Category Archives: Massachusetts

Land of the Free

Well, we’re back on the road again! I’m writing this from the airport as we prepare to fly off to Dublin ((many) pints ‘o Guinness, here we come!). It was a whirlwind two month break from our global travels to do a little more fun stuff back home in the good ‘ole USofA. We came back for some very important events (a couple phenomenal weddings and even a P-town bear week bachelorette), and managed to fit in lots of things we missed whilst abroad. So we thought we’d give you a very brief update on some of the highlights of our trip, as well as introduce you to some old favorites and new finds from our visit to the homeland!

Our trip to the states had us landing in our “home” of Los Angeles. While we have no actual home to speak of (and I mean literally, even our mailing address no longer exists as my parents just sold their home!), our friends were very generous in letting us crash for much of our time (we love you guys!!!). Of course a big highlight for us was getting our LA grub on. While we love all food, Asian especially, we were beyond excited to get our hands on some of our local favorites. The very first day we arrived we hit some serious bases with a breakfast of bagels, lunch of Mexican food, and of course In’N’Out for dinner. Solid.

We also checked out a few new spots. We visited our wonderful friends Jamie and Eric over at their new restaurant: Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese. Delish. And while Greeny is cooking up some fancy and fabulous takes on grilled cheese, it’s really hard to pass up the classic grilled cheese with a side of perfectly seasoned tomato soup. Seriously comfort food at its max. And speaking of Max, we were thrilled to meet their adorable new arrival, Max, who joined the world while we were off in Asia.

I was quickly reminded of just how “LA” LA can be when visiting the new(ish) spot: Kreation on Montana in Santa Monica. No offense, and you all know I defend LA to the death against all those (crazy) haters, but this is one of those places that makes people despise LA. I overheard someone ask the waiter (literally), “Do you have a juice that would make me happy?” (Cue Valley Girl dialect.) Granted the menu invited this (with items like “Energy,” “Relax,” “Skinny,” and “Rosy Aura”), but… I mean. If there was any doubt I had made it back to the wacky world that is LA-LA-Land, I saw one lady pushing her pint-sized pup in a stroller and another carrying hers in a purse. Better yet, while getting a manicure in anticipation of Jenny’s wedding, I overheard the most absurd LA woman that might exist. She was, and I quote her directly now, “an Hermes and Chanel girl” who would “not be caught dead in” other lowly designers’ wears. She complained about her dinner plans for fear of the Paparazzi and proceeded to look at a woman roughly thirty pounds heavier than she and say, “oh my god, you’re so skinny, I’m so fat I just gained ten pounds.” But the best story of all, a friend told me she offered some food to a homeless man and he declined, telling her he was on a raw food diet.

We also joined friends to watch Swingers at Cinespia, the famed movie screenings at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. It was pretty damn awesome. Man, we love LA. We also enjoyed our friends’ pups. And spotting a woman on a pay phone! I’ve not seen one of these in use in ages! (It’s the small things in life…)

See the Practical Info section, below, for some more of our favorite eats along the way and across the country.

But the highlight of LA was for sure Jen and Albert’s wedding. Absolutely stunning. The wedding and the bride! Seriously, how gorgeous was she!? An absolute modern fairytale princess. That Albert is a lucky man, I tell ya. Also, after six months of embracing what my friends now endearingly refer to as my “traveler fugly” phase (OK the really nice ones call it my “natural” phase), I reveled in the opportunity to get fancy and glam and all dolled up. I felt like a movie star.

One of the best perks of quitting your job to travel the world is the time it gives you to spend with your family and friends, and we truly relish this. We flew back east to spend about three weeks with all sorts of family…

…Staying with Alan’s brother Kenny in New Jersey (and visiting some friends in New York while there)…

…Visiting my family in Maine for the final nights in our cottage (which is now being torn down and will soon be completely rebuilt as their full time home) and helping them pack up and move out of my childhood home in Concord, MA. We found some serious gems along the way in that process…

…spending lots of QT with my big bro, Dev, and my dog nephews, Lou and Ryder (I am obsessed)…

…and of course eating LOTS of lobstah…

…and a massive family reunion at Alan’s mom’s house in Longmeadow, MA. It was so lovely meeting these more distant relatives and spending more time with those we already know and love.

We also fit in lots of good old left coast time. Obviously there was LA, but we also drove up to a wedding in Sonoma, and used the opportunity to stop on the way and check out the wine scene in Paso Robles. We spent two nights at a little B&B owned by a very strange proprietor. Long story short, despite the phenomenal location of this B&B, we would not recommend it. Largely because of overpromises (and false advertising!) that were not delivered on, and less so because the property was not as nice and the room was incredibly small. It’s just frustrating to sign up for something that’s detailed explicitly online and then reeceive much less than promised. Even more annoying that the proprietor made a point of talking about the amenities that she later failed to provide. Strange.

Anyhow, the real reason we came was the wine, and that, my friends, did NOT disappoint. We adored the wines here! It’s not pretentious in the way that some might argue Napa and Sonoma have become, and it’s still in fact quite cheap. Tastings are generally $10 a piece, the pours are generous, they credit the fee against purchases, they’ll let you try anything you liked again, and a few places give you a glass to keep. The wines themselves are fairly reasonably priced, though we did splurge on a few bottles. Is there anyone out there who can not splurge on a bottle of good wine by the time you reach your third tasting? OK, it was only our second when I started buying multiple bottles. Must find a home with a wine cellar. I’ll start with just a home. See the Practical Info section below, for some of our favorite vineyards, wines and restaurants.

Also worthy of a shoutout is Destination Drivers, a company that will send someone to drive your car around to the vineyards for an hourly fee. All wine and no drunk driving, yippee! This would in theory work out to be cheaper than the wine tours on offer, that is if you didn’t spend six hours tasting. Oops! What I loved most was the tackle box full of bread and meats and cheeses that they supply to keep you going between tastings. Yum!

After Paso we enjoyed Felix and Amanda’s spectacular wedding at the Kenwood Inn and Spa in Sonoma, and even managed to squeeze in a beautiful local hike with the groom just hours before he wed.

From there, we had a great afternoon in the East Bay catching up with Brian and Kim and Camilo and Hillary and all their kids. Alan and Quinn had a nice scat session. Afterwards I jetted off back to the east coast to help my parents finalize the move, and then attend the last of the wolfpack’s bachelorette parties on Cape Cod. This was my first time in Provincetown, and it happened to be bear week, which happened to be amaze-balls. Of course, the hot pink Lady Gaga wigs didn’t hurt. Congrats KP! So excited for her wedding in the South of France! Stay tuned for the blog coverage of what I’m sure will be nothing short of stunning.

Meanwhile, Alan and D-Bell drove up to Humboldt, then took the PCH all the way back down to LA, and reminded himself how much we love this left coast. Watching the World Cup semifinal games at Patterson’s Pub in Mendocino and then The Tap Room at the Lodge at Pebble Beach were experiences to cherish. Oh California, you beautiful beast, you.

And now, we are in Dublin! Stay tuned for lots of pictures and stories, most of which will likely entail blustering shorelines and big glasses of beer.

Practical Info

We will not try to cover everywhere we ate and everything we did over a couple months in the US. Instead, we will touch upon some highlights. If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Transportation: There are many ways to get from New York to Boston, including flying or taking the train. The cheapest option is usually the bus. We have taken one of the Chinatown buses in the past, but this time friends told us about Bolt Bus. It departs New York from multiple locations; we took the train from New Jersey to Penn Station and then walked the long blocks to 33rd between 11th and 12th. In the 1980s you would not have wanted to be here outside your car that would’ve been bombarded by unsolicited windshield washing, but now it’s fine. For $27 (2 tix), we arrived painlessly at South Station in Boston. And the bus offers WiFi and electric outlets.

Accommodation: We found a great Airbnb place in Santa Monica near 20th and Montana. We were less enthused about Emily’s House in Paso Robles (see Jenni’s rant above), though the location was nice in easy walking distance from town. The Kenwood Inn and Spa near Sonoma is definitely a splurge, but the rooms are beautiful and the pool is super refreshing in the NorCal valley heat.

Food: In LA: Shout out to our man at the helm of Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese on Melrose. Jenni covered this above, and when she was back east I returned and also had the Buffalo Blue. This thoroughly satisfied my buffalo pangs…for the night. Katsuya is something we crave when traveling, so we made a few visits while back. We usually go to the Brentwood branch, but it’s much cheaper if you can schlep to the valley. The happy hour in Brentwood helps to let you afford multiple orders of the spicy tuna on crispy rice and baked crab hand rolls. Poquito Mas is solid mini-chain Mexican. We would not assert the bagels compare to New York, but a fine place to hold you over is New York Bagel and Deli on Wilshire in Santa Monica.

In Santa Barbara: Rincon Taqueria (115 E. Haley Street). Hole in the wall, but good tacos and reminds us of wedding planning.

In Paso Robles: Dinner at Artisan was great. Il Cortile was good but not great. Di Raimondo’s is an excellent cheese shop. While wine tasting outside town, we made an enjoyable stop at Pasolivo for free olive oil tasting. The cookies at Brown Butter Cookie Company were the bomb dot com.

In New York: Late night pastrami at Katz’s Deli. A superb brunch at momofuku ssäm bar…think fried duck and waffles with mascarpone and a raspberry compote.

In New England: Of course we hit the legendary White Hut in West Springfield, plus the new branch in the center of Longmeadow. Mike’s (actually now called Pool Street Market) for lobstah rolls in Biddeford is de rigeur. In addition to the standard trip to Cape Pier Chowder House, I had my first ice cream at Goose Rocks Dairy, and Jenni, Dev and I had a lovely afternoon brunching at Tia’s Topside followed by free beer tasting at the Kennebunkport Brewing Company. Jenni gives a nod to New London’s subs in Concord, where she ate her farewell Concord lunch.

Wine: Paso Robles is known for its Zin, but we actually came away with an adoration for the local Syrahs and Roses. Overall, we were very impressed with taste and value. We tasted at:

  • Chronic Cellars – Nice, fun wines made by the sons of the folks behind Peachy Canyon (which, by the way, sells a solid SUPER budget zin available in LA). We enjoyed the ’13 Kindly Swallows Rose, the ’12 Dead Nuts Zin blend, ’12 Suite Petite Syrah blend (sold out, sadly) and the Tranquilo late harvest Petite Syrah.
  • Kiamie Wine Cellars – We loved the ’08 Meritage and the R’Own Style Blend. You can find their wines at Enterprise Fish Co. in Santa Monica (the Vinocata ’08) and the Meritage at Grill 23 in Boston.
  • Halter Ranch – I don’t have specific notes on this one as we mostly chatted about foods we loved with the friendly lady pouring here.
  • Oso Libre – Loved the ’11 Carnal GSM. Otherwise we were pretty underwhelmed (especially with the whites).
  • Terry Hoage Vineyards – Jenni told them that their rose smelled like armpits, but not in a bad way. As you might surmise, our tasting ended here.

We also tasted at the downtown tasting rooms of:

  • Grizzly Republic
  • Burbank Ranch – Solid wines here. Loved the Syrah “Sunset” and ’13 Grenache “Picnic Meadow” Rose. Runner up rose was the ’13 Syrah “Friends” Rose. Overall, the roses in Paso were dry and superb! The ’13 Arneis “Little Rascal” white was a nice porch wine. ’12 Zin Estate “Fall Colors” and the Malbec were nice as well, and Jenni loved the ’11 Petit Verdot “Wood Pile.”

Other vineyards that were recommended to us, but that we couldn’t fit in were DAOU (supposedly great views), Starr Ranch, Tolo, Jack Creek, Kenneth Volk, J Dusi, Ecluse, Booker and the Treana & Hope Family. Downtown, we had tried to visit LXV, where the couple running it had a wine and Indian food pairing party (so sad we missed it!), and had also heard good things about Pianetta.

May 25 -July, 22 2014

Longmeadow and New Hampshire with the Lawrences

We drove back up to Massachusetts after the wedding, this time headed towards Western Mass to see Alan’s mom for a few days. It poured rain that day, which was perfect because we had no intentions of doing anything productive. Alan and his mom watched some football games while I finished my book – The Marriage Plot. It’s written by the guy who wrote Middlesex, which I read a few years back and absolutely loved. This one picked up slow, but the second half of the book was fantastic. There was one simile that I so enjoyed. Eugenides describes a scene in which the manic-depressive character faces an emotional event, its effects thwarted by the lithium he was taking. The way he explains it is just magic: “[He] stood rooted to the floor. His eyes were filling, but if he kept blinking fast enough, no tears fell. As much as he hated his lithium, here it was his friend. [He] could feel the huge tide of sadness waiting to rush over him. But there was an invisible barrier keeping the full reality of it from touching him. It was like squeezing a baggie full of water and feeling all the properties of the liquid without getting wet. So there was at least that to be grateful for. The life that was ruined wasn’t entirely his.”

We spent our days in Longmeadow catching up on some much needed exercise, looking into visas for our international trip, and other fun and riveting errands like obtaining flu shots and dozens of passport photos.

In more exciting news, we met Alan’s grandparents, Frieda and David, for dinner and I saw their new home in Longmeadow for the first time. As always, they were wonderful company, and Alan and I came by again for lunch with just them the next day. Afterwards we visited the Longmeadow farmer’s market where Ronnie sets up a stand selling her jewelry. I bought a beautiful vintage piece from her to give to my mother as a gift. Since Ronnie had plans in the evening Alan and I went out to dinner at a new spot in his hometown – Max’s. It’s primarily a burger spot, and Alan enjoyed his Alfred burger, covered with Comté cheese, caramelized onions and rosemary aioli, though I went with the seared scallop salad, which was less impressive.

I headed back to Maine the next day to squeeze in a couple more nights of mom and dad time while Alan bonded with his mother. It was great seeing them (and Bey) again and I of course ate some more lobster and drank some more wine. My last night there we checked out a new restaurant in Kennebunk called the Village Tavern, which was impressive! We went super early and were surprised to have a substantial wait. The pan seared shrimp, sea scallop and lobster stew with truffle oil drizzle was phenommmmmmenal. The fried clam appetizer we shared was also divine. Highly recommend this spot.

That Friday I, Alan, his mother and Rich, aunt, grandparents, brother and cousin, each set out to New Hampshire for a weekend celebrating Frieda’s 90th birthday and her and David’s 70th wedding anniversary. The journey there was crazy for almost all. While I think Kenny, Leslie and Sam made it in relatively with ease, I heard from Alan that after getting a delayed start to have all four tires on their car replaced last minute, the five of them headed out on the highway only to have one of the brand new tires blow out while going 75mph. Yikes. Glad Alan was driving and safely handled the situation. Meanwhile, I was driving from Maine by myself on a route for which no highways existed, meaning a million turns on residential streets. This was absolutely beautiful and idyllic with the incredible foliage except for the fact that the cell coverage was in and out and my sense of direction is lacking even with my iPhone telling me where to turn. I made it there with no directional mishaps, though my own trip was delayed by the strangest stop I’ve ever had. I made a turn onto a one-lane road where I was soon stuck in a line of incredibly slow moving traffic. It was then that I noticed helicopters flying above, and cop cars up ahead. Then I looked closer and saw lots of black SUVs and men wearing jackets that said “FBI” on them. This is when I started panicking. I tend to expect the worst (often of people and definitely situations), and this is when I pictured a shooter on the loose and me stuck in my car with nowhere to turn. Well, it turns out, as usual, my imagination is unnecessarily panic inducing, and my life was not the one at risk. The FBI were searching for and stopping everyone to see if they had any information on a young girl who had gone missing the day before, as well as take note of everyone’s license plate numbers and ask them where they’re going, whether they’ve seen this girl, etc. This was my first ever encounter with the FBI and they must get some really good training, because I felt like the agent could see into my soul. My heart still racing, even after I understood why I’d been stopped, I had to ask him if it was safe to continue driving the way I was headed. His response? “I have no reason to believe it isn’t safe, ma’am.” The bellhop eyed me strangely as I was checking into a fancy hotel with a missing girl flyer in my hand. [As far as I know this girl is still missing. My heart goes out to her family and friends].

After everyone finally made it safely to the hotel we were able to relax and enjoy a weekend celebrating a very special woman and their inspiring marriage. There was lots of tennis played, and I was blown away by David’s skills on the court at age 91. We also played a handful of games. Leslie introduced us to a new game called Anomia, which I believe she said was created by an Oberlin grad. Really fun – I would definitely recommend checking it out (http://www.amazon.com/Everest-Toys-0001-Anomia/dp/B00363B5FC). I also learned how to play “Patterns,” which I guess is a family tradition where the group comes up with a pattern of answering questions when one person walks away from the table. When he or she returns, they ask everyone else questions and try to guess the pattern they are using to answer them. We definitely enjoyed a few rounds. I am always down for a good game.

On Saturday night we had “the” celebration and Frieda opened her gifts. The gift giving ended with a “rap” written and performed by her three grandsons, which was witty, funny and touching. Alan also donned his tuxedo for the occasion knowing his regal grandmother would approve. We had a lovely dinner (among several other great meals on the property that weekend). The boys, Leslie and I checked out the hotel bar “late” night and we were wowed by Leslie’s dance moves.

::one year of marriage : seventy years of marriage::
::one year of marriage : seventy years of marriage::

It was great spending this QT with the Lawrence side of the family, and to celebrate a woman and a couple whom both Alan and I very much admire.

New Hampshire + Massachusetts (Part II), and Frieda’s poem!

I spent some time in Longmeadow (Jenni went back to Maine for some of this time) where I grew up.  My grandparents moved there from Queens at the beginning of the year, so in addition to my Mom and Rich I also spent time with David and Frieda.  Then we all drove up together to Bretton Wodds, New Hampshire to celebrate Frieda’s 90th birthday (my fourth grandparent to have a 90th birthday!!) and her and David’s 70th wedding anniversary (my second set of grandparents to have a 70th anniversary!!!!).  I have some massive shoes to fill in terms of life and marital longevity 🙂

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Omni Mount Washington

October 6-14, 2013 (Sunday-Monday)

The masochist in me asked my Mom to tape the Giants vs. Eagles game so I could watch yet another defeat as soon as I got home.  Followed by a heartbreaker vs. the Bears on Thursday night.  Since Kenny is at Kellogg, we seriously considered attending that game at Solider Field.  I am very thankful we did not.

Time in Longmeadow included meals at Glenmeadow (the retirement community where David and Frieda live), working out at JCC, visiting the travel clinic at Mercy Medical Center (Jen was super helpful and kind and it cost $25 vs. the $95 I pay in LA), sending out personalized Samburu splash bash letters, getting large quantities of passport photos for visas etc. (we “borrowed” the white screen at CVS for background to use with iPhoto passport pic software), catching up on Boardwalk Empire and Bill Maher, a little tennis at the Field Club, MLB playoffs, and more.

I am elated to see how well my grandparents have settled into their new homes.  They really are extraordinary.  They pretty much never complain.  I may have already written this elsewhere, but if you ask how the Springfield Symphony is they never say anything like “it’s OK but doesn’t compare to the NY Philharmonic”.  They just say “it’s fabulous.”  You would be hard-pressed to find a pair who goes emotionally to that nostalgic sad place less frequently.  I also love how much my grandpa disdains white meat chicken.  If there is a menu option that includes chicken, as soon as the waitress says white meat he shuts down the conversation.

Burger quality was high in Western Mass.  Jenni and I visited Max Burger in the middle of Longmeadow.  This is a pretty hip spot where I had the half-pound Alfred burger with Comte, caramelized onions and rosemary aioli plus I added bacon.  I chose a Young’s Double Chocolate Stout from many draught options.  A couple days later I completed a solo mission to White Hut on my way to the travel clinic.  White Hut is legendary in this area.

It has been around since 1939.  While it is much the same it has always been, there were actually noticeable changes since I was last there.  They added a big menu sign, soft serve ice cream and shakes, raised the prices a bit and now accept credit cards.  It used to be cash only and they would always give half-dollar coins as change, if possible.  Most remarkable, there is now an Amherst location!  At the original, the flat top, metal stools with red tops and fridge full of Stewart’s remain the same.  As do both the perfect tasting thin and greasy cheeseburger with fried onions and the hot dog.

The Tuesday afternoon Forest Park farmer’s market was a welcome surprise.  My Mom had a u-shaped table set-up with lots of jewelry she makes.  The rest of the market was small but efficient.  Instead of several different types of each vendor, there was only one or two but the offerings still included lots of vegetables, meat, fresh eggs, seafood, dog food, jams and syrups, kettle corn etc.  Mom is kind of the mayor…everywhere she knows lots of people and is perhaps the most gregarious person you will encounter.

I'd direct you to her website, but...
I’d direct you to her website, but…

There is a Somali family that moved to Springfield years ago and my Mom has been very involved in their lives to help ease the transition.  Wednesday night we grabbed a couple pies from Pizza Works and had dinner together.  The parents were out, so it was just us and the TEN kids.  This family of 12 lives in a small apartment with ONE bathroom.  I helped Teta (sp?) with his math homework and then we bounced.  From my limited interaction, I suspect if these kids had the same educational opportunities and parental involvement that most of us had, they would be just as likely to succeed.

On Friday we set off for a long weekend in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.  I noticed my grandpa’s tire was very low so we stopped at a service station in Longmeadow where they convinced us to replace all four tires lest we have a blowout doing 75 on the highway.  This delayed us a couple hours but hey, better safe than sorry.  So we head up, stop in Brattleboro at exit 2 on I-91 in Vermont for the amazing Vermont Country Deli and then continue.  And as I am driving 75 in the left lane, wouldn’t ya know it:  TIRE BLOWOUT.  WTF?!?!?!  I guess they gave us some defective tires.  We called AAA but in the interim a true good Samaritan pulled over and backed up to help us change the tire.  He told us he was the youngest of 13 children and was raised right.  My grandpa tried to give him $20 but almost got run over as the man pulled away.

With that little mishap behind us, we exited the highway for Route 302 and drove through charming towns like Wells River, Littleton and Bethlehem before arriving at 4 pm to the impressive Omni Mount Washington Resort.  That night we had a very solid dinner at Stickney’s which is a pub, steakhouse and more.  The cheddar and ale dip was great, as were the ribeye and NY strip that Kenny and I split.

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My Mom had a great quote about my Dad, something to the effect of “they always said at Brown if you want to go out at night find Leavitt, but don’t ask him to cut class.”  I am not sure they really said that, but if you know Ronnie it was pretty hilarious.  Which reminds me of an even better quote that you will appreciate if you know Ronnie.  Last time we were all at Peter Luger in Great Neck talking about travel to developing countries.  And she said “that’s what I love about it, no privacy.”

91, I said
91, I said

Time at the resort included fun tennis games on red clay (shout out to David, looking mighty fine at 91 YEARS OLD!); live music and bar shuffleboard at the Cave (Kenny and I beat this couple 16-0, even though you only play to 15); mailing our taxes from the on-site post office; seeing the room in which the agreement establishing the IMF was signed in 1944; great lunches at the Golf Shed; walks on the paths by/through the golf course; playing a fun new game called Anomia; playing patterns, a family special that Leslie brought to us many moons ago; hot tub; and more.

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The property is gorgeous.  The lobby is a long room with white columns and hardwood floors.  I believe it would not be out of place in SoHo, except for the moose head above the fire place.  Breakfast was a good buffet spread with many options.  The service is definitely lacking.  The effort is there but the execution needs work.

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The time with family was fantastic, as always.  The three grandkids (Kenny, Sam and I) live in Chicago, New Orleans and Los Angeles but we all made it to this out-of-the-way destination.

The main event was Saturday night when we gathered pre-dinner for champagne and gifts.  I wore my tuxedo for the special occasion.  David and Frieda said what they are most proud of in life is their family and how well we all get along and come together.

Sorry to belabor the point, but I cannot stress enough how much I love and admire them.  My grandpa had his own animal hospital in Queens and did well, but the key is that they always spent on experiences and not goods.  They lived in the same modest house in Queens for over 60 years but traveled all over the world and spent generously on countless family trips and vacations and education for all of us.

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It has become a tradition for the grandkids to write a poem/rap to David or Frieda (and my mom for her 65th) for these major birthday events.  I have pasted below what we wrote, for your reading pleasure.  The night and whole weekend were a great success!

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Impressive pumpkin carving

For Frieda’s 90th birthday:

Once upon a time back in ‘23

The world’s greatest grandma came to be

Born in Borough Park, she was such a gem

Yes, a Diamond, and the youngest of them

Jennie and Phillip made a proper Jewish home

But when college came, it was time to roam

Cornell was the call, Balch was the hall

Grandpa was lucky, cutest gal at the ball

With flawless Regents she was a natural grammarian

And for her love of reading, became a librarian

From Alcott to Hampl, she knows good books

That perfect combo of brains and good looks

Frequents the symphony, she’s so cosmopolitan

Been to Burma, and each exhibit at the Metropolitan

Does crossword puzzles and quite the film critic

Packs a mean matzo ball even though she’s arthritic

Noodle kugel, potato pie and apple cake

Oh sugar, the lady can bake!

The number one fan of the New York great Knicks

After the roast chicken I be giving my plate licks

She’s so charmin’ it’s almost alarmin’

Always globe trottin’ with the Harmons

Aboard the QE2 it almost got legal

Accused of impersonating the Queen, but she’s just that regal

Silk shirt and pearls, parasol for the sun

Wears a lot of black and white, but she ain’t no nun

Nor is she loquacious, never mendacious

But definitely sagacious and perspicacious

Even though Migis threw a lobster-induced hissy

Grandma keeps us in good stead at Quisi

That’s no surprise since she’s always so classy

Brings the diplomacy when Ronnie gets sassy

She carries David in duplicate bridge

Despite that her man bought the wrong fridge

And so here we are, it’s been 70 years

Very few tears but a whole lot of cheers!

Now back to Frieda, there’s nobody sweetah

To join your party, we ran here like cheetahs

You’re an inspiration, a comforting soul

You bring us elation, and make us all whole

Massachusetts: Part I

We headed back “home” to Massachusetts and specifically to Concord (where Jenni grew up post-Arlington), Westford (where Devin lives), Cambridge and Tufts University (where I went to undergrad).

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October 2-4, 2013 (Wednesday-Friday)

This was my first time in Westford, Massachusetts, and it is a charming New England town.  And I highly recommend Meat Again which is a butcher and deli.  We got some great marinated meats and sausages that Devin grilled (perfectly) that night and I had my first ever buffalo chicken salad sandwich.  It was on a large, oblong sesame bun and was delicious.  That afternoon we went around the corner from Devin’s house to Burges Pond for a nice woodsy loop hike with the dogs.

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It is also the site of the East Boston Camps.  The weather was unseasonably warm in the 80s.  At night, Jenni’s parents and then Devin’s friends from Ithaca joined us for dinner.  I hit the hay after a Samburu board call to focus on the Splash Bash.

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Devin made pancakes and continued his run as a superb host.  That reminds me I forgot to mention in the Chicago post but both Kenny and Devin forfeited their comfy beds for me and Jenni…dems some good bros.  We went into Boston where I saw more Big Belly Solar trash compactors.  Then we parked in Harvard Square for lunch at Mr. Bartley’s, which is something of a burger institution.  There is a vast selection of combinations, including the Obamacare which is described as “NOBODY KNOWS WHAT’S IN IT!…ask the liberal sitting next to you” and the cost is listed as “$ Trillions.”  Out front was a chalkboard proclaiming “Order an Obamacare and we’ll shut down the grill and go home!”  I got the Gabriel Gomez burger and it was better than I remembered.

Harvard Square is a fun place to walk around.  I bought some Eagle Creek packing cubes at EMS and we scoped this public piano, which is pretty neat.  We saw more in New Orleans and I will write a touch more on the movement there.

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We took Mass Ave to distance ourselves from this cauldron of ignorance and explore the truly fine bastion of brilliance known as Tufts University.  The view of downtown from the library roof is still nice, and a police officer waived to me as though he remembered me.  The DTD house has been restored to, and far beyond, its former glory.

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It was so nice and clean that we had no choice but to question the partying credentials of current brothers.

But not this guy
But not this guy

After recounting to Jenni and Devin the three stories I can remember, we squeezed in a nice Frisbee sesh on the academic quad.

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I was relieved to confirm that Espresso Pizza is very much open for business, despite malignant rumors to the contrary.  After stopping in Concord to see Jenni’s parents and the deck construction progress, we went back to Devin’s and watched The Internship which was very funny.

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The next morning we took off for Newport, Rhode Island and Matt and Jaimie’s wedding!

I Love That Dirty Water

After Maine we went down to Massachusetts for some more time with my family. We stopped by my parents’ house in Concord for a bit, though stayed with my brother Devin in Westford both because Alan is allergic to our cats and because Devin is awesome. He took us to his local sandwich and meat shop called Meat Again, which had an impressive selection of marinated pork, chicken and beef. We picked up sandwiches for lunch and meats to grill up for dinner. If you’re near Westford I highly recommend checking it out, and get the Hawaiian flavored steak tips!

We took the dogs for a walk around Burgess Pond where the foliage was beautiful and the dogs went for a muddy swim in the pond. We had incredible weather – 80’s in October! Later, my parents came over to Devin’s with dessert and wine while Devin cooked up the meats on the grill. Devin’s friends from college joined us afterwards and it was so nice getting to know them, and reminiscing about Ithaca (Devin went to Ithaca College – and we overlapped in the town for a few years).

::handsome boy::
::handsome boy::

Devin, hosting with the mosting, woke up and made us pancakes for breakfast. We drove into Harvard Square and walked around, stopped for lunch at Bartley’s, which is famous for their burgers named after other famed people. They had an “Obamacare” on the menu. Under the description of toppings it read, “nobody knows what’s in it.” The cost: trillions. A sign out front read, “order an Obamacare and we’ll shut down the grill and go home.”

We headed over to Medford and Alan gave us a tour of his alma mater, Tufts. We checked out his fraternity – DTD – where I questioned if they were really the “cool party frat” given the cleanliness of the living room. We were comforted to see a red headed stoner in Alan’s former bedroom. Devin and Alan got in a game of Frisbee on campus as well, which I know brought Alan great pleasure.

::my hubstah in college.. he's changed a touch::
::my hubstah in college.. he’s changed a touch::

We didn’t do much of Boston proper on this trip, but don’t worry Boston you’re still my home.