Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 11-21-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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Page 34 of 47

VALLEY BREEZE LIVING EDITION | NOVEMBER 21-27, 2019 AT HOME 11 as darkness fell every night, not want- ing to see the day end. Those of you who know Elaine, proprietor of Elaine's Flowers and the Country Mouse in North Smithfield, won't be surprised to hear that the place was not only cozy, but deco- rated with all kinds of hand-crafted items, not the least of which were painted birdhouses nestled up into the eaves of the porch. It was homey, wel- coming, and restful. It was just what the doctor ordered. About halfway through the week as I sat there contentedly taking it all in, a thought suddenly occurred to me. "You know, we could do this at my house. We'd have the whole place to ourselves, we wouldn't have to drive across the bridge, and we'd have the porch, too." Brilliant idea! A few weeks later we did it. I had bought a bagful of small unpainted birdhouses. I spread a plastic cloth across two small tables and we spent one whole afternoon contentedly painting birdhouses of every color and design and then tucked them into the eaves of my own screened-in porch. Someone commented that we looked like an adult day care, and we laughed because it was true, but it was fun. I dubbed the porch Cape Cumberland. Elaine even painted a sign with the words "Cape Cumberland" on it as a surprise. It hangs over the windows, facing you as you walk out there. At some point not long after that I referred to us as the Porch People. Both names stuck, as did the idea of regular get-away weekends. Porch People weekends have become a treasured time, eagerly anticipated and fully enjoyed, although happening less frequently now than initially planned as time marched on and lives changed as they must. Martin Luther King Jr. weekend has remained a staple, and we try to squeeze in at least one other getaway per year when we can. We laugh at ourselves because we are so predictable, and every one of our weekends pretty much goes along the same lines no matter what may have been planned at the outset. We gather late on Friday afternoon and head right out to eat, usually at Ye Olde English when we meet here, but at Barbara's place in Somerset, Mass., where we last met and will meet again, and this time, it was at the Venus de Milo Restaurant where we shared a pile of lobsters and some decadent desserts. Then we all go back to the house, change into our pajamas, and pretty much veg out until the party breaks up after brunch on Sunday. I have a series of photos taken on a three-day holiday weekend a few years ago. On Saturday morning, everyone is sitting around one end of the living room. Sunday morning, same people sitting in the same places. Monday morning, same thing again, everyone looking contented, everyone in their same places. On a different weekend when we had planned to make quilts, I took a picture of the dining room once everyone had arrived. It was piled high with sewing machines (four of them, I think), a stack of fabrics, a bolt of batting, boxes of thread (most notably Kelly's collection of at least 100 spools of different colors), and a gigantic cutting table. A follow-up photo taken as people prepared to leave showed everything in the very same place, untouched. Oh well, so much for plans. This time around Barbara has again graciously invited us to Somerset, where the house is bigger and beds are more plentiful. The meeting place may have changed, but the excite- ment and level of anticipation remain the same. We will kick back, relax, and comment as we so often do on how good it is to be us. There will be cheese, and wine, love and laughter, and memories that will grow more precious as we continue to age and our times together become less certain. Rhea Bouchard Powers is a writer from Cumberland. Here is a photo taken at our first Porch People Weekend in 2011. We had actually made it into a postcard to send after someone facetiously asked us to send a post- card from our getaway. Pictured from left, are KATHY, JOAN, RHEA, BARBARA, BEV and KELLY. Unbeknownst to me as the photo was being taken, I was standing on an anthill and tiny red ants were swarming up my legs right to the knees. RHEA From Page One always told me I met her when I was about 8 years of age," but he has no memory of that. His grandmother on his dad's side, Josephine, is where he gets the Portuguese roots and reci- pes from. Her mincemeat squares were his favorite. Since chourico is a Portuguese mainstay, Patrick adds it to his turkey stuff- ing while still maintaining the New England traditions. "And do not forget the Bell's (poultry seasoning)!" he said. Having cooked turkey every which possible way – fried, baked, roasted, brined and spachcocked (removing the backbone and laying the bird flat to cook) – and hav- ing spent as much as $100 for a purely farm-raised bird, this year he's back to Butterball. "They brine it, they cost much less and as far as I'm concerned are every bit as good," Patrick added. At this point it's just a matter of injecting the right spices and not over- cooking it. One thing he did learn from all that outlying farm shopping was this theory: "The further out and away from urban centers you go, the nicer people seem to be." It is his own theory – that and duck eggs are better to cook with. The best part of Thanksgiving is catching up with family and friends and sharing some gratitude. "Once they're gorged they are not going anywhere," he said, laughing. "And after about an hour, a cup of strong coffee with some Frangelico will keep them there." On the day after Thanksgiving, Patrick likes to take some leftover chou- rico stuffing and form it into a patty. "I add a poached egg on top of it and some hollandaise sauce, mmmm that's the best," he said. And his other bit of advice: "As long as you have gravy everything will be fine." Rhonda's Note: I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving from my heart to yours. We all have something to be grateful for and something extra special to share, even if it's a simple smile. Oh, and don't forget to make your guests "check" their cellphones at the door for the holiday! STUFFING From Page 4 Do you like to read The Valley Breeze? Then please shop with our advertisers, and tell them 'I saw it in The Breeze!'

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