Just before I went to the ACS Conference in Baltimore, we found out that Tom’s youngest brother, Bill had died, which was a major shock to all of us. He’d had Polycystic Kidney Disease and been on dialysis for quite a while. He decided to go for a kidney transplant so he could spend more quality time with his grandchildren.
Tom and I decided I should go to the conference anyway and we’d drive to Boston when that was over.
At noon, I was waiting in the lobby of the hotel and Tom called. My ringtone is Scotland the Brave and the woman waiting near me couldn’t miss the bagpipes. She said her dad had been a pipe major. Small world!
Tom rented a big black SUV and, when he drove up to the hotel to pick me up, he was told he had to stand (park) elsewhere with the other Uber drivers. LOL
It took a little while to get used to this big, different car. The first day, I accidentally called OnStar once and had to convince them that there was no emergency – and they called me on my phone. I guess if it was a really emergency, that would be great but it was a little scary. The OnStar button was very easy to hit – it was directly on the rearview mirror so when we adjusted the mirror, OnStar was called.
We stopped at a Bagel place in Baltimore then headed out to Boston while Michael took the train from NYC. We both turned on our iPhone location services so we could all keep track of who was there.
Lots of memories driving into Boston. One I’ll never forget. It’s a Shaw’s grocery store now but it used to be a hotel in Newton. And it’s built straddling the Mass Pike. And, it used to have many more floors.
When Michael was very young we stayed at this hotel, probably Howard Johnsons, over New Year’s weekend. Tom was out visiting a college buddy and, around midnight, someone had some “fun” setting off the fire alarm. Of course, I couldn’t find Michael’s shoes, so I picked him up and carried him down about 1o or so flights of stairs, into the snow.
Ever after, we have had a “Shoes by the Door” rule, especially in hotels!
Construction began in May of 1969 on Newton which included a Motor Lodge, Red Coach Grill and Howard Johnson’s Restaurant. Plans called for a 12-story lodge with 271 rooms on the third through twelfth floors. Moreover the lobby featured 2-stories with a mezzanine floor for conference rooms. ~ from http://www.highwayhost.org/Massachusetts/Boston/Newton/newton1.html
And today, which brought the flood of memories:
Getting close to Boston, we could see the Citgo Sign in Kenmore Square.
I was always very proud of my paternal grandmother.
In the early part of the last century she had been living in Scotland with her husband and they had a young son – my father.
My grandfather was in the Black Watch during World War I, and he was killed in Peshawar, India.
My grandmother left her life and family in Scotland and sailed to the United States with my dad when he was only 5. We have pictures of him disembarking in his little kilt!
I cannot imagine having her courage, leaving home with a small child, and starting life anew in a completely foreign country.
Many years later, when I was a freshman in college, my grandmother died the week before Christmas.
I remember sitting in Waterman’s Funeral Home in Kenmore Square, Boston watching the Citgo sign cycle through its neon pattern. No one but our very small family attended her calling hours.
The funeral was a bit better. A few folks took the time to honor this brave woman.
A week later, we celebrated Christmas “because that’s what Nana would have wanted”. Even then, I thought that she probably would have liked to see more caring people around her, while she was alive.
The current beacon on Beacon Street is the giant Citgo Sign. It has been a Boston landmark since 1940. The sign had originally said Cities Service, and was changed to the new logo in 1965 (with nearly 6,000 neon bulbs added). The sign is visible from great distances on both sides of the Charles River, especially as one approaches the city from the west…
Meanwhile, Michael was already in Boston and he took the T (subway) to our AirBnB in Savin Hill and got Chinese food. He saw us arrive and try to park on the narrow, hilly street outside and came out to help us bring in the luggage.
It was an adorable place and I especially loved this reading chair.
The AirBnb was on Grampian Way and we stayed near the Grampian Mountains in Scotland last year. Small world!
Saturday, June 4
Saturday was a busy day. First up were the calling hours, where we saw friends and relatives we hadn’t seen in years. Michael hadn’t seen some of them since he was a young child. The funeral home parking attendant informed me that our SUV wasn’t black, but some exotic shade like granite. Fine.
We all drove to the Funeral at St. Anthony’s Church in Everett. It was a very touching, emotional service for everyone. When we left, the funeral home disbursed bottle of water to everyone…and left. There was no procession to a cemetery or anywhere.
We got maps to the Casa Lucia restaurant West Revere and a whole line of people followed behind us. Luckily, we didn’t get lost! The hall was upstairs, though, and my knee gave me a bit of trouble 😦
After a very nice Italian buffet, one of Bill’s doctors (who had been sitting at our table) got up front and told us about how Bill had worked with medical students at Harvard for over 20 years, telling the patient side of Polycystic Kidney Disease. He had slides prepared and was very helpful with the hundreds of students he’d reached.
Michael said that he had to get back to New York to finish up some work so we left the restaurant and headed back to the AirBnb for his stuff, then to North Station for Amtrak.
On the way back, we stopped at the beach near South Boston. It was a chilly day but lots of folks were out enjoying the sun. Lots of memories there, too!
Off to the Stop and Shop to get something for dinner and snacks for the road then…nap finally.
Sunday, June 5
When we were leaving, there were lots of police around and they were closing off streets. Turns out it was the Dorchester Day Parade. Who knew there was such a day? Apparently, many people. This was the 112th parade, 53rd Continuous Parade since 1963.
I can’t find a video (yet) for 2016 but this is from last year.
On the way home there was pouring rain in New Jersey so we got home very late.
I woke up at 8 and still have to pack. We’re leaving for the train at 11…
So, naturally, I did some online stuff and at 9:08, I posted “We’re getting on a train at 1:02 (love how precise Amtrak is!) today so I guess I should start packing…”
Tom called for a cab to arrive at 11:15. The cab arrived about 11 and started honking his horn. Mimi started barking. I took the first bag out at 11:15. Good thing – the driver was getting ready to leave. I told him that we’d said 11:15 – he’d missed that part
We got the 3 finally packed bags to the cab and settled in, fairly early to get to Union Station.
About 15 minutes out, I asked Tom if he had his passport. He’d been thinking New York, not the cruise to Bermuda so we went back home and started again.
The rest of the trip was uneventful, if expensive. The driver was fairly talkative and carried on an interesting conversation with Tom about Sikhs and other religions. Also, immigration to the states as opposed to the UK, education here, life in India…
Finally – Union Station. Hooray!
We only had to wait in line for about 10 minutes before our train was called. Since the train originated in DC, we were able to get seats together. Hooray!
View of the next train to our left…
The ride to New York was fine. No derailments, which was really good. The train that derailed in May was Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188. We were on Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 186. I assume that they retired #188. It seemed ridership was down a little but we were on an earlier train than usual so maybe not.
We arrived at Penn Station, NY on time and started getting in the cab line. I hate to say it, but the line was long and we fell for a gypsy cab trip. The driver didn’t take us out of our way – I was following the trip on my Waze. The driver got us to our hotel – and wanted an exorbitant amount of money (plus tip), cash only. Tom convinced him to take a lot less (and NO tip!) and we checked into the hotel.
Four Points by Sheraton SoHo is apparently built on a small lot – it’s very compact, but tall. Our room is on the small side and I think that there are only a few rooms on each floor.
We’re on the second floor and the view is a next door roof. I’ll try to get a picture of that tomorrow.
Michael arrived – hooray! After some discussion – nap or food – we decided to go out to eat. We walked through Father Fagan Park. Mimi wouldn’t consider this to be a “real park” but then, she’s not a city dog.
The first restaurant we tried could have taken us without a reservation but we’d have to eat quickly so we could be out when those who had reservations arrived. We left, allowing plenty of time for those who planned ahead.
Walking along, we read other menus until we arrived at Spice. Yummy Thai food! I had Pad Thai with tofu and Tom had the same but with chicken. Michael had rice with mixed seafood – some of the mix was squid. EEEWW.
As an afterthought, I asked for Thai tea. I was surprised, and very happy, when it came as a bubble tea. As far as I know, there are only 2 places near me with bubble tea so this was a real treat.
What You Need
1/4 cup dried boba tapioca pearls per serving (NOT quick-cooking boba)
1-2 tea bags per serving, any kind
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
Milk, almond milk, or sweetened condensed milk
Fruit juice or nectar (optional)
Bowl for holding the cooked boba
1. Cook the Boba: Measure 2 cups of water for every 1/4 cup of boba being prepared into a saucepan. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the boba and stir gently until they begin floating to the top of the water.
Turn the heat to medium and cook the boba for 12-15 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, cover, and let the pearls sit for another 12-15 minutes.
2. Prepare Sugar Syrup for the Boba: While the boba are cooking, make a simple sugar syrup to sweeten and preserve them once cooked. Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil over high heat on the stove or in the microwave. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup sugar until dissolved. Set aside to cool.
3. Prepare a Strong Cup of Tea: This can be done either while the boba are cooking or ahead of time. Allow enough time for the tea to cool completely before making the boba. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add the tea bag. Use one tea bag for regular-strength bubble tea or two for a stronger tea flavor. Remove the tea bag after 15 minutes and chill the tea.
4. Finish the Boba: Once the boba have finished cooking, drain them from the water and transfer them to a small bowl or container. Pour the sugar syrup over top until the boba are submerged. Let sit until the boba are room temperature, at least 15 minutes, or refrigerate until ready to use. Boba are best if used within a few hours of cooking, but will keep refrigerated for several days. The boba will gradually harden and become crunchy as they sit.
5. Make the Bubble Tea: Pour the prepared tea into a tall glass and add the boba. Add milk for a creamy bubble tea, juice for a fruity tea, or leave plain and add a little extra water. Sweeten to taste with the simple syrup from soaking the boba.
• Very Chilled Bubble Tea: For an extra-chilly bubble tea, combine all the tea, milk, and/or juice, but not the boba in a cocktail shaker. Add a few ice cubes and shake for 20 seconds. Pour into a tall glass and add the boba.
• Shortcut Boba: If you want immediate gratification, just cook your boba until they are tender, 5 to 10 minutes, and use them as soon as they’re cool. This kind of boba don’t [sic] keep for very long (turning rock hard in a few hours), but are delicious if eaten right away.
• Saving Leftover Boba and Making Boba for Later: Boba are best if used within a few hours of cooking, but will keep refrigerated with simple syrup for several days. The boba will gradually harden and become crunchy as they sit.
During dinner, we discussed where to go next but that was fairly indecisive. We thought about going to Tribeca park where one of the Sing For Hope pianos is located. That was going to be about a mile walk and it was about 7:00 so we went back to the hotel to use the free WiFi and find another activity. We ended up doing nothing except coming up with ideas for tomorrow.
So far: breakfast, Michael has a training session at 12:30, Barge Music, Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center in New York to hear an all-Mozart program, possibly a talk before that. Somewhere in there we need to practice some…
We’ll see how that all works out! Meanwhile, It’s 5:30 and I’m going back to sleep!