Saturday, December 28, 2013

And now the year draws to a close

Now the memories of 2013 begin as the year's final weekend is in full swing.  There are too many good memories of the year to mention them all here, but the year certainly wasn't the worst we've had. 

One not so nice thing did happen:  I voluntarily stopped driving.  It's hard to believe that it's been almost a year since Jan. 11th when I had a new heart event and my doctor told me I had to stop driving for six months.  He did give me permission to resume and sent the necessary paperwork to the license bureau, but I still had pictures of "what could have happened" in my head and my wife and I decided to hang up the keys was best and I sold my car.

Gee.  I started out with we had good memories and then immediately broke into the one negative.  That wasn't very nice of me.  One of those good ones was the introduction of our daughter's new puppy into our family.  We were very happy when our older dog totally accepted that new Hellfire, a perpetual motion machine, and that the young and the old coexist rather nicely.

My wife and I are learning that one of the best investments we've made in our home also took place earlier this year when we had a new pellet stove replace our fireplace.  We did get one big enough to generally keep our whole living space comfortable and we have saved "a ton of money" on oil.  The thing is thermostat controlled so we don't have to seemingly continually feed it logs as we did the old fireplace.  The pellet stove is also much more efficient than the fireplace ever was.

Christmas, of course, is over and our Tree is packed away for another year.  Yes, we switched to an artificial tree several years back. That year we took down our last "real" one and discovered its branches were getting very brown where the low voltage lights had been resting.  The needles came off simply by having anyone look at it and we decided it was too close to bursting into flame to try continue to use a real tree.

Finally, remember our Village?  We construct a collectable village as our celebration of Christmas.  Here are two scenes, the one on the left is a portion of the main Victorian section and the right one is a skating pond scene designed by our daughter.  The coming week is its final week for this year.  We'll begin disassembling it New Year's Day and have it all boxed and put away for next year by next weekend.

Speaking of New Year's Day, although the day isn't an official beginning to the 2014 state political races and the national Congressional races since they've been underway since the last elections, slowly the political scene will be heating up, if it can get any hotter, between now and Fall.  We can't ignore them and I won't stop believing the "good old days" were better when those races didn't begin until shortly before primaries in September getting ready for November elections.

Now we never seem to elect the persons best representing our positions and honestly conducting our business, either in Augusta or Washington, but rather electing the people on whom special interest groups spend the most money to support their wants. 

Jan. 1st is also when most of us really will begin to realize that we've been scammed by the health care issue.  The warnings of the true cost, both in premiums and new taxes, will begin to show their ugly heads.  Have you received your notice of changes in the paycheck taxes beginning Jan. 1?  I have along with probable increases in insurance rates.

I might follow some of the political scene and the effects of the "Affordable" health care act in my ramblings this coming year.  Now, I hope you enjoy the effects of our climate change and global warming.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

A super day!

What a wonderful day Christmas was!  At least in our family.  Because of the size of our small remaining family in Maine, our celebration is small, but each of us got what we wanted or needed and the Christmas dinner was its usual deliciousness.  It would be nice to duplicate the day another time, like next year.
Naturally, it was the pups that had the best day.  Our ten-year old Golden Retriever Mariah and our daughters six-month Golden puppy brandy first started out examining a bag full of new toys that awaited them.

That's Brandy in near right.

I don't think Santa knew what noise that small soccer ball made.  Instead of a usual doggy toy squeaky noise, the ball sounds the roar of a crowd.  I'm not sure what will happen first...the disappearance of the toy or our insanity.

One thing is for sure, neither animal will be without toys for a long time.

It was a cold day in Maine and many folk in our state had to celebrate without electricity.  And some of those folk won't get their power back until later today or tomorrow.  I guess I'm selfish in my happiness that our family wasn't among them.

Now the time has come to begin looking ahead to a brand, new year.  It is still about a week away, but we're hoping it'll be a great year.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

The entire Gator in Maine congregation
wishes you and yours
The Merriest of Christmases.

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


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Possibly not a nice weekend (Editied Monday AM)

Edited Monday morning to update weather
We did get some light icing over the weekend, and it hasn't stopped yet.  Our neck of those woods could come sometime today.  Other areas were much worse off than ours, but we did a thin coat of ice primarily as a result of some rain or freezing raid overnight Sunday.  So on this next to last day before Christmas, those of you who must go out to work or shop should exercise caution and take it easy.  Give yourselves a little extra time, especially this Monday morning.
It's hard to believe, isn't it, that this is the last weekend before Christmas, 2013.  Unfortunately for us here in Maine, and in a large portion of the whole country for that matter, we're in for a lousy weekend.  Ice, snow, rain, freezing rain will disrupt that final weekend for shopping before Christmas and travel for millions who use this weekend to get to Grandma's house for the holidays.
Our little section of Maine is looking at an "iffy" weekend.  The weather reports don't seem to really know on this Saturday morning just what kind of weather we'll be getting here.  Freezing rain, which would make travel treacherous, seems to be the major consensus here along the immediate coast, which is where I live.  Or, we're told it could be just rain.  Not very far inland, only a few miles and perhaps as close as my Fearless Friend lives, ice could be terrible situation.
What's the difference between freezing rain and ice, you ask?  In a word, severity.  Ice has the potential of being much more destructive as it makes trees, wires, etc., very heavy and often causes them to break and fall.  Freezing rain, which also can be dangerous, tends to disrupt the roadways more than anything else.  Of course, most ice starts out as freezing rain.
As I understand it, both begin very high up when warm weather is passing over cold weather at the earth's surface and produces rain.  Whatever happens this weekend, we are told the travel and weather conditions are going to be simply awful, and it could last right into Monday morning.
Way up in northern Maine, snow, a whole lot of snow, will be the interrupter.
Whatever happens where you live, use extreme caution if you head outside and don't forget to occasionally check on your neighbors, especially the elder ones.
I, for one, am especially happy this weekend as all our family shopping has been completed and our presents are wrapped and patiently awaiting Wednesday.  And my wife Sandra should be home from her Saturday job well before all the weather starts later today, Saturday.
Our yard no longer looks quite like the picture below as it is snow covered from this month's storms, but just before the winter weather set in, Our Golden Mariah and her new playmate puppy, Brandy, our daughter's newest addition, were having a good time outside.  Mariah looks puzzled trying to figure out what the puppy could possibly find more interesting than Mariah's big ball.

This is another of my computer's desktop slides.
Hey!  It's now 8:02 on Saturday morning.  Do I see the sun adding more puzzle to the weekend forecast?  I think I do; I think I do!
I hope you have a safe and trouble free weekend as you and your family prepare for a Very Merry Christmas.
P.S.  BTW...I'm having some error message problems with Blogger.  Please excuse any mistakes, especially formatting ones, until I can figure out how to fix them.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Like most users of Windows, especially Win 8, I have a series of my favorite photos which rotate every few minutes to give me a new desktop background.  I much prefer the old desktop over the new tiles that come with Win 8.  All my desktop automatic slide show pictures are of our dog, Mariah, or both our dog and Brandy, our daughter's puppy. 
In case anyone is interested, I'm thinking of returning to some form of blogging after Christmas.
We got around a foot of snow over the past weekend and expect a little more Tuesday night.  I forgot to take Sunday pictures of the storm.  Perhaps this old head can remember to do it Wednesday. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Back to the pups

I've had this one on here earlier, but it is one of my favorites; so I thought I'd give you something other than the completed Village to view.  It's also one of my rotating desktop backgrounds.
That's our dog Mariah with our daughter's new puppy Brandy.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas Season has begun; The Village 2013 is completed!

Our goal every year is to complete and light our presentation of a Department 56® collectible Victorian Collection© and Charles Dickens Collection© during Thanksgiving Weekend.  We begin our project on Veterans' Day and work on it mostly during weekends when our daughter can help us.  We dismantle the Village shortly after New Year's Day.

We've been putting progress reports here and so these are probably among our last words on the Village for this year.

All the structures and a few accessories are electrified so the last act of construction is to "flip the switch."  Right on schedule, we "flipped" it Thanksgiving night.

The majority of the pictures I take of the project have now been published on my personal website for family and friends.  However, I've chosen six to show you here.

The Village is divided into five areas.  The one above is what we call "The Main Section."  You can see the structures and accessories on the table, but you can't see the Department 56 Fresh Fallen Snow that, when viewed at our home, gives it the winter wonderland feel.  Way off in the back corner is a mountain with a lodge and many woods creatures.

This close-up of one part of the Main Section gives a little more idea of the detail throughout our display.

The Skating Pond is also a featured Main Section creation.  The pond was built by our daughter but the figures and accessories are Department 56.

In our front window area is the story of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.  Nearly all the structures and accessories are from the story.  It is probably the favorite section of most of our visitors.
There's a lot of activity in the Dickens Village Square.

Finally, we have this view from a narrow section that runs the length of one side of our sectional sofa against the wall. 

I hope you've enjoyed our quick look at the family Christmas Village.  Friends and family can see the full photo gallery on my personal website.  If I had a clue on how to post such things as the gallery on Facebook, I would have done it, too.

Merry Christmas, Dave

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Village - 2

As you know, we, i.e. my wife, daughter and I, erect a village display in our living room as our celebration of the Christmas season.  We start work on the project on Nov. 11th, not because it's Veteran's day, but because it is also my wife's and my wedding anniversary.  Our goal is to have the display lighted and ready for enjoying during Thanksgiving Weekend.

We were ahead of schedule this year.  In all fairness, because the 11th was on a Monday, we got our start on the previous Saturday giving us a two day head start.

I have three scenes from the Village to show you today.  The one above depicts Charles Dickens reading his A Christmas Carol to listeners in a park in his section of our display.  Below is another view of the Town Square park.

My problem of the flash washing out parts of pictures has been corrected, thanks to Adobe, and the corrected pictures will appear when I give you a final peek in the next post. 
All of the structures, people, carts, and other similar accessories are collectibles from the Department 56® Victorian and Charles Dickens collections.  About 90% of the trees are from Department 56 as is all of the "New Fallen Snow."  Two major areas are homemade: a cemetery and a skating pond.

In all of these pictures I'll blame the weekend's high winds for the leaning of some of the trees.
The full photo gallery on my personal website will feature all corrected pictures.  The website is scheduled to be completed this weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nothing fancy here this day;  just a very simple

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.  I hope you enjoy this bountiful day.  And don't forget to be thankful for the wonderful food you have been provided.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Village is ready -- 1

As you know, we, i.e. my wife, daughter and I, erect a village display in our living room as our celebration of the Christmas season.  We start work on the project on Nov. 11th, not because it's Veteran's day, but because it is also my wife's and my wedding anniversary.  Our goal is to have the display lighted and ready for enjoying during Thanksgiving Weekend.

We were ahead of schedule this year.  In all fairness, because the 11th was on a Monday, we got our start on the previous Saturday giving us a two day head start. 
I have three scenes from the Village to show you today.  Each of these are from a long, narrow section behind on leg of our sectional sofa.  My flash washed out some of the pictures, but you can see the intricate detail we attempt to include.
I'll work on that flash situation before I publish a full gallery on my website.
All of the structures, people, carts, and other similar accessories are collectibles from the Department 56® Victorian and Charles Dickens collections.  About 90% of the trees are from Department 56 as is all of the "New Fallen Snow."  Two major areas are homemade: a cemetery and a skating pong.
All these samples come from a section we call The Couch Section.  In all of these pictures I'll blame the weekend's high winds for the leaning of some of the trees.
We'll have three samples from the most popular section, a representation of Charles Dickens' story of Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim in the next showing in a day or two.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Village Weekend 3

From a display out of the past.
Our annual Christmas Village celebration of the season is completed and ready for viewing.  However, we'll maintain our annual plan of officially lighting it and opening it for display on Thanksgiving.  But it is finished for this season one weekend ahead of schedule.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Village 2nd weekend

Last time we told you that our village 2013 is well underway.  You can read about the village itself here in the last post.  Our goal every year is to begin the construction of the village on Veterans' Day, Nov. 11th, and complete it for showing that Thanksgiving Weekend.  We started on time but it now looks like we'll be finished this coming weekend.

We won't open it officially, though, until after Thanksgiving as the village is our celebration of the Christmas season, which in our house runs between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, or unofficially until New Year's Day.

We completed the construction of the tables we created to hold the display of Department 56 Victorian and Dickens collections structures and accessories.  This year's structures have all been placed and trees and accessories have been added to a large portion of the display. 

A limited edition of Charles Dickens' reading his story, A Christmas Carol, highlights the central section of our display .  Most all the pieces in this section highlight places in the story.  Those three buildings in the back, for example, are Ebenezer Scrooge's home, the Scrooge and Marley office, and Nephew Fred's home.

As we place the structures in the "main" section of our village, you can get an idea of what our table structure, Styrofoam base, and wiring looks like.  Once completed, we put a skirt around the whole layout to conceal everything under the very top.

Many of the trees have not yet been added, but we have five boxes of them, two shown here, just waiting to give some life to the display.
During the week we'll add most of the trees and accessories and next Saturday and, perhaps Sunday, my wife and daughter will put the skirt around the outside.  The final touch, New Fallen Snow, also Department 56, will be sprinkled about and our village 2013 will be completed, but waiting for another week before it becomes official.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Village Time

As we've done for years, we began construction of our Christmas Village during the Veteran's Day Holiday Weekend.  We made some pretty good progress, too.  It helps to be using the same basic table (base) design for the third year in a row, but the placement of the structures and accessories change annually.

About 99% of our Village arises from Department 56® Victorian© and Charles Dickens© collections.  Even the Newly Fallen Snow© is from the collections.  We do have a skating pond and a few trees that are not Department 56.  The Village uses one wall section between part of our sectional sofa and a wall, the entire window section and the area behind the other section of the sofa is the story of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, the story of Ebenezer Scrooge.  The biggest section is near our front door.

We're off to a good start this year and will easily meet our goal of officially lighting the completed Village during Thanksgiving weekend.

Here is the wall section mostly completed:
We still need to add the accessories like trees to this section, but that will wait until the final weekend.  The last to be added to the table tops is the snow and then we conclude with a skirt around all the tables.
The structures for the window section and some of the accessories are now in place in about half of the window section.  When it is completed, it will consist mostly of structures and people in the Christmas Carol story.  Annually, this is the most popular section of our presentation.  That white box in front contains the next structure to be added, but we were getting tired as stopped here.
Still to come is what we call the "main" section, part village, part farmland, part woods and mountain.  That has not yet been started.  We have a waterfront group of structures and accessories that we're considering adding this year after a couple years absence.  That may not happen, though, as we're still in the talking/planning stage for the main. 
Another part of our collection is mostly rather large pieces and very much out of scale with the rest.  We had hoped to include them this year, but they look so out of place, that plan may be abandoned.  In years past those pieces had a table display all to themselves when our Village was in three rooms.  We've now consolidated all the presentation into just the living room.
Now the construction phase is "on hold" until this next weekend.  We'll show you the progress then when the weekend is over.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Busy, busy weekend

Edited:  Monday, Nov. 11:  This is a very important day.  First, Thank You to all you veterans' for protecting us for the past couple hundred years.  We really do appreciate what you have done and offer you our humble salute.
However, another very important event is also being celebrated today in our home.  It was 52 years ago today that my wife Sandra and I gave our vows in our church.  We've had 52 always wonderful years even though we, like everyone, have faced some tough times.  Perhaps it was facing those times that got us here today as they were faced and conquered together.  The very best part is the good times will continue after today.  So, to my super wife Sandra, thank you for 52 great years of trust, growth, and companionship.  I'm very happy that they are continuing.
Happy Anniversary, Sandra.  I love you even more than I did on the November day in 1961.
And now, back to my normal blogging.  And village construction continues. . .

Hmmm.  I wonder why she isn't interested in my big ball.
The family fun begins this weekend.  Oh, it has nothing to do with the two dogs playing outside, although weather permitting they will get a lot of time.  No, this is the weekend we celebrate 52 years of our family being a family.  Well, two of us, anyway.  A daughter and a son joined us later in the 1960s.
Monday is Veteran's Day, the day we traditionally begin creating our seasonal (Christmas) village.  This year we're taking advantage of the honor vets day to have our daughter here each weekend day, including Monday, to begin putting it together.  If all goes well, and it should, we plan each year to have the village completed and lighted by the end of the weekend following Thanksgiving.  We have almost three weeks this year.
Our village is constructed from Victorian and Charles Dickens' collectables from Department 56.
Our outside landscape is about to undergo a major change.  We arranged today for a couple of very old, large, probably diseased (according to the arborist), and dying oak trees to be removed.  One problem we've had with them for the last few years is the snow and ice on their limbs in the winter.  Some of those limbs are between the power lines coming into our home.  Winds cause the limbs to bounce off the wires and a couple years ago even pulled the line out of the side of our house.
They have completed their useful life.  There's a good chance I won't miss the acorns, though.
My goodness.  That got me thinking.  I sure hope someone doesn't determine I've completed my useful life while I'm still alive. 
Have a great weekend yourself.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Maine, a Center of Volcanoes

Our little grand puppy visited us today (Sunday).

Here are a couple of new pictures that show a little how well our 10-year-old dog and our daughter's puppy have adjusted to each other.

On the left is Mariah, our dog with her ever present ball, and Brandy racing to see it. 
The two of them seem to have found a scent of something and are wondering what it is.

Did you watch on TV or, even better, go to Boston to see the Red Sox Rolling Rally to thank the fans for supporting them in the World Series, which, if you've been in the dark, the Sox Won in six games?  The huge crowds were estimated to be anywhere between 1.5 million and 2.5 million people, depending on whom you believed.  It sure did look like more than two million on the TV.

Some of the speeches at Fenway to begin the showing were quite interesting, but perhaps a real highlight was when the parade stopped at the marathon finish line to pay tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing last spring.  Even the weather celebrated the Boston victory as a nicer day could not have been possible.

On another topic, learning for us older folk really never stops.  I've been a Mainer just about all my life, actually all except about six years way back in the late 1950s and early '60s but I read a story over the weekend and learned something I don't remember ever knowing before.  Some of the biggest volcanoes of all time were right here in the State of Maine, although I think there's a possibility the area wasn't called "Maine" those 420 million years ago.

The information was learned from a report delivered by Sheila Seaman to the Geological Society of America at it's annual meeting and reported by Fox News today.

She told the attendees that at least four super volcanoes were spread out along 100 miles of the Maine coast with Mt. Desert Island and Acadia National Park, which is on the island, as a central point.  Isle au Haut, part of the Park, may have been a heart of a volcano.

According to the Fox News report, "Volcanic rock layers on Maine's Cranberry Island have a 2,300-foot-thick  layer of welded tuff, a rock formed from volcanic ash. The welded tuff from Toba's most recent blowout is 2,000 feet thick, Seaman said. On the remote Isle au Haut, part of Acadia National Park, the volcanic rocks are more than 3 miles thick, Seaman said. They're capped by an immense ash flow, more than 3,200 feet thick."

You can read the full Fox News report here.

I'd be remiss to ignore the Florida Gators' football team, one of the nation's powerhouses for the past decade and now one of its also rans.  As just about all we Gators knew would happen, the Gators lost to its most arch rival, the Georgia Bulldogs, for the third straight year.  The reason is simple:  they don't have a coaching staff.

When former coach Urban Meyer left three years ago, for some unknown reason the UF athletic director hired someone with no head coaching experience.  He demonstrates his incompetence every weekend and, since anyone who has seen a Florida game either live or on TV can call this guy's plays before every down, opposing coaches are having less and less difficulty.

The Gators may win one more game this year against a lower level club on their schedule, but it'll be very hard to watch them play South Carolina and Florida State.  The Seminoles will enjoy their alligator lunch and I dread thinking about the potential final score.

Gator coach Muschamp has simply got to be let go and some experience put in his place.  The aforementioned Meyer, on the other hand, now coaches the Ohio State Buckeyes and has them undefeated so far for the second straight year.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Red Sox give us a great ending to a great season

We slept a little later this Thursday morning.  There was a baseball game on the television last night that sort of kept us up a few minutes later than our normal bedtime.  It was worth it.

The Boston Red Sox won the 2013 World Series.

Because my wife has to go to work early on her work days and because I've gotten into the habit of going to my senior fitness days at the early hour on her non-work days, I've got to bed nights of Sox Series games close to my normal hour.

I did see all the fun plays, like the obstruction call on the Red Sox, and the pick-off play to end one of the games, on the highlight films the next morning. 

But last night was different.  It had the chance to do exactly what it did:  The Sox won their fourth game and thus the World Series Championship.  And it wasn't even close.  On the home front, the pieces also came together to let me do it.  Thursday is one of the days my wife doesn't have to go to work and my visits to the senior fitness center are optional.  So I stayed up those few extra minutes.

Even our dog Mariah, who honestly believes it is her sole duty around here to be sure her 'mommy" is up in time in the morning, understood today was different.  We slept late, for us, this morning.  I have taken a day off my senior fitness session.  And Mariah never moved to wake up my wife.

Thank you, Boston Red Sox, for making this a memorable season.  After all, last year they were the worst team in Major League Baseball.  They had a manager that no one liked and a few players that thought they were above the team.  Three of those players were dumped during last season and others departed during the winter.  The manager was shown the door.

A whole lot of team players joined the remaining ones and the season was dedicated to once again become an adhesive, winning team.  The also wanted to give Boston something to be proud of after the terror bombing shortly after the baseball season began.  That goal was another success.

So, congratulations to the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox and thank you for giving us an exciting season.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Heading into a busy season

We're heading for the end of another month as October draws to a close this week.  October in the GiM swamp has been rather uneventful.  We're looking forward now to the beginning of the exciting season. 
The last two months of the year include among other things the creation of our seasonal village, Christmas Village 2013, my wife's and my 52nd wedding anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve.
That last one is probably the one that just passes here as we have reached an age where just staying home marks our yearly changeover.  I probably should include this Thursday's Halloween in the list, but, like The Eve, we don't do anything exciting except pass out some treats to the one or two kiddies that visit our house.
We did have visitors over weekend.  Our daughter and her puppy Brandy came over to visit us and help with a couple of chores we needed help with.  I had thought we finished our year's vegetable garden activities two or three weeks ago, but I had forgotten the potatoes.  Our potato beds were dug up Sunday.  It was a poor crop.  In fact, this may have been one of the least exciting vegetable garden years we've had.
A couple pieces of furniture were also swapped around as we brought my stationary bicycle into our TV room.   I might get more use of it this winter as I will be able to watch TV while riding it.  We'll see if it gets more use or not.
I won't go into my feelings for my camera again, but the 25 or 30 pictures I took remain a mystery.  This one

is alone in worth sharing with you.  I realize how confusing two dogs can be so I'll tell you that Daughter's puppy Brandy is one the left while our Golden Mariah is on the right.  Hope that helped.  The dogs were asking to come in and join us on our breezeway.  They had worked very hard helping us with the potatoes.

I hope you have a great week.  One good thing about the last week of the month is the last Wednesday of the month, the day a bunch of us retirees, all of whom "graduated" from our jobs from the same place in the 1990s.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Still wanting a new camera. . .or do I?

One of the problems of posting periodically rather than regularly is including dated information.  Thus my problems this day.  I had planned to use the space to simply share the doings of a pair of great Golden Retrievers, one 10 years old and the other heading into her fourth month.  They are cute together even though the older one tries mostly to be tolerant while the puppy just wants to play with that big dog.

Unfortunately for me, my camera is about the worst one I've ever had and it doesn't have a view finder.  The screen one must use to find a picture is all but totally useless if there's any level of sun.  The auto focus camera also doesn't seem to take very crisp, sharp pictures.  I don't have any new ones for today.

Every time I break out the camera, I'm reminded of a Minolta reflex camera I use to have.  In fairness to the current one, one of the lenses alone on the old Minolta was more expensive than the simple camera I now have.  I lost the Minolta out in Oregon several years ago.  I had done a stupid thing that I knew better than doing.  I left the system in the trunk of my car while our son's wife drove us to where he was working.

When we got back to the motel, something didn't look quite right on my car.  Something wasn't.  A person or persons unknown was looking for easy pickings and discovered my car parked in the motel parking lot.  I guess people who have tendencies to do such things can easily get into a locked car.  I no longer have my camera and several lenses.

That camera would be virtually useless today as it required film.  In this digital age, finding film might be a task.  Getting it developed might be even more of a problem.  I've thought many times that those potential problems might be easier than the frustration of a really inexpensive digital point-and-shoot camera.  Of course, point-and-shoot cameras might work better if one could see at what it was being pointed.

At my age and with other "toys" being more important now, I haven't been able to bring myself to buy a good digital camera.  But I get closer every time I try to take a good picture with my current one.

I had dated my last posting by pointing out the World Series started Wednesday.  It started with a bang.  There were two plays in that game that really caught my attention.  Since I'm a former umpire, I pay special attention to the calls.  I don't usually say unkind things about umpires less I open myself up to hypocrisy charges but a bad call at second base wasn't even close.  Even I couldn't have missed the call.  It was in the first inning and set a tone.  On the front end of a probable double play, the umpire ruled a dropped ball was during the transfer from catch to throw.  Later discussions, and the replay, ruled it correctly that the fielder never even caught the ball and the out was reversed.  The Sox went on to score three runs.

The other one wasn't an ump's call, but rather a fielding lapse one just "never" sees in a pro game.  A very high pop up near the pitcher's mound had the pitcher calling off the other fielders to catch it.  The catcher ran out to catch it.  The catcher saw the pitcher's signal and the pitcher saw the approaching catcher.  Generally, pitchers in the majors don't catch pop ups so the pitcher apparently thought the catcher would get it.  Well, the ball was so high the two players came together and stood their a few feet in front of the rubber about a foot apart.  Both watched the ball coming down.  A viewer could see the men's eyes following the ball all the way down...right to the ground.  Neither made a move to catch it.  The Sox scored two more runs that inning.

And the World Series continues.

See?  Nothing to write about today.  We'll try again this weekend.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

It's Planning Time

Our daughter's growing puppy did visit us recently, but there were no real new picture opportunities involving our dog and the pup.  That simply means another week without pictures.

It's hard to believe the countdown to our annual winter Village, which we call the Christmas Village, has begun.  We had our first planning discussion over the weekend and generally decided to keep it pretty much the same as it has been for the last couple of years.  We'll have village construction behind the two wings of our couch, on the shelf in front of the picture window, and a main larger display in one corner of the room.

Of course we will arrange the pieces a little differently.  One area of discussion is incorporating some larger pieces this year, possibly in an area of their own.  The room's corner where we usually have our signature was Kensington Palace last year...might be made into the large piece section being discussed.

Why planning now?  Well, our anniversary is now just about three weeks away as is Veteran's Day, the day we traditionally start our project.  We try, and do succeed, each year of completing the display and lighting it Thanksgiving weekend.  It remains a prominent part of our season until shortly after Labor Day.  Since Veteran's Day, Nov. 11th, is on a Monday this year, we probably will begin the preceding Saturday.

We'll keep you posted, probably with pictures, once we get underway.

It was quite a time for the Red Sox over the weekend as they won the outright championship of the American League by beating Detroit four games to two last week.  The St. Louis Cardinals won the National League title and the two teams begin the 2013 World Series Wednesday night in Boston.  Boston got the home field advantage because the American League All-Stars beat the National League Stars last summer.

It's probably more common than an oddity, but this is the first year I've followed the standings as closely as I did this year.  Nevertheless, I can't remember when the two best teams in baseball by way of their league championships go into the World Series, where both belong, with their respective league's best won lost records that were identical.  On paper that should give us a fantastic World Series.

I'm not too excited this year about the Patriots.  Bill Bellichick allowed too many of his stars to get away, probably by design, over the spring and summer and now the team is paying for it.  They really aren't fun to watch this year.

There's one other team I usually follow very closely this time of year; but, like the Patriots, they aren't very exciting this year, either.  A different reason has led my college team, the Gators, naturally, to mediocrity.  They've been without a quality coaching staff for three years and now recently dropped out of the elite of college football.  Their present coach simply needs to find a new job somewhere else.

Perhaps The Kid will bring her puppy over one day this weekend as she likes to use our big yard to run the dog and I can find some new picture opportunities for another time. 


Thursday, October 17, 2013

A New T-Shirt

I have a new T-Shirt.  It is marked with the logo and company information of Saco Bay Physical Therapy and M.O.G. (medically orientated gym).  I earned it by completing six strenuous weeks of physical therapy on my shoulder.  I'm hoping the work will allow me to avoid a potential shoulder transplant.

I won't go into all the details of the therapy but one therapist examined my shoulder and gave me some tests to prepare a program of therapy for me.  My shoulder doctor had told him what the problem was and specific areas he wanted improved in the prescription for the service.  This therapist was the main one in a group of four which included one student.  Although each followed the plan directly, each had his/her own way of accomplishing the various tasks so I was introduced to a lot of variety in exercises.  I rotated among the group as one person was responsible each session.

I'm very happy to be able to say they gave me great praise for my work and my final tests results far exceeded the goals established for me.  As a result, I have a new t-shirt.

If you ever need physical therapy, there's not a better place than Saco Bay (  Everyone there from the front office welcomers to the staff performing the work were nothing but super, friendly, encouraging people. 

I didn't plan to return to politics in these ramblings, but events have caused me to just wander a little bit. 

First, the rollout of Affordable Health Care commonly called Obamacare, which certainly isn't affordable and will cause massive increases in the cost of health care, is now open for business.  By next March everyone in America by law must prove they have health insurance or face a fine (called fees) and the government opened a web site where Americans who do not have their own coverage can sign up for one of three plans. 

That web site hasn't made it too easy to sign up, though, as it has crashed several times and has caused many very long waits for users.  I would observe that this beginning doesn't give too much confidence of the greatness of this government health.  Just wait until you need some service!

To show you just one reason why the cost of health care is going to go out of sight, the government paid more than 292 million dollars as of Saturday for the website.  And that's just one example of where we're heading.  Getting service doesn't even start until January.  It'll be interesting to see how much that will cost us over original estimates and how long the waiting periods will be.  What a disaster!

Finally today, does anyone really believe the "deal" to keep government open and bills paid for the next three months has solved the budget/debt problem in Washington?  Did anyone not know a "deal" would be reached on the deadline eve?  Nothing has changed.  The debt will grow to more than 17 trillion dollars.  The cause of the debt, which includes the growing Obamacare costs, has not been resolved.  We're told a Congressional committee will meet to resolve a budget before January 15th.  Do you believe it will be resolved?  Let's see...I have this bridge . . .

I sure do wish I could run my household budget the way the government runs its.  Unfortunately, when I overspend, I have to make cuts elsewhere to make up what I have coming in.  The federal government just borrows more money which we, you and I, must pay back.  Our congress critters, who generally go to Washington as normal, sometimes even poor people leave the Capital as millionaires.  They have no incentive to make any changes.  Once there, it seems almost impossible to get rid of them.

We sit around complaining and moaning about them and then check off their names again at their next election. 

It's not going to change as a result of this deal.

I'll climb back down my soap box.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Just "stuff"

I haven't had an opportunity to take any new pup pictures this week.  Perhaps I'll get some this weekend when our daughter brings her new puppy to visit our Golden Retriever.  So, as of right now no new pictures, or old ones for that matter, are included here.

It also means I don't have a whole lot to discuss as this year continues to be just about as quiet as a year can be.

I'll bet just about everyone today who has private e-mail accounts, or probably business ones, too, get a whole lot of forwarded messages.  Such messages are, of course, sent all around the country and world from just about everyone sending jokes, pictures, political comments, family stuff, etc., to friends and acquaintances.

There's one I've received from a couple of friends and have seen it on at least two of my friend's Facebook pages that intrigue me.  It is a picture of a whole bunch of grazing baboons.  The headline over the picture says something like, "Do you know what a large group of baboons is called?"  It shows the picture and the answer.  "A whole bunch of baboons is called a congress.  Fitting isn't it?"

Four years ago I had a very intelligent assisting device called an ICD implanted in my chest  It is a combination heart pacemaker and defibrillator and continually monitors my heart to make sure it's working properly.  One time last January it actually saved my life when my heart began beating at over 270 beats a minute.  I really like that device.

My Fearless Friend had one implanted last year, but as far as I know, it hasn't yet been a factor in a life threatening situation.  So, why then do I mention these devices? 

The device comes with a monitor that records all the day's heart activities each night while we're sleeping.  We don't have to connect the two parts as that communication is done via radio waves. Once every three months I have to hold a unit over my heart for a final quarterly reading and then by telephone and modem call the company that provides them to send a report of my activity.  That company simply sends the information to my cardiologist who then reports the results to me.

My friend, though, doesn't do a darn thing as the company calls his monitor in the middle of a scheduled night and simply retrieves the information to send to his doctor.  He doesn't even know it's happening.  Earlier this month I asked my cardiologist's technician why I had to initiate a telephone call, sit there and listen to the squawks and squeals of the telephone modem while the information is being collected and transmitted.

"You don't," he said simply.  Your device will work just like your friend's.  So earlier this week my tech guy had scheduled a reading.  I got a letter telling me of the date but the letter said I didn't have to do anything except be sure the monitor was on and near my bed.  It always is, so that wasn't a problem.

But how, I asked FF, does it work?  He ad libbed some convoluted answer as if he really knew.  My real concern was how he, and now I, slept through all that modem noise.  (If you have been into computing since the early days when the Internet could only be accessed via a telephone, you'll know what I mean about the squawking.)

Well that first night, I didn't sleep through it.  I didn't sleep.  I kept waiting to hear the squawk of Medtronics calling my unit and getting the information.  My friend had told me there was no noise, but I guess I couldn't believe it as surely something connected to a "land line" had to make the noise it has been making ever since 2009. 

FF wasn't putting me on.  All night long, no squawking.  No squealing.  Not even a click.  An orange light on the monitor that always told me it was working during a transmission didn't blink.  When I got up the next morning, I knew it had failed.  I went to the Medtronics' site and into my patient section where a message was awaiting telling me the transmission had been successful. 

The next day I was notified by my doctor's office that all my readings were well within specified limits.

Next time, I'll just go to sleep on the appointed night and trust the thing to do its job.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Leaf Peeping

My wife Sandra and I took our annual leaf peeping trip and, as usual, it was early in October.  We found a reasonably good mix of peak leaf changes and some that had already passed peak.  For the most part, the changes in Western Maine and Northern New Hampshire didn't disappoint us.

For the first time, though, I saw for myself why folk who live in the affected areas complain about the introduction of wind mills to the Maine mountains.  "Oh!  Look!" I said as we drove along one of my favorite leaf peeping routes, Maine 17 between Mexico and Rangeley.  I didn't count them, but there must have been 7 to 10 of them slowly spinning their huge blades.

These are just two of the several wind mills along a ridge on the
nearby mountain.  Many of them were much higher than these.
Nevertheless, the once beautiful sight along the route is now
dominated by the whirling dervishes.
Our first reaction was that they certainly didn't look too bad sitting up there and we couldn't hear any of the noise that local residents complain about.  But they did dominate the view.  Perhaps if we lived on that road, or others with that white spinning picture, we would have felt differently.  As we drove past a beautifully kept home facing the mountains, I began to understand at least one of the objections. 

The hard work the family, and many others along the route, had done to get the magnificent view of the mountains was now diminished by having to constantly look at those towering wind mills.  Of course I don't live there and we didn't stop to talk about them with anyone since this was a just a pleasure trip and not one for research, so there is always the possibility I'm wrong and the the electricity producers were providing money to lower taxes.  From all I've read, I doubt they were lowering the cost of electricity.

I would not want a wind mill farm in my neighborhood.

There was another topic which caused me to do some thinking, too.  I never realized the cost of gasoline was so wide spread in Maine.  We saw gas stations selling gas ranging in price from a three dollars 30.9 cents a gallon to three dollars 99.9 cents.  That makes no sense, thought I.  In one town, South Paris I think, the prices ranged in a two or three block section of Route 26 from the low of $3.309 to $3.959.  That last one was at one of the largest, if not the largest, distributor in Maine.

The highest, though, was just a tenth of a cent below four dollars in or near Canton, a town between Turner and Mexico.

Those prices got me to thinking about the prices just in Greater Portland which vary widely from station to station.  What it all said to me was, "This confirms what we all know and have suspected for years, the price of gasoline is purely artificial."  But then again, what prices aren't?

I'm just a simple consumer and don't give a tinker's whistle about all the excuses.  My only concern is how much I have to pay.  Ask any gas person why the prices are so darn high or why there's so much variation between them, and they'll tell you about the many variables that go into pricing.  They love those variables because they can be set at whatever they want.  In the end, they'd have a hard time convincing me the high prices are necessary except to line some pockets.

And why are the prices so much lower in York and other counties than they are in Cumberland?  One very visible company has different prices at several stations in just a short distance between Portland and Biddeford.  Guess where the highest ones are.

Back to leaf peeping:  It's getting late and the change to dull is already prominent in many places.  If you're a leaf peeper, time is running out for the best colors.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Another Pup/dog get together!

For the first time in a couple of weeks, our (wife's and my) dog was able to get together with our daughter's puppy.  They had a real good time in our back yard chasing each other, chasing their balls and just having fun romping as dogs can romp.  Unfortunately, my constant complaint about taking pictures with my cheap camera continues.  The lens is far from stop action and the sun washes out the screen so I'm mostly just guessing.  Perhaps, if I'm planning to continue taking any pictures, I'll have to bite the proverbial bullet and get a camera that works.  This digital camera of mine takes pictures about 1/100th as good as my old SLR that used film.  But, here are three random ones of our two dogs.  Enjoy! 


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Puppy Review

Because of an injury to our Golden Mariah last week, our daughter's Golden puppy Brandy hasn't been able to visit her friend.  We expect that to change this weekend.  Mariah's bandages have been removed and she appears to be moving normally again.

To keep changing somewhat regularly, we have a little review of Brandy and how much she's changed in the wee bit under two months she's been seeing light.
Just a few days after birth in very late June.  This is a picture from her breeder before the puppies were released to their new people.

A couple months later after experiencing and totally accepting the love and care of her new "Mommy," our daughter.

From the last posting, she's now almost two months old.
You can probably see the biggest change in her head.  She's growing up fast. 
I hope to have some interaction pictures, at least some new ones, of Brandy and Mariah after this weekend.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Goldens are accepting each other

[Edited Saturday AM]  Our Mariah had a very slight accident Friday and split a toenail.  The Vet says she's O.K. and he bandaged the cut.  It did bleed.  We can demonstrate that by showing you the rugs inside our house.  She's not showing any problems this morning, but her new playmate, our daughter's puppy Brandy, will be staying home this weekend so the two dogs don't get too excited and aggravate Mariah's paw.  Therefore, we won't have any pictures for a while.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this previously posted post.--Dave
Our daughter's new puppy, Brandy, is turning color to be a Golden Retriever more and more every day.  She started out in this life as an almost white one.  She's growing in size very rapidly, too.

Our 10-year-old Golden, Mariah, is now accepting the new arrival in her life and almost enjoys playing.  Here they're on our deck as the dog whispers something into the pup's ear.  They're probably making plans to disrupt the people in their lives.

The big ol' soccer ball continues to be Mariah's outside ball.  She chases it when it's thrown by one of her adults.  Then she picks it up with her mouth and prances back with it to be thrown again.
Brandy has learned to chase a ball, too.  That's a tennis ball which she carries around to be like her new playmate.  Here she seems to be looking at the big ball wondering if she'll ever be able to carry it like Mariah.
I hope you enjoyed these looks at a new and an old Golden learning and becoming friends.