Friday, August 24, 2012

Not so Hot 2012

HHH100 2008, originally uploaded by cinderellenk.

This weekend is the weekend of the Hotter n Hell 100 in Wichta Falls Texas, I went for 5 years - 2 100K rides, 2 100 mile rides, and one memorable crash at about 30 miles.

Over the years this ride has meant to me friendship, achievement, and celebration. I always battled the heat and distance, but nothing could replace that magical and thrilling starting line where 10,000 riders hit the road. A lot of things have changed in my life. I always ride alone these days, but I still wish I was in Wichita Falls this weekend.

Monday, August 20, 2012

An Evening at the Melody Tent

After having our tickets to see k.d. lang at the Cape Cod Melody Tent for months the evening finally arrived. The Cape Cod Melody Tent is one of only two continuously operated tent theaters in the round in the United states (the other is also in Massachusetts!). No seat is more than 50 feet from the stage, which rotates during the performance. I had been curious about the venue and excited about seeing k.d. lang in this intimate setting.

The beginning of the evening was a Keystone Cops sort of event. On the way out the door I reminded Shana to get the tickets, which had been mailed to us weeks ago. They were nowhere to be found, probably because they were "in a safe place". After running around the house sweating and pulling out our hair we stopped at the grocery store where our bank has a branch to get extra cash to buy fresh tickets but our bank is not open Sunday evening. I could not use an ATM because I have no idea where the card is for that account. I purchased our tickets by phone on our way to Hyannis. We were meeting a friend in Hyannis for dinner before the show, but until we left home we were not sure where we were going to go. The address we gave our friend for the restaurant we chose was wrong. When we did find the restaurant we found that we needed reservations unless we wanted to sit at a traditional Japanese table, which had legs about a foot long. We were to sit on the floor. Shana and I tried it with rather hilarious results, but in spite of being fairly flexible our friend just could not do it. We  got back in our cars and proceeded to another restaurant for Indian food. Our dinner was delicious, but the large amounts of fresh garlic in my order left me wishing I had a mint, or 200 mints.

Shana and I stopped at the ladies' room before going into the tent, but she did not know I had gone in. When she did not see me when she came out she thought I had gone to my seat. When I came out she was nowhere to be found. At last we got together and went to our new seats to watch the opening act. At the break we went over to the section where our original seats were languishing without us and settled in near our friend watch the main event, only about 6 rows from the stage.

k. d. lang was WONDERFUL. Her voice is impeccable, and in the intimacy of this small venue her joy in performing and connection to her band was clear to see. She sang some of her old favorites, and some songs I was less familiar with and every song sounded wonderful and fresh. I had wondered if singing Constant Craving and Hallelujah over many years would make them seem dull and rote to her, but her delivery rather suggested that there is always something new and thrilling to be discovered in these songs.  The band was excellent, and the devotion of the crew to the comfort of k. d. and the band was wonderful to see.

I'm not much of a concert-goer. Large venues and big crowds really leave me cold. I do like a smaller venue, and to see such an artist in such an intimate setting was a wonderful treat. One more item in the favor of this venue - too often live music in a smaller venue is too amplified to be enjoyed. It is too loud to be understood and I find myself more exhausted than uplifted. This was not the case here. The volume and clarity of the sound was perfect, and the lighting simple and effective. We will absolutely be  making plans to see more concerts at the Cape Cod Melody tent in the future.

Sadly my pictures are not good, but I was only hoping to give an idea of how the tent looks up close and on the inside before and during a performance.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Dog Days Excitement

It's true. I have not been updating at my usual frequency. I think something about the Dog Days of late July and August is sapping my energy.  With the Summer Olympics following so close on to the Tour de France I have been glued to the TV. Today it's synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics for the most arcane pursuits known to man.

I'm reading like crazy - Mostly the Game of Thrones series, which I have nearly finished. If you find yourself with lots of extra time and want to read something massive I'd recommend something else. It's not really awful, but the HBO series is so much better. The lack of character development is ameliorated by the quality of the cast and the excellent set design fills out the world of Westeros so much better than the books. The books also suffer IMHO from having ultimately no sympathetic characters. It seems to be the author's fallback position in order to provide surprise is to have a sympathetic character suddenly do something vile and totally outside of his known character. If an unsympathetic character does something good it always seem to go horribly wrong. Therefore EVERYTHING that happens in the book is pretty much awful. I like giant works of dystopian fiction as much as the next person, but this one is just not much fun.

Outdoors everything is pretty much finished blooming or in the fading stage of it except for the Four o' Clocks and the Cosmos, and the Montauk Daisies are not budding yet. It's a quiet time in the garden which in future planting I will need to address. I'm hoping for another flush from the Obedient Plant and Shasta Daisy which I have cut back.There are several shrubs which bloom well at this time of year, so that may be my answer. I've got a guy removing a tree which will give my hydrangea and hosta corner bed a little more sun. It will not make a great deal of difference because the tree in question was dying back at the top and was not providing a lot of shade. Lucky for me the tree is not massive, because it is something of an emergency removal. I knew it was dying and I assumed root damage because of the dieback at the top, but closer examination revealed a huge crack nearly all the way across the  trunk which would surely have brought it down during the next powerful storm. There is so little holding the tree together that the upper part of the tree is basically just balanced on the lower part.

Our recent beach tours have taken us to Chatham Light Beach and Marconi Beach. Chatham Light has had some shark sightings, and Marconi is on the Atlantic side, so we had hopes of spotting a shark. We did see a few seals, but no sharks. No matter, the beaches are beautiful and I love to sit on the beach. This weekend I will not have any beach time because of my work schedule - maybe a quick trip to the Mashpee Town Beach today is in order!

I'm giving in to a longing for some spicy food today and making a South Asian style meal featuring potatoes, chick peas, and tomatoes. I am going so far as to experiment with making my own naan. I can get it at the grocery, but they want to charge as much for two small pieces as I am used to paying for about the same volume of a whole loaf of bread so I'm not willing to pay. If this works out maybe the next thing I try to make will be paratha.

And now for something completely different: