Sunday, August 31, 2008

Azores 2008 - Ready - Set - Go

Sitting in the study, playing Jewel Quest (computer game) oblivious to the idea that in 2 days we leave for 20 to Rhode Island, the Azores, the Algarve, Spain and Gibraltar. No packing, minimal arrangements, without a doubt the most nonchalant we have been prior to a trip. Not sure why. Since July 19th I have been struggling with an episode of BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positioning Vertigo) that I hope is in it’s final stage of resolution. I do 20 minutes of exercises 3 times a day to train the brain that the stimulation of the tiny hairs in the ear canals is normal, in the aftermath of an “ear rock” calcium deposit having made its way through the same canal days previous. Who knew. Some days are better than others but I haven’t felt “good” since mid July. Oh well. Kat has been an angel about it and is spoiling me.

August 26, 2008 – Studley, VA Tuesday - We do have all our flights and accommodations in Rhode Island (thanks to Edward) and the Azores (thanks to Rich). The mainland accommodations need some work, but those present the least challenge. The plan is to meet Matt and Sarah and Zach and Maria in Lisbon, on September 1st then fly together to Terceira where we will meet Rich and Lu. With the second week open, we are contemplating a trip to Gibraltar and some relaxing time in the south of Portugal and Spain.

August 27th Wednesday – Studley - Thanks to Kat we are packed with most last minute details completed. Part of the reason we have done so little is that Rich has made most of the island arrangements (Terceira, Sao Miguel, and Faial) for sleeping and van rentals.

Three of my four grandparents are from Faial, and the fourth is from Sao Miguel. I wonder what it will feel like to walk the same streets, visit the same churches, or gaze the same vistas that they did as children. I wonder now, how difficult it was for them to make the decision to leave their homeland and venture to America. Was it an adventure or a perceived necessity (either internal or external).

As I understand the story, after some years in the United States my maternal grandfather (from Sao Miguel) decided that the US was too liberal for his liking, and moved the family (including my mother, her sister and brother) back to the islands. After a few years, the economic situation forced him to relocate back to the US. I wonder how difficult a decision that must have been for him to make. What was it like upon their return, and did he feel a failure. My mother always described him as a “hard” man. Defeated? I wonder.

August 28th Thursday 10:30 am RIC – Sitting in the terminal on a warm, rainy (very) day. The terminal is almost deserted and our plane awaits. Our 9:00 taxi ride was on time and we were on our way. Randy, our driver, was talkative, and like everyone had a story to tell if asked. Appears he had a brain hemorrhage 20 years ago, and even though he came out of a three week coma in pretty good shape his wife took their kid and left him for dead. He experienced most of the standard out of body and near death experience phenomena and after 10 years of searching found the lord and a new wife and is extremely happy and enjoying every day.

As we exited the car he told us not to fear death as it doesn’t hurt; a comforting thought as we prepare to board our plane.

Speaking of airlines, US Airways is now pay as you go. There was a $15 charge for our one checked bag, and I couldn’t get them to reimburse me for the boarding passes that I printed at home and brought with us. It also seems to be taking advantage of the situation, when the TSA won’t allow you to bring liquids on board, and the airline charges $2.00 for a soft drink or water. I wonder if we have to pay extra for a pilot or perhaps only the co-pilot. Wow.

Picked up the rental car at Logan and headed south on a beautiful afternoon. It is still a joy to cross the bridge onto Rhode Island. Beautiful blues and greens, the perfect time of the year. We settled into Zachary’s bedroom at Ed’s house and what a great job they did in renovating the downstairs.

Taking Zach and Taylor to Little Compton we visited Adam and Kristin and the 4 little ones. Jonathan (who is too cute for words) is attached to Zachary at the hip and we think Zach loves it. We had a nice fresh fish dinner at Evelyn’s in Tiverton (6 kids – Adam and Kristin’s 4 and Ed’s 2 plus 4 adults) and enjoyed the late summer twilight. The kids are great to have around and need little supervision.

Zach left me a nice little present under my pillow (stuffed rat) just to make sure my heart was strong, and I’ll repay the thought sometime in the future.

August 29th Newport, Rhode Island - Just left the library after a quick look through the old city directories. They are interesting, but not much help. I did find that my paternal grandfather was the dock manager for the shipyard at one point. That probably explains why so many uncles and relatives worked there at some point.

Zachary and I were able to drive the ocean drive first thing this morning (before the tourists awoke) and I got to tell him all the old stories I grew up with about the lifestyles of the rich and famous and their fabulous homes. My Sao Miguel grandfather was a gardener at one of the Bellevue Avenue estates and my mother worked at the La Forge Casino on the avenue (where her least favorite job was peeling grapes), but she was not allowed to walk on the street where she worked.

We met Edward for breakfast at the Atlantic Grill (one of his customers) and had the type of small town, everyone knows everyone, type of breakfast with sarcastic banter and gossip trading. It is Labor Day weekend and the area is becoming more crowded by the hour.

Kat, Taylor and I stopped by St. Mary’s to pick up the marriage certificate information for both sets of grandparents. In fact my mother’s sister Barbara had prepared them, and she was there to give them to us. It was more emotional than I had expected. She looks a lot like my mom and has the same sparkle in her eyes. She gave us the typed copies extracted from the church registry books. She was able to make a photocopy of the Silveira marriage page, however the Vieira entry is in a book that is too large to be photocopied. There appears to be a discrepancy between the registry and what we have all been told regarding the birthplace of my maternal grandfather. Barbara remembers Ribera Grande, Sao Miguel as his birthplace and other documents (including his WWI and WWII draft registration cards) confirm that. I imagine the registry is wrong or more likely illegible.

After a relaxing afternoon, we decided that we better make plans for dinner. Ed cajoled a table for 6 at Brick Alley Pub in the heart of Newport (another of his customers) and we were finally able to spend a little time with Alicia as well as Ed and the kids. She has been working a lot and busy with Ed’s reelection campaign for town council. I’m glad to leave that activity to the young.

August 30 – Saturday – Middletown, RI Cloudy 75 degrees - Kat is showering and I’m updating Ed’s laptop computer and making final arrangements for our trip. We are also plotting to celebrate Kat’s 50th birthday at Adam and Kristin’s house. Lisa is bringing the kids and Ed is getting the lobsters. If all goes well it will be a surprise, and fun to have all eight grandkids there to celebrate. She does so much for all of us and the kids and grandkids love her.

Nighttime – Well it was a surprise and an excellent day. It’s not often that I’ve been able to keep a secret from Kat. Lisa and Em and Danny came over from the Cape so all the grandkids were there. Ed brought 12 lobsters and some crab, and there was lots of great food. We boiled and picked all the lobsters resulting in a large bowl of lobster meat that drew everyone's attention. As usual Adam and Kristin’s house smelled like a seafood restaurant (Kristin doesn’t even like lobster or the smell of it) when we were done. There was a banner (thanks Alicia) to remind us of the milestone, and cakes and ice cream, and kids singing and skits performed. It was great having the family together (we missed Mike but he had to remain in Mashpee for new puppy duty), and a wonderful way to celebrate Kat’s birthday.

Zach, Kat and I hung around after Lisa, Ed and families left. Kristin went on a visiting nurse call, and I got to read two of my favorite Sweet Pickles books to Jonathan (who promptly feel asleep in my arms at the end of the first book) and Jami. Before leaving we did play one game of Wii with Alyssa and Megan. They are too good for us, for sure.

Our last pleasure of the evening was stopping at Grey’s ice cream for a cone of the best blueberry ice cream on the planet. Nice day and tomorrow we head to Portugal.

August 31st Logan Airport – 7:30 pm - It is a beautiful night as we sit outside our terminal writing thank you notes (well, Kat writes them, I sign them and add hilarious one-liners). We are checked-in and have seats together (a question mark up ‘til now as SATA International’s web site leaves something to be desired).

We were able to spend a little time with each of the kids and grandkids before we left for Boston. Ed and Alicia headed off with the kids for some boating on Narragansett bay, while we refreshed our laundry. We packed lightly hoping to have laundry facilities at the villa in the Azores.

We made a quick stop in Little Compton to see Adam and Kristin and the kids (and the chickens – they are varied and amazing). It’s always difficult to say goodbye to that crew.

The ride to Mashpee over the Bourne bridge was (and I’m shocking myself to say this) pleasant. There was little traffic, perhaps because it was a middle morning of a 3 day holiday weekend. Whatever the reason, we made record time and was able to spend a very fast two hours with Lisa, Mike, Danny and Em and 7 really cute, really lively golden retriever puppies. They are the talk and interest of the neighborhood with regular visitors checking on their progress.

Em is driving and Dan is growing up so quickly. We caught up on all the news, (from cicadas to vertigo – Lisa’s and mine) and the time flew. It’s possible they may travel down to Virginia in September or October for a week. That would be great.

Time to GO!

The only down note of this trip so far is that Kat can’t locate her gold bracelet. I’m sure it will turn up but it saddens her. I’ve been putting it on her wrist most days for the past 14 years. As I told her, it’s metal but not as strong as us.

No comments: