Wednesday, January 30, 2008


We are really grounded here. The first year is landing, the second year is grounding, and I think we are well into the grounding phase. This party was a great exclamation point to the point that yes, we are here, we live here, our house is cozy and comfy and welcoming, and we know lots of folks, albeit not too many that well. But we each have a could of anchor friends who we feel close and friendly to, and Dave has known his for 30 years, since college. It's working. It's good. We made a good choice to move here.

Come visit! Come move here! It's awesome!

Housewarming postscript

Had a great time Sunday. One of the nice things about having a party, especially a housewarming, is that it forces you to straighten up the place, and clean it. Our family room looks a whole lot neater now, if a bit sparse. The den downstairs is cozy and comfy. We moved the futon from Dave's office down there so it's a better guest room and it's more comfortable to watch Josh's TV there. So Dave's office is now neater, and also has some pictures on the wall. We put up more shelves in the laundry room, which is now a great combination of laundry / storage/ freezer/whatever.

It was a great mix of folks, too, who all behaved according to the open house structure: come for awhile any time during the window and stay a long or short time. We had our first guests even before the start time, which I loved, and the last stayed after closing to help clean up. Nothing wrong with that. I really enjoyed the mix of neighbors, friends, folks from work, people we don't know well (like my sister's husband's brother and family) or don't know at all (my friend Laure's husband's sister's family). Almost all of the kids disappeared down into Lily's playroom and just stayed there, coming up only for occasional snacks. It was a lot of fun.

We did this at such the last minute that of course not everyone could come. Next time we'll give a bit more notice.

Folks brought lots of bread and sweets. Here's our menu, what we cooked and prepared:
roast turkey -- not much left!
cranberry sauce -- courtesy of Eliot and Madge
Greek frittata - they ate every scrap
two kinds of cookies, snickerdoodles and oatmeal chocolate chip
poppy seed pound cake -- not such a hit but then work devoured it the next day
two kinds of homemade marinated goat cheese, a sweet and a savory -- very popular
hummus -- recipe from Nidal from Yemen at PS 261 so you know it's authentic; very popular
pita bread, chips, lots of other breads
cheese selections
fruit selections
hot cider, cold cider, seltzer, Coke, coffee, tea, and someone brought a bottle of wine

It was fun! We have made some nice friends and we have some good contacts, too. And, we now have the party bug -- Dave's already planning a spring bbq potluck for the block. My fantasy is that we will have one a season, but at least one in December or January, to fight the doldrums. Late January is a great time to throw a party: It's after the intense holiday season, the snow is dirty and sad-looking, the air is damp and cloudy, and the sugaring season has not begun yet. I see sugaring as the kick-off to 8 to 10 months of rich harvests -- maple sugar, asparagus, strawberries, then all the summer and fall fruits and veggies. It's a great way to tell time.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Housewarming Sunday

If you are reading this you are probably invited to our housewarming on Sunday afternoon from 1pm to 5pm. It's an open house kinda thing. No gifts please but food is always welcome. Call or email for specifics if you think you can make it.

This was a last minute decision -- we were going to have it on Sunday Feb 9 but a) that's a Saturday, Sunday is the 10th, and b) that's Superbowl Sunday and the NE Patriots are playing so I think that would crimp our invite list. Between public and private school winter vacations we wouldn't be able to have it until April.

So this morning we decided to throw caution to the wind and see if anyone might be around and looking for some tasty baked goods and a roast turkey on Sunday afternoon, while the kids play and watch TV and we all poke the fire.

Do we really know enough people here to warrant a party? Well, we've had two yeses, so we know at least them. Stop by if you are local!

Monday, January 21, 2008


At the gym this morning Stevie Wonder's "Happy Birthday" song to Martin Luther King shuffled appropriately onto my iPod. Later I found the U2 song, "Pride (in the name of love)" they wrote for him.

Here's some interesting comments and links a Brooklyn friend sent us:

Dr. King is the only American recognized by his own national holiday. I invite you to nourish your citizenship by listening to Dr. King’s two most famous sermons. These speeches were meant to be heard, and the links below provide both audio and text. You can read along as you listen. Why not take a little time to gather family and friends around the computer speakers, listen attentively to one of the speeches, and then take awhile to discuss its relevance to our citizenship today? What might Dr. King have to say to us in 2008?

Here is his Riverside Church speech about Vietnam, 1967.

Here is video, along with that speech.

Here is his "I Have A Dream" speech, 1963.

Sasha again: Still makes me cry. What a loss. But what a gift!

Monday, January 14, 2008


We went to Cate's on Saturday afternoon and then drove over to a new restaurant in Chester to celebrate Don's 80th birthday. Happy 80, Grampa Don!

On the way down we played a family question game, one of those party game / conversation starters. "What subject that you are learning in school do you think you will never use?" "If you could be a successful artist/writer/dancer/musician, which would it be?" "What instrument would you like to play really well?"

Stuff like that. It was lots of fun and kept us going for an hour, kept Lily out of her book and actually talking to us. And one of the questions was, "If you could ask your parents any question and they had to tell the truth, what would it be?" And Lily, smart thing, says, "What are your secrets?" Dave and I couldn't stop laughing.

By the way, if you like my blog, be sure to read Dave's blog, too. His second-latest entry is all about the glacier on top of the family room roof that was sliding off slowly, and finally crashed to the ground last week. Has pictures, too. I think his latest is about our local wildlife.

Another snowstorm here last night and I thought it was going to be much worse than it actually was. Took us an hour to clear the driveway, mostly Dave with his electric snowblower, and our really nice neighbor who cleared the end of our driveway (!) -- and clears several other driveways completely, besides. But the roads were plowed and it wasn't nearly such a big deal to get to work as I had feared. Not sure what I was so afraid of, but the first big storm of the year a few weeks ago made getting home a bit scary and I guess that spooked me.

It's funny being a New Englander again. I haven't lived here for nearly two decades, and I never lived in the country -- well, other than when I lived at Farm and Wilderness for six months when I was 19. I remember having to walk to work at John Hancock when I lived in Central Square because of the snow. But the city is always a bit different if you have subways. And New York, forget it! The rainstorms that flooded the subways were worse than the snow. I think we had one snow day in Lily's entire life before moving here.

Here I have to accept the fact that I am not a country girl, I don't really know how to ski or light a fire, although I'm learning --- in some cases relearning, as I used to know how to light a fire -- and I sure don't know how to drive in this stuff, or when not to. And Dave knows even less, never having lived here. He didn't realize that black-outs are common here--we've lost power twice since July. I'm learning, though, and he is, and it's all good.

Last week I was emailing someone from here who is going to Brooklyn about 5th Avenue in the Slope, and Warren Street, and telling her where to eat if she had time. And I got very sad all of a sudden, just missing the old 'hood, and realizing I will never live there again, not on Warren Street.

And that made me realize that maybe I've landed even more, now. It's been over 14 months and I am really settling in and accepting our new life here. I feel more secure here and less transitional, and having that allows me to relax and actually feel the sadness about leaving Brooklyn. It was a great great great place to live! I just needed to move on, is all. I'm glad I've been here long enough to feel that grief.

I think Lily is adjusting, too, for the most part. She misses Brooklyn, and Brooklyn will always be a part of her. But I think she likes it here, too, and the fact that she just adores her school helps make that easier. Dave seems more settled, and I know he's enjoying all the outdoors.

Makes me wonder what I'll focus on once I'm done transitioning to being here. What new adventures in psyche and spirituality? Or will it more like learning to waltz? Snowshoe? Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pema Chodron

I'm going to a weekend with Pema Chordon at the end of May at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. I have been reading a lot of Ani Pema, as she is known with her honorific. I've been reading a lot of her this fall and I find her teachings enormously useful.

All in the Same Boat on May 30, 2008 at the Omega Institute
Ani Pema is so popular and speaks so rarely -- she is in very bad health -- that this weekend will sell out pretty quickly. I believe about half of the 500 spots are still available, but if you want to go you should sign up soon.

Ani Pema might be called a "bridge person," as Lisel Burns, the woman from Brooklyn Ethical Culture who married us, called people who are able to help disparate communities connect. She studied for years under Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist. She's been able to interpret the traditional teachings into a more accessible language for us gringos.

This is her website with lots of useful teachings.
This is an interview with her that originally ran in the Sun magazine.
This is Ani Pema on Bill Moyers.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Five years

Just a quick thank you to y'all for five years today, one day at a time. I am delighted to be here and words cannot express my gratitude. Special shout-outs to Anne, Dawn, Dee, Shante, Sylvia, and of course, H.P. You're the greatest.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Dog sitting

Just about everyone in my office has a dog, it seems like. Most have a couple. Also other assorted pets. Our family seems to be commitment-phobic and has nothing more than a pair of gerbils, which cleaning and finding a place when we are away stresses us enough. Lily and I want both a dog and a cat or two, and trust the gerbils will be okay if we put a rock on the top of their cage.

So Cate asked us to dog-sit Basil on Saturday, and we of course said yes. I looked at it like kind of a dry run, and the experience, in retrospect, was hilarious. None of us, me, Dave, or Lily, knows anything about dogs but we all rushed to tell each other what to do and what was wrong and what was the next step.

We all bundled up to take Basil for his evening walk, for instance: I doubt any of us wanted to go out but it seemed fairer to share the onerous task. Also, we kind of all felt like we were in it together. We just took him to the turnaround at the top of Marian and then back to the corner of Laurel, and I don't think he did a single bit of business.

Later he whimpered on and off, and we figured he missed his humans. But we let him out a couple of times anyone on the long leash that Cate had left us and he promptly walked into the snow and sat down. He loves the snow, apparently, and was quite happy just to sit there. After awhile Dave went out to get him because the leash was wrapped around a tree. But he was still pretty content.

When I turned out the light he was snoozing on the floor by our bed, and in the morning he was on Lily's floor. In the morning he totally whimpered again, but this time it was because he kept seeing squirrels and he was dying to get them. I let him out on the leash and again, he lay in the snow. Never did a bit of business.

After awhile the three of us bundled up again and took him on a long walk around nearby Laurel Park (check it out; it is cool!). Lots of business, now, and Dave and I critiqued each other's business-picking up technique . . .

All three of us panicked when we saw cars, even if they were going 10 miles an hour three blocks away. Lots of, "Look out, hold the dog, give me the leash!!!!" etc. Ditto when we saw other dogs. Turns out Basil is very friendly, if the other dog is, and loves to say hello, but we just didn't know him that well at the time and figured it was bad form to return a battered dog, or to batter a neighbor's dog.

Eventually we all left. Other than trying to leave with us, he seemed to be adjusting okay. Cate and family came to get him in the afternoon and we've agreed that we know Basil and Basil knows us a little bit better, and perhaps he understands that his people will be back for him eventually, so maybe it would be okay if they want to try it again some time.

I sense a dog in our future? I gotta say, having to walk a dog in the evening when I'm warm and cozy is not going to be fun. But I suspect the benefits will outweigh the business.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Happy new year!

Hello and a very happy new year. Obviously I skipped blogging during the holidays... But here's a couple of highlights:

We went to a wonderful Solstice evening the weekend before the actual shortest day of the year in Colrain, a town about a half hour from here west of Greenfield. The weather had been really cold and icy and they were predicting a terrible storm starting that evening, but we managed to crawl up the steep hill to the Round House at the Center for Culture Evolution. The house is extraordinary and the evening was a wonderful selection of storytelling, juggling by our friend the AMAZING Rob Peck -- be sure to click on his videos -- and music, all coordinated by our AMAZING friend John Porcino whom we know from Farm and Wilderness. If you are ever looking for a place to have a retreat, or family reunion, or wedding, or celebration, consider this really breathtaking house.

The next week, on the night of the 22nd, we found at least three towns that were hosting bonfires and other solstice celebrations. We went to the one in Westhampton, the next town west of Northampton, where a library fundraiser were offering s'mores, popcorn, Christmas and camp songs around the campfire, and a howl at the moon. Also sledding down the very steep hill. I met some great women from the area and we all felt very welcomed.

It was one of those things, a cold Saturday night a few days before Christmas, and we were really not sure we wanted to go. I just got out of the habit of going to stuff in New York, partly because of laziness, but also the sheer hassle of traffic and crowds and waiting for a bus or walking to the subway on a cold night all conspired to make me pass on things more often than not. But this time, and others lately, I said, this is why we moved here, to go to this stuff. We went and were really glad we did.

Oh and we saw a mess of deer on the road there! Dave said, there's a couple of deer! -- we were still in Northampton -- and we watched them cross the road and go off into the woods, and then -- a whole lot more! We just stopped and waited a bit. We've also seen a few deer in our backyard, finally. Normally they stay in the woods.

Christmas Eve we spent with my cousin Bill and family in New Jersey and then went to my dad's for Christmas. We changed our plans at the last minute and decided to come home the next day, rather than take a grand tour of more family visits.

While we missed seeing everyone it turned out to be the right decision for us, especially for me. Back at work full-time for the first time since Lily was born, I have to relearn the work-family balance -- indeed, I never really knew it, since I was not a parent when I last worked a full week. So I wasn't aware of how essential it is to get a lot of rest and downtime. Sounds obvious now, but lots about this new life sounds obvious but isn't, and I have to make mistakes before realizing the right path. In this case I was watching all my colleagues at work who were planning on being home for Christmas, as they were for Thanksgiving, and I realized I didn't have to go away every time I had a free moment.

This is interesting to me: In New York City, everyone leaves a lot. They leave for the holidays, for the weekend, for vacation. That doesn't seem to be true in the country, at least where we are. It's not that people don't go away, but that they seem to actually like living here and don't get overwhelmed by the lifestyle and the busy-ness.

As for Christmas week, we spent it cooking, and going to the movies, and doing house chores. We now have shelves in our new laundry room and most of the den downstairs, while not yet cozy, is cleared out. We hung art and rearranged some furniture and I got Lily's playroom a bit more organized. That's in addition to cooking and eating and all. Lily and I got skis so we also went cross-country skiing, once to Notchview, in Windsor, and once just out our backyard. Awesome!

I had to work on New Year's Eve but Dave and Lily spent the day going to events at First Night in Northampton. They got to go to everything they wanted and the weather wasn't too cold so they could walk around and get to things. I joined them with friends at dinner and then we went to a couple of events. One was a hilarious performance by an improv group called the Villa Jidiots. We got to the first performance a little late and we liked it so much we got in line again and saw the second show, too. I laughed so hard I was crying and my stomach hurt. It was simple, silly humor, a lot of it, but always very smart and really fun. They are doing an evening of improv Shakespeare, apparently, that I hope we can go to.

Friday night we went to a celebration of Three Kings Day held at the Amherst middle school and hosted by a Puerto Rico community group, I think, although I didn't get the name. It was fun and we met a nice couple, also new to the neighborhood. One was Mexican, and one grew up in Wellesley! But she was in her early sixties so we didn't know anyone in common. Dave and I now have tickets to see Rory Block and Steve Earle (not together) at the Iron Horse in the next few weeks. I can't wait, although now I need a couple of sitters!

Now Lily is back in school and I am back at work. The new year is upon us. Best wishes to you all for a joyous new year and please stay in touch.