Sunday, July 5, 2015

Celebrating Independence Day – Walker Pond Style

Yesterday was our neighborhood’s annual Fourth of July party.  We don't always  hold our big party on the actual fourth, but this year since the fourth was on a Saturday, that was the day we picked.  I heard someone say yesterday that this was the 49th year that our neighborhood of Walker Pond here in Sturbridge has been celebrating the Fourth of July together.  I’m sure someone could verify that for me, but it sounds about right to me.

As usual, the day starts off with a Fishing Derby.  Greg used to chair that event but has turned it over to someone with more interest in fishing.  The Derby starts at 7am so I think that Greg’s interest in sleeping in a bit had something to do with it, too.  The Derby is followed by a road race at 8am.  That’s an event that neither Greg nor I have ever been witness to.  But the Parade is at 10 am and I don’t think we’ve missed it but once or twice it in the 28 years we’ve lived here.   Here are a couple of pics from this year’s parade.

Winner of Best in Show were this pack of Patriots:

We don’t have a Best Dressed Dog category, but if we did, this handsome pooch would have gotten my vote:

Olive, the pug, watched the parade closely from the comfort of our golf cart and was pretty excited about that good-looking bulldog, too, but she didn’t get to attend the party, poor girl.  She just gets too excited among all those people and smells.  And while it’s a dogs dream, people would give her far too many bites of their hot dogs than would be good for her, so she had to go home after the parade.

The day continued on with field games one of which is an egg toss.  We had a lot of participants.

This year a new event was added.  The Wellie Wanging involves standing on a half barrel and tossing a Wellington Boot as far as possible while maintaining your stance on the barrel.  Not as easy as it sounds as it turns out.

Here’s a neighbor in mid-wang (?). We were told that this Wellie Wanging is a tradition across the Pond, but I’m not completely sure I believe it.  Verification needed! 

It rained on us for a while so everyone got cozy under the tents and had a few drinks and eats.  But it turned out to be a beautiful evening and every one, including Uncle Sam, enjoyed the day.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Blue, blue, blue…

I have been continuing on with my 52 Weeks of Blue project.  Here are the next five in the series:

Week 21:

This is yet another great sign we saw on our trip to North Carolina.  I am finding it very hard to believe that we’ve been home from there for a month already.  Where does the time go??

Week 22:

When we got home, the Bluets were in bloom.  I think they are just wonderful, cheerful little flowers.  They are gone now that it has gotten warmer, but they are not forgotten.

Week 23:

I was beginning to get desperate during Week 23 because nothing was flipping my blue switch so I decided to take a ride in the country.  I found this beautiful old colonial house, Deer Meadow Farm,  that was built circa 1780.  Being close to an antique myself, I am way past wanting to live in an antique house.  Our fifty year old home has enough problems, thank you very much.  But it never fails to send me back to Memory Lane when I see a beautiful place like this.  When we first moved up to these parts, a house like this was just what I wanted, although I have to admit to being a bit more partial to the style of the Cape house than to the traditional Colonial.  I have to admit that these days all I want is a two bedroom condo that was built within the last ten years with all the modern amenities and none of the work.

Week 24:

“No water, no life, no blue, no green” is part of a quote from Sylvia Earle.  According to Wikipedia, Earle “is an American Marine biologist, explorer, author, and lecturer.  Since 1998, she has been a National Geographic explorer-in-residence.  Earle was the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and was named by Time Magazine as its first Hero for the Planet in 1998.”  I’ve seen two versions of this quote, the one I quoted above and used in my photo and this one:  “No ocean, no life. No blue, no green. No ocean, no us.” Regardless of Earle’s exact words, I think the message is clear.  The ocean and water, in general, is our most precious natural resource and we need to remember that every day.

Week 25:

Isn’t it so nice when someone gives you something out of the blue?  This beautiful little vase of flowers was a wonderful gift from the two lovely women who come to help me keep some order in this house every other week.  The charming pink roses have gone by now, but I have vowed to fill it with wildflowers all summer long and right now, it is filled with wild yarrow.  I love it!

Normally, I would be linking up on Friday with Tanya's Around Roanoke Willy-nilly Friday 5, but Tanya is taking a little break for the month of July to move houses.  Hoping Tanya has a easy and uneventful move and that all of you in the USA have an easy and uneventful Fourth of July!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Good Country Fences...

Here are just a few that I've managed to pick up on my travels.  Where they are no one (or at least not me) knows.  They are somewhere in the eastern part of the USA.

Linking to The Run*A*Round Ranches Good Fences!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Remembering Jerry Garcia and sleeping in a caboose…

Memories are funny things.  Ask any American who was alive at the time and they can probably tell you just where they were when they heard that President Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas or exactly what they were doing when they learned about the 9/11 Tragedy.  

But how many of you can remember the exact circumstances of where you were and what you were doing when you learned Jerry Garcia died?

That particular memory was jogged for me this morning as I was reading in the newspaper about the Grateful Dead’s Final Farewell Tour.  You know, I’ve always liked the Grateful Dead’s music, but I am by no means a Deadhead.  During the years when they were at the height of their popularity and Jerry Garcia was still around, I was busy with the everyday stuff of life:  getting married, working, having and raising kids and trying, often unsuccessfully, to act like an adult.  In other words, I was moving along in my life as many people do and I just didn’t have the time.

But I remember the day Jerry Garcia died better than many days that have far more personal significance in my life.  And that’s because the night of the day that he died, Greg, Carrie, Evan and I slept in a caboose.  Yes, the four of us spent a night in a caboose at the Caboose Motel in Avoca, New York on our way home to Massachusetts from our annual trip to Ohio AND, I must say, it was darn cool.
  We enjoyed it thoroughly.

The next morning while eating breakfast at a nearby diner, I spied the newspaper with the headlines announcing that Garcia was dead and the Dead’s song Casey Jones popped into my head – “Driving that train, high on cocaine…”  The night I had just spent in the train and Garcia’s death managed to stick together in my memory and to this day, nearly 20 years later, the association lives on in my mind.  Mention Jerry Garcia and if I close my eyes, I can see the insides of that train car, the way it felt to sleep somewhere so unusual and the way the kid looked and acted.  Carrie had just turned 11 and Evan was soon to turn 9.  They were so cute.  Those are the little mundane things that are really important to me when all is said and done – those ghosts of happy memories.

On an everyday basis, I don’t have and never have had a good capacity to retain memories.  These days, like a lot of people my age, I walk into a room and wonder what the heck I am doing there.  If I don’t always put my phone in the same place, there’s a pretty good chance I will spend a lot of time searching and searching and searching.  I don’t always remember people’s names after I’ve met them – sadly, even after I’ve met them a number of times and truly like them.

  But I bet that till the day I die, I will remember where I was on the day that Jerry Garcia died.

Here are a few pics I just remembered:

Friday, June 26, 2015

Willy-nilly Friday 5: Birthday Edition

1.  So yesterday was my birthday – which one is not really relevant.  It’s enough to say that I’m not getting any younger.  We had tickets for a day game at Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox.  In baseball, as in life, hope springs eternal and I was hoping for a win to add to my scorebook.  (Yes, I am a baseball nerd and I do keep score when I go to the games.  My scorebook is one of my favorite things in life.) Well, there was no luck at Fenway yesterday since the Sox lost 8-6, but it was a good day at the ballpark nonetheless.  And as the famous line goes, “There’s no crying in baseball,” which is a damn good thing, because otherwise we’d be crying a lot this year.

2.  The other day I saw on Facebook that the Boston Museum of Fine Arts had a photography exhibit that I really wanted to see.  The exhibit is called In the WakeJapanese Photographers Respond to 3/11.  In case you can’t recall the date, it is the day, March 11, 2011, that the tsunami hit the coast of Japan leaving so much devastation behind.  I was interested in this because I recently did a bit of research on the subject for a talk I gave in April as part of a Sunday service at our church concerning radiation in our everyday lives.  The continuing damage resulting from the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is frightening and horrible, but that is beside my point here.  Going to see the exhibit, which was very touching and well worth a visit, encouraged us to park at the museum and walk to Fenway.  It’s a pleasant walk through a beautiful part of Boston.  On the way, I managed to snap this picture of The Prudential building reflected in one of the fens.

3.  After the game, while we were walking back to the car, I noticed this plaque embedded in the sidewalk next to tables with chess boards embedded in them:

A little research got me an explanation of why it is there.  David Woodman is a young man who died during the celebration of the Boston Celtics winning a championship.  They say that he was willing to give up his coat to the homeless he encountered and loved playing chess with them.  I think we would all benefit from remembering that, at the end of the day, we do all end up in the same box.

4.  Speaking of boxes, on the way out of Boston we passed by the House of the Harvard Club of Boston.  There’s a box I wouldn’t fit in either now or at the end of the day.

5.  Because of some pretty nasty Boston traffic, we got home much later than anticipated, so to cap off the night, Greg and I took the five minute drive over to our local Uno’s Pizzeria and I celebrated getting older with an Ultimate Margarita and half a flatbread pizza.  The good thing about that is that our friend and expert musician Jared Fiske was performing there that night.  That was the icing on my non-existent birthday cake.

Oh, by the way, here's me in a pretty bad selfie that I took while sitting in traffic in Boston yesterday.  I was pretty beat from all we did during the day so I look a little on the put-out side, but I wasn't unhappy -- just tired.  But today I am a very happy person thinking about the Supreme Court ruling allowing gay marriage in this country.  Even though I've been around for a good long while, I still feel that life is too short to deny  all consenting adults the happiness of love and marriage if they want it.  Thanks, SCOTUS!

Linking up with Around Roanoke's Willy-nilly Friday 5!

Around Roanoke

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Through the Smokies...

As we left the cabin we called home for a week, we motored past the kudzu-covered silos that we passed every day that week on our way out of the neighborhood.  We drove down through Cherokee, North Carolina to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The vistas were marvelous and it didn’t take very long for us to realize that the Great Smoky Mountains are called the Great Smoky Mountains for a reason.

After a while, we got on the interstate and headed for home.  It was a wonderful week with good friends in a very beautiful part of this country.

  Can’t complain!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Things You See Along the Way...

When we were in North Carolina with our friends Dona and Bob, we discovered that all four of us like train rides.  As it happens, there’s a train called the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad that leaves from Bryson City every day.

We booked passage for the Nantahala Gorge Excursion, which “takes you across Fontana Lake and into the beautiful Nantahala Gorge.”  The train was comfortable with an attendant who would fill your "free" mug with coffee, tea or a soft drink while the train moseyed along.  Here’s what the interior of our car looked like.

And here are a few of the things we saw along the way…

The train took us to the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) where we had an hour layover.  Just enough time to stretch our legs and have a nice glass of local ale.  But we did see some interesting things during our stop.

Like these two peeps who were obviously so worn out they were willing to nap on gravel.

And these three dogs.  The two already in the truck watched with rapt attention until dog number three was safely in the truck.  They must be best friends.

The scenery on the way back to Bryson City was just wonderful.

One of our fellow passengers seemed to like it quite a lot.

A nice day was had by all.