Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas 2008

Well, Christmas has come and gone, and it was a wonderful Christmas.  We enjoyed Christmas Eve in Westport with Nana and Gramps.  We started off with a trip to church with Una in her Christmas outfit.  Here's a little slideshow of her getting ready and us heading out.  

The church was stifling hot, but we survived.  Back to Nana and Gramps for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner.  Nana did a wonderful job with dinner.  It was fantastic.   Una was excellent, but not to sure what to make of the Elmo doll Nana gave her.  She may get use to it.  We'll see.  Back to Pawtucket later that evening to ensure Santa's arrival was coordinated.  

This is a little teaser.  The Christmas Day post is to be continue.  To the left is Una first thing Christmas morning.
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Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas, Jenn and Ashley

Each year I get excited about setting up the tree.  Sally and I have some wonderful ornaments we've gathered over our few years together.  Hanging them brings out some great memories of the wonderful times we had gathering them, and the great places we've been fortunate to visit.  This year is even more special as Una is old enough to appreciate what is happening.  She's excited about Santa, and enjoyed seeing the different ornaments as we pulled them out of the storage boxes.  Since she's told not to touch the tree, she's so cute in leaning in to smell it.  

Decorating the tree also makes me nostalgic in another way, and thus, somewhat saddened.  While I think of my two older girls (Jenn and Ashley) often, the pulling out of an ornament and glancing to see "Baby's 1st Christmas - 1981" or "First Christmas - 1983" really sends me down memory lane.  Good memories, each and every one.  No matter how hard I try, there is no stopping the choked up feeling I get.  Those memories make you think more intensely of the ones you miss and love.  And, not having them with you to relive the experience all over  We live in such a disbursed world it's so hard to be with everyone every year.  Texas, Ohio, California, Colorado, Pennsylvania.  Luckily, we do have the memories.

I've created this little slideshow of some special ornaments on the tree this year.  We have plenty more, but they are the ones that remind me of Jenn and Ashley.  I've inluded ones we have for Una so that Jenn and Ashley could see those, too.  

It's just my way of dealing, I think.

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mmmmm...fresh snow

Mmmmm...fresh snow
Originally uploaded by The Three Bucketeers

I'm just testing the posting of a photo from Flickr to our blog.

This is a cute picture of Una when we had our first snow (12/7) of the year. She really enjoyed it. She's giggling here because she was eating the snow and Sally was telling her how she likes to eat snow, too.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Una's Womb Diary

While doing a little electronic housecleaning I stumbled upon this.  A bit corny, I know, but I'm glad I found it.  Despite letting the account expire, they had a recovery process to restore old posts.  I guess this was my way of blogging 2-1/2 years ago.  

Enjoy...John (aka Una's ghostwriter)

I Have A Heartbeat! - Thursday, March 02, 2006

I was naked as a jaybird and a wonderful ultrasound technician showed me off to Mom and Dad. They got to see my heart beat at about 170 beats per minute. Mom and Dad cried. I got my first line on the height chart. I'm 2.4cm tall. Oh, yeah, I'm 9w0d today.

2nd Doctor Visit - Thursday, March 16, 2006

Mom and Dad went to the doctor's again today. The doctor asked a few questions then poked and prodded a bit. Something about wanting to hear my heartbeat. The doc found it immediately with a thing called a doppler. The doctor was happy that my heart was beating strongly and at the right pace for my young age. Mom and Dad were quite relieved to hear it. I overheard them say they'd be back in two weeks to listen again. I'll be bigger and stronger then. Oh, yeah, it was my birthday today. I was 11w0d.

Mom was so happy to hear my heart beating that she and Dad treated themselves to a shopping spree. Mom bought lots of new clothes for when I make her present ones a bit to tight. :-)

Doctor Appointment - Thursday, March 30, 2006

We went to the doctor's office again today. Seemed like a different place, but I overheard Mom & Dad mentioning that our doctor has multiple offices. Someone poked me a bit and I squiggled away, but I could tell by Mom and Dad's reaction that they heard my heart beating again. 150-160 beats per minute the doc said to Dad. Right on course. I'm 13w0d today and the doc said I've moved into the second trimester -- whatever that is.

Today's my eldest half-sister birthday. Happy Birthday, Jenn. You, too, Ashley. Dad mentioned yours was on Monday. I can't wait to meet you both.

Vacation - Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Well, I went on my first vacation this weekend. Mom & Dad had a relaxing time on Nantucket. Something about a Daffodil Festival. A nice weekend, but boy that ferry ride back home was a rocky one. Good thing I'm floating around in this sac. I've been wiggling around a bit so Mom can feel me. She tells Dad they are "pinchies". I'm not strong enough yet to let Dad feel, but he did push a bit on Mom's bellie. I wiggled away and Mom felt me doing so and relayed it to Dad. They sure get excited to feel me move around.

Ultrasound Showed It's A Girl!!!!! - Friday, May 05, 2006

Well, well, secret's out. I'M A GIRL!!!

So, Mom & Dad took me to the doctor's again. This very nice woman rubbed this jelly all over Mom's belly (which I'm making stick out). She then took this device, pushed down on Mom's belly and took pictures and measurements of me. As she pushed, I moved. I'm not a big fan of having my peaceful womb disturbed. I waved to Mom and Dad, crossed my legs, even let them see I was a girl.

Mom and Dad got to take a few pictures with them. I think Dad posted them here. Pretty cool spine of mine (a poet in the making?), huh?

My heart's beating about 140 beats per minute. I have a couple of nice kidneys, all four chambers of my heart, good looking heart valves, too. I have lots of room to roll around in here. That will change I hear as I grow even bigger.

I've been letting Mom know I'm here a few times a day. Nothing too noticeable, but something just the same. I'll give her more notice as I get bigger.

Happy Cinco de Mayo.

Letting them know I'm here - Thursday, June 08, 2006

I entered my 23rd week today. Mom and Dad always get a kick out of the weekly milestones. I've been letting Mom know I'm doing fine with a kick here and there. She's even had Dad try to feel, but I'm just not strong enough yet to kick that hard. Patience, Dad. :-)

Dad felt me move - Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I had a quiet day today as Mom and Nana strolled the beach. Figured I'd keep quiet for the day. Of course, I let Mom know I was doing okay with a few stretches and kicks around dinner time. Dad tried to feel my kicks, but I like to tease him and went quiet. Mom went to bed and I decided it was time to let Dad in on Mom and my secret. I was kicking away and Mom grabbed Dad's hand and put it on her growing belly. One good kick and Dad was a bundle of smiles. Mom, too. I continued for just a bit and Dad felt another one. Mom and Dad seem happy. I guess they are just glad to know I'm doing okay. I like it in here, but it is definitely getting more crowded as I grow. I'm looking forward to October, as I know Mom and Dad are.

Dad stressing? - Monday, July 24, 2006

Dad took a peek today at the pregnancy calendar and realized there were only 73 more days until I'm due. I think he's starting to stress. He told Mom he has lots of work to do in my room. Wallpaper, paint, light fixture. I don't think I'll really be to worried about that stuff for awhile. I sure hope Mom picks a nice decor for me. I'm quite certain she will.

Chill Dad. :-)

49 Days!!!! - Thursday, August 17, 2006

I'm due to bust out of here in 49 days. I'm really looking forward to seeing the rest of the world. It's becoming a tight squeeze in here. I think Mom will be happy to hold me on the outside, too.

Mom and Dad are really starting to get excited. They seem worried, however, whether they'll have everything ready. Mom & Dad are picking up my stroller today. They ordered a really comfy glider. Mom tried out many. I think Mom and I will spend lots of time in that chair. Dad asked this morning if he too could enjoy some quality time with me in it.

Well, I'll check in again in a few weeks. I heard they were going to take more pictures of me at the week 36 ultrasound.

Gee, this is tough - Saturday, September 30, 2006

Only five more days until my scheduled arrival. I'm working hard and growing. I've been giving Mom a hard time as I'm trying get myself in position to join the world. It's a little cramped in here. Can't wait to breathe some fresh air (do that have that in RI?)

Dad's talked to me about how nice my nursery looks. He says Mom did a GREAT job in decorating. I'm looking forward to seeing/hearing all the wonderful things there.

Hopefully my next note will be to tell you I made my grand entrance.

I Was Born! - Monday, October 02, 2006

I busted out early. WooHoo!!! I ruptured Mom's membranes at 6:45pm on October 1st. Oh my gosh, my safe little womb started contracting like crazy. Mom called the nice doctor who said to get home, get your bag, and get to the hospital as he was there. Dad drove with both hands on the wheel (quite unusual for him I've heard). Arrived safely at the hospital at 8pm and I was born at 2:41am on October 2nd.

I don't know what this means, but they told me I scored a 9-9. Mom and Dad are sure happy!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Who Knew - I do windows

Well, I am in IT, but not that kind of windows.  I'm talking about real windows.  You know, the kind you should be able to see out clearly.  Key word there, clearly.  

Let me explain.  Sally and I bought our house a little over five years ago.  There were three things Sally really didn't like about the house:  
  1. The wall-to-wall carpet
  2. The draperies in the living room
  3. The draperies in the bedroom
Well, we took care of #1 immediately after the closing.  Started in the living room, then the dining room, took a look upstairs and with Sally's best "can we?" look we pulled them up from upstairs and the stairwell.  I guess that's what happens when you have beautiful hardwood floors under the old dingy carpet.  Anyway, check-off #1

Sally has looked for the last five years for just the right drapes for the living room.  We've gone through two, maybe three sets in the dining room, but she never found anything just right in the living room.  Cleaning the drapes, as well as the shears, didn't help.  Well, Thursday Sally found just the right drapes.  Yesterday, she, Una  and Nana set out for shears and rods.  In the infamous words of GW "Mission Accomplished".  

So, this morning was 'let's install the drapes' morning.  Down come the old drapes, shears, and hardware (in these tough economic times we were thrilled to find out that our old hardware would work just fine ($140 savings)).  Now with the drapes and shears down what should appear?  Those crystal clear windows, right?  Well, drop the two adjectives and you'd be correct.  

So, while Sally pressed all the drape panels, as well as the shears, and then hemmed the shears with her bright and shiny new sewing machine, I tackled the windows, inside and out.  I picked one of the coldest days of the year to open windows for cleaning, but eh, what the heck, I got it done.  

We've now got new drapes and shears in the living room, and crystal clear windows, too.  Check-off #2 on the list.

Gotta run.  Off to see Arlo Guthrie at the Ziterion Theatre in New Bedford.

P.S.  Do you do windows?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Meet the Grandparents

I'm a little late with this blog, but vacations have a way of putting you behind in lots of things.

We had a very nice visit with my Mom and Dad in the Philadelphia area recently. They were there as part of a "Historic America" tour. Sally, Una and I drove down from RI on October 27th.

We got to join my folks for a late dinner at Maggiano's, followed by a rainy windy visit of historic Philadelphia, and then a tour of Valley Forge. We wrapped up our short visit with a relaxing stay at home evening. It was a fun, but too short, visit.

We have some great memories to share with Una.

Since Sally's grandmother lives in the area we stopped in for homemade brunch with Grammie and Uncle Ted. Fun time, which included a trip to the Farmer's Market for some great Lancaster Valley treats (Sweet Lebanon Bologna...mmmmmmm. Oh, and a terrific peach pie)

As I said, a fun time, but too short.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween 2008

I just have to share some photos from Una's Halloween 2008. This is the first year she really appreciated Halloween and she had a blast. She did things with Mom (made costume, carved pumpkin) during the day, visited friends for a little pre-Halloween party, then it was Trick or Treating in Westport with Nana. Here are just a few pics. We'll put more up on Picasa later. Enjoy...

Mommy and I carved a pumpkin. Isn't my Halloween dress cute, too?

Here I am with my friends. Dadda says we're all very cute.

Nana, me and Mommy (Lucy)Trick or Treat in Westport Point, MA
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Monday, October 20, 2008

Barre Run 2008

We made our annual run to Barre, MA on Sunday. This is something Sally's family has been doing for many many years. I've joined in for the last four (Una three).

Barre, MA is where Sally's great grandparents settled after her great grandfather completed medical school. He and his wife lived the rest of their lives in Barre. He, Merle, was the local doctor, his wife Blanche was an artist.

Annually in October we make the hour or so trek northwest to this quaint New England town. We drive by the old homes that Nana recalls fondly (one is where her father was born). We stop in the town center, walk past the WWII memorial pointing out Buppa's name, snap pictures, and this year let Una run around playing with leaves. It really is a beautiful town square. We grab a copy of The Barre Gazette and the next stop is the cemetery where both of Sally's great grandparents are buried. We carry on the tradition of leaving shells from Westport at the grave site, as Sally's great grandparents were summer residents of Westport and enjoyed the beach there.

The final stop is the Barre Mill Restaurant for lunch/dinner (I guess that would be supper to some). Three years ago when we did this run, it was Una's restaurant debut. Sally was recalling how fearful she was that little two-week old Una would disturb the locals. She did fine, as she did last year. Now this year...well, if the service hadn't been slower than molasses perhaps Una would not have lost patience with sitting quietly at the table. Oh, well. I guess some waitresses just aren't accustomed to serving families with children. Seeing that 80% of the people entering for the Sunday noon to 4pm specials walked with canes, maybe that's understandable.

After Barre, it time to drive back home, but with one stop. It's late October and we need pumpkins. Annually we stop at Howe's Farm in Paxton, MA. This year, after rousing Una for a nap in the car seat (she tends to like sleeping in the car) we picked out 72 pounds of pumpkins for Nana and Gramps, as well as for us.

They have some of the largest pumpkins in the area, and even have one that Una posed on. Isn't she the cutest!!!

Another wonderful run to Barre. We're already looking forward to next year's adventure.

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Five Wonderful Years

We reached another milestone yesterday. Five terrific years. The best ever.

Thank you Sally for being my best friend and my wife. You make my life complete.

Here's a little clip of how it all started:

Smith Castle

On Saturday after a couple of trips to the dump to continue our cleaning of the garage, we wanted to enjoy a nice Fall afternoon outside. Sally had seen listed in a "What's Going On" section of the paper or online, the fact that there was to be a Colonial Harvest Festival at The Smith Castle in Wickford. Sounded like a great idea, but what the heck is Smith Castle in Wickford. I know Wickford as a quaint little village in North Kingstown. I don't recall a "castle" there. Hmmm, let's take a look.

We packed up and headed out. Of course, it being about 12:30pm Una decided that the car seat was a wonderful place to take a nap. Rather than proceed right to Smith Castle we decided to cruise around Quonset Point. Wow! What a wonderful job they (Quonset Development Corporation) are doing in developing the old Naval Air Station into a fine industrial park. I've only been to Quonset once and that was to pickup an Admiral arriving at the terminal. We drove around and saw the marina, the beach, golf course, O'Club, and various companies doing business there. Quonset must be the off-load spot for thousands of Audi and VWs. There were acres and acres of new wrapped autos, and plenty of car carriers waiting to be loaded for delivery of the autos.

I was impressed. If you haven't driven around Quonset it's worth a couple of hours on a nice afternoon. Enough about Quonset. This is about Smith Castle.

We arrived at the signage along Rt 1 and immediately said, "UtOh" as there seemed to quite a few cars. Well, it was just that they had only a small parking lot along Route 1. The crowd when were were there was not overwhelming which made it kind of nice. What we did see was many docents dressed in period clothing ready to discuss what harvest life in the 1700s was like. We viewed spinners, outdoor cooking, candle making, large manual looms, a blacksmith. Oh, and the guy to the left with all his muskets. The Smith House was fun to stroll through. I know Sally and I will certainly go back for a more detailed tour.

We followed-up our visit to Smith Castle with a further drive South along Rt 1 to Wakefield. Sally was in need of a Mew's fix and I'm never one to shy away from one of their 69 microbrews on tap.

In case you haven't guessed it, it was a great day. Oh, more pictures of our time at Smith Castle can be seen on the slideshow on the upper right of our blog site (or linked here.)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Oktoberfest at Redlefsen's

On Thursday Sally and I joined her parents to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. It's actually today, but Redlefsen's (located in Bristol, RI) has this great Oktoberfest dinner only on Wednesday and Thursdays in September and October.

It really was a traditional Oktoberfest with all the German food, German beers, OOM-PAH PAH Band, and Bavarian Dancers. It was a wonderful evening. Sally and I reminisced about our 2004 trip to The Christmas Markets of Europe which allowed us to visit much of Bavaria and experience this type of evening first hand.

The evening was really special. I've added to my stein collection with a nice Warsteiner "Das Boot" complete with neck lanyard.

Thanks Nana and Gramps, we had a great time.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Immigrants - An Appreciation

If you've followed this blog recently you probably already know that Sally and I have been on an ancestry kick. We've started a family site and have now documented over 700 members in our family tree.

As I've navigated through my branch of the tree I've found some wonderful documents which show when, where and how my maternal grandparents arrived in this country. As a child I knew my grandparents as elderly people who spoke no or only broken English. I was just a kid and they were old and talked differently. My memories include my grandmother always in the kitchen, always with an apron on, and the only word I remember her saying to me was, "mangia". My grandfather being tall, often sitting in his rocking chair, and his cardigan sweater on. The documentation I have found gives me more of a sense of who they are, but not a picture of how their early lives in this country might have been.

Surprisingly, not through my research through, but rather through my garage cleanup work, I think I have a better view of their lives.

On Saturday as I was cleaning the garage I came upon an old, but large portable A/C. I put it at the street with a sign reading, "FREE (works)". It sat there for two days without a nibble. Monday I loaded it into the back of the wagon and off to the Salvation Army I went. "Sorry, we can't take that," was the greeting from the SA attendant. Back home with the A/C to sit on the front lawn again. While Sally and I worked outside an elderly man and woman stopped to look at the A/C. Sally hollered that it was theirs if they wanted it. Some discussion ensued (not in English) and then they started to carry it off. Now this A/C must weigh at least 75 pounds, is bulky and it's tough for two to carry. They got about five feet and I could see on the woman's face this was not going to work. I hurried down the driveway offering to help. She thanked me in a non-verbal way. "So, where are we going? Where's the car?" No car, apartment is a block away. Down the hill we go. The elderly gentleman and I take about ten steps and he starts to wheeze. "I have emphysema." Visions race through my head - none good. We eventually make it to the apartment and they motioned to just leave the A/C outside the stairs to the apartment. Figuring they had help there I did just that and headed home. 20 minutes later I'm feeling a bit concerned so I take a peek from the end of the driveway. There they are attempting to pickup the A/C unit. I whistled my loudest whistle and got their attention. "Put it down I gestured" and jogged on down to help. They had the window open and ready for the A/C. There was no way two people were going to make it into the apartment carrying the A/C so I volunteered.

I entered what I thought was going to be the living room. It was not. It was THE room; maybe 10x12 (there was a single door to a utility looking room which had to serve as closet and bathroom (I hope). ) Regardless, I got the unit in the window ready for their use.

The apartment was filled with religious ornaments. It reminded me of a room in my grandparents home. Madonna statues abound. As I left and walked back to our modest home I could not help but think that probably was how my grandparents lived when they first arrived in this country. Take whatever space they could afford. They managed.

My grandparents came to this country trying to build a better life for their future family. The couple I helped probably were doing the same only a century later. Good luck with that. I'll be peeking down the street to help when I can. It just seems right.

Friday, October 17, 2008

When Work is Not Work

This blog is not about "work" as in my employment (I had previously written "job", but I am going to talk about my other job, as in the one I have at home.) Do not get me wrong, I've been at my employment for over ten years now, and I enjoy the job I have. Each day is its own challenge and I look forward to going to work (although I will admit I look forward to vacations more). But, it is "work".

This past weekend we had an opportunity to do "work" which I've put off too long. We had our roof replaced last week and we had a nice big dumpster sitting in our driveway. It was 3/4 full, but that meant we had a place to dump some stuff from the garage. You know a garage, a place for that 30 years or so of accumulated junk; a place for high school schoolbooks, hundreds of fantasy sci-fi paperbacks, college schoolbooks (in languages I could not begin to read -- Greek); and, treasured memories. Oh, and maybe a car? You think?

Anyway, I jumped into pitching anything not salvageable. What qualifies as not salvageable you might ask? Unfortunately, some things were not in such great condition thanks to leaving bird seed out in the open in the garage one Winter. Mice just love bird seed it seems, and mice need a home, and mice need materials to make a home from. You know things like paper from books (particularly paperbacks). Things like old running shirts you were saving from back in the day when you use to be thin and run? (Yeah, I did that). Things like college dorm clothes someone boxed up and had "Dad" look after.

When I was done the dumpster was full, and believe it or not, I could actually fit a car in the garage. Go figure!!!

I still have a ways to go...Jenn, you had alot of stuff. I have found some wonderful treasures which I hope to share in some future blog. For now I'm just enjoying the memories the treasures I discovered bring me.

Oh, and in case you're wondering what Sally was doing while I went through my junk in the garage, well she found her own "work", that being to tackle scraping and painting the front door and trim. We've been saying we're going to do that for ages, and Sally just went and did it. The front door now looks good enough to adorn one of those posters "Doors of [fill-in the blank]" I haven't seen a Doors of DaBucket yet...hmmm, now there's another project for another day.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Oktoberfest 2008

Sally and I had a wonderful time last Saturday at the 3rd Annual New Bedford Oktoberfest. We were joined by our friends Michele and Tom.

While Sally and I had enjoyed the Ft. Taber park previously (it's a wonderful place for family picnics or walks), we were delighted the Fort's main doors were open to let patrons inside. The Fort reminded me very much of a miniature Fort Jefferson near Key West. Tom and Michele thought the same thing.

The beer from Mayflower, Wachusetts, Nantucket's Cisco, Newport Storm, and Buzzards Bay were all fantastic. The Pilgrim IPA from Mayflower was my personal favorite for the day.

We were there for a couple of hours and saw and heard a couple of bands, and also the terrific "Oompah" band.

It was a good time at a great venue and I know Sally and I will be there for the 4th next year. Congrats to the Southcoast Business Alliance for putting on a great event and raising money for a couple of worthwhile causes.

After the "fest" we enjoyed a nice meal at Cork in downtown New Bedford. Sally and I enjoy an occasional visit to Cork. Bonus points scored by having friends Michele and Tom join us.

It really is nice to see how New Bedford is alive with events such as this.
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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Happy Second Birthday, Una

Una, you're turning two today. Happy Birthday, Sweetheart.

Love, Mommy and Dadda

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Four Generations

We had the good fortune to recently enjoy a long weekend at "Grammie's" just outside of Philadelphia. The visit was timed so that we could visit with Jeff, Jen and Emmett (coming from CO), as Jen had a conference to attend in Philly. Nana and Gramps make the trip south as well. In the picture from left to right is Grammie, Gramps, Jen, Jeff (holding Emmett), Sally (holding Una), John, and Nana.

It's difficult for four generations to get together when family can be so spread out. This is actually the first time all nine of us were together. The last time we all got together there were only eight (Emmett wasn't born yet), and that was nearly two years ago for Una's Christening.

"Grammie" is the last remaining "great" for Una. As we enjoyed face-to-face family interactions, browsing through old pictures, hearing stories of past family members, and even looking at Una's maternal family tree (back to the 1600's), it struck me that I am very delinquent in leaving a legacy for my descendants. I have therefore started work on a family website, including a family tree. I'll be taking baby steps in this endeavor as I'm aware of some very legitimate privacy concerns.

Grammie was nice enough to let me borrow a number of photo albums which I've begun scanning the photos from. There are quite a few and someday I hope to be able to caption and categorize them. I'll be doing the same with photos my parents have sent me, as well as old photos I have, and Nana and Gramps have, as well. When I open up the family website to others, I hope other family members will add treasured photos to share.

Along with the scanning project Sally and I have begun the process of documenting the family tree. We've just scratched the surface and already are having alot of fun in our detective work to find our ancestry. In just two days we've documented 223 family members. It can be quite addicting. I hope you don't see us on Intervention soon! I'm sure we'll be reaching out to many family members for help in this project. What's in our tree is often linked to yours.

We had a terrific visit with family and as an added bonus I left with a reinvogorated goal to document family history both in a timeline and in photos. I hope you'll follow along in our efforts.

Talk soon...John

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A short clip of our Una

Just thought I'd share a little bit of Una enjoying her nursery rhymes. Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed taping it.

P.S. I'm also learning about how to post video.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Food for thought

Feeling a bit defeatist and worrying over the health status of our friend Dan, I came across a timely entry on another blog that John turned me on to several weeks back.

(See the blog here at

The author wrote about a question that her mom had posed to her, essentially asking what would be on a list of things to do if you suddenly learned that you only had weeks to live. Kate's response was poignant, focusing on expressions of affection and concern for her children and spouse. I agreed with the importance of her ideas, and in my response added an item that would be featured prominently on my own "list"... writing out a collection of family recipes for Una.

Food plays a central role in our lives, and an especially emotional one for me. I sometimes joke that for us, "food equals love", but it truly does. I show my love and respect for my husband and daughter by doing my best to create meals for us to enjoy together. Mom and Dad host us for dinner every Sunday, so no matter how hectic our lives get, we have a day to gather and enjoy one another. When someone is born, we cook. When someone dies, we cook. It's what we know how to do.

I will never be a "skinny minnie" - there is just too much to lose (figuratively and realistically) in denying myself the pleasure of cooking and sharing with abandon. If I love you, I'll cook for you. Doesn't everyone feel that way? How can you take care of someone if you don't feed them? I don't know, and hope I never know, what a house with a sparkling-clean and oft-empty kitchen feels like. It must be cold.

John and I planned a small "feed the patient" get-together for Dan and his family last weekend before he was scheduled to have serious surgery this week. Mom and I made some wonderful things, and I feel comforted knowing I did what I could to help warm the soul (and the belly) of a dear friend who is facing his own crisis, even if he was the only person who was able to share the meal with us. I remember my grandfather saying that a bit of extra weight was simply good insurance to carry around - everyone needs "reserves" in case they get sick. I'm sorry, Dan, that I didn't get more of a chance to help you put some meat on your bones - but I'm not going to waste another day feeling badly because I have more than enough in "reserve" - of food, laughter, caring and affection (and rear end!!) - to go around.

Monday, August 25, 2008


A morning at Baker's Beach: Zero dollars

Lunch from Lees: Twenty dollars

A sail through Westport Harbor aboard Ruddy Rye: Priceless

What a fantastic Saturday I had. While it started off with a huge headache thanks to a bit of over indulgence from Friday night, we managed to hit the beach by 10am. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. Even the life guard mentioned it was a 10. Una had her usual fun at the beach, although was not interested in getting into the water above ankle depth. She was content climbing on Nana and digging in the sand.

After the beach it was time for lunch and a grocery run was in order. More about the grocery run and reason later.

I'm sure you're not interested in my every hour recap of my weekend life, but I wanted to set the stage for the last half of the day. Plus, you can't play on the MasterCard theme without providing at least some details of the events.

Anyway, Gramps two years ago purchased a small sailboat at the Mass. Maritime Academy's yearly auction. He was able to launch the boat last year, but because of a failed engine, never really got to sail the boat. This past Fall and Winter, along with this Spring, Gramps has been diligently scraping, painting, re-fiberglassing, and whatever else it took to get the boat shipshape. He also enrolled and completed a sailing class in New Bedford. Gramps has a passion to learn. He never takes a new endeavor lightly. He is now probably more skilled as a sailor than those with many years of experience. He even baffled his sailing instructor (probably someone half his age) with his questions and knowledge of sailing terminology.

We launched Ruddy Rye about three weeks ago. It was quite an experience as the boat had no motor yet, and the day we launched there was a strong current. (BTW: the pictures shown here are actually from last year's launch.) Regardless, we got the boat docked. Now it was time for Gramps to find the motor that would be necessary if he was ever going to get anyone to sail with him. Two weeks ago he found the motor he wanted and he got it mounted. With the addition of the Town of Westport boat sticker, he now had a legal and legit sailboat ready to ply the harbor. Nana was convinced shortly after the installation of the motor to accompany Gramps on a "motor" run through the harbor. There would be no "sailing" just yet. So, you can imagine that Gramps was chomping at the bit to get on the water under sail. Saturday afternoon was that time and I was the lucky crew.

While I love writing this blog, and I know some enjoy how I write, I know I will not be able to adequately explain just how much Gramps and I enjoyed the inaugural sail aboard Ruddy Rye. I'll do my best just the same.

We motored away from the dock and down river just a bit to an area just off crack rock. During the ride Gramps pointed out the main, the jib, the halyard, the centerboard, etc. Despite my 21+ years in the U.S. Navy, I never took to sailing. I've probably only been on a sailboat three times in my life. The first experience left me blue - I think literally. The second I was more awestruck by the competency of the helmsman as he maneuvered a Shields through the mooring field in Newport Harbor. The third, was a pleasant ride around Newport/Jamestown harbor with our good friends Robin and Marvin, but due to mechanical problems it was mostly motor assisted (a good time none-the-less). Since that last sail Sally and I have purchased our own motor boat and I've become accustomed to the whine of the engine (when it's running, but that's another story which would make this blog way too long). Anyway, Gramps and I reached "Crack Rock". I handed over the main sail halyard and prepared to "hoist the main". He cut the engine, dropped the rudder, and we hoisted the main. Suddenly we were on the move without a sound. We dropped the centerboard and Gramps with tiller in hand, guided us towards the West Branch of the Westport River. As we cruised through the harbor Gramps explained theories of sailing, how to gauge wind direction, etc. We also both just took in the serenity of sailing. Ruddy Rye is only 17 feet in length so it's not a big sailboat. When seated in the boat your almost at water's level. The sounds were simple; the lapping of the waves against the hull, the flutter of the sail as the wind turns from point to point, the chirping of the sea birds who's flight path we were crossing. As Gramps said, "Aren't the sounds great? No engine noises. Is there anything better?" Probably not. It was a truly relaxing way to be on the water. While I was just crew and along for the ride, I could tell Gramps was enjoying his experience as well. He had the added bonus of feeling the boat with tiller in hand. I know it was relaxing for him as well.

We approached the harbor side shoreline and it was time for a tack. Tack we did and Gramps said let's put up the jib. I grabbed the jib halyard and hoisted away. The jib filled with air, and it was like the boat hit 5th gear. As Emeril would say, "We kicked it up a notch". It was really while under said with both the main and the jib that you could feel the power a light wind can create. It was thrilling. Gramps guided us through some beautiful ocean going sailboats. I'm sure they have their pluses in being able to travel to distant places, but I'm hard pressed to think the experience would be any better than the one I was fortunate to experience on Saturday afternoon.

Thanks Gramps. And, Nana the next time Gramps invites you for a sail you should take him up on the offer. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.


I mentioned earlier more about the grocery run. We needed to get all the fixin's for a good New England Clam Chowder. An old boyfriend of Sally's, and now a friend of mine, too, is scheduled for some surgery on Tuesday. I won't go into details, but surgery is a scary proposition. Sally wanted to show her support by having Dan and his wife to dinner on Sunday. She also thought it would be nice to invite some mutual friends to share their support, as well. It was all very last minute. It turned out to just be Sally's folks and Dan. Others wanted to join us, but schedules just did not permit it. Our thoughts and prayers are with you Dan.

My thoughts and prayers are kind of stretched thin right now. The wife of a co-worker of mine is facing some serious medical issues. Steve and Cathy, my thoughts and prayers were out there for you, too.

Any readers of this blog so inclined, please keep Dan, Ginger, Cathy and Steve in your thoughts. I know they'll appreciate it and I will, too.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Summer, Where Did You Go?

I was able to get out at lunch yesterday and enjoy a cool Summer day. It felt more like Fall. They even mentioned on the weather yesterday morning about it feeling like Fall. Where the heck did the Summer go? I know, I know, we've not even reached the "unofficial" end of Summer with the Labor Day weekend. But, when I pass daily the sign at the high school that classes begin in less than a week, I can't help but feel Summer is coming to a close.

We've had the good fortune to actually have a really nice Summer. Lots of time at the beach in Westport, work and play in our backyard, Sundays at Nana and Gramps for dinners on the back deck, and drinks on the deck at The Back Eddy. Oh, and who can forget our great vacation to Westport.

While the Summer has indeed been great, I've missed a few things. Not one round of golf, not one cast from the rod, and only a couple of trips on the boat. I'm not complaining (well, I'm complaining about how the boat has run yet again this year) as time with family and friends have been great. I've enjoyed tremendously watching Una at a point where she can really enjoy outdoor activities. If you read this blog regularly you already know he just loves the beach. And, she loves anything to do with a playground. Saturday night Sally didn't sleep well so when Una awoke at 6:22am (yes unfortunately I noted the time when I crawled out of bed) I got up with her so Sally could sleep. After a couple episodes of "Blues Clues" I thought Una would enjoy a walk. We made it down to the park at the end of Blackstone. We drive by this park often and a few months ago when Una first discovered swings, that was all she'd say as we passed in the car. I thought she'd enjoy some time on the swings, but found that she also enjoyed climbing to the top of the "big kids" slide. No little four step slide for Una. Noooo...she needed to climb the one that was probably ten steps and a foot over my 6'5" high head. She climbed with ease, stood at the top (the most nerve-racking) and then proceeded to sit and slide down. She slid slowly thanks to the rubber soled shoes she had on. At the bottom, turn and run for the stairs. It was a fun time. Did I mention that I found not one empty plastic juice bottle, empty frozen ice container, or any used diapers? (If you don't get that you missed my Aretha blog). Bravo to those that use this playground. Now, how about the Providence Parks Department doing something about grading so that the walkways don't become impassable for strollers due to mud with the slightest hint of rain? Oh, and can you turn on that lovely Art Deco fountain? Wouldn't that be an enjoyable site for local residents? (Wait: in searching for a link for the fountain I found this blog. Seems I'm not alone in my desire to see this fountain operating again.)

With Summer coming to a close Sally and I have our eyes set on a trip to Philly in September to visit Grammie. Jeff, Jen and Emmett will be visiting, too. We can't wait to see them. Una's all excited to see her cousin. Then October has another trip to Philly when my folks are there for a trip they are taking. Sally and I are also looking forward as Summer winds down to getting some things done to the house that we've not found the time to do with busy Summer schedules.

So, Summer you might be leaving us, but thanks to great family and friends, life is good no matter the season.

Talk at you all soon...John

Monday, August 11, 2008

Stealing your line Aretha

Una and I had the good fortune to have some quality time Sunday morning and we decided to hit the playground(s). Sally had an appointment in the South Side of Providence. Since we were unsure of the length of her appointment, we decided to stay close by so we could swing back and pick her up when done. Thus, Una and I set out on a ride. Two blocks away we both spotted it at the same time...From the back seat came, "paygown". That would be playground to those uninitiated in Una-speak. We passed it, but I made a mental note of where it was as I was sure we'd end up there. Two blocks later we passed another playground, this one even larger than the first.

After cruising by one of my favorite South Providence sites (City Farm) we pulled up to the first playground we had passed and I was a little discouraged that the area for small toddlers was sand filled and not the new rubberized material. We had planned to go to breakfast after Sally's appointment and I didn't want Una to get too dirty. We walked into the playground nonetheless. We were greeted by a host of empty plastic juice bottles, empty plastic sleeves which formerly held frozen flavored ice, a couple of empty glass bottles...oh, and the lovely USED Pamper next to the teeter-totter. I carried Una to the swing and she swung for awhile. As I pushed Una thoughts of a blog raced through my head. I was pleased to see such a nice playground in the inner city, but disgusted by the state of it. I was torn as to how to properly voice my outrage about its state without offending someone. I put the thoughts aside and concentrated on enjoying the time with Una. We finished the swings, headed for the slide (six feet from the teeter-totter and the lovely used Pamper.) Una took one slide and I decided it was time to go. We could hit the other playground two blocks away. Una was NOT happy about leaving. Unlike me who focused on the filth, she focused on the fun items in front of her.

We arrived at the second playground which was more impressive than the first. Sponsorship signage abounded. Terrific. Donors thought enough to establish a modern playground in the inner city of Providence. It was one of those nice commercial grade Little Tike playgrounds, with the slides, rock walls, swinging bridges, rubber covered stairs just right for little toddlers, and the cushioned recycled rubber base should such a little toddler take a header. It was lovely...

Except for the graffiti written all over the plastic fire engine Una wanted to play on. I'm sure [fill-in the blank] is indeed hot and can provide a good time, but neither Una nor I really cared. I'm sure the next seven year old who can read will have wonderful questions for their accompanying parent. I was disgusted. In case you're not aware I HATE GRAFFITI. It seems to be everywhere in Providence. Even our new "I-Way" (relocation of a major highway interchange) is plastered with it before it's even finished. What a nice greeting to those visiting Rhode Island for the first time. I digress. I immediately thought of my youth and about how I treated things that were not mine. My parents instilled in me at a young age that you respected other people's property. Perhaps I was naive, but all I knew of graffiti when I was young was from pictures of NYC subway cars. I can't recall or imagine writing such vulgarity on a wall or a plastic fire engine designed for those not yet 3 feet tall. I thought about my youth and what might be synonymous with today's graffiti. It's a stretch, but all I could come up with was trying to carve JS + [some girl's initials] in a heart on a tree while camping when I was 12. I say"trying" because my little pocket knife was never sharp enough to make a dent in some majestic Ponderosa Pine. It's the thought that counts, though.

So, Una climbed, slid down the slide, crossed the swinging bridge (she's got my genes in that regard as the swinging bridge was one of my favorite things to run on at Disneyland). She had a grand time while I noticed more empty plastic juice bottles, empty plastic flavored frozen ice thing-a-ma-jigs, and the rest of the graffiti. No used Pampers here. In their place, however, was the nice 30-something gentleman in his bathrobe and slippers. I fully expected him to flash us, but he didn't. Instead he deposited his ass on the bench right next to the commercial grade Little Tikes structure Una was enjoying and lit up his wacky tobacky.

Come on Una...time to go.
"All I'm askin' is for a little Respect" and we're not finding it here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Time. Where does it go?

It's been awhile since I've been able to find the time to post. Work has been quite hectic and my normal lunch hour time to write has been lost. I uploaded a few pictures last evening in the hopes that I could at least get something out there today.

Sally and I recently took the RIPTA ferry from Providence to Newport. This was an excellent and fun outing that our Office Manager (Robin) at work set up as the firm's Summer Outing. The plan was to take the ferry to Newport, enjoy the day in Newport with the Black Ships Festival ongoing, then ferry back to Providence. The event was planned for a Saturday in July which just happened to be in the midst of a five day heatwave. Knowing Una would not enjoy 8 hours in the stroller in Newport in 90+ weather, we decided that Nana and Gramps would get to enjoy Una for the day and Sally and I would enjoy some alone time.

We left Providence about 8:30am on a HOT day. Knowing we were going back to Westport to get Una that evening, we left a car overnight in Newport. Once we arrived in Newport we enjoyed hitting a few shops (contributing to the local economy, of course) and seeing many of the historic homes in the downtown hill area. (You'd think having lived in Newport for many years I'd know what that district is called, but I don't.) Anyway, we wandered around a bit, hit the outdoor Black Ships Festival, enjoyed a Dell's and then decided to take comfort in the air conditioned car we had left in Newport. While driving around Newport to Ocean Drive we noticed a sign for an auction going on at Fort Adams. We love a good auction so we decided to take a look. Five hours later we left with a backseat full of nautical prints and paintings. Having been in the Navy for 21+ years, I enjoyed seeing all the old nautical memorabilia. The auction was a benefit for the Newport Museum of Yachting and much of the 500+ items were donated by local Newporters or the NY Yacht Club (Headquartered in Newport). They picked an odd day for the auction since it seems that most of the Yachting Museum members who live in Newport were out for some kind of sailing regatta (we saw about five America's Cup boats leaving Newport Harbor as we arrived in Newport on the ferry.) Their loss was our gain. There probably were only 30 people at the auction, thus the bidding was not all that intense. All it all it was a great time. I now have a great print of the USS Constitution for my office wall.

Sally and Una have been able to spend lots of time at the beach with Nana this Summer. I usually get to join them on the weekends. Here's a recent pic of Una enjoying destroying a sandcastle. (Yes, the red tide was bad that day, but it's the first time this year. 100 yards to the left and the water was fine.) Una just loves the beach (she is her mother's daughter, after all.)

Here's a cute picture of Una washing her face after making a mess. Thanks Nana for showing her how to pick and eat wine berries. :-)

And, lastly, here's a picture from last evening while I was doing some gardening. Sally snapped this photo as Una smiled for the neighbor Mrs. G.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Paradise Found

I have been blessed in that I have been able to experience many beautiful and wonderful places in my life. There are far too many to name here. I mention this because I just returned from spending ten glorious days in a rental home in Westport Point, MA. The terrific time I had there reminded me of so many wonderful memories of other places I've been fortunate enough to visit. From my experiences as a child with my parents and sister to Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Disneyland, etc., to my living overseas (Philippines) while in the Navy, to my cross country drives (southern and northern routes), to my more recent trips to Europe and Russia (Sally and I were fortunate to take my parents place when they could not travel for a time). So many memories of wonderful vacations are flowing through my head right now. And, it's all because of my most recent vacation experience.

Saturday night we were closing in on the end of our vacation. Sally and I enjoyed a quiet glass of wine while overlooking the moonlit Westport harbor. I took out a piece of paper to write down all the memories from the previous 9 days. I had planned to blog as I go, but the time was better spent just enjoying the experience. Not blogging as I went reminds me of early video camera operation. You had your eye to the eyepiece pointed in one direction. You never got to experience what you were filming. While the blog now will probably be less detailed, I got to experience more by not opening up the notebook computer.

Here's the list as it's scribbled. It's in no specific order at this point. It was just thoughts that raced through my head as I started the list.

Paul Cuffee, T-House, fishing boats, beach, corny, fireworks, Georgia, no TV, Summer breeze, wine/beer cash register, ambulance, books, antique tractor, lobbies, dangerous surf (lock the door), Golden Finch, moon, Handy Hill, bookfaire, rummage sale, outdoor shower, sharing with friends, kite, bubbles, Cinderella / What a Mess, Grover/Eva/William, Jenn With Two Ns, Ashley camping, Marian gifts, crying -- Kisses/Hugs, hand written notes, Blackie, Woodkins.

So, where to start? Let's start with arrival day. Our vacation started on July 3rd. After packing lightly (we were only 35 miles from home so we knew we could run home if we forgot we had to feed the cat) we headed for the rental. We had toured it a few weeks ago, but personally, I only vaguely recalled the complete house. It's really a three season home. There is no heat other than what a nice fire would provide in the fireplace. (We had no need for a fire, btw.) It had four bedrooms, simple beach house style kitchen, a nice outdoor shower (used that daily). a terrific screened-in porch, and a wonderful view of sail boats moored in Westport Harbor.

We had invited a number of friends to visit on the 3rd, hoping some might enjoy staying over for the parade the following morning. Only Tom and Michele were able to join us, but just for the evening. We had a terrific evening with Sally's parents joining us for dinner (we initiated the new charcoal Weber Sally's dad had purchased earlier in the day). We had to relearn everything about grilling!!!. Grilled salmon, burgers (some veggie), dogs, and of course, littlenecks. Grilled littlenecks have to be one of my favorite grilled foods. And so damn simple, too. Throw them on the grill, close the lid, check them once in awhile. When they open they are done. Mmmmm. I don't know the whole story behind the salmon, but something about salmon and peas being a 4th of July tradition. Not being a pea guy, I've not paid too much attention to that. Maybe Sally can chime in on that. (Honey, that means you can post a comment or blog her, too) :-)

Now, don't worry, I'm not going to review the menu of every meal we had while on vacation. It was the first, and thus a memory. Anyway, on to the 4th!!!

It's Time for a Parade!!

It wasn't Bristol, RI and their 223rd continuous 4th of July Parade, but it was darn good just the same. Besides, I heard the Bristol parade was 4-1/2 hours long. As my mother-in-law would say, "I'd rather stick needles in my eyes." The Westport parade was as Goldilocks would say, "Just right". Goldilocks? Enter the Woodkins mentioned above. You see, Una discovered at the rental house this really nice wooden toy called Woodkins. The family we rented from has small children (not as young as Una) and Una was fascinated with the big kids toys and some of their books. The Woodkins were a favorite. One of the characters was Goldilocks. I digress. The parade was excellent although Una did not appreciate like the firetruck sirens. Una loves firetrucks, but I don't think she'll want to hear another one for a long time. The parade was a perfect mix of floats, antique cars and tractors, fire apparatus, and military details, with hardly a spattering of politicians (that's always okay by me!)

Here a a couple of other pictures from the parade:
Dad trying to be patriotic with the blueish shirt and the redish hat. Una doing a GREAT job with the red, white and blue dress and the flag.

Nana all smiles (she always has that on when Una's around) and an inquisitive Una.

We could not have asked for better weather. During the parade it threatened rain, but held off. We even got to the beach the afternoon of the 4th. The only rain we had were a couple of nights. It was welcomed as it helped to clear out some of the humidity.

Did I mention the beach? We hit the beach evey day, but one, and that was by choice. Una loves the beach. Sally loves the beach. Nana LOVES the beach. I thoroughly enjoy the beach. I'm not one for laying around soaking up the sun, but I enjoy a good walk on the beach. I also enjoy frolicing in the water with Una. I've had success in Una coming to not fear the water. This can be a double edged sword. While I don't want her to fear the water, she has to learn to respect it. Sally reminded me of that one evening during our vacation. There can be dangerous riptides at the beach in Westport. Sally's summered her whole life at that beach and knows and experienced the dangers. While I know them, have not experienced them first hand. Sally was upset with me that I was not watching Una closely enough one day. She let me know how upset that evening. (it's the entry from the list entitled "dangerous surf (lock the door)". You might be wondering what lock the door has to do with dangerous surf. It's kind of simple. After Sally reminded me just how important it was to watch Una, then stormed off to bed, I reflected a bit about just how cautious I am about our daughter. I then proceeded to ensure the door was locked before retiring myself. It just struck me how the two concerns became linked.


I've been terribly delinquent in getting this post finished. I'm going to add a few more highlights of the trip then post.

We had a very nice visit with our friends Chris and Jen. They joined us for dinner, a night of catching up, then hit the beach with us the following morning. It was good to see them, and nice that they too could enjoy this wonderful spot.

We also got a chance to get together with Ellen and Bill. It had been way to long since we've seen them. They were gracious enough to invite us to see their remodeled home in Westport. It was a terrific evening. The remodel was terrific, the company the best, and Una loved Georgia. Every golden we see now is, "Georgia". :-) Oh, and Bill, you make the best Dark and Stormys.

I can't end this without mentioning the Church rummage sale and the Quaker book sale. Two events were were not going to miss. There were certainly bargains to be had at the rummage sale, and we now have another two boxes of books (mostly cookbooks) to sort through.

Lastly, here's an abbreviated version of an explanation of those items from the list above I have not touched on:

  • Paul Cuffee: Real cool book that was in the home we rented. Seems Captain Cuffe was quite the Westporter. Nice story that his son wrote.

  • T-House: The name of the house we stayed at. Every time Una approached the house she'd say, "T-house". She does so every time now as we drive nearby.

  • Fishing boats: At the end of Main St is the Westport piers where many fishing boats tie up. As we walked Una in her stroller she always wanted to see, "fishing boats".

  • Beach: Covered

  • Fireworks: Oh, that was certainly a highlight I should have mentioned. Thanks to Uncle Jonathan and Aunt Nancy for inviting us to the 4th of July celebration. Una still walks around saying, "fireworks".

  • Georgia: Covered

  • No TV: Did I mentioned I lived without TV for 10 days? Yep. (well, I did spot a bit of Wimbledon as I waited at the base for a haircut).

  • Summer breeze: The rental house is situated just right to almost always have a refreshing breeze.

  • Wine/beer cash register: Quick story. As I was picking up a bottle of wine at the local Wine/Beer store the owner rang up my order, the cash register opened, and he walked over to grab a box or something. He came back and said, "Guess I couldn't do that in Fall River, huh?" It just struck me that Westport is that kind of place, one where you feel safe and trust your neighborhood.

  • Ambulance: Like the Woodkins, Una found three Matchbox cars; a race car, a tow truck, and an "ambulance". She says is so cute, and says it to this day. Ambulances are now here favorite vehicles (well maybe second to "gabage truck").

  • Books: Like the Paul Cuffe one I mentioned.

  • Antique tractor: Una and I were in the yard on Sunday the 6th, when we hear this putt, putt, putt and look over the stone wall and see this antique tractor. The driver (with his son in his lap) sees us and hangs a U-ey, drives over to us to inquire about farming the field that was next to the house. It was a 1949 John Deere. We've passed on the info to the owners to see whether they'd like to see the field plowed in such a manner. I think it would be cool.

  • Lobbies: We had lobsters for dinner one night with Nana and Gramps. Lobbies is the term Una uses to refer to to the real thing, as well as her stuffed lobster.

  • Dangerous surf: Covered.

  • Golden Finch: I was amazed at the number of Golden Finches I saw. They dart from bush to bush, tree to tree. They actually bounce. They flutter then glide. During each flutter you can hear their happy chirp.

  • Moon: We went from a waxing crescent to more than half while on vacation. The last night Sally and I enjoyed the moonlit evening with a glass of wine.

  • Handy Hill: A great creamery close by. Sadly, we never made it there while on vacation. We'll make up for it later this Summer.

  • Bookfaire: Covered.

  • Rummage sale: Covered.

  • Outdoor Shower: I just love an outdoor shower. The one at our rental house was used daily. Only Una use the indoor tubby.

  • Sharing with friends: Covered, but I'll reiterate, it was great to share our vacation with Michele and Tom, Jen and Chris, Ellen and Bill, and, of course, Nana and Gramps.

  • Kite: I, in particular, had a blast flying Una's kite we purchased in Boulder, CO while visiting there earlier this year. What a blast. Una's still a bit young for a kite. She let go once, sending me scurrying to catch it before it ended up in the trees.

  • Bubbles: Daddy and Una had fun making and catching bubbles.

  • Cinderella / What a Mess: Two books Una enjoys over and over and over and...

  • Jenn with Two Ns: I got an email while on vacation from my oldest daughter Jennifer. She's always been referred to as Jenn with two Ns. Here email came from her new domain -- Her soon to be blog will be there.

  • Ashley camping: Being out of touch with limited phone and internet, I missed hearing how Ashley's (the youngest of my two older children) camping trip to MI went. I hope she had a good time. It certainly sounded like it was going to be fun.

  • Marian gifts: When we went home to feed Pooter (our cat) on Wednesday there was a box from Marian with a B-Day gift for me, as well as a little something for everyone. Just another reminder of how lucky I am to be blessed with wonderful family. (Marian, here's Una enjoying the book you sent her.)

  • Crying -- Kisses/Hugs: I probably shouldn't mention this one, but it meant alot to me. As I sat at the table Saturday night scribbling down the memories, the last three brought me to tears. If you've read this blog in the past you know how much I miss my girls. The same goes for my folks and my sister. Una sat across the table from me with this bewildered look on her face. What was making Dadda upset? She made her way around the table and gave Dadda kisses/hugs.

  • Blackie: The large black stuffed bear at Nana's house, which made it's way to our rental house. Una just loves that bear!

  • Woodkins: Covered

Well, there you have it. Our wonderful vacation to Paradise. I wish I had more time to explain it all in more detail. I want to savor it forever.

Here's one more picture which Sally took, that I absolutely love (click the pic to see a larger view. That's the Atlantic Ocean in the distance over my left shoulder. Unfortunately, you can also see a thinning spot in the back of my head) .

Friday, June 27, 2008

Taste Our SouthCoast

Gee, where does time go? I started this blog last Sunday and never got back to it.

We had a terrific weekend enjoying time with Nana and Gramps on Saturday, with dinner at the Candlewood. Sally and I got to escape for drinks on The Back Eddy dock. Was a really nice evening for that.

Sunday was suppose to be a washout, but we awoke to bright sunshine. Time for a beach run. Sally and Nana get to the beach during the week, so when I was able to join them on the weekend, it was really alot of fun to see Una enjoy playing in the sand and searching for "treasures". Una's not done much with the water this year, but I got her to get her toes wet and eventually sit with me with the waves lapping at her. She got a little frightened when a larger wave crashed on her, more so when the wave retreated and she felt the pull as I held onto her. She's enjoying the water a little bit at a time.

Sunday afternoon we decided to take in a little local flavor. Sally had seen that New Bedford (did I mention we love New Bedford) was having it's annual Taste Our SouthCoast. Nana joined Sally, Una, and I for the trek to New Bedford. We enjoyed sampling lots of delicious local foods from various SouthCoast restaurants. We also got entertained by Entrain. They are quite good. I'd certainly see them again. Una seemed to like the percussion sessions and watching everyone dance.

We like to support small less commercialized local activities such Taste Our SouthCoast. It's not a touristy thing, but rather real neighbors coming together.

That's it for now. Sorry this was so delayed. I'll work on getting my blogging more timely.
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What a storm

Wow!!! Tuesday I'm working in Warwick, RI and hear an occasional rumble of thunder most of the afternoon. Then about 4:30ish I get an email from Sally saying, "Holy Cow!" and describing the scene at our house. Seems we got pelted with hail.

I got home about 5:45 (a full two hours after the storm passed) and took the picture to the left showing the size of the hail. Yeah, yeah, it's not softball sized hail like they might have in the Midwest, but this is New England. We don't get hail like that.

I took a few more shots as another "wave" of thunderstorms was approaching. You can see from the picture on the left the eerie colors. Definite thunderstorm approaching (including more hail).

This next picture is just an example of the damage the hail did to most of our plants. The hostas in particular did not fair well.

The picture to the right show the damage done to our neighbor's kale. She lost almost all of her lettuce and kale. Needless to say, she was quite disappointed.

We'll have to wait to see how our veggies make out. They look pretty beat up.

Such is life "Living in Dabucket".

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Monday, June 16, 2008

An Exciting Visit

For weeks now Sally and I have been telling Una that Uncle Jeff, Aunt Jen, and Cousin Emmett would be visiting soon. She's been excited and practicing her "Jeff", "Jen" and "Emmie". While she's not yet master the Uncle and Aunt part (sometimes Jeff becomes Aunt Jeff), she's gotten the Emmie to be Emmett with two very distinct syllables.

We had a terrific visit with lots of time spent in Westport as Nana and Gramps needed a good dose of their grandson. We enjoyed BBQs on the deck, and some time at the beach. Both Una and Emmett learned from their Mom and Dad, respectively, what a sand crab was. Una refused to touch one. Nana got a special treat when Sally, Jeff and Jen, and myself all decided to enjoy the nice deck at The Back Eddy. It was nice for the four of us to be kidless. I think it was doubly nice that Nana got to enjoy and pamper her two grandchildren.

Jeff, Jen, and Emmett left on Wednesday to enjoy some time in Boston and then to Maine for a friends wedding. They returned Sunday to celebrate Father's Day at our house. Una was quite excited to see her cousin. It was Jeff's first Father's Day and Nana and Gramps, of course, joined us for that celebration. Tuesday is Nana and Gramps' anniversary, as well as Jen's birthday, so we celebrated those special occasions, as well. I got to do a little Emmett cuddling. I think I still have the good calming vibes as he seemed to enjoy his time with me.

Jeff, Jen and Emmett were to leave today (I had to work), but their flight plans were delayed and thus changed. I understand Nana got another shot of "Emmett Time" as everyone was headed to East Ave Cafe for lunch. Yeah, I'm jealous.

It was terrific to have family visit. It's a shame visits have to be so infrequent. Sally's a terrific host. I know she fretted over having everything perfect, but rest assured, it all was. Una...well I think she thoroughly enjoyed all the extra attention heaped on her, and she enjoyed having another little person around. She seemed to enjoy the "big girl" role, too.

We look forward to the next visit, whether in CO or RI/MA.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Clean Under Your Fingernails

More about the subject in a bit.

We had a really nice weekend kicked off with dinner at Siena on The Hill. It was a thank you dinner from my boss Tom to Sally and I, and Robin and Marvin, for the work we did in opening a new office late last year. Tom's wife Teresa joined us. It was great to get out for an adult night with friends.

Saturday we waited for the rain that was due any minute. You've probably guessed by that comment, that it never arrived. I did manage to get the lawn cut first thing in the morning. We also visited a day care as we're looking to get Una in on a part-time basis for the social interaction. She seemed to like the facilities we checked out, as well as the care-takers. We'll follow-up on that idea this week.

Sunday turned out to be a gorgeous day. Since Una made sure we were up early I decided it was time we built that raised garden I've talked about for 3 years. We also were motivated by the plants we'd purchased a couple of weeks ago at the Southside Community Land Trust. Since I had purchased the landscape timbers it should just be a matter of measure, cut, and assemble. Sally was kind enough to remind me, "Measure twice, cut once."

So, out comes the nice 10" compound miter saw (chop saw) that my in-laws had purchased for me for my birthday or Father's Day a couple of years ago. I'm happy to report, and I know Sally's thrilled, I still have all ten of my fingers. The cutting was as simple as I had expected it. Once assembled we had a nice 10' x 3' raised bed. It was time to head to HD for some top soil and some spikes to hold those timbers together. While we were there Sally picked out some nice plants for some planter boxes we had picked up previously.

As you can see from the picture to the left, Sally did a fantastic job with the planters.

Sally also did her fair share of the hauling of the top soil and the planting. (did I mention it took two HD trips and 24 bags of topsoil to fill in that raised bed?) Speaking of the planting, thanks to our neighbor Mrs. G. we now have an extra tomato plant, some lettuce, parsley, kale, and pumpkin. I can't wait to see all the plants and veggies grow throughout the Summer.

The afternoon was a visit to Westport to dine with Nana and Gramps. We had thought about taking a walk or SeaDog out for a cruise, but both Sally and I just wanted to veg. (Hauling topsoil is hard work, you know.) So, that's what we did. A relaxing afternoon / evening on the deck at Candlewood, including a great BBQ and too much desert (Nana's fault). Una enjoyed her time in the swing we'd gotten her a few weeks ago. It dangling from a strong tree branch in the back yard. She loves being outdoors and running around. She always sleeps well on Sunday nights. :-)

Oh, about that subject. It's just something I remember my Mom always saying to me after playing in the dirt. As I cleaned up after the planting session, it struck me and I immediately knew I had my blog subject.

Until next week (or perhaps sooner). Jeff, Jen and Emmett arrive Saturday and we are really looking forward to their visit. Something tells me Nana and Gramps are, too.

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