renata came to pick me up at 9am and we drove down to rhode island, but not before stopping by her place so she could check on her chicks again. there was some serious overcasted rainstorm action today, sometimes rainy so heavily that it was hard to see on the highway. a normally short one hour drive down to providence took a little bit longer than usual. this was in fact my first time ever visiting providence (i've been to east providence a few times for client meetings, but just in an office off of a highway exit, didn't really see much). renata was determined to show me how fun the ocean state can be. we were going to her parents'place for lunch and for me to answer their questions about digital cameras.

when we finally arrived, i met renata's parents. her mother i remember seeing a few times back in high school, but her father i'd never met before. her brother marsian was also there briefly, making a special guest appearance, but left shortly afterwards. from the large kitchen window i could see birds flocking to a backyard feeder in the rain. there were purple finches (which are actually red, not to be confused with house finches which lack the more prominent red color on its head and back), which are interesting birds, but the birds du jour were the goldenfinches, these tiny brilliantly yellow birds. i had seen goldenfinches before, but only during the winter, when they're not their eyecatching yellow color. renata's father told me the first time he saw a goldenfinch he thought it was an escaped pet canary. the feeder was full of thistle seeds, which goldenfinches love above all other type of seeds. the backyard was teeming with other wildlife, including mourning doves, chipmunks and chickadees.

renata's mother gave me a tour of their 3200 square feet house. my favorite area is the kitchen, with a nice view of the backyard and an automated stove ventilator that can hide itself with a touch of a button. with about an hour to kill, renata's father took us out on a tour of providence with renata behind the wheels. renata's mother wanted to come as well, but decided to stay in order to cook the food. we drove through brown university (the streets were crowded with students moving out), RISD, downtown providence, before stopping at federal hill (through the giant lucky pineapple gate) to pick up some italian foodstuff (i sampled wandi). providence reminds me of different parts of boston/cambridge: beacon hill, the north end, financial district, charles river, harvard university. despite the rain (which meant we saw everything behind the raindrop covered windows of renata's honda civic), i loved what i saw and my whole outlook on providence and rhode island has changed. i will definitely not hesitate to revisit, all my negative preconceptions of massachusett's small southern neighbor have disappeared.

after watching the final minutes of catch me if you can on videotape and enjoying some nice homemade salsa spread on garlic bread while reading a book about the works of gunther von hagens and his plastinated human cadavers in various states of exploded dissection, it was time for lunch: pork roast, seasoned potatoes, flavored mushrooms, and stuffed artichokes. i don't ever remember having artichokes before, so i had to ask renata how to go about eating one. lunch conversation turned to favorite vegetable, renata's father revealing his fondness for eggplants, while i thought the dragon fruit (technically not a vegetable though) was the prettiest of them all.

after a dessert of blueberry cheese cake and mango tea sitting by the kitchen table overlooking the backyard birds again, we all got into the car and drove down to the nearest circuit city (in garden city) to do some digital camera/pc shopping. not surprisingly, the store didn't carry a comprehensive selection of digital cameras, and many the ones that were out on the showroom floor were non-functional. they didn't have the nikon 2500, 3500, or 4500, the three models that featured the swivel-lense design that renata can't seem to stop raving about. after looking at the digital cameras, we moved on to computers. renata's mother wanted to replace their old computer (about half a decade old) with something newer that can more readily interface with a digital camera. i found renata wandering the store seemingly lost, whispering "i am so bored" to me. we left without purchasing anything, in a daze from being overloaded with gadgets and features.

driving back, they took me on another tour of providence, some artsy district (wickenden street) reminiscent of provincetown on the cape. back at the house, renata's mother shared leftovers with both renata and myself, each of us getting a care package full of goodies. after saying our thank yous and good byes, renata and i left. we took a detour through a nearby graveyard where h.p. lovecraft (that's "hewlett packard") is supposed to be buried. while trying to get our bearings, a coyote ran in front of the car and disappeared into the woods. earlier renata's mother had said something about a coyote attacking neighborhood pets, and here before us was the culprit itself. i had thought coyotes were fox-sizes, but they're actually a lot bigger, about the size of a german shepard, kind of looked like a wolf but skinnier. unable to find the gravestone (and perhaps unwilling to leave the safety of the car with a wild coyote scampering about nearby), we headed out.

when we got back to renata's place, i was able to see her chicks, which every day seem to look less like chicks and more like chickens. their body shape looked more chicken like (less like the ball shape of a chick), the crest more pronounced, and equal amount of feather versus down, bigger feet now with scratching claws, and the familiar head bobbing of adult chickens. their wings are large enough that they can now hop-fly up to the side of the box, perching on the ledge. what's weird though is instead of jumping over the box and escaping, they always turn themselves and hop back into the box, as if they're still afraid to leave the safety of the group.

renata dropped me off at home, and then later i had the leftovers prepared by renata's mother (as well as the store bought ravioli with tomato basil sauce). they were so delicious, i almost cried eating them.