Made the trip to Chinatown with the Karoake Queen's family yesterday. We had lunch and celebrated a family birthday at Noodle Town, our favorite Chinese restaurant. I stopped to pose for a picture with this statue of Homer Simpson outside an ice cream shop.
Who's the bigger Homer here?
I always look forward to the family visits to Chinatown, particularly since I spend so much time alone in my cabin in the Catskills. Chinatown is a flood of people. It's a bit of a struggle to push through the crowds just to walk up the street.
We stopped for a pre-lunch snack at this little noodle stand. A buck and a half for a container of rice noodles. Not bad, if you dose them a little with soy sauce.
I bought a couple of salmon steaks at this market. $6.20 a pound. That's about two-thirds the price at the supermarket, and fish in the Chinatown markets is super fresh.
Conditions for the workers in these market are tough. They have to work in the cold and they have to stick their fingers in the ice all day. Tough people. They are recent immigrants who have paid, most likely, $50,000 to a smuggler for their ticket to America. They work for years as indentured servants until they pay off the smuggler's fee. And, they succeed.
God bless these poor immigrants who sacrifice their lives so that their children can become middle class Americans.
I bought some minature bok choy and ginger root from one of the sidewalk vendors. Once again, Asians demand super freshness. I've never tried the long green beans in the pic above. The vendors display a number of fruit and vegetable varieties that I've never eaten.
We hurried back to Woodstock, after lunch and birthday cake, so that we could catch the Dharma Bums at the Harmony Cafe. The Bums are a Grateful Dead/Phish type band. Long jams and heavy on the hippie message. They sang a few 60s tunes by the Kingston Trio and Dylan that I liked, and they do some very good originals, too.
Big Joe and Puppy John from the Old Dawgz showed up to schmooze. Wives came along too.
A long day on the road, socializing with family and friends. Life is good!
My daughter has assigned me some grandpa homework. Time to teach the granddaughter how to talk, sing and dance. Best way to do that is to have some fun. Who knows how to do that better than Mickey Mouse?
Note that you get five reps through the tune. Could be a good tune for the Old Dawgz, too!
Time to learn the names of things, too. "Dada" and "Mama" haven't quite happened yet, but it's never too soon to start drilling.
I'm looking forward to when the granddaughter learns "Mary Mack." My daughter used to play that patty cake game for hours!
For decades, fathers and husbands have been depicted on TV programs and in ads as fools, incompetents, abusers and jerks. Sprint goes one better in its series of commercials about The Frobinson Family. Dad/Husband is depicted as a hamster trapped inside a plastic ball.
What does the hamster do in its role as family pet? He spins pointlessly in his little wheel for the amusement of his owner.
The entire Frobisher family is white, but grandpa is black. Dad/Husband is denied even his pride in passing on his own lineage!
These commercials reek with hatred and ridicule of men. Men are ridiculous, non-human, and they exist only for the purpose of paying the bills. Dad/Husband is just a dumb pet to be ignored by people with more important lives.
Godawful. Or, perhaps, this is really what we men have become.
I'm no political activist. I'm just an Old Dawg trying to get along and enjoy the years I have left.
I won't draw any conclusions for you. You can come to your own.
John continued on in a solo and writing career that is legendary. The New York Lottery even used one of his songs, Do You Believe in Magic?, as its theme for a year or two.
One of my favorite Lovin' Spoonful tunes:
I played a number of opening acts for John many years ago, back when I would do almost anything for that "exposure." He's as cheerful and charming in person as the lyrics to his tunes would lead you to believe.
The Woodstock FD is extremely well tended and funded. I have no doubt that the Playhouse will be full for John.
On a clear, bitterly cold winter afternoon, I decided to take some pictures of the Hudson near the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge. I needed to escape from cabin fever and a cold house. My pellet stove broke down a few days ago. My truck cab was the warmest environment available.
Click on the pics for a bigger version.
This article provides a pretty good history of the bridge, which opened to traffic in 1957. The above pic is the view from the south. Although the river seems to be frozen solid, I saw paths cut through the ice, so shipping traffic continues through the winter. What a frigging winter it has been, too!
Above, the view from north of the bridge. Check out the huge snow drifts in the foreground.
Route 32 runs along the shore. There are a few little parks where you can drive down to the edge of the river. Living near a huge river, the Atlantic Ocean and the New York Bay is like living near the carnival for a flatlander from central Illinois like me.
Look at the exhaust above the back stack on this tugboat. The engine was running and a crew was onboard. I guess that working boats like this dock and wait for the next barge to come along. Barge traffic seems to be the bulk of traffic on the Hudson.
Don't know what the hell this structure is all about. Is it functional? I think it's either a child's toy or a sculpture. Looks to me like water towers joined by a walkway.
My daughter and son-in-law took me out for a steak dinner last night, then the son-in-law cleaned out my pellet stove and got it working. Thanks, Zak. I was really tired of being cold. Winter, go away!
Another beautiful day in Woodstock, as you can see in the pic below:
Came home last night to a cold house. The wood pellet stove is down. Pellets are not feeding correctly.
Taking care of a house during the winter in the Catskill Mountains is a tough hack. And I'm a 64 year old Old Dawg. I'm down at least a thousand bucks to snow removal and repairs to the house. And, it looks like winter is going to hang in there for a few more weeks.
At this moment, I am looking out my front window at the very scene depicted above, listening to the Old Dawgz' recording of Bob Marley'sThree Little Birds. Sheer bliss. I'll post the tune as soon as we dub the backup vocals. You can't let trouble get you down. It's really true. Don't worry. Be happy.
Below, a self-portrait. This is a trace of a picture taken yesterday. I traced in Photoshop. Layers are wonderful, aren't they?
I drew this on my Wacom tablet. It's pretty crude, but you gotta start somewhere. I need to pull my pencils out again and get back to sketching something every day. Takes a while to make a habit ingrained.
Retired guys can sleep any time they want. It's like being a kid on summer vacation all over again. I take a nap from about 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., then I spend the wee morning hours until dawn playing music, writing music and doing my first set of my daily yoga routine. These hours from 1 a.m. to about 6 a.m. are hours of blessed internet silence.
No Facebook updates. No arguments at the big time weblogs. Just silence.
I'm thinking of canceling my cable TV subscription. To create more silence. Too much temptation to switch the tube on just to fill up space. I don't want my space to be full. I want it to be quiet and empty. What do I really watch? I follow the Cubs and the Illini. NBA playoffs during the last couple of series. NFL playoffs once they get serious.
My TV is connected to the internet. I can get the games I want to see by subscription. Netflix and Vudu stream plenty of movies. The land line phone is about to go, too. Although my cell phone does not work out here in the Catskill Mountains, I can forward my cell phone to a Skype number.
I'm no longer in a hurry to do anything. After a year and a half of retirement (or unemployment, depending on how you look at it), I'm settling into my own rhythm.
I get so much done during that period of internet silence. No temptations to draw me away from my work. My mind is quiet.
In pursuit of relief from cabin fever, I took a ride around Woodstock yesterday looking for winter scenes in the Catskills. Most snow we've had in a decade. Cabin fever was intensified by a morning spent shoveling the roof. Click on the pics for a bigger version.
Woodstock Cemtery has filled up with wives and friends. A pretty place to wait for Jesus to return, huh? I've attended umpteen burials here, burials of the famous and the unknown.
The world becomes monochrome after a big blizzard, doesn't it? If not for that yellow sign warning of a upcoming curve, you might think the pic above is black and white. Route 212 heading up the mountains west of Woodstock was treacherous, but beautiful.
I'm digging into retirement. Don't go anywhere during these winter storms. I just stay close to my woodstove, and play music.
Cooper Lake feels incredibly isolated during winter. No tourists about. No townspeople out for a walk with their dogs. Only a few animal tracks break up the unblemished snow across the lake.
Love the curve of the road along the shore of Cooper Lake. Can't wait for the snow to melt and temperatures to rise so that I can get out there on my bicycle for the daily ten mile ride. It's already time to begin planning my garden. Will I even plant a garden this year? Harley riding is two months away. I'll be like a kid on summer vacation.
Finally, a panorama of the lake. 25 years in this place! Long ago, when I lived in San Francisco, I swore that I would never live through winter again. And, now it appears that I will play out the final chapter in my life in the harsh winters of the Catskill Mountains.
How did that happen?
The Karaoke Queen says she wants to winter in Florida and the Philippines. First, she has to retire. I'm not putting any money on that.