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A good busy, but busy is busy. More shortly ♥

I freaking love Banana Joe’s. I discovered it when Our Man Cub was but a wee thing, and I’ve been visiting it ever since. Why? Primarily because it’s good thrift – you can get veggies on the cheap pretty much all the time. This week, for example, all the apples and pears were $1.29/lb – including the asian pears (om nom nom).

The neat thing about Banana Joe’s is the changing nature of the place. There’s a back room that was once a potato room, then for a while was the tomato room, and now is the pasta and dried fruit room. Also, in addition to the deli counter, now there’s a bakery counter with some lovely treats and whoopie pies. But it’s not just the updating I’m talking about, it’s that there’s always some changing going on there. Of course the produce changes as different things come into season (a couple years ago there were bins of lychees!), but also there’s a side parking lot that fills and empties as the seasons change – I remember seeing plants out there one spring, and I know that in autumn it will be filled with pumpkins and potted mums.

There isn’t anything terribly fancy about Banana Joe’s, but that’s really a good chunk of the charm right there. The veggies can be picked up super cheap (spring salad mix $1.99 for a box the same size as the Dole baggie in the supermarket, and it doesn’t stink of chemicals, either), and you can get cold cuts or sandwiches at the same time.* They also have a pretty good meat counter, with prepared kabobs n’ whatnot. Here and there, there are some fun treats – papaya** or the odd crate of lychees – but my favorite thing about Banana Joe’s is that I can depend on getting the staples for cheaps every week: potatoes, greens, lunchbox fruits, celery, bell peppers, the stuff we just need to make meals. Generally, nothing too fancy, good basic stuff. The stuff that a household runs on, right?

715 W Boylston St, next to the Burger King lot. They’re open seven days a week now, too –   Mon-Fri 9 am – 7 pm, Sat-Sun 9 am – 6 pm.

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It was a long flight by motorcycle to Little Whinging with baby Potter in the sidecar. Those diapers don't change themselves. Just sayin'.

I sat down to write about this dreadful commercial I saw the other night, only to find, upon researching it more, that it has been pulled. Hooray! But the more I think about it this morning, the more I think that just because it’s been pulled and so swept under the rug, the more it needs to be talked about, actually.

Let me check my privilege before I begin here: My mother was a second wave feminist, and she instilled in me some Values. I was in the right place at the right time to be part of the Riot Grrrl movement.* A good eighty percent of the men I deal with are really great people who just, well… get it. The other twenty percent of these guys, the ones who want to take my agency, the guy who pulled the exceptionalism stunt on me in my pigtails at Trader Joe’s last year, I feel empowered enough to deal with them on my own. And I’m privileged enough not to run into the really scary ones that often.** Big. Privilege. Ok, recognized, stated, spoken, there it is: context.

So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gender, ever since spending the week at Kripalu, engaged in Sisterhood, because this was a different kind of gooey center –  I tend to ruminate upon gender in terms of the personal-as-political more than anything else. Men are a very important part of my life, and it helps that I live with two really great men (ok, one of them, at thirteen, is really still a cub – he still has the goofy paws and the learning curve thing happening) who value me as I am – we have a huge amount of mutual respect, a metric fuckload of love, and a really great division of labour (for the record, Will Dearest has changed a few diapers in his time). Which is to say, I am blessed with a home that is a safe place and sanctuary.
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Admission: I have lived in Worcester since 1995, and I’m still getting used to the place. For example, I hate the traffic, I’m not always 100% sure where I’m going, and I still sometimes am startled by how I ended up where I got to. I’m not always sure that I’m speaking the same language as the person I’m talking to, even if (especially if) we’re both speaking english. I haven’t, even now, after Man Cub has been in public school here for nine and half years, ever not been caught unawares two days before February Vacation. This practical little town is constantly surprising me with something (hello, construction) – and it’s not always something that I know how to interpret, right? But I deal – I live here.

I’m not always in love with Worcester, but it doesn’t look like we’re going to be living anywhere else anytime soon. Our Man Cub goes into high school next year, and he’ll either be staying in the arts magnet (which has been osm thus far, btw) or heading to Worcester Tech, and as a family we love those choices. Will Dearest is starting to poke his nose into the idea of owning property here, too. By the time Man Cub is out of high school, I will have lived in Worcester for two decades – I figure now is kind of a great time for me to, if not fall in love with Worcester, to at least find a way to love it.

So I’m beginning a project: I’m going to find 100 Delightful Things in Worcester, MA. I’ve started a list,* and I’m going to work through it in the order that my natural self goes about the business of being me. I’ll blog about the places I visit, and once a week or so, present them to you, dear reader, in just the order that I happen to visit them. You might notice a leaning toward small businesses, because I’m on a bit of a mission to spend my meager dollars as locally as I can, and so I’ve been poking around in places of commerce lately.

As just yesterday I came home from vacation** to a house with pretty bare cupboards, restocking is on my mind. While making up the grocery list for the week, I came upon this great looking recipe for a roast chicken,***  which totally calls for lemongrass, and there’s only one place I know of in town to get it at a good price.

Which means that today’s trip brought Man Cub and myself across Kelly Square,† down Green Street to Binh An Market (64 Green Street, open M-Sat 9am-8pm, Sun 9am-7pm).

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So. I brought the little bitty computer with me to Kripalu with the express intention of writing every night while I was on retreat. But it turned out that even checking my email on the little machine was akin to trading on the NASDAQ from a cigar box, so, um, yeh, that really didn’t happen. But honestly, this was the first time in four years that I went on retreat and brought any electronic business with me – usually I go up there and unplug pretty completely; I don’t even call home, right? So perhaps this was a sign from the Universe that really, unplugged is the way to go while I’m on retreat. Or that the little lappie just gets bamboozled when taken out of its natural environment.* But, um, I’m back \o/

Anyway! What a fantastic week this was! This was the second year that Mom and I went to Kripalu for the Vibrant Visionary Collage Workshop, and it did not disappoint. We were both a little apprehensive that the course material would repeat from the year before, but no such thing – the presenter, Karen Arp-Sandel, had a different angle of approach this year from the year before, and it was just as delightful as it was the year before.**

So the workshop is just what you might think it is from the title – it’s a week of collaging, cutting and pasting, and playing with paper and pieces, and learning techniques for treating paper and other images. Which, in my book, is pretty dandy all in itself. But wait – there’s more: tho’ we were working in the studio all week,*** really, the focus was on Sisterhood. Now, before you tune out because that sounds all new-agey, try and embrace the crunchy granola spot inside you, because it was really truly osm to be in the presence of such business all week. (Also, please go read this, which I had the luxury of reading directly upon return – funny these rhythms, huh? Also, this.****)

I truly felt a strong vibe of Sisterhood in that room full of interesting, strong women. For someone who struggles (frequently) over the notions of safe spaces v. ghettoization of women, it was kind of a big deal for me. Maybe it’s easier to begin explaining it in terms of what it was not: it was not divisive, it was not anti-, it was not aggressive, it was not political beyond what the personal is in all of us. I don’t remember any talk about men in terms other than in terms of the husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers that we love.***** Actually, I don’t remember a whole lot of talk about men overall – primarily the talk was about women in our lives. There was a lot of talk of sisters and mothers. There were three mother/daughter pairs of participants in the group (I was honored to be part of one of those pairs, myself). And the energy in the room was about bringing together, about shared experience and consciousness as women, and about play expressed in in that scope.

It was also about claiming one’s art.

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March 2012