Friday, June 6, 2014

Done and done

We are free of that albatross of a house.  Mark was so attached to the idea of that house, but now that we are settling in to a great condo in JP, he seems to get it. We were greeted by several nice neighbors as we moved in, and have walked to restaurants, the new dog groomer and more since getting here. It's amazing.
No more crime reports or screaming on the streets or idiot pedestrians.

The last few weeks, I could barely contain my elation at getting out of there. I could see every thing wrong with it and every thing that still needs doing. And I just wanted no part of it; life is too short. Now we are planning a trip this winter and probably the trip to Italy we've had to put off for so long.  It was an adventure, I suppose, but I'm so glad that the weight of that place is off our shoulders. Those people have no idea what they are in for.
More this (Gan HaShlosha)  

Less this!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Why, yes, I do have the cutest dogs on the planet. They would have to be given how high-maintenance they are. 

Dante has decided he likes the King size bed.
All of it.  All by himself.

Lukas. Almost never messes in the house anymore. Such a sweetie, he'll just relax on his back for a snuggle anytime.

Leo. He is still a god.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lazy Summer

I was so pleasantly surprised to see some plums growing on my less-than-one year old plum tree!  Same as with the cherry tree, I've got a micro-crop! 

This gives me real hope for the future of the trees.  I waited so long to have fruit trees, so I am pretty excited.

Well, here is Lukas, all grown up. He is just over 10 months old now.  Cute and sweet, but not perfectly behaved. Yet.
We just have not been motivated to finish the front porch or do much else around the house this summer.  First there was the heat, then there are the financial issues of doing things the way we want to do them.  We did plan to have the horrible fence replaced, but literally couldn't get anyone to do it.  So the fence is falling over and it's incredibly awful looking.  We are not sure what to do at this point.  Maybe when summer is over, the fence companies will be more responsive.

Til then, we are off to Ireland for some culture, hiking, Guinness and craic!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Summer in the City

We were touring a couple of Colonial houses in Cambridge and as we drove home, stopped to take these photos across the river. Above is the Hancock Building along with the Old Hancock Building.  Left is the skyline and Community Boating on the Charles.
This is the porch floor all finished and painted. It came out really nice and we will order the railings as soon as we are motivated.  With summer here, we are more interested in having fun on the weekends!
Looking out from the porch during a huge thunderstorm at J and C.  This storm was part of the system that caused the tornado that killed several people in Western Mass.

Monday, November 15, 2010

This is a photo we took of the Secession building in Vienna. It's a great building with a great story: the artists who founded the Secession movement were rebelling against the strictures of historicism in traditional art. We had this photo enlarged and made into a 16x20 canvas. It looks really great.  The words above the door mean "To each age its art; to art its freedom."  We love having a tiny piece of Vienna in the house.

Last weekend, I cleaned out the back beds and planted four new perennials that I hope will take off next Spring. Then Mark cleared out a lot of broken branches and stuff out of the yard.  Other than that, we are so busy with other stuff, we aren't taking on anything in the house.  Soon, we'll break out the Festivus pole and decorate!

Monday, October 18, 2010

We are back.  And in accordance with our commitment to not acquire "stuff," we only bought things that we know to be useful and believe to be beautiful :).  In the useful category, I bought lovely valances embroidered with lavendar sprigs handmade in a little shop in Bamberg. I was really excited since I've been flummoxed by how to treat the kitchen windows.

Dangerously close to tchochke-dom is my pewter Koenigspudl and a little wooden poodle from Dresden. But every single thing we bought was handmade in the place we bought it, so that's pretty great.

Both beautiful and useful are the Bamberg beer stein and little handmade pewter beer bottle cover from Nurnberg. In the breathtakingly beautiful category are my birthday presents: a Versace bowl and teapot from Rosenthal. Now it sounds like we bought a lot, but not counting birthday presents and curtains, it's really not.

It was an amazing trip; we agree it was the best holiday we've ever had.  We learned a lot, we saw beautiful things and most importantly, we spent time with people who are very special to us.

Now I am very busy getting ready for the Vegetarian Food Festival, but I am also determined to finish painting the upstairs bathroom tile and tub.  The big painting projects will probably have to wait until November.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In Germany

We departed Berlin this morning after four busy days. On Day One, we headed over to the Brandenberger Tor (Gate) which is truly amazing.  And just everything is so steeped in so many layers of history, it can be overwhelming. We were advised to stay away from the Reichstag as it is SO busy on Saturday, so we walked over to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.  Yes, the Germans do not mince words. The memorial of dozens of concrete stelae in a grid but in random sizes and angles is a bit disconcerting. But the downstairs museum is the real draw.  It is extremely complete and personal.  It highlights letters and personal items of several people from the war years.  And somehow it doesn't get any easier to get to the end of each piece and see,  "was murdered at Auschwitz in 1944" or whatever.  One little girl wrote a note to her father, fully aware that she was going to die, noting how they throw the little children alive into the pits. It's really extraordinary that so much of this correspondance survived the war. 

After that, we went to the Kunstgewerbe Museum, trying to find a bit of cover from the rain in the Sony Center on the way.  We were soaked anyway.  That museum was just perfect for us.  Everything from Medieval items, to Meissen porcelain, silver work, modern and antique furniture, different types of glass, a special exhibit of pressed glass, jewelry and so much more. 

On Sunday, we started at the Berlin Wall and read about it and saw the stories of some of the people who died trying to escape. It hit me so hard, seeing what people would do just to be free. That was all they dreamed of.  Checkpoint Charlie and the museum is right there.  It was really interesting, showing how people escaped (or failed to), including a little hagiographic room dedicated to Ronald Reagan, playing in an endless loop: "Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"  I'll post some pictures when I can.

If that wasn't sad enough, we walked down to the Topographie of Terrors, a fairly new museum on the spot where the SS and many other Nazi offices and secret prisons were.  It was a very detailed look at the rise of National Socialism, from the Reichstag fire til the end of the war.  It makes you understand, to the degree that that is possible, how the Nazis managed to do what they did.  It walked us through each year, all the critical events, and what happened in each country that Germany invaded.  I was not in very good shape after almost 3 hours there.  We skipped walking the grounds.

And to finish the day, we went to the Judisches Museum. The history of the Jews in Germany.  Short version: life sucks, it sucks even worse, then you get blamed for the Black Plague. Then you make some progress, contribute great things to your country, fight in a war, but they still hate you. Things get a little better again, then they wipe you off the map.  It was a good museum though, lots of interesting things, the story of the Mendelsson family and all aspects of Jewish life. 

Monday: I wanted to get out early to get to Potsdam. We got there--it's rained every day by the way--and the schloss are closed. Christ. They have one open for all us dopes who showed up, the Neues Palais. It was pretty underwhelming for a European castle, but had some neat features.  We walked up to the Orangerie, and to the nicer, closed palace Sans Souci, then took the bus back to town.  We did our first foray into the grocery store and found some vegan chick'n patties and bread and potato salad for lunch on the train back. So we figure we have time to go see the Bauhaus Archiv, we schlep down there and they won't take anything but cash. Mark goes running around trying to find a bank and can't.  He comes back over 30 minutes later, so dispirited.  I said, Forget it, the museum didn't look that great anyway; I peeked while I was waiting. We can't believe how hard it to find a bank to get money, and how hard it is to use credit cards because ours don't have the chips in them.

So we walked all the way back up to the Kulturforum and then took the train to the Reichstag, where we joined the queu. Ended up waiting about 45 minutes, which is pretty good, and chatting with some great Aussies in line.  The Reichstag is mindblowing. You walk up this ramp that spirals around the dome with this crazy mirrored column.  The views are beyond belief and they explain the history of the building and how they rebuilt it after the bombing.  They carefully note that the "sham government" of the National Socialists never met there. We couldn't help thinking how fabulous it would be on a pretty day.

Tuesday, Mark's laptop power pack died so we had to go to the store and get one along, with batteries for the camera. So that got us to the Pergamon a bit late, but we got right in. We were in a grumpy mood, but the Greek and Roman and Babylonian "ruins" that are reconstructed there are truly amazing.  Still, we were out in just over an hour, and the line outside was long at that point.  We walked around Museum Island a bit, saw the Berliner Dom and walked over to the Neue Synagogue built in 1865.  It was a stunning landmark building on Oranienburgerstrasse with a gold dome, showing the new confidence of the Jewish community. But the Allies bombed it, a concrete floor was poured on it to protect the lower level and in 1955, the Communists razed most of it.  Amazingly, parts of it were recovered buried in the concrete floor and the front and the dome have been reconstructed. It's the same heartbreaking thing though. So many of the people involved, including the first female Rabbi ever, have their bio ending with the phrase "murdered at Auschwitz."   I said to Mark,  "Where's your god now, Moses?"  a bit of black humor from the movie "The Ten Commandments."

Had a nice lunch at an Italian restaurant there.  Then we went up to Kurfurstendamm to see the Kaiser Wilhelm Church which was destroyed in 1945. The minister was outspoken against the Nazis. There is an exhibit in the shell that is left and new modern towers now serve as the church.  Then we walked around Ku'damm as it's called and we realized they rip on Americans for being fat, but we've got nothing on them as brazen consumerists. Nothing but stores, some American ones, and something you won't see in the US: a currywurst and other food shacks backing right up to the historic church. Amazing.

We were exhausted, so relaxed for a bit, then went back out to our vegan destination: Viasko. Of course, we got lost walking there from the Ubahn. But we did pass a nice bio and got some vegan goodies for the train.  And when we got there, YAY. Fantastic German potato soup. I had a huge Gyro with soy meat that was amazing. Mark had a nice tofu ragout and basil rice.  Tried to get to sleep early, but haven't had much luck with that.

Got on the train at 8:20 for Dresden, hoping for better weather. But no. We walked to our hotel in the rain, and left our luggage til check in.  We got lunch, saw the town a bit and did all of the museums in the Albertina which is like half a block from the hotel.  We are just around the corner from the landmark Frauenkirche, and we have this fabulous apartment which is important because veg food is not easy to find here.We have a little stock of food in the fridge and I got my favorite snack from Austria, Erdnuss Flips!! (a cheez doodle, except peanut butter flavored!) We are relaxing all spread out in our little home.  And that's where we are right now. Tomorrow, we hope to have nice weather.

I did not want this to be an all-Nazi vacation. It was hard to avoid in Berlin.  I think it's hard to avoid here as well.  I am very much looking forward to seeing our friends soon and except for some things in Munich, I hope to see other sides of Germany.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Train Spotting

With renovations having slowed to a crawl, I'm wondering if I should write about other aspects of life on in Melville Park. After a year and a half, we love living here more than ever. I still wish we had less space, but we love the area. It's the urban life we always dreamed of; we go for days without driving our cars.

Wednesday, Mark was in NY, but we met up at 8pm to have dinner. Daughter C and I had gone to Cambridge to shop vintage and got a few cute things for her. Then I went to Community Boating and went to "Physics of Sailing" class, attended by (only in Boston!) about 50 people. We ate at Other Side which I love, but a HORRIBLE thing happened. After ordering the vegan nachos, and a raw vegan meal for me, and a vegan BLT for Mark, I looked at his sandwich and said, Is that real bacon?? And it was. Super sad-face. All I can say is that waiter was lucky it was Mark and not me who bit into that poor pig. They replaced it and discounted our dinner, but get this: Mark extracted a promise from the waiter to eat vegan for a week! He promised us he would.

Thursday, we ate Indian food and headed to Fenway to beat the Diamondbacks. Great game and a fun evening. Yesterday, we decided to hang out on the beach with a couple of friends for a few hours. It was breezey and gorgeous, but the water is coooold.
Today is Father's Day. We made tofu bacon and chocolate chip pancakes served with mango and fresh-picked berries from our neighbor. I made a gorgeous German Chocolate Cake for this evening. We are going to Coolidge Corner ("art" cinema in Cambridge) to see a film tonight. This is where we saw the restored Metropolis a couple of weeks ago, which was awesome. I think we are really pleased with our decision to enjoy summer here and take our vacation in September.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

New Kid in Town

DANTE, our new boy!

I'm becoming kind of a lazy blogger. We've been mad busy. First of all, last Wednesday was our 25TH Wedding Anniversary! People are really impressed by that. My friend Kevin started volunteering at a nearby shelter that day and called me that they had a standard poodle! A friend for Leo, YAY. I was practically breathless til I could get there to see him. I went with Kevin on Thursday and met this poor guy who had been found in the woods in extremely bad condition. He is not a standard poodle, but probably a labrador/poodle. We went back on Friday with our dogs, everyone seemed to like each other, so we took our new boy home and named him Dante. He is ridiculously smart and sweet.

We are also busy getting ready for the kitchen demolition tomorrow! No more white plastic cabinets. The plumbers start on Tuesday, followed by electricians, followed by us. I bought my kitchen paint yesterday. I finally remembered to buy the low VOC paint, and it's a light mauve, sort of a lilac color. (Sherwin-Williams Duration Paint, Wallflower) Here's the wall where the
base cabinets and sink and dishwasher will be.
Today, I finished painting the secondary front door that I'd not-quite-finished after we moved in. I glued and clamped a small crack in the yard sale chair I got for J's room. I've started painting it orange, definitely a two-coat job.

I'm not sure why I was so convinced that I had to hand-sew the trim onto the shower curtain. I machine stitched it on last week and it came out really nice. Then I started to hand stitch each little hanging loop, which was incredibly tedious. Somehow I ran out of loops, I don't know what happened to them because when my mom was here, we counted out the number I needed to sew on. I have to go back and hope they still have that trim.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Maintenance Worker

Today the husband told me he was going to bring by an associate of his who's in Boston for a couple of days. "But don't clean up." As if.

I got outside pretty early and got to work on the front bed, raking it out and--finally found my fancy limb trimmers--cutting back the rhododendron and evergreens. Spread several bags of black mulch--quite a change from the bright orangey-red mulch at my old house. It looks really nice. I also got the back "beds" raked out and cleaned up a bit. I planted one little azalea that has been a house plant for a month or so. The pupsters were out with me part of the time; they are such angels. They have learned so well to stay out of the street. Sometimes Tony the terrier will wander down the sidewalk and pretend he's deaf when I call him home. He's like my Grandma was, selectively deaf.

Anyway, I came in and straightened up the house. The husband brought his friend over, one of his favorite things to do. He hates how ambivalent I still am about this house. I think I'll feel better when the kitchen is in place. But it will always be a money pit, which is what I didn't want. I got a nice catalogue today with some really pretty Colonial Revival light fixtures, but too $$$. I have to get the lighting figured out for the kitchen and I seem to be on my own with that.

Well I still have my priority, which is travelling. I am working out our itinerary for our trip to Costa Rica and Panama this summer, and decided that we should finally learn to SCUBA dive. If now now, when? Right?