Posts Tagged ‘new england’

Many years ago read an article that I found quite interesting. It was about a literary pilgrimage of sorts.

It listed authors and the places they lived or wrote. Most located in upstate New York and some New England.

I wanted to go but never did. Then one day, nearly four years ago, I threw the thought out into the universe. My cousin, Joanne, was interested. A summer road trip was soon in the works.

It was really fun. Exploring places we never would have seen.

We left Brooklyn and our first stop was Washington Irving’s place, Sunnyside. A beautiful place on the Hudson in Westchester, New York.

Headed to Olana. Another gorgeous property. Also situated on the Hudson River. My cousin, Elizabeth, had recommended this stop. The home and studio of painter Frederic Edwin Church now a historic site and managed by the New York State Department of Parks.

Got there too late to take a tour. No amount of scheming on my part could get us in on the current tour. Not sure if they are just really strict about it or if that particular guy was just a schmoe. My charm was totally wasted on him.

But a fantastic site.

http://www.olana.org

Pedal to the metal and we were off again.

We drove to “The Mount” which is the name of Edith Wharton’s home in Lenox, Massachusetts. Her book, Ethan Frome, written in 1911, still gives me the shivers.

This was a beautiful home and the surrounding gardens were lovely.

http://www.edithwharton.org

Had a very nice lunch at a cool place in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Food was really good.

Their gallery hosts story telling, spoken word, book launches and more.

http://www.sixdepot.com

Also located in Stockbridge is the Norman Rockwell Museum.

http://www.nrm.org

Crosssed the border and into New York State.

Headed to Austerlitz, in the woods, to visit Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Steepletop. I had read her life story in my Dallas book club years ago. She lived quite the colorful life. Edna was a poet and a feminist.

Love this poem of hers.

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;

It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—

It gives a lovely light!

Interesting that the author of a book I am currently reading now lives in Austerlitz.

http://www.millay.org/visitsteepletop/php

Next stop. Stayed at a neat and simple motel overlooking the lake in Guilderland, New York. This is near Cooperstown.

Browsed the nice shops of Cooperstown and strolled down historic Main Street.

Did not make it to the Fenimore Museum. It is built on the site of James Fenimore Cooper’s 19th century farmhouse. Must have been a time issue if we didn’t make it.

http://www.fenimoreartmuseum.org

Anyway, Cooperstown was our last stop. We sure did drive through some beautiful areas of New York and Massachusetts. Stopped at wonderful road side fruit and vegetable stands. Even ended up visiting with a dairy farmer when we drove by his farm.

It was a great road trip that might never have happened. Until I sent it into the universe.

What do you want to send into the universe? Where do you really want to go?

 

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This past January my friend Di and I had plans for a lunch.

Winter in New England can be very cold. So everyone has to bundle up.

Kind of weird because it seems like the entire Northeast female population is wearing the same fluffy black coat. The ones that can make a person sort of look like a sausage about to burst out of its waxy looking casing.

Both of us have gained weight. Both of us are little women. Like five feet tall.

We hop into my car, try to get situated so we can belt ourselves in and be on our merry way.

Well, there we were. Twisting, turning and almost grunting trying to get comfortable. Picture, if you will, worm larvae. The puffy jackets don’t help.

We came to this stunning conclusion.

Having extra pounds is just downright uncomfortable.

That is really what it comes down to, isn’t it?

I am uncomfortable.

Not body shaming myself or anyone else. I don’t think we should all look like anorexic models. I don’t want to go on crazy diets. Just want to be at the normal, healthy weight I’m supposed to be.

I’m not comfortable in my clothes because they no longer fit properly. I have clothes I cannot wear. I’m not comfortable passing a mirror (clad or not), catching a glimpse and gasping out loud, “Good God!” I’m not comfortable looking at photographs that show the obvious gain.

A lot of people who are overweight are uncomfortable.

In bathing suits. Shopping for clothes. Always leaning toward the stretchy pants. Self conscious.

I recently saw a posting on a page for a reunion at my high school.

A woman said she ran into another gal (did not name her) and asked if she was going to attend the reunion.

The reply was, “No, not looking like this.”

The woman had gained a lot of weight since high school. So she was going to miss this fabulous opportunity to meet with old friends.

Because she was uncomfortable with herself.

I felt really bad when I read that. I think she absolutely should have gone to the reunion. No one cares about her weight gain.

But I understood how she felt.

I weigh more than I ever have in my life. Except for pregnancies.

Never really bounced up and down with weight but in later years I always picked up a few extra pounds on summer home visits. Usually I dropped those within the first two weeks of my return. Getting busy and back to a routine. Shed the suckers without blinking an eye.

This past summer was no different. There was the usual flurry of activity that happens. Graduation party, birthday parties and nights out at restaurants. Eating all of my favorite foods. The veal parms and the fried clams. Steamers dripping with butter and Casserta’s Pizza. Four road trips with food on the fly.

So I picked up the usual few pounds.

When we returned back home, after seeing the kid off to university, I figured I would drop the additional weight.

It didn’t happen this time.

I returned to a different house and country with no set or usual routine. I had an empty nest. Husband working all day. I didn’t know anyone.

Days and weeks passed. I didn’t lose a pound.

Then on November 6th I quit smoking.

Went home for the Christmas holidays. I don’t know a soul who actually loses weight during that time. I was no exception.

So, what to do?

I figure if I can quit smoking I can do anything.

Have to give a shout out to my brother. He inspired me in a few different ways over the holidays.

So when I arrived back home from the airport on February 7th I hopped on the scale. Hopped right off and documented that number which was at an all time high. It’s probably not even the real number. I call it the air travel weight. Lots of bread and junk.

But I documented it just the same.

I used the Fitbit app on my phone. Like I used an app for smoking cessation.

It’s me that is going to do the hard work but I like to see graphs, progress and encouraging messages.

It comes down to this. It’s all about what I eat. And how much.

I do walk at least an hour a day. But that is because I want to be outside and doing something.

My point is that even if I never left the house or lifted a finger I should be able to lose weight. By being aware of every morsel that I eat.

It can be frustrating. Sometimes it seems there is no rhyme or reason to a gain, loss or plateau during the process.

But today when I stepped on the scale it was a solid ten pound (and a few ounces) loss. Finally the scales have tipped in my favor. I have fifteen more to lose.

Some of you reading this might also be feeling a bit uncomfortable.

You can find comfort.

And you can start today.

Hop on the scale. Write down that number. Get a Fitbit. Set a goal. Challenge a friend. Track your progress. Reward yourself. Document everything that goes into your mouth.

You will absolutely get results.

That’s all there is to it.

You can do this.

Be comfortable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A few years ago I was walking along a beach with my cousin, Joanne. She would stop, every so often, to excavate a piece of glass from the sand. I had no real interest in this scavenger hunt. Didn’t really know why anyone would want to collect bits of glass on a beach. But everyone is different. We all have our hobbies.

This past January my husband and I moved into a new home that overlooks a bay. A waterway that leads from the Atlantic Ocean to the Port of Providence in Rhode Island.

Even though it was winter, we still walked down by the water to take in the fresh air and the bay views.

I began to notice small pieces of glass. Would just catch my eye. Here and there.

Each tide swept in treasures from the sea. Big wooden pilings, driftwood, shells, rocks, some trash and sea glass.

Sea glass is man made glass (old bottles, dishes, etc.) that has tumbled around the ocean for possibly decades. The sharp edges are dull and soft as a result of its travels. Its surface, once shiny, is now frosted.

Way back in the day people dumped their trash in the ocean. To avoid keeping it on land where it could attract unwanted vermin that spread all sorts of yucky things. Ships also used the water as a convenient place to dispose of their refuse.

Sea glass was once trash but now appears on shores ready and ripe for upcycling.

A shard from a beer bottle thrown overboard could be made into a beautiful pendant forty years later. Sort of interesting.

I am now a collector of sea glass. Once you pick up your first piece and all that. Always on the search for another one. Looking for the pièce de résistance. Not just the green, brown or white ones that were the popular bottle colors of the day. 

It started out innocently enough. I saw a piece of old glass that washed ashore. Picked it up and put the smooth, frosted treasure in my jacket pocket. Wait. There’s another one. And another. Soon my pockets were full and smelled like the ocean.

After a week or so I had a bunch.

seaglass1.jpg

This vase is the result of four beach combing sessions.

I headed out whenever I could. It was very cold on some days (my husband thought it was quite unhealthy for me to be out there) but I felt an amazing calm being by the water. It was therapeutic.

bay4

I collected the glass while I listened to the Canadian Geese honking and landing in unison with a big swoosh.

Other than a few unnatural muffled noises in the distance like the hunters targeting ducks, small clam boats and ship horns it was very quiet each day.

bay1

I totally enjoyed the tranquility that accompanied my beach combing.

Why does the tide deliver pieces of sea glass to our shore?

bay2

The location. Our home is in New England so the weather and tides can get stormy and riled up a bit. A little more than depicted in this photo.

It’s also situated on a busy waterway leading into a port so I am sure there was a lot of trash thrown from the ships in the past. As well as residents of yesteryear dumping on the shores.

beach3

The beach is also rocky and filled with shells after each tide so it’s easier for pieces of glass to get caught on the shore.

As a result of this new discovery I’ve read a lot about sea glass. And everything that popped into my mind has already sort of been written about and totally covered. By those who have been bitten by this bug long before me.

Like I’ve wondered about the origins of certain pieces when I picked them up.

Was it once a bottle that contained a scrolled up love note? Could it have just been a wayward whisky jug shard that was once whole and shared during a drunken night around a camp fire? Was it a lost and broken piece from a terrific shipwreck?

Others have had similar imaginings.

I have also entertained, in my head, the many ways that these newfound treasures could be used. Yup, tons of other people way ahead of me. The internet is chock full of ideas. Jewellery, art, home decor and more.

I mean, it really is a thing.

Who knew?

seaglass2

There are jewellery making classes in nearby shops. Sea glass shows and conventions. Lots of other things that I honestly did not know existed.

A few tidbits and I will take my leave.

Most countries no longer dump their trash into the oceans. So the opportunities to find sea glass will eventually diminish.

Not everything is trash. In fact, most things can be recycled, reused, or upcycled. Just have to really think about it!

A diamond is taken from the earth and refined by man. Sea glass is originally made by man but refined by nature.

Sea glass can also be a metaphor for life. No one gets through unscathed, right?

Waves knocking us down. Getting a few dents and chips in the process. The current throwing us around a bit. Losing our luster. Edges no longer sharply defined. Clarity sort of dulled.

Sounds kind of depressing until we see the transformation of the surviving pieces.

The frosted hue, softness, beauty and imperfections that are you.

Sea glass.

Really, who knew?

Cheers to your next discovery and have a lovely day!

 

 

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I am at my mom’s house in New England. Got a bit of snow this morning. Didn’t last too long and there was not much accumulation.

But it still needed shovelling. Like it always does around these parts.

So I strapped on dem duck boots, gloves and cleared the cars. Then I did the driveway, sidewalk and stairs. I did the neighbor’s sidewalk and then went to the other elderly neighbor’s house and did her driveway, sidewalk and stairs.

By the time I was finished I had more than seven thousand steps on the old Fitbit!

Cleaning the snow around the cars reminded me of a sad story I read last year.

A father in the Northeast was shovelling the family car out of the driveway while his wife and two little children, escaping the bitter cold, waited inside the running automobile.

They soon died of carbon monoxide poisoning while he was just outside shovelling.

The tailpipe was clogged with the snow and it forced the carbon monoxide into the car.

What a terrible, terrible tragedy. The father was paralyzed with the shock of it. Who wouldn’t be?

Stay safe this winter.  If you are living in a snowy region remember to check that the exhaust pipe is clear. Also to keep furnace vents in the home clear of snow.

 

 

 

 

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This past summer I was driving to my friend’s home in Rhode Island with my two daughters. It’s a lovely area near the beaches. Tree lined roads winding by horses grazing, babbling brooks and placid ponds. Gorgeous old, clapboard homes on green acres dot the landscape.

My eldest, who is twenty five, says, “This area is so beautiful. Not like the usual creepy New England towns.”

I exclaim, “What?? Creepy like how? A van with no windows is creepy. But not New England!”

Later on, while we are soaking up the sun on a fabulous beach, same daughter proceeds to tell my friend that ever since she was a little kid I’ve told her probably every single ghost story or mystery that took place in our part of New England.

Okay, when you put it like that. I sound like a monster.

It’s true. I might have pointed out a haunted house or two.

The Westport house where folks claimed a ghost resided.  One of the occupants fell asleep in a rocking chair and woke up with a haircut.

I probably mentioned the ghost of the red-headed hitchhiker on Interstate 195.

Most likely gave the background of the childhood rhyme about Lizzie Borden. I did take my youngest (seventeen at the time) to Lizzie’s house last year where the gruesome crimes took place.

I may have pointed out the lovely house that sits at the bottom of Metacomet golf course in my home town. Shared that murders were never a thing while I was growing up but a few years before I was born an elderly widow had been murdered in that very home during a robbery.

Could have mentioned the still unsolved mystery of the “New Bedford Highway Killer.” Eleven prostitutes went missing. Nine were found strangled and dumped in the woods. And that it was very possible a local attorney was the killer and actually indicted at one time. He moved to Florida in 1988 and there were no more murders on that stretch of highway since then.

Yes, I might have shared a story or two.

Dear Norah,

I’m very sorry and hope that you realize it’s not New England that’s creepy. Stuff happens everywhere.

It’s just your Mom who is creepy.

Hope I didn’t do too much damage. I’m just thankful that I spent a lot of quality, non-creepy time with you when you were young.

I absolutely loved cuddling up with you at bedtime every evening while reading you many, many wonderful fairy tales. As you peacefully drifted off to sleep.

Like Snow White and her killer stepmother. The orphaned Bambi who yearns for his murdered mother. Three little pigs trying to protect themselves from the wolf who wants to destroy their home. Hansel and Gretel’s great escape from the witch who attempted to burn them alive in an oven. And so many others.

I pray that, in some small way, it makes up for the ghost stories.

Love,

Mom

 

 

 

 

 

 

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As I said in my previous post today is my “little” brother’s 50th birthday. He’s my little brother but he hasn’t been little since he was a youngster. He’s about six feet two or three inches tall and I am five feet one and a half inches tall. My older brother is about six feet.

I often wondered how it would have played out if they got my height and I got theirs.

Luckily for them (and me) they took after Dad’s side and I was the exact height of my mother.

When we are together we laugh like hyenas.

Anyway, this younger brother is the sensitive one. Wouldn’t hurt a fly (not that the other one would!) but he is sensitive to all. Ultra-sensitive if you ask me. And he’s married to a New Yorker so bless him.

Two summers ago we went to Patriot Place. If you are a New Englander I don’t need to explain. But for those of you who are not I will explain.

It’s the area where the New England Patriots play football in Massachusetts. Not soccer. But American football. In the South it’s a religion. In the North it’s a close second to religion.

Patriot Place encompasses the stadium, museum, a shopping area, restaurants and even a cranberry bog. It’s very nice.

So we (my brother and his family) had a lovely time hiking the small area around the bog. It was a perfect day.

We went to a restaurant. I made the mistake (in my brother’s eyes) of asking for an extra menu and also telling the waitress ( a local girl) that she just had to take the hike-it was in her own backyard!

I told him he was being ultra-sensitive. I am a kind person. It wasn’t like I was yelling at her. I was trying to enlighten. It’s what I do.

Anyway, I thought about it later (power of suggestion and all that) and really wondered if I had been brow-beating the poor girl.

He takes the kids to the museum and his wife and I stay at the restaurant and enjoy a glass of wine. So fun. Nothing against him.

I see the waitress who served us and beckoned her.

I said, “Hey, my brother thought I was a little hard on you about the hike thing? I’m really sorry if I came off harsh in any way.”

She exclaimed, “No way! Didn’t take it like that at all!”

Sometimes I think he wasn’t even raised in New England where people put it all out there.

So I then said, “Let’s take a photo of us!”

Freak him right out.

We took a picture of me, my sister-in-law and the waitress and sent it to my brother. Glasses of wine raised.

He got such a kick out of it. Texted back, “You are so crazy and that is why I love you.”

We laughed about it for ages.

Happy birthday, little brother. I will always, always, always love you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ll admit it. The beautiful photos that my friends and family are posting this time of year are sort of making me homesick.

I miss the changing of the leaves.

I miss wearing sweaters. I miss wearing boots.

I once tried wearing a sweater here in Malaysia. It was an evening gathering by the pool area in our community. I’m not crazy (all of the time) so I wasn’t going to go full on heavy wool sweater. But I had donned a nice, light cotton, button down cardigan that I thought I could handle.

Ten minutes into the occasion and I was sweating bullets.

I said to my friends, “I’ll be right back!”

And I ran home to change into some sleeveless, cotton thingy. It was that bad.

I tried.

Some people can handle the humidity here. I am not one of them. I guess it’s my DNA. My ancestors hail from a temperate climate and I was born in an area that experiences seasonal changes.

I’m seeing beautiful photos of changing leaves, football games and family gatherings.

And I miss it.

My visits are usually during the summer. And sometimes Christmas.

So I miss out on those absolute perfect days and chilly evenings of Autumn. All the apple picking and Halloween/Thanksgiving activities.

I get that these same people will be complaining and posting photos of the long winters.

And I also miss that.

It is interesting to live in a climate that is predictable. But not interesting enough that I want to spend my entire life here.

So, if you are currently experiencing the changing of the seasons, appreciate every moment.

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