Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sunglow Pier

We traded a Luperon week for a week at the Turtle Inn, a few miles south of Daytona Beach.

A mile walk south along the beach brought us to the Sunglow Pier, home of Crabby Joe's bar and Grill.

Crabby Joe's featured great breakfasts, fried oysters, chicken wings in chili sauce, and peel-and-eat shrimp. We visited at least once a day.

The Sunglow Pier offered a spectacular view, here looking north toward Daytona. The beach is open to automobiles (not just 4-wheelers) while the tide allows.

The Daytona Beach Pier was a colorful affair, but it was closed for off-season repairs.

The Ponce Inlet Light, few miles to the south, is the tallest lighthouse in Florida.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Goin' Up the Country

We made our annual mid-October trek up to Amy and Darrell's place in Meriden, New Hampshire, not far from Lebanon and Hanover. We got to see the peak foliage along Route 89 and celebrated Molly's birthday. Darrell built the house, the woodworking shop, and the chicken coop to match.

Even though Amy and Darrell have professional careers in medicine and education, they keep chickens and ducks and grow their own vegetables.

However, it was probably the beef cattle outside the kitchen window that made Amy realize, "Hey! I think I've been tricked! I think I live on a farm!"

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Evan's Big Day

Grandson Evan and his parents Matt and Christine visited us last weekend with hopes of joining us on one of our legendary Pickering Wharf dinner cruises. The forecast called for a blustery day, so we formulated a backup plan, a visit to Russell Orchards in Ipswich, in case Salem Sound was too rough for safe and comfortable boating.

When Matt and I pronounced the seas acceptable, we decided to go ahead with both the farm and the cruise.

Evan's first order of business was to select that special pumpkin. Christine has found a nice one, but Evan has his eye on another.

After hobnobbing with the local goose, pig, and turkey population, Evan turned his attention to one of the farm tractors.

Grampy and Mimi got into the act, much to Evan's amusement.

Later in the afternoon, we all climbed aboard Kilty's Wake for our cruise over to Salem. Evan showed a bit of consternation at first--all that water!

However, he quickly adapted and was soon back in high spirits, especially when bouncing over boat wakes. At dinner on Pickering Wharf, he again demonstrated his ability to charm twenty-something waitresses, a talent he had first revealed during August's visit to Popponesset.

Mimi and Grampy navigated the craft back to Beverly, ending an exciting but exhausting day.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Water, Wind, and Fire

For the second year in a row, we took Kilty's Wake out to watch the West Beach fireworks. As dusk approached and the nearly-full moon rose above Great Misery Island, the revelers anchored in Cocktail Cove awaited the show.

We anchored just south of the fireworks barge as the sun set over West Beach. The stiff breeze would be carrying any burning embers eastward...I hoped. The anchorage was continuously patrolled by the harbormaster, the coast guard auxiliary, and the fire department rescue boat. We enjoyed a sandwich supper as we waited.

The display began before the sky was quite dark.

We were so close that the explosions seemed directly overhead.

I even captured the perfect North Shore fireworks and lime green.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Three Amigos

Joe McShane, John Kane, and Vin Harrington visit the bicentennial tall ships parade in Newport, Rhode Island on July 1, 1976.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Tired of my moping around as my 60th approached, Kathy whisked me off to Boothbay Harbor for a few days, knowing that the combination of maritime scenery and harborside dining would restore my spirits.

View from our balcony

She found a hilltop hotel in West Boothbay overlooking a lake. Unfortunately, the weather discouraged us from using the free rowboats and canoes.

The eastern shore of the harbor offers dockage for recreational boats and is lined by small shops and restaurants. McSeagulls, our first evening choice, is the tan building on the right. We opted for traditional Maine fare for dinner.

McSeagull's has live music every night. We stayed late to hear this band composed of a keyboardist/singer, guitarist/dobro player, and drummer. Their version of "The Weight" was a highlight.

The west side of the harbor offers some larger establishments, and, as you head seaward, some rustic fish market restaurants.

The "famous" footbridge connects the two sides of the harbor. The cottage in the center was once the bridge tender's house, but is now privately owned.

On our second evening we visited the Boat House Bistro for tapas and a bottle of wine. It took us some time to work through the Glidden Point oysters, stuffed bread and warm olives, goat cheese prawns, and sausage sampler while enjoying the music of a local keyboardist/singer. We never even got to the margherita pizza.

My brother claims that all I write about lately is where I go and what I eat. I hate it when he's right.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fish Dinner

Tonight was to be one of our twice-weekly fish-for-dinner nights, so Kathy challenged me to go out and catch the entree. I did, a bluefish, which I filleted in the sink, coated with dijonnaise and black pepper, and grilled in foil.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Shem Creek

We went to Charleston to attend a wedding, but my second priority was finding some good low-country cuisine. It didn't take long--on our first evening we headed for Shem Creek, across the Ravenel/Cooper River Bridge from the city. The creek is lined by restaurants and shrimp boats. We settled on Vickery's, where I indulged in a dish called low-country saute which consisted of shrimp, crawfish tails, and crab over buttery grits, topped with a few fried oysters. We enjoyed watching the dolphins chase fish in the creek as we dined.

Yachts, restaurants, and bars line Shem Creek

We turned to Shem Creek for a second night, selecting RB's on the opposite shore. I took our server's advice and ordered the grilled, stuffed grouper.

Looking seaward from RB's, you see an array of shrimp boats along the bank. Our two visits to Shem Creek were memorable for both the food and the views. Oh yeah...and the company, too.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Happy first, Evan

"Evan, that's not a bad man. That's Grampy."

My grandson Evan has his first birthday today. Dad Matt and Mama Christine hosted a party on Saturday; all was going swimmingly until Evan spotted a scurrilous character with a salt-and-pepper mustache and goatee. His lower lip began to quiver and he soon gave voice to his displeasure.

Grampy Paul may have to rethink this facial hair business.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Proud Father Moment

Photograph by Matt McShane

Congratulations to my daughter, Erin Kate, for receiving her MSW from Boston College. She will be an outstanding advocate for the downtrodden in society.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Goodbye Bungalow

The Quincy bungalow has served the family well since 1969 or so. It was my parents' downsize house, purchased when youngest child John was in high school. They installed an in-ground pool to make up for selling the Falmouth cottage, and nicknamed the pool patio "Belmont Terrace."

It was the Grammy's pride and joy. She decorated it to her ornate tastes, including three chandeliers and sculpted wall-to-wall carpeting in the main rooms. The bungalow was the site of many a pool party, and most of the grandchildren learned to swim there.

After Dad passed away in 2001, it was soon apparent that the Grammy wouldn't be able to live alone. When she had to go to assisted living, I moved in and updated the decor, refinishing the white oak floors and replacing the yellowed colonial wallpaper with elegant colors from Benjamin Moore. I bought the house from the estate and lived there until moving to the North Shore to be with Kathleen. The final family tenant has been my daughter Erin, who has lived there while completing her MSW degree at Boston College.

A few days after my mentioning to neighbors that I was putting the house up for sale, one stopped by and asked if a young couple she knew could see it. They came for a tour, and two days later bought the house on a handshake--no brokers, no agents, no open houses.

The young couple is beyond excited. The house will be well-loved.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

Weeknights are usually quiet, but this week I've been out two nights already. I was staying over at the Quincy house to get some painting done, so friend and neighbor Tom B. and I went to Cambridge to catch the Session Americana Tuesday night music residency. We arrived at the Lizard Lounge at 8:15 and were the second and third persons admitted. This meant front row seats next to the sound man. We ordered up some beers and sandwiches and watched the crowd settle in.

The band went on promptly at 9:30, working around the table until each of the four usual soloists had done a song. The crowd was smaller than the one for St. Patrick's Day, but just as intense and not as annoyingly talkative. Tom was fascinated by the set-up, since he is attempting to put together an acoustic group himself (he just bought a Dobro to go with his Gibson 12-string, Martin Dreadnought, acoustic and electric basses, and two ukuleles).

As 11 o'clock approached, Ry Cavanaugh invited song suggestions, and I called for "Water (Never Runs Uphill)". The band obliged, playing the song as the second of three requests, then finished the set with The Band's "The Shape I'm In" and their own "Beer Town".

Back to the North Shore on Wednesday, I traded in the jeans and T-shirt for a dark suit to accompany Kathy to a Nordstrom's grand opening. The department chain had decided to use the occasion to recognize three local charitable groups, including Kathy's Friends of Beverly Hospital. The event included live music on the first floor, a Deejay and fashion show on the second, with food stations and open bars on both.

We took glasses of champagne and watched the band for a while, a capable cover band with three singers and a horn section. We went to the second floor where the deejay was pumping out hip-hop flanked by two trios of disconcertingly tall and thin models who shifted insouciant expressions and flouncy poses every thirty seconds or so. My sense of disorientation was alleviated when I located a food station that featured raw bar items--raw oysters and littlenecks always make me feel more at home.

I took a meander through the men's clothing section and gaped at the $76 price tag on a Vineyard Vines tie. To restore a sense of reason, I looked at a store label tie, which I expected to be cheaper. One hundred and thirty-six dollars. Huh?

Nordstrom's deserves credit for using its grand opening to honor local charities, but don't expect to see me shopping there. Water--it never runs uphill.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

St. Patrick's at the Lizard

Session Americana held their regular gig at the Lizard Lounge on the 17th. Kathy, Conor, and I arrived early and had some beers and nachos upstairs at the Cambridge Commons Restaurant, then picked up our tickets and headed downstairs.

We positioned our barstools behind the first row of tables and ordered some cheeseburger sliders to fortify us for the music. Some of the stringed instruments were arrayed before us, awaiting the show: guitar, mandocello, banjo, mandolin, and fiddle.

We were this close. The band, an all-star aggregation of the Boston area's best folk/roots musicians, played some songs from their usual set lists and added in some Irish numbers and guest musicians. Pictured above, from the left, are Sean Staples (usually on mandolin), drummer Billy Beard, fiddler/accordionist/guitarist Dinty Child, guitarist Ry Cavanaugh, and a guest viola player.

We managed to applaud without spilling a drop.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Bungalows

Our week at Puerto Plata's #1 resort was an exercise in luxury and decadence. The resort was located on a hilltop above the more pedestrian Sun Village.

Initially, we took frequent golf cart rides down the hill to use the beach and visit the theme restaurants, but more and more we stayed up top for the in-pool chaise lounges and the superior food and beverages at the Bungalows restaurant, the Social. It was at the pool that Boss befriended Wallace Poole, a musician who performs a Willie Nelson tribute.

The Social Restaurant: unlimited Glenfiddich, filet mignon with bordelaise sauce, and passionfruit creme brulee

We had a suite of three rooms, two large bedrooms and a central room with galley kitchen, dining area, and living room. All three rooms had plasma televisions, Jacuzzis, and full baths. The rooms had large, airy, interconnected verandas, perfect for reading with a Brugal aƱejo.

The Queen of Quirkiness

As usual Kathy kept the proceedings moving. She had some memorable lines that amused us all, including these:

>On tipping the golf cart drivers--"Two dollars, or one at the most."

>On setting the AC-- "I punched some buttons." (She'd set it to heat.)

>While reading City of Thieves--"How many chickens can an egg lay in a week?"

>On being able to rent purchased weeks--"Lourdes (the agent) said 60-40. That's 50%."

>On dressing for dinner, and our concierge-- "I want to talk to Davio when I change into my capris."

We also had a couple of misadventures. I was reading on the bed when Kathy decided to take a bubble bath in the jacuzzi 20 feet away. Suddenly, I got hit with a stream of soapy water worthy of a water cannon (the top jet hadn't been covered by the water when Kathy turned it on). Pages 42-3 of Suttree will never be the same.

And finally, the TSA agent who inspected Kathy's carry-on was shocked to find a quart of tapioca pudding. Her explanation, "But I just bought it," did not get it on the plane.

Ah, but it's quirks such as these--and savvy, and charm--that make Kathy the best traveling companion that I've ever known.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Hasta la Vista, Baby 2009 edition

Um, another rum runner? Sure, why not.

Tomorrow, we leave for The Bungalows resort in Puerto Plata, DR. I look forward to a daily schedule of breakfast, beach, lunch, poolside reading, workout, cocktail hour, dinner, live music. It's a grind, but I've been getting ready for weeks.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

John's Visit

Brother John made his annual mid-January trek up from Silver Spring this past weekend. He looked great--about 25 pounds lighter than the last time I saw him. He arrived on Saturday, and after his Grammy visit and a nap, drove up to Beverly to see the house and sample some North Shore seafood.

We took him to The Village Restaurant in Essex. I'd given Mark Ricci, the owner, a heads-up that we'd be bringing in a true clam aficionado, and Mark was ready.

We started with the chowder, which really is startlingly flavorful. John pronounced it "spectacular" before moving on to the fried clam appetizer. The clams at The Village, like the nearby Clam Box and Woodman's, are lightly breaded and cooked in lard--hard on the arteries but wonderful on the taste buds. Another slam dunk.

John had liked the chowder so much that he returned to it for his main dish, a huge crockful this time. I had haddock, and Kathy had a dinner salad. For dessert, we had the white chocolate bread pudding. I had to nix following that with chocolate lava cake. Enough is enough.

On Sunday, despite considerable snow, the non-Florida members of the family gathered at Belmont Street. Erin hosted John, Marc, Paula, Matt, Christine, Kathy, me, and the three great-grandchildren. Evan got to hang out with his second cousins, Megan and Joseph. Cuisine was provided by Great Chow, with crab rangoon a particularly hot item.

On Monday, John and I went to Queen Anne together. John made his expectations abundantly clear to the staff. The Grammy wasn't very responsive during the visit, very much like I'd seen her during her November hospitalization.

We went back to John's hotel and worked out in the exercise club, then headed for the Alumni, where we each downed a bar pizza and a few beers. Cousin Jack (aka "Whitey" at the Alumni) was uncharacteristically not in attendance.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Grammy Report 1/15/09

The Grammy was unaware that it was her birthday when I arrived on Thursday. I found her asleep in her wheelchair in the activities room. Back in her room, she became excited when she realized I'd brought rum cake, but I had to spoon it into her mouth for her. She did grasp the humor in the cat-themed birthday card I'd brought.

I had a lengthy conversation with the nurses at the station. They were a bit embarrassed at not knowing it was Mum's birthday. She is off of all meds except eyedrops. She had been accepted for hospice service, and I have the name of the hospice and the assigned nurse.

The main concern seems to be her eating, so I am going to see if the hospice can provide a health aide to help her eat her main meal each day.

John arrives for three days of visits today.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Cure for Winter

It's 11 degrees out at the moment, and the high tomorrow is predicted to be 6. However, there is relief in sight--in 16 days we head for warm sand and surf in the Caribbean. Our destination is The Bungalows in the Dominican Republic, according to Tripadvisor the #1 resort in the Puerto Plata area.

Somehow Kathy has finagled a comp'd bungalow on the beach, with ocean views and two bedrooms. We'll be joined by Joan the sunworshipper and Boss, who will be reprising his "El Congrejo" persona. The resort is all-inclusive, so once again Boss and I will be trying to eat and drink our money's worth by noon.

Each year the winter getaway seems less like a luxury and more like a necessity. There was a time when I enjoyed riding a high-speed quad to the top of Wildcat, but those days are gone. Give me sand, salt, and surf.

Photograph from Tripadvisor

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The blog is dead. Long live the blog.

Below is the last entry in my long-time public blog, "Brininess and Volubility". "Kilty's Wake" is the private, family-oriented blog that I'll be maintaining in its place.

Thank you, and Goodnight

The time has come to bring this journal to an end.

It began on AOL as "Trickle of Semi-consciousness" in April, 2003. It migrated to Blogspot in November of 2005 as "Single Man Writing", and evolved into "Brininess and Volubility" as the course of my life changed. Much to my amusement, it made a minor internet celebrity out of my mother, who never touched a computer in her life.

Now I find that it has become somewhat repetitive and is on the way to becoming stale. I think a private, family-oriented photo-blog suits me better as I embrace grandfatherhood and approach the age of sixty. I would like to acknowledge the loyal band of readers who have paid heed to my words. You are not many, but you are kind.

I leave you with some Irish reggae from my boys from Galway.