Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Monday, August 31, 2009

I Want My HDTV

Last month I bought a new LCD TV for the sun porch. I had put a new cable connection the room, and we looked forward to spending time in that recently remodeled room. I connected the TV to the cable before I had obtained a cable box, and the picture was great. Since the TV is a HD TV, and I wanted HD programming I made arrangements to get a new HD cable box from the Charter branch office in Southbridge. In the meantime, I noticed something peculiar.

When the new TV scanned for available channels it searched for both analog, and digital channels. Come to find out the analog channels were just that, and were prefixed by the letter "A", such as channel 4 being "A4", but there was also another channel 4 as well. A three digit number, with a decimal point and a number after it. That was the digital version of the channel. The HD version. All without a cable box.

Hmmm. Seems the HD version of those channels broadcasting in HD is a available without a box. One just has to sacrifice the things that come with the box like schedules, information about shows, and "On Demand" programming.

Well, I did get the cable box, and installed it. The previously great picture became full of a rapid fire band of "snow" moving from the bottom of the screen to the top, over and over again. I called Charter Cable, and went through the trouble shooting with the tech on the telephone, and nothing solved the problem. He advised me to obtain another box, so I did.

Box number 2 just didn't work at all, so I called again, and more troubleshooting, and then he advised I get another box.

Box number 3 was the same as box number 1. Same snow, same bands of interference. More of the same with Charter, but then, the problem resolved itself on its own.

Very strange.

That is until this past Saturday. After more than one month of having a great picture, we are back to the wide bands of snow.

Last month a technician did come to the house, but he did not change the box out. He did install a signal booster in the basement to amplify the signal to all the TV's in the house. I am not sure if it worked, or not because when he finally did come out the TV was behaving. Could it be the TV itself? I doubt it, because when the TV is plugged directly into the cable, bypassing the cable box, it is fine.

So, this morning I made yet another appointment for the technician to come out and troubleshoot the cable problem on Friday afternoon. Since none of the other TV's in the house have the issue, and the cable to the TV is fine, it has to be the box itself. Just plain logic there.

Now, if Friday's appointment fails to fix the issue, what then? Do I continue to use the TV without the box? Well, I could, and get a great picture, but the convenience of the box would be gone. No more information about what I was watching, no more schedules of shows. It would be 1965 all over again except with a better picture, thinner TV, and stereo sound.

So, what's the big deal? I still have a signal. I have a good picture. That's not the point. The point is there is a problem, and Charter has yet to fix it.

We'll know more come Friday.

When a consumer receives bad service from anywhere, they often have the choice to shop around and find a better vendor. Competition also spurs companies to improve their product, and service. If you are the only game in town, there is little that will cause you to change for the better. A multi year contract insures you will be around for a while.

I wish Verizon Fios was here now. I'd switch in a heartbeat. There are other providers out there available to Sturbridge, such as Direct TV, and the Dish Network, but they are satellite providers, and having had Direct TV in the past, I am not willing to stare at a blank TV screen during a heavy rain storm or when it snows heavily.

I guess I am spoiled in a way. Just like I am spoiled having a car, and not a horse and buggy, or cooking on a stove instead of a fire pit. Progress just does that to you.

The cable contract is coming up for renewal. We are between a rock and a hard place now. We have less than three months to either find a replacement company, or to renew the contract for three to ten years, or have some competition come to town.

I'd only like an option. That's all, just an option to choose something over the current vendor.

I am hoping that option comes to pass over the next couple of months. If not, well there is not much I can do. That's the hard part, being powerless, or in the case of Charter Communications, signal-less.

Get Serious

There's an interesting plan in the works initiated by the Sturbridge Police Department. The plan is one where residents can sign up and obtain a lime green traffic cone with the word "SLOW" printed on it to place near the road in front of their house. According to Sturbridge police, "traffic has a memory", and if the drivers see these lime green traffic cones with the word "SLOW" on them they will slow down, and do so each time they travel the area.


If a speeder pays little heed to a speed limit sign, they will pay even less heed to a lime green traffic cone with the word "SLOW" emblazoned on it.

I agree that traffic does have a memory, though. The memory most have traveling through Sturbridge is you can speed down Route 148 after 6PM , and there will not be a cruiser waiting around the bend, or whip up Route 20, past Walmart to Route 49 with no chance of seeing a cruiser. Those places, plus many others in town, are memorized by folks wanting to get somewhere faster than someone else.

What the green cones will do is give the community a "project" they can participate in, and feel as they are helping to solve the problem, thus quieting the complaints of speeding for a bit.

As I said, I agree that traffic does have a memory. When I was a teenager growing up in Medfield, we knew that if we wanted to drive to the Natick Mall along Route 27 we had to pass through the town of Sherborn. The Sherborn police had, and still has, a reputation for pulling over anyone, for any infraction. Speeding, failure to use a turn signal, a license plate light being out, exhaust too loud, and anything else they felt they could defend in court. Sherborn is a very small town with no industry, so we all thought they needed to stop everyone in order to fill the town coffers. What ever the reason was, we saw the results each time we drove through that town. Many cars pulled over by the police along the roadways each time we passed through.

We developed a "memory" very quickly. We'd scream up Route 27 in Medfield along a portion of the road built like the Nevada Salt Flats. As we closed in on the Sherborn town line we'd down shift, and practically coast the several miles through that town.

We did it every time we entered Sherborn. I still do it as an adult. If the speed limit says "30 MPH" I go 30, not 35, or even 32 MPH. The Sherborn Police have a zero tolerance policy.

About twenty years ago, in the town of Medway, there was a horrible accident involving a child and a tractor trailer on Route 109. As a result the town placed large yellow sighs on the roadway at the eastern end and the western end warning drivers they were entering a "Zero Tolerance Speed Zone", and they had they had the manpower in wait to enforce the warning. The result has been a dramatic drop in speeding in that busy area of shops and businesses along Route 109.

The warning signs, the police presence, and their enforcement of the warning developed a "memory" something that little lime green cones cannot do no matter how well intentioned.

Last fall, Sturbridge's Chief of Police and I met to discuss a plan of action to curb the speeding along Route 148. An increased police presence, and the placement of the radar speed sign was discussed along with a large sign placed at the start of Route 148 near route 20, and another for the southbound traffic a mile or so up the road. The sign would warn drivers that they were about to enter a "Zero Tolerance" speed zone, and the police would enforce that warning in earnest.

I haven't forgotten, but I have become just a little upset reading about this traffic cone idea, and with the exception of the speed radar sign being placed on the road a few times, and an occasional cruiser lying in wait, the promised signs have yet to come. Is the budget really that bad?

I do have a suggestion, one that may cut the the speeding here in town a great deal:

Place large signs at all the major entrances into Sturbridge warning that the entire Town is a "Zero Tolerance Zone", and then enforce the heck out of it. No tolerance. None.

Yes, traffic has a memory, and like teaching a child manners, or a dog a new trick, they will eventually "get it", and it will be retained.

Cones are a decent idea, but at this point we are beyond it. If the town is serious about curtailing speeding, then get serious.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Charter Cable Poll Results

The Poll results are in. The question was, "How satisfied are you with your current cable television service?"

'Nuff said. Time to think about some changes.

The price is high, but service is good. 9%

The service is poor, but the price is right. 0%

Both price and service leave a lot to be desired. 59%

I have had problems with my cable service. 40%

The problems with my cable service have not been solved. 13%

I would like more choice in cable service providers. 54%

I don't have cable service. 4%

I have satelite TV service. 13%

I use "rabbit ears". 0%

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Completely Unscientific Study On the Aging Process

I noticed something on Tuesday. Something I hadn't noticed before, but was well aware of, and of all places to see it, we were at the Moody Blues concert at the Bank of America Pavilion in Boston.

First let me say that the venue was packed, but unlike the Fleetwood Mac concert we attended last winter, there was a higher percentage of folks in the fifty and up age range. At Fleetwood Mac, there were concert goers of all ages, and seemed to be fairly split down the middle. Half way below the fifty year mark, and the rest fifty and above.

Now, I wasn't looking the crowd over and comparing ages, although we both like to people watch a great deal. We just found our seats, then wandered about the venue for awhile, and then sat down and enjoyed the music. Our seats were dead center, about half way up, just behind the VIP section. The four seat VIP box directly in front of us was empty so the view was great.

About a few songs into the first hour of music, during one of the Moody Blues great rollicking songs, I noticed the crowd in front of us was mostly sitting down. Oh, there were a few standing with heir hands over their heads, clapping, and really getting into the music, I even noticed one lighter lit and waving in the air (sigh, ONE lighter), but the large majority of the crowd was just sitting, heads bobbin' in time to the music, and at the end of the song, those sitting, stood to give the band an ovation. It was if "Ralph and His Magic Accordion" had come to play at the home.

Now, you may not think this peculiar, and maybe it's not really peculiar, but rather just a sign. A sign that in one particular age group a lot of folks are getting so freakin' old that they can't stand, clap, or move more than their heads to music that used to move every part of their bodies along with the beat as if they had licked an electrical socket.

(sigh) I'm in that group, but I am not a "Bobble-head". I can still shake my groove thing. (If you shake your head really hard, it will remove the image.)

I noticed the men first of all. Most had far less hair than they once did, and if they had hair, it was cut like their grandfathers hair. This was appropriate since they wore their grandfathers clothes to the concert, too. There were some guys there still with their long hair, jeans, colored t-shirts, but only a few of them moved more than their heads as well. One may look the part, but the body and mind must agree on where you are chronologically to pull it off.

Most of their minds and bodies were still trying to decide.

The women, on the other hand, moved! Yes, even the ones that rode their Larks into the venue were shakin' it to the music. Many looked the part, their body and minds had long ago decided where they were chronologically, and their bodies were in "dance compliance" mode.

Men, well, most men, seem reluctant to relive "the moment". Age has a way of stifling what was once considered fun. Most of the males sat throughout the concert only standing up when their wives pulled them upright, or during a standing "O". Towards the end of the night, the music appeared to have chipped away the banker facade on most of the guys, and they were groovin'. Not as intensely as the girls, but everything is relative. Shifting back and forth from leg to leg may not be a Solid Gold Dancer routine, but it is light years away from being placed on life support while sitting in that chair.

One woman stood out, and I pointed her out to Mary. She was about four rows in front of us, directly in front of that unfilled VIP section. She wore a dark navy skirt with white sailboats, or some such design on it, and a white top. Her hair was cut to a few inches above her shoulders, and over her left shoulder was the strap to her white purse that hung down tightly against her side.

She appeared to be the very "Propah Bostonian".

Then the music started.

She stood up for every song, her arms in the air, hands floating in time to the music, rocking side to side on her little white summer shoes. The music had flipped a switch, and her body and mind responded. It was 1969 on the Isle of Wight all over again. She was not only reliving the moment, but living a new one. Age, and growing older, did not stilt her enthusiasm. She remembered how to have fun, and she was. The guy with her would occasionally stand beside her, but the only movement I could see was that his chest appeared to be rising and falling with his breathing.

So, there you have it, a completely unscientific study on how men and women respond to the aging process when exposed to the same stimulus. Men will think on it, put the possibility of it on their agenda, have a meeting on it, consider the gain/loss ratio, and then, if it is deemed harmless, they may attempt it for a bit, and then review the feeling later.

This is why women live longer than men. Girls just want to have fun. Guys, loosen up.

Judging from our night at the concert Mary is going to live to be about 130 years old, and I'll be right there groovin' beside her.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Guess Who We Spent Our Tuesday Afternoon With?

The Moody Blues performed at the Bank of America Pavillion on the waterfront in Boston yesterday. The video is 39 years old. Yesterday, they sounded as if it were 1970 all over again.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Wind May Be Changing

I have a feeling that Sturbridge is on the cusp of pulling out of the doldrums. I can't explain it, but I am usually right when I get these feelings. It seems that the stars are falling into alignment.

People are willing to take risks, and that is always a good sign. Take for instance Pioneer Brewery located here in Sturbridge. These successful entrepreneurs are willing to make a grand move into the old Basketville building on Main Street across from Cedar Street. It is a bold move. They would be moving from their established digs at the Hyland Orchard on Arnold Road to a new place that will need to be completely retrofitted into a brewery. They aren't alone, either. B.T.'s Smokehouse and the Sturbridge Coffee House are also joining in on the adventure.

These three Sturbridge businesses have seen a lot of success over the past couple of years, and as a result, they are doing what successful businesses do: grow.

This is something one didn't see here in town in recent history. Businesses either maintained the status quo, or faded away. Growth, and expansion was not even on the agenda. Being safe was. If this move goes forward, and all three businesses join in as planned, it will not only add another "must see" destination to the travelers itinerary, but will serve as an example to others here in town.

It will also be a barometer.

Folks are going to watch this new enterprise very closely, and if they see some success happening at that old red building on Main Street, they may stick their toes into the water as well.

This is how momentum is formed.

I wish Pioneer Brewing, B.T.'s Smokehouse, and the Sturbridge Coffee House the very best of luck in this adventure.

On the other side of town there is a bit of a flap over a new business wanting to get started. On what once was the parking lot of the former Rom's Restaurant, a combination gas station, and convenience store would like to set up shop. Some feel we already have enough gas stations here in town, and are against it, and others feel we have enough convenience stores as well. I count seven gas stations in town, and six convenience stores. They are spread over a pretty wide area with none serving the area of town from the start of Route 131 to the Mobil gas station a couple of miles south. There is a Mobil station on Route 20 near the start of Route 131, but one has to be heading east on Route 20 to use it. A convenience store at this location may be, well, a convenience, for those living in the area. It would also take some "in & out" customers from the Shaw's Market as well.

Lot's to consider with this one, but any business that is willing to plunk down the dollars in a new venture here in town has hopefully done it's homework, and they find that this is a good investment. The big question is do we need it?

Well, if it is to be done it has to be done right. It has to be designed right. For decades gas stations were designed to sit back form the street, and face the roadway with their pumps directly in front of the building. As convenience stores were added to them, this design changed little, and parking was not convenient. In the past couple of years I've noticed a change in how gas stations are placed on a plot of land. The main building is set back from the roadway, and no longer faces the road directly, but rather at an angle as high at 90 degrees. The pumps are set back from the roadway as well, and often line two sides of the building. At times there are other separate businesses in the same building with the gas station/convenience store such as a coffee shop. The entrance to the business from the road is curved slightly to make the flow of traffic safer as opposed to the current slide in, slide out to the pumps design, and the exit is equally well thought out.

In Maine, we have frequented a gas station similar to this right off the Maine Turnpike on Route 1 in the Kittery area. It is new, modern, and blends in very well to the landscape. Locally one can see similar designs on Route 9 West a little past Klems in East Brookfield, and on Route 146 just a couple of miles south of the Masspike.

These designs not only are safer, more convenient, but take into consideration the landscape in the area. If this business is approved, I am sure those at the Town Hall will insist on a design similar to those I've mentioned.

A new business wanting to set up shop here in town is a good thing. Whether we actually need a particular business, or not is something for further discussion, but just the idea that one wants to come to town is encouraging.

Yep, I see things heading in the right direction around here. Investments such as these have a way of spawning more growth, and more business as well.

Now, all we have to do is wait and see.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Stop, Look, and Listen

The night before last, I was sitting on our back step and I heard a loud noise coming from inside one of the tall maples at the edge of the lawn. It was a short sound, as if something had fallen and become hung up in the branches on its way down. I stared up at the tree for a short time, and then after seeing nothing, or hearing anything more, I went inside. The following morning I returned to the step with a cup of coffee and looked up into the trees, and saw a strange, large black shape.

It was a bird of some type. A large bird.

I went inside and grabbed the binoculars, and took a peek at what was sitting about 25 feet above the ground in that tree. Sure enough, it was a Turkey Vulture. A very large Turkey Vulture. The noise I had heard the night before must have been this large bird coming in to the branches to roost for the night.

Shortly after I began to study him through my binoculars, he spread his massive wings and glided off the branch, down over the stream and out over my neighbors driveway and then he was gone. He was incredibly huge.

Amazing. I had never seen a Turkey Vulture so close. I knew they were large, but that wingspread surprised me. It had to be at least 6 feet long. I imagine that this bird is one of the largest birds in New England. I can't imagine one larger,with the possible exception of a Great Blue Heron.

From my perch in our backyard, I see all sorts of things I would otherwise miss if I didn't take the time to look. It's then old "stop and smell the roses" thing that one does in order to not let the world whirl past them. I've seemed to have always done it, and I am sure it annoys the bejeepers out of Mary at times since I report almost everything I see in the yard to her. She nods, and smiles as she listens to me ramble on about a herd of Chipmunks roaming the gardens, or more recently, the return of the Humming Birds to our back yard.

The Humming Birds used to come to the Fuscia that we had hanging outside the kitchen window, but this year that spot was relegated to yellow petunia. I did hang a humming bird feeder in the yard a couple of months ago, but never saw one stop 'n sip. I got a bit lazy, and didn't change the sugary liquid in the feeder, so I am sure, after weeks in the sun, it wasn't too pleasant to sip. About two weeks ago, I got off my butt, and washed out the feeder, added new solution, and hung it up in the garden from the metal Shepard's crook. Within a very short time these little acrobats came out of the woodwork and and began feeding from the newly cleaned feeder.

They are amazing. I would report to Mary each day how many I had seen, where they fed. Sometimes they would stop by the red Impatiens hanging from the sun porch, other times they would hit the Bee Balm. It's true, they are attracted to the color red, and everything else, as good as it may be, is ignored. At times, they would come towards me, and hover in mid air about five feet from my face and just stare at me.

In the course of a day we had one of the largest birds in our yard to the very smallest, and a host of other feathered fliers of different sizes throughout the day.

Man. I got to get a hobby.

As I mentioned above, I take time to smell the roses, always have, even as a kid. Learn a lot that way, and that habit of observing things from afar has come in handy in other aspects of my life. It's more than useful in my work, and for just plain stalking folks, it's great.

So, here is a bit of unasked for advise for a Friday morning, take a couple of minutes each day and just look. Look at anything, listen for anything from your back steps. Just stare off to the point where your spouse is snapping their fingers in front of your eyes to break your trance. Do this a little each day. Set aside a few minutes each day to completely let the day go from your shoulders, and decompress, and stop, look, and listen to the world around you.

You will never know how much you have been missing until you stop and see for yourself.

Stupids Back

Earlier this summer I was thinking that it has been many months since I've written on anything I regarded as stupid happening in our area. For awhile there we were inundated with stupidity, and then it seems everything just fell into place. People found their niche, and the world moved on.

Then I read of the financial difficulties the Registry of Motor Vehicles were having in light of the recent budget cuts from the Commonwealth., but more importantly, I read of the RMV's plan to save some money by closing RMV offices and relocating them to places difficult to access.

The local example is the closing of the Southbridge RMV office in the Big Bunny Plaza in Southbridge, and moving it to the empty Tourist Information Center at the East Bound travel Plaza on the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Now, I can see saving a buck, and if a location is offered without cost, then it is worth investigating, but so many other things need to be considered before such a move can be made. I won't beleaguer you with a repeat of all that has been written about this move, but I do want to go on record as one that deems the move to be poorly thought out, poorly planned, and without an adequate plan for the immediate future.

There are only two ways to access this RMV office, one being from the east bound side of the Turnpike, which is pretty cut and dry, and simple. It's the leaving that is a problem. Once one is done with their business, they must then continue east on the pike till Exit 10 in Auburn, and then either turn around and head west, or take Route 20 back home.

The other way to access the RMV is to take Route 20 into Charlton and to turn into the employees parking lot in the rear of the plaza, and then walk the very long distance to the RMV. Yes, rain and snow, and ice will make this trek an unpleasant one, but what is even worse is entering , and leaving the parking lot and getting back onto Route 20.

Oh, I know that the employee parking lot is used daily by others, and not much has happened to them, well, they are experienced in using it. They know how to access it, they do it daily, and their numbers are small compared to volume of inexperienced folks that will end up using it to access the RMV.

No plans for a traffic light here. They say that would take months of study, and lots of money. Cripes. The heck with a study, it is dangerous, just go with that and stick some lights up, and paint some turning lanes on the roadway like in front of WalMart on Route 20.

There will be no change in the roadway to make turning lanes for those heading east on Route 20, or west so they can make a safe turn without a tractor trailer riding up on their backside. All there is is a bunch of signs indicating that there is an RMV somewhere beyond that parking lot, and a lighted sign facing each direction telling motorists the same thing.

That's it.

The Registry of Motor Vehicles, the organization that enforces the motor vehicle laws, suspends our licenses for improper use of a vehicle, stresses safety, and driving defensively, has put all that aside, and re-located the Southbridge office to a place where one must stop in the high speed lane on Route 20, wait for a break in the oncoming westbound traffic, and then shoot across the roadway into the parking lot. It is just as dangerous for folks leaving the parking lot and wanting to head east on Route 20.

They should post a permanent State Police Accident Reconstruction Team at that spot, and at least spend the money on a building a helicopter pad at the entrance for Medflight helicopters.

What is worse is that the head of the RMV, Rachel Kapriellian has decided to do this move without allowing for safe access. It appears as if she has done it to save a buck, please the Governor, and to keep her job.

Two out of three ain't bad, but I doubt she will have the same job this time next year.

So, getting back to things that are stupid, poorly planned, and dangerous, I guess this would be Numero Uno this year. When the first severe motor vehicle accident occurs at this location I will be curious to see how the RMV, and the Governor responds.

The thing is, they have both responded before the fact, and support the move entirely. Let's see what the lawyers do with that after the fact.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Oh, What A Night..."

Every once in a while it is good to leave the country, and take in a bit of the city. We did that this past weekend. It was a great time. Here in Sturbridge we have all the country we need, and love, but every so often I just get a hankerin' to do something in the city. I don't do it often enough, but that will change.

Last winter Mary surprised me with tickets to see the Broadway musical, "Jersey Boys". I hadn't been to a musical in Boston since Fiddler on the Roof many years ago, so this was a great surprise.
"Jersey Boys" is story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Behind the scenes to their music there was a lot going on, and the music was excellent.

When we first told some of the family we were going they told us they planned to as well. The Four Seasons music has a way of attracting folks, and the show not only has had great reviews, but won the 2006 Tony Award for Best Musical as well, so it's no wonder that everyone wanted in.

We drove in to Boston, parked centrally under the Common, and met up with Mary's two sisters and their husbands at a great Italian Restaurant, "Teatro"s on the Common. The food was excellent, and once they knew we were going to a show, they made sure our service was ramped so we would not be late.

After dinner, we walked down Tremont Street to the Shubert Theater, and enjoyed the show. It was great, and at the end, the cast received a standing ovation from the audience. Well deserved.

After the show, we wandered back up Tremont to Charles Street, and walked over to Park Plaza to a restaurant recommended by some folks I work with for their incredible deserts. I won't go into detail here, because I would be unable to accurately describe just how good the desserts were, but I do recommend the place, "Finales". We waited about twenty minutes for a table, but it was well worth it.

Walking about the Public Garden before dinner, and taking in all the activity on Boylston Street on the way to the restaurant were all side benefits to a great day in the city. We returned home sometime around one in the morning, and needless to say, we slept in the following morning.

Every so often it is a good thing to leave ones comfort zone, and explore the city. One not only begins to appreciate the city more, but appreciate the differences between here and there as well. This past weekend, we had some great company, awesome food, and some fantastic music that I still can't get out of my head.

We gotta do this again real soon.

Friday, August 7, 2009

HOGS heed call to rally

From the Worcester Telegram & Gazette

STURBRIDGE — Mike M. Akana (left) and Elaine I. Akana, both of Thompson Ct., look at the schedule book for the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) Northeast State Rally Tour after arriving at the Sturbridge Host Hotel. The rally, which is based at the Sturbridge Host Hotel, will run through tomorrow. About 1,200 people are expected to attend the rally.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What Were We Talking About?

I can't remember crap. I have a great long term memory, but more recent events, well, that is a different story. No, it's not an age related thing, I've always been like this. Not sure why. Case in point is our planting of a couple of dozen perennials in the new "Perennial Garden" (original name we came up with), and with the exception of a few I've known for many years (see long term memory), I can't remember what the heck we've planted.

Yes, I did keep the little stakes with the plants name on them, and stuck them in the ground around the plants, but I'll be darned if I can think of their names without cheating, and going for the stake.

I am amazed at people that can walk along their gardens and point out various plants and not only speak their common name, but ramble off their Latin scientific name as well.

I hate those people.

No, not really. I don't hate anyone. I do want to slap them though.

"Now, over here is the Red Berried Thumbsucker, otherwise known as Redus Berrium Wrinkledthumbcus."

I want to grab them and give them a noogie-ius right on their head.

It's a small thing, this not remembering squat. I've dealt with it since I was a kid. I'm sure it is a form of ADD. I guess it's not such a big deal. I can find my way home after work (Mary gave me a GPS), and I know who my wife is (she reminds me all the time), so not remembering a plants name is a minor thing.

"Rugosa Rosa". Now that's a name that I can remember. It is what we refer to as a Cape Cod Rose. Why can I remember that particular name? I've no idea, but I do.

Some say that we shift things in order of importance in our heads, especially when our heads are stuffed to the brim with all sorts of flotsam like mine is. Remembering plant names, in my case, just isn't a priority apparently, and more important things are. Paying the mortgage on time, or the phone bill is more toward the top of the list. Running errands, and picking up things we are almost out of, is more important. Remembering which days I'm working this week is another thing close to the top of the remembering list.

Everyday chores like taking out the trash, emptying the litter box, making coffee for the morning, taking my clothes out of the dryer are on that list.


I forgot to get the clothes out the dryer.

Gotta run. I forgot where I was going with this anyway.

Monday, August 3, 2009

And Some Are Behind The Sun

This whole Social networking thing has grabbed the world by the ear. I took the plunge on Facebook last fall, and immediately found my 75 year old Dad on it.

Go figure.

Since that time I have connected with so many old friends that I have not seen in so many years. Some, I have not heard from since I graduated in 1972. I am glad they are well, and doing fine. So many flashes of memories come over me when I see a name from long ago. Good memories.

There is a page on the Facebook site dedicated to all those from my high school that have gone on to their final class. I visited it when it first was posted, and was saddened to see so many faces that I knew well. They are all gone. Their time on this orb spent, and gone off to more "graduate" work.

Each time I visit the page I find that someone has added more names, and photos. For a small town, and only a 40 year span, there are so many that died so young.

Say what you will about social networking, but it is things like this memorial page that makes it all worthwhile. To personally acknowledge the passing of an old friend that you would not have heard of is something one rarely had a chance to do. I know, social networking is for the living, but the living are the ones that posted the memorial for the rest of us lucky enough to have survived this long, and it offers a chance to reflect, remember, and smile.

In a couple of weeks there will be a multi class reunion of many of the high school classes from my old school. Organized on Facebook, the response has been incredible. In fact, I heard today that they are over capacity. I helped organize the last one about seven years ago. It was a great success, and this one will be even better.

So, why do class reunions attract so many from our past to a common place, miles, and miles from home? Schedules are rescheduled, plans are changed, flights booked, and hotel room reserved all for the purpose of coming together with faces most have not seen in decades. There is a reason, and I believe it is to let go of the issues of the present, and for just a few hours, go back to that time when we were loosing our innocence. When life was being experienced fully for the first time. First loves, best friendships, Saturday night dances, and just hanging out with friends on a Sunday. A simple time. No real constraints, or ones that we bothered to observe, just a freedom around us that possibly would not be felt again for many, many years.

That feeling is enough to draw people from their lifes to a round table for eight at the Legion Hall for four or five hours. I'm not sure whether it is sentimentality, or plain nostalgia, but I tend to think it is far more, a deeper reason.

The remarkable thing is once we are there, and are amazed at seeing so many familiar faces, we almost immediately shift to the present again, and share stories of our life, our partner, our children, and their children. We'll tell of our adventures over the years, share our losses, and our loves all to people that we have not seen for so many years. We pick up conversations where they left off the summer before we went on to school, were married, or joined the service, and share the additional chapters of our lifes as if there had been no gap in time.

In a way, it is a therapy, this sharing of ourselves, and our lives, and to listen to others share theirs. One seldom leaves an event like a class reunion without a silent smile, and a feeling of being able to finally close the circle.

So many helped to mold us into who we are today. We are where we are today as a result of some words, some nudge, some advice, some dream felt long ago from those that will sit at that table for eight, and from the others that are now "behind the sun".

Click here for "When We Were The New Boys" by Rod Stewart. Very appropriate for a class reunion.