Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.
Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net
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» Thursday, July 31, 2003
Onesome: Three- Lucky happenings are supposed to come in threes... What else comes in triplets and trios in your experience?
Well, they always say deaths come in threes; there's currently a morbid thread on rec.arts.tv about whether Bob Hope was the beginning or end of a cycle...
Twosome: Dog- Dogs and cats...Got a preference?...and how about pedigree vs pound puppies/kittens? What do you think?
I have to confess I like dogs slighty more than cats, but if I lived in a small apartment by myself I would probably have a cat before I had a dog. However, the decision's out of my hands and into my allergy's: I'm much more allergic to cats than to dogs and could not have one. There are several dog breeds I think are attractive, especially collies, although I would not like to go through the work of keeping the latter's coat looking nice and a scruffy collie is a truly sad sight, so I will never have one. However, "pound puppies" and kitties are just as good as purebreds. Rudd Weatherwax, the trainer of Lassie, once said "The best dog in the world is the one you own yourself," and it matters not where it came from.
I do tend to favor prick-ear dogs over floppy eared ones, however.
Threesome: Night- Hey, do you ever do a Sports Night and head out to watch a local team/event? What draws you out? Is it baseball, football, hockey, racing, lacrosse?
Sports? I hate team sports. It all seems so useless. We got free tickets to a Braves game once: seats up in the nosebleed section of the old Fulton County Stadium. I think we were six rows from the very top. The field looked like a postage stamp. I couldn't even tell the Braves from the other team. I'm sooooo glad I brought a book! Baseball is best on the radio, football only interesting on Thanksgiving and New Year's for nostalgia's sake (it reminds me of my dad and my uncles). If I had to watch a team sport it would probably be hockey.
The only sports we make an effort to go out to see are dog agility contests and obedience shows at the nearby park. I've gone to horse races and to the dog track; that's not too bad to watch, but greyhound racing has put me off ever since I read how the dogs are treated.
» Wednesday, July 30, 2003
WOOOHOOO! The Homecoming - A Christmas Story is coming out on DVD on September 23!!!!!!!!!!
(Now if someone would only get The House Without a Christmas Tree...)
(Since This'n'That Tuesday seems to be on hiatus due to a case of Real Life...just some random literary bits)
A link to "The Road to Dictionopolis," an interview with Norton Juster about one of my favorite books in the world, The Phantom Tollbooth.
Just finished Richard Lederer's Bride of Anguished English, which I didn't know existed, another collection of English flubs and fluffs. As always there is a section on "Mondegreens," which are words/phrases which people have misheard (there's an entire collection of Mondegreens on the Web just to do with misheard song lyrics). Mondegreens are so called because of a woman who listened to an old ballad and misheard the line "and laid him on the Green" as "and Lady Mondegreen." Probably the most famous Mondegreen is that about the Sunday School child whose favorite hymn is about the ocularly-challenged ursine, "Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear" ("Gladly the Cross I'd Bear"), followed by the astute New York child who in saying the Lord's Prayer pleads for transit riders "Lead us not into Penn Station."
I've never seen my own Mondegreen anywhere: as a child I was always puzzled by the name for the gentleman or lady who signed a legal document and then put a seal on it. Why on earth did this function make the person a "Noted Republic"? The first time I actually looked up at the official-looking sign over DiLorenzo's Drug Store and saw the words "Notary Public" actually spelt out, I'm sure people could see the light bulb go on over my head. :-)
Fever 1793: Young adult book about the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia in the summer of 1793. Wow. Very realistic look at the sufferings of the victims and the fate of the city. Many of these "plucky young historical heroine" books read like a modern kid thrust into the past; Fever's Mattie seems more realistic than most.
Emergency Animal Rescue Stories: If you read Terri Crisp's Out of Harm's Way, about volunteers who help animals during disasters, this is a sequel. Crisp writes this one herself, rather than having a collaborator, and the writing isn't as good, but the stories are fascinating and in some cases will break your heart (the fate of the birds in the apartment building is particularly sad). Noticed some complaints over at Amazon.com about Crisp talking so much about the hardships of the volunteers: I think this might have been on purpose, as I'm sure Crisp's first book inspired many people to volunteer without first thinking of the types of conditions they'd have to endure. This time around she's making certain people know what a difficult and many times thankless job it is.
Ciao, America: Correspondent Beppe Severgnini and his wife spend a year in America, specifically in Georgetown. Amusing look by an Italian at the many absurdities of American life, plus his fondness for many of our luxuries.
» Monday, July 28, 2003
Childhood is made up of voices.
There are the obvious ones: parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, close neighbors, best friends, schoolmates and teachers.
Then there are the ones that become beloved from a lifetime of listening to the ever-present media. In my own time there was Salty Brine, the RI media personality everyone knew (especially when he announced the "no school" reports in the morning); the late Jack Comley, irritating and endearing talk show host–and the greater voices, those of national fame: Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, Murrow.
Some of these great voices belonged to classic entertainers. You knew just where you stood when these guys came on; you were in for a good time–Jack Benny with his cheap routine, George Burns listening with one eyebrow cocked while Gracie Allen nattered on about her brother, Bing Crosby and Perry Como singing mellow and comforting music.
And then there was Bob Hope. He did it all, from vaudeville to radio to movies to television to live performances. While he could essay dramatic roles, I, like most people, remembered him as the vocal wiseguy, with a ready quip for everyone from a general to a recalcitrant camel to the President of the United States. (Oh, most of his best routines were written for him, but his delivery was part of the magic and the laughter. No one could wag his eyebrows suggestively or grin as wickedly as Hope, and oh, that wounded face when someone one-upped him–or he lost that Oscar yet one more time!) What a dream come true it would have been to think of ripostes as quickly as Hope, to toss them as carelessly and effortlessly as the blowing clocks of the dandelion blossom!
If the voice and the antics of Bob Hope were a beloved constant of a child, they were even more welcome to a needier group of people. For decades Bob Hope and his volunteer "troop" went to outlandish, ungodly, and even dangerous places to entertain service men and women stationed all over the world. He brought a bit of light and laughter to homesick GIs and clerical workers and top brass with crawling insects below and bombs booming overhead, in snow and sleet and monsoon rainstorms to guys who had camped out in the muck for hours just to see him. For a little while they were away from screaming deserts and damp permafrost and steaming jungles; Bob Hope took them Home.
To Bob who sold Pepsodent and wangled with Colonna,
who tap danced with James Cagney
and who crossed the sands with Bing,
who sang "Silver Bells" to millions,
who ribbed Presidents of the United States and just plain joes...
thanks, Bob, for the memories...
» Saturday, July 26, 2003
Light at the End of the Summer Tunnel
Michael's craft store has autumn things out: flowers, plaques, even Halloween junk! Went there armed with three coupons, also bought some already discounted items.
Now have four new fall decorations, three which are in the living room which is fall themed: a little basket (basket less than 2" square) filled with fall leaves, squash, and other autumn-type truck, a scarecrow "ornament" (only way I can describe it; it has a hemp string to hang it up, which I have done on the fireplace to balance out the English robin ornament on the opposite side, which is vaguely Christmas themed but I love English robins and couldn't bear to put it away), and three "picks" [small floral bunches], two of autumn leaves and fruits, one of sunflowers, in a little brass container.
The fourth ornament is a plaque for the den when the time comes (57 days!) with a yellow-gold cornstalk on ivory white saying "Harvest Riches."
Previously I had made two autumn-themed frames for the living room area: one washed in orange with autumn leaf appliques on it, the other yellow washed with three-dimensional autumn symbols on it: corn, acorns, wreath of leaves, etc. Not sure if I will fill them with autumn postcards/photos or get a personal photo done. I really would like someone to take a good picture of the four of us. Bandit isn't getting any younger... :-(
» Friday, July 25, 2003
1. If your life were a movie, what would the title be?
Yet Another Day?
2. What songs would be on the soundtrack?
George Winston, some Rupert Holmes, mostly Big Band.
3. Would it be a live-action film or animated? Why?
Maybe like My World and Welcome to It, with animated interludes for all my fantasies.
4. Casting: who would play you, members of your family, friends, etc?
These days I guess Camryn Manheim would have to play me. [wry grin] Can't think who would play James. Maybe Tom Arnold? There's a cute dog on one of the commercials who could play Willow, but where they'd find a budgie cute enough to play Bandit would be the problem. :-)
I don't know any actors and actresses these days who would have enough character to play our friends.
Rupert would have to be played by himself. No one else could be quite as good.
5. Describe the movie preview/trailer.
:-) It would probably be soporific.
» Thursday, July 24, 2003
I was astonished and dismayed to gather from various commercials during NBC Nightly News that 100 percent of NBC's prime time programming on Monday night was given over to "reality TV." Makes me homesick for the Western craze way back when; at least most of those shows were literate, if repetitive.
Of course there's a headline on CNN.com today that states: "Become Famous, No Talent Necessary." Certainly describes most of the sitcom stars these days...
Onesome: Chicken- Chicken, beef or pork? What's in the barbeque or on the grill this summer? ...or is it just too hot and a salad is all you're up to putting together?
On a grill I prefer steak. We don't have a outdoor grill, just a George Foreman. It makes tasty food.
Twosome: Pot- Okay, really, did you inhale? I mean, what happened to all the side dishes that were served with the meat? ...and what side dish is essential to make your meal complete?
Yukon Gold potatoes or Rice-a-Roni.
Threesome: Pie- Hey, are you a pie or cake kind of person? ...or is it ice cream that 'floats' your dessert boat?
Chocolate cake. (Real chocolate cake, not the German kind with the nasty coconut on top...)
Back to work. Wondering if it was a good idea. My head doesn't quite feel as if it belongs to the rest of me.
» Tuesday, July 22, 2003
1) DVD or VHS?
DVD. Well, unless I can't find it on DVD and really want it. I bought a copy of The War Between Men and Women on vacation.
2) Best Literary/Movie Villan: Voldemort (Harry Potter) or Sauron (LoTR)?
I like Potter better than LotR, but I feel Sauron is the better villain.
3) Meat: rare or well-done?
Rare. Give me nice reddish-pink cow. Mmmmm...
4) High Speed Internet-Cable or DSL?
DSL. I don't want to ever have to deal with another cable company, thanks.
5) Women: 1-piece bathing suit or Bikini?
One-piece. (To which hubby hisses "Killjoy!")
6) To be fair--Men: Boxers or briefs?
Hubby says briefs. They do...uh...outline better, IMHO. :-)
7) Beer or Liquor/Wine?
8) Coke or Mountain Dew?
Barf to both. Carbonation...ugh. Milk rules!
9) In honor of my 10/18/03 nuptials: Morning or Afternoon/Night Wedding?
Shrug. Don't really care!
10) Carpet or Hardwood Floors
Hardwood floors. Never, ever, ever, ever if I had the monetary choice, carpet. Nasty, dirty things.
11) American cars or foreign?
Whatever runs better.
12) Cutest TV Twin: Mary-Kate or Ashley Olsen?
How can one be cuter? They're identical, aren't they?
13) Coffee: Caffeinated or Decaf?
Neither. Caf gives me heart palpitations. Decaf gives me indigestion.
14) Thought-Provoking Question of the Week: Computers: Do they make life better or worse? Why?
Better, if you don't allow them to rule your life.
Mom got to go home a few hours ago. She'll have a nurse go by the house every day until she is completely well.
I wish I could figure out what we caught and where we caught it, although I suppose it makes little difference now. Whatever it is, it sent her to the hospital, has had me laid out for over a week, and now James has it; because of the diabetes, he got the antibiotics earlier, thankfully!
I still feel wrung out, the cough wakes me up at night, and my sinuses are still stuffed. And that's feeling better than last week. I look back on my blog posts and realize that, except for any posts I made, I don't remember much about last week; it's a blur lost in coughing. I was even feeling too bad to get much reading done. I remember watching some movies last Thursday. Whee.
» Monday, July 21, 2003
2:34 p.m.: Sigh. You can't blame the hospital, but I wish someone would make a notation about my mom's problem with temperatures.
Most of us get temps, especially as kids. It's the body's way of fighting off infections. When the temp gets too high, it's dangerous. Otherwise you keep it under control. I've had fevers up to 104°F and, although I've felt spacy (that "looking down the wrong end of a telescope" effect), I'm usually coherent.
Mom has never gotten fevers, which I mentioned in a previous post. She's gone through flu and all types of colds--possibly even her surgeries, but I don't know about that--without ever once getting a temp, until she got into her eighties. So when she does have a fever, even the tiniest one, it affects her; even at 100° she will become "spacy" and forgetful.
Yesterday the doctor apparently asked her if she wanted a nurse to come every day when they sent her home; today my cousin asked her why she said no. She said she doesn't even remember the doctor asking that question. She did have a fever yesterday morning which might have affected that answer; she's also eighty-six years old and slightly hard of hearing--she might have misunderstood the question.
So I wish someone would note both things on her chart and make sure when they asked her things she (a) heard and (b) understood!
» Sunday, July 20, 2003
9 p.m.: Mom's temp is down, but she's still coughing and panting whenever she gets back into bed (I seem to perpetually catch her on the way to the rest room).
As for me, this isn't a cold, it's a siege. The doctor said I should start feeling a bit better in 24 hours. Last night I slept eight hours, but fitfully. I was up for 90 minutes, then went back to sleep again for 2 1/2 hours. We went down to see friends for about two hours. The sum total of my action: I walked a few feet to their back door and thus to a chair, sat for two hours, reversed direction. I'm now totally exhausted, my temp is up again after being less than normal all day), my gland is sore again, and the sore throat is back.
I supposed I can take comfort from the fact that I'm no longer contagious, but that's about it...
10:10 a.m.: Mom sounding better again. She said they were pleased with her progress. She actually had enough energy to chatter about her breakfast.
James is now sick, or at least has the sore throat and stuffy nose. Two responsible adults and neither of us realized he could catch my cold from using the same bathroom glass. Duh. We ought to be the poster children for a Dixie Cups commercial.
I didn't get enough sleep because I kept waking up choking on the post-nasal drip. Saddam Hussein should feel as bad as I do. I wonder if there's a way to export it to Iraq...
» Saturday, July 19, 2003
11:17 p.m.: Mom sounded enough better this afternoon that I was encouraged; I'm sure she's a little more ragged tonight--things always get worse after 6 p.m.
The doctor gave me erythromycin, diagnosed me with bronchitis with incipient strep throat--indeed my left lymph gland is swollen enough to make that judgment all on its own. I was feeling tolerably okay this afternoon except for my horrendous sore throat; the cough has set in again and the pain in my throat sometimes is too constrictive. The infection seems to be migrating up to my sinus; the erythromycin is probably just in time.
10:49 a.m.: While I was talking to Mom last night on the phone I could hear her wheezing; all she had done was gone to the restroom. I had her call the nurse and when she came in I had to hang up. This morning she sounds breathless and oh-so-tired. They had put her on oxygen but at the time I'd called her she had been off it to use the restroom. So I got off posthaste so she could call the nurse to fix her up again.
I'm going to go off to the doctor in a bit myself. I was feeling enough better yesterday to go out for about an hour and the situation deteriorated rapidly. My throat felt as if it were almost swollen shut last night. I don't care if I don't have a fever or am not expelling crud; enough is enough.
» Friday, July 18, 2003
5:30 p.m.: Mom has pneumonia and a urinary tract infection. They'd already begun the antibiotics before they diagnosed the former. I spoke to her this afternoon and she sounded as if she felt better. I was thinking the pneumonia may have caused the extra pain in her shoulder blade.
11:30 a.m.: Mom's still at the hospital. I called her about 9:50. They still haven't found out what's wrong. She is talking a lot about how her shoulder blade hurts. This is a chronic problem all the time but seems to have worsened in the last few days. She had a fever (101°F) last night. With most people this is just a fever and you take care of it with aspirins and cool spongings. Mom never got fevers, with all the colds she had. They used to last forever because of that. So now even when she gets a low fever she has a tendency to get light-headed or even incoherent; it's like 104°-105°F would be to anyone else.
» Thursday, July 17, 2003
Found out this evening my mom is in the hospital. She's had a fever for several days and is wheezing when she breathes. She was already planning to call the doctor when my cousin came to her house and found her having slipped and fallen on the floor. When I talked to her a few hours ago she said she had felt woozy.
» Tuesday, July 15, 2003
10:30 p.m. I still feel terrible. Trouble is, there's no meds for it. My temps aren't over 100, I'm not coughing up yellow or green ick, I don't have a rash or anything weird. I just have a stinky cold.
Another bad night. Bathroom trips once an hour and fit of coughing around dawn. Like all my colds, this one seems to be going backwards: it started in my chest and is now migrating upwards to my sinuses.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch:
1. Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck?
Daffy Duck. My favorite WB cartoon is "Duck Amuck." Besides, I'm a Michael Garibaldi fan...LOL.
2. Tom or Jerry?
3. Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck?
Mickey. Donald is annoying.
4. Rocky & Bullwinkle or Boris & Natasha?
Rocky and Bullwinkle, of course!
5. Road Runner or Wile E. Coyote?
Road Runner, one of Bandit's heroes!
6. Sylvester or Tweety?
Tweety. Not Bandit's hero. "Canaries are dumb!"
7. Popeye or Bluto?
Ugh. Never Bluto.
8. South Park or The Simpsons?
9. Jetsons or Flintstones?
Flintstones. Sentimental favorite.
10. And finally, the eternal question asked by all good Scooby-Doo fans: Velma or Daphne?
Velma. I'd rather be smart than pretty.
» Monday, July 14, 2003
Frankly, Captain, I feel like hell. I had nine hours sleep, have swilled Robitussin and aspirin, and have been laying down. I'm still as tired as if I ran a marathon.
Catching up ain't hard to do:
This-or-That Tuesday, July 8, 2003
1. Strawberries or blueberries?
Given the choice, strawberries. Really want: cherries.
2. "Legally Blonde 2" or "Terminator 3"?
Given the choice, Legally Blonde 2. Really want: Tuesday to come for Season 4 of M*A*S*H on DVD.
3. Hamburgers or hot dogs?
Given the choice, hot dogs. Really want: T-bone steak.
4. Boating or hiking?
Given the choice, hiking. I can't swim. Really want: Walking through museums.
5. Suntan lotion or sunblock?
Must have sunblock. I'm taking medication that makes me sunburn. Come to think of it, I've needed sunblock since I had the radioactive iodine treatments.
6. "Big Brother" or "The Amazing Race"?
Given the choice, Amazing Race. Really want: More episodes of the PBS show about the Canadians living for 1 year as Western pioneers (started last night on GPTV).
7. Beach Boys or Jimmy Buffett?
Given the choice, Beach Boys. Really want: Rupert Holmes.
8. Grow your own produce or buy from supermarket/greengrocer/farm stand?
Purchase. I hate crawlies.
9. Drive with car windows/top down, or with air-conditioning on?
Windows down as long as I can tolerate the heat; I like the wind blowing in my face. When it gets stifling, crank up that A/C.
10. Go away for vacation, or stay at home?
Definitely go away! We just got back and wish we were still gone!
Thursday Threesome, July 10, 2003
Onesome- Honey: Hey there! Not that you personally need any sweetening, but just in case: what goes in your summer drinks to sweeten things up? Honey? Sugar? Artificial sweetener? ...or are your taking things straight up this time 'round?
Sugar if it needs sweetening. But milk is naturally sweetened, and that's what I drink most of.
Twosome- Mustard: Okay, what condiment has to come to the table for that burger or hotdog? Ketchup? Mustard? Salt? Pepper? Just what is it you 'relish'?
» Sunday, July 13, 2003
The Tuesday or Wednesday before we left on vacation we had what I call "Georgia Monsoon Season," a full day of driving rain, sometimes with the wind blowing it horizontally. I got sopping wet going out for lunch and then came inside wet.
I spent Thursday, which I had off, fighting the prefacing effects of a cold which I felt coming on: took aspirin, drank water, rubbed Vicks on my chest. By sheer strength of will--damned if I'm going to get sick on my first vacation away in two years!--I fought whatever I was coming down with off all last week, although on Friday and yesterday I woke up with a decided sore throat that vanished after breakfast and in the fresh air.
I managed to hold it off until we got to the airport and were waiting for our flight. By the time I got home I was coughing and my right sinus was stuffed. I woke up in the middle of the night coughing and gasping for air. This morning I felt like that proverbial truck had made treads on my lungs.
The one bright spot is having the fids home. Bandit has 'nuggled on my shoulder most of the afternoon and Willow is sticking like glue to James' leg, determined not to let us out of sight again. I keep saying I'm going to nap but once lying down am too miserable to stay there.
Well, we've made it home. The plane flight was a tad bumpy, given that we were flying through thunderstorms.
We had breakfast at a local place called Harriet's this morning. They make one heck of a "break fast." James got some pancakes the size of dinner plates. Later we went out for Del's frozen lemonade for the last time. We drove my mom's car. Her mechanic keeps telling her there's nothing wrong with it. Hm. There's nothing wrong with a car that stalls out several times after you start it, or if you put it in drive, or if you stop for traffic or at a stoplight. Nothing at all. Snort.
James was hinky about going through security since they were issuing dire warnings of two hour wait times and we ended up at the airport an hour and a half over two hours early. I've never dropped off a rental car so fast. The guy took our stuff out of the trunk, said, "Was the car okay? Did you enjoy our service?" and gave me the receipt! Plus the van to the airport was right there and they waited for us.
After all that security didn't take long at all. It was that self-baggage check that was a pain in the butt. The line kept stopping because people had forgotten to take stuff out of their suitcases before sending them on. They scan your bags and then and only then you can go to your gate.
So we spent some time looking through the various gift shops. I was amused to see bottles of coffee syrup there for sale!
We got in at nine. We had the last baggage carousel and our parking lot transportation was down at the end of a row. We certainly had exercise!!! Stopped at the grocery on the way home and put everything away right away so we wouldn't have to bother with it tomorrow.
Sniff. And so it's over. If only a workday went so quickly as a vacation day!
» Friday, July 11, 2003
The entire state of Connecticut must be under construction.
Today was our excursion to Countdown Hobbies in Bethel, CT, which we had originally planned to coincide with the New York trip, then realized we didn't have enough time even if we started our earliest. So we drove out to Bethel via "Suicide Six" and Interstate 84 and sure enough, there was construction out that way as well. Luckily it was raining part of the way so much of the construction was abated or even abandoned.
We didn't leave early so arrived at Bethel around lunchtime. Maybe behind the scenes it's a hotbed of sedition, but Bethel is the perfect small New England town, little shops and restaurants around a triangular town green centered with a War Memorial featuring a WWI doughboy. We ate lunch at O'Neil's Restaurant, which is across from the green at P.T. Barnum Square Plaza (Bethel is Barnum's birthplace), the place we call "the restaurant where everyone knows your name." The last time we were there, we arrived at breakfast, when all the regular town customers came in to pick up food. They were greeted by their first name and the question, "The usual?" Like something out of Bedford Falls. You were almost expecting Jimmy Stewart to walk in the door.
Instead of taking the interstate back to our next destination, we cut through the Connecticut countryside through routes 67 and 10 to get to the Shoreline Trolley Museum in East Haven. Connecticut actually has two trolley museums, so we still have another to look forward to. :-) This one is pocket-sized, with an exhibition of trolley artifacts, a slideshow and a 1934 film about trolleys, and a 3 1/2 mile trolley ride through a wetlands area. The trolley line has been there for 103 years and has operated in one form or the other during that entire time.
After the trolley ride you are given a tour of five of the twelve trolley barns and see restored trolleys starting from horsecars converted into trolleys to more modern units, plus trolleys undergoing restoration. There were fascinating photos of the last open-sided cars in use in the Connecticut area: they were in service one weekend a year up until 1947, to take fans to and from the Harvard-Yale football game! One photo shows the car so packed with people that the sturdy trolley is listed to one side and another is swaybacked from the crowd.
Several of the trolleys are sponsored by families or groups who have sole charge in restoring them. We saw one small trolley that was restored by one family over the space of 30 years.
Before we left we took yet another trolley ride. We saw egrets (cranes?) in the wetlands area and also an osprey's nest. What a great place to be a bird! Even the sparrows looked happy.
We managed to circumvent the last construction traffic jam by running down US-1 for a few miles, so arrived home a little less frazzled than last night.
» Thursday, July 10, 2003
Sorry for the missing post yesterday; I was catching up on my personal journal and didn't have time to write both reports. Yesterday was actually a bit of a "rest day," as we knew today would be a long day. We mostly dropped in on hobby shops and one bookstore that I've been going to for years, Readmore on Route 44 in Taunton, MA.
(James told me he doesn't know what I see in Readmore. It certainly isn't much to look at; appears to have been set up in an old car repair center from the outside. Inside it's full of an amalgamation of various different types of bookracks, wooden and metal, an old linoleum floor, mismatched lighting, etc. Well, at the time I found the place, every single bookstore in downtown Providence had closed and the only existing one in the area was the Waldenbooks at Warwick Mall. So it was neat to find a bookstore that stocked both old and used books. Also, they always have a very eclectic collection: travel and cook books I've never seen anywhere else, at one time a really neat collection of old children's books. In addition, their stock moves so variably that often you can find books that are otherwise out of print anywhere else.
However, yesterday morning we did have a great time exploring a Russian submarine that is berthed in Providence Harbor. This is Juliette 484, which was featured in the recent Harrison Ford movie, K-19. It is part of what is a proposed addition to the Quonset Point Air Museum along with the aircraft carrier Saratoga, which is presently in Middletown, RI, just north of Newport--once the politicians figure out who's going to graft what. Meanwhile Juliette sits off Collier Point and volunteers give tours. (We had a very knowledgable 16-year-old boy who is planning to join the Navy and go into the submarine service when he graduates high school.)
Before you go into the sub you have to prove you can go through a circular opening 3-4 feet in diameter, because during the tour you go through seven hatches of the same size. Well, we managed it, despite that around every small hatch there were raised platforms, or low handles, or other obstructions! The crew of 48 lived cheek-by-jowl in the midst of wheels, levers, pipes, valves, torpedoes, bulkheads, dials, etc.; it was like being on duty in Fibber McGee's closet. Fascinating to look at, but not much to consider living in! Oddly, after the Russians retired the sub, it had been taken to Finland and used briefly as a restaurant (the restaurant was on the very lowest level, which visitors now aren't allowed in due to the steep climbs!), and then was auctioned off on e-Bay!
As for today, well, today was half the entire reason for us daring the hot temperatures to take a vacation in July (beside the fact we hadn't had a vacation for two years and were going stir-crazy). We wanted to see the play Say Goodnight, Gracie, which was playing at the Helen Hayes Theatre in New York City, before it went on tour (since at that point we weren't certain if the tour would hit Atlanta). Gracie was written by our friend Rupert Holmes, and given the invitation to come see the play, we jumped in with both feet.
We left home at 8 a.m. this morning, expecting a lot shorter ride than we got. We were nonstop except for a stop at Friendly's in Mystic, CT, for breakfast, but the trip seemed interminable. Safely routed by Rupert's indispensible "right hand" Teressa Esposito past the hysteria of I-95 and down the east bank of the Hudson River, we made it to the parking lot by one o'clock, just in time to get James a nosh before going back to the theatre.
Say Goodnight Gracie is the story of the career and life story of George Burns and Gracie Allen, a one-man show performed by Frank Gorshin. I am, admittedly, a prejudiced reviewer. However, my opinion this time meshed with many other less prejudiced reviewers: this is a wonderful, wonderful show--funny, charming, and in the end, moving; as the curtain fell I was crying, not just because of the conclusion, but because it was over. Talk about the world's quickest 90 minutes!
After the performance we had a fabulous dinner at a place called Emmett's with Rupert and Teressa, all too short because they were heading to a meeting. There are always moments I would like to freeze in amber and this was one of them.
We had a walk around the Times Square area and took some photos, got James a real Nathan's hot dog and some of the fries, which were as good as Rupert described, to take home, and then headed home. We had a dickens of a time just getting from 8th Avenue to the Henry Hudson Parkway, a total of four blocks, because the street was jammed with traffic. Then we ran into roadwork at least three times in Connecticut, so the drive was a numbing 4 hours home.
And it was worth every minute of it. We listened to old Burns and Allen radio shows both ways.
» Tuesday, July 08, 2003
It was another warm day, up in the low 90s, so we thought about spending the day near the water.
No, we didn't go to the beach. We're not beach people.
We went up to Quincy, Massachusetts, up to the former Quincy Shipyard, which produced warships during both the first and second World Wars. The cruiser U.S.S. Salem is berthed there. We visited Salem back in November of 1995. It was considerably cooler then. James and I wandered around the ship--they did not have a veteran doing the tours like last time--and it was pretty warm down in the ship's interior (figures--lots of steel plus lots of sun equals hot, hot, hot) while my mom waited in the Captain's wardroom. Part of the ship is fixed as it was when Salem was on active duty, part is an exhibit of ships' memorabilia and there is also an area with ships' models. We also climbed up to the bridge. Sparrows now nest in the the radar and other places on the ships' masts and we saw a baby bird being fed by its mama.
Quincy (in Massachuese this is pronounced "Quinzy") is also the hometown of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, in fact of four generations of the Adams family, so we did the Adams family tour. You first see John Adams' birthplace, and, next door, is John and Abigail Adams' first home. These are the original homes, but the furniture in the interiors are all replicas. The second part of the tour is "Peacedale," John and Abigail Adams' second home, which was handed down to John Quincy Adams, then to his son Charles Francis Adams (the family historian), and finally to Charles' son Brooks Adams, who left the house to the city of Quincy in 1927. (The National Park Service later took over the home.) It's a fascinating place. Everything in the house is authentic. The wallpaper in one room is from 1840. There are pieces of furniture that came from John Quincy's tenure at the Hague in Holland. Furniture that had probably been in the white house. Four generations of lighting, from candles to lamps to gas lamps to electric light.
Each room in the house comes with a fascinating story, and even the extension has a funny story to go with it: the Adams' bought the house because Abigail had visited it as a teenager and fallen in love with it. Once moved in, she found it too small and contracted to have it enlarged. She eschewed the low ceilings and darkness of the original part of the house and asked the contractor for taller ceilings. He told her he couldn't do so without ruining the floor plan of the upper story. She responded, "Well, if you can't raise the ceiling, lower the floor." Sure enough, the floor of the addition is two steps down from the original part of the house.
Outside is a formal garden that was once part of the working farm, a carriage house added by Charles Francis, trees planted by John Quincy--and a library building. This was built to house John Quincy's collection of books. It was at least 20' X 50' and the bookshelves were supposed to only reach halfway to the high ceiling, the remainder to be covered with portraits. Instead, when Charles Francis started filling the shelves, he discovered he had to extend them up to the roof, 2.0'-25' feet up, to fit all the books (the portraits were put on a balcony). The kicker is that on some of the shelves the books are two and three deep!
(Yes, I asked. There are more than 12,000 books. Wow.)
Came home afterwards, had supper, then went out to Oakland Beach for dessert. Oakland Beach is the home of Iggy's, which started life, and was for the longest time, a mere shack near the beach that served doughboys, clam cakes, soda, and other hand foods. They've expanded a bit--they have sandwiches, other seafood now, and even a seating extension. On summer evenings they are packed, and I was amused to see that they now sell t-shirts, which proclaim "I survived the line at Iggy's."
We got a bag of doughboys (you folks in Massachusetts call 'em "fried dough"; I hear New Yorkers refer to them as "elephant ears"--they are bread dough deep fried to a golden color then sprinkled with sugar) and walked down near the beach. A car club was just finishing a get-together and we looked through the remaining classic cars, including a neat little roadster that could have had Nancy Drew for a driver, as darkness settled on the landscape. Many people were still sitting on the seawall despite the darkness, probably reluctant to go home to non-air conditioned homes in the still sticky evening.
» Monday, July 07, 2003
Whew! Still sweltering here. There's supposed to be a storm and cooler weather coming in for Thursday, which we hope so: it's the day we are going to New York.
Today James and I went up to Boston. We have had a regular routine of going to Harvard Square for lunch and then wandering around afterwards; however, it was a bit too warm to do so. We had reservations for the Boston Duck Tour at 3 p.m. and had to be there at 2:30 to queue. We arrived in town about eleven, then James had to eat, so we decided to stay nearby South Station to make sure we were there on time.
I'd found the perfect answer: the Boston Tea Party Ship, a replica of the brig Beaver which was one of the ships attacked in the Boston Tea Party, was nearby. Well, I overshot it, then we found the way and walked all the way out to see it--only to find out it was closed due to a fire in the exhibit area (the ship itself was fine).
We didn't have enought time at that point to go to Harvard Square and still have time enough to look around, so we decided to go to Quincy Market instead. We could get a drink and visit the quite nice gift shops on the first floor of Fanueil Hall. Last time we were here in June I was surprised that several vendors had a nice assortment of New England/Boston calendars, so I figured that in July they would have the same.
Nope. All they had were Harvard calendars in one small kiosk. Well, pooh.
We ended up going to the Museum of Science (where we would pick up our Duck tour) and looking at their excellent gift shop. James found a bunch of the NASA Mission books which contain all the details of various space missions and bought four after our tour.
The Duck Tour was a blast. The "duck" is actually a World War II land/aquatic vehicle: basically your classic truck base (the trucks you see in every WWII flick transporting supplies, troops, etc.) with an enclosed, boat body and propellors. During your tour (and it depends on which tour you take, the one from Science Park or the one from the Pru on when you enter), your Duck (the vehicle's moniker was actually DUKW, the abbreviation for its military designation), after you've been taken about Beacon Hill, the Common/Public Garden area, the Back Bay, and Government Center, trundles into the water and gives you a nice little cruise on the Charles River as well.
The tourguides on the Duck Tours are "characters," each with his own persona. We had a colonial character, "Paul Reverse," with the usual complement of silly jokes, full of facts and figures. Some of the other characters are dressed in World War II garb, some in wilder outfits: the tour after ours was led by a Viking character, complete with horned cap and fur loincloth and boots.
After the tour we had supper at Quincy Market. A street performer set himself up in the middle of the eating area and was playing a trumpet. Over the years I've heard a lot of these street performers and many of them are wonderful. You hope that soon they are working professionally at making music. This guy wasn't one of them. He tried really hard, but even on the simplest of tunes he hit sour notes.
I usually love to sit and feed the sparrows in Harvard Square for a little while, but we were tired and it was late, so I took the rest of my bread and we went looking for sparrows where we were instead. Most of the birds hanging about Quincy Market are pigeons, but we did manage to attract a few cute little sparrows, too.
» Sunday, July 06, 2003
We had a nice Sunday, if one part of it was too short.
James wanted to go to the Quonset Air Museum again, and Friday, Saturday, or Sunday is the only day they take guests, so we went today.
Poor Quonset Point is the "little museum that wants to." They have high hopes for it, a small collection of planes, a--sadly--badly done half dozen display cases (the plastic coverings over badly photocopied pages have been hung crookedly), a loyal contingent of volunteers, a grass-pocked expanse of asphalt, and not much else. We wandered around and looked at the planes for a while, including a Navy "Hellcat" that was dredged out of the water around Martha's Vineyard and not much of the fuselage is left.
If this had been some tiny, minor depot somewhere, the fact that it's rotting away probably would be just a factor of time. But it's a shame there's not more here and more been done to even preserve at least a quarter of what once existed, because for five long years Quonset Point was one of The Places of the second World War. The place roared, three shifts ran, the word "Quonset" became so well known that it attached itself to a hemispheric metal building called a "Quonset hut" everywhere in the world. The fight was fought well here, and the buildings remaining are now rotting and seedy instead of being honored. It's sad.
We went out to Newport afterwards, which was probably a bad idea. Newport in the summer is an anthill anyway, but on Sundays it's a zoo--especially with the tourists taking advantage of the free parking at the beaches. Half the cars we saw were from out of state: New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut predominating, also New Hampshire, Texas, and two cars from Georgia. I compounded the error by directing James to drive out to the shore rather than having us eat lunch first, so we had to abandon our first attempt and go in search of food.
We lucked out on the way back; on our second orbit of Brenton Point we found a parking space and crossed the street to avail ourselves of the blessed cool for a while, watch the kite flyers and the seagulls, and the antics of a spaniel-cross. James was restless, but I could have sat there breathing in the salt air and being cool forever. The weather was quite horrible today, up in the 90s again.
After a short stop back at my mom's house, we had supper at Bassett's Inn (formerly just The Inn), a seafood and more place near Oakland Beach in Warwick. The food as always was delicious and ample.
» Saturday, July 05, 2003
We're outta there!
Yes, we're on vacation. We left Atlanta this morning at 11:30 and are now at my mother's house in Cranston, RI. The airport was easy--the hardest part was saying goodbye to the fids. Willow was downright hysterical.
We had a nice flight: came directly over the James River (which the flight attendant said she'd never heard of!), and saw Block Island and Newport from the air. The one problem is that it is horrendously hot and my mother has no air conditioning. We went out to Linens'n'Things and bought another fan with the coupon I had and are trying our best to get air circulating through the house. The windows are very heavy and my mom tends to keep most of them closed. (She's 85.)
We cooled off by wandering around Borders for a while, where I found a book of old Boston photos and another on the Blizzard of '78, and we went out to eat at a favorite Chinese restaurant. They make "proper" fried rice, dark and very rich tasting, with onions, bean sprouts, and pork, not that greasy yellow stuff with peas and carrots in it that passes for fried rice. I ordered take out for a day later this week.
Tonight we watched the Boston Pops concert that my mom recorded for us. It previously aired on WCVB-TV, simulcast on the A&E cable network. Well, the Pops made a deal with another Boston station, WBZ, to air their concerts instead. The coverage sucked big dogs. I mean, really. Perky, annoying hosts, annoying "floor" reporters (except for the guy with the cute baby), bad, bad camera work as a whole during the fireworks--hey, when I watch fireworks, I want to see them, not people watching the fireworks--although a few of the long shots were interesting. Leeann Rimes was the special celebrity guest and she sang too many modern songs. Heck, she even pimped a new song from Legally Blonde 2! They had a wonderful operatic singer on, plus the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and they wasted too much screen time on Rimes moaning some songs. The one patriotic song she sang was fine, if forgettable. And when the CBS network cut in during the last hour, commentator Harry Smith babbled on...and on...and on...
» Friday, July 04, 2003
1. What were your favorite childhood stories?
I liked animal stories almost to the exclusion of anything else. I didn't read many of the so-called classics until later because of this. However, I also remember the Whitman adaptations of TV series, the Danny Dunn books, etc. If my mom didn't buy it for me, I had to get it from the limited school library. We were not in walking distance of any larger libraries.
(Daniel Taylor mentioned not reading anything like Dr. Seuss. The only Seuss I ever heard was in school. Seuss books were in hardback and we couldn't afford them. I remember the teacher reading us The 500 Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins and liking it, though. Never read The Cat in the Hat.)
2. What books from your childhood would you like to share with [your] children?
Oh, dear...all of them! But especially Roller Skates, Little Women, the Windy Foot books, Anne H. White's animal stories, Anne of Green Gables...
3. Have you re-read any of those childhood stories and been surprised by anything?
Not really surprised, but interesting that so many of the books we are told are "kids' books" are so violent--but then they weren't written as children's books originally anyway. I'm talking about books like Black Beauty, Call of the Wild, White Fang, and Beautiful Joe. Of course, many other books we think of as "children's classics" weren't written for kids, either. Like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, for instance, or Anne of Green Gables, or My Friend Flicka.
4. How old were you when you first learned to read?
Five going on six. My mother probably would have taught me, but all she made me learn was my alphabet because she was told not to teach me to read. She was advised it would make it "harder" for me in school.
5. Do you remember the first 'grown-up' book you read? How old were you?
Well, if you consider that the books I mentioned in the answer to #3 were really adult books that have been turned to "kid's books" due to their subject matter, then I was probably 7 or 8 and it was either Black Beauty or Beautiful Joe. If you still consider them children's books, then it was most probably William Johnston's Get Smart! novel, and I was ten.
» Thursday, July 03, 2003
Onesome- Celebrate: What's your favourite way to celebrate? Do you go out for a meal at a nice restaurant or head out to the local bars and blow off some steam with your friends and a few drinks? Or maybe something quiet, like a nice meal at home with the movie of you choice in the DVD player or VCR? Or something completely different? Tell us!
It depends on the holiday. We're not into the bar scene, though. Tomorrow we will probably spend a quiet day with the fids continuing our packing for vacation and watching our annual treat, 1776. Maybe we'll try to sneak out and see the fireworks since ::sob!:: the Boston Pops signed with a new station to broadcast its Esplanade festivities and A&E won't be showing the proceedings this year. CBS is showing the fireworks at the end, but that's preempted here for local programming. Christmas we like to go to small parties. Usually the "nice meal/DVD" choice suffices.
Twosome- Independence: How old were you when you declared your independence and left home for the first time? Did you go back temporarily? Are you still there? ;)
Threesome- Day: As in, "Day-o!" (Cueing up Harry Belafonte!) Hey, what are you singing this summer? Last year it was Sheryl Crow "Soak up the Sun"; what's working the beat for you this year? Is there a favorite song or two on your hit list?
Not modern music. The "modernest" I get is New Age stuff: George Winston, David Lanz, David Arkenstone, David Huntsinger, Cusco, Mannheim Steamroller.
» Tuesday, July 01, 2003
Imagine if I surfed porn sites...I understand you get more spam then!
I almost have to laugh looking at what I'm deleting out of my e-mail box, including ads for Viagra "cleverly" placing spaces and symbols between some of the letters, and from my spam filter, which is hilarious reading. I see the Nigerians also operate in Botswana, that lovely teenage girls are willing to copulate with animals, that all I have to do is ask people to send me $5 and they will, that I can get free vacations and cell phones, yadda, yadda, yadda. More than half the messages have to do with sex--either having a longer dong or longer orgasm cream for women.
Do people really think about sex this much? And why? Don't they have a life?
Mo' Traffic Blues
Surfing about for something else, came upon a big story written a few days ago in the Boston Globe about traffic backups that had happened during rush hour due to the arrivals of Dick Cheney and Pervez Musharraf, and people's complaints about it. Holy cow, they should come live in Atlanta. Every time we turn around, the President (now Bush, formerly Clinton) is flying into town for some speech or another. He either arrives or leaves during rush hour, which is already a filthy mess, turning it into a nightmare. If these wretched VIPs want to travel in big cities, can't they at least have the courtesy to arrive when commuter traffic is light?
This or That Tuesday: July 1: Summer Fun!
1. Lemonade or Ice Cold Beer?
Lemonade. I hate beer. How can anyone drink anything that smells that bad?
2. Swimming pool or beach?
Pool. Always disliked cleaning up after the beach; all that sand coating you. Not to mention the jellyfish!
3. Long weekends here & there, or a 2-week vacation?
4. Destination: Acapulco or Hawaii?
Neither. Both are too warm. How about Alaska? Hudson's Bay? Scotland?--anywhere cool!
5. Destination: Mountains or Beach?
Hard one. Love mountains, love to walk along the seashore (not go swimming). Right now I miss the ocean more, so: beach.
6. Hotel/motel/B&B or camping?
Anything that doesn't involve exposure to crawling insects.
7. Carefully planned vacation, or play it by ear?
Play it by ear with certain things planned (like plane tickets!).
8. Sneakers or sandals?
Sneakers. Haven't worn sandals in years.
9. Air-conditioning or fans?
A/C all the way!
10. Concerts in the park or baseball games?
Concerts. What's fun about sitting in the sun watching a bunch of grown men toss a ball around?