Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Here's the Scoop (P*S*C* #38)

***WARNING*** Reading this post will most likely cause you to head to the freezer compartment of your refrigerator or head out to the nearest ice cream vendor's place near you! If you choose any of the flavors listed below, you are joining the millions who have selected their personal favorites with their pocketbooks, wallets and spoons. Well? How did you do? Is your pesonal favorite on the Top Ten list? The last leg of our journey to the New England states took us to Waterbury, Vermont. Think of this as the cherry (Garcia) on the top of our travel sundae! You see, Waterbury is the home of the Ben and Jerry's ice cream TOUR CENTRAL, and we knew we had to fork (spoon?) over the $3.00 fee to tour the factory and get the flavor-of-the-day sample. Before we could taste, we saw the tank room where the milk is stored in a huge vat. Then, on to the assembly room where flavors, swirls, and add-ins are combined and cartoned. Finally we arrived at the ultimate destination: the FlavoRoom where we received our heavenly ice cream in a small paper cup.
Today's flavor? Delicious LATE NIGHT SNACK which has creamy vanilla ice cream, a salted caramel swirl and little pieces of chocolate-covered potato chips. Certainly scoopalicious!
Needless to say, we left Ben and Jerry's in an elevated, udderly enlightened state.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"The Hills are Alive With the Sound of Music" (P*S*C* #38)

Once in Vermont, Penny suggested we make a trip to Stowe to check out the Von Trapp Family Lodge and Resort. I jumped at the chance! (If you know our family, you know that we have been known to break into songs from the musical Sound of Music at oddly random times, like on the dock of our cabin at sunset or on a couch on Thanksgiving night.) Recently, there have been on-site tours offered to talk about the family Von Trapp. Our guide told us the differences between the movie and real life. We were promised, at the end of the tour, to meet an actual family member. See the lodge building in the background? It is actually a rebuilt lodge as a fire consumed the original lodge.
As a tour group, we went into this area marked Private. Inside were the graves of Maria and the Baron, as well as several of their children. The couple had three more children together after the original seven. Most are now deceased.
This is the view one can see from the Lodge. It truly does remind you of their beloved homeland Austria.
All around the Lodge are pictures of the Von Trapps. I especially enjoyed this one that was used to promote their singing tours once they had left their country and starting singing tours in ours.
Closing the tour, we were given the opportunity to meet Sam Von Trapp - the grandson of Maria and the Baron and the son of Johannes. Maria was pregnant with Johannes, her final child, as she came to America. Sam is energetic, engaging, personable and now taking over the reins as
the Resort is expanding. He certainly charmed me!
Seriously, if you ever get to this area and are a fan of the singing Von Trapps, you must go to this beautiful place....your heart will be blessed, and you'll sing once more!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Our Day of Determination in Acadia National Park (P*S*C* #38)

Being so close to Acadia National Park while in Maine meant we had to pay a visit there --- even if the forecast called for a basically miserable day. After all, we had our umbrellas and waterproof slickers! Sand Beach was the first stop we made. I took time to "write" a special anniversary message to my sweetie, then we walked on.
It was low tide. We saw a couple of people walk into the forest at the end of the beach, so we tucked ourselves into the woods and found ourselves on some sort of trail, not really marked as to which trail it was, but we noted the painted blue strips on tree trunks and rocks so followed these markings to wherever.
Here I'd like to comment that hiking on rocky paths while holding an umbrella is not easily managed...especially as we are in the plodding turtles vs. sprite gazelles age group.
However, the scenic aspect of the hike was paying off with breath-taking views and sounds of the crashing sea below us.
When we finally found the summit of the hike marked by this carved sign, we figured out that we had hiked the Great Head trail. Surely this seemed like a hike that was more than 145 feet in elevation! It had taken us over an hour to get here. None-the-less the plodding turtles were perfectly pleased with pleasure to have made it to this pinnacle.
Back in the (warm, dry) car, we visited the Thunder Hole. No Beehive climb today; we passed by that trail today. Maybe next time?
We also could have chosen the 7.4 mile hike to Cadillac Mountain. The guidebook said the hike was strenuous and required 4.75 hours to walk to the 1,530 feet elevation. Instead, we drove to the summit.
As we drove up the mountain, the rain pounded down and visibility was greatly decreased. Still quite beautiful in its own way... ...but, just to be sure we'd really made it to the top and couldn't see anything, I took a picture of this t shirt as proof we were there!
In some ways, the highlight of the trip was stopping by the Jordan House to take a warm break from the rainy temp's in the low fifties. Here we enjoyed the world famous fresh-baked popovers with real butter and homemade strawberry jam served with hot tomato basil bisque soup.
(We strayed from our TURNOVER meal plan and it was worth every bite and spoonful.)
This outing was one we'll always remember, in spite of the cool, wet weather. We Americans are so fortunate to have these National Parks and we must visit them and tell others to visit them. As the Parks are our national treasures we must keep them up and running for the sake of our children, grandchildren and future generations!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Where Everybody Knows Your Name (P*S*C* #38)

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got

Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot

Wouldn't you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go - where everybody knows your name

And they're always glad you came

You wanna be where you can see - our troubles are all the same

You wanna be where everybody knows your name, people are all the same

You wanna be where everybody knows your name.

(The song was written by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo. The Cheers TV show lasted 11 seasons on NBC from 1982 - 1993.) And we were there! The old gang was busy elsewhere, but we did manage to find Norm. The Cheers Bar (Bull and Finch) is located in the Beacon Hill area of Boston. After the end of our very full day of sight-seeing with Carol and Mark, we wanted to end up here. The guys had to get what was the liquid menu highlight, and Carol and I chose instead the oh-so-good Boston Cream Pie.
This was simply one of the most delightful times we had on our trip - and a great way to end a fabulous day in Bean Town! (C'mon---Boston Cream Pie in BOSTON?) Cheers to Cheers!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lobster, Anyone? (P*S*C* #38)

One can't possibly go to Maine and not notice all the lobster hoopla. The red creatures pop up on restaurant rooftops, in signs by the seacoast and even "dressed" as greeters in public places!
Just to give you some background on this hardy crustacean, I thought I'd take some facts from the Oh Ranger! Your Complete Guide to the Parks: Acadia pamphlet we picked up at a Visitor Center: 1. Two hundred years ago, the lobster was used to feed prison inmates who complained about its taste. The lobsters were so plentiful, they were easily gathered at low tide. Settlers also used lobster as fertilizer. You can see here that the lobster was considered lowly - certainly no longer the case! 2. Today lobster fishing requires hard work. Lobstermen (women?) catch their prey using box-shaped wire traps, which they drop overboard and mark with brightly painted buoys (their distinctive color combinations are registered with the state). It takes 7 years for a lobster to reach its legal catch size. The average weight of a lobster is 1.5 pounds, but some as large as 40 pounds have been reported. 3. When living, lobsters are deep green or gray - and rarely a dark shade of blue. When cooked, they turn bright red. To eat a cooked lobster, you need a nutcracker. Twist off the front claws, crack them open and remove the meat. Break off the tail from the body and use a fork to push the meat out. To get at the eight remaining spindly legs, suck the meat out. Some people enjoy the liver (tomalley), but most don't. This being said, we knew we'd have to try eating the popular lobster roll being offered at most roadside venues.
It was recommended we try Red's Eats in Wiscassett, Maine. (And also another place we never found - sorry, Ken and Adrienne.) Reportedly, this place has long, long lines in the summer season which we fortunately avoided.
Whenever you can't find the price of lobster listed, prepare for paying plenty. We learned this.
Ka-ching, ka-ching. This meal of one lobster roll and one order of friend mushrooms set us back over $20.00. The lobster was $16.50 for one roll! Good thing we like to share. Later, though, we overheard some people talk about this place and their generous 1.5 servings, so perhaps it was a deal after all?
The verdict? I like lobster best in its natural habitat under the water - alive. It was too rubbery in texture for me, with a taste that wasn't appealing enough to ask for more. Wes polished off the rest of the sandwich. We're glad we tried the experience, though. Lobster, anyone?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pink Suitcase Chronicles #38 - Visiting New England

Stated simply: We have just returned home from a 9 day trip to Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. The simple pleasures of the trip: Seeing special friends, walking in sand, climbing rocks (slowly and carefully), eating a lot of good food, being near mountains and water and hanging out together 24/7. Highlight #1: Being with the Rholls in Maine.
Highlight #2: Seeing the sights in Boston with Carol and Mark. (More on that in a future post). Do you recognize this stately Boston building?
Highlight #3: Visiting these New England states at this time of year brings a purple/lavender/white/pink reward --- lupines. We saw them everywhere!
Highlight #4: This was the first time we have lodged in an inn on a bay. Penobscot Bay is the second largest bay in the US; the largest bay is Chesapeake Bay. The country breakfast each morning certainly started the day off right.
Highlight #5: Hiking a bit in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, we discovered that gnats bite just as annoyingly as those mosquitoes we encounter at our cabin in Michigan. Those nasty little bugs now fly with a bit of our matter within their systems. I'm assuming this is more a highlight for them than it was for us.
Highlight#6: The last leg of our trip was spent in Vermont with Penny and Lorenzo as our hosts. Their garage was most impressive with its five pairs of snowshoes, bicycles and kayak. Gone are the days of boring landscapes from when they shared our hometown in the Midwest!
As of this post, I'm not quite sure exactly how to proceed with documenting our trip highlights.
But I know I feel compelled to do so as far as some of the cuisine we consumed (think red with pinchers), the famous people and creatures we met, the visit to Acadia National Park and how we ended one of our full days with a trip to a place where "everyone knows your name." Come on back, ya hear?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Walking Tour Surprise

A few weeks before our anniversary, we were given a Save the Date card by our kids telling us to keep the morning of June 4th open and wear walking shoes. It was so much fun to wonder what was going to happen!
Once we had all gathered (Anne, Jed, Ellie, John and Kari) we were handed this sweet little flip-top album with a map of where we'd walk and "Reflective Questions" we'd discuss as we were walking. I think I might have screamed with excitement as one who loves this sort of adventure! We ended up walking to the North Park University campus where Wes and I began our courtship and love story. We saw our dorms, the Hanson Hall classroom where we met in Music 101, the Carlson Tower outdoor patio where we shared our first kiss, remembered the old library where we met to study (and my GPA was elevated because Wes was a serious student and if I wanted to see him, I had to go there myself) and remembered times spent on the mid-campus "Hump."
Then, we left the campus to walk to North Park Covenant Church where we were married. The building was unlocked and we had the sanctuary to ourselves as we relived the walk down and back the aisle. Photos were taken with the former bride and groom looking every bit as happy as on that day 35 years ago.
We ended up our walking tour by going past Wes' old house on Sawyer and our first apartment right across the street from his boyhood home. Memories were shared with the kids about my shoe heel breaking as we snuck our way up the back staircase following the wedding and our landlord coming out to see what the commotion was and finding us in our wedding attire - he was quite surprised!
Back together at our City Nest, we were treated to a delicious lunch and gifts. Even Ellie made a card for us:
Another part of our surprise was getting a stack of index cards listing events that occurred each year of our married life with pictures on the back of the cards. Not only was the stack thicker than one would expect, but also physical evidence of the beauty and blessings we have shared in all these years together.
To our kids - you completely blew us away with your thoughtfulness. We thank you for everything from the bottom of our hearts!!!! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Book Jacket Recycling

"No! Wait! We can use these somehow, sometime! Please don't get rid of them just yet!" That was my repeated outcry every time any of my co-workers at the library wanted to get rid of the book jackets we seemed to be collecting/stockpiling for the past several years as new books came in and the covers were removed before circulating.
Once the newly renovated library was complete, the Children's Storytime room ended up with two very large, very uninspiring white boards. Not good! Being one who likes to undertake projects, I remembered all those wonderfully illustrated book jackets in the storage bins. I love these colorful covers (yes, based on these I can say you can judge some books by their covers) and I proposed a "Book Jacket Mosaic" artwork plan. Using large pieces of plywood and a very handy "Jack of all trades" building engineer, Gary, we devised a way to hang the plywood panels over one of the white boards. The plywood needed to be primed. Then I laid out the book jacket pieces patchwork style to fit the plywood. Using a Mod Podge matte medium, I applied a coat first to the plywood and then attached each book jacket cover one at a time, using a wallpaper seam roller to secure fully to the wood surface. Once this was dry, I applied two coats of Mod Podge (one horizontal and one vertical) with drying between coats.
Here you can see book jack mural as a whole. Forgive the blurriness.
Above, you can see the book jacket mosaic in three overlapping segments. It measures about 12 feet in length and 4 feet in height. Care to guess how many book covers were used? (Insert number here______________. Answer given at the bottom of this post.) There were times when I was working on this project that I thought I was constructing the world's largest decoupage piece and the Guinness Book of World Records people should be here.
The good news about this project? It featured recycling! It will offer our young patrons excitement in discovery of favorite books shown, bright colors, and exposure to books they might have missed. It's art!
The bad news on this project? There are at least four more big bins full of unused book jackets and I am certain I will have to dispense of them at long last ---- do you, dear reader, want to help out by reusing these in your choice of project? CALL ME or RESPOND in the comment section here and they are yours! It would be fun to see what you could come up with using a book jacket as inspiration!
Answer: 108