Let me begin with a wish for all of our readers out there: I really hope this new year and new decade brings you great wealth — emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially. I also want to thank you for your support — in reading this blog, Yankee Magazine, and our sister publication, The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
I hope your holidays were fun and fulfilling. I spent mine on the road, darting up and around every New England state except Connecticut (and that was only because of a snowstorm that put the kibosh on our plans). I’m grateful that Santa brought me an early gift of a new car (actually used, but new for me!). My 1998 VW finally gave in to the stress of 120,000 hard miles of mountain and city driving. I donated the old beast; I hope her new owners have as much fun as with her as we did and that she behaves. Good thing I got a Prius (46.2 average miles per gallon, thank you very much), because this was my holiday schedule:
December 23: Boston/Dublin, NH/Boston. A few meetings, Christmas cookie drop-off, and soup to friends not feeling super-great.
December 24: Boston/Jamestown, RI. A quick stop at Pace in the North End for prosciutto, gabba goo (capicola), fennel salumi, olives, pannetone, and a chicken parm sandwich. Yes, I ate it in the car while driving. McQuade’s in Jamestown for seltzer and dog bones. Cocktail party and Christmas pageant at Bonnet Shores. 5:30 Mass at St. Mark’s (Father O’Neil had the children do the homily — cuckoo good stuff). Then off to cousin Peter’s house for a dinner party. Peter and his wife, Bette, put out a great spread, including turkey, ham, salads, and potatoes. The food was very good, particularly Maureen’s pork pie. Most of my cousins were there, as well as other family members whom I don’t get to see as much as I’d like to — they’re such fun, so interesting — so I hope I get to see Elsie, Tom, Lynn, and Garrett more often. I was also pleased to see young Kendra’s palate coming along — she’s quite the pizza aficionada. We didn’t stay too late, but back at Courtney and Andy’s, we opened more wine, and Court brought out her handmade dumplings. I crawled into bed around 2-ish, but found myself reading Gifts From an Armenian Kitchen, a cookbook Kim and Dolby had given me, so I stayed up later than necessary. But that’s what coffee is for, right?
December 25/26/27/28: Jamestown/Boston/Camden, ME. Up and out early. The roads were empty, and there was a brisk chill in the air. I picked up young Tori at Amtrak and up to Maine we headed, to bring her to her grandmother, a.k.a. Noma. We were greeted by Noma, her three dogs (Shadow, Dozer, and Lila), and cat Beau Kitty (a.k.a. Ciao Gatto). Noma stuffed us to the gills with a perfectly roasted prime rib, served with green beans and mashed potatoes. We ate and drank so much I had a dream I was being fattened up for slaughter—really. Breakfast was pancakes, bacon (we got it at French and Brawn frenchandbrawn.com in Camden, but it’s from Arkansas), eggs, and juice. I couldn’t manage lunch, but dinner was lasagna … It went on like that for days. I slept. I ate. I knitted. I watched movies. We had a terrific, if fattening, visit.
December 29: Boston/Dublin, NH. A girl has to work sometimes.
December 30–January 1: Boston/Plymouth, VT. This time the road brought me north again, to a place that’s part and parcel of my childhood. My dad is from this area of Vermont, and I know Route 4 like the back of my hand. I’ve been coming here in all seasons since I was 2 weeks old. I learned to ski on Pico’s bunny slope.
Two friends and I were lucky enough to be in a private home at Hawk Inn and Resort hawkresort.com. Quite a home indeed: It lacked for nothing. I pulled into the main reception area at 4:55, just in time for my hot-stone massage with Judy. I believe that massages are a bit of an indulgence financially, but a necessary and very beneficial indulgence for one’s body. The stress of December expressed itself in several knots in my shoulder, neck, and hip, but by golly, Judy worked her magic, and I was human rubber after our hour-and-a-half session. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend her work. We meant to have dinner at the inn’s River Tavern, but I was in my huge bed, snoring, by 8 p.m.
The next day included a delicious tuna sandwich (thanks for the leftovers, Timmy and family), with chips and a few shakes of Frank’s Hot Sauce. Then a visit to Singleton’s singletonsvt.com in Proctorsville for more bacon, shearling slippers, vermouth, and yoga pants. And a lovely quiet walk through the snowy woods: Is there anything better than the sound of walking in the untouched snow? That special dryish smoosh. Tall trees. Mountains. Pristinely clean air. Ahhhh … I tried to take a nap, as we had plans for a big night out — the last night of 2009 — but we ended up staying in for Peggy’s mom’s fried fish and my very own Bolognese sauce (a hybrid of Barbara Lynch’s, Julie Fox’s, and Marcella Hazan’s) over penne pasta. Oh, and gobs of champagne. And fantastic fireworks.