Beacon Hill Doors

Recently, we found ourselves in Boston, on a layover; a few delicious hours to reunite with one of my favourite cities.

Not surprisingly, we gravitated toward Beacon Hill, where the low November sun added to the ambience – even though this shot was taken at 11:00 in the morning.

The pre-Thanksgiving (American) door decorations were bang on point. Natural, understated and elegant.

There were big doors… (love the reflections)9

… small doors …

… and the door of a famous author!

Did I mention it was chilly? As in, and downright cold? These little birdies had the right idea … soaking up the tiniest bit of heat from the sunny door step.

We took our cue from them, and popped into a warm and bustling corner coffee shop.

If you find yourself in this neighbourhood, drop in. The rest of the menu looked just as amazing as the pastries and coffee.

Linked to Norm’s Thursday Doors.

Academic Reflection

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it” – Edith Wharton

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One of the beautiful buildings surrounding Harvard Yard is reflected in a window of the Harvard Memorial Church.  The church stands at one end of the Yard, opposite the Widener Library – to dramatic effect.

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Photos were taken in 2014 as I wandered the grounds. I felt smarter just standing there!  And looking at these photos makes me feel it’s time for another visit.

WPC – Mirror

Road Trip Fun


Let’s take a road trip – just for the FUN of it!! Boston to Burlington. 

One the highlights of summer has to be the “road trip”. When I was a kid, all our vacations were road trips – usually while hauling a camper trailer. 

This week, I’m off with hubby on one of his business trips. And we decided, much to my delight, to make it into a little road adventure, by adding a road component to the commute. This road trip begins with plane ride (… Well, actually we did drive from home to the airport, so …).


Landing in Boston.


Picking up rental car. This was our second choice – the car assigned to us was sopping wet inside. Ewww!  Someone must have left the window down during  the car wash, or something. It was squishy!


Through the tunnel, and …

… Over the bridge.


Enduring an 8-lane highway into New Hampshire. Note the white knuckles!


This was a little easier. North through New Hampshire via I89 to Lebanon.  


We stopped at an information centre in White River Jct to pick up a road map. Road maps are old school, I know.  But I like them! Here, we saw a railway museum display. 


We carried on along the #4 Highway, west to the very pretty town of Woodstock. We stretched our legs and had a little look around.  This place might require another visit!


And found one of New England’s famous covered bridges in Woodstock. 


The #4 Highway took us to Killington (major ski resort) at the southern tip of the Green Mountain National Forest and then to Rutland, where we turned north along the #7 Highway . We had intended to drive through the Green Mountains, but somehow we missed that turn off. My driver does not like to retrace steps. 


That’s okay. The mountain views were pretty.


There were loads and loads (and loads!) of antique shops along the route.


It’s farm country.

Including many solar farms – large and small.  You can’t see it in this photo, but there were hundreds of solar panels at the solar farm. The photo was snapped while we whizzed by.  My driver doesn’t care to stop, either, apparently. 


But the sky brightened from time to time and I convinced said driver to take a wee break from the highway and skirt the shores of Lake Champlain.


We were rewarded with our own little covered bridge which we got to drive through.

All that “no stopping” and “no retracing” paid off. We arrived in Burlington in plenty of time to have walk (that was a long drive!!), and sit on a patio for dinner as the setting sun warmed the bricks of this lovely building across the street.

I see a glass of wine in our future … Or maybe a local cider. Yup!  Cider it is!

Cheers!

Waiting…

Winter is on my head,
But eternal spring is in my heart – Victor Hugo

20150116-110250-39770805.jpg The Victory Gardens in the Back Bay Fens is one of my favorite places to visit any time of year.

20150116-110543-39943512.jpgIn wintertime, it almost feels as though the ghosts of last summer are tending the little garden rooms ……. –

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20150116-110950-40190519.jpg. ……Until busy Spring starts hand out her list of chores.

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A Walk Around Boston in January

And this is good old Boston;
The home of the bean and the cod;
Where the Lowells talk only to Cabots;
And the Cabots talk only to God
– John Collins Bossidy

Arriving at Logan Airport around 9am, we were happy to see no snow on the ground – clear, dry sidewalks are just the thing when planning a day of walking. Thanks to the incredible tunnels under the city (The Big Dig) the taxi ride from airport to our hotel near Fenway Park took a mere 13 minutes – we arrived in time for breakfast (!!) before bundling up (it was SO cold!) and starting out.

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On the Boston Commons, this cheeky little squirrel climbed up my leg and made a swipe at my phone!

Through the theatre and business districts, we made our way to the waterfront. After walking for about three hours, we were very cold – too cold to think about take photos, apparently. We hardly saw another soul along the Waterfront Walk – the very opposite of summertime, when throngs of tourists rule.

The bartender at the Union Oyster House correctly pointed out that although it might be chilly, 20F is better than 19F. (That -7C ish, but it was the wind chill that was doing us in!).

Even though we have passed by the restaurant many times before, today we stopped into the famous Union Oyster House for a beer, and oh yeah, a little calamari. Mmmm! That helped to warm us up!

20150115-185744-68264400.jpg The UOH lays claim to being the oldest restaurant in America, dating from 1826 (the building from 1704), and to being a favorite haunt of J.F. Kennedy. In January, the tourists were replaced by locals, and we loved listening to the lively banter between customers and the wait staff.

Nicely warmed up and with full bellies, we wandered out again and into the TD Centre in search of a Bruins jersey for my father who is a life long fan. Success! A birthday gift for his 75th. Perfect!

I ask you, what is a visit to Boston, without a ramble through Beacon Hill? A wasted visit, I’d say.

20150115-192156-69716730.jpg This neighborhood is just soooo charming – a credit to built heritage preservation.

Next, it was a wander through the Public Gardens. The stunning architecture of winter trees take centre stage, where green planting hold court in summer. And where …

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20150115-193255-70375196.jpg … We saw the sculpture dedicated to the 1941 children’s book “Make Way for Ducklings” by Robert McCloskey. The teacher in me loved that a kid’s book is honoured in this way :).

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Then back to Fenway, along Commonwealth Avenue. Strolling along this gracious avenue, a girl could be forgiven if she was reminded of the boulevards of Paris.

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(If it wasn’t so cold, that is! Did I mention that it was cold?)
The architecture lining both sides of the avenue is very French. I adore walking through neighborhoods at dusk, basking in the welcoming glow from lit windows, inventing narritives. my head was constantly on a swivel.

From here it was back to our own cozy (warm) hotel room and a glass of chianti.

In spite of occasionally complaining of the cold (our faces were absolutely ruddy when we returned to the room), I recommend visiting Boston in January. Winter offers a completely different perspective on this city. I loved it. After all, I am Canadian – I really should be more comfortable in the cold.

A Tale of Two Cities

Most Christmas stories don’t begin with a tragic explosion, but the tale of the Boston Christmas Tree does.
During WW1, the port city of Halifax, NS (my hometown) was an important naval point of departure for both men and supplies enroute to Europe. On Dec. 6, 1917 a fully loaded French munitions ship broke its mooring, and drifted, colliding with another ship at the narrowest point in the harbour. The resulting explosion, the largest man-made explosion to that time, flattened the north end of the city, killing 2000 and injuring 9000. Halifax was devastated.
The people of Boston received the news immediately via telegraph, and quickly dispatched medical personnel and supplies as well as food and water. A train arrived just 2 days later.
This generous effort has remained a part of the fabric of Nova Scotia’s history. And every year the people of our province send a Christmas Tree to the people of Boston in recognition and thanks.
This year my family & I are in Boston for a few days before Christmas, so the first thing we all wanted to see was The Boston Christmas Tree.
A gift that recognizes goodness in the human spirit.
Wishing you all the very Happiest of Holidays!!

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Photography 101 – Highlights

One photo, every day!  This was such an interesting exercise.  It’s one thing to point a click when I see something I like and want to record, but the challenge came in focusing on a specific theme every day.

Like “Swarm”.

When I read the assignment, the first thing that came to mind was, of course, bees…..or atleast some insects.  But this is November and all those guys are tucked away.  I certainly did not expect to find a “swarm” in an art gallery exhibit.  But, voila!  There it was.

And that is what I have taken from this workshop.  It’s all about keeping my eyes (and my mind) OPEN. 🙂

I’ve gathered a few of my favourite photos here, taken this month.  But I am very happy to report that I did manage to rise to the challenge every day….even the weekends. It was fun!

Thanks for coming along with me.

Sweet September

Adieu September! Parting is such sweet sorrow. Or something like that.

September is the traditional harvest month – a time of bounty and a time to reap the results of lots of hard work. This September has been particularly generous to me.

My kids were satisfactorily settled into university, some much-needed house maintenance was finished, the garden ripened, and the grapes grew sweet – all under a glorious September sun. And I got to travel!! My role as Side-Kick Traveller has been kicked into overdrive for the past few weeks taking me to Boston, Toronto and Ottawa.

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Three whole days in Boston!  I attended (at this ripe old age) my very first professional baseball game. In Fenway Park!! Sweet Caroline!! I was serenaded in the middle of the Back Bay Fens Victory Garden by a young man who was perched high up on a branch of an ancient willow tree. It was an amazing and unexpected moment. From there, I stumbled upon the Historic South End – an exquisite neighbourhood of stately Georgian architecture and graceful tree-lined streets framed with boutique shops and cafés. Another huge highlight was a visit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Mueum….a very special kind of museum. Trying to view this unique museum from Mrs Gardner’s perspective has given me a whole new way of looking things. It was profoundly moving.
Toronto, where our hotel happen to be right across the street from the home of the Canadian Opera Company. And it just so happened that I was able to wander across at lunch time to enjoy a free concert by the incredible Micheal Shand Trio. (You should check him out. Jazz, baby!!) The light filled venue, with its floor to ceiling glass walls overlooking a very alive University Avenue (just teeming with pedestrians and vehicles) so perfectly suited the music that the result was pure magic! How lucky I am to have found this!

And Ottawa! Oh lovely Ottawa! It’s a bit like revisiting an old friend – paying homage to  perennial favourite spots like the National Gallery of Canada, Parliament Hill, Ikea (!), and our favourite restaurant. But exploring new territory is the theme and that’s what we did.

Following the recreational trail which runs along the Ottawa River, we walked in the shadow of the Parliament Buildings, across the locks of the Rideau Canal, through Major’s Hill Park, across the Alexandra Bridge to Gatineau, Quebec and stopped by the Museum of Civilization to reflect on the power of the river’s current and enjoy the view of the skyline. Cue the sound of Canadian Geese.  We carried on westward along the riverbank to Victoria Island where we crossed back to Ottawa via Pont du Portage, where we made another happy discovery…the Mill Street Brewpub. Then back along the trail to where we started behind the Supreme Court of Canada building…just a hop, skip and a jump back to the hotel. The walk took a little over an hour, at a brisk pace. What a way to see this quintesential Canadian place!  I loved this walk so much, I did it each of the three days we were there.

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In addition to these working trips, we took a short holiday to Prince Edward Island where we rented bicycles and took a spin on the Confederation Trail. (See my earlier post to find out how that turned out!). We followed up by spending a weekend with a couple of friends exploring  some of our own local trails. It feels so good, so empowering, so freeing (if a little tender in spots) to be back on our bikes!! Sunshine, picnics, friends and kilometres of trails…..bliss! I see much more of this sort of thing in my future.

That’s not all! After 10 years of tending our little vineyard on the North Atlantic Coast, we welcomed a local winemaker to see if we are on the right track or not. It felt like taking a major final exam. The result? A passing grade with honours, thank you very much! And an invite to join the local wine growers association. Now if I can just keep the grapes safe from the deer, raccoons and birds for the next couple of weeks until the harvest……

What a month it has been!! Every single day has been extraordinary! On top of it all, we managed, somehow, to paint the exterior trim of our house (a huge relief – it really needed it), a little bit of teaching (September tends not to be super busy for substitutes), and we celebrated our youngest son’s 19th birthday.

So, thank you September! I know that the memories made with you will last and the opportunities given this month will make way for new adventures.

Now, into the garden to harvest and get ready for winter.

Thinking about Boston…..

My Dears,

Tomorrow, April 15, marks one year since the Boston Bombings.  The mainstream media are winding up now to review the horror of that terrible event and discuss the fallout.

That has gotten me thinking about Boston – that buzzy town that has so much going on.  I’ve visited several times, most recently a month ago, and spent a chunk of that time in and around the famous Copley Square area.  I’d like to share with you some enriching and inexpensive things to do and see there.

If you have two feet and enjoy walking around cities as I do, you can start your tour at Copley Square (FREE).  We already know that the finish line of the Boston Marathon is there (has been since 1986). Named for the artist, John Singleton Copley, it is a lively spot filled most days with students, folks taking a break from work, and tourists (like me). Twice a week between May and November, the square is filled with the stalls, sights and smells of a farmer’s market.  Just the spot to pick up some fresh flowers for your hotel room (CHEAP) and maybe some picnic stuffs (CHEAP & LOCAL!).  And, did you know that the square is surrounded by an outstanding number of archetectural works?  It is!  Trinity Church (c1877), the Old South Church (c1873), The John Hancock Tower (c1977) and the Boston Public Library (c1895)…. to name a few.  

Speaking of the Boston Public Library, here’s a gem you just shouldn’t miss.  Admission is FREE.  The library is the second oldest publicly funded library in the US. You can tag along on a guided Art & Architecture Tour (FREE), or explore on your own.  But whatever you do, don’t miss the open-air courtyard.  I bet you’ll be temped to pick up a coffee, sit in the quiet sunshine…and tap into the library’s wifi and catch up a bit, as I did.  Check out http://www.blp.org to find out about tour schedules as well as find dates and times for (FREE) open-air concerts in the courtyard!  Does it get any better?

Copley Square is boarded along one side by Boylston Street.  And one street over is Newbury Street.  Both streets are terriffic for shopping, either actually…or window shopping.  I walked up one and down the other.  Everything from upmarket brands, to boutiques, to art galleries, to restaurants, pubs & coffee shops.

 

All in all, a delightful, easy walk with tons to see and do.  All in a very small corner of Boston.  I’ll tell you of some other favourite spots another day.  But for now, while the world is dwelling on the sadness of a year ago…..consider visiting the area.  It has SO much good to offer!

Cheers for now,

 

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