Saturday, August 06, 2011

Maine afternoons

Up is down

On our last evening in Maine, I spent half an hour wandering the fields, looking down. I waved at the long grass -- still five or six inches, bent over as if combed, with tufts of fresh-cut blades scattered in clumps -- with a wooden stake borrowed from one of my cousin's gardens. My uncle had spent part of the afternoon mowing his lawn, then ducking through a short stand of trees into the neighbor's field to cut some of the grass in front of their guest cabin. And somewhere along the way, he had lost the ignition key to his John Deere riding mower, a farm version with a license plate and headlights that he's had for probably 20 years. There are photos of me sitting on it, reading Cars and Trucks and Things That Go while my mom cut my hair. I couldn't have been more than 10. But somewhere along his route that afternoon, my uncle John had knocked the key from the ignition. The tractor continued purring along, but when John went to turn it off back by his driveway, his hands came up empty, so he stalled it and decided he'd figure out the key problem later.

So while John, his daughter Kate and her boyfriend, Rich, were back in their yard, tending to her gardens, I took it upon myself to see if I could find the key. I didn't particularly feel like digging around in the gardens (and without knowing what I was doing, someone would've had to instruct my every move, which probably would've been annoying for them, too). So while Casey sat by the house and read, John put a James Taylor record on his turntable, pivoted his large speakers to face out the windows, and cranked the volume so they'd have music out in the yard. It carried over to me as I scanned the neighbor's field.

The afternoon soon melted into those August Maine days from my childhood. Crickets chirped up a soundtrack (one that -- not for the first time, but for the first time outside -- was augmented by the folk stylings of Mr. Taylor) as the sun sunk lower in the west and painted the pines in a golden tint. I thought of how I used to find the path down through the woods to the river dark and terrifying, especially in the late afternoon when the canopy turned the woods dark before dusk had even begun. But when I got older, I'd often take walks down that path by myself, then turn left, following the path along the river until the flora closed in, then turn left again, heading back up the hill, bushwhacking my way back toward the house, though not along any known path -- or even knowing where I was headed. I just knew that I'd eventually, at worst, hit the road not far from the driveway and be able to find my way back.

But it never came to that. No matter how far along the river I walked, once I turned to head in the direction of the house and open field, I always seemed to emerge at the top of a short but steep slope that led down into a small gravel pit at the end of a second -- but rarely used -- driveway. I guess more than a usable driveway, it was more a wider, longer path leading from the road that contained no rocks or trees and was big enough for a car to maneuver.

I thought of those days as I criss-crossed the field, head down, scanning the path of the tractor for the strand of red string my uncle said might be attached to the tractor's key. Nothing against my family, but some of my favorite moments in Maine always were -- and, for brief moments, sometimes still are -- those when I'm alone and unplugged. No phone (we can't get cell service at the house anyway), no TV (we rarely watch anything during visits there). We'll still use the internet, now that they have it -- on an unsecured network because there are no other houses within range, so anyone trying to access it would have to be in view of the house -- and music is always an option. But I don't always need music; I'm happy to stroll along with the soundtrack of the forest and fields.

So not only was my perambulation soothing to my soul and psyche, but it was fruitful in my search as well. The one last section I had to explore was a path John cut parallel to the stand of trees separating the neighbors' field from his. It was a simple down-and-back to the thicker forest, a lane as wide as two tractor widths. I followed it to the circular clearing at the end -- not unlike a dead-end street -- and eyed the indentations of the tires, noting the steep angle in one section formed by a subterranean rock. And then, just when I thought my quest was about to come up empty, I saw a flat, yellow plastic tag -- precisely the type of key fob you'd get for free from a car or tractor dealership. Attached to it was a small, slightly rusted key that certainly looked like it might start a tractor. I flipped the tag over in my hand and saw the name and address of the local John Deere dealer.

My quest complete, I returned to the gardens and asked John if he was sure the key had a red string attached, or if it might be a light yellow key ring from the John Deere dealer. His eyes lit up when I held it out, a look of relief that he'd not have to dig up the tractor's VIN (or some other ID) to have a new key made.

A few minutes later, the gardeners finished their work and we traipsed down to the river to wash up for dinner. The beauty of a Maine summer is the ability for four people to put on bathing suits, wade into the river and use the all-natural soap and shampoo my family keeps on the bank to rinse off after a sweaty afternoon. After washing up and briefly enjoying the flowing amber water, we were on our way back up the hill to change for dinner, everyone ready in half an hour. Such a satisfying way of life.

Friday, August 05, 2011

A perfect Maine day

Amazingly, even after beginning with a chocolate croissant breakfast, this day continued to get better. From the Village Bakery and Cafe to a farmers' market in Damariscotta where my cousin was manning a tent, we then headed down to Pemaquid Point, home of the best lighthouse in America. I didn't even spend that much time traipsing across the rocks, looking for different photo angles. We got some good early shots, then settled our backs against a properly slanted slab of granite and watched the waves crash along the coast. Later, after we'd moved further town toward the point, I noticed a seal poking his head up out of the surf. He bobbed there for about a minute -- before we could switch to our telephoto lenses -- then disappeared again into the depths, swimming off in search of lunch.

After our own lunch on the dock at Shaw's, we came back to the house for a leisurely afternoon (a nap and some reading) before getting dinner under way. For some, fresh lobsters boiled on the stove; for others, spaghetti with sauce and meatballs made from local sources -- meat bought down the street, basil, garlic and parsley from the garden in the yard and sauce made by my cousin from her tomatoes.

And perhaps the best part of it all? While this was all being prepared, we put on some of my uncle's records for background atmosphere, beginning with Darkness on the Edge of Town. It's rare enough that we listen to albums/CDs/mp3s in order as it is, but to hear Darkness; Crosby, Stills and Nash; Rumours and The Kinks on vinyl, with side breaks and crackling and popping -- yet still in wonderful stereo -- made for a perfect night. I can't think of a better setting to appreciate the opening chords of "Badlands," the Side 1 finale of "Racing in the Street," the splendid Side 2 opening of "The Promised Land" and the album finale of "Darkness on the Edge of Town" than a cool Maine summer night.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

In the land of rocks

These series of posts from Maine are simple, end-of-day spontaneous recollections. By "jotting" down these outlines, I hope to come back to revisit them for more detailed accounts, at least for some particular points of the trip. I figured if I manage to do this much each night, I'll be more apt to follow up in a few days.

Another day spent in places I've been before, but with new twists. With Casey's stomach as a guide (to put it in the most general terms), we started the day with an early lunch at Home Kitchen Cafe in Rockland. From there we drove out to the breakwater, which allowed access to the lighthouse in the harbor -- after a walk of nearly a mile along the huge granite blocks placed some 130 years ago in the harbor to provide safe passage -- and, well, harbor -- for ships.

Out at the lighthouse -- which was not open today -- other folks took a break on the benches and walked around the base, taking photos. On the east side, the carcass of a harbor seal lay rotting, parts of it already ripped away by carnivorous birds, but its torso mainly intact. Up on the deck, which looked out back across the length of the breakwater, one couple sat eating their lunch, taking the time to enjoy themselves out a the lighthouse before beginning the careful walk back. We spent maybe 15 or 20 minutes taking photos before beginning our return trek. And with that, I checked another lighthouse off my list.

Following the walk along the breakwater, the natural next step was to visit Owl's Head Light, a more remote beacon nestled into a woodsy cliff further east from the harbor. The walk along the gravel path was less than half a mile (and probably less than a quarter, one-way) and a much more leisurely experience all around.

We then returned to downtown Rockland, parking along Main St. -- just past Lobsterfest at Harbor Park -- and strolled the retail strip, window shopping, browsing in antiques shops and other stores. After asking more of our credit cards, we drove north along the coast to Rockport, an even smaller harborside community that was once the home to Andre, a rather famous harbor seal in these parts. I remember visiting Andre some 30 summers ago, hoping that when we went down to the water's edge in the harbor, he'd be "home" and pop his head up inside his enclosure (which was open and allowed him to come and go as he pleased). Not much has changed with Rockport Harbor, except my eating habits and the opening of Shepherd's Pie, which turned out to be an exquisite dining experience. After dinner, we took some time to walk around the park on the other side of the harbor, stopping by the statue of Andre and reading about the ruins of the limestone kilns still standing against the rocky wall.

And the best part about the day was that we barely faced any rain -- only a brief shower while we were on the road out at the beginning of our day. Back in Whitefield, my uncle said, they'd had some rain in the morning and more in the late afternoon -- evidence of which we saw on our way back, along a still-saturated Route 17.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Riverside discovery

Today was spent in Freeport, shopping. Nothing too exciting to write about there.

But when we returned to Whitefield, Casey and I took a walk down through the woods to the river. I hadn't been in a long time -- five, six years maybe -- when the stroll used to be a near-daily occurrence on my annual family trips. Fishing, swimming, tubing or (in late spring when the flow is still high enough) canoeing. I thought about taking a dip, but it was already six o'clock and I wanted to take a quick visit, then come back and pop open a beer and sit around chatting until dinner.

When we got there, we stepped down the bank to the riverbed, the two or three feet of rocks on the shore between the water and the 5-, 6-foot high "bluff." We watched toads hop into the tall grass and looked up and down the river as the afternoon light shone on the trees on the opposite bank. I scouted out a few flat stones and skipped them across the surface, trying to get the perfect trajectory and speed to skip one clear across (couldn't do it in the half-dozen throws today, and I'm not sure it's ever been done).

At one point while looking for a good, flat stone, I looked a little higher than my feet, at a spot on the little bluff maybe even with my thighs. What appeared to be a rather uniformly round rock, nestled under a slightly eroded overhang, caught my eye. I then noticed that one end of it was really flat, so I reached for it and immediately upon grasping it felt its weight. That's when I realized it was manmade, an iron weight of some sort. At its top -- the flat side was the bottom -- a hoop is attached, perhaps the last link in what had been a chain. It could very well be an old anchor, a weight to keep a canoe in place on the river. It may have been used for something else.

I took a few pictures and showed them to my uncle when we got back to the house. He was intrigued and told me of an iron ring hammered into a rock a little bit up the river. He wondered if the ring in the rock had once been part of a log dam or perhaps even a suspended footbridge. Perhaps this weight was related. He asked if it might have been uncovered by the erosion of the bank by the river. I was too unsure to answer yes, but not convinced either could be discounted, either. I told him I'd only moved it a few inches and stood it upright; otherwise, it was in nearly the same place I had found it. I'm sure he'll be looking for it the next time he's down there.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Times change

I know the way to Maine like the roads in my hometown. Not just the I-95 north part, but the exit to the midcoast, the stretch of gas stations in Brunswick, the turn toward Bath, the Taste of Maine restaurant afterward. And, finally, the left turn onto Route 218 and the last 11 miles to my aunt and uncle's house. I have an inner GPS, a homing signal that can lead me here each summer.

Only, doing it at night, in the fog, and I somehow missed the driveway -- yet I knew it right away. Whoops.

Tomorrow, I'll take stock of the place in the daylight.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Miss you, Big Man

275: Bigger Big ManGiants Stadium, Oct. 2, 2009. The Darkness on the Edge of Town show. This was during "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," the second song of the night. I think it says it all. He was larger than life. "Big Man" wasn't just a nickname derived from his stature. Even when he was less mobile and confined to his little area to Bruce's right, he was still a presence. It's a shame he didn't get his deserved place in the spotlight during his last public performance with Gaga on that singing show. It's a shame the change was made upstairs and the Big Man left the band. It's a shame. I'm sad.

Clarence lived a wonderful life. He carried within him a love of people that made them love him. He created a wondrous and extended family. He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every night he stepped on stage. His loss is immeasurable and we are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly forty years. He was my great friend, my partner, and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music. His life, his memory, and his love will live on in that story and in our band. -- Bruce Springsteen, June 18, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Re: My thoughts on e-mail subject lines

I never get people who put "re:" in the subject line of an e-mail they initiate, such as "re: party plans." I know they're using it as "regarding," as in, "this e-mail is regarding the plans for the party." In this age of get-to-the-point and short attention spans, you'd think people would cut to the chase rather than take the time to type out two extra letters and a form of punctuation that needs the shift key.

Beyond that, I think 99 percent of the emailing populace looks at "re:" as "reply." So if the initial e-mail subject was "party plans," an e-mail in reply would be, "re: party plans." Of course, it could still stand for "regarding," and that may have been the thought when it was coded into the "reply" button in our e-mail clients, but in that case, the "re:" is a shortened form of "regarding your e-mail about party plans."

I also can't stand when the entire contents of an e-mail is in the subject line, with nothing in the body. I understand the time-saving nature of this exercise, both on the part of the sender and that of the receiver, but I  look at the subject line as the tease and open the e-mail to get the full gratification of what this all-important communique contains.

Maybe that's why I'm only marginally active on Twitter -- I want more. I like the long-form articles in The New Yorker, the "continued on p. 121" features in Outside and the back-of-the-book features in Sports Illustrated. After 140 characters, I still want to know more.

But then again, maybe I don't need that much more. I can barely keep up with my magazines and internet reading enough to get through a book in a reasonable amount of time, and nevermind writing the long posts I used to enjoy crafting.

This surely isn't going to be one of them...

Monday, May 23, 2011

It's still winter out West

Five years ago, my college roommate and I took a road trip in the Rockies that included a day in Rocky Mountain National Park. I took the above photo on one of the park's roads, the walls of snow along the road in May were still pretty high on the right side (the left side dropped off on a steep slope).

But that's nothing compared to this year:

That's from a New York Times story on the unusually deep snowpacks still high atop peaks in the West. That's 23 feet! Crazy.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Actress moms ride the PATH

I stepped through the turnstile at Christopher St. to exit the PATH system and found myself standing behind a blond woman holding a baby, a stroller in front of her. Ahead of us were about 50 steps leading to the street above. She appeared to be trying to get the attention of the PATH attendant manning the station, standing in the narrow space between the tracks and the last turnstile.

It was a quarter to six -- rush hour, with a few of us exiting the station, but a lot more streaming down for the trip home to New Jersey. There's not much room to maneuver in the area between the end of the steps and the turnstiles, and I couldn't get past the mother and child until other riders made their way down.

So I waited and, in those few seconds, decided I'd do the right thing and offer to help her up the stairs. Moments later, it hit me, a realization that I knew her that quickly shifted to a recognition -- she was familiar to me, but I was nothing but another stranger in New York to her. That's what happens when you used to watch someone on TV each week for eight years.

As she tried to get the station attendant's attention -- I presume she was going to ask him for assistance -- I removed my earbuds and stepped around her, in front of the stroller, then turned back.

"Would you like some help?" was all I asked, though in my head I added, "Ms. Moloney." I suppose I omitted that part on the off chance my hunch was wrong. I was pretty confident, however, that it wasn't, because upon spotting celebrities in the wild, I tend to feel a jolt of recognition and a surge in my chest at the excitement of seeing someone famous in my world -- or at least this world we share.

"Oh, that'd be great if you would," she said, turning toward me. "It's not really heavy, if you could just carry the stroller up the stairs."

I picked it up -- it was truly light, and I could've managed it with one hand if I had to. Thankfully, she didn't have one of those deluxe SUVs of baby carriages. She chatted with me as I led the way up the stairs.

"He's still too young to take in a cab," she said. As I listened to her, I confirmed my initial hunch, because the voice was so distinct. It was as if Donna Moss was walking behind me.

The stairway to the Christopher St. PATH station includes three landings. As you exit, there is one with a 90-degree turn, a second that stretches for several feet, and a third that requires a U-turn as daylight comes into view. On the second landing, we caught up with the heavyset man ascending in front of us, so we had to slow down. I had the chance to turn around as we spoke, the conversation shifting now to just how freakin' far underground the PATH runs -- something I've thought of on occasion with this commute. "I guess it's because it has to go under the other subways," she reasoned, again expressing a thought I've had come across my own mind.

When we finally reached the last step, I set the stroller down on the sidewalk as she thanked me. "You've done your good deed for the day," she added, smiling. I smiled back as I gave my reply.

"I was going to help anyway," I began, as a way of saying that I didn't do it because I recognized her as an actress, "but I loved 'The West Wing.'"

She smiled again and said, "Thank you." I replied, "Have a nice day," with a final wave and turned toward Greenwich St. and the late-afternoon sun.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Chains of Liberty

During my first visit to the Statue of Liberty, I bought a book in the souvenir shop -- it might have been a coloring book -- that included views or aspects of the Statue that weren't obvious to visitors. One was the chains at her feet, representing the breaking of the bonds of tyranny or oppression or some such. This fascinated me, that there was a "hidden in plain sight" detail that could only be seen by the most astute observers, if at all. I'm not even sure you can see them from the crown looking down at her feet. It might only be from outside aerial vantage points -- or from the ferry, if you're looking closely enough.

Well, with a 300mm zoom lens and cropping ability on the computer, those chains can just be seen -- as can a marker on the right side of the frame.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Recklessly dashing through the snow

Today's technology changes everything. Now a snow day is not just a day off from school, a chance to bundle up, find a hill and let gravity entertain you.

Bring along a camera and it's an event, one to watch back at the house -- and in years to come.

Those runs down a hill in Brooklyn's Prospect Park take me back to one spring when my family visited my mom's brother in Maine. It was either an early Easter -- one of those Easter-in-late-March years -- or a late snowstorm that dumped several inches on my uncle's property.

Up the road, one of the two neighbors who lived within walking distance had a son who was a year older than me and for a couple of years, he and I would hang out during my family's visits. He came over after the snow piled up and we took a couple of sleds out into the yard.

Most of Uncle John's 200-some acres (at least, I think that's how big the property is; I asked once and that number seems to stand out in my head) is covered by forest -- including the hill. Paths through the pines lead down to the Sheepscot River and even now when I visit, one of the first things I do is walk across the lawn and down the short incline to the main path down to the river. The drop gets steeper as the pines stand taller until it opens up at the copper-brown water passing over the rocks on the river bottom. In our annual summer visits, we'd swim and fish and occasionally canoe from this spot. One year, after our cousins had reached high-school age (and I was in college), they joined my sister and me on inner tubes for a float down a mile or two of the river, to a dam downstream where my dad picked us up.

Some 200 yards to the north of that main walking path is another opening in the trees where an older and wider path leads into forest before narrowing and, in places, becoming a more difficult route to the river. I'm not sure why the path to the south became the preferred route to the water. But it was on this less-used path that the neighbor from down the road, Bobby, and I took our sleds after that Easter snowstorm. We somehow managed to steer the plastic sleds through the trees, avoiding both the steep drop to the left in one section of the run and the larger trees that stand near the thoroughfare.

I'm not sure how, exactly, we emerged from this adventure without any serious injuries. It's certainly possible that, in my memory, we only felt like we were going much faster than in reality. However, I do recall one incident in which I couldn't quite correct a drift to the right, glancing off of a tree with my right shoulder as I was spun off the sled, coming to rest along the path. I laughed it off, though there was definitely a throbbing sensation at the point of impact. I wasn't injured, but it left me sore for a few days, I'm sure. At the time, I thought how I'd narrowly missed a more serious injury, one that could have derailed my certain-to-be successful baseball career. (Turns out that my lack of ability is what derailed that job opportunity.)

On another run, when I couldn't keep the sled from drifting to the left where the forest dropped off into a shallow gorge (but with a drop steep enough and the trees close enough that you wouldn't want to ride a sled down it), I bailed safely and watched the sled careen down the slope, banging into a dozen young trees, most no thicker than my forearm.

Those runs through the Maine woods were not unlike the short trips down Breeze Hill in Brooklyn. We didn't have to contend with any gravestones, but we had a lot more trees and a narrower opening along a much-longer run.

And we had just as much fun.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow 2.0: This week's blizzard

Snowcapped bush

Winter's bearing down again, but I don't mind that much. I know it will mean another round of shoveling in the morning, attempts to clear the sidewalks and back porch, wipe off the car and clear out the berm the plows leave us at the driveway entrance. If it's going to be this cold, I'd rather have this precipitation with it. Give us something pretty to look at, even if it's only a day or so before it starts to get brown and yellow and slushy and gross. We've had weekly snows since Christmas, the last two -- and last week's was little more than a dusting, but enough to shovel off the sidewalk -- covering up what had not yet melted.

I thought about setting up the camera for a time-lapse project with this one, but I chose not to because there was already quite a bit of snow still left on the ground. It wouldn't have the same effect as one that starts with a snowless, colorful streetscape that, over time, gets whited out.

This is one of those muting snows, arriving after dark and carrying enough punch and prompting enough warnings to scare most people off the roads. Not that 1 a.m. is any kind of high-traffic period around here, but for the last hour or so, I've been alone with my thoughts (and the Twitterverse and other online distractions) and the background sounds of our house. Other than the gurgling of the cats' water fountain, some recessed hum of one appliance or another and the occasional hiss of the radiators (one is stirring to life right now, in fact), this night is quiet. It's as if the world has been insulated, the town and the city bundled up and tied down.

Snow in the Suburbs
--Thomas Hardy

Every branch big with it,
Bent every twig with it;
Every fork like a white web-foot;
Every street and pavement mute:
Some flakes have lost their way, and grope back upward, when
Meeting those meandering down they turn and descend again.
The palings are glued together like a wall,
And there is no waft of wind with the fleecy fall.

A sparrow enters the tree,
Whereon immediately
A snow-lump thrice his own slight size
Descends on him and showers his head and eyes,
And overturns him,
And near inurns him,
And lights on a lower twig, when its brush
Starts off a volley of other lodging lumps with a rush.

The steps are a blanched slope,
Up which, with feeble hope,
A black cat comes, wide-eyed and thin;
And we take him in.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Pick ME, Mazda!

I just submitted an short essay for Mazda's online "Zoom Zoom" magazine. First prize gets to take his or her proposed road trip and wins an iPod Touch to bring along. (Would be pretty nice to win a car, too, but whatever.) I'm sure I have as good a chance of winning this as I did the $330 million Mega Millions jackpot tonight. (That is, slim to none, and Slim just left the building and forgot his keys.)

Anyway, here's the itinerary I whipped up in five minutes, based on our trip last March and with some new destinations tacked on to the end.

> > >

When I think of road trips, I think of the American West. I may be a Jersey guy who went to college in the Midwest, but I feel right home in the desert or the Rockies. Though I've made several trips to Arizona, Utah and Colorado, if given the time and resources for a road trip somewhere in North America, I think I'd go right back to roads I've cruised before.

Starting in Phoenix, we'll head north to Flagstaff, taking scenic Route 89A from Sedona. After exploring parts of old Route 66 outside "Flag," we'd head north to the Grand Canyon. From there, it'd be east out of the park and down into the Painted Desert on the way up to Monument Valley. Next, it's up into Utah, past Mexican Hat and on into Moab, where a few days would be needed to see Arches and Canyonlands.

But then a decision must be made. One option is to turn west to hit Capitol Reef and then south again for Bryce Canyon and Zion. Depending on the season, a stop at the gorgeous and even more remote North Rim of the Grand Canyon would be a bonus. Finally, if time permits, I'd like to continue west and back around the Grand Canyon -- via Hoover Dam -- to get back to Phoenix and a trip-capping dinner at the famed Pizzeria Bianco.

Or perhaps we'll go east from Moab into Colorado, where the options include turning north to Dinosaur National park, south to Mesa Verde, or cruise east on the prettiest interstate in America, I-70, to Rocky Mountain National Park. If this is our route, Denver would be our finale -- some good steak and wine in LoDo.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Tiny Christmas tree, Route 3

Back before it was torn down to make way for a new entrance to a shopping center (even though it's still listed in a Google search), the Falls View Grill on Route 3 would light one of the tiny pine trees in its minimal patch of landscaping at Christmastime. My favorite part was how they'd leave it on all night, so that I'd see it on my rides home in the wee hours. I just enjoy Christmas lights, but not too many people leave them on through the night. There are some homes that do along Route 3, but when we're cruising by at 50 mph, it's difficult to take in an entire house or block. But one tiny little tree is easy to see on Route 3.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A slothful New Year's Day

Before I get any more wrapped up in other internet distractions, it's time to get back to the personal blog. I've let it slide yet again, so in a last-ditch effort to bring myself back to it, I'm hoping to dedicate myself more to it in 2011.

Two years, ago, I pledged to take a photo a day and post it on my photo blog. Mission accomplished. Last year, the plan was to devote myself to more baseball blogging, and that has gone well -- though the photo blog suffered as a result, going from 418 entries in 2009 to 40 posts in 2010. This year, the goal is to update this one more frequently -- I'm not putting any requirements on it, but I'd like to shoot for at least four per month -- a once-a-week average -- while maintaining the same on the other two blogs. Maybe I'll get to it more (I could see myself jumping into this 110 percent, posting every day -- or close to it -- for the first week or so, until that pace proves to be too much and I slack off a bit), but I'd hope it's not any less than that.

I think part of the reason my visits here have waned is my use of Facebook and Twitter, where both sites allow me to post simple, quick thoughts without the need for elaboration. But what they don't provide is a journal-like record of my life, an easily read (or searched) log that I'll (presumably) someday use to look back, reflect and enjoy. Or something.

So let this stand as the record for Day 1 of 2011, when we spent the entire day lounging around Bryan's house -- Casey and me on the couch, Bryan and Lee on the air mattress on the floor -- and watched our way through six entire movies: Ghostbusters 1 and 2, Rushmore, Saved, Scrooged and The Royal Tenenbaums. Breakfast was Mickey Mouse waffle cakes (allegedly waffles, but they seemed more like pancakes to me); lunch was delivery (pizza for me) and dinner was takeout (gourmet mac and cheese with bacon).

I also spent a good part of the day with the laptop open, either watching bowl games (and Notre Dame-Syracuse basketball) online or working on my timelapse video of the New Year's Eve party. That effort follows. Happy New (blogging) Year!