Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Future is Looking Bright!

Holy krap! We're in the last week of June already, aren't we? That's okay though as I've got plans that I've been looking forward to this last upcoming weekend of the month as well as the first few days of July so I don't really need a Fortune Teller to predict that good times are ahead in my future!

With the Fourth of July holiday just about one week away from today, what plans are in your future?  Do you have a family barbecue, take in a dazzling fireworks display, go to a parade, or just enjoy an extra day off from work (those of you who work traditional jobs that is!)

Whatever your plans I hope they're happy ones with good times and good friends - I know mine are!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Weather and Wandering

I don't know about in your part of the world but when Summer arrived this past Wednesday, it brought with it a rather nasty heat wave filled with all the things I dislike the most about New England summers - haze, heat, and humidity.  Ugh!  Thankfully it only lasted three days - just long enough to be recorded as a heat wave in the annals of meteorology! - before some pretty severe thunderstorms blew through the region on Friday evening and cleared things out.

Even though some pretty impressive dark clouds rolled into town, we didn't get much to speak of here in Norwich but rumor has it that a lot of other parts of the state saw hail, lightning, and lots of thunder.  I was a little disappointed that we didn't get the big storm as I do enjoy a nice thunderstorm but as we all know, there's certainly no controlling Mother Nature!

The weather didn't really bother me too much as I spent the majority of the heat wave working but it certainly increased the number of 911 calls that we got - to no one's surprise at all.  I oftentimes wonder how we all managed to survive before the advent of air-conditioning and things like "cooling centers" that are quick to open when the temperatures reach a certain level.

I've got an air-conditioner in my bedroom as well as one in the living room along with several fans spread throughout the house so it doesn't get too uncomfortable at all in the house but I remember one summer long ago, when I was about 14 years old, when we lived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in government housing on Pease Air Force Base where there was certainly no air-conditioning and we kids didn't even have the luxury of a fan in our rooms.  It was about as oppressive as it gets with nary a breeze to stir the air so, in what was probably total desperation, I got out of bed, went into the bathroom, filled the sink full of cold water, and stuck my head in the sink in an effort to cool down some! I guess even back then I was blessed with a little bit of my ancestors' Yankee ingenuity!

Anyway, all weather aside - and I'm sure we'll have at least another heat wave or two before the summer is over - I wanted to mention that there's a new post up at Travels With Nathaniel  that you might find interesting even if you aren't going to be doing any traveling here on the East Coast. If you've got a moment, stop by Be Adventurous and Explore Provincetown at the Tip of Cape Cod Just Like the Pilgrims Did in 1620 ... Just Don't Take a Slow, Leaky Boat to Get There! and you might just learn a bit of America's history that you didn't know before - honest!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Just Daydreaming Again ...

I came across a place where I'd like to live at the very end of Bearskin Neck on the tip of Cape Ann in Rockport ...

It doesn't look like much from the outside and I suspect that the neighborhood is none too peaceful - especially at the height of tourist season - but it's got a great view that I certainly wouldn't mind looking at year-round ...

Of course, I'm sure it costs an arm and a leg to live there and they require a year's lease and I've yet to win the lottery so that I can just go be a bum with a camera but I've pretty much fallen in love with Rockport and it's charm and views ...

But mostly I've fallen in love with the sky and the water and the light that just takes my breath away at its sheer beauty ...

Funny, I always thought that I was more of a "mountain" person than an "ocean" person but I do believe that I am rapidly changing my mind on that one.  Must be the old New Englander in me!

Ah well, a girl's gotta dream, right?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Greetings from the North Shore!

I know, you're all totally shocked and awed that I'm back up this way again, aren't you?! I'm doing some traveling with Nathaniel while celebrating Amanda's birthday at my favorite hotel which works out really well for her as some of the friends that she made while going to college up here are gathering to celebrate the day with her. Which leaves me free to wander around and take way too many more pictures!

Speaking of which, I was in Rockport last night and I got to experience some of that "magical light" that artists flock there for so decided to embrace a little bit of my own inner artist ...

Even though Rockport is a major tourist destination in the summer and there are way too many people around at that time, as I was taking pictures last night I could certainly understand just why people visit there and why they stay there. Personally, I could look at something like this for an awful long time and never get tired of it.  Maybe it just calls to the New Englander in me but I just love this picture even though I've never had a desire to spend my life on a ship or a boat!

Anyhow, I must off - there are wanderings to be had and history to be found and birthday Bismarcks to be brought back to the hotel room!

A very happy birthday to not just my oldest daughter who has somehow reached the age of 20 already but to my mother who is ageless in my own humble opinion! May both of their days be wonderful and the year ahead even better than today!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Introducing "Travels With Nathaniel" - One of the Reasons I Spend So Much Time in Salem Lately Other Than I Love It Up There!

Most of you have probably noticed that I seem to wander up to Salem, Massachusetts on a pretty frequent basis lately - even more so than I did when Amanda was briefly attending college in Beverly at the Montserrat College of Art.  There's been good reason for that other than the fact that I really love it up there and have made some wonderful friends in Salem with whom I enjoy spending time with as often as possible; I've been working on a project for the Hawthorne Hotel and I'm happy to say that today that project has been launched.

I am pleased and even a bit nervous to introduce Travels With Nathaniel - a travel blog that I am writing in conjunction with the Hawthorne Hotel which will provide guests of the hotel with information and ideas on historic places to visit as possible day trips from the hotel.  As a member of Historic Hotels of America, the Hawthorne feels that it's important to give their guests the opportunity to visit more of the history that's located nearby - and not just in Salem itself - and this new blog will hopefully help them to do that.

When I was first approached by the hotel this past winter about taking on this project I had no hesitation at all in saying something along the lines of "Heck, yeah!"  I mean, really, this is like a dream come true in that I get to search out history and then write about it and share it with others (hmmm, sound at all familiar??) but this time I'll have a wider audience.  Add on the fact that the Hawthorne plans to eventually take the posts and turn them into a book and how could I say 'no'?  The thought never even crossed my mind!

This isn't a project that will go on forever as we have a list of places that I am working off of but in the meantime, yes, it takes up a lot of time that I might have used otherwise writing posts here or at The Distracted Wanderer but that's perfectly okay by me as I am totally loving working on this new project.  I've found some absolutely wonderful places to visit and learned so much interesting history along the way while putting the Nikon through its paces and I wouldn't trade that for anything!   Add on the fact that my traveling companion - little Nathaniel up there - has made my wanderings even more interesting and fun as people stop and ask me what on earth I'm doing when photographing him (generally at arm's length it seems); when I explain it to them they have all, without a single exception, said "What fun!" and "What a great idea!" and I can't help but agree as what a terrific way to bring history to people. And you all know how much I love history!

I want to also take the time here to say thank you to my friend Claire -aka The Doodologist - who has been a great source of inspiration and encouragement as I've been putting this new blog together, and to Juli and Kristie of the Hawthorne without whom there would even be a project and who have provided me with everything I need to get it going - especially the fact that they believe in me and trust me to do this project right.  Ladies, you are all wonderful!

So, if you get the chance, pop on over to Travels With Nathaniel and tell me what you think. We'll be publishing a new travel post each Monday and Friday and even if you aren't a guest of the Hawthorne Hotel, I hope that there will be some interesting history that you'll like so much that maybe - just maybe - you'll be inspired enough to eventually BE a guest of the Hawthorne Hotel so you can see some of the great things I've seen in one of the most history-rich areas of the country.

In the meantime, I'm busy but I'm definitely lovin' it!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Checking In on a Sunny Sunday

Just popping in to make sure I occasionally post something over here in order to keep the cobwebs to a minimum!  Life has been keeping me busy and time just keeps on tick-tick-ticking by at a rather alarming rate it seems but considering I've got lots of things to look forward to I guess I don't really mind all that much!

Yesterday Amanda and I took a drive up to my cousin's house (also my former sister-in-law as she is married to my ex's brother) in Shirley, Massachusetts (believe it or not, I wasn't even near Salem!) to help celebrate their daughter Vicky's graduation from high school.  Vicky is only a few months older than Jamie and will be on her way to college in Vermont to study musical theater at the end of the summer. Pretty impressive!  Vicky's sister, Tegan, attends Montserrat where Amanda used to go which gives them a lot to talk about when they get together and always makes me feel badly that Amanda isn't able to attend there anymore.

We had a talk about it on the drive home and Amanda understands completely why she isn't still there and even apologized that I used my retirement fund for her to attend for just a year and wasn't able to go back.  The way I look at it is that I was willing to take that gamble and it did give her the opportunity to go out and meet new people as well as opening a lot of doors for me in giving me the chance to meet the folks that I have in Salem.  Sure, it cost a lot but I don't consider it money to be thrown away. After all, I was never going to be able to retire on that pittance anyway! Besides, if one of these darned lottery tickets I've been buying lately ever manages to do something other than mock me then I won't have to worry about retirement and I'll be happy to send Amanda back to college to wherever she'd like without the fear of huge student loans hanging over her head!

Speaking of college, Jamie has decided that rather than go to Winnipeg with her friend that they are going to stay in Toronto in the hopes of going to college there and finding a job.  Her friend Wryan has a friend Kat who works in placement and she said that she's pretty sure she can get them set; in the meantime they're staying with her and hitting the bricks to make things happen.  Knowing that she really wants to be able to stay in Canada and be with her friends there, I sincerely hope that this current plan works out plus Toronto is a lot closer than Winnipeg so if things do work out and she wants me to bring up her things and see where she's at, etc. then I can do that a lot easier than I could if she was in Manitoba.  For now I'm going to adopt a wait-and-see attitude and hope for the best - for both girls.

One of the more interesting aspects of last night's graduation party was that I saw my former in-laws for the first time in probably about 12 years; it had been just about that long since Amanda had seen them either.  She used to hear from them occasionally when she still lived with her father but has had absolutely no contact with them since she came to live with me in October of 2005.  I wasn't sure if it was going to be awkward or not but as it turned out Georgette, my ex's step-mom, came over and gave me a big hug and said how good it was to see me again.  She always understood all of the issues that I'd had with my ex and I'm sure she wasn't surprised in the least when I divorced him; it took my former father-in-law a little longer to talk to me but when I left I gave them both hugs and wished them safe travels back to Florida when they return in several weeks.  I still think it stinks that they never really seemed to give a hoot about Amanda and Jamie but there's nothing I can do about that; I just wish the girls had been able to have memories of their grandparents like I have of mine.  Ah well, at least my Mom is nearby and she's always been good to the girls.

On a final note, my get-together with Barb in July has gone from a single day in Newburyport with a whale watch to that plus three nights at my favorite hotel on the North Shore with fireworks and distracted wanderings and Lord knows what else yet as I'm not done planning.  Barb has officially been designated a Distracted Sidekick and I'll also be assigning her "take pictures from the passenger seat" duties for which I will reward her with a glass of wine or two!  I am totally looking forward to showing a displaced-Bay Stater some wonderful places in her own home state!  Heck, depending on how things go, I may even sneak her over the New Hampshire border too!

Like I said, lots to look forward to! 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday Musings by Moi!

Whoa ... who turned the heat off?  June 4th and it's a blistering 59 degrees outside!  Mother Nature is definitely back to her old tricks!  Last Monday we were all sweating in 88 degrees with high humidity and today I've got all the windows closed and am wearing my warm robe and slippers.  It gets any colder and I'll be lighting a fire in the fireplace!

Had a nice visit with my mom yesterday; Amanda and I went up and took her for a drive to get her out of the house for a little bit in between rain showers.  We'd had such a deluge of rain on Saturday I think a lot of us were looking to get out and enjoy some sun even if only briefly. Mom seems to be doing great and one would be hard-pressed to tell that she'd ever had a stroke a little less than a month ago.  Just to be safe and to give her more of a sense of security, she's using a cane which I think is a great idea - there are times when I've thought it might not be a bad idea to have one myself! - but beyond that she's doing really, really well.  Once again thank you all for the positive thoughts and prayers that I'm sure helped immensely in her recovery.

As my mom and I were talking about how quickly the rhododendrons had gone by this year it dawned on me that yesterday was the 36th anniversary of my graduation from high school - holy krap!  Where has the time gone? In just a few short days it will be another 36th anniversary - this time of the day that I left for Air Force Basic Training as I boarded a bus in Willimantic (from that very spot) for Springfield, Massachusetts and the Armed Services Center where I met up with my recruiter, did the final official swearing-in, and then got on a plane for the very first time in Hartford to make my way to Lackland Air Force Base and six weeks of hard work, discipline, and fun.  It was June 7th, a mere four days after graduation, and I was only 17 at the time - younger than both of my girls are now.

Speaking of my girls, Jamie has been up in Toronto visiting a friend and has asked if she can stay in Canada longer and go back to Winnipeg to stay with the same friend that she was visiting last year.  She's been talking about going back ever since she got home and she's already partway there so I think I'm going to go ahead and let her stay.  Technically she's almost 19 and could certainly make that decision on her own but if she wants me to buy her bus ticket to Manitoba then she needs my permission!  If she and Amanda got along better here at home then I would be more inclined to tell her she needs to come back to Connecticut but she made a lot of friends when she was in Winnipeg last year and is hopeful that she can somehow figure out a way to permanently move to Canada so I think I should give her the chance to find that out for sure.  I'll miss her but I won't miss the tension between she and Amanda.

I'm still trying to adjust to my new work schedule - as is Amanda who is totally confused on what day it is! - and I'm going to totally confuse both she and I later this week as I switched a Thursday evening shift for a Friday evening shift so I can go see "Man of LaMancha" at the University of Connecticut with my cousins and also picked up an overtime shift on Sunday evening.  No doubt we'll both be wondering what day it is by the end of the week or beginning of next week or whenever that is!

And on a final note, even though I should have been out cruising to Canada with Barb this week on the Carnival Glory (a cruise we had to cancel for various and assorted reasons that were much more important than piano bars and room service and things like that), we have booked another cruise for the first part of July.

The Prince of Whales out of Newburyport, Massachusetts may not have a piano bar but they've got wine and whale sightings are guaranteed!  Barb will be up visiting her SistersDear later on this month and we're going to get together for some fun on the not-quite-as-high seas along with a few other activities that I've yet to determine but give me time and I'm sure I'll come up with something!

Hmm, I wonder if we should wear our tiaras?!?