October 31, 2013

A "splash" of Hollywood!

I've written about all of my backyard friends, including the great horned owl that keeps us up at nights, our cheeky cardinals, our lovely goldfinches and elusive hummingbirds, and even the bats that rise en masse out of our huge old pine tree and take to the skies every night at dusk.  So it may come as a bit of a surprise to know that I have a deep rooted terror of birds.  I've learned over time to admire them from a distance and I love listening to their cheerful songs, but if one comes too close?  You'll know where to find me...I'll be the one cowering under the nearest chair!  So on our recent trip to Cape Cod's Chatham Beach I watched a movie scene unfold right before my eyes that left me scampering through the sand back to the car as fast as I could scurry. I thought Halloween was the perfect time to share it!

It all started with my husband and I innocently standing on the beach
Funny, I never noticed before how much we look like Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren...
We were enjoying the parade of fishing boats entering the harbor
Note the boat's name---could it be more perfect?!
Hmmm...look at those boats way out there.  Is that mist over them?

And then the boats grew closer...

(My husband says I'm over-dramatizing but it's my story and I'm sticking with it)

At least I was nice enough to gather the children from the beach as I ran pell mell to the car:

After that horrifying experience (okay, maybe horrifying is a little too dramatic...) we drove through Chatham village and discovered this lovely church bedecked with pumpkins, pumpkins and more pumpkins. A truly welcome respite from birds!

What a charming sight as you arrive for a Sunday service!

And on this slightly less scary note, I'll leave you with this pumpkin poem by Carl Sandburg and my best wishes for a safe and fun-filled Halloween!

Theme in Yellow
I SPOT the hills
With yellow balls in autumn.
I light the prairie cornfields
Orange and tawny gold clusters
And I am called pumpkins.
On the last of October
When dusk is fallen
Children join hands
And circle round me
Singing ghost songs
And love to the harvest moon;
I am a jack-o'-lantern
With terrible teeth
And the children know
I am fooling.

October 30, 2013

By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea....

I woke up this morning with the strangest lyrics in my head, but I guess my brain was busy working out my post while I was sleeping!  Thank you, brain, I appreciate your help!  I am really showing my age with this question, but how many of you remember Sing Along With Mitch and following the red bouncing ball?  I can remember singing this song as a little girl in front of our black and white television console.

Joe and Jane were always together.
Said Joe to Jane "I love Summer weather.
So let's go to that beautiful sea,
Follow along,
Just say you're with me!"
Chatham Lighthouse and Chatham Beach, Cape Cod
October 2013

Hah!  There are even red bouncing balls in my picture!!

Of course this sign made us a little hesitant to venture into the water....

but I was brave enough to stick my feet in...a little

By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea,
You and I, you and I, oh! how happy we'll be

I love to be beside your side,
Beside the sea, beside the seaside,
By the beautiful sea.

Joe and Jane were always together.
Said Joe to Jane "I love Summer weather.
So let's go to that beautiful sea,
Follow along,
Just say you're with me!"
Any thing that Joe would suggest to her,
Jane would always think it was best for her.
So he'd get his Ford.
Holler "All aboard--
Gee I want to be."
By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea,
You and I, you and I, oh! how happy we'll be,
When each wave comes a-rolling in.
We will duck or swim,
And we'll float and fool around the water.
Over and under, and then up for air.
Pa is rich, Ma is rich, so now what do we care?
I love to be beside your side,
Beside the sea, beside the seaside,
By the beautiful sea.

Have a wonderful Wednesday!


October 29, 2013

"Going back from whence we came...."


Lucky me!  After my conference ended my husband flew to Rhode Island and joined me for a long weekend on Cape Cod.  It's a short drive (just over an hour) from Providence to the Cape, so this was our perfect opportunity to explore the Cape.  We didn't have time for Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket, but oh my, did we have fun visiting some of the quaint villages.  We stayed in Hyannis, and our first stop was for lunch at a clam shack and my first ever mashed potato crab cake with a sour cream remoulade.  Delicious!!  We ate outside and watched the action in the harbor...the sunlight rippling across the water was beautiful.

Afterwards we visited the JFK Memorial Park, a small but lovely area dedicated to the President who loved this section of Massachusetts so much.  I thought these remarks by JFK from a 1964 speech in tribute to Robert Frost were appropriate to share with these pictures of his memorial.

I look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world, not only for its strength but for its civilization as well.

I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty

...which will protect the beauty of our national environment

If more politicians knew poetry, and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a better place to in which to live.

"I really don't know why it is that all of us are
so committed to the sea, except I think it's because
in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and
the light changes, and ships change, it's because
we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting
biological fact that all of us have in our veins
the exact same percentage of salt in our blood
that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have
salt in our blood, our sweat, and in our tears.
We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back
to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it,
we are going back from whence we came."

--Pres. John F. Kennedy, Australian Ambassador's Dinner for
the America's Cup Crews, September 14, 1962, Newport, R.I.

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

October 28, 2013

The year's last, loveliest smile...

Such gorgeous weather this weekend!  Bright sunshine, a little cool in the shade, and perfect sweater weather in the full light of the sun.  I love autumn!  I do not, however, share the same affection for fall cleaning.  While I try to keep my house "picked up" most of the time, and deep clean when I'm expecting company, the two areas that regularly get away from me are my garage and my laundry room.

My laundry room is slightly creepy, tucked in my basement with only two flickering old fluorescent ceiling lights (and I hate, hate, hate fluorescent lighting) and dreary 1970's wallboard.  Do you remember that stuff..it's kind of like paneling but instead of faux wood it is stamped with icky (usually gold) designs?  And even though it is a fairly small space, besides my washer and dryer there is a utility sink and a water softener, two hanging racks with my daughter's ballet costumes and prom dresses, and two folding chairs stacked high with seasonal pillows and extra comforters.  Did I mention the old, stained gray concrete floor? It's a hot mess.  I would post a picture, but somethings are better left unseen. I saw this picture over the weekend and thought how cute it would be to try to fix up my laundry room to look like this instead.  I'll keep you posted on when/if that project ever takes off!  The appeal of this picture is it doesn't try too hard--you can tell it's still just a basement area but it looks sooo much better than mine! I'll keep you posted as to when/if that particular project ever takes off!

Basement Laundry Makeover
photo courtesy of Better Homes and Garden

And then there's the garage.  I wish I could say my garage looked like this:

or this:

but alas, my garage is something more along the lines of the Black Hole of Calcutta.  Things are temporarily placed in the garage and then never seen again.  I once read that the acronym STUFF stands for "Something That Undermines Family Fun."  If that is so, then no wonder my garage is no FUN at all!  Stuff, stuff and more stuff.  So I tackled what I could manage over the course of two days and reduced the stuff by over 14 contractor sized heavy duty plastic bags.  It doesn't mean the garage is organized like those in the pictures, and it doesn't mean it's done, but it's definitely better and that makes me happy. I love organized spaces. 

But of course there needs to be more to a weekend than cleaning!  My husband and I saw a Saturday matinee of Captain Phillips with Tom Hanks.  What can I say about a movie that had us both sobbing at the same moment??  The acting is amazing.  I was just glad I knew the end before I saw the movie, because I was on the edge of my chair anyway and if I hadn't known the ending I might have passed out from sheer anxiety!  I also tried a couple of new recipes, re-read an old Dick Francis book while stretched out on the sofa with my puppy in my lap (my husband says both of us were snoring, but I'm sure it was just Willow...),
and  to top off Sunday night I celebrated fall in one of the best ways possible...homemade apple dumplings. I use the recipe passed down from my grandmother to my mother, and I feel proud (and a little homesick) every time I serve them. They are topped with a homemade buttery caramel sauce, and even if I do say so myself, they're pretty tasty!

I thought you might enjoy a few views of the Atlantic Ocean, as seen from the lovely Cliff Walk in Newport, RI.  They make me want to pack my bag and head back East...such beautiful scenery! This is the section of the 3.5 mile Cliff Walk that my work colleague and I completed, starting at the Memorial Drive entrance off of Easton Beach and ending at the Breakers (mansion at top left of the picture).  This walk was designated at a National Recreation Trail in 1975--the first in New England. It is world famous as a public access walk that combines the natural beauty of Newport's shoreline with the stunning architectural history of Newport's gilded age.

Of course the walk took a little bit longer since I kept stopping to try to capture the "perfect" picture that showed both the beautiful foliage and the sea so far below us, but fortunately my friend was incredibly patient...

Besides the foliage the trail itself offered some interesting shots, including the famous 40 Steps to the Sea, a dramatic stone staircase that drops about two-thirds of the way down the side of the cliff to a balcony over the sea.  During Newport's Golden Age, these steps served as a gathering place for the servants and workers from the mansions that line the Cliff Walk.  Here they would hold weekend dances and play the Irish songs and music that reminded them of home. 

I love this picture, but I won't spoil the effect by telling you what the "cross" really was---something disappointingly prosaic!   Sometimes photography is all about the illusion, right?

And in celebration of the lovely autumn foliage, here is a nice poem to start our week off on a happy note.  Richard Gilder (1844-1909) writes of the cheerful goldenrod that I saw on my walk.

An Autumn Meditation


Grows a weed
More richly here beside our mellow seas
That is the Autumn's harbinger and pride.
When fades the cardinal-flower, whose heart-red bloom
Glows like a living coal upon the green
Of the midsummer meadows, then how bright,
How deepening bright like mounting flame doth burn
The golden rod upon a thousand hills!
This is the Autumn's flower, and to my soul
A token fresh of beauty and of life,
And life's supreme delight.

Happy Monday!

October 25, 2013

Historic and hip...

What's in your bag? (via: @ohkalli)

I've always liked this quote by Solzhenitsyn, and today's blog seemed a good place to try it out. This morning I'm reaching into my own travel bag of memories and sharing a few more glimpses of Providence, Rhode Island with you. The conference I was attending was really good and in addition to great memories and new acquaintances I also brought back a real travel bag stuffed with good ideas on donor stewardship I hope to implement in my department over the next few months.  
One of the city brochures in my hotel room described Providence as "historic and hip, sophisticated and small town, packing the best of New England into one convenient and colorful package."  I think the writer was spot on.


...a colorful package

I'm not sure which picture of the "Superman" building I like more, the business tone of stark daylight or the softened colors of the setting sun. It's real name is the Industrial Trust Tower, but has long been known more affectionately as the "Superman" building — named for its resemblance to the building the Man of Steel leaped "in a single bound" in the original 1950's TV series.  This iconic art deco-style skyscraper, the tallest in the state, lost its last tenant when Bank of America's lease expired in April.  Discussions are underway on how to best re-purpose this beautiful building, either with new office space or luxury condos.  

...the best of New England
Providence is located at the head of Narragansett Bay, with the Providence River running into the bay through the center of the city, formed by the confluence of the Moshassuck River and Woonasquatucket Rivers. I never did figure out quite how to pronounce the rivers, although back home I've mastered the pronunciation of Oconomowoc and Manitowoc like a native Cheesehead. Waterplace Park amphitheater and river walks line the river's banks through downtown, and offer great photo ops for admiring visitors.

If you venture just a few miles outside of Providence, a world of opulence and grandiosity awaits you in the famed Newport mansions!  Tomorrow we'll explore the famous Cliff Walk and beaches in Newport--I hope you can join me for a breath of fresh sea air!