2017 Birthday Trip

OK, I’ve finally made it to the last item on my 2017 birthday list: my birthday trip to Sandwich, Massachusetts.

This is the 13th year that I’ve traveled to a new place for my birthday. I decided to go to another town on the Cape (Cape Cod for non-locals), since I’ve lived in Boston for 18 years and can count on one hand how many times I’ve been to the Cape.

Sandwich caught my eye, because it’s the first town on the Cape, and I found an Airbnb that was within walking distance of the town. The trip had a rough start. I took a bus from Boston, which dropped me off at a Park and Ride lot a few miles from Sandwich. I planned to pick up a regional bus from there that would stop in downtown Sandwich. It was raining very hard as I waited in a bus shelter at the Park and Ride lot for an hour until the regional bus arrived.

Well, the regional bus arrived and blew right past me. The next regional bus would be coming by two hours later. In a panic, I tried to find a local taxi service. All I could find were charter airport buses. I was unable to download the Uber app because there is something wrong with my Apple ID. I contacted my Airbnb host to ask if she knew of any taxi services, but she didn’t respond immediately because she was out running errands.

She did respond eventually and offered to pick me up. I was beyond grateful! She was lovely as was her house. It was built in the 1700s, and our room had a secret panel that an owner built in case he had to run from the Tories during the Revolutionary War.

The rain finally stopped, so I was able to walk around downtown and get afternoon tea at a teahouse. The downtown was very small, but I enjoyed walking past a beautiful church that was featured on an Elvis Presley album cover and seeing the Dexter Grist Mill, which was built in 1637.

My partner Allen drove down the next day, so we were able to see some sites that were farther afield from the downtown area. The Heritage Museums and Gardens was fantastic. The rhododendrons in bloom were beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is also an impressive car collection on display as well as a gallery of American art and a working carousel! You could easily spend an entire day there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had an early dinner and then drove to the Sandwich Boardwalk to watch the sunset. The boardwalk is 1,000+ feet long! Part of it does not have a railing, so I started feeling dizzy while walking to the beach at the end of it. But it was totally worth it. The sunset was breathtaking, but isn’t it always?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before we left town the next day, we went to the Sandwich Glass Museum. Sandwich was a major hub of glass production in the 1800s. We were lucky to catch a glassblowing demonstration when we first entered. Then we spent more than an hour learning about the history of glassmaking in Sandwich and seeing hundreds of glass pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plates, glasses, vases, salt cellars, chickens…all different colors and patterns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sandwich was well worth a visit and I was glad to spend a birthday there. So now I’m counting down to birthday list #43, which will commence in about 1.5 months. !?!??!

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A History of Saving Lives

I spent two enlightening afternoons at two of Boston’s more off-the-beaten-path museums: the Russell Museum of Medical History and Innovation and the Boston Fire Museum.

The Russell Museum gives a historical overview of Massachusetts General Hospital, or MGH, as we locals say. Founded in 1811, MGH is the third-oldest hospital in the U.S.

Russell Museum, Boston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not a large museum, but the artifacts on display are interesting. There is everything from medical instruments from the 1800s to a virtual dissection table that a docent operates for visitors.

Medicine chest from the 1800s

 

 

Virtual dissection table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I learned that the hospital performed the first arm replantation in 1962, dental insurance didn’t exist in the U.S. until the 1950s, and researchers are studying Weddell seals—who can hold their breath for up to an hour when diving—to gain insight on how to help people with conditions associated with low tissue oxygen levels. I’m not big into science and medicine, but I found it fascinating. Definitely worth a visit.

I thought I would be in and out of the Boston Fire Museum in under an hour.

Boston Fire Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The museum is in one big room, which used to be an actual firehouse. When I arrived, there was a children’s birthday party going on, so I quietly strolled along and looked at a number of old fire engines, a display about the devastating Cocoanut Grove fire in 1942, and artifacts such as “clackers” used in colonial times to wake up sleeping families to alert them of a fire or other emergency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had just finished looking at a black-and-white photo of a firefighter emerging from a house fire on a Boston street. The photo was taken in the 1960s; I forget the rank of the firefighter, but he was pretty high up. His lungs were severely damaged during the fire, but he survived. The photo caption also said his three sons were firefighters.

Cue an older gentleman in a red volunteer shirt approaching from stage right, pointing at the photo and saying, “That’s my father.”

Paul and I ended up talking for TWO HOURS. This is what happens when you pair a curious person with a person who exudes passion for his life’s work. He gave me a rundown of his firefighting career. He explained the alarm bell system and all of the different symbols on the helmets that were hanging from the ceiling. Being an animal person, I had to ask him about the horses who used to pull the engines (there was a stable in the back of the firehouse/museum). I’ve always respected firefighters, but my respect reached a new level that day. And it was just a joy to talk with someone who was so dedicated to his career.

Another amazing thing about both museums is that they are free of charge. They gladly accept donations, and I gladly left a donation on my way out.

 

Learning About Armenia

I walked into the Armenian Museum of America not knowing a thing about Armenia, except that its people suffered a genocide (but I had no idea when). At first glance, it looked like a small museum…but I spent almost two hours there.

There were many beautiful artifacts and artworks:

Armenian Museum artifacts

Armenian Museum artifacts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was thrilled to see a Yousuf Karsh exhibit. Born in Armenia, he was a famous photographer who took stunning portraits.

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa

Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The term “genocide” was first coined by a lawyer who was studying the events that led to the extermination of 800,000+ Armenians between 1915 and 1917 by the Ottoman Empire (later known as Turkey). What can I say about this…no words suffice. I’m glad to be informed about this horrific time in world history, but I struggle to comprehend such evil.

The Armenian Museum is well worth a visit if you’re ever in the neighborhood of Watertown, Massachusetts.

DC in Springtime

I finally made it to DC to see the cherry blossoms in April. I stayed with a friend who had an appointment one morning, so she dropped me off at the Tidal Basin, where I spent almost two hours rambling and enjoying the cherry blossoms. The Jefferson, FDR, and MLK Jr. memorials are along the route, which was a bonus. Here are a few of the many photos I took:

cherry blossomscherry blossomscherry blossoms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later that day, my friend and I visited Anderson House, which was first owned by Larz and Isabel Anderson and is now the home of the Society of Cincinnati. I was excited to visit this house because the Andersons had a summer home in the town where I live. All that remains of their summer home is a carriage house with their car collection and a small exhibit about their backgrounds and travels.

Theirs is a privileged and romantic story. They both had more money than they knew what to do with, and Larz was a diplomat in several countries. They traveled everywhere and bought a new car each year. I learned at the auto museum that Isabel was the first woman in Massachusetts to get a driver’s license. Badass! Larz was a bit of a showman so their homes in DC and Massachusetts were opulent and housed many beautiful works of art. Here are a few photos of their DC home:

Anderson House

The mural depicts their gardens at their Massachusetts home.

 

Anderson HouseAnderson House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve only been to DC a handful of times, and I need to rectify that! There is so much to explore there…

Photographic Memories

I’ve loved taking photos since I was a teenager. I’m fairly certain that the pink Le Clic disc camera was my first camera.

Courtesy of liketotally80s.com

Courtesy of liketotally80s.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was looking through some old photos recently and was reminded that I haven’t printed any photos since 2008, besides the occasional photo book of a particular event. Darn you, digital camera! Sometimes I miss the mystery of film…not knowing how your photos turned out until you had them developed.

I made a pact with myself to start ordering prints from the last eight years of my life after recently visiting the George Eastman Museum in my hometown.

I hadn’t been to the museum in years, possibly decades. This seems odd for someone who loves photography, but usually my visits to see family are too brief as it is and there is no time to “sightsee.”

The museum is partly exhibits and partly George Eastman’s house, which he had built in 1902–1905.

The museum exhibits were interesting. My favorite was Jason Lazarus’s Too Hard to Keep, which was part of a bigger exhibit. Since 2010, he has invited people to send him photos that they didn’t want to keep but they didn’t want to destroy. Many of the photos in the room had no description; they were just adhered to the wall. A slide projector on the floor projected slides nowhere. (Some people ask for the photos not to be shared.)

Too Hard to Keep

Too Hard to Keep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the holidays, the museum fundraises by holding gingerbread house and wreath auctions. Thirty-plus houses and wreaths were on display and visitors could bid on each of them. This was one of my favorite gingerbread houses:

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The house itself is beautiful. George had exquisite taste.

Living room of George Eastman's house

Living room of George Eastman’s house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I walked through the house, I wondered what George would think about phone cameras. I think it’s “too easy” to take photos with a phone camera. And what do we all do with the photos? Recently, I’ve quelled my desire to capture every single beautiful moment just because it’s convenient. I saw a breathtaking sunset during a flight a few weeks ago. As I reached for my phone, I said to myself, “Just enjoy the moment. Don’t try to capture it.”

I saw this question in the museum and answered “no.” And so I begin the process of printing out hundreds of photos from the last eight years.

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Do you print out your photos?

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BirthdayJune 1st, 2015

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