Tag Archives: summer vacation

Who are the people in your neighborhood?


After spending some quiet moments walking through Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Hartford garden, I turned to my family and said, “It’s time for Twain!” while I walked across Stowe’s backyard to Twain’s home.  That’s right.
They were neighbors

MT house 3

Remember the Sesame Street Song “Who are the People in Your Neighborhood?”

“Ohhh…  aaaaan… is a person in your neighborhood,
in your neighborhood,
in your neigh-bor-hood.
An author is a person in your neighborhood.
A person that you meet  each day.

The Stowe family and the Clemens family were neighbors.  Harriet could walk out her backdoor across the lawn to borrow a cup of sugar from Samuel.

Mark Twain’s family did not just live in this home.  They had it designed and built for them.
And, yes, you can imagine him writing Huckleberry Finn in one of those upper rooms because he did!

MT house 2

The cost of tour tickets was prohibitive for our family of five.  We decided to walk the grounds and spend time in the museum.MT house

The museum and gift shop entertained us with details of Twain’s life.  For example, we learned that Samuel Clemens took his future bride Olivia to see Charles Dickens perform!  We also enjoyed reading many of the humorous quotes attributed to the novelist.  One of my favorites was
Clothes make the man.  Naked people have little or no influence on society.”

Quickly it was time for us to return to our van and continue with our travels, but not before I got a chance to see what it felt like to wear that famous white suit.

C as MT


Want to learn more about Twain’s home in Hartford, CT?  Visit their website.  It was there that I enjoyed taking the virtual tour  of home’s interior.


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What I did on my summer vacation…


What did I do on my summer vacation?
I threw a whaling harpoon.
“Excuse me,  You did what?” you say.
Let me go back to the beginning.

Last week my family spent a day at Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea in Mystic, CT.  This outing was my husband’s idea.  I get motion-sick at the very thought of the ocean, so I figured it would be a day consisting of me holding the camera while my family scrambled over various boats, but this beauty immediately got my attention.Charles W Morgan side view

This is the Charles W. Morgan–the last wooden whaling ship in the world.  That’s right.  A whaling ship!  The last one in the world!  The Morgan is the flagship of Mystic Seaport.  You can understand how memories of Moby-Dick came flooding back.  I was so excited to see a real whaling ship that I didn’t even care we couldn’t board her.  You see, the Morgan is not young, and she’s undergoing some serious repairs to be ready for her launch later this month.  To learn about the restoration of the whaling vessel, click here.

Charles W Morgan

After admiring the Morgan my enthusiasm for ships grew and I snatched the map from my hubby, insisting that we head over to a dock where a whale boat demonstration would be taking place, complete with sea chantey singing.

whaling boat

Each member of the demonstration team spoke about what his position entailed: from officer to harpooneer.
I even got a chance to take a turn in Queequeg’s spot.


As soon as the demonstration was over, I played tour guide in the Whaleboat Exhibit and showed my children some of the tools of the trade.whaling cutting tools

Have you ever seen the beef or pork diagrams near the meat counter of your grocery store?  The ones that show the various cuts of meat?  Here’s one for sperm whales.

whale diagram

The next part of my Moby-Dick immersion experience was in the cooper’s shop.  A cooper is the shipyard’s barrel maker.  You know from reading Melville that whale oil was stored in wooden barrels and that the cooper was one of the highest paid positions on the ship.  Mystic Seaport’s cooper was hired to make all of the wooden containers to outfit the Morgan: everything from large barrels used to store whale oil to small ones used to scoop up gallons of spermaceti from the whale’s head.  The carpenter excitedly shared that last week while he was recycling old barrel parts found in the attic of his shop, he had an experience with whale oil.  Yep.  One hundred year old whale oil came oozing out of the wood in the hot summer sun.  Amazing.cooper

We spent the rest of the day engrossed in the ship-building community, keeping a close eye on the time because at 4:30pm, I got to do this…

Christine harpoon

and then this

Christine throwing harpoon

I speared that floating hula-hoop with all of my might and readied myself for a Nantucket sleigh ride.

And that’s how I got to throw a whaling harpoon on my summer vacation.


Posted by on July 4, 2013 in Moby-Dick


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