Beacon Hill, Boston, MA





Our second Historic New England stop was Otis House, which sits right at the foot of Beacon Hill, in Boston.    What I didn’t know about Beacon Hill was that it was once one of three mountains in this part of Boston.  The other two were taken apart for fill, and Beacon Hill itself had about sixty feet taken off its top.    I’d always know that parts of Boston were built on fill, but I’d never seen a map – that was included in the setup to the tour, and was rather eye opening.     Quite a bit of Boston wasn’t there five hundred years ago.


Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House -Gloucester, MA
















We joined Historic New England last year (our gateway being Hamilton House).     We’ve worked our way through several Maine and New Hampshire properties, and decided to take advantage of a friend’s cookout in the Boston area to add a few Massachusetts properties to the list.     The first was Beauport, which ended up being even more fantastic than the write up led me to believe it would be.

Henry Sleeper was one of the first true interior designers, and the house is a showcase of his work.    And one of the things he did was find old colonial houses that were being torn down, and repurpose the interiors, like the paneling, or old doors.     It’s got a very particular aesthetic in the collections on display, and was just so cool to walk through.     We plan on coming back for one of the special three hours tours that they do that allows you to see every room.    (You only get the highlights on the regular tour, but they’re plenty interesting.)

Dawn of the Dreadfuls – Steve Hockensmith

This book is a prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and I only picked it up because I didn’t have to pay for anything.   I’ll admit to having no expectations, but it was actually not too bad.

It’s a couple years before the action of Pride and Prejudice, and the Bennett girls have no idea their father was a famous zombie fighter because England thought they beat the zombies, and the fighters were more or less forced to go back to gentile life.    Unfortunately, the zombies are back, so the Bennett girls get a crash course in zombie fighting, and Lizzie finds herself with two suitors – their new fighting master, and a scientist who’s trying to solve the zombie problem with experimental principles.

The original P&P & Zombies is far better, because it combined so much Jane Austen with just enough to bring the zombies into the story.     This goes wildly afield of anything Austen would have written, but it’s at least an entertaining read.

Further Adventures in Domesticity

I haven’t done any canning in ages – and still haven’t.   But my mother got two quart sized take out containers of sour cherries right before she was going to leave the state, so she left them with me.    I ended using David Lebovitz’s No Recipe Cherry Jam because I didn’t have enough fruit to make a full sized, cannable batch.

This stuff is amazing.    Like I want to buy a house so I have a yard in which I can plant a sour cherry tree because that’s probably the only way I’m going to be able to cook with these in any amount of bulk without spending tons of money, amazing.    The hypothetical orchard just got bigger…

The Dream Thieves – Maggie Stiefvater

I am liking this series so much more than the Shiver books, which was my original intro to this author.   In fact, I’d say that Shiver is probably not like the rest of her work, because I’ve liked everything else I’ve read of hers so much more than that book would have lead me to believe I could.

In the last book, we found out that Ronan Lynch could bring things out of his dreams – this book explores that really means.     There’s side action to further the plot to find Owen Glendower, but this book is really all about Ronan.      And Ronan is really screwed up.     I think that’s what I’m liking so much about this series – it’s YA, but it’s not a perfect little romance between some girl and some supernatural creature.    Instead, there’s a cast of really complicated, and flawed characters.      This book  introduced a hit man named Mister Gray, who I really hopes stays on, because his presence is definitely keeping the interesting characters coming.

And that’s all I’ll say about that.     Half the fun of this series is seeing what’s going to happen next, because I really don’t know.

Amphigorey – Edward Gorey

This book is a collection of shorter works that Gorey had done over the years – if you like his work (which is slightly macabre, and definitely all kinds of wrong), it’s worth a read.

There are a couple different alphabet stories that are completely not meant for children, but are so much fun to read as if they are.    That pretty much sets the tone for the other works in the book.  The nice thing is they’re all rather short, so you could use this as a good intro to Gorey’s work.

The Sanctuary Sparrow – Ellis Peters

This Brother Cadfael book kicks off with a young juggler, hired to perform at the wedding of the local goldsmith’s son, being chased into the Abbey in front of a mob accusing him of having killed the goldsmith.   Lilliwin’s a slight young man, who does not look like a murder, so Brother Cadfael is on the case.

What unfolds is a really sad story – the goldsmiths’ family, though wealthy, has always been rather parsimonious, and that past is what causes the real murder of this book (the goldsmith was just hit over the head, and makes a recovery).

This ends up being probably the most tragic of these books (at least so far).     It’s also probably one of the most true to its time – this murder makes perfect sense within the family structures of the 12th century.    It’s a really good story – the kind that makes you think for a while when you’re done, and have put it down.