Saturday, July 17, 2010

Vacation: Day Two

Afternoon nap time ... shhh. Joan and John are resting, and now that Francoise and I have walked back from the variety store, we will rest in the cool house as well. Before telling about today's first and second adventures, I'll briefly elaborate on the third, the variety store. It's a small-town five-and-dime store from the fifties where you expect to see Opie checking out Super Soakers in the toy aisle, Aunt Bea buying all her canning supplies, Andy loading up on file folders and markers for the sheriff's office, Barney buying Thelma Lou silk flowers, and Goober tinkering with wrenches in the automotive aisle. You could buy just about any kind of candy, a gift or card for just about anyone, just about anything for your house or car or hobbies. You could even furnish your doll house there. Oh, and then we walked to the movie theater to see Pollyanna. Just kidding. But it was nice to remember what one did before Walmart.

Occoquan, day two's first adventure, is a historic (1736) mill town along the Occoquan River less than an
hour's drive from here. Francoise and I first hit their farmers market and loaded up on apricots, yellow and white peaches (grown in Pennsylvania), and lots of green beans. We put them in the cooler in the trunk with good hope they would be okay in the blistering heat while we explored the town. Numerous homogeneous gift shops later, we were laughing about how we would return to our car to find cooked fruit and vegetables.
The Occoquan Museum was one small room, the old mill's office, with a few showcases and lots of brown things hanging on the walls. The docent explained that the townspeople basically thought of him as their attic. When they couldn't bear to part with some old thing in their house, like a stuffed fox, they donated it to the museum. Most of his artifacts, however, came from a dredging of the river some years ago. I was most interested in a late 1800s tombstone of a 54-year-old nameless man, who was killed by some evil deed. The docent told me the man's story. He was a Union soldier who had fallen in love with a woman when he had been stationed near Occoquan. After the war, he returned to his home in the north, but eventually came back to his true love, who had unfortunately, by that time, married another man and had a family. The man hired a local stone cutter to carve his tombstone with the mysterious "evil deed" wording, and then he blew his brains out. He was buried in Occoquan, but eventually, the farmer whose land the tombstone was on got tired of plowing around the tombstone and threw it in the river.

upon the Cock and Bowl "beerstro" was a fabulous find. In this Belgian cafe, Francoise and I reprised our 2006 harborside meal in Cassis when she had moules frites and I had salade nicoise avec frites. My honey mustard dressing was the best ever. I loved dipping my frites in the homemade mayonnaise. There was too much mustard in the mayo for Francoise's tastes, but I felt inspired to try to make my own mayo when I get home. The proprietor explained he and his wife were Francophiles who had dreamed of opening a restaurant celebrating French food ~ when they discovered and fell in love with Belgian beers.
Day two's adventure two was visiting Joan's studio at the Workhouse, a former prison, now alive with dance, painting, ceramics, sculpture, and other arts. The gallery in her building showcased a breathtakingly beautiful blue and white ceramic octopus and whimsical ceramic cat on a motorcycle. And of course, Joan's ceramic creations impressed us as well. In Joan's studio, Francoise and I simultaneously reached for the same aqua mug with shiny cobalt interior. Then she decided to buy earrings instead, so I will be able to buy that mug. Joan explained some different types of firing and showed us the glaze "kitchen," where they mix glazes. Buckets of glazes lined the walls.

Somehow our produce from the morning farmers market made it home still slightly cool.

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