20/07/2008/8:27 am, Boston
Before Jim left for Ottawa we spent a little time browsing around Boston, and I've done some more of it each day after I knocked something off my to-do list.
On Thursday, we strolled along Salem St in the North End - an area we enjoyed when we were here in the fall. It's the Italian section, and we loved the narrow street, the alleys, the fire-stairs zigzagging down the sides of the brick buildings, the window boxes and little shops. At Mercato del Mare, we bought two halibut steaks and a half-pound of shrimp. This was the first halibut we've had in some time, and the lady said our little pieces came from a 135 pounder! They were wonderfully fresh and Jim BBQ'd them perfectly - just nicely seared on the outside and still moist inside. A squeeze of lemon, some pepper and they were ready to eat along with grilled potatoes and a broccoli salad. I sautéed the shrimp in olive oil and garlic with a splash of white wine another night - juicy and tender and oh so good - and all for me because Jim was gone!
The so-called farmers market I went to on Friday was a disappointment; there wasn't a single local vendor. All the veggies came out of the same boxes I could have found in the grocery stores. I'm missing the magnificent veggies Tina and I bought from Jodi in Fernandina Beach. Grumble, grumble.
I must say, the Americans know how to do memorials. Another stroll Jim and I took was through the Holocaust Memorial. It is a deceptively simple memorial - designed to be walked through - consisting of a series of tall glass towers inscribed with thousands of tattoo numbers overlaid with short statements from survivors. A time-line of events is inscribed on one wall, and along the walkways are other statements of fact that made us pause. It is a moving walk, and extremely well designed with visual and kinesthetic layers to it. What's more, it is right in the touristy area - just down the way from the fountains with children playing - where families can walk together and talk about that part of our world history.
In the other direction from the dinghy dock, another plaza has statements from immigrants inscribed in the paving stones, and over at the new North End Park, panels detailing the history of the area circle the gardens. Last year when we followed the Freedom Trail through this area we visited more tributes to those who lived and worked here.
I took the subway out to the JFK Museum on Sunday afternoon, and it's a winner. For starters, it's an absolutely gorgeous granite and glass building on a beautiful piece of waterfront over in South Boston. Designed by I.M.Pei, the proportions and vistas seem just right. At the end we emerged into a glorious high atrium - all glass and girders and views of the water and the sky.
I had forgotten that he served only three short years; I'd forgotten that he insisted on desegregation of schools and backed it up with action, and that, along with his sister Eunice, he had done so much for the good of mentally challenged and mentally ill people; I'd forgotten that he pushed ahead the space exploration program and I didn't ever know that he initiated the Peace Corps or the Special Olympics.
There are many displays of letters to and from the President, video footage and audio recordings of his life leading up to his presidency and the highlights of his term in office.
At the end, we turned a corner, walked between black walls and came to the TV screens where we saw Walter Cronkite announcing the shooting in Dallas that finished his presidency. It didn't finish his legacy.
Reviewing the life and work of this man reinforced my belief that you don't have to be perfect to be great. It's kind of like a multifaceted gemstone - even if one facet is scratched, the stone still sparkles.
On my way back to the harbour, I took a walk through the Granary Cemetery and found among all the illustrious ones, an intriguing little headstone inscribed to the "Elizabeth Hurd, amiable and virtuous comfort to John Hurd." It was a nice variation from "wife of" and it made me chuckle.
When I haven't been out exploring, I've been doing some badly needed boat chores. I scraped the brightwork and put on a fresh coat of cetol. It certainly isn't a perfect job, and will need to be redone later, but I just couldn't stand to see all the bare bits on the rub rails. Madcap is such a beautiful boat and she was looking pretty sad. I also sprayed lemon juice over the ICW moustache and it cleaned it up pretty well. The cockpit is shiny again, and in another 24 hours the stainless will be too.
I thought we might get the storm that I heard the Coast Guard warning about on Saturday night - with gusts up above 30 knots and hail - so I double secured everything, took the flags down and reviewed our "what to do if" procedures, but it passed us by completely. We haven't had even enough wind to run the wind generator so I've had to turn on the engine for an hour each morning. We did get a good soaking rain on Sunday afternoon, and another one during the night; back in the days when I had a garden, I'd have been delighted!
In the meantime, Jim is having an excellent time in Ottawa - visiting with old friends, seeing our boys and meeting with his boss to come up with a plan for some meaningful work next year!
19/07/2008/3:34 pm, Boston
Yeah! I just put up 7 postings to bring us almost up to date! Jim got back safely to Ottawa and is having fun seeing friends. I'm cleaning and writing. Tomorrow, I'll go have fun again. It's very hot and humid here - 33C last time I looked - a brief thunderstorm last night - and I wouldn't be surprised to see another one tonight.
16/07/2008/3:25 pm, Boston, MA
They were fine days to be on the water - but they would have been finer if we could have sailed!
After leaving Newport about 10:45 on Tuesday, we motored along through Buzzards Bay right to the western end of the Cape Cod Canal. We had talked about various places to stop for the night and opted for easy. There is a narrow little tongue of deep water just inside the pilings on the east side of the channel south of Taylor Point and we edged in there for the night. Lots of mooring balls and fishing buoys littered the area, but only one other little fishing boat was in the deep water. It is one of those places that we'd think twice about without a chartplotter, but it was easy to do, our depth sounder never got worried at all even with a tidal swing on 90 feet of chain, and it made for a quick getaway in the morning.
I had some Italian sausage to sauté with onions and peppers and tomatoes and olives (those last were add-ons for me) but no pasta or potatoes, so I served them over cheesy grits, and it worked well - a new experiment in fusion cuisine. Lunches this week have been salads, and breakfasts are fruit and yogurt - Jim and I are trying to drop some of the excess pounds we picked up - and keeping away from bacon and eggs, and bread and rum sure helps!
A 6:45 departure allowed us to make use of the eastern setting flood tide through the Cape Cod Canal and were in and out of there in less than an hour. We saw 10 knots at the start, and kept going at 8.5 to 9 knots most of the way. Once into the ocean, we motored along in some low-lying fog at first, but it lifted as we continued and it was never heavy enough to turn on the radar. Once again, there was very little wind. We contemplated digging out the DRS sail but there wasn't even enough of a breeze to make it worthwhile, and the swells on the starboard side probably wouldn't have helped it any.
So... we played a couple of games of Scrabble - I trounced Jim on the first one, and he returned the favour on the next one. We have a little travel version with tiles that snap into the board and we've discovered that if we both perch on the back rail and put the board on the seat behind the wheel, we can keep an eye on the water and play as we travel. There were occasional interruptions to alter course to avoid lobster buoys but it worked well and kept boredom at bay.
We missed out on Nantucket and Cape Cod sailing yet again (we said last fall that we'd explore this area on the way home) so we'll just have to come back. While we don't regret any of the stops we made farther south, we have to make up for it now.
After the last of our long days for a while, we headed into Nantasket Roads, through the Narrows - a winding passage that links up with President Roads and into Boston's Inner Harbour. Navigating Boston Harbour seems much more complicated than New York. There are far more channels and marked routes, making it confusing unless you have the waypoints entered on the chart plotter; we had them. Planes flying low overhead to and from Logan Airport, fast ferries and tour boats come and go in all directions, and all eyes available are needed to keep a watch. It was a satisfying feeling to navigate through it all and arrive at the Boston Harbour Sailing Club just off the Aquarium in downtown Boston.
We stayed here last fall, and when we called to reserve a spot, we were lucky enough to get a mooring ball again. Because I was staying on the boat while Jim went to Ottawa, we didn't want to be anchored, and didn't want to pay the big price of a dock. Unfortunately there have been some changes here. The Club no longer has an arrangement with Rowes Wharf for showers and laundry facilities, so while the price has increased from $40 to $45, there are fewer services. We didn't find out about that part till we got here, and I'm not thrilled about it. However... we made do in the south without showers and I can do it again. I may have to tear apart Madcap's shower drain and try to fix it myself if I get desperate.
Jim and I went ashore for a pub dinner - 1-¼ lb lobsters for 12.99 - and took in a free outdoor concert. What a hoot! It was an evening of oldies; Shirley Austin Reeves - an original from the Shirelles with her group of new Shirelles, and Charlie Thomas from the Drifters with a mix of old and young back ups singers performed that night. She is 67 and he is 72 and they both still have their voices and great stage presence. Charlie said at one point that the young folk have to pull their pants up and start performing. "We need a new Elvis Presley and a new president!" Interesting combination! I bet he'd have been a neat person to get going in a conversation, but he restrained himself to a few curious asides and kept on singing.
Besides the music, a highlight of the evening was watching the seniors in the audience. School buses lined the street outside, and dozens of seniors filled the seats. Several got up to dance - and could they move!! We watched one lady who had to be in her eighties really dance up a storm. These folks who learned to dance when they were young still have it. Later in the evening, we stopped in front of Rowes wharf to watch another group of young folks dancing to the music of the orchestra on the Blues Barge. They knew how to dance too. Most were dressed up and they knew all the steps to those dances that involve more than just moving independently to the music.
It was a fine ending to the day. Jim heads off to Ottawa on Friday (after spending Thursday getting ready) and I'll amuse myself here.
As an update on the checking-in process, Jim has been dutifully calling a number from his list each time we move to a new jurisdiction. When he called the Newport number, though, he got a surprise - it was Newport, Oregon! The officer said this was the fourth call of the same nature this summer. (Such an efficient system these Border Protection people have.) After a call to another number he was directed to a Houlton, Maine office. We hoped that one call would do us all the way to the border, but no such luck. The number remains the same, but the calls must be made from each state. It's not a problem - just a quick call, our location given and a reply that we are updated. No answer yet to WHY we need to do this - we'll spend more time on that question when we get back home.