The on-going adventures of Lee and Miller

So, Tuesday, September 11, Steve and I arose, and left the house in the possession of the housesitter, wending our way to Connecticut in the rain. We broke our drive in Lewistown, at Fran’s, so that I might celebrate my birthday in style, with a breakfast of blueberry crepes.  It was still raining after breakfast, as we continued our drive, arriving at Carousel Convention Headquarters in Windsor Locks, Connecticut about 2:30.  Our base camp was in a Marriott, and I must say it was among the…silliest hotel rooms I’ve stayed in, along a lifetime of staying in hotel rooms of various ilks.

Who in ghod’s name thought it was a Good Idea to design a hotel room with ONE DRAWER, a closet with no door on it, and a couple of random open shelves?  Our reservation was for five days.  Does Marriott Corp actually think that I’m going to throw my stuff in piles in the corners?  Or not unpack?  For five days?

Stupid situation.  I was, and remain, unimpressed.  This may actually put me off of Marriott properties.

Complaints aside, I went downstairs to do my appointed shift at registration, met a lot of nice people, including Irene Harrison (who I know from the Science Fiction Side) and also the mother of one of my writer colleagues.  Small world.

Dinner was had; I scored a batwing horse at the Roundabout Faire (aka the Dealers Room), and we listened to a very interesting lecture by Jeff Briggs, the creator of the Boston Greenway Carousel.  Eventually, we sought our bed, rising at an absurdly early hour in order to board the charter buses for a 7:30 departure for? The Carousels!

Now, a couple things about the convention.  First — This was the largest convention the National Carousel Association had ever hosted — by about 100 conventioneers, 50 of us newbies.  Second — This meant that there were four tour buses in train.  Third — it was raining on Wednesday as we boarded our coaches, and pretty much it rained all day, except (this is important) when we arrived at a carousel.  Then, the rain stopped; and I wanna tell you — it’s rare you get a bus driver who’s that good.

The rain, however, did play havoc with the traffic, and we ran late all day.

Wednesday was the pre-con Bonus Day, and we were scheduled to — and did! — visit four carousels.  Our first was the Native Species Carousel in The Greenway Boston.  Here’s a picture from that carousel.  I note, as it was said to me, that this rabbit does not go up and down, though his carrot does.

After everyone — that’s 240 people, now — had ample time to take photographs, and everyone had a ride on the carousel, we reboarded our buses and went out to Hull, where the remains of Paragon Park, including Philadelphia Toboggan Company Carousel #85, sits at the edge of the sea.

The Paragon Park carousel was the. . .saddest of the day’s four carousels.  It was plain that the association was trying their damndest to keep the carousel and to restore it, but. . .there’s work to be done.  I note, for those interested, that there is an adoption program for the Horses of Paragon Park.  Here’s your link.   And!  Here’s a photo of a horse being restored at the on-site workshop:

And, here’s a picture of a jumper on PTC #85:

I will also mention that the sea was magnificent at Hull, waves crashing against the seawall, and spray flying over the parapet to soak inadvertent visitors.  Nice day.

From Hull, the buses swept us, in good time, to the Heritage Museum, which combines gardens, a transportation museum, and a Herschell/Looff combined carousel in all but mint condition.

My back had started to hurt, so I opted to walk from the bus to the carousel, about a quarter mile, I guess, through a really pleasant and peaceful garden, with interesting plantings and thought-provoking installations.  We may have to go back, more into the season, to do the garden justice.

The carousel had been collected in pieces by a Mr. Lilly (I did not achieve clarity on whether this was Mr. Eli Lilly of pharmaceutical fame, or another Lilly altogether), which is why it’s a Herschell/Looff.  Most of the animals were horses, but, having been bought in pieces as it was, there were extra animals.  Three goats made it onto the carousel itself.  Some of the extras were mounted along the carousel’s promenade, and still others were sold to another carousel enthusiast.  Here’s a picture of one of the extra animals:

Steve joined me for the walk back to the bus, and we proceeded to Battleship Cove, there to view Philadelphia Toboggan Company Carousel #54.  By this time, we were two hours and change behind schedule, and my back was really starting to say nasty stuff.

So nasty was my stuff, in fact, that I did not get off the bus to see PTC 54.  Steve did view this carousel, and will perhaps lend one of his photos to at a later time.  I understand it is a very nice carousel.

From Battleship Cove, it was on to West Springfield, and a group dinner at The Nippon Grill and Seafood Buffet, joining up with still more of our group who had not opted for the Bonus Day Tour.

We returned to the hotel around 10:30 pm, having boarded the buses at 7:30 am.  It was, yes, a long day.

. . .which segued into a long night as my back went ballistic.  I finally faced reality — that being that there was No Way I could do the next day’s tour of five carousels and a formal dinner/presentation, if I didn’t take the meds, and No Way I could do ditto, if I did take the meds.

So, I took the meds.

I will pause here to recall that, of all the challenges I had identified with regard to participating in a carousel convention, I didn’t even consider the wear and tear  visited upon a human body by sitting fourteen hours on a tour bus.

Steve and I evaluated the situation and our various options and decided that it would be best for all concerned to withdraw from the convention, which we did.  And then we drove home.

The long way.

Steve drove, I did not take meds, though I may have been guilty of using the heated passenger seat.  We would drive for. . .a time, an hour? two hours? and stop at a likely looking place to go for a walk. We did a thorough tour of Keene, New Hampshire, which is awfully interesting at first hand; which led to a thorough tour of Toadstool Books.  We eventually raised Portland, where Steve had some Serious Shopping to do, so we took a suite off of Payne Road, hunted and gathered an excellent dinner from the Sebago Brewing Company, and so to bed.

The next day, we rose late, breakfasted at IHOP, and hit the mall.  Steve was shopping computers, so I hung out at Best Buy with him.  I talked myself out of a Razer tactile keyboard (wow, does that keyboard feel good), because it’s flat and I’d kill my wrists using it, even though the clicky keys are to die for.  I was not so persuasive regarding a pair of Nikon binoculars, replacing the Bunnell mini-binoculars that I won in a sales contest mumble years ago — 4×30, which I clung to because they were light enough for me to hold.  The Nikon binoculars are 8×42 and weigh just a smidge more than the minis, and now I can watch the yard very closely indeed.

At the Maine Mall, we found Brookstone going out of business, and Steve scored all sorts of goodies, including a yummy fleecy throw.  We also stopped for pretzel bits at a — gasp! — pretzel stand, where the young lady behind the counter gave me a Susan B. Anthony dollar as a quarter.  When I showed her the error, she was astonished; had never seen an Anthony dollar.  I bought it from her with a folding dollar so she didn’t make the same mistake again.

We did quite a bit of walking, what with going up and down the Mall, so we did a little shopping at Shaw’s to stock our in-suite fridge, then went back and took a nap.  That evening, we walked around the neighborhood and took pictures. of interesting things.

Here, have an interesting thing:

Next day after breakfast we proceeded through the Dense Fog to the Maine Fine Craft Show being held at Camp Ketcha on Black Point, where among all the other beautiful art things, we met a guy who makes door pulls out of rocks.  I think we’ve found the compromise between Steve wanting door pulls on the new pantry, and me wanting no such thing.  I can live with rock door pulls.

After the craft fair, we went exploring, and found ourselves at Crescent Beach, which is a state park.  We came to the ranger’s kiosk before we found a place to turn around and thereby discovered An Amazing Thing.

Maine residents sixty-five years or older may enter any Maine state park for free.

Who knew?

Well. . .we knew.  Now.  And so we visited Crescent Beach.  The fog was still Epic, but we walked up and down a bit, thereby discovering another thing:  You can get a passport at any Maine State Park at the beginning of the season, and there are passport stamping stations, at each park, so you can stamp your passport.  Which is kinda cool.

Leaving Crescent Beach, Steve headed us out still further on the point, and thus we came to Two Lights Park — a Maine State Park.  We tested our newfound knowledge and were let into the park with a cheerful, “Have fun!”  And so we did.  Two Lights deserves a day-long visit on a day with significantly less fog.  Still, we walked up and down a bit, and took pictures.  Here, have a picture:

We also found Yet Another Amazing Factoid, which is that the National Lighthouse Association has LIGHTHOUSE Passports, which you can get stamped at — wait for it — lighthouses all over America.

Leaving Two Lights, we drove until we were in Portland, and of course we had to visit the Portland Breakwater lighthouse, aka Bug Light.  It was still foggy, which made picture-taking tricky, but here’s a moment of Bug Light in the sun:

We spent ‘way too much time at Bug Light, and were late getting lunch.  Happily, we found ourselves in Old Port, and there! right on the corner where we’d stopped for traffic was — the Empire Kitchen.  We parked the car and had a really interesting Chinese dinner, including the house-made broad noodles, steamed pork buns, green beans with garlic….mmmhmm.  Probably a good thing they’re in Portland and, mostly, I’m not.

Sunday, we shifted to Old Orchard Beach, and a room at the Skylark that Steve had arranged for, pre-convention.  We were told that there was a whale in the Gulf, between shore and the Audobon society’s island, which several of our fellow Skylarkians were fortunate enough to both see and photograph.  Our luck was not on that angle, sadly.  I’ve never seen a whale, myself.  Must go on whale cruise…

So, a pleasant afternoon and evening at the ocean, walking up and down the beach and downtown, followed by a pleasant supper.  Next morning, we rose early, failed to sight the whale in the yet-again Epic Fog, and drove to the new IHOP in Saco (for locals — where the China Clipper had been for approximately 10,000 years).  And there something…strange happened.

We paid our bill with cash, and our change was to be $9.55.  Which the waitress brought to us in the form of nine one dollar bills, twelve pennies, two nickles, and two dimes.  The advertant will immediately see that this is short by thirteen cents.  It was also the weirdest change I’ve ever gotten.  This was 7:45 am on Monday.  Was the drawer in that bad a shape?  Did our waitress not know how to make change, even though the cash register told her how much change to give?  Could she not do the math that would have allowed her to know that a five dollar bill and four ones is nine dollars?  Or that two quarters and a nickle is fifty-five cents?  I continue to be baffled.  I said to Steve at the time that I wasn’t going to “fight over thirteen cents,” but after our waitress came back to ask if we “needed change” and threw an obvious glance at the table to see if there was a tip waiting, added, “but I will blog about it.”  And now I have.

We reluctantly checked out of the Skylark, and headed to Oquossoc, which was an excuse to trade sea level for height of land, and overlook the Rangeley Lakes.  Here’s a picture:

We headed down via Route 4, stopping in Farmington for lunch at Soup for You!, and again in Waterville at the grocery store, and so arrived home around 6 pm last night, to the initial confusion, and subsequent delight of four cats.

Today has been an unpacking, bill paying, and blogging day.  I haven’t walked enough.  Must remedy that.

Tomorrow, we get back to business.

. . .and now?  You’re all caught up.

Dragon Ship

So, yesterday, Steve and I betook ourselves to Rockland, there to tour the Draken Harald Hårfagre, the world’s largest Viking ship sailing in modern times.  It says here.  In fact, the Draken is not historically accurate, by which I mean it is not a recreation of an actual Viking ship recovered from the depths or found sleeping in a bog.  It’s a Viking ship given shape by the enthusiasms of one guy, who managed to talk a bunch of other guys into Doing This Thing (history of the project here).  That said, the Draken is Awesome.

It was built traditionally, and as the crewman who led our tour describes it — the ship “swims” in the water, much like, oh, a sea serpent.  There was also a description of the effort and engineering that goes into raising the main mast and letting out the sails.  The mast weighs. . .I’ll get any number wrong, so let’s just say, A Lot.  It takes about a dozen people, working with a large screw set in the deck to raise it.  The technique is to raise it halfway, which is Hard Enough, then swing it out past the shrouds, release the sail, and then go back to the screw to bring the mast vertical to the ship.

On a previous voyage, the mast — snapped in half; one half fell into the sea; the other half to the deck, where it did not crush anyone, but did trap a crewman below-decks (he was in the head; no escape hatch in the head; they hadn’t thought they’d needed one.  “We’ve got one now,” said our guide.)

The new mast has a bit of graffiti on the base:  If found, please return to Draken Harald Hårfagre. . .

I took a couple pictures on my phone.  Steve took a whole series with his camera.  For those who can see Facebook, they’re here.

After the tour, we did the Full Tourist, buying t-shirts, a book-and-CD set. Steve bought one of Odin’s ravens; I’m not sure if he’s got Thought or Memory.  May have to ask it.

We did learn that the Draken is now charging for tours because the man who caused it to be built no longer wishes to fund the ship out of his pocket; and it must be self-sufficient.  Which means, if it comes to a port near you — please take the tour; it’s not only cool, but you’ll be keeping the Draken out of mothballs.

After the tour, we came home the long way, ate lunch and got to work.

And now. . .it’s time for me to get to work, again.

 

The writers, goofing off

So, after some few unrelenting days of Brutal Heat (for Maine values of “Brutal”) and Unavoidable Stress, yesterday was called for mid-to-high-70F/21C, and sunny.  Steve and I looked at each other and said, more or less in unison, “You wanna get out of the house?”

We determined to head for Old Orchard Beach and adjust course as seemed good.  We did arrive at Old Orchard, but it was one of those windless days when the sea was as exciting as water in a  bathtub, so we got back in the car and went to survey Camp Ellis, which, though still showing the considerable scars from the last storm has taken on the Mantle of Summer.  People were on the beach (such beach as Camp Ellis has ever lain claim to), people were sailing, and fishing and doing Normal Summer Things.  You’d almost come to believe that the Camp would survive the next storm, and the one after that, too.

On our way out of the Camp, we saw the sign for Seaside Pottery, and, being in need of pottery, we turned right.  The shop was closed, to open at 2 pm, so we got back in the car and headed for Wells.

The sea was much more satisfactory at Wells; there was a brisk breeze off the ocean and high tide was proceeding with vigor.  We stood on the seawall for a while, with about a hundred other people who had come from such far flung places as Massachusetts, New Jersey, Iowa, and Colorado, to overlook the ocean at Wells.  I took a small walk into town and did a Tourist Tour of the nearby gift shops.  We’ve been going to Wells for years and years, and I’ve never been inside one of those shops, though we have had lunch and ice cream at the town landing.

We headed back to Old Orchard Beach, keeping a sharp out eye for pottery shops.  We didn’t find any, though there are a lot of antique shops on Route One.  Holy cow, are there a lot of antique shops on Route One.

We stopped at the Maine Diner for lunch, and I continued the tourist theme by buying a t-shirt.  After, we continued up Route One and I. . .bought a white sea rose (rosa rugosa*, to you) at Wallingford Farm, and as soon as I finish this blog post, I’ll be taking myself to the back yard to dig a hole.

We came back to Camp Ellis to find Seaside Pottery open, and spent some time with Renie, the potter, and Cooper, her English spaniel.  Sadly, we were not able to do business, and continued back up-coast to Old Orchard Beach, where we fed a parking meter a handful of quarters and went to pay our respects to the sea, which had decided that bathwater wasn’t a good look on it, and brought in some wind and waves.  After our visit, we headed to Pine Point, and eventually to I95 toward home.

We did stop at the Maine Center for the Arts at the Gardiner exit, pottery still on our minds, and gathered the cards of several who had their wares on the shelves.  I bought an art tile coaster for my desk; Steve bought chive vinegar and blueberry gingerbread mix, and honey tea in a jar (not quite sure how that works).  There was very interesting Spanish-language music playing, and I tried to buy the CD, but was told by one of the counterfolk that they were listening to Cuban Radio Pandora, which I’m listening to as I write this.

So, that’s it!  Today, I dig a hole, and fill it halfway with water, according to the instructions received at Wallingford Farm.  When the water recedes, I put fertilizer mixed with sand in the bottom of the hole, then the rose bush.

I also need to make some phone calls, and possibly go into town  to the end of the road, to do some banking.  Oh, and also, write.

We really, really need to remember to take a day off to do silly, frivolous stuff every week.  *makes a note*

. . .and that’s all I’ve got.

Hope everyone’s having a good week.

_______________________
* Burpee Seeds on Rugosa Roses  I especially like:  “Rugosa roses require little care and thrive on neglect.”

There and back again

So.  A couple weeks ago, Steve and I became involved in a Plot.  It was a Very, Very Sekrit Plot of the most desperate sort.  Most of all, it needed to be kept Sekrit from the Intended Recipient, who not only reads our Facebook pages scrupulously, but is notoriously hard to fool.

We therefore stealthily announced a few days electron-free, and then we scurried out of Maine, down-down-down South, to Gloucester, Virginia, to participate in a Surprise Birthday Party for Aunt Edwina — 75 years!

The party was a massive success; the recipient was surprised; the food delicious, and the family-time priceless.

We left Maine on Wednesday afternoon, overnighted in Rutland, Vermont; charged down to Chambersburg, where we overnighted again, and thence to Gloucester, where we spent two nights, before turning around on Sunday, driving to Fishkill, New York; and, on Monday, driving the Strangely Unpopulated small and back-roads, starting with the Ticonic Parkway, and continuing the theme.

About those back roads. . .there’s a story, there.

We subscribe to what is in Maine called EZ-Pass, and is called other things in other states, but it involves putting your toll money in to an account with the Department of Transportation, and sticking a transponder on the windshield of your car.  You may then zoom through EZ-Pass only tollbooths, and entire EZ-Pass alleyways, never slackening your speed.  It’s a Very Great Convenience, and we have had our transponder since 2005.

. . .Which turned out to be a problem, that we discovered (naturally) at the tollbooth at Gray, Maine, where, instead of the automated system flashing THANK YOU when we passed through, flashed CALL DOT.

Um.  Oops?

Happily, the transponder had a phone number for DOT Customer Service printed  on it, and I, the passenger, had a cellphone.  After some initial confusion, we arrived at the conclusion that the transponder was, after 13 years in the sun, fried.  I mentioned that we were on our way to Virginia, and the young lady said that this was no problem, because there are back-up cameras at the EZ-Pass booths, which take a picture of your license plate.  Our license plate was correct in their files, so tolls would be automatically deducted from our account.

Then, she said, “I will activate a new transponder and send it to you, so it will be waiting for you when you get home.”

“Fine!” I said.  “Thank you very much.”  And gave her permission to deduct the amount for the new transponder from our account.

And so we went on our way, unmolested by the Toll Cops, all the way to Virginia.

It turns out that I should have paid more attention to that word, “activate.”

We were on our way home on. . .perhaps it was Route 88?  I have no brain for route numbers.  In any case, we came to a tollbooth in Southernmost New York state, one that had so recently been brought into the EZ-Pass system that the tollbooths still had gates that came down after Car One had paid its toll, to let it pass, and then came down an inch from the nose of Car Two.

And it was there, at this moderately busy and confused tollbooth, where the cameras had not yet been installed, that we learned the importance of that one word, “activate.”

Our transponder did not open the gate.  The toll worker who came by to see what the hold-up was (and it very quickly was a hold-up), took the transponder into the office, came out and said, “It’s inactive.  Can you just give me a dollar-fifty?”

We gave her a dollar-fifty.  The gate lifted.  We fled.  And we realized that, in order to minimize further aggravation on the rest of the way home, we ought — really ought — to avoid the toll roads.

And, the Back Road Plan was born.

It was an interesting ride, on roads we know pretty well; sparsely populated on a Monday in not-quite summer, and tolerably amusing.  Going over the mountain at Killington, we passed about a dozen cars engaged in The Great Race, going the other way.  We saw moderate amounts of wildlife, and green scenery and arrived home not very much later than we would have done, had we run the big roads (with a working transponder).

Arriving home, we found the new, activated transponder, which has been installed in the car.  The cats were initially Not Very Certain about us, but got over it quickly, sitting with us while we had pizza, a couple glasses of wine, and read our current book out loud.  Everybody piled into the bed for the Long Night Nap, and we got up in time to put out the trash this morning.  Groceries were, in good time, acquired, banking was done, and the Tree Guy contacted for a firm date for taking down the two dead pines.  Tomorrow will be a work-and-laundry day.  Thursday, the Cleaning Guy comes to give us an estimate on bi-weekly cleaning of the house, and, yanno, Life Goes On.

I did take a walk around the back yard today, being pleased with a high temp of 76F/24C as opposed to the 92F/33C we saw in More Southern Climes.  I do like this house, and am very glad we found it.

And that’s my tale for the day, the moral of which is:  Be very careful when activating your transponder.

 

Day Off

So, today, I was scheduled for the mammogram following up January’s visit to Eastern Maine Medical Center’s Cancer Center in Bangor.  Happily, the follow-up was done at our local hospital, which is now exactly 3 minutes from our house.  Preliminary reading of the 3D picture indicates no change/no problem, so I get to do it again in December, to see if I’m three times lucky.

After the mammogram, Steve and I took the day off, as, in our opinions, we had earned a day off.  We drove down to Old Orchard Beach (the new house is one! half! hour! closer to the ocean!), where the shape of the beach has changed, under the pressure of the several violent storms over the winter.  We walked a little, observed the progress of the installation of the new rollercoaster in Palace Playland (Sea Viper.  Really?), and eventually drove down to Camp Ellis, where the damage is. . .considerable, and rather shocking.

Eventually, we wound up in Kittery, where we turned around, sort of, arriving in York via back roads, and finally pausing at the Maine Diner for a late lunch of Maine-style crabcake and potato salad.

We paused at the Maine Mall to buy new shoes, which both of us have been needing for some time, and I find to my considerable joy that my beloved Dansko oxfords, which was discontinued several years ago, had merely been taken off the market briefly so that they could be made to accept a variety of orthopedic devices.  They are now back!  And yes, I bought a pair to replace the pair I have been wearing despite I shouldn’t — and also a pair of sneakers, though at that price, I ought to find — ah.  Athletic Shoes.

We are now home, having stopped at the grocery to take on needed supplies, and I’m about to finish my day with some meditation followed by a glass of wine.

Tomorrow, is the rumored delivery of the long-anticipated pantry.  If it does, indeed, arrive, it may be installed by Friday.  *fingers crossed*

Beyond that — tomorrow, we go back to work.

And that? Is all I’ve got.

Everybody have a good evening

Errands done; and so to work

Got up early to make the trek to Skowhegan and Steve’s eye doctor.  Matters have stabilized, on that front, so — yay! stabilization!

Came home via the post office — whereby hangs a tale, which I will now tell to you.

My Formal White Tiger pen was listed as Out for Delivery by the USPS on Saturday, but did not arrive.  It is not, I will note here, Completely Unusual for the Saturday delivery-person to fail deliver packages. She simply leaves them for the regular weekday guy, because — I have no idea.  Packages hard, I guess.

So, this morning, I looked back to the site to see if indeed my pen was listed as “out for delivery” with the guy who actually does his job, but found instead a note that delivery had been attempted on Saturday, late afternoon, but nobody was home, so a note was left.

Which was…pure, unadulterated mud. First, we were home all day Saturday.  Second, we got our mail ‘way early, as we tend to do on Saturday.  Three, nobody from the post office came by the house during the late afternoon.  Four, no note was left.  Five, it wouldn’t have mattered if there was anyone at home anyway, because the package didn’t require a signature.

I called the post office and explained the situation.  As it happened, the allegation that a note had been left meant that the package was not out for delivery, but was waiting at the post office, until I called with instructions.  Which I would have never known — because no note — if I hadn’t looked at the website and discovered this, um, deceit.

So, anyway, Deirdre, who was on the desk when I called, was as helpful as one woman could possibly be.  She listened to the problem, said she would go find the package now, if I would let her put me on hold.  It took her twelve minutes to find it, but find it she did, and, at my instruction put it at the front desk so when I came to pick it up, it would be easy for whoever was then on to find.

That part went according to plan.

So!  Eye doctor, post office, grocery store, and so to home, eagerly anticipating the meal Steve had started in the slow cooker before we left home, except!

There had been a minor power outage while we were gone.  Too short for the generator to take note of and kick in, but more than long enough to reboot the slow cooker, which started a count-down-to-cooking, which meant that?

Yes — you in the back?  Yes; thank you.  Exactly that.

Dinner wasn’t ready when we got home, starving.

Today’s dinner plans were therefore amended to hot dogs on French onion rolls, and leftover macaroni/veggie salad.  We’ll have today’s dinner tomorrow.

Speaking of the weather…today at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory it is 64F and raining.  The plants I put in yesterday are significantly perkier than they were at planting, so I’d say that timing was just about right.

As I mentioned in another venue, yesterday’s writing session produced! a True Epiphany (or as a friend says, with a bow in the direction of his spellchecker — an Apostrophe).  Epiphanies often require a lot of frogging, rearranging of scenes, re-assessing motivations, and just what seems to be a whole lot of backward motion when all instincts are screaming, “I have to make words, dammit!”

Experience teaches us that True Epiphanies almost always deliver a stronger, better story, if the writer is willing to bite her tongue and do the work.  Also, if the writer decides not to do the work?  The Epiphany has a way of forcing its point, later, when the amount of necessary frogging leaps from a few pages to a hundred, and sleepless nights and alcohol abuse enter the equation.

So, I’ve got some unwriting to do today — not much, happily, because we caught this in plenty too much time.  I may even get a start on rewriting.

And the roads, they roll.

Oh, and the new pen is gorgeous.  I’m really going to enjoy having it with me at Confluence.

Here, have a picture of both fountain pens, all snug in their traveling wallet:

Let the record show…

…that I did work today, which is notable, and now it is noted.

The work consisted of digging three holes, which isn’t as easy as you might think, those of you who unaccountably do not live on two acres of glacial moraine, or at the very least two acres of shale thinly covered with what we’ll call soil.

Why, you ask, was I moved to do work on a fine Maine morning when I ought to have been, um, writing?

Well, I’m glad you asked that question. Alert readers will recall that several days ago I acquired, in defiance of both the Lawn Guy’s Assistant, and the neighbor’s road-crossing, if not actually free-ranging chickens, plants for the Cat Garden, which has, through the direct intervention of said Forces of Nature more or less become a Weed Garden.

It had been hot and humid the last few days, not at all the sort of weather to encourage a sedentary and overweight author of more than middle years to go outside and dig holes in the garden.   So, I left the plants, in their pots, in approximately the locations I had chosen for their eventual homes.  I watered them each day, but they were looking sort of droopy and sad by this morning, so it was just very fortunate that today was gorgeously blue, and breezy, and dry, and of a temperature that someone who lives in Maine would find reasonable for July.

So! Three holes.  Not exactly in the locations previously chosen — did I mention we live on shale?  Also there are trees, and trees have roots.  Lots of roots.  No, really; look it up.

In between the rocks and roots, then — three holes.

One hole for the Cherry Pops Bee Balm which replaces the Murdered Bee Balm of yesteryear.  Bee balm attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and, well, bees.  This particular sort claims to be deer and mildew resistant.

One hole for the Wishing Well Plantain Lily, aka Hosta Wishing Well.  This plant attracts hummingbirds and has a mounding habit, so I envision a Mountain of Hosta in my future.

The third and final hole — actually the first dug — was for the White Frost Hemerocallis — aka a day lily with a curly yellow trumpet not only bigger than my head, but damn’ near bigger than Trooper.  It is two feet high.  Who can say no to a two-foot-high day lily that has flowers the size of a coon cat?  It’s big enough to be sentient.  Indeed, I have some hope that it will be writing next year’s book.

I will also mention here that I have received and have been testing various bug repellents.  It is in my mind to go with the least application that is still effective.  To that end, I began today with the bug repellent bracelet, fully expecting that I would need to come inside and upgrade.

In this, I was disappointed.  I did hear one rather insistent buzz, but closer inspection revealed the author to be a hummingbird, who was apparently under the impression that he was paying me for these plantings, and I could pick the pace up a bit, if I didn’t mind.  Or, given hummingbirds, even if I did mind.

So, having now made the record complete, I believe I’ll. . .

. . .do some work.

 

Gang aft a-gley

Ah, my dear friends, I have a terrible dilemma before me.  Both Olga and Natalia wish to be my wife; each has written several times to me of their passion. They are equally attractive; both are looking for love, but neither appears to be able to do laundry.

Well.  That’s really not a dilemma at all, is it?

So, today was an odd day.  One of those days where Things Got Done, but they were Entirely the Wrong Things.  On the other hand, a day that includes a milkshake and an unexpected ride in the country can’t be too far awry.

At least, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

I did make it to gym and waked for miles.  My “gym book” this go is a Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal, and a buncha other awards, soon, I’m told to be  Major Motion Picture.  Again.

AWIT was published when I was 10 years old.  Despite this, I didn’t read it (the first time) until I was an adult.  It was sitting on a table in EJ Korvette’s in…damned if I remember — Towson, probably.  Anyhow, remainder table, one among many of its own kind, and many others, not necessary of its kind.  I was waiting for my then-boyfriend to finish up doing something or another, and started to read AWIT, as the most interesting looking book on the table, and by the time he re-appeared, I’d tessered once already and wasn’t about to miss the rest of the story.  It was a buck I never regretted spending.

I read AWIT a couple times since then, but not for 20 years or so — found the sequels, but none of them held my interest beyond the first two pages. . .  So, yanno, life goes on; so many books, so little time; and all like that.

But AWIT is going to be coming out as a movie next year; this time, so the hype goes, done right, which means that lots of people who read it as kids, and who imprinted on it, are re-reading.  And some are being disappointed, and blogging about their disappointment (one more time from the choir: What an age we live in).  Now, by the time I’d read AWIT, I’d read. . .a buncha books, many of them science fiction/fantasy (Back when I started reading sf/f, you could easily read the monthly titles, and still have room left over for others kinds of books.  It just wasn’t possible, if you were any shakes of a reader at all, to read only science fiction.).  I thought AWIT was a good enough book.  Certainly, the Mrs. Whatsit, Who, and Which have pleasantly improved my inner life.  Meg irritated me — but Meg was supposed to irritate me.  Partly, after all, this was a story about Meg coming to terms with Meg, and if she could stand it, so could I.

I did have some reservations about the sudden appearance and utter acceptance of Calvin, especially the part where he liked Meg straight off.  Otherwise, he seemed like good enough kid.

Charles Wallace was being set up either as John the Baptist, or the new Christ figure, but I’d already read Perelandra, and Out of the Silent Planet and whassis — That Hideous Strength.  Plus, I’d been raised Roman Catholic.  All of which meant I was pretty good at ignoring the God-stuff and following the story along.

So, anyhow.  I read it back then; liked it well enough.  Read it a couple times more and liked it on rereads.

This time, I’m still liking it.  Meg perhaps annoys me less, but, then I know how the story goes, more or less.  I find that I misplaced a couple things on the timeline, but no big surprises so far. . .The Happy Medium, surprisingly or not, irritates me more than Meg does this time.  Hmm.

One of the reviewers I read was saddened by the fact that AWIT didn’t sing for them anymore, and blamed — the 60s (given a 1962 pub date, and its long history of rejection, AWIT was probably written in the late 50s).  The 60s, said the reviewer are just too unbelievable to a person of modern sensibility, and the story therefore suffers from its setting.

I will go on record here as saying that the 60s setting doesn’t detract from the story  at all, for this reviewer.  OTOH, I lived through the 60s.

So, that.

After gym, I ran the rest of the errands on my list — sadly, neither CVS nor Agway had any of the bug repellents I had pinned my hopes upon, so I wound up ordering from the internet, rather than shopping locally.

Agway did provide me with a ginormous lacy yellow day lily, a hug pot of bee balm and a Jimmy hosta with white bells (the hosta on the other end of the property have blue/purple bells).  I have probably under-bought, but the wallet gets a vote, and this will at least start a Cat Garden Renaissance.

For those keeping score at home, I remain Utterly Delighted with my new fountain pen, which has scarcely been out of my hand since I bought it.  So delighted am I, that I have purchased another Pilot Metropolitan, this is the formal White Tiger color scheme, and blue ink, so I will have a fine signing pen at Confluence.

And that?  Really is all the news that’s fit to print.

Everybody stay cool, or warm, as appropriate.

Eeeee!

Just made reservations for three nights at Niagara Falls.

This is Going to Happen!

Eeeee!

Moving on now to Binghamton.

Local-to-Binghamton NY folks:  Why is there no Carousel Tour?  Why is there no Carousel Package offered by any of the local hotels?  Golf packages — eh.  You can take your golf packages and pitch  ’em straight outta Broome County for all o’me.  A carousel package, now? You got my interest.

And now with all that excitement out of the way. . .

Time to go to work.

In Which the Authors Goof Off

There was a coin show in Augusta (Maine) today.  I have an occasional interest in coins, so Steve and I made the plan to get up “early”, go to Augusta, have breakfast at IHOP, go to the coin show, then come home.

Well.

We took Route 201 from Winslow to Augusta.  As we were motoring along, some little distance in front of us, on the left shoulder, a bald eagle spread it’s mighty wings, lifted about three feet off the ground, and — fell to the tarmac about two feet into the right lane.  He tried again, getting to the center line this time, and we could see that he had in his talons the limp body of woodchuck.

I had slowed considerably by this time, as one does, and the eagle, who had by this time attracted the interested attention of raven, tried it again.  This time he made it to the middle of the right-hand lane, about eight feet in front of the car, and there he made the Management Decision to leave breakfast where it was and come back when the damn nosy tourists had gone past.

I inched along, being careful not to run over breakfast, and slowly picked up speed.  A glance in the mirror showed breakfast still in the middle of the lane, and no sign of the eagle.  Happily, I suppose — at least for the eagle, and possibly the raven — it was early morning on Sunday, so there was a good chance of the eagle reclaiming his breakfast and hauling it to the trees on the right side of the road to eat in peace.

“Well,” said Steve, “there’s something you don’t see everyday.”

We eventually raised IHOP, where I ordered the spinach-mushroom-tomato-and-onion omelette, which turned out to be WAAAAAY bigger than my head, and, heeding the well-known warning, I ate about half, which was plenty enough, and set the rest aside.

Our waitress came by soon after, and, with a look of horror on her face, lowered her voice to ask, “Are you done?  Really?  Was it –” a furtive glance over her shoulder — “Was it gross?”

I assured her that it had been delicious, just much too much for me to eat, which seemed to puzzle her.  She was further saddened by I refused a box, by reason of the fact that we were going to be some hours away from refrigeration.

Sigh.

I need to figure out a better breakfast, if we’re going to eat often at IHOP, which appears to lack a senior menu.  Maybe ordering off the sides menu is the way to go. . .

Anyhow, breakfast eaten, we descended upon the coin show, where a vendor asked me what I collected.  I admitted to silver rounds, and he gave me a look of disdain.  “Silver rounds ain’t collectin’; it’s hoarding.”  Live and learn.  I came away with a copy of the 2017 Red Book, which I bought from the club table, to support the effort, and — despite my Mighty Vow that I would be buy nothing, I —

Let us backtrack a bit.

Those who have known me well — and, let’s face it, even fleetingly — know that I admire with great admiration the Connecticut quarter.  The one with the tree on the reverse.  Friends started to save them for me out of their pocket change; one of the vendors in Old Orchard Beach saved them for me; scant acquaintances, upon learning of my partiality, would drag their change out of their pockets to see if they had any “Tree Quarters.”

This all resulted in a rather embarrassing number of Connecticut quarters resident at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.  I laughingly told Steve that I had cornered the market on Connecticut quarters in order to drive the price up.

I thought I was kidding, but one of the things I learned today is that (according to two vendors, at least) most state quarters in Good condition are “worth” 50 cents.

The Connecticut quarter?  Is “worth” 90 cents.

So there you have it.

Oh.  And my purchase in addition to the Red Book?  A proof 1999 S Connecticut quarter.

I honestly didn’t think Steve was going to stop laughing.

Well.

After that, we stopped by Barnes and Noble, and then we went for a ride, coming home via Fairfield and the justly famous Belangers Drive-In, where we bought one haddock basket, one order of fried mushrooms, and brought it home to eat.  And it was plenty.  Then, we took a nap.

In all, a very satisfying day off.

How was your Sunday?