Category: Uncategorized

An Open Letter to the Market Basket Board of Directors

WeAreMarketBasketDear Market Basket Board of Directors:

I’ve been a loyal Market Basket customer for the last eight years. I shop Market Basket because the prices are low, the employees are friendly and the selection is decent.

I can get 90% of my groceries at Market Basket. My daughter has food allergies so there are some specialty items I must purchase at Shaw’s or Hannaford’s (although I’m thrilled that Market Basket is adding more of these items each month). I’m in the other stores a couple times a month. I know their prices are higher on things I buy every week. I know their employees are nice, but they aren’t as friendly as those that work at Market Basket. Sure, it would be easier, to do all my shopping in one place, but I am loyal to Market Basket.

I recognize that companies are in business to make money and that the grocery business has a very low margin, but I want to do business with companies who care about me as a customer and companies that treat their employees fairly and with respect. Up until now, Market Basket has been that company. It is a profitable and successful business. Why mess with a good thing?

The Demoulas family has been fighting about the stores for decades. It’s time to end the feud and truly focus on the success of the business. I am in awe of the employees working together for the greater good of the company. Look at what they’ve accomplished working together, perhaps it’s time to take a page from their book.  I stand with the employees and management and encourage you to work with them to resolve this issue and resolve it quickly.

I want my Market Basket back.


Regular customer of Market Basket Store #35



My Dad and I. Photo Credit David Ryan once thought 46 was “old”. I don’t anymore.

I don’t feel old. Ok, so I need more sleep than I used to, and I can’t burn through calories like I used to, but I don’t FEEL old. My tolerance for B.S. is significantly lower than it used to be but at the same time my level of acceptance that many things are beyond my control is much higher. I’m more able to let go of the stuff that just doesn’t serve me. I still get irked about stuff, but I’m much better and stepping back and saying, “this isn’t my bag, I’m not carrying it.”

I’m almost 10 pounds lighter than I was last year.

I can jog for five minutes without feeling like I’m going to die. Then I can walk for a minute and a half and jog for another five. Walk again and jog (slower this time) for yet another five minutes. Some days, it’s a slog, but it’s more than I could do five weeks ago (thanks Cammy).

I’m writing and actually getting paid for it. I’d like to write more and get paid more, but I’m optimistic that will come.

The wayward cows and sheepI’m not so cynical that the unexpected doesn’t phase me. Yesterday a neighbor posted to Faceboook asking if anyone local had lost four cows and three sheep. It was a legitimate question, not a prank. It’s moments like these that make me come up short. Dear Lord I live in the country. How on earth did I get here? Of us four college roommates, I was headed to live in the city. Probably not it an high-rise, but definitely not on a dirt road in a town where people raise cows (that was going to be Melissa) and definitely NOT a mother to thirty chickens (Melissa again) and yet here I am.

Husband & crazy kidsLife is crazy hectic. There is my husband who commutes three hours a day and travels semi-regularly, and kids who are active in karate and scouts. There is homework, work, volunteer commitments, family and friends.

But, life, it is good.

My marriage is strong, my kids are healthy and awesome (I’m not biased at all). I’m blessed with strong family ties and wonderful friendships (too many to name). We live in amazing town filled with good people (again too many to name).

Is it perfect? Nope. Never will be either, but I’m grateful for all that I have been blessed with.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my village.

FanDamily Vertical.jpg



Dear Fish,

Wow, it’s hard to believe another year has passed and I am once again writing your birthday post. Yet, when I stop and look back, it’s been quite a year hasn’t it?

Pictures of Fish, making waffles, floating on a lazy river with her Dad & being FISH

The day after you turned 13, my mom, your grandmother, Muzzie died. This was your first experience with the death of someone close to you. Although that night will go down as one of the worst of my life, I knew as it was unfolding, you would be ok. I asked you to try and find your grandparents while I talked with the hospital on the phone about Muzzie’s end of life wishes. You made the calls I asked and then asked if I needed anything else. When I said No, you said “Good, I need my friends right now.” Dealing with death is hard, but it is a challenge that happens to all of us many times over. Seeking and receiving support from those close to us is the key to making it through any life challenge. When you were able to articulate that need and take the necessary steps to get the support you needed, I felt a feeling of pride amongst the chaos.

We already had a lot going on that month, but Muzzie’s death and the Marathon bombing threw a wrench in the works. It was bumpy, but we made it through. One of the bright spots for me came not too long after she died. It was the day we spent in New York City. We happened by St. Patrick’s Cathedral and you seemed to understand why I needed to go in an light a candle. Thanks for holding my hand. Your maturity regularly amazes me.

Fish throughout 2013

Your food sensitivities have definitely presented some challenges (how many days in a row can a girl really be expected to eat fruit, bacon and home fries for breakfast?). But you took a trip to Washington with school for a week and with advanced planning managed beautifully. You are owning it and making the best of it.

Sadly, you have inherited your mother’s lack of grace, and you’ve had two concussions in the last year. The first one took 30 days to clear. We thought that was a long time, until this time. We’re going on two months and your patience is definitely being tested.

You are THIS close to your first degree brown belt in karate and will test for it as soon as you are cleared to return to activities.

You made your first self-funded major purchase this year. You saved your money from gifts and babysitting and bought an iPad Mini, a case, and Applecare. It has now become one of your tools for success in school (when you DON’T have a concussion).

Fish being fish

Speaking of school you are doing well. This is the first year where you’ve encountered some resistance to your efforts. You’ve risen to the challenge and learned valuable lessons about working with people, both peers and leaders. Next year you are headed to a science and technology charter school. It’s a new path, not without risks, but we’re all excited about the opportunity for you. There will be challenges, but Dad & I will be here to support you as you take steps towards defining what it is you want from life.

Regardless of what the future holds for you, I have no doubt you will go far. Not too long ago, you announced you might want to be a Supreme Court Justice. You worked the path from law school back to high school. I can say with certainty that neither your father nor I thought that far ahead when we were your age. You go girl!

You have a style that is all your own. Nothing matches and everyone knows you for it. You have developed a wonderful sense of humor. By way of example. Two weeks after you got the second concussion it was hat day at school. You wore a ski-helmet. The teachers and the nurse wanted to credit me with the choice, but that was all you baby.

By far one of my favorite memories of you from the past year was when you found out we were going on a Disney Cruise. That is an expression I will cherish for ever.

When you are a parent, a small part of you wants to protect your child from the pain and challenges of life. You want them to live a charmed life where they always succeed and never worry. That’s not possible and it’s not healthy. Facing challenges an necessary part of succeeding in life. You are already demonstrating your strength and persistence and that makes Dad and I very proud.

I can’t wait to see what 14 has in store for you.

Happy Birthday.



Dear CBS, Renew Intelligence

TO: The Powers That Be at CBS
From: A 40 something woman with some disposable income
RE: Intelligence (Monday Night’s 10pm EDT)

'Meghan Ory, Josh Holloway & Marg Helgenberger' photo (c) 2013, Gage Skidmore - license:

Dear CBS:

It’s March, and already talk is swarming about what TV shows will be renewed for next season. It’s a little early, but ok, I’ll to add my two cents.

I have to be honest, I’m not a reality TV person. In my opinion Reality TV brings out the shallow and petty side of humanity. I’m not much for horror or cat fights either. I like intelligent sitcoms (Good call on locking in the Big Bang Theory for 3 more years). Mostly, I tend to stick with dramas. I know they are fiction, products of someone’s imagination and usually, they wrestle with topics larger than what designer someone is wearing. I like action. I live what is more or less a quiet life, but like the mother in the comic strip Rose is Rose, deep inside is an inner warrior just dying to get out and save the world.

I love characters like NCIS’s Ziva David, Criminal Minds’ Jennifer Jareau and NCIS: LA’s Kensi Bly. Intelligence’s Riley Neal and Lillian Strand, are also women who can hold their own in a man’s world without sacrificing the emotional intelligence that women bring to a situation. Although occasionally I am left to wonder about Lillian’s “softer” side.

As soon as I started seeing the promos for Intelligence, I set a note in my calendar to set the DVR. Marg Helgenburger’s voice, powerful and commanding, bade me tune in. I love my Tivo® and typically I record a show and watch it at my leisure. With Intelligence, I’m impatient and find myself watching it live. I can assure you this is a rare occurrence.

The casting on Intelligence is awesome. Josh Holloway is certainly easy on the eyes, as is Michael Rady. Megan Orly and Marg Helgenberger are a treat to watch as they come at keeping Gabriel safe from two similar by different perspectives. P.J.Byrne’s character Nelson makes me giggle (I’m a fellow Eagle) and I love John Billingsly.

'P. J. Byrne' photo (c) 2012, Gage Skidmore - license:

Nelson: “You built a stun bomb?”

Cassidy: Long technical explanation

Nelson: “You built a stun bomb.”

Cassidy: “Hee, you bet your ass I did.”

The ideas are interesting, but I’ll be honest, I’d like a little more intellect and a little less boom (only a little).  I loved the Athens episode. It was wild to watch Josh Holloway play a completely different character. The idea of Man vs. Machine is one for the ages. Our recent society has made such huge technological gains. We accept this as status quo and only a small minority stops to question “Hey, is this really where we want to go?” and usually long after we’ve “gone” there.

The writing is off to a strong start, but the team clearly needs time to gel. It’s like when you make a soup, you pull together the best ingredients, fresh vegetables, quality meat, homemade stock and fresh spices. You chop and dice, mix everything together in the pot, and heat it up. But, by far the most important step is giving the flavor’s time to blend.

The cast is great, the story ideas are great, but the execution has the occasional bump. The’ve got the technology nailed, but they need time to smoothly work the characterizations into the drama. Right now, it sometimes feels forced and at times unwatchable. For example, Nelson’s plea “Please don’t let them die too” in Patient Zero made me cringe. But, earlier in the same episode I loved his hissed line “She’s a Disney villain!”. The exchange between Riley and Gabriel when she tackles him at LuAnne’s house was brilliant.

I really enjoy the live Tweet sessions with the cast, writers and EP, Michael Seitzman. It’s fun to really feel connected to the show and the behind the scenes info is interesting. They are great about fielding questions and that adds to the feeling of connectedness. I imagine as the show gets bigger (and it will), some of that will drop off, but that’s a trade I’m willing to make.

Intelligence is off to a great start and it is clear that the cast and crew are all invested in the show’s success. We as an audience need time to gain some depth on these characters and the writer’s need time to smooth over the bumps.

PLEASE, there is so much to explore here, give it a chance to mature and come into it’s own. Bring Intelligence back for the 2014-2-15 Season.

Haven’t seen Intelligence? Check it out online at Part 1 of the two-part season finale will air Monday March 24th. Come on CBS, don’t make it the series finale.

Anna Nalick – At the Tupelo Music Hall

The music business is such a strange beast. If an artist doesn’t fit into a specific niche, it can be a struggle for them to succeed. It seems so often when talented artists aren’t willing to stay between the lines, they are passed over in favor of someone willing to adhere to the prescribed path.

Anna Nalick, New Voice, Old Soul

Anna Nalick and I after her March 9th performance at the Tupelo Music HallAnna Nalick was a huge commercial hit with her debut album Wreck of the Day. The song Breathe (2am) had a lengthy run on the charts in 2004-2005. I was definitely a late comer to the album, but I have listened to it front to back, back to front and shuffled seven ways to Sunday. I just love her voice it’s very rich and her lyrics, unlike much of today’s music, are open to interpretation. She’s publicly stated she prefers her listeners draw their own conclusions about the meaning of her songs.

Anna Nalick was in her early 20’s when Wreck of The Day hit big, but her music appealed to a more mature audience. Breathe(2am) hit #45 on the pop charts and #4 on the Adult Contemporary charts. After Wreck, Nalick put out an EP entitled Shine with Sony records, but then it was announced she’d split with the label over “creative differences”. Independently she put out one more collection of songs called Broken Doll & Odds & Ends. A group of unpublished songs she’d written while with Sony. Good songs, but not necessarily commercially viable in the genre ruled world of commercial radio . We’ll never know what happened, but my guess is the record label tried to shoe horn Nalick into their preconceived ideas of what a successful pop singer should be and she refused to be categorized.

I thought she was gone. Poof! Everybody has to make their own choices about the work that they do and how much they are willing to compromise themselves to meet someone else’s expectations. It was my guess the price of fame and commercial success was just too high. I checked her web site occasionally, but nothing new seemed to be forthcoming.

Anna Nalick’s Facebook Page To the Rescue

Thank goodness for social media! Last week, a concert announcement appeared in my Facebook feed. Anna Nalick was touring again! Yay! Not only was she touring, but she was kicking off the tour in my backyard, well almost. WOOT! WOOT! I had dinner plans but I bailed on my friends (they’re good friends who understand my obsession with music) and immediately started searching for someone to go with me. Alone or with a friend, I was going to see Anna Nalick! Thankfully, my friend Jill rescued me from going solo.

I didn’t know what to expect, it has been quite a while since she’d put out any new material and her voice is so rich on the recordings I wondered if she’d be able to match that live. I was not disappointed. This was the first stop on the tour and as a self-proclaimed talker, she was clearly a little nervous, but the audience was encouraging and she settled into a wonderful performance. It was just her and a keyboard player. Together they performed songs from both of her full albums and mixed in a few new songs that were well received.

During the show, she talked of taking some time off after leaving Sony to clear her system and get back to being a more “honest songwriter”. She’d also started taking classes in creative writing and acting. She’s performed in one play and excitedly talked about a second play she would be performing in upon completion of this tour. I kept hoping she’d say “I’ll have a new CD for sale at the end of the show”, but instead she said “I just have to write lyrics for two or three more songs and then there will be a new record.” Sigh, I guess knowing there is something coming is better than thinking I’d never hear her voice again. After the show, she chatted, signed autographs and posed with fans for pictures.

I really enjoyed seeing Anna Nalick perform and I am looking forward to hearing new music from her. She’s a gifted songwriter and a talented songwriter. I really hope that she can rise above the monolithic recording industry and well shine.

Do you like Anna Nalick? What’s a new artist you just found? I’m always looking for new music.

I’d never been to the Tupelo Music Hall before, but I’m really looking forward to going back! The parking is a little wonky, but the venue itself is intimate and enjoyable. 

“It’s a Business Decision” – A Primer On Managing Change for Small Businesses

'Open Sign' photo (c) 2010, Brian Hawkins - license: “It’s a business decision”.

I’ve heard that blasted statement twice lately. Once in a personal situation and once in situation that was less personal, but impacted me none-the-less. One business handled things well. The other? Well, let’s just say there was room for improvement.

We say “it’s a business decision” as though that statement wipes away all the pain of the change. It doesn’t. It’s an attempt to depersonalize the situation. It’s not about you, it’s about growing “The Business”, making it successful, making more money, serving a different audience. None of these things are wrong per se.

The problem, especially in consumer focused businesses is that it IS personal. Businesses spend a lot of time building relationships, engaging their audience and growing a community. It’s that kind of warm fuzzy feeling that encourages customer loyalty and the best, least expensive form of advertising, word of mouth endorsements. Then the business makes a decision to change their offerings, change course or change personnel. POOF! The warm fuzzy feeling is gone.

So what am I saying, that businesses should never change? Never grow? Psssh of course not. It’s all in how you as a business owner handle the change.

Communicate Communicate Communicate

It’s important to communicate honestly and sincerely about the change. In some circumstances it’s best to provide advanced warning. Give people a chance to warm up to the idea of a new service offering or a new teacher. If possible ask for input from those who will be affected.

Some circumstance require you to share the news quickly, like ripping off a Band Aid®. Sometimes it’s just not possible to consult those who will be impacted. The key is knowing your audience, viewing the change from their perspective and communicating. Remember you might be over the moon about the change, but  your patrons might not share your excitement.

Respect Customers’ Feelings

Change is hard for most people, especially if they are heavily invested in the community you’ve built. Those impacted by the change may have strong feelings. Respect them. Remind people that the change isn’t personal and encourage them to try the new program, or service.

Honor the past

Ceremony (even a small one) allows us to mark the time and provides a sense of closure. The temptation is to ignore the sadness, and anger that comes with change, but acknowledging it and facing it head on leaves everyone with a better feeling in the end.

Is a well loved staffer moving on to bigger and better things? Invite customers to sign a card or have a small going away party. No longer offering a specific service? Send customers a quick list of highlights, thank them for their patronage and invite them to transition to the new offering.

Move on

It’s important to be respectful, but don’t dwell. Assuming you’ve made the decision with the best interests of the business in mind. It’s important not to waiver. Don’t give the impression that if people complain enough things will go back to the old way. Hear people out, but gently remind them that this is your business. You’ve enjoyed their patronage but if the new scenario isn’t going to work for them, it’s ok if they find another provider.


It is inevitable with change that some customers will leave. You can’t please everyone and for your business to succeed and thrive, you have focus on meeting the needs of your target audience. It’s hard to see them go, but wish them well and focus on those who’s needs you can serve best.

Change is hard, but with a little effort, it possible to execute it with minimal hard feelings and maximum growth.


Plan to Eat – Making my life easier every day

I am a planner. Some might say to the extreme, and now that I have a son who appears to have inherited the same tendency, I can see where this is sometimes frustrating for those close to me. *ahem* However, there are times when this trait comes in handy. The kids are heavily involved in karate (including weapons training), Cub Scouts, Student Council, Chorus and numerous volunteer activities. I take a kick boxing class 2-3 times a week and my husband is rarely in the door before 6:30pm. Fish’s food sensitivities make it hard to eat out, so if we are going to eat anything other than breakfast for dinner, I have to plan ahead.

Meal planning is not new to me, I’ve done it in various forms for years. Through Tsh at The Art of Simple (formerly I found and that has radically changed my meal planning and grocery shopping for the better.

With PlanToEat, I can keep all of my recipes in one location. I can input recipes manually to capture those handed down on recipe cards and, there is even a handy clipping tool for my web browser so I can snag all the mouthwatering recipes on the Internet. I can also easily share them when people ask for recipes.

Yes, there are lots of recipe sharing platforms out there, but Plan To Eat is so much more! It makes my shopping list for me! Once I select the meals I’m going to make, I can click to the shopping tab and see everything I need to create those meals. I check off the items I already have in my pantry (olive oil, salt pepper etc.) and add the items not tied to a recipe (e.g. Gluten Free Chocolate Chex or toilet paper) and voila! I have shopping list. It’s web based, so I can access it from my iPhone. I bring it up in the parking lot just in case the store has bad cell service. If PTE can’t access the Internet, it will check off items as you put them in your cart and delete them from the list when signal is regained.

The cost is $4.95 a month or $39 for a year. (see below for a special offer), but my sanity says it’s money well spent. I also like the fact that I’m supporting a small business. Really small. Plan to Eat is run by husband and wife team Clint and Lisa, they live with their four children in the Rocky Mountains. You can learn more about them and their business philosophy at the web site

I wish the shopping list would include bargin shopping features (i.e. pricing tracking by store), but I’ve been impressed with their response to questions and requests for new features, so I’m happy to stick with it.

There is a 30 day free trial (they don’t even ask for a credit card *gasp*), so you an try an out to see if it is fit for you.

Do it! Do it now! Take a look at PTE now, because starting November 29th, they’ll be offering 50% off annual subscriptions. That means 12 months of Plan To Eat is just $19.50! The special rate will be available until December 2nd.

I believe in this program enough to sign up as an affiliate so if you click that link above and sign up for PTE I’ll get a little thank you from them too :).  Check it out and happy meal planning!

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Nana’s Earrings

Small gold hoop earrings with a heart in th emiddle and a snap claspA-Man’s Nana was his mom’s mom. She lived independently into her 80’s until she was killed in 2003, the day before Thanksgiving in a car accident. *

After Nana’s death, the family set about sorting through Nana’s things. One night the ladies gathered around Grammy’s kitchen table and sorted through Nana’s jewelry. Among other things, Grammy gave me a pair of gold earrings. They are small hoops with a heart in the middle.

I love them. They are simple, but a little out of the ordinary. I’ve worn them more or less non-stop since she gave them to me. I have several pairs of earrings, but I rarely change my earrings. I’ll change them for special occasions but even then that’s 1 or 2 times a year. Honestly, it just doesn’t occur to me. I realize that admission will get my membership to the National Fashionista Society revoked, but it’s the truth.

I’ve lost one of Nana’s earrings a handful of times. The way the clasp is made, sometimes they get caught on a sweater or something. One time, the earring flew into a glass of water I was drinking and I accidentally poured it down the drain in our bathroom. I. FREAKED. OUT. A-Man came to my rescue and took apart the drain to fish it out. Once, one flew out of my ear as I took off a bulky sweater. I knew it was somewhere in my bedroom, but damned if I could find it. “Help me out here Nana” I said out loud. The next day, the sun glinted off of something shiny under my husband’s dresser. Yup, the earring. It’s not that I’ve gotten callous, about them, they are still important, but over time, I’ve become less of a stress puppy if one disappears. I’ve been reassured, she would have wanted me to wear them.

Recently, we drove to Ohio. While there, I bought a cool scarf at Old Navy. If my neck is warm the rest of me much more likely to be warm. The earrings kept catching on it. Oh the things we do in the name of staying warm. On the way back, we stopped at a Radission in Utica, New York. The next morning, not long after our first gas/bathroom break, I realized my left ear was earringless. I did the body pat down, checked the scarf thoroughly and looked all around me. All for naught.

Nana & A-Man Before our weddingWe weren’t going back. I couldn’t have told you where I lost the damn thing so there was no point. I was sure that this time the earring was long gone. “Sorry Nana.” I said looking skywards. A confused A-Man, needed me to explain what to him, was an out of context utterance. He agreed the earring was gone, but pointed out they’d had a good run of almost 10 years (hard to believe she’s been gone that long).

When we got home (after a few more stops), we gratefully, rapidly, exited the car and unloaded all our gear. I made one last trip to the passenger seat to clear out my travel detritus. Wouldn’t you know it, there was the earring on the floor of my car.

Thank you Nana!


*The other driver admitted that she a) didn’t have a license and b) was looking down at the time of the crash. Still she was never charged with a crime. Sometimes life’s not fair.


Things I Discovered on a Road Trip to Ohio

Last weekend, we drove from New Hampshire to Ohio to celebrate the 80th birthdays of two of my Aunts on my Dad’s side. We don’t see this side of my family often, so it was really important to me that my whole family attend. Even early on in the planning airfare for four would have been North of $1,200. Ouch. The decision was made to drive. We lived to tell the tale, but I learned a few things along the way.

  1. My cousins, their spouses and their kids are quite a talented bunch. For publicly available examples see Carmen & Ginna Maugeri, Michael S. McGinn,  Christine Guillott Ryan and David Ryan. You’ll have to trust me on the other stuff.
  2. When given the choice between Route 90 and Route 84, Route 90 wins. Hands down. EVERY. TIME.
  3. The little sliver of Utica, New York that we saw reminded me of Concord, New Hampshire.
  4. Once you get out of New England, the terrain is flat. REALLY flat. A corollary, it IS possible to be on the same highway for more than 450 miles. For those outside, New England, our roads frequently change names or designations after just a few miles. There’s nothing quite like getting onto the Mass Turnpike at 7pm at night and hearing the GPS say “Stay on Route 90 for 460 miles.”
  5. Tim Horton’s is what Dunkin’ Donuts used to be. Best damn glazed donut I’ve had in 2o years!
  6. The New York Thruway (a.k.a. Route 90) is worth the tolls for the rest areas alone.
  7. My kids are good travelers (and for that I am grateful!).
  8. When Google says it’s a 12 hour drive, add an additional two hours for gas/bathroom/food breaks.
  9. Even with good music and kids who travel well, a 14 hour drive is too damn long. Turns out we really are air travel people.
  10. Sometimes, no matter the price, the trip is worth it just be with family.

Me with five of my cousins (we're two short of a complete set)