Friday, August 17, 2012

True Confessions!

Well, this is weird.  The movie True Confessions is on television right now.  It is based on a novel by John Gregory Dunne that was published around 1980-1981.  The story is about an unidentified murder victim found bisected in a shadowy lot.  It involves two brothers, a detective and priest (Robert Duvall and Robert De Niro, respectively) and how their worlds intersect in Los Angeles in the 1940's while each is pursuing their rise to power. 

Why am I writing about this?  It brings back memories.  No! not about bisected bodies of prostitutes, or any other bisected bodies, thankfully.  It brings back the memory of the sunny summer day I arrived home from work and found a copy of the book left at our door, between the screen door and the wooden front door, to be more specific.  At the time, I was living with two other young women.  Given the premise of the book, this was just a tad, oh, scary. 

This caused us some concern.  Especially after we read the book.  I must say the book was an enjoyable read though gruesome in parts.  This, of course, freaked us out even more once we considered how we became owners of the literature.  The mystery was eventually resolved two months later when one of the history professors asked if we had received his gift.  (One of my roommates was a graduate student at UVM and I had been an undergraduate history major and would show up for Friday afternoon activities).  Upon learning that his gift had been the aforementioned book, we all breathed a huge sigh of relief.  Apparently, one of us had had a conversation about the book and completely forgotten (probably me).  The professor, upon discovering a very affordable copy, acquired it and left it for us since no one was home.  Mystery solved.  Anxiety relieved.

Lesson learned:  Remember all books discussed in informal settings that involve crimes.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tractor Day!

I just realized it has been quite some time since I've posted.  It's been a busy few months.  Full of ups and downs.  Lots going on.  And I've crossed something off my Life To-Do List.  Well, I didn't know it was on my Life's To-Do List to be frank.  But the opportunity arose and one mustn't let opportunities go by.

I was in Vermont this past weekend and was very fortunate to be invited to spend the afternoon at a friend's family place in a peaceful setting with friends.  There was some meadow, a pond, woods, a creek.  And some bugs (I have a few bites).  So far, no poison ivy but I'm withholding opinion on that in case the bug bites turn into something else- it's happened before.  I am extremely allergic to the point of paranoia.  That's one of the reasons why my friend who's place it was calls me City Girl.  I tend to avoid nature.  In fact, I don't "do nature".  Precisely because of poison ivy.  And I'm frightened of stinging insects.  And I don't like bugs.  But I do like Vermont.  I grew up there.  I still have family and friends there.  It will always be home.  When I cross the Connecticut River on I-89 the feeling of Home flows into me.  I still look at that hill to the left to see if anything has changed.  (Nope- still six homes.)  And the mountains have that special magic as drive through them.

Back to Tractor Day.  There we were hanging out and the opportunity to ride on the tractor came up.  Originally, we were going for a ride in the back but then I was offered the opportunity to drive.  Heck yes!  And so, around the property we went.  In first gear only.  So, no records were broken and no lives were lost, nobody dumped out of the trailer.  All were safe.  But this City Girl finally drove a tractor. And here's the proof!  So, scratch that item off my to-do list!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Super Tuesday, 2012

This past Tuesday, I was fortunate to participate as an “Election Official” in the primary for my town (Burlington, Massachusetts).  My current town may confuse some of my relatives and friends as I grew up in the Burlington, Vermont area.  So, a few words about my current residence where I have lived for 21 years.  Burlington, Massachusetts is a suburb of Boston, MA, located on the Technology Highway of Route 128, which is also I-95.  We are also known for our mall (the Burlington Mall, natch) as well as the home of the Lahey Clinic.  We have several office parks so we have a great commercial base much to the satisfaction of the residents as it supports our tax base.  In 1955, the population was 5,225.  In 1960, the population was 12,952.  In 1970, the population reached 22,150.  Today, it is 24,602.  It’s a great town.  The people are friendly.  It’s a nice size.  We have a great library that’s supported by the town and it is open seven days a week.  I love living here.  I’m in a great little neighborhood with wonderful neighbors I wouldn’t trade for the world and have friends in town that are lifelong and would never give up. 

But back to Election Day!  What fun!  I haven’t spent much thought on elections since I was in college.  That is to say, decades.  I obtained my bachelors degree at UVM.  I took a couple of Political Science courses while there as it was not a main interest of mine.  But, as I was a resident of VT, and, this was the hottest course on campus (next to Sex twice a week*), I did take Vermont Political Science.  This was taught by the eminent Frank Bryan.  Any opportunity to meet, listen to, take his class, read a book by, or just shake his hand, is not to be missed.  If you do take VT Poli Sci at UVM, you must take the Spring Semester.  Why?  Because part of the class work is to attend Town Meeting Day.  A requirement.  UVM is not open on Town Meeting Day.  I am unsure if any other state actually, truly observes this day as it should be observed.    Town Meeting Day was originated during the days of the colonies.  It was designed to be held in early March when it was difficult for anyone to travel (the first Tuesday in March, heavy snow and/or mud) meant to discourage the colonists from traveling and therefore participating in any form of government.  It has survived the Revolution.  In Vermont, it has survived over time.  It is a  forum of participatory government that is wonderful to observe.  I went to two town meetings while at UVM: Newport and Windsor.  (I went to the Newport meeting with a friend as an observer while she was a student taking the class.)  As a student, the assignment is to collect data and make observations about the process.  Everybody attending the meeting has an opportunity to make his opinion known.  Small government is best.

Since my experience observing Vermont town meetings, I have only voted often, mostly early, but only once per election.  Tuesday was an opportunity to get “an insider’s look” to the process.  The first step:  get there at 6:30 AM.  I think that was the most difficult.  I am not an early bird.  But polls open at 7:00 AM and there is much to get done.  First there is the swearing in of election officials during which we swear to uphold the laws of the land.  Then we go over the rules.  Since it was a primary, registered Republicans could only vote the Republican ballot, the registered Democrats the Democratic ballot, etc.  The interesting part was that the Libertarian and Independents did not have anyone running so those registered voters couldn’t vote.  Unenrolled voters could choose which ballot they wanted to vote.  Then there is the check in, and the check out.  One must check in to get one’s ballot (address first, then last name, then first name).  It’s a process.  It must be followed.  Yeah, yeah.  I know you look like Thomas and not Katie but I still have to go through the process.  There are the questions the voters have and the careful ways that one must answer the questions so that there is no influence in the voting choice.  (Basically, reading the instructions out loud.  I know, I know.  But some people process knowledge differently, what can I say?).  Oh, and I can’t make social chit chat in the voting area.  I have to step away and get someone to cover for me.  And I can’t chit chat for too long even if it’s not busy.  Then there is the “Omitted Voters” table.  This is the table for those not listed on the voting rolls.  Most of the time, at least in this election, the issues were cleared up fairly easily during the afternoon shift that I worked on that table.  One voter couldn’t remember which address she was registered under, therefore couldn’t remember which precinct she should go to.  Luckily, in our town, all voting takes place in one location.  We had lists to check, late voter registrations, inactive voter registrations, redistricted addresses (new precinct this election!).  If all else fails, we called the town clerk.  Most issues were cleared up within five minutes.  Then a little paperwork and most everyone was happy.  Some folks wanted to change their party affiliation.  It wouldn’t affect their ability to vote this time, but would be processed for the next election.  Name and address changes, etc.  Watching the whole process was eye-opening.  Then the polls closed at 8 PM.  With bell ringing and a proclamation.  Hear ye, hear ye, the polls are now closed!  Then the rush to tally the votes and report in.  While this goes on, others are breaking down all the equipment and getting all the signs off the various walls and packing up the gear.  We’ll do it all again next month for town elections.

Here’s the takeaway:  We live in a remarkable country.  We register to vote.  We can walk in, get our ballot, make our choices and get heard.  It baffles me that people think otherwise, that their one vote doesn’t count.  It doesn’t count it if it isn’t made.  As I sat around for 15 hours this past Tuesday, it was slowly dawning on me that no matter what I thought about politics or government, participation is important.  We have a system that works very well.  Why?  Because we don’t need to have observers sent to our country to oversee our elections.  We are considered the best, or one of the best, nations on the planet.  So I challenge anyone who reads this to vote in every election from now on.  Consider it a very serious obligation.  Make yourself heard and take your responsibility to heart.  Keep yourself informed.

Oh, and an interesting fact.   A high percentage of the voters chose the Republican ballot in Burlington, MA.  Why?  My guess is that is was the more interesting ballot.  Lots more to choose from for starters.  Also, it turns out, my town has a lot of registered Republicans.  I had no idea.  I still have no idea what the percentages are.  I’ll have to look into that.  And look into the percentage of Democrats.  And Green Party.  (I think there were at least four Greet Party votes on Tuesday.)

And now the Campaign Season is in full progress! 

*Early Childhood and Development 65 (class was two times a week, was an introductory to Human Sexuality, commonly known as Sex twice a week)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I began making jewelry about one and one half years after my husband passed away.  (I have to admit, I was devastated.... I thought we'd reach retirement age at least.)  Why did I start?  Because my BFF told me to.  Plain and simple.  That was good enough for me.  There are some people we listen to in life and I listen to Biffie (sorry for the nickname but you know, I kind of like it!). 

There are two things:  one, I always LOVED gems and jewelry.  As a little girl, when I read fairy tales about queens and princesses and rubies and sapphires and emeralds..... and diamonds.... I just thought everyone had them.  Boy was I in for a big disappointment.

Two, Biffie had just seen me drop a fair amount of money. We were on vacation on Cape Cod.  There was this gorgeous necklace that matched my favorite earrings and looked so wonderful.  It was a birthday present to myself.  (Later, during the vacation, I found a great bracelet that matches quite nicely, I just had to have it.  I have received compliments and once, asked where the assembly could be purchased, it was the colors she wanted for her wedding, she was dreaming, looks this good take time and effort)  One day I will manage a photo with the earrings, necklace and bracelet.  I will get there, I will learn how to post photos!

And I have strayed from the path.  This past week or so, I have spent very industriously producing new ornaments.  I have felt inspired.  That helps so much.  Photos will definitely follow, on facebook, certainly, and on the soon to be announced website.  Yes, but I have to get it up and running first.  This whole 21st century stuff takes a while to digest.  If only I could put a little bling on it.

Friday, February 3, 2012

What Dreams Are Made Of

Apparently, most girls when growing up dream of the most perfect prom gown and the most perfect wedding gown.  How do I know this?  Personally from my niece and also from watching “Say to the Dress”.  I know, you have completely lost all respect for me.  Not because I listen to my niece, but because I watch that show.  It’s a recent obsession.   I had no idea.  I had never spent two minutes thinking about dresses.  Truly.  But I’ve always thought about jewelry.  More about that some other time.

“Say Yes to the Dress” is for me quite the entertaining show.  First, because I hate shopping.   Well, I’m not allowed to say hate.  Some other, younger nieces remind me of this repeatedly.  So I abhor, detest, cannot tolerate, will avoid at all costs, dodge, make up excuses, will go so far as to break a bone and end up in the emergency room if one so much as mentions the word shopping, that is how much I prefer other activities to shopping.  But back to the show.  All the folks that the bride brings along tend to be a bit non-supportive and overwhelming.  (You really must watch at least one episode! It gets addicting.)  I cannot believe rational human beings treat their loved ones this way. 

This part is not, I repeat not, late breaking news.  I have been married.  Twenty seven years ago.  I even wore a wedding gown.  Guess what?  It didn’t cost thousands of dollars, didn’t take hours and hours of emotional toll with a gaggle of relatives and friends to vote.  We found one.  It fit.  It looked great.  It fit the budget.  Voila!  We moved on to the next item on the list.  But I am a practical woman.  I didn’t spend hours and days mooning over how wonderful and perfect my wedding day would be.  I never thought about it at all.  Until I had to.  The only part I actually contemplated was the engagement ring.  I’m very picky.  I did receive what I wanted.  That’s how I knew we were perfect.  These women go on and on and on….. spending money on so much that is so fleeting.  Just to make it their perfect day.  While the whole effect is nice, it doesn’t last.  Really.  Can you spend 50% less and get almost the same effect?  Do you really need 15 attendants?  On each side?

What amazes me in watching these wedding shows is how much money is spent.  If someone offered me half the sum that is spent I would take the money and run and use the funds as a down-payment on a home.  So much more practical.  Especially in these perilous times.  By the way, even by the standards of the time, my wedding was a marvel of economy with tons of fun.  It all comes down to the planning.  But in the end, we all do what we want and that’s what makes us happy.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Musings on a Red or White Kitchen and Football

It was an exciting evening as the beloved Patriots won their division (perhaps with Myra's intervention and the prayers of Patriot nation).  Who knows?  As long as that kick went wrong, this is one gal who won't question.  Then the Giants won in overtime.  Yeehaw!  The Superbowl is going to be fun!  My friend Geri and I will be bending our brains to figure out a bet (see  We'll come up with something I'm sure.  Anyway, just after the beloved Patriots won, I started to cook dinner.....

A few years ago, we had our kitchen redone.  While this is not uncommon, for us, this was huge.  Our home was built in 1955 and the kitchen was done in Harvest Gold..... metal cabinets and appliances.  With a wonderful grayish formica counter.  And a weird yellowish linoleum floor.  To complete the picture, the kitchen was divided in half by a half wall/bookcase type structure.  Very hard to work with.  It had tons of possibilities but needed money.  For years, Tas (my late husband) kept asking when he could tear down the wall.  I told him if he did that, he'd have to tear up the floor.  If he tore up the floor, then we'd have to tear out the cabinets...... You see where I'm going with this.

Finally, one day (16 years later) we had the funds to realize my dream- new kitchen!  As the house and every room in it is small, I lean towards lighter colors.  I wanted a white kitchen.  White appliances (not stainless, as magnets wouldn't stick and where would I put my souvenir collection?), white cabinets and granite counters, that grey/white/black that goes with everything.  The point is that these will go with everything and I could change decor whenever I wanted.  More importantly, if we ever sold and it wasn't a tear down (yeah right, it will be a tear down), the buyers would manage to do what they want.  And live with this in the meantime.  But this brings me to my current musings....

I should have done the kitchen in red....  I love to cook.  I love red wine.  I am a klutz.  I find myself cooking many dishes with a tomato base.  I seem to have a certain flair that sends some of the sauce a bit around the kitchen.  I also seem to have a knack for nicking myself with a knife from time to time.  (Please be assured that I take care of cuts immediately and don't poison anybody.)  I also cook with red wine and it gets splashed around.  So a little red around the kitchen.  Or a lot of red around the kitchen.  Especially when I make tomato sauce.  With red wine.  That includes stuff that I cut up.

Which reminds me of the time Tas was washing dishes and washing a glass (the dishwasher for some reason wasn't working) and it broke and gashed one of his fingers.  Badly.  He showed it to me.  Okay.  There is a reason I work in offices and not the medical field.  Really.  The only red I want to see is from tomatoes.  And wine of course.  But I do know this.  If you cut yourself, keep the damn thing above your heart.  That way, it is harder for the blood to pump up there or something.  Just keep it above your heart.  Trust me.  A competent person told me this.  So I told Tas that when he showed me the cut (I stayed just this side of fainting) that we were going to the hospital and wrap it in "this" (I don't remember what this is) and keep it above his heart.  I loved this man with all my heart but he chose this moment to question my knowledge!  Why!  I know, he was freaked out about the damage to his finger, he was a musician and here was his wife, a clearly non-medical person telling him to do something that seemed to be medical.  Thankfully, the hospital was a mile away.  Here's the best part.  At the emergency room, the first thing he was told was to get that finger above his heart.  Vindication is so, so sweet!  He had been challenging me on that piece of advice and wouldn't do it until he heard it from someone else. 

But back to my kitchen... I do like that it is still white.   sort of.  If one doesn't look too closely.  As long as I keep up with the cleaning.  I just made a nice tomato sauce with sausages for dinner tonight while watching the football games. I am very excited that the Patriots will have a chance to meet the Giants at the Superbowl!  Geri and I will be watching!

Friday, January 13, 2012

New York City- A Celebration of Family

Back in September or October, my local purveyor of spirits had certain wines for sale..... expensive wines, but those one wouldn't usually find in a retail store.  So, I conceived a notion to have a wine-tasting party.  I would invite family and friends and we would taste, imbibe and eat good food.  It had been a while since I had hosted any event at my home.   The time was ripe.  One of the "high class" wines that I acquired was a merlot, a wine that one of my sisters likes to enjoy, though not to excess.  This particular sister (I have a few) was due up in our area to bring her daughter to visit colleges in November.  I planned accordingly......

We all know the saying, proverb, what ever one wants to call it.  Man plans, God laughs.  This sister made it up a day late and couldn't stay.  I love my sis, I gave her the bottle of wine I saved for her.  She said we'd drink it together......

So we did.  I went to visit her a month later, just after her birthday.  It was a delicious bottle, even if I do prefer Cabernet Sauvignon.  The next day, we went into NYC to have lunch with lots of relatives.  Or Brunch.  At Tavern on Jane.  It's in the Village.  I think.  I can tell you this:  their weekend brunch is absolutely wonderful and I had a great time.  It gets crowded in there.  If you think you'll be with a crowd, call ahead and see if you can get the back room.  Much more spacious (by comparison only).  The food is great.  The price is right (especially for NYC!). 
At this point, I would insert a picture of me sitting under the sign "Tavern on Jane" but I am a 20th century person who is slowly learning to function in the 21st.  (There will be photos someday, if only to prove I can do it.)  I must say, I had no idea there was a Jane Street in NYC.  My parents never told me. Though it might have not crossed their minds.  I still have that photo of my mother, my older brother, myself and the next youngest sister at the little red lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge.  It's on the fridge.  Oh, didn't you know there's a lighthouse?  It's under the GW Bridge!  NY side.  It was there before the bridge.  Someone wrote a children's book about it.  But I've digressed.  (If you are sitting in the passenger seat in a car, driving south on the Henry Hudson Parkway just north of the GW, you can see the lighthouse, but only in the winter as the foliage will block your view otherwise.)  

Back to the subject at hand, though the sighting of the lighthouse was certainly one of my highlights that weekend.  There is more, much more.  Importantly more.  Our cousin joined us with two of her three offspring, a boyfriend of one as well as the son of one of our West Coast cousin's son.  I'd give you names but I don't have permission, releases etc.  Anyway, it was a lovely gathering of relatives.  I do love hanging out with the younger generation for the energy!

After the meal, three of us went down to the World Trade Center site.  Of course, it is all closed off, there is a lot building going on, and the entrance to the memorial site requires prior registration, tickets and picture identifications.  We did not plan ahead.  It was enough to be in the area.  There is a lot of building in the site.  I took some photos, I think I felt obligated.  We walked by the station house of the closest FDNY that responded.  There is also a very large plaque around the corner from that. 

It was a wonderful day.  I explored lots of areas in the city in which I was born.  It was bittersweet as I was surrounded by love from those I love though I visited an area of grief.  Despite the seriousness of the location, the implication that one must treat this particular parcel of land with reverence, this is what came back to me:  My mother, a born and bred New Yorker, said this about 9/11 "If anyone can handle this, it's New York."  God Bless NYC.  They keep showing us they way.