Things I don’t like. Things I do.

Things I don’t like:

  1. Shopping.
  2. Long flat bugs with lots of legs crawling out of the bookshelf.
  3. Several hours with no structure in place.*
  4. Worrying about whether I should be wearing bracelets. Seriously?!
  5. Forgetting to bring a snack downtown.

Things I like:

  1. Walking by riotous gardens full of flowers.
  2. Ideas for big and small projects
  3. Frozen Bananas
  4. Asking “What do you think …” questions to a 2 year old.
  5. Barnacles.

* Exception: While on Vacation.


Monsters in Salem, Oh My!

As I mentioned on Wednesday, I’ve been overwhelmed with life lately – study, parenting, making time for real life friends – and haven’t had a chance to product much “new” content.  Please enjoy the following pictures of some beautiful – and NOT kitschy – Monsters in Salem.  More of a post on recycled art and such exists here at Connect Shore.

The following is a documentary of Mr. Mackey and some of his reasons for his artwork in Salem, or “therapy” as he calls it.  The movie is produced by Production Blue.

One Man’s Trash

Three ways to Get Through Halloween with Sanity Intact

Due to my multiple roles in life – mother, student, graduate assistant – I find that I don’t have time to generate fresh content this week.  But, looking backward to the archives I’ve pulled out two of my favorites for this week, corrected some grammar, edited the pictures and put it here for your enjoyment.  This post below discusses some of the problems with Halloween and the state of Holidays in America.

Vegetables in Disguise

The Hallowing of Holidays (originally published November 2, 2011)

I may have mentioned that I live in Salem, city of the month-long Halloween celebration.  But every celebration must culminate at some point, and Monday was that day. At 6:30 as I was walking around in my “mom” costume, baby strapped firmly to my front in the carrier, the bands were beginning to play, and there were already thousands of people on the streets.

It’s easy to get up on a soapbox about several problems with Halloween.   Two big ones immediately present themselves:

Waste generation: Halloween is second only to Christmas in this regard with it’s single serving candies and costumes.

Feminism:  The hoards of scantily clad women of college age, and unfortunately younger and also older can be found next to their fully covered and often un-costumed male “escorts” (not always the paid kind, luckily.) (ed. note. 2012 – For more reading on this, check out Rebecca Hains’ post on the topic here.)

Vulgar, but accurate.

However, when you are milling about with those thousand other people, it’s hard to keep a grin off your face at the sight of a man in an “Octopi Wall Street’ costume in Salem, and the generally playful attitude.   Furthermore, as evidenced by the reaction to the street preacher with the megaphone reading about fornicators, it’s hard for anyone to take you seriously delivering sermons during festivities (no matter how serious).

But I propose three things thing that should be done between holidays as we look forward to other seasons.

1 – Remember and Rest.

Look at the pictures you took, play with your acquired items, or eat them.  Peruse other people’s facebook albums.  Have everyone over again to remind them what fools they made of themselves.  Send a thank you card to the hostess of the party you attended.  Clean up your house, balance your budget, and sleep in for a few days.  Under no circumstances rush out to buy Christmas gifts.  I know, the merchandise is already in stores, and has been since early October.   I also know that this is the way that most stores make the bulk of their money.  But, this is not okay.  It detracts from the rest that we need, as well as makes holidays everpresent, cheapening them with consumerism.

2 – Make Holidays Short.

Get the gear out of stores until three or four weeks before the event.  Don’t sell Halloween candy before the back to school stuff is put away.  I haven’t seen a store without some holiday sale… well probably in my whole life.  This subtly tells us that the normal state of our lives should be to party.  Wrong.

I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t enjoy life.  However, party state dictates that we live beyond our means constantly.  Party state suggests that we stay up and forego sleep.  Party state suggests that ritual and routine should be avoided.  Party state suggests we should eat far too much and eschew fasting.  Party-state hates balance.  This is sickly living, paying for today with tomorrow’s earnings.

3 – Celebrate Creativity over Consumption.

This is the type of living that champions costumes crafted from clothes you already have, and one or two pieces that you bought.  It’s the type of hilarious outfit dreamed up by a friend of mine who dressed as her sister, borrowing the clothes from her secretly.  At the party her sister came in, complaining that she couldn’t find her favorite sweatshirt, only to see it on the back of my friend.  At Valentine’s day there are homemade cards, and at Christmas, gifts that involve time, not money.  Not everything needs to be homemade, but neither should there be nothing that is.

All of these things should point toward the more important part of holidays, people.  Rather than stuff, competition, and consumerism, relationships should be one of the focal points of all holidays.

Thank you for reading some of my previous thoughts, I find them still timely and accurate.  I also appreciate a look at the sanity that returns to Salem, Ma once Halloween-Town is packed up and put away. 

If you enjoyed this post – you may also enjoy: Transition to Plenitude – A discussion of a New American Dream

Unconventional Yarn

My wonderful sister loves to crochet afghans.  She has made me two (one is technically for Ethan), and her goal is to crochet 100 afghans in her lifetime.  She’s well on her way to meeting this goal at the age of 24.

For a long time though, I didn’t want to learn to crochet because I have no desire to ever make an afghan.  I mean, ever.   But this summer I’ve learned that writing off crocheting like that, is a little like deciding not to run because you don’t want to complete a marathon. Totally uninformed.  It turns out there’s a million ways to use that little hook and some yarn that doesn’t involve learning the afghan stitch.

Now that I’ve (almost) mastered the single crochet, double crochet, and the slip stitch, I know all the basics of crochet.  I’ve even made (one) granny square.

With my newly learned skill fresh under my belt I heard that the PEM was having a gathering to celebrate unconventional art – like mime, busking, graffiti and yes – yarnbombing!  I had to go!

While I was there I got a few more ideas for what I can do with my new skills – like make funky picture frames – or amigurumi vegetable toys.  No afghans for me!

Also, the free cooking demonstration by Scratch Kitchen was phenomenal.  I’m definitely heading there the next time I don’t feel like cooking.

One Potato, Two Potato…

3 Potato 4.

I never would have noticed this tiny window tucked into the corner of Ben and Jerry’s on Washington Street in Salem.

Even with the arrow signs.


But, I was reading the ever-delightful North Shore Dish and figured out what 3 Potato 4 was.  (Shout out to them for the wonderful blog title post that I have decided to use as well.  Though the title of the business somewhat makes it an obvious choice.)

What is 3 Potato 4?

It’s a hole-in-the-wall (haha) organic – baked potato fry company which will bake you up some gosh-darn good fries in a finger-licking minute or three, and then have you on the sidewalk enjoying your wares and watching the crowds pass by on a beautiful Memorial Day in downtown Salem.

And these fries will be tasty enough for the whole family: you, the husband, and baby. (or whoever else might be in your family group.) Also, served without a smidge of worry that you’re providing something less nutritionally sound for your one-year-old.  Hooray for Potatoes.

So You want to be a Radical?

I got to do two great things last week with the break between my classes.

I watched the HBO Documentary “Weight of the Nation.”

And I enjoyed Salem’s 3rd Annual Living Green & Renewable Energy Fair.

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These are two movements that I can’t get enough of and there’s actually a whole lot of links between the two of them.

Both of them present some counter-cultural choices.  There are two parts to this – the counter-cultural part and the choice part.  The status quo right now in America is to eat too much and move too little; to buy too much and reduce or reuse not enough. Unless you are making a conscious choice to identify the environmental triggers and habits that lead to both eating and buying – you’re going to do too much of them.  It’s that simple and that difficult all at the same time.

These are habits of excess, an much of them brought about by some of the lack of community up in this here US of A.  I didn’t say that, Wendell Berry did in his (1993) collection of essays Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community .  I’m inclined to agree with him.

Like a lot of revolutionary things in this world, the daily actions required for pulling off a countercultural maneuver are … pretty dull.  The second part of that documentary entitled “Choices” highlights this very well.  Losing weight is glamorous, especially on TV reality shows like the Biggest loser where someone can literally drop half their size.

But maintaining that weight?  Achingly repetitive.  There really are only so many ways to eat broccoli even if whole cookbooks are named after that.  Day in and day out for years attempting to maintain whatever weight loss has occurred, walking everywhere, taking the stairs, forgoing dessert most nights.

When it comes to “Going Green”, sure there are those radical moments like initiating Earth Day, or getting more Bike Trails funded, or striving for better sources of fuel.  And the world needs plenty of alternative thinkers, lobbyists, consultants, and innovators.  On a ground level as I’m doing my sustainability projects this year it mostly means remembering that I should buy all my sons clothes secondhand and set my beans in the pot to soak the night before I want them for a spicy bean chili.

They actually involve the same actions:  Biking to work (it’s National Bike Month, in case you didn’t know) is good for the environment and your health.  Hey, the average person loses 13 pounds their first year of bike commuting.  Crazy!


What the point here?  Being a radical is a chance to change the world, – but it’s lucky we have the internet, such as WordPress, so we can talk up all our mundane change and find others doing the same thing.  It’s important to do these things in community, so that we won’t get weary of doing good.