The Montague Bookmill, Montague, MA

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If I had an official list of my favorite bookstores in the world (hm, maybe I should have one), The Montague Bookmill would be on it. During last winter’s snowstorms there was a lot made of the Swedish word “hygge,” and while I still can’t point to a precise definition of this word, I know that the Bookmill has it.

I saw myself spending the whole day there, curled up in the stacks with a cup of hot coffee from the attached cafe, The Lady Killigrew, or perched on the sofa near one of the many bay windows, watching the Saw Mill River roar below. So that’s exactly what I did. All day.

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It’s Official: I’m a Hoosier in the Bay State

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It’s way past time to make this official on my blog, so here it is. In early September Peter and I officially became Massachusetts residents (well, I guess it was “official” in early October, when we changed our vehicle and voter registrations). On September 1 I started a position as Senior Associate of Digital Campaigns at the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, a nonprofit that promotes global and domestic human rights and social justice. I’m very excited to explore my new state, and to keep exploring New England from the perspective of “that girl from the Midwest.”

To kick off these explorations, some Massachusetts travel art:

Goodbye New England Fall, Hello New England Winter

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I always really miss fall when it’s over. Fall is my favorite season, which is strange when you consider the fact that the most important day of the year — my birthday — is in the summer and my favorite holiday is Christmas (weird for an atheist, I know). Fall in the Northeast, as I’ve mentioned before, is especially grand.

So what is it about fall that’s so special? Some images and anecdotes that demonstrate:

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Cape Cod in the off season

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The sun sets on Cape Cod

The sun sets on Cape Cod

That’s the view from where I’m standing right now, on Kalmus Beach in Hyannis, Massachusetts. Even though it’s a bit out of season, my friend Peter’s family beach house was officially open for business at the beginning of March so we thought, why not? We’re both having some job stresses right now (I’m starting a new one on Monday; he just had the assistant head of his department put in her two weeks), so even a short trip to a cold beach would be worth it.

The weather not only didn’t disappoint, it was unseasonably warm and sunny, although the water was still freezing. Peter warned me in advance that the town was likely to be dead; the “on-season” wouldn’t officially start for a couple more months. But that turned out to be for the best. The beaches were empty, and on the few occasions where we put down our beers and left the porch, downtown Hyannis was just open enough so that most of the local restaurants were hoppin’ but we weren’t bumping into tourists or waiting in line.

I’m a huge seafood fan, and I wouldn’t leave Cape Cod without noshing on some of the local oysters. For this you should probably hit up the Naked Oyster and get the baked oyster sampler ($14 for six – Rockefeller, pesto, barbecued bleu, pomodori, casino and Bienville) or you could split the chilled seafood tower ($43 for four littleneck clams, four oysters, four shrimp, tuna sashimi and a lobster tail). At least order a couple of oyster shooters ($2.50 each). Add the optional dash of pepper vodka ($1.50) and you have yourself a mini bloody mary.

For desert, we took a trip to Four Seas Ice Cream and ordered a quart of the rum and butter. Mixed with maple-flavored whisky, this combination makes a delicious drunk variation on the classic Coke float.

And since this is a vacation, I’m not ashamed to admit that after an afternoon/evening of beer, vodka and maple-flavored whisky, we were not feeling too fresh in the morning – even with the salty sea breeze to give us a jolt. To remedy this, I tried the Cape Cod benedict ($11.95, made with a crab cake and lemony dill sauce instead of the traditional English muffin and hollandaise) at the Sea Street Café.

Besides our various food-related excursions (and let’s be honest, those are the most important), we checked off a couple boxes on the Ubiquitous Kennedy Landmarks tour, including a quick lurk outside of the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port and a stroll around the JFK Memorial at Veterans Beach.

President’s Day at the JFK Presidential Library & Museum

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For President’s Day my friend Peter and I took a spur-of-the-moment trip to Boston, where most of our time was spent at the Kennedy Presidential Library.

Sure, for President’s Day our countryfolk explicitly celebrate the birthdays of George Washington (February 22) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12). But President’s Day is also a time to pick the guy who’s most important to your state or region and celebrate him too. (Did everyone in Indiana have fun commemorating the single-term presidency of Benjamin Harrison? Yeah, you probably just celebrated Lincoln instead.)

Surprisingly, New England has only given us five presidents – unsurprisingly, four of them are from Massachusetts: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Franklin Pierce (New Hampshire), Calvin Coolidge and Kennedy. While the Adamses get their fair share of recognition from the Bay State, the Kennedy legacy is a minor religion in all three of New England’s southernmost states.

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