Touring My Own Neighborhood (and City)

One of the reasons I enjoy working on a birthday list every year is that it gets me out into my own neighborhood and city and helps me appreciate all that is at my doorstep.

A friend and I recently took a historic walking tour of a local neighborhood. I’ve lived in the same three-mile radius for 17 years, and this was the first walking tour I’d taken in the area. It was nice to take the time to look at local architecture and hear some historical facts about the neighborhood. One woman on the tour had grown up in the area, and it was cool to hear her share firsthand knowledge of the changes over time.

Local Art Deco building

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the same time period, I took my first Boston by Foot walking tour. I don’t know what took me so long! I went on the “Dark Side of Boston” tour. The volunteer tour guide was great, and I learned some new things about Boston. I learned that the North End neighborhood used to be extremely dodgy and was called the Black Sea.

I learned that Charles Ponzi, the man behind the Ponzi scheme, created his scheme in Boston. I put a misconception to rest: I thought the Boston Strangler killed his victims in the 1800s; I guess I equated him with Jack the Ripper? Nope, the Boston Strangler was killing his victims in the 1960s. The tour guide grew up in the Boston area and remembered that his neighbors started locking their doors during that time.

There wasn’t much of a dark side to the story of the narrowest house in Boston…just your run-of-the-mill brotherly spite. A father left land to his sons when he died, and the one son built a huge house and left his brother very little land. That brother went ahead and built a house on the tiny spot. The guide said that the house recently sold for $800K. That’s Boston real estate for you…

Skinny house

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Turtle Swamp Brewing

Some friends and I went to a local brewery called Turtle Swamp Brewing one recent glorious Friday afternoon. A couple of us work for an employer that bids us adieu at 3:00 on Fridays in the summer, so we were waiting for the doors of Turtle Swamp to open at 4:00.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We bought beers and staked our claim at a prime spot on the outdoor patio. The weather was perfect and we spent hours there, drinking really good beer (mostly IPAs and pale ales). The food truck that was scheduled to appear had cancelled, so we did an online search for nearby establishments and called in a large pizza.

Being a fan of IPAs and pale ales, I enjoyed the beer and the neighborhood vibe of the patio. I will find my way there some other Friday afternoon this summer…

Putting Makeup in My Hair

I stood in the hair dye aisle at CVS the other day, thinking about dyeing my hair lavender.

But then I spied hair makeup. Hair makeup? That’s a thing that I didn’t know existed. It was very temporary—washing out with shampoo, so it was a no brainer. I picked rose gold because I enjoy that as a color in general.

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It seemed easy enough. Squeeze the tube and the color would come out of a sponge applicator. Color some strands and then blow-dry the hair to “lock in the color.”

I bought; I tried; and maybe I will try again someday. I found it almost impossible to color the strands myself. I managed a few nice strands, but the majority of the hairs I touched with the makeup just ended up a stringy, wet-looking texture.

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I’ll try again someday with a friend who is willing to be a volunteer hair makeup applicator. Have you tried hair makeup?

Western New York History Lessons

I had never heard of Arch Merrill until I found his books at my dad’s house. Merrill worked at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspaper for years and also wrote numerous books about the history and folklore of Western New York.

I read his book Tomahawks and Old Lace recently and really enjoyed it. His writing style is that of a chatty neighbor who lives to tell a good story.

Even though I grew up in Western New York, I don’t think I learned much about its history and folklore. Or if I did, it went in one ear and out the other.

Just a few interesting stories he told in this book:

“The White Woman of the Genesee”

Sam Patch

Mary Jane Holmes (“The name means nothing to you? Then there’s no gray in your hair.”)

George “Dutch” Anderson

I plan to read A River Ramble next, which is about his journey walking the length of the Genesee River.

For Tea Lovers Only

A Japanese teahouse opened up in my neighborhood recently. I saw nitro green tea on the menu (a la nitro coffee) and thought that would be interesting to try for the birthday list.

Well, they were out of the nitro green tea the day that I went. I had been eyeing the pastries as I waited in line to order, so when denied the green tea, I said, “I’ll have a houjicha cookie then. What exactly is that?”

The cashier said it was a cookie made with tea leaves. “OK, sure,” I said. Since I love tea, how bad could it be?

Happy to report that it wasn’t bad. I would even order it again. But this is definitely a cookie for people who like tea. It’s basically like eating tea leaves but in a soft and slightly sweet form.

I also had an iced oolong tea, which was very good. I’ll keep trying for the nitro green tea and will also be trying a sweet bun that is in the shape of a turtle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My birthday is a couple of days away and I’m a little more than halfway through the birthday list. I gave myself an extension until the end of the summer to finish the list this year, since I’ve been busy trying to keep my shit together after my father died suddenly in December. Almost six months later, I’m feeling like one loses the ability to entirely keep one’s shit together after a parent dies. Maybe I’ll feel differently in another six months…

 

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40 things to do on the birthday list!

BirthdayJune 1st, 2015

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