Nov 23

That was a lovely weekend

All of our company has gone home. My lovely bride’s uncle headed back on Friday. Her parents on Saturday. We had company over for dinner Saturday night. The house is quite again. The cats have noticed.

And so now we are into the holiday season and, with it, in the midst of all of the blah blah blah. The stuff that takes too long to arrive, moves too fast or too slow, or both. All of it in a dizzying blur. All of it in a hold on as you can mentality. All of it with the end of the semester on the front end, as well, which brings it’s own frenetic pace, three weeks worth, which starts now.

The kitties, as you can tell, are not impressed. There is the afternoon sun, and there is no need to rush through that.

Saw more geese moving around this weekend. Or the same geese, I dunno. I’m not tagging these things. In the afternoon these were going toward the southwest.

But, in the evening, they were going northeast. Or some other geese, I dunno. I’m not tagging these things.

This was the only football game I’ve watched this year. If you’re going to watch, this is how.

Wild game, ridiculous finish, a ridiculousness of the most resolute fashion. At least the ridiculousness was kept to a minimum. All of which was better than 60 minutes of it. The view was the best part of it.

We had a different sort of view last night. A cold and rainy night, a short parade. A few fire trucks, a few Corvettes, for some reason, and three loosely grouped people we might call bands. We also saw the big guy, the ho-ho-hoer in chief. Apparently his sled is going into the shop. Or maybe the reindeer take off November. Maybe it’s a union thing. Perhaps they’re just carbo-loading.

Come to think of it, those sleighs aren’t very aerodynamic, are they? There’s a lot to answer about all of this. Fortunately, you have several weeks to explain it all to me.

Nov 23

Punches on ice

So many leftovers. Somehow they all made it into the refrigerator, which is, right now, more full than it has been since we moved. It’ll be a week of turkey and sides for me, and no complaints.

Today we went across the river to catch a hockey game. It was the homestanding Flyers and the Rangers, which drew a large crowd all their own. There was almost as much red, white and blue as black and orange at the Wells Fargo Center.

And the Rangers fans went away happy. They’re team won 3-1.

I might be bad luck for the Flyers. They’re 1-2 when I am there for a game. The win was in … 2007.

We’re there for Gritty, basically.

After the game, I ducked back in from the concourse to see what was happening with everyone walked away from the rink. Those video ribbons, it turns out, go all the way down to the ice. I wonder why. Aside from maintenance, what would be the purpose? And why lower it after a game?

On the way back home, we enjoyed splendid views of the sunset.

After which we started on the leftovers — didn’t make a dent, really — and eased into the second half of this lovely long weekend.

Nov 23

Happy Thanksgiving

The in-laws are here. They came down last night and will spend a few days. Today, my uncle-in-law also came in. Later, there’s turkey to eat. So this is, notably, brief.

We went out for the turkey trot this morning. We were huffing for the stuffing. Hopping potholes for casseroles. Wheezed for the peas. Hying for the pie. And so on.

Look! I’ve almost got anime hair!

It’s not that I’m getting slower, it’s that I don’t run much, and never run up that many hills.

We’re also marking the fifth anniversary of the time my father-in-law smack talked his way into a Trivial Pursuit contest that he had no chance of winning. The pain was so bad he accused us of memorizing the cards. And though memorizing Trivial Pursuit cards sounds like something I’d do, I have a closet full of Trivial Pursuit games.

Near the end of the game, we got this stupid question, the orange one at the bottom.

I said, “It just so happens that I live with one of the nation’s foremost Olympic scholars. Take it away, Dr. Smith,” and I walked out of the room. And, of course, she drilled it.

For some reason, I also knew the answer to that question. (It was two.)

So this also marks the fifth anniversary of the day my father-in-law swore off Trivial Pursuit.

Now, having caught my breath from this morning’s run, it is time to think of all of the many things for which I am thankful. And to carve the turkey. This is my job for reasons that have never been discussed, and I take it seriously. After five or siz more birds, I might be pretty good at it.

Nov 23

Sometimes, you get lucky

We have a well. And all of the well apparatus is located in our basement. I have never had a well before, but both sets of my grandparents had them once upon a time and both of them had the well guts in a little outbuilding and, basically as far as I knew until we looked at our new house, that was how it was done.

In the course of puttering around the basement — it’s a pretty awesome space, and not just because we went without a basement for 13 years — I noticed that there are some stickers affixed to the well guts. Fine, let’s be technical: the machinery. The tank and filter and the piping that connects everything. Hereafter referred to as the well’s guts. On the sticker for both the tank and filter, you can detect a pattern emerging. This one gets serviced every year. That one every two years. And in the fall! So make a mental note of that, and when late October rolled around I called the well people and said, come on out and meet the new neighbors, why don’t ya? Also, give me a well education.

The well guys are booked pretty solid these days, it turns out. Even the manager of the joint seemed impressed by the volume he was dealing with. So it took a while to get them out. And, since we’re talking about it here, you can safely surmise that today was that day.

And not a minute too soon, it turns out.

The guy goes down to the basement with his two crewmates and looks it over. I was not sure, at first, if he was passing a stone or reacting to what he saw. It was the latter. He described the problems he saw, forecast what they would turn in to and then said “I have this on the truck, or you can wait … ” but there’s really no waiting.

Do your thing, well surgeon.

His crew gets to work, quietly, efficiently and solve the problem. Out came the entire old tank.

In went a new tank. At first, there was some worry about the new tank because they couldn’t find the o-rings. (They found them.) I said “I grew up a Challenger kid; I know o-rings are a big deal.”

The head guy misheard me, and asked if I said I worked on the Challenger. (No. I was in the third grade. Also, not a rocket scientist. He doesn’t know the last part, couldn’t know that, but how old does he think I am?) One of his assistants didn’t know what the Challenger was. So I started explaining the space shuttle, all the while thinking Make this short. He doesn’t care. And that’s how I got into a conversation about o-rings.

This was about the time the old tank was brought up from the basement. Here’s the underside.

The guy pointed to some particular points, used some technical terms. Rust was one of them. He said we had a few days, maybe a week or so, before this exploded. And then a flooded basement, aggravation, insurance claims, etc. Sometimes, you get lucky.

I had a lovely 27-mile ride this evening. This afternoon, really, but it goes from light to dark in the blink of an eye. I pedaled over to one of the neighboring towns. We drive through there, but hadn’t ridden to it yet. And it was no big deal. Nice empty roads for the most part. In the town, they were decorating the museum with Christmas lights and going about the beginning of their festivities. They do it up big, for a small place, or so I gather. I’m looking forward to seeing it.

Because I knew time and light were working against me, I took a slightly different and more familiar route back to the house. And, just before I got there, I was rewarded with this view.

I got inside at about 4:38, and this matters. Into the garage. Off come the bike shoes and helmet and jacket. Stop the apps, turn off the taillight, shed my gloves, all of it one smooth practiced sequence. I looked at the time, glanced at the GPS and thought, I can make it.

It being the inconvenience center, which closes at 5 p.m. It’s only about seven miles away and through town and I have to load the car. But if I make it today, I don’t have to do it tomorrow. So I shed the cycling kit and put on an old shirt and shorts and, still sweating, load up the car with the garbage cans and recycling. I drive. The GPS says I’ll get there at 4:57. And what do you know, I got there at 4:57.

The guy that mans the place is serious about time. It’s Friday and he’s got dinner on, I’m sure, but he’d already pulled his pickup down to the gate and was preparing to close it when I pulled in.

Got time for one more quick drop off?

“I close at 5,” he said. He held his out, fingers wide. almost pointing with his palm, making the emphatic point about time.

He let me in, and I understood I was supposed to feel bad about it. There was another guy dropping off his rubbish, too, though, so I stopped pretending to feel bad. But I did hustle. It was 4:57 when I got there. It was 5:01 when I again saw the guy that worked there, waiting to lock up behind me.

Sometimes, you get lucky.

I would like to apologize to him and his wife for making dinner one minute later than necessary. But he was a gentleman and I was grateful for the gesture. It won’t happen again. I hope.

On the drive back, I saw this view, to my left.

The photo is timestamped 5:10 p.m.

Back to the beach! Which is where we were Sunday afternoon! And I’ve been rationing out photos to keep this space busy looking during a busy week! Exclamation point!

While the photos I shared from Cape May yesterday included both an accidental and intentional overexposure, here is a deliberate underexposure. Sometimes you need a dancing silhouette.

Here’s one more shot of the Cape May light house. Built in 1859, automated in 1946 and still in service. It is the third lighthouse to announce this part of the coast. The remnants of the first two are now underwater. Going to the top will cost you a climb of 217 steps, and a small fee. They say you can see 10 miles away on a clear day like this one.

This is all part of a coastal heritage trail route. “A park in the making,” the sign says. You can check out maritime history — fishing villages, light houses, forts and more — coastal habitats, wildlife and historic settlements. It’s a lovely area. And, this time of year, no tourists. We’ll surely go back for another visit soon.

We had a mid-afternoon snack at a local shop, one of the few places that was open on Beach Avenue, the main drag. My favorite New Englander ordered a lobster roll and talked me into a shrimp roll. It was a good choice.

Texas toast, basically, stuffed with shrimp and drizzled with a cocktail sauce. Hard to go wrong.

So we sat there, just over the dune from the shoreline, and had some seafood and counted ourselves lucky for the experience.

Sometimes, you get lucky.

Nov 23

This is not a public service, but I did talk about PSAs today

This is how good I have it. I made us late today. So, while I was making us late, my lovely bride was making me lunch.

That might be the sort of approach that gets me moving on time. And it wasn’t that I was late-late. It’s just that there a lot of things to do in the morning and it piled up. Plus, there are the cats. Are they trapped in a closet or a bathroom? Do they have food and water? Can you keep them out of the laundry room, which is basically the airlock to the outside world and, like all laundry rooms, could be a few feet bigger, particularly when you have your arms full of backpacks and things.

We made it on time. I did not have to blame the cats. But I got two homemade PB&Js out of the deal!

Today in class we discussed public service announcements. And I broke up the students into production groups. They’ll be making their own PSAs in the coming weeks. This is a fun assignment and, having given them some time today to start their planning, it sounds like they will treat it in that spirit.

I had the students fill out a survey for their crew positions of choice and, happily, in two classes worth of people, it seems like it will work out that everyone will have a role they are interested in. I’m looking forward to watching them all work their way through the process. And, by the end of the semester, they should all have a nice video and some good experiences they can add to their LinkedIn accounts.

It’ll all be great, because, in the back of the room, this owl is overseeing things.

I choose to see him as a good classroom omen.

Since we talked about a state park yesterday, I wanted to show you this video from that trip. I rode my bike to the park, on the other end of the county, near the end of last month to find two historical markers. It was a splendid day, and the trees were bursting with color. I picked the right day to find this path.

It’s a nice park. Charming views in all of the parts I saw. I’ll have to find my way back down there next year.

We’re still padding things out with a few photos from our Sunday afternoon visit to the beach. And here’s the beach.

This is an old resort town. An 18th century resort town, if you can believe that. One of the oldest in the country, if not the oldest. And it predates the country. You never think about colonials taking beach trips. I wonder how many did.

It was sunny and cool on Sunday when we were there. Right here, in the sun, it felt great. But if you found yourself in some shade you’d want to find yourself back in the sun. It was that kind of lovely day.

I took this photo, without adjusting any of the settings. It’s overexposed, of course, but it’s perfect.

I thought it might be the best one of the day, but before I got around to adjusting the aperture, I took this photo, and it might actually be perfectly perfect.

We’ll wrap up the week tomorrow with four more photos from that trip, plus whatever else comes to pass between now and then.