5 Best Things about BOSTON

Telling a friend about my quick trip to Boston, I commented, “If you haven’t been, you should go!” And she said, “Why?”

At first I was floored.
I mean, WHY NOT? Boston is really cool.
Then I told her why I thought it was worth a visit.
Now I’m telling you.

5 Best Things about Boston

5. Boston is a clean and friendly place.

At one point, as my friend and I sat in Gypsy Place Coffee and Juice, idly chatting over breakfast, she noticed the view through the windows. Out on the street, a couple of guys in hard hats and vests set a cement mold, a young mother pushed a stroller, an elderly man carried a sack of groceries from Whole foods, a pick-up truck drove by with a dog lolling out the window…
“It looks like a movie set,” she said.
It did!

Aside from the aggressive (bus) drivers who use only the accelerator and horn, most everyone we encountered was kind and helpful. It’s my opinion that the couple of unfriendlies that scattered our path were not locals.


4. The Neighborhoods

There are 23 neighborhoods that comprise Boston, we visited at least half. From the North End to Dorchester, and Fenway Kenmore to South Boston, we rode, walked, caught a Red Sox game (with a grand slam!), ate and drank our way through.













We met a variety of people–bus drivers, commuters, students, baristas and bartenders. Diversity is as natural in Boston as the seafood. With so many schools and universities in the area, people are colorful, young, and wicked smaht.


Because we did so much walking (27 miles in 3 days!), we stopped frequently for quick breaks. Where better than a bakery or pub? The two of us would share a plate and sometimes even a beverage. Coffee, beer, cider, Kombucha…croissant, burrata, empanada, lobster roll. We sampled it all.

We stumbled across many places to dine, including Luke’s Lobster, Mass Ave Diner, and El Barrio Mexican Grill. But our favorite stop, our ‘neighborhood bar’, if you will, was Lord Hobo. Conveniently located between the train and our VRBO, we were walking past it anyway, we might as well go in! Nobody really knew our name, but they seemed glad we came. The waitstaff took good care of us–sharing recommendations and local lore.

2. The Beach

If you know me well, you are probably wondering why this isn’t #1. I get it. Trust me, number one is THAT GOOD.

When I booked this trip to Boston, it was for ‘research’ for my next novel. I wanted to get a feel for the local vibe. The architecture, the cultures, the communities. I didn’t want the historical tour of Boston. So we stayed in a residential neighborhood and we walked a lot. The idea of a beach never entered my mind. Imagine my delight when we took the Blue Line all the way to the end, disembarked at the Wonderland stop, crossed the road and found the shoreline! We were able to walk the beach all the way to the previous stop and hop on for a return trip inland. Almost like the crashing waves and setting sun were a dream.





















(drum roll please . . . . . . . )

and the NUMBER ONE REASON to visit BOSTON is…

1. Public Transportation

Of all the places I have traveled, Boston has by far the best public transportation system. First, when we left the airport, we hopped on the Gray Line for free and rode to the Red Line where we transferred. For free. We kept looking for ticket stands, ticket-takers, and other places to give/take our money. There is no fee when leaving the airport. How cool is that?! Of course, the next time you enter a station, there’s the familiar gate or turn-style. But, a seven day unlimited bus/train ticket cost less than 22 bucks. Our four full days of getting around were covered for the price of one taxi/Uber/Lyft ride. We definitely got our money’s worth.

(Full disclosure, we did take a water taxi to the North End.)

The “T” as it is locally referenced, allowed us to experience numbers five through two. And so much more! Cars were sometimes empty, sometimes standing room only, never more than a seven minute wait. And the stations were clean and urine free.

If you go to Boston, and you should, make sure to grab a “T” ticket.
The greater Boston area, all 23 neighborhoods, will be easily accessible.

I loved Boston.
If you haven’t been, you should go.



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Search and Search Again

“Search again” is another way of saying “research”, right?

Maybe it’s the word-nerd in me, but why is the word RESEARCH – “the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions” (Google definition), prefaced with a “RE”? The “re” prefix is used with the meaning “again” or “again and again” to indicate repetition.

Research implies a first search followed by another search.

Welcome to the mind of a creative.

This blog was supposed to be about my whirlwind trip to the Boston area for, ahem, research, on my next novel. Instead, I was derailed by the inconsistency of the American language.

I started thinking about other “re” words. Reply, response, renege, revoke. Renaissance, remember, revolt, revive. Regarding, resist, rely, repair. There are a lot of “re” words. All of these words seem to have a “pre” to them, some sort of prior experience or understanding. You reply when you’ve been contacted. You respond the same. You renege on a preexisting promise. You revoke something by taking it back. See?

I was in Boston, having a GREAT time, eating and drinking (and thanks for all your concern on my Facebook posts, lol–obviously we vacation differently), and immersing myself in the local culture. For the FIRST time.

It’s true, I was searching, that would be accurate, but, researching?

I guess a second trip is in order.

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Art Loss

So, I lent two original pieces to a gallery for a Recycling Show.
Very cool, right? I mean, I haven’t been focusing on the creation of art-art lately, but instead have been trying to work through the details of book 2 in my Pandora series. It was an honor to participate in an exhibition with (old) original art. Pretty apropos when you consider it was a “recycling” theme.

First, I never received any information about the exhibition. As a participating artist, I was never invited to an opening. Time passed, I kind of forgot about it. Then…

I got a call from an assistant–not the woman in charge that I initially dealt with, but some lackey–reminding me that I should swing by and pick up my art. Oh, and by the way, one of my pieces was stolen during the show.


Yeah, sorry.

Who steals from an art exhibit?

Our cameras didn’t see anything.

Well, shit.

She offered to reimburse me for the cost if they could cover it from their donations.

Trust me, honey, you do NOT have enough in your donations to make this right.
Hand-created with found materials.

There is NO price.

Not to mention that you are a struggling gallery running on donations and I support the arts.

In an eerily calm voice I told her I’d get back to her.
I have not gotten back to her yet.
I’m not sure what to get back to her with.

Meantime, the other piece, the not worthy of stealing piece, sits in a box on a shelf waiting to be picked up. The poor red-headed step-child of the art world lingers patiently while mommy deals with her loss.

I miss my art.
I miss my Little Golden Book of Happiness.
I am sad.
Oh, the irony.

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I had a d’piphany this morning.

You know, a duh epiphany.

Duh (ˈdə), interjection – used to express actual or feigned ignorance or stupidity
Epiphany (i-ˈpi-fə-nē), noun – an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure

When something comes to you in a moment of brilliance and you are wowed by your flash of vivid insight…
then shamed because it was something that should have been obvious.

I won’t share.
That would emphasize the duh.
I prefer to focus on the epiphany.
And celebrate the fact that after all these years, I’m still learning.

May your life be sprinkled with epiphanies.
Including the occasional duh.

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The Year of the Asterisk

2019 is a year worthy of notation.
Whoo-hoo, right?! Where’s the party?

No party, my friends.
A year worthy of notoriety.
This is the year I officially feel old.
It kind of sucks.

Six months into 2019 and I’ve lost three aunts and an uncle. Special people in my life.
I carry the loss like a heavy shadow and weep for the family they left behind.
I’m mourning the demise of my son’s marriage and the loss of a daughter-in-law.
I know they will be both be happy again and stronger for this experience, but right now, sorrow whips around me pelting me with anger, frustration, and sadness.
I thought my dog was going to die because I selfishly let her get knocked up and the little bitch made twelve puppies then needed emergency surgery to get them out.
I have my high school reunion this summer reminding me that it’s been THIRTY-FIVE YEARS since I was eighteen. In case the gray hair and old lady bod weren’t daily reminders. Fuckin’ knees. Mentally, I don’t feel nearly that removed from eighteen!
And fifty-two will forever be associated with my launch into menopause, complete with full body ignition. That sheen you see? Afterglow? Afterburn! My elbows sweat.
Which might be a contributing factor to my bloated empathy.
And emotional outbursts.

Years from now, decades, even, we will be able to reference this time because of the associations. 2019? The year Aunt Laurie passed away. It happened so fast…then Rosemary, then Tom, and Jerrie. It was a rough period. But we had puppies that spring! Yeah, Miskey had to have a c-section. And it was really rainy, too–and cool. I remember we didn’t have our first 90 degree day until the end of June. And then we had a whole bunch of them which compounded my internal lava flow. Fuckin’ hot flashes. (Maybe emotional outbursts are independent of hormonal changes.)

Surely you reference time similarly?
Events cluster making those particular experiences a larger “x” on the memory map.
A higher–or lower–spike on the mental timeline.
A year marked with an asterisk.


Not all bad, of course.
But surely memorable.

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And then there were none…

A blog told in photos.

First, there was a very fat momma…

who had a very hard time with the delivery.
(story here)
But then…
after eight puppies and several days of supplemental feedings,
she felt better. And the babies were better, too.
(story here)























We kept them in a kiddie pool.
Until one day several found their way out.























We changed the pen to a bench and a board.

And it worked well.
Until it didn’t.





























A kind neighbor lent us the perfect corral.

They couldn’t climb out BUT momma couldn’t climb in…it was time to regulate nursing and introduce puppy food!

When the weather (finally) warmed up, we moved them to a pen on the porch.

We started with EIGHT…






















Our first pick-up was Luna.

And we had SEVEN.
Then Emmy was picked up.

And we had SIX.

Next to go was Piper.

We’re partial to Piper because she’s FAMILY now! ❤























And we had FIVE.

Blossom was next to be picked up.

Blossom has a special story–because of the emergency c-section her momma needed, the vet called in extra staff. This little doll was cleaned up and stimulated by a vet tech who fell instantly in love.

Then we had FOUR.

Joss went to her forever family next.

(her ear was floppy again at pick-up, lol)
And we had THREE.























Frankie, our only boy, was picked up next.

And we had TWO.

BUT, the BEST part about being the LAST TWO is that they went home TOGETHER!

and Cooper

…..were both adopted by the same family!

And then there were NONE.

It has been a stressful, exciting, delightful, challenging, and poopy eight weeks.
I can’t believe it’s over! I can’t believe they are all gone!
I’m very happy to say they ALL have wonderful new homes.
I’m also quite happy to say I am never doing this again.

I hope you have enjoyed this puppy adventure. 😀

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Permission to Cry

About ten years ago, I had an idea for a project that I hoped to gift to several of my friends who were dealing with deep and personal emotional trauma.

Using the package design skills I’d picked up at NIU, I created a box to fit the travel packs of tissues. It was printed with a lovely floral pattern and included a scored top that could tear open but then be tucked back in for reuse.

I only made a few and I gave them all away. They were well-received. I was encouraged to mass produce them and sell them to boutiques. Yeah, they were that cool.

On each box was a simple paragraph. It gave the user “permission to cry”.
Not MY permission, it said, but YOURS. It’s good to allow yourself to lay bare and emote. Sometimes that’s messy. Don’t let anybody tell you you’re dealing with an experience wrong. Cry, don’t cry, just be honest about how you are feeling. Okay, I’m protracting, the box didn’t say ALL of that. If you print too much nobody reads it.

I wish I had made the packages in bulk.
I wish I had a storage unit filled with them and several in my bag at all times.
I wish I could pass them out like hugs in support of everyone going through a rough patch.
A gentle reminder of something you can control in a time of emotional chaos.

I wish so many people didn’t need them.
Didn’t need it
Permission to cry.

So many people are sad. Experiencing loss, disappointment, and suffering.
Navigating grief is part of the process, a stepping stone on the path to healing. Things may never be the way they were before, but they can be good again. Different, but good.

I don’t have a cute little artisan tissue box to give you.
But YOU can have permission to cry.
It’s something you give to yourself.

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