Sunday, January 22, 2017

"This is democracy!"

My sister-in-law, Cindy, and I attended the March on Washington this weekend. We rode there on a bus chartered by the Rhode Island Chapter of the March. Everyone who organized the March, nationally and our local representatives, did a wonderful job! The March was peaceful, there were no arrests, and there was no violence. There were just hundreds of thousands of friendly, helpful women, men and children brought together to be a voice for women's and human rights. There were far more men and children there than I ever expected.

When I decided to attend this March, my only concern was the crowd. I have had two really bad experiences with large crowds, and I was a little worried about being trapped in this one. Rightly so. Once we were in the thick of it, there was no escape. We could not see the edges of the crowd. It was the largest gathering of people I have ever experienced. I came prepared with my pee funnel and tissues, but I didn't need them. I drank a little, but not much. That was key to remaining comfortable in a situation that could be very uncomfortable. I had no idea where the port-o-johns were. I could see no way out at all. I decided to not be concerned with anything going into this March, and that is how I remained throughout.

Our crowd experience began on the Metro. It was so crowded, we could barely find a pole to hold on to. A nineteen-month-old boy in his mother's back carrier cried and was miserable. Once he saw his daddy, though, he calmed down and soon went to sleep. I was happy he did. It was not a good situation for small children, but I was happy to see this young family. There were many young women and men in attendance. Talking with them lifted my spirit. Groups of women led us in chants and song, which kept us laughing and in good spirits for the seemingly unending ride to L'Enfant Plaza from Tysons Corner. The cars were so crowded, people kept leaning against the doors which meant the train would not run and led to fifteen minute stops or longer at every station.

Exiting the cars, our numbers flooded out into the landing in search of enough lifts to get us up and outside. Most escalators were not running, so they were very long stairs. There were helpful officials directing us in a very efficient manner. We were in the midst of thousands of people slowly plodding along to the final immense climb up the still escalator to the daylight. My heart pumped for a long time after that climb. The wonderfully creative homemade signs and smiling faces with intermittent cheers made for a very festive atmosphere to keep me from freaking out about being trapped underground with no place to go.

Once outside, we just followed the crowd. We looked for our Rhode Island Concierge with the blue sash, but she was no where to be found, so we just went along on our own. We never saw anyone we knew and never marched with Rhode Island. As we walked towards the stage area, we could hear cheers in the distance. We flooded the streets and sidewalks to our destination, and once we arrived, we had no idea where to go from there.  We just went with the flow of people and decided it would be better to be near a jumbo-tron than just in the crowd with no way of knowing what was happening. We made our way to the corner of Independence Avenue and 12th Street by the Department of Agriculture, South Building, near a lovely arch. We were all frustrated that we could not really see well or hear the speeches or songs. But we made do with humoring each other. There was no cell service, so I couldn't text or phone our friend, Nancy, who wanted to meet with us. The only famous person I saw was Scarlett Johansson. Cindy happened to catch a glimpse of Michael Moore on a screen near the stage when we arrived. Then signs went up and we saw nothing after that. That's when we decided to find our way to one closer by our location.

Marchers were encouraged to bring food and drink to share. Cindy and I were prepared, and shared some of our snacks and an extra bottle of water with two children hunkered on the street next to their mother and us. I tried hard not to judge that mother for bringing her children into this situation with no food or drink to offer them. I let it go, though. This day was about sharing and being helpful. We stood there a very long time watching a jumbo-tron that stalled constantly and had intermittently working speakers.

After a very long time, the March began and we moved under those arches toward our final destination: The Ellipse (park) in front of the White House. There were fences and lots of open space between us and our new First Family's temporary home. Bands started to play and dancing Marchers sang in reverie and chanted in protest. We were inspired and very moved. There were banks and banks of port-o-johns with long lines at every one. People just kept coming and coming, and my feet and calves were killing me. I had to sit down on a bench.

Our friend, Nancy, was waiting for us at The Carousel in front of the Smithsonian Castle, but we couldn't get there in time to meet her. So, after finding a bench to rest and chat with a local woman, we went to The Castle to use their bathroom and have a snack. The line at the Smithsonian Metro stop was really long, but by the time we were ready to leave, we walked right in. Once again, officials directed us efficiently and we got back on another crowded train to return us to Tysons Corner. This time, we just chatted with those near us and there were no problems with long stops or doors that would not close. I chatted with a lovely Japanese woman who exclaimed, "Why is it that with every other job one must apply for, there are qualifications required, except for that of the President of the United States? Not only are there no qualifications or experience necessary, but there is also no vetting done on POTUS before he is given the job!" I had no reply, but she asked us all to be a voice for that point for her. I thought her request was very interesting.

We were exhausted at the end of the day, but inspired and energized by the energy of so many people gathered in one place. I marched in support of maintaining womens' rights and human rights. I want this country to move forward, not backward. I used my voice, and according to the news media, we were heard in The White House. My favorite chant of the day was, "Show me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like!"

Monday, December 26, 2016

Women's March On Washington

On January 21, 2017, the day after Donald Trump is inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States, my sister-in-law, Cindy, and I will join many other like-minded citizens in a march on our nation's capitol. Why am I marching? I am moved to march because I want to voice concern that women's and human rights not be set back to the dark ages.

I have no confidence after hearing language during the presidential campaign and seeing who President-Elect Trump is selecting for key Cabinet positions now that the rights of everone but white men will not be significantly reduced or eliminated. I hope I am proven wrong. I realize we have yet to see what transpires in a Trump Presidency, but from what I have seen to date, raising our minority voices is absolutely essential to make sure we are not ignored.

Only large gatherings seem to draw attention, and this gathering of strong voices all over our country at this crucial time will be important. We are using our rights of free speech, and I pray we will be heard in the White House and the Capitol. President-Elect Trump has promised BIG changes. Really big.

I just hope he delivers what the electorate who got him into the White House wanted. I also hope that what he delivers will benefit those less fortunate than him and his. America is already great. Let's see what he meant when he begins his term by making it "great again". Let's hope that the needs of the one don't outweigh the needs of the many when push comes to shove.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Kelly Clarkson Concert

Clarice (Cindy)
My sister-in-law turned sixty years old, so I got us tickets to see Kelly Clarkson at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA. I haven't been to this venue in over twenty years. It was "Great Woods" when I last took my Self to see Bonnie Raitt for a birthday I can't remember which one it was. My SIL and I call each other "Clarice".

The Selfie
Anyway, Clarice suggested we tailgate before the concert. Other than tailgating before a Gamecock football game in SC, I have never done it. We each brought food, and I shared gin and tonics because she didn't like what she brought.. It was a beautifully clear night; warm and humid. The parking lot was packed. Police rode on bicycles and golf carts in and out of the lanes between parked revelers enjoying hot dogs on the charcoal barbies, and certainly not advertising their alcohol because, after all, there is no public drinking allowed. One such cart announced over a bull horn that it was time to pack up and head into the concert. We grabbed a frozen margarita in a plastic guitar glass and found our seats.

Xfinity Center
The concert began on time with a young female artist, Abi Ann, I never heard of. I was surprised because Pentatonix were the only other act advertised. She sang a couple of songs I recognized ("My Future Ex-Boyfriend" for one) and thanked Kelly for inviting her to join her. Abi Ann was quite good. Next came Eric Hutchinson. A huge sign hung behind him saying, "Eric Hutchinson is pretty good." He was, but he was also pretty boring. His songs sounded much the same. There was another break to tear down one set and build the stage-on-stage with lighted stairs for Pentatonix. All I can say about them is, "Wow!".

Pentatonix is an incredibly talented, twenty-something a capella group of five: one female and four males. I discovered them on Facebook, and bought a couple of their Christmas CDs. Hearing them live and with Xfinity's sound system was an out-of-body experience. The tonal quality of their voices is angelic. They rock with the best of them, and I could not sit still. This is the real reason I bought these concert tickets. I wanted to hear this group. Boy, was I happy I did. Go see them. Really.

Kelly's hair
Kelly came out last, of course, and her performance did not disappoint. She looked beautiful. She wore gorgeous, sparkly gowns and lovely, chic dresses throughout the concert. She looked very much "the Lady", but also "the Diva". I loved her new hair! She had it pulled up away from her face in a sixty-esque pompadoo with a gigantic braid down her back. The sides were cut very short, like a little boys' cut around her ears. The affect was quite stunning.

Her voice was perfect too. I only heard one minor mishap, but she can really hit those powerful high notes. We stood and danced throughout her performance. We had no choice. Everybody in front of us was standing. When I needed a break from dancing, I sat and watched what I could of the stage and used the large screens to see her. One sweet moment I witnessed was a small group of two young mothers and their ten-year-oldish daughters a few rows in front of us. During one song each daughter sat with her mother's arm around her swaying back and forth. Next, they were up and dancing together like girlfriends. What a joy to watch this perfect mother-daughter bonding night.

I have to say that I was also impressed with Kelly's generosity of spirit. She made a point of saying she encourages would-be singers to send her videos. She got her start "in a big open-mike night covered on national television" (that made everybody laugh"), and likes to help others get their start. So, out of all the videos she received, she chose one from a very talented young woman of about sixteen (I would guess) from Millis, MA. I regret I can't remember her name. Her voice was solid, high and really good. Kelly asked her if she had a web site so everyone could find her, and she announced her You Tube site, but I can't remember what it was. Sorry. I confirmed again that if you want to make a living doing what you love, you need a web site. Just sayin. During the encore, Kelly gave a song to her backup singers. She claimed to have the best singers in the world and wanted us to be able to hear them perform. They were very good. Once again, I am impressed by her generosity.

What a night!
It was a great, rockin' concert. Clarice and I danced the entire time. It felt really good to be in the open air, in comfy seats with plenty of leg room, and up dancing to fun music. I have never been to a Kelly Clarkson concert before, and I have to say that she puts on a very good show. Bravo, Kelly! I'd go again. Thanks for a great night. Happy Belated Birthday to me and Clarice!!!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

There's a new library in town.

Larry and I attended the dedication of the brand new Tiverton Public Library. This was a project fourteen years plus in the making, and the results are just beautiful. The building itself is lovely, and according to many who spoke, very functional. There are free-standing computer workstations throughout. I was also told my existing library card will still work, and ordering books online will remain the same.

The event began with a local Boy Scout color guard, who led the Pledge of Allegiance. Larry, of course, took off his hat. The rest of us stood and recited what we learned so long ago in elementary school with hands held over our hearts. I teared up a little, and felt sad at all the controversy over this very patriotic ceremony. I just love it.

Next, the Greater Tiverton Community Chorus sang "From Sea to Shining Sea", by Samuel A. Ward. This is the chorus I sing in once a year. I plan to go back just to sing again this summer as well, but won't be here for the late August concerts. They did a beautiful job, and made me tear up again! I hooted loudly at the end feeling so proud of all my friends up there. I wished I was with them. They also ended the ceremony with a beautiful and very appropriate song, "Take Care of This House", by Leonard Bernstein. "...this house is the hope of us All." Lovely words.

Local people spoke about their love of this project and all the hard work that went into make this dream a reality. A particular favorite was Brett Pelletier, Town Council Liaison. He quoted his favorite author, P. G. Wodehouse, with "Right Ho!" to all involved, referencing his "Right Ho, Jeeves" book.

The keynote speaker was Michael J. Tougias, whose best-selling book, "King Phillip's War", includes this town and Little Compton's roles in that war. I bought a copy and asked him to autograph it. His latest book, "The Finest Hours", will be made into a Disney action movie set to come out in 2016. His entertaining speech talked about how libraries influenced his life in three different phases: when he was thirteen and got into lots of trouble in school, at age thirty when he began to write, and at age fifty when he continued to do research for his writing. He praised librarians and archivists for all their hard work, and credited their efforts to making his research and published works a success.

Childrens' Library
Larry also has shared with me how the principal of his middle school told his parents to, "get that boy to a library!" His parents followed that advice and now he is a successful Ph.D. Physicist. Libraries also played a huge role in my life. It was a place to get away from home at night, and meet my friends. I also got some work done that could not otherwise be done at home. I wonder if today's children will use the library in the same ways we did growing up.

Reading Room
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, we were all invited in for refreshments and to see the new library. We were very impressed, and glad we attended. Even though we didn't vote for the library, we will support it and use it about as much as we do now. It could be what the speakers called, "the Crown Jewel" of our town, and use of its building is "only limited by our imaginations". Let's assume they are all right, and it becomes the community jewel everyone hopes for. Congratulations to everyone who made it happen. It really is a lovely addition to our little town.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Last Night

After a hearty breakfast at Black Dog, we packed a bag and hopped on the #3 bus towards Aquinnah. We are very impressed with the bus system on the island. It is affordable, dependable, and easy to get anywhere you want to go. I don`t remember it being this good.

I read they moved the lighthouse 129 feet back from the cliffs. Erosion has really taken its toll, and we wanted to see it. The lighthouse is closer to the road, but there is still lots of landscaping to be done.

We got a soft serve ice cream and headed for the beach. The walk is still long, but also very beautiful. It was a gorgeous, sunny day in the high 60`s. Joanne picked our spot and we enjoyed a lovely afternoon of topless sunbathing.

She needed to leave her mark, so Joanne built a rock tower. I had a great time taking pictures. When we`d had enough, we dressed and headed back to the bus. We were exhausted, and knew if we came back to our room first, we would not get out again. So, given there aren`t many restaurants in Vineyard Haven, we went back to Black Dog to see if they served dinner.

We had delicious haddock and beef tenderloin dinners with red Sangria! We waddled back to Harbor Landing ready to shower and crash for the night.

This was another great day in a most welcomed and enjoyable early June weekend. We`ll get  Continental breakfast tomorrow, check out and head back on the #13 to Oak Bluffs for chowdah before boarding the ferry for home.

We are very glad we came. Thanks for coming along.

Saturday Night

After a lovely afternoon nap, we ventured to Main Street in Vineyard Haven to meet my friend, Claire. I hadn't seen her in many years. As we turned the corner, we ran into our new friend, Caitlyn Ferragamo wearing his Burberry skinny jeans,  and his friend coming out of The Mansion House. Screams and big hugs of welcome ensued. He said, "We`ve been talking about you all day and how you busted our balls." We said, "We`ve been talking about you all day, and I called you a diva in my blog!"

He showed us pictures they took yesterday, including a selfie in sombreros. Caitlyn had been showing us family pictures on the ferry too. They invited us up to the pergola tonight for wine. They belong to a wine club called Knights of the Wine Table, complete with a crest patch. We just might go.

After catching up with Claire, I asked her to drop us in Oak Bluffs. It was on her way anyway. We enjoyed several cocktails and food on the harbor at Lobsterville Restaurant for sunset, and made several more new friends.

We walked to Our Market for wine and beer, then flagged down the #13 bus to Vineyard Haven. It was packed with drunk young women. We all hooted and hollered together like girlfriends, then they hopped on the ferry and left the island. "Love you!" We all yelled. Then, we ended our evening drinking on the third-floor deck with a much improved view of the harbor lights now that the fire station is gone, and the ruckus in front of Cumberland Farms. Police were called. Another exciting night in the dry town of Vineyard Haven.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Visit to Martha`s Vineyard

My little sister invited me to use our other sister`s Harbor Landing timeshare in Vineyard Haven this weekend. What a great idea!

She came to our house in Rhode Island last night so we could leave at 7:00am to catch the 9:00 fast ferry out of New Bedford, MA. Neither of us had taken that ferry before. We decided the only thing that justified the $70 round trip ticket cost was not having to drive an extra three hours round trip to Woods Hole. I got the senior price of $60.

We left my car in the satellite parking lot a half-mile from the pier and took the shuttle. On it, we met two hilarious guys on their way to a Vineyard weekend bachelor party. One of them couldn`t find his Ferragamo wallet to pay for the $12/day parking fee after his friend drove and paid for gas. So, he became the butt of jokes for the rest of our trip over. Joanne nicknamed him Caitlyn Ferragamo because he wore red/pink shorts and was a bit of a diva. We enjoyed Bloody Mary`s on the very comfortable hour-long ferry ride into Oak Bluffs.

On arrival, we bid our new friends a dieu and headed to town. I over-packed my shoulder bag and exclaimed out loud how I wished there were lockers to put our heavy bags in. Check-in wasn`t til 3:00pm, and it was 10:00am. A guy overheard me and told us there were lockers at The Dockside across the street. I love being a member of the loud family!

After stashing our bags for $5, we headed to Circuit Ave., ending up at Linda Jeans for breakfast and watermelon mimosas. We talked about how much our mother loved this place. She came up a lot today. We were recapturing her memory and some of our own of this beautiful island.

We walked the Avenue to see what had changed in the more than a decade since either of us had been here. The Island movie theater has been condemned as unsafe and will likely be torn down. The only theater right now is in Vineyard Haven. We strolled around The Methodist Campground where the Gingerbread Houses are, and reminisced about our mother`s friend, Phyllis` cottage and her mother`s cottage next door. We talked about how Joanne`s girls played in the park out front with the cousins and how much Ma loved it here.

We stopped for a beer and Sushi afterwards, grabbed our bags and headed to the bus to Vineyard Haven to check in and take a nap. Now we`re getting ready to meet my friend, Claire, to get caught up. I haven`t seen her in a dog`s age. More laytah.