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.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Willy-nilly Friday 5: Maybe it’s a sign…

1.  When we were in the Great Smoky Mountains, we passed through Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  These are tourist destinations of the extreme variety and there is no shortage of signs there, but the best signs we saw when we were on our trip we found in the Cherokee and Bryson City, North Carolina areas.  These signs are throwbacks to the past and quite charming in my humble opinion.  Like this one for the Pink Motel.  Isn’t it great?!

2.  This one has seen better days.  The Teddy Bear Motel appears to have been closed for quite some time.  But that teddy bear still believes that “Life’s Good!”

3.  Here’s a sign for Granny’s Restaurant in Cherokee, NC.  Someday I might eat there if I have a chance.  Both of my grandmother’s were good cooks, unlike my mother who really didn’t much like cooking, in general, so I tend to avoid places that claim they serve meals like mom used to make.

4.  This was my very favorite sign of all.  Seems to me that the Warrior Motel has it all – remote cable TV, electric heat & air, picnic area AND a flower & water garden.  How many places can boast a flower and water garden??  Can you imagine how great that sign looks at night all lit up?
  To me, that sign is a real treasure.

5.  I get up early these days and figure that is free time for me to do what I want.  So while I drink my first cups of coffee of the day, I’ve been churning my way through Foyle’s War on Netflix.  Well, was I disappointed when I realized earlier this week that I finished the series.  I really enjoyed it.  I think they are still making new episodes, so I imagine that they will show up on Netflix one of these days, but until then…any suggestions?  Maybe this is a sign that I watch too much TV and should be doing something useful instead.  On that note, here’s a sign that’s definitely seen better days.

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

Thanks, Tanya!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Good Split Rail Fences...

On our recent trip down to North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, we saw quite a few split rail fences.  I've always wondered how you get started putting one of those together.  I suppose I could Google it, but I'd rather just try to figure it out.  Anyhow, here are a couple of the fences we saw.

This first one is in front of the John Oliver cabin in Cades Cove, which is located in the Tennessee section of the national park.  I wanted to go there because I am a distant relative of John Oliver.  From conversations with my family, I've determined that he was my Great Grandfather Oliver's Great Uncle.  I know that's a little off the beaten track family-wise, but still it was fun standing inside a place where I actually do have a family connection.

Here I am standing on the porch.

It's a small cabin -- one room down and one room up.  But it sounds like they managed to make do.

In my Facebook post when I was trying to figure out the relationship between  John Oliver and me, I got a post from my aunt Wanda that I made me laugh.  She said: 

The first time we went to Cade's Cove, Bunni (Wanda's daughter and my cousin) was about 10 years old. She needed to find the restroom, but apparently there weren't any. So she went back to the car and we eventually found her there with this poem she had written:

Great, Great, Great Uncle John, 
where in the world has your outhouse gone? 
I've looked in the cabin, 
I've looked all around, 
but that dadblasted outhouse 
just couldn't be found! 

This other fence was on the property of the cabin we rented.  There were significantly more rooms in our cabin than in John Oliver's and we were very comfortable there.  There was a full outhouse inside on both floors.  So we managed to make do very well indeed.

Linking to The Run*A*Round Ranch's Good Fences!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Posting Some Quick Blues…

Well, folks, it’s that time of year.  Today is Greg’s birthday and it’s a big one!  We also have a graduation party to attend.  I talked to my sister Cindy this week and she reminded me that summer has only twelve weekends so it’s best to make the most of each one.  Well, we will be doing that today.

I want to get a little caught up on my “52 Weeks of Blue” project and post five more photos.  Meant to do it yesterday and to hook up with Willy-nilly Friday 5, but ran out of time.  So without further ado, here they are.

Week 16:  Here is a little bunch of Striped Squill.  I love these little flowers.  They are so cheery.  Even their name is cheery to me.

Week 17:  And here is the Striped Squill’s sister – the Siberian Squill.

Week 18:  I took this photo while floating through the car wash.  It is in memory of a friend, Steve Morse, who passed away in April from cancer.  Steve was the leader of our photo group at the Massasoit Art Guild.  Steve was a professional photographer.  His unbounded enthusiasm and willingness to share his photographic talents with us amateurs was so appreciated.  He is missed.

Week 19:  Periwinkle and ajuga from our yard.  Why is it that many spring flowers are blue, but few summer flowers are?  I wonder.

Week 20:  And here’s an ajuga up close.  I love seeing these come up in the yard, but the minute the grass is cut, there they go.  They are as fleeting as spring…

So there’s my next five weeks of blue.  In reality, I’m going to post week #23 on Flickr today.  I’m a little behind.  One of these days I will catch up with life, but I’m not holding my breath on that.  If I did, I might turn a bit blue.