Category Archives: Massachusetts

Sunshine & Fireworks

Well I hope you all had a restful and fun July 4th holiday. It felt weird having a random day off in the middle of the week, but naturally I wasn’t complaining! Things got off to a dreary start here though – the weather’s been lovely in our area, until yesterday of course. Torrential rain was on the menu all morning, I thought it would never stop – I think it constituted the wettest July 4th I’ve ever experienced in all my years here. At least it gave me a chance to catch up on some chores in the morning after the gym.

But miraculously it decided to stop early afternoon, and then it was intermittently sunny. So it was off to the park with a book for some fresh air. I haven’t been doing too much reading for fun these days, so it was really nice to be able to just spend some time buried in a book, and I actually managed to finish it. Hopefully it won’t be to long before I get to start another one.

I braved our local fireworks display too. Good Lord, I have never seen so many cars and people in the town in all the years I’ve lived here. It was mayhem. I drove around for over half an hour trying to park, to no avail. Then as I was trying to regroup, turn around, and head home, I drove along a street that led to an apartment complex, & lo and behold caught some great views of the fireworks by accident. I managed to park along the side of the road in the complex & set up my tripod, so I was very happy that my trip wasn’t wasted.

Then came the hard bit.

Trying to get home in the traffic!

Goodbye June

Well I hope July is a little less chaotic, that’s all I can say.

June took a nosedive as the 2nd week began. I knew it was going to be busy – I had a work-related trip to Fort Collins, Colorado. My annual exam committee meeting where we put together the certifying exam for the specialty field in which I work. It’s always a 3-day weekend fraught with angst – long days cooped up indoors at the vet school while we debate what should or shouldn’t make it onto the exam. But it was fruitful, as always. And also really nice to once again catch up with the great folk who make up the committee. This is all voluntary work, so you can imagine it tends to attract more benevolent and less egotistical folk! Always a bonus when you’re trying to gather collective opinions.

As if that wasn’t stressful enough, over that same weekend I began to experience some similar symptoms to what I’d experienced last year. The acid feeling. After a few days, I decided to take some Prilosec. Ye Gods…..the cure was worse than the disease!

I took it for 4 days and couldn’t handle the side effects. I was nauseous, headache-ridden, groggy, and ridiculously tired (even when driving – not good). So I stopped, and felt much better the next day. However, a couple of days later, I developed the most horrendous rebound acid imaginable. I’ve heard about this in relation to folk who’ve taken the drug long-term, but didn’t expect it to hit me after 4 days.

Fast forward about 10 days, and I’m now beginning to emerge from the acid bath! Things are much better now, so hopefully that’ll continue. I’ve read that it can take a month in most cases (longer for some) for things to settle down. Meanwhile I’m taking care about what I eat and drink. I’ve been off coffee for 3 weeks now, and I’m mostly restricted to either water or chamomile tea for drinks. And being a staunch coffee drinker, you can imagine the chamomile tea isn’t cutting it for me! I only drink decaf usually, but even that is quite acidic, so needs to be avoided. Mealtimes are highly exciting – oatmeal, wholewheat bread, egg whites, chicken and brown rice, bananas, and melons have become my staples. All of these I eat anyway, but usually I get to have other things too! But not right now in this new phase of acid reflux……

Apart from the burning……we’ve had some nice stormy weather here in between the hot days (that I despise so much). I love stormy weather – not only for the cool relief it brings me, but for the great skies it brings too.

Work has been too busy, lots of deadlines that have left me working evenings and weekends. So I have to get creative when the weather is nice. Last weekend I decided to take the laptop to Starbucks (with my chamomile tea) up in Bedford, north of Boston. I worked for much of the day there, and took an hour or so off before heading home, and meandered around Minuteman Park since the weather was beautiful.

Oh, and on a fun note, I got to play the Queen in a skit we put on at work earlier this month! It was hysterical, a big group of us did it in honor of a fellow vet who was leaving our division after being there for 12 years. To say we made fools of ourselves is an understatement, but she did enjoy it!

I hope June has been less eventful for you! Here’s to a more peaceful July.

 

Memorial Day Thanks from Boston Common

If, like me, you’re privileged enough to have a day off today, it’s because of the sacrifices of members of our Armed Forces who died serving their country.

May their service and sacrifice never be forgotten.

We have a beautiful Memorial Day tribute in Boston right now. For the 2nd year running, a garden of flags blankets the ground in front of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Flagstaff Hill on the Common.

33,000 flags are currently planted, in honor of Massachusetts’ servicemembers who’ve died in conflicts dating back to the Civil War.

It’s simply breathtaking to see.

The flags were planted last Wednesday and will remain there until tonight.

I also paid a visit to our local Massachusetts Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery to say a small thanks to those who rest there.

Be sure to thank a servicemember today.

How Did We Get To May?

Unbelievable, we’re a third of the year in! Feels like only yesterday I was in Yosemite…..and that was Christmas.

Well I finally laid the long, stressful project to rest, a few days after my last post. That was a huge relief, and it certainly reduced my stress levels no end. I stopped feeling like I was owned by the company. And I gradually began to get my usual routine back again. Over the 4 weeks that I worked on their project, I pretty much gave up my most-days gym routine. That was suicidal, exercise is a big stress reliever for me, so not having that release certainly affected my mental well-being. But I really just couldn’t afford the hour and a half away from the computer each night.

So it’s been nice getting back into my routine again, and I even decided to change gyms. I’d previously used the local YMCA. It’s a lovely center, but I tire of fighting my way through there each night with the ridiculous number of kids kicking around. So I switched to another nearby gym that is owned by a physical therapy office that I used a few years ago. they’ve recently relocated their gym to a huge new center, and it’s fabulous. They gave me a free 7-day pass to start with, so I got to test drive it out, and I love it. So that’s it, final decision, I’m switching. And it’s quiet too – no screaming kids to battle with like at the YMCA!

The past couple of weeks have been quite rainy here – nothing unusual for New England though! I decided to go for a walk one evening the week before last, after the gym, and just as I got to the park, it started raining again. That’s when I saw the rainbow.

I’m not kidding, I’ve never seen such a perfect rainbow, it was mesmerizing. And then as the sun went down a little more, the sky just looked lovely!

Last weekend was busy for me. I’d been contracted by a medical news company to attend a medical conference in Boston and write 10 news articles for them, on some interesting studies that were being presented there. It was a pediatric medical conference – the first time I’d ever attended this particular conference – and I gained some insight into how claustrophobia feels for folk affected by it! There were over 8,000 attendees, it was ridiculous! People everywhere. And on Saturday when I arrived, I’d only just sat down and was enjoying a coffee and a cookie while I went through my abstracts book to get my bearings on what room I needed to be in first, and an alarm started sounding, telling us to evacuate. It peeped loudly for over an hour, on and off, but they did keep using a loud-speaker in addition, telling us not to evacuate. Not a very peaceful first hour though….

But anyway, all in all, it went well over Saturday and Sunday. And thankfully we had beautiful weather on those 2 days at least, so that made my commute into town a lot easier. But I did feel a little exhausted on Monday, I must admit, since I didn’t have any time off at all.

I did start up another project on Monday, but finished it today, and am now officially off until Monday. I was determined to have a day and a half off this weekend, especially since we’re due sunshine tomorrow!

So now it’s time to get back to the sofa.

And maybe a glass of wine and some ice cream.

In Like a Lion

They say March comes in like a lion…….whomever they are, they’re not kidding in our part of the world. Probably by way of punishment for having had a ridiculously mild winter, we’re in the middle of a couple of days of heavy snow here. It’s lovely though – well, it is for me, since I’m a snow lover. But it’s definitely a pain when it comes to my hour-long commute.

I can’t believe it’s the end of the week again, although I feel as if I say that every week right now. I’m still too busy, but good busy – another couple of clients added to the mix for my freelance business in the past couple of weeks, so that made me happy.

Last weekend was quiet, but nice. We didn’t really do anything eventful. Mark was came off a 24 hour duty at noon on Saturday, so he just came home and slept the remainder of the day until I dragged him out of bed for dinner around 8pm! That was quite a mission getting him to come downstairs, but I knew he’d probably just wake up in the middle of the night if I left him, and then his body clock would’ve been all “off”.

Sunday was quiet too, we just did some chores, a supermarket run, and watched some soccer, and the day was over before we knew it.

And here we are again!

Otherwise, my neighbors downstairs continue to be the bain of my existence. They’ve had multiple warnings from the apartment leasing office, but continue to blast their music and yell all the time. So rude, and it’s an every day occurrence. Every once in a while I could turn a blind eye, but not most nights. So I got creative, and spent some time over the past week recording the noise level from them in my apartment. I forwarded a bunch of recordings attached to an email to the leasing office today, so I’m waiting to see what that’s going to bring……

 

Ashby, MA

A while ago I came across a couple’s blog that was dedicated to visiting all of the 351 towns in Massachusetts (or maybe “municipalities – cities and towns, but not villages” is a better term). Given how I already love nothing more than jumping in the car and visiting somewhere new aroundabout New England whenever I have some free time, I decided it would be fun to make a pointed effort to gradually check off all the towns myself. One day when I get some down time, I’ll have to list them all on here somewhere, and start a new page or category, or something……one day….

Anyways, after morning coffee, today brought a jaunt “up north” to the town of Ashby. It’s only 30 or so miles north of me, and was quite a nice drive since I took some of the back roads rather than just the highway. I love these little towns – they tend to have the obligatory town common, inclusive of pretty white church, like only New England can make!

This one is First Parish Church, built in 1809 to serve as the town’s meetinghouse. The obelisk-style monument in the foreground is a dedication to John Fitch, an early settler in Ashby, and the town’s first moderator.

And let’s not forget the cute little bandstand. Complete with Christmas tree and decorations to nicely commemorate the festive season.

Just behind the church was an amazing little cemetery. It’s also known as the “Old Burial Ground”, and for good reason, since it was established back in 1767. Wonderful old slate headstones – and I so love how they look when they’ve gathered decades (or even centuries) of moss!

Some fun facts about Ashby? Apparently it was the home of Ruth Henshaw Bascom, America’s premier folkartist and portraitist. And there’s also Prince Estabrook, an enslaved African-American patriot who gained his emancipation due to his service to the Continental Army. And incidentally, he’s also buried in the old graveyard above – he was wounded in the Battle of Lexington.

And across from the bandstand, there’s also a nice memorial dedicated to all veterans.

The day started out rainy, snowy, grey, and overcast, and then suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, we had bursts of bright blue sky and sunshine here and there. So that felt good!

On the way home I needed some coffee, and this formed a great excuse to catch a beautiful sunset.

It was nice to get home again eventually. And by 7pm I found myself enjoying a nice glass of red wine.

I felt like I deserved it for coping with Mark! That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

So it’s Christmas Eve today – I’m heading down to CT with Mark. We’re visiting his aunt and uncle in Stamford, so I’m looking forward to meeting them before we fly out west on Christmas day.

Hope you all have a restful day with those who mean the most to you.

Worcester’s Bancroft Tower

Today was a beautiful day in our little metropolis, so after the gym, and then a trip to see some friends this morning, it was time for coffee and a chilly, 23 degrees, winter walk. So I headed off to Bancroft Tower in nearby Worcester.

I’ve lived in this area since 2005, and believe it or not, never knew this place existed until late 2009 when I found a random mention of it online. It’s close to where I live, only about seven miles away, and I visited it for the first time in January 2010. Today I decided to check it out again since it was such a beautiful day for photographing stuff outside.

As you can imagine, there’s a bit of a story behind the tower – it was built in 1900 by Stephen Salisbury III in honor of his friend George Bancroft. Bancroft was born at the bottom of the hill where the tower is located, and during his life he held the posts of Secretary of the Navy and US Minister to GB and Germany. Additionally he was the Founder of the US Naval Academy.

Haven’t been up there for quite a while, and I’m glad I did today. A few other folk seemingly had the same idea – there were dog walkers out and about, as well as some folk who clearly just wanted to hang out and enjoy some peaceful time up there.

It’s amazing to see this place – it sits on top of a hill in a residential area in the town, and there are houses literally on either side of it. What a lovely building to have as a neighbor! I suppose it’s the closest thing to a castle that we have in our state.

And I have to admit that I have a real penchant for bright blue winter skies! You can’t beat them when it comes to photography. It really was a perfect winter day.

Old Glory

Today I caught up on some Christmas shopping. Now I hate shopping in general, so that thought never makes me feel happy! But the good thing is that I no longer buy Christmas presents for all and sundry like I used to do. In previous years, as Christmas approached, it was a nightmare for me. I’d be shopping for so many friends here & their kids, as well as family and friends (& more kids) back in the UK. As if the shopping alone wasn’t stressful enough for me, having to find boxes to mail everything within this country as well as internationally, was just ulcerating. Not to mention the ridiculous cost involved.

So two years ago I reached boiling point, I’d had enough. I’d have to start my holiday shopping in October so I could collect everything in advance, and I was beginning to grow into the world’s biggest humbug. So I contacted everyone (except for my sister and parents, and one close friend here), and alerted them to the fact that I was no longer going to be sending presents, but instead would be donating.

I tell you, it was a huge relief, both psychologically and financially. Now my holiday shopping is relatively stress-free.

So today I spent a couple of hours collecting the majority of the gifts that I needed for this year, so I think I’m all set now – just have to wrap them and package them up for mailing. In addition to gathering some presents for my sister, I also collected her some Christmas decorations to send her in advance. She loves the holiday stuff that we have over here this time of year, so I picked up some fun things for her to decorate her home with.

Afterwards I celebrated by hitting the nearby Dunkin’ Donuts to grab a coffee! I never need an excuse to go for coffee, especially this time of year while their seasonal pumpkin and gingerbread flavors are out. I just can’t get enough of those in my coffee, and they’re especially delicious in lattes.

And it was such a beautiful afternoon that I decided to take my coffee on a little jaunt around nearby West Boylston. I love the Old Stone Church there, an old baptist church. It sits on Wachusett Reservoir in the town & dates back to the early 1890s when it was built to replace an earlier baptist church that had been destroyed in a fire.

Only 10 years later, it had to be abandoned for the reservoir. But because it was built of stone and was clearly an attraction, the townsfolk persuaded the commonwealth to let it stay.

It stands alone on a point of land by the side of the water, & was eventually declared a National Landmark in 1973. This wall of the church faces the highway & its huge flag highlights its presence in no uncertain terms to passing drivers. I’ve never been able to find any information regarding the history of placing the flag here though. But it’s quite a sight to see.

With the shorter days on board now, it wasn’t long before the sun began setting. The sky had started to cloud over mid-afternoon, and as the sun was setting, it cast some lovely texture into the sky.

A perfect end to a productive day!

Sleepy Hollow

Today I headed out to Concord for an afternoon visit. We’ve been lucky enough to have had some lovely bright, sunny days over the past couple of weekends, especially after the snowstorm 3 weekends ago. So I’ve been trying to make the most of the opportunities to be out and about.

Concord is beautiful, and also a very historic region in general – and that includes literary history. It’s just outside Boston, and takes me about 40 minutes to drive there, so it’s easy enough for me to get to. Today I hit Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in the town. No relation to Washington Irving or “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” though!

Sleepy Hollow is Concord’s largest cemetery, designed in 1855, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  The cemetery houses about 10,000 graves that have local, national and international interest.

One of its most visited areas is Author’s Ridge, and that’s where I headed today. This hill is the final resting place of some real literary giants – the Hawthornes, Thoreaus, Alcotts, and Emersons, as well as the lesser-known poet Ellery Channing. Interestingly, it was actually Ralph Waldo Emerson who gave the dedication speech at the cemetery’s inauguration ceremony in 1855.

I think Louisa May Alcott is my favorite of the authors, mostly because I remember reading her book “Little Women” at school, so it was quite surreal seeing her grave. Apparently she was also a Union Army nurse during the Civil War, something I hadn’t known before today.

Emerson’s gravesite is quite stunning – the marker is a huge, uncarved quartz boulder!

Something that I found interesting was that there were many family lots, including those of the Thoreaus and Alcotts. And I’ve never seen just “Father” or “Mother” inscribed on headstones before now – that was a first for me. Very simple dedications on many of the stones around the cemetery.

Even though there were a few other visitors to the Ridge while I was there, it was very quiet overall. Quite a peaceful experience just meandering around looking at the interesting stones.

And the colors were just lovely too – very “fall in New England”!

It was definitely well worth the trip to Sleepy Hollow, and for any of you who are bibliophiles, or even if you just love a bit of historical interest, this place is a “must” if you’re in the Boston region.

And who couldn’t love the name of the place!?

 

An Afternoon On The Common

Friday was a gorgeous day here. In the afternoon I managed to finish work early and headed into Boston for a couple of hours. The bright blue sky was just too much of an opportunity to miss out on, so I threw my camera bag over my shoulder and risked life and limb on the subway with the other screaming hordes, hopping a couple of stops across the river to Boston Common. I can thoroughly recommend a visit if you’re in the city – it’s a public park slap bang in the center of town, surrounded by all that Boston’s crazy traffic has to offer!

Emerging from Park Street Station on the Common is always somewhat thought-provoking – it’s actually America’s first subway station. The park itself is also the oldest city park in the country, dating back to 1634. Way back then it used to be a place where cows were put out to pasture. Then before the Revolutionary War it was used as a camp for British soldiers. And even up until as late as 1817, it was a site for public hangings.

These days it’s free of cows, soldiers, and gallows, and instead is the site of all kinds of fun things like concerts, pumpkin festivals, and ice skating. It was eventually declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

On the northeast corner of the Common stands the Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial. It serves in particular as a memorial to the first African Americans to fight in the Civil War. The 54th was the first African American regiment in the north – a volunteer infantry regiment.

Robert Gould Shaw was a colonel in command of the 54th which entered the war in 1863. He was sadly killed in the Second Battle of Fort Wagner, near Charleston, South Carolina.

It was such a lovely afternoon, I was so glad I was able to grab some time out and head into Boston for some photo opportunities. I don’t get into Boston for fun as often as I’d like – I really should make more of an effort to visit, especially since I only work in Cambridge.

I have more photos from Friday’s spree anyway, so I’ll dig them out and share some more of my visit with you.

Boston has so much history and culture to offer 🙂