Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

FC2

I dropped off the face of the blogging earth back in August……mostly due to being busy at work. As the days rolled into weeks, and then months, I was less and less motivated to swing by with some updates, but I am going to do my best to get re-motivated and post some “happenings” from now on.

In the meantime, I hope you all have a very lovely Christmas, and that Santa is very good to you all……

Happy Birthday USCG – The Eagle has Landed!

Well, happy birthday to our United States Coast Guard – 222 today! Looking great…….thanks for protecting our shores and helping to keep us safe.

 

The USCG Cutter Eagle normally homeports in New London, CT at the USCG Academy, but has been moored at US State Pier 9 on Long Wharf in Newport, RI this weekend. I really wanted to get the chance to visit while it was open to the public, and I was glad to make it down there, despite mid-90s heat and a fair bit of humidity!

Tall Ship Eagle – a beautiful three-masted sailing Barque, and the only square-rigged sailing ship in US government service – acts as a training ship for our USCG Academy cadets.

Apparently Eagle was built in 1936 in Hamburg, Germany as a training ship for German Navy cadets, but after WWII was taken by the US as a war prize!

And what a prize indeed – a beautiful ship.

Happy birthday once again – thanks to all who serve in the USCG!

The Week in Review

Last week was mostly uneventful, no real fun to report, unfortunately.

It started off on a tiresome note – Monday was all about me being Middle Management, dealing with problems at work that everyone decided to send my way (even when I was sitting in my dentist’s chair in the evening, I was being buzzed with messages!), as well as members of staff who decided not to fulfil their job responsibilities, for reasons unknown to me. So I can’t say I enjoyed Monday too much, but I was pleased that this didn’t become a theme for the remainder of the week – things quietened down on those fronts after that!

My living situation continues to plague me.  I had problems with my downstairs neighbors ever since they moved in last October. After many months of complaining, as well as complaints about their kid from other kids’ parents (apparently he liked to terrorize smaller children), they were eventually evicted at the end of May, after a court appearance.

The following day, I re-signed a 6 month lease. I had 4 lovely, peaceful days. Then my newest neighbors moved in. In some ways they’re worse than the crew before them. At least the previous folk were “only” hell during daylight hours. These guys are a nightmare overnight – so far they’ve woken me 15 times (yes, I keep a log!), between the hours of midnight and 3:15am. It’s either really loud talking when they go to bed, overnight partying, arguing, or bedroom fun.

So far I haven’t put in an official complaint – to be honest, I don’t know what good it will do – they know they’re loud and lacking courtesy. If they don’t, they must be stupid, and if they do, they clearly don’t care. So I have lost the will to complain.

But I have decided I’ll be leaving at the end of my current 6 months, which will be the end of January. I think it’s the only way for me to get some peace. I’m tiring of the whole apartment complex really – it’s horribly noisy these days. Folk running up and down stairwells in my building, screaming…..and in the nice weather months, dozens of kids are typically running around until about 10pm each night outside in the grassy area below my window, yelling and screaming. So I’m officially done. It’s time for me to stop procrastinating and look for somewhere to buy.

Other than that, it’s been life as usual. The weekend was uneventful for the most part – it was overcast here in the lovely north east corner of the country, so I took the opportunity to catch up on some work projects. I spent a large amount of time at Starbucks to accomplish this, and managed to get in a bit of fun reading too.

I made some muffins….a highly exciting Sunday morning! Just cornbread muffins, but they’re sweet enough to give me a sugar fix when I need one. I’m going to have to dig out a high fiber/lower sugar recipe, I think, and see what I can come up with. I don’t like to tax my pancreas too much – I’m hoping it’ll thank me in my later years!

Tiddles, meanwhile, watched me cautiously from a place where she’s not allowed. Not that she cares about the rules….obviously.

And here we are again, the start of another week….but at least the first couple of days have gone relatively smoothly for me so far. No complaints there!

Real Men Wear Kilts

We had another lovely weekend – beautiful weather again – lots of sunshine, maybe a tad hotter than I prefer it, but I’m not complaining, it could’ve been much worse.

It was a timely weekend for a jaunt out west. Just western Massachusetts though, I’m not talking Idaho here……It was the annual Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival at Look Park in Florence, MA. Somehow I’ve never heard of this before last weekend, but I’m glad I happened upon the ad for it. I just love Scottish festivals. And although there’s nothing like attending one in Scotland (a regular habit for me when I lived there – I couldn’t get enough of them), this was a lot of fun.

Apparently, in 1753, a group of 50 Ulster Scot families headed west through the mostly unsettled countryside of Massachusetts, trekking for about 100 miles to settle in the rugged, hilly wilderness which they named “Glasgow Lands”, or “New Glasgow”.

The region was later renamed Blandford by a colonial governor, and this was the site of the very first festival which was held back in 1994. It was supposed to just be a one-off event to raise money to restore an old church, but it was so well-received by Scots here in the north east that it has repeated every year since – continuing to benefit charitable organizations and programs annually.

Of course, there were kilts galore.

Gentlemen, if you’re single and want to be a hit with the ladies, I’d strongly recommend investing in one….guaranteed to draw a crowd.

But be sure to get the right shoes….

There was singing, Scottish style….

And music, Scottish style….

And more characters than I could even hope to capture with my camera!

Already I can’t wait until next year’s event!

High As A Kite

This past weekend when I was in Newport, I also got to enjoy their annual Kite Festival.

It was just the perfect day for it – beautifully sunny, and with a wicked ocean wind to whip those kites around.

The festival is free to attend – it’s held at Brenton Point State Park, the most southern tip of the town. The park is literally on the ocean front, so the views out onto the Atlantic are amazing – a great location for the festival. Just about every day during the summer months you’ll find someone there flying their kite, but the festival weekend is something else to witness.

The place was hopping with visitors, and parking was quite an event, but I managed to find somewhere before too long. The lucky ones came by spaceship…..

Some kite clubs attend, and put on cool demonstrations with enormous kites which are always fun to see. And there are usually various events through the day, especially for the kids – kite lessons, the candy drop, face painting, kite ballets, and games, etc.

Kitt Kites is the company whch has organized the event since 2009 now – the gentleman who owns the company spends about $8,000 to host the event, but it’s completely free attend – what a great gesture!

And with the spectacular ocean views along Ocean Drive, and thousands of colorful kites flying high throughout the weekend, who wouldn’t want to spend some time there!

Civil Unrest

Another beautiful weekend, and more importantly, another work-free weekend for me. I could get used to these, but I’d better not!

I was particularly excited to be heading down to Newport, RI again because it was time for Fort Adams to host its Civil War Reenactment Weekend.

Now we all know the ending to that story, but that never stops me getting to any reenactment within reasonable driving distance!

And there’s nothing like watching the Civil War unfold with few-million-dollar yachts in the background on Narragansett Bay! A tad surreal…..

I just love these things, and it was a good excuse to be able to get inside the grounds of the Fort, which aren’t typically open to your average yahoo like me. Plus, I’ve been missing my weekend jaunts and picnics around the Fort – it’s been closed up to the public in recent weeks due to the America’s Cup being held there, and then even after it ended, lots of the boats and gear remained onsite for a while. So the place has been off-limits for a few weekends.

July tends to be festival season down there, with various things going on at the Fort much of the time that prevent you getting in to just walk around.

I always love watching reenactments – the reenactors are always so enthusiastic about their work, and take it very seriously. So cool!

Can’t say I’d enjoy wearing those big uniforms and outfits in 90 degree weather though – I was melting in my sundress, so I can only imagine how insane I’d feel in such heavy gear. And clearly this young lady was feeling the heat as I caught her paddling in the water after the Confederate surrender!

Hope you all had a nice weekend, and hopefully stayed cool somehow.

 

 

Tall Ships & Baseball

Last weekend was heavenly. I had the whole weekend off – no work interference. I headed down to Newport, RI after work on Friday, and enjoyed a lovely day and a half there.

The Tall Ships were in town over the weekend, so I had to get a glimpse of their glamour.

The town was just hopping, as you can imagine. Newport is busy enough in July at the best of times, but throw in some big ships & you’ll find traffic queues that are unimaginable.

The weekend brought some baseball too. The Newport Gulls were playing on their home turf – they’re a summer collegiate team, and tickets are a hefty $5!

It was actually the first time I’d ever been to a Gulls game, and I was so surprised to find the park quite full – really nice!

It must be great for the young kids (I doubt anyone on the team was over 21) who play to see so much support from the town.

Sunday was a beautiful day here in Massachusetts – actually a wee bit too hot for me, but I coped admirably. I met up with a couple of friends for lunch – hadn’t seen them in a few months, so it was lovely to catch up. Especially because I’d had to miss their wedding in Maine at the beginning of June since I had to go to my exam committee meeting in Fort Collins, Colorado. Sadly that was a date fixed in stone, and I had to be there because I head up one of the exam sections so had to present my draft. Such a bummer to miss your friends’ wedding. But it was nice to see them on Sunday and hear all their news.

And did I tell you how great it was not to do any work all weekend?

Sunshine & Fireworks

Well I hope you all had a restful and fun July 4th holiday. It felt weird having a random day off in the middle of the week, but naturally I wasn’t complaining! Things got off to a dreary start here though – the weather’s been lovely in our area, until yesterday of course. Torrential rain was on the menu all morning, I thought it would never stop – I think it constituted the wettest July 4th I’ve ever experienced in all my years here. At least it gave me a chance to catch up on some chores in the morning after the gym.

But miraculously it decided to stop early afternoon, and then it was intermittently sunny. So it was off to the park with a book for some fresh air. I haven’t been doing too much reading for fun these days, so it was really nice to be able to just spend some time buried in a book, and I actually managed to finish it. Hopefully it won’t be to long before I get to start another one.

I braved our local fireworks display too. Good Lord, I have never seen so many cars and people in the town in all the years I’ve lived here. It was mayhem. I drove around for over half an hour trying to park, to no avail. Then as I was trying to regroup, turn around, and head home, I drove along a street that led to an apartment complex, & lo and behold caught some great views of the fireworks by accident. I managed to park along the side of the road in the complex & set up my tripod, so I was very happy that my trip wasn’t wasted.

Then came the hard bit.

Trying to get home in the traffic!

Happy Birthday America!

Hope you all have a wonderful July 4th celebration!

It’s raining cats and dogs here in the Boston Metropolitan region, but there will still be history and celebration to be had today!

 

Goodbye June

Well I hope July is a little less chaotic, that’s all I can say.

June took a nosedive as the 2nd week began. I knew it was going to be busy – I had a work-related trip to Fort Collins, Colorado. My annual exam committee meeting where we put together the certifying exam for the specialty field in which I work. It’s always a 3-day weekend fraught with angst – long days cooped up indoors at the vet school while we debate what should or shouldn’t make it onto the exam. But it was fruitful, as always. And also really nice to once again catch up with the great folk who make up the committee. This is all voluntary work, so you can imagine it tends to attract more benevolent and less egotistical folk! Always a bonus when you’re trying to gather collective opinions.

As if that wasn’t stressful enough, over that same weekend I began to experience some similar symptoms to what I’d experienced last year. The acid feeling. After a few days, I decided to take some Prilosec. Ye Gods…..the cure was worse than the disease!

I took it for 4 days and couldn’t handle the side effects. I was nauseous, headache-ridden, groggy, and ridiculously tired (even when driving – not good). So I stopped, and felt much better the next day. However, a couple of days later, I developed the most horrendous rebound acid imaginable. I’ve heard about this in relation to folk who’ve taken the drug long-term, but didn’t expect it to hit me after 4 days.

Fast forward about 10 days, and I’m now beginning to emerge from the acid bath! Things are much better now, so hopefully that’ll continue. I’ve read that it can take a month in most cases (longer for some) for things to settle down. Meanwhile I’m taking care about what I eat and drink. I’ve been off coffee for 3 weeks now, and I’m mostly restricted to either water or chamomile tea for drinks. And being a staunch coffee drinker, you can imagine the chamomile tea isn’t cutting it for me! I only drink decaf usually, but even that is quite acidic, so needs to be avoided. Mealtimes are highly exciting – oatmeal, wholewheat bread, egg whites, chicken and brown rice, bananas, and melons have become my staples. All of these I eat anyway, but usually I get to have other things too! But not right now in this new phase of acid reflux……

Apart from the burning……we’ve had some nice stormy weather here in between the hot days (that I despise so much). I love stormy weather – not only for the cool relief it brings me, but for the great skies it brings too.

Work has been too busy, lots of deadlines that have left me working evenings and weekends. So I have to get creative when the weather is nice. Last weekend I decided to take the laptop to Starbucks (with my chamomile tea) up in Bedford, north of Boston. I worked for much of the day there, and took an hour or so off before heading home, and meandered around Minuteman Park since the weather was beautiful.

Oh, and on a fun note, I got to play the Queen in a skit we put on at work earlier this month! It was hysterical, a big group of us did it in honor of a fellow vet who was leaving our division after being there for 12 years. To say we made fools of ourselves is an understatement, but she did enjoy it!

I hope June has been less eventful for you! Here’s to a more peaceful July.