Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Catch Up: Two Weekends Ago

As much as I posted about my CZT experience last week, I didn't tell you about our excursions around Providence, a city none of us had visited before.  Unfortunately, the 30-degree/40 mph/snow squalls weather wasn't conducive to any outdoor activities such as Slater Mill, Coggeschwall Farm, or the Roger Williams Zoo that was most recommended to us.  But we did do a few fun indoor things, starting with the Culinary Museum on the campus of Johnson and Wales.  A history of American food and restaurants, mainly, we saw a great exhibition on diners, complete with diner car and fake food.  There was also a section on soda shops, one on the evolution of the stove (from hearth through cast iron and beyond), and another on outdoor cooking, including the Girl Scouts!  We marveled at the exhibition of sugar sculptures--real actual sugar work on display with this amazing lattice.  And a tiny space on the history of foods in ancient China, Greece, and Rome (I think.  Might have been some Aztecs, too.)  The only downside of the whole place?  No cafeteria!

So we searched for local places and Mama found this amazing old hot dog stand, officially called the Olneyville New York System Hot Wieners and Sandwiches.  There were neon signs, chrome bits, wacky signs (buy 1 for the price of two, get second free!), older male staff full of characters, and even bar stools just like the ones in the exhibit.  We had their hot dogs--which are wieners with flat ends in a steamed bun covered in some kind of ground meat and raw onion plus a smattering of seasoning somewhat like nutmeg--and french fries and cheesesteaks and a coffee milk, Rhode Island's signature drink made with coffee syrup.  It was all a riot of local color.

That evening, foregoing another meal, we wandered around downtown near our hotel, the Hotel Providence.  There was a craftsy store (full of artsy things, NOT a craft store), a used bookstore, and two Korean-Japanese places with one that sold bubble tea and other drinks.
LOVED this at the craftsy store Craftland

Exhausted, we spend the evening watching mediocre television--introduced the kids to "Deadliest Catch!"

 Before my Zentangle class began on Sunday evening, we spent the day around town.  Mama and the kids dropped me off at First Unitarian of Providence, which is a 200+ year old congregation in a lovely old building on an amazingly preserved historical street called Benefit.  (We had also marveled at historic Federal Hill the day before.)  I only heard some of the typically Unitarian service because I was distracted by the architecture.  It had the usual somewhat awkward but enthusiastic UU singing (our hearts are there--with so many aging hippies--but we aren't always such great singers in a group and we can rarely keep time) and a sermon about prayer which, also in UU fashion, skipped over the "to whom it may concern" acknowledging how fraught that was for us to focus on how it affects the praying person.  Then there was coffee hour--with real china cups in the early 19th-century parsonage and a book sale!  I felt right at home and missed my own UU congregation, which we haven't seen in awhile.


Mama and the kids did come across their own spiritual message:  the sign at a church down the street said "I find your lack of faith disturbing. --D. Vader"  LOVE IT.



We went to the museum of the famous Rhode Island School of Design, which is free on Sundays.  We wandered some of the galleries, focusing on the period rooms with all of their dec arts.   Mama even analyzed an 18th-century chest for us, you know, having built a replica herself. Sis noticed right away one of the "real" Gilbert Stuart paintings of George Washington.  There were also paintings by Hudson River landscapist Cole, portraitists Copley and Sully, and also the sculpture Nydia the Blind Girl by Rogers and busts by Powers.  We didn't spend too much time in the modern wings, though we nodded at the Warhol cow wallpaper, Rothko, and Twombly.  The kids were starting to sink, Mama was antsy to miss the weather on the drive home, and I was ready to start CZT class.

So even though it was a very short introduction to Providence, we enjoyed ourselves.  And eventually we'll get back for the zoo!

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