Category Archives: Friends

Miss Me, But Let Me Go

What do you say about a woman who lived 91 years and never let an idle day go by in her life? That woman was Anne Powis. I met her at my previous employment when she was a volunteer and I was wet behind the ears. She never dwelled on her remarkable past because there was so much living to do in the present.

I remember being open-eyed as she related the story when she was a young woman working at a hotel in Vienna, 1938. The Anschluss occurred and overnight swastikas were everywhere. Anne and one other girl were chosen to wear traditional Austrian dress and stand on the hotel balcony when Hitler entered the city. The irony was that she and the girl were the only two Jews working at the hotel but they were the most “Germanic” looking on staff. Anne recalls the open sedan transporting Der Furher down the strasse.  Soon thereafter, SS men came to the hotel to inquire if any of the staff had problems with Anne and the other Jewish worker. No one did.

Anne’s father saw the writing on the wall and packed off his family to England and then finally to the United States. Always grateful for what this country did for her family, Anne wanted to give back and that she did.

Two years ago I nominated Anne for Outstanding Federal Volunteer for the Greater Boston Area. She was a finalist. I think she should have won, but obviously, I’m biased. Below is a portion of the nomination letter I wrote (with grateful input from my supervisor) on Anne’s behalf. Anne has so proud of her nomination and made tons of copies of the letter to give to family and friends. Hopefully, it will give you an idea of what sort of person she was:

A natualized citizen from Austria who has lived in the Boston area for decades, Anne has a special affinity for the tourist who’s English is, at best, hesitant. Fluent in English, French, German and Italian, Anne has made these visitors feel at home, providing knowledgable information as only a local can convey. Because of Anne, the visitor leaves […] not only with a map and brochure but they have met a representative of the opportunities America offers to those who build a new life here.

When asked why she has given so freely of her time for so many years, Anne, who with her parents, fled Austria before World War II, replied, “This country saved our lives and I wouldn’t be here today…I feel good that I am repaying in a small measure what the United States did for me and my family.” Arriving as a young woman in her twenties, Anne married, raised a family and lived the American Dream. […]

On the rare occasions that Anne can not come into work, her presence is sorely missed. Working […] without Anne’s assistance is like being stumped on a nationally telecast quiz show without a lifeline.

The last 6-8 months of Anne’s life were difficult. A series of health problems curtailed her mobility and she started to withdraw from her family and friends. The last time I spoke her, Anne cut the conversation short. At the time I didn’t understand why but perhaps Anne was preparing us for what she knew was coming.

On November 30, Anne left us bodily but her spirit and legacy will remain to all she met. At the funeral, Anne left instructions for this poem to be read:

When I come to the end of the road

And the sun has set for me,

I want no rites in a gloom-filled room,

Why cry for a soul set free!

Miss me a little – but not for long

And not with your head bowed low.

Remember the love that we once shared,

Miss me, but let me go.

For this journey that we all must take

And each must go alone;

It’s all a part of the Master’s plan

A step on the road to home.

When you are lonely and sick at heart

Go to the friends we know,

And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds.

Miss me, but let me go.

– Edgar Albert Guest

I will miss you, Anne.

Veggie Feast

I’m one of those “sorta” vegetarians. I can not do without a veggie omelette and salmon steak but I eschew dairy. (Makes me gassy.) About every four or five years I hold a Veggie Feast where I invite friends and family to my place where I cook a ton of vegetarian dishes. My last one was in New Bedford, MA (2004) and it had a brunch theme. Because this year I have a patio with a grill, the theme was a no-brainer, COOK-OUT!

Nine folks trekked all the way out to Leominster, MA for an afternoon of eats and conversation. The menu was:

Appetizers: Spinach-Artichoke Hummus, Avocado Salsa, Lentil-Bulgar Stuffed Grape Leaves

Main Course: Grilled Veggie Kabobs (in a homemade marinade), Spaghetti Salad, Sweet Potato Salad

Dessert: Fruit Tart, Oreo Truffles, Soy ice cream (the only store bought dish)  

I must admit it was hard work. I cooked most of the dishes the day before and was cooking about an hour before the first guests arrived but it was all worth it. Every dish came out spectacular (if I do say so myself) and each lady (it was a ladies-only event) went home with copies of all the recipes enclosed in a Night Garden Photography greeting card.

Where was Hubby? He worked that day and then headed over to his folks where his Dad grilled steak. They celebrated an anti-Veggie Feast.

I suppose the next Feast will be in 2013.

Where Ya Been?

I didn’t fall off the face of the earth. I’ve been watching each new day dawn over the United States of Obama. It’s all Unicorn Tails and Pixie Dust!!!

Really, I’ve just been keeping warm, doing a lot of baking and visiting friends. (I like this “retirement” thing.) The highlight of the week was visiting my old college buds down in Manchester, CT, the city that feels like a village or is it the village that feels like a city. I don’t remember exactly but I do recall that Manchester is called SILK CITY. (Sounds a bit kinky, doesn’t it!?!)

Exotic dancing aside, Silk City got it’s nome from the Cheney Brothers who were the kindly, wealthy silk manufacturers that made Manchester the city (or is it village?!?) it is today. If George Bailey had actually made money from his crummy Building & Loan, and his self-centered brother, Harry, stuck around, they would have been the Cheney Brothers. LIBRARIES! PARKS! OFFICE BUILDINGS! CUTE WORKER COTTAGES! I’m surprised Manchester wasn’t renamed Cheney City (or is it Cheney Village?!?) But that would have been too “Potterville” for these real life George Baileys.

A work of art

A work of art

My buds live in a real, honest to goodness mansion that had something to do with the Cheneys. Today the impressive abode has been split into very cool apartments. The wood work and flooring are first class and (this is going to sound odd) the door knobs and hinges are works of art. Don’t believe me? That’s one on the left.

The college buds are doing peachy keen in the Nutmeg State. They’ve been loving parents to their new son, Nico, who is as cute as a button and is a remarkably, unfussy baby. (Knock on wood!) I LOVE this pic of Mom and Son:
Sweet

Sweet

The Buds took Hubby and me to Corey’s Catsup & Mustard, situated on Main Street, just past the PRAYER TOWER. (Don’t ask.) The place is known for their pleasingly large hamburgers. Each hamburger was skewered with a gigantic steak knife. These knives would have made Lizzie Borden green with envy.

It was such a lovely visit and I think we overstayed (the guests who don’t leave – ARGH!!!) but it was long overdue. On the way home, we saw cars swerve to avoid a mattress boxspring in the middle of Route 384. Exciting!

Check out the pics (including the Prayer Tower and those Borden knives) on Flickr.

BTW: Wishing New Mother GOOD LUCK this week!!! She’s off to Hollywood to compete on Jeopardy!

Facebook, Schmacebook

O.K….I just joined Facebook. I put up a basic profile and immediately received a list of “potential” friends. You know, friends I haven’t talked to in twenty years or so. And I realized…I don’t really want to talk to them now.

Does that make me a bad person?

Introducing…

Remember that baby shower I attended over a month ago? Well, my friend wasn’t faking and she wasn’t pulling a Queen Mary phantom pregnancy. Check out Nico James. 🙂

Nico and family are doing fine.

Nico and family are doing fine.

She’s So Crafty

Recently I spent some quality time with an old chum in New Bedford, MA. Chum isn’t the right word. She’s one of my oldest and dearest friends. This chick has so many blessings, I would throttle her if I was still single. She’s married to an excellent musician with good financial sense (how rare is that?!?), has two really cool kids, has a BEAUTIFUL urban oasis in her backyard AND is way more crafty than Martha.

She’s started a small business called Park Street Studios selling hand made baskets and bags. I took these photos of some of her pieces. They make great gifts and hey…Christmas is right around the corner.

The Goods.

The Goods.

Baby Showers Ain’t So Bad

Hip Baby Favors

Hip Baby Favors

I’ll be 38 in three days and in those (nearly) 38 years I’ve attended many baby showers. The last one I attended was at least eight years ago. Yea, most of my girlfriends married and did the child thing in the Clinton Administration. But not all. A dear friend from my undergraduate days will be a first time mother next month and today was her shower.

Mother-to-be, JR, is the same age as me, as was most of the ladies attending the event. (Though there was a fair share of older and wiser women, too.) I noticed a difference between this shower and those of showers past. Those celebrating showers in their 20’s, the talk is all about BABIES, BABIES, BABIES. This one, where most of the women were older and their kids were toddler or beyond, the talk was mostly NOT about babies. I think that had to do with the amount of Pinot Grigio and Chardonney being downed.

There was the obligatory shower games. Using JR and (Father-to-be) A’s names as an acrostic, we had to come up with as many baby-related words which started with letters from their names. Whoever matched the most words to JR’s list of words, won. Well, as a newlywed with not a lot of baby experience, I was sh*% out of luck. For example, JR has an “E” in her name. Most people answered, “Enfamil.” (You know…the baby formula.) I answered, “Excrement,” because that’s what babies do. I didn’t win.

But I did win in the meeting-new-people-game. Here’s a shout out to Liz from Haverhill, “Hi, Liz!!!” She was super cool and needs to invite me to brunch once JR can drink alcohol again. Another shout out to Ananka (She didn’t look like an ancient Egyptian and I’m sure she doesn’t spell her name the way I did.) I’m hoping her toddler Parker goes to MIT and makes lots of money.

It was a great day greeting old friends and meeting new ones. I’ll need to have one of these parties some day. 😉 Check out my Flickr page for more shower scenes.

Where's my organic binky?

Where's my organic binky?