Archive for the 'Living Here' Category

Early Spring Blooms

Bradford Pears Line Boston Ave in Medford

Bradford Pears Line Boston Ave in Medford

A Boston Globe article on March 27th quoted scientists’ remarks about the early plants and blossoms we’re seeing this spring after the winter that wasn’t.  They expressed concern about the plants blooming far earlier than ever before – and called “this year’s blossoming one of the earliest in 140 years of recordkeeping.”

I decided to check on the dates of some of my spring photos and posts.  Sure enough, my daffodil photos from years past are dated April 20th and yet our garden is full of them now. The photo above shows the trees that line some of Medford’s streets each spring. Boston Ave. in spring is a corridor of white blossoms.

My post about the trees on Boston Ave a couple of years ago came out on April 10th.  This year, the trees -they’re Bradford pears – have already been in full bloom for at least a week or more.

You really have to wonder what’s going to happen long term to our New England plants and trees.  In the short term we better keep our fingers crossed that we don’t get any snow this spring.  The devastation caused by the last snowstorm when leaves were on the trees is sadly all too evident any time you drive on local highways and see the broken trees that still line the road.

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Weekend Red Line Service Restored

Weekend subway service is back on the Red Line

Weekend subway service is back on the Red Line

Wondering if you can take the Red Line T on the weekends?  Starting this weekend you can.  Hurrah!  Weekend Red Line service has been restored in Cambridge and Somerville.  It’s been a pain in the neck these past four months – on the weekends the Red Line subway passengers were bussed past Harvard Square.  So if you counted on catching the T at Alewife, Davis Square or Porter Square instead you were relegated to a shuttle bus on the weekend.

According to an article in today’s Boston Globe, the shutdown on the weekends enabled the T to take care of 100s of maintenance projects on the MBTA’s to do list.  That’s a good thing and happily we weren’t slogging through snow drifts this winter. But nothing beats hopping on the subway so all of us in North Cambridge and Davis Square are happy to be back to riding the T on the weekends.

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Gulf Station on Broadway in Somerville Added to the Hall of Fame

We use a lot of gas when we tour new real estate listings in Cambridge and Somerville.  We toured 14 properties on our tour this week and mid-tour my car was running on fumes.

I pulled into the Gulf Station at 583 Broadway in Somerville opposite Trum Field and Cedar Street. It was my first time there and since I had a car full of real estate agents somebody unrolled the window and asked for a fill up – thus foiling my usual “my-window-doesn’t-work” test to see if the attendant will come to my window.

Our chocolate bonus from Gulf Station on Broadway on top of Wednesday's real estate tour sheet

Our chocolate bonus from Gulf Station on Broadway on top of Wednesday's real estate tour sheet

Well the Gulf Station on Broadway is my latest addition to the Gas Station Hall of Fame.  Not only did the attendant come to my window to be paid – despite the easy opportunity to go to the passenger window – but he gave us a handful of chocolate too! We’ll definitely visit that gas station again.

Here’s my post about other local full serve gas stations with great service.

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Kendall Square in Boston Globe Magazine

Friendly Toast in Kendall Square

Friendly Toast in Kendall Square

It’s always good to see city squares getting their just due.  Today Kendall Square was featured as the cover story in the Boston Globe Magazine.

It’s a great article about a number of the newish places that have opened in the square.  Happily, the retail and restaurant infrastructure is finally catching up with all the workers and residents who fill Kendall Square.

I visited one Kendall Square restaurant not too long ago – The Friendly Toast.  The restaurant / diner opened in Kendall in 2009 (I’m a little slow on the uptake) and is wildly popular – especially for weekend brunch.  The decor is wall-to-wall vintage kitsch – all I could think when I saw it was “Wow – I could open a restaurant and have a place to put all my stuff.”

I love the display pictured at right – it’s not a Barbie – it’s a full-size mannequin at the Friendly Toast. It makes a hugely valuable point that people who have the I-can’t-be-bothered-with-cash mindset are missing – credit costs all of us and threatens to put many smaller retailers out of business. There just isn’t enough meat on the bone to survive after Visa and Mastercharge take their sizable cut.  In case you can’t read the sign on the mannequin – the Friendly Toast is paying a whopping $5500 per month on credit card fees.  In self defense they installed a no-fee ATM for customers.

 

The Friendly Toast is at One Kendall Square (don’t you love that kind of address?! – It’s near the Kendall Square Theater, by the intersection of Hampshire and Broadway), Cambridge MA 02139.

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The Whole Hub Catalogue

The Whole Hub Catalogue - Cambridge and Boston in 1973

The Whole Hub Catalogue - Boston and Cambridge in 1973

I scored this great find at the Christ Church Thrift Store this afternoon.  The Whole Hub Catalogue was published in 1973.  It’s a take-off on the Whole Earth Catalog put out by BU students.  When I was little my parents’ copy of The Last Whole Earth Catalog was one of my favorite reads.  I had to have this book.

The Whole Hub Catalogue is very much a product of its times with sections that include the Draft and Women’s Lib /Men’s Lib. It’s also a snapshot in time – with the radio stations, newspapers, and lots of lots of shops, restaurants and bars that could be found in Boston and Cambridge in 1973.  Sadly – many, perhaps most, are no longer.

Flipping through the book has reignited my plan for a page on Centers and Squares to document Cambridge Stores and More of Yore (that’s my working title!).  I’m going to be putting together a list of old favorites that once were in Cambridge but are no longer with us.  I’ve got my favorites – Dazzle, Reading International, the Wursthaus, and the Cambridge Country Store come to mind –  and I’m going back further than that based on my Dad’s recollections of growing up in Cambridge 70+ years ago.

I’m hoping the page becomes a collaborative effort and encourage you to reply with a comment about favorites you want to add to the list.  Any and all recollections will be enthusiastically welcomed as we build the list.

 

The Christ Church Thrift Store is in Harvard Square at 17 Farwell Place. Hours from September to June are Tuesday and Thursday from 10 to 4 and Saturday 11:30 to 2:30. Check it out!

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Buying Fresh Produce in Cambridge

Check out the Cambridge Winter Farmers' Market

Check out the Cambridge Winter Farmers' Market

Today I came across two signs advertising opportunities for buying fresh produce in Cambridge.

One was the sign at right in Central Square for the new Winter Farmers’ Market in Cambridge. 

The Cambridge Winter Farmers’ Market is running every Saturday through April 28, 2012 at the Cambridge Community Center at 5 Callender Street.  Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Callender Street runs off of Putnam Ave near the intersection with Western Ave.  In addition to fresh produce there’s an art gallery, live music, food demos and more.  Check out the Cambridge Winter Farmers’ Market website for more info.

In Huron Village near my office, I spotted a flyer posted by Sparrow Arc Farm advertising their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares for this summer and fall.  Sparrow Arc Farm will be dropping off subscribers’ fresh produce in Cambridge and Boston each week this season.  For more info or to sign up for a farm share you can call 207-323-4439 or email them via the contact button on their website.

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Sturbridge Day Trip

The Publick House in Sturbridge MA

The Publick House in Sturbridge MA

On Tuesday, my parents and I celebrated my birthday with a day trip to Sturbridge MA.  It couldn’t have been a better day.

Sturbridge is just an hour from Cambridge and its proximity makes Sturbridge an excellent weekend or day trip destination.  Head out the Mass Pike to Exit 9 and you’re there.

Our day was spent antiquing with lunch at one of our all-time favorite restaurants, the Publick House.

Sturbridge is an antique collector’s dream.  Continue down Route 20 and you’ll come to Brimfield, home three times each year to the famous antique flea market.  But year round you’ll find plenty of places to shop for antiques in the stores that line Route 20. 

You’ll also find a number of home furnishing stores and a variety of gift shops and boutiques.  It’s shopping heaven – primarily of the independent New England variety.  Even the chains, like  Country Curtains and Yankee Candle are New England born.

Our day started at the antiques group shop, The Fairgrounds Antique Center.  It’s one of the first places you come to when you get off the Mass Pike and take the Route 20 exit towards Sturbridge / Brimfield.  Years ago I sold antiques in a booth at The Fairgrounds and it’s still one of my favorite shops.  Fortunately, it’s next to a McDonald’s so my dad was able to have a cup of coffee and read the paper while my mother and I shopped.

We planned to visit the Old Sturbridge Village Gift Shop and Bookstore next.  Old Sturbridge Village is probably the biggest draw in Sturbridge and you can easily spend the entire day there.  The bookstore and gift shop is absolutely worth a stop even if you don’t go through the museum grounds. Sadly, it turned out that at this time of the year, OSV is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Old Sturbridge Village is a magical place.  It’s a recreation of a New England village in the early 1800s with a working farm, a school house, church, mills, and much more – more than 50 period buildings in all – set on over 200 acres.  Interpreters in costume work throughout the village.  My favorite times there have always been when visitor attendance is low – the better to feel transported to a time two hundred years ago.  I’m hoping to head back the next weekday we get unseasonably warm temperatures.

With all that shopping and browsing we had worked up an appetite and headed to the Publick House for lunch.  The Publick House, built in 1771, is an inn and restaurant. The restaurant and tavern serve classic, delicious New England-style food.  Over the years, we’ve visited many times, often for holiday meals at Christmas or Easter.  On Tuesday, we had lunch in the tavern for the first time.  The Publick House’s dining rooms are lovely, but with its golden painted paneled walls, wood burning fireplace, and shelves filled with antique crocks, the pub has more atmosphere than most restaurants you’ll find nowadays.

Thus fortified, we were ready for phase II of our antiquing expedition.  Sturbridge Antique Shops is on the other side of the Pike, heading down Route 20 towards Charlton.  It will be on your left and if you hit Wal-Mart (ugh! – when did that happen?) you’ve gone too far.  This group shop is huge – much larger than it looks from the street.  It has two full floors of booths and cases and we found plenty of treasures.  Happily, there was a sale at the shop – the winter sale runs through February 29th – and most of our finds were bought at a discount of 10 – 30%.

Sturbridge is an excellent day trip destination and worthy of a weekend or more.  There are plenty of motels (and rooms at the inn at the Publick House) if you want to stay overnight.  You could easily fill several days with shopping and Old Sturbridge Village.

If you want to add miles of antique flea market browsing to the mix, the next Brimfield Flea Markets are scheduled for May 6 – 12, July 8 -14, and September 2 – 8, 2012.  See you there!

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Where’s a Teenager When You Need One?

Teens Available for Shoveling in Cambridge

Teens Available for Shoveling in Cambridge

With so little snow this year it’s quite possible that you haven’t lined up a snow shoveling crew yet.  Years ago, it seemed easy to find a neighborhood teen to shovel, mow the lawn, babysit, etc.  But nowadays willing teens are sometimes difficult to find.

The Cambridge Council on Aging compiles a list every winter of teenagers who are looking for snow shoveling jobs.  The COA matches elderly or disabled residents with teens looking for work.  The resident and the teenager negotiate the rate and the teen is paid directly by the resident.

Interested teens can pick up an application at the Youth Employment Center at the high school (459 Broadway, Room 2101), the Senior Center (806 Mass Ave Cambridge), or the Office of Workforce Development (51 Inman Street).  The application is available online but must be returned to one of the three offices.

If you’re unable to shovel and need a referral you can contact the Cambridge Council on Aging at 617-349-6220.

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