Sunday, August 11, 2019

Seven People. Two Bowls of Chowder.

I’ve explored the Northeast. It was a great trip and no doubt it wound up that way because of Deb’s careful planning. She has a gift for making our vacations something memorable. You might assume Trip Advisor is the key to her success but it’s just a tool. Deb’s North Star is creating memories for her family. I’m grateful.

I could describe every moment but those are mine and I’m stingy. I hiked on mountain tops and cruised on the ocean in search of whales (and found some). My shoes touched gentle country grass and rough city pavement. We were all over the place and I liked it. My favorite moments happened when I watched my daughters treat each other like humans. They walked arm-in-arm. They had conversations and laughed at each other’s jokes. Of course, most times they threatened each other with flames and tried to drip venom into each other’s eyes. But, when they got along it made me very happy. 

I ate food. I couldn’t leave Maine without eating a lobster. I thought lobster was going to be cheap in Maine. It’s not. The menus always say “MKT” instead of the price. I learned that "MKT" means you really don't want to see the price. We also visited places with names like "Grandma's" or "Mother's". They had parking lots filled with resident plates and people over 60. The food in these places was always good. I had the chicken-fried chicken at Grandma's in New Hampshire. New Hampshire Grandma clearly knows her shit, the people were friendly and I felt like I belonged.

It sounds like I have a chip on my shoulder when it comes to people with money and the places they eat. I do. I like eating at fancy places as much as New Hampshire Grandma's, but I usually feel like I'm being judged at the fancy places. It's dumb. I always tell the girls that wherever they are, that's where they belong. But, I can't help but think it's clear to everyone at Chez Black Card that my shirt is from Target and the meal I'm ordering will have a significant impact on my bank balance. Plus, some of the people at the fancy places are a little peculiar. 

At one restaurant, where I ordered a $40 example of fresh lobster, we sat next to a booth filled with seven people. They were all well-dressed and looked like they had money. They seemed as normal as rich people can manage to be until they ordered two bowls of clam chowder and a plate of mussels. When the food arrived, they all took turns eating out of the two bowls of chowder. Two bowls. Seven spoons. 

I couldn’t help but wonder about their living arrangements. How many toothbrushes do they own? I’m guessing two or maybe three for all of them. I love my family but togetherness has its limits. It must. Otherwise, we all wind up in a single-room shack writhing around like earthworms. These people probably have a very low carbon footprint but my god get your own cup of chowder and stop wriggling around on the floor. It’s unhygienic and freakin’ weird.

Didn't mean to go negative but I had to record the group-soup encounter I had. I really just wanted to tell you I had a wonderful vacation. Check out these pics:


Friday, July 19, 2019

You know what we need . . .

More pictures. We need more pictures.

Here are some randomly selected photos I found on my computer:

This is Ponderosa pine bark. In Wyoming, Julia discovered that it smells like cookies. Scientists aren't sure why the tree smells like baking cookies but they think it has something to do with a chemical in the sap reacting to the warmth of the sun. [INSERT KEEBLER ELF REFERENCE]


I think this is my sister-in-law's cat. I'm not sure what the story here is, but it's an interesting image. If I disparage the cat and my sister-in-law finds out about it, I will be in trouble. My sister-in-law loved this cat. However, I'll tell you, this was a mean cat and it used to hump a stuffed animal for fun.

The cat has been gone for some time now but the look on the face of the stuffed animal as it was being violated is seared into my memory.


I saw this and thought, "This is the best picture of a chicken I've ever taken." I have over 30,000 pictures on this computer. Almost all of them are of Allie, Julia or Debbie. Instead of choosing one of them, I chose this picture of a chicken. It's actually two chickens. I guess we'll call it a bonus chicken.

You're welcome.

Friday, June 21, 2019

I'm Calling It

Yes. I failed. I didn't post every day in June.

I don't feel bad about it. 2019 is one of the most active blog years I've had in a long time and that's mainly due to my attempt to June's challenge.

I can't get Greg Koch's "Jsk" out of my head. I ordered a CD for $20 just for that song and it turns out I have it for free via Amazon Music.

Then I spent too much money on a new faucet for the bathroom. I tried to clean out the aerator and wound up twisting off the entire end of the fixture. I went to the local hardware store and spent $79 on a new one. The same item was $69 at Home Depot and $25 on Amazon. I like to brush my teeth in my bathroom in the morning so I just wanted to replace the thing and be finished. Sigh. . .

I also installed a new Ring doorbell this afternoon. Another item we don't need but somehow we wind up enjoying it or it comes in handy at some point.

I honestly think of myself as fairly frugal. I live below my means and I don't have a lot of extravagant stuff. It's more a matter of quantity than quality. I don't have the Rolex, but I have a lot of Seikos instead. I'm not sure what my point is. I know that I've been thinking a lot about money lately. I don't have any conclusions or anything interesting to report. I'm just thinking about it and how I can get more of it (or save what I have).

I'm watching Simon drink water out of his cat fountain. He's an idiot. He drags is paw through the bubbling pool before he takes a drink. He destroys the assembly and flings water all over the floor. I'm sure it's probably our fault because we don't clean it enough or something, but he's a jerk. At least he's drinking. Cats with bad kidneys make me sad. He needs to flush all of that protein from his renal system.

Tomorrow we're having dinner with friends. I'm planning on drinking lots of wine. It's not a good idea but I don't care. Sunday will be all about hiding from the tannin-induced headache I know I'll have. Even though I know I need to hydrate after drinking and take a prophylactic Advil (yes, that's how old I've become).

Trying desperately to get down to see my parents. Allie works and there's stuff going on to which we're committed. I miss them. It's been far too long. I hope I see them soon.

We're going to Boston, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont for vacation this year. We asked the Clausen's to take care of the cats. I wonder what they'll think of Simon's drinking habits when they see them. They might suggest we get rid of him.

This blog post is a lot like one of Deb's grandma's entries in her journals. It's just the facts and maybe an opinion recorded for us to read. I find her journals fascinating and they inspire me to keep typing here this evening. None of us have monumental legacies in our futures. She created a legacy for her kids and grandkids just by writing down how much bread she baked and how her granddaughter, named Debbie, came to visit.

I'm going to do more stuff tomorrow. I'm looking forward to finding out what that will be (aside from drinking wine - I KNOW that's going to happen).

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Four Day Work Week

What a wonderful weekend. 

Monday tried to murder me. 

It's okay. It was just packed with meetings and I didn't accomplish much. I find that so much more draining than days when I get a lot done. During one of the meetings we were told there were three types of people in each meeting: participants, passengers and prisoners. Today there what no doubt which "P" I was. 

I'm fine with that. For the most part, I do a decent job of being a participant when I think I can contribute. When I think I'll just add to the noise, I usually keep my mouth shut. But I don't think that qualifies me as a passenger. I'm listening. I'm in the moment. Although in this morning's scrum I trimmed the fringe off the bottom of my shredded khakis with my pocket knife. I got some looks but my pants look better. 

I'll concede I was a passenger at that meeting. 

I came home and fell asleep for two hours. 

Now I'm awake and I'm tinkering. I discovered I have an iPhone 4, two iPhone 5's and an ancient iPod. I'm trying to find something with Bluetooth so I can lose the corded earbuds that get tangled when I go for long walks. I got a free pair of wireless Dre earbuds when I bought some Apple product a few years ago and I never use them. It's time. 

This isn't blogging. It's journaling. The podcast has replaced the blog and the vlog is now a substitute for both. I don't want to podcast and vlog. Well, actually I would like an excuse to buy more gear, but then I'd have to use it on a regular basis and I don't think that's something I'm up to. 

Who'd listen or watch? The same person who's reading this I suppose. And if you're reading this, then that means my audience has double! Thank you. I'm glad you're here. I'll leave the comments on. 

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Dotty

Good Saturday at the farmer’s market and lunch at Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry. One of the best burgers you’ll ever eat. Waygu need. Incredibly juicy, the perfect char, aged cheddar. Crazy. It’s the burger you I think about when I want to reward myself with the kind of decadence that erases years off my life.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Let's Not Dwell on My Failures

Sure. I said I'd post every day and obviously, I'm not doing that. I'm not even going to try to make up this last missed post. I'm just going to live with the gap. Let's talk about

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Crap

I'm not doing a very good job with this "post-a-day" exercise. I missed yesterday. I hate posting from my phone or iPad. I like to sit down and hear my keyboard click. It makes me feel like I'm doing something - getting something done.

But I'm not.

Laundry. That's getting something done. Unclogging the bathtub drain. Compared to writing a blog post that's like digging the Panama canal. A true accomplishment.

I will wait until tonight and I will post again instead of doing something else. Something like vacuuming. Maybe I'll do a post about vacuuming.

It'll suck.
I'm so sorry. . . 

Monday, June 03, 2019

MY HOUSE

MY HOUSE, ALLIE!!!!

"Oh my GAWD!!!!!"

You sound like a dork. You sound like, "Blah blah blah I need privacy blah blah I need space blah blah you only exercise when I want to blah blah."

Stop watching me type. I can type what I want. It's my computer. I get on the elliptical and I like to do it in the evening. And now I have to blog because I'm going to blog every night this month whether I want to or not.

And tonight I don't want to blog so you need to back the hell up before things get ugly. I mean really ugly. Like that time at the place where that thing happened. You remember. It was bad. Really bad. Like Nickleback bad. Like Pontiac Aztec bad. Yeah. . . that bad.

I'm going to blog every time you want to use the elliptical. This is our new routine. You'll go unnaturally fast on the machine and I'll sit here clicking about on the keyboard loudly to annoy you. Every now and again I'll make chicken noises loud enough for you to hear me over your earbuds. You'll ask, "WHAT?!" and I'll reply, "Oh, nothing." And you'll make some haughty noise and tell me to go upstairs and I'll smile and keep typing BECAUSE IT'S MY HOUSE.

Bock bock bocka. Bock bock. Bock.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Bullion Cubes

I went for a very long walk and went past some apartments on the edge of town. I glanced at the windows because I’m nosy. I saw a room full of old stuff - an old clock, collector’s plates, figurines. I assumed it was an old person’s apartment. A room stuffed full of a lifetime of accumulation. Gifts, rewards, things that they thought they needed or deserved. All of it was the best of everything they had because it was all that would fit.

It made me think about how our lives all balloon and then, eventually, shrink back to the point that we are forced to make them fit into smaller spaces, smaller realms of influence and tinier windows of time that other people are willing to provide us with. We become condensed into those bullion cubes that sit in your spice cabinet for years until you throw them away. It is forgotten just how full of flavor we are because we’re small or too salty.


Saturday, June 01, 2019

Three Minutes to Spare

Made it.

Possible blog topics:

My aging body.
Yard work will set you free.

Five Minutes to Make Up for Two Missed Posts

Gotta have this in by midnight or that’s two days in a row I missed.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Listing Tech Stocks and Natural Disasters

On the way home I was listening to 70's music on satellite radio. I don't subscribe to satellite radio and my radio itself says I should call a toll-free number to pay for the service, but I could still hear the Bee Gees and Englebert Humperdink's "After the Lovin'" clear as a bell.

I started to think about time travel and what to do if my current brain occupied my eight year-old self. Now that I think about it, I'd essentially be murdering little Greggy. Or would I? I have most of his memories intact. Right? I wasn't fantasizing about killing a kid. . . right?

Anyway, I really latched on to this idea and started to pour serious thought into what'd I need to do. It occurred to me that I really didn't know enough about technology to communicate to an engineer how to pull off a DVD, microprocessor or fidget spinner. I don't know enough about history to manipulate major events. And, as an eight year-old, I really didn't have the money to invest in the stock market in a meaningful way.

Basically,  I'd just have to re-endure growing up again. Sure, I'd be a little better at math and I'd know some secrets about aunts and uncles that would really blow their minds at Christmas. . . but I'm not sure if it'd be a true boon.

I'd have to find Deb all over again. By the time I synced up with her, I would have already been a rock star via the Elvis Costello, XTC and Foo Fighters songs I had stolen. And the Oscars I'd won for plagiarizing most of the decent screenplays I sort of remembered might not be an advantage as I attempt to re-woo her.

I quickly dropped the time travel idea. I realized that I was sucking the agreeable nostalgia out of the songs. Hearing them used to remind me of the plastic smell of a transistor radio and staining my bedroom floor with a chemistry set I earned by selling seeds packets around the neighborhood. I don't need to dissect that time. I need to keep visits there casual and infrequent. I want to preserve the power those songs have to make me feel like I'm eight years-old again and digging into the bottom of a cereal box for the prize.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

Tonight we faked argued (and genuinely argued) about where to go on vacation. Julia's chief concerned was not being home for her birthday. She's obsessed with making it to P.F. Chang's again after the location near us flooded and has remained closed for almost a year now. 

I'm going to be forced to pay an additional $400 in airfare so she can have an overpriced bowl of fried rice. 

It seems that we're headed to Maine. The plan is to fly into Boston, rent a car and head to Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire. We'll maybe see some whales, eat some lobsters, say "Hello" to Ben and/or Jerry. Who knows what sitcom-like hijinx we'll find ourselves in. And we'll do it all without a single meltdown, argument or sulking about not being able to do what I want to do for a change. 

We'll work it out or we'll wind up spending a week exploring the undiscovered nooks and crannies of Madison and trying to make the Farmer's Market seem exotic.

Monday, May 27, 2019

The future isn't trying to kill you (but it's going to, eventually).

I talked to my wife and we touched on the future and how I know it's out to get me. Everything that lurks around the corner is dangerous and even the most minor slip on my part will put me and everything I love in peril.

I said this outlook is a natural part of aging. She said it might be low testosterone. 

Could be. I'm physically weaker than I've ever been. That'll make you afraid of rottweilers and being asked to help someone move. I don't think testosterone has a lot to do with mental acuity but I don't feel as sharp as I once did. I often forget my "what's next". I'll head to a website or grab my phone to look up something tangential to what I was thinking and the reason disappears. Sometimes I can find my way back, but it takes a full stop and complete devotion to hop back on those trains of thought. 

I'm weak. I'm dumb. I'm also ugly. Can't blame testosterone for that, either. I tried to explain to Deb that charisma compensates for my shortfallings. She wasn't buying it - completely. 

These three things, I'm afraid, aren't going to improve. I can delay them a little if I get my act together, but I'm going to have to adopt an "aging is a privilege" outlook really quickly if I want to be able to leave the house on a regular basis. 

So - let's get positive. After all, I have acquired some wisdom over the years. But it's small potatoes like avoiding urinals when you're wearing sandals. I don't have anything that can help with those bigger questions that keep us all up at night. 

Keanu Reeves seems to have some answers. He was asked what happens when we die and he said, "The ones who loved us will miss us" (or something like that). It's not exactly helpful but it was an accurate and touching thing to say to a bullshit question. 

Maybe I don't have to be useful or relevant. I just have to be accurate. 

"Hey, Greg. Why should I be afraid of the future?" 

"Because it's going to kill you."