Friday, April 30, 2010

Five on Friday - Simon and Garfunkel

I missed Travis' Five on Friday meme last week but wanted to make sure that I joined in this week. If you'd like to join in sometime, too, it's really very simple. All you have to do is:
  • Grab the banner, make your post title Five on Friday, and be sure to link back here.
  • Go to to make your play list of five songs. Choose a particular theme to share with us. You can simply post the play list, or you can add a little summary about what you are sharing.
  • Pop over to Trav's Thoughts and leave your link so that others can find you! 
  • No tags, but feel free to invite your friends to play along if they need a post topic on a Friday.
and poof! - you're playing along!

This week I decided to go with one of my very favorite duos made up of two gentlemen who have outstanding voices on their own and then when you put them together it equals just about perfection:  Simon and Garfunkel. 

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel grew up just blocks away from each other in Queens, New York and met in 1953 while they were both in elementary school performing in their school's production of Alice in Wonderland - Simon as the White Rabbit and Garfunkel as the Cheshire Cat. Their friendship continued throughout their school years and in their junior year of high school they began performing together as Tom and Jerry, with Simon as Jerry Landis (whose last name he borrowed from a girl he had been dating) and Garfunkel as Tom Graph (so called because he was fond of tracking - aka graphing - hits on the pop charts).

In 1955 they began writing their own music with their first professional recording Hey, Schoolgirl on Big Records in 1957 hitting #49 on the Billboard Magazine charts. After that the group split up while each went on to separate colleges but they reunited in 1963 and found prominence as part of the Greenwich Village folk music scene. In 1964 they broke up again while Paul Simon went over to England and toured provincial folk clubs and then reunited again in 1966 when their single The Sounds of Silence hit #1 on the pop charts.

Their fifth and final studio album Bridge Over Troubled Water was released in January of 1970 with the title song  staying at #1 on the charts for six weeks.  Simon and Garfunkel went on to win Album and Record of the Year with it at the 1971 Grammys but it was the end of the line for the duo that just couldn't seem to get past their artistic conflicts to stay together.

Since then, the duo has reunited for tours several times with the most notable being their free concert in Central Park on September 19th, 1981 that drew over 500,000 people.  Obviously I'm not the only one who liked their music!  Their latest tour "Old Friends" will kick off this July in Vancouver, British Columbia with a stop here in Connecticut at the Mohegan Sun Casino Arena on July 29th.  As much as I'd love to go, I can't afford the tickets but if I could, I'd be right there with the rest of the audience singing along to songs that light the memories of my childhood and bring back simpler times.  Ah well, it doesn't cost me anything to pop in the CD!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Visit to the Village of Yantic, Part Four

I had one more series of photos that I wanted to post from my walk through the Village of Yantic a couple of Wednesdays ago and these shots are of the beautiful granite church that stands on a hill above the Village.

Church Sign

In addition to founding the Yantic Volunteer Fire Company that I wrote about previously, Winslow Williams continued the good works of his father, Captain Erastus Williams, by making sure that the Grace Episcopal Church had land on which to build.  The captain, who was a religious man, had insisted that his mill workers attend monthly religious services which were originally held in the village schoolhouse; in 1853 the parish was formally organized and ultimately became Grace Episcopal Church.

Grace Epsicopal Church

Construction began in 1891 on the beautiful building that would become the permanent home of the Grace Episcopal Church and was completed in 1901 - if I'm reading my Roman numerals correctly! - at the cost of $20,000. 

Grace Church

The magnificent structure looks like it should be residing in the English countryside as it stands proudly on the hill to next Hale Mill. Unlike the beautiful old mill though, the church building is still very much alive and in use to this day.

Grace Epsicopal Church - Yantic

Rumor has it that the pews inside are all hand-carved and that there's also a beautiful pipe organ which is reputed to be one of the finest in Eastern Connecticut.  The pulpit was dedicated to the memory of Captain Erastus Williams with the lectern left in memory of his wife, Lydia - the woman for whom the Village of Yantic was built. 

Yantic's Grace Epsicopal Church

While I was taking photos of the church I had the pleasure of talking to one of its parishioners who happened to be taking care of a couple of tasks around the church.  Fred, as his jacket read, asked me if his car was in my way of the shots but I assured him that it wasn't - however the sun was!

Flags in front of the Grace Episcopal Church

Fred, as it turned out, was 98 years young and had been attending Grace Episcopal Church for 64 years!  He told me that he used to live in the village but had moved to a different part of Yantic where he had lived with his wife until he had to place her in a nursing home due to her advanced Alzheimers in 2000. It was easy to see that it hadn't been an easy decision for Fred but as he said, it was dangerous for her to be at home with the stairs and his own advancing years.

Grace Episcopal Church

We talked a bit about how much the world had changed over the years and I told him that knowing how much it had changed during my 51 years, I could only imagine how much it had changed over the course of his 98.  As we looked over the village from our vantage point on the hill, he told me how there used to be a beautiful mansion across the bridge and how the mill used to bustle with workers and activity but those days were long gone.

Grace Epsicopal

I wish I'd had more time to talk to Fred or that I had been smart enough to ask him to perhaps give me a glimpse inside the beautiful church but unfortunately, I didn't think about it until much too late and he'd gone on his way.  Maybe someday if I'm back in Yantic to mail a letter at the cute little post office, I'll have the chance to see him again.  He'll be easy to spot, he's the handsome older gentleman wearing the World War II Veterans hat and a jacket with his name embroidered over his heart that has beat for 98 years.

Yantic Grace Epsicopal Church

In conclusion, Napoleon has been quoted as saying "History paints the human heart" and I've got to agree with him though I might have changed it up a bit on my Wednesday walk to say that history paints the Village of Yantic - and paints it very well.


Hmm ... where to take a walk next?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Escaping the Doldrums

So, what does one do while standing in a rather long queue while waiting for one's teenage daughter to get a chance to meet one of her favorite artists in a small shop in the East Village? Simple - one takes pictures of one's surroundings. In this case, most of the surroundings were of the fire escape variety but luckily I like fire escapes! 

If I were younger or had it all to do over again, I'd love to live in a place that had a fire escape as fire escapes are sometimes the things that dreams are made of - if you don't believe me you haven't watched West Side Story or Pretty Woman, have you?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

An Art-Full Weekend

This past weekend has been filled with all sorts of art starting with the trip that Amanda and I made down to New York City yesterday so that she (and I) could stand in line at a small store on East 9th Street for much too long!

Originally I was scheduled to work on Saturday evening but when Amanda found out that one of her favorite artists was going to be doing a Sketch 4 Sketch Meet and Greet appearance in New York City I did the thing that any pushover parent would do and finagled a last-minute switch with one of my co-workers so that I could schlep her down there.

Hopping on the MetroNorth train out of South Norwalk, we arrived at Grand Central Terminal and then walked down to the MoMA to try to catch a little bit of the Tim Burton Exhibit that we had originally gone to on New Year's Day.  Our hope was that maybe it wouldn't be quite so crowded as before but alas, no such luck and it was wall-to-wall people - so much so that you couldn't see a thing and the room was so overheated I thought I was gonna pass out if I didn't get out of there and get some fresh air. Seriously, the next time the MoMA decides to do an exhibit like that one, they really ought to consider using a bigger gallery area! After leaving there after only a couple of moments, we quickly popped in to take a look at the Picassos on display in the studio next door and then took our leave of the MoMA to head to The Village.

Arriving just shortly after 4:00, Amanda joined what was already a decent-sized line to wait for her chance to meet San Francisco Bay Area artists Alex Pardee and Dave Correia.  The only thing I knew about Alex Pardee is that he has done album art for The Used and Aidan but Amanda has mentioned him numerous times as being one of her favorite artists; as for the other guy I was totally clueless and Amanda didn't seem to know much more than I did though to her credit, she had Googled the guy beforehand!

Leaving Amanda to stand with the other people who had brought sketches to trade with Alex and Dave, I walked down to the park at the end of the street and spent some time taking pictures before wandering back to see if Amanda had made any progress ... she hadn't moved hardly at all!

I left again to take a walk around the block and check out some of the little shops and restaurants in the area and came back to find that Amanda still hadn't gotten very far but she was bound and determined to stick it  out.  I walked across the street and sat on a planter around a tree for awhile and answered the questions of curious passersby who wanted to know what everyone was queuing up for.

I also had the chance to talk with another Doctor Who fan about the pros and cons of the new doctor and the brilliance of David Tennant as I had borrowed Amanda's Doctor Who t-shirt to wear for the day.  The conversation killed a few minutes before I went back and waited in line with Amanda until I decided that sustenance was in order and walked down and grabbed a couple slices of pizza which I brought back and shared with Amanda as we went into hour number four of patiently waiting.

Finally at almost 9:30 p.m. Amanda got her turn to enter the store and hand over the sketch that she had brought with her to Alex & Dave -

Those who have watched a lot of Doctor Who might 'get' some of this drawing but if you haven't, well ... let's just say it's definitely typical Amanda artwork! Inspired by her Plague Doctor, Alex drew the following for her:

And Dave whipped out the following:

Admittedly those aren't something I'd want hanging on my walls but Amanda was thrilled with both pieces as well as the conversation she had with Alex wherein he complimented her on her choice of Gris Grimly t-shirt that she was wearing (come to think of it, everyone in the store loved her Gris Grimly shirt!) , asked if she was going to be going to art school (which she took as a good sign that her work was good enough for her to go), and then inquired as to how she had done the shading, etc. on her drawing which she also took as a good sign that they liked it.  All of a sudden the blister that had sprung up on her foot was forgotten as was how tired she was from standing in line for over five hours!

With a beaming 17-year old in tow, we flagged down a taxi as there was no way I was walking back down to the subway station and managed to make it back to Grand Central Station in time to catch the 10:22 p.m. train back to Connecticut.   Our long day ended when I pulled into our driveway at 12:58 a.m.  Oy!

Today it was back into the car to make the drive up to West Hartford so that we could attend the opening reception for the CT+5 regional exhibit that my photo of the Brooklyn Bridge had been accepted into.  The gallery was once again very small and very crowded so it was shades of the MoMA all over again minus any famous artwork on the walls!  Connecticut blogging friends Ralph and Patti made the drive up from Ansonia to join us which was really nice as Amanda really felt out of place amongst the older dowagers of West Hartford society who seemed to dominate the crowd and I was feeling a bit out of my league, too.  Honestly, after looking at some of the artwork on display, I am totally shocked that my humble little picture was chosen to be in the exhibit; to say that the room was stuffy in more ways than one (Amanda's words) was not incorrect!

From there we went to the local Red Robin for a nice lunch and chance to chat about kids and college (their oldest daughter will be graduating from the University of Hartford in May) and other things before Amanda and I returned to Norwich via the scenic route as I was apparently daydreaming and missed the turnoff for Route 2!

Finally, to cap off the art-filled weekend, I should mention that I received a letter in the mail yesterday letting me know that my submission to the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts 99th Annual Juried Show in Mystic has been accepted for inclusion into the show so that will be gallery showing number two for me for the year.  Mo - I think you'll be pleased with the photo I submitted - thanks for the encouragement!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go collapse on the couch for a little while - I think I've earned it!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Saturday Short

I went for a quick walk down towards Yantic Falls yesterday to see what I could see and as I walked up the sidewalk towards the lower falls, something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye ... 
Good grief - what is that? I know it wasn't here before all the flooding we had! Upon closer viewing I saw that it was a boat ...
Jammed squarely into the rocks in the middle of the waterfall ... 
Hmmm, I wonder if the city is going to try to get it out of there?  It certainly distracts from the beauty of the falls but extrication looks like it would be pretty tricky - to say the least! 
Anyway ... if you lost a boat during the flooding you might want to check at the bottom of the lower Yantic Falls!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Whirlwind Wednesday

I've had a couple of busy days here lately and I get the distinct feeling it's going to stay that way for a little longer so my apologies for not having had the chance to visit all of my blog buddies; I promise to try to play catch-up soon.  I may not get a chance to read all of your latest postings but I'll do my best as soon as I have the chance to become one with my Google Reader again!

I've got one more post from my walk through Yantic Village as soon as I can get those pictures edited but in the meantime here are a couple of quick iPhone shots of the lilacs in the backyard which popped out this week. I noticed them on my way to work yesterday and figured I had best take a picture asap as like so many things of spring, they don't stick around for long!

Hope everyone is well and happy and enjoying spring in whatever part of the world you call home!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Visit to the Village of Yantic, Part Three

Continuing my walk through the Village of Yantic:  just up the road a little bit from the Yantic Volunteer Fire Department and behind the post office is a beautiful old granite bridge that crosses over the Yantic River and leads to the residential area of the village.

The bridge was originally the main gateway to a beautiful mansion that Winslow Tracy Williams, son of Winslow Williams and grandson of Captain Erastus Williams, occupied on what was known as Mansion Hill - now Sunnyside East Road.  I'm not exactly sure what happened to the mansion that once stood there but from the old pictures I've seen it was definitely a beautiful place. Maybe there's someone who reads my blog via the Norwich Bulletin that could answer that one for me?

Mansion notwithstanding (or not standing any longer!), Winslow T. Williams was quite the prominent citizen of Norwich as his family was one of the most prosperous and productive in the city.  Winslow served as the President of Norwich's 250th anniversary celebration in 1909 - which was apparently quite the shindig - and as such he made extensive plans to commemorate the city's history; plans which included the cadets of West Point marching in a parade, a celebration of the friendship between Norwich and the Mohegan Tribe, and even a visit by the President of the United States.

As part of the celebration, Winslow Williams decided to dedicate the stone bridge he had built in Yantic to his good friend - President William Howard Taft who came to Norwich for the festivities on July 5th and 6th, 1909.  In honor of the President's visit a huge parade was held the likes of which Norwich has probably never seen since! People from all over Connecticut lined the streets as the President rode through the city in an open car as he helped one of the most prominent cities in New England at the time celebrate its history.

While here President Taft planted an oak tree at the Williams Mansion in the Village of Yantic and rode on his way to and from the mansion over the granite bridge that was erected in his honor and which still stands as a prominent piece of history over the Yantic River.  Unfortunately, though, a lot of the surrounding landscape has really changed over the years and it's hard to get pictures that aren't filled with telephone poles and power lines - necessary evils for society but a real pain in the lens for photographers!

I have to admit that I was quite taken with the little guard towers - I wonder if they were ever actually occupied by any guards at all?


It really is a beautiful old bridge with the two guard towers standing on both sides on the western end and two semi-circle benches made from stone in the middle where one could sit and enjoy the peace and quiet on a summer's evening if they'd like while listening to the river gurgle below.


While sitting there you could take in the lovely view, though there are probably some who don't find a rusted railroad trestle as attractive as I do!

Railfan or not, though, how can you not like that view??

Memo to self:  I need to go back up to the Village of Yantic in the fall and take some more pictures!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Musings

Taking a short break from my visit to the Village of Yantic while I do some more research on the next post in the series ...

So ... this past weekend was not exactly nice weather here in New England with a cold rain falling for almost the entire day on Saturday - which, of course, was the day that Amanda and I went back up to Montserrat for Accepted Student Day.  The weather was much like it was when we went up in early December for Open House so I've yet to see Beverly with the sun shining!  One of these days maybe?

Our friend Paula, who is an art teacher at Grasso Tech in Groton, went along with us for the day and as an art instructor she seemed quite impressed with the college and it's 8 to 1 student-teacher ratio as well as it's curriculum and campus size.  It was nice to get a second opinion from someone who didn't have her heart set on attending there in the Fall!

Speaking of which, I had the chance to sit down with the Financial Aid Director and even though Amanda only qualified for a small amount in Stafford Loans, the picture she painted wasn't quite as bleak as it could have been.  Of course, Amanda is still going to need a co-signer for a loan to cover what her scholarship and the Stafford Loans don't cover but I'm hoping we'll be able to find one somewhere.  Unfortunately, I can't do it as my credit is horrible but hopefully there will be someone who doesn't think it's too risky to co-sign for her.

Oh, and it certainly won't be her father as his credit is just as bad as mine plus when I told him about her acceptance, he seemed less than thrilled with the idea of her going to college at all.  I'm a little disappointed at his reaction but then again ... it's about what I expected.

The next couple of weeks are going to be very busy for me work-wise due to a couple of our other dispatchers heading down to Florida for the national dispatch conference next week.  In addition to the 7 shifts I have scheduled for this week, next week I have 8 which includes three doubles on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  I suspect that by the time I make it to May 2nd, I shall be totally wiped out!

This coming Sunday is the opening reception for the CT+5 Art Exhibit in West Hartford and Amanda and I will be making the drive up so that I can not only see my entry hanging on the wall but to check out all of the others on display.  Ralph and Patti - two blogging friends from Connecticut - are planning on meeting us there and then we'll be doing lunch/dinner afterward.  West Hartford is a really lovely area so maybe the weather will grace us with a nice day then as opposed to the nasty weather we got this past weekend!

I got to speak very briefly with Jamie this past Saturday evening as she was on home-pass from the Academy.  I was hoping to get the chance to talk more with her but for some reason I only had the short opportunity to do so before I ended up spending most of the time talking to her stepmom about Jamie's prom and graduation plans. Needless to say I am pretty disappointed that we didn't get a longer conversation as there were lots of things I wanted to ask her about.  Ah well, hopefully she'll use one her five-minute phone passes to call me some Monday evening.

While looking through file folders for some stationary this morning to write Jamie a letter I came across some old photos that I forgot my mother gave to me so I scanned a couple of them just to prove that yes, I really was a blond once upon a time!  This first picture is of myself and my oldest brother Mark (who just turned 53 last Monday) and I'm guessing it has to have been taken about 1961 as I guess I look about three years old or so -

This second picture kind of made me laugh when I saw it as all I could think was that it appears that I was destined to be a 911 Dispatcher/Operator as there I am, already on the phone though looking none too happy about it! Either that or I really needed a nap!  Looks like my mom had recently cut my bangs, too, as they are very short and choppy - the way they always ended up when Mom took the scissors to them!

Sometimes it's hard to believe that I was ever that young or how quickly the years have gone since.  Time is a funny thing, isn't it?  Drags when you want it to fly and flies when you want it to drag.  Oh well, speaking of dragging and flying, I suspect I'd best drag my behind off to the shower so that I can fly off to work before too long!  Hope everyone has a wonderful Monday no matter whether you're flying or dragging in your part of the world!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Visit to the Village of Yantic, Part Two

Continuing my walk through the village located next to the banks of the Yantic River - whereas the old Hale Mill is the biggest structure in the Village of Yantic and the post office is cute and easily accessible, the most important structure is that which belongs to the Yantic Volunteer Fire Company.

Captain Erastus Williams may have founded Yantic but it was his son, Winslow Tracy Williams, who really fine-tuned the village and that includes developing the Yantic Fire Company.

Established by an Act of the Connecticut General Assembly on July 14th, 1847, Yantic Fire Engine Company No. 1 has not closed for a single day in over 160 years.

The department has about 50 volunteer members - both men and women - who protect an area of approximately 9.5 square miles which includes the Village of Yantic as well as the rest of the area of Norwich that has been designated as Yantic's primary response area encompassing residential, business, commercial, and rural areas.

In keeping with the English air to the architecture in Yantic, the firehouse looks like it should be sitting in a European countryside rather than in a small Connecticut town.  In my humble opinion, it's the best looking firehouse in Norwich - of which there are seven in all.

In walking around the building, it's easy to see that the members of the Yantic Volunteer Fire Department are very proud of those who have served as there are quite a few memorials to be seen.

Located next to the fire department and just over the tracks is Fireman's Field where I'm sure the very active department holds any number of activities during seasonable months.

It was on the other side of this field that the pictures I've posted of the Yantic River were taken as the field abuts the banks of the Yantic.  I would be willing to bet that Fireman's Field was under water when the Yantic overran its banks during our last major rainstorm but I'd have to say that the grass is simply more the greener for it now.

I've got no doubt that Yantic is very proud of it's volunteer fire department and they should be as it takes a special group of men and women willing to dedicate their time and oftentimes risk their lives to protect others.

Come to think of it, I believe I currently live in the Yantic Fire Department's response area so I'd like to say a big thank you for all that you do though I sincerely hope I never need your services! No offense, of course!