Summer Wish List Number Six

It is, I realize, July and it is already summer. I tend to post my Annual Summer Wish List a good bit earlier, sometime in June. Better late than never, people!   In general, I end up with a dizzying list that includes many things I may or may not ever do (that summer). Thing is, summer has so many incredible events and fruits and a holiday or two and frozen treats… it’s a super nice time to imagine all the possibilities.  ...

Read More

Wonder Kids

  One thing that I found especially shocking when I became a first-time mama to a boy was the assumption that boys are genetically programmed to like trucks and balls and big creatures like dinosaurs. Some boys adore all of the above. Some don’t. The fact that my hip, politically progressive friends were in agreement with gender stereotypes surprised me, to say the least and disappointed me, to say this politely. I was nothing...

Read More

On Hurricane Island

Ellen Meeropol dreamt up a horror. She took a charged anniversary, September 11th, a remote island in Maine, and an assortment of characters whose agendas are at odds (at the most polite best), but she doesn’t go for “at best” in her second novel, On Hurricane Island, just published this week by Red Hen Press. The place where politics and people meet intrigues Meeropol. The place where secrets find daylight also intrigues her—and her...

Read More

One Word

The stirrings of January and it’s apparently the year of the non-resolution, by which I mean people seem to be in exploration of the notion that we are enough as we are or less and more are ways to beat up on ourselves (read more about this on Abigail Rose Clarke’s fantastic Wild Yes newsletter). The notion is acceptance, I guess. I’m mulling that. I’m mulling one word (idea via my writer friend Powell Berger)...

Read More

Ending a Year

Contemplative in front of the Parthenon in Nashville or just wondering why Nashville built one. Although I’ve begun to think—fleetingly, in momentary snatches of ideas akin to sketches not the whole picture—about New Year’s Resolutions, something I admit to taking seriously, I haven’t really taken the time to have a big think on it. Instead, the snatches come as they come (I am struggling to see tiny...

Read More
(Not) the Chapel of Love, Exactly
Sep05

(Not) the Chapel of Love, Exactly

I have one of those childhood memories that may or may not be true, about something that occurred (if it actually did) at a wedding my family attended when I was six or seven. The ceremony took place in a park. All I remember was that when  it ended, everyone let go of purple balloons at once. Watching those translucent globes float away was magical. The chance to create a moment like that seemed the real reason why people had...

Read More
Second Weddings Leap Beyond Tradition
Sep03

Second Weddings Leap Beyond Tradition

Say the word "wedding": cue Mendelssohn's Wedding March. But say "second wedding" and no theme music springs to mind. Complete with backstory, second weddings avoid stereotype. The critical difference photographer Andrea Burns observes between first and second weddings is in the couple marrying. "Second weddings seem to be less about fantasy and more rooted in realism," she says. "People often...

Read More
Bigger Isn't Always Better
Dec31

Bigger Isn't Always Better

Any couple planning a large wedding, from ceremony to flowers to guest list to cake, considers the idea—by then you might call it fantasy—of elopement. Lots of couples eschew the large wedding altogether (or, at least, turn it on its head) and go small. Sometimes they go very small, even tiny. Karen and Brian Alstadt traveled to a justice of the peace who had married friends of theirs in Vermont. She says, "Our dog...

Read More
Tweaking
Sep02

Tweaking

While couples today may not forget old-new-borrowed-blue or other traditions associated with weddings, it’s safe to say the “new norm” does not require marching down the aisle to “Here Comes the Bride” or serving wedding cake. More people feel free to make their weddings their own unique event, often by making choices—small or large—to reflect themselves, rather than some generic cake-topper...

Read More
Marrying With Local Flair
Sep14

Marrying With Local Flair

Kathy Smiarowski took care of the floral wish. Owner of Wisteria Vine, Smiarowski works as a freelance florist and garden designer. Rather than maintaining a storefront, she focuses on large events, like the Rathbun wedding. “I’ve always had gardens to harvest from,” explains Smiarowski, who’s  been in business for twenty years. “I do an average of thirty to forty weddings or large events per year....

Read More
Fresh Start
Sep14

Fresh Start

Way back when I got married, we wanted an autumn wedding, for the foliage: this is New England, after all, and we didn’t want to get married inside. Oh, and we needed a place that could accommodate a large event, because our guest list topped 200. We ended up at the Swift River Inn in Plainfield, where we had a gorgeous outdoor ceremony, a beautiful reception with delicious food (that I never ate) and a fantastic wedding (the...

Read More
First comes love…
Sep14

First comes love…

About five years ago, I got a phone call from one of my best friends. “Are you busy on Friday?” he asked. I said, “not particularly,” and asked what was up. He tried to sound offhand. “We thought maybe you’d come to our backyard in the afternoon—and marry us.” He made what would sound like a completely nutty request of me because I’d gotten my minister papers—from the magical...

Read More
Love in a Storm
Jan04

Love in a Storm

  When people tell you what they hope for on their wedding days, beautiful weather always tops the list. This makes sense; most couples (by no means all, though) choose a date based on the season. They often choose a location that showcases natural beauty. And once you do that-pick a field or a beach or a reception hall that overlooks a mountain range-you want the best from that location, be it the foliage or the warm sandy feet...

Read More
All-Seasons, All-Service
Jan04

All-Seasons, All-Service

Seated at a substantial round table in the lobby of the Hotel Northampton, Brianne Ebel, the hotel’s wedding and social event planner, often sets the stage for brides-to-be to imagine their wedding day. During a first meeting, Ebel wants to help brides appreciate the advantages a Hotel Northampton wedding offers. The first two draws, she points out, are obvious-the gracious historic landmark building and its location. “You...

Read More
Halfway to Handmade
Jan04

Halfway to Handmade

These days we can do or get almost anything online. Colette Katsikas, owner of the Northampton store Essentials, notes that with some things-wedding invitations, in this case-the visual and the tactile still count. “People feel a need to see the options with their own eyes, the real thing, not just an image on the screen,” she says. As fewer service outlets for things like printing remain in business, it turns out that her...

Read More

One Day After the Winter Solstice

The rush to the shortest day has ended, although there’s still a day and a half of school left, and rushing, rushing before the daze ahead. We’ve got about 30 on Thursday here. We’ve got all that stepping out of time, which comes with a vacation-slash-holiday break everyone seems to have at least in part. We have rain in the forecast. Everything says to hurry up and wait. So, we will do that. I’ve spent a lot...

Read More

Inaugural Post

This is that most awkward of blog entries: the inaugural post, in which (channeling Pooh) the author tries to introduce herself and give the reader some idea what the story is. Or perhaps, what my story is. Well, here it is. I wanted to start a blog about these things: parenting, politics, planet, and pop culture (and whatever else). No title came to mind that really embodied all those "p" words. But sometimes, when...

Read More

Earning Spring (or Enduring Winter)

It's fair to say that before moving to New England, where I have lived–other than a year and a half sojourn to London–since 1981, when I started Hampshire College, I didn't appreciate spring. Okay, I was barely eighteen. I could argue that there was a lot I didn't appreciate as much as I do now. But, spring. I grew up in Philadelphia. Although everything is warmer now than it was then, it was–even...

Read More

Mommy Wars: Breastfeeding Battle

If you're a follower of modern day parenting and media coverage about modern day parenting, you realize that in the so-called "mommy wars," breastfeeding is not unlike a country with ongoing, supposedly insoluable conflicts (think, Middle East for magnitude of intractibility). Is breast really best? Is breast milk the same as breastfeeding? Is breastfeeding in public offensive? One of the latest articles–followed...

Read More

Talking about Unfathomable Wrongs

Day by day practically, we seem to be learning about the unconscionable wrongdoings the previous administration deemed "necessary." I put the word in quotes, because it is so unbelievable to think–despite so much evidence reported, even then, to those in power–anyone could choose to torture when for so many reasons, including the safety of our citizens throughout the most tumultuous places in the world, that it...

Read More

Snapshots from the Mothers' Movement

One of the real pleasures I've had as a freelance writer has been working with Judith Stadtman Tucker, who founded Mothers Movement Online. The MMO sought to be a clearinghouse for information about the social, political, and economic status of mothers, in order to support/encourage/fuel the movement. In a nutshell, as Statman Tucker wrote for the Women's Media site, mothers in our country are not doing well. Underpaid,...

Read More

I'll Be Twist(ing)

I don't go out much at night (mainly because my younger kids are six and nearly fifteen months). Tonight, though, I'll be at the Northampton Center for the Arts for the Twist Fair, where sixty crafty vendors will be sharing their wares (some wears, I'm told). I'm excited to go to Twist. For one thing, I have some friends exhibiting. For another, I am sure to run into many more folks I like. And did I mention I'll...

Read More

Remy's Art to Remy Friends

My son, Remy, who is six, drew the flowers flanking my blog's title, Standing in the Shadows. He is very excited to be "famous" for his art. What does he think he'll be when he grows up? Answer: an artist. A famous artist. More famous than Grandpa. Now, given that his grandfather was Leonard Baskin, he's going to need plenty of skill and plenty of luck. Sounding like proud mama bear, he's kind of got...

Read More

Pride in and for My Town

The first Saturday in May in Northampton, Massachusetts is Pride. We don't even necessarily say something longer like the Pride March. It's Pride. Pride's certainly what I felt today, in the middle of a big crowd (estimates by the organizers were 10,000 people) marching for a kind of justice often not mentioned, that being equality and dignity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Sexuality and gender...

Read More

Access/Condoms

Sometimes, people talk about the days before abortion, when condoms were unavailable for purchase by women (read, unmarried women). Many forms of contraceptives that were once unavailable are now, at least in theory, available. If you've been through adolescence and early adulthood, you may have bought something "private," anything from tampons to condoms to a pregnancy test; making such a purchase may have been somewhat...

Read More

How To…

On wintry mornings, I like to walk through my kids’ elementary school building in order to get from the kindergarten—where I drop Remy and his lunch—to the main entrance at the opposite end of the building before heading back for the cold walk home. I enjoy seeing the children’s art and other projects posted to bulletin boards along hallway walls. One morning, I stopped to read a first grader’s...

Read More

Bristol Palin's PRO-Abstinence (After the Fact)

There are many cynical takes on Bristol Palin's stepping onto the morning chat show circuit as teen ambassador for Candie's Foundation, an organization funded by the company that markets sexy shoes to teens focused upon teen pregnancy prevention through abstinence. Personally, my most cynical response? It's hard to find work when you're eighteen, on your own, not through high school, and have a four-month old baby....

Read More

Mother's Day II

Just over a year ago, we adopted a baby. Already parents to three children, our family grew in a new way: we became an adoptive family. As Mother’s Day approaches, the holiday raises new questions, ones that didn’t apply before Saskia arrived. This is not a holiday I have ever observed (beyond sending a card to my mother, stepmother and mother-in-law, but mostly because I love cards/mail). I dislike the marketing aspect of...

Read More

Musings: Bike Week and the Non-Car Lifestyle

I am not moving anytime at all soon (if ever?). However, if i were to move, I'd be intrigued by a community like Vauban, Germany, an experimental, planned district outside of Freiberg near the German and Swiss borders where cars do not come into daily life. The community was completed in 2006. Save for two garages at the ends of the development, "Street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden" for its...

Read More

Reality Television: Nice Work? (If You Can Get It)

The latest round of headlines as the Gosselins ramp up toward the fifth season premiere of their reality show, Jon & Kate Plus 8, take the work/life balance into pretty depressingly set-the-bar-low territory. In case you've never heard of them (lucky you?!), Jon and Kate Gosselin were already parents to twin girls when the next pregnancy produced sextuplets. Thus, eight. The twins are eight, the sextuplets nearly five. Rumors...

Read More

Boys, Bullies, and Parental Fear

There’s a particular type of fear that parenting invites, which grafts past onto future, as in, I don’t want what happened to me to happen to my kid. You hope your child won’t be picked last in gym class for dodge-ball teams. Insert your own bad memory/fear here. For one friend about to become a father, that fear looms as boyhood (they do not know the gender of their imminent arrival, and he’s hoping for a...

Read More

What's Divorce and Adoption Got to Do with it?

For advocates and supporters of legalizing same-sex marriages, New England has been providing some stunning, satisfying victories in recent weeks. Lots been written about why New England is blazing the trail. If you live here, it's not all that surprising, somehow, because there does seem to be a somewhat stoic brand of tolerance inherent to the region, that live-and-let-live coexistence, which allows tofu eaters and hunters be...

Read More

Are Americans Really Anti-Abortion?

This headline posed a question that caught my attention: Is the Electorate Tilting "Pro-Life?" No surprise that this piece on the American Prospect blog critiques the headlines, which are potentially misleading. Pew came out with news of a tilt toward more conservative views in a recent survey about both guns and abortion. So did Gallup, with what Dana Goldstein, author of the American Prospect blog piece, called a...

Read More

Does Having Daughters Make Parents More Liberal?

What an interesting article Andrew Gelman wrote about on fivethirtyeight.com, asserting–with numbers (disputable? maybe)–backing this up: parents with daughters are more liberal than parents with sons. In the article cited, researcher Ebonya Washington studies congressional votes: "She provides persuasive evidence that congressmen with female children tend to vote liberally on reproductive rights issues such as teen...

Read More

Thoughts about Pottery

Yesterday evening, I strolled (by myself, itself a rare treat in the dinner/bedtime zone) downtown to see the Mark Shapiro, Maya Machlin, Michael McCarthy, Daniel Garretston; The Apprentice System: Stonepool Pottery show at the Artisan Gallery. I'd been speaking to a couple of the potters featured in the show–Mark Shapiro and Michael McCarthy–over the phone for a story I'm working on for Preview Massachusetts (the...

Read More