Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Rushing Water and Stupid People

I guess it's no secret that we here in New England have been experiencing some epic flooding the past few days as a very slow storm system has spun overhead and dumped an awful lot of rain on our heads - rain that has nowhere to go in ground that is already as over-saturated as a sponge that can hold no more. Roads have been closed, schools have been closed, businesses have been closed, fire departments have been worn ragged pumping basements out, sandbags have been filled, the National Guard has been called in ... well, let's just say it's been an interesting couple of days. However, today the rains stopped and the sun tried to come out a little bit ...

... so I decided to put my boots on and take the Nikon out for a look-see at the Yantic River in the area closest to my home.

Just down the road a ways from where I live are the Falls Mills Condos - an apartment complex at the site of a former mill along the Yantic River. The complex is down river from Indian Leap, a place that I've written many times about here in the blog and which regular readers are more than familiar with. The picture below was taken from a spot behind the condos very close to the river and as you can see, the water was a bit high - to say the least!

From there I went back up towards Indian Leap itself - a spot I normally have all to myself but which had become quite the local attraction in the past few days -

These crowds were nothing compared to the hordes of people who were standing around down by the falls yesterday when I took a quick drive by and decided that the smart thing to do was to keep driving. Of course, there's a reason that all of the people were there as the water rushing over the falls was quite the sight to behold -

There was so much water running over the falls that you couldn't see the treacherous rocks that sit at the bottom of the falls but if you were smart, you'd know that getting too close wasn't a good idea as rushing water equals erosion which equals the possibility of land giving away below your feet. Some people, however, are apparently not smart ...

In addition to being incredibly stupid about taking her daughter to go stand close to the edge of the falls here, this brilliant mother later decided that it would be a good idea to take her daughter closer to the water over the bank that was very steep and slippery where they both could have slid to their deaths in the rushing water below -

And trust me, it would have definitely been their deaths down below as there is no way that anyone could survive a fall into the Yantic with the water churning like it is -

People have been known to die at Yantic Falls when the water is nowhere near like it was today but apparently that fool woman didn't seem to understand the concept of "accidents happen" - especially on rain-soaked land that could move beneath your feet at any moment. Not wanting to witness any more stupidity in motion, I decided to walk back up by my favorite railroad trestle and take some pictures there and of the Upper Falls.

Waters of the Yantic River almost reaching the bottom of the railroad trestle
Water rushes towards the railroad trestle spanning the Yantic River between the Upper and Lower Falls
The Upper Falls of the Yantic River
And oh look! Now there were stupid people walking on the railroad trestle, too! Sheesh! What on earth ever happened to common sense? Did it not occur to those guys that perhaps those train tracks they were walking on are part of an active line and if a train approached, they weren't going to have a lot of time to get off of the trestle?

At that point I'd had enough of watching people being idiots so I took one more shot of the water rushing over the lower falls from my nice safe vantage point on the sidewalk before heading home.

I also managed to get a couple short videos using my iPhone just to give you an idea of what it was like listening to all of that water rushing over the falls on its way to the Thames River and eventually the Long Island Sound.

Once we get past today we're supposed to be in for some good weather with sunny skies and warm temperatures so hopefully we'll be able to dry out a bit and the waters will recede some. Hopefully the forecasters are right and April will come in like a lamb as March is most definitely going out like a lion - a big, wet roaring lion at that!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Too Much To Do and No TIme to Do It

I think the title rather aptly sums up my life these days though I should probably throw in the fact that most of that is due to the fact that I have become completely and totally disorganized as of late.  Time management has gone right out the window along with organization and good intentions.  Perhaps the three of them have gone on holiday and left me behind to fend for myself?  The buggers!

At any rate, until I can sort of get my act together, I'm going to step away from the blog for just a little bit until I get some appointments made, some packages mailed, some letters written, some housecleaning accomplished, and a few other things done.  I don't suspect it will be long but I just didn't want anyone thinking I'd dropped off the side of the earth (just in case anyone might wonder at all where I've gotten off to).  I anticipate being back around by Wednesday at the latest and then maybe I can finally finish up my posts from Vermont!  Maybe!

Now be good and don't get into any trouble you can't get yourselves out of while I'm gone!  And if you do have to get yourself into trouble, make it of the fun variety!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Connecticut Overruns Its Banks in Massachusetts

Yesterday afternoon Amanda and I made the drive up to Amherst, Massachusetts where her friend Sami goes to college so that the girls could spend some time visiting as well as go see the new Jude Law movie, Repo Men. As long as you can avoid the rush hour traffic through both Hartford and Springfield, it's not that bad of a drive and even though the day had started out overcast and blah, it had cleared up considerably by the time we got to our destination - though it was a lot colder than I would have liked as we seem to have taken a couple steps backward in the temperature department.

The recent heavy rains here in the Northeast have been playing havoc with local rivers and flooding has been a definite problem in some areas. That was very evident when, on our way back towards Sami's campus, we passed a section of the Connecticut River that had flooded over quite a ways and turned trees that were once standing on dry ground into trees standing in the middle of what looked like a lake. Amanda suggested we stop so that I could take a few pictures as she thought it looked pretty cool.

With the sun just starting to set, I didn't have much for lighting but I think you can sort of get an idea what the flooding looks like - though picture above probably looks more like the sun setting behind a pond or something!

This one probably looks more like a pond or lake, too, though I was standing pretty much by the side of the road when I took it and you can see that the closer trees are standing in water.

Ah, there we go - that one finally has a slightly better angle where you can see that there are lots of trees standing in water that shouldn't be there!

I call this last picture "A Flooded Tangle" - which is actually how I feel sometimes!  Again, you can't see a whole lot per say but if you let your imagination look at it rather than your eyes then I think it's a better picture than it might be otherwise.

Luckily this flooding was only affecting the landscape and not anyone's homes but if we get more rain before the rivers get a chance to go down, that may not always be the case.  And I think there's rain in the forecast for sometime very soon.  Ut-oh.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Five on Friday - Danny Elfman

For this week's version of Travis' Five on Friday meme, in keeping with my sort-of-theme of movie music composers I thought I'd go with yet another of Amanda's favorites - Daniel Robert "Danny" Elfman.  In addition to composing music for television and movies, Elfman is best known for leading the rock band Oingo Boingo as a singer/songwriter from 1976 until its breakup in 1995.
Beginning with PeeWee's Big Adventure in 1985, Elfman has been scoring movies ever since and has been nominated for four Academy Awards as well as won a Grammy Award for Tim Burton's Batman.  He additionally won an Emmy Award for his Desperate Housewives theme and is well-known for creating The Simpsons main title theme.  Among Tim Burton fans, Elfman is famous for his role as Jack Skellington's singing voice in The Nightmare Before Christmas - one of Amanda's favorite movies (as a matter of fact, she insisted I add a sixth song to this week's post as it just didn't seem right to her that I not have one of his songs as Jack Skellington; consequently you'll find a You Tube video below the player with a song clip.)

If you're familiar with Danny Elfman's work and wondering why it seems that he scores almost all of Tim Burton's movies, that would be because they're good friends and he has, in fact, scored all but Ed Wood and Sweeney Todd - and that includes the recently released Alice in Wonderland.  It seems like some movie directors and music producers just go together and that's definitely the case here! Burton has said of his relationship with Elfman, "We don't even have to talk about the music. We don't even have to intellectualize – which is good for both of us, we're both similar that way. We're very lucky to connect." (Breskin, 1997)

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If you want to connect with some more great music, don't forget to pop by Trav's Thoughts and check out the other Five on Friday memers (is that a word?) to see/hear what they've got to offer!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Take This Tune - The "Caught in a Trap" Version

Jamie from Duward Discussion also hosts Take This Tune which - generally speaking - is a Monday meme wherein she gives us a video prompt and then we are to write whatever pops into our little old heads in regards to the prompt.  It's a pretty cool meme and as it's related to music, I thoroughly enjoy it but - to be honest - Mondays are tough for me what with that whole working-16-hours-on-Sunday thing.  I've tried being organized enough to do the post ahead of time on Saturday being that the prompt is up on the previous Friday but alas, the ducks that I used to have in a row have scattered all over the place and I can't seem to get my blact (that's blogging + act in the Queen's Blenglish) together.  Hence the reason you get a Monday meme on Thursday.  Ah well, the world's not blerfect, is it?  And bletter blate than blever, right?

Alright then, enough foolishness!  This week's video prompt came courtesy of Alannah Myles belting out Black Velvet in tribute to the King and not the whiskey - Elvis Presley himself.  Now I suppose that by all counts I could be old enough to be one of those girls who thought Elvis was all that and a bag of chips as well as several different sides of dip but truth be told, I don't recall ever being gaga over the guy.  His first single Love Me Tender came out in 1956 when I wasn't even a twinkle in my mother's eye and by the time he made his big comeback television special in 1968 I was still only ten years old and more interested in Little Joe on Bonanza (Michael Landon was totally dreamy when he was younger!) than I was about the guy with the swivel hips who shocked and rocked a nation.

That's not to say the fella didn't have songs that I liked as he did - Can't Help Falling in Love, She's Not You, A Little Less Conversation, and my all-time favorite - Suspicious Minds. Leave it to me to be enamored of a song about being trapped in a mistrusting and dysfunctional relationship!

Suspicious Minds, written by Houston songwriter Mark James, aka Frank Zambon, was widely regarded as the single that jump-started Presley's career after that comeback special that I mentioned above. Elvis hadn't been doing live stage performances during most of the 60's as he was concentrating mostly on Hollywood movies and soundtrack albums but in 1968 he re-energized his career with the help of the Singer Sewing Machine Company who sponsored his '68 Comeback Special on NBC. The show led to an extended Las Vegas concert residency and a string of profitable tours including the first concert broadcast globally via satellite, Aloha from Hawaii, which was seen by approximately 1.5 billion viewers - I was not one.

Elvis recorded Suspicious Minds along with at least another two hit singles that are on my "List of Elvis Songs I Like" - In the Ghetto and Kentucky Rain - during the 13-day recording span (the so-called "Memphis Sessions")  in February of 1969 at American Sound Studio in Tennessee.  The song was first performed at the Las Vegas Hilton on July 31st, 1969 and the 45-rpm single was released that fall.  It reached number one in the United States the week of November 1st and stayed there for just that one week before it was booted off the top spot by The Fifth Dimension's Wedding Bell Blues on November 8th.  Ah yes, another song right up my alley with dual themes of adoring love and frustrated lament. ... sigh ...  Anyhow, Suspicious Minds would be Presley's final number-one single in the U.S. before his death in August of 1977 due to a compromised health system from prescription drug abuse - talk about being caught in a trap and can't walk out.

Ah well, as the song goes "If there's a rock and roll heaven, you know they've got a hell of a band" ...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tesla Talks

Hey, internet peeps, Tesla here ... the lady who writes this blog says I can't have my own blog as she barely has time to keep up with this one as well as visit all the others she has in whatever that thing called a Google Reader is blah, blah, blah but I think I've talked her into letting me do a post once in awhile.  We came to that understanding this morning when I had decided she'd been in bed more than long enough and it was time for me to go in and wake her up.  Nothing like a nose in the face to start the day I always say!

Anyhow, it's her day off so I sent her off to the store to go get some decent people-food so that I can stop listening to the kid that lives here whine about the fact that there's nothing to eat in the house.  Oh wahh!  There's plenty of kibble and the occasional can of Fancy Feast so I don't know what she's carping about all the time - not that I plan on sharing with her, mind you, as I never see her offering me even a smidgen of whatever she's eating but listening to her constant complaints is enough to drive a cat crazy!

Of course, I also figure that when the lady gets back from the store she'll have a new toy for me as she always seems to bring one home in the hopes that I'll play with it rather than all the other neat stuff around the house I've been finding to get into.  The kid hasn't learned how to put her stuff away yet and boy howdy, she's got some fun things to bat around the floor!

Until the lady gets back, though, I guess I'll just settle into her bed and have myself a nice cat nap.

Oh, and don't worry, I'll tell her to go by and visit all of you when she gets home ... I think she's a couple days behind as that thing she calls "work" keeps getting in the way.  Of course, "work" is what makes all my new toys possible so I guess it's an okay thing. Now if you'll excuse me, I have new toys to dream of and some energy to renew so I can get into more trouble cute antics!  Later, peeps!

Update:  The lady came back from the store mumbling something about "it doesn't look like almost $170 worth of stuff, no wonder I have to work all the time!" but the good news is she bought a new toy - a bird-like thing that tweets when I swat at it and seems to smell of catnip.  I'm afraid I've been making a fool of myself with the thing ever since but what can I say?  I do love new toys!  And even better - the constant tweeting is driving the kid crazy!  Woot!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Visiting Vermont, Part Seven

Perhaps I should more appropriately title this post "The Stuff Around the Inn That I Stayed At" as today's pictures are going to be from two places just up and down Darling Hill Road from The Wildflower Inn.

Wednesday, March 3rd, dawned - but just barely!  The sun was trying mightily to shine over the mountains that could be seen from the back door of my room but alas, it wasn't really having much luck.

I wasn't doing such a good job of rising and shining myself either as I awoke with a slightly upset stomach and had a couple of Pepto Bismol tablets for breakfast rather than going over to the farmhouse for a nice breakfast of pancakes and fresh Vermont maple syrup.  I still had the local covered bridges to scope out as well as a couple of other stops I wanted to make along the way home so I convinced myself that minor intestinal trouble wasn't going to keep me from getting some pictures as I managed to get myself checked out and on the road around 9:30 or so.

My first stop was just up the road on Darling Hill to take some pictures of a lovely Vermont-farm-turned-inn that I had passed on my way in the first night.

In case you can't read that second sign, it says: "This farm was established in 1883 by Elmer A. Darling (1848-1931), a native of East Burke who became part owner/manager of the world famous Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York City.  After the hotel closed in 1908, Mr. Darling retired to the life of a gentleman farmer and raised prize-winning Morgan horses and Jersey cattle. The farm also produced the choice "Darling" brand of cheeses and butter.  At its zenith, his prosperous Mountain View Farm included Burke Mountain and extended over 7,000 acres."  Can you imagine owning 7,000 acres and a mountain??

Burklyn Hall, as mentioned on the first part of the sign, was this amazing house that stood high on a hill closer to the Wildflower Inn.  Apparently it's a private residence though I can only imagine how much money you'd have to have in order to maintain a mansion like that!

Isn't it just gorgeous?  Can you imagine waking up there every morning?!  Hokey smokes, Bullwinkle! Not that I'd want the electric bill, though!  At any rate, I wish the Inn had been open as I would loved to have toured the grounds but alas, there was nary a soul around except for what looked like a couple people down at the barn tending the horses as the Inn at Mountain View Farm is only open from May to October.

The rest of the farm is down the road and across the street from Burklyn Hall, from which I'm sure Mr. Darling had a commanding view, and it's not too shabby itself with quite a few impressive buildings.

I would loved to have walked down to this beautiful barn and taken some closer pictures but I didn't want to be trespassing someplace I wasn't supposed to be so I stayed on the road and took pictures from there of the creamery, the piggery, the dairy, and the other buildings.  One of the things that I really loved about Mountain View Farm was that every building had its own cupola which really added extra character.

I'm afraid the weathervane with the "D" for Darling was in a bit of a need of repair though as it looked like it was listing to the west a little bit!

Oh, and lest I forget this is the mountain view that Mountain View Farm is named for - I can only imagine how much nicer it looks on a day with some sunshine and autumn foliage.  I bet it takes one's breath away.

Burke Mountain has an elevation of 3,267 feet with 15,826-acre Victory State Forest located on its western side where you can find Darling State Park which is made up on some of Mr. Darling's 7,000 acres that he gave to the state of Vermont.  Apparently it's a popular location for hunting, hiking, camping, and spotting wildlife like red fox, moose, black bear, and white-tailed deer.  Had I been on a wildlife photo expedition rather than covered bridges, it probably would have been a good place to go though I'm pretty sure I could do without any close encounters with moose and/or bear!  I just don't run that fast!

Before taking my leave of Darling Hill Road there was one more stop I wanted to make and that was at a small chapel that I could see from the Wildflower Inn. The Chapel of the Holy family was built over a two year period and was completed in the summer of 2007 as a promise kept to Our Lady by whose intercession the owner's business flourished after it was consecrated to her.

The business in question is the Meadow View Farm owned by the Downing Family which borders the Wildflower Inn.  The Downings raise Belted Galloways, also known as Belties.  Chances are good that the cheeseburger I had my first night in Vermont came from the Downings' herd but truth be told, I'd rather not know where my cheeseburger originated as then I feel really guilty about it.  The farm also has Beltie Pigs and from what I understand it's a popular spot for families in the summer to bring the kids - as long as you don't tell the kids that's where their next meal may be coming from I'm sure!  Sometimes I guess I can understand how/why people become vegeterians ...

Anyhow, The Chapel of the Holy Family is open daily to visitors according to the sign by the road so even though I'm neither Catholic nor a big fan of organized religion due to previous life experiences that I won't get into here, I do believe in God and I love going to churches and chapels and the like as I find them to be very uplifting. The chapel rather reminded me a bit of a modern-day version of the old missions in California.

It really was a lovely chapel and very peaceful and calming - as a matter of fact, I even forgot that my stomach was bothering me while I was there enjoying the quiet organ music that was playing as I took in the beauty of the stained glass windows and the simplicity of a place that was obviously built from love and devotion. 

Taking my leave from The Chapel, I made my way down Darling Hill Road in search of Lyndonville's covered bridges - a post that I will hopefully get to tomorrow before I forget all of the places that I went!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Oh Blah Dee Oh Blah Day ...

Unlike others in the household I'm feeling tired and uninspired today.  I'm sure it has nothing to do with the 56-hour week I just worked or the one that I'm also doing this week - nah, I'm used to the long work hours so I'm sure it's got to be something else.  Perhaps it's a lack of caffeine?  Perhaps it's the fact that the beautiful sunshine we'd been having has turned to rain for the next couple of days?  Or perhaps it's because I am truly disappointed in our country right now?  If something doesn't work the way it is, you don't just push it through anyway, you fix it first and then see if it works but I guess that's just not the way things work in Washington. 

Oh well, at least maybe now our President can stop sounding like he's still campaigning and act like a real President - though I'm not going to hold my breath on that one.  Sorry, this is politics isn't it?  I shouldn't write about politics as it tends to put people at polar opposites; just know that I don't mean to offend anyone - I'm just very, very disappointed that it's politics as usual in Washington without regard for what the people want. 

I'm going to get more caffeine ...