Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving week in Providence

A cold rain has settled over Providence this last day of November. Fortunately, however, Thanksgiving week was blessedly free of any serious weather problems so travelers skirting up and down I-95 had plenty of opportunity to sit in long lines but at least free of bad weather.

As for us, well by now you probably know that we spent a quiet but very pleasant Thanksgiving day with Susie's family in nearby Douglas, MA.

It was a quiet, but oddly pleasant Thanksgiving. We drove to Dick and Dorothy's house and were soon followed by Susan's Uncle Frank, his wife Cathy and their daughter Mieke as well as Susan's younger sister Mary and her friend Larry. We spent a warm afternoon chatting and eating Dorothy's incredible holiday meal. Truly a day to give thanks!

And speaking of thanks we are both still, as Carroll O'Connor says in Return to Me, "blessed with work." It was a short week for me -- only a half day on Wednesday and then the university was closed up for the rest of the week. Susie, of course, still had to bake up and plan out desserts through the weekend though.

Susie and I closed out the week with a dinner Saturday night at Chez Pascal on the east side of Providence. Billed as French bistro style the food was incredible. You can find out more online at my Providence food blog.

We are so thankful to be able to have a warm home, to be living an adventure of a lifetime and, quite simply, to be together, Susie and I.

This coming week, the first week in December, we hope to hear about the DNA test results and whether I will get my dad back. Of course, he has never left me, that's true. His spirit will always be with me.

Sound sappy. Maybe so but consider this:

In 1956 a hardworking cookie salesman spends two years and nearly 30 grand looking for his youngest son who has been abducted by his own mother after an ugly divorce and spirited off to the West Coast. The father finally tracks them down, first in Los Angeles and then across the wastes of the Great Plains, finds his son in Canby, Minnesota.

It was in 1958, just a few days before my father married for the third and final time to a woman who was for all intents and purposes my "real" mother, and just three weeks before my 10th birthday that I came to live with my dad. Forever.

Every Thanksgiving I am incredibly thankful for the father that I have -- not had but have now and always. In my heart.

Thanks pop!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving in Douglas - the animated version

Thanksgiving in Douglas - the slideshow

Just a few images from our Thanksgiving dinner at Dick and Dorothy's home in Douglas, MA. Unfortunately Joyce and Carl couldn't make it down from the Maine woods -- both were under the weather and in no position for a hike down the lovely and stress-free I-95. We did meet Mary's friend Larry and got to see Mieke and one of her show-stopping performances waxing about the highs and lows of human nature, at least as seen form the vantage point of someone who manages a hair salon in NYC.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Loie Fuller and Battleship Cove

It's been another quietly cold week here in Providence. Plenty of sunshine tempered by very chilly, in fact downright cold temperatures to challenge one's sense of exactly what the weather is like before dressing and going out.

As we approach the holiday season -- certainly to be marked by continued freefall in the markets as fewer and fewer people spend their diminishing cash reserves on goods and services -- as we approach the holiday it will be a short week for me. JWU has the back end of the week off; on the other hand Susie will be cranking out desserts at Gracie's of course.

Susie has Turkey Day off and we plan to spend it with Dick and Dorothy and various other members of the VandenBerg/Van Halsema clans in Massachusetts -- we do hope to get to the staff dinner at Gracie's later that day, all of the folks who for one reason or another will not be with their families this holiday. I hope to post lots of photos later in the week so stay tuned!

Anyway, after work last Friday Susie and I walked across the street to Loie Fuller, one of the city's hottest restaurants and in this very chilly weather that was the place to be. We picked a spot at the bar and had a glass of wine and an app (delicious frites) and just chatted and enjoyed being alive and being together. Afterwards we walked back home and I fixed dinner. It was really as simple as that.

After Susie headed into Gracie's on Saturday I spent the first half of the day running a variety of shopping errands. It's a nuisance not having a grocery store anywhere near us so we have to plan our week accordingly now.

Sunday was a relaxing day for the pastry queen, we had a leisurely morning followed by a short road trip to Fall River, just across the Massachuseetts state line. We were just there last weekend to see Iris Dement at the Narrows theater and returned this Sunday not to visit Lizzie Borden's house -- she of the "40 whacks"* children's song fame -- which is in any case now a B & B I'm told, no we came to Fall River this very beautiful and very cold Sunday afternoon to cruise through "Battleship Cove."

The claim here is that this is the largest collection of historic naval ships in any one location in the world. While that may seem to be pushing one's credulity, still it might just be true for all I know. It certainly is an impressive array of ships I'll say that: the huge WWII battleship, USS Massachusetts, the destroyer USS Joseph P. Kennedy, a submarine USS Lionfish, a Soviet-built guided missile frigate the Hiddensee, once operated by the East German navy, and an indoor exhibition of PT boats:

Well the worth price of admission. Although I recommend waiting for warmer weather.

Have a great holiday and take care of yourselves -- keep calm, stay warm and, to paraphrase my father's final words to me:

"Have a happy life."

And stay in touch.

*"Lizzie Borden gave her mother 40 whacks/when she saw what she had done/she gave her father 41"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

November 22 in Dallas

I was in Latin class when the announcement came over the PA system.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Providence in November and wine flights at Gracie's

It's been quite cold here in Providence lately -- crisp and clean air has seeped into the city though and it's a pleasant break from the odd bit of warm and humid weather that laid over us not too many days back. (photo: Susie in the kitchen of Pascal Pinaud's patisserie on rue Monge in Paris.)

Although there's a noticeable slowdown in restaurant activity during the middle of the work week, Gracie's still manages to draw a few interested parties in search of expanding their knowledge of wine.

Last Wednesday night Susie and I dropped by Gracie's -- well, OK she was just turning around and going back -- and spent a pleasant hour or so chatting with Anter, the resident wine guru, about a couple of wines he's suggesting for Thanksgiving: a chardonnay from the Cambria folks and a Viognier from France thank you very much.

The Viognier was crisp and very nice -- and the chef's tasting that came with the wines were absolutely scrumptious: the seared tuna perfect, the crab salad smooth and the fruit crisp and packed with flavor.

But it was when the conversation shifted to digestivi and aperitivi that things really got interesting.

Anter gave us samples of chilled Lillet rouge straight up with a twist of orange and this was followed by chilled Lillet blanc with a twist of lime. Either one would be a wonderful way to kick off a meal.

In fact, it struck me that when you're at a place like Gracie's, where you want to relax and savor your evening consider the following:
  • First, order an aperitif and be sure to ask for something you've never had before. Then close your eyes and just try and focus on the drink and nothing else.
  • Follow this with a starter course, matched with something white and crisp (probably).
  • Then with your entree (or, oddly enough, a plat in France) have a glass of red or white, either by preference or maybe a suggestion from the server with your particular choice of food.
  • With the final course, dessert of course, have a glass of Muscat Beaumes de Venise or ask for a recommendation.
  • Finish off the evening with a glass of Averna.
Anyway, while we savored the last of our wines, a young couple, easily half our age, came and sat at the other end of the bar and. They came for the wine flights, they said. Anter smoothly shifted himself down their way and began by letting them sample some Lillet rouge and Lillet white and he was soon into his element again -- talking about the wonderful ways in which wine and their various derivatives can make a meal a truly wonderful experience.

Frankly the wine flights has been the high point of our week so far -- we both go about our work, but all the while quietly plotting the next trip abroad.

I hope to have more to tell you soon. In the meantime we wish Peggy well on her upcoming trip to Paris next month and hope that Diane will get around to starting her blog on her adventures in Paris, particularly those to come. It really doesn't matter if you know these people or not -- what is important is that we are all travelers, we are all going someplace else. It's just that some of us take more time to do it that's all.

So for now start planning your own adventure, and be sure to stay warm, keep cool and just pretend you have no retirement money at all.

Ciao for now,


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

St. Etienne du Mont

Where Racine and Pascal are buried -- more or less.

The Word from Providence: Dad's DNA

OK, so it should the 'words" from Providence since we're well into the plural already.

and speaking of Providence, today, 15 November, is a celebration of sorts for Susie and I -- one year ago today we closed on our condo here in the former Prata family funeral home. I've neither seen nor heard any ghosts but the past is everywhere we look. But so is the future.

The good news is that Indian summer keeps hanging on, temps very mild with only infrequent hints of colder weather to come. Most of the leaves are down now as we enjoy the humid rain this mid-fall weekend. But that's not stopping us: tonight we drive to see Iris Dement at the Narrows theater in Fall River. I'll have more about that tomorrow.

Work is great -- Susie continues to keep everyone guessing as to what the next desserts will be at Gracie's and I find myself enjoying sitting in front of the computer (even if it is a Windows hog) and working the web. And I continue to learn new things every day -- and I find the other members of the web team incredibly bright and always eager to help me find my way through the intricacies of the internet. Oh, and no I don't think any of them have this blog address either.

It's funny how things have turned out -- so very good for the two of us even in these uncertain and uncomfortable times.

And of course, Barack Obama is President of the United States. Say, did you hear an enormous sigh of relief?

The best news is that the DNA test is done, or rather my part of it got shipped off via DHL to the lab yesterday. So now we wait -- what else is new, right? Frankly I don't care if it does vindicate the medical school's position that they had his body all along, we get our dad back. and in any case, it certainly doesn't validate their lack of concern, interest or compassion. But the important thing is we have a clearer sense of an "end in sight," we can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

For the moment all is well. Everyone is in good health and spirits, and Providence is still the place to come for food and Paris and Siena are still the places to go to get your karma centered, your head straight, your mind reworked and your spirit recharged.

Oh, and in case you think you know the complete story of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger think again:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Siena in motion, again

Revisiting a few older images that remain perennial favorites of mine, but with a twist:

Friday, November 07, 2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Moving on Halloween

Well no, Susie and I aren't moving -- again -- but on Halloween the Web Team at Johnson & Wales moved from the temporary spaces at Cookson Place to new offices at Davol Square, overlooking the river and beyond it the bay.

Here are just a few images of the two Scotts, Peggy, Brad, Andrea and Mark that Friday morning while we were waiting the arrival of our computers. Oh, and the animation was done through Animoto -- one cool program and sooooo easy to use.

We just voted

Susie and I just walked back from our polling place, 301 Cranston Street, in the Armory district, across from the enormous Rhode Island State Armory (hence the name given to the neighborhood).

It feels great to be on the cusp of major change -- but then for us that's been the trend in our lives over the past three years.

And perhaps yours, too?

Election Day 2008

From what little news we glean off the Internet -- we don't have cable or a dish or TV in the strict sense of the term -- today, November 4, Tuesday, Election Day in the USA, is a historic occasion. Americans are either going to vote for continued fear, depression, recession, repression or they're going to vote for change, clear and simple.

If as a nation we vote for change -- and frankly I believe we will -- then Americans must be, must be ready to make changes that will be exceedingly painful and undoubtedly difficult: changes to our way of life, our way of living, our way of acting. If nothing else the recent and ongoing chaos in the global economy must show Americans that we act and react in harmony or disharmony with the rest of the world. What happens here and, equally important, what happens there, are tied together, inexorably and irrevocably.

If we vote for anything less then we will become a second-rate power with a corner on the market of self-absorption and self-destruction.

What any of this has to do with Siena, Florence, Paris or Providence escapes me at the moment. (photo: taken along the East Bay Bike Path in Providence, on Sunday, November 2.)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Rue Mouffetard

To Vermont and farewell to Lorilee Foley

Saturday was an incredibly beautiful day in New England -- a gorgeous day that seemed specially arranged to say farewell to Lorilee Foley.

We got up before the day began, while it was still dark, chilly but clear. We showered, dressed and hit the road by a quarter to six and slipped through light traffic the whole way to Rutland, VT.

We arrived an hour or so before the memorial service at Trinity Episcopal and headed straightaway for the Bagel Cafe on Woodstock. One of the regular fixtures for a quick sandwich in Rutland for many years -- at least since we moved there in 1994 - we had a late bagel breakfast and hot brown water (known euphemistically as "coffee") before heading to the church.

It was standing room only that morning at Trinity -- more than 300 people turned out to say adieu to Lorilee. It was incredible to hear the family and friends tell stories of a young girl who became a woman and who never lost sight of herself or her priorities. Dan Foley gave a poignant and touching tribute to his wife. We were in awe not only of his poise in talking in such loving terms about Lorilee and their relationship together but that he did it with such eloquence as well.

After the service many of the guests gathered with the family at nearby South Station restaurant for a reception and we caught up with a few friends to chat about good times past and to come.

Susie and I left the restaurant sometime in the middle of the afternoon, stopping a the hospital ER so Susie could pop in and hi -- Janet was there as was Cathy and Janice and DJ and Harry, quite a few of the "old gang."

After catching up with the folks in the ER we walked back to the car and pointed the Mini back down toward Route 103 and I-91 and home.

After a long drive to and from south central Vermont we were in no mood to cook at home when we got back to Providence. So we walked across the street to Loie Fuller for dinner. And naturally we ran into Bill & Becky S. from Whitinsville. Why is that natural? It just is.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Faces at Gracie's

Actually I wanted to call this "Faces at Grace's" but for obvious reasons I didn't and neither should you. Anyway, these images were taken this past summer during a going away party for Brendan, the former wine guru at Gracie's in Providence. Brendan moved on to Napa Valley and the greater wine world.

Dad, DNA and me

Well the BIG NEWS here is that we heard from Rush Medical Center last week -- or rather our lawyer heard from them (since they do not speak directly to us apparently).

We were told that the lab performing the DNA test at last extracted sufficient DNA from the body Rush claims is Dad's. Now we wait for the next step -- a call from the lab to arrange for them to send a saliva swab kit to me. I provide the sample, send it back and in about two weeks we'll know whether we will get our father back or not.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

JWU Web Team changes it's geographic orientation

The web team moved from Cookson to Davol Square on Halloween, 2008. While we waited for the computers to arrive we savored the moment of change by just being together and talking about this n' that but mostly bout nothing at all. Just how funny the world is and how good it is to be alive.