Our holiday card for 2021

Well, another tough year has gone by, thanks to Covid 19 (again).

This year has been particularly eventful, as Kelly started grad school in January of 2021, we sold our house in Winthrop, and are both currently looking to change jobs so we can buy a house in southeast Vermont, preferably in Windham County and specifically in Brattleboro. We are also considering Bellows Falls, as it is nearby and also is on Amtrak. It also happens to be where Kelly’s dad was born.

We don’t own this mug, yet.

There are a lot of reasons we decided to do this, but perhaps the biggest and most important was we decided we really wanted to get away from the insanity of Boston traffic and the nightmare of a Boston commute. We got to try it out somewhat while we were working from home in Winthrop because of Covid, and we decided we really liked it.

However, we also quickly discovered that no matter what we did, we continued to have internet connectivity problems and that was especially frustrating. No matter what we tried, we could not get a reliable Internet connection. We had people from Comcast at the house multiple times trying to figure out what was wrong. We ended up replacing all of the cable on the outside of the house, going all the way to the utility pole, as well as replacing all the cable inside the house, plus getting a new modem (twice). We tried putting the modem in a more central location (located right next to Kelly’s computer in her “office”, which was the guest bedroom). It didn’t work. We still had connectivity problems of one sort or another and when you are paying almost $300 a month for cable, phone, and Internet, that gets old rather quickly.

Discussions with other people who lived in Winthrop revealed that they too had connectivity problems. It seemed to be a widespread problem there. So we began to think about moving, and eventually we became convinced that we would be better off living somewhere far from Boston traffic and Boston cost of living. We could get a bigger, maybe even a nicer, house and a larger yard for the dogs and for gardening and still come out with a smaller mortgage payment than what we were currently paying. It was a no-brainer. We could also end up in a place with a higher vaccination rate and a higher percentage of mask wearing. Winthrop, and particularly our next door neighbor, was a Covid hotspot from the jump and our next door neighbor was a maskhole.

So where to go, then? We started looking in Western Massachusetts (we are still looking there, at least somewhat) but soon expanded our search into southern Vermont. We quickly began to fall in love with the Brattleboro area, as we had a lovely time every time we went to visit. All the people we met in Brattleboro and its environs were friendly and welcoming. It really is remarkable how consistently and continuously we had positive interactions with people there. Likewise Vermont has the highest vaccination rate in the nation and people are smart about masking.

So we packed up the house, and of course that in itself was quite the adventure as it involved both PODS and U-Haul and some less-than-ideal interactions with both companies that caused delays. Although we packed up in July with the hope of getting the house ready to be put on the market by Labor Day, that didn’t happen. Various delays put it off until almost the end of September. Still, we had the house on the market on a Friday and we had an offer at our full asking price by Monday. We worked with RedFin to sell the house and it was a great experience.

Another problem we had to solve was what to do with our kitties, Scratch and Violet. We couldn’t take them to the long-term hotel with us (we were already bringing Dash and Nymeria) and for a long time we could not find anyone who could board them. Finally we got lucky and some friends said they could put the kitties up for as long as we needed and at a very friendly rate. So the kitties went off to what we are calling “kitty summer camp” although by now it has already lasted into winter. Still, they seem to be doing well and we are very grateful for that. We do miss them and look forward to being reunited with them in 2022.

The hotel has turned out to be ok so far, although we have also had some problems here that needed to be solved. Still, it could be much worse, and at this point we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We hope to be in our new house, wherever it may be, in 2022 and settle in with our kitties and puppies in what will hopefully be a better space for them as well. Remarkably, living in the hotel has been a good experience for Nymeria, who has gone far in coming out of her shell and learning to trust us. She has even begun to approach other people for pets, which we think is remarkable and fills us with joy every time we see her do it. She and Dash have gotten to spend a lot of time with us and go on regular walks which does all of us some good.

So we hope that everyone else has had, if not a good year, at least not had too traumatic a year. Hopefully Covid 19 will be conquered in the new year, as long as people aren’t too stupid about everything. I know, it’s a lot to ask, frankly, but we can still hope that common sense will win out.

Stay safe and be well, everyone.

~Geoff

Past holiday cards are here: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012

RIP Denise Taylor

Some years ago, my Neurologist said to me, “You sing, right?” And the rest, as they say, is history. I’m not sure how many years it has been since that fateful question, but this Plague Year is the first year since then that I’ve not been a part of the When Patients Heal You annual concert. COVID kind of got in the way of that.

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It’s that time of year again, Merry, Happy, Blessed Whatever

Most of you know that we’ve been doing this for a few years now.  Partly it’s because we’re cheap broke, and partly it’s because we send this link to nearly 200 people who we’d legitimately want to send a real card to.  Also, I’m not big on the card produced by Shutterfly and never seen by the sender thing, and this method actually has a Snowflake’s chance in Cambridge of generating a conversation*.  So we do it this way.

Continue reading “It’s that time of year again, Merry, Happy, Blessed Whatever”

Upcoming Summer Fun

There are some great summer activities coming up in and around Boston starting this weekend.  Take a look and see what’s coming, I have some fun things on the docket.

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Amazing things to do this weekend

This weekend is full of great things happening in and around Boston.  Take a look at what’s happening and please come join us.

Tomorrow from 10:00am – 3:00pm Geoff and I will be at Endicott Park in Danvers, MA for the 2nd Annual A Day in the Park Fair.  There will be more than 50 craft and other vendors.  The park itself has an unbelievable amount of things to do.  This is an ideal day out for the family, including the dog.  Dogs are welcome at the fair and in the park as well.  Plenty of parking is available.  Directions are here.

Musically, Teri and the good folks at Meravelha are going to be busy this weekend and next.

The Road Most TraveledFamily Concert

Experience the magical sounds of the Middle Ages in a relaxed setting accessible to all ages! Bring the kids, a pillow or blanket to sit on, and/or arrange the chairs to suit your group.

Members of Meravelha will talk through the songs in English, show slides with medieval images that relate to our music, and provide an early instrument petting zoo following the show and answer questions for inquiring minds, both young and old.

Coloring pages and crayons will also be on hand for young ones who like to listen while doing something with their hands.

About the program:

The Road Most Traveled features music from several stops along the ancient pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela and explores the both the lighter and more ponderous aspects of the religious journey, culminating in the celebration of arrival. The music includes Cantigas de Santa Maria, selections from the Codex Las Huelgas and Codex Calixtinus and features exotic melodies and dance-like rhythms that will get your head bobbing and toe tapping!

Sunday, May 28 at 5 PM – 6:30 PM
Church of Our Saviour, Brookline
25 Monmouth St
Brookline, MA 02446

General: $20, Student/Senior: $15
Children 12 and under:  $10, 2 for $15, 3 for $20
Children 3 and under:  Free

Featuring:
Barbara Allen Hill
Teri Kowiak
Jaya Lakshminarayanan
Clare McNamara
Dan Meyers
Ari Nieh
Josh Schreiber Shalem
Catherine Stein

Additional Performances (of the usual quiet, adult variety):
May 20, 2017 8pm
Church of the Good Shepherd
9 Russel Ave
Watertown, MA

May 27, 2017 8pm
Church of the Good Shepherd
9 Russel Ave
Watertown, MA

Enjoy the weekend, we hope to see you tomorrow!

~Kelly

The ladies of Meravelha present- The Fourth Doctor: a Celebration of Hildegard von Bingen

The ladies of Meravelha present two concerts in March in honor of Hildegard von Bingen.  Come and check them out!

Meravelha logo

The Fourth Doctor: a Celebration of Hildegard von Bingen

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My first ever political protest

While I have been in parades and candlelight vigils and such, I have never been in what could be called a political protest until this weekend.  But I am glad I did it.  In fact, it has given me a great deal of satisfaction, and has cheered me up somewhat from what has been for some time a generally dark mood.  The crowd ended up being MUCH bigger than was originally anticipated.  I think they were expecting maybe 90,000 people, but the totals were probably more like 150,000 to 175,000.

We saw these two women dressed as suffragettes, and I just had to get a picture with them. LOVED it.
We saw these two women dressed as suffragettes, and I just had to get a picture with them. LOVED it.

I would never have imagined that I would look back on the Presidency of George W. Bush with any type of nostalgia.  And I certainly never imagined that I would live to see a Presidency that was not only worse than Bush’s, but is well on the way to topping the administration of James Buchanan as the absolute worst Presidency of all time.

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This is Your Card – Our Annual Holiday Post

christmas-2016-card

Goodbye 2016, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.  All things being equal, this year was a social, geo-political, and popular culture disaster. From the deaths of David Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, Leonard Cohen, Ron Glass, and Michelle McNamara, to Mohammed Ali, John Glenn, and Elie Wiesel, the list of those we mourn is really long and really hard.  Then again, Hell also got a little more crowded with the additions of Antonin Scalia, Fidel Castro, Rob Ford (the crack smoking Mayor of Toronto), Phyllis Schlafly, and Nancy “Just Say No” Reagan.
Continue reading “This is Your Card – Our Annual Holiday Post”

2016 just can’t end fast enough

Well.  Where to begin.

Yes, 2016 has not been a great year for all sorts of reasons.  In that sense.  John Oliver is right  (see below, and definitely not safe for work).

We can’t wait for it to be over either.

Yes, there have been some good things that happened this year.  Kelly and I finally have a house of our own, and we love it.  Just this past weekend we put up our Christmas tree for the first time in several years.  I was smiling from ear to ear.  I just couldn’t help myself.  As silly as it might seem to some people, putting up the tree in our living room as we listened to Christmas music was one of the most serene and happy moments I have had in a long, long time.  It meant the world to me.

Also, there was the addition of little Violet to our family a few weeks after we moved to Winthrop, and we love her very much.  She is an absolutely sweet and affectionate little thing and we could not have hoped for a better addition to our little family.  She has found all sorts of little places around the house to sleep, and one of my favorite things to do around the new house is to find the new places where she has decided to sit and/or nap.

We spent our Thanksgiving day in New Hampshire at my sister Liz’s house, after picking up my Aunt Donna from her place (also in NH now) and heading over to have Thanksgiving as a late lunch.  And we had a pretty good time, all things considered.  Luckily, we managed to avoid all discussions of politics.

So yes, while I can’t avoid discussing politics forever, I am going to put off talking about it for a little because I wanted to end this post on a positive note. While I have much to see about current events I will still try to put up some more pictures of the new place, as well as some pictures of all of our furry “kids” together.  It is the season for that sort of thing.

Much love to all our family, friends and acquaintances.

-Geoff

Friday November 11th, 2016 7:00pm @BU CFA – A FREE Concert Featuring Me!

It’s that time of year again.  The When Patients Heal You concert is back.  Only this year we’ve moved out of the lecture hall at the BU Medical Center and we’re back at my alma mater, Boston University.  In fact, we’ll be performing in the concert hall where I did my undergraduate recital lo these many years ago.

patients-heal-you-2016-ad

 

It will be much like years past, all the performers will be neurology patients of Boston Medical Center and many of them will be epileptics like me.  We’ll all get to perform two pieces and probably bring the house down at the end with big sing a long with Denise at the keyboard.

There’s usually a reception afterward with tasty food and a chance to mingle with the performers and the medical staff who not only provide us with excellent care, they sometimes even perform with us.  Please join us on Friday night for a great concert and a lot of fun.  This is a free event.  Tell your friends.

~Kelly