Tuesday, June 15, 2010

You know you're from western Mass... ETC

Django Reinhardt-style guitarists at Amherst Cinema Thursday night. Brian and I had a great time going to the annual Taste of Amherst on the common then to see "Swing," an enchanting 2002 movie about a French boy who spends a summer among gypsies. The guitarists played for a half hour before the showing -- making for a perfect night out for Brian, who loves live music and me who likes movies! Now, Amherst Cinema is seeking a wine and beer license, so they can serve wine and beer.
Formidable! (which means GREAT! in French, I think.)

My former co-workers Bonnie, Sherry Wilson, Phyllis Lehrer and Patty at the Taste, an Amherst institution without a doubt. It'll be going on through the weekend.
Alex, a star of the teaching English as a foreign language program I participated in last summer in Thailand in a photo by Nuyen Thanh Trung. Alex, who is from England, and her boyfriend did not return home after the program; they got jobs teaching English in Hanoi instead. It seems Alex has been getting some great modeling gigs there too.

I'm staying home this summer and, among other things, working on the Dave Sullivan for District Attorney campaign. Dave's a great guy, who I met through my high school lab partner. As I have written here before, I was so, so touched that Dave came to my dad's funeral. He's going to take the Office of District Attorney to a whole new level!

I just love the following list of questions aimed at western Massachusetts residents and/or natives, although I agree with my grade school friend Cindy that they're kind of skewed east of where we came from, i.e. Pittsfield. In the tradition of the great blogger Tom Devine, from whose blog I borrowed these, I've added my own answers. Got any suggestions for more?

You know you are from Western Mass when...

You're driving 75 on 91 and the idiot from Connecticut behind you is
flashing his lights to pass.
Locals may remember when the problem of out-of-staters trying to get through Massachusetts as fast as they could on the way to skiing in Vermont contributed to some serious accidents on Route 91 near Greenfield, where road construction was causing confusion at the time.

The fact that Routes 5 and 10 are basically the same doesn't confuse you.
This does confuse me, but I don't drive a lot.

You are not afraid of the East Longmeadow rotary.
I'm afraid of all rotaries -- and the "Chicopee curve" on Route 91.

You actually stop for pedestrians in crosswalks....at least in
Northampton.
Yes. And UMass.

You know how to pronounce the names of towns like Bernardston, Athol,
Charlemont, Amherst, Palmer and Holyoke.
Yup.

You have driven to New York State or Brattleboro, Vermont when you
were 18 to buy beer. (Some of us made this trip much younger!)
No. The drinking age was 18 when I was that age.

You know that the "Calvin Coolidge" is a bridge.
Connecting Hadley and Northampton.

You know what they sell at "packies."
Beer!

You prayed that the Patriots would move to Hartford.
Somehow, I never got sucked into the sports culture.

You laugh at all of the other New England states, especially Connecticut.
I don't quite get this one.

You know at least one American Legion (or Polish Club) where you can get served after last call.
Never frequented the places.

You can't comprehend how anyone can find their way around Boston.
Don't much care for the place.

You have gone to at least one party at UMass.
I live a block away but I don't get around to many parties.

You give directions by always referring to where places used to be,
i.e., "It's in West Springfield across from where Abdow's used to be."
I'm from Pittsfield.

Colleges are used as landmarks for direction, i.e., "From Mt. Holyoke go past Hampshire College until you reach Amherst. Go straight through the lights to UMass."
I can see how this would be useful.

You believe that Bobby Orr is the greatest athlete that ever lived.
No.

You know at least one guy named Stan, Rene, or Sully.
Definitely.

You know that all directions for getting to Westfield start with
"You go to the Purple Onion.....".
I've only been to Westfield once that I can remember.

You laughed at the kids down south because they never get snow days.
I was never aware of kids down south.

You truly believe that the Memorial Bridge reconstruction project
was the biggest traffic nightmare this state has ever seen.
Doesn't ring a bell.

You know that the Honeypot is a section of Hadley, not a serving
container.
No.

You have never been to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
True. I had never been to the Norman Rockwell Museum either and I used to work at the Red Lion Inn.

You cried when they closed Mountain Park. (It's closed?)
Not exactly but it was definitely a landmark in my imagination.

You know where Ware is.
Yup. Been there.

You know that there is a bigger difference between Longmeadow and
East Longmeadow than just a compass direction.
I gather that East Longmeadow is much more upscale?

When someone from the Eastern portion of the state calls UMass,
"ZooMass" and you take it as a compliment.
No.

You know that people who call Northampton, "NoHo" are not from 'Hamp'.
Hamp is for old-timers and people who identify with the working class aspect of the city and NoHo is for newcomers.

You're happy the Red Sox won the world series in your lifetime to
get even with all of the Yankee fans that you have to work with.
I could -- or couldn't -- care less about baseball.

You know that springtime means fresh native asparagus.
Right.

You know that a "T" is something you wear, not ride to work on.
Or a T-bar at Bousquet's Ski Area.

You take your life in your own hands crossing any local bridge
because all of the state's highway funding has been diverted to the Big Dig.
I guess.

You know that Hadley is where the buffalo roam, and that it is next
to the People's Republic of Amherst.
Yes.

You are proud to drink Northampton Ale and think that the rest of
New England (or the world) owes The Brewery a debt of gratitude for
inventing the micro-brew pub.
Who put this one in?

You think St. Patrick's Day is better than Christmas and you know
where the world's second largest St. Patty's Day parade is held (hint:
NOT Boston).
Holyoke is the answer.

You go to the Berkshires, instead of "down the Cape."
Yes.

You know that the best Italian pizza joints are all owned by Greeks.
What about Antonio's in Amherst?

You went to Old Sturbridge Village, Old Deerfield (or both) on a
grammar school field trip.
Sturbridge Village.

You know that Wilbraham is the home of Friendly's.
Thanks to the landscaped Friendly's sign you see from the highway.

You actually believe that the Oxbow Marina is "The Boat Mall of the
Northeast."
Never heard this.

You know that Westhampton is a drytown.
What?

You know where the town of Enfield, MA is located.
Underwater, right?

You know that the Pike is free from Ludlow to New York.
Yes.

You know that Ludlow is 90% Portuguese and Hadley is 90% Polish.
I think 90 percent could be high.

You know at least one person who works at Yankee Candle and can get you a discount!
I'd rather just enjoy the exhibits around Christmastime.

You know that the potholes in Shelburne Falls are not in the roads.
One of the very top western Mass. destinations!

If the restroom in your elementary school was called "the basement," even if it was on the 3rd floor.
Good one!

You used to read the Valley Advocate.
Yeah.

You remember Riverside Amusement Park.
I remember hearing about it. Where was it?

You've snuck into the Exposition
What?

Arlo Guthrie is your neighbor.
Yeah.

You've been snowed on in Goshen...in June.
Something like this.

You avoid "The Flats
Not if you participate in the annual Holyoke St. Patrick's Day 10K road race.


You're glad you live in Western MA.
Yes.
Hester guarding the groundhog's hole leading under the porch.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

California snorkeling etc


I'm in a race against time! I'm in an airplane and I've bought wifi service for $9.95 but my battery is so low -- d'oh! -- I must cut to the chase.

I've been visiting my daughter Ana in Los Angeles, where we went to the Olympic Korean spa, two great thrift shops, ate at French, Cuban and Italian restaurants and took the Catalina Express to Catalina Island, a place I highly recommend. Here's Ana sitting by one of the two harbors.

With the other one, it is known as Two Harbors, a tiny community on the less populated side of the island. Brian and I first visited the more populated side known as Avalon several years ago and since then Catalina has been one of my favorite destinations.
I've been regaling my Facebook friends with tales of Ana's and my exploits snorkeling there, but if you haven't read about it there, we saw a sea hare, octopus, maybe a leopard shark, a HUGE school of mackerel, which consisted of thousands if not millions of glistening fish swimming around like they were in a ballet (I saw an IMAX film about these huge groups of mackerel to which I would link if I didn't only have 8 percent of my battery power left.), lots of Garabaldi, the California state fish -- and a sea lion swam right up to us and scared us!
Here we are hiking the next day after our underwater adventure. Suffice it to say as my battery power runs down, we got back to Los Angeles no worse for our close encounter with the sea lion and went to the Korean spa, a wonderful tradition I've written about before in which you walk around naked amid lots of saunas and several different kinds of soaking pools; and if you opt for a scrub, a Korean woman in a utilitarian black bikini rubs you very hard with a rough cloth, until your skin feels as soft as putty.
That and some wonderful food and fun in thrift shops were the highlights of my California vacation.
The end.
By Mary Carey