Yes, bit of a gap in entries here... I was just so busy with work for the past week that I had no time to update this site.
Despite being busy, I did manage to spend a very pleasant day with Nancy and her mother last weekend, taking a winery tour and then having dinner out. I spent Saturday morning with my laptop and a pile of manuals on the dining room table, but then put everything away at lunchtime. There are five wineries in Rhode Island; most of them started in recent years, but Sakonnet Vineyards dates its origin back to the 1970's, making it the oldest winery in New England (that's New England outside of New York State, of course).
Narragansett Bay is probably the major geographical feature in Rhode Island. Look at a map of the northeastern part of the United States and might appear as if Narragansett Bay is the entire eastern part of the state, with the bay separating Rhode Island and Massachusetts, but if you were to look more closely you would see that actually the eastern shore of the bay is also part of Rhode Island, a narrow strip of land keeping Massachusetts away from the bay. Sakonnet Vineyards lies on that narrow strip of land in the Town of Tiverton.
Nancy is not fond of high bridges, so instead of driving across the bay (a total of three bridges, two of them very long), we went up through Providence to I-195 and thence to Fall River (yes, driving through Massachusetts to get to another part of Rhode Island) to route 24 back into R.I., and then along the coast on route 77... Sakonnet winery is in Little Compton, just three miles past Tiverton Four Corners. Yes, it is as rural as it sounds, but this is somewhat upscale touristy rural, New England coastal communities with lots of marinas, etc.
The winery tour consisted of a short film (perhaps fifteen minutes) showing the winery during the four seasons (pruning the vines, picking the grapes, etc.) and then we were shown through the winery, lots of big steel vats, a room full of oak barrels, etc.... and then the good part -- *grin* -- the tasting. Sakonnet charges three dollars (but you get to keep the glass) to choose any five wines out of a list of perhaps nine or ten (but actually they were more than happy to let you taste another one or two if you asked). This was actually very educational for me because I only knew Sakonnet for a few of their wines (their America's Cup Red, their Eye of the Storm, etc.) which are okay table wines, but they also have some quite nice estate wines (i.e., grown, produced and bottled there, as opposed to being made from grapes brought in from outside, including other states). It was interesting to compare their vidal blanc with their fume vidal, both made from the same grapes, but the fume vidal is aged in oak barrels. Nancy and I both liked the fume vidal and I bought three bottles. I'm not a fan of sweet wines, but Nancy liked their serius, and after tasting it I agreed that it might be pleasant to sip a glass after dinner, perhaps with fruit and cheese or cookies... so I bought two bottles of that. (I also got a bottle of America's Cup Red -- my mother-in-law's favorite -- which we gave to her upon returning to her house.) When these bottles are gone, I will have to make a point of asking my local package store to get me some more...or I suppose I could order them from the winery webpage (or, actually, they're probably only a twenty minute drive from my office).
Sometime we'd like to visit the other wineries in Rhode Island. When we lived in upstate New York we were only an hour or so drive from the Finger Lakes region, home to countless wineries, but somehow we only toured Bully Hill Vineyards (owned by the late Walter Taylor, a fourth generation wine producer and a fascinating character). Many years ago I toured Brotherhood Winery in the Hudson Valley, the oldest (1839) winery in America.
Yes, we do drink a lot of wine. Uh, maybe I had better rephrase that. We usually have a glass or two of wine with dinner -- not just special occasions, but on a nightly basis. Thus, we probably consume more wine than the average person... the average American, I guess we're more like average French or Italian families in that. Hey, they do say that a daily glass of wine (some say any wine, others say red wine) is actually good for your heart. We aren't just wine drinkers. Sometimes we will have a beer intead. Let's face it, beer just plain goes better with some meals... like, for example, fish and chips. I usually have more than one kind of beer around -- I tend to prefer Guinness Stout and Nancy tends to prefer Bass Ale, although we both can enjoy either of those beverages, and we both like to try different beers. (You can probably guess that this is not a household that drinks Budwater.)
We did take the shorter route back home -- Nancy closed her eyes and gritted her teeth -- over the bridges. Once on the western side of the bay we phoned home to see if the kids wanted to join us for dinner. Getting no answer at home, we called Jennifer's cell phone -- she was in her car approaching the Emerald Square Mall in Massachusetts and Sean was with her. That left them on their own for dinner, so Nancy and her mother and I went to the Mews Tavern in Wakefield for dinner (the Mews brags about having sixty-nine different beers -- plus they have a tequilla menu, a scotch menu, a coffee menu, etc. -- and they have some tasty food as well).
And that was my last bit of relaxation. That night I was reading technical stuff. Sunday I went to work around eight in the morning and didn't leave until almost five... and then I was working at home that night. Monday I was at work by eight a.m., taught a class all day, and then was working on creating new hands-on lab exercises and writing and testing instructions for those exercises until around ten-thirty that night. Tuesday also found me reaching work a bit past eight and working past eight-thirty that night. Wednesday also saw me working from eight in the morning until around eight-thirty at night. (All three nights were without taking time to eat dinner until I reached home.) Yesterday also began with me getting to work around eight, beginning class at nine, pushing through without a lunch break so we finished around one-thirty -- except for one student who stayed working on stuff until around three o'clock. I left work around three-thirty, but did a few things at home later on.
Today I'm working from home -- started around six a.m. -- stopped to take lunch break around noon except I've ended up writing this instead of eating -- but my plan is to only put in eight hours or so today and not to do any work-related stuff all weekend.