Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Netherlands cemetery

i am enjoying the taphophile tragics more than you can imagine! i was so eager to do today's post.... and then i didnt have much time... :( on top of that, i was (as often) not satisfied with my pictures and didnt know which one to choose. well, this is what you get... the graves of hannah and simon courant. as you can see, hannah died on may 15, 1881, and her husband less than 2 weeks later. i think it is interesting that their age is precisely noted, but not their date of birth. as you can see, both were born in amsterdam, the netherlands. and guess where those graves are located...! just a few blocks away from our apartment.... we live here now 1.5 years, and i had no clue that very close to the 2 cemeteries i described last week, there is another cemetery. and it gets even more interesting (to me, at least); this cemetery is meant only for people born in the netherlands, from dutch descent, or married to a dutch! i came to know about it when i was frantically searching for info about henry brown for last week's post. then i had to wait till the weekend to finally check it out.... grrr..
this saturday we went. it was so sunny it almost felt like early spring.... we walked to the street facing the main entrance of the wyoming cemetery, an average residential street where we once parked the car... just a little further, in between 2 houses was the little "netherlands cemetery association and roxbury mutual society burial ground"!! one part was still entirely empty, but the middle was quite packed with very old graves, many dating from before 1900. some were illegible, but i could see that many people indeed were born in holland, mostly amsterdam, and some names were indeed typically dutch! i went by every grave (tim got bored, but it was so interesting!).
i have spent quite some time trying to find information about this cemetery. why in melrose?! (of all places..). but the only thing i could find was this page (that led me to this place initially). in 1859, a group of dutch jews (explaining the hebrew on many graves) living in the greater boston area formed a fraternal organization, the netherlands cemetery association, and they opened this cemetery for their members. currently, there are around 475 graves, and it is not affiliated with any temple or synagogue. it is still active, as i saw one grave from 2010 (or was it 2011? i forgot..)
i could not find a whole lot about hannah and simon courant (i have to admit i did not spend a lot of time on that, i was more interested in the history of the cemetery and am frustrated i could not find more). the only thing i could find is that they had a son, mark courant, who was born around 1855 in the netherlands. in 1882, just after his parents died, mark married betsy bronkhorst (she was born in england in 1859, but her family seemed to be from from belgium originally), in suffolk, massachusetts. she was an assistant house keeper, while he was a cigar maker. betsy died already in 1885, and was buried at the netherlands cemetery too, while mark died in 1917 and was buried in woburn, massachusetts. (i found this all here)
there was also supposed to be one grave with a dutch inscription, so of course i wanted to find that one. that wasnt easy, but eventually i did find it (by then tim was really, really bored..). perhaps i will show you that some other time!
for other taphophiles, go here...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Roa mural

i had a really hard time choosing one of the pics i took from the mural i want to show this week. finally i choose this pic, but to see the entire mural, you have to click on it! unfortunately, my pics dont do this piece justice... :( it was sooo impressive! this is in miami, the sunbather that i showed earlier is on the wall to the left. if you go here, you can see a few more pics, close ups etc.
the one above is made by the street artist roa. of course, i had to look what i could find about him online (where would i be without the internet!). roa is from ghent, in belgium. he has painted in many cities in europe and the usa, including london, paris, new york, los angeles, and recently he had a show of his work in paris. he mostly paints animals, in various stages of decay. in this interview i found, he mentions that the type of animal depends on the region where he paints, as he likes to paint the ordinary animals from that location. quote; " I dream to go one day to Africa or Australia to extend my choices". he likes to paint abandoned places, as you can see here (you should really check it out! many beautiful, and funny murals). i think his work is really beautiful, and very well fits the locations!!
here you can see more monday murals.

Sunday slogan

today was a much too long day. beeehhh. its good that in such cases i can always just let the church have their say.... what a great play on tooth decay....  this was during our holiday, somewhere in florida, but already i would have to look where approximately i took this photo. grrrrr....
good night!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hmmm, pizza!

today we had a pizza from this place for dinner... somehow i got to know about groupon one day (and then livingsocial, and then bloomspot, luckily for me, this was only a few months ago), and now my inbox gets loaded every day with their "daily deals". grrrr.... essentially it means that i now sometimes spend money on things i otherwise wouldnt, "because its so terribly cheap now!". this time it was a coupon for 10 dollars, giving me 20 dollars to spend at upper crust, the pizzaplace. there are always nice rules coming with such groupons (only one coupon per table, only valid till..., not for alcohol, have to spend the entire amount at once, etc etc). ah well... the pizza here is really good, and actually too expensive, so with the groupon it was worth it...  (and then we went to the movies with another groupon, the ticket now only was 6 dollars instead of 11 or 12!)  :)
picture again from last week. all the snow is gone! it was very, very sunny today, didnt feel like winter at all!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Last saturday...

... it looked like this when getting off the subway in chinatown. i was surprised, it actually looked like quite a snowstorm... :) but it wasnt that bad at all, they just hadnt really cleaned the streets here yet. today it mostly rained, but tomorrow its supposed to be sunny, and not too cold.
ah well... im not in a writing mood. good night!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Charles river

we had a nice walk on sunday, it was not too cold, although quite grey out, and the snow was still there (its raining, right now). we took the red line to central square in cambridge, and then walked by MIT, hit the charles river and walked on the cambridge side along the river, then crossed the longfellow bridge and were back in boston. i took a lot of photos while walking, one of them above.... on the right you see prudential, and to the left the hancock tower. i was very surprised to see the river is (partially) frozen. sure, we had a few very cold nights, but most days it has been rather mild. im sure the laws of physics can explain this all, but i cant... :) on july 4th we were in a canoe on this river, what a difference!
supposedly, the charles river is one of the cleanest urban rivers in the usa nowadays, but in the past it was extremely dirty; you were not allowed to swim in it, and if you happened to fall in, you would get a tetanus shot and antibiotics! this was common practice until mid-1990s! i do have to say, americans like to give you as many shots as possible (everyone gets the flu-shot, just 2 days ago they asked me if i didnt want a tetanus-shot, as i hadnt had one since childhood, and most (all?) teenagers get vaccinated against hepatitis B. when arriving here they didnt believe the note my physician wrote for me, namely that i received all required vaccinations, and thus they wanted to vaccinate me again against some childhood-disease. i refused and thus i was required to have my blood tested to prove i was indeed vaccinated. i still remember how furious i was then..).
anyways, you still are not allowed to swim in this river naked, as you can see here. you will get arrested and handcuffed... but perhaps those officers just secretly enjoyed that... (otherwise they would have given the man at least a towel, no?!)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dutch delicacy

i have not been home in 2011... by now i have not been to the netherlands in over a year, and i really start to miss little things (the big things i missed before, already... haha). one of the things that more and more came to mind when having breakfast or lunch is pictured above. a delicious slice of bread with chocolate sprinkles! yes, this is what the dutch eat on a regular basis, and yes, this surprises everyone not from the netherlands. and no... those sprinkles are not entirely the same as the ones you use for baking, to just add that little extra to a pie or cupcake. i found that out the hard way... :) just 2 weeks ago i could only think about a "boterham met hagelslag" (a slice of bread (boterham) with (met) chocolate sprinkles (hagelslag)). when we were in the baking section of the supermarket, i decided to buy such a little box with the baking sprinkles. i almost bought 2, as they were only 1,50 a piece.... at home, i did not put the box in the cupboard, as not to forget it during breakfast the next morning. but surely, i didnt forget it, it was the first thing on my mind when waking up. we toasted some bread, i put on some butter, covered it well with the sprinkles... and was disappointed right after the first bite. ofcourse the taste was wrong! beeehhh, this was so not hagelslag..! :(
luckily... our dutch neighbor is much more knowledgeable about where to get dutch stuff in the usa than we are, and she happened to go to a dutch store somewhere around boston. she got us a real, dutch box of chocolate sprinkles!! yumyuymyum. thats what you see above... the most real bread we have been able to find at our supermarket, toasted and buttered, and then real dutch hagelslag. hmmmmm. a true delicacy. for a dutch living abroad that is..... :)
ah, and hagelslag literally means "hailstorm". now isnt that funny...?
if you want to try some hagelslag, either "melk" (milk chocolate), or "puur" (bittersweet), just order from this website!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tree protection

this is at the wyoming cemetery in melrose, close to our apartment (a 5 minute walk). i go here every now and then, sometimes alone, as it is so pretty! next to the cemetery is pine banks park, and then there is yet another cemetery (the forest dale cemetery), but somehow i prefer this one. many people, including us, run or walk around these 2 cemeteries. with my (slow) pace it takes 30 minutes, just enough.. :) (somehow i feel weird running on the cemetery itself, and i think its not allowed. but many people do walk their dogs, and, ofcourse, you can access it by car. im now kind of used to this, but the first time i saw this in the usa i was totally surprised and a bit annoyed. "really, driving on a cemetery?!"). i liked this grave as it is so extremely tiny, and, i presume, got partially covered by the tree trunk over the years. i tried to find something, anything really, about this person, but google could not give me any answers this time. grrrrr.
so... something about the cemetery then. it was established in 1857. in 1887 and 1891 they expanded the grounds, leading to a total of 61 acres. other than that, it has not changed but for the trees that have grown older and bigger. and ofcourse the addition of people, currently there are 25,476 graves. right now, the cemetery is running out of space (although it looks like a really spacious cemetery), but they are working to solve this problem. the above grave is in the 1700s section, so named because it was also the place where the first house of melrose was built, in 1645. the exact location is indicated by this sign, its near the entrance of the cemetery. it was the house of deacon thomas lynde, who built it himself. around that time, 3 families owned melrose, the lynde family being one of them. 
other than that, i found on strangeusa.com that the cemetery is haunted... according to the description: "the cemetery is known to have had strange occurances in the late night hours. especially, a feeling of negativity and people have said they have felt like they are being watched. many people have been chased by a young girl and have heard strange sounds coming from the rear of the cemetery. dark figures have also been reported in the 1700's section" (i.e. the section where i took this pic. the shadow, btw, is my own... ;) ). but other than that description, and some commenters describing similar experiences, i could not find anything about this! i myself have not experienced anything weird at this cemetery, perhaps i should go there again and pay more attention to the supernatural...... does anyone believe in such things... ?
for more graves on taphophile tuesday, go here!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Banksy, cancelled

i like the monday mural theme, but, as i said before, its not that easy to find graffiti in boston. im sure the graffiti busters have something to do with that, combined with zero-tolerance policies (recently they arrested someone who tagged subway cars and stations in boston, plus other cities, and he could goto prison for 3 years!). but there is a little here and there.. (and actually a lot along the orange line, but this is not legally accessible). just read somewhere that boston spends around 6 million/year to get rid of graffiti!! above is in chinatown. and as you can see, its very ugly! i wouldnt call it a mural either, but.... underneath this used to be (most likely) a real banksy. the only thing remaining is a tiny part of the man, in black, underneath the white R. this is what it used to look like, in 2010. then someone decided to paint over the man, as you can see here. and at some point at least 2 more people went over that, as you can see above. we actually had been looking at this wall before, seeing nothing but ugliness. haha, its still ugly, but just wanted to show that many graffiti-writers do not care on which wall they write, or whether they overwrite someone else's "work". i think its too bad that something this ugly replaced the banksy, although all of them did something that was illegal; defacing a wall that is not theirs... but still, something like this is much more interesting than a grey empty wall, right? (but this person had permission to paint that wall).
last week someone told me about "hanksy", a kind of a prank on banksy, but with the face of.... tom hanks. hahahaha. here you can see an example. no clue who is placing those..
for more monday murals, click here...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday slogan

last week i did a sunday slogan, and since i collected a few over the past few weeks, heres another one! taken during the same trip last saturday. they dont cease to amaze me.... in fat, whenever we drive past a church, im hoping to add another one to my collection, and im disappointed when they dont have a sign out front. sometimes theres still hope, i can see the sign from afar, but coming closer i see it only gives the hours for sunday prayer or reads "all are welcome" (how boring!).
the one above is a very bad one, i think. how on earth can they write that?! how does it make people who are maybe not so into god (or not at all) turn to him? 
because i have so many questions regarding these signs, i google around a bit this week, but couldnt find much on wikipedia (bbuuhhh). i did find this site where they posted the most hilarious church signs (and many more weird ones in the comments). some of them i have seen myself around here, in the exact wording, so i do think churches share them. still dont know how this exactly goes though... perhaps priests make a lot of road trips and just note down the ones they like, and then use them for their own signs. hmm, but they could also just use the internet. a weekly email with the best slogans? a website from which they can pick? (would it be for free or is there this full time slogan write?) maybe...

Real snow!!

yayyy! finally the first real snow of this season..... when going to bed last night it was not yet snowing, which was very disappointing to me. naturally, i woke up several times during the night and had to check the snow... and jeejjj, at some point it was snowing. it wasnt such a spectacular snowstorm as we had last year (we even had several), with strong winds and big flakes... these were tiny flakes... but they were coming down steadily for hours, so we woke up to a nice layer (again, not the knee-deep we had during our first US-snow last year).
we walked a bit around boston this afternoon, above the boston common with the skating rink at the frog pond, such a different view than in the midst of summer (taken form the other side)! unfortunately, some snow drops on my lens... we walked around a bit, and i took some pics from higher up, where young and old were sleighing down. suddenly, a man standing next to us bellowed; "you are not taking pics of my kids, now are you?!" me, surprised and not yet knowing what to say, could only think of this event. then he said: "because if you do, i have to sign a release form". i just mumbled something like "eehmm.. i was just taking a pic of the entire view from here.. ok" but then he said: "i was just joking!! its one of those things i like to say, there are so many photography students around here". pfew...
most of my pics were disappointing.. but i guess over the coming days i will show you more of them anyways.. :) im not sure how long the snow will last, forecast says higher temperatures in a day or so.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Side street

just a side street in new york, somewhere in chinatown. i was so surprised to see so many of these scooters lined up, and a bike behind... looked more like rome to me!
we had some snow here last night, and more is expected tomorrow, hopefully i will be able to take some pics...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stupid dutch

as you might know, new york city's borough brooklyn is named after a very cute dutch village, breukelen (breuckelen in old dutch). the dutch breukelen is close to the city utrecht, where i used to live, and sometimes i would bike around this area, which is very beautiful...  (buuuuuh, i miss my bike!). there are many huge and beautiful mansions along the river, dating form the 17th century belonging to wealthy merchants, mostly from amsterdam.  already in 1624, the dutch were somewhere in that area on long island, NY! in 1646, breuckelen was part of new netherland, but in 1664 they lost it to the british. over time, the name evolved from breuckelen, brockland, brocklin, brookline, brookland and eventually, to brooklyn. brooklyn's official motto is still a dutch one: Eendraght Maeckt Maght, which was also the dutch motto until 1816. it means "unity makes strength".
now, brooklyn heights is a neighborhood within brooklyn, which looks rather nice, judging from google images. but.... the above advertisement is taken in the netherlands  (in december 2010)! around breukelen.... (with in the background a dutch train...). why the hell do they call it brooklyn heights?! why does everything have to be in english? (this happens more often in dutch advertisements). it just really annoyed me...
anyways... here we still dont have snow. it started snowing on monday, and there was a nice (little) layer of snow on everything, enough to get the snow removers out of bed early, by 5 am (!!!) they had cleared the paths around our apartment complex. but.... by the end of tuesday it was all washed away by the, yet again, high temperatures and rain. now its freezing again, and some snow is expected. perhaps even more on saturday!! lets see....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Southernmost southernmost

i did not know what to post today... and then decided it had to be a pic with people in it, havent posted that for a while! but my most recent pictures with people in it go back to the first of january, when we were at key west, florida. this is a sort of monument, intended to resemble a bouy, standing at the southernmost tip of key west. this is written on the side with the least number of people, and it also mentions that from here its only 90 miles to cuba (as you can see here). there were many things on key west labeled as "southernmost", the southermost hotel, house (but there was also a southernmost southernmost house next to it), supermarket, restaurant... etc... but this monument was overcrowded with tourists. there was quite a long line with people wanting to have their picture taken next to it. at some point people became impatient and just had their picture taken from the other side, as you can see here. the ones facing the sun probably ended up with a better picture, but the others have the text with "southernmost point...", having at least an excuse as to why they were standing next to that ugly big thing! :) of course, this is not really really the most southern point of the usa. on the island itself are points farther south, and also those are only the southernmost points of continental usa, the island hawaii is more southern.... in fact, i just read there is another key, key ballast, that is more southern than key west, but this island is privately owned, and therefore apparently does not count (perhaps because tourists cannot get their picture taken there?). this island had been owned by someone for the past 50 years, but last year it was for sale! for only 13,800,000 dollars.... you can see that here, on the "private island website". "private island website"... can you believe it?! 
it was hard to write a post without visiting wikipedia... :( but they are blacked out for 24 hours to protest against SOPA and PIPA...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Benjamin Waterhouse

i took this pic long ago, at the mount auburn cemetery in cambridge (for an earlier post about this cemetery, click here). this is the grave of Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, who died at age 92 in 1846. i took this picture because i liked this stone, and it is not usual to see that much text on a grave. upon reading it, i became even more curious! i put the pic in my "to post sometime, but first need to read more about this person" folder, and never did so. but thanks to taphophile tragics, im finally posting it! when waterhouse, born in the usa, was 21, he went to europe to study medicine, both in britain and the netherlands; he got his degree in leiden (as you can read on the stone; leyden). back in the us, he became professor at harvard medical school. in europe he had learned about the small pox vaccine, which he wanted to introduce in the us. he wrote to the then-president, john adams, as they had been roommates in the netherlands (how interesting!). when a reply did not come, he wrote to the vice-president, thomas jefferson, and when he became president in 1801, waterhouse introduced the vaccine. he did the first vaccinations on 4 of his 6 children, i guess the ultimate proof that a doctor deems something safe... he then also did a "controlled experiment" in which he deliberately exposed 19 vaccinated and 2 unvaccinated boys to the smallpox virus; the latter 2 died. (well into the 20th century this kind of experiments happened. i suggest this book if you want to know more about that). and so, he brought this vaccine to the usa. vaccines were discovered by edward jenner in 1796, when he noticed that milkmaids who caught the cowpox virus did not catch smallpox. by 1977, this deadly pathogenic disease has been eradicated, thanks to vaccination! it is said that jenner's discovery leading to vaccines has saved more lives than any other person...
of course, i got most of this knowledge from wikipedia... i could read it for hours, just following links... :) but.. tonight, the english wikipedia will be unavailable for 24 hours, to protest against proposed legislation in the United States — the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate. if you want to know more about that; click here.
now i really digressed too much... to see other taphophile tragics, click here!

Monday, January 16, 2012

I have...

... a dream. who doesnt know that it was martin luther king who said that?
during our holiday, we saw the lorraine motel in memphis, where martin luther king was assassinated while standing on his balcony in 1968. in fact, the wife of the motel owner had a stroke some hours after the murder of MLK, and died 5 days later. years later, when the motel was in financial troubles enough money was raised to buy it. and only in 1991, it officially opened as the national civil rights museum. we were there on christmas eve, and the museum was closed, unfortunately.
the next day we drove to new orleans, where we saw this mural of martin luther king next to malcolm x. this area was not the most inviting, and i felt extremely touristy when i stuck my camera out of the window to take a picture... 
the third monday in january is a national holiday in the us, to honor martin luther king, observed for the first time in 1986. yet it was only in 2000 that all 50 states in the us recognize this holiday, with new hampshire and utah being the last states to do so.

here you can view other murals from around the world!

Sunday slogan

just read it; "exercise daily, run from satan, walk with the lord"
really?! which slogan generator spit that one out?! im really wondering about this. how does it work? do all the church-people sit together and come up with some witty text that in some way has something to do with normal life, as well as god, and then mixed together? did they assign one priest thats good with words? do they just google some random words and hope that something comes out? is each church free to put up whatever they feel like (provided it has something to do with god), or is there a more national oversight, and churches of the same kind put the same texts?
ofcourse, the best still remains this one.
i can only feel for the first part; exercise daily.. this year has not been very good in that respect, so far. i was sick most of the past week, although its getting better now. but i still think running is better than walking... but cant i just do that alone?!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

When snow...

....refuses to come to boston..we have to go to the snow! grrr... still not one flake here... :( i liked it so much last year, and now... nothing, nothing, nothing... 
we went to new hampshire, where they dont have a 6.25% sales tax like massachusetts. depending on what you buy, this can make a difference! so, an hour away from our house, there was snow, jeejjj! but it was also really cold. i am still a bit sick, so mostly we just sat in the car and enjoyed the view (we tried not to take the highway).
around here you can find abandoned houses/cars/shops as well. we saw some (but not as many as in mississippi), like this car above. the door was open, and inside was a total deteriorated mess..

What happened..?!

we were having a long walk in boston, and suddenly we entered this street. entirely deserted, but with such a mess! (i must admit, this was a few months back, but i havent been taking pictures this week..)  what on earth happened?!! and why was nobody there...? then we saw all those bricks are actually made of styrofoam! from afar you really couldnt tell! without knowing, we had entered a movie set... but the shooting had been done already, and they were cleaning up... :( we also saw several trashed cars, some on top of each other... 
it was for the movie RIPD (rest in peace department). its due to release somewhere in 2013, and stars ryan reynolds, kevin bacon, jeff bridges... among others, and has something to do with undead police officers and whatnot... apparently, they have been filming all over boston! (so, only for that im curious to see that movie). it was interesting to see that for such a movie they just shut down several entire streets in the financial district of boston on a sunday afternoon (not that it is very crowded there during weekends anyways), and how many cars (entirely demolished) were involved, and how many props, and that even the newspaper boxes were brought in by them, as well as the bike, the streetlight and the parking meter.... imagine how much work it is to clean it all up again, and how many people are involved!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Street art

without a real plan or tourist guide we randomly drove around in miami, perhaps driving through streets and neighborhoods that you should avoid... but more importantly, letting ourselves be surprised by the most interesting things!
we drove by this enormous mural and i could not believe its size! so... ofcourse we parked somewhere to take some pictures. i was disappointed with them back home, but it was hard with so much sun and shadow at the same time... :( this is in the wynwood art/fashion, which used to have mainly abandoned warehouses, but recently has many art galleries and studios. and, as you can see, walls that are painted by street artists. apparently, there are 100s of murals around this district, which are there legally!!, making it one of the biggest street art districts in the world (we did not see that much, but the wall next to this one was beautifully painted too, i will post that some other time).
above "the sunbather" by daniel fila, which was completed less than 2 months ago. since 8 years, fila paints this wall, but never a piece this big. next to the wall there is some sand, so it seems that she really is lying on the beach. on purpose i pictured the billboard above it. as you can see, this mural is really huge! moreover, it illustrates an interesting question posed by the street artist banksy; what is defacing the neighborhood more? 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Graffiti busters

saw this truck at government center in boston, a few weeks back. just looked it up; you can call the "mayor's hotline" (!!) if you see some graffiti, and they will come and remove it. since they started, they have removed graffiti from more than 1000 locations (but i cant find when they started). indeed, there is not that much graffiti in boston, especially when compared to other cities we recently visited.
the mayor of boston is thomas m.menino, and he likes to put his name on everything, as you see, his name is on this truck. his name is also on 600 (!!) bikes that were recently placed throughout the city, for the bike sharing program allowing you to rent a bike at one place in the city and return it somewhere else if you like (my question; did he personally label them all?) his name is even on all the trash cans around boston! on one side they say "big belly" (i guess because of the way they are shaped.. i should find the pic i once took of that), and on the other side... "mayor thomas m. menino" (and he does have a big belly!). these are just a few of the public things that carry his name... i saw many more.... why?! i think its weird... yes, hes the mayor. but... not the dictator! (putting your name on everything public somehow is more suiting for a dictator, i would think..) besides... for how long is he the mayor? if the next mayor comes on, will his/her name have to be exchanged for the current one? what a waste of time is that?!

Body redecoration

yes... we made a u-turn for this sign..... i had to picture it! so far, i have not felt the urge to redecorate... for me, its like this; i dont like to wear the same clothes everyday, so why on earth would i want to have  1 image permanently on my body, without having the chance to easily remove or change it? 
today, tim had some redecoration; he had 3 of his wisdom teeth removed. i had that done 2 years ago, (2 at the time, in 2 visits 6 weeks apart or so), and i found it awful. necessary redecoration (or so the dentist said), but really awful. seeing him like that makes me feel how i felt then again. and compared to what other people have to undergo, that was just a minor medical redecoration. beeeghhh. i now have a throat infection :( and the doctor suggested, but did not recommend, to have my tonsils removed. well, i would rather not! so...., certainly i wont do any voluntary redecorations... close to our house is a tattoo shop, and they, so they advertise, also do "branding and scarring", unfortunately that always makes me wonder about the how and why.....

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Grave addiction

i like to visit cemeteries and have posted some pics here. now i know that this makes me a taphophile, and through biebkriebels i learned there are more grave addicts (oh how i like that word play), contributing to taphophile tragics initiated by julie.
this is in new orleans, on dec 26. we were driving on the highway directly above it, and i made tim get off it to visit this cemetery. we had no real clue where we were, except that it was close to the french quarter and the nearby neighborhood did not look that inviting (it was actually in the iberville housing projects). we just parked the car in front of the entrance and wandered around. there was nobody else, and the fog made it all a little more spooky. many graves were about to collapse and it did not seem to be too well maintained. through google maps i found where we exactly were; st. louis cemetery #2, consecrated in 1823 (there are 3, several blocks away from each other, #1 being the most visited; here you can view biebkriebels' pics of that one). and if i were to believe internet forums, we should be happy not having encountered any robbers or even murderers. you are strongly advised to ONLY go to these cemeteries through an organized tour (that will cost you some 20 dollars per person; getting robbed after all, only in a more sophisticated way...). commenters feed these beliefs by saying that because these graves are aboveground, bad people can hide behind them, and suddenly attack you. blablablabla. i did not feel unsafe. common sense, please.... 
anyways. it was flooded during katrina, but damage was minor. ever since this visit i have been fascinated by these aboveground structures and could not believe the explanation in my tourist guide; that this is because new orleans is below sea level, and flooding can make underground coffins float up, spreading corpses everywhere. some googling around told me that this happens sometimes, indeed. but, it is more likely because this was tradition in the native countries of the early settlers (i.e. spain and france). so why did they do it there? probably because of the rocky soil in southern europe; not easy to dig holes. i noticed that some of the graves looked like ovens (here you can see that in one of my flickrpics). the hot climate in NOLA does sort of turn the tomb into an oven; the high heat causes the body to decompose rapidly in a process that you could compare to a slow, natural cremation (it takes about a year, i read here. interestingly, until 1963 catholics were not allowed to be cremated, but such a natural cremation was ok). in this way, the next familymember can be buried in the same tomb, all they do is shove the remains of the previous one to the back, thereby saving a lot of space.
whoops... i wrote a bit too much, but i had so many questions and found so many elaborate stories on floating bodies which kind of annoyed me...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Country side?

another neon sign! currently not working, and i thought ready to be demolished.... i saw it for the first time early september, last year. only the sign was left, behind it a bare piece of land. i tried to take some pictures then, but all turned out bad. on sunday we went there again, and now some building is being constructed! i presume it is a new motel, and maybe they will restore the sign? unfortunately there is a fency around it, so taking pictures was again not easy. actually the only one that was ok-ish i took from the car, while we drove by, haha...
yes, i also like those neon signs! they are sooo american! nowhere else i saw so many of them, and such enormous ones! this one that i posted earlier is impressive too, its along the same highway, and we sometimes go there for dinner (the restaurant is very, very american too. really like you see in the movies. i would love to be invisible one night and picture everything and everyone there.... as for me, i think it would show the true heart of america.... :) ). from reading i gather that most of these signs and motels were built in the 1950s and 60s, and really made the usa so different and more modern than europe, at that time... i would like to be able to go back to that time and see how it all looked, with all the fancy cars and people...
perhaps back then this really was the country side... but now its certainly not. this is the crazy route 1 around Saugus, close to our apartment, completely bombarded with many different shops and restaurants, some more crazy than others. theres a huge chinese palace called "kowloon" (with absolutely horrible food, we tried it once and never again), there is a restaurant in the form of an enormous ship and some italian place with the tower of pisa next to it. another restaurant has a huge neon sign that just says "EAT" (still to be photographed), and then there are ofcourse the usual suspects; mc donalds, taco bell, burger king, hooters, and many stores and supermarkets, a minigolf and a skating rink. this stretch of highway is always very busy, and as it has very short entrance and exit ramps it is nerve wracking at times to get on or off.... this part of highway is sooo full, crowded and overloaded with crazy things making it so ugly that i think its some kind of beautiful...  and guess what! this route 1 is the same route 1 that eventually leads you to the keys in florida! i think thats so funny. it is 2377 miles long, starting at the canadian border in fort kent, maine, all the way to key west..... route 1 even has its own wikipedia page....

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Neon sign

whats more american than a huge neon sign?
during our trip we saw so many, also many still standing, but not used anymore..... just recently i read that its extremely expensive to restore such a huge sign (they talked about 35,000 dollars!). above is in boston, a sign that was installed in 1910. in 2006 it was refurbished and turned on again, after having been off for several decades. (ah, here i found that this costed 200,000 dollars!! so much?!) it was bought and restored by the development company that is making fancy apartments of all those old buildings around there. last time, somewhere last year, we walked around there it still looked pretty empty, although there were many signs for apartments for rent or sale.... today we just went on the bridge, to picture the buildings in the setting sun.... why is it always just for a few minutes that everything has that special glow?!
here i found a website that reports about the restoration of neon sings along route 66. not a cheap business either...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Keys

i really wanted to see the keys. we went on the last day of our holiday, the first day of 2012. route 1 leads you from island to island over 42 (!) bridges, until you are in key west, 129 miles from miami. somehow i had an image in my mind of this chain of islands, surrounded by perfect beaches and blue water, nature, and no people. we would be some kind of explorers... entering these perfect untouched islands. how wrong could i be? and how stupid! of course its not like that! they keys are what they are because of tourists like me, "who want to see the keys".... and i guess people living there also just like to go to the supermarket... :D i must admit, it was even quite ugly at times... just a us highway, with fast food chains, and other superstores alongside it.... i really thought we would not see that here, these were islands after all! well, perhaps it was like that before they were only accessible by water, which was until 1910, when the overseas railway was completed. nowadays, tourism is the main business, which is clear from the many h/motels along the (mostly) single lane highway. traffic thus can be slow, but when we went it was ok (aside from some crazy drivers when we went back. one of them a tourbus... yuk). 
just like all the other places we drove through, there were abandoned places... this one in front of the airport. this building was already ugly, and abandoned even more so.. :) 
of course, it was pretty too. when on the bridges, seeing all the little uninhabited islands, or when i saw the sign for "private island for sale" (!!), we had a swim in the ocean somewhere along the road, and that was very pretty too. the water was not deep, and so clear.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Where's Waldo!

do you see him....? i think its funny that waldo has a different name in other countries (in danish its holger!). the first book was published in 1987 titled "where's wally", by the british illustrator martin handford. somehow i only know it as "zoek willy" (dutch for "find willy"), but according to wikipedia the dutch call him wally, like the original. i really liked this book, but i never owned one myself... every time i see it im still tempted to buy it!
sorry, im just not done yet with my pics from our holiday... so heres another one from miami. there were many rather new looking apartment buildings like this. the entire city appeared new, rich and fancy. and predominantly spanish....  unfortunately we did not have much time here, and the time we spent we were somehow rushed (for example by our expiring parking... grrrr). i sure liked the beaches and to see ocean drive, but i was attracted by the city. i liked new orleans better, and the more northern part of florida.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Citgo sign

i showed you the boston (in)famous citgo sign once before. here you see it from the other side, a little further away (or quite a bit, actually), but still very well visible.
i like the lamps in this street. the houses are pretty nice too, but you cannot see them here... its quite a fancy street! im rather sure its commonwealth avenue (or comm ave, as they refer to it here), but im not 100% sure. if you get out at the kenmore stop on the green line, you should visit the fancy commonwealth hotel. they always have a photo exhibit, which is for free! (and you get to see a glimpse of the hotel). we have been there now twice, and both times saw some really interesting photographs. both times there was work from harold feinstein, whom i didnt know before, but now i even bought a photobook from him for tims birthday, that is not yet published. but when it does, it will come with his signature.. :) which reminds me... i think they might have changed the exhibit at the hotel... time for another visit!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Chilly weather

this is some dislocated brick (i guess part of the stairs) along the charles river in boston...
its very chilly, suddenly! when we returned from miami monday evening it was rather mild (luckily, as we didnt bring winterjackets), but yesterday and today the temperature suddenly dropped dramatically, well below 0 degrees celsius! even put on an extra blanket on the bed! still no sign of snow, however.... whereas last year it was packed with snow by now....
now im just wondering why someone would write "chill" on some concrete..

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

No trespassing

saw this sign alongside an unpaved road in the everglades. unfortunately the road turned out to be closed after 2 miles... so we had to turn back, which gave us at least the opportunity to photograph it! apparently yhe "everglades conservation and sportmans club est 1950" will shoot you on sight when trespassing... great... so, we just took the pic and drove on...
i uploaded some more pics on flickr (here), still not done however! its frustrating how much i already forgot. where was it exactly? what did we do? etc... ? so in order not to forget flickr is actually quite useful.. if i do it fast enough... there are also some more pics of the deserted cars along the road. while many abandoned places had a sign "no trespassing" this one did not. so all the while i felt a little uneasy, taking pictures there, and i imagined some guy jumping out of the bushes with a gun. luckily, no such thing happened.... would have loved to take a peek inside such a deserted place, but i didnt dare! i found a website where people post pictures of abandoned places... and sometimes they do go inside. especially this one i liked, its beautiful and sad at the same time...
ooh, its suddenly cold in boston!! right now its -10 C (15 F).... but still no sign of snow....

Monday, January 2, 2012

Hello Boston!

yup... today we went back to boston. buuuuhhhh, i didnt want to leave that warm weather and blue ocean... but on the other hand i am looking forward to my own bed, and some selfmade meals again. beeghhh, thats what i dont like about staying in hotels; what to do with dinner?! but h/motels turned out to be cheaper and easier than for example airbnb (which was our original plan). also... (un)packing the suitcase was not something i enjoyed, and having to choose in advance what you will wear (i always bring too much and never what i want to wear), the dirty laundry you accumulate, and how all that stuff never fits into your suitcase anymore when going home, while it did neatly and perfectly when packing for the trip.
it was beautiful! we saw so much, and so many different things. different landscapes, incomparable cities and climates.. etc etc. we slept in 6 different places, crossed parts of 4 different states and drove approximately 1865 miles! (or... tim did, i should say. thats 3000 km!!), i took almost 2000 photos (but those need to be sorted out yet), and saw even more that i didnt photograph...
above is around boston. i liked this one... you can interpret it however you like.... ah yes, we also saw many, many such slogans during our trip. some i photographed, some i would like to remember (should i write them down before i forget or is that weird?), some that made me laugh, and many that i already forgot... one day or another i will post them... the first load of laundry is done already, and now its time for my own bed. jeeejjjj!!
ah, i would almost forget; this is my conclusion: the us of a is very, very beautiful, and unbelievably ugly. sometimes its either one of those, sometimes its both at the same time. anyways; now i even want to see more of this country!

Miami beach

the last day of 2012 2011 (!!) we went to miami beach and swam in the ocean! it was so pretty and blue, and very sunny and warm... i never swam in the ocean in december!! i also never swam in the ocean in/around boston, not even in summer as the water does not look as attractive as it did here... (actually it looks rather dirty).
these 3 pretty ladies were lying close to us, and i could not resist taking a picture... :) after that we walked around on ocean drive lined with art deco houses/hotels/clubs, it looked fancy and pretty. it was so crowded! (and many, many german people, i noticed). in the evening we dressed up and went by publi transport back to the city, for new year's eve. public transport in downtown miami is free! it was called the "metromover" and was without an operator, so you could sit in the front and have an amazing view of miami (too bad we didnt do it during the day). we were stupid to arrive too early, at 8 we were downtown... we walked around a bit and saw the urban jungle. it was as interesting as the tour through the everglades, with all the dressed up people, and the women with impossibly high heels (i noticed that women are much more dressed up here anyways than in boston. in boston it seems everyone goes in pyjamas to the mall, here they walked around in stiletto-heels and short skirts). it was great people watching, but around 10 we had enough... and... boring as we are... we just went back to the hotel... and had champagne in the jacuzzi.. which proved to be difficult too; it was far too hot to sit in that thing until midnight!! hahaha. we missed all the fireworks in miami, but thats ok with me..

First sunset

of 2012 we saw on key west, the southernmost point of the usa! quite a drive from miami, but it was worth it... :) ofcourse, in reality it was so much better... 
i liked the pelicans, you see 2 above. there are so many exotic birds around here, i like that so much! unfortunately i did not see any flamingos.... :( buuuuh. 
now we are both completely exhausted. holidays are quite tiring! ;) 
as i missed some posts last year (i did not do 365), i will post some more from the holiday later on. now its time for bed.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

From Miami...

happy 2012!!!! (the skyline seen from a very posh neighborhood...)
it is hot here, and very sunny! i got a little sunburn yesterday at the beach... amazing, on dec 31st...
later more about the last day of 2011, today one more day of exploring...