The Mombie Apocalypse: Put a Little Love in Your Heart

Please check out and share this zombie dance video on CrowdRise. Any donation to fund metastatic breast cancer research is greatly appreciated. (In the above video, I am in the front row, second from the left. At least I could hide behind zombie makeup and a tattered sweatshirt.)

As one of the 40 or so mombies (moms + zombies) who invaded my small town, I danced away in search not of brains, but of love.

I’m thrilled to have been a small part of the above fundraising dance video. Despite my dorky, dance-challenged self, it was an awesome experience, and I was inspired by the hard work and talent of the women who put this project together.

One of our mombies is the sister of the woman who founded the Cancer Couch Foundation after she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer, and the foundation has raised $1.5 million for metastatic breast cancer research.

We filmed the video about three weeks ago during a three-hour, very cold session filled with laughter and good cheer. 

Between takes at Ball & Socket Arts in Cheshire, CT

At the end of the video, we threw hearts in memory of loved ones we have lost to cancer.

Mine is decorated in memory of my mom and dad, who both died of cancer while much too young.

It was funny to converge upon Kinsmen Brewing
in our zombie makeup and clothes for an after party.

A few more photos…

On the way: a picture of one of my wounds, made from latex and toilet paper

Randy and I recreated the zombie kiss photo that was picked up by BuzzFeed years ago for their post called “12 Worst Types of Kisses.” (We were number 5: The Desert Rose.)

P.S. One of the funniest moments happened before I even got to the filming when I carpooled with a friend to the house of another friend. She was expecting us, so I gave a quick knock and opened the screen door. A completely flabbergasted man greeted me at the door. I didn’t recognize him, but gave a friendly hello. He stood there looking stunned and made no move to invite me in, and after a few awkward moments, I learned I was at the wrong house!

The story in a local newspaper, the Republican-American:

Day of the ‘Mombies’ in Cheshire

Update: Another newspaper article (in the Cheshire Herald)


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Paella for the Win: A Photo a Day for 365 Days

With a paella photo on New Year’s Eve, I took my 365th photo of the day.

Day 365: New Year’s Eve Paella

Previous posts:

Day 257: Court Coverage

This Photoshop of eight little Randys playing tennis was one of my favorites from the year for combining a lot of my loves: photography, tennis, experimentation, and family. It was for a “Multiplicity” challenge, and I had about 30 good tennis shots of my husband’s court wizardry to choose from. It was also a fun photo shoot, with my younger son feeding my husband the balls as I directed the shots I wanted.

And I only got hit in the head once, so I got that going for me — which is nice. 🙂

Here’s a roundup of my favorites from the final six months of my 365project.

Day 183: Polo Match

Day 185: Fourth of July

Day 193: Which Came First?

Day 196: Dark Reflection

I continued to enter various “mundane” challenges — Day 199: Sammie Love; Day 226: Remember to Brush; Day 250: Reality Can Be Elastic; and Day 269: Nut

Day 201: Left Side or Right Side

Admittedly very weird, the three pictures above were for a selfie “choices” challenge:

“I’ve read about how most faces are asymmetrical, so I played around with Photoshop to check out my own face. My actual self-portrait is the center image. The left image is made up of the left side of my face for the left half, which I then copied, flipped, and pasted into the spot for the right side of my face. The right image is made up the same way from only the right side of my face. I’ve been looking at this face for over 50 years, but I’m shocked at how different the two halves look! “

Day 206: The Silent Queen

Day 205: Three Knights | Day 298: Ziti Tower | Day 297: It’s Alive! | Day 217: Talk to the Tail Feathers

Day 221: Phenom

My husband and I didn’t take any big trips this year (two kids in college–oy), but we did get away for a couple of days for the Canadian Open, a tennis tournament in Montreal. There were so many top players there! Here’s “phenom” Alexander Zverev, who went on to win the tournament. (Flickr album: Rogers Cup, Montreal tennis 2017)

Day 247: Rafa!

I was even more thrilled later in the summer to get to see one of my favorite players of all time, Rafa Nadal, when a friend had extra tickets to the US Open. Nadal also went on to win the tournament! (Flickr album: US Open 2017)

Day 252: The Alley Cats (I replaced this photo in the official project because I “cheated.” I know I am a nut.)

My friend Karin and I played in a local tennis tournament as “The Alley Cats” — great fun, and we won the costume contest! We’ve played together for three years in a row, dressing up in silly costumes each time.

Day 246: Bodhran | Day 259: Then and Now: Readyset Royal and Android | Day 281: Say Cheese | Day 288: Murder Most Foul

Day 308: Balloon, Take Two

Day 327: 18 Years of Thanksgiving

Day 332: Abominable Bokeh

In this one, I tried a new technique: creating custom-shaped bokeh (the weirdly-shaped blurs of light in the background).

Day 339: Chopsticks

Day 348: Spot of Tea

Day 351: Christmas Cheer

Day 358: Christmas Eve Charcuterie
{Related post–What I Ate on Christmas: Charcuterie and Cider-Braised Pork}

While my inspiration to take creative photos waxed and waned throughout the year, I loved this project. More than a few times I resorted to snapping a boring picture of my dinner, but looking through the year brings back so many good memories. I also appreciate the supportive community of photographers on the site 365project. Members set creative challenges to get the “phojo” going, and they are so kind with their comments and encouragement.

Happy New Year to all!

{Celebrate your courage: Send me a postcard}

The last six months at a glance:

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What I Ate on Christmas: Charcuterie and Cider-Braised Pork

The celebrations began on Christmas Eve this year, with a cheese and charcuterie board stuffed to the brink with everything I could fit on it. We ate it by the fire.

Clockwise from top left: marinated mushrooms, Soppressata, pomegranate seeds, fresh blueberries, pistachio nuts, banana chips, brie, pretzel chips, mozzarella balls, crackers, cheddar, honey, Salami, Stilton with mango and crystalized ginger, toasted baguette, mustard, caramelized onions, cashews, chorizo, fresh cherries, goat cheese, Prosciutto, mixed olives, and fig preserves.

This was fantastic, and as fancy as it looks, the only cooking was making the caramelized onions, toasting the baguette, and heating the brie. We have some tweaks in mind if we do it again next year, but you know a meal’s a big hit when even the young men in the family take snapshots on their phones to share with their friends. I took photos from various angles before we could eat it: Christmas Eve Charcuterie (on Flickr.)

As always, Christmas day began with my popping a breakfast casserole that I had assembled the day before into the oven. I think the rest of the family set a record for sleeping in this year, so I turned the oven to low and played on the Internet until everyone awoke.

We had no lunch, so we were all eager for dinner when I finally got it on the table.


The  pork took a lot longer to get tender than I planned for. (I think I had it set too low.) It was worth the wait!

I served cider-braised pork with mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts with caramelized onions, and heartland chopped salad. For dessert, I tried slow cooker lava cake. It was pretty good, but the texture wasn’t great. (This was probably my fault after the delay with the pork.)

Our Christmas cocktail this year was hot buttered rum. It was fun to try, but a little too rich after a big meal.

Happy Holidays to all!


Years of Christmas past:

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Half Behind, Half Ahead: A Photo-a-Day Roundup

{January through March: Photo-a-Day Challenge: Part Diary, Part Experiment, Part Oh-No-I-Have-Nothing-to-Take-a-Picture-of-Today!}

Day 170: Flower Power (inspired by a Max Wanger photo)

I’m halfway through a project to publish a photo a day during 2017 and feel I am still going strong. I’ve gotten used to bringing my camera around with me, and I still take advantage of challenges and themes each week to give me ideas. Here are some of my favorites from the spring.

Day 150: The Unusual Suspects

This shot was for a “line ups” theme. I liked it largely for the fun I had writing the below narrative about these bad boys.

They call that first guy the Knight and say he likes to bludgeon his victims with that morning star he’s always carrying around. That next one’s an old salty dog who’s been up to no good again down at the docks. That third miscreant is convinced he’s a spaceman and has been hanging around with a nefarious cowboy who collapses the instant a person comes around. But the most dangerous suspect? A good cop gone bad.

Day 91: Not Another Bite

Day 94: Read

Day 99: Keep Your Sunny Side Up, Up

Above: I had to make a spatula the star for a “mundane challenge.” Below: A behind-the-scenes look. We didn’t pull off the clouds. We thought too late that we should have tried egg whites. At least we had French toast and bacon for breakfast after the shoot.

Day 102: Spoonful

Day 104: Dancer at Nom Wah Tea Parlor

This beautiful young woman danced into my frame as I photographed a dim sum restaurant in New York City’s Chinatown on my birthday. I entered it in a street photography challenge. {Link–From Chicken Feet to Swan Boats: Birthday Fun in New York and Boston}

Day 110: Bowling bling

Day 118: Just one telltale print left behind

Day 126: Daniel

Day 128: The wee folk moved out long ago

Day 136: Among the flowers

This was another “mundane challenge,” this one starring the lowly pencil.

Day 143: Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain

Day 154: Big Serve

I volunteered to take photos for a local tennis tournament. My photos may or may not have been better than my tennis. So many photos! Here’s the album on Flickr: Filipek Tournament, 2017

Day 159: Sparkling Smile

Just like my first three months, I can (almost) always talk my husband into posing for me. Thanks, honey!

Day 169: Clouds in My Coffee

Day 174: Bacon Jam Ambush

I liked this one because this guy’s surprise photobombing improved my boring photo.

The shot at the top of this post was for an artist’s challenge inspired by the work of Max Wanger. Sometimes it’s hard to pick which photo to use. Below: A few alternative shots.


Screenshots of April – June:

{Celebrate your courage: Send me a postcard}

Thanks everyone. Here’s to the summer!

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Eagles, Ospreys, and 42 Too: A Connecticut River Cruise

I enjoyed birding recently on a Connecticut River cruise, but the birds were maddeningly far away. An eagle at the end, though, posed for us in a tree that we could walk over to once back on land.

About to board, with the Goodspeed Opera House in the background. 

An osprey brings a fuzzy blob (sticks? a fish?) to its nest atop the bridge.

An awesome “42” for my collection — it’s a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy thing. Related: Ode to the Gargleblaster

Another 42! There’s a peek at an osprey’s black and white head in the nest.

These kids are punks, I can tell.
(Just kidding, actually. It was cold and raw out, and I admired their fortitude.)

An osprey with a fish

Some cormorants

This eagle made our day. From the boat, we saw it in a nest with a mate. It flew across the river and landed in a tree. After the cruise, we were able to walk over to it and photograph it for about 20 minutes. It eventually flew back to the nest. It was a thrilling end to the cruise to see an eagle up close.

(This was my photo of Day 120 for 365Project.)

 I took an Osprey/Eagle Cruise with Connecticut River Expeditions. It was the last cruise of its type this season.

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From Chicken Feet to Swan Boats: Birthday Fun in New York and Boston

{Celebrate your courage: Send me a postcard}

One of my favorite parts of a trip to New York City is always walking around looking at the people and the buildings, so for my birthday celebration my husband and I pretty much cut out all the “doing stuff” nonsense and just walked around the city all day. We clocked about 10 miles crisscrossing various neighborhoods in delightful inefficiency. I don’t think one degree in either direction could have made the weather more glorious for our walking tour. Here’s a map of some of the places we visited:

This itinerary came about partly by happenstance and partly by bad preparation. We’d had vague plans to possibly visit the Tenement Museum (sold out), MoMA (crazy crowded), and the 911 Memorial (decided a different time would be better), but we ended up doing none of those things and loving every minute of it.

Photo Tour of New York

I always love that first moment of entering the Main Concourse in Grand Central Station. The grandeur! The scope! The bustle! Nine times out of 10 I will utter a line from the movie American Graffiti, to the guaranteed annoyance of my husband, when Terry was trying to get busy in a car with Debbie, but people kept walking by: “Geez, it’s like Grand Central Station around here!”

We hopped on a subway and headed for Chinatown.

Dim Sum in Chinatown


I watched two people put away their bicycles in front of the Nom Wah Tea Parlor. As I took a few photographs, a beautiful young woman came dancing into the frame, did a twirl, and left as quickly as she had come. She was followed by a man who was filming her, apparently shooting a scene in a movie.

Dancer at the Nom Wah Tea Parlor

(This was my photo of Day 104 for 365Project.)

At a great spot in a nook by the window, we had a wonderful lunch of dim sum and chrysanthemum tea to celebrate my birthday.


Dim sum (clockwise from upper left): Chicken Feet (I really tried to like them. I didn’t find them unappealing in any sort of squeamish way, and their flavor was good, but they were just a gooey fatty little nibble at a time with a thousand tiny bones in the way, and my chopstick skills are mediocre at best, which didn’t help matters. I felt a little sad to leave almost all of them behind untouched, but we did our best), Cilantro and Scallion Rice Rolls (really tasty), Shanghainese Soup Dumplings (so great — a little burst of hot soup inside), Pan-Fried Pork Dumplings, and Shrimp Siu Mai.


{Related post: Birthday on the Brooklyn Bridge}

Fearless Girl


I was perfectly game to wait in the well-ordered line that formed for people to get their shot with the new “Fearless Girl” sculpture, but I think the crowd had it wrong. The line should have been to take a shot over the girl’s shoulder as she faced down the bull, but the popular consensus was to line up to have a portrait taken with the girl. The crowd did not ask for my views on this subject, so I waited in line and took my turn like everyone else. I got a picture of her with no bull in sight. (There’s a good shot here at the Boston Globe: Fearless Girl and Charging Bull.)

The famed new “Fearless Girl” sculpture faces down a raging crowd of tourists.

The High Line

Next we strolled along the High Line, an elevated park made on an old train line.


A lot more walking…

I like the sort of Taxi Driver feel to this one, and it’s another addition to my “42” collection.

We ended the day at a spot we both love, the Grand Central Oyster Bar.


We each had a rich and decadent pan roast, a seafood soup loaded with butter and cream that’s oh so delectable in every spoonful.

That wrapped up my birthday celebration in New York City, but I had another day of fun in store when my husband and I joined our boys in Boston the next day to celebrate with them.

Swan Boats on the Boston Common

Aside from going to lunch, walking around, and getting gelato, I picked out two activities to do with my family in Boston.

First up: Ride a swan boat on the Boston Common. This is exactly the type of quaint, nostalgic family fun that I could pull off on my birthday, but would be a hard sell to my grown sons the rest of the year. It was opening day! (I’d wanted to do it ever since our duck boat tour.)


(This was my photo of Day 105 for 365Project.)

My sons and husband were all sweet to indulge me in doing whatever I wanted for my birthday. I did restrain myself from getting us all to ride the carousel. (Looks fun! And it’s less than a year until my next birthday….)

Granary Burial Ground

We also visited the Granary Burial Ground, which I’d gotten I peek at while we froze our way through a tavern tour last month, but I’d wanted to spend some time in.


This day was warm and gorgeous just like the day before, and I was very grateful to get to spend it with my family.

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Photo-a-Day Challenge: Part Diary, Part Experiment, Part Oh-No-I-Have-Nothing-to-Take-a-Picture-of-Today!

{Celebrate your courage: Send me a postcard}

Matchbox cars fire

Part diary, part experiment, part oh-no-I-have-nothing-to-take-a-picture-of-today!, I’ve been seeing the months parade by one click at a time in a photo-a-day project I started on the first of the year.

The only “rule” I’m following is to take a photo a day. No posting of an older photo on a day I didn’t take one for me, although others choose to do that. (The community is great about encouraging people to do their own projects however they wish.) So far I haven’t missed a day, but I’m not expecting masterpieces either.

I like jumping in on themed challenges, which helps give ideas for subjects to photograph. These might have been my favorites on that score:

–a weekly theme challenge on “goodnight”:
Goodnight, Sweetheart on 365 Project
Day 87: Goodnight, Sweetheart

–an “abstract mundane” photo of a thermometer:
Galileo Thermometer on 365 Project
Day 74: Galileo Thermometer

–a weekly theme challenge on “movement”:
Moving Record on 365 Project
Day 72: Moving Record

–an “abstract mundane” photo of sponges:
Sponge Worthy on 365 Project
Day 57: Sponge Worthy

–a weekly theme challenge on “rainbow”:
Eat the Rainbow on 365 Project
Day 28: Eat the Rainbow

I also like trying to get a little artsy with an otherwise routine photo, like this one for my son Dan’s 19th birthday:
Hey Nineteen on 365 Project
Day 73: Hey Nineteen

Or an awesome pulled pork sandwich on a snow day:
Snow Day! Pulled Pork! on 365 Project
Day 40: Snow Day! Pulled Pork!

Or a slice of jalapeño while making chili:
Spicy Jalapeno on 365 Project
Day 52: Spicy Jalapeño

Or the first day of spring, still covered in snow:
First Day of Spring? on 365 Project
Day 79: First Day of Spring? (I even sprung for a crystal ball — I’m hooked for sure.)

Or not so artsy, but documenting a special moment, like visiting my older son at his college:
Rainbow Stairs at Tufts on 365 Project
Day 50: Rainbow Stairs at Tufts

And I sometimes wander around my house looking for beloved little objects I can immortalize. I covered three days with these little knight figurines:
How about that halberd? on 365 Project
Day 23: How about that halberd?

The Knight Steps Out on 365 Project
Day 38: The Knight Steps Out

Winter is Here on 365 Project
Day 51: Winter is Here

Or a mask I got during Mardi Gras in New Orleans in 2007:
Happy Mardi Gras on 365 Project
Day 59: Happy Mardi Gras

Or the spice box my late mother-in-law gave me ages ago:
Spice Box on 365 Project
Day 46: Spice Box

Or the Christmas wreath I still hadn’t taken down in March, so it became a spring wreath:
Christmas Wreath in March on 365 Project
Day 63: Christmas Wreath in March

Sometimes the fact that I needed a photo made me value little details or moments I would have otherwise passed by, like these bathrooms at a movie theater:
Monroes and Deans on 365 Project
Day 39: Monroes and Deans

Or nudging my husband to give me a peek of his whoopie pies that he’d stayed up past my bedtime making the night before:
Whoopie! on 365 Project
Day 67: Whoopie!

Or the peaceful emptiness of an early morning middle school hallway:
Early Morning Empty Hallway on 365 Project
Day 3: Early Morning Empty Hallway

And on those days when I can’t think of anything to photograph? It helps to have a husband with a Zippo who’s a good sport:
Zippo on 365 Project
Day 54: Zippo

Lowering my standards comes in pretty handy too.

Or fire. Fire’s always good:
Mattel Hell on 365 Project
Day 89: Mattel Hell

Does anyone want to join me in a photo-a-day project? You can jump in on any day. (Let me know if you do, and I’ll follow you.)

Here are screen shots of grids of my first three months. If you follow the link, the thumbnails will be clickable.

January 2017

February 2017

March 2017

(I post to Flickr too and have been doing the Macro Mondays challenges.)

I sometimes miss the glory days of my blog when I was in the thick of my 101 things in a 1001 days challenge. I always seem to have some sort of project going on, though, and this photo-a-day challenge is currently filling that need quite nicely.

Cheers to the spring!

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My Saliva’s from Ireland

I had no big surprises in getting DNA results about my ancestry. I had known my great-grandmother left Ireland and settled in Massachusetts and that other Irish were in my family tree, but I was surprised what a large chunk of my DNA came from Great Britain.
Really, though, the only surprise is just a sense of wonder that I can send some spit off in the mail and a technician in a lab somewhere can reach into my past, generations back and back, and confirm the origin stories I heard in my childhood.

On another note, I think I’m done sending bits of myself off in the mail. I sent off my ponytail (to donate it), and I sent off some, ahem, poo to learn about my microbiome.

For the record, these are my ancestry estimates:

  • 50% Ireland
  • 29% Great Britain
  • 07% Europe East
  • no other significant percentages

What a fascinating age we are living in!

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Cold, Old Boston and a Tavern Tour

My husband and I had planned a Boston walking tour on a lovely springlike day, but that day arrived yesterday, and we walked the ancient streets on one of the coldest days of the year, 5 degrees F with a wind chill of negative 15.

Make Way for Ducklings on the Boston Common


We scrambled through some shops in a chic Beacon Hill neighborhood looking for a scarf, and, like when Julia Roberts was turned away from Rodeo Drive, I had a Pretty Woman moment. The flimsy little $88 scarf I looked at didn’t meet my needs, and a shopkeeper pointed toward a cheaper neighborhood and suggested I shop in that direction. Actually, she was being helpful; we both knew I wouldn’t be buying an $88 scarf, no matter how cold it was out there.

I found a Boston Red Sox scarf in my target $12 range, and with apologies to my late father, a lifelong Yankees fan, I was geared up for the tour.


Our guide shared a joke about the bar across the street from here: “The only place you can have a cold Sam Adams while looking at a cold Sam Adams.”

We joined a small group of Canadians to walk a section of the Freedom Trail under the enthusiastic and entertaining guidance of a PhD history candidate. She painted a lively picture of the Revolutionary years when our Founding Fathers drank morning, noon, and night and knew the best places to spark the resistance were in the taverns.


We learned an alternate take on history, one where the Boston Massacre didn’t go down as billed, but helped to foment revolution in a Colonial version of “fake news.”

I highly recommend “Ye Olde Tavern Tours,” which interspersed walking and talking with hitting some historically significant taverns. Fun, entertaining, and educational. Just maybe don’t book it on the coldest day of the year.

Photo courtesy of Ye Olde Tavern Tours in Boston, MA


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Activist Update

facts exist, 2+2=4, Trump, Big Brother, March for Science

Protest poster for the March for Science on April 22, 2017. Feel free to use the image. I am planning to go to the satellite march in Boston.

It’s dizzying to see the atrocious news spewing out of the White House hour by hour.

I was offline for about 90 minutes the other day and a cottage industry of memes ridiculing Kellyanne Conway‘s comments about the fictitious “Bowling Green Massacre” had popped up while I was away. The criticism spread humorous glee about how badly she “misspoke,” but she didn’t misspeak; she said it during three different interviews. Her false claims fit in with Trump’s false claim that the media wasn’t covering terrorist attacks.

I had never been someone who writes my Senators, calls my Representatives, attends huddles and marches, but I’m trying to do my part now. My little actions are drops in a bucket, but millions of drops add up, I keep telling myself.

I’m getting a mini-course on how to be an activist by committing to the Women’s March campaign of “10 Actions for the first 100 Days” of Trump’s presidency.

Boston Women's March on 365 Project
Women’s March on 365 Project

Postcards on Instagram

And I know my ignored Tweets do nothing, but I send them anyway. My stomach turns at the mention of Mitch McConnell–what a sack of disgrace. I needed to reach out.

McConnell didn’t Tweet back. Trump doesn’t either. That’s most definitely a good thing, right?

I don’t want Pence for president either, but Trump must be removed. This snowball of destruction is picking up speed. I can’t believe everything that’s happened in only three weeks. My prediction is that Republicans will have to turn on him eventually, hopefully sooner than later. What are they waiting for? What sort of good outcome do they think could possibly happen? I’ve read commentary that Republicans keep supporting Trump, even though they must know he’s dangerous and deplorable, because after their unrelenting years of gerrymandering their greatest threat comes from even further right wingnuts in primary challenges. We’re bound to reach a tipping point soon where the cost of supporting this lunatic is greater than the cost of going against him. Right? Right? Right?

After the Women's March, a Huddle

“First, we marched. Now we huddle.” — A group meeting in Cheshire, CT on Feb. 11, 2017

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