Thursday, December 16, 2010


I love cookies. I LOVE COOKIES!!! I just do. I like to eat them, I like to bake them, I even like to look at them, although that often leads to eating them.

I know many people that know me will now say SHUT UP! But I’ve been trying, somewhat unsuccessfully lately, to watch my weight. It’s been creeping up a little, and I don’t really know why. I’ve been hungry, and I’m home a lot, and I’m not marathon training any more. Probably all of those things are a factor. But when I started baking Christmas cookies this year, I knew that if I didn’t put them away, they would never make it to Christmas. So the ones I’ve made so far are in the freezer downstairs. That’s working pretty well, except for the past couple of days while I was cleaning the basement, they were awfully close by, and occasionally I could hear them calling to me…I’ve resisted so far, but it’s a good thing Christmas will be here soon; I’m not sure I can last much longer.

I really love almost all cookies, but there are some I love more than others. Of course there’s Girl Scout Cookies – especially Samoas and Thin Mints. And then there’s Christmas cookies. We’ve experimented with different Christmas cookies over the years. I used to make these really cute gingerbread men. They were fun to decorate, but they weren’t that great to eat, so I’ve stopped making them. And we used to make cookie-cutter cookies, again because they were fun to make and decorate. But we all really like cookie-press cookies better, so I’ve stopped making the cookie cutter cookies, at least until I have grandchildren.

And then there’s Lep Cookies. My husband’s family makes these every thanksgiving in a huge batch. Some years they have made as many as 600 cookies, to divide throughout the family.

This year we only made a half recipe, so there were only around 300 cookies. A cookie that is something like a dried fruit bar, only more flavorful, chewy and delicious, I can eat enough Lep cookies to make myself sick. We brought a boxful back with us from Missouri this thanksgiving and yes, they too are relegated to the freezer until next week.

Cranberry-Orange and Cherry-Pecan Butter Cookies
But the butter cookies from Gourmet Magazine, December 1995, are a must.  With these cookies, you make a basic butter cookie recipe and then add various ingredients to make different sorts of cookies. A week ago I was going to a Christmas party that included a cookie exchange. I made two different types of the butter cookies for the party.   I’ve also made gum drop cookies, from an old Schnell family recipe.

Gumdrop Cookies

I’m waiting until the kids get here to make more butter cookies, and then we’ll make some cookie-press cookies too. I’ve also been fantasizing about Pecan Tassys, those scrumptious little pastry tarts that are like a mini pecan pie. I’ve never made them before, because my mother-in-law does such a fine job of it, and they look pretty labor intensive. But maybe I’ll try my hand at them next week as well.

Then there are the cookies from my family, especially my mother’s delicious kumish bread. I don’t have my mom’s recipe; maybe the next time I’m in St. Louis I should try to get it.

So here, in the spirit of the season, are a few of my favorite cookie recipes:

Basic Butter Cookie
4 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
¾ tsp salt
3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 2/3rd cups all-purpose flour

In large bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat together butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in yolks, 1 at a time, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Beat in flour gradually, beating dough until just combined well. Makes about 3 pounds dough, or enough for 2 of the following recipes.

Chocolate Coconut Butter Cookies - Photo from the Cover of Gourmet Magazine, Dec. 1995

Chocolate-dipped Coconut Sticks

2 ½ cups sweetened flaked coconut, toasted golden and cooled
½ prepared basic butter cookie dough at room temperature
2 cups chopped semisweet chocolate chips

In bowl of a standing electric mixer beat coconut into basic dough until just combined well. Halve dough and on 2 pieces of wax paper pat into 11 by 2 ½ inch rectangles. Chill dough, wrapped in wax paper, until firm, about 30 minutes. Preheat over to 350F. Working with 1 rectangle of dough at a time, on a cutting board cut dough crosswise into ¼-inch slices, arranging slices 1 inch apart on baking sheets. With a sharp knife halve each slice lengthwise to form sticks, separating them slightly with a knife.

Bake cookies in batches in middle of oven until pale golden, about 12 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheets 2 minutes and transfer carefully to racks to cool completely.

In a small metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt chocolate, stirring. Gently dip 1 end of each stick in chocolate, dragging underside against bowl’s rim to remove excess chocolate, and transfer sticks to sheets of wax paper. When chocolate has hardened, cookies may be stored between layers of wax paper in airtight containers up to 6 weeks frozen. Makes about 15 dozen cookies.

Orange Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup dried cranberries
¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 ½ teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
½ prepared basic butter cookie dough at room temperature
About ½ cup sugar

In a bowl soak cranberries in warm water to cover 15 minutes. Drain cranberries well and chop fine.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In bowl of a standing electric mixer beat cranberries, oats, and zest into basic dough until just combined well. Form dough into 1 inch balls and roll balls in sugar to coat. Arrange balls 2 inches apart on baking sheets and flatten to 2 inch rounds with bottom of a glass wrapped in wax paper to prevent sticking.

Bake cookies in batches in middle of oven until pale golden, about 12 minutes, and cool on racks. Cookies may be stored between layers of wax paper in airtight containers up to 6 weeks frozen. Makes about 7 dozen cookies.

Gum Drop Cookies

4 eggs, beaten
2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup chopped pecans
1 cup gum drops (small, spiced)
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375F. Beat eggs, add brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Add milk. Add flour and cinnamon and beat until combined. Add pecans and gumdrops. Pour into a well-greased and floured 9x12 inch pan. Bake 30 minutes, until toothpick in center comes out clean. Cut into small squares while warm. Remove from pan and roll in powdered sugar. Cool completely before storing.

This recipe differs slightly from the one handed down in my husband’s family. I added ½ flour, increased the temperature of the oven to 375 and cook the cookies for an additional 10 minutes.

Lep Cookies

Don’t even THINK about making these cookies unless you have 4 or 5 people to help you! A half recipe is more manageable but still requires a very large bowl and lots of cookie sheets to keep things moving.

1 Quart Crisco
2 eggs
3 pints molasses
2 cups brown sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
½ pint sour cream
1 TB cinnamon
1 ½ # candied fruit in ½ pint brandy
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ginger
3-5 lb flour
¼ cup baking soda
1 # dates
1 # figs
2 # raisins
2 ½ quarts nuts

Chop and combine the dried fruit, brandy, dates, figs and raisins the night before. Not a bad idea to chop the nuts the night before either.

Combine the Crisco, eggs, and brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Add salt, sour cream, spices. Gradually add flour until it becomes too stiff and massive for a standing mixer to handle. Transfer the flour mixture to a very, very, VERY large bowl. Go ahead and add the fruit and nuts at this point.  Continue to add flour gradually, mixing it in by hand, until you have a stiff cookie dough that can be rolled out. Most of the flour will have been added at this point, but you will add more as you roll it out.

Using about 2 cups of cookie dough at a time, roll the dough out on a well floured surface, adding more flour as needed, to about ¼ inch thickness. Cut into bars, about 2x4 inches in size. Transfer to ungreased cookie sheets and bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes. Spread newspaper on a large surface and let cookies cool completely before storing. Can be frozen for months and get better with age!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Funeral at Arlington

I’ve been anticipating this blog post for awhile, knowing this event was something I would want to write about, yet very aware that I wanted and needed to protect the privacy of those involved. I gradually came to the realization that all my blog posts are about me, and this time is no exception.  So no names will be used in this post, while at the same time assuring anyone that is concerned that I’m writing about my experience only.

I haven’t been to a lot of funerals. It sounds weird and kind of creepy, but I just haven’t known that many dead people. Of course this is a function of age and as I’ve gotten older more people have died, including my grandmothers and my father. But (looking around anxiously for a bit of wood to knock on) most of my close friends and relatives are still living.

I know this situation won’t last forever. Aging involves loss, and if I’m fortunate enough to live a long life one of the misfortunes of that will be losing people I’m close to. In this past year a member of the group of ladies I’m friends with from Texas died, and a friend’s husband died. This friend’s husband had a military funeral at Arlington National Cemetery today, and I was honored to be able to attend.

I landed at Dulles for the first time in many years. The last time I had flown into this airport it was new and out in the middle of nowhere. Now it’s a convenient airport for accessing the Washington suburbs. It still seems like a modern and well-run airport. It was no problem to follow the signs, pick up my luggage and head for my rental car.

I brought my GPS with me; the thought of driving in Washington traffic had given me something to fret about for a couple of weeks. But it turned out that driving in Boston traffic for the past year, with their extremely aggressive and absent-minded drivers and tangled web of roads, made Washington’s roads and drivers seem the epitome of politeness and organization. I had no trouble getting from Dulles to my friend’s house in Fairfax, Virginia.

One of her sisters answered the door and I immediately mistook her for another sister. I figured out my mistake soon enough. Although there is a strong family resemblance and they are all relatively close in age, they are actually very distinctive individuals. It was only time and age that caused me to make that mistake.

I received the grand tour…it is a beautiful house, perfect for bird-watching (her passion) and filled with hand-made Williamsburg-style furniture, made by her husband with a lot of help and participation on her part. It was fun to see how his talents and expertise had improved as he progressed from one beautiful piece to another.

It was a strange day. I was tired from my early flight. It was wonderful to see her sisters again after so many years and meet their husbands for the first time. Her parents have aged greatly since the last time we met, and her mother is ill, but her father seemed the same, quiet, observant, friendly. I’ve always liked him somehow. Back in junior high there was something cool about the odd hours he kept. We would be having one of our interminable slumber parties at her house. Her father would come home at three in the morning from some project he was busy with at work and sit down and work a jigsaw puzzle with a bunch of 14 year old girls. In retrospect he must have been a chronic insomniac back then, but to my teenage mind there was something exotic about a father that thought teenagers were worth spending time with.

One of the other sisters also had a childhood friend that came for the funeral. I remember her as a very little girl (my friend is the eldest of 4 girls), always over at their house, but I had probably never exchanged a word with her before. We had a great time comparing notes on their family throughout the next day and a half.

I was to be one of the designated drivers to Arlington the next day, since I would need to leave for the airport without returning to Fairfax. We had wonderfully explicit directions on how to get there but driving in a strange city can be so unsettling. I had visions of managing to get lost and having one of my friend’s sisters miss the funeral.

But it all worked out. We met early on Tuesday in the lobby of one of the hotels. One of the sister’s husbands sat in the front seat of my rental car and gave me moral support and calm guidance through the rush hour traffic. We arrived at the Fort Myers Chapel with plenty of time to spare.

When we arrived the honor guard and the horse and caisson were already there and waiting. There was a band too. We entered the chapel and visited quietly until it was time for the service to begin. My friend was doing well on the outside but I could only imagine how difficult this must have been for her. Because it takes so long to schedule a funeral at Arlington, she had had over 3 months to anticipate and dread this.

My emotions were so confused. I have unpredictable reactions to funerals. I’ve been known to sob at the funerals of people I barely know, and remain dry-eyed at times when tears would be appropriate. One of the sisters laughingly said that she cried the first time she saw The Sound of Music and I rejoined that I cried the first time I saw The Music Man…we planned our Kleenex vs. handkerchief strategies (my friend claimed that a handkerchief would be less likely to leave bits of white fuzz all over a black outfit, a good point I thought). It’s funny how tears and laughter are such close emotions.

The service was brief. My friend’s husband was so accomplished, but very modest. A private person, my friend though he would have disapproved of hearing his achievements announced from the pulpit, but for those of us there, it was good to hear about what a fine person he had been. The hymns chosen by my friend were simple; God of Our Fathers, America the Beautiful. I watched her singing bravely in the front of the chapel. I sang too and remembered our years together in choir in high school. I thought to myself, “This is the first time we’ve sung together in over 40 years”.

After the service the mourners filed out of the chapel. A few people chose to walk behind the coffin to the burial spot, but most of us needed to move our cars, so we headed in a long slow line through the cemetery.

The cars were moving so slowly, following the horse-drawn hearse and the honor guard, that I was able to roll down my window and take dozens of pictures of the rolling hills of graves and a few of the city of Washington beyond. It’s such a majestic place, but the thought of all those deaths due to war is disturbing. Why oh why must mankind continually fight and destroy? What is wrong with us?

Finally a quiet hill and a waiting grave. A flag-draped coffin. A three gun volley and then Taps. A folded flag presented to my friend. No one should have to bear this, yet eventually we must. All we can do is try to share the burden, because without the love and care of others it will break us all.

There was a reception at the Women’s Memorial afterwards, hosted by his WestPoint class, charming in their navy sport-jackets and straw hats. Someone had made amazing posters with pictures of a little boy, a suave teenager in a red convertible, a soldier, a fisherman, an older man happy with his children and his wife, pictures from a good life richly lived.

A few of us decided to go see John F Kennedy’s grave, not realizing that it was the anniversary of his death. From there we walked to the graves of Bobby and Ted (a simple cross). From there we walked to see the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We arrived when it was only a few minutes until the changing of the guard so we stayed for that as well.

My friend’s husband’s family has a tradition of luncheons after a funeral, so from Arlington we drove to a Korean Barbeque place. I loved how everyone was game whether they had ever tried this sort of food or not. Although I avoided the kim chi, the barbeque itself was very good. Soon enough it was time to say my goodbyes and head back to Dulles and from there to Missouri and Thanksgiving.

I’m grateful, so grateful today for my family, my children and especially my dear husband. Inevitably death comes, and comes whether we are unready or having been waiting for it to arrive. But on this cold and cloudy Thanksgiving morning, life is all around me, from the birds at the feeders to the cats sleeping in their baskets on the chairs. Soon I will get dressed and go get my mom and go to my sister-in-laws. I will hug my children and my brother-in-law will fix me a bloody mary. I’ll smile at my nieces and nephews and talk to my husband’s cousins and sisters. I’ll play with their dogs and eat too much food. And inside my heart I will raise a toast: to life, to life, to life.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I’m trying to remember the first time I attempted to read Ulysses. I’m a fan of James Joyce, at least as far as Portrait of an Artist and Dubliners goes. Portrait of an Artist can be read purely for the story and so can the short stories in Dubliners, for the most part. Sure, some of the stories confused me a bit, since I wasn’t sure who Parnell was, and was pretty ignorant of the details of Irish history, but I’ve always been pretty good at ignoring the parts of a book that I didn’t understand and still enjoying the parts that I could comprehend.

But Ulysses confounded me, over and over again. I would make it through the first three chapters fairly regularly, but with a sinking sensation that most of what I was reading was going right over my head. I even got as far as the beginning of the Bloom story, but somewhere among the trips to the outhouse and the journey to the butcher’s I would give up.

Eventually I decided that the only way I was ever going to be able to read this book would be to take a class. I thought I would probably have to take a college English class, maybe as part of my “masters in English Lit” retirement fantasy. But here in New England I’ve discovered the Cambridge Center for Adult Education (see this entry about the class I took on Nabokov last year). When I found out a class on Ulysses was being offered this fall I knew I had to take it. No more excuses! I was finally going to read this book.

Because of my high school reunion and the Twin Cities Marathon I missed the first class, but by the second class I knew this was going to be a good experience. The teacher has taught this class since 1997 and seems to know just about everything there is to know about James Joyce and Ulysses. I soon enough felt better about never having been able to read this book on my own. Ulysses is complicated!

As we make our way through this strange book, chapter by chapter, week by week, I’m increasingly impressed by Joyce’s vast knowledge. References to Shakespeare, Dante, Greek mythology, Irish history, JEWISH history, Catholic references, music, science, etc. etc. etc. abound. How one man ever managed to keep track of these references that twine their way through the book, repeating, turning in on themselves, while the characters wander around Dublin for twenty four hours is nothing short of awe-inspirng. And I can’t help but be a bit suspicious of my friends that claimed to have read this book while we were in college (and Finnegan’s Wake too by golly). Yes, maybe you read all the words, but did you understand what you were reading? Did you get it? I’m reading it with a class, and a teacher, and a separate annotated book to explain some of the references, and I STILL realize that I’m missing some of what Joyce is trying to do. My little ADD brain just can’t stay focused long enough to really, really get what’s going on.

For those of you that have never read this book, one of the more perplexing things about it is how the point of view keeps changing as the book goes on. First you’re following Bloom’s stream of consciousness, then you’re listening as Stephen Dedalus expounds on his theory of Shakespeare’s motivation for writing his plays, then you’re watching and listening as various other characters tell THEIR stories. And THEN the book gets even weirder. A chapter is written in a style that has been called musical, with words and phrases repeating themselves in patterns like a piece of music would. Several chapters are written as parodies of various writing styles, seemingly just because Joyce could. A very long chapter is written as a play (that’s the chapter I’m reading now), but not a play that you’ll ever see on a stage, as the characters change shape, costume, species and even gender from one line to the other. And of course there’s the famous last chapter, one endless sentence, with the one line that most people have heard if they know anything at all about Joyce “…yes, I said yes I will yes.”

At this point my internal jury is still out on whether I actually “like” this book. Like seems like a rather feeble word to describe what it’s been like to read Ulysses. Admiring, annoyed, bored, fascinated, irritated, curious, touched…I’ve felt all of those things this fall. I feel a little proud of myself for getting through this mountain of a book, finally! When we get to the last chapter I really feel like the class needs to go find a pub and have a drink, in honor of Joyce and in honor of ourselves for finally reading this book.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Harper and I have our routines. We go for walks. We throw toys and retrieve them up and down the hall in the house. We practice our training and enjoy our hot dog and freeze-dried liver treat rewards. We watch the squirrels outside from our bed on the cedar chest and routinely have a heart attack when one strays into the yard. In general we have a good time together.

One of our routines is going outside one more time to go potty before bed. Since it has gotten dark I take a flashlight with me. I always go outside with her after dark. There are too many scary animals in our neighborhood. I figure a talkative human and a light are enough to keep them at bay, and so far that has been the case. Harper has learned quickly that after she does her business, if she runs right back inside its time for a treat before bed.

Two nights ago we got ready to go outside one last time. I put on her electronic collar, grabbed the flashlight, and out we went. But instead of running over to our usual potty place, she headed behind the gazebo and started barking frantically. Uh-oh! Before I could say “Harper! No!” she was over the wall and chasing SOMETHING into the woods!

Harper has run through the electronic fence once before, but the previous time was during the day and I could see what it was (a cat). This time it was dark and I had no idea what she was chasing. I clambered over the rock wall, since you can’t call a dog and ask them to come and get shocked in the process. I started screaming for Lee, but he was inside watching TV and couldn’t hear me.

I started chasing Harper and yelling for her to come, but I didn’t have to go far. Suddenly she was practically leaping into my arms and with her came an unbelievable stench. Intellectually I knew it had to have been a skunk, but in reality it smelled like nothing I had ever experienced before. It smelled more like garlic to me than skunk. Actually it smelled like what I might imagine very old and rotten garlic might smell like, if I was the size of an ant, and embedded inside a garlic clove.  I’d NEVER been this close to active skunk spray before. This wasn’t like the unpleasant smell you notice from a car window or out in the woods. This was really intense. My olfactory senses basically shut down and in short order I couldn’t smell a thing.

Harper was drooling and foaming at the mouth, all over my coat. If I thought things smelled bad, God knows what she thought, with her superior sense of smell. Poor thing! I removed her collar and ran back to the house, still yelling for Lee.

I burst into the house screaming. “Harper got sprayed by a skunk!” Quick-thinking Lee grabbed her and threw her in the guest shower and closed the glass shower door. He started stripping off his clothes so that he could get in the shower with her and start cleaning her off.

We knew doggie shampoo wasn’t going to be enough to get rid of the smell. Should we try tomato juice? All we had was V8; would that work? Lee said “Google de-skunking your dog!” and so I did.

I quickly found out the tomato juice is an old wives tale that only covers up the smell, and besides, makes a white dog turn pink. The remedy I found was 1 quart hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup baking soda, and a couple of teaspoons dish detergent. I quickly mixed up this concoction and handed it to Lee, who proceeded to rub it into Harper’s fur. It worked! With some diligent scrubbing the skunk smell was quickly removed from our dog.

I then removed most of My clothes (fortunately my coat was washable) and threw it in the washing machine with the remainder of the solution. That removed the smell from my coat and pants as well.

I know I should think this is funny, and perhaps eventually I will. Picture two semi naked people and a sodden miserable dog, frantically trying to wash out skunk smell…

The only thing that we couldn’t get the smell out of was the electronic receiver collar. It must have received a direct hit. We tried the hydrogen peroxide solution, poison ivy soap (Tecnu, always important to have on hand) and a cleaner called Nature’s Remedy that we use to get dog accidents out of the rug. Nothing doing. Every time I “tested” the receiver by bringing it up to my nose, the whole experience came back, vividly. Unfortunately we had to buy a new receiver.

Today there is still a rather strong skunk smell in the garage and basement. We think the skunk must have been wandering around near the garage before Harper found it and the smell got drawn into the basement somehow.  At least until there is snow on the ground in the evening Harper is going out on a leash. I don’t want to chance an experience like that again. My nose is still recovering!

Friday, October 29, 2010

I'm So Glad I Went!

Well this entry may end up as total gibberish. I’m back in the US, but stuck at JFK in New York. My flight to Boston has been delayed several times due to bad weather in the Midwest. But they’re assuring me that the flight is now on its way and should arrive here by 6:15pm. But yes, after a 16 hour flight from Hong Kong it’s a little difficult to sit here patiently. But what can you do? I guess part of my equanimity is knowing that if I hadn’t gone to Hong Kong I wouldn’t be sitting here, and I’m SO glad I went!

On Sunday I hugged Jane goodbye and moved into our hotel on Robinson Road in Mid-levels on Hong Kong Island. The Bishop Lei International Hotel turned out to be a great choice for us. The rooms are small but clean and well-outfitted with plenty of closet space. We had a suite and a corner room with great views of the harbor. And the price was very reasonable, especially considering the location.

Lee arrived from the US Sunday evening. After giving him a chance to clean up we headed to India Restaurant in TST. I was curious to see if it really was as good as we remembered it to be. Well no question, it definitely was. We haven’t found Indian food anywhere in Boston that can even remotely compare.

We ordered all our old favorites – chicken tikka, black dahl, barbequed potatoes (potatoes with cashews and raisins in a barbeque tomato sauce), shrimp curry and of course naan and roti. I ate way too much but oh it was good.

Monday morning it was time to go running on Bowen Road. I wasn’t used to trying to get there from Robinson Road and ended up going part of the way up the mountain before I finally ended up in the right place. There is just this piece of road where about 10 different roads meet and some of them start heading up the Peak and the rest meander around either to the east or west of the mountain. When we first moved here I called it the spaghetti roads and it still looks like a bunch of noodles. If you are on foot it’s even more confusing because the sidewalks go their own directions which don’t necessarily relate to what the roads are doing.

Once I finally got on Bowen though, it was great. It was like nothing had changed, even the weather. It wasn’t that hot, but it was hotter than what I had been running in in New England so it felt pretty sticky to me. Even on a Monday morning it was crowded with people, dogs and the occasional car too. It’s unlike any other place in the world I have ever run. Beneath my feet the buildings of Hong Kong rise to the sky and beyond them the harbor glistens in the morning sun. Above me the mountain, otherwise known as The Peak, towers covered in jungle plants and concrete. The concrete is there to keep the mountain from sliding down into the harbor which it has a tendency to do every once in a while.

Back at the hotel I got ready to meet Jane, Chris and Susan at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. Thanks Susan! This was a favorite AWA local tours destination so it was fun to return there for lunch with old friends. After lunch we checked out the Yacht Club’s shop where I bought Lee a polo shirt and myself some gloves for pulling up sheets when sailing.

Then it was time for a foot massage. O how I’ve missed having my feet pummeled expertly in this city! I don’t know why this activity hasn’t taken off in the US, but it probably has something to do with the salary disparities.

Once my feet were properly attended to I bid goodbye to the ladies and decided to do a little shopping in Causeway Bay. The little boutiques along Fashion Walk have almost all changed hands in the year and a half since I’ve been gone, including many of my favorite stores. I still wandered in and out, more to see what sorts of things were selling in Asia this fall. I can tell I’ve been gone awhile because many of the clothes look frilly and silly to me. It’s funny how my tastes change depending on where in the world I live!

Our dinner choice tonight was Chinese. We went to Hunan Garden in Exchange Square and invited the group of 3M people that were traveling with Lee to join us. It’s more fun to go to a Chinese restaurant with lots of people so you can try different things. Our dinner was great, except for one small exception. We ordered an eggplant with chili peppers, only when the dish came I thought the peppers were green beans! The first one I ate wasn’t spicy at all, but the second one just about took my head off. I was fairly incapacitated for several minutes. I like spicy food but that was ridiculous. I have to pay more attention to what I’m eating!

I chose Tuesday, my last day in Hong Kong, to climb The Peak. We used to do this all the time when we lived here. It was always strange to me that my fitness for running didn’t seem to convert very well to fitness for hiking up mountains. I wondered just how difficult this hike would be. Well, I guess marathon training DOES convert to hiking mountains. I didn’t have much trouble with the Peak at all, and although I wasn’t going very fast I could keep up a steady pace, only pausing occasionally to take a picture or two.

Our last meal in Hong Kong was at Nga Trang, our favorite Vietnamese restaurant. I concluded that the Vietnamese restaurant that we found in Lowell was indeed good, but Nga Trang was better. Their pomelo salad and their pho are just amazing.

Well I’m tired and my flight has still not arrived. And once it gets here I think there’s probably some question about whether it will be able to take off again. If I can get home tonight I will do it, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I had to get a hotel.

Right then there was an announcement that my flight had been cancelled. I went up to the desk to see what my options were. It turned out that I could wait for another American flight, but the first one was the next day at 11:30am. My other option was to take a taxi to LaGuardia and get on a Delta flight. I decided to try to get home that night if at all possible. I didn’t have any clean clothes left anyway!

The taxi drive from JFK to LaGuardia was a hoot. The driver was from Haiti, and talkative. He told me that he had bought a house in Harlem and that the neighborhood was integrated (“there be white people on my street now and they just regular, we talk and say hi and all”) and very nice. He made me want to visit Harlem the next time I’m in New York.

He dropped me off at the Delta terminal, but it turned out that the flight I wanted was at ANOTHER terminal called the Marine Air Terminal. Fortunately a shuttle was just leaving for this terminal and I squeezed into the last available space. The shuttle dropped us off at a little old-fashioned-looking airport building. I joked as we walked through this terminal that I felt like I had just gone back in time around 30 years. As it turned out there was ANOTHER flight that was leaving in around 20 minutes and there was room for me on this flight! Yay! This was the first good news I’d had since arriving in the US.

This flight turned out to be a large commuter airplane with lots of empty seats. I had a whole row to myself. What joy to be able to put up my aching swollen feet! It was fast too, once we finished taxiing around the entire airport. I was finally back in Boston by around 9pm.

It’s nice to be back, in my own house with my sweet little dog. The leaves have indeed mostly fallen off the trees so I’m glad I took all those pictures before I left. I don’t think it’s going to be too long before winter is here. 

It’s hard to explain how happy this trip made me. I love where we live now and I’m very content with my life, but I no longer feel like I had to put Hong Kong away somewhere, far inside my heart. Now I feel like I’ll go back there, again and again, and each time there it will be, the same beautiful, crazy, amazing city. It’s waiting there for me whenever I’m ready to return.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dim Sum and Mizzou

Photo by Bill Carter, from

Today I woke up in a nervous tizzy. Mizzou vs. Oklahoma, the number one team in the nation vs. number 11, at Columbia, homecoming, ESPN College Game day. So much hype. This is a little hard to explain if you aren’t a Missouri sports fan, but there are some serious psychological issues involved….for too, many years Missouri had a very, very bad football team. I’m talking something like 30 years. We would have occasional flashes of hope and progress, and then a kicked touchdown, a 5th down, a blown play, a drunken coach, well, you get the picture. Mizzou fans are loyal but pessimistic. We are always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

But for the past 7 years we’ve had a good coach, and increasingly good teams. We’ve improved, but not quite enough “to get to the next level” as the saying goes. But maybe, just maybe, this year is different.

It seems almost perfect that I would be back in Hong Kong for the “big game”. Watching US sports in Asia involves searching the internet for the appropriate video feed and watching and listening at odd hours of the day or night. Watching college football on a Sunday morning in Hong Kong is part of the Asian experience for many American expats.

I found the requisite video feed and started watching the game on my PC. It didn’t take too long for me to think; hmm this team seems different from other Missouri teams. I don’t know if they’ll win this game, but this is a good team. It made me happy.

I watched them play online until the middle of the third quarter, and then had to leave to go eat dim sum. It was just as well. I could feel the old pessimistic worried feeling setting in, and this team really didn’t deserve that. When I left the score was Mizzou 20, Oklahoma 14, so we were ahead, but a long-time Missouri fan knows better than to get excited until the clock runs out.

We walked to the MTR from Jane’s apartment. The weather was simply stunning. The skies were blue and the distant mountains were absolutely beautiful. It’s the Hong Kong of picture postcards and calendar art, so gorgeous that it doesn’t seem real. On top of that it’s Sunday and the helper’s day off, so the streets were packed with Filipino and Indonesian girls having fun visiting, shopping and having a good time. It was Hong Kong at its charming best, even though this also meant that the MTR was absolutely packed.

Dim sum was a hoot. For one thing, I was hungry and I knew that meant that EVERYTHING on the carts would look good to me. And Lee wasn’t there to say “Lynn! No!!” Jane, Chris and Adrian were far too nice to me. I told them to watch me but they thought it was funny and let me have my way. So we ended up with some strange things, but that’s okay. Some were wonderful as always, some were, well, interesting…no egg tarts either, so I have to remedy that before my visit is over.

After dim sum I went back to Jane’s to check the score and grab a taxi as I prepared to move into our hotel for the rest of our visit. I couldn’t believe it. 36-27, we won. WE WON! We beat the number one team in the nation, at home, on national TV, during homecoming. We are 7-0 for the first time since 1960.

It’s a great feeling and I have just been happy as can be all afternoon. It was fun taking a taxi to Mid-levels. Our hotel is on Robinson Road in the heart of my old stomping grounds. It’s nice, a suite with a beautiful view, close to the escalator, Bowen Road, the trail to the Peak. Lee has landed in Hong Kong, so all I have to do is wait for him to arrive at the hotel and then go eat Indian food at one of our favorite restaurants in the world. Not a bad life! I know he’ll be tired, but it will be okay.

I’m just very happy right now. I know it’s kind of silly, but I am. 

Return to Hong Kong

I thought returning to Hong Kong would be more emotional for me than it is. It’s a funny feeling being back. I keep saying it’s almost like I never left, but that’s not exactly right. It feels very comfortable, though.

I was a little worried – would I remember how to ride the MTR? Would the crowded streets scare me like they did when we first moved here? Would I be able to find my way around? The answers are yes, no and emphatically yes!

I’m staying in Jane’s lovely apartment in Kowloon until tomorrow and then I’ll move over to a hotel in Mid-Levels, close to where we used to live. Its fun staying over here. Kowloon is more intensely Chinese and I’m not nearly as familiar with it as I am with Central, but I’ve been over here plenty of times. Just another new area of Hong Kong to figure out! I found a place to jog; I found the Starbucks…

Hong Kong hasn’t changed much. The streets are still filled with young girls wearing Asian fashions, old men and women wearing Chinese pants and jackets. Strange smells emerge as we pass noodle shops. We pass a pig’s head in the wet market, wriggling fish, vegetables whose names I forget. The sky is blue, but the distant hills are lost in a smoky haze. The air is soft and humid, cool until you walk around for awhile and then it starts to feel warm and sticky. Traffic zips by; horns blare for no reason; buses careen around corners, barely missing the pedestrians waiting on the sidewalk.

I’m almost over my jet lag already, which is good, since I only have 5 days here before I go home. Yesterday we walked around Central. We took the escalator up to SoHo and had a late breakfast, before popping into some of my favorite stores. I didn’t buy much, although it was fun to look; just a purse, which makes me laugh. How fitting to return to Hong Kong and buy a purse!

In the evening we braved the Friday night crowds on the MTR to go over to Pacific Place and eat at Grappa’s. The food was yummy and it was so nice to relax and drink some wine without worrying about who needed to be able to drive home safely!

This morning I went on a short jog around Jane’s neighborhood. I’m still slowly recovering from the marathon. Jogging in Hong Kong, even in an unfamiliar area, brought back such memories! Old ladies did Tai Chi in the public parks; other ladies did their strange arm-swinging exercises. Helpers walked dogs and here and there fellow runners jogged by in various states of fitness. I can’t wait to run on Bowen Road on Monday!

Later in the morning Jane and I walked over to the Jade market. My last jade bracelet had broken quite some time ago and I wanted to replace it. I had to ask Jane what the current prices were like so that I knew how much I should haggle. She said they had gone up some, and they certainly had! Venders were starting at $500 Hong Kong and more for a single bracelet, when they used to start at $120 and you could usually get them for $80 or less! At first I was really dismayed, but I kept walking around, looking for some bangles that I really liked, and a vender than wasn’t pricing then at a ridiculous amount.

Finally one lady had several bangles I liked, and she knew how to make a westerner feel like they weren’t being cheated too much. She started at $500 for one bracelet, and I rolled my eyes, but then she pulled me aside. “Don’t tell anyone. For you, special price - $250”. I told her that was still too much, but what if I bought two? Would she give me a better price? I picked out two bangles that I liked and told her I would take them both for $200. “Ah, how can I do that?” she said. “Real Jade!” Oh come on, I said smiling. This is the Jade market! “Okay, okay she said, $380 for two, okay?” I countered at $300 and she said yes. I knew it was still more than I should pay, but I didn’t care that much. It was still a bargain by US prices. Two nice “jade” bracelets (who knows if they are really jade or not, but they are the solid ones that the light shines through, so they’re good quality, whatever they are) for around $45 US. That was good enough for me.

Then Jane got a phone call. Susan, an old friend of ours whose husband manages the Hong Kong Convention Center, wanted to know if we would like to come over to Wan Chai where the convention center is located and go to the Mega Showr. We said sure! So we hopped on the MTR, grabbed a bite to eat and walked through the show. All kinds of venders were displaying crazy products for the home. Kitchenware, decorator items, artificial flowers, you name it! There was a lot of junk and I didn’t end up getting anything but Jane bought some knives. Just another one of those crazy things you end up doing in Hong Kong!

We took the Star Ferry back to TST from Wan Chai. The harbor was beautiful, but it’s very hazy today. Typhoon Megi bypassed the island yesterday and seems to have pushed the pollution down from China. Ah well, that’s part of Hong Kong too, although this particular part is something I don’t miss at all.

Tomorrow I’m having dim sum with friends before moving into the hotel. Lee arrives tomorrow evening. Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Blaze of Color

By the time we moved to New Hampshire last year the leaves were almost all finished with falling off the trees and were lieing in great brown drifts all over the streets and our yard. This year we've been able to watch them change from green to tinges of color, to a blaze of yellow, red and orange.

Two weeks ago was Columbus Day, so most people had a 3 day weekend and it appeared that half of Boston decided to drive to New Hampshire to see the leaves (the other half went to Vermont). But the leaves have only continued to get more and more spectacular in the last 10 days.

On Thursday a nor'easter was predicted for the following day. I knew this meant rain and wind, and lots of it. I figured I'd better go take some pictures before the wind blew all the leaves into Canada.

So first Harper and I surveyed the yard. Harper chased chipmunks; I took pictures of the yellow leaves in the wetlands in front of the house.

Then we hopped in the car. First we drove down to the bridge where we usually go on our doggie walks. I love the view from this bridge.

Then we drove to the nearby subdivision...and from there continued around the lake. I took pictures of an restored barn, a little red school house, and of course the amazing leaves.

I know Harper didn't have any idea what we were doing. Everytime I stopped the car she figured that HERE we were going to get out and have some fun. Instead, she had to stay in the car while I ran out and snapped away. Poor Harper!

Just in time, too. Yesterday it poured, and last night and today a cold wind blew leaves and branches everywhere. The sun is back out, and a chilly breeze is whipping the trees around. Its still beautiful here but I have a feeling that by the time I get back from Hong Kong winter will be on its way.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Twin Cities Marathon

Sherry Ott, photographer extrodinare, took pictures of me at the finish, which I have used in this blog post, with her permission. For more about Sherry's adventures as a world traveler, and to see more of her beautiful photography, visit Thanks Sherry!

Sunday October 3rd. My alarm was set for 5:30 but here I was, wide awake an hour before that. How cold was it outside? I’d gone from worrying about it being too warm to worrying about just how cold it was going to feel at the start of this race.
As those of you that have been reading my blog for awhile know, I’ve been running Half Marathons for almost 3 years now. When I first started training for a half marathon, while we were still living in Hong Kong, 13.1 miles seemed an incredibly long distance to run. But now here I was, getting ready to run twice that long. Was I crazy?
I had done all my training, tried to monitor my health and my nutrition. I had done everything that I could, and my coach assured me that I was ready. But a marathon is a different animal from any other long distance race. It’s at the limit of endurance for most athletes. So, I knew I was as ready as I could be, but I also knew that I was entering the unknown. I had read enough to know that strange things happen to people during a marathon. What would happen to me?
I took the Light Rail to the Metrodome, even though it was only one stop away. I wasn’t going to expend any more energy than was absolutely necessary! Before any other race I would do an elaborate warm-up routine, but before running 26.2 miles? Nothing doing; the first couple of miles of the race would be plenty of warm-up for me!
It WAS cold; probably 38 degrees. Thank goodness we could stay inside the Metrodome until the start of the race. I had an extra shirt to wear at the beginning; I also had a garbage bag. The garbage bag made a great warm-up suit; I was glad my coach suggested it. The garbage bag came off at the beginning of the race.
I started way, way back at the end of the pack of runners. I was hoping to run the marathon in around 5.5  hours. I was also hoping to finish and not be pulled off the course because my time was over 6 hours, which was the limit for this marathon.
This is a beautiful race. It winds its way through a series of lakes and along the Mississippi River, between Minneapolis and St. Paul. At mile 19 it crosses a bridge over the river and enters St. Paul. The last six miles of the race go along Summit Avenue, passing stately historic homes, grand churches and the St. Paul Cathedral, ending at the Minnesota State Capital. Most of the race is flat or even downhill, but the last few miles are on a steady incline. It’s not steep but it just goes on and on and on. Sarah and I drove this part of the race on Saturday. From a car it didn’t look too bad, but I’d heard other runners talk about it. It wasn’t going to be easy; I was sure about that.

For the first 20 miles of the race I felt great. I was able to do my run/walk method and keep on the pace I was supposed to use. I felt confident and happy. My training had worked! Unfortunately I did have to stop and pee; twice. There just doesn’t seem to be any way to avoid it; my body can’t go more than 2 or 3 hours without needing to find a bathroom! I wasn’t about to wait in line though, so I waited until the coast was clear. Both times I don’t think I lost more than 30 seconds. I think I have peeing down to a science!
Right at the beginning of the race a man asked me what I was doing. I explained about Jeff Galloway’s run/walk method and told him I planned to run 35 seconds and walk 25 seconds for most of the race. He told me that this was his 23rd Twin Cities Marathon, but his training hadn’t gone very well and he was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to finish. He asked me if he could follow me and I said sure. I did warn him that I didn’t like to do a lot of talking while I ran and not to take it personally. Most of the time he stayed a little bit behind me, coming up occasionally to chat. He even seemed to take potty breaks when I did! The sad part was at the very end he passed me, saying “this is the fun part!” I think that was a little cruel.
A little before mile 23 I saw Sarah and Erik, and Erik’s mom, Suzanne! I was so happy to see them! Sarah told me later that at that point I looked good. I felt tired but still felt confident. Something happened a little after mile 23, however. My legs just didn’t want to go anymore. I was supposed to be able to speed up a little, but it just wasn’t happening. Instead I found myself barely able to move, or at least that’s how it seemed. I guess that was the infamous wall that marathon runners talk about. Jeff Galloway’s theory for avoiding the wall is to push the long run out to a full 26 miles, run very slowly. If a runner is going to hit the wall, it usually happens around mile 20, so I think his method helped me avoid it until later in the race.
It was a strange feeling. I didn’t really feel that tired, I just couldn’t make my legs move. There was pain, sure, but mostly they felt like they weighed about 400 pounds each. Part of me wanted to just give up and go really slowly, but fortunately I guess walking hurt more than running, so I continued to shuffle along and actually reduced the length of my walking segments. I also talked to myself sternly: “don’t you DARE give up. Be a grownup! You don’t have much farther to go! Lift those legs! Keep going! A little faster! Come on!” I was pretty mean to my inner whiney child!
At around mile 25 I started getting cramps in my feet. I did my toe squinching exercises and slowly they went away, but not without some vivid cussing on my part. As I was muttering and complaining to myself a young man next to me said “yeah, they’ll have to carry me off the course dead at this point before I’d quit”. I agreed and kept trudging on.
Finally, finally FINALLY I could see the capital and the last half mile, all downhill. The crowds along the finish chute screamed enthusiastically, but all I could see was FINISH in bright blue letters on a yellow field. I found out later that Sherry and Cyndi were both there screaming for me, but I didn’t hear them at all. Sherry took some great pictures of me though, so I know I was there!

Here I come, with the St. Paul Cathedral Behind Me!

At This Point All I Can See Is the Finish Line

Sherry and Cyndi are Screaming But I Never Heard Them!

The Gates of The Capital Approach and I Just Keep on Trucking!

Ow, ow, ow, ow….really, when I stopped I could hardly walk. My mind was in good shape though; was didn’t feel at all disoriented. I gobbled down a little bowl of fruit and grabbed a water. I got my medal and felt extremely happy and proud. I wrapped my heat blanket around me; at first it was too hot, but later on it felt really good; I started to get cold again.
I got my sweat bag and lay down on the grass, not worrying too much about how I was going to manage to get up again. I was able to rip off my sneakers and put on my warm-up sweats and my flip flops. I poured the water into my bottle of Endurox, which is supposed to help your muscles recover. I started to think I was going to live.
I had lots of messages on my phone. I had to call Lee and make sure he knew I was okay. He was worried about me…aw! I talked to Sarah and we made plans to meet in the family meeting area under the “N”. This was a really well organized race. I liked that they had an organized place to meet; that’s a lot better than wandering around the harbor area in Boston trying to find Lee!
I acrossed the finish line in 5:39:44, about 9 minutes off my projected time. I know I lost those 9 minutes at the very end. I’m already trying to figure out a strategy that would allow me to maintain my pace better those last few miles. It might be that I need to go a bit slower during most of the race, or maybe slightly faster, so that I have less time to make up there at the end. It will be something to contemplate over the coming year. I think I’m going to start trying to get into the New York City Marathon. It’s a lottery, and it’s huge, around 100,000 runners and over 2 million spectators. I’ll have to get a timer that vibrates, because I’ll never be able to hear my watch beep in that kind of crowd!

Sarah and I Celebrate a Successful Finish !

Friday, September 24, 2010

Writer's Block

The title of this blog post seems to sum up how blogging has gone for me this past month. As soon as I decided on a title for this post, I found myself thinking “now, how can you have writer’s block if you’re not really a writer? And if you’re not writing, you’re CERTAINLY not a writer!” Long ago in my college and post-college days, when I kept a journal religiously, I knew the maxim, to be a writer and to improve one’s writing, you must write!

And so I did: anxious ruminating on the status of my various relationships; painstaking poetry; impassioned prose. None of it was very good, but it wasn’t all terrible either. Some of it pleased me, and all of it served a necessary purpose in speeding process of growing up.

I have no dearth of topics to write about now, but I manage to talk myself out of almost all of them. They occur to me, and I even make lists of them, but there the lists sit, with no accompanying piece of writing as their result.

Here are some of the topics that have occurred to me recently, yet are left unwritten:

1.     1.   Lee’s grandmother, Nellie Schnell, left a wonderful oral history on a tape recorder before she passed away, and recently my mother-in-law had it transcribed to DVD. I’ve thought about writing about Granny, as she was known, and maybe sometime I will.

2.      2.  My garden:  the flowers, tomatoes, eggplants and single pumpkin, have given me no end of pleasure this summer. Summer in New England is unbelievably beautiful; verdant and green, everything is in a hurry to grow and produce. Now summer is turning into fall and the leaves are beginning to turn. The hummingbirds have left and the bees are slow and cranky. We’ve even had a fire in the fireplace a few chilly mornings. I should be taking pictures in the gorgeous light and recording all these climatic changes. And Maybe I Will Sometime.

3.      3.  Then there’s my running. Oh I could certainly write about running (and I Probably Will, Very Soon!)! The marathon I’ve been training for all spring and summer is a week from Sunday. The knowledge of what a challenge this will be for me has me humbled and sincerely wondering if I have bitten off more than I can chew. Although I would dearly love to make my estimated time of 5.5 hours, I will be pleased and relieved to run it in less than 6 so that I am allowed to finish and not pulled off the course. From my training I KNOW I can run it (by walking 2/3rds of it) in 6.5 hours. But, can I maintain an average pace of 12:36 minutes per mile? The training says I should be able to, and maybe even better, but until I’m getting close to the end I don’t think I will really know. It’s hard to explain the angst I feel about this run, and it’s probably impossible to convey to anyone who hasn’t trained for a marathon. I know that until I began this process I certainly thought that 26 miles seemed like a ridiculous distance to run, let along walk. Now that the distance has become something concrete and real, it still seems ridiculous, but nevertheless I’m going to attempt it.

4.       4. And then of course, there’s the reason I’m sitting here at my computer in St. Louis. My 40th High School Reunion is tomorrow night. I’m alternately looking forward to it and having little moments of panic. Of course I’ll write about it too, but I can’t until after it occurs! Can I? Maybe I’ll just write about it now, and skip the whole thing. Oh I guess not.
5.     5.  Then there the books I’ve recently read, the latest class I’m taking on Ulysses, the movies I’ve watched, the latest episode of Madmen where Peggy tells off a nascent boyfriend and takes a circa 1964 stand for feminism…I COULD write about all these things…I could!

So what’s the deal with writer’s block anyway? Do I really have it, if I can sit here and create a blog post ABOUT it? Beats me! I think for me it’s more like what happens when I get sick of a needlework project. There it sits, reproaching me with its almost finished state, reminding me of my lack of discipline and organization. So it is with this blog. I feel like I’ve abandoned it and my readership (if such a thing even exists).

So, I guess this post is a bit like forcing me to pick up that piece of needlework and complete a few more rows, before putting it down again, admonishing myself to do a little bit more each day. The only thing is a blog is never finished, is it?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Annisquam Afternoon

Downtown Annisquam

One of the activities of the International Women’s Club of Boston this summer was a trip to the small coastal village of Annisquam, Massachusetts. One of the members kindly opened her house to us. She had an art show at the local gallery, so the plan was to meet at her house, visit the art gallery, beach and “downtown” Annisquam, and just have a nice day in the country.

Annisquam Art Gallery and Gift Shop

Annisquam is a teeny tiny village on Cape Ann, a coastal area of Massachusetts north of Boston. The most famous town in this area is Gloucester, a former fishing village and now vacation spot and residential community. People live here year round as well as having summer houses on the coast and in the small towns that dot the bays, harbors and islets of this area.

It seems funny to me to describe this as a rural area, although it most assuredly is rural, since I had to drive quite a ways TOWARD Boston to get there. But when I got to Highway 128, the old ring road around Boston, I turned toward the ocean. And although I assumed it was much closer to Boston than we are, it turns out that its actually thirty miles northeast of the city, so its just as far away as we are. Because up in New Hampshire we’re only forty minutes to the ocean its hard to realize that the shore north of Boston juts way out to the east, making everything in that area farther away. The one other time I was near here it took forever to get here, and now I understand why.

My GPS got me to Mary’s doorstep without incident. Her little cottage is her summer house. The house appears tiny from the road but it actually consists of three levels, since its built on the side of a hill. The main living area is down one level and opens out to her back yard and a screened porch. Her studio is on the second level and there were a multitude of bedrooms on the third. The house used to be a boarding house and was over one hundred years old.

Wikipedia says that Annisquam was first settled in 1631. It is across Cape Ann from downtown Gloucester and has always been primarily an artist colony and vacation spot.

After eating lunch at Mary’s we strolled down to her art gallery. It was fun to see her beautiful paintings and listen to her talk about her art and the differences between painting with watercolors and painting with oil, which is what she now primarily does. I kept thinking about Eugenie and the changes that her art has gone through. Mary is primarily a representational artist, although she had a few pictures in a more abstract style with which she was experimenting.

After the art gallery we were free to do whatever we wanted for the rest of the afternoon. A few of us chose to explore the beach. The Annisquam beach was just beautiful! To get there we walked along a path through a meadow. Wildflowers bloomed profusely in the meadow and all the way up to the rocks before the beach. It was low tide and the expanse of beach was huge. But the jewel in the crown so to speak was a perfectly picturesque light house, situated directly to the right.

After strolling along the water and getting our toes wet, I laid down on the beach with a couple of the other ladies.   The wind and sun were warm and comfortable but I was restless. I decided to walk down to the marina and see the rest of the town.

The little harbor was filled with sailboats and small fishing vessels. Children played on a bridge across the harbor, but it was mostly quiet and peaceful. Flowers nodded in the afternoon sunshine. I peeked into the marina restaurant, but it was closed. Getting sleepy and wanting to avoid rush hour traffic, I strolled back to Mary’s, thanked her for the wonderful afternoon, and headed home.


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