Tuesday, 28 June 2011

A Case Of Gansett

Good ideas on the drafting table don't always succeed in actuality.
Gansett, a converted and restored 50 foot lobster hull, plied the waters last summer between the harbors of Stonington and Watch Hill. Part-ferry service and part-tour guide, the 25 minute narrated trips served up such local favorites as Narragansett Beer and Del's Lemonade, while transporting passengers to-and-from Dodsons Boatyard and the Watch Hill Docks.

Upon first learning of this last year, I thought it was a wonderful idea. Though separated by just three miles of water, a trip by land between the two villages is nearly 12 miles, and includes the added hassles of beach traffic and parking. Arriving by car, day trippers and weekenders were likely to stay put.
Also, many travelling yachtsmen with a limited schedule visit one of the harbors, but rarely the two; preferring not to waste a day of travel on another nearby port. The Gansett provided the opportunity to visit both towns, regardless of where you dropped anchor.

So, I was saddened last week when I learned the Gansett has moved her operations back to Newport, Rhode Island for 2011. Disappointed, but not entirely surprised. With tickets priced at $25, the fares were too expensive for a short ferry ride.* 
As a tour boat, the trip seemed too limited in scope to draw mass appeal. While Gansett was the only excursion boat serving Watch Hill and Stonington, nearby Mystic offers a slew of choices ranging from schooners to 19th-century steamboats. It is a competitive field.  
Hopefully the waters of Newport provide a more lucrative home for Gansett this season. She is a pretty boat which has been meticulously restored, and I can't help but think she'll strike gold somewhere. 
As for a ferry serving Watch Hill and Stonington....I still think it's a good idea...at least on paper!  

New London Day: New Ferry Service (June 2010)
Grab A Gansett: Vintage Beer Ads

*Since each excursion/ferry boat offers something unique, prices alone are not always a fair comparison. Still, I thought they were worth noting. A one-hour tour of the Thimble Islands is priced at $10; a round-trip ticket on the North Ferry, connecting Shelter Island with Greenport costs $8; and a 2.5-hour sail on the schooner Argia costs $42. Of course, none of these boats serve Narragansett Beer.

SUNDAY WALK, July 3rd - 2pm

We have a walk this SUNDAY (just for a change) at 2pm, starting from the hamlet of Parcou near Plonevez-du-Faou. Alice Murphy will show us the beautiful countryside around about and then there'll be a chance for refreshments at her lovely house, which has been adapted to provide accommodation for walkers (and others), an enterprise she runs together with husband Eric. The walk is short (6kms) and easy-going on country tracks through very attractive scenery.
DIRECTIONS: from the mini-roundabout at the north end of Plonovez main street take the Lannedern road but then turn left very soon after (Parcou signed amongst other hamlets). Continue ahead for just over a kilometre and then Parcou is signed to the left.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Mystic Drawbridge 7:45 A.M.

The lobsters will have to wait!

At 20-minutes before-the-hour, a whistle blows in downtown Mystic, and a pair of crossing gates stop traffic on Route 1. Moments later, the Mystic Drawbridge begins to rise.

A fixture in town since 1920, this counter-weighted, bascule bridge provides clearance for the ships of Mystic Seaport, as well as creating a spectacle for tourists walking the main street. On busy weekends, visitors with ice-cream cones and shopping bags stop what they are doing, to watch the drawbridge open for ships named Sabino and Argia.  The ships pass, the bridge is then lowered, and vacation-life resumes.

For the residents of Mystic, it is a more complicated relationship. There's an internal clock attached to every errand planned. You always seem to arrive someplace twenty-minutes early, or ten-minutes late. When you find yourself in an absolute hurry, the bridge will be open - guaranteed.

But these inconveniences have their sweet rewards. No matter the circumstance, and regardless of the true reason, residents all carry a solid, ace-in-the-hole alibi for when they are not on-time:

"Sorry I'm late, boss (honey, Mom, Your Honor, etc)...... the bridge was up".

Wikipedia: Mystic River Bascule Bridge

WTNH: Renovations for Mystic Drawbridge

New England Traveler: Mystic Bridge is a Real Draw


Saturday, 25 June 2011

Weekly Picture Project: Weeks 21-23 (U,V,W)

Well, I'm getting close to finishing this project--in fact, the "Y" week ends tomorrow, so after next week I'll post up X,Y, and Z. Today I'll get U,V, and W. It's been a good, fun challenge to get three or four letter-themed pictures each week, but I've gotten behind on posting them (although I've been good about keeping up to date with actually taking the pictures). So, here we go:


Unnecessary: "Whipping Cream" / "For whipping" / "The photography shows a suggestion of consumption"
Stop. Shut up. Shut up. You had me at "whipping."

Ughhhh: I was really full this evening, after eating a delicious meal at our Belgian friends' house.

Underexposed Underwear: I worked with the +/- button on the camera to adjust the exposure.


Vignette: Our blue camera has a function that gives pictures a vignette effect. This is the result when you point it at our napkin holder.

Vertical: A bar stool in our kitchen.

Vegemite: Thanks to Lucy for the Vegemite and for the modeling!

Vegemite: Ready for its close-up!


Weeds 1: A dandelion behind the Formerly Crappy Casita.

Weeds 2: More weeds.

Water 1: At a river near Berlin. This is the bridge.

Water 2: Sofie and Thijs' son Andres, splashing in the water.

So, that's it for the moment. Keep checking back for pictures and blog fun! Have a great day!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Ride The Lightning

It was storming over the wrongly-named Pacific Ocean last night, so I spent about an hour taking (or trying to take) 183 pictures of lightning. It's not as easy as one might think. In any case, I put the 12 that turned out the best on Flickr, and there's something about each picture that I like. Feel free to check them  out if you want.

Mill Dam Bridge in Centerport

Spanning the tidal-flats of Centerport Harbor, the Mill Dam Bridge has a history as old as our country itself. A tide-mill and dam were constructed here in 1774, which replaced an earlier mill built just south of this site in 1674.  Although the mill is long gone, the bridge and dam have been reincarnated several times in the last century. 
Its most recent form, built in 2005, may be the most inviting. Designed with accessibility and aesthetics in mind, there is stonework and detail often not found in public works today. At several points, the sidewalks widen to create viewing areas of both the harbor and the sluice gates below. Both ends of the bridge have small pocket-parks with benches, and various bric-a-brac. 

It's not just a utilitarian bridge and dam - it's a place to spend a little time. It's the Camden Yards of Long Island Sound bridges.

I suppose Centerport Harbor is one of those settings that would be beautiful regardless of the bridge which was built. Still, it is nice to see structures which compliment the surroundings, rather than detract. And it's especially heartening to see city fathers and planners trying to appeal to public-access kooks like me. 

Jarvis House: Mill Dam Bridge (Lori put together a collection of wintertime photos)
Boating Times: Centerport Harbor

photo credit: Wikipedia

MORE holiday pics

Thanks to Chris for these fine images.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Spartacus: Here the Gladiator Fought for Life

My husband wanted to visit the Amphitheater of Capua after he watched the American film about Spartacus.
I've just visited some amphitheaters before. That of Pozzuoli, of Pompei. What can I say you? As in most similar places, you know WHAT it is, you understand it. But you don't feel it. Because those are ruins.

Amphitheater of Capua impresses you because it is partially so as it was in the times of it's splendour. Externally and in the undergrounds. Actually, it's the second large amphitheater after Colosseus. And this one was probably built similar to the Capuan amphitheater.

To be precise, it's not the same building where Spartacus fought. This amphitheater was built about 2 centuries later. But this one was built on  the same place.

Amphiteater Spartacus Italia

Amphiteater Spartacus Italia

Amphiteater Spartacus Italia

Amphiteater Spartacus Italia

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Fathers' Day

In case you're interested (or part of the family), you can check out some Fathers' Day pictures on my flickr account. It was a nice evening!

Good walk today and our holiday photos!

We had a really good walk today at Chateauneuf-du-Faou, with esteemed regulars, lovely newcomers (Kathy) and a returning BWalker (Steve) from our earliest days all those years ago. The weather was dry, even if the sun didn't exactly smile on us. Thanks to everyone - great afternoon.
For those who'd like to see our holiday photos from the Gulf of Morbihan, please cut and paste this weblink below to see Monique's album (then click 'diaporama' for the automatic slideshow to begin) - there are some fabulous pictures there and we thank her very much for recording our exploits so well once again.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

"The Gift That Keeps On Giving": A Play in One Act

Cast of Characters:
Jane: A charming young woman, with tragic taste in Fathers' Day gifts
Pete: A charming young man, swashbuckler
Orange Julius Crier
Beautiful Girl
Mall Patrons and/or Dregs of Society

Scene: "Suburbia, U.S.A."

Act I, Scene 1

As the curtain rises, we see a bench at a mall. There is hustle, bustle, and the sound of the criers at Orange Julius offering their wares. 

Orange Julius Crier (From offstage): Juliuses! Juliuses! Orange and Strawberry Juliuses, now on offer to tempt your taste buds! We also have hot dogs! 

(The voice of the crier fades out, and we see our two protagonists enter the stage from opposing sides. Jane is preoccupied sending a text message, and Pete gets temporarily distracted by a beautiful girl working at the Lady Foot Locker. As they move closer, they finally see each other.)

Jane: Hey Pete! Pete! What's up?

Pete: Oh, hi Jane! Not much. Say, what's that you've got in that bag there?

Jane: Oh, this? It's a tie that looks like a piano keyboard. It's Fathers' Day, remember? I'm going to give it to my dad later today.

Pete: Another tie that looks like a piano keyboard?? I hope you're going to be giving him some sort of alcohol first, to numb his senses and help him forget what a disappointing gift-giver his daughter's become!

Jane: Well, there's no need to be mean about it, but you're right, actually. I know that my father's a traveling magician and keyboard player, but I think he's been faking his enthusiasm about the last couple of keyboard ties I gave him. But I just can't think of anything better! What e'er shall I do?!

Pete: Gosh, Jane, looks like you've got yourself tied up, but I think I just might have the solution for you! 

Jane: Oh, if you could help me, I'd owe you so big time.

Pete: I have the perfect gift for you; why not get your old man a lovely set of German loanwords from the Sitzman ABC Platinum Collection?

Jane: Pete, that's the perfect Fathers' Day gift, obviously, but how will I ever be able to afford it? Will I have to sell my hair to get money to buy those German loanwords? They must cost a fortune!

Pete: Absolutely not--you get to keep that lovely hair right on your head! That's the best thing about the Platinum Collection at Sitzman ABC: It's completely free! So instead of giving your dad some crappy tie, why not give him something he'll use and enjoy? The Platinum Collection from Sitzman ABC has so many wonderful, elegant German loanwords, and they're all gathered together into one convenient package. It's got almost too many words to mention here, but you'll get beautiful words like kindergarten, delicatessen, realpolitik, angst, gesundheit...

Jane (interrupts excitedly): What about schadenfreude?

Pete: You bet your ass you get schadenfreude

Jane: I'm sold! I'd better get there soon--but where's there store? The mall maps are always so hard to read! 

Pete: Jane, that's the best part! The German loanwords collection from Sitzman ABC's Platinum Collection is available exclusively online at Sitzman ABC, which means that you won't have to go to the mall and interact with the dregs of society just to get a decent Fathers' Day gift!

(They hold hands, and turn together and walk slowly towards the mall exit.)

Jane: Oh, Pete, that's wonderful! (Pause) And I know you'll make a great father, too!

Pete: A great... a great... whaaat?

Jane (quietly, looking down): A father, Pete.

Pete (perplexed, almost in a whisper): But how can this be?

Jane: I think you know how, Pete.

Pete: I told you that drinking coconut milk and chamomile tea wasn't a form of birth control! Ach, Schei�e!

(As they quietly walk out of the mall, the curtain drops.) 

Quinnipiac River Park

North of Interstate-95, above the Ferry Street Bridge, the decaying industry along New Haven's Quinnipiac River gives way to this historic stretch of waterfront. With a high concentration of 19th-century homes, the neighborhoods of Fair Haven, and Fair Haven Heights are a modern day reminder of New Haven's maritime past.  
This was once a prominent oyster port, with wharves and sheds lining both sides of the river. Related industries, such as shipbuilding and barrel making, thrived as well. By the 1840's, the neighborhood became a leading center for processing and trading, as oysters arrived from as far away as the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. 
Today, things are a bit quieter here, but the oystering lives on, albeit on a lesser scale. Taking in the view from Quinnipiac River Park, I could see an oyster boat quietly at rest, with a tell-tale pile of shells rising behind her. A limited and diminished reminder of a once dominant past.

New Haven Preservation Trust: Quinnipiac Historic District 
CT Coastal Access Guide: Quinnipiac River Park
Mystic Seaport: New Haven Sharpie

Walk at Chateauneuf-du-Faou, Tuesday 21st June

We have one of BWs favourite walks on Tuesday, 21st June, starting at 2pm from the parking by the bridge over the Aulne below the pretty hill town of Chateauneuf-du-Faou. This is a straightforward route along towpaths on an especially beautiful section of the Nantes-Brest canal, with a short uphill stretch on an old Roman road to allow great views of the Chateau of Tr�varez. We cross the river at a lock with a pedestrian bridge. NOTE: after the recent wet weather, appropriate footwear needed!
All welcome.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Sunglasses and waterproof trousers

Despite wild weather swings we managed to see a wide variety of coastal scenery and cultural sites on our coastal walking holiday in the Gulf of Morbihan. Instead of a barometer we watched Sue to see if she was putting on her sunglasses or waterproof trousers. On the last day a good meal at the beautiful port of St-Goustan at Auray surprisingly won the vote against a hike in the driving rain.
Thanks to all for a great trip and lots of hilarious moments

Thursday, 16 June 2011

What's Going On On This Side?

Since I know you've likely got a lot of time on your hands, I thought I'd mention my Sitzman ABC blog. Many of you have possibly seen it or heard me mention it, but if you've not checked it out yet, consider doing so. 

I originally made the site geared towards my students, so it had a lot of tips about the English language, but I've recently tried to make it more about languages and language learning in general, so there may be something that's interesting for you, even if you're a native speaker. I've talked about podcasts, the free Kindle program for your computer or cell phone, recommended web sites, and, most recently, loanwords (hence the picture here). Additionally, I've started to provide more resources for people who want to learn Spanish, German, or Swedish.

So, if you've not gone to the blog, maybe you should. What if you miss something incredible? Plus, if you have any suggestions of topics related to language I could write about, I'd be happy to hear from you. You can even "like" the page on Facebook or follow it on Twitter. Thanks for reading, and I'll hope to see you there sometime soon! 

Connecticut River Shad

Did you know there is a commercial fishery for shad on the Connecticut River? Seasonal, small-scale, and often hidden from view, the fishery goes largely unnoticed with the exception of a random shad bake. American shad normally return to the Connecticut River sometime in late April and continue through June. Once the river warms up, the shad spawn, and the season comes to an end.

Tucked away on the river's bank near the Rocky Hill Ferry is Hale's Shad. It's an unassuming type of place,to say the least: just a bare counter-top, a list of prices, and some photocopied recipes taped to the wall. Hale's stays open during the spring run, selling nothing but shad, roe, and something called shad milt.

"Marketed" as an aphrodisiac, every customer at Hale's got a sales pitch for shad milt while I was there. Having already eaten six oysters for lunch, I didn't want to get carried away, so I politely said "no thanks".

Wikipedia: American Shad

UMassEdu: Poor Man's Salmon

Map: Hale's Shad

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Picture of the Day Catch-Up: May 2011

Wow, how did I get over a month behind on posting these Pictures of the Day? I guess I was busy tweeting. In any case, here are the Pictures of the Day from May. Enjoy!

May 1: I know I already posted this picture of Cristina, Ruben, and Andy, but I wanted to post the whole month of May.

May 2: This is a huge moth that was hanging from the step on our back porch. It was pretty impressive.

May 3: A medallion of John Paul II that my friend Dario had. Also a star of David.

May 4: Some tasty cookies that I baked up.

May 5: This is the view of Orotina and San Mateo from our house. It's not exactly the best picture of the day, but I like it 'cause you can see the Gulf of Nicoya. Once again, we had a ridiculously, stupidly beautiful sunset here in Berlin.

May 6: It was a long day. I had to plan for my Saturday classes after I got back home from my Friday evening class.

May 7: I had noticed recently that my flickr account was close to 100,000 views (which is nothing, actually, compared to many people who use it). But for a non-professional who mainly puts up pictures of his food and his cat, it was kind of an impressive-looking number for me.

May 8: The day I stop laughing at fat, bug-eyed dogs is the day I give up everything I believe in. I took these pictures on a day-trip to Heredia. We went there with Angela's folks to visit two of her aunts.

May 9: Angela's cousin Luciano came over for a few days to do some finishing work on the Formerly Crappy Casita. We made a little storage area in the back, and it looks great now!

May 10: I was waiting for Angela's class to finish up, and had neither book nor computer for an hour. So I looked through every single option on both of my cameras. I actually learned quite a lot.

May 11: Andy made this delicious dinner. We decided it'd show up as something like the "Fiesta Platter" on a menu.

May 12: Getting closer to finishing "The Stand," my 1,200-page Stephen King behemoth in German (thus the name "Das Letzte Gefecht"). It's good, just really, really long.

May 13: My father-in-law Honorio with a lunch Angela made (complete with a "pollito"). He came over and he and I built a fence in the back and part of the side of our lot. It was hard work, I tell ya!

May 14: Some students in my Saturday afternoon class. I was looking for "S" pictures for my Weekly Picture Project. I should have set a higher ISO to combat the fuzziness, but at the time it looked OK. Oh well. In any case, I've taught this group 4 times, and they're some of my favorite and best students I've had!

May 15: Andy and I watched "The Limey," and for some reason I thought it'd be witty if I took a picture of the title screen with two limes. It wasn't really. Terrence Stamp would probably beat the crap out of me if he knew about it.

May 16: I spent a good part of the day with these two things, unfortunately. In fact, I read 30% of "Red Alert," the book that "Dr. Strangelove" was based on, while on the toilet (I only know this because the Kindle uses percentages rather than page numbers).
You can now make your own joke about "dropping bombs," but it wasn't funny at all at the time.

May 17: "My arsenal." Still not feeling very good.

May 18: This is likely the crappiest Picture of the Day I've taken in the last year and a half. I started the project a year and a half ago, so you're looking at the crappiest picture of the day EVER! In any case, it's a cracked tile between our garage and entry hall. The crack came during the recent tremor, a 6.0 one earlier in the week.

May 19: I was looking for "T" pictures, so I got one with time (and a tripod and a timer!).

May 20: I wrote a review of three albums, so I wanted an image to go with it. This is a reflection of me in my computer.

May 21: A basil plant in our kitchen.

May 22: My sister-in-law Antonieta (Toni). She's very nice, and she came over today to give us some tacos and breadsticks she'd made. They were delicious!

May 23: A fan that we have in our living room. I believe we got it in Madrid, strangely enough.

May 24: These two words are difficult for some English learners to pronounce correctly. Words like these two are called minimal pairs. Thanks to Andy for wearing the bag!

May 25: I read this book at the beginning of the year, but then I wanted to find what Klosterman mentioned about Garth Brooks. I ended up re-reading the book.

May 26: A Bougainvillea plant in our yard. Here it's called "veranera."

May 27: A roasry-type thing in a classroom at the school where I work. During the day there's a 5th grade class there, I think. Definitely no separation of church and state.

May 28: Angela's sitting at the end of this hall after teaching all day. It was a long day, and there was a childrens' fair (hence the used-car dealership-type ribbons).

May 29: Two pairs of shoes that recently got mold. Surely not the last pairs that will get mold before November/December. I hate this rainy season.

May 30: Some underwear. I was looking for "U" pictures this week, but had trouble. The leftover today is underexposed, too, so I guess that counts as another "U."

May 31: This bar stool that we have reminds me of a droid... or maybe it's Johnny 5. Either way, some robot from a movie.

So, that's it for today. Hopefully there was something interesting for you! Thanks for reading, and have a great day!