Thursday, July 31, 2008

Reading

I've been doing a lot of reading lately, just what everyone laments they have never have the time to do. Spend the whole day reading. I have mixed feelings though. Part of me is thoroughly enjoying reading for hours. Another part of me feels like a useless blob lying around wasting my life away in fantasy land.

I imagine I'd be more reconciled to reading all day if it were a cold, blizzardy, winter day. Certainly there's not much else to do except sit in front of the fire with your fuzzy socks on, and read! (I can't go to work anyway, & I can't dig out the car!!!)

But there's the romance of 'summer reading' too, which, (apparently to my chagrin) I am able to indulge in. Don't we all have the fantasy of sitting on a breezy back porch at dusk, lounging on the beach, nestling near a shady pond, with a beloved book in hand?

But how many working adults actually get to do this? Or even when they can--- DO IT?


In case you were wondering, here are the books that have been interrupting my usual high level of productivity.
1. Red House "Being a Mostly Accurate Account of New England's Oldest Continuously Lived-in House." by Sarah Messer
Done
2. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
Abandoned
3. The Innocent Man: Murder & Injustice in a Small Town by John Grisham
Done
4. To Believe in Women: What Lesbians Have Done for America-A History by Lillian Faderman
Reading
5. Awakening the Buddha Within: Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World by Lama Surya Das
Reading
6. Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors by Nicholas Wade
Done

Perhaps I am the better for it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Red Bellied Woodpecker

This chipper little bird was outside my window this morning. My cat was ready to make mincemeat of her, so I'm glad there was a barrier. She was hopping around on the fence post and nearby tree branches, searching for something to peck. I looked up the bird.

Red Bellied Woodpeckers are rarely seen in New England. They mainly are found in the Southeast. I believe my bird was a female, because her redness was subdued. In male woodpeckers it is quite prominent. Click to listen to the bird's song and call.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Why I Play

I've waxed poetic numerous times about my beloved softball team SLAM. But, I can't help it. Saturday evening I went up to lovely Lowell to watch the Riptides, the professional women's New England softball league. It was awesome to see the young ladies in top form. It made me melancholy, though. I missed out on being a team player when I was younger. Though I'm grateful I discovered team sports in my late 30's, I wish I participated as a youngster. Track did not have the same feeling of camaraderie. Hence, to my point. The best part about being on a team is--- win or lose--- the socializing after the game. Here's a video of our chattering SLAMettes after our game Sunday. The video quality is purposely bad to protect the identity of the innocent.

video

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Drowning, in the sea of love.....


Here's an mp3 of Fleetwood Mac's 'Sara'. The track is badly recorded, but I downloaded it anyway, because it wistfully sounds a lot like my original "Tusk" LP record from 1979.




fleetwood mac - sara























Found at bee mp3 search engine







Feast!

I must admit I love the Snickers "Feast" series commercials. The premise is absurd--- a bunch of historical figures--- a Viking, Greek philosopher, Pilgrim, Roman soldier, etc...--- riding around in an old Chevy looking for Snickers bars. Naturally, I like the Viking best of all. He speaks like a mythological god, yet has his last meal (Snickers, of course) still stuck to his gnarly beard. No doubt if GPS systems existed in the year 1000 AD, the Vikings, navigational wizards that they were, would have figured out how to use modern technology to plan their pillages and bloody ransacks with more precision. Onward Thor!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Guest Blogger #3- D.B.

Listless

by D. Bell

I was watching that certain Sunday morning show on CBS a few weeks ago as is my normal weekend routine. The viewing always comes after the requisite production of fresh coffee and homemade pancakes laden with fruit and syrup. They did a story about lists, and how most media and other forums inundate us with aforementioned lists. I hadn’t given it much thought until then, but damn if they are not right. I dare you to peruse any magazine stand that isn’t filled with row after row of publications that offer some sort of life-altering list to help you be a better person or avoid being a chump whether you are at the grocery store, the doctor, or, ahem, in bed - I sleep just fine thank you!

How did we ever manage our lives before these nicely organized up to the minute somewhat scientifically researched tidbits of numbered knowledge? I too am guilty of reading through these whenever I come across them, even frantically at times, in my hurry to glean every morsel offered, because like most people, I want to be in the know, ahead of the game, safe from financial and medical ruin!

In this busy world of ours, it is much easier to have neat, small lists at our disposal that can easily be ingested in under a minute than to spend a leisurely respite from the world and invest some real time in reading a good book or article. But are they really helpful? Do you really retain and use what you learn from them, or is it just a pleasant way to kill time and feel good about it? Has your life actually changed because of a list?

The latest one I just saw from my online email services today was “Clue to Diabetes in Your Eyebrows”. No, I did not make that up, and yes, of course, I read it. Now I have to worry because my leg height to torso ratio is off and my eyebrows are not going gray like the rest of my hair? Oh no no, I am not going back to those WebMD days of hypochondriac self-diagnosis based on broad generic symptoms. That only leads to a bad episode of “The Brady Bunch” like when Peter and Jan were playing doctor, but not in an icky incestuous way.

Who comes up with this stuff? Why do I read them and will continue to do so even after my tirade? Should I make a list of why? I am definitely going to take my life back in a small way and not read the latest list about “How to Cook an Egg” even though I am sure it amazing as the teaser of a graphic is alluring. Apparently I am not alone in my feelings about lists. Someone wrote a book about it. I am sure someone will place it on a list of “List of Books with the Most Important Lists”

Monday, July 21, 2008

Delightfully Dorky!

I saw "Mamma Mia" tonight with some friends. I really (surprisingly) enjoyed it! It was very funny. It was serious enough about some topics (love/loss/major life decisions), but always reverted back to outrageous camp at the right moment.

Of course anyone
my age loves all those ABBA songs, despite ourselves. Like any sappy, sugary pop songs, you can't resist them. ABBA remains the most unexplained pop phenomenon of the centuries.

"Mamma Mia" is definitely a 'chick flick.' There were 3 men in the audience, all gay. The women were all singing along, clapping, and cheering. The inevitable "Dancing Queen" scene had a whole village of women dancing through town---- ripping off their bras, throwing down their brooms, yanking off their kerchiefs, and popping their estrogen pills with vigor to get their ya-yas out.

Only ladies would understand.


Finally, another reason to see "Mamma Mia" is Meryl Streep. She is perhaps our greatest, living American actress. Gorgeous and mesmerizing as usual, and she had a lot of fun too!


See it now! At a theater near you!

George's Island

Went to George's Island in Boston harbor on Saturday with a bunch of gals. We picnicked, flew some kites, played volleyball and whiffle ball, hiked, and lounged about. It was an extremely hot and humid day on shore, but on the island there was a nice breeze. We watched part of an 'Olde Time' baseball game too!




George's Island features Fort Warren, built in 1850. During the Civil War the fort had about a 1000 Confederate prisoners. At one point they even housed the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Hamilton Stephens, in fairly posh conditions. Another story of the island is that a confederate prisoner's wife attempted to help her husband escape by rowing over from Hull. Now she is the ghostly legend of 'the lady in black,' who still haunts the island. (Click to listen to the story) Apparently her husband was killed and the lady was hung with a black robe, the only 'rope' available.

Every year local Civil War reenactment units will set up an encampment on the island, and reenact the escape as well as demonstrate civil war era baking and medical procedures. Some years ago I attended this event, and found out about joining up with the 22nd Massachusetts.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Child Smarter Than 51% of US Adult Population

This little girl is very smart.
I wish I could run away too.......

Child cries, runs away from Bush
Child cries, runs away from Bush

Monday, July 14, 2008

Scallywags for Freedom

Today I drove up to Marblehead to visit my friend Nil. She told me about a Revolutionary War encampment at Fort Sewell not far from her house, right in Marblehead Harbor. The 14th Continental Glover's Marblehead Regiment had set up camp there for the weekend.

We discovered this hardy unit of sailors from Marblehead, Massachusetts were responsible for rowing General Washington across the Delaware on that frigid, Christmas Eve in 1776. They also aided in overtaking the many drunken Hessians fighting for the British, to recapture Trenton. The Glover militia was also involved in Yorktown.


One soldier gave us a fantastic tour through the encampment. We learned many interesting facts.

1. At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the officers on both sides wore red sashes, which made them easily identifiable on the field. In the style of the times, however, it was a 'gentleman's' war, and it was forbidden to deliberately target officers. Pretty soon the Americans grew tired of being gentlemen and started shooting at British officers. Soon the red sash became less often used.


2. Scurvy was combated by the British with limes, which they imported from the Indies. That's why the Americans called the Brits "limeys." The Americans were blocked from access to trade, so they concocted lemon-grass mixed with sugar plum. The surgeon at the camp let Nil and I try some 'scurvy paste'. It was very good; it tasted like vitamin C. Surprise, surprise!

3. At the beginning of the war, the muskets the Americans had were originally bought from England. Needless to say, this supply of muskets was soon curtailed. Later, the Americans got a supply of superior muskets from France, called the Charleyville. Basically, we can thank France for our independence. (Eat up those 'freedom fries,' dudes).

4. We also learned that the phrase "sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite," comes from Colonial times. The mattresses were held up by rope, which had to be frequently tightened, or you would unfortunately sag in the night. (Especially if you were sleeping with a very fat sailor). As for bed bugs, well, I guess they were common in straw mattresses.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Gettysburg

My unit, the 22nd Massachusetts Infantry Volunteers, Company D, went to the Gettysburg reenactment this past week. Sadly, I decided not to go for various reasons, but got some of these fantastic photos from another member. I chose a few to give you the sense of realism. Thousands of reenactors participate at Gettysburg each year. Just like the 'real' battle, it is a 3 day event, though (hopefully) no one gets killed or injured. (In July, 1863, 51,000 died) I went some years ago as a spectator. The visit was what finally prompted me to join a unit. It was like stepping back in time to 1863.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hobbies & Leisure Activities

  • Tai Chi X
  • take basic Norwegian
  • literature class
  • bookmaking
  • hang-gliding
  • take Spanish
  • learn film-making software
  • make new business cards X
  • antique fair
  • zine #4
  • make t-shirts X
  • play cello X
  • bird feeder/bird watching
  • ghost hunting
  • metal detector/treasure hunting
  • boxing gloves/punching bag X
  • archaeological dig
  • meditation class
  • cycling
  • basketball for dummies
  • flower boxX
  • fir tree X
  • graveyard hopping

Yoga

Just got back to doing yoga on a weekly basis. I'm enrolled in a gentle yoga class. I didn't want to make participation too challenging at first. It feels very good to be back.

Here are some of my favorite poses, an extremely challenging pose, and a love/hate pose.


I love:

Triangle Pose...........................and Warrior II

I find Bridge Pose very challenging.

And I have a love/hate relationship with Downward Facing Dog.......
and Tree Pose

Monday, July 7, 2008

Mt. Cardigan, NH

Spent the 4th of July weekend in Alexandria, NH, near Bristol, at the AMC Mt. Cardigan campground. The weather was fantastic, and we had fine company and a great time. On Wednesday I spent time with my family in Maine, then my sister Jen and I headed over to Bristol, NH on Thursday morning from the Portland area. It was an idyllic ride through pretty NH and ME towns and past farm land and meadows, all the while listening to Fleetwood Mac. We arrived and set up camp. We were the first campers on site.

On Friday a large group of us headed up the Holt and Clark trails from the campground, to the summit of Mt. Cardigan (3,155 ft.). The trail was fairly moderate until the last 1/4 mile, which consisted of open slabs of very steep rock. Luckily it was not too windy, but the sun was hot. The summit offered fantastic, panoramic views. We ate our lunch then headed down the Manning trail. The trail ran along the summit for awhile, on open, rocky ridges with blueberry bushes and shrubs. The views were great. Once in the woods again, the trail was steep for the rest of way down.
Our group of hardy ladies and sensitive men, resting on the summit

On Saturday all the gals went kayaking on the Pemigewasset River. It was all downstream so the paddling was leisurely, except when we ran into some cross winds. We stopped for lunch and a swim, on a sandbar. We were the only folks around. The water was deliciously refreshing, and the temperature perfect. It was a great time and fine weather.

Kayaking 101 For Dummies
video

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Continuing Adventures of Barbie Dyke

Ooou Wee! Barbie Dyke has a "friend!!!!!"


Whoa! You can't wear those shoes when you scoot Barbie!!!