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Chuck And Denise Visit 04/25/19

Pictures coming soon!

My son Chuck and his wife Denise arrived late Thursday afternoon 04/25/19 for what would be a wonderful 4 day visit.

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They had caught a late morning flight out of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport into Boston Logan to miss all of the craziness of commuter traffic. Sue and I had been sitting outside with Beau as the sun was out, and it was just a really beautiful day. But because it started to cool off, we retreated back into the house a little before they pulled into the driveway.

Of course, The Beau Dog, Protector of The Realm, Guardian of The Wood, and Associate Director of Guest Greeting, went totally berserk. It was so nice to meet Chuck for the first time, vying for hugs between holding back "The Dog", and trying to say hello over all of Beau's barking. Terrific. Just terrific. But we had warned them that it would be several minutes of chaos until he had satisfied himself that aliens had not, in fact, come to take him away, and that he would then, like a chameleon, just sort of blend quietly back into the fabric of the ether around us. And he did.

A little after 5:00 pm, I opened a bottle of Valpolicella for us to share. I had picked this wine for tonight as it was one of my brother Alan's favorites, and tonight would not only be a celebration of Chuck and I, but also of Alan's life. With our glasses raised high, we toasted Alan's life as I played the video of his life that Mary Liz had created for the gathering after his funeral celebration at Pappas. It was a lovely evening getting to know each other, and just being together. But I soon realized that not only did I need to open another bottle of Valpolicella, but Sue and I had to get moving with dinner prep work.

While Sue prepared the sage butter sauce, and got several handfuls of Black Trumpet mushrooms ready that she had picked last Fall, I got the water going for the butternut squash ravioli that she'd be mixing with the sauce and mushrooms. She served it all up with some garlic bread I toasted on the stove.

After dinner, we just sat in the living room, talking and experiencing the connection that Chuck and I had as the fire in the wood stove warmed the room. For desert, Sue had made a spectacular cherry crisp that she served with vanilla bean ice cream. It was just after midnight when we called it a night. Fortunately, Chuck and Denise only had about a 12 minute drive to a local hotel where they had decided to stay. Chuck was concerned about a possible allergy to dog hair and didn't want to be sneezing, and coughing during his visit.

Friday morning 04/26/19 Chuck and Denise were back to the house, lulled inside by the short, but thrilling, cacophony of sounds of excitement from The Beau Dog. Sue had fresh baked maple syrup muffins, with yogurt and mixed fruit onto the table in no time, and we had a lovely chat as we ate and sipped coffee. We all spent a couple of hours going through several of the picture albums that I had pulled out for Chuck to see. He took dozens of shots of them from his camera phone.

Sue had made up a batch of cannelloni bean, baby spinach, and sweet Italian chicken sausage soup with bakery rolls for lunch that we all throughly enjoyed, again lounging around the table and having a wonderful time just talking. Mid afternoon, we all bundled up for the chill, and light drizzle and headed off to take Beau for a walk in the woods.

We headed out for Marissa and Gary's house around 5:30 pm. She had invited everyone over for pizza and beer, and Colin had said he could make it by 6:30. And Mia was more than cute. The first thing she did was grab "Uncle Chuck's" hand, and drag him up to see her room. Fortunately, Chuck and Denise took their car over as they ended up staying until after midnight. Sue and I left around 9:00 pm so that they could all just relax and get to know each other.

Saturday morning 04/27/19, Chuck and Denise arrived at the house around 9:30 am to the soothing sounds of Beau doing his Linda Blair interpretation. After having a terrific breakfast of farm fresh eggs cooked over a bed of Swiss Chard, Sue and Denise headed out to take Beau for a walk in the woods. Chuck and I hung out, and just chatted in the library over coffee.

We all jumped into my car just after noon, and drove up to Wolfeboro, NH. After grabbing lunch at the Wolfe's Tavern, we walked around the public dock area, and along North Main Street where all the shops are. Chuck and Denise got their kids some gifts at Black's, and then we headed over to our favorite book store, The Country Bookseller. As time was getting on to mid afternoon, we did a quick, but really fun, stop at Orazio’s Gourmet Olive Oils and Balsamic Vinegars. We had just used up a bottle of their rosemary infused oil, and wanted to try another flavor, as did Denise.

Because the air was getting really chilly, I got a fire going in the wood stove as we settled into the living room to chat over a bottle of the evening's wine selection, Edna Valley Sauvignon Blanc. I had chosen a Sauvignon Blanc because it would pair nicely with the dinner I was fixing: Sesame Garlic Shrimp served over a bed of herb infused brown rice with a side of butter sautéed baby asparagus, scallions, and roasted red peppers in a sage and thyme sherry reduction. While we sat chatting in the living room before dinner, Sue brought out some great cottage cheese and shrimp sauce dip she had made that she served with some wonderful blue corn tortilla chips.

I was actually a little disappointed in the Edna Valley as it seemed to have just a little sharpness to it, and might have even been just on the thin side. Edna Valley has always been a good selection for us, but I won't be doing their Sauvignon Blanc again.... Regardless of all of that, I think the Sesame Garlic Shrimp came out the best I've done; lots of nice, distinguishable spices came right through. And Sue really followed those flavor profiles through with her desert of lemon ricotta with mixed berries. Just a great, soothing taste to follow the spice flavors of the shrimp.

To compensate for the wine, which ended up smoothing out a little by the end of the second bottle - or maybe that was us smoothing out - we all had a small glass of Limoncello, which neither Chuck or Denise had before, so that was a real treat. Though still so much to talk about, Chuck and Denise headed off to their hotel after midnight with the goal to try to get back to the house around 9:30 am the next morning.

Sunday morning broke clear and sunny, and so Chuck and Denise had a wonderful view of the mountains as they came up across the ridge to the house. Sue fixed up a batch of some kind of corn batter pancakes that we had with original New Hampshire Maple Syrup, quite different than anything Chuck or Denise had experienced. They were great, really hitting the spot. Then, while Sue and Denise took Beau for a hike up Pine Mountain in Alton, NH, Chuck and I had some really good discussions in the living room while sipping our coffee.

For lunch, Sue made grilled cheese and more of the soup. I brought over several more albums of pictures that we all went though, telling stories about many of them as we paged through the books. We piled into Chuck's car at 6:00 pm and drove up to The Lodge At Smith Point in West Alton, NH for dinner. What a beautiful drive that is, up along the southwest shore of the Lake Winnipesaukee Alton Bay area.

Sue and I had gone to dinner at The Lodge At Smith Point on 03/28/19 celebrating learning about Chuck on 03/24/19. Amazingly, today was 04/28/19, exactly 1 month later!

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Sue and me at dinner at The Lodge At Smith Point on 03/28/19 celebrating learning about Chuck.

To commemorate our current visit, our server, David, was nice enough to take the following picture of the 4 of us.

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The 4 of us at dinner at The Lodge At Smith Point on 04/28/19.

The crew at The Lodge At Smith Point is so great. When we walked in the door, Jason, who had been so nice to us when we had been there before, came right up to us and thanked me for my review on Yelp! After dinner, I invited Jason over to the table to tell him the whole story, and to introduce him to Chuck. It was nice to see his really happy reaction to my sharing this with him. And on the way out, we had a nice chat with the owner, Mark Poirier.

I just had to have the Pan Seared Scallops again, and it was as good as it was the first time I had it. Sue tried the Grilled Pork Tenderloin, and I snatched a couple of bites of it. I have to go back just to order that as it was just fantastic. We just had a wonderful time sitting around the table for a couple of hours enjoying a couple of bottles of Edmeades Zinfandel, the food, and most of all the conversations that continued on after we got back to the house.

For breakfast Monday morning Sue made a really tasty quiche, and then she and Denise headed off to take Beau for a quick walk. Chuck and I tried to cover as much final discussions as we could as they would be heading for the airport around 2:00 pm. After the crew got back with Beau, Sue made up some great sandwiches of turkey, sliced cheese, lettuce, fresh garden tomato, and avocado. And then, all too soon, it was time for Chuck and Denise to head out. We were already missing them as they pulled out of the driveway. But we have wonderful memories of their visit, and will see them again soon, for sure!



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