A neighbor told us she saw us through the window as we sat at the Thanksgiving table and that it looked like a Norman Rockwell painting. Well, the food was very traditional, tasty in the main, and everyone enjoyed each other, so maybe?
(We’ll definitely be skipping the TikTok method of peeling potatoes in future!)
For some reason, I’ve been mildly obsessed with tree lightings. Faneuil Hall! Tuesday at 5! There’ll be hot cocoa! No one else was interested. Not even in the Festival of Trees at Elm Bank? No, not even that (at $20 per person, it was easy to let go of).
For that reason, I was hyped during a jaunt to the North End to see the lights at Christopher Columbus Park. I believe it’s still called Christopher Columbus Park even though his statue is gone. Photographing the bare monument-pedestal on Native American Heritage Day offered poetic justice, while a nearly full moon rising over the harbor gave us a kiss of beauty.
Four of us had rushed to the North End to tour the Paul Revere House (closing at 4:15) which come to find out consisted of two rooms and a diorama (a very cool, very detailed miniature silversmith shop of a diorama, but still). We were back on the street in no time and freezing in spite of walking at a good clip between sheltering buildings. There’s the statue of Paul Revere! Hustle, hustle. There’s the Old North Church! Copp Hill Cemetery was somewhere but we never made it because by then K and I decided to head home. The kiddos had to withstand the cold, however, for something like two more hours to make their dinner reservation (there might’ve been a birthday involved).
A Bruins game made getting back onto the Pike hellish, but the sky was beautiful and the heated seat was on high (aaaahhhh).
Having the boys back is the most natural thing in the world, familiar and lovely, but having them gone and far away is now also familiar, comfortable. It’s a weird mix. I’ll tell you this though — Finn is visibly relieved to be the only child again!
I made two kinds of cookies. Tomorrow: the pie doughs and chicken stock.
It’s been chilly. November-like. Raking’s on the agenda again and the usual dog walking.
I painted over the chipped-off paint spots on our stairs earlier and hung a pretty Japanese cloth above one of the boys’ beds. Both bedrooms are dusted and vacuumed and straightened. It’s been a while.
If you’re short on time, here’s my texted version of the trip:
It was overwhelming. Sad. Hard to digest it all. DT and EL were easy travel companions. Most things in sync. Each museum built on the previous one, so it was good learning. I think the thing that will haunt me the longest is the murder of Emmett Till.
We spent three-plus hours with Red Clay Tours, part walking / part driving. It’s a father, son team. White. Initially, I felt disappointed that we wouldn’t have a Black guide but not only was Mike extremely knowledgeable, he often modeled language of acknowledgment and atonement, giving his white customers another level of learning.
Birmingham has a nickname: Bombingham. You probably know that it was the site of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing that killed four girls. A devastating act of terror.
But bombings were so frequent that one whole section of town is nicknamed Dynamite Hill. Birmingham is a mining town (or was), meaning that dynamite was readily available. (Also meaning that its decline resembles that of Rust Belt cities.) Bad actors often flung lit sticks out of cars while driving by.
On Dynamite Hill, we saw houses with blackened bricks. Others with five foot cement brick walls around them. We heard stories about cars blowing up. Stories about the valor of men protecting leaders by being the one to turn the key.
We learned about how one of those leaders, Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, pastor of the Bethel AME, emerged from the rubble of his bombed home, energized by his miraculous survival. He refused to rebuild the structure.
It’s quite astonishing that more people weren’t killed. It’d be tempting to sneer at the incompetence of white supremacists if it weren’t for the fact that even with minimal loss of life the bombings created pervasive and abject terror.
That same morning we learned about the marches that led to Birmingham’s desegration in 1963, including The Children’s Crusade. Next post.
Readers: if anything here is wrong or needs refined/updated, please let me know. There was A LOT of information in a week and I’m bound to get things wrong here and there. And PS first versions of this post erroneously included a photo of Dexter AME, not Bethel.
PPS I took that video above in our hotel, Hampton Inn/The Tutwiler. It took a lot of tries because often someone was waiting for the elevator (imagine their surprise) when the doors opened and I had to start over. It was worth it to me to look weird and possibly even suspicious to highlight the very cool black and white photos. They graced every landing and the inside of the elevator doors.
It’s our anniversary. Here we are in Assisi a few years back.
Don’t enlarge the picture because my eyes are closed and you’ll get a glimpse of the neon crown that started this whole recent dental misadventure.
Content warning! Extreme photo to follow!
(Sorry-not-sorry — there might have been jokes with my dentist about not needing the retainer for travel in Alabama and Mississippi).
Here’s husband hard at work yesterday. It’s one of his virtues. I also work hard but tend to be messier, meaning I often walk away from piles of weeds and raked leaves — not necessarily intending for him to pick them up but generally he does and that’s as good a metaphor for our marriage as any!
Otherwise it’s a day when I am preparing for my trip, boiling eggs (because they’re soft to eat), and planning to make another pumpkin roll for K to enjoy in my absence.
And can I just say — maybe that’s a pretty good metaphor for our marriage as well?
I like being past the fanfare, by the way. We’re well into the “til death so us part” phase. Our plan for today includes picking up curbside a special dinner from Legal Seafoods. Also, since I just read on Nextdoor (it’s good for something, I guess) that a bald eagle’s been spotted over that way, we’ll go over early. Take a look over Hammond Pond for ourselves. That would be special, wouldn’t it? Scallop dinner celebrating 33 years and a bald eagle sanctifying our union?
I picked up this rock on the Cape recently. It’s for him.