Celebrating First Lady Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams Statue

Maybe it’s because I live in Quincy. The one in Massachusetts, that is. Or because I feel a strong sense of history. Possibly both.

Whatever the reason, whenever there is an election where democracy hangs in the balance, which seems to be every election now; I find myself making a pilgrimage of sorts to places dedicated to the Adams family. One “d” not two! The presidential family, not the fictional funny/creepy one.

Anyway, soon after the 2020 election, we Americans, and probably most of the world, wondered if there would be be a peaceful transfer of power. To calm my nerves, I wandered around the garden at Peacefield. I sat and looked at the most magnificent tree. I thought about the depth of the tree’s roots and the depth of our democracy. Immersed myself into the feel of that place and called on the spirits of this old Quincy family to help democracy hold. Because if anything was important to former presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, it was democracy and this lovely place where they lived.

Because of January 6th, there was not a peaceful transfer of power. However, there was a transfer of power. And thankfully we were spared from another term of the one whose name I don’t want to write.

And here we are again. It’s Saturday, November 12th. The midterm election was only this past Tuesday, but it feels like it was weeks or months ago. Partly because Twitter’s new owner is causing complete chaos. Vote counts continue, so we still don’t know who will control the House or Senate.

Abigail Adams statue and memorial park in Quincy, Massachusetts.

Close up of Abigail Adams statute showing her hand holding a letter.

Last Saturday, the city of Quincy recognized another member of the Adams family with a new statue. This time it was finally for a woman! The magnificent Abigail Adams! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the ceremony that day. According to an article in The Patriot Ledger, the sculptor, Sergey Eylanbekov, also created the nearby John Adams and John Hancock statutes. His work is beautiful.

To vote for this election, I had my ballot mailed to me and on Monday, I dropped it off at Quincy City Hall. The new memorial is right across the street, so I walked by it. While I was there, several other people stopped to look and take pictures. Again, I called on Abigail’s spirit (and the rest of her family!) to help democracy hold, because it’s still faltering.

A couple of years ago, here in the United States, society was toppling, tearing down, removing, renaming and sometimes defacing statues. Most with good reason in my opinion. It’s nice to see someone remembered who was by most, if not all, accounts a kind person, intelligent and forward looking.

Some quick research shows that there may be some disagreement on the day she was born. Most places, including the National Park Service, give the date of November 11, 1744. However other places, including part of the memorial pictured below, give the date of November 22, 1744. The White House just gives the year. Either way, it’s around that time now, so either early or belated 278th birthday Abigail Adams!

Quote by Abigail Adams in letter to John Adams to remember the ladies.

She was our nation’s second first lady, the mother of the sixth president, against slavery and wanted better treatment for women.

One of her most famous quotes, from a letter dated March 31, 1776, to her husband, was memorialized in the picture above. But it’s not the original spelling or the full text as written by Abigail. The Massachusetts Historical Society has archives of her letters and they are available on the website. Below is more from the letter with the original spelling.

“I long to hear that you have declared an independency — and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.”

Abigail Adams was right. We women did have to rebel and did not hold ourselves bound by laws not giving us a voice or representation. Otherwise we would never have gotten the right to vote or the right to own property.

Credit cards were created in 1958, but only for men. Women couldn’t open a credit card in their own names until 1974! We would have never had reproductive choice without rebellion. And we are still fighting. Sometimes the same fight over and over again.

The constitutional right to an abortion was only decided in 1973 and we lost that right just this year. The more things change, the more they stay the same. But just like Abigail, we women have to adjust to our current circumstances so we can survive. Then fight and keep looking to the future.

Coffee Breaks & Other Food Thoughts

coffee breaks and confections

Days and events over the past month have me thinking. About food. About family. About friendship. About time. About what is normal life. About coffee breaks and cafes.

Is this now normal life? COVID numbers remain high and the pandemic continues. But government policies and the actions of most people indicate that society has moved on. I still have not worked in an office building in more than two years. Working from home is easier in many ways and cheaper. Impromptu coffee breaks with colleagues are what I miss the most. I also miss randomly stopping by coffee shops alone.

A few weeks ago, I had a chai date with a friend from law school that I hadn’t seen in about twenty years. She returned to India within a few years after we graduated, so there weren’t that many opportunities to connect in person. One of the last times that I saw her, she made me chai from scratch at her house. Of course it was delicious. One of my favorite memories of her is how we would share snacks in class too. Bonding over food and the law.

This time, we were only able to meet for a short period of time, so we had chai at a Starbucks near me. She looked the same, but had cut her hair and I remembered how she has the best laugh. It was also my first time taking my mask off in a Starbucks since before the pandemic.

A few weeks before, I attended a rehearsal dinner and then a wedding the next day. It was the first time in more than two years that I had eaten in a restaurant and attended a truly large gathering — mostly unmasked. The dinner was delicious. The wedding was amazing. I saw family that I hadn’t seen in years. We talked and danced and laughed. My cousin was the groom and he and his wife are perfect together. I’m so happy they found each other. Our family adored her from the first time we met.

I’m fully vaccinated and double boosted. I timed my second booster with the week of the wedding, so I’d have the highest immunity for this very large gathering. It seems to have worked. Now I’m inching toward whatever this new life is. Will we ever be post-pandemic? Maybe not. So this is it. I’m still uneasy about it all. But I guess I’m starting to move on too.

Since cafe visits are no longer tied with where I’m working, I’m attaching my errands with coffee breaks. I had wanted to visit French Press Bakery & Cafe in Needham since 2019. I’m not usually in that area, but suddenly I needed to be and had a little time to relax. So I enjoyed a cold brew and an almond croissant sitting outside in the sun. I love this place! The area is adorable and full of other restaurants and shops. It’s not too far from Quincy, so I’ll definitely return.

A few days later, I needed to be in Hopkinton, so I paired the errand with a visit to Muffin House Cafe. They also had outdoor seating where I enjoyed my iced coffee and blueberry muffin. This place was jumping! At a certain point, there was a line of people waiting to get in. It’s definitely a favorite local spot!

What’s next on my food journey? Well, it’s not a cafe, but I learned recently that H Mart will soon be arriving in Quincy. I’m so excited! It’s a Korean grocery store and I’m looking forward to trying some different foods. During the pandemic, I started watching a ton of Korean dramas and following several Korean YouTubers. I’ve learned about many Korean dishes and ways of cooking, so there have been foods and ingredients that I’ve been looking for. Now I should have an easier time finding them.

Have you noticed shifts in your daily life to bring back what you’ve missed from before the pandemic or new things you’re bringing in?

The Blizzard of 2022!

snow on balcony

For those of us who are of a certain age living in the Boston area, the Blizzard of ’78 has been the reference point for all snow storms. I’ve seen the generational shift happening in many ways, but it was even more apparent today when someone tweeted that 2015 was the year to reference. Really? I think of 2015 more as a series of storms over a month and not just one storm.

Today’s storm was a whopper though and will be remembered for years to come, so I thought it was worthy of a post. I measured and marked the snow totals by feet on my balcony window. Close to four feet because of the wind and drifts! That’s a whole lot of snow and I wonder how long it will take to melt.

Luckily I kept power through the storm, so I did a bit of blizzard baking. Oatmeal, chocolate-chip and butterscotch-chip cookies for the win!

Home – Outside The Box

new home

No more boxes! I’m officially unpacked and settling into the new place. It’s been just over three weeks since I moved. Things are still being arranged and it will take a while to really be used to being here, but it’s feeling like home.

I’ve always wanted a balcony and finally have one! The unseasonably warm temperatures provided a bit of time to sit outside, enjoy the space and the view. The balcony faces lots of trees, so it’s like I’m looking at my own tiny forest!

Overall the place is bigger and the layout is better, but the kitchen is smaller. Can’t have it all! But I’m making do and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Then I switch up the way I’m using the space, so it’s more comfortable and efficient. I moved the coffee maker around a few times, but think I found a place that works. It was such a relief when I finally found it in the mess of boxes at the beginning!

Even though I’m still in Quincy, I’m in a new zip code! Goodbye 02170 and hello 02169! Before I was closer to Milton and now I’m closer to Braintree. It’s nice exploring new places, especially the food related ones!

As much as the world can be full of turmoil, it feels good to create a sanctuary at home. I’m very grateful.

Free Yoga On The Library Lawn

yoga on the libary lawn

Over the years, I’ve read about many free yoga classes at public libraries in Massachusetts and in other states as well. This morning, I was finally able to attend a free yoga class right here in Quincy, outside on the lawn at Thomas Crane Public Library. This class was the first in a series of community classes taking place each Wednesday morning in September on the library lawn.

It’s hard taking pictures and enjoy the relaxing vibe, but I managed to snap a few.

There was a nice breeze — and lots of bees. Four or five bees hovered over blades of grass in front of me. A few ants made their way onto my mat too, but no stings or bites!

I was beneath a large tree, so there was some shade and bright sun streaming through the branches. There was a mostly clear blue sky with a few wispy clouds floating by. Even though the class was in the morning, it was warm and a tiny bit humid. Perfect weather and a reminder that summer is still here.

There was a good turnout and new arrivals kept showing up through most of the class. We were mostly an older crowd, but there was young woman who arrived towards the end with the cutest little girl. They both got on their mats and dove right into their practice.

From conversation I heard, a few people said this was their first yoga class. Our teacher, Rhiannon Skolnick of Humble Roots Yoga, was enthusiastic and has a gentle soothing way about her.

This might have been my first yoga class since the pandemic started. Possibly the second, but the first this summer. Because I’m vaccinated now and there was a lot of space to spread out on the library lawn, I felt comfortable not wearing a mask. Hopefully the weather will cooperate next week for another wonderful class.