“Two Days Away”

My good friend and I spent two nights in Newport, Rhode Island at the Yankee Peddler Inn. While we both enjoy bed and breakfast places, it is difficult to find one with two beds in a room. Mostly they cater to couples I guess. We were fortunate to find the lovely room pictured above. A strong wind blowing Saturday allowed me to catch a shot of the surf rolling into the local beach. In the background you can see the cliffs, home to the Cliff Walk, a nearly three mile mostly paved path around the cliffs.

Newport is as old as Boston and is filled with colonial houses and cobbled streets and sidewalks. Eminently walkable, the town let us park the car and get everywhere on foot. I craved fish, so I had baked cod for one main meal and cod fish and chips for the other. The Inn had an expansive breakfast set up complete with fruit, eggs, assorted baked goods, cereal, oatmeal, coffee, tea and juice. Well fortified with breakfast and the main meal, we had cupcakes for dinner one night.

Newport became a summer destination for the very very wealthy of the Gilded Age in New York and is full of enormous mansions looking over the sea. These now are open for tourists to ooh and aah over. We toured Rosecliff a few years ago where they filmed The Great Gatsby. We both enjoyed the servants’ quarters more than any other part of the too too over the top place. After that we had no desire to see another mansion.  I imagine in the future people will tour Mar-A-Lago in the same way!

Tomorrow we’re off to see Plymouth, Massachusetts where there is a recreated Puritan village and a recreated Native settlement. I will try to get some photos of it too.

“Off Until Saturday”

A good friend flew in yesterday afternoon to visit for  a week. We’re in Newport , Rhode Island now and back Saturday afternoon. Hope to catch up with everyone then. I’ll also try to get a photo of one of the old Newport mansions, home to the formerly rich and infamous.

“A Catholic Writer?”

1940 Family_00037A

Here I am seriously self reflecting on what it means to be a Catholic writer. Well probably not at that age! But in this post I wanted to put down my thoughts on the matter. A common misconception about Catholic(or Jewish or Hindu or Islamic) writers is that all of their output is religiously centered and aimed at converting the reader. This prevents some writers from even mentioning religious subjects for fear that they will be seen as coercive or close minded.

Many religious writers do in fact write about purely religious subjects and do want to convert their readers. However, I am not one of them. On the other hand, I do think of myself as a Catholic writer. Why? It’s simple really; I am a Catholic and I write. I am also a woman writer, a white writer, an old writer, a New England writer, a married writer, a grandmother writer, and a dog owning writer. I am not trying to change anyone’s gender, race, geographical location, marital status or pet ownership, but all of those aspects of me are important and inform what I think about, write about, and how I respond to things I read.

Lately anti-intellectual, right wing Christians have received a lot of news coverage for their views on the Presidency and the climate. My faith bears little resemblance to theirs, though we say we worship the same God. But behind all of my writing, my reflections, my joys and my sorrows, is my faith. I would be doing it a disservice if I allowed only the others to speak for me. They don’t. I follow a Gospel that stresses that the last shall be first, that we are commanded(not suggested) to love one another, that Jesus was a refugee, and that when we do to the least we are following Christ. Just thought it was time I said that again.

 

“Cultural Missteps”

scotlanda014

I imagine that anywhere in the world opening your car window when a bear is outside is a bad idea. But in many other instances, what is appropriate, polite or mannerly in one place is inappropriate, impolite or bad manners in another. These differences aren’t limited to different countries, but can easily exist within the same country, even the same neighborhood or the same church.

I come from a faith tradition where everyone is expected to know everyone and to chat with them before the service. When we started attending our  Catholic church I discovered a much different expectation. I thought the person who sat down next to me in a pew should say hello. The person had no such expectations. I thought they were rude for not speaking. Some person at one point told me that they were taught to be silent before the service. They must have thought I was the rude person.

When we bought our house here we wanted the same kind of privacy in our back yard that we had enjoyed in Portland. We installed an attractive, expensive fence to surround our back lot. We learned that this was seen as unneighborly. Our neighbors apparently enjoyed looking across and through our yard at other yards and other neighbors. No one had fences, and they liked it just fine.

And then there is the two cheek kissing by older Italian men at church. I recognize that there is no element of “me too” in their behavior. But it throws me every time I am enveloped in an embrace and kissed on both cheeks. Am I supposed to kiss back? Where do I put my nose anyway! I still struggle with the practice, but do know that it would be rude to pull away from a well intentioned greeting.

I loved the responses about table manners from readers. I would enjoy hearing of cultural missteps any of you have made either around your country or in visiting another.

“Mind Your Manners”

AD6CE2A6-8396-49C7-A222-6ABF0174148A

I had to learn a whole slate of table manners when I was growing up. Among them were don’t slurp your milk, chew with your mouth shut, don’t talk while you’re eating, use your silverware not your fingers, do the two hand switcheroo with the knife and fork when cutting meattwohandswitcheroo

(you then had to trade the knife and fork and eat off the fork),

ask to be excused at the end of the meal, and don’t drop food to the dog under the table! I put in this last one to reward anyone who finished the list. It was an actual rule, but I doubt that it was in Emily Post’s book of etiquette.

At camp I learned two new rules which were given special names or rhymes. The first went “Mabel, Mabel well and able get your elbow off the table.” This was new for me. And if you propped your knife on the side of your plate you were called out for making a “gangplank.” Not manner related but camp fun nonetheless, when a milk carton was empty we were to lay it on its side and announce “dead cow,” to get the servers’ attention.

With the exception of the knife and fork switcheroo, all these manners seem to be expected all over the United States. I am curious if any of my readers can add to my list.