Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, Rosie Lea"*

When I went off to college, back in the early 90s, the school sent out a list of suggested items for students to bring with them for their dorm rooms (along with a list of banned items: like hot plates or lamps with halogen bulbs). One of the items on the list was a "hot pot". My mom ended up getting me something she thought was better than a hot pot: an electric tea kettle. More importantly, it was a Russell Hobbs electric tea kettle. Now I was a little disappointed about this first year because 1. I wanted to have what everyone else had and 2. all it could do was boil water (you couldn't make macaroni and cheese in your room with an electric tea kettle.) So I made a lot of tea, hot chocolate, instant coffee, and Ramen noodles in a cup instead and had to go eat my macaroni and cheese in the dining hall. (This was a wise move in the long term.)

By junior year, I was really happy to have my electric tea kettle. I had a core group of friends; I felt a lot more comfortable with myself; and everyone liked tea and hot chocolate while watching tv. I had grown to love that little kettle and was actually really grateful to my mother for buying it for me. It had become essential to my college experience. After I graduated from college and Sister K was about to "go up", I handed down the trusty Russell Hobbs kettle to her. Sister K and her friends LOVED the kettle. They referred to it by the name "Russell Hobbs" and acted like it was their own mascot. When one unfortunate person, thinking it was a regular kettle, put Russell Hobbs on a stove top, his little plastic feet were melted off. After this incident, Russell was promoted for bravery under fire to "Lt. Colonel Russell Hobbs".

Lt. Colonel Russell Hobbs managed to survive to the end of Sister K's undergraduate career and on through Sister B's sophomore year, but sometime after that he went missing, presumed dead. We last heard that he was buried (with full honors) somewhere in the Connecticut River Valley. While K had Russell, I had bought a Russell Hobbs of my own, but he wasn't nearly as well made as his predecessor and ended up needing to be replaced a couple of years after purchase. (It was under warranty, so I got a replacement from Russell Hobbs, but then that replacement kettle died too.) I ended up switching brands and going with a Breville electric kettle, which has served me well for a number of years now (although the top is no longer permanently attached to the kettle, but that comes with a lot of use.).

At this point in life, I can't imagine NOT having an electric kettle in my house, and I have given them out as housewarming gifts to several friends. (They heat up fast and shut off when the water is boiled: what's not to love?) I was sad to read recently that Russell Hobbs products are no longer being made in Britain, but I will always remember that first little Russell Hobbs kettle fondly (Sister K does too).

*lyrics from "Have a Cuppa Tea" by The Kinks

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Take Me Out to the Ball Game"

On Friday, I went to my first Red Sox game at Fenway Park in 12 years. (As RECK pointed out several times during the course of the evening, I need to get out more.) I knew that there is more going on than just the game when you see it live. I had no idea just how much more was going on at the ball park. For example, they don't just walk around selling hot dogs and Cracker Jack, but beers and CLAM CHOWDAH in the stands!?! Who knew? Clearly not this girl.

There was so much going on around me that I had to remind myself to pay attention to the game. When a pop up fly cracked on the pavement 2 feet away from me, RECK looked right at me and said, "See why you need to be watching the game?" I was practically in her lap, trying to avoid getting clocked in the head! We laughed; we cheered; we sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and "Sweet Caroline". When "Shipping Up to Boston" started to play, signifying that Papelbon was coming out to close the game, RECK started jumping up and down in super fandom mode, and we were featured on the Jumbotron!

Thanks to JeGlide we had A-MAZING seats (you can tell how close we were from the photo - no zoom involved), and I had THE BEST time at the game. Definitely will be going to more games at Fenway in the future, although I cannot guarantee that I won't still curse the commute traffic as I head home from work on home game days.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

Normally, I try not to dwell on things like this because I can get mired down thinking about them, but I wanted to jot down a couple of things as we mark this ten year anniversary of 9/11.

September 11, 2001 was a beautiful, sunny Tuesday, early in the fall semester, and I was busy getting ready for my first meeting event of the year, which was scheduled for later that week. I was the first one in the office, getting in around 8:30am.  I had been drinking coffee and checking email while messaging with JR when she said a colleague of hers just told her someone had flown a plane into the World Trade Center in New York.

Immediately, I opened up to to see what was going on, and they had a headline with breaking news, but nothing else. That day was perhaps my frustrated day ever with the internet. No amount of "refreshing" would give me any more information. The same was true of and the other news sites. And then the second plane hit the South Tower. It was evident that this wasn't someone flying their Cessna into the building (which I recalled had happened a couple years prior).  This was some BIG.TIME.WRONG.

By the time PunkRockMom got into the office around 9:15am, my frustration about the lack of information had reached a pinnacle.  We tried out the office radio, but couldn't pick up an AM/news channel. Just before 10am, she and I decided to go down to the lobby where there was a television to see what was on the news (the days before streaming on-line news.) We got there just in time to see the first tower fall.

After that, the day becomes a blur, trying to process what was happening in our country, including the crash into the Pentagon and in PA, while dealing with how the events of that morning impacted my job (all the back and forth communication resulted in the cancellation of the event, even before the planes were grounded.)  I vaguely remember going home after work and turning on the news and leaving the TV on for the rest of the night. There was so much to absorb, and there was an unreality to it all. The fact that the first plane had flown out of Boston was particularly disturbing.

The biggest thing I remember affecting me after 9/11 was the planes. We were used to hearing planes and helicopters from our spot here along the Charles, sort of ambient noise from the world, but the silence of the following week was eerie. When the military jets would fly by from Hanscom Air Force base, I would immediately tense up. Even after commercial flights were allowed back into US airspace, I would look up every time I heard a plane, just to make sure it wasn't aimed at a building. It took a good year or so before I stopped looking up. I didn't have to fly anywhere for the next six months, and, when I finally did fly out of Logan, I nearly broke down in tears at the check-in desk. I still go to the airport with a bit of trepidation, but I won't let it stop my from flying (especially to LHR).

9/11 is certainly a watershed in my life, in terms of the way that I think about the world, but it isn't the only watershed.  There are others; some more personal and some less. What I hope that what we take out of that day in September ten years ago is something positive rather than negative: a love of country, freedom, and each other, because what we were reminded of that day is that we are all in this together.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"I've been a wild rover for many a year And I spent all my money on whiskey & beer..."*

This time last year, I was touring around Ireland with Sister K. It was definitely a trip of a lifetime, and it was completely worth the early morning calls and hotel changes to see so much of the country in only ten days.
I have been thinking about that trip because 1. JR & RH are heading out today for their own trip to Ireland, and 2. the weather in Boston is doing a fairly accurate impersonation of the weather we had when we were in Dublin. (That is to say, it has been on the cold side and raining on and off for the last two days.)
I am a little jealous that they are getting to visit Ireland again, but I need to start thinking about my next big trip. Scotland, anyone? (I'd love to get Sister K to come with me, but we'd have to sort her out with the accent first!)

Photographs by Sister K (actually it is one panoramic photo by her, that I cropped into two photos)

* "And it's no, nay, never, No nay never no more,
    Will I play the wild rover No never no more."   The Wild Rover


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