New Here’s (Me) Looking at You

Here’s me looking at you again. This time you’re going on and on about that relationship. You know, the one where she’s calling all the shots? Yeah, that one.

There are more over here. I’m told it’s worth it to get them all to play at the same time. I don’t think I’ll ever try that as it would probably make me throw up a little.

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Posted in Artsy, Awesome | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Welcome, James!

From probate to validate, the city’s Educational Consortium at James House won a $20,000 Beveridge Family Foundation grant.

I know, the probate-validate rhyme lede was a bit of a stretch, but the James House on Gothic Street was the former site of the Commonwealth’s juvenile court and probate offices before they moved them to Hadley. So, you can see why I’d go with tha-…no? Yeah, you’re right. Lame.

But that is good news. The Mayor included it in her E-mail update which you should really sign up for already. Here are the details:

The City is renovating the James House for use by the Northampton Community Education Consortium (NCEC)…The City has worked with local non-profits to create a central location for adult education, literacy and employment training and family support services.

NCEC partners include the Regional Employment Board, the Center for New Americans, and the Literacy Project. Also, community colleges and other “local institutions of higher learning” will be offering college readiness workshops and for credit courses.

This is quite a coup for downtown Northampton. Not only are we able to reclaim a building for an important civic use, all of the work is either funded by grants such as the one from the Beveridge Family Foundation or donated. The financial donors are Smith College, Home Depot and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. (BTW, Home Depot, I think your Hadley store is overkill. But thanks for the cash.) Here’s a partial list of donors and participants who have participated in the project so far:

New England Regional Council of Carpenters-Local 108 (Donated construction labor)

Westover Job Corps (donated demolition and construction labor)
Dietz & Company Architects (donated and discounted design services) – Kevin Riordan, Jeremy Michaels

Ayotte & King for Tile, Inc. (Donated flooring and labor) – Bob King

And from what I can determine from the online Smith College archives, the James House was originally the Young Women’s City Club, “The purpose of the club, founded in 1926, to develop educational and recreational opportunities for young women in Northampton, was carried out in programs (lectures, slide shows, music, book reviews); lessons (in cooking, crafts, parliamentary law, child psychology); social events (teas, dinners, dances, holiday parties); and volunteer services and fund raising activities.”

The NCEC is a return to the James House’s roots! I love it when a plan comes together. [Insert cigar stub at the right corner of your mouth here.]

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Posted in Awesome, Downtown Stuff, Of Councils and Committees..., The Higg | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Uncle Kerry’s Coming!!!

I just got this E-mail from the Mayor’s office announcing Senator Kerry’s upcoming office hours in Northampton City Council Chambers. Now don’t get too excited because it looks like it’s not Uncle Kerry himself but members of his staff. Still, it’s a great opportunity.

From the E-mail:

Senator John Kerry today announced that members of his staff will hold office hours in Northampton on Thursday, November 19th. The office hours will be held from 1:00pm – 2:00pm at the Northampton Municipal Building, located at 210 Main Street.

“…I want to make sure that we are helping everyone we can in any way we can whether it’s answering questions, helping them navigate the system, or showing them all the options available if they need help. It is more important than ever that everyone from Pittsfield to Provincetown knows that assistance is available,” said Senator Kerry.

…In many cases, Kerry’s staff may be able to expedite the bureaucratic process and bring attention to individual cases that may have fallen through the cracks. Staff will also be available to discuss federal legislation and important local issues and concerns.

Okay, it’s me again. You don’t have to act like you’re listening intently anymore. Here’s the MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE E-MAIL: No appointment is necessary.

Seeing as the Office Hours are really an Office Hour (that government sure does take a bite), you may want to get there ahead of time to make sure you get in for your chat.

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Satisfying.

I love watching people enjoy themselves especially if they’re Muppets and Ricky Gervais.  Thank you and a long overdue cocktail go to Michael Kusek for pointing this out to all.

And despite not understanding one word of Elmo’s portion of the song at the end, I’ve been humming “Set Your Piggies Free” for going on fourteen hours straight now.

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Remember When…

(…I used to blog?  Shut up.)

The draping of Henry and Willa.

I know we’re supposed to be acknowledging another anniversary lately and distilling down to the fraction of an approval rating what Obama has done for us lately (plenty, but that’s a blog post for another day), but at our house we’re honoring another day of infamy.  On November 2, 2008, my cat Henry was stolen from in front of my home by a well-meaning but misguided soul and taken to live in Chicopee.

Two weeks later, the call came in that would eventually lead to Henry’s return home.  Here is the reprise from November 2008:

“I know where your cat is,” the woman’s voice on the other end of the phone said.

“Where?”, I asked.

“Chicopee.”

“That’s not my cat,” I replied, disappointment settling in my stomach, beating out the hope that shot up a moment ago. “Henry went missing in Northampton.”

“I know! He got picked up in a parking lot in Easthampton,” the voice explained.

“Easthampton?” Well, we do live along the bike path that follows the railroad. Maybe Henry worked his way down route 5 over the course of the last two weeks, crossed over it, went scavenging along the riverbank for a few days before turning up in Big E’s parking lot…”Easthampton? I don’t know.”

“I’m sure it’s him. He’s pretty distinctive looking. I saw the photos you posted on Craig’s List,” the voice was getting rather animated now. In between drags on a cigarette she said her name was Linda and had just delivered some cat food to a woman in Chicopee who has a lot of cats, twelve of them, make that thirteen with the arrival of the latest cat. From here on in, we’ll refer to her as CCL, Crazy Cat Lady.

“He’s got the black nose and the black mark on his head and everything. But listen, her daughter-in-law took him to the vet and spent about three hundred bucks on shots for him.”

“Henry has all of his shots. He doesn’t need any. Did the vet scan him? Because Henry has a microchip.”

“No! That’s the thing! The vet didn’t scan ‘im! I’d be pissed if I were you.”

OK – cut to the chase. Linda told me she was going back over to CCL’s house to get a better look at the new cat and she’d call me back then. Me? I get in the River van and hurtle back towards Northampton to pick up Jaime and be ready to go to Chicopee. Time was of the essence, not only did I want Henry back as soon as possible, but I had to be in Ashfield that night for a performance of Irma Vep. I had an hour and a half to drive to Chicopee, ID Henry, bring him home, and then drive to Ashfield. Just enough.

On the drive down Bay Road, the phone rings again. It’s Linda calling from CCL’s house.

“Does he have a black spot on his right hind leg?”

“I don’t know. What color are his eyes?”

“They’re kind of yellow-gold. And there’s a speck of brown in one of ‘em.”

“That’s Henry!!! That’s him!” The vet had shown me how Henry’s eye was changing slightly with age at his last check-up.

“Here, you should talk to Diane (CCL), she can tell you how to get here to see for yourself.”

An even more tobacco jerked voice gets on the phone, “My daughter-in-law is gonna be so upset! She loves this cat. She found him in a parking lot in Northampton.”

“Northampton? She found him in Northampton?”

“Yeah. But here’s the thing, she spent about three hundred bucks on him because I won’t take any strays that don’t have their shots! I have twelve cats and can’t risk one of ‘em gettin’ sick.”

“Yeah, Linda told me about that. How about I split it with her if it’s really Henry?”

“I hate to ask, but could you do the whole thing? We’re really tight.”

At this point, I just wanted my cat back so I said I’d bring along a check.

“Oh, a check? Not that I don’t trust you. I do. But could you bring cash? I have the receipt right here in front of me. It’s for $256.20 at the Easthampton Animal Hospital.”

“OK, if it’s Henry, I’ll give you the cash.” She tells me how to find her house in Chicopee and then Linda gets back on. “If you get lost, call my cell phone.”

With more assurance it was him, I sped just a touch over 35mph towards home.

I dropped off the van at the station where Jaime was waiting for me in our car. It was 4:37pm. I have to be in Ashfield at six. We set off for Chicopee. On the way, Jaime calls her mom, who we live with, to tell her the tentative good news and the price tag attached. She doesn’t think we should pay it, but she’s not with us in the car to come along as our heavy so she doesn’t get a vote.

We pull up to CCL’s house and Linda’s outside waiting for us along with the daughter-in-law Jennifer. They escort us inside where the first three of the thirteen cats welcome us. I immediately notice the surprising lack of litterbox smell in a house with so many cats.

“Your house sure doesn’t smell like a Crazy Cat Lady house,” I report.

“No, no. I’m very, very good to them and keep it all very clean,” CCL proudly proclaims. She’s petite and perched on a straight-back chair in her dining room across from a table with three different bowls of fanciful fake fruit on display and two cats sitting on opposite ends cleaning themselves.

“This is Morris,” she says, introducing a, yes, orange tabby cat who was butting his head against my hip. Next to CCL’s chair is a closet door that’s open and inside, crouched way, way down is…my Henry!!!

“Henry!!! Oh, Henry!” Jaime and I exclaim.

“Where did you find him?” I ask.

Jennifer, the daughter-in-law, pipes up, “You know the parking lot on King Street? Near the Dunkin’ Donuts? There near the dumpster.”

“On the Dunkin’ Donuts side of King Street?”

“No, the other side. He just walked right up to me. And it was raining. I felt so bad for him.”

I think to myself that the parking lot she referred to is the one that’s no more than 35-feet from our house but since I just want to get out of there with my cat, Jaime and no trouble, I nod and smile, “Oh, I see.”

CCL reprimands me from the chair, “Don’t let him out! Cats shouldn’t go outside. Promise me that you’ll never let him out again!”

Again, I nod and smile and do a little “Well, gee, it’s hard, you know, Henry loves being outside” duck and cover.

“I don’t care! He’s gonna get hit by a car! None of mine go out. I don’t care if he has a collar on next time. If she sees him, she’s gonna take him!”

This last declaration sets off the panic alarm in my tummy and Jaime’s as well because she immediately reaches in and picks Henry up and starts heading for the door.

“Wait! Take a carrier! You’ll need a carrier!” CCL is up off her chair now and heading to the porch. “But bring it back soon because I need it.”

I really didn’t want to take the carrier but figured if I didn’t, the final chapter of Henry’s return would include a scene of me screaming in pain with a yowling cat attached to the side of my face and Jaime covering her face in her hands as we careen off the I-91 connector.

“OK, thanks. We’ll take the carrier.”

“Of course, you will! And remember, don’t let him out!”

“Heh, heh. We’ll try. Heh. Jaime, get the door.”

So to make a short story long, Henry’s home!!! Picked up, some might say stolen, from within sight of our house, by a well-intentioned, good-hearted yet misguided soul.

Oh, and she picked him up, some still might say stole him, on the day he went missing. So he was in Chicopee with his dozen tabby brethren and sistren for a full two weeks.

Now as an epilogue, I did call Easthampton Animal Hospital asking about the stray that came in on November 3rd. The woman who answered remembered him, “Was his name Oreo?” she inquired.

“Yes, they named him Oreo. But his name is really Henry. Does Easthampton Animal Hospital have the equipment to scan for a microchip?” I politely ask.

“Yes,” she said.

“Why didn’t Henry get scanned?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “I just sit at the front desk.”

Now I know, every person with a backbone would have said, “Well, may I please speak with the person who might know?” But I don’t really have one of those, freak accident in high school. Horrible story. So I said, “Oh, okay.” And hung up the phone.

Now Henry still spends his days indoors and out but now has his fancy new collar and bright shiny medallion that reads his name, my phone number, and our address.

But please, just because a friendly uncollared kitty approaches you doesn’t mean he’s a stray. Remember, all who wander are not lost.

EPILOGUE:  One year later, Henry has been through three collars.  Every time he comes home without it, I run right out to Dave’s Soda and Pet Food City(!) for another one.  Because every week, seriously – every week, I get a phone call from a well-meaning yet misguided soul saying, “I have your cat out here on the bike path,” to which I respond, “Yes, thank you.  Our house is right on the bike path.  Henry enjoys spending his afternoons there.”  If he didn’t have his collar, he’d be taken on a weekly basis.  I’m thinking of posting fliers that read, “NOT LOST” with a photo of Henry.

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These are the Beasties in My Neighborhood.

It’s not as good a pic as Carol Lollis shot for the Gazette, but I was there to eyewitness the hawk disemboweling the squirrel.

We were driving home from the River Vally Coop when we saw the crowd begin to gather on King Street around the corner from our house.  Deciding to leave the small dog at home, we hightailed it (I’d say pardon the pun but I’m not sorry for it) over to see the fuss and mess the Red-tailed Hawk caused.

That bird of prey was delighting in its meal, standing on the splayed hindquarters of the squirrel for some leverage as it wrenched its head up pulling out one beakful of entrails after another.

CIMG5072

The next morning while I was out on the new bike path parallel to King Street, walking the dogs, I saw the hawk up in a tree over Market Street.  While I was staring at it, Jack Finn of A2Z whose parking lot I always use as my egress off said bike path, explained that sometimes hawks like that one come into town when they’re getting older and can’t hunt like they used to.  So they retire to the city to find easier, more densely settled prey, usually by the new Taco Bell/KFC.  That original recipe goes straight to a little gray squirrel’s hips and weighs him down.

The image is all blurry because I used the digital zoom, not because I was scared the raptor was going to fly at my face or anything.

I mean, look how clear this baby turned out!  And I was like BAM! all in that spider’s FACE!

CIMG5079

She lived on our bathroom wall for a while in a very impressive web.  I gave her a few days to spell out her intentions but after two days’ worth of empty web, I trapped and released her to the side yard.  Oh!  And slaughtered that pig.

Any ideas what kind of spider she is?

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Posted in Awesome, Cheap Eats | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

SHREW – LIKE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN HER.

Or me, for that matter.  I mean, I’ll be in a skirt or dress the entire time.

shrew-poster-FINAL5-662x1023

Seriously, this production is a new take on one of Shakespeare’s more…traditional plays.  Tickets are going fast and limited because we’re placing the audience in chairs on the stage of the Pines Theater with the play taking place on the hillside beyond.

Tickets’re on sale right now right here.

I hope you can make it.

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Posted in Artsy, Awesome, Projects | 1 Comment

Willa Wrastling

This is how we spend our rainy afternoons up on the second floor of Edwards Square.

The favorite part of the wrastle is Willa’s tail. It wags on a scale between absolute joy and deep contemplation.

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Posted in Awesome, Flip Happy, Willa | Tagged , | 2 Comments

I AM NOT IN WINNIE THE POOH.

Repeat.

I am not in Winnie the Pooh.

But these people are and it’s going to be awesome.

114

Opening day is tomorrow, Wednesday, at the Mendenhall Center for the Arts on Green St. in ‘Hamp and showtime is 10:30am.

I will be in Chicken Little which runs July 22 – 25 and Pinocchio which runs August 5 – 8.

I was all set to be in the full season of PaintBox this year but then thought I was going to NYC with another show for the run of Winnie. But then all those plans fell through and blahblahblah yadda yadda yadda Bob’s your uncle, I’ll be in the audience for Winnie, and happily so. Sometimes it’s just nice to be on the other side of the stage for a change.

OK, break time’s over, everyone. Back to work.

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Posted in Artsy, PaintBox Yo. | 2 Comments

All About the Pole Position

I came across a rather innovative home accessory today. Ever see one of these?

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Posted in Artsy, Awesome, Downtown Stuff, Flip Happy | 7 Comments
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