Summer recap!

I’ve been reminded I’ve been remiss in posting our Newark adventures this past summer.   We’ve been so busy with activities and travel and work that there hasn’t been much time to sit at the computer!  It’s been a fantastic year here in Delaware, and our summer was spectacular.

Our Travels

Ed has been busy traveling abroad this year.  He’s been to Washington state, California (he is flying back home from there as I’m typing), New York, Massachusetts, Canada, Japan, Belgium and the Netherlands.  I know I’m forgetting states and countries his job has taken him to.  Despite his business travel, he’s also joined me on several trips we’ve taken on the East Coast.  Part of the fun of living here is the accessibility of the nearby cities, not to mention my favorite place, Bar Harbor, Maine.  I’d already posted about our Memorial Day weekend trip to Boston and Gloucester here.  The following week Ed and I headed to Washington D.C., a comfortable two-hour drive from our home.  Unfortunately I didn’t take many photos, but did snap this one of the G.A.R. monument.

Grand Army of the Republic monument in D.C.

Grand Army of the Republic monument in D.C.  My great-great grandfather was a G.A.R. member after serving as a volunteer in the civil war’s Union Army.

I spent most of my time in D.C. at the National Archives, reviewing the original pension files of my relatives who served in the Civil War.  It was simply astounding to hold the actual paper my relatives had written on, vs. viewing xerox copies of the documents on file.  After exhausting that research, I next pulled files for my Stanwood family’s homestead applications which were filed in Minnesota in the 1870s.  The next day I meandered on over to the Library of Congress.  There are simply no words to describe the beauty of that building, and the overwhelming number of books and other records held by this enormous repository.  I need to plan several hours (umm, days) to really take advantage of the LOC.  Thankfully that is easily done with DC’s proximity to us!

When we returned from D.C., we had our work cut out for us!  We had to empty all of our furniture to have the carpeting torn out of the living room and master bedroom, and to have the hardwood floors refinished.  That meant living in the basement for what turned out to be three and a half agonizingly long weeks instead of the seven days we were told to plan for.  Ed had it the worst – he volunteered to stay home and babysit the dogs during his company’s Fourth of July shutdown while I took Jeremy for a drive into New England, visiting my favorite state – Maine!

We started our time in Bangor, which we used as home base for our travels.  My primary goal during this trip was to attempt to narrow down the location of Benjamin and Betsey (Wasgatt) Stanwood’s home in the town of Woodville, Maine.  Through some serendipity involving an old map, not only did we find the property, but we also got to meet my fifth cousin Laurie who lives on the old homestead.  (Laurie also has a son named Jeremy – talk about coincidences!)  You can read all about this part of our trip here.  It was the best part of our adventure in Maine, and was quite exhilarating not only to find the property, but also a cousin who shared an interest in our family history (and was willing to talk to a stranger walking up to her front door!)

Cousins Laurie and Laurie

Cousins Laurie and Laurie, taken in Lincoln where we went to meet with Laurie’s mom.

Near the Stanwood homestead in Woodville, Maine.

Near the Stanwood homestead in Woodville, Maine.  I can’t imagine this area looked much different when my ancestors lived there 150 years ago.

Next Jeremy and I headed “Downeast” to Bar Harbor, Maine.  I was beyond upset that the weather was so bloody hot that we didn’t get to do a whole lot.  Added to the heat was the overwhelming number of tourists who flooded the town for the 4th of July festivities.  I want to take Jeremy back off-season where he can really appreciate the beauty of Bar Harbor and where his ancestors settled in 1762.

Bar Harbor's Village Green overlooking the pier.

Bar Harbor’s Village Green overlooking the pier.

Me and Scooter at Bar Harbor

Me and Scooter at Bar Harbor

Yes, Scooter joined Jeremy and I on our trip as well.  That was another reason we didn’t get to enjoy ourselves as much as if we’d traveled dog-less.  Scooter has had quite a rough year – two surgeries for mast cell tumor removal, several procedures due to bladder stones, and stomach problems due to his medications.  He still wasn’t feeling very well when it was time for Jeremy and I to head to New England, so we modified our hotel accommodations to dog friendly lodging, and brought “The Bug” along with us so he could have 24/7 nursing care by his Mama.

In August Ed and I ventured to South Carolina, spending a long weekend at a resort in Myrtle Beach.  I don’t really have any worthwhile pics – while I did relax and enjoy myself (thanks to my Kindle!), I have to say we were both underwhelmed by Myrtle Beach.  There are many other places we’d prefer to be, but hey, at least we can say we’ve been there!

Home stuff

After Jeremy and I returned from New England, we were thrilled to learn we could move back out of the basement and into the house.  The floors had cured and we were allowed to put the beds back in place.  The bummer was that we had to wait 45 days to put the area rugs and couches back, so we sat on inflatable couches that wouldn’t scratch the newly stained and resurfaced floors.  Thankfully, my family room has been reassembled now for several weeks, and I hope we can avoid refinishing the floors for many, many years – what an ordeal!

Our living room

Our living room

The fun part of this whole process, though, is decorating our living room.  Now that the horrid baby-blue carpet has been removed and the hardwood floors are polished, the house is “speaking to us” and giving us ideas on what is to go where.  The antique map that led me to my Stanwood property (and cousin Laurie) has been framed and hung on the wall as the center piece for the room.  My heritage cabinet that had originally been placed in my office (and which seemed somehow “off” in there) has been happily relocated to the living room.  I’ve spent several hours digging through old photographs, and now my next project will be duplicating and framing old black and white pictures that will be placed on either side of the map.  I’m still not sure what I’ll put behind our bargain sofa, found in a really cool antique shop in Pennsylvania, and we still need to find an area rug and coffee table to go in the room as well.  All in time…

Do I Need An MRI?????

So, those who have known me for any length of time will be astounded to learn…..DRUM ROLL PLEASE….I am COOKING!  I know, I’m completely and totally shocked myself.  Lauren learning culinary skills was in the same category as pigs flying!  I keep wondering if I need to go get a neurology consult as I’ve never, ever been interested in puttering around the kitchen, but here I am, shopping for the ingredients for my latest recipe, trying new foods, and actually enjoying the entire process.  Ed is rather tickled himself…it takes the pressure off him as he has been the family chef for the 28 years we’ve been married.   The added bonus for me is I’m able to find high-protein, low calorie meals that are helping our entire family take the pounds off that we gained after making our big move here a year ago.

Coq Au Vin - Ed's favorite of my recipes

Coq Au Vin – Ed’s favorite of my recipes

Nature and Outdoor Adventures

We’ve spent a good part of the summer outdoors.  Our California friends keep asking about the weather and how we are tolerating the humidity.  Honestly, it just doesn’t phase us much.  I far prefer Delaware summers to those in Temecula.  We did have about three weeks that were pretty brutal – the air felt horribly thick – but even with that brief period, it was much better than the 100F- plus temps of the Temecula summers I’ve endured for the last few decades!  Ed and I often walk through White Clay Creek state park, our favorite place to hike.  There are many paths we’ve yet to explore, and the sound of the birds and stream is quite relaxing.

Biking in White Clay Creek

Biking in White Clay Creek

Delaware downfalls

I am happy as a clam here in my new state.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE my job – I work with great people in a company whose values mirror my own – we are dedicated to the patients and the staff, and it’s important to do the right thing by all.  Perhaps that is the biggest blessing for me, as I was worried I’d never find another place where I felt home like I did at my last VNA.  I love my house (despite finding the homeowner’s warranties you purchase in escrow are basically a useless scam and our repairs have all been out of pocket), our town, and really couldn’t be happier.  But of course, there are a few things that are a bit of bummer here in Delaware:

1)  I don’t think I will ever adjust to the mosquitoes.  I hate them and they love me.  We need to buy stock in OFF insect repellent.

2)  Fresh produce is hard to come by.  There are some farmers markets where you can purchase decent fruits and vegetables, but the grocery stores rarely have what I would consider fresh tomatoes, avocados, artichokes, etc.  Add to that fact that the grocery stores themselves leave a lot to be desired.  Recently a store called ShopRite opened nearby, and I was ecstatic!  It’s the closest thing to a California market – good produce, good variety on the shelves, and CLEAN!

3)  No really authentic Mexican food.  I am constantly belaboring this point, as I miss hot, fresh tamales, and what I would give for a real TACO!

4)  Poor selection of fast food restaurants.  Jack In the Box and In ‘N Out Burger have not made their way here.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as I certainly don’t need the calories of a hamburger, and it’s made me start preparing my lunch for work – lots and lots and lots of healthy salads!

5)  No Chase banks.  We’ve banked with Chase/WAMU for nearly 20 years.  Its a major headache to switch auto deposit, auto debits, not to mention online banking stuff.  Thanks to the Chase banking app, it’s rare that we need to go into a branch, but when we do, the nearest one is in Trenton, New Jersey – 45 minutes to an hour drive.

All in all, five slightly annoying or inconvenient items on our list after a year in our new state isn’t too bad.  Each day I feel very, very blessed to be here, and am thankful for good jobs (Jeremy is still enjoying his position at U.D. too!), a great home, and a very smooth transition in a major cross country move.  If you are still reading this LONG post, thanks for keeping up with our adventures….signing off to go take a walk at White Clay Creek!