Sunday, July 26, 2015

Life Back in New England (and Photo Overload :-))



Everyone has one. What's the big fuss?
Ever since I arrived back in Newburyport, MA a few weeks ago, life has been busy. With the Wirie business, with family and friends, with some errands, with doctors’ visits and boat dealings. It is all part of an engaged landlubber’s life, together with the hot, pressurized showers, unlimited water and electricity supply and reliable internet. The modern US stores are well-stocked and diverse as ever and the goods very affordable, but I am not allowing myself to be seduced by the consumerism, commercialism and climate control of the western world. Yet. I am still bravely fighting the convenience and attraction of it all, whether it is a nice looking pair of shoes, a dramatized news program on TV, a tempting and inexpensive bottle of dark rum, a $2 bag of kettle chips, a running tap to brush my teeth, massively wrapped products causing heaps of garbage, a cheap haircut or a fancy looking, slick and slippery Smart Phone! To be totally honest, the bag of chips was irresistible, and I am enjoying my comfortable daily showers… But, what is wrong with a normal (to me) phone these days? They call them “dumb” phones, but at least they worked and I never messed things up each time I touched one! And why do all the air conditioners have to turn every room or store into a freezer?

All those adaptation problems aside, Mark and I went to Dana Farber Hospital in Boston a few times for some cancer check-ups. So far, so good, which we are happy and relieved about. There are a couple more to come over the summer, but by the fall, we hope he will be declared healthy… until the next follow-up appointments.

The weekends have been packed with visits to friends, while the weekdays are spent with Mark’s parents Carol and Stan, and our computers. We also managed to hang out with our twin nieces, who have changed tremendously in the year we have been back to the boat. “All of a sudden” they walk (or better: run) and talk!!

The highlight of the past weeks, was our visit to New York City. Mark and I rented a car for a week, to make our trip and subsequent doctors’ visits more comfortable, easy and efficient. After a first night with our dear brother-in-law Brian in Greenwich, CT, we managed to park the car for free in the upper west side of Manhattan on a shady, wide road. From there, we took the metro downtown (30’ ride, $2.75 a person), where we met our cruising friends Sim and – my BFF - Rosie (SV Wandering Star, moored in Port Washington on Long Island) and Mark from SV Sealife (moored in the 79th Street boat basin). Together we walked the streets of lower Manhattan and visited the extensive, well-done and touching 9/11 Memorial Museum. The spectacular new One World Trade Center had us in awe as well.

The five of us ate our grocery store bought lunch on a bench with a nice view of the Statue of Liberty and the Jersey shore line, before exploring Battery Park and Wall Street. The bull of Wall Street was very popular with tourists, his balls and nostrils a shiny, less coppery color, and Trinity Church exuded peace and quiet enlightened with a purple haze. Since we were all pretty tired from walking around all day, and 5pm was approaching, we rode uptown to find Jake’s Dilemma, a great little bar with an irresistible happy hour: pitchers of beer were $8 ($9 for the guys’ preferred Samuel Adams draft) and a glass of house wine sold for $3.50! Not bad for a Manhattan evening out…

We said our goodbyes to Mark, who had been a helpful and fun tour guide, and took our rental to Port Washington, where we spent two nights on SV Wandering Star. Sim and Rosie prepared a delicious dinner and it did feel nice to sleep on a boat again. On Saturday, we explored a bit of Long Island and walked the circular trail of Hempstead Lake State Park. At night, our hosts treated us to a wonderful Mediterranean meal in the center of town. Our last day together was enjoyed in Brooklyn. The massive Greenwood Cemetery was more impressive than the Brooklyn brewery, but we all had a great time nevertheless. Mark and I hugged our beloved friends farewell in the Botanical Gardens, before dropping them off at the train station, with a promise to meet again in a year or so. If I get sailboat, warm weather or BFF withdrawal, I will be more than happy to visit them in the Bahamas this winter!!!

Before we headed back to Newburyport, the two of us stayed in Greenwich again for two nights. Brian took us to Woodstock on Monday, to visit an alternative healer and see a bit of the famous town and cemetery. We had a yummy Mexican lunch and finished the day with a swim in the delightful pool on the grounds Brian maintains. I love how it stays light out until 8pm during the summer in New England. Soon, I am off to Belgium for two months, where the days last another two hours longer. Yay!

Newburyport:
 
Niece Jo, niece Chelsea and me, 10+ years older - I fit right in! :-)

Carol's garden and one floor up, our balcony

We gave the twins backpacks from New Zealand; they wore them the whole afternoon while playing

Uxbridge:

Our friends Denise and Ryan hosted a fantastic BBQ again for us and Mark's group of college friends (+ family) - fun for young and old

Mark being cooled off by Elaina
Water pistol fight - Mark was attacked from all sides!
Water fight with the kids

Pool games to escape the heat

The girls: Elsa, Denise, Jen, Holly and me

Manhattan:
 
The new and spectacular One World Trade Center in NYC, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere

Left over underground wall and foundation of the Twin Towers - 9/11 Museum

Steel beam where one of the planes hit the Twin Towers - 9/11 Museum

One of the firetrucks that was demolished during the horrible terrorist attack - 9/11 Museum

Having a snack with Sim and Rosie after hours of indoor walking

Two impressive fountains/monuments have been built in the exact location where the Twin Towers once stood - Ground Zero

One of the two fountain monuments near the 9/11 Museum

Mark, Rosie, Sim and Mark, ready to make lower Manhattan unsafe
 
Statue of Liberty seen from our lunch spot

Having lunch in front of the Hudson River and the New Jersey shoreline

Skyline of Manhattan near Battery Park

Castle Clinton in Battery Park

Manhattan, seen from the castle

The Wall Street Bull, popular with tourists, in the front...

... and in the back

Historic Trinity Church, surrounded by skyscrapers

Fun times with great friends at Jake's Dilemma, near 79th Street

Long Island:
 
Yummy shrimp fajitas for dinner on SV Wandering Star

Hempstead Lake in the State Park of the same name

Rule #1 on Wandering Star: Do not enter with dirty feet! (Baby wipes are provided.)

Rosie's beautiful collection of Caribbean found sea glass

Dinner out in a nice Mediterranean restaurant (Port Washington) - Watch your food, Rosie!


Brooklyn:

Impressive graves and mausoleums in Greenwood Cemetery

A very peaceful setting for a picnic lunch
Greenwood Cemetery is so big that you need a car to drive around and two people to navigate!

Rosie on a hill in Greenwood Cemetery

Big and modern mausoleum

The inside of the mausoleum is very modern, comfortable and airy - it feels like a hotel for deceased people and is quite a place

Extensive Greenwood Cemetery

Manhattan's skyline, with the new Trade Center, seen from the cemetery

Typical Brooklyn scene: African-American children playing in the fire hydrant on a hot day
 
Crowded tour of the Brooklyn Brewery

Rosie and Liesbet in the Botanical Gardens of Brooklyn

Greenwich:

Eggs and Brian's magical and healthy shake for breakfast

Happy Sophie, a joy to be around!

Woodstock:

Church in the town of Woodstock, NY

Main Street is lined with guitars

Looking for a place to have lunch in the cute town center

Tourist information center and a "child of Woodstock" in the frame

Woodstock Cemetery

The grave of Levon Helm, the drummer of The Band and one of Brian's heroes. Brian cleaned the grave site and painted the fence out of appreciation and respect for the musician

Zen Buddhist Temple in Woodstock

Boston:

Driving into Boston for cancer check-ups for Mark

Harvard Medical School in the hospital area

"Water park" in the Greenway - the twins love it!

Lily and Cera enjoy playing in and along the water fountains

Cera playing in the fountain on a warm summer day

Kristen and Mark's brother Tim (and Suzy, Mick, and the twins) had us over for a scrumptious dinner