Posts Tagged 'New Hampshire'

Connections

As we left  the museum Tessa and Steve’s new old car failed to start. Before we could even get to them a fellow New Hampshire citizen stopped and helped them to jump start the car. People are friendly and helpful here, which is not usually the first thing that comes to mind when reading NH’s motto on the number plates (Live free or die). We left NH Manchester for MA Manchester in the sun.

Tessa invested her meager business resources into a trip to DC to lobby for implementation of the Small Business Administration support for small and women-owned businesses. She falls into that category and hopes it will get her more business. She is learning about the laws and letting her voice be heard. I bought her lobbying clothes; not that she needs those with her one-meter long red rasta hairdo and her straight posture – she is an impressive presence. Even if she doesn’t always feel that confidence inside, she surely looks like she has it. I gather she came back with some more.

Here in Massachusetts we suffered a week of dreary weather, which is traditional during Saint Patrick’s week. I suppose it is good for the vegetation but for us humans it is dreadful and soul sucking. At work I ploughed through 500 pages, reviewing our flagship leadership program guides. This kind of detail oriented work is also dreadful and soul sucking for me as there is nothing creative about it. But it needs to be done and I think few others could do it. There’s more review work before I take off on another wheelchair adventure next week. But those adventures (never mind the long plane rides) are energizing, inspiring and soul-nourishing and compensate for a lot.

There was more soul nourishing this week. I am reconnecting with people I see rarely or lost touch with. I immediately forward connected them to other people in my network. As a result I am in an expansive mood. When I hear what people are doing and see how it overlaps with what others are doing, I become nearly manic with possibilities. The older I get the more I see the importance of weavings these connected threads together.

Snow: chores and play

On February 3 we held a brief remembrance ceremony in both our Boston and Arlington office for our three young colleagues who perished in a plane crash in Afghanistan 10 years ago. People no longer on our staff came to pay their respects and we told stories. I read a brief letter from M in Afghanistan who benefitted from the scholarship fund that was set up by the family members of these three women. I remember the day well, working out at the gym and suddenly seeing the faces of my colleagues and the name of my organization on the TV screen.

The rest of the day flew by as I was busy finishing the paperwork of the trip I just finished and prepped for the one that will start next week. Having gotten up at 4 AM, shoveled the car out of the snow banks and gotten to work early, I was pooped around noontime and went home.

The next day I had scheduled to renew my Dutch passport. I made the appointment month ago knowing that on February 4-6  I was going to take Axel to an Inn in the White Mountains, a Christmas present. It seemed a good idea to go to Boston in the morning, get the right passport picture that only one photographer in Boston can do, complete the paperwork and, and then head out to New Hampshire.

Between the snow banks, the T-system functioning at half power, parking problems and the victory parade of the Patriots I couldn’t have picked a worse day to get into Boston. It took us 2 hours to get from Manchester to the photo place which happened to be on the victory parade route. Axel had dropped me off as traffic wasn’t allowed through anymore. I walked through puddles of melted snow, first to the photo studio and then the consulate, my boots no longer keeping the water out. At the consulate, the creation of a new passport was even more complicated than before as the new passport technology uses precise biometric information.

By noontime we were done and headed out to our Christmas present and celebrated two days of pampering at the Inn at Thorn Hill in Jackson (NH): knitting by the fire, a lovely dinner, falling asleep in the Jacuzzi and then early to bed, to get ready for a day of playing in the snow, which is so much better than having to get things done in the snow.

Family

Family members and friends who have become part of the family over the years came together from Oakland, Michigan, Cape Cod, and New York to reminisce and enjoy being together. When I first entered this family, some 30 years ago, such get togethers were very much defined by the consumption of large quantities of strong spirits and much cigarette smoke. Everyone showed up with their wicker baskets full of large bottles filled with clear or brown liquids. The people in charge of the reunion then were Axel’s parents, aunts and uncles; the women mostly homemakers and men who had fought in WWII. The annual reunion was something they looked forward to, as much as I dreaded them. They have all passed on since then.

Now we are in charge and we bring mostly small brown bottles. Hardly anyone smokes and no one gets plastered anymore. We are from a different time and a different world.  This includes Woodstock which is celebrating its 40th birthday. Cousins Phil, Kristen and Bobby were there and there were pictures to prove it which all of us thought pretty cool; they even still have their 6 dollar ticket stubs.

Axel had been interviewed at the Joan Baez concerned (on his birthday) and the broadcasting of the special Woodstock interviews was scheduled for yesterday on the Today Show. We suffered through one and a half hour of repeat footage of nonsense, advertisements and C-news and gave up looking for Axel being interviewed one half before the end of the show. We could not stand it any longer.

Nephew Michiel has decided his name is too difficult for Americans to pronounce. I stood next to him when he introduced himself to one of Axel’s relatives as ‘David.’ We picked up on this transformation quickly and now even his brother and dad call him David, and, although not yet right away, he eventually does respond when you call him by his new name.

The transformation of a year in America, after less than a week, is already visible (and audible). He’s speaking English as if he has lived here all his life (and, his little brother is not doing badly either).  I am afraid the nice British English he learned in school is already overshadowed by his new American accent. He also secured himself a crash pad in New York City by hanging out a good part of the day with Britta, the daughter of Axel’s cousin, who is also a freshman and off to NYU in a couple of weeks. We noticed the exchange of email addresses towards the end of the day. He worked hard at that and he deserved the positive response.

It was hot and humid at the place halfway up the mountain where we came together. Towards the end of the day we drove down to the village and immersed ourselves in the river; this included Chicha who learned to master fetching a stick that went downstream quickly and swam heroically against the current, encouraged by all of us. Little dachshund Stewie was not able to do this and kept busy retrieving stones from the riverbed, whether thrown at him or not.

Refreshed, we returned to the mountain, ate leftovers, played the ukulele, told stories, looked at some very old photos and checked out the family tree. When it got dark we sat around the campfire roasting hotdog and s’mores. In spite of the multiple insect bites it was a glorious day and another wonderful reunion, to be continued over brunch this morning.

Doll house

We slept in a little doll bed in a little doll room  in a little doll house that is placed in a row along a semicircle with other doll houses like it. At the back of the small cabins is a  gurgling brook; the tiny front porches look out over a grass strip that separates us from Route 3, aka Daniel Webster Highway. We are in New Hamsphire, at the entrance of the White Mountains National park. It is the weekend of the Magnuson Family reunion, organized by the Paul Magnuson branch out of their family cabin, the Moog, in Franconia.

Sita picked the place some months ago. It only had pictures of the cabins in the winter and looked quite quaint. Of course there was no picture of the road. Its other selling point was that it allowed Tessa to take Chicha. We occupy two cabins between the nine of us, one each side of the cabin with the perfectly groomed Scotties, two low by the ground and one quite tall on its legs, no doubt another breed but its haircut is the same as the others. They are very stately dogs compared to our playful grandpuppy.

We left in four batches from Manchester but first Steve arrived back from Canada after a 9 hour nonstop drive, only minutes after Tessa had left for work on the five-something train to Boston. We left Steve sleep and so we did not see him. Axel took care of the estate, again, and some medical issues, I telecommuted, Reinout worked on what looked like an academic paper (he is after all a professor) and the  boys discovered Singing Beach.

At 1:30 I set out in the first car with Reinout and Maurits. We were bent on beating the Friday summer exodus from Boston to the north. We succeeded fairly well after comparing experiences with the cars that followed at 3:30 from Lobster Cove (Axel and Michiel), at 4:30 from Boston (Tessa, Steve and Chicha) and at 5:30 (Sita and Jim),from Lobster Cove.

As the advance troops we checked in, reconnoitered the place, assigned sleeping places, bought and cooked dinner and welcomed all the subsequent arrivals with cold beer, gin tonics or wine; we had already finished the chips, something I had forgotten about teenage boys (it’s contagious). Maurits had bought the Dutch Chocolate icecream to remind him of his homeland.

It’s 6 in the morning now. Except for Reinout everyone is still sound asleep. He is checking out the wifi that is supposedly here by walking around with his computer. I am sitting at a picnic table looking at the fast flowing brook and recovering from a difficult night that produced a sore arm and shoulder. I did not have the right pillow arrangement around my shoulder and I am paying for that now.

We do find the best spot for the wifi which is also the place where the mosquitoes congregate so that each hit of the keyboard has to be alternated with a hit of a mosquitoe on one body part or another. We are waiting for the sun to chase them all away.


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