Monday, June 30, 2008

Enough, already! More on oil, too.

We have arrived at the last day of June. It would be wonderful if it were the last day of this June’s weather, too. I know we’ve had long spells of rotten weather before; in fact, seems to me we had quite a spell of snow just last winter. But this is the time of year we’re supposed to be outside, to be enjoying the world around us, soaking up the sun and vitamin D, and reaping the rewards of making it through the winter.

Today is still very wet outside, and weather guy Kevin says we may get some hazy sun a little later this morning, but about all that will do is brew up some more showers and thundershowers. From what he says, we could have a small round of showers to bring us July tomorrow, but Wednesday should be nice; and after a little activity Thursday afternoon, we might finally get a reasonably good Holiday Weekend.

For right now, today, I am totally sick and tired of all this crummy weather. The dampness has gotten into every old bone in my body. I’m sure there must be one in there somewhere that doesn’t hurt, but I’d be hard pressed to tell you where. If this were another time of year, I’d be tempted to quote Old Scrooge in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. “Bah! Humbug!”

Have you ever noticed how NASCAR, and most other sporting events as well, work very hard to find people to sing the National Anthem that can’t sing it? Not only that, most of those singers feel that they and the songs they make up are the absolute prime reason all the fans are there and that they alone are the center of attention. And speaking of NASCAR, if “Gentlemen, start your engines” are the most famous words in all auto racing, why do they have to tell us every single event that they are “The most famous words in all of racing?”

I spent some time over the weekend reading a forum where drilling for oil was a main topic of discussion. The sides were split which usually makes for good discussion. One side seems to be saying that drilling won’t help because we don’t know what it will do to the environment in the future and we should study it. They also argue that what we need is more conservation and the development of alternate energy sources. The other side agrees drilling will take time to have any effect on our crisis, but it will give us the necessary time to develop alternatives.

I think the weakest argument is the one that says we don’t know about the future. If we did know about the future, we just might not want to bother going on. My wife and I like to travel by car. We strike out each year, this one being an exception due to gas prices, on a tour of some part of the country. If we worried that such a trip might result in a car wreck, or worse, we would never go anywhere. I probably could write all day about such ridiculous scenarios, but they’re no different than not improving our future because of what it might do.

On the other hand, right now we’re almost totally dependent on our oil from other countries, many of which we try to convince ourselves are friendly but at the same time knowing they are funding groups determined to bring us down. Our in-ground oil supply ranks right up there with theirs and I believe we must become independent of them. As I understand it, we’ve already developed the technology to make drilling safe. Can we guarantee there will be no disasters? Can we guarantee a big truck won’t hit us when we cross a roadway? Of course not. But we’ve learned to take precautions to limit that danger and still cross a roadway.

I read a poll over the weekend, a Gallup one I believe, that indicated that the vast majority of Americans favor drilling. I’m not a big fan of polls because they can easily be skewed to show intended results. But one that goes against the party in power raises an eyebrow.

As I said a week or so ago, this is an interesting debate and one that will continue on and on right into November. It’ll probably continue periodically here, too.

GiM

Saturday, June 28, 2008

More than enough water for one storm!

A few days ago I mentioned that my little corner of the world had gotten a real gully washer. Well, I was wrong. What we got then was just a tiny shower compared to what fell in my yard yesterday afternoon. That storm defined “gully washer.” In less than a half hour, my weather station rain gauge showed 1.35 inches of downfall.

I live well off the roadway as I’m sure you’ve read here before. I have only one reasonably close neighbor and our properties are separated by a drainage ditch. That ditch ranges from about two, maybe three, feet at its narrowest section, which is most of the ditch, to maybe four or five feet when it rains. Most of the time it’s only about six to eight inches deep, when it has any water in it at all. My neighbor used to have a black lab dog before age took him that laid down in the ditch to cool off.

We have a little bridge across the ditch to make crossing easier for me. Until just a few years ago before I messed up my hip, jumping the distance was no trouble. After I crushed my hip, the neighbor put up the little bridge.


When this picture was taken, the water had already begun to subside; but at the height of the storm, the floor of the bridge was totally engulfed.

From the bridge, you can see the anger of the now brook as it moves on down the drainage ditch.


About in the middles of the picture is an indication of the normal width of this little ditch.

On the neighbor's side of the ditch you can see how the water has climbed the banking. At this point, the top of the flow is about three feet above the normal flow, when there is flow.

More of the flooding of the flow on the neighbor's side. That little rock wall on our side help protect one of my wife's gardens.

Just before the convergence of the two driveways, the ditch has a pipe that carries the flow under the neighbor's driveway in a continuation of the ditch on the other side. The flow eventually heads out to sea, but that's a long way from here. In this picture, the water is pooling as it waits patiently for the flow through the pipe

As floodings go, ours wasn't anywhere near as severe or destructive as those in the Midwest this season, but it was an unusual happening in our little corner of the world

And the weather forecasters say we can have intermittent showers or thundershowers continuing through the weekend into Monday.

Speaking of Monday, we'll see you then. Have a great weekend.

GiM




Friday, June 27, 2008

Wow! Can it be Friday already?

It’s Friday. Again. It was last Friday only yesterday. But another week has really passed and we head into the final weekend of June. June was a very fast month. For those of you who haven’t reached your 70s yet, time speeds up exponentially as you pass through that time. So, here we are: Friday.

I’m watching the Ch. 6 weather gal as I jot this down. She’s telling us that after an unstable two or three days, beautiful weather should return to the area next Tuesday and possibly even remain with us for a few days. It’s a little cloudy here this morning; but as I type that, the sun comes out. I guess from the report we have a chance of clouds taking over somewhat a little later on today with the chance of some showers, possibly the noisy type, this afternoon and evening.

Like many people’s, my lawn needs mowing. I’m not sure I’ll get to it today before it gets damp out there. My machine doesn’t like dampness. Wife Gator is off at work this morning and she won’t get home until early afternoon. Because of an incident I had a few years back she doesn’t like me working outside when she’s not around. It’s a safety thing. So to mow or not to mow will be decided when she gets home. Sort of looks like if we don’t get it done this afternoon, it’ll be mowing a hay field next Tuesday.

As I understand it, this is the final weekend of signature collection for the People’s Veto of a massive tax increased on beverages and insurance passed in the midnight hours of the last session without public or business input. Petitions with somewhere around 56-thouand valid signatures must be submitted to the Secretary of State’s office by mid-July to suspend the tax increase that’s scheduled to begin then and get the question on the November general election ballot. The time between now and the deadline will be used to get the petitions certified by local election officials and then to the State.

As I said a few days ago, I have no clue if the drive is being successful or not. There has been very little information about it. I would think if it’s not getting the signatures it needs the organizers would be making loud requests for people to take advantage of a last minute push. Since I haven’t seen that, perhaps that push isn’t needed as they have all the signatures they need. I’ve checked a couple websites for progress information but haven’t found any. So after Sunday’s final collection day, I guess we all just wait and see.

I mentioned yesterday I like to do business with people I can see and that the oil company that had been servicing me for several years had closed its local office and now requires one to use a call center. I had more than two weeks of unsuccessful dealings with the call center so the other day notified the company I was cancelling and looking elsewhere. Yesterday I got a call from a company “advocate” making several offers to change the contract to make it better for me. I expressed my displeasure with the inability to talk face to face with a representative and the failure of the call center to meet my needs. He told me I would no longer have to deal with the call center. When I called, simply give them his extension number and he would be my personal advocate henceforth.

I told him I’d discuss it with my wife and get back to him. We talked it over and then visited a very reputable local oil service company and, guess what; we talked with someone face to face. In 15 minutes we had accomplished a task that more than two weeks failed to accomplish with the call center And, to my surprise, saved a bundle of money doing it. I called “my” advocate to tell him of our decision and ask for a refund of my balance from last year. I called the call center number, asked for the advocate’s extension.

I got voice mail!

I must be a dirty old man. It looks to me like one of the hostesses on the NBC Today Show is wearing her nighty this morning.

GiM

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A busy Thursday for us

Thursday, and I have once again completed my Senior Fitness program at a Physical Therapy center in a nearby city. I hate to admit it was more difficult this morning, but I have a little bit of steel and a few screws in my hip. The weather of the past several days has decided to hold its own arrangements with the gadget and even though yesterday was a beautiful, warm day, it was enough to get all that humidity out of the hip. I was slowed down in the routine this morning as I worked through the discomfort.

That reminds me of an incident I had shortly after my hip area was rebuilt a few years back. It is not an artificial hip because the break was not at the joint. I have a steel plate held there by several screws. During the rehabilitation period one of the screws began to back out. It seems I had a soft spot that didn’t want to hold it. I guess I literally proved to my friends I had a screw loose. It took a couple of operations before it finally held. The screw was secure, but that didn’t change my friends reminding me of the loose screw. Some say it still hasn’t been repaired.

Three years ago Wife Gator and I took a cruise and land tour and a second cruise in Alaska and Canada. Fortunately I only set off the alarm twice as we passed through security checks. In both instances I was lucky enough to get understanding agents. I also don’t look like terrorist. I say that not really having a clue what a terrorist looks like; but I’m an older person who’s really not in great shape. In one instance I was taken aside but when I explained I had a steel plate in my hip, the person offered to get me wheel chair assistance. The other person waved a wand around my body and it began to emit its tone. That was while the wand was next to my hip. Checking my pockets and getting an explanation got me through with no further questioning.

I would have gotten a letter from my doctor explaining the hip, but my ignorance convinced me that only at airports did people go through those electronic checks. I learned my lesson going back and forth between Canada and the U.S. on that trip, but I was grateful my explanations were accepted.

I mentioned my Senior Fitness class the other day. I got a nice note from a reader who gave me an address where I could get information on adding to my program by doing some home therapy. I did check it out and am evaluating whether to take advantage or not, but I did appreciate the comment feedback.

A real busy day is in store for WG and me. We have some important errands to accomplish. One of them involves a necessary trip into Intown Portland, always a “thrill.” I know what we need to do, but I have no idea where or how to do it. This trip will be an adventure. I’m also going to change oil companies. I just a little unhappy with the one I’ve had for several years. It has moved offices out of our area and communications now need to be done through a call center. I’ve been trying with no success so another company, one with a local office, will be getting my business as soon as we set up an account. There’s nothing like face to face dealings to get situations resolved. I’m not a fan of having to go through a call center somewhere else.

Either breakfast at IHOP in South Portland or lunch at Harmon’s in Falmouth is also on the agenda. Which will get our business won’t be decided until the car is pulling out of the driveway and we see what time we get started.

There are some other items we must take care of today, too, so it’s going to be a long one

GiM

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A really nice Wednesday

The last Wednesday of the month is, as you know, one of my favorite days. This is the day my group of retired friends meets for lunch and good discussions. We all retired from the same place so that institution is usually one of our topics. There will be one “seasonal” member joining us for the first time since he returned from his Florida home a few weeks ago. His main residence is in Florida but he returns to Maine for the summer months.

What a beautiful day this beginning portends! The day dawned with beautiful skies and bright sunshine, almost like it did yesterday. There’s one difference, the weather is being driven by a high pressure system which means we should remain a nice day throughout. Yesterday deteriorated rapidly in the afternoon and by late afternoon some serious thunder boomers paraded through the region. For the second day in a row, we had some real downpours but the thunder, unlike previous afternoons, was almost on top of us. There was one time I counted just one second between the flash and the boom. My little weather station recorded more than a half inch of new rain.

The Red Sox finally found their bats again last night and pulled out a come-from-behind victory over the Diamondbacks. I read about the game this morning. I’m among the minority that doesn’t like these interleague games and so I don’t watch them. Of course I wouldn’t have watched last night anyway as Game Two of the College World Series was on. Being a Gator, I was hoping the SEC Georgia would win, but, alas! they lost a squeaker. 19-10, I think, was the final score as Fresno State evened up the best of three series. The last game of the college season will be played tonight…winner takes all.

MaineToday.com is reporting this morning that the Portland School Committee will be asked to consider putting a wind turbine at the East End Community School. The first step would be to put up a small tower to measure the amount of wind at the location and to learn if it could sustain enough energy. Isn’t the school on the Eastern Promenade, or close to it, in Portland? My first reaction is that if it’s the school I think it is, then that location should be a fantastic location for wind right off the bay. In any case, I think it’s good that the school department is at least positively looking for fresh energy sources.

I’m a dog person. I love dogs. I’m not a cat person. Now I don’t hate cats, but I’m not sure one would ever find a home in my house. Yes, I am. I’m sure it wouldn’t happen. That said, the young woman who helped me start this blogging business last December is a cat person. She has two, one of which is a new one she obtained to fill a void left by another that passed. Her usual knitting blog has been filled with tales of the new arrival for the past week or so. Today she has a picture on the blog that warms the heart of even non-cat people. It is a precious picture. If you’d like to see it (and read an excellent blog that sets up the picture beautifully) visit Sheepish Annie and scroll to the end of today’s post. Be prepared to utter an “Oooooh.”

There are several petitions floating around Maine, including a couple that are so-called “People’s Veto” of laws enacted last session by the legislature. The deadline for these particular petitions is rapidly approaching. It seems to me the organizers are being very quiet on their progress. I wonder how they’re doing, if they are approaching their nearly 56-thousand signature goals or if they’ll blow away in the wind by the mid-July deadline. I certainly have no clue. It wouldn’t take much imagination to figure out the news media doesn’t support them considering the progress reports, or lack of them, in the news.

A great day is in store for us. According to all reports, the weather should be great all day and I’m betting on great conversation at lunch time with some very good fellow retirees.

GiM

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What do do about energy?

Those rains came again yesterday afternoon. We did hear some thunder way off in the distance, but I didn’t see any lightning in my neighborhood and, as I said, what thunder we heard was a long way off. But the downpours! Oh, those downpours! My weather station’s rain gauge tripled in depth in just a couple hours of rain. I think the weather gods got together and said, “That gator guy has been dissing us for a week now about no rain in his neighborhood. Let’s show him.” I think the ten successive days that many others got were all crammed into two afternoons at my house.

Today dawned with nice blue skies and plenty of sunshine. Now at mid-morning not much has changed, except it has gotten a little warmer; but the weather guy on TV said this morning to just wait a while. More is on the way.

I attended my Senior Fitness workout as usual for Tuesday mornings, but then cheated again. It’s beginning to happen about once a month when I stop by a nearby donut store on my way home. Today’s selection was really fresh. Wife Gator seemed elated I had stopped. I reminded her I wasn’t going to let this develop into a habit, but once a month seems O.K.

I find myself “entertained” with the suggestions I’ve been reading and hearing about the upcoming winter’s heating costs. Most of the suggestions deal with taking measures to make sure the home is ready to save as much energy as possible. You know, check things like windows and doors leaking air letting heat escape. The ideas of plentiful and I won’t go into them here, but no one seems to tell me how much I’ll have to spend to renovate my home to increase its energy efficiency. If I do nothing, I know I’ll be spending somewhere in the vicinity of four thousand dollars for oil. Is it worth it to spend a couple thousand dollars or more replacing windows, doors, etc., to save perhaps a thousand on oil?

Probably for the long run. But at my age, I wonder how much longer the run will be.

I’m already conserving as much as I can. I’ve cut my driving down so much I sometimes wonder if we still need two cars. Both are paid for so the question becomes, “Does it cost less to drive two cars, say 500 miles, or one car for a thousand?” The two cars don’t normally go to the same places. Of course there’s some speciousness in my question, but I don’t care; it’s my question. I can easily demonstrate I drive less. I get a free oil change every 5,000 miles or six months, whichever comes first. I got an oil change last fall and last week I took advantage of the six months part of the deal, actually it was almost eight months this time, and got my oil change. I had added only 2200 miles to my odometer. So I’m saving as much as I can on gas. My wife’s car, which is 7 years old, only has gone less than 35,000 miles. But she drives a mile and a half to work three times a week.

I honestly believe at least as far as the gas goes, we’re doing our part to conserve. For the winter’s oil, we’ve already decided that we’ll keep the thermostat lower by two or three degrees. Our ages require we do some extra things to keep warm. We’ll layer a little more, using Afghans she has knitted when we’re sitting in the TV room and wearing some fleece around the house. That’ll help somewhat.

I’ve been reading about people switching to wood pellet wood stoves to save oil money. Over a long run, that would probably save them some money. But I suspect it would take a lot more than just adding a pellet stove. Proper preparation for safety is also needed. I wonder how safe it would be to leave something burning wood fired up when one leaves the home. I’m paranoid, I suspect, but we would never leave our place with wood burning in our fireplace, which has an older insert. We don’t burn often, either, because we don’t spend much time in the room with the fireplace. Knowing our past experience, we’d spend all that money and then only use it few times.

After more than 70 years of habit forming, it’s so much easier just to let the furnace and thermostats do the work.

It is an interesting discussion going on, though. I do think it’s about time for our lawmakers to stop the stalling and taking the bull by the horns and change the policies they’ve created to get us into this crisis mess. I know such solutions as drilling offshore or on our lands won’t change anything for several years. But that is just one start. Simply saying, “It won’t work” won’t accomplish anything. I think we need to revisit nuclear power, as many of our competing nations have, and stop tearing down dams, and allowing wind power.

I don’t think I’ll hold my breath on the lawmakers’ solutions, either. We’ll continue to discuss, plan, research, hold hearings, and attempt to reinvent the wheel over and over. And Americans will continue to fall deeper and deeper into the abyss.

GiM

Monday, June 23, 2008

At last! We got some rain!

Another fine weekend is behind us, and as has been the situation for most of this unsettled weather period, my home remained situated in that zone described by the TV weather people as one where “. . . not every city and town will get any.” At least until Sunday afternoon. Saturday afternoon about an hour and a half after my daughter went home, Wife Gator and I tuned to the Weather Channel to see what was happening in the weather.

To our great surprise as we had been bathing in beautiful, bright sunshine all afternoon, the “Local on the 8’s” said there were light showers in the Portland area. Huh? We looked out the window at the beautiful blue skies with just a few dots of white clouds. No rain/showers had fallen in our yard. So we called Daughter Gator to see what was happening at her house. She lives in Portland. She was surprised we called as she had assumed the rain she was having and had fallen ever since she got home was all over the area. Nope. Not in my place.

That led to an e-mail to my fearless friend who lives in another nearby city. He had shut down his equipment because thunder showers were in his neighborhood, or a little to the north of it. But, he said, it had been raining at his house. Not a whole lot, he said, but his yard was wet. He said the weather radar showed signs of one more cell heading into the area and it looked like we would get some from it.

His source was almost correct. About the time I was reading his reply, our skies began clouding over and darkening up. Sure enough, we thought, now we’re going to get some showers. Sure enough, we continued to live in that “not everyone” zone. I think we may have been able to count a couple dozen dots in the driveway where apparently the weather gods tried. But the driveway was a lot drier than spotted damp. We ran our irrigation unit in our veggie garden.

We awoke yesterday morning and once again the TV weather guy gave us about the same old, tired weather forecast. While he was talking about showers and fog in the area, we were once again basking in bright blue, sunny skies. By late morning, however, those milky, foreboding clouds were beginning to take over.

By mid afternoon, our rainless streak came to an end. Fortunately, DG had come over earlier in the morning and by noontime, all the outside work had been completed. Shortly after lunch DG and her pup headed back to their home. It remained cloudy with the sun trying to break through in the first part of the afternoon. Sometime around three, the rumbles of thunder were echoing from off in the distance. Another half hour later brought them close enough for us to know the “not all . . .” streak would end. Although we didn’t get any direct hits in our neighborhood, we did get a pretty good shower as that sort of dry spell came to a noisy halt. By late afternoon we had a couple pretty good gully washers. And today’s weather forecast looks pretty foreboding as well.

Through it all, it was a great, productive weekend, though. DG and her dog came over both days, she to help us out around the yard, the pup to romp outside with our dog. It’s amazing how much fun they have outside when we, especially their ‘moms,’ are out there. There are six or seven what I call “green bushes” along the front of our house. I guess if they were along the property line, they’d be called hedges. In either case, all I know them as are “green bushes.” Now WG and probably DG could tell you exactly what they are. “Green” works for me. They got trimmed and all the scragglies were cut so they look really nice today.

We also have a huge, and I mean huge, burning bush and a big yellow bush and a couple other flowering bushes. That’s as close as I can come to naming them, but they all have already seen the best of their season. So yesterday they got their trim. They’ll be cut way back. Don’t believe anyone who tells you these types of bushes can’t be cut without ruining them. WG refuses to accept that nonsense. Since she started cutting them back, they’ve grown twice as big and twice as flowery. And they get bigger and more flowery with each passing year.

Every year when she starts the cutting, I’m reminded of some rhododendron plants she had in front of our house in Portland. When they started growing above the windows, she decided to cut them back. Down was more like it. Nearly everyone we know said she was making the biggest mistake that can be made. Rhododendrons can’t be cut back, they said. Poppycock, she said, and headed out with her pruning shears. When she was done, the bushes couldn’t even be recognized. The next year, they were right back up to the windows but with three or four times as many beautiful, huge flowers.

So the weekend was for the most part dry, at least until yesterday afternoon, and we were able get a major beautifying task completed. I suppose to keep any credibility I may have left, I have to be honest with one teeny confession. As I’ve said ever since I began this project, I don’t do outdoors except to mow in summer and snow blow in winter. My two wonderful ladies, Wife Gator and Daughter Gator, did all the work. I watched the College World Series.

GiM

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Officially summer; now summer temps needed

Ayah! Here we go with another weekend. And this weekend begins the real summer season, astrologically. Of course what we Mainers call summer began three weeks ago when we celebrated Memorial Day.

As anyone who may read this with any regularity would know, when there are kid, high school, or college sports on TV, I’m watching whatever it is. Friday night I got a pretty neat break; a lightning flash in Omaha, the site of the College World Series, caused an automatic delay of the game. So I switched over to the Red Sox. Well, golly gee! The Sox had been in a rain delay and was just getting ready to start. As I was wondering what was going on, the camera switched to center field and on raced the 2008 NBA basketball champion Boston Celtics.

The Celtics had just won the championship Thursday by blowing away the Los Angeles Lakers. I don’t watch professional basketball and so haven’t seen more than maybe 10 or 15 minutes of the Celtics this season. I watched none of the championship game. From what little I have watched the past several years, the referees don’t watch the games, either.

The celebration at Fenway, though, was fun to watch and, to give the planners credit, it wasn’t dragged out any longer than it should have been. Paul Pierce threw the first pitch in the direction of Sox catcher Jason Veritek. The pitch was a wee off as it almost made it to the Gardens. No one cared. The fans were treated to the World Champion Boston Celtics. The Red Sox then paid tribute to the Celts by wearing their Celtic Green jerseys through the game.

Now, if only the Patriots could have won just one more game last season. If they had, Boston would have had the baseball, football and basketball world champions all at the same time.

As I look out the window this Saturday morning, it looks like it’ll rain any minute. The weather girl on Ch. 6 says, however, this should be a day of a mixture of sun and clouds with no rain in sight…at least for the daylight hours. She may be absolutely correct; as I write this the daylight got turned on and just that suddenly the fog began to lift. So chalk one up for the Ch. 6 weather girl, I guess.

Of course, as I’ve been saying much this past week, even when scattered showers are in the forecast, my little spot has consistently been in that “not every city or town will see any” zone. So except for the early Saturday morning fog, we probably wouldn’t get any precipitation anyway.

My daughter is planning to come over for a variety of reasons. Mainly, I suspect, she likes to have her dog and ours socialize and have some fun together. Then she discussed giving my last week’s Father’s Day present…wash and wax my car. She’ll include her mother’s car and probably her own in the deal. If the weather looks like we’ll get rain or showers all next week, she might put off the cars and trim the bushes in the front yard.

She has become pretty darn proficient with those electric hedge trimmer type devices. Actually, she’s quite proficient at just about anything she wants to tackle. And, like my fearless friend with computers, she’s fearless about taking on projects. She must have inherited her abilities from her mom’s dad. It certainly wasn’t from me.

Another weekend in Maine is upon us. Summer is officially, astrologically here and all we need now is for nice summer temperatures to get here. They might be on the way. I hope you have a wonderful, fun-filled summer weekend, and I’ll see you again Monday.

GiM

Friday, June 20, 2008

Nothing else in mind, so a commercial of sorts

It’s Friday again. They just seem to arrive faster and faster with each passing week. I suspect this Friday will be similar to all the other days this week. Dry. Come to think of it, I guess we did get a little moisture earlier this week. The weather forecasts all week long, including today, called for scattered showers with possible afternoon thunder showers. The weather person added the caveat that “. . . not all towns and cities will see anything at all.” I live in a caveat town. Except, as I said, we have had just a wee bit earlier this week.

It almost looks promising outside today to be in that area. As I write this, it is cloudy with some fog and there’s a feel to the air of some possible wetness. It’ll all depend on the direction of the wind. If it’s once again from the east and off the ocean, we’ll end up once again with mostly sunny skies as the rain hits areas to our north and east. We’ll see.

I had a pretty good car service experience this week and Prime Motors, specifically Prime Toyota, deserves some credit. I’ve owned my old Toyota ever since I bought it new in late 1999. The then owners sucked me in big time with lifetime oil/filter changes every five thousand miles or six months, whichever came first. When Ira Rosenberg bought out the dealership, he honored that deal.

As a result, Prime has been my prime source of auto care ever since I bought the car. I know all the stories about dealerships providing service, but in all those 9 years I’ve never been “taken” by going to Prime. I recall once, just before one of my wife’s and my long auto trips, I made an appointment for preventive service at Prime. I told the service writer that we were about to embark on a trip around the entire perimeter of the United States and I absolutely wanted no car surprises. In other words, he had a carte blanche to do anything needed to my car and could have run up one heckuva bill.

When I went back to pick up my car, there was no charge. All they had to do was change the oil and filter. I got a rather extensive report on various things in the car, all in good or excellent condition, all fluids up to snuff, etc., all for the price of my oil/filter change. If I hadn’t been sold on Prime before that, I certainly was now. We took the trip, but, of course, we did run into a problem which I had created. Out in Washington State the “check engine” light came on. I had never seen it before. With it glaring at me I finally decided in Corvallis, Oregon, to find a Toyota dealer. Like Prime, that dealership treated me fairly and honestly. It cost $20 for my light to be reset and I got a lecture about being sure I “clicked” my gas tank cover when I filled up.

Last November I got a coupon from Prime for a “free” state inspection. Free, sure! I wondered how much this free trip would cost me. November is my inspection month, so off I went to Prime. I didn’t need an oil change this trip, only the inspection. Off my car went to the service bay. I waited fingering my credit card. The car had its original tires, original exhaust system, and original brakes. A short time later the service guy appeared. “Here we go,” I thought. He said I was all set and handed me the keys. I drove out still with all that original equipment and a new inspection sticker. (I’ve noticed that since then Prime’s free inspections are only with some other service. But they’re up front about that.)

The original tires didn’t last long, though. A couple weeks later I was driving onto Tukey’s Bridge in Portland and found a cave in the road. This wasn’t just a little pothole; it was a full blown cave. The tire didn’t blow then and I continued on with my purpose. The next day, though, I found a bubble on that tire that I swear was bigger than the tire. I nursed the car to the tire place.

So this week, I had the experience of going to the new Prime Toyota place in Saco. I’ve never been in a dealership like it before. There’s a huge arrival/departure bay which is fully enclosed. There I was met by a greeter who checked why I was there and escorted me, all under cover, to a service writer. After the formalities were complete, I was given an explanation of what to expect when I headed into the dealership itself.

There was a huge customer waiting area complete with a beautiful TV, many comfortable individual chairs, a cafĂ© (coffee and cookies were free), an enclosed children’s play area, and other amenities. I toured the spacious, new showroom which sported several fish aquariums, a pool table, and interesting notes on the “greenness” of the new dealership. There were some vehicles there, too. If you are looking for a new Toyota, the salespeople have golf carts to take you to the storage area to look over the choices.

I did find one flaw in the design. There was no water fountain. I complained to an employee who simply called Mr. Rosenberg. He came over to discuss my complaint with me and I’ll bet if I returned to the place in the next few days, there’ll be a water fountain there. Just like all his employees, he was pleasant, easy to talk with, and just a very nice person.

Golly. I told a friend this morning I had nothing to blog about today. I didn’t intend to end up writing a commercial for Prime Motors, but it is a dealership like no other I’ve visited since I bought my first car in 1953.

And now, the weekend is just about upon us.

GiM

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Oil, again!

Hmmmm! It might appear that Republican presidential hopeful John McCain has flipped in his stance on drilling for oil. He had been against any drilling on U.S. soil. Then Monday, he said that America must look again at drilling and abandon the ban that prevents tapping new sources of oil. McCain said that drilling should be allowed in the Gulf of Mexico to help alleviate the energy crisis facing us.

This is a huge flip and environmentalists almost immediately began working against the apparent Republican nominee for the November election. Perhaps he’s beginning to understand just how much the policies of our Congress are hurting us. The people in this country are beginning, perhaps, to understand that we must develop an energy policy to be best for us to stop our dependency on others for oil. National polls indicative the people want drilling to begin.

McCain got support from President Bush who immediately called on Congress to lift the drilling ban. As expected, though, the Democrats in control of Congress said the ban should remain. Even Democrat presumptive presidential nominee Barack Obama was against the lifting of the ban. So once again, the Democrats want to block relief for Americans while the Republicans are working to help us. And, guess what. The Democrats will blame Republicans for the failure of the energy crisis resolution.

According to David Jackson, writing in the U.S. Today newspaper, along with the lifting of the moratorium on offshore drilling, President Bush also called for oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), allowing development of oil shale deposits on federal lands in three states (Colorado, Utah and Wyoming), and speed the process of building and expanding oil refineries. The article points out it will take time for these measures, if adopted by Congress, to lower the price of gasoline.

The Kennebec Journal reported that Gov. Baldacci and Maine’s Congressional Delegation have rejected the President’s call for drilling and exploration. It did appear in the article, though, that our two Republican Senators were primarily opposed to drilling off the Maine coast.

I read this morning on As Goes Maine that the Maine Oil Dealers Association has another wrinkle on the high cost of oil. In a press release, MODA says oil futures have risen over 1900% since 2002. The release pointed out the supply and demand argument is bogus when the price of oil can increase 29 cents a gallon one day a couple weeks ago when the temperature was 85 degrees. That group is calling on Congress to reign in Wall Street’s speculative buying of oil.

Democrat presumptive nominee Obama says he doesn’t support the drilling because it wouldn’t lower gas prices immediately. Of course it wouldn’t. But nothing else that has been proposed will either, except a massive lowering of the price of oil in the first place. And that probably wouldn’t be immediate, either. But the excuses of the 1970s can’t be accepted today. Had we not shut down drilling and the exploration for new sources, we’d already be in control. But the Democrat way is to not do anything except try to talk a good game. Since their talking accomplishes nothing, we should try the drilling route. At least the beginning of drilling or even the approval of drilling might cause lower prices from the current producing nations hoping to fend of the American threat.

Congress must get out of the pockets of the environmental lobbyists and start working to helping Americans facing financial crisis. The prices of virtually everything we need and use are climbing by the minute. And the price of oil is a major reason. People in some corners would like to blame the President, the war in Iraq, and the falling worth of the American dollar. They may be contributing factors as well, but the element that most closely touches Americans is the cost of energy.

I wonder if anyone has asked if the forced use of ethanol has had an effect on the price of gasoline. As I think of this topic, it occurred to me that gasoline prices started rising just about the same time Congress required a switch to ethanol. I’m wondering if those oil producing countries saw a threat. Fascinating thought. Of course the farmers could have simply found a good cash cow, too, resulting in rising prices of food.

I think the cost of energy has a better chance of being a major factor in November, even more than the war. Perhaps one probable Presidential candidate is beginning to understand and has changed his stance. The other has not…yet. Ultimately it’s up to Congress whose members rely too heavily on lobbyists to change. It’s going to be an interesting, spirited debate.

GiM

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A simple shopping trip

I can’t give you a source for this information as I honestly don’t remember where I read it. Not too long ago I read a story about how much the federal stimulus checks have helped the Maine economy. You were probably among most of us who received a check which the Feds hoped would be used to purchase new goods for our lives. A few of use put the checks aside. Mine will be used to help pay for next winter’s oil.

If those checks did help the Maine economy, then my observations of yesterday would indicate that help is about all over. After I got home from my regular Tuesday Senior Fitness session, my wife and I decided we could use a little trip to the Mall area for some light shopping. I needed a couple of items at Wal-Mart, we both wanted a gadget for the kitchen and could save some money at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and she wanted some inexpensive shoes at Payless to wear where she works.

This was mid-morning and it’s entirely possible that all changed later in the day. As we drove into the Wal-mart parking lot, we both were totally surprised at the number of cars there. I didn’t count them, but I’d bet there were fewer than 50. And many of those probably belonged to employees. We had no trouble find a parking space right in front of the entrance. I mean “right in front.” Not even two or three spaces down the row. I have never seen so few people inside, either. I saw more people in the aisles returning goods to shelves that putting stuff into shopping carts.

Speaking of shelves, there were almost as many empty spaces or items spread out with huge gaps as there were empty parking spots out front. The items I wanted are not items that would go out of the store all day long. In fact I’d be surprised if they sell more than one or two a week. Yet they were very scarce on the shelves. I took the last two of both items.

Naturally, there were no lines at the checkout rows. Only three, perhaps four, were open and two of the clerks were out in the store area at the end of their rows enticing people to their rows.

I would say, though, the Scarborough Wal-mart has a really friendly greeter person who waits patiently for customers or rides around the story in a motorized wheel chair. He is one of the nicest people I’ve met at that store. He is severely handicapped but that won’t stop him. If you happen to go into that store and see him, stop for just a moment to say, “Hello.” You’ll meet one nice man whose only handicap is physical.

But I digress so back to my shopping trip. We went to the shopping center that’s anchored by Target to visit the household store and shoe store. We had the same experiences there, except the household store did a far better job filling shelves in a way to make them look full. The item we went for was there, the last one on the shelf so we did create an empty spot. There may have been one other customer in the store when we were there.

The shoe store had holes in its shelves and we were alone there with the clerk. But my wife was able to find a couple pair of inexpensive shoes to wear to her work place. Food products drip or fall regularly to the floor where she works and shoes tend to get sticky and messy. Since she doesn’t get a long time out of them, she only looks for some comfort knowing they’ll be replace in a couple of months. She found some.

We took a slightly longer route home so we could drive by the Mall to get an idea of how it was doing. We didn’t go into the Mall or into any of the stores there, but it was apparent driving by that we could have had a front row parking space in front of any entrance to the Mall or stores with outside entrances we wanted. The lot in front of only one store, the big appliance store facing the Mall Road (I remember when we called in the Payne Road.) had a goodly number of parked cars. Most of the rest of the place was virtually empty.

I probably was too early for my shopping trip to get a true indication of the shopping at the stores, but I couldn’t help but think that people are really thinking twice about shopping as the economy continues downhill. I probably missed all the activity when those stimulus checks came out, too. I’ll remind you that I mentioned this was a mid-morning trip yesterday, and Tuesdays aren’t known to be the busiest shopping day of the week, and it all could have changed later in the day, but I was truly surprised at the lack of apparent spending while we were out for a light shopping trip.

GiM

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

An oil dilemma

I wonder if anyone in Maine gets through a day without expressing something, probably concern, about the rising cost of energy. I know it’s on my mind quite often, and today at my senior fitness session it was a major topic of conversation.

It’s only mid-June and many people are wondering how they’re going to pay for next winter’s heating fuel already. I don’t know anything about the cost of propane, but one of our group heats his home with propane. He said three others in a neighborhood he lives in have jointly bought a pre-pay plan for their neighborhood. He said it was the company that he uses that suggested the four of them buy the plan together. That would give a 4-buyer volume price that is far lower than each buying an individual plan. Since I’m not knowledgeable of propane prices, I didn’t bother to ask.

The rest of us all use oil. Unfortunately as good an idea the joint plan for our companion is, we don’t even live in the same town, say nothing of the same neighborhood, so we couldn’t get a joint plan. I’m not sure of the neighborhood conditions where they live; but where I live has only one neighbor. I’ve seen a propane truck delivering there.

So I’m wrestling with a pre-buy oil plan. Those prices seem to change just about daily. But, I use about 800 gallons each heating season which means I’ve got to come up with 37-hundred to 4-thousand dollars. That’s a heap of money on a retirement income. Without the pre-buy, though, that cost could hit close to a thousand dollars for an individual delivery. It’s a dilemma I don’t know how most Mainers can resolve.

Heating oil isn’t the only energy problem facing us. The price of gasoline rises two or three times a week and is now pushing $4.10/gal. That was yesterday, though, so today it’s probably well over that. The cost of fuel has driven up the cost of just about everything that gets delivered. Can you think of anything you don’t grow yourself that doesn’t require delivery somewhere along the line? I can’t. As the cost of delivery rises so does the cost of buying things. It’s a vicious cycle.

Most of all these rising prices can be traced directly to the government, both federal and state. Many want to blame the President, but he’s not the one who refuses to allow this country from drilling for its own oil. Laws passed by the Democrat controlled Congress does that. Congress, and there are some Republicans that support the measures (You don’t have to think too far away to find some.) that prevent the beginning of ending the dependency on foreign oil. Our Congress wants to “study” the problem.

There is some indication that some relief may be heading our way. Saudi Arabia, a major oil supplier, is hinting it will increase production next month. There is one problem with that, though, we have no idea how much time it will take to start the costs on a downward trend here. When the OPEC nations hint an increase is coming, prices are raised within minutes. It takes weeks, months, maybe longer for those prices to come down. The Saudis also suggested that gas taxes be substantially lowered to help with the cost.

Speaking of taxes, there is a report by the Maine Heritage Policy Center that Maine is now the highest taxed state with 14.02% of our income now going to combine state, local, and federal taxes. The report says the growth of those taxes in Maine is nearly twice the average growth nationally.

Energy, and other costs, is continually on my mind, so you can expect more of this, possibly as soon as Thursday.

GiM

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dad's Day, Light bulbs, and Ethanol

My wife (WG) was right and made the correct decision. I was skeptical that we’d really get some shower activity yesterday, in spite of the weekend forecast issued last Friday. That forecast said that Saturday would be the better weekend day and that showers would dot the landscaped off and on Sunday. Our forecasts recently predicting showers have been less than very accurate for my place. Nevertheless, WG and my daughter (DG) decided we have our Father’s Day celebratory cookout Saturday.

We did. It was delicious as always when DG cooks steaks out on the grill. I did add my extremely good, if I do say so myself but the family agrees with me, homemade onion rings. They’re made from scratch, except we do buy the onion at the store. And as I had anticipated, DG brought over a cake. That was it. They honored my request for no presents, but DG, as she did last year, promised to wash and wax my car. We agreed it should wait until we have a stretch of good weather so it’ll stay clean for a while.

And yesterday, it did rain, sometimes hard, for most of the morning. We probably could have had our cookout just the same. The afternoon was rather unfriendly and we may have had to eat it on the dining room table, but the yard was really wet so that would have meant some soggy doggies romping through the house. The decision the gals made to have our cookout Saturday turned out to be a good one. Along with the decision to hold off washing the car. The forecast for this whole week doesn’t look too promising, either.

My fearless friend forwarded a couple of very interesting e-mails to me over the weekend. If you are on more than one mailing list, you’ve probably seen them both. I’m on the tail end of the “food” chain so they’ve just reached me. One deals with Congress’s decision to require the so-called CFL light bulbs and the other deals with ethanol in gasoline.

Congressman Ted Poe (R-Texas) made a five minute speech on the floor of the House denouncing the law. He requested and got a five minute time to present his case. I already knew most of the information Poe presented. In fact, most of it, the safety issues, have been discussed here a couple of months ago. You should already know that these bulbs contain mercury and require some very specific actions for cleanup if one breaks.

I did not know, though, that this law passed by Congress has effectively killed another “Made in the USA” industry. According to Poe, every single CFL bulb is made in China. Poe went on to point out all the problems this country has had with products from China. Food. Toys. And others. And now, he thanked Congress for ending an American industry, the incandescent light bulb, and replacing it with yet another potential disaster from China.

It’s a five minute listen, but thanks to YouTube, you can hear Representative Poe’s speech for yourself.

The other piece I received was a transcript of an article written by Walter E. Williams, an economist at George Mason University. I believe he is retired as chairman of the department. Back in March, Williams wrote a syndicated column titled Big Corn and Ethanol Hoax. Just about every gas station I see here in Southern Maine now sells ethanol gasoline as standard. I’m not sure you can find real gas anymore.

But, according to Williams, this corn laced gas can potentially raise havoc with your car. When it burns, it leaves behind a water residue which cannot be distilled. Most of us are driving vehicles that will eventually cost us a lot of money to fix engines not equipped to handle internal water. Also, the cost of producing ethanol is so prohibitive it could not survive the free market. That, according to Williams, is why the government is offering huge subsidies.

Those subsidies also have a side effect on the cost of food. As farmers are growing more and more corn for ethanol, the supply of corn-related products is dwindling thus raising the cost. The rising cost of gasoline and oil is raising the cost of transportation and, therefore, just about every aspect of American life. And, according to Williams with facts and figures to back up his statements, it’s all a great hoax.

My personal observation is that ethanol/gas isn’t saving me any money. My gas mileage has dropped since I’ve been forced to switch which means I have to buy more gas. Thus I’m using more gas, not less, and it’s costing me more money, not less. I have seen no savings. I’d suggest for some interesting information, you read the column.

GiM

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Father's Weekend!

Dad’s weekend is upon us. Most dads will be celebrating their day, Father’s Day, Sunday. I’ll have a two day celebration that begins Saturday. I don’t think I’ve ever had a two day Father’s Day celebration before. In fact until I retired a few years ago, I didn’t even get one day to celebrate as I worked Sundays. So I guess it’s fitting that I get a chance to make up some of those missed days. This is the first time I’ve done it, though.

I don’t have my hopes up that I’ll get two full days of celebration this year. But I can pretend, can’t I? The problem is I’m not sure which day will be the celebrated day. What I do know is the Saturday one will be the cookout. I’m not exactly sure why my wife has chosen Saturday for the cookout, except she did have some reservations about the weather after listening to the weekend weather forecast Friday.

It’s really not that bad of a forecast, either. The weatherman said that we might get some showers late Saturday night into early Sunday morning. For the last several weeks, the words “might get” have simply meant “probably won’t even see a drop or two” in my little corner of this world. That weather guy also said Saturday would be the better of the two days and, even though any “might” showers will end early Sunday, the day will remain mostly cloudy with just a chance the sun will come out in the afternoon.

So we’re having our cookout Saturday.

My daughter and her dog will be here. I’ll probably get a phone call from my son who lives in a West Coast state; but since he doesn’t know about the weekend plans, that call will most likely be Sunday. So for this Father’s Day, for me it has the makings of being truly a weekend affair. And I’m planning on enjoying every minute of it.

I doubt the Father’s Day stuff will fill both days. I have no idea what my wife and daughter have planned for yard/garden activities for the weekend. Speaking of gardens, our vegetable gardens are coming along very nicely. I think we’ll end up with enough squash to supply the local supermarket for a few weeks. And tomatoes. If you’ve ever grown your own tomatoes, you know it’s either famine or feed the whole darn neighborhood. It’s looking like we’ll be well fed.

Pepper plants, beans, beets, carrots are all doing well. My wife also planted some green stuff, like Swiss chard and the like. I can’t eat green stuff because it contains vitamin K which fights with my Coumadin. But the girls like it. The beans are also showing signs of being very plentiful this year. We grow both green and yellow beans, and this year for the first time, the gals are experimenting with pole beans.

About the only things that are giving us some fits are the cucumbers. There’s a critter out there who absolutely loves cucumber plants. It ate our first planting so the gals bought some more plants. They planted them carefully and stuck a wire screen into the ground that surrounded the plants. It didn’t even slow down whatever the critter is.

Since we mowed Thursday, I don’t have to do that this weekend. As I’ve said before, except for mowing (and snow blowing in the winter) I don’t do outside work. That simply means if the gals do go outside to do some yard/garden work, I’ll get to see the opening round of the baseball College World Series. Two games are on tap for both weekend days, but I’m not sure how that awful weather they’re having out Omaha way will affect the games. If they’re played, I’ll be planted in front of the TV as I love watching the kids play ball.

My ranting will return Monday, but in the meantime I hope you’ll join with me and have an absolutely wonderful Father’s Weekend.

GiM

Friday, June 13, 2008

It's time to start doing!

It was almost two weeks since I last mowed my lawn. My wife’s feet disappeared in the grass as she walked around the house yesterday cleaning up the evidence our dog is healthy. She surprised me by having that task completed when I got home from my senior fitness program. Shortly after I did get home, we were outside mowing. And mowing. And mowing.

As I suspected it would primarily because of the length of the grass but also because it was so tall the deepest part hadn’t dried, the bagging attachment clogged. Off it came and emptied out. The chute was carefully placed so that the damp part would be directly in the path of the sun’s rays. And I rode off to get the grass cut. I cut in a path from the outside edges of the lawn toward the center. That way the bulk of the clippings kept being blown toward the center.

Meanwhile, my wife was cutting a hill she doesn’t like me to take the tractor on. The tractor will work on that hill and I’ve told her so, but she’s seen me lean somewhat at times and since my events years of 2000 and 2001 she has requested I not ride the tractor on the hill. She cuts the grass there with our walk-behind self-propelled mower. She also doesn’t like me to ride the machine when she’s not home. Almost a half century of being together and trusting each other tells me her requests are fair and I do honor them.

We took a break after the first cutting, a slower than usual one because of the length of the grass. After lunch, I put the bagger back on and vacuumed up the clippings. Because I had blown them all toward the center, I only had three or four lengths to do to get the yard really pretty clean. It sure does look a whole lot better when it’s been mowed.

Here’s another commercial comment. I just watched an ad in which two competing auto sales companies are holding a mock baseball game in an attempt to draw customers. I gather “runs” are scored by the number of vehicles sold. I chuckled this morning when I saw the commercial. The owner of one of the companies “hit” a fly ball that obviously would go deep. The next scene showed the other owner sliding into home plate looking like he was driven home by that long drive. Nothing spectacular here and the ads these two companies run every year would never be the drawing in power for me, but I just thought the idea of one owner driving in the other was a little humorous.

On another topic, I believe its long past time for our Congress Critters to stop talking, holding hearings, getting reports, and doing nothing positive about our energy crisis. Our representatives in Congress, both parties, both houses, are part of the problem. In their doing absolutely nothing they are working hard to convince us they are working to resolve the problem. After all, they have “good intentions” and in this day and age that’s about all that matters.

How many years has it been, the Carter years in the 1970s comes to mind, since Congress began working on energy problems in the U.S.? What has happened as a result of all the reports, hearings, speeches? Simple answer: Nothing! It was just about at that time when we stopped building refineries, started tearing down dams, eliminating nuclear power and putting so many rules and regulations into place that virtually all sources of energy in this country began to become too expensive to use.

Right here in Maine we have resources that could lower our energy costs dramatically. We have great rivers where hydro power could once again be developed. At one time we had nuclear power. We have powerful winds that could run turbines. We have more trees than any other state in the Union which could be utilized as an energy source. And, of course, there’s the sun. All of these are renewable resources.

There are folk out there that are saying, “Sure, Gator, as long as you don’t have to have it in your back yard.” If I could afford it and if my town (which has already denied one company from getting wind power) would allow it, I’d put a wind tower in my backyard in a heartbeat.

It’s time for both our Congress people and our State Legislators to stop talking, stop planning, stop hearings, and simply remove the roadblocks that have stopped the development of energy resources. It’s time for them to start thinking of the people they serve. And, increasing taxes is not the answer. We can’t afford any more taxes. If Congress taxes those oil companies it wants to tax, the only accomplishment will be increased prices for us to pay the companies’ taxes.

We have enough oil and gas in American ground to support us well into the future. It’s time we started drilling and getting it. Until Congress and the Legislature gets out of the pockets of lobbyists and starts performing, we are facing an economic crisis of proportions never before seen. If you would like to tell your Congress person (Maine and New Hampshire) that you'd like to see drilling for oil on American soil, here's a place to do it: Drill for Oil on American Soil.

GiM

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Just a day to mow the lawn.

I don’t think I’m going to enjoy this day. I’ve got to do some work. The beginning was good; my trip to the physical therapy place for a morning workout. My wife had done some light housekeeping while I was away and had a light breakfast ready for me when I got home. She’s a good wife. Now we’ll patiently watch the overnight dew dry on the lawn, and then we’re heading outside.

As I write this, I’m in that holding pattern. But soon I’ll be preparing the tractor for mowing. My lawn is as deep as I’ve seen it in a very long time. Mowing the yard today is going to take a long time. I think I’ll probably take the bagger off and go around once. If I leave the bagger on, I’ll have to take a trip to our compost plot after every swipe. So I’ll leave the deck up one notch and give it its initial cut, the put the deck on its proper spot for the cut I like and go around again and vacuum up the clippings.

While I’m riding around on a bumpy tractor, my wife will perform a task I hate to do. She’s good about that. We have one area that’s a hill. She doesn’t like my riding on that hill so she uses our self-propelled walk behind mower to cut the grass there. That grass usually remains where it falls, but the hill is just a little way from the house so we don’t see it. As long as the lawn around the house is neat, we’re happy. She’ll also go out to the compost area when I begin dumping the clippings and help spread them around.

After several very hot but rather dry days today is a very nice one. The temperatures are high enough to be comfortable, but the best part is the general lack of that humidity. We probably won’t make any other plans until we see what time it we finish the lawn and how tired we are.

That’s our day in a nutshell. I’m going to refrain commenting on the politics of the day as there’ll be an awful lot of time to make comments. If anything interesting comes up, I’ll come back and edit this thing, otherwise, we’ll see you tomorrow.

GiM

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

And now, On to November!

At last the day is behind us. Primary Election Day, that is. And we have clear winners. Charlie Summers is the Republican nominee and he will face Democrat Chellie Pingree in the November elections for the U.S. First District House of Representatives seat being vacated by Tom Allen.

Allen easily won his bid for the Democrat nomination to face incumbent Republican Susan Collins for her U.S. Senate seat in November.

I don’t think either House race had a surprise ending. Pingree had by far, in my humble opinion, the best produced advertisements on television. Although I don’t agree with her stand and believe like she did when in the Maine Legislature will attempt to lead us to more health care economic disaster, she avoided negativism and stuck to the issues as she sees them. The First District is a liberal district and her top opponent, Adam Cote, a former Republican, was probably too conservative for the district.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was Portland legislator Ethan Strimling’s relatively poor showing, tying for third place with only 11 percent of the vote. I’m happy I got that surprise.

I think I was mildly surprised at the margin of victory by Charlie Summers over Dean Scontras for the Republican nomination to face Pingree. Summers has been active in Maine politics for several years and his name recognition alone gave him the edge going into yesterday’s voting. Scontras, a political newcomer, billed himself as a Reagan Conservative; but, as I said earlier, the First District is liberal and Scontras simply didn’t resonate with his message.

I dedicated one of these posts a couple of weeks ago on the tone of the Republican campaign. At that time I pleaded that the candidates needed to focus on what they themselves would do for Maine and not what they said the other would do. That, incidentally, is basically how Pingree conducted her Democrat campaign. I found it difficult to get excited about either of the Republicans. I will support the winner, Summers, in November.

If I had any surprise at the Republican outcome, it was the margin. Summers’ win wasn’t a surprise, but his 20% margin was, at least to me.

The state’s voters once again showed they don’t mind our high taxes. They approved yet another transportation bond issue, most of which is to fix the roads. They passed a similar bond last year and again last November. All three focused on fixing the roads and bridges. After last year did we have better roads? After November? What makes us think we will this time? I don’t think people realize that bonds have to be repaid with taxes. If all the transportation money went to what the state said it would go to and if we did see improvements in the transportation infrastructure, I’d have more acceptance to the bonds.

And, golly, were the petitioners out in force! I can’t remember ever having to walk through such a gauntlet of people seeking to have petitions signed for a plethora of issues. Now don’t get me wrong. I didn’t run into a single negative person in that gauntlet. All the petitioners at my polling place were polite, non-confrontational, and ready and willing to answer any questions about their respective petition.

The People’s Veto of taxes on beverages and insurance people were there. I signed that one. There was one called “New Tabor” which I don’t recall ever hearing about before yesterday. The People’s Veto of the drivers’ license/real I.D. law was there. There were petitions against gay marriage, the school consolidation law or at least portions of it, more affordable health care (who doesn’t want more affordable health care?), and a cut in excise taxes. Seems to me there a couple others, too, but I recall not what they may have been.

Again, let me say, the closest thing to any confrontation I had was petitioners asking if I’d like to sign their petition. More often than not, I’d respond with a question about what the petition was for and got informative, polite answers. I got a “Thank you” and a hand shake if I signed and a “Thanks for listening” when I declined.

So now it’s on to November. The contest will be in full swing (Isn’t it already??) way too soon. I still remember when the elections were between Labor Day and the Second Tuesday in November. I think I still yearn a little for those “good old days.”

GiM

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

We had a longer than normal post yesterday (see below) so today we’re keeping this one short and simple.

First, another hot, humid day is forecast for Maine, especially southern Maine. As we’ve done the last couple of posts, we’d like to urge you to take it easy and not overwork. Your health is too important to take chances with. Drink plenty of fluid, primarily water, to stay hydrated. I was reminded yesterday to include GatorAde in the beverage list. Avoid alcoholic beverages. If you do have to work, please take breaks, especially when you are feeling the heat, dizziness, or lethargy. It’s also important to be a good neighbor. If you have any elderly neighbors, check on them a couple of times to be sure they are making it through this heat O.K.

Second, today is Primary Election Day. There are some good races in both federal and state seats along with several referenda questions. Both Republicans and Democrats will be nominating their candidates for the November general election. Think of the conditions we have in Maine, high taxes, high insurance rates, high gas prices, high food prices, and the list goes on. Consider who has been in charge in both the Maine Legislature and in Congress and ask, “Am I really better off than I was a couple of years ago?” It’s easy to blame President Bush or Governor Baldacci, but they are not the lawmakers. Those determining our conditions are legislators and congress people. Change is not electing someone different who shares the same views. Change is getting new people with new ideas into office.

And third, We have a couple of chances today to have some effect on taxes. The Maine Legislature passed in the late, waning hours of the last session with no public input a 70-million dollar tax hike that will affect every Mainer. It taxes most all things we drink with milk products being a notable exception. But on this very hot day and as you sip some lemonade or ice tea, or a soda, or even flavored water, think that next month you’ll be paying additional taxes on it.

Furthermore, if you have any medical procedure, you’ll be paying an additional tax to the state. Both these taxes are to fund a failed state sponsored Dirigo health plan. There is a People’s Veto afoot to have a question put on the November ballot to repeal these taxes. You’ll notice that opponents of the People’s Veto never ever mention Dirigo. Even they know it’s a failed program.

Consider signing the petition. I finally signed the beverage/insurance tax one and a couple others, too.

Above all, take the time to go to the polls and vote on this Primary Tuesday.

GiM

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hot, humid, take care; Vote tomorrow!

We had a pretty calm, lazy weekend. My wife accepted an invitation to work both days making food platters for several local high school graduation parties. The weather sort of dictated we not do much work around the homestead, so we didn’t. Even my daughter and her dog stayed home so the pups wouldn’t get too hot. Saturday wasn’t too bad, but we did get a strong sea breeze at our house and that did hold the temperature down somewhat. Sunday, though, my weather station made it into the low 90s for a brief spell. But mostly we were in the 80s. Wherever my computer gets its temperature never got out of the mid 80s. Last night won’t go down as a great night for sleeping.

Our local TV station says today’s weather will produce another hot and humid day. Temperatures are expected to rise into the upper 80s. It’s early as I write this so that’s a conclusion we’ll just have to see later.

As I’ve said on many occasions, I love watching school sports on the tube. I do enjoy most professional sports, too, but if a college, high school, amateur, Little League, et al, are competing with the pros, they’ll get my attention. Beginning last Thursday were the Super Regional Championships leading to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. I think I watch all or at least most of all the games that were shown here. The Florida Gators weren’t playing. The Supers end tonight and the CWS begins later this week.

There was one interesting play yesterday. A foul ball headed toward the third base stands. But the infielder had a bead on it and it was clearly headed for his glove. Just as he was about to catch it, a fan, an older guy with a glove, reached over the barrier and snagged the ball. No interference was called and the batter hit the next pitch over the fence for a two-run homer. It did not affect the game’s outcome, however.

Tomorrow is an election day in Maine. The Democrat and Republican primaries will be held to determine who will represent the parties for various offices in the November elections. Some are contested; others are not. Possibly the most interesting races are in the First Congressional District. Several Democrats and two Republicans are seeking their party’s nomination. The Democrats also have a weak contest for the nominee to face Sen. Susan Collins in November. Former Congressman Tom Allen is expected to win handily.

There are some contested local races for the Maine Legislature in various places, but except for their locales there isn’t much publicity about them. Some local referendum questions along with at least one state wide one also face the voters.

I expected a plethora of phone calls and advertisements over the weekend, but to my surprise I only received two phone calls, one each from the Scontras’ and Summers’ camps. Both candidates did send a mailing and my inbox continued to get its share of e-mails. No one from either camp, either the candidate himself or a volunteer canvasser, visited my home.

The two phone calls I received were interesting. The one from the Scontras’ camp went something like this:

Caller: Hi, garble, garble, mushed together stuff, garble.

Me: [Honestly replying, not trying to be humorous or mean] I have absolutely no clue what you just said.

Caller: Oh, I’m sorry. Let me try again. I’m [he did give me a name] and I’m calling on behalf of Dean Scontras. Have you heard of him?

Me: Well, yes. I think I’ve heard his name mentioned somewhere.

Caller: Great. Can we count on your vote on Tuesday?

Me: I think that since I’ve voted in every election I could vote in since I became eligible to vote, there’s an excellent chance that I will cast my ballot on Tuesday.

Caller: Oh, great. That’s just super. We appreciate your support. Thank you. Good bye.

Perhaps I sounded to him as he sounded to me when I first answered.

The Summers’ call was a little different. It was a robo call by that general , Hunt, I think, that tries to convince us he knows all there is about Iraq on the local radio/television talk show. I don’t really remember his name which, I guess shows how much he impresses me. He started droning on the phone so I hung up. As I said, it was just a recording and such calls impress me not at all.

It’s very important that you do cast your votes tomorrow. I believe we have no right to complain about what we get if we haven’t participated in the process. And we can’t make any changes at any level unless we look over the candidates and their records and make an informed decision. We need to get ourselves familiar with any referenda questions, too, so we will know what we’re getting into and how it will affect our taxes. I am a complainer, as you’ve seen in some of these posts, but I haven’t missed my chance to cast my votes since the 1950s.

And the last political comment, if you haven’t already done so, seek out a People’s Veto on taxes petition and an excise tax petition near the polling places and add your name to get these on the November ballot, too.

Finally, it’s forecast to be very hot and humid today. Drink plenty of non-alcoholic beverages, water is best, and check on your elderly neighbors.

GiM

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A possible hot, slow weekend

By golly, we made it into another weekend. This one has the makings of being a real pip, though, as there’s a massive heat wave right on our doorstep. As the weekend begins, we do have some clouds and a little fog here and there, but we should be in the 80s before this day is over and the temperatures just might cross 90 tomorrow. The weather gal on TV this morning indicated that a sea breeze along the coast could keep temperatures in the 70s in coastal areas today. And, naturally, that ever present threat of showers, possibly some thunder ones, will remain.

As I mentioned yesterday, my wife was asked to work this Saturday morning at her part time job. When she went to work yesterday, she was asked to do her normal task, which is to maintain the salad bar where she works. But there was a change. She gets Saturday calls frequently to go in long enough to make platters and that was the change for today. Someone apparently forgot this is graduation time which results in parties which require food. Platters. When she went to bed last night, she had 30 of them to make this morning. So she was shifted from the salad bar to platters. Her store only makes platters when they are pre-ordered.

She’ll get home sometime around mid morning. Once she gets home and gets a nap in, we’ll start planning our weekend. Normally by Saturday morning, we have it pretty much figured out, but a combination of her having to work and the potential hot weather will have a major impact on our plans. First, we’ll have to see how tired she ends up being. Because of the shift to an unusual amount of platters, she had to go to work at 4 A.M. instead of the normal 6 A.M.

She’s not the type who can jump out of bed and do the morning routine and head off for work. She wants some “think” time before she leaves, so that means she’s up no later than 2:45. Now that’s early. I stayed in bed. As a result, I would think she’ll be rather tired and naps are in order. At least it’s in a weekend that we probably wouldn’t do much anyway because of the weather and the gas prices.

As we mention just about every weekend, our daughter (DG-Daughter Gator) brings her dog over to our place so she can help her mother in the various gardens and her dog and ours can spend some time romping and playing with each other outside. Both animals are oblivious to the weather out there so the gals take care in making sure they don’t overdo and are safe. There’s always plenty of water around.

This weekend, though, is a little different. Our sensible daughter always puts her mother’s health at the forefront and when there are work days like this one unexpectedly turned out to be, DG frequently makes some excuse to simply stay home. For the last couple of years it was an easy excuse; she simply needed to study. That is now behind her. We’ll have to see what happens today.

Tomorrow is almost already decided. If that forecast for possible 90 degree temperatures comes about, DG will stay home. The dogs are used to summer heat and normally don’t let it get them down, but 90+ degrees for the first time in the season is a little much. Remember, our dogs are Golden Retriever sisters, not exactly short haired dogs. So, unless the weather forecast for tomorrow changes dramatically, we won’t see them.

What we know we won’t be doing this weekend is travelling. The cost of gas will keep our cars parked most of this weekend and we will venture out only if a trip to the grocery store is necessary. And with the price climbing dramatically this weekend, that’s about the way it’s going to be for the summer and beyond. We both have cut way down. In May, she spent less than $30 for her gas and I kept my monthly supply under $25. My wife’s driving was only to and from work and mine was my twice a week trip to my senior fitness class. Neither of these trips will stop, at least for now. And since she works in a grocery store, she can combine the work trip with food shopping. A couple of other trips were necessary, like to the hardware store or other small errands. We did splurge a couple of times with a short trip to a nearby Dairy Queen, which neither of us needed.

A very short switch to a political note: We’ll probably be seeing a plethora of candidate ads this weekend as the Maine Primaries are next Tuesday. I hope you will take just a few moments to look over the records of the various candidates, ask yourselves if you’ve been affected by their votes, and choose candidates for the November general election that will truly reflect the needs of Mainers. And if you see a People’s Veto petition to get the tax increase repeal question on the November ballot, please consider signing it.

The weekend is here and I hope you have a good, safe, happy one. Stay cool and drink plenty of liquids (non-alcoholic) and check on your elderly neighbors. We look forward to returning Monday.

GiM

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Quickie Friday With Nothing To Do!

Another cloudy, a little drizzly day has arrived in Maine. It’s Friday and early this morning the temperature on my unofficial weather station says it’s approaching 60 degrees. My pressure indicator says we have a nice day ahead and the weekend, well hot is the magic word.

I got a call yesterday from the company replacing the water district’s meters. Mine was scheduled for sometime between 8 and 12 this morning. I was told yesterday the time could be anytime after 7 AM. Well, about 7:10 the doorbell rang. A pleasant professional person said they already had my pit at the end of the driveway open and cleaned and were ready to change the meter. He did not come to shut off the water as I guess he discovered there was a shut off in the pit.

He asked that I not run water for about 15 or 20 minutes while the actual shift was made. They came back to the house, turned on an outside spigot to flush any air and off they went to the next appointment. By 8 o’clock my day was freed up and now that I can go someplace, I have no desire to leave. Interesting, isn’t it? When I thought I was forced housebound, I might have needed to go somewhere. Only housebound for a half hour or so and now that I can leave, all the desire to do so is gone. Ah, life!

Timing is everything. I was watching the beginning of the Red Sox game last night, a rather early start. I got to see a home run that just managed to get over the wall. Well actually it just managed to get over everything. The Sox were up three to nothing and it stayed that way through the top of the second. That’s when I got called away as the evening meal was ready for consumption. I missed the fun of the melee. Because I got involved in a couple of other activities, I also missed more excitement. I got to see most of the incidents during replays when I got back to the game, but replays just aren’t the same.

The second part of my favorite spring sports season continues today with the Baseball Super Regionals leading to the College Baseball World Series in Omaha. The first part, of course, was the College Softball World Series that ended earlier this week. These sixteen best of three series will determine the eight teams that get to Omaha. I love to watch the young men (and women earlier) represent their schools in total commitment to the game. Some are playing for a chance to get into the professional ranks, but for most these games represent their shining moments.

Another weekend is just about upon us. Because of vacations and staff shortages, my wife will be working tomorrow morning for a few hours. She’s also been asked if she could be available Sunday morning for a few hours if necessary. She normally works weekends when there are platters to be made. But this weekend, and perhaps some others this summer, she’ll be working a regular assignment although for shorter times.

My daughter (DG) usually brings her dog over so the dog can romp around and have some socializing with our dog on weekends. As you know, the girls are sister Golden Retrievers. They have a blast outside, and drive all of us nuts when they’re inside. We’re not sure just what the weather will bring, but DG says if it gets as hot, especially Sunday, as the weather forecast says it’ll get, she may not be here. She says she’d like to give the dogs a chance to get acclimated to the hot weather before they get too hot romping around here. So that creates a wait and see weekend.

I guess it’s time now for me to seek out something to do on this Friday. The water district caught me off guard by coming as early as they did. (At least I was ready for them.) It was easy when I knew I could sit around here all morning moaning and feeling sorry for myself being locked in. Since the district people came early, I no longer have any excuses. I guess I’d better get busy looking around.

GiM

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Random Thursday

This Thursday has begun as a rather cold, dank day. We’ve seen much of the gamut of weather so far. It’s been foggy, cloudy, drizzly, yucky. I love the “cold” label. The temperature in my little corner of the world is in the upper 60s. Just a few weeks ago, I’d have been calling that temperature “warm.” It’s all in the state of mind. We're just a couple weeks shy of the astrological summer so the upper 60s must be cold. In the winter we say it’s getting warm as the temperature climbs into the upper 30s. The mind adjusts much better than the body. I thought the sun was trying to come out a bit ago, but it was just playing with my emotions. We might see some this afternoon.

A month ago I was expecting the water district to come by to change my water meter from a stop and read to a drive by read one. They tell me the new meter is to save money, but, of course, my water rate went up to pay for the new meters. Some saving. They didn’t come that day. They did call to postpone and that postponement date is tomorrow. I wonder if I’ll get a call today or tomorrow with another change.

If they do come, I’m told I’ll be without my water for a while. I have to be home so they can come into the house to shut it off, even though my meter is some 375 feet down the driveway. And I have to hang around all morning because they gave me a four hour window for the change. When they’re finished, they have to return to the house to make sure the water is running O.K. I have nothing planned for tomorrow except be here when the district people arrive. The part I don’t like is that I can’t make plans for tomorrow. I’d be here anyway, but now I have to stay home.

But that’s all tomorrow. Today I began as always with a trip to the therapy center for my senior fitness session. As I said Tuesday, I like those sessions.

When I got home my wife was already at work finishing the cleaning of the kitchen. I did some of the work yesterday for her while she was working, but I guess most women like to be in control of their kitchens so she’s been doing the bulk of the work. My task would have been to polish/clean/wax, whatever, the cabinets and help move some stuff around. To my pleasant surprise she did that work while I was at therapy. There isn’t a whole lot left to be done and I suspected it will be by noontime.

No special trips are planned this noon for lunch. At least I don’t know of any right now. We will be going out this afternoon for some light shopping, but I don’t think it will take too long.

We did get some much needed light rain during much of yesterday. The total amount wasn’t impressive, but it was a good kind that could soak into the ground and not the heavy downpour kind that just runs off before it does any good. Now some heat is expected for the weekend so the rain and heat will join forces to make me have to mow the lawn again. I know WG’s veggies were all screaming, “Yum. Yum. Thanks for that nice drink.” yesterday.

I heard a couple items on the news this morning that I find interesting. Most of the thousands of dollars that are being spent by a coalition of agencies to influence people not to sign a citizen’s petition to repeal a massive tax increase are coming from out of state. That means that people who are not affected by the tax increases are taking away the opportunity for Mainers to decide their own futures. Those taxes were designed to pay for the state sponsored Dirigo Health Plan.

The other piece of news was that Dirigo with somewhere between 13- and 18-thousand Mainers is closed to enrollment. If the tax passes, it will then open to only small businesses and not individuals. Those people opposing the petition drive do not mention Dirigo in their advertisements. I guess even they honestly realize it is a failure and don’t want to be associated with it. What they apparently do want is for Maine to join socialized, state controlled health insurance.

I’m hoping there will be petitions at my polling place Tuesday. I really want to sign one.

GiM

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Just a little lie!

Somewhere in our great state the weatherman was accurate. Some places are getting some rain this morning. Just before I retired for the night last night, a quickie shower passed through my space, but it wasn’t enough to do any good to my dusty lawn and gardens. It appears we may have gotten another one during the night; but if that did happen, it didn’t improve the dry conditions.

It is very cloudy outside and the weatherman says we’ll get some showers and possibly a little rain off and on during the day today. If this is like most other days with basically the same forecast, my irrigation system will be getting a workout tonight. It is not encouraging to watch the weather radar on television and see all the rain to the north of us and my area only showing a little cloudiness. There is green showing well to our south and the weather guy tells me that is heading our way. We’ll wait and see.

I do want the rain. Good soaking rain does a whole lot more to energize our lawn and gardens than the water that comes to us through pipes. The other day my wife’s gardens were showing signs of greatness, but by late yesterday we would have been better off wearing one of those little white mouth/nose masks to keep the dust and pollen out. It all adds up to just one conclusion: We need rain.

WG (wife gator) has gone off to her part time job this morning. She’ll get home sometime after two this afternoon. We jokingly were talking last night that perhaps she should accept a full time offer just so we will be able to buy heating oil next winter. The latest pre-buy plan I’ve seen is for almost $4.70/gallon, but if lower price protection and installment payments, the price rises to almost $4.90/gallon. My auto-delivery last year usually resulted in about 200 gallons a delivery. These costs would put one tank fill up at well over 900 dollars or between 4- and 5-thousand dollars for the season.

I’m retired, and even though when I was younger I scoffed at the “fixed income” argument seniors used in protesting rising costs, I’m now one of those seniors. Unfortunately it’s not only we seniors but nearly all Mainers who are going to find themselves in serious financial difficulties over these rising prices. We have cut down considerably on driving which is helping the gas budget a little, and we can cut the temperature down on the thermostat next winter, but we still need warmth for survival.

The phone call and mail lies about the attempts to repeal the massive tax increase passed in the last Legislature. We got another phone call just yesterday along with a mailing earlier from some health organization urging us not to sign a petition for repeal. The campaign is simply lying to Mainers about what the repeal would do. This organization says that 18-thousand Mainers would lose their health insurance. They wouldn’t, at least not if the tax increase was repealed.

The callers and mailings don’t mention Dirigo. But Dirigo is what the tax increase is supposed to fund. The only thing that would change as a result of a repeal is the funding would have to revert to the funding plan currently in existence. That is a surcharge on what the state says is the savings resulting from its medical costs plans. That savings is artificial, though, as the state never explains where the alleged savings are from.

What could happen, and it would probably be the state’s only success with Dirigo, is the Legislature would finally admit that Dirigo is a massive failure and is not meeting even 11% of its goals during its inception five years ago. We were told it would be self supporting and more than 135-thousand uninsured would now be covered in its first five years. Depending on who is speaking, somewhere between 13- and 18-thousand are covered, nearly half of which already had insurance before they switched, and most currently are covered through welfare and not DirigoChoice, the insurance plan. And we are paying a massive tax to pay for it.

Think about all that, but even more importantly, do your own research and get the facts as you know them for yourselves. Don't just listen to me; do some research yourself. It might be scary, though. Once you do that, I’d bet you would sign the petition and, if it makes the November ballot, vote to repeal the beverage and insurance tax.

GiM

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Just a simple Tuesday!

One thing I like about Tuesdays and Thursday is those two days’ consistencies. This Tuesday is no different, except we do have one little diversion that happens periodically one of these two days. That diversion will come around mid day.

We started off today as we start every Tuesday and Thursday. With a trip to the physical therapy center for some senior fitness. It’s called “senior fitness” rather than therapy because it’s a voluntary thing and even though a physical trainer or a physical therapist is on duty, we are generally on our own. When we entered the program, each of us seniors was given a program designed for each of our needs. Occasionally, the trainer or therapist will walk by and make a suggestion. We all incorporate those suggestions into our routines.

I’m the newest member of the group. I joined 11 months ago. It would be wrong to say I’ve never missed a session since. In the winter time I will not venture outside my home when walking is icy so I missed two or three sessions last winter. I missed one other time when my cardiologist scheduled my annual stress test for the same time as the fitness program. I must say I do enjoy both the chance for exercise using “real” equipment and I also enjoy the camaraderie.

Back home my wife was hard at work with her spread out spring cleaning. She’s closing in on the end, but there still some spaces to go. Once the night moisture gets off the ground, if it gets off the ground, she’ll head outside. My wife really likes messing around the yard. Her vegetable gardens are already showing signs that we’ll be enjoying some great, fresh vegetables in the not too distant future. I’d like to think it will be in about three weeks, but what do I know? They’ll be eatable when they’re eatable.

The forecast says some rain will be moving into the region later on today and most of tomorrow. The weather people have been hinting at scattered, intermittent showers more often than not during the last several days. We did get some last Saturday, but generally my plot of Maine has missed them. In spite of last weekend’s rain, my place is desperately in need for some water. I do have an irrigation system, but it just isn’t the same.

And now that periodic diversion: We have chosen this day to eat out at one of our favorite inexpensive eateries. As I’ve said before, there’s a very nice, very small, hamburger stand over on the Gray Road in Falmouth. I like my hamburgers on the thin side and this place fits my tastes perfectly. I think WG (Wife Gator) prefers them just a little thicker, but she’s been humoring me for years. Before you get too excited and calling me names, we go to her favorite places just as often.

We’ll probably stop by that cheaper-than-most-other-places gas station over by Exit 48 on our way home. It isn’t much, but I can save a whopping nine or ten cents a gallon for gas. That would probably be at least 60 cents, or at least the cost of the Turnpike home. We stop there if we’re going to be in the neighborhood anyway.

The afternoon won’t be spending cleaning. WG will want to rest so she’ll be prepared for her part time job tomorrow. It’s an eight hour day that begins at 6 AM. Tuesday and Thursday afternoon usually give her a chance to just relax. I’d be very surprise if she doesn’t work on a puzzle. She has a thousand piece one going now and it’s extremely close to being finished. Right now it’s her favorite way to relax or wind down.

So, this Tuesday is like most Tuesdays. We do a few things. We take some time off. We enjoy each other’s company. And we get ready for another day.

GiM