Life Archives

February 29, 2008

Real Life

Back to reality, and even more so for some.

My eldest son is a junior in high school, with all the highs and lows of that year seemingly crashing down on him at once. He has his driver's license, a written agreement between himself and us detailing car usage and payments for insurance and gas, and the resulting increase in delicious freedom and frightening responsibility. He's already dealing with the financial and family consequences of a minor fender-bender. After I said Thank God you're OK and so is the other guy, I wanted to kill him.Instead, I had him deal with it.

He's always done just enough schoolwork to get himself a B+ average, despite our urging him to apply himself more and rise to his abilities and our expectations. Now, as he looks at colleges and sees how competetive the application process is, he's finally putting that extra hour into studying for math tests. He's almost 17, and is worried because he really isn't sure yet what to major in. Maybe Engineering. Maybe Management, maybe Computer Science, maybe Political Sceince. You don't need to make that decision yet, we say. And yet as we look at college applications, we see that if he does in fact need to apply to the college of Engineering at many of the universities he's considering. He's taking his first stab at the SAT this weekend, and my laid-back, laconic son is terrified.

I promise him it'll all work out, that decisions and results he makes at 17 are fluid, and not responsible for the rest of his life. But when the guidance counselor, his friends, the well-meaning mother of a friend he runs into at the store, and his parents all seem to be watching, pressuring, and tugging him along--I sometimes want to fold him back into my arms, pretend he's three again and Mommy can make it all better for him. But it's time for him to make his own dreams, missteps, and forays out into the world, and I can only step back and wave.

March 5, 2008

Quote of the Day

I love Thomas Jefferson. He wrote volumes and volumes, and if you can pick apart the lengthy posturing and wandering subjects, there are some gems to ponder.

"With the same honest views, the most honest men often form different conclusions." --Thomas Jefferson to Robert Livingston, 1801

March 11, 2008

Three Things

Three Things I Learned from my Father:

1. How to change a flat tire. AAA or your boyfriend isn't always going to be around.
2. Dividing fractions. He accomplished what Mrs. Davis could not.
3. That dignity isn't dependent on having a body that walks typically, or can work buttonholes, or keep hands still.

Continue reading "Three Things" »

March 14, 2008

Thirty Years Later

My oldest son was complaining about needing to memorize 30 lines from Macbeth for Monday, and map out stage directions that he'll use for his delivery. He asked the very reasonable question, "why is this important enough to devote a chunk of time to?"


Well, I said. It shows you've thought about and considered the text, how and why it has purpose in the play. It helps you develop your memorization skills, which are useful wherever life takes you. Poetry blooms when it is spoken. And, it gives you a chance to join in when your mother, aunts and grandmother compete to see who can remember the most poetry that they memorized in school.

It's a "thing" in my family, usually whenever there's been a holiday dinner with a bit too much wine. We take turns reciting all the poetry we were forced to memorise. We prompt each other with the forgotten lines, or complete passages together. We all love to do "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", by T.S. Elliot especially because we all get a kick out of shouting "and the women come and go, talking of Michaelangelo" and "I have measured out my life in coffee spoons." There's no way we can recite the thing separately, we need each other. We make fun of each other's fake British accents when reciting Shakespeare. I can also do a long speech from Portia in The Merchant of Venice that I memorized in high school, and a poem by Elizabeth Barret Browning that for some reason recited at elementary school graduation. Those who married into the family roll their eyes at us.

But yes, it's wonderful to have these amazing patterns of words tucked into our brains that we can share and enjoy together. Human beings make words, and share them. That's the real reason, Dan.

"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" behind the cut. Close the door if you must, but read it aloud.

Continue reading "Thirty Years Later" »

March 23, 2008



To go along with Kim's Hamentashen Tutorial, here's a photo of some of my hamentashen this year. I experimented with a chocolate dough, which while delicious, needs some extra moisture to make shaping easier. Next year. My favorite filling remains apricot, which I make by simmering dried apricots with orange juice and Amaretto, then pureeing.

It was really chilly yesterday, with highs in the upper 30's. I made homemade mac and cheese, which I sneak a lot of vegetables into. Ziti, blanched broccoli, spinach, peas, a zippy cheddar, and a light bechaemel to bind everything.


I finished up the Powerpoint slideshow for a presentation this week. 121 slides. Is it too early for a celebratory scotch?

And look what popped up this morning! Chag Aviv!


March 28, 2008

Silly Stuff--the "Names" MeMe

One of those silly MeMe's--this one is on names. the answers are pretty giggle-worthy.

1. Your rock star name (first pet, current car):
Morgan Lexus (Hey, I bought it used!)

2. Your gangsta name (fave ice cream flavour, favourite type of shoe)
Coconut Ballerina Flat (LOL. World's lamest gangsta)

3. Your Native American name (favourite colour, favourite animal):
Blue Cat (boring)

4. Your soap opera name (middle name, city where you were born):
Ruth Boston (Gawd, she probably wears ugly shoes)

5. Your Star Wars name (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 of your first name):
Gilam (sounds like I'd have fins, too)

Continue reading "Silly Stuff--the "Names" MeMe" »

March 30, 2008

NTOH Depressive Disorder


Yes, that's No Trip on the Horizon Depressive Disorder. It's the cause of my minor funk this weekend, and I honestly was shocked by the level of sadness I was feeling last night.

For the past 12 years, there's always been a trip in the works--either with the kids, or, even more special, one for just myself and Larry. As a family, we've been to Italy twice, Paris once, the Southwest US, California, D.C., Cape Cod, and Sanibel Island Florida. I've been to Israel three times for work. My parents have stayed with the kids while we've been on short trips to Venice, Napa, and London. For the past three summers, Larry and I have managed to use ff miles to travel to Italy or France while the boys were happily mucking about in the woods at sleepaway camp.

Continue reading "NTOH Depressive Disorder" »

April 26, 2008

College Road Trip--Pennsylvania

Applying to and getting into college these days is more science than art. With so many kids applying, parents, teens, and those who prey on their fears tend to enter into a whirlwind of anxiety and angst during Junior year, and many well before that. I saw several terrifying books in the library promoting intensive four-year plans for college admission that would put a marketing genius to shame. There are simply too many college-bound kids, and not enough spaces in the popular colleges.

I have a middle-of-the-road kid. The B+ average in high-level classes, decent test scores, and state champion Mock Trial team membership make him just one among thousands. He writes extremely well, likes History, does well enough in math, and hates Chemistry. He's not terribly ambitious at this point, and really has no grand plan for his future. Maybe Business, maybe Political Science or Law, maybe Engineering or Computer Science. In short, a typical 17 year old. I'm a firm believer in letting career and personal goals unfold as they do naturally, and hold no patience with those who proclaim that the four years one spends in which college will determine future happiness. That said, it is obvious that each kid needs to find a place that is a good match for them personally and academically.

To help Dan try to whittle down choices, we spent a few days visiting a variety of colleges, mostly in the Pennsylvania area.We were mostly focusing on "type" to see what sort of environment appeals, as a way to explore what sorts of schools to actually apply to.

Here's some shots from the University of Pittsburgh.



Continue reading "College Road Trip--Pennsylvania" »

May 3, 2008

Cold, Wet, Dreary Saturday

It's a dismal day, I have a pile of work to do, and all I want to do is climb under my quilt and take a nap.

Umm. Nap. On the other hand, these Developmentals won't write themselves.

I'll be entertaining tomorrow, OK? Or at least have cake. In the meantime, some purple lilacs and tulips from my garden.


This even more self-indulgent entry than usual brought to you by the letter P, for Procrastinate.

May 12, 2008



May 17, 2008

That's Sportsmanship, Gentlemen


Continue reading "That's Sportsmanship, Gentlemen" »

May 23, 2008


From small


To large


The robin's nest is in the rhododendron bush not three feet from my front porch. Considering that my boys are incapable of entering or exiting without slamming, these must be very tolerant birds. Since we discovered the nest we've been using the side door instead. Lucy the cat has been glued to the sofa under the living room window, squeaking in vain as the parents fly back and forth. The turkey, who the neighborhood calls George for reasons I've never understood, is a fixture on the street. He's been known to chase the mailman.

June 1, 2008

Nana's Irises

Busy, busy. School ends this week, and I've spent the entire weekend pulling together a slideshow for the school picnic, and making "Goodbye Books" for the kids in my class.


My grandmother's irises are putting on a spectacular show this year. Her house, a rather rundown triple decker, had a scraggly line of irises along the chainlink fence. She was not a gardener at all, and I wonder who planted them. They always managed to bloom in the Spring, and she was quite proud of her only flowers.

When she died and we were getting the house ready to sell (which involved three truckloads of 50-year old junk to be hauled to the dump), my cousins and I dug up the irises. My cousins and my aunts each took a few clumps for our own gardens. They were a bit slow in establishing, but now each June they explode, and remind me of Nana.


June 4, 2008

This is the Moment, World

In our country, I have found that this cooperation happens not because we agree on everything, but because behind all the false labels and false divisions and false categories that divide us, behind all the petty bickering and point-scoring that goes on in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes. And every so often, there are moments which call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again.

Continue reading "This is the Moment, World" »

June 18, 2008

Scary Oatmeal


When I was five or so, I saw a commercial for instant oatmeal, and badgered my mother into buying it. I'm sure she gave in simply because she thought she'd get something healthy into me, and it was better than the Cocoa Krispies I was also campaigning for.

Of course, I sat at the kitchen table sobbing because the smell and appearance was too scary to contemplate actually putting it into my mouth, and my mother would not let me get up until I had at least tasted it. She got tired before I did.

Amy 1, oatmeal 0.

Continue reading "Scary Oatmeal" »

July 9, 2008

Someone's Been Busy

"George" the neighborhood turkey seems to have been busy this Spring.


August 10, 2008

Blah Blah


Ugh. Migraine last night, for the first time in years and years. Of course I no longer had meds, so was reduced to overdosing on Tylenol PM and whimpering with a cold washcloth over my eyes in between bouts of nausea. Larry was at Evan's camp for Dad's weekend, so I only had Lucy for sympathy. A hot shower at 3 am helped, but that was it for sleep. I feel more human now, but rather wiped out from the PM part of the Tylenol.

So, now that I'm home, I need to be serious about the next trip, the Dreaded Cruise with the MIL. Alaska part is done, with bookings for fishing, kayaking, and whale watching. The weather looks to be horrid, oh joy. We begin with three days in Seattle, which I've done nothing about beyond booking a place to stay. Must read guidebook, Or I will be forced to post a thread on SlowTrav entitled "I'm Going to Seattle, What's Good To See there?" and I will likely be stoned by my fellow Mods.

Continue reading "Blah Blah" »

August 11, 2008



For your amusement, here's a photo of my son Evan's bunk at camp. When he comes home, we empty out the trunk in the driveway, and throw out all the socks and t shirts that are beyond bleach.

Continue reading "Boys" »

August 12, 2008

Book Meme

Stolen from Kim.

The premise of this exercise is that the National Endowment for the Arts apparently believes that the average American has only read 6 books from the list below.

Continue reading "Book Meme" »

September 2, 2008

Subways I Have Traveled On

Got at!

September 7, 2008

Back to School Bullet Points

* I have preschool Back-to-School night tonight. Believe me, those of you who have sat in the tiny seats for these things--it's far worse when you're standing in front facing a sea of parents who are more frightened than their children will be this week. I tell the mommies, we hug you too.

* I will shortly be going to Staples for the third time this weekend. I kid you not.

* Eldest son was supposed to take AP Government, and was instead given AP Psychology. No one is happy about this. His new guidance counselor told him the class is full, and is not returning my phone calls.

* Youngest son's desk is already in danger of being classified as a hazardous waste dump.

* This year's "What were they thinking?" names from my class include some oldfashioned and new age-y novelties; although no Daniel or Max for the first time in years. Two Bens, though.

* Already behind in paperwork.

* Need to plan out more college visits with eldest son, in between other weekend obligations.

* Must finish classroom prep--new charts, info for parents, plan activities for transitioning into school. There goes today.

* Time for an afternoon espresso.

September 16, 2008

O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month


O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. In honor of Gina DePalma, author of Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen and Executive Pastry Chef of Babbo Ristorante in NYC, who was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Sara of Ms Adventures in Italy, Jenn of The Leftover Queen, and Michelle of Bleeding Espresso are asking you to donate to the:

Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (via

and then, out of the goodness of your hearts and to be eligible for the O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month Contest, please do the following:

Continue reading "O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month" »

October 22, 2008

Questions of the Day


When did "yum yum" get replaced by"nom nom"?

Why do small children choose to vomit when they're sitting on my lap?

Why does College Board give three different timeframes for reporting SAT scores to colleges? And why can't you talk to someone there who actually knows what the hell they're doing?

What is the appropriate response when someone who you don't really know well asks "Can I tell you something?" and you really, really want to repond "NO! Go AWAY!"

Is there anything more essential to mental health that keeping tabs on Cute Overload?

Is it Friday yet?

Why do bad things have to happen to good people?

Why does Connecticut exist? Seriously, why? I have spent a fair portion of my life driving through it getting between Boston and New York, and I don't get it.

Why, when some jackass makes an ethnic or racial comment, do they always say "No offense", as if that stops it from being offensive?

Have I finished my school newsletter yet? Don't answer that.

October 30, 2008



(unknown source, but seen all over the web today)

October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Joe 6-pack is not buying it, Sarah.


November 2, 2008

The Best Thing Ever

Make sure your speakers are on. Watch the whole thing. You'll thank me.

November 3, 2008

One Day More

I don't know who these glorious idiots are, but I love them.

November 4, 2008

Election Day 2008


What this day needs is more West Wing quotes. Enjoy, and go vote!

Josiah 'Jed' Bartlett: We hold these truths to be self-evident, they said, that all men are created equal. Strange as it may seem, that was the first time in history that anyone had bothered to write that down. Decisions are made by those who show up. Class dismissed. Thank you everyone. God bless you. And God bless America.

Leo: We're going to lose some of these battles. And we might even lose the White House. But we're not going to be threatened by issues. We're gonna put them front and center. We're going to raise the level of public debate in this country. And let that be our legacy.

Leo: They say a good man can't get elected President. I don't believe that, do you?

Continue reading "Election Day 2008" »

November 5, 2008

So Damn Proud, America

President-Elect Obama, you are history, but more than that, you are hope and vision the likes of which this country needs to begin believing in each other and the future again.

Hello, Chicago.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

Continue reading "So Damn Proud, America" »

November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day--Any Soldier

I urge you to visit
and let someone over there know that we have not forgotten them. Please also consider contacting your representatives and let them know that supporting our troops should be something more than a bumper sticker. We should not rest until Veterans Day is every day, and those who have served can be assured that they will have access to shelter, quality medical care, and education.

November 17, 2008

Yes, He's Going to College!


November 29, 2008

MeMe--Photo Mosaic

Meme Photo Mosaic
1. Answer each of the questions below using the Flickr Search engine.

2. Choose a photo from the first three pages.

3. Copy the URL of your favorite photo into this site:

4. Share!


name: Amy
favorite food: Sushi
hometown: Boston
favorite color: Blue
celebrity crush: Alan Rickman (pre-Snape)
favorite drink: Champagne
dream vacation: Japan
favorite dessert: Bread Pudding
what I most want to be when I grow up: traveler
what I love most in the world: Family
one word that describes me: trying
my posting name: real

Continue reading "MeMe--Photo Mosaic" »

December 30, 2008

NYC and Back Home

We've been in NYC over the past several days. As usual with our trips to NY, we have so many family comittments we barely have time to see or do anything of more interest than breakfast at my parent's apartment or dealing with Larry's mother's vcr traumas. Please, don't ask. Really.

In any case, we saw my parents, both my sisters, the parent's puppy (still cheerfully insane, but thankfully housebroken), sister S's fiancee, my extended family for Jewish Christmas in Chinatown, Larry's mother, Larry's mother's vcr, and at Dan's request, the Second Avenue Deli for an overpriced but truly excellent hot pastrami sandwich. We did sneak out for lunch with friends. Shh, don't tell Larry's mother.

I've been a very bad blogger, and didn't blog or even take photos. However, you do get a photo of Leni the Psychotic Feral Cat who comes with the loaned apartment of friends of my parents where we stayed. My parents live in a one-bedroom NY apartment; and six people staying there is just not fun. Thankfully, their friends S & L go away every year, and let Larry and I stay in their apartment on West 97th.

Leni is under her blanket, where she stays when she's not growling and hissing from on top of the bed in the other room. Last year we thought we wouldn't be able to use the bed, until we figured how to get Leni off without us suffering scratches from shoulder to knee.
I swear, you can almost hear this cat thinking "Assholes! Assholes! Go Away! Not my People!"

She stays there and growls whenever someone tries to sit on the sofa. However, we did learn that leftover Chicken lo mein gets her almost sociable. She took a sliver of chicken from me, and then hissed, spat, and ran back under the blanket.

After four days, she decided it was ok to sit on top of the blanket and glare at us. ("Assholes! Get more chicken!") See you next year, Leni. We'll bring chicken.


January 7, 2009

What Your Child's Preschool Teacher Wants You to Know


1. Many of us are also parents. We do understand, really. Being a parent is hard, hard work. You have our utmost respect and compassion for the job you're doing.

2. We've known a lot of children over the years. However, we have never met yours before, so we'd really love you to tell us as much about him as possible at the beginning of the school year. It will make things easier for him in the classroom, and save us all time and energy for when we need to problem solve together.

3. Label, label, label. Young children often do not recognise their own clothing, especially when new. And it will really help in Winter after recess, when the cubby area can look like the end of the Filene's Basement Bridal Sale. Silver laundry pens will work on dark clothing and boots. Mitten clips are everyone's friend. Waterproof mittens with velcro are a great invention, and will keep your child's hands warm and dry.

4. Your child needs to choose his own friends. They may not necessarily be your choice of playmates for whatever reason. But if you can respect his relationships and help guide him when issues arise it will help more in his social growth than your micromanaging his friendships. Show him how to be a caring friend, and he will have friends.

Continue reading "What Your Child's Preschool Teacher Wants You to Know" »

January 20, 2009

Leo Was Right.


What a day, people. What a day. Godspeed, Barak Obama.

Although Rick Warren can Bite Me. What part of "inclusion" do you not understand?

January 21, 2009

41 About Me

Shamelessly copied from Cindy, among others.


1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? My Hebrew name is Hanna Rivkah, after my great-grandmothers. It was anglicised to Amy Ruth.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? Yesterday while watching the inaguration.

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? Gawd, no. It's really dreadful.

4. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? Yup. One will be leaving the nest in August, the other three years later. I'll miss them like crazy, but I'm also looking forward to this new stage in life.


6. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Not as often as I could; more often than I really should.


8. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? I'd rather have dental surgery without anesthetic.

9. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Irish steel-cut oatmeal, with yogurt, date honey and dried apricots.

10. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? I don't wear shoes with ties usually.

11. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? People think I am; but I just don't think I've been really, truly tested yet.

12. FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Ginger-Honey Gelato from Dolce Italiano.

Continue reading "41 About Me" »

February 4, 2009

Where I Work

Some photos of my classroom. Preschoolers learn through play, and here's some of the things we do at school.


Kids at the sand table. As kids play here they form ideas about how materials behave, explore their ideas, and work hard to learn to get along with each other. They've been adding to the "World" mural in the background all year long.


I'm leading Circle here, telling a story, Afterward, kids can use the flannelboard pieces on their own to tell their version of the story, or retell what I've said.

Lots of things happen during this simple cutting and pasting activity--children use scissors to strengthen their hands for future writing, they sort and classify by color, they plan and follow through with their ideas, use sophisticated language, figure out how to share materials, create a community art project, taste and observe a real pomegranate as they create a representation, learn the Hebrew word for pomegranate (rimon)


Kids need art, to mess around with color and texture and materials. No right or wrong, just exploration and the joy of creation.


Continue reading "Where I Work" »

February 5, 2009

What the Hell?


I just woke up from one of the strangest dreams I've had in quite a while. I don't always remember my dreams, but when I do, they're technicolor oddities that could give Dr. Freud material for years. I can probably blame the Tylenol Cold PM for this.

You know that loud guy with a white buzzcut, lots of jewelry and bad taste in food who has some sort of junkfood show on the Food Network? For reasons unknown, he was ice skating in my dream wearing a very unflattering pair of cut-off shorts. Really, I don't have a clue either. And then I was driving a car in Paris with my grandmother in the backseat, and we were driving to a hotel, but I couldn't understand what my grandmother was saying because she was speaking in Yiddish. In my dream I knew it was Paris, but it looked like my parent's neighborhood in New York. Ice-skating guy made a reappearance, and then we went into the Paris Ritz, (so not where I hang out in Paris!) where I got lost and opened doors for a while. There were some dogs around, too. Yes, in the Ritz. Must have been Paris, right? *grin* I then played my guitar.

Seriously, my dreamlife is far more entertaining than my real one. Hope Grandma enjoyed the Ritz.

February 6, 2009

Ask Me


Ask me a question. Any question. I'll answer in the comments or in future blog entries. No topic is off limits, but I reserve the right to say no or respond privately.

February 8, 2009

Answers to the "Ask Me" Meme

How did you become a pre-school teacher?

After college, I was working as a litigation paralegal for a large Boston law firm. Like every good Jewish girl from New Jersey in the 80's, I was going to go to law school. A few years working with lawyers showed me how utterly miserable many of them were, no matter how interesting the work. I reevaluated. I remembered how exciting it had been working with kids in a city arts center during college, and thought I'd enjoy working with children. So, I went back to school for education instead of law. Working with preschoolers has a lot in common with working with lawyers, just with a lot more pee.

Amy, Amy I have an "idea" for you.
I love kids and I don't get to see many, so since you work with kids, and we are all about travel and vacations, how about you "interview" few kids in you class regarding their "favorite" idea of vacation. A trip they have taken with their family? Some place they have seen Dora go to. Whatever, you can invoke their imaginations!

Candi, I actually did that a few months ago when we were doing a Transportation unit. I'll copy their dictations for a future blog entry, they're very funny.

Barb Cabot:
How did you meet your husband? Just curious...since Valentine's day is coming up.

Barb, we met while working at a summer camp, in 1977. I was a Junior Counselor, he was the Athletics counselor. Guess which ST member was a camper at the camp at that time?

Okay, I'm curious about your collection of artwork with pomegranates. And are there other things you collect?

Annie, I'll do a photo post for you another day. Besides things with pomegranates on them, I've collected Hall teapots (depression-era deco teapots which I can no longer afford), cookbooks on Jewish cooking, and Pueblo Storyteller figures.

Amy, where is this photo taken?

Candi and Sandra, the photo was taken in Diano d'Alba, a small town in Piemonte, from the portico of a church.


And what is your favourite place in all of the world?
And (just to be mischievous) what do you think was the worst post you have ever seen on Slow Travel? I leave you to define "worst."

Sandra, my favorite place in the world is wherever I happen to be vacationing at that time. *grin* But so far, my favorite places, the ones I long to return to, are Paris, Haifa, Wellfleet, and Piemonte. The worst post on SlowTrav? I'd have to say the ones that are deliberately cruel on a personal level, posted with the intention to hurt feelings.

Ooh, the power (wringing my hands and twirling my thin mustache). Hmmm....don't want to waste it, Okay "What is the airspeed velocity of a laden sparrow?" :D

Kim, African or European? *grin*

Continue reading "Answers to the "Ask Me" Meme" »

February 9, 2009

Can Spring Be On the Way?

Yesterday the temperature hit 48 in Boston. We had a fair amount of melting, but are still stuck with a thick layer of snow, large piles, and a dark grimy crust alongside the roads. It'll be back down to the low 30's today. But look who was enjoying the warmth next to my dryer vent!


February 10, 2009

What Country Am I?

Seen on Annie's blog.

You Are Sweden
You are a calm, soft spoken person. You are well mannered and classy.
You enjoy listening and learning. You are open to new ideas.

You are very moderate. You don't over do anything and shy away from extremism.
You have an eye for design. You can see the beauty in simple things.

That dull, huh? LOL

February 11, 2009

Trip Reports from the Preschool Set

In my 'Ask Me" meme, Candi wondered about travel stories from children. Here are some dictations from my class about their travel experiences. Note that the dictation is taken directly "as is" to preserve the children's exact wording as a way of documenting expressive language. The children range in age from just three to a bit over four.

A few common themes--family, getting there, sleeping, and eating. Preschoolers don't care much about the "must sees." *grin*

Continue reading "Trip Reports from the Preschool Set" »

February 15, 2009

How many students does it take to screw in a lightbulb at...

In celebration of nearing the end of "OMG My Kid is Applying to College and We're Gonna be in Huge Whopping Debt to the Institution of Higher Education of his Choice" year, I give you...

How many students does it take to screw in a lightbulb at...

Vanderbilt: Two--one to call the electrician and one to call daddy to pay the bill

Princeton: Two--one to mix the martinis and one to call the electrician

Brown: Eleven--one to change the lightbulb and ten to share the experience

Dartmouth: None--Hanover doesn't have electricity

Cornell: Two--One to change the lightbulb and one to crack under the pressure

Penn: Only one, but he gets six credits for it

Columbia: Seventy-six-- one to change the lightbulb, fifty to protest the lightbulb's right to not change, and twenty-five to hold a counter protest

Yale: None--New Haven looks better in the dark

Harvard: One--he holds the bulb and the world revolves around him

Continue reading "How many students does it take to screw in a lightbulb at..." »

February 23, 2009

Things I've Done

This list has been floating around among the February Bloggers. The things I've done are marked with an asterick.

*Started your own blog
*Slept under the stars
*Played in a band (flute, then violin, then guitar)
Visited Hawaii (really want to some day!)
*Watched a meteor shower (whenever possible. We're astronomy geeks)
Given more than you can afford to charity
Been to Disneyland/world (yes, it's possible)
*Climbed a mountain
*Held a praying mantis (very cool)
*Sang a solo

Continue reading "Things I've Done" »

February 26, 2009

Pointless Post

Am headachy; rather tired of those over the age of four who still find whining a good use of their and everyone else's time; freezing my butt off; and not happy about my online essay response that's due to be posted in 2 1/2 hours.

Amuse me?

**Makes puppy-dog eyes at the internet**

March 12, 2009

Top Ten Reasons Knitting is Better than Therapy


Top Ten Reasons Knitting is Better than Therapy (by Knitpurlgirl)

10.) Yarn doesn’t nod and ask you how you feel about that.
9.) You don’t have to work through your issues.. you can just poke things with pointy sticks
8.) You can get more than one hour of yarn therapy for that $150
7.) You don’t blame your mother for all of your knitting mistakes
6.) It is perfectly acceptable to conduct your yarn therapy at Starbucks.. psychotherapy, not so much
5.) The only shock therapy you endure is with wool, metal needles, and a fast hand
4.) The only chemicals you put into your body are tea , coffee , martinis, or chocolate.. and you can take them DURING therapy
3.) Your insurance premiums won’t increase
2.) You can enjoy yarn therapy on vacation; in your jammies; in bed; on the train/bus/subway; in the park; or at work (secretly).


1.) You can’t fondle your therapist

March 16, 2009

The Dark Side of Student Loans

Remember your college loan? Mine was under $100 a month, pretty affordable even on my paltry salary in 1982. College costs have skyrocketed since 1980, and yet the financial aid formula expects parents to live on $27,000 a year, giving the rest of their income; and just about all their savings, to the college of their child's choice. Of course, the colleges cheerfully suggest loans, and hand out Stafford loans which are currently at 6.80%.

We did some calculations.

If a student takes out a principal amount of $5,000 a year in loans with a 10-year payment period, his monthly repayment will be $292.59 a month.

If he takes out $20,000 a year (which is a necessity at many private colleges which may cost $47,000 a year) his monthy repayment would be $1,170.38. Even in the best case scenario where a student graduates with a degree that's in demand and is making $40,000 a year, his take-home pay would be $2,145. Take away the $1170.38 he's paying for his student loan, and he's trying to live on $974.61 a month. Try paying for rent, food, transportation, and other essentials, boys and girls.

To really make your blood pressure rise, listen to this NPR segment, and read the comments.
The Dark Side of Student Loans

March 18, 2009

Signs of Spring in New England

The robin's nest in the big rhody bush is getting some repair.



March 20, 2009

Running Away from Home


Running away (about 10 minutes away, but it's the thought that counts, right?) this weekend to celebrate our anniversary a bit early. A walk in Boston, a museum, a good dinner, a nice hotel with a steal of a weekend rate.

March 23, 2009


We had a nice, relaxing mini getaway over the weekend. Just walking away from the "stuff" that occupies our minds these days--work uncertainties, college payments, extended family dramas, laundry and errands and orthodontists, Oh My. A small respite was needed.

We stayed in the Kendall Hotel in Cambridge, a newer hotel build into and behind an old fire station. It's not the most charming of neighborhoods, between MIT and the glass canyons of the biotech and engineering firms of Kendall Square, but the T is right across the street. In 3 minutes we could be watching sunlight glint off the Charles River as we crossed the bridge onto Beacon Hill; or coming up the subway stairs into bustling Central Square or Harvard Square in the other direction. It's a pleasant hotel, decorated in antiques, reproductions, and pretty fabrics. Very nice staff, comfortable, quiet rooms, free parking and breakfast. I'd recommend it.

But what is it today with the mountain of pillows on hotel beds?


Ate a great lunch in Central Square, in one of the Indian restaurants we used to go to back in our own student days. Shalimar, on Mass Ave, very good. Took the T across the river to Boston. We walked up and down around Beacon Hill for a while, stopped for coffee.



Dinner was at the highly rated Benatti in Cambridge's Inman Square. Inman used to be the place to go for drinks and music, and cheap food. Still is, and Benatti outprices everything in the neighborhood. The food was very good, expensive, and the service charming in the tiny room. Although my handmade tortolloni was outstanding, it was swimming in so much overly flavored sauce that I couldn;t taste the delicate spinach filling. Larry's was much better, and the scallop antipaso was wonderful. Ah well--I heard on Chowhound the owner is looking to sell.

Sunday morning we took a brief drive to look at my grandparent's old triple-decker, amazingly enough now turned into condos. That got us reminiscing about my grandmother, but that'll be the next entry.

April 17, 2009

What Teachers Make

Stay with it. It's a thing of beauty.

May 7, 2009

April Showers Bring May Flowers

So, what's with the May showers this week? Phooey.

In any case, we got some sunny breaks yesterday, so I could get some garden shots.


IMG_5834.JPG width="480" height="640" />

That wisteria has been making its way all along the top of the screened porch, and is finally hanging down above the side patio.



Stay away, bunnies!


June 9, 2009


Some photos from Dan's Prom, or rather, the traditional "Photo Op" for parents before the limo picks them up. Afterward, we went out to dinner with some of the other parents. The kids are at the prom at the Copley Plaza hotel, and then go to Southfest, a huge after-prom party at the high school until 4 am.

Isa, Dan, Harry and Emily with their flowers.
As you can see, Dan's already sporting a caddying tan.


Isa tries to get Dan's boutonaire on him without drawing blood.


The "Gang of Ten"


Watch those hands, boy.


July 10, 2009

What's Going on in the Garden

Well, the past six weeks of near constant rain and lower than usual temps haven't been too unkind to the garden, in spite of my near-neglect.


After several years of struggling with my neighbor's growing trees shading the roses around the patio; plus the aphids, japanese beetles, and mildew that plague roses when you don't want to use chemicals, I surrendered. I took up the roses that hadn't done well, only saving an old spray-flowered shrub rose and one climber. Hydrangeas have done very well for us, and I love the flower heads that change color all season. So, I bought a few more, moved the climbing hydrangea from the back garden to the patio when my neighbors replaced the fence; and aim to eventually have the patio totally surrounded by hydrangeas in white and blue, with white impatiens in front. I love how white flowers look at night when we're sitting outside.


Continue reading "What's Going on in the Garden" »

August 12, 2009

Leaving the Nest


We're taking Dan to college in two weeks. Dan's a pretty with-it kid, but even so I did need to needle him into thinking about taking more than two pairs of jeans and his laptop. OK I'm exaggerating, but not by a whole lot. Thanks to Sheri, we've begun working on The List. Most of this we're taking along, but some things we'll get once we're at Pitt, and others he'll be on his own to find.

Any additions or comments from those who have been through this gratefully accepted!

Continue reading "Leaving the Nest" »

September 26, 2009

O Foods Contest for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month


O Foods Contest for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and for the second year in a row, Sara of Ms Adventures in Italy and Michelle of Bleeding Espresso are hosting the O Foods Contest to raise awareness of this important health issue.

There are TWO WAYS to take part in the O Foods Contest:

ONE: Post a recipe to your blog using a food that starts or ends with the letter O (e.g., oatmeal, orange, okra, octopus, olive, onion, potato, tomato); include this entire text box in the post; and send your post url along with a photo (100 x 100) to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on Monday, September 28, 2009.

PRIZES for recipe posts:

* 1st: Signed copy of Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen by Gina DePalma, Executive Pastry Chef of Babbo Ristorante in NYC, who is currently battling ovarian cancer, inspired this event, and will be choosing her favorite recipe for this prize;

* 2nd: Signed copy of Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home by Mario Batali (winner chosen by Sara);

* 3rd: Signed copy of Vino Italiano: The Regional Italian Wines of Italy by Joseph Bastianich (winner chosen by Michelle).


TWO: If you’re not into the recipe thing, simply post this entire text box in a post on your blog to help spread the word and send your post url to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on Monday, September 28, 2009.

Awareness posts PRIZE:

* One winner chosen at random will receive a Teal Toes tote bag filled with ovarian cancer awareness goodies that you can spread around amongst your friends and family.


From the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund:

* Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women; a woman’s lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is 1 in 67.
* The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and subtle, making it difficult to diagnose, but include bloating, pelvic and/or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly; and urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency).
* There is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer but there are tests which can detect ovarian cancer when patients are at high risk or have early symptoms.
* In spite of this, patients are usually diagnosed in advanced stages and only 45% survive longer than five years. Only 19% of cases are caught before the cancer has spread beyond the ovary to the pelvic region.
* When ovarian cancer is detected and treated early on, the five-year survival rate is greater than 92%.

And remember, you can also always donate to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund at Michelle's page through FirstGiving!
Please help spread the word about ovarian cancer.
Together we can make enough noise to kill this silent killer.

October 11, 2009

No, Not New York

Came home from work on Friday with a sore throat, and by the next morning had a definite case of the snots. I decided to not inflict my germs on my parents, and stayed home instead of going to New York. Oh well. Sent Larry off to the Catskills to do his mother's bidding, and Evan also elected to stay home with me.

It was nice to have time to catch up with things, with nothing being particularly pressing.

Harvested some grapes from the garden yesterday.


And Yukon Gold potatoes.


Decided that chai tea smells better than it tastes.

Dropped a glass plate on the floor. Spent far too much time hunting down glass shards before I remembered the Roomba.

Went on an online shopping spree. Ordered heavier weights and resistance bands. We may go to Sanibel in February, and I want to do longer kayaking trips this time. Need to get my arms and back stronger! Also ordered an electric spice grinder and a jeans jacket (Size 8!) that was on sale.

Started the new thick wool cardigan with lacy bit at the waist. Another advantage of losing weight--smaller size sweater, less yarn, faster finishing.

I made a Yemenite Vegetable-Beef soup, loosely based on a recipe and more on one I ate in a hole-in-the-wall in Tel Aviv with Baruch the bus driver (who drove with a pistol in his lap, this was back in 2003 during the Intifada)

Continue reading "No, Not New York" »

December 2, 2009

Ready for the Scotch at 11 am


I know its a full moon, but enough already.

I hereby declare today a do-over. Wipe the slate clean, and start again.

January 20, 2010

Pissed off As Hell


I'm planning on becoming a pain in our new Senator's butt. You want to represent me, you're gonna damn well hear about MY interests, boyo. Democrats in MA--Don't get frustrated, get more active!

April 12, 2010

I Got Nuttin'


Pointless Meme, because it's just that kind of day.

3.Ms. Gilman
4. Mrs. Klein (but only from my Mother-in-Law on envelopes, because she can't understand why I kept my name)
6. Mom

1. Black exercise pants
2. A blue sports bra that's so supportive (aka tight) I feel like a cross-dressing heroine in a Shakespeare comedy.
3. Reading glasses

1. Homemade pasta with a sauce so fattening my arteries and butt should balloon instantly. But they won't.
2. My stupid paper to be done, done, done
3. Vacation to start tomorrow.

1. Watched The Pacific and wished it was as good as Band of Brothers.
2. Did not finish the blue sweater.
3. Stared at my paper.

1. Customer Service at Lands End.
2. My husband.

1. Go to work.
2. Figure out how to recycle 1/2 pound leftover grilled salmon so the Peanut Gallery won't complain about leftovers, again.
3. Get my ass back on the treadmill at a hard incline to train for hiking next week.

1. coffee
2. wine
3. scotch

1. Adam gave me a balloon for me to keep forever.
2. I get on a plane in four days.
3. Husband home at a reasonable hour.

June 8, 2010

Five Years Later...


Crappy photo, you could have put two of me in that gown, and you'd think that five bobby pins would hold on the mortarboard, but what the Hell.

January 5, 2013

The January Cure


I've signed up for The January Cure over at Apartment Therapy as a way to organize some of the de-cluttering mission I've set for this year. On the first day she had us make a list, room-by-room, of trouble spots; and then highlight the ones you think will have the most impact. I've listed them here for my own reference.

If you want to play along, sign up here:

Basket of shoes and old sporting equipment by front door
Shoe basket by stairs
Bottom of coat closet--clean out

Pantry--organize and label shelves
wash lace curtains
clean out little basket on table--do we need this basket?

Family Room
Pile of books under coffee table
Filter books from big bookcase
piles of books on end tables
get attractive trash can for Larry's desk area
paper storage solution for Larry's desk--2 baskets, 1 for home, 1 for work

Living Room
Small desk--junk on top

New wallpaper or paint
Clean out cabinet

coat rack
bench---put things away
find better storage for grocery bags

stairs to basement--better storage for canning supplies
box of Larry's computer stuff
laundry basket in hall

Laundry/Pantry room
shelves--organize by type of food, label
Clean out towel shelves

Stairs Upstairs
Papers on step
Painting Needed

Guest Room/Office Urgent!
Papers on bureau
Weed out linens from bureau
electric radiator--put in basement
box of photos on floor
top of file cabinet--piles of papers to be filed
cluttered shelves under window

Book shelves--weed out, organize
Amy's file cabinet--weed out
Amy's desk--clean
Move Evan's old desk to basement, save for kids apartment if needed

Second Floor Bathroom
Glue loose cabinet strip
New wallpaper or paint
New mirror/light strip

Evan's Room

Dan's Room


Stairs to 3rd Floor
Pile of clothes

Master Bedroom
Clothes in basket
Old Clothes to Goodwill

Master Bath
New Bathmat
Clean out cabinet and drawers

August 5, 2013

Style Cure--The Junk Room



Last Summer I started a month-long "assignment" sponsored by the site Apartment Therapy. Although I did not religiously do every assignment, it did spur me to take on some household organization and decluttering; and initiated our bathroom re-dos."Hey, let's see if we can strip the ugly wallpaper...whoops, we seem to be renovating three bathrooms ourselves."

Yeah, things can get out of hand.

In any case, this summer's cure is to focus on one room. In our case, the Office/Guest Room/Junk Room. Everyone has a Junk Room, right? Right? Please don't tell me if you don't. Or at least a closet or two. You know, the place that you put the stuff in that you don't have any other place for, or the room where you stick something ugly because it's the least seen room?


Our junk room is also the guest room and my office. When Evan was home his computer was also in there. It took me months to convince Larry to try to sell the ugly desk. It's now listed, and I swear, I could have had a baby in that amount of time. Hopefully it'll be gone soon.Our first Style Cure assignments were to try to identify our own styles,and find visual cues to what appeals. Do I have a style, besides "see what sorta kinda looks OK there?"

Over the weekend I also weeded out three boxes of unwanted books. That might seem like a lot, but we probably have thousands of books distributed on shelves around the house. Out went the dated first aid manuals, middle-school series of dubious literary worth, travel guides from the 80's and 90's, pulp paperbacks. Still need to get Larry to go through those bits on the almost-empty bookcase.


It's a nice large room, with a lot of natural light. Three of the wonderful windows are set in a little rectangular bay. Warm old fir floor that works with the battered desk and bookcases. I'd like to keep to a pale palette with some wood accents, which works with the rest of the house.

Any ideas out there in internet-land?

My goals:
1. Declutter
2. Better organize in a more attractive way the necessary evils of printers, computers, office supplies.
4. Paint walls, or at least patch and blend the dings in the 125 year old horsehair plaster.
5. Replace 25-year old blinds. Perhaps do away with the 80's valences.
6. Visual appeal-
Perhaps replace the baby changing table/dresser that is functioning as our linen closet. Go down to one bookcase? Maybe paint it/them white? They're "cherry" particle-board. Spraypaint? Larry will have a fit.
Hide ugly filing cabinet somehow, or at least clean it up and get the crap off it.
Replace bedspread/pillow shams
Wall decorations--pictures, maybe a wall of good photos

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