Friday, December 31, 2010

The year Ends!

It's been quite a year, 2010 has.  And tonight it all draws to an end.  It seems to me we began this year with an almost daily report for several days on a "blizzard" that turned out the way almost all hyped storms turn out out.  I remember making daily updates for three or four days as Jan. 1st, 2010 rolled in. 

I guess this year tried to end the same way.  I have read reports of blizzard conditions in some areas and even my Frearless Friend said he had gotten nine or ten inches in his nearby town.  The Gator Swamp, however, missed a lot of that hyped storm.

Can you believe last evening's weather forecast?  WCSH meteorologist Keith Carson said our temperatures could reach into the 50s in at least parts of Maine tomorrow.  He also said the temperatures tonight will make for a very nice time out celebrating the arrival of the New Year.  And Keith's forecast was confirmed this morning by the same station's Kevin Mannix.

So, once again, the entire Gator Clan wishes you a Most Happy New Year.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy New Year

It's a little early to say what weather we here in Southern Maine are in for Sunday night into Monday, but the weather folk on Saturday had posted a Blizzard Watch for a possible 12-18 inches of snow.  We've learned in the past that it's the unexpected storm that leaves us the most snow, but every now and then they hit it right on.  We'll see what happens with this one; meanwhile, we'll make the necessary preparation just in case the forecast is correct.  (Edited Mon. mid-day:  And those past lessons continued to be proven in this storm.)

And now it's a week of ending and then a new beginning!  Christmas is behind us for 2010, and I truly hope each of you had a super one.  It surely was for the Gator Clan.  And now we're in for a week of the endless "The Best of . . . 2010" (you fill in the blank). 

Maine has already celebrated a portion of the beginning of a new year, and, potentially, a new ideal in the way the State conducts itself.  The Legislature has already been sworn in and we'll get a new governor in just a few weeks.  For the first time in about 40 years, Replublicans will lead us in both houses of the state legislature and in the governor's office.  Those elected individuals have a daunting task facing them in making changes to our economy that will slow down our rapid slide into socialism in our state and allow the business community to grow and create jobs.

Can, will, they achieve success?  Only time can answer that, but it will take bold courage to do it.  The big, unanswered question is do they have the courage?

I guess there's one negative for the outgoing year.  I didn't lose as much weight as I had hoped.

Well, perhaps two.  I'm a big guy and I surely do love cake.  I've been watching a commercial on TV for the last few weeks about a company that makes spices and things for cooking.  It featured a red velvet cake.  That cake sure did look good and even though I don't remember ever having one, I seemed like one I'd like.  Guess what?  Cakes don't taste too good made with packaged turkey gravy.

Changing the topic back to what it was for the past several weeks, the Gator Clan Village.  It'll survive for another week or two before the many pieces are put back in their boxes and packed away for another long eleven months sleep.

I think I have one thing for which to be grateful this week.  The Clan doesn't have any reason to fight the crowds at the return counters at the many stores.  On the other hand, this is the last week of the month and normally a group of us meet for lunch on the last Wednesday.  Annually, however, and this year was no exception, we cancel the December session just for the that "fighting the mob," mostly parking in our position in life, reason.

So, as this 2010 races to its close, the entire Gator Clan takes this opportunity to wish you a Most Happy New Year!


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

The entire Gator in Maine clan join this day in wishing you and yours
The Merriest of Christmases.

May this day bring you peace, joy, and happiness.


Friday, December 17, 2010

A Final Look at our Christmas Village 2010

Edited Thursday night for a final update:  We did end up with enough snow that should have given us a White Christmas, but we won't know the final outcome until after a mostly sunny day Friday with temperatures in the low to mid 30s if that "should have been" will end up being "did give."  The Thursday sunny afternoon did melt quite a lot of snow, and even though most of our yard is still sort of white, it may still be a little iffy for enough remaining Saturday to truly call it "A White Christmas."  In any case, the Gator Clan wishes you a Merry Christmas.  (This entire post will end sometime tonight.)

Edited Wednesday night for another update:  We had what I guess was light snow all day today, but the temperature melted it as it landed.  Tonight we in for relatively several hours of more snow and the forecasters say we could get from one to four inches by morning.  If that does happen, then the Old Gator Dude's hopes will again be up a bit hoping for a White Christmas.  With two sunny days before Christmas, though, it could be dicey. 

Edited Tuesday night for weather update:  We did have some non-accumulating light snow on the swamp today, but the "white" in "white Chistmas" is disappearing.  The weather folk are trying to convince us we could get some more snow late tomorrow which could help.  Meanwhile the Old Gator Dude's 'hopes' for a White Christmas continue to diminish.

Edited Monday night:  Wow!  Plowable snow!  It was beautiful.  Now the big question:  Will it last at least through Saturday to give us a White Christmas?  The Old Gator Dude surely does hope so, but has his doubts.

And now, back to the final look at our Chistmas Village:

The Gator Clan's annual Christmas Village was completed right on schedule. As you know, we begin assembling our collection of Department 56 village pieces on Veteran's Day with the goal of completing the display during the Thanksgiving Weekend each year. Our collection includes structures and accessories from the Victorian Village Series and the Dickens Village Series. It was officially "Lit" for the season on Saturday, Nov. 27th.

Here is a final look at just some representative pictures of the final display (click the picture for a larger view, then use the back arrow to return here or you'll leave the site):
Our, and many of our visitors', favorite scene is the Dickens Village Series which we use as a depiction of Charles Dickens' immortal A Christmas Carol, the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim.  At the rear center here and on the right edge of the display is our version of the cemetery where Scrooge began his final transformation into a "nice guy."  The cemetery is not Department 56, but was created several years ago by Anne at Romard's Hallmark Store in Portland.
In the middle of the Dickens' scene is the Village Center.  Here Charles Dickens is depicted on a small stage reading his famous story as much celebratory activity takes place around him.
What we call the main village is in the forefront as it looks across to the Dickens' section.
As we memorialized this year's Village, our regular Christmas Tree had not yet been placed.  But the Village display has its own Christmas Tree which we put in its own scene next to our fireplace.
And finally, if you glance back while leaving the living room heading to the eating area, you get a nice look at the transformation of the room into Christmas Village 2010.  The room will be returned to normalcy early in January.

We do not include all our pieces each year so that we can vary the village from time to time. This concludes this year's presentation of the Gator Clan's Christmas Village 2010 and this series will disappear sometime Christmas Eve.  If you missed them, you can see the earlier blog looks by selecting the appropriate title in the Archives on the right.

All the pieces in our collection including the villages' names, except the skating pond, bonfire, cemetery and base materials, are registered trademarks or copyrighted by Department 56, a division on Enesco, LLC.


Friday, December 10, 2010

A Third Look at the Finished Village 2010

The Gator Clan's annual Christmas Village was completed right on schedule. As you know, we begin assembling our collection of Department 56 village pieces on Veteran's Day with the goal of completing the display during the Thanksgiving Weekend each year. Our collection includes structures and accessories from the Victorian Village Series and the Dickens Village Series. It was officially "Lit" for the season on Saturday, Nov. 27th.

Here are some representative pictures of the final display (click the picture for a larger view, then use the back arrow to return here or you'll leave the site):
Here is a closeup look at one area of the display behind the sectional sofa.

The town's fire station is left center rear.  If you look closely, you'll see a fire brigade heading off on a mission.

The gentleman is watching the action in the Village Square.  (We'll show you that action next time.)

None of the display highlighted with a string of lights above the fireplace is Department 56.  On the entertainment center in the far left is our Department 56 Christmas Tree.  (That'll be highlighted next time, too.)

I'll change some of these pictures from time to time in the coming weeks so you can see more of the old Gator in Maine Village 2010. The village will be dismantled for another year in January.

We do not include all our pieces each year so that we can vary the village from time to time. All the pieces in our collection including the villages' names, except the skating pond, bonfire, cemetery and base materials, are registered trademarks or copyrighted by Department 56, a division on Enesco, LLC.


Friday, December 3, 2010

More Village 2010

The Gator Clan's annual Christmas Village was completed right on schedule. As you know, we begin assembling our collection of Department 56 village pieces on Veteran's Day with the goal of completing the display during the Thanksgiving Weekend each year. Our collection includes structures and accessories from the Victorian Village Series and the Dickens Village Series. It was officially "Lit" for the season on Saturday, Nov. 27th.

Here are some representative pictures of the final display (click the picture for a larger view, then use the back arrow to return here or you'll leave the site):

Let's begin with the foreman of the project sitting in her chair making sure we're putting the pieces in the right places.

As one enters our living room from the dining area, the first to part of the display to be seen is on a section behind one side of our sectional sofa.
Although we like to think the whole Village is rather impressive, the Dickens' portion remains one of our, and most visitors', favorites.
We have two small mountain scenes in the village.  One of them is in the front corner of the room behind the curve on the sectional sofa.
I'll change some of these pictures from time to time in the coming weeks so you can see more of the old Gator in Maine Village 2010. The village will be dismantled for another year in January.

We do not include all our pieces each year so that we can vary the village from time to time. All the pieces in our collection including the villages' names, except the skating pond, bonfire, cemetary and base materials, are registered trademarks or copyrighted by Department 56, a division on Enesco, LLC.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Village 2010 is complete!

The Gator Clan's annual Christmas Village was completed right on schedule.  As you know, we begin assembling our collection of Department 56 village pieces on Veteran's Day with the goal of completing the display during the Thanksgiving Weekend each year.  Our collection includes structures and accessories from the Victorian Village Series and the Dickens Village Series.  It was officially "Lit" for the season on Saturday, Nov. 27th.

Here are some representative pictures of the final display (click the picture for a larger view, then use the back arrow to return here or you'll leave the site):
This is the first sight one sees upon entering our living room.  The display begins behind the couch on the right, continues onto the window platform and then on to a village table on the left.  There also is a Christmas Tree display, also Department 56, on our entertainment center just off to the right.
A closer look at a couch section demonstrates some of the detail.  As you can see, there's also a skirt around the under structure to conceal some of the construction.
The section in front of the window is devoted to Charles Dickens' immortal story of Scrooge and Tiny Tim, A Christmas Carol.
The main village also includes the accessories that give some depth to the finished product.

It includes a skating pond in the middle of a woodsy section.

I'll change some of these pictures from time to time in the coming weeks so you can see more of the old Gator in Maine Village 2010.  The village will be dismantled for another year in January.

We do not include all our pieces each year so that we can vary the village from time to time.  All the pieces in our collection including the villages' names, except the skating pond, bonfire, cemetary and base materials, are registered trademarks or copyrighted by Department 56, a division on Enesco, LLC.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Village 2010 progress #5

Edited to add Thanksgiving night:   The Village is just about complete and right on schedule.  All that is left is to add the skirt to cover the underpinnings and the "Fresh Fallen Snow."  These two tasks, which should take about an hour,  will be accomplished, also as scheduled, Saturday and the Village 2010 will be officially lit.  I'll publish my final progress report sometime Sunday.

The construction of the Gator Clan's annual Christmas Village continues right on schedule and we are very pleased.  Each year we construct a Department 56®  Lighted collectible village as our celebration of the Christmas Season.  We begin construction on Veteran's Day with the Official Lighting sometime between Thanksgiving and that weekend.

You can see previous progress reports by selecting one of the "Village" posts under November in the blog archive to the right.

Perhaps you remember the beginning of our mountain of a few days ago.
We've added some trees and other accessories, all Department 56® creations, and this is how the mountain looks today:

We've also added accessories, including trees, to the section between a wall and behind our living room sofa:

One area, our Village Square which depicts the story of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, the story of Ebenezar Scrooge and Tiny Tim Cratchet, is about 90% completed with only some trees to be added this week.

And finally, the buildings, a river, a wooded section, and a skating pond have all been placed in the largest section of our village.  We'll be adding the accessories, people and trees, during the week and on
Thanksgiving Day.  This is exactly where we thought we'd be at this time.

We'll spend some time Thanksgiving carefully looking over the finished village.  We'll fill in any empty or bare spots we find with additional people, other accessories including trees, to complete the village.  Saturday, Gator Daughter and Gator Wife will put a skirt around the whole project to hide the under structure, including the wiring, and then the final step in the project, spreading Department 56 Fresh Fallen Snow®, throughout the entire Village 2010.

When darkness arrives, we'll officially light the village and our Christmas Season Celebration will be underway.

After the lighting, I'll take a final series of pictures to show you our completed Village.  That'll probably be Sunday.


Note:  Department 56, Department 56 Fresh Fallen Snow, and all villages mentioned in this series including the Victorian Village Series and the Dickens Village Series, are registered trademarks of Enesco, LLC.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Village 2010 progress #4

I had planned to wait until more of the Village we are assembling as our Christmas decoration was ready, but I've gotten a little excited about a brand new section.  We, Gator Wife and I, expanded our window section a little and began looking for a way to connect it with another section.

Wednesday, the idea jumped at us.  We'll put a river from one section to the other.  It along with a pedestrian bridge will connect the two sections.

Here's a first look:
This is very rough.  The contours haven't been made and the river sections (All Department 56, incidentally) have not yet been connected.  If all goes as planned, the river will flow from a waterfall in the back near the window down several layers and to a pond, which is part of Gator Daughter's forest section.  That'll be next to the river in the upper left.  The remainder of the section will be more village and we're thinking about including a waterfront scene.  Again, this is very far from finished as we're just formulating the plans.  But we're looking at it as a possibly exciting addition.
Meanwhile, work is continuing on the sections with buildings already added.  Accessories such as people and other items are being added.  We're still a long way from the trees, snow, and skirt that covers the under part of the display being added.  But it's taking shape.

And now, just for Mrs. Fearless Friend (FF's wife), here's a peek at another member of the clan.  Remember Gator Golden?
She turned seven years old last month.

If you missed them, you can see the first three progress reports by clicking a selection under "Blog Archive" in the right column.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Village 2010 progress #3

Right on schedule!  We have erected two village sections along our living room wall behind a couch and in our front window.

We begin our annual Christmas Village display on Nov. 11th, coincidentally our wedding anniversay, and officially light the completed project during Thanksgiving weekend.  This year we began a weekend early because of some enhancement to the base structures.

Our goal for the Nov. 13-14 weekend was to complete the bases, put up the Styrofoam® snow base on the couch and window sections, and position the houses and shoppes along with their lights. Our Village is a combination of the Department 56® and its Victorian and Dickens Village Series.

Although only the structures themselves are now in place, below is a mountain section; many more items, including Department 56 Village accessories, trees, people, and snow will be added.
The structures for the section behind our living room couch (below) have also been placed.  Like the mountain above, this section will also have accessories, trees and snow added.

I should note that the pictures in this post appear to be a little washed out.  That's simply because I was trying to be "cute" with my camera and show the buildings with lights on.  Just like in previous years, I'm still on the beginning end of the picture learning curve. 
The slightly expanded window section (above) is also about ready.  Those of you who have followed our Village in previous years, mostly on my web page, will see that this section, our popular display of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, doesn't change much.  The front left corner remains stark and square because it will be connected to the main section. 

The main section will be completed next weekend.  We'll begin adding the accessories during this week and next.  Then trees and snow will be added Thanksgiving Day.  Our goal is to officially light the completed Village during the Thanksgiving Weekend.  There's a small chance it will take place Thanksgiving Night, however.


Notes:  Department 56 and its Village Series mentioned here are registered trademarks of Enesco, LLC.  The various structures and accessories are also copyrighted by Enesco.  Styrofoam is a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical Company.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Village 2010 progress #2

Nov. 11th has come and gone and the Gator Clan's annual Christmas Village is well underway right on schedule.  Actually, it's a little bit ahead of schedule because we had made some village table changes last weekend.

Our village is a display of lighted structures and supporting accessories from Department 56® Heritage Village Collection.  Specifically, we combine the Dickens' Village Series and the Victorian Village Series.

We begin each year's creation on November 11th, Veterans' Day. Actually, the holiday has nothing to do with our village; that date also is our wedding anniversary. We complete the village and "officially" light it on Thanksgiving Weekend, giving us a little more than two weeks to complete the project.
If you should enter our living room right now, you'd be greeted what best can be described as a mess.  We have table parts, table top base material, and even some structures all around the room.  But, as you can see here, one section is already taking shape.

On the right is a little closer view of the uncompleted wall section, but it is well on it's way.  What you see here will probably undergo several changes over the weekend as we add contours for layering, giving some consistency to the placement of structures, and even put the lights in place.
Back on the left, our redesigned window section is also taking place.  That section will be connected to the third portion of the design as we attempt to create a fllow.  It'll probably be a "light" flow this season as we figure out exactly what it'll be in future showings.
Construction will continue through this weekend.  Our plan is to complete the wall/couch section (see top picture) this weekend and make some good progress on the window section.  That third section will wait until next weekend.

Meanwhile, Gator Daughter, who is a major help in our village construction, took more than three hours off Thursday so she could do her old Dad a super favor:  GD vacuumed up two weeks worth of leaves in our yard.  Unfortunately, not all have dropped yet and the lawn is already beginning it's new collection.

I'll have a weekend update on the progress of the the village construction Monday.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Village 2010 is underway!

I've stopped my ranting and raving and personal adventure tales.  Instead, now that the holiday season is upon us, anyone interested in following the construction of the Gator Clan's annual Christmas Village periodically can find progress pictures here.

Normally, our construction season runs from Veteran's Day into the Thanksgiving weekend, but this year we've decided to make some changes.  Actually, the major change was necessitated by the installation of a new bay window during the summer and by the installation of new carpeting last spring.

Some table legs on all our displays needed to be lengthened to make the tables stand relatively even.  We had cut some of the original legs about an inch shorter to accommodate a height variance between legs on the old carpet and wood floors near the walls. 

We began that project during October's last weekend.  The table in a space between the couch and wall was corrected.  This table actually extends much further into the front corner of the room.  A section there was also evened off. 

The original window table has also been corrected, but in this situation, all the supporting legs were lengthened to make the table top at the height of the couch.  Previously it sat on the window sill.  This change will allow a better viewing of our popular recreation of the Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

You may notice a gap between the window section and the main table section.  Since the two sections are now close to being the same height, we're going to connect them.  First, and it's the project for the Nov. 6th weekend, we have to change some of the main table legs, which are not secure here, and add the middle support legs.  Then the construction of the joining will begin. 

Thursday, Nov. 11th, we will add the table tops and begin the process of putting our collection into place.  I'll have some progress pictures here next weekend and you'll see the Gator Clan's Christmas Village 2010 taking shape.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

'Tis the season. Village season, that is!

I have stopped producing rants and raves (although it's been extremely tempting to offer something during the vicious election season and, added after election results known, extremely difficult not to break and comment) and personal adventure stories, but now we're approaching the Christmas season.  Yes, I'm politically incorrect and continue to celebrate Christmas and not just "the holidays."

Those of you who followed me in the past years know that Gator Wife and I, along with Gator Daughter, create a room filling lighted Department 56 Dickens/Victorian Village as part of our celebration.  Normally we start on Nov. 11th, Veteran's Day which is also our wedding anniversary (49th this year) and Light It signalling it's completion Thanksgiving Weekend.

We had a new energy efficient bay window installed in our living room during the summer and the infrastructure we made for the old one no longer fits.  That means this year we have some construction to accomplish and, because of our ages, GW and I decided we'd get an earlier start.

For those of you still occasionally checking in here to see if anything new has been posted, we will begin publishing "construction" pictures soon with representative pictures of the completed village here after Thanksgiving Weekend.  For those of you who have followed the full village on my personal website, we got a new version of our publishing program and if we can figure out how to make the slide show, it will be there, also sometime after that weekend.

(For followers of Gator Golden, if good pictures of her comes about, she'll occasionally be here, too.)

Our village will be in place until shortly after the new year.


Thursday, September 9, 2010


And now the sun has set.  Thank you.  It has been fun.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Nothing to add right now

My Daddy taught me many years ago that if you have nothing to say, say nothing.  So that's the way it is right now.  Perhaps later.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Election season underway; but only mentioned here for now.

I hope you had a good Labor Day Weekend.  The weather was certainly much nicer that it has been for a while and we even survived a one day hurricane threat that never materialized, at least in our little part of the state.

Now we're underway for the election season, and a pip it promises to be.  We have good candidates vying for governor, first and second district congress seats, and a host of local elections both for state legislative offices and local ones.

As I see and hear things that intrigue me, either in their ridiculousness or outright lies, or even good ideas, I'll pass them along with my thoughts.  But every day won't be a new slam on Maine politics.

So let's start this work week off with just a couple minor items that just intrigue me.  Both deal with advertising.  The first one is about those $19.99 plus shipping and handling offers that frequently offer you a second one "Free," just pay separate shipping and handling.  Well, in my way of thinking, if I have to pay anything, that thing isn't "free."  I should quickly point out that I've never bought one of those $19.99 TV items.

The other one is also a "free" offering.  One of the more popular readers, perhaps the most popular one, has just released the newest version.  It has two versions of its regular size reading device, one for $139 and one for $189.  The first version includes free wi-fi so people with home networks can easily download books, magazines, etc., for reading.  The second version, for $50 dollars more includes a free 3G connection.

I've probably missed something, but the advertising indicates that the connectivity in both versions is included free.  I can't help but wonder why the free 3G costs an additional $50. 

I don't have one, but the idea of a reading device is intriguing.  I do like to read and such a device with the literary material stored on a convenient sized device is something I've frequently contemplated owning.


Saturday, September 4, 2010


Other than the humidity, Hurricane Friday was a pretty nice day here in our little part of Maine.  We learned early that Earl, the hurricane, was dying out well south of us.  By the time it passed the coast near the Gators' home, it had all but fizzled out.

Just for the record, we did get a little light wind Friday night into Saturday morning and my rain gauge recorded about an inch and a quarter of rain.  By 6:30 Saturday morning, the rain had moved out of our area and we were already looking forward to the sun returning, which it did by mid-morning.

Once again, as happens very frequently with the weather people around here, we were deluged with super hype all week long about the ravaging potential of an approachinbg storm that fizzled out before getting here.  I suspect the local news media, and national, too, for that matter, love these storms as it gives them something to report.  They certainly have lost any ability to report any real, meaningful unbiased news.

Now we look forward to the rest of this Labor Day weekend, and with relatively nice temperatures it looks like it'll be a good end to traditional summer season.  Yes, I know, summer doesn't truly end for another three weeks, but we celebrate summer primarily in the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day. 

School also used to start right after Labor Day, but for some reason many now begin in the last week of August.  That major accomplishment seems to only screw up teens' summer jobs and family vacations.  But it also gives the education system a chance to add some of those incredibly valuable teacher workshop days to the school year.  (I hope you're reading the sarcasm here.)  Another accomplishment this year is some schools have already used up a winter "Storm Day" because of the oppressive heat and humidity of last week.

Labor Day also meant parades and festivities.  Politicians took advantage of the gatherings to kick off their runs for the November elections.  Now, of course, with a few notable exceptions, the Big Drive began right after last Novembers balloting or even sooner.

I hope you and your friends have a super Labor Day weekend and enjoy the family and friends' get-togethers as we all officially say "Good-bye" to Summer 2010 in Maine.  There is a bright side to that end this weekend; the temperatures and humidity will allow us to get a good night's sleep at last.

Added on Saturday:  I watched the Gators football game this afternoon.  This is going to be one mighty long season.


Friday, September 3, 2010

The hurricane cometh...or maybe not!

One might come close to assuming all the super hype of the past week was just as many of us thought...just super hype.  As this day broke, we learned that the Hurricane Earl is not going to wreak the damage on Maine, at least our part of the state, as we were led to believe.

First of all, that hurricane like most that hit the north Atlantic appears to be falling apart.  When it passes out to sea east of us in Southern Maine tonight it will have dropped to a tropical storm.  The latest observations indicate we'll get sustained winds of 25 miles and hour or less with gusts up to 35 mph.  We will probably get wet with one to as much as three inches of rain.

Now Downeast Maine will feel some somewhat stronger winds and possibly a little more rainfall, but as of now it would appear that the hurricane will be no more.  Trees, wires, boats, etc., are still facing the chance of some serious problems.

I haven't seen all the local weather forecasters' reports, but Earl seems to be doing just about what Ch. 6 meteorologist Keith Carson said it would do in his forecasts earlier this week. 

I'll keep this one short, but it certainly appears as if Earl will be just another hype that keeps news people busy for a period of time much longer than necessary.  I wonder if I would paise their work if we got a direct hit.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What will September bring?

September is here, and with it comes the end of summer.  Oh, that's not for another few weeks or so, but the end of this very strange season is rapidly approaching.  This is probably an understatement of the highest degree, but this has been one of the hottest, driest Maine summers I can remember, and I've lived here for all but a half dozen of my 70 plus years. 

September is starting out right where August ended.  Hot weather with temperatures in the 90s is a definite beginning.  A hurricane, or at least its effects, will also visit us.  Naturally, the super hype by local broadcasters has already begun.  Outside the weather, September begins the election season for me.  I don't recognize it until today, actually Monday, Labor Day.  What else?  We'll know in about 30 days.

Not including the storm that may be approaching for later this week, I've experienced one of the worst thunder storms I've ever seen.  The Gator home was struck by lightning in late July.  Gator Wife and I were in our den watching TV when for my first time, a bolt of lightning flew across the room between us and the TV and striking a phone.  Simulataneously a clap of thunder, perhaps the loudest I've ever heard, sounded as if it were in the middle of the room.

It caught our attention.  It also caught every phone in the house along with my furnace, my heart information tranmisstion device, our irrigation system, Invisible Fence, and garage door opener.  For some reason it skipped right over our TV, the cable box, the phone/internet modem, and all my computer equipment.  Those devices were all being protected by universal surge protection equipment.

There was no damage to the house or garage structures and within 48 hours, fast responding service folk of the various companies had everything back to normal.  It was an expensive ordeal, especially getting the furnace fixed, but my only cost was the deductible of my home owner's insurance.  Even the insurance company was fast resonding as I had my claim paid within two weeks.

But that's all history.  Now I'm joining you in wondering what, if anything, will visit us as the weekend approaches.  I do have my supply of toilet paper in, however.

You'll notice there aren't any pictures of Gator Golden included here.  Last weekend I took my trusty camera outside to get some new pictures.  The sun was high and seeing images in the viewing screen was a total impossibility.  The camera takes beautiful pictures but I will never again buy one that does not have an eye piece view finder.  I was unable to get any new pictures.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

September is right around the corner.

August ends today!

"Really?  Where's it going?"

"It rained more than 2 and a half inches on Wednesday.  What else is a girl going to do?"

Sunday, August 8, 2010


August continues.


Sunday, August 1, 2010


August is underway.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I guess we're taking another break.

If you have visited here in recent days, you know that the month of July has been particularly lacking in any thought provoking or entertaining material.  Perhaps the weather has caused the doldrums, but whatever caused the lack of thought has caused the Old Gator Dude to take a short vacation. 

Gator Wife and I have no particular vacation plans;  in fact, she'll be continuing her part time job.  It probably would have been nice if we had 20-20 foresight and had set this time for our planned trip to Branson, MO.  Alas, we don't have that foresight so that trip will be later this year.

No specific return date has been set, only when the old gray matter begins working again will we return.


Monday, July 19, 2010

A President Visited

The weekend wasn't much better than all last week.  The temperatures were right up there, but we didn't have the humidity.  When I heard WCSH meteorologist Kelley LeBrecque say that humidity would return Monday, I wanted to throw Gator Golden's squeaky toy at the TV.

Perhaps one good thing was the forecast of possible showers which could, in my humble wishing, wash the humidity away.  She did hint that perhaps mid week would be nicer.

At least after two weeks Gator Wife and I found a couple of hours of pleasant sea breeze so our lawn finally got mowed.  The sad part of it was, 90 percent of the yard didn't need to be mowed.  But we did it all to keep it even.  I guess even things that grow don't like the heat any more than I.

We have been enjoying freshly picked string beans and more will be on our plates tonight.

Those of you who like to see pictures of GG on here perhaps are wondering where they've gone.  GG is a long-haired Golden Retriever and she doesn't like the weather we've been having any more than the Old Gator Dude.  We'll get back to pictures when she starts moving again.

Maine had a prominent visitor this past weekend.  The President of the United States and his family spent the weekend in Bar Harbor.  I didn't drive there in hopes of seeing him.  I also suspect anyone who reads this space knows exactly my opinions of his leadership.  Nevertheless, Barack Obama is the President of the United States and I'm happy for those who did get to see him.  I honor the Office and if he were to visit the Greater Portland area, I'm sure I'd try to get a glimpse.

How'm I doing on not bringing up politics this summer?  I hope you don't consider the above a political comment.  If I were, I might ask a question:  How many initiatives have been passed in Washington that were "not perfect but a start for later improvement" and actually been improved?  Hmmmm?  I think I just made up that opening contraction.

I think I feel a little sorry for that organization that accepts clothing and other things for resale to get money to help people in need.  It seems like it has been forever trying to sell that "little black dress" it thinks everyone wants.  Apparently not.


Friday, July 16, 2010

A sort of productive funk

Wow!  You talk about a funk rut.  Boy, am I in one.  All I've been able to mention recently is the weather and how it has sapped all my writing ambition.  I'd bet anyone reading this messages has gotten that picture, too.

And, sadly, the weather forecast Thursday night didn't offer much hope for any real change until perhaps the upcoming mid-week.  In case you haven't figured it out, I hate this heat and humidity business.

One really good thing happened.  We have a new bow window.  My old window was leaking like that proverbial sieve so Gator Wife and I decided the time had come to replace it.  We knew we had made the correct decision when the window folk took the old window out of its place.  Water poured from it.  Had we not made the decision now, we could have been in for some huge problems not too far down the road.

GW and I also have finalized our planned vacation to Branson, MO.  A year or two ago I had received a phone solicitation offering me a low priced vacation there.  I think I may have said a few not so nice words because I do not do any business I do not originate.  As a result of that post, I received an e-mail from a Branson official who simply suggested it really is a great place and I should think about visiting some time.

We did a lot of research and discovered that Branson is a fantastic place.  A fellow senior fitness gent said he and his wife had been there and would absolutely love to visit again.  He described it as a Las Vegas without the gambling. 

GW dug out her penny jar once again and by this summer had put enough in it to make the trip.  We found a site on line that explained the more than a hundred shows available and we got the number down to what we had for a budget and have made reservations.  We are looking forward to that upcoming trip later this year.

I guess we can say that in spite of my funk the last several days we have had some good and productive moments.  In reality, as my Fearless Friend would say, "Life is good."

And now another weekend is upon us.  Perhaps we can break out of the rut.  In any case, I sure do wish you a happy, fun-filled July weekend.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Not much has changed as the humidity continues.

Not much has changed in the Old Gator Place.  We awoke Wednesday to more of that humidity that has plagued us for too many days.  One small difference, some heavy rain passed through the area.  We needed the rain, but it didn't wash out the humidity.

We almost had a new bow window installed Tuesday.  I say "almost" because it wasn't a one day project.  We had one that leaked rather badly at times so it will be nice not having to wipe water away during each rain storm.  We needed the replacement.  A replacement window by a differenent company a fews years ago had water pouring out of the "sealed" unit as the crew removed it Tuesday.

The new one also looks just super compared to what we had.  The crew had to return to complete some finish trim.

Tuesday also was Gator Wife's birthday.  She now is over 21.  Of course she's been over 21 for more than 21 years.  We have a tradition in our family that the birthday person gets to choose a restaurant for a celebration meal.  I think we all have settled in on a local (national chain) steak house.  Because of the construction, she rescheduled her meal to Wednesday.

That's about it for this period of time.  I would love to see this horrible warmth and humidity find another place to torture.


Monday, July 12, 2010

The only highlight: Fresh, really fresh vegetables

The weekend weather did have cooler temperatures.  The humidity didn't get the message.  And the hot, humid weather continues.

There's only one positive thing I can say:  Monday's evening meal will include the first picking of really fresh, delicious string beans from our own garden.  Picked in the afternoon and eaten in the evening.  What could be fresher!

And, my goodness!  Were they ever good!!!!!

But, the hot, humid weather is continuing, says the weather people of Channel Six.  And there's nothing else to say.


Friday, July 9, 2010

The weekend will bring the weather break we need.

This past week has been just about one of the laziest weeks I've had in a very long time.  Except for trips Tuesday and Thursday to my senior fitness session, I haven't been away from the house.  I blame the blasted heat and humidity we've had and justify my lack of activity to those warnings we older folk get not to overdo.

Except for the humidity, Thursday didn't turn out too badly.  We did have a nice breeze through most of the day and those temperatures for the first time on the Gator Land didn't hit the 90 mark.  But the humidity continued.

According to the TV weather people Thursday night, all that humidity should find its way out of here as a cold front passes through Sunday.  Saturday will probably be a wet day.

I read about the Emmy nominations for TV excellence the other day.  I almost laughed out loud.  I haven't watched any of the programs or knew about any of the actors and actresses that received nominations, except one.  I am a fan of the Law and Order series on NBC and 14 or 15 of the other cable channels.  Mariska Hargitay was nominated as an outstanding leading actress in a drama series.

It's sort of sad that I live in such a sheltered world and am so set in my ways that I am completely unfamiliar with all of the other nominations.

I am looking forward to one of the new shows arriving this fall.  Remember Hawaii Five-O?  It was a fun cop show from at least 40 years ago.  I think it actually began airing on CBS in 1968.  It was a fun show and incredibly predictable.  CBS is bringing it back to life in the fall.  Of course there's a new cast but the characters remain the same.  McGarrett, Danny Williams, and the others will be ressurected.

I suspect it won't be the same, though, for those of us who followed the series through the '70s.  I might have thought the show could have been brought back with different names for the characters.  Nevertheless, it'll be fun to hear "Book 'em, Dano" once again.

Gator Wife gave me some good news the other day.  It looks like we'll have our first picking of fresh yellow and green beans during the coming week.  Perhaps as early as Monday.  I love fresh veggies and she now has me yearning for the fresh feasting to begin.

Finally this weekend, unbelievable news hypes about stories I could care less about will end.  The LaBron James choice of Miami ended that "Who really cares?" mess as we'll probably see him a huge loser next year.  And Sunday the other "Who really cares?" one, the World Cup of Football (international soccer) will end.  I haven't watched second one of that series, yet; and there's a 100% chance I won't Sunday, either.

We're finishing up a slow week.  I hope the coming one will bring us some activity.  I hope you enjoy your weekend and stay dry.  And cool.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I don't like heat!

We've been through a rather uncomfortable weather period here on Gator Land.  In fact, much of this part of Maine has had the same experience.  Heat and Humidity.

I'm not personally constructed to handle that combination and have found the past few days to be just awful.  Technically, I guess, officially we have not had a heat wave.  According to Kevin Mannix on WCSH6 TV, we must go through three successive days of 90 degrees or higher temperatures.  Our region, according to the "official" temperature site, hasn't.  I don't know just where that official site is, but I suspect it's the Jetport.

However, UNofficially, the Gator Place has been in a big heat wave.  We hit 90, actually the mid 90s, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.  Perhaps the weather people would say we don't qualify, but my mind and readings sure do contradict "official."

Even worse, the humidity has made life extremely uncomfortable, especially if one needs to go outside.  Fortunately for the Gators, Dude and Wife, we had central air conditioning installed back in the mid 1990s.  So our little place has been air conditioned.  That doesn't help, though, when we have to go outside for necessary tasks.

Tuesday did its part for an official heat wave.  Portland had a record 95 degrees which broke the old record by four degrees.

Joe Cupo, the chief meteorologist at WCSH6 said Tuesday evening that we are in for more oppressive temperatures right into the weekend.  He was forecasting 80s and low 90s continuing, so perhaps we'll get that heat wave after all, although not everyone will hit the 90s.  I think I might be among those who hope my area is among those "not everyone" places.  And it could be; the lower temperatures were for areas along the coast.

But, the humidity will continue through the period, so the Gators probably won't be doing much.

I did have one accomplishment Tuesday, however.  In spite of the weather I went to my senior fitness session and completed some workout situations.  I did cut some of the activity back as my age dictated that I not overdo in the heat.

It'll be personally interesting to see what Thursday's session will bring.
What does that leave the old Gator to do this week?  Simple.  Be lazy.  And I'm succeeding.  Therefore, I don't have anything to offer you today to stimulate your thoughts.  Stay cool.  This weather is supposed to break over the weekend.


Monday, July 5, 2010

For many, more holliday weekend

The Holiday Weekend continued Monday for many people.  For state workers and other government workers, it was  regular day away from the job completing a four day weekend.  Most of those state employees, however, probably didn't enjoy the first day as it was a forced, unpaid day off to help pay for the state's huge budget deficit.

Some companies and small businesses also remained closed Monday, but not the supermarket for which Gator Wife works.  She was at her part time job preparing sandwiches and salads so others could have good meals, many of them picnics or days at the beach.

Tuesday, the normal week begins once again and now we all look forward to the next holiday weekend which doesn't come until September.

There was one terrible report in the news over the weekend as a breakdown of the new taxes and tax increases we'll be facing next January was made public.  All these tax increases are from the federal government and include increases in income tax levies with higher rates and fewer deductions as well as new taxes to pay for the new federal health care plan.

I read about them on the Drudge Report and we are certainly in for some change.  I'm not sure we're going to like those changes.  I don't know if it's still there or not, but a Google search probably could get you links to the increases.  They are going to be eye-catching and shocking.

We also learned over the weekend that our state government is faced with another budget crisis.  Because certain bills have not been passed in Congress, at least yet, Maine's hoped for increases in Medicaid payments will not happen.  Unless Congress changes its collective mind, that will mean another huge cut in the state budget for this fiscal year which has already begun.  Early reports indicated education will take the biggest hit.

Those local education budgets are already what school officials call "bare bones."  According to several administrators quoted over the weekend in various sources, if those cuts do materialize, it could mean the cutting of programs and personnel.

Speaking of cutting personnel, how about that specious employment report released over the weekend.  Government officals were praising their own actions as the jobless rate dropped from 9.7% to 9.5%.  Looks good on paper, but one had to read lower in articles to see that in reality, a lot more people lost their jobs than were hired in the period.  The drop resulted not from greater employment but rather from workers dropping out of the job market.

Much of those dropouts were the result of Congress not extending workers' compensation benefits and many laid off workers were no longer eligible to receive aid.  Many of them simply have given up.  If not working to find a job, one is not counted in the unemployment rate, thus last month's cut.

And so it goes.  One can only wonder when, if, it all will finally get turned around.  I certainly don't believe raising taxes will be an answer.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, America!

Today we celebrate our nation’s birthday so I resurrected today’s tribute from our July 4th post in 2008 and made some slight modifications.  (You can see that original post here.)

Many folk use this day not only to honor America but also to celebrate with family and friends together. The Gator clan will be having its cookout this evening. Celebrations will be held about anytime from noon on and many folks will head out for some spectacular fireworks demonstrations. I understand the fireworks display in Portland will be held as scheduled, weather permitting, thanks to the generous donations of area business folk. Unfortunately, the economy has stopped or slowed down celebrations in many communities around the nation.
On this day, we celebrate the 234th year of the Declaration of Our Independence from England. We thank and honor all those who have come before us and those during our time that have made sacrifices to make sure our Freedoms long endure. So on this day, let’s all join in and sing Irving Berlin’s immortal “God Bless America”:

God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above
From the mountains To the prairies,
To the ocean white with foam
God bless America,
My home sweet home.

Happy Birthday, America!


Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy Holiday Weekend

We begin another weekend, the first one in July.  This weekend is just a little different than most, however, as we celebrate a holiday.  We salute all the wonderful young men and women who are spending this holiday doing their best to be sure we can have more.  Sunday we celebrate the birth of our nation.

Along with the normal holiday fare, we are going to see some heat.  The weather forecast is calling for temperatures to reach into the upper 80s, possibly even into the 90s in some areas, Sunday and probably into the 90s in most areas Monday.  Wow!

The Gator Clan will probably perform a few weekend-type duties, like Gator Wife and Gator Daughter checking on the crops while The Old Gator Dude keeps an eye on the two Golden Retrievers that are part of our combined family.

Seaking of the Goldens, in the last post I had a picture of Gator Golden paying strict attention to a nearby chipmunk which was just outside GG's Invisible Fence.  That was the best picture in the series I was able to capture, but here is another:
She's hoping beyond hope the chipmunk will make a mistake.  Of course, it didn't.

This weekend will be an especially happy time for one member of our family.  Our niece, the daughter of GW's brother, and a Scarborough police officer will become a married couple Saturday.  That wedding, of course, is high on our weekend agenda.  We sincerely wish the greatest and longest happiness of the young couple as they enter this new phase of their lives.

GW and I like ice cream.  I'd bet most people do.  We've been seeing an advertisement of the TV lately for a new cone from one of the larger ice cream and other dairy product companies.  The picture of the treat on the television shows a nice waffle cone with a huge amount of ice cream showing above the cone and some chocolate peanut butter cups on top.  It is dripping with chocolate and caramel sauce.

It looked delicious so GW brought a box home for us to try.  Except that all that ice cream above the cone apparently didn't quite make the cones we bought, the ice cream was typical of that company:  Pretty good.  The caramel swirl ice cream inside the cone was nice and those little cups with a small amount of chocolate sauce on the top were just about as we expected:  good.

Basically, the ice cream sundae part of the cone was very good.  But that waffle cone, now that's another story.  It may have been the singularly worst waffle cone I've ever had.  GW said about the same thing for hers.  It had the consistency of wet cardboard.  Too bad.  We decided that box of those cones will be the last this house will ever see.  The box, incidentally, held five cones.

Finally, another gripe.  Google hosts this blog and makes the space available to bloggers free.  I'm happy with that but now must take a chance of getting the company angry with me.  Although I do have my own web domain, in fact I own four of them, I use the Google News page as my home page.  I've spent quite a while customizing it to present to me the news I want.  Google, you see, spans the world looking for key words in news articles and making those articles available.

Thursday my home page looked totally different.  Google, in its collective wisdom, decided that it knew more of what I want than I do.  Although the custom series I want can still be generally accessed, my home page is no longer laid out "my way."  And that new page is loaded with 80% of news I have zero interest in.  The layout has also changed from neat sections to a crowded page.

I hate it!

I can't really complain because the price is right, but I sure do wish Google would give me the option to return to a functional page I can use rather than the dysfunctional one it thinks I need.  I found a short section on the Google site of comments on the change.  At the time I read them, not one person had a good word to say about it.

Perhaps I'll have to return to one of my own home pages once again.

By the way, I mentioned my feelings to my Fearless Friend.  He also uses the Google News page.  He wasn't as unhappy with the change as I said I was, so I'd have to admit the negative feelings of that change are probably not universal.

Enjoy your holiday weekend.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It's a slow time

I knew summer would be slow.  I'm not sure I expected it to be as slow as it is, however.  Thinking of stuff about which to write isn't easy when one is really just enjoying living.  I had said right after the June 8th Primaries that I'd stay away from mentioning politics until Labor Day and, except for one little moment, I've stuck to that.

Gator Wife and I have taken just one short trip so far this summer so I don't have travel to mention.  We are considering taking another one later on to Branson, Missouri, but we're only in the thinking/planning stage for that one.

GW works four mornings a week so that cuts down on day trip activities.  Gator Daughter comes over weekends so I get a chance to mention that.  Gator Golden is just Gator Golden.  There's a picture of her just below a bit.

I guess that's just the way is for an older person in his mid-70s. 

I've mentioned several times about the various critters around here knowing the boundary of Gator Golden's territory.  She's bound by an Invisible Fence.  The critters stay just beyond the wire and sort of dare her to come after them. 

The other day a chipmunk sat on a bridge across a brook separating our property and our neighbors'.  The little guy had seen Gator Golden and just sat there as if daring GG to come to the bridge.  Of course she couldn't as it was beyond her wire line.

But that chipmunk did hold GG's attention for a while.  She'd stand in one place for a few minutes, move a few feet to another, and then creep to the line, but wouldn't cross her safe zone.  She entertained us for several minutes before the chipmunk had enough.  Actually, the little critter fled the scene when I moved to try to get GG and her nemesis in the picture together.

Nevertheless, here's GG standing very attentive waiting for another move by the chipmunk.

Next up for us all, a nice, happy Fourth of July Holiday Weekend.