Art is the Handmaid of Human Good

Life in Lowell, Massachusetts, USA

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Using the 19th

Election Day 2013

“I think the bicycle has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a bike. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammelled womanhood.” ~Susan B. Anthony

“The bicycle will inspire women with more courage, self-respect and self-reliance,and make the next generation more vigorous of mind and body; for feeble mothers do not produce great statesmen, scientists and scholars.” ~Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Election Day 2013

I was obviously thrilled to be able to ride my bicycle to the polls to vote this morning. As I was riding, I thought about the women who came before me and worked to secure so many of the rights I enjoy today. Imagine how happy Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton would be to see me riding my bicycle, wearing practical clothing of my own choice, to vote in an election with seven women on the ballot. So, friends, if you have an election today get out and vote.

If you’re interested in learning more about women’s suffrage, bicycles, and how they connect, I recommend A Wheel Within a Wheel by Frances E. Willard and Wheels of Change by Sue Macy. A Wheel Within a Wheel is a first-hand account of suffragette Frances Willard’s experience taking up bicycle riding at 53 (badass!) Wheels of Change is meant for younger readers but it provides a great overview the impact cycling had women’s lives and contains a lot of primary source material.



New Bike Lanes on Father Morissette Boulevard

I won’t lie, this post was probably going to be a bit snarky until the universe set my inner jackass straight by only showing me lovely things on my ride. I had a meeting this morning in the Acre, a neighborhood I haven’t really had a chance to ride through since we moved (it used to be a part of my daily commute.) While I would usually have ridden to my destination via Merrimack or Salem Street, today I decided to check out the new bike lanes on Fr. Morissette Blvd.

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Nemo 2013

As those of you on the east coast already know, we’re getting walloped with quite the winter nor’easter!

When I woke up yesterday morning, there were a few flakes flying and a dusting on the ground, so I took the pups to the forest for a walk.


Then, in the great procrastinator’s tradition, I made one last trip to the market for emergency supplies… I’m this case, it was a bulb of fennel.


I got the snowshoes out of the attic (where they’ve been since April 2010 😦 ) and Gist, Simon, Rudy, and I hunkered in to wait out the storm.


I did some work and made a big pot of tomato sauce to sustain us during our hibernation.

Sausage, onion, garlic, fennel & mushrooms...

I took Simon out for a walk at about 3:30 pm on Friday, and while it was snowy and windy, there wasn’t much accumulation.



After our walk, we settled in again for a long, cozy snowy night. Complete with yummy pasta! Thanks, fennel!

The final product: YUM!

The snow and wind really picked up after got dark, and we started to see some serious accumulation. When we went to sleep, we had about a foot of snow and we woke up to a winter wonderland!

Even though it was still snowing, still windy, and only 7:30 in the morning, I had to go out snowshoeing!






I would say that we have about two feet of snow, but there are definitely drifts of at least five feet. When I went out, I was hoping to cross my street, which is a busy four-lane boulevard, and walk along the esplanade along the Merrimack River. This didn’t happen. The pedestrian signal buttons were covered in banks/drifts that were twice as tall as I am, the road was white, and there were enough vehicles on the road that I didn’t feel safe crossing against the light. Instead I snowshoed around the block on side streets that had been plowed sometime during the storm but still had about eight inches on snow covering them. As I walked, I saw quite a few car-shaped lumps.

As I write this, at 9:30 on Saturday morning, it’s still snowing and very windy. There are a couple of plows and a bobcat working on clearing out our parking lot, but I think the cleanup after this storm is going to take awhile. I think today is going to be another hibernation day (maybe with a few side-street snowshoe breaks…) I am hoping that I’ll be able to make it to the forest tomorrow to do some snowshoeing; and I’m hoping to be able to bike to work on Monday (but I’m pretty sure I’ll be bussing it!)

As I get out during the day, I’ll post more pictures of the snow. I love the stuff, so I’m pleased! If you’re chillaxing with Nemo today, I hope it goes well and that you have power, lots of snacks, and someone to shovel you out 😉 If you are taking pictures of the snow, please share them!

Now… It’s waffle time!

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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!



I win at commuting!

Yeah, I win at commuting.

I’m sorry to be smug, but I really do win at commuting. Earlier this week I had an especially lovely commute along one of my absolute favorite pathways, the Northern Canal Walkway. The Northern Canal Walkway is a part of the Lowell National Historic Park’s ring of pathways that follow the canals that powered all of Lowell’s textile mills, and it is only officially open from May 15 to October 15 depending on the flow of the Merrimack River. In other words, it’s not accessible very often. It’s also very beautiful and has amazing views of the river, falls, and hydropower plant. It’s also a great place to see progress on the new University Avenue bridge. Continue reading

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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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Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies (or, my new go-to recipe.)

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been reading about Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain for months and I finally got a copy of my very own for Christmas.  The hype surrounding this book has been intense and I was really hoping that the recipes would be even half as good as people as people said they were.  The verdict after making these cookies: the hype is well deserved and the book is worth it just for this recipe alone (but there are also a bunch of other recipes that look equally amazing, so, YAY!)

The idea behind the book is that whole grain flours have more flavor than white flours and the recipes are designed to make the flavor of the various grains shine.  This recipe does that perfectly.  The whole wheat flour adds a rich, nutty flavor to the cookies that contrasts perfectly with the dark chocolate.  Gist and I both agree that these are the best cookies to come out of my kitchen (it doesn’t hurt that they also have the perfect crispy-chewy texture.) Continue reading