July 2003

A kinder, gentler month ....

The weather behaved itself and began acting normally, we did some local exploration, and best of all, we caught up with family and old friends ...

First off, Tom and Liz came over for a Fourth of July cookout and fireworks on the Lake. This year was the most active yet — there were 6 or 7 spots around the lake that had fireworks exploding and reflecting. It was nice enjoying the night with good company.

Tom & Liz

                                                     View from the deck

Mom stayed with us for most of the month. We did some local investigating, following the Blackstone River up north several miles. And surprise, we found the Blues Brothers in Northbridge, of all places. They perform in front of some antique shops in the Riverdale section of town. A really quaint area with brick mill buildings, a nice green with church and funky main-street shops. I don't know if it's a New England-only thing (probably), but even small towns have these even smaller "villes" or "dales" making up the whole. Neat little subcommunities, some even have their own post office.

Peter at Dessert First in Woonsocket

Mom meets the Blues Brothers

We went to Woonsocket one night for dinner. It's a bit of a maze near the downtown, but we found the restaurant we had looked up on the Internet. Closed and it didn't look like it had seen action in a long time. So we looked around for another place that wasn't Chinese. The only alternative was a sports bar; OK, but not what we had in mind. But it was fun circling around charming Woonsocket — a great little mill city on the Blackstone River. And later stopping at the best & only Dessert-specialty place I know of was good-o.

Over hill, over dale ...

We've been hiking the Woodland Trail ... at the West Hill Dam in Uxbridge. The dam was built from 1959-61 for flood control (a reaction to Hurricane Diane in 1955) and went through renovations last year. The area has a pretty park with a natural swimming pond formed by the West River. The dam, park and woodlands around the river are managed by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Trail is a 5-mile loop through mostly wooded areas, with some open fields and a trek across the top of the dam. We've done this on steamy Sunday mornings. The bugs bothered us a bit the first time; you'd think we'd have made some adjustments for the second hike. And my intention was to bring bug repellent, but my memory seems to come and go randomly.

So there we were, deep in the woods, working up a sweat. First came the gnats, then the horseflies, then the mosquitoes. They swarmed around us like the cloud of dust around Pigpen. This buzzing around the face and body kept us moving — very fast — and we finished in record time, with a record number of bites.

On the trail, from woods to top of dam.

Reconnecting ...

My good friend Lynne, who I've known since high school, who I roomed with for four years in college, was in town! But only for a few hours. She and her husband Richard, along with two other couples, had been in Maine on vacation. They were all about to turn 50, and decided to mark the milestone with a nice trip. And they were in Boston to catch a flight home.

So Peter & I went to meet them at their hotel in Cambridge. After some brief confusion — I went in the lobby, didn't see them, so called Lynne's cell phone, from Peter's phone. She answered, wondering where I was. "At the Holiday Inn." "So am I." "Is there more than one on this street?" "There's a muffler shop across from me." "Me, too."

So I walked back towards the lobby and there was Lynne, talking to me on her phone. The last time we saw Lynne and Richard was 12 years ago, at their home in Houston. Too long.

But she hadn't changed, and we were comfortable right away. It's nice to have a long-time friend, someone who knew you when, someone you shared those precious good (and bad) old days with. We caught up as best we could in the short time before they had to leave.

And "misery" loves company ... knowing that she and Richard were facing 50 like me makes it not seem too bad. Several other close friends are also "there" this year. So, what the heck? We're all in pretty good health (knock on wood), still look pretty good (though that's day to day for me), and don't have a viable alternative.

But I digress ...After saying goodbye, we stopped along the Charles River for a walk. The view of Boston from the Cambridge side was stunning, on a perfect day. Lots of crewing going on as we were near the MIT and Harvard boat houses.

It was a busy weekend ... the next day Peter's brothers Arturo and David stopped by. They had been visiting their mother (while dad was at the yearly family reunion in the Northwest). We had lunch, talked about their upcoming travels: Arturo's trip to Italy (I'm so envious) and David's trip to Vermont. Then they took the fleet out — Arturo and David in the canoe, Peter in a kayak.


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