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The question is not what you look at, but what you see – Part Two: F thru J

To recap – I will be leaving this New World on Thursday 1st December, exactly a year after I arrived from Europe.  To celebrate my year here I am making a little tribute to what I will miss and what I won’t miss so much, by way of an alphabetic account surgically divided into five to be posted on my five last days.  If you want to catch up simply type ‘The Question is’ into the search box and you will be magically transported to my plentious tome. Procrastination, get behind me … here come my Foxtrot to Juliet tidily presented in their rightful order:

F.  F is for Freedom.  And before you think I am going into a diatribe about the land of the free or freedom of the individual or freedom of speech, rein in your horse because I’m not.  If you only know me a little by now you surely know that making such political statements is not my style.  Mostly. I’ve got as many dents in my halo as the next girl and satin knickers can make the best of us slide off our pedestal from time to time but in general and particularly when I am a guest (as I have been here), I keep my mouth and my typing fingers taped.  So F is for the Freedom Trail   The Freedom Trail runs through Boston for 2 ½ miles and leads you through the area where as Bostonians have it, history was made and the course of the world changed forever.  And I can’t argue.  In effect what you are seeing are the collection of places that formed the end  of English occupation and rule and successful struggle for Independent free rule for the people who had made this place their home.   That the people are proud of it is entirely justified, athough I do think the term Boston Massacre might be a teeny bit optimistic for a death toll of 5 at the hands of some British soldiers which in terms of modern gun crimes in this country is frankly feeble.  Ooops – sorry, I said I wouldn’t be provocative so on that note I will step decorously back into my gilded cage and recommend anyone who ever has the chance, to visit Boston which is undeniably a beautiful city and assuredly oozes and reeks the history on which this great nation was built.

G.  G is for GobblerIn my recent post on Thanksgiving and Christmas, I talked a fair bit about Turkeys.  What I didn’t mention is that for me, the live wild ones register high on the excitement richter scale when I spot them.  You’ll round a corner and come to a halt as a rafter of them saunter casually from one side of the road to the other, you can spot posses of them pecking idly in gardens and cemetaries and it is common to stumble upon a gang of them in a parking lot seemingly preparing to queue for a donut or pick up some groceries.  The collective nouns for Turkeys, by the way, are rafter, gang or posse which conjures marvellous images of the Wild West for me and a gang of turkeys-gone-bad in secret locations high in the rocky wilderness, plotting their next violent bank robbery whilst the good-guy turkeys collected together by the Pinkertons are gathering in a posse to bring these no-goods to justice.  I haven’t decided whether there are horses involved nor if it is safe to allow them a saloon … would alcohol just make it ugly?  Anyway, back on point – imagine my delight that on Thanksgiving morning, aided by my amazing Allard Brace which enables me to walk and run as elegantly as I did before my accident, which is not to say that I will ever be graceful but simply that it is my normal gait rather than the comedy-clumsy carriage caused by being left with ‘drop foot’, honestly imagine my delight as I lined up to run our local Turkey Trot which is riotously called ‘The Gobbler’.  I truly gave thanks at the end when I picked up my time and it was only seconds slower than I had been before my sorry tale of busted leg woe and that Gobbler has spurred me on to knowing that I can get back to full fitness which in turn means I am able to pursue a couple of personal goals that I had thought had been crushed.  Back to the feathered colossi …. my husband was almost taken out by a low-flying one not so long ago – in the retelling it seemed to resemble one of those huge, lumbering  Lancaster Bombers en route to the Rühr Valley to release Barnes Wallace’s recently perfected bouncing bombs to destroy the Möhner and Edersee Dams.  In this case, the bomber had failed to gain sufficient altitude and was heading straight for the windscreen of the car.  Given the sheer bulk of the birds in question I am confident that a lucky strike would have been extremely unlucky for them both.  I am also relieved that it didn’t release an egg in its moment of horror when eyeball to eyeball with Two Brains it thought it had gobbled it’s last …

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H.  H is for Halloween.  In Britain and in France Halloween is creeping in and becoming a tradition but I can honestly say that Europeans have an awfully long way to go before they can say they are fully conversant with this bad boy.  For a start, I have never EVER seen so many pumpkins.  And practically every house is decorated with jackolanterns and black cats and witches and ghouls and sinister cobwebs and whilst trick or treating is, I am told, mildly on the decline, you still witness tiny, small and slightly larger children dressed as every conceivable and many inconceivable incarnations of their own or their parents imaginings,  with their predictably enormous bags to contain the booty that is on offer at all houses not inhabited by grouches (whose porch lights tend to be forthrightly turned OFF).  Many communities have special events and they are all about Fancy Dress.  If you are a runner, expect to run in costume if an event falls on or around Halloween.  And the next day …. the day that I thought I would nip in and pick up a cut price pumpkin to put out for the critters.  Gone.  Not a pumpkin to be had.  Whether this was because the locust hoards had grabbed every last one or whether it was because they are swept away to make way for Thanksgiving and pies of every conceivable type imaginable (and some that shouldn’t BE imagined) I know not.  But I do know that my smart plan to feed the squirrels backfired and I shall have to be niftier another time.

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H is also for Harvard which in reality is the reason I am here.  Two Brains is a well-seasoned Harvard boffin and has been these past 27 years.  That is why he is here and that, by proxy is why I am here.  But Harvard as you quickly discover is NOT in Harvard.  Harvard is a lovely town just west of where we live and contains a place called Fruitlands Museum which provoked my recent borderline obsession with birds (more later).  Harvard University is in Cambridge which in a personal way is fortuitous.  I’m English born and from Oxford.  Cambridge are Oxford’s arch rivals.  When I was introduced to my husband I presumed, knowing he was a Professor, that when he said he was based in Cambridge he meant OUR Cambridge and although that is a teeny hike West to East in England it is inconsequential in the context of facilitating the possible blossoming of a romance.  Call me slow.  Call me dense, dopey or downright retarded but the fact is that it was quite some while later that I realised that he actually meant Cambridge Massachusetts …. fortunately by that time I was a sufficiently smitten kitten to fling caution aside, ignore the doubters who gave grave warnings about a long distance relationship and these few years later, I can graciously report that it was the best decision of my life.  Kismet dresses in many kimonos but tends to favour an open heart.

I.  I is for Ice-cream.  Mainly it is for Ice-Cream parlours like Erikssons just over our town line.   These shrines open up some time in April each year and close again at the end of summer presumably when the student workforce returns to school.  The array of flavours is staggering and the size of a single scoop is positively swoon-worthy.  I always have two.  On summer nights people gather in their cars and park up in the heat and pick up dessert on the fly.  For me it is the most delightful incarnation of what I imagine American Tradition to be.  I’m from the Happy Days, American Grafitti, Grease era and these places somehow seem to evoke that time in my past when I dreamed of  being in an imagined American dreamland dancing, cruising in an open top car with a bench front seat and being what seemed to be the epitome of free-as-a-bird young.  Envision my glee when my daughter was staying and we took her for one last ice-cream before she flew back to England and a whole platoon of vintage forties and fifties cars paraded into the lot.  The owners were delighted that we wanted to take pictures and affably invited us to sit in the cars ‘that’s the whole point of having it’ said one.  Sadly the pictures are on HB2’s phone and despite having a cavernous intellect he has never been fully in control of a  cell-phone and thus they are entombed and I can only offer my meagre descriptive powers to try and evoke them to life.

J.  J is for Jeopardy.  It’s fair to say that I am obsessed with this iconic quiz show.  Alex Trebeck hosts us 5 or 6 nights a week and I sit glued and giving my answers in the acknowledged style.  For the unititiated this means that if the answer is a person you must preface with ‘who is’ and if it is anything else you preface ‘what is’.  In Britain we had a programme called ‘Mastermind’ and my definition of a triumph was when I answered a question in a contestent’s specialist subject (in other words they were some sort of an expert) round correctly which they either couldn’t answer or got wrong.  My definition of a triumph here is when I can answer a question on Americana correctly that none of the contestants get right.  This tends to bring forth an unseemly whoop and sadistic grin and I transform into something eerily resembling Ghengist Khan after a successful pillage.  And this is probably why it is time for me to take a gracious pause from this country and leave you all in peace for while.  But not before I have noted that J is also for Jelly which I call Jam and Jello which I call Jelly.   And J is for Jiffy-Lube.   This is a national chain and I am sure they are absolutely wonderful but I can assure you that we would never EVER call a place by that name in England for the same reason as in France it is unwise to ask for Vaseline …. we tend to associate the word lube with something you slather on your nethers when the lights are dim, the music breathy and the atmosphere hot.  Which explains why this overgrown schoolgirl has a peurile snigger to self everytime I pass one ….

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PS:  You surely were waiting with breath a-baited for the predictable PS and never one to disappoint, here it is.  Jeopardy first came to my attention unwittingly in the marvellous movie What is ‘The Bucket List’ with the incomparible Who is Jack Nicholson and Who is Morgan Freeman (whose character -Who is Carter Chambers – is as obsessed as I with What is Jeopardy) – here’s a snippet if you care to watch it.

The top and bottom pictures were taken in Spring the second season I experienced here.

84 Comments Post a comment
  1. Kismet favors an open heart.. – love this thought. You are now making me teary eyed about leaving the U.S. and I’m staying. So nice to see our country through your lens.

    Liked by 2 people

    November 28, 2016
    • In the sinister words of Arnie … I’ll be back (or at least that’s the plan) and for longer and whilst we are away I will be enjoying all my US friends company through their blogs and trying to keep a little of me in the frame from France! Thank you particularly for picking out that one line …. as Winnie the Pooh would say ‘it came to me’ but I do rather like it and it is so lovely when people you value are on the same wavelength

      Liked by 1 person

      November 29, 2016
  2. I have read the whole post….but your posse of wild turkey has taken over the imagination.
    I have visions of the chief baddie, complete with black hat and gun belt, batting back the swing doors of the saloon, gobbling ‘whusky!’…and the John Wayne turkey in white hat winning the inevitable fight as the feathers fly…
    I think I should go and lie down now…

    Liked by 3 people

    November 28, 2016
    • I’m SO delighted that you enjoyed the turkeys …. they were my favourite part and may form the basis for a new genre of films …. be gone spaghetti westerns, we have turkey tales! I love your embellishment …. you took those birds to new heights!

      Liked by 1 person

      November 29, 2016
      • As long as they don’t deposit what things normally deposit from great heights….

        Liked by 1 person

        November 29, 2016
      • I think that was probably what terrified the husband the most when confronted with the low-flying bomber …..

        Liked by 1 person

        November 29, 2016
  3. I have often contemplated a bucket list. I’m 2 years or so from the first part, then hopefully you and your other half as guides for the second part as I sail into Paris! (most likely motor into Paris as the bridges are to low and the mast will have to come down) Or Boston harbor then down to New York. Either way, sharing my dream is part of my list.

    Liked by 1 person

    November 29, 2016
    • You are an inspiration in terms of pursuing a bucket list …. the whole point being to actually reach the goals and you are doing it before our very eyes. We will find the right port for you to anchor in and then act as guides for France …. Paris, of course but I think the Northern coastline where the US Army played such a vital role in the liberation and where so many of your countrymen sleep in eternity, and I think you would enjoy a few of the résistance strongholds (I will be writing a bit from Grenoble and particularly le plateau de Vercors which is chilling. Then there is Marseilles which is the ultimate seaport in my opinion and various places in between. We have much to see and do, my friend and I am so fortunate to be looking forward to the opportunity 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      November 29, 2016
      • Your so right…Normandy, Calais and others are indeed on the list. I also have a vision of some small shops in unheard of towns with real people sharing food, wine and local talk. I want to see the real France.

        Liked by 1 person

        November 29, 2016
      • I can certainly show you that …. the reason I am SO wed to my place in France is exactly that. And there are other places too (and places to avoid that claim to be but aren’t the time capsules that I think you would really savour). I shall have to give you a little rudimentary French because where we are going there is no English but they are so forgiving … not at all this stereotype of standoffish. I shall be in Calais 13th December en route to Lille to fetch Brains and Bean who are flying in to Paris and taking the train up to make an easy rendezvous. My route will take me through Dunkerque (Dunkirk) … I’ll take some photos of both to inspire you. I’m not driving into Paris this time (last time I drove into the centre, round the Arc de Triomphe, up the Champs Élysée and traversed the Place de la Concorde before parking at the Pantheon to meet my god-daughter not knowing at all that I had a double broken leg … my husband feels guilty and says I must avoid Paris this time but I can’t for long – it’s a place that I have to inhale slowly from time to time …. there is no place like it on earth.

        Liked by 1 person

        November 29, 2016
      • Paris to me exudes world history and passion for al things graceful and triumphant. I cant wait!

        Liked by 1 person

        November 29, 2016
      • Paris would love that description!

        Liked by 1 person

        November 29, 2016
  4. You do know that Alex Trebeck is actually Canadian…Another interesting read. (Suzanne)

    Liked by 1 person

    November 29, 2016
  5. Just keeps getting better. Thanks for the happy reminder of our visit down the Freedom Trail some years ago. Looking forward to K – O 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    November 29, 2016
  6. The turkey near-collision reminds me of when a peacock ot in my back door and exited through my front lounge room window. They are heavy birds, smashed the window to pieces but never harmed the peacock. Glad to hear that the collision was avoided.

    Enjoyed your other letters, mmm, the thought of the icecream is wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    November 29, 2016
    • Good heavens! I can’t imagine having a peacock running through my lounge!!!! What a tale … I think I need an ice cream!

      Liked by 1 person

      November 29, 2016
      • 🙂 I tired to steer it gently out my kitchen and the back door, but at the last moment it panicked and flew round the corner and out the window. Herding peacocks is difficult!

        Like

        November 29, 2016
  7. Brilliant, brilliant and encore brilliant! Having lived in America I agree with so much of this, especially Halloween, and the Ice Cream Parlours and and and, can’t wait to read the rest of the alphabet. Xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    November 29, 2016
    • Thank you …. I will leave here with a hatful of happy memories and I’m very happy to be stirring up yours! Xx

      Like

      November 29, 2016
  8. You have such a wonderful writing style. I could picture it all so well. Can’t wait for the rest of the alphabet.

    Liked by 2 people

    November 29, 2016
    • Thank you Nadia …. that means a great deal! I’ll try not to be a let-down with the rest ….

      Liked by 1 person

      November 29, 2016
  9. I’m loving this series! There’s a book in here, I’m sure of it!

    Liked by 2 people

    November 29, 2016
    • I’m delighted that you are enjoying it …. a book – hmmmm … I’ll have a ponder!

      Liked by 1 person

      November 29, 2016
      • You could make it a reverse version of A Year In Provence. Only funnier 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        November 29, 2016
      • You have the leetle grey cells a-spinning …. I like this. I like this a lot. Funny that I hadn’t figured it at all … isn’t this why (despite my protestations that I am a hermit) we need others to turn on the lights!

        Liked by 1 person

        November 29, 2016
      • I hope you do turn it into something more, you clearly have a lot of material. The A-Z approach would work well as 26 chapters 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        November 29, 2016
      • I have a little downtime when with my mother …. I can sketch out a skeleton then. Thank you for your faith – it’s hugely appreciated (or enormously if I’m being truly American)

        Liked by 1 person

        November 29, 2016
      • Look forward to developments! And blame me if your mum tells you off for ignoring her. I have ginormous faith in your writing 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        November 29, 2016
      • Fortunately my brother (the baby in her eyes) will be there to distract and he is has some faith in me too …. though probably not ginormous (after all I’m the big sister that made him play ‘Clangers’ complete with tooting hooting noises when we were little)

        Liked by 1 person

        November 29, 2016
      • I’m surprised he still speaks to you after that, and all the years of therapy you must have caused him 😂

        Liked by 1 person

        November 29, 2016
      • He would agree. But he married a Buddhist and fortunately she has taught him the real art of forgiveness!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

        November 29, 2016
      • You have a lot to thank her for! Let’s all chant: om 😇

        Liked by 1 person

        November 29, 2016
      • Why do you think I bang on about gratitude and thankfulness …. I must stress that she is a proper Buddhist (she’s Thai) not what I call Wuudhists (these are Western Buddhists who cherry pick the bits they like and I was married to one rather unsuccessfully 😂)

        Liked by 1 person

        November 29, 2016
      • I’ve never been particularly religious, not since primary school days when it was force fed to us. I know what you mean about people attempting to take on a culture that isn’t natural to them, sorry that you experienced it first hand!

        Liked by 1 person

        November 29, 2016
      • It made me a stronger and better person don’t you know!

        Liked by 1 person

        November 29, 2016
      • Good for you, glad to hear it 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        November 29, 2016
  10. Do you really have satin knickers?
    I’m with Clive. Write a book woman!!

    Liked by 1 person

    November 29, 2016
    • Doesn’t everyone ….. 😉. Thank you for the vote of confidence – thinks for a moment … oh, ok then (cheap tart …. she must wear satin knickers!)

      Liked by 2 people

      November 29, 2016
      • I have taken the waist-high, low thigh, cotton road and refuse to turn back.

        Liked by 1 person

        November 30, 2016
  11. More fun and fascination. Never apologise for rambling off point 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    November 29, 2016
    • OK, sir … I won’t (I’m entirely discursive so its pointless to try and stay on point in fact)

      Liked by 2 people

      November 29, 2016
  12. LOL, Osyth – you are too funny. This post had me laughing at the end – Jiffy-Lube! And I have walked the Freedom Trial, with Gary. Did I ever tell you that Gary is from Boston – it is a small world. Happy Tuesday! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    November 29, 2016
    • Omigod! So Gary says paaaark the caaaaar! I love the Boston Accent! I’m glad you picked up on the Jiffy-Lube …. relieved actually because I worry about causing offense. The Freedom Trail is wonderful and next year I want to join one of the runs they do. With or without brace! Happy Tuesday to you all in Pensacola 😊

      Liked by 2 people

      November 29, 2016
      • Gary still has some of the accent, I do not notice it as much as other people do. I noticed the brace in the above picture – looking good!

        Liked by 1 person

        November 29, 2016
      • It’s slick (the brace …. so lightweight and fits in my shoe and under the ankle which is why I have taken to wearing Doc Martens round town. Gary’s accent is like my husband’s I imagine. I don’t notice it – in fact I hear him as more US than Liverpool but Americans definitely notice it the other way around!

        Liked by 2 people

        November 29, 2016
  13. “J” is for jonquille!

    Liked by 1 person

    November 29, 2016
  14. 🙂 hey sweet pumpkin, you’ve touched my heart… again! ❤ and you do know why… 😉
    * * *
    the title of your article has just reminded me of Anaïs Nin's statement:“nous ne voyons pas les choses comme elles sont, mais comme NOUS sommes…”(Anaïs Nin)

    Liked by 1 person

    November 29, 2016
  15. ‘G’ could also be for gazelle, which I’m sure you’ll be running like again soon! Thanks for another comic edition of ‘Osyth does Boston’…and thanks also for the trailer – I somehow missed this movie but have added it to my watch list!

    Liked by 1 person

    November 29, 2016
    • Oh you must watch it … it really is a goodie. I think gazelle may be a stretch but only because I never was one in the first place. I remember being terribly envious of a girl called Aileen at school because our teacher always called her ‘Dorcus’ which is Greek for Gazelle whereas I felt more like a Moose!

      Liked by 1 person

      November 29, 2016
  16. Malheureusemen, I only flew into Boston en route to somewhere else. Quel dommage !

    Liked by 1 person

    November 29, 2016
    • ONe day, Jenny …. you never know and if you do find the opportunity seize it for it is a lovely place!

      Like

      November 29, 2016
  17. I am happy to know that you’re planning on coming back! I can understand the mixed feelings, and the adventure! Life is exciting 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    November 29, 2016
    • I am acutely aware that I have only scratched the surface of the North Eastern corner of the country …. there is so much more for me to see but I don’t want to just breeze in and out – that’s too touristique for me. So I will continue the adventure in France (new and old things beckon) and then I will come back and explore much more of this great land 🙏🏼

      Liked by 1 person

      November 29, 2016
  18. Fantastic list, Osyth! I enjoyed your lovely pictures, too. Safe travels! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    November 29, 2016
  19. So much fun to see your list and hear about your experiences!

    Like

    December 3, 2016
  20. I like this title and how you have captured the essence of photos. Don’t just glance, don’t just rush past but truly “focus” on what scenery is surrounding you. 🙂 ❤

    Like

    December 9, 2016
  21. LOL I a reading your post during the commercials of Jeopardy….LOL I just read the Jiffy Lube part to Peter….he loved it….and to tell you the truth I always thing of a quickie when I hear or see the name….LOL loving your post…..xxkat

    Liked by 1 person

    December 9, 2016
    • I’m pining for Jeopardy! As for JL …. you two are kindred for sure!!!! Xx

      Like

      December 10, 2016
      • LOL must say I did pretty good yesterday….might of answered 10 questions…LOL that’s really good for me…..ha ha

        Liked by 1 person

        December 10, 2016
      • I hope you said who is and what is otherwise they don’t count!!!! X

        Like

        December 10, 2016
  22. they don’t count many times no matter what type of question I ask in…LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    December 10, 2016
  23. What a lovely post, Osyth. The photographs are wonderful and you look great!

    Liked by 1 person

    December 14, 2016
    • Thank you, Your Majesty (curtsies gracefully before Queen Kerry) …. it means a great deal when one of my most favourite comment so kindly!

      Liked by 1 person

      December 17, 2016
  24. Earlier I was looking for a post with an update on your leg. This was an excellent one to find. The brace sounds remarkable. I can’t picture you immobile and not going for walks, hiking and trail blazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    January 2, 2017
    • It is like magic. I could not have imagined it. I will email you. I feel the need to reach out and embrace you again. If that’s OK with you? New Year, new start. xx

      Liked by 1 person

      January 2, 2017
  25. OK 🍀

    Liked by 1 person

    January 3, 2017
  26. Just loooove the Turkey fantasies!!! 😄 And your wonderful romance with your husband “sufficiently smitten kitten” what a great phrase! And being a bit familiar with the ongoing rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge (I used to row at school 😉) it’s indeed a wonder that you two got to be together 😉 A but like Romeo&Juliet but fortunately with a very different ending! 😄 xxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    January 12, 2017
    • A rower! This makes you more wonderful even if you dont do it any more. It’s the ultimate team sport and I am passionate about it and never happier than when I’m in a boat … my single has to suffice mostly but I really love getting into a crew boat occasionally (if they are foolish enough to let me). The turkey fantasies persist … I need a good illustrator and then I could write a book – not quite children’s, maybe a modern version of Animal Farm (I love Orwell). I’d better sign off now – I’m rambling! Love to you from blizzard impending France (whoopeeeeeee) xxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

      January 13, 2017
      • How wonderful! Since I finished school I’ve never met another rower! Yippieh! 😄 I rowed for 9 years and totally loved it! A crew boat with 4 rowers always was my favourite though I also liked a single. I wrote a post about it last year and added a picture of my old rowing club house:
        https://secretartexpedition.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/sepia-sunday-at-the-lake/.
        I would have loved to continue rowing when I went to university but the fees were tripled from what I’d paid at school and I couldn’t afford it with my meagre student’s income. 😦 But I did other stuff there I enjoyed too even if not as much as rowing 😉 Like theatre impro and Tai chi.
        Hope you’ll find an illustrator for the Turkey Fantasies – I’m already looking forward to read them! 😉 xxxxxxxxxx

        Like

        January 15, 2017
  27. Entertaining… as always!!! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    February 18, 2017

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