Snaps from A Road Trip: Northampton

    I get to know Northampton, a small city in western Massachusetts, as my daughter started her college last year. She goes to University of Massachusetts (UMass) in Amherst, a neighboring city of Northampton and we always pass by Northampton before reaching Amherst by car or train. My first encounter of Noho, the city’s nickname, was an eye-opening. The city is so charming with rows of 19th century buildings along its main streets. The downtown area especially, oozes that charm. For someone who has never come here, let alone heard about Northampton, I was in awe and felt dumbfounded. Every time we come to Amherst either dropping-off or picking-up our daughter from her dorm , or me having a solo trip to attend UMass Symphony Orchestra concerts (our daughter plays violin with them), I’d make sure I’ll visit Northampton and strolling down its beautiful downtown area. My love for old buildings, history and architecture find its way in this city. Thomas Cole, my favorite landscape painter who established the Hudson River School, painted the Oxbow in 1836 depicting a romantic panorama of Connecticut River Valley after the thunderstorm as viewed from Mount Holyoke in Northampton. It showed how he loved Northampton and its environment. 

    The city was called “Norwottuck” or “Nonotuck” by the native inhabitants of the area which was the Pocumtuc. The name means “the midst of the river” and Northampton is situated by Connecticut River. Its splendid surrounding has attracted many, including the “Swedish Nightingale” – Jenny Lind, a famous opera singer, who thought Northampton as “Paradise of America”. That’s how this city’s other nickname is the Paradise City. Noho is known as the city with cultural, arts, educational and historical background where Christian revival, slave abolitionist, artists and people with eclectic lifestyle thrive. Clarke School for Hearings and Speech was established here in 1867 which was United State’s first oral school for the deaf. Alexander Graham Bell was one of their school leaders. Other educational establishment founded in Northampton is Smith College, a private liberal art college for women, founded in 1871. Their famous alumni are Julia Child, Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan – both were US first ladies, and also American poet and writer, Sylvia Plath.  

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The Year of the Women

On November 6th recently, after the midterm election, over 100 women will serve in Congress including 31 new members who come from more diverse background. Among them are two Muslim women, two Native American women and two first African-American women elected to Congress from Massachusetts and Connecticut. The election became a history for my eldest daughter who voted for the first time. At first, she was worried because on the day of election she would be away at her college in Massachusetts. So I helped her getting to know about the absentee ballots. People who can’t come to vote at their local voting stations can send their vote beforehand by mail. My daughter did that. She sent me text telling me that she dropped off the ballot in the mail box in her campus a couple of days before November 6th. I was so proud.

The recent midterm election became more significant because of the situation that we’ve been having for the past two years. I’m not going to indulge in mentioning name or names or whatever that has happened. But making a note about the turn out of the recent election which showed the strength of the women’s voice. It is one of the milestones for American women in the history of fighting for the rights to vote. I somehow connected the midterm election to my experience visiting Seneca Falls where the first Women’s Rights Convention was held. During our trip to Upstate New York a while back, we passed by the town of Seneca Falls. We came there actually to see the Eerie Canal, but we found out that Seneca Falls has important part in the fight for women’s rights. The first Women’s Right Convention was held there between July 19th – 20th, 1848, at Wesleyan Chapel.

When we arrived at the sight where the first convention happened, unfortunately the place was closed. From outside, though, I could see the inside of Wesleyan Chapel where Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Mary M’Clintock, Martha Coffin Wright and Jane Hunt called on women to fight for their Constitutional right to equality as U. S. citizen. They came up with 11 resolutions that demanded women be placed as equal as men. The 9th resolution was viewed as the most controversial, which said,

“to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise or the right to vote”.

However, the women’s fight to get their rights be acknowledged was a long one, especially the fight for the right to vote. From that, women’s suffrage was born. At last, on August 26th, 1920, the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was certified. Then, on November 2nd, 1920, as much as 8 millions women across the country gave their votes in election for the first time. Now, there are more women being elected to sit in the legislative sector in U.S. and that is one achievement the women of Seneca Falls Convention would be so proud of.

The 19th Amendment of U.S. Constitution:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex”.

(For my daughters Emily & Audrey).

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The Boy on the Q Bus

Sometimes life can be cruel in a funny way. When you thought your past is only in the past, turns out it’s following you to the present day. It was like any other Wednesday, I went to downtown to do one of the routines and I needed to catch a bus. I love taking Q bus, because its route takes me to the beautiful part of the city where old houses line up nicely. I would be imagining living in one of those Victorian houses. After getting down from the B bus that took me from home to downtown, I walked towards the main bus stop next to the Green. Lo and behold, I saw someone whose face similar to a boy I knew long ago. My heart skipped a beat! That face was the face I once missed so much. I walked towards where the boy stood with a group of his friends. He was a high school student, maybe 17, just like the boy I knew. Suddenly I felt the rush of nostalgia filled my mind. This boy, who only stood some feet away from me looked similar to him, the 17-year-old boy so dear to me. He was tall, maybe a bit taller than the boy I knew. He’s not skinny, in fact the opposite, quiet hefty but not chubby. His hair was brown and he had plenty, like the boy I knew who one day let me stroke his hair. 

The bus came and I approached it still paying attention to this stranger who resemblance the boy I knew. It turned out that boy also rode the same bus. He sat not far from me. I could hear him having a lively chat with his friends about movies, comics etc. I reminisced to the days I had with the 17- year-old boy I once loved. I remember his voice and the way he laughed. How he loved messing up my hair and because he’s way taller than me, he did that many times . One day he pinched my nose and he said I had a funny looking nose. Maybe he meant I have cute nose. I would try to get him after he messed up my hair and tried catching him when he ran away. On the bus, I stared at the boy. When he suddenly turned around and I could see his eyes, nose, lips, mouth even his eye brows and I could’ve sworn he could be that 17-year-old boy’s son. They looked so much alike! This boys’s eye brows are thick and with distinct shape just like the ones I loved to look at on the face I so dearly knew well. 

The Q bus moved along the streets going to the park where in the Fall looks spectacular and  where the beautiful old houses are. I still had my eyes on the boy on the bus. I listened to his joke which was not funny. I listened to his story about his grandpa. My mind was still reminiscing to the other boy who took my heart away. Then after passing the park, the stop bell was heard. The boy got up, said ‘goodbyes’ to his friends and got off the bus. I remember when the other boy and I rode the same bus home from our high school. My heart fluttered. Though our journey was a short one and he would get off first, every time he said ‘later’ and waved when he got down the bus, I would memorize everything. The way he walked with a bit of spring on his steps. The way he put his hands inside his pockets and carried his backpack. Gosh, I missed him!! I could feel my eyes watered. I would’ve never thought that I would meet his doppleganger here, in a far away land thousands of miles from him. 

Another Wednesday came and I hoped to see that boy again. In the midst of people waiting for buses, I saw him. He wore a blue jacket and baggy jeans. We got on the same bus and he sat at the back. I was listening to my playlist and there were songs that had memories from my high school years. I remember a 17-year-old boy who loves blue, whom I gave a blue colored t-shirt with an image in embroidery one day. I especially spent my allowance for his birthday gift. The song that was playing on my phone was ours. All of sudden, I felt sad. It’s bittersweet. There he was, a boy who looked like him, sat not far from me and my mind would reminisce. Life has a funny way indeed to play trick with my heart. On Wednesdays, I kept on wishing to see that boy who looked like the boy I knew, once more. That 17-year-old stranger had given me the stories on board of the bus. The memories I kept about a boy I once loved came up every time I saw that boy. I wanted so much to stare and look at him closely. Maybe I could find something that I’ve been missing, the love of my youth.

(For November 13th)

Browsing Along Grand Central Market

I live about 2 hours away from New York City. To reach this metropolis, I can take the train and that’s the transportation that I mostly take every time I visit New York. Most trains going to or passing New York will arrive at Grand Central Terminal. This magnificent train station was once called Grand Central Depot which opened in October 1871 and went through several changes as New York needed bigger place to accommodate all the trains that were coming and going, also the people. The present Grand Central opened on February 2nd 1913. For a building with more than 100 years old history, Grand Central still looks astonishing. It is one among so many icons that make New York City a marvel city worth to visit. When visiting Grand Central, try to spend some time at Grand Central Market. The market, like any market, tries to offer the New Yorkers and tourists with everyday needs, such as food be it cooked or raw, flowers, baked goods, fruits, vegetables, kitchenware and housewares, etc. One thing that makes Grand Central Market one of a kind is it is a fancy-kind, rather posh sort of market. But you don’t want to miss the experience to browse along the stalls at this small market. You’ll be amazed by the freshness of the seafood, the colors and smells of the world’s spices and also the aroma from many variety of teas; not to mention the artisan chocolates and the baked goods that make you drool. The stalls are lining up neatly and classy that match with the New York middle and upper class life style. Even when you only browsing, there is something, if not a lot of things, to see at the market. Maybe you might want to try the baked goods or bring back home a box of chocolate. Some things are quite affordable and don’t forget to get a souvenir. Come and see Grand Central Market when you decide to visit Grand Central Terminal, especially when you can only visit New York once in a lifetime.

#newyorkjournal

#onedayinnewyork

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Snaps from A Road Trip: Eastham

Having a road trip means stopping occasionally when something interesting is seen. That also means turning around when the thing we saw was being passed quickly. During our trip to Cape Cod in Massachusetts, we passed by a windmill on U.S. Route 6 and I just had to see it closely. So we turned around and I wandered for a while. As I suspected, the windmill is a very old. In fact, it’s actually the oldest windmill on Cape Cod. It was built by Thomas Paine in 1680 in Plymouth. Plymouth was the first European Colony in America. The windmill then moved to Truro in 1770 by ferrying it on a log raft across Massachusetts Bay. It must have been quiet a task! The windmill then moved again on an ox cart to Eastham in 1793 and 1808 was set up on its recent location on the Village Green. The windmill worked to grind the grains into flour. The surrounding scene around the Green was typical of a New England small town, picturesque and calm. It was fortunate that the weather was amazing when we passed Eastham and I got to take several of the most wonderful images of the windmill. I wished we could stop by longer and had some picnic on the Green. It must’ve been wonderful!

 

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Snaps from A Road Trip: Sandwich & Plymouth

The towns of Sandwich and Plymouth in Massachusetts are among the oldest towns in United States. They situated in the area in Massachusetts which is a cape in the southeastern part of the state called Cape Cod. Cape Cod is famous for its beaches and quaint New England style towns. Town of Sandwich is the oldest town on Cape Cod being settled in 1637. While Plymouth was the first permanent settlement of the European who came to the New World (America) and became the Plymouth Colony. I visited these two towns in summer and although I didn’t explore much, I managed to visit several places and snapped some wonderful and interesting scenes on my cellphone. The SNAPS FROM A ROAD TRIP is the newest theme I want to develop on this blog that consists the pictures I took with my cellphone camera. Please, enjoy!

 

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Holiday Season, NYC Style

By the time Thanksgiving is over, New York City will be ready to display the festivity of holiday season. There will be more lights, wonderful window displays and amazing store decorations; seasonal events such as ice skating rinks at Bryant Park, Central Park or Rockefeller Center and my favorite is the winter market at Bryant Park. Of all the many wonderful things to see in New York City during holiday season, the window displays from the city’s top stores are the ones that are most breathtaking. Each store competes to show the astonishing display of themes on its windows. People will be wowed by the ranging of themes from Saks Fifth Avenue, Barney’s, Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman’s and many other upscale stores. They can be whimsical, full of fantasy, imaginative, depiction of stories that are popular like A Christmas Carol, Mother Goose, the Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and so on. Those themes are truly work of art!

When you decide to visit New York City during holiday season, be prepared to encounter a lot of people, more than usual. There will be crowd almost everywhere! Wear sensible and comfortable shoes, bundle-up warmly, cause you’re going to take lots and lots of walk. Your main attractions will be mostly along Fifth Avenue. Saks Fifth Avenue has musical light show that covers its entire building. It is simply amazing! Young and old would gather across the store and waiting for the show to begin every 10 minutes. Across Saks Fifth Avenue is another attraction that has been showed on popular movies about Christmas, such as Home Alone: Lost in New York, which is the Rockefeller Christmas tree. The tree, the ice skating rink and the displays around the Rockefeller Center are another wonderful sights to see. You might also browsing the winter market at Bryant Park that has many local artists showing and selling their artworks. Not too mention, another ice skating rink, which is heated, and I think is more romantic than the one at Rockefeller. People can buy some hot cocoa or coffee and have varieties of munchies, sit on one of the park metal chairs and see people ice skating or just relaxing with loved ones. The market is also the best place to get presents for any occasion or souvenirs, if you’re a tourist. So, let me show you how New York City celebrates holiday season. You’ll be amazed for sure!

 

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