Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A gift for British Airways

My hubby, BMG, and I are going to Ireland this summer. In anticipation of our flight to London and then on to Dublin, we reached out to British Airways via Twitter to tell them we were excited to be flying with them soon.

If you read this blog, you know this brief exchange with a favorite brand on Twitter turned into a promise to send a gift basket to the 59 members of the social media team based in England.

This is what we shipped on Tuesday, June 16:

And, for the benefit of the team at British Airways, we are providing the following explanation of what we shipped:

1. Magnet depicting Plymouth Rock, the legendary spot where the pilgrims first stepped foot on what would become America. It is the most disappointing tourist site in America.

2. Autumn/Thanksgiving-scented candles from Massachusetts brand, Yankee Candle. Massachusetts is located in a region known as New England, home to the original American colonies. Tourists from all over the world visit New England each fall for a "sport" known as leaf peeping, or driving around to look at the color landscape created as the leaves on our deciduous trees prepare for fall. And, as the home to the first Thanksgiving (in 1621), the scent of pumpkin pie is characteristic of New England.

3. Tiny replica of Mayflower II, a replica of the replica of the replica of the pilgrim's ship that made the journey from the Netherlands to the land that would become America. This is a fun tourist attraction, complete with historic re-enacters.

4. The South Shore of Massachusetts offers a rich history in ship building and has an active commercial fishing industry. Lobsters, once a poor man's food, is now the fanciest food you can eat. Shipping live lobsters for 59 people was cost prohibitive, so instead we're sending gummi lobsters. Unlike the real thing, the gummis should NOT be boiled and eaten with clarified butter.

5. We've appropriated the British queen's "Keep Calm and Carry On" in 12,000 appropriate and inappropriate ways.


7. Hull is a scrappy community here on the South Shore. They are home to the only public beach, which makes this town one of the most frequently visited.

8. Boston baked beans! Boston is known as "Bean town" and this candy celebrates that history.

9. One of the major exports of the region is cranberries! A Thanksgiving staple, cranberries also have loads of vitamin C and antioxidants. We've provided enough cranberry tea for EVERYONE in the office to enjoy a cuppa cuppa.

10. And if you love cranberries, we've also included milk chocolate covered cranberries from the nearby Cape Cod Candy Company.

11. Back to lobsters, or lobstahs as Bostonians would say. Not a fan of gummis? Maybe you like lollipops? We've included five of these for the lollipop eaters in the office.

12. Colonial history is a big part of what makes the region where we live special. We've included a copy of the Mayflower Compact, the first governing document of the American colonies, AND a map of the world as it was known by the colonists in 1635.

13. Boston's accent is legendary. "Park your car in Harvard Yard" is pronounced "Pahk your cah in hahvahd yahd." And if a Bostonian thinks something is amazing? We call it "wicked pissah!" Two drink coozies from the town of Scituate, the heart of the Irish Riviera, will help make sure you remember this.

14. The beachy vacation mecca of Cape Cod is just an hour's drive away. We can also get there by boat from Boston, and, recently, by train. (I've also biked there, but it took 18 hours; I don't recommend that.) Cape Cod Potato Chips (or should we call them crisps) are one of our exports.

15. Massachusetts was the third colony in what became America. And, the American revolution was fomented just 15 miles north in Boston. John Adams, 2nd president of the U.S. and one of the framers of our constitution, lived on the South Shore (as did his son, the 6th president of the U.S., John Quincy Adams). We think of ourselves as the one of the cradles of our nation, and we take the 4th of July very seriously. We've shared some accouterments of our celebrations, including patriotic tiaras, beaded necklaces, a bow tie, and fundraising buttons from Hingham's 4th of July parade.

16. Finally, when we were crowd sourcing the contents of this gift basket, we were told the gift would not be complete without representation from our local sports teams. Boston is a big sports towns, with baseball, (American) football, basketball, hockey, and soccer teams. We've included bumper stickers from our most popular teams, the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots. (And I have to mention that BMG is NOT A FAN of the Patriots.)

We hope you enjoy your little slice of New England and the Boston's South Shore. For our part, we're looking forward to visiting Ireland and (Olde) England on our upcoming vacation!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Room of My Own

“Women have sat indoors all these millions of years, so that by this time the very walls are permeated by their creative force, which has, indeed, so overcharged the capacity of bricks and mortar that it must needs harness itself to pens and brushes and business and politics.” 

My husband gave me a desk for my birthday this year. And by this I mean he cleaned out our spare room (aka "the office") so I could make room for a desk and some of my personal things.

My desk is utilitarian. A boxy black tabletop affixed to a tool bookshelf on one side, and a smaller one on the other. On it rests my laptop computer, a box of bills to pay and paid bills to file, and accouterments of an ordinary office. I look up and see a collage I made more than 10 years ago, framed and reminding me that no one can squelch the light that shines within me. I also see a picture of my family and another of my nieces and nephews. Hastily decoupaged tins, commandeered from the bathrooms where they once held cotton balls and band-aids, now hold my dusty collection of designer markers and colored pencils collected long ago to supplement a stamp art habit. And, of course, a photo of Paris, taken on my first trip there with BMG more than seven years ago.

Looking around the 6' x 4' space I've been granted in the office, I am reminded that it is energizing and essential to have one's own space for creative endeavors.

Now that I have a desk, I'm finding myself excited about all of the computer projects that were piling up. Projects like:

  • Help my husband organize the accounting and project management system for his business
  • Teaching myself Wordpress so I can work on our blog and other social media properties
  • Helping my husband set up an Etsy shop to sell his photography
  • Starting to write again
  • Starting to do more paper crafting
  • Breathing. 

I hadn't realized how much being forced to pay bills from the kitchen counter or being relegated to the cat hair covered couch to do my blogging in the wee hours of the morning before my hubby flipped on ESPN was cramping my style. But it was.

I write this at 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning. ESPN is, in fact, blaring from the living room (which is also the kitchen and the dining room in our tiny home). But I'm neither distracted nor bothered by it. And, from my little space in the office, all I can see are the tools of my productive life. There are no rugs that need to be vacuumed, dishwashers that need to be emptied, litter boxes that cry to be cleared, and washing machines whose silence reminds me it is time to throw their contents into the dryer.

It doesn't take a lot to make this girl happy. And I am happy to have a room of my own. Thanks BMG.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

This is 45

Today I celebrated the successful completion of my 45th year on this planet. What does 45 look like to me, you wonder?
* Throwing away the last two tater tots because I know there is no room in my stomach for them
* A 6:15 a.m. phone conversation with my mom because she kniwsi'm up and likely at my best 
* A 6:30 a.m. txt conversation with a friend who knows I'm up and will txt back that early
* Choosing to skip dessert because I'd rather have a drink (and occasionally vice-versa)
* Being able to ask,y husband for EXACTLY what I want, and getting just a little bit more
* Unapologetically explaining my movie reviews come from both NPR and TMZ
* Delight in having a signature scent, and body powder to prove it  
* Understanding that love - for my husband, a childhood friend, family members - simply means wanting someone else to experience happiness, no matter what it means to them

I would be lying if I didn't say I wasn't a little panicked at being half-way to 90. And I know that if I (knock on wood) died tomorrow, people would say I was a good person who lived a good life.

Happy birthday to me.46 is looking pretty good from here.

Monday, February 16, 2015

What I Am Not:

  • Upset about showing signs of aging
  • Defined by what I do (or don't do) for my husband (or kids or pets or besties)
  • Interested in the Kardashians or the Jenners or any "housewife" or "bachelor"
  • Keeping up with the Joneses
  • A tea drinker
  • A dog person
  • A car person, a logo person, a status person
  • Ashamed of crying
  • Afraid my best years are behind me
But, I am certainly not defined by what I am not. 

So what am I? I am: 

  • Happily middle-aged
  • Quirky
  • A socially adept introvert
  • Both utilitarian and empathic
  • Energized by accomplishment 
  • Tidy, but not always clean
  • Immune to fads
  • Terrified of obesity-related health complications and homelessness
  • At peace with the cards I've been dealt

Monday, February 2, 2015

Little House in the Big Blizzard

My adopted hometown of Boston is experiencing a record snowfall. Over the last seven days, more than four feet of the white stuff have fallen on the pristine grounds of The Tiny Bunaglow.

I grew up in Central New York. I thought I could handle it. 

But, when I came home from work tonight, after the latest 15" had fallen from the skies, and discovered that the plow guy for hire who was supposed to clear the driveway hadn't yet showed up, and the municipal plow guys had pushed what appeared to be all of the snow from the neighborhood streets on my front lawn, blocking the only path to my front porch, I lost it. 

Yup. I was sitting in my car, parked illegally on the road in front of my house, sobbing. So I did what all rational people would do in a similar situation. I called my husband, who is stranded in Florida by a series of unfortunate events, and we had a screaming fight.

After I hung up in a righteous huff, now crying, angry and still barred from getting into my house, I thought, "What would Laura Ingalls Wilder do in this situation?" (Some people call on God in times of trouble. Me? I call on Laura.)

Laura would not let a six foot high bank of snow, hiding 15 feet of unplowed field and two short sets of unplowed steps, get in the way of her making it home. And she certainly wouldn't sit in her car crying. 

So I surveyed the perimeter of the yard, found what appeared to be the smallest section of the snow bank and I waded in. In fewer than five minutes, I was on the porch, and 30 minutes later I had removed the day's worth of powder from the stairs and most of the front lawn. I knew, through the efforts of BMG, that the DPW and police were en route to deal with the deep bank of plowed snow. But they hadn't yet arrived. 

I wondered, "Should I start tunneling through the 6' high bank? Or do I trust that the people who say they are going to help ARE in fact coming to help." I did a little tunneling, and then decided to trust.

While I waited, I counted my blessings. Because Laura would count her blessings, right? 

I spent nearly an hour trying to get into my house. But I am blessed to have a well-insulated house.

I was cold and wet after 90 minutes solving the problem of the impassable yard. But I am blessed to have a warm winter coat, sturdy boots, snow pants and multiple pairs of gloves so I can be sure to always have a dry pair on as I continue to work in the frigid cold. 

I felt hopelessly alone, shoveling in the dark as I waited for the DPW workers and police officers to arive. But I am blessed to have neighbors who both worry about my whereabouts and the accessibility of my home, and offer help in spite of their own exhaustion from digging their homes out from under all the snow.

And when the plow driver for hire never showed up and I had to clear my own driveway? Blessed again, this time with an ergonomic shovel and a strong body that made it possible for me to do the work myself. 

The latter part of my day sucked. But, sitting in the comfort of the little house in the big blizzard, I'm aware that I'm lucky. Really lucky. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


verb (used with object), oomphasized, oomphasizing
to add a little flair, or "oomph" to a person, idea or object

We will be oomphasizing that committee roster to give it some new life

Monday, January 5, 2015

Dr. Martin Broff suggests a new tax deduction

I was hoping I'd have one of those crazy pictures of my forearm to share tonight. You know the ones of the allergy prick tests that show 30+ injection points where the specialists tries to determine what allergens trigger a reaction.

You know - one that looks like this.

Or maybe this? 

But I don't. 

Not only do I not have pictures, but I have no remarkable allergies. Said Dr. Martin Broff at South Shore Allergy and Asthma, "There is nothing I can do to alleviate your poison ivy. And your seasonal (various pollen) and perennial (cat) allergies are unremarkable enough that neither prick testing nor immunology treatments are really needed." 

After seeing my weak smile, he continued, "I'm afraid I'm disappointed you."

Yup. That was disappointing news. But not surprising.  While I didn't get a cool picture or a breakthrough on how to manage my allergies, I did learn somethings during my 45 minute consult. 

Top ten things I learned while talking with Dr. Martin Broff
10. Contact dermatitis is a chemical allergic reaction that happens at a cellular level. Because of this, it can take up to five days for a reaction to fully emerge. 
9. Contact dermatitis is fundamentally different from, say, a ragweed allergy, which is a result of a protein binding/cleaving deficiency that takes place almost immediately. 
8. There are three ways to treat allergies - avoidance, medication and immunotherapy (aka allergy shots).
7. The number one allergy is to dust mites. And the number two is to cats. 
6. The number one allergy trigger in schools is cats. Not because there are cats in schools (as a general rule), but because cat allergens, like dust mites and pollen, is everywhere. 
5. OTC medications that treat the symptoms, like Claritin and Allegra, are generally as good as the prescription stuff.
4. Nasal sprays, like flonase, just became available OTC last month. 
3. There used to be immunotherapy treatments for poison ivy. But they didn't work. In fact, said Dr. Broff, "they actually did some damage." 
2. While goat-scaping is intriguing as an strategy for eliminating poison ivy, at least annually, there is no guarantee that the allergen won't be found in whatever is touched by whatever is eliminated by the goats. 

And the number 1 most important thing I learned while talking to the allergist? 

If mattress covers and air duct cleanings are deductible as a legitimate medical expense for people with traditional allergies, then it stands to reason that I may be able to deduct one professional yard cleaning to eliminate the poison ivy each year. 

45 minutes after my appointment ended, I was already back to my daily dose of Claritin. Which I needed because I was turning over dusty piles of paper looking for receipts from the landscaper we hired to eliminate the poison ivy in 2014. (Fingers crossed it works!)