Sunday, May 30, 2010

Arlington National Cemetery . . .

On this Memorial Day Weekend, take some time to reflect on the true meaning of this holiday - to remember those who fought for the our freedom and who made the ultimate sacrifice for their countries.

Arlington National Cemetery is located just outside Washington, D.C. in Arlington County, Virginia. On over 600 acres, it is the final resting place for veterans and military casualties from the Civil War to the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict which is still ongoing.  It is situated on land that was once owned by General
Robert E. Lee's wife, Mary Anna, who was a descendant of Martha Washington.

Visiting the cemetery is an interesting and emotional experience.  We visited on a beautiful Spring day - the flowers and trees were in full bloom.  My sons couldn't understand why we were going to visit a cemetery, but soon learned that this was something so much larger and significant.  One of our first destinations was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a monument dedicated to American servicemen who have died without their remains being identified.  We witnessed the changing of the guards - a solemn ceremony that is carried out every half hour during daylight in the summer, and every hour during daylight in the winter and every two hours at night, regardless of weather conditions.  A guard has been on duty at the site continuously, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, since July 2, 1937.

Arlington is the burial place of many notable historic figures, such as President John F. Kennedy, along with two of his brothers, Senator Robert Kennedy and Senator Edward M. Kennedy; President William Howard Taft; Audie Murphy, the most decorated member in the history of U.S. Military; boxing champion Joe Louis, and famous bandleader Glenn Miller who disappeared over the English Channel in 1944.  Miller's body was never found, but he has a memorial headstone that was placed in 1992.

While you are enjoying this beautiful weekend, take some time to remember those who have gone before us.  This beautiful poem, "Memorial Day", was written by noted poet Joyce Kilmer, who was killed in action in World War I:

The bugle echoes shrill and sweet,
But not of war it sings to-day.
The road is rhythmic with the feet
Of men-at-arms who come to pray.
The roses blossom white and red
On tombs where weary soldiers lie;
Flags wave above the honored dead
And martial music cleaves the sky.
Above their wreath-strewn graves we kneel,
They kept the faith and fought the fight.

Through flying lead and crimson steel
They plunged for Freedom and the Right.
May we, their grateful children, learn
Their strength, who lie beneath the sod,
Who went through fire and death to earn
At last the accolade of God.
In shining rank on rank arrayed
They march, the legions of the Lord;
He is their Captain unafraid,
The Prince of Peace . . . Who brought a sword

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wordless Wednesday . . .

Welcome to "Wordless Wednesday", and because the holiday weekend is quickly approaching, I thought I would use a photo I took on Memorial Day, 2008:

Queen Mary 2 in Boston Harbor- Memorial Day Weekend, 2008

Happy Wednesday!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

One is Nearer to God in a Garden Than Anywhere Else on Earth . . .

It was a beautiful weekend here in Massachusetts - warm weather, blue skies, puffy white clouds - a perfect day to visit our new community garden plot.  I've never had a vegetable garden - most people who know me would say I'm more of an "indoor girl" - hanging outside with bugs and snakes really isn't my idea of fun!  But this year I thought it would be good for the boys to experience growing veggies . . . even if they don't end up eating any of them!

After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver a few weeks ago, I was inspired to try to improve the quality of the food we consume, and to eat what is local and in season.  During the summer months I shop at a local farmers' market in an effort to support local growers, and thought that growing our own veggies would be a step in the right direction to greener living.

Our plot is part of the Bridgewater Growing Spaces Community Garden, which was developed through a local state college.  It is rather large - 20' x 20' - so I have much planning, seed and plant purchasing, and planting planned for the upcoming week (it has to be fully planted by June 8th).  I'm looking forward to the challenge and hope to shower my friends and family with the fruits of my labor in the upcoming weeks!

But right now - it looks a little dreary and empty!  Other plots are already on their way, but since I was a little late in getting into the program my garden mate's have a head start on me!  Some of them are already looking prosperous!

Since the garden is located in the middle of an area of beautiful farm lands (well, as long as you don't look toward the South - where there is a state prison!); you really feel like a farmer when you visit there!

I'm planning on growing tomatoes, peppers, beans, zucchini and summer squash - if anyone has any further suggestions I would gladly take them!  After I have it planted I will post photos of the progress during the upcoming months!

Happy Gardening!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Battleship Cove . . .

Wednesday was a bleak, rainy day . . . a good day to hang in and watch movies? No! After having been trapped in the house for a few days due to a stomach bug, I decided to venture out for a walk and get some fresh air!

Where did I go? Fall River, Massachusetts - home of Battleship Cove.

Battleship Cove is a floating museum that houses the U.S.S. Massachusetts, the U.S.S. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. and the submarine U.S.S. Lionfish.

The U.S.S. Massachusetts (nicknamed "Big Mamie" by her crewmembers) was built in the Fore River Shipyard in my hometown of Quincy, Massachusetts, and was launched in September, 1941.  She fought in the Solomon Islands and the Philippines during World War II; it is also believed that she may have fired the the Navy's first and last 16 inch shells of the war.

Because of her service during WWII, citizens of her home state of Massachusetts raised money for her transfer to the Massachusetts Memorial Committee, and in 1965 she was towed to her current location at Battleship Cove where she was opened as a museum. She is one of eight surviving battleships built by the United States Navy.

The destroyer at Battleship Cove, the U.S.S. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., was named after Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., brother of President John F. Kennedy, who was was killed in action in WWII; it served in the blockade of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

The U.S.S. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.

The USS Lionfish, the only submarine at Battleship Cove, patrolled the waters of the Pacific during WWII, and was the only ship in the Navy named for the lionfish (a fish found in the West Indies and the Pacific).

The U.S.S. Lionfish

Battleship Cove hosts hundreds of field trips, scout overnights, veterans' groups and tourists every year.  Since 1965, it has added more educational exhibits to introduce the younger generations to the history and sacrifices made during World War II.

My sons on a scout overnight trip to the U.S.S. Massachusetts

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Battle Road Trail . . .

Welcome to "Wordless Wednesday" . . .

Along the Battle Road Trail in Concord, Massachusetts

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Fluff . . .

This has been one of those crazy weeks - Cub Scout end of year preparation, camping trip for my oldest, sick cat - translating to no time!!  I try to keep to at least an "every other day" of blogging - but slipped this week!  I sat down to write last night (after frantically packing my oldest son for his first Boy Scout camping trip), after I had made a trip out to his campsite with one thing he forgot - only to get a phone call that he forgot his pillow - back out to the campsite!  Needless to say, my energy was waning after that and my blog entry fell by the wayside!

So, a day late, I am wishing happy birthday to one of my favorite things - Marshmallow Fluff!  On May 14, 1920 in Massachusetts, H. Allen Durkee and Fred L. Mower, decided to work together to make this sweet invention.  Previously candy makers, they started out with little money and an idea - within ten years they had opened a factory in Lynn, Massachusetts and were the largest distributors of marshmallow cream in New England.

In the 1930s, they were among the first to use radio as advertisers with their sponsorship of the "Flufferettes" radio show, with jingles like this (downloaded from their website as an MP3 - I now think I am probably the only person in the world who now has the Fluff jingle on their Ipod!):

"Want something delicious
You know well enough
You'll get your wishes
With Marshmallow Fluff"

Fluff went on to collaborate with other products to develop some time-tested favorite recipes, such as Kellogg's Rice Krispies (who doesn't love those Rice Krispie treats?), and Nestle's for a simple fudge recipe that still is on the label of every jar of Fluff sold!

And, the most famous Fluff collaboration:  The "Fluffernutter"!

So, happy belated birthday, Fluff - I hope to find you in my grocery store shelves for another 90 years!  Be sure to visit their website for a more recipes, history and products!

Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wordless Wednesday . . .

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday. . .
 My favorite city on a beautiful Fall afternoon!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day . . .

Happy Mother's Day!  As I have written about in the past, I lost my Mom twenty years ago.  Instead of writing a long, sad entry about how my mother longer with me, I thought I would celebrate the fact that I had a great Mom for 24 years through some photos and a poem.

Me and Mom - 1967

With my sisters and I on the dock of our cottage - about 1970

At the Cape Cod National Seashore - about 1968

In the backyard of the house I grew up in with my older sisters . . . before I was born!

Our last Christmas with her in 1989 . . .  she passed away three weeks later

I discovered this beautiful poem by David Harkins that seems fitting:

You can shed tears that she is gone,
or you can smile because she has lived.

You can close your eyes and pray that she'll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all she's left.

Your heart can be empty because you can't see her,
or you can be full of the love you shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember her only that she is gone,
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.

You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back.

Or you can do what she'd want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

Now I have children of my own to help me celebrate Mother's Day, and since I've had them, Mother's Day has been a little happier!

One thing I learned that I have in common with my mother in researching this entry . . . camera shyness!  I had to search high and low to find photos of my Mom with us - there weren't many!  As you can tell from the photos of me with my sons - I'm not one to have my picture taken either as these are rather old!  From now on I'm going to make an effort to be in more photos with them!

Happy Mother's Day!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Who Are The People In Your Neighborhood . . . The People That You Meet Each Day . . .

Last month I wrote my first entry for the Living Out Loud Project, where bloggers and other writers all write an entry based on a theme.  This month's project is "The People in Your Neighborhood", with the subject being current neighbors, or people from the neighborhood where you grew up.

The neighborhood of my youth was a typical suburban neighborhood in a city just south of Boston.  Houses were filled with families who either had lived their for entire lives, sprinkled with people who had fled the Boston during the turbulent times of forced school busing in the 1970s.  At the time, I thought it was a normal neighborhood - families, a few elderly people - mostly single family homes.  Everyone walked to school, most mothers didn't work, and kids were free to just walk out the door and go off to play with their friends as long as they were home for dinner.  I still have good friends from the neighborhood - but only one family that I grew up remains on my old street.

In talking about the different people from my former neighborhood with old friends now, we laughingly realize that we had quite a few colorful characters and oddities in our little corner of the world.  Maybe twenty years from now when it is part of my very distant past I will write an entry about it (I've been out of that neighborhood for twenty years as our house was sold in 1991 shortly after my mother passed away).  It would be quite interesting to describe some of the people and happenings, but as many of them are still with us I will refrain from elaborating on it for now!

In 1994 I moved to my current neighborhood.  It is a bit of a stretch to call it a "neighborhood" as my town is rural, and though there are houses everywhere, it is a far cry from where I grew up.  My street is rather busy and there are no sidewalks - my children don't have the luxury of heading off down the street on their bikes, or simply being able to walk to their friends' houses like I did as a child.  Most of their friends live miles away in other parts of the town and they have to be driven everywhere.  We bought the house before we were even engaged, so it never occurred to us that the location wasn't "kid friendly".  We thought it would be our "starter home", but as time went on, with job changes, real estate market fluctuations, etc., we have had the gumption to actually sell it and move into something that would be better suited for the kids.  We've put lots of money into renovating it and are comfortable with it financially - the idea of having a huge mortgage and not having any extra money to travel scares me.

We are very fortunate to have great neighbors here.  One of our first contact with our next door neighbors was during a small incident of basement flooding.  We had just moved in two months prior and we ignorant to fact that our house gets tends to get basement water during certain weather conditions (maybe we should have noticed when we looked at the house that everything in the basement was sitting up on pallets).  We arrived home one night from work to find about 4 inches of water on the cellar floor.  Panicked, we called our next door neighbor who calmly came over and helped us through our first crisis as homeowners!

During our recently flooding crisis in March, we all tried to help each other as everyone had flooding issues.  We were fortunate as we only had a little water and and were able to control it, but other neighbors were were not as fortunate.  We all banded together and tried to lend whatever support to each other that we could - even if it was just a little moral support and spirit boosting!

My favorite neighbor story doesn't involve my human neighbors, but those of the furry variety.  My family had a dog, Willy, for many years.  In 2004 Willy suddenly became very ill (he was about 14 years old), and we sadly had to put him to sleep.  In our family we have a little area where we bury our pets (we have lost three cats since living here also).  Willy passed on a Saturday afternoon, and my husband went out to the area out in the far corner of our backyard to dig Will's final resting place.  Two neighbor dogs, a German Shepherd and a Golden Retriever, came over from their respective yards and solemnly watched as my husband dug Will's final resting spot, and stayed there until the area was covered and complete.  It was like they fully understood what was happening and wanted to pay their respects to their departed friend.  It was very touching.

It's too bad this entry is already so lengthy because I could go on about some of the other great neighbors we are lucky to live near.  For now, we don't see ourselves leaving this house for a long time . . . but when we do it will be tough to leave our great neighbors - both the human and "wild" ones!

My cat Cody visiting with our wild turkey neighbors!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wordless Wednesday . . .

Welcome to my first "Wordless Wednesday" entry!  Well, since I have to explain what "Wordless Wednesday" is - there will be a few words!  I found "Wordless Wednesday" last week, and since I take about a million pictures a week (well, slight exaggeration) I thought it would be a great way to put some of them on my blog!  My first entry . . .

The "no longer free range" chickens!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Boston Children's Museum . . .

With summer fast approaching, I thought I would highlight some of the places in the Boston area that are great places for families to visit.  First on the list, the Boston Children's Museum.

The museum opened in 1913 - it is the second oldest children's museum in the US (the oldest is the Brooklyn Children's Museum which opened in 1899).  The Boston Children's Museum's first site was near Jamaica Pond in the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain; the Museum moved to its present location in a former warehouse on Fort Point Channel in near downtown Boston in 1979.   

The museum has evolved over the years; it currently occupies three floors and has both permanent and visiting exhibits, and all are very interactive for ages toddler on up.  One of the permanent exhibits is based on the popular PBS series "Arthur" (creator Marc Brown hails from the Boston area) - you can visit Arthur's home, school and even become part of his show through a special video set up.

My youngest son - in Arthur's world!

Some of the other popular exhibits include a construction zone (inspired by Boston's infamous "Big Dig") where kids can climb on Bobcats and learn about different aspects of construction:

In the "Construction Zone"

Other exhibits include "Peep's World" (based on the popular PBS series), "Science Playground" where kids can learn about the laws of motion . . . or just play with bubbles, and "Boston Black . . . A City Connects" which explores Boston’s African American community.

The favorite exhibit by far for my sons was the "New Balance Climb", a three-story rope climbing structure located in the lobby of the museum - they could have spent an entire day in it!  For parents of younger children, the climbing structure sits right next to a set of stairs so you can climb up alongside your child if you are nervous about them climbing!

The New Balance Climb

If you plan on visiting Boston during the summer months and have children - make a stop at the Boston Children's Museum.  There are restaurants on site (including one in the historic Hood Milk Bottle in front of the museum)!

It is a stone's throw away from the popular tourist destinations of Fanueil Hall and the North End, and there are large, affordable parking lots only two blocks away.  It can also be easily accessed by subway or commuter rail from South Station in Boston - the station is about a 5-7 minute walk from the Museum.  For more Boston tourism information, visit the The Greater Boston Convention and Visitor Bureau website!