Monday, December 31, 2007

Gunnar and the Five Princesses

Ding dong!
The door bell sounded around noon this crisp Sunday buy our friend Gunna. (Gunna travels from Norway two or three times a year to visit our neighbor Gloria). This day in his best Lake Woebegon accent, he wanted a ride to the waterfront to take some pictures. He has been asking Gloria and for three years she has been promising to take him, "maybe tomorrow".

Gunna is a former Norwegian Navy man. Following his military tour, he spent time in the Merchant Marines of his homeland before signing on to work ocean tugs out of Brooklyn. Gunna spent most of his life on the ocean and during his tug boat days visited the port of New Bedford.

The holidays bring most of the fleet of over 400 vessles home to the two ports of New Bedford and Fairhaven. Fairhaven is on the east side of the Acushnet River. New Bedford is the setting for the book, "Moby Dick", and Gunna spent some time in the local watering hole "Pequod" lounge, named after the ship in that novel. It's now Freestones City Grill

Whale watching boats in harbor.

The Mayflower


FV Westport

Lobster Pots

Gunnar and the Five Princesses

Rust Bucket

Dino getting ready to ship out

Gunnar overlooking the harbor

Nationa Whaling Historic Park, New Bedford Ma.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas 07

The night before at the Johnsons

The annual Christmas eve gathering at the Johnsons continues. Wifey and her best friend Donna have spent this day together since they were in grade school, and Dwight Eisenhower was in his first term.

Donna always servers a great dinner and Jack breaks out the "good stuff" for imbibing.

Dinner in Fairhaven

Christmas Day everything moves to Fairhaven. Both boys, Keith and Todd, were home for the holidays, and we also invited our friends, Gunna, who is visiting from Norway, and Jack, a friend from the YMCA. Inlaws, Jeff and gail brought the dinner party to eight.

Work kept me out of the way of the planning and preparation of dinner, but Sue got plenty of help from the boys.

Todd and Uncle Jeff talking sports undoubtably.

Our frined from the Y, Jack

Gunna and Keith

Todd and Jeff

Jack demonstrating the sitting Macarana to Sue.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


We got em'. The tickets.
Euro 2208? Nope
MLS CUP? Bigger.
World Cup? Getting warmer.

OK enough of the drama.
Andre Rieu is comming to Boston and lovely wife got us tickets as a Christmas Present.
What a gal.

Otherwise the day was quiet. I worked till 4PM and got home in time to entertain a few friends for dinner and some cheer. Neighbor wanted to go for a short Christmas ride but things did not work out. Maybe we'll do that tonight. The moon is still full enough to light up the MUP and the teperatures are holding in the mid to low 40's. We will definitely do a New Year day ride. I'll be at work and will probably have enough daylight by then to resume my commute. We'll see.

Monday, December 24, 2007

FCB Fairhaven. Jr. Division.

On Saturday afternoon the neighborhood kids were out in the street making bike jumping ramps out of snow. Jokingly I mentioned that the evening was the first day of winter solstace and the "cold full moon" was coming. "I always do a bike ride on the evening of the full moon", but decided to ride on Saturday to celebrate both. Four of us, Austin, Zack, Taylor and me, set out around 6PM but ended up having to postpone the Cold Moon Fiasco because of the ice. The melt during the day wet the roads and a quick temperature drop turned them into a sheet of ice. We tried riding and all of us ended up slipping, sliding and falling before anyone could get fifty yards. It was a hoot but we simply could not ride.

A decision was made to ride on Sunday night. The temperature during the day reached 50F which pretty much cleard the MUP of all moisture. The four of us set out at 6PM just as the moon was rising over the eastern horizon. We had to go early again becase my riding partners had to get home, seening that the oldest was 12.

The FCB Fairhaven was cancelled on this "cold full moon" replaced by the Jr. TFBC Fairhaven. I did spring for the first drink at Cumberland Farms, Sierra Mist for everyone. I also threw in a box of Ring Dings. As the religious gang says "Get em' young and you have them for life".

Eventually we'll have to adultify this ride, but for's a start.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Full Moon Fiasco, Cape Cod

Sunday the 23rd is the Full Cold Moon, the last of oh seven. A trip to Walgreens and $3.99 set of light will decorate the Marin. The Phoenix Path has been cleared of ice and is more than ride-able. It's not a popular event yet in the small village of Fairhaven Ma. but it's growing. In just over three months the Full Moon Fiasco rides, a product of this fine bike club, have increased in poplularity from zero to one rider. The plan is to double that number for this month's ride. It's daunting, but a proper incentive can complete the task. (I'll buy the first round for anyone who shows).

Come join us (me) on the 23rd at 8PM. We'll (I'll) meet at the the lot of the old Applebees and do a ride around Fairhaven, both on the MUP and around the side streets. There will be plenty of opportunities to warm up/fuel up at places like 99, Elizabeths, Ebb Tide, Towne Crier..... you know the places.

Welcome the return of the sun, and celebrate the cold moon.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Just When You Think Things Are Coming Around.

Two pretty good snow storms whacked us last week. My usual rides near home have to be partly on the local MUP and a two mile section of sidewalk to cross the New Bedford/Fairhaven bridge. The problem is that the sidewalk does not get cleared.
The traffic on the bridge can get testy, and riding it is very chancy, especially on a holiday weekend. Very rarely does a biker use the road when the sidwalks are available.

During the melt, the previous plowing of the MUP causes deep frozen ruts, making riding impossible. The past few days have given some warming temperatures and the rain today and tomorrow should clear the path nicely for the weekend. Riding in the city during the holidays can really be nice. It's all decorated and there are lots of families walking around doing all kinds of Christmassy stuff.

When the MUP is passable it's time to ride. A nice riding weekend in store? Could be. The only downer is that the bridge sidewalks have not been touched. That means there is a two mile long foot thick ice ball in the equation.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tis The Season

No one's really sure how long ago humans recognized the winter solstice and began heralding it as a turning point -- the day that marks the return of the sun. One delightful little book written in 1948, 4,000 Years of Christmas, puts its theory right up in the title. The Mesopotamians were first, it claims, with a 12-day festival of renewal, designed to help the god Marduk tame the monsters of chaos for one more year.

Many, many cultures the world over perform solstice ceremonies. At their root: an ancient fear that the failing light would never return unless humans intervened with anxious vigil or antic celebration.

There's much new scholarship about Neolithic peoples and their amazing culture. For example, it now looks as though writing is much more ancient than we earlier thought -- as much as 10,000 years old.

Neolithic peoples were the first farmers. Their lives were intimately tied to the seasons and the cycle of harvest. I'm certain they were attuned to the turning skies.

Scholars haven't yet found proof that these peoples had the skill to pinpoint a celestial event like solstice. Earliest markers of time that we've found from these ancient peoples are notches carved into bone that appear to count the cycles of the moon. But perhaps they watched the movement of the sun as well as the moon, and perhaps they celebrated it -- with fertility rites, with fire festivals, with offerings and prayers to their gods and goddesses.

A linguistic puzzle.

The rebirth of the sun.
The birth of the Son.

Christmas was transplanted onto winter solstice some 1,600 years ago, centuries before the English language emerged from its Germanic roots. Is that why we came to express these two ideas in words that sound so similar?

Winter solstice this year.

Winter solstice for 2007 will occur in North America on December 21 or 22, depending on your time zone. Chart for US time zones.

Happy Solstice. Let there be light

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Stormy Sunday

A stormy winter Sunday is not so bad. Naturally I would rather be outside biking or hiking, but there are things to do on a day like this.

There are some television channels that, on Sunday afternoons, show some great old movies. Hitchcock's "Rear Window", "Vertigo", "Notorious" and "The Wrong Man" are some of my favorites by him. There are also some more recent movies that I also find really good. Reservoir Dogs, Fargo, Dusk till Dawn, Babel, The Motorcycle Diaries to name a few.
Today however, I have three lined up,

"Snatch" with Brad Pitt, Del Toro, Dennis Farina et all

"Fearless" with Jeff Bridges

And the classic, "in the heat of the night" with Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger.

If nothing else they will help me get through the day at work.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Snow Stories

The forcasted ten inches of snow was right on the mark. As usual the weather service was correct. The flakes began falling lightly around noon and by one oclock the ground was covered with and inch or so. As the afternoon progressed, so did the intensity and accumulation.

People began leaving the office around 3PM. I went oustide to see the traffic backup up to my building, which is just under two miles from the entrance to the industrial park. Stories of people taking hours to thier destinations were everywhere. TV, radio, interned and personal tales. The one thing that was common was that very close to 100% of the cars, trucks, etc. had one occupant.

The point of this whole thing is that one occupant traveling is the way things are. Traffic moving very slowly in a storm is also natural as is complaining about it. I just find it ironic that the loudest complainers are the cause of the whole mess. Those solo drivers often in a vehicle built for 6-8 people.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Birthday Surprise

The view from our accommodations.

Wednesday was wifeys birthday and it was one of those milestone dates that end in zero. The boys and I had planned and connived for almost a year to make this one, a birthday to remember. (and to build some equity for me).

All she knew was that we were going away for a week and to bring tropical clothes. Her guesses had quite a range. Portugal, St. John USVI, Cuba, Panama, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands and on and on.

At the airport on Saturday the cat was let out of the bag as we boarded American Airlines direct flight to St. Thomas USVI. Shortly after landing we boarded the ferry to Cruz Bay in St. John. A short photo op filled taxi ride brought us to our accommodations at Maho Bay.

Maho Bay can best be described as summer camp for adults. The choice of accommodations is a tent, or a tree house. We chose the more ma and pa friendly, tree house. (they have hot water).

Lots of hiking, snorkeling and day trips filled the first part of the week.

The day before the "BIG" day. (the birthday), we decided to take a cruise over to the British Virgin Islands, and decided on Virgin Gorda. (the fat virgin), and a visit to "the Baths".

The Baths represent the stellar natural attraction of the British Virgin Islands, with exotic pools and grottos formed by giant boulders strewn across sand beaches. Explorers will revel in the hidden rooms with shafts of light, snorkelers in the coral ledges and caves, sunbathers/ swimmers in the white sand beaches adding to the sparkling clarity of the water

Also at the entrance to the Baths is the elegant but casual Top of the Baths restaurant, whose open air veranda has magnificent panoramic views. Relax with a painkiller or other frozen fruit drink in the fresh water pool designed right into the veranda. Favorites include lobster, conch and veggie burgers, lunch specials like grilled wahoo and baked chicken and such varied items as fillet mignon, pastas, char-broiled fresh fish such as mahi-mahi, jerk chicken, and broiled lobster.

Some of the "stellar Natural attractions"

Akeem our guide climbed up to get us coconuts. Only a couple had water but the ripe ones hit the spot for Sue.

Akeem harvesting coconuts.

opening the coconut.

Sue working a coconut.

working it

back on the boat, still working it.

Akeem did make on special presentation. Can't blame him, really.

It was time to leave Virgin Gorta for the Caves. A really neat snorkeling place with lots of fish and a really big barracuda named Barney.

The Caves

snorkeling the caves.

Barney the four foot barracuda.

Akeem feeding Barney.

On Sue's birthday, she and I went to lunch at Skinny Legs,, an eclectic place in Coral Bay. We were met there by Rick and Robin who run a private charter sail boat. Before we boarded however, the boys, Keith and Todd, hid below deck. Soon after we departed they came above deck to give Sue her final and best surprise. We shared a bottle of champagne and watched the sun set over Coral Bay.

Sue surprised by the boys.

The four of us.

Or neighbor the iguana.

Drunk Cove

Tapas at Miss Lucy's at Coral Bay.

Friendly goat at Miss Lucy's restaurant.

Our friend Martin from NJ via Switzerland.

Stephanie, Ginger, Pa and Ma.

Our new local friend Trevor

Homeward bound