2019 Life Logs, Day 302: New Bedford Historical Tour

2019 Life Logs, Day 302: New Bedford Historical Tour
Date: Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Weather: Overcast with Some Drizzle; High 61, Low 47 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA
The historical tour of New Bedford, Massachusetts, today was so very interesting. Every summer many tourists who drive from New York, Connecticut, or Rhode Island to Cape Cod, pass by New Bedford on the highway, but most don’t stop. I have driven to New Bedford to take the Goldpebbles to the Whaling Museum a few times and I have gone to Zeiterion Theater, but I have never driven through the historic streets. I had no idea they were there. I knew that New Bedford was the whaling capitol of the world in the mid-1800’s, but I knew little else. So today was a true eye opener for me.

We started our day with an hour and half tour of the historic neighborhoods led by Preservation Society guide, Bruce Barnes. He was a wealth of information on types of architecture, on the role of the Quakers in establishing the whaling industry while also offering a safe haven for runaway slaves through the Underground Railroad, and the barons of the textile industry. We saw the home that is now the New Bedford Historical Society. It is an unremarkable structure with a remarkable history. It was once the home of Nathan and Mary “Polly” Johnson, African-American entrepreneurs, who allowed their home to be used as an important stop on the Underground Railroad. Frederick Douglas and his wife Anna lived in the Johnson home at 21 Seventh Street. Abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison, also lived in this house for a period of time.

Stops were made at the Quaker Friends Meeting House, at the home where “the richest woman in the world” lived in the Gilded Age in the late 1800’s. Henrietta Howland Greene was a shrewd businesswoman and also known as the “witch of Wall Street.”

We saw the home of William Rotch Rodman that was known as the grandest home in New England and visited the the home and gardens of William Rotch, Jr. There were many other stops, but one of our last was at William J. Rotch Gothic Cottage. It is a National Historic Landmark as it was seen as one of the most outstanding examples of American Gothic Revival architecture when it was built. The Quaker Rotch family came to New Bedford from Nantucket and were instrumental in establishing the New Bedford whaling industry.

After our walking tour through the historic district, we walked downtown to the National Park Visitor Center. There we watched the film, The City That Lit the World, learning about the whaling industry. “In January of 1841, a young Herman Melville boarded the whaleship Acushnet, and left the port of New Bedford bound for the distant Pacific Ocean. At 21, Melville was beginning a voyage that he would later drawn on for several novels of seafaring life, including the American classic, Moby-Dick.” Melville spent 18 months on the Acushnet, learning to be a whaler. In Moby-Dick, he wrote of his character Ishmael, “ . . . a whale ship was my Yale College and my Harvard.” After the film, Park Ranger Rufai Shardow, originally from Ghana, gave us a wonderful overview of the role of slavery, the abolitionists and whaling in New Bedford’s history.

We ended our tour by walking across a cobblestone street from the Visitor Center to Freestones City Grill for lunch.Freestones was once one of the 19 banks it took to handle all of the money made in New Bedford from the whaling industry at its peak. Wonderful day. And I will definitely return to New Bedford to learn more.

2019 Life Logs, Day 273: Happy Birthday to Heather

2019 Life Logs, Day 273: Happy Birthday to Heather
Date: Monday, September 30, 2019
Weather: Overcast; High 72, Low 63 degrees F
Location: Aboard Merganser, Pier 3 Marina, Philadelphia, PA

Happy birthday to my baby girl. Well, not quite a baby anymore, but she will always be in my eyes. I got a phone call from her this evening and she reported that she had an absolutely lovely day.

Kevin flew to LA in the wee hours of the morning for a business meeting and will be back in tomorrow morning. So, Claire took Lynne and I on an all day historic tour of old town Philadelphia. According to Lynne’s FitBit, we walked 17,280 steps or 8.15 miles today. Whew! It was quite a walking tour. We hit all of the historic places in old town starting with Ben Franklin’s grave stone in the Christ Church Burial Ground. It is just a huge granite slab covered with pennies that people shower upon it. It was ironic when we ended the day in the Ben Franklin US Post Office. In between those two Ben Franklin landmarks, we walked by the Quaker Meeting House, the US Mint, the National Constitution Center, and the Independence Visitor Center. It was late morning by this time and we wanted to make an appointment to see Independence Hall. We were told that the first reservation available for a tour was at 3 pm, but we had much more we wanted to see, so that time was fine. We walked on to see the Declaration House display and then walked to China Town, and on to visit the Reading Market, one of the largest and oldest public markets in the country. We walked through what is now Macy’s, but was once Wannamaker’. There we saw the largest fully functioning pipe organ in the world as well as the bronze Philadelphia Eagle. We walked in and around the Philadelphia City Hall which is quite an impressive structure, and then we walked on toward Rittenhouse Square which is the heart of the city’s most expensive and exclusive neighborhood. We were all getting hungry but not sure where to eat when Claire literally looked up and saw a sign that said, “Organic Plant-Based Food.” We couldn’t resist and had a great lunch. It was nearing the time of our Independence Hall tour and there just wasn’t enough time to walk back, so Claire called an Uber and we were there in minutes. The Independence Hall tour was definitely the highlight of the day. We had a great guide who showed us the West Wing which served as a Court complete with a juror’s box and a defendant’s box where the defendant had to stand during the trial . . . thus the term ‘stand trial’. In the East Wing we got to see the room where the Founding Fathers wrote both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. As we walked back toward the waterfront, we ended our tour by walking through the place where Ben Franklin once lived and visited the US Post Office that bears Franklin’s name. It was a wonderful day.

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Tonight we visited aboard ‘Knock on Wood’, the boat owned by Chris and Georgette that we met last night. We had another fun evening together with Lynne and I telling boat stories. It has been so much fun for us to be staying aboard a sailboat once again. More tomorrow.

2019 Life Logs, Day 271: Another Soccer Saturday

2019 Life Logs, Day 271: Another Soccer Saturday
Date: Saturday, September 28, 2019
Weather: Another Beautiful Day; High 74, Low 52 degrees F
Location: At Home in the Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

It was another soccer Saturday. I didn’t get to see Ollie play today because his game was at the same time as Jonah’s, but Ollie reported that he made all four goals in his scrimmage, a ‘hat trick’ to rival Jonah’s from a couple of weeks ago. He was very proud. Jonah and Sam both played tough games today. Neither of their teams won, but they played hard. Sam always plays defense and Jonah switches from goalie to forward to defense. Slowly, I am learning more about the game and I do really enjoy watching them play. Neither of their teams have more than a couple of kids on the bench, which means they have to play the entire game with only a couple of rests. Sam now plays on a much larger field, so lots of running and harder for me to get close-up photos. But today I got one of Sam throwing the ball in and one kicking the ball. Even though Jonah was wearing a head band at this coach’s insistence, he’s is still the wild-haired kid on the field. Such a contrast to his good buddy Luke with his black hair.

Tomorrow I am off to Philadelphia. I lived in Philadelphia for a year when I first got out of college, but I don’t think I ever toured the town. I remember driving by Independence Hall while I lived there, but not touring. A few years later Mark and I visited Philadelphia and went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. So I am looking forward to going there to visit with Kevin and Claire, meet up with Lynne Kirwin, and see the city as a tourist. It should be fun and the weather looks cooperative.

2019 Life Logs, Day 196: Justin, Jo, Ziggy, and Coco Arrive

2019 Life Logs, Day 196: Justin, Jo, Ziggy, and Coco Arrive
Date: Monday, July 15, 2019
Weather: Sunny; High 88, Low 63 degrees F
Location: At Home in the Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

Jet Blue offers an easy, non-stop, four-hour flight from San Juan to Boston. Justin, Jo, Ziggy, and Coco took advantage of that and arrived in Boston at 6:30 pm this evening. I picked them up at the airport and we stopped to get some dinner and food items we can’t get here in Falmouth at a Whole Foods located on the way home. Once here, Ziggy demonstrated a few of his inventions that he brought with them and let his special robot show off a bit. When it was time for bedtime reading, Coco cracked us up with her comment about the difference between herself and Ziggy. She just pointed to their bedside tables and said, “There’s the difference.” Ziggy’s was filled with inventions and gadgets and Coco’s was filled with stuffed animals. I love the simplicity of six-year, almost seven-year old thinking. Heather and family had come over this afternoon just as I was getting ready to head to Boston to do a few things to get ready for the Puerto Rican side of the family. When we got home tonight, Ollie had posted signs around the house welcoming them to Cape Cod. Welcome, JJZ&C! Looking forward to a great week together.

2019 Life Logs, Day 151: From Nyack, NY to Dedham, MA and Then Home

2019 Life Logs, Day 151: From Nyack, NY to Dedham, MA and Then Home
Date: Friday, May 31, 2019
Weather: Partly Sunny; High 77, Low 58 degrees F
Location: Back Home in the Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

My visit with Lynne was wonderful, but this morning it was time to say my farewells and head to Boston. I got across the Tappan Zee Bridge with no problem, but then my GPS headed me in what I thought was the wrong direction. Then five miles later, it had me turn around and head back the same five miles. I carefully set my GPS before leaving Lynne’s, but I struggled with it all the way to Hartford, Connecticut. When I get a chance, I’m going to retrace the trip to see what happened, but even with the confusion, I arrived at Alan and Helaine’s new home in Dedham, near Boston, by 12:45 pm. They live in a Hebrew senior life center called Newbridge on the Charles. It is known as one of the most successful senior living centers in the country and is celebrating ten years of success this year. It is associated with the Harvard Medical School, has a variety of living situations—cottages, villas, apartments, independent living, assisted living, and continuing care. It has a K-8 school on the grounds, a fantastic central building that has restaurants, a state-of-the-art gym, an inside pool, a theater, meeting rooms, and an auditorium. And the Charles River runs through the grounds with nature walking paths alongside it. In fact, Helaine and I took off to walk on those paths having no idea where they headed. We enjoyed the walk and eventually we found our way back home. There’s even an area on the campus where residents can claim a raised bed to plant. I was quite impressed with what I will call the village and, in particular, I was impressed with Alan and Helaine’s cottage. Compared to my little cottage, it felt HUGE. It has vaulted ceilings and lots of tall windows making it light and airy. And most importantly, both Alan and Helaine already love their cottage and their new life at Newbridge. We had lunch in one of the restaurants and while there saw many people that Alan and Helaine have met. Everyone is friendly and the staff helpful. It is easy to see why Newbridge has been so successful. It was 5 o’clock on a Friday afternoon when I was ready to leave, not the best time to head south to Cape Cod, so I drove through Dedham to a shopping area that had both a Whole Foods and a Costco and did a little shopping while waiting for the rush hour traffic to calm down. From my little explore of the town, it seems it has unlimited shopping opportunities. In the future, I’ll drive to Dedham for my off-Cape shopping trips and include a visit with Alan and Helaine.

2019 Life Logs, Day 64:  Amazing Birthday

2019 Life Logs, Day 64:  Amazing Birthday
Date:  Tuesday, March 5, 2019
Weather:  Glorious Sunshine; High 29, Low 17 degrees F
Location:  At Home in the Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

As I left Heather and Jed’s tonight after a fabulous birthday dinner, I thanked the boys for a perfect birthday celebration.  Jonah stopped me right there and said, “Oma, nothing is perfect.  How about saying it was an amazing celebration?”  Okay.  I’ll buy that.  It was an amazing birthday.  Despite being only one-week into the recovery from knee surgery, with the help of friends and family, I really did have an amazing day.  Friends brought lunch here to the cottage and then we drove to the Woods Hole Library to see a viewing of the independent film, “Tea with the Dames.”  This was a delightful visit with Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins, and Joan Plowright where the audience is invited to ease drop as they reminisce and discuss their acting careers.  It was a perfect birthday film as these four British Dames truly show what it means to age gracefully.  Together, they are 342 years old, still going strong with lots of wit and wisdom to share.  On the way home, I was dropped off at Heather and Jed’s where the boys were busy preparing for Oma’s birthday dinner.  Artichokes, of course!  With gluten-free cupcakes decorated deliciously and beautifully by Heather and so many presents to open.  Homemade cards by Sam, Jonah, and Ollie, a couple of books, one by a favorite author, the other called “Educated” which looks very interesting, lighthouse earrings, a strawberry topper, kitchen scissors, and even a small ammonite fossil refrigerator magnet from Jed’s mother, Marti.  Thanks, Marti!  But my favorite gift is one that any mother would want to frame.  It is a dish towel from Heather that says, “OMG–My Mother was Right About Everything!”  Now I have proof!  I also got a birthday phone call from Justin, Jo, Ziggy, and Coco and a photo from my 60th birthday dinner with the Kanegsberg’s in New Zealand.  I do believe I’ve aged a bit since then.