Monday, August 29, 2011
Upon returning from Burlington, my brother and I met up with my parents and took a stroll through downtown St. Johnsbury, where my Memere lives. Its main drag is lined with historic buildings populated with small shops and boutiques.
Look! A random table and chair!
We ventured to my favorite bookstore in St. J, Boxcar & Caboose. In front of the bookstore stood a gathering of pre-teens singing hits from the sixties. Also in front of the bookstore stood a middle-aged lady still high from the sixties dancing and singing along with the aforementioned pre-teens. While her slurred speech was somewhat tricky to decipher, it's safe to say she was reliving the good times while simultaneously scaring the children. That's what we call entertainment, folks.
We maneuvered past the chorus and the crazy and I honed in on exactly what I was looking for in the beloved Boxcar & Caboose:
A book by Stephen Huneck, a man who was a local children's author and illustrator. This is now Caleb's favorite book.
We elbowed our way past crazy lady once again and continued our stroll. And then my feet started to hurt. And then I realized I was wearing really horrible shoes for walking. I could feel the blisters desperately trying to make an appearance, so I plopped down in the nearest random outdoor chair I could find (not nearly as plushy as the aforementioned random-chair) and my brother photographed me looking pathetic.
I was just desperate enough to maybe buy a new pair of shoes, so I ducked into one of the local shoe boutiques, saw that their cheapest pair of shoes was a cool $80, and promptly ducked back out. That was precious money I could be spending on Dunkin' Donuts, so I endured the blisters.
We meandered back to the car (with a few minutes still left on the meter--booyah!) and I blissfully stretched out in the back seat, giving my feet a rest. We headed out of St. J to the nearby town (township? village? cluster of houses?) of Passumpsic, to eat dinner with my Uncle Jim and Aunt Sheri in their perfect old farmhouse.
Old chimneys, old windows, wood floors, tons of history ... perfect. And this is their perfect backyard:
(My Mom and her twin, probably pointing out the perfect waterfall beneath the perfect bank that descends from their perfect yard.)
(I'm slightly jealous of her house.)
We sat on the backyard in the perfect evening air and enjoyed the perfection of being together.
The night was complete with a perfect bowl of cherries.
We ate dinner, talked for a long time, and then headed back to the hotel to get ready for the next day's big event: Memere's 90th birthday party.
Have a lovely day.
(A perfect stained-glass tree in their perfect window.)
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I know, I know, this is supposed to be another installment of my Vermont trip. Just hang in there with me a bit. I got hit with the pregnancy blues this past weekend and I've been trying to pull myself up by my bootstraps for the past few days. I'm feeling better, but I'm not a fan of what I'm assuming are hormone surges that suddenly make me a sobby, lethargic mess.
Sobby, lethargic mess. Oy, how pathetic!
But, how telling. Really.
I just tell myself that the baby had growth spurt. Overly Emotional = Hormone Surge = Growth Spurt. Totally makes sense, right?
All that to say, raising babies and fostering relationships and keeping up le maison has taken up most of time. I have a lot of faith that my creativity hormone will surge soon, so don't lose hope.
Until then, pass the chocolate milk.
Have a lovely day, friends!
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
After finishing the three hour trek, we climbed out of the car, got lots of kisses from Memere and my Aunties, and enjoyed an evening of catching up and crying and the like. It was so sweet to see them again. My brother had flown in and we caught up, too.
Then we went to bed. And woke up. And it was the third day.
My brother had a business meeting at Seventh Generation headquarters in Burlington, Vermont, and kindly asked them if I could attend, since he knows I am a huge fan of their products and their mission. I was slightly ridiculously giddy.
It also meant an hour in the car with my brother, which, twenty years ago, would have meant certain death for one of us. But now that we are growed up and like each other, it was great.
There is basically one way to Burlington from St. Johnsbury and that one way was jammed with construction traffic. I felt this gentleman's pain.
We made it to the lobby of 7G (as my brother, who is so much cooler than I, referred to it) with a minute to spare. We were kindly greeted, offered water, and then given a tour of the facility.
Y'all. I was in heaven.
If you want to talk about environmental sustainability, these guys are hardcore. Every last employee is encouraged and motivated to create personal goals to make choices that positively impact the environment. They even compost in the office kitchen. The atmosphere is relaxed but focused and I definitely got the impression that these guys are passionate about making products that are effective and environmentally responsible. A tricky task in the face of the ammonia our moms used to mop our kitchen floors.
I can't go into detail about the meeting, but I can tell you that I was able to meet some higher-ups who were kind, intelligent, and engaging. As I wolfed down my organic blueberry muffin and dug through the bowl of fresh strawberries they had setting out for us, I nodded emphatically at some of their suggestions. And I'm sure I blushed like a dork when they asked for my input on a few things. If they were just being nice in doing so, then so be it! They are nice!
They even gave us each a 7G (woot) Klean Kanteen and notepad. Delightful.
Since I did not want to be a mega-creeper and photograph their entire facility (I'm sure my camera would have been kindly confiscated), I only snapped a few of the atrium inside the facility. It was bright and cheery and very much representative of my visit there.
I wish I could go into more detail, but I will just tell you this: I'm more convinced than ever that this is an intentional, authentic company with goals that trickle down from product manufacturing to personal trash cans. They know what they're doing, and they're doing it right.
Next up: The rest of Vermont!
Have a lovely day.
Monday, August 22, 2011
While on the road to Vermont, we survived primarily on these:
I blame my Dunkin' Donuts obsession on my Mom. The must-have combo of an old-fashioned donut with a cup of joe, two creams two sugars ... it's all her fault. And I love her for it. Krispy Kremes? Pleh. Unfortunately, KK is all we have around here in OK and fortunately, I don't indulge.
Anyway. Where was I? Oh yes. The road.
We left Maine behind us and drove through the lovely birth state of my brother: New Hampshire. I hung out the window and took a picture of this as we sped by:
And then stopped taking pictures because holding the camera while in motion was making me car sick. The views were breathtaking and a stop for a hike would have been wonderful, but we were on a bit of a time schedule and had to hurry.
Well, except for one quick stop for lunch. Because man cannot live on Dunkin' Donuts alone, shocking as it is. We exited for Littleton and parked in front of this church:
After fishing around in our pockets for more change to feed the parking meter (why, WHY did we forget that all of New England is metered parking?), we locked up the rental and stretched our legs down the main street of downtown Littleton, New Hampshire.
What I noticed first were the gorgeous flowers bursting to life up and down the street. In dry Oklahoma, everything is dead, including our poor evergreen that Cub refers to as his "Christmas Tree". So the punches of color were actually quite shocking, and a very welcomed sight, too.
Downtown Littleton is wonderfully eclectic. Old buildings, new boutiques, and the personality of a small town make it very inviting. I like Littleton.
I took the following picture because a picture of the sign was the only thing I could afford. I didn't torture myself by actually stepping foot into the boutique.
This next sign was a little more up my ally, but, unfortunately, it was not Sunday when we were there. On the banks of the Ammonoosuc River? Sweet!
One of the wonderfully unique and purposeful things that I witnessed while in LNH was this splendid array of brightly decorated pianos lining Main Street, all bearing the same logo: Be Glad, Make Music. Any passerby could hop on a bench and start playing and we had the pleasure of viewing such a sight. It was awesome.
And, while the flowers were breathtaking and the pianos were inspiring, we really had one singular goal for stopping in Littleton:
There is nothing flashy or spectacular about this diner, except that it is delicious and it's been around forever. My parents used to frequent this place when they lived in St. Johnsbury (Vermont), since Littleton is just a hop skip and a jump away. I was happy that they took me to a place where they had history. And a place that served such a great burger.
I'd like to say I was lady-like and ate the universal female-approved half-portion, but I was not. I ate the entire burger and most of the onion rings. But, I drank water, so that should count for something right?
After dabbing our mouths with our napkins and thanking our waitress, we hit the pavement once again and headed back to the car. We climbed in, bid adieu to Littleton and its offerings, and journeyed the final small stretch of road to our ultimate destination: Vermont.
Have a lovely day.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
I think it's appropriate to give you a bit of a history regarding my love affair with the Northeast. My Mom is from Vermont and her siblings and mother still live there. We first came to Vermont when I was four and we've visited every few years since then, so much so that this part of the country is very dear to me. Even though I was born in California and spent twelve years there, I would rather bring my husband and my kids to New England, because I have such a strong family identity there.
So, let's begin. Maine.
I do not remember the first time I came to Maine (a visit to Maine usually accompanied our visits to Vermont), but I do remember the first time we visited York, Maine. I was in high school and wore a faded green Boondogs shirt (my favorite garage band at the time). There is a picture of me, somewhere, stuffing lobster in my mouth while wearing that shirt. I fell in love with York in that short visit.
Since then, we've made it a point to come back, whenever we fly to New England. This year was no different. My parents and I flew into Boston, rented our car, hopped on the freeway, and headed straight to York. Our first stop? Fox's Lobster House. Our favorite.
The bibs are so catchy.
I ate all of my lobster, a bowl of clam chowder, more than a few bites of my Dad's haddock, and the homemade coleslaw. Needless to say, after a day of flying and a fair share of driving, the baby was NOT happy to see all of that richness slide into my tummy, and I promptly lost it when we got to our hotel room. But, was it worth it? Yes. Yes it was.
The next morning we drove to the seaport side of the town and ate breakfast at the place we always eat breakfast whilst in York: The Purple Palace. The fig waffles alone are worth the flight.
We ventured around downtown, picking up some classy souvenirs along the way (no, I did not buy this hat, although I do find it to be quite fetching, don't you?).
One of our favorite stops is Goldenrod Kisses, an old-fashioned candy store and diner. They make their own taffy and fudge, so we felt compelled to stock up. You know, support the local economy and such. Their sea pebbles, which are chocolate candies, are delicious. They also carry Stonewall Kitchen delicacies. Their pepper jelly is quite wonderful. Stonewall Kitchens is actually located in York, which makes me love York all the more, since I am a huge Stonewall fan here in Oklahoma. Do y'all ever do that cream cheese party hors d'oeuvre where you dump a jar of jelly/jam/etc. on a cube of cream cheese and eat it with crackers? Maybe? Anyway, Stonewall is my favorite brand of "fancy" jelly for my version of "poor man's caviar"!
Then, it was beach time.
(Aren't my parents cute?)
One of my favorite things about Maine is its wild beauty. And that wild beauty runs straight to the sea. Spending my childhood in SoCal where the desert meets the sea, it was always amazing to me to see fields of wildflowers brush right up against the beaches in Maine. Its untamed wilds are gorgeous, really.
We walked the beach and drank in that strong, salty smell of the Atlantic. With the sun on my face, I closed my eyes and imagined the day I will bring my kids here. I can see it--sandy swimsuits, fingers sticky from saltwater taffy. I can't wait.
With the parking meter running low, we loaded up the car, blew a kiss to our favorite vacation state, and started the three hour trek to Vermont.
Have a lovely day.