A Highly Successful Vacation Redo!

My girls standing at Pickering Wharf in Salem, MA

I can honestly say that this most recent vacation with my girls was the best one we’ve had so far. We crammed a lot into it while still finding time to relax and best of all, we had fun! Having spent last year’s vacation in hospitals, Jaycie was eager to do things on this vacation and every day she enthusiastically asked, “What are we doing tomorrow?” She wanted every day filled with something and for a girl who admits that she’s lazy and is proud of that fact, it was an amazing thing to experience!

While the drive out was filled with the usual traffic on 495 the last hour or so, we all had a good time. The girls watched movies on my laptop and I listened to my music up front. We stopped plenty of times for leg stretches and snacks and I didn’t worry about being stuck in traffic because we were in no rush.

We arrived at the Best Western Merrimack Valley in Haverhill, MA a little after 5 p.m. and I was immediately impressed by the cleanliness of the facility and the friendliness of the staff. Our room was on the third floor and I was pleasantly surprised to find that we had our own private balcony with a sliding glass door leading out to it. Being on the top floor, the room had high, upward slanting ceilings and was very spacious. We had two queen beds and they were very comfortable with clean bedding. The room felt very homey and welcoming and I knew we’d be happy there.

Shortly after unpacking the car, the girls and I headed down the road to the 99 Restaurant. We don’t have 99’s where we live in New York, so it’s a treat going to one in New England. Although the restaurant was a little busy for a Wednesday night, we had a great waitress and got our food relatively quickly. The food was delicious and the girls devoured their food, while I took half of mine back to the hotel to eat later. It was a great first evening on our vacation.

The next morning, we headed into Newburyport for the Newburyport Whale Watch. This was what Jaycie had been most excited about and her excitement continued for the entire cruise. She loves boats and being out on the ocean and she was smiling, animated, and happy the entire time. We saw a large pod of dolphins, a sunfish called a mola mola, a couple minke whales, and a humpback whale. At one point, Jaycie was walking back and forth through the lower level of the boat checking one side and the other for whales as the narrator of the tour suggested. She’s spent most of the summer relaxing on the couch or outside swinging so watching her be so animated was almost like seeing a different child. Jordan enjoyed herself too, but was a bit more reserved in a typical 15-year-old fashion. She’d go up on the upper levels of the boat or sit inside reading the book she brought along.

We ate lunch on the boat and weren’t quite ready for dinner yet so we headed into Amesbury, MA to Friendly’s for some ice cream. Ice cream after several hours in the sun on a boat was just what we needed and we decided to just have dinner back at the hotel after picking up some groceries.

On Friday, we headed into Salem, MA because the girls had never been there. I’ve visited twice before, once in October and once in the summer, so I knew my way around pretty well. We walked the streets a bit and I took the girls to the Salem Witch Memorial and around the graveyard a little. We then ate lunch in Red’s Sandwich Shop, which was delicious! Jordan and I brought over half of our lunches with us and they were worth carrying around Salem for a bit before we returned to the car. We visited the Peabody Essex Museum just for the gift shop and to enjoy the air conditioning and then decided it was time to head back to the hotel. We ended up back at the hotel most evenings by 5 p.m. and that was fine with all of us because we were tired.

Saturday, we headed into Boston via the Oak Grove T Station and we got in shortly before lunch. Comic Con Boston was going on so we headed toward the Convention Center just to people watch. On the way there we stopped at South Station for lunch in the food court area because we could all get what we wanted and it was nice and air conditioned! We eventually reached where Comic Con was happening and sat down outside to watch people coming and going. It was fun seeing all the people dressed in costumes and trying to guess what some of them were. Jaycie didn’t quite understand why Jordan and I were so excited seeing people in costumes, but she was a trooper and made the walk for us.

After that we headed back to South Station and then took the necessary subway lines back to where we’d parked the car at Oak Grove. It was a good day to be in Boston because there had been some clouds and a nice breeze, but we were all hot and tired nonetheless. I showered once we got back to the hotel to wash the T humidity off of me and we just relaxed for the evening again.

I’d determined Sunday would be our day of not doing anything and that’s indeed what it turned out to be. We hung out at the hotel for most of the day then drove to a nearby town in New Hampshire to get Popeye’s and Long John Silver’s for dinner. We don’t have either of those chains near us so again, it was a treat for us. I got my beloved hush puppies from Long John’s while the girls got chicken and biscuits and we all ate happily back at the hotel.

Monday, we headed up to Portsmouth, NH for a bit and then drove the short ways up to Nubble Lighthouse in Maine. There’s not enough parking at the lighthouse for the endless stream of cars coming in so we ended up parking at the ice cream place up the road and walking down to the lighthouse area for a bit. We then walked back up the hill and enjoyed ridiculous large “kiddie” size ice cream dishes as a reward for our exercise.

The highlight of Tuesday was heading to Hampton Beach State Park in New Hampshire in the afternoon. The girls had a ball walking and splashing in the waves and as they both said that was their favorite part of the trip, we’ll be spending more time at the beach next summer. Actually, when I asked Jaycie what her favorite part of the day was at the end of the day she’d always say getting whatever toy I happened to buy her. When I asked Jordan what her favorite part was, she’d say not being in a hospital. So having both girls agree that the beach was the best part was quite impressive.

Although the hotel was nice, clean, conveniently located, and had a lovely indoor pool that Jaycie enjoyed, we all three agreed that next year we’re going to rent a cottage on Plum Island, MA again. It’s just nice staying in a home where I can make dinner and we can just hang out and enjoy our surroundings. I’m going to try and reserve the cottage I stayed in our first week long vacation in New England because it was on Plum Island sound and I loved watching the various birds fly overhead every morning and see the tide come in and out from the sound. As I have a whole year to save up for next summer’s trip, I know I won’t have to type my fingers off the last couple months before the trip and I won’t feel quite so pressured. Next summer sounds like a long way away considering this summer isn’t over yet, but I know it will be here sooner than we expect!

The Great New England Vacation Redo!

Humpback whale tail. Image by Newburyport Whale Watch

Humpback whale tail. Image by Newburyport Whale Watch

Every summer I take my girls on vacation to New England. This year marks our fifth year of this annual tradition. Although we’ve visited the areas of eastern Massachusetts and southeastern New Hampshire many times, there’s always something new to see and we always have interesting adventures.

Unfortunately, last year’s “adventures” were a bit more than I bargained for as Jaycie had a bout of appendicitis that had her spending almost the entire New England vacation in the hospital. She received the best care in the two hospitals she stayed in and she doesn’t remember much of the ordeal thankfully, but her older sister and I still remember. Jaycie had her appendix removed last fall and has been healthy and happy ever since, much to my relief and delight. She’s feeling perfectly fine this year as we prepare for our trip and we’re all looking forward to making new memories. 

There’s one particular memory I wish to erase from last year.  During the ultrasound in the hospital that was very painful and uncomfortable for Jaycie, she told the nurse that we were going on a whale watch later in the week. The nurse and I both knew that wasn’t going to happen and that moment broke a little crack in my heart because she wouldn’t be able to do the thing she so wanted to do. None of us really got to do what we’d wanted or planned and it was difficult for us, but I know that all that really matters is that Jaycie was properly cared for and eventually recovered.

To help undo the unpleasantness of last year’s trip, one of the first things we’re doing is going on the Newburyport Whale Watch. Jaycie loves boats so she’ll be happy even if we don’t see any whales. Being out on that boat will replace a bad memory with a good one and I’m sure everything that happens on vacation will continue to erase last year’s memories.

We’re staying in an area of Massachusetts I’ve never stayed in before but it’s close to a T station and a short drive to the coastal areas I’m familiar with. Although we were in Boston last year while Jaycie was in Boston Children’s Hospital, our visit there obviously wasn’t the fun time we’d hoped for. So our return to Boston this year will be infinitely better. We’ll make it into Salem, MA this time and wherever else we feel like venturing. 

It means so much to me as a mother to spend a full week with my daughters and I know this year’s trip will be another amazing vacation for the triumphant trio!

Another New England Adventure Awaits!


Wampanoag post at Plymoth Museum

Informational sign at Plymouth Museum

As I don’t have my daughters for the upcoming school break, I’ll be heading to New England Wednesday morning on another adventure! It will most likely by my last trip out that way until next year so I plan on make the most of it.

My plans include attending The National Day of Mourning in Plymouth, MA, heading into Boston for a day and attending the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Annual Inter-Tribal Potluck Social. While I’ve visited Boston several times, this will be my first time attending the two Native American events. I’m eager to partake in these new experiences and further expand my knowledge and understanding. I urge anyone in the area to attend one or both events as everyone is welcome.

It was only a few months ago that I uncovered my own Native American ancestry and I’m constantly working on learning more about the culture that was kept secret in my family for generations. To that end and to acknowledge what this time of year means to Native Americans, I started reading The Mourning Road to Thanksgiving by Larry Spotted Crow Mann last week. I saw Larry Spotted Crow Mann at the very first pow wow I attended at UMAss Amherst in Spring of 2014 and I found him to be a very engaging storyteller. Although I’m only a few chapters into the book, I’m finding it very educational and interesting and I feel it’s something that everyone should read to help learn the truth about this time of year.

I am a solo traveler and to some, the idea of being alone in a hotel room during this time of year might not appeal, but as my days will be quite full of new and exciting experiences, I’m sure I’ll happily collapse into bed every night I’m there. I’ve been making these road trips out to New England since November of 2011 and while I didn’t know during the first trip that it would become a regular thing for me, I’m very happy that it has and I look forward to every single one with the same excitement of my very first trip!



When the time is right

snhu acceptance

This past trip to New England with my daughters was the best trip I’ve had so far! Being with my girls for an entire week was great and they got to meet most of my friends in Amesbury, MA. There was even a miracle that proved to me that anything really is possible when you’re determined enough! It also showed me that when the time is right, everything has a way of falling into place in ways even better than you imagined.

I’m always sad to leave New England at the end of my trips but each visit convinces me even more that my future lies out that way. To further my pursuit of that future, I’ve decided to pursue an online degree from Southern New Hampshire University. My current endeavor is a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and English but that might change as I figure out the best degree to accomplish my goals.

I had the opportunity to go to college right out of high school but I chose not to because I was tired of school and wanted to continue earning money in the workforce. Almost twenty years later, I’m a single mom who is making a living as a freelance ghost writer and I’m proud of my accomplishments. I know I can go so much further though and I feel that college will open up new avenues for my development as a writer and a person.

I chose SNHU because I already love New England, want to make my life out there and because they keep showing their commercials on my TV stations in NY. Everyone I’ve dealt with at SNHU has been very helpful and supportive and I’m excited about this new chapter in my life! I’ve enrolled in two courses for the first semester and while I’m certain adding that into my already busy life will be a challenge, I’m certain that I can do it. I’ve already done so many things I never imagined I could, what’s one more?

You can’t keep a good girl/resourceful woman down!

Driving toward the Mohawk Valley area of NY.

Driving toward the Mohawk Valley area of NY.

This bridge over the Hudson River is one of my favorites!

This bridge over the Hudson River is one of my favorites!

When I left Upstate NY this morning it was a pleasant 60 degrees with low humidity, blue skies and tons of happy, puffy clouds. That was an extremely welcome change from most of my previous trips where it was pouring, snowing, sleeting, ice-storming or marking the return of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Okay, that last one was a slight exaggeration…

Shortly after I crossed the border into Massachusetts, the clouds got thicker and less happy looking. The skies eventually turned quite dark and ominous but luckily I only drove through a few sprinkles. I could tell by the state of the roads though that it had rained quite a bit during the day.

I only got caught in a couple of bouts of stop-and-go traffic amid construction and that was another positive improvement! Usually I encounter bumper-to-bumper situations through every major city/town in Massachusetts.

Notice how much distance I keep between myself and cars ahead of me. I used to work for an insurance company, nuff said!

Notice how much distance I keep between myself and cars ahead of me? I used to work for an insurance company, nuff said!

I arrived at the hotel in Seabrook, NH at around 4:15, checked in and unloaded my car. Once everything was settled in my room, I hopped in the shower to wash away the day of driving. The cooler, drier weather hadn’t reached New England yet despite my best  efforts to drag it along behind my car. It was still rather gloomy when I left the hotel to head into Amesbury, MA but I was certain it would clear up eventually.

My usual route into Amesbury was blocked by a police car and I didn’t realize why until later when I left the town. There were some lines dangling so low that it was impossible for cars going into town to sneak under them. I don’t know what kind of lines they were but they must have diverted traffic because of them.

Well at least there's caution tape on the lines...

Well at least there’s caution tape on the lines…


My trip into Amesbury proved less eventful than usual because shops were closed and I was bit bummed. I’d really wanted to see some familiar faces today. But I’m not one to stay down for long so being the resourceful woman that I am, I decided change my plans and head elsewhere for dinner.

I’ve been craving clam strips and fries ever since I failed to get them during my last trip so I typed “seafood restaurant” into Foursquare and one of the places that came up was Lena’s Seafood in Salisbury, MA. They listed exactly what I wanted on their menu and were only a few minutes from Amesbury so off I went. I ordered my food and didn’t have to wait long before they called my number and presented a plate covered with a mountain of clam strips, fries, onion rings, coleslaw and a roll. I definitely got my money’s worth!

It'd take 4 of me to eat all this!

It’d take 4 of me to eat all this!

The food was delicious but way more than I could eat. I stayed at Lena’s Seafood until the latest bout of rain stopped and then headed back to Seabrook for a little shopping. I’d forgotten to pack an item of clothing I needed so I headed to Kohl’s where I originally bought it. When I parked my car I noticed a couple shopping cars scattered about blocking parking spaces. I grabbed two carts and then saw a third and managed to steer them awkwardly back into the store. Nobody likes having a stray shopping cart run into their car and I figured they’d been rained on enough for one day. Happy with myself for doing such a good deed, I breathed in the air conditioning and looked around to discover the store was laid out exactly like the one back where I live in NY! They had what I needed and a few other shirts that jumped off the rack and into my arms 😉

After Kohl’s I went to Market Basket for my usual milk and other small essentials before heading back to my hotel. By then the skies were clearing up nicely and the red tones of the sunset promised warmth and sunshine tomorrow.

Looking a bit brighter when I parked at Market Basket.

Looking a bit brighter when I parked at Market Basket.

Glimpse of the sunset from my hotel.

Glimpse of the sunset from my hotel.

While the evening didn’t quite go as I’d hoped, I’ve learned to adjust quickly and think on my feet. I am living proof that you can’t keep a good girl/resourceful woman down!

My Clark Kent persona. Glasses and fuzzy hair.

My Clark Kent persona. Glasses and fuzzy hair.

Expanding explorations

A rough idea of where I'll be going this trip!

A rough idea of where I’ll be going this trip!

Tomorrow I’m heading out to New England for one of my monthly adventures. I make it a goal every trip to explore a new area of New Hampshire or Massachusetts and so far, so good! My last trip I explored new areas of Boston, scouting out places to take my daughters in August and finding the best route to get there. Despite getting lost once or twice in Boston, I found exactly what I was looking for and know the girls and I will have a ball in Beantown.

For my trip starting tomorrow, my newest exploration destinations are Plymouth and Cape Cod, MA. I’ll be staying in Seabrook, NH as usual but on Friday I plan on leaving rather early to head south to the Cape Cod Bay area. I’ve encountered the traffic to the Cape on more than one occasion and I know that the earlier I go, the better. I plan on visiting Plimoth Plantation and the Wampanoag Homesite and then wander wherever the spirit takes me.

Before heading to Cape Cod Bay Friday, I’ll spend Thursday in my favorite city/town of Amesbury and the surrounding areas. I plan on visiting my favorite businesses in Amesbury and investigating a couple of the new ones for future write-ups. There are also trails I’ve yet to walk and sites I’ve yet to see! I’ll scope out where the girls and I will be staying on Plum Island in August and visit the beach at least once.

On Saturday and Sunday I’ll be attending the MCNAA Annual Summer Moon Pow-wow in Danvers, MA and have volunteered to help out there on Saturday. It’s supposed to be a beautiful weekend and I’m looking forward to experiencing more of the Native American culture.

I cram a lot into my days in New England and I love having the freedom to go wherever I wish. This summer is going far too fast but I’m going to fill it up with endlessly expanding explorations as I pursue the path leading to my future in the area I love most!

An anniversary of sorts

Amesbury mural by Jon P. Mooers

Amesbury mural by Jon P. Mooers

This coming Wednesday, June 25th, I’m heading to New England for one of my monthly/bi-monthly visits/adventures. I’m celebrating an anniversary of sorts because around this same week last year was the first time I made an official and well-planned trip to Amesbury, Massachusetts. I visited during Amesbury Days last year and this year’s visit is timed perfectly with that same event!

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since I started visiting the area that I immediately fell in love with during my first official trip to North Shore. After that first trip, I wanted to visit as often as possible and quitting my office job to do freelance writing full-time gave me the ability to do just that!

I’ve visited the area through all seasons now. Walking the sandy beaches in summer was invigorating, seeing the  autumn colors around Lake Gardner was breathtaking and I even found the area beautiful and welcoming when it was buried in three feet of snow. I caught a glimpse of spring’s beginnings during my April visit and by the time the girls and I visited for Memorial Day, the splendor of spring was in full bloom! I don’t live there (yet) but I know New England’s charm remains through all types of weather.


Plum Island beach

Plum Island Beach, MA

The beautiful color on Lake Gardner in Amesbury, Massachusetts

The beautiful color on Lake Gardner in Amesbury, Massachusetts

The deep snow in Amesbury, MA after a February 2014 storm

The deep snow in Amesbury, MA after a February 2014 storm

Spring flower boxes in downtown Amesbury, MA

Spring flower boxes in downtown Amesbury, MA

Girls playing on the beach at Salisbury Beach State Reservation

Girls playing on the beach at Salisbury Beach State Reservation, MA

My plans for my upcoming trip are flexible as always and I tend to go wherever the fancy strikes me. There’s the 16th Annual Amesbury Chamber of Commerce Block Party on Thursday, 6/26/14 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. that I’ll definitely be attending and a variety of other happenings around town I might investigate. I also think I’ll venture into Boston this trip since I haven’t been into the city solo since November of 2011. That first trip to Boston inspired me to write and publish my first e-book New England Adventures: Boston, MA and was the beginning of what has become an amazing and ongoing chapter in my life. I can only imagine what another solo journey will bring!

The conviluted walking route I took during my first visit to Boston

The convoluted walking route I took during my first visit to Boston, MA

I’m planning another visit in July and then August brings a huge first: the first time I’ve had the girls for a whole week of vacation since the divorce. I’m indescribably excited about spending that much time together! We’ve rented a cottage on Plum Island that comes complete with bikes and kayaks and we can even bring Jazz! The drive there is going to be unforgettable I’m certain as I fit an entire circus in my little Matrix but I know we’ll all have fun!

Before the fun for my upcoming trip can begin though I have to finish my freelance work so off I go! Is it Wednesday yet??

A Trio of Beautiful Weekend Warriors


Jaycie and Jordan enjoying Salisbury Beach, MA

My two daughters and I had an amazing weekend of adventures! It was wonderful attending the Pow-Wow, showing them the parts of New England I love the most and discovering new areas together. Seeing things through their eyes and hearing what they have to say about where we went opens my eyes even wider to the wonder of it all.


Driving back up through Boston after the Pow-Wow

This weekend’s trip was beneficial for all three of us. The girls expanded their vision further outside of NY and I was reminded of how blessed I am to have them. We are a powerful trio of beautiful weekend warriors and together we can accomplish anything! While I always enjoy my solo adventures, being a mom is central to who I am.


My 11 year-old daughter and I by Powwow River Falls in Amesbury, MA


My 7 year-old and I

The love my daughters and I share is a force to be reckoned with and never to be ignored. They are my heart, my world, my inspiration and my daily motivation to be the best person I can and to set a good example of what a successful and independent woman is.

There is so much more to tell but it must wait as I pack up and prepare us for the drive back to Upstate NY. On this Memorial Day as on all other days of my life, I am eternally grateful to the veteran who bestowed upon me unparalleled love, unforgettable lessons and a courageous spirit. Thank you, Dad!

Doing what I do

working laptop

Every day I wake up knowing how fortunate I am that I write freelance for a living. Being paid to do what I love is an amazing privilege and gift. My freelance work allows me to pursue my other writing loves which include blogging and writing fantasy stories. Being a self-employed writer also means that my schedule is flexible. Writing has enabled me to take trips to New England whenever I desire, a luxury I didn’t have while working in an office for someone else every day. I do still have to work on my trips but that’s fine and all part of the gig.

What I love to do most with my writing is try to help others. Either by sharing my life experiences in the hopes that it inspires and motivates people or by spreading the word about something I believe people should have knowledge of. I am not a pro at using all the social media outlets such as Twitter and LinkedIn but I do my best. Facebook has become difficult to effectively utilize for marketing without paying money so I keep exploring other options such as StumbleUpon and Pinterest. I never know where interest in what I’m saying will come from so I feel it’s important to investigate as many outlets as possible.

All of my paid freelance work is ghost writing which means that someone else takes credit for my words. That’s one of the main reasons I started this blog, so I could write what I love and take credit for it. I have gradually gained more followers which makes me very happy and my readers include people from all over the world. I have much more to say and to that end I will continue doing what I do, enjoying and sharing the fruits of my labors.

What Can Be Built in a Day

There’s that expression “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and while that’s true, there’s still a lot that can be accomplished in one day! At least for a multi-tasker like myself.

The temperature today was in the single digits with a wind chill below zero as the snow cascaded down in tiny, icy snowballs all day long. I only went out long enough for Jazz to do her business and after that we’d snuggle up inside, her in her doggy sweater and me in multiple layers. Days like these I am extremely grateful I don’t have to drive to my job anymore. My job is comfortably in my home where my desk offers me a view of the plows going by every hour or so.

A storm outside is a perfect opportunity to be productive inside and that’s exactly what I did. I started working on designing my business cards so I can actually get my name out there when I physically visit places in New England. I still think they’re awful but like everything in life, they’re a work in progress…

My business cards are still a work in progress...

A drafted up card. Less than exciting!

When I’d take a break from that, I’d work on building a location I’m using in my fantasy novel, Unbroken Flames. Many areas in the book are based on places I’ve visited in New England, Amesbury, MA especially. There are so many intriguing parts to that town that I adore exploring and incorporating my love of the area seemed like a natural thing to do for my book.

Today I worked on one building in particular that rests along the banks of the Powwow River in Amesbury. I took a few pictures of it while I was watching the ducks swimming around in the frozen water. It struck me as the perfect hideout for my main character during a certain part of the story. I’ve never been inside that particular building but I can imagine what it’s like and modify it to suit the plot. The proximity to the water and waterfall provide great potential for all sorts of interesting adventures and I’ll make sure to take more pictures next time I go.

You can be quite sure that I’ll give credit to all the places in New England I use as backdrops for my book. What better way to put a place on a map than to weave some magic, heroism and adventure around it?

The inspiration for a setting in Unbroken Flames. A building near Powwow Falls, Amesbury, MA

The inspiration for a setting in Unbroken Flames. A building near Powwow Falls, Amesbury, MA

This is what I had done by the afternoon...

This is what I had done by the afternoon…

Looks better now but more work to be done!

Looks better now but more work to be done!

Holiday Wishes Granted in New England – Part 1

My festive outfit for the holiday events.

My festive outfit for the holiday events.

Last year around this time I wrote a blog about how I wished I still had holiday parties to go to like I did in the past. Well this year that wish came true, only not quite as I expected. I didn’t get to go to holiday parties like I attended in the past, the holiday parties I went to this year were world’s better than anything I’ve been to in the past! I’m sure a big reason why was that they took place in New England.

On Thursday, December 12th, I made a quick stop in at Jon P. Mooers Gallery in Amesbury as the book signing was beginning just to see the gallery all decked out for the Frosty the Snowman author and his artwork. The author was already signing books and there were trays of creatively arranged food for those who came in. I always love going in there after being outside in the cold because not only is the temperature inside warm, the atmosphere is welcoming. I snapped a few pictures, listened to the author talk about his book with those getting signed copies and then left the studio.

The window display at the gallery.

The window display at the gallery.

The creative food display.

The creative food display.

The author Wade Zahares signing books.

The author Wade Zahares signing books.

Display of the books.

Display of the books.

I walked back by the Powwow Falls because I just don’t feel like a visit to Amesbury is complete without that. It was lovely seeing downtown all lit up and the tall tree reaching toward the sky. The moon was shining brightly in the night sky and I took some pictures with my phone camera because I’d left my good camera in the car. Just taking my gloves off long enough to take those pictures left my fingers frozen but it was worth it! I made it quickly back to my car in the cold wind and was glad I’d worn thick tights and tall boots with my festive skirt.

Amesbury's tree downtown with the moon in the sky above

Amesbury’s tree downtown with the moon in the sky above

Once in my car with the heat going, I typed in the address for the event in Peabody, MA that Jackie Moldau from Jackie’s Tees & Custom Apparel had invited me to. It seemed easy enough to get to so off I went! It was an uneventful drive and the Men’s Spa at The Mansion was easily accessible on a little side road in Peabody. The parking lot was already pretty full so I created my own little spot for my car and headed inside.

My parking spot.

My parking spot.

The moment I opened the large front door I was met with the sounds of loud conversations and lively holiday music. I couldn’t help but smile. Two nice women greeted me by the door and gave me discount coupons and asked if I had a business card. I don’t have business cards yet but I’ll be remedying that quickly for future such networking events. Can’t get my name out there if I don’t have cards to advertise my services! I wrote my name on a blank card for the door prize drawings later and then headed further in to explore the party. I was hungry so I immediately dished up a plate of pasta, crackers and cheese and bread and butter. I found a big cushioned window seat in the large barber shop room and settled on it for a little picnic. The food was hot and delicious and the wine from Mill River Winery helped warm me up!

The buffet of food

The buffet of food

My first plate of food

My first plate of food

The barber chair across from the window seat

The barber chair across from the window seat

I didn’t really know anyone there (I only knew Jackie through Facebook) but they all seemed to know each other. Even so, I felt so privileged to be there and part of a social event instead of home with my dog. My initial hunger sated, I sought out Jackie in the massage room where she’d laid out the free t-shirts she provided. She greeted me and had me enter my email address on her tablet explaining that she was trying to build her business. Being a self-employed freelance writer, I totally understand! She saw my email address and the name Corbin sounded familiar to her so I explained the Facebook connection. She was surprised that I’d come all the way from New York and that I did it often. She was very friendly, introduced me to a few people and showed me all around before returning to her other friends at the event. I happily made up and ate another plate of food accompanied by a second glass of wine as I sat on the window seat again.

My window seat picnic

My window seat picnic

There’s much more to say about that night at the party but it will have to wait until part 2!

Beautiful New England


The snow and ice on the trees at one of the rest stops on the Mass Turnpike

I woke up this morning to a beautiful New England sunrise and it warmed me up despite the temperatures in the teens. I’m always so much happier being in New England, both asleep and awake. Jazzmin is still a bit confuse as to why our “house” is suddenly so much smaller than it used to be but she’s being a very good pup about it all!

Sunshine out my hotel window.

Sunshine out my hotel window.

Jazz watching the exotic NH squirrels...

Jazz watching the exotic NH squirrels…

Jazz eyeing my breakfast in bed.

Jazz eyeing my breakfast in bed.

Yesterday’s drive here was free of weather issues, much to my delight! There was one lengthy delay in Springfield, MA due to construction but aside from that, the driving was easy going. Jazzmin rode shotgun for a while but eventually moved to the back seats. I thought she did that to stretch out but she curled into such a tight ball in the seat behind me I couldn’t see her. She did enjoy watching all the people in the cars when we were stuck in the stop and go traffic and I opened the windows a bit for her then so she could sniff snort the fresh air to her delight.

Jazzmin chilling in the back seats

Jazzmin chilling in the back seats

I arrived at the hotel later than I’d planned and just sort of set my stuff down all over the place. Thankfully there’s an entrance door right by my room so I unloaded the car while Jazz stayed warm in the room sniffing the carpet and acquainting herself with every dog and cat who ever stayed here.

Jazzmin very happy to be out of the car. Notice the yellow blur of her tail!

Jazzmin very happy to be out of the car. Notice the yellow blur of her tail!

Once the car was unpacked and my belongings looked like they’d exploded in the room, I took Jazz on the walk I’d been promising her the entire drive. It was already dark out but there are tons of street lights around the hotel and in the surrounding apartment complexes so we had no trouble seeing. Jazz was fascinated to be out and about somewhere new and while it wasn’t a long walk, we had fun. I fed Jazz her dinner and set about trying to figure out what to wear for going out.

There was an event in Amesbury last night called the Restaurant and Shop Showcase and as I love Amesbury, I knew I had to go. I had a plans for later in the evening but I knew I could stop in at the Amesbury event for at least a little while. I’m so glad I did! There were quite a few people there and lots of yummy food to sample! There was also wine to sample but as I had to be on the road again later, I didn’t partake. I enjoyed fish chowder from Phat Cats Bistro and a stuffed Portobello mushroom from another local restaurant but I apologize because I can’t remember which one. There was just so much delicious looking food! There were also tables for various local shops too and I would’ve liked to look around more but my schedule was tighter than I’d wanted. I did buy the Amesbury holiday ornament though and will be putting it on my tree when I get home.

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Ed Justen from Workspace 36 playing sax at the event. Sorry it's blurry, I was trying to be covert...

Ed Justen from Workspace 36 playing sax at the event. Sorry it’s blurry, I was trying to be covert…

I have some errands to run with Jazz this morning but beyond that, no big plans until this evening when I have a couple holiday events I plan on attending. There’s the Frosty The Snowman book signing at Jon P. Mooers Artist and Gallery in Amesbury tonight and the Christmas at the Mansion in Peabody, MA that Jackie Moldau of Jackie’s Tees and Custom Apparel invited me to. I’m so excited to have holiday events to go to!!! I haven’t enjoyed such festivities in many years and it’s fun being social again!

New England really is such a beautiful place and it’s truly where I belong. I don’t live here yet but I’m already laying down the roots for a very happy future here!

New England in December, At Last!

Amesbury, MA looking festive, November 2013

Amesbury, MA looking festive, November 2013

Tomorrow morning I’m loading up my car, getting Jazzmin settled in shotgun position and hitting the road east again on another trip to New England. I haven’t taken Jazz on a trip to New England since last summer but as she loves car rides, I know she’s up for it!

This will be the first time I’ve been in New England in December. I’ve visited Boston and the outskirts twice in November but I’ve never made it in this month full of holiday festivities. And wow are there festivities! There are a couple events in Amesbury I plan on attending and other fun, new things I’ve never done before that await my enjoyment.

I do hope to get into Boston one of the days so I can see everything properly lit up and festive. A lot to do in not enough time! But I’ll cram it all in somehow or other, along with walking Jazz of course.

Disconnecting, Recharging, Reflecting and Reconnecting

Heavy wet snow weighing down my pine tree the  day I left NY for NH

Heavy wet snow weighing down my pine tree the day I left NY for NH

My plans to post a blog entry every day in November fell through due to several factors, one of which was the poor quality of the wifi access in the hotel I stayed at in New Hampshire. That limited internet access turned out to be a good thing though because it forced me to disconnect and unplug from the constant writing work I’ve been doing the past several months. Had there been reliable internet in the hotel, yes, I would have done some work. The powers that be apparently didn’t like that idea, so internet reception was inconsistent.

The drive to New England Wednesday night was harrowing to say the least. From 20 miles west of Utica to 20 miles east of Albany, I encountered heavy snow and slick roads. I drove slow and steady in my dependable little Toyota Matrix and she served me well! At times I was only gong 20-30 miles an hour but that was okay because at least I was still moving forward. The big snowflakes falling were mesmerizing to look at so I kept a keen eye on the lines of the road, which were thankfully still visible.

People in SUVs and trucks went cruising by me amid the storm and I saw several of them wiped out further up the expressway. Slow and steady gets there, fast and reckless gets in the ditch! I kept saying to myself “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming” and hoping desperately for the temperature to get above freezing which thankfully, it eventually did. Once I was out of New York State, driving conditions greatly improved and I even saw the stars at one point! I wasn’t sure they were still up there!

I was so stressed when I finally arrived at the hotel in New Hampshire, I couldn’t settle right away. It was past midnight and I knew I was exhausted but I was wound tight from the white-knuckle drive. I did a little unpacking, made up the bed with my own fleece blanket and holiday comforted and settled in for sleep. The next day was Thanksgiving and while it didn’t go quite as I expected, it was a good day!

Thursday night found me in my hotel room relaxing. I’d come back and taken a nap after the Thanksgiving meal at the church and couldn’t find the energy or desire to go back out again. It was nice being in a warm hotel room instead of back in my drafty house in NY. There was no snow to be seen out the windows and it was clear enough to see the stars. I relaxed on the couch watching TV, eating leftover turkey dinner and periodically playing the little ninja game I had on my phone.

My cell reception was pretty good so it was nice to still have that connection to the outside world. All in all though, I enjoyed kicking back and doing nothing for most of my New England trip. I went out Friday amid the Black Friday crowds but didn’t end up buying anything at the stores. On the way home from that madness, I stopped at a liquor store and got some spirits to help me relax. Once back at the hotel, I had nowhere I needed to be so warming up with a little alcohol was lovely. It all felt like a long overdue break!

I only wanted a small bottle but this was all they had!

I only wanted a small bottle but this was all they had!

I did some research on my phone and learned rather important details about Thanksgiving I had been ignorant of before. I have a new perspective on this time of year and my eyes are more open to the realities of history. I have so much more to learn and I feel I’ve been directed on yet another new and interesting path in my life.

I did go out and about more on my trip but those are stories for another day. For now, I’m just fondly remembering how great it felt to be forcefully disconnected so I could recharge and reflect on things. Now that I’m back in NY with my family and reconnected to all my resources, I realize I have a lot of work to do! Work of the best kind, work that I love, work with the goal of improving the world in my usual way of one word at a time.

Spirit of Giving

My girls and I, Christmas 2011.

My girls (my blessings) and I, Christmas 2011.

Sometimes I wish I knew how to make my voice heard by more people. Especially when it has to do with something I believe to be a worthy cause like volunteering. I do the best I can with the resources I have and know that doing something is better than nothing. I am only one person but I believe that when I give all of myself to something, I make a difference.

Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays growing up. I looked forward to enjoying a delicious meal with my parents and my two older brothers. I always loved watching my father at work in the kitchen as he prepared all the fixings. Sometimes he’d let me help by stirring the gravy but usually it was best if we all stayed out of his way so he could work his magic.

While I have yet to achieve success at cooking the perfect turkey, I’m pretty good at making all the fixings. I have some secret weapons up my sleeve, namely the owl-shaped salt and pepper shakers that my dad always used to use. Every time I use them I think of him and try my best to channel his cooking expertise. I also have the decorative trivets that used to hang in the kitchen of my childhood home. In the picture below of my father cooking you can see the salt and pepper shakers on the back of the stove and one of those trivets hanging above the stove.

My Dad cooking in the kitchen of my childhood home.

My Dad cooking in the kitchen of my childhood home.

Yes, those are Potato Buds in the picture. My dad usually made those instead of dealing with peeling and cooking real potatoes. Somehow when he made them, they tasted gourmet and just as full of love as the scratch kind.

I will never forget the warmth and happiness of the holiday dinners growing up. Before my brothers and I finished school, became adults and started our own families. We started new traditions that are just as meaningful but there’s no going back and recapturing the innocence of our younger years when life seemed so much simpler.

My dad being a goofball on Thanksgiving when I was a teenager.

My dad being a goofball on Thanksgiving when I was teenager. He was making my high school boyfriend and I laugh so we’d have genuine smiles.

This year I’m starting a new tradition and doing something I’ve never done before by volunteering to help serve a meal. I’m a bit nervous that I’ll mess something up but I’m not going to let uncertainty keep me from doing something worthwhile and helpful.

My father was always volunteering at various organizations and he gave selflessly of himself to help so many people. It is in his memory and honor that I do this and I know he’s proud of me for stepping up and for trying to rally others to do the same.

It never hurts to try and it’s a noble thing to do what needs to be done instead of hoping someone else will do it. “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi