It’s Good Now

womenThis weekend was beyond inspirational. The hundreds of thousands of (mainly female!!!) people who marched and protested peacefully in so many cities sent a powerful message to our government, our nation and the world. Voices loud and strong united to stand up for what is right and best for our citizens- for all of our citizens- and for the first time since that cold dark November day when the world seemingly went mad, I feel real hope. Not sort of-hope, not lukewarm-hope, not wavering-hope but real, true, deep hope.

We can work together to fight the injustices born from this administration’s policy and executive orders. Together we can support our communities, we can strengthen our foundations, we can provide solutions, we can empower our young. We can lead by example. We can be stronger and better than childish tweets, unfounded accusations, blustery egoism and “alternative-facts”.  We can make a difference in our own lives and in the lives of those who are the most threatened. We WILL make a difference in our own lives and in the lives of those who are most threatened.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I needed this weekend to happen. I needed to see it all come together and be real. And, I needed to be reminded that there are change makers out there, that there are smart, engaged, motivated people who are doing things at the grassroots and national levels that are going to keep the moral fabric of our nation strong. I needed to be reminded that I am a change maker.

Today feels like the beginning of something new. And for the first time in months that feels like a good thing.

 

 

Beer Culture on the South Coast

buzzards-bay-brewery1A little while ago I reminded you all how important cranberries are to the region I live in here in Massachusetts (and to the world at large of course!) Don’t worry, I’m not going to dedicate another entire post to cranberries, amazing as they are. This time I’m going to talk about something else we have going on here that’s also pretty special. It’s called beer. Not just any beer, mind you. I’m going to tell you about the exceptional beer that’s brewed right here in my own back yard (well, practically). So, hold on to your drink coasters people, this is going to be good.

It feels weird to say that one of my favorite spots to visit in southeastern Massachusetts is Buzzards Bay Brewing, in Westport. Especially considering that this region probably has some of the most beautiful, unspoiled landscape in all of New England. That’s saying something when our rivals are the lush green mountains of Vermont, the craggy coastline of Maine, the crystal lakes of New Hampshire and the – umm… pizza?  of Connecticut.  Sorry- I spaced a bit there on what CT has to offer. I know it’s lovely but mostly I just drive through it to get to New York, and usually the only place I linger is at Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria in New Haven- which is a landmark in it’s own right, and the pizza is the best in the country (for real, it even says so in magazines and stuff). But anyway, here you’ll find acres of unmarred fields, miles of rocky and white sand beaches, an abundance of the aforementioned cranberry bogs, sun-dappled forests, bubbling creeks and streams, quaint hamlets and quiet harbors. It’s postcard pretty.buzzards-bay-brewing

And that’s kind of the thing with the Brewery too. You don’t just go there for the beer.  You go there because it’s a pretty sweet place to be.  It used to be a farm and the huge converted barn would be cool enough, but the grounds are really what sets it apart. Not the only thing, of course- the beer is pretty darn great too, but I’ll get to that. I want to talk about the setting first. The ambiance, if you will.

Ok, so to get there you have to drive down some pretty dang picturesque roads that take you past fields and farms and beautiful old colonial homes. Then you pull into the property and drive up this long dirt road through a huge open field. You can see the barn in the distance. And, as you get closer you can see the people mingling outside, you can hear the music playing, you can smell the tasty offerings of the Fancheezical food truck that’s always there and you get a little giddy before you even park.

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On Saturday afternoons in the summer it is hands down my favorite place to be. We bring our kids and a picnic blanket and settle in for a few good hours of relaxed fun. We wait our turn for corn hole or tether ball and we save room for a rediculously insane gourmet grilled cheese sandwich from the food truck. And of course we come thirsty! The vibe there is really awesome- totally laid back, with no attitude at all. It’s just lots of people enjoying beer and good company.

img_3144And that brings me to the beer! I was supposed to be talking about beer wasn’t I? Oh yeah!! Well, Buzzards Bay Brewing has a few that I just love. Their three staples are the Golden Flounder, the Moby D and the Buzzards Bay IPA. All delicious in their own right. And throughout the year they serve up specialty brews like my all time favorite- the Sow and Pigs. It holds a special place in my heart because some of the proceeds go directly to the Buzzards Bay Coalition an environmental non profit based in New Bedford that is doing amazing things to help protect our beautiful bay and watershed. Plus, it’s tasty stuff- a perfect light and crisp summer beer. So, if you drink Sow and Pigs, you’re helping yourself but you’re also helping save the Bay! How cool is that?

winter-in-the-brewersAnd whenever you happen to stop in (and you can all year because in colder months the party moves inside!) there will probably be some fun new brews to try. Maybe The Space Left Intentionally Blank will call to you- it’s a pale ale with an intriguing name which makes it way more interesting and fun to drink, or you could sample Lizzie’s Famous 81 Whacks India Red Ale. It’s hoppy and malty- a real killer!  But, perhaps you’ll keep it simple and just go with the Octoberfest because fancy names just aren’t your thing.  Really, you can’t go wrong.  Even if you aren’t a big fan of beer (which- um… what??!!) there is something for you. It’s called Farmers Fizz and ya’ll this stuff is yummy. It’s kind of like Prosecco- so yeah, yum. You non-beer drinkers (whoever you are) will like it.  I know it.

So, we have this pretty awesome brewery in Westport. And, in a few short months there are two – TWO!- breweries opening in New Bedford. Oh happy day! That’s honestly kind of life changing. And, it shows you that the beer culture on the South Coast is alive and well… thriving even. This is great news for all of us who live down here because we are starved for culture of any kind!  And beer culture, yep- I’ll take it!

Silver Linings

map_maine_portlandA few days after the marathon we headed up to Portland, ME. We had been planning to make our annual trek to see Marc’s cousin and his family on Friday, but after everything that had happened on Monday we felt the need to flee. We just wanted to get away from everything- the news, the fb posts, the images that were playing over and over again inside our heads. We had never been to Portland and had always wanted to go. It seemed like a good time to embrace a “why put off til tomorrow what you can do today?” mentality. And it was on the way to Quebec.. well, sort of.

We didn’t make any plans for the two days we would spend there except to book the only hotel we could find in town that had an available room. Spur of the moment trips during a school vacation week leave you with limited options. Lucky for us, the Portland Harbor Hotel was great. My daughter was delighted- when she saw our room she said “this is the best hotel we’ve ever stayed in with walls”. Yes, we have been known to drag our kids to far flung places, often staying in lodging we like to describe as “adventurous”. The kids usually roll with it- never even noticing that there’s anything amiss. The wall-less hut we stayed in during last year’s trip to Mexico registered though, apparently. Don’t worry- it was a nice hut- very nice actually, plus the beach we were situated on was breathtaking and the food served family style was a culinary delight. It was a lovely trip, except that a giant tropical bug crawled in my son’s ear one night while he slept and had to be removed by an EN&T doctor when we got back to Boston, BUT that’s a different story.

AnYWay- back to Portland. We had no idea it was such a foodie hotspot. What a find! We all love to eat!! We soothed our spirits with meal after meal of some of the best Portland had to offer (try Gorgeous Gelato, David’s, Hot Suppa, and the Standard Baking Co if you ever find yourself in Portland) and we savored every moment of our time together. Literally all we did for two days was wander the streets, thinking about where our next meal would be. We held hands, we laughed with the kids, we talked, we listened. We just spent time together. The kids were great – especially considering that aside from a trip to the Children’s Museum we didn’t do much to entertain them. We just wanted to BE. And we were. Portland was good for the soul. Good for us. For the first time in a very long time our only focus was on each other.

It was a quiet, reflective few days. We missed all the madness happening in Boston- we didn’t tune in AT ALL. I didn’t even know the extent of what had happened Thursday night and Friday until we got up to Quebec and heard from Marc’s cousins. And even then, we didn’t talk much about it. It was all still too raw. We were still digesting the event and trying to come to terms with what had happened- to us and everyone else that was there. We were grieving for those that were lost, and those that were suffering so much- who faced such an uncertain future. And we were grieving for Boston. Boston is home. Boston is a huge part of who we are. The main streets and the back allys, the public figures and the neighborhood friends, the landmarks and the hole-in-the-wall eateries, the small celebrations and the big events- we know it all intimately and it belongs to us.

We didn’t do too much in Quebec either. If you’ve been reading for a while you’ll remember what happened last year when we visited. If not, you can read about it here. Well, luckily, nothing like that happened this time. Noone pooped or puked in anyone’s bed, and the weather wasn’t even that bad. Well, considering it was Quebec in April, I mean. The sun even peaked out a little bit. It’s been years since we’ve seen the sun in Quebec! We usually bring the worst kind of weather. But maybe God was smiling down on us.

It was nice to get away for a few days. It didn’t change what happened, and it didn’t make it better. But it made us better. Not totally better- I think that will only come with time- but at least it started us a path that will make us better. Better as indivuals, and better as a family. Maybe that’s the silver lining. You know there always has to be one.