Sunday, October 31, 2010
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
About two weeks ago, I completed my nineteenth year of working for some very patient and forgiving people-I'm assuming that's how to characterize them, based on the number of trials and tribulations visited upon them as a result of our association with one another. I've been here long enough to have watched countless times as the lawn care people each summer come out three days a week, to include the days of hurricane rain, to fertilize and water the lawns surrounding our building only to return every week, usually on Thursdays, and cut the grass they've spent the rest of the week getting to grow.
Yesterday they were noisy and I was nosy. I worked out of a ground floor office in this same building for about a decade and I'm still getting used to the changes in altitude and attitude. From my old office it would have been far more difficult to appreciate how tall so many of the trees had become in the course of the years. I actually remember when we had far fewer trees on the lawn-not hat there were any big commemorative tree plantings. Just a large, burly workman heaving a scrawny stripling of a tree and dropping into a hole. Turns out this stuff adds up.
Looking down, at first I didn't see anyone but then I elevated my gaze to the junctions in the trees where the branches met the trunks. There, a swarm of aspiring arborists, like tent caterpillars on the attack, were chainsawing and hatcheting branches large and small, oblivious to the startled screams of tit willows and alarmed scamperings of the squirrels who consider the trees home. The branches have grown too big for their britches and some editing, so to speak, was called for.
Not that pruning wasn't needed in many instances. The maples on the far lawn near the parking lot have grown both tall and large with branches that obscure parts of the lighting fixtures intended to illuminate our parking area. Of course, at eleven o'clock on a sunny morning, no one is especially concerned about those trees and by the end of the day I already knew my traverse across the lot on Friday would be close to cave darkness.
I was impressed with the alacrity and precision with which all of this happened. In less time, or so it felt, than it has taken me to type these words, branches were felled, limbs amputated and the debris carted off. Between a lightly gusting breeze and a vacuum the size of Rhode Island, the crimson red leaves against the green grass of the lawn were soon enough a memory. And if for just a moment, it felt man and his technology had triumphed over Nature, I suppose all one has to do is look ahead a few pages on the calendar and wonder what we bipeds plan on doing when winter descends on New England.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
He shared English citizenship with Manchester United's Wayne Rooney who played more like Andy this past World Cup, while calling Obershausen, in the vicinity of Frankfurt am Main, home and his Lady Cleo impersonation fascinated the world, or at least that part of it correctly calling what we Yanks call soccer, 'football.' Gibts was wissenwertes uber Obershausen? Ehrlich gesagt, weiss Ich nicht. Uber Erlangen, klar aber, uber Obershausen, bin Ich mich nicht sicher.
Paul, as the news accounts relate, turned in on Monday evening hale and hearty and woke up dead on Tuesday. He died of natural causes, the account goes on to say. Not quite sure what's considered 'natural causes' for an octopus living in a municipal aquarium but if Jack Hanna's not raising an alarm, I'm good with the coroner's report as well.
Funeral arrangement are still pending, it seems. You could check with our daughter, Michelle, for the proper protocol of at-sea burial of her fish, but be prepared to be punched if you do. I'm not sure why she always expected a Viking (no, not this one) funeral. Could be worse, I suppose, Paul. You could be in the Ice House in Detroit (Brrrrrr!). Consolation prize: tartar sauce and a cameo appearance on a spiesekarte. As it is, brace for large quantities of Carbonara and Coca-Cola..
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Growth and adaptation are keys to success of every successful organism, from a single cell tag-along to a government spanning a continent. It shouldn't be that surprising to us, living in Norwich 2010 that our city has changed a great deal in three hundred and fifty years. And that's the thing about change-it relentlessly keeps happening because it's a process and not a product, a journey and not a destination.
Long time residents will concede that this
Allowing for growth and adaptation are critical underpinnings of the three point three million dollar bond question on the November ballot for the construction of new gas mains and an expansion of the natural gas service that will allow NPU expansion, at no addition to residents' tax rates or with any rate increase to their gas customers.
NPU would survey a neighborhood first and expand gas service only where there is enough support by new customers to pay for it. Efficiencies of scale would be achieved by targeting those areas most densely populated, first, and working with individual business and residential customers on items such as heating system conversions that would include energy-efficiency improvements. The expanded service base would mean lower rates for all and as gas-sale revenues increased, so, too would utility’s contribution to the city’s fund. The added customers from the expansion of the NPU service area would cover the costs of the bonds.
In many respects, this bond is the most straight-forward and business-like of all three referendum questions. In looking at all three, the challenge we face is reinvigorating neighbors and residents who are discouraged experts. There are many here among us who can cite numerous examples 'what didn't work the last time' to talk themselves out of trying the next time.
Our refusal to let go of the anger and resentment created by past failures keeps us from grasping the promise of the opportunities before us now. Simply put: If we think we can't, we won't. If we don't even try, we'll fail. We'll miss every shot we never take. Between now and Election Day, look again at all the materials and read all the discussions (on both sides of the issues) available on each of the bonds and decide for yourself and your family what Norwich Next should look like. You cannot win if you do not play. Game on.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Just me, or does your flesh crawl when reading a title like citizen journalist? Perhaps we're channeling Orson Welles and all that's left is the drawing to see who gets to be Rosebud's stunt double in the remake. Sort of like the days of 'comrade' when the worst thing we feared was the Red Menace, no relation to Red Auerbach, unless you're a fan of the ABA.
Anyway, back at the Golden Arches, the game's (been) afoot for some time now. Did you want fries with that? I appreciate these stories-what sentient human being wouldn't? Okay, wer so doof fragt...but proving I'm an equal opportunity sniper.....for your viewing disbelief, from the other side of the aisle.
I find it oddly comforting to know that if we manage to end our species' stay on this planet through one of those oops! moments with nuclear or biological weapons, the cockroaches who will survive will not be scarfing down any of those yummy treats they'll be able to reach right through the drive-thru window. How scared should we really be that bugs and bacteria want NO part of the stuff we're shoveling down our gullets with both hands?
As someone who actually enjoys eating fruitcake and puts up with an enormous amount of noise about that at the Christmas holidays (I now eat very little since even the smallest slice can put me in a diabetic coma), I'm looking forward to learning more about the ever growing number of other immortal foods we're eating.
I'm pleased to think that when the Rapture begins and it's really and truly Apocalypse Now, we'll have more than just loaves and fishes this time. And don't forget the Twinkies. Mmmm.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
She was, and remains, the most beautiful woman I have ever known. Then, her hair was dark and came to the small of her back, which for a very long time has been one of my favorite places. Now, she wears it much shorter and frets when she finds a grey hair (I'm one of the reasons why she has them) and I say nothing but smile at the wonder of it all.
I was tongue-tied for months after first seeing her and when I finally did speak, I told her I loved her because that's the way I am, and the way it was. We were engaged at Easter of 1977, before about forty percent of the people currently on earth were even born and were married thirty-three years ago, today, in the Offenbach Rathaus at shortly after ten in the morning.
Chris, who became Moni's husband and then 'becca and David's dad, then a widower and who now lives in Texas was my best man. He was the person who discovered my 'translator' (I spoke little to no German at that time) had memorized the ceremony's language in English and that was the extent of her knowledge of my language. Zwei hundredt deutschmark im arsch, wie Ich mich erinnere...
Evelyn, at the time Rick's wife and still Kevin's mom, was maid/matron of honor and afterwards we all went to a small restaurant not that far from the Rathaus for a celebratory meal that Franz, who passed some years ago, Sigrid's dad, and Anni, her mom, organized. Some time later we visited, as a married couple, one of her aunts who doubted we would ever marry, noting 'after I have triplets!' (I looked at her husband and thought 'it must be magic married to this one'). I asked as best I could, 'wie gehts den die drillenge? how are the triplets?' (which earned me neither language skills nor style points; two trends that continue to this day).
Sigrid is the last person I think about before I close my eyes and the first after I open them. She is very much 'like breathing out and breathing in' for me and I can only wish you, at some time in your life, will find and have someone who makes everything you do, good and bad, worth the waking. We have two children, themselves now adults, but always our children-Patrick and Michelle-who have enriched our lives more than words of any language can ever capture.
I have little recollection of my life before our marriage. Admittedly, I'm better off that way. I do recall being mostly unlovable except when I was unbearable. It matters not to the woman who married me. Even after all the years, when she looks at me, I can do anything--a feeling no one else has ever inspired in me. That I have nothing I need do for her to love me is amazing in ways I cannot explain. I'm pretty sure, especially in the years since arriving in the New World, that (at times) this isn't the life she signed up for under 'for better or for worse' and I, too, keep waiting for better days even as they grow shorter.
It still seems to me like we married last week though, I suspect, she feels it's longer than it actually is (because the Germans use the metric system, at least that's why I hope so) and I'm grateful for every day we've had and every memory we've made. I hope the years we are yet to have together are even more than the ones we've shared. You are an angel of snow-too lovely to hold and too beautiful not to try. Happy Anniversary, Angel Eyes!
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Not sure why Monday mornings seem to constitute a surprise attack for me to the depth and degree that they do, but it happens all the time. I try most Sunday evenings before turning in to get all the stuff I do on auto-pilot assembled and pre-staged so I don't have to do a lot of thinking (or better yet, ANY at all, until I'm out of the house). It's all pretty simple stuff, which is only fair since I'm simple as well.
I've gotten into an almost routine about working out at the gym around the corner from where I work every morning after I arrive in my office. Sometimes it's the treadmill, sometimes it's the elevated indoor track or the recumbent bicycle (no relation to the Hamptons' DNA, I've been told). Viva le Variete! More or less.
Yesterday I'd only just gone around the block when I realized I'd forgotten an outer coat to wear during the day. Not that big a deal as I squared the block, pulled into our driveway, let myself in through the front door and retrieved my jacket and was gone with the wind, if the wind were now a fifty-eight year old doddering idiot. Oh Rhett! Yes, Scarlett. Of course, your mileage may vary, wildly.
Back on track I sped to work, ready to head to the Jamesnasium (I don't know it well enough to be informal, yet) and discovered I'd forgotten a large towel for use after my shower (you only think you know where this is going? HA!). Much like the jacket I'd forgotten and then retrieved, the towel is an item I only use every day of the work week, so it's understandable how I might have lost sight of having one.
One of the pleasant memories I have with my late father was helping him on one of the innumerable IP (idiot projects-I came up with that all by myself) he had, hanging rain gutters from the eaves of one of our family's summer houses. Of course, we were attempting to do this in the rain-why else would he want to put them up? Dad was a brilliant man with no mechanical aptitude (I take after him except for the brilliance) who not only knew everything, he knew everything better, including how to hang rain gutters without reading any of the instructions. We had so many hangers, and wires and bolts it looked like a hardware store had exploded. I can still hear his words, 'anyone can follow instructions; a genius improvises.'
If that's true, I should've called the Mensa society because I was channeling Einstein. It came to me like a flash-just because I had forgotten my towel didn't mean I needed to forgo my apres-workout shower. Thank goodness, the locker room hadn't gone to those electric hand driers! It still had those large rolls of brown paper towels, one grade less severe than sandpaper I think, and I unrolled YARDS of the stuff (Christo would have been envious since my shoes matched the color of the paper), hopped into the shower, lathered, rinsed, repeated and jumped back out.
Of course, jumped was also what some of the other guys in the locker room were doing, very much underwhelmed by my improvisational aptitude. I don't think there had been this much hub-bub with a shower since Bobby Ewing. I never let on that anything was out of the ordinary-just me and my Bounty Buddy, the quicker-picker-upper. And yes, since you're asking as my wife did when I told her about this, it definitely works. Just not indefinitely. Sure hope I have a second set of trousers in my desk drawer since I can't shake the feeling I forgot something again this morning. Two Mondays in a row. Some guys have all the luck.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
I all honesty, that's only half the reason why I came back to work. The other half is I knew it wouldn't slip the minds of everyone else to whom I had promised it for Monday. Like so many others I've had the good fortune with whom to work, I've become a prisoner of my own reputation. My own sense of good and bad, in terms of performance, will not allow me to offer other than the best effort, even if the person I'm working with/for is a clueless bozo who couldn't tell a cool breeze from a cold steel rail.
We've had some junky weather the last couple of days mostly as the result of a hurricane moving across the Carolinas (I say that like I know more than traffic and weather together on the eight's, which I don't) and it's not the most pleasant time of the year to have it happen a sit gets dark earlier and the leaves change and then fall off, usually all over the roads where the wind and rain just add to the fun.
Not helping last night was driving behind someone overly cautious-always under the speed limit by about six to ten miles an hour, creating more of a problem on the state highway than any of the weather conditions that precipitated her/his exaggerated sense of caution. Whoever the driver was, they are a huge fan of the dog from the TV show, Family Guy, Brian Griffin. I have no idea why though the vehicle did have Rhode Island plates. Seth McFarlane? I think not.
Oh yeah, and lots of stickers of Massachusetts based sports teams, sometimes combining the two (seemingly starkly different) motifs so that on the back window you had Brian, back to us, upright and peeing on the Yankees logo (how's the off-season hanging, Theo? Fahr'n wir nach Lodz? Denk nicht dran), One-Trick Brian watering a NY Knicks logo and a NY Jets logo as well as, well, you get the picture.
When I noticed in the upper left had corner of the rear window, Brian emptying his bladder on a circle with 'Obama' written in it, my sense of whimsy exited the building along with Elvis. I remember learning about democracy in Mrs. Hilge's class in Saint Peter's--we had a projector with a movie and a speaker and when the lights came on, also learned we had a bad take-up reel as the film was all unspooled on the floor. The movie was 'How Democracy Works' and to this day, fifty (!) years on, I can recall we all sat slack-jawed with amazement at how cool elections were (in the movie) and how important it all was that we always remembered to vote.
So much for the best idea-make it personal. Get down in the dirt and roll with it. I don't recall the movie having a single frame with Brian in it, or that damn monkey pushing a wheelbarrow full of money. But it was a half century or so ago. And when I really get to know you, we'll open up the doors and climb into the dawn. Confess your passion, your secret fear. Prepare to meet the challenge of the new frontier.