Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas in Vermont

I've included some views of our new home here. That's several angles of the living room and our Christmas tree. Our grandchildren named it "The Hundred Acre Wood", being all huge Winnie the Pooh fans. We've had the whitest November and December in years. The skiing has been great but we can cross country or snow shoe right from our door too. That's Daniel skiing with Josh on the right. Not long after this shot he was skiing on his own - and did an intermediate slope before the week was out.

We were lucky to have all three sons home for Christmas. James took the bus from NYC and met us in Boston on Saturday the 22nd. for our Holiday Open House - this year at our friends the Wolfs in Concord (see my previous Blog entry). Sean flew from Aspen later that night, where he was attending a training session for work. We four drove home to Vermont Sunday morning. Josh, Michal and our three grandchildren joined us on Christmas day. We had a huge prime rib roast beef for dinner that night and even my three sons couldn't finish it!
We watched a lot of movies over the week. Disney's animated "Robin Hood" and the classic "Winnie the Pooh" were the favorites of all. Somewhat more adult favorites were mostly sequels, "Harry Potter", "Spiderman", "Bourne Ultimate" etc. That's Josh with Daniel with a tense bit of something and Ariella in her leopard pjs!

We still do stockings for the two youngest boys with mostly chocolate, DVDs and books this year. There was still one toy each - matching radio controlled helicopters that dueled all over our high ceiling living room. That's Sean in his Columbian soccor shirt and James with me, dressed in the fluffiest white bathrobe he gave me. Hits with the grandchildren were toys, toys and toys - plus books and DVDs - no clothes please!On December 27 Daniel celebrated his fifth birthday. He chose a chocolate on chocolate cake combination (we made it) and decorated it with candles - great with lots of ice cream.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The 38th Annual Holiday Open House

That's son James and Jennie, the Wolf's oldest daughter on the left with Pam Pinsky and myself on the right.

Below left (left to right) is Carole Sharoff, Gene Brzek, his son Brian and wife Julie. On the right below is Debbie D'Arpa and Marty Wolf (on the right). Below that on the left is Bill Fonvielle and Susan Youmans.

In 1969 Heather had her first Holiday Open House with her roommate Juanita Head on Marlboro St. in Boston. Their second was at a new apartment on Newbury Street. Later it continued there with her next roommate Karen Dunn and even later with successor Kathy Herald. In 1976 Heather bought one of the first condos for sale in Boston at 311 Commonwealth Ave. and the party moved there first with Kathy and then with Scott. After their marriage they bought a Victorian in Brookline and for 23 years we had the annual event there.

In the early days we made the ornaments for the tree at the party and those ornaments still hang on our present tree, bringing back some wonderful memories. At first also we were almost all single and childless. Then spouses and children joined us and every year we all got older. Our oldest son Joshua now has given us the next generation!
When we sold our Brookline home and bought "Scott Free" several friends volunteered to host the party at their home. Karen Martin (my ex-roommate and cohostess years before, Karen Dunn) and her husband Ted hosted the first two new Holiday Open Houses in their beautiful home in Winchester, MA. This year for the second time Russ and Marty Wolf have been our hosts in Concord, MA. The guest list is pretty much the same but it's so much more fun for Scott and I. We now plan, cook and decorate with great friends.
From left to right on the left is Josh with Maya, Russ Wolf, and Karen & Ted Martin. Below right is Julie Wolf reading to Ariella.

This year, like many in the past, coincided with Scott's birthday, his 60th. Unfortunately a northeaster storm was also predicted to share the date - a big one. For the first time ever we postponed the party a week! We still had a cake for Scott - along with a groaning table of other desserts. Of course these followed the appetisers, turkey, ham, salads, veggies, pasta, and meatballs & sausage & sauce.


A few images here from the first night of Hanukah with our oldest son Josh and his family. That's Michal with the youngest, Maya on the top left and Ariella with her father's hat on the top right. Scott's on the right with Ariella and Daniel. Below that Josh is lighting the first candle on the menorah (one of many, including one Daniel made in school). We feel very lucky that we get to celebrate two December holidays - next will be Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Thanksgiving at Plymouth and Vermont

After flying home on November 16th we stayed with our oldest son Joshua and his family - wife Michal, Daniel 4, Ariel 3, and Maya 1 in Newton, MA. He is a radiation oncologist at Lahey Clinic.
We went down to the Plimouth Plantation, a recreation of the original settlement and an Indian village like the one which would have been nearby. Volunteers play the parts of both the settlers and the native Americans and answer questions from the visitors. Our older two grandchilren were fascinated by the people, their stories and the way they lived. This was particularily interesting to all of us because I am directly descended from one of the original settlers who arrived on the Mayflower - Stephen Hopkins. That's "him" on the right here with Daniel and myself.
That's a shot of the plantation below and on the left Joshua and Maya. Further down is Michal with Daniel and Ariel in one of the Indian tents. My sister Paula from Maryland took the train up to spend time with us through Thanksgiving and both our younger sons arrived together in a rented car. Scott's brother Brent, his wife and daughter all joined us too for Thanksgiving. Counting a friend of Sean's from Dartmouth, we were 14 over the weekend and happily our new home can accomodate everyone!
I made two turkeys, tons of stuffing, squash, mashed potatoes, green beans, turnip, and gravy with apple and pecan pies for dessert. Scott and I put ourselves on a much needed diet after everyone left!
That's our second son James surprised in the act of eating by the camera followed below left by Sean with his friend Roe from Taiwan. Last is my sister Paula with Daniel and Ariel. The weather has been very unusual this year. It has been the whitest fall (winter doesn't officially start until December 21st!) for many years. Okemo Resort where I teach skiing opened mid November and the snow just kept coming.
Daniel is already skiing, stopping and turning by himself. We had a fun day cheering him on. Ariella has been coming along in a backpack on Joshua. All three of our sons have taught skiing at Okemo at one time; James for many years. I've put in my clinic days and several days teaching but holiday activities have kept me from working a lot.
James now works for Binder & Binder in NYC representing clients applying for social security disability in court. Our youngest Sean is in Washington working on Clean Energy policy issues with the national office of the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).
Our daughter Zoe, a Child and Family Counselor, is in California with her husband George and sons Nicholas 4 and Tommy 1. We'll be visiting them for 10 days in January - spending three days skiing and boarding at Heavenly Valley at Lake Tahoe.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Leaving Cartagena and going home!

We have had such a wonderful time here in Cartagena. We arrived over a month ago and the time has gone by so fast. After our first few days at anchor we moved into our slip at the Club Nautico Marina and "Scott Free" will remain there in our absence. On the left our boat with our day glow orange kyack on the bow is at anchor while a tall Argentine training ship passes before us (we're just to right of his stern).On the right is the view from our cockpit over the dock and the harbor towards Boca Grande, the wealthy residential high rise district along the beach. Club Nautico is the cruiser hangout here and we've made many good friends and renewed our friendship with others.

We had planned to haul the boat and leave her "on the hard", but the extensive festival holidays made that difficult. We've settled into a daily schedule and will miss particularily the walks in the city every morning. Still we are so looking forward to seeing our family and friends back home. In just one week we will celebrate Thanksgiving with many of them at our new home in Vermont, the Hundred Acre Wood.

Getting the boat ready to leave, even in a slip, is still several days work. All the fresh food needs to be thrown or given away and the frig emptied and cleaned. The beds stripped, linens cleaned and put in plastic. Scott had last minute repair jobs and the new wind generator to install on the radar arch. We also put the "winter" canvas cover over the whole boat at the last minute. Terry and Chuck from "Maker's Match" next to us (shown here) gave us a hand that last day.

And, of course, we look forward to skiing (and for Heather, teaching). We plan to continue our Spanish lessons in Vermont and will be looking for a tutor as soon as we get back. Our teacher Amaury is shown here to the right with Scott and I. So tomorrow we fly to Panama City, stay one night and then fly to Boston on Friday. In January we'll spend 10 days in California seeing our our daughter Zoe and her family - husband George and two sons, Nicholas and Thomas. And then on February 25, after a few days in Panama City, we'll be back home on "Scott Free".

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Parade of the Candidates in Cartagena

We are lucky to be in Cartagena for their biggest yearly blowout. This is around their Independence day and the contest for Miss Columbia. Candidates from all over the country are competing for the title and this country takes it's beauty contests seriously. This is the only news for almost a week.
The holiday is five days long but the celebrations go one for over a week! Every day there are parades. The first day was a formal presentation of the candidates, all in white, with their escorts through the center of the city - a small affair with only a few bands and dancers. See our blog entry labeled San Fernando Fiesta for two pictures of a few of the girls and their partners.

The big parade was the next day, the first out of work holiday, and the whole city closed down for it. Hundreds of police and army personnel kept the thousands in some order and shut down the streets to cars. The candidates are on big floats, standing and dancing, surrounded by dancing groups and bands, and cheered on by their supporters The dancers vary enormously from the very young to the very old, men and women both. The energy shown by the older ones amazed us all, and there were a lot of dancers over 70. Many of our cruiser friends were frightened off by the crowds and we were one of the few who stayed for the whole parade (and were close up). Eight of us went down an hour before the parade was supposed to start.
Of course it was three hours before it actually came past us. But we had front row seats on the curb as you can see from my pictures! This festival has a trick or treat quality to it. Motor oil, corn flour, water and paint figure into the "trick" component. Young men/boys wander throughout the city all week covered in motor oil or paint and carrying small buckets
You either give them a coin or get a sample. Water and flour are just generally thrown around! One young women came up to Scott and decorated his face for him - doesn't he look pleased (she was very pretty). You can see the crowds in this shot here with the army patroling the city walls. Waiting all that time worked up an appetite in most of us. Restaurants and bars were all closed but every vendor in the city was out supplying the crowd. We enjoyed the crisp plantain chips, popcorn, ice cream and cervezas. Once the parade was over it was a long walk home through the city among the crowds but we had plenty of change and it was fun watching people. The next day the candidates moved onto the water! Each one stood in a boat rowed by four naval officers and took part in a huge boat parade through the harbor. Finally the judging itself took place in the beautiful convention center down town.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Churches, Convents and Monestaries

The variety of churches here is remarkable and most have been wonderfully restored or maintained. The Convento de San Pedro Claver now serves as museum in part. It was founded by Jesuits in early 17th century and is named for Spanish-born monk Pedro Claver, called the "Apostle of the Blacks" or the "Slave of the Slaves", he spent all his life ministering to the slaves brought from Africa. He was the first person to be canonized a saint in the New World in 1888. The Iglesia de San Pedro Claver is above left and was completed in the first half of the 18th century. The remains of the saint are in the alter surrounded by beautiful stained glass windows. Above right is the Catedral-Arzobispado of Cartagema - a massive church with a lovely dome that rises above the city. The signiture building of the University of Cartagena is a former convent, Claustro San Augustin-Hoy. The tower is beautifully restored and painted, shown here above immediate left. Two smaller lovely churches in pretty squares are the Iglesia Trinidad (right) and the Iglesia Santo Toribio de Mogrojejo (right below). The College of Beaux Arts now enjoys it's location in a charming brightly colored church in the square of San Diego shown below on the left.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

San Diego Fiesta

Scott went downtown to the San Diego district with Richard, Tom and Colleen to see the local fiesta parade on Sunday afternoon. They didn't know what to expect but it turned out to be a mini carnival parade. Groups of dancers (children & adults), musicians and individuals (like the fellow in red with Richard) thronged through the streets. It was a colorful display and our little cruiser group was

inspired to join them. At first they stayed in the back but later were moved forward among the groups. Our carnival in Grenada last summer was very much like this, although much bigger. Later this week however we may see similiar displays on a larger scale. Richard and Debra saw a parade to present the candidates for Miss Columbia on Saturday. They and their escorts made a beautiful sight. See two shots below.