Mayberry, RFD -- 06/23/02

On Friday Nancy and I drove up to Providence around five-thirty.. I had been in my office in the morning, but left there around one p.m. to come home and work from home during the afternoon. We went to the Providence Place Mall to do a bit of shopping and to see an IMAX movie (you know, the kind of theatre with the gigantic screen... if you've only encountered them in places like the Smithsonean or other museums, the process has gone commercial and they are popping up in malls around the country).

We saw Space Station in 3D -- yeah, not just on the giant screen that completely fills your entire field of view, but it was in 3D as well... and not the old 3D you may remember from various fifties sci-fi movies, but a very sophisticated process using polarized light. You get a big pair of 3D glasses with left eye and right eye lenses rotated so each only passes the light that is polarized in that orientation, the result: three dimensions -- and the fit just fine over regular eyeglasses. The film was fantastic. I loved every minute of it. Regular readers may recall my intense interest in going into space... all I can say is that there were a number of times during this film when I had a lump in my throat from the beauty and wonder of the images I was viewing, and finally the launch of Discovery was too much and I missed a minute or two with fogged up eyeglasses.

Then some shopping -- one of my co-workers is getting married later this year and Nancy is going to a bridal shower for her on Sunday -- and dinner in the Chicago Pub at Pizzeria Uno and then home. A very pleasant evening.

Saturday I ran around in the morning, various errands -- got a haircut, stopped at the library, bought groceries. Nancy and I went for a bike ride in the afternoon, went along the bike path to the Amtrak station -- there had been a celebration there earlier in the day marking the grand opening of a railroad museum in the station, but people were packing up and heading home as we rode by -- and then back home. I changed into running shorts and shoes and biked over to the middle school track to run a few laps. I wasn't too sure if I were really up to that, but decided to run one lap to see. I ran it in 1:48 -- it was a struggle and I was gasping and panting and was about ready to hop on my bike and go home as soon as I got my breath back, but after stretching a bit I decided to try a second lap. I ran that lap in 1:38... then after walking a bit I tried a third lap and managed to get around the track in 1:31. After recovering from that, I did one last lap and was a couple of seconds slower at 1:33. So, altogether, I was rather pleased. I guess I should start to make of point of doing this at least once a week. (And after I biked back home -- for a total of about ten miles on my bike -- I was doing yardwork, shoveling up dirt and grass, five or six wheelbarrow's worth -- so I was really exhausted by the time I finally took a shower.

And now to the Mayberry RFD reference... Wakefield was holding a block party, postponed from last weekend due to rain. I suggested that we go down there for dinner. Jennifer was going up to Warwick, shopping with Lia. Sean wasn't interested; he had helped a friend fix the sound system in his car and they had pigged out in the kitchen after finishing that. So it was just Nancy and me.

A long block of Main Street, the heart of the business district, was blocked off by South Kingstown Police Dept. squad cars and hundreds of people were filling the street. There was a band (eight or nine musicians) doing a mixture of mostly oldies -- they did a really nice set of Beach Boys songs -- and people of all ages dancing in the street. We were immediately drawn in by the fire department's tables where they were cooking up hot dogs and hamburgers. One of the firemen was an excellent salesman, he would call people over and quickly talk them into buying something to eat -- I got a hamburger and Nancy got a cheeseburger. Not too far away on the opposite side of the street The Mews Tavern had set up a table where they were selling sausage and pepper grinders (that's a sub or a hoagie or a poor boy to those of you not from New England) and Buzzard's Bay lager and pale ale. Hmmm, pale ale for both Nancy and me and I'll have one of those sausage and pepper grinders please. Yummy. Down at the other end of the block party area was The Glass Station, a shop that sells hand-made glass ornaments and bowls and goblets and decorations, etc. They were putting on demonstrations of glass blowing (and yes, the building used to be an automobile service station). Meanwhile, at the middle of the block, people were wandering back into the municpal parking lot (which is situated between the Main Street buildings and the Saugatucket River)... There was a demonstration of the Australian Aborigine musical instrument, the didgeridoo. Its erie low mournful sound drifted over the river where bonfires were burning. In a much smaller version of Providence's Water Fire, we were having a Saugatucket Illumination (or whatever they ended up calling it... the artist who conceived of and directs Water Fire is quite open to other towns also having floating fires on their rivers just as long as they avoid using the term "Water Fire") There is a pedestrian bridge over the river at this point and crowds would walk out onto the bridge to watch the fires -- two fires upstream of the bridge and four downstream. A beautiful summer night.

At one point while we were in the midst of the crowds on Main Street Nancy turned to me and said "We live in Mayberry RFD -- and I'm so glad that we do." I don't know if that tv show was exported to other countries the way so many shows are today -- many years ago Andy Griffith played the sherrif of a small rural town -- so long ago that his elementary school age nephew was played by Ron Howard, who later went on to play a high school student in "Happy Days" before moving on to become an successful (and Oscar-winning) motion picture director. Mayberry was an idealized portral of small town life, fondly based on Griffith's childhood in a small town in rural North Carolina. Yeah, okay, so this isn't really Mayberry -- we have drugs and crime and problems that never existed in that idealized television town -- and in some ways we have things better here because we are not that lilly white world either, just looking at the crowd you would have noted Asian and African ancestory as well as some whose features proclaimed that their ancestors had already been here when Roger Williams migrated here from colonial Massachusetts. But Nancy was right, this is a marvelous town we live in, old-fashioned in a very good way.

A quick Sunday report: got in a five mile run today, Nancy went to the bridal shower, Jennifer spent the day with her boyfriend in Warwick (she phoned me asking for some cooking instructions), and Sean helped a neighbor paint their deck (uh, hello, you've got lots of chores to do right here at home...) and now it's time for me to post this entry that I never got around to finishing last night (too tired) and attempt to review the lectures I've go to deliver tomorrow in a class I'll be teaching. (This will be difficult because I've been fighting a sinus headache all day and have been losing the fight.)

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