Thursday, December 22, 2022

And We're Off!


Junior and Baby buried in the snow

It wasn't a good start but a happy ending. And that's just the first 20 minutes! I thought we were in good shape this  year as we  had only 1 and 1 /2 feet of snow (unlike 2 years ago when we had 3 feet) but underneath lurking, was some ice. We had planned carefully to avoid the long drive in 2020 when we arrived at our first RV park in the dark. So the RV was all packed and we spent our last night there. But we had waited to shovel out and hook up the truck until the morning. I carefully edged the truck out of the parking spot and turned down the driveway. But the tires locked and we turned sideways and skidded down, jacking the trailer. I managed to stop in front of the garage at the lip of the driveway. 

The snow fall ended a few days before we left giving Scott enough time to shovel the walk down to the driveway so we could pack up the RV. 

Scott was amazing. He directed me to manage a controlled (!) sideways skid of the front wheels that slowly turned the truck down the driveway and we were able to slowly descend towards Spring Lake Rd. But as we neared the bottom junction the brakes locked and I couldn't slow down or stop. We entered the road and managed to turn down it - but if a car had been coming, there would have been a crash! But luck was with us. The rest of the trip was a piece of cake. 

Baby and Junior hooked up and shoveled out, ready to skid down the driveway.

Scott's brother Brent and sister-in-law Wilma had applied for permission for us to park in front of their home in South Orange, NJ. They, unfortunately for us, were with their family in South Carolina but after a 5 hour drive, we were able to spend a comfortable night in their home before continuing on the next day for another 4.5 hours, all the way to Cherry Hill RV Park near Washington, DC. Baby will stay there for 8 nights while we visit my sister Paula in Belcamp, MD and our son James and his family in Washington.  We'll continue south on 12/28.

Quincy Market looks deserted but inside it was teaming with shoppers and people having lunch.

Earlier this month we went down to Boston for 5 days with Sean & Will. Our Annual Holiday Open House, suspended the last few years for COVID was planned for Sunday at their home in Dorchester. I also had the last of my yearly appointments with my thoracic surgeon. After 11 years with no problem I no longer need to see him. Scott and I had a great day in Boston enjoying the holiday decorations and doing some shopping down at Quincy Market. Each night with Sean and Will we had fabulous dinners out at Darryl's Corner Bar & Kitchen (followed by seeing the Soweto Gospel Choir at the Berkley School of Music), Oleana in Cambridge, and at their home. 

We pose for a photo with Sean & Will after our dinner at Darryl's Restaurant in the South End.

But then the bad news/good news vibe hit us. The first two nights we spent some time with Jenny Wolf, who is renting their third floor and on Friday night she tested positive for COVID before a Master's Swim Meet. So we had to cancel the party and spent the next five days worried about catching it. So that was the bad news - but happily none of us came down with COVID and Jenny never had a single symptom! It was sad for everyone to miss seeing all our friends again this year but maybe we'll try again in the Spring! So now we are at Paula's enjoying her company. Tomorrow we move on to James' for Christmas. 

A tiny tree all decorated at Sean & Will's for
the holiday

It just fit in this alcove perfectly.

Faneuil Hall is dwarfed by sky scrapers but the 
Customs Tower in the background is still there.

Quincy Market was decked out for the holidays 
and we enjoyed clam chowder for lunch.

This huge dinosaur didn't miss out on the festivities.

Friday, December 02, 2022

Giving Thanks!


Gathered around the table, from left, Heather, Josh, Shira, Gary, Will, Jonathan, Scott (hidden), Sean, Ariella and Daniel. 

We had lots of reasons to give thanks this Thanksgiving. Although we were really sad to learn that our son James, daughter-in-law Morgen and youngest grandson Kolya were unable to join us for the holiday, we were grateful that they recovered from the RSV that caused them to cancel without the complications that have landed some children in overcrowded hospitals at this time of year. Our hearts go out to those families.

We did a lot of cooking with everyone pitching in. That's Jonathan, Scott, Shira, Heather, Gary, Will and Sean.

But we did have two of our sons and their families join us. Sean, Will and Will's Dad Gary came up from Boston, while Josh, Michal, Shira and Jonathan flew from Tulsa, OK to NYC where they picked up our two grandchildren attending Columbia University, Daniel and Ariella and drove up overnight. Of course we did lots of cooking and eating, but the weather cooperated enough so that we got in a couple of hikes and Josh and Daniel spent a day skiing at Killington. It was a wonderful weekend with lots of board games and the World Cup soccer to watch.  And we had a Christmas/Hanukah morning opening the many boxes of gifts that my sister Paula sent for everyone! We are truly thankful. 

My beautiful daughter-in-law Michal and equally beautiful granddaughter Ariella had fun making a lemon meringue pie together, shown here before baking.

Top row: Will, Sean and Daniel. Bottom row: Jonathan, Heather, Gary, Shira, Ariella, Scott and Josh

Hiking near our home over the "wedding 

The finished Lemon Meringue Pie.

Shira strikes a pose.

Watching the World Cup, Scott, Gary, Michal, Jonathan, Sean, Shira and Will.

Jonathan enjoyed the fun gifts that my
sister sent for all.

Sean attempting some difficult climbing
maneuvers on our hike.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

NY, NY - It's A Wonderful Town!

Our granddaughter Ariella "Cookie" is a freshman at Columbia and here she is pointing to the poster for the Sabor's Fall Show, Cartas de Amor, and that's our grandson Daniel on it!

 We have two grandchildren attending Columbia University in NYC now! It's been many years since Scott and I have been back to the city, but now we plan to do it more often. Our oldest grandson Daniel invited us to his Latin Dance Club's (called Sabor) Fall Show a month ago and we planned a weekend around it. Scott's brother and wife live in South Orange, NJ so we were supposed to stay with them. Unfortunately we found out Friday night that Brent had come down with COVID so plans changed. We managed to get a reservation at the Marriot Courtyard on E52nd St. so all seemed to work out. Happily Brent was taking Paxlovid and feeling better a few days later. 

Scott and I with Cookie and Daniel after the show!

We drove down Saturday morning to the University Parking Garage nearby. The very nice attendant told us it would be $200 or more if we left it there until Monday. But he pointed out we could park the car on the street free as long as we were back Monday morning in time for the posted cleaning schedule. Wow! Thanks! We drove out the exit and parked across the street. The Monday deadline wasn't until 11 AM! It was a quick walk down to the Student Union where we met Cookie and watched some of Daniel's rehearsals. Then Cookie took us for a tour of the school and we saw her dorm room - a really nice single with a view over the main courtyard. 

The dancers rehearse at the Columbia Student Union. Rehearsals lasted all Saturday and Sunday until the performance Sunday night at 7 PM.

Daniel had a brief lunch break so we had some time to visit. Then Cookie joined us for a Lyft ride to the hotel. But our luck broke down. I had made the reservation the night before after hearing about Brent's COVID and screwed up royally. I didn't carefully check the date on the confirmation and it was for the following week! And they were full at the hotel. But the very nice clerks searched around and suggested the Marriott Residence Hotel only a few blocks away where they had rooms. We walked down there and indeed they had rooms - but for $400+ a night! Scott got on his phone and started checking rates on Expedia etc. and found somewhat cheaper rates on the Marriott website. The clerks were again SO nice and spent a lot of time with us helping. Finally we ended up with a much lower rate (by signing up for the Marriott credit card) and by this time had made friends with Craig, the supervisor. He gave us an upgrade to a nicer room, and it was very lovely. It had a full kitchen with big windows overlooking the street. Cookie was a great help and visited with us for a while in our room. But it was too late for a museum visit so we said good night and made plans to meet in the morning at the Metropolitan Museum. After a nice rest, we had a good dinner nearby at a modest restaurant, Foxy John's Bar & Kitchen.

One of the many interior courtyards at the Metropolitan Museum. We had lunch at the Café in the back. 

The Museum of course is amazing and we managed to see a fair amount. A nice volunteer helped us plan our route through the Egyptian collection, the American Wing and the modern European art collection. Midway we stopped for lunch at a café.  Cookie had never been there and it had been many years since Scott and I had so we had a wonderful time discovering it together. 

That's Daniel on the left

And second from the left

Daniel got us VIP seats at a table at the front of the auditorium so we had a fabulous view. You can't pick Daniel out in this group shot. 

We went back to the hotel for a rest and then returned to meet Cookie at her dorm. We stopped at the car to pick up presents for her and Daniel. Her birthday was a few weeks ago and we decided we'd just bring them with us. We had dinner together at her dorm cafeteria and then went to the show. The auditorium was packed with enthusiastic students! This was the fundraiser for Sabor, Columbia's Latin Dance Club. They host a 3 day seminar for NYC underserved but ambitious High School students in the Spring. They provide workshops in the performing arts and college admissions during a weekend of dance. The choreography for this event is done by members of the club. Daniel hopes to submit a proposal for a dance next fall.  It was an amazing fun riotous evening with a hugely supportive audience.  
Monday morning was a relaxing one enjoying the excellent free breakfast at the hotel. Luckily Scott's cousin Lisa called us and suggested we stop and spend for a night with she and her partner Yosi in Amherst, MA. It was an easy traffic free trip from the upper west side where we had left our car out of the city and we met Lisa at a parking area near their home for a chilly but beautiful walk along the river. On the way back to their home we stopped to see the house they bought that Yosi is renovating to rent. It's a small former store and needs a lot of work, but Yosi is very experienced. Lisa made a fabulous dinner for us and it was terrific catching up with them. We were off the next day early for the trip home. What a great weekend!

Daniel after the performance

Lots of his friends came to congratulate him.

Foxy John's on E47th St.
Daniel's Instagram post re our present of a tool
kit that look's like Thor's hammer!

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Exploring with our E-Bikes

Our second day biking was our first on a road but chosen due to little traffic. 

We've been enjoying a real Indian Summer here in Vermont these first two weeks in November. The daytime temperatures have been consistently in the middle to high 60's and for several days, into the 70's. And almost every day has been sunny! At first we headed out on the trails for hikes, but hunting season made that a little scary. So we decided to bike instead. This week we made two trips; first to Lebanon, NH for a trip on the Northern Rail Trail and second, on a back road in Tinmouth, VT.  The high these two days was 63 so we had to dress pretty warmly with gloves. 

Scott poses next to his e-bike and as you can see, he's dressed warmly. We actually had coffee sitting outside in the sun after our bike trip and it was very comfortable, but the wind while we were biking made it quite chilly.

The Northern Rail Trail is NH's longest at 58 miles. It goes from Lebanon to Boscawen. Plans are to extend it to Concord and White River Junction soon, for a total of 69 miles. The Friends of the Northern Rail Trail have been working with the State of N.H. to turn this former Northern Railroad line into a multipurpose 4-season trail since 2004. The Northern Railroad, begun in 1857, joined two earlier lines and ran from Concord to White River Junction. From there passengers could continue up to Montreal. Traffic on it ceased in the early 1970's. 

We did the first section starting in Lebanon and turning around at Lake Mascoma near Enfield.

The next day we decided we were ready to try biking on a road. We'd picked one out a while ago on our regular route from our home to the Dorset Playhouse. It's west of Route 7 with gentle hills, a smooth paved road and not a lot of traffic - no shoulders though, but we felt the visibility was far enough for cars to slow down if another car was approaching near us. The views are really lovely all along this way. 
Rolling hills and farms line the road through Tinmouth. 

On the way we stopped at site indicated on our Google map with a description on "Yelp" - the Giant's Table, or Table Rock. What a funny place. It's just off the road and the local fire chief with a good sense of humor  dreamed it up! 

Here it is? Right now there are only the chairs and "plates" but sometimes there are tall birch "glasses" and "food" on the plates.

The weather is turning rainy and we're headed down this weekend to NYC to spend time with our two grandchildren, Daniel and Ariella "Cookie" who are both attending Columbia University. We'll be staying with Scott's brother Brent and his wife Wilma in nearby South Orange, NJ.  Hopefully we'll get some more biking in when we return. Coming up - Thanksgiving with three of our children: Josh, James and Sean, along with their families - a total of 14.

This was our turn around spot at Mascoma Lake,
although not our photo as you can see from the 

Most of the trees are bare now. The Northern 
Rail Trail goes over lots of rivers and streams
with a variety of bridges. 

You can now get sense of the scale at Table Rock! That's Heather looking like a toddler.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Last of the Fall photos and visits

Debbie, myself and Judy

Here's a batch of photos from our Fall visits. After our trip down to Washington DC and Maryland, we met my first cousin Judy and her daughter Debbie for lunch at Calcutta's in Ludlow. Judy is the last of our generation on my father's side other than myself and my sister Paula. My father was the youngest of 6 children and he was almost 40 when he had me! So all of my first cousins, and there were tons of them, were much older. She is ten years older than I and baby sat me regularly. But Judy is doing really well and it was a fun visit. Debbie was our first Nanny when we had our son James!
Dick, Debbie, Heather, Ted and Karen in Woodstock, VT

Our next visitors came up for a long weekend. Marty from Concord, MA, Dick and Debbie from Plymouth, MA and Ted and Karen from Winchester, MA. We have all been friends for 50 or so years! Leslie & Dave were supposed to join us, but Leslie was sick and they had to postpone the trip. and Russ wasn't able to come. Our first full day we visited Woodstock, VT about an hour from us. Fall colors were still blazing as we walked around the town, stopping in to many of the shops to look around. The next day Marty joined us and we went for a beautiful hike at White Rocks nearby. The views from the ridge were amazing and a few of our group even continued on to the "ice caves", no ice this late in the season though. 
The view from the bridge over the White River in Woodstock, VT

Ted, Debbie, Karen, Dick and Scott pose on the 

Looking down at the bright yellow foliage.

Debbie, Heather, Marty, Scott and Ted pose at the viewpoint on the 
White Rocks trail. Dick took a pass on this trip.

And this time Heather takes the photo and Karen joins in.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Moving Into Fall


Here's the view of the back side of our former townhouse condominium at Marina Bay in Quincy. We bought it over 30 years ago as a rental property. Unlike our sale of the boat, this was a difficult experience. We had a great realtor who helped us manage 4 months of renovations while we were bringing the Scott Free up from Guatemala. Once that was done, the condo sold quickly.

Our big news recently is the sale of our townhouse condo on Boston Harbor in Marina Bay, Quincy.  Our realtor, Colleen Russo, was amazing. It was a huge relief to finally close on the property. So now we are down to The Hundred Acre Wood here in Vermont and our 24 foot trailer, Baby. We hitched her up to our truck, Junior, and enjoyed a 3 day mini shakedown trip to the southwest corner of Vermont. The Pine Hollow Campground was a lovely spot. We brought our new E-bikes and returned to the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, starting in Adams, MA. The next day, which was rainy, the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown was our refuge for the day.  The Allegro Bistro in Bennington and the Cozy Corner Restaurant in Williamstown were excellent choices for dinner and the Chef's Hat for our last breakfast was perfect. The chef was mostly on vacation as well!

Here's the view from our site at Pine Hollow Campground. Our first day we enjoyed some lovely weather!

This fall we've continued to enjoy theater and music. Shrewsbury had weekend concerts up at our Meeting House and the day long Shrewsbury Day with a parade, lunch and music. Heather got to march in the parade this year with the Pierce's Store group! A fantastic Memorial to Robert De Cormier at the Grace Church featured 6 different choruses. This coming weekend we'll be at the Brandon Music to see the Swing Noir, a Gypsy Jazz Band from the UK. 

It looked like every resident of Shrewbury was there for Shrewsbury Day. After the parade, there was a free lunch and live music. Luckily we had perfect weather!

We took two trips to visit friends and family. First, to Gloucester to see Gail, Colin and Leslie Smith. Carol and Bill Fonvielle also came over for lunch on the porch one day. Again, we lucked out on the weather and took lots of walks on the beaches between wonderful meals over looking the ocean. Then we drove down to Maryland to visit my sister Paula and spend the weekend with our son James, daughter-in-law Morgen and grandson Kolya. They came for a brunch at Paula's as well. On the way back to Washington James' family and ourselves enjoyed the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Then Scott and I took Kolya off for a visit to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. We spent a week with Paula and took her to several medical appointments - between some wonderful meals and conversation. This weekend we will be hosting the Silversteins, Martins, Bond-D'Arpas and Wolfs!

Scott, Leslie and Gail enjoy lots of oysters out on the porch. Colin and I aren't fans, but loved the stuffed clams. 

The foliage is glorious now. Just walking our driveway is a treat. The farmer's market is awash in colorful peppers, squashes and pumpkins. But it has turned cold with a high in the 50's and evening lows close to freezing. Yesterday Heather worked (volunteered) at Pierce's Store, opening it up in the morning at 7:30 AM (the safe is a bear to unlock, an old fashioned one with a dial) till Noon while Scott attended his Quaker meeting. Then the two of us manned the gate at the Art in the Park event in Rutland for a few hours. 

Here's a few of the peppers for sale and the Rutland Farmer's Market!

Heather has spent a lot of time planning our trip south and west starting December 20th. We wanted to get camping spots in the National Parks so needed to have the trip pretty much organized. But we failed to get spots right in the four big parks we will visit despite being ready 6 months in advance at the opening time with both computers. So we'll stay outside the parks but nearby.  Our itinerary takes us down the east coast to Florida with visits on the way to Walt & Honoree Cooper and Steve & Kate Kelley. We have a lot of friends and family to visit in Florida before heading west to Arizona. We won't be going as far as California this year.

Take a walk up our driveway with Scott up ahead. It's late foliage time here October 9th with the leaves gone from most of our trees. 

Now looking back towards Spring Lake Rd.

A little further up the driveway, still not in sight of the house.

Still further up, the house is around the bend.

Sean & Will at Beziers in France during their 3 
week vacation. They visited London, Paris, the south
of France, and Portugal. 

Heather with her new folding E-bike!

The view from the Smith's porch in Gloucester.

The living room of our former condo in Quincy.