Saturday, October 31, 2009

Well, It Just So Happens...

that we went back to New England Biolabs today.Here's the glass building with the large plant occupied atrium.We were surprised that we noticed so many more things on this second trip. Some of which were so large that we had a hard time explaining just HOW we had missed them. This is such a cool place that I told 'A' that we were going again some Saturday and walk around.It's still a bit spooky with the odd car parked here and there, three pumpkins on front steps, a lone man sitting on a front porch.And more creatures, large and larger!Like how did we ever miss that guy last time?The original estate must have been quite beautiful.

Friday, October 30, 2009


One thing 'A' wanted to do during her vacation week was to go to Marini Farms and do the corn maze. It's 8 acres large and while it sounds as if it would be a little wasn't. Yes, there were parts of the process that were 'educate the children', but even that proved challenging in a maze aspect. The idea is to collect, on your score sheet, various farming related words and picture rubbings as you go through the maze. We weren't very interested in that other than the problem of finding them all (we didn't). It took us about 90 minutes to find our way through the maze. We collected about three quarters of the puzzle (words and pictures). We have decided that next year we'll do it again with more emphasis on game play, not just finding our way through.

After completing the maze, and on our way home (sort of), we took a trip to New England Bio Labs. Strange you think? You bet. New England Bio Labs does research/development/something else having to do with DNA, RNA, genomes and piles of stuff that I haven't a clue what on earth they are talking about. Anyway, I had been told that the grounds and buildings were really cool to take a look we did...and they are. The property was evidently a large agricultural estate with buildings of brick and stucco. Those buildings have been preserved in their original form on the exterior, with interiors now devoted to offices and labs. In the midst is a large, all glass, multi storied contemporary building housing more research space. It has a three story, corner atrium filled with enormous tropical plants. On the property surrounding the facility are many metal sculptures.A horse grazing.A large bird befitting a scary movie.

Just in time for Halloween...a research lab and spooky creatures amid old, brick and vine covered buildings.

I will not be driving up there after dark.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I received one of those emails, from a friend, today. You know the type...list your whatever. This was a 'list your first' list. So here goes. Those readers that are bloggers can follow suit on your own blog.

In honor of the upcoming weekend...
First Halloween costume: A clown. My Dad made the costume. Yep, he liked to sew. He always did any reupholstering of furniture, too. Anyway, I was one and a half years old when I first wore the costume. When 'A' was two I made the same costume for her.

First car: Well, y'all know about that one. A Pontiac Firebird. An embarrassing moment happened when a friend and I went to Hampton Beach, NH in that car. I was on summer break from college and Kim and I decided it would be a good beach day. We parked right at the beach and as I was ready to shut my door I thought... I don't want to carry my purse around with me...and tossed it back in the car. Just as I slammed the door, I realized that I had locked it and my keys were in my purse. I tried to stop Kim from slamming the passenger door shut, but only managed to yell "don't shut it" just as she let go. It didn't completely shut...but wouldn't open either. No big deal, I thought, we'll just walk to the local beach police station and get a coathanger. Got there to discover that two of my former junior high school teachers were summertime cops. I had to listen to an awful lot of chiding about stupidity on the escorted walk back to my car. I've never locked myself out of a car since.

First kiss: You are supposed to remember that, right? I don't. It was probably A. D. the first guy I went to a school dance with in junior high. A simple kiss goodnight. Never dated him.

First house or apartment as an adult: When I got married in 1977, we rented the first floor of a house in Folly Cove (Gloucester). We rented for one year and then bought the Lanesville house (search this blog for 'Lanesville' or 'Greenough' for stories about our house, ghosts, and more). It was less than a half mile from our rental.

First crush: Definitely Tom. Never dated him. Still hope? (giggle)

First pet: When I was born, my parents had a black cat named Lucky. Lucky wasn't so, as he got lost when we moved to Groveland from Haverhill. As an adult, my first pet was my grey and white cat, Tiffany. My favorite pet was Tucker. An all black cat who stayed by my side through some of the worst times.

First vacation destination: Don't remember what place came first. We often traveled to the White Mts. or to Lake Winnepesauki (misspelled, I'm sure). Big trip to Niagara Falls, Quebec, Montreal. Several to Florida. Actually one of the trips to Florida would have been my first when I was three or four years old. We stayed at the Pan American Hotel on North Miami Beach. I loved the pool...and grapefruit juice with my oatmeal at the hotel restaurant.

First teacher: Kindergarten, Mrs. Hickox. I distinctly remember that she contracted chicken pox twice!

First boyfriend/girlfriend: Paul B. We dated for a couple years during high school.

First paying job: Picking strawberries at Ingalsby Farm. I was fourteen and rode my bike about 6 miles each way. Started at 7 in the morning and finished at noon. I lasted at that until I stuck my hand in to grab a nice, red berry and found a very large mound of fur. Yes, as in a dead...something...big. A total nasty job of crawling along the rows on wet straw while spiders and other bug thingies crawled on you.

So, let's go to your blog and read about your firsts!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Our Neighbors and Then Some

Remember the neighbors that had their driveway redone? Well, it's not doing very well. A lot of it has washed out and there are weeds growing up in the middle of it. But that's not really why I'm writing this. The neighbors always have a rather large vegetable garden. This year they planted pumpkins, but evidently they planted them too early as they had dozens of pumpkins by the beginning of September. They lined the driveway with them, had one at the mailbox, several up the front steps and a lot on the deck railing. Well, there are still a few sitting around. Those that haven't rotted...or been eaten. Chip evidently enjoys his vegetables, rotting or not.It was a day filled with wildlife. The Bubbas had a feeding frenzy this morning, hopping around, chasing each other off, even looking in the window for more peanuts (no beak knocks yet). In the afternoon, after a final lunch at Ellen's Harborside (they closed for the season today), 'A' and I decided to do some beach walking. First we tried Cape Hedge Beach. We walked about half the length before turning back. The tide was about at half tide and that made walking too difficult with all the popples. We drove to Pebble Beach. Pebble Beach is totally covered in popples but we were more interested in the pond directly across the dirt road from the beach.There we talked to one of the swans who was, for a few moments, quite cooperative about picture taking. After a bit I think he got annoyed and decided to be aggressive about us leaving. Fortunately, he moved rather slowly so he wasn't very much of a threat. Our next stop was Land's End where we climbed around the rock ledge at the ocean's edge. That sort of tired us out so we headed for home...the long-ish way along Eden Road...a mistake. My goodness, the road is worse than I've seen it - ever! Potholes large enough to swallow my little truck! It was like bumper cars in slow motion trying to miss the worst of them.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Got This in the Mail

These folks send out the best invitations. They host a superior open house, as well! You can wander the entire workshop, sample a variety of tasty foods and drink, and enjoy a free concert on the latest organ. The entire organ is assembled, then taken apart and transported to it's new home, in this case Opus 136 (3 manual, 39 stop) will live at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

I guess I'll be taking myself.
Check out the link to C. B. Fisk in the sidebar.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


or could the plural be jalopi. I like the sound of that. During the rain of Sunday I decided to sort through my box of photos. On occasion it needs a that I can find what I'm looking for in a reasonable length of time. First I came across this photo.It is labeled on the back, "Al's Jalopy". A shame it doesn't show the entire car. I haven't a clue as to what maker, either. I am sure that my dad spent many hours keeping it running!

I got to thinking about the first car that I owned. I got my driver's license in 1971, when I was 16. My parents owned an enormous boat of an automobile, a Pontiac Bonneville, olive green with a fake leather top in black. I learned to drive in that car. As soon as I got home from passing my driver's test, my mom asked me to take her shopping at the Northshore Shopping Center (now a mall), Jordan Marsh, Filene's, and more. My mom didn't drive back then and wouldn't get her license until her new chauffeur (me) went off to college. I also became official driver for all my friends as I was the oldest and for a time the only driver. My parents thought nothing of loaning me the car to drive to concerts an hour away in Boston. Great concerts like The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues, and others.

Owning my own car came a few years later. I spent my first year at college, in Boston, living in a private dormitory. Massachusetts College of Art had no dorms of their own. My second year I decided to live at home and commute. My dad was concerned that I have a very reliable, sturdy, survive most anything, rugged auto for that commute each day to Boston. As a result, this became my first car.A brand new Pontiac Firebird (V8). I can't remember whether it was a 1974 or 1975. I know that the next year's model had a wraparound rear window. My dad installed an 8 track tape player for me. I could commute to Boston listening to Pink Floyd, or Bach's Goldberg Variations...(Yes, Bach on 8 track. I used the school's audio lab to convert my 33 rpm records to 8 track)

Then came the oil crisis. Prices jumped to over 75 cents/gallon. The bright red Firebird got traded in for a first year Volkswagon Rabbit. What a change, what a mistake!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Yep, surf's up. And there were a couple surfers yesterday. Today we didn't see any. Well, with the exception of these birds!We are in the middle of a nor'easter. Wind gusts exceeding 40 mph, temp around 45°F, loads of driven downpours, and even a bit of sleet. Tides are a tad overly high!Font sizeToday is also the second, and last, day of Rockport's Harvest Festival. Not so good. No ship this year. Some of the crew from the USS Constitution came up from Boston. They brought a cannon and installed it at the end of T-Wharf. Shot it off every hour between 11 and 4 yesterday. Some of the crews from a few subs stationed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard were supposed to be here. Evidently a lot of them were no-show. Not nice. Yesterday's weather was brisk and windy but no rain, so outside activities were fine. Not so today.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Breakfasts for Bubbas

As most of you are aware, we feed a large family of blue jays. To tell the truth, we started this three year habit by feeding Chip (the chipmunk) and his son, Stubby. They liked sunflower seeds. We then graduated to feeding Squirt, Squeaky, and Scooter, three squirrels that loved to hang around our deck. They got to eat walnuts at first, then we switched to more economical peanuts. Unfortunately the squirrels got too pushy and started climbing the screen door looking for more treats. We tried using a little water gun to shoo them off, but they liked getting soaked! Now Bubba, Babs, and all their little Bubbas hang out in the pussy willow tree every morning. When I open the drapes at the sliding door, Bubba lands on the fence and waits. I throw out four peanuts at a time and we watch as the blue jays flock to our deck to grab them. They have developed a few, cute habits worthy of comment. Most of Bubba's family now will weigh the peanuts before making a choice of which nut to fly off with. They hop around the deck picking up one nut after another, sometimes doing a second check of one they already lifted in their beak, until they find the largest and heaviest. One guy tries to take more than one nut at a time. He nearly swallows the first and then tries to wedge a second one in his already open beak. Only occasionally does he manage it. This is not an easy task! We throw out about 20 peanuts (still in the shell) each morning. With the last handful I generally tell them, "That's it. The restaurant is closed!" The Bubbas still return after closing and hop right up to the window of the sliding door and peer in, waiting for me to get up and head for the peanut bowl. My mom says she's just waiting until they start knocking on the glass with their beaks.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Apathy Pushed Aside

Well, the Monday workday rolled around. Instead of my usual early arrival for the purpose of getting everything ready ahead of time for opening, I decided to give it only ten minutes. Of course, I still left the house at the same time. Needed to find a free parking space and also walk up to the main store to get the key, something usually not needed on non-holidays (the candy maker unlocks the door bright and early on normal weekdays). When I arrived at the factory store, why was I not surprised to find everything in dire need of attention? Everything! So, I washed the outside windows first and then headed indoors. It was time to open but so much needed to be done. I decided to open a few minutes late (ten) and fill the taffy 'boat' first. The taffy boat is actually a large rowboat, sectioned off in to fourteen bins. The bins are full (or should be) of the various flavors of taffy. They were all half empty or less. This meant lots of back-breaking filling. The 25 pound boxes of taffy are stored below the boat, five of those had no more than a handful left in them so I had to head for the taffy room shelves to get more full boxes.

As I was filling the taffy boat I heard a knock on the window. It was the taffy puller, showing up for work. Wonderful, that meant an even busier day as while he is 'on display' working in the window, crowds gather. Inside and out. In good humor I mouthed "GO AWAY!" then opened the door to let him in.

The rest of the filling had to wait until after the store was open and there was a lot of it to do. Not just candy, but boxes and bags. Then there was cleaning all the interior glass and retrieving dead gummy bears from the window display (where they didn't belong). I noticed that the owner had left a terse note for the Sunday crew (two work on Sunday) that they were to stop shooting elastic bands around the shop (he'd evidently found many), that they were there to WORK. I decided to write my own note - to the owner. I first wrote a list of everything that I had to do that morning (he probably noticed some of it while he was there to open the registers), including filling over twenty other candies, some that were completely empty, besides the taffy. Then I added a note that I had spoken to the manager and had her approval to close the store that evening without doing any filling - nothing. It was intentional and never something that I would normally do. Truthfully, even though I was there as the only clerk, on a holiday, with the taffy pulling and wrapping attracting crowds of people, who then filled the shop constantly from 11 a.m. until a slight slow down at 5 p.m., I could have found moments to fill stock (I actually did some as needed to avoid empty trays). I had a constant line for 6 hours! I am so glad that's done! I'm not claiming to be super clerk or anything. It's just that when there is that moment to grab, you can't just stand and stare. You have to work. Today I'll be turning in my time card and picking up a paycheck. I'm curious as to what the owner's reaction will be.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Another Week - Gone

And what did I accomplish?

Monday, of course, is my 'lost' day. I work retail from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. During that time several things occurred. The first was irritating. I arrived at work to find that most of the filling of stock that should have been done on Sunday evening hadn't been done. Luckily, I had arrived quite early giving me time to get the majority filled up before customers arrived. Still, I had plenty to keep me busy for over an hour. The last of it being worked in between sales. I don't think it's asking too much to get most of the candy filled and the shop neatened up before closing in the evening. Really, should I have to be picking up trash from the floor when the evening guy was supposed to sweep? This led to the second thing that happened. I wrote a short, polite note to Sunday's crew and taped it to the back counter. Then I proceeded with the day's selling. About noontime I decided against the note and threw it away. I'm only there one day and don't want to be the only complainer. Felt good to write it, though. Yeah, still bugs me and tomorrow is quickly approaching. Monday was also the day that my latest order from the piano parts supplier arrived. I had called in the order last week and, once again, explained about the defective parts. I made a point to emphasize that ALL defective parts were in boxes labeled: Operator JR Shift 2. I told them that I had 13 defective 'D's and 13 defective 'E's (I decided to skip the part about the overly scratched ones - one battle at a time) I was assured that it would be taken care of.

Which brings me to Tuesday, when I unpacked and inspected the shipment. ALL the key top boxes were labeled Operator JR Shift 2! What a screw up. Thankfully they all seem okay. Oh, and they sent me 14 'D's and 12 'E's. sigh. My patience is wearing thin. Tuesday afternoon 'A' and I made a trip to the mall so that she could buy new shoes for work. She ended up with new boots, two pairs of pants, a shirt, and the shoes. I bought nothing.

Wednesday morning I was up bright and early to head for the Cabot Street Theater in Beverly to take a look at a player piano that had quit functioning. When they had called they couldn't remember the make of the piano so I had no idea what I would be getting in to. I hate leaving the house early, especially on a windswept rainy day. Rte. 128 was flooded in parts and I thought that I would need the extra time that I had allotted for the trip. I arrived 25 minutes early so I sat in the truck in front of the theater and waited. Once the doors were unlocked, I fed the meter and went to take a look. A Wurlitzer. Too much electrical stuff for me! I recommended another tech. The skies had cleared for my trip home. Wednesday afternoon my mom wanted me to drive her to L.L. Bean. Oh yuck. I hate that drive. Especially the drive back during rush hour. She bought a new winter coat, a sweater, and a jersey. I bought nothing.

I declared that Thursday would be MY DAY. In the morning I finished off the reed organ article and selected the photos that would accompany the article. At noon, 'A' and I headed for the Moseley Estates (Maudslay State Park). I wanted to take a look for the Kettle Hole. Supposedly a kettle hole forms when trapped glacial ice melts. We live in a terminal moraine area, where the last glacial age left enormous hunks of rock (granite) deposited at it's southern most reach. It also left broken off pieces of ice that got buried under a layer of earth. When those giant pieces of ice eventually melted, the earth collapsed forming large hollows named kettle holes. Well, we found it was sure disappointing! So we hiked around some more through the woods and saw two deer cross the path just ahead of us. As it got later in the day, Newburyport's cross country running team had a meet at the park and it got bothersome trying to avoid them on the trails. We left for home stopping at the new Marshall's on the way back.

Funny thing (or maybe not), I don't even remember Friday. I'm sure something happened! Oh yeah, I submitted the reed organ article (sans photos). The editor emailed asking that I send the photos to him after the first of November, when he'll be back home in CA. (photos need to be sent hard copy) So, fingers crossed that it's a go for publication at some point!

Saturday morning was devoted to errands. The bank, buying a newspaper, and a trip to the library. I finished reading "Await Your Reply". A very strange novel of intricately woven characters, lives, and identity theft. Anyway, I bought three 'dollar books', "The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency", "The Piano Teacher" (I've already read it), and "Singers and the Song". Just as I was paying for the books, another librarian told me that a book that I had requested was in - the new Nicholas Spark's novel, "The Last Song". And I've still got the next Music Book Group book sitting here to read - " The Inextinguishable Symphony"! After lunch 'A' and I went to Halibut Point State Park, here in Rockport. It was cold and windy, but we had a good hike around the quarry and down to the shore. The pictures interspersed in this post are from Halibut Point.

Yay, I remember more about Friday! I spent Friday morning tuning 3 pianos at the high school. Now I get paid...first the tuning last month at the church school in Beverly (the job with the near parking fine), then a local church, then the high school.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

I Must Be Nuts

After the rainy Saturday, Sunday looked promising - no rain forecast. Both 'A' and I managed to get ready to be out the door at the same time this morning, with no hassles. I dropped her at work and then I went to church. After church, M asked if I had big plans for my afternoon. I couldn't think of a thing that I'd planned on doing. By the time I had reached home it had dawned on me. Today was the Music Book Group at the library. I ate a quick lunch ( I confess that it was just a large bowl of ice cream) and took myself to the group. The book being discussed was "The Soloist". The discussion was rather shallow and I don't think it addressed the book very well. However, it was a couple hours after the group that boredom got the best of me. I don't know what possessed me, but...I decided that we should all go to Skip's for final meals of the season. Skip's was closing today and will not reopen until mid April. Now, we'd just been there on Thursday and it is an hour drive one way. "A' got out of work at 5:30 and we headed directly for Merrimac and our last (again) cheeseburger specials of the season. On the ride up we kidded that we didn't even know if they would still be open when we got there. Then what? What a relief to see the sign all lit up!We were hungry. We got up to the window to order and found out that they were all out of hamburgers! We quickly modified our menu to chicken fingers. We did get 3 of the last 5 orders of suzy-q potatoes (curly fries). By the time we had finished eating - in the car, of course, they were cleaning the grill and closing up. My mom decided she'd get out and do trash duty. All the containers had been removed! It was a pleasant ride home smelling the remnants.

Next Spring will be the start of Skip's 63rd year in business. I can't remember a time I didn't go there!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

What to Do on a Rainy Day

Nothing like a rainy Saturday to be uninspired. I even spent an extra half hour in bed this morning trying to convince myself that I really did need to get up! 'A' and I went to the local store to pick up the morning paper. I got home and found that there really wasn't much in it worth reading. I picked up a little bit around the house, fed Bubba and family, played around on the computer catching up with bloggers and piano stuff. Lunch came and went and still it was raining. My mom had some shopping to do so she drove 'A' to work. I went to the library and got out a new book. It's another fiction novel titled, "Await Your Reply". In reading the cover flap I've no idea why I decided to get this book. It had sounded good when the guy on the Today Show recommended it. I'll give it a try. BTW, I hate to admit it but...Dan Brown's latest was very good. I just hate admitting to being so trendy.

When I got home from the library, I didn't feel like starting in on the new book. What to do?

Then an idea came to me. This would be a great time to get (back) to work on that article for the Reed Organ Quarterly. Gee, it's only been 6 weeks or more since I started it! Well folks, today I finished the rough draft (long hand) AND the first draft with edits. THEN I actually sat and proofed for typos and made a couple more edits. My mom read it over and had a couple good suggestions. This is the part I really enjoy about writing. Literally working it over, making it better, improving content, deleting the superfluous. There's more work to do, including photo selections, but it's taking shape.

On this rainy Saturday I actually accomplished something!