Posts Tagged 'Easthampton'

A hundred in between

uncle_charles_104We spent the weekend admiring our grandson in Western Massaachusetts. He is obsessed with the moon and is lucky he can see the moon just about every night. But shiny bright round things are also included in the broad definition of what constitutes moon. he can hardly babble about anything else.

His English vocabulary is expanding fast and I can sometimes understand him, not quite as good as his parents but nearly recognizable. His Dutch vocabulary is following at a slower pace but his mom is helping to reinforce the new words. It is terminally cute when he says with a straight face that a plane overhead is a ‘vliegtuig’ and his cup with milky tea a ‘kopje thee.’

On Sunday we all piled in one car and drove the two and a half hours to Fairhaven on the South Shore to congratulate Axel’s uncle Charles (his mom’s youngest brother) with his birthday. Youngest brother sounds a bit funny for someone who has turned 104. He is the only survivor of that generation.

Faro’s entrance in the parlor of the old peoples’ home where Uncle Charles’ party was held was no less than spectacular and brought down the average age in the room by a few decades. Everyone’s face lit up. And Faro, being the sunny child he is, obliged.

There was live piano music of old tunes people could sing along with, there was cake and coffee and pie. And then there was Uncle Charles with a golden crown that had a piece of paper pasted onto it with the number 104. A local newspaper photographer snapped pictures of four generations and busily wrote down family relationships to understand who was who and get the captions right.

Tessa drove down from Dorchester, a mere 45 minutes away, and joined in the fun, with the extra benefit of having some time with her nephew. When we parted it was dark and rainy. The two and a half hour back was a little much for all of us but especially for young Faro who could only be distracted so much with songs and looking for the moon (too cloudy).

We spent another night in Easthampton and then I drove home to start cleaning my desk to allow for a stress-free recovery, while Axel and Sita had a business call in a nearby town. Axel bused in at the end of the day.

I picked him up at the Boston bus station for a dinner party at a colleague’s house in Cambridge to welcome colleagues from Kinshasa and Pretoria. It made for one very long but very productive day and a wonderful weekend.

Ahead of the phantom storm

2013-02-23 20.59.41

2013-02-23 23.27.23We went (Nordic) skiing in western Massachusetts. It had been planned as a family event but Steve was working and Tessa couldn’t figure out what to do with the dogs. But Faro came along. We rented a x-ski sled that Jim tied around his waist and Faro, after some initial protest, went to sleep while the sled bumped in and out icy grooves in back if him. Even a few falls of papa didn’t faze them.

And so we circled around Bliss field, named after the owners of the field who may well be distant relatives of Jim. It was mostly flat which suited all of us low-confidence skiers quite well.

Afterwards we sat by the fire of the x-country ski center – maple syrup producing farm and snacked on hot cider, maple goodies, soup, chili and grilled comfort food.

Back home we found another set of grandparents had arrived. We spent the next hours making pastas from scratch: home made ricotta/spinach ravioli and linguini freshly made with Sita’s newly acquired hand cranked pasta maker. Red wine provided the lubrication for a smooth operation with way too many people in the kitchen.

This morning the young parents took advantage of having two sets of grandparents in the house and slept in, a rare treat. For us also a rare treat, having Faro to ourselves. I gave him a bath, my first, and so I was rather unprepared for the enthusiastic splashing which left both of us soaked.

And now the parents are preparing for their performance as musicians in a Pioneer Valley variety show with their Bunwinkies band. The snow storm didn’t materialize here in Western Massachusetts, a good thing, but further east it did snow we hear which may prevent some family members from attending.


I am playing scrabble on several fronts: via my smart phone with my sister, one game after another, all of which she wins by a huge margin, in any language except Spanish; I also play with my my friend Andrew whose attendance is spotty, and who is not as good as my sister so I may actually win; and then Sita and I each started a game with the other at the same time, making for a tandem game that discloses how late Sita goes to bed.

And then we played real old-fashioned board scrabble – although it wasn’t total traditional as we were all armed with our smart phone app of the Merriam Webster dictionary to make sure the word was OK – that was our convention – which prevented much haggling and horse trading during the game. My sisters’ difficult games are paying off as I am much better versed in the allowable 2 and 3 letter words.

In between scrabble games Sita took us on a hike. With my painful shoulder and ankle I requested a level walk on more or less even terrain. But soon I found myself pulling at twigs and branches as I worked the steep path up the 1000+ ft rock formation that splits Easthampton and beyond from the Connecticut River and the rest of the world. Sita told us it is called the Tofu curtain, setting the five college towns apart from the blue collar world of Holyoke, Springfield and other non tofu towns.

We left western Mass too late for Axel to be seated with beer in hand at the opening of the Super Bowl. He dropped me off – I have no interest in football – and hurried off to the excitement at the house of one of Sita’s inlaw pairs (she has two).

I stayed home, by the fire, watching endless repeats of Downton abbey, after a documentary of British royal weddings – all variations on a theme with enormous ‘piles of bricks’ dominating the scenery at every twist and turn. It’s the ideal setup for finishing knitting projects: two done, countless more to go. Axel returned disappointed with a bag full of leftover Super Bowl food which served us well for a late evening snack and lunch.

May 2018
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