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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Late Sunday Afternoon at the Quincy Market

As we drove through Boston on Sunday, I was just not ready with the camera, and I wish I had been.  I don’t know how many message screens we saw all with the same message:  “THANK YOU ALL”   alternating with “WE ARE ONE BOSTON”.  I wasn’t expecting it, and I choked up each time I saw one.  We passed under an overpass in Medford (where bombing victim Krystle Campbell lived) which was covered with American flags.  Later, a banner strung up on an overpass really grabbed me; it read in a child-like font on a brightly-colored background:  “no more hurting people.  peace.”  Wow.
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Today I watched the Memorial for MIT police officer Sean Collier on New England Cable News (necn.com), and I would highly recommend going to the website and listening to Joe Biden’s speech.  So moving.  And James Taylor singing. And the bagpipers playing Amazing Grace.  It was very cathartic for me, and I believe it was a very important part of the recovery of the many people there or watching on TV.
Okay, I really do have other things to talk about, I promise.
Jeff and Sean on the right.

On Sunday, after the Lacrosse game we made our way to the giant food court that is Quincy Market.  I took some pictures, but I really didn’t do the offerings justice.  I don’t know how many vendors there are, but I bet it could be 50.
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You walk right down a central aisle with counters on both sides.  There are deli-style offerings, various international cuisines including sushi, Indian cuisine, Mexican, Italian, traditional New England seafood, fruity smoothies and ice cream, delectable pastries, pizza, barbecue, I can’t remember it all.  .  
DSCN2428We were overwhelmed, and hungry as we were, it took a long time to make decisions. We wanted one of everything.  I took a couple of pictures, but they came out quite unappetizing.  I really wish I had taken pastry pictures.  At one of the counters, I got (to take home) a box containing a fruit √©clair, a red velvet cupcake, an Oreo cannoli, and the best thing was a really decadent item called a lobster tail.   I had never seen one, and I’m going to see if I can find a recipe or something to help me describe it to you.  I’m pretty sure that that is all they serve in heaven.
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In the middle of the building are 2 levels of seating/standing for diners. There were families everywhere, chattering away in languages from all over.
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DSCN2434By the time we finished eating it was well after 6 pm and apparently that is
DSCN2436when most of the vendors close up shop on Sundays. One vendor told me he was staying open a little longer to make up for Friday’s lost business building, running the length of it, are add-on glass enclosures. Therein are vendor carts full of art, gift items, and other engaging novelties, but they were when the city was under a “shelter-in-place” request. On each side of the almost all closed, so we couldn’t browse.
I tried to capture the message around the edge of the mezzanine, but if you can’t read it, it says:  “This building  has served the people of Boston as the central market since its dedication in August 1826.”    Why didn’t I take a picture of the rotunda?

DSCN2425The back of Faneuil Hall.
Quincy Market is directly behind Faneuil Hall, an important historic building.
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As you can see, I had fun taking (too many) pics of Samuel Adams’ statue  in front of  FH (in inadequate light). There is a museum housed there, also closed at the time of our visit.  I provided a link for those of you interested in learning more about Samuel Adams.  Hint:  his legacy had nothing whatsoever to do with beer.
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We strolled around the building enjoying the atmosphere in the waning daylight.    There are benches everywhere, and you can imagine the scene on a sunny weekday at midday, when lunchers ranging from tourists to workers in the nearby Financial District and Government Center are enjoying their selections from the Market.
DSCN2450This drummer was dripping with sweat, as he gave an amazing performance to passersby.
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He was very friendly and didn’t mind having his picture taken.  That is a frying pan sticking up out of the traffic cone, and was one of his improvised percussion instruments.

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It’s been ages since I’ve been to the area, so the huge statue of Kevin White (mayor of Boston 1970-1984) was new to me.  You can see it behind the drummer above.  When I first saw it, I assumed it was a Kennedy, but then I found the plaque on the ground identifying him.
I hope you enjoyed this little visit to a popular Boston landmark.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Massachusetts

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I lived in Massachusetts from the time I was a toddler until I graduated from college.  Sometimes I wish I had stayed, at least in New England.  But mostly I am glad that I have lived in Ohio, Illinois and California.  (pic from NESN)

New Englanders, and in particular Bostonians, are afflicted, er, imbued with inordinate pride of place, and it could be that I am no different.  But, I have experienced the virtues of other areas of our beautiful and proud country.  There is so much to see and to love.
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(Photo from boston.com, credited to Joao Bustolin of Somerville; the glow on the right is coming from the lights at Fenway Park.)
One thing I have learned in my travels is that some Americans have come to expect an arrogant superiority from folks “back East”.  One young lady eventually confided that she hadn’t wanted to get to know me, simply because I was from the east.  I smile now when I think of it, because of all the wonderful friends I made, and all the fun I’ve had seeing different places.  So it means all the more to me that people from all over America, and even all over the world, have made declarations of kinship with Boston since the tragic occurrences since last Monday’s Marathon.  I don’t know what the news coverage was like where you live, but I had NECN (New England Cable News) on most of last week, and the only news was about the Marathon. 
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There was some little bit of coverage of the explosion in West, Texas, but still the vast majority was focused on the Boston attacks and subsequent pursuit of the culprits.    So, I want to say that even though I am blogging about what’s going on here in my little corner of the world, my thoughts and prayers are also with the people of West, as they mourn their losses, and try to rebuild their lives.
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On Sunday, Jeff (DH) and Sean (DS3), and I drove down through Boston to attend a lacrosse game at beautiful Stonehill College in Easton.  DSCN2392My middle son Evan (DS2), #11 (lt. blue jersey) in photos,  plays club lacrosse at the University of Maine at Orono (UMO), and they had traveled to Stonehill for a 3 pm match. 
(Ian, DS1, also attends UMO and had club baseball games in Boston, but they were canceled, maybe because of the preceding week?)

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It was a beautifully bright and sunny day, but a bit nippy, about 50 degrees, and breezy.  The trees were budding out a little ahead of ours, but the city is not yet in bloom.



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Including the 3 of us, I counted 8 UMO Black Bears fans in the stands, so I met and talked to the other family.  It was sort of fun to watch except that the Bears were quite outmatched.



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Stonehill’s team was about 3x larger than ours, so they always had fresh legs to sub in. 
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But I don’t go to LaX games for the winning part of it. 



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(Which is good, because LaX is still in its infancy in our town, and we are routinely beaten.)




Next post will feature Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall pictures in Boston.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Terror at the Boston Marathon

Indignant.
For the moment, that is the word to describe my dominant feeling in response to the audacity of the terrorist bombings at yesterday's Boston Marathon.
I am indignant that an 8-year-old child is dead.  That a family from Dorchester will bear unspeakable sorrow forever.  That 2 other families face a similar ordeal, although as yet, we don't know who they are or who they've lost.  There are large numbers of families who are keeping vigil for loved ones, who fight for their lives in ICUs in Boston.  They will bear forever the scars of war.  Physical and psychological.  They didn't enlist or get drafted.  They didn't train or bear arms.  They simply celebrated a day of Freedom.  Freedom.
If you aren't familiar with Patriots' Day, it is a traditional commemoration of the battle of Lexington and Concord, which occurred April 19, 1775.  It is an official holiday in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the State of Maine.  At the time of that battle, what has been known since 1820 as the State of Maine was a non-contiguous part of the colony of Massachusetts.
I read on Wikipedia that Wisconsin also recognizes Patriots' Day, and in Florida, it is "encouraged", although I know nothing about that history.
In the days and weeks ahead, we will no doubt learn more about the activities and motives of the perpetrators of this despicable  bombing. 
For the time being, we are faced with uncomfortable questions, the chief of which is "why?", followed closely by queries starting with "how?".
The most important general answer is that there is evil in this world.  Evil in the hearts of people.  Evil in thoughts, words and actions.  No human being can escape its touch.  Not one.  And the reality is that many, many people have allowed, have chosen to allow evil to have dominion in their lives. 
The most important specific answer for Christians, is to understand that God knows about the evil tempting every one of us.  He knows the full extent of the harm of evil.  He knows of the death and the suffering and the sorrow.  He knows all about cruelty and torment and torture.  He knows.  And he says "Vengeance is mine."
He knows and he offers something better.  Not just better, but the best.  He offers Peace in the midst of turmoil, Rest for your soul, and Love like no other.  And if that isn't enough, he offers Hope in the most hopeless of circumstances.  He is the source of all that is Good and his love and salvation are free to every single person.  Each one of use can choose to live in His Love, wherein we can have Peace no matter what.
So, while my human, natural response is indignation, I know that as I feel this and many other difficult feelings, I can access God's Peace and Hope through prayer, Scripture reading, singing hymns and Psalms, and seeking fellowship with other Christians who offer love and support.
Does this sound too improbable to you?  I understand.  I have not always believed, and have traveled through skepticism, even anatagonism toward the Christian faith.  I understand that this may sound like an inadequate response to the magnitude of the horror of what has happened. 
I invite you to express your thoughts and feelings in the comments.  I encourage thoughtful, respectful discussion.  This isn't simple, easy or instant, but it is important.  In fact, it's vital.
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On a personal note (as if the preceding wasn't personal?!), I rejoice to report that my brother who lives and works in Boston was not in harm's way, and my niece who commutes into Boston on the T (subway) for classes was at home for the holiday as well.  Thanks be to God.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Things I want to share...

Hello, everyone!  Anyone?  I'm grateful if anyone is looking in on me anymore.  It has been a long dry desert season for me in the blog-posting department.  Let's just say it has been "the winter of my discontent".
Lately, I have been seeking inspiration to feed my soul.  I feel like I'm in a time of transition, and yet it isn't really clear to what I am transitioning.  Two of my children are away at college, and my third is in high school, and is deceptively self-sufficient.  So, the overly busy part of my life seems to have passed, and a couple of decades of "just getting by" really shows in my overall household management, as well as my personal health maintenance. 
I read once, that how well your personal organization really works will become evident when it is really tested.  Inefficiencies can be accomodated when you have more time than you realize, but can really trip you up when your life is a blur, (like when the babies come).  If you are disorganized when you are single and have relatively few responsibilities, things will really fall apart as you add responsibilities and commitments, unless you hone some skills along the way.  If you think you have systems that work, and you don't evaluate them objectively, and re-tool as needed, you may find that in the busy times, you'll abandon ineffective practices, and have to live with the consequences.  I have had years of being a slow learner. 
Don't get me wrong, a lot of what I have done to run my house and raise my family has worked, some things very well.  Other things, not so much.  And to be fair, most failures have not been due to lack of effort, keeping in mind that efforts that don't bring you to your goal, are in fact, ineffectual.  Clarity of thinking can help to assess futile efforts for insights for improvement.  I am reminded of Edison, who in trying to find the perfect material for the filament in a lightbulb, characterized the 2,000 or so materials that didn't work, not as failures, but as valuable insight into what does work.  Have you ever heard of "a series of successive approximations"?  This term is used to describe how an infant develops motor skills.  First efforts at reaching for a desired object that she sees are gross movements of the arm, flinging out the hand.  Soon she is batting at the object, and eventually she will begin to open her hand and try to grasp.  But with each attempt, the movement of her arm itself is more precise, with more directed and less wasted motion. 
If you are still reading at this point, it won't surprise you to know that I have been told that I am an analytic thinker.  But I didn't develop the theory of a series of successive approximations; it's just that when I learned of it, it gave body to an intuitive concept, and was a useful generalization for other goal-oriented processes.  It begs the question:  If it's so obvious that each attempt toward a goal should incorporate an improvement, then why do many of us find ourselves in a rut, making the same inadequate effort with the same unsatisfying result?  I contend that for the more complicated goals in life, it is because we must move from instinctual actions to intentional actions.  Broadly speaking, this has been called "Moving out of Your Comfort Zone".
So, the challenge before me is to identify the changes I'd like to see in my life, (set some goals), identify the actions I think will set me in the right direction, and then choose a time interval for evaluating the action and the result, and resolve to refine my efforts.  Whew, so much for spontaneity.
Besides being an analytic thinker, I am also a dreamer, a romantic, a wanderer, and so much of the time, I might be found contemplating my navel.  Okay, not really, but perhaps, watching too much TCM, while surfing the Internet.
Speaking of surfing the Internet, I started this post to share some links I have found interesting, so with that I will close.
I found this blog A New England Life,  when I was looking for information about a specific beach in Massachusetts (triggered by some particularly interesting genealogy research).  Not only do I appreciate this lady's photography, but I felt like I had found a treasure trove when I linked to other New England blogs on her blog roll.  It inspired in me a desire to work on my photography skills, as well as nagging to get more of my thrifting junk finds listed on etsy.
As a hedge against getting too matronly in my interests, I often become enchanted by the blogs of younger ladies.  Maine is the "oldest" state in the nation (meaning the average age of its residents is older than anywhere, yes, even Florida), and sometimes I feel like I could get lulled into an "old lady" lifestyle (oh wait, I think I have).  And I don't want to become staid and stuffy.
Not that I'm going to start wearing "skinny jeans" (not that I even have the figure for them, but even if I did, I'm just sayin') and high heels.  Or dying my hair anything other than to cover the gray at the temples, nor will I ever, ever, ever have any form of body art. (I'm just talking about me, people; if you have a tattoo, or piercings, that's entirely your own affair, and I'm not judging.)
I love coming across the blogs of young ladies who have a zest for life, and an appreciation for art an beauty.  I have been enjoying Marianne in Australia for quite some time, and you may have noticed her link on my blogroll (esme and the laneway).  More recently, I have discovered sweet Ami in the UK(aka The Little Tailoress) who blows me away with her sewing/tailoring skills, not to mention a lively serenity (seems like an oxymoron, doesn't it, but visit her, you'll see what I mean).
I always have an interest in hair, fashion and makeup.  Sometimes I worry that I might be too superficial, but then when I see a woman who is well-presented, who has taken care to groom and dress herself in a pleasant and stylish way, and whose demeanor is confident, vital and respectful to her audience, I can't help but think that a polished woman elevates her surrounding.  She can bring civility, and even graciousness to the atmosphere.  Isn't that what so may of us are drawn to?  Consider our attraction to Downton Abbey, anything Jane Austen, even Mad Men.  For myself, I would add any MGM musical.
In the last couple of days I have been enchanted by the videos on youtube of Judy of itsjudytime tv.  She does the most pleasant makeup and hair tutorials, I have watched many of them.  The pity is that I can use so little of her advice.  She is half my age, and has Asian skin and hair and eyes.  I think she said in one of the videos, that she is Filipino.  I am very fair-skinned with light hair and eyes.  Besides my very different coloring, which requires a completely different approach to keep me from looking overdone, my skin is older,  and putting on makeup is a fussier process, to avoid accentuating lines and wrinkles, etc..  As much as I hate the term age-appropriate, I 'm afraid it applies here.  But nonetheless, I find her very fun to watch.
That's all for today.  If we ever get any sunshine, I will be trying to get some Spring photos.  If it doesn't, I guess I'll just have to improvise!