Monthly Archives: August 2008

A New Voice in Our Chorus

Morgan has opened her very own blog!

Morgan is incredibly thoughtful and considered, curious, funny, and kindhearted, and I’m so glad she finally decided to start up her own space!

Go on over and check her out; I seriously doubt you’ll be sorry you did.


Filed under Blogroll, celebration, Friends

What a Wonderful Time!

At the risk of sounding superlative, I had a fantastic time down the Cape with Gerry and Honey.

Auntie and I arrived just when we said we would. We didn’t encounter any of the notoriously horrific Cape traffic which, given that we were arriving on a Saturday morning the week before Labor Day, was nothing short of miraculous. We found Gerry’s house, found Gerry in it, and made our introductions.

It felt exactly like I thought it would; I was instantly comfortable. Though Gerry was quite different than I was expecting him to be – I had in mind someone much older and far less friendly when, in fact, I met someone warm and energetic and funny – I felt like I was meeting an old friend because that’s exactly what I was doing.

Honey is nothing short of wonderful. Though I’d never met her or had any contact with her whatsoever that I was aware of, I liked her instantly. She is the kind of person who resonates with me; she’s friendly but not often gregarious, she is practical and no-nonsense, and she’s smart and quietly but wickedly funny. She made me feel welcomed in her home, and I warmed to her immediately. In fact, as we walked the beach, Auntie and Gerry ended up wandering ahead of Honey and me, and I wasn’t the least bit upset by that; I very much enjoyed hanging with Honey (and I’ll tell you what; that woman is a HAWK when it comes to finding sea glass!)

Auntie and Gerry down the beach. Doesn’t he look like a tourist in his “dork hat” (his term, not mine) and his camera?

We spent a little time touring their (gorgeous) home, Gerry gave us a quick lesson in some of the basics of Photoshop, then we all took a short stroll to the beach where we combed for the aforementioned beach glass. Though it wasn’t a two-blue-day in the strictest sense of the word (we didn’t find any blue glass, in fact), that didn’t curb my delight one tiny little bit. I adore beach combing, and I commented that, if I lived nearer a beach where such an activity were actually fruitful (there’s no really good hunting on my local beaches – no glass or pretty shells, really; mostly grey stones and mussels), I’d have to see my chiropractor a whole lot more than I already do because I’d be looking down all the time. Anyway, by the time we made it up and back, I had a pocket stuffed full of sand-and-salt worn glass bits. (Some of it was collected by me, but most of it was handed to me by the professionals) Observe:

After the beach-combing, we decided that it was time for something to eat. Since several of us are of the opinion that life is short and therefore, dessert should be eaten first, Honey treated us to some of the yummiest (and prettiest) cupcakes I’ve seen in a long time:

Honey sent the rest of the cupcakes home with me for the girls. My children love Miss Honey before they even met her!

After the sweeties, we – Gerry and Honey, Auntie and me, and Gerry’s brother, Don, who’s been staying with them from Illinois – packed ourselves into Gerry and Honey’s Element (Honey rode in the way back which didn’t have a seat – we essentially stuffed her in the trunk, and it was funny to converse with her with just her head sticking up from behind the back seats) and headed to Wood’s Hole for potential lunch. On the way, we detoured so Gerry could get pictures of a bright pink bus (Gerry: “Don, do we need pictures of a pink bus?” Don: “Yes.” Don is, I discovered, a man of few words) and we stopped at a lighthouse to snap a few photographs. Here’s one of mine, doctored a bit with what I learned yesterday from Gerry’s able instruction. Not bad:

We meandered our way to Wood’s Hole but discovered that, since it was such a singularly gorgeous day, everyone was out and about, so there wasn’t a parking place to be had in the whole community. While forming a plan B for lunch, Gerry took us by a beautiful little harbor so I could take some pictures (HIS pictures are MUCH nicer than mine – go here to see some);

and then he and Honey decided on a restaurant in Falmouth that would attend to everyone’s needs (Auntie wanted clams, I wanted something I could eat that would ensure that we wouldn’t be visiting the local hospital). Auntie got her clams and I had a fantastically yummy burger. Honey got to inhale her favorite chowder and Don was delivered what looked like a positively yummy plate of lobster salad. Sometimes, I really do regret the damned allergy.

Once lunch was through, Don decided to treat us all to ice cream, which we ate as we strolled past some of the fun little shops that line the main street in Falmouth. Ice cream consumed and lunch settling in, we decided to head back to the homestead where we were promised some “sloth and idleness.” Gerry downloaded a picture or two from my camera and gave Auntie and me some more lessons in photo manipulation, but the rest of the afternoon was spent being still and comfortable.

Nervous about the traffic caused by the people who had to move out of their rentals yesterday afternoon, Honey suggested that we head out around the 5:00 time-frame, and she gave us a more efficient route to the highway than the one that got us there that morning. We sailed home – there was a minor slow-down around the gas tanks south of Boston, but there is almost always at least a minor slow-down around the gas tanks south of Boston, so I was neither surprised nor annoyed.

I had a perfectly lovely day. There’s nothing about it I would change, and I’m hoping that it works out that I can spend more time with Gerry and Honey before they do their snowbird thing and fly back to Florida for the winter. I’m grateful to both of them for their generosity with their time and their home, and for being exactly what I knew they’d be – old friends.


Filed under admiration, celebration, Friends, fun, love notes, road trip!

Adventures in Photography

Auntie and I are heartily enjoying our time down the Cape with Gerry.  Here’s an example of one of the things we’ve been doing – here’s a picture taken with my camera (I wasn’t behind it when it was taken, though – Gerry took this shot…and played with it in his photo program).  Pretty, non?


Filed under Uncategorized

Goin’ Down the Cape

Auntie and I are headed down the Cape* this morning to meet Gerry of TwoBlueDay.  I’m looking forward both to time with my sister (about three hours each way in the car) and to finally laying eyes on this man who’s been writing intriguing comments on my blog (and posting gorgeous pictures on his own) for so long.

One of the things I truly treasure about blogging is the relationships that I’m able to form with the people who read me, and whose blogs *I* read.  Akin to the pen pals of old, blogging buddies can be friends for years without ever having seen one another or heard each other’s voices; just because I’ve never been in someone’s presence doesn’t mean they’re not a true friend.  So far, all the bloggers I’ve met in real life have felt like just what they were – good and old friends.  I’m betting Gerry will be no different.

I’ll be back tomorrow with stories and, hopefully, pictures (one of my goals is to have Gerry teach me a thing or two about making my photography a bit more satisfying).  I hope your Saturday is as much fun as I expect mine will be.

*this is how native New Englanders express the act of visiting Cape Cod (see item #50 on this link). We never say “we’re going to Cape Cod” or “we’re going to the Cape;” we say “we’re goin’ down the Cape.”  No one really knows why.


Filed under admiration, Blogroll, celebration, Friends, fun, Home and Family, my oh-so-exciting life, reading, road trip!


This week, though, it’s “Fishy Floral Friday.”

This isn’t my own photo; none of the pictures I took of anemones came out well, so I borrowed this image from here:

I really wish that the pictures I tried to get of the coral tanks came out, but the best I can do is give you an image boosted from the NEA site:

Happy Friday, Everyone!


Filed under backyard wildlife, F-F-Friday

Fishy, Fishy, Part II

We had a FANTASTIC time.

We sailed into the city – we left at the perfect time to miss all of the incoming traffic – and I managed to get us there with no navigational hiccups (no small feat now that the Big Dig has moved all the exits on me!). We parked in the garage and headed to the ticket counter. I bought tickets while the girlies looked at seals (from left to right we have Punkin’, Monkeyface, and Beanie).

It was a good morning for a little sunbathing:

We arrived just in time for penguin breakfast. The penguin habitat was filled with wet-suited workers feeding, cleaning, and notating. I didn’t get any good pictures of that, though – I didn’t realize until around the jellyfish that my camera was on the wrong setting:

Here’s where I put my camera on the correct setting:

Beanie at the touch tank. The offerings for this morning included sea stars, urchins, and a couple of horseshoe crabs. No rays, though…

Here’s the top of the giant tank:

Myrtle the turtle. The girl who was conducting the Q&A (in whom I had little faith; it seemed to me like she was making a lot of shit up, but whatever) said that Myrtle was about 75 years old and could live to be about 150. DUDE!

(her favorite food is Brussels sprouts and she eats about five heads of lettuce a day, by the way)

As we spiraled our way down the tank, we got to see divers doing the morning feedings:

We had ourselves a little (expensive!) lunch, then meandered toward the exits, but not before going through the special exhibit devoted to jellyfish. This, by far, is the best photograph I took all day:

It was a perfectly wonderful time spent doing fun stuff with people I love.

Go here for the history of the NEA; the site is pretty neat.


Filed under backyard wildlife, celebration, discoveries, Friends, fun, general kid stuff, Home and Family, learning, Little Bits of Nothingness, my oh-so-exciting life, Parenting

Kizz Got There First!

Kizz has posted the first movie-related post on Please Pass the Popcorn.  Go on over and have a look-see!

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Filed under Blogroll, movies

Here, Fishy, Fishy!

The Chili girls, along with the O’Mama girls and Sphyrnatude (who is decidedly NOT a girl) are going to the New England Aquarium this morning!

Report and photos to follow later this afternoon.

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Filed under backyard wildlife, Friends, fun, general kid stuff, Home and Family, learning, Little Bits of Nothingness, my oh-so-exciting life, Parenting, vacation


I know, I know… I need an intervention.

Here’s the thing, though; the other day, in response to my posting about my unchecked excitement about the upcoming release of Traitor, Grammar Snob suggested that we start a sort of “lazy man’s book club.”  She’s thinking that we should all see the same movies and write about them, and I thought that would be a fantastic idea.  I took it one step further, though, and thought that it didn’t have to be a “everyone write about the same film” kind of thing.

It rolled around in the back room of my mind for days.

I couldn’t figure out how to make this idea happen, though, without opening another blog (if you’re keeping score, this makes six for me, this space, the teacher blog, the cooking blog, the yoga blog, and the book club blog – the movie blog makes six.  Sheesh!).  I wanted some place where a bunch of us could go and put down thoughts and ideas and recommendations (“go see this movie TODAY!”) and warnings (“there are two hours you’re never gettin’ back!“).  It just seemed easiest to open another site and run it that way.

Thus, Please Pass the Popcorn was born.

SO!  Here’s the deal; if you’d like to be part of Mrs. Chili’s Movie Club (I’m not calling it that, but you know what I mean), send me an email (mrschili at comcast dot net) and I’ll send you an invitation to be a member (if you don’t already have a wordpress id, you’ll have to sign up for one, but that’s pretty painless).  From there, you’ll be able to write movie-related posts whenever you choose.

Wanna go to the movies with me?


Filed under Blogroll, celebration, Friends, fun, ideas and opinions, Little Bits of Nothingness, movies, my oh-so-exciting life, Questions, ruminating

Ten Things Tuesday

So, here’s the scene: The Chili family is in the car headed for Beanie’s quarterly growth check-up (she’s still fine, by the way; one more quarterly and the doc’s going to put her on a twice-yearly schedule). Bean’s in the back seat with a book. Mr. Chili, in the passenger seat, looks over and says “Whatcha readin’ there, Beanie?” to which she replies “The Thief Lord.”

Daddy says, “haven’t you read that already?”

Beanie says, “yeah… So?”

…and this is how I get my inspiration. Here, then, are ten books that Mrs. Chili loves enough to read over and over again:

1. Shelley’s Frankenstein, of course. I believe this is the book I’ve read and re-read the most; I’ve probably gone through its pages about 15 times by now, and I come away from each reading with something new to think about.

2. The Outlander series. Written by Diana Gabaldon, this is a set of six books, though I’m only counting it as one. O’Mama got me hooked on them, and I’m not sure whether to bless or curse her for it, because, as my dear friend Sooza says, “it’s literary crack.”

An historical fiction series about a woman who falls through a stone circle in Scotland at the end of WWII and emerges in the mid-1700s, the story follows Claire’s (mostly unwilling) adventures with a band of Scots highlanders in rebellion. The pages are filled with action and adventure while at the same time being one of the most gorgeously written and convincing love stories I’ve ever run my eyes over. I truly cannot recommend this series highly enough… if you’re in to that sort of thing, of course.

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I’ve read this twice in the short span of a few months, and I’m convinced that I’ll read it again a few more times before I’m through. It’s the story of a young girl during the build-up and execution of World War II in Germany, and about all the things she sees and experiences during that time. I think this novel is a beautiful treatment of everyday life in Nazi Germany, and I think, as a scholar of the Holocaust and an educator, that this novel should be an important part of a curriculum dealing with that time period, whether in a history or literature class.

4. Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. I’ve read this several times – both for classes and for myself – and I find that I enjoy it more with every run-through. This story (or, rather, the prelude to it) contains one of the most eloquent descriptions of the complex relationship that a native New Englander can have to the idea of “home.” Hawthorne’s spare style and eye for important detail keep me coming back to this story, and I’m secretly hoping that it’ll be on the curriculum for my daughters’ high school English classes so I can read it with them.

5. Without Remorse by Tom Clancy. I thought seriously about putting The Hunt for Red October here, but the truth of the matter is that I adore Without Remorse and, if forced to choose between them as novels, this is the one I’d go with. It’s the back story for John Kelly – aka Clark – who turns out to be a minor character in many of the Ryan-focused novels which were to follow. Scarred by war and the violent and untimely death of his wife, Clark sets about systematically bringing down a brutal drug ring, making choices all the while mindful that each decision changes him in ways he may never be able to fully reconcile.

Clancy’s style and his intricate way of tying seemingly insignificant details together to make everything click at just the right moment are the reasons that I have nearly an entire bookshelf devoted to his work. He’ll never be considered high literature, but I’m not the kind of English teacher who demands that. This stuff is good, and I’ll keep reading.

6. The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett. In fact, this is a collection of related short stories, not a whole and complete novel, but that doesn’t take away one bit from how much I adore it; in fact, that the stories are discrete may add to my love of them in that they can be taken for themselves. They’re set on the seacoast of Maine in the late 1800’s and are populated by people that are immediately and intimately familiar to me. The dialect and the mannerisms fit seamlessly with what I know and understand, and I find myself with an affection for the stories that goes beyond my appreciation of Jewett’s writing style and skill in observation. The old man, for example, whose yard is littered with buoys is my favorite. When the unnamed narrator asks him why the floats are in his yard, his matter-of-fact reply is that they’re there for necessity; they mark the underground boulders, too big to dig up, that would wreck his plow. THAT, my friends, is pure Yankee thinking, and I adore it.

7. Hamlet. I believe it is true that I’ve read this Shakespeare play more than any other and, while I’ve tried to branch out a bit in the pieces from the Bard that I read and teach (I taught Othello this term), Hamlet remains, hands-down, my favorite. I suspect that’s mostly because of my familiarity with it, but whatever. I like the ghost and his speeches spurring Hamlet to action, I love Gertrude’s (seeming) cluelessness, I love the soliloquies and Hamlet’s angst, It’s fun, and I love it.

8. Ahab’s Wife, or The Star-gazer by Seta Jeter Naslund. I read this twice in one shot; as soon as I was finished with the last page, I headed right back into the first chapter again. It tells the story of Moby Dick from the perspective of Ahab’s wife left behind in New Bedford. The language is gorgeous, the relationships that Una creates and maintains while awaiting her husband’s return are believable, and the novel celebrates the strong and resourceful women of seacoast New England.

9. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Believe it or not, this is the first novel – written word – that made me cry. It’s not that I don’t live in novels – anyone who knows me know that I do – but I’d never before been moved to tears by a book. This one grabbed me where I live and wouldn’t let go. It tells the story of a young girl with a complicated past who finds comfort and solace in the home of three honey-producing, no-nonsense, loving-out-loud sisters. The story is well-crafted and the characters are believable, and the realizations that Lily comes to at the end were wrenching to me. I love it, and I will keep a copy in my collection forever.

10. Wicked by Gregory Maguire. Here’s another novel that, like Ahab’s Wife, I started again as soon as I was finished with it. Not only am I fascinated by the idea of telling The Wizard of Oz story from the perspective of the “wicked witch,” but the language Maguire employs thrills me; my copy of this novel is littered with Post-it flags marking delicious quotes – “I just think, like our teachers here, that if ministers are effective, they’re good at asking questions to get you to think. I don’t think they’re supposed to have the answers. Not necessarily.” “You confuse not speaking with not listening.” “She reasoned that because she was beautiful she was significant.” LOVE it.

Just in case you were wondering, I’m currently reading two books; I’ve stared (and am thoroughly enjoying) McCullough’s John Adams. I’ve watched the HBO miniseries and was inspired to pick up the book (of which I have two copies, having bought one after forgetting that I already had the book on my shelves). I’m reading Tracey Chevalier’s The Lady and the Unicorn for the Dark and Stormy Book Club. I’m not going to comment on it yet; tune in to the DSBC site and podcast to learn more.

Happy Tuesday, Everyone!


Filed under Dark and Stormy Book Club, fun, learning, Little Bits of Nothingness, love notes, reading, ruminating, social issues, ten things Tuesday