Friday, December 17, 2010

Almost another month

It seems like my blog entries should be more frequent, so that my vast audience doesn't drift off to another pseudo-pundit or random rambler, and leave me behind.  Well, I'm sorry that I just don't have regularly profound thoughts to share, or less profound expulsions of sound that I think might interest my huge readership, but I don't.  I have been pondering my third book, though my first two are still in the throws of completion: my first almost through the final edit, my second well into the first draft.  So why am I mulling a third?  Because that's the way my ever-aging brain works.  I suppose it should trouble me, this scatter approach to writing, but it doesn't.

That's pretty much all I've got tonight.  It's time to  take my random thoughts to bed and let them rest for another evening.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Time Passes

It's been more than a month since my last note.  Maybe I didn't have anything to say during those thirty-plus days. Or maybe life got in the way, as it tends to. Anyway, I'm here now, sitting at the periphery of this failed evolutionary experiment we call Humanity.

We're coming up on Shopping Season: when stores open early and close late, when Christmas music (holiday music if you need political correctness) from every available speaker in commerce-land. Retailers depend on this season to turn a profit, pundits speak endlessly about its effect on the economy, and harried parents herd hyper kids through all the glitter, to line up for a chance to sit on Santa's lap.

I love the season.  Not the one that begins the day after Thanksgiving, but the one that begins the few days before December 25th and remains until New Years Day.  Something changes.  I believe Humanity  releases an audible sigh, feeling perhaps that the Peace on Earth theme of the season may this time be real if only we can put aside pettiness, prejudice, privilege and remember who we really are.  It feels real during these few days, filled with goodness, pageantry, and light as peace should be.  


Whether the man who is the season's reason, was truly born on this date is irrelevant.  His message is peace.  Let's try it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Beauty in the Beast

Driving south today in my Miata, top down of course (and heater on hot), I saw a C5A military cargo aircraft circling Stewart Airport on a training run. Indirectly this is a machine of war, of destruction, supplying the troupes who are charged with prosecuting the absurd, un-winnable wars in the middle east. I was struck by the beauty of this impossibly huge machine slowly circling the field like a raptor lazily riding thermals as it searches for food.

The irony of a monster like that stirring images of the natural world in my aging brain, makes me wonder if those of us on either side of this ever-widening ideological chasm that is the USA could ever look across and see the beauty on the other side. Maybe, if we could, we'd begin to see the middle, the in-between where the realistic answers to our problems lie.

As old Will S. said, "'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished." Just sayin'.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hygiene Behind the Wheel

In my many years and many miles of driving, I have observed some bizarre activities from drivers, primarily traveling at speed on limited access highways.  Some of them are: reading a newspaper, leafing through a sheaf of papers (rehearsing some presentation?), shaving, putting on lipstick (visor down so vanity mirror can be used, and brushing/combing one's hair, to name a few.

The common ground has always been the super highway, where traffic is at least moving in the same direction although at lethal speeds.  Today I saw something unique: a woman executing a left turn onto Main Street in downtown New Paltz while brushing her teeth!  

Monday, October 4, 2010

Wherefore Oregon?

While in Baltimore this weekend visiting our youngest grand kids, we journeyed to Oregon Ridge Nature Center for a short hike. On the way Carol and I puzzled about the frequency and locations of the name Oregon: there is the state, the park we were driving to, the inlet spanned by the Bonner Bridge on the Outer Banks, and I believe there's an exit off I-78 to an Oregon, Pennsylvania. There are probably others but it just seemed odd enough to me that I began to wonder where the name originated. A cursory internet search yielded speculation that it was either Native American or French, but nothing definitive. I'm not, I think, going to engage in an exhaustive search - unless my curiosity forces me.

Also worth mentioning in the "Myth of American Equality" area, is that the road leading to the park, Beaver Dam Road, has a stretch of 1.2 miles marked "No Stopping or Standing." Now I've seen signs around prisons warning folks not to stop, but this was an area of mansions and thoroughbred horse farms. I wonder if I could get my street so marked?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Passer Passes

George Blanda died two days ago, ten days after his 83rd birthday.  For all of you wondering who in hell he was, click on his name; What I can tell you is that he was a great football player who finally left the game at the age of 49, still a great player.  Twenty-six years in pro football as a quarterback and kicker, and a winner.  He knew how to win.


I'm sad I had to postpone a trip to Louisiana this week.  The ailments of age seem to be sneaking up on me, or maybe rushing toward me, I don't know.   I want to say at this moment that I will never again postpone a trip that I have scheduled.  If a postponement happens, someone else will have done it.


I hope all who are able will attend Jon Stewart's attempt to inject some semblance of sanity into this bizarre country of ours by showing up in DC on the 30th of October.  Regrettably, I will not be there but many friends will.  The anger and venom that is constantly being spewed across the airwaves can't, according to our great constitution, be stopped, but at least in can be countered by people with less than murder in their hearts.  When you hear a political speech, commentary by a TV personality, etc.,  find out the facts.  One great, unbiased source is www.factcheck.org.  Before you believe, know what you're believing.


Enough for today.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Early Autumn Morning

I wake on our sleeping porch to the  coyote chorus down by the Wallkill River.  The crisp dry air and the light from the moon, two days past full, remind me of the coming color-wheel of autumn.  I don't know whether the coyotes or Carol's stirring woke me but, for now I'm up so I feed the cats, put a load of laundry in, and make coffee. 

I prepared my morning bowl of cereal, except for the yogurt, before feeding the cats, expecting that Elvis, my yogurt junkie, would be occupied in the basement eating long enough for me to add the yogurt then secure myself in my office.  As soon as I open the container, he is at my feet for his share. 

I finished reading Great Expectations yesterday, as enamored by Dickens' ability to construct a sentence as when I first picked up the book.  I controlled myself well enough to have dogeared only two pages in order to share his mastery with my writer friends at our next meeting.

Yesterday, while  exchanging empty beer bottles and money for full ones,  I greeted the clerk with the standard guy opening, "How's it going?"  His response, "Okay.  Except for the weather."  Confused, I agreed that it was a little warm, but the sunshine was pleasant.  His concern turned out to be that the warm weather would mess up the autumn leaf display.  I assured him that the change was due to the length of the day, but he still thought that warm days would keep leaves from turning (you may shrug here.)

We went to Marlborough, NY last night to hear Amy and Leslie at the Falcon Arts Center.  The venue is on 9W, the main street of the town.  It is a lovely performance space and a great idea at work.  There is no cover charge or admission, just a donation box in the entry hall.  All cash in the box at the end of the night goes to the performers, while the house earns it's money on food and drinks.  It seems to work out for all involved and has apparently become a very successful venture.

Enough for today.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Aint it funny how time slips away.

(Wow, that song lyric brings back memories - but not any I'm going to talk about today.)  It's been over a month since I last wrote, but you know that if you've looked at earlier posts.  Anyway, here I am.  Our Roadtrek camper is almost ready to go and both of us are scurrying around a bit taking care of last minute items before embarking on our cross-continent journey.  We'll be heading west through Canada then south to a few national parks we've yet to visit and finally back east across the US. 

I'll try to keep folks updated through regular entries here - how regular depends on internet availability.  I think this series will be titled Roadtrek Ramblings - how's that sound?  Gotta go back to preparations now.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Driving with the top down

After spending twelve hours in airports and aircraft on my way home from Louisiana, I was rewarded with a late night drive from Albany to New Paltz.


There's no better way to travel on a starry summer night than in a Miata with the top down.  I have a panorama of road, rocks, trees, and sky - endless sky, and so much more.

The smells are amazing.  From fresh cut alfalfa to wood smoke to barnyards to skunks and roadkill,  each scent bringing with it a memory for a few seconds, to be replaced by another olfactory trigger and another memory, like a slide show of my life.

The sounds too are different.  The constant roar of the wind, the Doppler effect of the trucks on  the northbound side, the Miata's exhaust making the tiny engine roar like a race car.  These things, unlike the smells, keep me in the present.

The refreshing coolness of the night air as the Miata slices through it at seventy makes me want to get off the Thruway and find a winding mountain road where the machine and I can commune with the night, but I've been away for a week and home is the stronger pull.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saturday night rain

Sitting on the porch listening to the rain, thunder rumbling in the distance, cats wandering from the house to the porch and back to urge me to come to bed so they can settle in all around me.  I just heard footsteps on the road.  I wonder who would be walking in the rain late in the evening.  From the steady, unhurried pace I'd surmise they were enjoying the walk on this pleasantly cool night.  Lights are on in Gail's house, but I think she's a night person anyway.  Bob's bathroom night light is on.  No other lights are visible.

I don't know why the sound of rain is so calming to me.  Maybe because I'm an Aquarius, the water bearer.  No matter, I'd rather listen than analyze anyway.

The steps are back.  They sound female.  They are gone again, disappearing quickly rather than fading, almost like she left the ground.  Fireflies flickering now, though it's still raining softly.  It's June so this qualifies as a summer rain even though we're more than a week away from the solstice.  I like summer rains.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Settled in at Home

On this lovely evening, I sit on my porch listening to a birdsong.  I am not a birder so I don't know who is making the mellow music for my evening, but I surely appreciate it.  May was another one of those months spent mostly away from home.  It was great spending time with our grandson Nick, but it's good to be back in New Paltz watching the sunset from the porch with two of our cats.

The tragedy in the gulf just keeps on keeping on.  It seems that finally BP cut the pipe that's been dangling down there for a month-and-a-half.  Every person I talked to in Louisiana, who had any experience with oil was angry that they hadn't cut the pipe.  You gotta wonder why it took them so long.  So much damage already done.  So sad.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mud Bath

Ojo Caliente Spa today.  Nick and I went to get a mud bath.  We added three others, iron, arsenic, and something else that had "soda" in the name.  Afterward we each got a massage, mine hot rock and oil, Nick deep tissue.  A great way to spend our last full day in New Mexico.  We dined at Louie's Corner Cafe, where we're getting to be regulars, and are now chillin' in our room.

I've had a great time and I believe Nick did also.  It's hard to tell because he's so accommodating to his "Pops."  Even so it was fun to spend a few days together on neutral territory.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wednesday in Chaco Canyon

Long drive this morning to show Nick one of my favorite places in my favorite state.  The 170+ mile trip to Chaco Culture National Historic Site ends with twelve miles of unpaved road that could rattle a car apart if one had to travel it every day.  We spent a couple of hours walking through the ruins of Una Vida, Pueblo Bonito, and Chetro Ketl and viewing the petroglyphs on the canyon wall.
North Side of Pueblo Bonito
Back in Santa Fe we chilled out for an hour or so before having a great dinner at the Galisteo Bistro, about a block up the street.  Nick and I sat at a counter where we could watch and actually talk to the two chefs which was a lot of fun.

Tomorrow is our last full day in New Mexico and the current plan is to visit the spa at Ojo Caliente.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Los Alamos

Nick and I spent the day in Los Alamos, walking around a bit then visiting the Bradbury Science Museum, yesterday.  The place is fascinating on a couple of levels: it didn't exist before 1943, and it was built on land taken over by the federal government "in support of the war effort."  The name was taken from the boys boarding school which was taken over as housing for the initial workers.  There is an eighteen minute film describing its construction that has some spooky elements to it.

The beginning flashes to Hitler reviewing troops interspersed with the exodus of German Jewish scientists to the USA.  Following that it describes the initiation of the Manhattan project and the need to isolate and congregate all the important scientists in one location to facilitate the cross-pollination of ideas.  Los Alamos was built as the isolated place where that could happen.  Security was so tight that the resident's driver's licenses had numbers not names, the address a PO box in Santa Fe; even birth certificates listed the PO box at the home of record.  Residents traveled under assumed names, when they traveled at all.  The focal point in Santa Fe was a civilian woman, owner of the PO box and the only link to the outside world.  A very strange beginning to what now seems like a fairly normal place.

Today we drove up to Taos and explored the town, which is now mostly boutiques and restaurants designed to keep tourists happy.  I was able to locate the terrific place Carol and I stayed when we were here however many years ago and photographed it to send to her.  We walked over to Kit Carson's home and museum but it was closed.  Neat thing: the guy who gave us that news was sitting under a sun shelter weaving baskets.  We turned to leave but he called us back and told us to go see Taos Pueblo and while he was talking he wove two "magic wands" out of red willow and gave us each one.

Before driving to the Pueblo we went to the Rio Grande Gorge and stood on the bridge watching rafters in the rapids several hundred feet below.  A few miles past the bridge we stopped at Earthship, a self-sustaining community off the power grid, and learned how the houses are built how water is gathered processed conserved and reused several times.  Much of the tour was a sales pitch to invest in the place but it was still really interesting.

Taos Pueblo is again tourist focused but the old adobe is fascinating to see.  We walked around for about an hour before wending our way back to Santa Fe by various back roads.  After an early dinner at the Blue Corn Cafe we came back and rested for a bit then went to the gym for a workout.  We are now chillin' in the room.  Tomorrow is an early and long day.

Monday, May 24, 2010

New Mexico morning

Our Grandson Nick and I arrived in Santa Fe yesterday afternoon to begin our five day New Mexico tour, a present for his high school graduation.  Both of us were exhausted from the graduation festivities: the ceremony at 7:00 pm on Friday, Senior Night at the civic center from 11:00 pm that night until 5:30 am on Saturday morning (I was photographing the fun), two baseball games starting at 1:00 pm where he played third in the first and pitched the final three innings of the second, and a home run contest which he entered.  Our plane left Lafayette at 7:15 Sunday morning so we were up at 4:30 to make the flight.  You can do the math and see there were not a lot of sleep hours left in the weekend.

Anyway, we're here and it's now Monday morning a little before seven, mountain time.  I've been awake about an hour but Nick's still out.  He's breathing through his mouth as he sleeps due to getting kicked in the nose at one of the Senior Night activity stations.  Considering there were over ninety kids exploring a dozen activities over six hours with only two minor injuries, it was a pretty safe night.  Nick's nose is hurting some so he's been taking Tylenol and using an ice pack regularly, but he was eager to take the trip even though I offered to postpone it until later in the year.

I am amazed at the growth in the city since the trip Carol and I made here ten or fifteen years ago.  There's a lot of sprawl in all directions but The Plaza is still much like I remember.  We're staying at the Old Santa Fe Inn, just three blocks away.  We walked around the area for a couple of hours before checking in because we arrived at the Inn a little after one and the former tenants had left only minutes before.  They had the room ready by three and both of us napped for a couple of hours shortly after checking in.  When we finally woke, we dined at a cafe a block away then came back to the room and watched TV and fell asleep around eleven.

The weather is magnificent!  It was about eighty, sunny, windy, with almost no humidity yesterday and I believe that's today's prediction.  Nick remarked that it was a funny feeling to be hot and cool at the same time.  When he rises, we'll decide what to do today.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Teasure in the Blue Ridge Mountains

This is another one of those months when we're home mostly to say "hi" to the cats and do laundry and then gone again.  We just got back from a six day jaunt to Birmingham in the new camper and are headed out again to Louisiana. 

On our way home, we stopped in Lexington, Virginia, a favorite place of ours in past trips and the location of Boxerwood Nature Center (www.boxerwood.org) to finally meet KB and Hunter, friends of Carol's sister Beth.  KB is the garden steward and they own a house on the property.  We had a relaxing evening, spent the night camped in their parking lot, and enjoyed a terrific breakfast cooked by Hunter the next morning.  Check out their website and visit the place if your ever in the area; it's a real treasure.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Catching up

I've been away from this much too long.  Between travel plans and carpentry projects I haven't had the inclination to sit down and write very often and then I work on the stories I'm writing/editing rather than this blog.  Speaking of writing, the Millrock Writers have an anthology out called A Millrock Writers Sampler.  You can find it on Lulu.com.  It's got stories and memoir pieces from eight of us.  Check it out.

This month is incredibly busy for me.  I'm in Birmingham now, leaving for home Sunday which will get me there Monday.  Thursday I head to Louisiana for Nick's graduation and from there to New Mexico with him for five days.  That pretty much eats up the rest of the month.

We're traveling in the new camper this trip.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wow!  I didn't realize I'd been away from this so long.  Not that I have much to muse on just now but we'll see what develops. 

We were up on the Walkway Over the Hudson this evening.  Every time I go up there I am struck by the beauty of the river.  I don't know whether it's seeing things from a different perspective or what but there's something really special about it. 

On the Poughkeepsie side, there's a place on the north side of the walkway just past the gate where someone has spent an outrageous amount of money to mask their back yard from view.  I mean they had huge phone poles planted and green screening strung along them.  I can't imaging what that cost but I know it doesn't work.  It only attracts attention to the place and you can see fairly well through the screening.  Weird.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Back Home

Back from a trip to Louisiana, spending a week with family.   The weather was remarkable, 70's and low humidity daytime and 50's at night.  Gotta love spring in the south. 

On the trip down, my connection out of Baltimore left late afternoon.  As we climbed toward our cruising altitude the low sun reflecting off the water, car windows, and skylights made it seem like diamonds were scattered all around.  Amazing what the right light can do to otherwise ordinary sights.  I arrived in New Orleans a little before 8:00 and was sitting in Kelly's kitchen in Patterson having a beer by 9:45. 

I am always nurtured by the beauty of the bayou country, the wood ducks and egrets starting their morning, the glassy stillness of the Teche before the locks open, it's a special place.  The one disturbing thing about being there is the lack of recycling of trash in the area.  bottles, cans, paper, motor oil, etc. are just tossed in the landfill.  The only place I've notice any recycling activity at all is at the local WalMart.  Paradoxically, I never see any trash floating on the Teche and very little along the roadsides.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Here we go

A while back I talked about the ever-expanding gulf between the political left and political right.  I worried that one of the outcomes could be civil war.  Well folks, now it begins.  One of the wingnuts in the Tea Party Movement in Oklahoma is prodding the state legislature to authorize the formation of a state militia - to keep the federal government from overrunning the state, I guess.  The really scary part is that there are apparently legislators considering the issue. 

http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0412/oklahomas-rightwing-lawmakers-aim-create-antifederal-militia/


Anyway, spring is springing, not quite sprung yet but on its way.  Let's hope the wingnuts on both sides let us enjoy it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Movie cliches

We watched Revolutionary Road last night.  I recommend it if you don't mind being depressed for a while. 

That said, I really want to see a movie scene where the actor is in a rage and does not sweep a bunch of crap off a table or desk or counter.  How about just having the person scream or something?

The Catskills are greening rapidly.  Our weeping cherry is in full bloom.  People are outside cleaning up their yards.  Spring is definitely here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Walking dogs

Carol and I returned yesterday from a long sunny camping weekend in Elk Neck State Park, Md.  I think spring is about here.

This was the shakedown cruise for our new camper and it performed flawlessly.  Nineteen mpg from a vehicle with a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom ain't too shabby.  I will be adding Roadtrek Reflections to the Rialta Diaries on my website in the not-to-distant future I suppose.  I have two more Rialta trips to edit and upload first.

I've got a question for anyone out there.  Does it make more sense to scoop up dog feces in a plastic bag that won't decompose for centuries, or to let it decompose by the roadside in less than a month naturally?  I can understand cleaning up after your dog in a populated area, but I've seen folks poop scoop on country roads and even in the woods.  Help me with this.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rituals

This is the planting season, the time when annuals poke their heads out of the earth and reach for sunlight, when farmers plant their early crops, when the spring rituals of Pesach and Easter arrive.

Rituals are comforting.  They help us measure the passing of time in ways that encourage us to move on and grow.  These two in particular are stories of passage and creation.  Pesach (Passover) celebrates the creation of Judaism as a religion under the guidance of Moses, Easter the creation of Christianity by the disciples of the slain teacher Jesus a few millennia later.  Both rituals speak to us of newness, of growth, of putting darkness behind us; much as spring signals the end of winter's darkness.

Enough philosophizing!  Happy spring everyone!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Old Times

I just spent half a day with former high school classmates planning our 51st class reunion.  Our organizer canceled last year because we didn't have enough people responding.  You have to understand that my high school graduating class contained sixteen people.  Three are deceased.  We decided this year to celebrate with the classes of '58 and '60, so that we would have enough folks to have a party.  What was the most fun today was reconnecting with a couple of people I hadn't see for several years.  We spent more time reminiscing than planning but it was all good.

The organizer of all this is someone I can only describe as a female "Mr. Rogers."  It's amazing to me to know a person who is as real as she.  She has a wry sense of humor, a strength of character that enabled her to raise special needs children, and a kindness that borders on mystical.  I am awed.

For anyone who's interested, there's a video of my hometown - Gilbertsville, NY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LP3RSOgDEMI

Friday, March 26, 2010

What happens

It's sadly funny how few of us in our old age are where we dreamed we'd be in our youth.  Being the scatterbrain that I am, I never really had a goal; I just kind of muddled through from one day to the next.  I was going to define my philosophy as 'existentialism' until I read the complex and, in some way conflicting descriptions of it.

More simply then, I am an exister.  I live from day-to-day not planning in any formal way, for planning is sort of silly when one has no clue how many days, hours, minutes, or even seconds lie ahead of one.  I don't think it's at all morbid to claim that I have no idea how much longer I have to live.  I don't fill every moment with useful endeavors; I waste time on things I enjoy, and on things I do to escape from or postpone things I must or should be doing.  I think trying to fill every remaining second with something meaningful, leads to stress and that leads to illness and shortens one's life, however long that may be.

Speaking of Words

There are some words in our wonderfully complex language that, though quite serviceable when written, should never be spoken.  These come to mind immediately:

Err
Eschew
Prix (or any of several other words taken directly from french)

Let me know of others.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Old Things

We have a really old clock in our living room; it was built in the 1860's. Once it may have chimed the hour but now it thunks, though quite reliably and accurately. It's actually a very pleasant sound in its own way. My wife winds it once a week, two keyholes, one for the clock, one for the thunk. You can tell it needs winding when the two small brick-like weights become visible in the window near the base of the clock. They hang by cords that look like baling twine. Winding the clock makes them retreat aloft into their places behind the mechanism to begin their week-long journey toward the base.

The clock has been in my wife's family for generations and I'm sure one of our kids will get it when we're gone. I hope whoever does will feel as comforted by the thunk as I do.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Gloomy Monday

Appropriate weather for all you folks who are gainfully employed. The beginning of another work week.

No More anxiety in this house, 'cause the other house passed the bill. It's a small step toward sensible health care in this our beautiful, dysfunctional country, but if we don't take the first step we will never get anywhere. Now we have, so let's see how well it works.

I have often wondered why those on the far right act with anger while those on the far left act with fear. Neither is very productive. Seems to me there are two possibilities for this politics of extremes that we currently experience. It's kind of an elastic band, either the ends will continue to pull apart until it snaps into some kind of civil war, or it will spring back toward the middle, where the real majority lives.

TTFN

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Another magnificent day in the Gunks.

We've been preparing our new camper for her maiden voyage(actually it's an RV but my former hippy wife won't admit to owning one.) I ended the love/hate relationship with our 2004 Rialta (www.gunkswriter.com/writings/rialta_diaries-part_1.pdf) when the hate far outweighed the love. We now own a 2010 Roadtrek, and for the first time in a few years I'm looking forward to a trip. My plan is to start the Roadtrek Diaries on this blog so keep watching.

Much anxiety in this house about the vote in the other house.
March 20 Musings:

Here it is the first official day of spring, and it actually feels like a spring day; go figure.

Anyway, I spent a good deal of the day outside trying to clear away some of the winter debris, stopping often to look at the jagged beauty of the Gunks.

We are on the eve of a major vote in the US House, the economy of the Empire State is in the crapper, and there's talk of closing Minnewaska State Park, We live in interesting times.

Movie recommendation: Ghost Writer. It's well written, well acted, and a gem of suspense.

To quote Tigger - TTFN