If You Happen TB Lucky

I recently joined Instagram and began following both Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.  In the week leading up to last Sunday’s AFC title game, Brady and the Pats posted many curated images and videos to inspire their fan base.  One of these “hype videos” was a montage of Boston sports legends repeating parts of a longer inspirational message Brady first posted on April 19, 2018.

The hype video is well done.  I could watch it 100 times.  It is probably not something Brady whipped up in his basement.  He probably has a whole army of marketing and public relations staff creating these images.

I watched the game from a small middle-class living room and it felt like the collective energy of New England and Michigan (the only two regions of the country that don’t hate the Patriots) was being transmitted to Arrowhead Stadium.

The hype worked.

Monday was a holiday and I spent it cleaning up the yard.  I spent some time helping my father shovel and as I did, the following thought occurred to me.

“If you happen to be lucky, you can spend time shoveling with your 85-year-old father.”

Click on the Dibble Dabble to read an older shoveling story.

Lucky indeed.

Posted in Home | Tagged

Do You Mind Playing in Severe Cold?

I’m marking today as the day we hit “peak January” here in New England.  We are tired of hearing our furnaces run, the late December ice deposits are impervious to salt and calcium chloride, and a winter storm is sending nervous eaters to the grocery store.

I blogged about this topic on this very same day in 2016, giving further evidence to the old biblical theory that there is nothing new under the sun.

My blogging brain is a blank slate this month.  I have many stories in the “Blog Ideas” folder, but little time to develop them.

The New England Patriots livened up the dull landscape last Sunday.  Everyone I knew was extremely nervous before the game.  Extremely nervous.  My weekly football friends were predicting a loss.

“Phillip Rivers wants this game.  There will be no margin for error.”

But like I said, there is nothing new under the sun and the Patriots were victorious.  It’s made me wonder if the losses the team suffered on the road earlier this season were a calculated plan by The Hoodie to mess with mass minds.  He is that type of four-dimensional genius.

There was a slight tone of mockery in Brady’s voice on Sunday, after the Patriots defeated the Chargers 41 – 28.  He told a reporter in his post-game interview “I know everyone thinks we suck, we can’t win any games.  We’ll see.”

A few days ago, a reporter asked The Hoodie this question:

“Do you mind playing in severe cold?”

I have listened to Belichick’s straightforward and genius response at least 100 times because it makes me literally laugh out loud in these early morning hours.

“Love to play in a championship game.  Schedule it wherever you want.  We’ll be there.”

The team’s recent marketing campaign is crafty, too.  Or Krafty.  The playoff rally cry is “everything we got.”

The world hates the Patriots.  Whatchagonnado?

Here in the old hometown, my refrigerator is already stocked for the weekend and the game.

Salads.  I make salads.  Want a salad?  Come on over to my house and I’ll make you a salad.  But don’t come over on Sunday because I’ll be watching football with my nervous friends.


Posted in Cooking and Food | Tagged

Revisiting January

Last week, one of my work colleagues told me blogging was “out of style.”

It put a dull film on the days and I ended up stomping around on The Farm last weekend.

January is full of bleak hours and days.  I blogged about it years ago.

I have been out of style my whole life.  I think I’ll keep blogging.

Posted in Just Writing | Tagged

Under an Orange Colored Sky

Brad Paisley, a 46-year-old country music singer, apparently said “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book.  Write a good one.”

The quote is oft-circulated at this time of year on social media.  Who doesn’t want to write a good book?  Damn, I just want to write a good blog post once a week.

Since October, I’ve been running some heavy fuel in my personal tank.  I haven’t been writing much.  Driving back and forth to the Franco Center, volunteering for more events than I can count on two hands.  Doing preliminary strategy work for the 2019 Moxie Festival.  Working at the polls.  Funerals.  Experiencing joy and sadness.  Inviting people to my house over the holidays and seeing every invitation accepted.  Cooking and cleaning like it’s 1949.  Entertaining for almost 48 hours straight over the New Year break and loving every minute of it.

Yes, I have burned some heavy fuel in the final quarter of 2018.

Heavy fuel, what’s that?  For Mark Knopfler, who wrote a song about it, heavy fuel was hamburgers, scotch, and cigarettes.  As Knopfler says, “if you want to run cool, you’ve got to run on heavy, heavy fuel.”  His fuel is not politically correct, is it?  He wrote some great rock and roll songs, though.  My fuel is a little different from Knopfler’s and hopefully a little more ladylike, but similarly post-modern.  Big salads, baked chicken, and Isagenix protein shakes.  Throw in a daily dose of anxiety and thirty trips up and down the stairs to my home office.  Oh, and a few Jeep trips to Market Basket in Biddeford with my pal Shelley to sort out the problems of the world and move faster than our feet can carry us.

Fellow writer and friend Karen Schneider brought me some orange flowers.  They are a good additive to the heavy fuel mix.

I have been unbelievably busy.  That’s how it is.  And while I do wish I had been born at a different time, it feels good to be alive here and now, writing the pages of this particular book and burning this heavy fuel.

Or maybe it’s heavenly fuel.

I got a card from one of my Junior League of Boston friends the other day.  She’s part of the JLB’s Garden Club and will be doing a flower arrangement for the “Art in Bloom” tour at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts in April.  She is so talented and excellence-oriented I know it will be magnificent.  She said “I hope they assign us a good piece of art.  So much easier to make an arrangement that compliments a rich oil painting than an austere piece of Art Deco furniture.”  I hope I have enough heavy fuel in my tank to see it.  And I do hope there are a few orange flowers in her arrangement.

2019 will be all about orange here in Lisbon Falls.  Orange flowers, orange t-shirts, orange envelopes, and orange aprons.  Orange books and blog posts.  If I follow the advice of Brad Paisley and Mark Knopfler, how can it be anything but good?

We are living under an orange colored sky.

I am making this song my theme song for 2019.  I love Moxie, my hometown, and my life in the here and now.   We’ve got a great committee of people working on this project and I think it just might be a “good book” albeit an orange colored one.

Thank you in advance for your orange colored prayers and thoughts.  Flash!  Bam!  Alakazam!

Posted in You've Got Moxie! | Tagged , , , ,

With a Stake of Holly Through My Heart

The portly gentleman in front of me at Rite Aid had a booming voice.  His shopping basket contained two large bottles of Listerine and a box of Russell Stover chocolates.

“There’s no excuse for boredom, Genevieve,” he told the petite woman at his side.

“You just need to get busy.  There’s no shortage of things to do in this world.”

I did a double-take and looked closely at the big man.  In addition to his booming voice, he was possessed of a certain savoir-faire.  Maybe it was the cut of his topcoat (cashmere?) or his meticulously clipped beard (Santa?)  Perhaps it was his voice.  In spite of the vocal volume, he spoke with a loving kindness that reminded me of Charles Dickens’ Ghost of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol.  I fully expected him to say to his companion:

“I am the Ghost of Christmas Present…look upon me!”

Hoping for some pearls of wisdom or at least a funny blog post, I stood perfectly still with my package of L’Oréal “Voluminous” mascara in my hand.  I did not want to disturb this teachable moment.

Genevieve, similarly clad in a fashionable cloth coat, suede gloves, and a chic knit hat that approached a cloche, volleyed back at the man.

“Ted, you old fool, do tell me how to avoid this seasonal ennui.”

I looked out the Rite-Aid door and saw the night sky falling on Route 196.  I’d never seen this couple before and I wondered if they’d stopped here on the way to more sophisticated realms or I’d walked into a time-traveling snow globe.

“There are belated Christmas cards to write, year-end charitable contributions to make, and last-minute parcels to mail,” Ted said.

“Then there are all those things you always say you will do when you have time.  Why, my darling lady, you once told me you longed for retirement so you could scrub your kitchen floor with a toothbrush.  Do you remember saying this, Genevieve?”

“Oh, Ted.  I never said that.”

“Indeed, you did,” Ted said, dropping to a sotto voce speaking style.

“I’m sorry to be a killjoy, my lady, but I’ve noticed you spending far too much time with your electronic device,” Ted said.

Genevieve looked down guiltily.

Then jolly old Ted pulled out a crisp twenty-dollar bill and paid for his purchases.  In the blink of an eye, he pocketed his change and whirled towards the automatic door, his companion Genevieve trailing alongside.  Whoosh…and they were gone.

The whole experience was surreal and if someone told me I’d witness such a thing at my local Rite Aid I would have issued my own booming “Bah Humbug.”

And yet there it was.  Redemption and wisdom at the local Rite Aid.

“But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—Happy Christmas to all, and to all good night.”

2019.  Bring it!

Posted in Just Writing | Tagged

Because of the Russians

While sitting in my idling Jeep last week, waiting to go through the car wash, a Gordon Sumner (Sting) song came on satellite radio.

“In Europe and America there’s a growing feeling of hysteria.  Conditioned to respond to all the threats in the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets…”

“Russians,” from Sting’s 1985 debut solo album The Dream of the Blue Turtles, was in heavy rotation at UMaine Orono’s radio station WMEB in November of that year.  It was my senior year of college and I played the song often.  Sting used a Prokofiev theme and the song evoked a dark winter’s day.  Admittedly, I did not listen intently to the words, just the refrain of “I hope the Russians love their children too.”

I took a picture of my dashboard computer, showing Sting and the name of the song and I texted it to a friend with the note “always the Russians.”

It’s interesting how long the Russians have been our national nemesis.  It was the leading headline in yesterday’s local paper.  And just this morning before I muted the NPR news that interrupts Maine Public Classical’s pleasant playlist at the top of the hour, I heard “investigations of Russian interference in US elections…”

Always the Russians.

I once heard a man sarcastically tell someone “It’s because of the Russians that we can’t have nice things.”

I’ve got to admit, I really liked the response and I’ve used it a few times in conversation, dropping it deadpan before a few uncomfortable moments of silence.  Followed by a smile, of course, to break the inevitable tension.

1945 is generally considered the beginning of the Cold War.  Using this as a starting date, the Russians have been interfering with life here in America for 73 years, more than my entire lifetime.  Unbelievable, isn’t it?  Maybe that’s why I find Russian president Vladimir Putin rather handsome and intriguing.

Russians or no, we are moving dangerously close to Christmas with many things undone.  My new living room carpet is still in transit and won’t be installed before Christmas.  It might as well be in Kiev.  I got tired of looking at the Cold War-era linoleum that was under the old carpet, so I went out and bought a very inexpensive (some might call it cheap) bound area rug to stage the room for the holidays.  It will work for now and Paul at the carpet store tells me the installation will be complete by New Year’s.

And then there’s Moxie…

I have not blogged about this yet, but I have been asked to “coordinate” this year’s Moxie Festival.  I’m excited about it and I had a special Moxie Santa hat made for myself.  And how about the reusable shopping bags they’re selling at Family Dollar?  I thought they fit perfectly with the “Moxie Goes Artsy” theme, all orange and pop-artsy.  Maybe in 2020 we can do a “Moxie Christmas in July” theme.  The Santa hats would probably be too hot for summer wear, so who knows.

No Russians are going to stop it; Christmas is six days away and the Moxie Festival is two hundred and five days down the road.

I’m going to heat up my samovar right now.

Posted in Weather and Seasons, You've Got Moxie! | Tagged , ,

The Mary Poppins Guide to the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

December…it’s the second most wonderful time of the year for me, second only to July and the Moxie Festival.  It’s also the season for Drew Magary’s “Annual Hater’s Guide to the William Sonoma Catalog.”  Magary, the 47-year-old staff writer of the sports news site Deadspin has written his profane critique of American consumerism every year since 2012.  Except this year.  According to a Monday, December 10 Deadspin post, “Irredeemable Vikings fan and beloved voice of Deadspin Drew Magary has been moved to the injured reserve list after an accident last week.  He is receiving the best possible care, is surrounded by his family and friends, and is doing well under the circumstances.”

His last tweet was on December 5.  He tweeted 13 times that day, including a link to his recent GQ article about the late Anthony Bourdain titled “The Last Curious Man.”  He also targeted New York Times writer Ross Douthat with unrelenting ire.  His day’s Twitter work was scatological, including his grenade at Douthat, but ended with a meek “my Dad Napping powers vanish on the road.  It ain’t right.”

The web gives and the web takes, but it’s giving up nothing on Magary.  Interestingly, his Wikipedia bio says he was a walk-in football player at Colby College in Waterville.

My own planned blog offering for today is a list of ten things you can do to make the holidays less onerous and less mediocre.  As I read them now and compare them to Magary’s past snarky missives, they are pure Mary Poppins.

I’ve been called Mary Poppins before.  Not once, not twice, but thrice.  One spring day while peddling my bicycle to the other side of town, a wandering band of children shouted some “bla bla bla” that ended with “Mary Poppins.”  My mother mentioned my resemblance to the magical nanny once, too.  And just the other day, one of my co-workers said “If Mary Poppins and Moxie had a cousin, it would be you.  The coolest member of the family.”

He’d apparently seen this image of me circulating in my very small sphere of social media.

(Photo courtesy of Tracey Steuber.)

I’m no Mary Poppins, but I’ll take the compliment.  I do prefer it to being called a Kardashian.

From here in Maine, I wish Drew Magary well.  His absence from the media cacophony creates a void I cannot fill.  Humbly, I offer up my own “Mary Poppins Guide to the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

  1. Be as generous and as extravagant as you possibly can.
  2. Avoid orbits of mediocrity (see # 4).
  3. Drink water or herb tea instead of coffee.
  4. Do not go to the Christmas Tree Shop.
  5. Go outside, even if you must wear thermal underwear.
  6. Keep hair appointments. If you break them, send your stylist the money anyway.
  7. Tip as generously as you can without putting yourself in debt.
  8. Look your best! Exceed mediocrity (see # 2).
  9. Sleep when you’re tired.
  10. Go to cookie swaps.

We can certainly unpack some of these suggestions in the coming weeks, especially the “orbits of mediocrity” theme.

For now, Mary Poppins is off to write Christmas cards while listening to the entire Handel’s Messiah.  That would be # 11 and #12 on the list.

Hallelujah out.

Posted in You've Got Moxie! | Tagged , ,