Uxmal / Venus / Thanksgiving

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I recommend watching the PBS series “Native America,” (we watched on Thanksgiving) because it tells new old native stories really well. Here is an excerpt on Uxmal (where I visited with Frontera staff in 2015 and took the photos in the collage) –

Maya cities flourish between the years 100 and 900– a period twice as long as the golden age of Rome. The Maya track the positions of many stars and planets with an accuracy within one day every 400 years. Their astronomical knowledge would not be matched in Europe until a thousand years later, the time of Galileo.

(speaking Spanish)

(translated):

The Maya constructed cities and buildings that were in some way aligned to the sun.

NARRATOR:

Pepe Huchim is Maya. He grew up among these ruins and is now a leading archaeologist in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and site director of Uxmal.

(Herrera speaking Spanish)

HERRERA (translated):

The sun was the giver of life. It was the fundamental nourishment that regulated the life of the Maya. (birds chirping)

NARRATOR:

Here at Uxmal, one magnificent building stands out.

(Herrera speaking Spanish) 

HERRERA (translated):

The Governor’s Palace is one of the most beautiful structures in this region because of its exquisite lines and finishes. (Herrera speaking Spanish) This is a primary indicator that this was a very important place.

NARRATOR:

Uxmal is built on the common north-south grid. But Uxmal’s greatest king, Chan Chak K’ak’nal Ajaw, builds the Governor’s Palace twisted 15 degrees off this axis.

MARY E. MILLER:

For so many years, people had noticed that the Governor’s Palace at Uxmal seemed a little bit out of whack. (birds chirping)

NARRATOR:

Art historian Mary Miller finds the reason why written on the building’s facade. (birds chirping) The House of the Governor is covered with thousands of glyphs– the Maya form of writing.

MILLER:

Maya writing is one of the few full writing systems that ever evolved in the history of humanity.

NARRATOR:

Maya writing contains more than 800 characters. Some are like letters, representing certain sounds. Others, like those on the Governor’s Palace, represent entire words, names, or concepts. The repetition of one particular glyph is a clue to the building’s orientation. There were dozens and dozens of these fantastic masks of Chaac the Rain God piled up in great stacks across the House of the Governor. Under each and every eye is the sign for Venus.

NARRATOR:

The House of the Governor contains close to 350 glyphs representing Venus. And Maya astronomer priests write an entire book to track Venus, the brightest body in the sky after the sun and moon.

MILLER:

There are four surviving Maya books, and it is really quite striking that one is entirely devoted to the sequence of Venus.

NARRATOR:

Mary stands in the doorway where an astronomer priest would observe its elaborate cycle on the horizon.

MILLER:

Venus would line up once every eight years with maximum brightness with the principal doorway of the House of the Governor.

NARRATOR:

The House of the Governor is carefully positioned to align not with the sun, but with Venus.

MILLER:

This building was aligned from the very beginning to Venus. It’s the harvest of perhaps a thousand years of knowledge about Venus, and imbuing Venus with this much meaning.

NARRATOR:

But why Venus? Understanding the cycles of the sun helps guide agriculture.

Family New Havening

Family New Havening

Family time at the around the haunts of New Haven such as the Chetstone gothic Victorian mansion, Georgie’s Diner, Sandy Point Bird Sanctuary, Pepe’s Pizza, East Rock, Lenny and Joe’s, Fairhaven Heights (Dragon), Lighthouse Point, Ragged Mountain in Meridan, and more fun along the CT shoreline. October 2018. Big thanks and love to Kate, Peter, Raven, Aunty, Roxie, Ruby, Cobra, Pink Lady and all who were in on it!

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Lighthouse Point Sunset

Lighthouse Point Sunset

Visited for the first time in October 2018 and was blown away. Lighthouse Point Park was an unbelievable Connecticut shoreline sunset spot. There are large rock formations that make the ideal perch to watch the sun dip down into the Sound. I would love to return for the full experience: the carousel was closed for the season and the beach was almost barren in the hauntingly beautiful autumnal glow, with only a local fisherman as our neighbor.

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Giuffrida Park

Giuffrida Park

Giuffrida Park is an escape to nature that rewards a modest effort with scenic overlooks of traprock cliffs, a reservoir and a waterfall. The trails are not the best marked, but the roughly 2 mile loop around the reservoir (blue blazes) is more of a rugged hiking adventure for that fact. The traprock rising high above the valley is a marvel. Would definitely recommend in spring / summer and especially autumn, for the leafpeepers paradise.

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Sandy Point Bird Sanctuary

Sandy Point Bird Sanctuary

Over 60 acres of barrier beach, tidal creek and marsh, the Sandy Point Beach & Bird Sanctuary, one of the sites featured on the Connecticut Coastal Birding Trail, has been designated an “important bird area”. I would also designate these two long sandy peninsulas arcing into New Haven harbor to be a “astonishingly beautiful bird area.” Sandy Point is a natural nesting & migratory ground for many species of birds on the Connecticut shoreline…  You will find protected wetland & beach habitat teeming with birdlife, with footpath access & ample parking.  Recommend taking a hike in this sanctuary of nature for birds and humans alike!

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West Haven Beaches

West Haven Beaches

West Haven has a scenic drive all along the coast and it’s worth the drive AND worth stopping along the way to take in the fresh salty air, and the beauty of Connecticut’s historic homes and rocky shoreline. For somebody who has lived in Guilford, West Haven beaches opened my eyes to some unseen CT beauty with lots of public access!

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Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana

We dined in with a party of 5 on a Tuesday night in mid-October 2018. There was a line stretched outside the door at around 7PM and we had to wait about 20 minutes for a table. This was not a problem as being exposed to the pizza aroma only intensified the gratification of eating the world’s best pizza. The service, white clam and red sauce veggie pizzas were all simply amazing and well worth triple that wait time.

Juicy tidbit: Local news was taping a segment beside the wood-burning oven while we dined. I asked our server what was going on with that, and we chatted about an unfortunate and odd pattern: the jinx of the spotlight. Several times, the Frank Pepe wood-burning oven cook that has appeared in such a taped news segment has had to be let go soon thereafter. Hubris? Goes right to their head? Coincidence?

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Lenny and Joe’s Long Wharf

Lenny and Joe’s Long Wharf

Pleasantly surprised that this branch of Lenny and Joe’s Fish Tale lived up to the best experience I have ever had at an L and J, which was this awesome dinner I had recently in their Westbook restaurant. The lower review average may be due to less New Haven guests “knowing what to expect.” The seafood was fresh (we had raw Blue Point oysters, clams, a fried shrimp roll, and a lobster roll) and the service was on point. The prices were totally in line with the other Lenny and Joe’s.

Note to the team of Lenny and Joe’s servers: As a restaurant industry professional who has “put my time in” (more than 2 decades experience) I would recommend NOT wearing shorts during work. Not only will a full length pant better protect the body from hot food in the event of catastrophic spill, full length pants will also shield the legs from idiotic male guests suffering from demented Hooters mindsets. Just my 2 cents.

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Bagelicious II

Bagelicious II

Bagelicious II had some great vegan options for my sister and her husband. The sandwiches on bagels were ready fast and served hot. The slightly spicy Italian was tasty on an everything bagel. Also enjoyed watching another guest drive away with their togo coffee accidentally left on top of the car!

Knowledge Corner: It’s my understanding (full disclosure – I am a III myself!) that the suffix “JR” is used when an entity is named after it’s parent, and “II” is used when an entity is named after a family member of a preceding generation. Therefore the original Bagelicious is probably Bagelicious II’s grandmother / grandfather.

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