Monday, September 14, 2015

Feel the Bern

It's long, but if you can't get to a rally maybe you'll want to hear the whole thing. He's not getting as much media coverage as Hilary Clinton's emails, but supporters are turning out in droves.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Notes From Flyover Country

Ann's Chicken Fry House
I currently live on Cape Cod, but I was born in Ohio, moved around the south and southern plains for a while, then lived in Oklahoma City for thirty-four years. I was not my ideal place for me to live; its politics are miles from my liberal Democratic roots, and my marriage was not recognized there until the issue was forced by a Supreme Court decision. Still, there is much to love out there in the southern plains, and I miss some things a lot. I still have family there, for one thing.

I was listening today to a podcast by some people I like and respect - chefs and friends of chefs who live in Los Angeles. People who might go to (really) a special event consisting of an entire tasting menu of Okonomiyaki (Japanese cabbage pancakes) because they are interested in the chef. I'm not mentioning the podcast because I like it and the authors. I will listen again, and it's my own fault because the theme song gives away the hipness of their tastes: a drum solo like the one prominently featured in "Birdman" last year. So hip they can't see over their own pelvises (Thank you Douglas Adams). The topic today was chain restaurants, and a remark was made that it was a revelation when traveling across America that there was nothing they could eat. That went all over me, to use the vernacular of flyover country. Granted the middle of the country is not as screamingly chic as either coast, but there is no excuse for that attitude. For one (small) thing, since moving to Massachusetts I find that it's hard to come up with some of the (food) necessities of life: decent tortillas, biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, soul food, Mexican pastries, south Asian groceries, breakfast cut pork chops, grits, properly cooked hash browns or fried potatoes, chilis, properly cooked barbecue,  you get the picture. I have also dined at many fine restaurants and smaller places in the middle of the country where the food was perfectly cooked with skill and love. If the only place they went to eat was Denny's it's not the fault of the towns they passed through; it was their own fault.

I don't live there anymore, but it offended me to think that one could cut down a whole part of the country based on whether or not they were able to provide for the taste buds of a spoiled and lazy picky eater.

Proper biscuits & gravy

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Now We've Got the Place to Ourselves

Yesterday was not only Labor Day,  but also the day the tourists go home. Our little secret that September is the best month on Cape Cod has been leaked, but most tourists and summer people do leave by Labor Day. The weekend itself tends to be busy, and the traffic intense, but it's really the last of the inundation. I may have mentioned that with 220,000 year round residents, we play host to 4-5 million tourists who are here mostly in July and August. They get here via two four lane bridges, and once they are here they find only one limited access highway going north-south, and one east-west which turns to a two lane halfway down the Cape. Everything else happens on mostly two lane roads. What that means for traffic is that you don't turn left in the summer if you can avoid it, and Cape residents have developed their own traffic rules.  If you are turning right and there is someone waiting to turn left at the same road you pause to stop traffic and let them turn before you. If you are turning left or right you let the person exiting the street you are turning onto turn out in either direction. Locals turn out in front of any car no matter who has the right of way. People tend to pass left signalling cars on the shoulder. This is why I do not ride my bike on any road.

Our weekend has been busy - Shana's birthday is Wednesday so we have extended the festivities over the weekend and into the week. Yesterday Shana, Dea and I took a ride from Falmouth Harbor to Martha's Vineyard on a schooner: The Liberte. It's a beautiful ship and we went out on a beautiful day, if a windy one. Labor Day is the last day they do tours from Falmouth Harbor.
They Sail down to Annapolis after that and sail until mid October.  It was crazy rough going out because of the wind and the direction of the tides, but we loved it. Fortunately none of us are much given to seasickness. We left at 2:00, and by the time we came back the excellent clam shack at the dock which was packed with diners when we left had closed for the season. As fall wears on more and more businesses will shut down until next summer.

After our sail we picked up a pizza at Steve's Pizzeria (and more!) to take to Chappaquoit Beach for the sunset. I can recommend the pizza - not too thick on toppings and sauce, with a really good crust made with olive oil. We were hoping they might deliver, but we picked it up on our way out.  The plan was to eat it sitting on the beach and maybe even go in for a dip. Intense wind and big waves changed out minds. We sat behind my car sheltering from the wind, then I went for a walk down the beach. I was glad I had a sweatshirt with me. I always bring one no matter how warm the day is, because the sea breeze is usually quite cool. The winds had dropped a little and the waves were a tiny bit smaller after we finished out meal. Other locals gathered for the sunset and we all applauded when the sun went down.

We got home in time to watch Ohio State dominate Virginia Tech in a game that turned very one sided after Virginia Tech's game but tiny quarterback was injured. Ohio State looks good this year, and their quarterback is the size of a UPS truck.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Labor Day 2015

I my yearly Labor Day post, to remind everyone that Labor Day is not just the day the tourists leave Cape Cod and the end of summer vacation, but the day set aside to honor the American working man, in particular the American Union member. Unions are in grave danger these days, with many forces arrayed against them. Scott Walker has made a career out of union busting, as has every Republican since and including Ronald Reagan. If you like your weekend, your 40 hour week, overtime pay, labor protections for children, OSHA, NLRB protection (however ineffectual) against wage theft and other legal protections you owe it to the union movement. Don't let those gains go by the wayside.

If you want more musical inspiration, The Nation is featuring it's choice of top ten union songs here.

And a little seaside inspiration from the Head of the Meadow Beach. This is one of the Cape Cod National Seashore beaches, a national park created under John F Kennedy to preserve a beautiful part of our national heritage. I probably don't need to remind you that some people would like to see our priceless national parks sold off to private interests (but of course I WILL remind you).

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Just Thursday

My Holiday Knitathon has started. Actually I already have a few items in my gift inventory but I am getting more serious about it. Last weekend I spent two hours of car time working on a sock only to decide I hated it. This sock has now turned back into a yarn ball. No matter how fast you knit or how many hours you have put in, you can't improve a project you hate. If I hated the finished object I would not feel right giving it to someone else, so I would then own a pair of hated (but hand knit) socks. Just wouldn't do. Incidentally, this reluctance to give away imperfect or hated items leads to me wrapping up all my knitted gifts, which are nearly perfect and appealing, with deep regret.

I'm still not finished with my Must Have Cardi, but it will be done in time for Rhinebeck. I did block my Croeso Shawlette, which was knit with a gift of beautiful blue alpaca from my eldest daughter. The knitting had been finished for months, but I put off the blocking as long as possible. On the subject of this pattern: it is a free pattern, and not from a professional designer. I have read that the stitch count as printed differed from the garment in progress. I really can't say, because I mainly followed the repeats by section. The instructions for the center portion were initially confusing - the section it says to knit twice does not mean twice in a row. Once I twigged to that it went smoothly.  If you read the entire pattern before beginning and keep the picture of how the shawl is to look firmly in mind there should be no trouble. If you like free patterns you have to keep in mind that those patterns were probably not test knit or tech edited. You are the one doing that.

Mitzi is taking over more and more of the doggy responsibilities since Roxy is gone. I showered today after mowing my lawn, and as I was squeegeeing the door I was startled to see her laying on the rug outside the shower door. She's never done that before, but Roxy always did.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Still at War With Windows 10

Architectural detail, Fairhaven (I think)
If you have not already done so, be careful about "upgrading" to Windows 10. I think in the long run I will like it, but at this point in the process I am ready to throw my PC into the road and watch cars run over it. It seems that the default setting for your files is read only, if you have any access at all. I suspect that this is because of its improved function with cloud storage, but in the meantime I am suffering through trying to figure out how to get my photos from my camera and phone to the PC. My start menu disappeared altogether, my access to the Edge browser, which replaces the no longer supported Windows Explorer, was gone. The suggested fix for this was to open the start menu and do a long series of things. Hello? Lack of start menu was one of my problems! I finally was reduced to shutting it down by turning it off and getting it to reboot. The first time it just went to sleep and did not reboot. On the plus side, I did restore communication with my wireless printer, so if I could find it I can print it! Every time I try to do something (anything) a nice little chime sounds and a cute little sign appears that says "something went wrong". I have finally figured how to give Windows 10 access to my iPhone photos online, but getting them moved over is a slow process. I can't get access to any pictures after fall of 2014 so far. Fortunately I have lots you may not have already seen, or some pretty enough to see twice.
Sandy Neck

We are still enjoying summer temperatures here on the Cape, and since for many students the school year has started, tourism has slowed down and traffic is much improved. Water temperatures are the warmest they've been or will be, all year.  Abundant sharks provide news headlines every day, making a nice change from "deflategate" and Donald Trump. September is my favorite month. "R" returns to the calendar, so if you are superstitious about oysters you can put them back on the menu. On Cape we eat them year round. This weekend college football returns to keep me company while I knit.

We have another skunk under the shed (Shana saw it). The skunk guy did not credit my being able to tell skunks apart, so he thought he must have caught the only one, although I told him it did not look exactly like the one I had seen. Clearly I was right and he was wrong. I had paid him already though, so the joke is on me. Something else substantial is also hanging around, because one of my few remaining squirrels was run over and laying at the end of my driveway one night. I told Shana if it was still there in the morning I would take care of it (hoping something would carry it away before I had to commit to having a dead animal in my trash can). It was gone before we got up. I'm guessing fox, but that's far from the only option in the neighborhood. Maybe it will develop an appetite for skunk, which it should satisfy next door, where my neighbor seems to have a family member camping in the yard off and on, cooks dinner on a panini press under a spotlight outside and keeps an open compost heap. My neighbor has also moved all the unattractive things from the front and side yards into the back corner which is fully visible from my deck. *sigh*
Chatham Light

I'm nearly done with my Must Have Cardigan. All major parts are done, which means all of the cables are finished. The back and fronts are blocked. Now I have to sew up the shoulders and pick up the button band. The sleeves are both done, but not blocked yet.  The way the pattern suggests, you put on the button band, then the sleeves, then the side seams. I will have to get buttons, but I hope that will not be hard. After weeks of stalling,  I have a shawlette (Croeso) and a knit from last year's Christmas yarn, and a scarf downstairs blocking right now. Yarn for Christmas gifts has been purchased and a little shopping has been done. The less money I have available the sooner I start! Also when a craft show is in town I do try to pick up a few things for gifts while I browse around meeting the makers. I'd rather put my money directly in the hands of the makers than chain retailers. We had Wicked Etsy here for the Falmouth Food Truck Festival and I met some wonderful vendors. There were one or two I "know" from our online interactions who I hoped might attend but no such luck this time.

Provincetown Harbor

I watched the VMA's Sunday night. The main thing that stood out to me was how different the commercials and the sets are from more "adult" award shows. Brightly colored to the point of garish, and ads for "lifestyle" items quite different from those on the old people's shows. I guess "ED" is not a big issue for the MTV crowd. I was rewarded for my persistence by having witnessed several of the things blowing up Twitter the next morning, and an illusory sense of being in the know concerning the young entertainers of today. I would like to point out, however, that Kanye West seems to me to be too long in the tooth to be behaving like such a punk. His speech (as his speeches so often do) makes me wonder about his sanity and anchor to the real world. I can't fault his creativity, and think at times he plays the part of "Holy Fool", but I prefer very small doses, and maybe even second hand.

Things are quiet, and life is good.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Fun on the Water

Summer continues in full swing, and the weather is hot and humid. In weather like this we like to be on the water, either on the beach or kayaking. Saturday was our beach day. We had not been out on our boats yet this summer, so Sunday we joined up with our friend Sue for a paddle on Bass River. We left the job of checking the tides to Sue, since she can be trusted not to make a hash of it. Because we wanted to paddle into the marshes we wanted to be sure to get there while the tide was still high enough for us to be able to paddle in and out. Shana and I already had our work cut out for us reassembling our rooftop kayak racks and remembering how to get the boats loaded up. Once again it was only a matter of extreme luck that we did not forget to bring our paddles along.

We put in at Wilbur Park in Yarmouth, which I liked very much. There was adequate parking (a rarity in season) and the area where we put in did not have heavy boat traffic. Once on the water we really enjoyed being out & about. In my opinion, Kayaking is a lot like cycling. You are outside where you can see, hear and smell everything, moving along at a human pace. My boat is so comfortable and convenient. Every time I get underway I wonder why we are not out on the water every weekend. If you stay out of the areas where most of the motorized boats go on Bass River you can have a lovely and serene experience, even on a hot day in high summer. We ran across a couple of motorized boats which were either rentals or owned by extreme novices who did not know how to use channel markers (Keep the red buoys on the right, green on the left) but since they did not actually run us down they were not much of a threat.

Shana and Sue went for a swim once we were finished with our paddle and pulled the kayaks out of the water. Once we were loaded back up we hit Original Seafood for fish & chips - paddling for hours is hungry work. Sue recommended Original, and a good suggestion it was. Fresh, delicious and in generous portions. I had my leftovers for dinner the next day and still did not finish the serving.

When I went to load up my pictures from the day I ran into my first major problem with Windows 10. It refused to read my SD card. I though perhaps I might try hooking my camera up via the USB port, but of course the battery was out of juice and I could not find my charger. Of course the charger was in the suitcase I took with me when we hid from a blizzard in Falmouth last winter. I thought that once the battery was charged I could import the pictures with no problem. Imagine my surprise when that would not work either. Apparently Windows 10 defaults to "You Shall Not Pass". No one has file permissions. Once that issue was addressed, and I rebooted four or five times success was mine. I do like the photo editing module on Windows 10, but some things leave a bit to be desired,