Friday, November 17, 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 email expressing concern about lack of a meeting, as if I were a fault. I had answered every previous email with suggested times to meet.
  • 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 a continental 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 Blog 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 Oystershell 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 starts. 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.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Five Years Ago Today...

the Mets finally got their first no-hitter. It took 8,020 games (better late than never.)

There wasn't much to cheer about in the 2012 Mets season. Their season record was 74-88, fourth in the NL East. But we had Johan Santana's no-hitter, plus 20 wins and a Cy Young award for RA Dickey.

I haven't given up on this year yet, but the Mets have a long climb just to get back to a .500 record.

I hope to have more to celebrate.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Five of Ten

It's been a while, but today we hit a fifth new hiking spot with Lola. My goal is to go to 10 new spots this year.

Today we visited Farm Creek Preserve in Rowayton. It's a nice property, but much smaller than we expected. It only took us about 15 minutes to walk around it. Lola enjoyed it.

We had to pass Rowayton dog park on the way home. We would have stopped there but the field was closed. Funny at both Farm Creek and and Rowayton, we saw women painting landscapes with dogs at their sides. I wondered if today was paint with your dog day. Lola will have to be much more mellow before I can try that with her.

Then we went to Taylor Farm for a loop around the park. We saw another beagle there and a beagle/English bulldog mix. From there, we stopped at Nik's for lunch.

I had to tutor later in the day, but Jeff and Lola also visited the Wilton loop of the Norwalk River Valley Trail--a great day for Lola.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Catching Up with a Trio of Bette Davis Films on TCM

Recent TCM offerings include: The Girl from Tenth Avenue, The Golden Arrow and That Certain Woman.

Let's start with The Girl from Tenth Avenue (1935.) This is one of my favorites of the early Bette Davis "fluff" movies. Bette had already shown her acting chops in Bordertown and Of Human Bondage. Warners shouldn't have wasted her in this. But I still found it fun and wrote about it here. I enjoyed Bette's scenes with Alison Skipworth, who coaches Bette on how to be a lady. Full disclosure: The book Mother Goddamn by Whitney Stine with commentary by Bette Davis categorizes The Girl from Tenth Avenue as one of "Three Stinkers All in A Row."

The Golden Arrow: I think this is more of a stinker than The Girl from Tenth Avenue. Here Bette is pretending to be a face cream heiress to get publicity for the company. She inexplicably falls in love with reporter George Brent, who inexplicably falls for her when he learns she's a fake Huh? Enough said. At least The Girl from Tenth Avenue had Alison Skipworth and a thrown grapefruit. What a letdown die Bette from her roles in Dangerous and The Petrified Forest. 

That Certain Woman: This movie annoys me. Of course, Bette and Donald Crisp are good, as are the supporting players, especially Anita Louise. But Henry Fonda can't do anything with the weak character of Jack Merrick. How could Bette love him? Weak is too weak of a word to describe him. As someone who loves soap operas, the plot is too soapy for me. Apparently, Bette thought it was an important step in her career to work with director Edmund Goulding (per Mother Goddamn.) It's hard for me to understand this based on this film.

Luckily, better roles would be coming for Bette.

Sara Paretsky's Fallout

I've read all 18 of the VI Warshawski novels and a few of the short stories. Sometimes it gets hard to keep straight what stories go with what titles. I enjoyed the entire series, but I remember the more recent stories better than the older books. Of the earlier novels, Killing Orders, Blood Shot, Burn Marks and Hard Times are the most memorable.

I read the last six VI books in the last three months. Of these, I liked Critical Mass and the latest Fallout the best.

Fallout takes VI out of Chicago and into Lawrence, Kansas (hometown of Sara Paretsky.) VI's case combines unknown parentage, drug abuse, mental illness, political protest, national security and missing persons. VI breaks down barriers of small town residents closing ranks and racial prejudice to solve the case.

As a dog lover, I especially enjoy Peppy's role in saving the day.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Midweek Update

Monday was my birthday. I'm not crazy about my age, but that's no reason not to celebrate. I'm not about to lie and shave years off my age. Age is probably the best reason to say, "It is what it is."

I had some vague ideas about my day: go to the gym, take a long walk with Lola, go to the antiques center in Norwalk (I've never been) maybe do something arty, maybe look for hiking boots.

I did none of the above.

On Friday night, I had an accident with Lola at the dog park, and ended up with a sore right shoulder and a pulled muscle in my right thigh. I still haven't gotten back to the gym. It rained most of Monday. I took Lola to Oystershell Park, and we were soaked after our half hour walk.

I vegged most of the day, playing yahtzee, re-watching Twin Peaks (before we watch the revival.)  I did a little work, checking answers to a practice SAT test I had taken on Sunday afternoon. Jeff started a new project and got home before 5. We went to Sedona Tap House for charity steak with our friend Chris. We were home by 7; it felt like 10.

***  

Jeff is able to sleep in for an hour and a half longer now than he did when he worked in lower Manhattan. He's also home about an hour earlier. It's a nice change, but I'm still getting used to it. 

***

On Saturday afternoon, I met Jeff and Lola at Bruce Park after I tutored in Greenwich. It's always fun to surprise Lola--I also did it at Taylor Farm yesterday. I like to see the moment when she recognizes me and runs toward me. I saw several black squirrels at Bruce Park. There is one iconic black squirrel at Taylor Farm. I got a kick out of seeing so many on Saturday. I took a few photos but couldn't get close enough to get a good one. 

***

Today I took Lola back to the Wilton loop of the Norwalk River Valley Trail. She likes to take the shorter loop from the parking lot on Autumn Ridge. I saw several chipmunks; they are so cute. I chose NRVT because it is an easy walk. Yesterday I stepped funny on a branch and it hurt my pulled thigh muscle. I had the idea of taking Lola to Cranbury but thought it might be too ambitious. 

***

I'm bummed about my accident with Lola. I had been getting into a good workout groove. It's so hard to get there, but so easy to lose the routine. 

***

I finished the latest Sara Paretsky book, Fallout  last week. A post will follow. I'm re-reading Game of Thrones. Maybe I'll re-read the first three books of A Song of Ice and Fire. I'd like to compare Book Two Arya with Roose Bolton to show season two with Arya and Tywin Lannister. Then there's the Red Wedding in Book Three. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

TV Time--Spring 2017--Part Two

Girls: I'm ambivalent about this show. I've enjoyed it enough to watch every episode, but I don't like any of the characters. I didn't like the Hannah pregnancy story line though it was better than I expected. 

The Expanse: We started watching this show because it was described as "Game of Thrones in space." That's not an accurate description beyond the fact that there are various factions competing for power: earthers martians and belters. What will happen next with the protomolecule?

Feud: We recorded this and still have three more episodes to watch. As a huge Bette Davis fan, I was psyched to see this. I was curious to see how Susan Sarandon handled the role. She had been a favorite of mine, but lately she's bugged. I don't care that she supported Bernie Sanders, but she was so dismissive of anyone who supported Hillary. She claimed she didn't vote with her vagina, implying that's what Hillary supporters did. But she ended up voted for Jill Stein. Was her vagina involved?

At any rate, I try to watch performances without thinking about politics. Sarandon is pretty good as Davis. Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford is also good, though I'm less familiar with her story. Kathy Bates is how I imagine Joan Blondell and Catherine Zeta Jones exudes Olivia de Haviland's sophisticated cool. Looking forward to catching the rest of the series.

Fargo: The third season has a new cast and a new set of characters. I must admit that I'm not enjoying this season as much as I enjoyed previous seasons, especially season two.But it's still a good show, and I can't wait for the next episode. I'm intrigued by the Stussy brothers as well as Nikki Swango.

Twin Peaks: The new Twin Peaks or return to Twin Peaks or whatever is starting tonight. But I don't feel ready for it. I barely remember the second season. I've read that one should watch both seasons and the movie Fire Walk with Me before watching the new show. So far we're on the second episode of the first season: a long way to go.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Lola's Hiking Philosophy

When we're at parks, Lola likes to go off the trails through fields and woods. As we crossed a field at Winslow Park on Thursday, I remembered this quote that describes her approach:

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. 

I garbled it a bit, I thought it was "do not follow where the path may lead," but I got the gist of it. Later I googled it to see the correct words and author--Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

I had posted a card with that quotation above my desk in my University of Delaware dorm room. I was idealistic then, with hopes of changing the world. I had vague dreams of going into politics and becoming a Senator. Maybe I haven't accomplished much, but at least I've changed Lola's world.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

TV Time--Spring 2017

It's been a while since I wrote about TV shows that we watch. So here goes.

Face Off: This remains my favorite reality show. The best part of it is the cooperation and camaraderie among contestants. There's little drama besides contestants missing their families. Season 11 ran from January through April. All contestants had participated on the show in earlier seasons, and they started off competing in teams. Most contestants were from recent seasons (four from seasons nine and 10; 11 from seasons six through eight; one from season one.) I would have enjoyed seeing more contestants from the earlier seasons.

Gotham: As I wrote, I wasn't impressed with the first few episodes after the fall finale. They seemed shoehorned in. Now we're back to the Court of Owls and their fiendish plans. Recent shows have been better, but it appears the writers are throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks.

Sleepy Hollow: I stuck with this show, despite misgivings. I couldn't get into the new characters and setting, and I missed Abby. Just heard last week that the show was canceled.

Hawaii Five O: I started to watch this show mainly because Jeff likes it. But it's pretty good with complicated, ongoing plot lines as well as some humor.

Ripper Street: Jeff and I enjoyed this show from the beginning. For some reason we missed some episodes on BBC America, but were able to catch up on Netflix or Amazon. I have to commend one episode, "Live Free, Live True." The mystery of the week centered on a woman who led her life as a a man to protect herself from her mother's tragic end. A tragedy all women could share without access to contraception and abortion.

To be continued.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Ladies Who Lunch

Today is my mother-in-law's birthday (and mine is next week.) My sister-in-law took us both out to lunch. My mother-in-law lives in Southbury, and we went to John's Cafe in Woodbury. The food was excellent: I had a power bowl with shrimp, spinach, quinoa, strawberries, almonds, vidalia onions and balsamic. We shared two desserts.

It was a nice, leisurely lunch. I could get used to this lifestyle.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Miscellaneous Mother's Day Musings

Once again my mother screwed up my mother's day plans.

It was tough figuring out what to do with her. She doesn't like to go to restaurants; she doesn't even enjoy eating. Jeff was spending the day with his mother; my brother had to go out of state to pick up furniture or something. Eventually, I decided to cook crab cakes from Bon Ton's and make a Caesar salad. My mother likes both items on my short menu.

I called last night to confirm. I didn't set a specific time for lunch. I told mom that I wanted to go to the gym in the morning. I wouldn't be there before 12, but would call when I was ready to leave home.

I got up at 8:30, lingered over coffee and writing my journal and made a protein drink before going to the gym. I had an abbreviated workout (no cardio) then headed to Shoprite. I needed romaine for the salad and wanted to get some flowers. I picked up freshly dipped chocolate strawberries, a dozen roses and a small orchid. I had to shower, dress, clean lettuce, grate the Parmesan cheese, make cocktail sauce, and pack up the ingredients.

At 12:45 I got into the car and called mom. She said she had already eaten lunch. She claimed she had no idea when I was coming and figured I was coming for dinner instead of lunch. She forgot last night's conversation. So why didn't she call me? Why did she just make assumptions? Her assumptions are always wrong. I was so angry--still angry when I arrived at her place. Glad that I had gotten the strawberries and flowers. But my main gift idea was wasted.

I ate salad by myself and my mother served ice cream for dessert. We visited for about two hours.

I took Lola to hike at the Norwalk River Valley Trail. As soon as we left the car, I felt raindrops. We only walked for about 15 minutes because the rain got stronger. The rain turned into a sunshower, our second in the past month. Before I was even halfway home, the rain had stopped. I felt bad for Lola, but was wet and uncomfortable and wanted to come home.

At that point, the Mets were ahead of the Brewers by 7-1. They ended up losing 11-9--a sweep. I had seen a newspaper at the gym Friday with the headline: Why does God hate the Mets? I hadn't heard about Jeurys Familia's blood clot. Maybe the curse that I speculated about has been re-animated.

Speaking of the gym, I broke my pattern of going to the gym four times a week after three consecutive weeks. It's my fault. I had dressed for the gym on Monday morning. But by the time I was ready to leave, it was 9:30. I blew off the gym because I had to do six loads of laundry (postponed from Friday because of brown water in our pipes) and go food shopping. At the time, I didn't know that my mother had an appointment with her eye doctor on Wednesday. Yes, I could have gotten up at 5 AM on Wednesday to go to the gym or could have gone Wednesday afternoon, or even at 5 AM Saturday, but I knew that none of these options were likely. I don't care about the streak that much. I still managed three gym visits this week and several walks/hikes with Lola, so I'm good. I went to the gym this morning: a good start to the week.

I met with two new tutoring students this week: another good thing. Both are prepping for the SAT. I've done ACT exclusively for the past several months. It's good to work on the SAT because I'm teaching a SAT class in July.

And so it goes.

Reading Update

I've hit my goal of reading 12 books this year--just about a third of the year through. Since my last reading post, I've read two books.

Deep Pockets by Linda Barnes: I enjoyed this Carlotta Carlyle mystery. A Harvard professor is being blackmailed over an affair with a student who died under gruesome circumstances. But things aren't what they seem.

I had forgotten about Roz, Carlotta's tenant, house cleaner and Internet searcher extraordinaire. I'm not sure why--she's memorable. I previously wrote that Kinsey and VI were involved with musicians. Carlotta had been married to a musician like Kinsey. VI is seeing one (as of the last book I read in the series Brush Back.) I learned in Deep Pockets that Carlotta had a baby and put him/her up for adoption when she was 15. I wonder how that will impact Carlotta in the future. It informs part of her relationship with "little sister" Paolina, but isn't simply a case of cause and effect.

A Dog's Life by Peter Mayle: My mother-in-law recommended and lent me this book. As its title implies, it's a story of a dog's life from a rough beginning to finding good home. His observations on human dinner parties are funny.

On Friday, I got the latest Sara Paretsky book, Fallout. I've only read the first chapter so not much to report.

My brother lent me Game of Thrones. I had read it on the kindle as part of a four book package. I prefer the old fashioned feel of books. Also books are easier to browse than Kindles (especially four book packages.) It should be interesting to re-read Game of Thrones after watching the show.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Teacher Appreciation

Yesterday was Teacher Appreciation Day and the start of Teacher Appreciation Week in the US.

Appropriately, I had my first tutoring session in about a month yesterday. Last night I received an email from the student's mother. She said I was very good, very well organized and very effective, and my student learned a lot about test taking skills.

That made my day.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

On Tuesday and Saturday Night Massacres

I usually watch news in the morning--most often CNN, but I also watch local news. If I'm in the car, I listen to news throughout the day. I generally don't watch any evening news.

It was close to 10 PM before I read that Trump had fired FBI Director Comey.

Comey hadn't been on my radar for most of his tenure. I probably couldn't have named him before he excoriated Hillary Clinton for her email server. I'll never forget his damning letter to Congress about Hillary days before the election. Just last week Comey screwed up in stating the number of documents Huma Abedin forwarded to her (then?) husband. It wasn't "hundred and thousands of emails." Let's just say, I'm not a fan.

But why fire him now when Comey is leading an investigation into connections between the Russians and their hackers and Trump campaign officials? At a minimum, a bare minimum, this has all the hallmarks of the appearance of impropriety. Unfortunately appearances of impropriety are standard in the Trump White House.

There are so many other things wrong with this...

Is this the 21st century version of the Saturday night massacre when Nixon fired Special Watergate Prosecutor Archibald Cox?

Well, the Trumpians didn't try to hide the firing on a slow news Saturday night but only because they misread how the Democrats would react. They figured that since the Democrats don't like Comey, all would be fine.
***

I can't help but remember that Saturday night 44 years ago.

I was a freshman in college and had just returned to my dorm room. I turned on the TV and the firing was all over news. I didn't really get what it all meant, but I knew it was bad. It worried me. I ended up staying up late and watching The Caine Mutiny. That didn't help: the paranoid Captain Queeg was too similar to President Nixon.

Tonight I'm bothered enough to stay up and post about Comey's firing. I'm not sure what this means. But I'm more afraid than I was back in 1973. Back then, there wasn't such a partisan divide, Back then Republicans had principles. Everything wasn't about tax breaks for the rich.

Every day with this President is a new disaster. I don't know what else to say.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Dog Festival

Today we went to the Westport Dog Festival at Winslow Park. Lola and I go to Winslow about once a week; she always enjoys herself there. The parking lot was full so we had to park across the street about a block away. We were pleasantly surprised at how well Lola handled it--even walking on the Post Road.

The front part of the park was fenced off and we waited to pay the entrance fee ($10) and sign a waiver. Three food trucks were stationed by the entrance. We got grocery bags with the Choice Pet logo (the main sponsor) coupons, a sample of dry dog food and a full poopy bag holder (full of bags not poop, just to be clear.) Tables and tents lined the perimeter of the field: pet food, pet services, vets, WEBE radio and more. In the middle of the field were rings set up for various competitions and doggie fun zone--an obstacle course. (Spike used to run a longer doggy fun zone at Taylor Farm on Greenwich Kennel Club show weekends.)

We got about half way around the tables when Lola was getting a little freaked by all the other dogs and little kids. So we left the festival area and walked around the rest of the park. We returned and saw the rest of the exhibitors, including our food vendor and our vet. Hopefully we'll win the vet's drawing for a free visit. The three of us took another loop around the back of the park, checked out the food trucks. We didn't see anything that interested us, so we went to Nik's Place for lunch.

The weather could have been nicer, but it was still a good time.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Happy Birthday Lola!


We don't know Lola's real birthday. We designated today as her day mainly because it is Spike's half-way day. Making today her birthday gives Lola a link to Spike.

Unfortunately, today was not the best. It rained all day. Lola and I managed a walk with just light rain by going out around 7 AM. We returned home to brown water running from our spigots. I didn't wash my hair. I didn't do the laundry. I was hesitant to clean veggies and cook with the brown water.

We got take-out for dinner. Jeff brought home steak for a proper celebration tomorrow. He assures me that Lola won't mind waiting another day.

We'll make it up to her.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Today's Trail

Today Lola and I headed back to Wilton. We picked up what I thought was a trail from a commuter lot on Route 7. It's hard to see on this map because I can't zoom in. It seems to be part of a proposed route for the Norwalk River Valley Trail. I saw pink colored plastic pieces tied on trees. A preliminary blaze?

The current path is narrow and overgrown. We walked over logs and branches (Lola went under a few.) After 12 minutes, we turned around. A tree had fallen and branches blocked our way forward. Someone had been there before us. I saw a few beer cans, that I later used to help navigate back to the commuter lot.

I'm not going to count this as one of ten new hiking areas for 2017. It was a bit too rugged, and there were too many ticks. I took three off Lola and two off myself.

Yuck.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Goal Review and Update

Today is the 121st day of 2017--33.15 percent through the year.

Here's a review of my goals

Stop drinking for six weeks--completed

Read 12 books--I'm in good shape here: I've already read 11 books, read half of another, re-read one (possibly two.) I'm reading what I feel like, not necessarily great literature. Eight of the books are mysteries (not that there's anything wrong with that.) I'm not going to stop here; I hope to branch out to a few more challenging works. 

Explore 10 new hiking spots--We've explored four in Wilton: two legs of the Wilton loop of the Norwalk River Valley Trail, Schenck's Island and Bradley Park. Ahead of schedule and know of a few more places to explore. 

Write 255 blog posts--I have 65 counting this one. 25.49 percent of my goal. I'm behind schedule here. 

Go to the gym 150 times--today was my 30th visit which is 20 percent of my goal. Again behind schedule.  

Spend 10 hours each week on non-blog writing--?

Spend 10 hours each week on job hunting--?

I have a question mark for the last two goals. I know I've done some work on both, but haven't tracked it. 

I know where I need to focus.