Gate A-4

Live & Learn


Gate A-4 By Naomi Shihab Nye:

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well— one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,” said the flight agent. “Talk to her . What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly. “Shu-dow-a, shu-bid-uck, habibti? Stani schway, min fadlick, shu-bit-se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be…

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I Got Here As Fast As I Could

Hello folks! I apologize for my long absence. My writing time has been wholly focused on finishing my first novel, I Got Here As Fast As I Could. I’m so happy to say that it’s complete and available on Amazon.

The book is inspired by true stories of the heroes of the levee disaster in New Orleans in 2005. It’s also free today and tomorrow in memory of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. After years of research, writing, and rewriting, I’ve completed the story I wanted to tell. It’s dedicated to the people lost and the people who saved many lives during that terrible time.

I’ve started and stopped many novels in the past. This one was different. True, I started and stopped it as well, but I kept picking it up again. I would take a writing workshop, complete some revisions and get feedback, put it away for six months, then revise it again. This went on for about 5 years. This book is different because I cared so much about the story and the people it represented that I just had to finish it.

I hope you’ll check it out.


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Rabbit, Rabbit

This is a bit late, but it was apropos yesterday. Have you ever heard the old English superstition that the first words you should say on the first day of every month are “Rabbit, rabbit”? This one was new to me, but apparently it is well known to many New Englanders.

Learn more on the Yankee magazine website.

Speaking of the first day of the month, we are well on our way to spring now. I know Boston has been in the news for its unusually harsh winter, but most New Englanders I know (except the snowbirds) accept it without much complaint. Those who do complain don’t like winter to begin with, and probably would be happier joining the aforementioned snowbirds down in sunny Florida.

Still, even for people who love snow and winter, March is the time when we start to turn our thoughts to spring, and before you know it, we’ll have daffodils. Perhaps we’ll spy a few rabbits too.


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Happy 2015

Beacon Hill Winter Wreath

Beacon Hill Winter Wreath

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12 Days of New England Christmas Traditions (Day 12): First Night

To mark the last of our 12 New England Christmas traditions, let’s talk about New Years Eve. This festive night falls right in the middle of the twelve days of Christmas (if you’re only familiar with the song, the twelve days span from Christmas Day to the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th).

One New England tradition that has become popular over the past 40 years is First Night. Established in Boston in 1975, First Night is a series of events that take place in public spaces like the Boston Public Library, churches, and performance halls, and local attractions like the New England Aquarium and the Paul Revere House. The events last throughout the day and night and range from puppet shows to ice sculpture competitions to plays and concerts. Many of the events are free. Two fireworks displays are featured–one at midnight over Boston Harbor and another earlier in the evening over Boston Common.

First Night was established to provide a family-friendly New Years activity as well as to promote Boston-area attractions. Since Boston began the tradition, other New England cities including Hartford, Portsmouth, and Providence (they call it Bright Night; no celebration is planned this year) have started similar celebrations.

Check out Boston’s First Night 2015.

Revisiting some of these New England traditions has been fun. I look forward to writing more about New England here next year and wish everyone a healthy, happy, and peaceful 2015!



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12 Days of New England Christmas Traditions (Day 11): Christmas at Billings Farm

Want to experience an authentic, old-fashioned New England Christmas? Then you might want to head up to beautiful Woodstock, Vermont. There you’ll find the Billings Farm and Museum, a working farm with an award-winning Jersey herd and a farmhouse museum that is open to the public. At Billings you can take classes, watch documentary films (part of the Woodstock Film Series), and learn more about what life was like in Vermont in 1890, the year that the farmhouse was built.

The museum captures the simplicity and difficulty of rural life in late 19th-century Vermont with hands-on activities like buttermaking and milking as well as special exhibits. During each weekend in December, the museum celebrates Christmas at Billings Farm with activities like sleigh rides, sledding, candle dipping, and ornament making. The farmhouse is decorated as it would have been in Christmas 1890, with simple green boughs on the mantels and trees strung with cranberry and popcorn garland, painted pinecones, and paper ornaments.

I’ve been to Woodstock, but somehow I missed this landmark farm on my visit. I’ll have to remedy that next time I am in the area! If you want to find out more about old Vermont Christmas traditions, the Billings Farm & Museum is a good place to start.

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12 Days of New England Christmas Traditions (Day 10): Edaville’s Christmas Festival of Lights

When the Bridgton and Saco River Railroad shut down in 1941, farmer Ellis D. Atwood bought several passenger and freight cars and constructed a railroad on his cranberry plantation in South Carver, Massachusetts. What began as a practical way to move supplies around the plantation became a local tourist attraction. After offering free rides to neighbors, Atwood opened his railroad to the public in 1947, complete with small amusement park rides. In the late 1940s, Atwood introduced an annual Festival of Lights to celebrate the Christmas holiday.

The railroad and the surrounding park went through many owners after Atwood died as the result of an accident in 1950, but the holiday light tradition continued. For a time in the 1990s, the park was shut down. Eventually, all of the railroad cars were sold off and the park was reopened with new passenger cars. In 2005, the current owner renamed the park Edaville USA and introduced updated rides and attractions mostly related to cranberry harvesting. Despite the changes, the Festival of Lights continued to be a popular attraction. Today the event features not only one of the largest light displays in the region, but also hot chocolate and cookies, and carol singing. Many children wear their pajamas for the nighttime ride.  After the train ride, families can explore light displays and enjoy vintage amusement park rides.

In 2011, the railroad introduced a new holiday attraction: a live version of The Polar Express. The popular children’s book comes alive in a 40-minute train ride around the cranberry bogs that culminates in the appearance of Santa Claus.



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12 Days of New England Christmas Traditions (Day 9): Holiday Pops

In 1973, Arthur Fiedler, long-time conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, introduced the Holiday Pops. The celebration was called “A Pops Christmas Party” and featured the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. Typical of Fiedler’s Pops, the concert was aimed at a mass audience, with accessible, crowd-pleasing musical selections. Over the years, the Holiday Pops has included narrations of “The Night Before Christmas” (some featuring special guests like Boston’s former mayor Thomas Menino), audience sing-a-longs, and guest choirs and choruses.

In 1985, the Holiday Pops was televised for the first time. Forty-one years later, the Holiday Pops is still going strong. This year, the performance, which takes place in Boston’s Symphony Hall, features former Pops conductor and composer John Williams’s score to the holiday-themed film Home Alone. The program runs until December 31.







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