History…..and silverware.

Yesterday’s post was a bit of a downer. I’ve been stuck in the house too long and watching too much news on cable TV and it’s starting to affect my mood. Today it’s music only and “puttering” (as my mother used to call it) around the house. In that spirit, I decided to write a post about something I’ve been meaning to write about that’s a little more … shall we say, “uplifting”.

So you ready? I bet you didn’t see this coming. I’m going to write about my silverware. See the photo above. Pretty cool, right? It’s pretty old…..manufactured back in the late 60’s or early 70’s as near as I can tell, somewhere in Asia – probably Korea – and here’s its story.

I got married back in the early 1970’s and my late parents gave me a set of service for 8 of this silverware as a wedding gift. It was one of the nicest things in my hand-me-down kitchen and I loved it. But over the years due mostly to kids and bagged lunches about half of my beloved silverware went missing. About 15 years ago I bought a new, monogrammed set, but it was never the same and I kept the pieces I had left in the silverware drawer and often mourned the loss of the rest.

One day not long ago, being retired, snowed in and with too much time on my hands, I decided to see if there was any way to research the pattern. It took a few hours of intense Googling, but I finally identified it and, as I had suspected, it had long been discontinued. I checked eBay of course, but what I found there were only a few pieces here and there, but nothing that would help me resurrect my entire set.

Then, just for shits and giggles, I switched the Google search results to images only and there it was! A picture of a felt lined wooden box containing an entire set of my silverware! I was momentarily thrilled until I discovered that the photo was attached to an eBay auction that ended last October. But, there was a glimmer of hope. The auction had “ended”, indicating that no one had purchased it, so I took a chance and contacted the seller on eBay. Delightful fellow, and he replied immediately. Yes, he still had the silverware and would I like him to relist it for me? The answer was, of course, YES!, so he did and I purchased the silverware minutes later for only $29.99 on the day before Christmas. He promised to ship it immediately after the holiday and, true to his word, he did. Just before New Years my package arrived.

I guarantee you have never seen anyone as excited as I was to open a package containing 54 year old Korean flatware. It was in pristine condition and the service for 8 was complete. It all immediately went into a dishpan full of hot soapy water and my monogrammed flatware was transferred to the felt-lined box and relegated to a shelf in the basement. With what I had left from my original set, and my wonderful acquisition, I was able to put a full matching service for 12 in my silverware drawer with a couple of pieces left over.

I have no idea why that silverware means so much to me. A reminder of times gone by? Is it because my parents both passed away a few years ago? Did I just really like the silverware? I suppose it’s all of those things and a few more, but it doesn’t really matter in the end. I have my really cool silverware back and that’s good enough for me.

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Time marches on. Dammit all to hell.

I sent out Christmas cards this year – a habit I’ve resurrected since retirement – and one of the ones I sent was to my mother’s long-time best friend, Helen.  Today the card was returned as “undeliverable, no forwarding address”.  Since she and her second husband split their time between Florida and Canada and they were getting on in years, I optimistically hoped that just meant the traveling had become too much for them and they were staying in Canada year round.  I phoned the Florida number – disconnected.  I phoned the Canada number – disconnected.  Fearing the worst, I Googled and discovered the worst – she passed away last June 2nd.

I managed to track down her youngest daughter on Facebook (as rotten as it sometimes is, it sure has it’s uses) and within a few minutes I was messaging with her and found that Helen passed from cancer and was gone two months after the diagnosis.  Even more tragic, her second husband Mario committed suicide a week after her death.

I first met Helen when I was about 7 years old when her oldest son who was the same age as me slammed my head in a shed door and gave me a black eye.  Helen, her first husband George and their four kids become our family’s instant best friends (black eye notwithstanding).  They had just moved in next door and they lived there for most of my early childhood.  When they migrated to upstate New York in the early 70’s to find work, my parents followed and moved in next door to them again.  They were pretty much family and I honestly can’t remember a time in my life when they weren’t around.  We all drifted apart some years later, as so often is the case.  Kids grew up and moved away; Helen and George moved to Ohio to be near their youngest daughter and my parents stayed in New York and ultimately retired and moved back to Maine.  They all stayed in touch with a card or a phone call a couple of times a year, but rarely saw each other.

George passed away in 1996 a few years after they moved to Ohio, and Helen was devastated.  She remarried a couple of years later and Mario was a wonderful guy – they were together for 20 years – but George remained the love of her life.  She’s buried in Ohio next to George so they are together again, at least physically but while I find a bit of comfort in that, it also makes me sad for Mario who loved her so much that he felt he couldn’t go on living without her.  I tried to find his obituary and final resting place, but no luck.  I assume he’s interred near his family in Canada but that’s only a guess.

Helen and Mario visited once a few months before my mother died and I got to see them.  Helen was in her early 80’s then but you would never have guessed it.  She was energetic, sharp as a tack and looked 20 years younger. We stayed in touch every 6-8 months after that – Christmas and birthday cards mostly.  I hadn’t spoken to her since late last winter.  Of course now I wish I had just picked up the phone and called.

This feels very much like the end of an era for me.  I remember how sad my parents were at my age when people near to them began dying at a pretty rapid rate and I didn’t really understand it at the time.  But I admit I do now – it leaves you feeling in a way that is hard to describe – like your own place in the world erodes a little with each person in your life who passes, like you somehow belong in the world a little less each time someone who played a big part in your life dies.  It just goes to show that the most important things, the things that define us in this life, are really the people around us, the friends and family that we love and who love us.  Without them, we lose our anchor.

Feels like I just lost another little piece of my own.

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Happy 2018 Everybody

It’s 2018 and let me start by saying it’s probably a miracle we are all still here.  No belaboring of the state of the nation in this post.  We all know it sucks.  At this point, I’m just waiting for my belated Christmas gift from Robert Mueller.

Nope, today it’s time to take a minute and focus on the rest of life.

First of all it’s damn cold here in The Berkshires.  Today it got up around 15 and given what we’ve had, that’s a veritable heat wave.  We might get a few days this week in the 20’s but by the weekend it’s back in the deep freeze.  -3 is forecast for Saturday.  Yikes.  Glad all I have to do is stay in my house wrapped up in a warm blanket.

The holidays were good.  Thanksgiving was awesome and Christmas was fun.  I got some awesome gifts – Doctor Who/Van Gogh mashup wall art; every single episode of the X-Files on iTunes, three excellent movies, a wickedly cool turntable that actually lets me rip vinyl to a USB drive (yes!), a hand blender, a box of neat stuff from my cousins, and an assortment of other equally cool things.  I completely ignored New Year’s Eve.  When you get to be my age, the passing of another year is nothing to celebrate, believe me.

And speaking of “my age”, I’m feeling mildly traumatized by the fact that I’m turning 65 in a couple of weeks.  I don’t know why it’s bothering me, really.  Nothing much will change except I might be able to cash in on a few more senior discounts.  Medicare kicked in like clockwork without me having to do a darned thing and without it costing me anything (thank you, New York State Retirement System.  I love you.) and otherwise not much will happen though  I may get slightly and rebelliously intoxicated on my birthday.

Now that the holidays are over for another year, we head into the bleak stretch between now and spring and I have to admit this is, now that I’m retired, one of my favourite times of the year.  There’s not much to do except amuse myself (something I’m pretty good at) and there’s no real pressure to be out and about.  It’s a great time to read, do some genealogy research and a little needlework, play some music, listen to some cool podcasts and watch bad horror movies.  Spring (and camp!!!) will come soon enough.  Time now to just enjoy to peace and solitude.

Did I mention podcasts?  I’m totally hooked on quite a few:  The Black Tapes Podcast, Creepy, Small Town Horror and The NoSleep Podcast.  All are beyond excellent, and all are free to stream or download on iTunes.  Podcasts rock.  I love ’em.  The ones I mentioned are all wonderful, but I must confess that I have become a total Lore-aholic.  If you haven’t checked it out, you should.  I listen to an episode every night before I go to sleep.  It’s fascinating stuff and I admit I love the narrator’s voice.  An excellent way to end the day.

And ending the day is just what I’m about to do.  An episode of Lore awaits along with a glass of milk and my comfy bed on this chilly night.  I hope that shortly all of you will also be snug in your beds, peacefully sleeping, and that the New Year will bring us all good things.

Cheers.

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It’s Holiday Time Again

Happy Holidays everyone.  Yes, I said Happy Holidays.  Why?  Because Christmas isn’t the only holiday being celebrated.  Hell, it’s not even the only holiday being celebrated by people who identify themselves as Christians.  There’s Thanksgiving (it was awesome, by the way) and New Year’s too.  When you wish somebody Happy Holidays, you are wishing them joy on ALL of them – not just one.  So say “Happy Holidays” proudly.  The ludicrous and non-existent “war on Christmas” was invented by Faux News to boost their ratings and to stir up the fundies.  It’s fake news.  And it’s stupid.  So, Happy Holidays, everybody.

And since we’re talking about the holidays, I am mildly surprised to find that I have reached that stage in life that I suspect comes to many in the over 60 crowd – I don’t need anything.   It’s that time of year when our family routinely gives each other gift giving ‘hints’ and I was wandering around the house today trying to think of a hint of my own to drop and I came up completely empty except for some little stuff like iTunes gift cards, a couple of bottles of decent Cabernet and a season or two of The X-Files on DVD.  I think I need to be grateful for this state of affairs, as does anyone who finds themselves in similar circumstances.  It means we are successful, secure, and perhaps largely content.  All I really want now is time with friends and family and experiences to share with them – dinner, a movie, a board game, a day trip to someplace fun.  If I got “IOU’s” from everybody I love saying, “This entitles you to take away Chinese and one pay-per-view with us at our house”, or “…homemade pizza and a game of Monopoly…”, I would consider myself well-gifted.  At this stage of life, it’s all about Time with a capital T.   Time spent with people I care for doing things I enjoy.  How lucky I am to be able to focus on that.

It’s also time to focus on those who have much less, so this year I’m committing money to local charities – food banks and other groups – that focus on local folks in need of a hand.  That’s what the holidays should be about – being grateful and acknowledging your own good fortune if you have it, and sharing with others who don’t.  Toss a little kindness into the world if you can – it needs it now more than it has in a long, long while.

Cheers.

 

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So let’s talk about credit report monitoring and the not so fine folks at Equifax…

I’ve been in a pitched battle with Equifax ever since news of their breach/data theft hit the news a couple of months ago.  But before I get to that, let’s provide a little background – and at the end, a brief lecture.

A couple of months ago it was revealed that over the summer Equifax (a credit monitoring agency, one of three that has us all by the short and curlies) had been the target of a huge data breach.  Over 145 MILLION Americans had their data stolen from Equifax including name, address, date of birth, social security number and all other manner of information that would make identity and credit and tax theft as easy as taking candy from a baby on Halloween.  The immediate – and good – advice was for everybody to place a freeze on their credit reports with the Big Three – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  I did that the minute I heard about the breach and while I was safe from having my hard-earned excellent credit rating screwed with, I was also safe from buying anything.

That was all fine with me, until I attempted to sign up for TrustedID, being offered for free by Equifax, which made setting and un-setting a lock vs. a freeze much easier in case I needed to make my report(s) available to make a major credit purchase.

Now, for the battle.  To make a long story short, to use the lock at TrustedID, I first had to remove the freeze I had placed directly with Equifax.  Seemed simple enough – I had a screenshot of the exact information I had entered, and the PIN they provided.  But every time I tried to remove the freeze, I was told I needed to write a letter and provide more information.  I tried their automated phone service – same result.  I tried to connect with an Equifax customer service representative – that was the worst of all.  He spoke terrible English, clearly hated his job and didn’t want to help me, put me on hold for over 15 minutes and then finally hung up on me.  Finally I gave in and wrote the letter and provided all the information requested.  Then I waited a month and absolutely nothing happened.

During all of this I had been in touch with the financial columnist at the New York Times (awesome guy named Ron) who was providing advice, cheerleading services, and some under-the-table info.  In desperation, I tracked down the email address of the head of consumer relations for Equifax and sent him an email, including a copy of my letter.  I got a read receipt for my trouble, but otherwise nothing.  Zip.  Nada.  No reply.  My credit report was frozen as solid as the North Pole and I apparently had absolutely no way to unfreeze it.   Visions of never being able to purchase anything on credit again danced in my head.

Before deciding the next step I was going to take, I decided just one more time to try going to Equifax’s website with my info and precious PIN to see if I could un-freeze my report.  Yes, I know, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, but by this time I was feeling pretty insane.

Well let me tell you, sometimes insanity isn’t such a bad thing.  I enterest my information and – voila! – I was taken to a page where I could enter my magical PIN and my credit report was unfrozen.  I then went into TrustedID and clicked the lovely little button and locked it.  Then just for shits and giggles I unlocked it.  Then locked it again.  Then unlocked it.  Then locked it again.  Pure heaven.  Things were at long last working as they were supposed to.

So what happened?  Beats me.  Did the head of consumer affairs at Equifax take pity on me, fix my stuff and just not bother to respond to my email?  More likely, did Equifax just finally get their crap together and make their shit work?  I’m sure I’ll never know, but at this point I’m not sure I care.  I got what I wanted and  I guess it doesn’t matter why.  All I know is that know I have control over all three reports and I can keep them locked unless I choose to make a major purchase.  Screw you hackers.

Which, finally, brings me to the lecture.  Don’t wait.  Sign up for Equifax’s free TrustedID service, TransUnion’s free TrueIdentity service, and the Experian freeze service.  That last one will cost you $5 which in the end is better, and cheaper, than fighting identity theft.  Here are the URL’s:

Equifax LOCK:   https://www.trustedid.com/

Transunion LOCK:  https://membership.trueidentity.com

Experian FREEZE:  https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html

Make sure you carefully record ALL information you enter to set up each service and any PIN numbers, etc. that are provided.  Use screenshots if you can.  Then keep it all, including the username and password for each site, in a safe place.  You’ll need this information to make your credit reports accessible if you need to apply for loans like auto loans or mortgages, or to apply for credit cards or other forms of credit purchasing.   Trying to unlock/unfreeze your reports without that information will be very difficult and time consuming.

Sign up for free, lovely Credit Karma, but be sure to do so BEFORE you place the freezes and/or locks on your credit report.  Credit Karma will work if your accounts are locked/frozen, but only if you set up Credit Karma first.  With Credit Karma you can see your credit score, get copies of your reports from Transunion and Equifax and keep an eye on everything.  It helps you improve your credit score, too.  I’m a big fan.

Is it worth it to do all this?  Yes.  It will take some time but it’s nearly all free.  Experian is the only thing I’ve listed here that costs anything.  In New York freezing your Experian credit report is free; temporarily or permanently removing the freeze costs $5 each time.  In Massachusetts all three services cost $5.  But like I said, that is much, much cheaper than fighting identity theft.

It is safe to assume at this point, after huge breaches at Target, Home Depot, Anthem Health and Equifax just to name a few, that your information has been exposed and you are at risk for identity theft.  These data breaches are not going to stop, but as a consumer if you pay attention and do a little work, you can protect yourself.  Don’t ignore this problem because it’s too hard or you think it’s too complicated.  That’s exactly what the data thieves are hoping you’ll do.  They didn’t steal all this data because they didn’t have anything else to do that day.  It’s a business venture.  They create databases of stolen identifying information and sell those files for a shit-ton of money on the deep web.  These days you have to assume your information is in one of those files and that somebody is going to buy it and attempt to steal your identity for financial gain.

Don’t help them.

 

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Well, the wacky neighbors are at it again.

It’s almost nine o’clock and it’s pitch dark out.  And it’s raining.  And yet, my certifiably insane neighbor across the street has been attempting all day to (apparently) get rid of a huge tree trunk in the corner of his yard with some bizarre little machine that looks like a garden rototiller and a chain saw.  This thing is seriously huge.  It’s about as big across as a dining roon table.  He’s been at it for just about five hours non-stop and the grinding noise is starting to make my teeth grind almost as loudly.  He started at around 4 pm and now he’s making one of his kids stand there with a flashlight while he grinds away in the dark, nearly five hours later.  Its bizarre.  But it’s even more bizarre because the land this tree trunk is on isn’t his.  Between his house and his next door neighbor is a strip of land owned by a guy on the next street over and that’s the land the offending tree trunk is sitting on.  The strip of land is a right of way to the trails in the large forested area behind insane neighbor’s house and the other houses on that side of the street.  It’s not big enough to build anything on – only a few yards wide – and insane neighbor mows it and planted a bunch of flowers on it which seems fine with the actual owner, but I can’t help but wonder if the owner of the land is OK with whatever he’s been trying to do to that tree stump for the last five hours.

There is a noise ordinance here it Pittsfield that says you have to turn off all of your motorized yard care crap (snow blowers are exempted for obvious reasons) by 9 pm so people can go to sleep.  As much as I hate to bother the PD with foolishness like this, I’m seriously considering giving them a call if this goes on much past nine.  Insane neighbor, his wife and their two kids generate more noise in a week than everybody else in the rest of the neighborhood generates in a year.  The saving grace has always been that they shut everything down and went to bed around 8 p.m.  That must be one offensive, nasty-ass tree trunk for it to suddenly require all this immediate and frantic attention in what amounts to them as the middle of the night.

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Midsummer Update

There is a lot going on, and I’m not talking about the news.

Seriously, having this much fun is a lot of work.  LOL.  There’s camp. There was U2 at Gillette Stadium at the end of June (FABULOUS! as always).  There’s plays and concerts here in the Berkshires at Tanglewood and the Berkshire Theater Group.  Children Of A Lesser God with Joshua Jackson (“Fringe”) was totally awesome and is now apparently headed off-Broadway.  There’s a new-restaurant-trying project (Trattoria il Vesuvio is tomorrow’s plan) and a good friend from NYC is coming in for a visit in early August.  And there is Sting at Tanglewood at the end of August.  How they pulled that off, I have no idea.  I’ll have to ask David Winn.  In any event, it’s a great summer and all this fun is keeping my head out of politics, for the most part anyway.  For now.

Genealogy research has been on hold for a bit, though I did discover, quite by accident, that my 10th great grandfather, Edmond Farrington, bought what is now The Hamptons on Long Island from the Indians back in 1640.  I’m thinking about going down there and seeing if they’ll give it back.  <joke>.  Seriously, I probably can’t even afford to drive through town.  The median home price is about 2 million.  Maybe I can get them to just give me a building lot.

My sweet little grandson Chase is going to be two whole years old next week.  I can’t believe how fast those kids are growing up.  Charlee will be five on her next birthday.  Too, too fast.  What they say is true – time really does go by faster the older you get.  I wonder if there’s anything in Einstein’s research to account for that, some warp in the space-time continuum perhaps.

On the movie and TV watching front, Game of Thrones is off to a hell of a start.  That show is just amazing.  I recommend “Kong: Skull Island” for some good special effects, and “The Lost City of Z”, and I finally got around to watching The Leftovers on HBO and it’s just as good as everyone says it is.  I think I like the idea of a female Doctor Who very much, and I can’t wait to see The Dark Tower.  I also highly recommend “The X-Files: Cold Cases” from Audible.  It’s an audio drama featuring the original cast, the first of two I hear.  Very, very good.  And if you’re into podcasts check out The Black Tapes and Lore, as well as my friend Mike Bennett’s “Underwood and Flinch” which I’m currently listening to again.  All great stuff.  And if you haven’t watched Earth II on BBC America, don’t miss it.  The cinematography is beyond gorgeous and there is just something about listening to David Attenborough’s voice.  He may be 91, but that guy has it going on.

That’s it til next time.  Cheers!

 

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RAIN!!

Well, I should have expected it.  LOL  We get the camper all set up and ready to go and haven’t had a sunny day since.  I spent the end of last week out there and was stuck inside the RV watching TV the whole time because it was absolutely pouring.

But, I must acknowledge that it was a learning experience.  Here’s my top five.

  • Lesson 1:  Don’t leave the awning up in a rainstorm.  And don’t then stand under it when you put it down.  I suppose the good part is I saved a shower.
  • Lesson 2:  Speaking of showers, don’t try to take a continuous shower in an RV with a 6 gallon hot water tank.  That handheld shower head has a little “on/off” button on it for a reason.
  • Lesson 3:  Black and gray water pump outs are your friend.  Most definitely.  And that little tank gauge near the kitchen sink that tells you where you’re at is a cool little doo-hickey.
  • Lesson 4:  Rain?  Verizon’s unlimited data plan because Netflix, Netflix, Netflix
  • Lesson 5:  Don’t forget your crocheting.

Seriously, though, it was a cool time – a real feeling of disconnect from all the negativity we’re being bombarded with every day.  Out in the woods in a little trailer really makes you feel like you’ve left it all behind.  It would have been nice to sit outside with my feet up with a good book but that will come once the rain stops.

I’m not entirely sure that I could actually live in the RV, or something comparably as small, on a full time basis.  When the weather keeps you indoors it is pretty claustrophobic, but for short stretches it’s very comfy and cozy and if I had the foresight to bring my laptop and my crocheting, I would probably have been much more happily occupied and less likely to wander aimlessly around trolling my phone looking for something to watch.  But it does give you a taste of the tiny house living that seems to be the rage at the moment.  The truth is, though, I have just too much shit that I have no intention of getting rid of, so I’ll have to do my tiny house living in small doses in the summer time.

Like most people.

 

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It’s the first of May

And spring is in full swing here in the Berkshires.  Politics remain pretty alarming, but we aren’t going to talk about that today.  Today, it’s all about summer!

This is going to be a good one and I’ve decided to pretty much go all out.  We’ve put the new RV in a nice, peaceful park about an hour from home and have been busy outfitting it over the past couple of weeks and we are just about ready!  Just a couple more things need to arrive and we’ll be all set.  It’s going to be a great get-away and there are lots of fun things to do in the area we selected.  This whole “camping” thing is new for me and not something I ever thought I’d be interested in, but there’s a bed, a TV, a kitchen and a bathroom so I think I’ll be fine.  Seriously, just spending time with my family there is going to be awesome.  We are loading the place up with games and there are daily activities for the grandkids and a pool, so we are hoping to keep everyone’s screen-time at a minimum.  Personally, I have a stack of books, a bottle of wine and a comfy chair calling my name.  Yeah, I could do that at home, too, but doing it at camp in the woods seems so much more attractive.

A few concerts at Tanglewood have been added to the summer agenda, including, as of this morning, Sting on August 29th which is very exciting.

The trip to South Carolina to visit the family draws ever closer.  I was FaceTiming with them yesterday, and my grandkids have gotten so big in the past few months – can’t wait to see them.

And, of course, the pièce de résistance of the summer remains U2 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough on June 25th.   So excited!  It’s going to be here before I know it.

It’s going to be a wonderfully busy summer and this is exactly the stuff I moved here for.  I’m incredibly happy to start focusing on that now that I’ve gotten the house where I want it, and finding happy things to focus on is a pretty big deal these days given everything that’s going on.  I hope all of you can do that, too.

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Well, here it is April 3rd…

And not much has changed.  Trump hasn’t been impeached – yet.  His regime still continues to do untold damage to the country, but at least people are slowly beginning to wake up to what a disaster this whole thing is.  The Russian thing grows ever deeper and the press is all over it like a dog on a bone.  I suspect it will be the press that finally saves us from this national nightmare.  Someone online suggested to the Washington Post that they get ready for their next Pulitzer.  I think they should get ready for a Congressional Medal of Honour.

On the home front, though, things are bright and happy.  Spring is coming, slowly, but the signs are there.  I’m hearing birds chirping and I saw a housefly on the window this morning.  Not exactly a robin, but I’ll take it.

This summer promises to be a boatload of fun – I bought a camper along with the daughter and son-in-law (see – we finally bought something to live in together – even if it’s just camping).  It’s a nice gently used little RV that we are going to park somewhere for the summer as our “get away”.  Should be fun.  Next year hopefully we can hit the road with it and go to Hilton Head or Florida or maybe The Cape.

Also on the summer front is a shit-ton of “kulcha” (that’s Massite for “culture” for you outlanders).  Three shows each at the Berkshire Theater in Stockbridge and Shakespeare & Co. in Lenox, one show at Shakespeare in the Park, and four shows at Tanglewood.  (Lawn seats, here we come!) .  Don’t mean to brag (OK, yes I do), but with all the specials, 11 shows cost us each about $300.  You can’t beat that.  Love the Berkshires more than I can say.

And, in the middle of it all, U2 once again in June – this time at Foxborough Stadium and we’ve got killer seats (thanks, guys, once again for the U2.com subscriber only presale).  The Joshua Tree live from start to finish.  Somebody pinch me….

All of this is preceded by a trip south to visit the kids and the grandkids.  If I can just manage to get through airport security with my mouth shut it should be fun.  Albany and Savannah have both always been cool little airports – let’s hope that (and my pre-check) is still the case.  I’m hoping that camper we bought will end these miserable slogs through the horror that is today’s air travel, at least for a few years.

The only black mark on the summer is jury duty in July.  Hopefully I can either be sufficiently obnoxious or sufficiently clueless to get excused.

Otherwise, not much else happening in The Shire, except this quick stuff.  Genealogy classes continue.  Check out our Western Massachusetts Roots Events website – one of my better efforts.  I’m 6 months cable-free and I’ve got so much TV to watch I can’t hardly stand it.  Wine classes in Dalton have turned me into a complete wine snob (and convinced me that I don’t hate red wine after all!  I just hate cheap red wine).   I’m on a diet and I’ve lost 11 lbs. already.  I’ve finally learned how to cook tofu properly and I’ve developed a serious love for mashed cauliflower.

And, finally, if I don’t write again this month, I would like to note that on the 19th I will have been liberated for 28 years.  Those who know me well will understand that.  It’s amazing to me, still, that events which, in the moment, feel like the end of the world can end up being a gift and the best thing that could possibly have happened.  So my advice to anybody who feels like their life is currently in the shitter is this:  Wait a bit.  Life is like the weather in Ireland – if you wait for an hour everything changes.

Yes, it does.

Cheers.

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