You will eat pie in the sky…

Pie 006Yesterday, May 15th, would have been my dad’s 74th birthday. In honor of the occasion and all the things I love and miss about him I made a gigantic apple pie. One of the many things my dad and I enjoyed doing together was baking. He taught me much about the wonderful traditions of baking bread, the joy of needing, and watching your bread rise. One 4th of July (perhaps one of his favorite holidays, not for any patriotic reason of course, but because it was the one time of year that one could blow things up) we were hosting a great little party at his house. He went to the store to get supplies and after my step mom had left the room he called me out on the porch. He had spent an exorbitant amount on a bag of amazing, vine ripe, juicy, locally grown peaches for the pie. We made two huge peach pies that were the best I had ever tasted. We had a great party and blew lots of things up too, which is more fun when it is supported by a full belly of peach pie and ice cream.

Here are the pictures of the pie!


Not your normal spring roll

Marta pumping up her bike tires for her first ride of the season!

Marta pumping up her bike tires for her first ride of the season!

This weekend was quite exciting! Lots to do and lots of friends out and about. But then the sun was shining and that usually means that everyone in Boston finds any reason to go outside.

On Sunday morning there was a great gathering down across from the co-op put on by a new group called JP Bikes. I would say that at least 100 people (including a great many little folk) came out for the first annual JP Spring Roll! A leisurely ride through downtown JP and the Southwest Corridor Park and back to the start. Once again JP showed fine form and spirit with a delightful parade of bikes. Our houses mobile sound system and bike cart were put to good use by adding a garden 020James Taylor/soul/funk sound track to the ride.

The only thing I would say was a, well down side was the organizers instance on thanking the police, who while ridding bikes escorted the ride. Now, I get that they asked for permit to do the ride and asked and welcome the police officers involvement. It was a family ride with lots of kiddies. It was that kind of affair I have grown accustomed to seeing police at.  But to thank them so many times and so gratuitously and then to have the whole crowd cheer each time, was unsettling. Yes, we love our police when they help us out on our little celebratory bike ride. But the other 364 days a year when they are harassing the youth, immigrants and the homeless we just ignore them…and they people they are criminalizing. Wooowhooo! If only it were such that the police just helped us out from time to time, making sure cars didn’t run into us while biking and helping us to take over the streets. If only.

Messing about in boats, simply messing about

garden 004“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,” – Ratty from the Wind in the Willows.

This weekend Mahsa and I spent our first day out on the river. Up until this point we had practiced our canoeing on lakes and ponds. With a beautiful weather forecast and a hankering to get in a full day of canoeing we headed to the Charles River.

We put in at the Community Rowing Boat House just down from Water Town. garden 003Deciding to experience what it is like to spend a good chunk of time paddling upstream (something we will have to do on our trip) we took a left off the boat launch and headed against the current… All was good and fine as we meandered our way upstream. We passed the Newton Yatch Club, some kayaks, another boat house and various groups of people fishing. We also saw a Great Blue Heron and many jumping fish. A Great Blue Heron incidentally is the very kind of bird that cause my very first traffic incident. I was 17 and driving by a park when I saw a Heron just standing on the curb. Now these are particularly large birds with a bit of a prehistoric look to them that makes them startling to look at. I was so mesmerized that I ran up on the opposite curb and nicked a fire hydrant. Whoops!

It has  been awfully rainy her in Boston for the past couple of weeks. A pleasant result of the rain though has been to make the area lush and garden 009bursting with color. The trees along the river were many varied colors of green and positively thick with foliage. Every now and then there would be a tree with striking blue, pink or red flowers that just pops against the greens. Amidst such lush greenery it was simply quite easy to loose sight of the fact that on either side of the river are incredibly busy streets.

As we passed a dock where a couple of people were fishing we noticed a considerable increase in the strength of the current. As we neared a bridge we could really see that the water was running quite high after all the rain. The current continued to pick up and as we went under the bridge and during our first attempt the current pushed us sideways and spun us right our and and out from under the bridge. So, we obviously underestimated the power garden 007of the current. We righted our self around and when in for a second try. I was in the rear of the canoe, so I was doing the steering. I just kept yelling, power paddle! We made it under the bridge and around the next bend feeling like we were paddling through Jello. It was getting so hard. Just as we rounded the next bend white churning water caught my eye. Oh my! We were below a dam! The Water Town Damn to be exact. Now, lest you think that we neglected to consult a map before heading out on the water, we didn’t. We actually consulted many maps. What none of our maps did was accurately marked the distance from the between the boat launch and the dam…plus on no side of the dam was there a SIGN for the dam.

Upon seeing the turbulent waters ahead we promptly let the  current turn us around and high tailed it out of the situation. We then proceeded with the much easier task of paddling down stream for some miles.

This downstream venture was much more to our liking. We were able to practice our strokes more and take in the scenery too. It was fun to go under the big bridges that I normally only bike over. We chatted with a few fellow canoers and a few kayakers.

garden 013After floating working our way down the river for sometime we decided to turn around and head back to the boat launch. Unfortunately this meant once again throwing ourselves against the current, this time with a wicked head wind. Ugh! For twice as long as we paddled down stream we worked our way back. You could tell that we were tiered and ready to be done because we stopped talking much and really gave up on good technique. Eventually we slogged our way onto the boat dock and lugged our canoe and tired limbs to the car. Oh what a day on the river!

The day brings to mind a scene favorite scene from “the Wind in the Willows” where Ratty takes Mole on is first ride in a boat. The two head off to a pic nic down river and Mole is over the moon with excitement about his new life.The way in which ole Ratty describes his life on the river is much how I felt upon reflection of the prospect of spending weeks on rivers come this summer.

“It’s brother and sister to me, and aunts, and company, and food and drink, and (naturally) washing. It’s my world and I don’t want any other. What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t  know is  not worth knowing. Lord! the times we’ve had together! Whether in winter or summer, spring or autumn, it’s always got is fun and its excitements…”

Well put Ratty, well put indeed.

A day spent planting things is a day well spent

My new Fig and Lemon trees!

My new Fig and Lemon trees!

I have come to say that any sunny calm day not spent canoeing is a waste of a day. But I stand corrected. A day spent planting and growing things is just as fine a day as one spent paddling around a lake in my canoe.

I woke up this morning to a gloomy view out my window. For the fifth straight day clouds covered Boston and rain fell with a slow pitter patter. By late morning the rain had stopped but the clouds remained. The air was warm however, warm and humid. Not the most motivating weather I’m afraid. But by late morning I roused myself enough to take a little trip to a local farm.

Alendale farm is the largest functioning farm in Boston. And its only about two and a half miles from my house. I have of late been spending more and more time on our little balcony porch that looks out over our street. Its a pleasant spot with a nice little bench and a great many flower pots. I am currently re-reading the Lord of the Rings, which is quite fantastic. But I have found that if I wait until bed time to read I just fall asleep after a couple of pages. Thus, I read now out on the porch when I get home from work. I have really grown to love the spot. But it has been in a bit of a state of disarray. Many of the pots had nothing growing in them and more were broken and falling apart. I’ve been thinking for some time that it would be good to clean it up a bit.

Last night we had the good fortune to come into possession of a fig tree and a

Its got little Figs!

Its got little Figs!

Meyer Lemon tree. These two acquisitions were exactly what I needed to get my act together and tackle the porch.

I dusted of my little bike cart, struggled a bit to attach it to my bike as I always do and headed off to the farm. Now I didn’t realize that the way to Alendale is very much up-hill for most of the way. I have always been in a car the previous times I had visited the farm. So in the humid, sunless day I trudged to the farm.

Once I arrived I was so sweaty and hot. I had to take my glasses off because they kept steaming up. I picked up a good number of Pansy’s and marigolds and a few other brightly colored cone flowers. The ride home was by all accounts fantastic….being that it had such long downhill stretches. Once I got back on Center Street by Faulkner Hospital I got to basically coast down the hill. Given that my cart was full with plants and fertilizer I was able to get up a bit of speed. Anyone who would have seen me would have laughed at the ridiculous grin on my face. But what the heck! I was ridding a bike, towing a bunch of flowers and was about to do some serious planting. It was lovely!

garden 017Once I got home I set to work sorting through the existing pots and getting rid of the broken ones and cleaning up the usable ones. I started with the marigolds, planting them in a little hanging pot fixture and in a few other little pots. It garden 023was great fun and I quickly filled up a great many pots with flowers. I also quickly realized that I had bought quite a few more flowers then I had thought. So I was able to plant flowers in the pots on the front steps as well. Before I knew it I had spent almost 4 hours planting flowers.

garden 020After watering all my new flowers and adding some nutrients to the new trees I called it a good day and ate some toast with peanut butter. I then journeyed to Cambridge for dinner with friends and an evening of writing letters to prisoners. All and all a pretty great day.

While I was in doors eating and writing the rain picked up quite a bit. Luckily I missed the commotion and I my ride home was dry and mild. Coming down our street it was delightful to look up and see all the little pots and hanging baskets full of new little flowers. Once I got some water I went to sit out on the deck and just be amongst my plants. It is also nice, I always think, to take a moment to be clam and still at the end of the day. As I sat sipping my water and looking out into the night: taking in the dark sellouts the massive oak and maple trees cast against the neighborhood skyline. It was here that I garden 024witnessed a great thing. I was honored with the chance to see that moment, when after days of endless clouds and rain the clouds were swept swiftly away and the moon came out. It was like something out of a painting. The clouds were alight in greys, blues and purples and moved away in puffy wisps. Though the air was still where I sat, the clouds moved with considerable speed. I felt an incredible sense of joy at seeing such a sight.

The time sitting on the deck watching the moon come out caused me to reflect on a time many months ago…on another day spent planting things in beds and pots. Shortly after my father passed away I was overcome with a need to ensure that his garden did not go un-planted. I spent a long and hot day putting in tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, marigolds, and other little things. It was immensely rewarding and calming to spend that day putting in my dads garden. It was even more meaningful to spend the summer harvesting a bounty from that garden. Perhaps that is what made today so satisfying; it helped me to relive a healing moment in the wake of my dad’s passing. The garden and growth plants was after all very important to my dad and something that he and I shared and talked about quite often. That and baking bread and making pies.

A day well spent indeed.

Wake up! The Earth that is…

wake-up-the-earth-014This past Saturday I got to take part in a 30 year Jamaica Plain tradition, the Wake Up the Earth Festival. Wake Up the Earth happens each year just after Mayday and is a community celebration of the return of the sun, flowers and the awakening of the sweet, sweet earth after a long winter. Up here in Boston it really means something to finally be able to go without the long-johns and 5 or so layers of clothes, let alone enjoy a day out with friends in t-shirt weather.

won’t you read some more!

In the thick of it on Marathon Monday


I’m a little behind and I apologize for not posting anything about the fun stuff I’ve been up to. So going back in time a bit to April 20th we find me at the running of the Boston Marathon!

So the Boston Marathon is considered one of the most prestigious marathons in the world. It attracts top talent and to run you have to qualify. Many people make it their lives ambition to run the Boston Marathon (marathon runners are crazy obsessive). So to make the race bigger and to look like good community members the Boston Athletic Association who runs the marathon allots a certain number of spaces to official charities (they also makes slots for corporate and institution teams). Designated charities get 15 slots to form a team (they can acquire more slots through other teams and corporations who don’t use up all their slots.) My work was the first ever HIV/AIDS service organization to be named an official charity. To be on a charity team means that you agree to raise at least $3000. So its a pretty good fundraising tool, especially for a little organizations like ours. We ended up with a great team of 21 people!

On race day the air was cool and crisp. Good for runners, bad for those of us just standing around. Oh and get this! The army was doing security. Thankfully unarmed! But at one point the Boston Police were being real jerks.  Cop on a motorcycle was nearly running people over to get them to get up on the curb. A army guy looks over to me and says “can you believe that! That’s unacceptable! Welcome to Boston I guess, the most unfriendly place in the US). Ha! I just replied that it was more like welcome to the the Boston PD, par for the course.

I was in charge of the cheering section! We wore outrageously bright green t-shirts, shook gold pom-pom’s and waved cow bells (and of course ate lots of snacks!)

I was not prepared for how exciting the marathon would be! When the elite runners ran by I was jumping up and down. I think I may have teared up a bit! The top 5 women were all bunched up running shoulder to shoulder. Oh it was so thrilling!

Our team didn’t start coming by our cheering section at mile 24 1/2 until almost 2 1/2 hours in, but most came by around 3 – 4 hours in. Each time they ran by they came dashing by (some looking like they might be ready to vomit).

Check out the pictures!