city living

Story behind the Boston Magazine cover (May 2013 issue)


My blog posts for Pine Village re. last week’s events:

April 18, 2013:

April 23, 2013:

Transplanted a bunch more of the seedlings today – Shasta Daisy (Alaska and some other kind – something Princess?), ‘Irish Eyes,’ Coreopsis, and Baby’s Breath – as well as some of the things from the window box from Jess’ wedding. Since those are succulents, I’m not sure they’ll make it much past the next couple of weeks; they’ll still look better than the weeds that were in that patch. There’s supposed to be more rain coming tonight (surprise) and Thursday – will the mulch I added make it better or worse? Only time will tell. Ooooh – and 4 (or maybe 3 – I can’t remember) cubic yards of dirt got delivered today for the raised beds that Kelley built a few weeks ago.

Next steps: mulch the pumpkins and sunflowers (they’ve made it half a week!), plant the last few daisy plants and the Forget-Me-Nots, move the dirt from the driveway to the beds

Check it out – two posts in one day!

We transferred all the pumpkin and sunflower seedlings to the side of the house today. Well, rather, I transferred them while Lucy and Will helped by weeding. (Which, incidentally was quite cute. Of course, as I put them to bed I found that they had both eaten various snacks/dessert without washing their hands first. I now find myself wondering if there is a possibility that the weeds they pulled were poisonous — I mean, I know they’re not foxglove, and I know they’re not random mushrooms, but I will most certainly be doing breathing checks tonight before I go to bed.) Since the forecast predicts rain every day for at least the next week, I’m not feeling overly optimistic that, come fall, there will be a thriving pumpkin patch; at the same time, I will keep my fingers crossed.

Hopefully there will be enough sun at some point over the next week to plant the rest of the seedlings. I’m afraid that if they stay in those flats for too much longer they’re all going to go to that compost pile in the sky. (Or maybe just the compost pile in the backyard. Much easier to get to.)

Yes, there’s been another dry spell. Many posts pass through my head, but don’t make it to here. Sad, I know. I have a few notes jotted down and will hopefully be able to post again soon. Just for posterity, however, I’ve decided to repost my stream of tweets from last night as I was dealing with my laptop crash and burn. Hey, it’s something right? Here goes:

Time to go home! 


So optimistic. Who knew what was in store?

[Note: For the good of all concerned, I’m skipping over the mini-breakdown I had as I realized what was happening. Which brings us to…]

At apple on boylston with a very sick – but hopefully not dead – mac. 

‘From txt’ – notice that? Mmm-hmm. Couldn’t type it, ‘cuz the laptop wouldn’t boot up. Eventually, that brought us to:

Bad news-laptop is dead. Good news-mommy gets a new computer. 

$1500 later (and in response to James’ note) …

@jroberts5 Alas, we are long past Applecare. Am now typing on my new MacBook. 🙂 

Yes, I mourned. That laptop and I spent five years and three months together. They were a good five years overall, and I managed to fill up all but 6 GB of that poor hard drive. However, a new laptop is a new laptop. Now the data on the other hand…

Sooooooo glad to have back up. Of course, external hard drive has firewire; new laptop does not. TY genius bar folks! 

Alas, my external hard drive and my new laptop are not able to talk to each other. The genius bar man played intermediary and got all of my documents to my new machine. Unfortunately, however, ALL of my songs, pictures, calendar info, and email back-up are still on the hard drive. Linnea gave me some ideas of how to deal with it over the next few days. Hopefully it will work. I miss my stuff! 

That said, to see all my files exactly where they’re supposed to be, I can’t tell you how much of a relief that is. I still want it all synched up together, well, phew.

Interesting – Facebook blocked from Apple Store but Twitter is not? 

Of course, then it did occur to me that my old (dead) computer, my new computer, and all of my data etc. were in one place together — along with me on Boylston St. in downtown Boston at 11:00 p.m. 

Car did not get towed. I did not get mugged btwn apple store and car. So far so good. 

Me and all the cabbies just hangin’ at south station. 

Um, as was the wait for Camilla.

Which is better? Inside with the crazies or sitting outside alone on the desolate street? Choices, choices 

(That last one was me being convinced that Lucy and Will would have a snow day today. Don’t even get me started on how they had three snow days — two of which were on days without snow, mind you — that led directly to the 1.5 week vacation. But when I dropped them off at school yesterday, the drop off area STILL WASN’T PLOWED. Seriously.)

Oooo – is that Camilla’s train? YES!!!!!!! Here she is!!!! 

So, yes. Camilla got here and we got back to the car and then back home with everything intact. I’m still a little on edge until I get all my backed up stuff back and then re-backed up, but, trust me, am in a lot better shape knowing that I at least have a decent chance of getting everything recovered.

I also have to say that having an Apple store that is open until 11 p.m. — with live (wonderful, helpful) people to talk to! — was a lifesaver. Thank you, Apple; thank you, Linnea; and yay, Boston.

Today was one of those days that felt like it literally went on forever. From practically the moment I woke up until, well, just now, I have been answering/rushing/on all day. It began with the always lovely getting-out-of-the-house moments. Everything can be going absolutely peachy until I come downstairs and say — “Does everyone have their shoes on?” You’d think that it was the sounding bell for a prizefight. It typically sets off a round of fighting/hitting/crying/whining that lasts at least until we’re in the car. If we’re lucky, that’s only a four-minute span. On some days, like today, it’s at least fifteen.

This morning was extra special because, just as we were leaving (and after, of course, Kelley was out the door and had already left for work), I realized that I needed to give Will his Albuterol (yes, we’re back on that for the moment) as well as the eye medicine (Pinkeye, too! Woo-hoo!). Since the eye medicine makes his eyes tear up like crazy, it is not something that he enjoys. At least today Lucy didn’t refuse to put on her shoes. (That was the Tuesday morning saga. She CAN NOT wear those sneakers with socks. They’re too hot, they’re too tight. The only way to leave the house is sliding along on her bum, saying how awful those shoes are.)

We finally get out the door and I have to go back inside twice — once to put Will’s other medicine (more Albuterol, plus his Epi pen) into his camp backpack, and then once to get my water. I turned around to lock the front door and, while doing so, did what I do just about every morning — open the side door of my van with the remote on the key fob. Except this time, Will happened to be standing directly in its path, leaning in to look at something on the side of the van.

What’s worse than having your precious little boy cry? Having your precious little boy cry because of the bump on his head from something you stupidly did. No, wait — having your precious little boy bravely try and stop crying while he tells you, “It’s o.k., Mama. See? I’m not crying any more.”

You’re not crying any more? I am so very incredibly happy to hear that. I, however, will continue bawling until we pull up to camp.

The drop-off was otherwise o.k. I was in a rush to get to work by 9 for the adjunct orientation, but then ended up hitting crazy weird traffic by WGBH. If that isn’t a sign to pull into the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot right there, then I don’t know what the hell is. And yes, I went for the two donut special this morning. Hmmm. Not a way to get back on the wagon.

I was then in the orientation from 9 a.m. straight through to 1 p.m. because of a meeting that followed. When I finally got upstairs, Jessica and I decided that we needed iced coffee. Although I certainly could have used the 20 minutes to get more stuff done, I have to say that it was exactly what I needed. The iced coffee hit the spot, but so did the 15 minute walk on this absolutely gorgeous sent-from-Heaven day. 74 degrees, sunny and breezy — that’s definitely my perfect weather day.

The next two and a half hours were actually productive. By the time I got home, I was completely ready to get Lucy to her birthday party in the Back Bay and hang out with Will for awhile. We got Lucy to Siobhan’s house just fine and then Will chose Burger King. (‘Why’ you ask? Well because he specifically did not want the Star Wars toys at McDonald’s. Burger King, however, also gives toys. So that’s where we went.)

With an hour and a half to kill, I thought that the one at Copley would work out just fine. Will was not pleased at how long it took me to find a place to park. He would keep noting spaces, but of course they were all completely on the other side of the street across three lanes of speeding traffic. No go. Finally found one on Newbury Street of all places.

Will ordered his typical — a hamburger kids meal. When we opened it up at the table, though, well… “Mama, why does this hamburger have cheese?”

I looked across the length of the BK — which seemed about 50 yards. Yes, it was probably less than that, but with this BK being among the skankier ones, there was no way I was leaving him at the table to go and tell them they gave me a cheeseburger by mistake. So, I crossed my fingers and said, “That’s the way they make hamburgers here.”

He gave me a look that clearly said, No way, Mama, am I buying that one. He does like cheese, however, and the BK toy was a SpongeBob one, so he seemed to be willing to accept that answer. Big, long, heart-felt PHEW. We ended our lovely little dinner in a chat with the disaffected youth teenage couple next to us about the joys of SpongeBob. (They did seem to wonder why this five-year-old boy was chatting them up, but once they realized that he was seriously engaging with them, they went along with it.) After saying our good-byes, we left the Copley BK.

Dessert was an ice cream sandwich from CVS for him (and a nice yummy Entemann’s thing for me, although I have decided that since my day began with two donuts, perhaps I can hold off until the next day to eat them). He is a boy of simple pleasures. He helped me do the self-checkout at CVS and very much wanted to hold the change for me. I said o.k. for the change change, but not so much for the paper stuff. It was a bit of a fight, but I prevailed.

As we turned the corner onto Clarenden, there were a couple of panhandlers. I asked him if he’d like to give them his change, and his eyes lit up. “Yes!” He ran over to them, gave them a huge smile — completely taking them by surprise, it seemed — and gave them his 58 cents. As we walked away, he said he wanted to find more people who had cups he could put money into. “Can we come back with more money again?” Well, um, not today.

After our nice little walk back to the car — can I say how nice it was to just be on Newbury and Boylston on such a nice evening, strolling along with all the other city folks? [Was it necessary for me to use ‘nice’ three times in that sentence? Why, yes. Yes it was.] — we were exactly on time to get Lucy. Not only exactly on time, but as we pulled up to Siobhan’s street, there, directly in front of me, was a parking spot. A legal parking spot in the Back Bay! (Well, legal if you’re a Back Bay resident, but still…) The only problem was it was exactly three inches bigger than the car. And on the left side of the street.

Parallel parking on the opposite side of the road than normal — not exactly my strong suit. But, after back-and-forthing (and back-and-forthing and back-and-forthing) and a certain amount of bumper parking (“Mommy — you hit that other car!” “The Lexus SUV or the Audi wagon?” Well, at least neither of them had an alarm that went off), I was in! In, I tell you!

Did I mention that the space was only three inches bigger than the car? Literally. The rear bumper was touching the license plate of the car behind me and I couldn’t actually fit my hand in between my bumper and the one in front. Even better? As I was pulling out of the spot, a guy walked by with his two friends and said, “No way she’s getting out of that spot.” Not only was I getting out of it, I actually got myself into it in the first place.

I am completely unable to pull head on into a parking spot, and yet I managed that bit of parking. Between that and having such a lovely Copley Square evening, this was one of those <beat on chest> I am a Bostonian! evenings. Wicked awesome. Hell yeah.

It is now 10:30 p.m. and everyone is in bed. Probably not asleep, in Lucy’s case at least, but in bed. Will barely coughed at all last night (thank God for Prednisone) and hopefully will have another relatively easy night. With fingers crossed (but in a different not-a-bad-mom way this time)… Good night.

Today was one of those days that felt, well, endless. It started when the road I usually take to get to Lucy’s school was closed due to construction. That meant we had to go all the way to the end of the street and take a left onto Washington, which is never fun at that time of day. Then, we come up the hill to the school, and there’s a garbage truck in the middle of the road. Not picking up garbage, mind you. Just parked. In the middle of the road.

I probably would have had more of a conniption fit if it weren’t for Will’s exclaimed, “Again?! Everything today is too slow!” (I swear that he’s saying these things.)

Um, yep. That’s what I was going to say. (Except with me there would have been swear words involved.)

After a few minutes, I decided to try and make it through the space between the garbage truck and the parked car. Thankfully, I judged correctly and didn’t hit either one. (Considering that Will still occasionally tells me not to ‘bump’ anything when I’m driving, can you imagine? I never would have heard the end of that.) With the exception of the sad ‘Aren’t you going to come in, Mommy?’ from Lucy, drop-off went fine. Will’s drop off was surprisingly quick, so I was well on my way thinking that, despite the delays already, I was actually going to get in earlier than expected today and would have so much time to get done all the necessary things before the meetings started.

Ha. Ha! I tell you.

The phone rang as I was pulling up to Harvard and Comm. As I answered, I was registering that there were a heck of a lot of sirens flashing up ahead, and what looked like a fair amount of helicopters hovering overhead. It was Kelley, telling me there was a major accident on Comm Ave and I should take Beacon instead. I was literally seconds away from being too late to turn off, but I made the hard right onto Harvard. Thanks to the many other people doing the same, and the fact that this is one of the more major intersections on my commute, well, it took me quite a bit of time to go less than a mile. I turned off on the side roads as soon as possible, but that wasn’t much better, since just about everyone else in the world did the same thing. Every stop sign had a minimum of 20 cars backed up behind it. Sigh. What was that about getting to work early?

Of course, the flip side of that was that I wasn’t involved in a fiery mess. (See below for the picture from the Channel 4 website — they actually have video of the explosion at There’s more coverage on the Boston Herald site at:

Allston crash

Amazingly, no one was hurt. Still, I’m sure we can all agree that being late to work is a much better option.


As usual, work today was largely meetings. My new m.o. these days is to try and schedule some of these as walking meetings. Jeanne was game, so, rather than sit in one of our offices for our meeting, we did it while walking around the Fenway. It was raining, but warm, so this was doubly perfect for me; plus, we had some really great conversation. It was definitely as productive — if not more than — our meetings usually are. So, 40 minutes of brisk walking — not bad.

Then, I’d been planning on doing the same with Linnea. She was out sick today, though, so I went ahead and did it on my own. At the same time, I thought I’d drop off something for one of our adjuncts who works at BU. Unfortunately, I misjudged where her building was, so rather than a medium-long walk to Kenmore, it was a long-long walk to the BU bridge. It took me an hour to do the round trip, which I’m thinking was about three miles, considering my pace. At least it was my lunch hour, so it didn’t take time away from work. Man, am I feeling it now, though.

On top of that, tonight was Science Night at Lucy’s school. They do a really great job with it, and it was packed. Will hung out with Conal for the most part, while Kelley helped sell t-shirts for the parent council. I spent the evening trailing Lucy and her friends around.

This is our third year doing it, and it’s quite amazing to think about how she’s grown in that time. Watching her with Siobhan, in particular, was pretty cool. Not that she was ever a shrinking violet or anything, but seeing her now — she’s just so at home. I love watching these kids together. Lucy and Siobhan and Ruth and Matthew. They’re so great, making their bookmarks and watching the slideshow and holding the snakes (blech, by the way). It was exhausting, standing for two hours straight after all the walking I did today; it was worth it, though.

I’m sore already, and my eyes want to shut. I have some emails to read, though, and I want to get some writing done. (One of the fringe benefits of all the traffic this morning was that there was some major writing time while I sat at all the stoplights! Yay!) It’s possible that I will be physically unable to do this, however. I guess we’ll have to see.