Rachael Solem


All is in balance:
stillness and stirring
softness and sharpness
stiffness and suppleness
the dancing and the dead
for just this moment.


Hello Dear Readers,

The Autumnal Equinox occurred at 2:50 am Eastern Time in the Northern Hemisphere.  It is likely that many of you were sleeping.  I was.  So that point of balance passed without much notice, a moment in the cycle.

Irving House has been busy, as it should be.  Visitors arrive new to the city to begin the next phase of their lives, or return to enjoy their familiar haunts, to see friends and family.  The thickening density and complexity of greater Boston is felt everywhere during a few weeks’ time.  This is familiar, very reassuring, and always inspires nostalgia.

It was in September 49 years ago that I first came to live in this area.  As the media is now fully reminding us, that fall was when Boston began bussing its students around: from white to black and black to white neighborhood schools.  It was by court order: a lame, costly, dangerous, cynical, desperate attempt to de-segregate the Boston schools. This was my first impression of my adopted home.  It was not pretty; it impressed me then, and continues to do so.

I am pleased to see that there is some new fuller telling of this ugly history.  We need to remember, to keep it in mind. And know that even as de-segregation has been a painful, stupid haltingly slow plod, our true goal should be integration.  Then we could just savor and celebrate the delights of our diverse humanity.

In the garden, late summer blooms still offer their bright beauty, still lure the pollinators.  Their earlier blooming neighbors, now gone to seed stand dry and brown on stiff dead stalks.  This is the garden’s balance.  I have not clipped the dead stalks.  They have their beauty too…

On a recent Sunday morning while I sat at my desk, a guest stopped to visit after having her breakfast.  She had not been to Irving House since before 2020 and was grateful to see us still in business.  The reason for her trips to Cambridge have been to visit a colleague at Harvard with whom she has worked for many years.  Dr. Homer-Vanniasinkam lives in London.

Later that morning, she and her companion were sitting in front of the house enjoying the sun as I was bringing in the (late arriving!) newspaper.  We resumed our conversation.  Her friend Janet gave me a carefully wrapped package.  Dr. Homer-Vanniasinkam told me it was jaggery cake, a Sri Lankan delicacy.  Her sister-in-law, a pastry chef makes it.  I thanked her, and promise to share it.

The flavor of this cake brought to my senses my time in Jamaica decades ago.  Something about the dense texture and complicated flavor brought up fond memories of a particular sweet I made for my kids at Christmas time there.  Miss Phil, who taught me to make it, called it ‘mischief.’  It is not that jaggery cake has coconut and lime in it, as the Jamaican mischief does, but that the line between candy and cookie is blurred, and brown sugar is brightened from its earthiness, made more alluring by cinnamon, a nuttiness and…  jaggery!  Yum!

So thank you again, Dr. Homer-Vanniasinkam!  You brightened my day, my week, with your kind engagement and lovely appreciation!  And, yes, when I get back to London I will surely visit you and Janet!

Irving House front desk is just his day-job…Bill Kelle is a book lover too!
Bill has worked at Irving House for . . . a long while. Most of this time, he has also worked with Červená Barva Press where he has designed many covers for its books of poetry.
This year Červená Barva Press celebrates 18 years of publishing. Founded in 2005 by Gloria Mindock, editor and publisher.  Červená Barva Press has published over 245 books of poetry, fiction, and translations.  All cover designs are by William J. Kelle, who works at Irving House behind the desk. He is also the webmaster of the press. Červená Barva Press has twelve writers on staff and offers numerous events every year such as:  poetry and fiction readings, book launches, poetry roundtables, translation roundtables, Pastry with Poets, Portrait of an Artist and Poet, Červená Barva Press Reads Around the World (a reading series with readers from different countries throughout the world), collaborations with the Interpoezia reading series in NYC and a monthly newsletter. The press is offering a poetry and fiction summit for the first time this year. Visit their website at:
Sweeney Todd is coming to Harvard Square!We have for some time been awaiting the reopening of the lovely small theater at 2 Arrow Street.  Now, with a production headed to a bigger stage, you can enjoy some of what makes
Our Fair City so much fun!

The history of innovation in Cambridge is celebrated with a guided tour:
Put on your walking shoes, grab a curious friend!
Recently named the Best Walking Tour on Boston Magazine’s esteemed Best of Boston list, Innovation Trail is the way to see the sites.
Cambridge Innovation Tours

Tree Chuangs exhibition:
Where we belong.
Harvard Museums of Science and Culture announces this exhibit, on view now through 31 October.
Designed by artist Xinan Ran and collaboratively created with local communities,  the tree chuangs sway from tree branches and invite everyone to connect to experiences of belonging. Seventy-five individual pieces are combined into a traditional Chinese chuang—a cylindrical textile commonly used in Buddhism.
 Little Amal, a globally acclaimed 12-foot-tall puppet, is on a journey.

Amal, whose name means “hope” in Arabic, symbolizes a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl in search of her mother. The puppet has already traveled through more than a dozen countries to raise awareness about the plight of refugee children.

On September 7, she began her journey in the US with a visit to Boston and Cambridge.

As we look to our quieter months,
we savor our two favorite specials for the month of November: 

This year the Veterans’ Day special is sold out for FREE rooms,
but we still offer a discount for those who have served our nation in the military any time.
Available only if you book directly with us, of course..