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Radishes and chicken elicit memories of Mom-Mom

Posted on July 31, 2014 by Leave a comment

The radishes were radiant, tied up in a hefty bundle, the bright red orbs topped with green leaves, at the farm stand I visited on Tuesday.

I never see radishes that I don’t think of Mom-Mom and how much she loved them. She’d cut them in half, then pop them into a glass of ice water in the fridge to keep them cold and crisp for a tasty snack, sprinkled with salt – lots of it – when she made dinner. One time, she ate so many radishes that she got sick to her stomach and went to bed with a bellyache.

I made her chicken this week, too. It’s a recipe I learned long ago – at least 50 years or more – when I was dating John and spending weekends with the Tuttles.

Simple and tasty, it’s just baked chicken rolled in melted butter and breadcrumbs, seasoned with curry powder and parsley, and popped in the oven. But then, the crowning glory, about five minutes before it’s done, you smear it with a little mayo and put it back in the over until the mayo turns golden and bubbly.

We have fish most nights, but John never says “no,” when I suggest we have Mom-Mom’s chicken for dinner.

All week long, Mom-Mom has been on my mind as the family celebrates her life and lays her to rest in Cape May. She requested it in her will, and, while it took a full year, it’s finally happened.

We are not there to participate, as John recovers from heart problems. But we’re there in spirit, doing our best to participate through texts, pictures and Facebook comments.

And at home, I wear my Cape May shirt, make Mom-Mom’s chicken, eat radishes and remember.

A quirky little square on an autumn afternoon

Posted on October 5, 2013 by Leave a comment

Spent about an hour in Congress Square on Friday, waiting for repair on my iPhone and taking in the ambience of this quirky little slice of downtown Portland, Maine.

There was a craft fair going. It happens the first Friday of every month, explained a well-dressed gray-haired woman in the music studio/art gallery that shares space with my tech guy fixing the phone.

Gazing out the window from her second floor perch, she said, “Look at those pot holders she’s making. They remind me of my grandmother’s.”

Indeed, the lady below had heaps of kitschy potholders and tissue box covers, crafted in garish hues like magenta and burgundy. They recalled a time in the ‘80s when the covers were a home décor fashion statement with craft fair fans. The lady crafting them wasn’t selling any, but that didn’t stop her from frenetically crocheting more.

Nearby, another guy was selling jewelry between nuzzling with his pug-nosed bulldog – so ugly he was cute. And a dozen other crafters plied their wares from haphazard tables set up around the plaza — all manner of stuff that no one needs but everyone looks at.

There was music, too, and an odd assortment of blacksmiths demonstrating their trade to those who stopped to look. Not sure why they were there, but it added to the square’s eccentricity, along with the anticipation in the throngs passing through, happily punch drunk on a late Friday afternoon in early October as they considered possibilities for the weekend ahead.

Congress Square is in the midst of change — developers want to gentrify it with a new hotel and visitor’s center. But the people who claim this park as their own have staged a protest at Portland City Hall and were out in force, too, on Friday with signs demanding that the city let the “people’s park” prevail.

I kept looking around for a familiar face, for this square and all its hipness and coolness and yes, weirdness, reminded me a little of Lowell and its array of quirky characters.

I half expected to see Kathleen Pierce and her artist husband Patrick mingling with the musicians, blacksmiths, art students, homeless and hipsters that made up this mass of people. They’ve moved to Portland and it seemed like their kind of place.

My own preppy persona didn’t fit in. I should have had on black with a scarf looped around my neck, not the turquoise T-shirt, flowered top and sneakers I’d put on that morning.

And my white hair made me stand out among this younger, hipper crowd.

As I left to retrieve my car, I felt relief but sadness, too. I used to love cities – couldn’t get enough of them. Now I crave quiet, calm, the peacefulness my new place affords.

Does it mean I’m getting old? Could be. But I plan to revisit Congress Square soon and assess my feelings then. But the potholder lady won’t be getting my business. I’ve passed that phase and don’t need any more kitsch cluttering my life.

Root beer floats

Posted on May 31, 2013 by Leave a comment

Jack poured the bittersweet root beer into the glass, watched as the caramel-flecked vanilla ice cream dissolved in the fizzy, dark liquid, plunged a straw into his concoction and took a satisfying sip.

 

“My mother loved root beer floats,” I told him, as he slurped on his sweet treat.

 

Indeed, Geraldine Perry Errickson Davies used to tell us stories about making root beer from scratch when she was a young lady, boiling the roots, adding sugar, then pouring the drink into bottles and sealing it for enjoyment on a summer day.

 

By the time my sisters and I arrived, Hires root beer was her chosen brand and my sisters and I would occasionally get to have a glass.

 

Jerry always brought Hires home, along with a half gallon of vanilla, to make root beer floats for Josie, our jolly Polish cleaning lady.

 

Josie slaved at our house twice a week, washing the floors on her hands and knees and ironing sheets, curtains, dresses and our father’s shirts to crisp perfection. She always smelled of good, honest perspiration — no sweat — for her hard work. Her pay was $8 a day, plus lunch and those scrumptious root beer treats with my mother at the end of a long work day.

 

Jack loves root beer floats as much as his great-grandmother, I think. She’d love this sweet boy, too, I’m sure and be happy that they share such sweet connection.

 

 

 

Jenkinson’s and the Jersey Shore

Posted on May 30, 2013 by Leave a comment

 

President Obama’s stroll on the Point Pleasant boardwalk this week lulled me back six decades to lazy summer days when I walked the boards there myself, enjoying Jenkinson’s and the Jersey Shore.

The President challenged Gov. Christie to an arcade game, one that Christie won and then gave the prize to Obama.

That simple gesture reminded me of ski-ball, our favorite game each summer that my sisters and I played with a vengeance, wracking up points for tickets and finally earning enough to bring some stuffed treasure home for ourselves.

We always went for the brass ring on the merry-go-round, too. Do today’s carousels offer such a challenge? Not likely, since it’s too much liability for the ride’s owners, if someone fell off.

We had no such worries in the 1950s. We’d mount an outside steed, or boldly stand on the revolving platform, holding on to a pole and grabbing for rings as the ride passed the dispenser. The boldest riders even pulled a few rings out each time they rode by, risking a fall for the thrill of the challenge.

Excitement reigned if we got the coveted brass one, then picked up the free ticket for another ride. It didn’t matter that our rides were always free. Elmo, the owner, refused money from dad even though he always tried to shove a few dollars through the window of the ticket box, where she sat beside the colorful carousel. Elmo was my mother’s classmate. They were friends. And friends didn’t pay for rides on her merry-go-round, she always told us.

More memories flourish — eating frozen custard, not ice cream and Frank’s caramel corn, the best I’ve ever tasted, sweet and crunchy and crafted by another of mom’s childhood pals.  Riding the beach train from Jenkinson’s north to south pavilion down by the inlet. The rocking chairs at Jenkinson’s situated on a pavilion that jutted out over the ocean so you could see waves lapping at the beach through the boards below the rockers. Savory Manhattan-style clam chowder, made with chewy clams, tomatoes, celery and carrots, not cream. Lazy, hot days on the beach. The smell of Coppertone and riding the waves. Colorful beach tags pinned to our suits. Being buried in the sand. Sitting naked in a tub outside mom’s childhood home, rinsing the sand off, since Aunt Jane, our maiden aunt who owned the old homestead, had decreed that no sand should be tracked into her home.

These are the Point Pleasant memories I treasure. And seeing the people and the President enjoying Jenkinson’s this week made me happy that my Jersey Shore is back and summer can begin again.

A stellar Opening Night at Pops

Posted on May 10, 2013 by Leave a comment

Opening Night at Pops is a sure sign of spring in Boston, an evening of world-class music, conviviality and celebrations of friendship and life.

It’s been so for 128 years and was so again on Wednesday night — a fitting symbol of Boston’s strength, resilience and community spirit despite the tragic events that took place a few blocks away on April 15.

My grandson Jack joined me at Opening Night this year. He’s nine, a great kid, who’s interested in country music and the framed Night at Pops poster his parents have hung in their living room.

I couldn’t have asked for a better companion. He took in the glories of Symphony Hall, checking out the gold gilt and statuary in the upper balconies as I pointed them out.  I told him that Symphony Hall is one of the world’s most perfect concert halls acoustically and explained he would “get it” once the orchestra began playing.

We’d “prepped” for the concert, listening to Pops CDs in the car on our ride in. Jack sat with me at our table seat in row M and marveled at the people walking by. “It’s a great place to people watch,” I told him. And he agreed.

Our amiable usher told us she plays flute and studies music at Tufts and is looking forward to hearing all the concerts this year, a perk when you work that gig.

Conductor Keith Lockhart bounded on-stage, leading the Pops in its spirited opener, “Hooray for Hollywood,” a stellar start to Lights! Camera! Action! – this season’s theme.

The lively rendition featured a well-edited video backdrop with quick shots from dozens of Hollywood classics from Gone With the Wind and The Little Tramp to contemporary fare like Argo and Shrek.

Other Hollywood music followed including well-orchestrated versions of the title theme from Gone with the Wind, The Days of Wine and Roses and “The Flying Theme”  from E.T. and “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid, which Jack immediately recognized.

There were two tunes from Disney’s “Fantasia,” which the Pops will feature in its complete version in concerts later this season.

The second act featured country-super star Vince Gill, an amiable guy who marveled at the thrill he felt when he heard his tunes played by the venerable Boston Pops.

Gill’s wife, Amy Grant, was a classmate of Lockhart’s at Furman University in South Carolina. “I bet Keith wished I’d brought Amy along,” quipped Gill. Lockhart gamely gave a thumbs-up in agreement.

In tribute to the heroes who helped on Marathon Monday, the Pops invited a Mass General Hospital surgeon to conduct its signature finale “Stars and Stripes Forever.” This doc — a music major in college — had run the marathon, then immediately went to work helping to save lives.

All in all, it was a perfect way to end a stellar Opening Night at Pops — one that Jack and I will never forget.

Too much stuff

Posted on April 26, 2013 by Leave a comment

Too much stuff

Posted by Nancye Tuttle on April 26th, 2013 | Edit

Hundreds of National Geographic magazines, trash bags and boxes of newspapers, scores of Christmas ornaments, a Department 56 village to make a holiday knick-knack fanatic smile. Canceled checks from the 1970s, dilapidated toys, stained baby clothes, never used dishes, forgotten scrapbooks, unopened bed linens, too-tight ski clothes, moth-eaten winter caps.

The list goes on, it resembled a scene from Hoarders, and it was in my attic.

That is until recently, when we hired a strapping young man to haul it down to the garage as we began the process of downsizing after 37 years. It was the best $20 an hour we’d ever spent. And Shaun was amazingly speedy bringing down all this stuff.

Sorting through it took time. Some went to consignment, more went to recycling, most went to the dump. And there were sentimental moments and occasional outbursts and arguments when one of us wanted to throw something away  and the other cried, “No!”

But, for the most part, it’s gone now.

We’re cleaned out, aside from the huge collection of G-scale outdoor trains that used to chug around the deck out back and brought joy indoors each Christmas. They go to their new home on Sunday, a train consignment shop in New Jersey, where some new owners will find them soon, buy  them and set up a display to amuse and amaze their family and friends.

Do I feel any tinges of regret following this major purge? Not really. Most of the “good” stuff was saved. And pictures and journals will preserve memories and spur me to write about them as time goes by.

The best part? Now that 30-plus years worth of junk is gone, I’ve got room to start collecting again for the next 30-some years.

Just kidding, really.

 

 

 

Theater news

Posted on September 4, 2012 by Leave a comment

Enjoyed a lively chat today with actress Kathy St. George, a favorite of mine. She’ll be playing Roz in a production of 9 to 5 The Musical at North Shore Music Theater, opening later this month.
Also enjoyed reconnecting with nationally-known director Kate Whoriskey, a young woman who grew up in our neighborhood with my girls Wendy and Heather. Kate is directing a new play at the Huntington and is excited to be back in the old neighborhood, so to speak – Boston where she attended grad school at the ART.
Despite the name she’s made for herself, Kate remains refreshingly unaffected and thrilled to be doing what she’s doing.
Watch for interviews with both of these theatrical women in coming weeks in the Sun’s new whatdoUwannado section that launches next Thursday, Sept. 13.
Also check out the newly refurbished MRT that opens officially this Thursday with a dedication and ribbon cutting, then in previews for its 33rd season opener Homestead Crossing..can’t wait to enjoy those cushy new seats and the new lobby and box office…great theater for all in Lowell…
Stay tuned for more posts on my blog.
‘Til then, check out a show…..

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Of baseball, astronauts and decisions we make

Posted on April 13, 2012 by Leave a comment

Opening Day at Fenway. It has a certain ring to it, I think, and always has ever since I moved to Massachusetts 36 years ago and became a faithful member of Red Sox Nation.

I’ve never been there on Opening Day. But my grandson Jack will be there today, heading in to the iconic ball park with his cousins Cooper and Camden and their dad, Jack’s Uncle Bobby.

He was more than excited when he got the news yesterday. But there was a little concern, at first at least, about dismissing the boys from school early for the big event.

Do it, I encouraged. They’ll never forget it, and it’s the last day of school before April vacation. How much work will they really miss?

The discussion carried me back a half century ago to a cold spring day in 1962. I was a senior in high school. I’d been accepted to college. All was right with the world, especially since the astronauts were coming to New York City for a ticker tape parade.

These were the original Mercury Seven space men – John Glenn, who’d just orbited the Earth, Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, Deke Slayton and the rest.

It was a no-brainer to my friends and me. We were going in to the city to watch our national heroes in person being deluged in ticker tape, one of the most iconic events that New York City throws to honor heroes and celebrities.

So we cut school —  but it wasn’t a sneaky cut. We told our parents and they gave us the OK. Go on, have fun, enjoy yourselves, it’s a day to remember and celebrate, they said.

So we did. We took the ferry into the city, bought steaming cups of coffee to warm us from the biting cold and joined thousands in a cheering throng that lined the streets. I bought a pennant with the astronauts’ names and a newspaper with Glenn’s and the others’ pictures filling the entire front page, items I still have in my high school yearbook.

It was a day to remember, for sure, and we got to cheer our heroes and see them up close as they rode by in open air convertibles, waving to the crowds.

It was history in the making and we were awash in the thrill of the moment.

But Mr. Samsel didn’t see it that way. The next day he called us to his office, and, as the assistant principal responsible for discipline told us we would be given zeroes for the day and have to serve detention for a week.

My father would have none of it and that night wrote a letter in our defense, pointing out that we’d had permission, the event was historic, and surely in the years to come, we would remember seeing the astronauts much more than any algebra problem or French lesson we had missed in school that day.

I don’t recall the outcome. Mr. Samsel may have erased the zeroes from our records and dismissed us from detention hall duty. Or he may have not. But it doesn’t matter. I graduated, went to college, did well, and, as Dad pointed out, still remember that special day when I saw the astronauts in person far more than a single day’s lessons in the classrooms.

That will be true for Jack and his cousins today, too, I am sure – even if the Red Sox lose.

The olden days

Posted on November 28, 2011 by Leave a comment

“What were the olden days like, Grandma and Grandpa?”
It was my favorite question, queried constantly to my beloved grandparents as I grew up in the ’40s and ’50s. They talked of riding streetcars, living in turn of the century (that’s the 19th into the 20th-century) New York and moving to the suburbs – East Orange, N.J. — from the wilds of Brooklyn when my dad was a child in the early part of the 20th century.
Now the tables are turned, and I’m the grandparent, being queried on the “olden days” by my beloved grandson, Jack, who’s 7 1/2. It’s a Q & A project for his second grade class study on “Acton Long Ago.”
I didn’t grow up in Acton, but my answers are probably like a lot of other grandparents, who grew up in my time and are being interviewed for this project.
Back in our “olden days” of the ’40s and ’50s, we played jump rope, hopscotch and kickball. Girls loved playing with dolls and paper dolls and being with friends. Boys loved playing sports and being with friends. We walked to school and came home for lunch. And our TVs — if we had a TV — were tiny and black and white with two or three channels, not hundreds of cable options like we have today.
Computers were far away in some science fiction future we only read about or imagined in comic strips or movies.
But we were still lucky kids, especially when we had grandparents who loved — no adored — us.
And that hasn’t changed in 60, 600 or 6000 years. Grandparents love doting on their grandkids, cherishing them and offering a listening ear without judgement or condemnation.
My grandparents did it for me and my sisters. And I do that now for Jack, Molly and Claire.
How would Grandma and Grandpa Davies react to these three little miracles — their great-great grandchildren and my perfect grands?
I think, first of all, that they’d laugh a bit when they realized their granddaughter is now a grandmother herself. How could that happen, they’d think, recalling my rebellious teen years when they always stood by?
Then, they’d marvel at how funny and smart kids are today — especially Jack, Molly and Claire. And while they wouldn’t be able to fathom computers, the Internet, iPads or remotes, they’d marvel at how far the world has come.
But they’d still take delight that, despite push buttons and multimedia electronics, kids still play dolls, jump rope and play hopscotch and kickball, keeping the “olden days” alive — at least for this generation.

Making Connections on an Autumn Night

Posted on October 11, 2011 by 1 Comment

The White Barn Inn in Kennebunk, Maine, was the perfect setting to celebrate the beauty of autumn, good food and new friendships last evening. We’d had the gift certificate for nearly a year — thanks to our daughter and son-in-law’s generous gift last Christmas. But we never seemed to have the time or right clothes to wear through the busy summer months.

But we purposely planned to use it this weekend and now we are happy that we’d put it off for so long.

The first benefit of waiting until the end of a busy holiday weekend is that the cordial inn wasn’t nearly so busy as it would have been if we’d ventured there on Saturday or Sunday night.

We arrived promptly for our 6 p.m. reservation and had a few minute wait while the staff was putting finishing touches on the elegant dining rooms. First plus of the evening – meeting a friendly traveler enjoying his book in the inn’s comfortable reception area.

Small talk evolved. “We’re from Massachusetts,” we said. “I’m from Chicago,”  he noted. But “Chicago” really turned out to be Lake Forest, the lovely North Shore Lake Michigan town where we’d enjoyed the first year of our marriage 45 years ago. So we talked about the places we remembered there, told him about places to visit with his wife in Maine – their first trip to our favorite coastal state. Good feelings and a new friendship, if only for 15 minutes.

We shook hands, wished him happy leaf-peeping, then scurried in to the comfortable dining room, with its fabulous tableaux of fall colors displayed behind glass – orange pumpkins, golden gourds, purple, wheat and yellow mums all displayed artfully on shabby chic wrought iron pieces and worn wooden benches. I’d love to be able to make such an arrangement, I thought. But mine would be just piles of pumpkins and pots of flowers, not an aesthetically pleasing work of art. The array, though, made us happy, again, that we’d put off our dinner until fall.

And then there was the blueberry martini. I’m not one to drink cocktails, staying true to my chardonnay or pinot noir inklings. But last night, for fun, I ordered a martini, infused with blueberry and vanilla vodkas with three perfect berries floating in the glass. It smelled luscious from the moment the server placed it before me. Blueberry cobbler in a glass with a bit of a kick. Aunt Marge’s martini was never like this. Oh, yum.

Dinner followed – 4 perfect oysters, each infused with a different sauce – béarnaise, caramel popcorn, seaweed wrapped and one more I can’t remember but know was different and delicious.

Then silky smooth corn chowder infused with basil oil, the perfect intermezzo, followed by a fabulous beef tenderloin, cooked to medium rare tenderness and served in pools of pureed parsnips, I think.

The plate was perfection, except for that one lone nub of cauliflower that looked a bit forlorn on the plate and seemed lacking in flavor, almost as if it had been boiled to over-doneness. Maybe roasted cauliflower would have been a better choice, or even a few roasted root vegetables – sweet potatoes, red onion, butternut squash, turnip, parsnips — to add a shot of color to the plate. But why quibble with near perfection, especially since the meat was done to my liking.

We both had tenderloin and kept shaking our heads in disbelief that we were eating the whole thing, especially since one would have been more than enough for us both to share.

On to dessert – first a little taste of a jellied something or other – actually like a sophisticated raspberry gelatin in Bavarian cream. served in a tiny cordial glass.  That would have been plenty, I thought, full from my tenderloin. But no, a beautiful flourless chocolate cake arrived, accompanied by a lovely scoop of mint ice cream, drizzled with some caramel sauce and joined by a couple of tiny chocolate truffles. A chocoholic’s delight, I  wished I had more room for it.

And on the sweets came – a pedestal of petit fours including a tasty pecan morsel and another tiered chocolate one. My, my, I thought, this is one of the most fabulous meals I’ve ever encountered. We even received a sweet send-off with the check – three tiny muffins to cap the evening. I ate one and brought the other two home for morning breakfast, as if I ever would want to eat again after this gustatory encounter.

But it wasn’t only the food that made last night special. It was our servers Annika (I hope I am spelling her name correctly) and Ruby, who made the evening an event we will never forget. Annika is from Poland and talked amiably about her time here working in the U.S.

Ruby, a local girl from nearby Sanford, added a friendly casual touch to our evening, one we had not encountered on other visits here. A Jennifer Garner look-alike, she has big plans and ambitions to go in to this business. She is learning it from the ground up, having worked already in housekeeping and dishwashing at the inn and now on the dining room’s serving staff.  She is a natural and should go far with her friendliness and pleasant nature. We wish her well. Annika, too. They made the evening comfortable and comforting, not a bit stuffy as we’d occasionally felt on earlier visits.

And our next door table neighbors – the Brunos from Westford at the inn to celebrate their 30th anniversary – added to the  connections we made last night as we shared stories with them. Their sister teaches and lives in Acton. And it turns out our daughter knows her. One other reason last night was special.

Still basking in the glow of our autumn night at the White Barn Inn, we came home, fell into the soft covers and dreamt of perfection — food, flowers, service and new friendships that all added  up to a night to remember.

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