Wednesday, February 22, 2017

If you like Coldplay, you may want to skip this post.

Two pieces of background information: 1. We can listen to music at work on headphones. 2. Today I was having the kind of workday that an English friend of mine would refer to as "pants".

So today, as I was walking back to my office from a meeting about a frustrating subject, one of my colleagues was listening to music on an iPod shuffle (so you can't see the artist/song info) and stopped me to ask, "Is this Coldplay?"

My response (before I could even think about how rude I was being) was "I hope not" as I really don't like Coldplay's music. Still, she offered the headphones so I could listen and make an evaluation.

As I slipped on the earbuds, I was chanting in my head "Please be Radiohead. Please be Radiohead. Please be Radiohead", which would be an honest mistake for the untrained ear.

As soon as she hit play, the unmistakable notes of "Yellow" came on, and I tore the ear buds from my ears before I had to hear more of Chris Martin than I could take on this frustrating day.

I looked at her and responded, "It's Coldplay" in my best dour Alan Rickman impression and walked on.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Winter is Here*

Yesterday, it was sunny and warm (over 50F). Today was cold, windy, and snowy, and when the snow finally tapered off, I was outside shoveling and snow plowing for a good hour and a half. (My next door neighbor MJ thinks that we got over a foot, but I didn't measure. I was too busy digging the ends of both our driveways out from the plow. She only has a shovel; I have a snowblower. That's what good neighbors do, and we are good neighbors.)

Anyhow, it is good kind of day to think about better and warmer weather days, and I was thinking about the day in October when I was invited to join Sister K and her husband as they went boating up the Connecticut River. We moored in Essex where we had a delicious lunch at the historic Griswold Inn, and everything was just so charming and Connecticut-y. It was a perfect day, and I got some pretty nice snaps.

 Saybrook Breakwater Light Old Saybrook, CT


Train bridge


Essex, CT from the river

I am not so keen on summer, but I'll take a sunny fall day anytime.

* Stark family words, A Song of Ice & Fire aka Game of Thrones

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Seven Things Making Me Smile

I'm baaaaaack!! It's been too long since I last posted something in the blog. I was supposed to make an effort in 2015, but best intentions, blah blah blah, didn't happen. So in honor of returning to blogging, I figured I would change up my layout (and change to https making this site more secure) and revisit an old subject as I ease my way back into blogging - that subject being Seven Things Making Me Smile.

image from
1. I am addicted to the home improvement show "This Old House" (and "Ask This Old House") on PBS. I bet you thought I was going to say "Fixer Upper", which I also watch faithfully.(How can you not love Chip & Joanna?) "Fixer Upper" is great for design ideas and Chip totally cracks me up, but I love "This Old House" because they explain to you how a house works. Heating, electrical, insulation - all of these have been issues at my house and having watched both of the TOH shows, I can actually have a conversation with a heating guy or contractor without looking (and being) utterly clueless. [Also, host Kevin O'Connor is a fellow Holy Cross alum. (Go Cross, Go!!)]
image from

2.  The Republic of Tea teas. My friend S-J first got me into this brand of tea when she introduced me to Downton Abbey® Mrs. Patmore's Pudding Tea, a delicious combination of vanilla, caramel, and tea!! Now I am all about Raspberry Rose Hibiscus tea (you can smell and actually taste the raspberries) and Good Hope Vanilla Red (Rooibos) tea. They are perfect in the evenings instead of dessert, which I appreciate. (I always want something sweet after a meal. It is a horrible habit that I really should get out of, but when there is a yummy dessert tea, you don't need to!) This website has ANY kind of tea you could possibly want. Plus, the company is socially responsible and uses sustainable packaging.

3. The revamped A Prairie Home Companion. This program has been a Sunday afternoon staple for me for years, and I was really concerned about the changes that would happen after Garrison Keillor retired this summer. Would there still be funny serials and great music and advertisements from Powermilk Biscuits and the Ketchup Advisory Council? Not to fear, new host Chris Thile (with his mandolin) is doing a really great job! In addition to bringing on even MORE great musicians (the magnificent Aoife O'Donovan has become a series regular) and, as he is not a storyteller, showcasing writers and comedians in place of the "Tales from Lake Wobegone" segment, he now has an original song of the week! Thoroughly enjoyable. (And they still have ads from Powermilk Biscuits and the Ketchup Advisory Council.)
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4.  Back to tv: I love Lucy Worsley's "Secrets of the Six Wives" (of Henry VIII), currently airing on PBS. Spoiler: Jane Seymour dies. (Sorry about that, Mahk.) I actually think this program is better than "Victoria" (sorry, Rufus Sewell). It's definitely more historically accurate. I have always love Katherine of Aragon - she had such amazing integrity and gumption, but I keep coming back to this whole thing about Anne Boleyn: horrible or misunderstood? Lucy Worsley makes history real and fun and the fact that she actually gets to film in the real royal palaces, unlike "Victoria" (whatever location they used to pass as Windsor Castle was just embarrassing), makes it even better!!,204,203,200_.jpg
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5. I am currently reading the original 1818 edition of Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, and it is not what I expected. (I am halfway through the book.) It's not terribly Gothic. It's somewhat shocking, but not really scary. It is very descriptive, and as a person who doesn't read every word, I am surprised to find myself so engaged that I am reading every word. After I finish this edition, I am going to read the 1831 edition, which is the more popular edition of the book. [When Mary revised the book for this republication, she made it more conservative. A lot had happened to her personally in the interval so isn't surprising that her morals and philosophy would have changed, but it lead her to change not only some details (love interest Elizabeth is no longer an first adopted cousin, but an adopted family friend), but the tone of the text changed so that Victor is no longer a man with free will and a moral responsibility to his creation, but a man who is a pawn of fate and nature.] It will be interesting to see what I think when I finish both editions. One thing: no one says, "It's ALIVE!", which is a little disappointing. ::smirk::
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6.  I simply love America's Test Kitchen. I love the website, the cookbooks, and the tv show. I love the recipes, the taste tests, and the equipment reviews to the point that I always check the website before buying a new pan or trying a new cooking ingredient. (Because if ATK takes the time to test all this stuff out, I am going to benefit from their trial and errors!) It is really too bad that Christopher Kimble parted ways with the organization (especially under such unpleasant circumstances), but I am glad that Bridget and Julia are still around. I just got the Complete Cooking for Two cookbook, and I have already marked it up with recipes to make for dinner after work.

7.  Green Mountain K-Cups are now recyclable!! This means I can drink all the coffee I want at home without feeling guilty about contributing to landfill waste. Which is good because I can't handle that kind of guilt at 7am.

Please note: these are all my own opinions; I have not been compensated in any way for recommending any products, etc. etc. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"Look, look, look to the rainbow. Follow it over the hill and the stream"*

Yesterday, I drove home from work through intermittent showers and sun and must have seen four separate rainbows. But this one made me stop, turn the car around, and drive back so that I could get out of the car and snap the following photos.

It was like something you'd see in Ireland. Stunning! (Although there didn't seem to be a pot of gold lying about.)

* lyric from "Look to the Rainbow" from the musical Finian's Rainbow

Monday, May 18, 2015

I have "Spring Fever"...

Spring Fever
Hay fever, that is.  And a case of poison ivy. So this is pretty much an everyday thing. Who knew there was clear Calyadryl? (Not me! Sooo nice.)

I can't believe I got the poison ivy, which, despite being a rather small patch, itches like NOBODY'S BUSINESS. Urgh.  I made the mistake of pulling what I thought was a small tree out of my holly bush and found myself with shiny leaves of three in my right hand.  I washed up right away with Dawn, but I used hot water instead of cold, and the oil from the poison ivy got into the pores on my forearm all the same.

Since then I have noticed a LOT of poison ivy around the edges of my yard as well as the patch growing in the holly and even in the front island. It wasn't there last year, so I have been spraying pretty much everything with three leaves with weed killer, EXCEPT anything with three leaves and thorns because those are wild black raspberries!!!  YAY!! Now I just need a PI-free path to get to them.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Another "Masterpiece" on the Way!!

image from the BBC
I am SOOO excited for the upcoming broadcast of "Wolf Hall" on Masterpiece!!! What's Wolf Hall you might ask? It is the six-part miniseries adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Man Booker prize-winning novel of the same name and its Man Booker prize-winning sequel, Bring Up the Bodies (the final novel in the series, The Mirror and the Light, is eagerly awaited), starring Damian Lewis ("Homeland", "The Forsyte Saga") and Mark Rylance (The Other Boleyn Girl). Wolf Hall tells the story of Thomas Cromwell, the lawyer who helped King Henry VIII annul his marriage to Queen Katherine of Aragon so that he could marry Anne Boleyn, while separating England from the Roman Catholic Church.

[It's also a two-part play on Broadway by the Royal Shakespeare Company, starring Nathaniel Parker ("Inspector Lynley") and Ben Miles ("Larkrise to Candleford", "Coupling"). I am going to see Part 1 in two weeks!!! SOOOO EXCITED!!!!]

image from The Guardian
The miniseries has already aired in England and garnered lots of praise. It is going to be a "Name That Brit" affair: Claire Foy ("Little Dorrit") as Anne Boleyn, Jonathan Pryce (Pirates of the Caribbean) as Cardinal Wolsey, Bernard Hill (Lord of the Rings) as the Duke of Norfolk, Anton Lesser (Game of Thrones) as Sir Thomas More, Mark Gatiss ("Sherlock") as Cromwell’s rival Stephen Gardiner, Joanne Whalley ("The Virgin Queen") as Queen Katherine, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster ("Game of Thrones") as Cromwell's assistant Rafe Sadler. Plus Ed Speelers ("Downton Abbey"), Harry Lloyd ("Game of Thrones"), Charity Wakefield ("Sense and Sensibility"), Jessica Raine ("Call the Midwife"), David Robb ("Downton Abbey") and Saskia Reeves ("Wallender"), just for starters.

I have just started reading the novel that all this is based on, and while I have found the writing style to be confusing and the rhythm of the writing difficult (this apparently is a common complaint), it is really interesting reading a book where Thomas Cromwell is not portrayed as an absolute villain. Because usually he is, seeing as *NEARLY 500 YEAR OLD HISTORICAL SPOILER ALERT* he is the one "held responsible" for the executions of both Sir Thomas More and Anne Boleyn. (I haven't gotten very far in the novel yet, so I cannot comment on the overall historical accuracy in this piece of historical fiction.) PS. *NEARLY 500 YEAR OLD HISTORICAL SPOILER ALERT*, he isn't going to make a good end of things either. (Was poor Anne of Cleves really THAT BAD?) But it is still a good story....

"Wolf Hall" will be on Masterpiece on PBS, starting Sundays, April 5 (that's Easter Sunday) through May 10, 2015 at 10pm.  (I haven't decided if I am staying awake to live Tweet it or going to DVR to watch on Mondays. Who am I kidding? I am going stay up late to watch it.)

ETA: You can read more about Wolf Hall in today's New York Times on-line. (Coincidentally, they published their article the same day I am publishing this post. Great minds...)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

"Call Mr. Plow, That's My Name. That Name Again is Mr. Plow."*

The first winter I lived in my house, I shoveled after every snowstorm. It wasn't my favorite thing to do, but it was good exercise and I enjoyed being out in the cold air.

Until this happened:
February 2013 Blizzard Dig Out
Opening the Garage February 9, 2013
February 2013 Blizzard Dig Out
Excavating the Walk February 9, 2013
Let me tell you, four foot drifts are KILLER to shovel through. It took me the ENTIRE DAY to get shoveled out, and a kind neighbor ended up snowblowing a path between our houses because we couldn't find the sidewalk.

So after that debacle exciting adventure, the second winter I lived in my house, I hired a service to snow plow my driveway and to snow blow my front walk and sidewalk. But as I was a new customer, despite the fact they were based just around the corner from me, I was on the bottom of the list, and they sometimes ended up coming HOURS after a storm would end. A lot of the time, I would end up shoveling myself out, because the waiting was driving me nuts. And then the city plow dumped a mountain of snow on the sidewalk in front of my house (a side effect of living in a cul de sac that no one mentions when you are buying the house.) The service wouldn't touch the mountain so I had to chip away at it day after day until I reached the sidewalk. Time for a Plan C.

February 9, 2015
So this winter, I sucked it up and bought myself a snow blower, and it was one of the best investments I have ever made. I have been clearing my driveway, my front walk and the sidewalks in storm after storm after storm.

February 15, 2015

It's actually been really empowering to take on the snow this year.  It's me out there after every storm with all the husbands on the block.  A bonus is that I have been able to do the sidewalk and the apron at the end of the driveway for my fabulous neighbor MJ, who only has a shovel.

But I honestly won't mind when it is time to put this fun new household toy away. Until next winter.

*from The Simpsons.  A work colleague has taken to calling me "Mr. Plow".


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