Had a very nice 4th of July weekend. We packed up and headed south (Well, if you can call East Greenwich that far south of Providence) for a three day stay with friends of ours, Beth and Nick.
We got there at about 1PM on Friday. We had a shifting crowd that day. The first we met was Paula. I don’t know what it is but a lot of people recognize me for some reason. Then I found out, she’d worked downtown for 33 years in the building I’d worked in for about five. Paula is one of those people who about five minutes into conversation you decide is somewhat eclectic but not in a good way. Luckily there were plenty of alcoholic libations. Funny thing is I really didn’t get drunk, that’s happened twice in a week. Either my tolerance for alcohol is going up or it’s the fact I’m eating and drinking at the same time. I suspect the latter is the case.
Nick’s son Nick Jr. and his wife Shelly showed up. Both very nice kids and you can tell they haven’t been married for all that long. There’s still a little playfulness to them. Shelly teaches French to 7th and 8th graders in the Quincy, MA school system and we got on the subjects of language and then for some reason movies. She’s a very delightful young woman. Nick Jr. is studying for his J.D. and plans to specialize in divorce law.
Tim and Elsbeth showed up Friday evening. Tim recognized me since he’s on the Downtown Safety and Information patrol. He seems like a pretty level headed guy who knows a hell of a lot about the state of the city of Providence and when I told them who the candidates for governor would be he and I both agreed that Cicilline has no shot at the guv’s chair. It was also amply evident that nobody at this gathering liked Governor Carcieri at all.
Elsbeth seemed nice enough though I didn’t have much of an opportunity to talk with her but Keyron has hung out with her in the past and she meets his standards so I suppose that speaks volumes. I’ll probably get to know her a bit better in the future as we’ve now standing invitations to all holiday events at the house.
Later Friday night Steve/Morty showed up. Morty is shall we say a serious extrovert. Normally when people would show up there’d be formal introductions from either Nick Sr. or Beth but in Morty’s case he walked up to all of us, shook our hand and introduced himself. That’s a sign of extroversion if there ever is any. I imagine someday I’ll pick up the paper and see he’s run for elected office and actually won.
The treat of the night was that some people about a block or so away were shooting off fireworks on the edge of the water. The fireworks used were quite nice and it’s obvious that someone spent a fair bit of money on them. The nice thing was since it was right at the edge of Narragansett Bay you could see the ‘official’ fireworks in the east bay communities on the other side of the bay. Sure, nothing beats when they used to shoot the fireworks off near the State House in RI but this was very nice since there were no big crowds but plenty of people on decks, etc. watching the fireworks.
I was very disappointed that they canceled the show in Providence this year citing fire concerns. I swear, the new RI Fire Code is an exercise in stupidity. The code as it existed prior to the Station Fire was adequate to the task. The one question that was never answered was WHY the management of the club were granted occupancy increase after increase. But the RI law that shields public officials meant we’d never hear from the fire inspector who approved the increases. Had they just followed the existing code we’d not have seen such a tragedy occur. But it’s RI, lets beef up the code so that you drive every business owner be they small or large crazy with the new requirements.
Anyhow enough on that. We spent the night at their place on Friday night. Very nice guest room and it had all the amenities like Cable TV, air conditioning and an open kitchen. Even had a pop-out ironing board. You can tell that Beth and Nick like to entertain.
Saturday Beth had to open her store so Nick dropped her off in Providence and came back. Then Keyron and I went with Nick to Wickford, RI. It’s a quintessentially cute New England town with numerous mercantile establishments and a few antique stores. One of them has some fabulous stained glass rescued from decommissioned churches. I love stained glass for the color. Someday I might even be moved to make one of my own. It’s not really hard, just requires lead and the ability to solder and I’ve soldered everything from SMT to large RF connectors using soldering irons ranging from 15W up to 150W.
During Saturday when Nick went to get Beth I was put in temporary charge of watching the dog whose name if Lokki (Lock-Key). Lokki is a 60lb English Bulldog, she’s ugly-cute. But let me tell you something, those dogs have some serious torque. I found out that circling around the room means she has to go out so I took her out for a walk. She was literally pulling me and I’m 210lbs. However I keyed in on certain phrases to which she responded like “Let’s go.” She’d turn right around and head toward the door to the house.
Saturday night we watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I’ve never managed to see the entire movie. Very entertaining and my goodness, they make you absolutely HATE Dolores Umbridge from the very start, despite her predilection for pink! She’s just such a bitch.
I did a little bit of repair work on Beth and Nick’s computer. IE7 was just dogging the machine and their anti-virus application was hosing it too. Installed AVG8 (And yes, I know that it reports itself as IE when it goes checking the web sites) and Firefox 3. Nick was absolutely amazed at the speed difference. IE7 took a good 30 seconds to launch whereas Firefox 3 takes less then five seconds. And loading Yahoo’s home page in IE7 literally took over a minute where Firefox 3 loads it almost instantly.
Nick was sure the machine was infected with something but a scan with AVG reported no serious infections at all. I also introduced Nick to network video and RSS feeds. He’s a bit of a sports nut, so I subscribed him to the sports sections of Digg, Yahoo and the Providence Journal.
On Sunday we hit Wickford again this time with Beth along. We visited one the antique stores we’d missed but I can understand why. The prices were shall we say WAY out of line. They had some fully metal Tonka toys and the prices were in the $800 range. Damn! Makes me wish I’d kept my original Tonka and GI Joe toys from my childhood.
Another thing we did on Sunday was go to Smith Castle. It isn’t actually a castle but it once had 3,000 acres to it and was integrally involved with the slave trade. Now it’s down to a paltry 300 acres, oh the shame! The home was originally built in 1678 but was burned in the King Philips War and rebuilt in the 18th century but they used many elements of the original structure. All the beams in the building are chamfered with a diamond point at the end of each beam. This was indicative of someone with money.
Another interesting thing is that the interior of the house is in the original colors. The back stairway is white and an orange-pink trim on the stairways and banisters. The rooms were white, wood, blue, and green. They have a fully function loom that was used by itinerant weavers and they explained exactly how much thread was needed to make a dress. It’s a hell of a lot.
They also had a board with color sample for fabric and thread made using vegetable dyes. It literally spans the rainbow. Now we use petrochemicals to make long lasting dyes.
It’s definitely worth the $5 it costs for the tour of the facility as the docents are very knowledgeable about the house, people and things of the time. Another interesting aspect was the playing cards. Yes they had them even then and each had a political cartoon of some sort on them. I mentioned that we’d distributed cards to soldiers in Iraq with pictures of the most wanted on them and how it seems the practice never really went away.
After that we went down route 1A and found this restaurant with al fresco dining and lots of good fried seafood. Beth and Nick treated us to a nice feast. I had the fried scallops, Keyron had the clamcakes and chowder, Beth had fried clams and Nick had Fish and Chips. Very good stuff and the serving sizes were enormous.
All in all we had a very good time. I like Beth and Nick very much. Nick is an interesting guy, he’s a school psychologist and he has this amazing gift of being able to launch into long conversations with complete strangers. Beth and Keyron get along fabulously too. They’re people who we’ll stay in contact with I’m sure.
I also gave them some business tips like maybe setting up an S-Chapter corporation, and how much the tax rate is on inventory in East Greenwich. It’s significantly lower, about one fifteenth that in Providence. I also explained to Beth that there are several Open Source POS and inventory tracking applications available so I’ll be doing some work in that respect. I also recommended a CPA friend of mine since I know he’s capable and competent which they so desperately need.
So all in all that was our 4th of July weekend. When I think about it I’ve had some interesting 4ths from back 20 years ago when myself and a group of friends would go up to Bunganut Lake in Alfred, ME and camp out for the week to being in the city sweating and being right under the fireworks display. But this one was a very nice change.
And one final realization is that I’m very close to 1,776 words in this article. What more can I say, happy 4th of July to all my U.S. readers. Happy 4th of July.