Philly On The Water and Celts Above the Freeway


July 19, 2017, Philadelphia-

In the past, we would drive along  and bypass the large cities of the East Coast, Boston and Washington being exceptions.  I have continued to do so, pretty much, since Penny’s passing.  With Philadelphia being the venue for a major family event, next summer, and with my brother and sister-in-law being here for a visit, I made my way into  town for two days.  This was the second day.  I was on my own until 4 PM, as the family had to tend to planning activities.

So, after saying farewell to my nephew, at Brandywine, some downtown Philly time was in order.  My first stop, after parking the Hyundai, was Penn’s Landing.  Here, William Penn did disembark his boat, after sailing up the Delaware River, in 1682.  He’d be amazed at what is there now.  I walked along the pedestrian bridge and along the overlook, watching people in the pop-up amusement park, below.



After purchasing a bottle of water, from one of the ubiquitous vendors, who line Penn’s Landing, in summer, I found I-95 park, perched above the freeway.  It is a shady place of comfort for those living on the Near South Side, and has several remnants of what dominated the area, before the City of Brotherly Love.


It also has a couple of statues honouring the people of Celtic descent, who provided so much of the labour for building the cities of the megalopolis, from Boston to Norfolk.  This statue pays homage to the Irish immigrants.


Next to it, another statue tips its collective hat to the Scots, who were so indispensable to shipbuilding, a Philadelphia mainstay.


This sculpture depicts a family walking past Tun Tavern, a key gathering place in early Philadelphia.  This marker commemorates the site of the old public house, founded in 1686, and named for the Old English term for beer barrel.


Moving on, from I-95 Park, I spotted this early Twentieth Century office building, which may or may not have had a predecessor in this spot, which may or may not have been used by Benjamin Franklin, during one of his breaks from planning the Indian Wars, at Tun Tavern.


The Betsy Ross House had a private event this afternoon, so I gave a pass to going inside.


Like Boston and New York, Philadelphia is filled with little architectural gems, above doors, along windows and on walls.  This wrought iron protects the window, in a most agreeable way.


I am most amenable to further exploration of this great city, especially next summer.  My next post, though, will focus on one of Philly’s best kept secrets: The Center for Art in Wood.

What happened to Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six?  Nothing, I have five posts left, in that series, and will insert them between now and November 28, when 66 ends.


Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LXI: Brandywine’s Message


July 19, 2017, Chadds Ford- 

My nephew wanted to hit the trail, this morning, so after a few rendezvous snafus, due to differing GPS entries, we met at Birmingham Friends Meeting House, near the site of some of the heaviest fighting.  The battle raged here, on September 11, 1777.  Today, we were the only people on this little hill, south of Chadds Ford.  The Brandywine Valley, today, is better known for its wineries,  for the Wyeth family’s presence and for the Longwood and Main Fountain Gardens, than for one of the heaviest battles of the American Revolution.

Of course, without the battle, which showed the British victors that the war was far from over, it’s likely that all the beauty of this valley would be under entirely different auspices, today.  We spent the first forty minutes of our visit, in and around Birmingham Friends Meeting House and its Peace Garden. First, though, here are a couple of views of the area that was the battle zone, 240 years ago, next month.



What is the province of grazing cows, today, was a harrowing encampment, for men on opposing sides, but all far from home.  The hospital where all, regardless of loyalty, would be treated for their injuries, was in this modest building- then and now, a Quaker Meeting House.


Many of their fallen comrades would be buried, in a mass grave, on the south side of this cemetery.  Hundreds lie here, with no regard for their ideology. All were viewed as humans, by the farmers of Birmingham Hill.



This plaque announces the Peace Garden of Birmingham Hill.


Again, the serenity of the day- with the distant echo of muskets and cannonade.


This verse, by John Donne, is one of several cogent quotes, placed carefully, throughout the Peace Garden.


William Sloane Coffin also offers a simple comment on the world of today.


A poignant expression of love, from a local farmer to his departed wife, signifies the ongoing daily life, around the battle and its aftermath.


After time for reflection, we headed to Brandywine State Museum, and spent an hour or so there, before walking to Washington’s Headquarters. The museum offers detailed exhibits of muskets, British rifles (which were largely responsible for the Royal Army’s early successes) and cannonry.  It is, like the Museum of the American Revolution, a well-balanced institution.

In the nearby woods, this long-abandoned gazebo tells of how nature regards the vagaries of war.  It grows over the remnants, and challenges us to unearth them.


This was Benjamin Ring’s root cellar.  Mr. Ring was the host to General Washington, and his troops, who camped in the fields.


The Rings most likely stayed in this “servants’ quarters”, during the Revolutionaries’ encampment.


Here is the main farmhouse, where the General and his staff planned what turned out to be an inadequate strategy.  Much was learned from the battle, though, and it was the hubris of the British, combined with French and Polish support for the Americans, which led to the rising of the Revolutionary forces, after Valley Forge.


With this, my nephew was off to pick up his little girl, from pre-school, and I was headed to Philadelphia, after a fabulous lunch, at this bustling, somewhat friendly establishment.




Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LX: Freedom, Borne of Fire


July 17-18, 2017, Philadelphia-

After treating my mother to breakfast, at Saugus’ downtown cafe, Hammersmith Inn, I bid farewell to the town of my childhood, and headed towards Pennsylvania, and more family bonding.  My middle brother spent a good many of his working years in Pennsyvania, lastly in the Main Line precincts of Chester Springs.  Two of his children still live in the Philadelphia area.  He and my sister-in-law were here visiting, so this was a natural stop, for a day or so.

I took my now customary route, south and west, stopping first at Newtown, CT, where I have been intending to visit the small reflection area, where Sandy Hook Elementary stood, at the time of the massacre of 2012.  I was, of course, unable to do that last year, with my car trouble.  No such issue rose this year, so I stopped, prayed and reflected, with the new Sandy Hook Elementary School behind me, and many people carrying on the business of summer school.


Freedom allows people to make some odd choices, as those who threatened the lives of the victims’ families did, in the wake of the tragedy.  Thankfully, no harm has come to any parents or siblings of those slain.

I drove down I- 84 & 81, at one point having to detour through Middletown, NY, ironically the place where I first took the dying Nissan, last summer. Again, there were no issues with my trusty Hyundai. I continued to a place which has come to feel much like home, these past six years:  Glick’s Greenhouse, Oley.  After a lovely welcoming dinner and some quiet time, I was honoured by this sunset:


The next morning, with a breakfast to match the dinner, I bid farewell to my Oley family. For those who remember Cider, the Glick’s old collie, Manny- his successor, is getting the hang of greenhouse life.


I headed south and east, into the Main Line area, and connected with my Georgia siblings, at their hotel, then went to a deli-style restaurant, in the town of  Wayne.  Nudy’s Cafe is a thoroughly tasteful establishment, with wonderful food and attentive, well-dressed servers.

After this repast, Dave and I headed to the Museum of the American Revolution, in downtown Philadelphia, experiencing relatively mild traffic, en route.  The first sight greeting the visitor, in the area of 2nd St and Chestnut, is a statue of Pennsylvania’s founder:  William Penn.


The Museum of the American Revolution, itself, is less than a block from this little square.  It is just south of the domed building in the foreground.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The entrance posits the challenge that may well have been a battle cry, in the years just prior to the outright rebellion.


I stood in front of the copper engraving depicting the First Continental Congress.


The Declaration of Independence is adjacent to the museum entrance, as well.


Inside, the Museum offers a complete, and well-balanced depiction of the experiences of both sides, in the conflict, and of those trapped in the middle- the merchants and the Quaker pacifists.  Most of the exhibits did not lend themselves to photography, being in dimmer light, with no flash photography allowed.  I did get a few shots, first being the Philadelphia Liberty Tree.


The Patriots were not, at least initially, a unified force.  Disagreements between townsmen of the Northeast and woodsmen from the Appalachians and the Ohio Valley had to be mediated, with George Washington reportedly directly intervening, at least once.  The boy on the lower left recalled this, in his memoirs, later in life.


The more iconic scene, of Washington crossing the Delaware River, is also given prominence.


The plight of African-American slaves, who were not uncommon in the northern colonies, any more than in the South, in the late 18th Century, is symbolized by this portrait and commentary by Mumbet, a Massachusetts woman, who won her freedom in court, after her master assaulted her, for having listened to a reading of the Declaration of Independence.  This case resulted in the prohibition of slavery in Massachusetts.  Mumbet became Elizabeth Freeman, and lived out her days in Stockbridge, a town in the central Berkshire Hills.


The American experiment is far from perfect, but has resulted in the most diverse democracy on Earth, and still has so much to share, with those who want to study our nation’s experience.  We will keep on going, experimenting, refining and retooling, hopefully so that the three generations shown below, and their fellows, will never again know oppression.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

NEXT:  Brandywine, and More of Downtown Philadelphia.



Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LVIX: Return to Down East, Part 4: Rough Crags, Sweet Flowers


July 16, 2017, York, ME- 

To so many, Maine means rocky shorelines, fronted by accessible beaches.  York County, the southernmost part of the state, has ample amounts of both, and is-along with Boothbay Harbor and Mount Desert Island, the most familiar area of Maine, when it comes to beach vacations.

York Harbor is upscale, in terms of accommodations, yet on this Sunday afternoon, plenty of people who one would not readily recognize as well-to-do were enjoying the nooks and crannies, between the  Agamenticus Yacht Club and York Harbor Inn. One of them was yours truly.

I was very much enchanted with Hartley Mason Reserve, and so present you with scenes from the north side of York’s stunning harbour.

First, here is a view from York Harbor Inn, looking towards Cape Neddick.


Thanks to zoom technology, here is a close-up of the promontory which hosts Cape Neddick Inn. One upscale resort can keep a clear eye on another!


Both York Harbor Inn and Hartley Mason Reserve have done a fine job of keeping the area rich in colour and in fragrance.


As the gardens at York harbor Inn are intended for that facility’s guests, I devoted the rest of my harbour time to the Reserve.  There was little information about Hartley W. Mason, other than that he was a wealthy York landowner, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  When he died, in 1925, he left this land, south of York Harbor Inn, to the Town of York.  It became a public park, in 1993.


Many weddings take place here.  That comes as no surprise.


As I was enjoying these tickseed sunflowers, and preparing to take their photo, a little girl wandered into view.  She asked to not be kept in the shot, and I cropped this photo, accordingly.


Here is the York Fishermen’s Memorial, dedicated to the memory of Captain Daniel Donnell, who perished while on the job at sea, at the age of 78.  That’s how Mainers are.


I walked down the well-trod York Cliffs Path, to enjoy the salt air and navigate the slippery rocks.



In contrast to my visit to Lynn Beach, yesterday, the tide here at York was coming in, albeit in a rather mild-mannered fashion.


Returning to the top of the trail, I noted the limestone benches that are interspersed with the dense flora.  This is part of what makes the Maine Coast so magical.


There is so much more to York, and to its namesake county, to say nothing of the Pine Tree State.  In the coming years, I will no doubt be making more forays Down East, among other places.

I will close this part of  the Bruin Adventure, by thanking my York family.






Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six,Part LVII: Return to Down East, Part 2- Stonewall Kitchen and Downtown York


July 16, 2017, York, ME-

My father’s family hails from Maine, and several of us have lived in the Pine Tree State,  for certain periods of our lives.  Presently, one of my Dad’s sisters lives here, in York, two of her children and their families live nearby, and  two other cousins liveculinary center in other parts of the state.  It is Aunt Helen’s birthday, today, so this evening was spent at her home, with her youngest child, and her family, on hand for the celebration.

Beforehand, I stopped at Stonewall Kitchen, a large culinary center that celebrates Maine’s agricultural wealth and offers cooking classes.  Auntie works there, part-time and is a fixture at the place.  I had no trouble finding her, with help from two or three of her co-workers.  Since she was at work, I busied myself with checking out the store and the well-coiffed grounds, before moving on to York’s downtown, Old York historic district and harbor area.

Here are some scenes of Stonewall Kitchen (NOTE:  It is named for the iconic stone walls, that line many fields in New England.







You can see, from these scenes of the very southernmost part of Maine, why the state has exploded in popularity with travelers, tourists and people seeking to relocate.

I spent three more hours in York’s central districts.  The downtown area, like that of so many New England towns, is walkable and most inviting.  Here are some highlights, of the area just to the north of Old York.

I began at the town’s Civil War Monument.


The Old York Garden Club maintains the verdure, in this roundabout and at York public Library, as well as in the historic district itself.



The rushes are a natural part of York’s environment, and have been carefully preserved, just west of York Public Library, as a wetlands initiative.




After appreciating the exterior of York Public Library, and finding the building closed, for the Sabbath, I headed to Old York.



Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LV: Days of Past Perfect


July 13-15, 2017, Saugus-

As I awoke, each morning, bright and early, in my old bedroom, thoughts went back to various points in my life.

I recall the woods, in Lynnhurst, a neighbourhood of Saugus, where we lived before moving to my mother’s present home (62 years, she’s been in the same house).  I think of Russ, a year younger than me, who would walk everywhere with me- when we were three and four, respectively.

When we moved to the present home, I used to go over to one or another of the horse farms in our neighbourhood.  Old Pierre’s farm was north and Mr. Conrad’s, was south.  Both ended up subdivided, and became known as “the Projects”.  These were different from the housing projects in Lynn and Malden.  Saugus’s projects were made up of single family homes.  Red-lining was in full force, back then, and the only African-Americans I met were the cafeteria ladies, at the Junior High and the three or four classmates, in high school, who lived near the quarry, on the south side, near the Malden line.  Times have changed, and this town is  now far more diverse.

It’s also more crowded, with the town office and Board of Selectmen wanting more growth, still.  The roads really can’t handle the traffic, so I look for a hue and cry, for more infrastructure, before a whole lot more housing gets built.  People in power seem to learn more slowly than many- and sometimes, it’s too late.

Some things don’t change, though.  The Beach that runs from Swampscott to Nahanbeat, through a segment of Lynn, has been the primary place for us to cool off, for over a hundred years.  Of course, to park in most sections of the beach, one must pay a $10 day-use fee, far cheaper than in Connecticut, Florida or California.  Still, I found a free spot, so brother and I were able to just get out and walk, of a Saturday morning, from one bath house to another- a distance of 2 miles, round trip.  He’s legally blind, but far from crippled.

The views, even of low tide, bring the comforting memories of when my tide was high, and  young women were  my primary interest.


This intriguing outcropping is Egg Rock, a favourite of  those in sailboats and kayaks.


One of my main purposes, besides spending days with Mom, was to meet my youngest grand-nephew.  The blessed little family, with his Mommy, Daddy and two big sisters, lives in a large and comfortable home, about six miles or so from our family house.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESYou can guess who my nephew’s favourite character was, when he was small.

Saugus, like life, is not the same as it was, when I was the small one.  The house is much the same, though, and the area still has great restaurants, offering everything from signature seafood, through Italian, Chinese, and Mexican, to Brazilian.  We did Italian on Thursday, at a place called Victor’s- delectable food, in  slightly disorganized establishment.  Saturday lunch was at a nearby branch of the Boston-based Legal Seafood- good fare, though at prices reflective of the name and reputation.  The rest of  the time, we did the frugal thing and indulged ourselves with what was in the house.

This time, I feel thoroughly pampered though, and Mom feels blessed to be able to still spoil her oldest.  She did what she had to do, when I was growing up, so now-why not relax?  I would have the chance to pay her back a bit, just before leaving, on Monday.

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LIV: Chased by the Rain, Homeward


July 12, 2017, Saugus, MA- 

It was a lovely farewell to Tuesday, as I gazed out at the sunset, in a wooded preserve outside McKeesport, PA.



I thought, briefly, of camping in those lovely woods, but there was a sign: “Residents only”.


So, last night, after having waited out one intense storm, in the Pittsburgh area, I went eastward, and just shy of Chambersburg, I spent the night at Travel Inn, in the village of St. Thomas.

Today was relatively benign, across Pennsylvania, a bit of New York, over the Hudson-at Newburgh, and through Connecticut, which wasn’t bad, once I got past the Danbury Split (I-84 and U.S. 6).

Foodwise, I was too far east for breakfast at my  area favourite:  Bedford Diner. So, I checked out Andy’s, in Plains, up the road a piece from St. Thomas.  It was a decent substitute.  Around 2, despite my relative lack of activity, lunch called- so I gave a new spot, D’s Diner, in Wilkes-Barre, a try.  This is an excellent place, and a perfectly good excuse to use I-81 to/from New York, instead of cutting across New Jersey, as some have suggested.

Around 6:30, as I passed through East Hartford, the rain started again.  It made driving along the Massachusetts Turnpike rather interesting, but the real deal was MA 128/I-95.  I was surprised to find that my fellow Bay Staters seem to be greatly cowed by the rain, and we all inched along, past Boston, past Burlington and up to Wakefield, where I got off and used genetic memory to drive through a part of town, in which I hadn’t been in decades and make my way to the old hometown.  I will have three full days here, and one in Maine, as my New England “fix” for this year. Mom is ecstatic to see me, which is a good sign.

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part L: A Hoosier Menagerie


July 10, 2017, Goshen, IN-

After leaving, Notre Dame, I realized I needed some sustenance.  Finding a pizzeria, in Elkhart , closed on Monday, I went into Martin’s Supermarket, on the east end of town, and had a small snack.  Good thing, it wasn’t linner, as I was able to contact another friend, Mcbery, and arrange to meet her, hubby and grandchildren, for a tour of their substantial farm, in nearby Goshen. While en route to our meeting point, I met a harbinger of the visit to come:  A Canadian goose crossing zone!




I went into Elkhart’s public library, and no sooner had I sat down at a computer desk, than Miriam and Lee showed up. Off we went, me trailing carefully behind, through Goshen’s narrow lanes.  The menagerie was not long in greeting us, at this estimable farm.  There are the usual animals resident on farms:  Cattle, horses, sheep, goats, donkeys and dogs. Then, there are chickens and Guinea pigs, enjoying one another’s company.


The fauna now took a decidedly more exotic turn, with two types of flightless birds greeting us, with squawks.  The emus, and at least one rhea, manage also to share a large pen.  I was glad to see no cassowary in the mix- those birds are especially vicious.




The most challenging resident, for now, is a three-month-old camel.  Lee seems to be the only person who can keep a lid on her behaviour.  She came up to me, regarded me with interest, then quickly jumped away, on her little excursion of mischief.


Further down the path, a full-grown camel led a parade of animals towards their evening feeding.  I was glad to take part in this, and the camel seen here accepted a fistful, or two, of clover and grass, from me.


After meeting all the animals, it was time for the grandkids to go to their home, down the path, and for the three of us to go for our dinner.  So I close, with a photo of this wonderful farm family.SAM_8505.JPG


Indiana has been, once again, a delight, and in three diverse ways, last night and today.

NEXT UP:  Three posts about Ohio, starting with Van Wert, and the most interesting things that happened there.





Interdependence Day


July 4, 2017, Carson City- 

We went, together, to a robust carnival

with Funnel Cake and kettle corn.

Little girl got her face painted,

lost and found her favourite stuffed bear,

and got to dance to a song by a local cover band.

She is guarded, carefully,

by all, whose hearts she has captured.

Group got a prime seat,

to view the fireworks,

on the high school field.

We, an eclectic family,

hang together.

Teams fought fires,

across northwest Nevada,

around Arizona,

and probably

in California, too.

Tight were those teams,

which made progress on their fights.

Families, nationwide,

had picnics and barbecues.

Some were simple;

some, elaborate.

Not much gets done,


without prior consultation.

A friend in the Midwest

concurred with me,

that our species is evolving,


towards a tighter interdependence.

It is that,

which I celebrated today.


Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part XLIII: Ever in Wonder


July 3, 2017, Carson City-

Along the path to Grama’s, I walked.

That path crossed a road,

and for crossing alone,

I felt a sting on my backside.

There are limits to what a three-year-old

can do, alone.

Along the path to the shopping center, I walked.

That path crossed several roads,

and for being alone,

I was briefly accosted,

by a couple of ruffians,

and almost struck by a wayward car,

that had jumped the curb.

There are challenges,

for a nine-year-old,

when walking, alone.

I sat in the airplane,

gazing out at the clouds,

and their patterns.

I was seeing for the first time, at their level.

The path through the skies,

held promise

and peril.

Many are the possibilities,

for an eighteen-year-old,

striking out, on his own.

Turning around,

in that crowded,

light-filled, noisy room,

I returned the gaze of one,

who had seen something in me,

that others overlooked.

My path was no longer

for me to walk in single file.

Life brings affirmations,

to a thirty-year-old,

who need not be alone.

Holding the little being

to the light,

I spoke words of welcome.

My line now continued,

for at least one more generation.

The Universe sang songs

of certitude,

to a new father,

listening, alone.

Father and son walked

from the car,

towards the hospice door,

and witnessed the wispy spiral

carrying dust and leaves skyward.

I touched her still-warm body,

and kissed her face,

with her eyes still open,

in seeming astonishment.

The path is ever-shaky,

for a sixty-year-old,

once again, alone.

Time and again, since then,

I have followed things through,

to completion,

having been roundly chastised,

by a well-meaning watchman,

for all those things,

I did not finish,

in times gone by.

The paths have been many,

and the rewards even greater:

Filbert Steps, Portlandia,

Space Needle, Stanley Park,

Wrangell, Mendenhall,

Mount Verstovia, Beuk-ai Temple,

Tuileries, Jeanne d’Arc’s Tower,

Mont St. Michel, Carnac,

Daily Gourmand, Old Bruges,

World Cup rally at the Bourse,

McAuliffe Square,

Luxembourg’s National Day,

the Dom of Frankfurt,

the Temple at Langenhain,

Waikiki, Iolani Palace.

The paths have seen me through,

to their ends:

Prescott Circle,

Black Canyon,

Granite Mountain,

and the Memorial to

its 19 Hotshots,

Bright Angel,

Spirit Tower.

The trails continue,

and the wonder,

at the limitless,

open to a sixty-six-year-old,

who  feels far from alone.