Friday, October 13, 2017

The Kind of Thing I Love to Hear

Last weekend at Maynard Fest I spoke to an acquaintance/friend whom I don't run into very often. This meant that we spent about twenty minutes standing in the street, where we tried to catch up on how life has been going for our families. He said something to me that I absolutely love and felt the need to share.

"We were thinking about moving, maybe to Florida or something—someplace warm, where the houses and general costs are less—but you can't take your community with you."

That's right.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

More Than Pleasantly Surprised by the Pleasant Cafe, and Other Local Good Stuff

A couple of weekends ago we had the luck of having a date night. Our daughter was at a birthday party sleepover and we were faced with a whole day of time to ourselves. I wanted to keep it local, but I also felt like I wanted to do something different.

We dusted off our tandem bike (it hadn't gotten out last year), and took the rail trail toward Stow. We even took it up into parts of the Assabet Wildlife Refuge.

While on the trail, we stopped to check out the new kayak launch at Ice House Landing. It looks really cool, and it's great that there's a parking lot just across the rail trail from it. So you can park your car and just walk your kayak across the trail and you're in the water. Kayakers have told me that one of the selling points is that you don't have to get your feet wet to get in the water. (If only there were a place that rented kayaks in town. How about near Ray and Sons, and they'd cart them over for you? Wishful thinking.)

Our nice, long bike ride led us to another Maynard Must—riding to Erikson's for ice cream. They were getting ready for their 80th anniversary celebration the next day.

In the evening there was an opening at 6 Bridges Gallery. The place was packed and people were having interesting conversations all around. There was the work of about 20 artists in this, their most recent, juried show with the theme of "connections," and many of the artists (from around the region) were in attendance.

Since we were sans kiddo, we decided we could really adult and have dinner at 9:00pm. That's right, the hour before 10:00! My husband wanted to have steak, and we needed to find a place to eat that would be open and serving at that hour. That's how we ended up at the Pleasant Cafe—they had steak tips on the menu, and they were open late. Let me just be honest here, I have lived in Maynard for twenty years and I had never been inside the Pleasant Cafe. I know, I know, shame on me, but my husband and I aren't really bar people, so unless the food is good, we're not going. Lucky for us, the food was excellent.

I had clam chowder to start, and he had a caprese salad. My chowder was good—a slightly tangier version than what I've had, but I liked it. The salad was great. But the steak tips were really, really, really good. We weren't that hungry, so we shared it, and that was plenty. We got to choose two sides, and I might have to say that the onion rings might be the best in town. On a whim I figured I'd make a healthy choice and order some green beans, not expecting much. They were bright and crisp, and obviously very fresh. I was totally impressed.

It was a little loud in the cafe during our dinner because when we arrived there was a DJ setting up. By 9:30 people were hitting the floor dancing. I don't dance, but I live vicariously through others, and we were lucky enough to have Bruce Davidson and Nicole Kosersky there cutting the rug. Have you ever seen that woman dance? She's the one who has led the flash mob during the Spring ArtWalk, and dancing seems to be her vocabulary (though the flash mob video doesn't show her talent).

As I said, we hadn't ever been in the PC before, and didn't get to see it before it was remodeled, but I like the way it looks. There's a nostalgic feel to it, with their old sign hung on the wall and the tin ceilings. There were a lot of younger patrons, but there seemed to be many regulars. There was a nice mixed-age feeling in the room.

We had a really nice day in Maynard all around, and I'm certain we'll be heading back to the Pleasant Cafe again soon. You can follow them on Facebook, too. Here's a link. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Ribbon Cutting for the Maynard Honeybee Meadow 6/24, 2pm

Let me start by saying that this post is a little self serving, because I'm on the project, but I don't even feel bad about it because it's such a cool and wonderful thing, and so many of you helped make it happen. 

On Saturday, June 24th at two o'clock, there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Maynard Honeybee Meadow. So many local citizens pitched in to help make this project happen, and Melissa Ljosa and I so appreciate it. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out the link to the original campaign.

As we've been working, especially Melissa (she's the real powerhouse behind this project), we've been delighting when each flower opens, when we find Maynard Rocks hidden on the edges of the meadow, when people are enjoying the benches, or folks are just stopping to say hello.

The Maynard Honeybee Meadow before work began.
When we started this project more than a year ago, I feared that maybe it wouldn't live up to our dreams. Boy was I wrong. The various parts of the project that needed to be made were sourced locally from our own high school students, artists, woodworkers, and landscapers. Every person involved put in so much time and effort, and when I look at the meadow, I can't imagine it feeling complete with out each of their contributions.

But don't expect to see any bees yet, not unless they're coming from other areas. They can't go in until we've completed the work that we need to do. Also, if you visit the meadow you'll see a section of garden that is more established than the rest. That part was seeded in the fall and shows nicely how the meadow is developing.

We hope you will join us on Saturday. There is going to be some live music, and kids can work together to paint some toad houses that we'll be putting in the meadow. We're also going to have a ladybug release!

Where: 63 Summer St., behind ArtSpace Maynard. Limited parking is available at the back of the building, or you can park along Summer Street, but pay attention to all the no parking signs in the area.

If you're visiting the meadow, please don't pick the flowers., and please stay on the paths—there are many fragile seedlings that are trying to establish themselves. Keep dogs on the paths and out of the plantings, and clean up after them if they've left a mess. Thank you for helping us keep the meadow beautiful and safe.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Maynard: My Place, Your Place

I like using the word "place" when I talk about our town. The word can be used to refer to ones' home, as in, "Come on over to my place after work today." But "place" means more than that. My favorite of all the different and subtle meanings is the one that kind of means "where you belong"—your place. I have a place in Maynard.

If I handed you a map of our town, and asked you to circle your place, your home, you might find your street and guess as to where your house or apartment might be. But your place is bigger than that.

With our town's land area being about five square miles (including a golf course and conservation land), our ten-thousand citizens are packed in pretty tight. You know what that means, don't you? Sure it means that, if you're a home owner, you might be sharing your driveway with a few different houses, or that your house takes up at least fifty percent of your lot space. But it also means that you are part of a close community where running into other Maynardians (Maynardites?) is just what happens. Around here, if we aren't friends, then we do our best to like each other and get along. I wish the whole country could live like this.

With such limited space, every person who lives in Maynard should consider the downtown as part of their property, like a giant family room. It's the place where we can go and hang out with friends without having to make sure that all the dishes in the sink have been washed and all the clothes are picked up off the floor. It's where we get to see people without having had to make an appointment. In fact, I get to see people in town that I never get to see anywhere else. They've never been to my house, and I've never been to theirs, and yet I feel close to them. Heck, some even send us greeting cards.

So utilize all your property. Put yourself into the Maynard family room. Get connected to people here, because the more people you know, the more you'll realize that you're home, that this is your place.

We all have a place in Maynard.

Art's Specialties—two thumbs up!

I finally got to meet Art, the owner of Art's Specialties. I had hoped to get over there for the wine and smoked fish tasting that he had on Saturday, but I was traveling. I was so bummed. I heard it was nice.

I found myself in there with another Maynard friend on Sunday afternoon, looking for something I could make for dinner. I got some Italian sausage (really delicious, and not like any I've had before) and some spinach and asiago stuffed ravioli. Also delicious.

While I was there, I decided to buy a bottle of wine. It just so happens that the one I picked up happened to be one of the wines he had sampled on Saturday. He suggested a wine tasting, and like that he had three bottles of wine out for us to try. It was great. I loved my purchase and left with a few other things, too.

If you haven't been in yet, stop by. They are open late by Maynard standards, so though you can stop in during the day (yes, even on a Monday), you stop in after work if that works for you.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Strange Things Seen in Maynard, Episode No. 5, The Man With the Giant Rabbit

Have you seen the man walking around downtown carrying really big rabbit on his shoulder? I caught a glimpse of him a few times, but wasn't fast enough to grab his picture. Fortunately, Catherine A. helped me out.

It seems the rabbit owner only holds it as pictured when he's showing people how big it is. Usually you'll see him with it on his shoulder snuggled against his neck.

For a small town, Maynard's got interesting, and that makes me happy.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Art's Specialties—Open and Delicious!

I thought to myself, If they have smoked salmon cream cheese, I will be in a happy place. I walked in to Art's Specialties, the new specialty food shop that just opened on Nason Street that I had been hearing so much about.

The man working immediately stepped forward to welcome me. I asked about the cream cheese. Smiling, he pointed it right out to me. I picked up the package to inspect it. "To Die For" was the brand name, and before I even had a chance to ask, he confirmed what I had heard. "That is made right here in Maynard over on Main Street." People had told me that. How could I not have known? Can you believe it? This stuff gets sold all over the place, but had not been sold right here at home. I suppose it's because we never had the kind of place that would carry it. Now we do.

I walked through the shop, more and more delighted with every step I took. Alessandro let me sample some jelly. Among basic flavors, you could get beer jelly and wine jelly, which I tried. They were good, and I could see gifting them to someone I like. Then I sampled some lemon pepper olive oil. I could smell the lemon. The oil was tasty and light.

Other things you'll find: tea in bulk, a wall of hot sauces, spices, olives, appetizer sausages, prosciutto, cheeses, specialty vinegars, Mexican chocolate, bulk nuts, crackers, and more. I hear that they're going to try and get a bread supplier, so we might also have crusty loaves in our futures. Price wise, this is a specialty shop with many imported items, so don't expect discount store prices.

After gathering up a handful of items, I made my way to the checkout, where Alessandro (the manager) and I chatted for a bit. This is such an important part of any Maynard transaction for me. Yes, I'm there to buy something, but I'm also there to be part of something, part of the community, I guess. He held up his end beautifully.

Things I would suggest for them—tasting events! A vinegar tasting event—teach me about vinegar. Same for olive oil. A hot sauce tasting would be challenging, but might be amusing.

You can keep track of them on Facebook, but you should really just make your way downtown. If you're reading this blog, it's likely you live here in Maynard, so you're not much more than a mile from their door.

Right now, the store hours are Monday through Saturday 10:00–8:00, Sunday 12:00–8:00, but once they've been here for a little bit they'll probably tweak their hours.