Song of the Day: Leon Bridges, Coming Home
I don't know who I should welcome back: myself or you. Either way, it's been too long. Let's get down to it. The past four and a half months have been so busy that there's no way to effectively recount every moment. I'll hit the highlights.
March heralded the emergent spring, melting away the forty plus inches of snow, as Patti, Whitney, and Oliver came up to Pawtuxet for a visit.
|I took to watching the sun rise on mornings that I had to lecture.|
McKenzie had no idea that her sister and nephew would be coming up with Patti for their extended weekend visit. She was reduced to blubbering tears at the airport when picking the three of them up. Most of the weekend was spent playing (and napping) with Oliver, interrupted by meals and short jaunts out into Providence.
|We finally have some toys and a pack'n'play at our house (for all of you with kids).|
|Even Bruce Bruce got in on the napping action.|
|speaking of Bruce Bruce...|
Our friend, Jasmine, also made the trip up from NYC for a weekend of old Rhode Island haunts and laughs.
|She brought us to Quito's seafood restaurant for their opening weekend...|
|...it has since become one of our favorites.|
April took us to Boston with friends twice. It also had a visit from MOMA as she crossed the country via train. I joined her for a trip to Vermont to watch my nephew, Garrett, play some Middlebury baseball along with my sister and brother-in-law (Kelly & Chris).
|Kenz is undeniably happy whenever holding (someone else's) kid.|
|Josh & Courtney, Sawyer's parents, looking on with mild concern that Kenz will steal him.|
|The snow had finally vanished by mid-April, allowing the dogs to return to their backyard lounging.|
|I had no "arrival" pictures of MOMA; I've gotten rusty with photos for the blog since I haven't been updating regularly.|
|With only one day in town, MOMA's priority was visiting Kenz's studio. We saw every aspect of the school with her.|
|On the way back home, MOMA and I visited the first Baptist church in America...|
|...and the Bananagrams headquarters!|
After a day in Providence, MOMA and I headed up to Middlebury for meals with family, tours of the college, and two games of baseball. Garrett said it was some of the best weather he'd played in since arriving at the school - it was about 50F.
|Lunch at his favorite sandwich shop.|
|We got back up to Boston to see dear friend, Nancy, as she visited to support a friend running the Boston Marathon.|
|And Kenz got the dogs ice cream.|
May was the end of the semester for both Kenz and I, filled with spring weather and more visitors.
|The kids at the local elementary school make these and the village puts them up all over Pawtuxet...|
|...along with the banners for this year's Gaspee Days celebrations.|
|A final sunrise before administering exams.|
|Time to comb off those winter coats!|
|My training partners, Kyle and Butch, and I competed in May; we swept the podium.|
|May means the windows open again!|
|I visited my first Rhode Island beach while Kenz was still in the studio...|
|...this beach is only 4 miles from our house. Jealous?|
I didn't quite put in a significant effort to make new friends while at Maryville College, but the ones I did have proven to be the type that will travel from near and far for a weekend visit. Robbie came up from DC as Lindsay (and her husband, Andy, who I met for the first time) came down from Burlington, VT. We spent the weekend relaxing, spending quality time with each other, and doing a few RI things.
|Andy, Robbie, and Lindsay.|
|Ten minutes after their arrival, we walked out to the corner of the street - there was a 5K benefitting the local school...|
|...and, by God, we were going to cheer for everyone! Folks didn't know what to think; we were the only spectators out there.|
|We headed out to Newport for the Volvo Ocean Race...|
|...apparently it's a big deal in the sailing community...|
|...at least I thought the boats were cool.|
|That evening, I took them to the first Waterfire lighting of the season...|
|...and we capped off the night with some Sequence.|
|The jetty that creates the cove behind our house.|
By the end of the month, it was time to help clean up one of Kenz's final installations. Beware: if an artist asks you for help "deinstalling," it's going to take a long time.
|This was about one third of the installation. Again, if you'd like an explanation, feel free to email her.|
|Her cohort stored their final furniture pieces in one room. I thought about theft for the first time in decades.|
|These salt and pepper bowls were a group project she was a part of; we have one at our house now. I love 'em.|
By June, a pattern had emerged: visitors, visiting, and more Rhode Island assimilation.
As previously mentioned, this year's Gaspee Days celebration is celebrating its 50th anniversary. You can read more about the series of celebrations and history here. For those that can't be bothered to click a link for further reading: locals burned a British tax ship in 1772 - before the Boston Tea Party - and current day residents are quite proud of "America's first blow for freedom." Gaspee Days is a series of events (about six weekends) leading up to the ceremonial "burning" of the HMS Gaspee, such as an art & craft fair, block party, guided historic walking tour, outdoor orchestral performance, 5K, and parade. And most of the enterprising locals put on a slew of yard sales. Kenz and I feel pretty lucky to have landed in Pawtuxet Village as its the village who organizes and puts on the entire thing.
The main thoroughfare in the village is shut down for a variety of these events. The red, white, and blue street lines are repainted for Gaspee Days each year. We can walk to everything. It's a good time of year to be a Villager. And on the day of the parade, folks wish each other "Happy Gaspee Days!"
|Our neighbor, Sarah, joined us for the arts & crafts fair.|
|I ate an entire sleeve of kettle corn.|
In between the Gaspee Days celebrations were more visits, BBQs, and general summertime revelry.
|Memorial Day BBQ at the gym...|
|...folks were quite patriotic.|
|Disc golf in Boston with Josh.|
|Bruce Bruce forces the dogs to share a bed when he wants one.|
|I made my way up to Shutesbury to visit Lisa, Galileo, and Tycho...|
|...which was fantastic, peaceful, and fun...|
|...albeit somewhat of a learning curve for me...|
|...but well worth it!|
|Jasmine returned for the Concert in the Park...|
|...and the Boston vs. Providence food truck showdown.|
|Kenz and I finally had another BBQ.|
|I got over to my buddy Kyle's house to "help" him put together his home gym (by help, I mean "keep company as he works")|
Patti & Michael made it up for the big event of the Gaspee Days: the 5K & Parade. None of us really knew what to expect as far as the parade was concerned, but it seemed like a good time for them to visit. It also happened to coincide with our 5th wedding anniversary.
|Kenz was quite excited to show the folks our favorite taco shop: Poco Loco, the best damn tacos in town.|
|I took some time to look back at old wedding photos on the morning of our anniversary.|
|Year 5 is supposed to be "wood" for a gift; since she works with wood, I figured I'd go a different direction. Bonsai!|
|I struggled through the 5K on the morning of the parade along with two thousand other people.|
|Kenz was happy to cheer.|
Turns out, the Gaspee Days Parade is pretty awesome. Coming in at about two and a half hours, the first hour or so was entirely populated by Revolutionary War reenactors - from all over New England. You can read more about the local militia - the ones who lead the parade and camp out in the village park - here.
|This is the Gaspee, whose sails were ceremonially burned the next day (our neighbor was elected to do the burning this year).|
|Michael took a picture of just about every group that traveled past.|
|Kenz was quite hype to see the Clydesdales.|
|After the militias came the more traditional local parade flavor, such as the Shriners oriental band...|
|...Shriners go karts...|
|...the fire department - of which our neighbor is a member and whose wife hosts all the families during the parade...|
|...and countless bands of all walks of life and age...|
|We enjoyed getting sunburnt that day.|
|Afterward, it was time for dog treats, burgers, and ice cream.|
|Kenz dropped her cone 30 seconds after getting it. Like a five year-old.|
|She got a new one.|
|We toured the encampment.|
|And eventually took naps.|
|That evening, Kenz and I took Patti to the Waterfire lighting.|
|This was the most people I'd ever seen in one place since moving to Providence.|
The following weekend, Kenz and I headed down to NJ for the wedding of Kira & Willem. Will and I are part of a group of Villanova friends who have stayed in touch over the past decade - that group were the groomsmen at this wedding.
|Thursday night boardgames.|
|Rehearsal dinner antics.|
|Kenz loved Loki, the ring-bearer.|
|Kira & Willem, delivering speeches on the eve of their nuptials.|
|Both rugby fans, friends had made a cornhole set for them; All Blacks for Kira and Springbok for Will.|
|The backyard wedding was as beautiful as it was sweet.|
|The Father of the Bride, Maid of Honor, and Best Man (father of groom) speeches were all pitch perfect.|
|Us groomsmen and miscellaneous friends just tried not to embarrass Will during the festivities.|
|Each table had a story from Will & Kira's travels (which are countless). Our table was about their trip to London (they were our first visitors!).|
|Personalized gifts for each guest!|
|Providence and London map magnets!|
All in all, the wedding was a treat. We thoroughly enjoyed the - somewhat rural and surprisingly pretty - NJ town, time spent with friends we'd not seen in about five years, and dancing the night away in Kira's parents' backyard.
However, in what is becoming pretty characteristic Kenz & Dave behavior, we were only able to spend one day back in Providence before it was time to hop in the car and drive sixteen hours down to Tennessee. The plan had been to leave early Tuesday morning, but Kenz lobbied for a Monday night departure - at 10:30pm. I wasn't too keen on the idea but had no legitimate counterargument other than, "I'd like to sleep." She responded with a solid, "oh, I'll take the first shift of driving!"
|The first shift of driving apparently requires some absurd sugary "coffee" drink from Dunkin' Donuts.|
|Right as we pulled into TN, Kenz broke the car windshield with her foot. Don't ask.|
We landed in Knoxville, said "hi" to nephew Oliver, and then traveled up to Kingsport for a family reunion on my Dad's side.
|Oliver has begun eating on his own.|
|We got to meet nephew Jack for the first time!|
|And niece Lucy for the first time as well!|
|The big event during the reunion was hopping into race cars on the Bristol Motor Speedway...|
|...which was as exhilirating as you'd expect.|
|Kenz actually learned how to drive a stick in pit row before heading out onto the track.|
|We took some cousins to a movie while everyone else was napping or playing golf on the final day.|
|The only problem with multiple camera phones: which one do you look at?!|
After the family reunion on dad's side, we siblings traveled over to Asheville to surprise our mom for her birthday. My west coast sister, Kristin, had rented a house in Asheville for a week (understandable that they'd choose to stay longer than a weekend after traveling from Oregon with a 2 year-old), so MOMA & Tom thought they'd be coming up to see the three of them. Little did they know, Kelly, Chris, Kara, Jerry, Jack, David, and McKenzie would be there as well.
|Before their arrival, Kenz and I stole away to see yet another Villanova friend who happened to be staying in Asheville for the weekend.|
|Making "soup" with Lucy before MOMA arrives.|
|Let's hide for the surprise!|
|I didn't get any pictures, but MOMA was quite surprised and delighted to see all of us...|
|...and we promptly retired to the porch for chitchat.|
|Kelly found a local baker that would personalize a cake with Pickleball!|
|Happy (early) Birthday, MOMA!|
On our way out of town, we stopped by for a cup of coffee and tour of Mikey & Liz's new house. We missed her, but got to catch up with Mikey for a bit before returning to Knoxville to prepare for the July 4th festivities.
The first few days of July were as busy as the end of June. As per usual, the Gibsons had their Independence Day blowout party on the 4th. In the run-up to that (and, partly, in anticipation of that), some friends of ours travelled to Knoxville from Texas. It was the first time we got to meet Dustin & Taylor's son, Anson. They stayed with Brian & Jessica for the week and the 6.5 of us got together as often as possible during that time.
|If Brian Strutz ever invites you to dinner, the only appropriate answer is, "Absolutely yes."|
|Dustin & Anson|
The original plan was for us to hang out with Craig & Maddie as well, but as luck would have it, they'd just had their baby a few days prior! (Noticing a pattern?).
Luckily, Brian & Jessica hosted a little get-together dinner for friends so that we could meet lil Nora (and so that us guys could preemptively lobby for Anson and Nora to get married).
|Maddie & Nora|
|Nora, Jessica, Taylor, and Anson|
|Again, if Brian ever invites you to dinner...|
|We capped off the night with ping pong and dancing. It felt like high school all over again, which is to say it was awesome.|
Before we knew it, the time had come to "prepare" for the 4th. Kenz and I rolled up to the Fireworks Supermarket and were treated like royalty; some would believe that we're "known" there.
|1/3 of this year's haul|
|Jack had appropriate attire for the evening.|
We capped the night with some dice games...
|Turns out, a pool table is great for playing the dice game!|
|Looking at these pictures reminds me of how fast kids grow and change.|
|After a museum and BBQ lunch, we rocked a game of Bingo for about two hours.|
|The kids got worn out.|
|But that's the thing about kids: a bit of a nap and they're ready to go again.|
We were happy to have been able to see everyone before departing - it was likely the busiest trip we'd ever taken to Knoxville but worth the 38 hours of driving.
|We tried to steal Jack, but remembered that Jerry is armed & dangerous.|
Last September, Kenz had suggested we buy a window unit to cool the bedroom. I scoffed at her, saying, "there's no need for air conditioner in New England. And, besides, we never had one in London." We made it through the tail-end of summer, braced ourselves throughout the cold winter, enjoyed the spring, and then she brought it up again.
David, we really should get a window unit. The dogs are miserable. I'm miserable. You're miserable. We're sleeping on top of the sheets, sweating. Just go get a window unit.
Absolutely not. There's no need. I ain't gonna go spend a buncha money on some thing we'll only use three or four times.
Well, we'd spent upward of fifteen days sleeping in the Gibson's well air conditioned house down in Tennessee. I'd gotten used to blankets again. I'd even forgotten what it was like to wake up in a puddle of sweat...until we drove back to RI. That first night back was like trying to sleep at the gates of Dante's Inferno. The next morning, I drank my coffee, ate my breakfast, and immediately drove to the hardware store for a window unit. Tail between my legs, I asked Kenz to help me install it. It's still running.