Thursday, November 24, 2016

Make American Pie Great Again

Thanksgiving morning, and anyone who's ever read this blog since it started lo, so many years ago, knows what that means.
Running, pie, and friends.
It's official - it's not the invigorating 5K run that pulls us all out of our toasty-warm beds on chilly November mornings.
It's the opportunity to draw together friends and family from all over the place, many of whom could care less about running 3.1 miles - we just appreciate the opportunity to be gathered in one place again to say thanks for what we've got in our lives.
And every year, it takes on new meanings, as the other realities of life set in and make us realize just how lucky we are to still be able to do this.
And of course, there's always the apple pie at the finish line.
Super proud to be logging the miles with the kids - make no mistake, Andrew comes for the pie.  Heather battled back a cold after I guilt-tripped her into emerging from her cocoon of covers.
The Cassidy and Cook girls 
Inside the Elks, we're ready to hit the road! 
The Cassidy Clan of runners grew by one more this year, as Marcia logged her first 5K!  Welcome to the club, Marcia.  You can't get out. 
At the start, Rebecca and her sister Sarah are beaming.  They know Pokemon galore await them over the next glorious three miles 
Heather's looking pretty excited.  Course, we haven't left the parking lot yet.  Either that or she's just pumped to be running stride for stride with Carlos. 
Photobombing 101 
Even Steve's getting in on the action 
Thanks to the Lowell High School champion cross country team for staffing the water stop at the halfway mark 
DJ is setting a blistering pace heading toward the final mile on Pawtucket Boulevard.  Watch out for your brother behind you.  He's deceptively quiet out there! 
You'd never know the guy in the middle just ran 26.2 miles in the Philly Marathon four days earlier.  Not a sign of being worse for the wear.  At least none Barry's showing. 
Cockiness 2016 - when John stops in the roadway just to let everyone catch up to him.  He saves himself for this race every year.
They're laughing because they know Carlos just stuck a hot blade into the group run plan 
John - he knows where the cameras are at all times, especially when he's manning the selfie-cam 
In the finish chute, it's time to reap the pie rewards. 
I close this Thanksgiving blog every year giving thanks for everyone who's still around to read and appreciate these ramblings.
This year was a tough one.  We lost some loved ones in some pretty tough ways.  A couple of us have had our first skirmishes with some real health issues.  It's been a wild and woolly year of election politics.  Yeah, 2016, has been a tough one for many of us to muddle through.
But muddle through we have.
And here we are, at another Wicked Good Thanksgiving.
Thanks to everyone who's been there for all of us throughout the year.  The family, the friends, the co-workers, the extended families in other parts.
I can't personally thank everyone enough for the support Clan Cook has gotten through our ups and downs this year.  You know who you are.
I hope you all get out there and enjoy this entire holiday weekend with the ones you love.
And I hope we can all come back here next Thanksgiving for more pie, photobombing, and more run-cam shots.
A personal thank you for my rocks - Jackie, Andrew and Heather for sticking side-by-side through a whirlwind couple of months.  You guys are the best!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Annie Strong

Another crisp Fall Sunday morning in September, and another opportunity to walk to support a terrific cause, the Jimmy Fund, to help, in some small way, to contribute to the never-ending battle against the cancer that has claimed and impacted so many lives.
We first became involved with the walk more than a dozen years ago, because Jackie's sister, Anne Blake, convinced her sister to join her for a leisurely jaunt from Wellesley to Boston to take part in the fund-raiser.
We've been there in one form or another as a family every September since.
This year, though, is different.
We lost Annie in July.  She had twice beaten back leukemia, but the side effects of transplants and residual infections proved to be too much.
So in 2016, more than ever, Jackie and Heather are determined to log the 13.1 miles in Annie's memory.  Ugly socks and all.  They'll be joined for the trek by Jack's sister Cheryl, and Jackie and Annie's brother Don.
Andrew and I, as in most years, are running out from the finish to meet the walking warriors, and we'll all walk in together.  This year will be a special finish, but will unquestionably have a different feel to it.
Using this opportunity to look back on some of the times that Annie was able to lead the charge.  (Couldn't easily access 2004-2008 pics)
This year's for you Annie.





There's still time to donate to this year's member's of Annie's Army to help support their inspirational effort

Click on their name to link to their fund-raising pages:

and our friend Christine Cole, who also walks every year for her loved ones and beyond:

We'll be thinking of you every step of the way, Annie

Sunday, August 28, 2016

In the Belly of the Feast

August in New England, and you know what means - the Feast of St. Anthony in Boston's North End, one of Andrew's Holy High Days of the calendar year, because, you know, more Italian food than even a growing 23-year-old can devour.
In case you haven't experienced the glory that is the Feast, a little background, straight from the event's website: the tradition of honoring Saint Anthony of Padua dates back to the early part of the 20th century and the large numbers of Southern Italian immigrants that reached America.  Hundreds of thousands of poor European immigrants flooded the northeastern United States, and in Boston, many settled in the North End.  They brought their customs and traditions.  Legend has it that a group of men from the small mountain town of Montefalcione, Avellino, just east of Naples in the Campagnia region of Italy founded the Feast.

And since 1919, as in done in Montefalcione on the weekend of the last Sunday of August, the people of the North End celebrate the Feast of Saint Anthony himself.

The Feast features parades, marching bands, floats, an Open Air Mass with the veneration and the individual blessing of the Relic of Saint Anthony, the patron saint of finding things or lost people.
First up for food was one of Andrew's favorites, bruschetta and toast.
We opted for a healthy start with a fabulous caprese salad
Ever since our first excursion down to the Feast in the 1980s, one of the staples of our visit has been the incredible cherrystone clams that many of the vendors put forth.  This year, it meant the first tasting ever for both Andrew and Brennan.  Mike, as he is wont to do, smothered his in the hottest sauce available (more on that later).  The rest of us opted for the standard cocktail sauce.
Seriously, you can't live in New England without having experienced one of these gems at least once in your lifetime.  You've been put on notice.
Moving on, it was time for Pizzeria Regina, some of the North End's most famous pizza
An interesting addition this time around was Wild Bill's soda carts.  Buy yourself a mug and keep refilling it all night with birch beer, sarsaparilla, root bear, creme soda or black cherry soda.  We availed ourselves of just about all the flavors.
Mike indulged himself in a bottle of hellbazing Chelsea fire hot sauce.  The guy can drink shots of the stuff.  He may have sweated a bit for his efforts.
Brennan held his own with a chicken parm sandwich
And so the sun sets on another Feast.  No pics of the cannolis, those came home with us.  Couldn't score them at Modern Pastry or Mike's, though, as the lines were out their doors and around the corners.  But we made out just fine at one of the street vendors.
The festival still runs through today, so if you've got a free Sunday in front of you, head on down!  And grab a cannoli for us, won't you?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Galumphing with the Jabberwocky

Today's blog post comes to us courtesy of guest blogger John Piekos, writing from the island of Martha's Vineyard, home to many an E Streeter running milestone this new millennium.

Take it away, John:

E Streeter Nation  laced them up this weekend for a worthy Vineyard cause.  Camp Jabberwocky caters to people with disabilities, and this weekend held its annual 5K road race starting at the Farm Institute in Katama section of Edgartown.  You can find out more about the Camp and what it does here: Camp Jabberwocky

Historians may remember that two years ago, Karen won her age group in this storied race.  This year, though, we were unaware of when the race actually was!  Due to "Park Here for 5K" signs, we realized at 8 a.m. that the race was happening, and started at 9 a.m.!  Unphased, we rushed to the start, with Karen running from our house to the start, a robust 1.2 mile workout, while I biked ahead to register.
In the pre-race corral, Karen is in the zone
There were close to 300 participants!  And yes, when the starting gun went off there could be heard the traditional shouts of Carlooooooooos.
The 5K was flat and fast, with people running on the bike path and road.  Karen took the early lead over John, who came out of running retirement (Read: injury, out of shape, gone fishing) for the event.
It was a hot one as turned the final corner on the dirt road finish.
John and Karen posted for a post-finish picture n front of the famous Jabberwocky Bus.
Karen placed second in her age group, with a sub 26:00 performance.  Unfortunately, the registration process was a nightmare (wifi failed, paper registrations delayed results) and she does not yet appear in the official results.  Miraculously, I broke 30 minutes.  All in all a great day for a great run and a great cause.

Thanks, John!

 And with that, we leave you with the words of the Jabberwocky himself, via Lewis Carroll!

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves 
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: 
All mimsy were the borogoves, 
      And the mome raths outgrabe. 

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son! 
      The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! 
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun 
      The frumious Bandersnatch!” 

He took his vorpal sword in hand; 
      Long time the manxome foe he sought— 
So rested he by the Tumtum tree 
      And stood awhile in thought. 

And, as in uffish thought he stood, 
      The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame, 
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood, 
      And burbled as it came! 

One, two! One, two! And through and through 
      The vorpal blade went snicker-snack! 
He left it dead, and with its head 
      He went galumphing back. 

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock? 
      Come to my arms, my beamish boy! 
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” 
      He chortled in his joy. 

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves 
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: 
All mimsy were the borogoves, 
      And the mome raths outgrabe.