Monday, July 27, 2015

Midsummer Doldrums

Well, not quite doldrums. The garden is in its July glory, waiting for me to take some new pictures. Three knitting projects are still on the needles, and two finished objects I have are not yet blocked . Spare time is spent on the beach, reading Anthony Trollop's nice novels about people trying to marry for money.

Politics are already driving me into a rage - I am honestly not quite sure what is so much worse about Donald Trump than the rest of the numerous venal old white men vying for the GOP nomination. Apparently the RNC does not like him, but I suspect that is because he is not already bought and paid for. That we know of.

So. Not having anything much to show off I will treat you to a video of something quite blamelessly cute:

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Into the City

We have long wanted to see the fireworks display on the Fourth of July in Boston, and this year we decided to go. Instead of planning a big trip for ourselves this year we had brought my younger kids out to visit so we thought a couple of shorter local trips this summer would be just the ticket. Shana's schedule leaves her Fridays free, so off we went up the highway to Boston for a weekend vacation.

We stayed at the Kendall Hotel in Kendall Square, where we had not stayed before. Friends had stayed here in the past and we liked the looks of it so we gave it a try. Very nice, one of my favorites, and we will stay there again. It's a converted firehouse with pretty and individually decorated rooms, good breakfast selections, and convenient to the T. The only thing I could say against it is that it is SO convenient to the T that we could feel (faintly) the trains passing below. Not particularly disturbing to me, and I don't think Shana really even noticed it, but for some people it might be annoying. One reason why we wanted to stay there was that it was less than a mile from the Charles River, where we wanted to walk to see the fireworks.

We saw a ball game Friday night (a miserable loss) and came home late. The game plus fireworks after didn't let out until late - we were still on the street waiting to get underground into the subway at midnight. It takes a while for 37,000 people to disperse, and most will be taking the subway. It went as smoothly as such things go, but I did not want to do it twice in one weekend so we and about 100,000 of our dearest friends met up on foot along the Charles on the MIT campus to see the display. The concert and the fireworks barge were directly across the river. While most of the concert could only be enjoyed across the river on the Esplanade, the fireworks portion was broadcast over FM radio. MIT set up speakers so we could all hear the music. There were food trucks and portable toilets there as well. Just about ideal, and the weather was perfect.The fireworks were fabulous. Obviously the best I have ever seen. They started with the 1812, with artillery and a nice burst of fireworks. Then a short break and the show began in earnest starting at about the level a smaller city might use for their finale and increasing in drama from there. It was just splendid! It was so convenient to be able to walk there and back. The nearby streets were closed so it was possible for the gigantic mass of people to get out in reasonable comfort and we were back at our hotel in no time.

Saturday we also visited the USS Constitution. She is currently in dry dock for repairs, so we were not able to tour below decks, but we were there for a 21 gun salute which is done only on the 4th.  We had a light lunch with fruity vacation drinks and did a little shopping and people watching near Faneuil Hall. Later on we walked over to the North End for a sumptuous dinner at Mama Maria's. We were fortunate that the Maitre d' (after a short convo) let us in dressed as we were in shorts to sit upstairs at their tiny bar. Once past that gauntlet we were treated well and our meals were fantastic! I would really recommend it, although if you are expecting meatballs and chicken parm you will be disappointed.

old and new - the Old Statehouse surrounded by skyscrapers

We headed home after a leisurely breakfast to see traffic going off Cape already backing up for miles before 11am. We'd hoped to go to the beach for a while, but by the time we got there no one could get in  - all the parking was taken. The weather today is exceptional and no one wants to leave the beach. It was the only disappointment in a wonderful weekend, but from the number of cars that started coming to the Cape on Thursday it was not really a big surprise. I read my paper on the deck and messed around in the garden instead.

I didn't take very many pictures during this trip. We were mainly focused on relaxing and spending some time together away from our usual routine, so we didn't try to see a lot of new things.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Family Visit 2015

These sunglasses were lost in the sea
This year instead of my visiting Oklahoma City we brought Sam, Alex, and Vivian to Cape Cod to visit us. None of them had been away on vacation for a while - this was Vivian's first plane trip. We loaded up on groceries and entertainment ideas and got ready for our company.

In spite of having a forecast of sunny skies all week we ended up with two sunny days - one of which was pouring rain early in the morning. We wanted to indulge in some beach time, but instead of having swimming days we mainly had "visit the beach for a walk days".  One day when it was sunny enough it was incredibly windy and temperatures hovered in the mid 50's. We did not stay long at the beach even though we had packed a picnic. We did have enough good weather for walking on the beach, and visiting Salem and Provincetown. The weather was fine for Salem, and we were able to stop in Plymouth to tour the Mayflower II on the way. We also walked down the street to gawk at The Rock. The main sight I like to visit in Salem is the Witch Trials Memorial in the Old Burying Point; Sam's favorite was the high school which was one of the buildings used in the film "Hocus Pocus". The drive back from Salem killed any desire to go to Boston for the day. We hit rush hour through Boston and got off in Dorchester to gas up. I must point out that we passed Stitch House twice but I did not go in even once. I probably should have, then we would have been behind the traffic instead of in the thick of it.  One thing I noticed in Dorchester was that there is inexplicably a gigantic bronze statue of a Clapp pear. We passed it twice while searching for a public rest room and I did not see any explanation for it. I had to Google it after I got home. Apparently it symbolizes the people of Dorchester (Whitey Bulger's old neighborhood) in that it has a tough skin but a soft center.

Our Provincetown day turned out fair, and we were able to enjoy a whale watching trip and a climb up the Pilgrim Monument. Many people do not know that the Pilgrims landed first at Provincetown. There's quite a view from the top of the monument, only a little tarnished by the knowledge that you are going to have to go back all the way down.  The monument has no elevator. Sam wore flip flops, which she deeply regretted. She ended up  climbing up and down barefooted. We had good luck on the whale watch - a mother and calf and two other humpbacks who were all willing to show us their tails! The sea was quite rough going out; Sam suffered from seasickness. and the rest of us were cold. Alex was pleased to hear that I did not need to add his sweatshirt to my outerwear. What a gentleman he was to offer it!

Vivian lost a tooth while she was here. She was a bit concerned that the Tooth Fairy might not find her, but that turned out not to be a problem.

I took quite a few pictures, so if you want to see more hop on over to my Flickr Photostream to check them out. There are a lot of them there (and not much editing or weeding out was done).