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Ghosts of Christmas past

I will admit to being stuck. Stuck in Christmas past, which — grief aside — has always been my “go to” place this time of the year. There’s something about the holiday that brings back vivid memories of childhood, even more so having watched the excitement and joy of my own two daughters that begins roughly an hour after Thanksgiving […]

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A life in 640 words

This past weekend I wrote my brother’s obituary. An obituary that he never would have wanted, but that we needed. This follows the personal tribute I wrote, which was more about what he meant to my life . Writing is always hard. But writing the summary of someone’s life, particularly when you are dealing with the fact that it’s really […]

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A certain view

Without fail, each time we spend more than a day in another place, I have the desire to move there. The highlight reel: I’ve opined about living in Pacifica and Monterey; Ipswich, Chatham, and Gloucester; Boulder and Nederland; Philadelphia, New York City, and Seattle. But Maine. That’s where I really sink my teeth in. Trulia and Zillow get involved. As […]

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12

When I first started this blog and was trying to figure out what I’d fill it with (still working on that), I briefly thought of making it parenting-related since that’s been the major focus of my life for the past 12 years. But then I started thinking that the stories of my kids weren’t really my stories to tell, and […]

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48 hours in NYC

I try not to spend too much time in the Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda neighborhood, but sometimes you end up there by accident, before you can roll up the windows, lock the doors, and speed away. A recent and too short trip to New York City found me there, as family stroll brought us from The Museum of Natural History to […]

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Printed, matted, and framed

I hadn’t stopped to think how big 12″x18″ would really be when I placed a printing order last week for two of my photographs. Now that they are matted and framed, however, I’m pleasantly surprised to see that they’ve taken up the entire gallery wall outside of my studio. There are probably upwards of 45,000 digital images on my computer. The bulk of them are of […]

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Studio 301: An Introduction

In retrospect, it was probably for the best that my laptop’s WiFi connection didn’t work for most of the time I was at the studio on my first day. The absence of Twitter forced me out of my new hidey hole and I slowly discovered the environment of the third floor. First stop was the women’s bathroom where I admired the diamond steel plates on […]

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All politics is local

When I moved back to Massachusetts nearly five years ago, I discovered volunteerism. I was 42 and had somehow made it that far in life without anyone ever asking me to be directly involved in a cause or an organization. I don’t know what that says about me, but I think that sometimes it’s best not to ruminate too much on every detail […]

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A writing studio

Last week I signed the lease on a 285 square foot art studio on the third floor of a refurbished mill building in Lowell. I move into my new writing space on April 1. Perhaps the joke is on me. The idea of renting a studio for writing came out of nowhere. One day I remembered the building from a feature article I wrote […]

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The City of Spindles

Sometimes when you live near history, you take it for granted. I was reminded of that during February vacation when I took the kids to the Boott Cotton Mills Museum in Lowell. Growing up in Massachusetts, I was aware of the various mills in the state and the company towns that formed around them. It’s also hard to miss what happened to them when […]

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A night in Salem

Other than a handful of news and feature articles and the occasional freelance job, my writing production has flatlined. There are a few things rattling around the inside of my head–an essay here, a short story there–but nothing that makes me want to carve out some time to write for hours. The inspiration just hasn’t been there. Then last night […]

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Dance like nobody’s watching at Carlisle’s Friday Night Live

by Karina Coombs Brother and sister act at last month’s FNL. (Photo by Parissa Khayami) [Reprinted from the original Carlisle Mosquito article found here.] If you are in middle school and looking for a fun Friday night, Carlisle’s hottest club is FNL. Located in the gym and exercise room at the Carlisle Public School (CPS), and sponsored by the Carlisle Youth Commission, this place has everything: dancing, a professional DJ, snacks and drinks, basketball, ping pong, games, monthly theme parties and more. First held in 1984, Friday Night Live, or FNL as it is known, is typically held the first Friday of each month from 7 to 9:30 p.m. and is open to Carlisle students in grades six through eight whether or not they attend CPS. Admission is $8 and snacks and drinks are available for purchase, with the proceeds from  both directly supporting the program. Registration is required for FNL and can be done online through the Carlisle Recreation Department. Students may bring an out of town guest provided the student’s parent or guardian stays as a chaperone. An emphasis on inclusion when it matters Middle school brings a lot of change for adolescents: new teachers, new responsibilities and expectations and new social pressures. Wanting to fit in and be included, such as invitations to social events outside of school—or a lack thereof—takes on greater importance as kids begin defining who they are apart from their families.

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Why I write for the Mosquito

by Karina Coombs [Reprinted from the original Carlisle Mosquito article found here.] It’s not often that you get a chance to  reinvent yourself and when it happens in your mid-40s, and you thought those chances had all but passed, you take it. Newly arrived in Carlisle, I first met the Mosquito’s General Manager Susan Emmons on the playground of the Red Balloon preschool. We talked about what it was like to live in a small town before she casually asked if I’d like to write for the newspaper. Without her knowing it at the time, she offered me the opportunity to pursue a dream I had shelved long ago, as well as a way back into the workforce after seven years of being a stay at home parent. If you want to learn about your community, reading the newspaper is a good way to start. But if you really want to know how it ticks from the inside out, its myriad of boards and players and how they fit together, writing for the newspaper is the way to go. There are the big town boards to cover of course, followed by those lesser known before you get to the more obscure boards. Have I mentioned the subcommittees? Each of these is made up of volunteers: well-intentioned, smart and interesting people that make decisions every day about Carlisle and its 5,000 residents and nearly 30 million dollar budget. But for board […]

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Nature and technology meet at Gleason’s newest art show

by Karina Coombs   A series of ceramic scrolls from Bedford artist Carol Rissman. Rissman makes each tile from white or red clay before imprinting or stamping them with natural found objects. Pieces are then fired and stained. Tiles are selected individually for each scroll and mounted on a wooden backing. (Photo by Karina Coombs)     [Reprinted from the original Carlisle Mosquito article found here.] Gleason Library’s Art at the Gleason opened its first show of 2017 with “Affinity: puzzles, sculptures, and photography,” featuring the works of Carlisle residents Dale Joachim and Bill Claybrook and Bedford’s Carol Rissman. The show runs until March 25. The beauty of found objects Nature’s influence is apparent when looking at the ceramic works of local artist, Carol Rissman. Since retirement, as a broadcaster and news director for a local NPR station (in addition to writing and editing for a number of publications), Rissman has turned what had been a hobby into a full time endeavor, making both functional and sculptural pieces at the Harvard University Ceramics Studio where she is a resident artist. Whether it is a stone, feather, leaf or some other natural found object, Rissman is attracted to the beauty she finds outdoors, incorporating it in unexpected ways into the mosaic and scroll tile pieces that make up her collection. “I’m happy to have this way of using them,” she says of the treasures she regularly picks up. Rissman’s pieces begin […]

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Women Who Will

I stayed up as long as I could this morning, but in the end I made myself go to sleep knowing what we would all learn eventually and trying to figure out a way to explain this to my daughters. They went to sleep thinking they would wake up to a bold new day: the first woman President of these […]

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Pineapples

[NOTE: My kids and I started a summer writing challenge: using a word or general theme to create some piece of writing each week. My 10-year-old suggested, “pineapple” and the following is my contribution.] Wendy didn’t remember when it started. She only knew the story, one that her family liked to tell to just about every person they met. It […]

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Brimfield Antique and Collectibles Show, 2016

Back when we were dating, my husband and I first went to the Brimfield Antique and Collectibles show. We spent hours strolling up and down the street and in and out of the tents looking for things that “spoke” to us. We acquired an enormous porcelain industrial glove mold, an old glass hospital paper cup dispenser, and a metal View-Master […]

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Eastern Paint Turtle

This is our second summer in our house and living near water has meant spring and summers with a yard full of nesting Eastern Paint turtles. We've yet to ever see anything hatch and I'm not sure if that's because they are so small, move in the night, or are completely devoured by predators while still in the egg. With the number of empty eggs and holes on the back lawn, the latter is probably the most probable, but I'm sure at least a few make it.

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HitchBOT visits Carlisle

hitchBOT visits the Old North Bridge, Concord, MA. (Photo by Tracy McArdle Brady)

After two plus months of summertime fun, I got back to work. Here’s my latest feature (also found here). (Photo by Tracy McArdle Brady) HitchBOT visits Carlisle and humans learn a lesson by Karina Coombs This past July, Tracy McArdle Brady and her family took part in a social experiment that was followed by fans, robot enthusiasts, news outlets and […]

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Giving city kids a summer to remember

My newest feature article from the Carlisle Mosquito. The link is here, with full text below. Giving city kids a summer to remember by Karina Coombs Running barefoot through the grass. Gazing at stars. Falling asleep to the sound of crickets. When summer arrives, many children in Carlisle will experience these simple pleasures. But for some kids, these experiences are […]

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Small business with big plans

My latest feature on a local entrepreneur can be found here. Full text below. Small business with big plans by Karina Coombs Caitlin O’Connor knows a lot about brand management thanks to her time at Proctor & Gamble (P&G). Countless hours spent driving her four children to various activities has also taught her a lot about life in the car […]

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Counting to zero, one kilowatt at a time

My newest feature article. We’ve already started making the switch to LEDs in our house thanks to this: http://carlislemosquito.org/index.php/news/28683 Counting to zero, one kilowatt at a time by Karina Coombs Residential electric rates have doubled since 1990, with the biggest increases in just the past ten years. In November, citing the rising cost of natural gas (used in the power plants that produce the electricity), National Grid increased its rates by 37%. NStar followed suit earlier this month and raised its rates by 29%. While many are bracing for larger bills, Energy Task Force member Claude von Roesgen is having a decidedly different experience, thanks to his home’s photovoltaic system. Instead of paying for the electricity he uses, von Roesgen is being paid for the electricity he generates through 36 roof-top solar panels. But after decades of energy conservation awareness, the absence of an electric bill is not his end game. Instead, von Roesgen is focused on getting the building to net zero energy, helping to reduce his carbon emissions. What is net zero? A net zero energy building (NZEB) is an energy efficient building that also produces as much annual renewable energy on site as it uses. The building becomes self-sustainable, yet most NZEBs remain on the electrical grid for storage needs. With a vacation home that is already a NZEB, von Roesgen does have some experience in this area. Now he is working on scale. That is because his […]

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Walden Pond

A great thing about living next to Concord (Massachusetts) is nonchalantly getting to take out-of-town visitors – with literary inclinations – to some pretty great local attractions. On an unseasonably warm and sunny Monday, we made an outing to Walden Pond and hiked the trail around the pond to find the original site of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin. Not a bad […]

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Cranberry Harvest, 2014

This past weekend was the cranberry harvest at the Carlisle bog. A strange little berry, but it does make for a good photo. Growing up in Massachusetts I took this for granted as a kid and just wanted the harvest to be over. That meant winter was coming and the flooded and frozen bog would become our personal and free skating rink. Learning […]

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WordPress Wonkiness

Just a word that this blog may be moving from WordPress at some point in the very near future.  I’ve been encountering some weird issues with it for over a month now where some days I can access it and some days it’s broken.  And even though I may not post as regularly as I should, the thought of it not working (or, horror of horrors, the content disappearing!) as designed makes me crazy. I’ve finally managed to post, now let’s see if I can export the content! Anyone else having problems?

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Video Snacking

Valley of Dolls from Fritz Schumann on Vimeo. ~ A resident of a small Japanese village replaces residents who have moved or died with handmade dolls. How weird it would be to just stumble upon this without any context, arts and crafts zombies. Related articles Woman makes dolls to replace people in her village

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The Pact

She knew it was an unfair question the moment she opened her mouth. But it snuck out, accidentally or on purpose. “Promise me you’ll take care of your sister.” The urgency in her own voice was almost unrecognizable and she realized it was the first time she had admitted out loud that something was really wrong. Of course she and […]

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