Monday, 20 August 2012

The Watervliet Shakers and visit with Mom

This past weekend, well Friday and Saturday most specifically my mom came to visit me knowing that I had planned to visit my father's grave in Vermont, it being the 7 year anniversary of his passing.  We had a nice trip to Woodford, Vermont where my dad is buried atop Woodford mountain.  Every year I have gone to visit his grave site the weather has been absolutely beautiful.  I brought my dad 5 red roses and 1 white rose, as I do every year at this time.  The 5 red roses symbolize the living members of our family and the white rose symbalizes my father his spirit and our rememberance of him. I took a picture this year because I am not sure if I can afford to bring roses every year and on the chance that I can not, I will at least have the picture to remember the sentiment by. 

While in Vermont we also visited my grandmother(my father's mother) who is now just recently turned 97 years old  and living in a nursing home down from Woodford mountain in Bennington, Vermont.  We only had a short visit with her, maybe 15-20 minutes as she was not feeling particularly well and did not wish to go out to lunch or have us bring her any lunch.  It was very nice to see her for a bit, none the less, and give her a hug and a kiss.  We talked a bit about the family and how she is not entirely happy about being in the nursing home.  She also told us about the discovery of the Vermont charter which seems to indicate that very southern portions of Vermont are actually part of New Hampshire.  Don't expect any map changes any time soon though.  I told my grandmother (Mimi) that she should ask the government for back taxes after all these years of paying the wrong state's tax rate.  Wish us luck with that one! >.<

After our visit with Mimi, mom and I went to lunch in downtown Bennington.  I can not remember the name of the place we went to even though I have been there about 5 or so times now.  At any rate, I got a steak sandwhich with carmalized onions, cheese (which was supposed to be pepperjack but tasted like american to me), mayonaise, tomato and a "special sauce" on a garlic panini bread.  The toasted garlic panini bread was very good, but while I love cheese generally, it didn't seem to fit this sandwhich well and I think I'd have preferred it without the cheese, or with cheese that tasted more like what I thought was supposed to be on the sandwhich.  I also had steak fries and two 24 ounce glasses of their homemade rootbear, which was more like two 14 ounce glasses with all the ice in the glass.  I actually cannot remember what mom got. I know at first we were BOTH going to get the bleu cheese hamburger but changed our minds at the last moment.  On the whole the food was average.  I've had better there before.  The service was slow at first, and our waitress didn't really check on us.  My mom is beginning to think that I am a jinx because during her last two visits we have gone out to eat and gotten very poor service twice.  We left a typical 15% tip though and went on our way.  After lunch we went to a local bakery to pick up a White Chocolate Cake with Raspberry filling for Robert and Shirley, my oldest brother and his wife (mom lives an hour and a half west of me, but right next door to my brother his wife and his daughter).  They were all out of the cake that Robert and Shirley and seen when they were in Vermont the week before, and we were about to leave when they told us they were in the process of making one.  We decided to wait the 15 minutes it took to finish the one they were making.  Mom left me with a piece of the cake which is sitting in my refridgerator.  I plan on having it for dessert tonight. After we picked up the cake we put the car air conditioner on high and drove an hour west back to my apartment in New York. 

On day two of mom's visit I had originally planned to go and see the Tchiakovsky Ballet and Classical music Spectacular at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (known here as SPAC), but being I tried to get tickets so close to the event they had gone up in price.  The show was not set to start until 8 pm, meaning it would have ended around 11 pm or so and then taken about an hour to drive home from Saratoga.   I had to be up early on Sunday morning for work too, so mom and I decided to save a little cash and do something else on Saturday.  I had wanted to go to the Shaker Museum this year and it was part of my list of small adventures so I asked mom if she would like to go there with me.  She said she would be happy to.  So off we went to the Shaker Museum in what was once Watervliet, NY (now part of Albany, NY) right near the Albany International Airport (the name sounds big but really we're a relatively small airport).

We learned about how the Shakers were a Christian Religious group who came to the United States in 1774 in order to escape religious persecution in England.  They started a commune of sorts when the local Dutch settlers (the Van Rensselear's) of Albany rented them a parcel of land in Watervliet.  There they practiced their beliefs which were to live a life as close to Christ's purtiy as they could.  Some of their core beliefs included Confession of sins, celibacy, sexual and racial equality and common ownership of property.  As a society that did not believe in having sex at all, they relied on gaining members through recruitment.  Mother Ann Lee was the biggest and most influencial of the Shaker recruiters and Shaker movements were established west to Ohio, south to Maryland and north to Maine.  Somewhat sadly, but also understandably, the Shaker movement was difficult to sustain, though it thrived mostly in North Eastern portions of America during the term of Mother Ann Lee's successor during the 19th century.  Today the movement has almost entirely died out with only a couple of communities still in existance and membership down to maybe a dozen people all told.  None the less, their devotion to Christ's way of living, pacifism, and the fact that they put an emphesis on education and equality of the sexes at a time when these ideas were revolutionary, mark them as an influencial part of our history.  Here are some pictures from my visit. 

A picture of a Shaker community in Watervliet, New York,circa the early 20th century

What I believe are a Shaker loom for weaving fabrics and possibily something for making paper (I should have asked about these >.<)
A Shaker Robe or Cloak
A picture of Brother William (yes I'm talking about the cat), who we were told is the last remaing Watervliet member of the Shaker Society. 
The Watervliet Shaker Village Meeting Hall. Shaker style chairs hang alongside and sit under the windows. (This was the only original Shaker building we were allowed inside)
A Shaker Herb and Remedies Garden, with the Grist Mill in the background.
Two old looking wood chairs in front of the Shaker Creamery.
A picture of the stream that runs through the 370 some odd acre property,with the Creamery in the distance.
What I THINK we were told was a lecture hall?  Don't quote me on that though. >.<
Canadien Geese enjoying the Shaker's Apple Orchard.  If you visit, make sure you watch your step around this section of the property. Apparently apples are high in fiber, who knew?
The Tree of Life, symbol of the Shaker Community
Mother Ann Lee's grave marker in the Watervliet Shaker cemetary.  Some of the historical Shaker members were reburied here, as was the case with Ann Lee.  Most of the names on most of the headstones are too worn down to read. It was a small hike to get to the cemetary. 

After our visit to the Shaker Historical sight mom and I went to dinner at the Ripe Tomato in Malta, New York, near Saratoga Springs.  We were given an Italien Bread with olive oil and pieces of fresh garlic as a starter and ordered French Mussels,which were in a light garlicy sauce as an appetizer. Mom ordered what tasted very much like a raspberry martini to me, but I think it was called something else.  I decided to be daring and asked for what was indicated on the menu as "the bartender's choice", which ended up being a light chocolate/kahlua type martini that tasted quite good and was something I might not have ordinarily ordered.  For her main course mom got the pork shnitzel which was a breaded pork cutlet in a light lemon butter sauce.  It had red cabbage and potato pancakes on the side.  Even though the potato pancakes tasted more like mashed potatos to both mother and myself when I tried a taste. For my main course I ordered the Penne ala Vodka with Chicken and Broccoli.  Penne ala Vodka is a Penne Pasta with a pink colored vodka sauce that is mostly tomato based. I have enjoyed it ever since I first tried it about 15 years ago, but do not have it often.  My mom asked that we be moved when we were first seated in spot where the waiters were coming in and out of constantly and the air conditioning was blowing on her.  Ultimately we were put on the porch where we enjoyed a much quieter atmosphere than what existed in the heart of the restaurant.  All in all our service was excellent and the waitress was very attentive.  So I broke the jinx! YAY me!  For dessert mom got the key-lime pie and I got the Chocolate/Oreo mouse.  If any ofour readers get the chance to go to the Ripe Tomato I highly recommend it.   

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