Monday, October 27, 2008

Local Color

Autumn has arrived in New England with all its full glory. A walk around Cambridge yields some gorgeous scenery, and the chilly air is scented with that indescribably wonderful smell of fallen leaves. Of all the seasons, this is probably my favorite!

For fruit of a different color - how about these purple radishes? (Courtesy of Boston Organics!)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Shadowy Group of Community Organizers Destroying the Fabric of Democracy!


Murderbones, or Oh Dem 'Bones II

Tuesday was Mystery night at Underbones (sadly I missed September's offering because I was in Pittsburgh....) This time there were two sets of authors, and one set was a mother and son team writing a Red Sox mystery called "Dirty Water." I bought both books, had them signed, chatted with the authors, and scarfed some free "Killer Apps." The ribs were mighty fine. I'd cleverly handed a take-out order to the hostess as I went in, and it was ready by the time the authors had talked about their books and Jaime had joined me (her house is a few blocks away from Redbones, lucky girl!) Mmmm, brisket and collard greens - and Redbones' killer sauces.

Afterwards, I peeled dem apples for seemingly hours - it was my turn to cook for Wednesday bake club. 2 apple pies and an apple crisp later, I called it a night - sadly to tired to start "Dirty Water!"


This past week we ordered and paid for a marker for my mom's grave, which feels a little like laying her to rest. It really is a process though, which I find whenever I think of something she would enjoy, or remember some aspect of our shared life. We have a small tribute on our mantel. I know she would enjoy being flanked by dragons.
This week also marked the receipt of boxes containing my mom's last treasured possessions, such as a family sampler from the 1800's, and many family photographs. In them you could see the deep love she had for her brother, parents, family dogs, children and grandchildren. You could also see her yearning for knowledge of her place in the world - many pictures were from her own childhood. I'm not sure she ever knew; it was part of her life's journey. It makes me wonder about my own children, and my siblings, and myself - do any of us know? Will anyone hear our voices beyond the grave?
For mom's marker, I chose to add the line "Beloved daughter and mother", because more than anything else I think that defined her life. Although she loved her brother, they weren't close; and I think her personal daemons would not really allow her to have a soul mate. Much of her life hinged on hoping and searching for signs that her father loved her, and making sure that her own children did not wonder whether she loved them. I hope when people see the marker they will see that.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Choice 2008

Ordinarily I don't think of myself as very politically oriented, which is kind of amusing given my sweetie's political leanings. It's true that I enjoyed many heated debates with my Libertarian roommate in college, but those days are long gone. This year, though, I've found my political inner self and I've donated actual money to Hillary's, then Obama's, campaigns. Last week I found myself attending a "Meet the Producer" event at WGBH (our local public television station which we contribute to) for the PBS series Frontline. Jim and I had the occasion to enjoy some light dessert (with cookies painted with the GBH logo) and met the producer of "The Choice 2008", Jim Kirk.

We were shown some portions of the show, and invited to ask the producer questions. The same producer also was responsible for Bush's War and Cheney's Law, by the way. At the time I was struck with his generosity and consideration of both candidates (at the same time, he pretty much said that "W" was a president of very little brain, if I may paraphrase A.A. Milne....) We went home and watched the last debate, and it really helped me see the debate in a more impartial way. When we watched the full broadcast of the Choice 2008 later, the equality with which McCain and Obama were treated with was apparent. And, despite my disgust at the verbal zings zapping back and forth, you could also see that both candidates really, truly, are devoted to their country. I found this liberating, in a way, because it just took personalities out of the equation. I could just look at the issues and see how my own viewpoint aligned with the candidates' stands - and although neither candidate would be my best friend in another life I could peacefully choose the one with views closest to mine.

The next day I actually went and "phone banked" for Obama. That's pretty epic considering how much I hate talking on the phone - always have, always will. I confess to being relieved that out of sixty calls in three hours, I left 46 messages and only talked to an actual person 14 times!

Ummm, this all does not hold with the VICE presidential candidates. I find the thought of the Palindrone being a heartbeat away truly frightening. It's like having a Stepford wife in the White House. Even if I hated Obama I'd vote for him, because the alternative is madness.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Caring through Craigslist

If ever there was a compelling story about the plight of the average American these days this would be it. . . . Cici and Jared are renovating the first floor apartment, replacing kitchen cabinets, dishwasher, etc. We were motivated to start "pruning" our possessions, with our empty nest not so empty with various unwanted / unneeded items. Although Cici and I made a valiant effort to rid ourselves of "stuff" with a yard sale, it was only partially successful. So, I posted a bunch of items for free (cabinets, sink, dishwasher, radiator cover, queen bed frame) on Craigslist late Monday night.

By Tuesday morning, I had over 200 responses - and some of the emails were so sad. I was sorry not to have more to offer.

Circumventing the Kangamungus Crowds for Columbus Day: Keeping it local

The leaves are turning, and while the scenery in the White Mountains is undeniably stunning (and peaking this past weekend) the crowds and miles of gas consumption proved quite a deterrent. So we made do with some local color at Harvard Divinity School, the Cambridge Cemetery, Habitat, and the new park near Neville Manor.
(and Bonnie made do with some grass/sand/pine needle swimming....)
Stopping at our local butchers and gourmet shop Savenors, we scored some lovely veal bones and fancy mushrooms for stock, and on the way out, discovered a beautiful monarch butterfly (unfortunately deceased.)

It reminded me of a trip to the Hamden fair in Connecticut when I was six - the family had made the trip in my father's old Citroen. I swallowed a bee in my cotton candy (naturally it was NOT happy and stung me.) My parents led me and Alex back to the car and my wails were silenced by the discovery of a car full of monarch butterflies! I've never forgotten it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The "other" Hamptons

Sunday I met Alex in rainy Revere (pronounced Reveah here in Boston) and we each drove up north to Hampton Beach in New Hampshire for a brief rest cure (Alex having received an invitation from a work colleague and friend to use her beach house.) The house was literally across the street from the beach - you could hear the waves roaring in (courtesy of Hurricane Kyle passing by.) Although the weather was somewhat inclement, I still managed a trek on the beach, which was beautiful. Many hardy souls were out with surfboards and wet suits (but not me!)

Monday I played hooky and accompanied Alex to Wentworth-by-the-Sea for some spa services, first stopping by at the Golden Egg for a delicious breakfast. While at Wentworth-by-the-Sea, I found another subject for my lamppost photograph collection.

Finally, the sun came out! We travelled over the bridge to Maine to indulge in some retail therapy in the Kittery outlets.

How Do You Like Them Apples?

Alas, last Saturday dawned awash with the effects of Hurricane Kyle, so plans to attend the "What the Fluff" festival in Central Square were stymied. The enthusiasm for plans to go apple picking were also dampened somewhat, but we did not let that stop us! We trekked out to our favorite orchard and winery, Nashoba Valley, reasoning that if it was horribly rainy when we got there we could at least taste wine!

Providentially, the pelting rain slowed by the time we arrived, although the orchard was, shall we say, somewhat swamp-like. Thankfully, we were suitably shod for the adventure. It turned out the orchard had had a hail storm recently which damaged many of the apples. The orchard could use the damaged apples, though, for cider and wine-making. We took advantage of the pick-a-bag-of-damaged-apples-get-a-half-price-bag-of-good-apples offer, depositing the damaged apples in large white bins. And, we took advantage of the wine, beer and spirit tasting as well!

Now, we just have to finish using all them apples!