Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The William & Mary of the North

I went to The College of William & Mary to earn my undergraduate degree.  We were often called the "Harvard of the South."  I suspect it all depends on one's perspective.

Anyway, last Monday, on Patriot's Day, my friend Jessica and I decided to explore Cambridge and Harvard.  Luckily, I have a friend, Steve, who is a professor there.  He agreed to give us a tour of the University.

Jessica and I took the train down from Newburyport, and then took the T to Cambridge.  It is a fantastic town!  I loved it!  Almost the first thing I saw was the Curious George Store.

"The World's Only Curious George Store"

We went in, of course, and it had so much fun stuff!

Then we went to Burdick's, which, according to an article I read on msn.com and now cannot find, is one of the 10 best chocolate stores in the world.  I've been dying to go ever since I heard about it.  The flagship store is in New Hampshire.

Well, I am here to tell you that it was, in fact, the best hot chocolate I have ever had.  I had the standard dark chocolate hot chocolate.  I can't wait to go back because they have milk chocolate hot chocolate, of course, but also single-origin hot chocolates.  I shall have to make my way through them, one by one.  (And then I'll start over!)  I cannot recommend Burdick's strongly enough.

Anyway, then we were on to Harvard!  Jessica and I meandered around, and I read every single map incorrectly.  We had to ask multiple students how to get to the Harvard Divinity School.  This is where things got interesting.  When we stopped to ask one student for directions, she wasn't sure and said she would look it up on her iPad.  That's when she told us she had just been reading about the bombings at the Boston Marathon.  Until now, Jessica and I had been happily basking in the sunshine of the day.

Even then, I'm not sure I fully understood the impact of what was happening.  It was only when I got to the train station and saw a TV that I realized the true impact of what had happened.

Jessica and I continued on to the Divinity School to meet Steve.

Here is Steve, looking like an industrious professor:

Sadly, I can't really tell you exactly what Steve teaches.  I can't even understand the name of his class.  He even wrote a book, and the title -- the title, people! -- is beyond me.

We began our tour, and you probably already guessed this, but Harvard is gorgeous.  Steve also knew all kinds of stories and details about the buildings and the campus; he should give the official tours.  I can't wait to go back and wander around more slowly.

One thing he showed us was the Statue of John Harvard That Is Not Actually John Harvard.  Harvard! For shame!  I'm shocked!

As a little backstory, Steve's wife, Rachael, is one of my best friends from the year my family lived in Alexandria, VA, and I was in 7th an 8th grades.  I am so excited to live near her again!

At another point in our tour, as Steve and I were discussing something, we heard Jessica say, "That looks like Henry Moore," and she began wandering over to a sculpture.

It was!  Jessica is an artist, and I was suitably impressed that she can just spout out artists like that.  Meanwhile, I read websites about toilets and poop.

Of course, Jessica and I had to thank Steve for hanging out with us.  Hmmm...  Where to take him?  Burdick's!  So we went back again and had more hot chocolate.  Let me take this opportunity to tell you that Jessica bought a cup of hot chocolate to take home to her hubby.  She held that cup for over two hours and four different types of transportation and never drank it.  That is true love.  If it had been me, that hot chocolate would never have made it home.

Luckily, neither the T lines nor the train station we needed were shut down.  I haven't looked at a map, but Cambridge must be on the other side of Boston from the Marathon, and we made it home without a hitch.

One additional story: as we were waiting at the train station at Newburyport, a man was pulling a dolly stacked with three really colorful boxes.  We wondered what he was doing, and I decided he must be a magician.  It just so happened that he was on the same train home, and discovered that he's a balloon guy!  He had leftovers, so he made us some flowers...

...and swords.

(See the hot chocolate in Jessica's hand?!)

As a conclusion, I had a wonderful day, but my heart goes out to everyone impacted by the Marathon bombings: the victims, the victims' families, those racers who trained and trained and either didn't get to finish or had their accomplishment destroyed.  I also know that many people come from all over the world to race in the Boston Marathon (the winner is Kenyan), and they will leave with the impression that the US is as violent and dangerous as they read and see on TV and movies.  Boston Strong.

Sterling, Am I Starving You?

As you now know, I have two fish: a goldfish named Thing 1, and a guppy named Thing 2.  My cat, Sterling, could care less.  They are easily accessible, but she doesn't even watch them, much less try to get at them.

However, she loves the smell of their food.  Whenever I get it out and take the top off the can, she starts following me around.  Today she actually hopped up on the chair and then the table.  After I sprinkled the food in the fish bowl, she dunked her head into the bowl to get at the food.  I had to pull her out, and her chin was dripping with water.

The fish were a bit startled, but otherwise didn't seem to care.  Sterling just flounced away.

Books in Bloom: Or, How Shannon Got a Fish

The Newburyport Public Library Friends of the Library does the most amazing fundraiser called Books in Bloom.  The Friends partner with the Newburyport Horticulture Society.  People sign up to provide amazing flower and plant arrangements that reflect books.  The first floor of the library turns into a gallery of sorts.  Let me show you.  I was blown away!  Please click on the pictures to see bigger versions if you can't see the details.

It's the "Wizard of Oz"!  Don't you love the Yellow Brick Road?

We've got a little manga thrown in.  This is "Howl's Moving Castle."  What you can't see is that there are small lights in the arrangement slowly blinking on and off.

This next one requires multiple pictures to show the full genius of the display.  May I introduce "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland!"

The display as a whole -- a full tea!

A close-up photo: you can see that the characters have just left!

Poor rabbit: left his watch again!

"The Tale of Benjamin Bunny"

This one, "Little Tree" by e.e. cummings, was done by two of my colleagues, Melanie and Paula.

Paula is on the left, and Melanie is on the right.

My colleague, Melanie, also did this one with her friend.  She's highlighting the poem "Mother to Son" by Langston Hughes.  (Melanie loves poetry!)

Melanie's friend is on the left, and Melanie is on the right.

This one, based on the book "The Fairy Tale Princess," is made of paper, just like the illustrations in the book.  I won this one in the silent auction.  It's perfect for me, because I can't kill it!  Although Sterling could potentially eat it; she does love paper and cardboard.

Here we've got "When We Were Very Young" by A.A. Milne.

This was one of my very favorites: "Go Dog, Go!" by Eastman.  (As you can see, children's literature was very well represented.)

So imagine: you're walking along, looking all of these beautiful arrangements, many of which are based on children's literature.  Then, just when you've become complacent, BAM!  "Pet Cemetery" by Stephen King!

Here's a picture just to make you laugh.  We have a number of papier mache sculptures in the Children's Room that have been created and donated by local artists.  We also have a fish tank.  Some Friend who was setting up thought it might be fun to have our papier mache cat staring intently at the fish.  Ha!  (Though I will say that after the event we moved the cat away.  No need to cause fishy heart attacks.)

Another of my favorites: "Make Way for Ducklings" by Robert McCloskey.  Look at the cute little daffodil ducklings!

And here we have "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed.  This one was created by a group of library staff.

Two of the creators: Joyce in front, and Jane in back.

Another picture just to crack you up: yes, the check-out desk became the bar!

And now you're wondering, "But Shannon, what's with the title of this post?  Did you get a fish?!"  Why yes.  Yes, I did.

Check out this last arrangement:

I think this is absolutely brilliant.  It's "The Cat in the Hat," of course.  Look how they added an actual goldfish, the voice of reason in the book!  Luckily for me, this one was also up for auction.  I won it!  I left the hat in the Children's Room until it wilted (where it was ooo'ed and ahhh'ed every day), and took the goldfish home.  I named him Thing 1.

My colleague Lynn, who has had fish continuously since 5th grade, told me Thing 1 would be happier with a pal, so I got him one.

Of course I named the friend Thing 2.  That's Thing 2 on the left and Thing 1 on the right.

You may notice that the fish bowl is on the stove.  Fear not: that was just for the picture.  Plus, those of you who know me know that the fish really aren't in danger on the stove.  It's not used very often.  Ha!

Congratulations on making it all the way to the end of this post!  More to come.