Week's end in DE

From the time we left Annapolis to the time we arrived at Jon's and Pat's in Lewes, Delaware, the driving portion took us three hours, a bit longer than anticipated but not totally unexpected due to the solid 30 minute wait to cross over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge as we left Annapolis. Hungrily, we took a minor detour for lunch at Snappy's Grille, about 35 minutes from Lewes. Let's just say that large portions are a way of life at Snappy's. Fred and I split a club sandwich, and at half size the sandwich was closer to the full size that I consider standard. Fred chose Snappy's Grille because we were hungry but also because he was curious to find out if Jon was familiar with it, as Jon is most definitely a connoisseur of interesting and local eateries. (Turns out he hadn't heard of it beforehand.) 

As we were paying our bill the waitress who served us began to wax poetic about the crab dishes, at which point the owner/chef went into the kitchen and returned to show us a bucket of freshly chopped crab that was harvested from local waters. He was quite proud of the fact that it was real crab and insisted I take a close look. I'm not a fan of crab dishes but that didn't stop me from letting him know I understood what a big deal it was to have local fresh crab with which to prepare dishes. 

The day being sunny and hot, we appreciated the blast of air conditioning that greeted us upon arriving at our destination. As the day wound down we piled into one car and met our niece and her family at Cape Henlopen State Park where we spent a delightful time frolicking in the water (all but two of us), nibbling on snacks, and just plain enjoying ourselves.

Afterwards, Jon wanted to take us to a semi-local find (about a 20 minute drive) of which he had recently become a fan. It was 8:00 at night by the time we had dinner, way too late for our taste. Suffice it to say Fred and I both thought one visit to this restaurant was more than sufficient. I'll leave it at that!

The next day we had all agreed to meet Lisa and family at 7:00 a.m. for a family cycle to Rehoboth and breakfast at Egg. Fred and Jon provided car backup while four adults cycled, one with a child in a children's bicycle seat and one with a child on a bicycle that was the third wheel of the adults cycle. This was my first experience riding a "beach bike" and while I quite liked the stability of the thicker tires (my bike at home is a 30-year old Peugeot racing bike) and being able to sit upright rather than slightly hunched over, I was not a fan of the wide handle bars, which apparently are designed to make the bike easier to control on sand. 

We had a scenic, level (as Jon says, all of Delaware is level!), and uneventful 7.5 mile ride, definitely earning our delicious breakfast. First photo is en route, second one is arriving at the restaurant.

After breakfast one child went home via car, leaving the rest of us to cycle home via a slightly more scenic and longer route thru the state park we had visited the day before. Crossing the road in front of the restaurant took a bit longer for half of us and by the time we arrived on the other side of the busy road my sister-in-law had already begun her cycle home. By the time we caught up to her, she had taken a spill off her bicycle. Although when we arrived she was standing up with her bike, it was readily apparent that she had sustained a fall. And the final outcome? A broken right elbow and a possible fracture of her left arm, along with numerous bruises along her right side. 

Once we arrived back at the house Fred and I determined that we wanted to make space for our family to focus on what they needed to and not have to think twice about guests. After checking with Steve, and once the afternoon thunderstorms seemed to pass, we returned for one more night's visit with him, one more walk in Oakbourne Park, and one of the easiest drives back to New York that we've experienced in a year of multiple drives along this route.

And the good news is that as of this writing, a week and a day later, the surgery on Pat's elbow was successful, healing is happening, and she is poised to leave on Tuesday for a planned trip with Lisa and family to Iceland. Yippee and Whew!

Middle of the week in MD

Our first stop after leaving Steve's in West Chester, PA, was Kennett Square, about half an hour SW from his home. We wanted to do a quick explore of the town as it was a place suggested by Fred's brother, Jon. Since we would eventually visit Jon we thought it would be fun to tell him we stopped there, but it turns out we completely forgot to mention it! However, we did purchase some jam for the friends we would visit in Annapolis, and it turns out that one of them had a connection with Kennett Square from many, many years back!

From there we continued along our way to Baltimore to deliver a trunk full of items to our son's home. A week and a half later he and his family would be heading home to their house after ten weeks visiting with us and this drop off would make sure that everything returned to their home while still leaving room for four people in their car! Of course, we HAD to stop at The Charmery and get our favorite flavor ice cream, Maryland Mud. Oh yes, and I HAD to stop in at Ma Petite Shoe (where these beauties - scroll to see them - were purchased about a year ago) to see what was on sale. Wound up with a super soft leather pair of plum Mary Jane heels made by Earth Origins, same company that made my sandals, purchased locally where I live, and burgundy boots, purchased online.

From Hampden it was south to Annapolis, the capital of Baltimore. The last time we were there we likely had two children with us, easily 20 or so years ago. Our only recollection was of the Naval Academy, so we were looking forward to exploring with the eyes of newbies. Our first evening we dined at Reynolds Tavern in the historic old city. Following dinner we strolled to the harbor, walked through the grounds of the Naval Academy, and passed the capital building and governor's mansion on the way back to our car.

Our plan for Thursday was to explore neighborhoods in and around Annapolis and then head to visit friends formerly from our neighborhood in New York. I got a kick out of the traffic calming sign, meant to forewarn drivers of some obstacle in the road designed to slow the flow of traffic. As for the various neighborhoods we visited, none struck us as livable according to what we have come to love about our home in New York – being able to walk into town, having a local library, homes close enough to meet neighbors and feel like a connected neighborhood, water access for kayaking, and a local outdoor pool. We know those features work for us so we use them to gauge the livability of neighborhoods we explore, and we've been exploring up and down the northeast coast for upwards of ten or more years.

We were joining our friends at their home for lunch and intended to visit with them for about three hours. After chatting, lunch, a walk to the water, followed by relaxing in Adirondack chairs at water's edge and talking some more, it turned out to be a full six hour visit filled with catching up, politics, and neighborhood discussions.

Our home away from home was the comfortable Meadow Gardens Bed & Breakfast, and the breakfasts truly were scrumptious. An added perk was Hazel, a smallish Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, one of several small dogs we delightfully encountered during our week's road trip.

Friday morning, before heading to Delaware, we decided to explore one more area just south of Annapolis. And that's when we discovered Annapolis Cove and Bay Ridge, which Fred nicknamed "Shore Acres South." Nearby is Quiet Waters Park (which we didn't visit) and the Anne Arundel County Public Library (which we did visit.) We didn't measure distance so not sure these places were walkable, but a nice bicycle would certainly suffice in place of walking, and a shopping center with a Giant (food store in Maryland that sells the same store brand as Stop & Shop in our area) across from the Library. By our criteria, this is a livable, walkable neighborhood.

To drive to Delaware, our next visit, we had to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, described as a dual-span bridge because it is really two bridges, one for heading in either direction. There was so much traffic to Delaware that one lane of the Maryland-heading bridge was designated for Delaware-heading traffic, and that's the lane we wound up in. This is a BIG bridge. And we were inching forward in 30 minutes of traffic before actually crossing the bridge. The picture was taken from Annapolis Cove as we drove along the Bay road.

A week away, beginning in PA

During the week of August 5-12 our daughter-in-law's sister, her husband and their two children (ages 7 and 4) came to visit from their home in Quito, Ecuador. To make room for their reunion (it had been a year and a half since they all last saw one another) Fred and I took a week long road trip to visit family, beginning with his younger brother Steve in West Chester, PA.

Steve has a lovely garden in the front of his home, though sometimes the "long legged rats" (as he calls the deer) chomp their way into the vegetation. He is also a wooden puzzle collector.

We did a mini-shop in Pete's, the local farm stand and had a chuckle over their silly sign.

That wasn't the only fun sign we saw, with this one being in the restaurant where we had lunch one afternoon after Steve drove us around western Chester County, an area Fred was keen to see. Besides driving thru some familiar places we also saw the many roads that Steve used to cycle during his avid cycling days.

And of course, we spent plenty of time at the Quarry just minutes from his home. The first full view is from the perspective of Steve and Fred (nope, not a weird colored sky, just my finger!), and the second view is at the entrance looking to the far side, where they are lounging.

We also took numerous walks in Oakbourne Park, just down the block from Steve's house. It's a great place to walk, jog, exercise dogs, play on the playground, make use of the playing fields or admire the raised community gardens tended by individual gardeners. There is an old stone house, the Oakbourne Mansion, that was once a residence and now houses offices and rental spaces, as well as the old water tower that used to service the house. As for the tree, I liked the leaf shape of this Japanese Maple.

This was proving to be a relaxing week! And one evening we had dinner at the Baan Thai Sabaidee Restaurant about 10 minutes drive from Steve's. The pants were my new acquisition from The Gap just a day before we left on this trip; I was looking for wide-legged pants that would keep me warm in air conditioning yet also allow for air flow on these hot, hot days. My inspiration for wide-legged pants comes from reading Sheila's blog and seeing how she has embraced the look. Couldn't resist aligning my colors with the colors of the restaurant's doors.

Fred's next older brother, Jon (who we would visit at the end of the week) is a big fan of Thai food and often bemoans the fact that his newly adopted town of Lewes, DE does not have a decent Thai restaurant. So, we had no recourse but to text him pictures of our meal!

Wednesday was our final morning with Steve and it was marked by the masked marvels, who by request unmasked themselves. Fred hung his latest outdoor sculpture, completely protected against the elements by a coating of polyurethane, and I couldn't resist a picture of the debonair "Black Bart", Steve's BMW that doesn't see nearly enough road time but does make a good hat rack for my hat (actually it's Fred's but I have commandeered it. :-))

Mamma Mia!

Loved the first Mamma Mia! so much that I purchased the DVD ten years ago and have watched it multiple times since. It's a great pick-me-up in winter or whenever a dose of positive energy is needed!

Watching Meryl Streep do the wide angle jump on the bed accompanied by Christine Baranski and Julie Waters is priceless, especially  as they belt out Dancing Queen along with a huge cast of others all dance-cascading down the hill to the water's edge.

Earlier this week my friend Ann and I gathered to see Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. What's not to like! As with the first film, I'm a fan of the music, the dancing, the always-uplifting-ending (to both movies), and filled with ticklish awe this time round watching Cher gracefully glide and powerfully sing!

It would be a luscious delight to dance and sing with tens upon tens of others, all synchronized to the choreography and accompanied by music outdoors in some breathtakingly gorgeous location! Since that is not happening anytime soon, I'll have a vicarious thrill from the movies. :-)

[Update August 17, 2018  - So Ann and I, along with her husband Ave, returned to the theatre to see Crazy Rich Asians (which we all liked) and Ave took this picture of us, because, after all, why not!]

Untermeyer Gardens Conservatory

Over the years awareness of Untermeyer Gardens Conservatory has floated in and out of my consciousness, making its way to the "things to see before one day leaving Westchester" list and remaining there till this morning, when my older son, his children and I made the 30 minute ride cross county. The Conservatory is well worth a visit, regardless of where in Westchester (or New York City) you are coming from! Our visit was enhanced, no doubt, by this being one of the first relatively cool, clean-air, humidity-free days in awhile!

Untermeyer is filled with gardens and walking paths, places to picnic, views of the Hudson River, and places of sun, shade and water. Thanks to the City of Yonkers, admission is free and if you drive and arrive early (it opens at 7:00 in the morning) you will likely be able to park in one of the 30 or so free spaces next to the community center within the grounds.

You can read about the history of the Gardens here and here, and scope out the many gardens here. We walked through most of the gardens, heading first to the Walled Garden, then walking down the Vista steps to the Overlook before making our way to the Lion & Unicorn Gate, then along the Carriage Trail, and up a wooded path to the Temple of Love.

The Vista is a long sequence of stairs, gently sloped down to an Overlook of the Hudson River. On our way down we encountered a jogger making his way gracefully and gradually up the steps! (Years and years and years ago my parents traveled to Italy and stayed at the Villa D'Este in Italy, the model for the steps of the Vista.)

The views of the Hudson from along the Carriage Trail were impressive, and I finally chose this one from the several taken. Those are the Palisades of New Jersey on the opposite side.

We spent a bit of time at the Temple of Love as there is much to capitivate the imagination and senses. On the west side of the Temple is the waterfall. (Digression to mention am wearing my souvenir sneakers from our trip out West. They proved to be marvelously comfortable and light weight.)

Taking the climb to the top of the Temple brings you to the temple dome, and I had the urge to lie down and take a picture looking directly up at the underside of the dome.

On the way down from the dome we encountered this striking rock formation, whittled, no doubt, by years of water cascading down.

With one last look back at the Temple of Love…

A Very British Tea

This afternoon I attended a surprise (de)parting party for a friend who is relocating continents. The invitation will give you a sense of the festivities.

The table was set for the quintessential English tea with all the requisite savories and sweets, a number of which had not yet been placed on the table when these photos were taken.

And because the invitation said "Mad Hatter" I had no recourse but to wear this lovely pink hat that was my Mom's, and for which I have long been wondering if I would ever have an occasion to don! Tickled to have this hat in a photo to include in the Style Crone's July Hat Attack.

Thanks to Jamie for the pictures on our front steps, and for admonishing me to "don't just stand there, move!" Apparently I do not mind hamming it up for the camera. ;-) (For a history of the magnificent floral dress check out this post.)


RENEW. Multiple possible meanings and interpretations. Friends (picture posted with their permission) and I renewed our friendship last Saturday, catching up since we last saw each other several weeks ago. Eileen Fisher Renew welcomes the return of items no longer being worn and donates them or turns them into reusable clothing, an ecologically sound and interesting business approach, about which you can read more here. What else to do but renew at Renew!  [UPDATE Read more about Renew and similar efforts by other companies in the September 3, 2018 Washington Post article Eileen Fisher wants those clothes back when you're done.]

I was determined to look nice for the outing, switching out of my typical shorts and tee shirt for a nicer looking Land's End Art T-shirt, a Gap polka-dot sweater (I love this sweater because of the polka-dots and the background being a neutral gray, which means I can pair it with patterns or solids, a fun styling approach I learned from Sheila), and new-to-me *hand-me-down incredibly comfortable and soft pants by Ann Taylor Signature. (*A colleague at school gave to another colleague two bags of clothing that she and her daughter were no longer wearing. That colleague kept what she liked and then passed the rest on to me and another colleague.)

The website showed the store opening at 10:00 a.m. though the hours on the storefront stated 11:00 a.m. Off we went around the corner to enjoy a mid-morning snack at red barn bakery, a small gem down the hill from Renew and up the hill from the Irvington Metro North train station. Besides the entry area viewed in the photo below, there is a comfortable seating area up a few steps in the direction from which this photo was taken. We each indulged in a different delight (mine was hot cocoa) and whiled away almost an hour talking about life and family.

With our appetites renewed, we spent about two hours browsing and trying on clothing, and I wound up purchasing three sweaters (one for my daughter-in-law) and two dresses. The green sweater appears to be never worn but with a small snag on the outer side of one sleeve. The label states it is made of Italian yarn. Judging by the state of the other label, the linen rust sweater looks to be gently worn.

Both dresses are mostly rayon with a little lycra. The black dress replaces a longer one I had years ago that was a go-to and perfect for travel. This one is above the knee and can double as a tunic. What makes it interesting is the pleating on the front. 

The orange dress was chosen by my friend (on the right in the photo); she insisted it would be perfect for me. While I liked the color, upper shading effect and back peephole, I was dubious about the length but once it was tried on I loved the look and figured it could be cut down and hemmed to tunic length. The fun twist to that idea was my husband loved it on me, as is! I have a smashing pair of shoes to wear with this dress. Both dresses will wind up back on the blog when they are styled and worn. (First wearing of the black dress here (scroll to view), first wearing of the orange one here.)

There was a particular reason we chose to spend our shopping outing at Renew, as it kept our wallets not exactly renewed but definitely not depleted! Samples were $5 and everything else was $10. This isn't always the pricing; periodically the store offers special pricing events and this was one of them. (This is where it pays to be on their email list, which is how our friend found out about the event.) In addition, there were gently used items as well as never-worn items. Dressing rooms are communal and I enjoyed meeting other women and hearing their stories.

One lovely woman was bemoaning the fact that it is very difficult and frustrating to find stylish, colorful clothing in her size. Another woman was telling us that she stopped wearing a bra years ago and we all agreed with her none-too-positive assessment of the bra industry. I was intrigued that she doesn't wear a bra to work; as a teacher I cannot imagine going braless, though I have spent the bulk of this summer doing just that (and it is SOOOOOO comfortable, especially on hot days!)

Afterwards the friend in the left in the photo, who is quite knowledgable about the area, was eager for us to see the revitalized Irvington waterfront. She led us on a park stroll where, on such a glorious weathered-day as we had, the view of the new Tappan Zee Bridge (renamed the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge after a much loved NY Governor and father of our current Governor) was super! You can see video of the bridge removal process and read about the new bridge here.

The Flavour of Shopping Well

While in Victoria we were treated to a shopping experience at Flavour Upstairs, one of the second-hand clothing shops frequented by Sheila. (More about our wonderful time with Sheila here.) I had asked if she might be able to include a shopping stop along the way, as there is no better second-hand shopping experience than to visit second-hand stores with a pro!

I found this swirly, lined Club Monaco pleated skirt with a wide waist band for (to the best of my recollection) $12 Canadien (about $9 U.S.) The lining has some wear and tear but nothing to prevent a comfortable wearing of the skirt. It is exactly the style I had hoped to find, and in a color that I quite like wearing – a perfect souvenir of our visit with Sheila and our time in Victoria.

While I don't have any particular reason to wear the skirt at the moment, it being smack dab in the middle of the summer when I tend to spend most of my time in shorts and tee shirts, I could not resist attempting a style just for the fun of it this afternoon. The process caused me to return to the front hall closet and retrieve my last few summer tops, mostly saved for the warm fall and the return to school. I found the perfect patterned top and added a pair of green sandals. A little gold jewelry is all that would be needed to dress this up for an outing, along with a gold bag of my Mom's, and a sweater or shawl, but I'll save those accents for another post.

Behind me, in the second photo, is a mass of tomatoes planted by Fred, who also kindly took the pictures!

And so the adventure winds down

Almost three weeks ago we began the last part of our Pacific Northwest adventure. Starting in Vancouver, BC, we drove south towards Seattle, WA. Our initial plan was to spend the day in Seattle, then drive our son back to his home in Olympia before returning north to SeaTac for our overnight flight home. However, our son remarked that it would be a lot of sitting for us and therefore insisted he see if a friend could meet him at the airport. (Thank you to the wonderful roommate who did just that!)

Realizing that we had all been to Seattle, we opted for another adventure to explore areas we had never been. Our Canadien trip began with the ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria, and concluded with our drive south towards Whidbey Island, complete with an hour's plus wait (!) to drive through customs at the border. None of us had been to the San Juan Islands and our drive south would quench our curiosity. 

No pictures to share, though we did stop for lunch at the Bastion Brewing Company in Anacortes, WA. The meal was okay but the highlight was dining in the taproom where the beer is brewed.

Eventually, after a short ferry ride from Clinton to Mukilteo, we found ourselves back at SeaTac. The return of our Enterprise car rental went as efficiently and speedily as the initial rental process, and we settled in for a final set of fun photos, some of which are below. Yup, we look quite jubilant. Yup, we look well fed. Yup, we look tired. We were all of those plus a bit sad to be parting.

[Addendum August 13, 2018: While on vacation this week to visit family, Fred retold a story that should be included about our meal at SeaTac.]

After our son was picked up by his kind and most helpful roommate, we took the shuttle to the airport and found a restaurant where we could sit down to have a light meal before our flight. Already seated at the table next to us was a young woman with an appealing looking meal in front of her. I turned to her to inquire what she was eating, she told me the name of the dish, we probably wished each other a nice trip, and that was the extent of our conversation. 

I ordered the same dish, a little while later the woman finished her meal and left, and about 20 minutes later Fred and I were ready for our check. The waitress told us that our meal had been paid for by the young woman sitting next to us! We were agog. I inquired about the tip, and the waitress said that, too, had been taken care of. She further explained that the woman had called her over earlier, when paying her own check, and asked that the waitress not say a word to us until the woman had long since left the restaurant; she wanted to pay for our meal. The waitress thought that the woman was paying forward a kindness that she had received. We were appreciative, looked around and realized we would never find the woman to thank her in person, and concluded that the best thanks was for us to eventually pay it forward as well. 

Truly a special trip with our son, capped off by the kindness and generosity of a stranger, followed by a JetBlue flight where the pilot tells us to prepare for some turbulence as we neared New York and then flies us in with skillful calm. Ahhh…

And so this adventure has wound down, but there will be more adventures to come! Our son doesn't know it yet (but he will when he reads this!), we are already contemplating renting a house on Vancouver Island…

Meanwhile, the map Fred first drafted many months ago in the dark of winter when we were starting to dream about this trip, and the cover of Fred's journal, which he drew at the start.


The big red pin marks the start of our day; the red arrows show our multiple destinations…

Our son had numerous places in Vancouver that he wanted to share with us, as this was his second visit to the city. Heading out in the morning for one conservatory we wound up first at VanDusen Botanical Garden where the welcoming message on the entry doors echoed the Museum of Anthropology message of "Everything depends on everything else." that we viewed the day before.

Our destination was the Bloedel Conservatory, located amid the colorful gardens of Queen Elizabeth Park, the "city of Vancouver's highest point." We walked one of the many paths leading uphill to the Conservatory, a domed paradise of flowers, fauna and colorful birds, some the likes of which we had never seen before.

On our way to the next location we stopped at Granville Island, a place Fred had discovered while doing research about Vancouver. This is a vibrant area of activity, blending outdoor entertainment with stores of indigenous arts, the Granville Public Market where vendors sell fresh fruits and vegetables, desserts, and locally made products such as hats, soaps and jewelry. We lunched in the Market, then sat ourselves outdoors to enjoy a folk singer before wandering through the many shops.

For a taste of what was to come at our final location we drove around Stanley Park and then headed to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park for an astonishing bit of walking! First it was the suspension bridge, a 450 foot long bridge that moves and grooves with the people who walk across it, sometimes swaying sideways and sometimes seeming still. I do not remember much of the scenery below us but the scenery around us was striking and we would soon find ourselves up in the magnificent trees!

Traversing the suspension bridge brings its own satisfaction which is enhanced by what comes next: walking the Treetops. Ahh, to be up high among the trees, the air pure, the knees just a tad wobbly! We had no recourse but to cap off our walk with a snack before returning over the suspension bridge to begin our third and final walk.

The Cliffwalk is a marvel of engineering "stretching its way 700 feet along Capilano Canyon." It's also billed as "not for the faint of heart." Both descriptions are one-hundred percent accurate! The photo below barely does it any justice so I highly recommend you view the site's pictures to get some sense of the walk's majesty. Thankfully our son and Fred were both able to enjoy the view in all directions; I was more focused on looking straight ahead (most of the time)!

Our day's outing was capped off by a return to Stanley Park and dinner at The Teahouse in Stanley Park where we savored a salmon dinner as fine as the one we enjoyed at Anthony's Hearthfire Grill in Olympia, WA on the second evening of our Pacific Northwest adventure. Arriving a bit early we took advantage of the waterside paths to stroll the shore and enjoy the scenery. Equally striking, for different reasons, were the oil tankers waiting in the harbor and the open access to a beach, ample and wide cycling and walking paths, and proximity to the coast. The flowers were our table's centerpiece and a fitting statement to a most colorful, exhilarating, enjoyable day!