Sunday, January 31, 2010

Not The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

January and February have always been, for me, the time of year where I get a bit down. This is probably due to the fact that the festivities of the holidays are over, and that there is still a long stretch of winter ahead of me before spring arrives. But then, wintertime is probably my second favorite season after fall, so why do I hate January and February so much? Especially February. I can’t think of any childhood trauma that is linked to this, and the sun is staying up longer every day, so it’s not seasonal affective disorder, either. Maybe it’s because it’s around this time of year that I reflect on my life and see how much I have not achieved as yet another year has ended. Perhaps it’s because I look ahead to the year and become overwhelmed with all the things that I am going to have to do. Anyway, this manifests itself in my being moody, introverted, and totally pessimistic in my attitude about everything. It’s hard to fight, and I am sure JC finds it less than amusing to live with, but sweetheart that he is, he never says anything and lets me have my bad mood. Whatever the reason, it just happens, so it will be a few more weeks  before I start to feel cheerful again. In the meantime I try to focus on the positive things in my life.

#1: It’s cold. Positive, you ask? Well, yes, I like the cold weather, as long as I have a good coat and good socks and boots. There’s just something that makes me feel alive and happy about being outside in the cold. And no, I do not feel happy when it’s hot outside. Yuck. We have been spending quite a bit of time outdoors this winter and there are some fascinating sights. Yesterday on our walk with Luna we went to a favorite place of ours, Lincoln Woods State Park. This week it has been colder than normal, so we haven’t been as happy about it as we usually are:


It was so cold that the lake was totally frozen over. There were quite a few skaters and ice fishermen out there, but we did not venture onto the ice ourselves. The area where we live is weird in that we don’t get much snow, but we get lots of ice and cold, spitting storms. I had to pull out my storm trooper mask so my face wouldn’t freeze:

And JC busted out the full on winter parka. Luna is probably the only one of us that was happy about the temperature:


#2: The Young Women of my church had an activity yesterday where they started taking lessons on how to use a sewing machine.


Look at that great old machine! The girls did well and learned how to sew their first straight line—something that I still have a hard time with after all these years! They were so proud and now they can’t wait until the next lesson. It was great fun.


I am still working hard at bringing cheer into the season—I’ve still got all of February to get through! Until then, my snarly self is ascendant.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

GARI: Ten Mile River Greenway: Day 1

The sun is still going down pretty early for us, so mostly our walking/running has to happen on weekends. There is, however a small stretch of bikeway in Slater Park in Pawtucket. It is pretty close to where we live so yesterday we thought we could cover a 3-mile stretch that goes through the park before dark. We had a bit of a storm on Monday and it got rid of most of the snow and ice, but we are still definitely in the grip of winter. The Ten Mile River runs through Pawtucket and East Providence and, incidentally, follows the railroad tracks. This has been true of every trail we have been on so far, so I think we will find lots of connections between the Greenways and former or present-day railway lines.

So here we are:


It is pretty cold these days but we saw a huge amount of waterfowl on this walk, and it doesn't seem to bother them! Luna might have had a feast if she had not been leashed! Usually we see vast numbers of Canadian geese and we did see some but we saw mostly ducks and swans. Swans are not friendly creatures, as we learned on our walk last week, so we did not get close enough for photos. At this point it was starting to get dark so the images did not come out as well:




These two photos are taken going south on the pathway with Central Pond on the left. In the wintertime you can actually see a lot more of the pond than you can in spring and summer when the trees all have their leaves on.

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A little information about the area:




We have always liked the Rumford area because it is out of the main area of East Providence and out of Pawtucket but not quite in the country. There is still quite a factory presence here, and though you are 10 minutes from the capital city, it still feels like a small town.

We actually don't know where the rest of the Ten Mile Greenway is, and it might be that we just have to follow the river wherever it goes. It has always been a mystery to us, but we will put our investigative powers to work--we know it is out there to be found!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

GARI: Blackstone River Bike Path Day 2

Today we hiked   a 4.5 mile section of the Blackstone River Bike Path. Well, walked really, hiking infers some kind of incline and there wasn’t much of that.We started in Lincoln at the Blackstone River State Park and went up just past the Albion dam in Cumberland. We took shameless advantage of Luna and made her carry all her own water, since we had to carry our own!
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It was a lovely day, although a bit colder than last week. Some parts of the river are frozen over, but other parts run too quickly to freeze. We passed some interesting places on the way. First, the Martin Street Bridge in Lincoln. Hmmmm, how appropriate!IMG_0068
Continuing on down the trail, we passed this gigantic mill-looking building next to a gigantic bridge.
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The mills around here are usually pretty run down and abandoned-looking so this one made us wonder what was going on, since none of the windows were smashed and it looked like it had been kept-up. We soon found out why:
After reading the sign we looked across the river at the mill again and sure enough there were some people hanging out behind the giant mill with their dogs. I don’t know if I would ever want to live in a former mill, but I bet the view from the windows is spectacular.
Across the river from the mill is the Kelly House Museum, which is dedicated to the different types of transportation used along the Blackstone river. Pawtucket, RI, where I live, is called the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. So there are a lot of old mills and factories in the area. This museum talks about what part the Blackstone Canal, the railroad and the highway system played in the industrial history of the Blackstone River Valley.

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You can see how it might be difficult to transport anything on the canal in the wintertime. Anyway, at this point we crossed into Cumberland, on the other side of the river.

The path got a bit more rural here, and we got to see some of the local residents.

We finally made it to the dam, but it was a bit anticlimactic, after all the signs we had seen. We weren’t actually sure this was the place so we kept on going for awhile until a lady told us we had passed it awhile back. So now we know.
After our discovery it was time to have our lunch and head back. We wanted to get back before dark and it gets dark early here so by 2:45 we wanted to be on our way, since we had to get all the way back to the trailhead. I don’t think chicken salad sandwiches ever tasted so good! We did note, however, that next time a thermos of soup or something warm might be a bit more appropriate, since our hands were frozen solid after peeling oranges. 
Luna was pretty hungry as well, working dogs need their strength! Oranges and bananas are her favorite and she got a little bit of both today. (Someone’s daddy is a big softie)
We made pretty good time back to the car and were able to get out of the park by 4, and the sun was still up. It was starting to get colder, though, so we are glad we made it. 

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Of course we needed some water after all that—although we did ruin the moment a bit by starting the car to get it warmed up. Luna kept sniffing the air wondering what the stinky stuff coming out of the exhaust pipe and into her face was. Poor dog!
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We moved her bowl so she could drink unpollutedly, and all was well.
We still have about 9 miles to go to finish the route up to the Massachusetts border. We are all very tired tonight and will probably get a very good night’s sleep!!!! Till next time!

Monday, January 18, 2010


This week my score for Elijah came in the mail. The Tabernacle Choir sang selections from Elijah regularly, so I am not starting completely from scratch on this one. The symphony is doing this concert Easter weekend, and lest you think that three months is plenty of time to learn a piece of this size, let me just add that we are doing it memorized, and in German.
View Elijah

Now, in general I think languages are good, and have made a career of teaching them. But German has always stymied me.  Memorizing Beethoven’s 9th last summer was excruciating , and I only succeeded in memorizing it with about a thousand circuits of Lincoln Woods and my Ipod. Elijah is four times as long. Couldn’t we do something in Latin or Italian or something? At least then you can tell what it’s talking about and that helps solidify the word memorization. With German it’s just gibberish, lovely though it may be. 
We are doing three performances of Elijah (or I guess I should say Elias, let’s just begin the torture now)  in Symphony Hall and one in Carnegie Hall. I have never sung there before and have never actually been to New York City, so it is exciting. It petrifies me, though, that I might get there and totally flub the German on stage in Carnegie Hall!!! I suppose there are worse things, but that one is one of my worst nightmares. Potential embarrassment is a HUGE motivator for me, so it’s time to get to work.
Pages of German memorized: 0
Pages to go: 204
Ich muss helfen.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

GARI: Blackstone River Bike Path: Day 1

Today we began our 2010 resolution to hike/run all of the trails (or at least as many as we can) of the Greenways Alliance of Rhode Island. It was a gorgeous day today, around 40 degrees. (Yes, 40 degrees IS gorgeous, when the norm is 20.)  Some hold-over ice on the ground from a storm a few weeks ago has made hiking a little treacherous, but most of it had melted by this afternoon.
The Blackstone River Bike Path is currently under construction and the plan is for the trail to run from Providence all the way up to the Massachusetts border. There are about 7-10 miles of trail complete at this time, and today we kept to the area around Lincoln and Cumberland, RI.  This is the Blackstone River:
The Blackstone River
The river has a pretty fascinating history and was an integral part of Rhode Island’s industrial economy. More about that will be forthcoming!  It was surprising that we have lived in Rhode Island for 3 years and never knew this was here. Luna in particular was thrilled about the discovery, since it provides more opportunities for walks!
One interesting thing that we noticed was that this trail runs right through an urban area—right around that bend in the road lies one of Cumberland’s main streets, complete with shopping center, gas stations and a McDonalds. At least we won’t go hungry on this trail! Luna was enthralled with the river, as she is with any body of water. She jumped right in—not something we would do even if it is forty degrees outside. She also ran through a patch of cockleburrs so we had to have a bit of an extraction process at the end of it all.
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You  can see some old factory and other outbuildings in the background on the other side of the river. The stone steps we are standing on may have had some purpose way back when or maybe an enterprising fisherman just liked the spot and decided to make things easier for himself.  Just one of those things we want to find out about now!
We met quite a few other people who were eager to get outside after the cold weather we have been having. When we moved here from North Carolina we thought Rhode Islanders were a little bit unfriendly (who ISN’T unfriendly compared to Carolinians?), but all you have to do is get a big, goofy dog and go to where other people go to walk or run. Then people never stop talking to you.
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Next time we are going to follow the river north through Lincoln up to the Albion Dam. That one is going to be more of a day hike, our first big one of the year. Hopefully the snow will be all melted by that point, but this is New England, so you truly never do know. Till next time!

Monday, January 11, 2010

We Love Dogs

Last weekend JC and I went to visit the breeder from whom we got our girl Luna. Luna's mom just had another litter of puppies, so we decided to take the opportunity to visit 6 dogs instead of the usual three. Now, we didn't believe it until it happened to us, but never EVER take your checkbook when you are going to visit Berner babies. They are absolutely too adorable to resist. We ended up with Luna because we did not follow that rule! Fortunately it all turned out well, because we had planned on getting a dog, but we just got her a little earlier than we were ready for.

JC loves dogs. LOVES DOGS. He loves puppies, older dogs, ugly dogs, beautiful dogs. If it's canine, he loves it. He has been known to make chamomile tea for Luna when she has an upset stomach. Yes, it goes that far. He is completely in love with her and it is mutual. And I am nearly as bad. So you can imagine the fun JC had when we got to visit Luna's mom and dad and brothers and sisters. Well, see for yourself.

It's a good thing Berners like to be hugged about as much as he likes to hug them. But seriously, don't you want to take this home?

I did. Are we abnormal because we get dog hungry the way some people get baby hungry? Must be. But at least we are limiting ourselves to one until we have an actual house with an actual yard. And that will be awhile. So in the meantime, we will go dog visiting and leave that checkbook at home!