Posts Tagged With: Cambridge MA

Day 511: All-request Weekend

I wonder if you recognize the term in my title today: “All-request Weekend.”   I don’t know if radio stations, where you live, do those on holiday weekends.

In case you request a definition,  All-request Weekends are when a radio station counts down — from some number (like* 500)  to #1 —    songs that people request.  When I was regularly listening to All-request Weekends,  “Hey Jude” by the Beatles was often #1.

Perhaps (I humbly request), as you read this post, you might remember your own top song countdowns.

Oh!  I haven’t told you, yet, why I think “All-request Weekend” is such a great title for today’s blog post.  Yesterday’s post, Day 510: Order(s), featured one reader’s request that I smell some flowers. In response to that post, WordPresser Plant Electrician* requested that I smell some chocolate (and Diana Schwenk* added to the request that I taste the chocolate, too).  Since I followed all of those requests  — and because this is Memorial Day* Weekend in the USA — Voila!  It’s an All-request Weekend!

Is everybody with me?


After the requests came in, yesterday, from Plant Electrician and Diana, I asked myself:

What chocolate would I choose — from all the available options — to smell and taste, today?

… which was not the easiest question to answer.  First, I thought of the cupcake shop I visited a year ago* on Charles Street in Boston, but that place is currently closed.

The next thing I thought of was ….


For anybody who has attended MIT, Harvard, other local schools, or is at all familiar with the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Toscanini’s is

  1. A number one
  2. King of the hill
  3. Top of the heap
  4. Head of the List
  5. Top of the hill
  6. (ice) Cream of the crop

… and so on (including  other superlatives Frank Sinatra has sung in his hit, New York, New York*.

Speaking of New York, New York, the NY Times has rated Toscanini’s “The Best Ice Cream in the World.”

Speaking for myself, I used to habituate Toscanini’s all the time, but haven’t been there in many years.

May I request that you accompany me on my trip there?

Let’s go!

I made a brand new start of it* yesterday in Cambridge, like so:


And, like old times, I wanted to be a part of it, right through the very heart of it*:





… a heart, which as you can see, has a LOT of LIFE.

Before the chocolate at Toscanini’s, I wanted to have lunch.  And it seemed like Life Alive would give me a healthy balance for the sweets to come.


I know you can’t see the Life Alive meal options* in the above photo, but I wanted to get Order* into this post, too.

I requested “The Emperor” (which is #2 on the menu):


Then,  when I saw familiar sights on the walk down Massachusetts Avenue to Toscanini’s, I remembered to let them into my heart:









I also saw new things, and remembered to let them into my heart*, too:





As I turned onto Main Street and neared Toscanini’s, memories of  past amazing ice cream flavors  showed up. Counting those down:

#5 Chocolate Pudding

#4 Chocolate Chip

#3 White Chocolate

#2 Belgium Chocolate

#1 Some amazing flavor with giant chunks of delicious chocolate cookies, perhaps the best ice cream I’ve ever had in my life.

Where was I?  Oh, yes, approaching Toscanini’s, yesterday.  As I got closer, topping my Toscanini-memories was the place’s owner: Gus Rancatore.

Why?  Because Gus Rancatore:

  • is an incredibly friendly, nice guy.
  • was somebody I used to see a lot, in the 1980’s, when he, I, and several friends were REALLY into Jackie Chan’s Hong Kong films.*
  • is somebody I haven’t seen in a long time, and I wondered if there was any chance he would be there, on Memorial Day weekend.



He was!

Gus and I reminisced about the old days and — before I could even request anything — he gave me a sample of a brand-new, super-rich vanilla ice cream:


… which was amazing.  When I told Gus about my requested mission, he gave me samples of his top recommendations for the day’s chocolate choices …


… which included:

  • Belgium chocolate
  • Chocolate Pudding
  • Ovaltine* (not sampled), and
  • Chocolate sorbet, which was milk-free and, quoting Gus, “for people who are lactose intolerant or just intolerant.”

Gus and I discussed possible top-of-the-list chocolate orders* for me, and we decided on a micro-sized sundae with

  • Belgium Chocolate ice cream,
  • Salted Caramel ice cream,
  • a chocolate shell, and
  • whipped cream.


Request completed, deliciously!

After I said goodbye to Gus and Toscanini’s, I decided to make the day better, better, better, better, better, better, yeah! … with additional familiar — and new — Cambridge sights.











As I was finishing my chocolate-inspired adventure, I encountered one more request, to stop:




That’s Iris, who told me about this new Cambridge space, where there’s art, music, stand-up comedy, and more,  throughout the week. Upon my request, I also got a photo of her, Amanda, Jess, and Rilo  …


… but, as you can see, I barely had time to focus, because my phone was about to die. However, I requested a few more shots at EMW:


…. and then my phone died.

Maybe I’ll honor Iris’s request, and visit there again, soon.

Thanks to Plant Electrician*, Diana Schwenk*, David Frost*, the Beatles*, Frank Sinatra*, Gus Rancatore, chocolate, Iris, people who inhabit and/or have memories of Cambridge, anyone who makes (or fulfills) requests, all those observing Memorial Day, and to you — top of the heap! — for requesting and reading this post, today.

* Something or somebody I’ve requested you link to, in this post.

** That first photo of street signs includes a play on words, and is dedicated to all my pun- and classic-movie loving readers*.  My last request of this post: that anybody comment on that (or anything else).

Categories: inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Day 499: Random Numbers

On the last day of my first (and I originally thought only) Year1 of Living Non-Judmentally, I wrote this, in a footnote:

* I don’t want people to get the wrong idea, regarding my feelings about numbers. I love numbers, sometimes.  However, numbers are not my native language, so sometimes they challenge me. Hmmm. I don’t like the way I said that. “They challenge me” is too mild, too wimpy a statement. How about this? Sometime, I hate numbers. Nope, too strong.  How about this? Sometimes, numbers make me crazy.  Nope, “crazy” is not a great word for me to use. How about this?  Sometimes they make me angry. Nope, people have trouble with anger.  Arrrghh!  What’s the right word, regarding me and numbers?  Damned if I know, right now. Maybe I’ll figure that out next year.

 from Day 365: End of Year (Big Deal!)

It’s well into next year, and I have yet to figure out my feelings about — and relationship to —  numbers.

Here are some things I know:

  • I definitely notice numbers.
  • I can have trouble holding on to them.  For example, yesterday I had a 3:30 appointment with one of my doctors, and, in my mind, it was a 2 PM appointment. Another example: today I’m meeting an old friend from college, and I can’t remember how many years it’s been since the last time I saw him.
  • Remembering numbers can seem critical to my survival. Therefore, when I can’t access a number quickly, my automatic response can be negative (anxiety, self-criticism, worry, etc.)
  • There are lots of numbers to deal with, from the past, present, and (I assume) future.
  • I can’t quite figure out how important numbers are, for me.

Some numbers I’m thinking about, right now:

  1. How many more days should/will I stay home from work?2
  2. When I go back to work, how many hours per week will be the “correct” balance, taking into account my (a) health and (b) finances?3
  3. What’s a good-enough weight for me, right now?4
  4. How many more items will there be in this list?5
  5. How many more words in this morning’s post, before I’m done writing?6
  6. How many pictures will I show here?7

Hmmm. Some of those questions have more obvious answers than others. As always, I shall do my best, figuring things out.


I’m going to conclude this post with some recent photos I’ve taken. In order of appearance:


Here are some numbers regarding that photo.  The number of times I’ve walked by that sign: 100’s. The number of words — and legs — on that sign: 2.  The number of days since I took that photo:  I’m guessing … 5. Wait!  There’s some data I can check, to find out the actual number. Aha!  I was wrong (but very close) … it’s 6.



How many limbs there?  2.   How many limbs was I expecting?  4.



As you can see for yourself, there are lots of numbers in that photo.



How many dandelions in that photo?  3.   How many blisses?  The answer depends on what — and how — you’re counting.



How many times have I been to that restaurant? 1.   How many days before I expect to return? 3.



How many people in Massachusetts have a license plate with the word “Toad”? I’m assuming more than one.



How many strings on that instrument?  6.   How many stripes on those cushions?  Ahhhh … forget it.



How many papers is Harley sitting on?  1.    What’s on that paper?


Eeeeek!   Math!

Thanks to numbers everywhere, to people who have varying reactions to numbers, and to you — of course! — for reading this today (one time, I assume).

1   The year I started blogging was 2013.

2   Most likely, I’ll return to work in 2 days. 8

3   I’ll probably start out working about 12 hours/week, increasing as I can. 8

4  Weight is such a loaded issue.  I’m definitely NOT going into that now.

5  There were 6 items on that list.

6  I’m too impatient — or it’s just not important enough to me — to find out how many words I wrote after that.

7 I showed 9 photos. Or — more precisely — I showed 8 photos I had taken, plus one zoom, blow-up, close-up, or whatever-you-want-to-call-it.

8  These numbers are subject to change.

Categories: inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Day 301: Bearing up

Yesterday, I met my old friend Lawry in Harvard Square, Cambridge, for brunch, with some members of his family.

It was great to see everybody.  I loved talking to Lawry, his wife, his daughter, his sister, his brother, and his brother’s wife.

It was particularly special for me to spend time with them, because I had been feeling some anxiety, over the weekend, about my health (and some about the Boston Red Sox, too).

And it was wonderful to be back in Harvard Square. (See “What’s the problem?” and “Random Images (paired)“, two earlier posts, for more adventures in Harvard Square.)

Here’s a little photo essay, about my time in Harvard Square yesterday.

A Little Photo Essay

by Ann


On my way to meet Lawry and his family for brunch, I saw this amazing tree.  I had to stop and take a picture. Thank you, tree.

It was another beautiful autumn day. Those of us who live in the Greater Boston area have been remarking, this year, about how friggin’ great the fall weather has been.  Those of us who dread the onset of winter in the Greater Boston area have been wondering whether this is a good or bad omen about how painful it’s going to be, too soon. (Actually, I can only speak for my own thoughts about this.)


Moments after  I took that first shot of the tree,  I had to stop and take the above photo. Why?  It’s a sign about a group, people!


Here’s a closer shot of the sign (and some of the flags) that you can see in the background of the previous photo.



As I said, it was a beautiful day. Look at those trees and that sky.



Another sign in front of the church. I snapped this, as a is Note To Self:  “Ann, make sure you sing more (especially as the cold and dark descend)!”

After I took that photo, I stopped dilly-dallying, and focused on getting to brunch with Lawry and his family.

I didn’t have any photos of Lawry or his family members to show you today, because I was too focused on interacting with each of them, in the moment. Right now, I wish I had some visual proof of how great they all are, but you’ll just have to take my word for it.

After brunch, I went to Urban Outfitters because I needed a scarf and gloves — that is, gear for winter,  coming too soon to a location near me.

And …  I DID find a great scarf and some colorful gloves there, which definitely cheered me up. (My philosophy: If I’m going to be cold, I might as well look cool.)

While I was shopping  in the store, I couldn’t help but notice this:


I had never seen anything quite like THAT.  I’ve noticed lots of children — and adults — wearing animal hats in these parts, but a full-bear winter coat?  I was very intrigued, but assumed it was most likely just for display. (I mean, it’s almost Halloween, for heaven’s sake.)

However, when I was in line to pay for my merchandise, I noticed that the people in front of me — a woman and her son —  had just bought one of those bear coats, which was being stuffed into a bag. I blurted out, “Wow!  You got one of those!  Can I see it?”

The woman paused, but then kindly took it out of the bag, to show me. She told me it was for her son, Asa, who was a student at Boston College. “Will you try it on for me?” I asked Asa, as I told them both about this blog.

This was Asa’s reply:


How cool is THAT?

Now it’s a day later, and I’m still feeling better.

Many thanks to Asa and his mother, Lawry and his family, Christ Church Cambridge, Urban Outfitters, all things that make life bearable, and to you, of course, for reading today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Day 288: Expected/Unexpected

Yesterday, I went for a long walk, through places I’ve been before.

As a matter of fact,  I wrote a blog post, over 100 days ago, called “Surprised by Joy,” which included pictures from a similar walk.

I was surprised, again; this time, because part of the walk had been transformed. 

In previous visits, I had walked by a large portion of fenced-off land, where changes were obviously happening. Yesterday, I saw the result of those changes.

This morning, I would like to share some photos I took, as I encountered that unexpected transformation.

I don’t know details about this transformation, and I don’t have time to find out more right now, before I leave for work (after a 3-day weekend).

I do want to tell you one detail, though.

On my walk, yesterday, I did not expect to stop and take photos. I was focused on the purpose for the walk, with an end-point in mind. And I thought I knew what that walk would be.

But in the moment, yesterday, I stopped and looked.

Here are some photos I took, where everything old was new, again.











Thanks to the Mystic River Watershed, to all those who contributed to creating the images in this post, and to you, especially, for joining my path today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Day 218: What’s the problem?

I started this blog post, last night, around 1:15 AM:

So I’m going on a great trip, starting at 9:30 PM tonight, with my wonderful 15-year-old son.

Things are going well at work.

I’ve been enjoying writing this blog.

I feel like I’m learning a lot, every day.

I’ve prepared enough for this trip, definitely.

So what’s the problem?

Why am I anxious, fearful, wanting to hide, and irritated? Why am I focusing on worst case scenarios?  Why am I feeling overwhelmed by decisions I need to make about packing and so on, when I know there is no right or wrong decision, and it’s all solvable?

It doesn’t make sense.

Although I usually believe that everything makes sense, on some level.

And, as I’ve heard lots of people say, in similar situations, “I don’t like when I’m feeling this way. I SHOULDN’T be feeling this way.  I should be happy.”

Well, maybe I could try this: just be with the feelings.

Be pissed off and irritated, for no reason.

Be anxious and fretful, for no reason.

Instead of trying to overcome those uncomfortable feelings with positive re-thinking, maybe I could just be irrationally and unreasonably cranky, right now.

Okay, I’ll give myself an assignment: to have all those feelings I feel uncomfortable with right now:



Then, I put my laptop aside, and was able to fall asleep.  (Yay!)

Then, about an hour later, I woke up and text-messaged (!) my bf, who was downstairs:

“Hi Michael!”

I didn’t know if he would see the message, but I guess he did, because he came upstairs and we had an amazing talk about topics including childhood experiences, guilt, depression, and people we knew who had tried to commit suicide (and one who had succeeded). That might sound like an awful conversation to have at that particular time, when my hope was to fall back asleep and feel refreshed and ready for the rest of my trip preparations. But the conversation also included another topic. Love. So it was awe-ful, in a different way.

After the conversation, I cried. Hard.

It all helped.  And I fell back asleep.

Now it’s morning. And there are several things I have to do, including bringing my car into my mechanic for some unexpected, major work.

So what is it that I would like to write this morning, before I end this blog post?

Maybe this:

I am afraid of flying.

Actually, as an old friend pointed out to me a long time ago, regarding my fear of heights:  “Ann, you’re not afraid of heights. You’re afraid of dying.”

He was right.

Every time I’m going to fly, my busy human mind goes lots of places (as human minds do).  And my mind goes to the possibility that the plane will crash. Which affects my mood. Which increases my anxiety.

And which makes me feel like I need to get everything done, now, because what if I’m gone, tomorrow?

While living each day like it could be your last (something I’m pretty good at, with good reason) has an up side, for sure…

Like most things, it has a down side, too.

Before I close, I wanted to introduce you to a stranger I met yesterday.

I was walking around Harvard Square, in Cambridge, getting some foreign currency, playing with my travel anxieties by “rehearsing” various travel-y things, and pretending that I’d never been to Harvard Square before, when I walked by this guy:


I was distracted by lots of things, so it took me a moment to take that in.  When I did, I stopped, took out a dollar, and came back.  I told this guy, “I used to be in advertising, and that’s the best ad I’ve seen in MONTHS.”  Then, we had a great little conversation, where I ended up telling him that I was nervous about flying. He said, “Oh!  I understand!  But you know what?  Flying is the safest mode of travel.” And he told me that he knew what he was talking about, because he used to work for Delta Airlines.

And as we were having our conversation, several more people stopped, said something appreciative to him, and put money in his cup.

He also told me that he had several other signs he used.  He recited them all, with pride. I asked, “Which one does the best for you?”  And he gave me the answer I expected, “This one.”

Then, before I bid this gentleman adieu, I took his picture, told him I’d like to put him in my blog, and asked him his name.

“Caspar,” he said. “Like the friendly ghost.”

I like thinking that ghosts are friendly.

Thanks to Caspar, friendly creatures everywhere, and — of course! — you, for reading today.  Here’s hoping I’ll be continuing this blog, daily, on my travels with my son.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Blog at