July 27th, 2010

Our favorite place to buy garden plants in Maine recently has been Reinhart’s garden center in Naples. They’re not on a main road, so it took us a while to find them. I guess Arlene saw their ad in the local newspaper once and wanted to check them out. At any rate, they have a big selection of annuals and vegetables, when they’re open. They don’t open in the spring until Mother’s Day weekend, and only stay open through about the first half of July. I guess they figure that anything they don’t sell by then just isn’t going to sell, and it’s not worth having someone mind the store for the small amount of business they would do later in the year.

At any rate, we went several times this season. Last time (which was the day before they were going to close for the year) they had a sign up, “Check out our other greenhouses.” We did, and I particularly liked the way this one is held up with rough tree trunks:

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July 21st, 2010

About a week ago I noticed that the rear window of our new car sported some graffiti. It must have been done by someone who spends less time on gravel roads than I do and doesn’t appreciate the futility of keeping a car washed if you do travel on gravel roads.

As best I could make out, it said, “Hi! Yo! Waz up homi werido!” I particularly liked “werido.” Not that I always spell weird correctly, but I do usually keep the e and the i next to each other. Is the perpetrator calling me a werido, or does he want me to offer that greeting to people driving behind me? (Maybe I’m just showing my ignorance. “werido” is listed in the Urban Dictionary.)

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Klezmer Jam

July 21st, 2010

Last week Tobie invited the klezmer band and other friends who play klezmer music over to her condo for a jam session. Well, with sheet music that she had.

I got there (which is to say, just over the Watertown line, in a 5-year-old condo complex) a little early. The driver who parked behind my car saw my instrument cases and asked if I was going to Tobie’s and could he follow me, because he hadn’t been there before. He turned out to be the director of the Newton Rec Dep’t’s Big Band, which Tobie plays in. He hadn’t brought an instrument, but was just going to listen. He carried my trumpet up, and I loaned him the claves I had got in Costa Rica so he could be an active participant.

We ended up having piano, electronic keyboard, melodica (that’s sort of a keyboard-operated harmonica), two clarinets, flute, flutes/piccolo, C-melody saxophone, violin, viola, and trumpet/baritone horn, and claves. The pictures are kind of crummy iPhone pictures, but they show lots of big smiles. Note that I didn’t get any pictures of the people who live downstairs and might not have been delighted with people tapping their feet on the floor above them!

How often do you get to see a piccolo?

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Concert report – SideCar Heroes

July 20th, 2010

Last Saturday evening we went to hear SideCar Heroes at Music on the Hill in Windham. They’re a six man a capella group. Most of the six have formal college-level training in music; several are secondary school music teachers. They have an amazingly full big sound for six people. There are music and video links on their website, so go check it out.

Music on the Hill is a summer concert series in the UCC church in Windham, ME. Windham reminds me a little of Dedham MA in having a big commercial strip along a major highway, but having some lovely old parts that you don’t see if you don’t look for them. The church that hosts the music is a little New England church with maybe eight pews on each outside wall and twelve more between the two aisles — so it seats a little over 100 people. There’s one stained glass window in a bump-out in the front of the sanctuary. If you’re not going to get more than thirty or forty people to attend a concert, that’s a nice size hall. Everyone can be close to the performers, and the room doesn’t look empty the way a venue four times as big would with twice as big an audience.

After the performance there were refreshments in the community hall, which is in a separate building. We got to speak with a couple of the performers, notably the guy who does the vocal percussion. One of the numbers they had done was a cover of an Aerosmith tune, for which the group arranged themselves like a rock band, with the percussion guy in the back. The percussion guy was using his hands like a drummer, and with the least bit of imagination you could see where he had the cymbals, the set of tuned tom-toms, and so on. So after the performance I got to compliment him on the cymbal playing, and he told me more than I can remember about the history of people doing vocal percussion. I didn’t look at the online videos, guys, I don’t have to, I got to see the band live, and it’s all I can do to find time to blog much less watch online videos; but I hope one of them shows him in action.

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Quicken Tip

July 20th, 2010

I’ve been keeping a checkbook on Quicken for years, and it’s great. The problem is with keeping a paper checkbook, which is necessary if you’re going to write checks when you’re away from the computer, synchronized with the Quicken checkbook. Once they get out of step, it can be very confusing to know what’s not in the other and why they don’t end up with the same balance. I’ve finally figured out how to do it.

If you can find a place where the balances match, you’re ready to start. Look at the next transaction in the paper checkbook. If it were the next transaction in the Quicken checkbook, you would be able to check that the balances after them match, or if not, make a correction. So, make that the next transaction in the Quicken checkbook by moving the things in between out of the way — by CHANGING THE DATES of the intermediate Quicken transactions to NEXT YEAR! Sure your Quicken register is now a lie, but it’s going to be easy to correct later. Keep doing that until you get to either the end of the paper checkbook entries or to an entry in the paper checkbook which is not in Quicken yet or to an entry in the paper checkbook which is now listed for next year in Quicken. If you’re at the end of the paper checkbook entries, you know that the balance in the paper checkbook is correct and all you have to do is add all the rest of the Quicken entries to the paper checkbook (and change the dates of each Quicken entry back to this year as you add it to the paper checkbook.) If you get to an entry which is not yet in Quicken, put it in. If you get to an entry which is listed for next year in Quicken, change its date to this year and check the balance as far as you’ve got. Keep it up until everything matches.

Suppose by some chance there’s a mistake. Of course you won’t have one, but I sometimes do. In that case, rather than scratching out all the numbers in the paper checkbook and having a big mess, figure out how much the mistake is and add a single correction at the end of the paper checkbook for it. In Quicken, because the point is to have all the numbers the same all the way through, add BOGUS ENTRY with the amount of the mistake at the point where you have a mistake in the paper checkbook. Sure, all the numbers in the Quicken register from there on are wrong, but they’re wrong the same way they’re wrong on paper, and you know exactly what you have to do to make them correct. When you work down through the paper checkbook to the place you’ve made the correction, go back and delete the Quicken BOGUS ENTRY. The Quicken numbers are correct again, and the balance should match the number on paper after the correction.

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Art in the Park

July 17th, 2010

Today was the Bridgton art co-operative’s annual outdoor crafts fair. We went over but didn’t buy anything except a couple of cookies, which the Lakes Environmental Association was selling. It seemed as though there were fewer booths than last time we went, which was two years ago. Iron Man wasn’t there, nor was woodworker Eve Abreu, who one year was wearing a wooden name badge with a nail driven most of the way through it that looked as though it was nailed onto her until you realized that the nail was sawed off at the back of the badge. I was much taken with it and went home and made myself a similar one. But anyway, there was little woodworking or ceramics, and a lot of photography and jewelry.

We particularly liked the work of these jewelry makers:

Cararabassett Valley Jewelry, nice saw work in sheet sterling, with a poetic explanation of the nature-based inspiration for each piece,  Laura Guptill Jewelry, and Tracy Mastro’s enamel work.

I was wearing a somewhat strange T-shirt that has pictures of a circle of snakes on the front and a Frank Lloyd Wright building on the back. I bought it because it was cheap and I liked the snakes, and hadn’t even noticed the picture on the back until the first time I went to wear it — where did this one come from? A woman at the show looked at it and said, “I know exactly where you got that T-shirt — the Common Ground Fair.” “Right,” I said, “the Unity Graphics bargain bin.”

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Fishing with grandnephews

July 17th, 2010

Last Sunday (July 11) we went fishing with, now wait, can it be, all five of the little boys who were staying here. That’s Gena’s three kids and David & Rachel’s two, Millie’s five grandsons, my grandnephews. Arlene is good about putting worms on hooks but refuses to touch the fish if any are caught, so that falls to me.

We set off mid-morning for our association’s boat dock. The deal with our property is that we’re part of an association that owns two lakefront lots and maintains the private road the house is on. People who live on the lake side of the road own their own lakefront, and people who live on the opposite side of the street, the back lots, like us, are entitled to use the two communally owned lots. One of those is a swimming beach, with buoys to keep boats out and a float to swim out to. It’s a five minute walk from our house. The other is half as wide, has a dock but no beach, and is almost directly across the road from the end of our driveway. That’s what we set off for, a parade of Arlene and me, five small boys, and small boys’ mothers. We got four fishing rods rigged up with bobbers (go away, wiggly underline, that is so a word), hooks, and worms, but there was not the least bit of evidence of fish activity. After ten minutes or so of nothing happening, we decided on a change of venue. We figured out how to set up car seats and headed off to plan B, Parker Pond, two miles away, close to downtown Casco. I cast everyone’s worms out into the pond. Pretty soon Mason, the oldest of the kids, started reeling in a fish! It ran under a log to a point where he couldn’t pull it in any farther. I took the rod and directed the fish to open water, from which we (and by now I forget if it was me, or if Mason finished the reeling in) got it to shore. I’m waiting for Rachel to send me the pictures she took of Mason and the fish, but it was a decent-sized largemouth bass, not as big as the one Arlene got a couple of weeks ago, but at least close to legal size. Not clearly legal size, though, and we didn’t want to keep it anyway. I unhooked it with little difficulty and let it go. Mason got two more fish, small (I mean more like five inches long than ten) bass that also were easy to release, but too small to be worthy of pictures. We must have prepared the kids enough with “sometimes you catch some, a lot of the time you don’t” that there was no real grumbling from the other kids. We’re still looking for a place that you can catch lots of sunfish, or perch, or even horned pout.

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Movie review shorts

July 17th, 2010

On July 3 we went to a double feature at the Bridgton Drive-In,Toy Story 3 and Grownups.

The Bridgton Drive-in is sort of an outdoor event. People bring lawn chairs and watch from next to their car, or put blankets on the roof of the car and have kids sit up there. Or of course you can watch from inside the car. The audio is on an FM channel, so if you remember the frequency you can listen to the movie as you drive past if you’re not driving in.

I watch so few movies that my critical faculties relative to movies are underdeveloped. In other words, you shouldn’t pay much attention to my reviews. But I do have a few comments:

Best line in Toy Story 3: Barbie’s speech on political philosophy.

Grownups: Not really as dopey as the reviews made it sound. Mostly a waste of talent, except that Rob Schneider got his talent used more than it deserved. It did have some good if trite things to say about the redemptive power of a few days in the New England woods, and I liked Sandler’s character’s ability to lose the game at the end. Funniest scene: Chris Rock’s character speaking Chinese to the au pair. Best scene: when paper cup telephones replace cell phones.

A friend at work surprised me when she said, “Oh! I want to see Grownups!” It’s because the funeral scene was filmed in Southborough MA, the next town from where she lives (also where David and Rachel live; they had a lot to say about the filming, too), and a friend of hers was an extra in it.

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Jackson day trip

June 30th, 2010

On Wednesday (June 16? two weeks ago already?) we took our long day trip of the visit, up to Grand Teton National Park. To get there, you drive 50 miles up I-15 to Idaho Falls, east to Swan Valley, north to Victor, over the Victor Grade to Jackson, and then to the park.

On the way to Idaho Falls there’s a highway rest area with trails around a lava flow called Hell’s Half Acre. It’s a lot more than half an acre. We’ve walked there before but it’s always worth a stop.

We saw a rabbit among the lava (just below and to the left of center here)

— and now go back and find the rabbit in the first lava picture up there! — and also a rock wren.

There was lots of construction on the road east of Idaho Falls, so it took longer than we expected to get through the farming area to the scenic part. East of Ririe, though, the road was empty and fast. It was the kind of road you see in car commercials. I mean, car commercials never show the kind of driving you really spend your time doing, with traffic and city streets and construction and congestion; they show you fantasy driving where the speed limit is probably faster than you want to drive around all those curves, with beautiful scenery beyond. But those roads do exist, and we were on one of them near Swan Valley. I don’t have a picture of the road itself, but I stopped to photograph some of the scenery:

We stopped for lunch at Timberline Bar & Grill in Victor,

I don’t really think the Timberline deserves a photo just in and of itself. Partly to give you a better idea of the trip, but more because it’s such a contrast with Bob’s Clam Shack in Kittery where we had lunch a few days later. The menu said that their chef was soon to be famous for his chili. I had a bowl of it and I’m here to say, I’ll hereby do my part to make the chef famous for it.

The last time we drove over the Victor Grade, that is, the road over the mountain pass between Victor and Jackson, we walked on a beautiful trail at a lookout area at the top of the pass. We were hoping to be able to do that again, but the weather didn’t cooperate. It was raining on the way up the grade, and it turned into a hailstorm by the time we got to the pass. It rained and hailed intermittently on the say down, and finally on the outskirts of Jackson the road had a good sprinkling of marble-sized hailstones.

We say three kinds of uncommon ducks, shoveler, gadwall, and cinnamon teal in the water by the Jackson Hole/Yellowstone Area visitors center, where a woman looked at me and said, “Your mom lives in Pocatello!” She had met us at a party a couple of years ago. I know mom knows everyone in Idaho, but I didn’t realize they know me too.

We drove up the main park road. At the first turnout we saw a young Chinese couple taking pictures of each other in front of the mountains, so I asked if they wanted me to take a picture of the two of them together. They did, and then they took a picture of us together:

There were lots of wildflowers at the Cascade Canyon turnout.



I didn’t notice when I took that photo, but there was another park visitor around at the time taking flower pictures the right way. He’s in the background above. The funny thing is that he turned out to live in the next town over in Massachusetts.

The weather continued rainy so we didn’t walk much. We stopped for supper at the Super Chinese Buffet in Idaho Falls and got back to Pocatello a little after dark.

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Tuesday June 15

June 30th, 2010

One of the things mom was hoping we could do was to fix an old aluminum lawn chair that had torn webbing. Arlene did lots of internet research to try to find webbing, and tracked down a couple of sources. I thought maybe we’d be able to find some at Home Depot, or Lowe’s, or someplace like that. Several phone calls failed to turn up any. We drove out to the Chubbuck Wal-mart to look. The outdoor furniture department didn’t have any, but we found some rainbow colored olefin webbing in the fabric department. It was narrower than the original webbing on the chair, but much heavier weight, so I figured it would do. If I had known how little would be left on the roll I would have bought all they had, but as it was we had a couple of feet to spare. The repair job worked. But let’s face it, it’s an old aluminum lawn chair and not that photogenic.

We went for a walk at the Edson Fichter nature area, a part of the Portneuf Greenway project at the southern end of Pocatello.

We were there on two occasions during the trip. The first time there were western tanagers everywhere we looked, a couple of fairly easy-to-see lazuli buntings, magpies who let me take their picture, and an elusive black-headed grosbeak. This time we saw a very cooperative black-headed grosbeak, (maybe the same guy in a different mood)

got glimpses of lazuli buntings again and saw an oriole, “sp ?” as birders say, and saw cedar waxwings and a western tanager (but not quantities of them).

We had a time limit for our walk, because mom had made appointments for us with a massage therapist around the corner.

After that we went over to dinner at Habib’s. He’s a former engineering professor at Idaho State who has been in a dispute with the university administration. He’s from Iran and cooks wonderful exotic dishes. I neglected to get a picture of him, but here are mom and Habib’s girl friend Stephanie, who is a nurse on the Shoshone-Bannock reservation.

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