Art is the Handmaid of Human Good

Life in Lowell, Massachusetts, USA

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2012: Year in Review

Oh, 2012… What can I say about you? You were not the best year ever, although you brought some amazing and wonderful gifts. You were not the worst year, although you definitely brought some trials along with you. Mostly you were just weird and foggy and a little more challenging than you needed to be. Looking back, I think that everything ended up in mostly right places, but the getting there, oh the getting there, was not at all easy or clear.

A year in bike commuting...

I rode my bike for transportation more than ever this year, riding to work more often than driving or taking the bus.


Rudy joined our family this year.

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Doing our civic duty…

Doing our civic duty! #Lowell #Vote #UsingThe19th

Just in case you live under a rock, it’s election day here in the United States! As always, Gist and I did double-duty and combined our morning dog walk with a walk to the polls. It was a brisk morning and there was a (pretty long) line to vote; poor Rudy probably could have used a sweater this morning – he was shivering while we waited for Gist to finish voting (and also while they waited for me to finish voting.)

We will be anxiously watching the election results on teevee tonight,and I have a bit of a theme menu happening: Chicago-style deep-dish pizza (we were tempted to have Lou Malnati’s shipped but the challenge of home-made was too much for me to resist…) and garden-fresh salad, a tip of the hat to Barack and Michelle Obama.

So I told Gist that I was going to wear both my "Smart Women Vote" and my "I Vote" pins on Tuesday. Her response: "Smart women vote and so do you." Bada Bump!

As always, I am very excited to wear my “Smart Women Vote” and “I Vote” buttons today! Although I do wish that my polling place handed out “I Voted” stickers. I hope that, if you’re able, you’ve made it out to vote. Happy Election Day 2012!

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Adopted Islands


Last week at the Lowell Plan breakfast, I ran into one of my Public Matters classmates, Josè. I know he is a member of the Lions Club, so I mentioned how happy I was that the Lions Club had adopted two islands that I pass whenever I walk my dogs (so basically, all the time!)


These two islands used to be gross, trash-filled messes until a group of high school students in the Leo Club came out early one Saturday morning and cleaned them up and planted flowers. Since then, the islands have been lovely and well-kept. I’m never going to live down this statement but I may have told Josè (while were standing with a large group of people) that I don’t let my dogs use the islands as a bathroom. A little bit of the “broken windows” theory put into practice 😉


Anyway, I am very grateful for the Lions and Leos for turning something that was an eyesore into something that makes me smile every time I see it. Thank you!


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Using the 19th

Good morning! It’s primary day here in Massachusetts, so if you’ve been inspired or moved by anything said at the conventions, you should take a minute and head to the polls. Gist and I did double-duty this morning…

…Simon and Rudy’s morning walk was to our polling place and back. We arrived at around 7:30, and I was the first voter of the day.

There’s nothing I love more that starting my day by casting a ballot – it’s a better pick-me-up than coffee 😉

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Summer things….

I’m down the cape, making a farmers market panzanella while listening to tunes on my iPhone (the poor quality of the phone’s speaker transports me back to the battery-powered transistor radios of my youth,) trying to suck all of the marrow out of Summer 2012. In that spirit, here are a few summertime images for you. Fall will be here before we know it 😉












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My kind of town…

Our view
Our view

Gist and I just spent a very busy and very fun week in Chicago, IL and Lake Delavan, WI. My family is from Chicago, my father grew up on the South Side, and I was born there and lived there until I was four years old. My father is one of ten children and all but two of them call the Chicago area home for at least part of the year. All five of my Gries siblings plus my nephews and niece were in the area for at least part of the week, and we were all at the annual family Independence Day Party in Lake Delavan. Needless to say, it was a great time!

More of our view

Thanks to my brother, Bob, who runs a pretty tight ship, we were able to see most of Chicago’s fabulous museums and attractions.

The Field Museum

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My new favorite thing – seriously – DIY Deodorant

Guys, I have had a serious hippy epiphany and I am obsessed with making my own deodorant. I’m not even kidding here, I’ve become something of a DIY deodorant evangelist.

It all started with a casual conversation, which led to someone passing along just enough of this magical stuff to get me hooked, and now I’m making deodorant for myself and passing it along to anyone who expresses the tiniest glimmer of interest in making their own deodorant.

It’s easy, it’s cheap, it’s totally natural and non-toxic, and – most importantly – it works. It’s held up under the most trying conditions: bike commuting on a super-humid and gross 90°F day.

Basically what I am saying is that you should make this now. Right now.

The ingredients:
DYI Deodorant

  • 1/4 cup of baking soda
  • 5 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup of corn starch
  • A few drops of essential oil for scent – this is totally optional but nice

The method:
DYI Deodorant

Add the baking soda, coconut oil, and corn starch to your mixer (or a mixing bowl.)

DYI Deodorant

Cream them together until the consistency is to your liking. Add a few drops of essential oil and mix it in. Put your new, awesome deodorant into the container of your choice.

How to use it:
Grab a dime-sized dollop and rub it into your pits as needed. Feel smug and frugal/green/hippy-like while smelling fresh all day long.


Just what the doctor ordered…

Day 149 - Monday, May 28th 2012

Last weekend Gist, Simon, Rudy, and I were lucky enough to head out to Cape Cod to celebrate the unofficial start of summer. These past two months have been a bit more trying than they needed to be, and heading to the Cape for some relaxing in the salt air was a lovely dose of just what we needed.

We got to eat delicious food and drink delicious beer…


Day 147 - Saturday, May 26th 2012


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