Monthly Archives: July 2007

Ten Things Tuesday

Ten things I love about Boston:

1. It’s familiar. I grew up in Peabody, which is about twenty minutes out of Boston, so almost all our school field trips were in the city. Also, my father was an auto mechanic who had a tow truck; I remember going along with him on calls into the city. I know my way around, and that has a lot to do with my comfort level when I’m there. I can get to all the major points in the city – the airport, the museums, the ball park, some good restaurants and shopping – with a minimum of fuss.

images-42.jpeg2. It’s full of wonderful things to do. The Museum of Science, the Museum of Fine Art, the New England Aquarium, the Freedom Trail, the Old North Church, Bunker Hill, the U.S.S. Constitution – the list goes on and on, and I’ve been to almost all of them (and will gladly go again).

3. The T. I’ve been on two other subway systems – New York’s and Washington D.C.’s – but Boston’s is my favorite. Boston has the oldest subway system in the country, and runs the range between relatively new, modern trains and old trolleys. The lines are clearly marked and easy to navigate and, for some reason, I almost never feel the disorientation coming up from underground in Boston that I do in NYC and D.C. Plus, the T has a particular smell – though not always a pleasant one, I’ll admit, particularly in the dead of summer – but a smell that I recognize as part of the city that is as close to an urban “home” as I’ll ever get.

images-35.jpeg4. The skyline. Like the T trains, Boston’s architecture covers centuries of development: buildings from the late 16 and early 1700s stand side by side with modern skyscrapers and office buildings. The juxtaposition of old and new is something that resonates with me and, while I know that there are old buildings in a lot of other cities, too, none of them seems as seamlessly integrated as Boston’s.

5. Fenway Park. Fenway embodies Boston for me. It’s old and run down, but still serviceable. There are layers upon layers of paint and concrete in the place, covering older layers of the same and, where the newer stuff chips or peels off, you can literally see into the past. The seats haven’t been replaced in decades; the signs remain the same year after year, the only changes being in the prices of items for sale – the signs are changed by hand-writing in the new prices. It all feels very Yankee to me: it’s very much the “why replace it if it still works” mentality that I understand almost instinctively.

6. Quincy Market. The tourists call this Faneuil Hall, but the locals know it as “KWIN-see MAHket.” Again, it’s another OLD building (or, rather, a set of old buildings) that houses a lot of modern things – shops and food vendors, mostly. One of the things I love about it is that I don’t get to go there very often and, unlike Fenway, Quincy Market DOES change; it seems that every time I go, there’s a new food vendor, a different street performer, or a new cart in the atrium with fun stuff to look at. I also really love the open-air flower market in the courtyard, and always wish there were a way I could figure out how to keep the flowers alive until I get home.

images-63.jpeg7. Boston sports teams. While, technically, the Patriots belong to all of New England, they fall into the category of Boston Sports Teams That Suck, But We Love Them Anyway. Clearly, there have been years when our teams have NOT sucked – we’ve done extremely well in all of them – hockey (the Bruins), football (the aforementioned Patriots), baseball (the Red Sox) and basketball (the Celtics) – at one time or another – but the fact remains that we suck more than we don’t. Still, we continue to buy tickets and sit in rain or snow, or we tune in religiously to NESN or channel 5 to watch the games. We yell and cuss, but deep down, we love it.

8. The accent. Not everyone has the accent, I’ll grant you – I’ve had mine mostly educated out of me – but every once in a while you can catch the replacement of an “R” with an “AH.” Fenway Pahk. Lobstah. The Gahden. Medfid. It’s different from the Mainer accent, though that’s hard to get across in print. Trust me, though – you’ll never mistake a Bostonian for a Downeastah.

images-52.jpeg9.  It’s a center for smart (centah for smaht).  Emerson, Suffolk, Berklee, Northeastern, Boston College, BU, Tufts, Emmanuel, Harvard, UMass; one can get a top notch education in Boston and, as such, a lot of really cool things – lectures, research, exhibits and such – come to this area.  It’s also one of the epicenters of medical care and research: Mass General, Mass Eye and Ear, Beth Israel Deaconess, Children’s, Boston Medical – all of these places are incredible places of learning and healing.  People come here from all over the world for their care – or their education – and I’m proud of that.

10.  It’s close and it’s small.  For a city, Boston is relatively small; it doesn’t creep out and sprawl in quite the same way that a lot of other cities do and, when you’re driving in, you can definitely tell when you’ve left the suburbs and entered the city (mostly by the quality of the roads, but whatever).  I could never see myself living in a city.  I enjoy visiting very much, though, and the fact that I can get to Boston easily – and get home just as easily – is truly something that I love about it.


Filed under celebration, love notes, ten things Tuesday

One More Thing!

I almost forgot! Today is Wayfarer’s birthday!

Go on over to his place and wish the old guy happy.

(I tried to post a happy birthday cake picture, but my photo uploader is being pissy at the moment, so you’ll just have to use your imagination…)


Filed under Blogroll, celebration, Friends

The Morning After

Oh, MAN!

We had a FANTASTIC time! Where do I start?

We left the house in time to sail, virtually unhindered, to Boston around quarter after four. We parked (pahked) way the hell up on Commonwealth Ave, so we took a leisurely stroll past the big, old brownstones of a lovely (read: expensive) Back Bay neighborhood on our way to Kenmore Square where we got a table at a nearly-deserted Bertucci’s.

We had a nice, long dinner (we shared a chicken picatta, in case someone really does care what I had for lunch) and really enjoyed a chance to actually talk to each other. Considering that Mr. Chili and I see each other every day – and we have a really good marriage – I’m often surprised by how little opportunity we get to focus on each other; or attention is usually zeroed in elsewhere – either a child or a household task, whatever. Anyway, we had a really nice time together – that may be my favorite part of the night.

Once we’d paid for dinner and fought our way back to the exit (there were a LOT of people in line for a table when we left, and I was glad that we’d arrived as early as we had), we crossed Kenmore and headed to Fenway Park.

I’m going to post a Ten Things Tuesday tomorrow about the things that I love about Boston. One of the things I DON’T love are the panhandlers. Look, I understand that life is tough, and I know that people are very often found in tough – almost impossible – situations not of their choosing. I’m just not sure that sitting on a milk crate with a boom box next to you shaking a Dunkin’ Donuts cup with coins in it is really the best way to find one’s way out of that tough situation. I’m probably being bitchy and judgmental here, but after my first reaction of sympathy, my second, less charitable reaction is ‘no.’ I really love what Kizz does for homeless people in her city: any time she goes out to eat, she boxes up everything that’s left over and gives it to the people she passes on her way home. If I had done any thinking at all, I’d have done that with the little bit of picatta left over from our dinner. It didn’t occur to me, though, and I’m a little ashamed of that.

Anyway, we made our way, with the growing throng, past the cup-shakers and the ticket scalpers and the Jesus-freak (singular, but he was freaky enough all by himself) to Fenway. Our gate was all the way around the park, so we moseyed up Lansdowne Street (“Sausages! Get ya sausages!”) and around the corner to Gate B, where Mr. Chili was patted down and my bag was searched and tagged.

Once inside – still about an hour before the ticket time – we spent some time taking it all in. We’ve been to Fenway before – several times – and we’re always amazed by how little it changes. Ever. The signs are always the same, the vendors are always the same, the lighting, the sounds, and the smells are images10.jpegalways the same. Well, this time, the vendors were a little different, as the folks selling Police memorabilia were set up in small stalls around the concourse. I bought a tank top. I’m embarrassed by how much I paid for this tank top, but hey – there’s a better than even chance that I’ll never get to see the Police together again.  (I can’t get a good picture of the tank top, but the Ghost in the Machine cover art it on the front…)

After parting with the money – and securing the tank top in my bag- we headed to our seats.


Let me tell you something about my husband. When he does something, he puts a lot of thought into it. He’s careful and considered and thorough and, though this sometimes causes a delay in action that can occasionally drive me to the brink of reasonable behavior, I have to concede that he almost always gets it right. We found the sign directing us to the section where our seats were to be found, and Mr. Chili confidently strode straight to the wall that separates the seats from the ball field. Yes, boys and girls – he’d secured, essentially, front row seats.

We were seated right near this sign.  It says “Fans who attempt to interfere with balls in play will be ejected.”  The temptation was just too much for Mr. Chili, who asked me to take a photo of him with, erm, balls in play.  “You can post THAT on your blog,” he said.  So I did:


My husband is a very, very funny man.

Fenway is a baseball field (I’m sorry – I’m pretty sure that most everyone in America knows this, but I had to say it) and, as such, is angular in shape. Picture, if you will, a typical ball field. The stage was set up in the outfield (for those of you familiar with Fenway, the stage was essentially where Manny hangs out when the team’s on defense). The field was entirely covered in metal protective flooring, upon which several thousand folding chairs had been set up; these were the field seats. The bleachers were empty, but all the seats in the rest of the park were filled, and Mr. Chili had secured our tickets for a section along the first base line. We were about eight feet from the Pesky Pole. Here’s our view of the stage:


The ONLY complaint I had about the seats (and it’s something Mr. Chili had no possible way of knowing) was that the concession people had set up a bar right in front of our section. While they weren’t supposed to, the servers had taken to selling beer over the wall, and a lot of people clustered around our seats trying to get the bartenders’ attention. Once, Mr. Chili almost ended up covered in the beer that an already drunken asshole had dropped. Missed him by this much. Gah.

The opening act was a band called Fiction Plane and is fronted by Joe Sumner, Sting’s son. The boy has a future, though, I think, sadly, not for his originality. He sounds a LOT like his dad, and I suspect this could turn out to be a blessing or a damning curse, depending on which way the Universe tilts. I couldn’t really understand any of the words to the five or six songs the band played, but they had a good, recognizable beat and they piqued my interest in buying the album. I’m going to iTunes later to see if it’s available there.

After the warm-up act, the roadies came out and set up the stage for the Police. There was a brief intermission, then the lights went down and the crowd went wild.
Let me tell you a quick story. About two or so years ago, Maroon 5 came to play at the University here. I was pretty excited about that, and bought tickets for Mr. Chili and me – and Dudley, who was visiting at the time – to see them. While we were standing in line waiting to get in, we were doing the usual people-watching thing that we do and we noticed that, with us as the only visible exception, no one over the age of 30 was there to see the show; they were there chaperoning their teenaged children. At one point, an “older” person in line actually asked us where our kids were – our reply, “at home with a sitter,” took the guy a little aback.

There was no such problem here. It was actually unusual to see anyone under, say, 25 – I think I only saw a handful of teenagers. For the most part, the demographic was firmly in the 35-60 range, and we were all there to have a good time.


The band came out, the stage lights started up, and strains of Message in a Bottle sent a wave of excitement through the crowd. They ran through a rockin’ series of their hits – Synchronicity II, De Do Do Do, Walking in Your Footsteps, King of Pain, Roxanne – they hit all the high points, and they did it extremely well.


I’ve heard a lot of bad press about this tour.  Complaints have run the gamut from “the band only played for 35 minutes” to “they completely mess with the arrangements of old favorites until they were essentially unrecognizable.”  On the way to Boston, Mr. Chili looked up a review for the tour on my mobile phone, and found a site which claimed that the Police put on a too-short (though rocking and exciting) show – no opening act, no encores, and they played for only 34 minutes.  He looked over at me, I looked at him and said, “you know what?  I DON’T CARE!  I’m STILL psyched to go!”


None of those complaints could be fairly applied here.  They jammed for the better part of two hours, they came out for two encores, and every single song was well and enthusiastically played.  Sting sang the same line twice for one of the songs – but it mattered so little to me that I can’t even remember which song it was.  His voice is still fantastic, and his presence on stage is mesmerizing.   Andy Summers’ guitar work was deft and precise, and Stuart Copeland is a master percussionist.


We had, in short, an amazing time.

**The pictures I’ve posted here were taken of the jumbo screens on our side of the stage; the zoom on my camera was insufficient to actually see the men without the help of re-broadcast.  Still, I got some good ones.  I also got a few minutes’ worth of video, but I haven’t figured out how to format it to YouTube yet; I’ll get Mr. Chili to help me with that later.

(p.s. – Tense, WeedWoman, and all the rest of you out there with arms folded and toes tapping, waiting for my update – DAMN!  Give a girl a minute, wouldja!  JEEZ!  You should all know me well enough by now to know that I wasn’t going to post a thin, piddling little entry here – I needed some time to compose (and to upload the photos)!  I hope it was worth the wait…)


Filed under admiration, celebration, love notes, music

Andy, Stewart, Sting

… the post in which I make Tense envious (though, since she’s in the home stretch of Blogathon, she may not notice until tomorrow)….

We’re leaving for Boston around 2:30 this afternoon.  I’m not sure what Mr. Chili has in mind, but I know we’re planning on dinner in the city.  It’ll probably be someplace casual, though; we were thinking of getting an early seating at Morton’s, but I don’t think that our outfits will be suitable to that venue.  My vote is for Bertucci’s.  We don’t have one within easy striking distance, and I really love their caramelized onion pizzas, but we could just as easily end up someplace native to Boston.

The show starts at 7:00.  I’m going to try to smuggle my camera in so I can post pictures with teeny tiny little band members on them (let’s just say we’re not in the front rows, and there’s only so much zoom my little camera can manage).  Until then, I leave you with this.  Happy Sunday, All!


Now, if I told you that you suffer from delusions, you’d pay your analyst to reach the same conclusions

It’s dark all day and it glows all night; factory smoke and acetylene light 

 Our so-called leaders speak, with words they try to jail ya.  They subjugate the meek, but it’s the rhetoric of failure

Poets, priests and politicians have words to thank for their positions; words that scream for your submission.  No one’s jamming their transmissions (this seems to be a theme for Sting, no?)

Woke up in my clothes again this morning, don’t know exactly who I am

Please don’t ask us why, beneath the sheltering sky, we have this strange obsession.  You have the means in your possession

You don’t ever want to see me again, and your brother’s gonna kill me and he’s six feet ten

Many miles away, there’s a shadow on the door of a cottage on the shore of a dark Scottish lake

There’s a skeleton chokin’ on a crust of bread

In this theatre that I call my soul, I always play the starring role

Fifty million years ago you walked upon the planet so, lord of all that you could see, just a little bit like me

I’ll send an SOS to the world

Tied to to the chair and the bomb is ticking, this situation was not of your picking

By pretending they’re a different world from me, I shelve my responsibility

Wet bus stop, she’s waiting, his car is warm and dry

Do I have to tell the story of a thousand rainy days since we first met?  It’s a big enough umbrella, but it’s always me who ends up getting wet. 


Filed under admiration, celebration, love notes, music


images-71.jpegFor all you night owls out there, I direct your attention to two lovely ladies blogging for a cause.

TenseTeacher and Chatty B. Tawkin are participating in the Blogathon – Tense for Smile Train and Chatty for the Jimmy Fund.  They’ve committed to posting once every half hour for 24 hours straight.

It’s dark out, which means I’m already in my pajamas and can’t stay up to keep these admirable ladies company – I’m a big old baby when it comes to bedtimes.  If you’re of heartier stock, go on over and ping ’em a comment.  Oh, and donate to their causes while you’re at it, because the world needs more generosity.

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Filed under Blogroll, celebration, Friends, social issues

Foreign Babies Made Our Own

JRH, my friend and occasional commenter on this site, is going to have a baby this week. Well, she’s not having the baby – someone else has already done the production work – but she’s certainly going to obtain the baby. I am very, very excited for her, her husband, and her new son.

Five or so years ago, give or take a few months, Bowyer and his wife and their two year old biological son (whom I call Bub) got on a plane and flew over the Atlantic to Russia, where they added the not-quite-two-year-old Noodle to their family.

Mr. Chili picked the exhausted bunch up from the airport and brought them home, where the girls and I were waiting after having done some grocery shopping and general nesting. They were gone for a little more than a week – Russian bureaucracy being what it was at the time, they had to stay a few days to see the paperwork through – so I headed to the homestead to put fresh sheets on the beds and stock the fridge, and to have dinner ready when the family arrived.

I remember the boy coming up the stairs in his new mother’s arms. I’d seen pictures of Noodle in the Russian orphanage, but they didn’t do him justice. He was small and long, blond with almost neutral-colored eyes, and hungry. We joked that the child would eat just about anything we put in front of him, and the answer to “do you want some of this?” was always a wide open mouth. He didn’t speak much – Russian or English – though he seemed to understand a great deal. He was playful and ticklish and wide-eyed with wonder at his new life.

I was in love immediately.

Today, that baby is seven, and is still skinny and long, and still mostly blonde. His eating habits have gotten a little more discerning, but he’ll still eat a wider range of foods than his brother will. He likes Batman and Star Wars, he’s gotten over his paralyzing fear of pools and bathtubs, and he still sucks his thumb when he’s tired or sick. He is my Noodle, and there is no doubt in the Universe that he belongs to us just as surely as if he were our own flesh.


Noodle the Rock Star, circa 2005


Safe journey, JRH. I cannot adequately express how terribly happy and excited I am for you!

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Filed under Friends, general kid stuff, kid cuteness, love notes, Parenting

Must Reads

I’m posting twice today to direct you to two posts that you MUST read.

NHFalcon has posted an excellently researched and articulated piece about the situation with Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons football team. I’m telling you, this man can write. **

Gerry over at TwoBlueDay has written a short, gorgeous entry about the ideas of home and safety in the face of a horrifying incident. It’s a stunningly beautiful, sparse look at the illusion of security.

I have incredibly talented friends.

**If you or anyone you know is in a position to influence hiring at a newspaper’s sports desk – or at ESPN or Sports Illustrated, or anyplace where thoughtful, eloquent, thorough reporting is appreciated – look this guy up.

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Filed under admiration, Blogroll, Friends, learning, Questions, ruminating, social issues, Worries and Anxieties