… whilst my head explodes.
Ahhhhh, that’s better!!!
It’s so quiet here in the house. I have only one radio on, the one here in the office. The tv is off. There’s no one else home. Kurt is in Florida on a business trip (no laptop for me this week, which means I won’t be quite as available online as I normally am), and Grace… well, Grace is at preschool!
Grace heads off for her first day of school
Wow, where has the time gone?? OK, so it’s just preschool, but still! She’s been so excited ever since Kurt investigated several preschools while I was in California, and fortunately the one he chose was the one with the best prices and also closest to the house. It also has the best hours for me — 8:30am to 12:30pm for half-day preschool. Some of the other schools wanted me to have her there at 7am! She isn’t even awake that early. This morning she had just woken up at 7:45 when I went in to get her. Normally she wakes up around 8am and then needs a good twenty minutes to wake up all the way. I really didn’t want to have to get her up at 6:15am to have her at school at 7am. That’s just too early.
The house is so silent without her around. There’s no one coming in to the bathroom while I’m trying to do my business. There’s no one yelling “MOMMY!” to help her snap her pants back up after she goes to the bathroom. There’s no one tormenting the dog and chasing him around the house.
It’s so weird!
I’m sure I’ll get used to it quickly, though.
What a weekend!! Newport had its Winter Festival starting on the 16th and running all the way to yesterday. We found out about it from the folks at the jewelry store where I had Grace’s bracelet fixed, and I was so glad they mentioned it! I had intended on doing some things the first weekend and taking in more events during the week, but time just slipped away from me. I called Angela to see if she would come down and take in some mansion tours with me, and she was all over that.
Saturday morning Angela arrived, and we headed off to Newport. The tour we were the most interested in was at the Astors’ Beechwood Mansion. It’s a living history museum, and the folks giving the tour believe the year is 1891, and that you’re there to apply for a summer position at the mansion as a servant. It was really a lot of fun; Angela and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But it’s mind-boggling to think that these mansions were private homes, that people actually lived there the same way I live in my own house. Yet these mansions were also simply “summer cottages” for the very rich. Their full-time residences were even more lavish, which is extremely hard to wrap one’s brain around.
After we took in the Beechwood, we went next door to the Marble House, built by William K. Vanderbilt for his wife Alva between 1888 and 1892. There are just no words for this mansion. The exterior is completely of marble, and most of the interior is of marble as well. The opulence blows your mind away. The Grand Salon, the first room on the self-guided tour, was designed to remind the visitor of Versailles. The entire room is covered in 22K gold leaf, from floor to ceiling. And it’s not a small room, either! The next room you enter is the Gothic Room, which really feels as though you’ve been miraculously spirited off to a European cathedral from the Middle Ages. Again, a hugely staggering room.
I would have taken photos to share with you folks, but they didn’t let me.
On Sunday, Kurt and I continued with the Newport Winter Festival festivities by going on the Newport Tourist Railroad ride. It was pretty neat to take a ride on an old train; the cars date back to the turn of the 20th century, and they’re heated by a coal stove. However, the tour took us right on to the Navy base and along roads we use every day. Plus it wasn’t very scenic; most of what you could see from the train was very industrial. We even went right past a former toxic waste dump that had been cleaned up, but was still incredibly dangerous for humans to be around. Experts believe it will be another hundred years before the land can be used again.
Our next stop was Touro Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in the US. Again, I wasn’t allowed to take photos, as it is a working place of worship and not a museum, but it was so lovely to see. I also learned there that Rhode Island was founded with the idea of religious freedom. We like to remember the Pilgrims coming over from England because of religious persecution, but the tolerance level in the colonies wasn’t the same for all groups. The Jews had settled in New Amsterdam (now New York City) during the colonial era, but they were encouraged to leave as soon as they could find a new home, so they came to Rhode Island. They were finally able to build their own house of worship, a large synagogue that they didn’t have to hide from the authorities. They could live as Jews and not be persecuted. What a relief that must have been for them!
We decided to walk up to the Jewish cemetery, but were waylaid by a completely random man who was plugging the Redwood Library. I swear, I attract oddballs. The Redwood Library is the oldest continuously used library, and is still a subscription library (ie, it’s not public; you pay a membership fee to use it). It’s absolutely lovely from the outside, and the inside is equally gorgeous. We decided to visit it after Mr Oddball informed us they were having a book sale. Cheap books! How do you resist?
We kept on walking all around Newport. We saw the Old Stone Mill in Touro Park and headed back down towards the water to find the car. We spent the entire day outside walking, and it felt so good! The weather was perfect — mid 40s and loads of sunshine. I took tons of photos over the weekend; if you’re interested, please click HERE.
And now back to enjoying my nice, eerily silent house!