The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

Cape Cod Scrapbook August 28, 2014

“Cape Cod Scrapbook” is a companion post to the previous one, entitled “Two Weeks Gone”

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Finally…

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My Uncle Paul and his sister (my mother) Nancy, my son Elihu and my Aunt Sandy.

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Cousins Elihu and Rusty take off in search of sea life without a word of goodbye.

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This is the dock behind their house; at high tide the water comes much closer in.

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This is the small neighborhood beach. Just perfect at low tide to find critters.

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After our first brief visit, we all headed out to this local eatery.

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While we waited for our food, Elihu and I went out to the pier to hang with the fishermen.

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I think all eleven year old boys get a kick out of live fish.

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Aunt Sandy, Uncle Paul and mom at the end of a fine dinner of fresh, local seafood. The harbor is just outside.

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Elihu points out the location of the restaurant on this mural of what Wareham looked like over a hundred years ago.

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As painted by Nanci. Love it.

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A picturesque New England dock scene from the restaurant window.

IMG_1315If you’re ever in Wareham, Massachusetts, stop by Narrow’s Crossing and get the whole fried clams.

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The following morning we found a nice little breakfast joint in the neighboring town of Onset.

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We’re at the Pier View Restaurant. The bay is right behind mom and Elihu.

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Note the Linguica. It’s a Portuguese sausage, usually kinda spicy, always tasty. (Dig the great prices, too.)

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Mom’s not usually down with me making changes to the menu, but I requested that my Eggs Benedict be made with the local linguica instead of ham. I suggested that they might want to call it “Eggs Elizabeth” should it become a hit.

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And here’s the handsome man who carried out my culinary wish.

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We’re not at our family’s beach here, but rather another, more expansive stretch of coast about two miles away to the Southeast. I preferred it as it was much more wide open than the small neighborhood beach, it was sparsely populated and there was lots of sand.

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We fed the seagulls earlier, and when we left the beach to go into the water, they ransacked mom’s bag. The gall of those gulls!

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Mom on the beach. She spent much of her youth here.

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My Cousin Janice, in the middle, is about to undergo her third year of chemo for an unrelenting cancer. She’s got a great spirit, and both children and grandchildren to live for. She’s ready to kick its ass once again.

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Elihu shows his Great Uncle Paul his catch from the day.

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Uncle Paul is in his chair, on the right. Since his stroke in ’91 he still gets around well – drives too – but speaks very little (might be due in part to his wife – she kinda makes it hard for the poor guy to get a word in edgewise, stroke or not!).

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Sandy gave mom a history of the Jackson side of the family, compiled by Paul and Nancy’s paternal grandmother. I know mom doesn’t have great feelings about this side of the family (her father left her mother and never supported them in any way, nor did her father’s family help out), but nonetheless it’s nice to have this information.

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This is a letter from Uncle Paul’s paternal grandmother, describing in part the contents of the book. Dated November 11th, 1963. There’s a fascinating amount of detail going back a couple hundred years. Both the Conants and the Jacksons have been in this country for over three hundred years, so when people ask me what nationality I am, I tell em that I really am American more than anything else. But hey, at this point in the game, aren’t we all pretty much mutts no matter what our lineage?

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Uncle Paul and Cousin Rusty. Rusty likes to say in his local accent that I’m his “Cape Cawed Cahzin”.

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This is the shack where Rusty keeps his stuff and works on various projects. His father was a shop teacher, and it seems he has the tinkering gene too.

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There’s a lot of stuff here… certainly more orderly than my own brother’s mess.

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Sadly, since Uncle Paul’s stroke, his boats have languished here in the back yard. If only I lived nearby! I dearly miss the sailing era of my life.

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We discovered these very odd-shaped fungi poking up through the ground all around the house. The craziest part is their smell – super funky bad, almost like skunk.

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This is Gertrude – or Gert, as locals know her. She lives directly across the street from my family in a house painted the color of tomato bisque. She knew my mother’s mother, Lydia, and is thrilled to meet Lydia’s great-grandson. Gert’s in her early nineties.

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We’re enjoying a visit with Gert in her breezeway. (I just love these time-capsule homes – nothing’s changed in forty years.)

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A sweet good-bye.

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Gert sang with big bands in Boston in the ’30s and ’40s and regularly appeared on live radio programs as well. We have both those things in common! She has difficulty remembering what day it is, yet she remembered me well from my visit two years ago – she even remembered that I ‘was the singer’. I was impressed! She’s one spunky lady. She zips around the neighborhood in her motorized wheelchair and seems to know just about everyone in town.

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The boys on their second and final search for critters.

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What’s this?

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A tiny crab!

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One more cast of that magic trap…

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And look! A flounder! Crazy looking creatures they are, with both their eyes on top like that. They swim flat along the bottom and usually don’t come in this close to shore. Rusty assured us this was a really lucky catch.

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These folks invited us over for a drink. Mom’s on the right.

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The world proved itself to be a small place once again; the woman on the far right has a brother who lives in our town. !

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Crane spotting.

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Mom, pulling away from her brother Paul’s house, as he watches from the porch. (Note Gert’s tomato bisque-colored garage door in the side mirror.)

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After she waved, mom noted to me that that might well be the last time she would ever see her brother. What is there to say? Poignant, and quite possibly true.

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Later that night we had one of the best dinners I’ve had in a long time at Mezza Luna in the town of Buzzards Bay. Great music played, the vibe was elegant, the food expertly prepared. Highly recommended by all three of us. Their house clam sauce was spectacular.

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The next morning we set out for home – the long way. This was the house in which my Auntie Helen (mom’s Aunt) lived – in New Bedford, Massachusetts. High class, high style.

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This is the front hall. !

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Mom indicates the large staircase…

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…and Elihu investigates it.

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This was the office of my mother’s uncle, who was a doctor. She remembers getting a vaccination under protest in this room as a young child.

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This is our host (yet another Nancy!) in the grand foyer.

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The new owners have put together a small history of the house and their progress with the restoration.

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As a child, mom used to think these decorations looked like door bells. We all agree. They do.

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How about this garage. Not too shabby, huh?

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Now we’re off to see if we can find Auntie Helen’s summer cottage. But first we’ll have lunch at the harbor.

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We’re eating at Sail Loft, just behind the marina in South Dartmouth, Mass. I’m enjoying the iconic “law-b-stah” roll. I am not kidding when I tell you these were among the very best french fries I have ever had. Really. This place has a cozy vibe, plus live music. I’d go back if I were a local.

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The house on the right at the end of the pier was Auntie Helen’s.

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My son is clearly comfortable here.

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And there’s an osprey nest here too. A little bit of heaven for each of us.

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An ‘almost’ selfie of us on the new pier with the yacht behind.

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As a child I remember walking down this yard and path to the beach.

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Inside Auntie Helen’s old house, Elihu zones right in on the bird art.

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Elihu and Grandma look out over the bay to a view I marveled at as a child.

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We passed a lot of boats and bridges on this trip.

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Now we’re visiting the house mom lived in for her middle school and high school years. She had a lot of happy stories to recall for us as we drove around Fall River. Her bedroom had been upstairs on the left.

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And this enormous structure was where she went to high school.

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On the steps that she once scrubbed with a toothbrush (see the previous post for the backstory on that).

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Durfee High School, Fall River, Massachusetts. Long-time drummer for the band Steppenwolf, Ron Hurst attended Durfy HS too, years ago. The grand building is no longer used a school; it’s a municipal building now.

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Now we’re in Barrington, Rhode Island at mom’s very first home.

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Eighty years ago it was all farm land. The house on the left side of this picture is the same house as in my photo above (sans the addition, which is on the right in the first pic.) Both mom and the current owners knew the family that still lives in the small house on the far right side of this photograph. Mom knew the generation that came before, but still the same family. I thought that was a sweet thing to learn. In this photo it was all wide-open fields and orchards – it looked just like this when mom was Elihu’s age – but now the area is heavily wooded and houses are everywhere.

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Here’s the view of the ocean from the front door. In the old days there was only an orchard of fruit trees between this house and the water.

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One quick stop to get directions…

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…and to smooch a pooch.

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Now it’s goodbye until next time. Thanks, you lovely ocean, you. You feel like home to me.

 

Lake Day September 3, 2013

We didn’t plan on it, but yesterday we found ourselves headed up north for our fourth annual end-of-summer day in Lake George. We’d planned on a final day in Saratoga, but en route changed our minds. We had a very lovely day – which ended just in time as a tremendous downpour started right after dark. We made it home through a raging rain, and after a brief recapping of our day and some last-minute, late-night roughhousing, we got into bed on the final non-school night of summer vacation.

Lake George Dept 2013 346Things started off in an interesting way as I saw a young man holding this sign at the side of the highway… (poor guy left his sign in our car. Oops.)

Lake George Dept 2013 003Here was some mother’s kid! And he needed a ride! I pulled over without thinking twice. Think what you will, he was smiling and just had a good feeling about him. What if this were my kid??

Lake George Dept 2013 007Elihu’s working his magic and cracking up our new friend Harrison (who by the way, was also a Waldorf kid. How crazy is that?) We had a short but very enjoyable ride with this young man. We wish him all the best and will be sending him our good thoughts as he continues his adventure (all the way to the west coast perhaps. !)

Lake George Dept 2013 008Good kid. I just hope he calls home to tell his supportive parents how things are going.

Lake George Dept 2013 020Didn’t feel quite right just leaving him there, but I guess that’s the idea. Good luck, Harrison!

Lake George Dept 2013 027We didn’t plan on this either, but a boat was just leaving, and the captain invited us along – why not?

Lake George Dept 2013 054Enjoying the northward view after a little picnic.

Lake George Dept 2013 061How the other half lives. The elegant Sagamore Hotel on Lake George.

Lake George Dept 2013 068Quite a spread. It resides on a small peninsula.

Lake George Dept 2013 092Perfect day for us. I love cloudy days, and they help Elihu to see better.

Lake George Dept 2013 079Dome Island. Public access. Maybe we’ll explore it one day. Never know.

Lake George Dept 2013 073More of the same, but it really gives a good feel for the day.

Lake George Dept 2013 072Parasailing – we’ll get to this one day too, I hope.

Lake George Dept 2013 096Cap’n Ed invited us into the wheelhouse. Once again, lil man is making em laugh.

Lake George Dept 2013 103I spent some time at the wheel too. Reminded me of the time I drove the multi-level tourist boat on Lake Como. Fareed grabbed the mic and began to announce the stops in Italian. A drunk captain just looked on and smiled. Another time, and another country to be sure. But this was fun and laid back too. (Probably a tad safer as well. !)

Lake George Dept 2013 112Now Elihu gets a turn. We both enjoyed telling Ed – after Elihu’s turn at the wheel – that he was legally blind. !!

Lake George Dept 2013 114He did really well. Yay!

Lake George Dept 2013 128We liked this scrolling map.

Lake George Dept 2013 139Ed took Elihu up to the private room on the top level for a look down below at the dance floor. Many weddings have happened here.  (And many drunken “Titanic” moments have happened on the bow, too.)

Lake George Dept 2013 144We shared the ride with very few people. It was a friendly bunch.

Lake George Dept 2013 154Passing the steam-powered, paddle wheel Minne Ha Ha. We rode on this last summer.

Lake George Dept 2013 169Pulling into the dock. Always interesting to watch. An impressive feat.

Lake George Dept 2013 184Now it’s on the the arcade. Funny, but this flying game blew Elihu’s mind last year and changed his life. Now, months after the introduction of Wii into our home, this is very old-school and he didn’t care to play it twice.

Lake George Dept 2013 187He ran outside when we ran out of cash. Made a little bit more, then dashed back inside….

Lake George Dept 2013 190to the kid-friendly gambling device. ! Elihu has new appreciation for the power of an addiction.

Lake George Dept 2013 213The sun came out and we were able to get a good look at the Adirondac – the boat we’d just been in (and driven.) The glass enclosure at the top right is the room from which Elihu and Ed were looking down onto to the dance floor.

Lake George Dept 2013 201Here’s where we passed the next hour. A beautiful, densely-planted garden in its late-summer glory. (The boat behind.)

Lake George Dept 2013 196Elihu was following the sound of grasshoppers and crickets.

Lake George Dept 2013 195He did find an insect making its sound – he described in detail the movements it was making, but when he tried his luck with the camera, it didn’t appear. Easy to hear – a real challenge to locate visually – by anyone, sighted or low-vision.

Lake George Dept 2013 200Elihu’s world is mostly an up-close one. Nice shot sweetie!

Lake George Dept 2013 258We love this door.

Lake George Dept 2013 255Elihu is showing the ‘Peace Officer’ how he can keep the peace with his Ben 10 omnitrix watch. He surprised them when he shot out a flying disc.

Lake George Dept 2013 268Now on to supper. We follow a cozy, European-esque alley way to our favorite place.

Lake George Dept 2013 266Here we are! Even got our favorite corner table on the railing!

Lake George Dept 2013 284Tomorrow it might be ramen again, but one night a year it’s lobster and clams! (We learned a very important and expensive lesson this meal: always ask if the lobster is fresh. And it it’s a tail, it’s likely been frozen. Never before have we ever tasted such bad lobster. A great disappointment. But Elihu was good about it. Poopie!)

Lake George Dept 2013 300So much for a serious picture.

Lake George Dept 2013 274So we hit the bathroom. I’m thinking about a post that’s been making the FB rounds… Handwritten on a wall is a picture of this message: Things I Hate 1) Vandalism 2) Irony 3) Lists. No sooner had I thought of it, when I thought that Elihu and I should add our names to the ones on the wall in a commemoration of sorts to our day. My eyes landed – at that very thought – on this spot on the wall. It was our mark from last year’s trip. !! I told Elihu about the Facebook post, and naturally he cracked up.  Then I showed him this. Be both knew what we had to do…

Lake George Dept 2013 281Add to it!  (That’s a jumping frog. Elihu says it was hard to draw on the wall surface, plus I used a flash once and it screwed him up. So if the frog is off, it’s my bad. That soured the mood for a bit. Yeeps.)

Lake George Dept 2013 312But not to worry, the mood will soon be a happy one. It starts like this – just one dinner roll does the trick. (That, and a certain, special gift.)

Lake George Dept 2013 318He got her! But she’s a wild duck, and very strong. She knocked the glasses clear off his head.

Lake George Dept 2013 324Calmed down now. Aah.

Lake George Dept 2013 335Now to share the experience.

Lake George Dept 2013 345We drove home in a hard-pouring rain. Usually the road is covered in frogs. We hardly saw one the whole trip (maybe too much rain!) We made an extra detour down a country road and found this guy. He’s in our pond now. For Elihu, this was just the very best end possible to a very wonderful day.