Category Archives: Fun

Late to the Instagram Planet

I find myself often late to many planets.  Late to the David Sedaris planet (my discovery of David Sedaris, or the “scull guy,” Christmas 2008 here), who has now become probably my most favorite writer, and “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” probably my most favorite book.

Hal-In

(An Instagram portrait of my son, Hal, who always, graciously, seems to acquiesce to his mother’s instinct to create yet another portrait of him.)

In my rebellion about being chained to a cell phone at all times, I was one of the last people on earth to get a “smart phone,” and probably the very, very last person on earth to text (I still do not like texting. I find it to be yet another handy way to avoid human interaction.)

Although, as my son pointed out, I did “tweet,” long before others (including my son) “twittered,” and blogged, low 7+ years now, when people, in general, thought blogging to be a weird and unnatural thing.  So I have actually been on some planets on the early, rather than almost late/last side of the equation.

And Instagram, who knew, not moi. (You have to have a smart phone, or a tablet, or something to Instagram, so, of course I was wildly late-ish to the Instagram planet.)  And along with reading David Sedaris, Instagram, at least for the moment, has become one of my favorite occupations (this is a vast understatement).

And I am so new to the Instagram planet, that it is instantaneously instant, so it may fade after a time. But for this time, I am most definitely “hooked.”

My at the moment, obsessive Instagraming can be found here.

(I am hoping that this is a nice change of pace from the subject of plastic bags — see a lot of earlier posts.)

A Fun Way to Recycle Plastic Bags

Recycle_BagRecycle_BagLook, not only do I get that plastic bags are detrimental to our wetland and coastal areas, I agree with it.  However, instead of an outright ban, I’d like a reasonable and practical effort to minimize the use of single use plastic bags.  And I understand that Market Basket has been unresponsive to this issue (and the single use plastic bag industry must be as well, since their “recycle and reuse” logo is so tiny, you can hardly see it), and I hope that the proposed ban forces Market Basket to have a meaningful dialogue with the city council and residents about how to solve this issue.

And this is what I don’t understand.  First of all, it would be a giant PR move for both the single use plastic bag industry and the supermarket industry if they put big, huge colorful “reduce, recycle, reuse” logos on their plastic bags, with where to recycle them (i.e. at Market Basket or Shaws) in big bold letters, instead of in fine print at the bottom.  Both industries would be heroes instead of goats. Seems like a pretty good idea to me. If both those businesses/industries did that, we might not be having this local fight over plastic bags, that we are having now, and they would help the environment all over the place. This would be a good thing.

recycle-machine copy

Fun slurping recycling machine

The other thing is, that if I was an inventor, or if I was the plastic bag industry, I’d find me an inventor, to have a fun way to recycle the plastic bags once they got to the supermarket.  If I was an inventor, I’d invent a machine that slurped the plastic bags in one at a time and gave a penny for each plastic bag, or a penny for 5 plastic bags (whatever is economical and fair).  First of all, little kids (or even grown-ups) would be mesmerized by a machine that slurped plastic bags.

And when you could first get money for returning cans, people were scouring all over the place, cities, suburbs, to find cans to make some extra money.  If you had a fun machine that slurped plastic bags AND got a little dough in the process, I bet the same thing would happen, and I bet you would have a whole lot less single use plastic bags wandering around our environment, and I bet they’d be reduced in a major, major way, pretty quick.  It would be a huge PR win for the plastic bag industry, and they wouldn’t be so vilified and it would be fun to boot. And it would be a good thing for the plastic bag industry to work with environmentalists  to help solve problems for a win-win solution.

Two Things I learned during Newburyport’s 2013 Election — And it’s not what you Think

I am a local political junkie. I just can’t help myself. And on the evening of the mayoral primary 0f 2013, I went down to Newburyport City Hall to hear the results.

I love going down to City Hall to hear the whatever election results. There is an excitement and buzz, and no matter what candidate or candidates one might be routing for, there is usually some kidding around and a sense of comraderie. It takes a lot of guts to run for any city office, and admiration for the folks who actually do run for office is palpable.

And then our wonderful City Clerk, Richard Jones, comes out, looking distinguished and dapper in his bow tie. And with a twinkly in his eye and some gravitas, he reads the election results, city ward by city ward (Newburyport has 6 wards), and everyone is scrambling to type the results into their laptops.

(And as a btw Richard Jones is one fantastic artist!! Really. What he is doing in Newburyport City Hall, except bringing a countenance of dignity and calm, beats me. And if you want to see his work, Richard Jones’s new painting hangs proudly in the lobby of Newburyport’s bank, The Institution for Savings, in its home bank branch on State Street. And you can go there and look at it it. I do. Richard Jones’s website can be found here.)

That evening, for the mayoral primary, the chit chat was that the vote was going to be split roughly in thirds, and it was just a matter of which two candidates had some more votes (which btw that is how it “fell.”). And while I was chit chatting with a fellow political junkie they said, “Dick Sullivan has his “peeps.” (Dick Sullivan came in second in the primary.) And I said to myself “peeps??” “Peeps” sounds like ghetto speak. My fellow political junkie is about my age, and I’m no “hip,” sprightly, spring chicken. “Peeps?” I must be really out of it. A new word — “peeps,” which I could never imagine myself effectively executing. “Peeps?”

And during the election cycle I was going to meet with one of the new candidates running for Newburyport City Council. Coffee and chit chat that day didn’t come about, and in apologizing for the miscommunication, the candidate used the phrase “my bad.” “My bad??” I’m thinking, “homies,” “rappers,” and urban ghetto speak?? “My bad??” Am I ever out of it. (I might be able to say, “my bad” one day — perhaps, but I’m not sure I could pull off “peeps.”)

So during the 2013 election I learned two new words/phrases, “peeps” and “my bad,” which might bring me further into the 21st Century, possibly. An etymology lesson during the Newburyport election of 2013, who knew??

Our Neighbors, Stella Mae Culpepper and On Linden Square

On Linden Square by Kate Sullivan, used with permission (press image to enlarge)

On Linden Square by Kate Sullivan, used with permission (press image to enlarge)

After a long, hard, often nasty Newburyport election 2013,  I found this book On Linden Square by Kate Sullivan (and, yes, it’s a children’s book) to be mighty refreshing.

Stella Mae Culpepper is the heroine of this tale, and she has watched her neighbors, but she has never spoken to any of them, and they have never spoken to her (sounds so New England familiar to me). Along comes a New England blizzard, and all that changes (and in the best of cases, is also so New England familiar to me).  And it looks like from the drawings in the book, that Stella lives in an historic city, not Newburyport, but a lot of bricks and stuff and New England homes (and of course I like that a lot).

And the author of On Linden Square, Kate Sullivan, has a wonderful project, the “Who’s Your Neighbor” Project, the “Write to Stella” project, or in my mind, “the neighbors and folks in Newburyport that I am so grateful for” project.

Instead of all the awful things about people, that seemed to come to the surface this election, to think about all the good things about neighbors and the folks around us, and write to Stella about one or more of them. Also anyone could have their child, children’s friends, grandchildren, students, nieces, nephews, neighborhood children write to Stella as well. And in return, Stella will send you, or whoever writes to Stella, a note back, and a postcard signed by of of Stella’s neighbors in the book, On Linden Square, your, or your child’s, grandchild’s, niece’s or nephew’s very own piece of artwork.  And your note to Stella, and a picture of your neighbor, if you draw one, or your child, niece, nephew, grandchild draws one, might also be featured on the book’s website, which is pretty cool.

Stella Mae Culpepper, used with permission (press image to enlarge)

Stella Mae Culpepper, used with permission, © Kate Sullivan 2013 (press image to enlarge)

So I’ve written to Stella about three of my neighbors (really and truly). I sent my notes by email, you or whoever could also send it by snail mail or through the book’s Facebook page.  And I and my neighbors can’t wait to see what we get back. And writing about what my wonderful neighbors do for me, our neighborhood and our city, a great feeling, let me tell you, especially after what often felt like a slimy, unpleasant, noxious, never ending Newburyport election.

You can see the “Write to Stella” about a neighbor project here.

You can see all about the book On Linden Square, by Kate Sullivan here.

And you can see Stella and On Linden Square’s Facebook page here.

PS. Kate Sullivan lives in Newburyport, and I’ve never met her (sort of like what happens in the book). And maybe a snow storm, or some other New England event might change that. And the only thing that I know, at this point, about Kate Sullivan is what I’ve read from her bio. The fact that her last name is “Sullivan” could be coincidence, or maybe just wildly ironic.

Here are the drawings of my neighbors that I got back from Stella!!

My neighbors on the Brown School Playground

My neighbors at the Brown School Playground

My neighbor helping me with my driveway in a blizzard.

My neighbor helping me with my driveway in a blizzard

And here is a drawing of Stella Mae Culpepper getting her hair cut by Newburyport’s very own Esther Sayer at Inn Street Barber.

Stella gets a haircut at Newburyport's Inn Street Barber

Stella gets a haircut at Newburyport's Inn Street Barber

Both Jabberwocky Books at the Tannery and The Book Rack on State Street in downtown Newburyport, sell On Linden Square.

Gluten Free Power Bar with Almond Meal

Really fast, unbelievably easy to make, gluten free power bar and variations.

1 1/2 T  sugar
1 T  water
1/4 t  vanilla
2 T  peanut butter
2 pinches of salt
Shake of cinnamon and nutmeg (or pumpkin spice),optional.

Microwaved in a bowl for 30 seconds until sugar and water and vanilla dissolve, stir mixture until blended.

1/3 Cup almond meal (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
3 T Mini Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Morsels

Stir in almond meal until a paste, while warm stir in mini chocolate morsels.
Form into bars on parchment paper and refrigerate until hard. Can be 3 small bars, 2 medium bars or 1 large bar.

Wrap bars in Saran Wrap and refrigerate (can also freeze).

All sorts of variations are possible. Use less almond meal and add chopped nuts, dried fruit, coconut.  Could also substitute peanut butter with almond butter or other nut butters.

Plagiarism – Photoshop Take Off

Photoshop Flight

Photoshop Flight

I never, ever would have considered using other people’s images that are in the public domain in my art work, it would be plagiarism for me.  Plagiarism – I would have felt it to be “immoral,” “originality” the only acceptable device. But blogging, doing content for people’s websites, the World Wide Web has radically and slowly changed my whole idea of how to use images. Before starting the Newburyport Blog I never knew about stuff/images that are in the “public domain.”  I now bless the public domain, it makes what I do here and what other people do all across the web a whole lot more interesting. So why not use images that are in the public domain in my own art work? These are images I could never take, either because they are in a geographical location that I would never get to, or with equipment I would never buy.

Photoshop Bird 3 (thanks Bobby)

Photoshop Bird 3 (thanks Bobby)

And photoshop (see earlier entry on fine art, painting in particular, going the way of the buggy whip and typewriter), what one can do in photoshop in a few minutes would take me years to do as a painter. It’s irresistible. So I’ve started experimenting. And how fun!! Like being in a candy store for this artist.  A photoshop take off, a lovely New Year’s present for moi.

Chocolate Chip Almond Meal-Flour Cookies (They are Gluten Free)

Because so many folks come to The Newburyport Blog looking for gluten free stuff.

Chocolate Chip Almond Meal-Flour Cookies

1 ¼ cups blanched almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
Dash of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg
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
1 ½ teaspoons gluten free vanilla extract
¼  cup Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Mini Morsels (the real tiny ones)

1. Combine almond meal, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl.
2. Stir together sugar and water, add vanilla and then the oil and combine.
3. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
4. Add the Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Mini Morsels.
5. Form ½ inch balls and press onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
6. Bake at 350° for 5-6 minutes.
7. Cool and serve (you can also freeze the cookies in a container, separating the layers of cookies with wax paper).
8. Makes around 27 cookies.

* If you use the larger Toll House Semi-Sweet Morsels, you can mix in the ¼ cup chocolate chips with the cookie dough, or you can press the cookies flat on the cookie sheet first, and then add the chocolate chips on top, about 3-4 chips per cookie, and press them into the cookies. (They are great too!!)

(Adapted from Elana’s Pantry, elanaspantry.com, Elana Amsterdam, website and cookbook)

For more variations on almond meal-flour cookies please press here.

almondmeal-chocolatechip-cookies

Almond meal-flour chocolate chip cookies with mini chocolate chips

Almond meal-flour chocolate chip cookies with larger chocolate chips

Almond meal-flour chocolate chip cookies with larger chocolate chips

An Insanely Good Gluten Free Peanut Butter and Chocolate Snack

tollhouse

Toll House Chocolate Chips

When I first found out about the gluten free thing, I couldn’t figure out what in the world snack-wise was available, I was told to eat spoonfuls of peanut butter.  After about a year and a half of eating peanut butter by the spoonful, I never wanted to see a spoonful of peanut butter ever again!

One of the things that could happen with this gluten free thing is that good old lactose is out the window (and that includes chocolate, it’s a real “Oy Veh.”), but the lactose thing is supposedly suppose to eventually resolve itself. Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Semi Sweet Morsels, not edible 6 months ago for moi, but yesterday, no problemo!!  A super duper “Eureka!” moment.

skippy-peanut-buttee

Skippy Peanut Butter

And a spoonful of peanut butter covered with Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Semi Sweet Morsels, a snack worth going to heaven over.  Better than any Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.  A lickety-split, quick snack that sticks to the ribs and is portable, a wonderful thing for the gluten free.

Gluten Free Brazilian Cheese Balls-Bread with Tapioca Flour (also Lactose Free)

Bob's Red Mill Tapioca Flour (press image to enlarge)

Bob's Red Mill Tapioca Flour (press image to enlarge)

I’ve been trying to figure out this recipe for a year and a half and have finally come up with a recipe that works (this is not the traditional Brazilian Cheese Bread recipe, that boils the milk and oil first).

One of the crucial things that I found out, is that there are 2 kinds of tapioca flour, fermented tapioca flour that rises (not sold at this point in the United States) and regular tapioca flour that does not rise (the tapioca flour that is sold in the United States).  So having figured that one out, the trick is to use gluten free baking powder to get this delicious cheese bread-balls-tiny loafs to rise.

Traditionally Brazilian Cheese Bread/Balls are round, for some reason I like mine looking like little loafs, so that’s what I’ve pictured here.

Brazilian Cheese Bread-tiny loaf (press image to enlarge)

Brazilian Cheese Bread-tiny loaf (press image to enlarge)

Brazilian Cheese Balls/Bread are traditionally chewy on the inside, this version is much more like regular bread – a eureka moment.

And this version is lactose free.  The cheese, mozzarella and parmesan are lactose free and I use lactose free milk.  You can use regular milk.

Tapioca flour has the consistency of cornstarch, and after a certain point, it’s impossible to mix by hand.  So what I’ve done is added enough tapioca flour to be able to mix, and then knead the dough with extra tapioca flour.

Recipe below:

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

2 eggs

1 Cup milk (I use 1%)

1 1/2 t salt

2 t gluten-free baking powder

2/3 cup canola oil

3 cups tapioca flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)

Extra tapioca flour for kneading the dough

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Dough ready for the oven (press image to enlarge)

Dough ready for the oven (press image to enlarge)

Mix cheese, salt, baking powder, then add eggs using a fork until the eggs are mixed into the chess, salt and baking powder mixture. Stir in milk and then add the oil, and you can still use a fork.  Add tapioca flour, mix with a spatula.

Put in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes, to let the dough bubble (it bubbles!!) and to set.  The longer it sits, the firmer it will be. There will be a little oil on the top, don’t worry, it will be kneaded into the dough.

In a large bowl (you could do it on the counter, but the flour is so fine it gets everywhere, hence the recommendation for a bowl) put about 1/4 of a cup or so of tapioca flour (see photo).

Brazilian Cheese Bread cooling (press image to enlarge)

Brazilian Cheese Bread baked (press image to enlarge)

Take a third of the mixture, with part of any of the oil that is on top,  and put the dough in the bowl with a spatula and coat it with the tapioca flour (see photo).

Take square of  parchment paper and put the dough on the parchment paper and knead it. (Again, you could knead the dough on your kitchen counter, but this just makes it a whole lot easier to clean up.) Add more flour if needed (no pun intended), and knead it into the dough, until it is firm (see photo).  It will be greasy, don’t worry, it’s one of the things that makes it taste good.

The inside of the Brazilian Cheese Bread (press image to enlarge)

The inside of the Brazilian Cheese Bread (press image to enlarge)

Take enough flour to make about an inch and a half ball of dough. Roll the dough in your hands and then roll into a tube shape about 2 inches (see photo). A third of the dough makes about 15 little “loaves.”

Cover a cookie sheet (roughly 15″ x 10″) with parchment paper. Put the little loaves on the parchment paper (see photo) and put the cookie sheet into the 350 degree oven. Then take a look in about 15 minutes (it should take a total of  20 to 25 minutes, oven temperatures vary).

At 15 minutes the little loaves should be rising. Watch carefully for the next 10 minutes.  Often the loaves at the end of the cookie sheet will brown before the inside loaves.  Take out the loaves as they become golden and place on a piece of parchment paper to cool. You want the loaves golden (see photo) but not too brown.

Tiny loaves in container ready to freeze (press image to enlarge)

Tiny loaves in container ready to freeze (press image to enlarge)

Let loaves completely cool and then place in a container (see photo).  Place open container in refrigerator to cool some more.  When the loaves are cold, put the lid on the container and freeze.

To eat (if you haven’t eaten them all right then and there) you can defrost them in a microwave.

The loaves have bubbles, holes, just like real bread, and people that I have served them to just can’t stop eating them!! So they are great for folks who aren’t gluten free at all.

Makes 45 – 50 small “loaves.”

Another breakthrough gluten free eureka moment for moi, and hopefully for you too.

(To see why in the world The Newburyport Blog has a recipe for Gluten Free Brazilian Cheese Bread-Balls-Tiny Loaves, please press here.)

Tapioca flour in bowl (press image to enlarge)

Tapioca flour in bowl (press image to enlarge)

Dough in flour in bowl (press image to enlarge)

Dough in flour in bowl (press image to enlarge)

Flour kneaded (press image to enlarge)

Flour kneaded (press image to enlarge)

Newburyport Postcard, Plum Island Haystacks

Newburyport postcard, Plum Island Haystack, press image to enlarge.

Newburyport postcard, Plum Island Haystack, press image to enlarge.

It’s fall in Newburyport, and there are still farmers who in the marshes around  Newburyport and Newbury will create the iconic haystacks.  I know the readers of the Newburyport Blog enjoy old Newburyport postcards, and this one of the Newburyport marsh scene with the haystacks is so wonderful.

Walking with Dogs in the Greater Newburyport Area

First it was learning about the Happy Chickens blog, and now learning about a blog about dogs – “Walking with Dogs in Greater Newburyport, (off leash experiences in the Newburyport area),” by Kim Kudym.  Kim’s blog is an an exploration of the area’s gorgeous places that can be shared with a canine friend. How fun!

Indian Hill Reservoir in West Newbury, courtesy of Kim Kudym

Indian Hill Reservoir in West Newbury, courtesy of Kim Kudym, press image to enlarge

And how fun not only for dog owners, but anyone who would like to explore the area, with dogs, children, family, friends or just on your own.  Very cool!

Woodsom Farm in Amesbury, courtesy of Kim Kudym

Woodsom Farm in Amesbury, courtesy of Kim Kudym, press image to enlarge

Kim has started to post photos of outings in various places. Woodsom Farm in Amesbury, and Indian Hill Reservoir in West Newbury – and they just want to make you go out there and start exploring!!  There are also many Newburyport favorites including Cooper North Pasture and the Little River Nature Trail Newburyport, to name a few.

Woodsom Farm in Amesbury, courtesy of Kim Kudym

Woodsom Farm in Amesbury, courtesy of Kim Kudym, press image to enlarge

A great addition to the Newburyport blogosphere!!  Thanks Kim!!

The Best, Safest, Gluten Free Takeout Food in Newburyport

Boiled Lobsters

Boiled Lobsters

The best, safest, gluten free takeout food in Newburyport is from David’s Fish Market over the bridge in Salisbury (one of the best seafood markets ever).

David’s Fish Market has been a family owned and operated business for over 50 years.  It was started by Arthur David and is now run by his grandson Gordon Blaney.

David’s will boil you a lobster or lobsters, and it doesn’t get any fresher or any better.  The lobsters can be hot or cold.  Just give them a 2 hour notice (and remember to pay by cash or check, no credit or debit cards).

My favorite is cold lobster, one of my mother’s most loved meals, served with gluten free Hellmann’s mayonnaise and a little lemon, or a really good sauce/dip I recently came up with.

Sauce/dip for cold lobster:

Cook frozen chopped spinach, which is wicked healthy (microwave works great), drain and remove as much moister as possible (I use paper towels).

For one serving: 2 Tablespoons of cooked chopped spinach and mix with 2 Tablespoons of Hellmann’s mayonnaise, which is gluten free.  A few drops of gluten free Tamari Sauce (possible alternatives to Tamari sauce – soy sauce or worcestershire sauce).  That’s it, for some reason this combo is amazing.

And going to David’s is fun. You get to go over the Merrimack River on Rt 1 and it’s an old time fish market where you can see the fresh fish coming in and being prepared in back, like being filleted kind of prepared. You know it’s fresh. And if you live in Newburyport and the surrounding area, or are coming to visit, it’s a place not to be missed.

When I first moved here 30 some years ago, there used to be at least 3 independent local fish markets, David’s is the last one standing, and it’s awesome.

Worth Watching

This is worth watching, really.  A friend of mine sometimes says to me that what I need to do is, “get some gratitude in my attitude,” when I have what I sometimes call “that little itty bitty shitty committee” in my head.

That’s sort of what this is like (and I usually hate things like this), but actually, really and truly, it’s scientifically proven, you betcha, really.

I “discovered” this fellow, Shawn Achor, and “The Happiness Advantage”, while channel surfing on PBS last night. And it sounds like PBS will feature it lots more.

So I tried some of the recommendation today and came up with 3 things that I was grateful for, (not hard), smiled at least three times (not hard), and was nice to the Blue Cross Blue Shield person on the phone, and the person at the bank.

I figure in this wild partisan world if I smiled at people on my walk (this is just NOT done where I come from, New York City, and New England, well, we’re not on the whole, exactly too warm and fuzzy), maybe this guy might be right, maybe it could have a ripple effect.

Worth watching – the 12 minute version.

happinessadvntage

Press image to start

The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor (Press image to start).

Gluten Free BLT – Bacon Bowls – No Bread

Bacon Bowl - Megan Reardon, of "not martha"

Bacon Bowl, courtesy of Megan Reardon, of "not martha"

In my web-searching for nothing in particular, I came across this “thing,” this amazing “thing” that I’ve never heard about before.  And for folks who are looking for gluten free stuff (or just anyone), well how cool is this, a BTL bowl, a bacon bowl, a BLT without bread!!

I encountered this amazing “thing,” bacon bowl on a blog called “not martha.”  And from what I can make out the idea has zipped around, (I am late to the bacon bowl world, but I bet lots of other folks may be late to the bacon bowl world too!), but it looks like, from what I can make out, it all started with Megan Reardon, or “not martha,” (not Martha Stewart??).

This is not my photo, it belongs to, and is courtesy of Megan Reardon, who lives in Seattle, and writes “not martha.”  To learn how to make these amazing bacon bowl wonders press here.

George is Grinning and Orren Fox

George

George

George is grinning, huge wide smile, and those of you who have been readers of the Newburyport Blog for any length of time know that George is usually a glum sort of fellow, even with his passionate romance to Georgiana Tadpole (if you really would like to know about any of this frog stuff please press here).

Instead of telling the readers of the Newburyport Blog what is making George smile so hugely right off the bat (although he’s not smiling in the picture, I couldn’t get one of him smiling), I’m going to start at the beginning.

Way, way back (“in the day,” I’m not sure if it’s that far back) in 1990 I painted a whole bunch of paintings for a major New York show, oil on panel, and the panels warped (I used the wrong kind of panel – never did it again).  Panic city, you betcha.  I went to what was then Wendover Woodworks on Liberty Street in Newburyport, and one of the owners, Andy Willemsem saved my sorry soul by making some absolutely gorgeous frames that solved the warping problem and saved yours truly.  It was then I met Andy’s partner in this wonder furniture creating place, Henry Fox.

About 15 years ago, wandering around my Newburyport neighborhood, I ran into Henry Fox, who told me the harrowing tale of his son, born 3 months early with a host of medical problems who had been saved by the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at MassGeneral in Boston, and had just been moved to one of the more local hospitals.  I later shared this story with other families who had critically ill new borns, including my most wonderful neighbors, who found themselves and their newborn son also at MassGeneral. (The young man is now happily running around our neighborhood.)

Andy Willemsen moved on and Henry Fox named his wonderful furniture business after his two sons, “Fox Brothers.” (Still there on Liberty Street in Newburyport, still amazing.)

Fast forward to 2012, yesterday, a “new” or “new” to me, George and I being 5 years late to the story (not quite as bad as my late arrival to the David Sedaris planet, see earlier post, but not so good)  local Newburyport blog called “Happy Chickens Lay Healthy Eggs,” by a fifteen year old young man called Orren Fox.

I’m thinking Fox?? Fox?? Henry Fox?? The timing’s right.

And sure enough this blog is written by Henry’s son Orren, the one in intensive care 15 years ago.  How cool is that, but it gets so much better.

Scrolling down the blog’s sidebar the young man has been interviewed/written up by the Huffington Post, NPR, Yankee Magazine, the Boston Globe to name a few, and has been to the White House, March 7, 2012,  for “Know Your Farmer Event.”

I’m beginning to join George in grinning from ear to ear about this young chicken farmer and organic food activist.

“Margaret Mead would have loved Orren.  A soulful and gifted young man who has done more to help make a positive impact by 15 than most folks do in a lifetime.” From Do Lectures.

And Orren has added bees, in “Bee Happy” – check it out here.

AND Orren has serendipitly gone into business with his brother Will (with a little help from Dad) making “FoxBoys” longboards, skateboards in the most glorious shape, a little like a boat, read and see all about them here.

And Orren Fox is so media savvy as to make grown “social media” folks weep – along with the Happy Chickens blog there are the Facebook pages that one actually enjoys looking at and reading, and twitter accounts.  But it may be in the blood because his Mom, who gave birth to him all those many 15 years ago, is Libby Delana, the founding partner of Newburyport’s Mechanica, the next generation branding firm.

So if you are discouraged by the news or local or federal politics, life in general, go investigate Orren Fox, a young man who transcends the sustainable movement.  It doesn’t matter if you are dark “green,” light “green,” in-between or orange; right wing, left wing, moderate or independent.  When you read about this fantastic story, you like George, will be grinning from ear to ear and doing a dance in the end zone of your choice.

Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD) as a Musical

I’m liking this whole Newburyport Local Historic District (LHD) mess as a musical (see previous post).

It could open with a Tom Salemi, one of Newburyport’s esteemed bloggers, character singing a solo, “Keep it Classy” (based on Tom’s great essay, “Take the Bagels, Leave the Petition,”on Newburyport’s LHD in Newburyport Today).

The stage is dark except for Tom’s character,  and then in the background, lights come up come slowly, we have two ladies in front of an establishment handing out fliers.  Their musical number is called “Fines, Fines, the LHD will Bankrupt You.”

And huddled at the front of the stage are preservationists (Newburyport preservationists tend in general to be meek and mild, “fierce” is not an adjective I would give to most Newburyport preservationist. “Fierce” goes good with some of the the anti-LHD folks, but not most preservationists, so that’s why they are huddling).  Lights come up slowly on them, and their musical number is, “It’s not True, It’s not True, It’s a Lie.” (Clearly this will be an ensemble piece.)

So Tom’s character is singing “Keep it Classy,”  while the two anti LHD women are singing “The LHD will Bankrupt You”, and the Newburyport preservationist are singing “It’s not True, It’s a Lie.”  And then everyone freezes, you know the way they do on stage.

Mark Twain

Mark Twain

And what I’m picturing here is having someone dressed as Mark Twain, maybe with a sign hanging across their chest so the audience will get it, walks on stage, spot light on him, everyone else is dimmed out.  Doesn’t sing, just looks at the audience and says, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

The Mark Twain character walks off, and the Tom Salemi character sings one last  line of “Keep it Classy?” with a question mark in his voice, and then the lights fade out on all the characters. (Irony here, how elitist!!)

First possible scene of the new possible Broadway hit, “LHD-Bombshell,” (still a working title-the “Smash” thing again, see previous post).

Spring in Newburyport’s South End

Spring in Newburyport's South End

Spring in Newburyport's South End

I love walking through Newburyport’s South End. And spring is my favorite time of year in this gorgeous city.

Spring in Newburyport's South End

Spring in Newburyport's South End

I wait every year for this particular tree to bloom in Newburyport’s South End.

Spring in Newburyport's South End

Spring in Newburyport's South End

So many treasures to find walking around this gorgeous city of Newburyport, MA.  I found this jewel on my walking tour this morning in Newburyport’s beautiful and charming South End.