Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

November 29, 2011

Beautiful Tuesday

One of my friends from high school, Laurel Gage, comes from a very, very musical family.  It being a small town, her dad, Bobby Gage, went to school with my cousin Dickie, in the 1950's.  Bobby is very well known in the area for his country western music and he owned a club called For the Good Times, 'back in the day'.  So it came as no surprise that Laurel's son, Matty, has picked up the musical torch with his band, Beautiful Tuesday.  Their popularity is beginning to snowball around here, as they are very tight and very good.  They just got back from making their official video for "(I'll Prove You) Something More", a great tune with a strong anti-bullying message. Matty is the cutie on guitar.  You can also check out their blog HERE.  Their mission is to bring the topic of bullying to the forefront and help those kids who feel hopeless to realize that they are  'something more'.

 I hope you take the time to give it a listen; you won't be sorry.  

November 27, 2011

The Curse of November 27th, or, "Crappy Birthday to Me"

My birthday is cursed.  It really is.  I'm turning forty seven twenty-twenty-seven this year and I admit, despite my happy new life, I am dreading apprehensive about the day.  While "nothing good ever happens on November 27th" isn't a totally accurate statement, looking back over the years, I remember my birthday as a time when I was either sick and/or something bad happens, or had just happened.  There were, however, a handful birthdays that were healthy and disaster-free, but those were few and far between.

My first awareness of this is when I was turning 4.  These are among my oldest, though badly fragmented, memories.  My maternal grandfather had lung cancer and my mom took me to Yonkers, NY where we stayed for three weeks, when he was dying.  My dad stayed on the Cape to work, and came back down for Thanksgiving/my birthday.  I missed him horribly and my Uncle Joe, bless him, did his best to step in as temporary dad during that time.  I remember laying on my grandmother's couch, crying for my daddy and Aunt Lee sitting next to me, talking soothingly, reassuring me that I'd see him soon.  My grandfather passed away and was buried the morning of my 4th birthday.  Grieving, the family had to put on a brave face after the funeral, so as to have a party for me at Aunt Lee & Uncle Joe's house. 

Here's me at my grandmother's apartment, after that party.  Mom made me wear the  Maryjane at least show that this was a photo of a 4 year old GIRL child...instead of letting me wear my new, red cowboy boots, on the footstool (further cementing the fact that I would resist all attempts at femininity for the rest of my life).

When I was growing up, I got sick a lot on my birthday, and always with bronchitus.  There were very few birthdays and/or Thanksgiving holiday weekends that I didn't have it or came down with it.  It got to be a joke.  Everyone knew I was gonna get sick at some point, and I always did.  This carried through college and into my 30's. Mom always insisted on taking a birthday photo each year, and a few of them feature me in pajamas under a blanket, or looking miserable and feverish.  1978 was particularly bad....I was off school for 3 days following the 4 day weekend.  1981 was bad as well, and that was a Thanksgiving birthday.  My sinuses were so stuffed up that I could neither smell, nor taste, the turkey dinner and birthday cake. I was huddled on the couch, miserable, wrapped up in my punk rock army jacket.  My 30th birthday in 1994 was a complete bust because I had a fever and horrible bronchitus.  We couldn't go out the entire weekend, and I was off work into the following week as well.  I was just getting over pneumonia in 1988.  I was just getting over the flu/strep/bronchitis in 1998.  

I will never forget my 1st grade birthday party (1970).  I was coming down with the annual creepin' crud and was absolutely miserable.  My mom had me outside in my party dress for photos before my friends came over and I was so cold and tired and cranky.  She could not get me to smile.  The party itself was a disaster because I had a fever and felt so awful that I was crying nearly non stop. All another child had to do was to look at my stack of gifts and I had a meltdown.   

My 2nd grade party the following year (1971) was a lot of fun.  I wasn't sick, I wasn't cranky, all my friends were there and it was fun.  I thought we were gonna get through the day unscathed.  We were almost there, too; the party was a success, almost all the moms had come to pick up their kids already, and I was up in my room, with my cousins Sharon & Diane (the 2 blondes in red) and my friend Sheila (brunette in dark blue next to Diane).  

I actually didn't see what happened next, but all of a sudden Diane let out a blood curdling shriek that was probably heard for miles.  She'd had her fingers on the door jamb under one of the hinges and Sheila shut my door, crushing them.  Diane is screaming and crying, and rightly so because I sure would have been and would be now.  Sheila felt awful because she didn't see her hand there and is now crying too, afraid she is going to get in big trouble.  Confused and badly startled, Sharon & I are just caught up in the mayhem of adults who are rushing up the stairs.  As I recall, Diane lost a couple of her fingernails over the next few weeks, and they were still badly bruised when they came back up from New York for Christmas.  Sheila still apologizes to Diane to this day, well over 40 years later.  The edict came down from above that there would be no more birthday parties where friends were invited.  It would be family-only from that point forward.  

1985 was another banner day.  My parents were so angry at me that I wasn't taking the bus down from Emerson that day, after class, to spend my birthday with them. It was a Wednesday for crying out loud. I'd just gone back up to school from Thanksgiving vacation, only 3 days before, and finals were coming up.  It was my senior year of college.  I really didn't want to go down late in the afternoon and have to take the commuter bus back up to Boston before my early class the next morning.  I thought they were being selfish, they thought I was being selfish, so they didn't even call me, but I believe I received a 'Howler' letter a few days later telling me off (mom was the queen of Howlers....I've gotten a lot of them through the years).  I remember sitting in the dark of my dorm room that birthday night, weeping.  My fiance at that time tried valiantly to cheer me up that night but I was inconsolable.  

No such request had been made in 1984, when my 20th also fell after the Thanksgiving break.  And 20 was the milestone back then because that used to be the legal drinking age in Massachusetts.  I never understood why my folks got in such a twist the following year about my not going down to the Cape in the middle of a school week when I'd just seen them just a few days earlier.  Speaking of 1984, we had a pre-birthday disaster when I ate a chocolate pudding pie made by my cousin Dickie's girlfriend, and ended up in the hospital on Thanksgiving night in anaphylactic shock from the pure chocolate she used.  We'd all assumed she used Jell-O pudding mix like most normal people would have, but she cooked from scratch.  While I can eat chocolate products as long as they processed & sold as semi-sweet and milk, I am severely allergic to pure baker's cocoa.  Giant welts appeared on my back and neck, and my throat and sinuses started closing.  My parents rushed me to the hospital at like 9:30 p.m. so that I could get a shot.  I was some sick the rest of that weekend.  

1986 wasn't a banner birthday either since I had to go into work at Channel 58 in Hyannis.  Alas, the TV industry is a 24 hour one, and that meant working on holidays both at 58 and 56 in Boston.  What was even worse, my fiance had broken up with me in October and I was shattered.  I took it really, really hard and knowing that he wasn't around for my birthday for the first time since 1983 was a bitter pill to swallow.  

In 1988, one of my so-called 'friends' at Channel 56  initiated a little party for me at the station.  He arranged for the cake and got the card signed by the engineering department.  I remember thinking it odd....that he of all people would have done this for me.  We'd graduated from Emerson in the same class, but I didn't consider him to be a good friend....there were many others on our crew who I was much closer to.  I'd always thought he was a major league kiss ass and suck up, both at school and work.  Still, I appreciated the gesture and thought perhaps maybe he was making the effort to be a friend to me.  A couple days later the other shoe dropped when the Production Manager informed me that I was being made alternate Technical Director, and this 'friend' was taking over as weekend TD. He was threatening to file a union grievance because he had seniority over me by a whopping 2 weeks, so the station caved in and kicked me to the curb.  The fucker set me up and stabbed me in the back.  This event started my first descent into sheer and utter depression. That someone could fuck me over so completely like that just blew my mind.  I knew the industry was cut throat, but I never in a million years thought someone could or would do that to me.  This  was also the beginning of the end of my brief television production career.

Because American Thanksgiving falls on the 3rd Thursday of the month, my birthday has fallen on Turkey Day a few times: 1969, 1975, 1980, 1986, 1997, 2003 and 2008.  The one in 1975 was pretty memorable because again, it was spent in Yonkers, due to another family emergency: My grandmother had a serious heart attack right after Halloween, and was in the hospital for almost the entire month of November.  This time when mom stayed in Yonkers for a week or so, I was on the Cape with dad because I was in 6th grade and couldn't miss school.  She came back after a couple of weeks, but we were going back down there as soon as I got out of school for the holiday weekend.  The day before we left for New York, (taking ALL the Thanksgiving and birthday fixin's in the trunk so that no one would have to cook), I came home from school, went into the livingroom, and turned on the lights to find a shiny, new red 3-speed bike in the middle of the floor.  I yelped with shock.  Mom and dad thought that was a hoot.  I stayed at my Aunt Gloria & Uncle Steve's, and my parents stayed across the street at Nana's apartment, since Nana was still in the hospital.  Sharon & Diane came up from Long Island the day after Thanksgiving/my birthday, and we played together in the school playground just down the street from Nana's.  

There were quite a few birthdays since the year 2000 that have totally sucked out loud.  Brian and I got into a wicked fight on my b-day a few years ago.  I don't even remember what it was about, but it was bad.  Then there were a few times we tried to go out to eat but were thwarted by one thing or another.  He was usually in a pissy mood after work, and acting whiny and impatient, which ruined the night for me.  He couldn't even suck it up to have a pleasant dinner without acting like a jerk.  In 2008, another Thanksgiving birthday, everything was going great till Brian's friend Derek called.  He and his wife were separating and he was devastated and didn't know where to go or what to do.  I didn't want to, but I told Brian to tell Derek we'd set an extra place at the table for him if he wanted to come over.  Derek showed up later that afternoon, but didn't want to stay for dinner.  What he DID do instead, however, was go into our downstairs bathroom and snort a bunch of cocaine off the vanity.  He was in the bathroom a long damn time, and when I went upstairs to get a drink, I heard him sniffing.  I fucking KNEW what he was doing and I was livid.  One of the reasons his wife was leaving him was that he had a raging drug problem.  I'd told Brian before Derek showed up that he'd better not whip out the cocaine in my house.  I was reassured that would not happen.  While I am completely pro-legalization of pot, the white powder drugs are just plain evil.  After he came out of the bathroom, he was all wired, and I saw the powder residue next to the sink.  He yammered on and on for awhile, eyes bulging out of his head, till he finally took off.   I was exhausted just listening to him.  Brian apologized and said, "And the birthday curse continues...."

2009 was the year that Brian thought it'd be a good idea to give me Battleship and 2 other games, and which were returned the next day, and about which I blogged HERE, last November.  It was a depressing day overall. It blew my mind that someone I'd been with for 20 years at that point could still not know me at all.

As for 2010, that one was one of the few that went well and nothing eventful occurred.  I'm glad to have that  good birthday memory since it was my last in my former life.  Last birthday, I sure never expected to be living back on the east coast with the love of my life come this birthday, that's for sure.

Needless to say, with a track record of crappy birthdays like mine, I'm more than a little bit nervous about what this year has to offer.  I have a new life and new relationship, both of which are great and I'm extremely happy.  Still, Mercury went retrograde on November 23rd.  At this point in my life, I've acquired so much stuff that I don't need more stuff, so if I get no gifts today, it's truly no big deal.  Being with my squeeze is the best present I could hope for anyway, and it's not like we can afford anything major.  If he has to go on the road on my birthday, we'll celebrate early or when he's back in town again.  The celebration doesn't need to be on the exact day.

A nice dinner out would be good.  There are a couple of holiday-themed events on the Cape that I'd love to check out too.  The Sandwich Glass Museum is having a Glassblower's Christmas, and you know how much I love glass.  Maybe he and I could get our first ornament as a couple there or something.  Heritage Plantation (I refuse to call it by it's new name, "Heritage Gardens") is doing their annual Gardens Aglow Annual Celebration of Lights which I would also love to see, weather permitting.  There are, apparently, a ton of holiday themed events in Sandwich throughout December too.

So we'll see how it goes this year.  If I can just make it through the entire weekend without any disasters or illnesses, that will be gift enough!

November 25, 2011

Fall Back Day

I love it when stupid Daylight Savings Time ends.  I just don't see the point of DST at all, and wish we could be on standard/normal time year round, like Arizona and Hawaii.  I just love it the day the clocks go back.  That extra hour is so awesome!!!  

As it turns out, I ended up doing a little bit of almost everything I love to do that day.  I didn't travel and I didn't colour.  What I did do was: spend quality time with my squeeze before he went back on the road, beadwork, take Pepper for a walk, photography and beach combing.  It was really sunny and chilly with a brisk wind.  Also had leftover Chinese food at lunch and at night, my famous "Loaded Hot Choxy" for a warm, sweet, tasty treat.

These are the pics I shot on Fall Back Day, November 6.

This stuff was in someone's yard, right near the street, with no sign of the homeowner planning on boxing it up.  I wasn't sure if it was left there for people to take for free or what.  I only took a picture, nothing else, of course.

Shell on a shell

o.O  I call this one the "not so mighty Quinn".

I was just glad there wasn't a severed foot inside it, like they find from time to time in British Columbia.

I liked how the sunshine on the other side of the bridge lit the water up all green, under the bridge.

This bright red bush is in our yard.
So is this one.

November 23, 2011

The Industry

Sonnia, over at a ladybug's life, posted a movie meme and invited folks to play along if they wanted.  I thought it'd be hard to come up with movies for this list, because I have never been much of a movie buff.  The only category with which I had trouble was 'Movie with Favourite Actress.'  I just don't have a fave movie actress,  so I went with a movie of Melissa Gilbert's that I liked a lot.  Feel free to copy and do this on your own blogs if you like.  So without further adieu:  

*Favourite Film:  To Kill A Mockingbird tied with Paper Moon.
*Least Favourite Film:  Biodome.  Pauly Shore=Worst. Actor. EVER.
*Favourite Comedy:  Airplane
*Favourite Drama:  The Shipping News
*Favourite Action:  The Presidio (plus Mark Harmon was dreamy, Sean Connery was dashing and Meg Ryan was hot, and it was shot in San Francisco).

*Favourite Horror/Suspense:  The Shining 
*Favourite Thriller:  Blair Witch Project
*Favourite Foreign Film:  If it has subtitles, I ain't watchin' it.  Snooze-fest City.
*Favourite Kid's Movie:  Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (Gene Wilder IS Willie Wonka).
*Favourite Love Story:  The Wedding Singer

*Favourite Chick Flick:  Fried Green Tomatoes
*Favourite Play Adaptation:  The Sound of Music
*Film That Is Your Guilty Pleasure:  Duct Tape Forever (The Red Green Movie)

*Film That Made You Cry The Hardest:  Rudy
*Film You Don't Want To Watch Again:  Silence of the Lambs
*Movie With Your Favourite Actress:  Family of Strangers (Melissa Gilbert).
*Movie With Your Favourite Actor:  Good Luck (Vincent D'Onofrio)
*Movie You Wish You Could Live In:  Harry Potter (I want to live, and open a shop, in Hogsmeade).
*Movie That Inspires You:  Thunderheart

*Movie(s) With Your Favourite Soundtrack:  Flashback, The Wedding Singer and Spirit of '76.
*Movie With The Most Beautiful Scenery:  First Blood  (filmed in Hope, British Columbia but set in Washington State).
*Movie You Are Embarrassed To Say You Like:  Ed Gein  (Look it up and prepare to be horrified).
*Movie With Your Favourite Villain:  Helter Skelter  (The same actor that plays Ed Gein also plays Charles Manson.  Do you see a trend here?)

*Movie With Your Favourite Superhero:  Return of the Jedi.  What, Luke Skywalker isn't a superhero?
*First Movie You Ever Remember Watching:  Yellow Submarine on TV, 1969 or 1970.
*Last Movie You Watched:  Harry Potter & the Deathy Hollows, Part One

For those of you in the USA, have a great Thanksgiving tomorrow!! 

November 21, 2011

Trip to Maine: Day Two

It snowed all night long.  The power went off in the hotel at some point because the alarm clock in the room was flashing.  We woke up at about 7, and pulled the curtains aside to see this.  As it turns out, Maine got hit, but not near as hard as Central MA, Connecticut and New Jersey did.  

Bright red foliage and snow

A good samaritan let my squeeze borrow his snow brush/scraper to clean off the car, because all we had to use was one of the room towels.

The plows were out in full force.

On the way to Waterville, along I-295.  I'd never been any farther north than Lewiston before.  (Or as it's known in the area: "Sewerston").  

Getting closer.  Oh, and the state capitol, Augusta, is also known locally as "Disgusta".  Do you see a trend here?

I-95 North.

We arrived in Waterville at about 10:30 and his niece's restaurant was serving till 1:00, since it was Parent's Weekend at Colby College, so they were trying to eek as much business as they could out of that crowd before closing for good. So to kill time, and since we couldn't check into the hotel yet, my squeeze introduced me to the wonder that is Marden's.  Oh. My. God.  We were only going to get some work gloves, but we scored Field & Stream winter coats for $18.00 each!!!!!!  He got 2 other jackets and a killer tool bag that was only $3.00.  I wish I had gotten one of the bags too, for toting my crafts around!!!  In fact, on their website, it even says, "I should have bought it when I saw it!!!"  lol

We went back to the restaurant to wait for the UHaul to arrive so that we could start disassembling the kitchen.  The snow was already starting to melt and although it was still cold, we warmed to the work pretty quickly.  

Part of the moving krew.  I should have taken a group photo after we filled the truck but the camera was in my car and by that point, all I wanted to do was collapse with exhaustion and a bottle of Advil.  As you can see, my sweetie grew his beard back for the winter (at my request).

We followed the UHaul up to where his niece was going to store her stuff.  Passed over this river on the way.

By the time we got up there, the icy wind was screaming across these fields.  Fortunately it took WAY less time to unload the truck than it did to load it.  We hobbled back to the hotel, freezing, exhausted and barely able to move.  

Don't die of shock, but these are all the photos I shot on this trip.  There wasn't anything to see on the highways, and we were just too busy with the move on Sunday for me to take photos of us working.  We still had the following day in Waterville and didn't know if we would be able to continue to help with the move.  We ain't 20 no mo' and are badly out of shape.  So we kicked around recuperating the next day, maybe do some light sightseeing in the area....go to Marden's again....

Then it happened.  His phone rang at 11:30 p.m. and let's face it, calls that come in at that hour never bring good news.  His best friend's father died suddenly late that afternoon.  He was very close to this family, her parents are like his second parents.  He was devastated.  Now we were leaning towards cutting the trip short and just coming home the next day.  We got up in the morning and I called my mom, who has still been sick.  I asked mom if she wanted me to come back early and she said yes.  So that pretty much decided it for us.  It was a gorgeous, sunny and clear day and the temps were warming up, but we couldn't stay and so I was unable to take anymore photos.  We arrived home at about 2:30 on Halloween afternoon, so I spent the rest of the day doing laundry, and the squeeze gave out candy to the whopping 4 people that showed up.  Of course our outside light was off and we had no decorations so it's not like our house screamed "STOP HERE!"

The trip was kind of jinxed from the start, but I was so happy to get to spend time with Michelle & John, and meet his niece.  And of course you can't beat the deals at Marden's.  We'll get back up there plenty more times,  in warmer weather and to sightsee more and I promise: Next time there will be more photos!

November 19, 2011

Trip to Maine: Day One

It was a cold, grey morning when we departed for Freeport, Maine, at the end of October.  A bad Nor'easter was predicted for several states for that evening, with heavy rain and high winds (gusts to 75 mph) for coastal Massachusetts, but heavy snow for the rest of New England and down into New Jersey.  

This tank in Dorchestor (just south of Boston) was painted in 1971 by artist Corita Kent.  If you look at the left side of the blue, you can see what looks to be the profile of an old Asian man with a long beard.  There was a bit of a controversy at the time it was painted, because it was supposedly Ho Chi Minh, which of course didn't go over well being Vietnam War times in the USA.  Afterwards in the 80's, it was known by the not-very-PC term, "The Chinaman".  Now most people just call it Fu Man Chu.  

John Hancock Building in Back Bay, Boston.  Built in about 1976.  The old Hancock building is the lower one with the spire, on the right. The fatter part of the spire is a weather light.  Solid blue means a nice day, flashing blue means bad weather, red in the summer means the Red Sox are in town and red in winter means snow.  


This funky new bridge is new since I last lived here.  

I have always loved this view, right before you cross into New Hampshire.  Because the view is right on the highway, on a bridge, in fact, you can't pull over to shoot it from the road, so this is the best I will ever get.

Welcome to New Hampshire, or as I have always called it, "Cow Hamster".

Just a teeny sliver of NH rests between MA and ME.  Did you know that Maine was originally part of Massachusetts?  It's true.  Maine is not one of the 13 colonies.  This is the Piscataqua River Bridge, on the border of NH and ME.  It was one of the landmarks on my way to Saint Joe's, on what always seemed like an interminably long trip from the Cape to the College.  When we got to Piscataqua, I knew we were only an hour or so away.

We had intended to stop at the Kittery Trading Post so that I could get some winter boots, for the impending storm.  There are tons and tons of factory outlet stores in the area too.  Well, we were yakking and missed the one and only exit to Kittery, which is almost immediately after you cross over the bridge from NH.  One illegal U-turn on the Maine Turnpike later, we were on our way to the store.  I found a decent pair of boots that are really comfy, esp. with the thick socks I got as well.  And some postcards.  And a fridge magnet. 

B&M Baked Beans factory in South Portland.

The Winter People statue in Freeport, which is where we stayed our first night so that we could see my bff/sister, Michelle & her hubby, John.  

Rolled into town around 2:30 and had to kill time before check in so we just drove up the main street.  LL Bean is in Freeport, along with more factory outlets.  The town was packed and it was getting bitterly cold, so for once we didn't pull over and join the hordes of people on the street.  There are a whole ton of carved pumpkins that were set up all around LL Bean and on a giant scaffold outside the main store.  I'm sure it was quite a sight to see at night.  The only store we went in was The Beadin' was my squeeze's very first time in a bead shop!  Then we got some eggrolls and chicken wings at the Chinese restaurant to tide us over till dinner because we were starving

We met up with Michelle & John at Buck's Naked BBQ which was unbelievably delicious!!!!!  We were having so much fun talking and catching up on old times and laughing (and laughing....and laughing some more) that I totally forgot to take a picture of the food we ordered!!!  We started with fried pickles.  I know, I know, it sounds gross, but they were WICKED GOOD!!!!!!  It was an excellent nom.  

Then we went over to Michelle & John's house in North Yarmouth for an hour or so.  This is their license plate.  Isn't it cool?

Michelle and the latest member of her family, Princess, from the Collie Rescue League where she has gotten all her doggies.  Princess' story is very sad, but she's finally got a happy "furever" home.  She's an elderly girl, with a lot of health problems and appears to be deaf, but she will live out her days with peace, affection, food, warmth and love.  She's a very sweet and friendly dog.  She got along pretty well with Peepers too.

Auntie Michelle giving Beanie some lovin too.

When we left, big huge fluffy flakes of snow were falling hard and had already accumulated.  It was only a 10 mile drive back to Freeport, but I'm glad he was driving and not me.  I hate driving in snow.  It scares me.  We stopped at a convenience store about a third of the way back, and I shot this sign. So which is it? No parking at all or parking for 30 minutes? lol  See the snowflakes?

Next up: Day 2.