Monday, May 25, 2015

The move goes on -- update from Providence

(my apologies to Sonny and Cher)

Well, this past Friday marked a turning point for me, a watershed of sorts. I moved from full-time salaried to part-time hourly. This allows me to work from Michigan and I’ll be managing the image library as well as fielding image requests for the university from there (or anywhere for that matter), at least for the next six months as they move to a full-blown digital asset management system. That’s the plan anyway.

Meanwhile, Susie is putting her baking skills on hold (mostly) and ramping up her packing expertise getting us ready for our return to Michigan midweek..

Since this move is being done piecemeal we have to sort out the things we’ll need to take Wednesday from those things we’ll pick up in June and finally from those things that the movers will eventually pack up. Of course, Susan is also doing all the packing as well so there’s that set of logistics: acquiring boxes, where to put things, etc. All accomplished while we continue our efforts to sell our condo while looking for a new place in Michigan.

In the midst of our (Susan’s) increasing efforts to pack up and move to Michigan, we took the opportunity to spend some quality time with family and friends, time well-spent over good food and wine. I had a going away party Thursday after work; a few colleagues and a few beers at a watering hole downtown along with some delicious nachos -- Susie even joined us.

Friday I had lunch with another colleague, a friend, someone who always had a kind word outmatched only by a lively smile. And funny in the bargain.

Saturday evening we were at Barnes Street on the east side to have dinner with Barbara, Andrea and Matt. Following a delicious pizza and salad, Susie provided orange hazelnut shortbreads and a scrumptious chocolate hazelnut financier.

At Barnes Street

chocolate hazelnut financier

Sunday morning Susie and I were second in line at Nick’s on Broadway for breakfast — Andrea soon showed up and joined us just before the doors opened.

Nick's for breakfast


hibiscus sorbet
Early in the afternoon we took a quick trip to Mount Auburn in Cambridge, Mass. Besides being one of Boston’s most lovely green spaces it also happens to be one of the finest cemeteries in the United States. There were lots of folks out strolling, looking, and connecting up with their past.

wild turkey mother and her brood

the Sphinx, dedicated to the Civil War dead

After an hour or so of strolling, we headed out to Douglas, MA for dinner at Dick and Dorothy’s. Carl B. was down from Bangor, and Frank and Cathy had driven in from Quincy, MA. We all sat outside enjoying sparkling wine and some special treats compliments of Cathy.

After moving inside we gathered around the table for warm conversation, tasty wine and lots of great food: potato salad, cole slaw, grilled chicken and green beans, ending with another of Susie’s creations: hazelnut cake on a blackberry sauce with homemade lime ice cream and toasted almonds, finished off with a crumble.





Our lives are always changing -- nothing profound in that of course. But when you decide to leave one home and move to another 1000 miles away, and actually begin that process of moving, that's when you realize just how much change is going on around you.

 This coming Wednesday we head to the Catskills to see the Archers. Thursday we push on to Ohio, spending a night somewhere east of Cleveland with a planned Friday afternoon arrival in GR.

While we continue our search for the next home, I hope to meet up with an old friend, Chuck P. on Saturday. We'll transfer our fitness club memberships, arrange for mail forwarding through the USPS, cancel Netflix and Verizon landline/internet service.

The next phase of our move will focus on a return to Providence sometime around June 10, when we’ll spend a couple of nights at the condo. Aside from my stopping in to work for a few hours we’ll load up more stuff and head back to Michigan.

We probably won’t return to Rhode Island until sometime in July, although right now I'm not sure why.

So much of our future now depends on what will happen to the condo: will it sell? Will we have to rent? Will Hillary stay with Bill? Will Ashley find true love with Vivian Leigh or will Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice move in together? So many questions, so little time.

Life is short.

Remembering D-Day

Some years ago, we have the great good fortune to visit the D-Day beaches, primarily the American sectors of Utah, Omaha and Pont-du-Hoc.

Along the way we stumbled onto several spaces of quiet poignancy: a British cemetery at Bayeux, a German cemetery at La Cambe, and a Canadian cemetery set amidst the beautiful countryside of Beny-sur-mer.

It was the policy of the British Commonwealth, I believe,  to allow families to inscribe brief epitaphs on the stones: moving, powerful feelings carved into stone that still resonate more than 70 years later. I've included a few of those at the end.
Omaha Beach, the German view
Omaha Beach
Utah Beach

Utah Beach

Utah Beach

American cemetery Colleville-St. Laurent, overlooking Omaha Beach

American cemetery Colleville-St. Laurent, overlooking Omaha Beach

American cemetery Colleville-St. Laurent, overlooking Omaha Beach

American cemetery Colleville-St. Laurent

British cemetery Bayeux

British cemetery Bayeux

British cemetery Bayeux

German cemetery La Cambe

Canadian cemetery Beny-sur-Mer

Canadian cemetery Beny-sur-Mer

S. C. Woodroffe
Always and always

R. L. Morton
A beautiful future planned
Only to end in a dream. Dear,
 My thoughts are ever of you
And what might have been

C. G. Steadman
Greater love
Hath no man than this
That a man lay down his life
For his friends

W. G. McAllister
Not forgotten, Glen Dear,
Nor ever shall you be,
 While life and memory last
We shall remember thee

H. J. Sharples
He gave his all
For the decent things
Of life.
Remembered by all

J. Klippenstein
Remembered in death
As in life
By his wife
And daughter Shirley

A. C. McQuarrie
Beautiful memories
Cherished forever
Of happy days spent together
God bless you, darling Allan

Friday, May 15, 2015

A night in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL), Ontario, is just about halfway between Providence, RI, and Grand Rapids, MI so we've made a point of stopping there twice in the past seven months. The first time was this past December when we had a less-than-stellar experience but were intrigued by the town itself and wondered what it was like in the spring or summer.

Apple Tree Historic B & B
So we stopped again for an overnight this past Monday. While there were a few tourists out and about NOTL was mostly quiet and made for a pleasant way to see this bit of the southern shore of Lake Ontario.

We arrived mid-afternoon and after checking into the the Apple Tree Historic B & B ("historic" since it was built circa 1820) went for a leisurely stroll about town.

The town is centered mainly along Queen Street which parallels the lake shore and is about three blocks or so up from the lake itself.

Anyway, some shops were still open although we opted to spend our time outside soaking up the warm sun as we strolled past Simcoe Park down to the lake.

strolling downtown

Simcoe Park and the statue of John Graves Simcoe

looking across Lake Ontario

looking up Queen Street toward the Prince of Wales Hotel

There is a George Bernard Shaw Festival held in NOTL, inspired, we were told, by a devotee of the playwright and abetted by the local town government. The statue of Shaw along Queen Street, who as far as we could tell had never been to NOTL, was erected by the folks who run the Oban Inn.

note the new grapevines flanking the stairs to the front door
There were a few restaurants open so we opted for the Treadwell, a recommendation of our hosts at the B & B.

We spent a lovely evening at the counter overlooking the open kitchen. There were few other customers so we had ample opportunity to interact with Michaela, our server, about Ontario wines and food in Canada. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

it was a quiet evening as we settled in with our Pimm's cocktails

The food was delicious, well prepared and nicely presented (the plating was done by a 16-year-old high school student intern no less).

We started off with a Pimm’s Cocktail and a tasting of three Ontario cheeses, which were, in a word, wonderful. The accompanying condiments were equally outstanding (red pepper jelly, a mustard seed concoction and honey with a portion of the hive).
l-r: Morning Mist, raw sheep’s milk Brie style; Pine River, cow’s milk, 7-year-old cheddar; Eweda, sheep’s milk Gouda-style
While I have no complaint about small portions generally, I did think the scallop/pork belly entree somewhat on the slim side: At 20 CDN for two small ocean scallops each resting on a nice piece of locally sourced pork belly it felt a bit high.

Overall, though, the meal was outstanding.

My wife's cold spring pea soup was very good and her house-made pan-seared gnocchi quite tasty. My chicken wrapped in bacon with fresh vegetables -- heirloom carrots, peeled asparagus stems and potatoes whipped with wild ramps with morel mushrooms were all incredible.

When in Canada we generally order Ontario wines, and the glass of Chenin Blanc we each had shows what the the Canadians are capable of doing with grapes. Oh, and we finished the meal off with a glass of local ice wine from Cave Head. I’d steer clear of the Stratus dessert wine: one-dimensional and just not very good in the bargain.

The one thing we both thought curious was they were a bit heavy-handed on the salt -- which may be a Canadian thing, perhaps? Our B & B innkeeper used a lot of salt in her breakfast as well.

They do have a luncheon menu and we had a chance to sample their pork loin roast sandwich. I'd definitely go back.
ocean scallops over pork belly

chilled spring pea soup


locally sourced chicken with heirloom carrots, radishes in a Morel mushroom jus


After dinner we strolled down Queen Street and took a circuitous way back to the B & B before turning in for the night.

We spent Tuesday morning taking our time before breakfast -- our host had even prepared a fire in the front parlor to take the chill off. The highlight of our breakfast was a "croissant cup" with a slice of prosciutto and an egg placed on top. Delicious!

But we couldn't put off the inevitable and before long we were back on the road heading east for Providence. Crossing the border took us about 20 minutes or so.

The weather was glorious and we made great time arriving back "home" (I think not) a little after 5pm after a stop at the grocery store for some essentials. I grilled chicken that evening and we caught our breath before the next round of trips.

We're in Providence for two weeks or so before we head back west once again. Our plan, such as it is, will be to stop in Prattsville, New York to see Don and Gloria and then meander our way to Ohio, staying somewhere on the southern shore of Lake Erie before the final push on to Grand Rapids.

Stay tuned!