Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why I love this place -- Reason # 12,387

I received a package in the mail today, one of several coming from a close personal and professional friend back Where I Used to Live. He stored some of my books, recordings and other items rendered homeless at the time of the Great Exodus last year. Now, they are ready to be reunited with me. After all, I can store the books in my new Deluxe Office, now nearing completion....

Which only peripherally has to do with today's "why I love it here" moment.

After doing some inside work this morning, I decided to enjoy the sunny -- if slightly humid -- outdoors for a few minutes. I had walked down to the end of the block and partway down Main Street when the mail carrier drove up and stopped. She said "I have a package for you, and you have to sign for's the card, sign here and here, and I'll drop it off up at the house when I get there."

Imagine that. I've been here a shade less than two months, and the mail carrier knows me, knows my name, knows where I live.... Anyone who has lived the majority of their life in big, anonymous and relatively soulless places where one is lucky to learn a few names in their immediate vicinity -- and Los Angeles is sure as hell one of those -- will understand why I find this wonderful.

They DO???

Oh, I've been learning names, too. Among them are Tim, Tom (the town's former police chief, by the way), Mary and Elizabeth and John, Arnold, Pete, Bill and Andi, Bruce, Bruce, and Dora and Eli. The latter two are dogs....

Now, all I have to do is learn the mail carrier's name.

This small-town living takes some work, Jim.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Dilemma....

Three things happened today.

This morning, D. transplanted the veggies to our planter "boxes." Then, I mowed the lawn.

This afternoon, we drove up to Merrimac to the car show at Skip's. It was great. Weather was fine, and the selection of cars was just what I'd hoped: local rides, not all in "show" condition, but most well worth looking at. Also, good burgers, fries, and ice cream.

For me, a big change from the usual car-show fare. Didn't have to wear a blue blazer with a "judge" badge on the lapel, wasn't recognized, didn't have to pontificate on the relative merits of, say, Ferrari 250s versus Ferrari 275s, or why the Duesenberg SJ was superior to the J. In short, I got to play spectator, and I really enjoyed it. There were one or two cars I would have loved to drag back to Sandy Bay, too.

D. had a good time as well, took some neat photos, and decided she wants a '56 Ford Thunderbird. Could happen, you know, right around the time I can afford one or more of the cars I'd like to have.... At least a vintage T-Bird is something I could service myself.

Oh, yeah. The dilemma: Should I post a photo I took this morning, or one of the shots from the car show? I'll just do the Larry the Cable Guy* routine, and "Git 'er done!" by posting one of each.

The cucumbers and pumpkins get their first visitor!

I want this! Also, the Studebaker behind it. The T-Bird behind that is D.'s favorite.

I have as much use for a tractor as I do for a jet-ski or one of those three-wheeled "motorcycles." But I think classic tractors look very cool.... Might have been a real drag to drive home, though!

* Yes, we've been watching America With Larry the Cable Guy on The History Channel every week, and I'm addicted. The guy is funny, earthy, unaffected, totally devoid of self-consciousness and seems to be having a great time popping into odd places and doing odd things. In fact his stint with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders was the funniest thing I've seen on TV in ages. Best of all, the people he visits seems to be having a great time, too. I recommend the show unreservedly.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Man of the Soil -- Still!

Yes, D. and I went down to the dump this morning and loaded up on nice, rich, odoriferous dirt...four loads in the bed of her Toyota pickup.

Transported home, it filled the two vegetable boxes quite nicely. All that remains -- and I will watch, but not let my brown thumb gets too near growing stuff, lest the inevitable happens and we are condemned to subsist on store-bought tomatoes all year -- is to stick them little plant-things in their new, vitamin-enriched home and get ready to gobble some home-grown food!

Have to say the process of dirt-scooping at the Transfer Station and unscooping at home was a bit rough on my arms. I could blame the extra weight of the wet soil, but D. did more than her share of shoveling, and I haven't heard her complain. More likely I'm just woefully out of shape after a sedentary few years.

But, hey, I'm a writer...I'm supposed to know how to shovel dirt and, well, manure....

Buffy the Buffalo's friend...Lucy* the Llama!
Tomorrow afternoon is the car show in Merrimac. I'm in the mood for a nice drive through the countryside, and not at all opposed to the idea of scarfing another burger at Skip's. It will also be fun to see what cars the locals bring out to show off. At worst, it will be much more fun than watching the pompous wealthy deigning to show their mega-dollar cars to the proles as I have so often had to do in the past. Pictures? Could happen....

It's another foggy night here in Sandy Bay. Hasn't rained all day, and the likelihood of more rain in the immediate future seems to have lessened. That means more walks, more yard work, and perhaps in time a chance to wear shorts again and put the sweatshirts away for the season.

* D. thinks the llama's name is Lucy, anyway. I don't know -- only Buffy had a sign. The cow remains unidentified....

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Man of the Soil!

That would be me.

D. decided she wants to grow vegetables this year, started a bunch of 'em (from seeds) in li'l bitty pot-like things, and has kept them under a gro-lite (except on the rare days when we've had sunshine). They are getting to the point where they need to be in the ground so as to crank out tomatoes, beans, zucchinis and other healthful edible Food Items.

So last weekend I built two planting frames, which are nothing more than shallow boxes without bottoms or tops. Boards for same came out of the scrap pile (D. is frugal where it counts) and nails came from a box of dusty, rusty fasteners (her dad was frugal, too). After assembly, I plunked the frames in the yard.

Today, I dug up the turf underneath so we can fill the boxes with soil from the Transfer Station (dump, to you) and plant the seedlings. She wants to go there tomorrow to shovel up a bunch of nice, rich dirt, which also happens to be free, just like my new office desk.

Buffy the Buffalo. Not shown: unnamed llama and cow.

Okay, so the grass I was digging up to clear space for the New Dirt and Veggies was not California grass, which tends to have puny, shallow roots and rolls up pretty easily. Nope, this stuff was well entrenched, and didn't want to be taken out. Add saturated soil, lots o' tree roots and a horde of gnats, and the whole process was not what we professional writer-types call "a million laffs."

Ah, the things I'll do for a fresh, home-grown tomato! Or, more accurately, for D. who, among other things-that-make-me-happy today acquired the necessary pieces to install my office door, hang the suspended ceiling and paint the walls (a grayed-tan color called "Castle Path" has been selected for same, since the Home Depot didn't seem to have Zolatone spatter paint and metalflake Kandy Tahitian Orange seemed slightly excessive, even for me)....

Just thought I'd mention this before I limp into the other room to gobble an aspirin or five.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Not much...

...happening here in Sandy Bay. Foggy, rainy and cold outside, limiting any outdoor activities. That's been the norm for the past three days, and predictions are that it will extend through the week.

Bad news maybe for Saturday, which is apparently Motif #1 Day here. The red fish shack (in fact, a replica of the original, which perished in a storm decades ago) on a pier gets its own day, with art contests, music and other Cultural Pursuits. And why not? Images of it are everywhere....

Not that we will be here. Weather permitting, D. and I are planning to go to a car show at Skip's Burgers* in Merrimac that day. For once, an afternoon spent looking at collector cars and hot rods will be a completely non-work-related activity. I can relax!

Sign seen near Newburyport last weekend

Still lots of Good Stuff going on indoors. If I wasn't stealing time away from writing the article I have due -- I'm ahead of schedule with it, but the sooner done, the sooner the check gets here -- I might go into some of it. Do I value money more than conversing with my friends here? I'll never tell....

* Skip's is a favorite of D., her mother and daughter, and has been in business longer than I've been alive. The fries are superb, but the burgers rate about 8.0 on the 1.0 (White Castle) - to - 10.0 (In-N-Out Burger) scale. Haven't yet had better ones around here, though. And they do have cool t-shirts, one of which I have bought....

Sunday, May 15, 2011

So much for moderation!

I'm just not a "moderating" kind of guy, I guess. After Dorrie left comments telling me how to deal with the Blogger Comment Machine -- comments which I seem to have lost while supposedly "approving" them, by the way -- I decided to go back to the old system. So if anyone decides to say anything, it gets posted right away. Unless, that is, it's on an old post from 14 or more days back, which seems to be where the spammers play, anyway.

I've said that excellent things were happening, and I want to mention a few. First, the World Headquarters: it's nearing completion, with drywall now hung, electricity (real outlets, not an extension cord draped over the wall) and a cable to hook me up to the Interwebz. Add door, floor, ceiling and paint and it's done.

PARENTHETICAL I'M-STILL-NOT-PRACTICAL NOTE: I keep pushing for a porthole in one of the walls, but head of the construction crew seems decidedly cool to the idea. I guess that'll be filed with my concept of making a ceiling out of rag rugs and concocting flooring from the various mismatched chunks of lumber left over from the main construction and D.'s scrap box, all randomly laid down and covered with Varathane. Doesn't anyone have a sense of adventure?

Ditto for a desk. D. and I found an old dining table at the local Transfer Station (dump, to you) and brought it home. It's a hefty piece, solid and substantial. We've cut it down a bit, fixed the drop-leaf section in place permanently and rearranged the legs, and it'll make a neat work table/desk. Once again, D. showed her penchant for over-engineering, with the result being a piece that should be able to withstand anything short of an all-out nuclear attack. Looks good, too. And it was free.

All of this is what you might call fortuitous timing. I have one job in hand, which will bring welcome relief to the dwindling supply of spondulix. Another project from the same people, longer and better-paying, is not yet final but has a good chance of happening. If it does, I'll have two or three months of fairly intense work. And money. Guess which pleases me more? Having a set place to grind out the verbiage will be a big help.

Random The-Sun-Also-Sets-in-Sandy-Bay photo
This is not tonight's sunset, which took place behind heavy clouds and drizzle. I planned to insert the photo maybe two days ago, but Blogger was being weird and I couldn't post.

Haven't had a day in my five-plus weeks here that my appreciation for D. -- and pleasure at being with her -- hasn't grown. I'm working harder than I have for quite a while -- there's always something to do here, and much of it involves some kind of physical effort -- but that's wonderful. Those muscles needed to be used. As the wheat farmers say, "no pain, no grain."

I've also been doing some menial tasks in D.'s high-tech workshop, too, learning work that I quite enjoy and helping her a little bit. Good thing, too: her customers are sending in quite a few jobs right now..

We also have fun. Sometimes it's as simple as going for a nice longish walk. Other times, like last Saturday, we get to more interesting events. On that day, we went to a nearby town to attend a reception at a shop where pipe organs are built; the company was showing off their latest work which, while not exactly my style musically, was a beautiful example of what it was supposed  to be. The workmanship was exquisite, too. It will soon be installed in a hall at Harvard, but was set up temporarily in the shop for testing.

Not much time to be bored around here. I like that.

Big, big change in lifestyle and attitudes from just over 13 months ago, Jim. I like that, too.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Housekeeping-y stuff

Lots o' excellent things happening to Yours Truly, but not much time to sit down and write about them. I'll catch up soon, though.

However: I have recently had a lot of spam-style comments show up here, and I'm getting sick of it. Therefore, I'm going the ol' comment moderation route as of now. If you're nice enough to comment, I get to read it first, and will automatically pass it on to be posted.

Well, almost automatically. Spammers and random commenters will be banished into the obscurity they so richly deserve. I don't so much mind seeing their tripe in my email inbox, as it just takes hitting the Fuggedaboutit Button to make them go the hell away. Blogger, alas, makes the deletion process annoyingly tedious.

When they (the insidious Blogger/Google/Whoever Else Combine) get their acts together and make it possible to keep the idiots at bay without jumping through a bunch of damn cyber-hoops, I'll go back to free-range comments, which I prefer.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

D. made me do it!

Yup, she put a Theremin performance on her blog this morning, and Theremins attract me the way honey attracts....flies....

But even a good performer -- and the one who played on D.'s video is good, all right -- doesn't cut it if he or she can't swing, and that vid was strictly nowhere, even if the player was laying down a pretty good tune. At least it's good if you're the potted-palm type, musically.

Here's one that gets it. Some groovin' back up and someone who knows how to wave their hands around the Theremin's antennae can really get the ball rolling and get out of that 1950s-sci-fi-movie-soundtrack bag, Jim....

PARENTHETICAL I-CAN-BE-BEATEN NOTE:  No sooner had I started writing this than D. proved that she's completely with it on this Theremin stuff. Gonna be hard to top these three solid cats!