Category Archives: Boston

She’s Baaaaaack

I have written several posts about perimenopause, and for an all too seeming brief amount of time, the symptoms seemed to subside. And then in late winter/early spring, “It hit!” to quote the Burl Ives snowman in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Google it, young ones.

Of course our winter went on and on, with single digit temps — I’m sure that didn’t have one thing to do with my state of  mind. Anyway, I was walking to work and the woman in front of me was wearing a dumb coat. This sort of thing had set me off before, so I must have some sort of coat trauma in my past. The previous time, the odd geometric pattern infuriated me. This time it was a zipper, in the middle of the back of her coat, running down the length. My first thought was, “What the hell do you need a zipper in the back for?” and my second thought was, “Oh, dear god, here we go again.” I refrained from running up to her and unzipping that useless zipper just to see what would happen. It’s really exhausting trying to prevent yourself from doing dumb crap your hormones think is a hoot.

So, there’s that to be thankful for. But the coat was just the beginning.

Within days, my chest felt like there was a furnace inside. I have to be reluctantly grateful here, and say nicely, “At least I don’t have full-on hot flashes.” But it’s also no picnic having a furnace in your chest — it’s hot but your arms are still chilly. Is there such a thing as a body-less long sleeve shirt? Or maybe I should buy a pair of long white evening gloves that go up to my shoulders, add a diamond bracelet and act like it’s completely normal thing to wear to work.

As I may have mentioned in the past, you should be thankful I am self-aware enough to not take you all down with me.

So, I’m already having issues, and Earth Day rolled around. To set the stage a bit, I grew up in the 70s and I have clear memories of coloring the ecology symbol on many purple-inked mimeographed handouts. I also remember the messages involved mostly not littering. I drew a lot of pristine landscapes with full trash cans, and I picked up a fair amount of litter myself as a kid. And let’s not forget the proud Indigenous man with a single tear rolling down his cheek because of highway litter. You could write an entire blog just unpacking that 30-second public service announcement. But as a kid, I was affected by it, and I wasn’t going make that man cry with my thoughtless littering.

When recycling became a thing in the Boston area in the early 90s, but a thing that was not yet picked up at your curb, I took bags of my recycling on a bus to the Department of Public Works. Bags of recycling. On a bus. To the scary DPW yard that featured coverall clad men who don’t talk, mountains of trash, and big, smelly trucks. OK, that’s my “I walked 10 miles in the snow uphill both ways” story.

Then it got easier and you could recycle at the curb, but just certain numbers of plastic. Then you could recycle separated items, plastic and paper; then you could do single stream. And I was happy to do it, but all the while, the save-the-earth people kept up a chant of “not good enough.” You should also take 5 minute showers and use your plastic bags to weave placemats and purses, even if you don’t use a purse. If you don’t do all these things, you don’t care enough about Mother Earth.

It kinda wears on a girl who heard a similar theme growing up. Sure, you cleaned the whole house, but you missed this spot. Your report card says A-. Why didn’t you get an A? The environment folks may as well be my dad yelling at me. But I colored all those ecology signs and drunk the Kool-Aid, and did my best to tune out the negativity. But now we’re hearing that we didn’t recycle the right things, so China’s mad and not taking our less-than-pristine recycling, and somehow this is all our fault, again.

The environment people didn’t miss a beat — now we have to do these 14 other things and don’t even think about using those plastic bags, even to make a purse.

So when I picked up the earth day issue of Oprah magazine, I should have known to walk away. I really should have. Oprah is the new crazy coat, and my chest is a fully lit furnace.

Every page felt like it was berating me for not doing enough. Sprinkled in between were allegedly uplifting stories of impossibly perfect do gooders. You know, people who stopped using plastic altogether and knit food storage bags out of hemp they grew in their back yard — “It was a little difficult at first, but really it’s so easy, anyone can do it!”

I should have just done what the magazine was asking and recycle the damn thing — if magazine paper were still recyclable, which it isn’t because some people insisted on putting styrofoam and plastic objects with no number, and other nonsense in their recycling bins, and now we’re all being punished. But the part of me that has been diligently recycling for nearly 30 years couldn’t let it go. I kept turning each page hoping for vindication, or acknowledgement, or at least an apology: Sorry, things have changed and you did a good job before, but now we can’t recycle paper and plastic. But hey, cardboard is still good! You know, a little positive reinforcement?

Then I read a headline that made me forget the lady in the weird zipper coat, the Indigenous man with his tear, and the furnace. It was about the most environmentally friendly forms of birth control.

Let me repeat. Environmentally friendly forms of birth control.

Of course this was before the whole kit and caboodle was under attack by the Cheeto flea minions. But still, really? Like women don’t have enough things to worry about around sexual and reproductive health, and now you are holding me accountable for using condoms instead of more “environmentally friendly” forms like an IUD? Because, you know, putting foreign objects in your body, which is really just here temporarily, is better for Mother Earth, who will outlast you puny mortal. Why is this even a thing? Let’s just ignore the fact that these types of birth control don’t work for everyone, so there are a great many of us are lucky if we have one or two choices. They also seemed to skip how environmentally friendly a vasectomy is. Inquiring minds want to know.

Did any woman actually want to know this? Ever? Or were the editors sitting around thinking up crap to fill the magazine because they ran out of DIY do gooders? I can’t even blame it on a man because Oprah’s staffers are primarily women.

Ladies! WT ever-living F?

Call me a crazy anti-environmentalist, but I’m fairly sure it’s not too many condoms filling up the landfills that are causing our problems. It might have a tiny bit more to do with the policies of the government and large companies than my birth control choices and 10-minute showers.

But let’s not quibble. You know what I can do? I can throw the magazine in the recycing bin, and I did. China doesn’t want it and neither do I. Maybe one of those DIY people can make a Christmas tree decoration out of it. I’m too busy taking my food scraps to the community compost to keep them out of the trash and ignoring people in weird coats. Because, you know, I just don’t care enough.

Photo note: Apparently that ad with the Indigenous man was a total fake from start to finish.


The Gahden So Fah

I realized usually by now I post pictures of my deck tomato plants, lovingly grown from seed by my gardening guru friends, Becky and Susan. The plants actually look nice now.


If I wait too much longer, they will very likely be felled by some blight, pestilence, or 6-legged malfactors. Or perhaps by my gardening abilities, but we’re not going to talk about that. But I did hedge my bets this year. I put one tomato plant on my deck, one in a pot in the back yard, and one in a pot in the front yard. This way I can call it an “experiment” and if they all succumb, I can blame it on the raccoons, squirrels, dogs, and the scientific method.

On the deck, I also have a pepper plant (in the center of the photo), because they seem harmless enough.

On the left, you’ll see a laundry basket lined with a garbage bag (because I’m a super fancy gardener — Williams Sonoma eat your heart out). In here are sweet potato slips a friend persuaded me to try. Perhaps he had grown weary of me bemoaning the fate of my tomatoes every year. He was very persistent in describing how easy it was and that you get a bazillion potatoes with very little effort. So I thought, why not? I started to watch a few videos and realized a few things right away.

  1. Many of the videos on how to grow sweet potatoes feature people who live in warm climates with shorter winters than New England, and they have acres of land to potter around in. So yeah, I’m guessing for those lucky bastards, growing things in general is easier, including sweet potatoes.
  2. Growing sweet potatoes is actually a 2-step process. My friend seemed only to have seen the first step. Just plant a sweet potato, he assured me. Then sit back and in a few months you can fill a cellar with the things. Maybe in the tropics, but according to the videos featuring people in warmer climates and all that land, those plants that grow out of the potato are called slips. They don’t produce more potatoes until you remove them and replant them. Then you can sit back and get bushels of sweet potatoes.
  3. If I had wanted to grow the slips myself, I should have started indoors in February. Whoops. I started watching the videos in late May.

But that’s what the internet is for. I ordered slips online. I perhaps should have paused to wonder why my local gardening center didn’t have slips or sweet potatoes. They also had to call over that one gardening guy who knows everything to answer my question about growing them. I believe he said something about the growing season was too short here, but I was already committed — why listen to reason? And I was already moving on to hunt down the bag-of-dirt-way-too-big-for-me-to-carry so I could fill up my laundry basket.

I did plant a sweet potato to see how I could do it next year in case this crazy idea does work. I bought an organic one, and planted it June 7. It’s supposed to take 4 weeks to sprout. I’m two weeks in, and so far I’m right on schedule of not sprouting! So that’s encouraging.


So, I got a potato, I got slips, and I got a laundry basket of dirt.

So what if the growing time is 90 days. I’m ready for amazing things, and who knows, maybe I’ll invent the baby sweet potato.

And speaking of high hopes, I have another experiment going on. My “pollinator” garden.

Last fall, one of the local weather guys recommended a flower that’s easy to grow and attracts bees and hummingbirds. The tomatoes are always hard, but flowers I can do, and I may as well do something for the pollinators. I thought I had written the name down, but I couldn’t find it.

While I was at the gardening center I saw  a whole section of these flowers — I recognized the name, and there was even a sign about how they were good for hummingbirds and bees. Yay! Of course, I didn’t save the little tag and I still can’t remember the name. It was starting to bug me so I started searching for “blue flowers that attract hummingbirds and bees.”

I saw many blue flowers, but none that look like this:


And also haven’t seen one bee, never mind a humming bird. Correction: I did see a bee, drilling a hole in the wood beam directly above the flowers. Talk about getting flipped off by nature; my flowers are so bad, you’re going eat wood? So what if you’re a carpenter bee. Come buzz around my pretty flowers, you ingrate.

Sooooo, I don’t know what the plant is, or if it’s even a kind of plant pollinators like. But when it comes to gardening, I have a kind of blind, optimistic enthusiasm, so I also bought a hummingbird feeder to help things along.


It’s been 7 days, and no sign of a bird. What the heck? I spent good money and I’m rolling out the pollen carpet here! Maybe they are on the sweet potato sprouting schedule, and if so, we’re right on time!

P.S. As I was writing this blog, I suddenly wondered if I remembered wrong and the flowers were good for butterflies? Cripes how do people keep track of these things? So I Googled “blue flowers that attract butterflies,” and lo, there they were: campanulas. And they are good for hummingbirds, so I’m not completely crazy.

Just blindly and enthusiastically optimistic.

P.P.S. Came home from work to discover my planted sweet potato thusly dug up and defiled as well as the slip:

Little squirrel bastard. Upon close examination I found this:

A sprout! So I cut that part out and replanted it. Ha! I left the rest out to entertain the effin squirrel.

Blindly and enthusiastically optimistic. Little bastard.

Everyone’s a Winner, or Are They?

Periodically, I get letters from my utility companies, comparing my usage to my neighbors. These little slices of peer pressure have been on my list to make fun of, mostly from the angle that I don’t give a flip how I compare to my neighbors, so you just wasted a stamp and some trees. Also, I always end up “good,” so really, what is the motivation to change? I guess they think they can push my buttons by showing me the remarkable performance of my “efficient” neighbors. But again, I don’t care about what my neighbors are doing. That’s why I live in a city, where ignoring people is built in to the fabric of our community.

The most recent report caught my eye. There I am in blue, once again getting patted on the head and told I’m “Good” with a little yellow smiley face.


Do these things really work on anyone? Do people open them up, exclaim, “Look I got the yellow smiley face!” And then take action of any kind, other than throw them away? Or save them for a blog post?

But then I looked at that green flat line along the bottom, the usage of the alleged “efficient neighbors.” Notice the flat line, like the line of a patient whose heart just stopped.


Soooo…what exactly is this? You’re telling me that my “efficient” neighbors manged to use 4 therms of gas per month through the entire New England winter? It was zero degrees Fahrenheit pretty much every other day.  What kind of crap is this? Suddenly, I’m very interested in how I’m being compared to my neighbors. Because it’s a damn lie! 4 therms maybe keeps your pilot light on in your stove.

Dear Gas Company: I’m only a lowly blog writer, not a utility engineer, but even I know that people who only use 4 therms of gas during a New England winter are:

  1. Dead and have no friends or family who care enough to check on them, and the heat has been cut off for nonpayment.
  2. Little princesses who can’t stand the cold and go to a warm place all winter and turn their thermostat down to 4 therms a month. P.S. They will also have frozen pipes and flooding, wasting water.
  3. Total cheaters who have another source of heat. I don’t think their electric bill says they are “efficient.” More like “Godzilla of usage.” Alternately they are burning away the ozone with all that wood smoke getting spewed in the sky in the name of not using gas heat. Forget solar. Only 6 people around here have solar panels.
  4. All of the above.

So, Gas Company, who are you really comparing me to? A bunch of freaks who don’t use gas heat? How is that a fair comparison? And how do you know where I actually fall on the spectrum, if you can’t even eliminate the outliers from your data? And for that matter, is the “Using more than average” data right? How will I know? And if it is, isn’t the bar a little low? Like any amount under average is “good.” What is this, a soccer participation award?

Now I have zero confidence in anything you tell me. And I actually think you may be a part of some conspiracy to, I don’t know, turn me into a 4 therm using zombie while you distract me with false praise and bad data.

Or this is in the top 5 of bad marketing campaigns.

Just to be on the safe side, I’m going to Google how to prepare for the zombie apocalypse/live on 4 therms month.





Happy Pride, for Reals

What a difference a couple of years makes! Context truly is everything. Just a few short years ago, my friends and I went to the Gay Pride Parade and complained that it had become too commercial, too long. And where were the outrageous drag queens and the lesbians dressed only in shorts and with duct tape on their nipples? Assimilation comes at a cost, and what happens to a culture when the outsider group, that defines itself as an outsider group, becomes accepted? You have to sit through a 4-hour parade of banks and churches and schools. Like straight people. I’m straight and I couldn’t even take it.

We were so young and foolish then.

Now? Just going to the parade has become a form of protest. This year the weather was perfect.  I called it a Pride Miracle, because we have not had 3 days of beautiful weather in Boston strung together since last year. 2-0-1-8. WTF!?

And there was something about the weather, like a gift, and the long parade, that felt more like caring than commercial. I watched with my friends, Mike, Jonathan, and Ron. After a couple of hours we grabbed lunch and then started walking backwards along the route towards the end. We were now nearly 4 hours into this thing. But the groups just kept coming. We went past the official parade start and there were still groups coming. And Mike summed it up perfectly.

“I’m feeling very moved by all these groups and the support. I feel very safe.”

Nothing is permanent, the acceptance of hard-earned gay rights or the Cheeto flea. But Saturday, under clear blue skies and a warm, welcoming sun, many of us felt safe, and hope.

And PS to the asshat straight men who want their own parade. I will say to you what I said to my son who, at 7 or 8 years old, complained that there is a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, so when is Kid’s Day?

I answered, “Kid’s day? You want to know when kid’s day is? Every damn day, that’s when kid’s day is.”

So stop being such craybaby princesses and enjoy your every damn day.


That Ain’t Yoga

I love yoga, but this shit is getting out of hand. The “hot” yoga has been around for a while, and in an attempt to not be such a yoga princess, I tried it a few years ago. People gush about how the warmth makes your muscles stretch more easily and you can go much farther in a pose, which is sort of anti-yoga. It’s about “practice” people, not “finish.”

But whatever, I get it. Western culture generally has a super hard time just doing things for the sake of doing them, and if you don’t have a goal — lordy, well, you are totally doing it wrong. I can do my yoga next to you unperturbed by that idea, except if it’s damn hot. I’m used to doing yoga for an hour and a half, but 45 minutes in, I hit the heat wall and had to lie still on my mat. I felt like you do sometimes on a hot humid summer day when the heat is so oppressive all you can really do is drink cold alcoholic beverages in the shade until you can drink more comfortably later in the day. Also, I’m a sweaty person, so even before I hit the wall, I was slipping around on my mat like a kid on a Whamo-O Slip ‘N Slide on said hot summer day. Not ideal for engaging my core, but a perfect way to pull a few very warm muscles.

Then someone asked me if I heard of goat yoga. I thought they were making fun of me. But, no, it’s an actual thing. I won’t call it a real thing, cuz that ain’t real. It’s just another obsession around entertaining ourselves. Seems like it started in California. Because, of course it did. Need I say more? Hey,  yoga is great and all, but this down dog needs a little, I don’t know, pizzazz, a little razzle dazzle. I know! Let’s add goats! Yes, I need some little goat headbutting my ass while I’m trying to extend my spine, stretch my legs, and turn my triceps toward each other with my hands planted. If you need goats to do yoga, then maybe you need to try something else, like artisan goat cheese making or exotic animal farming. I’m sure there is another activity for you. Just stay away from my yoga, deal? 

So, how can you top that, right? Well, I just got an email from a yoga studio where I took the hot yoga class — I really need to unsubscribe. They were promoting the “Wim Hof Method,” and there is a photo of a white (of course) man sitting cross legged, eyes closed, with the ocean in the background. I love yoga, but the teachers can have weird names, and they love to invent new kinds of yoga and name it after themselves, so I thought this guy was Wim Hof. That was odd enough to keep me reading. I soon realized the photo was Samuel Whiting, alleged expert of the Wim Hof Method: that’s WHM for all you non-hipster yoga people, who aren’t even hip enough to do yoga with goats. If it’s got an actronym, it must be real.

This part caught my attention: “Discover how you can utilize breathing and cold exposure to optimize body & mind, and learn about the underlying physiology.” Wait, wha? “Cold exposure?” OK, I’m not a big fan of passing out in a sweaty pool on the yoga mat from heat, but at least I can intellectually understand the idea of warmer muscles. “Cold exposure” makes me think of, well, me all winter long, tensed up while battling the winter wind, snow, and sleet. I need yoga to uncramp me from that. At room temperature. What “cold exposure” optimizes is my crabbyness, and the underlying physiology is, it’s effing cold, get thee human ass to a heated building.

But wait. There’s more! “Cold-water immersion in the form of an ice bath can boost metabolism, optimize your nervous system (re program your relationship to stress), strengthen your immune system and build mental fortitude.”

For the record, I find an ice bath extraordinarily stress-inducing.

What fresh hell is this? Boot camp? The Whamo-O James Bond training program? Ah, according to that fund of maybe-it’s-true knowldege Wikipedia, Wim Hof , “also known as The Iceman, is a Dutch extreme athlete noted for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures. He has set Guinness world records for swimming under ice and prolonged full-body contact with ice, and still holds the record for a barefoot half-marathon on ice and snow. He attributes these feats to his Wim Hof Method (WHM), a combination of frequent cold exposure, breathing techniques and meditation.[1] But skeptics question whether or not his identical twin brother’s similar brown fat composition shows that Wim’s tolerance of cold is mostly a result of his genetics.[2][3]”

What did I tell you about people naming techniques after themselves. Oh, this is getting rich. And I thought the goats were bad! At least it’s the idea that’s bad. The goats are, well, just being goats. Actually they are particpiating more in the spirit of yoga and just being themselves more than the humans are doing.

And then this: “Hof is the subject of The New York Times bestselling book What Doesn’t Kill Us, which tells the story of how the investigative journalist Scott Carney took an assignment supposedly to debunk the WHM but ended up learning Hof’s techniques.[4] He is also the subject of the Vice documentary Iceman in which journalist Matt Shea learned the WHM.[5]

I will stop there. As a practitioner of yoga since 2004, doing various poses on a mat, with no extra heat, or cold, or Guinness world records and simple props like a belt, a block, or a bolster, I can say with great certainty, yoga should never be paired with these phrases: “Extreme athelete,” “full body contact with ice,” and “kill.” Although if you want a Guinness after holding down dog for 3 minutes, I say, go for it.

I’ll just put it out there, that this feels a tad outside of the intention of yoga. And maybe a teeny tiny bit ‘o male ego thing. Yah?

In my humble female opinion, yoga is not meant to “build fortitude” by withstanding a super spy James Bond/Wim Hof ice cold shower/bath. If you want to see how manly you are by jumping in icy water, go right ahead. But why to do you have to drag yoga in it? The polar bear swimmer people already do that, join them. To build mental fortitude, I seem to only need to hold a pose for longer than I think I can, pushing the limits of my body in a quiet, yet challenging way. Breathing in slowly and when my monkey brain says, “OMG, we can’t possibly do this for one second longer,” I tell myself, panting and sweating, that we’re OK and we can hang on in the pose for 10 more seconds, 20 more seconds, a minute. And if all else fails, “We can have extra wine later if you hang in now!” Both the yoga and the wine translates to my life, to help me hang in there/go to the liquor store when I think I can’t take it anymore. But, I also don’t do yoga well with goats, so after 15 years, maybe I just don’t really understand the point.

And, maybe, a hot goat in Wim Hof’s ice bath will fly out of my ass.

An update: Today there were a few little ants in the studio where I do yoga. So I was inspired to invent Ant Yoga. It broadened my practice and outlook to barely see them running around the floor, doing, you know, down ant and cat/ant. I’ve already made plans to move to ant country, and buy a studio and an ant far. I am also writing a book. It’s going be huge, baby, huge!

Photo credit: Goat yoga book

New England Girl in the Desert

The kid and I are out in AZ for a few days visiting a dear friend from college and her hubby, who is also dear to me. We also went to a night time program at the Kitt Peak National Observatory. It was awesome and among other things we got to see Jupiter and 2 of its moons and more galaxies than you can shake a stick at. You can get a description of our night from the Kitt Peak blog. We also encountered strange things like seguaro cacti — those are the ones out of western central casting — warm temperatures, and dry air. Barely a week ago, Boston was 40 degrees and pelting me with ice pellets, so right now warm and dry is weird.

The last time I was in this state was 30 years ago on a road trip across country, where we creeped up on a landscape mile by mile, rather than land in the cactus-rich desert.

It’s disorienting, but maybe that’s a good thing, especially when you have good friends with a pool, a love of cooking, and a well stocked bar. Get a different perspective, another view, a better understanding of things that I don’t know much about.

Or that’s just wicked dumb jet lag talking because I don’t want to understand rattle snakes, cougars and coyotes in my yahd, never mind the desert animals.

See ya back in Boston!

Love My Girls

Today I offer gratitude for the weekend with my girls — we’ve been friends since before high school. We went to a Red Sox game and we had fun getting to know a man and his grown daughter behind us who playfully photo bombed our selfies. And we entertained them by being ourselves, having a constant flow of hot dogs, sausages, beer, and peanuts, and saying to each other, “Sit your ass down!” Life is pretty darn good. Thanks girlies, I love you, and you too, photo bomb dad and daughter.