Wednesday, August 31, 2022

"Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get." -- Forest Gump

Samira's first solo with Honk this past Sunday, the 28th.

Just a few things here and there as we end our time in Boston.

A quote, that turned out to be a poem, caught my attention. It was located in front of the Cambridge Bourdeau Library branch. I love cities that highlight local artists so I did a little research. 

The sidewalk poetry contest began in Cambridge in 2015. They combine highlighting local talent, with sidewalk repair. Submissions are requested in the spring and several poems are selected from all age groups (this year it was 5,  with 5 runners-up) with the top 5 being stamped into the sidewalk. Our son's neighbor, Charles Coe, is an accomplished poet, writer, and over-all advocate for the arts. I noticed this year he was one of the runner-ups. I contacted him to see if he had a poem stamped somewhere in Cambridge. "No," he said, but a few years ago he had one in Boston.

Back to research! Boston began it's program Raining Poetry on the Streets of Boston in 2016. Short poems are stenciled on with a bio-degradable water-spray and last 6-8 weeks. The neat thing? They are hidden during dry weather and magicly appear when it starts to rain. 

A poem titled 9 Below in Cambridge, weathered and a little hard to read. 

In 2017 Charles Coe had his poem entitled Mnemonic stenciled on the sidewalk in several places in Boston.

Samira's  loose tooth fell out at swimming lessons

Once again I am easily amused. The entire Target store was on the second floor above a parking garage. You pushed your cart onto the conveyer belt inbetween the escalators for a ride down. 

On July 21st the School of Honk paraded around Paul Revere Park and the adjacent North Point Park in Boston. It was a hot day but the shade and breeze made it a great day to be out. To get to the park we had to cross the locks. We got to see a boat enter one the locks but didn't stay long enough to watch them lower the boat. The sidewalk swung out of the way when boats entered.

Paul Revere Park

Samira practicing the melodica before the parade.

North Point Park

Dinner after the parade at Clover's in Harvard Square. We were tired!  We rode the T and still walked a lot. It was a 20,000+ step day.

I got a box of chocolates but I picked them out so I did know what I was getting!

 Obviously we really enjoy the School of Honk. The 28th was the last performance we'd get to see. 

On the 28th Honk began in the Park in Cambridge Commons, my favorite park. Lots of history on display and an amazing playground. They paraded to Harvard.

Cyrus enjoyed a Minecraft book when the band stopped to play at Harvard. Earns him pom-poms toward screen time. 

I've seen a lot of Little Free Libraries but this one in Cambridge was unique. One drawer was for kids, one adults...
Where are the Piepers now? Mansfield, MA

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

"The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain." -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This is the Vassall-Craigie-Longfellow house.  Longfellow possibly has better quotes than above, but this one was very appropriate. We have walked past here countless times in the past but today we stopped because the rain was pouring down! We haven't stopped before because we are cheap, but today I figured we could use our National Park Senior Pass. It so happens the hour tour is free for everyone so no pass needed.   

This house was built in 1759 for John Vassall, a sugar plantation owner and future loyalist. In 1774 the Vassalls and their neighbors fled the insurgency preceding the American Revolutionary War. 

In 1775 Gen. George Washington chose this house as his headquarters while commanding the Continental Army. In 1791 Andrew Cragie, the Continental Army's first apothecary general, bought the house. He married Elizabeth Shaw in 1793. While Cragie intended to increase it's grandeur and size bad investments and lavish living put him in debt leaving his widow to take in boarders. 

In 1837 Longfellow, a Harvard professor and up-and-coming poet, became one of those boarders. In 1843 he married Fanny Appleton whose father presented the house to them as a wedding gift. They had 6 children here. In 1913 their children established the Longfellow House Trust and in 1973 donated it to the National Park Service.

There are so many things for kids to do in the Boston area. We took one day and went to the Discovery Museum. It appeared to be geared for younger kids but there were a few things they enjoyed. 

The da Vinci lever. Which rope will allow them to lift Grandpa?


Explore the power of air with pneumatic tubes and blowers.

We took one day and went to the Honey Pot Hill Orchard and picked blueberries and a lot of apples.

Hedge maze

Since I can get lost going around the block I stuck with Josh and we were the only two that made it to the middle. I told them no one else needed to go because I found the $100 bill. 😉

Where are the Piepers now? Cambridge, MA

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Veni, vidi, vici!

We headed to the North End (Boston's  Little Italy) Monday for our food and history tour with Paula Noukos, owner and guide from Off the Eaton Path. Our first attempt a week ago fell through, but it was well worth trying a second time. While Paula is not a native north ender, her knowledge of the area and it's history made the tour one not to miss. Thanks Zia and Josh! Below are our combined pictures from both of our visits to the North End.

The North End is the city's oldest neighborhood, inhabited by Europeans since the 1630's. In the early 1800's many wealthy families and artisans lived there. In the first half of the 19th century it experienced a significant amount of commercial development. During this time it developed a red light district, known as the Black Sea. Ann Street, lol, was one of the streets with brothels and saloons. By the 1840's living conditions in the crowded North End were among the worst in the city. 

A wave of immigrants settled in this community. First Irish and then Eastern European, Jews and Italians. By the early 20th century the area was dominated by Jewish and Italian immigrants. During this time it was hit hard by the Spanish Inflenza Pandemic and The Great Molasses Flood.  

In the 1950's the Central Artery was built to relieve Boston's traffic congestion. The highways and associated ramps basicly isolated the North End from downtown Boston. During the late 20th century the Central Artery was dismantled and replaced by the Big Dig, an underground tunnel. With the construction many businesses closed but the North End was reunited with downtown Boston. 

In the 60's there were under 10 Italian restaurants today there are near 80! Lots of tourists about.

A walk, a subway ride, and another walk (about 1 1/2 hours) to the North End. 

We have walked the Freedom Trail in the past.  Today we walked past a few of the sites on the trail.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace in downtown Boston dates back to 1742. It fell into disrepair in the mid 1900's but was renovated in 1976. It houses 49 stores, many eateries and pubs, along with 40+ push-carts. You can find various street performers along the promenade.

We had extra time so we enjoyed the swings overlooking the garden.

In the background is the old Boston Custom House Tower. The original building was built in 1837-1847 and the tower was added in 1913-1915. It was officially Boston's first skyscraper and maintained that title until 1964. It is now a timeshare resort by Marriott. 

We met Paula in North Square. She began our tour with some history of the North End.

 At our first stop, Galleria Umberto, we were met with a pizza slice and a Sicilian Rice Ball (Arancini). 

Paula knew a lot of locals.  John was eating nearby so we invited him over to join us for lunch. 

Our second food stop was at one of the few small shops still in the district. 

They spread sawdust on the floors to keep it from being slippery with the wet weather.

Here we tasted Olive oil and Balsalmic Vinegar so we would know what to look for in authentic Italian products. Also had goat cheese and prosciutto.

A small local bookstore. The small stores have or had awnings of various colors to identify themselves. For example, a green awning indicated a florist. 

This is the border of Little Italy and downtown Boston. Earlier in the 1900's you would have found ramps and highways dividing this area. In 2007 work was completed moving roads underground,  rejoining Boston and the North End.

Hidden in alleys was this gem. It was started to provide baked goods for the owners 7 restaurants.

I don't remember it's name but our pastry at our third stop was delicious.

Our final stop.

First we chose between coffee or tea with a
Cannoli. I had given up on Cannoli but this changed my mind. It was out of this world!
This was the end of our tour. Before we left we got to choose one of their Gelato's or Sherberts.

The Mariners House at 11 North Square is basicly a hotel exclusively for documented men and women who work at sea and their families. It was built in 1847.

Originally the Seaman's Bethel, Sacred Heart Italian Church bought this building on North Square in 1888. It was built in 1833.

In downtown Boston this tavern claims to be America's oldest Tavern, built in 1795.

We really enjoyed our day(s) in the North End.  The food was fantastic and we learned so much. I came, I saw, I conquered!
Where are the Piepers now?  Cambridge, MA