Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!!

It is still cold and dark at Hangman Hill Road, but soon the sun will be up and the wood-stove will be keeping us warm.  We will be thinking of you all wherever you are - in the city, on the road, or out in the mountains.  Have a wonderful holiday!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Watch Hill Carol Sing

As part of the pre-Christmas activities this week we attended the Christmas in Song event held at the Watch Hill Chapel that was co-sponsored by the Ocean House.  The chapel is a quaint wooden building that was warmed only by the holiday spirit, some lively local residents and cheerful music.  Thankfully it was a warm evening.  Performances by the Ad Hoc Carolers were particularly jolly.  We throughly enjoyed the evening and hope it becomes a holiday tradition.

You can see a couple of us at in the Westerly Sun Spotted album at this link.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Sweetback Sisters come to Old Saybrook

We kicked off the weekend with an evening in Old Saybrook at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Center, also referred to as "The Kate" locally.  The theater opened two years ago and we have been looking for an opportunity to visit the theater.  We noticed the Sweetback Sisters were playing on Friday night and we couldn't resist.  We have been enjoying the Sweetback Sisters and their eclectic mix of old-time country and rockabilly but have wanted to see them perform live for sometime.  We were suitably impressed with "The Kate" as a venue, and the Sweetback Sisters for their talent and showmanship.  The music included many original tunes and covers of songs by Willie Nelson, Bob Wills, Josh Ritter and a favorite by Roger Miller, "My Uncle Used to Love Me But She Died".  The talent of the six band members was impressive as they moved through a variety of musical styles, passing instruments back and forth and achieving harmonies that were stunning.  You can see highlights of the performance The Kate at this link; and their version of Patsy Cline's "Love Me Honey Do" from a previous performance here.

By comparison the rest of the weekend was fairy quiet and included typical household chores, and a FEW preparations for the Christmas holiday.  Our holiday preparedness seem to be hampered by the unseasonably warm temperatures.  Let it snow, let is snow, let it snow.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas Tree Tag

Bruno tagging our Christmas tree with a ribbon AND a GPS location (so we can find it later).

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Asleep at the Wheel

In our part of the world, live music opportunities come in fits and spurts. So, last night we were headed out again for the second time in less than a week. The venue was the Knickerbocker Cafe in Westerly, and literally required only a short 10-minute drive to get there.

The band we went to see were the internationally recognized group "Asleep at the Wheel", who play classic Western-swing and a little rockabilly. Their set included covers of many Bob Wills songs and even a version of "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" (see video link below). It was a great evening and fantastic to see such musical talent at close quarters. Next time we need to practice our dance steps in advance and remember to wear our cowboy boots!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Jake Shimabukuro

On Thursday we traveled north to the town of Storrs, CT to see Jake Shimabukuro perform at the Jorgensen Theater.  We first came to know about Jake, like many others, when his version of George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" went viral on YouTube.  Seeing him perform live was amazing.  It is hard to grasp what he can do with a ukulele, a very simple instrument with only four strings.  We loved the stories he told before each and every song.  In addition to being awed by his musical ability, we were enamored with his sense of humor, passion, compassion and humility.  He played many of his own original songs, a favorite being "Five Gallons Unleaded" He also performed a few covers including Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", Queen's "Bohemian Raphsody", and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" by George Harrison.  His finale included another George Harrison song "In My Life", which he performed with Bettle Midler for the Queen of England.   You can see a few highlights from the show.

Two-Steppin' in Texas

Sheri joined her sister Kerry in Texas to pay a visit to their grandmother "Mimi" for a long weekend.  They enjoyed mild temperatures and sunny skies. Their visit included lunch with cousin Chris, a short visit with Mimi at Kruse village, brunch with cousin Sara and a few days in New Ulm with Aunt Cindy and Uncle John.  It was a relaxing few days and they really enjoyed their time with everyone.  The extended draught in Texas is taking a toll on the flora, and also to the morale of those living there.  While landing in Providence it was nice to return to the lush state of the East Coast.

Mimi and Kerry
 Cindy, Sheri, Mimi, Kerry and Chris
 Cindy and Mimi
 John's to be named new friend
 Kerry Sara and Sheri

Thursday, November 3, 2011

More pumpkins...

We are back from the land of the living dead, and wanted to share a few pumpkin pictures.
Click here to see the most amazing carvings ever!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Tonight we went to the great pumpkin festival at the Roger Williams Zoo in Providence, RI. A very scary and enjoyable evening out!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

S'no Way

A bright and sunny day here, with a little more than frost on the pumpkin the day before Halloween. Trick or Treat?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Young@Heart comes to New London

We spent Friday night in New London enjoying dinner and a concert.  Dinner at Chaplin's was superb, we will definitely return.  Chaplin's clearly has a following and reservations are recommended.  The menu was varied and we highly recommend the seafood specials, and the homemade desserts  

After dinner we strolled to The Garde Theater to see the Young@Heart Chorus.  Several years ago we saw a documentary about this dynamic group of musicians from Northampton, MA called Young@Heart.  It was fantastic to seem the live at a local venue, and once again we were inspired by their energy and talent.  We hope you get the chance to see them perform live, and also recommend the film.

Please see some highlights of the evening at this link.

Monday, October 10, 2011

We were happy to be back in Keene NY for an amazing fall weekend.   We enjoyed Indian summer weather with clear sunny skies, temperatures in the 80's during the day and mild evenings.  We were pleased to see that Keene Valley and Keene were recovering after some devastating floods as a result of the heavy rains brought by Hurricane Irene.   We were shocked to arrive at Styles Brook Road, our turn for Keene Farm,  and find it completely gone.  Thankfully some kind neighbors allowed a temporary road through their property to provide access to the farm and the properties that still remained along the road.  It is hard to imagine a "brook" could do some much damage, including washing away several homes.  

We arrived early enough on Friday to claim our favorite spot at Keene Farm, set up camp and enjoy a peaceful late afternoon cup of tea.  We spent the weekend with friends we haven't seen since last fall when we celebrated Andrew and Brenda's nuptials at this same spot.  Many thanks to Martin, Michelle, Allison and Katrina, The Rogers Family, and Brian Kinzie for coming down for the weekend.  We did some great hiking during the day and enjoyed peak colors across the High Peaks region.   The evenings were very mild and suitable for dinner and the usual festivities including plenty of singing accompanied by Martin on guitar and many others on the ukulele.  The highlight of the weekend was a surprise visit from Andrew and Brenda who were there "in spirit" all the way from Kelowna!

Downtown Keene NY

Back at Keene Farm

Styles Brook Road: End of Pavement
Styles Brook rerouted by Irene

Baxter Mt

Sunset from Keene Farm Ledges

Andrew and Brenda "in spirit"

You can see more photos here

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Quite unexpectedly, we had the first frost of the season last night.  Brrrrr!  Autumn/fall is undoubtedly here and we'll need to get busy in the garden this coming week.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Every year the produce from the garden seems to get a little better, and that includes the flowers.  This year we have had more variety than ever. It was been a treat to have fresh cut flowers in the house all summer and even into the fall.  We find that the Japanese vases that Joey made for us are especially good for displaying flowers of all shapes and sizes, and when you have limited flower arranging skills.   You can order these vases online from Joey's website Funkware Pottery.

Return of the Raspberries

We have been very pleased by the recovery of the raspberries which took a pretty serious beating from Hurricane Irene.  The vines were twisted and broken and many undeveloped raspberries littered the mulch floor of the fenced garden in the wake of Irene.  However several weeks we are seeing peak in production with approximately one basket per day.  We are enjoying them on cereal for breakfast and freezing the rest for a mid-winter treat.  Nature never ceases to amaze us.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labor Day Weekend

We spent the second half of our weekend basking in the delight of water running from the taps and switches that activate lights, sound and motion.  This included restoring Command Central back into a working kitchen and doing several loads of laundry.   The fridge and freezer are now clean and free of UFO's (unidentified food objects) that have been lurking for years.  We had a celebratory dinner at  Mark and Jen's house on Saturday night, and were pleased we could arrive clean and dressed in clothing that was pulled not at random from a dark closet.

"Command Central" just before the power was restored

By Monday we were back to "normal" with Sheri working in the yard and Bruno returning to the downstairs bathroom renovation project.  Irene left a lot of limbs and branches in the yard,  the veggie garden required some damage control.  While Sheri was picking up sticks and re-staking tomatillos, Bruno installed the new IKEA bathroom vanity with help from Mark.  There was a lot of grumbling about actually doing labor on Labor Day.   However, the multitude of power tools that were used in a single day suggests there was SOME fun involved.  Once again, Mark's help was appreciated.  It is just too bad the tractor wasn't somehow involved.

Mark and Bruno tackle the IKEA vanity
(Note: We only allow Mark to work when he wears this shirt)

We are heading back to work this week and hope the rain from Tropical Storm Lee doesn't cause too much flooding locally and to our neighbors to the north.  

Saturday, September 3, 2011

We got the Power...and water to make tea

Irene - part 9

Saturday has arrived (powerless of course) and we have the whole day to ourselves. What better way to start the day than with French toast and a little bacon cooked on the barbecue grill.

Lessons learned from Irene: fill your bath tub with water (sounds crazy, but it really works for flushing). And buy a good headlamp (just google 'Petzl headlamp'). This just could be the most important item in your emergency kit.

Maybe next time we will have a backup generator too.........

Friday, September 2, 2011

Irene - update #8

Friday night. Sixth day without water or power. Headed into the long weekend without sight of any utility crews. Hard to believe the press releases from the electric company. Had dinner at Bruna's Table in Westerly to take break from eating and doing dishes by flashlight. The drive home was very dark.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Irene Update #8: phone but no power

Progress is being made albeit a little slower than we hoped.   The trees have been cleared from our local neighborhood, but the wires hang loosely from poles in many places.  We do have a phone line now, but no way to charge the handsets!  We continue to eat well with fresh produce from the garden. We grilled some tomatillos last night and they were delicious.   The culinary creativity spurred from lack of power/water has been a good outcome!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Adirondack Almanack: Irene Leaves Widespread Damage in the Adirondacks

We thought about going to Keene NY to the Adirondacks this weekend since we are nearly camping anyway. Staying at home sounds better based on this sad report. We have fond memories in many of the places mentioned, including hiking/scrambling on Mt Colden, sleeping under the stars on Dix slide, carrying Kelsi down Wright peak and arriving at Marcy Dam after long hikes - with a few more miles to the car.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Irene update #7

The outage map is still very dark in our parts.

Irene - part 6

Another beautiful day dawned in Connecticut with the Governer saying that we could be without power for over a week. All the signs are that he is being rather optimistic! Hence, we started our day with a breakfast of eggs and toast cooked on the BBQ grill. This helps eat up some perishables and saves on washing dishes. Otherwise all is normal and well at home on Hangman Hill. Oh, and we got another ten hours of sleep last night too :-)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene update #5

36 h in and the large trees lying across the state road that connects us to I95 are untouched; power, cable and phone lines are hanging on the road. But we had showers at work and stocked up ice. At least we have candle light dinners and are getting lots of rest.

Irene - the aftermath

Monday has dawned as a beautiful day. It's bright and sunny. We've had a good nights sleep after going to bed at sundown.

We've seen enough tree damage that we don't expect to get power back for several days (best case). Last night we moved our freezer full of garden produce to Mark and Jen's garage and plugged into their generator. Once again we owe them a big "thank you" for their help.

No power means no water when you live with a 250' deep well. So, we expect to take showers at work for the foreseeable future. It was good that we remembered to fill the bathtub with water before we went to bed on Saturday night. At least we can still flush!

This will be the situation for the next few days. It's a good thing that we are experienced campers! If we can charge our cellphones at work we will keep on posting blog updates as the week progresses. Needless to say our landline doesn't work!

Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Irene - part 3

It's 4pm and the rain has stopped. Still very windy. A few big branches down, but nothing serious. Still no power!

Irene - part 2

We have been without power since 6am. Lots of wind and rain (no surprise!) and several branches and trees down. No sign of the power company! Enjoying a quiet morning reading and napping.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Irene - part 1

We spent the day preparing for Irene's arrival. We staked plants in the garden, moved patio furniture, and filled the cars with gas. We also had fun removing a wasp nest from a downspout and re-digging a ditch in the yard to take water away from the house. All this activity was finished off with an impromptu dinner with Mark and Jen, and swapping past flood and huricane stories. As of 11pm we have received only minimal rain and almost no wind. All this is expected to change by tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dinner at Spain

One of the best parts of living in Southern New England is late August and September when the water temperatures are warm, the weather is great and the summer visitors have returned to their homes.  We took advantage of this late August midweek evening with a trip to Narragansett RI for a stroll along Scarborough Beach at sunset, followed by dinner at Spain.   Spain has been highly recommended as a place to dine by several friends.  We weren't disappointed!  We enjoyed a really nice dinner outside, with friendly service and terrific food.  Perhaps we have finally come to the point of celebrating our employment status (for now!).  We were also reminded that we live in a really great place. Una gran noche!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Long Week

We enjoyed a delightful evening on the beach with Mark and Jen on Friday night.  It was a cool and quiet evening. We had most of the beach to ourselves since many of the summer visitors seem to be headed home.  We had a quick swim (partly due to lots of seaweed), followed by a picnic of sandwiches and other goodies from Sandy's Market in Westerly.  

The evening was a great way to unwind after learning about the 50% reduction in employees in our department at work.  We were relieved to learn that we both still have jobs, but also very sad that good friends and colleagues who we have enjoyed working with for over ten years will be leaving in the next few months.   With heavy hearts we focused this week on taking some walks with Kokee, spending time in the garden and taking in this peaceful setting on Hangman Hill.  We are also grateful to have our friendship with Mark and Jen who have been so supportive.  They are always willing to head to the beach, take a walk or share a great meal...oh and dig holes with a tractor.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bathroom renovation - part 1

Our 1st floor bathroom has no windows, so it needs redecorating on a frequent basis.  It doesn't help that it is also the location of the cats' food, water, and litter box.  Need we say more?

This time around we decided to redo the maze of pipes in the basement that passed for plumbing, and to add some tiling above the shower.  We are also planning on moving the vanity and to tackle the condensation problem from the toilet cistern that occurs at this time of year.  The well-water is just too cold when the humidity is 95%!

Tiling was our job for last weekend (see below).  Next weekend we hope to be painting, assuming that the humidity drops low enough for the paint to actually dry!


Somewhere along the way we developed a healthy respect for damsons.  For the uninitiated, these are a variety of wild plum that makes great jams and tastes really good when stewed and eaten with ice-cream.

So....... several years ago we planted three small damson trees in our yard and patiently waited.  This year we have been blessed with our first crop of home grown damsons.  We couldn't rests eating them immediately, and they were everything we had hoped for!  With any luck we'll get a second crop before the summer is over.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

New Roof for the Llama Shed

When we purchased the house on Hangman Hill it came with a garden shed that held llamas which belonged to the previous owners. We fondly refer to it as the llama shed in spite of the fact it currently houses mice that live in the firewood pile, and some gardening supplies.   "Mouse shed" somehow lacks the same endearing quaintness as "llama shed".

Last weekend Bruno replaced the roof shingles on the llama shed with help from Mark.  We can't quite figure out why Mark agreed to spend a full Saturday in July on a roof with Bruno. This says a lot about Mark and what a good friend he is to us.  We greatly appreciated his help!    

Bruno is finishing up a bit of trim work this weekend in spite of the searing heat that currently blankets southeastern CT.