Category Archives: Blog Posts-Personal Histories

My backstory

Whenever I meet someone new, perhaps meeting them to write an article about something they have done, I like to understand their backstory. How did they get to where they are today? What are the choices they have made, or the events, the influences that pushed, pulled or drew them in the direction they now find themselves in?

Over the years I have referred to various parts of my own backstory. There’s a reason I only take Easy Walks. This article, an interview with the “Brenda After Sixty” website, offers a clear summary of my backstory, including important events that influenced who I am, and choices I have made along the way.

Marjorie, how did you get the idea to publish your Easy Walks books?

I have written for local newspapers for the past 20+ years. Ten years ago I wrote a short series of articles on local places to walk, which my editor titled “Naturally New England.” After publication, I had a sense the information was of continuing value so I created a blog on my writing website, MarjorieTurner.com for “Local Walks.” Pretty soon people found their way to my blog, and the most common search term was “where is Joe’s Rock?” (It’s in Wrentham, MA and offers a nice view).

After about the 500th “hit” on my website, I recognized a need, researched available sources, (found none) and realized I could fill this void. This was 2013. What began as idea for a newspaper column has grown into the “Easy Walks” brand because of the multiple Easy Walks in Massachusetts books I have written. The first three are trail guides to over 130 trails in 37 contiguous towns in south central Massachusetts. The latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are, offers a broad overview of methods I used to find these (and other trails in our travels throughout the country), strategies that others can put to use, and basic “outdoor” tips for how to dress to keep warm, stay safe on the trail, find walking partners, and more.

Why Do You Focus on Easy Walks?

Well, I only take Easy Walks. Twenty-seven years ago I found myself unable to even walk across a room. Surgery to save my life left my right size paralyzed.  To read more, here’s the entire articleBrenda after Sixty Easy Walks article

Happy trails!

Marjorie

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are.

She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.

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Birds draw me outside

A bluebird perches near our feeder at the edge of the yard

I have a confession–I am not walking outside much right now. The pandemic has worn me down, shredded my sense of connection with others, and made me reluctant to leave the supposed safety of the walls of my home. Getting outside alone has felt more difficult than in the past. How much easier to simply move back and forth from upstairs to back down, from the living room to the kitchen then back again (we have a very small house).

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Story Magic in the Everglades

Roseate spoonbills feed while an alligator waits for fish in the incoming tide, Ding Darling Swamp, Sanibel Island, Florida

It had been a while since I had experienced “story magic.” The pandemic has precluded in-person gatherings. Our meetings over Zoom and other venues are limited, demanding a different level of attention, with little room for leisurely storytelling. It took an eerie photo of alligator eyes lit by the moonlight on a Florida waterway to light the spark of story magic.

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College lessons persist to this day

On the trail at Hop Brook Preserve, Blackstone

College was a long time ago for me, but in some ways, feels like yesterday. In a recent conversation with Brian Benson from Bridgewater State University, where I graduated oh so many years ago, we had a chance to talk about my current work encouraging folks to get out safely on trails to enjoy the outdoors. We also talked about the influence my college education has had on my life. What a sweet walk down memory lane, as well as a chance to let folks know about what I’m up to right now. Thanks Brian, for a great writeup.

“Hiking is so popular during the COVID-19 pandemic that many parks are inundated with visitors. A Bridgewater State alumna has a timely strategy for slipping on those walking shoes, exercising and discovering something new, all the while practicing physical distancing. Marjorie Turner Hollman’s new book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are, is a guide for exploring hidden gems in one’s own town or neighborhood. The class of 1977 graduate began writing it before the pandemic, but it is more important now.” Read more: https://www.bridgew.edu/stories/2020/walk-way

Marjorie

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are.

She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.

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Overcoming fears…

Friends and family make the impossible, possible

An imagination is a terrible thing to waste; I practice using mine every day. At times well-intentioned people have advised me to “just relax.” If it were so easy, I would have become calm and serene long ago, unruffled as I anticipate life’s challenges.

For the most part, I’ve been surrounded by caring people who have been patient with my timidity, encouraging me, while staying nearby throughout the process of coping with change. Always alert to instances of “creative hand-holding,” I store these memories away, never knowing when they might be of use. Perhaps because of this, I’ve been drawn to beginners, fascinated by the transition from “I can’t” to “Hey, look at me!”

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Reflections on cooking while quarantined

happy birthday girl

A happy birthday, regardless of a pandemic. And yes, liver and onions really are my favorite.

In the midst of the pandemic that is Covid-19 we like many others, I suspect, have been working to reduce the number of times we go out, especially for food shopping. While we have not altered our meals radically, we have focused on different ways of extending meals, and using what we have, rather than making one more list and heading back out yet again, as we often have in the past. I do more of the cleanup than the cooking duties, so these suggestions are mostly my husband’s. And yes, we have managed to have some special treats along the way, even a celebratory birthday dinner for me last month, as we remained apart from our loved ones in other households.

The following is a list, not comprehensive, of ways we cook that might offer some ideas to others. Will we continue with these habits when life has opened back up? That remains to be seen. Wishing the best to all and praying for safekeeping as we muddle our way through. Continue reading

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Bringing liberal arts study and life together

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Sharing stories between generations is magic, no matter the form those stories take

I was invited to comment on the benefits of obtaining a liberal arts education. Perhaps you are asking yourself this question right now. Below is my response, with the link to the article, which offers numerous other amazing responses to the same question. Enjoy!

I received my BA in History many years ago, and for quite a while wondered if I would ever put my studies to use. It was only ten years ago, when I came across the world of Personal Historians, that I realized my studies, my passions and my work were finally all coming together. Continue reading

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The Pink Princess

Julia in pink princess dress

The Pink Princess

We rarely get a choice of who we share a neighborhood with. Little did I know when I moved to Bellingham, to the little neighborhood at the top of the hill overlooking Silver Lake, that I would someday hit the jackpot of neighbors, just when I needed them most.

I was reminded of this last week when I was invited to partake in a virtual gathering of women passionate about books and reading, a sort of “Book club” if you will, initiated by Julia, who had grown up next door to me when my children were growing up. As each person introduced ourselves to the group, we explained how we knew Julia. I explained that I had known her since before she was born, the much anticipated daughter her mother had longed for. Somehow the Pink Princess story came up, and I told the group a very little about Julia becoming a pink princess, and some of my role in making this happen. Continue reading

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A Passover and Easter like no other

garden 1

Raised garden beds, ready for planting.

Early last week we shared a family Passover service on Zoom. Typically the service happens in family dining rooms, and the focus of the service is around the dinner table. The traditional foods help to tell the story of the first Passover, and offer symbols of remembrance, of trials and deliverance. Part of the classic liturgy of the service asks four questions, and one question brought laughter as we gathered in front of our computers and were connected in a virtual envornment, “Why is this night unlike all other nights?” Why, indeed?  It was for sure a night unlike any other we had experienced up till then. Continue reading

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Sewing Memories

sewing machine, masks

Tools of the trade, and some finished face masks

Along with many others, I have pulled out my sewing machine, gathered my stashed sewing supplies, and found multiple videos and directions for making cloth face masks for ourselves and others who are in need of them during this health crisis we find ourselves in. I am not a sewing expert, nor an exacting sort of seamstress. Sadly, my sewing meets the standard of “getting the job done,” but then again, cloth face masks in the middle of a pandemic are not exactly fashion statements. Continue reading

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