Spring – Step Two

Spring has already sprung around here, so I’m wicked late with my Spring – Step Two post.  But I didn’t think it would be fair to skip directly to Summer – Step One (upcoming!) without touching on my favorite Spring ritual, the Smith College Bulb Show.  It’s always a beautiful experience – just when you’re feeling like you can’t take even another second of winter (and this year was a doozy), along comes the Bulb Show to give you a taste of the possibilities to come in just a few short weeks.

This year’s show was spectacular.  The theme was “A French Impression,” and it was set up to mimic Claude Monet’s gardens (in real life and in his paintings).  I don’t think I’ve ever actually gasped when walking through the bulb show – smiled, sighed, breathed deeply… yes, all of those.  But gasped at the beauty?  Not until this year.  They really outdid themselves.  Here are just a couple of shots of the 100 or so I took.  I also printing a framed a couple and sold them at our elementary school’s charity auction.



Stay tuned for Summer – Step One… the garden is going in!!



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Spring – Step One

The very first thing to think about when Spring is just starting to spring is… drainage.  On our lovely street, we have only two storm drains, located directly in front of our house.  Our street is a gentle valley, not so much that you notice it when you walking down the street, but definitely enough to notice it when it’s raining and your storm drains are clogged up with leaves and there is an eight inch deep lake in front of your house.  Because the city has basically no interest in maintaining said drains, it usually falls to us to trudge out there in the pouring rain and rake the leaves up off the drain so that we can get in and out of our driveway.

This whole problem takes on gargantuan proportions in the Spring, when there is melting snow combined with rain, and the water has nowhere to go because the drains are buried in snow that has been repeatedly plowed over them.  This leaves standing water on the road which then freezes into a skating rink at night.  We had a rainy day this week, and when I came home from work, there was about six inches of standing slush in front of the house.  I wrangled Jacob into helping me dig the drain out.  This is the progress we made before we gave up:


Note that Jake is standing in front of a three foot pile of packed, icy, dirty, plowed-up snow.  Also note that there is no curb… not only could we not find the drain, but we suspect that the actual curb is at least a foot and a half back from where we were digging.  Also note that we had hacked through about four inches of solid ice and still hadn’t reached the pavement.  We gave up.

So I called the city and left a message on the snow line, asking them to pretty please come dig out our drains before the next rain arrives.  And lo and behold!  They did.  They must have brought a back-hoe.

I brought Jake back out for comparison picture purposes.


I can’t even imagine physically shoveling all that snow aside… thank you, thank you, dear public works employees for taking care of this for us!!

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This and That








… and trees.


The ocean in our backyard…


… the Arctic in our backyard.


Shall we grill up some salmon on this fine Hawaiian evening?


Maybe not. (Yes, that’s the grill).

It’s been a harsh winter this year, made all the more harsh by a blissful week in paradise.  All anyone wants to do is hibernate, yet work and school and band and piano and appointments and life keep getting in the way!  But never fear – Spring is around the corner.  Each day the sun shines a little brighter and a little longer.  I think we can make it!

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The Town Where We Live

Having lived in our Western Massachusetts town for about 10 years now, it’s hard to believe we had never hiked Mt. Skinner before.  The Summit House, a beautiful white building that used to be a hotel sits atop the mountain, visible for miles and miles around.  You can drive up, of course, but this fall we decided to hike up – now that everyone is old enough to do it with a minimum of complaining.

The elevation is about 1000 feet, and you’re climbing the whole way.  I found it challenging, but the kids were total troopers.  Luckily, we brought snacks and water.  The view from the top was absolutely worth it!


Our little town at the height of fall colors.


The Connecticut River winding it’s way up toward Mt. Sugarloaf.



We decided once we were hanging out at the top that we should make this a yearly ritual, and we also came up with other potential area hikes that are more advanced than we’ve attempted before.  We’ve got a list going for the Spring!


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What is it about boys and tanks?  I don’t know about the men in your life, but my men are all about the tanks.  And military weaponry in general, I guess.  Before we went to Washington DC last summer, Aaron said that his top priority there was seeing a tank.  And, if possible, he’d like to get in one.  Well, we researched and couldn’t find any tanks in any of the Smithsonian Museums.

But I did find the Military Museum of Southern New England.  It’s in Danbury Connecticut, a few hours south of here, but totally do-able for a day trip.  The best part, once a month, they have what they call “Open Turret Day”, where they open all the tanks and let you get inside them!  In fact, you can climb all over and through them.

The museum itself is a little kitschy, and the tanks are all crammed into a tiny parking lot (somehow I had pictured them spread out in a field in mock battle).  But none of that mattered because Aaron could GET IN THEM.


That’s one happy boy.


It’s hard to take a picture of the inside of a tank.  It’s dark, and your seven year old is shoving you out of the way.  Let me describe it – first off, it’s tiny in there.  I have no idea how they crammed so many people in.  Secondly, it was a hot day, and it was sweltering inside there!  Again, what?  No air-conditioning?  And third, there is nothing really there – just a couple of uncomfortable seats, some levers, and a steering wheel.  I guess I wasn’t really expecting a mini-bar and bucket seats, but come on.




I did a lot of this.

If you’re going to go, make it on an Open Turret Day – you won’t be disappointed!


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Mix Tapes

Nate and I have an on-going, years long project cleaning out the cellar.  It’s so on-going, in fact, that it never gets any more cleaned out, because by the time we get around to getting rid of a batch of stuff, more stuff has accumulated to take its place.  Yet we persevere.

A couple of weeks ago, we finally unpacked the very last box from our move, (ahem) 10 years ago.  It was full of old picture frames and a Tape/CD player combo stereo unit.  And… a little box full of my old mix tapes.

When I was in high school, before I could afford a CD player, I taped songs off the radio.  I would have my little radio/tape deck on record-pause, and I would hear a favorite song come on the radio, and I’d leap across the bed and un-pause the record as soon as the DJ stopped talking.  The worst was when he talked over the first bit of the song and I had to wait for them to play it again!  I listened to KYUU, KMEL, K101, and there was also an oldies station that for the life of me I can’t remember.  Anyway, I would flip back and forth across the dial, waiting for my favorite songs to play.

Unbelievably, we still have a working tape player in the house.  It hasn’t been used in who knows how many years, but I loaded up “Radio Songs #1” and was instantly transported back to what must have been the first few months of 1987.  Age – 13.



Please notice, first of all, that heaven is spelled “Heavan,” and that at least a quarter of the song titles are completely wrong.  “Madeline Rain” is actually Bruce Hornsby’s “Mandolin Rain.”  Some of these songs are great, enduring songs.  Some of them I didn’t remember until I heard them again.  It was like going back in time.  Here is a complete track listing, just in case you want to visit 1987 for yourself:

Side A:

Respect Yourself – Bruce Willis

Better Than Heaven – Stacey Q

That’s Just the Way It Is – Bruce Hornsby

Walk Like an Egyptian – The Bangles

Johnny – El Debarge

Will You Still Love Me – Chicago

Rumors – Timex Social Club

Land of Confusion – Phil Collins

Suburbia – Pet Shop Boys

Shout – Tears For Fears

Lean on Me – Club Nouveau

Control – Janet Jackson

Sheila – Ready for the World

Side B:

True Colors – Cindy Lauper

Mandolin Rain – Bruce Hornsby

Peter Gunn – The Art of Noise

Coming Around Again – Carly Simon

Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now – Starship

The Lion Sleeps Tonight – The Tokens

Wot’s It To Ya? – Robbie Nevil

La Isla Bonita – Madonna

(I Just) Died In Your Arms – Cutting Crew

The Finer Things – Steve Winwood

Let’s Hear It For the Boy – Deniece Williams

Sign o’ the Times – Prince

Human – Human League

You’re welcome, world.





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Chaos and Upheaval

So things have gone a little crazy around here.  What with job changes, and starting my own business, the blog has fallen through the cracks.  But I am determined to keep it up, though maybe a little sporadically…  While we’ve been having all this upheaval and uncertainty, we’ve also been trying to keep things “normal” for the kids.  I may feel like crawling into a ball under the covers and not coming out, but that would be bad.  Bad for me, bad for the family.  So we’ve been busy.  We had a great end to our summer, and have been chugging along this fall with school, music lessons, day trips, etc.  Here’s a summary of what we’ve been doing while I have been AWOL.

We went to California and saw this:


And hung out with these guys and their family:


And visited here:

IMG_5415And rode roller coasters:


We saw one of our favorite people perform at the Charlemont Reggae Fest:


And this happened to Aaron while we were there, compliments of Cousin Tony:


We took a surprise birthday bike ride to celebrate Nate’s birthday.  What happened to your knee, Nate?


It wasn’t all bad – because we saw this amazing Great Blue Heron just 15 feet away from us:

IMG_5635 Our annual trip to Maine was one of our best ever!IMG_5698 IMG_5704 IMG_5736 IMG_5746 IMG_5787 Look who got on a bike!IMG_5807 IMG_5818All in all, we had a nice end to our summer.  The fall was a bit of a wash – we did no apple picking, we barely got our pumpkins in time for Halloween!  But we’re making it.  Look for some more posts to come soon… if I can manage it.

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