Confessions of a Museum Junkie

Any fellow museum addicts here?

I have a confession to make. I am a museum junkie.

A proud and unrepentant one.

And it all started after being scared witless. But let me go back a few years. Ahem, a lot of years now.

Once upon a time, when I was six, my family took a vacation to Salem, MA. And I never forgot it. Even though I was young, I retain vivid memories of Salem: Our view out the window of the Hawthorne Hotel, quizzing the tour guide at the House of Seven Gables, and seeing mustard seeds for the first time at the Lighthouse.

But, alas, the trip also had a dark side. The Salem Witch Museum made an extreme impression on me. Maybe it was the fact that we were ushered into a dark room and told to stand in an illuminated circle in the center. Or it could have been the first display: two red eyes gleaming in the dark accompanied by a loud voice declaring the devil exists. And possibly it was the tableau of Giles Cory being pressed to death.

Yeah, that definitely left a mental mark.

In hindsight, I’m positive that my life as a museum junkie traces straight to that vacation. I experienced a Great Awakening on that trip. One that cemented my love of old houses and left me jonesing for more historical experiences.

I was the kid on school field trips who loved visiting the state capital, Plymouth Plantation, and this place called Old Sturbridge Village (more on that in a moment).

During my college years in Washington, DC, I was in museum junkie heaven. I became an intern at not one, but two Smithsonian museums. The Museum of American History and the National Zoological Park. Yes. The experience was cool and amazing. When I graduated with bachelors’ degrees in Anthropology and Psychology, I had a lofty dream that I could work at one of my beloved museums.

I was so clueless!

The first job I applied for when I returned home laden with financial debt was at Old Sturbridge Village. After I was soundly rejected, I didn’t become too bitter even when I settled for a “real” job working for an insurance company (27 years and counting). I still have my rejection letter from OSV too. Over the years, I applied for other museum jobs and was also turned down.

Fine. I don’t have a Masters or a PHD. I get it.

So if I couldn’t get a job in an actual museum, I did the next best thing and dragged my husband, henceforth known as Scar, to OSV.

This was my special place. One that I’d been visiting since a field trip in the fourth grade.

On that first trip together, Scar strolled onto the lush town green and looked around at the lovingly preserved historic buildings. The scent of wood smoke hung in the air while the blacksmith’s hammer clanged. The water-powered mills crushed grain into flour and sawed wood into boards. Upon entering a building, costumed historians would politely greet us and provide the historical background of whatever it was they were doing.

This was my happy place and I couldn’t wait for him to love it as much as I did.

His next words remain forever etched in family lore.

“This is nice. But where’s ye olde whore house?” he joked.

My joy shriveled a bit after that. Clearly, history was lost on him. Though I do continue to tease him so I’ve gotten some mileage out of that comment.

<sigh>

Okay, so as it turned out, he didn’t love museums.

But there was hope. I had children. If I started young maybe one of them would fall in love too. As it turned out, one of my kids caught the museum bug! Witness my fellow museum junkie in those early years.

Over time, I purchased memberships at several museums including Old Sturbridge Village, Mystic Seaport and The Springfield Museums. I joined the last one in 2016 as a “happy birthday to me” present. Younger Son and I jointly hold these memberships which often baffles the staff who incorrectly assume we are married when sending out mailings. Um, no!

Lucky for me, Younger Son still enjoys museums as much as I do. It’s our thing. We schedule our vacation time around which museum we want to visit next. Scar and my Older Son (who hates anything with the word museum in it), grunt, go back to their respective computer screens, then wave us on our way.

See, we know the secret. We have all the fun.

Your turn to share – what places have made a lasting impression on you? Any fellow museum junkies here?

museum-junkies

First Readers, Fast Writing and The Bloggy Blah, Blah, Blahs

Today, I’m at the Scribes talking about the The Bloggy Blah, Blah, Blahs. If you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation, stop by and share your tips for the blogging blues.

Also, I’m a guest at “How to Write Fast“. If you’re looking for advice on how to write more quickly, this is the blog to visit.

In other news, Mystic Storm is finally in the hands of my most valued first readers. Yay!! For those of you following along, this is Zephyr’s story. At the end of Mystic Ink, I left him in a bit of a pickle after the Fates punished him for interfering in a Hero’s Journey.

Finally!

I did it. Last Sunday I finished the draft of Mystic Storm. But the work isn’t over yet. Before I can share Zephyr’s story with my trusted first readers, I have to read through it and make sure there aren’t any gaping plot holes.

In the meantime, I’m at the 7 Scribes today  – We Are Family.

Stop Thief!! Beating the Time Bandits

Hi everyone,

While I work my fingers off to finish the first draft of Mystic Storm, you can find me over at the Seven Scribes where I’m sharing tips for beating the Time Bandits –

Stop Thief!! Beating the Time Bandits.

What’s a Woozle?

This past weekend, to celebrate my oldest son’s birthday, we all went to The Big E. For those of you not from New England, the Big E stands for Eastern States Exposition and it’s our great regional state fair!

There are tons of sellers hocking wares like homemade crafts, beef jerky, leather, furniture and enough fried food to clog your arteries just by standing too close. Fried butter or fried jelly beans, anyone? Hubby ate a crazy burger – a bacon cheeseburger sandwiched between a glazed donut (and I totally forgot to take a picture!!)

There are also “as seen on TV” type gadgets and lovely wares like awesome hand-painted ceramics.

And they have a fantastic miniature circus museum. No surprise that only Younger Son and I went inside while Hubby and Older Son sourly waited outside.

They have a parade which included Mardi-Gras floats and colorful beads. Yes, I cried when the dalmatian went by.

So what does this have to do with woozles? The main reason we attended the Big E this year was to surprise Older Son with tickets to see Jeff Dunham!  One of his most famous puppets is Peanut the Woozle. While I don’t have any photos of Jeff on stage (because we were too far and flash photos were not allowed), I do have a photo of the stage.

And Older Son came away with a shirt from his favorite character- Walter!

Galloping Goulash!

I’m coming off a week of answering loads of  interview questions for an upcoming blog tour, so I’m taking a break from talking about writing. Instead, I want to talk food.

Okay, I know it’s still summer, but this is a great, easy recipe for a rainy day. Especially if you have loads of tomatoes sitting around. And fall weather will be here soon enough so you can save it until then.

It’s around this time of year that I start getting sick of eating “summer” food because we don’t want to heat up the house. This is one of my older son’s favorite recipes. I don’t mind making it for him since it’s pretty easy and cooks up fast without me hovering over the stove too long.

I improvised this recipe for goulash. I know there are numerous versions of this, but it’s the basic American version with ground beef, sauce, and pasta.

Here’s what you need:

1 – 1.5 lbs of ground beef

1 box of shaped pasta (choose any shape that floats your boat)

1 onion sliced  or chopped

1 can of diced tomatoes with basil & oregano (or if you have fresh tomatoes use those instead)

2 can of tomato sauce (the 14 oz size)

Grated Parmesan cheese

If have them, I also add in fresh oregano, basil and parsely. If not, dried is okay too.

Cook as follows:

1. Brown the ground beef with the onions in a large skillet until onions are soft or meat is no longer pink

2. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce, bring to a low bubble (not boil!), lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 -25 minutes.

3. Boil water and cook pasta  (use the al dente directions so it doesn’t get mushy). Drain pasta. I usually take out about a bowl full because and leave it plain. Older son snaps it up. I find that a whole box is too much and absorbs all the sauce. So use less and add more later if you want.

4. Add the pasta to the sauce/meat and blend. If you have fresh herbs, add them now. I let that simmer for about 10 minutes (or the time it takes for the pasta to soak up some sauce).

Right before serving, I add in the grated cheese to taste. Enjoy.

If you have a moment, please stop by the Scribes where I talk about using the 5 senses – Scents and Sensibility.

Who has a favorite go-to recipe?  And anyone else ready for a change in season?