First, I had not flown anywhere in ten years and was a bit concerned about the security hassles. Now my sons had recently flown to China and back and reported only mild irritations with the TSA, so that made me feel a little better. And as it turned out, my flights were better than many I had experienced in the past and the TSA were, indeed, a mild irritant at the worst. I got the impression of the TSA agents as people just doing their jobs, and the ones we dealt with at least tried to be helpful in getting us through their checkpoints.
I say all that not to condone the job they do, which is an affront to a (supposedly) free people and meant only to harass travelers. In my sons' China trip, they confiscated a bottle of body wash from them and I lost a Swiss Army knife on one of my flights. No one flies any safer because of such actions, and the full body scanner is just a profit-maker for the already-rich. So those helpful TSA agents were just doing their job to abridge the freedoms that the historic sites of New England attest much sacrifice for.
Even so, in Minneapolis we bought books for the long flights ahead. I bought The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. I've read four chapters so far and my opinion at this point is that it is an EXCELLENT book. This guy writes like I do, at least in terms of themes and plot. Even not having finished it, I highly recommend this book and may feature it in a future newsletter ("The Arbordin Literary Society Newsletter").
Donna bought Empress by Karen Miller and is, so far, not pleased with it, though she's determined to finish it.
So we spent a week in Providence, Rhode Island, staying at the Best Western Airport Inn hotel. Don't laugh. This was a fine, clean, reasonably priced hotel with a great, and free, breakfast. When you're traveling, it's best not to spend your money on accommodations if your interests are elsewhere. That was our case and BW worked out great.
We spent time in Providence and toured Boston, MA. Both struck me as clean, well-managed cities that I felt I could work and live in. Though people drove like rollerball competitors, they were otherwise friendly with an overriding ambiance of tolerance. They provided much food for thought for this southern writer.
In Providence, we visited a Catholic fund-raising event. There was lots of food, music, and beer. The latter amazed me, having been raised a Southern Baptist where liquor was only partaken in private and condemned in public.
Then we spent three days on Block Island, a resort island, with our friends. Block Island is an island indeed, off the coast of Rhode Island in the Atlantic. It is beautiful, with lots of historic buildings of old New England architecture. It all had a Moby Dick feel to me. We stayed at the Waterstreet Inn in a room on the top floor with no air conditioning. We just opened the windows to the cool Atlantic breezes and salt air. It was a marvelous change from the sticky, humid south that invigorated our spirits and moved me to dreams of Longfellow, Hawthorne, and J. F. Cooper.
After our time on Block Island, we toured Boston. We rode a train to get there and at the train station (an omnibus of food stands, tour booths, and bookstores) we bought tickets for a city tour. The tour was in a green-and-yellow bus that took us through the city and to the harbor docks where we took a boat tour through Boston harbor. This was fun, swilling cans of Guiness Draught and vodka on ice as I took pictures of the Boston skyline, the old North Church, and the USS Constitution.
After the boat ride, we lunched in Boston's China Town. I thought it was great, but had to wonder what my sons would think of it, having seen the real thing in China. Well, they're back at Ole Miss and will have to experience it through my photographs.
We left Providence just ahead of hurricane Irene. The synchronicity wasn't lost on us in considering that our sons left Shanghai just ahead of Typhoon Muifa. We made it back home at about 3:00am. After a day's recuperation, we did laundry and prepared for the week, though after a week of new experiences, fellowship with old friends, and a flicker of the possibility of life-lived-better, there can really be no preparation for a return to hopeless drudgery.
But I'm here, at home, writing this journal entry. I picked up a new subscriber to my newsletter (ALSN) during my absence and am grateful for that. I will try to reward my subscribers faith in me with some stimulating newsletters. I expect that my time in New England will provide that effort with some intellectual fodder.