Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

I am a restless person, prone to periods of longing for where I want my life to be in several ways. I’ve had a particular goal for a long time, moving to London, making my living as a writer, and though I try to be patient, the reality is that it will be several more years, at least, before I can move Marty and myself to London. Unless I win the Mega Millions, in which case, we’re in London the next day. Like, the very next day. Gone.

I worry, though, that once I achieve my dream, I will continue to be restless, wanting something else. Marty calls me a gypsy, like my father, applied in many ways. I would love to think that London and writing would keep me content forever, but I worry about fending off that feeling even what I get what I desire. Will I ever be happy where I am?

I think about my one of my sister-cousins (see earlier posts for reference) when she was a baby. She screamed all the time. She had to be moving: bounced, in a stroller, dancing around the room, whatever. Movement was the key. UNTIL… she could crawl. Once she could get around by herself, independently, she was a different baby. She wanted to be able to get herself around, that was all. That’s what I hope happens to me, I just get to where I’m supposed to be and I’ll be fine. I hate the idea of struggling my entire life.

My question to my readers is this: Is there something that you strove for for a long time and when you got it, you were finally satisfied or were you still restless? Tell me in the comments. You’re awesome, I want you to know that.

Read Full Post »

I’m sitting in Boston Logan Airport, having gotten here in plenty of time for my flight, and so I thought I’d write a little about what I’ve done the past two days. It actually started back in November when I planned my trip. For those that don’t know, my husband and I are genealogy nerds. We’re totally into ancestry.com, dusty old papers, and everything that goes with it. My Great-Aunt Kay sparked my interest in our family genealogy when I was a teenager and I’ve been hooked ever since.

I’ve known about my Salem relatives for a while and we did visit Salem as a family (4 out of the 5 of us) in 2018, but I really wanted to go by myself and spend some time in libraries and in the town looking to see what else I could find out. We don’t have school this week and I had a Delta gift card burning a hole in my pocket, so I booked a tiny room at a hotel in the middle of town and very impatiently waited for the next two-and-a-half months to pass, as evidenced by my frequent Facebook posts.

I won’t give a running commentary about my trip, I know it is much more exciting to me than to others, but there really is a lot of cool stuff in Salem and in the surrounding areas. Such as:

  • Figuring out a good MBTA route. I LOVE putting routes together and when they work, it’s even better. To get to Salem, I took a plane to Boston, the commuter train to a bus depot in Revere, and then a bus into Salem proper. Today, I did the reverse to get back. Everything connected just the way it was supposed to and I’m just waiting on the plane. BTW, Delta is awesome.

    Image may contain: indoor

    Catching a train

  • The bus is a great place to get to know real people.
  • I love how the Hawthorne Hotel took my request for a not actively haunted room seriously, even if the room was a little haunted anyway. It was okay. We (the ghost and I) had an understanding. I was, however, on the floor where the haunted room was supposed to be but I never saw anything.
  • The Salem Public Library is so cool, especially the reference staff! Check it out if you are ever in town.Image may contain: night and outdoor
  • I had a psychic, who had no knowledge of me, tell me that I am supposed to write books and to quit screwing around and get to it. Feeling personally attacked, but she’s right. As soon as Menagerie is done.
  • I talked with some super-nice people. A lot of them had accents. Delightful.
  • Like any city, Salem has its delinquents. There are roving bands of foul-mouthed teenage skateboarders that you just need to avoid. No biggie.
  • The PEM Reading Room (aka The Phillips Library) is a fantastic resource.
  • The architecture. I love New England style houses and buildings and because I took the bus and commuter rail, I got to see a lot of them. True, some of the newer stuff there is that ugly, generic, cheap, box store look that we have here, but not in the downtown areas. They either keep the original buildings or build new to match the rest. I love the way that a lot of the old buildings are re-purposed and not just torn down. It looks and feels so much better.
  • If you go to Salem, you simply must try a little restaurant called Bella Verona. It’s very tiny, so they’re probably crowded in the summer, so call for a reservation. The food and service are wonderful Another great place is the Flying Saucer Pizza Company.

    Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and indoor

    Bella Verona

  • I got to hear a steady stream of a one-sided conversation in Chinese in my ear for about 15 minutes straight this morning. You guessed it… on the bus.
  • The history! Omg, Salem is a treasure box of history and not just about the with trials. It’s maritime history is extensive, one of my own grandfathers was a sea captain there. Everywhere you go, there are buildings more than two hundred years old. I love it so much.
    Image may contain: house, night, sky, tree and outdoor

    The Judge Corwin House, aka The Witch House

    Isn’t it funny how you connect with some places and not with others? There’s no question here: Salem is in my soul now. I plan to return many times.

Read Full Post »

There are little, beautiful, things that make me smile.

Baby belly laughs. Best thing ever. Hands down.

My husband’s hand on my back at night as we go to sleep.

A random text or Snapchat from one of my boys.

Snuggling with one of my boys.

Messaging with my cousins.

An email or message from Sabrina.

Someone being kind.

A hug between friends.

A silly rehearsal moment

Petting friendly kitties.

Petting any animal.

Random sappy things said by students.

Sunburst through the clouds.

Our Christmas tree, still lit on February 12, by choice.

Dimes.

The thought of being on an airplane, going somewhere.

A lovely quote.

Pictures from days gone by.

Good feedback from a director.

Ocean waves.

A warm, soul-squeezing passage in a book.

A most satisfying piece of a plastic bat. (Only some of you will get this.)

Time to write.

Snow with no snowblower noises.

What makes you smile?

 

 

Read Full Post »

I used to think I was a country person. At the time, I was working on a farm with some pretty amazing people. I plowed and harrowed fields with horses, fed chickens, milked cows, helped to shear sheep and butcher pigs, pumped water, and cooked on a coal-burning stove. Those were some of the best years of my life. At that time, I thought I wanted my own farm with my own horses, chickens, and sheep. (No cows or pigs. Cute? Sometimes, but being almost impaled by a cow horn, charged by hungry cows/angry bulls, and having to unearth a buried feeding trough for the pigs every day were all pains in the butt.) Ideally, it would be a historic farm, from 1880 or earlier.

Over time, as I grew and traveled, I learned that I really didn’t want that country life. I realized that I loved those years on the farm because I loved the people and what I did. (And the horses. I also loved the horses.) But I got to go home to a heated/air conditioned home every night with a shower and a microwave, so it wasn’t a completely immersive experience. And I traveled. I visited cities, big cities: Dublin, London, Edinburgh, Rome, Florence, Venice, among others. And do you know what? I love big cities, especially big European cities. I adore them, actually. London was the first place that I actually felt at home in my life, at peace. I belonged there. I can’t tell you how badly I want to be there right this minute.

Do you know what sounds heavenly? A life where Marty and I have a small flat on a high street in London with a small balcony. I’d write for a living. No car. There’s the Tube, so driving isn’t necessary. Stopping at a Tesco to pick up something small for dinner, or takeaway from a small restaurant. Fish and chips, perhaps, because we have a yen for it, no matter if it’s touristy. Strolling past Tower Bridge, the Globe, or St. Paul’s on a crisp spring evening. Sitting in St. James’  or Hyde Park and just soaking up the history. Watching tourists with umbrellas stroll around Piccadilly Circus and going to have dinner and a drink at this wonderful little Italian place on Kensington High Street, then going to bed knowing that I can do it all again the next day. My heart is in London.

Someday.

Where does your heart lie? City, country, or suburb? Why? Comment below or on FB.

Read Full Post »

Last February, I signed up for a work conference that was to be held this past week. Admittedly, part of the reason I signed up was because it was in downtown Detroit at the Cobo Center. I get weirdly excited anytime I have a reason to hang out downtown or in midtown. I have a strong attachment to the city where I was born, in a small hospital on Tuxedo Street, and it’s such a treat to explore.

I live about 15-20 minutes from the heart of downtown, depending on the traffic and I don’t get there nearly enough. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I love big cities and Detroit, while not as big as some, is no exception. They’re so busy, the energy is so high, and there’s always something going on. I can’t explain it, but I love it. I love the country, too, but for different reasons and I’m ready to leave after a few days, but I haven’t gotten tired of being in a big city yet.

There’s so much history, the architecture of the older buildings is so beautiful. Detroit has a wonderful collection of skyscrapers and other buildings that have gorgeous Art Deco designs and decorations that mix in with the modern, like the Fisher Building and the Fox Theatre. And construction isn’t finished! A new skyscraper is going up on the site of the old Hudson’s building in addition to the new (delayed) construction that’s going up in the midtown area next to the new Little Caesar’s Arena, better known as the LCA, where the Red Wings and The Pistons play, just down the street, literally, from the Tigers’ Comerica Park and the Lions’ Ford Field. And let’s not forget the beautiful Detroit Riverwalk where you can watch freighters and pleasure boats pass between you and Windsor, Canada on the other side. Couple that with dozens of restaurants and cool bars and you’ll never run out of things to do.

67704671_10219694004445848_908249711813591040_n

A view of the Detroit River and Windsor from Detroit’s Cobo Center.

67713936_10219715636586638_7381632211415465984_n

Honoring Detroit as part of the Underground Railroad in Hart Plaza.

68957126_10219715636186628_3888437285540069376_n

Assorted skyscrapers

 

I didn’t always feel this way. There was a time when I bought into the ideology that Detroit was a terrible place, nothing but blight and run by corruption, a virtual hellhole. Like many ideologies that people buy into, this one was false and fear-based. I was taught those things and believed them because I was afraid of things I had heard, not because they had merit. Now, the blight and corruption do exist, especially in some of the neglected neighborhoods, but Detroit with all of her imperfections, is beautiful. I learned that by actually going there and doing things, not staying secluded in the suburbs.

I don’t mean to downplay the bad things; I’ve seen some of Detroit’s problems firsthand. I once dated a guy who lived in southwest Detroit, in one of those gorgeous old houses with a huge front porch. One lovely summer night, not long after we began dating, we were sitting out on the porch when I thought I heard fireworks. His dad stood up and said, “Honey, those aren’t fireworks and it’s time to go inside.” I’ve stood next to a crazed addict in a rage at a corner store while trying to buy coffee creamer for intermission at the Hilberry Theatre and have been yelled at by a prostitute who thought I was elbowing in on her territory when my car broke down in Delray. (Once she realized that my car broke down, however, she made sure to get me somewhere safe, then asked me for money, which I gave.) I’ve been lost driving in neighborhoods full of burned out and abandoned buildings where it would be foolish to roll the windows down and avoided rats as big as small cats. I used to teach Detroit students at a charter school and some of those kids had seen and experienced things that no child should. I see the stories on the news every night of violence and theft, of shootings and murder and rape and I pray. Detroit definitely has it’s troubles, there’s no denying that.

But I also see the wonderful things: the activists, the Detroit men who band together to mentor children with absent fathers and to protect women who walk alone, the Angel Night volunteers who have put a serious dent in the number of arson fires that used to be so prevalent the night before Halloween, the absolute talent that is fostered and nurtured in schools like Cass Tech, where students thrive in spite of drug deals going on just a block away. I see the crowds that gather for clean-up days, cutting grass, hauling old tires and abandoned appliances away, revitalizing playgrounds. I see the initiative to fix and install streetlights to help deter crime, the abandoned houses being either restored or torn down. I see the missions in full force, like Focus Hope, Gleaners, and the Capuchin Soup Kitchen who help thousands of people every year. I see growth and I see hope.

Of course, Detroit has it’s issues. What big city doesn’t? Detroit has had to come back from the white flight in the 1950s and 60s, the riots of 1967, racism and extreme political corruption, as recently as when Kwame Kilpatrick was mayor in the early 2000s, but Detroit bounces back. It rebuilds, it changes, and it thrives in spite of it all. The city’s heart continues to beat strongly, no matter how many hits it takes.

I took time this week to just stand at the river and watch, letting it soak into my bones, reflecting on how much it has changed in the last 318 years since Cadillac landed on these shores. I always feel my best when I’m near water. It gives me peace. I took advantage of the long lunch times to walk the streets, joining the downtown bustle of working people hurrying to and fro, absorbing the energy. I gave 75 cents to a man who wanted to get home to Inkster. (It’s all I had on me.) I watched families push strollers down the Riverwalk and saw the same philosophical homeless man sitting outside of the parking garage three days in a row, his spot, and took it all in.

It was sad when the conference was over yesterday afternoon, not because of the conference itself (although it was a really good one), but because I wouldn’t get to be in the midst of that every day. I did make a promise to myself, however, that I would get down there more, for no other reason than I want to be there, in the city. My city. I am a Metro Detroiter and proud of it.

67964800_10219715635826619_2503404529802805248_n

The Ambassador Bridge to Canada, taken from the Riverwalk.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

We just got back from a short vacation, three days. Originally, we had planned on taking a longer vacation, an Oceans and Dead People Tour Part II. (See my Oceans and Dead People Tour blog from a year ago to know what that was all about.) We were going to go down to Maryland and Washington D.C., stopping at Gettysburg on the way back, but due to several reasons, we decided on something shorter: Niagara Falls and Cooperstown, New York.

Niagara Falls has changed a bit from when I was there as a kid. It’s way more built up with touristy stuff: casinos, Hard Rock Cafe, Rain Forest Cafe, the Hershey Store, which I sadly did not go to because we ran out of time. To be fair, I really only remember the museum where I saw the mummy (see last post) so I didn’t have a lot to compare it to, but I remember it being a lot less busy.

What was amazing to me, though, was the diversity of people who were there. I can’t count how many different languages I heard: Chinese, Italian, French, Spanish, Arabic, just to name a few. Everyone was happy, taking pictures, having picnics, blowing bubbles, taking pictures, and having a wonderful time. I know it’s a tourist destination, but I couldn’t help wishing it could be like this all over the world, all the time. One can hope.

Niagara was amazing. I didn’t appreciate it as a kid, but just look at the power of the Falls:

IMG_1963

IMG_1960

The edge of the Horseshoe Falls

I can’t post a video because I don’t have a premium plan on WordPress, but watching those millions of gallons constantly flowing over and down just grounded me for a while. I could quite literally sit there and watch it all day if there weren’t so many other people around. I felt at peace.

Taking the Maid of the Mist ride the next day was really cool. The boat goes almost right to the bottom of the falls and everyone gets wet, which feels great on a warm day. Cool little droplets of water sprayed and attached themselves to everything, so I tucked my phone away in the provided poncho when we got really close. The poncho is to keep your clothes dry and you can either keep or recycle it after the ride. We chose to keep ours as souvenirs.

67543528_10219600624391405_8310562169284460544_n

Taken from the rock trail along the American Falls

Leaving Niagara, we made our way via the New York Thruway, I-90, which is a toll road. Some people aren’t fans of toll roads, but I am. They’re usually in better shape than the regular interstates and I LOVE the service plazas. For those that don’t know, service plazas have large restrooms, a couple of fast food restaurants for food choices, perhaps a gift shop, and a gas station all in the same place, no getting off on a regular exit and driving between food and gas stations, hoping for a semi-decent restroom and negotiating traffic to get back on the freeway. Service plazas put it all in one spot and for someone like me who appreciate convenience, they’re a gem on a long road trip. Oh! And they have massage chairs. Three minutes of heaven for $1.00. Sidenote: I-90 is parallel to the Erie Canal Heritage Corridor, which is a lot longer than I thought. I grew up singing, “I’ve got a mule, her name is Sal. Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal”, and for some reason, I never thought it was as long as it is, which is 362.9 miles. Now you’ve learned something new.

We made our way to Cooperstown, home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, nestled in the beautiful rolling mountains of the Adirondacks and the Catskills. I can’t tell you much about the Hall of Fame, except that I thought it would be bigger. I almost drove right past it while dropping Marty and Youngest Child at the entrance. They told me all about it later. They saw plaques, baseball cards, and other stuff, like uniforms. That’s all I’ve got.

As for me, I found a delightful lake, Otsego Lake, to be exact. I had dropped off my family and turned down a side street only to drive right up to a staircase that led to the lake. It was surrounded by small mountains and was crystal clear. After a man and his dog moved on, I was the only one there and it was so calming, so lovely. I took off my sandals and waded in. It was rocky and surprisingly warm, but it centered me for a few minutes before I moved on. Here ’tis:

After my wow moment at Lake Otswago, I made my way to the Farmer’s Museum, also in Cooperstown. It’s like a small Greenfield Village, except that all of the buildings are all from New York. The highlight of my trip was seeing the little Jersey calf, Parsnip, who was born in March. Cows aren’t my favorite barnyard animal, but those big brown eyes were gorgeous. The Farmer’s Museum also has the famous Cardiff Giant, a famous hoax perpetrated in 1869. Here’s a link to the story if you’re interested: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/cardiff-giant-was-just-big-hoax-180965274/

67289093_10219600611631086_8111129748056309760_n

Parsnip

It was also at the Farmer’s Museum that I had a spooky happening. I was in the doctor’s office alone (I had sprinted to get ahead of the senior bus tour). There were only two rooms and no second floor. The first room felt kind of charged, like someone was there and when I walked into the second room, I heard three very loud distinct steps on the wooden floor behind me in the first room. I turned quickly, in case one of those seniors was faster than I thought, but there was no one there. Hmmmm… Here’s the spooky doctor’s office:

We began driving back the next day, stopping in Dunkirk, NY on the shore of Lake Erie for the night. It was the same motel we stopped at last year on the way home from Salem and we liked being right on the water for a reasonable price. It’s not a great part of town, but the hotel area feels safe. Plus, the sunsets there are gorgeous.

67093413_10219600608671012_5701132832726843392_n

Lake Erie, Dunkirk, NY

Yesterday, we came home, processing all of the new things we saw and the adventures we had. We settled in, unpacked, took the dirty clothes downstairs, and relaxed. Life was back to normal. (Well, almost. Our house is rebelling against us, but more on that in another post. Let’s just say it’s hot in here.)

Travel is good for the soul, even the short trips. Next year, though, I want the ocean again.

Read Full Post »

We’re heading out on vacation next week, nowhere particularly fancy this year, just to Niagara Falls for a day and then to Cooperstown, NY so Marty and the Youngest Child can see the National Baseball Hall of Fame. (I’ll be going to the Farming Museum, also in Cooperstown, because while I support the Detroit Tigers and can tell you a lot about baseball, the thought of spending hours around baseball memorabilia makes me fall into an instant coma.) We don’t have a name for our vacation this summer, unlike last year’s Oceans and Dead People Tour, but there are plans for Oceans and Dead People Tour II, possibly next summer. We shall see.

I did, however, insist on being around big water, so Lakes Ontario and Erie will do nicely. I’ve only been to Niagara Falls once before when I was around nine or ten years old and Youngest Child has never been so it will be cool to experience it again. Plus, I’m getting a massage at the spa, so all is well.

I don’t remember much about my first venture to Niagara Falls, but there’s one thing I do remember: The Mummy. No, not the movie. I would have italicized the title if I were talking about a movie. English teacher here. I’m talking about a genuine dried up person that had been alive a few thousand years ago but was, for some reason, on display in a little museum in Niagara Falls. It was amazing.

There are a lot of overpriced touristy-things at Niagara Falls, so we didn’t do a lot of them, but we did go into this little museum. I could not tell you 99.5% of what was in the museum, but I will never forget that it was where I saw my first mummy. It was in this glass case, kind of up high (at least to a ten-year-old) and I was amazed. Not amazed in a grossed-out way, but amazed in a this-is-so-cool-it-used-to-be-a-person!!!!! kind of way. The mummy was touted as an Egyptian pharaoh and had been brought to Canada from Egypt through a collector. We didn’t believe for a minute that this mummy had been a pharaoh, but it was still pretty awesome to see. Unfortunately, it was very common and fashionable in the 19th century for Europeans and North Americans to buy “souvenirs” that had actually been looted from Egyptian tombs, including actual mummies. (Sidenote: Egypt would LOVE all of its artifacts back, by the way.) That’s how this mummy had crossed the Atlantic and ended up in a tourist trap museum in Niagara Falls, Canada.

To make a long story short, years and years later, in 2002 to be exact, a news story came out that this mummy actually was an Egyptian pharaoh! Hearing the rumors about the Niagara Falls mummy, Egyptian archaeologists had tested its DNA and found that it was most likely Ramses I, founder of the Ramses dynasty of pharaohs. You can read the BBC story here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3215747.stm

Since then, I’ve seen many more mummies. There’s one at the Detroit Institute of Arts, there are some incredible natural mummies under St. Michan’s church in Dublin, Ireland, one of which I got to touch, and there are dozens of mummies in the British museum. (Sidenote #2: The St. Michan’s mummies recently made the news because some arsehole broke in and stole a head from one of the mummies. I hope he’s being severely haunted right now. Like Poltergeist-style haunting. Jerk.) Here’s a link to see the Irish mummies: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/st-michans-church

There was also a TV show in the early 2000s called The Mummy Road Show, hosted by two professors. It was on when Youngest Child was a tiny baby, so I watched a lot of that. They also visited the Irish mummies (That sounds like a great band name, doesn’t it?). You can find details on that here: https://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/mummy-road-show/episodes/390281/

I know that many people, my family included, think that my obsession with mummies is a little odd, but I’m okay with that. I’ve always been fascinated with things that a lot of people find odd or disturbing. My mom used to say I was morbid, but to me, mummies are a tangible part of our long distant past. When we study ancient history, we are often limited to just reading about it, but through mummies and artifacts from civilizations past, we can actually see it, touch it. We like to separate ourselves from them, but these are people who lived, breathed, laughed, and loved, just like we do today. They had families, jobs, insecurities, worries, and joys. Somebody loved that face once. They were us, just 5,000 years ago. Mummies make me feel connected, somehow.

I didn’t know how that little visit would awaken such an interest in me, but I’m really glad it did. I’ve seen a lot, read a lot, and my life is richer for it. It’s also fun to say that my first mummy was a pharaoh.

I don’t know if that little museum in Niagara Falls still exists, but if it does, I may just go have a poke around inside. You never know what you’ll find.

If you have any “odd” interests, feel free to post them in the comments. I’m interested to read about them!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »