Sunday, March 24, 2013


Aren't they beautiful??

My sister S came to Newport for a visit yesterday and we had a fun day. She arrived late in the morning, driving down from Randolph, the Boston suburb in which she now lives. She had texted me en route, saying "I'm in Newport! Will be there soon!" So I stood at the window of my kitchen, from which I can see cars turn off the main road and then up through the parking lot of Dunkin Donuts to where my building stands.

And I stood! And stood!

Soon, it became clear that she'd either had some kind of catastrophe OR she was not actually so close to arriving. In my family, it's always been easier to think of catastrophes first and all other possible explanations later. This isn't because we routinely have terrible things happen to us. There have been no lightning strikes or unexpected meteors, sink holes or random herds of moose charging through our family's history. Nevertheless, when someone doesn't appear on time, these are the first thoughts that pass through our fevered brains.

But when she did turn up, her first words were: "Were you worried?" And in her hands she had a bunch of daffodils, still in bud, that she had bought at the Middletown Stop'n'Shop -- which was why she was late.

We had a happy day. First off, we went down the road to the MAD HATTER BAKERY where we bought cup-cakes for S to take back to Randolph. There's a much longer story attached to this mere little stub but it boils down to: cup-cakes. S had called them to send me a surprise cup-cake gift card -- over the phone -- in December 2012 -- but I never got around to going there and therefore never learned about the surprise -- until S told me about it over the phone three days ago! So then I went across, asked them about it and they were most apologetic but (not surprisingly) had forgotten the details of that 3-months-old gift purchase call! Even so, they were kind enough to allow me the benefit of the doubt, to the value of $20 (I asked S on the phone what the amount was and she said she'd forgotten). I on my part said that my sister was going to visit me on Saturday and I would bring her over to confirm that this was not all just a Mad Hatter's story!

And so it came to pass. Gladness and cup-cakes all around.

We returned to my little apartment, had a cup of Earl Grey tea, enjoyed the sight of the daffodils in a jar of water (as yet unfurled), then went out again, to enjoy a stroll in the sunshine, en route to lunch. We were aimed in the direction of Panera but decided instead to stop at YESTERDAY'S and were very happy with our choice. Yummy chocolate lava cake at the end, shared between the two of us since we were both totally stuffed. The cuisine is a charming Conti-Asian-fusion.

Then on our way back, we stopped at a shop that can only be described as a cook-ware boutique, called PAN HANDLER'S. Its owner is a charming, helpful and friendly lady called Patty (or Pattie?) who, with her partner Walter have created a small but irresistibly beautiful shop, brimming with useful, interesting and attractive objects for use in and around the kitchen and dining room. S bought me a tiny Victorinox pocket-knife -- now that the TSA allows travelers to carry small knives -- and a curved chopper for her home. But to give you a good idea of how nice Patty is: she stopped me from buying a pair of onion-goggles -- i.e., goggles to help those of us whose eyes stream with tears -- because she pointed out that they would NOT go over my glasses.

And that was our day.

Finally, to top you off, here's a story from the New Yorker of one person's irrepressible will to overcome his difficulties:

And also, GENE WEINGARTEN'S column in the Washington Post, including a (very brief) collection of jokes about FORBIDDEN TOPICS.