Monday, June 30, 2008

I got to drive a Duck!!

Today was a good day but it had a rather uncertain start. I went down to wait for the bus only to have the bus driver go right past me waiting in the correct bus stop location without stopping!! Fortunately for me there was someone waiting at the next stop down the road and she stopped there and I ran. She waited for me. I think she felt bad for having not picked me up.

Once I got downtown, I took the famous Boston Duck Tour. The tour is done in amphibious vehicles with drivers who are hilarious. They must have five different licenses in order to drive a Duck vehicle. One for driving on land, one for driving in the Charles River, and three for operating tour vehicles in each of the three cities through which the Duck passes.

Our driver was Sergeant Meatball. He told some very corny jokes and puns as well as a few truly funny ones. When we got out to the Charles River, he let all the kids in the Duck who wanted to, drive it for a while. After the kids had their turn, he asked if any adults wanted to drive the Duck. Heck yea! I want to drive a Duck. I eagerly volunteered and got to drive our Duck around in the Charles River. The driver took my picture while I was driving. I will post it here for you to see.

After the Duck tour, I had lunch in the Prudential Center and then headed out for Charlestown. When I first arrived in Boston, I walked the Freedom Trail but didn't walk the part goes in and around Charlestown. Today was the day to finish it. I loved Charlestown. It was so quiet and peaceful. I think if I were going to move to Boston, I would want to live there. The only bad part was the distance from the subway. That could be a problem. I ended up taking the ferry back into Boston and then getting the subway from there. My feet weren't up to walking back across the bridge and into Boston.

After Charlestown and the ferry back into Boston, I headed out to Harvard and Cambridge. I enjoyed walking around the campus although I will admit that I took quite a few wrong turns. It is a beautiful place. From there I took the bus home.

It was a beautiful, hot day but I really enjoyed seeing the sights and driving a Duck!! I am going to be sad to leave here.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Old North Church

On Friday a group of us were able to go down to the Old North Church for a private tour. The NEHGS has some kind of joint project going on with the group that manages the Old North Church and so we had an "in" to see some things most people don't get to see when they visit there.

To begin with we started our adventure as usual on the "T". Every adventure around here pretty much starts that way. We arrived at the stop where we needed to get off and began the walk over to the church. It was about 5 blocks or so. You can never really tell about the blocks in the North End of Boston because they are laid out so unusually. As we were walking, it started to rain. By the time we got to the church, it was coming down in buckets along with thunder and lightning. We got a little soaked. No one thought to bring an umbrella. I left mine at the office.

When we got to the church, we began our tour in the basement looking at the old crypts. That's a great place to be on a stormy, thundering afternoon. It just added to the ambiance. From the crypt we went up to the main chapel and were told about the different changes it had gone through since its creation. One of the things one of my colleagues was interested in were the various owners of the pews. This made me think of church today. Even though they don't have our names on them, doesn't each family still have their own special pew. What's the reaction in your church when someone sits where you and your family always sit??

Back to the tour. After the chapel, we went up to the archive room which is no longer in use. All the important papers that used to be there have now been moved to the Massachusetts Historical Society. From there we went up some narrow wooden stairs to the bell ringers' room. There were 8 cords hanging from the ceiling that are attached to the bells. We were given a short lesson on how the bell ringers play their melodies. There were even song charts on the wall to follow along. Each bell has a number and you would use the chart to indicate which bell is rung in which sequence. It was quite impressive. According to our guide, Paul Revere was a bell ringer at the church in his teen years. She had a copy of a signed agreement that a group of bell ringers had signed which include Paul Rever. This would explain how he knew all about the church tower. He undoubtedly remembered his experiences there and the view from the top of the tower and knew it would be the perfect place for a signal light. (Please remember that Paul Revere was not the one who put the lanterns in the tower. He only gave the instructions as to the signal process and then saw the lanterns and set out to warn the countryside).

Our next destination was up the stairs and ladders (about 4 or 5 flights of them in all) to the tower. It was quite the climb. The ladders were dusty, narrow, and all made of wood. Don't look down on your way up. The view was definitely the reward for having made the climb, however, because the view from the tower was spectacular. We could see all of Boston and the surrounding area. The perfect place for a signal for all to see.

We lingered in the tower for several minutes. I took several pictures and then sadly we had to come back down. What a great day! I don't know why I get to have all these wonderful experiences but I thank my Heavenly Father everyday for them.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Yesterday I finished John Adams and now that I'm done it feels like I have said goodbye to a friend I won't see again. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I have a lot of respect and admiration for the man, John Adams, and even more so for David McCullough, the historian who wrote it. To compile such a rich biography using so many wonderful documents makes this book like a fine, pieced quilt. Each piece, large or small, adds to its overall beauty. If you haven't read the book, I highly recommend it.

I have been trying to plan my return home tonight and I have decided that I'm really not looking forward to leaving here. I have had such a great time. I have learned a lot and spent a lot of time out and about seeing the sights of New England. I have met some great people. I feel so blessed for having had this opportunity. I don't know why I should be so blessed but I am truly thankful.

I am looking forward to getting home to see my kids and my kitties and go back to my real job, if it's still mine. I have so many things I want and need to do when I get home before the semester starts again in the fall. I am anxious to get started getting my house in order. I am definitely not looking forward to loading up my car for the long drive. I brought too much stuff with me to Boston and since I've been here I've added a lot more stuff. What was I thinking??

I also have some thinking to do about the future. Do I want to go on to get a Master's degree (I'm considering Library Science) or do I just want to be done with school and try to find a job in family history. This is a big decision that is going to require a lot of pondering, fasting, and prayer. If you're reading this, leave me a comment with your opinion.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The latest

I haven't had a post for ten days. That is a long time. I have been quite lazy to tell the truth. I have rediscovered Mahjong. Bad idea. Stay away! Very addicting.

Since I last wrote I have been out to Quincy to see the three homes where John Adams and his family lived. It was only natural for me to go out there because I am currently reading John Adams by David McCullough. It is a great book. I am fascinated by the life of John Adams. The letters between John and Abigail Adams are wonderful. It was so cool to be in the very spot where many of Abigail's letters were written. It was also awesome to see the huge library that has just a portion of John Adams' and John Quincy Adams' over 12,000 books (and I thought I had a lot of books). I learned so much about John Adams' role in the American Revolution and the early years of this country's government. I highly recommend it. I have even gone so far as to buy a copy of the HBO miniseries based on this same book. I can't wait to watch it.

Being the history nerd that I am, I also went out to Lexington and Concord to see where the American Revolution began. About a year or so ago I had read Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer and so it was thrilling to see where it all took place. Another book and place to visit that I recommend. I would recommend that you read the books or at least a good portion of them before you go to get a true feel for what took place at the historic sites and the people who lived there.

Last Saturday we drove out to Cape Cod and drove around to several lighthouses. It is so pretty out there. I was surprised at how big the place was. I had imagined it as a much smaller area. It took a lot longer to drive to all the locations we wanted to. Of course you have to bear in mind that on many of the roads we were lucky to go over 30 mph. Yes, life is much slower out there. The roads are narrow and there are not many roads with more than one lane each way. I would love to go back. I was disappointed that we didn't get to spend anytime just kicking back on the beach. Our list of things to do was too long.

This Monday I stayed home and did laundry. I was expecting to do some work from my real job but it didn't happen. I'm not surprised it didn't but I was hoping to be of help.

This Tuesday as well as last Tuesday, I spent part of the day at the Boston Temple. The spirit there was awesome. It just helps my week go better by having some spiritual experiences there.

Today on the bus I made a short list of things I wanted to write about. Most of them had to do with more adventures using Boston public transportation. The bus that I ride to and from the subway station is actually a sort of cable car. It runs on electricity and is hooked up to cables that run over the road. Yesterday on the way home the bus just stopped and went silent except for some kind of warning signal up on the driver's panel. It sounded like the bus might have ran over something but I couldnt tell from inside. The bus driver got off the bus and after a few minutes he got back on and we were up and running. I suspect I know what he was doing. About a month ago I was following a bus and the driver stopped, got off, and had to hook the electric cables back up to the bus. I imagine that is what happened yesterday. He never said a word but it seems likely.

I would like to introduce you to some of the people that I have seen on the bus. The first people are two girls who ride the bus regularly in the morning. They are in an English class together trying to learn English. It is fun to watch them study and talk on their way. I call them the English girls and I always look forward to watching them on the bus. I haven't ever talked to them but I enjoy watching them from a distance. I remember the good old days of trying to learn the language of the foreign country I was living in. I wish them well.

Today on the bus there was a cute Chinese family. Before they got on the bus, the mom had snapped a quick picture of the dad and their son getting on the bus. If it wasn't the end of the school year, I would say it was a first day of school picture. The son looked like he was about 5. School ends here this week and so maybe it was his last day of school picture. Who knows? They were cute. Mom continued to snap a few pictures of dad and son on the bus. I have seen some other strange characters but I won't get into any details. Let's just say that it always makes the ride interesting.

One evening last week I was waiting for the train in the Park Street station. In that station the train opens its doors on both sides rather than the usual one side. I was standing with a few other people waiting for the train. When it arrived, the doors opened on the far side, and so we waited for them to open on our side. And we waited, and we waited, and we waited. Next thing you know the doors were now closed on the other side of the train and it was pulling away. Even though the train wasn't that full, apparently we weren't getting on that one. The next one was not too far behind but I have never seen that happen and will be perfectly content if I don't ever see it again.

The Celtics won the NBA championship last night. There is going to be a big parade downtown tomorrow. I hope that I can get away from work to go see it. I think it would be fascinating to watch this city congratulate their sports heroes. I forgot to ask at work today about what would happen during the parade. I guess we'll find out tomorrow. The parade is going to end at Copley Square which is just a block away from work.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

He's back!

I stepped outside my house this morning to head off to church and my friend, the skunk, had been by. All around the outside of the house smelled like skunk. Fortunately, it did not smell like skunk inside the house. I'm glad that I didn't see him face to face this time. I was assuming that he might be the same one from the bus stop a few weeks ago, but who knows this might be a relative.

Yesterday, we went down to Salem. Salem as you may recall is famous for its witch trials in the 1600s. Everywhere you go there are shops selling witch paraphernalia. You can also have your future read by palm or tarot cards. We opted, however, not to go to any of the three witch museums or partake in any witch silliness. We went to the Peabody Essex Museum instead. It was wonderful. There were a lot of things to see. Inside the museum they have a chinese house that was taken apart in China and transported to Salem and then put back together. It was filled with authentic articles from the area and time period. It was fascinating to see how they lived. The stories about the house traced the generations and lives of one particular Chinese family who owned and lived in the house. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

We also did some walking around the historic town. I am fascinated with architecture and old houses and so I took lots of pictures. We also had a wonderful seafood lunch on Pickering Wharf at Finz. I highly recommend it. I had the lobster roll. It was very yummy.

Tomorrow I am headed out to Quincy to see the Adams home. I have been reading John Adams by David McCullough and I am very excited to see where it took place. It should be an easy trip down the Red Line. The mini-series comes out on DVD this Tuesday and I hear it is really good and so I plan to purchase it. What a history nerd I am!

I almost forgot to mention this fabulous, crazy bookstore we went into in Salem. It was very tiny but loaded with books stacked from the floor to about the height of six feet. There were so many that there was only enough space for one person to walk comfortably down the aisles. The owner had the books organized by genre and if you told him what you were looking for he would help you find it and even pull it out for you. I was afraid that if I pulled out a book the whole pile would come tumbling down and I would buried in a ton of books. Please see the picture posted on this blog. You have to see it to believe it. The best part almost every book was 50% off list price!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Thoughts of the day

I have noticed when riding the T (Boston's public transportation) that people here read a lot. So I began to wonder. Are lots of people here college educated and know the value of continually reading and learning? Some of them are reading school texts which look very intimidating. There is no doubt that there are lots of smart people here. There are so many well-known and prestigious colleges and universities around. Just on my transportation route alone are Harvard and MIT. And we can't go without mentioning Massachusetts General Hospital, also on my transportation route, which is so good that Ted Kennedy goes there and he could afford to go anywhere.

Maybe people just read a lot to escape the doldrums of city life. A lot of people don't own cars here. It is just too expensive to park them in most places and there is also the hassle of even finding a place to park them. The other hassle is the narrow streets. It's not a lot of fun driving around some places in the city.

Finally I decided that people must read on the T because they are bored and it helps pass the time more quickly. I was thinking about all the time I spend on the T and I am literally wasting anywhere from 8 to 10 percent of my day riding around on the T. It's usually a one hour trip-one way. I would read more on the T if I could always have a seat but that usually only happens on the bus part of the trip. It is the first segment on the way into work and the last segment on the way home. On the way into work sometimes I read because I don't really have to pay attention to where to get off. The bus stops at the subway station and that's where I get off and shift into subway mode. On the way home I usually get a seat as well but by that time I'm pretty tired and I really don't feel like reading plus I have to watch for my stop.

I have also noticed that most people like to listen to an I-pod or some sort of music player on the T. It seems to me like a way to tune out the world. It seems like just another way modern electronic means are teaching us to not to socialize. Computers, cell phones, and I-pods are all dragging us away from opportunities to interact with people. What a shame!

Moving on to today's happenings. Today was graduation for Harvard. That made my T ride a little more crowded. According to the bus driver, the bus was running late this morning because of it. Once the bus got full, the bus driver refused to pick up any more passengers. This is the first time I've seen that happen. In the morning the Green line was so packed that I was literally squeezed up against the door. I decided to bail out one stop early so I could escape. It turns out that the stop is the same distance to work as from my usual stop. I may bail out early every time. Today there was also a baseball game at Fenway. Whenever there is a game, the Green line T gets really crowded. It was a crowded trip today coming and going.

I'm starting to miss the wide open spaces of Utah and the quick 10-15 minute drive to work.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Moving day!

I had a great working vacation in DC the past several days. I went there to help my daughter move into her new home. Much of our time was spent lifting and carrying boxes and cleaning. I was so glad to be able to help her.

I got the chance to refresh my truck driving skills. Amy rented a 10 foot U-Haul truck and we used it to take her things out to VA from MD. For those of you who have never been to the Eastern US. It was not a very far move. She is now in the lovely city of Alexandria which is also the home of Mount Vernon. Anyways, back to the truck driving adventures. Back in 2004 when we first moved to Utah I drove a 26 foot truck to central Utah from southern New Mexico. It took us about 15 hours and was quite the adventure. It had no ability to climb hills but could go quite rapidly down hills. It was an automatic which made life a little easier. It also had a radio and AC. I never got a picture of me driving it and I forgot to do likewise this weekend with the smaller truck.

The truck I drove Saturday was about half the size and was fairly easy to maneuver through traffic. I noticed that people give you a little more space and don't cut you off when you are driving a big truck. On the way to take the truck back to the U-Haul place, it was pouring down rain. We had already had lightning, thunder, torrents of rain and some hail. It was just raining moderately while I was driving down the beltway back to Maryland. I noticed that people don't like to follow you very closely if you are in a big truck and the roads are wet. Trucks can spray up a lot of water off the road making visibility difficult.

On one of my earlier blogs, I wrote about watching rowers out on the Charles River here in Boston. While I was in DC, Amy took me kayaking on the Potomac. It was a lot of fun. I wasn't as apprehensive as I thought I would be. It was a beautiful sunny day. Not too hot and not too cold. A gentle breeze kept the temperature nice. We rowed around for about an hour. It was a lot of fun.

On Friday, Amy and I went out to Theodore Roosevelt Island. It is a beautiful nature preserve in the heart of DC on the Potomac. You can walk on trails through the forest and over some swampy areas. It is gorgeous. We saw a squirrel that was posing nicely for a picture until I took out the camera. We also saw a little girl holding a snake. The interesting about her was that she was surrounded by about five little boys none of whom seem very interested in holding the snake. They were enjoying looking from a short distance.

Monday was spent kayaking and then doing some mad shopping. Amy needed a ton of things for her new home. We had a lot of fun picking out bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen things. Amy purchased a TV stand for the new 50 inch plasma TV that she bought on Saturday after all the moving was done. I spent Monday night until 1:30 am trying to put the thing together. That was a fun experience. I have now introduced Amy to the wonderful world of home repair. I bought her a cordless drill and she had a lot of un trying it out. What a woman!

I don't remember if I mentioned it previously but I had lost my cell phone on Memorial Day. I am happy to report that some kind soul turned it into a store near where I had been shopping and today I drove out to get it. Yes! There are still good, honest people on the planet and especially in Massachusetts.