30 November 2011

Bike Path Runs

from Turners Falls River Culture

I try to run on our neighborhood bike path as often as I can.  The days are getting shorter and colder, and I'll be sad when winter finally hits New England and my runs there dwindle down to none.

Each day there brings its own bird-, people-, and canal-related adventures.  Lately, the Canada Geese have virtually taken over the place.  I'd guess I've seen about 500 at one time on some runs.  Today, maybe about 200-300.  They, along with some crows, seemed a little panicked as I approached them today. 

As I neared the portion of the path where it leaves the Power Canal I heard a buzzer, which I'm guessing signaled the opening of the dam there.  I turned back toward home and saw most of the geese flying out of the canal as the water started to rush a little faster.  A few groups flew right overhead.


As I was running by the geese on my way back home, I heard the ring of someone's bicycle bell.  As the rider passed by she mentioned, with a look of concern, that there's a homeless person living right where she saw me turn back toward home.  My thoughts swayed from caution to wondering why I should inherently be wary of someone who is camping out on a bike path.  I started wondering what his (assuming it's a he) story is.  How he ended up where he is.  In the end, I decided it won't keep me from running where I love to run.

29 September 2011

Settling in.

Now that I'm no longer in school and just working, it's hard to figure out what to do to fill my days.  I've re-joined the Y and am having a great time doing laps regularly.  The only drawback: sometimes having to squeak my way around older folks swimming laps more slowly than I wish to swim mine. 

I've been taking Sully to Unity Park more often, but can't on rainy days like today.  So here I am, streaming way too many TV shows.  I tried Raising Hope, but meh.  I'm liking Sons of Anarchy, but don't want to pile on too many biker-gang-violence shows in one day. 

I'm hoping to start brewing my own beer, but am waiting for my birthday to roll around so I can ask for a starter kit.

So I guess I'll just stay a little restless for the time being, and maybe get some cleaning done.  Maybe.

31 August 2011

An earthquake and a tropical storm

Last Tuesday, I was sitting at the front desk at the animal hospital, calling a client and noticed the light shifting on the glass of a picture frame in the waiting room.  The reflection was waving back and forth and wasn't stopping.  I looked to my fellow front desk occupant and quickly told her with eyes wide: "the building's moving" before the client picked up on the other line.  The shaking apparently lasted for about 30 seconds, and was a result of a 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered near Richmond, Virginia.  I think this earthquake was stronger than what I felt in San Francisco in 2003.

This past Sunday, Hurricane Irene was predicted to hit Turners Falls.  Michael bought four jugs of water and my mom (my parents had their Sunday afternoon flight cancelled) bought ingredients to make shrimp and grits (provided we still had power Sunday night) and contact solution.  The storm was forecast to hit Sunday afternoon, so I figured we would gather the flashlights and batteries before sunset.  We were fortunate to only get heavy rain with barely any strong winds.  I feel guilty saying it as folks have died and others nearby are unable to make it to stores for food and water, but I was a little disappointed with my first hurricane.

07 August 2011

Bon Iver

Michael and I sat in the sixth row at Mountain Park last night for one of the best shows I've seen.  Here's what they played:
  1. Perth
  2. Minnesota, WI
  3. Towers
  4. Brackett, WI
  5. Holocene
  6. Beach Baby 
  7. Hinnom, TX
  8. Wash.
  9. Blood Bank
  10. Flume
  11. Michicant
  12. Re: Stacks
  13. Calgary
  14. For Emma
  1. Skinny Love
  2. Beth/Rest
  3. The Wolves (Act I and II)
They had two drummers along with a FULL band, which led to the shaking of my raincoat (Justin Vernon declared the motto of the night: "You can either get wet.  Or not.") and chest, which led to a little bit of a tear to the eye on a few occasions.  Also, one of the musicians looked like a cross between Mark Ibold and Eric D. Johnson.

With the exception of a few front-row ladies who were eventually asked to take a seat by security, we all sat and took it in.  And head-bobbed.  Until the very end and the three encore songs, when everyone stood up to rush the stage.  Michael and I promptly headed toward the exit to watch the encore from the near-exit, aside an umbrella-bobbing couple. 

As we drove away, the rain got heavier and we chatted about our favorite songs of the night.

27 July 2011

Volunteer Sunflower

On my morning walk with Sully this morning I spotted a sunflower reaching above the bushes that line the parking lot across the street from our apartment.  These are the same bushes where I discovered a birdhouse this past winter.  These are the same bushes that surround the parking lot where groups of teenagers choose to hang out, spouting out f-bomb's at regular intervals.  And talking REALLY REALLY LOUDLY.  There were fireworks being set off (big fireworks - the kinds that require a tube) up until about a week ago.  Most of the time, though, it's pretty quiet. 

toward the Montague Senior Center

16 July 2011

Our Yard

Click to find the bumblebee
I think it's pretty safe to say that the bumblebees are enjoying the abundance of flowers in our yard this summer as much as I am.  And Sully likes hunting the bees equally as much.  The past couple of days she has joined us on the porch and has pretty quickly discovered the little insects buzzing around these purple flowers.  She apparently could spend hours resting on her back legs, watching them buzz around, trying to snatch one every once in a while.

31 May 2011

Nubbyfest 2011

Nubby + Charles River

Nubby was purchased at the Walgreens down the street from where my best college buddies and I recently spent a long weekend.  He provided hours of entertainment in the apartment in Gloucester and he got to see some sights in Boston (Harvard post-graduation, George Washington's 1775-1776 garden, an old cemetery, the Charles River).  He's a funny little guy who lights up and is squishable in so many ways.  We have named our second annual get-together in his honor.  As the only person not traveling on a plane and potentially having to explain him to an FAA official, I was lucky enough to inherit him.

Our new tradition has proven to be a ridiculously fun, relaxing, recharging one.  I'm already looking forward to next year's get-together, which will bring us all back to Colorado College for our tenth reunion.  We're old.

The Lobster Pool in Rockport, Mass

06 May 2011

The Little Things

this made me smile yesterday
Things that made me smile today, in order of occurrence....
  • Sully's wagging tail as I opened the door for our morning walk
  • my first sip of coffee on my drive to school
  • cranberry walnut bread from 2nd Street Baking Co.
  • my classmate's sheltie's ears: one perky, one folded
  • my classmate's sheltie resting her front paws on my chest
  • getting a better grade than expected on my Animal Diseases exam
  • the arrival of new sizes of boxes to ship stuff in at work (sad but true...)
  • Becky's and my semi-regular "idea" of the day: life-sized people decals to stick on the store's window so customers stop trying to exit through the window rather than the door
  • leaving work on a Friday
  • seeing Brooke and Oliver during my run on the canal bike path
  • coming home from my run to Michael

29 March 2011

Unity Park

It has slowly turned into mud season (Spring) in western Massachusetts. This means we can walk Sully over to Unity Park.

The snow has melted just enough so that she can run like mad after a winter of not having much of a chance to do so. Watching her dart back and forth and bunny-hop every once in a while never gets old.

Taking pictures of your dog peeing also never gets old.

This was our second trip this Spring and with his new-found tree knowledge Michael has been able to identify some butternut trees...

Once the pond behind the butternuts thaws and becomes pond-scummy all of the dogs in the land will make their owners mad by jumping right in. Some dogs prefer pond scum to this nice clean water on the opposite side of the park...

13 March 2011

The Sugar House Ritual

South Face Farm
Each change of season in New England brings its own flavor of Quaint New England Tradition. Spring's is the trip to the sugar house. Around four years ago, Michael and I discovered South Face Farm in Ashfield. It's a forty-minute drive up into the hills from Turners Falls. The trip is just long enough to play our ritual For Emma, Forever Ago. As we wind our way down the side streets and approach the farm, Re: Stacks starts to play...


Things seem to slow down and we start noticing the sugaring lines bordering the road. This year, Michael was able to identify the trees we saw: a lot of yellow birch, some beech with plenty of blight, and of course sugar maples.

As we start seeing cars that we assume are leaving the sugarhouse, we fool ourselves into believing that this means that the crowd is starting to peter out and we won't have much of a wait. We lucked out last year and walked right into the restaurant when we got there. But that somehow felt wrong. We didn't really work for our maple syrup.

This year, we drove up to the sugar house to see a busload of senior citizens from Agawam unloading. Michael found a parking spot close to the entrance and stopped to let me out. I slipped past a few of the passengers, until I had just one of them between me and the sign-up sheet for a table. As he stopped to look around the crowded waiting area, I squeezed through a few families to grab the pencil hanging on the wall and scratch my name onto the list. Just in time to beat out the bus's 13-person party. I slipped back out, guiltily pretending not to hear the last passenger (in bright red Red Sox fisherman's cap) saying "you beat me!"

Since we knew it would be a bit of a wait, we walked down the street to look at some more trees, listen to the birds, and to enjoy the quiet...

...so quiet...
 We made our way back toward the sugar house to get our honor system coffee and donut in the waiting area. Having been there a few times now, I enjoy watching the newbies discover the sugaring videos and paraphernalia and the map on the wall with pins from all around the world. 

When our name was called after waiting about a half hour, we headed into the low-ceilinged restaurant to see who we might be sharing our table with. This year, we were led to an empty table. It was soon filled with a third of the bus party; one of whom had good-naturedly and prematurely blurted out "we got rid of them!" as we headed into the restaurant a few minutes earlier. 

I ordered my usual Combo Plate #1 with two strips of bacon: one pancake, one piece of french toast, and one corn fritter (which I had dreamed of the night before). I chowed down as our "we got rid of them" friend remarked that she hoped that her pancake would be bigger than mine.

We left happy and armed with our annual quart of Grade B maple syrup and a little maple cream bonus this year.

03 March 2011

Our (weird) dog

Taken with my $5 phone...
Ever since Turners Falls' eternal snowbanks of the winter of 2010-2011 took shape back in November, I don't think a walk has gone by without Sully climbing to the top of at least one of them. The three or four ice storms have made her happy, as they have been spaced apart just enough so that she's never really had the chance to sink into the snow. I think she likes to feel tall whenever she can. And that she knows that it makes us (and others) laugh a little bit.

26 February 2011

Sand Plains Index show #1...

...at least for me. I recently joined Michael, Brooke, Nathan, and Tom's newish band. We played for an art opening right around the corner from our apartment, at the Rendezvous

We moved some tables so we could play in the middle of the bar, as opposed to the usual end of the bar. No microphones, just our (and others') songs played to a hushed crowd. We played...

1. the grenville shore (instrumental)
2. need (Nathan's song)
3. in my time of dying (traditional)
4. american fields (Michael's song)
5. my donal (traditional)
6. bring it on home to me (Sam Cooke)
7. a horse and a sigh (Nathan)
8. better life through chemistry (Michael & Nathan)

And it was so fun.

12 February 2011

Cutest fortune cookie ever

Who wouldn't love a little anthropomorphizing of a fortune cookie fortune.

From New Golden China in South Deerfield.

01 February 2011

Alfie Metivier, 2005-2011

Soon after Michael and I moved into our apartment in South Deerfield in early 2006, we started searching for a buddy for our guinea pig Thelma. PetFinder searches were aplenty, and we eventually stumbled upon the Critter Connection guinea pig rescue in Connecticut. From their online listings, we settled on an orange guinea pig named Sarge. He had been left in a cardboard box, outside a church in Baltimore on Christmas Eve, along with around 30 other guinea pigs.  He had a strong personality, which we thought would be a good mix with ever-senile Thelma.

After a trip to the IKEA in New Haven for a some shopping and a little hanging-out with Michael's college friend Becky, we headed north to the rescue. We drove up a long driveway and were greeted by Cindy, who led us through a gate and into her house which serves as the rescue. We headed down some stairs into a cozy, warm basement being heated to the piggies' content with a wood stove.

Cindy took us over to Sarge's cage and explained that he had recently flown out of his cage and onto the floor and needed a little bit of healing time before he could go out for adoption. Then, she took a different orange pig out of a nearby cage and handed him to me. His name was Alfie. He had been in the same cardboard box as Sarge, and was much cuter in person than he had been in his PetFinder picture. As soon as Cindy handed him to me he snuggled right into my winter coat. He was sweet and needy. It didn't take us long to decide to adopt him.

Cindy set us up with some veggies for the car ride home and sent us on our way.

Since then we've had a lot of adventures with him. He saw us go from a dating couple to a married couple. He was with us through a few different jobs apiece. He was with us for our move from South Deerfield to Turners Falls. We spent our first married Christmas helping him recover from an intensive surgery to remove an abscess from his jaw. He recovered like a champ, but couldn't quite recover from his last illness. We'll both miss him a lot and will always have a little Alfie-sized hole in our hearts.

29 January 2011

A Prairie Girl in Cairo

View from our hotel (taken by Shelly)
Watching the protests in Cairo unfold, I've been thinking a lot about my trip there in the summer of 2001. The photo above is of Tahrir Square, with the Egyptian Museum in the background. It was taken by my tentmate on the trip, Shelly, from the hotel where our group stayed for a couple of nights before heading west into the Sahara. The Square has become somewhat of an epicenter for the protests in Cairo.

We stayed at Ismailia House Hotel, alongside some interesting folks. I can still vividly picture us eating our "continental breakfast" of hard-boiled egg, sweet pancakes, and tea in the common room. A young German man sat on the couches opposite me. He didn't speak English, and things were a bit awkward. All of us were trying hard not to stare with wide eyes at the tattoo of a swastika on his neck.

To get to the entrance of the hotel, we walked down an alley and either climbed a few stairs or got into a tiny elevator with a young boy. He would manually latch the elevator gates behind us and take us up to the hotel as long as we had a little "backshish" as a tip.

Although there were traffic lights in the square, not a single car obeyed them, so crossing the street was a bit like playing Frogger. With the guidance of our trip leader who had been to Cairo many times, we would start walking across the street and have faith that the cars would dodge us. If you hesitated at all, you would get a hasty beeping-at. It was up to the cars to dodge you. Needless to say, most cars had a healthy amount of dings. From the hostel, we could hear a near-constant serenade of beeps day and night.

We woke up in the wee hours the last morning of our stay to take a bus to Siwa. We could hear the early-morning prayers at nearby mosques and spotted a few street vendors readying their goods in the alley below. One of them with a wooden crate full of flat bread.

It's hard to know the details of what's going on since the government has cut off all internet and mobile phone service. Egypt is in my thoughts and I'm hoping the damage is not too extensive. Although, photos like this one of Tahrir Square are not all that reassuring.

17 January 2011

Click on the article to read the whole thing

This is an article about my great-grandpa, from Ferndale, Michigan's local newspaper at the time.  He was my Grandma Peet's father and a real sweetheart.  My mother used to sit on his lap while he read the funny papers to her. 

Since I received this clipping in the mail from my mom about a week ago, I've been trying to find my inner Haller whenever I become impatient with customers at work or feel a little road rage.

This, combined with (some of) the national dialogue following the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, has me liking people a little more these days.  Monte Belmonte had a great series of discussions with local folks on his morning show about how we need to change our political mentality and be a little more compassionate toward each other.  It was hard to get out of my car once I arrived at work.

And, I didn't see the whole thing, but heard snippets on NPR of President Obama's speech to memorialize those who didn't survive the shooting in Tucson.  It's pretty difficult to find a favorite part, but here it is:
None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped these shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind. Yes, we have to examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of such violence in the future. But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other. That we cannot do. That we cannot do.
As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let’s use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy and remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together.

09 January 2011

The end of procrastination for now

It's taken Michael and I around two and a half years to put together our wedding album.  We're not quite there yet, but we took the most daunting step: choosing around 60 photos out of 777 amazing ones (shot by Liesl Henrichsen) to paste into a scrapbook that Michael's sister made for us as a wedding present.  I can't wait to have actual photographs in hand so soon.