Monday, December 30, 2013

Making Goals for the New Year

We are coming to the end of the year again. The holidays are nearly over and it's time to make resolutions. One of my friends is not making resolutions; she is reviewing the past year's accomplishments. I think that may be a good idea in addition to making goals for the new year. My goals for 2014 are mainly of the outdoor variety. Last year I made my sunny garden, and the time that went into that cut my cycling time way down. This year I hope to add more beach and cycling time to my week without stinting on my gardening time. If I make time for one beach visit and one long ride every week I think I can do it all. I think this will be the year we purchase our kayaks. We could easily entertain ourselves every Sunday paddling around. The dogs would appreciate more walking in my daily schedule.

In gardening goals I have a few plans. I want to get my shrub border properly mulched this year to emphasize it and set it off from the "lawn". I think I have as many shrubs as I want, so mulching will lend it a bit of importance, especially as the shrubs are still quite small and unimposing. I can start a little underplanting too, at least under the shrubs which are tall enough to have an "under". Shana wants to bulk up our front bed for privacy. We are agreed on an arborvitae: Thuja "Green Giant". It's fast growing, good looking, and grows well on the Cape. Shana would like to run the all across the front, which would cut down on some awkward mowing and give me a little more space to add flowering shrubs and some ornamental grasses in front. Also I want a boulder in that bed. I wouldn't mind adding a little something behind my shady bed between my rear neighbors and my bathroom window! I think that there is enough to do this summer without adding another bed.

We will replace the radiators in the living room as they are old and rusted. I would like to replace the bulkhead this year although I think it can go a little longer. I need one additional side chair to be able to serve dinner to six people who are sitting down. That's a thrift shop purchase. I'd like to have two sawhorses and a door for an outdoor dining table (Home Depot) and a sewing table (thrift shop).

In crafting goals my major plan is to knit a sweater. I have a pattern purchased, and two sweater quantities of yarn ordered (maybe it will arrive today!). I could use some mittens - a quick project. I have inserts for pillows for Shana's giant recliner and have only to select fabric to cover them. That will be a quickie project, a single afternoon even if Shana wants piping. I will put a curtain, probably on velcro,  across my desk so that from my reading chair I am not looking at open mixed storage. Thrift shop tablecloths would be the ideal fabric, although I can easily find something suitable at the fabric store. The backsplash area in the kitchen needs to be painted - we have selected a strong blue to emphasize our countertops. I need to seal the countertops. That's another quickie project where the most time consuming part is purchasing the product. I will not be making swants. Ever.

For online goals I have a few items to consider. I would like to try to keep up with a daily photo. That I will probably post to Tumblr. I need to make sure I have a weekly blog post. There are loads of photos which have not made it over to my Flickr account. I took a lot of iphone pictures in 2013. In 2014 I need to get back in the habit of taking some pictures with my actual cameras for better quality. If I check social media only once per day I should be able to devote more time to my goals for real world accomplishments!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

Our personal Christmas celebration is underway here on beautiful Cape Cod. Shana and I have both taken a few days off together to enjoy the holiday. Originally we had intended to use the time for a trip to New Hampshire, but some car repairs and good sense intervened to we are staying close to home. Today we are hanging around the house enjoying restful idleness and a few household chores. I can now identify where all of my sweaters live, and they are all appropriately folded. This does not sound thrilling unless you are trying to get dressed in a hurry. In a few minutes I will be making up a recipe of my go to rolls - butterhorns. Half of the recipe will become cinnamon rolls for our Christmas breakfast; the rest of the recipe will turn into rolls to take to Christmas dinner tomorrow.  Later we will head out for a festive cocktail at a waterfront restaurant and dinner at an Indian restaurant.

Tomorrow it will be coffee and rolls with our breakfast, a walk for the dogs, and I hope to be able to connect for Face Time visits with kids and grandkids. At some point I will bake a pear pie and a sweet potato casserole to take out. Later I will be enjoying dinner and board games with friends, to be followed by a movie (at this point I think it will be The Hobbit).

The 26th and 27th Shana and I will be out and about, maybe to Boston, maybe to Providence. Either way it will be sightseeing and feasting together with no schedule to keep. I hope all my family and friends have a similarly pleasant holiday with love and laughter and NO DRAMA!

 For the convenience of anyone who has been really busy and not  yet selected my gift I am including a few selections from the Boston Museum of Fine Art. I would be happy to accept any or all of these pretty things!

Friday, December 20, 2013

How I Ruined Christmas

In the middle of my extreme efficiency, completing projects and mailing in plenty of time I managed to switch the addresses for outgoing boxes so that they went to the wrong recipients. :( . Of course now the gifts will arrive late because they will have been racketing around the country instead of sitting quietly at their final destination. I am now officially The Worse Mom/Grandma ever. The only saving grace in this fiasco is that the toys for the grandchildren were sent directly from Amazon and have arrived already at the right place.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Signs of Homelessness

Actual signs from homeless people, speech is the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas, but Maybe not a Lot

At the Barnstable Christmas Stroll
It's clearly Christmas here. We have a tree of normal proportions, which makes it the biggest tree we have had for years. It's quite pretty but a little bare because we no longer have two huge collections of ornaments to choose from. Now we have only the very few we thought we wanted as keepsakes, given the fact that we have not had a proper tree in many years. Oh well, it will be fun to pick out some new ones. We did get some lights that look just like the big old fashioned bulbs but are modern ones inside. Very cute. Mitzi has only sampled a few branches. I put one gift under the tree to see what she would do. So far so good. She has never been around a Christmas tree and I don't want to assume too much good behavior.

One evening we went out to enjoy a Christmas Stroll in Barnstable Village. This happens in most of the Cape Cod towns. It consists of an evening or afternoon when local merchants supply snacks or drinks and people come out to listen to Christmas music and enjoy the offerings and decor. It's very nice, and encourages you to visit a lot of local businesses you may not otherwise enter. I sure saw several I will be back to visit and picked up a little gift for Shana.

Most of my holiday knitting
Everything is wrapped except a couple of emergency gifts which I will claim for my own if they are not needed. Out of town gifts are on their way to their new homes and should be there Friday - in plenty of time to go under the tree. I am more organized than usual, and somewhat less grouchy than is usual for me at this time of year. I am so organized that I am even knitting something for myself. This is something I seldom start before Christmas Day - usually early in the day I am debating how safe it may be to wrap damp hand knit items. Apparently having some knitting time during the day results in large amount of knitting getting done.

We are having snow today on top of a week of cold weather. What this has meant for me today is that while zipping out to check the mailbox and pick up my papers I fell on a frozen puddle in the driveway, giving myself a painful cut on the palm of my hand (plus a bruise on the heel of the hand). I am hoping the cut will exempt me from taking the trash out tonight at then end of my shift at A Major Retailer. Not much hope, but some. I have also set my knitting down for the day because my hand is really sore. I suppose I am lucky not to have more injuries because my feet both flew out from under me and I dropped like a rock onto my butt. I'm feeling a bit jolted, but nothing worse than that. All the weight bearing exercise I do in the course of the week is apparently protecting me from injury, although it has done nothing for my crummy sense of balance.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Post Blog Internet?

It's no secret among my friends that I have "an online presence". I have this blog, and am quite active on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. (note I have omitted the Oxford comma, which I still love and mourn but do not use online anymore) I check the Big Four every day, and usually post something to them every day. What I do not do every day is blog. For years I have been conscious of keeping a weekly schedule of blog posts whether I had something to say or not. I have found that the less often you post the less you have to say. Apparently if you are going to post but seldom it had better be momentous. So - the weekly post even if nothing much is happening. When I put up my weekly post I also liked to check around at my favorite bloggers, the ones I consider my blog buddies and the ones who I love and support although their large readership intimidates me (my problem, not theirs!).

Some of my online habits have changed since I purchased my much loved Samsung Galaxy tablet. It's odd how much the mechanics of the tablet have changed some of my browsing habits. It's hard to read long form, or even short form articles on some sites because the layout does not jive well with my screen. Pictures on some sites (Instagram, I'm looking at you) are really tailored to the tablet and smart phone interface more than the laptop. Some mobile versions are quite different in emphasis than the laptop version. Instead of deliberately changing hardware sometimes I find myself narrowing my focus to things that function better on the mobile. Not a good idea, I think. My exposure to some kinds of visually interesting content is wider, but my understanding is shallower. I am less likely to check out links because often sidebar links are slow to load. This lowers the serendipitous quality of poking around the odd corners of the Internet world that is so much fun. Because commenting is more tiresome on a virtual keyboard I am not in a frequent contact with my blog buddies.

My question is - is this the post blog Internet or just a choice of ways to interact with the Internet that everyone tailors to their own interests? Is it a generational thing? It seems that younger people are more likely to prefer short form interactions like Tumblr and Twitter to the commitment of a blog. Some of the "classic" bloggers I enjoyed in the past have pretty much stopped posting. Burnout? Doing something else instead? I've never had a large readership here and never really aspired to a larger readership - it's a very personal space mostly for my family and friends rather than a commercial space or career builder. I think I will continue as before, with maybe the clear intention to be a bit more regular than lately and a bit of introspection about what I want to accomplish in this space.

Shana and have made our holiday plans this year - a gourmet restaurant meal with a few friends for Thanksgiving and a little trip to New Hampshire for Christmas together instead of exchanging gifts. The family dynamics have changed a bit here this year since Bruce and Inace are both gone, so we have opted to try out a few different options for ourselves this time.

I am still raging along with my holiday knitting. Two of my favorite pattern books are MIA currently, and I am waiting for the replacement copies and a bit of yarn to arrive. Of course I still have things I can work on while I wait - two things whose beauty will be undeniable but those process I am not enjoying, one basic project, two with new patterns and skills I will learn ... over my head as usual. We'll see how many projects I actually complete and how many I put off until later. If I don't stop fiddling around with experimental an irrelevant side projects I will be in desperate straights by mid December.  Oddly, it is always the gifts that can be completed last that I finish first. Anything that needs to be shipped I seem to be happy to put off until the last minute. Bad planning? Procrastination?

Friday, October 25, 2013

My Stuff, Prole Style

I am a long time reader of Vanity Fair Magazine. I love their articles with their willingness to sponsor thoughtful essays on complicated issues, and their wonderful photography. I get the window into the lives of beautiful people with articles of art collectors and rich folks of all kinds, and party pictures that prove my hunch that all rich people know each other. Their photo essays are beyond compare.

What I read first every month is the "Fanfare" section, with it's capsule profile of a wealthy type - usually a beautiful scion of a wealthy family congratulating him(her)self on having by mighty effort so many personal accomplishments. One part of the feature is "My Stuff" wherein the accoutrements of the Good Life are listed out for those of us who are still shopping on the cheap. Here, for your information, are my own necessities:

Necessary Extravagance:     Giant beach towels, Kohl's 1998.
Favorite Place in the World:  Camp Doris, Wichita Wildlife Refuge
Jeans:                                 Not Your Daughters Jeans 2009
T Shirt:                               Bike event freebie circa 2008
Jewelry:                              Wedding ring from the mall
Obsessed with shoes by:       L. L. Bean
Sheets:                                Pottery Barn on sale + my discount. Previously B B & B
Lipstick:                              Burt's Bees
Moisturizer:                          Body Shop
Where do you go for facials:  My bathroom
Toothpaste:                          Colgate

Well, you get the idea. You can go here to see some more elevated "stuff". Now I do understand that I have a good life, even by American standards. I have excellent health achieved in large part by the benefits of heredity and good medical care and nutrition in my youth. I have a good education, ownership in a house, and live in a beautiful place. It is the rare month that finds me having to juggle to get everything paid, even though my (late model, paid for) car seems to need something with distressing frequency. I always have enough food of a kind I like and can always afford my regular meds. What I object to is the concept that this aspirational stuff featured in Vanity Fair is the standard to which we should aspire; a person should want more than just things. Also this is a standard to which 99% of people cannot aspire even though the culture tries to trick us into thinking that spending enough will get us there.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Do the Cape Cod Crud

I've been down for a week with what the very nice Doc in a Box is calling Cape Cod Crud. It's apparently sweeping the Cape and lasts about ten days. Not satisfied with body aches, exhaustion and continuous coughing I added ear infections on both sides of my head with dizziness as an extra added attraction. I'm very disappointed because I have been too tired to knit or work. Holiday knitting time is slipping away, and I had counted on lots of work shifts because all my fall entertainments have used up All The Money. Too bad. I spent  most of the week sleeping on the sofa with the dogs. I never even got up to do a load of laundry or make the bed.

Lucky for me a friend had sent Shana home a few weeks ago with a stack of Fannie Flagg novels. This was about the limit of my reading energy this week, and amusing enough to hold my attention. I think Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man is just about the funniest book I have ever read, and it was so nice to see this old friend in the stack. If you like southern humor this one might just hit the spot.

The Amazing Roxanne (Evil Wild Dog of the Prairie) has gone from older dog to old dog this year. This should not be a surprise to me because she's at least 14 years old, but it makes me sad to see her showing her age. It's hard to keep weight on her although she's not especially active (unless digging up chipmunks is in the mix). She's still interested in walks, rodents, snacks and rides in the car, but quicker to tire and less interested in new things. When Mitzi is barking her head off Roxy will go to see what all the fuss is about, but usually she is not impressed enough to join in the barking. She pretty much shrugs and walks off. Roxy will still bark and offer to bite me on the butt if I leave the house without her, but she does not bother to get out of her chair to do it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

About Time

I've been a bad blogger lately. It's not that I don't have an online presence - there are (nearly) daily posts for Twitter and Facebook, and frequent pictures posted to Instagram and Pinterest...spread too thin, maybe.

Once my September company went home I started preparing for my trip to Atlanta to see my oldest daughter and her cutie pie of a son. He's my favorite grandson (my only!). Jennifer bought a house this summer so instead of them coming up to see me I went there to see the new place. It's adorable and cozy, just what I had hoped it would be. She is justifiably house proud and I loved staying with her. I had a great time visiting them; this time I had time to see some of the sights of Atlanta, beginning with the airport.  I've gone through Atlanta quite a bit over the years. It's just about my favorite airport for a layover because there is plenty to do and a lot going on. This is because of its size, which made it less fun to fly to than through for me. I got turned around on my way out and found myself going up and down random escalators while poor Jennifer had to drive around hoping I would eventually emerge. Next time will be better!

We hit the zoo (Pandas!), the Aquarium (Whale Shark!), a cool bowling alley, and Garden Ridge while I was there, and several nice restaurants. I know Garden Ridge does not seem to belong in the list of exciting places to visit, but it was one of my favorite places to shop for

junk in Oklahoma City, and there is not one closer to me now than Virginia. We picked up some kitchen gadgets and Halloween decor, and gawked at what had to be the least attractive Christmas trees I have ever seen. They came in a big variety of colors including Boise State blue, orange and black. I hope I do not see one in someone's house any time soon. Or ever. You'd think that I would not need a thing in the kitchen but for some reason I have not owned a ladle for years. I can't even remember what my last one looked like. After bowling we played laser tag, a first for me. Big fun.

We were having so much fun that I did not double check my departure times and was still lounging around Cracker Barrel when my flight back to Boston left. No big harm done except to my disposition; I was able to get the next flight out and was home only a little later than scheduled. I had yesterday to try to recover from my traveler's cold and today it's back to work for me.

Now that I am looking at the pictures it looks like we did everything the same day because Logan is dressed in an orange shirt in all of these pictures. I must point out that these pictures were taken on different days and the shirt is a coincidence! He did wash and put on clean clothes every day. So did I.

I am thinking about my Life List these days: things I want to do while I am still healthy enough to enjoy active activities and before the 1% sucks up all of my disposable income. One thing I would like to do is to visit all of the National Parks. Of the 59 National Parks I have visited 11. Of course there are National Monuments, Seashores, Preserves, Refuges and other sites I want to visit, and have visited.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

September Spin

So far September had been a blur around here. Labor Day has come and gone and with it the tourists, but our personal tourists have been here in the past week.

Last weekend we hosted Nancy and Matt for a visit to attend my father-in-law's memorial service. Now that we live half a continent away we seldom see them. We saw at least every other week when we lived in Oklahoma and it has left a big hole in Shana's life not to visit with them often. I am in contact on Facebook, but there is no substitute for a comfortable chat with someone who has known you since you were a child, as everyone who lives far from family has reason to know. Being surrounded by her visiting step family Shana was especially glad to have her own family here for the weekend.

I had occasion to visit with a lot of Bruce's relatives who I had never met. It was interesting to see them and hear their memories of him as a young man. There are family mannerisms that surprised me, even in his nephews. It was good to talk with his friends too, and hear their stories of shared experiences. He had several close friends in Menahaunt who will miss him.

As soon as our family guests left my best friend in Oklahoma City and her partner came to stay for a few days. I say "stay", but their visit was all go-go-go! I wanted them to have a good time and to see as much of my new home as possible - I called it the "sampler tour" of Massachusetts.  Lucky for us the weather favored us, and Shana and I were able to take time off to spend with our guests. We really only had a short spell of rainy weather, and that during our dinner in Boston. We visited Sandwich with its charming downtown and  its beautiful boardwalk for our first day, then the astoundingly beautiful Cape Cod National Seashore the next. Because our tourist season is pretty much over the beaches were not at all crowded. Thursday found us doing a whirlwind tour of Provincetown including a stop at Buddha and Beads, which I have been dying to visit, and Friday in Boston for a bit of the Freedom Trail and dinner on the North end. I took them around the places I love and some things I had not found time to visit yet, but for me I think the best time was every morning having coffee with Sharon Jean. I have good friends here, but I miss my friends from Oklahoma City. A dinner and breakfast once a year does not really take the place of all those hours riding along together on our bikes in the country.

I has excited to be able to follow part of the Freedom Trail on this visit. I've often wanted to do it, but our trips into town are so few, and city attractions so numerous that we never made time for it. We were all very disappointed to find that the Old Corner Book Store on the Freedom Walk has been replaced by a Chipotle, but fortunately we were able to locate another used book store very nearby. Shana had to forcibly remove me from the premises.

I did some shopping while our guests were here, too. With the excuse of shopping with my friends I found the perfect object for the empty wall in our living room, a little pottery dish for our kitchen sink SOS pad, and 5 FIVE books, four from second hand stores and one a Freedom Trail Guidebook. That makes this week just about perfect.

I'll be loading up a bunch of pictures to Flickr later today.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Meat and Global Warming

At the end of April I stopped eating meat, with the exception of a very occasional serving of wild caught seafood. My concern was not the ethics of meat consumption per se, but concern about the ethics and safety of industrially produced meat. I have not suffered at all in variety of my meals, especially in summer when we have a generous bounty coming in from the garden. Whatever we are not growing we pick at a local organic farm, where we can also pick up organic and locally raised chicken and pork. Shana has turned her cooking creativity to meatless dishes with excellent results.

I knew that meat production required a lot of inputs, among them large amounts of water directly to the animal, in feed production, and in meat processing. I did not realize that the contribution to global warming was so significant. It's worth considering including meatless days in the weekly menu even if meat is still on your menu.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Go Outside!

It struck me this morning, looking at a blog post from a vacationing blogger, how consistent vacations snaps are. Nearly all are of lovely outdoor scenes. Some are grand and imposing, others are views from the porch of a rental cottage, but nearly all are outdoors. Now it is just possible that because of the person that I am I have chosen bloggers and Instagrammers to follow who are outdoor minded like myself. Surely there are masses of people whose vacations favor indoor pursuits like gambling and shopping; cruise ships embark with full complements of passengers daily. Still I choose to believe that it is the beauty of nature that people seek for their restorative vacations.

Indeed science is proving that humans need to be outdoors for optimal health.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Union Maid

Labor Day is here again, and once again labor unions are under attack by the oligarchy. Let's not forget who fought for and won our 40 hour week, child labor laws, OSHA, Workers' Compensation, weekends, and so many of the things we take for granted.

Union Maid Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

There once was a union maid, she never was afraid
Of goons and ginks and company finks and the deputy sheriffs who made the raid.
She went to the union hall when a meeting it was called, And when the Legion boys come 'round She always stood her ground.

Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union, I'm sticking to the union, I'm sticking to the union. Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union, I'm sticking to the union 'til the day I die.

This union maid was wise to the tricks of company spies,
She couldn't be fooled by a company stool, she'd always organize the guys.
She always got her way when she struck for better pay.
She'd show her card to the National Guard And this is what she'd say

You gals who want to be free, just take a tip from me;
Get you a man who's a union man and join the ladies' auxiliary.
 Married life ain't hard when you got a union card,
 A union man has a happy life when he's got a union wife.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dream Life

Dreamy garden which is not mine
This week I am preparing for having houseguests, dearly anticipated family and friends. Every night I dream of some new and fiendish combinations of guests, the most recent I remember being Lindsay Lohan and Betty White. Most of my house is unsatisfactory in these dreams. Of particular concern in my dream is my bathroom, which daytime examination reveals to be a perfectly ordinary and perfectly functioning room. In my dreams it becomes oddly configured and ill-functioning chamber of horrors, sometimes resembling in every particular the room that appears sometimes in my dreams that I call "the ugly bathroom".

Not mine but lovely
Maybe it is a function of getting older. Even in my dreams I don't devote a lot of energy to creating things from scratch when I don't need to. If a dream requires a grocery store it takes place in "the ugly grocery store" - a dream rearrangement of a grocery store in Columbus Ohio (I'm sure it is gone now) that occupied a defunct roller rink. There is a house that appears often whose odd configuration is complicated by a suite of secret rooms that are sometimes completely ignored and sometimes provide the major plot of the dream. My grandfather's back yard is a common backdrop, being long and sloped with a shed behind the garage and an empty chicken coop. Dreams of urban confusion often take place in what I take to be a university building whose floor plan I can never quite remember. In some dreams it is a college building, in others a government building or an office building. Driving around dreams most often take place in a dreamscape altered Manhattan Kansas. A seaside arrangement of roads, marshes and beaches serves as a vacation destination or quest setting. It's like Dream Tarot - a limited set of images combined in a different configuration every time. Maybe it's just that my head is so full of junk that there isn't even room for an original dream! Maybe the dream shorthand of familiar but imagined landscapes frees my mind up to busy itself with the real purpose of the dream.
Someone's dreamy garden

In a dreamy aside, in one of my recent dreams I was at work at the Major Retailer who pays me to appear. A new company policy had been created to add more satisfaction to the customer service experience. We were to offer our "guests" foot massages, even to lure people in off the street with the promise of foot massages. We were short handed on the floor because one person had walked off the job rather than rub random people's feet and another was in the process of setting up for a massage. I guess I must be ready for Labor Day weekend, when the tourists and Summer People go home and leave the Cape to the year round residents.

The garden pictured here is not mine, but I am green with envy every time I see it. I am pretty sure it is professionally maintained and occupies a lot which probably would sell for close to a million dollars. It's one of the very few possessions of the wealthy that just makes me sick to my stomach with desire.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dog Days

The Amazing Roxanne
We are still winding down the summer. Tomato Land is finally producing ripe fruit, and the tomato plants at the House of D have to be picked, so we are eating tomato bruschetta and tomato sandwiches and tomatoes in our salads and tomatoes out of hand. I don't even feel bad about the fact that very few of our cherry tomatoes make it into the house because I pop them into my mouth on the spot. We have had green bean casserole (the deluxe home made version) and three bean salad with our own beans and as much salad greens as we could use. Next year I think we should add green peppers and radishes to see how they do in this climate. I think the most luxurious thing about the garden is that I have as much fresh herbs as I want. Fresh herbs are so expensive at the grocery that I never buy much, and never the large variety that I have in the garden. When the bean salad called for a tablespoon of parsley I used about half a cup, plus some dill, cilantro, and oregano.

This is our last weekend before the house guests arrive, so projects will be proceeding apace. It's good to have deadlines; otherwise I might sit around watching Pride and Prejudice, knitting along with my feet up and happy to be on schedule with my holiday knitting. Even the dogs will have deadlines - a haircut for Mitzi, baths all around, and nail trims for everyone. As far as I know the queen of England is not coming so prep will be reasonable, but I do want the house and garden to look as good as possible. I want us to make a good impression!

I also have a grooming scheduled for myself. I decided to stop coloring my hair this year, and simultaneously decided to grow out the pixie. I wanted to go classic bob, but of course that means an ugly grow out. The usual procedure for grown ups would be to enlist my stylist in the process, but I think that actually takes longer because your stylist cannot be content without cutting something and creating a style at every step. Instead I have been cutting it myself - just cutting off the mullet the shaggy bits and putting up with a certain lack of style. Jennifer pointed our kindly that I looked like Moe at one point.  I want to look like a human when my company comes, and I think I have (barely) enough length for a short bob, so it's time to cut. I will be keeping my natural color.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sunday Beach Life

We have spent the last few Sundays at the beach - A beach, to be more exact. I love the Atlantic beaches of Cape Cod. Although they are a little drive away it's well worth the drive. It's late in the season, so if we are on the road by 9:00 am we can choose our beach.

This time we chose Nauset Light Beach. We were fortunate enough to see large numbers of seals early in the day, and also fortunate enough that the seals left the area soon after we arrived. Seals are very interesting to see, but you must maintain a distance of at least 150 feet from them. When they are hanging around the beach you can't get into the water near them. Also, seals in large numbers draw sharks. Shark sightings will close the beach. Although you can stay on the sand, you are not permitted to go into the water. As if you would want to swim with the great white sharks that come every summer. This was a nice beach for sitting on the sand, but going into the water was not as nice as it is at some beaches. There was a combination of steep dropoff and large rocks that was unpleasant for me. The drop, the shifting rocks, and the undertow pulled me down more than once. throwing me onto the shifty rocks (bottom first, I am happy to say).

Shana and Dea complained of rocks being thrown at their legs when waves came in. Either way, the cold water and tumbling large rocks made us all have sore toes. When I say rocks I mean baseball to cantaloupe sized rocks. We brought boogie boards to play with, but never did use them because of the general ouchiness of the rocks.

One nice feature of Nauset Light Beach is the Three Sisters Lighthouses. Currently there is one brick lighthouse at Nauset. Two decommissioned lighthouses from Nauset and one from Chatham have been moved to a configuration much like the original three sighted at Nauset a short distance from the beach, accessible by a paved path.

And for something completely different: a mashup of Get Lucky and Soul Train!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Late Summer Life

Here on the Cape we do not want to see summer end, although the end of summer does mean the end of the massive influx of Summer People. The days of light traffic and easy access to everything are coming into view. Because of the buffering effects of the surrounding ocean we do enjoy pleasant temperatures a little longer, but the ordinary and common effects of astronomical fall are inescapable. Shorter days are here, and cooler temperatures with them. Long bike rides are easier, but they must take place earlier to avoid riding at dusk. Our early sunrises are offset by early sunsets.

Yesterday we packed up early and went to the Cape Cod National Seashore. Even leaving here early in the morning did not get us a parking place at my favorite beach, but since they are all wonderful I was happy to settle for Marconi Beach. I actually went into the water, which is a big deal for me. In general my standards for sea bathing are set by the Gulf of Mexico. If the water is cooler than 84° I will not be going in there. Yesterday the water temperature was around 62°. This is about as warm as it gets on the Atlantic side, so I sucked it up and went in. Extra "refreshing", but big fun. Shana and Dea saw a couple of seals, but no sharks were spotted yesterday.

In the garden life moves on. Spring flowers bloom and the plants turn their energies to producing the seed and roots needed for next year. Some disappear underground, leaving empty spaces. Some remain visible in the garden with ratty foliage that needs a haircut to present the minimum of decent appearance. The first plantings of peas and lettuce gives way to the succession plantings, while carrots grow and sweeten. I turn away from new planting and into planning for next year. What do I need to add here to keep blooms all summer? Should I overplant the spring ephemerals with annuals next year? What needs to be moved to accommodate a bigger plant than expected? Should the forsythia be cut back hard next year or do I need to move everything under it to a spot with less competition? The existing beds are full, and the planning moves to the beds which will be the focus next year. How many yards of mulch will be needed? Will the path me mulch or will we leave it in grass for another year? With a long winter ahead to plan for my garden I pore over catalogs and websites. Early planning invites my plant greediness; as the time gets closer I will make more realistic choices. Over the winter I will have time to evaluate how much clear area I need for piling up snow and how far into the yard ice treatment chemicals intrude.

I will have house guests in September, so there are some little cosmetic projects that will have to be completed before they arrive. The timing calls attention to how little will be in bloom in the garden when they are here, but I don't think it will be a problem this year. The first visitors are coming for a memorial service for my father in law; family will be the main interest then. My second group will be friends from Oklahoma City - I can't wait to see them and show them around my new home. We will surely spend some of our time beaching it and some valuable cocktail time.

Gift knitting is in full swing, and my inventory grows in a satisfying way. I am thinking more often of family as I create gifts made of equal parts of yarn and love. Every stitch holds a loving thought.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Watching the Mayflower II

One of the prime features of Plimoth Plantation is the Mayflower II, a 1957 full scale reconstruction of the original ship that brought the Pilgrims to America. It might be worthwhile to mention here that the original landing was at Provincetown Massachusetts on beautiful Cape Cod, and not Plymouth, rock or no rock.

Like any ship, and most especially any wooden ship, periodic maintenance and repairs are needed. This took a bit longer than expected, as the needed repairs were extensive, and required large timbers which are no longer readily available. Repairs were done in drydock in Fairhaven, so transporting the Mayflower II was through the Cape Cod Canal.

This morning the Mayflower II returned to Plymouth, and many people were present to see it being towed through the Cape Cod Canal. Those who live on the Cape are very aware of our maritime history, and anything related to both history and the sea draws a crowd. We were surprised to see how quickly it was towed. I was also surprised to see how small it is, and more particularly how narrow. A tour of the ship is still in my future, but it was exciting to see it as it passed by. Coming quickly through the canal in the company of its escort and other modern boats, it passed by like a shadow of the past.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Count de Money

Life goes on. I am busy every day and yet nothing that happens seems to be blog fodder. News and politics compel my attention, yet are so discouraging and infuriating that I am (temporarily) speechless. With that in mind I share something I have not seen for a while but that has current relevance:

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Back to Reality

Last week was the week of our much-anticipated camping trip to New Hampshire. I had a vague idea what to expect, but never having been to New Hampshire I was eager to see it for myself. We had reservations at Terrace Pines, in the Lakes District of New Hampshire. I would recommend the campground, with reservations. It is on two lovely large ponds, with kayak and canoe rental available. The campground has electricity and water at each site, with sewer hookups for RV campers. As a tent camper, I would have liked our site to be a little bigger, secluded, and more wooded. Still, the campground is spotlessly maintained and in spite of the large number of children around during the day it quiets down early and is very restful at night. It is not one of those campgrounds that attracts a large number of loud party people. Our campsite was at a little remove from the neighbors on one side, with the site on the other side empty until the night before we left, so we were able to feel cozy and private.

All the same, I don't think we will stay at Terrace Pines next time we camp in New Hampshire. As it happens, most of the attractions we ended up visiting and the ones we want to make time for on our next trip were in the southern part of the White Mountains and points north. I think we will choose a campground more in that direction when we return. And we will return. New Hampshire is beautiful, and the skiing operations have really bought into making the state a year round draw. I don't ski or snowmobile, but the areas devoted to those winter sports have really invested in drawing tourists in the summer as well. There were a lot of family attractions with outdoor activities and tours for a full range of abilities. New Hampshire weather being what it is (Mount Washington is shrouded with fog 60% of the time), you do need to be a little flexible in your plans, but there are plenty of options.  If you are easily bored you will not run out of things to do.

The Kancamagus Highway is a beautiful attraction. You could easily spend an entire vacation on this 34.5 stretch  of road. There are campgrounds, hiking trails, scenic overlooks, waterfalls, rapids, and swimming holes a-plenty. I doubt you would run out of things to do if you never left the area. We were overcome with its beauty and variety. One day we went back to the campground early as we had seen as much natural beauty as we could absorb.

We also visited Woodstock and Conway to shop and look around. Woodstock is very pretty, and the Woodstock Inn would be a wonderful place to stay. We had lunch at the Woodstock Inn and found the food and the house made beers exceptional. Conway has an outlet mall of remarkable diversity if you are a vacation shopper. We confined ourselves to shopping at the L.L. Bean and Eastern Mountain Sports outlets, as we needed a few bits of equipment (you may read that as "we went shopping for toys"). I got a nice pair of hiking shoes at a reasonable price at L.L. Bean. My old standby boots are 30 years old, and it was nice to have a lighter and cooler pair of hikers for summer. I'll also be wearing these at work; I have worn out a pair of cross trainers on the job. Although both towns have plenty of attractions and shopping we found the prices very high and did little other shopping. If you go to Conway you should go to Zeb's Country Store. It's a lot of fun, and a good place to get some non-foolish souvenirs and gifts like candy and handmade soap.

We had our share of vacation misadventures, which I will note on a later post. For now I will just say that we found New Hampshire stunningly beautiful, delightfully cool, and worthy of a second and third look.  As with any road trip, I also got most of a gift sock completed - it's the holiday knitting part of the year, after all!