Theatre… Ipswich’s future?

26 01 2011

There’s no escaping.

If you’re in Ipswich, “historical” is unavoidable. And hey, that’s one of the attributes I love about this place. I live in an antique home, and I still thrill to the thought that all this old stuff around town is REAL, not reproduction, not simulation.

And in one of our historical buildings, an exciting future is cooking. The old Town Hall building is waking from a long nap. The Ipswich Playhouse Society signed papers in December to purchase the building. All it needs now is a “little renovation.”

The plans for the theatre

The plans include a jazz bar, a coffee house, and shops. But the real big deal is the theatre. 300 seats. Compact stage. An intimate setting for smaller shows.

There is nothing like live theatre. It is an ancient art, surely dating back to the first guy who retold the story of his mammoth hunting expedition… with embellishments. And there is nothing more modern.

Every entertainment innovation was supposed to mean “the death of live theatre,” and yet is persists. Because being in the same space with a performer, witnessing his work as it happens, is not the same as watching a recording of it. The perspective is different, the sense of anticipation is heightened. There is no “take 2” in the theatre. There is no post-production to clean up timing or errors. It is honest performance – what you experience is actually happening before you.

Can you tell that I love theatre? I found my soulmate in a theatre. I found myself there, as well. Working in theatre is rich experience, an all-enveloping one. Anything is possible, even (often) the impossible. And yes, the show must go on, against all odds.

So the possibility of live theatre in Ipswich sets my heart racing. Just think of the possibilities…


Back at it…

25 01 2011

My last post was, what?, two weeks ago? I was so excited about posting every day at the beginning. But somehow the enthusiasm burned out. Why is that? We all DO want to eat better, exercise more, and spend more time with our families. There are as many articles written on why we break New Years resolutions as there are on making them, so I’m not going to try and out psych the psychologists…

Just getting back on the “horse”…

Is there anything more boring than talking about the weather? I know a songwriter who wrote a whole song about NOT talking about the weather. But, um… it’s been pretty dominant here in the ‘Swich these last two weeks. However you feel about the white stuff, we’ve had plenty of it!

The best part of any difficulty (digging nearly 2 feet of snow off your drive qualifies as a difficulty) is how it brings the best out in people.

After the blizzard I looked out across the vast expanse of our driveway, sighed and started digging. My wonderful husband was out of town, so it was up to me, with the help of the 9-year-old and the almost-grown offspring, to clear it. We do own a snowblower, but it is… shall we say… small? Electric.

Cute, huh?

Nothing like the monsters that look like such overkill most of the time. So we had to shovel off the top 8-12 inches before the machine could be employed.

All this to say, it was a long process. Our driveway has two entrances, and we were happy to get one cleared by the time the sun set. It was satisfying work, but there is physical limit…

Inside, after changing into dry clothes, I sat by the fire and listened to the neighborhood monster machines carving into the snowbanks. I was just glad our job was done.

Then my son came in and said, “um… Mom…”


“Someone… did the other side.”

Sure enough, peering out the side window, I could see our entire driveway, neatly carved out.

I still don’t know who did it, although I have my suspects.

I love this town.

Anybody else have any good-neighbor stories?

Oh, noooooooo!

10 01 2011

I have been informed that Ipswich… is not perfect.

I received a very sweet message from a friend, first outlining a bunch of GOOD stuff about this town: Ipswich Clambake, the waterways, Family Dollar Store… and people. And then my friend makes a very good point. We don’t have everything.

And she’s right.

We don’t.

There’s not much in the way of nightlife (at least if your definition of “night” extends much past 7 pm), there’s no movie theatre. Our only bookstore is the Book Nook in River’s Edge.

There’s also no Wal-Mart. No Denny’s. No Gap. And most important of all… no Starbucks.

You know what? I’m okay with that.

The lack of a Starbucks just might have been the reason I wanted to move to Ipswich. No, really. I love it that Zumi’s, Ipswich’s coffee shop, is run by an Ipswich family, and displays artwork by Ipswich artists. It’s our coffee shop, not a corporate idea of what an Ipswich coffee shop should look like.

Living out here in small-town America we do live without some things. That’s the reason many of us came here. Sure I have to trek on into Danvers and Peabody on occasion for ballet slippers, or  some other item that isn’t available in town. (And there’s nothing like a foray into a crowded Target to make me appreciate my quiet, deprived little home town.)

No, Ipswich isn’t perfect. Niether am I. I love her anyway.

P.S. What my friend needs most is a really good yoga class… anybody know of one? I don’t know a Yogi from a Beara, so I’m no help…

Imperfection has its charm… although I must admit this window has since been painted.

It happens…

8 01 2011

It happens a lot in Ipswich. And yet people get all excited and upset every time. There’s anticipation, fear, preparation.

I’m talking about snow here.

Snow is lightly falling, just like in the song. As far as I can find out, we’re looking at a couple of inches total. Looking out my window on Market Street, the roads are wet, and a little slushy, but utterly unobstructed.

So why was there such a mob scene at Market Basket? People buying up milk and toilet paper as if they’d never see them again. Are there New England snow traditions involving milk and/or toilet paper that I don’t know about? Can anybody explain?! Even under the worst conditions, you’re going to be able to get to the store in a couple of days… are you really going to have a toilet paper crisis in that time? I must be missing something…

In the mean time, my world is a study in gray and white.

Time to head home over the slushy roads… I wonder if I should stop and pick up some toilet paper?


Where to eat?

7 01 2011

It’s Friday and I’m thinking about what I’m going to put on the table for dinner. Or maybe we’ll go out. But where?

Ipswich is small town… how many places can there possibly be to eat? I have it on good authority that there are 17! There are some 13,000 people living in town… well, we can’t ALL get a table tonight, but there is certainly a wide range of choices.

We have two Zagat rated fine dining establishments (Zablione and Ithaki), a landmark clam shack, more lightly prepared seafood, delis, Thai, Italian, Greek, prepared food to take home, pizza delivery (3 that I can think of off the top of my head), established old favorites and brand spanking new ones.

I must admit to being partial to 5 Corners Deli for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is it’s right across the street from my own place of business. Julie makes it a point to know her customers, greeting them by name and keeping track of our lives AND our favorite sandwiches. The food’s always great, the seating area is bright and comfortable. Their address can’t be beat… Zero Central Street. Almost sounds like one of those magical places that might not really exist, but it does! Only problem is that 5 Corners isn’t open for dinner so…

We’ve had pizza from Ipswich House of Pizza, and my husband swears that they make the best burger around. Rossini’s serves up the yummiest dinner rolls with their Italian dishes.

Christopher’s Table is a gourmet dream, with fab sandwiches and soups for lunch and prepared food to take home for dinner. Fool your family or (more fun) your guests into thinking you can really cook like that. I confess, I am eating a cinnamon roll from Chris’s as I compose this…

There are antique houses to eat in: 1640 Hart House for a classy environment and fancy food, and right across the border in Rowley you’ve got Village Pancake, cozy and delicious.

I’ve got friends that swear by Mayflower’s Asian cuisine, and out-of-towners (all the way from Amesbury! Ha!) that make it a point to stop in at Choate Bridge Pub for lunch.

There are a ton of places I haven’t mentioned, and many in town that I’ve never tried. Don’t know where we’ll end up tonight.

What’s your favorite place to nosh? Favorite dish? Got any pics?

Music and musicians in the ‘Swich

5 01 2011

This town is full of musicians. Pro, semi-pro, piano plunkers and garage band guitarists.

Unfortunately they don’t have too many venues to showcase their talents… there is one spot, though where you can count on live music every weekend.

Stone Soup offers live jazz starting at 7pm. There’s no cover, and from what I hear from very reliable sources, the music’s pretty hot! Tomorrow night (Thursday, Jan 6) Orville Giddings will anchor an Open Mic Jam Session, Friday night the Paul Broadnax Trio will play. Check it out!

Here are a couple of major musicians who live right here in town:

Chris Florio: Chris is an amazing musician in a variety of genres (classical, jazz, world) and he just finished mixing a new CD. You gotta hear this stuff. Hard to label, like all the best music! Check out the new stuff here and then click around the other pages to hear his various incarnations. And the man can’t resist a chance to jam… stop in at Stone Soup tomorrow night and you might get a chance to hear him, if you’re lucky!

Eric Colville: If you’ve never heard or seen the video, Eric Colville’s “End of War” is must see. (Click here to see it.) Now let’s see if we can get Eric and Alexandra out gigging again!

Ipswich Music: If your New Years resolution was to pick up a new instrument, or to brush up your guitar skills, you have to call Steve at Ipswich Music. He taught guitar to my daughter last winter into spring. He’s great with kids, makes music lessons fun. He’s also incredibly talented.

Do you know about more musicians or musical events/venues that should be mentioned here? Leave a comment!

Just one more…

… from yesterday’s shoot

Winter Sun

4 01 2011

Driving past Marini Farm everyday, I’ve watched these sunflowers sprout, flower and wither. At each stage they have their unique beauty.

Sepia Sunflower

Marini Farm

Click on the photo for a link to Marini Farm’s website. They’re closed for the winter now, but you can still sign up for their new CSA.

If you look for Marini Farm on Facebook, you can follow the planting come spring…

Bride and Groom

These two took on a completely different attitude!