Weekend Musings: July 24, 2021

I survived my first time week of work back in the office.  And I survived the commute.  I can honestly say I didn’t do anything there that I couldn’t have done from home.  It gives one a lot of think about.

I’ve been playing around with my rock polisher too.  I’ve found that some of the rocks have a lot of shrinkage, sometimes almost the entire rock!  I think that I’m going to try skipping the first two rougher cycles, to see if my ocean polished rocks just need the two more gentle polish cycles.  I guess that’s part of the fun!  Practicing to see what gives the best results.

Yellow went back to the vet yesterday for a little surgical intervention.  He’s had a small abscess in his armpit since before I brought him inside.  It hadn’t healed, despite two rounds of antibiotics.  So they put him under, cleaned it up and sutured it; hopefully the stitches will give him the jump on this persistent wound and help it finally heal.  He was pretty mad at me last night after we got home.  Fortunately he seems to have forgiven me today and is snoozing on my lap, while Cora sleeps in the puff next to me.  And even better, the sutures are the dissolving kind, so as long as he heals I don’t have to take him back to the vet to have them removed.

Other than that it has been a quiet weekend so far.  I hope you are all doing well!

 

Circus Trip 2018: Gadby’s Tavern, Alexandria, VA

Day 59, Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Gadby’s Tavern, Alexandria, Virginia

After I left the Boston area, I had plans to visit a friend of mine who lives in Alexandria, Virginia.  I was going to spend a few days there, and use that as my jumping off point for visiting Washington, D.C.  I had left Quincy, Massachusetts, and embarked on a long drive through multiple states to get to Alexandria.  I split it over two days, as it is a total of about eight hours driving, through a lot of traffic.  Heading from Massachusetts to Alexandria meant I had to skip some great locations, but you can’t possibly see everything on a trip, I suppose.  It was tough to drive through so many great places and just pass them by!  Connecticut, New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Delaware, and more!  I so very much want to go back and see all these places!

All that said, I rolled into Alexandria about 4 in the afternoon, and headed to Jason’s house.  He had planned a surprise for my visit! He knows how much I love history, so he made reservations at Gadsby’s Tavern!

Gadsby’s Tavern was originally built in 1785 by Marylander John Wise, and opened the building next door as the Federal City Tavern in 1792.  There was another tavern on the site before the current building though, which reportedly was in business from around 1770.  An Englishman named Gadsby leased the tavern in 1796; the current name is a nod to him. 

Back in the late 1700s, several notable guests frequented the tavern, including Founding Fathers and Presidents!  George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and the Marquis de Lafayette were all known visitors to the taverns here.  A banquet was even held in Washington’s honor here in 1801; how cool to be in the same place where these men talked politics. 

Gadsby operated the tavern until 1815, and then passed through various hands and it was various businesses, until it fell into disrepair and abandonment.  In 1917, in this sad state, some of the ballroom woodwork was sold to the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, where it apparently remains today.  However, this was the catalyst for the historic preservation.  Gadsby’s Tavern was restored to the period of the late 1700s, and reopened as a restaurant in 1976.

There is a fine dining atmosphere, with delicious food and ambiance.  I had the herb encrusted grill salmon, finished with a balsamic glaze, and served with jasmine rice and sauteed spinach, and a glass of white wine.  To add to its charm, period actors make their way around the room, reciting the words of our Founding Fathers and engaging restaurant patrons in discussions on the governance of our young, budding country!

It was so much fun getting to see Jason and watch the actors engage with people!  An amazing experience for a history nerd like me!  

After dinner we wandered around Alexandria and got ice cream nearby, just chatting and catching up.  I certainly want to go back and see more of this fascinating and historic city!

 

Weekend Musings: July 17, 2021

I can’t help but lament that summer is already halfway over, and I feel like I haven’t really done anything yet?!

I mean, I did take my trip to Minnesota, but technically that was still spring.  I need a summer vacation! 

So, in pretty boring news, I’ve been taking evening walks, reading, and doing a bit of purging and organizing.  I did take a load of stuff to Goodwill a week and a half ago, and I need to keep up the motivation! 

I also finished my latest puzzle about a week and a half ago.  Time to start a new one!

My workplace is all going back into the office full-time on Monday.  I’m torn on this.  I have enjoyed working at home, and I have enjoyed not having that long, long commute everyday.  That said, the decision has been made, and I am looking forward to having some more in-person interaction.  Cora and Yellow are going to be in for a rude awakening!  And I’m going to see a lot more sunrises!  Long-term though, I hope I’ll be able to do a hybrid schedule where I’m only in the office a couple of days a week. 

Yesterday afternoon I took a little trip up to a beach about 20 miles away, and did some rock hunting.  I found some pretties for the polisher.  It’s so weird to be able to look across the water at Canada and not be able to go there!  The border has been closed for almost a year and a half!  That has had a huge impact on the economy of my community, which has always relied on Canadian shoppers and tourists.  Ah, the things you don’t see on the news.  

Yesterday marked the three year anniversary of the day I began my big road trip.  It has been craving a road trip soooo bad!  I just want to pack up and hit the road!  Unfortunately, with the job and all, that’s not going to be an option for a while.  The good news is that I have a week away coming up in a few weeks.  That should give me the break I’m needing! 

 

Book Review: The German Girl

The German Girl is the debut novel of Armando Lucas Correa, a Cuban author.  It was published in 2016 in both Spanish and English.

The German Girl

The story is that of two girls, brought together over time.  Hannah Rosenthal, a German Jewish refugee fleeing to Cuba via ocean liner in 1939.  And Anna, a 14 year old girl living in New York City.

The perspective shifts back and forth between the two of them as the story unfolds, piece by piece.  Hannah’s flight from Germany, trying to escape the reach of the Nazis.  Anna’s trying to learn why her father left her, and understand why her mother just doesn’t have the energy to get out of bed.  I don’t want to reveal much, as the suspense and hold of the story would be diminished if you knew what was waiting around the next corner.

This novel was incredible.  Sweet, and heartbreaking, it pulls you in page after page, not wanting to put it down.  What will happen to these girls as their lives unfold?

5 stars.

 

Circus Trip 2018: John Adams

Day 58, Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Adams National Historical Park, Quincy, Massachusetts

Quincy, Massachusetts was the Adams’ family hometown for multiple generations.  As a result, there are multiple sites with Adams history, aside from the John Adams National Historical Park, where a history nerd like me can literally walk in the footsteps of two of our nation’s Presidents.

John and John Quincy Adams and their families both attended the United First Parish Church, a Unitarian church.  The church first gathered in 1636 as a branch of the Church of Boston, which was founded in 1633.  First Parish then became an independent church in 1639.  It was originally founded as a Puritan church, but became a Unitarian parish in 1750.

Both Adams were lifelong members of the congregation, and their tombs are beneath the church; they share a crypt with their wives Abigail and Louisa Catherine.  In addition, the Patriot John Hancock was baptized here.

I visited the church and the docents were happy to show me around.  I got to sit in the Adams pew, where John Adams and his family sat whenever they attended.  They also took me downstairs to the crypt to view John and John Quincy Adams’ tombs.  It was so humbling to sit where these Presidents sat and pay my respects at their graves.  I was all alone with the docent, and she was kind and knowledgeable, and even offered to take my picture in the pew!

Outside, the town cemetery contains the graves of many more Adams family members, including John Adams’ grandparents.  When I got on the road and headed out that day, I was happy to have spent some time with these important historical figures!

Oh, and just so you know, today – July 11 – is John Quincy Adams birthday! 

Book Review: Emma

Emma, by Jane Austen

By all accounts, Jane Austen led a sheltered life.  So perhaps it is somewhat surprising that she had an uncanny ability to see deeply into the emotional lives of people.  Her six novels describe the nuances of people, and she had a gift for writing about the complex personalities of her characters and their daily lives, in a way that brought them to life.  All this despite the fact that Austen lived her entire life in only a few places, without much money or prospects. She never married, and died after a long illness at the age of 41.

Emma

Emma is no exception to Austen’s talent for character development.  She is a bright, vivacious young woman who lives with her sickly father in the small village of Highbury, sixteen miles outside of London.  She has decided that she will never marry. 

Emma spends her days socializing, taking care of her father, matchmaking for her friends, and forming opinions about all her neighbors and acquaintances.  Sometimes her meddling goes awry, as when she convinces her friend Harriet that a Mr. Elton is interested in courting her, and encourages to discard another suitor whom Emma deems not good enough.  When Mr. Elton returns from Bath with a wife, well, OOPS…  Emma continues along this way, a wealthy society girl with nothing better to occupy her time than judging everybody she comes into contact with. 

The most action in the novel are a foray to a nearby home to pick strawberries, a minor run-in with a band of gypsies, and planning a ball that almost ended up not happening.  Many describe Emma as Austen’s worst novel due to this lack of action, but it still contains the rich character development.  You still see Emma’s strengths and flaws, and find yourself relating to her cringe-worthy moments.  I mean, we’ve all been there.  You become invested in the characters.  I found myself truly wanting them to succeed or fail. 

That said, it is probably still my least favorite of the Austen novels, but I’m still glad I finally read it. 

3 stars. 

COVID Diaries: Day 467

Today is the third day in a row that it has felt hotter than the surface of the sun here in the Pacific Northwest.  The predictions for a record breaking heatwave were not exaggerated.  Both yesterday and today, we have broken an the all-time high temperature for my city.  96 degrees yesterday, and 99 today.  Out in the county, and further south the temps are about 10 degrees hotter.  Where my mom lives, it topped out at 108 today. 
 
I know many of you probably read this and wonder why we Northwesterners can’t handle the heat.  But hear me out.  We rarely (or never?) get temps this high here.  Only about a third of the homes here even have air-conditioning.  Our temperatures are moderate year round, so our homes aren’t insulated in a way that keeps out the heat.
 
My non-air-conditioned home reached a high of 93 degrees yesterday and 95 today.  Yes, that’s INSIDE.  And that’s on the first floor, where the thermostat is.  I would guess that upstairs is about 10 degrees hotter.  And before you say, just go somewhere cool, there really isn’t someplace cool.  Many of our restaurants and public buildings don’t have air-conditioning either.  In fact, many of our restaurants have shut down because of the heat.  Even if they were open, we are still dealing with COVID capacity limits…  UGH.
 
The pavement on some of our roads is literally buckling.  They have closed roads and highways to assess the safety of the roads and the damage.
 
I’ve been chilling wet food for the kitties, and giving them cold, cold water.  They are basically just lying around in a puddle. That’s pretty much how I feel.  I’ve been drinking so much water and iced tea and moving a fan around wherever I go.  I’m still hot!
 
Last night I went out for a cocktail with a friend in the glorious air conditioning!  It was hard to leave.  Seriously.
The good news is that today is supposed to be the last day of the crippling heat.  Tomorrow’s high forecast temperature here is 83 degrees.  I imagine I’ll have to put on a sweater – HA!  I have been sleeping on the couch because my bedroom is upstairs, and I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tomorrow night.  Right now 5 minutes upstairs has me sweating like I’ve been pouring water over the rocks in a sauna!  I just have to make it through tonight!
I hope you are all staying cool!

Circus Trip 2018: Adams NHP

Day 58, Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Adams National Historical Park, Quincy, Massachusetts

Our second President John Adams lived almost his whole life in Quincy, Massachusetts.  Which makes it easy for a person who wants to see most of the homes a President has lived in, in one tour!  In actuality, Adams was born in 1735 in Braintree, Massachusetts, but the part of Braintree where he was born eventually became Quincy.

The Adams National Historical Park contains an incredible amount of Adams family history, and in a small area around Quincy.  The visitor’s center is downtown, and from there you can book a trolley tour that takes you to the John Adams birthplace home, the John Quincy Adams birthplace home where John and Abigail raised their family, and finally, Peace field, the home that John and Abigail purchased as their retirement home.  The tours are on hiatus due to COVID, so you can come along on mine!

The John Adams Birthplace home is a saltbox style home, originally built in 1681.  It was purchased in 1720 by John Adams’ father, Deacon John Adams, and John was born there in 1735.  It is the first stop on the tour, and you get to go inside and check out the first floor rooms.  There is such history here!

The John Quincy Adams Birthplace home is also a traditional saltbox style home, originally built in 1663, and purchased by John Adams’ father in 1744.  John Adams inherited it when his father passed in 1661, and moved Abigail to this home, right next door to his own birthplace home.  Their son, John Quincy Adams, was born in this home in 1767.  John Adams also drafted the Massachusetts State Constitution from this home in 1779.

In 1787, John and Abigail Adams purchased Peace field, a home that was to be their retirement home, and moved there in 1788.  It was built originally in 1731, and at that time consisted of two first floor rooms, two bedrooms and an attic.  John and Abigail had purchased it sight unseen while they were living in London, after the loyalist owners left Massachusetts during the Revolutionary War.  Abigail was dissatisfied by the home, and set about enlarging it.  Now, Peace field is much larger than the other homes, and more modern.  Four generations of the Adams family lived here, from from 1788 to 1927.  The home was donated to the Park Service in 1946. 

The homes are all incredible, but one building on this tour really takes the cake.  The Stone Library was built in 1870; it was stipulated in John Quincy Adams’ will in 1847.  It took his son Charles another 23 years to finish it, but now about 10% of the books it contains belonged to John Adams, and the majority were from John Quincy Adams’ collection.  The Adams family children between 1870 and 1927 were able to use the library to read and write, and at least four books were written here.  Charles Francis Adams wrote portions of the ten volume, Diary of John Adams, the twelve volume, The Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, and The Letters of Abigail Adams in this library, and his son, Henry Adams worked on his History of the United States here too.

What a wonderful tour to see these historic sites!

 

 

COVID Diaries: Day 464

It’s the weekend! Unfortunately, it is going to be a scorcher! The Pacific Northwest is going to have record breaking heat through Monday, and in an area where most of us don’t have air conditioning! It is supposed to be 96 degrees here on Monday!

Still, I made it through my workweek and I’m glad to get a few days of a break, so that’s cause for celebration.

I’m hoping to get some home purging done, going through closets and drawers, and getting rid of things I don’t need. Let’s see how I do!  I’m sure I’ll have to carry the fan around throughout the house as I go, and point it directly at me.  I also want to give this blog some attention, and go through the photos from my trip!

Next week, our state is going to fully reopen.  It’s been a long time coming, as we are one of only four states yet to reopen.

On my flight home on Sunday, I watched Nomadland, with Frances McDormand.  First of all, she is an incredible actress.  Second of all, even though the movie was hyped as super-depressing, I was inspired!  I have been thinking an awful lot over the last year about my road trip and getting back on the road.  I’ll admit that I plan to do it with quite a bit more of a safety net in terms of money but traveling around and seeing the country (and the world), has such an appeal for me!  I’ve been focusing on saving money for my early retirement throughout COVID, and this just makes me want to buckle down and get there faster!

Life is short, and nothing is guaranteed, so we should do what we can to achieve our dreams.  I always feel so grateful that my parents had 20 years of retirement to enjoy before my father died, but that was only because he retired at 53.  What if he had waited until he was 65?  If there is anything that I have learned, it is that I’m not working a day longer than I have to.

Happy Friday everybody!

COVID Words of Wisdom: “We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.” ― Confucius