Category Archives: Williamstown

International Women’s Day wheels

AAA188F6-02EF-4256-8952-923203547D9DYesterday turned out to be the perfect day to pick up my “new”car – a day designated to demonstrate honor and respect for women. What do my new car and this day of recognition have in common? Let me tell you.

I’ve done some things recently that have prompted people to remark that I’m some kind of exception because of my independence. Often, I travel alone. I’m not afraid to experience new things or attempt a new challenge. I’m not waiting for some sort of perfect situation to happen before I take a chance or make a leap. Life is too short.

While there have been men in my life who have provided incredible support to me, most of what I have has come from my own hard work and ability to live fairly simply. I have shoes that are older than my children and most of my furniture was purchased secondhand. I cut coupons and shop sales. And – perhaps most importantly, I pay my bills on time and don’t carry balances on credit cards. Because of all of these things, I have excellent credit and I’m really proud of that.

It seems that we live in a time in which many people are absolutely burdened by debt. Maintaining lifestyles beyond their means has almost become the American way. Brand new cars, fancy vacations and 3,000 square foot homes are the goal of many, it seems. I don’t think that’s ever been my bag. I mean, speaking of bags, sure, I like good quality handbags and boots, however, I have made it a habit to not overextend myself without the confidence that I could meet my financial obligations. My home is modest and it comes with an income built in, it’s a two-family house. My last car was purchased almost a decade ago and I haven’t had a car payment in years. I hope to pay this new car off on an accelerated basis, but if I don’t it won’t be tragic because my positive credit history provided me with an excellent interest rate of a loan from my credit union.

Here’s where the shout out to the women comes in – females, you need to work to be able to take care of yourself financially. It is no man in the universe’s responsibility to support an able woman. Of course, of course, there are exceptions. Maybe there are health considerations or some other reason for a man to be truly obligated financially to a woman, but generally? Women, we need to support ourselves. If you’re not savvy about your finances, get help. Figure out how to live on your income and stop letting money be a burden. That’s not what it’s for!

A day devoted to celebrating women is lovely. Being able to make a satisfying deal  for a new car* and obtaining the financing to purchase it within minutes, elated me even more. But, maybe that’s just me.

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I kept the Volvo .

*I purchased the car from Keeler and I couldn’t have been happier with the process. Direct, zero haggle, a couple of changes initiated only on my part and graciously accommodated…Anthony was the perfect salesman, or, as they dubbed him, motoring advisor.

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Filed under aging, moms, musings, Observations, Recommendations, Uncategorized, Williamstown, winter

Mezze

I finally got to Mezze, an awesome restaurant just south of Williamstown, MA., after years of hearing about it.  I’d heard praise for this place for so long, I can’t even remember who* originally recommended it.  Believe me, though, I would send that forgotten initial fan of the place a  “thank you” note if I could only remember who it was…

Anyway – we made a reservation via Open Table.  We weren’t offered great times, but went with the early option of 5:30 knowing that we needed to be at The Clark by 8 pm.  We actually arrived a bit early, a fact that I think worked in our favor as we were given a table great enough to prompt Aloysius to ask if I “knew someone” there.  We settled in to our comfortable corner spot and perused the menu, ultimately going with a cheese plate and a green salad to start, followed by brisket for him and beef for me, all accompanied by a delicious bottle of Spanish red.

A note about the service – it was so good!  Competent, pleasant, timely, basically everything I want when I’m going out for a meal, especially when I’m in a new place.

Fab Spanish red ($40)

The cheese was beautifully presented and consisted of a trio of cheeses, all originating from Vermont.  There was a fantastic blue cheese that absolutely popped with the wine – amazing!  Also present was an aged cheddar and a lovely goat’s milk cheese.  I wish I knew (and remembered) more about cheese…thank goodness the Cheese Traveler is now in the neighborhood to teach me everything!  The arugula was exactly as I anticipated – fresh, peppery, delicious and completely unappealing to Aloysius.  Perfect – more for me.

Pretty cheese course ($15)

We both enjoyed our entrees immensely.  The portions, preparation and accompaniments were all right on.  My beef was beautifully cooked, as ordered and tender and flavorful.  Aloysius barely spared a bite of his brisket, but I forgave him because I was so happy to see him enjoy a meal as much as he did.  (He’s kind of picky).  Here’s the menu for more deets, but keep in mind that the brisket isn’t on the current menu (current from last week, that is), and I think the beef preparation has changed, while the cut of  beef remained the same.

Bistro Steak, root veg puree ($28)

God, it is so nice to taste value in a meal and knowing that Mezze is less than an hour away gives me a new reason to head to Williamstown.  For additional Williamstown dining tips, read here.

*was it you, Rebecca?

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Filed under Dinner, drinking, Eating, Events, favorites, Food, friends, Recommendations, Restaurants, road trips, Williamstown, Wine

“I’ve already told you so much more than I know.” – Richard Russo

Forgive me if I’m still blushing, but, last night  I met one of my literary heroes and I’m still feeling a bit girlish.  Richard Russo participated in a panel discussion about translating the novel to the screen as part of the Williamstown Film Festival and, thanks to Joe Donahue sharing that information on air, I was front and center, literally.  No, really, I sat in the front row within 15 feet of Rick (as his co-panelists called him) and was utterly charmed by him.  I’ll tell you everything

About 5 years ago, I went on a Russo kick and read all of the novels he had published.  I was taken by his frankness, his nonjudgmental characterizations of the people who populated his world.  (Let me just say one thing, I have a degree in English, yet I feel unqualified to really talk literature.) Here’s how I see Richard Russo – he is the John Irving of upstate New York.  He’s one of us. He sees people in a respectful  manner, reserving his own judgment and simply allowing their story to be told.  I love his ability to make me smile and shake my head in a single sentence.  Amazing!  My favorite of Russo’s works is Bridge of Sighs and this is the piece that quaked me:

But each of them had walked through an open door, then heard it slam shut behind them and the mechanism lock.  While neither regretted her decision, knowing the door was locked was disconcerting just the same, as was the fact that their husbands, if they’d heard that same slam and click, seemed untroubled by it.  If anything, knowing there was no turning back was reassuring to them.  They never felt trapped,, never wondered about the mountain road not taken, never felt as though some important part of them was withering as another flourished, never were greedy for what they didn’t have and would never experience.”

Holy shit!  I had never heard that sensation described so accurately – much less by a male author emoting for a female character.  That was deep, sensitive, insightful, intense.  I grabbed my little black book and, after reading the passage an additional 1/2 dozen times or so, noted the passage.

I’ve shared this extended quote a time or two with friends that I knew would be moved by the words – male and female.  I certainly never imagined having an opportunity  to tell the author of those words how powerful I had found them to be. Goodness, I live a good and lucky life, because there I was at the Clark Art Museum walking down the hall next to Russo and telling him he inspired me to get divorced.  Just kidding!  Well, I did say that, but I was only kidding about his being to blame for my marital status.  I will, however, hold him completely responsible for writing words that truly inspire and move me, a state of being that I can only hope continues for many years, and books, to come.

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Filed under Aloysius, Books, Events, favorites, Williamstown

Falling in love again. With fall.

I’m sure that many people interpret autumn as the final punctuation to summer’s end. I prefer to think of it as more of a transitional time, an opportunity for appreciation and acknowledgement of a summer well-lived. You know me, I’m more a half-full kind of girl. While it is impossible to deny the shift in seasons as the days grow remarkably shorter and concerns switch from keeping cool to keeping cozy, I’ve always found fall to resonate more as a beginning than as an ending. There’s something about autumn that I simply find alluring and today, in honor of Christopher Columbus, I went exploring!

When I got in my car early in the afternoon, I had a loose plan – drive east, then north then west and south. Pretty simple, right? As I headed out there was a smile on my face as I thought of the sweetness of the day’s morning, as well as some of the oh so many fall walks I’ve enjoyed in my life. See, even as a teenager, I was compelled to spend as much time as possible outdoors during this time of year. I have distinct memories of walking the two miles into town and heading directly to the grocery store to satisfy my craving for an apple, red delicious, please.

Today I went for a “hike” in the woods. On my feet were a pair of Doc Martens, which are infinitely more suitable for running from the cops than running trails, but, run is what I wanted to do. My nose filled with the scent of decaying leaves and fresh, fresh air, and I had the urge to run until my lungs ached from gasping air that was colder than any oxygen inhaled in the last 5 months. Instead, I took in the view and relished my quiet alone time – it was just me, my camera and a red delicious apple. Check out my pictures and let’s pretend we went together.

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Filed under beauty, Exercise, favorites, Recommendations, road trips, upstate New York, Williamstown

Jeff Buckley and "The Last Goodbye."

image jeffbuckley.com
Almost 10 years ago a teacher/musician friend gave me a copy of Jeff Buckley’s album Grace and very seriously said the following: “Listen to this entire cd and you will agree with me that it is one of the best albums ever.  And, if you don’t agree, you’re just wrong.”  Okay…so I listened to the album and I liked it – falsetto voice and all.  And I listened to it again – and I liked it more.  And damn it, I fell in love with that cd and agree it is a definite deserted island album.
A couple of Sundays ago I saw an article in the NYT about a production being premiered at the Williamstown Theater Festival which sounded right up my alley – a retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with contemporary sets and costumes paired with Jeff Buckley’s music – wow!  Thank goodness that Christy over at Friday Puppy posted her impressions of the show, because, in all honesty, the Sunday morning I read the article followed a Saturday night filled with tequila and I may have temporarily forgotten about the show.  Hey – I was on vacation, give me a break.
image nelsap.org
After reading Christy’s post, I immediately went online to get a ticket, which was a good thing because the availability was extremely limited. My only complaint about the online buying experience was that it wasn’t possible to purchase a single ticket – when I requested one ticket, best available, none were offered.  But, anyway, I bought a couple of tickets and headed over this afternoon for a 3pm curtain.  I don’t know if you’ve been to Williamstown, but it is really lovely – the perfect place for an afternoon or for a $200,000+ Bachelor’s Degree.  I was a little disheartened to see some trees with orange leaves (gasp!), but generally enjoyed the drive, which I did in a loop going East through Troy/Petersburg and West through New Ashford/Averill Park.
The show was awesome!  The set was simple, but effective, the choreography was mostly cool (a little too jerky for my tastes in later scenes), the singing and music were right on, and the performers, with one exception, in my opinion, were terrific.  The woman who played Juliet (Kelli Barrett) had a super voice which I particularly enjoyed when she sang “strongly.” The other female standout, in a positive way, was Jo Lambert who played Mercutio and had one scene that was intensely powerful.  My only criticism of the cast (and what do I know?) was Chloe Webb in the role of the nurse – her wardrobe, voice and performance just didn’t work for me.  The male actors were all wonderful and did a tremendous job singing Jeff Buckley’s songs, which really can’t be too easy – well done, guys.  The production had me smiling  (and close to tears, as Amanda said, music is more than just lyrics and notes) and I really hope the show eventually gets seen by a much larger audience.  The shows runs until August 20th and if there are any tickets still available, you should definitely try to get yourself there.

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Filed under Events, Recommendations, Williamstown