Tag Archive | blogging

Boston, Bedbugs and Ballyhoo – Another guest post about transplanting

These days it’s hard for me to figure out which end is up – even from all those moving boxes that actually say on them “this end up.” 

I want to focus inward and unpack and make this new house truly my home. 

I want to focus outward and see how I can make this suburban, manicured and perfectly landscaped property a little less perfect. A little more me. Outward more still and make some new friends and maybe even land a new job. 

Then there is the business of keeping my son entertained and occupied in the weeks he leaves before camp. 

It’s a good thing I can count on some great guest bloggers who have transplant stories of their own. 

The first in the lineup is Maya Rodgers who blogs at Pets and Pests. Originally from New England and with roots in the Boston area (a place we considered moving before we chose Detroit), Maya is excited to experience more of Raleigh, N.C., and would like to return more often to visit old friends in both Atlanta and Boston. She spends her days helping people exterminate bed bugs, palmetto bugs, and other crawly creatures for Terminix . I for one hope to never need her services, but if I do, I hope she has some connections in Michigan! 

Here is Maya’s tale: 

Part of the reason exploring new places is so wonderful is because it acts as a distorted mirror. It reflects you in a different light than you’re used to, and it teaches you important and silly things about yourself.

After college, I lived in Boston for a few years. New England had always been home, and Boston still hasn’t quite stopped being home for me. Like anywhere, it has its positive and negative aspects. I loved being able to walk almost anywhere, and if I couldn’t walk, I could take the T, or a combination T-and-bus route. I whined and complained about the public transportation when “switching problems at Park” led to long delays, but I loved it just the same.


Boston T sign courtesy of Paul Downey

I also loved splurging on expensive ice cream once in a blue moon at Toscanini’s in Central Square, and riding shotgun in a friend’s car for a late-night trip to Richie’s Slush (the best Italian ice ever – I highly recommend the lemon).

I haven’t lived in too many other places, but there seems to be something very special about the seasons in New England. Flowering trees in the gorgeous springtime, absolutely frigid temperatures in winter, and too hot in the summer, but fall was always my favorite season. The weather cools off, the mosquitoes start to go away, the air feels fresh and clean, and, of course, the leaves start to change color. One of my favorite places, the Boston Common, is wonderful in any season.

commonsBoston Common courtesy of Timothy Vollmer

The best part of any place, though, is the people. The friends who help you chip winter’s ice off the sidewalk, and the ones who wander around the North End with you, looking for some interesting-looking new restaurant.

I think that’s what’s hardest about moving. Not just gathering up your stuff, but leaving your loved ones behind while you go someplace you know almost nothing about and try to put down new roots.

After Boston, I moved to Atlanta for work. The biggest change I noticed initially was the pace of life. There were certain big-city aspects that went at light speed. For example, despite crazy Boston drivers, I’d never been tailgated quite as aggressively as when driving in Atlanta. The Perimeter (the road that circles most of Atlanta) has a posted speed limit of 55mph, but it’s five or six lanes wide each way, and even if you’re going 70, you’re the slowest person on the road. Out of their cars though, people move more slowly and demonstrate more politeness. People were sociable in stores, starting up friendly conversations at seemingly odd times.

I’ve always been much more of a walker than a driver, and although there are sidewalks on many of the roads, there are rarely pedestrians on them. The most people I ever saw outside was when the power went out in my neighborhood. Suddenly there were couples, families, and individuals like me, wandering around, enjoying what had become (after a quick pass-through storm) a beautiful evening. Perhaps something about the Atlanta heat means that people spend much more time in their cars no matter what the weather, but enjoying a walk after work, or strolling to the bookstore or coffee shop on the weekends, became an almost eerie experience, with everyone else racing by in their cars.

The bugs were another large shock. Palmetto bugs are much bigger than any roach I’d ever seen up north, and while they weren’t in my Atlanta home (that I knew of), they’d come out in Atlanta’s long summer, wandering around now and again on the pavement near my home. Needless to say, I kept my place meticulously clean in an effort to ward them off.

Moving from Boston to Atlanta changed me in a lot of ways. I became a more aggressive driver, for one, which partly meant that I stopped caring when someone tailgated me. I walked less, but took up jogging – even ran the Peachtree Road Race! I found a favorite bookstore (Peerless Book Store in Johns Creek), and browsed its shifting stock whenever I could. I also discovered air conditioning (which I’d never really had when living up north), and learned that I loved painting when I signed up for weekend painting classes. My speech patterns even changed a little bit. At first, I’d say “y’all” somewhat ironically. I’m not sure it sounds natural now, but it is more convenient than most other alternatives.

Perhaps most importantly, I stayed in touch with my friends in the Northeast – even became closer with some of them – and made quite a few Southern friends, both in and out of work. Having a dog makes for an instant socialization opportunity, especially if you visit the dog park at regular times.

garybrownMy dog Mindy, during a not-so-recent beach trip

I’ve recently transplanted once again to Raleigh (this time with a family in tow). So far, we’re all just figuring out where our favorite restaurants are (to date, the Irregardless Café is far and away my favorite), and discovering new things about ourselves.

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Just some thoughts before I go

It’s tomorrow.

Tonight, my kids will lay their heads down in their bedrooms in this house for the very last time.

Tomorrow, they’ll wake up early, duffel bags in tow, and leave their rooms, and this house, and this town as they catch the bus for camp. I usually have very mixed feelings about this departure – sad that we’ll be apart for a summer, but happy not to have to do their laundry or dishes for an entire summer, a parental sabbatical, if you will.

Tomorrow, I will nave no mixed feelings, as tomorrow the packers are also coming to pack us away for Detroit.

Get the mop, people!  I’ll be a puddle on the floor.

I guess if you’ve lived in a place for a while, the days before a big move can feel like somewhat like a mourning period. You long to hang onto the familiarity of the same streets and buildings. I will miss the sidewalks. I will miss knowing exactly what stars I’ll see during what time of year from the window above my bed.

The other night I took a final walk around the neighborhood with the husband. It is all we feel like doing Even though summer is heating up and there really is so much to DO in town (can you say, International Jazz Fest??),

Rochester International Jazz Festival

Rochester International Jazz Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

did you ever think there were this many people in Rochester who like to go out?

did you ever think there were this many people in Rochester who like to go out?

We are ready to go. Like Jodi Foster’s character in Contact, as she sat strapped into a chair on that weird launch pad, saying over and over again.


Ready to Go.

Ready to Go.

The next morning, husband and I woke up and went through our usual morning routine.  We have been apart for four months now save the weekends, so the bathroom with the two of us in it has been kind of … cozy.


I brushed. For the full two and one half minutes required for proper dental hygiene.

And he waited.

I then flossed.

Still he waited.

Then I cleansed and moisturized.

All the while, husband patiently waited. Isn’t he a darling?

Then, a realization. An epiphany!

In just a few days, husband and I will have his and her sinks!


Good Bye, Rochester!

P.S.: This will be my last post for a while, as I’ll be going off the grid during the move. Good thing I have one guest blogger lined up. A shout out: if any of you have a moving story to share about MOVING, write away, I’ll need some guest bloggers in the weeks to come as I come out from under a house worth of boxes!

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This Memorial Day, Skip the Sales. Visit a Graveyard.

I have a Facebook friend who lives right around the corner from me.  In the privacy of our own kitchens, we  use Facebook all day to stave off the isolation that comes with being a freelance writer or a painter. We chat and exchange ideas and opinions, sometimes the same, sometimes different, on Facebook nearly every day but rarely get together in real life.  A teacher and avid photographer as well as mother and artist, Carol blogs at watchmepaint.

This week, when Carol graciously shared my column about finding the true meaning of Memorial Day on her Facebook page, she added a comment  saying she would pay her respects by visiting a little-known cemetery in Brighton where there are graves that predate the Civil War. She described where it was to me and I still could not picture how a graveyard could exist hidden away one of Rochester’s busiest highways. So, being it was a gorgeous morning in May, I posted back “Take me with you!”

Every town has an old cemetery. The Brighton Cemetery, walking distance from our neighborhood, was founded in 1821 with some of its earliest graves dating back to 1814. Though the name served its purpose at the time, this part of Brighton was annexed to the City of Rochester in 1905. The cemetery now sits in Rochester’s 21st Ward, or for my reference point, three blocks away from the East Avenue  Wegmans.

it is located on Hoyt Place off Winton Avenue:

How many times have you passed this tiny street on your way to pick up some milk at Wegmans on East Ave?

This is a street I’ve driven past thousands of times without ever knowing what mysteries it contained. It is a street that time seemed to have forgotten, paved in the 1820s at the time of the building of the Erie Canal. As time passed, this part of the Erie Canal gave way to Route 490.

Tucked away into this street are centuries old mansions:

And then.. the Brighton Cemetery:

This week leading up to Memorial Day, find an old forgotten cemetery in your town. Dust off a gravestone to see who is buried there. You will be surprised to see that the many streets in your town just very well may be named for the names on the graves you find there.

And, if you see a grave marked with a flag, take some time to care for it. If the flag has toppled over, prop it back into the ground. Brush off the grass clippings that may be clinging to the stone. Read who the person was and the wars in which he fought.

Isn’t this a far better way of observing this holiday than, say, taking advantage of a mattress sale?

Topic #230: The meaning of the word kfajgi

I’ve been waiting for just the right time to blog about this made-up word that runs in my husband’s family. I was almost embarassed about the existence of this word but since WordPress is asking, I’m telling.

Now, kfajgi (pronounced ke-fag-ee) is a word that may have either Italian, Slavic or Yiddish origins. Let me show you how my mother and sister-in-laws use this word.

Kfajgi is used in terms of food: mostly pasta, sometimes lettuce.

For example, if you drain a pot of spaghetti and you let it sit in the colander for too long, it becomes kfajgi.

Or, if you leave lettuce in your lettuce crisper too long, and it is beyond use in a salad, getting soggy, it is kfajgi.

Perhaps, if seeing this, my mother-in-law can elaborate. Thanks for the inspiration, mom!

What I’ve learned from one year plus one month of Blogging

I’ve seen a lot of posts that celebrate bloggerversaries, for lack of a better word. So, as my blog approaches 20,000 hits by the end of the month,  here are some things I’ve learned about blogging, and the blog statistics that keep track of how my blog is viewed:

  • First, I am thankful for every hit to my blog and thank people for visiting Transplantednorth and the encouragement given through your comments.  To reciprocate, I do my best to read a few blogs each day and if I am searching for a topic, I search WordPress posts in addition to searching on Google.
  • There is a definate feeling of euphoria after a blog post has become Freshly Pressed. I got freshly pressed after blogging for only four months. But after that one glorious time, I am forever chasing to repeat that high like  a common  street junkie. Checking stats has become an obsession. One blogger likens the additiction to getting a high score on video games.
  • Like many bloggers, I am making no money doing this – yet. But like many bloggers, I am going to do my best to figure out how I can turn every hit into a dollar. Or at least a quarter.

Here is what I have learned from WordPress’s statistic keeping tools:

  •  There are people out there who really want Trader Joes to come to the Rochester area. The proof:  Over the last year, almost 100 searches about “Trader Joes Pittsford” or “Trader Joes Rochester” or “Trader Joes Western New York” drew readers, or at least clicks, to my blog post about my longing for Trader Joes to find a home in Rochester.  This post has received 259 views since I first put it up in September. And, it still gets about five views each day.
  • In spite of the ever-present permeance of  tweets and texts in everyday life, everyone still loves a good, old-fashioned, handwritten love letter.  There are people out there who are either lonely and want to read hand-written love letters, or who are searching for a love letter template to emulate. How do I know this? My post Hey…vs. the Love Letter, which I posted during National Letter Writing Week back in January, has received the most hits on my blog: a whopping 6,554 views.  I am almost tempted to take this post down. I don’t want to be pigeon-holed into becoming the love letter blogger. I never even posted an actual love letter.   But, it is a reliable draw to my blog, and it is my hope that once there, people will explore other dimensions of my writing. 
  • Hits to my blog definately slow down during vacation weeks, like Christmas and Easter week, and are slower in the summer months.
  • Bloggers are interested in gardening. At least they are interested in arugula:  I’ve had 172 hits to my blog in the last year as a result of people searching for “arugula.”
  • Since I’ve blogged about a cleanliness checklist for sleepaway campers, many out there are searching for “shampoo bottle” or “fish shaped shampoo bottle” have discovered my blog. I have no idea what or why these searches were performed, but I hope the searchers were happy to find my blog.

Overall, I have discovered that I have things to say and thoughts to think and there are people who want to read them. Even more than writing my weekly column in Rochester’s main newspaper, the Democrat & Chronicle, blogging has given me the confidence to know that yes, I can come up with ideas that I can put down and express in written words. And these ideas are sought after and (hopefully) read. With some fine tuning, I can turn these ideas into articles that I plan to pitch to publications.  Then, at last, my dream of writing for my life will be fulfilled.

…..Well, one can dream, can’t they? In the meantime, I’m off to wake the kids and make breakfast.

Arugula Pizza and other creations from my CSA box: Week Two

The first thing my friend asked when we arrived to split our first harvest from our East Hill Farms CSA was:

“Where’s the tomatoes?”

Actually, what he said was “Ma kara? Eiphoh ha tomatoes?” But for those of you who do not understand Hebrew, I’ve translated it for you.

This was a question of serious concern from my friend, a native Israeli. And Israelis take their tomato-cucumber salads very seriously.

This is the thing that one must understand when joining a local CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture farm: In early June, in Western New York, those coveted red, vine ripened tomatoes don’t exist. At least, not the kind that don’t grow in hothouses.

For those, we have to be patient.

But, here are some things I have made from our first helping of CSA vegetables from the East Hill Farm, plus the earliest herbs I’ve grown and picked in my own garden:

Lettuce – Not the durable, homogenous pale Romaine hearts you get in a plastic bag at the supermarket. But tender, sweet tasting lettuce. Naturally, these went immediately into a salad.

KaleHmmmm, that’s bitter stuff, you may think. But if you join a CSA, be prepared to get a lot of Kale. It really does taste great and is packed with nutrients. It’s best  sauteed with olive oil & garlic (the fresh kind provided by the CSA) for a warm salad. Drizzle it with Balsamic Vinegar and toss it with walnuts.

Bok Choy – I sauteed them with garlic and ginger.

Pea Shoots – I sautéed these right along with the Bok Choy.

Finally, something that did not come from my CSA but my own garden.

Arugula. Since I have blogged about growing arugula, I have received nearly 100 hits for people searching for arugula on the web.

One night, after shuttling my sons to and from their back-to-back baseball games,  I decided not to cook but instead ordered in a pizza.

To jazz up my pizza, I went to my garden. I picked out some baby arugula leaves.Washed them well. Plopped them on top of a pizza slice. Fantastic.

It’s not too late to plant arugula. In fact, it’s the right time to start some arugula seeds now, in a partially shady spot, to enjoy later this summer.

And, have no fear, judging from the yellow flowers that are forming on my tomato plants, I am sure those red globes of sumer deliciousness will be arriving very soon.

Postaday: The Most Important Thing is Love

Valentine’s Day is coming, and maybe the Beatles had it right: All You Need is Love. Lenny Kravetz also sang the truth in his song: You’ve Got to Let Love Rule.  With a two weeks to go, I guess people are looking for love in all sorts of places, including the blogosphere.

Unexpectedly, one post is attracting quite a lot of attention on my blog.  It isn’t a blog post that addresses any serious issue, like bullying, Israel, or  education. It’s about love, and in particular,  the dying art of writing and saving love letters.  But maybe I should expect such attention on a subject that is so universal and enduring.

This post has been read this week, so far – 335 times and counting. Traffic was drawn to my webiste over 320 times  – and counting –  this week through those who searched “love letter” or “old love letter.”

And this made me wonder – maybe romance isn’t dead. Maybe people still want to pause, be in the moment and pen old fashioned love letters. Maybe they realize that matters of the heart cannot be digitized into texts and tweets.  Maybe, in spite of technology, old-fashioned love endures.

For those of you who searched “love letter,” I can’t help but wonder – were you looking for an actual love letter template?   This written display of affection shouldn’t be approached as you would a resume and a CVC. I think the recipient of such a love letter would see right through the prefabrication of it.  Love letters are unique, like snowflakes. 

 Were you expecting me to print one of those love letters here? Sorry, but in a future post, I may discuss a box of love letters I found between my grandparents, written to each other when they were only 19.

So, in your search for love letters, I hope that you craft that perfect heartfelt prose to give to your loved one before February 14. 

Love should be about love. Acts of love should not be reserved to one date on the calendar. I think Valentine’s Day puts equal pressure on those Happy Loving Couples and All the Single People.  Valentines Day is on a Manic Monday and romantic feelings are somewhat hard to switch on between dinner, homework, and after school commitments.

For singles, you must start dreading this day right after the Christmas decorations come down in the store. It seems as soon as the trees and lights come down, the hearts, cards and candy go right up. For couples, it’s hard to throw on that romantic switch on a Monday night between dinner, working, homework with the kids  and after school commitments. So remember, love is every day and can be shown in different ways to the different people in your life. If it’s a stranger, hold the door open or leave behind a store coupon you are not going to use in just the right spot. If you are a parent, sneak in an extra treat into a lunchbox. If you are a teacher, teach with enthusiasm and energy for your students. If you are in a relationship, don’t take it for granted. Do some dishes unasked. And by all means, go buy that heart-shaped box of candy. If you search and put love into the universe, one day, love will find its way back to you.

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