Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lost...and found

Lately, I lose things. Or, I should say, I misplace things. All the time. One moment, an item is there, the next, gone.

In most cases, however, they come back to me. It's weird.

It used to be that I would misplace something, get horribly upset, tear my place apart, and just obsess about the "lost" object. Until they started to reappear. Sometimes a few minutes later, sometimes weeks later.

I thought I had lost a very expensive and must loved necklace. I looked everywhere, under the bed, in drawers, in the trash. Everywhere. Couldn't find it. I had gone as far as contacting the jeweler and commissioning her to make a new necklace for me. And, suddenly, I found the necklace. Under the bed, where I had looked a million times before.

I was thrilled. And, this moment is when I started the current cycle of "lost and found." I've misplaced my main set of keys many times. It's a good thing I always carry a second set of keys; they come in handy while the main set is vacationing in some favorite key resort. The last time I thought I lost my keys, I discovered I had left them at a hotel pool area when visiting my friend B. Called the hotel the next day and yes...got them back.

Then I lost my glasses...both pairs. The main pair that I use to read with and the older, backup pair. The first pair were discovered in my friend's car after we went hiking (took her a day to find them, tucked away beneath the seat). Last night, I just found the backup pair. Somehow, they had ended up in a carry-on bag that I need for an upcoming trip.

And gloves...I keep misplacing them or dropping them, but they eventually turn up. There are af ew pairs of earrings that have recently gone AWOL. I'm waiting for them to reappear any day now...as these things seem to do lately.

These are just a few examples of my adventures in lost and found. I no longer fret or have anxiety attacks when something disappears. More than likely, it will show up again when it's good and ready to do so. It's very odd.

Except socks...I still lose them, one at a time. They don't ever seem to return.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A trip up Mt. Monadnock, NH.

Sunshine on the mountain
Originally uploaded by greendragon50
My dear friends, A&M are avid hikers. They decided to organize a "beginner's hike" -- my friend B and I decided to go along.

Now, I am not much of an athlete. Sure, I go out for walks on the trails at work during lunch time, but it's not what I'd call hiking. My friend B has been hiking up Mt. Wachusett on a regular basis for about a month so she had some conditioning built up. I was a little apprehensive that I wouldn't be able to keep up, but A&M were very supportive, so I set aside my fears and looked forward to the day.

The night before it rained quite hard, but the weather for the next day was supposed to be quite nice. And for a change, the weather report was totally correct. The morning was sunny and seasonal. Everyone arrived at my place on time. We packed up and headed out.

Even at the base of the mountain, the weather was already cooler than when we left home. And the parking lot was crowded. Mt. Monadnock is one of the most popular places for a day hike in the area. It's close to Boston and it's tall enough (and rocky enough!) to be a challenge.

After parking, we gathered our gear, stopped off at the pit toilets (not horribly unpleasant but not pleasant either. Unfortunately, the regular toilets were closed for the season), hoisted our packs and headed up the mountain. After a short walk, we came to the first boulder field...typical New England boulders. The hiking poles came in handy here. Once we hit the boulder fields, the "hike" consisted mostly of climbing, leaping, crawling, and clambering over rocks. An endless field of them. M kept assuring us that there were flat spots where the walking would be easier...I dunno...I don't think we came across many of those.

Our intrepid Hiking Leaders were willing to go slow, so, in general, I (the mountain snail, not mountain goat) was able to keep up. The very steep parts were a bit hard for me, but with several rest stops, I made it up without lagging behind badly.

Because of the rain, there was a bit of water on the trail. Miniature water falls and some "brooklets" trickling down. The sound of water running was enchanting. Rocks and leaves were slippery at times, but nothing that caused much of a problem. As we headed up, the views became more and more amazing. The sun was streaming down through the clouds, making the view look like something out of those Hollywood biblical period movies.

Because of the number of people on the trail, I didn't expect to see any wildlife. But, we did catch a glimpse of a red fox, as it scampered through the trees. Just a quick flash of orange-red fur and the distinct white tip of the tail. And then a lovely golden-brown chipmunk made its presence known briefly before disappearing into the brush.

As we moved above the tree line, we stopped to don warmer clothes -- hats, gloves, and windproof shells. We made it a little past the false summit and paused to eat. We debated whether we would have time to make it to the summit. A&M were eyeing it eagerly...I know they could have made it up in no time. B and I looked at each other and decided we had gone far enough. We still had to get down and the sun would be setting early. And I suspected that going down, while easier, would not be a fast trip.

After some discussion, we decided to head down and not summit. After all, the mountain isn't going anywhere and we could always come back when the days were longer.

The first stretch of rocks was quite steep and sort of terrified me. I had visions of just rolling all the way down the hill. I discovered that sliding down steep, slippery rocks on your butt wasn't as bad as I thought. In some places, it was the only way to go.

Down, down we went. It seemed like the boulder fields would never end...but still, the views were wonderful, and I was hiking with very dear friends, so what could be more wonderful? By the end, though, this little mountain snail was tired. I tried to be careful, but I was starting to slip and trip. But, the sun was setting and we had to push on.

Finally, as darkness was starting to settle in, we reached the trail head. I made it!!! I went up a mountain and back down. A good 5 miles round trip. I felt like I had used every muscle in my body and it felt good!

By the time I arrived home, I was absolutely exhausted...the kind of exhausted one feels after spending all day outside. I took a hot bath in the hope that it would reduce the soreness I was sure to develop and treated myself to a big bowl of pasta and cheese. Yum!

All in all, a fine day on the mountain. I'm hoping that by the end of the week, I'll be able to walk down the stairs without feeling the agony of sore muscles :-)

But, it was worth it.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

New Switch Plates!

SoWa switchplates!
Originally uploaded by greendragon50
I'm about 3/4 of the way towards replacing all my mundane switch plates with decorative ones. Every time I go to a crafts show, open studio, or arts show, I keep my eyes open for interesting switch plates.

Last month, I went to the South End Open Market in Boston and discovered Theresita Eltz (www.theresitadesign.etsy.com). Theresita paints all types of ceramics -- bowls, plates, and my favorite, switch plates!

She didn't have switch plates at the market, but I selected colors and a pattern from her portfolio and placed my order. I just received these in the mail and I'm thrilled. The picture doesn't really do them justice. The colors are vibrant and the application of the paint gives them a very nice texture.

I will definitely be ordering more products from Theresita. Her work is fantastic!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day 2008

What a day. Here in the Northeast, the weather is perfect. Sunny, warm with just a hint of autumn chill. You couldn't ask for a better day for an election.

I arrived at the polling place shortly before they opened. I had to park on the lawn as the parking lot at the Municipal Center was completely full. I find the line for my precinct ...holey moley...it's a very, very long line. As I head off to the end of the line, I see one of my neighbors, who assures me that I'm following the correct line for Precinct 3.

As I'm waiting on line, more and more people are arriving. Yes, people *are* turning out in droves and this is a good thing. Americans who are born here often take the right to vote for granted. But not this year. And it feels good. For once, people really, really care about the election. It's amazing and just fantastic.

Once the polls open, the lines move surprisingly fast. In about 10 minutes, I'm checking in and receiving my ballot. The room is full of small voting booths (we use paper ballots...the "color-in-the-circle" type). I head towards the closest open booth and grab the pen. Some idiot forgot to put the cap back on but no harm done. The pen hadn't dried up yet.

I quickly go through the items. Someone told me that the Presidential candidates are listed alphabetically so I'm careful to check for my candidate. There he is! OK...I fly through the rest of the ballot. A lot of the positions list a single candidate for my county...easy. The ballot questions are easy as well. I did hesitate over the question regarding banning dog racing. I'm not 100% sure that the animals are really abused and I feel bad about people having to lose their jobs if this question passes. I think over the discussions I had with co-workers the other day, weigh the pros and cons and finally come to a decision.

I hand in my ballot and head out into the sun. The traffic to get out is a mess, but I don't mind. It feels good to feel election energy! There's a young boy in a school bus yelling out the window, "Obama, Obama, you have to vote for Obama!" I love that someone who isn't able to vote yet is so enthusiastic.

I luck out with the traffic. There's a sudden gap and I'm able to turn around and get onto the road. Off to work now, feeling good that I've done my civic duty. I am a good American citizen today! Tonight, I'll be gathering with my good friends to watch the results. I am hopeful that my candidate will win, but, I'm not willing to be overconfident yet.

And for once, America doesn't look like a country full of apathetic, lazy slobs. Today, we are a nation of engerized, involved people. If only we would stay that way.

Monday, November 3, 2008

iPhone gets free WiFi

AT&T has finally declared free WiFi hotspots for iPhone users. For some odd reason, AT&T went back and forth on this. Announcing it, then pulling the announcement and then back again. But now it's real. I received a text message the other day explaining how to access the free service. So, while I was in Starbucks the other day, I gave it a whirl. Yup, it works. A bit of an awkward process though. You have to connect to the service, start Safari, and when prompted to do so, enter your 10-digit phone number. After submitting your number, you wait for a text message that gives you a link that's good for 24 hours. Does seem a bit round-about. But it works.

I was with a friend of mine from the UK and the requirement to enter a 10-digit number stopped him in his tracks. He doesn't HAVE a 10-digit number. Seems unfair to have that requirement. Shouldn't service allow anyone with any type of number to get on?

Free WiFi hotspots are found in Starbucks, McDonalds, Airports, Barnes & Noble. And other places.

Oddly enough, it seems like I was just able to connect to the free WiFi service from my office. I didn't think it would be possible...unless I just happened to find a different Free Public WiFi connection? I'm curious to see exactly where I can use this...WiFi is soooo much faster than the old EDGE network.