Saturday, December 31, 2011


It's been quite a month (and year). And it's almost over. Finally. As I walked down Lower Thames today doing a few of the inevitable gift returns — if only one could return or exchange imperfect/unwanted experiences in similar fashion — I was thinking about that: how I'm really rather glad to see 2011 slipping into the rear view mirror. Not to say it didn't have highlights. Bright spots. Stars, so to speak. A few. A good number, if I think about it hard enough. And I guess that's the essential issue at hand, i.e., it's all about what sorts of spots, bright or otherwise, one chooses to focus upon in defining any given year, season or day ...

Sunday, December 4, 2011


In describing our time aboard a pirate ship of sorts (whose history is really way more illustrious) the other day, I failed to mention that we checked out the captain's quarters. Quite the pad. Love the windows. Seriously cool waterfront real estate. And that reminded me — 'cause one thing always leads to another — of another Captain's quarters ...

That's Captain (right there ^^). He belongs to some friends ... though, in Captain's view, they most definitely belong to him. I take no credit for the image — thanks, A & K!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

merry merry

The tree lighting in Washington Square took place earlier this evening ... and we missed it. Mr. Betty's out of town; I plum (plumb?) forgot.

We did, however, manage to take in the very first (at least I think it was the first) event of the holiday season last Friday, being Black Friday, which sounds way too sinister if you ask me, even if it makes good sense/cents in an accounting sort of way. Seriously, why not call it Green Friday? Green would connote money and profitability just as well as black, wouldn't it? And holiday cheer at the same time?

But back to the first event, being the illuminated boat parade around Newport Harbor on what turned out to be a PERFECT day and night, weather-wise. Everything-wise, really. Both Darling Daughter and Super Son were home for Thanksgiving. And both had friends head to the City by the Sea on Friday evening to join them for the well-lit affair and whatever activities arose afterward.

Which in this case included an after-party — after the parade, not after the bars closed (that'd be way too late for me & Mr. Betty) — aboard a pirate ship followed by burgers & beer at Pour Judgment.

Pretty cool that the vessel – the historic Sloop Providence, built as a replica for the occasion of Tall Ships '76 (something I remember well, which is rather alarming) — was featured in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. "Dead Man's Chest," in the interest of specificity. We had occasion to climb aboard and hang out with the crew at some point during the summer, too ...

And then today, almost a whole week later (where did it go?) and just a few hours prior to the official Christmas in Newport kickoff at the aforementioned tree-lighting ceremony, I saw a guy waist-deep and wading farther into the now-empty harbor off King Park with all his foul gear on. Must say, it was alarming, even moreso than forgetting the tree-lighting, and brought to mind extreme if not desperate poor judgment.

I finally called out (there was no one else in sight), "Everything OK?"

At which he turned, waved and said, "Yeah, it's just crabs."

Glad that's settled ....

Monday, November 21, 2011


I was sitting on the lawn between the King House and the library on a warmish morning a few weeks back ... doing nothing in particular except sipping coffee and taking periodic bites of one of those ginormous, super-healthy (I presume) muffins from "A" Market ... just minding my own business, basically, while looking out over the gentle downward slope and sleepy late-fall scene with no more than the occasional car rolling/bumping past on Spring Street below ... when someone pulled up behind me in a pick-up truck.

The driver got out, moved to the back (the bed?) of the truck and started tugging on a large, limp, lifeless bag. At this point I recognized him and got up to help. It was a sail bag, of course, and as we hauled it onto the grass I learned that this local captain had purchased a new (to him) boat — an 80-foot ocean racer of some sort — with another captain/friend and sought to check out the condition of the spinnaker.

So we stretched out the bag, slid out the sail (it took some doing), tied head and clew to two trees, and let the wind do the rest ...

Thursday, November 17, 2011


The first and only time I did karaoke in a bar, I sang "It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To." Don't ask me why: why I chose it, why I sang at all. Truth be told, I recall getting pretty into the whole feel of the thing by the last chorus ...

Which has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the It's My Party Bake Shoppe on William Street is closed as of today. Not that it's gone; it just moved next door to Newport Chocolates. Yes, the two shops have merged (products, logos, location) to form something new — sweet! — though I'm so glad they preserved something old at the same time, that being the pineapple, Newport's symbol of hospitality.

I said as much to Patrick, one of the owners, who was standing on the sidewalk outside the new shop(pe) this morning as I walked past with ritual coffee in hand. Patrick had just taken down the white paper that's been making a mystery of what's going on behind the windows of the new/old destination to reveal some very sweet tables and pink chairs, meaning we can all sit and eat cupcakes (among other things, but the cupcakes are especially yummy) in comfort and style, starting today.

And I assume they'll still carry Mr. Betty's and my favorite: 72% dark chocolate covered blueberries a.k.a blueberry cordials ...

Which, in turn, has nothing to do with the two, sweet girls I encountered in Touro Park the other day. I really dug one girl's boots — they were pink — and told her so. Then, feeling badly about singling her out in the company of her friend, I complimented the friend's look, too. I wasn't being insincere; both girls had style.

The two were standing, posing, taking a photo before the Old Stone Mill. Apparently, one of the pink-booted girl's friends back home (she's from Russia) is putting together some sort of birthday card for yet another friend, in yet another distant/distinct location, i.e., the message will be pieced together with words from around the globe — how sweet is that?? So the contribution being held up before Newport's oldest and most mysterious structure said something to the effect of "who has qualities such as." That's it. Just a piece of a sentence, the message, the puzzle ...

Which, of course, has nothing to do with my own puzzle, my own life (or yours) or the whole collective worldwide party for that matter. Except, somehow, it does ...

Oops, I left out what started this whole train/chain of thought in the first place ...

Sunday, November 13, 2011


On a typical Sunday morning at this time (9:25), I'd be sitting in the kitchen flipping through the newspaper while sipping coffee and waiting for the bells to start ringing their weekly mini-concert from Channing Church, on nearby Touro Park.

That IS, in fact, what I'm doing at this precise moment, although the morning has been entirely atypical otherwise. I've been up for hours upon hours ... and I'm no early bird (just ask Mr. Betty). I'm thinking of changing my ways, however, thanks to some inspiring words from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who addressed the 2000 or so runners gathered at the base of the Newport Bridge — the Jamestown side — just before sunrise. According to Whitehouse: "Anything worth doing is worth getting up in the middle of the night for."

Or something like that. I wasn't paying very close attention, and I didn't have a pencil or even a smart phone handy to take notes, because I was getting ready to run – not that I'm a runner, but who could resist the opportunity to take part in the Citizens Bank Inaugural Newport Pell Bridge Run?

Well, in all honesty, I could have resisted, but Mr. Betty made me do it. Scratch that: he strongly suggested. And he was right, of course; it was special. Really special. The public hasn't been allowed/invited to cross that bridge (on foot, en masse) in decades.

So the scene was this: runners took shuttles starting at 5 a.m. from Newport to Jamestown, where they were treated to coffee and snacks and a rousing soundtrack: the theme from "Rocky" and the like in addition to Senator Whitehouse's encouraging words. And coffee leads to, um, certain needs. So there was a long line (even longer than what you see at the Folk Festival) at an impressive row of porta-potties under the nearly full moon and still-illuminated bridge in the distance, i.e., everything about this event was incredibly organized & picturesque. Then the crowd — it was a mob, really: a sea of colorful Ts, black leggings, bobbing ponytails and baseball caps — took off gently/gradually/quietly in quasi-dark conditions around the ramp, through the tolls and on toward those familiar gray trestles (if that's the word for them). It was a long hill up — at the peak, I venture to say everyone experienced a real "top o' the morning" feeling — then a long hill down. To be honest, I thought I'd end up walking, but I didn't. I kept running. Not too fast, admittedly. With much appreciation for the long hill down. I even accepted a cup of water from a volunteer on the sidelines at one point, toward the end — just like you see real runners do on T.V. — but when I tried to drink it while still running/bobbing and dodging pedestrian traffic, I couldn't do so without spilling all down my front, so I just dropped the cup on Farewell Street with all the other cups, even though it felt vaguely awful to the point of unnatural to engage in littering.

The finish line, by comparison, felt fine ...

Suggestion (added later): Check out Tillerman's take on the bridge-crossing and all manner of other stuff including but not limited to Laser sailing. As it turns out, Tillerman & I crossed the finish line four seconds apart. We didn't know it, though, as we haven't met. Yet. Could he be one of those guys right there (<<)??