Friday, February 27, 2009

Stupid Neighbors

This is a really big pet peeve of mine and it's happened at every apartment type situation I've lived in. That being people who don't recyle correctly. I mean how bloody hard is it to understand that if you put garbage into the recyling bins, it ruins the whole purpose of recyling in the first place? The recycle guys won't take it and it ends up being thrown in the trash. For crying out loud, if you can't do it right just throw it all away. It's not even mandatory to recycle at this place.

It's especially irritating here. The trash compactor is on the other side of the complex from the recycle bins. You have to make an effort to get over to them. There's about a dozen big trash bins for the recycling, eight of which are for bottles and cans. If you throw the stuff in there in the plastic bags you carried them over in, it ruins the whole bin. If you throw your stupid leftover fast food in there, it ruins the whole bin. I can't tell you how many times all eight bins have been half full and already ruined.

The most irritating part is there are also three cans for trash there so you can throw in your plastic bags, styrofoam containers and half eaten food without ruining the recycling. It would take an extra two seconds of effort to do it right. Sometimes I feel like just hanging out there all day to catch the offenders and slap them silly. [graphic]

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bad memories

I had this really weird episode of PTSD this afternoon. There's a couple in the building across the way that are in an abusive relationship. I've heard them in the dark, fighting in the parking lot, a few times. They sounded a little drunk. Occassionally the cops show up at the building in the middle of the night. Once there was four cars. I never saw the couple until today.

They were outside this afternoon. I was watching from the deck. He was inside their pickup truck, so I couldn't see him. But she was standing on the passenger side, with the door open. I couldn't make out the words but there was a lot of hollering. He would shout and she would shout back and then they both would be quiet and she sat on the running board. Then he would start up again, and she would stand up and shout back.

She was young and blonde, with a pony tail. I didn't have my glasses on, but I could tell she was looking right at me when she sat down. I could feel her fear and conflict. She was me when I was that age.

At the height of the argument, he starting gunning the engine and backing up. She stood her ground. I thought he was going to mow her down with the open door. I started flashing back to all the times I thought my first husband might kill me in just such a fight as that.

I wanted to tell her to run. To just flee. Now. Before it gets worse. And it will get worse. It always does.

Instead, I memorized the details of the truck. Just in case.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Twist on an old meme

The record album meme is sweeping the musician's community on Facebook but over there, you also have to write a review of the imaginary album. I think it makes it more fun so I gave it a try. Here's my latest album.

This 12 man reggae band from a tiny burgh in Vermont is little known in the US, but have been packing the house all over Europe for the last six months. Lead singer Da Yah Iman's vocals on the title track have been described by critics as "haunting" and the "conjunction of Bob Marley and Michael Bolton." They're back in the states preparing for a not to be missed national tour, hoping to translate their overseas success into an American triumph. Appearing soon in a city near you. [photo credit]

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Five Things You Won’t Hear Me Say

The internet is a funny place where you make friends with people you wouldn't have even met in real life. Take my friend RSM for instance. We couldn't be more different. I'm a life long pacifist. He enlisted in the military. I'm a bit disorganized. He's a neat freak that would put Monk to shame. He's a gourmet cook. I eat sandwiches. Yet I admire him greatly and find him to be a remarkable and insightful human being. Not to mention a brilliant writer.

This gorgeous story about a kid in the desert has been haunting me since I read it. It says so much about his character in just a few words. If I was younger, I might ask him to marry me.

Anyway, he also invented this funny meme that I liked, hence the title of the post. Here's five things you won't hear me say:
"I'd love to go to the mall."
"I think I'll twitter that."
"I wonder which 12 couples I should invite to my formal dinner party."
"I really miss driving in ice storms."
"I hate going to the beach."
Feel free to play along in comments, or leave a link if you blog it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I am an idiot

I joined Facebook today. I just wanted to join a group in support of a political cause but it turned into a much more complicated project than I thought it would be. The place is a black hole in the space time continuum. On the bright side, I reconnected with some old friends in the Happy Valley that I had lost track of, so there's that.

Now that I'm connected I hope more will find me. The setup is hellish, but I'm thinking it functions as a group email without having to do all the addresses. And it's more personalized because people on your list can talk to each other too.

Needless to say if you're one of the people who asked me to friend you and I never answered because I hadn't joined yet, you can friend me now.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

My new record album

I found this really fun meme at m. heart's blog, so I had to try it.

I don't have photoshop so I just figured out how to do it in regular old MS Paint, which I barely know how to use. I expect it's much easier with a real photoshop program. Anyway, here's how the meme works.

1 - Go to The title of the article is the name of your band.

2 - go to The last few words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

3 - Go to and the third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4 - Use photoshop (or similar) to put it all together.

My friend JP played and check out m. heart's album for inspiration. They did a much better job of it. [original photo here]

This was first try. I like that the album title was last one left. Kind of appropriate don't you think?

By the way, in case you wanted to know, Sadak is a 1991 Bollywood film loosely based on Robert DeNiro's Taxi Driver, so I guess my album would be the soundtrack.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Kittens and sea slugs

You hear the words sea slug and you might imagine something really icky, like the slugs in your garden. But in the briny deep, slugs are as beautiful as flowers. I love this guy's smile.

Taken from Phila's place where if scroll down, you'll find his Friday hope blogging. I don't think the Rumblers will like him much, but I have a feeling my Westhampton fan club might enjoy his syntax and some of his links.

Meanwhile, who doesn't love cute kittens? Start at the top and keep scrolling here for some fuzzy photographic goodness.

Friday, February 20, 2009

In case you were wondering

Apparently you can get rid of anything on Freecycle. You'll remember my teevee was fried in the power surge a couple of years ago and had that slow wiggle in the picture. I've used it all this time because, the wiggle was slow and you kind of get used to it and filter it out when you're watching. Besides I mostly just listened to it in the background and the sound was fine.

The people who gave me my 'new' old teevee, offered to take it away to be eventually recycled. I didn't want to cause them the extra hassle. I told them I could Freecycle it, but I did have a moment of panic before I listed it, wondering if I had made a mistake and would have to deal with getting it out of here myself. It's heavy.

Not a problem. I was completely honest in the listing. I got six responses immediately. I gave it to the first person who emailed. It's gone now.

Just because

Sometimes Joni Mitchell gives me goosebumps. I've always loved her work.

This was part of my Valentine's Day present from Cosa. Lots of love songs.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

For my Dad

Because he loves to see stuff about World War II. Click here to see an archive of photos. Click here and then click on any of the descriptions to get airplane photos. Click here for battlefields. Click here for Russian troops. If you click on the photos they get bigger.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The new millenium Brady Bunch

Near as I can tell, these people are coming out to sell a book or something. A Brady family for our times, only instead of just combined kids, it's combined marriage partners.
Fast forward to today, and our family is now composed of Alan, Eric, Leslie, Amber, and myself, plus our children: Todd, Steve, Jennifer, Lisa, and Amber is currently pregnant. Eric and Leslie are legally married, and we've added a few rooms to the house. We have two family meetings a week, one of which is for adults only, both of which can get lively and loud. We've had our arguments over money, people monopolizing other people's time, dealing with children's issues, and so forth — like any other family — but we just have more voices in the discussion.
Not clear on how they establish paternity of the children. Maybe they don't care.

I can't help but think the potential for icky STDs must be expotentially greater but I don't think there's anything morally wrong with it. Whatever floats your boat as the saying goes, but it doesn't sound attractive to me. Mainly because my adventures in group living have been universally dismal. Not easy to find multiple compatible roommates. And for me, it was hard enough to deal with one husband. I can't imagine two at once.

Laugh or cry?

I'm currently living in the 8th worst state for rise in unemployment. Misery loves company I guess.

The good news is I've managed to scratch through so far and my lease here runs out in May. I could move anywhere that had a job for me. Assuming there is any such place. I've been checking ads in different parts of the country that I might like to live. It's such a crap shoot though. What I need is another Northampton, like it was when I first moved there. A medium sized college town, that's affordable and has decent housing in a walkable neighborhood.

Anybody have any suggestions?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Take heart my dear friends to the north. Last week it looked like this:

This week, like this:

Red maples....

Soon to be seen in a backyard near you. Hold on. It's coming.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Another World

This gate, that separates the McCompound from that world on the other side, is always locked. If you look through the gap you can't see much. For the longest time I thought it might be some kind of industrial storage space. But when I finally got to the other side, I found...

This pool. I have a better shot, but this one better reflects the setting. It's a trailer park.

This is the nicest row of trailers. I kind of like that red and white number. And when I went back to get the photos, I discovered what I thought was the cesspool pond was really just a huge puddle that had dried out now.

But the pond is at the end of that road. It's bigger than I thought and surprisingly doesn't smell.

I missed the two best shots on this walk. In front of one the trailers that are there at the terminal end of the road, was a residual puddle. There was a big fat robin, joyously taking a bath in it. And behind him were some chickens scratching at the edge of the road. But the robin flew off when I pointed my camera and the chickens ran back into their yard.

I suppose I'll never get another shot at the robin, but I'll go back and try to get the chickens again because I discovered an easier way to get there than crawling under the gate.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

All you need is love

Happy Valentine's Day my dears. If you have a sweetie, hope you have a wonderful romantic celebration and if you're like me, and don't have one, treat yourself to something nice anyway, because you deserve the best in life either way. As my gift to you all, this post is all just fun links.

Starting with this charming love story I ran across last night. I don't know if Rosie and Aaron are for real or if it's just a underground viral ad campaign, but their Compilation Sundays photo series is really beautiful.

Marcellina has a sad yet uplifting story about her neighbor. Keep scrolling for her photos of Austria that never fail to soothe my weary soul.

The irresistible Erin O'Brien goes on assignment and shows us her boudoir photo session. As an added treat, she offers up some vintage burlesque photos. These may be NSFW, if you work in an uptight place.

Tacitus Voltaire pens a love song for us. If you were lost, I'd come and find you.

My favorite sea creature has a brilliant clay animation, Octopus love.

JP dependably delivers your weekly ration of cute kittens pix. Scroll through for Larry Elvis and Curly's latest poses.

And lastly, another couple of more shots of my personal history. I lived on a farm down the hill from William Cullen Bryant Homestead for many years. I never took the tour, but I often hiked in the woods behind it. And I always loved Northampton's City Hall. The inside of that building was just as beautiful.

Happy day my darlings. I love you all dearly.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Freak out

Those of you who know me well, know that I'm not exactly a technowizard. And you know that I never learned to master the cell phone beyond occassionally making a successful call. I'm still at about a 90% success rate on that. I make so few that sometimes I hit the buttons wrong and it doesn't go through.

The one thing I thought I had down though was charging it. I've learned to recognize the low battery distress call. I no longer search the house to try to figure out what that beeping noise is and it's easy enough to plug in the little cord to make it happy again. So I go to charge it up yesterday morning and I plug in as usual and it doesn't make the happy beep. And it doesn't light up.

Now I'm not a total technodope, so I tried another outlet, in case it was just that the one I always use maybe stopped working. I've been having some breakdowns here lately and that does happen. So I plug it into the outlet across the counter from that one and still nothing. Then I freaked out. I thought I had broken the phone somehow or maybe the battery went bad. No idea what to do about that.

I wandered around the apartment for good ten minutes wondering if you have to change your phone number when you buy a new one. I don't know this because this one was given to me and I'm on their service as a part of a family plan. I don't even know where to buy a new cell phone. I was hoping it wasn't the phone store at the mall.

Finally it occurs to try an outlet in a different room. The phone trills its approval and everything lights up as it should. Massive relief. Of course, I'm still left to deal with the broken outlets but that's a maintainence problem that could wait. I have way more outlets than I ever use in this kitchen.

When it got dark I noticed that one of the broken outlets had a tiny red light embedded in the cover. Only because it was lit up. It wasn't until then I noticed it also had a reset button. Needless to say, everything is working now. I'm glad I didn't call the office right away. I would have felt pretty silly about that.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Back in the day - Updated

I ran across this photo of the Berkshire Snow Basin. I learned to ski here. It was a lovely ski hill in its day. It actually had about a dozen different runs. Two of them were black diamond. The most difficult of the two was Stan's Run. It started with a straight down steep schuss with a hard left at the bottom, right in front of a huge ancient tree. I think it may be that tall one that rises above the rest near the top of the hill to the right of the ski lift. I can't begin to describe my terror, the first time I tried that run.

Ruthie's Run was an intermediate. I think that was the one that had the moguls. Some of them were pretty big and you could catch some air going over the tops. There was a run called Forest that literally ran through a forest of big old trees. It sort of felt like skiing through a fairy tale. And the bunny run that ran along the outside edge of the hill we called Sugar. It was a long trail. At the Lost Ski Hill Museum site, they tell me it was almost a mile long. I recall it took a good fifteen minutes to ski it, even if you didn't stop to look at the scenery. We usually made that the last run of the day. At the very end, the kids had built a little ski jump. You could catch some serious air on that one.

I remember how pleased with myself I was, the first time I dared try it. It was a big step considering only a few weeks before I took my first run on the really beginner slope off to the left of the main lift. I had no idea what to do and my companions, who were good skiers, abandoned me there. My first run consisted of pushing myself horizontally across the slope and then falling down when I got to the tree line. I would then rearrange everything and go in the other direction until I got near the lift, where I would lay down again. It probably took a half hour to traverse a two minute run. The next day I got a book and figured out how to edge my skis and turn. It was more fun after that.

And the lodge was charming. It was a big open building with white gravel on the floor and a huge circular fire place in the middle where everyone would sit and warm up their boots. There were big posters of ski areas from all over the world ringing the periphery above the picture windows. A little snack bar and ski shop nested off to one side. One season, I ran the snack bar. I could walk to the place from my house.

It was built by Stan and Ruth Brown. Stan died before I arrived, but Ruthie and Gladys ran it for a few years while I was there. Ruthie was a hot shot skier. She skied well into her 80s. I hear she finally had to give it up after she broke a hip on a nasty spill. Gladys, Stan's sister, never skied but she was a hot ticket. We used to hang out and drink Campari.

They were both dear friends, well into their 70s when I knew them. Sadly, when I left Cummington, I could never go back and see them again for fear of tipping off my ex to my location. I still think of them often though and wish I could track them down now.

Update: M. heart checks into comments with more photos. She's been hiking there and has shots of the Ski Patrol shack and the kid's Ski school playhouse. It's kind of sad to see them in ruins, but m. heart says the place still feels friendly in its ruin. I'm sure it's because Stan and Ruthie built that place for love of the sport and not for money.

[Photo from here]

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Quiet in the McCompound

A think a lot of people moved out of my building in the last six weeks. Sometimes I see them move, sometimes I don't, but you can tell by the empty parking spaces. A lot of familiar cars are gone.

I wasn't sorry to see the young couple with the little baby go. I saw them moving so I'm sure about them. They were nice enough and the baby was sweet, but they always took up at least three spaces. It was a real drag to come home with groceries and have to park halfway down the row.

Speaking of babies, I haven't seen the Asian's couple's tot for a really long time. They're still around but they seem to be moving out in really tiny increments. I see them putting odd stuff in their trunk every day. They don't seem to be doing anything major but they sometimes disappear for a couple of days as well. I'm figuring the baby is with family in town and they're getting ready for the movers to come get the big stuff.

I'd ask them but they don't speak English well enough to communicate that complicated a question. Not that it's any of my business. I suppose I should stop being such a nosy neighbor anyway. Hell, if I keep this up, how long before I'll be hollering at the kids to get off my lawn...

Monday, February 09, 2009

Sweet dreams

I haven't been sleeping well at all for the last week or so but I slept like a rock last night after that long walk. I've been averaging about five or six hours. Yesterday I slept for a solid ten. I didn't wake up once.

On the bright side, even when I don't sleep well, I sleep better with the new pillow. The foam ones don't have enough give. I love punching up the feather pillow and then sinking into it. Maybe it's because I've had one most of my life, but it's like comfort food for my head. I even dream better on feathers. [graphic]

Don't whether to laugh or cry

This story says it all about my job search. Someone advertised a 12 hour a week job on Craig's List and got 3500 replies in one day.

I don't whether to take comfort that there are so many people in the same boat or to be depressed about so much competition.

[This post is a test to see if I figured out how to future post.]

Sunday, February 08, 2009

All on a sunny afternoon

It was another beautiful day here. I walked for almost an hour and at one point got so warm I had to unzip my fleece. Of course I'm no gauge for the warmth. Everyone else was in tshirts. Some even wore shorts.

I've been getting bored with circling the McCompound so today I decided to check out the neighborhood behind the gate near the recycling bins. The entire complex is fenced and the gate is locked so the only way to get there directly would have been to crawl under the gate. I opted to circle around by the main road instead. It was surprisingly far up the hill to the entrance and it wasn't a pleasant walk with the traffic and narrow curb.

According to the map there should have been two circles and the long access road. The map was really off. No circular neighborhoods at all and the access road was rather short. At the beginning there were very official looking warning signs forbidding entrance to any but residents and their guests. You might have thought you were entering an exclusive enclave for the wealthy. But it was only a miserably unattractive trailer park.

There were a few nicer well maintained units in the rows stacked one on another with a driveway in between. Most of them looked like retired shipping trailers that had seen one too many deliveries although the cars in the driveways were almost uniformly late model flashy SUVs and luxury sedans. There were no flowerbeds in the postage stamp spaces in front of the trailers but incomprehensibly, as I neared the gate to the McCompound, I found a swimming pool.

It looked so out of place in that sea of tin boxes. A six foot red brick surround, laid in a fancy pattern, held a decent sized rectangle of water, thick with pine needles congealing on the surface of the water rendered aqua by the painted concrete. All guarded by a no nonsense chain link fence that boasted "Get Lot Information Here" on a huge orange sign. It sat on the top of steep hill and the road, punctuated by the cascading tin rooftops beside it deadended into a big pond that holds the overflow from the septic system. In other words, an authentic Southern working class neighborhood.

It was remarkably lively. I can't have spent more than ten minutes traversing the main T, yet I saw at least a dozen people on their way in or out. It was a surprisingly mixed neighborhood. I saw middle aged and verging on eldery white people. A couple of sets of 30ish white guys, driving trucks with ladders in the back. A young Hispanic family with the children impeccably dressed, probably on their way to the mall. And one 45ish black guy trying to clean out the bed of his aging pickup. His garbage can was already full. He eyed me suspiciously before he returned to half heartedly rearranging whatever mysterious contents remained in the bed.

I looped past him and was soon within the sight of my gate again. The choices were to circle back around and deal with the unpleasantness of the main road or roll under the gate. I chose the gate. It felt like falling through a gap in time. I headed down the pavement to walk the last lap in an entirely different world. The south is funny like that.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Unexpected Company

I made all that pea soup with the idea that I would have Karen over for dinner a couple of weeks ago, but I temporarily lost her phone number and then I fell back into a funk. I was finally feeling better today and was thinking this morning that I should check in with her and set up a date.

It was beautiful here this afternoon. Almost seventy degrees in the sun. I decided to do a load of laundry and take a walk around the McCompoud while I was waiting for the wash to be done. I was just behind the building next door when I got a call. Karen was in town and dropped by.

It worked out perfectly. We had a late lunch of pea soup and biscuits. I got in my walk and I have clean laundry. Karen left with a promise she was going to make me go out one of these nights. It was a good day.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Living with less

I love the heels of bread if they're from a fresh loaf from the bakery. Like three seed bread from Bakery Normand. A loaf of store bought sliced bread, not so much. I used to throw out those heels for the birds but in my present condition, that felt too wasteful. Not that I actually wanted to use them for a sandwich. Then I remembered how to make homemade breadcrumbs.

You just let those puppies dry out and then roll over them between a couple of sheets of saran wrap. Throw whatever spices you like into the mix; I use Italian spices and garlic powder and -- instant bread crumbs. You can use that to perk up a lot of stuff.

I don't have a rolling pin any more. Back in Noho I used an empty ceramic wine bottle but I left that behind when I moved here. I've discovered that a hefty pint glass works as well. Just in case you were wondering.

Stray thought

I haven't been getting around the blogs much in a really long time but in following the slow death of PJ Media, I see Steve H weighed in and I didn't recognize his blog anymore. It was really weird. When did he find Jesus?

Monday, February 02, 2009

View from the stoop

Thanks to Irma for sending me photos of the old stoop we used to hang out on. This was a familiar view in any given winter.

I trudged down this path in the back, many a time. Often with much more snow on either side.

And here's some other nice shots from my old stomping grounds in lovely downtown Northampton. And another one from Ina.

I've also been searching, literally for years, for a photo of my old digs downtown. I just discovered you can see it on google maps. Go here and enter 212 Pleasant Street, northampton, ma, usa. Click on street view and use the arrows to look right. There's the old rowhouse right in front of you. I lived in the middle for a long time but by the time I left I was in the very last apartment on the far end from the main street.

Nice to be able to see the old place when I get homesick, although I'll admit the snow shots help me get over it too. I left partly because the cold was killing me. My knees don't ache down here.

In fact, for all the loneliness and the anxiety about what's going to happen to me here without a social network, one bright spot is still the weather. I saw a whole bank of daffodils sprouting a couple of days ago. No flowers yet but there will be soon. I saw some buds. And the tree outside my deck is setting buds too. It should be a cloud of pink soon enough. So there's that.