Category Archives: Fun

Fun in Newburyport, MA, enjoyable, amusing and entertaining events, images, happenings on the Newburyport Blog.

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 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.

Newburyport Postcards, Clam Shacks

Newburyport Postcard, Calm Diggers and their Shanties "Joppa"

Newburyport Postcard, Calm Diggers and their Shanties "Joppa," press image to enlarge.

I’ve been going on another fun hunt, finding Newburyport postcards that are in the public domain.  Here are two of the clam shacks, one of the clam shanties with a trolley, and one with the clam diggers and their shanties at “Joppa.”  Joppa is on the water in the South End of Newburyport.

Newburyport clam shanties with trolley, press image to enlarge.

Newburyport clam shanties with trolley, press image to enlarge.

Marsh During a Storm-A Martin Johnson Heade Painting

Salt Marsh Hay by Martin Johnson Heade

Salt Marsh Hay by Martin Johnson Heade

Martin Johns Heade, 1819-1904, Salt Marsh Hay, c.1865, Oil on Canvas, 13″ x 26″, Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio

The Newburyport Blog has been on a hunt for marsh paintings by Martin Johnson Heade, who painted the marshes around Newburyport. I love this painting of the marsh during a storm.

One of the remarkable things that we have all around our country is the small and art-rich museums. This particular painting comes from the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown Ohio.  And it’s not just an artist like Heade that is represented, but also painters like Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper.

Not all of us from New England can get to Youngstown, Ohio, but you can vistit the Butler Institute of American Art here.

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,, 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.)

Newburyport Planning, Things Take Time

There have been howls of protest about The Clipper City Rail Trail, or The Newburyport Rail Trail, as I remember it, for about a decade.

The Rail Trail from underneath the High Street over pass.

The Rail Trail from underneath the High Street over pass.

And what I have found is that it is difficult for people to imagine what a project of a large magnitude would be like, and why should anyone’s money be used for it?

The same applies to the renovation of Brown Square. Now that people see tall (unplanted) trees in the renovation area, what I am hearing is that people are wondering if the goal is to make Brown Square look like it did in the old photographs and postcard.

Brown Square, courtesy of the Newburyport Library

Brown Square, courtesy of the Newburyport Library

The answer is yes, yes and yes. And BTW I’m pretty sure it’s going to be beautiful and help our tourist economy no less.

Now that the first part of the Newburyport Rail Trail is finished, people appear to finally see it as a huge asset to Newburyport, MA, one which everyone in Newburyport can enjoy, and also a help in attracting the tourist dollar.

And I was so pleased to see Geordie Vining of the Newburyport Planning Office finally get some well deserved recognition in the full page spread in the Spring issue of Newburyport Magazine, for the unbelievable work that he has done concerning this first completion of the Newport Rail Trail.

Ever since working with Geordie Vining on the restoration of High Street, I have had the utmost respect and admiration for the gentleman. Geordie measured every stretch of sidewalk along the High Street corridor, and as a result has been able to convince all and sundry that High Street met the ADA sidewalk codes, and the nature of the street never had to be altered. This attention to detail is not only thoughtful, but huge.

Eventually, like one or two years ago, the High Street Master Plan was finally voted on by the Newburyport City Council.

Things take time. Things take lots and lots of time.

And I have always been grateful that Geordie has stuck with us (i.e. Newburyport), because I have witnessed first hand the kind of flack that he receives (and it can be really nasty).

So, I know Geordie Vining would never think this way, but for me the enthusiasm now being expressed about the Newburyport Rail Trail is a vindication of sorts for all his hard work. And it would be great if people would trust any project that might be in Mr. Vining’s hands, and realize that “things take time,” lots and lots of time, and Geordie Vining has the vision, knowledge, patience to see this sort of thing through.

We as a city are very luck to have him in the Newburyport Planning Office. (And it’s called “Planning” for a reason, planning takes time–years, very often decades.)

Newburyport Walking Winter 2009

I see my neighbor all the way down our Newburyport street. He has a day-glow orange winter hat on. I want one.

My neighbors, a lovely young family, have two dogs, which are technically “hunting dogs.” I never thought that they (the dogs and my neighbors) actually went hunting, but they do.

I find out this missing piece of information when I start my quiz about the nifty orange day-glow winter hat. (I have memories, which I share, of Marisa Tormei’s character in the movie “My Cousin Vinny,” when she laments about the cute little baby deer out prancing around, and then “BAM”), but no, they don’t hunt deer, just tiny little birds, sometimes. And no, they are not like Dick Cheney, they have never shot anyone in the face.

But the hat, I love the hat. During Newburyport winters, often the only safe place, or navigatable place, to walk when there is a lot of snow and ice, is in the middle of the street. And I tend to blend in with the surrounding, no red coats, at least not yet, for moi. And the bright day-glow orange hat would most definitely “stick out.”

I tell my neighbors that I too would like to look like a day-glow orange pumpkin head, and much to my delight, right before Christmas, they appear at my door, with a hat in hand.

On Christmas day, my son, who is now old enough to be beyond the “I am so embarrassed, you’ve got to be kidding me, you’re wearing a day-glow orange hat” phase, and I walk along the narrow car filled street of Newburyport’s historic district.

As a distracted holiday mother with a cell phone, and a busily driving teenager wiz by, my son nods his head in agreement. “Good idea Mom, I definitely get this one now.”

We pass some well known fellow walkers, who do not recognize me in my new day-glow paraphernalia. But when they are aware of who the mysterious person is, who is underneath the orange day-glow winter hat, they want one of those hats too.

So readers of the Newburyport Blog, who know me from my different walking routes, if you see a brightly colored, orange, day-glow pumpkin head moving along the street–c’est moi.

Art, Paintings, Newburyport Show


“Many locals know her only as the author of the Newburyport Political Blog. But the political junkie that is Mary Baker Eaton is also an accomplished artist whose work has appeared at prestigious New York City galleries and can be found in private and corporate collections across the country.

And, now, her readers ‑ and everyone else ‑ finally will be able to see her artwork up close, as Kerim Kaya, owner of Kaya Jewelers downtown, presents her paintings through Dec. 31.

The exhibit marks her first major local showing in 10 years, and the quirky Eaton, surrounded Monday morning by her exquisitely detailed paintings of Newburyport scenes, took every opportunity to promote her good friend, Kaya.

“This is a great way for two business people to get together,” she said, leaning against one of the jewelry display cases. “I help Kaya. Kaya helps me. Every time I tell someone about the show, I tell them, ‘You should come in and buy your significant other or yourself a nice piece of custom-made jewelry for Christmas…””

“…The paintings on display showcase Eaton’s love for the natural beauty of the community where she has lived for the past 30 years. A contemporary realist painter, she captures, with lifelike precision, the stillness of the Plum Island marshes, the petals of a bright yellow iris in the South End, apple blossoms clinging to a brick wall at the old gardens at Maudslay State Park and the Common Pasture, its vista unchanged by centuries.”

“Putting things in perspective,” by Ulrika G. Gerth, © The Newburyport Current, November 6, 2009

Blue Morning Glory, Oil on Panel, © Mary Baker

Blue Morning Glory, Oil on Panel, © Mary Baker

Kerim Kaya, a long time friend and owner of Kaya Jewelers, approached me about a month or so ago and asked if I would like to show my paintings in his gorgeous jewelry store, Kaya Jewelers, 41 State Street, on the corner of Essex Street. My response, especially in this economy that has hurt the arts so much was, “What a great idea!”

The show is up for all of November and December, and the reception is this Saturday, November 7, 2009 from 6 PM-9PM. Please stop by and say “Hello.” And do be sure to buy yourself or your significant-other a beautiful piece of jewelry for the holidays.

You can read the rest of the story in the Newburyport Current here.

The Newburyport Rail Trail

Entrance to Newburyport's Rail Trail--High Street

Entrance to Newburyport's Rail Trail--High Street

Sunday was one of those amazing, “this is why we live here,” kind of gorgeous, mild fall days. I had not checked on Newburyport’s Rail Trail for awhile, so I thought that I would go down to Market Street and see if I could walk down to the new bridge across Low Street, that was put in this past August.

The bridge over Low Street  headed toward the train station.

The bridge over Low Street headed toward the train station.

One of the questions that is often asked is, why is the city putting money towards a very expensive Rail Trail, when it could use the money for other things, in particular schools.

The answer to that, is that these kinds of projects have a completely different funding source, than, for example the Newburyport Schools do.

The Rail Trail from underneath the High Street over pass.

The Rail Trail from underneath the High Street over pass.

Route 1, which is right next to this part of the Rail Trail (one would never know it).

Route 1, which is right next to this part of the Rail Trail (one would never know it).

This is from the city’s website:

“Funding for the design of the Clipper City Rail Trail came primarily through grants from MHD (Massachusetts Highway Department) and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), as well as the Community Preservation Act (CPA). The City hired Stantec (formerly known as Vollmer Associates) to develop the design for the facility. The City also secured the commitment of $3 million in federal and state funding for construction of the trail as part of the regional Transportation Improvement Plan. The primary source of funding is the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program, which is designated specifically for projects that help reduce congestion and tailpipe emissions including by definition bicycle and pedestrian pathways. (This funding source cannot be used, for instance, for work on conventional roads or bridges, or schools and other general needs.) The reliance on federal funding requires that the MHD take charge of advertising, contracting, and managing the construction of the project once the design is completed. The City works closely with the MHD Resident Engineer to manage the contractor during the construction phase.”

From the Low Street bridge going up towards High Street.

From the Low Street bridge going up towards High Street.

These are some of the photos that I took. As you can see Newburyport’s Rail Trail is still under construction, but you can begin to get an idea just how remarkable an asset to the city that it will be.

Newburyport Sculpture and Art

peaceoffering_sculThe photo to the left is a sculpture by Michael Alfano, “Peace Offering,” that is currently in the Somerby’s Landing Sculpture Park in Newburyport, MA. If the ticket booth is moved by the Newburyport Waterfront Trust to the Somerby’s Landing Sculpture Park, this is location where it would go (we hope this does not happen).

This is the corner of the sculpture park where so many people come and sit, talk, wonder, gaze at the mighty Merrimac River, as well as watch their children play in the incredibly sculptural and climbable tree at that corner, which is pictured in the previous post.

To quote from the Sculpture Park’s website: “On exhibit for another year is a nearly six foot wide resin bench, “Peace Offering” by Michael Alfano that graces one corner of the park. The dove conveys the hope for peace, its tail transforms into a hawk, representing hostility. The dove’s wings become open hands, which might be ours, in an asking, a weighing, or an offering pose. Or they might belong to a larger force that welcomes two people to sit down and discuss their differences. This sculpture represents some of the many aspects of attaining peace. It is a expression of Michael’s Soka Gakkai Buddhist practice, with the intention of contributing to peace and culture.

Following this year’s extended stay at Somerby’s Landing Sculpture Park, “Peace Offering” will be purchased for installation on the Clipper City Rail Trail.”

(Just as a note–for those people complaining about the money that has been given to the Clipper City Rail Trail, instead of going to a myriad of other things that Newburyport desperately needs, grant money for the Clipper City Rail Trail for things like “art,” etc. comes from a completely separate gene pool than money allocated for the myriad of other needed stuff.)

I’d hate to think that moving the ticket booth to that reasonably “sacred” space would be anything than the slightest and most passing notion by the Newburyport Waterfront Trust, one that would pass as fast as a sea breeze whisking past Somerby’s Landing Sculpture Park in Newburyport, MA.

(The photo of the sculpture by Michael Alfano, “Peace Offering” is copyrighted by Artfluence, and is used with permission.)

Newburyport’s Farmers Market

Baker optimism. Baker resilience.

My father would say that long spring rains in May and June are great for the fish (trout), that as a result the summer scenery is lush. And, yes, he certainly would be correct in the summer of 2009. He might even look out the window, or step out the door, breath in deeply the sunlighted day, and say something like, “It’s a Perfect Day for Banana Fish,” quoting the title of a favorite short story by J. D. Salinger.

My mother might look at the sky and say that it, “is a Bluebird day,” and today on this mid July day of 2009, shemost certainly would be correct.

The wild thunderstorms of the early morning of this day in July 2009  sound to me like the thunderstorms of New England summers.Having checked the Weather Channel last night, I am prepared, I put my head under the covers and hope that “they” are right, that these thunderstorms would be followed by clearing come 10AM, and what would follow would be a quintessential New England Bluebird day.

At 11 AM I am startled that the morning has already “gotten away” from me. The sky is indeed clearing, just as predicted. I put my head out the door, and say to no one in particular, “It looks like it may be a great day for Banana Fish.”

And getting my key, I start what has become a wondered ritual, now all 4 weeks in a row. I walk down hill towards the mighty Merrimac River, towards Newburyport’s Tannery, to what is already beginning to feel iconic, the Farmer’s Market on Sundays from 10:00-2:00.

The people on the street that I meet have already been there and back. I wonder if the “pie guy” will still have a slice of homemade apple pie.

The place, like the last three weeks before, two in the rain, is teaming. There is only a short line in front of the “pie guy,” who now recognizes me, and yes, there is still a delicious slice of homemade apple pie to be had, that I know will make my day. I tell his young helper to wrap it tightly, because this delicious morsel is to go.

And I wander around Newburyport’s growingly iconic Farmers Market, admiring the folks with bags and baskets brimming with even more nutritious stuff than a homemade piece of apple pie–heads of lettuce, homegrown peas, beets. I cling to my apple pie as I watch Newburyport come together, young, old, middle aged, newcomers, old timers. There are no political power struggles going on to the naked eye,but a blending of the entire town in an organic way, over such things as local brownies and beets, in what is shaping up to be a Bluebird day and quite possibly a great day for Banana Fish.

Newburyport Stories

I open the present my son gives me for Christmas, a book. A skull with a cigarette on the front cover. My face obviously gives my skepticism away.

“No, Mom, really, he’s on the New York Times best seller list, I promise.”

I feel slightly better when I find out that the skull was painted by my favorite painter, Vincent Van Gogh. To say the least, I am still skeptical.

My son to reassure me, sits me down and reads the first short essay/story. It’s about germs. I’m still not won over.

But after all, this is my own beloved son, and I want to make at least some attempt to appreciate his thought out present to moi. So I plunk myself down in the comfiest chair I can find, and proceed to read the skull book. By the fourth essay/story, I am howling with laughter, and offer to read my son some of the stuff in his now much appreciated present. He declines.

The 8th essay/story is about a New York City woman, who could have been any number of characters that I’ve known so well. And I begin to wonder that maybe these stories have a lot less fiction in them than I first supposed.

And having struggled with, in what fashion to continue the Newburyport Blog, an idea begins to form. Stories, maybe fiction, maybe true, centered around my beloved New England seacoast city of Newburyport, MA, my stories, but hopefully somewhat universal as well as local.

What woman, Newburyport or elsewhere, hasn’t stood in front of the mirror and wondered about “midriff bulge.” Another version of, “Am I fat?”

What one of us, while considering the problem of “midriff bulge,” hasn’t also considered a personal financial fate in these lousy economic times.

Instead of “preaching” about historic preservation, and preserving the historic quality of this wonderful historic town, an experience of what it is like to live in an historic place, day after day, and how that adds to an unquantifiable quality of life.

Instead of talking about how upset I am about specific “restoration” and building projects, why not talk about historic preservation and boob jobs, hoping that people will start rating planning and historic preservation projects as a “double D boob job” as the worst, to a “braless wonder,” at their very best.

In December 2008 I find I am weary of pissing off my fellow Newburyport citizens, living under a constant risk of being sued or being threaten of being sued, and this appears to be a possible solution.

After trying to find every possible book by the skull guy, I finally Google him. And I find that, yes David Sedaris has not only been around for quite a long time, and I am very late to the David Sedaris planet, but also even that he has been on David Letterman a lot, no less, much less a visit to one of my favorites, Jon Stewart. From here on in, I vow to myself, I will trust my son’s taste in literature, even if the cover contains a picture of a skull.

Old Photos and Bippies

I’ve been working my bippies off. I’m not sure what bippies are, or how much or just how many are actually left, but I’m pretty sure I have a whole lot less of them.

It’s the website thing. I’m designing websites. And this is what I’ve concluded. Why in the world would someone have a website that, when they want it changed, every page need fixing, when there are these content management things, and when you want a “new look,” poof everything changes in a flash.

I decided that if I’m going to design websites, it would look pretty silly not to design my own website. Missy Chabot of Chabot Web Design, not only designed my website, way back when in the year 2004, but she also became a really good friend. So do I feel like a heel? Yup, I sure do. But if I don’t want a website designed by moi, than who else would possible want one? And besides, who better to practice on than myself.

What I discovered, I never really thought about this, is that I have 24 pages on my website. That’s a lot of pages, there’s no poof on that one. The Newburyport Blog, I see, now has more than 1000 pages. That’s really a whole lot of pages. And I say to myself, “Can you imagine changing 1000 pages one by one, when poof, 1000 pages can change like that?”

I’m working away on changing my website, I’m currently on page nine, there’s a ways to go.

The other thing that I’ve discovered is that I have “Safari,” and everything I design looks pretty good in Safari. But when I go and take a gander at whatever it is that I’ve designed, in Internet Explorer, it looks like crap. Plus all the IE versions look different. Things look different in IE5.5, in IE6, in IE7, I mean really different. I’m trying to make friends with IE, but sometimes I’m starting to think of IE as the enemy.

I have a “draft” of a website, that’s based on old photographs of Newburyport, MA, that are in the public domain, courtesy of the Archives at the Newburyport Public Library, here in Newburyport, MA. When Mary Baker Design goes live, folks can download the website with the old Newburyport photos for free. A sort of giving back to the community thing.

I don’t know if my friend /enemy IE is completely happy with the draft yet, the wrestling with IE providing me with a lot less bippies. But I’m willing to let folks take a peek at the upcoming free Old Photos website from the upcoming Mary Baker Design (currently in beta version).

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.

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.