Cornocopias and jello

imageThe year was 1977 or 8…. somewhere around there….my parents had just finished laying down the shag carpeting in the bathroom.  Just in time for the holidays.  Mom was furiously pledg’ing the knotty pine everything and humming to Barbra Streisand’s Christmas album.   Kelley (my cousin) and I were pawing through my mom’s jewelry box while she was distracted and Caty kept opening the fridge to check the jello.  We loved this time of year.  Suzie was in her room writing to Shaun Cassidy and pretending she was Cher, but she had a bowl haircut and if she had a mustache, ironically she wpuld be a dead ringer for Sonny.  Dad was probablu with Jimmy at the big Portland vs Deering football game and one year, I think when we were 11 ish, my cousin Jamie, who was 11 ish had to drive the celebrants home after the game….that morning. ….Ah holidays….the nostalgia of the jarred gravy, cheez whiz  the flammable decorations, the extended families – all coming together to argue, drink and talk politics with the background croonings of some Irish singers reminding us about poverty, blight and poor Danny Boy.   A time where the kids sneakily sip the wine and play yahtzee and drag fingers through the cool whipped and meringue pies in the fridge (“I did not!!! Jimmy did it!!!). When we dressed up to eat and had candles on the table and fights over who got the drumsticks…hell yes we had candles on the kids table….my mom, the Other Jackie Kennedy, was all about appearance.  My God what would the neighbors say if they saw a kids table adorned with paper turkeys and the odd cornocopia, for christ sake?

So this morning I am digging out my Grandma’s china and I am pledg’ing the ikea bookshelf and humming along to Eva Cassidy and wondering if the jello will jel and if Caty will dress like Martha Washington unintentionally again this year…Suzie grew her hair out when she was 10 when someone called her the cutest little boy for th last time…and never looked back….my own kids traditions- fighting over drumsticks and acting shocked and offended that Thanksgiving was not a gift getting holiday…will play itself out …and the cats and dogs on the table…picture perfect, better than candles or cornocopias.

Life is good.❤️

What are you reading?

imageI read before I walked, I swear.  I come from a long line of female thespians.  I read The Lingburgh Kidnapping when I was 8…. Wifey when I was 12.  I also know for a fact my sister would covertly tear out the last page of Agatha Christie or hide the latest VC Andrews “Flowers in the Attic” paperback…Kindle has wrecked reading.  Convenient yes, but you can’t trade kindles with your besties….and when the battery goes low…and a kindle is tricky on the beach.  I love books…spilling coffee on them. folding the right corner down to save your page, falling asleep mod chapter….and books are like Linus’s blankie to me.  Winter hibernation is good reading time.  I need to build up my reading list…so go ahead and leave a comment with some recommendations.  I will tell yoi the following authors should be your new best friends:  Fannie Flagg, Richard Russo, Elin Hildebrand, Annie Proulx, Wally Lamb, Carrie Fischer and Nora Ephron.  So give me something with some teeth- a good laugh, an interesting plot and not-married sex.  And if you ever want to peruse my little library, my bookshelf is your bookshelf…

Friday Grind….

cupFriday morning coffee at the Daily Grind with Joanne Minor…picked the coffee cup of the week…this about sums up my life….life is good especially with crème horns….it’s been quite a week, quite a month, but  Because you can’t measure life by the blows you take, but by the times you get up….especially when there are friends there to lift you.  Ok enough hallmark Christmas mushy stuff….

Got some Weekend Words of Wisdom from Java Joe…and if you haven’t been to the Daily Grind, what the hell are you waiting for?  Local business owned by a fantastic family – The Salisbury/Bearor/Petrie tribe.  They themselves support local businesses and organizations and when you walk in there – or drive through their little drive through- I guarantee you come out a little happier.

I asked Joe if he had any words of wisdom….but being the guy he is, humble and kind, all he could really comment on was how appreciative they are of their customers, especially the loyalty (Denise!  that was your word too)…and what he learned through this year of first time…was the customers were loyal and yet there was such a diversity amongst them.   He’s met a ton of people.  And if you are sitting in there drinking coffee, you see that this place is a magnet,  not only because of it’s yummy menu and strong coffee, but because you are met with kindness.  And there’s no price tag on that – kindness matters.  Kindness counts.  And in a world where negativity is so easy to blast, especially behind a keyboard…to approach another person face to face, no screen and to be kind….is epic.  And that is just plain good business.

Java Joe wants you to know the drive through is open on Thanksgiving until 1pm.  After you run or walk the fantastic Noyes Family 5k.  Tradition.  Until next week, Java Joe….



Person of Interest….

Icons.  You know them – the larger than life, the unforgettable…like Tom Petty and Snow White’s evil stepmother with the awesome outfit….Marilyn Monroe and Ben and Jerry of ice cream epicness…..but locally, we have icons.  I have always said if I wrote a book it would be the 12 most interesting people in the ‘brook.  There are more than 12 but you know what I mean.

So today, in the spirit of interesting, eccentricness (I made that word up) and icon-ness, I give to you, my interview with the outlandishly outstanding, brazen, bad ass Denise Corbett.  I had the pleasure of sitting down with her and subjecting myself to her intense focus, poker face, yet raised eyebrows as she saucily muttered, “Really Dorn?”  But first, a little history.  Denise and I met 15 years ago, approximately, when we super volunteered on many committees together.  From PTO’s, to little league to Bunco, we’ve been sidekicks for a looonnng time.. Pour yourself a cuppa coffee and read on…..

The Mermaid (me):  “Recently your oldest went off to MMA and you and Harry decided to downsize since there were only three of you….so you bought a house pretty much triple the size of your old one.  Why?”

D-Girl (my gang nickname for her):  “Well, Hal sold our house on For Sale by Owner by himself without any real thought in mind as to where we were going.  No contingency plan.  Our old house sold in 5 days.  We looked at everything from the Hamlet to Presidential, and then this house came on the market and we were in it for one second and said “We must buy this house.”  “This is a friendly house so I thought, maybe this will make me a friendlier person….it’s a welcoming house.”  And yes, if you were wondering…there is a Bunco reunion in the plans.

Me again: “Your mother, known city wide as The Nana, was a huge force in your life.  She was also from England, I’m sure a fact that escaped many despite her accent – she was an influential woman in your life.  What single lesson sticks out in your mind of what she may have taught or demonstrated to you?”

Denise:  “Loyalty.  My mom was loyal to a fault.”  What does that mean?  “She was almost the reverse of loyalty…she would bar her most favorite things, people, places if someone did something to someone she loved.  That’s it, you were done, no matter how much she loved you.”  “I think I am a pretty loyal friend, loyal to this town, to the schools, to my work.  I think loyalty is important.”

Me:  “You and Harry started dating when you were 12 or something like that.  Obviously he is the love of your life because you have been with him most of it.  Besides his fashion sense (Hollister velour red sweatsuit witnessed by me in 2009)…what is it about him that hasn’t made you drive over his teenage boy Nike’d foot?”

Denise:  “We stayed together because I was afraid my mother would get mad at me,” she said with that beautiful smile of hers.  “I’ve often wanted to kill him but didn’t want to upset the apple cart.”   Best trait of Harry’s – “Patience.  I am most likely the most difficult person in the world.  I am super demanding and literally have no patience outside of my kids.”  “He’s no peach, he is super nice, he is patient and he is not the easiest person to take care of.  But he takes care of me.  I would literally sit on the couch until May with the snow all around, but he shovels me out.”  “I saw my mother struggle without a husband so sometimes I tend to be independent, but really I rely on him.”

Me: ” You have a really big presence.  Your heart is huge, your aura encompasses whatever space you are in.  You are authentically you.  And you are outspoken.  What is it today that you are most involved in?  Most passionate about?  And have you ever beaten anyone up or does it just feel like that sometimes when witnessing your wrath?”

D-Girl:  “Yes to beat up and I have beaten someone up.  I don’t recommend either.”  “I am hyper focused on my kids right now because they are leaving.  You want to pat yourself on the back and the other part of you is saying “don’t go- come back”.  When asked about her incredible daughter Avery (aka Sister) and her success as a strong field hockey player this season she noted Avery could do anything and she would be proud…”Summer flew by.  Andy graduated, we sold a house, moved and Avery went to many camps for field hockey. She is passionate about it. Andy went to MMA, we dropped him off and I was sobbing – he was fine.”

Me:  “Finally, you have a close group of friends….from high school buddies, your drinking buddy before 11am on a weekday at Stockhouse….your workfriends, the Bunco chicks…and then there’s Karla, aka Bambi….she really took flight in a good way when Kaleb went to college – fly fishing, hiking, maybe she tried her first sip of wine, she grew her bangs a quarter of an inch longer…anyhow, you seem to have lasting, genuine relationships with women, including your daughter Sister.  Friends are your family.  What do you get from friendships that make them stick and what do you look for in friends – do you just recognize the kindred piece from the get go?”

Denise:  “Yes I recognize kindred from the get go.  I am the only child of a single mother…from another country.  If I didn’t make my friends my family, I wouldn’t have family.  And people return that to me.”  “I referred to myself as an orphan because both of my parents passed away but then I found out I had a sister.  She found me on facebook and I thought…”Oh hell this kills my orphan joke…”  I asked Denise if she met her.  “I did and I’ve visited her a few times.  At first I was afraid of a sibling coming out of the woodwork….I thought maybe the most toxic infested human being who wanted child support, but no, she is really smart and nice.”  “I do try to take good care of my friendships and those people take good care of me….like when Hal is at Rite Aid on my birthday….shopping for my gift.”

Random yes or no’s:

Do you watch the Gilmore Girls?  Yes.  Emily Gilmore is my favorite character.

Who is your favorite band because all we see is Harry at metal concerts with Post and Harnois…on facebook:  Right now the Lumineers and Taylor Swift.

What do you love most about the ‘brook?  So many memories, since 1985, good and bad.

Hate the most?  How intolerant some people have become, it’s not unique to here, but it impacts me because it’s home.

Favorite place to eat?  My house.

Favorite swear word:  The F word.  Always.  For fuck’s sake.

Denise, as always, time with you is time well spent.  Thank you for being so open and wonderful.




It’s the middle of the night or super dark thirty depending on how you look at it..

Unprecedented.  In the history of me, never have I had my first cup of coffee at 3:32am.  Never, unless maybe I was trying to sober up, but I can’t, in the history of me, remember ever being drunk enough to navigate coffee for sobriety.  All I can think of is maybe I was at a Denny’s somewhere some time late at night drinking coffee?  But that doesn’t sound right either.

I’m up with the pets and furiously pin’tresting Thanksgiving recipes and crafty little things for place settings.  Not that I am going to follow through with any of it, but I love reading recipes.  It all sounds so delicious and good.  I got a text earlier from my sister Caty asking if I thought anyone would notice the generic stouffer’s stuffing she planned on serving?  Probably not.  It will go great with the jarred gravy Mom whips up after she pours all the bird pan drippings down the garbage disposal.  The cranberry sauce will look beautiful in my Grandma’s lovely bone china serving bowl, but it will go untouched.  We should just save it every year.  Rolls will be covertly eaten because they are delicious but they are bad carbs.  So we sneak them in the bathroom and scarf them down….ah the squash – there she sits with only teaspoons of it going to the plates alongside the chunky mashed potatoes because it makes a sweet food vignette.  If you drown them enough in the jarred gravy, you hardly taste it, it all blends.  I for one love squash and use it as a filler in the big leftover sandwiches I eat for days.   The pies….well, I do document all the pies my dad makes because every year he becomes more like the Picasso – or some artist who paints abstracts- in his pie making ventures.  Last year the lemon meringue glowed in the dark.  This year I am hoping that the chocolate cream pie will have less of a hard shell on top from the pudding box circa 1923 he used to make the filler.  Sometimes he threatens to make an apple pie.  We tell him to go for it, we don’t care, but if he could just peel and chop the apples first, it would be easier for the kids, especially those sporting the primo orthodonture….

Name tags at all plates this year.  This will be helpful when we are yelling at the kids (or dad) and also so we can sit strategically.  I can’t sit across from my brother in law Matt and not fall asleep when he starts ranting about the Bruins.  Especially with turkey having that nap enzyme….last year he went on a tear about the Pats and we had to wake Mom up as her head was bobbing precariously close to the candelabra.

All in all, I am looking forward to Thanksgiving.  I love my family, they are unpredictable and I love the end of the day feeling of jammies, a big bowl of gravy soaked stuffing and Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  Corey and I do it all again on what we call “Second Thanksgiving” on Friday…only the pies, the pies he makes are truly food porn.

Life is good.

Defining moment….

The definition of mermaid according to Google:  mer*maid (n) :  a fictitious or mythical half-human sea creature with the head and trunk of a woman and the tail of a fish, conventionally depicted as beautiful with long flowing golden hair.

Maria’s definition:  An exhausted, over worked half human, half asleep creature with the head of a chief negotiator (parenting), intuitive (i.e. doubtful and pessimistic as a result of growing up in the 80’s, think molly ringwald breakfast club), and the tail of too many donuts and not enough burpees, conventionally depicted as once beautiful before teenagers with short, chemically altered golden hair, more often than not scrunchied even in the millennium years.

Why do I love mermaids?  It’s not the lore or childhood stuff – Ariel and all that crap….no a mermaid is bad ass.  Seriously she is.  She squeezes her legs and ass into the fin like it’s a big spanx.  She foregoes a bra and opts for seashells.  She rides the waves of discontent, she is ready for the incoming tide to wash over her and just as ready for it to pull back a way from her.  She swims with the fish, the nice ones like dolphins and sometimes has to tolerate or out -swim the sharks.  She rests on the rocks and the sun is her energy.  She is salty like the sea.  She doesn’t need rescuing, yet she is often the rescuer – again Ariel….still.  A mermaid keeps her head above water but she also plunges in.  She is not afraid to be different.  I wish I was a mermaid.  I sort of am.  The waves definitely hit me and the riptide pulls me under again and again, but I kick my fins and I fight and I resurface for air…readjust my sea shells….Are you a mermaid?  If you are, comment.  I think you are.  All the tough girls with golden hearts and fins of steel really are.

Look what washed up on the shore….

Ok, well here I am.  On a blog.  My own blog.  That I may or may not know how to do.  Is writing a blog like riding a bike or knitting?  You never really unlearn how but you also can’t really explain how to?  Regardless, I thought today was an auspicious day to begin this latest adventure.  It’s Sue Salisbury’s birthday, after all…and she is my muse….when she and Java Joe up and opened a coffee shop in the middle of the holiday season, winter… I thought to myself ….”they are crazy in that sort of way we all want to be…”  So why not join the bandwagon and just reinvent life.
I’m going to write a lot here.  Writing is my outlet.  Not calorific like White Russians (remember those?  Alcoholic chocolate milk almost) or wine,  running is my outlet too, but I don’t have cute shoes right now and it’s cold….writing.  It flows through me.  I’m going to tell you lots of things, but I might make up names to protect my kids, I mean the characters I write about….And interviews.  Yes interviews.  With good questions.  Not stupid questions like “If you were a fruit….”  I want to start with Denise but I really need to think about the questions.  I know you will want to hear her answers.

This blog is not for everyone.  I can take feedback as long as it’s intelligent.  Negative people just need to be directed back to therapy.  Stay off the keyboards and pull out your co-pay.  I want this to be a little ray of sunshine for you, a little time on the beach, even in the middle of a nor’easter….your toes in the sand, the salt in the wind and a feeling like you are sailing.  Life is good, my friends.