Monday, July 30, 2007

Roughing it

For the second time this weekend, I took a ride to Silver Lake in Sharon. Kid2 was dropped off, and along with Counselor Asst. Kid1, they will be there until Saturday. I have written about this before, but it bears repeating that it is a bit strange for both to be gone even for this short time. If you visit Patti's blog today about this, there is a picture of the two urchins taken yesterday at camp. I appropriated the picture to the right from the lovely Patti's blog to emphasize this point. Kid1 was in second grade, Kid2 beginning Kindergarten in 1995. Then it was backpacks, yesterday it was: duffel bags, portable fans, sheets, a sleeping bag, pillows, canvas totes, a saxophone, and a hardbound copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. They are not exactly roughing it, but we may be, a bit...

This was our ride, our steed, or our Conestoga wagon for the ride up and back. Compared to a car, it is louder, has a harder ride eats more fuel. But harping about the vices of this particular vehicle misses the virtues when compared to an actual Conestoga: 1) Paved roads; 2) Front and rear A/C; 3) Six speakers; 4) No horse dung, etc. We went out to Bertuccis (chain in the northeast) for a sausage pizza, with a salad of mozzarella, tomatoes and greens in a balsamic vinaigrette, Merlot and a cappuccino. A nice dinner together sans children. To avoid dwelling on anything, perhaps we will prepare a dinner tomorrow of be pasta with artichokes and pancetta. The thought now, anyway at 21:57 EDT

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Back from camp

I returned from taking Kid1 to church camp - she will be an assistant counselor for the week (see Patti's earlier post). The camp, Silver Lake is run by the UCC and is in bucolic Sharon, CT, the upper left corner of the third smallest state. We are happy that both kids enjoy being part of this, considering the things other older kids may be into (no explanation needed!). We drop Kid2 off there tomorrow.

This part of CT is really beautiful, being nestled in the foothills of the Berkshires. The 'over hill, over dale imcludes climbing into and out of two substantially hilly river valleys (Naugatuck and Housatonic). There is a preponderance of two kinds of farms, dairy moo-cows and horses. The farms are stunning. The whole area is a beautiful, albeit isolated area. Towns like Canaan, Salisbury and Norfolk are attractive with nice restaurants, Bed & Breakfasts, etc. Nice places. Someday, I'd like to find a charming whelchair accessible B&B to stay at...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Jobless in Ansonia

Tomorrow is the fourth week since my layoff. In the interim, I have done the modern job hunt by e-mailing resumes, but have decided that it is time to have an attractive paper resume (the way it was done ten years ago). So tomorrow, I am taking my digital resume to Fedex-Kinkos and have nice copies printed. I don't have a great network, but someone else in this home knows many more people, and has quite a network of her own...Right? I will work in a more serious manner next week. But more importantly, an old friend I haven't seen for quite a while is stopping by tomorrow. He is bringing fresh cucumbers and jalapeƱo peppers from his garden. Therefore, more of the job hunt next week while I burn some meat, beef I think, over a charcoal fire tomorrow. Cold brews and reminiscing might a bit more important at the moment ("A Victim of Circumstance" to quote Curly Howard)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The rewarding blogosphere

I started to blog recently, and really do enjoy it. More importantly, I have made new blogging friends. The blogs I visit are of talented writers, and I discover more and more wonderful writers. For this, I must credit the lovely Patti, the finest writer I know. And there are two kind bloggers that have presented me with awards, and these mean a lot to me.

This has been presented to me by the tired one Lynn, Mama extraordinaire. One of the aspects of this award is for those that make visitors feel at home on their blog. I see this blog as an extension of our home, and as such, welcome to my home. I am not shy, but reserved at the first meeting. I do warm up, but I want you to be comfortable here. I have points of view on many subjects, including politics, but I only want to talk, or invite conversation. To Lynn, I thank you. Also, there is the Bayside connection...I never could have connected SoCal and Bayside if not for some thoughtful bloggers.

This is a gift from Linda, Super Mom. Needing the wheelchair to get around wasn't a lifestyle choice, but was confronted with and was forced to live with a change nobody would choose. There are two ways to deal with such, and that is to whine and complain about this woe, or to assume a quiet dignity and continue to live your life. I think that a measure of courage is within all of us, just waiting for the right moment. For instance, an ambulance dispatcher is cool and professional…they are involved in saving lives That is grace under pressure, that is courage. I like the CT connection as well.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Not this summer

Since this blog began, I have been extolling the virtues of summer family forays to Hyannis on Cape Cod. Given my current job(less) status, we won't be going this year. Want to pay attention to where the lira/pfennings/centimes are going (like my job, the noted currencies have passed on). But I have the visual remembrances to keep the idea alive until next year:

There is a mini-golf place in the center of town. It is old, not like the ultra-modern golf palaces on Route 28. Because it is old and worn I can get my wheelchair on and off most of the 18 greens and actually play a round. In golf, the high score wins, right??

Beautiful weather while at Craigville Beach. Blue skies, sun, and the view of Nantucket Sound while seated in a beach wheelchair watching the sun worshipers and doing absolutely nothing. On vacations, the biggest decision of the day is where we are going to have dinner...

And of course, being with the family. This view is on Orleans in 2001. The kids are bigger and older now, but the feeling is the same...together. We will travel east again, but the great memories are quite a souvenir...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Variety is the spice of life?

On the work front, I did have an interview on Thursday for a contract position. It will be a couple of weeks before I know if it is a real possibility. This where I need to think a bit. It is contract, which means temp, which is what I would prefer at this time. But as noted on the blog in the past, a real career change might be what I need. I have been in a manufacturing environment which has included purchasing, inventory, planning and sales administration. It may be time to chuck this, although I have no idea of what to replace it with. This is why a contract position might be ideal, maybe to allow me to transition me somewhere else...although this possible assignment could be interesting for 6-12 months. Stay tuned.

I didn't take this one, but Kid1 did in Paris in 2004. I really enjoy this one, even though she and Patti were actually there and Kid2 and myself were home in the Naugatuck Valley. As the story goes, they were on a tour bus, and the picture was taken through the window. Wow. I would love to go to Paris, but it will take much planning (and $) to make a trip like this work with the wheelchair, but I can still dream. I was told that the elevators on la Tour Eiffel should accommodate a wheelchair.

As promised earlier, I am showcasing the 67¢ basting brush the F.O gave me last week. Isn’t it a beauty? Agreed that there are many things to be concerned about in this world, so why not get excited about an item I can and will use? In this photo, Kid2 is basting chicken on the grill. I like it. The humid weather has passed and it was a delightful 77 deg. F with dry northwest winds at about 15MPH. A great family day.

To Lynn, I am honored for the award and will post about this real soon.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Everybody falls in tag somehow...

I have been tagged by the lovely First Officer/Co-Pilot, a meme to include our date of birth and to find three events, two births and a holiday that happened on that date, in my case April 26, 1955 (you could have extrapolated that date from my State of CT Majority card in my last post without this revelation...), I added deaths as well. Let's try:

1955: Mike Scott (same day) pitcher extraordinaire for the Houston Astros. My memories include the 1986 NL playoffs. If the Astros beat the Mets in game 6, they never would have beaten Scott in Game 7. And my RedSox might have not been star crossed in their Game 6 with the Astros instead of the Mets...

1822: Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of many parks, two of his most famous being Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

1984: 'Count' Basie. Jazz big bandleader and composer. Wrote one of my favorite swing era classics, the One O'clock Jump, as well as April in Paris (pour mon amie)

1973: Irene Ryan, the irascible Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies. As for her recipies, I'll pass on the squirrel and possum, but wouldn't mind sampling the wares of her famous jug. I can't say if it is moonshine or an octane booster, remember the drag race that the Clampett's truck won after Granny put some of the contents of the jug into the gas tank?

Confederate Memorial Day in Florida and Georgia (Empress Bee take note).

1986: Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded and released a radioactive cloud over the Ukraine. Actually, that event actually happened on 4/25 in CT, given the seven hour time difference...

1564: William Shakespeare, aka 'The Bard' was baptized in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.

1865: John Wilkes Booth is cornered and killed by Federal troops.

Merci, mon amie. I love the research!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Everything old...

Last week I changed my profile picture for a day, and used the one from the ID card on the right. Due to the low quality of the scanned picture, I had to remove it. Lynn had wondered if this was my graduation picture. It was taken almost two months before my graduation from George J.Penney HS in East Hartford (a perfectly middle of the road class rank: 258 out of 422). The ID in question was known simply as a 'Majority' card, which you obtained to purchase beer, etc. legally in this state at age 18 (the legal age starting from Oct '72 to 1984). I went to a Woolworth photo booth, you remember those? I used that one for the picture. I look like a long hair sourpuss in this photo...and my hair was of a reasonable length to most people, except my father, who wore a crew cut and argued with me about my long hair. I won the battle, but lost the war (this hair didn't look so good after all). But the card is crumbling, and I wanted to scan it for the sake of history. The real graduation picture is to the left, and it was taken about 10 months earlier in 1972. The hair then was pleasantly 'mod' in length and style, and it was a razor cut that cost a whopping $5 in those days. The tie hadn't yet graduated to the clown width prevalent in the mid 70's. And that is a real jacket, not a leisure suit (I never owned one of those!). And of course, I smiled a bit. I am not a sourpuss in the official photo!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Gorilla My Dreams

Or is it Grille of My Dreams? (Actually, the title is from one of my favorite Bugs Bunny Looney Tunes). We do enjoy our patio, and we did some grilling recently on a remarkably beautiful late afternoon (80° F) with very low humidity. Reminds me of my favorite Christmas poem (with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore):

"The patio was washed down with care,
with the hopes that Grille Man would soon be there"

So Kid2 and I purchased a new charcoal grill at Ocean State Job Lot (the regional equivalent to Big! Lots). It was only $35, and the closest to a Weber kettle grill that I can handle - the Weber doesn't have a hinged lid, and is too heavy for me to lift. The new one has the hinges, so I can operate the lid from my wheelchair.

I made pork marinated in limes. I used a pork tenderloin sliced into 6 pieces, marinated in lime juice, crushed red pepper, fresh garden basil and Rosemary and peppercorns. Later the grille was prepared and I worked with the grilled Portuguese bread prior to cooking the pork. The pork is in process, and the already grilled bread on the plate has just the right amount of char, as it was coated with an olive oil/butter mixture first. It's foolproof.

Of course, the meal was really good because all four of us were there. Enjoying a meal together is really the best. We are going to cook chicken on the grill tomorrow, and I am looking forward to it, as Patti has purchased for me a new basting brush she picked up from Big! Lots today. I will get a picture of the 67¢ brush tomorrow. In fact, summer closeouts are happening now, so maybe more grill accessories will be in our possession soon...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Steubenville, redux

Okay, Steubenville, Jefferson County Ohio exists in metaphysical or metahphorical state of being, I guess, to some people. But I feel that this place is real, and I have some proof of such. I see the paraphrased lyrics of the following song to validate that Steubenville indeed spawned some talented people. I think of the following which was on Thursdays at 10:00 on NBC and included the lovely (I guess, to someone in fourth grade) Gold Diggers, and the local who made it really big:

"Everybody memes somebody sometime
Everybody falls in tag somehow
Something in your blog
Just told me
My sometime is now

Everybody blogs somebody someplace
There's no tellin' where your prose may appear
Something in your blog
Keeps saying
My someplace is here”

With apologies to Steubenville's favorite son,Dino Paul Crocetti, (okay, Dean Martin). I figure that Michael C , who's very blog being started with the Rat Pack, would get this. Although I've never considered him to be a skeptic about Steubenville, but for those who truly are skeptics, I offer the following visual stimuli to convince you that the 'Ville is worthy of some consideration:

Or maybe not. I happen to like what I would characterize as an old mill town. The primary manufactured item there is steel. I have an affinity for old mill towns, and where we live now is a town of that sort, the big metal here is copper...Still, Allegra will have her proof when we take our trip here someday...

Monday, July 9, 2007

Disability Rights?

Okay, what am I to do? I mean, there is no enforcement officer in sight. I am stymied...that guy doesn't even have a permit! He is parked in the space that I am entitled to...

Saturday, July 7, 2007

It was just my imagination running away with me??

I have this thing about hearing songs that remind me of a previous era in my life. I heard a couple today that remind be of a Place named Steubenville, Ohio...really. I have told my family that this city is not some mythical far away place like Shangri-La, but it's real, Kid1. Now I heard two songs from my college days today, both very different in style, both within 5 minutes of each other. Both part of my freshman year at Franciscan University. First, does anyone remember Mott the Hoople? I heard All the Young Dudes: "All the young dudes carry the news..." Written by David Bowie, I haven't a clue what the lyrics really mean. Catchy tune and I like the song but this song reminds me more of my College Daze.

"Oh, I'd like to know where you got the notion...” which is of course Rock the Boat by the Hues Corporation, same year, same place. Catchy tune and a dance beat, and not nearly as obtuse as Mott the Hoople. Lots of other songs I relate to my freshman year of 1973-1974, including Band on the Run (one of McCartney's best albums) and We're an American Band. Actually, I run into these songs and many older oldies on our favorite 102.9 almost as often now as then!

Okay, back to Steubenville. Kid1 thinks the place is not real. It sounds like my imagination is on the loose. I try the facts... It is on US 22, 39 miles west of Heinz Field, the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, 29 miles from the Pittsburgh airport. Then I try the songs argument: "I know the place exists because I heard that song! I guess that we are going to have to take that 10-hour drive to prove my point. In addition, Patti has seen the place, although she might not admit it...Although, the attached graphic might (should?) be proof enough for Kid1...And Follansbee is a real place, too!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Christmas in July?????

We all complain about the weather. But when you hear about the excessive temperatures in Phoenix, the I.E., Vegas, etc. as being excessively hot, 115° F, it seems as if it would be impossible. I was speaking once with someone who lived in Tempe and his opinion was that hottest part of the summer was like the deep of winter up north, maybe that's true. I've gone on vacation to some hot places over the years: Phoenix, Virginia Beach, Omaha (102° and humid), New Orleans and Biloxi...every place was hot, and the humidity was oppressive everywhere but AZ. I was visiting people I liked, so who cared. But hot is hot. Check our unique holiday decoration from a few years ago. This cheap Chinese import was supposed to stand upright on the lawn, but the junk collapsed. We attached it to the ramp in the corner. It fit perfectly, the proverbial lemons to lemonade (preferably with plenty of ice!). And then it snowed a couple of inches, and the flash reflected off some flakes. Voila, a picture for the ages...we are not a pros, but I like this shot! I did notice in AZ that 102° seemed to be much cooler than 110°, the max I felt in my visit. If your imagination can make you cooler, check out the snowy orbs encircling our Chinese tree...

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Pick Yer Poison!

Lynn had channelled both Patti and Myself regarding food recently. I had replied that you can prepare elegant yet easy recipes. On the left is the shrimp-n-pasta that is made with canned chicken broth, canned diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, onions and defrosted medium shrimp. Over angel hair, the prep and cook time is not more than 25 minutes. That's it! On the right is a steak salad...sirloin tips covered with a peppercorn rub, cooked in a skillet and added to the lettuce..add what you want! In Feb, and it was frrrezing outside, but this summer salad had mushrooms, sliced banana peppers from a jar, grape tomatoes and a sharp Gorgonzola cheese. And the obligatory (but I never get tired of it!) local Portuguese bread. Total time? 20 minutes at the outside.

I only talk about this because good food is easy. And if you don't want meat or fish, use all the vegetables you want: fresh green beans, Garbanzos, zucchini, whatever. And we aren't anal gourmands...when I made my first steak salad in 2001, (insert hushed tones) I...used...a...bottled dressing...Horrors!!! (Cains Peppercorn Parmesan from Boston was the offender). I grew up as part of a family of seven kids and two adults, and my mother couldn't spend all day cooking (except for Thanksgiving) and made Chili and many soups that did not take much prep time...and were excellent!

Am I a gourmand? No, but what is the best thing about eating with your family and/or friends? You linger over the food, you talk, you laugh, you enjoy your dinner mates. There are no bad meals...not with those you like to be with!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Independence on June 30?

Three cheers for the red, white and...kielbasa?

We made the annual trip to Michele's for the celebration of our Independence. And as always, the day was great. We see people that we don't see that often, and the food was wonderful. As for the food, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention some of the usual/unusual: Corn dip for scoop-able Fritos, Onion Soup dip (a staple for parties in my family since I was 6), potato-egg salad, a delicious rice salad, a great taco salad, grilled kielbasa, hot dogs and burgers. I should probably lose weight, but not today!

And it was cool that Patti's mom came with us. Baby Adam was there, and what doting parents Sue and Steve are, and Adam is so healthy and far away from his 2 lb 12 oz preemie days. And relatives, cousins, nieces and nephews.

And the fireworks. Michele lives close to the next town, and they held their yearly fireworks yesterday. The group hikes up to a church about 1/2 mile away and we watch the fireworks, themselves being launched about a mile away from that. The views are clear and you can get pictures. I like the picture above, because it is in motion and squiggly (no tripod). Thank you Kid1! And have you noticed the latest in fashion in glow-stick wear? Bracelets and necklaces and headbands...Oh My!!! The whole visit is just a nice time. Happy Birthday, America.