Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summertime and... about livin' easy...

The last day of school was a half day just this past Monday.

And yet.


On the way home from the beach today.

It took us a couple minutes

to figure out

whether today was





Monday, June 27, 2011


The girls caught this handsome toad this week.

As usual, the 8yo was the one to spot it and the 10yo was the one to actually catch it. They caught it very near where we let go the one they'd caught last year.

Is it the same "Toady"? We report, you decide.

Last year's "Toady."

Either way, it's nearly time to let this one go, too.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Happy Friday

peony with ginkgo leaves


Monday, June 20, 2011

Sunday Adventure

I am one of those people who would love a snowstorm everyday of winter.

So, in fairness to the people who complain about the weather all winter long, I feel like I have to forfeit any weather requests the rest of the year. If I could make one, though, I would wish that most summer days were like the gorgeous day we had yesterday.

Sunny and breezy and clear.


Weird Mushrooms

(No, this is not sexting)


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Keep the Pleasant Street Video Collection Alive at the Forbes Library

Please donate to the Pleasant Street Video Fund

The 10yo's first question,
after "WHY IS IT CLOSING?!?!?" is
"Who gets the leopard that lives in the kids' section?"
She'll pay extra!

Pleasant Street Video to close at end of June (I think the link only stays live for awhile, then, sadly, the local paper firewall's it)

by Bob Flaherty
Saturday, June 18, 2011

NORTHAMPTON - Pleasant Street Video, where movie lovers and practically everyone else gathered daily to chew on the issues of the day, will close its doors at the end of July, after 25 years in business.

But the store has a vision for its vast collection of hard-to-get films, and the general public, by way of Forbes Library, may be the beneficiary.

Pleasant Street Video manager and co-owner Dana Gentes said the store's revenue for the last five years dropped to about half of what it had been in the late 1990s to its mid-2000s heyday.

"Online services such as Netflix dramatically cut into our customer base," said Gentes, adding, "Computer culture in general has taken up many of the hours people used to spend watching movies."

The downtown location has been compared to an old country store, a central gathering place for film buffs and those looking to discuss life in general with the always accommodating staff.

The store did not hire clerks; it employed cinema experts and vibrant local personalities like Patty Huff, Gene Kane, Jenifer Gray-Lewis, Philip Price, Chris St. George, Zeke Fiddler and Bill Dwight, many of whom worked there for years.

The latest skinny on mayoral races or municipal email scandals segued seamlessly into discussions of Oscar nominees or unheralded directors, as one customer coming in would pick up the conversation of another leaving and expand upon it.

A movie fan could literally spend hours downstairs trying to choose from the staggering collection of film noir, foreign films, musicals and anime.

"It's wistful and sad," said Dwight, "but we've already gone through the stages of mourning."

"I don't want it to close," said Gentes, "but I'm excited about what we're doing with the Forbes."

Gentes, after processing feedback from customers and employees, has come up with a novel way to deal with the store's collection of more than 8,000 videotapes and DVDs - both mainstream and independent, many titles now out of print.

Pleasant Street Video and the Forbes Library are joining forces to raise $60,000 in the near future. Reaching that goal would allow the entire Pleasant Street video collection to take on a new life at the Forbes, tripling the library's video and DVD collection. For each $8 donated, another film will be added to the Forbes' collection. Tax-deductible donations to the Forbes' Pleasant St. Video Fund may be made online at Pleasant Street Video Fund or in person at the Forbes Library or Pleasant Street Video.

"It was a zeitgeist kind of moment," said Gentes. "Of all the ideas, this is the one that makes the most sense."

Gentes said that one angle for the next few days will be that certain genres will be offered up to donors looking to spend more than $8.

"A person could donate the entire Hitchcock collection under his or her name," he said. "We'll have a plaque or poster for special donators. The Martin Scorsese section has already been purchased by myself."

"It's a 25-year-old curated collection, hand-picked by cinefiles," said Dwight. "No library in the world will have a collection like this."

"The store's closing is a definite loss for the community," said Faith Kaufman, head of arts and music at Forbes. "Very few towns have an independent video store with that kind of a collection. Many people have been focused on preserving this incredible collection for the community and keeping it local - this is a very elegant solution."

"It's bittersweet that they're closing, but there is a silver lining," said Kaufman, who said patrons have already started donating to the cause.

Pleasant Street Video was opened in the fall of 1986 by Richard Pini and John Morrison, as a companion to the adjacent Pleasant Street Theater, which they had been running for about 10 years. Gentes was hired as the manager and given a percentage of the ownership the following year.

When it became apparent in 2009 that it would be increasingly difficult to keep the store going, Pini put the retail condominium on the market. A buyer for the space is pending.

By Monday, Gentes said he would have more details about the future of the property.

As for his own future, Gentes said, "I'd like to become more involved in the local arts scene. I might make videos rather than rent them."

Bob Flaherty can be reached at

Please help if you can. The girls and I love the video store and the library!

Photographs, except the one of the 10yo - which is by me, all found online. Photo credits to follow - as soon as I find them!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Happy Friday - Garden Update Edition

The clematis is especially beautiful this year.

fence garden

main garden (before)

main garden (after)

back garden (before)

back garden (after)

My friend Jill came today and helped me finally get some veggies planted. There is still more to plant next week. A late, slow, rainy Spring.

Another fun experiment in growing food.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dad!

I love you.

The girls and I can't wait to see you this summer!

Love and kisses!



Too many words, and so few good ones.


I went to a presentation at school yesterday to see the students' final projects in a program that is trying to teach them the meaning of some important words.

Caring Forgiving Helpful Honest Respectful Responsible


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

California Dreamin'

Still almost two weeks left of school
and the girls and I are getting excited
about our annual California visit.

Road trip or fly?

We haven't decided yet.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Snake by any other name...

Yes, yesterday afternoon,
while many people were
watching and discussing
a talking, tweeting weiner,
we went to the beach.

When we first arrived, there was some big truck/machine out front making a lot of noise. It looked like an oil derrick. It was loud. As we walked onto the sand, we saw a long hose running from the machine into the water. Pumping? Perhaps.

For a minute I wondered if it was a good idea to swim while they were working. I assured myself that they would have posted "no swimming" signs if we were supposed to stay away. Right?

So the girls headed for the water and I headed for the beach blanket with my copy of Joe Bageant's Deer Hunting With Jesus (thanks, Dad!) -- which I am really enjoying, well, enjoying the writing, the "dispatches from America's class war" are infuriating and upsetting.

After a few minutes reading, I heard screaming. Then shouts. "Snake!" "There's a snake in the water!" At first I thought they were playing, joking about the hose in the water, but when I got up to investigate, I saw that it was indeed a snake.

Now what? What kind of snake is it? Does it bite? Is it poisonous? How many are there in this water? Did it come to shore because of all the noise and vibrations the machine was making? What should you do if you get bit -- rush to the emergency room or is a band-aid enough?

Can I just say how glad I am that this snake appeared the week after my friends were visiting from California, since we went swimming here twice with them?

Even though I am now skittish about swimming there until I sort out this snake business, the 10yo went back in the water as soon as the snake swam away. Yikes!

Update: Thanks to my friend, Virginia, for identifying this as a Northern Water Snake. I was happy to read this sentence at the link: "Northern water snakes bite people just as often as chipmunks and bluebirds which is to say just about every time they are grabbed." Whew!


Friday, June 3, 2011

Thursday, June 2, 2011

My Kitchen

An old friend of mine brought her family to come visit last week. I hadn't seen her in more than eleven years, and our children had never met. We all had a wonderful time together, spent mostly at the local beach.

One of the fringe benefits of having visitors is cleaning the house. As I told my friend when she arrived, I almost made it! I didn't get the whole house clean, but it got pretty clean for me.

She sent me this picture of my kitchen this week.

Look how lovely it looks when it's clean.