Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Virtu Art Fair in Wilcox Park

It was great to have Bruno back home and much of the weekend was spent getting back into a routine, and enjoying very summer-like weather.  On Sunday morning we strolled around Wilcox Park in Westerly, just a short distance from Spruce Street, to take in the Virtu Art Fair.  We have made this an annual tradition ever since we first attended the fair several years ago as a break from the renovations on the house on Spruce Street.  We have been to many similar events, but the Virtue Art Fair really stands out, mostly because it is always so peaceful.  Also, many of the artists are very local, or at least from New England which makes the experience all the more appealing.  We enjoyed meeting Mark Kuzio and talking with him about his Patio Flame pieces.   We couldn't resist buying one, and on Sunday evening after a really nice dinner we cooked on the grill, we relaxed over after dinner drinks with the Patio Flame on our deck.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Solar hot water is back!

Earlier in the year we noted that our normal plentiful supply of solar heated hot water appeared to be lacking.  After searching around we found a local repairman (Nick) and he came to take a look at our system.  After careful testing he found a leak in one of the panels ("collectors"), and the panel was determined to need replacing.  The leak can be seen as a stain in the top right corner of the picture below:

This is the first repair to the system we have needed in the past 12 years, and it seems like it was caused by the week long power outage that we experienced last September.  The storm that knocked out the power was followed by a week of sunny weather and without the pump running to dissipate the heat to the water in the tank the heat transfer fluid in the system probably overheated .  This is analogous to the radiator overheating in a car and it probably created enough steam pressure to rupture the pipework in the collector.  Not too surprising that this occurred in a panel that was nearly 30 years old!

This Saturday saw Nick's return with two new collectors and a strong assistant.  It took most of the day to remove the old panels and replace them with the new ones.  Each panel is 8'x4' and was lifted off/ onto the roof by hand from a step ladder.  Quite an impressive feat!

After the piping was reconnected and tested and everything else was put back together the system appears to be working as expected.  Yesterday was a fabulously sunny day, so in celebration of the repair Sheri did three loads of laundry with free hot water from the new panels!

Uppsala in the Spring

Last week Bruno's work took him to Uppsala in Sweden.  He was acting as an external examiner for a doctoral candidate in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Uppsala.  Spring was in full swing when he got there, and to get over the jet lag he spent a very enjoyable time walking around the town exploring its historic sites.  These include an impressive castle, extensive botanical gardens, and a large brick cathedral.  The swedes were very friendly, and the town had lots of interesting sites explore.  It is definitely a place to return to in the future if the opportunity arises!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Visit from DiAnn

While Bruno was in England last weekend visiting his parents, brother and family, DiAnn (Sheri's mom) came to Connecticut for a visit.  The last visit DiAnn made to Hangman Hill Road was during the Great Flood in March of 2010.  Fortunately this weekend the weather provided a sharp contrast to that March visit several years ago, with crystal clear sunny skies, mild temperatures and low humidity.    The weekend was sprinkled with walks with Kokee, trips to Westerly for lunch and to get a Westerly Town Beach pass, and a very nice evening in Watch Hill.   There as also a lot of time spent preparing for Mimi's Celebration of life which will take place in June.  Sheri and DiAnn spent a great deal of time scanning in photos of Mimi from all stages of life, and with the wonders of iPhoto have a slideshow that will honor her long and very rich life.  The final scanning of photos was rewarded with a trip to Watch Hill for drinks at the Ocean House, followed by the first dinner of the season at The Olympia Tea Room, which opened last week.  One other highlight from the weekend was the harvest of the first strawberries.

Brunch at The Mermaid

Sorting Photos

Mimi, DiAnn and Sheri, Montgomery AL

Drinks at the Ocean House

 View from the Ocean House

First Strawberries

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Greek dessert tonight!


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May CSA Share from Terra Firma Farm

This month we joined the Terra Firma Farm as a member of their Community Support Agriculture (CSA) program.  Since we have a garden of our own that supplies us with fresh food for most of the summer and even part of the winter, we opted to try the meat share.  We eat a diet that is mostly vegetable-based, in part for health reasons, and in part because we really like vegetables!  Reservations about commercial agricultural practices and the impact on the environment and the health and well-being of the livestock is also a consideration.  At Terra Firma Farm, which is literally 5 miles down the road, the cows, pigs, and chickens are raised in an idyllic setting by Farmer Ethan and Farmer Brie, and many volunteer workers from the community.   It seemed like a great time to support Terra Firma and to add a little meat into our diet.  You can see a photo of the May share below and one that shows what we are currently enjoying from our own garden.

May Share from Terra Firma

 Face of Produce: Brussels Sprouts, Carrots and Leeks

Monday, May 7, 2012

Eilen Jewel at the Knickerbocker Cafe

On Friday night we met friends at the Knickerbocker Cafe in Westerly to hear Eilen Jewel and her band perform songs from the 60's, covers of songs by Loretta Lynn and some from their own records too.  We first saw Eilen Jewel and her band several years ago, and have become big fans.  The talent of individual band members is amazing and together they bring a lot of energy.  Eilen is a great songwriter, and she has a talent for putting a new twist on songs from a different era.  We tapped our toes, and danced too and enjoyed hanging out with friends we don't get to see nearly enough.

The Eilen Jewel Band
Eilen Jewel
Shawn Mehrans, Paul Luner, Anne Luner
 Suman Luthra, Sumit Luthra and Jared Mehrens
 Bruno and Shawn celebrating promotions

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Recent happenings at HHR

Things "Here on the Hill" have been busy with typical home, garden and work activities.  We offer some highlights from the last few weeks for your amusement.

We kicked off last weekend with pizza on Friday night at The Green Onion, a pizza place right here in town.  It is always nice to go to favorite local spot that you haven't been to for while and find that they remember the pizza toppings that you order EVERY time you go, "spinach, olive and green pepper, right?" (said with a jolly Greek accent).  It is always warm, friendly and the pizza is always good at The Green Onion.

On Saturday we went to see "The Affections of May" at the Granite Theater in Westerly with Gene and Kathy.  The play was written by a Canadian playright (so it had to be good!); it was a great story, with excellent performances by some local actors.  We had a really nice dinner beforehand at The Mermaid Cafe, which is our favorite breakfast spot.  Dinner was equally good, and we highly recommend it!

The current house and garden projects include replacing, and in some cases installing for the first time,  insulation along outside walls and in roof spaces.  This activity, which Bruno has been tackling on evenings and weekends, is a result of an energy audit we had performed prior to the installation of solar panels (due to arrive very soon).   Bruno has been working pretty hard, hoping to finish while the temperatures are still mild.

The seeds are doing well and we hope the recent rains will prepare the garden for transplanting of some of the larger plants.  In the meantime we have been enjoying fresh asparagus from the garden (yummm!) and watching the strawberry and blueberry plants flower in preparation for a bountiful crop of summer fruits later in the year.

Now that we are over "hump day" we are starting to look forward to the coming weekend and to an evening of live music and dancing at The Knickerbocker on Friday.  We will report more on that event in a future blog posting!