Category Archives: Frogs

The Frogs at Frog Pond at the Bartlet Mall in Newburyport, MA.

The Newburyport Blog Can Now be Read on Phones and Other Mobile Devices

George checking  to see if the blog can be read on an IPhone

George checking to see if the blog can be read on an IPhone

George is happy that I finally did something about “this” (we haven’t heard from George, the political consultant to the Newburyport Blog, for a while, “Hello George.”). “This” being that the format of the Newburyport blog was not mobile phone or mobile device friendly.  Oh George, such an “on trend” frog, trying to keep me focused on such “nerdy” things as correcting code.  And of course the silly little frog is right. Not to have the blog mobile device friendly, how unfocused of moi.

So George has been sitting around at a laptop, experimenting.  And yes, much to George’s delight, the blog now seems to be readable on a mobile phone as well as a mobile pad or a tablet.  What a happy frog.

The Story of Lucky and What in the World is George Thinking?

George

George

In the previous post George got very upset with me for giving out a recipe to the readers of The Newburyport Blog about a gluten free, yummy coating for fish.  George is upset because one of his “pals” who he would like to consider recommending as a political consultant to The Newburyport Blog is a catfish, and George did not like the idea that readers of the Newburyport Blog would be encouraged to eat his relatives (as distant as they might be).

I have never told George that the catfish in question, Lucky, is by no means alone.  Frogs’ legs are considered a great epicurean delicacy, and the editor of The Newburyport Blog, moi, happens to love them. We will keep this one a secret, do NOT tell George, whatever you do!!

And I am only considering George’s request about Lucky becoming yet another political consultant to The Newburyport Blog because of his most unusual bio.

Lucky

Lucky

Lucky is now 15 years old, and this is how he came by his name.

Lucky was a sole survivor of a batch, ie. school of fish, the rest of whom met an untimely demise.  The owner was vacuuming the bottom of Lucky’s and his and companions’ (I am assuming relatives) fish tank, when the bottle attached to whatever was helping to do this task, filled up too fast and after lifting the bottle up, the flow reversed, filling the fish tank with soap suds. Horror.

One catfish (Lucky) was saved and put into a salad bowl.

The cat in the dwelling got the catfish (Lucky) out of the bowl and onto the floor.  Lucky was saved, whew, and put in a bowl in the toaster oven for safe keeping.  The toaster oven was mistakenly turned on to preheat supper. Lucky, inside the toaster oven miraculously survived, and at that point, low these many 15 years ago, was christened by his now catfish name, “Lucky.”  (True story, I kid you not).

And somehow Lucky found his way to The Newburyport Blog and he and George have become pals.  Could a catfish become yet another political consultant to The Newburyport Blog?  George happens to think so, but I’m still on the fence, or on the proverbial side of the fish tank.

(Photo of Lucky courtesy of the catfish’s owner, Newburyport City Councilor Bob Cronin.)

Gluten Free Breading for Fish – A Eureka Moment!

The Newburyport Blog gets a lot of visitors looking for “gluten free,” that Celiac whammy moment can be quite a shock.  And looking for a substitute for breadcrumbs, quite a head-scratcher.  Took me two and half years to come up with a substitute that is wicked yummy, so I pass it on to all those who are gluten free searching (and as a btw it rivals or maybe even better than those regular breadcrumbs for those un-gluten free folks).

The great big wonderful secret, Kellogg’s has come out with a gluten free version of Rice Krispies (one would think that Rice Krispies would have always been gluten free, but not so).  Put a bunch of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies in a plastic bag and then pulverize them with a rolling pin until they are crumbs (does not take long).

Take your fish fillet, squeeze lemon juice on both sides, coat both sides with oil (olive oil or whatever oil you would like), sprinkle with garlic salt and parmesan cheese, and then coat with the Rice Krispie pulverized crumbs (almost dust).

Cook, saute in oil.

The thing is that this Rice Krispie mixture makes the fish fillets not only brown, and delicious, but gives the fish a crispiness, that I’ve been unable to duplicate until Kelloggs came out with this wonderful gluten free gem (also great for meatloaf and meatballs, as well as a coating for chicken. It’s a Yum!).

Any fish fillet will do, Talapia, Catfish, Flounder etc.

Now, George is VERY upset with me that I mentioned catfish, because Councilor Cronin has a catfish called Lucky who is a big fan of George’s, and George does not appreciate the fact that I am encouraging the readership of The Newburyport Blog to actually eat relatives (however distant) of Lucky’s.

And to make matters even weirder for George (and now for moi), George is thinking about making Lucky a political consultant to The Newburyport Blog.  This is all thinking out loud on George’s part, but at some point he would very much like me to consider adding Lucky to the political roster.  This may take some head scratching on my part, never mind Newburyport City Councilor Bob Cronin!  Although, Lucky does have quite a story to tell.

(If you can’t find Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, Gluten Free Rice Chex will do, not as good, but Ok.)

Content Syndication and SEO at The Newburyport Blog

George looks at me and says, “Dahling…”

“Dahling” George? “Dahling?” First it was “Oy Vey,” and now it’s “Dahling.”

The frogs pow-wow around my computer.

The frogs pow-wow around my computer.

The “Oy Veh” thing was suspect enough for me and the readers of the Newburyport Blog that your wonderful Newburyport “pedigree,”  George Cushing of Frog Pond at the Bartlett Mall, might be suspect.  But what in the world has the political consultant to the Newburyport Blog been watching? (And, really, do buttoned up old Yankees [not many buttoned up old Yankees around these days, at least they seem to be dwindling here in Newburyport], say “Dahling,” I don’t think so.)

George and the twins pow-wow around my computer.  They point out to me that another site  is getting a whole lot of credit for stuff that I write on my blog, even images, good grief.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for the Newburyport Blog going out the window.

George rolls his eyes at me and continues, “Dahling, how could you have known? Stop beating yourself up.”

(George has obviously been watching some sort of combination of Dr. Phil and Bubbles Devere [aka Matt lucas], good grief!)

George, I’m not “beating myself up,” so get a grip. These folks could not have been nicer.  They wanted to promote the Newburyport Blog, and put at least, count’m, 5 links back to the blog on every post they syndicated!  Who could ask for more than that!!

But what do do.  With some sadness, I get in touch with these kind folks, and ask them if they would take all the content down that is from the Newburyport Blog. Sigh. And maybe Google will sort it all out in a week or so, and Google would realize that, moi and the Newburyport Blog writes this stuff.

The twins, aspiring political consultants for The Newburyport Blog

The twins, aspiring political consultants for The Newburyport Blog

“You could have done your homework, you know.” Say the Twins (aspiring political consultants to the Newburyport Blog).

“Say what?”  I say, and am in a little bit of a huff. Twerpy little frogs!!

But they are right. And this is from Google itself (which I had never seen before).

“Syndicate carefully: If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you’d prefer. However, it is helpful to ensure that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your original article. You can also ask those who use your syndicated material to use the noindex meta tag to prevent search engines from indexing their version of the content.”

Who knew. I would feel weird asking someone not to index (i.e. having their stuff show up on Google etc.) stuff on their sight, even if it was my stuff. And from a technical point of view, it could be mighty hard, especially if folks would be using a blogging software like WordPress.

So Google puts one in one weird dilemma.

False Statements on the “Say No to LHD” Mass Mailing

Disclaimer here:  Dr. Heersink who wrote a Letter to the Editor on on February 27, 2011 is my favorite doctor in Newburyport. As a doctor he is amazing.  I just happen to disagree with his stance on the proposed Local Historic District (LHD).

In the letter, among other things, Dr. Heersink defends the “Say No to LHD” (which he is a member of) literature that was mass mailed (2,700 pieces of mail) about 10 days ago.  The frogs and I on the Newburyport Blog have put our heads together and where to begin to counter all the allegations made in this disingenuous mailing.

Now usually I don’t like the comment section of the Newburyport Daily News, but the Newburyport Daily News has clarified their comment policy recently, so it looks like I won’t be called a “Nazi controlling zealot” any more, because that would be “racist and abusive.”  So whew! (I hope.)

There was a reply to Dr. Heersink by “GloryBe456″ (another poster thought it was moi, not so).  It’s a little strident for the Newburyport Blog’s taste, but since it makes so many points that the frogs and I agree with, I thought I would quote it on the Newburyport Blog (and it may capture the anger and frustration that is out there with “Say No to LHD”).

GloryBe456  (Whoever you are, and the spelling was corrected by moi-I am the Editor of The Newburyport Blog after all.)

“If Dr. Heersink is a member of “Say No to LHD”, then he should know that, considering the people he’s working with, the errors are not inadvertent, but on purpose.

If the members of this group knew city law, they would know that all members of all boards and commissions have to be city residents.  But, “inadvertrently” they stated in their mailing that LHD commission members didn’t have to be.

Another “inadvertent”  error is that people are going to be fined left, right and sideways if they do something the LHD commission doesn’t like.  Well, isn’t that interesting – did you know that the ZBA, Planning Board and Conservation Commission and Tree Committee and Building Inspector can levy fines, too? Guess when the last time was that happened?  That’s right, never.

Yet another “inadvertent” error was that all work requiring a permit will force homeowners to go in front of the LHD Commission.  Oh, really? WRONG!!!! a small fraction of work currently requiring a permit would require review by an LHD Commission.

Shall I go on?

Funny, the “Say No” group states that LHDs will DECREASE the value of your home.  At the same time, in his letter, Dr. Heersink, a Say No member, states that it’s irrelevant if the LHD INCREASES your property values.  Really? Which is it, Dr.?  Show me your data, Say No, that LHDs decrease property values.  You can’t.

Let’s keep going – “Say No” claims that “no construction, alteration, moving, demolition, etc.” will not be permitted without a “certificate of approval”.  WRONG AGAIN!  It’s called a “check off” at the building department that what the applicant is looking to do doesn’t come under the LHD commission’s jurisdiction.  Same was planning and zoning stuff is taken care of now.

Another incorrect “fact”. That the study committee has agreed to a “phased approach” to implementing the LHD throughout the national register historic district. WRONG! there is no ‘agreement’ to “phase in” more of the district.  IF anyone wanted to try such a thing, the ENTIRE process that the study committee has gone through would have to be started ALL OVER AGAIN – and good luck with that!

Costs of owning your home will increase by being in an LHD. WRONG! they are not requiring expansive features, finishes, etc.  Like vinyl siding? You’ll SAVE money in the end by not installing it because you won’t trap moisture in the walls of the house (which would lead to mold and moss growth, sheathing that will never dry out and have to be replaced – the removal of these things later will end up costing you way more than you think you “saved” on painting and regular maintenance had you not put it on to begin with.

Finally, all of the things the “Say No” people have listed as “at your expense” and “at the homeowner’s expense” are NO DIFFERENT than how the ZBA and planning boards work now.  the building inspector himself has ordered people to hire structural engineers “at the homeowner’s expense” if he sees a problem with a project.  So, stop the fear-mongering. Better to spend your time learning how your government works first.”

Almond Meal-Flour Cookies (They are Gluten Free)

And now for something completely different.

Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour at Market Basket and Natural Grocer in Newburyport, click to enlarge.

Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour at Market Basket and Natural Grocer in Newburyport, click to enlarge.

A lot of people arrive at the Newburyport Blog looking for “Newburyport, Gluten Free.”  I get emails from folks wondering if there is a Newburyport gluten free support group.  Nope, there isn’t, but I’ve sure have learned a whole lot about good old gluten free stuff, including the wonders of Almond Meal, incredibly good for you (whether you are gluten free or not), if you click the thumbnail of the back of the almond meal package, you’ll see.

The wonders and nutritional value of almond meal, press to enlarge.

The wonders and nutritional value of almond meal, press to enlarge.

Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour can be found at Market Basket here in Newburyport as well as Natural Grocer.  It’s magic.  Aside from easy to bake cookies, that have changed my gluten free life, it’s also an amazing coating along with parmesan chess on things like fish, it has its own oil.  Who knew.  Now the readers of the Newburyport Blog know.  The frogs wish that almond meal had come into their lives decades ago (were they around decades ago, I don’t think so. Frogs!!).

_______________________________________________

Vanilla Almond Meal Cookies (and variations)
(Adapted from Elana’s Pantry, elanaspantry.com, Elana Amsterdam, website and cookbook)

1 ¼ cups blanched almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
Dash pumpkin spice or cinnamon (optional)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup oil, canola or grapeseed oil (each has slightly different effect, I use canola oil)
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons GF vanilla

  1. Combine almond meal, salt, baking soda in a bowl.
  2. Stir together sugar and water, add vanilla in a smaller bowl and then oil and combine.
  3. Mix wet ingredients into dry.
  4. Form ½ inch balls and press onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  5. Bake at 350° for 5-6 minutes
  6. Cool and serve (can also freeze, I freeze in plastic square containers separated by wax paper, can put in microwave to unfreeze or eat frozen!)
  7. Makes around 27 cookies, about 60 calories each
  1. For chocolate cookies use 2 teaspoons vanilla and 2 Table spoons cocoa powder (put into the dry ingredients)(I also like a dash/shake of cinnamon).
  2. For orange cookies use 1 teaspoon orange extract and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I like a good shake/dash of pumpkin spice).
  3. For peanut butter cookies work in 1-2 teaspoons peanut butter at the end.
  4. For marble black and white cookies, take half  the mixture and add 1T of cocoa. Take one half vanilla and one half chocolate mixture for each cookie. (You can also add a teaspoon of peanut butter to the vanilla mixture to make marble black and white peanut butter cookies.)
  5. For lemon cookies use 1 teaspoon lemon extract and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Zest from one lemon optional, but delicious, and I like a good shake/dash of pumpkin spice.
  6. For chocolate chip cookies, use the vanilla recipe and add Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Morsels, the tiny ones. (You can also add chopped slivered almonds, and chopped dried mango is also fantastic. Any of those three ingredients, separate or together, are terrific.)

(There is also a more detailed almond meal-flour chocolate chip recipe here.)

The Newburyport Redevelopment Authority (NRA) in 2012

Courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archives, Ancient buildings demolished during Urban Renewal, The Unitarian Church on Pleasant Street in the background, Press image to enlarge

Courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archives, Ancient buildings demolished during Urban Renewal, The Unitarian Church on Pleasant Street in the background, Press image to enlarge

My fellow blogger Tom Salemi over at Newburyport Posts has taken a major civic plunge.  No tip-toeing into the Newburyport civic world for Tom.  Nope, a full dive, right in.  Last week Tom Salemi’s appointment to the NRA (Newburyport Redevelopment Authority, not the National Riffle Association) passed the Newburyport City Council unanimously.

Everyone here at the Newburyport Blog, me and the frogs, are mighty proud.

It would be hard to pick a more controversial board or committee in our fair city of Newburyport than the NRA. (This is a vast understatement.)

The lots that the NRA are in charge of, have literally been fought over for the last 40+ years.  And if P.Preservationist is right, “It is known that the Committee for the Open Waterfront are cracking open their old file cabinets and rallying to restart their efforts.  This sounds like a huge brouhaha coming!”  And that would surprise me not in the least.

I‘ve always thought that the issue of the waterfront, the NRA’s two dirt lots down by the waterfront, would never be resolved in my life time (to see long ago post, press here).  Maybe this is the golden moment, who knows, we will see.  But I am not holding my breath.

I’ve always thought that those two dirt lots are cursed (the history is so complex, who could begin to explain). And in my wanderings to find stuff about the proposed Newburyport Local Historic District (LHD), which includes downtown Newburyport, I came across the picture in this post (I think it was taken in 1968, but I’m not 100% positive), in the Newburyport Public Library Archives.  The caption reads, “First Unitarian Church on Pleasant St. rises from area cleared of ancient buildings as Newburyport’s urban renewal program moves ahead.”  And the photograph looks as if it is taken way, way back from the Unitarian Church, on those two dirt lots. (If you press the image, it will enlarge.)

The photograph is haunting.  It is a reminder to me that when stuff is gone, it is gone for good. All those “ancient” houses gone for good.  And I always wondered if that area, not to sound silly, is haunted.  It has been so difficult to get anything accomplished over the last 40+ years, so many people have tried, that I really and truly wonder.

(If you download the image would you please give The Archival Center at The Newburyport Public Library and The Newburyport Blog credit.  Thank you.)

The Newburyport LHD Wars

From what I can make out, and George and the other “political consultants” to the Newburyport Blog can make out, there are two groups of folks who are against Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD).

The “Say NO to LHD” folks, who appear to be Tea Party folks, who are misrepresenting and distorting the facts (see previous posts here and here).

And it also appears that the opposition, also often very hostile opposition, which might be the “masses” that Newburyport City Councilor Dick Sullivan was referring to in his quote in the article on the Local Historic District by Brenda Buote in the Boston Globe that can be read here.

The film "A Measure of Change"

The film "A Measure of Change"

There is an amazing film made about Newburyport in 1975 called “A Measure of Change” that can be seen here.  I think two of the comments below the video sum up what some of the more “silent” opposition to the LHD are feeling.

“…our heritage replaced by tourist traps, overpriced specialty shops, higher taxes, impossibly high rents for working-class citizens…  I loved the old town, but it wasn’t rebuilt, it was essentially destroyed, and replaced with some architectural designs that our ancesters would never have tolerated. Why do you think so many former Newburyporters ARE former Newburyporters??  They can no longer afford to live there. The city has been taken over by special interests from out of state… This pathetic attempt to put lipstick on this pig won’t make it acceptable to me, for one.”

And another commentator in reply:

“You said it in a nut shell!  I was born and raised there, but by the time i was 30ish my parents had to put their house on the market because they could no longer afford to live there. And they both grew up there as well, and hated to leave. They spend the rest of their day in NH.”

And from one of the opposition LHD petitions.

“…tell the do gooders to get a life and get out of ours.”

“Work in town. This is a really bad idea. Old time nbpter, not a blow in.”

“Another layer of socialist bureaucracy, by a board of permit komaczars who answer to no one with unlimited autocratic authority…And to think this whole nonsense began because some newby didn’t like the way his neighbor kept his property. Disgusting!”

Lots of anger there.

But at this point, and it could most certainly change, the pro-LHD petition now has 300 signatures, mostly from “blow ins,” who “blew in” 30 to 40 some years ago, to more recently. And the two anti-LHD petitions, one has 24 signatures, and the other has 4 signatures (I don’t think “Oecpexgrmu” counts).

So the “masses” that Dick Sullivan has referred to, might be the folks who are not “blow ins” or “newbies” or “do gooders,” but “old time Newburyporters” (“nbpter”).

I’ve been told that local historic districts don’t create friction in the community, but they do bring to the surface the frictions that already exist.

Petitions R Us

George is happy (although he doesn’t’ look very happy, but who knows if George could ever look happy), I‘m happy.  The online petition in support of Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD) is doing well, and seems, at least at this point, to be adding signatures, 150 for the LHD and 13 against.  This works for me.

George looking happy

George looking "happy"

I wasn’t going to put up a petition, but then I got an email from someone telling me about the petition against Newburyport’s LHD, and I thought, “What the heck, let’s put one up.  We had such great success with the petition in favor of saving High Street back in 1999, maybe this one will be fun too.”

And I’ve gotten so many emails, and even phone calls thanking me, which is so nice. Thank you out there in web-land.  Usually for the Newburyport Blog it’s the other way around.

People seem so fed up with those who are commenting in the comment section of the Newburyport Daily News, trashing, and sometimes very personally trashing those who write in favor of Newburyport’s LHD, as well as giving out an astounding amount of mis-information about Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District, that what has been expressed to me is relief, a way to say, “Here we are, we think Newburyport’s Local Historic District is a great idea!!”

If you want to join in signing the petition in support of Newburyport’s Local Historic District you can sign the online petition here.

George and Showing Up

George Cushing, the political consultant for the Newburyport Blog concerned about moi.

George Cushing, the political consultant for the Newburyport Blog concerned about moi.

George Cushing, the political consultant to the Newburyport Blog has expressed concern for moi.

Of course George and I discussed the whole fight for Newburyport’s proposed LHD, and blogging about it on the Newburyport Blog, much less “Save Newburyport-Support a Local Historic District.”   And we both thought that it would get pretty wild. I keep explaining to George, because he wasn’t around then, I mean, he wasn’t even born then, he’s a frog for goodness sakes, that when I got involved with the fight to save historic High Street back in 1999 I was a green (George is green, but not that kind of green) political newbie with a pretty thin skin (George has thin skin, he’s a frog).  I think almost a decade and a half later, working on different political projects for the City of Newburyport, and blogging the Newburyport Blog, now going on my 7th year, that, I hope, I’m a little tougher.

And believe it or not, even though I may not agree with people who are opposed to the proposed LHD, I admire anyone who shows up and cares.

Thank You to my Fellow Newburyport Bloggers

A very big “thank you” to my fellow Newburyport bloggers for such a warm “welcome back” as I return from a blogging sabbatical. Especially to the P. Preservationist and my fellow blogger Tom Salemi, who writes the Newburyport Posts.

And also for the nice “thank you” on Facebook from fellow bloggers Ed Cameron and Ari Herzog, who are both running for Newburyport election, Tuesday, November 8, 2011, as City Councilor At Large.

George Cushing

George Cushing Political Consultant to The Newburyport Blog

One of the great things, among so many great things in Newburyport, is that if you don’t want to read an “editorial” blog, such as this blog, with a frog as a political consultant (ie George Cushing, political consultant to the Newburyport Blog), or P. Preservationist or the Newburyport Posts, we have Newburyport City Councilors who blog, so you can go right to the source.

Along with Ed Cameron, and Ari Herzog, Bob Cronin, Newburyport City Councilor running unopposed in Ward 3 updates his blog on a regular basis and in a very thoughtful manner. And we also have Allison Heartquist, Newburyport City Councilor for Ward 1.

And all these blogger want you to go out and vote on Tuesday, November 8, 2011.

Newburyport, High Street and the November Election

George Cushing Political Consultant for the Newburyport Blog

George Cushing Political Consultant for the Newburyport Blog

George, the political consultant of for the Newburyport Blog is very glad that the editor of the Newburyport Blog, moi, has decided to write again. He likes to see himself on the World Wide Web.

George, web-savvy frog that he is, feels that it would be necessary to include an historic photo in the blog posts about the upcoming elections and the whole conundrum of Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD), because people keep landing on the Newburyport Blog looking for historic photographs.

So, Ok George, here’s an early 20th century postcard of High Street that’s in the public domain. Happy??

Actually, it suits me, I love historic photographs of Newburyport.

I love the historic character of Newburyport, period. It’s why I moved here.

In 1981 (no I’m not a native, Newburyport City Councilor, Tom O’Brien, called me an “almost native”) I drove down historic High Street and by the time I had parked in front of the real estate agent on Green Street, I wanted to live here. And I am hardly alone. High Street is that beautiful and that compelling.

Newburyport, High Street, Early 20th Century Postcard

Newburyport, High Street, Early 20th Century Postcard

And having seen High Street almost destroyed by MassHighway in 1999, I don’t take the street for granted anymore. And in 1999, fighting to save High Street, I discovered that a Local Historic District (LHD) would enhance political protection against destructive changes to our historic roadway. I’ve wanted political protection for that particular part of our wonderful city for a long time.

And here we are. It’s now a possibility again. And I would hate to see that political protection slip away yet one more time. It’s not like this is the first time the city has fought over having a LHD for High Street. We’ve been fighting over this since at least the 1970’s. If a LHD had passed in the 1970’s, one could only imagine how incredible the roadway would be today.

Looking back on the Newburyport Blog I found a quote in 2007 that at that time Newburyport had lost a third of its historic housing stock. The number has gone up since then.

So, the upcoming Newburyport Election, on Tuesday, November 8, 2011:

The At Large candidates running for Newburyport City Council who are on record for supporting the process of a Local Historic District, i.e. the economic future of Newburyport are:

Ed Cameron

Barry Connell

Mike Early

Ari Herzog

Steve Hutcheson

Katy O’Connor Ives

And.. You will be voting on the Newburyport Charter. Basically a “Yes” vote means that the mayor of Newburyport, MA will be elected for 4 years instead of 2 years. (It’s a good idea, vote “Yes.”)

Newburyport, et. al–One Step Back

Newburyport et. al (“et. al”=abrr Latin, et. alii=”and others”), “two steps forward and one step back.”

“Two steps forward and one step back,” according to Wikipedia, “Is a catchphrase reflecting on an anecdote about a frog trying to climb out of a water well; for every two steps the frog climbs, it falls back by one step, making its progress arduous.”

George loves this. George being one of the political consultants to the Newburyport Blog. Finally, after all this time a reference to “frogs.”

george_thumbs-up.jpg

George extremely happy that frogs are once again being “taken seriously” on the Newburyport Blog.

George, btw, has been lobbying for his own “Fan Page” on Facebook, as the consultant to the Newburyport Blog. (I might just do it, to show him that his “fans” are most likely froggy few and far between.)

And for this “Liberal Democrat,” the election for the Massachusetts Senate seat is most definitely “one step back.” (A lot more than “one” step.)

And in my funk, (I am most definitely in a funk about the result of the Massachusetts special election), I’m thinking that the “two steps forward and one step back,” applies to almost every political attempt at progress, whether it is from a Liberal, Democrat, Republican, Progressive, Conservative, Rightwing, Independent, whatever point of view.

It’s just how stuff works. The Democrats made huge history, giant leap forward, with the election of an Afro-American president. In the cyclical nature of things, at least “one” step backwards probably could have been expected.

And in Newburyport, MA, the election of 2007 ushered in one of the most “progressive” Newburyport City Councils that I have ever seen. The mantra was for “hang on to your hats,” “full speed ahead” with a progressive agenda.

Election 2009, for a myriad of reasons, a progressive Newburyport Council, not so much. And why this should surprise me? It should not. In Newburyport, it has been my observation, that from whatever point of view, the path is never linear, it always seems to me to be, “two steps forward, one step back.”

Photoshop Frames for Frogs

As most of you already know, but probably most of you don’t really care, George Cushing of Frog Pond, the political consultant to the Newburyport Blog, is pissed at me because he thinks the “new look” makes him look yucky.

I’m a sucker for frogs who feel sorry for themselves, and actually George has a point, he could look better. Also, in exploring my inner geek, I’m also falling in love with Photoshop all over again. So, I decided (not just for George, but also for my paintings that are on the World Wide Web) to see what I could come up with Photoshop frame-wise, to make him look just a little spiffier.

Placating frogs. Yup, that’s what we do over here at the Newburyport Blog.

Website Design Outrage

The frogs are outraged.

The frogs are outraged because they think the new “look” of The Newburyport Blog makes them look awful. In fact they think it makes them look “tacky.” (What can I say, they’ve always looked somewhat “tacky,” but believe me, I’m not going to go there.)

I tell the frogs (I haven’t put a photo of the frogs, just incase the new “look” does in fact make them look less than their amphibian sparkling best, just a previous link to their entire frog page, “About George”) that the color scheme is actually pretty close to the old “look.” They are not placated. They tell me that the maroon headlines brought out their eyes (I of course am rolling mine). I tell them they have beady black eyes and the maroon headlines did nothing of the sort.

I also tell them, if I’m going to experiment with designing websites, for goodness sakes, why not start experimenting on one of my own sites, for crying out loud. And that there is always tweaking that can be done, and worstcase scenario I can always change back to the old look. Good grief.

I also tell them that they should pay attention to their new president, who said that it was “time to put away childish things,” and that they are definitely being very childish. That there is a big difference between silly and whiney, and they are definitely being stupid wildly whiney.

And they say, they don’t care, that they would like to be selfish, narcissistic (pretty big word for a frog, have they been studying psych?) frogs and they don’t give a rip what the new president said. And I say, “Guys, depending how you look at it, you are in “good” company, because there appear to be plenty of Wall Street folks who feel exactly the same way.”

On Frogs and the Once Being Toaded Dilemma

As many long time readers of the Newburyport Blog know, I have a fondness for frogs.

Actually my fondness for frogs developed as a defense against being “Toaded.”

A little background here, because how soon we forget.

There was a time, long, long ago, when Tom Ryan ruled the political Newburyport earth, and had a local political journal called “The Undertoad.” Mr. Ryan had an astounding radar for what drove any particular human being nuts. And if a Newburyport human being crossed a particular Tom Ryan code of ethics, that human being got “Toaded,” i.e. slammed in the Undertoad, and all their particular buttons got wildly pressed.

It was not a pleasant experience for those who entered into the very, very long (and actually it was becoming somewhat distinguished) list of the Newburyport Toaded.

I figured, writing the Newburyport Blog, that it was only a matter of time, before, I too would get Toaded. But Mr. Ryan went on to bigger and better things, like being given the Human Hero Award by the MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center, receiving it at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, and headlining the award ceremony with Emmylou Harris. Not a bad gig.

My big defense against getting Toaded–a bunch of stuffed frogs. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Now, it seems a little out of touch with reality. Oh well.

But the frogs and I had a grand old time (and for goodness sakes we still may). There was a good deal of eye rolling, especially by male readers of the Newburyport Blog, about my beloved frogs. I was told once that no serious reader would read any post that contained green critters, except this person had read all the posts containing green critters. Go figure.

I was also told that because of the frog thing, I was totally whacked. Yes, “No Comment.”

However, it is my experience, that weirdly, the more political power an individual actually had, the more they actually liked my cadre of green things. A sort of interesting frog political Rorschach test.

I was listening to a friend talk about a (national) politician, and they were talking about this person not exactly being a “prince,” but no “frog” either.

And that got me to thinking. Maybe all those readers who didn’t like my frogs, were actually frogs themselves. And no amount of frog kissing would ever turn them into “princes” or bring about some sort of fairy tale ending, like being honored at the Kennedy Center for a humanitarian award and headlining that 21st Annual Animal Hall of Fame dinner with Emmylou Harris.

Ain’t life grand.

The Frogs and Possible Political Obsoleteness

The frogs are perturbed with me.

They claim that I’ve been ignoring them. And a picture of anyone of them has not been seen on the Newburyport Blog, since July of 2007.

My.

Well, 2 things.

And I hate to break it to the frogs, but apparently for some readers of the Newburyport Blog, they (the frogs) are not so popular. In fact, I was told by one visitor that they actually refuse to read any entry with pictures of “frogs” in them.

Goodness.

I think this could be very upsetting for George Cushing, Georgiana Tadpole and the twins .

George+G.jpg
George Cushing and Georgiana Tadpole
being “pissed” at this bit of news.

And I’ve been mulling over what to do. But forget about “frog naysayers,” I love my frogs.

And the 2nd thing, quite frankly, is that I thought the November election 2007 was pretty serious stuff. And although George Cushing, from Frog Pond at the Bartlet Mall, is the political consultant for the Newburyport Blog, I thought it might be best if green amphibians might not make political commentary during something so important.

So now that the Newburyport election 2007 is over, maybe I could lighten up a little bit. And George and Georgiana and the Twins could stop being so pissed at moi.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Power and Mud

Power.

It’s a word that’s been buzzing around in my brain lately.

And within the community, there appears that there could be a political shift in power.

This is not necessarily a good thing, or a bad thing. We’ll just have to wait and see.

We had the “old boys” (I apologize for lack of a better word). We had the “Mead progressives” (again, I apologize, maybe I’ll think of something better). And now we have this “new dichotomy.” The political world in Newburyport, MA starting January 1, 2008 (possibly shaping up a little sooner).

When Lisa Mead came into “power” in her first term in the 1990′s, for a then “young” woman, like myself, it seemed like a brave, happy, new world.

But, alas, politics is complicated, and never made up of “perfect” people (never has been, never will be); and learning curves and power plays on all different levels, unfolded over the years.

The brave new world I thought would evolve, became unavoidably, I suppose, a muddled business (and in 20-20, I guess one would think that it would).

And I imagine that that is what would most probably happen with this, pure as the driven snow, new political landscape. That it too could experience learning curves and power plays, and end up muddy, like a muddy, month of March in Newburyport, MA.

The frogs (we haven’t seen or heard from the frogs in a while) think I’m being cynical.

No, George and Georgiana , not cynical. Simply being realistic.

And what interests me is, who might end up rolling around in the mud, and how the muddy stuff might come about.

George has reminded me, that frogs actually like the mud, which protects them during long, cold, hard, New England winters. So, not only could mud be a necessary thing, but a good thing as well. So there.

Good grief. Possibly a wise frog? Or just a silly frog? I’m going to have to think on this one.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Statistics and Frogs on the Newburyport Blog

I’m obsessed with my “stats” (statistics for the Newburyport Blog). “Statistic obsession” apparently is “de rigueur” or at least “pretty normal” apparently with other bloggers.

(I find this weirdly comforting.)

I know a whole lot of people read the Newburyport Blog. That I get. And I know a whole lot of folks find the Newburyport Blog (mainly, apparently, through Google). I keep asking myself, self, “Who are these people who read the Newburyport Blog??”

Looking at the “key words” that people are searching for gives me some idea of who might be out there in Web Land.

Here’s an example:

1) “Property owners rights against frog ponds,” from a computer somewhere in Mattoon, Illinois.

And here’s another example:

2) “Neighborhood petition to save frog pond,” from a computer somewhere in, Willimantic, Connecticut.

(There was also someone searching for “frog panties,” but we just won’t go there.)

So, “ha,” to those of you who tell me you don’t read any postings that contain images of frogs (or “stuffed animals”) in them. The Newburyport Blog is, apparently, giving great comfort both to folks who want to get rid of “frog ponds” (George and the other frogs obviously think the searcher in Mattoon, Illinois is “frog phobic”), as well as great comfort to people wanting to save “frog ponds.”

Obviously this is not entirely true.

I can’t imagine what whoever it is, must think, when they are desperately trying either to get rid of a real live frog pond or save a real, live frog pond and they get George. Good grief.

Well, either they roll their eyes, and Web Land on. Or maybe the vague possibility, like some readers, who find the Newburyport Blog on a fluke, find themselves being on the “verge of,” or “admitting to” actually having crossed over to “Newburyport Blog addiction.”

For self acclaimed Newburyport Blog addicts everywhere, I thank you, and I am deeply appreciative if not downright touched. And to the people looking to get rid of frog ponds, or save frog ponds, some other blog/venue will just have to suffice.

(And in all seriousness, for the folks in the Midwest, and I do not know if that includes Mattoon, Illinois or not, our hearts go out to all the people who live in the places that have been so damaged by the most recent floods.)

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Self-Sustaining Newburyport Pets

My self-sustaining pets–the American Yellow Finches in my backyard (see earlier entry)… Well all of a sudden it’s feeding time at the zoo.

All summer long it’s been peck, peck, peck.

I looked out my window the other day at both finch feeders, and good grief within a matter of days they were half empty. Say what?

(I was going to subject the readers of the Newburyport Blog to a picture of one of “my” finches. But A) the picture looks like a yellow blob, and B) the readers of the Newburyport Blog are subjected to pictures of stuffed frogs, which are probably enough “animals” for one local blog.

But, if you are really dying to see what a gorgeous American Gold Finch actually looks like, please press here.)

One of the finch feeders is about 3 feet from one of my studio windows (I am a painter).

In the spring and for most of the summer, the minute I come near the window, whoosh, bye-bye feeding finch.

Now, I come by my window and they just look at me, as if to say, “What’s your problem, I’m eating here. Get lost already.”

Ok. Cool.

But all of this has me very curious. What the heck is going on? (Plus, I seem to have a whole lot of new finches. I used to only have 2 pair, now I’m counting at least 4. Wow.)

It turns out that these gorgeous little creatures are eating for 4-6. Finches breed late, the babies have hatched and everybody’s chowing down. Plus maybe some of these new finches are actually “baby” finches. (I don’t know. I just don’t know that much about finches.)

When I think about it, I remember this happening every year. Wild finch feeding. And then one day, no more finches.

And then, I finally get the message, everyone’s flown south. (But they always come back the next year.)

Mary Eaton
Newburyport