PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Win Tickets to See Mavis Staples at The Calvin Theater

Mavis Staples
plus Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside
Calvin Theatre in Northampton, MA
Thursday, November 7th, 2013 8pm

Mavis Staples, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner, and National Heritage Fellowship Award recipient, comes to the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA, on Nov 7th! Enter to win a pair of tickets for a parents’ night out!

Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in the Pioneer Valley for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

For November we are pleased to offer a chance to win a pair of tickets to see Mavis Staples plus Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Thursday, Nov 7th, 2013.

Win tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Monday, 11/4/13 by 11:59pm (EST).  Details below…

ABOUT MAVIS STAPLES

It has been more than sixty years since Mavis Staples began singing with her ground-breaking American gospel, soul, and R&B singing family group, the Staple Singers. She is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner, and a National Heritage Fellowship Award recipient. One True Vine, the follow-up to 2010′s Grammy-winning album You Are Not Alone features new songs written specifically for Staples by returning producer Jeff Tweedy (Wilco).

Mavis has been described by Rolling Stone as having “an almost superhuman ability to implant the pure power of passion and emotion.” She just returned from a series of dates in Australia with Bonnie Raitt and dates in New Zealand with Wilco directly prior to her appearance at the White House for the filming of a PBS All-Star show dedicated to Memphis Soul this past spring. Mavis will be touring internationally in support of One True Vine including a stop in Western MA at the Calvin Theater! – mavisstaples.com

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30 Mash Notes ❥ 1 Community

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 30: A Sense of Place Through Community

Final Mash Notes tips the hat to Hilltown Families

Fine Hilltown Families readers, I’ve professed my love for many things in Paradise over the past twenty-nine Mash Notes, from frozen treats to farmers’ markets to Main Street to relative lack of signs. My ardor for this place, even with winter on its way, hasn’t ebbed one bit. But I think I’ve written plenty of Mash Notes now (besides, I have a Facebook page called Only in Northampton where a little more love for Paradise flows).

However, I can’t end this column without my final missive of appreciation and it’s for Sienna Wildfield, whose brainchild is Hilltown Families. And what an amazing vision she’s nurtured: to create a sense of place for families not through a physical place, like a farm or a school, rather through connections. By which I mean this network, for example provides a vehicle for people to find one another through interests or events or simply answers to simple questions and the sharing of resources. But that’s not all.

Sienna has an idea that community can be found through community events—to learn, to play and to serve. She’s worked hard to form meaningful partnerships to support all these areas. From citizenry in field science to winter wear swaps to Valentine card making to festivals for the springtime, there’s a place that’s not a place but is rooted in our community. It’s Hilltown Families. I am grateful to be part of this family, and this place.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

Let Them Eat Pie! ❥ Tuesday Market Supporting Food Security.

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 29, We Eat Pie for Good Purposes

Kids ages 13yo and younger interested in culinary arts and local food are invited to bake their favorite fruit pie using local ingredients to submit to the Tuesday Market annual Pie Contest happening on Tuesday, September 10th. ❥ Baking a pie is a great way for food-enthusiastic kids to learn and/or practice kitchen skills, including basic math and kitchen chemistry. Utilizing local foods (berries, apples, peaches, milk, butter, or maybe even local flour!) in a pie can also help to connect youth with the network of local food that surrounds them here in Western MA.

FoodStampsX2 is the brilliant brainchild of Ben James and Oona Coy, farmers (Town Farm) and farmers’ market managers (Tuesday Market) in Northampton (not to be confused with their brilliant children, Silas and Wiley). The idea was pretty simple: make sure that people could use their SNAP (food stamps) benefits at the Tuesday Market. Then, the idea got better: have the first ten dollars’ worth of benefits doubled at the market for those receiving SNAP benefits. The FoodStampsX2 represents win-win: local food to people that may struggle to afford it along with a boost of dollars to hardworking farmers growing food locally.

Enter Gina Hyams, my Berkshires friend (and extraordinary connector; it’s her superpower). Her Pie Contest in a Box inspired my son. The scene went like this:

My son Ezekiel, on couch, examining Pie Contest in a Box: “Let’s have a pie contest.”

Unattributed idea that belonged to one of us: “At the Tuesday Market.”

Me: “To raise money for FoodStampsX2.”

Ezekiel: “Typical.”

Tuesday September 10th, 2013 is the third annual Pie Contest at Tuesday Market to help raise money for FoodStampsX2…

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Got Extra Breastmilk? New Donor Depot Opens in Pioneer Valley!

Donor Breastmilk Depot Opens in Pioneer Valley
Life-Saving for Preterm Infants

Thank you to the first donor to the breastmilk depot!

If you find that you have more than enough breastmilk, milk donation may be a way for you to protect the health of premature infants… and for Valley families, it just got more convenient to donate!

The Pioneer Valley Breastfeeding Coalition has announced the opening of a new donor breastmilk depot, housed at Northampton Area Pediatrics in Northampton, MA.  This depot will store and send milk to the Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast.

Donor milk banking, which began in the U.S. in 1911, is a way of providing human milk to premature and very sick infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs).  Donor milk is provided as a supplement – not a replacement – for preterm babies whose mothers aren’t able to provide enough milk…

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PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Win Tickets to see Michael Franti & Spearhead

Michael Franti & Spearhead
Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA
Tuesday, Sept 17th, 2013 at 8pm

Parents’ Night Out! We’re giving away a pair of tickets for a night out at the Calvin Theater in Northampton to see Micahel Franti & Spearhead on Tuesday, Sept 17th at 8pm.  Deadline to enter for a chance to win is 9/10/13 by 11:59pm (EST).  Details below

Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in the Pioneer Valley for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

For September we are pleased to offer a chance to win a pair of tickets to see  Michael Franti & Spearhead at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Tuesday, Sept 17th, 2013.

Win tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Tuesday, 09/10/13 by 11:59pm (EST).  Details below.

ABOUT MICHAEL FRANTI

Musician, humanitarian, and children’s book author, Michael Franti, is recognized as a pioneering force using music as a vehicle for positive change as well as his unforgettable, high energy shows with his band, Spearhead. With the multi-platinum success of his song “Say Hey (I Love You)” and the chart breaking 2010 release of The Sound Of Sunshine, Franti and his band guarantee a show that will be thought provoking as well as a fun dance party! ”Music is sunshine,” says Franti, one of the most positive and conscious artists in music today. “Music gives us new energy and a stronger sense of purpose.” Franti has a brand new single, “I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like)” hitting radio now leading into his brand new album, All People. www.michaelfranti.com.

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Track Races for Kids in the Happy Valley

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 26, Sugarloaf Mountain Athletic Club

(Photo credit: Sarah Buttenwieser)

I got an inkling that running in some organized fashion could be fun for kids when my third grader decided it would be cool to do the run portion of Safe Passage’s Hot Chocolate event. There’s a two-mile walk we’d done numerous times and a 5K run. We ran. Well, we jogged and walked. We loved it.

❥ The Sugarloaf Mountain Athletic Club knew about this kids-like-to-run thing too. I guess that’s why they organized a series of track races for kids and why it’s become a giant social scene. When I took Remy there last Tuesday, otherwise known as the most glorious day of weather in 2013—and I challenge 2013 to do better but c’mon, keep trying pretty please—I felt as if I’d stumbled in upon everyone.

(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Picture the high school track. Picture swarms of children in t-shirted rainbow array, on the grass or on the track. Picture their parents on bleachers and on the grass. Picture more children, mostly the younger siblings doing whatever it is younger siblings do at events like this (a combination of hanging on their parents, pulling their parents around or cavorting together). There you go.

To quote my ten-year-old that very evening: “Track was so much fun!”

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Historic Northampton Museum & Education Center Highlights the History of Silk Thread and the Pioneer Valley

Northampton Silk Threads: The China Connection
Historic Northampton Museum & Education Center
May 1st-31st, 2013

Discover a part of Western MA history at the Historic Northampton Museum & Education Center’s May exhibit, “Northampton Silk Threads: The China Connection.” 

The remnants of the Pioneer Valley’s silk trade are still around – one can find the iconic Silk Mill, visit Silk City (Florence), and gaze up into the branches of mulberry trees all over Northampton. All of these things are representations of the city’s long-ago to silk production and the silk trade in China and Japan.

During the first half of the 19th century, Northampton was a huge producer of silk. Mulberry leaves fed the hungry silk worms, and women worked in factories, helping to spin the silk onto spools in order to be woven into beautiful fabric. Eventually, the demand for silk became too much for the town’s supply of silk worms, and manufacturers began outsourcing to China. However, Chinese silk production methods proved incompatible with mechanical production, and Japan replaced China as the valley’s silk provider until the industry collapsed during America’s Great Depression.

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Music Making Opportunties for Families in the Happy Valley

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 25, The Hootenanny

I am not one of those “organized activity” parents. I am also not one to push my kids toward music lessons.

Well, that’s because 1) I’m not at all musical, and 2) I’m lazy and I don’t want to force my kids to practice. Actually, to be completely honest, not only do I loathe the idea of forcing my kids to practice an instrument, there are many instruments I would not want to hear being practiced upon if my kids were to actually practice. Let me start the list with violin and continue to trumpet. You can add your own fingernails-on-chalkboard instruments if you’d like.

This is just one of those things about myself I’ve accepted without guilt or remorse. Besides, my middle two guys are not about performing. That’s just the truth, especially the third one. His favorite thing to do with the limelight is hide from it (except, now, it turns out, if the limelight can be a vehicle to showcase yo-yo skills).

❥ Anyway, there are great resources for kids and music, though, in these parts…

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PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Win Tickets to see Josh Ritter & the Royal City Band

Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band
Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA
Thursday, May 9th, 2013 at 8pm

Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band plus The Felice Brothers

Enter for your chance to win! You pay for the sitter and we’ll pay for the tickets!

Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in the Pioneer Valley for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

For May we are pleased to offer a chance to win a pair of tickets to see  Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band plus The Felice Brothers at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Thursday, May 9th, 2013.

Win tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Monday, 05/06/13 by 11:59pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT JOSH RITTER

The Beast In Its Tracks, the sixth album from renowned singer-songwriter Josh Ritter, was released past March.  The new album follows Ritter’s 2010 release, So Runs The World Away, of which Bob Boilen from NPR Music declared, “I’ve come to expect good records from him…but this one took my breath away,” while the Boston Globe praised, “quite sensational…marks the finest music he has made.” In 2011, Ritter made is debut as a published author with his New York Times Best-selling novel, Bright’s Passage. Of the work, Stephen King writes in The New York Times Book Review, “Shines with a compressed lyricism that recalls Ray Bradbury in his prime . . . This is the work of a gifted novelist.” – www.joshritter.com

ABOUT THE FELICE BROTHERS

What separates The Felices mud-stomping folk from that of their peers is their no-winking honesty the sense that these songs and the places and people they’re singing about aren’t literary devices but actual people doing their damnedest to rage against the growing darkness. – www.thefelicebrothers.com

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a pair of tickets to see Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band plus The Felice Brothers at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Thursday, May 9th, 2013, is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)! To win simply:

  • CONSIDER SHARING ON FACEBOOK & TWITTER by selecting from the icons below
  • TELL US HOW HILLTOWN FAMILIES KEEPS YOU CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY  THROUGHOUT THE REGION  below (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
  • FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  • LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  • ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  • We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Monday, 05/06/13 by 11:59pm (EST)

If you don’t win you should still go. Tickets are available at the Northampton Box office, online at IHEG.com, or by calling 413-586-8686.

Warm Thank You & Sad Goodbye to Main Street Shop in Northampton

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

The Mountain Goat and Main Street

I am not the only person to be sad about Northampton’s Mountain Goat closing.

Like so many parents in the Valley, I can’t count the number of pairs of Merrell shoes I bought for my children there nor how many pairs of winter-grade mittens. The Mountain Goat sealed my love for Patagonia’s warm winter jackets and Smartwool socks. That’s to say I realized New England is no joke if you walk every day or ski or want your kids to enjoy recess. And when I realized that the Goat helped me to accommodate the actual weather in ways that made the outdoors more easily accessible.

Because this is a mash note, I’ll add that I appreciated the warm service and the innate smiles of everyone who worked there (in my experience, friendliness abounded) as much as the fact that when something essential—those mittens, oh those many, many mittens—I could dash in and find the necessary replacement.

It’s so much work for small businesses to stay in business. When you live in an area comprised of small towns, you realize that each business that sells necessities counts a little extra. Sometimes, you wish you didn’t have to pay a premium for that. Like the Joni Mitchell line, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” though, you realize that premium was worth it all along for your lost mitten replacement needs or your chance to try things on or the good advice you get along with the shoe purchase about a hike or bike ride or ski trail. Whenever the punch card filled up and you got that bonus infusion of product, you felt the mini thrill of good luck earned and justified all that little bit more you spent as counterbalanced (the more you spend the more you save).

❥ Rather than dwell in melancholy, though, I want to thank the Goat folks for dependability and good cheer and to remind myself (and you, reader) how much Main Street matters in a community comprised of small towns.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Win Tickets to see Carolina Chocolate Drops plus David Wax Museum at the Calvin Theater

Carolina Chocolate Drops plus David Wax Museum
Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA
Saturday, April 13th, 2013 at 8pm

Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in the Pioneer Valley for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

For April we are pleased to offer a chance to win a pair of tickets to see Carolina Chocolate Drops plus David Wax Museum at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Saturday, April 13th, 2013.

Win tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Tuesday, 04/09/13 by 11:59pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT CAROLINA CHOCOLATE DROPS

Carolina Chocolate Drops’ members met at the 2005 Black Banjo Gathering in Boone, N.C., and have spent the years since revitalizing and refreshing a glorious tradition of African-American string-band music. But this is no mere trio of nostalgia-miners: Members Dom Flemons, Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson are as likely to work with a progressive orchestra, or to reinvent Blu Cantrell’s R&B hit “Hit ‘Em Up Style,” as they are to draw on old-time jug-band favorites. — www.carolinachocolatedrops.com

ABOUT DAVID WAX MUSEUM

Anointed as Bostons Americana Artist of the Year (2010 Boston Music Awards), the David Wax Museum has been called pure, irresistible joy (Bob Boilen, NPR) and hailed by TIME.com for its virtuosic musical skill and virtuous harmonies. It is no surprise that its acclaimed performance at the 2010 Newport Folk Festival was hailed as one of highlights of the entire weekend by NPR. The Museum fuses traditional Mexican folk with American roots and indie rock to create an utterly unique Mexo- Americana aesthetic. Combining Latin rhythms, call-and-response hollering, and donkey jawbone rattling, they have electrified audiences across the country and are kicking up a cloud of excitement with their high-energy border-crossing sensibility (The New Yorker). — www.davidwaxmuseum.com

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a pair of tickets to see Carolina Chocolate Drops plus David Wax Museum at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Saturday, April 13th, 2013, is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)! To win simply:

  • CONSIDER SHARING ON FACEBOOK & TWITTER by selecting from the icons below
  • TELL US HOW HILLTOWN FAMILIES KEEPS YOU CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY  THROUGHOUT THE REGION  below (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
  • FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  • LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  • ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  • We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Tuesday, 04/09/13 by 11:59pm (EST).

If you don’t win you should still go. Tickets are available at the Northampton Box office, online at IHEG.com, or by calling 413-586-8686.

Northampton History ❥ Finding Ways to Remember

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 23, History

For an upcoming issue of Preview Massachusetts Magazine, I was in Northampton interviewing a chef and a restaurant owner this week. It’s a space he relatively recently took over and we were recalling together what it had been in its last incarnation.

That evening, my husband and I strained to recall what it had been before that. We couldn’t remember.

I arrived in the Valley in 1981 as a first year student at Hampshire College. Gauzily, hazily, I can recall waiting for the train—location, obvious—for its 2 AM pickup once or twice (that wasn’t fun). Where Moshi Moshi is, Wally’s Soda Bar was. There was another health food store in town and a groovy cotton-clothing store where Florence Savings Bank is now. The town had a hardware store and a Woolworth’s and an independently owned pharmacy on Main Street.

On it goes. There’s so much I cannot remember. I have to admit my personal institutional memory is spotty at best.

My dear husband and I think that someone—Chamber of Commerce, perhaps—should build some kind of interactive site that offers the history of each storefront in town.

What do you remember? Where’s the history-loving and tech-savvy design student to build a site for our adorable little New England city?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

Editor’s Note: Check out what they’ve done in Holyoke: The Holyoke History Walk: A Virtual Tour of the City

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Win Tickets to see Gaelic Storm at the Calvin Theater

Gaelic Storm at the Calvin Theater
Northampton, MA
Friday, March 22nd, 2013 at 8pm

Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in the Pioneer Valley for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

For this spring we are pleased to offer a chance to win a pair of tickets to see Gaelic Storm at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Saturday, March 22nd, 2013.

Win tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Tuesday, 03/19/13 by 11:59pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT GAELIC STORM

Celtic-rock group Gaelic Storm’s dazzling new #1 Billboard World Album Chicken Boxer is a heavyweight record that comes out swinging with a mix of empowering anthems and traditional ballads. Gaelic Storm has earned a reputation as one of the world-music scene’s preeminent Celtic bands. With catalog sales of more than 1 million, the group has now had three albums debut at #1 on the Billboard World Albums Chart, 2008’s What’s the Rumpus?, 2010’s Cabbage, which remained parked in the top slot for three consecutive weeks, and now, 2012’s Chicken Boxer. The group’s ability to deftly incorporate a rock sensibility into their sound affords them rare crossover appeal. In recent years, they’ve performed on the same bill with acts ranging from Zac Brown Band and the Goo Goo Dolls to Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett, at events as varied as the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and Milwaukee’s Summerfest. Chicken Boxer, and Gaelic Storm live, deliver a titanic knock out.

Discover more about Gaelic Storm at www.gaelicstorm.com.

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a pair of tickets to see Gaelic Storm at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Saturday, March 22nd, 2013., is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)! To win simply:

  • CONSIDER SHARING ON FACEBOOK & TWITTER by selecting from the icons below
  • TELL US HOW HILLTOWN FAMILIES KEEPS YOU CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY  THROUGHOUT THE REGION  below (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
  • FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  • LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  • ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  • We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Tuesday, 03/19/13 by 11:59pm (EST).

If you don’t win you should still go. Tickets are available at the Northampton Box office, online at IHEG.com, or by calling 413-586-8686.

Snow Days in the Happy Valley

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 22,  Snow Days

I am writing this just before the snow is about to do what it does. A few flakes have begun to drift down crookedly, almost as if in a dream state. The promise: a huge, blizzard of ’78-style dump. I LOVED the blizzard of ’78, which I spent traipsing through Center City Philadelphia. Cars were stranded and heaped with mounds of snow. My friend lived downtown (as opposed to my neighborhood in the Northwest section of the city)—and we walked and walked and slid and slipped and I think just laughed and probably yelled. It was so very snowy.

I remember the world being padded by snow. I remember how it wasn’t all that cold. I remember the deep grey-purple sky. I remember freedom.

That was freedom.

❥ This storm, this Nemo, I doubt it can make me feel free. There are four kids in this house and I, like so many other member-owners, dutifully trekked (if one can trek by car) to the River Valley Market yesterday late afternoon to make sure we have milk and butter and eggs and cheese and cauliflower. It’s so much more about everyone being safe and warm and happy as opposed to exploration or total abandon these days (as it should be, as I chose, no tiny violin plays here).

In general, I’m not a big snow day fan. I work from home and snow days reinforce the reality that my work has an asterisk next to it; it comes second. I struggle with whether that means my work is real enough. Something more real might not be upended by snow days. I don’t have an office or even a room for work (or a nanny so I could leave during snow days for my office, which I also don’t have). Putting that upended sensation aside, I am sure to finish the tasks at hand (so long as there’s power). If I let myself enjoy the whomever-and-whatever happens, this snow day is sure to be fun.

A side note: that this storm is named Nemo has me seeing animated fish in my mind’s eye and I’ve never seen the movie! I have one idea, which is to find it on the telly and watch it with my little girl.

❥ Another aspect to snow days and big weather emergencies is that they remind us all we are in this life (community, neighborhood) together. Neighbors help neighbors. We find cozy, makeshift activity. Our freedom is discovered through our rootedness to one another. That’s a pretty fantastic find.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

[Photo credit: (ccl) Sharon Mollerus]

Great Halls & Great Spaces in the Pioneer Valley

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Mash Note No. 21: On Great Halls and Great Spaces

Photo credit: Sarah Werthan ButtenwieserThe day after Christmas, my daughter Saskia and I took the grandparents to the Eric Carle Museum. For the most part, we followed Saskia’s lead: a juice box and pretzel snack in the cafeteria, a book perusal session in the library, and a puppet show. In turn, she gave us a few minutes in the galleries—and about five minutes longer than she wanted in the shop.

But when I go to the Carle, the truth is my favorite spot to spend a little time is in the Great Hall. I love the way the light comes in if it’s sunny and the way it feels light if the day is overcast (and let’s face it, many prime museum days are predicated on the fact that it’s overcast, if not worse). I like the expansiveness that space offers, not simply a physical spaciousness, but also the imaginative leap of faith that was required to dream the museum and to find the land and to create the plan and to break ground and on. Ten years after it opened, I still can feel the promise when I walk through that particular hall. I still feel exhilarated by its trajectory.

That my daughter feels entirely comfortable there is icing on the cake. Or shine on the apple. Or something.

❥ Everyone’s Valley has these places, the ones that just slow you right down to happiness. I have more, like the stretch from science buildings and boathouse past the pond at Smith College when I take the loop uphill. I like that I watch seasons change across the water and into those woods and that when students have morning classes, I always am reminded about what 18 year-olds look like.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

12.12.12 ❥ A Celebration of Generosity

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 20, Valley Gives Day

Valley Gives Logo (png)I love this about the little Valley I call home: people care about the larger world and they care about this community. I think volunteerism is something that’s a community value. To wit, my daughter’s preschool—not just the parents—are involved in community service activities. The message, as I understand it, to help others is part of life. Period.

The folks at the Community Foundation apparently think the same and so this year, there’s an initiative Valley Gives to bring lots of energy—and money—to participating organizations across the Valley. Their language: Valley Gives is a “celebration of generosity.” In order to partake in the day—it’s 12.12.12—each non-profit received some training, about using website and email and social media to reach out to their constituencies, and to ride the wave of the larger effort, the 12.12.12 one (is this date lodged in your mind yet?).

Even our preschool is participating.

I’ll be honest; there’s an overwhelm factor to a day like this—for the people doing the asking and for the people being asked, often, if you’re someone like me, known to be a cheerleader and a donor, you are being asked to help loads of organizations on one day and how can you possibly do so?

I’ve been thinking hard about this. Here are my answers:

  1. I am going to take some money that would have gone to holiday gifts and give it out on 12.12.12—and then I’m going to let my family know, as a holiday gift, that I have done so. I will give to organizations that matter not just to me but also to them. It’s not going to do magic for anyone, but it’s a way at this rather expensive time of year to justify giving a little more—and back to the helping is part of life, period sentiment, I’m not going to apologize for the fact that giving is part of life. To give is, in fact, a gift. You probably agree if you’ve read this far.
  2. I am inviting you—if you are involved with or enamored of an organization that’s participating in Valley Gives to leave a comment and let more people know about your favorite organization (click the link on the word, preschool, above, for one of mine). Add a link; tell us why.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Win Tickets to see Jake Shimabukuro at the Calvin Theater

Jake Shimabukuro at the Calvin Theater
Northampton, MA
Saturday, Dec. 1st at 8pm

Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in the Pioneer Valley for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

For November we are pleased to offer a chance to win one of two pairs of tickets to see Jake Shimabukuro. at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Saturday, December 1st, 2012.

Win tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Tuesday, 11/27/12  by 11:59pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT JAKE SHIMABUKURO

Jake Shimabukuro (photo credit: Merri Cyr)

In his young career, ukulele wizard Jake Shimabukuro has already redefined a heretofore under-the-radar instrument, been declared a musical “hero” by Rolling Stone, won accolades from the disparate likes of Eddie Vedder, Perez Hilton and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, wowed audiences on TV (Jimmy Kimmel, Conan), earned comparisons to Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis, and even played in front of the Queen of England.

With his new record Grand Ukulele, Shimabukuro’s star may burn even brighter. An ambitious follow-up to 2011’s Peace, Love, Ukulele (which debuted at #1 on the Billboard World Charts), the Hawaiian musician’s new record finds him collaborating with legendary producer/engineer Alan Parsons, best known for his work on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, The Beatles’ Abbey Road and his own highly successful solo project.  Parsons ended up helping Shimabukuro expand his sound, bringing in a 29-piece orchestra and a big-name rhythm section, including drummer Simon Phillips (The Who, Toto), session superstar bassist Randy Tico and Kip Winger (Winger, Alice Cooper), who helped with the orchestration.

Discover more about Jake Shimabukuro at www.jakeshimabukuro.com.

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win one of two pairs of tickets to see Jake Shimabukuro at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Saturday, December 1st, 2012, is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)! To win simply:

  1. SHARE YOU FAVORITE COMMUNITY HOLIDAY EVENT IN WESTERN MA below (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
  2. FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  4. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  5. We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Tuesday, 11/27/12  by 11:59pm (EST).

If you don’t win you should still go. Tickets are available at the Northampton Box office, online at IHEG.com, or by calling 413-586-8686.

Handmade, Independent and Local for the Holidays in Western MA

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

To Buy Local is to Buy Well and Eat Well, Too

By the time this goes to press, the weekend of open studios in Florence’s gigantic Arts and Industries building will be over. Mark your calendar for next year, though. But don’t despair. There are some buy local opportunities around these parts that really make winter more delightful (and if you know me, you know I don’t find winter all that delightful, so this is very high praise).

Snow Farm has two weekends’ worth of seconds’ sales upcoming. Cottage Street has its open studios coming up. The same weekend there’s a big craft show at Northampton High School. In Westhampton, there’s RED. At my very own house, there’s a craft show ahead too (for me, that’s buying extremely locally—in my living room). Shameless plug: work by Crispina ffrench, Caitlin Bosco, Lucy Fagella and Liz Ryan, amongst others—and Herrell’s Hot Fudge for sale, too.

❥ Heck, you really can skip all those big-box stores on mall strips or under mall roofs and go local. I adore local business owner and designer Mary Moore Cathcart’s Claw Foot Tub in Amherst (moved to the building on Main Street where Valley Frameworks is—tucked in the back, take a wander and a gander). I love her aesthetic—her gentle eye and also am a fan of her blog, which looks small and big constantly, much as is the case in her design work and describes well how she chooses goods to offer at her shop. Her friend, Eliza, recently of San Francisco but originally from Amherst, opened Kestrel just last month. The place feels more SF than most of Noho. And my pal Colette Katsikas, longtime manager of Essentials, on Main Street in Northampton, just bought the business. With her very own stamp, the store is refreshed, renewed, rejuvenated and oh-so-fabulous (go, shop at locally owned businesses!). Her eye is clean but quirky, and for brides, grooms, brides, brides, grooms, grooms she will pay the kind of attention necessary to make invitations etc. for the big day truly special. And I could go on and on. Remember that Artisan Gallery has its sixth annual Cup and Mug Invitational this month (an annual favorite) and that Pinch recently remodeled so the beautiful things inside are even more strikingly displayed. And I could go on…

But maybe you’ve done your craft shopping by the end of those paragraphs. You’ve made your map and marked your calendar. You could just go have fun: my son’s elementary school has a kid-centered, participatory Winter Fair on December first, if you’re looking for fun chaos with kids (the better chaos; chaos being a given).

Then, there’s local food. Tuesday Market goes until the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. A slew of winter farmers’ markets starts up in the here and the now—check CISA’s page listing them all: Northampton, Greenfield, Springfield and Amherst. And there’s an opportunity at each of your winter farmers’ markets to experience a week at the end of January of Winter Fare (as in, more like fair for the winter fare).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

Community in the Happy Valley ❥ Helping Friends and Neighbors

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 18, Community

Recently, a friend of my third boy had a medical emergency. This is a lifelong buddy, who lives a hop, skip, one street crossed and a jump away so that play can flow like a helix from one abode to the other and back again.

During the crisis, friends began to rally. First, there were a couple of phone calls, then a flurry of emails. Little surprises for the sick child appeared, along with snacks for the parents. The entire class sent cards.

Things were hard, and harder and then improving and improving—phew.

My family has been on the receiving end of such rallying, the dinner that simply shows up in the preschool cubby after a new baby arrives, the piece of advice that tilts things in the right direction after the kindergartner breaks his leg (this: “You won’t recognize your child for days, because he’s in pain, but right when you fear he’ll never return, in about a week, he’s there again.”), and stellar support during times of bigger, messier crisis.

Anywhere you go or anywhere you live, you can and will find kindness much like this when things go wrong. Communities reach out, or neighborhoods or classrooms, sure. The thing about where we live—biased opinion, indeed—is that in a way, our reaching out isn’t remarkable; this is what happens whenever there’s a crisis. You get concerts for arson victims; you get friends like ours, who just reach out because it’s a reflex to do so, or if not a reflex, perhaps a muscle that remains toned, because the gesture—meals when someone has a baby or friends pooling resources to help fund a parental leave in lieu of other gifts—of reaching out, that’s engrained. That’s how everyone does it around here. We help our friends and neighbors. It is so cool. And I am grateful every single time.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

Classes in Noho ❥ Yoga to Art. Pottery to Swimming.

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 17, All Those Classes Everywhere

Sometimes, when you hear friends from big cities discuss the options for classes available—chess clubs for preschoolers or some such, ballet barre workouts for adults, you get the idea—it’s acceptable to get momentarily jealous. As I delve down a rabbit hole that is simply called yoga by others less prone to rabbit hole diving afflictions, I’m reminded that for a not-urban spot, we are incredibly well endowed with amazing learning opportunities taught be masterful folks.

I guess I have to start with yoga. I’ve spent a bunch of time over the past months in classes taught by Brandt, Anna, Doris, and Abigail. I’ve just begun with the newest noontime teacher at Yoga Sanctuary, Khalila and am looking forward to her classes.

If your thing were more Pilates or Gyrokinesis, I’d say, there’s Kate Faulkner and Michelle Marroquin through Studio Helix to try or Katrina Hawley at the Pilates Studio in Hadley.

Your kids like art? Art Always is your spot. You like art? Ditto. You like pottery or your kids do? Try Northampton Pottery or check with a favorite potter: Tiffany Hilton is offering classes in Florence; Molly Cantor is offering classes in Shelburne Falls, so you get the idea.

For swim instruction you cannot beat Craig at the Valley Swim School. He’s famous—with good reason.

Karate abounds; the hidden gem is James’ Dragon Den dojo. I should know; my second guy goes there (leave a comment if interested, for the number). If you’re more interested in the awesomeness that is Capoeira, you are in luck.

You can even learn to sew; a sewing studio has opened up in town so I am told.

And in a category unto itself is the Y—I can vouch for the Hampshire Y but I know others can do the same for Holyoke and Greenfield. Our Y is a truly democratic institution, with sliding scales and a commitment to healthy community—and some kickass teachers, teams and all that good stuff. I have just started (this week) to use it for its yoga offerings. my daughter Saskia begins her classes this week (gym and swim plus a second gymnastics class; may she go down a rabbit hole of her own soon). Plus, there’s a sauna.

I’d love people to add tips in comments, because the few options I’ve listed here are some I happen to know, tip-of-iceberg ideas. For the record, a ballet barre workout class is on my lifetime bucket list so seriously if I’ve just missed the opportunity (especially in Northampton), please pretty please do tell.

Editors Note: Check our Suggest A Class bulletin board and the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events for classes happening throughout Western MA.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT TICKET GIVEAWAY: O.A.R. at the Calvin Theater

O.A.R. at the Calvin Theater
Northampton, MA
Friday, Sept. 7th at 8pm

Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in the Pioneer Valley for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

This month we are pleased to offer a chance to win a pairs of tickets to see O.A.R. at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Friday, September 7th, 2012. Opening act, Barefoot Truth.

Win tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Tuesday, 9/4/12 @ 7pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT O.A.R.

O.A.R.s Wind-up Records debut album, King, marks a new beginning for the band, while also paying homage to their past. It is the seventh studio effort in a career that began with their high school recording, The Wanderer. Bringing back the title character from their first album, O.A.R. takes the listener on a journey to discover that what the Wanderer, and the band members themselves, had been searching for all along, was there from the beginning. As the closing song on the new disc states, a return Back to One. – www.ofarevolution.com

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a pairs of tickets to see O.A.R. at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Friday, September 7th, 2012, with opening act, Barefoot Truth, is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)! To win simply:

  1. INSPIRE OUR READERS BY SHARING HOW YOU LIKE TO SPEND AN EVENING OUT AWAY FROM THE KIDS when there’s nothing happening at the Calvin (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
  2. FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  4. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  5. We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Tuesday, 9/4/12 @ 7pm (EST).

If you don’t win you should still go. Tickets are available at the Northampton Box office, online at IHEG.com, or by calling 413-586-8686.

Flowers ❥ Happy Bouquets in the Pioneer Valley

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 16, Flowers

Very often at Tuesday Market I come with camera and snap photos of flowers. In fact, often that’s the only thing I photograph at the market. (Photo credit: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser)

It hit me yesterday at the Tuesday Market how much the flowers around here mean to me. I’m not a big bouquet person (although, as you read on, ask yourself why didn’t she buy some of these flowers she fell in love with?). I enjoy when we have flowers on the table, but then, they wilt and droop and dry up and eventually we toss ‘em and I think I didn’t care about them correctly and I certainly didn’t dispose of them quickly enough.

I think maybe because I walk so many places, my main enjoyment of flowers comes in motion. I loop around the Smith campus often, near the greenhouse and that’s like a living bouquet or very still performance art along a fence (hat tip to Jeff, the gardener there). Many neighbors have lovely gardens. It’s fun to see the first snowdrops and to make up haiku about irises and those floozies the peonies (I love when flowers bring words to mind like that, floozies.). Over the years, I’ve gotten more attuned to the way colors move in waves, the whites, yellows and purples bleed into the pinks and magentas to the orange and red tiger lilies and on, the black eyed Susans and sunflowers with their hearty rays and dark centers. Textures shift. The flowers’ march across spring and summer and fall evoke memories of visits to San Francisco and Berkeley and Oakland with their microclimates. Change is dramatic and subtle all at once. It’s so distinguishable.

As a person who prefers the temperate seasons—and truthfully, a more temperate climate—I am surprised again and again that I actually notice these flowers with such attentiveness and that I adore them so much. Grateful to gardeners and wildflowers, grateful to a part of the world that holds so much fullness each year—the rounds from first flowers to last, I guess I wouldn’t trade this. Except, perhaps in January or February, when I’d give almost anything for a balmy breeze.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

NCTV On the Scene During Northampton Draws

Northampton Draws: Encouraging Community Creativity

This past Thursday, July 28th, in the old Dynamite Space at Thornes Marketplace and at the Northampton Center for the Arts, a free interactive drawing festival took place called Northampton Draws.  This family-friendly event invited the community to come and get creative together.

Northampton Community Television was at both of these locations getting video footage of the afternoon events. Here’s their footage of the “Make Your Own Drawing Tool Workshop” lead by Carolyn Clayton in the old Dynamite Space in Thornes Market:

Then they headed over to the Northampton Center for the Arts where fiber artist Deborah Jane Slavitt lead a workshop where families could “draw” using fiber:

Northampton Draws was sponsored by the United Bank Foundation and the Northampton BID, and produced by the Northampton Center for the Arts in cooperation with the City of Northampton and Thornes Marketplace.  Other artists who participated in Northampton Draws included Robert Markey, David Shapleigh, and Michael Townsend.

Pick-Your-Own Spots in Western Massachusetts

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 15, Pick-Your-Own Spots

Berry picking with the family. (Photo credit: Sarah Buttenwieser)

I wrote a little post for Momfilter, (fun site—I especially adore the pretty pictures!) about the joys of pick-your-own. For people who live in a city, I realize that the chance to go berry or apple picking—or even pluck a few cherry tomatoes from an outdoor plant, potted or in a garden plot—requires some planning (vacation activity, anyone?). And so writing that post made me think about another Mash Notable reality of life in this corner of New England: there are ample pick-you-own opportunities.

What’s more, from the pumpkin patch or apple orchard field trip that’s a staple in our preschools and early elementary years to the family outings for fill-in-the-blank favorite harvest-able, it turns out that the experience of picking food from where it grows is usual around here. This is a good thing for those of us hoping our kids understand the farm-to-table connection or at least the food doesn’t grow on supermarket shelves. This is a promising thing for the farmers’ markets, which span from Springfield to the Berkshires and pretty much all points in between. Appreciation for the most local food is, I think we can all agree, a sign of progress, even if it hits your ear as retro (my neighbors with the veggie garden in front of their house, I always equate with some read-about and heard-about tale of victory gardens).

❥ And this is a good moment to share this tip: you can find out about picking and farmers’ marketing and CSA sharing through CISA’s site. If you’re Berkshire bound, you can learn more through Berkshire Grown.


Related Posts:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

Signs ❥ Finding Your Way in Western MA

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 14, There Aren’t Many Signs

(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The other night at a potluck for the preschool class, a few people discussed the overwhelming number of billboards in Houston, Texas. One said, “There were so many signs there, I just felt bombarded.” She added, “Here, no billboards.” Another person added, “In fact, here, there aren’t even any signs. People say things like you’ll find that street because it’s one after where the old Texaco station used to be. Old Texaco station, I ask? Because I never saw a Texaco station here; the Texaco station predated me.”

This may be a progressive, hip, famously artsy and famously lesbian town. There may be loads of colleges and that many more carpenters with masters’ degrees. But for all the hipness or quirkiness or whatever, let’s remember this is New England, a land of reserve and understatement, a not-frilly place that seems to believe signs are not exactly necessary.

Ever gotten lost on a country road around here?

❥ I forget these things, sometimes, how this stoic, old-time, live-and-let-live vein runs through the Pioneer Valley. All the way back to my early days in the Valley, as a student at Hampshire College, I would run on West Street early in the morning and then loop around toward the South Amherst Common and there were a couple of places I passed on cold, even frosty autumn mornings where the scent of wild grapes wafted across me, diaphanous, sharp, and juicy. I was always surprised by the grapes, and always grateful that I had landed in a place where farming mingled with new construction (not that I loved all the new construction) and that the college itself was situated on a former orchard.

The beauty of this place and the way there aren’t signs wafts across our lives almost daily, like the grapes often a complete surprise we enjoy along with all the amenities in our hip little outpost city.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

Affirming What’s Essential ❥ Love in Western MA

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 13, Civil Rights in Lesbianville

The other day I was at our co-op and listening in at the checkout on a conversation between friends about exercise classes. The two women were lesbians and here, where we live in the town that earned its Lesbianville moniker long ago, that’s unremarkable. It struck me that I really like lesbians. Considering where I live, this is a good thing, right?

For 18 months, my dear hubby and I lived in London. It wasn’t until I began to fabricate lesbian status for a couple of fellow gym-goers that I realized I’d attempted to fill a quota I understood as true ratio of lesbians in the population, period, rather than true ratio of lesbians in the population, Northampton, Massachusetts. I missed my lesbians.

❥ No question, our little corner of the earth cheered when President Obama uttered these simple words: “At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

No question, we have many stories (I shared some in a recent Mash Note) about the ways our kids already demonstrate full embrace for love-makes-a-family.

No question there will be more great photographs and memories from Northampton Pride 2012.

Sometimes, I think to myself that I’ve opted for such a gentle, little (read, unreal) spot to live. I have to remind myself that for all the ways we feel relatively safe here and cushioned by the lush green landscape and the earnest students and the even more earnest longtime lefty activists (and by the way, my kids’ school has someone they’ve dubbed “resident hippie” in the building, with a car he painstakingly continues to paint a psychedelic design), we have this amazing ahead-of-the-country’s-curve understanding here, too. We get it: to love whom you love and to be who you want to be is truly, deeply essential.

Eventually, we’ll look back upon all the questions about gay marriage or transgender identity and realize civil rights are just that. Our jaws will (and won’t) drop, much as they do when we realize black and white heterosexuals could not always take marriage for granted. And again, I’ll be very glad to have lived here, with the lefties and the hippies and the lesbians and the F to M’s and the M to F’s and the not checking the gender box folks and the farmers and the professors and the artists, lawyers and therapists and bicycle trash service workers.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

A Year And Today in Paradise ❥ Comfort Spots in Northampton

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 12, There’s No Place Like Home

Sushi at Osaka

Sushi at Osaka. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The twelfth Mash Note to Paradise! Really? Over this past year in these notes I’ve loved our bike paths and our college town-y-ness, our farms and our farmers’ markets, our give back mentality and our reverence for all sorts of families and our indie vibes. Much as I don’t love winter, I even embrace the weather. If you were to read these Mash Note to Paradise in a pile and you didn’t already live here you’d probably want to move here, right? You would. So, I find it unsurprising that I know quite a few wonderful realtors.

In honor of this year of Mash Note to Paradise, I want to share a few handy links that might make life (or a visit to) in Paradise that much more enchanting.

I think I’d have to say River Valley Market (the co-op!) is the friendliest store I know. Like Cheers, everyone seems to know my daughter, Saskia (and ask after her if she’s not with me).

Most people find a few comfortable spots to frequent. I’m sharing mine not because they are the very best ones, but because they are the ones I know and love. I am at the moment crazy for the half-and-half ice tea at Woodstar Café—half black tea, half herbal lemon honey ginger, all yum—and I will trump up excuses to go there and happen upon a glass of it. To my surprise I have become devoted to yoga at Yoga Sanctuary. As my friend (met at yoga) notes on her blog: “There is no photo available to show you how the individuals doing downward dog in the photo above would be facing a gigantic window looking across the street to old brick buildings and blue sky.” After class I love the quick GoBerry stop. If I’m with Saskia and following her lead we will end up in the frozen treat Mecca of Herrell’s. While I’m a half-and-half drinker, my writing group meets at Sip, and I love hanging there (and my eldest texted me a tantalizing find—their macaroons are delicious and gluten-free). I may not go out much, but my restaurant of choice is most certainly Osaka, except I have begun a lunch date tradition with a friend at Moshi Moshi and it, too, is terrific. You get the idea, yes?

❥ Maybe though the main point isn’t this series of Mash Note to Paradise to this one place but the Glinda magic invoked in the writing of these loving missives. Tap your heels together and say, “There’s no place like home.” The more you take note in what makes where you live a real home, the more you can revere that home. Tap-tap-tap.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

Gender, Family and Love in the Pioneer Valley

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 11, Openness About Gender, Family & Love

(Photo credit: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser)

Although Northampton Pride is a ways away, there’s an admirable flexibility about how we think of families and love and gender and identity in these parts that I can’t take for granted. Every single time my preschooler is playing family and says something like, “I’ll be the mom. And you can be the mom,” I know I should be counting lucky stars.

Overheard: one friend’s preschooler asked, “When am I getting another mom?”

Another friend’s child was preparing to study Billie Holiday for a school project. Child asked whether Billie Holiday is a man or a woman. Parent replied, “She was a woman.” Child followed up, “So, she used to be a man?”

Having created a family tradition of attending Northampton’s Pride event each May, in the elementary school years, each of my boys has asked some version of this question: “Why is there a march about this anyway?” The sense that standing up for LGBT rights is necessary didn’t even register. Acceptance is a beautiful thing, even if, in truth in terms of LGBT rights, we still have quite a ways to go.

❥ But here we do have dads staying home while moms work (and vice versa and other combinations, as well). We fill a book with images of families formed at least in part by adoption (and then some; it could be books, plural). Family Diversity Projects began in this part of the world and spreads the simple truth that love makes a family way beyond this charmed spot. We have a whole community supporting families with kids who have lived in foster care. We have an organization supporting children with different needs to participate in activities, which their families thought might remain beyond reach. We come together in the thousands to run and walk on behalf of a women’s shelter (in December, no less).

That is not to paint an idyllic picture and say there’s nothing more to be done, not at all. It is a pretty amazing foundation, though, what’s going on here—and how much more committed we seem to be to the notion of love and family getting to be love and family than many other places. My fondest hope for my kids—and yours, too—is that they carry these beliefs with them and spread this celebration of love and this dedication to supporting families to enjoy that—love—above all else.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

Ticket Giveaway: Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem Family Concert in Northampton

Win a Family 4-Pack of Free Tickets…

Family Concert with Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem
Saturday, March 3rd, 2012 @ 10:30am
at The First Churches of Northampton

Rani Arbo says the band is ready to party with the Valley: "Nonotuck knows how to cure the midwinter blues! Stir together a handful of musicians and a heap of kids and parents, pour into a beautiful old church, season with fund-raising goodwill, and presto: a party!"

For the third year in a row, Hilltown Families is a proud sponsor of the Nonotuck Community School Winter Family Concert Series.  This year the school ends their concert series with a family concert with Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem, “one of America’s most inventive string bands” (Boston Herald)…and we have a family 4-pack of free tickets to giveaway to one lucky family! Proceeds from the performance go to benefit Nonotuck Community School, a local non-profit preschool! Deadline to enter to win is 02/29/12 by 7pm (EST). Find out how to enter to win below.

ABOUT RANI ARBO & DAISY MAYHEM

Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem is a rootsy, Americana-style string band of four musicians — all parents — who have played and toured together for 10 years. Their grooves are deep, their four-part harmonies are rich, and their adventurous, eclectic song selection serves their debut family CD Ranky Tanky well. Family music is a new endeavor for the band, but they have longstanding reputation for performances that are, as the Boston Globe put it, “playful and profound. Ranky Tanky sticks with that equation: it’s uplifting, danceable, playful, sometimes silly, sometimes wistful, and never sarcastic. Rani Arbo fires up the fiddle; Anand Nayak plays electric and acoustic guitars; Andrew Kinsy is on upright acoustic bass (and ukulele and banjo), and Scott Kessel pilots the Drumship Enterprise, a percussion rig made from cardboard boxes, tin cans, water jugs, and a vinyl suitcase. Together, they create a joyful, musical fusion of sounds both old and new — and a great soundtrack for family tim

ABOUT THE NCS 2012 WINTER FAMILY CONCERT SERIES

The NCS Winter Family Concert Series is an annual three-part Winter Family Concert Series hosted by Nonotuck Community School. The 2012 season started off with a family concert with The Nields in January, followed by A Family Dance Party with DJ Joan Holliday in February and Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem in March.  The family concerts take place at The First Churches of Northampton (129 Main Street). Proceeds from this concert series will go to benefit Nonotuck Community School, a nonprofit parent cooperative that provides early education and care for children aged 15 months to 5 years old, and is located in Florence, Massachusetts (221 Riverside Drive, 586-5996). For more information visit: www.nonotuck.org or call 413-586-5996.

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a family 4-pack of tickets to see Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem in concert at The First Churches of Northampton on Saturday, March 3rd, 2012 @ 10:30am , is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!  To win simply:

  • CONSIDER SHARING ON FACEBOOK by selecting the Facebook icon below,
  • TELL US HOW HILLTOWN FAMILIES CONNECTS YOUR FAMILY WITH EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES DURING SCHOOL VACATION WEEKS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR  below (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
  • FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  • LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  • ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  • We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Wednesday, 02/29/12 @ 7pm (EST).

Valley Famous Residents Give a Little Love Back to Paradise

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 10, Our Famous People are Cool (& Give Back)

John Hodgman at the Amherst Cinema on March 11th, 2012. (Courtesy Photo)

There’s little question that Rachel Maddow’s rise is something many Valley folk feel a kind of personal cheerlead-y excitement over. I mean, she’s smart and funny and we loved her first. She brings some of our real politics into the mainstream (by real, let’s say progressive and a little wonky, the National Priorities Project and Free Press angles of seeing the issues writ less about political parties and more about issues of access and spending and information sharing). Her love story is pretty quintessentially a Valley one; she met Susan when she knocked on the door to fix something and you know, lesbians in love, happens all the time (around here).

She’s even been Tumblr’ed to better that oft-memed Ryan Gosling—what’s not to like?

Part of what makes it that much more fun to live here is that the people who somehow collide with fame and Paradise or its environs, before, after or during really do give back.

Case in point: Rachel Maddow helped raise money this summer for the Cummington Creamery (also, she and her partner are generous more generally around here).

❥ Next month, John Hodgman will offer his witty brand o’expertise to a Movie Trivia Bee for our (fabulous) independent movie theaters, Pleasant Street Cinema and Amherst Cinema. The event will be at Smith College (Weinstein Auditorium) on Sunday, March 11th at 3 PM. Bill Dwight, formerly the world’s oldest video clerk and now City Council President in Northampton (that’s how Northampton rolls) is emcee. Rather than glitz, we have cool, sharp and funny going—and gracious and loyal. Love of place and community, baby, that’s the bomb diggity.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

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