Monday, July 27, 2009

So You Had A Bad Day

I admit, I like the song, "So You Had A Bad Day", but I am crying, "Uncle!" Enough already.

For several months things have been tough not being able to find renters for our 3 vacancies and cleaning out the mess that was left behind by them. The one who left it the neatest, the new tenant said there were cobwebs and paint chips that she wanted picked up. I know my eyes aren't what they used to be, but it took a lot of hunting to find the 3 one quarter inch paint chips she saw. Well, at least we know she will be neat. One vacancy filled, two to go.

On Saturday I picked up our food from Angel Food and then took it to the apartment instead of wasting time going home. I unloaded the perishables and put them in the refrigerator so I could pick up paint chips and vacuum cobwebs, etc. while waiting for another prospective tenant for upstairs who never showed up (probably just as well).

After a couple of hours, I packed up the groceries back in the boxes and ran to the upstairs apartment for something. As soon as I opened the door, there was a terrible stench. I cautiously searched for the cause, and was very sad to find a dead cat. He must have gotten into an open window and not knew how to get out. That's all we can think of.

At that point I tried to call George but he was working driving the tubers after they have their relaxing ride down the Farmington River. I left a message about the dilemma and basically told him, "sorry, I'm not dealing with this."

So, I loaded my groceries in the car and headed home. My goal this day was to make it to Stanclift Cove for the one day a year that they let residents come in without having to buy a sticker. When the kids were young we used to go all the time. I wanted to go one time for old times sake, even if I had to go alone. The window of opportunity that it was open was 2-5pm. It was 1pm.

Well, as I drove home, I heard this noise and felt there was something wrong with the car. I passed the entrance to the Cove that I had hoped to be returning to after unpacking the groceries. Well, after I got over the reservoir, I pulled over and saw that my front tire was flat. Okay, I tried to call George again. Phone still off.

So, I called the auto club. They said it would be 40 minutes. This was a hot and humid day and I was worried about my groceries. Thank God for cell phones. I then called my Dad and asked if he could come and pick up my perishable groceries and put them in my fridge (I was less than 5 miles from home). I was planning on grabbing lunch at home, so I dug into the groceries and an orange and bagel never tasted so good.

The food cavalry quickly arrived and saved the food. Pretty soon after that the other cavalry arrived to put the donut on my car. They examined the tire and the comedian remarked, "Oh, here's your problem, it's flat." ha ha. They did not see a nail or anything. I remembered a few months ago when we had a tire with a bad valve stem and it actually costs less than $5. to fix. Perhaps I would be that lucky again.

They hemmed and hawed about the condition of the donut and said the short ride home should be okay and it was. When I got home, I first hugged my cat. Now the next decision, do I chance driving it to BJ's in Torrington where they could fix the tire and put it on or do I put the tire in the truck and have them repair it and then George would have to change the tire. I knew he had to get rid of the cat and now this too and we were supposed to go out in the evening. I tried to call him again and well, you know.

So, I decided to take the tire in the truck. When I got there, it was indeed a crack in the stem, however, they could not repair it. When they put air in the tire, it all bubbled up. Then when they tried to sell me a tire, I was not sure if I should spend that much money. So, again called my husband and this time got through--he hadn't listened to his messages. He was disappointed that I hadn't driven with the donut but gave the okay to buy the new tire.

By now it's after 3pm and I realize the trip to the Cove isn't going to happen. So, I treated myself to a chocolate ice cream cone at Carvel's before going home. When George got home (after taking care of the cat), of course he had difficulty taking off the tire. With the help of our neighbor (who knows just how to kick a tire to loosen it), he was able to change it. And it's thanks to that same wonderful neighbor that I am able to type this. (Last week both our laptops died and our repair person is on vacation). Our neighbor lent us his extra--what a lifesaver. I felt so out of touch with everyone not having a computer and I realized just how many times I refer to it for information.

We did make it out that evening with some friends to Red Riding Hood's in Southwick for dinner and music and good company. Poor George was pretty tired, though.

Well, I happened to have today off and was going to do a couple of errands and then have a nice day at home. The morning started okay, errands and lunch with parents and son went well. I had to get copies of keys made for the apartment and of course, the first set didn't work. I didn't have time to have them fix it at that time because I had to rush home to get the other vehicle and go to the landfill.

I had to buy a second vehicle renewal sticker for the truck at the landfill. Well, when the woman told me to pull over to pay and get the sticker, the truck would not start again. After a few minutes (that seemed like minutes longer than 60 seconds), they sent someone to help. He helped to improve the battery connection and I proceeded to unload the trash without turning off the truck. Then I went back to the hardware store to get keys redone. I know, I know, why did I shut off the truck?

Well, wouldn't start and no matter how hard I tried to twist and turn the connection, it wouldn't start. As I'm looking under the hood, a mouse starts running around the edges. I don't know if he had ridden with me or just got on board and I don't know where he went!

I thought being at a hardware store, with all these handymen going in and out that someone would help me--not! Someone who worked there tried a little, but he couldn't. So, I called George and he was heading that way anyway in about 1/2 hour.

I decided to walk to the apartment and try the keys. It wasn't far at all. The keys didn't work and I walked back. The hot day was turning gray and it started sprinkling on my way back, but it felt good. Then it started to thunder.

I went into the hardware store and told them the keys did not work again. They started with a fresh set. I said, I hoped the 3rd time was the charm and then went to sit in the truck and wait for George in the thunder and light rain.

When he got there, he jumped started it and we went back to the apartment and the keys worked! Not only that George had finally gotten the right part and was able to fix the sprayer faucet for the sink. I was so glad to get home after that.

Well, now we only have to worry about the computer analysis--he already warned me that he'll probably be recommending that we buy another one. :( Our Honda Odyssey is also dead--needs a transmission and brakes--at over $3,000. that's not going to happen. That car (which I loved) has been a real lemon. Eventually we'll have to start the dreaded used car search.

So, tomorrow's another day. I want to be singing, "So You Had A GREAT Day"--trouble is with some of the gray clouds (dead car, broken computers, vacant apartments), it's going to take more than one good day to make our skies blue again. All you can do is get up each morning and plug along.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Return to Red Riding Hood's Basket, Southwick, MA

Once again last night I went to Red Riding Hood's Basket in Southwick, MA. It was a last minute, spur of the moment date. How many times have you said to someone that you should get together for coffee or lunch? How many times do you do it? I don't know about you, but life is too busy and I rarely do it. Things just fell into place last night as I arranged to meet my friend.

I can never say enough nice words about Red Riding Hood's Basket. The atmosphere is so unlike any other coffee shop or luncheon place that I've been too. There are unique antiques perfectly placed throughout. Don't forget to check out the creepy wolf in the window hiding near Red Riding Hood. The ceiling is tin, there are tiny bouquets of flowers or plants on every table. If you don't want to sit at a table, you can go to the little nook area with a couple of couches and an artificial fireplace and a loaded book shelf and coffee table--home away from home. I do believe they have computer access too. There is a little corner with books and a desk for kids.

My friend enjoyed looking at every detail as I gave her the tour before we had dinner. She lives so close to this place but had never been--such a loss. She will be back.

All the food is freshly made on the premises. My friend had the shepherd's pie--a big topping of mashed potatoes with ground beef, corn and green beans. I had the homemade macaroni and cheese made with cheddar cheese and bread crumb toppings--delicious. Both were served with a wonderful salad of greens, oranges, sunflower seeds, raisins and I'm not sure what else, but with the dressing, it was a symphony of flavors that we both loved.

There are coffees, teas, lattes, smoothies and newly added, she sells ice cream. But don't forget all the wonderful homemade desserts. If you go in the morning, you can have a pastry or treat yourself to a breakfast casserole or french toast. The food is wonderful.

Honestly, the part I like best about Red Riding Hood's Basket that keeps making me choose it for a meeting place for friends (when I finally get to do it) is the atmosphere. My friend and I stayed for nearly 3 hours. No one hoovers over and makes you feel like you should leave (though not every seat was taken, so we did not feel guilty). It is a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere to just sit and talk. If I lived closer, I would be there now with my laptop or morning paper having coffee and breakfast. It would be a ritual. My husband agrees. (Maybe we'll just have to move closer.)

Whenever we meet friends there, we just linger and linger. Last night too there was a woman who sang and played the guitar for us. They have entertainment every Friday night and some Saturdays. We are going next Saturday night to see a friend perform.

There is a newly opened bike trail that runs along side of Red Riding Hood's Basket. This makes it a perfect place to stop for a reward after a long ride or walk.

If this seems like one big advertisement for Red Riding Hood's Basket, it is. I can't believe that a place like this isn't thriving. I know the economy is hurting everyone but this is the kind of place to sit back, relax and you can choose to talk about politics or the world issues with a friend or you can get away from all that and just kick back. I hope you will find the time to reward yourself and take a friend.

Red Riding Hood's Basket is on Congamond Road in Southwick, MA. It is close to Congamond Lakes. It is open seven days a week, Sunday through Tuesday 8am-5pm and Wednesday though Friday they are open until 8am or 9pm if the entertainment is still going.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

4th of July Barkhamsted Style: Star Band

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Sure enough, as I feared, these 4th of July posts aren't in perfect order. This is the Star Band, you will have to read the next 8 more posts to get the full account of the Barkhamsted 4th of July Parade 2009 and to find out what the Star Band is--don't worry the posts are short. Reminder: you can click on the pictures to enlarge them and then use the backspace to return. Hope you enjoy.

4th of July Barkhamsted Style

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Every year our town has it's annual 4th of July parade. We have called Barkhamsted home now for 24 years. I love so much about this beautiful town and I have always meant to devote a blog to it, but for now this is just about our 4th of July parade.

The parade starts out with two people carrying the town banner. It brings back fond memories of the times that each of our kids had the opportunity to do this. They have marched in several of the parades through the years as scouts or in other capacities. For that matter, I guess my husband and I have too.

For a town of over 3,000 people, we get a pretty good turnout. Sure this isn't a huge parade but it has the delicious flavor of Hometown, USA--personal, patriotic and it has a unique quality all it's own to be revealed later--if I get these postings in the correct order. I have a hard time when I have to do multiple postings of the same topic. I also apologize for some of the photos. I was having a horrible time with my camera taking the picture when I wanted it to instead of when the camera decided to.

In this post the last picture is of the Barkhamsted Land Trust's own musical group--the Travlin' Trout Troubadours with our friend, Barbara Dileo as lead singer.They sang a nice repertoire of the type of old songs that make you want to sing along (but we'll leave that to the more talented).

Miscellaneous 4th of July pictures




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At the end of the parade, besides being treated to a couple of songs by the Star Band, there are a couple of short speeches and prayers. Townspeople gather round. As the festivities end, it should be just the beginning of a day to remember the birth of our wonderful nation and what a privilege it is for us to live here--not just Barkhamsted, but America. Happy birthday, America!

4th of July parade observers

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For a town of under 4,000, we get a pretty good turn out. Here is just a sampling of some of the observers.

Other 4th of July Marchers

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Among other marchers in the parade were included town officials, politicians, scouts, churches, Lions' club, kids on bikes or cars and even a float to advertise the new hairdresser in town.

4th of July--Fire trucks and more fire trucks

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What parade isn't complete without fire truck and ambulances. They announced the coming of the parade a good ten minutes before it reached us.

The Star Band

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This is the one of the special things that makes the Barkhamsted Parade unique--the Star Band. Formed many years ago by Will Minton, this hodgepodge of performers meet only once a year to play in this parade. They are not the same people every year, though many return year after year, and new ones come. New comers are always welcome. The invitation is for anyone from anywhere who wants to play an instrument and march in the parade. The uniform is blue jeans and a white or red top. They have one rehearsal the night before. This year they had an all time high of 71 performers. All are obviously qualified musicians in their own right because we have never caught a sour note. This is a wonderful tradition that should live on forever.

Star Band

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At the end of the parade, everyone gathers at the school and the Star Band plays a few more selections--of course including our National Anthem. The man standing in front of the banner is Will Minton, founder of the star band.

Caution: This Post Picture contains a spoiler

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That's the end of the "tale" of the 4th of July 2009--sorry! Couldn't resist.