Monthly Archives: July 2013

Dead Things…

WARNING! GRAPHIC IMAGES BELOW. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!

Walking Andi down a quiet stretch of back road, near swampland and twisted, broken trees, there is an abundance of squashed fauna embedded in the asphalt.

These poor hapless creatures didn’t stand a chance. A frog weighing in at five ounces faced against a hurtling metal behemoth weighing in at 3,000 pounds, well, there’s no contest, is there?

Frogs, moles, mice, baby birds, chipmunks, turtles, squirrels, opossums, skunks, and other assorted and indeterminate creatures litter the tarmac, their poor torn bodies crushed and fly-ridden, left as mere fodder for maggots and crows.

If they could talk (I mean, in human language, as I’m sure a turtle or chipmunk have their own brand of communication), what would their stories have been?

For instance, coming across a frog that appears relatively intact, I wonder where he was going and where he came from. Was he having an illicit love affair with Ms. Toad down the road? Did his frog wife suspect anything? Was he out carousing with some of his amphibian pals, having a stiff drink of bog juice at the local watering hole? Was he a tad tipsy as he hopped across the road in the wee morning hours?

Just minding his own business, perhaps formulating a few white lies for his patient wife, maybe give her a bouquet of dead flies as an offering and then—BLAM!—a ’67 Nova driven by a slacker mechanic  with his own set of woes runs him over. Not enough to squash him, though. Just enough head trauma to allow him a few more moments of life, for him to wonder just what in hell had hit him.

He lies on the side of the road face up, staring at the swaying branches of pine above, watching as a lone heron flies high overhead, and hears his comrades off in the distance, tuning up their banjos for the evening’s symphony at dusk.

He lies there with his lies, and wonders what will become of him. He knows only a few more breaths are his and that soon he will croak, and croak no more.

Just one tale among many lifeless tails out there dotting the pavement everywhere. We humans think nothing of splattering a frog, or a bug, or even the occasional squirrel. Nope. There’s impact, and then we’re gone. And so are they.

So what the hell am I driving at here, when I’m not driving along back country roads? It’s just a simple message, really; to pay more attention to what may be out there ahead of you, hopping or skipping or jumping or slithering or leaping or walking across the road. Try to make the effort to save a turtle or a blind hairless mole rat that may be dawdling across your path.

Hey, they all have stories and lives and loved ones waiting for them at home. Just like us. So have a little more respect for the fauna that may just scoot in front of you.

(And Buddha forbid those who nail a black cat crossing your path. )

There’s an old bumper sticker out there that’s rather apropos. It read, “My Karma ran over my Dogma.”

And as we all know, karma can be a bitch.

So keep an eye out for that female dog that may bound in front of your Beemer.

That’s all I’m saying. A li’l courtesy for critters.

And for all those who bypassed my writing and skipped directly to the gory photos?

Well, there aren’t any. What kind of psycho do you think I am?

If you did scroll, man, you are one sick puppy.

©Paul Grignon, 2013, All Rights Reserved.

Dog Daze of…Summer!

“Hot ‘nough for ya?”

Are you, too, tired of hearing this oft-repeated hackneyed query during the summer months? Perhaps if Andi could talk he’d say the same thing. Poor Andi. He does not fare well in these humid conditions. But he dutifully goes for his three or four walks a day.

“C’mon, Andi. Ready to go?”

 ‘Ugh. Not again. Sigh.’

Here’s  a shot of us down at the Westville Dam, taken before we moved to our new digs.

Bike and Run with Andi & Jace

Bike and Run with Andi & Jace

Me, my son Jace, and Andi walking along a dirt path. Julie took this enchanting photo. (It’s rare to get our son on his bike, so we managed to get two things accomplished; Jace on his bicycle and Andi for his walk.) Here’s another just walking this time.

Out for a Stroll

Out for a Stroll

Since we moved into our new place on June 1st, we have done quite a bit to the house and environs. Our four pets have acclimated nicely to the huge place, and both Miles and Boo love to haunt the spacious barn.

As you can see by this next photo, Maggie has cottoned to Andi. Can you believe it?

Maggie and Andi

Maggie and Andi

We are amazed by their antics together. She is such a flirt. She’ll stroll into the living room, knowing full well that Andi is there, and start to strut her feminine feline magic.

Andi bounds from the couch and towers over her, not really sure what to do. But he is clearly enamored with her. He’ll lie down in front of her and slowly approach and do a little jig around her.

I think she just wants to be licked, much like when Boo does that to her. She is the spoiled queen of the house.

Boo and Andi during  nap.

Boo and Andi napping after their exhaustive antics.

Andi and Boo have their own strange relationship. Andi just wants to play with Boo, but Boo will have none of it. Andi does his usual prancing around Boo, and Boo will unleash a double-pawed mitt at him, replete with razor-sharp talons. So far Andi has proved quite adept at darting away before being sliced to ribbons.

They will keep this up for 10-20 minutes at a stretch, and Julie has some footage on tape so perhaps at some point I’ll post it. It is quite hilarious watching this exchange between cat and dog.

Since we’ve had a heat wave of late (come to think of it, this is the 3rd of the young summer) a slew of air conditioners have been going full force. Andi will lie for hours in one of the rooms, and on more than one occasion I have searched for him, only to find him curled up in his crate in our bedroom.

I can see why. It’s dark and cool and rather comfortable. Makes me want to squeeze in next to him and take a nap. But other things beckon.

Like finishing our living room. And here is the result of our efforts.

Living Room Update, 1...

Living Room Update, 1…

Living Room Update, 2

Living Room Update, 2

Remember those pics from a blog or two ago? Well, here is the same room, replete with tan paint and curtains and other accoutrements.

Not bad, eh? Oh, and we just purchased these odd shaped chairs from an estate sale.

Boo at rest.

Boo at rest.

A different color paint and they’ll be a nice addition. Despite their squat appearance, they are incredibly comfortable, as evidenced by Boo’s massive sprawl.

Next up, Cam’s room. Unfortunately, whoever wallpapered this room, they forgot to prime the walls. It’s nearly impossible to remove the paper, so we’ll prime it with an oil based primer, then use latex paint over that. I think that will work. Any suggestions or advice?

All in all this summer is shaping up okay. Jace is in camp, and since I am not presently working (other than an odd modeling gig here and there. And sometimes they can be rather odd…) I watch Andi and take him for his dreaded walks.

Our three cats and one dog seem to enjoy our place immensely and it’s nice to know they all get along quite spectacularly. Although Miles keeps  a wary eye out for Andi. He doesn’t particularly relish Andi’s playfulness.

Andi continues to be a joy and a wonder, and I thoroughly enjoy playing tag with him in the yard and going on our multitude of walks. He is a love.

Andi with his toys.

Andi with his toys.

I continue to be amazed at how much I am, after all these years, a dog person after all. Who knew such a thing was possible?

Next up:  Dead Things (no, not what you think…)

©Paul Grignon, 2013, All Rights Reserved.

Respite in Rhode Island…

With the boys and Andi tucked away for the week at their Dad’s, Julie and I decided to take a mid-week break from our labors and engage our spirits by the sea.

This past July 3rd arrived hot and steamy, even at 8am, and by 10 we were on our way. (You have to relax and enjoy a few cups of joe before venturing out, especially when on vacation.)

The itinerary for the day was to park at Colt State Park in Bristol, ride our bikes along the East Bay Bike Path, have a decadent nosh at the Daily Scoop in Barrington, return to the park, and then wend our way to one of our favorite Newport haunts, Brenton Point.

And that is exactly what we did.

There was more to it, of course. There always is.

Parking at the Colt State Park presented no problems, although one does tend to encounter braying herds of families, all crushed and gathered under shade trees, barking and screeching to their crowded offspring, while 20 grams of fat per hot dog link bubbles and blackens on a pathetic charcoal grille.

We hurriedly exited such a scene.

Colt State Park Photo Courtesy of tripadvisor,com

Colt State Park
Photo Courtesy of tripadvisor,com

An explosion of cumulus greeted our egress, the clouds spanning the entire sky, reminiscent of a Constable oil. A few patches of blue poked through, and a lone white heron stood tall and serene in the marsh at low tide.

Since it was a Wednesday, traffic along the trails was light. We actually had the chance to ride side by side for the most part, and it was a pleasant way to travel. At times we remained silent, mesmerized by the shimmering bay, where thousands of pixels of sunlight danced upon slow, undulating seas.

Passing the 47-acre Jacob Point Salt Marsh in Warren, we pedaled and listened to the myriad of birds that flitted and chittered through the sawgrass and cattails. It remains a beautiful sanctuary for many species of birds and animals alike.

The sun sparkled in the distance and a soft warm breeze embraced us. At times, when verdant boughs failed to provide welcome shade, the sun seared our skin. It was smart to have slapped on sunscreen prior to our excursion.

Stopping in Barrington, we parked our bikes and ascended the stairs to the Daily Scoop. This place is, by far, the best establishment for ice cream. They also have a sister store in Bristol. But make sure you bring cash; no credit or debit cards accepted.

Julie opted for the coconut almond joy and I had the double fudge brownie. One scoop is enough to sate your sweet tooth (although for 50 cents more you can get a 2nd scoop. But we are not gluttons.)

After consuming these delectable treats we wound our way back to Colt State. From there, a longer-than-necessary trip to Newport.

Well, I should clarify that; it shouldn’t have taken as long as it did but somehow we can never remember the easiest, and quickest, way to Brenton Point. We got tangled up in impossibly narrow roads and ended up taking a rather circuitous route. What a bother.

But soon we were on Ocean Avenue, heading toward our destination, where we hoped to plop down in beach chairs and soak up the sun.

But it was not to be.

As we navigated the serpentine road, a massive and recalcitrant fog bank swept in and swallowed the sun. The seas picked up, and a cold wind lashed the shoreline. This truculent chunk of dense grayness reduced mansions near Gooseberry Beach to ghostly silhouettes.

Despite the sudden and dreary conditions, we shouldered on and parked. Foolishly, I had failed to pack warmer garments for just such an occurrence. One never knows how the weather will be directly on the coast.

Still, we lugged our chairs and coolers to a bluff, set up and wrapped ourselves in feeble blankets. Buffeted by strong onshore winds and specked with froth from tormented seas, we didn’t last too long.  A lone gull glided by, taken along by the stiff breeze. It briefly glanced our way and was quickly swept away, vanishing into the impenetrable fog.

Who could have imagined such a temperature change? It must have plummeted thirty degrees from our time in Bristol!

We stayed long enough for me to take these few pitiful pictures. This one was of a sign that read, ‘Danger! Stay off the rocks.’ But right next to it there was a sturdily built ladder, beckoning all to scoff at such signage and descend.  But not today.

Warning Sign (somewhere in the mist...)

Warning Sign
(somewhere in the mist…)

Here’s a pic of my Love in the mist.

My Beloved

My Beloved

As you can see, the fog was rather opaque, enveloping everything in swirls of briny dampness. It was that odd stickiness, like after you’ve come out of the ocean and attempt to dry your hands on wet towels laced with stubborn sand.

We did not tarry.

Crossing the Newport Bridge (the Clairborne Pell Bridge to those who are particular) gave hope to sunny skies ahead. Jamestown was lit in brilliant light, and as we crested the bridge a distant bay was set aglow, like a shimmering pool of liquid silver.

The Jamestown Bridge (or the Verrazzano) gave us a slight reprieve from the insistent fog bank. To the left we could see how long the bank extended. It did not look promising for Narragansett.

But still we continued on, past Narragansett Beach, where beach-weary patrons lined up in various stages of undress, all waiting for food offered from a BBQ truck or a pizza truck.

I suppose their caloric intake wasn’t enough for the day; stale-chipped nachos with fake cheese, gargantuan soft pretzels with exorbitant price tags, grilled slabs of gray burgers, and preposterously priced flavored ice did not satiate these rubescent pinguid folk. Sustenance was needed in order to plod their way back to their respective cars.

Turning around, we started our journey home. All in all it was an enjoyable stay in Rhode Island, albeit, one somewhat truncated by the weather. Now, as I write this from the comfort of the back yard, on July 9th, instead of a wall of seawater greeting my gaze, an expanse of greenery encompasses my world, the long stretch of lawn a poor substitute for sand.

Cars traveling along Route 84, directly behind me, almost sound like distant crashing breakers. Almost.

Only the scent of suntan lotion hints of our foray to the coast. But sitting here, with a soft, delicate warm breeze, it remains  a peaceful reminder of our slight yet soothing sojourn.

Coming up: Dog Daze of Summer…

©Paul Grignon, 2013, All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the Walls Come Tumblin’ Down…

Well, actually the wallpaper. The walls have withstood over 200 years holding up this house so I surmise their demise is still quite distant.

This past week, since Julie had a well-deserved week off of work (she works so hard, damn it, she deserves more!) and the boys were firmly ensconced at their Dad’s house hither, we finally decided to tackle the living room walls.

Old Wallpaper

Old Wallpaper

Here is how the wallpaper appeared before we embarked on this arduous task. There were actually two layers of wallpaper, and the first wallpaper design was actually quite pleasing. Here’s a close-up of it.

The Two Layers

The Two Layers

If the top layer had peeled off easily, we would have been quite pleased to leave the first layer as is. What do you think?

But it was not to be. At times, only mere shreds were held between our hands. It was a bonanza when a few great sheaths sloughed off the walls, long curls that revealed bruised and battered walls.

Wallpaper removed, with spackle.

Wallpaper removed, with spackle.

Wallpaper gone.

Wallpaper gone.

I know. It looks as though we had repaired holes from a fusillade of bullets. I must admit it does appear as a war zone.

In some areas, horsehair was visible. It was not until we had scraped away the last vestige of wallpaper did we deign to peruse the internet to see if there were any health hazards involved when removing decades-old wallpaper attached to plaster and horsehair.

After the fact, we found out that there was a possibility of encountering anthrax spores. What great news! I suppose we should have been wearing masks the whole time. But since a few days have passed, and we’ve primed and first-coated the walls, and the fact that we are still standing, I guess we managed to avoid that hideous disease.

These next pics are of the bare walls, warts and all, and the first coat of primer, and the end result with a nice layer of tan. There are so many pockmarks and gouges and cracks in the walls that we must add another coat.

Craters and crevices...

Craters and crevices…

Primer...

Primer…

First coat of paint.

First coat of paint.

First cot again...

First coat again…

But still, despite the unevenness of the surface, it adds a certain old world charm to it, as though these walls have been around for centuries. Well, more than the two centuries they have endured, I should say.

Next in line, the kitchen. Here is how the kitchen appears now, with its mustard color and red wallpaper.

Here...

Here…

...and here.

…and here.

The paper is coming down, more tan paint will grace the walls, and a nice light green will coat the cupboards. (It is amazing, though, how many people prefer the way it looks now.)

Oh, and here are a couple of photos of the dining room walls. I had to show you these. Now you can understand why we switched the dining and living rooms.

Stenciled Room

Stenciled Room

Close-up

Close-up

...and one more.

…and one more.

It seems that when the owner scraped away the wallpaper he found these original hand-painted stencils. Under no circumstances does he want us to paint over it. Our twelve year old refers to this room as the one filled with smiley faces. (I suppose they somewhat look like that; to me, they appear as funerary boats you see on Egyptian hieroglyphs, the kind used to ferry a pharaoh to his final resting place.)

When we do venture into the kitchen for demolition, we’ll be sure to don masks. After all, Julie and I certainly do not want to encounter the effects of that pesky Bacillus anthracis.

That, and a nuclear bomb can ruin your entire day.

Drop me a line. Let me know your thoughts on both rooms.

Should the kitchen stay as it is?

Coming soon: More Dog Daze of…Summer!, and our Trip to Rhode Island. Stay tuned!

 

©Paul Grignon, 2013, All Rights Reserved.