Some of my favorite photos from our recent trip to Virginia are below. See the complete photo album on my website.
For Spring Break, my son Peter and I traveled to Virginia to visit my mother and play tourist at Colonial Williamsburg, Historic Jamestowne, and Go-Karts Plus. It was three-day trip but it felt like we saw and learned a lot. Now, I once lived in Williamsburg. I attended the College of William & Mary, worked on an archaeological site as part of a field school, studied 18th-century furniture at the art museums, and then was an employee of Colonial Williamsburg for four years during my senior year of college and the years immediately afterwards. So, these places are familiar to me. But this was the first time I’d visited as just a plain old tourist in close to 25 years, and the first time I visited as a parent, sharing my enthusiasm for history with my son.
We actually visited few of the sites I actually worked at in my time as a historical interpreter as Peter was drawn more to the historic trades (which, ironically, I rarely had time to visit when I actually worked there). For a place rooted in history, a lot has changed at Colonial Williamsburg. The Charlton Coffehouse was reconstructed in recent years and we enjoyed the unexpected treat of a free serving of hot chocolate of an 18th-century recipe. There’s also a daily event called Revolution in the Streets where the last block of Duke of Gloucester street is open only to paying guests and character interpreters perform a drama right in the middle of the crowd. The story we witnessed was about a slave couple deciding to “jump the broom” to marry before the man was taken away to Richmond (for some reason I never learned). We were among the witnesses to the jumping the broom ceremony which involved everyone participating in song and dance. It is kind of cheesy and probably not 100% authentic, but I think it gets across the point of what daily life and choices were faced by ordinary people of the past. I liked it better than the military reviews and speeches by great men that are more typical of living history performance.
People who know me well know how I feel about The Eagles.
But this song is by the homophonic band spelled Eagulls from Leeds, England. The post-punk band’s track “Possessed” is reminiscent of mid-80s Pixies rather than mid-70s klassik rawk, which is a good thing.
What are you listening to this week? Let me know in the comments.
The waiter at Chowning’s Tavern is a beer aficionado and set me up with a sample of another AleWerks beer (I left him a generous tip). Old Stitch is brown with a cream-colored head. The nose is sweet and chocolatey, while the taste is nutty and well-balanced. This is a tasty brew and I wish I’d had time to sample more.
Beer: Dear Old Mum Brewer: AleWerks Brewing Company Source: Draft Rating: *** (7.6 of 10) Comments: Visited Chowning’s Tavern at Colonial Williamsburg and enjoyed a mug of this locally-brewed, 18th-century recipe beer. Dear Old Mum is unfiltered with a honey-color and not much head. The scent is grainy and the flavor is spicy with a sweet, malt finish. There’s an effervescent tingle on the tongue and the flavor grows stronger the more you drink. Nice to see Williamsburg making a strong addition to the craft beer revolution.
Author: Rainbow Rowel Title: Eleanor & Park Publication Info: New York : Listening Library, 2013.
This novel set in Omaha in 1986 tells of the young love of the 16 year old protagonists Eleanor and Park. Eleanor lives in poverty with her mother’s abusive boyfriend making an ordinary teenage life impossible. Park is half-Korean and likes New Wave bands, and chooses to fly low amid the jock culture of his school. A lot about Eleanor and Park and their romance rings true. I especially like the depiction of the hierarchy aboard the school bus, and even late in the book when they must rely on the bullies for help at a time of distress. Unfortunately, a lot the other characters in the book are very two-dimensional. Eleanor’s mother’s boyfriend is a bad TV movie abusive villain. Park’s mother struggles to emerge from the Asian mother stereotype. Still, this story is a unique and honest look at the passions and ideas of young love.
My son Peter and I took in our first Red Sox game of the season on April 7th versus the Texas Rangers. While the 2013 champions have struggled early on, we were treated to a thrilling 5-1 victory. Yes, it was April baseball, as both teams had a passed ball and an error, and probably deserved some more errors. But a win’s a win. As an extra bonus, we received a David Ortiz bobblehead upon entering. And since Peter is now a member of Kid Nation, we were allowed to enter the ballpark early and watch the Red Sox batting practice from the Green Monster seats, which was pretty awesome.
Fifteen years ago, I attended the Boston Marathon for the first time. I knew about the race from an early age, because even in southwestern Connecticut where I grew up it is a big enough event to warrant lots of news coverage. I also knew enough to be envious of Massachusetts’ schoolchildren that they got an extra holiday that fell on a lovely spring Monday. But in 1999, I was skeptical that watching people run could be all that entertaining.
Still, I gave it a chance and rode my bike to Cleveland Circle to take in the race. There was a thrill to seeing all the motorcycles, the press van, the time clock, and finally the small of elite runners zip by. But what happened next it was really surprised me. The ordinary runners, the people running to raise money for charities, or to prove something to themselves, or just because they love running began to arrive on the course, first in a trickle then in a big pack. And the crowds of spectators grew and became louder and they cheered on EVERY. SINGLE. RUNNER. I walked along the course, following the runners all the way down Beacon Street to Kenmore Square and then on to Boylston Street to the finish line. Then I rode the green line back to Cleveland Circle along with proud finishers wearing mylar blankets, feeling like I was surrounded by large baked potatoes.
Boston is a town known for its reserve, something that to outsiders may appear aloof or rude. But on this day, Patriots Day, there’s a near Bacchinalian explosion of good feeling as every spectator expresses their love and support of other people, the majority of whom are complete strangers. I read stories of experience marathon runners who describe Boston as unlike any other race as the entire course tends to be lined with people offering constant support. In fact, these runners say that they can’t even leave the race, because the spectators push them back onto the course, which is borderline aggressive, but done with the best intentions.
Last year, this celebration of the best of Boston humanity was marred by the two explosions near the finish line that killed three spectators and wounded hundreds more. And yet, that Boston spirit was still there as people – both medical professionals and amateurs – rushed to the injured. Their quick action and selflessness saved many lives and has been encapsulated in the idea of Boston Strong. In the wake of the bombings, Bostonians were frightened and saddened, yet also calm and determined. People I know from far away seemed more freaked out, wondering if anyone would want to run the marathon in the future, perhaps even canceling it entirely. President Obama got it right when he said “Next year, on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever, and to cheer even louder, for the 118th Boston Marathon. Bet on it.”
Since that first marathon in 1999, I’ve tried to watch it every year when I can get off work. I’ve also gone to the battle reenactment and parade in Concord and a baseball game at Fenway Park (attending the dawn reenactment at Lexington and riding in the Midnight Madness bike marathon are still on my to-do list). Last year, I did have the day off from work but was unable to convince my children that they would want to go watch people run and cheer for them. We went to the playground instead. In retrospect, an ambulance that passed us by at incredible speeds as we were on our way to the playground was certainly responding to the bombings. I learned of the bombings from checking my smartphone while watching my children play.
I knew that I would have to watch the 2014 marathon no matter what. Luckily, the kids were agreeable, and my whole family watched the marathon today. We returned to my favorite spot at Cleveland Circle. Conveniently, there is a playground tucked behind the buildings on Beacon Street, so the kids could take a break. My daughter Kay peeked through the fence and shook some noisemakers while cheering on the runners. My son Peter was more intent on watching the race and spotting some friends of ours among the pack. He gave high five to runners and one woman stopped and talked to him about her stomach cramps. It was a gorgeous day, a great marathon, and really everything that Patriots Day in Boston is supposed to be.
This week’s song is not very current, it’s from last year. But Pure Bathing Culture‘s “Dream the Dare” is very pretty and I was reacquainted with the song through The Best of RISK! Music Podcast. There’s something about the echoey quality in the vocals and harmonies that reminds me of a song from the 80s (or maybe the late 70s), but I can’t recall what song it is. If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments.
If you know any other good new songs let me know about those as well.
Beer: Irish Whiskey Cask Brewer: Innis & Gunn Source: 22 oz. draft Rating: **** (8.1 of 10) Comments: A knock your socks off beer that is pitch black with a creamy head. The nose is an overly sweet caramel, while the flavor has hinds of whiskey and oak. The lacing is erratic and the head dissipates completely. This is an elegant stout with an alcoholic punch.
Several years ago I attended a retreat where I learned about contemplative prayer. I found this guide by one of the major proponents of contemplative prayer, Thomas Keating, narrated by Keating himself and decided to listen to is as a refresher. Keating begins by discussing the human condition and psychological development from early childhood. He discusses programs that people use to seek happiness but concludes that the limitless human heart may only be filled by God. He relates that “fear of God” does not mean the emotion of fear, but trust, reverence, and passion for God.
Centering prayer is laying aside all thought so we can open ourselves to God. There are three aspects to this kind of prayers:
a sacred word – repeated unchanging throughout prayer and important to disregarding thoughts
a comfortable position but not too comfortable so you don’t fall asleep
20 minutes of time – one may only end up with 1-2 minutes of quiet, but it is quality not quantity