Saturday, June 28, 2014

RIP Bobby Womack

I read last night that Bobby Womack died. I first heard of him via this cover of "Fly Me to the Moon."  I played it for my dad who just couldn't appreciate it.

In today's New York Times obituary, I learned that he wrote this song--which became the Rolling Stones' first international hit.

RIP Bobby and thanks to youtube for sharing his music.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Queen Elizabeth I Take Two: The Virgin Queen

Two weeks ago, I caught the end of The Virgin Queen; the 1955 film includes Bette Davis' second role as Elizabeth I. It is often shown on Fox Movie Channel, and the next time I saw it listed--I recorded it. I watched it again in bits and pieces, to catch Bette's performance.

Bette is, of course, wonderful. I loved the way she shaved her hair to look authentic, as well as her powerful walk and regal gestures. Richard Todd is good as Sir Walter Raleigh. Joan Collins is fine as Beth Throgmorton, but her character is nearly insufferable for the first half of the film. Why is Raleigh so intrigued by her?

It's sad that the film doesn't celebrate Elizabeth's triumphs. Instead her tale is one of a lonely women without a man. I guess it was typical 50's fare--a woman's place is in the home and all that.

I'd love to watch this film along with The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939.) In that film, Elizabeth  has to execute her love interest. In The Virgin Queen, Elizabeth watches him sail away with his pregnant wife.

It'd be great to see how Bette's approach differs in the two films. Many considered her too young in 1939 for the part.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Norwalk New Developments

In the past four days, I've attended three public meetings related to future projects in Norwalk.

The first involves work on an intersection on Route 1. This is a definite go and focused on traffic and pedestrian safety. I already try to avoid that area by taking back roads when appropriate, and it won't start for some time.

The second meeting involves a driving range on a public golf course. I got involved with this almost a year ago. Originally, there were competing plans: one was to place the driving range on woodlands. I was glad when that site was rejected. But the ongoing process has been very frustrating. The people overseeing the golf course don't want to listen to anyone else.

Tonight I went to a meeting about a proposed new mall. Most people I've talked to are against this project. I was too. I feel much better after hearing the company's presentation. The company is actively seeking public participation, which is a big plus.

I've been saying for a long time that I want to get more involved in the community. But damn, it can be tiring.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Return to Lake Mohegan

We went to Lake Mohegan for a hike, our first visit of the season. We did our normal loop around the lake, stopping at the dog beach and later on another beach area where Jeff threw the ball into the water for Spike.

We've had great weather for the past two weekends, and it was a pleasure to be outside again today. Spike stumbled as he climbed the stairs to a bridge. I was concerned that we were taxing him too much. I suggested we stop at a bench on the bridge. But Spike was ready to move on. He went the rest of the way back to the car with a spring in his step, surprising us with his energy.

Spike slept on the ride back home, but was raring to go and play ball when we got back.

Cocktails and Clams

Last night Jeff and I went to a fundraiser for Earthplace. It was $50 per person, a little pricey for us. I wanted to go because it was held at Norm Bloom & Sons. The docents had visited Norm a few weeks ago and he taught us a lot about the oystering business.

Overall, I was disappointed in the fundraiser. Let's get the negative out of the way. The event was called Cocktails and Clams, "the marquee social event on the water." Okay, I figured that the marquee language was puffery. And I realize that its purpose was to raise money, not to put on a good meal. But when an event is called cocktails and clams and advertises an open bar, I expect cocktails. Instead we got wine, beer and punch (first described as rum-based and later vodka-based.)

The food was okay: burgers, sandwiches, pasta salad and sundaes. But the prep and serving was haphazard. You had to be in the right place at the right time to score a sandwich. I also think they should have provided a green salad. We didn't find the silent auction items appealing; they easily could have selected items to appeal to a broader base.

On to the good. The best things were the freshly shucked oysters and clams on the half shell. The weather was perfect--sunny without being too hot. The setting was lovely.

We had taken a cab over, and walked back home with a stop at the Sono Beer Garden. It was a fun night, despite our disappointment.

A Hike at Oak Hills Park

Yesterday we returned to Oak Hills, a long time after our first hike. About a month ago, local Eagle Scout cleaned up and blazed the trail as part of his community project. It's much nicer than it was on our last visit.

Here, I trailed behind the guys.

Here's a happy puppy enjoying his hike.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Spring Images

It was a long winter, and I was happy to spot daffodils in mid April. 

But two days later...
Here are some early May lilacs on our property.
More May flowers.
Here are some buttercups from Taylor Farm dog park.
I remember we would hold one under a friend's chin.
If you saw yellow, it meant you liked butter.
Early season honeysuckles--a harbinger of the summer to come

I loved this stick at dog park; it looks like a snake or sea serpent in a sea of grass.

While walking  with Jeff, Spike and Jake in Ridgefield, I saw this.
I remember this song from grade school:
White coral bells
Upon a slender stalk
Lilies of the valley
Down my garden walk
Oh, don’t you wish
That you could
hear them ring.
That will happen only
when the fairies sing.
I remember a few of the lyrics differently.
 I thought the lilies deck my garden walk; down is better.
The other difference: in my song the angels sing not the fairies.

This is a fast food place on Route 7 in Wilton. When we first went there, it was called  Dexter's. It's had a few other names since then, and is now the Dog Daze CafĂ©. During my docent training, I learned that this was the farm stand painted by Alexander Rummler in a mural now in City Hall.

Bette Davis: Two Early Films

I recently caught two Bette Davis films that I had never seen before.

First up is 1932's Hell's House, courtesy of Netflix. Jimmy (Junior Durkin) is an orphaned farm boy who arrives in the big city. He gets a job answering phones in a bootlegger's office, is arrested and sent to reform school when he refuses to name the bootlegger (Pat O'Brien.) Bette doesn't have much to do as O'Brien's girlfriend, but it's always a treat to see her.

This movie was a Capital Films Exchange Release. I mention that because the subject matter is a Warner Brothers standard. In fact, in 1933 Warners released a much better reform school film The Mayor of Hell starring James Cagney, and a 1938 remake Crime School starring Humphrey Bogart and The Dead End Kids.

Jimmy the Gent (1934) was the first of only two pairings of Bette and James Cagney. Bette and James are in love but working for rival businesses that search for heirs to large fortunes. It's a fast paced film with a bit of fun, but far from a masterpiece. At least, Bette has much more to do here than in Hell's House, but it's not much of a stretch for her.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Muddled Musings

I've been relatively busy the past few weeks with tutoring.This has been a nice surprise--usually my slow time starts at the beginning of June. I had my last tutoring session yesterday for a while, so I got another week or two of more work than expected.

I use the word "relatively" deliberately. I work part-time--many fewer hours than the 40-hour standard. Sometimes I get frustrated; I wonder why I don't have time to accomplish more. Jeff kindly reminds me of transportation, preparation and follow-up that I do for each tutoring and teaching session. It makes me feel a little better, but I always feel that I'm not doing enough, falling behind.

In addition to work, I've been busy with my docent training. We had an introductory meeting, then five official training sessions followed by a field trip. We saw a few of the murals outside of City Hall, such as two in the Maritime Aquarium and five in the Norwalk Transit District. We also visited two active oystering businesses remaining in Norwalk: Norm Bloom and Hilliard Bloom. I shadowed a Stroll & Sip tour and co-led another. While most of this place in May, additional prep, planning and follow up work has extended into June. I'm hopeful that the work will grow in July.

Sometime last week or even earlier, I contacted poison ivy. I don't remember the last time I had poison ivy--it has to have been thirty years or more. At first I thought it was hives because this has been such a bad allergy season. I went to the dermatologist on Monday; the medication has helped a lot.

I start teaching two classes in July; I  have about three off weeks before then. It's not like a vacation. I have many projects that I need to accomplish from housework to marketing to subject tutoring prep (history) I can't let this time go to waste.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

South African Wine Tasting and BBQ

Saturday afternoon (the 7th) we went to a fundraiser for Shakespeare on the Sound featuring a wine tasting and a South African Braai barbecue. From BBQ to BRAII!.

We couldn't have asked for a better event. The weather was sunny and beautiful. The wine tasting was set up in a tent with a perimeter of 15 tables. One to check in attendees, one selling trips to Africa, one selling perfumes and lotions, one soliciting additional donations for Shakespeare on the Sound. Ten tables offered wine for tasting and purchasing. I estimate somewhere between 80 and 100 wines available for tasting, about 40 to 50 available for purchase. A long buffet table offered food that had been grilled right outside the tent.

We knew we'd have to pace ourselves. We started one loop doing only whites and roses. We stopped after Table 5 to eat some food: shish kebab, grilled vegetables, shrimp and avocado, mini sausage sandwiches. We finished our white loop, then went back to table one to try reds, concentrating on pinotage. After Table 5, we took a second food break.

We had discovered pinotage  sometime in the 1990's at a restaurant in Port Chester, New York Grill FX. I remember tasting our first taste of Faithful Hound here. I still miss that place.

We've been to several wine tastings and never quite know what to expect. The  event was a wonderful mix of food and drink and socializing. The best part, it was only $20 a person. I hope it earned a lot of money for Shakespeare on the Sound.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Thoughts of May

I figure I better write this post before it gets too deep into June and summer.

May has always been one of my favorite months. Part of May's charm is that my birthday is in May (more on that later.) Then there's Memorial Day Weekend--the unofficial beginning of summer. With a tiered holiday system, it may be the first official holiday of the year since New Year's Day.

(Note: in my later days working at Pitney Bowes Credit, the office was open on days such as MLK Day and President's Day. If you worked those days, you got credit for a vacation day. I loved that system. MLK and President's Days were usually light work days because many people were off or thought you were off, and you got to extend your vacation time.)

Back to my birthday: it's always been a reason to celebrate. We had wanted to go to an sidewalk festival and then eat at a dog friendly place with Spike. Rain derailed those plans, but we still had a nice time. We had drinks and appetizers at Bar Sugo. We intended to leave after one drink, but it started pouring. Luckily the appetizers were delicious. Then we headed to the Norwalk Historical Society for an artist reception. Then back to Bar Sugo for dinner. Delicious.

This is my 59th birthday. 59 sounds old to me; I'm working on getting used to 60. I tried to find an appropriate quote from AbFab clips, but no such luck. I was thinking of Marshall saying that Bo hadn't started forties therapy. I need sixties therapy myself.