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) .