Thursday, August 31, 2006

Last weekend of the Summer

Since I'm on vacation until Tuesday this is a long last weekend of the Summer. I went walking with a friend this afternoon and treated myself to a Slurpee on the way home. When we were kids we used to ride our bikes to 7-11 and buy Slurpees -- for a quarter!

Technically Fall doesn't really start for another few weeks but it was about 70 degrees today and chilly tonight so I'm calling this the last weekend of the Summer. I'm looking forward to the Clambake, taking lots of photos, going apple picking and enjoying another beautiful New England Fall.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

My phone is in working order -- thanks Verizon

The buzz is gone. I've calmed down.
Life is good.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Sparing the boring details, I had a run-in with Verizon today. My phone has had an annoying buzz on it for months and I finally got fed up and called the service department last week. They told me that it would be fixed by tomorrow. Sounded good to me. Yesterday I got an automated voice mail message that they would be out to repair the phone tomorrow and an adult needed to be here (that's me). I called last night and they let me pick the four hour window that was best for my schedule. I chose 10:00am - 2:00pm. I ran an errand this morning and got home at 10:20am. I called Verizon immediately to be sure I hadn't missed the repairman and was assured that I hadn't. Whew! I puttered around until 2:00pm and was perplexed that they hadn't shown up. At 2:00pm I called Verizon and was told that a repairman was not on his way to my place and that I wouldn't need to be home for them to repair my phone. My blood pressure soared. I was livid and I let Ms. Customer Service know that. I also I told her that I didn't feel like I should have to pay for the repair. I took time off work for nothing. Don't they put information in the computer? How did this information not get conveyed to me? You would think a communications company could communicate with their customers. I'd switch to MCI today but they screwed up my phone service when I bought my condo. I've already drafted a letter to the president of Verizon Communications that I will slip in the mailbox tomorrow.

Watch out. I'm a fired-up firey redhead!!!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Casual week(s)

It's the End of the Summer and my boss is out of town for three weeks -- that screams CASUAL WEAR to me. I told my friend the other day that I was going to wear jeans to work. She said that jeans were only appropriate at work if it was snowing. I told her to look outside that it was snowing!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

a GAP kid

I took this picture of my buddy after church. He's almost four and has a really fun personality. When he first started talking he called me "Lolly" which always made me smile (plus, I love wrong names). He usually sits with me in church. He's an all-around great kid. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Uniformed men

I needed to deposit some checks yesterday and parked in the library parking lot which is next to the bank. I looked up at the meter and of course it was empty. I debated about putting a quarter in. What's the chance that I'll get a ticket in the 4 minutes it will take me to deposit 3 checks? I decided to feed the meter. When I walked back from the bank this is what I saw...

I made the right choice.


My nephew Ian arrived at BYU-Hawaii Wednesday night. He called Kim (his mom) when he got there and told her that he was unprepared for how beautiful it is.

I can totally relate. That's exactly how I felt when I rolled into Provo, Utah 28 years ago...

Friday, August 25, 2006

Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?

I love to bake. I bake a lot. And I love to share my baked goods with friends. A few years ago someone asked how often I baked so I kept track for a year and it was about every third day (or 120 times a year).

For years I have wanted a cookie jar. A mad baker definitely needs a cookie jar. I kept thinking one of these days I'd find one that I liked. Last Saturday while antiquing in Maine I saw this cookie jar. For $8. I was surprised that it was so reasonably priced ("cheap") and grabbed it.

I baked chocolate chip cookies tonight. I packaged them in clear bags with red/white bakers twine. I left some for my next door neighbor. I will share some with friends tomorrow. The rest of them went in my new cookie jar.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

What's a taco?

A few years after I moved to Boston (we're talking around 1990) I went out to eat Mexican food with a friend. He had no frame of reference for that particular foreign fare and stared at the menu and asked, "What's a taco?" The sad thing is we were at Taco Bell.

I didn't really know much about the Emerald Isle (Ireland is a long way from L.A.) so he laughed at me when I asked if Feeney and Murphy were Irish names.

I had dinner with a friend tonight at Anna's Taqueria. And, yes, indeed, that is a taco.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Nia from China

I met Nia 7 years ago in Nanning, China. My friend Jennifer invited me to join her when she went to pick up her adopted daughter Anna. We were in China for 2 weeks and it was an amazing experience. There were 7 families in the group adopting little girls and Nia was one of them. She was about 15 months old when she was adopted.

I had dinner with Nia and her family tonight. She is a beautiful little girl who doesn't really like to have her picture taken. Her mom told her she could stay up late so she agreed to let me take some pictures!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Family Reunions

My friends are having a family reunion this week. They have 10 kids and 4 of the kids are married and 3 of the kids have kids so there are now 23 in their family. I have enjoyed over 18 years of friendship with them.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

One day in Maine

My friends and I had a fun day in the great state of Maine! We saw the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, did some antiquing, I bought some red reproduction fabric for my next quilt, we had lunch (at 3:00pm), went to Goldenrod candy shop in York Beach and bought taffy (I finished mine off before crossing the state line), saw Nubble Light, went to a few outlets in Kittery, and drove home. It was a fun-filled day. My friends that had never been to Maine loved it! It was fun to show them some of my favorite spots in one of my favorite states. I bought a really neat old kids' school desk (for $19!!). I think I might paint it red...

Note: The lighthouse is Nubble Light. That is Amy in front of the sign and I have no idea who the beach bum is. Just liked the photo.

What is the one state that is one syllable?

That's where I'm going tomorrow. To the great State of Maine. With three friends (two who have never been there). I'll be conducting the Ellen Patton Tour of Maine. Pictures to follow.

Friday, August 18, 2006

< Six degrees of Ellen Patton

I like to visit the new people that move into my ward (congregation) each Summer/Fall and present them with the Ellen Patton Packet. The EPP consists of my favorite articles about Boston, a stack of brochures of places to visit in New England, and 3 of my photocards.

Tonight I went to visit two new families and welcome them to the Arlington Ward and Boston.

I went on a date with the brother of the one of the guys and I grew up in the same ward as the other guy's dad.

How many degrees of separation is that? Can we get Kevin Bacon on line 1?!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

"I can't smile without you..."

I'm singing this my digital camera! There were spots showing up on lots of my pictures so I called Sanford Camera Repair and my beloved best friend (Canon 10D) is in the shop until Friday night.

P.S. I can't smile without my Palm Pilot or red Kitchen Aid mixer either.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Which is scarier...

This jack-o-lantern or the fact that while I was in Brooks Pharmacy today -- AUGUST 15th -- they were stocking the shelves with HALLOWEEN CANDY?

Monday, August 14, 2006

MGH = Man's Greatest Hospital

My friend Mat had liver surgery today at MGH (Massachusetts General Hospital). I spent all day with his wife Kimberly while we waited and waited and waited. The surgery went well; the doctor removed 70% of Mat's liver (most of it will regenerate in a few weeks), hopefully leaving none of the cancerous tissue. That is very good news.

I took this picture of their family a few months ago.

Here is a link to Kimberly's blog:

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Jack Jack

Summertime means lots of newborn babies. I met Jack today. He's 10 days old and very sleepy.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Cousins Club

When my cousins and I would get together for dinner/movies/slumber parties we called it Cousins Club.

Three of my neighborly neighbors' cousins visited them this week from New York City. I took pictures of them this morning before work and here is one of my favorites.

Cousins Club!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

How can you leave Boston/New England?

I had dinner tonight with friends the Hunsakers that are leaving Boston (well, Hudson, New Hampshire but they used to live in Medford -- close enough) in a few weeks. I'm sad to see them go and they are sad to go. They love Boston and New England but a job change is taking them to Atlanta. I'm pretty sure they will always cheer for the Red Sox and have a soft spot in their hearts for New England.

While I was driving home tonight I remembered an article that is the first page of "The Ellen Patton Packet" that I give to people that are new to the area (along with a stack of brochures of places to visit/things to do and some of my New England photocards) so I retyped it.

I'm sure the Hunsakers will miss Boston, wicked bad.

Bidding Boston a fond farewell
by Bella English - Boston Globe
July 15, 1995

It was 10 years ago that I pointed my U-Haul north on I-95 from New York. My soul longed to head south but life was taking me elsewhere, to my husband’s job. I thought I was going to the end of the world.

I was. I was going to Boston, which I described to sympathetic New York friends as "the tundra."

As I unpacked boxes, I listened fondly to the radio as Mario Cuomo, my governor, gave the Harvard class-day address. Laval Wilson was school superintendent. Claus von Bulow was on trial. Doug Flutie still walked on water.

I didn’t know the difference between South Boston and the South End, and I didn’t care. It took me forever to figure out what the woman at the deli meant by "potty platta." Was it some kind of newfangled toilet?

I came north vowing to split this popcorn stand within a year. Those first few weeks I walked the streets downtown, searching for something familiar. I couldn’t believe that women my age were wearing those hideous khaki Bermudas. I found sweatshirts in June depressing. I wondered where all the black folks were.

I was stunned that people spent valuable time up to their elbows in dirt, gardening. I almost left my husband when a neighbor offered to show me how to fertilize the yard with cow manure. I almost left again, after my first New England "winter" that stretched from November to April.

Naturally, after New York I found New Englanders polite. But oh so reserved. They might tell you if your coat was on fire, but only if you asked.

And what was the big deal with Harvard, anyway? Early on I sat at an outdoor bar in Harvard Square and remarked about how Harvard Yard looked like the state hospital where my father worked and where I grew up. The student reading Spinoza nearby spit out his coffee laughing.

Oh, Boston. Like an arranged marriage, it took me a while to agree to hold hands with you, much less fall in love. But once I consummated the affair - once I gave myself up to your peculiar charms and foibles - I was a goner. One year dissolved into 10 with the ease of a Bergman film.

Gradually, I stopped going back to New York for this or that. When I was sent by the Globe to write about the heartbreaking World Series match between the Red Sox and the Mets, I actually found myself rooting for the Sox. And when I finally gave up my Madison Avenue hairdresser and started going to Fred the Hair Stylist in East Milton Square, I knew I had settled in for good. I learned to say "the Cape" and "the Vineyard" like an old-timer. I had an epiphany when my first crocus pushed its head defiantly through the crusty New England soil. Though I fought it fiercely at first, "wicked" became one of my favorite modifiers, as in "Gov. Weld is wicked goofy."

If you are a mother, you become almost umbilically attached to the place where your babies are born. My kids were born here, and no place will ever mean quite the same to me.

When I started writing this column in 1987, I concentrated on the absurdities and ironies of everyday life: the good, the bad and the ugly. The good being the ordinary folks in extraordinary circumstances, such as the school nurse who, with five sons of her own, found room for a retarded boy whose life depended on her. Or the man in Dorchester who threw himself into the line of fire to save neighborhood children during a gang shooting. Or the Holocaust survivor who goes around bearing witness before schoolchildren. Or Bill Damon, whose wife had been murdered six months earlier, leaving him with two young daughters to raise. All of you taught me so much about dignity, grace and the resilience of human nature. So many of you opened your hearts and homes to me, sharing your most private moments in a most public forum. I couldn’t do it.

Now for the bad and the ugly. (You know who you are.) I am especially grateful to certain judges, lawyers, politicians and dirtbags who kept me in copy, as I chronicled their arrogance and abuses.

Thanks, too, to you readers who took a minute out of your day to read, and then another minute to write a nice note - or call my editor screaming. To the little old lady who keeps telling me to "Be a good Jew, Bella, and tell the truth about the Holocaust": Let the record show that I am a good Unitarian, which I realize is an oxymoron. And to the reader who keeps writing to me at The Boston Globe in Quincy, you should know that The Boston Globe is in Boston.

Now, life is taking me south again, this time to Philadelphia, city of brotherly - hey, what about sisterly? - love. I’ll be the one in the khaki Bermudas. I’ll be the one on my hands and knees, fertilizing my garden with cow manure. I’ll be the one wearing the Red Sox T-shirt. Heck, I may even buy a Harvard nightshirt before I go. All I know is I’m gonna miss Boston, wicked bad.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Dog days

My friends got a puppy two days ago. A beautiful black lab. I went to meet him tonight. I think he wanted to eat my shoe for dinner. The puppy is 10 weeks old. He has already pooped everywhere. In the car...on the rug... Poop aside, I'm sure they are going to enjoy years of fun with their dog. They live near Porter Square so I suggested they name him Porter.

I noticed two things that were different. My friend now talks baby talk. And she had a plastic bag stuffed in her back pocket.

We all know what that is for.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The perfect summer day

My day started with a photo shoot of my neighborly neighbors, then a pedicure, a few errands, a visit to Small Farm, then Dairy Joy for soft serve creamsicle ice cream, a few more errands and home.

I read about Small Farm in the Boston Globe this week( and decided to make a visit. I was going to try to find someone to go with me but went alone. They sell home grown veggies (corn is their biggest seller) and have fields of beautiful flowers. If you give them $5 they give you a quart yogurt container and scissors and you can fill the container with as many flowers as you can! It is one of the best and beautiful bargains in Boston!! I drove home through Stow, Acton, Concord, Lincoln--are all quaint New England towns--with my windows down; it was sunny and in the 70's. I passed lots of farm stands, barns, fields and trees. I had fresh tomatoes with salt and pepper for dinner.

Today was one of my favorite summer days!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Breakfast for dinner

I'm not the only one that grew up having breakfast for dinner. It would have taken too much effort tonight to make something fancy. And I don't currently have the ingredients for too many fancy things. For example, I have everything for tuna noodle casserole except...the tuna. So I made buttermilk pancakes (uh...added water to the mix) and sausage tonight. Ahhhh...comfort food!

Make new friends but keep the old

I called my friend Mariann tonight. I haven't seen her in over a year and haven't talked to her in at least a few months but it was really fun chatting and catching up on our lives. She lives in Idaho with her six kids. Three of her kids were born while they lived in Boston while her husband (also her cousin but I'll save that story for another blog--remind me to tell you about the National Enquirer story) attended MIT. They left almost ten years ago and I've been to visit them three times since then. We hung out a lot when they lived here; celebrating birthdays, holidays, taking day trips, playing games, playing pranks, going to Maine and Vermont, and I babysat and borrowed their kids--I have lots of fun memories of the Hiltons. They are one of my favorite families that I've met while living here. Here is a picture of us last year when they were visiting (isn't that a lovely watercolor finish on the photo). Mariann said the kids talk about visiting Boston again; they had a really fun time last year.

I make lots of new friends but keep lots of the old and Mariann is definitely one of the gold.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

HOT stuff

Today it was 98 degrees ("feels like 107"). Now that's HOT but the heat didn't stop me from walking 30 minutes at the Lexington track tonight.

So here's my take on the Boston weather: I always tell people, "If you live in Houston or Atlanta, you know what your summer is going to be like (HOT/HUMID). If you live in Minnesota or Michigan you know what your winter is going to be like (FREEZING/SNOWY). And if you live in Boston the weather is kind of a crap-shoot."

My first summer here ('88) it was brutal. I remember lying on the couch, calling my parents, and saying, "I don't think I can live here." It was my introduction to humidity. People kept telling me it was only humid two weeks out of the summer. Really? That was about week six. It was awful. And the other crazy thing was not very many people had air conditioners and I knew one person with central air. That's crazy! Seriously, I think I lived here 5 years before I bought a window unit (I guess I'm a true New Englander!). Some winters we get lots of freezing days and snow and some winters we don't. One winter I had six snow days off of work! I've stood many a morning on the bus stop with frozen hair and the wind taking my breath away. But some winters are mild.

I like that the weather here is somewhat unpredictable.

All that aside, I'm thoroughly enjoying my central air conditioning! is good!!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A good/wood reminder

I found this wooden sign (is that what you would call it?) at the craft/antique shop this weekend. It's a good/wood reminder for me.