Monday, November 29, 2010

Its Beginning to Look A Lot Like ...

Neighbors make a difference.

The Christmas Wreath flies on the Tower for a second night as I write. There is another on the West Wing lit by spotlight. Purchased from the great R&C Farm on Saturday, the wreaths were rigged and poised for installation yesterday morning.

I had done this alone last year. I had found myself awake on a relatively windless Sunday morning and decided I would not bother anyone with the task. I had no doubt that I could navigate my way through the hoisting to the top and the tying off of the lines once there. Up it went and then the trouble began. (I refer you to the blog posts of a year ago which line up along the right side this column)

This year I called. Dave, George and Jesse arrived, with Haley on camera duty. The pictures follow:

We even have a tree up in the house - before December! The Scituate Arts Association has asked us to participate in their annual house tour to be held this year on Sunday, December 12, 2010 from 1:00 to 4:00. Flying Santa will make his annual visit (weather permitting) here the day before on Saturday the 11th at around 1:00. Check out the Flying Santa link for more information on this amazing tradition. The Friends of Flying Santa

My deepest thanks for all the help.

Update on a prior post - Israel and Saudi Arabia can be added to the list of countries peeking in on this blog - may their holiday seasons be happy ones.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

With Thanks to Martha Reeves

"Calling out around the world, are you ready for a brand new beat..."
I have argued over the years, (when the topic is music, it is a blast to toss out your favorite then step back) that the song that lyric comes from, Dancing in the Street by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, is the greatest of the great Motown Sound. It grabs you from the first lick and gets you on your feet while giving you a geography lesson at the same time. "...Don't forget the Motor City..." This blog is hoping to do the same.

Below is the chart for the current visitors to the blog over the last three months. 24 different countries, nearly 3000 visits by 1108 visitors. It is flat out amazing to me that this could be possible.

The idea for the blog came to me, as so many do, while driving. Haley was attending the terrific YWCA day camp in the Marshfield Hills and to get there you must take a left off of 3A after you cross the Michael Jason Kelley bridge, then wind along Summer Street for 2 plus miles. You have time to think on the way. We were soon to be interviewed for this position and I was anticipating what I might be asked and how I might respond. I was considering what I could tell the Historical Society I was going to bring to the table that might be unique among the field. Somewhere along that road the word blog rose like a trout and I thought why not.

Russia, Poland, Bangladesh, Armenia, Yemen, Yemen, it is beyond imagining at this point. I thought that maybe a cousin or two might dial in to show one of my aunts, or that my sister Christine in Oregon might want to see some of the pictures I knew we would put up, but I never, ever, dreamed that there would be an audience for this blog in countries where the language is posted on signs in Cyrillic or Arabic or Hindi.

Now I am getting greedy. I want Egypt, Israel, Japan, and Peru added to the list. I want South Africa, Madagascar, Austria, and Panama. I want this blog to be stickered like an old steamer trunk. I want The Word to be tattooed like lifer in the Queens Navy. Carmen San Diego will have nothing on us. She will look like a Emily Dickinson before we are done. The blog is going to wrap the world like the strings that wrap the core of a baseball; like the bandages that wrapped Tutankhamun; like the grooves wrapped the label on an old Motown LP.

Take a peek:
1. United States 2,812
2. Philippines 33
3. United Kingdom 19
4. Australia 7
5. Canada 7
6. Germany 5
7. France 4
8. Ireland 3
9. Netherlands 3
10. India 2
11. Portugal 2
12. Sweden 2
13. Singapore 1
14. Yemen 1
15. Russian Federation 1
16. Poland 1
17. Korea (South) 1
18. New Zealand 1
19. Greece 1
20. Spain 1
21. Bangladesh 1
22. Brazil 1
23. United Arab Emirates 1
24. Armenia 1

Total 2,911

Which one is the biggest surprise to you?

Thursday, November 11, 2010


In my course on the 20th century I teach that World War 1 was the most important event of all. I argue that the generation killed in that war was the most talented the world had yet seen, skilled in arts and in crafts, supported by the fantastic sums of wealth generated by the second industrial revolution. By the winter of 1915 they were gone, millions of them, gone, and the door was open to the second rate minds and ambitions of Joseph Stalin and Adolph Hitler. Americans in service then, including the great Pat Delaney, were told that their efforts would ensure the rise of democracies in place of the decrepit dictatorships that brought on the war. After training with broomsticks and being in sent into the field with French rifles the American Expeditionary Force was the fulcrum used to leverage both sides into a truce. Today marks the 92nd anniversary of that truce. Below are two links to songs that prompt reflection for my students each year. Finally,  there is a poem from Carl Sandburg. 

John McCutcheon - Christmas in the Trenches

Liam Clancy - And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda 


Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo, 
Shovel them under and let me work--
I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?

I am the grass.
Let me work.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Several steady jobs has left less time to blog of late.

The end of the first term of the school year sees events compress and time for reflection diminish. I have a long list of students this year and my juniors are especially talented. Assessing their work takes time and attention to detail. It is an ongoing conversation with 64 young people simultaneously. With my seniors the challenge is to convince them of relevance. That class is a government class and the issues seem at a distance to many. Blogging has been left in the dust as I work out those tests and papers and planning. Add in the other projects, advisory positions, and a steady gig helping students prepare for the SAT and time vanishes like pocket change.

What I have noticed of late, when I look up from this desk, are the skies. A look to the horizon has become a giant comic book panel for me. Last Thursday, late in the afternoon, I looked toward Humarock and noted the sky. The clouds formed a giant, gray eye, with the cliffs as the lashes and variations of light serving to create the brow. As the sun would pass behind clouds behind me the affect was that of a wink. I couldn't photograph it and it has taken almost a week to figure out how to describe it.

A few days later the image was one of a road running away from the ocean; the clouds were banked like a turn at a NASCAR track. The effect was the sun flashing in spots like the reflections off the race cars. All that was missing was the sound of engines in Doppler mode.

At night the skies have traffic. Planes in formation zigging and zagging. On the horizon you can see the first fishermen or lobstermen; klieg lights glowing as very near stars, a small parade of fireflies. (And it is still night to me, it is early morning by the clock, but it is night when they go out.) The planes and boats supply the sound that the clouds do not. It is a steady up and down of pistons punctuated by a propeller noise any six year old can duplicate on demand. When the roar of the rocks is just right, there is a keen percussion to it all.

The image below is of a group Julie was photographing last weekend. Take a look at that sky and figure out just what story it is telling for yourself.

Thanks to Linda Martin for the wide angle lens and all her help

And to that nurse that met my sister last Saturday: You were right. You can always get in without her.

Getting the Work Done

A lot is in place for the summer and that is the result of many having put in some time. Lets start with the boardwalk. It remains a very ...