Writing My Life

Now and Then


NaNoWriMo Update

As you can see by the new widget in my sidebar, I have accepted the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge. I know I am crazy, but I ALSO know this is the ONLY way I will EVER complete a novel.

Craziest photo I could find of me - t'was taken LAST November in Bahston

I’ve tried the SANE way – writing every day… worked for a minute; writing a certain amount of words daily … ditto; writing at the same time each day … no luck; write with a buddy … buddy bailed; tried a “MiniWriMo” … same sad story; started and stopped writing a mash-up novel by sort of¬†plagiarizing Thomas Hardy. Sigh.

So here goes.

I told G.E. about my goal and he didn’t even say, “What? Are you NUTS? Aren’t you busy enough? You’re already glued to the computer.” Etc.

I shared my writing idea with him AND read the first 1000 words to him. He was “almost” enthusiastic. Hey! That’s good for the man, okay? He even fell asleep last night without growling – and I mean literally growling – at me to turn off the light. (The growl is really cute and always makes me smile.) Anyway, I typed for about an hour! And then read “until I learned something.”

I plan to leave “mini-posts” to document my progress along the way, but not until after I post my “Autumn Album” tomorrow – LOTS of cute pix of my grandkidlets between September and November.

In the meantime AND if your curious, I’ve written – drum roll, please –

4161 words!

and yes, I’m behind.


… in, out, and around The Freedom Trail …

Dear Friends, Here are the last of my Boston pix. While there were TONZ I could have posted, I’ll spare you. It was SUCH a great experience – UNFORGETTABLE.

C.'s Uncle Dave directed us step by step to 15 Hawthorne Street where Carolyn's grandfather served as a mission president back in the day. It was a tender moment for her. I couldn't help but be touched as well.

As stated in an earlier post, this mansion was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's home, but I was SUPER thrilled to learn it was George Washington's headquarters during the Siege of Boston! Thanks, D. McCullough for bringing that era alive in his book 1776.

The State Capitol Building, as well as Carolyn and I, overlook Boston Commons where sheep once grazed, criminals hung from trees, and ne'r-do-wells TRIED to dodge rotten vegetables from their positions in the stocks. (People, not veggies were trapped in the stockades.)

The DEAD of winter may have been on the horizon, but we found many luminous autumn leaves to brighten our way along The Freedom Trail.

The Granary Burying Ground, a FAMOUS cemetery for famous dead people, looks like it is straight out of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Ichabod Crane may not rest here, but Sam Adams, John Hancock, and Paul Revere do!

Remember Sam Adams before his beer was famous? He started by dumping tea into the Boston Harbor, along with a bunch of Patriots (NOT the football team) dressed as American Indians (NOT Cleveland's baseball players). Anyway, he rests HERE now.

We were hard-pressed to find cobble stones in the streets of Boston, but Carolyn's sleuthing led us to this GREAT street of row houses and lots of cobbles!

What is it about row houses that make them so charming? I tried to think of all the inside stairs I would have to climb on a daily basis if I lived in one, but even that did not detract from their loveliness!

This bookstore was owned by the publisher for these American authors: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., Charles Dickens and Louisa May Alcott. (Mr. Dickens was NOT an American!) Many of the writers frequented the store - perhaps to see how their books were selling. ūüėČ

This is somewhere close to more historically significant places, but I can't remember for the life of me what they are. No matter, it's a cool looking shot, huh?

The Old South Meeting house may not get as much press as the Old North Meeting House, but lots of revolutionary events were staged here. Citizens protested the tea tax; Sam Adams signaled patriots to dump 342 crates of tea into the harbor; and the Boston "incident" turned into the Boston "Massacre" when outraged colonists LOUDLY registered their objections!

"No TAXATION without REPRESENTATION" was first shouted from the 2nd floor of Faneuil Hall. Town meetings were born here 250+ years ago, and the hall continues to entertain "important issues of the day!"

Restaurants, Quincey Market, and our Republic's cradle all dwell here. A.MAZ.ING.

On July 16, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read from the East Balcony of the State House to officially inform King George that many colonists didn't want to play with him or his friends any more. Now the Declaration is read EVERY July 4th from this very spot to remind American citizens that what was started then continues!

Memorialized in bronze and words, Paul Revere's famous ride lives in the heart of Boston's North End.

The Old North Church was AND is EPISCOPALIAN/Anglican!! That meant that Patriots had to sneak into "enemy territory" to swing the lantern and signal the riders that "the regulars (not the British) were coming" by land! (Colonists considered themselves British at that time!)

Four of us attended services in the Old North Church. We were uncomfortably snuggled on hard benches inside one of the "pew cozies," as I called the cubicles that lined the aisles.

No, this isn't Martha Stewart's pew cozy, but it is an example of how wealthy colonists "warmed" up the cubicles with everything from brocades to foot stoves. Some even featured rocking chairs!

Closer look at the enclosed pews. Colonists "bought" these, and the richest families purchased the most central ones. They decided size by the number of members in their families. The pews were enclosed to keep Church-goers warmer in the UNheated sanctuary!

One if by land? I think this lantern needs to be hoisted higher to get the word out!

My last look at Old North Church. It lost its steeple in the 1950s when Hurricane Carol came ashore. I think that steeple has been rebuilt twice.

The North End is home to more than the Old North Church. It is also called "Little Italy," and this is where great restaurants fill the air with aromas SO intense that I gained weight by just inhaling!

Only ONE residential home from PRE-Revolutionary days exists, and that house once belonged to the night-rider, Paul Revere! Hard to believe the house was 90 years old when HE bought it!

It is also hard to believe this tiny dwelling could have housed 8 people, but that was an era of great deeds, not great greed - at least for Mr. Revere and his family.

Well, there you have it. A whirlwind week in a great city where we found great food, friendly people, educational sites, and unbelievable vitality. Boston, I LOVE YOU!

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… more Boston TOPS … or “The Stay-Puff MarshMellow Woman Invades BeanTown”

Before I forget what these photos are of, I decided I better post the pix of my adventures in one of my now favorite cities in the world. Be prepared: some of the pictures that include me in them are NOT pretty. I now own a plethora of “BEFORE” photographs in preparation for my next weight-loss attempt. So sit back, peruse, enjoy, and chuckle – I hope!

HARVARD YARD. Turn the volume WAY up if you want to hear the narration. Close your eyes if you don’t want to get dizzy! I learned that the Widener Library was built and dedicated in memory of a Titanic victim. I remember learning about him during my Titanic-mania days.

I couldn’t leave Cambridge without purchasing a Harvard hoodie at Coops, home of EVERYTHING Harvard. You will see me wearing that sweatshirt in nearly EVERY picture. Why? Because I wanted to look smart AND because it was the perfect weight for the weather. You’ll notice that my shiney face rarely ceases to gleam because I was plenty warm – as I usually am. Sigh. BUT more than one person asked me if I was in town for the Harvard-Yale football game, which Harvard won by the way.

THE FOOD TOUR: Yes, Boston is famous for its food, and we tried to hit EVERY restaurant recommended to us, including: Legals, Dugin Park, Mike’s Pastry and Regina’s Pizza. We also discovered two off-tour places that deserve a blurb – a quaint Italian cafe on Newbury Street where my friend and colleague Carolyn and I shared bruschetta AND a pear and prosciutto salad. Superb.

We also stumbled across a MARKET in Cambridge that served a HUGE variety of dishes from around the world. We dished up and dined right along with a bushy-bearded student and some other fine scholars. No picture though. Sorry.

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Don’t EVEN think the show is over. There is one last tour: The Freedom Trail and Other Foot-paths. So stay tuned. You might also want to check the other Boston-related posts as I have updated them with my own photos. ūüôā Stay tuned.





… hello from BeanTown / TeaTown …

Have you guessed where I might be? Yes, here I am in one of our nation’s cradle communities: BOSTON! This is my very first visit here, and I am in LOVE. Thus far, it is measuring up to¬†EVERY expectation.

If you are asking “Why is Renae in Boston?” I’ll explain. In addition to my work with Secondary Literacy, I have been assigned¬†to assist in our district’s dual immersion program. Since je¬†parle un peu¬†francais, I feel terribly inadequate in supervising teachers who speak¬†Spanish and Chinese – or ANY language other than English.

Fortunately a state grant paid my way to a national convention that is helping me understand my new role, AND that convention just happened to be HERE! YaY!!!

The minute the last daily session ended, my colleague Carolyn and I jetted out the door, slippped into our walking shoes, and started exploring. Tuesday we wandered over to Newberry Street to ogle over the brownstones lining both sides of the avenue. The evening was almost balmy, and I carried my coat as much as I wore it. We ducked into a little Italian sandwich shop for a light and YUMMY dinner: bruschetta and a honey pear salad with prosciutto (Italian for ham). DeLiCiOsO!

Harvard Yard - Home to GOOD WILL HUNTING

Wednesday afternoon, we jumped on a bus and headed to Cambridge Рhome to Harvard U. Because the sun sets just after 4:00 P.M., we wandered about the campus at dusk. It was amazing, but I have to say I felt OLDER, POORER, and DUMMER just being there. Lots of Ivy-League looking students of EVERY nationality roamed the sidewalks that linked the red-brick buildings.

I made one interesting connection to my past Titanic fetish when we entered Widener Library. The magnificent building was created and named in honor of Henry Elkins Widener who died in the sinking of the doomed ship.

Next Carolyn and I went in search of the home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s NIECE. “Why??” you ask. Well, that house used to be¬†the¬†home for the president of¬†the Boston Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who just happened to be¬†Carolyn’s grandfather.

In the early darkness of the evening, we found 15 Hawthorne Street. Now empty, the stately home still stood as a proud sentinel. We managed to get some good pictures thanks to the mighty flash on my CoolPix camera!

We couldn’t leave without crossing over to Brattle Street to wander about Henry’s estate – Henry as in Wadsworth Longfellow as in “Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere … .”

Summer View: Picture from Flickr

Prior to the poet’s acquistion of the home, it serve as George Washington’s headquarters during the Revolutionary War. If you have read David McCullough’s 1776, you might remember that Washington and Henry Knox outmaneuvered the British during the Siege of Boston, thus forcing the British general Howe to evacuate the city.¬† So cool to explore history this way!

Carolyn and I walked the grounds and even though late autumn had claimed  bushes and flowers, we saw a skeletal beauty that helped us appreciate the charm of the estate. The wide veranda had been freshly painted and the high white sheen lit our way around the mansion.

As we said goodbye, Carolyn spotted an old-fashioned key hanging from a bush’s branch at the front corner of the house. We wished it was a “magic key” that would not only open doors to the mansion but also to the past. How fantastic it would be to eavesdrop on Washington’s war plans or Longfellow’s parlour conversations!

Our great evening ended with another tasty dinner at a Cambridge market. We chose our fare from fresh dishes from the around the world and then headed back to our comfy quarters. SuperTimes!