Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Day at the Park

It's a slushy mess out there right now, but last week when it was nice I discovered I could walk to this park in ten minutes. It's the best walking park in town. It's not that it's so pretty, but it has measured trails and enough people use it so it feels safe to walk it alone. I especially like the bridges like this:

And the little river it crosses. It's rare around here to see water clear enough that you can see through it. I'm told it's different in the mountains, but in the towns the waters are often brown and mucky looking.

Not sure if this will dry up in the summer but I hope not because it makes a cheery sound that reminds me of the brooks up north that I loved so much. There's even a little waterfall in this one, but I couldn't get a photo because the banks are too overgrown. Of course if the brook disappears I suppose I could amuse myself with the equipment.

There's a lot of stations on the trail like this. I love that they give instructions on how to use it too. Probably never use this one myself. Looks like a recipe for bursitis. (As always, click on the pictures to enlarge them. They look better big.)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

What a difference a day makes

Well okay, it was two days ago I took the pictures in the post below this on a warm afternoon in the little city. It was about 60 degrees then. Today it won't get out of the low 20s and this is the view from my window.

Unfortunately, I clicked a little too soon, so you can't see the snowboarder they were towing but if you click the picture to enlarge it, you can see the tow rope. Only got one try since I was taking it from the window. However, shortly thereafter, they broke out this ATV thing. Kid was going fast.

Wasn't too long after that the cops arrived to shut them down. I suppose it's probably illegal to drive those things on the streets, but this is a very quiet street and there's almost no traffic on it. I was a little annoyed they didn't let the kids enjoy the snow. It's not like we get that much of it here.

Meanwhile, the coolest thing I saw today I couldn't get a shot of at all. About six crows attacked a huge hawk. The hawk hid under a chimney cap on the church and the crows circled around it making a huge ruckus. I ran out with the camera but of course they flew away before I could fire it up.

And in other news, I love this neighborhood. I got a peek at a few more neighbors as they seem to be walking out today going to the convenience store. Seem to be a lot younger, college age kids. Saw at least three different guys coming home with 18 pks of cheap canned beer.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Yesterday, winter seemed so far away

Everyone on the internets was talking about snow yesterday but here in the little city it was another gorgeous afternoon. Took a long walk through town. It's spooky how empty this little city is, even the little college feels like it's still on break. I finally walked around campus. Just a handful of students to be seen. But this tree was already busting out in bloom. (Pictures look better if you click on them to embiggen)

And I'm not sure what these shrubs are. They resemble forsythia but I doubt they're related, although they both are the earliest bloomers around these parts.

Have a feeling these guys are going to be sorry they jumped the gun on blooming though. Weatherman is predicting up to a foot or so of snow for us this weekend. That would be really weird. Haven't seen that big a snowfall since I moved to the south. Guess I should go to the store and stock up on essentials. That much snow could shut down the city for a couple of weeks.

Monday, January 25, 2010

RIP Phoebe

Too much death in my world lately. Our dear Phoebe slipped through the veils and left us this week. She was one of my Dad's three cats. Phoebe was the smart one. The friendliest one, who would come running to see you when you walk into the room. They only had her for nine years. She left much too soon. Going to miss her for a long time.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

RIP Chuck Morey

The worst thing about getting old is that more people you know get old and die. Chuck and I weren't friends exactly, but we were connected in many ways. The biggest one being that we moved into the cottage on his brother's farm after he was kicked out of it. Actually it was more of a drafty shack when we got it and it was loaded with junk. Chuck was the attendant at the landfill up the road from the place and became a hoarder of sorts, collecting cast off items that might be useful someday. It took a long time to empty the place after he left.

Nonetheless, Chuck was a smart man and fabulous artist. Oddly, in all the years that I knew him, I never knew that he had started out as an accomplished professional. I was surprised to see this in the obit:
Chuck was a painter who had works displayed in various galleries over the years. He received his bachelor's degree from Williams College and his master's degree from the University of Georgia in Athens. He was a retired professor of fine art, having held positions at Dartmouth College and the University of Toronto, as well as Amherst College and Berkshire Community College.
By the time I knew him, he was living in a broken down trailer, enlarged with haphazard additions built of whatever scrap he happened to find. He wasn't painting much. He apparently died pretty much broke. Still he was a good man. A gentle soul with a generous spirit. Rest in peace.

Friday, January 22, 2010

My friend Bode is so cool. He gets paid for doing spray can graffiti in alleys. But of course in his case it's real art, like this.

The story and more pictures at the link. Art is powerful thing. He changed that corner of the world with a spray can.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I'm not a religious person. Or I should say I'm not a person that goes in much for organized religion but I'm really sad that the West Cummington Congregational Church burned to the ground this past Sunday. It was a remarkable place. The perfect little country church. Small, funky chapel sitting on a hill in the woods, its impossibly uncomfortable 170 year old pews worn smooth by generations of believers.

I lived for many years just down the hill from the place. I could see it from my window. I gave my daughter her religious upbringing there. It was tiny congregation of mostly very old people. I eventually joined the Ladies Benevolent Society. The average age of the members was 82. After I left town, I've heard many more younger people did too. We held dinners in the community house that thankfully survived since it too was at the bottom of hill, far from the fire.

The congregation will of course survive. Just as they fiercely deflected calls to merge with the larger church in the main village, I know they will find a way to rebuild the chapel and keep the heart of West Cummington thriving. Still, it's hard to imagine the tiny village without that old church on the hill watching over it. For the first time I'm glad I can't really go back there anymore. Seeing the empty space would break my heart. [Graphic via church website]

Local news coverage of the fire is here and here

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Fifteen Minutes

It was so gorgeous yesterday afternoon that I decided to do a test walk to my Dad's house. Fifteen minutes from door to door and I stopped to scritch a friendly cat and exchange pleasantries with an old guy leaving his house. On the way home I decided to check out the corner store.

The place is a riot. Too convenient indeed. It has a whole section of fake hair extensions. And lots of boxes of rubber shoes and cheap beaded sandals. Wanted to take a few more pictures inside but was feeling a little shy since I was the only white person in the store. Thought I should wait until I've stopped in a few more times and they figure out I'm not the health department.

Peeps were looking at me suspiciously. Except for the clerk who couldn't have been more cheery. Think she must be the Sunny referenced on the sign.

Monday, January 11, 2010


You'll remember at the last place, I saw that elderly couple and thought they might be apparitions. I think now they may have been real people after all. I saw them often and a couple of times she waved to me. And they bought things at the store. But I've seen a different apparition since I've moved here and this time I think it's for real.

I've seen her twice. She's tall and very slender. She wears a black parka with the hood pulled so low I can't see her face and a thin, brown paisley ankle length skirt of the sort made in India that one might buy at the retro hippie store.

She walks slowly, a toe's length at a time. Her forward motion is almost imperceptible. The first time I saw her, I was coming home from the grocery store. She was in the tall grass near the intersection before the sidewalks started up again. It was cold. I almost turned around to offer her a ride. But I didn't. I thought she might be doing a walking meditation.

I saw her again yesterday. I was sitting on the porch listening to the wind chimes. She was across the street. She seemed to come out of nowhere, but maybe I just didn't notice until her shoe chanced on a bit of gravel. I watched as she disappeared from view behind the big shrub that tells me the temperature. I waited a long time for her to come out the other side but she didn't. I finally got up and looked. She had made her way to the far corner of the synagogue parking lot. She disappeared behind the telephone pole.

I mean she really disappeared. She stepped out of view behind the pole and never came out. There's a big stone wall that runs the length of that lot and well beyond. There's thick shrubbery between the lot and the neighbor's driveway. No way to get through there without making some noise.

I ran upstairs to check from the front windows. It's a different angle with a wider view. She just wasn't there. [graphic]

Loose ends

My friend Mary a PowerPop made me the coolest birthday gift. If you like music trivia the place to be on Friday is there for Simels weekly listomania. I play almost every week though I don't usually get there until Saturday. And you can play guess the theme on Thursdays. I rarely make that one, and when I do, I'm always wrong.

I can't remember if I posted this, but it's so cool, especially if you live in a place that rarely gets snow or you love it a lot. How to preserve snowflakes forever.

I don't usually read Hollywood gossip anymore, but I found this slideshow of celebrity houses interesting. They're all for sale for various reasons. That's the gossip part.

And I just love this kid on twitter. My NYC sweetie John de Guzman is a great photographer. I love his eye for framing and he takes photos of my favorite building. The Chrysler looking glorious and Chrysler building detail at night.

Meanwhile, I'm not sure why my Haloscan hasn't died by now, but I'm still going to upgrade the template soon. That ugly code at the top has got to go. Wonder if I should change the color scheme?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Birthday blogging

It was my birthday yesterday. I'm now officially old enough to start lying about my age. Like Jack Benny, I'm now going to be celebrating the anniversary of my 39th birthday for the rest of my life. It was a good day though. Didn't get any material presents to speak of, but I literally spent the better part of the day on the telephone with friends and family calling to wish me well. And the rest of the time I spent on the internets thanking all the people who sent me cyberhugs. I feel surrounded by love in a way that I haven't in many years.

Also splurged on some good beer, Newcastle Ale and take out Chinese for dinner. Was a good way to embrace my impending membership in the senior citizen club. Weird to be, and look, older than I feel. Anyway, hoping to get back on track with posting soon, but in the interim, here's a fun video that just passed on to me.

The music is a Hammond-organ jazz rendition of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" put together with a couple of dance clips from 30's movies. I loved it. Hope you do too. Via Marcellina who posts from Austria. You should be checking her blog regularly. She's always posting some great pix of the Austrian Alps.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Karen would have liked this...

Sorry, I've been struggling with a little writer's block here. I feel like I can't move on until I write a eulogy for Karen, but every time I start one, I just break down sobbing again. I'm working on it but in the meantime, this was sent to me and I found it soothing.

Feels kind of medieval, doesn't it?

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Lady of the Woods

I don't know if this is real or a photoshop but either way I think it's really cool. Someone suggested that it might be one of the bodypainting portraits that Veruschka did when she was first starting out. She did do a great series with an outdoor theme but I couldn't find a shot that matched this on a quick google search.

Of course it's possible that someone less famous did this one but I wish it was real so I could go see it in the wild. [graphic via]

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Change is going to come

Well the holidays are officially over for me, in terms of official family gatherings anyway. So it's time to start posting again but I think I'm going to have to finally upgrade the template this weekend. I didn't get an email, but I'm pretty sure that my Haloscan commenting system is going to disappear after midnight. I don't really want to spend money on converting to the new Echo system they're replacing it with so I'm planning to switch to blogger comments.

Not sure what's going to happen to the archives because I want to keep the address and not just start a new blog. I may lose everything, but I'm hoping it will all just convert when I upgrade. I guess we'll all find out together. Meanwhile, here's a few links to some pretty pictures.

From the Museum of the City of New York The Look Magazine exhibit. This one must be great in person.

Ten years of NYT Readers' photos.

I love these vintage WPA posters. In a different life, I would have a big modern house and have these all over the walls.

And this post almost made me cry. It was so interesting and moved me greatly. An artist shows you how to draw gorilla portraits.

Hope you're all having a Happy New Year so far.

Friday, January 01, 2010


Hope everyone had a wonderful New Year's Eve. Exciting night for me here in the little city. Fell asleep before 11:00 watching some PBS program about setting up a stage on a beach for a Rolling Stones concert. Woke up at 12:30 to Stevie Ray Vaughn singing live at concert, obviously while he was still living. Took an aspirin and went back to bed.

I'm off to one last family gathering this afternoon. Posting should resume to somewhat normal levels starting tomorrow. Here's hoping this new decade will be better than the last one. Wishing everyone a wondrous and joyful 2010. [graphic via NASA]