Friday, September 16, 2011

Roosters and Chickens and Goats - Oh My

7:00 am with a bright blue sky promising a beautiful late summer day in New England. I make a mental note to take a picture of a white country church some time today. I'm Morris-chairing in TSH #1 with my journal, a hot cup of coffee and complete silence. Everywhere I look I can see the thought that went into decorating and furnishing this space. Old pictures on the wall are museum labeled, racks of ancient school books adorn the shelves and the farming tradition of Tiverton at the end of the 19th century is paid homage to. Someone gave a lot of thought to the color scheme - it is soothing. I've never seen cabinets painted this grey/green color. And the bold black island with white granite really works. There is an old school bell on the mantle and it's taking some willpower to resist ringing it. It's breezy outside. That is one of the things you forget after living in Central Virginia for 7 years. There's always a breeze along the coast. Thoughts of our upcoming trip are worlds away - when asked about it last night at dinner my thought was; 'Oh yeah, and we're doing that too', but being here with family is our real trip. What shall we do today? All the kids are in school (though our little Jami did offer to skip to keep us company), Adam, Edward, Lisa and Alicia are working. Maybe Emily is free? Maybe we can take Kristin out to lunch. We never seem able to spend quiet time alone with her. Maybe I'll have another cup of coffee.

Friday - September 16, 2011 - Tiverton, Rhode Island

We've got a date with Kristin. Actually two. After taking her to lunch, we are going to pick up Jami and Jonathan at school. It seems that because of our arrival Kristin was unable to go to Jonathan's open house at school to see where he spends most of his day. We will tag along. Does it get any better than this?

While Kristin was doing her nursing paperwork (she is a hospice nurse - a job that takes a very special kind of person) we parked ourselves by the pond and contemplated life. No sooner had we sat down than we were surrounded by (best estimate) 100 free range chickens looking for free range food and a gaggle of ducks (I know geese come in gaggles but have no idea what a group of ducks is called and don't care) who were quacking at us and looking for a handout. I called Kristin and asked if I could feed them. Sure, they would LOVE that. They did. I headed toward the food bins followed by a flock (good word) of scratching impatient pushy birds. They knew exactly what was in store and I found myself fighting with them to get the top off the food bin. Some waited patiently, others flew up and sat on the top. I had no idea chickens could fly - even short distances. In as stern a voice as I could muster I told them to be patient and they would get fed. Some more backed off, but the roosters (beautiful multicolored birds) wouldn't give an inch. I was finally able to extract a bucketful of feed and leading the masses I scattered it before me as I walked. About half of them stayed on top near the bins, the others followed me as if I had the holy grail. It was chaos. But fun. Sitting back on the bench we watched them and noticed that the different varieties acted differently. They've got personalities. Who knew? One thing was clear however; as soon as the roosters were sated their little brains turned immediately to amorous thoughts (human male like?) and started chasing the chickens around. Life on the farm.

We had a very nice lunch with Kristin at the Tiverton Four Corners Grille, right in the little village center. The food was good and the conversation lively. Clearly she was in harmony with her surroundings. A mother of four with all the demands a young and vibrant family can place on one, running an active farm and business, wife to an energetic husband who has more plans than time, and now owner and operator of a high-end weekend retreat she seemed much more relaxed then we did. Clearly she has her timing down. No sooner had we finished lunch than it was time to head to the school to see Jami and Jonathan's classrooms. Their school is located in the very picturesque Little Compton center and I had the opportunity to get my New England church picture.

Picking up the kids was no easy feat. Remembering the time when anyone could walk into a school and wander around we were surprised to find a security procedure that rivals the TSA at the airports. We signed in and patiently waited (along with 15-20 other parents) for the children to come to the "pick up room." Finally they arrived and escorted us to their classrooms. It was just plain fun to see the small desks and the folder containing their classwork. The kids, in their element, were beaming.

We asked Kristin if it was all right with her if Lisa's daughter Emily could spend the night with us. Of course it was. We called Em and talked her out of having her tongue pierced that afternoon (it was touch and go for a while as once one works up the courage for that surgery you hate to delay it), but she relented and agreed to drive from Mashpee (on the cape) to Tiverton. Edward had somehow managed to get us reservations at Brick Alley Pub, a very popular Newport eatery on Thames Street near Washington Square, for 13 at six o'clock. It's tough to get a table for 4 there on a Friday night, but being in the business somehow he was able to arrange it. While Kristin took the kids to soccer, we returned to the schoolhouse to await Emily. We didn't have long to wait and she looked great. It's kind of nerve racking to see your eldest granddaughter turning into a young woman. With the piercing delayed a day she also seemed a little relieved, or maybe that's what we wanted to think.

On the way to Newport we picked up Zachary and Taylor. Another shock to the system. It's amazing how grown and mature they seemed to us all of a sudden. Zach is driving now and Taylor is only a couple of years away from doing the same. How can this be? They were young kids just a little while ago. Edward and Alicia (how we have missed them) met us at the parking lot across the street (where Ed had arranged free parking - he continues to amaze) and the seven of us headed into the packed restaurant. The kids had just been served their Shirley Temples, the adults something a little stronger, when Adam, Kristin and their four joined us. The game was on. The food was great, as usual and Alan, our waiter was excellent. It was lively and noisy and fun. Our only regret was that Danny and Lisa weren't able to be there with us. We'll drive there on Sunday and spend the day, but it never seems like enough.

Postprandial we headed back to the schoolhouse where Uncle Ed demonstrated his ability (?) to stand up straight with one foot facing forward the other facing backwards to his nieces and nephew. Something about dis-jointed hips he claimed. Whatever it was, we all thought it was just plain weird. Alyssa could hardly contain herself laughing while trying to mimic her uncle. She was, however, able to unobtrusively scoot off to one of the unoccupied beds in the second bedroom and fall soundly asleep. We didn't want to awaken her and since Em didn't mind sharing the room for the night we now had a full house, and her siblings now had a cause célèbre claiming all kinds of injustice. As they say in kidspeak: "Oh Well."

We had our kids for the evening, the chickens were fed, all was right with the world. Lovely.

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