Believe it or not, I'm in the middle of a blog post which I THINK I will actually publish. (Me, blog?) I've tried to finish the thing for the last two nights, but as with the previous two nights, I am giving into exhaustion, and the post will have to wait. Quick Update: I am (we are, that is) traveling/moving across the country, from Rhode Island to California this week. MB went ahead of me to South Dakota, while I lingered in Illinois and Minnesota. Onward to Wyoming tomorrow, however, and Thanksgiving at my mother's house.
In the meantime, enjoy this photo of my kitten enjoying a snooze on my lap in the truck.
After spending a couple of hours cleaning up the kitchen and all the dishes that remained after yesterday's cook-a-thon, I have sat down to finish my coffee and eat my lunch. Which leftovers did I re-heat for my mid-day sustenance? The healthy frittata that I made yesterday in an effort to use up the kale that had been sitting in the refrigerator, or the carb-tastic Early Thanksgiving leftovers from last night's Early Thanksgiving at L&F's house? Yeah, it wasn't even a contest, though I do have hot sauce on stand-by for when we run out of Thanksgiving food and it's time to return to the frittata. (One of the culprits involved in this situation is The Splendid Table's week-early Thanksgiving show. I've had NPR on all morning.) Maybe I'll make up for it by going on a long run this afternoon.
Most of the perishable food we have is cooked, so we can spend the next few days re-heating rather than creating meals anew. We'll need the extra time for cleaning and packing our belongings, and participating in "going-away" type activities. The Navy is moving the majority of our stuff to the West Coast, but we must move some of the items that moving companies won't take - examples include machinery type stuff that involve liquids, liquid cleaning products - and we need to pack for the week we'll spend transporting ourselves across the country. We're in the process of applying for a house to rent in San Diego, but if we don't have anything set up before we leave on Thursday, we'll need to ensure that we have the things we might need for living in a hotel for a month when we get into town.
There is a satisfaction in making small preparations for moving. Cooking up perishable food, making small grocery trips. I feel it when I empty out bottles of cleaners, lotions, soap, or makeup. "One less thing to pack." And there is a satisfaction in leaving a place that was only meant to be temporary, though the scope of my emotions dedicated to "leaving Newport" are more complicated than just that. Nothing can ever just be easy and clear. Nothing worth striving and living for, I mean. Although leaving Virginia was easy, an inordinate price to pay considering how unhappy I was with living there, I knew on the drive north that I was traveling into a happier season that would also be darker and more emotionally tangled, more exciting, vibrant, and more interesting. Complicated. Things in Virginia were clear, indeed. I never watched TV like I watched TV in Virginia. Whereas I can't tell you anything about what's good on TV this season.
So I keep cleaning and thinking about what's next on the to-do list, sniffling over leaving but wanting to leave, sniffling over all the things that happened here, because they were happy or because they were sad, or because they are sad because they were happy. Sniffling because now we're finally going back to California and for the first time since I moved away from Minnesota, I really, really don't have any excuse for figuring out my life and what I should do for a career, but everything that I have to do about that is overwhelming and scary. Sniffling because it's grey outside, and now I see that it's started to rain. The long run isn't looking so likely after all. (Might as well drink a glass of wine.)
The other day it actually snowed! I sat at the table in front of my computer, as I always do, and looked out the glass patio doors, where I looked out all summer onto lush green bushes, trees, and grass, with the Newport Bridge in the distance (and nightly pink sunsets), and saw fat, wet flakes of snow falling onto the now nearly-naked bush outside. I thought "I guess my beach days are truly over." (Despite the fact that the weather stopped being warm enough for the beach two months ago.) The snow didn't accumulate. Everyone says that we lived in Newport during the best part of the year - from May to November - but I wouldn't have minded a snowy New England winter. Snowy ocean shores - I've never seen that. Naturally in San Diego, I will miss the winter and feel blissful about the warmth and sunshine despite myself.
As noted previously, MB and I had the pleasure of hosting my mother and two of my aunts (her sisters) for the first week of October. At the end of September, I was looking forward to their visit, not just because I was happy to see my family, but because I knew it would distract me from wanting time to fast-forward until we leave Rhode Island, for at least eleven days. (Comprising the rush of cleaning before the visit, the visit, and the vegging that would be required post-visit.) And indeed, time has gone by so quickly that I am just now publishing this in November!
(Above, Aunt Joyce, Amanda and Mom pose for a photo in front of Amanda's house. That is my neighbor's "Mizzou" flag.)
Since this is a photo-heavy post, I will limit my words to describing what's happening in the photos. (Also, holy crap it is already November and I need to publish this post like three weeks ago!)
On Thursday, 3 October, the ladies and I traversed the hot tourist spots of America's Cup Avenue and Thames Street. Mom and I shared fish and chips at The Wharf Pub, and I drank the scrumptious Pumpkin Cider above (Woodchuck Private Reserve) with the cinnamon and sugar rim. (Yum! I returned twice since, for more pumpkin cider. I'm not a huge fan of the pumpkin taste in general; it's subtle in this cider. Crisp and refreshing and yummy. Yeah, stuff is good.)
Also, post cards, semi-precious stones and sea shells: these are a few of my mother's favorite things. When I admired the kyanite stones above, at a jewelry store on Bowen's Wharf, she insisted on buying me one of the pendants. After she added "then I just won't get you a Christmas present this year," I relented. Well, okay then, Mama. Buy me a pretty stone pendant! If you insist.
Auntie and Amanda sit next to The Wave (1983 sculpture by Kay Worden) at the intersection of America's Cup Avenue, Memorial Blvd and Thames St.
On Friday, 4 October, I dropped my ladies off at The Breakers, so they could explore the premier mansion on the Newport Historical Society's roster of grotesquely, filthy rich, Gilded Age "summer houses." Then I picked them up for lunch. We hit the Corner Cafe, where I ate the wonderful warm chicken and mushroom wrap featured above. (Amanda Recommends! So far, the Corner Cafe remains one of my favorite places for food in Newport.) After lunch, I dropped the ladies off at another NHS mansion: Rosecliff, which they loved more than The Breakers.
And later in the day, after I picked them up at Rosecliff, we went on a driving tour of the south coastline of Aquidneck Island: Easton's Beach (First Beach), Sachuest Beach (Second Beach), and Third Beach. They admired Episcopal boarding school featured in the photo above, St. George's School.
On the morning of Saturday, 5 October, my mother and Aunt Janet enjoyed the dubious pleasure, along with MB, of spectating at a 5K on the Naval Base. (This would be the race where I placed 1st out of women 30-39.) Above left, I pose with Aunt Janet. Above right, I pose like a dork while wearing my "1st!" ribbon, for my mom.
Blast from the Past! And here is Aunt Janet with my brother and I in South Dakota, in 1985. (Aw!) Justin is wearing a He-Man t-shirt, and I am sporting a Cabbage Patch tank top with matching shorts and holding the Cabbage Patch doll (along with two dolls from the batch my Aunt Arlene had made for all the kids that summer) that I'd received as a Kindergarten Graduation present. Her name was "Nadine."
After the race, MB drove us around the base, so Mom and Janet could see what there is to see. (Spoiler: there isn't much to see.) This is an aircraft carrier (USS Saratoga, CV-60) docked at the base, which I believe is currently being taken dismantled for scrap metal. Can't make a museum out of all 'em.
Buoys resting out of water.
Later in the evening, I drove all the ladies out to Green Animals Topiary Garden, where they toured while I sat in the car reading Twitter, checking Facebook, and taking selfies. (I wasn't in a touring state of mind.) Aunt Janet asked me to pose for a photo in front of a pretty tree. Since we were all the way out in Portsmouth, after Green Animals, we drove on to Bristol, and took a driving tour along the scenic harbor and through the historic, pretty little downtown area. We stopped for Italian seafood at Leo's Ristorante.
Sunday, 6 October was a busy day that started with mass at St. Mary's Church, a 165-year old Gothic Revival church located a couple of blocks off of Thames Street. This is where Jacqueline Bouvier got married, in 1953. (And the farm where she spent most of her youth is located next door to my neighborhood of Fort Adams. Trivia!)
After church, and a quick stop at the Middletown Post Office, we left for Boston! A little over an hour after that, instead of taking the correct exit for exploring the historic city center, I accidentally landed us in Chelsea, at which point mother and the aunts insisted I stop at Dunkin' Donuts because they were hungry and because I needed to quit losing my temper at the Apple Maps app and the deceptive Boston signage. (It worked, and hot coffee on a rainy day makes everything better.)
From two images above: a piano in Bostom Common, part of "Play Me, I'm Yours," an art installation consisting of several pianos placed around the city from Oct 1-14. We saw pianos everywhere on this day.
As I alluded to earlier, this Sunday was a soggy day in Boston. No matter, though! The determination of the Aunties, Mom and I to conquer the Boston Freedom Trail did not flag! (At least not until around 5 PM, when the rain started started pounding and the USS Constitution was still so, so far away.) In the photo above, one of the first stops on the Freedom Trail, is the Park Street Church, which was built in 1810 in the style of English Architect Sir Christopher Wren and which saw the debut of (Fun Fact Alert!) "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," (which takes its tune from "God Save The Queen," and thus the ripping off of the British continueth!) in 1831. Notice the fellow in Colonial garb? Boston is the kind of town where you can just walk around like that on not-Halloween, and people will think you're a tour guide.
So you know, even if you're not a tour guide, you just love donning Colonial garb...move to Boston.
Or if you enjoy walking around dressed as a giant...ram (?), next to a guy with a mohawk, Boston is the place for you!
This is the Granary Burying Ground, which was established in 1660 (New England is neat because some things here are "Europe-old"), and which is the resting place of Paul Revere, five victims of the Boston Massacre, and other notable Colonial Bostonians.
In the courtyard of the Old City Hall (site of the statue of Benjamin Franklin, the first statue of a person in Boston, and current site of the historic Ruth's Chris Steak House!) there is a statue of the Democratic Donkey (circa 1862) and a plaque on the ground facing the donkey inviting people to "stand in opposition."
So I invited my Republican mother to stand in opposition, since that's what she does all the time anyway. #liberaldaugherofconservatives
This is the Old State House, the oldest surviving public building in Boston. Built in 1713. The Boston Massacre happened in front of this building (as is depicted in Paul Revere's famous engraving of the incident) in 1770.
Whenever I go to these super old places where famous historical events took place, I try to imagine what they looked like back then. Sometimes this task proves to be quite challenging. I bet there were less sky-scrapers in 1770.
I like historic structures that are still being utilized for their original purpose. Faneuil Hall (built in 1742) was a big hit with the whole family, in fact, as it offered books, magnets, spoons, and postcards as far as the eye can see!
Plus there was Baby Juggling out back! Baby Juggling!
After a stop at the Green Dragon Tavern, where we ate soup and sandwiches, Amanda drank two pints and auntie snapped a photo with a man sitting at the bar dressed in Colonial garb, we walked on to Paul Revere's house. The house is featured in the photo above, and like whoa: Paul Revere's house is still around.
Paul Revere's house is located in Boston's North End, its old residential neighborhood, and location of Boston's Little Italy. Looks Little Italyish, huh?
"It's like someone wrote a plot summary for my biography."
This is a close-up of the dog tag Memorial Garden in the courtyard of the Old North Church. Each dog tag represents the life of a soldier lost in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
After exploring the North End and the gift shop of the Old North Church, the rain started coming down harder. We half-heartedly attempted to walk toward the USS Constitution, but it was across the river and we were tired and it was raining, so we turned back and started making our way to the car. It had been a long, good, wet day.
On the afternoon of Tuesday, 8 October, I dropped Joyce off at the Newport Art Museum and I dropped off Mom and Janet did the Newport Cliff Walk. Meanwhile, I went to the grocery store, and then accidentally bought a skirt at a cute clothing shop off of America's Cup, before meeting Mom and Janet at the end of the Cliff Walk. They seemed to have enjoyed it.
We located Joyce at a nearby coffee shop, and then I headed to Long Wharf so the ladies could take the water taxi across Newport Harbor to Fort Adams.
In the evening, after running club with Liz and Linky, Mom and I hung out on the couch and argued about politics. This is what you get for making me watch hours of Fox News, Mom.
On Wednesday, 9 October, we drove out to Cape Cod! Since the government shutdown happened right before (and during) my family's trip, we didn't get to explore the Cape Cod National Seashore. And this was only a day trip, so I chose two towns we could visit in order to get the a Cape Cod experience: Sandwich, MA, the oldest town in Cape Cod, and Provincetown, MA, the town positioned at the furthermost tip of the Cape.
In Sandwich, MA. I think this is a Dogwood tree (stationed in front of the public library, where we all took advantage of the restroom facilities). The church in the background is the First Parish Church, a Unitarian church built in 1833. The building was sold in 1965 and is now a private residence. As in, someone lives there. In a church. (I want to live in an old church! Find me one.)
After we ate sandwiches in Sandwich (oh yes, much was made of this, don't think we have some kind of non-punning/non-dorky standard of humor to uphold here), at Russell's Corner, we drove over to the boardwalk that leads out to the beach.
I loved the names on the memorial boards, especially the messages on some of them. Everyone who donated money for a board on the boardwalk (which was rebuilt after a 1991 hurricane) thought about someone that they love when they chose the name/s and/or word/s. It made me happy to walk on the boardwalk, read the names and messages, and think about that.
On the left, sandwiches in Sandwich! Mom had the meatball sub (homemade meatballs made that morning by the husband of the proprietor, we were told), and I had the buffalo chicken ciabatta (and it was wonderful). On the right, sea shells at a sea shell shop down by the Provincetown seashore. Mom went crazy in the seashell shop. I had to admit they sold some very pretty shells.
This is the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown, which commemorates the landing of Pilgrims and the signing of the Mayflower Compact. It was completed in 1910, the year of my maternal grandmother's birth, in the style of a Tuscan campanile. Because Pilgrims + Tuscan architecture = obviously.
This is the view of pretty Provincetown from the top of the Pilgrim Monument. My ladies didn't want to make the climb, so I visited on my own. Climbing up towers, monuments, spires and domes is 50% of what I do as a tourist.
Here's another view of Provincetown from above.
There are 116 steps with ramps leading to the top of the 252 ft Pilgrim Monument, comprising a "leisurely 10-minute climb." Unless you're a crazy person who just chugged a cup of coffee and thinks it would be "fun" to time yourself running up the tower in high-heeled Oxfords, in which case it takes 3 minutes and 27 seconds.
Gargoyles watch over the tip of the Cape from the Pilgrim Monument!
After the Monument tour, I found my ladies again in the park adjacent to the Town Hall, and we spent some time walking around Commercial Street, window-shopping the cute shops. We stopped at the Provincetown Portuguese Bakery for coffee and malassadas (sweet, fried dough). I ate a linguiça-stuffed croissant, and life was beautiful.
On our way back to Rhode Island, I stopped in Wellfleet, MA, to take some photos of our group all together, before it was time for the sun to go down. This photo of my aunts and mother turned out lovely! They look like nice people, don't they? (They are very nice people.)
And here's Marilyn and Amanda.
Finally, on Thursday, 10 October, I woke up at 4:15 AM so I could get the ladies on a 6:00 AM flight from Providence to Washington DC (home of my cousin J, Joyce's granddaughter). There are no photos of that, because it was 5 in the morning. Despite the government shutdown (the DC trip had been planned well before the Republicans' temper tantrum over the ACA), and the RAIN, they went on a bus tour and had a lot of fun anyway. And then it was back to South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana for my sweet, western women.