Monthly Archives: February 2009

Political Insight

My father, who was very astute at politics, once told me that the “establishment” wanted then President Clinton to fail because they didn’t want a “cracker,” ie “poor white trash” in the White House. Conservative Republicans trying to impeach the president over a blow-job would seem to confirm my father’s observation.

So I believe conservative Republicans when they say that they would like President Obama to fail. This is a “cracker” with a twist. He’s Afro-American.

Socially conservative Republicans are also so radical in their dislike for anyone who is tolerant of abortion or gay rights, much less making legislation etc. for those causes to happen. There is no room for compromise on those issues. That’s why I’m so proud of my friend Frank Schaeffer, a once a radical social conservative Republican turned moderate, who lives right here in our Newburyport community and writes often for the Huffington Post and has scores of best sellers.

I am proud, relieved and moved by our new president, but there surely are folks out their in our nation who would and are and have been trying to destroy him. Being accused by Sarah Palin of “Palling around with terrorists” is only a glimpse of what is out there. “Live and let live” does not appear to be the guiding principle.

So yes, President Obama can be gracious and hope for bi-partisanship, but, I don’t know where the quote comes from, “We have met the enemy and the enemy is us,” but it seems applicable, unfortunately, in this case.

The other thing that I’ve noticed is how the media is twisting facts to get attention. This includes places like the Huffington Post. I watched the exchange between Senator John McCain and President Obama on the new possible presidential helicopters. Senator McCain approached the subject with a little humor, it was obvious that this was something the two of them had talked about. President Obama was downright funny in his response, and Senator McCain was smiling and nodding his head.

One would never know this by reading or listening to the media. It was war between the two once presidential candidates. And either Senator McCain was a soar loser, or President Obama was put on the spot, depending on the coverage. Neither was true. This is getting old.

I always wondered why my father watched C-Span so much. I now know. Unfiltered information, from which a vastly intelligent man, like my father, could draw his own conclusions. His daughter is now learning, and I wish I could call him up and let him know.

Too Good to be True

One of the few “life lessons” that I’ve managed to get somewhat into my DNA, is “when it’s too good to be true, it’s too good to be true,” but yet, boy is it tempting. Good grief.

And that truism applies to all sorts of things that so many of us are experiencing in these lousy economic times. Maybe Newburyport frugal Yankees are more suspicious of the “too good to be true” thing, and maybe it’s part of the reason that Newburyport, MA is not experiencing some of the unbelievable pain that some folks are facing. Just moderate pain.

I get a small odd postcard in the mail offering to buy my house, no strings attached. I investigate the website of the mailers of the postcard. Four websites, that I can make out, all looking pretty high scale, compared to the postcard I receive. The return address on the postcard appears to be a house for sale.

Promises of fast closing, fast cash.

Implications of owning a house, with bad credit or no credit.

Red flags are flying in my brain. Isn’t stuff like this what got us into this mess in the first place?

I actually call someone in the government, the US government, and they say stuff like this is now popping up all over the United States, but here it is apparently popping up in Newburyport, MA.

I want to investigate this red flag so much. But, for this blogger, restraint. I call one of my Newburyport journalistic friends instead, and give them the information, hoping that our local Newburyport press could examine the waving red flag that has come, apparently, Newburyport’s way.

Newburyport Stories

I open the present my son gives me for Christmas, a book. A skull with a cigarette on the front cover. My face obviously gives my skepticism away.

“No, Mom, really, he’s on the New York Times best seller list, I promise.”

I feel slightly better when I find out that the skull was painted by my favorite painter, Vincent Van Gogh. To say the least, I am still skeptical.

My son to reassure me, sits me down and reads the first short essay/story. It’s about germs. I’m still not won over.

But after all, this is my own beloved son, and I want to make at least some attempt to appreciate his thought out present to moi. So I plunk myself down in the comfiest chair I can find, and proceed to read the skull book. By the fourth essay/story, I am howling with laughter, and offer to read my son some of the stuff in his now much appreciated present. He declines.

The 8th essay/story is about a New York City woman, who could have been any number of characters that I’ve known so well. And I begin to wonder that maybe these stories have a lot less fiction in them than I first supposed.

And having struggled with, in what fashion to continue the Newburyport Blog, an idea begins to form. Stories, maybe fiction, maybe true, centered around my beloved New England seacoast city of Newburyport, MA, my stories, but hopefully somewhat universal as well as local.

What woman, Newburyport or elsewhere, hasn’t stood in front of the mirror and wondered about “midriff bulge.” Another version of, “Am I fat?”

What one of us, while considering the problem of “midriff bulge,” hasn’t also considered a personal financial fate in these lousy economic times.

Instead of “preaching” about historic preservation, and preserving the historic quality of this wonderful historic town, an experience of what it is like to live in an historic place, day after day, and how that adds to an unquantifiable quality of life.

Instead of talking about how upset I am about specific “restoration” and building projects, why not talk about historic preservation and boob jobs, hoping that people will start rating planning and historic preservation projects as a “double D boob job” as the worst, to a “braless wonder,” at their very best.

In December 2008 I find I am weary of pissing off my fellow Newburyport citizens, living under a constant risk of being sued or being threaten of being sued, and this appears to be a possible solution.

After trying to find every possible book by the skull guy, I finally Google him. And I find that, yes David Sedaris has not only been around for quite a long time, and I am very late to the David Sedaris planet, but also even that he has been on David Letterman a lot, no less, much less a visit to one of my favorites, Jon Stewart. From here on in, I vow to myself, I will trust my son’s taste in literature, even if the cover contains a picture of a skull.

Newburyport Twitter Wakeup Call

This is something that I never thought I’d give a rip about, so it surprises me that I do. Something so global and is in fact so much Newburyport local.

Some full disclosure here. For 3 years I worked as one of then 75,000 (the number has since grown) editors for the “Open Directory Project” or as it is often know as “DMOZ,” the directory owned by Netscape and used by Google. Most of my ever ongoing “training” at DMOZ, was catching people trying to scam the system, as well as adding really good websites to the directory. I was constantly amazed at how many and how often and how sneaky people were. It was a real wakeup call for moi.

And yesterday I watched the CEO and co-founder of Twitter, a very, very smart (vast understatement) and personable gentleman, Evan Williams, talk about his ideal for Twitter. Twitter is also not making any money (yet).

This is who it appears is making money, Social Media Optimizers (SMO)s. From what I can make out in my small amount of research (and yes this is cynical and possibly jaded on my part) the gig was sort of up for the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) folks, when Google wanted relevant content and lots of it. Schmoes like me can rank high for key words that SEO’s used to be able to persuade folks to pay unbelievable amounts of money for.

When I went on Twitter and searched “SEO,” what I saw were lots of “tweets” from SEO’s saying how stupid people were about Twitter, what a sham a company was if they didn’t insist on a SEO firm using Social Media like Twitter, and a certain implication of the large amounts of money to be made off of Twitter ignomaniacs.

What was interesting to me, was that this was not the tone or goal, at least from what I heard, from the co-founder and CEO of good old Twitter. Quite the contrary. He said he thought at this point Twitter, I believe the word was “impossible” to use, the plan was for that to end, and the whole thing was suppose to be fun. The aim did not seem to me to scam people out of large amounts of money.

And the other thing that I sort of read between the lines, that many large companies now almost feel compelled to set up Twitter accounts, even Newspapers, which Mr. Williams, it seemed to me, seemed to be quizzical about.

I’m guessing that it is all those SMO’s out there who used to do SEO that are now scaring their website customers into have things like Twitter accounts, so that, yes, the SMO’s can make tons of money, because most folks are Twitter ignorant, and need to pay someone mucho money to do it for them.

Maybe I will become a Twitter addict, Mr. Williams did say it was addictive and was supposed to be fun. But, I wonder how many Newburyport businesses, in this lousy economy, will feel compelled to pay good money to SMO’s to make sure they stay relevant and solvent.

Dehumanizing Social Media

This will make me hugely popular. We finally have a president who speaks thoughtfully and in complete sentences–even paragraphs. I find this refreshing.

And I look at Twitter and for the most part, it verbally looks like a Google Earth close up of a mangled beaver swamp. (Yes, I know our new president Twitters, but he Twitters with a purpose and in complete sentences.)

And yes, I ripped off the Google Earth thing from a blog post on the Huffington Post called “What Sentence Diagrams Reveal About President Obama”, by Jason Linkins. The quote was, “By contrast, the diagrams of typical George W. Bush sentences are indistinguishable from Google Earth close ups of small rodents, drowned in mud puddles.” I like that quote. Obviously, I like it a lot.

Yesterday, much to my surprise, people emailed me, and not only don’t seem to be fond of “comments” on blogs, etc, but appear to find a lot of the social media stuff, the virtual-contact, meaningless, dehumanizing, especially if it takes the place of face to face, person to person, real human contact.

Works for me.

I actually phone folks who leave comments on blogs, etc., who have problems with the Newburyport Blog, because I have this quaint belief in human contact, or at least voice generated contact, as a way of communicating. I’ve yet to have one of those phone calls returned. Voicemail is such a wonder when it comes to avoiding “stuff.”

I am being very cynical today, but it appears to me that social media, Twitter, Facebook, is often used as a great Search Engine tool (SEO) to get blogs and websites to rank high on search engines. A bastardization if you would of its probable original intent.

And for an educated society, to have one of their major communicating tools take the form of 140 characters or less, is to me is a huge, waving, red flag. Are we going from a nation of sound-bites, to a nation of “tweets?” A nation where thoughtful sentences and paragraphs are a thing of the past–a passé, elite Liberal agenda. I hope not. I’m a big fan of the well written, and spoken, at times lengthy, written word.

Newburyport Comments

All along the way the Newburyport Blog has been criticized now and then for not taking comments. Even as it commenced, with a lofty goal of “civil” discourse, it was pointed out to moi, that the Newburyport Blog was no blog.

In the category of “how soon we forget.” For the most part, I’m not a big fan of the comment thing. Having seen the mean spirited, cannibal like comments from early discourse, on the Newburyport site, “Cannibal City,” and now watching the comments on the Newburyport Daily News (which I wonder if they regret, the Newburyport Daily News that is), when I started out, I set cement like parameters, guidelines for “commenting.” Not only were there no anonymous comments, but comments were to be emailed in, with a name and phone number, so that I could verify who sent them (and I did), a little like a letter to the editor, to try and keep the discourse “civil.”

I also knew of so many people who were actually devastated by comments made on blogs, and devastating people was not the aim of the Newburyport Blog.

Civility did not last long, and neither did the cement like comment thing, all of which is chronicled in the first 1-9 months of the Newburyport Blog, for anyone who might actually be interested.

I also found out, because legally a blog is a publication, that I not only could get sued for whatever I wrote, but also for the content of comments on the blog which other people wrote, and even for refusing comments, if I had comments, on the Newburyport Blog. It was a big, “good grief, who needs this,” sort of thing.

Way, way too complicated, and worrisome for moi.

I finally gave up on the comment thing, and figured that people would eventually get their own blogs, which is exactly what has happened. And now we have a whole lot of blogs, all about Newburyport, MA from all kinds of different points of view.

And I would add that I think the master of defusing nasty stuff on the comment thing is Tom Salemi over at the Newburyport Posts. It is a talent I simply do not possess.

Newburyport Yankee Frugality

So far, fingers crossed like mad, Newburyport, MA does not appear to be as hard hit by these lousy economic times, as is so many other parts of the United States. That’s not to say we haven’t had some pain and there won’t be more pain to come. But as President Obama travels to some of the hardest hit parts of our country, so far, Newburyport, MA does not seem to have those heart wrenching stories.

And in my attempt to begin to fathom what we as a country are going through, I watch, uncharacteristically, the cable business channel. And this time instead of coming across a segment on “shapewear” (see earlier entry), I came across a segment attempting to explain all of this called (I think) “The House of Cards.” I have no idea how accurate this particular explanation is, but I watch it with fascination and horror (the “horror” part they are probably counting on).

What struck me was their emphasis on folks on either end of the foreclosure crisis facilitating the “American Dream.” I can see the American Dream not wanting to be killed in a crime ridden part of the United States. In my book this is a good thing.

But what I could not fathom, was buying, what in my book, looked like a mansion, on a $900 a week salary. Now, my guess is the folks who did this documentary, found this particular example. But what I think, as I understand it, there were a lot of folks leveraging their dwelling, for things that they could not otherwise think of ever affording– a “dream” pool, a “dream” kitchen, a “dream” vacation. A lot of dreaming, that sounded like it was not too in touch with reality. So yes, watching this documentary, when reality raises it’s little head, the impossible dream thing could go out the window.

The version of the “American Dream” that was being described was so far beyond my own definition, that with one exception, I had a hard time feeling sorry for any of the folks, Wall Street or Main Street who were depicted, whose lives were affected. (Again, the documentary could have been wildly eschewed, I don’t know enough about all of this very complicated stuff to make that call.)

But I am very glad to live in what many have referred to, often in not very flattering terms, as a frugal, Yankee community. Our community banks, are doing just fine, in part, I think because they are rooted in reality, verify folks information, don’t sell their mortgages, love and know the community, and if someone wanted an unrealistic amount of lending money to finance a possibly unrealistic “dream,” my guess would be that our community banks would have a kind but firm community chat with whoever that might be.

Bras and Historic Preservation

Flipping through the channels, there appear to be more and more TV shows on plastic surgery. Especially plastic surgery for boobs. Is it size D or double DD? A lowly size C? Never do I hear these young and older women agree to a measly size B. What would be the point (pun intended).

And what the configuration of women’s paraphernalia tells us about our culture at large (see earlier entry on shapewear), much less that we as a culture now have shows on plastic surgery, says something about us, I think.

As I recall in the 1950′s, as I sat watching things like cartoons and racier stuff like “I Love Lucy,” there would be advertisements for “Cross Your Heart” bras that, from what I could make out, looked really, really uncomfortable, and made women’s boobs look unnatural, like less exaggerated, latter-day Madonna cone-shape, shape boobs. It said something about the times.

Later in the 1960′s bras literally went out the window or up in flames. If women actually wore bras, they were more “natural” shaped. This also said something about the times.

Today, it seems to me that the aim of upper women’s wear is to make every woman look like she’s had a boob job, whether she actually has had one or not. Not that I mind, looking like I’ve had a boob job, and not actually having paid for one, maybe that’s not such a bad idea, I don’t know. Upper woman’s wear, thick, molded and not a nipple showing. This, like the new 21st century, girdle, poising as shapewear, to me says something about the times we live in, I just don’t know what. That fake boobs, rather than the old fashion natural ones, are in?

And what in the world do women’s boobs, bras, the configuration of upper woman’s wear have to do with Newburyport, MA? As I mull this over in my brain, sometimes I think that it has to do with the fact that Newburyport, MA, more especially in boom times, is losing it’s lust, more and more, for actual real historic homes. The real thing, real historic homes, seem to be going out of fashion. The façade of historic homes seems to be more appealing.

As I walk through our historic district, I know how many house are replicas of the real thing. Architectural boob jobs if you will. Visually pleasing to the eye, often more easily sold for bigger bucks, but not the real thing.

To my eye, the real thing around town, actual old homes, seem like gems, not small or sagging breasts in need of reconstruction. But I worry that this view point of mine could be called quaint.

I guess one of my hopes in these lousy economic times, is that by the time they have hopefully righted themselves, peoples “values” could have changed, and real stuff, like historic homes in Newburyport, MA would be seen as the gems they were once seen as, rather than a possible opportunity to slash and stuff, a face lift, a boob job, to turn a tidy profit.

Web Design, Newburyport

The idea for the last of the free websites from Mary Baker Design, came from my walks around the historic district in Newburyport, MA. The web design is the “Window Box” website. A portion of the original photograph is at the top of the entry.

For me it is often the preservation of not only large elements, but also the small, sometimes intangible things, that preserve the “soul” of a city. In the photograph of “Window Box” there is one of those things. The window in the photograph is original to the house. Original glass is wavy, has “personality” if you will. A small thing, but when every window looked out of has historic glass in it, the experience adds up. The first house I owned in Newburyport, MA had original windows. And I loved looking out at the world though the window of all the people that had come before me.

The window in the photograph of “Window Box” has a storm window over it, which are often put on windows of historic homes. Storm windows appear to have gone out of fashion, which I think is too bad, because, when I had the privilege of living in an historic home, I thought they worked. In the photograph, you can see the screen on the storm window, as well as what I think of as a quintessential Newburyport, New England curtain.

And then there is of the custom, so loved in Newburyport, MA, of putting flowerboxes in windows all over our small, historic New England city, making it a delight, for people like me, to walk all over town, and appreciate the effort and pride that residence of Newburyport, MA have in their homes and in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

The demo of the free website “Window Box” at Mary Baker Design can be seen here. The web design of the “Window Box” can be downloaded for free here. If you need any help setting up your free web site, please feel free to contact me at Mary Baker Design. A screen shot of the web site is also included in this entry.

Newburyport Website Design

The second free website design that I created, contains three historic photographs of Newburyport, Massachusetts. It was a tough decision to decide which ones to use. But eventually I chose the photographs of the clipper ship in Newburyport’s waterfront harbor, a view of downtown Newburyport, looking up the Merrimac River, and a detail of the a clam worker from the historic photograph, the Clam Houses. All three photographs are in the public domain, courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center at the Newburyport Public Library, in Newburyport, MA. The historic photograph of the Clam shack worker is at the top of this post.

The website design “Old Photographs” can be downloaded for free at Mary Baker Design. A demo of the Newburyport website design can be seen here.

The website design is in a WordPress format. WordPress is a terrific software. It is very flexible, and the person who downloads the website design can put their own title, description, content and navigating information on the top menu bar as well as on the side.

The site can be made to look like a website, a blog or a combination of both. If you are puzzled by what to do with the website once it is downloaded, please contact me at Mary Baker Design.

The first two websites based on the old photographs of Newburyport, MA are a way of giving back to the seacoast, New England city of Newburyport, MA that I love so much. And I figured that if the website designs are downloaded and used, that they would be a great advertising tool for the historic city of Newburyport, MA, a wonderful place to live, to work, to visit, to raise a family, to retire to and just to plain old enjoy and have fun. I’ve also included a snapshot of what the website design of “Old Photographs” actually looks like. You can see the “Old Photograph” website design page here.

Newburyport Websites

In this lousy economy I’ve been working on designing websites. And because there now appear to be so many folks blogging in Newburyport, MA, I’ve designed a series of free websites that can be downloaded for free at Mary Baker Design. The websites are in the form of WordPress software and can be configured in any way. The title, description, content and menus on the top and side can be custom created by the person who downloads the website. They can look like a blog, or they can be made to look like a website or a combination of both. If anyone does download a free website, I will be glad to help them set it up. See the contact information at Mary Baker Design.

Because the historic photograph of the Clam Shack Workers is so beloved in Newburyport, MA, I decided to use that photograph in the first free website design. The photograph of the Clam Shack Workers is in the public domain, courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center at the Newburyport Public Library, in Newburyport, MA.

Over the years I’ve discovered that one of the things that folks seem to like best about the Newburyport Blog is the collection of Newburyport historic photographs, from either the Newburyport Public Library or the Library of Congress. The website “Clam Shack” is one of two free websites that uses old photographs of Newburyport, Massachusetts. A demo of the “Clam Shack” website can be seen here.

Slugfest

Way back when, now Vice President Joe Biden warned that then President Elect Barack Obama would be “tested.”

Mr. Biden, I believe, was thinking more about folks from other countries doing the “testing.” But, nope, we here in the Untied States of America don’t have to wait for outsiders to do the “testing,” we’ve already started the process for them.

Yes, the “testing,” at least this is how Miss Mary is looking at it, has already come from the Republicans, moderates, conservatives, they apparently are a untied party on this one, a pretty gleeful media, and even the “left” of the Democratic party appears to be getting into the act.

In 13 short days into his presidency, our president has gone from walking on water, soaring down to a mere human being, bottoming quickly into a virtual slug.

It’s a process to watch and go, “Oy, Vey” about.

So I am going to be fascinated about what will unfold this week, a week that the press has already dubbed “a tough one” for the President of the United States. Seemingly rubbing their hands in glee at the possibility of delicious, newspaper selling, website clicking, money making, possibly out of touch with reality, headlines.

So having gone to the ballet and off to Camp David with his wife and daughters, I’m guessing, to process and evaluate, while happy hyenas are foaming happily at the mouth, I’ll be interested at what the impact of his visit to economically ravished Indiana and Florida, and talking to the nation tonight, might have. Will it still be depicted as a “desperate move” by an already, only two weeks in, failed president? Or will there be a grudging acknowledgment on someone’s part, that empathizing with the plight of the American people, could possibly be a good thing, or at least cynically, a “good move” politically on the part of President Obama?

Artists Creating Jobs

One of the things that really gets me about the new stimulus package, that better get passed, the Republicans better not screw this one up, is the outrage about giving money to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

This isn’t just outrage by Republicans, but on places like CNN too. “Can you believe this? This is really the last straw–money for the NEA.”

Excuse me.

Artists help the economy in all sorts of ways, and unfortunately, very few of them get to reap the rewards, and get lots of scorn, apparently when Mr. Bush’s bushwhacking of the NEA and the arts in general, is now beginning to be realized as not such a good idea.

Take Newburyport, MA for example. In the late 1970′s and early 1980′s when Newburyport was making a comeback, downtown Newburyport had been rescued and restored, but the rest of the town needed a little sprucing up.

Who moves in? Who “discovers” Newburyport, MA? A lot of artists among other folks, that’s who. From writers, to visual artists etc. They added to the vitality of the town, helped make it an attraction for tourists, new restaurants and shops etc. And now Newburyport, MA is too expensive for most artists to live in. An old, old story.

Artists have a nose for what is the next “in” place. Soho and Chelsea in New York City are two other examples. Artists moved in, and then so did expensive stores, real estate went through the roof, lots of property taxes and jobs at all the new restaurants and shops. And can most artists afford to live in those places either? Rarely.

Do artists get credit for job creating, real estate creating. Apparently not by this United States Congress, because it looks like help/funding for the NEA is going to be axed from the hopefully will be passed stimulus bill.

Old Photos and Bippies

I’ve been working my bippies off. I’m not sure what bippies are, or how much or just how many are actually left, but I’m pretty sure I have a whole lot less of them.

It’s the website thing. I’m designing websites. And this is what I’ve concluded. Why in the world would someone have a website that, when they want it changed, every page need fixing, when there are these content management things, and when you want a “new look,” poof everything changes in a flash.

I decided that if I’m going to design websites, it would look pretty silly not to design my own website. Missy Chabot of Chabot Web Design, not only designed my website, way back when in the year 2004, but she also became a really good friend. So do I feel like a heel? Yup, I sure do. But if I don’t want a website designed by moi, than who else would possible want one? And besides, who better to practice on than myself.

What I discovered, I never really thought about this, is that I have 24 pages on my website. That’s a lot of pages, there’s no poof on that one. The Newburyport Blog, I see, now has more than 1000 pages. That’s really a whole lot of pages. And I say to myself, “Can you imagine changing 1000 pages one by one, when poof, 1000 pages can change like that?”

I’m working away on changing my website, I’m currently on page nine, there’s a ways to go.

The other thing that I’ve discovered is that I have “Safari,” and everything I design looks pretty good in Safari. But when I go and take a gander at whatever it is that I’ve designed, in Internet Explorer, it looks like crap. Plus all the IE versions look different. Things look different in IE5.5, in IE6, in IE7, I mean really different. I’m trying to make friends with IE, but sometimes I’m starting to think of IE as the enemy.

I have a “draft” of a website, that’s based on old photographs of Newburyport, MA, that are in the public domain, courtesy of the Archives at the Newburyport Public Library, here in Newburyport, MA. When Mary Baker Design goes live, folks can download the website with the old Newburyport photos for free. A sort of giving back to the community thing.

I don’t know if my friend /enemy IE is completely happy with the draft yet, the wrestling with IE providing me with a lot less bippies. But I’m willing to let folks take a peek at the upcoming free Old Photos website from the upcoming Mary Baker Design (currently in beta version).

Newburyport Walking Season

The seasons of the year dictate when I go on my auto-pilot walk (see earlier entries) through the historic streets of Newburyport, Massachusetts.

During the winter, it’s at the warmest hours of the day, during my lunch break, sometime between 1:30 and 2:30 PM.

At the beginning of the season, before bitter cold and snow may set in, it always feels as if it’s just me and young mothers or the nannies, out to get a breath of fresh air, having bundled up the little ones who lounge in what always looks like extreme comfort, in varying degrees of fancy to not so fancy strollers.

By this time of year, it’s rare that I run into adults with young children. Nap time possibly has happened. Or just plain old exhaustion from bundling up small children for a breath of fresh air.

Instead I seem to hit the time when the “kids” get out of school. What always strikes me, is here are these young men and women, some (young men) literally in shorts. I, on the other hand, am bundled up like Nanook of the North. I always say to myself, “There is something wrong with this picture. There must be some weird medium between shorts at 12 degrees outside in Newburyport, MA, and Nanook of the North.”

And when the weather is like the weather that we have had lately, and no matter how much conscientious shoveling may have taken place, the only passable walking areas in the historic district of Newburyport, MA, are often in the middle of those historic Newburyport streets.

I end my walk at one of the oldest streets in Newburyport, MA, lined with Newburyport ancient saltbox houses. And at the end of the street there unfolds the mouth of the mighty Merrimac River, Plum Island, Salisbury and the expansive Atlantic Ocean beyond. This great vista puts so much in perspective, and I am reminded that I am only one minute piece of an amazing and often awe inspiring puzzle.

And when the weather gets slightly better, walking to downtown Newburyport is once again possible, without constantly jumping out of the way of the mighty automobile.

And I love that moment when historic downtown Newburyport comes into view. I always feel an amazing sense of comfort and peace, that this historic place that has survived so much–fires, depressed economic times, boom times, stands there with so much dignity and composure.