Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Week Between

I had thought about how to describe this week, "limbo"?  How would I title this post? It's the last week of the year, but I'm not ready for year-end analysis or new year goals and resolutions just yet.

I had a much nicer Christmas than expected--specifically the time spent with Jeff's sister and her family. It was relaxed and fun from Christmas Eve dinner through Christmas morning.I didn't want to stay overnight originally, but it worked out well for us.

***
I always hated to to back to work the day after Christmas. I felt guilty Tuesday morning as Jeff got up at 5:30. I didn't work this week. I planned to get many things done. As usual, I didn't succeed. I did a little bit of everything--TPR work, cleaning/organizing, shopping, cooking. Maybe cooking was my best: in addition to dinners, I made carrot-ginger soup and marinara sauce and froze about half of both.
***
It's been a cold week--temperatures barely making it into the twenties. It wasn't conducive for long walks or hikes. The longest walk Lola and I had this week was 35 minutes. Today it snowed for most of the day. Luckily it didn't amount to much. It did mess up my plan to go to the gym this morning. Instead, I exercised here--it was better than nothing. Jeff and I took Lola for a walk up our street--a first for Lola. She was a little skittish when cars passed by, but did well. I hope it's the first of many neighborhood walks for her.
***

We're down to our last few days of drinking. Every year we stop drinking around New Year's Day. I think January 1st will be our last day this year. We'll have a long weekend. Jeff likes to have a beer on Super Bowl Sunday. I'll wait until Valentine's Day. In 2018, it's on a Wednesday. I don't know if we'll celebrate that day or the Saturday before or after. For now we're enjoying some red wine. Champagne tomorrow.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Two Years

Spike died two years ago today. He was special for many reasons.

First, he was Jeff's and my first dog. We both had dogs and other pets growing up and loved them. But we had a special bond with Spike.

Spike was a great traveler--he traveled with us up and down the East Coast from New Hampshire to Florida. Spike loved to go to new places--parks, art galleries, shops, wineries, restaurants.

We discovered Taylor Farm with Spike as well as other parks and trails.We met many wonderful dog-loving friends.

We knew we would love Spike and that he would require a lot of work.

We didn't know how much joy he would bring us.

We will love and miss Spike forever.



Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas Kvetching

There was a time when I loved Christmas.

As a kid, it meant toys. We used to trim the tree Christmas Eve, have pancakes for dinner and open one present. In the morning, we'd rush down to see what Santa brought. I seem to remember having turkey for dinner at our home most years, but I'm rather vague on that.

I remember some fun Christmases when I first moved to Connecticut. We had several guests--usually people who had no family nearby--our get-togethers were casual and eclectic. I remember one--when I and someone else received a bongo board. We had dueling bongoing going on. (I still have my bongo board in the closet.)

Jeff and I got engaged on Christmas Eve. After that we had to blend holidays together. It worked well for the first several years. We spent Christmas Eve with Jeff's family, and Christmas Day with mine.It got more challenging when parents moved south.

Even with good Christmases, there's always been an undercurrent of pressure.It just seems to get worse for me. The last three Christmases have been stressful. This year I'm trying to force myself into some semblance of Christmas spirit: today I wore red and green and my Christmas earrings. I didn't turn off Christmas music Jeff was listening to when I got home from my ACT class. I put up a few Christmas decorations (but no tree.)

I'm mostly frustrated because I don't have money. I had to put $1500 into my car last month. My work has slowed down a bit, so I don't have much money coming in. Then we'll be at Jeff's sister's house, where they usually have five feet of presents (literally) stacked around the tree. I'm not even getting Jeff any presents this year except stocking stuffers and one or two small practical household type things. We need a new couch and we both need new glasses, and other medical things.

It's not just money. Jeff's father's health is not good, and I'm concerned about my mother.

I realize objectively that I don't have things that bad. But I can't dispel a feeling of unease. I wish I could just skip Christmas.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

It is Done.

I mean the bathroom. The shower doors were delivered Thursday. The contractor arrived today to install them. It took about 45 minutes. Now we have an almost brand new bathroom. I can rehang a picture in the bath and return corner shelf and pictures in the hallway.

On to Christmas decorations.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Reading Update

My reading rate dropped off the second half of the year. I gave up on Thoreau's Backwoods and along the Seashore. I read the a few selections, but just couldn't get into it.

I wanted something different and chose Mary Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser. I wanted to read a biography of Mary since I saw this movie. I did read this book, but wanted more about Mary's life. I haven't gotten very far in Fraser's book: I'm in the third chapter. Mary is still a child but is now in France.

I'm enjoying this biography. My only quibble is that there are some quotations in French. I don't speak French, and would prefer to see the translations.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Good Intentions Don't Cut It

In my last post, I complained that I've been unfocused, and I would start by getting up early yesterday.

I didn't anticipate that I would have a horrible night's sleep. I was up a little later than planned because we watched the coverage of the Alabama Senate race--thank you black women of Alabama. Then I just couldn't get to sleep. I was uncomfortable, my pillow didn't feel right, Jeff was snoring, my feet got cold, I had to pee. Ugh.

Needless to say, I wasn't ready to bound out of bed in the morning. I forced myself to get up around 7. I could barely keep my eyes open the first few minutes. I told myself it was foolish to go to the gym when I was so tired. I honestly don't know if that was a reasoned decision or just a cop out.

It was bitterly cold. It would warm up later, but the wind strength would increase. I took Lola to Schenck's Island around 10. Later I went food shopping, did a little cleaning and had my first session for my new ACT class. I even managed to exercise.

At least the day wasn't a complete loss.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Unfocused

That's how I've been feeling the past few days. I overslept both Sunday and Monday. I had trouble getting myself going. I proctored a test for my new class Sunday, and had a tutoring appointment on Monday. I did the minimum that I had to do, but at least I made a few bucks. 

It's frustrating because I had been on a bit of a roll. I hate losing momentum. Honestly, any momentum I had was gone.

It's back to the drawing board for me: goals, time management, planning. First step--get my butt out of bed early in the morning.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Snow Day

It started snowing around 8:30 this morning. I got Lola to Taylor Farm by 7:30. I didn't know when the snow would start, but knew it would be snowing off-and-on all day.

Lola and I spent just about an hour at Taylor Farm. First I saw a snowflake out of the corner of my eye. Next I felt a few flakes. By the time we left, the snowflakes still hadn't coalesced. I grabbed a coffee and glazed blueberry donut at Dunkin Donuts on the way home. Since then I've been a homebody.

Jeff's away this weekend. I had planned a few fun things to do, but wanted to use this weekend to get some things done around the house. With the snow day, I gave up the outside plans (except of course for the dog park with Lola.) Yesterday I made broth using rotisserie chickens. Today I separated chicken, broth and bones, etc. to make a broth for Lola--she loves chicken broth--and some orzo, white bean chicken soup for Jeff and me. I made a double batch of flank steak, black bean chili--it's still cooking on low in the crockpot.

I filed papers away, went through and organized all the instruction and warranty brochures, and tossed some outdated papers. I did a few sewing repairs. I didn't get around to any cleaning besides dishes, but tomorrow is another day.

I watched one of my noir movies. Angel Face. I had seen part of it before, but the ending was a shocker.

A pretty productive day.

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Saga of a Bathtub Scratch

Sometime last year I noticed a scratch in the bottom of our tub. We had a tech from Kitchen Magic (KM) here because of some minor thing in the kitchen. He looked at the tub, said it as a crack and not a scratch. A crack is more serious.

An engineer came out and recommended that the tub liner be replaced. Time passed; my calls were unanswered. Finally a the tech came out to do a  patch on our tub.

The patch didn't last. About a year later, I called again, and the engineer returned. I waited. Apparently KM no longer does bathroom work; Bathroom Magic is gone. Sub-contractors came to replace the tub liner in September. Unfortunately, there was miscommunication between KM and the sub-contractors. The tub liner could not be installed without removing all the tile on the walls.

We had to re-schedule. We also had to re-order tile in case the tile wall broke when removed. But that wasn't all. The color of our tile was discontinued. No more tarragon. KM sent us tile samples of the closest colors: cilantro and rosemary. We chose cilantro. (What's with all the spice names anyway?) KM agreed to provide cilantro walls just in case. I was curious about the tarragon colored sink if we ended up with cilantro walls. We reserved the right to switch out the sink if necessary.

We scheduled installation for early November. Unfortunately, one installer had a personal emergency and had to reschedule.

To make up for the inconvenience, KM offered to give us the sink in cilantro. I figured that was part of the lifetime warranty. I asked if KM could fix a scratch on our kitchen counter. The manager agreed. So last Thursday, the tub installers and Greg, the Corian repairman, arrived.

First the Corian. It was another crack, not a scratch. The difference? A crack goes all the way through the material. On closer inspection, Greg determined the crack was due to a manufacturing defect. Yay--covered by warranty! The downside was that Greg said it would be best to take the counter off site to repair it. It's never easy to lose counter space in a small kitchen, but at least we still had our longer counters available.

As Greg left, the bathroom installers arrived, Roman, Yuri and another (whose name I never got.) As Roman told me, nothing was easy. One of the walls cracked when they removed it.They were here for the long haul--almost three full days. I expected that they would finish by noon or 1 PM on the last day, Saturday. But no such luck. As they were reinstalling the shower doors--we heard a crash--shattering glass. There goes one of our shower doors.Yuri headed to a nearby Lowe's to get us a collapsible shower rod and curtain.

We may have a new door in a week. Maybe not, but it should be installed by Christmas. Sigh.

At least Greg repaired and returned our counter top by Monday. He also buffed all the other counter tops.

And so it goes.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Morning at Oyster Shell Park

We're having our bathroom renovated. Today was the second of three days--well, maybe a half-day tomorrow. The workers were scheduled to arrive between 8 and 9:30 AM. So I figured I should take Lola out to a park early each morning.

Yesterday I took Lola to Taylor Farm around 7.Today we went to Oyster Shell Park. Here are some photos of the sunrise.








Lola wasn't much interested in the sunrise, but there were many good scents for her to peruse. 


Thursday, November 30, 2017

NaBloPoMo Fail--Part Two

I forgot to post last night. No good reason. I had a few things on my mind, but don't I always? At least I hope I have things on my mind--especially creative thoughts.

Anyway I woke up around 3:30 and realized that I had forgotten to write anything.

I'm bummed that I missed another day. But not as bummed as I would have been if I had made it to November 29th before missing a post.

I'm not going to beat myself up about it. It's not the only goal I won't reach. But it was definitely doable. Sigh.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Today at Bradley Park

I haven't gone to the gym in a while (I don't want to check just how long.) Today I chose to take Lola to Bradley Park. As long as I don't let Lola take me off a main trail, we get a good 30 to 40 minute fairly vigorous hike. At Bradley, the paths are rough with tree roots, stones and branches, now covered in dead leaves. We walk up hills and climb stone walls.

Bradley is a little off the beaten trail--I would have never found it by chance. Luckily, a man I met walking Lola at Schenck's Island told me about it.

Usually Lola and I have the park to ourselves-all 82 acres. Today was no exception. The temperatures were only in the 40's, but it was sunny and pleasant. Lola bounded up and down hills, sniffed out scents and tried to dig under fallen tree trunks.

I thought of Spike and how lucky we were to be able to let him go off leash. Lola remains tethered to me for her own good (and my peace of mind.) She still enjoys herself.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Transitions

Thanksgiving is officially over. As I mentioned yesterday, I started seeing Christmas trees on car roofs. I went to a tutoring session at a decorated home. It must be Christmas season.

Christmas always seems to sneak up on me. Usually because the holiday hoopla starts so early, I lose track of it. I didn't notice that this year. Maybe because I haven't been in many stores lately.

I'm bummed that I had to take care of some expensive car repairs two weeks ago. I second guess if I should continue to put money into my 20-year-old car, but it beats getting a new car. It's worse to pay out at this time of year.

Three of my students are taking the SAT on Saturday. They may all take the test another time or take the ACT. I hope to see them back soon.  At least I start another class the following week. I need more work.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

NaBloPoMo Fail

A few hours ago, Jeff asked me I had forgotten to post yesterday.

I said no, I had written something. Maybe I had just forgotten to publish it.

It was two lines, three if I count the title.

Title: Signs of Christmas

Text: Yesterday I saw my first Christmas tree on top of a car. Today I saw two more.

I played with lines when I was stuck in traffic yesterday.

car top Christmas trees
on their way home

to Jersey?

Back tomorrow.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Back Home

Our dog sitting stint ended today. It took me a bit longer than expected to run the dishwasher and finish the laundry. The towels seemed to take forever to dry. I didn't get home and unpack the car until 4:50. For some reason the drive home was exhausting. I wanted to just veg. But I had asked a friend to go out for drinks, and it was too late to cancel.

We headed to Sedona Tap House for drinks and appetizers and talk. I did enjoy getting out and visiting. But I'm glad to be back home now, vegging with Lola snuggled next to me.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Day

When I was growing up, we would eat Thanksgiving dinner around 4 PM.  Today Jeff and I went to visit his parents, ate at noon and were done by 1:30. I'm still getting used to early holiday meals.Jeff's dad resides in the health center; we took him to the main dining room today. He enjoys seeing people that he usually doesn't see.

Unfortunately he wasn't feeling well. After dessert, he went back to his room to take a nap. I don't think he even finished his coffee. We visited a bit more with Jeff's mother before returning to take the dogs to the Bark Park. There weren't many dogs there, but Jake played with a black lab named Carly. Lola ran around a little on her own.

My brother and his wife had Thanksgiving dinner with my mother at 11 AM. That's too early for me. Today was also Jim's birthday, so he wanted to spend it with mom. Jeff and I will probably see her on Saturday for dinner. 

A few years ago I speculated about future Christmases. I'm starting to wonder about Thanksgivings as well. We'll make sure to enjoy ourselves whatever develops.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Safe and Sound

I didn't work today, and Jeff worked remotely until 2. It was nice not to have to battle traffic. We did go out; I visited The Christmas Tree Shop in Danbury around 10. After 2, we all went back to the Bark Park. Neither Lola nor Jake ran as much as they did yesterday, so that was a disappointment.

I hate traveling over the holidays. For years, I've managed to avoid it. Apparently the getaway day has expanded. I stopped home for a few things before I headed to my 6 PM tutoring appointment last night. The normally half-hour trip took me an hour. I heard on the radio that all routes out of Manhattan had 40 to 90 minute delays. Airports were busy since last weekend.

 Luckily for us, we are here, settled in, and ready for just a short drive tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Failed Photos

I was outside with Jake. Jeff had put the deck lights on; the tree branches against the night sky were beautiful. I grabbed my phone and took a few shots, but no luck getting a decent photo.

Going through my gallery, I found a picture I took at Cascade Mountain Winery.  Unfortunately, I'm not able to post it right now. It's some kind of peace post with the saying, "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in different languages on different sides similar to this at Wisdom House.



The photo from Cascade is better. I'll have to add it later.

Edited to add:



Monday, November 20, 2017

Back to the Bark Park

Jeff's in the office today and tomorrow; he left in was dark and returned in the dark. So it was up to me to take the dogs out. We started with a visit to the back yard. I had to leash Lola because yesterday she wondered off--not far--but into wetlands with lots of thorn bushes. I was not happy.

Around noon we went to the Bark Park. I'm in awe of dog walkers who can handle several pups at a time. I was challenged just getting from the car to the park entrance with Jake and Lola. Jake seemed to enjoy the park. He played with a few other dogs and went up to all the people for petting.

Later in the afternoon I attempted to take both dogs for individual walks. I took Lola out first and had to fight Jake to keep him inside. Lola and I didn't get far. A few cars passed by and she got scared. Jake did much better but we kept the walk relatively short.

Let's see how tomorrow goes.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Jake-Sitting

Yesterday Jeff, Lola and I headed up to Ridgefield. We're watching Jake when his family is away for Thanksgiving (returning on Friday.)

Jake is a sweet, mellow dog. He and Lola get along by mostly ignoring each other. He doesn't seem to mind if she sleeps on his bed or chews on his bones or toys. I did have to reprimand Lola when she growled at Jake when he came too close to the two of us. Jake didn't seem to mind.

Today the four of us went to Ridgefield's Bark Park. The dog park's been redesigned (maybe relocated) since our last visit with Spike. Lola and Jake seemed to enjoy it. I started with Lola in the small dog area (under 40 pounds.) After a few minutes, she tried to climb up the fence dividing the small and large dog areas. So I took her over to the big dog side where Jeff and Jake were. Lola seemed more comfortable there. We stayed for about 40 minutes.

I'll return tomorrow and/or Tuesday: I can't walk both dogs on my own. Jeff's working from "home" Wednesday, so that will be nice.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Justin and Mark

Today I led a tour of the WPA Murals. I came up with the idea (don't like the word ideate even though it's concise--too affected for me) designed it and planned it.

Mural artist Justin Gruelle chose to illustrate literary works. His six murals at Norwalk City Hall depict three of Mark Twain's works: A Connecticut Yankee in Sir Arthur's Court, Innocents Abroad, and Roughing It. 

13 people signed up and showed up for the tour--a great turnout. It was a good group--everyone participated including an artist who shared his perspective.

Bonus: I'm getting paid for designing the tour. I didn't expect payment, but I can sure use it.

Friday, November 17, 2017

An Anniversary

459 years ago, Queen Mary I of England died, at the age of 42.

Mary was somewhat rehabilitated for me by The Myth of Bloody Mary. It's hard to understand how the Catholic/Protestant differences got so violent. It's even harder to ignore the burning of heretics.

Mary had a rough life--for a royal.I have sympathy for her, and I understand how she would hate Anne Boleyn. Her world upended because of her father's lust. (I don't buy that Henry was all that concerned that his marriage was invalid--he had a papal dispensation.) Her father was a cruel tyrant.

Mary's death lead to one of the best reigns in English history-that of her half sister Elizabeth. How she would have hated it, if she had known.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Final Thoughts on our Interlaken Getaway

We went away last weekend for two main reasons.

The first was that Jeff and I hadn't been away together for three years. Even though we were gone for only three days, it was wonderful. As we drove up Route 7 and approached Merwinsville (really Gaylordsville) in New Milford, I realized that I was smiling. I love going to Lakeville, Millerton, Harney's tea tasting room, wineries, and hiking trails.

The second reason was to get Lola away. Our friend Annette had invited us to visit her in Baltimore with Lola. I was concerned about Lola's ability to handle a five-hour trip plus any time alone at Annette's house. So an overnight trip with a drive longer than a hour would be a good start.

Lola did well. She was a little skittish as we walked through Kent, better in Millerton which had less traffic. She loved the grounds of Interlaken. We knew she would, and that was one of the reasons we selected Interlaken. We also got a good package--Interlaken's Autumn Getaway.

Positives of the trip: getting away in general, Lola adapting well to new places and being mellow when entering rooms with many people, letting people pet her, hiking up Kent Falls, walking the Harlem Valley Railroad Trail, visiting DiGrazia, Sunset Meadows and Cascade Mountain Wineries, and Litchfield Distillery, tea tasting and shopping in Millerton

Downsides of the trip: getting away on one of the coldest days of the season, our disappointment with Morgan's. In the past, we found several delicious options on the menu. This season the selections were limited and pedestrian  (a boring selection of appetizers and salads--New England clam chowder--yawn) and no specials. My first entree of skirt steak was delicious, desserts were good, but the rest of our selections were just okay. What a disappointment for our favorite restaurant.

Regardless, a great getaway.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thoughts on Thoreau

I thought my reading had slowed before. I'm practically at a standstill now.

I finished Walden a while ago (vague I know) and am about a fifth through Backwoods and along the Seashore.

From Walden, I loved Thoreau's discussion of the morning. He said all memorable events transpire in morning time and atmosphere. Poetry and art date from that hour. But then Thoreau says it doesn't matter what the clocks say. "Morning is when I'm awake and there is a dawn in me."

I'm more of morning person than a night owl. I've love to tap more into Thoreau's morning magic.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Substitute Post: Warning, Complaints Ahead

Writing a daily post is harder this year than it's been previously. I haven't been blogging regularly. I'm trying to plan my posts--thinking about specific dates for specific posts, and then what I can write on any day, such as TV, movie and reading topics.

I had planned to do a wrap-up post on our weekend getaway. It was successful for the most part.

But I don't feel like writing about that now. It's late, and I want to complain about my day in bullet points.
  • I got locked out of my work website
  • I called IT Support around 8:20 AM; the message didn't bother to tell me that I'd get no help before 9. I didn't know if I should wash my hair/take out Lola. I didn't want to miss the call.
  • I couldn't review a student's score in my second work website without an student ID. 
  • I requested the ID but didn't get one.
  • When I finally got into the first website, I couldn't view my student.
  • Hurricane Irma limited the veggies I could buy at the supermarket (shallow and selfish, I know--but this is my complaint) 
  • I got an annoying email  implying it was my fault that a meeting hadn't occurred. I previously said when I was available.
  • I didn't have the copy of a test that I thought I had--and needed it for a tutoring session this afternoon. Quick stop at the office required. Almost made it on time except for a school bus stop. 
It helps to vent (thank you Jeff.) It helps to write everything down to see how petty it all can be. I've got to learn to ignore the petty stuff. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Getaway Hangover

We were only away for two nights, but there's a nice feeling of getting back home.

Unfortunately, I also experience vacation hangover. We got home around 4, ordered takeout pizza, and I made a salad of organic greens, did a little unpacking and then vegged. It was Outlander night.

I felt bad because Jeff had to get up at 5:30 to go to work. Then I felt bad for me because I had to drive him to the train station at 6:30.

My car was at the auto repair shop. My original $600-700 estimated repair cost doubled because a mechanical problem created a safety issue. I have an old car. I always second guess myself about putting more money into it. But it's less money to fix my current car than to get a new one. When we were at Interlaken, I was able to compartmentalize and just not think about my car. But this morning I woke up around 4, worrying about money to fix it. Ugh.

I was homebody for most of the day: unpacking, running the dishwasher and doing laundry. I picked up my car around four, then took Lola to the dog park. Have to take care of my girl.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Interlaken Getaway--Day Three and Home Again

We made plans to visit Kent Falls Brewing Company on our way home today. Alas, it was closed. At least we found out before we hit the road. Instead we decided to go home via Routes 44/22 in New York State. First we returned to the Harlem Valley Rail Trail in Millerton and walked for about a half hour. Then to Harney and Sons tasting room.

We visited Cascade Mountain Winery and Restaurant for wine tasting. We had the tasting room to ourselves for most of our visit. Cascade offered the most generous tasting we've seen lately--seven complimentary tastings, and then a selection of five for $5.00.

We probably would have stayed for lunch, but we weren't hungry enough around 1. Also, a group of six or seven had just entered. We figured we should exit with Lola.

We played it by ear the rest of the way. I was worried that I made a mistake selecting a turn onto Route 39. Then we hit the intersection with Route 37. We took 37 and stopped at White Silo because of the trail Lola loved. It was a nice, half-hour hike: cool but pleasant. On our last visit, it had been humid and sticky. After that, we came straight home.

Lola wagged her tail as we unlocked the front door.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Interlaken Getaway--Day Two--Millerton, Goshen and Litchfield

After breakfast at Interlaken, we drove to Millerton, NY for a  long walk. The icicles show how cold it was.



Despite the cold, I enjoyed the trail. It's an easy walk along paved trails.But 70 minutes might have been a bit too long--my feet were numb.But Lola was still raring to go.

A visit to Harney & Son for tea tasting afterward was comforting. Jeff bought tea and I bought socks from a store down the street. We drove through Lakeville and Salisbury before we went south to Sunset Meadow Vineyard. Next we had lunch based on a Vineyard employee's recommendation. Our last tasting stop was in Litchfield.

After that we returned to Interlaken for a walk down to the lake before it got dark.

We had room service dinner again. Lola seemed a bit worn out and content to rest.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Interlaken Getaway--Day One

We choose this weekend for our getaway because Jeff is off today for Veterans Day (observed.) We didn't plan for record cold.The weather has definitely put a crimp in our hiking plans.

We left shortly after 10. Our first stop: Di Grazia Vineyards. We haven't been there in years, so we did a tasting. We left with a port and a dessert wine.

Our next stop was Kent. We walked around a field with Lola, stopped at my favorite store. and picked up sandwiches to go. Lola was skittish and uncomfortable walking in town.

A short ride up Route Seven, we arrived at Kent Falls State Park. As expected, Lola loved it; she bounded up the trail. But she did seem disappointed that she couldn't go down into the water.



We're settled now in Woodside House, after a walk. Lola also loved going down to the lakeside. Looking forward to a delicious dinner.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Post of Miscellany

First, a few clippings:

The New York Times Book Review October 8 2017 Our Back Pages:
Larry McMurtry said that "writing is a way of herding words..." I love the image.

Time Magazine, This Just In (not sure of the date)
A finding from International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health that people walking dogs because they think it makes their dogs happier, are also happier. I could have told them that. I've often written that I've enjoyed my walks with Spike and Lola. That there are only a handful of days each year where it is horrible to walk a dog. 

The New York Times Book Review November 5, 2017. I was skimming through and saw an illustration of George Washington. My first thought was that he looked just like George Tobias. I probably first saw George as the neighbor in Bewitched. But he was a Warners Bros.actor so I saw many of his films.

I returned to the gym today It had been a week-and-a-half since my last visit for no good reason.Will I be sore tomorrow?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Chance Meeting

or another post about Lola.

Lola and I were on our second loop around Oyster Shell Park on the lower trail by the river. I heard a dog bark. On the top of the hill, a beagle was calling to Lola. He pulled on his leash to start down the hill. Lola tried to climb up the hill. We met in the middle of the trail instead. His name was Tony; he was one year and five months old.

Lola and Tony were happy to meet each other, but their joy was short-lived. I don't know what Tony did, but it went too far for Lola. She snapped at him, and that was that. I love that Lola will hold her own against other dogs.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Back to Cove Island Park

Last spring I took Lola to Cove Island every week or two. After Memorial Day, we couldn't go because we didn't have a resident parking sticker. Last week I remembered we could return now that the summer season is over.

Today Jeff was off for Election Day, and I didn't have any appointments. After we voted, we headed to Cove Island with Lola. She loved running around (albeit on a leash.) It was cold--in the mid-forties--but it felt colder because it's been so warm lately.

This is one of the good things about living with a dog. Lola gets us out walking and hiking. Otherwise on a day like today, Jeff and I probably would have just vegged inside.

Thanks Lola.

Monday, November 6, 2017

100 Years for NY Women

One hundred years ago today, New York State passed a constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote. This vote may have lead to the passage of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution three years later.

A hundred years. In some ways a blink of an eye. In another, a lifetime.

Tomorrow is election day in Norwalk. I will exercise my right to vote.

Lola the Brave



Today on the Norwalk River Valley Trail in Wilton (Sharp Hill Road to Twin Oak Lane) Lola was intrigued and scampered up this pile of rocks. Her descent was a bit more cautious. 


It's so much fun to hike with Lola. She is so happy to get out on the trails and always enjoys herself. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Spike and Lola and Fall Back

Today is Spike's birthday; he would have been 17. It's also Lola's half-way--based on her designated birthday of May 5.

Jeff cooked today. For breakfast, he made blueberry pancakes. We drank toasts of prosecco to Lola and Spike. Later we all went to Schenck's Island for a walk. It was raining lightly for much of our walk, but Lola was intrigued by various scents. I remember Spike also seemed to especially love the scents after it rained.

We had a snack of pumpkin-apple soup and toast in the late afternoon before I headed out for a tutoring appointment. When I returned Jeff had made a prosecco drink and a dinner of flank steak, broccoli and a veggie medley of potatoes, peppers, onion and garlic.(I love the term vegetable medley.) Delicious.

Then we watched Outlander and vegged: a nice evening together.

We miss you Spike; we'll love you forever.

Happy half-way day Lola: we will make you happy.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Early Night

The last few nights I've found myself falling asleep on the couch as we're watching some TV show or movie.

I'm going to guess that it's happening tonight because I got up around 6 AM. I woke around 4:30 and never got back to a deep sleep.

Too bad because it's fall back night. I should been enjoying another hour. Maybe I can be productive with that hour tomorrow.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Last DPF of the Season

When I saw Jenn and John on Halloween, I mentioned that it would be 70 degrees on Friday. I wanted try for one more DPF.

A few of us made it tonight for a short visit.

Here are some images.



Thursday, November 2, 2017

This is Fall?

Officially, we're six weeks into autumn, But it's 70 degrees.

I heard on the radio that this October was the warmest in history.

I tried not to think about the long term results of a warm fall (and warmer temperatures in general.) I'm trying to enjoy the current 70 degree weather.

Lola and I visited Winslow Park in Westport for about 45 minutes today. I try to go there every week or two. We met a a beagle named Brandy.

I had left Lola for about five hours earlier. I had a tutoring appointment in New Milford, then ran several errands: Bed, Bath and Beyond, Caroluzzi's Liquor Store, and Shop Rite. I owed her a good outing.

You can have a easy walk at Winslow by following paved paths. That's not Lola's way. Her way isn't particularly tough, but you have to watch your footing at times.

Hoping we can pull together one last DPF tomorrow.

The Baseball Season Ends Tonight

I love baseball.

Yes, the games are too long.

Yes, there are too many commercials.

No, I don't like the juiced balls.

But Game Sevens are awesome.

The season started off well for the Mets. Soon things went south. I guess the Mets season was over in June, though I still continued to watch and hope.

As the post season started, I was rooting for the Cleveland Indians. They had come so close to winning last year and had the longest World Series winning drought. The Yankees eliminated them in the first round.

I don't like the Yankees. I'd only root for them if they were playing the cannibal Nazis. I don't like the Nationals. There was a year when I rooted for them. It must have been before Bryce Harper; I can't stand him.

I worried that with my luck 2017 would bring a World Series of Yankees v. Nationals. At least I was spared that.

So I rooted for Houston in the ALCS. I was ambivalent about the Dodgers/Chicago.

Onto the World Series. I would not have selected these teams. But: We may not always get the world champion we want, but we’re definitely getting the world championship we deserve.

I'm rooting for Houston. They've never won a world series, and the city's recovering from a hurricane. My sister used to say we don't root outside our league. As much as I  hate the designated hitter, I don't feel the same way.

As I wrote that last line, they did it. Congratulations Houston.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

NaBloPoMo

I'm going for it again: NaBloPoMo even though I can't find a 2017 link via Google.

As I typed that line I got this email. Good timing.

I also got a NaNoWriMo email the other day from my old Linked-In group. That's too ambitious for me.

NaBloPoMo is enough of a stretch for me. I've barely bloggd lately.

Here I go.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween Happenings

After Jeff got home from work tonight, we stopped by Jenn and John's in our Halloween costumes. Most of their block was decorated, and the streets were filled with trick-or-treaters. It was awesome. It reminded me of a day that I thought was long gone: a day of trick-or-treating. OK, these trick-or-treaters went around their neighborhood with their parents; we were allowed to go by ourselves.

We spent about an hour with Jenn and John--had heaven and hell themed jello shots--their treats for the parents--handed out candy, and visited. It was fun and a big difference from our place--we haven't had trick-or-treaters in years.

On Saturday the 21st, we went to our second Haunting at Mill Hill. Like last year, we heard tales of six Norwalkers and their deaths. This year added a haunted maze. Fun.

Jenn and John had their annual Halloween party on the 14th. The theme was heaven and hell.  I wore a costume that I really liked: St. Roch the patron saint of dogs. I word a brown robe that Jeff had used for a previous costume. I bought a tonsure wig, a curtain tie as a rope, and Jeff bought me a large cross. I carried a stuffed beagle to complete my costume. Jeff went as Thor. We saw lots of angels and devils, another monk or two, even Jesus. The couple next door had the best costumes: stairway to heaven and the road to hell. Both consisted of sandwich boards (for lack of a better word.) One depicted a highway--wired with lights. The road to hell was decorated with small cars. Great from the couple who previously  used "poster boards "for devil dogs and angel food cakes.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Two New Brews

I was driving home from a tutoring appointment last week and saw a sign for a brewery. I was psyched to see one nearby--Jeff and I enjoy sampling flights. We saw online that the grand opening was on Saturday. We decided to check it out. After all, we had a good time at the grand opening of Sedona Tap House.

When we reached Nod Hill, we saw a line outside. I usually don't wait in line, but the line didn't seem that long, it was a warm day, and we had driven for a half-hour to get there. A tent was set up outside with Hoodoo Brown BBQ  for sale. We ate a sandwich as we waited to enter the taproom.

Unfortunately, we had to wait another 20 minutes for a a beer. I wouldn't have gone inside if I knew how long the wait would be. As we waited, I said that we should have gone to Hell or High Water in Norwalk, a brewpub that seemed to take forever to open, but we hadn't visited yet. Jeff mentioned we could have visited The Redding Beer Co. I hadn't even heard of that--it just opened two weeks earlier.

Redding Beer Co. was on the way home so we went there. Apparently it was also packed on its opening day, but it was mellow last Saturday.

Two breweries, two good flights.

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Year-and-a-Half with Lola

Sunday was our anniversary with Lola. It's been great getting to know her, and watching her become more comfortable with us and sure of herself. Here's the story of her first few days here.

Several people have commented on how much friendlier and confident Lola is. As one said, she prances around the dog park with her head held high. This week she even walked for about a block on the sidewalk (twice.) Our parking lot spaces were re-striped and we had to park on the street.

We're still going to a park or trail everyday for daily walks. Lola would get more walking time if she were willing to walk around the neighborhood. We haven't pushed this hard because she gets for frightened. But it's a long range goal to walk locally.

In a few weeks, we'll be going away to the Interlaken Inn with Lola for the first time. She's only been to Jeff's sister's place overnight with us before and didn't adjust well to that.But I think she's ready for more and will do well at Interlaken. It has nice grounds, and is close to lots of hiking. We can all use a getaway.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

On Dad, Greg, Bill and Elaine

Today is my father's birthday--he would have been 93. His death came as a shock to me, although I knew he was in bad health. Part of me was relieved because it was hard for me to be here in Connecticut while he was in Florida. One time I called the hospital after he was admitted with a knee injury. A nurse asked if I was going to pick him up. I told her I wouldn't do much good up in Connecticut with a cast on my leg. When I visited him after that, we were cane twins, hobbling around together.

I mostly miss Dad to reflect on shared memories of trips, hear family stories and share music. Jeff and I had planned to spend Christmas with him the year he died--in April. I regret we never made that trip.

Just about a month ago, my cousin Greg died. Greg was my second cousin--I still think of him as the boy on a family vacation to Disney World that my sister organized. I think he was about seven. He was 39 when he died, with a wife and two children. I don't think I've seen Greg since 2011.

That may have been the last time I saw any of my cousins. Greg's death has me thinking more about this. I'd like to see them. Several live within a reasonable driving distance (about three hours.) But I know realistically that I'm not suddenly going to go visiting everyone. One cousin wants to come here to visit, but not in winter. So I guess we can only agree to try to see each other.

Next, I'm thinking about my friends. I know several people I call friends who don't live nearby. But how can I think of making plans to see them when I don't see the friends who are close?

Our friend Bill died in April. I hadn't seen him often, but did visit him a few times in a rehabilitation complex before he died. Even that didn't inspire me to spend more time with other friends.

Last week I discovered that Elaine is in intensive care after brain surgery. Elaine was my first real friend in Connecticut. We were roommates for a few years too. Recently we drifted apart. It was no-one's fault: just one of those things.

Again, wasted opportunities and regrets.

Monday, October 9, 2017

At Taylor Farm

We go to Taylor Farm every Friday for Dog Park Fridays when the weather is good before daylight savings time makes it too dark too early.

Lola and I also visited Taylor Farm on Tuesday last week. I wanted to get salmon at Pagano's and Taylor Farm is convenient to Pagano's.We saw Kevin and his dog Tipper. Spike loved Kevin because he had treats. Jeff and I love Kevin because he was the one who saw Lola when she was lost last year and called us.

Lola and I also saw the black squirrel. I hadn't seen him for a while, so I was psyched. Kevin and I chatted about black squirrels in other towns.

The clouds seemed especially billowy and vertical. I only got one photo before they dissipated. Unfortunately, it doesn't capture what I saw.




A few other photos from DPF's at Taylor Farm.




Wednesday, October 4, 2017

RIP Tom Petty

After a day of confused and conflicting reports, it became official Monday night: Tom Petty is dead at 66.

For most of yesterday, I had "American Girl" running through my head. Later it was "Free Fallin." Funny how my favorite Tom Petty song, "The Waiting" didn't make an appearance.

This morning I woke up thinking about the song, "You Got Lucky."

No, we didn't.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Last Chance for September Post

I'm forcing myself to post tonight.

I'm tired. I'm watching the Mets and reading things on the Internet: tips on time management and frugality, latest Trump rantings, a random blog one of my (few) followers follows. But I had planned to write here tonight, and so I am. 

My class is off this weekend for Yom Kippur. I thought it would be a good time to get in some extra tutoring, but that didn't work so well. I had one session this afternoon. On the plus side, I got to sleep in a bit (8:45 or so) and went to the gym--only my second visit this month. I decided I need to schedule gym visits. There's no reason why I can't go three times this week. I'll start Monday. 

Tomorrow I have two tutoring appointments. Unfortunately, these are at the homes of students who live the farthest apart. I start at 1 PM, have an hour of driving from one to another (that's with no traffic) and won't get home until 7:15-7:30. I'll take Lola for a walk/hike in the morning, marinate a pork tenderloin for dinner. Jeff can cook it so we can eat as soon as I get home and watch Outlander.

Our DPFs (Dog Park Fridays) are winding down; we have four more at most before daylight savings ends. This makes me sad because I enjoy these visits. We have a core group who have been meeting for years, while others have come and gone. I'll have to make an effort to see these friends more often during the late fall and winter. 

Speaking of dog park, Lola also enjoys socializing. Our friend Jeff commented last night about how much friendlier and outgoing she was. 

The Mets, in the 11th inning of their penultimate game, won 7-4 over the Phillies. It's been a sad season. I started out with high hopes. Then things fell apart. I don't remember who went down first. But the Mets fell like dominoes. One more game.  

On to October.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Happy Birthday Jeff

For Jeff's birthday, we went to Sedona Taphouse (STH) for dinner. I had suggested that he see if  he could work from home today. He did, so we could get off to an earlier start this evening. Before STH, we took Lola to Taylor Farm for about an hour. It was warm enough (and more--we had high's in the mid-80's) to take Lola with us to STH. As always, it was a good meal.

I also made penne a la vodka and salad for Jeff on Sunday at his request. Our appetizer was lobster bruschetta. I bought a quarter pound of lobster and had enough to make smallish lobster rolls for lunch today. And I discovered today was National Lobster Day--a good omen.

Happy Birthday Jeff! Hope you enjoyed your day.

On Time-Tracking, Schedules, Errands and To-Do's

As Lola and I walked Schenck's Island Thursday, I was thinking about time-tracking, goals, etc. of this post's title.

I do much better when I have an appointment scheduled in the morning. I love a lazy morning, but I can't have one several times a week and expect to get anything done! (I'm not a fan of exclamation points, but I need one there.)

I've been tracking my time this week. I was most productive when I had hard deadlines to be somewhere. On Wednesday, I had to take my mother to the eye doctor, picking her up at 10:15. I took Lola to the park, then combined errands with picking up Mom. I didn't get home until about 2:30 (included lunch with Mom.) It was efficient to join those errands together, but I felt guilty about leaving Lola alone for so much time. At least, I made it up to her. I took her to to two parks--Oystershell in the morning and Taylor Farm in the evening.

Having an irregular work schedule can make it difficult to plan. But most of that is on me. Many others deal with the same situation successfully.

Why can't I?

Written 09-16-17.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

“Did He Get Injured?”

Here’s the scene. I’m watching the Mets-Cubs game.

The Mets have been pitiful, giving up the most runs in a series in their history. In the top of the ninth, rookie Tomas Nido gets his first major league hit and RBI. Jeff takes Lola out for her last pee of the day.

Later Nido is thrown out at home trying to score on an infield hit. For the third out. Mets lose 14-6.

When Jeff came him, I said he wouldn't believe what happened. I set up the scene. Jeff asked, “Did he get injured?”

I cracked up. That sums up the Mets season.

P.S. Rosario and D'Arnaud were injured in this game. 


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Reading Update

My reading has definitely slowed down since I've posted about re-reading Game of Thrones. It took me over a month (not sure exactly) to finish.

Then I started Walden. I soon realized that the edition I was reading was not the full work, but selections. I'm okay with that. I find some of the selections more interesting than others. I was distracted by references to the "savages" and some disdain toward the Irish. But there are some beautiful thoughts and language that I will post about in the future.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Time Tracking Revisited

Laura Vanderkam is "hosting" a 168 Hours Time Tracking Challenge. I decided to try this again.

I got up around 6:40 and remembered that I was time-tracking. Yesterday I saved the excel timesheet on my desktop so I could access it easily. I opened it first thing and made some entries.

Unfortunately, sometime during the late afternoon, I realized that I had forgotten to keep up with the spreadsheet. I did my best at re-creating my day. Most of my day was spent on cleaning and re-organizing the kitchen. Bur I'm sure I wasn't as focused as my entries may suggest.

Try for more accurate tracking tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Hiking Update

When I last posted about hiking goals, I had made it up to seven new trails to hike with Lola in 2017 of my goal of 10.

Since then, I added another part of the Wilton loop of the Norwalk River Valley Trail--across Merwin Meadows Park to the upper school loop. We also visited the Still River Greenway in Brookfield and a trail in Wilton Woods.

So we made it to 10, and we have many other new trails to explore. Lola will be a happy girl.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Poetry and Oysters

An odd juxtaposition? Not in Norwalk. I recently attended a poetry workshop, "Oystering Then and Now" at City Hall.

We read poems about oysters, crabs and the earth, discussed poetry "rules" and explored prompts. We also looked at the oystering exhibit in the Mayor's Gallery as well as the WPA murals. After the workshop, we enjoyed oysters and beers in the gallery, and shared our poetry.

I was glad to share in a creative endeavor--it's been a while. I was especially interested because the WPA murals were part of the program.  As a docent, I've grown to love the murals and what they mean to Norwalk.

Oysters and beer were a bonus.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

An August Saturday

 About a month ago, I saw a listing for the Blackberry Festival at the White Silo Winery. We've visited many times before and enjoyed the fruit wine. We returned last Saturday.

Before we went to the Winery, we walked the Still River Greenway. I had read about it here in The New York Times shortly after I saw the notice about the Festival. It seemed like a good idea to combine the two.

On the drive up, we hit a detour, so it took us an extra 20 minutes or so to make the 45 minute ride. Lola was thrilled to get out of the car.

We started at the end of the trail near the police station; my reasoning was that it would be easier to find the police station than a random parking lot. The downside was that we were close to Route 7 with all the traffic noise. It got quieter as we continued. We saw several people on bikes and a few walkers. We didn't think we had enough time to walk the whole Greenway and make it to the winery. We walked one loop for about 35 minutes.

Dogs are no longer allowed in the tasting room at White Silo, so Lola and I secured a table outside. Jeff went in and got blackberry sangria, chips and hummus, and quinoa cakes with blackberry salsa. Unfortunately for Jeff, the quinoa cakes had cilantro in them--he's allergic--so Lola and I split them. As we ate and drank, we listened to singers and guitar players.

On our last visit we found a trail leading from the outdoor patio.



We weren't sure how long the trail was. On Saturday, we agreed to walk for 15 minutes and then return. Here are a few of the sights. 



It was humid and buggy, and a real hike: up an down hills, walking across tree roots, fallen logs and rocks.

We decided to have another glass of wine. Jeff bought a bottle of raspberry wine and had it opened. We took the rest home. We relaxed, listened to more music, but left when Lola got agitated. 

Overall, a nice summer day. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Getting Back on the Horse

That is, posting on this blog. It's not the best analogy. I haven't had an experience comparable to falling off the horse.

It's been five weeks since my last post. It's not that I had nothing to say. It's not that I didn't have time. Time just gets away from us. I prioritized other things over posting, journaling and working out.

I taught a SAT class in July; ten classes and four tests. I hadn't taught a SAT class since last July. I did a lot of review for this class (one of the missed opportunities in June.) Before the SAT class ended, an ACT class started. Then I got two tutoring students, then another two.

I'm not complaining--I need and want work--but this kind of work requires several adjustments--from test-to-test, from morning-to-evening classes. I never really got into the morning class schedule because it ended after just three-and-a-half weeks. It's the same thing with the evening class. I have two sessions left and I'm glad. I don't like evening classes--they mess up my dinner and sleep schedules.

I've been thinking about the things that I haven't done in the past month-and-a-half: blogging, working out--at least I've walked a lot with Lola. I made her a priority after teaching/tutoring and associated prep. I've barely journaled. I've done minimal cleaning. (To be honest, I don't think I've ever done maximum cleaning.)

Summer's Almost Gone. I didn't even make my summer fun list. I guess I can work on last year's.

So, here I am, trying to figure things out. Let's see how it goes from here.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Two Roads to Asylum

A few weeks ago at a jazz concert, we sampled local gin, vodka and whiskey. Today we visited the Asylum Distillery in Bridgeport for a 4 PM tour. We decided to add-on a visit to Two Roads; we've been meaning to check that out for a long time.

We tasted five beers at Two Roads. then five spirits: vodka. gin, corn whiskey, aged corn whiskey, ginger flavored vodka (a win-win for us) at Asylym. Perhaps the best part was tasting some of the flavorings the distillery was testing: cinnamon, cucumber, caraway, coriander, cardamom, lemongrass. Everyone correctly guessed cinnamon; a few of us got cucumber. No one guessed caraway (and I love rye bread with caraway seeds.) It was a fun afternoon.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Happy 200th Birthday Henry David Thoreau

I learned about Thoreau's birthday in this article in the Sunday New York Times Magazine.

I've never gone off to live in the wilderness. I only went camping once. But I love hiking on trails, in parks and in preserves. I snatch what little pieces of nature that I can; I find it peaceful and meditative to walk in those pieces of nature.

After I read the essay, I realized that I haven't read Walden. I vaguely remember reading an essay or two, but not the complete work.

Then I remembered that we have this copy of Walden. I checked the bookshelf and also found this book by Thoreau.

I've got my next two books to read lined up.


Catching Up on...June

June was a missed opportunity.

June was the month where I should have caught up on long term projects.

I barely worked. It would have been the perfect time to do all the new SAT and ACT practice tests and to clean, reorganize and re-decorate our second bedroom.

All I can say is that I did very few of those things.

Here we are approaching mid-July, and I'm still catching up on the things I should have done in June.

What can I say? I can't get back the time of June that I lost. I just have to muddle ahead.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Four Leaf Clover

It was rainy most of the day. I took Lola out to the back yard in the early afternoon and found this: my first four leaf clover. I can use a symbol of good luck and the good luck that comes with it.  

Unfortunately, I can't find specific types of luck.

Oh well, I'll take what I can.



Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Seven of Ten

Today we visited our seventh new trail of the year: another part of the Wilton loop of the Norwalk River Valley Trail: the west side loop. We walked behind a restaurant in Wilton Center around a field, across Merwin Meadows Park. I had heard of Merwin Meadows, but didn't know there was a lake and beach there.

We walked along the river and took the fork towards Wilton High. We can try the upper school loop another day. We all enjoyed the walk.

Earlier we had lunch at Sedona Tap House: Wagyu beef and pulled pork sliders and stuffed jalapenos.

A nice holiday.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Six of Ten

Today I made progress on my goal of exploring ten new hiking spots with Lola this year. We went to Oak Hills Park. Oak Hills is primarily known for its golf course. It also has tennis courts, a restaurant and nature trails.

We've gone to Oak Hills with Spike a few times. But there are new trails now. We started on the blue trail, which is the steeper one, crossed over to the yellow trail on our way back. It was a short hike of 25 minutes, but it was around 1 PM and hot and humid. We went out to Taylor Farm later when it was cooler for another short walk.

It was nice to take another step toward my hiking goal.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

A Lazy Summer Saturday Morning

We didn't have anything scheduled for today until a dinner with my mother at five. So Jeff and I just relaxed this morning. I got up around 8, went out front to pick up my New York Times: I couldn't wait to get my word game. I've gotten quite good at it: I regularly achieve genius status in just a few hours. For today's puzzle, I'm at genius level but still struggling to find the word that uses all seven letters.

When I got the paper, I also got a surprise: a package from Plated. The contents were still cold: two good dinners of seared steak with potatoes and tomato vinaigrette and salmon poke with seaweed salad.

I lingered over my puzzle, journal, email, newspaper and breakfast. I made the bed and did the dishes from last night's dinner.

I only felt slightly guilty.

Am I A Summer Child?

My last post on the Mets was an optimistic one. It was obviously a good night for Curtis, but as I wrote, I wanted to hope and wanted to believe.

But then the Nationals came to town. They won the first three games, with the Mets salvaging the fourth. Next the Mets headed to Los Angeles where the Dodgers beat up on them for four games. The only good thing about the series was that it was on too late for us to witness the massacres.

I  began to wonder: am I just being naive? Am I a summer child from Game of Thrones?

Oh, my sweet summer child," Old Nan said quietly, "what do you know of fear? Fear is for the winter, my little lord, when the snows fall a hundred feet deep and the ice wind comes howling out of the north. Fear is for the long night, when the sun hides its face for years at a time, and little children are born and live and die all in darkness while the direwolves grow gaunt and hungry, and the white walkers move through the woods.” ― George R.R. MartinA Game of Thrones

Is my winter a disastrous season for the Mets? Who are the white walkers?

Thank goodness the next stop for the Mets on their west coast swing was San Francisco. This time the Mets swept the Giants. I wondered maybe I wasn't a summer child. But as someone (Keith Hernandez I think) said this doesn't mean the Mets are good. It's just that the Giants are so bad.

The next series in Miami started badly, but the Mets won the last two games and the series.

Back home the Mets beat the Phillies in their first two games. It's been a roller coaster two weeks of Mets baseball.

I can't let it go without discussing the death of Anthony Young. AY was the definition of a bad luck pitcher: despite his respectable ERA of 3.89, AY holds the Mets record of 27 straight losses. AY was liked and respected by the Mets faithful. We're sorry to lose him so soon.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Summer Saturday

Today was a great summer day.

Jeff and I visited the New Canaan Farmers Market. Our priority was to get some pasta--the best ravioli I've ever had. We also got pesto, hummus, tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, kale and chocolate mousse.

Next we headed to the Norwalk Art Festival in Mathews Park. We saw some beautiful paintings, jewelry and some awesome "transformer" wooden baskets. Jeff picked up lunch from Blue Cactus Grill and then we took Lola for an hour walk at the Wilton Loop of the Norwalk River Valley Trail.

We came home and changed and visited a contemporary art fair in Westport. Back home again I made dinner: duck breast with fresh strawberries, sweet potato, asparagus with Parmesan cheese and a salad of tomato and cucumber. Don't forget chocolate mousse and raspberries for dessert. A delicious meal.

To top off the evening the Mets beat the Giants 5-2.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Welcome Summer!

Wednesday was the first day of summer and the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.

It was also the opening reception for the Iconic Norwalk photograph competition. Jeff and I went to check it out. It was nice, but smaller than we expected.

Since it was the longest day for us, we took Lola to Taylor Farm for an evening visit.

Looking forward to a good summer.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Live Jazz Night

On Saturday night, Jeff and I went to a jazz show at the Carriage Barn Arts Center in Waveny Park in New Canaan. In addition to the jazz, we saw the current exhibit, and sampled some local spirits and chocolates.

There were a few problems. The venue was too hot; surprisingly that didn't effect me--maybe because I had a cold--but I could see that it bothered Jeff. More importantly, several people just milled around and talked through the entire performance--loudly. I tried to ignore them, but it was hard.

We left a little early because it was hot and I didn't feel well, but enjoyed the music. I expect we'll return to Carriage Barn Arts Center.

Goodbye Bill

Jeff and I went to a memorial service Saturday for our friend Bill who died at the end of April.

I've always thought that funerals are barbaric--gazing at the corpse--hearing people say the deceased looks good. Memorial services are much better. Maybe you can't escape the sadness, but the focus is on celebration.

We saw a slideshow of photographs over the years with the soundtrack of James Taylor's cover of You've Got a Friend and John Denver's Sunshine on my Shoulders. A minister who didn't know Bill led the service. Bill's sister Janet and two friends spoke. The minister ended the service by playing Bill's favorite hymn.

I was surprised to hear about some of Bill's travels. He had been to Nepal and climbed the pyramid at Chichen Itza. Jeff and I also climbed Chichen Itza--we could have shared memories.

I wonder what other friends' stories I've been missing.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Three with Margaret Lindsay

Here a a few of TCM's offerings that I saw over the last few days.

Caught a quickie--60 minutes long--yesterday: 1936's Isle of Fury. In addition to Margaret Lindsay, it stars Humphrey Bogart. The film begins with their wedding, which is interrupted by a shipwreck which brings a new arrival (Donald Woods) as a rival to Bogart. The problem is that the romantic rivalry is never really developed or possibly too subtle under the Production Code. Bogart and Woods become best buddies despite the underlying conflict between their positions. I can't discuss this film without mentioning the stupid octopus attack. The whole sequence makes no sense. Bogart is going pearl diving to show the natives it's not dangerous. But he wears a deep sea diving suit--they have no such equipment. The octopus is ludicrous. Then Woods dives in--sans suit--and saves Bogart. Strange.

I had previously seen and recently recorded Fog Over Frisco (1934.) This stars Lindsay and Woods along with the great Bette Davis. Davis is the "bad influence" sister of Lindsay and is involved in securities fraud. She pays for her crimes by dying halfway through the film. This is one of her few early films that Davis enjoyed. It's fast paced and fairly complex with good San Francisco location shots. Although some IMDB users compared Fog Over Frisco to Psycho, the comparisons are few. Both films involved the star stealing money and both stars died in the first half of the movie.

Today's film was Private Detective 62 (1933). This time Lindsay stars with William Powell. They had great chemistry. Come to think of it, I can't think of anyone Powell didn't have good chemistry with. (I would love to re-watch Fashions of 1934 to see him with Davis.) Powell plays a moral "private detective" in an immoral profession. He reluctantly takes a job to discredit Lindsay, but falls in love instead. He ultimately saves her from being framed for murder.

To sum up: Isle of Fury is only worth watching for fans of Bogart, Warner Brothers B films and bad octopi. The other two are much more enjoyable.

Congratulations Curtis on 300!

Last night Curtis Granderson hit his 300th career home run joining an elite group. 

It wasn't just a personal triumph for Curtis; he broke a 4-4 tie in the Mets' rubber match with the World Champion Cubs.The Mets exploded for five runs in the eighth inning for a 9-4 win.

Last night's win provides great momentum for an important four-game series against the Washington Nationals starting tonight. Dare I hope for a sweep? It will bring the Mets up to .500 and they'll close to 4.5 games behind the Nats in the National League East.

Last Sunday I overheard two guys at Southbury Dog Park discussing the Mets. One thought the Mets didn't have a chance to get back into the pennant race.

I want to hope. I want to believe. It will be tough, but stranger things have happened.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Connecticut Open House Day

Saturday was Open House Day here in Connecticut.

One local event was a tour of WPA murals as well as an outing on a oyster boat. I led one of the mural tours, and Jeff and I were psyched to get out to the Norwalk Harbor. It was a a beautiful day. We learned a lot about the oyster business.

We also went to the re-opening of Mill Hill. The grounds had been landscaped with new signage added. We also enjoyed an art show which included preliminary versions of Alexander Rummler's WPA murals.

After Mill Hill, we headed home to pick up Lola for an hour hike at Cranbury Park. To top off the day, the Mets swept a double header, and Jeff cooked dinner.

It was a good day.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Mis-Scheduling

Last Sunday we bought a dishwasher. Our current machine hasn't been working properly for some time; it would stop in mid-cycle. It wasn't so bad if it happened once, but it got to he point that it took all day to run a full cycle.

I thought the dishwasher would be delivered today. I had selected an 8 to 12 window. But d'oh. The actual delivery date is next Thursday, the 15th. I was annoyed because I adjusted my schedule around the delivery time today. It's not a big deal; I worked on some things that I could do at home, but it wasn't the best use of time.

One of my most exasperating traits is that when I have extra time to get somewhere I manage to just make it or I'm a little late. Similarly when I have a full day to do something, I often don't accomplish anything.

Sometimes this failure to accomplish things extends into weeks. When I have a week free, I often waste most of it.

I've been working on this by tracking my time, making to-do lists and plans. But it's frustrating to see how easily I can be thrown off my game. Next week, I have to devote another morning home for the real delivery. Another day I have to take my mother to her ear doctor.

And so it goes

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Re-reading Game of Thrones with an Assist

I started my re-read about two weeks ago and am around 40 percent through the book (borrowed from my brother.) I'm trying to read carefully to see clues that I missed in my first reading.

Originally I read the book after watching the first season of HBO's Game of Thrones, starting sometime in the summer of 2011. Technically I read a package of the first four books on Kindle. I'm ambivalent on reading on Kindles. It's certainly convenient for carrying a variety of books. On the other hand, I prefer the tactile nature of books. Plus it's so much easier to to move backwards and forwards, to check the maps and appendix of houses.

After several chapters, I remembered this website, Race for the Iron Throne. I have caught up to the chapter by chapter analysis (okay, I still have to read the analysis of the chapter I read last night (listed on the website as Eddard VII.) Race for the Iron Throne analyses each chapter with insights from all of the books of A Song of Ice and Fire as well as HBO's Game of Throne, and historical perspectives.

The show's seventh season will start in five-and-a-half weeks. I'm not sure how far I'll get in my re-read by then. I've decided to re-read the first three books. I'm also re-watching the show on demand. I should be able to keep things straight with help from Race for the Iron Throne.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Twin Peaks Update

Although we still haven't re-watched Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me, Jeff and I started the new season on Showtime. We watched the first three episodes twice. I still don't understand what's going on, but I'm not as lost.

One major issue for me: the show has no charm. In the original Agent Cooper was enchanted by fresh air, pines, cherry pie and coffee. The characters were quirky and intriguing. The new season is lacking all that. It's hardly in Twin Peaks at all: the original show characters mostly appear as cameos.

For now I'll keep watching and hope the charm returns.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Binge-Watching Twin Peaks

I had just gotten to episode two of season one about two weeks ago. Well, I finished the eight episodes of season one and 22 episodes of season two by May 29th. I belatedly discovered that Showtime would only have the original series on demand until May 30th--binge time. Yesterday, I found that Showtime had reinstated the complete series as well as the film Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me. I have to re-watch that film--as I recall it's gruesome--but my memories are vague.

Back to the original series, I loved it originally and on re-watch. My memories of the second season were vague (like the movie.) I think I enjoyed most of the story lines the first time around. On re-watch, I'm more critical.

Going from eight to 22 episodes was a mistake. The writers had to add too many subplots that weren't particularly entertaining. The worst offenders were James and his journey to low-rate noir and Benjamin's Horne's Civil War interlude. Neither story had any relation to the overall season arc.

Another problem was teenage Nadine. This subplot was kind of funny, but again had no relation to the season arc. Hmm, was teenage Nadine the inspiration for Dena Higley's teenage Jess on One Life to Live? For the record, Nadine's storyline was much better.

We watched the first new episodes of the new Twin Peaks--not sure what to make of it. I think I need a re-watch to figure out what's going on.

A Blessing

Today was a blessing of the animals at Do Ngak Kunphen Ling Tibetan Buddhist Center for Universal Peace in Redding. We had driven by the Center before but hadn't visited. The Center is located on 100 acres of woods and meadow. Before the blessing ceremony, Lola loved exploring the grounds. This setting was more dog friendly than the church building where Spike was blessed. Also, this blessing will extend into Lola's next lives. 

We heard from a photographer who's done a series of pit bull portraits with flower crowns. After a series of prayers, we lined up for the blessing. More prayers followed, and then we headed to Putnam Park.

This was our second visit with Lola to Putnam Park. We walked the main loop which took about a half hour before returning home.

All in all, a lovely day.