Monthly Archives: August 2012

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).

4 Gluten Free Game Changers (That Changed my Gluten Free Life)

On September 4th of this year it will be 3 years since I’ve been on a mandatory Gluten Free diet.

There are 2 products that did not exist when I was first diagnosed, and thank you General Mills and Kellogg’s, your products are very much appreciated.  The other two products did exist.

I thought I would give those who come to the Newburyport Blog looking for help on Gluten Free (weirdly there are now 1000′s of people who land here – and as a btw, welcome to the Newburyport Blog) a heads-up on what has helped make a gluten free life much more normal and enjoyable, because Gluten Free can be such a maze to figure out.

Gluten Free Chex Cereal

chex-cerealGluten free Chex Cereal has been a total game changer. Before they first created mainstream gluten free cereal, I had come up with a Cream of Rice (tasty) concoction, but was so relieved to have a “normal” breakfast. The Chex Cereals are now being advertised on TV, and believe you me, every gluten free human being out there is mucho grateful. (My personal favorite is their Corn Chex.)

Almond Meal – Flour Cookies

bobsredmillThe almond meal cookie recipe that I came up with was one of the biggest game changers (1000′s and 1000′s of people come to the Newburyport Blog looking for almond meal cookies, and now weirdly, at the moment, it ranks high on Google for “almond meal cookies,” go figure).

Gluten Free processed snacks taste gross.  The almond meal-flour cookies are quick and easy to make, and they taste delicious and “normal,” as well as being really good for you.  I use Bob’s Red Mill, which can be found in Newburyport at Natural Grocer and Market Basket. The recipe can be found here.

Kellogg’s Gluten Free Rice Krispies

ricekrispiesOne would think that Rice Krispies would be gluten free, but they were not until recently.  Recently Kellogg’s has make a gluten free version (thank you Kellogg’s).

Put the gluten free Rice Krispies into a plastic bag and pulverized them with a rolling pin. The Rice Krispies are an amazing substitute for breadcrumbs, not easy to find if you are gluten free.

They make an incredible coating for things like chicken and fish, and are fantastic as a filler for things like  meatloaf and meatballs.  It rivals, and in some ways surpasses regular, normal, traditional breadcrumbs or crackers.  I don’t know what Kellogg’s does, but it’s a game changer.  A recipe for fish (which is also amazing with chicken) can be found here.

San-J Gluten Free Tamari Sauce

san-jRegular soy sauce has wheat in it (an awful lot of things do).  San-J makes a Gluten Free Tamari Sauce which is a lot like soy sauce and can be used in making Chinese and Japanese dishes, but its subtle flavor makes it even more versatile.  I use it in place of worcestershire sauce (which could be gluten free, and also contains other things that for some, may or may not be digestible) and it makes eating life, again, more normal and enjoyable.

San-J Gluten Free Tamari Sauce can be found at Natural Grocer and Market Basket in Newburyport.

Paul Ryan’s Plan, The Middle Class and Nursing Homes

Medicaid pays for 60 percent of people in nursing homes (and that includes people in Newburyport).

“..his (Paul Ryan’s) budget would impose immediate cuts to Medicaid, the health-care program for the poor that funds nursing-home care and other benefits for 6 million U.S. seniors.”  - Bloomberg Businessweek,  Brian Faller, August 14, 2012

“Among the victims someone’s grandparents who, without Medicaid, won’t be able to afford nursing home care…  Many are poor children. Some are middle-class families who have children with autism or Downs syndrome. Some are kids with disabilities so severe that they require 24-hour care. These are the people who count on Medicaid.”   The Wall Street Journal, Aug 17, 2012

So if your spouse, parents or  grandparents are in a nursing home, and their care is paid for by Medicaid, and Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney get elected, they plan on cutting Medicaid ASAP.  And what happens to Middle Class families? It would look as if they would be faced with the draconian choice of letting their loved one not be cared for, or quitting a job to provide full-time care.  What does that do to the finances of the Middle Class, it would throw them into chaos, which is what one of the things that Medicaid (and as a btw… under President Reagan, Medicaid legislation was passed so that spouses would not go bankrupted - Reagan’s spousal safety net) is meant to prevent, here in Newburyport, locally, and all across America.

Preservation is in the Business of Saving Communities

Preservation is in the business of saving communites

Preservation is in the business of saving communities

Newburyport preservation quotes:

“There may have been a time when preservation was about saving an old building here and there, but those days are gone. Preservation is in the business of saving communities and the values they embody.”

—Richard Moe, National Trust for Historic Preservation

Newburyport and the Ideological Right – They Deliver

Maybe my hyperventilating over Governor Romney’s running mate (see previous post), Tea Party darling, Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh endorsed, Paul Ryan, has something to do with my first-hand local experience with the “slash and burn,” “take no prisoners,” “malign all opposed” politics of the folks who do not want to preserve Newburyport’s historic assets, the proposed Local Historic District (LHD), led by a member of Newburyport’s very own Tea Party, and I gather fan of the John Birch Society.

On my walk around Newburyport this weekend, I ran into a friend who wanted to know what I thought of the article in the Boston Globe about the progress of Newburyport’s Local Historic District’s (LHD), and the LHD’s slow winding path getting to the Newburyport City Council.  And in the course of our conversation, I said something to the effect that, “People wonder why, at this point, I’m not doing more.” The response was, “Well, you got the shit kicked out of your, everyone knows that.”  For which the person got a hug.

Fox News Opinion on the web has a piece called, “America’s coming civil war – makers vs takers,” predictably the wealthy, the makers, pitted against everyone from seniors, to folks who need help with student loans to go to college.

Our local “Say No to LHD” folks definitely feel like that same strident, militant mindset… heck, it is that same militant mindset.  The LHD, in their minds, equals “social engineering,” yes, this is true (I hate to even link to the actual factual proof, because it gives the John Birch Society such pleasure. How do I know that, because that particular post went viral, via the John Birch Society’s Facebook page – I wish I was kidding).

Yes, and anonymous townies, threatened by “newcomers,” joined in the fray (and townies who no longer live here, or live/visit here periodically).  But it is our own John Birch tea party folks who are still willing, if not proud, to give their names to the cause of stridently and militantly destroying Newburyport’s hope of having a Local Historic District.  (They also, as I understand it, complain loudly to their city councilors, the mayor, the press, when a pro-LHD human being loses it, the person in question, I believe, has been identified.)

Do I have first hand experience with the hatred of the ideological Right?  Yes.  Do I know that they will deliver on their promise?  Yes.  Does that make me worry about Governor Romney’s pick for Vice President, that it isn’t all fluffy talk, that delivery of this far right ideology is very real?  Yes, you betcha.

Hyperventilating

Ever since Governor Romney announced his VP pick, (late Friday night during the Olympics??) Paul Ryan, I’ve been hyperventilating.  Really (unfortunately).

The issue, Medicare.  If Romney/Ryan squeak by in November, I’d squeak by under their Medicare radar before it turns into a voucher payment plan, but I’m still hyperventilating. Why?  I’ve paid my own health care cost as an artist from way back in the dark ages (“in the day,” maybe not quite that long), and to say I don’t trust the healthcare private insurance folks to do anything but look after their bottom line, without state and federal regulation, would be a vast, vast understatement.

(In 1990, I paid $340 a month for my son and myself, for GREAT health insurance. Today, here in Massachusetts, that kind of health insurance that we had, doesn’t exist for any price (that I know of). Something similar, but not really, would go for $2,165 (a month). For a family $3,545 (a month).  In New York State for a parent and child, a similar, but not really, insurance exists for $3,176 (a month). For a family, it’s a whopping $5,294.  How about those apples? And people think Massachusetts is bad!)

As an artist, I’ve been waiting for the day when I am relieved of the onerous burden of crazy individual $1,000 a month and rising health insurance premiums (and that’s cheap compared to a state like New York State, demonstration above), and having an offspring that has fallen right next to the preverbial artistic tree, I’ve always wanted that for him and his family as well – some sort of safety net, you betch’a.

Private Health insurance industry to regulate itself, no, no, no – dream land.

Medicare vouchers to keep up with health insurance cost, please, dream on.

That’s my main hyperventilation.  But the other, Mitt Romney was an old fashion Republican moderate  in Massachusetts (I know, I know, you know).  But with Paul Ryan, darling of the hijacked Tea Party, as his running mate, has he sold his soul? or was he lying way back “in the day?”  Not good either way.  To have someone so ideologically extreme on the ticket, unsettling and telling.

“…the only way for Ryan’s numbers to work would be to effectively eliminate nearly all non-defense discretionary spending, including not just much of the social safety net but infrastructure spending, R. & D. investment, federal support for education, air-traffic control, regulatory and public safety spending, and so on (editor’s note, moi – let’s not forget NPR and The National Endowment for the Arts). This would be, needless to say, a radical remaking of the federal government.  …it would basically return the federal government to something like its nineteenth-century role—and early nineteenth-century at that.” The New Yorker,  August 12, 2012, “Paul Ryan’s Budget Games.”

“More than three-fifths of the cuts proposed by Mr. Ryan, and eagerly accepted by the Tea Party-driven House, come from programs for low-income Americans. That means billions of dollars lost for job training for the displaced, Pell grants for students and food stamps for the hungry. These cuts are so severe that the nation’s Catholic bishops raised their voices in protest at the shredding of the nation’s moral obligations.

Mr. Ryan’s budget “will hurt hungry children, poor families, vulnerable seniors and workers who cannot find employment,” the bishops wrote in an April letter to the House. “These cuts are unjustified and wrong.”

It (the federal government) will not be there when the unemployed need job training, or when a struggling student needs help to get into college. It will not be there when a miner needs more than a hardhat for protection, or when a city is unable to replace a crumbling bridge (editor’s note, moi – or sidewalk).

And it will be silent when the elderly cannot keep up with the costs of M.R.I.’s or prescription medicines, or when the poor and uninsured become increasingly sick through lack of preventive care.  New York Times, August 11, 2012, “Mr Ryan’s Cramped Vision.”

So I’m hyperventilating for my offspring and his family’s future, much less my old age, should I get to live that long, should this pair get elected in November.

“..the Ryan budget is a plan that forfeits the future and global leadership to China.” Steve Clemens, The Atlantic, August 13, 2012.

Newburyport, Demolition on High Street

182 High, courtesy of the City of Newburyport

182 High Street, courtesy of the City of Newburyport

The strange story of 182 High Street.

182 High Street has been lovingly restored by its present owner.  The property contains a beautiful 200+ year old carriage barn, which the owner wanted to restore in 2010.  The owner jumped  through many hoops, as anyone who has done such a thing knows – Zoning Board, Planning Board, Historical Commission,  and just a few feet short of the finishline, withdrew the application to continue the project.

Public record shows that the boards and commissions in the city were enthusiastic about the project.  Public records show that the Planning Board thanked the applicant and their team, noted the applicant’s sensitivity toward the historical nature of the property, the reduction of occupancy level and preservation of historical structures. (January 12, 2010).

In July of 2012, however, the owner chose to demolish the beautiful carriage barn at 182 High Street.  A one year demo delay was imposed.  Head scratching all around.

In January 2010 public record shows that the owner wanted to make every attempt to preserve and rehabilitate all the historical aspects of the carriage barn, and to ensure that it would be in keeping with the restoration that was being done on the Federal Period home.

To do what the homeowner desired from a zoning point of view, requires  something called “public benefit.”  The public benefit in 2010 was, without any question on anyone’s part, including the homeowner’s – historic preservation.

If the carriage barn at 182 High is indeed demolished and a new structure built in its place, the owner would still be required to show “public benefit,” as well as go through all the zoning and planning board hoops.  The attorney for the owner was able to say with a straight face, that the public benefit could be affordable housing.

More head scratching all around.  The stated goal in 2010 was to use the structure as a guest house for visiting family members.  Affordable housing would eliminate that possibility, and affordable housing on High Street?? like having affordable housing on Park Avenue. Happy neighbors?? one wonders.

One of the ironies here is that the significantly historical house in Newbury, the Tappan House, bought for 1.6 million dollars, was demolished for a swimming pool, but the barn was kept to be made into, yup, you got it, a guest house.

The historical write-up of the 1792 home at 182 High Street can be found on the city’s website here.

Home in Newburyport Under Pressure to be Demolished for Profit

284 Water Street, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport

284 Water Street, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport

“The property, built in 1810, is assessed at $810,700, according to city records. It is a Georgian-style residence with nine rooms (four bedrooms) and two fireplaces. Size of the house is 2,723 square feet, and the structure has unobstructed views of the inlet across Water Street. Several smaller buildings are also on the property…

Abutters at the commission meeting suggested that an owner could get that much or more if owners tore it down, and offered a clear lot to a buyer who might build a larger structure.

The application requests a permit for “demolition of a single-family home, garage, barn and shed…”

“Newburyport’s equivalent of the Tappan House tear-down in Newbury.” – a reference to a significant historic home in Newbury that was bought for 1.6 million dollars and demolished to build a pool (information about the former Tappan House can be read here).

The entire story in the Newburyport Daily News can be read here.

The photo of 284 Water Street is courtesy of the City of Newburyport, and the photo and historic write-up of the home can be read here.

Current photos of the property can be seen here.

And a YouTube video of 284 Water Street can be seen here.

Newburyport Under Pressure to Develop Real Estate for Profit

56 High Street, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport

56 High Street, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport

“Sure, we can still have homeowner’s rights and the proposed LHD provides for this. But more than ever before, the City of Newburyport is under pressure to develop real estate for profit, not just for its people and the quality of life. This city has become a destination specifically because of its historical support for preservation, not despite its history.”

Peter Erickson, Newburyport Daily News, Viewpoint can be read here

Peter Erickson is a former chair of the Newburyport Historic Commission and has lived on High Street for 24 years. Peter Erickson’s family home on High Street. Photo courtesy of the City of Newburyport which can be seen with the entire write-up about the property here (photo was taken in 1980).

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.