Posts Tagged ‘Providence’

In my last post, I promised to share more information about a couple of the books that are in this photo.

bookslibrary

Going to the neighborhood library and appreciating your tax dollars at work was #5 on Mary’s “Wintry Mix” list.

In that same vein (sort of) I respectfully piggy back on the reading theme in this post for #6.

Go local.

Okay, I really wanted to type “Go loco” above instead of Go local. But I didn’t.

Support not just your local library but the local authors and bookstores. And authors who write about your locale or community.

Honestly, not sure why but I always feel like I’ve got some skin in the game when I’ve got one of those books in my hands.

Like I get all, “That’s my neighborhood. My town. My state. My people.” You can just imagine me with a puffed out chest. And not a puffed out post menopausal belly. Full of pride.

About two months ago I met Jeanne Mc Williams Blasberg at this literary event in Providence. She was on her own so there were a couple of extra chairs begging for middle-aged occupants. Jeanne was kind enough to allow me (and a friend) to sit at her table.

Got chatting, as one does, and I absolutely did the whole Rhode Island thing. That is to relentlessly dig until you find out what or who we have in common. I usually have the energy for it. That night was no exception.

Well, we are both mothers, both lived in California and both did the expat overseas gig. Okay, sure, that could be enough to keep a semi-decent conversation going between people who just met- before the event and during intermission.

Then I found out she was an author.

Wait, what?

She has a book “Eden” floating out there and a new one being published soon.

Truthfully, between you and me, I think I might be an authorphile. You could put me in a room with Tom Brady and a writer and I be like, “Tom, I will totally hook up with you in a few. I swear. Just gotta catch up with Jeanne here.”

Tom Brady dropped like a hot potato by JBM. True story. Ain’t gonna lie.

I’m always curious about every human being but now I have questions galore for this stranger at my table. Her table. She was there first.

“Wait, how do you spell your name? Plasberg? Is that with a P? What’s it about? Where does it take place?”

Blah. Blah. Blah.

I might have been a little loud because, well, I am loud. That’s who I am. And it was in a dark bistro (I know that dark should not matter for sound but neither should immediate radio music turn down when looking for a house number while driving) with a crowd of other ladies all excited to be at a watering hole with their ilk. So their noise level didn’t help mine.

“Eden” is set in my home state of Rhode Island. A fictional coastal town many natives might recognize. A novel about a family and secrets. How the lens might originally be black and white but gets a little grainy and gray (Thank you, Jesus!) with each new generation.

I really enjoyed it. Jeanne incorporates historical events-whether economic collapse or a world war-as a back drop to give the reader a feel for the time and its social mores.

Okay, Jeanne is not native to Rhode Island but she has a place with us now. Not everyone can be born here. We just don’t have the room. But as people leave or the older folks depart then spaces open up and we need to be welcoming. And then supportive.

When I was at the library poking around I noticed they had a section, by the check out desk, that had books written by local authors or about the area.

Well, why wouldn’t I read them?

I brought home Mary Cantwell’s “American Girl: Scenes from a Small-Town Childhood.” Mary was an editor and columnist for the New York Times but grew up in Bristol, Rhode Island. This book is filled with lovely memories of her childhood in this seaside town during the 1940s and 1950s. It’s like finding someone’s diary. I feel like everyone has a story. Hers was a pleasant one. Added bonus was I had a better understanding of the town’s history after reading this simple, old-fashioned memoir.

As you can see in the photo I had also grabbed Bernie Mulligan’s, “I Made It.” A story set in the town of East Providence where I was raised. I didn’t read it yet but I will. I had too many open books at the time.

This book is about a woman who was fully paralyzed from polio. She also had four sons under the age of seven when it happened! Can you even imagine?

I am so surprised I never knew about this. It’s a story of family love and commitment. Her husband fixed up an old bus so that she and her family could travel. When he passed away the neighborhood kids collected 6000 books of Green Stamps to buy a Winnebago. Or a caravan for my European readers. The newly licensed young neighbors all took turns driving her across the country to the Pacific Ocean. Oh my gosh. That’s God’s work right there. Makes me proud to be a Townie. I definitely have to read this.

Couple of books from Ann Leary in that photo. Northeast girl living in New England. I love her books. She just gets me. LOL I mean, I just get her. She’s married to comedian Denis Leary but I feel like she actually might be the funny one in that relationship. These two books (in the photo) were good but I loved, “The Good House.” I remember laughing out loud while reading it. Very few authors make me LOL. I also really liked her book “The Children.”

Not in the above photo but here is another book I recently enjoyed. Staying with the local vibe.

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When I was born my parents lived in a tenement. I get it. When my husband and I bought our first home it was in Providence. A condo on the East Side. In a freaking tenement! I still haven’t heard the end of that one. But when I walked in, after the Boston group that owned it did their rehab and tagged the three floors as condos, I fell in love with the original wood floors gleaming on a sunny day. I coveted the fireplace that had been there for ages.

We’ll take it!

What I didn’t consider was that the bathroom had no heating. At all. That original, like the drafty windows we could barely open, wasn’t always a good thing.

Still. So many fabulous memories in that place. No regrets.

Anyway.

I consider the purchase of this book a trifecta. I supported a local book store Twenty Stories, a Providence author and really enjoyed this memoir. Filled with quirky tenants, boyfriends and lore.

That’s it for my #6 on getting through winter! Enough about books already. I’ll lay off bookspeak for awhile. I’m exhausted. Yes, it has to do with books. I will tell you why in another blog posting. Not the next one. But someday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today, I was looking up into the trees at a local park. There is a bird call that I hear all day long here in Delhi. Belongs to the Brown-headed Barbet. A small bird with a green body.

Took this photo a couple of days ago. Not great quality.

barbet

For some reason I associate this bird’s sound with the noise at crosswalks. The one which signals blind folks that it is safe to cross the road.

So all day, like the Pavlovian dog, I just keep wanting to cross the street. Safely. Thank you, barbets.

I looked up trying to find the little sucker.

Imagine my surprise when this is what I see. In the middle of the day. Again, not the best photo taken with my phone. But I think you can figure out what it is.

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Then I realize there are two sets of eyes on me.

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Definitely not barbets.

So cool.

I was laughing because I attempted to take photos at different angles. In front. Behind. Didn’t matter because his eyes were always on me. Sort of like Jesus’ eyes in a picture my Aunt Rose Marie use to have hanging in her house. Always following. I thought of the old saying, “Eyes in the back of your head.”

It really is fascinating how their heads can do the 360 degree turn thingy.

The first time I have ever seen an owl, outside of captivity, was this past January. My husband and I attended an event at a place in Providence, Rhode Island. A Snowy Owl happens to reside on the roof. We caught sight of him while we were leaving.

Owls are cool.

To me.

I remember when my friend, Maria-Ann, and I ran a resale charity shop for a short while in Kuala Lumpur. We had a cute, wooden owl statue for sale. None of the Chinese customers gave it a second glance.

My friend mentioned that it didn’t give off positive vibes in the Chinese culture.

A lot of folks (from my part of the world) associate owls with age and wisdom.

Plenty of owls (with black, thick rimmed spectacles) on graduation cards in the United States. Every May stuffed owls or statues appear on the shelves in Hallmark stores. Ready to be purchased for the graduate-to-be.

Chinese do not have the same association. Believe owls are bad luck.

I get it. Everyone is different.

Here in India?

Owls are thought to bring good luck around the Diwali holiday.

That’s nice.

If sacrificed.

What?????

Folks looking to improve their financial situation think that the sacrificing of an owl will help.

India protects all of the species but there is a bustling black market that exists. Selling owls for hefty fees. All year round for different cures or luck but especially around the holiday.

You can even pay to have someone do the killing for you.

Now, we all have our beliefs, superstitions, etc. but I’m thinking if a person has to kill a living creature to enhance some aspect of their own life maybe a little regrouping is in order. A look at alternative, legal options in that quest for good luck.

Leave the owls alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A few years ago I was walking along a beach with my cousin, Joanne. She would stop, every so often, to excavate a piece of glass from the sand. I had no real interest in this scavenger hunt. Didn’t really know why anyone would want to collect bits of glass on a beach. But everyone is different. We all have our hobbies.

This past January my husband and I moved into a new home that overlooks a bay. A waterway that leads from the Atlantic Ocean to the Port of Providence in Rhode Island.

Even though it was winter, we still walked down by the water to take in the fresh air and the bay views.

I began to notice small pieces of glass. Would just catch my eye. Here and there.

Each tide swept in treasures from the sea. Big wooden pilings, driftwood, shells, rocks, some trash and sea glass.

Sea glass is man made glass (old bottles, dishes, etc.) that has tumbled around the ocean for possibly decades. The sharp edges are dull and soft as a result of its travels. Its surface, once shiny, is now frosted.

Way back in the day people dumped their trash in the ocean. To avoid keeping it on land where it could attract unwanted vermin that spread all sorts of yucky things. Ships also used the water as a convenient place to dispose of their refuse.

Sea glass was once trash but now appears on shores ready and ripe for upcycling.

A shard from a beer bottle thrown overboard could be made into a beautiful pendant forty years later. Sort of interesting.

I am now a collector of sea glass. Once you pick up your first piece and all that. Always on the search for another one. Looking for the pièce de résistance. Not just the green, brown or white ones that were the popular bottle colors of the day. 

It started out innocently enough. I saw a piece of old glass that washed ashore. Picked it up and put the smooth, frosted treasure in my jacket pocket. Wait. There’s another one. And another. Soon my pockets were full and smelled like the ocean.

After a week or so I had a bunch.

seaglass1.jpg

This vase is the result of four beach combing sessions.

I headed out whenever I could. It was very cold on some days (my husband thought it was quite unhealthy for me to be out there) but I felt an amazing calm being by the water. It was therapeutic.

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I collected the glass while I listened to the Canadian Geese honking and landing in unison with a big swoosh.

Other than a few unnatural muffled noises in the distance like the hunters targeting ducks, small clam boats and ship horns it was very quiet each day.

bay1

I totally enjoyed the tranquility that accompanied my beach combing.

Why does the tide deliver pieces of sea glass to our shore?

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The location. Our home is in New England so the weather and tides can get stormy and riled up a bit. A little more than depicted in this photo.

It’s also situated on a busy waterway leading into a port so I am sure there was a lot of trash thrown from the ships in the past. As well as residents of yesteryear dumping on the shores.

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The beach is also rocky and filled with shells after each tide so it’s easier for pieces of glass to get caught on the shore.

As a result of this new discovery I’ve read a lot about sea glass. And everything that popped into my mind has already sort of been written about and totally covered. By those who have been bitten by this bug long before me.

Like I’ve wondered about the origins of certain pieces when I picked them up.

Was it once a bottle that contained a scrolled up love note? Could it have just been a wayward whisky jug shard that was once whole and shared during a drunken night around a camp fire? Was it a lost and broken piece from a terrific shipwreck?

Others have had similar imaginings.

I have also entertained, in my head, the many ways that these newfound treasures could be used. Yup, tons of other people way ahead of me. The internet is chock full of ideas. Jewellery, art, home decor and more.

I mean, it really is a thing.

Who knew?

seaglass2

There are jewellery making classes in nearby shops. Sea glass shows and conventions. Lots of other things that I honestly did not know existed.

A few tidbits and I will take my leave.

Most countries no longer dump their trash into the oceans. So the opportunities to find sea glass will eventually diminish.

Not everything is trash. In fact, most things can be recycled, reused, or upcycled. Just have to really think about it!

A diamond is taken from the earth and refined by man. Sea glass is originally made by man but refined by nature.

Sea glass can also be a metaphor for life. No one gets through unscathed, right?

Waves knocking us down. Getting a few dents and chips in the process. The current throwing us around a bit. Losing our luster. Edges no longer sharply defined. Clarity sort of dulled.

Sounds kind of depressing until we see the transformation of the surviving pieces.

The frosted hue, softness, beauty and imperfections that are you.

Sea glass.

Really, who knew?

Cheers to your next discovery and have a lovely day!

 

 

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tower

This tower has been around for as long as I can remember. At Route 1 and 138 in South Kingstown.

My friend Sean drove me to the beach town a couple of weeks ago to check out some homes for sale. As we were stopped at the intersection’s traffic light I looked around for it. Because that’s what everyone does. I couldn’t see it from where we were positioned. The area looked a bit overgrown with trees and bushes.

I asked Sean if that was the location of the tower. And if it was still there.

Wasn’t sure. He’s a native New Yorker so he wouldn’t have driven by the landmark every summer and automatically look for it.

Later in the day I did a bit of googling. Didn’t take me long to get results. I sent a photo to Sean and he totally remembered the tower.

It’s sort of a unique thing on the side of a road. And not something you forget.

The tower is still there.

Here’s the interesting part.

There’s a story behind it.

It’s called Hannah Robinson’s Tower.

Hannah was the beautiful and beloved daughter of a very wealthy man named Rowland Robinson.

He sent his daughter to school in Newport. She soon fell in love with her French tutor. His name was Peter Simon.

Rowland did not think the teacher was a suitable match for his daughter and she was not allowed to see him.

The couple continued to meet secretly. With the help of someone in the family they eloped and moved to Providence.

Her father was furious and even put up some money as a reward to find out who helped them escape.

Hannah would have nine children. They lived in extreme poverty.

Her husband, realizing that he would never get his hands on a penny of the Robinson fortune, had affairs and eventually abandoned his wife and children.

The poor woman became sickly due to her living conditions.

Hannah’s father was still angry. Wanted to know who helped her leave and would only let her back in the family if he was told. Rowland headed toward Providence to see Hannah.

But his heart melted when he saw his child near death. He packed her up and brought her back home to Narragansett.

She asked her father to pull over at James Mc Sparran’s farm so that she could sit and look over her homeland. With a view of Narragansett Bay.

This is the spot where the tower now stands.

Hannah Robinson died at the age of twenty seven on October 30, 1773.

Seems there’s always a story.

 

 

 

 

 

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Nearly thirty years ago, my friend picked me up at the house for the morning drive to work in downtown Providence. He worked for the Providence Journal at the time and I was working for the phone company. That’s what we called it back then. As in, “She has a job with the phone company.” Was actually AT&T.

He was never much of a driver. More of a bus guy. As in riding the bus. Not driving it.

But I hopped in the passenger side of his grandfather’s little jeep. Took the entrance to the highway. Just about to round the bend that quickly straightens to merge with the other lanes leading into the city. Never got to do the merge thingy.

Darn curve.

Because that jeep was tossed over on its side. Like a flapjack not quite completing the perfect flip. (flapjack=pancake)

These things happen so quickly. Hard to get your bearings when you are checking for injuries and fighting gravity.

Everything’s dark. I’m blind! I’m blind! Funnily enough, I can feel a comforting wool fabric. So I pull down my errant skirt.

And then, of course, I finally see the light. I once was blind but now I see. From the window I squint and spy a haloed black man standing on the jeep looking down at us. My first thoughts were, “Oh my God!” (literally) and “My friend was right! Jesus is black.”

He held out his arms, pulled me up and out of the car. I was saved. Just keeping with the Jesus theme.

I was so grateful it was just a minor accident with neither one of us hurt. Not a scratch on us. I still made it to work.

But often wonder what makes some people so quick to jump in and do the right thing. To rescue. How is it that they just appear out of nowhere?

Are they angels?

Nearly seven years ago, Rory’s friend, Veronica, was hit by a car. Fourteen years old. Crossing the street on her way home from school. On a beautiful Dallas afternoon.

I remember quickly finding out that it was a friend of mine who rushed out of her car and went to help. A very sweet woman who was in my book club. She also had a son who was the same age as Rory and Veronica.

She went to the stricken child. And held her. Smoothed her hair and her clothes. And told her that it was going to be okay. And whispered more comforting assurances. That Veronica most likely never heard.

We lost Veronica two weeks later. It was very difficult. To say the least.

But I was able to tell her mom that Veronica had an angel with her. Someone was with her baby girl and comforted her while they waited for her to be careflighted to the hospital. She was not alone. I also told her that God could not have placed a better person there that day.

There are angels everywhere. The ones who rescue. The ones who offer assistance. The ones who hold out their hands. The ones who gently whisper comforting words.

And they appear out of nowhere.

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No good deed goes unnoticed. I would take it one step further and say no good deed is ever forgotten.

When I first married my husband we would sometimes go grab a bite at the Greek sandwich place in “The Arcade” in Providence.

The Arcade was a lovely, historical building. It was the first enclosed shopping mall in the United States. Built in 1828. Looked like a Greek temple.

The owner was a young guy named Steve. He was always so glad to see my husband. When he spotted my husband he would greet him by his first name and it was always followed by, “my friend.” Said with the utmost warmth.

His older parents, when they were working in the restaurant, were also always glad to see my husband. Big smiles all around for him.

We would sometimes run into Steve at another Greek place on the East Side of Providence. Where we used to sit outside in the summer, whiling away the evening (pre-kids) with conversation and people watching. He would sit and chat with us.

I once asked my husband, “How did you guys meet?”

Apparently one day, my husband (then a college student) was in The Arcade and noticed Steve’s parents, just over from Greece, working behind the counter. Steve was not there at the time. It was lunchtime in the city and the crowd was growing. Steve’s parents were getting a bit flustered and/or overwhelmed with the cash register and the crowd. I can’t remember if the waiting folks were getting antsy or upset.

I do remember that my husband jumped behind the counter and took over the register. And started helping them out.

When he relayed the story to me there was no braggadocio in it. More a recounting of an amusing episode.

This would not be the first time that I heard or saw my husband stepping in, without second thought, when he saw someone in need. I would observe this many times in the twenty-seven years we’ve been married.

It is just a reminder that sometimes we forget how even the smallest act of kindness can ripple and reverberate. And how we can all be a positive association for our fellow human beings.

Never to be forgotten.

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