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