Thursday, May 31, 2007

Pre Wedding Blues

I have been reading with interest about the lovely Patti's wedding clothing dilemmas. Happily, Terry has started the ball rolling with the tops for tomorrow's wedding extravaganza on the New Haven Harbor. Patti shouldn't worry about the navy Blue skirt, so one will a previous wedding (Walker), you will notice one lady I happen to know pretty well wearing a Blue dress, anyone care to guess who? By the way, does anyone think a certain guy took this picture from a wheelchair? Did they grow, or did I shrink?

It's much easier for a guy, so maybe I can't adequately empathize...all I need to do is have a particular shirt washed. pull the suit off the hanger, polish my dress black shoes, and pick out a tie that I like...not much effort (or angst) in that. Check the publicity photo of the place we'll be for the reception. Even the umbrellas are Blue...Patti, of course will be the most striking looking of all the guests in attendance (she can't upstage the bride on her day I suppose). No need to worry about a blue skirt...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tour de Detour

There is major work on a major thoroughfare that runs parallel with the street of our domicile, and the detour runs in front of our house. This has been a staple of our existence for the past two months. I'm happy that the main city street is being rebuilt by the state, but the drivers being detoured are really a hassle for us. I often can't back out of the driveway for minutes as school buses, delivery trucks and generally rude suburban drivers pass by, and drive as fast as they did on the main road. I've even been beeped at for having the gall to back out of my driveway. This morning a woman in a white Pathfinder, I think, was going to pass me on the left side of the road as I was backing out...but she stopped in the middle of the road instead. My large vehicle was hard against the opposite side curb, but I couldn't move because of where she stopped. No movements occurred for a couple of minutes. I gave her my best "do you mind, this is my street" look, and eventually she backed up enough for me to move. I was irritated enough to stand on my horn (but no rude gestures!) to make my point, but no matter. Nothing personal, but could you make your detour up Finney Street instead of mine...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Weather or not 'tis the season

The weather yesterday and today is finally warm. 90 deg F yesterday, 85 today. A nice time to spend on the patio, and I hope that I am not too malodorous, smelling fairly strongly of Kingsford Match Light BBQ briquettes. I have pondered about cold weather in the past, but now that we have summer weather, I won't have time to complain about the typical seasonal changes in the weather, but I'm not going to complain about the heat...I could complain about the crabgrass...that's more like it ;>)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wheelchair Joys

The lift in my van malfunctioned today - the contraption wouldn't work for about 5 minutes when I arrived at work. It wouldn't move up or down, although I heard an audible 'click' inside the control box. Eventually the lift operated normally, and I cycled the lift about five times and it is working okay. I expect the lift to act normally, but I'll have it looked at next week. Being disabled offers no insurance against the malady that affects just about all able bodied persons: Everything mechanical will start acting up just before the start of a long weekend!

This odd looking wheelchair is an aircraft boarding chair, not a torture device...those straps do look lethal. However, you transfer at the Jetway into this, and it is narrow enough to fit in the plane's aisle. The seats in Coach (not First - I'm cheap) have movable aisle armrests, and the seat height of the seat and the chair is the same. Still, I prefer the bulkhead seat and the extra room, and I will let the airline people lift me into these seats where the arms don't move. I like boarding first which always happens, because you get to converse with the cabin crew (read: flight attendants) before everyone else boards!
Once at an oil change/car wash place, I was conversing with a couple about this and that. They were younger than me, I think, because the woman said their car had to be washed because it was so 'Grody' (I can't remember what decade I last heard this word...). When I was opening up my van to leave, and power doors opened and the lift was coming down, and I rolled on the lift, that couple rushed outside on this cold day to say how cool this looked, and I explained how I transferred into the driver's seat to drive the van, their attention was rapt. They had never seen a vehicle like this, and they were really impressed. Perhaps by default, I am destined to be an emissary for wheelchair users... Of course there is a top ten list of Wheelchair Advantages, and number 1 is look at those great parking places you get...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Cooking a la Ralph

I have noted in the past that I do enjoy cooking. The F.O. says that things best illustrated by this photo is work. I would answer that chopping up an onion or pepper is actually relaxing to me. In this situation, the major construction on our wheelchair accessible kitchen was fairly complete (the walls weren't taped, spackled and painted yet). I was making a crock pot meal, a pot roast I'd guess, judging by the onion being chopped, the potatoes on the side, and the can of Swanson's low sodium beef broth. Celery and carrots were probably part of the equation. (note to Kids 1 and 2: Celery enhances stews and soups...makes them taste better!).

It was worth the money and equity loans to reconfigure the place to allow me to cook more easily from the chair. And eliminating the carpeting in this area with a laminate floor makes the wheelchair move easier. The wider doors to the garage and living room also make life easier.

Even if I grill outside, the reconfigured kitchen makes outdoor cooking prep easier. Such as grilled bread. We buy a loaf of the sliced Portuguese bread baked in nearby Bridgeport, from the Madison or Pombal bakeries. At home, melt some butter in a small saucepan and combine with olive oil, at my roll-under range top. Brush this mixture on the aforementioned bread, both sides, and place on the grill on the upper setting over a charcoal fire (both sides, again). This makes a great appetizer. You can also prep a Gorgonzola salad dressing in the kitchen. You can marinade the chicken , pork or beef with Ken's Steak House Italian Dressing (a local New England brand), and this tastes good when grilled. I enjoy having an accessible kitchen, I really do relax when prepping and cooking food...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Airheads Revisited

After I dropped Kid1 off at the Uof H for the graduation yesterday, I figured that since the airport (Bradley Intl, Hartford/Springfield - BDL) was only about 9 or so miles from there, I'd look at airplanes!

Like when I was a little kid at the candy store at 202nd St and Northern Blvd. in Bayside, here I was a big kid at the airport. I miss the days when you go to the gate areas, but there are windows here to look at the planes, some taking off, some landing, stuff that is still interesting to me. I've always liked the idea of being in a heavier than air machine in the air. As for this photo, it is not mine...but I was parked at McDonalds on Rte 75 in Windsor Locks, and if I had my camera, I could've had this shot right out the window of my camera. But this shot is pretty much what I saw of the Southwest 737 landing on Runway 33. In fact, a real airgeek would tell you that this plane was flight 748 from Chicago.

Well I like airplanes and airports, and it's legal (makes me a plane-o-holic?). I remember in 2001 (pre 9-11) I was with Kid2 at the New Haven airport and the airline person asked if we'd like to go out on the tarmac (he had a key), and a USAirways Express commuter plane was pulling up. We thought this was so fascinating that although the plane was small (a Dash-8, 37 passengers) it was cool being outside. The plane landed, the people got off, the luggage was retrieved, the garbage from the flight offloaded, the fuel truck began to fill it up, etc. Kid2 at age 9 was impressed as was this 45 year old Dad.

i spoke with an older couple who said that they camte to BDL on Sundays to have breakfast and look at planes, and they were very nice and we had an extended conversation ranging from the DC-3 to the L-1011 (ask the F.O. about her first flights on an L-1011 and the Bahamasair aborted takeoff). I noticed that at the one parking area off the departure end of runway 24, there were about six cars parked there, and most of them looked like parents with kids waiting for a something to take off. I think that the parents might have wanted some plane action as much if not more than the youngsters...of course, I understand such behaviour :>)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Saturday in May

Our lawn was looking way overgrown until today. Our lawn mower was being repaired last week, but we just picked it up. (One of the advantage of my wheelchair E150 van is the lift makes it easy to get power equipment fixed or make dump runs on Saturdays). Kid1 just mowed the lawn, trimmed with the weedwacker and used the blower to remove the grass clippings from the road. Our front lawn has reverted to its rightful place as the best looking on the street (IMO).

Kid2 is with his drama club in NYC today. They took the Metro North train from Milford to New York at about 8:20 and will return about 11:35 tonight. They saw a show on Broadway and are taking in the sights of the big city. The teacher who spearheaded this trip was also the director of A Streetcar Named Desire in March, and is so passionate and excited by the written word and acting, I wish all my teachers in HS were as exciting as this guy.

I'm taking Kid1 to the U of H tomorrow, as she is one of the volunteer students being involved as ushers at the graduation commencement. We are proud of her first year, she has been involved with the campus TV station and was the layout editor of the yearbook. These are great activities, and she is not a partier at all. She has made lots of new friends, and really has enjoyed college, and we are happy for that.

Finally, Kid2 and the AHS band are playing at the Veterans memorial in or town, which covers WW2, Korea, Vietnam. It is just a nice tribute to the townspersons who fought for the USA (and those who didn't return). Hooray to the band and Kid2 for participating!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

We're feeling grounded

As it is close to Memorial Day, thoughts turn to growing things in soil. In our northern climate, we will start in earnest our plantings next week. This includes Patti's flower bed, which as you know, is protected by gnomes. The perennials are starting but not yet flowering. This garden is very nice and as noted previously, offsets the green yet ugly crabgrass visible here. And the birdbath attracts many feathered friends (which drive Sir Humphrey nuts...)

As for me, next week we will go to a nursery and pick up lots of plants: tomatoes, cherry peppers, basil and so on. We plant these in 5 gallon buckets with drain holes installed. Because these are in pots, I can tend to them as well as reach this delicious summer fruit.

Also, the holiday is a big one for parades. Kid2 will be in one parade with the Junior Hurricanes marching band next Saturday and with the High School band in our town's parade on Sunday. Kid1 was also invited to march with the HS band, and it will be fun to see our two young'uns back in uniform...And in last year's parade, the HS band marched with the CT Hurricanes, the premier marching band in the state, and Kid1 looks as if she is really enjoying herself at the reviewing stand in front of City Hall. So let's hear it four our flautist and saxophonist! Even when the kids have flown, we will always be around for our small town parade

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Potpourri, anyone?

Well, I think that this current 'writers block' is going away. There will be no comments about me being the second 'blockhead' after lovable Charlie Brown...right???

So I have taken the liberty to talk about a few interesting things. Like this early view of (L-R) Kid2 and Kid1, I think in early 1992, which would make the boy about 16 months, and the girl a little more than 2 1/2. I suspect that he wasn't taking direction well, and something about "Read my Lips" was in order. They are best friends today, and I think so then as well.....

As promised on an earlier post, I was going to show my readership the Bayside Belle fashion show at 204-07 35th Avenue in Bayside, NY in 1957. I noted that Michele and myself were dressed up, but the ladies Grandma and Aunt Terry were dressed up for our trip into Manhattan, aka "the City" to those in the other four boroughs of what you always thought was part of the contraire! Anyhow, check the hats, the smart 1957 designs and that animal around Grandma's neck. I think now that Grandpa probably drove us to the City in his three-tone '55 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer (it was a 'hemi' as they say these days). I just don't think those outfits were subway friendly (heck, it must have been a trick just to sit down in those clothes). Terry, on the right was only 15...clothes make the girl, I'd say.

This last one needs no explanation. It is only a very comfortable
Sir Humphrey of the Uplands...No, he hasn't obtained a peerage or is a member of the House of Lords...but he sure acts the part. He is especially tough with his meow demands:
- Feed Me
- Open all the windows
- Give me the garage
- Feed me
He's a good guy when he is awake (6 hours per day), and lives a soft life (not including his fur). we became cat people by default, but he is okay. Check out the "did you have to disturb me" look!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

To Mom

Yes, it's mothers day, and we children (and we all are) get to honor mom in small ways. My mom has been gone for over 20 years, and is missed. I only wish that she could have known Kid1 and Kid2, she (and they) would have been impressed!

But it's not that I don't have great memories of Eileen (Scott). To the left is Mom with her firstborn, my older sister Michele, in 1954. For all the work a baby entails, that is a genuine smile - that whatever work there was and the work ahead, she is happy and proud of the new life in her life...To Joan, that picture of your mom and you two, it is that look of happiness, and you can't fake it!

To the right, is after Kids 2 (myself) and 3 (a pretty young Claudia) at a picture shoot at our grandparents in Ohio, fall 1956. Mom is taking all of this in stride, because judging from me, this photo shoot is about to implode! Can you imagine getting us all dressed and keeping us in relatively good humor for this photo event (Grandpa had a thing about taking a lot of pictures to be sure that good ones would happen). And to my relations who look closely will see Grandma's Divan (that's what she called it), now beautifully restored and recovered on Blueberry Lane)'

Today's honoree is Patti's mom, Marion. This shot was from Christmas, 2002, and is with Kid2 (now about 7-8 inches taller than then). Today i prepared Pork Dijon, cheese mashed potatoes and roasted zucchini, with a dry white Spanish Rioja, and typical wonderful conversation. Marion is a nice lady, and I hope to celebrate Mother's Day with her for many more. Some say this is another artificial holiday...but moms are important and worthy of all 365 days, but this day was nice.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

All together now

We celebrated our 21st last night, and why not celebrate with food? We went to a local restaurant where the FO had a beautiful strip steak and I had veal with onions, mushrooms and melted Fontina cheese...yummy. But, the beauty of this arrangement is that when we are served, we can relax and talk...about nearly anything...we are relaxed and un-hurried and it is so enjoyable to just sit and talk with my love...

We picked up Kid1 from school today, and she was in no hurry to finish packing and leave school, even if she had to...she enjoyed her freshman year so much, and we parents are thrilled that she did. Sir Humphrey is so confused to see this person so sporadically that he doesn't know how to welcome her home. Burgers with Pepper Jack cheese to welcome our first born home again...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Joyeux Anniversaire

As many of you know, complements to my fellow crew member, it is our 21st anniversary of wedded bliss. And it is true that she is my best friend and companion. An early post of mine noted our unique similarities, and we do think and view many things as one. We met at a later age than some, but the wait was surely worth it. The wedding day in 1986 was stunningly beautiful, dry, deep blue skies and 72 deg F. Couldn't have been a nicer day, yet every day since then is nice...
The anniversary celebrations have always been fun and included nice food (The Yankee Silversmith, Zhanghis, Connies, Food and Beverage Company, Olde Birmingham, etc). How we celebrate tonight I don't know, but as long as we are together, you can celebrate for any reason!
Patti, as noted elsewhere, you are the duck that I love best (quack!)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Mememe (Of course, It's about ME)

Tag, I'm it again. I do remember Lucy and Chernobyl (and that wouldn't have happened on my birthday except that part of the USSR was +7 hours ahead, even though it was 4/25/86 where I was)...Thanks to my elegant F.O. for the tag!

Born on April 26:
- Carol Burnett, American comedian, 1933
- Bobby Rydell, American singer, 1942 (remember as Philadelphia singer who sang “Wild One”)
Died on April 26:
- Lucille Ball, American actress and comedian, 1989
Events on April 26:
- In Ukraine, a nuclear reactor accident occurs at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, 1986
- English colonists of the Jamestown settlement make landfall at Cape Henry, Virginia, 1607.
- First container ship left Port Newark, New Jersey for Houston, 1956

Monday, May 7, 2007

Three of a Kind Beats a Pair

I've been archiving a bit this evening, and have found a few unique shots. I've written before about being Ralph III, named for my absolutely cool Grandpa, Ralph. The picture on the left is from my earliest days, with Grandpa and Dad, I'd guess in 1956. Taken at Brigantine, NJ, the island just north of Atlantic City.

To the right, this picture is from 1981. Ralph I passed away that summer, so this is one of the last times we three gentlemen (?!) had our picture taken together. Guess which one of the Ralves is which (is that the plural of Ralph?). Instead of the Odd Couple, is this the Odd Triple?

Since I was archiving, I found a few oddities that were taken in Brigantine or Atlantic City. I don't remember the specifics, but have enjoyed the stroll down memory lane:

To the left is infanthood at 105 S. 23rd Street. Grandpa always wondered if he should've bought that house for a family vacation house, only two blocks from the very nice beaches on the Atlantic. To the right, I'm in front of a place that I would enjoy as an adult, the S.S. Minnow disguised as a saloon. I didn't know it then...Of course, all the glitzy casinos in AC today leave no room for a quirky yacht bar like this. Ah, the price of progress. In the center, the view in 1961 from the front row of the Sea Gull cottages. As an adult, I'd probably consider them to be sort of dumpy, but at age 6, I didn't have the cynicism of an adult, expecting a Radisson Hotel on the beach. I note in my profile that I am a sentimentalist

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Summertime, and the lawnin' is easy

I think that this perfect lawn fetish is a suburban guy thing. I've heard many men talk about fertilizer, lime, type of grass seed, manure and other 'earthy' things (I didn't spend much time on that line!). The picture to your left of a green carpet er lawn does not express the views of management...or our lawn. The term turf sounds too majestic given the actual ground under our feet. Can we all say Ground Cover?
Given my wheelchair, I am not able to really do the guy thing and work on the lawn, short of summoning Kids 1&2 to work on the lawn. Yet, when the mulberry tree is in bloom in the front yard, I think that we have the nicest front lawn on the street. The grass isn't great except for what's in the shade, but only my F.O. has a flower bed guarded by gnomes. And the shrubbery (I think of Monty Python's Holy Grail where the order is to cut down shrubbery with a herring...DONG!) we have is trimmed and neat. So any ugly crabgrass is offset by cute-as-a button gnomes. I guess that I can't play in the manly great grass game.

I can participate in the one to the right...burnin' meat over a charcoal fire, of course a manly endeavour. Although here I am charbroiling an innocent marshmallow. I suppose that this activity goes back the cave person's world where I slayed the impala/elk/bear/dinosaur to feed my family...okay that's a stretch. As they say about disabilities, that ability is the root of the prior word, and I am able to burn (I mean 'char') a London Broil with the best of 'em!

Friday, May 4, 2007


If you are reading the other cockpit crew's musings, you know that at a certain age, plenty people start talking about fiber and how it might improve certain... ah...processes (I'll be discreet about that subject). We have tried the powder in the picture and for this type of product, it is pretty agreeable: a fine powder that is tasteless and dissolves well. The label says that you can add to your favourite recipe (I'm interested in the product, but not that interested).

As for the Ulcerative colitis, well, I suppose that the medicine may be starting to work, but the affected area was quite inflamed and probably will take awhile to fix everything. The GI doctor, as well as my personal physician have said that my case was relatively mild...I'd hate to see what a relatively severe case entails!

I am thinking about trying my hand at vegetarian cooking (not vegan, I like to cook with butter!). Garbanzo salads we have made, with the beans, celery and carrots and that had fiber. I've never cooked eggplant, for instance. Any ideas from my "audience"

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Tag - I'm It

I have been tagged by Joan...Ten things of interest about me??
  1. I like old American cars with big fins. I'd love to have a 1958 Chrysler New Yorker, 392 Hemi and push button TorqueFlite in turquoise and white with fat whitewalls and those fins. I enjoy old car shows to look cars from the 40-50-60's.
  2. I like singing to the cat. The other day I was singing along to the Beatles Lovely Rita. and Humphrey was either squinting away (or falling asleep)
  3. I love those classic old Warner Bros. cartoons directed by such greats as Chuck Jones and Friz Freeling. Some of my favorites are Rabbit Every Monday, A Rabbit Grows in Brooklyn and What's Up Doc. These weren't really kids cartoons, but had adult sensibilities. Can you imagine being in a production meeting where the grownups are trying to figure out how to blow up a cartoon character without killing him?
  4. I like to cook (and eat) many comfort foods, such as chili and pot roast. And the F.O. recently purchased a large capacity crock pot to do just that.
  5. As for TV, I don't want to watch one genre of shows, My tastes these days include the Food Network (most any show), Modern Marvels, American Eats and Dogfight on the History Channel and The Simpsons. When I was in middle school, I always watched Mannix, Ironside, Dragnet, Get Smart and I Dream of Jeannie (I was a gear head of sorts back then, and Major Nelson always drove a classic Pontiac GTO).
  6. I like the family Saturday Night dinner music which includes Big Band (FM 90.1), Oldies (102.9), and Disco (107.9). really, if I could walk, I would love to dance to any of these!
  7. I like being in the air on a plane, a big jet or small. Many years ago, I flew with a pilot of a Cessna 172 up the CT. River valley in foliage season. It was very windy and very bouncy up there but the foliage view and deep blue sky were wonderful as we flew near Mt. Monadnock in NH at only 3,000 ft. This flight was worth the turbulence.
  8. I enjoy reading books, newspapers, magazines. As for papers, my dad, and old newspaper guy, always said that The Wall Street Journal was the best written and edited paper there is, and I favorite newspaper
  9. I enjoy as much time as allowed with our Kid1 and Kid2. As much as we ate together just about always when they were little, we try to do so as often as possible now. All four of us ate last together on Easter, and it was as nice as ever being together
  10. Of course, I'm so happy being with my F.O., the main love of my life!
I don't know 10 to tag, but am happy to have been 'it' now!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Kids Growth Spurt

It is starting to seem a bit different as the kids get older. Kid1 is in college, granted only 49 miles away. On Friday, Kid2 and the high school band are being adjudicated and this includes going to Philadelphia and Six-Flags (NJ). So this is one of the rare times since 1991 when at least one kid was at home when we were. So I guess we ought to prepare for the day when it will be the Captain, F.O. and the Humphrey the cat for 8 months of the year in our abode. Kid2 is ending his junior year...

When they were babies, they needed you for survival, but as they get older they need you more than ever for support, guidance, wisdom (and the occasional $) I think we have provided them with a set of values, and think that they have learned well. It is not sad, but different. I have an idea of how my parents felt when I was in college (1973-1977). In those days, there were no computers for e-mail or IM, cell phones or prepaid phone cards for quick phone calls home. Also, I was about 550 miles from home, and high regulated air fares from Pittsburgh to Hartford, I couldn't fly home for long weekends. I guess that I didn't contact my parents enough as they always implored me to write home! Kid1 is often talking to Patti almost every day, so communications are good...Kid2 will be as good about this I think. It will be different when the crew consists of the 3 I've mentioned...