…And Whiskers on Kittens….

IMG_8391 watermarkedIMG_8383 watermarkedIMG_8403 watermarkedThese are a few of my Favorite Things….

I got absolutely drenched getting these shots, but what FUN!  I hope you all like the photographs as much as I liked the process of taking them.

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Eleven Questions

Thanks to Peaches for tagging me!!

Let’s get started:

RULES
1.You must post the rules.
2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post.
3. Create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
4. Tag (eleven) people with a link to
your post.
5. Let them know they’ve been tagged.

QUESTIONS FOR ME TO ANSWER:

Least favorite quality in some people?  Dishonesty and Backstabbers

Favorite smell?  The smell of Christmas Dinner cooking, and Balsam

Favorite song that is at least 10 years old?   D’yer Mak’er  Led Zeppelin

What is your biggest niggling anxiety at the moment? (Not fear, just..anxiety)  Finances

Best health tip? Drink lots of Water

Favorite type of book? I have to have a favorite type????   Hmm, mysteries, thrillers, spy novels, sci-fi, high fantasy, romance, supernatural romance, supernatural, biographies, historical fiction, historical non- fiction (particularly the Tudor era) and so on, and so forth, etc etc.  I even like graphic novels and comic books.  Bibliophile Extraordinaire – thats me!

What injustice do you find most infuriating?  That people are still judged based on their appearance and not what’s it their hearts.

What is your favorite environment to be in?  Vacation mode, anywhere. Or home – snuggled up on the couch on a snowy evening with a warm blankie, hot cocoa and the husband.

What makes you feel safe?  See above, Actually, I feel most safe on Saturday afternoons, after chores are done, dinners in the oven, on the grill, or in the slow cooker, the fridge is full of good food, I’m sipping a glass of good white wine, and listening to the neighborhood kids (including mine) laugh and play.

What do you love most about yourself or your life? I’m fortunate to have family and friends that provide unconditional love and support.

What moment in history do you think most affects the present?  Hands down, has to be 9/11 – unfortunately.  

My 11 Questions:

Channelling James Lipton (“Inside the Actors Studio”)  here for the first two questions:

1.  What is your favorite Sound?

2.  When you get to heaven, What’s the first thing God will say to you?

3. Favorite  @%&*U*$%&   word?

4.  Personal Accomplishment that makes you feel the best?

5.  Biggest Regret? (I’ve had a few, but then again – too few to mention)

6.  Favorite Drink?  (alcoholic or non-alcoholic)

7. What’s the best vacation you ever took? And why?

8. Whats the best movie adaptation of a book you’ve ever seen, and why?

9.  Describe the person you are closest to in one word.

10.  Do you have a hobby, if so – what is it? (Blogging doesn’t count for these purposes, lol)

11.  What grinds your gears about people?

And as a big bonus:  Name 5 things that make you happy!

Taggees:

Barneysday

Irishsignora

Gina

Eleenie

Kate

Sammyjaybird

Russelray

raymondtowers

Emma

Genie

Marsha

underthewisdomtree

SKEdazzles

Nostalgia and Summer Magic

With apologies to Mr King (I edited the tense and changed the year)

“All the same, the past feels very close just now. Maybe it’s just the golden cast of the declining summer light, which has always struck me as slightly supernatural. It’s as if 1970 were still right here, only hidden beneath a flimsy film of intervening years”. ~ Stephen King, 11/22/63

Perhaps it’s because we were both born and reside in New England, albeit different generations, but I “get” Stephen King. His writing just lingers in my brain, mulling around – until I come out with some seemingly random quote that makes sense to absolutely no one but me. The quote above fits my feelings, thoughts and mood PERFECTLY today. It’s certainly because I am on holiday from my job this week! And lastly, perhaps it’s also because my children are now officially on their summer break – which of course makes me nostalgic for my own childhood summers. So, you lucky folks get to read about that today.

1970 – We’d moved up from Westfield the previous July – over the weekend of the 19/20th to be exact. I remember watching Neil Armstrong take that historic giant leap for mankind on a 19 inch Sony black and white which had been placed upon a stack of moving boxes in our new dining room. My dad’s mother, who lived with us until 1973, remarked several times how she’d never thought to see the day. Born in 1887, she went from outhouses, lanterns and horse drawn carriages to indoor plumbing, dishwashers, refrigerators, and men landing on the moon. Who’d’a thunk it, right? Or so she said…. 1970 marked the first full official summer in the hilltown of Blandford, MA.

First Congregational Church, Blandford MA

Old Stone Wall, Watson Park Blandford MA

So what’s a (then) city girl like me to do during a small town summer in the southern Berkshire hills? Pull up a chair and lemme tell ya about it….

We had a 2 story cape on 2 acres of partially wooded land on a hillside, with a useable barn on the property. Due to spring runoff, some seriously ingenious person finagled the cellar so that the runoff cascaded down one built up side and was directed into a man made channel that bisected the cement cellar floor and then down and out the other side of the foundation. How many people can say that they have a brook running through their cellar? I always thought that was pretty cool. The system worked extremely well, and the runoff eventually made it to a roadside spring on the edge of our driveway. Man was that water ever cold, and it tasted wonderful! Bikers, hikers, and riders often stopped to fill their canteens in passing. The spring usually dried up in September. The cellar never flooded while we lived there. I happened to meet the current owner of the property recently and he told me that the cellar always floods in the spring nowadays because an owner in between us dammed up the spring, and cemented over the runoff channel in the cellar.

Childhood summers are timeless, the days blend together until the one day your mother has to take you school shopping (a half hour drive down to the city to go to Grants, Newberrys and Steigers for clothes and supplies). If the day was gonna be a “scorcher” you could always tell because the “jar flies” would be loudly buzzing. The morning sky, a bright steely grey and maybe only a breathy whisper of a breeze. Plans for such a day usually included using a bicycle or “shank’s mare”. Either way, we had to be careful because we lived on the main road to a popular summer tourist destination (Otis Reservoir) – and there was always quite a large volume of summer traffic starting Memorial Day Weekend and running through mid- September. Mom would make her grandmother’s famous lemonade iced tea (see prior post for recipe) and put some in thermoses for us. We were usually off exploring by 9:30 or 10 am.

No cell phones or iPods mind you. If we wanted music, we took a battery operated transistor radio that usually only operated on AM frequency. Here’s my 1970 playlist:

Bobby Sherman – Julie, Do Ya Love Me

The Partridge Family – I Think I Love You

The Band – Up On Cripple Creek

Elton John – Your Song

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Travelin Band

Elvis Presley – You Dont Have To Say You Love Me

The Who – Summertime Blues – Studio Version

Chicago – 25 Or 6 To 4

Carpenters – (They Long To Be) Close To You

Norman Greenbaum – Spirit In The Sky

Blues Image – Ride Captain Ride – Single/LP Version

Dawn – Candida

Simon & Garfunkel – El Condor Pasa (If I Could)

Jackson 5 – ABC

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Lookin’ Out My Back Door

Just Me circa 1970…. not happy with Mom takin my picture…. and wearing my favorite summer shirt, jsyk…

We either had to be back to have lunch, or if Mom had packed us one, we had to be back before supper. Possessions ended up in a knapsack or placed in the carryall basket on the handlebars of the bike. My bike was THE Coolest. Turquoise blue with a “banana” seat. Plastic wicker basket with cheesy plastic flowers on it. I pumped the pedals backwards to brake. And we (my sister and me) were off. Some days we went down to the old mica quarry/swamp next door and caught pollywogs or built forts on the “islands”. (I have another story about the mica quarry for another day) Other days we ranged farther afield and rode down to the dairy farm, wandering through the fields looking for a place to picnic, and trying unsuccessfully to “scare” the cows. They’d just look at us as if to say “Are you serious?” Or we’d ride to Cobble Mt Reservoir and fly kites off the spillway. After 9/11 the reservoir is closed off but when I was a teenager we’d go up there to make out with our boyfriends (braving an encounter with the “Cobble Mountain Critter“), and take illicit pleasure from peeing in Springfield’s drinking water... I was SUCH a rebel, wasn’t I? 😉

Sometimes we’d just hang out on our own property. Someone built a platform up in one of the white pines at the top of our hill and it was a great place to view the world from -provided you could stand the “pincher bugs” that seemed to infest the dang tree. Further back from that were the “Ponderosa” Pines. These were easy to climb and there were many days you could have found me high up in the limbs. You could hear quite a bit up there- lawnmowers, chain saws and the distant hum of the traffic from the turnpike down the valley aways. There were times were I actually fell asleep up there, dreamily watching the clouds and the world go by – don’t tell my mother! 😉 We also had permission to use a tree fort on the property of a summer home on top of the hill on Sunset Road. We’d play cards and eat our picnic lunches while listening to the dj on the transistor talk over/right through the beginning of the songs. (Didn’t you just HATE that? you could never tape a song back then…)

I mentioned the barn earlier. It was red, of course. That first full summer we were there we had not yet converted it to farm use. So the horse stall became our play house. We had a “Easy-Bake” oven up there and painted the inside of the stall to look like a kitchen. It was also a spot to jump in the hay pile, as we kept the hillside scythed, dried the hay, and gave it to our neighbors who had livestock at the time. We’d launch’ from the open second story of the barn, down into the stall itself. I miscalcuated once and knocked myself out, freaking out my sister and cousins who were visiting. I woke up alone a few minutes later and started wandering down to the house – only to see the adults swarming out the back door to come to my assistance. I still have a flat spot on the left side of my head where it hit the stall wall. This would explain much in terms of my personality, would it not? (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). We’d also use the barn to play “Hogan’s Heroes” if there were enough kids – and try to “escape”. We had NO idea it was not PC to do this at the time…..

Mom had a VERY loud whistle which she used to good effect to call us home. It had a range of a least a mile or so. The tune was “Me-Do” Supper was always between 5 and 5:30. It was expected that we’d come home in time to set the table and wash up. Conversation was expected at the table. Our day could never just be “good”. We were expected to have details about what we did that day, and to share them during dinner. We also had to ask to be excused from the table when we were finished, then help clean up and do dishes. After that, we were free to go back outside and play. Generally we’d arrange with our friends to play “hide and seek” and get ready to chase the fireflies at dusk; or play flashlight tag.

The world started to turn pinky- gold by 6:30/7pm. Twilight magic time. It lasted quite awhile in those long ago summers. The jar flies stopped buzzing, and as soon as the sun dropped behind the hill it cooled off by at least 10 degrees. You could hear the sound of kids playing throughout the neighborhood. The sound coming to you as if down a tunnel – drowsily. Like listening to a conversation as you’re falling asleep. Folks would come out to sit on their front porches in their rockers, comfy chairs or porch swings . Calling hello across the street to the neighbors, enjoying the sunset and the cool evening breeze. No one locked their doors, ever. No need. Everybody knew everybody, and you can bet your sweet bippy if you did something wrong one of the neighbors would tell your parents. On the other hand – you could also go to your neighbors if you needed something and your parents weren’t home. True community living.

I hope you enjoyed this trip down the backroads of my mind. In the “Wayback Machine” – 42 summers ago. It was fun – let’s do it again, soon!

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Spotify

Mes Amis –

Well now I guess I can embed music to add to the “joie de vivre” and “je ne c’est quoi” of le blog!   Sweet!   What songs are running around in my brain right now?….. Hmmmm

Here’s a Blast from the Past:

Europe – The Final Countdown

The Dominoes – Sixty Minute Man

Dropkick Murphys – Tessie

Glad I Changed my Mind: Story of an Epic Date Night

I blogged recently about going to spend some much needed quality time with my hubby. I promised I’d write about my date night, so here goes. We could not have had a nicer time, and I needed neither Tylenol or earplugs. He picked me up at work Thursday the 16th – we headed straight for CT and the casino. It started snowing just before we left and turned into a cold rain before we hit the state line. Normally it’s a two hour drive to Mohegan but we hit major traffic just outside of Hartford

20120217-203146.jpgso it took us almost 3 hours to get there. But that was OK. Mohegan Sun is one flippin big place. And you could pretty much live your life there. There’s shops, restaurants, bars, the concert arena and the smaller musical venue The Wolf Den, the spa and hotel and of course the casinos. they have casinos dedicated to the Elements. I found myself fascinated as usual by the ceilings and the lighting.

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20120217-204116.jpg We got there about 6pm and strolled around for a bit to get our bearings. The place really is huge. The main entrance is in the wind casino and you can see the famous waterfall there. Unfortunately all the pictures I took of it were blurry, so I won’t be posting any. We decided to check the restaurants on the second level after a nice couple offered to take a picture of us in honor of our first visit there. That’s the waterfall directly behind us.

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They also recommended Bobby Flay‘s Bar Americain for dinner. Seating was fast, and courteous. The waiters were quickly attentive.

20120217-204808.jpg  sorry that some of these shots are a bit blown out, guys.

20120217-204827.jpgthe restaurant was elegant, the food and service-spectacular. I decided to try some new things and ordered a Bronx Cocktail, along with some wicked awesome shrimp and cheesy grits with bacon as the appetizer. I could survive on this dish the rest of my life and be happy. Hubby liked it too. We ordered filet (me)and roast lamb chops (him) with potatoes and goat cheese. Seriously the tenderest steak I’ve ever had. My “date” loved the lamb. I’ve never had goat cheese before, but it gave the smashed taters an interesting flavor. Too bad I couldn’t clean my plate or take a doggie bag. By this time it was about 7 and an hour to show time. My wonderful love (I call him “the Viking” sometimes) and I decided to walk around some more. I took some more pictures

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20120217-212526.jpg Like I said I have a thing about lighting. The tall sculpture, located across from the waterfall is LED lit and changed colors every few seconds. I remembered that my niece works at Sephora and we decided to stop in and see if she was working. So glad we did, because she was-and we haven’t seen her in awhile. She’s the oldest/first of the children that our circle of friends started having when we were in our twenties. She’s an absolutely lovely, vibrant young lady. And quite surprised and happy to see us.

20120217-213629.jpg She quickly mentioned we must be here for the show and then added that we had actually just missed Aaron Lewis and his family by a minute or two. She’d just spent over a half hour chatting with them. Apparently lots of celebrities go there and she’s been able to chat up quite a few of them. We visited for a few more minutes-catching up on what our families were up to and then we headed for the arena.

20120217-214553.jpg. We headed for the nosebleed section, settled into our seats and began acquainting ourselves with our neighbors. Come to find out they literally were neighbors, living one town over from us. Aaron Lewis is a local success story in our neck of the woods. The lead singer of Staind, he’s also responsible for keeping the Worthington Elementary School open when the school district closed it. So lots of folks from Western MA  drove down to see him. We exchanged cameras and took the obligatory shots for each other. And of course the arena, and stage.

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20120218-115547.jpg I don’t have any decent pictures or video from the show because Mr Short, Bald, Security Video Nazi had a serious ‘tude- although you could see everyone in the floor seats with phone cameras on……. -_-. That said, I really enjoyed Aaron Lewis’ performance and the music. He has a deep powerful voice very similar to Eddie Vedder’s- which lended itself quite well to the alternative/country sound. He had his friend “Ben” accompanying him on slide guitar etc and he was quite good. You could tell he was having a great time on stage. He did snippets of Taylor Swift’s “Mean”, Pearl Jam’s “Black” , “Jessie’s Girl”, “American Pie”, and the entire cover of “Rooster” from Alice in Chains.

The funniest part was when some idiots yelled to hear “Free Bird.” Now any serious musician will tell you that it’s beyond annoying to hear this just because you’re doing an “unplugged” set. (or anytime, no offense to Skynyrd) But he took it well, wasn’t surprised. He then proceeded to sing a verse of it as if he were Bob Dylan – Very funny!!!! But it shut up the drunks for awhile. Mr Lewis sang some new stuff from his upcoming album, and did older songs too. An additional highlight was when an audience member brought his girlfriend down to the front of the stage and proposed on one knee. The entire arena went “Awweee!” and gave them a big round of applause. He played for almost two hours with one encore. The only issue we began having was the people behind us had obviously been imbibing waayyy too much, and they got obnoxious. This one guy- we were calling him Jesus because he had the hair/beard thing going on- was making frequent trips either to the head or the beer station. One time instead of stepping down the stairs like a normal person he decided to try going over the seats next to me- & face planted directly into the back of seats below me. God protects drunks and fools I guess because the guy didn’t get hurt at all. Go figure. After the show we wandered back towards the car through the Casinos. We were both tired, so we decided not to try our luck. I like how linear the slots look; so I did snap a shot before we left.

20120218-122020.jpgand then we were on our way home in the rain and fog. I was very thankful for the heated seats and dozed off a few times, I’m sure. Both of us took Friday off and slept in, so that was a nice treat too. We’re planning on going back down to Mohegan when we can. There’s so much to do there. I’m glad I changed my mind and went on an epic date night with my favorite guy.

I Didn’t Want to Go…

My husband recently won tickets to see an Aaron Lewis acoustic set at Mohegan Sun (tomorrow night actually). He’s been bugging and bugging me to go with him.  but I really didn’t want to go.  1. I have no idea who Aaron Lewis is  2.  husband’s taste in music differs from mine considerably 3. The last time I went with him to a concert was a Motley Crue Fest and they totally tanked.  (Godsmack was excellent though- too bad they weren’t headlining) 3. my husband’s taste in music differs from mine considerably. It bears repeating because I could end up spending the evening with a horrid headache and wearing earplugs (like I did at Crue Fest).

I’m a headbanger from way back,  I was punk when it wasn’t cool, slam dancing with the best of them at Hangar One  in Amherst (down the street from ZooMass). I even played pinball with Joey Ramone. (story for another day, my friends) I’ve attended shows for the hardcore music scene  -I just stay away from the mosh pits these days and I won’t two-step or dub step or whatever other steps they’re doing out there, jsyk. My place at these events currently  is in the way, way  back – preferably at or behind the merch table.   Where I won’t get hurt.  I love rock and roll -put another dime in that jukebox baby!  I’ve got incredibly talented young musicians in and out of my house all the time. But and this is a big one – there’s gotta be some spark and talent there; some passion the performer shows he has for his craft, in order for me to have a good time at these events. This was sadly, sorely lacking the last time I went to a concert with my husband (the headliners, anyway).  So, I’ve a bad taste in my mouth about this to start – and again, I’m completely unfamiliar with Mr Lewis’ music.

However, my husband has also been quite vocal lately that we have not been spending enough time together, and the daily grind is wearing us both down. So here are the reasons I’ll be going:  1.  after 27 years of marriage my husband still wants to take me out on a date 2. I need to get away from the aforementioned daily grind, change things up a little. Spring is coming, yanno?  3. Its a freebie (except for the gas to get there – and NO I will not be gambling – thank you very much) 4.  Its an acoustic set.  5. He’s right that we haven’t had much quality time together lately.  Soo, I requested and got Friday off work as it’ll be a late night return (its like 2 1/2 hrs to Mohegan from the house). I need to use up my vay-kay time too.  My mom’s picking up the girls  so we’re leaving straight from work for dinner and the concert.  I’ll be posting how it goes – with pictures.  I’m taking my earplugs and some Tylenol though – just in case…..

Rock On

My Life According to The Beatles

Using their song titles, here are my answers to the following questions-just because I know you’re all dying to know..

Am I a female or a male: Ain’t She Sweet

Describe myself: Twist and Shout

How do I feel: Getting Better

Describe where I currently live: Norwegian Wood

If I could go anywhere, where would I go: Across the Universe

My favorite form of transportation: Yellow Submarine

My best friend is: Eleanor Rigby

Me and my best friend are: Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

What’s the weather like: I’ll Follow the Sun

Favorite time of day: A Hard Day’s Night

If my life was a TV show, it would be called: The Long and Winding Road

What is life to me: Magical Mystery Tour

My relationship: Oh Darling!

My fear: Maxwell’s Silver Hammer

What is the best advice I have to give: I Should Have Known Better

How I would like to die: No Reply

My soul’s condition: Oh bla di, Oh bla da

My Motto: Happiness is a Warm Gun

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