Nancy and I aren’t sure how we should feel right now. It’s a new school year and, for the first time in thirteen years, we are living in a home devoid of school-aged kids. No more lunches to pack or forgotten gym clothes to deliver. No more late night buses to meet or sweaty dances to chaperone. We knew this day would come eventually. We just weren’t ready for Addy to leave home at age sixteen. Our new-found freedom will most certainly re-open up an almost forgotten way of life for us – coming and going when we please, travelling across the country at the drop of a hat, but it’s still not sitting quite right with us somehow. It’s not that we’ve lived our lives vicariously through our little boy all these years, it’s just that the three of us were always a team and now he’s changed franchises on us. Addy’s thrilled to be in New Hampshire attending St. Paul’s School and we are just as thrilled for him, really. Thank goodness for video chat and for the fact that he had the good sense to relocate to one of the parts of America that we love best.
Very few places can compete with New England for its amazing food, beautiful scenery, rich history, and oh yeah, some of best antique shopping anywhere! In fact, we brought a whole trailer load of great new stuff from the Brimfield antique fair and upstate New York back with us. There, now I feel much better.
What’s New in The Store?
Here are a few tidbits that followed us home from New England in the last week or so: a pair of darling little 1940’s zinc flamingos, a metal rope twist gilt side table, a pair of nice iron gate panels, a pair of Wallbridge of Buffalo, NY cast iron urns on bases and several single urns on plinths. We also found a beautifully surfaced small tazza form urn covered with lovely vegetative designs, an amazing 19th century cast iron French bistro table base, interesting architectural iron fragments, a pair of 19th cast iron “Jenny Lind” urn faces, a couple of cute garden mushrooms, a little frog fountainhead and lots more.
One of the more interesting things we came up with was a huge (36″ tall) pair of vintage white glazed Italian terracotta chinoiserie figures (whew, that’s a mouthful) made by Mottahedeh & Company in the 1970’s. Intricately detailed, they’d be perfect in a conservatory room or even gazing over the table from a sideboard in the dining room. Mottahedeh was the number-one maker of luxury porcelain in the U.S. market for many years and was founded by the amazing Mildred Mottahedeh who “amassed the largest privately held collection of Chinese export porcelain in the world… she also acquired enormous wealth during her lifetime, including one of the largest estates in Connecticut during the 1950s and 1960s, she gave nearly all her wealth away by establishing charities such as the Mottahedeh Development Services, building over 10 schools in Uganda, and many other endeavors. Her company, while no longer owned by the Mottahedeh family, continues to make luxury porcelain.” – Wikipedia.
Brimfield Flea Market
It was a pretty full week for us. After spending a couple of very fun nights with old friends in Acton, MA and dropping Addy off for a camping trip through the White Mountains, we headed down to the granddaddy of American antique flea markets in Brimfield, MA. Although Granddad was looking a little tired this year, the weather was beautiful and we had a wonderful time poking around the thousands of booths. We even got to catch up with friends from all over the country, including most of the dealers we knew from the New York Botanic Garden show who were either set up or just shopping the show like us.
Antique dealers are always grousing about something, but at Brimfield, even if the buying and selling is a little slow, the people watching never disappoints. Picture a high-end antique show, farm auction, gay pride parade, Harley convention and an AARP picnic all combined into one and you’ll get the idea what it looks like when tens of thousands of collectors of “who knows what” descend on a plot of farmland in the middle of nowhere.
There was a very welcome new innovation at the show this year. Occasionally, when attending multi-day shows and when the wind is at my back, I wont notice hygienically challenged marketeers within my red zone until it too late to hold my breath and jump to the other side of the aisle. It can be painful and the effects may linger for hours. For the first time, someone had the brilliant idea to stem those kinds of aural assaults by adding free scented body spray dispensers to all the porta-potty/hand-washing stations. Now, anyone in need can spray him or herself with enough “bathroom Polo” to mask the underlying odor of sleeping in a truck for days without a shower. It got to be a joke with us, because so many dealers and buyers alike smelled just the same – something between a New York cab driver and a teen-aged boy on Friday night. It reminded me of the time in basic training my entire flight left the base for our first trip to town. All forty of us had doused ourselves with the same bottle of Aramis cologne and nearly caused the bus driver to pass out.
Four Dollar Lobster
It never ceases to amaze me how compact New England is. Less than an hour after dropping Addy off in the center of New Hampshire, we were driving down route 1A along the seashore. We stopped for lunch at Petey’s in Rye on the recommendation of Sally Lerman and her “lobster Gal” blog. We’ve not met Sally, but how could we not love someone who’s primary leisure activity seems to be travelling up and down the eastern seaboard with a portable scale and camera – weighing, documenting and rating every lobster roll she can find. No lobster rolls for us, though. Too much bread and mayonnaise usually. Instead, we had a great lunch of steamed mussels (although I could have done without the Parmesan breadcrumbs sprinkled on top), fried clams and my new favorite thing – a whole shucked lobster tail on a stick. At first, we were a little put off by the $17.99 lobster dinner, since we’d seen signs for $3.95 a pound lobster up and down the shore, until we realized it was for two lobsters with all the fixings!
Two days later we spent the day traveling around southern New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts running errands and seeing the sights with friends from Nashua, who, on top of being the most amazing wicker dealers in America, are just hysterical fun. On the way home, we stopped at their favorite place to buy lobsters – the local grocery store (you know we’re not in Kansas anymore Dorothy) and an amazing farmer’s market and bakery in Hollis MA for everything else we needed for dinner. Our hosts used an ingenious “packing” method, involving very little water, to steam corn, sausage and lobsters all at once without overcooking anything. Nancy pitched in with a beautiful tomato and zucchini salad. I was in charge of making the biscuits and eating everything people left on their plates before it got scraped into the compactor.
I guess we still haven’t had the tears part… We caught up with Addy the next day around 11:00 for the official move in and room set up, met his big brother, adviser, house parents and the head of school. We ate lunch in the cafeteria, sat in on a new parent orientation until 3:00 and were promptly shown the door with all the other parents at 4:30… it was a long, quiet ride through the beautiful mountain valleys of New Hampshire and Vermont towards Albany and home.
We broke the silence with a stop for dinner in Bennington, VT at Allegro – a charming Italian place with surprisingly low prices given the quality of what they put out. Nancy and I shared a salad, an appetizer of rabbit and ricotta meatballs and an entree of pappradelle with wild mushroom cream sauce. All was right with the world again. We are just like children. You can always stop our tears with the distraction of something tasty to eat.