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James V. Cunningham Sr: He cared the most about what truly mattered

We are in Pittsburgh this week, not to write an article and meet the usual 'interesting local people,' but instead to say farewell to a distinguished member of the faculty at Pitt and a community leader named James V. Cunningham Sr who died at 91 on March 28. As I've gotten older I have paid much closer attention to funerals and how to react and respond when people's family members or friends pass away.  Someone wrote once that if you have to decide whether to go 0

Saturday mornings bring memories, chores and promise

 Saturday mornings always feel different than any other morning of the week. I have a recurring memory that flashes back to me often when I wake up on a sunny Saturday, it takes me back more than 35 years to my first apartment in North Amherst. I have a gauzy image of myself sitting in a rocking chair with the sun streaming into my room at the back of the big two-family on North Pleasant St, reading the Daily Hampshire Gazette sipping coffee brewed in 0

Meeting face to face to talk about Facebook ads today

I'm up early this morning, heading for a rendezvous to meet a friend who will drive us both to Pittsfield. I haven't been to this city in a long time, and today's visit is to meet employees of Facebook who will present about how to use their gigantic service for local advertising.   Facebook began with such a simple promise, and got the majority of us hooked on keeping up with our friends and relatives photos, latest career news, and about what we're doing that very 0

Tinariwen: From Mali's deserts to Northampton Thursday night!

From the desert of Northern Mali, the band Tinariwen combines spiritual music from their native Tuareg people.  The Tuareg are famous nomads, living in harsh deserts and using everything in nature to survive.  I first heard Tinariwen on Jim Neil's Jukebox, an eclectic music show on Wednesday nights from 7-10 on WRSI. He slipped this one in between his usual pop ditties, and I remember asking myself, WHO IS THAT?  Tinariwen a band of Tauregs from Mali playing Northampton's Iron Horse Thursday  The band was formed by 0

In the thick of a kitchen renovation

We are in the thick of a kitchen renovation, and I am beginning to get excited about it, now that the plastic is down and we can see the big change we made by cutting a 4' x 6' hole in the wall between the kitchen and the living room.  New England houses built in the 1920s were made up of such small rooms--there is now a cottage industry with contractors knocking down walls, making these huge interior windows, and trying to undo the claustrophobic designs 2

I'm already California dreamin' after one day back home in New England

It's become a cliche to complain about our brutal winter ... but let me just say that I am not that happy to be home. Contrasting my time in Ventura and Marina del Rey California, it was painful. From a hot tub overlooking a busy yacht Marina to slipping on ice walking to the Deerfield post office. From an ocean front walking and biking trail to the dirty snow rimmed with a dusting of new snow and a pile of trash frozen to my back 0

Sailing on the shimmering bay in Marina del Ray

At the UCLA Marina Aquatic Center, Ceasar teaches sailing at all levels. When I first saw Marina del Rey, California, all I could think of was, “I wonder exactly how many boats there are here?” That’s because when you look at the harbor of this city of about 8,000 people, all you see are the bobbing boats and masts that go on for miles. Take a ride on the bicycle path that winds its way from Admiralty and you pass row upon row, what seems 0

Ventura Botanical Garden: Big plans afoot

Exciting things are unfolding on the hill above San Buenaventura City Hall at the Ventura Botanical Garden in central California. Through the vision and volunteer efforts of many caring citizens the botanical garden plans to offer much more than a garden. Doug Halter, past President of the Garden, outlined the history of the gardens and future goals during a one hour hike from City Hall up to the sweeping views of Ventura and the Pacific Ocean from the top of the hill. He said this 0

Ringing the bell at the San Buenaventura Mission with Father Tom

Spanish missionaries built a chapel in what is now the center of Ventura California in 1782. Father Tom Elewaut, the current pastor, explained the early missionaries built the church with the hope of bringing Christianity to the 1200 native Chumash Indians. San Buenaventura Mission has endured for three centuries, and today it's considered the epicenter of this vibrant seaside city. From its four-acre site one sees the Pacific Ocean and fom its tranquil gardens one gazes on an eclectic mix of Spanish architecture that comprise 0

Valley Voices Story Slam at Hinge: Josie Dulles wins the night!

It was a competition with a whole lot of people wanting to get in. More than one hundred people vied for the right to tell a five minute story, in a live show at the Hinge in Northampton. But when the Valley Voices Story Slam opened, it was just ten lucky speakers who would share their personal stories of loss, and of parents, and about growing up. In the friendly confines of Hinge, we had some wine white we waited to be seated, nice cabernets 0