The enjoyment wasn't only Boston. In fact, there's only so much
Boston wandering that I can take because the busy-ness and energy wear
me out. We alternated days in Boston with days in Marblehead, on the
North Shore. There are other interesting towns and historical sites
on the North Shore, and we had all sorts of ideas for things to do, but we never got to the others because we never exhausted
The house we stayed in (above) was built in Colonial days. You could tell
where the kitchen and bathrooms were added on. The washer was in the
kitchen, but the drier was in the cellar - down a steep flight of
stairs (photo, right, by older son). I didn't do much laundry.
The first evening, we
discovered The Muffin Shop (older son's photo, below). It has the best muffins we ever tasted.
Every morning, we'd wander around the corner and choose our breakfast.
By the last few days, the owner knew our order - at least the parts of
it that were consistent. I almost always had something including
chocolate (the one exception was the lemon poppy seed muffin), and
younger son always had "the best cinnamon rolls he's ever had in his
Here's the view down the street from the Muffin Shop. Marblehead, itself, is a beautiful place to wander:
Marblehead Bay was about three blocks away. Fort
Sewall, where you can see the open ocean, was less than a mile away.
The trip to Boston was longer - a half hour car trip to the end of the
T's Blue Line. If it weren't for the long, gray winters, I would love
to live there (couldn't afford it, though). Alternating between busy
Boston days and calmer Marblehead days worked very well - with one
Sunsets. If you stay in Boston or at a seaside park
until sunset in late May, you end up finishing dinner at about 10 pm.
It was one of the least relaxing vacations we've ever had, just because
we couldn't stop.
We didn't even stop the first night - after
driving for two days. After unpacking and getting groceries, we
wandered down to Crocker Park (below), only a few blocks from the
has a number of small natural areas, and we explored as many as we had
time for. Castle Rock (views from it, below) was one of our favorites.
I've never been
anyplace else like it before. You're at the edge of the ocean, you feel
above and inside it all, and you're filled up with sunlight.
tides there are far more dramatic than at the beaches in North
Carolina. At NC beaches, the tide goes up and down the sand maybe 150 feet. In that part of New England, the tide goes up and down the rocks
for about ten feet, and, if the beach is more gradual, it can go up and down the
rocky beach for 1/10 of a mile. I enjoy the NC beaches, but I absolutely love
the coast in New England!
High tide and low tide at the same spot near Sewall Park:
The rocks peeking above the water in the photo above are the rocks we're wandering in below (photos thanks to dear husband) at low tide. There were lots of hermit crabs in the small pools left in the rocks.
I waded with younger son as the tide came in (the same rocks):
I must remember the winters, though.
Seasonal depression hit me so hard at MIT that I think I rarely
I know I could never live there, but I just wish it
weren't so far away.
[Written over a week ago, but I've been too busy/out of town/too tired to finish it. I have a number of blog posts hanging around in various states of incompleteness, including one about Up that I dictated into my mp3 player last fall.]
Of course, you could say that about a large Barnes and Noble, but it's not the same. As much as I enjoy the occasional browse in B & N, a good, independent bookstore, with its own style and taste is far more interesting. I love going to a bookstore that has a good, but limited (because I only have so much time to browse), selection of intriguing books. The best ones are always the ones I wish I could borrow from because I could never afford to pay for all the interesting books there.
Two of those bookstores are in the Triangle - The Regulator, in Durham, and Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill. We went to two more on vacation.
Trident Booksellers and Cafe is on Newbury St. in Boston's Back Bay - just about a block from my favorite ice cream place. The bookstore, my favorite store in Boston, was the last stop on my just-a-few-weeks-late Mother's Day wander around Boston [photo, right, by older son].
I found many interesting books there. I bought three:
Lyrically interweaving discoveries from science, psychology, music theory, paleontology, and philosophy, Robert Jourdain brilliantly examines why music speaks to us in ways that words cannot, and why we form such powerful connections to it.
Critic Acocella's deep knowledge of and organic feel for dance infuses
her fleet-footed and witty prose. Like a dancer, she makes her art look
easy, which it certainly is not, and what poise and range she evinces.
Acocella has written expertly and vividly about dance for the New
Yorker and other venues and is a keen literary critic as well. She
has now collected 30 of her stellar artist profiles, electrifying
portraits that seamlessly pair biography and criticism and draw
authoritatively on psychology and history. Add to that Acocella's
versatility and knack for choosing just the right individuals.
Accompanied by superb photographs of the artists, Acocella's portraits
bring into focus such complex figures as Lucia Joyce, James' mad dancing
daughter; Mikhail Baryshnikov; Martha Graham; Bob Fosse; Marguerite
Yourcenar; Dorothy Parker; Philip Roth; M. F. K. Fisher; and Susan
Sontag; as well as the iconic Mary Magdalene and Joan of Arc. How agile
these firmly rooted yet whirling essays are, and how very enlightening.
Acocella's portraits are so much fun to read, they feel like indulgences
rather than writings that do no less than enrich and sustain culture.
A fantastic book which I just happened to find on the discount table (along with the second one)!
It's been quite a week, fun but busy - parties, rehearsal, and daughter's UNC-Asheville orientation (for students and parents). After that, I really feel like UNC-Asheville is the right place for daughter. She's ready to start classes yesterday.
The gardens are very green, and the plants are quite healthy, but they're not as flower-ful this June. I don't know if it's all the rain we've had, or if it's the manure we put down last fall, which led the plants to say, "Hey, we're healthy and well-fed. Let's just grow big and green and forget about offspring this year!" Also, some plants, including the tall lilies, the rose mallow, and the blue mist, beloved of insects, seem to have been killed by the cold winter we had. :(
I planted this sidalcia on a whim this spring. I am pleased.
The tag for this flower is buried.
For dear husband: Biokovo geranium
Bellflower (large) and bacopa
Lilies, with orange cosmos in the background, closeup...
...and a view of the full bed
Primroses. Even they're not as plentiful this year. Usually, we almost have to weed them out because they'll take over.
The cone flowers rarely disappoint.
The tag for this one is buried too. I think it's the shorter cousin of the other tag-buried flower.
I'm pleased with how these hanging baskets turned out. I've started to put my own together the last few years. I need to get the spider flower out of the left hand one, but it's such a healthy plant that I don't want to just yank it out. I just haven't gotten around to transplanting it yet...
I almost forgot some of the most enthusiastically blooming flowers in the yard. The sunflowers came up in the deck pots - from birdseed.
Okay, I guess I have as many photos here as I usually have in the early summer.
Karen-in-Law left a brief comment last week on my Boston photo post, in which she asked, "It must have felt wonderful to be back, no?"
Yes. Absolutely wonderful.
And her comment made me realize that I wrote that Boston post with my emotions totally off. Or, maybe they were just asleep; it was rather late.
Our vacation was one of those things that I knew I'd remember the rest of my life - and I knew that while we were there (like my whole Joseph experience last year).
Actually, I haven't been able to let myself think about it much since we came home. Not just because I really didn't want to get back to regular life - which is pretty regular from now until daughter goes off to college. And not just because it may have been our last family vacation. Daughter and older son are very serious about working and saving for college so they may not want to take a week for vacation in the upcoming summers.
The vacation also struck a chord in me that has been silent/dormant/buried for a long time. Even though I was only in college in Boston for a year, there's a place deep down inside me where my Boston self resides.
Actually, I was only there for a school year (September to early May), which means that I almost never experienced weather like we had. The days were gorgeous, and the temperatures were almost ideal. We only had one really hot day, and we had one rainy afternoon where we never got wet because we spent it in the Museum of Fine Arts (younger son and I wandered there together, spending most of our time in the Egyptian galleries and the musical instrument gallery (right)). There weren't many insects yet, and, although the pollen covered our van, it didn't seem to be the nasty, allergy-inducing pollen we get here.
For a number of years when my older kids were younger, I had a difficult time in large cities and up north. Even though I had grown up in Michigan and New York, the different manners really bothered me. Everything seemed harsh and rude.
That doesn't happen any more. I actually found Boston rather refreshing - you don't have to greet everyone you pass. Not that we do in Hillsborough, either - some people don't want to do that, but then you end up looking at everyone to see if they will or not. And usually I like saying hello to people because it seems warmer, particularly in our neighborhood. Even so, the impersonality of Boston was a very good change for me. Marblehead was sort of in between. The drivers there, surprisingly, had better manners than those around here, and people greeted you about half the time. I even ended up in an impromptu conversation or two.
Dear husband ended up in an impromptu conversation on the Blue Line the first morning we went in to Boston. For whatever reason, a lady started a very loud (on her end) conversation. Of course, everyone on the subway is pretending to ignore everyone else. At one point, however, dear husband mentioned to her that his wife went to MIT, and he gestured towards me. Daughter and I were sitting on the opposite side of the car, further back, and the man next to me (perfectly still until this point), said, "Oh!" in a surprised tone and turned towards me.
I was nice and didn't smile at him and say "So you were listening!"
I turned back into a Boston pedestrian again while we were there. I always wait for walk lights here. There, half the time they didn't work. If enough pedestrians walk into the intersection, the lights don't matter. I just joined them. By the time I got to my solo wander, on the last day, other (obvious) tourists were following me across intersections.
Overall, I felt that I could be more energetic, really focus, and really throw myself into what I was doing in Boston, without worrying about the social expectations around me. The major expectations are that you shouldn't get in others' ways or bother them.
What else I love about Boston... The architecture, the sheer variety of everything, the variety of people and languages, the energy, the street performers, the variety of food, the unexpected finds like the Japanese store I mentioned in my previous post, the beautiful churches (although Trinity Church was closed again for the holiday weekend), the mix of city and nature, the feeling that there is so much to do and see...
One evening we were very tired and our feet were sore, but the flamenco guitarist playing in the subway station was so good that we almost didn't want the train to come. Street performers now sell CDs too. We came home with a few.
We didn't celebrate Mother's Day for me at home this year. I decided that I wanted my Mother's Day event to be a dinner at a good Italian restaurant in the North End. One evening, we ate at Vinoteca di Monica (right). Also, as part of my Mother's Day, we wandered through the Back Bay from Boston Common to Emack and Bolio's for ice cream.
Swan Boats at Boston Garden
Other scenes on Newbury St in the Back Bay
The last morning we were there, daughter wandered by herself, dear husband and younger son wandered together, and I wandered solo (older son stayed at the house and slept - too many almost-all nighters during the semester).
My solo wander was very good for me. I know Boston well, but haven't been there much since college, so it was familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. I headed for Trinity Church (right) first, only to find that it was closed for the holiday, so I walked a few more blocks and consoled myself with an ice cream cone from (again) Emack and Bolio's - one of the places I went to most when I was at MIT because ice cream cones are relatively cheap.
The Esplanade, along the Charles River, is famous, but I'd never been there before. If you're at MIT, there's not much reason to go to the Esplanade because you can walk along the river on the MIT side and get a greatviewofall of Boston. I didn't want to take the time to go over to that side, though, so I walked along the Esplanade for the first time. It was a nice, shady, leafy break. I'm probably too nature oriented to live in cities anymore, regardless of how much I enjoy them. After all those years of watching TV broadcasts of Arthur Fiedler conducting Boston Pops concerts at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade, I finally saw it in person. I also crossed the nearby Arthur Fiedler Memorial Pedestrian bridge.
There's the paved trail with lots of walkers and joggers, and the dirt trail, closer to the water, with just the occasional jogger. You know which one I chose.
View from the Esplanade. It was a hazy day due to, as we found out later, smoke drifting down from Quebec.
Arthur Fiedler Pedestrian Bridge
I also hadn't ever wandered in Beacon Hill. All the guidebooks recommended it because of its interesting, authentic Federalist architecture. Maybe I was in the wrong section, but, to me, it looked somewhat like Charleston, if you take out the little courtyards, squish all the houses together, make them all brick, and make them all look the same. The only difference seemed to be the colors of the doors, the doorknockers, and the few potted plants on the front steps. I headed back out to Boston Common instead.
I'll write more in another post about one of my favorite bookstores - just a block from Emack and Bolio's.
Part 2... maybe Wednesday (hopefully). Tomorrow is Garden Blogger's Bloom Day!
[I wrote most of this post a week ago, but then I couldn't add the photos because we had two computer problems. Thank you, dear husband for fixing them!]
I have three posts in various stages of incompletion, but I haven't had the energy to finish them today. I taught the music to the adult chorus for the first time last night (last week's rehearsal was a smaller group, and I wasn't leading it). I was a nervous wreck all day, but, yesterday evening, I thought it turned out okay. Or, at least I hope it turned out okay. I have post-event slump tonight so, this evening, I think it turned out badly. I'm hoping I feel better about it tomorrow. Oh, and regardless of how badly I'm thinking I did, I'm still coming up with ideas for what I want to do differently next week.
We also went to see the onstage version of Beauty and the Beast on Wednesday. It's my favorite Disney movie, and I've seen it numerous times so I wasn't sure whether I needed to see another version.
The stage version was wonderful. There's an energy onstage that you can never get in a movie, no matter how well it's done. I was able to turn off my inner video at about the third or fourth scene, and I thoroughly enjoyed these particular performers. I'm so used to Jerry Orbach doing Lumiere in the movie that I forgot, until watching the stage Lumiere, that Jerry Orbach modeled the personality and voice on Maurice Chevalier. The scenery and costumes are wonderfully colorful, and the set changes are very creatively done (I won't give it away).
It was also lots of fun to watch the audience in the lobby. There were lots of little girls there with their parents and grandparents. There were also lots of women with their woman friends, but very few couples without little girls. Apparently, it's not a date musical. The little girls dressed up as Belle were adorable, and the line for souvenirs was full of them. The two sisters behind us in line both got Belle dolls, one with a blue dress and one with a gold dress. We got three t-shirts, in case you were wondering. Younger son is starting a collection of show t-shirts. So far, he's got ones for Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, and Beauty and the Beast. And to think, a few years ago, I wondered if he'd ever really be interested in musicals!
Here's a performance from the 1994 Tony Awards, with Susan Egan, Terrance Mann, Beth Fowler, Gary Beach (who is not as Chevalier-ish as the actor we saw), and Burke Moses. Unfortunately, it's split into two parts in the middle of Be Our Guest.
Although they give a good feeling for the songs, the Tony videos don't give the most accurate impression of the sets and costumes. Here's an ad which shows those off better:
And, just because it's fun, here's an ad for the Tokyo version (with a slightly different take on the costumes):
Younger son and I made snickerdoodle cookies today so this was a timely LOLCat:
Okay, this was really supposed to be a short post before I go to bed with a few lines about each thing. Then it just grew and grew... I suppose I could have finished one of those other posts, and now it's late.
From our recent trip. We started out with the Freedom Trail because daughter has wanted to walk it since we went there a few years ago.
The U.S.S. Constitution - the oldest, commissioned warship afloat - and the thing that younger son wanted to visit the most.
View of Boston from the deck
Organ in the Old North Church. The angels around the organ were actually stolen. In 1746, Captain Thomas Grucy, a pirate who was working with the British and also a member of this church, stole the angels from a ship that was bringing them to a Catholic church in Quebec. Later, the Canadian church was contacted, but they said to just keep the angels.
Paul Revere's house in the North End - one of our favorite parts of Boston.
View of the Financial District from the edge of the North End. For those who haven't been to Boston in a while, the park in the front of the photo is where the elevated highway used to be (now underground). The change still slows down my navigation because I've only briefly been to Boston since.
Another view of the Financial District from Faneuil Hall.
Street dancers at Faneuil Hall. Street performers are another of my favorite things about Boston. These guys had a great show. [Photo deliberately small so that no one can increase the size and look at individuals.]
The old State House. The surroundings don't look anything like the Colonial days, but I've always loved its setting in the midst of the tall buildings. Maybe it's because it can hold its own, architecturally speaking, without being large.
We went to Harvard Square for dinner. As we were wandering, we found Kofuku, a store that sells Japanese toys and gifts. It was a basement store so here's the entrance - complete with Totoro. Daughter and I bought some small things.
I thought I'd get lots of blogging done this weekend. You see, after all the busy-ness of the last few months (good busy, but some of the busiest I've ever been, just the same), I decided to take this weekend and schedule nothing.
Nothing at all.
I decided that, besides laundry, dishes, and the every day stuff, I'd just do whatever I felt like. What a bizarre concept. I was sure that I'd get lots of blogging done, but I never really felt like blogging. What did I feel like?
I'd start reading a book, or downloading photos, and I'd get sleepy and go take another nap. Along with sleeping well at night, I slept two to three hours during the day. I haven't even finished any of the books I'm reading (Small Pools, Unseen Academicals, and Tales from Outer Suburbia).
I almost didn't write this part of the post because it seems so... shameful to get so little done over a whole weekend. However, catching up with the last two weeks' worth of Glee put me in a good mood this evening so I decided to confess anyway.
Here are a few interesting things I ran across the last few weeks:
If anyone had asked you, a decade ago, to predict who would be the
biggest star of 2010, you might have said Jim Carrey. Or Tom Hanks. Or
Tom Cruise. They headlined the biggest movies of 2000, after all...