2022 Life Logs, Day 22: Another Birthday Celebration

2022 Life Logs, Day 22: Another Birthday Celebration
Date: Saturday, January 22, 2022
Weather: A Tiny Bit of Snow Flurries; High Temp 29, Low Temp 23 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

Today was my friend Karen Baranowski’s birthday and the female half of our dining-in group took her out to lunch. This is something we started about five years ago with just three of us who knew each other prior to the formation of the dining-in group and then it just grew. It is a lovely to look forward to a birthday lunch each year with friends and today was no exception. Happy Birthday, Karen.

I continued my writing today and had a chuckle when I went out to lunch and ordered a double cheeseburger as big as the one Mark and I had in Tonga. I had been writing about it just before I left for lunch. Until today, I thought Tonga had the tallest, most impossible to eat burgers in the world. But today at Eli’s Tavern, I had one even bigger. I had checked out the menu online ahead of time and was all set to order a warm kale salad. But they had changed the menu and there was no salad on it that I wanted. In fact, there was really no appetizing veggie alternatives. Everyone else was ordering burgers, so I just went along. Here’s what I wrote in 2006 about cheeseburgers in Tonga: “Here a cheeseburger at the most expensive restaurant costs $15.00 Tongan which is $7.50US. But a cheeseburger here is about 6 inches high with layers of Canadian Bacon, cucumbers, green pepper, and tomato, in addition to the hamburger, and it comes with a huge helping of home fries. Not particular healthy, but lots of food.” The cheeseburger today cost more than twice what the ones in Tonga did in 2006, but it was at least 6 inches high. No Canadian Bacon, but onions, lettuce, and tomato. I ate the whole thing and have spent the rest of the day absolutely stuffed. Big is not always best!

2022 Life Logs, Day 21: Happy Birthday to My Grandson Sam

2022 Life Logs, Day 21: Happy Birthday to My Grandson Sam
Date: Friday, January 21, 2022
Weather: Light Covering of Snow; High Temp 25, Low Temp 22 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

Samuel Ellery Goldstone was the first of my five grandchildren and today he celebrated his 15th birthday. Happy birthday to my handsome, intelligent, talented, witty, and loving grandson. He towers over me these days, but still gives hugs. I thought it was interesting that when I started my writing today, I came across the very first time I ‘met’ Sam. Mark and I were preparing to leave Samoa for Tonga on Saturday, September 30, 2006, and we made one last trip into town to check our email and send Heather a happy birthday message at an internet café. While doing so, we received an email from Heather with an attachment. It was an ultrasound image of Sam in utero. I was so excited to ‘meet’ my first grandchild. He looks quite different fifteen years later. Happy birthday, Sam!

When Shadow and I got up this morning, I was surprised to see that the ground was white (just barely) with snow. At one point a few days ago, the forecast called for three inches of snow today. Then the forecast changed and indicated that any precipitation would be mostly rain. I was delighted to see the snow, as was Shadow. The only thing I did today rather than playing outside in the snow and writing was to finish the 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle Heather gave me for Christmas. It is a puzzle of about sixty family photos and was so much to work.

Tonight, I went to Heather and Jed’s for Sam’s birthday dinner. We had one of his favorites, meat pie, with potatoes, a salad, and a poppyseed birthday cake. After dinner, I was given a Monty Python crash course. Heather and Jed have both always loved Monty Python and now the kids do as well. I have a lot to learn. I always thought Monty Python was a person. At least now I know it was the name of the British comedy troupe, not an individual. I’ve never watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail, so now I must do that.

2022 Life Logs, Day 20: Tonga in the News

2022 Life Logs, Day 20: Tonga in the News
Date: Thursday, January 20, 2022
Weather: Cloudy with Icy Rain and a Tad of Snow; High Temp 44, Low Temp 23 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

As I am sure you are aware, five days ago, a “once in a millenium” underwater volcano erupted near the largest island in the Kingdom of Tonga doing what is reported as ‘significant damage’. And already when I turned the radio on in my car today, I heard a report on NPR about ‘rebuilding Tonga’. You know you just aren’t a very good person when hearing good news like ‘rebuilding’ makes you feel like someone just punched you in the gut. Don’t get me wrong. I am glad that New Zealand and relief effort groups are moving quickly. But five days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, I had just learned that my son and his family were alive because there was little if any communication with the island. What I had heard for five days was the US government downplaying the severity of what happened on the island of Puerto Rico. Thirteen days after Maria hit, our president made excuses saying, “The response and recovery effort probably has never been seen for something like this. This is an island surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water.” Well, Tonga is an island nation surrounded by ‘big water’ but good neighbor New Zealand is sending two Navy ships that will arrive there in three days after leaving New Zealand later this week. I will admit that the distance from New Zealand to Tonga is about 600 miles shorter than from the US to Puerto Rico, but I will bet that when those ships arrive, they will bring more than paper towels to the 100,000 people of Tonga. We couldn’t even manage to get tarps to the 3.3 million people in Puerto Rico to cover their roofless homes and prevent further water damage. It is reported that least 100 homes across the islands of Tonga have been damaged and at least 50 completely destroyed. Maria hit more than 786,000 homes in Puerto Rico, causing minor damage to some and completely sweeping away others. And this doesn’t even address the number of lives lost. It breaks my heart that we did not stand by Puerto Rico in her time of desperate need. I could go on and on, but I’ll end my ramp here and hope that we, the people of the United States of America, never let anything like that happen again. We need to elect good people to lead our country like the people of New Zealand did when they chose Jacinda Arden as their Prime Minister. And speaking of good people, this morning I read a guest opinion article in the New York Times by our national poet, Amanda Gorman. I highly recommend you read it. You can find it here: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/20/opinion/amanda-gorman-poem-inauguration.html?campaign_id=9&emc=edit_nn_20220120&instance_id=50806&nl=the-morning&regi_id=99411509&segment_id=80225&te=1&user_id=df242d437bb6ffa5b9baeb94d90223b1

I finished Chapter 16 of The Voyage of Windbird this afternoon. That chapter was about Samoa and tomorrow I will be headed on to Tonga. Yes, Tonga, found its way into my life for the second time today. While Mark and I were in Samoa, there was an underwater earthquake about half-way between Samoa and Tonga. It was a 6.7 on the scale but was 27 miles below the surface of the sea and did not trigger a tsunami. Also, there was a volcanic eruption in northern Tonga two months prior while we were in American Samoa and we were warned to avoid the huge pumice field that was floating between Tonga and Fiji as we headed onward. Thankfully, we did not encounter that pumice field in our travels to Tonga. More about that trip tomorrow.

2022 Life Logs, Day 19: Done and Begun

2022 Life Logs, Day 19: Done and Begun
Date: Wednesday, January 19, 2022
Weather: Sun Trying to Break Through Clouds, Windy; High Temp 54, Low Temp 42 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

Photo project . . . DONE. Long walk with Shadow . . . DONE. Huge batch of chicken broth . . . DONE. Writing project . . . BEGUN. It was a successful day! I even spent over an hour talking to family members that I haven’t talked to for quite some time and worked on my jigsaw puzzle. But I buckled down and finished that photo project that I have been working on for two years. I am so glad to have it done. And I really enjoyed getting back into my Voyage of Windbird writing project. Tomorrow I’ll finish Chapter 16 that I began last spring and head on to Tonga and then New Zealand to end the first year of Windbird’s voyage. In my mind, the project is a trilogy with year one the first book. It will feel good to get that much done. I have no idea if I will ever really publish, but I am determined to get the three books written.

The weather was not as delightful today as I had hoped. The high temp did get into the 50’s by mid-afternoon, but it just didn’t feel that warm. The wind was coming from the south, but it was an icy wind like what usually comes from the north. Shadow and I took a longer walk than usual and the sun really tried to break through the clouds. But I was not warm enough to tempt me to stay outside.

2022 Life Logs, Day 18: Taking a Deep Breath

2022 Life Logs, Day 18: Taking a Deep Breath
Date: Tuesday, January 18, 2022
Weather: Sunny and Windy; High Temp 47, Low Temp 28 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

I wanted to name this log cross-eyed and frustrated, but a took a deep breath and decided to let that frustration just roll away. I have hoped for days that I would be finished with my photo project. But no. I am still plugging away, and it really is making me feel cross-eyed staring at my computer for so many hours. The work is tedious, and I just want to be done. I am going to finish, one way or another, in the morning. Before the end of the day tomorrow, I am going to be writing. But the temperature tomorrow is going to be in the 50’s, so I am also going to want to take Shadow for a good, long walk. We might not see the 50’s for quite some time, so it seems a shame not to enjoy it. There are just so many hours in one day, so we shall see what I have to say about my declarations tomorrow night.

2022 Life Logs, Day 17: Heather and Family Return from Maine

2022 Life Logs, Day 17: Heather and Family Return from Maine
Date: Monday, January 17, 2022
Weather: Partly Sunny, Windy, Some Rain; High Temp 47, Low Temp 26 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

Heather, Jed, and the boys returned from their snowboarding/skiing weekend in Maine this afternoon. I got to hear all about their adventures when I had them over for dinner tonight. We feasted on some exceptionally good artichokes, four-cheese French bread compliments of a new recipe from the New York Times, and individual chocolate lava cakes from Trader Joe’s. The boys head back to school tomorrow after a three-day weekend and the rest of us get back to ‘normal’ life, whatever ‘normal’ is these days.

My landlord, neighbor, and friend, Shirley, came home today for a few weeks. Since her sister Doris had a stroke last summer, the two of them have been living at Doris’s home in Scituate. Shirley wants to be with Doris to keep her company, but she really wanted to come home for a short stint. It is great to have her next door and I really hope she enjoys her time here. After her husband died, I think in 2015, she and Doris have been living together. So being alone next door will be something she hasn’t experienced for a few years. Hopefully things will go well.