Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site

The drive home from Vermont over Memorial Day weekend brought a fun stop at  the Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site. It’s a wee bit off the beaten path in Plymouth Notch, VT, so you’d really have to make a planned trip there, unless you happened upon it while being hopelessly lost!

But it’s a great little piece of history and makes for a really enjoyable visit.

Coolidge was the only American President to be born on Independence Day, and the only one to be sworn in by his father!

Here’s the house where he was born in 1872.

The Plymouth Cheese Factory opened by the President’s father in 1890.

The 1840 Union Christian Church – the church that the Coolidge’s attended. Their pew is marked by the flag.

This is the porch of the Coolidge family homestead – the rocking chairs where the President liked to relax. Rumor has it that he even made one of them himself.

What a great place to soak up some history!

Do stop by it if you are up in the area!


More from Vermont: Quechee

I’d intended to post some more photos midweek from last weekend’s visit to Vermont, but the week has just flown by & inevitably my intention never came to fruition! I love 4-day work-weeks, but the downside is that you still kind of have to squash 5 days of work into those remaining 4 days after a holiday!

But it was worth it to be able to have a few days off – a rarity for me, so I made sure to enjoy every last minute of my free time in the beautiful sunshine.

Quechee itself was beautiful – very quaint, actually. If you’re ever up that way, it’s absolutely worth a visit. The Ottauquechee River runs through the town, and gave me some beautiful views to photograph.

My favorite place was “Quechee Gorge Village” – a little “mall” area that’s quite an attraction now – a collection of quaint artisan shops like only Vermont can provide – local stuff, one-offs, etc.

I especially loved how nicely they’d decorated the grounds – with scatterings of “antiquey” things just lying about.

And those things in the background of the image above? Yes, they’re moose…’s Vermont after all.

…….but just wooden sculptures of moose.

And my ultimate favorite thing in the shopping area was this old diner bus! Fabulous!

And of course, you just can’t go to Vermont and not sample their local cheeses…..that would be simply rude….

Be sure to stop by Quechee Gorge Village if you’re in the Quechee region! It would be hard to not enjoy meandering around the place for a little while.

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.

Weekend in Vermont

I’m privileged enough to be in the middle of a 3-day weekend, thanks to those selfless people who’ve served their country and made the ultimate sacrifice.

Given how busy I’ve been lately, I was determined to try and have all 3 days fully work-free. I’d decided the destination for the weekend was going to be Vermont – having lived in New England for 7 years now, I’ve done a fair bit of traveling around here, but I have to admit that Vermont is the state that I’ve seen least of.

So, wanting to make the most of every minute of free time, yesterday was an early start for us, and it was off up north.

First stop for the day was the town Woodstock. The whole area aroundabout was delightful, and the fact that the weather was so beautiful, although a tad too hot for me, just added to the loveliness of the region.

My favorite bit was visiting Billings Farm & Museum in the town.

It’s not only a farm museum , dedicated to preserve Vermont’s rural heritage, but remains a fully operational dairy farm.

They have some beautiful Jersey cows!

As well as a bunch of other wonderful animals.

It was a real treat wandering around the farm.

All around, a fabulous day was had by all!



Lights Out

Last week was very trying in work. I felt like I was running a kindergarten instead of a university lab……it’s become increasingly that way over the past 18 months or so, and drives me insane. In the middle of the week I also had to attend a 3 hour poster presentation meeting. It was useless to me – not even CE-worthy – and I had bucket-loads of work piling up in my office. But it’s an annual thing that my boss always wants me to attend so that I can stand at our division’s poster that advertises our services. This is the 4th year that I’ve attended. And the 4th year that nobody has shown any interest in our poster. It’s completely out of place because it’s not a research presentation per se – it’s worth having it there amongst the rest of our research posters so that people know how to contact us if they need our services, but it’s not worth having me stand there for 3 hours when I could be getting work done. But it’s what the boss wants, so I just grit my teeth and get on with it. I choose my battles.

I did, however, come across some cool DNA Lego on display while I was there! So I had a bit of fun at least……

But all in all, Friday evening couldn’t come quickly enough. I celebrated at the gym, and followed that up with a beer on the couch, but by about 9pm I was ready for bed! Must be getting old…..

Yesterday was just beautiful here though. Bright sunny skies and temperatures over 70 degrees. So I took a day trip to my favorite location, Newport, RI. No surprise there. I’m predictable if nothing else.

I’d decided to head to the Middletown region for much of the day. Just in case you’re interested, Newport is on Aquidneck Island in RI. Being a coastal state, RI comprises a bunch of islands on Narragansett Bay. Aquidneck is one of them in the south, is about 44 square miles, and is made up of Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth. Newport is inevitably the region where most tourists flock to, but the other 2 towns also have much to offer.

So yesterday I visited a couple of places in Middletown for the first time.

I started off at Prescott Farm. It’s situated right off a main road, but once you get in there, it’s very hard to believe you’re on a main highway!

It’s a historic preservation of a colonial farm – founded back in the 18th century, and occupied by British General Richard Prescott before the Battle of Rhode Island. Some colonists kidnapped him from the farm on July 9th, 1777 and took him to Providence, and he was later exchanged for US General Charles Lee.

Back to current day, and the land was eventually bought by the Newport Restoration Foundation and opened to the public.

It’s so beautiful there, and I just love their windmill.

It’s the Robert Sherman Windmill – first built back in 1812 and used in Warren, RI where it was connected to a distillery. It’s been relocated a bunch of times over the years, and eventually went into a state of disrepair, so was bought and restored by the NRF and now lives here in all its glory.

I also visited Aquidneck island’s other surviving windmill! It’s amazing to find a bunch of these things kicking around down there, I love them. There’s one in nearby Jamestown too, although that’s not on Aquidneck. Anyway this next one was at Paradise Valley Park. This is a little gem of a place – tucked away on a quiet road. It would be a happy accident if you just randomly came upon this place, and it’s so easy to just drive by without even seeing the place.


It was amazingly quiet here – I saw a couple of folk walking dogs while I was there, but otherwise, it was like having the place to myself. I visited around sunset since I wanted to see what the lighting was like at that time. I think I’d also like to head there for sunrise some day too, since the sun should rise from behind the mill, so that might be a nice project one day when I’ve stayed overnight in the area – I’m an hour and a half drive away, so otherwise it would be a very early start to get photos!

This is Boyd’s Wind Grist Mill anyway – built in 1810 in nearby Portsmouth. Middletown Historial Society eventually acquired it as a donation and restored it here in the park.

It was very peaceful just sitting there watching the light change as the sun went down for the evening.

A lovely end to a lovely day!


The Week in Review

Another week seems to have flown by. Last weekend I had the luxury of being “mostly free”, work-wise. I did some work on Saturday, but took Sunday completely off, and that was great.

I drove down to Newport, RI for the day, and although we started off with a grey, overcast morning, things progressed to full sunshine later in the afternoon, although it was a tad cool even in the sun. But what the heck, it wasn’t raining, and I wasn’t working!

I wandered around Fort Adams State Park. One of my most favorite locations. I never tire of it. or anywhere in Newport, for that matter.

Once the sun was out later in the afternoon, I took a spin along Ocean Drive. Scenery (and real estate) doesn’t get much better than this!

Tuesday brought along my usual USO shift. It was quiet most of the night, and I managed to get quite a bit of work done while I was there. We’d also received a shipment of Girl Scout Cookies, and an adorable letter to accompany them.

Brought a wee tear to my eye!

Otherwise, not too much going on. Lots of chaos at work. And usually when there’s chaos at work, that means someone is going to make their chaos my problem. Had a fair bit of that this past week. Friday came around just in the nick of time.

One piece of hopefully good news – you may recall the problem I’ve been having with my downstairs neighbors since they moved here in the fall last year. Horrendously noisy. Obnoxiously so. Anyway, I give our apartment complex lots of points – they took the matter seriously, and gave them an eviction notice. They were due to leave May 5th, but that didn’t happen, they kept coming up with excuses. So the apartment complex took them to court this past week. Initially they asked me if I’d appear too, and I said yes, of course. But then they told me I wasn’t needed. Anyway, they contacted me after the appearance on Thursday to let me know that it all went well and that the neighbors will be gone by the end of the month.  It’s been a very long few months. I’ve honestly never experienced neighbors so horrific, and I’ve been renting for the past 25 years. (I really need to buy….)

And on that note, I’m going to head off to bed!

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.

Coming Up For Air

Well I’m finally emerging from what feels like a drowning over the past few weeks. My ongoing “writing project from hell” is scheduled to be finished on Thursday, provided I don’t meet any unexpected hurdles in between now and then.

The weekend before last I took my first day off in a month – Mark was finally home from his training in Louisiana, so I did my usual mammoth trek to upstate NY to see him. Although I felt somewhat anxious about all the work I had to do on this project, I’d already scheduled  a 2-day break into my itinerary, and after not seeing Mark for a month, I was determined to have a couple of days off.

It was so nice to see him again, as well as just to have 2 days doing no work whatsoever. Naturally the house looked like Beirut when I arrived. I sometimes think Mark goes out of his way to annoy me on that front. I’m no Martha Stewart, but I hate clutter that never goes away (ie/ the piles of crap that he leaves around randomly – last weekend he suddenly went into the closet while we were watching TV, and emerged with 2 tennis rackets and a kite! All were just thrown on the floor in front of the TV. That was it! Somehow World War III didn’t break out when I asked him politely to put them back in the closet until he actually needed them).

But anyway, mess aside, we had a nice weekend!

The weather was lovely too, and on Saturday we took a drive to the town of Orwell, just about half an hour south of Watertown, to visit Salmon River Falls.

We didn’t take the steep trek down to the base of the falls because neither of us had decent walking boots on, and it was really rocky down to the bottom.

But we did manage a really nice hike around the rest of the trail.

In the picture above, I’m standing on the ledge that drops off to form the falls. We couldn’t really get a decent view of them from up high along the trail. Maybe one day we’ll be wearing decent walking boots so we can climb down a get some good photos of it.

Afterwards as we headed home, we decided on a little wine tasting! There are quite a few vineyards in the Watertown & upstate NY region in general that offer wine tastings, and it seemed like a perfect day for a tasting! So we hit Yellow Barn Winery, we’d never been there before or even tasted their wine. We were the only folk in the place, so we got quite a bit of attention! And we found a bottle of red that we both enjoyed, and took one home for the evening.

Being Easter weekend, Mark decided he wanted to bake cupcakes for us. So the wine came in handy while he baked.

And the finished product was delicious!

We also decided it was time to get some spring flowers for our little patio area at the back of the house. We don’t have a garden – our house just backs out onto the shared green behind the row of town homes, but the little patio is a good size for us to have some pots of flowers. We’ll see how well they turn out – neither of us are really keen gardeners, so we picked some that looked as if they’d have a good fighting chance if they were to be accidentally abandoned for a while!

Ah well, I’m going to head off to finish off my bottle of beer now! I finished working about an hour ago and decided to celebrate with a beer…….hopefully I can wrap up this project by Thursday evening and get this monkey off my back.

Creating a Monster

I don’t even have any idea how long it’s been since I was here last – maybe 3 weeks? I haven’t even logged into the blog world at all, so I hope you’re all well. Things have just become even more chaotic than previously.

Since Mark has been away training, I’d decided to throw myself heavily into my freelance business, and that’s been going really well. I was very busy in March, & that was a good feeling, acquiring new clients, etc. Last week I acquired another big client, one that seemed to have a project that was perfect for me.

Unfortunately it’s morphed into a monster, and the original 120 hours-before-April 23 that they asked of me, has turned into a never ending requirement of document revisions, add-ons, and “oh we don’t care how many hours it takes, or how many pages it’ll be, we just want it done right….”. Well that’s fine, but they don’t give me any extra on the deadline while they’re raising the bar on what they want…..

So I just had a long and painful conversation with my contact there, who has been so nice all along, letting him know basically that I’m halfway through the allotted 120 hours now, and not even halfway through the document, due to their add-ons. And I just can’t fit any more than 60 hours in between now and the deadline   – simple maths will do the trick there. I feel like I’m just bringing up the elephant in the room that nobody wants to admit to! I already have a full time job and am doing this in my spare time. There just aren’t enough hours in my week to give any more than what I originally agreed to.

But naturally they’re making it all my problem, and about how much of a predicament I’m putting them in. I feel horribly frustrated. My priority is helping them meet their deadline, but they’ve changed the goalpost numerous times now, I just can’t keep up with it.

So I’ve sent them some suggestions of science writers to network with, and have even told them I’ll cap my hours right now and won’t even charge them any more – I’ll just work on my currently-completed draft at the halfway mark, & get that perfectly squared away for them, while someone else works in parallel on the remainder. Realistically, that’s the only way they’ll meet their deadline since they keep adding to what they originally outlined.

Never turn your back on the coffee-ready mug, even for a couple of seconds…..

My poor car has also been a pain in my backside too. In 3 weeks it’s visited VW 3 times…..wheel bearings needed attention first, the car was horribly loud for a while. What a difference it made when they attended to that issue! Three days later the a/c died….and 10 days after that, my check-engine light made an appearance. More than $2000 later, it’s ok again… I was leaving VW today when they’d dealt with the engine issue, the guy who took care of me said: “See you Monday, kid!”……I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!!

On a lighter note, Mark is home again as of a couple of days ago. He’s happy to have a real bed again, and it’ll be nice to see him tomorrow. It’ll also be a welcome break for me since I’ve not stopped working, days and nights, since he went away at the beginning of March!

Sadly the nice care package that I mailed to him at Fort Polk was returned to me a week after I mailed it 😦 –   I was really annoyed because the box had been opened up, and then badly re-sealed, and 80% of the stuff I’d put in there had been taken out. Honestly, I wish whomever had delved into it had just kept it. It made me sad to think someone had been in there, going through the personal stuff I mailed, like notes and photos. Swines.

"I know you can smell burned cat fur….I just jumped on the oven, onto the open-flame-burner, scared myself to death, and now I'm feeling rather sheepish……"

OK, I’ll have to get back to my writing project…’s been good therapy taking a 15 minute break though! Hope you’re all well……one day I might even get to read again about what you’ve all been up to!

Spring May Have Sprung

Well we’re in the midst of a mini-heatwave here in Massachusetts, with temperatures currently in the 70s. Bizarre for this time of year – more like June weather for us! And maybe somewhat of a guarantee of snow in April! I suppose we’ll see what happens……the weather Gods have been doing weird things lately, anything could happen.

The past couple of weeks have whizzed by. I’m home-alone for the whole of March. Mark is mostly incommunicado for 4-5 weeks, for training at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, LA.  He managed to call me last weekend, but that’s been our only contact so far! He seemed ok, but had managed to lose his beloved Kindle – it was in a bag with some uniform items, and he wandered off when he was needed for something. Later when they all returned, a bunch of stuff had disappeared. So I don’t know whether it’s been returned to him – nobody has tried to upload any books onto it, so I’m hopeful that it could just be floating around in Lost Property somewhere, and he may get it back since it’s in a bag along with his uniform with his name on it. Fingers crossed – he loves that little thing! Although if it never reappears, I’ll know what to buy him for his birthday……

I mailed him a small care package last week with some books in it, and some Reese’s Pieces since he’d put in an emergency request for those in particular! Hopefully the box made it out to him, wherever he is.

So, anyway, in the meantime, I’ve been a busy bee at home on my own. I’ve managed to get a lot of chores accomplished, and have worked feverishly on my freelance business, accomplishing a lot there too. It’s been somewhat fun, but I admit I’m really tired at the moment from working around the clock a lot. But it’s all part of this year’s goal, so I’m keeping at it!

Last week I was also in Schaumburg, IL for a few days for a meeting. That was long and arduous, but there were numerous good people there, so it was nice to catch up with them, and to meet some nice new folk too. And, wonder of wonders, I managed to have a positive experience at Chicago O’Hare…..nothing ever seems to go right for me when I travel through that airport (nor anybody else, I suspect). But for once something went well! Our meeting finished a few hours earlier than expected, so I would’ve been faced with a 6 hour wait for my scheduled flight. I did, however, manage to succeed in getting a standby flight 4 hours earlier. That allowed me to get home at 10pm instead of 2am! Very much appreciated……

Other than that, life has been trundling on. I caught up with some friends at the weekend. Hadn’t seen them for about a month or so. They just had their 2nd child 2 months ago, so it was nice to catch up with them all. It was their elder son’s birthday, so I’d wanted to hand over his birthday present, and I also cooked them a casserole. They’re highly functional, but I’m sure they’ll be able to freeze it in portions and put it to good use during moments of minor chaos when cooking doesn’t seem to be a feasible option!

I was also excited to collect a photo this weekend that I’d sent in for custom framing.

It’s one that I took when we were in New Zealand last year – Marlborough, the South Island’s wine country, was one of our favorite locations, and we were lucky enough to have the most beautiful weather on our 2nd day there (our wine tour day!). We both loved how this photo turned out. Mark doesn’t know I ordered a huge print of it & took it for framing, but I think he’ll be pleased to see it when he gets home.

On an unrelated shopping note….I also came across “broccoflower” when I was wandering around the supermarket.

Have any of you ever had it? I bought one, but haven’t tried it yet – this bright little hybrid is supposed to be sweeter than its parents – I’ll keep you posted!

I’m trying to catch up with some blog reading this week, so bear with me while I catch up with you all!