1. Sunday night. You can tell Owen has been down in the basement again. Look at that slide projector---it looks like an old car!
1. Sunday night. You can tell Owen has been down in the basement again. Look at that slide projector---it looks like an old car!
Ernie and I had a golden little getaway. We snuck away to St. Louis to see an exhibition, Self-Taught Genius, organized by the American Museum of Folk Art. It closes next weekend and I really wanted to see it so even though we shouldn't have gone, because money is for some reason particularly tight this month...we said, "CREDIT CARDS" and away we went. We got the boys off to school and I cooked a few things to have in the refrigerator for them and we took off mid morning. The day was gorgeous, sunny and cool and well, golden. We drove down listening to our current in-repeats of Bap Kennedy and Bob Woodruff and watched the fields go by. It felt so good.
I poked around online and found that Friday was the museum's free day for the exhibit so snobbily decided I'd rather go the next day since it would be less crowded. We bought a couple of tickets online and then realized we had absolutely nothing planned. It felt delightful. It was so beautiful that as we swung by the Arch I googled 'restaurant patios in St. Louis' and we ended up at the Royale. We sat next to a fountain, nibbled a bit and had a drink. Then we meandered over to Forest Park so we'd know where we were going the next day. We haven't been there in about a million years. The last time we were there was for a glass exhibition that Lowell Innes had organized...and hell, he died in the mid 80's. Wow. That's kind of shocking. Anyway...we'd scored a cheapish room at a hotel that is normally far beyond our budget using the Hotel Tonight app so we checked in early and collapsed from a general state of well being and the feeling of not being worried about anything. Crazy. I'd picked a restaurant or two that I wanted to go to but we didn't feel like getting back in our car so we just walked a block or so down and had a drink at a nondescript but ok place. Then we went back to the hotel and sat outside at a restaurant next to the pool and watched people. We thought about getting in touch with St. Louis friends but it just felt so damn nice to have no plans.
The hotel's windows even opened...so nice. We were on the seventh floor and it was lovely to hear city noises.
The next morning I wasn't in the mood to spend $14 on an omelet so we skipped breakfast and headed over to the museum early. We wandered a bit...I love old City parks...and were waiting when the museum doors opened at 10 am. We trotted over to folk art exhibit and oh good god in heaven it was so freaking wonderful. I know I should be more articulate but I just can't. It's highlights from the collection of the Folk Art Museum, much of it from a relatively recent gift from the Esmerian Collection (interesting side note here). The works ranged from the 19th century items that I grew up on, as well as more contemporary. It was absolutely stunning. I'm usually a pretty quick viewer...not one to linger but we spent a good hour and a half there. Just amazing...and it was so wonderful to be there with Ernie so we barely had to have words.
I must admit that I am drawn the most to the 19th century classics but there were some great contemporary pieces I loved as well.
I felt like I was going to burst when I saw the Ammi Phillips of the Girl in the Red Dress.
The sculptural works always speak to me too, and for someone who abhors snakes, I do seem to like sculptures of them.
Of course, at heart I'm a decorative arts girl, so I think my very favorite piece....well a tie between two pieces...the incredible grain painted chest and the box of grain painting samples!!!!!
There's more but I've inundated you with enough...if you made it through all I commend you. We had planned to see a few other things at the museum but our eyes were full, and we were hungry so we headed over to Frazer's and had an utterly delightful lunch. Lovely, comfortable place.
We headed home, driving on small highways part of the way.
All iphone pics...should have brought my camera...but it was fun to catch a few things along the way. And then, suddenly, we were home.
I don't take the opportunity for little trips like this lightly. I remember once, years ago, asking a colleague what she was doing for some holiday or the other, and she casually said, Oh, we might do this...or maybe that.... And the casual acceptance that she could just do whatever they liked made me almost want to cry. At the time the boys were little and my parents not in good shape and I couldn't imagine every being able to casually take off again. And then...suddenly, you can...and you miss the reasons you couldn't.
This little weekend-ette though, just golden.
A bit of nice old tile showing through in an antique mall downtown. And my baby's feet....
Fantastic breakfast at Thyme Square Cafe (thank you Dawn and Stacie). Really, really great food, service and use of local and house made ingredients.
Ernie going into a great old pharmacy to buy us some more ibuprofen!
Oh, and we even found a REAL antique shop, Old Town Antique Shop. Gorgeous, gorgeous stuff. We bought a popcorn goblet as a souvenir. I wanted some of the flint bar bottles but they were out of my price range. Lovely guy running it too!
Thanksgiving was delightful. Granted we still have a few dirty dishes lying about but it was wonderful. Thanks to Teri, Brian, Sue, Kent, Amy, Mark, Heather, Steve, and my three beautiful boys for truly making me thankful. And thank you to all that came for, uh, only making fun of me a little bit.
Did I swear off new turkey roasting techniques? DIDN'T I? Sigh. Well, then Serious Eats lured me in with their article on roasting turkey. You use a pizza stone and preheat to 500 degrees, then set the turkey in a roasting pan on a sheet pan so the hot air can circulate. For a turkey over 20 lbs they recommended then turning the heat down to 275 when you put the turkey in the oven (300 degrees for smaller turkeys). So of course I got all excited about this and even ordered a cheaper version of the baking steel they recommended from Amazon so it would get here just in time. Pizza stones always break on us so I figured this was a smart investment (I am the queen of rationalization).
They estimated 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours for a stuffed turkey over 20 lbs.....so I figured maybe five hours for ours since turkey always seem to get done early for me. Our new (well a year old almost) stove has a fancy temperature probe that we of course never use. We got it out because damned if I was going to overcook my fresh-Amish-raised-21.3lb-roasted-in-a-rack-on-a-sheet-pan-over-an-expensive-just-bought-baking-steel-beautiful turkey. Of course when we put it in the oven we forgot to use it. I blithely told Ernie we'd use it when we checked on the turkey partway through. I was figuring it to get done close to 3:30. Around 2:00 I said, "oh, we should check that turkey, see how the dripping are coming along." We looked at the turkey and thought hmmmm....it's rather pale and no drippings to note but I'll add a bit of stock and we'll insert the probe. We tried to insert the probe and kept turning the oven off. I kicked Owen off the computer and furiously googled for instructions. We tried it again and it just blinked 200 at us and turned off. I sighed exasperatedly and then a terrible thought occurred to me...perhaps my huge-expensive-fresh-Amish-raised-21.3lb-roasted-in-a-rack-on-a-sheet-pan-over-an-expensive-just-bought-baking-steel-beautiful-turkey was ALREADY OVERDONE.
200 degrees. And it was only 2:00. We were planning to eat at 4:30 ish.
And it was pale.
With hardly any drippings.
I screeched and yelled in horror and Ernie and Owen tried somewhat unsuccessfully not to grin. We pulled it out and I almost wept. Owen suggested I have a glass of wine and Ernie said, "Well. They all like you so it will be fine."
I went to prepare my Brussels sprouts. We'd made them recently, roasting the separated leaves with just a bit of oil at a high heat and they were delicious. When Ernie had gotten these sprouts I'd told him they looked perfect. I started cutting the cores out and pulling the leaves off....found or two that had bugs in them and tossed them aside...no problem. I kept going though.....and they were full of little dead bugs. A bug here and there doesn't bother me....but these were a LOT of bugs. Sigh. I got enough...but I had to dump a lot.
I went to get the edamame ready. Last time I made it I just warmed it, added mustard and balsamic vinegar with some herbs and olive oil and it was fantastic. These edamame didn't look great....there were a lot of yellowish ones. I persevered, tasted, and though...eh....added some more of this and that....still though eh....had Ernie taste it....he though eh....I dumped it in the trash. I dug through my refrigerator and found some snow peas to replace them...but still....eh.
Lastly, I had decided to try to make some non-dairy mashed potatoes for a friend who generally avoids dairy. I boiled some yukon golds....planned to mash them with the skins on, add olive oil and flavor it with some basil oil I had in the refrigerator. I'd done this recently and we'd loved them. I got the potatoes ready, reached into the refrigerator for my basil oil and opened it up to find.....mold.
I had made gorgeous rick turkey stock for the gravy, but with no drippings to speak off....eh.
Even my mashed potatoes and stuffing wasn't as good as usual.
Next year Sue is cooking for us.
Happy Thanksgiving all.
Despite it all....I am wholeheartedly thankful.
I took no pictures...so from others...
we finally got Amy and Mark to our house!! Woo-hooo!
Teri and Brian
Heather and Steve showed up to share dessert and drinks and Heather even brought her sublime potato rolls!
The point at which I gave up on cooking, drank wine out of a Bulls Eye with Fleur de Lys goblet and ordered other people around
Didn't get the table set quite as nicely as planned but it was still nice to have the Spode, sterling and flint out...
It was a full and wonderful Autumn weekend. Friday evening we met our beloved friends Boo and Doug for dinner at the Esquire. They seemed to know half the place and we seemed to know the other half, so there was lots of talking and laughing. I must have had an extra glass of wine because when my friend Amy asked me if I wanted to wear Gene Honda's Blackhawks championship ring I said, "YES" and then said "take a picture, take a picture." Very un-Cynthia-like which made me laugh all the more. The absolutely fascinating thing was its incredible weight. We tumbled home relaxed and happy, chatted with the boys and rolled into bed.
Saturday morning we left only 40 minutes later than planned for our trip. Not too bad. Leo drove most of the way to Union, Illinois. We got to Union after Google maps led us through one cornfield or another. Sometimes you really would just be better consulting a map yourself, but it was entertaining. We found an old tavern with a delightful tin ceiling and walls and enjoyed a meal together before heading over to the Illinois Railway Museum. It's hard to believe we had never been there before, but somehow we hadn't. Our extraordinary friend Van and connected us with an old friend of his that works there. He spotted us before we could even track him down. Perhaps Leo's Milwaukee Road hoodie gave us away....
I had expected him to be lovely, after all, he is a friend of Van and Karin's, and he had been kind enough to show us around but he was absolutely incredible. He had asked ahead of time what Leo was particularly interested in and had found out where everything was. He took us on a tour for three and a half hours. Talk about above and beyond. Leo was absolutely glowing. He actually got to get in the cab of the Little Joe 803 which he was most interested in. He photographed like crazy. I did o.k. walking. I didn't do it all. I sat out some but actually I was pretty happy that I managed to do as much as I did. Those engines really are amazing beasts. The sheer scale of them is mind boggling. It was a wonderful day. There is nothing better than seeing one of your kids so happy. My sweet pea Leo.
On Sunday we went to a Swedish restaurant for breakfast. It felt like we were in a conference room, complete with a screen pulled down...they were showing the Food Network on it. At first I got excited thinking it was close captioned in Swedish. Then, after asking Leo, I realized I just can't see very well and it was English. I ordered fried herring with eggs and hashbrowns. I decided afterward that perhaps I should tone down the experimental ordering. At lunch on Saturday I ordered a burger with jalapeno, peanut butter and jelly. Yes, it sounded somewhat disgusting but it was called the Lipsmacker and I thought, what the hell. Actually, it might have been edible if the burger hadn't been overdone. The fried herring for breakfast wasn't bad....just STRONG and SALTY. I know, I know, it was salted herring, what did I expect? The hash browns were great though. I always order hash browns with great hope in my heart and so often they aren't great. These WERE. Perfectly crunchy tops, tender inside. I will however, probably skip the fried herring next time....I burped fried herring all day long...and that was after only eating a portion of it. Oh well.
After that we visited Anderson Gardens and then hit a few antique malls and stopped at Toad Hall (thanks for the recommendation Annette and others). Owen and Ernie were beside themselves and Owen bought several Sparks albums, some Stones, Who, Springsteen and Genesis I believe. Oh, and a Beach Boys cassette because he found an ancient Walkman in the basement and has been using that. In fact he dug out some old cassettes of ours and played some of them on the way there as Leo drove. He played the first Mavericks album and I could have just cried listening to it. I don't even know why. Of course Raul's voice is so beautiful it could break your heart, but it was more than that. I couldn't help but sit and look at the pictures of all of them and think about how young they had been, and all the nights we spent seeing them. It just brought back this time that in hindsight seems so innocent...a time of excitement and anticipation. Listening to it under the dark grey skies as we drove along touched my heart somehow. When it clicked off we asked Owen what he thought and he said he'd loved it. My baby.
Driving home I said,'This was a nice weekend" and all three boys chorused, "Yes, it was!" A good feeling.
On Saturday we left Cape May and picked up a glowing Leo at the University of Delaware. He was glowingly happy and had a tiny bit of glowing sunburn which was a wonderful thing to see on my pale inside boy. I tried not to keep hugging him for an hour but none of us could stop grinning. We tumbled into the car and headed off for Cleveland, about six and a half hours or so. We drove from Newark towards Strasburg, Pennsylvania. It was absolutely gorgeous, rolling country with wonderful architecture and many Amish horse and buggies. In hindsight (see? it was the theme of the vacation) we should have stayed around there instead of Cape May. We were so far east though that I could not resist the lure of the ocean. One of the days in Railcamp they had spent at a train museum in Strasburg with a live steam engine (as in Leo's picture). As we drove by we could see it loading up so Leo directed us to a spot where we could watch it go by. They don't have a turntable so it went by backwards but it was strangely thrilling to see. As we drove through Strasburg there were a number of antique shops that looked promising but our budget didn't allow for stopping and I just watched them go by wistfully.
After talking rapidly about his whole week, Leo promptly collapsed into sleep. It was a VERY busy week for him. We made it into Cleveland just as traffic was pouring into their stadium. We got stuck in traffic and one way streets but it gave us a quick tour of downtown Cleveland which I thought was delightful. We were happy to tumble into our hotel room though, to flop onto the beds and look out at the lake and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. My boys love hanging out in hotel rooms so they had no interest in going out. Ernie and I ordered dinner for them and went downstairs to the hotel bar. I found the layout rather odd until I figured out that the actual restaurant was being remodeled and it had all been moved out into the lobby for the duration. We settled onto a couch in the corner. My wine was expensive but it was a hell of a pour and we sat and talked and began to relax.
When Ernie was checking in to the hotel, the person at the desk had mentioned that the Antique Roadshow was in town. There was only one other person in the restaurant/bar when we got there. As I sat, looking out the window to the street, I saw a group of folks walking toward the hotel. I don't know why but I just thought hmmm....wonder if that's a group of AR folks. Just the look, the bags over their shoulder... A bunch came in and sat down and a minute later Ernie whispered the same thing to me, saying that one of them had a lanyard that said AR Crew on it. We giggled for no good reason and kept sipping and chatting. Then Noel Barrett (and lord I just looked at his website and he sure as hell doesn't look his age) came walking in and as he's pretty damn easily identifiable our suspicions were confirmed.
Ernie murmured "maybe the Keno brothers will show up," and I just rolled my eyes. Then a moment later, sure enough, Keno Brother One came walking in, over to a corner to talk on his phone. We sat and watched everybody. It all seemed so familiar for some reason. Then, in came Keno Brother Two. He stood and talked to the a group at the table in front of us before turning to take off. He looked over to our table, smiled and nodded. We nodded back and I tried to figure out if it had seemed as though we were staring. Ernie has this odd ability to get the nod from people though. I don't know how he does it. We can walk into a club and somebody from the band that we don't know will give him the nod. I'm always like "What the hell?" The first time we saw Malcolm Holcombe, before he even played, he walked over, patted Ernie's shoulder and said hello. It works on antiques folks as well. I have no idea.
I made Ernie get me another glass of wine because no way in hell was I leaving this kind of entertainment. Yes, we are geeks. A few minutes later Keno Brother Two finished up his phone call, walked over to the other folks and said a few words before heading out, only to turn toward our corner, pause and wave at us.
And good LORD did I ever want to call my mother. She would have been so tickled.
The Roadshow group headed out for dinner and we went upstairs, ordered some Vietnamese food for delivery and happily collapsed into comfortable beds.
Yup, my favorite moment of vacation (other than the storm coming in off the bay I guess....). I wanted to take a picture but I didn't want to sink quite that low.
Now that Owen has basically searched throughout our basement for lost and forgotten treasures, he has set his sights on our garage. I will admit, although I'm not proud of it, that there are boxes in the garage that have never been upacked from when we moved in. I know. I know. Sigh.
Anyway, when Ernie and I got home last night we found him sitting at the dining room table with the detritus of a very, very old box spread across the table. His take on it all? "Dad, you were skinny, and Mom, you were pretty." Pause. "Wellofcourseyoustillare!"
Love that boy.
The pictures aren't great...this was after my good DSLR was stolen after a break in to our Rogers Park apartment. I don't know what I had but they're so-so. Still entertaining though.
First up---the beautiful Fink girls. Hard to believe one of them just got married.
Then some pictures of Ernie and I at an antique show when we hadn't been at it too long...we don't have any kind of shelves or much other than glass....I'm guessing 92 ish? Please note that yes, Ernie has ALWAYS made the weird faces when getting his picture taken. Some damned good flint back there...a bellflower celery, pillar molded pitcher and vase....I think there's a covered bellflower compote too. Sigh.
Look, it's back when I was innocent enough to still buy flowers for our booth....
Then from a trip to Maine. I remember each and every one of those cottages. Ernie hated them. The first one was on Route 1 and it was called Vacationland or something like that. It was a big semi circle of cabins surrounding a wonderful white Victorian farmhouse. It is long gone.
The next one was a little scary actually. Ernie REALLY hated this one. We had to wake up the old man who was sleeping at the counter to register. In the cabin the floor slanted and when you flushed the toilet, water shot up in a different spot from the floor. I had to buy Ernie a lot of drinks at Old Orchard Beach that night. I think they were all gone the next year we went back.
This one was further north....north of Camden I believe....Lincolnville Beach maybe? It was just across from the water. We ate outside at a restaurant...had lobsters and clams and the mosquitos bit me so badly on my legs that Ernie went and found benedryl for me. They filled our thermos with coffee at the little coffee shop attached to the office. I haven't been back there in years. Odds are they are gone, but you never know....
A few other Maine pictures....Moody's Diner and yes, they did indeed have incredible pie; the Humpty Dumpty potato chip factory that we used to drive by on the way to the beach when I was a kid; and the Saco Drive-In.
There are a few more but I'll save them for another time.
Thinking about Lowell Innes yesterday made me pull out my Pittsburgh Glass book. My copy is pretty worn. I still think it’s one of the most finely written books on glass ever published. There are plenty of others that have impeccable research and valuable information, but for a book that you can just sit and read and enjoy, I still think it’s the best.
A few years ago when we visited an antique dealer friend in Maine, he mentioned that the old Innes house had burned down awhile back. It made me inordinately sad. I wanted to have that tiny little bit of my life still sitting there on Jenkins Road in Saco, across from the marshlands, tucked away in time I suppose.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my parents took me to visit meet him in Michigan (see scan of article below). We met him after the talk and he positively crowed to the Ford Museum folks sitting around him, “All of you with your Ph.D’s, but I bet you never got a letter from a 14 year old girl!” After chatting, my mother innocently said, “Oh, we often visit Maine in the summer because my parents live there,” so he of course invited us to his house. My mother was good.
We visited him that summer. I have no pictures. These days we’d have everything photo-documented but those were different times. I recall the house being an old federal home, with a few later Victorian touches, but I might be mistaken. He had glass laid out on tables for me to look at, and his wife Ethelinda, who was so charming, had taken out her collection of perfume bottles for me to see.
I went back one other time, it might have been later that year. My grandmother was ill and we were all in Maine. Judi and Debbie went with me that time and Lowell gave me a nice little scroll flask and several lacy salts. I wrote once or twice more but went off to college the next year. He died in 1986.
Yesterday I found myself googling him and looking for pictures and comments. I found a few. It’s funny. I feel as though I have these old memories of him that are important, but I don’t know that anybody really cares. I still feel like my memories of him are a gift though, a wonderful gift that I carry with me.
I even liked his directions----using the "garish yellow roofs" as a landmark. Those cabins were there for years and years...I think the roofs changed to a garish orange, but now they are gone too.
Some of the words I found about him yesterday:
Lowell was headmaster of Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh, and taught English there for some 40 years.
Lowell Innes, the ultimate teacher of English literature and writing, said again and again, as a guide to writing, "Don't tell me, show me." Don't tell me someone was a mean old miser, show him being a mean old miser. As words to the wise go about writing, that's pure gold.
The closest I ever had to stern direction from Mr. Innes happened after I returned from a spring vacation visit to Charlottesville, and I told Mr. Innes that I was thinking I might go to the University of Virginia. He looked me in the eye, put his finger to my chest, and in his never-to-be-forgotten Maine accent said, "You're going to Yale, McCullough, and I don't want to hear any more about it!"
Mr. Innes I should add had gone to Yale. (from David McCullough Address, Shady Side Academy's 125th Anniversary Celebration, Saturday, May 2, 2009)
I see Lowell Innes and Shady Side Academy are synonymous. More than anyone else on campus, he typifies the spirit of the Academy. His three button sack, striped poplins, and pastel shirts have set campus styles for years. The green book bag and thermos of coffee have become fixtures around the halls. His "bon mots" pass from boy to boy. Kindly imitations of his "down East" accent are part of every junior wit's repertoire and each year brings a new crop of caricatures for NEWS and ACADEMIAN, Long after we are graduated, Mr. Innes will be remembered for the days in Room IO when Shakespeare and Johnson came alive, for the curriculum and college conferences in his office, and the cryptic notes on the reports to our parents. His forty years of experience with boys and his close association with the universities aid each boy in choosing a college fitted to his special needs. The master-student relationship is much more than business to Mr. Innes, who keeps abreast of the boys' current interests in and out of school. To this friend and educator, we, the class of '56, dedicate our ACADEMIAN. (Shady Side Academy Academia Yearbook class of 1956)
This year marks the termination of Lowell Innes's notable career as an educator and administrator at Shady Side Academy. A teacher for forty years and headmaster for two years, Mr. Innes has also placed many Shady Side students in college. Known for his green book bag, a warm, toothy smile, and a Maine accent, he will retire this year to his home in Saco, Maine. Mr. Innes had been a contributing factor in the intellectual and material growth of Shady Side Academy over the years and will be missed by the teachers, students, and alumni of Shady Side. (Shady Side Academy Academian 1960)
Bowdoin College honored him as well:
LOWELL INNES, native of Biddeford, graduate of Thornton Academy and Yale, for many years able Assistant Headmaster of Shady Side Academy – the early home of many Bowdoin men – a vigorous proponent of precise and disciplined thinking. He has seasoned his scholarship with wit, warmed it with humanism, inflamed it with idealism, never warping it with sentimentality. An outstanding schoolmaster, he has guided youth with sensitive touch, adjusted to the particular needs of the particular boy, gaining respect, affection, and admiration, not only from his students and their families, bur from all colleges to which he has entrusted his boys. For just such qualities we honor him. Honoris Causa, MASTER OF ARTS
1. Leftover Beef Wellington for dinner last night....can't complain about that. It was almost better last night! The crust wasn't as crisp but I remembered to use the shallot red wine sauce. DeLICIOUS. Who woulda thunk I would love Beef Wellington? Thank you Bill Anderson.
2. In other news the cold I thought I was conquering has come roaring back. Blegh. Oh well....lots of hot tea planned.
3. First email opened this morning: "If you have received this email it means your child has not completed the assignment...." Sigh.
5. More discoveries from the basement.... my little Angelus marshmallow mirror....it's such a pleasing little thing...it was free with package of marshmallows....
6. The Model Train Show returns to Lincoln Square this weekend. There is great, GREAT excitement in the land.
7. At least the sun is shining. More tea and things will be fine....
rearranging some glass this weekend
I can't begin to tell you how divine this hyacinth smells...one of my favorites....
forgive the lousy scans, but after the weekend I had, I needed to remind myself of these faces
side dish for dinner last night that was better than the rest of the meal....gorgeous red potatoes from Greg, lemon juice, olive oil and a mix of olives...roasted until everything was a bit crisp....