Sunday, November 29, 2009

Excursion to Salem

We're trying to explore our new state. Warm Sunday afternoons seem the perfect time, especially now that most of the leaves are blown or raked off the grassy parts of the yard.

Today we headed to Salem, yes witch trial Salem. There was a Witch Museum, but we instead chose to focus on Salem's maritime past. From the mid-1700s to the mid-1800s, Salem was a major trade port. Local products like wood and dried cod were shipped around the world. Elias Hasket Derby, perhaps America's first millionaire, sent his ship Grand Turk to China and India for exotic trade goods. There was little reference to slavery in the signage around the area, but I wouldn't be surprised if that trade too enriched these Northern traders. Privateering also enriched the city during the Revolutionary War. The city prospered from taxes collected at the Customs House where one of the clerks, Nathaniel Hawthorne plotted The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables (which you can visit nearby) while he worked.

At one time Salem was America's 6th largest city. Its fortunes turned for the worse once ships, built too big for its shallow channel, headed to Boston and New York instead. But the density of a bustling early American city remain. Narrow streets are lined with charming houses built in the 1700s with barely a yard between them. Signs on many buildings tell when prominent architects of the time built the homes for wealthy merchants and sea captains. The town is now well maintained and full of little shops and restaurants catering to tourists. But, it was not too crowded on this chilly Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Looking back toward the town from Derby wharf. The ship is a reproduction of one that would typically have unloaded goods here.

Looking out at the channel from the wharf.

That little lighthouse reflects the little use this area gets today. The channel is maintained at 19' through dredging for local pleasure boats. The area around the wharf might be only 1 or 2 feet deep at low tide.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Today I'm trying to find joy and thanks. Last year at this time we had no inkling of what was to come. Since then we've sold our old house and moved to a new one. In some ways we are so lucky to have made this move without financial damage. The kids are adjusting to their new schools. Doug is employed at a job he seems to like and where he is valued. I have every opportunity in the world to find new possibilities and friends in this place.

Today I am thankful for:

food, shelter, warmth
family traveling to be with us for our first Thanksgiving in MA
wonderful books and blogs that bring me inspiration
no more back pain
a son who can do fancy napkin folds

May this Thanksgiving bring you a peaceful, thankful heart.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Feeling Bad

Sorry for not having written for so long. Doug and I went on a terrific weekend away to Cape Cod. Too bad I didn't bring the camera. We explored marshes, a beautiful beach and a swamp where trees grew from mossy tuffets poking out of the water. We visited the spot where Marconi first sent wireless signals across the sea to England. The foundations of his enormous wire web structure have been nearly washed away. We stayed in a lovely B&B and had one of the best dinners I've ever eaten: grilled lobster with cubed chorizo, squash, bechemel, light herbed gnocchi, and pomogranet (sp?) seeds. Sounds weird but it all the flavors complemented one another and were presented beautifully. And it all looked even better after a chocolate margarita. If you get a chance, visit the High Pointe Inn and the Brewster Fish House.

Otherwise I've been in quite a funk. Once we got back from our trip, Renee got sick. We ended up in the emergency room last Monday because I panicked. I'm in the process of finding doctors up here, but we haven't seen anyone yet. I called one of the offices I'm dealing with, and they were trying to be helpful, but I couldn't wait on hold while she cried with stomach pain. I thought it might have been her appendix. Back in NJ, I would have rushed her to our pediatrician. Here I was scared and alone. I called 911, ended up in the emergency room and became one of the statistical patients rushing to the emergency room driving up health care costs! She was fine and we went home after a couple hours and a couple tests. It could have been gas.

This is just an example of everything that is so hard about moving. Nothing is familiar. You don't have any resources to draw on. Every small problem turns big because you don't have your regular doctor, electrician, car repair people. Everything is a search, and I get lost every time! I've been trying to take long walks to stop my brain from evil thoughts. Four and a half hours in the last 3 days.

Monday, November 2, 2009

What is Missing? Maya Lin

Finally a family photo. Taken at Hamlin woods this weekend. Jack balanced the digital camera on a rock and set the self timer. VOILA...

Today I walked back to this lovely conservation area. A wonderful 2 hour walk. Once I reached the woods, a remarkable program came on my headphones: an interview of Maya Lin (the creator of the Vietnam War memorial) about her new memorial What is Missing? It is a multimedia project in museums, on the web, in book form and more to document the 6th mass extinction on Earth, this one caused by habitat change caused by humans. What a remarkable project. What a remarkable woman. Listen to this amazing interview.

It was so meaningful walking slowly around this beautiful pond imagining the losses in habitat and plenty on the Earth. Part of her project recreates what old habitats were like by going back to the diaries of travelers and explorers of the past. For instance, Christopher Columbus in the late 1400s reports that he thought one of his ships was grounded but then realized he had just wandered into a huge group of turtles so thick it stopped his ship. Early European settlers in North America reported 12" oysters, 6' lobsters, and 40 lb wild turkeys. Her project will encourage people today to share their memories of changing environments. I remember hearing loons on Raquette Lake in the Adirondacks when I went to sleep away camp in the late 1970's. Evidently, they are nearly gone.

On the way home I began to pick up trash along the road. Here's what I collected. There could have been more but the bag (that I had found on the roadside) was full and I didn't wander more than a yard or so from the road.

What can you do to help the environment and preserve our planet and its species today? Do you really need to get a new disposable cup of coffee or bottle of water every day?

Sunday, November 1, 2009


So much wind yesterday. It was Halloween, the last day October and the last day for most of our leaves. The narrow wooded part of the driveway was filled with leaves we collected and pulled into the woods.

Halloween was very different from years past. In our old house we got hundreds of trick-or-treaters. This year we had two friends stop by. That's all. In this town tons of people trick-or-treat on one road safe from fast cars, a circular one where all the families expect big crowds. Many homes were expertly decorated for the occasion. We had a pot luck dinner with about 4 other families then went to this area of town and walked the dark street... The only lights came from flashlights, glow sticks and spooky lighted displays. The nearly full moon was enveloped from time to time by the fast moving clouds we could see beyond the dark swaying branches.

Check out this spooky witch and IPod Guy/Disgrunted Teenager

Happy Halloween