 year certificate and pin—and then lunch: burgers, hot dogs, bean salad, potato salad, regular salad, and cookies and cake for dessert. It was quite chill when we got there (even I was huddled in a jacket), but by the time we had lunch it was again getting warm. I had, by this time, put the certificate and pin back in the car and disposed of my jacket.
The path to the pavilion area led backward into the trees, and I had a nice walk, perhaps about a mile, through the trees where it was nice and cool, and then back. Several other co-workers had the same idea. On the return route I stopped to watch a chickadee flitting back and forth between two trees, and you could hear nuthatches nearby. I stopped to watch the volleyball players for a while, then took another walk through a wooded bit and past the baseball fields.
Unfortunately they were playing really loud music at the pavilion and after a while the sound began to make my head pound and the sun just added to the ache. So I came home by the office, where I left out a folder for an order that may be needed, and then went home to write various e-mails and to call a vendor about an upcoming modification. Finally I nursed my headache for a half-hour before James came home with some grilled chicken.
» Wednesday, October 06, 2010Dick Cavett and John Wayne
James was telling me about reading this, so I went out and found it:
Awesome, and Then Some
More Awesomeness, Or John Wayne Part 2
On the Night of His Assassination...
...[w]hat was in Lincoln's Pockets?
We saw these artifacts at the Lincoln Exhibit at the Atlanta History Center.
» Monday, October 04, 2010Some Good News, Some Bad News
No, it's not WENNsday... :-)
The good news is that it was in the 40s this morning.
The bad news is that it feels like I'm getting a headcold.
Why now when the weather's just getting so nice? [makes raspberry sound]
» Sunday, October 03, 2010A Beautiful Blue Day
It was definitely hard to get up this morning. I had not been feeling well last night—a problem that hadn't shown up in a long time—and I didn't go to sleep until late.
However, it was a lovely day to be out: it didn't get over 66°F, the sky was a gorgeous brilliant blue, and there was a breeze out of the northwest that tossed the trees.
We wanted to go out to one of the outlet malls today; Tanger was only one mile further, but we went up to the North Georgia Premium Outlets instead. We arrived before the crowd and had lunch before we went shopping. James found three pairs of jeans and a new wallet for a great price, and two T-shirts with pockets, and I bought socks and underwear, plus a couple of books. It was so nice to walk around in the sun and not feel as if you were broiling. We went into a couple of the kitchen stores, the Yankee Candle Outlet, the Reebok store, the vitamin store, Pottery Barn Furniture outlet, etc.
We were about to leave and discovered a store called "December 25," which was part gift shop and part seasonal shop. They had all sorts of cute things, and we were able to get a gift for Jen, and one for Juanita, and one for Mel and Phyllis, and also found a cute sheep, a cute spider, and a partridge in flight.
We drove home with the windows down, only stopping for a paper. James grilled the marinated chicken breast I bought yesterday and we had it with rice, and later we watched Dog Whisperer and Wallander.
» Saturday, October 02, 2010Bong-Bong Across the Pond
BBC America is going to show the new British Law and Order series, which features Freema Agyeman, formerly of Doctor Who. Bill Paterson is in it as well.
James is off to work today, and I have been mostly productive. Slept until 8:30, had breakfast, then vacuumed everything, including the stairs, swept the foyer, washed a load of towels, and got my clothes ready for Monday.
RTV started showing Lassie today, so stopped at eleven. They showed the very first episode, "Inheritance" and the episode "Domino, " about Jeff's colt.
Then went to the post awful. What a crowd! The line was out the inner door. From there went to Kroger to do the shopping and BJs to get gasoline.
Came home, had salad for lunch and am now watching more History Detectives via PBS's web page.
» Friday, October 01, 2010Quite Thoroughly Vetted
Willow went back to the vet this morning for more bloodwork, urinalysis, and X-rays. I dropped her off about 9:45 and they said it shouldn't be any later than 2 p.m. to pick her up.
So I went up to the Gwinnett Mall area. Didn't hit the mall, but went to JoAnn. The last time we were at this JoAnn, it looked almost moribund, but it was quite well stocked this time, almost half the store given over to fabric/sewing. I just bought some patches and some cardmaking bits, then went to the Barnes & Noble to look at the remainder books and have something for lunch. Their soup of the day was Italian wedding, so I had a cup, with some crackers and kettle chips.
I've never figured out the handbag envy some women have, especially the need for expensive "name" purses that cost hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. I mean, what makes Prada or Jimmy Choo better than something from Walmart? It still holds your stuff, right? Anyway, I apparently have a vestige of this urge left as, although we have several nice carry bags in the house, like the ARTC bag and the CDC bag, I purchased a cute book bag. One side has a cat in pajamas reading, but I fell for the opposite side, which has a guy with a butterfly net chasing flying books.
I thought about going to the Aviarium, or the used book store, but did neither, and just headed back.
Reached the vet about 1:30 and Wil wasn't done yet, so I sat and read until the vet called for me. We looked at X-rays. Dr. Karolyn thinks Willow's liver may be slightly enlarged, but is waiting for the bloodwork before really worrying about it. What was puzzling was an exact sphere in the area where her spleen is. Apparently spleen growths are common in dogs and are 50-50 benign/malignant. If there is something there, it will need to be surgically removed.
So next we wait on the test results.
When I got home I felt like I'd been deep fried. While it never got above 80, it was a cloudless day and the sun was strong. So I got home, took some ibuprofin, and lay down until James got home. We ordered pizza and then decided not to go out, since it was just too much darn work to get dressed again. :-)
Legendary TV producer Stephen J. Cannell Has Died
Wonder if they are going to film a little memorial bit for Castle? (If you haven't ever seen the series, Cannell and James Patterson have appeared in several episodes as author Richard Castle's poker playing buddies.)