Sunday, August 24, 2008

George Washington Management Area

A hike was on the agenda for the afternoon and we wanted one that wasn’t too far from home, so we chose the Walkabout Trail in the George Washington Management area in Chepachet.

The first thing we noticed was that it was noisy. This is also a campground and there are two ponds, which people were taking advantage of, because it was a beautiful, warm summer day. It actually wasn’t until we were halfway through the short 2-mile blue trail that we heard nothing but our footsteps. One of the things Melissa and I enjoy so much about hiking is the sense of peace, so in that respect I feel like we missed out. I imagine that if we had planned for a longer hike and hit the 8 mile orange trail, it may have been more enjoyable. I also think that in the fall it may be quieter.

That being said, the trail had lots of rocks and fallen trees, which added some interest, and there was a bit of elevation in spots. It wasn’t difficult by any means, but you certainly had to watch your step. The woods were lush and green with lots of wild mushrooms and vegetation.

I haven’t given up on this spot, but I think that next time we may check out the Angell Loop, where there is an historic Indian gravesite. We would also plan for a longer hike.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I Was an Extra on "Brotherhood" Yesterday!

About 5 months ago I Googled “Rhode Island casting companies” and up popped LDI Casting which handles casting for the Showtime series Brotherhood along with many other movies, commercials and extra work in Rhode Island. I was intrigued by the possibility of doing something like that so I registered. I input my physical stats and uploaded a headshot. I never really thought I’d hear from anyone because I’m not a professional actor. Two days ago, to my surprise, I received a call about some background work for Brotherhood, which is shooting locally until late October.

I wasn’t totally sure what my role would be even after I received the email with my call time. I was told I would be “Land Worker #14” and I was to bring my work boots. Once I arrived at the crew facility, I quickly realized that I was in a different world. We were finally told what we’d be wearing and it wasn’t looking good because it was very hot and very humid. I had to don a full Hazmat Suit complete with facemask, hardhat, goggles and thick rubber gloves. Apparently our group of extras was going to be cleaning up a mock mercury spill in Providence Harbor. Man it was hot... have I said that yet?

Once we finished with fittings we were led to a place they call “holding”, which feels like a holding pen for cattle. In came the call, time to head to the set. Now I’m really getting excited. We loaded into a van and headed over to our set, which was along the East Providence Bike Path right next to the Squantum Club. It was amazing seeing the inner workings of Hollywood production. Ethan Embry and Jack McGee were the two actors in our scene. Unfortunately, Jason Isaacs, who plays Michael Caffee was not there. As we stood by during rehearsal it became more apparent that we’d be out on the rocks down by the water.

If you’ve ever seen the movie E.T., you can get a good idea of what we looked like in our Hazmat Suits. As I walked by Ethan Embry, I asked him if he wanted to switch roles and he asked me if I meant just for today, or for the rest of the shoot? It was really nice to have a little interaction with him. He seemed really cool.

The extras director put all of us into place and gave us a little direction as to what we should be doing. I was up on a cliff overlooking the “spill”. It was a little slippery but I was glad to be up there because of the very mild breeze. The shoot went very smoothly and we really only had to do about 10 takes, but in the suit if felt like 10 hours. We finished up and immediately headed back to craft services to have lunch and cool down. Some of the guys started to succumb to the heat. A big guy wrapped in plastic is a bad combination.

Lunch was awesome and everything I expected. I took my time eating and made sure I was one of the last people to finish so I could soak up the experience. As I headed out to the lot I made my way by the actors’ trailers and I came across Jack McGee. I stopped and told him how much I like his work on Rescue Me. Jack was great. He asked my name and thanked me for being part of the production. He has a new fan in me.

I’m so happy to have been lucky enough to have done this and I hope to do more extra work in the future. Make sure to look for me when you watch the Brotherhood. I’ll be the guy in the yellow suit.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Scituate Farmer's Market

As I was writing my Rhode Island Weekend Fun post for my real estate blog yesterday, I realized I had never been to the Scituate Farmer's Market. So off we went this morning. It runs from 9-12 and I had an open house at 12, so we wanted to get there as soon as it opened. I'm glad we got there early, because we got lots of good produce and goodies, and were able to take some time to talk to the vendors and farmers. It turned out to be a popular spot, with lots of regular visitors.

Our first stop was where we met Linda Couture of Butterfly Meadows. She offered samples of her homemade sauces and syrups, which I can tell you are amazing. She makes a Honey, Lemon and Lavender Syrup that is out of this world. We also picked up a Peach Chipotle Sauce that has just the right amount of smokiness balanced by sweet peach puree. Delicious.

I was starving when we arrived which was a mistake because all I wanted to do was eat everything. I decided on an Organic Zucchini and Onion Quiche. It was fantastic and I really loved that it was made with free range chicken eggs and organic vegetables. Melissa had a scrumptuous Blueberry Scone. Next time we go we'll be sure to take a little more time to speak with the owner about her products.

Next up was a pitstop at the Wildtree stand, were we met Donna. She gave us the background of Wildtree and all of the products. I can tell you I came home and used the Dill Dip Blend on my lunch and it was fantastic. It's a great blend of dill, sea salt, onion and pepper. Simple, yet so complex in flavor. I loved it.

Fresh flowers stood out as soon as we got out of the car and now we made our way over to Gayle's stand. Bright, beautiful, fragrant and fresh these flowers are directly from her backyard and all I can say is, she's got great soil. Melissa's going to bring them into her office this week to show off our find. We'll be sure to keep close tabs on Gayle's flowers thoughout the remainder of the season because we can't wait to see what she'll have next.

We then moved down to the next stand which was run by a man by the name of Alfred. He's a retiree whose home gardens provide enough fruits and vegetables to overflow his tables. We grabbed a bag each of the doughnut peaches and shiro plums. Get up there and buy them as soon as possible because they're worth the trip. Alfred appeared to really enjoy everything about being at the farmers market and particularly, offering his produce - from his yard - grown by him. To me that's the essence of localism.

Over to the White Oak Farm table where we met Roger. He had a bounty of fresh vegetables and we snatched up a Sicilian Eggplant. I find that most farmers who come to these markets always bring their best produce, which is good for us.

Right next to Roger was a young pottery artist by the name of Nidal. His pottery is colorful and imaginative and of course we bought a piece.

As we continued on we discovered Dan Tortorella and his delicious pestos. We bought the Olive Pesto but next time it'll be the Tomato Pesto for me. Dan's pestos had many levels of flavor, which I love, and he sells heads of garlic the size of baseballs. Man that's a wonderful thing this time of year. I've been pushing Melissa to make her gravy and this garlic would be perfect.

If you like salsa, then Howards Corners salsas and chilis are right up your alley. We met owners Kim and Fred and even though Kim was a 49er's fan, I still really like her goods. It's lucky for them that Fred was into the Pats or I would have kept walking! I consider myself to have a pretty good palette when it comes to food and I have the waistline to prove it. This salsa was more flavorful and chunky. The Carrot Pepper Salsa, which I bought, had a hint of sweetness with a nice crunch. I couldn't help myself and I scooped up some of their BBQ Chili as well. All I can say is football season is on the way and after talking football with Kim and Fred, all I could think about was gameday food.

Perhaps Melissa's favorite stop was Tim and Meghan's table. Melissa has been vegetarian for more than a year now so when she saw the vegan sign she fell a little bit in love. Cupcakes, cookies, brownies, pancake mix and hummus are just a few of the wonderful vegan offerings made by Tim and Meghan. We picked up some of their spinach hummus, but I'm sure she'll be going back to learn more about everything they make.

Finally we came upon Hopkins Farms. Tables full of all sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables ruled, and off to the side we found the pickled items, along with the different jams, jellies and relishes. It's going to take a long time for us to try everything, but I'm sure we'll try. We met Kathy from Hopkins, who told us a little bit about the farm itself. Also present was farm owner, Robert Hopkins. He sure knows how to grow things because he had the most produce of anyone at the market.

The story of the day was the amazing bounty that can be had in Rhode Island. I'm full of pride when I see so many people come together from all walks of life with one common interest aside from making money. Because let's face it, you're not going to make millions at a farmers market. One common thread binds them all; they love what they do. I'm happy to say we've found our new farmer's market and I'm looking forward to our next trip.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Roger Williams Park Zoo: More Than You Think!

Melissa and I were out doing something fun this past weekend. So many of our adventures start with waking up early and seeing something on TV that looks like it may be fun, and this past Sunday was no different. We headed out to Roger Williams Park Zoo - not only for the incredible display of animals but also for the newest exhibit, Flutterby. This is an unbelievable gathering of colorful butterflies all housed in a large building that resembles a greenhouse.

Flutterby is the newest incarnation of special attractions that RWPZ is putting on this summer. If you’ve ever been to the Zoo for the Dinosaur exhibit then you’ll know exactly how spectacular the Zoo staff can make things look. We must have taken 75 or so pictures just in the butterfly exhibit. I never realized that I’d enjoy myself as much as I did. You’re totally immersed in the world of these butterflies. I even managed to save a Buckeye Butterfly that was stuck to the exhaust vent from a certain doom. As amazing as the pictures are, being there in person is even more amazing.

The main portion of the Zoo has been under a $35 million dollar upgrade over several years. Go to to find out about all of the incredible upgrades they’ll be making. Some of the most significant changes will be the new world-class polar bear exhibit that will be nine times bigger than the old one. Personally I can’t wait to see how this turns out. They’ve put a pair of bald eagles in the area where the polar bear exhibit used to be housed. According to a Zoo employee, the eagles were rescued after being found in the wild with injuries that left them unable to fly.

Another huge change is the elephant paddock that is under a total transformation. The concept behind all of the renovations is to bring the animals and the visitors closer together. It’s going to be amazing and we’ve already seen examples of how they execute this with the giraffes. The giraffes just happen to be Melissa’s favorite so we always spend a little extra time there. You really get up close and personal with them while they eat. The big three would be giraffes, elephants and surprisingly camels. But I think once the polar bears come back she’ll fall in love with them too. I think anyone within 50 miles should make it a point to get to Roger Williams Park Zoo this summer and more so once they finish all of the exhibits. Now through September 1st.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Rhode Island Blood Center and The Tomorrow Fund Annual Celebration

Awareness Ribbons Customized - I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Rhode Island Blood Center and The Tomorrow Fund's Annual Celebration of life on July 30th. It was a gathering of donors, recipients and staff from both organizations in a show of appreciation for all of the hard work and dedication that everyone puts into fighting numerous medical issues that children with cancer face every day. The event was held at the Rhode Island Blood Center's Providence location.

We heard from many speakers who shared their stories of how being a part of this wonderful cause has affected their lives. Barbara Morse Silva from Channel 10 and Heather from the Jones and Heather in The Morning show on LiteRock 105 spoke about their experiences with The Tomorrow Fund and curing childhood cancer. We also heard from 15-year donor Tony Deller who shared a story of how and why he started donating and how it’s made such a huge difference in his life.

The most touching moment of the day came when Carlene Lawrence spoke about her 3 year old daughter, Autumn, who was diagnosed with Leukemia when she was only 2. I’m not afraid to admit that I was very choked up when she told the story of how Autumn fought off Leukemia and then had to take on another battle with another form of cancer that required extensive chemotherapy. I looked around the room and many people were wiping their eyes. Carlene is happy to report that Autumn is doing very well and appears to have the cancer on the run.

While she was being treated for Leukemia, Autumn received dozens and dozens of pints of blood, platelets and plasma. This is where all of the generosity of the donors comes in. Our simple donations - whether they are a quick whole blood donation or a two-hour long pheresis donation, make all the difference in the lives of so many people that we never even see or meet. I’m very proud of the fact that I am a long time monthly donor of platelets and I look forward to helping in any way I can for the rest of my life.