Kent Falls 2008

Once again we picked Jenn up from overnight camp at Silver Lake and stopped at Kent Falls for a picnic. This was the most crowded I’d ever seen it, but it was a nice day – mid-80s and not too humid. The falls we lower than I would have expected, considering the rain we’ve had last month, but the water was cold and fairly clean.

Kent Falls 2008

As usual, click the picture to see the album.

Out of my gourd

Could there be any more quintessential cultural experience of a New England autumn than leaf peeping? That’s the colloquialism for taking a long, slow drive on back roads to look at the changing scenery. It’s long and slow because you’re behind a couple of dozen lost New Yorkers who managed to find their way out of the city and can’t get back until they see a sign for a parkway.

The answer, of course, is to get together with a bunch of friends, bring some hot casseroles and cold beer, and give the little kids some sharp, serrated tools and some permanent markers, and have a pumpkin carving party. Some family friends have one every year, and each year it seems that there are more and more little children. I’m pretty sure that most of them manage not to get lost in the woods or fall into the deep part of the stream.

Pumpkin Party 2007

Here’s a few shots from this year’s party. Some of the adults revert to childhood and vie to carve the most grotesque visages that can be imagined. Despite the abundant amount of alcohol, injuries are rare.

They also fire up the Farm-All tractor and a couple of dozen people at a time will pile into the hay wagon for a three hour tour twenty minute trip around the farm. You’d think that the hay bales are merely for ambiance, but really they’re an excellent shock absorber for when that wagon is bouncing around the tractor ruts and over rocks. This is a real New England farm, and not one of those tourist attractions; and be sure to watch your boots after walking through the horse fields.

Naturally, a good time was had by all, and we’ll remember this for the next couple of months, until we have the next New England tradition: the wreath-making party.

Anniversary afterthoughts

I knew that I would be expected to say a few words at the anniversary party. I spent some time thinking about what to say; should I be funny? Pithy? Should I look for quotes from famous people like Bacall and Bogart? Read a poem? Present a Powerpoint slide show?

While I was thinking about it, I happened to be talking to a young man who did some landscaping and handyman work around their house. We were chatting and out of the blue he mentioned “Your mom and dad must really be in love… I hope that I’m that lucky when I’m their age.” He went on to describe how one day he was working in the yard and my mother drove in from shopping. She carried a few items from the local flea market, remarking that she knew my father would appreciate them. Anyone who know my father knows that he practically lives at the flea market in Woodbury; and in fact, has been known to do his Christmas and birthday shopping from there.

I thought about this for a while and it occurred to me that perhaps the secret to a long marriage is not big houses, vacations, cars, or New York shopping sprees; rather, it’s about those little things that we do every day to show our partners how much we appreciate them. Sprinkling a little cinnamon in their coffee, picking up dinner on the way home, tossing in a load of laundry or doing the dishes, or doing any other of those dozens of little things that help to lubricate a relationship.

Anyone can buy a dozen roses on Valentine’s Day or take you out to a fancy restaurant for a birthday dinner. But once a year expressions aren’t enough to sustain; it takes a more serious commitment to get up twenty minutes before your partner six or seven days a week to make coffee or turn up the thermostat so the bathroom is warm when they head for the shower, or pick up a package of their favorite items (be it food, tools, or underwear) when you notice that something needs replacing.

Maybe the secret to any good relationship isn’t about the big things at all, but about the little, everyday things, because that’s where most of us live – not in the dozen or so holidays, but in the other 350-odd days, year in and year out.

Anniversary Aftermath

The remaining surviving members of the Accuosti anniversary reunion party attacking an unsuspecting herd of Belgian waffles at brunch the next morning. The traditional method of silently surrounding the waffles and then ritually drenching them in fruit syrup and whipped cream has taken many Belgian waffles out of the gene pool over the years.

Nature – red in tooth and claw. No, it’s not pretty, but life must go on.

50th Anniversary

This is the historic Longwood Country Inn at the edge of scenic Woodbury, Connecticut. Quite literally on the edge, in fact, as fifty feet to the left of this picture on Rte 67 is the border of Southbury.

We’re having a family reunion of sorts as my parents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Clicking the picture will take you to the Picasa online photo album.

We can’t recommend the Longwood Inn highly enough. The staff was fantastic to work with, and they were very accommodating, considering all of the last minutes changes we made. The food was excellent, both at dinner and at brunch the next day. Woodbury is full of old, historic buildings; the Longwood Inn is on Rte 67, and is only a few miles from the center of Woodbury – the antiques capital of Connecticut. The leaves were just starting to fall, so the out of state guests managed to get a little taste of New England scenery.

It was nice to see so many of the relatives that we normally only see at weddings and funerals. My parents had a great time, of course – probably because pretty much all they had to do was show up. We’re going to have a difficult time topping this at their next 50th anniversary.

Family Renunion

3 generations of the Accuosti family gather for breakfast at the crack of, er, nine. Most of us got here last night, and some more family will be coming in later on today before the party starts at 6:00 pm here at the Longwood Inn. Signs posted on the doors informed us that breakfast would be served between the un-Godly hours of 8:00 and 9:15 am. About 9:10 most of the family started sauntering downstairs.

How I spent my summer vacation – Part 2

I know – where’s Part 1, right? Briefly, I flew down to the Orlando area where my wife and her family were having a reunion of sorts. I hung around trying to relax amidst the various family and friends who stopped in, left, came back, stayed for dinner, slept over, left, and returned with others.

People from large families know what I’m talking about. However, I’m from a small family, so this was foreign to me.

It was nice to see nieces and nephews, and the weather was pleasant, and I managed not to get sunburned. Right away that puts it in the Plus column.

But I’m not writing about the family vacation, I’m writing about how I ended it. Specifically, the part of it in which I spent circling a storm over White Plains, NY. on my way home.


The rest of my family was staying the rest of the week, but I came back for work. Early Wednesday afternoon I headed out to Orlando airport, dropped off a borrowed car, and headed into Terminal A to find the AirTran desk. My first inkling of trouble came when I discovered that AirTran was no longer in the A terminal; that morning they had officially moved their operations to the B side. So, a long healthy walk later, I got to wait in line for the privilege of getting half undressed in public in order to pass through the security gates. Amazingly, I managed not to set off any alarms; I usually forget an item – cell phone, Palm, souvenir bottle opener, etc. Having been deemed acceptable steerage, I got dressed, packed my things into my backpack, and wandered down the concourse looking for Gate 92 and my flight. I was still almost two hours early, a “personal best” for me.

My second inkling of trouble came when I couldn’t find Flight 673 listed anywhere. I waited in line by one of the AirTran counters, and when my turn came I asked about the flight. “Sir, 673 has been delayed because of weather.” You’re kidding, right? It’s a beautiful day out there. “No sir, the weather is in New York. They’re having some pretty bad thunderstorms.”

 

Dang.

I bought a couple of computer magazines, and parked myself in a chair near the gate. Several hours later, they herded us onto the Boeing 717, and we took off around 6:00 pm. We made good time up to New York, and sitting on the right (starboard) side of the jet, I could see the outline of the Atlantic coast. After an hour or so, one of the babies a few rows behind me woke up and started screaming. That triggered a second baby, and the two of them dueled with their lungs for the next forty five minutes. What is it about baby screams that is so irritating? Anyway, I tried to close my eyes and rest for a bit, in spite of the noise. I managed to doze off for a few minutes, when I was woken by the annoying sunlight coming in the window.

Sunlight? Wait – I was on the wrong side of the plane to see the sun. Either that or we were flying south…

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We are currently in a holding pattern while we await clearance to land. The weather is pretty bad down there right now, and they’re not allowing any landings. Don’t worry, we’ve got plenty of fuel to wait this out.”

So, it should come as no surprise to discover that an hour later, we were still circling. The captain came back on the intercom and explained that we still did not have clearance to land, so we were going to head back to a better terminal and figure out what to do. Forty five minutes later we were landing in Baltimore Washington airport, where we sat on the tarmac for close to an hour so AirTran could figure out what to do with us. Eventually they found a gate and a while later we were allowed to leave the plane. The terminal was empty, so we sprawled out on the chairs, and some people went hunting for vending machines. An hour later, the plane was refueled and we were herded back onto the plane…

… where we waited for yet another hour before being allowed to take off.

At some point the flight attendants thought to pass out snacks because most of the passengers were now long past dinner. They managed to rustle up 1/2 ounce bags of pretzels and some cinnamon flavored graham cookies. Served with either bottled water or soda, it was just enough to make the passengers hungry for an actual meal. The captain tried to call for a catering truck, but they had all gone for the night.

Now, I know that most of you are feeling pretty annoyed, if not downright aggravated just reading this. Few things can instill feelings of annoyance like air travel, mainly because the typical passenger has so little control over his environment. You can’t simply open the door and walk out, and a raging argument will now get you arrested by the TSA. At some point in the evening, I simply resigned my self to the idea that this was going to be a long night, and tried to relax. I diverted myself by reading the magazines I had picked up before the flight, playing with my phone, and reading on my Palm. I transcended the aggravation.

We made it to New York – again – without incident, where we circled the little airport in White Plains until about 3:00 am. Unfortunately, the ground crew had all gone home, so we waited – again – for another 45 minutes while the airport could find people who knew how to work the gate equipment. At nearly four in the morning we were released from bondage allowed to deplane and wander across the terminal to be united with our luggage.

If anyone is expecting some story about how our luggage ended up in San Francisco, or needing to be quarantined for a week, I’m sorry to disappoint you. My wheeled bag came around and I wrestled it off of the carousel and out the main doors, where the new commuters of the day were slowly beginning to filter in. I bid them a mental farewell, and lugged my 40 pound suitcase up several flights of stairs in the parking garage, and found my car in the same place that I’d left it five days earlier. I put the bag in the trunk, tossed the backpack on the passenger seat, and slid into the driver’s side, where I put the key into the ignition and turned the switch. The engine turned over.

Once.

I sat there in stunned disbelief. The battery had just enough juice to power the dashboard. I waited a few minutes and tried again. And again.

Nothing.

After pulling an all-nighter, this was almost enough to drag me down from my state of transcendency. I’ll admit that I was on the verge of getting pretty aggravated at that point. Somehow I managed to keep my cool, though, so I locked up the car and went back to the terminal. By now it was around 5:00am, and it was filling up with commuters. I managed to find a policeman, who explained that they did not have any emergency service and that I would have to call a tow truck. I told him that I had AAA, but he told me that AAA was not allowed in the parking garage, and that I would have to use the airport “approved” service. He made the call for me, and I went outside to wait.

And wait.

Having practiced waiting in a cramped airline seat, it was almost a pleasure to wait for a half hour on the sidewalk for the wrecker that eventually showed up. The driver – a young college student, I learned – explained that it was $70, cash preferred, and that he would not need to go into the garage as he had a portable battery booster. Ten minutes later my engine was running, and he cautioned me not to turn the engine off for the next half hour to give the battery a chance to charge. I determined that I had not left a door ajar or any lights running; we decided that the battery was simply old (five years, which is like 70 in human years) and should probably be replaced ASAP.

I thanked him, and began the hour and a half drive home to Connecticut. I was fully expecting to get a flat tire on the way home, but I made it back without further incident.