Category Archives: vacation

Forsooth! A final week of 2009 meme!

I was not looking for a meme, but I did think I needed to write a post or two about end-of-year stuff. As it turns out, I found one from that American expat in New Zealand, Nik at spatulaforum, that met my needs. Oddly, Nik has written about spatulas only once.

Not incidentally, Nik’s meme was stolen for this week’s Sunday Stealing, which I usually purloin. Like a circle in a circle.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?

Go to a bunch of kindergarten events, such as the “Apple Run”; the daughter is fast! Go on a vacation with the wife, without the daughter, for our 10th anniversary; it was surely the highlight of the year, though we were only 30 miles from home. Saw Bruce Springsteen live. Flew on an airplane with the daughter, her first flights.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t make the things. Less grief.

3. How will you be spending New Year’s Eve?

Watching my wife valiantly trying to stay awake but likely failing.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, though the husband of a fellow choir member did.

5. What countries did you visit?

None, including the US. In fact, the longest trip was the aforementioned flight to Charlotte.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

More sleep. More democracy. Less war. Steve Bissette wrote What I Won’t Miss About 2009, and I really can’t argue with any of it; re: the year, this video Steve found will do nicely.

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

April 3, the massacre in Binghamton, NY. May 14, Springsteen.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting through my wife’s two weeks away at college, taking care of the daughter while trying to maintain a semblance of a work schedule.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Controlling the temper, especially during the aforementioned trip to Charlotte.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

The usual minor aches and pains. My neck is a little stiff. I have a cut on the heel of my left foot which makes walking without at least slippers, and preferably thick-soled sneakers, painful. And I suffered with some sort of head congestion/lung congestion/coughing up phlegm thing for two weeks in December which seems FINALLY to be over.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The Top Pop Singles book. Fun! Actually, I liked buying Wonder Pets DVDs for the daughter; she enjoyed them.

12. Where did most of your money go?

The mortgage, of course. Also house renovation; the attic is being insulated this very week to take advantage of a tax credit.

13. What song will always remind you of 2009?

Tennessee Jed by Levon Helm, from his new Electric Dirt album, one of the very few albums I actually got in 2009.
I also bought A Very Special Christmas 7, and it had a bunch of newer artists that don’t cut it; Kellie Pickler doing Santa Baby is unconvincing. A Christmas Song by Charice was the best tune, though Gloriana’s Silent Night I liked as well. Still, it’s for a good cause, the Special Olympics, and I’ll probably buy the next one when it comes out in 3 or 5 years.

14. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Playing racquetball. Also wish I had bought my bicycle earlier than June. I saw no live baseball – bummer.

15. What do you wish you’d done less of?


16. What was your favourite TV program?

“Glee”, for sure. It’s a show I get to watch with my wife, which doesn’t happen that often. People say it’s not realistic, as though it were a docudrama. No, the cheerleaders wouldn’t wear the outfits ALL the time. Sheesh. I bought the wife both soundtracks for Christmas. Al;so been watching The Good Wife, which is a show I watch sans wife.
Whereas The Office has lost something, and I can’t put my finger on it – Jim & Pam being married? The co-managing thing?

17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Well, not hate. What’s interesting is when there is someone everyone in a certain circle seems to love. But you’re just not that enamored, and it seems to be mutual.

18. What was the best book you read?

The Jack Kirby book by Evanier. Or was that last year?

19. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Well, there’s this British band called the Beatles that I seem to be newly into. Also, to a much lesser degree, Queen. About as little NEW music as I’ve ever experienced.

20. What was your favorite film of this year?

2008 movie I saw in 2009: The Visitor.
2009 movie: Up or Amreeka or maybe District 9. Though if I just got the Julia part of Julie and Julia, it’d be that. But there are a LOT of films I haven’t seen.

21. What did you do on your birthday?

Played (hearts) cards.

22. What kept you sane?

This assumes that I am sane. There’s no evidence I’ve seen.

23. Who did you miss?

Nobody, really. I mean I wish I saw some people more often, but that would be a shopping list. And because of the magic of electronics, I feel I DO keep up with them and/or know they keep up with me. Without that, it’d be pretty tough.

24. Who was the best new person you met?

There are some new folks in church I’m rather fond of, but I won’t name names.

25. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:

Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot…

Actually, it is the wisdom of Satchel Paige:
“Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”
“Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”
“Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.”
“Not to be cheered by praise, not to be grieved by blame, but to know thoroughly one’s own virtues or powers are the characteristics of an excellent man.”
“Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.”


The Lydster, Part 68: the North Pole

If you are one of those people who just cannot STAND hearing Christmas music before Thanksgiving, or December 1, or the first day of winter, then I highly recommend that you NOT visit Santa’s Workshop in North Pole, NY in mid-September, as our family did. Notice the Merry Christmas on the water mill.

Not only Christmas carols but parts of Messiah by Handel – “For Unto Us Is Born”, e.g. – as well. As the website says, it was “founded in 1949 and designed by Arto Monaco. We are known as the forerunner of present day theme parks in the United States.” And it most definitely felt like that, a pre-Disneyland theme park.

I must say that it was initially disappointing. It was not inexpensive ($17-$19 each) and many of the rides Lydia, at over four feet, was too tall to ride in. Of the two rides she could be on, she tried the (little) roller coaster (with me), and decided that she did not particularly enjoy it.Worse, a train that we ALL could have ridden through the park was closed for repairs.

Ultimately, what made it worthwhile for Lydia were the friendly clowns and animals and snowmen who performed musical bits periodically. It was a little schlocky – OK, it was a LOT schlocky – but it was earnest. There weren’t that many attendees to these mini-shows and the clowns, e.g., would always go to the performances of their costume-clad colleagues.

Ultimately, it was a successful visit because we had a nice getaway from our usual Saturday routine of cleaning and shopping and laundry.

And Lydia got to go to the North Pole! The pole is not some painted stick; it is actually made of ice. This was actually a thrill for my wife, who went to the North Pole when SHE was a child and feared the frozen pole had been turned into a plastic replica. No way!

I should tell you about this production of the Christmas story, told on the loudspeakers, with clearly young actors performing the roles of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the Wise Men. Even from the distance – they were up the hill from the little amphitheater we were sitting in – you can tell that at least some of them were cracking up, though they tried to hide it.

But the high point in the trip for the child was Lydia playing on swings, playground equipment and this container of plastic balls she could wade in, things she could do on the local playground or the local McDonald’s. She had a good time, so we had a good time too.



One of the websites I visit regularly is Separated by a Common Language, where an American expat in the UK, Lynneguist, talks about British and American English. I’m quite fond of Briticisms generally. But one I’ve never embraced is the notion of “holiday” for vacation. Holiday (or bank holiday in other countries) to me refers to an event such as Labor Day or Christmas. Of course, one of Lynneguest’s readers finds “vacation” strange, “mainly because the word ‘vacate’ is normally only encountered in toilet cubicles and changing rooms.” Whereas for me, the root to vacate means, in the words of some rock band, “Turn off your mind and float downstream.”

The sermon at church last Sunday was about fast food and cell phones and Twitter, and how people seem to need to be connected all the time, including at the time they are supposed to be on holiday or vacation. Most of them are NOT heart surgeons awaiting a call to show up at the hospital to perform a transplant or some other life-or-death profession.

I know that when I’m away for several days, not having Internet connection makes me cranky after a couple days. Partly it’s because I’ll drown in e-mails if I don’t tend to them regularly. There are STILL e-mails I know I need to respond to from weeks ago that have been sucked into my LIFO (last in, first out) process. But except for calling the daughter, my last vacation with my wife was quite enjoyed, even though I only had about 15 minutes a day of Internet connectivity; it wasn’t a policy decision – the service kept cutting in and out.

So can you vacation/holiday? Do you recreate, or more specifically, re-create yourself? Or do you just keep working and connecting in different venues?


V is for Vacation

I have alluded to this before: the wife and I had not been on a vacation alone together in over five years. This correlates nicely with the fact that we have a five-year-old daughter. So a couple years back, for our 10th anniversary, the wife began saving some money for us to do something.

As it turned out, we decided to travel a mere 32 miles from our home in Albany to Saratoga Springs, NY. While our actual anniversary was May 15, we decided to travel Thursday through Sunday on a week Carol had off from school in April and the in-laws could come up from Oneonta – about 70 miles away – and watch the child.

Thursday, we checked into the inn. We had had Indian food in Albany for a late lunch so all we had for dinner was popcorn as we went to the movies to see I Love You, Man, which I reviewed here; not high art, but we enjoyed it.
Friday morning, we went to the Tang Museum, discussed here.

Then, we went to this cute little restaurant for lunch; had an Old World charm. The food was good, but we noted that they used peanut oil in some of their cooking. Tasty, but the child is allergic, so I suspect we wouldn’t be going there as a family.

In the afternoon, we went to the National Museum of Dance. Ah, piled snow melts slower.

Here’s the building. That person in pink is my wife, BTW.

I have to say that we found the museum quite disappointing. A good museum or hall of fame – and this purports to be that for dance – needs enough “stuff” to make you want to come back again. This place just did not.

On the other hand, this was the only museum-like place we went to that actually allowed us to take photographs. Make of that what you will. The showcase pictured above is the primary part of the Peter Martens display; Martens is the most recent inductee. Oh, there are the dresses below, signed by some of his dance partners.

But there were no permanent items for each of the artists, save for a banner with fairly limited information. BTW, I no longer remember WHAT this is.

One of the cool things this place DID have were coverings on the windows representing the Hall of Famers. Don’t recall who the couple are, but the woman on the left is choreographer Agnes deMille.

This begins the section “The Evolution of Dance on the Broadway Stage”, starting with a replication of the streets around the Great White Way.

This is Sardi’s, the famous restaurant where performers hung out.

A picture of one of my favorite performers, the late Jerry Orbach.

The museum is working on developing a section on the “spa” history of Saratoga. This is a machine used in that period.

There was a small Russian dance exhibit.

The place was so casual that the purse of the woman working on the spa area, which was adjacent to the Russian area, was just sitting on a table nearby. Fortunate that we did not have larceny on our minds.

For dinner, we decided to go to the famous Hattie’s, nee Hattie’s Chicken Shack. As we were going in, a contingent of folks led bty U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer were coming out. The chicken was good, but the macronini asnd cheese was fabulous. BTW, Hattie’s is on the lower left, a comic book store which I went into briefly is on the lower right and above that is the legendary Caffè Lena.

(Incidentally, these are right across the street from a nice Thai restaurant that ADD took Rocco Nigro and me to last year.)

The next morning we went to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Now THIS is a great museum! THIS is a hall of fame! And though I’m less interested in horse racing than dance, this is a place I could return to. There were three sets of plaques: for horses, jockeys anmd others, primarily trainers. Interesting exhibits, informative films. (Picture below is not from the Hall but an exhibit of a street vendor.)

There was soime sort of vendor event in the city’s civic center, and we managed to eat enough sample foods that we actually didn’t need to have lunch. Afterwards, we went up to Glens Falls to see the Hyde Collection. It’s part a couple’s actual former house. The living room had 1500 books, surrounded by works by Rembrandt, Degas, and Rubens. The kitchen featured 17th century German chairs and 17th century French table. You can read about the collectors’ philosophy for the eclectic collections throughout the house. Definitely worthwhile.

The gallery featured Thomas Chambers (1808-1869) born and died in England, who helped create the popular market of landscape painting. He spent much of his time in the United States including NYC, Baltimore, Boston and Albany (c. 1850) before returning to UK in 1865. Just didn’t much care for it.

Then we ate an extraordinary dinner at our inn; the horse above, BTW, is just outside the main entrance of the building. Each morning we also had a nice breakfast there.

Alas, after breakfast, we had to return from our little getaway. This was a most enjoyable time where we didn’t talk about the child all weekend but rather enjoyed each other’s company.


The weekend without the child

My wife and I haven’t been away alone together in over five years. This correlates nicely with the age of our progeny. (This is not to say that Lydia’s never been away from both of us; last summer, while Carol was in college, I dropped her off at Grandma and Grandpa’s in Oneonta, about 75 miles away, so I wasn’t the position of both taking her to day care and picking her out.)

But the wife and I alone together for more than a few hours? Doesn’t happen. Yet our tenth wedding anniversary is coming up next month. Taking off time during the school year is tough, and the summer will be pretty packed, too. This past week, on the other hand, school was off.

So my parents-in-law kindly drove up the hour and a quarter to watch Lydia Thursday afternoon while Carol and I took a vacation in Saratoga Springs. Saratoga? Isn’t that only about 30 miles away from Albany? Indeed it is. but we stayed at an inn, and visited places we’d never been before. You know how people in Manhattan never go to the top of the Empire State building unless they’re hauling in relatives from out of town? It’s pretty much the same thing.

It was near enough that the trip there and back wouldn’t be onerous, but unfamiliar enough to be able to explore.

I’ll undoubtedly discuss the specific aspects of the trip over the next few weeks, but let me give you some first impressions:

*We end up watching either the Today show or Good Morning America only when we’re off work. saw Today on Friday, GMA on Sunday. What depressing shows. No wonder people tune out the news.
*We ate too much.
*We’ve become near experts at getting around Saratoga.
*We worried that the child would miss us. we called Thursday night and she talked to us, but when we called Friday night, she was too busy watching TV to pick up. (That is NOT a complaint.) However, she (with Grandma’s help) called us Saturday morning.
*She has so many things that getting Lydia yet something else seemed undesirable. Ultimately, we opted for flipflops.
*The hotel allegedly had a public computer, but the two times I actually had time to use it, it died after 16 minutes one times and 20 minutes the other. So no, I haven’t read any of your blogs lately; I will, I will, eventually.
*The times I did get on my e-mail, I got e-mails from a friend of a friend of Raoul Vezina’s and my high school history teacher, both of whom came across me through this blog.

Ah, my wife needs to use the computer. Bye for now.


Jamestown and Williamsburg

Lost Details of the Vacation

I’ve told you about our vacation that the family took back in April, back when gas was cheaper, but there were a couple of details I left out. One is that if you’re ever driving anywhere near Baltimore, and you see a road sign saying “Travel plaza ahead,” it is NOT one of the places where you can stop, get coffee and gas, and rest. It’s actually a bus and train station, and it is NOT easy on/off the highway. In fact we drove several blocks before we could find the single McDonald’s which served food.

On the way there, we passed a car that was stopped at the light. When the driver didn’t go forward, we waited several seconds before we honked. He still didn’t move, so we passed him and went down the street. We couldn’t tell as we looked back whether he was okay, or injured, or deceased. So we got to the travel station, and I walked back. The car was still at the intersection. When I got several steps along, he finally apparently woke up and drove off.
The highlight of the trip was Jamestown, for my daughter loved the boats and the hands-on Indian and colonial villages.

Colonial Williamsburg was less fun, but only because we didn’t think it was worth the high cost of a single-day ticket, which is all we had time for; a multiple day ticket WOULD have been worthwhile. Still, Lydia was placated by a fife we bought her (no, not Barney Fyfe.) And it WAS a beautiful day for a picnic. The one “free” place we got to was a church that high ranking officials such as governors, had special seats designated for them. The first two governors are names well known to most Americans, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson.

Another Monday meme or three

In all likelihood, from some guy in Buffalo who wants you to Ask Him Anything.

Quiz the First
List your favorite product(s) for each of the following categories. You can also expand on why you like them, how long you’ve used them, etc.

1) Laundry detergent: Tide. That’s what my wife buys. A lot when it’s on sale. When I was single: whatever was cheapest that week.
2) Fabric softener: Febreze, I think.
3) Floor cleaner: Pine-sol or something like it, but most of them time, just sweeping, vacuuming, and Swiffers.
4) Carpet cleaner: Vacuum.
5) Glass cleaner: The store brand.
6) Dish detergent: Dawn, or some other name brand on sale. The sore brands don’t cut it for my wife. She may be right.
7) Bathroom cleaner: Whatever’s on sale.
8) Bath soap: SoftSoap shower gels.
9) Shampoo: Suave.
10) Conditioner: Same.
11) Styling products: None for me.
12) Deodorant: My mother used to sell Avon, and I have a stockpile of whatever their roll-on is.
13) Toothpaste: Crest or Colgate, on sale.
14) Mouthwash: Store brand that looks looks like Scope.
15) Face cleanser: None; use soap.
16) Moisturizer: Nope.
17) Treatment: I don’t even know what “Treatment” is!
18) Lip balm: Rarely.
19) Nail polish: None.
20) Make up: No.

Do you have a dishwasher?

Is your living room carpeted or does it have hardwood floors?
Every room is carpeted except the kitchen and bathrooms.

Do you keep your kitchen knives on the counter or in a drawer?
We have a set in a knife block.

House, apartment, duplex or trailer?

How many bedrooms is it?
The assessment says three (or four). One’s very small. One’s the office.

Gas stove or electric?
Gas. Electric, which I have had in the past, is uncivilized.

Do you have a yard?

What size TV is in the living room?
Nineteen inches. Bought in 1987. No V-chip, no SAP, no stereo. We’ll keep it until it dies.

Are your plates in the same cupboard as your cups?

Is there a coffee maker sitting on your kitchen counter?
No. Neither my wife or I drink coffee much. We DO have a coffeemaker, for guests.

What room is your computer in?
The office, one of the “bedrooms”.

Are there pictures hanging in your living room?

Yes: a bucolic scene. A history of the British empire from 973 to 1973 that lists all of the houses and all the kings and queens in that house.

Are there any themes found in your home?
Yes. the books are in the office. The CDs are in 4 CD holders. Not a theme? I really don’t know what that means.

Do you have any curtains in your home?
We used to. The ones we had originally were custom fitted to those windows. Now we have blinds.

What color is your fridge?
That off-white “appliance” color. The freezer door is off kilter, and sometimes you have to lift it up to make sure it’s closed. This happened when I was in the refrigerator and someone opened the freezer door above me, a visiting sister, I think. I stood up and practically took the door off with my shoulders and back. The fridge is only four or five years old, and was less than one year old when this happened.

Is your house clean?

My house is clean on Saturday. Isn’t always tidy during the week, though.

What room is the most neglected?

Now that my wife has cleaned the office, mostly of her school clutter, I’d say our bedroom.

Are the dishes in your sink/dishwasher clean or dirty?
Generally clean.

How long have you lived in your home?
Since May 2000.

Where did you live before?
In the first floor of the two-family apartment Carol bought in 1992. we were there for a year, and it was way too crowded. More to the point, it was HER house, as much as she tried to make it ours. This was actually good advice my former pastor gave us before we were married; get a place that was “ours”.

Do you have one of those fluffy toilet lid covers on your toilet?
No. Never saw the point of those.

Do you have a scale anywhere in your house?
Yes, under our bed.

How many mirrors are in your house?
Two vanity mirrors in the bathroom, one other upstairs, one downstairs. Four.

Look up. What do you see?
A light fixture.

Do you have a garage?
No. We have street parking, with alternate-side parking twice a week, and a city that’ll plow you into your parking space.

Quiz the Second

1. How old will you turn in 2008?
55, double nickel.

2. Do you think you’ll be married by then?
If she’s keep me.

3. What do you look forward to most in the next 3 months?
More sleep.

4. Do you like to say “I told you so?”
No. I prefer people recognizing the rightness of my position without me saying a word.

5. Who was the last person to call you?
My wife.

6. Do you prefer call or text?
I don’t text.

7. Do you have any pets?
A stuffed cat.

8. What were you doing at 1:30 am?
Thinking about tomorrow.

9. What were you doing at 3:00 am?
Writing this.

10. When is the last time you saw your mom?
November, when I went to Charlotte, NC for her 80th birthday.

11. What is your mood?

12. How many houses have you lived in?
I lost count. More than 30.

13. How many city/towns have you lived in?
Binghamton, Kingston, New Paltz, Jamaica (Queens), Schenectady, and Albany, NY. Charlotte, NC.

14. Do you prefer shoes, socks or bare feet?
Slippers. Or sandals.

15. Are you a social person?

16. What was the last thing you ate?
Graham crackers.

17. What’s your favorite color?

18. What are you doing for your next birthday?
Taking the day off.

19. What is your favorite TV show?
It depends on the last thing I saw. There was a great Aliens in America Christmas show. That said, The Office. Or Scrubs.

20. What kind of jelly do you like on your PB & J sandwich?
I don’t like peanut butter. when I was 3 or 4, I ate it a LOT, apparently, and now the smell/taste makes me slightly nauseous. In any case, the daughter is allergic to it, so there’s none in the house. My wife, BTW, LOVES peanut butter. Oh, jelly? Strawberry jam.

21. Do you like coffee?
No. I know this disappoints GayProf greatly, but what can you do?

22. What are you listening to?
The computer.

23. Do you have an iPod?
Yes, but don’t use it much.

24. How do you feel about the last person you kissed?
This is a family blog.

25. Do you sleep on a certain side of the bed?
On the left, as you’re reclining on the bed with the headboard at your head.

26. Do you know how to play poker?
Yes, but I play so infrequently always need a cheat card to emind me whether a straight beats a flush or vice versa.

27. What are you thinking about right now?

28. Any plans for this weekend?
Reading, writing.

29. Have you cut your hair this week?
No. A couple weeks ago.

30. Last picture you took?
Probably of the daughter.

31. Are you a tease?
Used to be.

32. Have you ever been in an ambulance?
Once, after a car accident in Endicott, NY when I was 19.

33. Do you prefer an ocean or pool?
To swim in? A pool. To walk beside? An ocean.

34. Do you smile often?
I guess so.

35. What color are your bed sheets?
Without looking, i couldn’
t tell you. Blue? Yellow? White? The red ones?

36. What is your favorite thing to spend money on?

37. Do you wear any jewelry 24/7?
Wedding ring.

38. Have you heard a rumor about yourself this week?
Only the ones I’ve started.

39. Who is the funniest person you know?
Probably one of the racquetball guys.

41. Where do you want to go to college?
SUNY New Paltz (B/A.), UAlbany (M.L.S.)

42. Who was the last person to make you cry?
Probably my daughter.

43. Do you shut off the water while you brush your teeth?

44. Do you wish you were with someone right now?
I’m good.

45. Are you mad about anything?
The “debates” that seem to seek out the salacious rather than inform, and gave more time to the top-tier candidates. NYS arcane election laws, making it harder to vote than elsewhere, spineless Democrats in Congress. And I won’t even get into the administration in DC.

Quiz the third

1. Have you ever had mono?

2. The last place you were (besides now)?

3. The last gift you received?
Music of some sort.

4. How many times a day do you drop your mobile phone?
I’ve never dropped it yet. Forget it, yes.

5. The top three things you spend the most money on?
Well, since so much of it is automatically allocated to things such as the mortgage and paying bills, it’s hard to say. Of the things I actually pay by cash, check or charge: utilities, food, drugspharmaceuticals.

6. Last food you ate?

7. First thing you notice about the opposite sex?
Close up: eyes. From a distance: general contour.

9. The school you attend?
See above: I finished college over fifteen years ago.

10. Your mobile phone provider?

11. Favorite store that’s usually in a mall?
Dick’s Sporting Goods. That said, I tend to avoid the mall like The Plague.

12. Whats the longest job you have ever had?
The current one: since October 19, 1992.

13. What do you smell like?
I don’t know.

14. The biggest lie you’ve ever heard?
I’m sure it has to do with the Iraq war, but there were so many…

15. The last time you cried was because why?

16. In your opinion, do long distance relationships work?
Not for me.

17. Do you drink coffee?

18. What do you wanna say to your most recent ex?
“I did love you, you know.”

19. Do you believe in God?
Yes, and is She pissed!

20. Favorite color(s)?
I’ve changed my mind since above. Tangerine trees and marmalade skies.

21. The last person on your missed calls list on your mobile phone?
I don’t give out my number to my mobile phone I use it to call people. I don’t miss calls.

23. How many pillows do you usually sleep with?
One, maybe two if they’re thin.

24. What are you wearing now?
Gray sweatshirt, dark gray sweatpants. I sleep in them.

25. How many pets do you own?
Well, if you count ALL the stuffed animals…

26. What are you doing tomorrow?
Praying for peace.

27. Can you play ping pong?
Yes, but not particularly well.

28. Favorite gender?
Women. The vast majority of my friends have been female since I was about 10.

29. Do you like maps?
I LOVE maps. My grandfather used to give me the maps from his National Geographic, and I probably still have them in a suitcase in the attic, at least some of them.

31. Have you ever attended a themed party?
Yes. A polyester party, after seeing the John Waters film. All the food was marshmallow fluff and the like.

32. Have you ever thrown a party?
I’ve thrown LOTS of parties None recently, though.

33. When did you wake up this morning?
About three a.m.

34. The best thing about winter?
Going to the movies.

35. Last time you were in trouble with the cops?
Well, there was that time in ’72…

38. What are your plans for this weekend?
Catching up on newspapers, taped programming.

39. How many days is it until your birthday?

40. What do you want to be when you “grow up”?
A raconteur.

41. Are you on a laptop?

42. Are you smiling?
No. I’m cold. And tired.

43. Do you miss someone right now?
Sometimes, I miss me.

44. Are you happy?
I’ll be happier next month.

45. Have you ever been in the hospital for an emergency?
Besides the car accident in 1972, there was the time I had an allergic reaction to naprocyn, slept for 24 hours, got dragged to the ER, was dehydrated, and was on an IV for nine hours.

46. Last time you ate chicken?
I eat chicken often. Last night, actually.

47. What jewelry are you wearing?
Besides the ring, nothing.

48. What are you going to do after this survey?
Something else. Get dressed for work.

49. Song you’re listening to?
45 Men in a Telephone Booth.

50. The car you were in last?

52. What color shirt are you wearing?
It’s still light gray. What is it with recurring questions in the same blog-quiz, anyway?

53. How long is your hair?
What hair?

54. What’s on your mind right now?
I need to take off some vacation days.

55. Last show you watched?
ABC News.

56. Last thing you drank?

57. Who was hotter, Ginger or Maryanne?
Mary Ann, who got rooked in the series’ first theme.

No tagging. Anybody crazy enough to do one of these, or all three, is welcome to do so.

The Timeshare

When Carol, Lydia and I prepared for going to the timeshare in the Berkshires (Hancock, MA) in late June, it was exhausting. We really didn’t know much to expect. We had visited other venues, and the accommodations varied widely. So we packed so much that I had to slam the trunk closed a few times. You may have heard of the preparations for D-Day, June 6, 1944; Ike was a piker compared with my wife.

I got the Mapquest directions which read, after getting on I-90, to:
Merge onto TROY RD / US-4 S via EXIT 9 toward EAST GREENBUSH. 0.6 miles
Turn LEFT onto LUTHER RD / NY-151. Continue to follow NY-151. 5.0 miles
Turn LEFT onto NY-150. 1.8 miles
Turn RIGHT onto BIITTIG RD. 1.1 miles
BIITTIG RD becomes SHEER RD / CR-52. 0.8 miles
Turn SLIGHT RIGHT onto FIRST DYKE RD. 0.9 miles
Turn RIGHT onto NY-43 / NY-66. Continue to follow NY-43.
before we even got to Massachusetts. (It was only later that we figure we could just take Route 43 from I-90 all the way.)

Anyway, we get to this place near Jiminy Peak that looks like:

Of course, this being a timeshare, you don’t just check in, as you might in a hotel. You need to get an in-service about their amenities and make an appointment for later in the week to see if we might want to buy a place ourselves. Oh, boy, can’t wait until Wednesday.

The place had a full kitchen, a little washer-drier, a TV in both bedrooms, and a TV with a DVD player in the living room.

There wasn’t a lot of kid-friendly stuff, especially 3-year-old kid-friendly, actually at the place. There were kids’ movies every night at 6 pm. Monday night, Carol took Lydia to see Charlotte’s Web. Lydia had never been to the movies, and the room was VERY dark when the lights were out, so they left in 10 minutes. There was an inside/outside swimming pool that Carol and Lydia used almost daily. There WAS a playground a couple miles away, but it was fairly barren.

(Which one is our car? I really don’t know, but it’s not one of the SUVs.)

Wednesday morning, the saleslady shows up, bringing us gifts (an oatmeal-scented candle, a magnet, a deck of cards, and most interesting to me, a hat that actually fit my head). She asked how we got there, and we explained that we were offered the space by my parents-in-law 18 to 30 months previous, that we had only now taken advantage of it, and that we hadn’t been on a real vacation since 2003. We were so pathetic that she didn’t even TRY to sell us.

Later that morning, I did go to one of those free demonstrations of facial, hand and other products. It was me and nine women; see, I DO have a sensitive side.

In the evening, we could see that a massive thunderstorm was hitting Albany. In fact, the timeshare was close enough that we could watch Albany stations. On Western Avenue, not far from our house, I could see there was localized flooding; our home, I learned only the next day, was fine. Still, I was glad that I watched that Paul Simon: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song thing, because the storm had knocked out our DVD recordings for the remainder of the week.

On Saturday, Carol expressed frustration that she hadn’t gotten to do a lot of things on her own (like my facial, and a movie I saw – to be described), so she went off to Williams College and saw art while Lydia and I hung out. Later, Carol and I, in turn, used the hot tub, finally. Sunday, we went home. Lydia said Saturday, that she was tired of “vacation”, and wanted to be around her own stuff; I was with her. I think when she’s older, it’ll be a better experience for all of us.

I mean, it WAS a lovely place to be, especially in the morning, when I would go for a walk and play license plate tag. I found 31 states, and 4 Canadian provinces. I took a picture of this one with GayProf, who loves Texas, in mind. Imagine: a Texas liberal – you can’t see it in the picture, but the vehicle had as bunch of environmental and open-government stickers.



This is sad. I’ve realized that I had, again, forgotten the art of the vacation. As I’ve suggested, this has happened before.

First off, I need to define vacation. Generally speaking, visiting the relatives, as much as I love them, does NOT qualify as vacation. One exception: I went to visit my sister Leslie in the late 1980s in San Diego, and we went together to San Francisco.

When I was working at FantaCo, I didn’t go on vacation much, especially in the early years. I didn’t think I could afford to, either monetarily or workload-wise. I distinctly recall Tom pretty much insisting I take some time off, so I took five Wednesdays in a row, and went to a movie matinee almost each week.

I did make it up to Montreal in 1992, but that was a business trip. (Also, in 1991, but that’s another story.) Indeed, I HAVE gotten to go lots of places for work and had time to play.

In my current job, the first real vacation I took was in 1998. I took off two weeks, which I seriously doubt I’ve ever done before or since, again excluding family trips. The first week, I went to Detroit to visit a friend, and saw a Tigers game, Motown and Henry Ford mementos, etc. I had intended to spend the second week at home, catching up on my clutter, but ended up going to DC to try out for a game show.

In 1999, Carol and I did the honeymoon in Barbados, but then my wife was a poor college student, so I can’t recall going anywhere until our 2002 trip to Concord, NH, followed by our 2003 trip to Maine. Nothing since, though, which seems to have correlated with the addition to the household.

So, it was Christmas 2005 or was it Christmas 2004?- when when my parents-in-law offered us, and their other children as well, to make use of their timeshares, which are all over the country. But one has to book these things well in advance. My wife must have booked ours late last year for the last week in June. If she told me the dates, it must not have stuck in my mind, for in the beginning of the year, I scheduled my annual physical for the same week, which I subsequently had to postpone.

I think it’s because the description of the place sounded OK, but the notion of the vacation seemed rather fuzzy. “It’ll be a chance to get away.” Away from what? Work? I can take off days from work without going anywhere. It was a week when my wife was off from school before starting to work on summer school. I suppose if the literature for the place wasn’t filled with things such as “close to” all these other places, I might have been more excited. What inherent enjoyment will we find at the place, I was wanting to know? And lacking that, I was not very enthused about the trip.

This was going to go on, but:
Big storm in Albany on Monday evening – electricity in our house for over 11 hours (6:40 pm-6 am) + the hottest night in the year – electricity at Lydia’s day care on Tuesday + Roger watching Lydia = Story To Be Continued
And speaking of sad, cartoonist Doug Marlette died in a car crash. He drew a great Reagan.