Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Taking It Easy

I'm still recovering from the cold that blasted me on Christmas Eve. Yesterday I worked on my ACT manual--it was something that I could do while relaxing and drinking tea.

I discovered a Game of Thrones marathon on TV. Apparently HBO is marathoning a season each day. It reminded me of  last year: watching Game of Thrones helped me deal with losing Spike--I guess by distracting me from my pain. I wonder if Games of Thrones marathons will always remind me of Spike.

Today I forced myself to do some household work: I finished unpacking my suitcase (on Christmas Day when we returned home I only threw my dirty clothes on top of the already full hamper) and did seven loads of laundry. It was tiring--I had to take a few breaks. I also managed a few pages in the manual.

Tomorrow I have to take my mother to the eye doctor. I guess I should be in bed already, but Cold Care PM Tea should help me sleep.
 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Bah Humbug

The consensus is that a three day Christmas is too much. We were able to mesh together all the missing pieces--i.e. the people and their various commitments and schedules. But it was exhausting.

It didn't help that Friday's sniffles warped into a full-blown cold yesterday. I still had a family lunch, dinner and brunch to attend. I tried to enjoy myself, but I couldn't wait to get back home. We returned around 3 PM today.

I've parked myself on the couch in sweatpants and a tee shirt with a pillow and blanket, gypsy cold care tea and a new supply of tissues. I hope I feel better tomorrow.

Friday, December 23, 2016

More Music Memories

At Taylor Farm the other day, Lola bounded up a trail of mud, leaves, snow and ice. I kept telling her to slow down.

That reminded me of this song. Then I remembered a business trip to Portland. Oregon. Jeff and I went early to explore the city. Our friend, Patti, was living there then. One night we met her at a club. As the band played Slow Down, Patti and I started singing the song through. I don't know about Patti, but I hadn't heard the song in years. I love when I can just bring up lyrics, seemingly out of the blue. (Wish I could monetize this skill.)

Further back in my memory: I was a high school freshman, rushing from my last class to my locker. My friend Karen told me to slow down. We looked at each other and started singing.

I'm lucky that I had friends who wanted to sing with me and knew the lyrics.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

One Year, But Also Eight Months

Spike died a year ago today. He had a pretty good life; he was well loved. His death was peaceful and calm. We were devastated by the loss and still miss Spike. He was awesome.

But today is also a good anniversary. It's been eight months since Lola joined us. Lola is loving and playful. Unfortunately, she's still fearful and timid, but she's becoming more comfortable with neighbors, family and friends.

I ran into an old friend at the dog park the other day. She had also lost the dog she had when we first met and rescued a dog. She heard that it may take two years for a rescue dog to fully adjust to a new home.

We'll be waiting.

Bad Attitude

Sometime between 1 and 6 this morning as I was trying to get back to sleep, I started thinking about how much easier it would be if we were going up to Jeff's sister's on Christmas Eve rather than Friday night. Friday would be a free day--a great time to wait for those last minute packages to arrive, cook, finish wrapping presents.

But this is a bad attitude. Christmas is a family thing--this is the date that worked for everyone--we did agree to it. But now that it's almost here, I want more time.

I admit I have it easy--I just have to make a few dishes (pumpkin apple soup, cheese scalloped potatoes and carrot salad)--and show up.

I'll do my best. I've finished my shopping. I'll get up early tomorrow to get the soup going. I'll do a quick workout then hand out some gifts. I have to take Lola to the park. Then cleaning and wrapping. Before getting our hair done. I can do this.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Four Days To Christmas Celebrations

Officially, it's six days until Christmas. But we have family dinners on the 23rd and 24th, a family lunch on the 24th and a family brunch on the 25th. So we really have four days to prepare. I still have shopping to do (for presents as well as food.) I've realized that I will have to make purchases for two people that I had previously designated as Jeff's responsibilities. So much for that. He won't have time to shop. If only we can figure out what to get.

I'm making a pumpkin-apple-carrot soup, cheesy scalloped potatoes and a carrot-dried fruit salad. I think I'll do the soup on Thursday and the rest on Friday morning. I tried to buy all that I need last Friday, but I forgot a few things.

I didn't feel like shopping today, but I did wrap several presents. I also worked on my ACT Coursebook though I doubt that was the best use of my time. I had already prepped through my lesson on Wednesday. It's another two weeks before the next class. But I was in the mood to work on the book so there's that.

The next two days will determine how crazy Thursday and Friday will be.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Snow Day

Today is the first real snow of the season for us; I don't count snow flurries. It started snowing sometime last night and continued into this morning. We ended up with a few inches of snow, which turned to rain sometime this afternoon. Jeff and I didn't have to go anywhere. I had gone food shopping the day before, so we were pretty well-stocked, except for no beer.

I spent most of the day doing light cleaning and Christmas decorating. Jeff cooked a pork loin with carrots, potatoes, garlic, onion and apples in the slow cooker.

By the time I have to leave tomorrow, most snow will be gone. Temperatures will rise to the fifties--a bit of luck for me and my schedule.

The term "snow days" reminds me of school. Schools are more lenient in calling snow days than businesses. And you didn't have to worry about being docked pay in school.

I'm not sure what to expect of this winter; there have been contradictory forecasts. I'm hoping for decorative snow and no ice.

What I've Been Reading

The Sunday New York Times is the only newspaper I consistently read. I enjoyed two articles in The Magazine last weekend.

The first is on anxiety dreams, or what I call frustration dreaming. I've had a variety of them. I'm not fearful in these dreams--just annoyed and (of course) frustrated. I'll have to wait until my next frustration dream to see if I feel like a champion the next day as the article's author suggested.

The second article discusses the importance of frequent activity to offset prolonged sitting.The gist of it is that occasional workouts aren't enough. Being more active generally--walking and moving around often--seems to be most helpful.

When I track my exercise, I only count sessions when I exercise for at least 30 minutes. I only count hikes of an hour or longer. I don't include my visits to dog park with Lola, which take place most days. Ironically, these may be the most beneficial for me.

 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I Needed This Today

I read this around 8:30 this morning.

I was feeling kind of overwhelmed and discouraged about several things.

The good news: I don't use my phone or laptop (don't have a tablet) in bed. I could use the other suggestions. Today "Appreciate the here and now" was most helpful to me.

I was also reminded of this article. 

These suggestions help keep things in perspective. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

TCM Noir Night--Elevator to the Gallows

Saturday night I watched Elevator to the Gallows--a film I recorded last year as part of TCM's Summer of Darkness film noir course.

Elevator to the Gallows has subtitles. I'm not anti-subtitles per se, but it means that I have to pay close attention.

Overall, I liked the film. I was originally going to describe it as a "What could go wrong?" plot. But the meticulously planned murder hinges on a rope climb outside an office building on a busy street in Paris in broad daylight. It's such a foolish move--it takes me out of the movie.Then the murderer leaves the rope hanging from the window after he makes his "getaway." His attempt to retrieve the rope leads to him being trapped in the elevator in the title.

A series of seemingly random acts follow that complicate and jeopardize the original plan.This is the part of the movie that I liked--the things that could go wrong.

I had a few other issues. Why did the accomplice wander the streets of Paris asking if anyone had seen the murderer? Isn't that suspicious?

There's a final twist that will take too long to describe in detail--there are enough spoilers in the post as it is. At the end of the film, the policeman tells the accomplice--a woman--that she will serve more time than the man who actually pulled the trigger. At this point, there's only circumstantial evidence against the woman. I'm no expert on French law, but that just didn't seem right--and more than a little sexist.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Week Working Out

It wasn't a good week for working out. I went to the gym twice and exercised twice at home. Actually that's pretty good for a not good week, especially when I didn't feel well one day and had other priorities another. I had to negotiate with myself to get to the gym today. I finally decided to do two sets of legs, two of chest, one of shoulders and four of abs, and skip cardio.

Today marks my 98th visit to the gym in 2016. That beats the year-end total of 97 for 2015. Barring some catastrophe, I'll make it to three figures this year. Maybe that's no great accomplishment: I should be at 150-200.

But a little improvement is something to build on.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Lola and Me

Jeff's away for the weekend. I was thinking that it was his first time away from Lola since she joined us on April 22. But no, I remembered that Lola spent six nights away from us in August. But this is Lola's and my first time alone together.

Unfortunately, Lola's been sick the last few days with digestive ailments. We took her to the vet yesterday who advised that she shouldn't go to the dog park for a few days.So I can't expect a wild weekend. Lola's also limited to a chicken and rice diet--and she ate the last of the homemade chicken broth for dinner.

The truth is that I want a quiet, productive weekend. I want to work on my ACT book (though I'm disappointed that I didn't get to it today.) I want to buy some gifts online, organize the gifts I've already purchased--maybe even wrap some.

Right now, Lola and I are snuggling and that works for me.

Mid-Week Get Together

Tuesday was my friend Elaine's birthday. It hasn't been a good year for Elaine. I thought it would be a good idea to go out with her and some friends. I had the idea over Thanksgiving weekend. Unfortunately, it fell off my radar. I only remembered the night before to contact people.

Six of us (including Jeff and me) joined Elaine for drinks and appetizers. We went out early to take advantage of happy hour. When Jeff and I returned home around 8:30, it felt as if it were 10 or 11 PM. Funny how early winter darkness messes with time perception.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Happy Repeal Day

I got an email from a local liquor store to celebrate repeal day, the end of prohibition. I didn't run out to the liquor store, but I did decide it was a good excuse to make a classic cocktail before dinner: a perfect Manhattan.

Cheers!

A Sunday in a Life

I was supposed to work in the morning, but my student canceled. Jeff went to visit his parents, and I decided to stay home. I had many things I wanted to do.

I got up around 7:30 thinking Lola wanted to go out. Instead she went back to bed with Jeff. I made coffee and wrote in my journal. Later  I made chicken orzo soup. I used some of my homemade chicken and vegetable broths. I sauteed some garlic, onion, peppers and carrots and put everything in the crockpot before I took Lola to the dog park. 

We got to the park around 11. Temperatures were only in the low 40's, but it was much nicer than I expected. Sun and wearing layers helped. I had hoped to run into two friends, but no luck there. We stayed at Taylor Farm for an hour.

I had lunch, added chicken and orzo to the crock pot, did some cleaning and exercised. I had gone to the gym four times last week; yesterday was a good time for yoga and stretching.

Jeff and I had a cup of chicken orzo soup as an appetizer. For dinner, I cooked duck breast, a sauce of blackberries, fruit juice and Grand Marnier, risotto (my latest obsession) with shallots, garlic, pepper and mushrooms. I added a salad of romaine, tomato, carrot and pepper.

After dinner, we watched The Big Lebowski and a few TV shows. I found myself dozing off again, went to bed at 11.


Friday, December 2, 2016

Thoughts on Christmas Shopping

I used to aspire to get all my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving. I hate the stress that comes with last minute shopping. Of course, that was before online shopping. I used to go to three or four area malls. There were more differences among the malls than there are now. I'd also try some smaller stores. One year I lucked out and got several unique items from a store in my home town.

We've been inundated with catalogs over the last few weeks. I've gone through most of them and saved pages of interest. Jeff has already made several online purchases.

So far, my purchases have been made in person: a few miscellaneous finds in brick and mortar stores and at craft fairs. 

This year's gifts will be a combination resulting from online research and lucky finds.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thoughts on NaBloPoMo

In five of seven Novembers I've been blogging, I've managed to post at least 30 blog entries. I'm too lazy to go back and check if I posted every day in those months. But I did check this morning and saw that I did post at least once every day this month. I wrote 36 posts in November--my second best posting month ever. Whoo-hoo.

For the most part the posting was easy. Once I committed to it, I found something to write about. I didn't sabotage myself by saying it had to be meaningful or that it had to be a certain length. But there were a few days when it was tougher to write something.

It should be easy for me to blog at least five times a week. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Oyster Shell Park, Lola and Me

I took Lola to Oyster Shell Park this morning; the rain wasn't due until midday. I choose Oyster Shell to give her some variety (we'd been to Taylor Farm the two previous days) and because it has paved trails--I figured it would be less muddy. It rained most of yesterday too. Oyster Shell is also closer than Taylor Farm, and I had many things on today's to-do list.

There's a playground at the base of the park. For a long time, I thought the playground was the whole park, until I visited the Nice Festival this summer with Jeff and Lola.

As I had noticed with Spike, apparently the rain brings a variety of scents. Lola was intrigued. She loves the outdoors and it makes me happy to see her so happy.

I do a lot of thinking on our walks. I may plan my day, I may write lines of a blog post or a poem. I really look at and listen to things.

Our walks bond Lola and me together. That's the best part.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Yay for Yo!

Heard the good news when I was driving back home this afternoon: Yoenis Cespedes agrees to re-sign with the Mets.

I had heard that Cespedes wanted to stay in New York. I was hopeful he would, but you just never know.

It's really too early to speculate on the Mets line-up for next season. There are many questions and many moving pieces.

This is a good start.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Late Afternoon at Taylor Farm

Lola and I arrived at Taylor Farm at 4 today and stayed for almost an hour. It's not easy to take photos when a leashed beagle is pulling on your arm to follow a scent.

Here are the two best. 
 





Sunday, November 27, 2016

Random Sunday Thoughts

This has been an unusual week: a three day work week for many, Thanksgiving, Black Friday (god not for us) and Jake-sitting.It was nice to come home last night.

This afternoon we went for an hour hike at Cranbury Park. I told Jeff that Lola was a good influence on us. Otherwise, we wouldn't have gone hiking, even though it was a nice day. It was my first exercise in four days.

I've got a new project. The ACT manual has been revised. I'll be teaching a class in about 2.5 weeks and will need to prep the manual, watch some videos and pass a quiz. I had just started a project to organize my ACT, SAT and PSAT materials. I should have started earlier (the story of my life.)

I've been thinking about plans for the week. It looks like my Monday appointment may move to Thursday. That opens up tomorrow, but I had planned on dinner with my mother beforehand. Should I reschedule? I need to go food shopping, and get back into a gym routine.

I keep dozing off as I try to finish this post. It's not conducive to planning. I'll re-think it tomorrow.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Home-body

A few times on Thanksgiving, people asked me our plans for the rest of the weekend. Jeff and I were pet-sitting, but otherwise had only one specific plan for yesterday. Now we did a few more things and had fun. But I got to thinking--we just don't have a lot of social activities lined up on the weekends.

Getting Spike may have been the turning point. We started taking him out with us which curtailed our going-out options: we could only go to dog friendly places and were limited by weather conditions. For meals, we started doing more take-out, instead of eating in restaurants. We also had less disposable income, so going out became less viable.

Ultimately, I like staying at home, especially in the dark winters. I'm happy hanging out with Jeff. We can catch up on movies or TV. I may read or write.

We were only away for two nights. but it felt good to come home. This is our place; this is where we belong. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Mini Road Trip

Jeff and I are Jake-sitting today in Ridgefield. It's also the first weekend of the Merwinsville Hotel Christmas/Holiday Show. We decided to head up there around noon, taking Lola with us because we were hesitant to leave her here.

I had hoped to find at least one present to make the trip worthwhile. No luck there--most of the items were too expensive for me. Oh well, Lola got to walk around and smell some new scents.

Since we were just six miles from Kent, we decided to make a stop there. We traded off going into my favorite store and walking with Lola in a large field. I made a purchase in Foreign Cargo: a dish towel with doggie faces (resembling beagles) for us. We picked up sandwiches here and ate them in the car. Note to self: don't try to eat a sandwich while sharing a small, enclosed space with a beagle.

Heading back to Ridgefield, we made a final stop to taste some wine and see some art. It ended up being similar to this day.

Unfortunately, we hit some traffic on the way home. It got dark early and started to rain. We didn't make it to Danbury dog park and had to cut our walk with Jake and Lola short.

But we were pleased that Lola walked on the sidewalk in Kent and even crossed the street. She freaked when she saw cars during our walk with Jake. But her Kent walk was a victory. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Split Thanksgiving


For the past several years, we’ve spent Thanksgiving with Jeff’s family—in some form or another.This year things were different. Plans changed in my family so my mother would be alone if I didn’t see her. The same was true of Jeff’s parents. So we split up. I had an early (11 AM) meal with my mother and Jeff went for a meal at a more reasonable time of 12:30 PM. We were invited to Jeff's sister's later in the day with her daughter and boyfriend serving as sous chefs.

Jeff and I ended up meeting at the new Danbury Dog Park--basically two fenced-in areas across from a Danbury Airport runway. Lola seemed to like the scents; luckily there were no air arrivals or departures close to us to scare her.

I missed being with Jeff, and my mother drove me crazy, but the rest of the day was good.

I'm thankful for a nice family day, for Jeff and Lola,for good health, and for my privilege (that I'm still identifying.)

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

TCM VCR Catch Up: Anne of the Thousand Days

Anne of the Thousand Days, starring Richard Burton and Genevieve Bujold, may have started my fascination with Anne Boleyn.The timing of the release date is right.

I thought the performances were good--I was surprised to read that Burton hated his performance.

I had more issues with the screenplay. Henry VIII gets a sympathetic portrayal: a man haunted by his failure to produce a male heir, tormented by fear that his marriage was invalid in the eyes of God (as revealed in a prayer scene.) Anne's father and uncle are also given more sympathetic portrayals than history may warrant--they are passive rather than ambitious.

In an early scene, Anne tells Harry Percy that she is not a virgin. There's no point to this scene. It would make sense if this information was later discussed in the investigation or trial. Instead: there's no further mention of it. Is this some kind of slut-shaming?

Henry was all over the place in the last third of the film. He says he wants to get rid of Anne, but makes an appearance at her trial and discredits the testimony of Mark Smeaton. Then he says the adultery charge could be true after all. It makes no sense. Other scenes show his confusion about the charges as if he was some innocent victim of Cromwell's machinations.

The men found guilty of adultery with Anne besides Smeaton and George Boleyn (Norris, Brereton and Weston) are listed in the credits but barely have a presence in the film. George is also vague. The screenwriters miss a great dramatic moment when Percy has to declare Anne guilty. Too bad.

Final quibbles: Henry VIII should be a redhead. Bujold is too beautiful to be Anne Boleyn. But maybe she has to be beautiful to convince the audience of her appeal.

Still a good movie.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

It Was Seven Months Ago Today...

that Lola came home with us.

She was so scared when we left the shelter. I tried to settle down in the back seat with her. She finally went to the floor and stayed there. We were told she liked to walk on the leash, but she panicked when we exited our car. Then she hid underneath our drop leaf table for a week or so. Despite that, even in our first days together, Lola sensed that we would keep her safe. 

From the beginning, Lola was much more confident outside--that's one of the first things we noticed about her. Yesterday winds scared her when we were in the back yard. Today at Taylor Farm, nothing phased her. Lola stood majestic on a rock outcropping when the strongest wind blew by her.

Lola is loving to Jeff and me. She's growing friendlier to friends and neighbors. Lola is awesome.

Monday, November 21, 2016

70 Years Ago Today

The Best Years of Our Lives premiered.

I first saw the film as part of a college course: Film and American Society 1930's through 1950's. That course was awesome: I saw so many good films for the first time, including A Night at the Opera and Citizen Kane. My father later told me that my stepmother was appalled that he was paying good money for me to watch movies in college. But what I learned from that course has stayed with me.

The Best Years of Our Lives is the first film I saw that didn't show a rosy view of returning veterans. It wasn't all parades and cheers. Al, Fred and Homer each faced challenges adjusting to civilian life. The three love stories of Al and Milly, Fred and Peggy, and Homer and Wilma were poignant.

I'll never forget Peggy's (Teresa Wright) line: "I'm going to break that marriage up." It led to laughter and cheers when I watched the film with my class

The acting is incredible across the board: Fredric March won his second leading actor Oscar and Harold Russell became the only person to win two Oscars for the same role.

The Best Years of Our Lives is one of those films that I can watch over and over and never get tired of it. A great film.

More Thoughts on Blogging


Five years ago I wrote about some frustrations with pretentious writers who dismissed blogs. 

This critque cracked me up.

I'm obviously not the only one who gets frustrated with pretentious writers.

Setback

I felt crappy yesterday. After a tutoring session I came home and vegged. My right leg hurt when I went up and down stairs. My right shoulder/neck area ached. I couldn't put my arm up without any pain. I had chills.

I had planned to go to the gym yesterday after lunch. I wanted to repeat my four gym visits a week routine. But it would have been counterproductive to work out yesterday. I did manage a half hour of gentle stretches. I feel better today but not well enough for a gym workout. Instead I did 45 minutes of  light exercise this morning.

I'm disappointed with this setback. I felt good Friday and Saturday after my workout and hike. I'm not sure why I was so sore yesterday. But I have to deal with it and listen.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Weekly Hits and Misses

I was pretty pleased with my accomplishments this week.

I went to the gym four times this week (only the second time this year.) I exercised here twice for 45 minutes each time. Yesterday we went for 1.25 hour hike and I stretched afterwards. My goal is to exercise at least a half hour each day. I know I can't keep that up, but at least I can try.

I'm doing well with Nablopomo. I've written 23 posts in November, at least one each day. Before I started, I read about it on Blogher and put the badge on my blog yesterday. I also added Coll-ection to the nablopomo blogroll.

I completed all the household projects I assigned to myself.

Now the misses.

I should have done more. I have a lot of free time; I know I can do more.

I got off to a bad start on Monday, mostly by underestimating how long things take.

I never made a list. I worked from a mental list, but I can't keep track of everything. A few things fell by the wayside: emailing some friends and colleagues, sending a Thanksgiving card.

I didn't do much of anything yesterday--a wasted day.

Overall, a good week that I hope is the beginning of better time management. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

A Hike at Babcock Preserve

Today is the last of three warm, sunny days so we took Lola to Babcock Preserve in Greenwich. We had taken Spike there, but it's been a few years since we last visited. Lola loved it.

A new feature at Babcock is a story walk designed as part of a Girl Scout Gold Award project.The charming story "Charlie Takes a Walk" teaches children how to behave in nature.


Babcock is another place we found in Doggin Connecticut--that was a valuable impulse buy.

Frustration Dreaming Re-visited

Last night I had a few weird dreams including a new version of a frustration dream. This time around I was at a wedding, but didn't seem to know the bride or groom. I was confused because we were served a meal before the ceremony: shrimp cocktail and a bland shrimp scampi.

For some reason I left the room. When I returned, the food and tables were gone. Only chairs remained where we would watch the ceremony. I sat down but didn't see Jeff anywhere. I went to look for him and realized I was in some kind of wedding complex with several other receptions going on.

I got lost and woke up before I found my way back.

Friday, November 18, 2016

60 Years Ago Today...

Nikita Khrushchev first uttered the phrase: "We will bury you" to western diplomats.

I remember seeing a commercial which replayed those words--it had to have been years later, but I was young enough to take it literally. I was afraid of being buried alive.

Words can hurt.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

DVR Catch-Up

I'm one of those persons that likes to have the TV on as background noise when I'm working around the house. Today I watched The Cotton Club--which I recorded in May--as I cleaned the bedroom and sorted the laundry.

I've seen The Cotton Club several times before, and think it's an underrated film. I loved the combination of musical numbers (especially Crazy Rhythm and Minnie the Moocher) the romances, and the mob stories. There's also the Mad Dog Coll element. As far as I know, he's no relation to me, but I've wanted to learn more about him.

The cast was good; I was especially surprised by Fred Gwynne who I only knew as Officer Francis Muldoon of Car 54 and Herman Munster.

A good film that managed a happy ending.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What I've Been Reading

It's been a while since my last books entry and things have changed.

From that list I finished Red The History of the Redhead and Henry VIII The King and His Court. I started by skimming the latter: the first few chapters were more like lists of tapestries than a narrative. The book became more interesting as I continued.

After I finished the Henry VIII book, I wanted something completely different. I started Unveiling the Edge ot Time Black Holes, White Holes Wormholes by John Gribbin, but only made it through two chapters. So once again, I went for something completely different. I read three mysteries that I picked up at a library sale: T is for Trespass, Hardball and Body Work. The first is a Kinsey Millhone mystery by Sue Grafton. The other two are written by Sara Paretsky and feature her detective V.I.Warshawski. I enjoy both series and their protagonists. The books are fast moving and relatively easy to read.

I'm currently reading The Mists of Avalon, a retelling of the Arthur myth, by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It's 876 pages, since I usually only read before bed, it will take me some time to finish. I'm trying to work in other times to read.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Seven Days Later

I put on my raincoat today. That's good because it rained all day and we needed it. But the first thing I noticed was the "I voted" sticker on the lapel.

I'm proud to vote. It's my civic duty. I want to honor all the women who fought so hard for the right. I wanted to vote for Hillary, not just because she was the first woman major party candidate. I think she would have been a good president. And yes, I would have been proud to vote for the first woman president.

It wasn't to be.

Any Hillary loss would be difficult, but a loss to Trump may be catastrophic.

I just hope I'm wrong. 

Supermoon

I was disappointed when I realized yesterday that I had forgotten about the supermoon, visible in Connecticut Sunday and Monday (November 13th and 14th.)

We headed outside around 10:30 last night. The moon was lovely, but underwhelming. Guess our timing was off. Here are some other photos from around the world.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Planning to Plan

I've been reading and thinking a lot about planning and to-do lists.

I had good intentions and vague plans last week. I did what I had to, but got sidetracked by helping out a friend who needed a ride (a good sidetrack) and my despair about the election results (a bad sidetrack that may linger for a long time.) Before I knew it, it was Friday and we had plans to visit Jeff's parents, and plans to go a UVM game on Saturday. The week was (practically) gone.

I need to be a bit more pro-active in my planning. But I also have to recognize that shit happens. Sometimes literally like today. Usually, it's a case of one project taking me longer than expected.

Today's plans--the unfinished to-do's--will roll over into tomorrow--pushing off tomorrow's plans.

And so it goes.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Lola Visits Stamford

We decided to take Lola to the Stamford Dog Park today for the first time. The park is fenced-in with separate areas for small and large dogs; we took Lola into the small dog section. Unfortunately, she didn't like it. I think part of it was due to traffic noise; the park is right off I-95. Jeff thought she was spooked by some young kids in the small dog area. Overall, she was skittish and uncomfortable. After she pooped, we headed out.

Our next stop was Cove Island Park; Lola loved it there. She sniffed, climbed over rocks and met several other dogs, including a few beagles. She did get scared by a man untangling a kite from a tree, but was otherwise in a good mood--in full happy face mode. Once again I tried to snap a few photos, but didn't have much luck.

When we arrived at Cove Island, I called my friend (and former roommate) Elaine who joined us to meet Lola and go for a walk. We were there over an hour-and-a-half. It was a beautiful day.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Mets Updates

The good:

Curtis Granderson was named Marvin Miller Man of the Year--I've never heard of this award, but am glad that Granderson's philanthropic work has been honored.

Yoenis Cespedes won his first Silver Slugger award. I hope the Mets can re-sign him.

The bad:

Bartolo Colon signed a one-year contract with the Braves. I have grown to love Bartolo and his time with the Mets has been memorable. I'll miss him, but will root for him as a Brave (except against the Mets.)

UVM Wins Its Season Opener

I went to my second college basketball game today, my second University of Vermont game with our nephew starting, my second game at Quinnipiac University. UVM Catamounts won handily 94 - 70.

Quinnipiac's TD Bank Sports Center is very nice--modern with many amenities, and welcoming. It was also accessible--about a 50 minute ride with easy directions. It was a nice Saturday afternoon.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Family Visit

Jeff was off for Veterans Day, so we visited his parents. Usually he works weekdays and I often work weekends, so it's hard for us to go together. First we took Lola to Southbury dog park for about 45 minutes.

Going to Southbury dog park had been our routine with Spike since we read about it in this book. Lola's only been to Southbury three or four times. She loves it. I recently read that dogs dream (I already knew that just from watching Spike) and it's good to give your dog new experiences in new places to fuel their dreams. Well, that's one thing we are good at doing for Lola.

Just to be safe, we gated Lola in the apartment kitchen while we went to the main dining room. Jeff's dad usually eats in the health center's dining room, and it was nice to see people greet him who haven't seen him in a while.

It was a good family day.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Sweet Pea

That's what a woman called Lola at Taylor Farm today.

I've called her that several times, along with Honey, Sweetie, Sweetie Pie, Pumpkin, my little kumquat and my petite fillet.

I think the woman at dog park was too young to know this.

A Day in a Daze

I was up last on Election Night until 2 or 3 AM. They hadn't declared Trump the winner when I went to bed. When I got up around 9 the next morning, I knew it wasn't a dream, but I hoped there was some kind of miscalculation or mistake.

There wasn't.

I was in a state of shock, fatigue and disbelief.

Thank God for Lola. Lola gave me a reason to get up, to shower, to go out.

I've lost count of all the elections that have disappointed me.This was the first time election results made me cry.

I'm afraid. And I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm white, a US citizen and too old for Donald to want to grope.

It's going to be a long four years. 


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Watching the Maps Move

It's going to be a long night.

Unfortunately.

Four years ago, CNN said it wouldn't be as long a night as originally thought. 

Tonight will last longer than expected.

I wasn't scared until I started watching the results.

I understand the anger against the Establishment.But I never understood the support of a Presidntial candidate who had never worked in government before (e.g. Perot and Trump.)

I don't understand the embrace of Trump. Are we ready to embrace a braggart, a bigot, a man who boasted about sexual assault and said his first acts would be to sue his accusers? Who pledged to put his opponent in jail?

I switch channels; at first the MSNBC numbers looked better than CNN's. Most stations announce bad future markets results.

I was naive not to be afraid.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Listening

An important thing that yoga taught me was to listen to my body.

When I started my yoga practice, "feel the burn" and "no pain, no gain" aerobic workouts were popular.

They're catchy phrases but not particularly helpful.

Listening to your body doesn't mean giving up at the first sign of discomfort. Instead you try to breathe through it. But you don't push through real pain.

October was a bad workout month for me. In a "cut off your nose to spite your face" kind of way, I rebelled against myself by blowing off the gym and pretty much any kind of exercise.

I'm slowly trying to get back into a routine. I can't expect to work at the same level as I did several weeks ago. I'm rusty. I just have to work with that and listen.


Monday, November 7, 2016

Election Eve

This has been a long election season--I guess it's really been four years long. People are already talking about the 2020 Presidential election.

Eight years ago, I was anxious about the election results. McCain seemed to have embraced the devil (I mean the Republican operatives who four years earlier attacked his own family.) Of course faux feminist Sarah Palin was also a fright. In 20008, I'm embarrassed to say, I supported John Edwards. I later voted for Obama.

The stakes are higher tomorrow, but I'm not as anxious. I don't believe enough people will support Trump to make him President. I can't believe it.

I hope I don't face a rude awakening tomorrow. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Weekend Movies

Friday night we watched Spectre, the latest James Bond film. I liked it, but it was too long. I got bored during the chase scenes--they were too long and repetitive. I'm in the minority in my opinions on chase scenes: a little is enough.The last two Bond films are a blur, so I can't comment on inconsistencies from those films to this one (as someone on imdb commented.)

Last night we watched Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I really enjoyed this. (I also liked Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.)  It would have been better if I had read the original Pride and Prejudice. I have a copy that I picked up at a book sale a few years ago. I'll have to crack it open.

We also watched Blood and Black Lace last night. Maybe it was too late, but I just couldn't get into it. The director is Mario Bava; I loved his Black Sunday. Maybe Blood and Black Lace deserves another viewing. But not for awhile, I already deleted the recording.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Would Have Been's





Today would have been Spike's 16th birthday.

Here's a photo I took of him about ten years ago on a beach in Hobe Sound, Florida.This may be the best photograph I've ever taken.

I've been thinking about Spike a lot lately. I even answered "Spike" when someone asked me Lola's name on Tuesday. D'oh. We still miss him.

We were able to keep Spike going for almost a year even though he had cancer. But his last few days were tough--he couldn't walk; he could barely stand. It was time.

I would have loved for Spike and Lola to meet. Maybe he could have taught her not to be so afraid. But we can't have had two dogs where we live. So if we still had Spike, we wouldn't have Lola now.

We don't know Lola's real birthday. We designated May 5 as her day. This makes November 5 her half-way day and gives her a connection to Spike.

Happy Birthday Spike!  Happy Half-way Day Lola!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Autumn Evenings

I'm posting a few photos that I've taken recently. I also took several of Lola last weekend at Rowayton dog park, but none of them were very good. I'll try to take more in the future.





I took this photo at Taylor Farm last month,
probably our last dog park Friday.





Yesterday the sky looked so pretty that I pulled over
on  Seaview Avenue to take this photo.



Thursday, November 3, 2016

The End of an Era

of the lovable losers. The Chicago Cubs are now World Champions; they beat the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven 8-7 in ten innings.

The city of Chicago is giddy, planning a parade for the ages.

The curse (or curses) is/are vanquished.

As I watched the game last night, I re-read an essay that I wrote in 2013, Curses, Foiled Again.  

I need to revise and update it--not just for the Cubs triumph. Two consecutive winning seasons by the Mets suggest my theory of a Bill Shea curse is wrong. (Jeff suggested the existence of Shea Bridge deflected such a curse.)

I also heard a CBS Sports Minute that theorized that the Washington Nationals are cursed because of shutting down pitcher Stephen Strasburg in 2012. The Nationals ended up losing the Division Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in five games.

Here's the original essay:


Storytelling and myth-making must be deeply embedded in human DNA. Ancient cultures used myths to explain how the world came to be and other mysteries. Modern subcultures use storytelling and myth-making to explain their own mysteries—why does our team suck?
           
For years, citizens of Red Sox Nation blamed their team’s World Series drought on the Curse of the Bambino. The Red Sox had won five of the first fifteen World Series. That stopped when the team sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. Despite reaching the World Series in 1946, 1967, 1975 and 1986, the Sox always fell short: in 1986, they were only a strike away from winning it all. It took 86 years before a memorable team of idiots cowboyed up after losing the first three games of the American League Championship Series to their arch-rivals, the New York Yankees. They won four straight to advance to the World Series and sweep the St. Louis Cardinals (Sox rivals in the ’46 and ’67 World Series—more payback) to finally reverse the curse.

Philadelphia teams had to contend with the Curse of Billy Penn. In the 1980s, the city decided to allow skyscrapers to be built higher than the William Penn statue on City Hall. After the first of these buildings opened, Philadelphia teams stopped winning titles. In an attempt to set things right, in 2007 construction workers put a statue of Penn on a beam in the Comcast Tower, the city’s tallest building. The following year the Phillies won the World Series. Coincidence?

Then there are the Cubs. They last won the World Series in 1908. In their last series appearance in 1945, they were stricken with the curse of the Billy Goat. Billy Goat tavern owner Billy Sianis was asked to leave Wrigley Field when his pet goat and tavern mascot proved a bit too much for the other fans. Outraged, he said the Cubs wouldn’t win anymore.

But for the poor Cubs, it didn’t end there. In early September of 1969, the Cubs were leading their then division rivals the Mets by seven games. As the Cubs lost eight consecutive games, the Mets enjoyed a 10-game winning streak. In one of those games between the Cubs and the Mets, a black cat crossed the path of Cubbie captain Ron Santos as he was in the on-deck circle at Shea. Could the black cat be the reincarnation of the billy goat? Even Steve Bartman was suspect—he was photo shopped into a goat, after he reached for a foul ball and deflected it in Game Six of the 2003 National League Championship Series. The Cubs opponents, the Florida Marlins went on to win it all that year.

Full disclosure: I’m a Mets fan. The Mets possibly partially benefited from two of these curses in their only World Series wins of 1969 and 1986. The Mets won National League Championships in 1973 and 2000. In 2006, it looked as if the Mets would once again reach the World Series, but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 of the NLCS. (Why didn’t anyone put a curse on Yadier Molina who hit the game-winning home run for the Cards?)

In both 2007 and 2008, the Mets lost leads in the National League East in the last days of those seasons. From 2009 through 2014, the Mets have losing records.

In November 2006, it was announced that the Mets new stadium would be named Citi Field. Hmm, the Mets have had losing seasons after their stadium was named for a corporation rather than the man who brought National League baseball back to New York City.

Maybe the Mets have been stricken with the curse of Bill Shea

Hey, it makes more sense than a Billy goat.