The speed of sound

Image: hear the sounds

One of the things I most miss about being on vacation are the sounds – the remarkable buzz of the hummingbirds, the rhythmic pounding of the waves, the echo of my running feet on the sandy road. Each of those noises reminded me that I no longer was home in the DelSo and I grew relaxed by the music created by nature.

On one of my first days back, I walked down Delaware Avenue to meet a friend near Lark Street. As I made my way past familiar storefronts and homes, there were different sounds than those of which I had recently become accustomed. Music, aggressively booming from cars, the din of traffic, teenaged girls in loudly colored skinnies talking in Spanish, and the lilt of Burmese women speaking softly to their children. The stimulation and energy caused my feet to move a bit faster as I adjusted my pace to keep up with everything going on around me.

Last night’s violent storm, complete with powerful wind, hail and driving rain, prompted a completely different symphony of sounds. There were sirens as emergency vehicles rushed to various locations, the voices of neighbors checking in on each other and sharing the conditions of their basements and the steady drone of machines pumping water into the street. That last noise was what ultimately lulled me to sleep after a soggy run through the neighborhood surveying the storm’s impact.

Sight and smell seem to be the most frequently remarked upon senses, but random sounds and noises are equally powerful reminders of where we are and where we’ve been. Are there noises that particularly resonant for you? How did Tuesday evening’s storm sound out your way?

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Local, musings, Observations, vacation

Pie-eyed for the Scottish Bakehouse

imageOne, okay two, of the best things I put in my mouth while on vacation this year was pie from the Scottish Bakehouse in Tisbury. I think I’ve mentioned this place before and am happy to report that, like some favorite books from years gone by, this special bakery continues to satisfy.

When I rolled in to their parking lot in the late afternoon midweek, I was worried about what the remaining selection might be. Come to find out that the limited choices available for me were perfect – key lime and blueberry. Naturally, I took both, along with 2 peanut butter cookies, 2 chocolate chip cookies and a hunk of cardamom cinnamon coffee cake. Total: $54.00. We’ll talk more about that in a moment.

While my order was being put together, my attention was attracted by a woman wearing kitchen clothes. Turns out she is the chef (owner?) of the Art Cliff Diner at the Bakehouse to pick up their order of baked goods. See how it works? Good places source from good places, a truism always nice to see.

How were the pies? The blueberry pie with an intriguing hint of cinnamon was a simple pleasure. The fruit was tender and sweet and I thoroughly enjoyed the single slice to which I laid claim. I focused on the key lime, one of my all-time favorite flavors and one which they do a great job. It’s tart and tasty, sitting up tall on a graham cracker crumb crust. I’ve singlehandedly eaten almost the entire thing. I’m not sorry.

Now, let’s talk about the prices. When I first was presented with the total, I was a little taken aback. I don’t really buy a lot of baked goods, but it seemed a little pricey. I’ve been thinking about, though, and have decided that I’m really okay with the expense of my splurge. The quality of the items certainly justified the price and when you consider the brevity of the season, it seems fair. I highly doubt that anyone at the Scottish Bakehouse is getting rich off pie, you know what I mean?

I’ve got one slice of that key lime pie left. I’m calling it breakfast.

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Filed under baking, Eating, favorites, Martha's Vineyard, Recommendations, vacation

On the beach…

…there’s sand.  Grains and grains of sand.  Because of this condition, this year I committed to taking only paperback books to the beach.  I mean, really, when it comes to reading at the beach, something I can finally do now that my boys are older, the paperback is the only way to go.

There are a couple of books which left a big impression upon me when I first read them many years ago.  I decided to revisit them to see if they still would move me after so many years had gone past.

I started with Hemingway’s  A Moveable Feast.  When I first read it, I was an undergraduate infatuated with the romance of Europe and expatriates.  Two of those three have not changed.  Reading it last week,  I was once again  transported to Paris, witnessing the cafe life of some of America’s finest writers during the 1920s.  Hemingway’s observations, recounted from memory decades later, are remarkable as he paints such vivid scenes with an almost miserly number of words.  It still works for me.

A couple of favorite passages:

“We’ll come home and eat here and we’ll have a lovely meal and drink Beaune from the co-operative you can see right out of the window there with the price of the Beaune on the window. And afterwards we’ll read and then go to bed and make love.”

“In Europe then we thought of wine as something as healthy and normal as food and also as a great giver of happiness and well being and delight. Drinking wine was not a snobbism not a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary, and I would not have thought of eating a meal without drinking either wine or cider or beer.”

The other title I picked up for the first time in years was Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate.  I remember being absolutely charmed by this wonderful novel when I initially encountered it.  The passion!  The deftly handled magical realism!  I loved it then and I love it now.  I could almost taste the words.

Here are a few morsels to savor.

“To the table or to bed
You must come when you are bid.”

“A man equal to loving someone who needed love as much as she did, a man like him.”

“…within our bodies each of us has the elements needed to produce phosphorus… each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can’t strike them by ourselves…each person has to discover what will set off those explosions in order to live, since the combustion that occurs when one of them is ignited is what nourishes the soul.”

What are your favorites?  Have you revisited any recently?

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Filed under Books, Cape Cod, favorites, Martha's Vineyard, Recommendations, Summer, vacation

Tree hugging

Image: treehuggerfilms.com

Image: treehuggerfilms.com

I was bold this evening. For a few minutes, at least. I went for a run, a short one, and sported only a skort and a modest running bra. This is not my usual attire, especially not during daylight hours, and I vacillated in a somewhat schizophrenic fashion between thinking I was fit and believing that I was fat. You see, exercising my body and brain simultaneously is yet another way I often multitask.

About 3 minutes into my run, I became self conscious and a bit uncomfortable. I felt exposed, and my skort with the stretched out elastic waistband was sliding down without a shirt to which to safety pin it. I ran past a wooded area and, as is my way, I looked to the side for my reflection, which I didn’t see. Or did I?

To my right, rather than the reflective glass of car and household windows I typically see on my city runs, I saw an undeveloped piece of land covered in trees. They were mostly scrub oaks, an unfortunate name for trees which bear such shiny green leaves from their richly textured branches. My mind took in the beauty of each individual tree and I considered how being a tree wouldn’t be such a bad thing. The strength they show in adverse conditions, the glorious splendor with which they salute the pending arrival of winter, the tiptoe and whisper of their spring greeting. There are far worse things to be in the world.

If I had interrupted my run to examine each and every tree, I know I would not have found any two to be identical. They were unique in their beauty, individual. I was struck by a thought – isn’t the source of our own beauty the same? Isn’t it our own unique spark essence fire that causes us to shine in a way that is pleasing? Aren’t the most attractive people those who radiate something special and distinctive beyond the size of their waist or the shine of their hair? Why is this simple truth so difficult to embrace?

Trees probably don’t waste time wishing they were taller, longer limbed or of a different girth. Their beauty is without question, their position within the forest unchallenged by rigid boundaries or demands to alter their appearance. The next time I seek my reflection during a run, I hope I see a tree.

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Filed under beauty, Exercise, musings, Observations, running

Trains, boats and buses

imageThose of you who have children know that a big part of parenting seems to revolve around  transportation. Like us, kids have places to be and must get to them. Whether it’s sports practice, school events or to social activities, we, as parents, are usually on the hook to drive them to where they need to be. At what age do we begin letting them get there on their own? What about when where they want to go is more distant than just a couple of miles away?

My oldest son has always had a remarkable sense of direction. When he was still preschool age I began to rely upon him for help while driving, asking him which way to turn. He’s always been obsessed with transportation, particularly trains, yet, as a city kid he has no interest in getting his driver’s license. I’m fine with that, trust me. Last year, on our first day in Amsterdam we bought 24 hour hop on/hop off passes for the canal boats. After we boarded the boat we consulted the map to determine which stops we should take and quickly determined we were interested in doing different things.

After a quick discussion, Liam and I decided to split up for a couple of hours. He would remain on the boat and loop back around to visit the Maritime Museum and I would get off at the next stop to troll through one of my favorite flea markets. We’d been in Amsterdam for less than 18 hours and were without cell phones, but I was confident that he could, in case of an emergency, find his way back to the hotel. I clambered off the boat and watched it depart, thinking that his Dad would be mighty pissed if this venture didn’t go well…

But, of course, it did go well. My 16 y/o and I met at the designated spot essentially on time and all was well. I was definitely a little apprehensive, but I knew I had to give him a little independence, even in the vice capital of Europe, and I didn’t regret it. You’ve got to start somewhere, right?

There have been other occasions when I’ve trusted the boys to get somewhere on their own. When Griffin was 13, I put him on the bus at the Port Authority to ride out to the Meadowlands to meet friends for a Jets game – on Thanksgiving afternoon. The ride home caused me more anxiety, particularly after my son disregarded the instructions to wait inside for me and instead was walking around 8th Avenue. We figured it out.

Liam has taken the train solo to NYC, switching lines at Poughkeepsie to arrive at Grand Central Station. Griffin’s latest triumph was making his way from Albany to the ferry dock in Woods Hole, via Boston. These forays can definitely be a little anxiety-inducing, but I know that teenagers need to learn to navigate their way through the world and I’m much more comfortable giving my kid a ticket to ride than a license to drive.  You?

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Filed under aging, Boys, family, road trips, travel

Popping cherries

imageIs it me or have the cherries this year been terrific? I’ve really been enjoying them with plain Greek yogurt and granola as a light lunch or pre-run snack in recent weeks and will be sad to see the season end. Especially since I just bought a new kitchen gadget to make eating even easier. Meet my new favorite kitchen toy – the cherry pitter!

You may be familiar with my resistance to buying one-trick wonder items. I’m more into multitasking, you know. When I hit up Utilities in Provincetown for my annual shopping spree, though, I was willing to take a break from my usual state of efficiency to simplify my life by buying a cherry pitter. Of course, as always, when I go to a store seeking a specific item they were sold out. Boo.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to reside in the pits for long because Vineyard Haven has an awesome home store, Le Roux, that had exactly what I was seeking – in three different versions! I went with the Cadillac version in the hopes that I will never have to make this purchase again. At least that’s what the salesman promised.

So? How does it work? It’s pretty damn amazing! Stem the cherries and place them in the pitter and press. Bam! The pit drops out and you’re left with a nearly intact cherry. Easy-peasy, as they say. As a matter of fact, I just may pick up a couple of more to have on hand for gifts for friends who are tired of living in the pits.

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Filed under favorites, ideas, Martha's Vineyard, Recommendations, Uncategorized

Dinner at the Art Cliff Diner

During the two weeks we spend at the beach each summer, we eat dinner out maybe a handful of times. Part of that decision is based upon practicalities – kids, expense, day drinking and driving, but the fact that we’ve been disappointed with pricy meals in restaurants with menus that attempt to satisfy adults and children, is the biggest factor in choosing either take out (less expensive than dining in with tip/adult beverages) or cooking at home.

All that said, there’s a place in Vineyard Haven I’d been wanting to try for a few years – the Art Cliff Diner. Sunday the stars aligned and the guys and I finally got there and we couldn’t have been happier. The Art Cliff is both a food truck and a stationary restaurant. We pulled into their shared parking lot at what seemed to be the ideal time, about 5:15. The restaurant wasn’t open for business, but the truck’s menu more than sufficed for us.

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There were maybe a dozen options and we were able to find something for each of us – Liam chose the cheesesteak sandwich ($14?) which was as fine an example of that item as I’ve ever enjoyed. The meat was thinly sliced, maybe even shaved, with sweet onions and the perfect amount of cheese. The portion was more than generous.

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For Griffin it was the pig on a roll ($8?), a moist pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw. He declined the chipotle mayo, but I’m sure it would have added a terrific kick to the tender and overstuffed sandwich. I also went with pork in the form of spicy pork taco. The soft flour tortilla ($8?) was complete with juicy pork, greens, a sour cream based sauce and green salsa. It was really, really delicious.

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Quinn went with a ho-hum hotdog ($4) which he thoroughly enjoyed and we rounded out things with two generous orders of fries – one plain and one dusted with grated Parmesan. The fries were fantastic and would make an awesome and satisfying snack solo at only $6.

Our total for a really high quality and nicely presented meal, with soft drinks was a fair and reasonable $57 before tip. I imagine their offerings change regularly, but can’t imagine ever being disappointed by their food.  Have you been there?  Tell me about it!  If you haven’t yet, try it and let me know.

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Filed under Boys, Dinner, Eating, Food, Martha's Vineyard, Recommendations, Summer, vacation