Thursday, June 30, 2005

Tasty Barbecue in Burlington!

There's a new spot for the carnivores among us in Burlington--Lester's Roadside BBQ. It's been open only for about a month, but they already seem to have their act together.

First up: the ribs. When it comes to barbecue, I'm a ribs woman. If I don't like the ribs, I probably won't be back. After trying the dry-rubbed pork ribs, I've decided: I'll be back. Meaty and flavorful, they only needed a touch of sauce. The real surprise for me, though, was the brisket. Brisket is a real test for any place claiming to make genuine barbecue--it's often tough and stringy. Lester's has done a fine job of making that tricky cut into a well-flavored, moist piece of meat. The pulled pork also deserves praise, though the pulled chicken required a dose of sauce (or, in my son's case, a little salt and pepper).

Mashed potatoes were full of tater-y goodness, skins and all, while Jim raved about the collard greens. But don't laugh--my favorite side was the small salad with the house-made "Caesar" dressing. It didn't taste like any Caesar dressing I've ever had, but it was garlicky and salty and went perfectly with the chopped bits of tomatoes and onions on top of the lettuce. The cornbread also hit the spot. And it didn't taste like a piece of yellow birthday cake, as it so often does in the Northeast. (Just about everything comes with cornbread, and most meals also get two sides. Much generosity on the portions.)

In true Texas/southern fashion, you order at the counter and move along to the cashier. Not too fancy, but I'd be suspicious if it were. (As it was, we were a little suspicious of last night's special "West Texas Wings," because in six years in Lubbock, no BBQ joint I frequented ever served wings or at least never developed a localized recipe. Chickens are a mite scrawny out there, except for the showbirds raised by the 4H kids for the Panhandle South Plains Fair. But judging by the rest of the food, they were probably fine, even if of dubious authenticity.)

It's nice to have good barbecue in the neighborhood, because as much as I like Uncle Pete's (and readers from the early days of this blog--April, that is--know that I do), sometimes you just can't drag yourself down to East Boston after a long day of work. (And now Pete's is moving to Revere! More on that later.)

Mmmm. Ribs....

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Fireworks Start Tomorrow Night!

For those of you who like to do your Fourth of July up big, here's a list of local fireworks displays around the area. First show is Thursday night in Somerville, while Clinton stretches the holiday all the way to Saturday, July 9. Go have a blast! (Ow! Did I just write that?)

Pomegranate Dreams, Both Funny and Sad

Arianna Huffington's post about a drinking game based around Bush's speech last is great. I'm not much of a drinker, so I'm glad I didn't try this at home. (Though I guess you're safe with her libation of choice, pomegranate juice. That stuff's a little caloric, but it won't mess with your brain cells.)

(Thanks to Halley for the link.)

My Sign is on Showtime--I'm Somebody!

This week, the Showtime channel is airing a documentary about the Massachusetts' gay marriage debate called Same Sex America. It's really good--check it out. (And what timing! Way to go Canada!)

But what's really cool in a "this is my world and you just live in it" kind of way is that a few minutes into the movie--during the footage shot outside last year's Constitutional Convention--you can see one of the pro-gay-marriage signs I made for my husband to take down there! It's particularly visible in an early scene when one of the anti-gay protesters is screaming at the pro-gay-marriage people (AKA "The Good Guys") along the fence in front of the State House.

Jim (AKA "BSG," AKA "Big Straight Guy" among the MassEquality folks*) actually got into the State House all three days of the Con-Con (this meant leaving the house by 6 a.m. to be in line early--dedicated!). But in order to go inside, you have to leave your signs outdoors. So he'd hand off the sign to someone who would carry it during the day in front of the cameras. Such charisma for a piece of foamcore: My signs have been seen on CNN and other news media, and now it's in a movie!

Interestingly, each night Jim would come out and find the sign propped against the fence, awaiting his return. He'd just carry it home and bring it back the next day to shine once more.

I'm waiting for the call from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce about giving the sign a star on the Walk of Fame.

*Okay. I made that up. The folks at MassEquality just call him Jim. But it amuses me to say that.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Wanted: Copy Editor, Community Newspapers

I'm starting to think that no one at Community Newspapers (AKA parent company of the Boston Herald and all the local weeklies around the area) actually bothers to read their copy before it goes into print. Case in point: A story in last week's Lexington Minuteman (available here, at least for the time being).

In an otherwise laudable piece about a laudable man, Peter Celi, the Minuteman devotes a couple of thousand words about the retiring elementary school teacher--and manages to misspell his name throughout the entire article. (They added an extra L--it's Celi, not Celli.)

When I was in Basic Newswriting Class back in my sophomore year of college, a bonehead move like misspelling a name or misidentifying an address would be an automatic F on the assignment. Worse, it would be garner at least one withering comment from the professor, an old newshand.

But, hey, reporters are human, and I'm sure the ones who work for the local weeklies aren't exactly raking in the big bucks. And because it's a weekly, a printed apology can't appear until Thursday (the next issue). However, editor (and noodge that I am), I've emailed the paper twice asking them to FOR GOD'S SAKE, CORRECT IT IN THE ONLINE EDITION. So far, no response--and no correction.

That's one of the benefits (and occasionally, drawbacks) of the Web. You can change stuff. Get a fact wrong? Fix it. Misspell the name of a beloved teacher in a lengthy article that was meant to be a tribute? FIX IT.

(And if they correct it online, I'll let you know.)

Central A/C, SFNE-Style

I live in what is laughingly called an "unreconstructed Cape Cod." This means a 53- year-old box that needs a lot of work. Although I like my house a lot (I grew up in a classic late 50s tract home, so I like living in a place with an architectural style I can name), I have to admit the "needs a lot of work" thing is the real deal.

Growing up in Virginia Beach, my dad insisted we have central air conditioning. Smart man, my dad. All my friends liked to come play at my house, especially in July. Up until moving here four years ago, I'd never owned a home without central a/c. But this house wasn't even tricked out in numerous window units, as so many around here are. In fact, when we moved in the only window unit was a box in what is now my son's room that, believe it or not, is not set into the window, but instead sits in a hole the previous owners cut through the back wall. (I'm not joking. There's a hole in the back of my house.)

Three years ago, I arrived home from a trip to a friend's wedding in Texas. It was past midnight when I pulled into the driveway, but even in my blurry state I could recognize two things were different inside the house: there were two large boxes sitting on the kitchen floor, and the house felt almost ... cool.

My beloved hubby had gone out while I sojourned in Lubbock with our son and bought and installed two new a/c window units. One in the dining room, one in our bedroom. The real trick to making SFNE-style central air work is by setting up a Rube Goldberg-ish series of small fans that circulate the air throughout each floor. (I keep expecting to have to roll a marble down a shute or drop a weight into a tube to make it work, but all it takes is a lot of extension cords.)

Each summer, Jim makes tweaks to the fan-and-window-unit system, and each summer we're a little cooler in the house. I think he's really got the scheme down this year: Even during the nearly 100 deg. days of the past weekend, the house was pleasantly cool and, well ... pleasant. Proving once again that humidity is the mother of invention.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Once a Hokie*

I recently discovered my old college ring, lying dormant in the bottom of my jewelry box. It's pretty nice--gold with a garnet (my birthstone). I put it away years ago, because except for engagement and wedding rings, I never really considered myself a "ring person." There are "ring people," you know, just as some women can carry off the wearing of summer hats with dignity and panache. Those are "hat people." (Winter hats worn out of necessity don't figure into the formula of who is or isn't a "hat person." Otherwise all the women of New England would be hat people, and sadly, many of us just aren't.)

They say that the men's version of the ring from my school--Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg--is so large that it has to be registered as a lethal weapon in at least three states. I think that's an urban myth (though admittedly a pretty cool one), but it certainly was true that the men's ring cost hundreds of dollars more than the woman's version because of the extra gold. The woman's ring is smaller, more elegant. I think it could only be a lethal weapon if you fired it out of a Smith & Wesson .45.

So I found the ring, and I thought I'd put the old "not-a-ring-person" thing to the test. It's been about a month now, and I have to say, I like it. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I'm just older and my tastes have matured.

But that doesn't make me a hat person. Some things never change.

*For those of you who don't follow college football--a Hokie is the mascot of Virginia Tech. It's a turkey. Don't laugh. Ben Franklin thought the turkey should be our national bird, after all.

Strawberries--Get 'em, Got 'em, Gone!

The Massachusetts strawberries are in season. You remember them--the ones with red inside and out, instead of the middling ones from California with that pith of white you have to cut out or suffer through.

Check your local farmstand, farmer's market, friend with a farmlet. But don't miss out. I'll be the woman in front of you in line holding a couple of quart containers, mulling over whether it's considered poor form to start eating them in the parking lot and toss the green stems on the gravel.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

First Day of Summer?

Technically, it's the first day of summer, and in fact the temps are in the 80s today. Thanks to the superabundance of snow days this year, however, my son doesn't even get out of school till next week (Lexington latest of all the school districts in the area).

As a relative newcomer, I'm still getting used to the idea that summer "starts" in New England on July 4. That gives us, what, about 4 1/2 days of warm weather before the snow flies again?

Let's party, people--we're burning daylight! Tan while you can!

The Midnight Ride of Rocky Raccoon

Last night, I stuck a bag of garbage out on our side porch, intending to carry it out to the can this morning. My husband heard some rustling outside the kitchen door and called me over.

Investigating the plastic bag was a big, beautiful raccoon. I know they can be vicious (I've even heard of them attacking small dogs) and some carry rabies, but this fellow looked playful and--dare I say it?--cute. He looked very purposeful, scratching at the bag, no doubt trying to get at the carton of leftover Chinese food I knew to be at the bottom.

Jim tapped lightly on the kitchen door window, and our raccoon ran down the steps into the backyard. The bag had a small hole, but nothing was hanging out. I almost felt sorry for Rocky (what else would you nickname a raccoon?) for failing at his attempt at an exotic supper.

I knew we had a skunk living on our back forty (forty feet back to the property line, that is), but now I can add a ringtailed beauty to the mix. I imagine that might bother some people, but it actually comforts me to think I have a couple of furry partners keeping an eye on me and mine through the night.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Father's Day Revisited: A Father Weighs In

My friend Michele (the amazing biker) and her sister Kris (the amazing knitter) have a dad, Bob, who loves being a dad. He also has a nice blog called Flying on 2, from which this post came:

As fathers we try to teach our babies how to be kids, and our kids how to be adults. We find tremendous enjoyment in who they are while at the same time pushing, prodding, and sometimes dragging them along through their various phases of development. We make many mistakes along the way, but our influence is nonetheless very strong. Often we think our children are deaf, as we say the same things over and over with no apparent effect. They really aren’t deaf, though. It just takes a few years for our words to finally sink in.
There's a lot more, including some wonderful stuff about teachers and their roles as father figures.

I've never met the man, but if he's half as cool as Michele, then he must be a heck of a father. I really loved this post. Check out "Father for a Lifetime" here.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Oh, and Happy Father's Day, Too!

I was so caught up in the 21st that I gave very little thought to Father's Day, even though Jim is one of the best fathers in the world. (I kind of screwed up the 20th anniversary celebration, so this year took on greater meaning than it otherwise might have.) We did take him out for a nice lunch, so all was not lost!

My own dad died when I was 13. He was not a perfect man, but he was my dad, and I loved him, and he loved me. He and my mom didn't have the perfect marriage, but she said that he loved his kids (my brother and I) without reservation. It's been more than 30 years that I haven't been able to call or send a card.

Luckily, I can wish a happy father's day to my husband. I can also thank my step-dad for doing the greatest thing a man can do when he marries your mom when you're 19--he didn't try to take my dad's place, but instead became a friend. And I can give a tip of the hat to my father-in-law, who gave my husband a pretty good role model when it came to balancing work and family--something that paid off, as evidenced by the way all four kids dropped everything in their busy lives to rush to Virginia when he had a heart attack a couple of years ago. That kind of loyalty is earned, not commanded.

So thanks to all the fathers, father figures, uncles, Big Brothers, blood brothers, and just good guys who make our kids--and sometimes ourselves--a little better each day.

Restaurant Report: Pierrot Bistrot

As part of the 21st anniversary festivities, Jim took me to Pierrot Bistrot, on Cambridge St. in Boston. It's across the street from Mass General Hospital, and Jim ate there once before while waiting for me to finish with some medical stuff. (I'll spare you the gory details). Jim loves bistro food and has been working on perfecting his pan sauces, so he was dying to take me there to enjoy it for myself. (Check out this book for tips on trying this at home.)

Jim is not a big one for dressing up. I was lucky to get him into a tux (or "wedding costume" as he called it) a couple of decades back. (It's true: We actually chose St. Maarten for our honeymoon because Jim read in a guidebook that "ties are rarely worn on St. Maarten.") Fortunately, PB is one of those lovely places that can double as a romantic dinner destination and a homey neighborhood spot. The lighting is intimate, the Edith Piaf music mood-setting, but dress is casual. I'm not sure I'd recommend jeans (we wore business casual), but I saw some tourists come in wearing khakis and sneakers, draped in cameras, and the hostess batted nary an eye as she sat them.

Being a splurge evening, we ordered a little too much food (two apps, two soups, two entrees, two desserts, and two coffees--but only one glass of wine; I have the alcohol tolerance of a small hamster), but it was all delicious and a surprisingly good value. The appetizers and soups, in particular, were wonderful: chanterelles in a white wine, garlic, and shallot sauce for me (I love wild mushrooms) and the justifiably popular salad with pig's feet for Jim. (Fear not--the pig's feet come in battered pan-fried disks along with the greens. You'd have to know what they were to know what they were.) He had lobster bisque; I had cold potato and leek soup. We shared, we oohed, we shared some more, we aahhed. The chef came out to see if we enjoyed the chanterelles, because the dish was a special that evening. (None of the food is exactly SFNE--but Boston is more than just the sum of its clams, after all.)

The generous portion of veal short ribs (another special) was delicious. If there was any sense of disappointment, it was that--although our fruit tart slices (mine peach, his pear) were tasty--by the looks of it I would have loved the creme brulee ordered by the woman dining at the next table. But having yet another reason to return is not a bad thing.

We overstayed our meter by half an hour, but the parking gods were on our side and graced us with a ticketless state--a nice little anniversary present from the City of Boston.

Friday, June 17, 2005

My Baby Loves Me, Yes He Does

Today is my 21st anniversary.

You know it's true love when your husband gives you a genuine, MLB-approved Johnny Damon bobblehead doll for your anniversary, plus some beautiful Ann Taylor scarves, plus dinner tomorrow night here. (Please don't tip off the paparazzi.)

Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I love My Johnny, but I love my Jim a whole lot more.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating: Thanks for marrying me, Hon.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Now I Get It!

Call me a little slow on the uptake, but I wondered what the point of all the unseasonably hot weather we've had for the last few weeks was. Now, I know--it was to help us appreciate the unseasonably cool weather we're having this week. Life is all about contrast, isn't it?

Personally, I'm loving the weather today. A little sun would have been nice, but you can't have everything. I was out all morning at my son's school field day. I wore a short-sleeved t-shirt, while just about everyone else had on windbreakers, microfleece, turtlenecks, you name it. It was delightful--cool and comfy, around 60 degrees, no rain (though the skies threatened). Perfect weather for 400 kids to run around in for two hours--no fainting, no dumping of drinking water on heads (the kids actually drank the water), no messing with sunscreen.

Of course, if this keeps up, by next week I'll be complaining about the chill in the air again. Just watch me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Chicken Little Is Right at Home (and Really Cool) in Boston

This post from Adrants Daily, about a Boston-based "guerilla marketing firm" named Alt Terrain proves once again that you don't have to be in either NYC or LA to design marketing campaigns that are interesting and eye-catching.

The fact that the art in question is for the upcoming Disney movie Chicken Little either makes this ironic and po-mo--or just plain funny. (I mean, what?--is this aimed at the culture-savvy, sushi-eating 8 year old?) You decide. Either way, I got a kick out of it.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

My Two Davids

I have two Davids who regularly post comments on my blog. Because this is still a pretty new site, this means they're both among a select group who get extra coupons and 15% off their next posts for being charter commenters.

I don't know either David personally, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I would like them both a lot.

The first one, David from Katie's Papa, I introduced to readers a few weeks ago. He's a Boston area guy (and dad!) who has some interesting insights into photography and the visual arts. Check him out if you want a new or updated perspective on the visual riches to be found in New England and elsewhere.

My "other" David is a newer find, a man who's putting his money (and moving boxes) where his mouth is. Fed up with our current government and what he sees as the increasing incivility of American life he's leaving the area--Cambridge to be exact--and heading to Vancouver, British Columbia, with his wife to start a new life. His blog, David D's Loud Murmurs, explains it all better than I can.

His post, "The Piano Has Left the Building/What I Will and Won't Miss" has a fine summation of much of what's good and not-so-good about living in the Boston area (plus a very kind nod to me--I've been commenting there myself for the last few weeks), but I recommend you read his earlier posts as well. He's doing something a lot of us must have at least fleetingly considered over the last few years. I'm still enamored of the American ideal myself, but I give him much credit for having the guts to stick to his convictions. Plus, I love Canada. Good choice for a new home. I look forward to reading about his new life and invite you to join me.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Jesse Helms: No. 23 on the SFNE Official "Why I Love New England" List

I guess the fact that Jesse Helms learned from his buddy Bono that AIDS research deserves funding shows the amazing capacity for human beings to change.

I guess the fact that Jesse won't retract his wildly backward views on segregation or that "outside agitators who had their own agendas" forced integretion into reality before it would have occurred "naturally" shows the amazing capacity for human beings to remain racist troglodytes.

(Thanks to my BFAW for the link.)

Nerds--Your Secret Is Out

According to the NY Daily News, nerdy guys make better boyfriends and husbands. Having been married to an engineer and a mathematician (ha--fooled you! It's the same guy!), I can attest to the joys of being with someone smart, kind, and caring. Okay, so maybe gets he gets obsessive about solving a mathematical equation or debugging a MatLab program once in a while. I can handle it.

All you nice guys from MIT, Hahvahd, Northeastern, BU, etc., etc.--prepare for the onslaught. Maybe get a haircut or new sneakers, just so you're ready.

(Thanks to Michele for the link.)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Mark Starr-gazing

Mark Starr, at Newsweek Online, has an excellent essay this week that happens to cover some of the same topics (Massachusetts drivers, homophobia on tour, and the Red Sox) that I've been writing about for the last several days.

Starr does an excellent job of summing up why the Queer Eye episode, though seemingly a lark, actually carries real cultural significance:

Baseball, while tolerating great diversity of drug choice, has remained a miserably homophobic universe. Which accounts for why there is not a single openly gay player in the Major Leagues (nor are there any, to be fair, in the NFL or NBA either). And why a superstar would feel the need to hold a press conference just to deny rumors that he was gay. So it was a milestone, be it a meager one, to see Red Sox players evidence no discomfort while cavorting with television’s most prominent gay brigade. And to see the Boston Red Sox, with its shameful racial history as the last team to integrate, lead the way by letting the pink flag unfurl along with all the other colors that populate today’s Fenway.
Starr missed the appearance of the Fab Five at Fenway this weekend (a promotional tie-in with the episode's premiere) because he was at his daughter's graduation at Brookline High School. Where--wouldn't you know it--those same creepy protesters from Kansas showed up to try and disrupt the event.

There were, of course, counterdemonstrators with their own signs, a lot of shouting back and forth and plenty of ugliness in the air. I just walked on by. I didn’t feel a need to make any pronouncements on the subject. After all, on this Sunday the Red Sox, who in our town are the closest things we have to deities, had already spoken—loud and clear.

Johnny Damon: Caveman at a Garden Party

I must confess that until this week, I was a Queer Eye for the Straight Guy virgin. Of course, being the popular culture nut that I am, I was quite aware of the existence of QE's Fab Five. I could even name some of them.

Okay, I could name Carson.

I finally decided to go all the way with Queer Eye this week, thanks to the latest episode--the one about the Red Sox. (Don't worry if you missed it--they're showing it several times this week. As they say, check your local listings.)

How SFNE can you get? The team that gets a makeover is from Boston!

Accompanied by their wives, five of the Sox's finest--Johnny Damon (known around my house simply as "My Johnny"), Kevin Millar, Doug Mirabelli, Tim Wakefield, and Jason Varitek--submit themselves to the ministrations of Carson and gang. They get spa treatments, wardrobe upgrades, facial hair trims, back hair waxes, and lobster-and-mango martinis. All of this takes place in the spring training camp facility in Florida. (It was filmed back in March, so the episode's premiere actually took place while the Sox were playing Tuesday night.)

We soon find out that not only have these straight guys agreed to the makeover (or "make-better" as the Bravo Channel so diplomatically calls it), but they even play an exhibition game with the local Port Charlotte Little League teams whose field was devastated by Hurricane Charley. The teams get to run the bases with the Sox and receive a big check at the end ($100,000!) to restore their field to its former luster. Apparently Little League is a not-so-little part of the lives of these kids.

(There's more about how you can help the kids and the Sox's reaction to the filming here.)

I have to say, I have no idea how this episode compares to a regular QE segment. It can't be too similar, because the situation didn't allow for any cooking lessons or interior design. On the other hand, Jai got to sing the national anthem at the Little League/Sox game. Jai has pipes, man.

Given the current political climate, it was both bold and good-natured for five of the Sox's leading players to agree to appear on the show--and not one of them tries to backpedal by saying it's only because of the kids and that torn-up field (at least not on camera). They clearly had fun making the episode, and I had fun watching it. And let's face it: I love these guys, but they are one scruffy bunch. They certainly don't come out of it being true QE metrosexuals, but they do clean up nicely.

I was a tad concerned that My Johnny was going to have his locks shorn, but not to worry--he just gets some foil highlights and a sassy new outfit. After Carson kvells over Johnny's manly "caveman" appeal, Michelle Damon looks at him in his dashing new blazer and ready-for-the-yacht-club slacks and says, "Well, now he looks like a caveman at a garden party."

Which he does. Which is just one of the many reasons he's My Johnny.

To everyone involved, I say: Bravo!

Holmes on Our Range

A momentary aside from the consideration of all things NE and ME (as in, well, me) . . . .

Check this out. And when you give, please--give generously.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Was the Regular Headline Writer on a Coffee Break?

In today's "yes, details really do count category" comes this cautionary tale:

My friend Chris pointed out this headline in Yahoo! News yesterday: "Man Tends to Hurt Brother, Ill Mom." We agreed that it sounds like the guy has a penchent for beating up his sibling.

Instead, it turns out that the young man in the story actually looks after his seriously injured brother--wounded in those terrible Red Lake, Minn. school shootings--as well as his mother, who had a stroke. Shane May is a young hero, not a bully. I hope most people read beyond the lame headline.

This reminds me of another journalist gaffe that must have left the people involved gasping in disbelief. A few years before moving to Lubbock, a man in nearby Happy, Texas, (yes, it's a real town, not just a movie title), was burning brush on his property. Unfortunately, the wind direction turned and before he could escape, the brush fire overtook him.

The headline in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal:

"Friendly Fire Kills Happy Man."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

My Father's Face, My Mother's Face

All my life, people have noticed my resemblance to my father's side of the family. It's as though my grandmother Lillian, my dad, and I shared the same face with slight variations. At Lillian's funeral about 15 years ago, one of my great-aunts became visibly disturbed at my arrival--she said for a moment she thought her sister-in-law had come back to life.

My brother, on the other hand, looks more like our mother--a more slender nose, a narrower jawline. Besides having similar eyes, my brother and I bear so little likeness to one another that people rarely take us for siblings. (Not until they detect the similarity in our odd, somewhat dry, senses of humor, that is. Also a legacy of our parents.)

My brother and I have outlived our father by more than 30 years, and now that I'm older, I've noticed that I'm starting to look like our mother. Something in the neck, something in the nose. Is it proximity that makes us change? Sort of like people who claim to resemble their dogs. Is it that my body, my very cells are reacting to having my mother in my life so much longer?

I don't want to lose my likeness to Dad. It's one of the most important things he left me. (That, plus a basic distrust of gambling and the aforementioned sense of humor.) Maybe when my face stops this middle-age morphing, I'll come out the other side a mix of the best of both, with a good dollop of just me for good measure.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Lollapalosers on Parade

We're used to visitors in Lexington. Lots of tour buses with history buffs and families showing their kids the origins of the Revolutionary War. I grew up in a tourist town (a much bigger one, actually) and I appreciate the fact that I live in a place people want to see in person.

This weekend, however, we're getting visitors of another sort: anti-civil rights idiots from Kansas. Apparently these people take busloads of their followers across the country to show off their ignorance and bigotry in places that disagree with them. Sort of a "Hatred Roadshow" or "Loutishness on Tour." Worse, they expose their children to this behavior, creating a legacy of fear and intolerance. (I know some very nice, intelligent people from Kansas, and they must be cringing at their state's mainstream-media reputation, which currently consists mainly of these jerks and the anti-science crowd.)

The town has asked us not to hurl tomatoes or insults at these people, but rather to remain calm in the face of hate. I'm proud of how our town has handled the recent flap over civil rights for all families, so I guess I'll listen to the community leaders and put my tomatoes away. Truthfully, we're not getting locally grown tomatoes yet, so they're still a little expensive. It's not worth wasting either my hard-earned money or fine produce on these people.

Musings on Memorial

Is there any more beautiful drive in urban America than cruising past the Charles early on a sunny Saturday morning? East on Soldiers Field to Storrow, breakfast at Zaftig's (again--this time lox, eggs, and onions), then back home west on Memorial Drive. Rowers on the river, runners on the pathways, sailboats, trees in full leaf, dog walkers, book readers, strollers--both the baby kind and the leisurely walking kind.

I fell in love with this drive when we first moved here, and I always make a point of taking summer visitors there at least once during their stays. If you haven't driven either stretch of road in awhile, this is a great weekend to reacquaint yourself with this unique Boston/Cambridge pleasure. If you're not from around here, but plan to visit, make sure you take a few minutes out of your sojourn to enjoy it

Hint for out-of-towners: the Boston side--Soldiers Field Road and Storrow Drive--has fewer stoplights. But both drives are beautiful, especially early in the day before traffic starts to build. Also, the City of Cambridge closes most of Memorial Drive after 11 a.m. on summer Sundays to give bikers and walkers free rein. So plan accordingly. If biking is on your agenda, that's the place to go on Sundays.

Don't Hate Me Because ...

I got tickets to Coldplay, coming to the Tweeter Center in August. I'm taking the boy. Now that he's playing both guitar and drums, this whole concert thing is becoming more and more important to him. (His favorite band is Barenaked Ladies, which we saw live last year. And it's entirely appropriate that the son of SFNE should love what my husband calls "Boston's house band," even though they're from Toronto.)

You can imagine my panic as I was trying to snag tickets off the web and found that the first five minutes of sales were reserved for American Express Gold customers. Damn that plain green card in my wallet--not good enough! I was sure there wouldn't be any tickets left, but at 10:05 the gods of Ticketmaster released the available stock to the commoners. So I didn't get down-front covered seats, but excellent seats in the uncovered reserved section. I hope it doesn't rain, but I do have my snazzy poppy-colored raincoat from Lands End, so what the heck?