Saturday, May 31, 2008

"Gamps" Birthday

First it was Nana's turn, now "Gamps". Gramps Jeff celebrated his 60th on Wednesday and we made the trek to Westport to help in the celebration. Una did her part in making "Gamps" a poster, as well as a card. She also was his able assistant with opening presents (she's gonna love Christmas this year.)

Since it was a weekday and everyone worked, we did take out BBQ from LJ's in Pawtucket. It was a big hit. I hear the baked beans were great, but will admit I did not partake in those. The ribs, sauce and cornbread were just to my liking. Earlier in the day, Sally made Gramps his favorite cake (spice). Una really enjoyed her cake and ice cream. "Ceem" is always her favorite part of any meal!

Gramps got lots of neat gifts all focusing on sailing. Lots of accessories for Dory Days.

Happy Birthday, "Gamps". We all hope you had a wonderful special birthday.

Una, Sally and John
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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day 2008

We did alot during Memorial Day weekend as we had a little mini vacation staying with "Nana and Gamps" in Westport, MA. Highlights include:

  • Friday dinner with friends Dan and Ginger at Cork in New Bedford.
  • Saturday a visit to see "Gamps'" new boat Dory Days
  • Saturday was also "Gamps'" 60th Birthday Party celebrated at the Paquachuck Inn
  • Sunday included a walk on the beach for Nana, Sally and Una, while Gamps and I took the first ride of 2008 in our boat, Sea Dog.
  • A few BBQs with hamburgers, hot dogs, and ribs, of course.

I've skimped on the details because without the real purpose of the weekend, all of the above may not have been possible. On Monday we honored the true purpose of Memorial Day by attending the annual Westport, MA wreath laying ceremony and Memorial Day Parade.

As a former servicemember, I felt pride as I stood and watched servicemembers from WWII, Korea and Vietnam (and perhaps other conflicts, as well) honor those they may have served along side of. It was a small ceremony. Moving none-the-less. I'm happy we've initiated Una in honoring those that have served and given the ultimate sacrafice for what they believed in.

We moved from the ceremony to the parade. The pride I had felt previously that morning returned as I watched small town America turn out to honor America's Heroes. The parade included war veterans, police, and firefighters. There was a marching band made up of local schoolchildren. And, then there were the Scouts. Girls Scouts and Boy Scouts. Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, and Cub. Parents snapping pictures as their son or daughter passed by. More importantly, those parents cheered and applauded the servicemembers who proceeded their children.

I was moved by the flags, what they represent, and the honor shown them.

Well done Westport. You honored those that secured the freedoms that I and my family enjoy today.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Life Comes At You Fast

No, I'm not seeking ad revenue from Nationwide. I'm talking about real life.

As I go through life witnessing daily the changes in Una, I'm sometimes overwhelmed with emotion regarding my grown children, Jenn and Ashley. I want them to know that they are so much a part of our family. They'll get blogged about, too. :-)

So many of the things I'm witnessing today, I was fortunate to witness 25 or so years ago with either Jenn or Ashley. Sally sometimes asks whether Una at this age is more like Jenn or Ashley. To be honest I don't know. It's funny what you remember. Jenn sleeping in the crankup swing or the bouncy in the doorway between the dining room and the kitchen. Ashley sucking that finger or brushing her hair (she hated that). I remember the special things. I remember things I've had my memory jogged through pictures. Is it the fact that 25+ years have passed? Is it that I wasn't paying attention? Will 25 years from now the daily actions of Una be faded memories?

Life was so different for me then. I was 25 when Jenn was born. Was I mature enough to appreciate what I had a hand in creating? Did I appreciate those events the way I appreciate them today? Did I show my girls the pride I felt in their accomplishments as I do today with Una? I'd like to think the answer to all those questions would be "Yes".

I miss my girls. Sally can attest to that. Sometimes so much I simply cry as I think of them. Life comes at you fast. There they are as little children, then they are grown mature women who are thousands of miles away.

When Rick P, my grammar school classmate and friend, reached out to me after about 30+ years a couple of weeks ago (he had gotten my number by calling my Mom) he said this, "Your Mom says, 'Call your Mom!'" I now so often know how my Mom felt when I joined the Navy and moved thousands of miles away and travelled half way around the world. A bit of her was gone; had moved on. Pieces of me have moved on, too.

I called my Mom out of the blue the day before yesterday and she said, "What good news do you have for me today?" She just assumed that if I was calling mid-week it had to be for some other reason than to just say hello and check in.

Your children are your children whether they are 20 months or 25 or 27 years. They are your children whether they are down the hall in their crib, or thousands of miles away in their own homes. You love them all the same. You can just as easily lay awake concerned about your infant's latest cold as you can about ice storms in Texas or blizzards in Ohio.

Life comes at you fast. Call your Mom. Call your distant children. Tell them you love them. Ask for pictures to save the memories of the different stages of their life.

I love you Jenn and Ashley. This one's for you.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Fantastic Finds

So, Saturday started off another dreary wet weekend. Ugh! "But Wait!" the weatherman exclaims. The rain is past and the sun is waiting to shine according to Doppler and PinPoint Weather.

Seeing that everything in the yard was wet from the overnight and morning rain, we decided to cruise around. There's a yard sale we need to hit. Cruise on up Hope St and low and behold a large yard sale on a church lawn. Let's give it a whirl. Sally and I both spot it. Let's take a look What? $10? Let's get it. Una will love it. What is it? Can you guess?

It's a Little Tikes Workbench.

We now have our very own Toolbelt Diva on our hands.

Despite the near $4/gallon for gasoline (thanks GW aka Dummy), we decided to hit the road again for more cruising. While venturing around the East Side of Providence, Sally mentioned that the Southside Community Land Trust 16th Annual Rare and Unusual Plant Sale was going on today. I had hit the sale a few years ago on my own when Sally worked on Saturdays. I had found the plant sale a fun experience and Sally recalled that. So, off to South Providence we go. No, map, no directions, just a vague memory of making the trip a few years ago. Suddenly, we find it. Tons of cars, lots of people, all there for one purpose, herb and plant finds. We browsed the grounds and game away with 14 plants and herbs. All for the not so hefty total price of $48.

Here are the plants that will find their new home shortly when I finish (well, start and finish, actually) the raised bed I'm making. Sally stacked them on the fence for watering and it made for a cool photo.

Okay, two finds down. There must be another Providence find to find. So, more cruising (thanks again Dummy). We cruised over to the Armory district and Federal Hill, experiencing some stunning Victorian homes. As we cruised Federal Hill it dawned on me that it would be nice to grab a bite at Venda Ravioli and perhaps picnic in DePasquale Plaza (seen here).

So onto Atwell's Ave we go. We find a prime parking space. This is turning out to be our day. :-)

It's graduation day for Johnson & Wales University so the city and Federal Hill are abuzz with graduates and their families. The outside dining at Venda is right on DePasquale Plaza (you can barely see the tables on the left in the picture). Rather than grab sandwiches we decided to take advantage of the cafe dining. The hostess seated us and to Una's and our delight, right opposite the fountain in the plaza. I think we had the best seat there. Our Picasa photo album of our lunch experience can be accessed here. Needless to say, we had a wonderful lunch. Una showed her good Sicilian heritage by enjoying her plate of cheese ravioli, and of course the Italian bread. Mmmm.

It was quite the day. We'll enjoy these finds this year and future years. The memory of lunch on DePasquale Plaza will be one we will cherish forever. The look on Una's face as she watched other children play at the fountain will be one I will not forget.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mother's Day 2008

"Momma, huggg!"

This picture says it all. It's what Mother's Day is all about. A child sharing with their Mother all the love that the Mother has bestowed to them. It can be a handmade card or a craft. Una's way at this point is with a special hug reserved for special times. This was one of those moments.

Sally, you're a terrific Mom. Una and I are so lucky to have you. We love you -- more everyday.

Mother's Day 2008 was terrific. While at the Naval Base in Newport, RI last week for a haircut I had the bright idea of perhaps doing brunch at the Officer's Club (aka O'Club) for Mother's Day. Sally loves special occasions and a chance to dress-up. Una, being her Mother's daughter, does, too. I knew Sally's Mom had enjoyed the O'Club in the past. Her father and brother Andy were both Naval Officers. It would be the perfect choice. I'd get to please the two local Moms in my life (more about the remotes Moms in my life in a bit.) So, on the Wednesday before Mother's Day I called the IT&T (the base ticket office) to see about getting tickets. Sally and her Mom were heading to Newport on Thursday and perhaps they could pickup the tickets. "No problem," say the nice lady at IT&T. "They can purchase and pickup tickets on Thursday just fine." In the words of GW (aka Dummy) "Mission Accomplished". Thursday arrives, Sally and her Mom (Una, too), head to Newport and the IT&T office. The conversation went something like this, "We'd like to get tickets for the Mother's Day O'Club Brunch." "Sold Out!" "What?" "Oh, by any chance did your husband call yesterday?" "Yes." "Oh, thank goodness. I neglected to tell him to make a reservation. These tickets have been selling like hotcakes. I felt so bad knowing you'd be coming down to purchase tickets today. I put five aside for you. You've got the last five reservations." "Whew!" Now, unlike GW, I don't have to retract my "Mission Accomplished". Thanks nice lady at IT&T.

So, Sunday arrives. Una, being the good girl she is, not only lets Mom sleep in, but Dad, too. Una and I head out for bagels, and of course, flowers. We enjoyed a nice special morning for Mom.

Before heading to Newport for bunch I of course had to call my Mom. I ran across this picture and I think it's fantasitc. It has "MOM" written all over it. (not literally as I'm not yet into photo editting) Mom was always in the kitchen. I probably gave my Mom more cookbooks and kitchen gadgets for Mother's Day than I can remember. I must confess, I think I bought the "veg-O-matic" more for me than Mom. It was so cool to make homemade fries. I digress. Mom and Dad were enjoying the weekend in Pollock Pines when I called. Nothing huge planned for the day other than being with family. Dad was surely up at the crack of dawn and the coffee was waiting when Mom awoke.

Unfortunately, I called to early to catch my sister who I knew would be joining them. Here's a great pic of Marian with her grandson. It too reflects a mother's (or grandmother's) love.

Nana and Gramps arrive for the drive to Newport. I took the route that brings us over the Newport Bridge (Gramps normally coming from Westport doesn't get that view so he particularly enjoyed it). It was an absolutely gorgeous day and the ride was nice. Brunch at the O'Club was very nice. We had a nice table for five. Una was terrific and enjoyed the brunch. I think the bacon was her favorite menu item with the jello and whipped cream a close second. After brunch we got to enjoy the deck at the O'Club. The O'Club is situated right on the southern point of Coaster's Harbor Island. It overlooks the Newport Bridge and Goat Island. You get views of Jamestown, Newport, and the mouth of Narragansett Bay. The deck wraps around to the West for nice views of the historic Naval War College. With the weather so great, it made for excellent photos. The one of Sally and Una above was obviously taken at this time.

After brunch we had a nice leisurely drive around the historic Point section of Newport, down by the beaches, out to the Sachuest's Point National Wildlife Refuge, and then a drive on Indian Ave which faces the Sakonnet River (it's not really a river, but...). It was a terrific day for a drive.

All in all it was a GREAT day. I think Nana and Sally really enjoyed their day.

Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to personally wish the rest of the Mom's in our lives a Happy Mother's Day on the actual day. Here they are with hopes that their Mother's Day was filled with love and family.

Sister-in-law Jen posing with our darling nephew Emmett.

Grammie with Gramps on her visit to "da bucket" in February.

Jenn and Ashley's Mom, Tina. Ashley took this shot and it supposedly turned into a laugh-fest. While I knew both girls would wish their Mom a Happy Mother's Day it made me proud that they both took the time to call and wish Sally a Happy Mother's Day, too. Nice job, girls.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Memory Lane (aka Do I Feel Old)

So, there I was sitting at my desk at work when my cell phone rings. I don't normally answer "Private number", but I was expecting a call from a technician who I had given my cell phone number to. Expecting it was him, I answered the phone. Resonating into my ear was, "Hello, John? This is Rick P from Daly City." Wow, a sudden flashback 30+ years. Rick P was 8th grade class president of my grammar school that I graduated from in 1969. It seems Rick and a few others from OLPH, my grammar school Alma mater, thought it would be a great idea to have a 40 year reunion next year. I must say, based on the week that's passed since Rick's call, I wholeheartedly agree. Now, I've never been to a reunion, so I'm somewhat apprehensive as to what to expect. Rick has shared with me some names from the past and even some grammar school "yearbook" stuff. (Our "yearbook" was simply mimeographed paper stapled together. As with any mimeographed work, it smelled great. I can still smell it 39 years later.)

With Rick sharing some old photos with me, it got me hunting for some of my own. When my folks visited us in "da bucket" last August to meet their newest granddaughter, I mentioned to my Mom that I needed some old pictures to share with Sally so that we could see similar traits in Una. A few weeks later I got a great package of photos not only of me, but of my sister and other family members. I knew they were around here somewhere. Ah-ha, I found them right where I put them (near the scanner as I knew some day I'd want to scan them.) That day arrived the evening of Rick's call.

So, here are a couple of pictures of a skinny little kid wearing the OLPH uniform. Was there a style in the late 60s that is the opposite of today's style of wearing pants as low as possible? I swear I've not hiked up the pants to my rib cage. I really do have long legs. The other pose is based on the fact that I was a first baseman. I'm emulating one of my boyhood heros, Willie McCovey. Great stretch, huh?

So, thank you Rick P for that wonderful call. I look forward to the reunion and a wonderful trip down Memory Lane.

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Date Night!

WooHoo, Sally and I got to have a "date night" on Saturday. Our friends Chris & Jen had invited us to see Chris' band "the 'mericans". The music was to start at 9ish so we decided let's get the sitter here early and have a nice dinner and music night. We were able to hit one of our "old" haunts, The Red Fez. There were seats at the bar. Sally and I enjoy sitting at the bar and we've not done that for a couple of years. We had a wonderful time, and as always the food at the Fez was great.

Onto hearing the music. The venue was a new one for us, and was really just a few blocks from our home in "da bucket". The Blackstone recently moved into the new Hope Artiste Village here in Pawtucket. It's an old mill building that has been converted into lofts, art studios and local retail shops. It was a first time to both The Blackstone and the Hope Artiste Village. We were impressed with both. The Blackstone was a large open nightclub. High top tables, a lounge with comfy looking leather chairs and couches, large wrap-around bar, pool tables, foosball table, pinball and jukebox. An outside deck, too (serves as a smoking lounge for those so inclined.) It was a big place and the 20 foot (or so) ceilings really made the place seem that much more roomy. There was a $6 cover, but the guy at the door ensured us that all the cover money went to the bands. Nice! Drafts were $4.50 for a good pint. Not bad. We didn't see anyone eating so we'll have to try out the food some other time.

Sally and I strolled down the old mill building and found closed entrances to many local businesses (it was 10pm so that was to be expected). One tenant space was empty but open and we could see the neat lofty look available. We could hear activity in one business, but could see no one. We did see some partially assembled pool table frames in there, however. All in all it looks like a very cool place to work and house a business. We would love to see what the living loft spaces look like.

Unfortunately, we had to leave before hearing the band we came to see, the 'mericans. There were two bands that played before they went on and we had to get home. We had promised the sitter we'd be back around 11pm. We met a few other friends at the Blackstone so our focus was not really on the bands, but I'd say they were good. The place is big enough that I did not feel the sounds from the band overwhelmed a conversation.

All in all it was a wonderful evening. I know I miss our nights out, and I'm sure Sally does, too. But, neither of us would trade our current parenting roles for anything in the world.

Monday, May 5, 2008


Unfortunately we had a very cold weekend this past weekend without much chance for outdoor activities. One event we did get to enjoy outdoors was the South Count "Touch-A-Truck" event in Wakefield. While it was only in the low to mid 40s Una, Sally and I enjoyed seeing (and hearing) all the trucks. Kids sure do like to pull on the air horns. :-) Besides the fire, tow, garbage, cement mixer, and dump trucks, Una got to experience both a South Kingstown police car and a RI State Police car. Oh, yeah, and the Channel 12 mobile pinpoint weather truck. Thanks to the Masons, we also put Una through the child identification program. I think she enjoyed the finger-printing the most. The videotape we made was a bit overwhelming. Una's a talker, but not when she first meets you. So, the audio portion of the tape is a bit quiet.

Here are a few pics from the event.
One of those air horns must have just gone off, Una looks startled.
This firetruck is about 40 years old. The owner bought it through an eBay auction. Was a great '60s firetruck.
A peek into one of the truck cabs. We're not holding our noses so it's not the garbage truck.

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Happy Birthday to Nana

Happy Birthday Nana from your favorite Granddaughter.

Don't you think my hand-writing has really improved?

I can't wait to have some of your birthday cake. Save me some frosting, please.

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