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,

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Thoughts on Trump

There is no doubt that Donald Trump is shaking up the Republican Party. Early on in his bid for the nomination it seemed the official position was that his candidacy was a ruse or a joke and therefore nothing to worry about. His obvious mental problems (in my unprofessional opinion undiagnosed Narcissistic Personality Disorder) and impulsive speaking seemed doomed to sink him. It was pretty clear that between the Kochs and the RNC Scott Walker or Jeb! Bush would be the anointed candidate once the formalities of the primaries was over. Since then Trump has been polling better than all other declared candidates. He's out maneuvered the RNC by saying that he would run as a third party candidate if they weren't nicer to him.

Enter FOX, the media arm of the RNC. They have to allow him at the debates. They claim to have a plan to get him under control if (when) he breaks the rules of the debates. And now - they have released some results of a focus group discussing Mr. Trump. I'm sure they have hosted focus groups to discus some of the other GOP candidates, but so far this is the one made public. I think it was meant to erode support for The Donald, to show the lack of unity among Republican voters, and to encourage potential voters to look at the rest of the field. Of course I could just as easily be wrong about this - I often think my opinion is so obvious it must be correct, only to find out that I am the only s=one who sees it that way.

Trump did not attend "Media Night" when all the candidates who wanted to come were introduced. It was probably a smart move on his part - they were all treated as equals and most of them looked embarrassingly weak. The ones who seemed most comfortable with the format are polling so low it does not matter what they did, and the front runners among them looked much worse than anyone could have predicted. Jeb! in particular looked uncomfortable.

This is the focus group video, should you be interested. I think it's worth a peek, as I find it eye opening to hear what people like about him:

I news of less national interest, I have completed the body of my Rhinebeck sweater - the "Must Have Cardi" everyone and their dog knit a few years ago. So far so good. I think the size will be OK and it is much easier to knit than it looks. I think the number of mistakes will not be evident.

We have called a Skunk Guy at great expense to remove the skunk living under our shed. I credit my neighbor's open compost pile for attracting the attention of the skunks and the rat another neighbor had visiting inside her house. So far we caught a baby skunk but no Mama. If we had a bigger property and the skunks were living farther away I would not worry about it, but since my shed is only about two feet away from our deck I can't let them stay no matter how beneficial they might be.

And a picture of general interest (which I actually may have posted before):

Monday, July 27, 2015

Midsummer Doldrums

Well, not quite doldrums. The garden is in its July glory, waiting for me to take some new pictures. Three knitting projects are still on the needles, and two finished objects I have are not yet blocked . Spare time is spent on the beach, reading Anthony Trollop's nice novels about people trying to marry for money.

Politics are already driving me into a rage - I am honestly not quite sure what is so much worse about Donald Trump than the rest of the numerous venal old white men vying for the GOP nomination. Apparently the RNC does not like him, but I suspect that is because he is not already bought and paid for. That we know of.

So. Not having anything much to show off I will treat you to a video of something quite blamelessly cute:

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Into the City

We have long wanted to see the fireworks display on the Fourth of July in Boston, and this year we decided to go. Instead of planning a big trip for ourselves this year we had brought my younger kids out to visit so we thought a couple of shorter local trips this summer would be just the ticket. Shana's schedule leaves her Fridays free, so off we went up the highway to Boston for a weekend vacation.

We stayed at the Kendall Hotel in Kendall Square, where we had not stayed before. Friends had stayed here in the past and we liked the looks of it so we gave it a try. Very nice, one of my favorites, and we will stay there again. It's a converted firehouse with pretty and individually decorated rooms, good breakfast selections, and convenient to the T. The only thing I could say against it is that it is SO convenient to the T that we could feel (faintly) the trains passing below. Not particularly disturbing to me, and I don't think Shana really even noticed it, but for some people it might be annoying. One reason why we wanted to stay there was that it was less than a mile from the Charles River, where we wanted to walk to see the fireworks.

We saw a ball game Friday night (a miserable loss) and came home late. The game plus fireworks after didn't let out until late - we were still on the street waiting to get underground into the subway at midnight. It takes a while for 37,000 people to disperse, and most will be taking the subway. It went as smoothly as such things go, but I did not want to do it twice in one weekend so we and about 100,000 of our dearest friends met up on foot along the Charles on the MIT campus to see the display. The concert and the fireworks barge were directly across the river. While most of the concert could only be enjoyed across the river on the Esplanade, the fireworks portion was broadcast over FM radio. MIT set up speakers so we could all hear the music. There were food trucks and portable toilets there as well. Just about ideal, and the weather was perfect.The fireworks were fabulous. Obviously the best I have ever seen. They started with the 1812, with artillery and a nice burst of fireworks. Then a short break and the show began in earnest starting at about the level a smaller city might use for their finale and increasing in drama from there. It was just splendid! It was so convenient to be able to walk there and back. The nearby streets were closed so it was possible for the gigantic mass of people to get out in reasonable comfort and we were back at our hotel in no time.

Saturday we also visited the USS Constitution. She is currently in dry dock for repairs, so we were not able to tour below decks, but we were there for a 21 gun salute which is done only on the 4th.  We had a light lunch with fruity vacation drinks and did a little shopping and people watching near Faneuil Hall. Later on we walked over to the North End for a sumptuous dinner at Mama Maria's. We were fortunate that the Maitre d' (after a short convo) let us in dressed as we were in shorts to sit upstairs at their tiny bar. Once past that gauntlet we were treated well and our meals were fantastic! I would really recommend it, although if you are expecting meatballs and chicken parm you will be disappointed.

old and new - the Old Statehouse surrounded by skyscrapers

We headed home after a leisurely breakfast to see traffic going off Cape already backing up for miles before 11am. We'd hoped to go to the beach for a while, but by the time we got there no one could get in  - all the parking was taken. The weather today is exceptional and no one wants to leave the beach. It was the only disappointment in a wonderful weekend, but from the number of cars that started coming to the Cape on Thursday it was not really a big surprise. I read my paper on the deck and messed around in the garden instead.

I didn't take very many pictures during this trip. We were mainly focused on relaxing and spending some time together away from our usual routine, so we didn't try to see a lot of new things.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Family Visit 2015

These sunglasses were lost in the sea
This year instead of my visiting Oklahoma City we brought Sam, Alex, and Vivian to Cape Cod to visit us. None of them had been away on vacation for a while - this was Vivian's first plane trip. We loaded up on groceries and entertainment ideas and got ready for our company.

In spite of having a forecast of sunny skies all week we ended up with two sunny days - one of which was pouring rain early in the morning. We wanted to indulge in some beach time, but instead of having swimming days we mainly had "visit the beach for a walk days".  One day when it was sunny enough it was incredibly windy and temperatures hovered in the mid 50's. We did not stay long at the beach even though we had packed a picnic. We did have enough good weather for walking on the beach, and visiting Salem and Provincetown. The weather was fine for Salem, and we were able to stop in Plymouth to tour the Mayflower II on the way. We also walked down the street to gawk at The Rock. The main sight I like to visit in Salem is the Witch Trials Memorial in the Old Burying Point; Sam's favorite was the high school which was one of the buildings used in the film "Hocus Pocus". The drive back from Salem killed any desire to go to Boston for the day. We hit rush hour through Boston and got off in Dorchester to gas up. I must point out that we passed Stitch House twice but I did not go in even once. I probably should have, then we would have been behind the traffic instead of in the thick of it.  One thing I noticed in Dorchester was that there is inexplicably a gigantic bronze statue of a Clapp pear. We passed it twice while searching for a public rest room and I did not see any explanation for it. I had to Google it after I got home. Apparently it symbolizes the people of Dorchester (Whitey Bulger's old neighborhood) in that it has a tough skin but a soft center.

Our Provincetown day turned out fair, and we were able to enjoy a whale watching trip and a climb up the Pilgrim Monument. Many people do not know that the Pilgrims landed first at Provincetown. There's quite a view from the top of the monument, only a little tarnished by the knowledge that you are going to have to go back all the way down.  The monument has no elevator. Sam wore flip flops, which she deeply regretted. She ended up  climbing up and down barefooted. We had good luck on the whale watch - a mother and calf and two other humpbacks who were all willing to show us their tails! The sea was quite rough going out; Sam suffered from seasickness. and the rest of us were cold. Alex was pleased to hear that I did not need to add his sweatshirt to my outerwear. What a gentleman he was to offer it!

Vivian lost a tooth while she was here. She was a bit concerned that the Tooth Fairy might not find her, but that turned out not to be a problem.

I took quite a few pictures, so if you want to see more hop on over to my Flickr Photostream to check them out. There are a lot of them there (and not much editing or weeding out was done).

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Goodbye Roxy

The most beautiful ears
14 years ago, when we had just lost our beloved Great Dane Ezra's Sigmund Freud and we were not looking for another dog, Roxy sneaked into our hearts. My sister in law had found her loose on a major road and sent her to live with my ex-husband because while Lori tried to find her owner because Roxy was an escape artist and he had a better fence. After her owner was not found, and she was there looking at me every time I stopped by with our children Roxy ended up coming home with me. Our vet thought she was probably two years old.

She answered to Roxy, but we quickly dubbed her The Amazing Roxanne, Evil Wild Dog of the Prairie. She was a first class escape artist, not only running out of doors and pushing screens out of windows but also digging out from under fences and on one memorable occasion jumping off of a roof to run off. That trick ruptured her ACL, requiring surgery and a stint of rehab in our pool. The substantial bandage the surgery required did not keep her from digging out under the fence and running off on three legs. The knee healed well, but there was nothing to be done with the hip, and it bothered her in her later years whenever the weather changed. She went in and out through the neighbor's doggie door to eat her friend's food, crawled under another neighbor's garage door to eat the cat food June kept there to feed to local feral cats, and could run so fast no one could catch her to bring her home.

Luckily she was very food oriented. We could call her home from a great distance by rattling a jar of treats, and it was easy to teach her tricks with the right inducement. This interest in food also motivated her to jump up on the kitchen counter and eat anything going. After all - "it might be food - if not I'll just throw up". She tried pickles, lettuce, pecan pie (a big hit) and anything else she would get. She could also open cupboard doors and step on trash cans to get at whatever was inside. The bathroom trash can was her special disgusting favorite.

Although she was too small (about 20 pounds) to do major damage, she was resourceful. She managed to climb a book shelf to get and eat a pair of hearing aids. She was able to climb up between the wall and a dresser by bracing her back and feet against the opposing walls to gain access to the cat food we thought we had protected. She was very taken with some perfumes. I had received a box of Lush bath bombs as a treat, which she attacked and dragged around to roll in. Irish Spring was her favorite soap, which she loved take from my son's tub into the living room to roll around in. He had perennially hairy soap. She was a devoted huntress, plucking a blue jay out of the air, and capturing an opossum in the back yard.

When we got her she was very bad on a leash. lunging, barking and pulling. Once we put her on a special harness to train her it turned out she had known all along how to behave, and was thereafter nearly perfect on leash. She was good with other dogs with very few exceptions, and was an easy travel companion. She liked cats, although this affection was not generally reciprocated. She was not worried by new people, and liked visitors, including repairmen. My father in law was one of her favorites. She demonstrated her love by racking him every time he came through our door. She loved my son, and demonstrated her love by biting his friend Jesse on the behind every morning because he came every day to take her boy away. (they walked to school together)

In her last years she seemed to be a tractable and agreeable dog, but still liked to indulge her hunting instincts. We have been bothered by little creatures burrowing under our shed. She thought it might be her life's work to get under there and catch whatever was hiding there. Although pretty much blind and deaf, she enjoyed ranging around the yard following her nose wherever an interesting scent could be found. She proved her worth chasing geese off my in-laws yard with gusto.

Last week the blood tests needed to get her teeth cleaned revealed that she was far advanced in kidney failure, and we had her put down yesterday. Her response to treatment was not adequate to justify keeping her with us any longer. We will love and miss her always, but we are at peace with our decision. She was a grand dog, our Baby Angel and Roxanne Roxannadana, and we were lucky to have her on our lives for so long.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Garden Tour 6/3/15

As promised, a little video tour of the garden. I'll apologize in advance for my terrible video skills. Maybe the next one will be better, but I doubt it.