Archive for the ‘New England’ Category

A brrrrthday to remember

August 18, 2009

If you’re melting in the heat of August, as we are in North Carolina, here’s a lovely story to cool you down.

(”Where they Went,” published June 14, 2009, Boston Globe)

Mary Kae Marinac (right), with her mother Barbara Marinac

Mary Kae Marinac (right), with her mother, Barbara Marinac

WHO: Mary Kae Marinac, 50, husband Paul Quirnbach, 49, their children, Jenn, 17, twins Will and Jeff, 15, of Andover; and her mother, Barbara Marinac, 75, of Bethel Park, Pa.

WHERE: New Hampshire

WHEN: A weekend in December

WHY: To celebrate Marinac’s 50th birthday

A snowshoe trek was meant to be

Have snowshoes, will travel

IDEAS AFOOT: “We were driving home from a particularly great hike last summer and the moon was coming out. I thought, wouldn’t it be great to do a full-moon hike? We love hiking and snowshoeing, and it’s one of the physical activities my autistic boys can participate in,” Mary Kae Marinac said. “Then I thought about my 50th birthday and looked it up and discovered there was a full moon that day, Dec. 12. I literally cried. It was a gift from the heavens. I knew a snowshoe trek was meant to be.”

Husband Paul Quirnbach and Mary Kae helping mother Barbara don her snowshoes

Husband Paul Quirnbach and Mary Kae helping mother Barbara don her snowshoes

MORE PARTYGOERS: “I spread the word, not expecting much interest,” she said. “I was amazed that my mother said she would come, though she kept mentioning how a cruise would have been nicer.” In time, siblings from Cleveland and Atlanta signed on, along with a friend from South Carolina, and others closer by. “In the end we had 20 people, ages 8 to 75.” Marinac settled on Lincoln Woods Trails in Lincoln, off the Kancamagus Highway. “The trails were basically flat along an 1870s logging road, and there was a huge parking lot where we could meet, and restrooms.”

Bridge across the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River in Lincoln

Bridge across the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River in Lincoln

GETTING INTO HOT WATER: An après-snowshoe party and overnight stay were planned at Indian Head Resort in Lincoln. “It has a year-round heated outdoor pool, and the kids love it.” As it turned out, the resort had electricity when many places did not, as Marinac’s birthday coincided with the ice storm. “We lost power at our house, as did most partygoers. I thought people might not come, but some said, “Oh, my god, I get to take a hot shower.”

Barbara Marinac (righ) with granddaughter my daughter Jenn Quirnbach

Jenn Quirnbach with her grandmother

MOONLIT MAGIC: The group convened at the hotel and caravanned from there. “I prepared a care package for each guest. Jeff painted little Shaker boxes and inside were headlamps, snacks, and a local tourist map. When we got to the trail it was like a party atmosphere, everyone with headlights on, teaching people to put snowshoes on, with the younger people helping the older ones.” They walked a little over 3 miles, and everyone loved it, Marinac said. “Just before we started, around 6 p.m., the moon broke through the clouds. On top of the full moon, it was a time when it was closer to Earth, so it was bigger and brighter. I have this image of looking at the full moon from the suspension bridge across the Pemigewasset River as it swayed, filled with all the people I love.”

Happy Fourth in photos

July 1, 2009

Most of America’s patriotic songs are about appreciating the wonders of our country, “from sea to shining sea.”  Wessel and I often travel over the July Fourth holiday, and usually to small towns. This year, we’re off to Waynesville, NC, in the shadow of the Smoky Mountains. Here’s a little photo homage to some Independence Days past, in cities large and small, at home and away. Where will you be this weekend?

Fireworks Boston

Boston Harbor in 2003, my last summer there, and Wessel's first and final

Uncle Sam in parade in Hingham, Mass.

Uncle Sam (really) at a parade in Hingham, Mass., 2003. Is he still around?

Wessel celebrates Fourth with socks

Dutch citizen Wessel practices his American patriotism

Celebratory glasses

Diane allows pal Alison Carpenter the honor of wearing her Fourth shades

Community band plays along banks of Ohio River in Paducah, Ky., 2007

Community band plays along banks of Ohio River in Paducah, Ky., 2007

Indepence Day yard props

Festive Independence Day decorations adorn a home in Wilmington, NC

Artist’s-eye view of Art Basel Miami Beach

June 4, 2009
Arden Gallery in Boston represents Joanne Mattera

Joanne Mattera wakes up Newbury Street with this piece at Arden Gallery in Boston

I met artist Joanne Mattera when I went to her 2003 show at Arden Gallery in Boston (one of my first outings with Wessel). I’m drawn to colorists, and she’s one of my favorite. I love, love, love her paintings. Joanne works in (and introduced me to) encaustic, a method of painting with translucent layers of wax. She literally wrote the book on it — “The Art of Encaustic Painting.” Coincidentally, this weekend Joanne is holding the third annual Encaustic Painting Conference at Montserrat College at Art in Beverly, Mass. I took an encaustic workshop last year in Chapel Hill, NC, with Lynn Bregman Blass, whose work I also greatly admire. Let’s just say that I’m sticking to writing (which Joanne also does a great job of in her blog).    

When Joanne sent me this idea for my “Where they Went” column in the Boston Globe, I thought it was great. So, enough intro, here we go:

(“Where they Went,” published April 26, 2009,  Boston Globe)

Joanne Mattera at Art Basel Miami Beach, reflected in screen by Mark Fox

Joanne Mattera gets artsy with a Mark Fox screen at Art Basel Miami Beach

WHO: Joanne Mattera of Salem, Mass., and New York City

WHERE: Miami.

WHEN: A week in December.

WHY: To attend Art Basel Miami Beach and related shows. “My life and my art life are intertwined,” said Mattera, a painter mostly in encaustic who is represented by Arden Gallery in Boston. “Look what I do for fun: I go look at art.”

Joanne reflected in Anish Kapoor sculpture

Joanne reflects on Anish Kapoor sculpture

HOT SHOW: The prestigious Art Basel in South Florida, an international modern and contemporary art exhibit and sister show to Art Basel in Switzerland, has grown exponentially since its start in 2002, said Mattera, who has attended for the past four years. “It came out of nowhere and made this huge splash in the art world here. But then who wouldn’t want go to Florida in December?” Over the years, the show, held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, has inspired more than two dozen “satellite shows” both in surrounding venues and in Wynwood, Miami’s growing art district.

EXHIBITING THRIFT: “This is the first year I’ve been that I haven’t had work there, but I love the opportunity to go. My galleries weren’t participating, and fewer were overall because of the economy. Some dealers were saying they were going to sit it out this year.” Mattera has another reason for attending – she writes about the scene and the shows for Joanne Mattera Art Blog.

Joanne reflected in Garden Mirror by Olafur Eliasson

Joanne puts herself in "Garden Mirror" installation by Olafur Eliasson

ALL INCLUSIVE: “Except for a few art fairs, there is no other time and no other place that you can see art from dozens of countries and you get to chat with dealers, collectors, other artists, critics, and curators. Even though people are working, their guards are down, they’re relaxed.” The public attends, too, with tickets $35 a day or less. Many of the smaller shows are free or nominally priced.

MAJOR TO MINOR: A change this year, Mattera said, was fewer boundary-pushing pieces. “I think the economy made dealers bring some of their safer work.” Art Basel also is a market for dealers to sell big-name work for millions. “You might have a Picasso or a Miró or a Warhol. But at the smaller venues, you find work from galleries like in Boston and other regions at prices of $10,000 and under, much under.”

SEE, SEE, SEE: Mattera doesn’t seek or find inspiration at Art Basel. “I have a path for my work and an approach and it doesn’t really matter what I see or where I am. It’s an interior dialogue. So for me it’s not about getting ideas, but it is about connecting with the larger art world to see what’s going on. You want to know what’s out there, and see it all.”

Sweets for the sweet (that’s you!)

May 6, 2009

This just in (June 2009)! Dean’s Sweets won  a “Best of New England 2009” award  from Yankee Magazine and a “Best of Portland” 2009 award from the Portland Phoenix. Yee-haw!!!!

Dear Chocolate fans (i.e. the world),

Truffles from Dean`s Sweets

They're as good as they look

I know this is hard to believe, but I’m going to keep this short and sweet, just like Dean’sSweets’ “extraordinary hand-dipped” truffles.

That description is taken from the ad copy, yes. But it’s true! These amazing truffles are sold at a store in the historic seaport of Portland, Maine, and online. Dean’sSweets says Mother’s Day is a great time to buy truffles. I say: ANY day is a great day to buy truffles.

Kristin Thalheimer and Dean Bingham in their new store on 82 Middle Street in Portland, Maine

Dean Bingham and his lovely assistant, Kristin Thalheimer

Now here’s my full disclosure. I know Dean (Bingham) and his sweet and lovely wife, Kristin. But here’s my other disclosure. If I didn’t love Dean’s truffles, no way would I be singing their praises. And I’m not doing it to get a free lifetime supply of truffles because, guess what? I already basically have one. In fact, I’ve been wanting to write about the “new” store, which opened in November, but it’s taken Dean and Kristin this long to get photos to me. Why? Because they’re so busy making and selling truffles, of course!

I’ve always loved, loved, loved chocolate, and when I tasted my first Dean’sSweets truffle, I was in heaven. But then I thought, maybe all truffles taste like this and these are nothing special. So I started tasting truffles at every opportunity. And here’s the outcome of my reporting: Dean’s are indeed very, very special. Dean, a professional, working architect, is as precise and artistic with his little chocolate creations as he is with his much bigger buildings.

Kristin and Dean in their new store on 82 Middle Street in Portland, Maine

Kristin and Dean are waiting for you at 82 Middle Street in Portland, Maine

Dean makes a bunch of flavors, including cinnamon, ginger, orange, coffee, cayenne, and many, many more. For a while I was hooked on cayenne, cinnamon, and ginger. But lately I’ve been loving plain old plain — just the chocolate, thank you. Another of his draws is he uses NO nut products. Personally, I’m nuts for nuts, too, but I realize many of y’all are allergic, and that is a crying shame.

Nicole Chaisson`s Hausfrau graphics decorate the store front

Nicole Chaisson makes her mark at Dean`sSweets

Here’s a cool aside, or maybe even a main/Maine event for you. Artist, and author Nicole Chaisson of Hausfrau Muthah-zine fame, will have her art and ‘zines on the walls and on hand at the shop for a spell. Nicole has a Hausfrau graphic novel coming out next month. Woo-hoo!.

So, OK, this wasn’t so short, but it was sweet. Visit Dean and Kristin in Portland, or order some truffles online. I swear to the goddess of chocolate, you will not be disappointed.

Still falling in love

February 14, 2009
Wessel's first snow shoe experience

Wessel's first snowshoe experience

I remember it so clearly. On our first date, Wessel arrived at my house in his boxy 21-year-old Mercedes Benz with his rented snowshoes and recently purchased cross-country skis. I was living in Quincy, Mass., near Boston, and Wessel lived a little south of me, in Hull. He’d moved from the Netherlands only a few months earlier for work (medical diagnostics).

Wessel is a big long-distance ice skater, but he’d only recently learned to ski, and he’d never snowshoed. That winter of 2002-3 had been wonderful for snow sports, and I often went to the nearby Blue Hills Reservation to take it all in.

We had first met on Valentine’s Day 2003, at the Delta baggage carousel at Logan Airport in Boston. Two weeks later, we met up for coffee, but mostly it was for an interview for the little ditty I wrote about his crazy ice-skating odyssey for my Boston Globe travel column. Our first “real” date was on March 8, 2003.

Diane takes a break

Diane takes a break

The activities were my idea. Since he’d only recently begun to ski, I figured we’d be equals on the snow, as I’ve skiied like a beginner for a decade now. And, of course, anyone can snowshoe.

The day was perfect, with deep snow, brilliantly blue skies, and little wind. We skied first, gliding slowly over the mostly flat trails, flanked with evergreens and bare branches. The snow sparkled. We talked and laughed and shared life stories.

Out in the Blue Hills as long as daylight allowed us

We didn't leave the Blue Hills until the moon started to rise

The snowshoe portion was all laughs. Wessel thought the sport, featuring giant foot coverings like tennis racquets, was pretty hilarious. We walked through the woods, creating our own trails as we went, then climbed up a hill to a rocky outcrop, where we could see the Boston skyline. We sat on a huge slab of granite to eat our sandwiches and I remember feeling the energy zing between us. I didn’t want the day to end. We left under a rising moon.

I invited Wessel to stay for dinner, figuring, sadly, that he probably had other plans, or had had enough for one date. Instead, he said yes. Woo-hoo! I cooked a simple pasta dish, and we shared a bottle of red wine. We talked and talked and hugged and hugged, and Wessel left around 1 a.m.

We started falling in love that day, and it hasn’t stopped.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you, my dear. Happy Valentine’s to all.