A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Monday, October 02, 2017

If Not Now (Carrie Newcomer)

Because when I hurt, I always find comfort in the music of the masters.


Friday, September 29, 2017



I am drowning in mess (the transition from working girl to retiree has some drawbacks) but wanted to share a few more pictures from my adventure in the Northeast before I dive into bringing some sanity to this place.

Disneyland tomorrow, then Japan in a little less than three weeks.  I was in Massachusetts for one week and took over 2,000 photos.  Two weeks in Tokyo (including three days at Tokyo Disney) is a little intimidating.


Will try to go chronologically...

 I had booked my ticket during a three-day sale on Southwest.  I love flying Southwest, and it was terrific that I could get a round trip to Boston for only $342.

The plane was brand new.  We had a stop in Austin, Texas, but most of us who were flying through to Boston stayed on and changed our seats.  I snagged a window just in front of the engine, something I am now very happy I did...



... because clouds.

As a SoCA girl I've always loved rain, but haven't really become enamored with clouds until later in life.  That said, I HAVE always been fascinated with them from my airplane seat, but have never been seated where I could take pictures of the wonder.  This second leg of the flight, I was able to snap away.

 I was fascinated by how the personality of the clouds kept changing.

And then the captain announced that we were meeting IRMA.  She didn't really mess with the plane, but the clouds changed as we detoured a little to stay on her good side.

On international flights, you might have an option on your TV screen to check to see where on earth you are at any given moment.  I've never wished so much to see where we were during the hours we flew over these clouds.

Boston.  I was breathless.

Yes, that is Massachusetts Bay.  The first encounter between British fishermen and Native Americans happened somewhere on the shores of this bay.  The historian in my was dancing happy dances.

People who know me well will understand why I had to have a picture of my gate number.  A22.

It's not an easy airport.  Thanking goodness for elevators, I made my way to the lower level, trekked several hundred yards, then upstairs on another elevator toward the baggage claim area.  Stopped on my way to buy my Boston YOU ARE HERE mug at Starbuck's.  It was a thrill to see one of the adults I was there to visit waiting by the carousel with an ear-to-ear smile and a warm hug.

The amazing - stunning - gorgeous Bunker Hill Bridge.  My friend (a better Boston historian than I will ever be) told me that it is designed to reflect the obelisk that commemorates The Battle of Bunker Hill, which you can barely see on the horizon in the next picture.
After an evening of presents and excited conversation, I awoke the next morning to the first of several delightful field trips my friend had planned for me.  One of my requests had been for a quilt shop.  Turns out there was one just minutes into New Hampshire from my friends.

After finding all the fabric I had hoped for (fall leaves and Halloween) we headed back to one of her favorite restaurants for a lunch of more than decent sushi and sashimi.

The next day she insisted we get an early start because we had to "See a man about a thing."  Turned out she had a whole day of surprises in store for me.  Normally I don't like surprises, but gotta say it was fun to just sit back in the passenger seat and be pampered.

I've already posted the first stop.  The "Man about a thing" turned out to be the coastal cruise to the lighthouse that I posted earlier.  But Ogunquit, Maine, is such a precious jewel of a town, I just have to tuck a couple of pictures in here.

No, I don't really need reminding of the amazing lobster dipped in warm butter.  But he was a handsome boy.

After lunch we walked to a shop that promised Christmas and antiques.  What a great experience!  Rusty, who I assume was the owner, was just delightful.  He was obviously not only knowledgeable about this stock, but proud of his shop.  My friend and I bought the same lobster trap Christmas ornament, and I added a lovely mermaid mug and an amazing Mark Roberts doll that I have nicknamed my merSanta (although Roberts named his creation a sea fairy).  I haven't added a Santa to my collection for several years, and one to mark my Masteryear has been on my bucket list.  I thought this Santa of the Sea was hung there just for me.

We spent a few minutes driving the main street of town looking for a place to appease her craving for a blueberry muffin, but had no luck, so we headed out of town.

The next stop on her list was another amazing quilt shop called Knights.  I found more irresistible fabric, including several nautical pieces to commemorate Ogunquit, and some prints

Further down the highway, my friend made a left turn in to a parking lot, announcing that the place sold a marmalade that her daughters liked  so if I didn't mind, we would see if they still had a couple of jars.

Oh, my goodness.

Stonewall Kitchen.

 Yes, they had her marmalade and walls and walls of sauces and mixes and jams and cooking supplies.  And samples.  I actually (and probably foolishly) thought I would get out with nothing but a nautical themed dish towel on clearance for $2.99. 

And then I saw this:

Yeah.  It's the deli counter.  With baked goods.  Two blueberry muffins and two giant cookies (peanut butter and - ogawd- a buttery sugar) she finally dragged me out of there.  Just one of a few hits on my no sugar-no carb diet of the last three months.

Bert.  He lives at her old house.

The next day was quieter, since we had big field trips scheduled for the weekend.  My friend works the paperwork for this delightful café in one of the original mills.  They specialize in a doughnut muffin, which I tried, but the paleo-gluten free brownie was my real favorite.

Good as the food was, what I was awestruck over was the mill itself.  I taught about the Massachusetts mills for twenty-five years and it was a thrill to get to walk around in one.

The little girls call this The Red Room.  Beautifully presented.

East Mill, where the café is.

West Mill, across the street.

The next day's field trip for the whole family was a trip to a local farm/orchard to pick apples (one of my requests.)

Honeycrisp.  We picked a bushel, and then I twisted one right off the tree and finished it in the row.  (No worries, I put cash in the "Conscience" jar on our way out.)  Nothing better.

After apples we visited the small animal pens, then went to choose pumpkins.

I figured that would be it, but on the way home we stopped at this incredible nursery that was hosting an arts and crafts faire.  I wanted to take home a few of the gorgeous pink hydrangeas they were offering for sale, but balked when I thought of the fight at the airport.  Instead I "settled" for a marvelous photo print of a dingy, a bracelet featuring a piece of sea glass collected from the shore of Massachusetts and two prints of a watercolor of the center of the old town where my friends live.

Could not get over how the leaves turn here.  One leaf or one branch at a time early in the season.

The next morning we headed into Boston.  Another of my requests was to visit a "BIG OLD SHIP!"

The USS Constitution oughta do it.  "Old Ironsides."

What a fabulous experience!  The ship had been in dry dock for restoration for two years and came out on July 23, just three weeks before I got there.

I think I took over a hundred photos of the ship alone, but some of my favorites were of the casks on board.  I remember reading that the sailors would need to use water to cool off the cannon during battle, and wondered if this barrel was for that purpose.  The sailor I asked told me that:

This cask was for drinking water.

This cask was for grog.  Two draws a day.  50% water.  50% whiskey.

And this cask was where the meat was prepared for cooking.  We moved on, but I left wishing I'd asked about the food.  I assume this cask was for soaking the salted meat so that the salt would leach out and the meat would be edible.

Active duty seaman explaining what each kind of shot was for.

Toward the end of my stay my hosts asked if I had seen the movie, Master and Commander.
I had not, so they pulled their much-watched copy up and we watched it over the next two evenings.  What a movie!  And I was so happy I had had a tour of a mighty fighting ship of the period before I watched the movie.

I was interested to learn that the hull of the Constitution has always been sheathed in copper to keep certain sea creatures from building their homes on her hull.  The original copper had been contracted by Paul Revere.  During this restoration the copper was removed (as it had been a few more times in the past) and replaced.

Attached to the ship is a privately run museum and gift store, both of which are excellent.  The museum is filled with hands-on, interactive displays which makes it a must-do for kids.  The gift store offers a wide selection of souvenirs.  By this time, realizing I had to be mindful of my luggage weight, I settled for some terrific stickers and postcards and an exquisite tiny copper charm of the ship that had been made out of the copper that had been taken off the ship in this restoration.

When we left the pier my friends turned on Jane, their Waze guide, to find the Boston Flatbread pizza restaurant.  Boston is a typical old city with narrow, winding streets.  It took quite a while to find the restaurant, but find it Jane did in spite of the filming road closures we ran into.  Flatbread pizza and brownie sundaes.  Not as spectacular as the USS Constitution, but lots of fun.

My friend and I had planned to drive to Salem, MA the next morning, but her daughter woke up not feeling well and so we all had a quiet day at home.  We all probably needed it after the excitement of the weekend.  That evening, confident her daughter wasn't actually dying and certainly was not going to miss school on her birthday (she would be a flag holder), my friend announced that we would be going to Salem the next day, and I did not try to argue her out of it.

SO glad we went.  It was a perfect dreary, drizzly day to visit this infamous town.  At her recommendation we took a trolley tour, which was wonder-full.  I had no idea.

Oh, I had taught about the Salem witch trials all my career, but it turned out I knew really very little about the town.

Our fabulous guide.  The ride flew by, he had so many stories.

Yeah, I have a thing for the sea and its lighthouses.
The harbors are so shallow that - over the course of generations - an entire mountain was excavated and the materials brought to build out the Salem shoreline.

First Russian Orthodox Church in America is in Salem.  Want to say 1792, although to be honest, we were learning so much I won't swear to remembering correctly.

The Witch Dungeon Museum.  Yeah, lots of cheesy Mannequins but very well done.  Not the original site of the dungeon where the hundreds of accused were jailed, but it did have a beam from the original which is just up the block.  Although the beam was holding up the floor over the basement dungeon during the witch hunt and trials, it is now believed to be good juju.  Yes, I made my intention while my hand was on the beam.

There were several structures mentioned that had been used during the filming of the Disney Halloween movie, Hocus Pocus.  This was where the girl lived.

I was overwhelmed by the number and quality of  Federal style homes throughout Salem.  The guide pointed out that this one has a door with three panels instead of only two.  He says the story is that the owner built the door so that his corpse could be carried out when he died.  (Of course, he pointed out, most people think it was extra-wide to accommodate women's wide skirts, but he - and I - liked the corpse story better.)

The owner of this house had the foresight to build his ballroom with a soft bamboo floor so the dancers would not tire so quickly.  Unfortunately, the soft floor didn't do it's share toward holding up the house above it, so these iron rods were worked into the structure for reinforcement.

We headed home, two starving women who stopped at Five Guys for a burger lunch, then home to meet for the birthday celebration.  Over the week I was there, more and more trees started their color change.  It had been tropical and warm thanks to the hurricanes that slipped by but waved humidity on their way.

I hated to leave, but it helped to know that just a month later I would see my son and his family in Tokyo.