Monday, August 31, 2009

The thruway took us home from Buffalo after a fantastic weekend with family. We celebrated the imminent coming of baby Sophia, who is sure to enrich all our lives; Kristy and Jacob in particular.

There was a Jazz festival in Lewiston, where the shower was held. The morning's rain cleared and the street festival was splendid The Brickyard pub and bbq was exceptional.

There are a myriad photos to share, but as yet, they've not been downloaded to the computer. The evening was devoted to getting things together for my return to employment, supper and an early bedtime. Perhaps tonight I'll be able to get something up to enhance the tale of new acquaintances and getting to know family.

Until then it's off to push-ups, sit-ups, shower, breakfast, and the drive to Massena.....


Friday, August 28, 2009

to visit Kristy and Jacob; Kristy is "due" in October and there is a baby shower this weekend.

Niagara River

Ask me to tell you about the Boris Bistro when I get back.

* SHUFFLE OFF TO BUFFALO in this snappy early Warner Brothers cartoon we get to see where babies really come from - a baby factory manned by dwarves, of course! Before the storks arrive to begin their deliveries, we're treated to some toe-tapping tunes and a performance by Eddie Cantor in disguise!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Montreal~~~24+ hours~~~~ Mon t'dieu!; so many things, so little time.
We packed a ton into our time in Vieux (old) Montreal; too much to do justice to in a single post. Below is a snap shot, actually, five snap shots of our first two hours in the beautiful french city of Montreal.

We walked from the train station, after going the wrong way, to the Marche La Villette. Normally it's a ten to twelve minute walk from the train station. This is a restaurant that D. had been to last year with Char and she wanted to introduce it to me, being positive that I would love it and she was correct. It's located on the Corner of Rues Ste. Paul and Ste. Pierre in Vieux Montreal. We sat next to a couple of bicyclists from Chicago and had a fun conversation with them.

The waiter's name is Damien and he was very good about tolerating my feeble attempts to speak French. He, btw, speaks perfect English. During the course of our banterings back and forth, it turns out that Damien is originally from Toulouse, France and is familiar with the village of Gimot, just 28 miles west of Toulouse, where D. and I have vacationed a couple of times.


We were famished and the table D'Hote looked scrumptious so along with 4 1/4 carafes of vin rouge we dug in with gusto!

Of course Toulouse is well known for it's cassoulet and since it was one of the choices on the table D'hote that is what I ordered. While it couldn't hold a candle to the cassoulet I had in Gimot it was very satisfactory.

After a relaxing and picturesque 2 hour train ride and lunch reminiscent of our times spent in France, D. and I proceeded to find our hotel, feeling very satisfied with our day up to this point.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nous allons à Montréal pour quelques jours.

Via Rail

Auberge du Vieux Port

street Vieux Montreal
Basilica Notre Dame, Montreal, Quebec Canada


Sunday, August 23, 2009

#177 Adult
What are your thoughts on adulthood? What do you want to be when you grow up? Are you scared of being an adult? Have you been forced to be the adult in a relationship? Do you have an adult child who won't grow up? Are you glad to finally be an adult? What do you think?

You knew that Walter Cronkite died? Yeah? No, I didn't find out until 10 days later. I was climbing around the Sangre de Cristo mountains of northern New Mexico at the Philmont Scout ranch and was totally cut off from the outside world; no phone, TV, radio or newspapers. Even though he was 92 years old when he passed, the news of his death stunned me. Thinking about what impact, if any, Walter Cronkite had on my life to cause me to feel sad with his death, I realized that this man was present in my life from an early age through adolescence and into my adulthood. Many dubbed him uncle Walter, and I realized that he was in fact like an uncle to me; just like uncle ED, and uncle Tom. I liked and trusted my uncle Ed and my uncle Tom and I trusted Walter Cronkite, just like most everyone in America did.
In 1964 I thrust myself into adulthood with my volunteering for duty in Vietnam. From then on I began to pay attention to world affairs and as the years flew by my dissatisfaction with the world's state of affairs and my distrust of politicos spiraled to dismal levels. Walter Cronkite was a rock that I knew I could rely on to give me straight scoop. He displayed integrity, calm in the face of disaster, but most importantly he believed in being honest. He told you what was happening and didn't try to entertain you.
Just like my grand children are children of the twitter, facebook, texting generation, and my children were of the Nintendo generation I was of the TV generation. My generation and TV grew into adulthood together. Walter Cronkite was part and parcel of that time period and as such we were exposed to his personal style of adulthood on a daily basis. Over and over, day in and day out we watched Uncle Walter display the qualities that would make us responsible contributing adults within a democratic America and with those values firmly embedded in our brains we too would grow into responsible adults.
In reading the many tributes that were written about Walter after he died I discovered that he had published an autobiography in 1996 "A Reporter's Life." I ordered the book through Amazon and am now 3/4 the way through it.
What was special about Walter Cronkite? He wasn't a Caesar, A great general, a movie star, nor reality show celebrity. He was a man who grew up in the Midwest and had a not unusual childhood. He grew up with dreams, goals and a fair amount of imagination who fell into celebrity literally by being in the right places at the right times and following his dreams. Yes he was a newsman and yes he was a celebrity, and he handled the celebrity with gracious aplomb.
I'm no Walter Cronkite but he set a standard to make anyone who followed his example a credible adult.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The dog days of summer have settled in with their sultry nights. easily becoming lanquid, it was wth effort that I started the grill to bbq supper. If Lynn, Char and Dempsey hadn't been coming for supper I think a glass of wine by the river's edge would have served me just fine.

A hot sticky night after a filling meal and too much wine made for a frettful sleep. And now I'm off to work. What's wrong with this picture? ;>)


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Looking for rel? After the wedding (not his, Shannon and Shawn's) he took a day of rest. Considering that the weather had turned to summer, the heat and humidity keep him confined to either the chair by the shore or in the river itself. Also he needed to mentally prepare for a return to the head of the OR table after a two month hiatus. Going back to work after a long vacation may be akin to riding a bike but at first one can be a little unsure of themselves. So it was on 17 Aug when he returned to Massena for a week's work.

He did manage to get the wedding photos up on his facebook page. He's well aware that he needs to finish the story of the Philmont trek and is hopeful of getting back to that sooner rather than later. I'm sure he'll include tales of myself; Sir mini-bear and perhaps my larger relatives also:

But for today, he'll be in the orthopedic room at Massena Memorial: day two.


Friday, August 14, 2009

rel and D. will be busy for a couple days with what not and so on happening around the hood this weekend and so they asked me to fill you in a bit.
!. the wedding next door happens tomorrow.
2. rel got up early and took pictures of the progress made with decorating the tents next door for the reception.
3. D. and rel ate bkfst and ironed the clothes they are wearing to the rehearsal dinner tonight.
4. D. went to the manse in mo'twn to do wash and sundry chores. rel went kayaking; training for the ninety miler.
5. They are taking Buddy to the vet for his shots at noon.........
6. they'll be recovering from the trauma of taking Buddy to the vet's.
7. Rehearsal dinner at the Phoenix on the Bay.
8. Tomorrow they'll be at the wedding at 1300 and the reception next door following.
Call rel's cell if you need him or D. If you don't have the number you don't need them.


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Oh!, Hello. Welcome back blog traveler. Looking for rel eh? rel and I made each other's acquaintance yesterday and he has enlisted my help to finish up his story about Merrickville. Since I've lived here my whole life I'll act as your tour guide for some of the story and rel will chime in at those junctures with personal anecdotes. My name? Oh yes, well you can call me cbs; short for Coal Black Squirrel.
Just to clear up a common misunderstanding about black squirrels: We exist on both sides of the border. While our first cousins, the grey, out number us world wide (1 in 10,000) we have established large enclaves in some areas of the US and the UK. Here is a link.
Early Thursday morning, rel arose with the sun to meander the village byways to snap some pictures; he prefers early morning and evening for his photos, thinking the colors and perspective are enhanced more than when the sun is directly over head.
We'll start over by the blockhouse on the corner 0f Main and St. Lawrence streets. The Blockhouse was built in 1832 to defend the Rideau Canal. It is the largest of the four military blockhouses on the Rideau. Never used militarily it was the home of lockmaster Johnston, and is now a National Historic Site. A museum inside operated by Merrickville & District Historical
society Houses a collection of typical 19th century implements.
The Blockhouse
Just of few yards north of the Blockhouse there is a bridge on Mill Street which crosses over one of the Rideau locks. When the locks are being opened the bridge must be rotated out of the way to enable boats, particularly taller boats, to maneuver through the lock.

Mill Street Bridge rotating to clear the lock to traffic.

Once the bridge is clear of the lock and the water level equalized the waiting watercraft traverse the lock.

Pleasure boat passing through the lock at Merrickville, Ontario Canada
Between rel and D., his wife, they take 100s of pictures, but put only a paltry few here to just share a glimpse of their experiences.

When the bridge rotated back in place, rel and D. crossed the bridge and made their way north on Mill street. With-in a block they came upon the remains of the 1793 Industrial complex which grew up around William Merrick's original sawmill. By the early 1800's flour and grist mills had been added, and by 1850 a major foundry and woolen mill were part of the complex.

Entrance to 1793 Industrial complex.
Continuing up a slight incline we look left across the street to see the building referred to as Merrick Tavern c. 1830 at 106 Mill St. Commonly considered a tavern because of it's style and proximity to the industrial complex. This stone house was owned by Aaron & Terrance Merrick. One of the earliest surviving homes in the village, it was restored as a private home in 1980.
Merrick Tavern
Later in the day, after Hugh MacLennan our B&B host, had passed on some info, we stopped by. The owner is a former (perhaps still) Ottawa newspaper photojournalist turned artistic photographer. Hugh also mentioned that this gentleman's wife runs "Stashes" restaurant, a polish restaurant, in Montreal. Merrick's tavern is now his abode as well as studio and showroom. We browsed around inside for 1/2 hour or so and, indeed, his artistic photography is well evident.
Continuing northward, rel snapped pics of houses not knowing anything about them other than they appealed to him.

John Johnston House c. 1850
512 St. Lawrence

Built for retired Sergeant John Johnston, who served as Merrickville's lock-master from 1836 to 1869, this stone house, exhibits the classic style of Greek revival. Note the suicide door, installed in anticipation of a porch to be added later.

Knox Presbyterian Church 1861
618 St. Lawrence

Restored by Heritage Merrickville Foundation in 1983 to maintain its historic presence, this red-brick building, the earliest surviving church structure, has been preserved for community use as Knox Hall.

Pre-cellphone, if you wanted to call your mom and tell her that you and your chums were going to stop into the ice-cream shop for a cone and would like an extension on your curfiew, you'd make use of a telephone booth such as this one, in still working order, on St. Lawrence Street just next to the Goose and Gridiron pub and restaurant.

Millers of Merrickville could be an 1830's early stone house at 323 St. Lawrence Street. rel and D. shopped there and bought a bird house and some garden stakes for their garden but it shows up here as an introduction to a human interest anecdote which occured across the street at Bob's Fresh Cut Fries.


Mid-morning D. and I couldn't resist, anylonger, the aroma of fresh french fries wafting in the area and decided to indulge in a small helping of french fries from Bob's. There are a few picnic tables set up in front of Bob's and you sit family style at these tables while indulging. Sitting at our table were D. and I and this delightful young lady and her mother. While D. and her mother were at the window ordering she and I were across from each other waiting patiently to eat. Well I was waiting patiently. The young lady was attempting to ensure that her mother ordered two Pogos for her (Pogos?). I had no idea what Pogos were. Later I determined that they are what we call corndogs. Maybe it's just me. :>)
Anyway, while she was eyeing her mom, I snapped this pic of her intense expression.

In short order the four of us were busy indulging our appetites. D. had set out a napkin and squirted some ketchup on it and she set a cruet-shaker of malt vinegar in front of me and said," if you want vinegar on your fries put some fries on a napkin and sprinkle them with the vinegar."
I replied: " aren't you going to put vinegar on your fries?"
"No," she replied.
When I said; "What kind of Canadian are you? No vinegar on your fries?" the girl's mom broke up laughing. Well of course that broke the ice and conversation ensued. It turned out that they lived in Ottawa, but had only been there for 5 years, after emigrating from Maldova. The young lady answered my inquirery; "are you eight years old?" by showing me 7 fingers. However her mom told us that she would turn eight on September 9th. She, infact, had been born 2 days before the 9/11 attack. They were on a holiday visit and were going to go horseback riding later.
I learned about the sad economics of Maldova when the mom said it was the impetus for her to emigrate to Canada as a single mom. In Maldova the average daily income is around $2.oo.
We went our separate ways; they to ride horses and we to check in to the bed and breakfast that had caught our eye on our trek north up Mill Street.
The Magee House c. 1845
205 Mill Street
Built in the 1840's and acquired shortly thereafter by early foundryman William Magee. This Queen Anne Victorian is one of the most attractive homes in the village. Carefully restored it is now operated as the "Millisle B&B." Our wonderful and gracious hosts were Hugh and Debra MacLennan. Debra is a professional chef and this was readily apparent at breakfast on the grand veranda the next morning. (Choices: fritatta, quiche, or salmon, plus fruit cups and scones.)

Our room; The Rideau room.
It's the smallest room at the home but was the only vacancy and we felt lucky to be able to stay there. It was more than adequate and was very nicely decorated with antiques of the 19th century.

For supper we made our way to Dicken's Gad's Hall Place (eating house).
Carla was our waitress. D. ordered a chicken dish with feta cheese served on risotto. I went with the special: 1/2 rack of ribs, chicken wings (mild, at my request), coleslaw, and a cup of chili. Thursday's is rib night as well as jazz night at Gad's Hall. While we were eating we had the opportunity to chat with the jazz trio's drummer and the band's name sake, Brian Downey. Interestingly the mom and young daughter we'd lunched with also showed up for dinner at the Gad's Hall Place. We didn't sit together and they left before the band started.
Adding to the ambiance of the evening was this dapple grey drawn carriage highlighting the atmosphere of another time.

The Brian Downey Trio jazz band entertained from 8 - 11 pm. Brian told us that they also play every Friday night in Brockville at the Brock Pub. We only stayed 'til ten but the music was super and we swayed and tapped our feet to every note. In fact, I knew the words to each and every song they played. An evening of serendipity, well worth the decision to spend another night in Merrickville. We will return!

Tim Roberts, singer and sax player with Brian Downey's Trio.

D. took this photo of Brian Downey, drummer for Brian Downey's Trio.
We were going to go to Brockville to hear the trio Friday night after our return but D. had a reaction to something in the facial mask she experienced at the spa and her eyelids swelled and were itchy enough for her to pop some benedryl. Needless to say she slept through the evening. But soon we will journey to the Brock Pub to hear the Brian Downey Trio again.


Saturday, August 08, 2009

Hi. How's your day goin'? Mine? Just fine; thanks for asking. Have a seat for a bit and I'll tell you a story about a recent trip I took with my wife.

Early last week, or maybe later in the week before, we decided to cross the border into Canada and visit the beautifully preserved 19th century village known today as Merrickville. Our intent was to go over Wednesday,have lunch, spend the night at Sam Jake's, have a spa treatment the next day, oh and work in a little shopping. We did all that and more. We stayed an extra night just so we could stay in a beautiful Queen Anne Victorian bed & breakfast.

Merrickville came into being in the 1790s when a man named William Mirick built a saw mill along the shores of the Rideau river to harness the rapids there. For nearly 100 years a thriving industrial community grew up on the shores of the Rideau making use of both the river's power and as a transportation avenue. In the 1880s the railroad was the progress that spelled the wasting away of Mirick's Mills prosperity. This decline, common to old industrial towns, continued until the 1960s when a group a historians with help from Canada's federal government began the restoration of this historic "Jewel of the Rideau," Merrickville.

From our cottage on the St. Lawrence river it's a 45 - 50 minute drive to Merrickville; depending on the line at Canadian customs and if there is any road work going on
After parking our car, we walked the couple blocks to the Yellow Canoe restaurant for lunch. Everything in the village is within walking distance. The population of the greater Merrickville vicinity,according to the 2007 census is 2, 867.
D. ordered the frittata special, and the roasted red pepper soup. I had the Blue Cow: thin slices of roast beef, alfalfa sprouts, thin sliced avocado on olive bread, and the lentil and lime soup. We had a local merlot from Pelee Island winery. For desert we shared a date square, Scrumptious all around. In every establishment, locally produced products only were offered for sale; when possible.

While waiting for 3pm check-in to roll around we strolled the village streets taking in the ambiance of the Canal, the sidewalk stores and village homes. we adopted the slower pace of the 1860s to assist us in imagining ourselves back in those times.

At three o'clock we checked into Sam Jake's Inn which in 1861 was the home of Sam Jakes. The decor is in keeping with the decor one would enjoy in the 1860s.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent exploring all that the village had to offer. We spent time at the Locks and taking in the placid views of the Rideau Canal and the enormous pleasure cruisers docked in the Marina. We strolled the streets admiring the restorations to building after building, many of which are still private homes. In our meanderings we crossed the bridge on Mill Street and wandered around the remnants of Mirick Mills industrial complex of 1793. A block or so after that we came upon a Queen Anne Victorian home, built in 1845, which has been converted to a B&B. We decided then and there that we'd stay an additional day just so we could spend a night in this beautiful home.

We stopped for coffee and espresso at Brewed awakenings, and browsed all the stores along St. Lawrence St.: souvenir shops, artist studios, glass blowers studios, and antique shops. Then it was back to Sam Jakes for supper and finally a stroll along the canal to catch the sunset on the Rideau.

Tomorrow we'll meet a girl from Moldova, eat french fries, check-in to a wonderful B&B, and happen upon a Jazz band.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Going back in time today to the 18th century for a few days.

Until then I'll leave you with a photo I took at Angelfire, New Mexico: