Saturday, August 30, 2014

Summer Saturday at Lake Mohegan

Today was the best day of Labor Day Weekend, so we went to Lake Mohegan for a hike. The hike was a little unsettling. Spike walked at a much slower pace than usual. That was fine, but then he made what I consider some reckless moves walking down on rocks to get closer to the water. Those moves made me nervous.

Things have changed very suddenly with Spike. When I was away for two days earlier this month, he could no longer jump on the couch or the bed. We've discussed getting him a set of stairs  before, but he would recover and we didn't have to follow through.

Today, we didn't let him swim at the first dog beach area; there were many dogs there and Jeff thought it would be better for Spike to swim without the distraction of other dogs. (Plus the larger dogs get to Spike's balls before he does.)

When we did get to a good spot for Spike to swim, he seemed to perk up. Other people in the area were quite impressed with Spike's activity when they learned he's almost 14 years old.

Their comments made me happy. I tend to focus on how Spike is slowing down, but he's actually doing quite well for his age--according to a pamphlet from our vet, he will be the equivalent of 78 years old.

Spike is awesome.


D.P.F. is Jeff's abbreviation for Dog Park Fridays. I don't remember exactly when it started, but it's now a spring to fall tradition. Last night we had eight people and seven dogs for wine and appetizers. (Just to be clear--no wine and dog biscuits only for the dogs.)

We've had a beautiful summer--only four or five days with temperatures in the 90's. Friday evenings have usually been quite nice.

I don't like to think about the end of dog park season. Last year we met until the first weekend in November, just before daylight savings ended. I hope this season will be similar.

Maybe we can enjoy more beautiful skies like last night:

Simpsons Marathon Continues

Today is the tenth day of the marathon. I can't pinpoint when the Simpsons went downhill; I've never figured out my favorite season.

Yesterday I caught one of my favorite episodes: Season 18's 24 Minutes, a parody of 24 and Springfield's Counter Truancy Unit.  Lisa and her team save the school bake sale from a stink bomb.

I also set the DVR to record The Book Job from Season 23. I had saved that on our old DVR.

Other favorite episodes:

Moaning Lisa and Life on the Fast Lane from Season 1

Season 3's Homer at the Bat and Black Widower

A Streetcar Named Marge, I Love Lisa and Last Exit to Springfield from Season 4

Cape Feare from Season 5

Sideshow Bob Roberts and Homer Badman from Season 6

Radioactive Man, A Fish Called Selma, Bart on the Road and Summer of 4 Ft. 2 from Season 7

A Millhouse Divided and Brother from Another Series from Season 8

Season 11's Take My Wife Sleaze with the romantic line,  "My wife is not a doobie, to be passed around from person to person! I made a sacred vow, on my wedding day, to bogart her for the rest of my life." (Thanks IMDB.)

Trilogy of Error, New Kids on the Blecch and Skinners Sense of Snow (I especially love the title of the latter) from Season 12

She of Little Faith from Season 13

Season 18's 24 Minutes

The Book Job from Season 23

I made this list looking at the FXX marathon schedule as well as The Simpsons wiki.  I may have missed a few and may change my mind depending on my mood. I didn't list any Treehouse of Horror episodes even though I could list some individual segments as favorites. "When are they going to get to the fireworks factory?" is one of our favorite quotes; it's from The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show from Season 8.  I love many of the Itchy and Scratchy cartoons and all appearances of Troy McClure.

I guess things went downhill from Season 12--that's the last season I had more than one favorite. Trilogy of Error is my all-time favorite episode. I've listed 23 here. Maybe someday I'll select my top 10.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Checks in the Mail

In this day of direct deposits, it's rare to get a check in the mail. This past week I got two.

The first was for the cash value of points on a credit card that has been discontinued. The amount was about $28. It's not much, but it made my day.

About a week later, I got a letter from our mortgage holder. We had overpaid our escrow account for property taxes. Not only did our monthly mortgage payment decrease by about $80, but we got a refund check for almost $600. 

The timing is especially good because I have a week without work. Yea for unexpected checks!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Every Simpsons Episode Ever

Channel FXX is now showing a marathon of every Simpsons episode, 25 seasons of 552 episodes over 12 days. It started at 10 AM on Thursday.

There was no way I could or would want to watch all the episodes. But it's fun to catch some when I'm at home. I especially enjoyed seeing "A Streetcar Named Marge" from Season Four. Only the Simpsons would imagine a musical of A Streetcar Named Desire.

I'll keep tuning in to see what's next.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Full disclosure: I'm a complainer. I can easily get frustrated or stressed by little things. I find it helps me to complain about them, especially if I can make them into a funny story.

Lately every time I run into one of my neighbors, she's complaining about something: the Mets, the landscaping of our condo, the weather. I can't argue with the first, the second is debatable, but the third--I'm loving the cool weather this August.

It's gotten to the point that I don't want to see her--specifically I don't want to hear what she's going to complain about next. It reminds me of a former co-worker who always saw the worst in every situation. At one point she admitted that she just didn't like people.

Now I'm wondering: is my complaining is having the same effect on others? If so, the burden is on Jeff.

I've found it helpful to complain in my journal. That has the added benefit of me realizing how petty most of my complaints are. I'll try to keep my complaints there.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sono Arts Celebration

It used to be a festival, now it's a celebration. When did that happen?

Whatever, Sono Arts has been one of my favorite things in Norwalk. (But watch out for Norwalk Art Festival.)

Sono Arts is free and includes music, paintings, sculpture, crafts and jewelry. The festival has gotten smaller over the years. Now it's about two blocks of art, a block of food trucks, a few performance stages and a street for kids to draw on with chalk.

Local bars and restaurants add to the celebration. It usually takes place the first weekend in August. This year, it was held last weekend with perfect weather.

Jeff, Spike and I had lunch at Match. We haven't been there in years. We're more likely to go out for lunch, and Match normally isn't open for lunch. It was delicious.

It was a great afternoon. We even found a birthday gift for Jeff's sister. Alas nothing suitable for my mother.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Posting or Not

I wrote my last post at a writing retreat of sorts. Unfortunately, the promised Internet connection did not materialize and I couldn't post what I had written.

In the days leading to my writing getaway, I thought a lot about what I wanted to work on.  I had hoped that August would be a more productive month for me. It wasn't. I've only written two blog posts and a few hundred words of a novel. I don't know where the novel is headed.

August has been tough in other ways as well. The month is half over and I've only gone to the gym twice. My work load has lightened, but it's been intense in some ways.

Even though I didn't do much writing, the getaway was valuable for me. I spent some time with my friend Darlene; plus it was nice to just go away somewhere for a few days.

That "retreat" deserves a post of its own. Maybe a short story with just a few exaggerations.

At least I can say I've got some inspiration.

A Writer is...

…someone who writes.

That was a tagline of a writing workshop brochure I saw once. I even cut out the slogan and pasted it onto an Artist Trading Card.

My mother joked about it—it seemed so obvious to her. But she doesn’t have to deal with the question of whether she’s a “real” writer.

It took me a long time before I felt comfortable calling myself a writer. I remember how happy I was when my friend Annette said she always described me as a writer regardless of what kind of job I held or how I made my money.

Then there’s the question of whether you are a real writer.

Can you be a real writer if you just scribble in a notebook?  

Can you be a real writer if you’ve never published?

Can you be a real writer if you haven’t been paid for your writing?

Can you be a real writer if you don’t write every day?

 Are real writers some kind of special breed in some unique habitat?

This reminds me of Julia Cameron’s exercise from The Artist Way: fill in the blank:

1.    Artists are_____________________________.

2.    Artists are _____________________________.

3.    Artists are _____________________________.

4.    Artists are _____________________________.

5.    Artists are _____________________________.

6.    Artists are ______________________________.

7.    Artists are ______________________________.

8.    Artists are ______________________________.

9.    Artists are ______________________________.

10.  Artists are ______________________________.

A variation is to repeat the exercise with ten prompts:

Real artists are ______________________________
Her point is that we create a mystique around artists and writers. Either we set them up as antisocial failures: the starving artists, clad in all black living in cold attic garrets in Paris. Alternatively, we imagine people whose ideas emerge fully formed; geniuses who effortlessly create works of great beauty.

Ultimately I am a writer because I feel like a writer. It’s something I both love and hate to do. I may lag; I may get confused; I may falter. But I will always return. I will write.  

Friday, August 1, 2014

A New Start?

I have just spent several minutes trying to correct the paragraph spacing in yesterday's post. Frustrating. I don't want to have to do this on an ongoing basis.

Onto positive news, I went to the gym today. It's been almost a month since my last visit. I have a sore left shoulder--it's been bothering me for about a week--so I did legs, abs and cardio. It always amazes me how easily I can get off track with working out. I should expect it by now.

Let's try it all again: writing daily, working out, the good things.