Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Cannons and Old Stuff



Dec. 21

Walking seemed to be in order on a bright, mild first day of winter. 

The town where I’m staying, Lewes, has a historic district. I had glimpsed part of it years ago when we took the ferry from Cape May.

I hoped to see more of it.

Of course, on the way I took a wrong turn. But like most wrong turns, that’s all right. This one put me into Cape Henlopen State Park. 

The park is on the site of several artillery batteries designed to protect Delaware Bay during World War II. They are part of a string of coastal installations known collectively as Fort Miles.

The state has restored several buildings and an observation tower. The buildings were open today, and were empty. I was hoping to climb the tower, but the door was padlocked.


Several pieces of artillery are also on display. None, I believe, is original to the site. One, a huge 16-inch gun, was actually used by the Navy on the battleship Missouri

There’s a photo of the Japanese surrender, and according to the caption, this is the center barrel in the lower turret, which you can see in the background.

Fort Miles was built in something like two years. Some of the heavier guns were on railcars, so construction must have included putting down some track.

The place opened in 1941 and was abandoned in 1960. The pine forest has had plenty of time to grow back, so it looks like some of the artillery on display is about to attack the woods.


The park was fairly busy, considering that it was the middle of a work week in the off-season. Some of the visitors may have been retired people like me out for some exercise.

Others didn’t fit that mold. A lot of younger people, for instance.

There is a sign on the path pointing to the High Dunes Overlook, or something with a similar name. Several people seemed to be waiting up there.

I was standing next to a cannon when I found out why. Along  came a bride. No, really. All by herself, with a veil and strapless white gown, trailing her white train, carrying a corsage. 

Maybe she was model for a magazine shoot. I don’t know, but don’t think so.

It wasn’t too cold for December, but still damned cold to be strolling outdside with naked shoulders. But she was doing it. 

I was watching her when a photographer stepped out to take her portrait. I got the hell out of the background as fast as I could.

Historic Lewes (two syllables, by the way, like “Louis”) isn’t far from the park, a couple of miles perhaps. It bills itself as “the first town in the first state.”

Long before William Penn named it for Lewes, England, is was a short-lived Dutch colony in the 1630s, but it was wiped out by the Lenape after only a few years.

Years later some Mennonites started a commune there. The English from Maryland came and burned the place down.


The town also has the oldest standing house in Delaware. It's a little crooked, but still in use. I think the local historical society occupies it. 

The house was built in 1665 and stands on Second Street. It’s named for Ryves Holt, not the original owner, but the most public. He was a judge and assemblyman in the mid-18th century.

The town was shelled by British ships during the War of 1812. According to a sign, the bombardment is believed to mark the first use of the Congreve rocket.

The docent at the local museum pointed out that Lewes was the first place to see the rocket’s red glare, and it also had bombs bursting in air. He’s right about that.

What it didn’t have, though, was Francis Scott Key.

The Lewes Historical Society is pretty active. It owns several buildings, including the Cannonball House, which has been turned into a maritime museum, which was closed today.

The house, at the corner of Bank and Front streets, is the last standing building in Lewes to bear scars from the War of 1812. The brick foundation was hit by a British cannonball. 

You can see where the bricks were patched. The historical society has “restored” the cannonball.


The museum is in a building based on a city hall in Hoorn, Holland. It’s a strangely decorated brick edifice standing by itself at the intersection of Savannah Road and Kings Highway.

It was originally devoted to the original Dutch colony, Zwannendael, which translates to something like “Swan Valley.” 

The building was a state public works project in 1931 marking the 300th anniversary of the first settlement. Because it’s just a few days before Christmas and we are hard by the shore, there are seashells in the wreath on the door.


The museum has two connected rooms, which are now focused on a recent find. A British sloop called de Braak went down in a squall in the 1790s. It carried too much sail for its size, and the captain may have been drunk.

Somehow, what’s left of it was discovered and brought up a few years ago.

Apparently it is a store of information about the British Navy of the time. They were surprised, for instance, to discover ceramic dishes that the enlisted men used at meals. 

There were also pieces that officers would have used. They are believed to have provided their own dinnerware, so it’s considerably fancier.

It’s pretty remarkable the shape the ceramics are in when you consider all that this stuff went through. Some bowls are just about whole. Others broke but enough pieces were found to paste together.

There were several small artifacts—buttons, brass fittings for weapons, pipe bowls, and so forth. 

About a third of the ship’s hull was recovered. The docent said it is on display in a special environmentally controlled wet room at Cape Henlopen State Park. 

I went back to Rehoboth Beach for dinner. Next to its brew pub, Dogfish Head operates a restaurant called Chesapeake and Maine.

I didn’t confirm this, but suspect that the name reflects the menu, which is heavy on oyster, crab, and lobster.

I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so I had to be careful. I get so hungry that I want to order one of everything. 

So I ordered one smoked lobster deviled egg. When it came, it had a tail of parsley and very thin slices of radish on top. It looked like a toy beetle.

It was smoky and delicious, though. I’m not crazy about lobster, but in this it was a slight flavor perhaps. I didn’t take a bite and think “lobster.” If I come back, next time I’ll take half a dozen.

I took a flyer and ordered crab cakes. I don’t care where you are. That’s always a risk. 

More often than not you get a mealy patty with a hint of crab. I’ve been served junk like that even on the Maryland shore.

These were OK. I like huge lumps of crab barely held together by the binder. These were reasonably crabby and quite tasty. I could enjoy having them again.

They came with bacon hushpuppies and a carrot puree. The puppies had a bit of heat. The carrot was a pleasant alternative to mashed potatoes.

I had two Dogfish Head beers new to me. One is Seaquench, which the company calls a sour. It isn’t a true sour, which would use a wild yeast strain, but instead gets most of its tartness by the introduction of limes and sea salt. Nonetheless, it was a very enjoyable drink.

I also had a pint of a stout called Beer for Breakfast. It has coffee, like Founders Breakfast Stout. Unlike Founders, it has no chocolate, but adds maple syrup and scrapple.

C’mon. Scrapple in beer? I have to try that at least once. As expected, it’s a sweet stout, so I wouldn’t want to drink more than one in an evening. 

Power of suggestion may have kicked in, of course, so it was fun. I may have one again sometime.

Dec. 22

The drive home was crowded, more so than I’d expect on a Thursday morning. 

There were a few crazies out, too.

One joker in Delaware came right up on my bumper doing about 70. He was crossing behind me to reach the exit lane. 

A damned panic to get off the highway, it seemed. But no, he passed several cars on the right and, just before the exit lane veered off, cut in front of somebody else to keep going north.

On the Garden State Parkway near Irvington there is a really bad stretch. Northbound traffic is dividing into lanes to get to slots at the toll plaza. 

There are lanes for exact change, lanes that make change, and lanes that take Easy Pass only. Some lanes are closed. While you’re looking for the right lane to aim for, one traffic lane disappears, another becomes exit only and there is another that is merging traffic into the flow.

Somebody who wanted to get off at that exit before the toll was in the wrong lane. He stopped. Stopped dead.

The guy behind him couldn’t believe it any more than I did. We both hit the brake because we had no idea what was going to happen.

But God watches out for drunks and fools. Well, maybe not the captain of de Braak, but most of the time. That’s why I have lived to get this old. It’s also why there was no collision right then.

A little farther up the Parkway, someone else wasn’t so lucky. His car had been rear-ended and there was just a gaping hole where his trunk used to be.

Bad for the car, but good for the driver. The destruction of the trunk absorbed a lot of the crash energy. That’s why there was no ambulance at the scene. A man who may have been the driver was standing next to the wreck and talking to a policeman. 

Somebody managed to drive an SUV clear off the exit ramp between Interstate 80 and U.S. 46 in Wayne. A wrecker, protected by two police cars, was pulling the vehicle out of the woods.

The wreck was almost facing the wrong way. I wonder how the driver managed that.

I got back to Fairfield in one piece. I just finished some eggplant parm and a salad from Hollywood Pizzeria. I am drinking cheap Chianti. Life is sweet.

So remember now: It’s all right to be a little foolish (or drunk) now and then. God’ll watch out for you.

Good night all.

Harry


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Dogfish Pilgrimage



December 19

I’ve been whisked away to Delaware, just like Wayne and Garth. It’s not as improbable a destination as it sounds at first. The Dogfish Head brewery is here. It turns out some the best ales made in perhaps the world.

It’s not hard to find: the Garden State Parkway to the New Jersey Turnpike to the Delaware Memorial Bridge, a short stretch of I-95 to Delaware State Highway One. That’s a drive of three and a half hours to the Sleep Inn in Lewes. 

About five miles south is Rehoboth Beach, where Dogfish Head has two restaurants. 

Maybe 10 miles the other way is the brewery.

After I checked in, I went to the brewpub, officially Dogfish Head Brewing and Eats, in Rehoboth Beach. 

Larry went to grad school down here, so when I told him where I was going, he grew immediately nostalgic, and that’s how I learned to pronounce “Rehoboth.” Stress is on the second syllable. “Ho” is the Cantonese equivalent of “good.” And how.

The street is dark and most of the signs are dim, so I had to make a couple of tries to find the place. I drove all the way to the beach and then came back up the other side before I saw a shark on the sign.

It was worth the trouble.

I had a juicy steak with potatoes and carrots on the side. Of course, food merely helps me stay alive. Beer is what makes it fun.

They had beers on tap I had never heard of. Alternate Takes 3 is an India pale ale with a citrus edge. The bartender said it is made with citra hops and has no citrus fruit in the mix.

Two of my favorite Dogfish Head ales are the 60 Minute and 90 Mintue IPAs. They are named for the brewing times. The longer they’re simmered, the stronger the ale.

The bar had a 75 Minute IPA, a blend of the 60 and the 90. It was a cask ale, meaning that it was naturally carbonated in the keg. It came across as not too strong, but had a familiar Dogfish Head flavor.

Auto Reverse is described as a Belgian syle ale using yeast with clove and pepper notes. It brews for an hour with Simcoe and Palisades hops. The result is a strong, mouth-filling flavor. 

I came back to the Sleep Inn with a four-pack of Midas Touch. This is an ale with a mix of fruit flavors in the background.

They call it an ancient ale, and similar to some of the Sierra Nevada ancients, the recipe is the result of analyzing drinking vessels from antiquity. The ones used for this ale were supposedly from the court of King Midas.

It was on the sweet side, but I loved it. Maybe that’s the power of suggestion. After all, this is the beer that King Midas drank with his steak.

Dec. 20

I stayed in the room till 2 or so to take care of personal business. Then being curious, I headed back to Rehoboth Beach to see what it looks like in daylight.

It’s about half closed up now, but it is a cute place. Lots of little businesses that appeal to tourists, clothing, jewelry, art prints, souvenirs, junk. Every third storefront advertises pizza.



The boardwalk is a mile long, and just about everything is closed there. The main street, Rehoboth Avenue, is about two-thirds open.

I wound up walking a couple of miles on the boardwalk and the avenue. So after all that sea air and exercise, I was more than ready to be my usual self.

I drove to Milton and went to the brewery. They were starting a tour when I got there. The man at the desk took me into the brewery to  join the tour that was just starting.

This was my first trip through a brewery. I had to put on safety goggles. 

I read a book decades ago about brewing and am not sure how accurate it was. If I remember right, the author said the difference between lager and ale is that one uses hops and the other doesn’t. I may be misremembering what I read so long ago, but that is definitely wrong.

The yeast for ale works at a higher temperature. I think the tour guide said they keep the vats at 67 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Lager runs cooler, somewhere in the mid-50s, and takes longer.

We saw wooden vats where some of the ales are aged. Two of them are made of a wood called Palo Santo, which comes from Paraguay.


We toured the warehouse with the bottling and kegging lines. 

Except for the cask ales, the beer in a keg is flat. It is force-carbonated at the tap. A CO2 line injects gas into the beer as it comes through the tap.

I’ve mentioned nitro beers, like Guinness. That’s where the nitrogen is introduced into the beer, at the tap.

The brewery has added a station to reclaim its brown and grey water. They put it into a huge tank and add yeast. Brewers, remember, know all about yeast.

The yeast consumes the impurities of the water and pretty much turns it into methane, the main component of natural gas. They not only clean the water, but reclaim the methane.



They flare some of the gas, but I wasn’t able to learn why. 

The tour ended back at the tasting room. On the way we passed a metal structure called the Tree House, which is the photo of the day. 

I later learned that it is a relic of a Burning Man festival. Somebody built it in the desert for the event, and then offered it for sale. The company bought it for a dollar and spent another 30,000 to have it shipped and rebuilt. 

At the bar, they give you a card and you can write the names of four beers on it. They give you 4-ounce pours of your choices.

So you get a free pint at the end of the tour.

Pennsylvania Tuxedo is a “spruce-infused pale ale.” I guess that’s what spruce tastes like, a bit sweet and astringent. It was an interesting flavor, but I’m not sure about taking a full pint of it.

I had a different Alternate Takes IPA (there are three). This one is a pale amaber liquid. It has a flowery aroma and a good balance of malt and hops.

Burton Baton imperial IPA runs about 10 percent alcohol. It was very strange. It was too sweet on the first sip and then seemed less so on the second. It has a mild spicy aroma.

Palo Santo Marron, a dark brown beer aged in those vats made of wood from Paraquay, is thick and sweet. Not so cloying as the Guinness syrup they serve in Asia, but not my favorite Dogfish Head brew. It is in the barley wine league at 12 percent alcohol by volume.

There is a block of palo santo wood behind the bar. Mike, the guy drinking next to me, asked to have it brought out. He works at the brewery.

The block is very heavy and has a pleasant fragrance. There’s a pock mark in it. Mike and the bartender told me that somebody demonstrated the strength of the wood by firing a 38-caliber hollowpoint into it. The bullet cut a dent that’s maybe a quarter-inch deep.


I stayed around for two more samples. Punkin Ale is flavored with pumpkin and spice, which are far in the background. If you weren’t looking for them, you might miss them. That’s good.

Fall on Me is a seasonal pale ale flavored with apple, spice, and other stuff. It’s surprisingly OK. The flavors blend, and it is reminiscent of an ancient ale.

Mike, by the way, claims to be the only man married in the Tree House. He and his wife were married there a year or two ago.

I stopped at a place recommended at the bar for fish and chips. It’s called Go Brit.

No Dogfish Head selections there, so I had a Fuller’s London Pride.

I’m working on a four-pack of Dogfish Head 90 Minute right now, so life is good. When I wake up, I’ll decide what I’m going to do tomorrow.

Hell, life is good even when it sucks.

Love to everybody. I hope the season is treating you well.

Harry





Tuesday, November 22, 2016

El Dia de los Muertos



Nov. 2-3

Wednesday was All Souls, and also our last day on this trip to tour San Francisco.

We decided to go back to Fisherman’s Wharf to look at the bay and the sea lions. That meant we went back to the streetcar F line.

The streetcars here run on tracks like old times because they are old-time cars. Some may date back to the 1940s or possibly earlier.

Our first ride on the F was a few days ago. The fare machine wasn’t where I expected it to be, and I tried to hand cash to the driver.

“You don’t hand money to the driver. There’s no place in North America where you hand the fare to the driver.” 

OK.

He pointed to where the machine was, behind a screen just behind his seat.

Other passengers from out of town got onto the car without the right change. A couple tried to put fives into the bill slot. 

That got the driver really upset, because he had to explain at several stops that the machine takes singles only.

When he stopped to change places with his relief driver, just before we reached the piers, he exchanged a few remarks about cars he found difficult to drive.

I felt sorry for the guy, walking around with all that angst, but it was also kind of funny.

So anyhow, the F rolls up on Wednesday morning, and it’s the same driver. I was an old hand by this time. I had been on the F at least twice before.

I was even able to make change for a couple who only had a five. I felt so sophisticated to be ready with all those dollar bills to make bus fare in a distant city.

The car went up Market Street and after a few blocks had to come to a halt. There was a Ryder truck with the flashers on double-parked and blocking the tracks.

The driver starts by blowing the horn. “Nobody is supposed to stop on the tracks. What am I supposed to do? I can’t go around him.”

He jumps out of the streetcar and shouts at some people on the sidewalk, “Who’s truck is that?” 

Of course, nobody knows.

He runs up to the truck. Nobody’s inside.

A few seconds later the truck driver shows up and moves it out of the way.

Greenhorn passengers who don’t know how to pay their fares; self-centered truck drivers who shut down traffic: That poor streetcar driver doesn’t seem to get any luck.

He finally got a break a few minutes later. Just before the piers he changed places with a relief driver.

The streetcar comes to the bay shore at Pier 1. I believe the street that follows the piers is the Embarcadero. The name may be related to “embark,” as in “get onto a ship.”

I don’t know. I’m making that up, but it sounds right.

Fisherman’s Wharf is at the far end.

One of the attractions of Fisherman’s Wharf is Pier 39. Restaurants, bars, jewelry stores, a carousel, house of mirrors, it has just about anything you need at a bay shore. There is a marina, which is used by commercial fishermen each winter during the herring season. (Or is it cod? I can’t remember.) It is filled with yachts 10 months of the year.


There are also anchored rafts where sea lions congregate. There are dozens of them, stretching their necks and barking, sleeping in the sun, climbing over each other, or playing in the water.

Sometimes a few will wander down to the piers where the ferries load. 

Signs dotted around Pier 39 relate some of the history of the place. A man named Simmons, the Taco King, got the idea of taking a derelict structure that had become the resting place of cast-off major appliances, and turning it into an entertainment hub for tourists and locals.

It took years, millions of dollars, lots of loans, and the sale of Mr. Simmons’s Tia Maria taco chain to get it done.

After it opened, there were lawsuits trying to shut it down. 

That was years ago, and there are still signs of some lingering bitterness. One of the signs on the pier says the cable cars stop three blocks short of the Wharf only because businesses along those three blocks have lobbied the city not to extend the tracks.

Maybe some of them were among the plaintiffs trying to close the Pier  39 decades ago. I don’t know.

We saw the sea lions, the ferry boats go in and out, and a juggling comedian who could put his body through a squash racket (an unstrung racket, that is). We also ate what might be the world’s best clam chowder at a place called the Seafood Market, or something like that.

A city map that we had seen somewhere had a section labeled the Mission District. The name was familiar, but that’s all. I looked it up and found that it is the neighborhood with San Francisco’s oldest surviving building, part of the original Mission of Saint Francis of Assisi.

The district was a center of punk rock culture in whatever decade punk rock was popular. 

A photo on the Mission District web page showed people in costumes for the Day of the Dead. I was looking at this on the morning of Nov. 2, el actual Dia de los Muertos. I love coincidences.

A little more searching told me that there would be a Day of the Dead festival at Garfield Square from 4 till 11 that very day.

So after our foray to the Wharf, we came back to the hotel for a rest and then got the BART train to 24th Street and Mission Street.

It was a short walk to the square from there. We arrived at last light. Families and organizations had set up altars with candles and offerings to the dead. Signs welcomed our ancestors, who come to visit on this feast day.

Many of the altars had photos of friends or family members. Others were devoted to celebrities, ranging from Elvis Presley to David Bowie.

People could write names of the dead on a wall. There were strings where anyone could hang a wish or a prayer for a dead loved one. One note said “We love you, Grandma”; another, “I love you, Prince.”

Many people, including a band of women singing and playing Mexican folk songs, wore costumes and had their faces painted to look like skulls. 

Along with the tall votive candles, the altars were decked with skulls, feathers, flower petals, symbols of both the living and the dead.


We were invited to light a candle at an altar that gave me another back-in-Asia moment. It combined symbols of Hinduism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Judaism (well, maybe not Kosher Judaism, because Heberew letters, yodh hey waw hey, spelled out the unspeakable name of God), Islam, and some I’m not sure of.

We also lit small votives at another table altar. 

A group called Intactivists had set up a shrine to some of their supporters who had died. Signs referring to “child mutilators” were terrifying, but became less so when we realized that the organization was protesting infant circumcision.

We had hoped to see, or maybe join, the procession that was supposed to begin sometime between 7 and 8. But it was getting late with no sign of a parade forming. So we decided to go back to the neighborhood of the hotel for dinner.

We had an early wake-up call in the morning. Two hours before our flight was 8:30 a.m., so we had to get a train a little after 7. I’m not used to being out at that hour anymore.

On the way back to the station, we bought a small loaf of pan de muertos, a festive bread, coated with sugar and flavored with cinnamon, made only on All Souls.

We decided to go to Cesario’s again. We climbed the almost vertical stretch of Mason Street to build up an appetite. Joanna had the penne with eggplant that I had enjoyed before. I had spinach ravioli. 

Both dishes were fantastic. When I’ve had spinach ravioli before, the filling was still mostly ricotta, flavored with a touch of spinach. 

Not so these ravioli. They had strings of spinach inside and more spinach in the sauce. If I have this too often, it’ll turn me into a ravioli snob.

We had the same wines as before, the Chianti and nero d’Avola, and a California pinot noir. They were all excellent.

Pinots from California have a spicy edge, especially at the end. The nero was a little sharper than many I’ve had, and oddly enough, the Chianti had less acid than most.

Five a.m. comes early. I used the coffeemaker in the room to help me wake up. We were ready to go by 7, well ahead of schedule.

We were in the station to catch the 7:13 train to SFO, half an hour earlier than our original target train. 

Things can’t go that smoothly unless there’s something wrong. Turns out, our 10:40 plane was nowhere near on time. Our flight was already scheduled with an hour’s delay when we checked in. 

Most of the retaurants at the airport are clip joints. I mean, $12 for a bowl of oatmeal at a self-service counter? Come on.

We had great muffins, yogurt, and some sourdough at a Boudin’s counter. 

Then we waited for the plane, which didn’t leave until past noon.

I did get a chance to power up my computer battery, though.

At this exact point in writing the flight is more than half finished, approximately seventeen-twentyeighths.

          •     *     *

We made it through the airport and then had another wait, this time for baggage. The airport is not only run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is a storehouse of political appointees, but it is also in Newark, where everybody seems to resent having to work for a living.

The bags finally started to show up on the conveyor, and after that things started to pick up. We didn’t even have to wait for a cab. We got one right away.

We made it to Egan’s for dinner shortly after 10, and just in time. The kitchen was due to close in 20 minutes. 

But they had oysters; they had beer; they had beef. I was happy. 

They had salmon and that made Joanna happy.

Happy trails, gang.


Harry


Halloween and All Hallows




Oct. 31-Nov. 1

Monday we decided to go back to the Asian Art Museum, to see some of the galleries we didn’t have time to visit before. This time we walked to Market Street to skip the Tenderloin.

But there was still plenty of street theater. One old guy in an electric wheelchair, for instance, was serenading the world at large with salsa recordings cranked up into distortion.

He was riding the sidewalk and shaking his shoulders in time to the music. He looked smug as hell, like the life of the party instead of a minor public nuisance.

We approached the museum this time by a different route that took us past the Settlers Monument. My favorite part is the section labeled “Early Days,” which at a distance looks like a Spanish grandee and a padre trampling a local Indian. 


A closer look tells you that the first impression is pretty close. The grandee is looking far into the distance, maybe sizing up the property he is about to seize. The priest is leaning over the Indian, who is lying on the ground, and preaching at him.  

Next to that is a small park with equipment that has fun with sound. 

One is a frame in which you get long boards rocking. They make a clicking noise and when you get them rocking out of sync, you can walk between them and hear how they resemble the footsteps of a crowd. 

The other is even more fun, long tubes that return an echo. They also let you carry on a conversation in your normal voice when Joanna is a hundred feet away.

The strangest thing, though, came as a surprise. When you clap your hands, you don’t just hear the slap of your palms returning. The echo also a sharp ping, much like a movie sound effect for a bullet ricochet.

We came to the steps of the museum and something wasn’t quite right. We looked at the door and discovered that the place is closed on Monday.

The Asian Art Museum is on McAllister, which is also where the No. 5 bus goes on the way to Golden Gate Park. We would go there, maybe to the California Academy of Sciences.

A lady on the bus heard us talking about it and checked on her cellphone. The de Young was closed, but the Academy was open.

So far, so good.

The bus driver set us down at Eighth Avenue and told us to take the No. 44 bus to the Academy. We did that.

Monday was Halloween. We saw people everywhere in costumes. A lady working for the Segway tours concession in the park was wearing red pajamas and a silver fright wig. People working in stores often wore cat’s ears. We later saw a little girl done up as a bumble bee.

We found that the Academy of Sciences wants $30 a head for a ticket. We were going to be in the museum for a couple of hours. For that kind of money, I want something with live music and alcohol.

We walked the park, looking at the sculpture, which in this area was mostly devoted to music and literature—statues of Goethe, Schiller, Cervantes, and Beethoven, for instance. 

There was a major monument to Francis Scott Key and the “Star-Spangled Banner,” which was still called “the national song.” It didn’t become the national anthem until 1931. The monument was unveiled in 1888.

The park map had something nearby called the Shakespeare Garden. It is a small fenced area with various trees and plants mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays.

The trees have what appears to be Spanish moss on them. It’s the only place I’ve seen it out here. I don’t remember reading anything about Spanish moss in Shakespeare.

[Editor’s note: Harry later learned that there are other forms of mossy growth that form on trees. One, usnea, is also known as old man’s beard.]

A structure in the back of the garden has bronze plaques with hundreds of quotes from Shakespeare referring to trees, flowers, and herbs.

We walked around Stow Lake to the boathouse for a bite to eat and then decided that we’d had enough walking for a while, so we headed toward the bus stop.

We got on the wrong bus, of course. Right number but wrong direction. All we had to do was cross the street to fix it. After that getting back was easy.

We went downstairs to Foley’s for dinner. The place was packed for Halloween. A waitress snapped a photo for a couple at the next table who wore matching skeleton pajamas. 

There was a table in a separate room where everyone was impressed when a lady showed up as a lion.

I finished the night by closing Bartlett Hall at midnight. 

Tuesday the art museum was open, so we walked down Market Street again.

We passed groups of idle men. Street aromas mixed the fragrance of cannabis with human piss. 

I saw something that I had never seen before. 

A woman crouched on the sidewalk and started looking intensely up and down the street. She was shielding a man who leaned against the wall of the Federal Office Building and worked a syringe in his arm.

We made it to the museum without injury, and this time we started on the second floor in the Chinese galleries. 

We saw ancient porcelains, several of which are more than 1,000 years old; ivory carvings of legendary historical figures and of the Eight Taoist Immortals; paintings old and new of landscapes, plum blossoms, and the fungus of immortality.

Lots of bats, too, because the word for bat, fu, is a pun on “happiness.”


Much of this stuff was fascinating, like an intricately carved drinking cup made from a rhinoceros horn or a lotus root carved into a procession following a trail up a forested mountain.


But the most fascinating for us is called “Collected Letters.” It was commissioned by the museum for a corner of a gallery. It combines Roman alphabet letters with Chinese radicals. 

The characters are white porcelain and hang from the ceiling at various levels. There are more than 1,500 pieces in all.

The artist said he chose letters as the motif because, before it was a museum, the building was a public library.


It is a fascinating thing to watch. It is unexpected, in a corner next to a pillar, and unlike anything else in the place. The breeze raised when someone walks by causes the letters to sway slightly.

We also had time to see the Southeast Asia rooms on the third floor. Thai and Cambodian Buddhas, a video of Angkor Wat. It was like old home week. 

Being primed by Asia, we headed to Chinatown for dinner. We met a trio of musicians playing stringed instruments on the street.

They gave us a card and recommended a restaurant nearby on Washington Street. So we went there.

The cod with black bean sauce was tasty enough. The claypot of mixed vegetables and vermicelli was OK, but a little on the bland side for me. Joanna, who really enjoys vegetable dishes, was satisfied with it.

I think all this museum walking has gotten to me. I didn’t even want a beer tonight. 

That’s all right, though. I probably had enough yesterday to last at least a couple of days.

I’m packing it in soon.

Good night to all.

Harry