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News, schools, and views from a uniquely Lowell perspective

Sunday in the Park

A favorite painting of ours is George Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte (Un dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte from 1884), a pointillist work which shows all levels of society enjoying a day away from the city and the cares of the workaday world. Today we felt the need to be near the water and headed over to the Esplanade which was certainly getting lots of use. Here’s what we saw: dog walkers, joggers, baby carriages, kids on bikes, trikes, scooters, skateboards and roller blades; there were families, couples, seniors, and solo strollers; sunbathers, shade-seekers, swimmers and sand-castle builders – the beach was crowded! We saw lots of groups settled in for the day with lawn chairs, grills, and a latin beat sounding from car stereo speakers. Some were playing catch, tossing a football, blowing bubbles, flying kites – we even saw some tight-rope walkers! There were people fishing and people boating – many jet skis flew by. People were eating ice cream cones, sipping iced coffee drinks, and having picnics on blankets by the water. The bright sun, sparkling water, light breeze and nearly cloudless skies made the scene like so much like Seurat’s painting! We were happy to be out with fellow Lowellians on this Sunday afternoon.

posted in Art, City Life | 0 Comments

Civil War Book-Signing Event Tomorrow

Sarah Vowell, author of, among others, Assasination Vacation and The Partly-Cloudy Patriot, both funny and thought-provoking looks at history and politics, once said, “I think about the Civil War every day.” I often think about her thinking about the Civil War when I contemplate my own fascination with the subject, and what better time to have such thoughts than during the sesquicentennial years of those epic events, with next year bringing the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

I think my favorite book about the Civil War(along with McPherson’s epic “Battle Cry of Freedom“) has to be Confederates in the Attic, by Tony Horwitz. The intrepid author explores the new South in search of the old – and his findings are instructive, amusing, at times horrifying, but always engaging. He marches with Civil War re-enactors, bushwhacks through snake-infested undergrowth in search of forgotten monuments, dares small-town biker bars to interview locals, and attends Sons of Confederate Veteran’s meetings, along with traipsing through battlefields from Manassas to the Wilderness. It is a great read.

Tony Horwitz has written a new book about John Brown, called Midnight Rising, and is actually in Chelmsford tomorrow in a joint appearance with this wife and fellow-author Geraldine Brooks, whose novel March, imagines the story of the Father in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. This event will be held at Chelmsford High School, tomorrow, May 12th, at 11:00 am.

posted in Books | 0 Comments

Hypermiling

My long daily commute (55 minutes each way to Concord, NH) has led me to adopt a strategy of “hypermiling.” I don’t have a Prius, and the rising price of gas has made my weekly stops to fill the tank somewhat painful, not to mention the guilt over my carbon footprint. Hypermiling has become a way to mitigate these feelings and add a fun daily challenge. I generally get 21 to 24 miles per gallon when driving around Lowell, but by going 55 mph on the highway, I’ve managed to achieve an average of 29 miles per gallon. No doubt my fellow commuters are annoyed as they barrel past me, but I stay in the right lane and slow down to let others zip ahead of me when merging onto the road. An additional benefit is that I have become a much less aggressive driver. I don’t feel the need to pass or cut off other drivers, and my long drive has actually become a calming ritual, where I drink coffee, listen to audio books or Spanish tapes, and eventually arrive at work in a mellow frame of mind.

posted in Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Watch this video and you can’t help but connect the dots

Maybe you’re like me, marveling about the mild winter we had in Lowell or how quickly spring arrived (remember those magnolias flowering in March—unheard of so early in the season). Or even, simply breathing a sigh of relief because at last we’re getting some much-needed rain that hopefully won’t ruin the weekend.  Around the world, other people just like us are experiencing their own kinds of climate change, some of it not nearly as benign as we’ve seen in the Merrimack Valley (so far).

Tomorrow, whether or not it’s raining, you like cold snowy winters, or you enjoy weeks of record-breaking heat, please take 10 minutes of your Saturday morning to stand with your neighbors in front of Lowell City Hall at 10:30 for a photo to promote environmental awareness about climate change. Across the globe, others too will stand for this cause, so that we can begin to connect the dots regarding the global impacts of our reliance on fossil fuels. Do it because you can, because it’s important, and because together is the only way we can make a difference.

To put what’s at stake in perspective, watch this excellent short video that truly connects the dots and gives a global perspective on the impact climate change is having. The short piece was written by Bill McKibben of 350.org, and narrated and illustrated by Stephen Thomson of Plomomedia.com. It is well worth watching.

posted in Environment | 0 Comments

Lowell Humane Society

What do you know about the Lowell Humane Society? I visited their website today and learned a lot, first of all that they are putting technology to good use, with a blog, rotating pictures of featured pets, and tweets about pets and donation needs. Pretty impressive! As a private, non-profit organization (in operation since 1873), they do not receive any public funds and rely on donations to fund their tireless efforts to:

prevent cruelty, provide care for homeless and distressed animals and educate the public about responsible pet ownership.

Their fundraising efforts include monthly fundraisers at local restaurants, where you stop in and get some food (you got to eat anyway, right?) and the restaurant donates some funds to the charity. The next one is two nights in June, Monday and Tuesday, June 4th and 5th at Chili’s in Lowell.

Of course, the reason I know so much about this worthy organization is that my cat is missing! His name is Milo, black and white, very friendly, in case you see him around the Highlands.

posted in City Life, Local Groups | 1 Comment

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