Friday, December 19, 2014

When the Elf isn't Creepy Enough

Are your kids getting too blasé about the "Elf on the Shelf"? Then they'll love finding this in random places around the house:

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Bad Case of Cat Arm

It's hard to work on the Computer with a cat clamped to your arm: (it's also a hard thing to take a picture of):



Thursday, November 27, 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Stump a Brit

Want to stump a Brit? There's no need to confound them by showing them an unlabeled map of the U.S. and asking them to fill in  the names of the States.
(Photo courtesy of BuzzFeed.)
Or even by asking them about American Mythology, i.e., what are the 4 Countries in the Land of Oz (Munchkin, Gillikin, Quadling, and Winkie).
Meet them on their own ground, and ask them when is Michaelmas (Sept. 29).
Or ask them to name the Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou, and Brecqhou).
For bonus points, ask them to name the Cinque Ports (Hastings, Romney, Hythe, Dover, and Sandwich).
Then ask them what a "-wich" is, anyway (a Town with salt deposits).

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Banks o' the Merrimack

Was nice out this afternoon, so I took my bike up to Groveland. Rode through Groveland to West Newbury, then went east along the South bank of the Merrimack into Newburyport. Crossed over to Amesbury on the famous (but newly rebuilt) Chain Bridge, then rode back along the North bank to Haverhill and Groveland. Saw a couple of lonely-looking Bison at Kimball Farm. It got chillier and darker as I went along, but it's always a beautiful area to ride in.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sci-Fi for Christmas...?

Watched Scroogenado™ last night with Anne Crockett.

 Didn't know that the Syfy Channel was on the cheesy Christmas Movie bandwagon, too.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Ice Blue Heron

Was walking with Annie around Horn Pond, and we stopped to look at the water pouring over the dam. Then I looked down, and saw the Heron just standing there.

(Photo courtesy of Anne Crockett. She says, "This was the closest I've gotten to a Heron. He must have felt safe down below the dam.")

Saturday, November 1, 2014

New Pants

Someone you know has new pants. "Well, Lah-di-dah", you are thinking, "Why should we care?"
Because this was no mere shopping jaunt, this was an expedition. To an infamous big-box retailer that you don't want your friends to know you shop at, and where (to avoid mutual embarrassment) you hope you don't run into anyone you know, no matter how slightly.
So you go as far away as possible, to one that is in another State, or time zone, even. The place is always just too warm, like a Greenhouse or a Neonatal ICU; and you sit sweating in the dressing room, trying to wrestle your way into the pants you have chosen. They claim to be the same size as the ones you are replacing, yet they are more like sausage casings than suitable vestments.
There go your hopes that all the exercise and careful eating means you can "downsize". Now you will have to buy even bigger ones. You leave there with what are essentially khaki harem pants, and think, "If I donated these things to orphans in the Third-World, they could use them as two-man tents."
That is why you should care.

Friday, October 31, 2014

It's Halloween...

...And the Ghosts and Goblins are out (at least the little ones are).


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Last Outdoor Swim

Last Outdoor Swim of the Season! Woo-Hoo, it was cold! Walden Pond, 10/29/2014!
It's not that easy to take a Selfie when there's no handy mirror, and you're freezing:

Although, I do like this Mad Scientist look - would go like this for Halloween, but it might be difficult to bring Walden Pond with me....

(From the Book of Faces:)
S. Schultz: Clearly, you're mad if you swim in Walden Pond in November!
Me: That's why I cleverly snuck in that last swim while it was still October! Bwahahahah!
M.J.D. Maichack: You get the chilly swim medal.
S. Schultz I thought maybe you had to wait for the entire beach to be clear of people before you would take your shirt off!
Me: Actually was wearing a 'swim shirt' during the Summer to avoid getting sunburnt. Last time was mid-September, when I swam across Harriman Reservoir in Vermont. Wore it mostly for visibility (sometimes there's a lot of boats pulling water skiers), rather than to block the sun, though.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Now You Can, Christine

A friend who's a Personal Chef has this deeply felt (and, apparently not-so-unusual) Holiday Wish:

 C. H. Robinson"Oh, to be able to slap Bobby Flay across the mug, just once...‪#‎wishlist."

Well, Christine, now you can, thanks to this unique Charity Fundraiser:


Monday, October 20, 2014

A Mini-Tour of Concord

Ken Baker, an old friend from College, came up for a short visit. He'd never been to Walden Pond, so we went there. According to the Park Ranger at the Thoreau House recreation,

when Henry D. lived there, Walden was actually in "the bad part of Town".  It is funny to think of Concord, MA, as having a "Bad Neighborhood".  We had a nice walk around the Pond,

then went to see the 'Old North Bridge', which is actually the fifth span to be put up on that site since the Revolution.
Then we had lunch at the 'New London Style Pizza' shop. I am from New London, and never knew that we had our own style of Pizza.

On the way back to his car, I stopped to show Ken the 'Paul Revere Capture' site on RT 2A.

  Right next to it was an amazing Maple tree in full Foliage:


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

But the Cake Escaped...

Yesterday was my Mom's 85th Birthday, so I went down to Connecticut to see her. Here is the cake I brought (which did not travel well):
My sister Deb with my Mom:

 And lastly, the cake entering Hyperspace before we could eat it:


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Long Black Veil


A musician friend, James Houlahan, posted this song on the Book of Faces:
It immediately reminded me of the late, and in many ways, great Yana Sherman, who passed away so suddenly earlier this year. Yana, a long-time friend of mine from Storytelling, loved to tell "Long Black Veil" as a story. And she told it really well. The thing is, she was a teenager when the song first came out in 1959, and she was absolutely, totally, convinced that it was based on a traditional tale.
So I was amazed when I recently heard an interview on WUMB (91.9 FM) with Danny Dill, one of the song's writers. He described in detail how they came up with it. Apparently, they had three different sources of inspiration: an old Red Foley song, a newspaper account about an unsolved murder, and the mysterious veiled woman who used to visit Valentino's grave. (For more about this, see: .)
Since Popular Culture has been relentlessly strip mining the Traditional Canon, I feel that it is our sworn duty as Storytellers to reclaim as much as we can from Movies, TV, and Pop Music. I do it every chance I can, as did Yana. In this case, ironically, it turns out that the Songwriters were also good Storytellers. Although Yana was wrong about where the song came from, I wish she was still here with us, to tell her version, again and again.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Still Swimming Outdoors

Biked out to Walden Pond and swam again. Water very chilly at first, but got used to it. Hope this isn't the end of the outdoor swimming season, would like to make it into October.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sunset Swim

Got in a late swim at Walden Pond. Only had a minute to dry off before the Rangers firmly but politely kicked me out. You can see the Moon, and its reflection, along the left-hand edge of the picture:


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Early post for "Throw-Back Thursday", since tomorrow is Rosh Hashanah. "Wayback Wednesday", anyone?

This is my 'Space Age' Zenith Clock Radio that I bought in the BX at Lackland AFB, in San Antonio, TX. It was either while I was in Basic Training in 1977, or at the Officer Training School in 1978. Have used it continuously ever since. Had it repaired once, by the really nice old guy who ran Huntington TV on RT 9 in Newton.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Penguin Pear

Annie posted this unusual-looking Pear on the Book of faces:
And then this appeared:
 "OMG, it's evolving right before our eyes!"
I wonder who could have done such a thing?


Friday, September 19, 2014

Wild Cucumber...

...Spotted in Woburn!

Back in January, 2013, I saw what looked like "Tree Sponges" while walking in the Conservation Land behind Horn Pond. Clearly, they were the dried, woody remains of some kind of plant growth. But what kind?
It wasn't until a few days ago, while walking on the same trail, that I finally saw them in the flesh, as it were. Spiky, green pods, hanging off of a climbing vine. "Tree Pickles," I thought, and I was pretty close. It turns out that this is 'Wild Cucumber', formally known as 'Echinocystis Lobata'. It's a member of the Squash family, and was reportedly prized by Native Americans for it's medicinal qualities.

It turns out that this is 'Wild Cucumber', formally known as 'Echinocystis Lobata'. It's a member of the Squash family, and was reportedly prized by Native Americans for it's medicinal qualities. A friend asked me if they were edible. The answer is, "No, not even if you're on an ultra-high-fiber diet." They are seed pods, and are actually quite light and fibrous, with 4 large, flat brown seeds inside:
Although this one does looks like some kind of a monocular deep-sea creature:

Sunday, September 7, 2014

I Went Down, Down, Down

Just got back from a nice weekend at Rowe. Had a really nice bike ride for part of the way home. Annie dropped me off on RT 100 in Southern Vermont, and I rode down into Jacksonville, and then South on RT 112 (which runs through a very narrow river valley) all the way down into Colrain, MA. From there, I turned left onto the Greenfield Road and on up the very BIG hill. The road continues through some beautiful Orchard Country and ends at RT 2. I went East on RT 2 until just before the very steep downhill into Greenfield. Then it was time to put the bike on the rack, and head home. Still quite a treat!
It was only 21 miles, but it made having to leave and go home much more bearable. The big hill was actually Colrain Mountain. The road elevation rises about 600 feet in a mile and a half, which is just as steep as some Mountain Passes I've gone over out West.

Friday, August 22, 2014

What to call Washington

Upon hearing that Washington Post editorials will no longer use the term "Redskins" for the local NFL Team, I came up with the following suggestion. 
My idea is the deliberate, serial use (in Print, and on the Air) of increasingly cumbersome euphemisms to describe them, such as: the Burgundy Barks, Coral Carapaces, Crimson Casings, Roseate Rinds, Salmon Sheaths, Scarlet Dermata, Russet Pelts, Titian Teguments, and so the point of total absurdity, and an overdue name change.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sunset Beach Walk

Walking on West Dennis Beach at Sunset with Annie, picking up seashells. It's impossible not to hear Gary Puckett in my mind's ear, singing, "Young Gull, get out of my life, you're way tooo younggg, Gull !"

For those who don't know, Gary Puckett was a late 60's pop singer. He and his band, the Union Gap, liked to dress in blue Civil War uniforms. It's possible that this may have kept them from being sent to Vietnam, as their Draft Boards thought they were already in the Army.