Thursday, August 28, 2008

Five lesser known things about my mom

Sometimes it isn't the big things that are what you remember - sometimes it is the seemingly inconsequential little things. The little neurons fire off at the strangest memory triggers...

1. Mom loved marzipan, something she passed on to all three of her children. Christmas just isn't Christmas without beheading a cute little Marzipan animal or scarfing a selection of Marzipan fruit! A certain offspring, we're not naming names, was severely castigated for eating part of Mom's marzipan pig one Christmas....

2. Mom loved to sing (no, she didn't pass this along! Although we all sang in church choirs at one point or another others probably wished we didn't....) I can remember her singing to us at bedtime when Alex and I were little. My favorite was "Lavender's blue, dilly dilly, lavender's green. When I am King, dilly dilly, you shall be Queen."

3. Mom loved to garden, something else anyone who knows the infamous Hadden black thumb brigade will tell you she didn't pass along either. At one point Dad gave her a greenhouse, which I loved the smell of. We always had flower beds when I was growing up (I was allowed to grow radishes and my favorite snapdragons which strangely I did not instantly kill.) I can remember the Johnny Jump Ups, the pansies, the petunias, and many, many geraniums. I remember making rose geranium jelly which I still have a yen for. (I also remember the pressure cooker exploding while making apple sauce!) Mom really loved forsythia bushes, daffodils, and tulips as well. And dogwood trees.

4. Mom was the ultimate drama queen. She's probably turning in her urn right now as that was one of her primary criticisms of my wacky great aunt Lucy (her aunt) who was on Broadway and parachuted over Guam with the USO. Nonetheless, it's true. Her flamboyant side had to come out somehow! Thankfully, she was never quite as eccentric as Aunt Lucy who was known to yell at the waiters in a deli for not warming the plates (I remember quite vividly one waiter taking her plate back, grabbing one out of the dishwasher, and returning with a wink....) Mom passed the emoting skills along in various forms to all of us (Sandy faces, "Hunger, thirst, famine" and the like!)

5. Mom liked seagulls, pigeons of the sea. Ick. She specifically liked "Jonathan Livingston Seagull." This, along where her penchant for Helen Reddy, embarrassed and horrified us all. Still, her Mom, who was probably equally horrified, made Mom a needlepoint table of JLS. She also liked "elevator" music. Double ick. There's just no accounting for taste!

It takes a Village to move Ms. Jaime

Jaime officially has quads of steel, after hundreds of trips up and down the three flights in South Boston, moving item after item to the street below.

Jim and I have officially made three shuttle trips between Southie and the new digs in Davis Square, and Jaime's dad made one (the important one, the one with the bed!) Jaime's new room is bigger than anything at Lamont Avenue!

Jared and Cici are on for tonight, with the big heavy items in the pick-up truck!

Jaime plans to spend her Labor Day weekend settling in.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Our friendly VET, Doctor Murphy, has been doing a lot of ADMINISTERING lately to the inmates of Lamont Avenue. Poor Bird had 9 teeth pulled (he was just not very good about flossing for some reason) at great expense and presumably pain as well. The good news is that he was really slowing down and becoming kind of bedraggled, and now, his mouth is pain-free and he is showing some kittenish spunk again at age 15. Bonnie is not faring so well. We emerged from one bout with severe allergies that required steroids, antibiotics, and constant monitoring to keep her from eating her feet, only to end up with a mysterious ailment appearing with some nerve damage to her face. Last time I picked up her "Uroeeze" which keeps her from forming painful crystals in her urine, the vet techs (who now know my voice on the phone and Bonnie by reputation) told me that Bonnie had the second largest file at the clinic in history. We're working on making it the largest file (and since the other dog died we have a good chance.) Bonnie is due for exploratory surgery tomorrow.

As the vet said, "it's really sad she can't catch a break." It's particularly poignant following my mother's death. It's hard accepting that there are things that happen to people you love that you can't fix.


Jim and I had the dubious pleasure of co-presenting a "Tech Talk Tuesday" together yesterday at our company. It was kind of like Click and Clack, except about computers and statistical software instead of cars. Anyway, the highlight of the presentation, the purpose of which was to introduce a new computing solution, was the PROC MIXED* brownies.

*statistician in-joke - PROC MIXED is a SAS procedure that does a mixed model.

Things are heating up at Lamont Avenue

We are finally splitting the heating systems, installing a gas furnace for the first floor unit instead of sharing the big old oil burning furnace. Work began Monday, which meant I spent a weekend getting up close and personal with lots of moldy stuff in the basement (boo hoo!) This required a number of incentives. I set as a goal for the weekend 16 giant leaf and lawn bags of garbage. After every 4 bags, I rewarded myself. If nothing else, I needed a break from breathing in that nasty stuff. So, the first reward was the oh-so-desired olive flatbread pizza from Iggy's (oh yum!!!) They only make it on Saturdays, and during lunchtime, so it's pretty rare that I actually score some of the good stuff. The next reward was a glass of Knob Creek, and so on. I achieved my goal, and then some, getting rid of lots of moldy plastic rubbermaid containers, etc.

There were treasures mixed among the trash. One of my finds: Ciel's ultrasound picture!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Locke-Ober, Locke-Ober, send Lobster right over

Our last visit for this season's Restaurant Week was the venerable Locke-Ober for luncheon. Having received the reminder call from the hostess the day before which included the dress code, there was a minor crisis - was farmer Louise and her overalls up to the challenge? Well, yes, but the dressing up was of very short duration and involved stuffing my surgically repaired foot into a pair of Cici's shoes (which very luckily were a size or two too big!) We (I) shuffled over to Winter Place (off of Winter Street, which turns into Summer Street - you have to love Boston geography!) trying not to leave the shoes behind. It must be noted that le TomTom got a tad confused in the little alleys surrounding Locke-Ober and led us into a dead end - but ever intrepid in search of a good meal, we forged on.

Walking into Locke-Ober was like entering a worm hole or time warp. One is transported into an era gone by. Once Jaime had joined us from her office a few blocks away, we were ushered into a cave-like chamber deep within featuring dark red walls and mahogany fittings.

Although the special Restaurant Week menu did not include Locke-Ober's famous Lobster bisque, I managed to get some lobster in by ordering an entree which included lobster and corn fritters. The food was really excellent and despite the very staid surroundings somewhat creative in scope and presentation. It was not (still) a restaurant for the vegetarians and vegans among us!

Dessert featured molten chocolate cake with perfect raspberries (Jaime refused to share these!) and perfect strawberries with lemon sorbet. Delicious!
Cici and I were vastly entertained by the ladies' restroom, which took womb-like to a new level! While the anachronistic fainting couch and vanities remain (with suitably muted lighting for the years-challenged among us) there was a sop to modernity - paper towels (while good quality) instead of cloth to dry one's hands!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Oh Dem 'Bones

Last night, I went to Underbones for a Murder Tuesday.

It was a wildly diverse crowd, standing room only, in for free "Killer Apps" (nope, not the software kind!) and book signings by two local (and famous) authors. I was excited because one of the authors was Linda Barnes, who writes a series featuring a feisty female private investigator named Carlotta Carlyle who lives in Cambridge.

I was happy to get my copy of Lie Down with the Devil signed, and then to have Jim, Jared, Cici and Jaime join me for dinner at Redbones upstairs.
Of course by that time I was stuffed with free appetizers! Still, we all enjoyed dem bones.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Too Close to the Sun - Icarus, Daedalus and Persephone

Icarus' father, Daedalus, a talented craftsman, attempted to escape from his exile in Crete, where he and his son were imprisoned at the hands of King Minos, the king for whom he had built the Labyrinth. Daedalus, the master craftsman, was exiled because he gave Minos' Daughter, Ariadne, a clew of string in order to help Theseus survive the Labyrinth.
Daedalus fashioned a pair of wax wings for himself and his son. Before they took off from the island, Daedalus warned his son not to fly too close to the sun, nor too close to the sea. Overcome by the sublime feeling that flying gave him, Icarus soared through the sky joyfully, but in the process he came too close to the sun, which melted his wings. Icarus kept flapping his wings but soon realized that he had no feathers left and that he was only flapping his bare arms. And so, Icarus fell into the sea in the area which bears his name, the Icarian Sea near Icaria, an island southwest of Samos.

In Greek mythology, Persephone (Kore or Cora) was the embodiment of the Earth's fertility at the same time that she was the Queen of the Underworld, the korÄ“ (or young maiden), and the parthenogenic daughter of Demeter—and, in later Classical myths, a daughter of Demeter and Zeus. In the Olympian version she also becomes the consort of Hades when he becomes the deity that governs the underworld.
The figure of Persephone is well-known today. Her story has great emotional power: an innocent maiden, a mother's grief over her abduction, and subsequent joy after the return of her daughter. It is also cited frequently as a paradigm of myths that explain natural processes, with the descent and return of the goddess bringing about the change of seasons.

By a strange coincidence, we have been to three restaurants in the past year whose names are derived from Greek mythology: Daedalus (near Harvard Square) for a brunch, Persephone's for Ciel's birthday, and last night (more restaurant week), Icarus.

After a lovely meal, we trekked to South Boston to begin Jaime's big move - to her new apartment near Davis Square.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Restaurant Week @ Home

Inspired by the visits to trendy eateries, I've been exploring a few culinary creations of my own.
I was recently aided and abetted by Dad and Barbara, who sent me footed french onion soup bowls for my birthday.

Again, inspired by Dad and Alex, I also embarked on the creation of a peach tarte tatin. This was necessitated by the abundance of peaches provided by Along with strange and esoteric veggies, Boston Organics also delivers wonderful fresh, organic fruit. One must take care, however, to use the little darlings quickly, or into the compost pail they will go.

I'm grateful to both my parents for their contribution to my "foodiness!" Off to Icarus!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Oh Canada! Le TomTom, World Traveler

Le TomTom recently returned from a vacation in Ottawa and Montreal (I was sharing the love with a good friend and her family.) He very much enjoyed the Old Port, and did just fine reading all those French street signs after his travels in Burgundy in May!
Le TomTom will be busy navigating in Cincinnati in early September for my mother's memorial service, and then in Pittsburgh for the big NESUG conference. . . .

Restaurant Week Adventures - Part 1

The "girls" have a full slate of Restaurant Week activities planned. Well, it's actually Restaurant WEEKS, in which numerous area restaurants offer a low prix fixe lunch and/or dinner to attempt to increase "eatership." This week, we traveled over the river and through the square (Kenmore) to Petit Robert Bistro. As it turned out, the regular menu was less expensive than the hyped "Restaurant Week" menu, so we went wild. When at a French bistro, eat (and drink) as the French I always say.... and so we did. I indulged in my garlicky friends l'escargots, which Jaime bravely tried (not Cici though, who made rude comments about slugs in shells!) Leek and Potato soup, Coq au Vin, Boeuf Bourgoine, and more completed our meal, accompanied by a lovely bottle of Pinot Noir from (where else?) Burgundy.

Next week, we have Icarus (South End) for dinner on Monday, and the famous and venerable Locke-Ober for lunch on Thursday. Tuesday night, we head to Underbones (beneath Redbones) for a local mystery writer reading and signing (free appetizers!) sponsored by Redbones and Kate's Mystery Books and then a birthday dinner en famille. I'm excited because the writer is Linda Barnes, whose funky PI heroine is Carlotta Carlyle of Cambridge. The last 'bones mystery night author was Gary Braver and his new novel Skin Deep. Afterwards, we'll start moving some of Jaime's stuff into her new house in Davis Square!

The Last Birthday Card

This arrived the day my mom died, bringing tears to my eyes. One of the last things she said to me was that she "was glad she birthed me." A mother never forgets her children's birthdays, kind of like Horton - faithful 100%.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Five things about my mom

Juliet Rankin Greeno Hadden died Friday, August 8, 2008, after a long, courageous battle with lung illness.

Losing your mother is devastating, even after they have lived a long and productive life. You lose the one (human) person in your life who loves you unconditionally, who never stops loving you despite physical and emotional distance.

Occasionally I watch Grey's Anatomy, and there was a little vignette that really struck me, something to the effect of how it was important to realize that there were always five special things that you know about someone you love. So, here are five things that I know about someone I love, my mom.
1. She loved her children, loved being a mother, and loved being a grandmother, above all. She had great generosity of spirit.

2. She loved to read, and loved to write. She passed these gifts down to all her children. It made gift-giving so easy - especially since we all shared a passion for Harry Potter. I can still remember being read the very un-pc "Little Black Sambo" by my mom as a tiny child - my favorite. And my sister's favorite, "Ping." (This led to many years of Alex refusing in horror to have roast duck for Thanksgiving!) And my brother's favorite, "Mike Mulligan's Steam Shovel."

3. She loved to cook, and eat. I owe much to her taste and talents, and enjoy some funny as well as tasty memories. Blushing barf (oops I mean Bunny) anyone? Her mustard sauce and shortbread recipes live on. . . .

4. She absolutely adored animals (human and otherwise). I cannot remember a time growing up when we didn't have at least one dog or cat. In fact, Elfin (our springer spaniel) taught me to swim at age 2 and would drag me to shallow water if she felt I was being too adventurous. When Mom could no longer care for a cherished companion herself, she relied on the company of a stuffed poodle which looked like her beloved Diamond.

5. She was a woman of great courage - and her bravest moments were at the close, in choosing the manner of her death. She died peacefully surrounded by her adopted family at St. Clare's, as well as her son.
Mom's ashes will be buried with her beloved Abby's ashes on September 6th, with bagpipes and balloons, just as she wanted.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

One if by Land, Two if by Sea

Last Thursday Cici and I played hooky, compliments of and Jaime. Jaime, who is a program director at Elderhostel/Road Scholar, arranged for us to join an educational tour of the history of Boston Harbor which had the added enticement of being on a boat.
It's a great way to see Boston, and I really enjoyed the educational aspect. The fact that the day began with a lot of fog just added to the atmosphere.
We emerged from South Station and took a walk past the wonderful milk bottle in front of the Boston Children's Museum.

We left from Moakley Courthouse on the waterfront, scene of a LONG bout of jury duty for Louise a few years back. We saw the Constitution from the water (Jim and I had a very memorable hunger brunch some years ago and were able to board the ship.)
We were regaled with the history of Boston Harbor while viewing the various islands through the fog. A high point was seeing Boston Light in action.

We disembarked on George's Island, which houses Fort Warren. George's Island was a very familiar sight to both Cici and I, as the kids' favorite urban camp usually traveled there during the camp session as a field trip.

We had a lovely lunch catered by the Daily Catch, a restaurant owned by one of Jaime's Cambridge classmates' family.
It was great seeing Fort Warren from a different perspective (i.e. not trying to keep track of three or four active kids!)
The afternoon was over too soon, and it was back to work for us. (sigh!)