Friday, November 15, 2013

Cape Cod & Boston

The second trip I took on sabbatical was to Cape Cod and Boston. I got off to a late start, right when I was packing for the trip I realized my car's registration had expired so instead of leaving on time I spent a few hours at the DMV. I ended up not doing a whole lot on this trip since the weather was pretty awful, but I did do most of the things I wanted to.

First (and why I went to Cape Cod in the first place) was the Edward Gorey House. I love Edward Gorey, I grew up watching the Mystery! intro and this blog name is taken from a line in one of his stories. They have a lot of his original artwork on display and the tour is full of anecdotes about his life and work.

After that it was back on the road up to Boston. I've never really liked Boston, especially since last time i was there I got lost for 2 hours driving around (in the days before smartphones and cheap GPS). I stayed at a pretty fancy hotel for that night, The Langham. I had planned this trip way ahead of time and they had an early booking discount of 20%, so it wasn't really much more expensive than any of the other downtown hotels. The hotel was maybe a little too fancy for me, their bar was full of a finance-type crowd and I felt pretty out of place just generally (although my room was very pretty!).

The next morning it went out to do the one thing I had wanted to do in Boston, walk the Freedom Trail. It was unseasonable cold and raining and I gave up partway Massachusetts and went back to the hotel. I did at least manage to get some nice pictures and see some cemeteries.

From there I went over to Lowell, Massachusetts. Before this trip I knew pretty much nothing about it but it became one of my favorite places I went. I went there to see the American Textile Museum, which I did enjoy quite a bit. I'm not normally particularly interested in wedding stuff but they also had a (special?) display of wedding dresses through the years. It had a lot of the history of the dresses and the women who wore them, and I found it more interesting than I thought I would.

My only plans for Lowell were to see the textile museum, but I ended up spending a lot of time walking around and going to some of the other museums in the area. I had a passing familiarity of the textile mills, but never had an understanding of the scale. Most of the downtown area is just massive brick buildings, one after another.

The thing I found most interesting was the history of the Mill Girls. I've always loved history so I'm not sure how I made it this far without previously learning of them, especially given that I've lived in New England for most of my life. I highly recommend the Mill Girls and Immigrants exhibit if you're in the area, they had reproductions of the living quarters and as well as a history of the town.

I would have liked to stay longer and walk around more, but it was still rainy and even colder than it was in Boston, so I had to give up a bit earlier than I wanted and head home.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Philadelphia, in May

The first trip I took on my sabbatical was to Philadelphia. I figured it would be a good place to start for solo traveling practice since I'd been there before, it's relatively nearby, and there were some things I wanted to do that I missed last time.

The first thing I did was go to the Mütter Museum (no pictures allowed anyway, so at least there was no loss there). The Mütter Museum is a medical history museum, it's rather small but they fit a lot of stuff in. Fascinating but also morbid and creepy, there's a lot of skeletons, preserved body parts and some related miscellany (like doctor's books bound in leather made from human skin). It was one of those places I'm glad I went, but was also unsettled enough at the end that I don't think I'll need to go back again.

I then got lunch at a cafe that is also an Ethiopian restaurant, and then over to Eastern State Penitentiary (the pictures from here are the ones I regret losing the most). I'm not into audio tours but the one here is narrated by Steve Buscemi and I enjoyed it, it's like walking around with Steve Buscemi telling you about prison history.

After that I went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, my favorite thing there was the Constantine Tapestry collection.

Description from the museum: In 1625, King Louis XIII of France presented papal envoy Cardinal Francesco Barberini with a series of seven tapestries, designed by Peter Paul Rubens and woven in Paris, on the life of Constantine, the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. Upon returning to Rome, Cardinal Barberini established his own tapestry works and commissioned Pietro da Corona to design additional tapestries for the Constantine series.

By the time I left the museum it was evening so I went back to the hotel for a bit, then back out to get some dinner. I ended up going to the Khyber Pass Pub since they had veg-friendly food options and were walking distance from the hotel, I got the vegan BBQ pulled pork sandwich and it was pretty great. The music was also good, while I was there they played Carrie Anne by The Hollies. It ended up being the exact song I wanted to listen to, and I ended up listening to it a few times on Spotify at the hotel before deciding to just buy the album to listen to in the car on the rest of the trip.

The next morning I stopped by an amazing historic candy store, Shane Confectionary. I was lucky they opened early so I could make it before hotel checkout. I got some chocolate turtles and a bag of Mary Janes (one of my favorite old-timey candies, sometimes I feel like the only person under 60 who likes them).

After that it was time to check out from the hotel and then to Longwood Gardens. I had originally planned to just stop for a bit on my way home but I liked it so much that I spent about 4 hours there, even getting lunch in the cafe. This is the other place I'm sad I lost my photos of, but at least here I have a few since I had also brought a film camera with me (I posted a few already here).

Since I spent so much time at the gardens I was both sunburnt and didn't get home until around 10pm, but at least I had The Hollies to listen to on the drive.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Film photos from Maine

It's been a rough couple of weeks for me and photos. I brought two rolls of film in for development and one of them was from my trip to Maine last fall, not the pictures from Arizona I was expecting (it turned out those were still in the camera). Not that it's bad to have these now, but a bit disappointing they've been sitting around undeveloped for that long and also that I had to make a second trip back to the Lomography store for the Arizona ones. I also discovered that I somehow lost all my digital photos from my trip to Philadelphia. Pretty sure it was a botched import since they were the first batch with both my new camera and a new laptop, but they're nowhere to be found on either my computer, external drive or my camera. While much of that trip wasn't very photogenic, it does mean I'm missing the rest of the Longwood Gardens photos and everything from Eastern State Penitentiary.

Anyway, since I have the Maine photos now I figure I may as well go ahead and post a few. These are from the trip I took to Maine last fall, taken with the Zeiss-Ikon around the 1920's inn I stayed at.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Few Photos

So my sabbatical is pretty much over, going back to work on Monday. I suppose it's for the better, it will be good to get out and socialize again. Although I was fairly busy I ended up spending a lot of time alone, either traveling by myself or at home by myself while my boyfriend was at work. As an introvert I generally like having time alone, but it turns out three months is a really long time.

Anyway, I have a ton of pictures to sort through but in the meantime I got back some film photos that I took with the Ikoflex in Longwood Gardens on my Philadelphia trip. I had been in a photography lull before all the travel so it was nice to get out and have some new things to take pictures of, hopefully I can keep up the motivation now that I'm back.

Unrelated, I've been starting to use bloglovin and though I'm still not used to it I did finally add a button for it over on the right.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

So, I'm finally on sabbatical

My last day in the office pre-sabbatical was on Friday (there was a great lunch and a party), so I've actually been on sabbatical for a few days already. I really haven't done much, though, and it still hasn't totally sunken in yet. I don't have any real plans until next week, but I still thought I'd do more than just sit around the house until then. The only thing I've really done that I don't normally do on a weekend is go up to New Haven for lunch.

New Haven is a bit out of the way though, and it does have one of my favorite restaurants, Miya's Sushi. They make mostly non-traditional sushi and have a lot of vegetarian options, my favorites are the Hot-Headed Cowgirl (coconut-covered roll of cucumber, avocado, cream cheese, canteloupe, burdock, and hot peppers) and the Voompa (spicy, crunchy eggplant seasoned with Persian ghormeh sabzi herbs, goat cheese, avocado, and scallions) rolls. They also have their own infused sakes, I'm partial to the Dragon Lady (ginger, lemongrass, honey). They can get busy on weekends, so when I'm off from work I like to swing by for lunch midweek.

Hot-Headed Cowgirl Roll

Friday, April 12, 2013

Getting Closer

I've only got three weeks left at work before going on sabbatical and it's really starting to sink in. I have actually managed to schedule things (hotels booked, even!) for May so far, and have tentative plans for June. Still no real progress on what to do in July, but I'm hoping once I get into the non-work routine in May I'll think of something.

Somewhat related to sabbatical planning, I purchased a GPS system for my car since there's a fair amount of driving to new places planned. I hadn't bothered before because I usually use my iphone for directions, but it is a pain to use while driving alone and I spent a lot of time pulling over into parking lots and/or empty driveways to re-check the map when I missed a turn. So, I ordered a super basic Garmin and it sat on the kitchen counter for almost two weeks since I didn't have anywhere new to go. Once the weather warmed up this weekend, though, I realized it was tag sale season and the perfect time to try it out. It turns out it totally made driving to random places for tag and estate sales a much more pleasant experience, and with zero missed turns on my part. I really wish I had bought one sooner.

And I started the season with good estate sale luck! I went to two, and while one didn't really have anything I was interested in the other did. I picked up a couple of vintage beaded purses and some more vintage cameras. Until now I hadn't bought any cameras I didn't think would be usable, but the little Starmatic and Satellite were too cute to pass up. They both seem to take 127 film, which isn't readily available so they'll have to be display only. The Sunpet takes 120 film, I already keep that around for some other cameras so I'm looking forward to cleaning it up and seeing if it works.

I haven't been posting much here (which will hopefully change once I start actually doing things while on sabbatical) but I'm generally active on such low-commitment places as twitter and tumblr if you want to follow me there.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Planning Time

So I have an upcoming sabbatical from work, three months paid time off. This is a great thing and I realize how lucky I am to even have that opportunity! But, it's also pretty intimidating (and I actually was eligible last year and put off taking it since I couldn't think of the perfect plan). I've since accepted that there will never be a perfect plan, so at the beginning of the year I scheduled it for May, June and July and have been trying to figure out what to do ever since.

The best travel related Louis Wain picture I found in my 5 minute search, mostly due to the car

The biggest thing I have tentatively planned is a cross country drive. While we travelled a lot by car when I was a kid, I've never been further west than Kentucky and it would be nice to see the west coast at some point. I had been thinking about just flying out, but there's a ton of stuff on the way I'd like to see. I figure I'd have to rent a car when I got there so maybe I can just drive the car I have over there. The downsides are that I'd be going it alone, and if I get sick of it I won't have another way to get myself and car back home other than more driving.

I'm definitely planning on doing lots of local stuff. I live right outside of NYC and am there for work 5 days a week but there's so much I haven't done. I go to the Met semi-regularly but I've never been to MoMa or the Natural History Museum, much less the smaller museums I keep meaning to go to like the Tenement Museum and the Transit Museum. I have also never gone to the Empire State Building or any of the other stereotypical NYC destinations so it might be fun to play tourist and do all that.

There's also a lot of nearby major cities to explore. Last year I went to Philly with my mom and didn't get to nearly everything I wanted to do. It's only a few hours away so there's really no reason not to go back. And as much as I dislike Boston, there is a lot of historical stuff there I'd like to see (I was a huge Revolutionary War history buff as a kid) and it's also not that far away.

I'll also probably take some fun classes at the local community college. In fact, my initial sabbatical plan last year was to just take a full summer semester of weird classes. I even got as far as looking in to class times and prices, but realized it wasn't the way to go for a variety of reasons.

Right now everything is just vague ideas, but I'm realizing that May is coming up faster than I thought it would so I need to start making concrete plans. It is still pretty overwhelming though, especially now that it's finally sinking in that I'm really doing this.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Belated New Year's

I'd been meaning to start the year off with a post about goals and such but instead I've been waylaid by one of the maladies going around NYC (quite possibly the flu), and it's been a total motivation killer.

lazily re-using last year's postcard image!

I'm not that into New Year's Resolutions themselves as I view self-improvement as an ongoing project, but I do easily get stuck in a routine which can be good or bad depending on what it is. So the holidays always end up being a good time for me to try to make some changes since the time-off from work, family activities, etc all end up breaking me out whatever rut I'm in and make it much easier.

Things for this year:
✦ Take more photographs. I realized I haven't used any of my cameras since September, which is sad
✦ Sew different things. I've been sewing fairly regularly, but the last several things I've made have all been from the same two or three patterns. I have a lot of patterns and pattern books, so there's no need for all my clothes to look the same.
✦ Finish organizing my room. I have a side room that's basically my sewing/craft room that I can decorate however I want, so far I set it up enough to be usable but not enough to make it my dream space that it should (and can) be. Step one is buy a loveseat, chaise lounge or something similar.
✦ Learn to crochet. I have my great-grandmother's antique crochet hooks and bought a book last year and then never got around to it.
✦ Watch more movies and TV. I don't actually watch a lot of TV or movies, but I enjoy them quite a bit and I'm even behind on the ones I do watch (still need to finish Downton Abbey season two). I have trouble making myself just sit down and watch something, since I always feel like I need to be doing something more active, but I need to slow down some and appreciate things more.
✦ Start doing yoga at home. I love going to yoga classes and do so once a week, but more yoga will be good for me and for some reason I just never manage to do it at home, even though it can (and should) be easier than trying to go to more classes.
✦ Update this blog! Seriously, what happened in September? It seems like that's when I quit doing stuff and I can't think of anything that stands out as to why. I also changed the name, as I had been tired of the old one for a while and made it a goal to have a new one for New Year's. I do still need to change up the layout a bit to match, though (I've even still got the old header image up since I haven't made a new one yet).
✦ Start posting some outfits here, maybe? I like style and fashion quite a bit and enjoy putting together outfits every morning but I'm definitely camera shy, even when I'm the one with a camera. Out of this whole list, this will be the one that's least likely to happen.

So written out it's a pretty long list, but except for the last one it's all either things I have done in the past or things that I'm already doing and just need to do more. I may have to prioritize some since there is a lot, but it all seems reasonable.