All about the Boy

In the process of trying to finish a quilt for a baby shower this weekend, I have neglected my blog. The Boy has told me he wants to read my latest post, but “alas!” said I, “it’s been weeks.”

The finished quilt. See? I really did make one.

The finished quilt. See? I really did make one.

He had a suggestion for my next post: To write about the things we’ve done the past few weekends and next weekend.

It’s all about him.

“Fine,” said I, “I will.”

“Thanks, Mom,” said he. And then I sent him to brush his teeth because his breath was putrid.

Brace yourselves. It’s all about trains and stuff. As if you didn’t know.

Since I’m a linear thinker, I suppose I’ll start at the beginning. Not the way back beginning, as in “he was born.” The more recent beginning as in the first event that he mentioned in the three consecutive weekends of events, which is actually more like six consecutive weekends of events. Thankfully, he didn’t ask me to go that far back. Going that far would require more than the two cups of coffee I’ve already had. And then I’d just be all confused.

Not that it takes much.

So, to begin at the beginning which is in the middle: The fall festival at CAMA was a three day event which we attended for two of those three days. I didn’t want to take him out of school on that Friday because I’m taking him out of school this Friday for our annual trip to Maine for the fall work weekend.

See, I’m already getting ahead of myself.

So, CAMA was good. Two days of trains – one steam, one diesel – in an environment of steam and gas and engines. I can’t prove it because I have no pictures of the other steam engines – the stationary ones – but you’ve seen ‘em all before. They’re stationary. They don’t move, they don’t change. They either start or they don’t.


The Boy is tall enough now (because he’s taller than me now, the fact of which he still gleefully loves to remind me) to drive the Plymouth engine. “Tall enough” translates into his feet can reach the clutch. He was helping with the Plymouth until it started having problems. The trains are run only twice a year, so it’s anybody’s guess how well they’re going to work.

Unless, of course, he broke it.

Behind the controls

Behind the controls

It was a lovely early Fall weekend, a tad too warm, but thankfully not humid. You know how I feel about humidity. One of these days I will show you a picture of what it does to my hair and therefore my general demeanor.

End of the day on Saturday

End of the day on Saturday

The Boy was on the train crew for most of the weekend. That part was kind of boring for him since he’s still too young to help with the running of the steam train. The end of the day, when the real work began, was when he was able to dive-in and feel useful.

Hauling the water tank to the train

Hauling the water tank to the train

"Helloooo in there ...."

“Helloooo in there ….”

I see it, I see it!

Yup. There it is.

Nothing to see here

Nothing to see here

We stayed at a nearby hotel (nearby being 45 minutes away – this place is further out in the boonies than we are at home). This was two days of hanging out in the fresh air, reading and napping. I missed most of the show. We’ve been going for years. After a while, all I want is a comfortable place to sit where I can catch an occasional glimpse of the Boy as the train passes.

Last weekend… shit! What did we do last weekend? Wow, it’s only been three days and I can’t remember anything. Is this early onset dementia?

Ah, yes. Saturday was the annual Yankee Steam Up at the New England Wireless and Steam Museum. That’s a mouthful. The weather wasn’t great but the rain held off until mid-afternoon which was a huge deal.

Yeah, I'm doing this.

Yeah, I’m doing this.

Because rain was imminent, we decided to get there as close to the 8:00 AM start time as possible, which we did. The Boy immediately went to work at the vertical steam boiler which was the power plant for all of the running engines. It’s fire required constant feeding, with wood being the fuel of choice. He rarely left his post and gave the “old guys” a break from hauling, lifting, and poking all that wood.

Loading wood

Loading wood

Poking wood

Poking wood

Events such as this attract a distinct demographic. A questionable weather day weeds out the casual attendee and brings out only the most die-hard of steam fans. The threat of rain kept many of the exhibitors away. The result of this winnowing was an average age of about 70. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. 60 – 65. Tops. Aside from the people looking for something to do and dragging their kids with them.

Chatting with the amazing Don Favell

Chatting with the amazing Don Favell

As with CAMA, we were among the last to leave. In spite of the rain.

By then, the cookies were free.

End-of-day freebee

End-of-day freebee

This coming weekend is the annual Fall Work Weekend at the WW&F in Maine. The Boy and I will go up early Friday and will get home late Monday because everyone else will be coming home at the same time and it will be raining and traffic on I-495 is a nightmare.

This is an event which requires long advance planning on our part. I made hotel reservations in early August and I got the last room. Just dumb luck, but “phew.”

This weekend they will be laying new track. Having been able to finally purchase the land beyond the end of the line, they can now continue laying track up and over the top of the mountain toward Head Tide. This acquisition has been in the works for more than five years. Clearing and grading has been going on all summer. They last laid track extending the line in 2011, the first year we attended fall work weekend.  There wasn’t much to lay that year, so we spent the weekend ballasting the track. A sometimes precarious endeavor as there were portions of steep hillside that fell away just inches from the grade.

Shoveling ballast - 2011

Shoveling ballast – 2011

A good before and after example of ballasting the track - 2011

A good before and after example of ballasting the track – 2011

This time, instead of shoveling gravel,  I’ll be in the gift shop. Again. I like it there. My aging back appreciates not shoveling gravel. And Sunday afternoon is the baby shower for which I made the quilt.

I can’t even begin to tell you how relieved I am that it’s done. As I was finishing it this past weekend it was christened by some of the ash coming out of the boiler. It seemed apropos since the parents-to-be are both train people. And yes, I did clean off the schmutz.

I started this post in the middle and I’m finishing it in the middle since I can’t share anything else about the weekend ahead until I’ve actually lived through it. I could make up stuff based on past experience, but I think I’ve been long-winded enough.

Tune in soon, for another update in the saga of the Boy and his steam endeavors.

Our first visit to WW&F - Summer 2007

Hanging with the crew – our first visit to WW&F, Summer 2007


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Hanging with the older crowd

The weather’s changing and I’ve been very busy and in a constant state of really-tiredness. I think I’m gearing up for hibernation, but it could just be that I get really busy and forget to sit down and relax until I finally do sit down and relax and then I can’t get up.

Well, I can get up, but I don’t want to.

Because, y’know, dinner won’t cook itself.

None of this has anything to do with the post I was planning on writing. Because this post has to do with old people and the fact that I am now one of them – in some circles, and according to organizations like AARP and the local senior center.

Can you believe that I’m eligible to use the facilities at the senior center, but I still have to pay non-senior prices for lunch there until I’m 60. If you’re 60, you can have lunch for $3.00. If you’re under 60 you pay some weird price like $12.47. I know it’s over $12.00 but I can’t remember the exact price. Even the lady at the front desk said it’s not worth it: “Go get lunch somewhere else.”

Also, you have to let them know you’re coming for lunch by 11:00am the previous day. Who plans their lunch that far in advance? Unless it’s Thanksgiving or something.

All these rules. I don’t have to call the pub and tell them I’m coming. No need to reserve a plate of nachos and a beer.

I don’t think the senior center serves beer. They serve yoga.

It’s not dessert.

My point is, that I’ve been spending a lot of time around old people. People older than me. Between the seniors at that senior center, the seniors in residence at the nursing home where my uncle lives, and the seniors in residence at the assisted living facility where my uncle and aunt live, one thing has become painfully clear.

That is: If I don’t take better care of myself, I’m going to end up a) using a walker if I’m lucky, or b) end up catatonic spending my days between bed and a wheelchair, parked in front of a TV that only shows Dr. Phil wearing a bib while someone spoon feeds me pureed food, or c) volunteering in the thrift shop where none of the patrons will be able tell me apart from any of the other volunteers because at some point all old ladies look alike.

For now, I am so grateful for every day, and definitely for every day that I can get out of bed, shower, and get dressed under my own power. I can walk and exercise, drive and eat solid food, and I don’t need help in bathroom.

I think I’m pretty fucking lucky and I plan to keep it that way. Because, in general, once you go into a nursing home…

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Coming clean

There’s been a shift in the weather, and it’s a full moon, and last week the plumber came to fix the sink. Literally. He fixed the sink. And a few other things.

It all started with the plumber and the need to clear out under the sink.

I started to throw things away.

God, it felt good.

Crap that’s been taking up visual space and a little spot in my brain for years is in the trash and out of my life.

Okay, so if you look around my house you won’t see much of a change. Under the sink was only one source of crap and visual clutter. Much of the rest of it is either out in the open, or all over the friggin’ basement.

There is more visible, usable counter space on one side. But in the moment that I got one counter cleared off, a new toaster arrived which is taking up even more space on the other counter, along with the old toaster. I’ve got t0 keep the old toaster for now because when the new toaster heats up it emits toxic fumes.

I’m not cooking toast in toxic fumes.

So until we can get the heat to burn off whatever toxicity came with the new toaster, there will be two toasters. It may take awhile.

Toasters aside, what’s been happening since last Thursday is something I’d normally classify as Fall cleaning. But it’s not. I generally feel the need to do some seasonal cleaning, but the follow-through is usually lacking. This is something else. Cleaning out under the sink was the catalyst to looking at all of the crap in a new light.

Basically I look at stuff and think “Trash, recycle or donate?”


If there was a dumpster in my yard right now, I’d be filling that sucker up.

It’s not just the purging though. There is cleaning and organizing going on too. It’s probably a really good thing that the nearest Container Store is a couple of hours away.

There’d been a print sitting on the kitchen table for a couple of weeks. Pretty much everything that comes through this house spends a little time on the kitchen table. I’d gotten a frame for the print. Good. The frame was keeping the print clean, especially since it was on the kitchen table. I had a place to hang it, but hanging it required moving furniture and my ironing board and all of my sewing stuff.

Yes, the kitchen is also my sewing room.

Moving the furniture, which never gets moved, meant an opportunity to clean behind it.   It was, ahem, long overdue for some attention with the vacuum and a duster and a little elbow grease.

Generally, I don’t have greasy elbows. Just in case you were wondering.

In the end, a five minute picture hanging job took about an hour. But it looks nice and fresh over in that corner which is, once again, inaccessible due to all my sewing stuff being back in place. I even ironed the tablecloth.

I don’t know if you appreciate the gravity of me ironing anything.

I’m hoping I can maintain this momentum. It’s really gratifying to see small, positive changes.

And the basement awaits.

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When a new school year starts, I often see it as a new beginning for me as well as all of those people heading back into the classroom. This year is no exception.

Six months ago, during the last school year, my mom offered to buy, as a birthday present to me, a three month membership to her gym which has a nautilus circuit and a handful of cardio machines.

Her gym, I should point out, is at the local senior center. I am eligible to use the senior center facilities since their definition of “senior” is 50 or older. My definition of “senior” is whatever age you have to be to get a discount at Denny’s. And I’m not there yet.

But I thought, what the hell? It’s close, it’s cheap, and I won’t have to listen to deafening music that I can’t stand. And when I’m done I can browse the thrift shop.

The senior center thrift shop is a really good place to browse.

Who knew that the competition among old folks would be as fierce as it is?

I’m getting ahead of myself. Back in March, my birthday month, I said “okay, that sounds good,” meaning the membership. But I had to put it off because there was the surgery thing, and I didn’t want to lose a third of my membership time because I was recouperating. And then there was summer vacation and I didn’t want to lose weeks and months of the membership because I was away or off with the Boy. So I decided that when he went back to school, I would sign up.

But first I needed my doc to sign off on my new exercise regimen. After all, I’m a senior now.


He was more than happy to sign off, didn’t know the senior center accepted non-seniors (me), and suggested that I would feel like an olympian compared to the 80-somethings I’d be sharing the circuit with.

He was a little right about that. I don’t yet need a walker to balance on one foot. But I might need a cane to beat some of them back when they start cutting in to my circuit.

I started last week, met with the trainer a few times, and have worked out on my own. Meanwhile I’m still walking in the mornings.

I had a little soreness, but that’s not the worst of it. I am fucking exhausted by 7:45pm. Sure, I’m up at 5:30 a.m., and I have a lot of energy for the first part of the day. Until around 3:00 p.m. when I need a nap in the worst way. It’s also about the time the Boy gets home from school, so the idea of a nap is a joke. Then, by the time dinner’s cooked, eaten, and cleaned up, I’m done. Totally, utterly, and completely done.

I don’t even want dessert.

Something is seriously not right. Me? Not wanting dessert?

Is Hell freezing over? Are pigs flying?

But maybe this time I’ll make enough progress to fit back into my old clothes. Because as I get fit and strong, I’ll also loose weight.



Please, tell I’m right.

Unless I’m sleeping. If I’m sleeping, just leave me alone.


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A Labor Day that would not be made into a play by William Inge

For one thing, we didn’t have a picnic.

Come to think of it, we did have a picnic. It just wasn’t much of a picnic. We went to the beach and got foot long hot dogs for $1.50 and fries for $1.00 (what year is it?), except for the Boy who got a cheeseburger he didn’t really eat. All of us were sitting there, having wolfed down our dogs, waiting for the Boy to finish his burger and fries so we could get our stuff and go sit on the beach; the two other teenaged boys eyeballing his food like the hungry seagulls flying around.

Mine! Mine! Mine!

You going to eat that?

Finally, he declared himself full, and there was a free-for-all; his remaining food disappeared before he could say “Mine.”

That was the picnic. No spinsters. No gossip. No scandal.

And school started last Thursday.

First day of school. He can barely contain his excitement.

First day of school. He can barely contain his excitement.

The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to get sand out of places it wasn’t invited.

And eating ice cream.

Not much conflict there. Except that, since it’s the last official day of the season, some of the ice cream choices were sold out.

Boys and rocks

Boys and rocks

We had a nice day. It seemed like a Sunday, instead of the last hurrah of summer vacation. Which it wasn’t. The last hurrah of summer vacation was last week, because, y’know, it was very important to the district that school start two days before Labor Day, so way to rain on our last hurrahs, school district.

Don’t worry, I’m not going there. I’m worn out with that argument.

What is it with boys and rocks?

What is it with boys and rocks?

Emma and I had a lovely day chatting at the beach and spending some time with our boys. Even though, technically, our boys didn’t really spend any time with us. At all.



Happy Labor Day.

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