Al’s Diner

Posted by mrssmythe on July 22, 2017 in Out & About |

For months, we’ve been driving by Al’s Diner in Chicopee and wondering about it.

It’s the cutest little place. (And, by little, I mean little – just six booths and some stools along the counter). We wondered about the food. We wondered about the clientele. We wondered about the meat pies and whole hams advertised on the sign outside. Most times, though, when we drove past, Al’s was closed. Had Al’s had gone out of business? Then, we’d spot someone inside and our speculation would begin afresh.

This past Tuesday, I happened to drive by Al’s in the morning (usually, I pass it in the afternoon or evening). The place was packed! That did it. Someone in the family had to get over to Al’s and find out what it was like. CPT A and Ginger volunteered. Ginger had a morning ballet class on Friday and Al’s was on the way to the studio. They could go for an early breakfast and then tell me all about it. Perfect!

Al’s didn’t disappoint. Besides having an interesting history (it opened in 1959, operated 24/7 until 1983, and is on the National Register of Historic Places), the food was great and very affordable.

Ginger ate two enormous chocolate chip pancakes. CPT A ate eggs, hash browns, and toast. The staff was friendly, and the place was filled with ambience and “regulars”.

I’m sure we’ll be back.

From the dining room table, with gardening and grocery shopping on the day’s agenda,

Mrs. Smythe




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Not Just Flowers

Posted by mrssmythe on July 20, 2017 in Garden |

I was going to skip growing vegetables this year. Flowers are really my thing, and given the choice between feeding the body (with vegetables) and feeding the soul (with the beauty of flowers), the soul almost always wins out.

But, this year, Ginger insisted. I couldn’t talk her out of it. So, to please her, I put in a cucumber plant, a watermelon vine, and a pumpkin plant. (There are also a pair of tomato plants, but those are for me).

Now, here we are in July. The veggies are beginning to take off, and I am suddenly glad we have some food on the grow. I’m remembering that back yard cucumbers are much nicer than anything we find in the store.

And there’s something magical about watching a pumpkin develop.

Not to mention, pumpkin flowers have a beauty all their own.

Next year, I need to remember that while food growing may not be as visually pleasing as growing flowers, it certainly has it’s rewards. Something to note in the garden journal.

From the dining room table, preparing to water said vegetables in advance of another hot and steamy day,

Mrs. Smythe


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Shark Week…at the Movies

Posted by mrssmythe on July 19, 2017 in Out & About |

The girls are really interested in sharks right now, so when I saw “Shark Week at the Movies” advertised on the Fathom Events website, I marked it on the calendar.

For us, Fathom Events has been a great way to squeeze in culture – they broadcast operas, Broadway musicals, ballets, concerts, and documentaries we might not otherwise have access to. And then there are the classic movies – we’re always on the lookout for those. It’s so fun to see them on the big screen (earlier this year, we saw The King and I – it was great!).

The ticket prices can be a bit more than what you’d spend for a movie. (Our shark week tickets were about $15 each). But, we did get super cool foam hats, and it was nice to see the two 45-minute documentaries (one on Makos, the other on Great Whites) on the big screen. It made for a excellent family movie night and spurred all sorts of interesting conversation during the drive home.

A screen shot from the pre-movie entertainment:

The answer? C.

From the dining room table, amazed at how much mankind has learned about sharks in the years since I was the girls’ age,

Mrs. Smythe



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Photographing Bees

Posted by mrssmythe on July 18, 2017 in Critters, Garden, iPhone photography |

I’m finding that the best time to photograph bees is right after the rain. The bees are out, but they move much more slowly. They don’t seem to mind you sneaking up to take their pictures.

They are, however, a bit bedraggled. Whenever I see this, I want to comb their “hair” for them. I want to help them tidy up a bit before I snap their pictures. But, while they don’t seem to mind the photo taking, I do think they’d mind that.

If I want fluffy, well-combed bees, I have to wait for them to dry out…but by then it’s difficult to make them stay still. Almost always, the pictures turn out blurry.

The bees “hair”, however, is lovely.

From the dining room table, with rain in the forecast again…good bee photography weather,

Mrs. Smythe

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Brimfield – 2017

Posted by mrssmythe on July 17, 2017 in Out & About, Shopping, Tag Sale-ing |

I finally made it to Brimfield! After ten years of wondering about the giant antiques show that sets up less than hour down the road from us, I cleared my schedule for a day and just went. I took Pepper with me (Ginger hates to shop), and had CPT A drop us off so we wouldn’t have to bother with parking. And what did we think?

Well, first of all, it’s huge. I had heard it was huge, and I had seen all the tents as we’d driven past, but I don’t think you really get an understanding of how big the show is until you’ve spent a day weaving through the tents and walking down seemingly endless corridors of dealers. We spent a solid four hours walking and still didn’t see half of what was available.

Of course, the crafts caught my eye – in particular, this crazy quilt, which was dated 1884. It was a bit threadbare in places (and I was surprised to see it casually draped on a tarp and out in the sun!), but was still absolutely beautiful.

Also – several samplers, some old afghans, and lots and lots of unframed needlepoint. In fact, you’d be surprised how many needlepoint versions of “The Last Supper” we saw.

I also enjoyed seeing the old toys and books. Many of the toys were ones I remember playing with, and it was like seeing old friends again. I’m sure Pepper got tired of me calling her over so I could introduce her.

Something I didn’t have as a kid but was always curious about – a chemistry set. We saw several of these.

Maybe the most fun, though, was seeing all of the whacky things on display. Several times, we caught ourselves taking mannequins for real people.

We didn’t have that problem with these, though:

They were set up with their backsides to the road and created quite a stir.

In the end, I didn’t buy anything. I was too overwhelmed and am terrible at bargaining. But, these chairs did tempt me. I’m sure our pets would ruin them, though, as soon as I brought them home. They would be covered with cat hair and claw marks.

Someday, though…

From the dining room table, wondering how that gold-toothed hippo head would look in my garden,

Mrs. Smythe


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