Guest Post: Gone Mild’s Review of Brill Bruisers by New Pornographers (Album of the Week)

Dan is having some WordPress issues, so he asked me to post his review of this week’s album.


I missed the rise of the The New Pornographers.  During the early 2000s, I was listening to NPR news programs and MP3s of songs and bands I already knew. Blissfully unaware of The New Pornographers, I had no idea who they were or what they sounded like.  I suppose I probably heard a few of their songs somewhere mixed into a soundtrack or something, but they were a nullity to me until Robin chose this album for our series of reviews.

On first listen, I got distracted by the gloss and didn’t really hear the music.  In my own defense, this is slick power pop, perfect for background music while you’re driving or focusing on other things.  It’s pretty and it’s energy – you don’t need to pay attention to enjoy this album.  You can skip along the surface of this album in a way that you simply cannot with something like Lucinda Williams yowling over a steel guitar.

By the second listen, though, I started to appreciate what is going on here.  This is a group of hardworking, talented musicians who know how to put a song together.  In the second song, Champions of Red Wine, I felt like they were calling me out:

We’ve waves to root for

You’re coming over

You’ve done your research

It has the force of water

And we’ve got a lot here

There is a lot there.  The band is packed – guitars, synthesizer, drums, harmonies, bass, lush production, etc..  At 8 members, this is not a band to hire for your house party.  The album comes across like the big project that it was – no corners cut, no expenses spared, no off notes tolerated.

Soul music this is not.  If you played this album in a Mississippi blues joint, the place might collapse – or, to make the metaphor more accurate, it might explode from the energy and buoyancy packed into this album.  This is car music, meant to be played on a summer day with the windows down.  It’s not something you would sit down in your easy chair to sip whiskey or even chamomile tea to.

That’s not to say that the album is shallow or inane, because it isn’t.  There is a joy that pervades the music, but the penultimate song on the album warns:

You’ve proved your poison is more than noise

And the joy’s addictive although restrictive

Fan baby beware, I’m not always square

By no means is this a deeply poetic album to be parsed for meaning like an early Dylan bootleg or a Joan Baez number, but songs like “War on the East Coast” and “Another Drug Deal of the Heart” keep the album from being lightweight dance music, to be spun and forgotten.

I’ll be going back to listen to the albums of The New Pornographers that I missed during the start of the century.  That’s one of the reasons I am so enjoying the project of choosing new albums to listen to on a mostly-weekly basis.  It’s too easy to get calcified listening to great musicians like Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen, while totally ignoring the bands who are doing new things brilliantly.

Next up: Diploid Love, by Brody Dalle


Last Week’s Good Things


Cover Photo – Grace Connors!!

I am definitely late, and I am certainly tired, but if I don’t acknowledge the good things from last week, it will be a pity. It was Thanksgiving week, after all. The whole week was meant to recognize the good things. Here are five for me. Tell me one of yours if you care to!


  1. Sharing – We travelled to New Orleans for Thanksgiving again this year. On Thanksgiving day, Ali went to Jose’s house for an early Thanksgiving dinner and then they both returned to her house where we indulged in dinner #2. Halfway across the country in New York, Sam was spending his Thanksgiving holiday both with his job responsibilities and getting to know Jean’s family. Over the days that her family was in New York, they got to hang out, watch movies, and cook together. Their Thanksgiving meal – observed over Instagram – included a massive piece of beef and Yorkshire pudding.  Ten years ago, it would have been hard for me to envision a time that I could feel okay about not having the complete control over everyone in our little family. Now, I realize that isn’t realistic nor fair. Both of our kids let us into their lives and seem to always enjoy our time together. However it happens; whenever it happens – it is a good thing. 
  2. Harmonica Playing Co-pilot – Not only did we have seamless travel to and from New Orleans, but we also had the pleasure of the Airtran harmonica playing co-pilot. This guy was awesome. He communicated with us through the flight with quite the monologues, and then he played a little ditty on his harmonica followed by “do I hear a woop, woop?” at which point, the cabin gave a woop woop. It was completely charming and fun.  DSCF7765
  3. Cybil at Borgne – For our last dinner in New Orleans, we went to John Besh’s new restaurant, Borgne. It is moderately upscale, but very comfortable. The menu was rich with seafood and fresh local ingredients. Sitting at our table, we were introduced to our server, Cybil. During the time that we were in the restaurant, Cybil provided perfect service. She charmed us with her warmth. She educated us with her knowledge of the menu and the processes behind it. The restaurant has a focus on craft beers, and Cybil knew her beers. There was one dish that involved a 7 day process of smoking a pork loin, crispy bits, mixing, and putting it into a pastry. Her description almost sounded as good as it actually was. There was a cocktail that was described as drinking a hug – yep! Our meal at Borgne was a delight, but Cybil made it memorable.  brees
  4. Fleurty Girl – Saturday was designated as Small Business Saturday where all of us crazy holiday shoppers were encouraged to eschew the lure of the big businesses and purchase at small local shops. We walked around the French Quarter area this weekend and one of the places that we stopped in was Fleurty Girl. I have bought things from them on-line before, but this was my first live encounter. It is what a small local business does best. In a very limited amount of space, this business displays jewelry, decorative items, clothing, paper goods, and other tchotchkes that are unique to New Orleans, but that also make the visitor want to take them home as a memorable souvenir. I did a good job of celebrating the Small Business at Fleurty Girl. Where else would you find a gem like the St. Brees candle?
  5. Celebrating an Anniversary – We got home from our trip on Saturday and were pretty tired. Our calendar, however, reminded us that we had Emily and Kyle’s anniversary party that night. The party started early – a bonus for us. Arriving early, we had time to hang out, chat with both Kyle and Emily, and enjoy their other early arriving friends and families. We apologized for our wimpyness and left early. Even though our visit was short, we both got the nice feeling of being part of a couple’s celebration of their first year of marriage. They have lots of adventures ahead of them.

Last Week’s Good Things

Oct20Because of travel, this week was quite discombobulated. We got back into town on Wednesday. I went to work on Thursday – which was a day full of meetings followed by cooking dinner at Ronald McDonald House. Friday, I kept as my regular day off because I knew I needed a day to get many of the projects done before Ali and Jose come for their visit this week. Going into the new week, I feel like I am back on track and kind of caught up. In the midst of the confusion giving way to order, here is my shortened list of good things!

A Gloomy, Cold Autumn Day – I know that sounds less than good, but when you get to spend said “gloomy, cold, autumn day” in your warm, cozy house, it is a very good thing. Friday started out dreary and then proceeded to bring it on big time for the rest of the day. It was cold enough that at one point I looked at the temperature inside of the house and it was 58 degrees. That was enough to prompt me to turn on the furnace for the first time  this season. The boiler kicked on (also a very good thing!), and the steam heat started filling the rooms. Outside it was gray and misty. Inside it was warm and the chaos of an untended house was being put back in order. By the end of the day, the house was clean. In the freezer I found some spaghetti sauce with smoked sausage. I got that out, and when Dan came home, I heated that up and boiled some delicious Italian pasta that, I think, was Casarecce (I threw away the bag without paying attention). The sauce was thick and rich, and I tossed the just al dente noodles into it. The noodles soaked up some of the sauce and made for a pretty spectacular pantry meal. A glass of red wine. Good company. Wonderful food. Our house. Great gloomy, cold, autumn day.

pansyPansies – I wanted to brighten up our front step and some of the flower containers that have petered out with lack of end-of-the-summer attention. One of my favorite flowers is the pansy. They come in so many beautiful colors and some of them have that distinctive little face. On Saturday, we went to the garden center and I bought a flat of dark purple pansies. At home, I planted them around the house. Some went in with other things. Some went in an empty space in the ground. Some got their own container. They already have perked up the surroundings. Going out to get the paper this morning, just seeing them made me happy. What also makes me happy is knowing that these pansies are winter beasts! Almost always, a pansy planted in the fall will continue to grow and survive the winter here. When the first warmth of spring comes, there they will be again!

CC-Show_My-Grandmothers-Ravioli_s602x60My Grandmother’s Ravioli – Usually, I can take or leave Mo Rocca. I watch some of his stuff on the Cooking Channel or The Food Network, but it is usually due to not having anything better to watch. Yesterday, I was skirting through my go-to channels and I landed on the Cooking Channel’s My Grandmother’s Ravioli. The premise of this show is that Mo Rocca’s Grandma was a great cook and made epic meals, but, he never learned from her how to make them himself. In each episode, he visits some grandparent and spends time cooking with them. The episode I landed on was Mo cooking with Clara Corrado. Clara is 94, lives in Philadelphia and has a set of great grandson triplets who are all in the military. Part of the show was Mo and Clara making Care Packages for them. The repartee between the two was totally charming. The viewer finds out that Clara likes Korean shows and she invited Mo up to her bedroom to watch some videos. There is dancing and some singing. There is good natured teasing and some touching memories recollected. Mo totally seems like he is enjoying the experience. The episode sold me and I went on to watch three more episodes. One was an African American woman in South Carolina who took Mo to church with her and he sang with her in the choir. One was a body-builder grandpa in Florida who was standing in for his dad, who was supposed to be the one featured on the show. Sadly, he passed away shortly before the filming. This is by no means intellectually stimulating time spent, but showing such fun interactions around food and family met my requirements for good television.

It looks like it is going to be a beautiful autumn week here in the Midwest. I am excited for my girl to be coming home for a few days and getting to meet Jose. Already there is goodness around the week ahead!

Last Week’s Good Things

notebookThis is the New York City version of this week’s good things.  Because I was out of town over a weekend, it also is a very loose version of what “last week” means. Traveling does that to you!

It all started with the fact that I was extremely lucky to get chosen to go to a training sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. Added to this was the fact that my hospital supported me going. The conference was in New York City and started last Friday and went through the weekend. I tacked on a few personal days on the end so Dan could come in and we could spend time with Sam and Jean. Oh, what a great time it was.

From a slew of many, here are a few of last week’s good things:


The People of New York City – It seems a cliche to give the people of New York a hard time for being pushy and difficult. On this trip, I have to say, I very much noticed the kindness of people everywhere. I arrived in the city late Thursday, Once I checked into my hotel, I went around the corner to have a bite to eat. I was the only one in the restaurant and I am sure that everyone was ready to go home. Rather than feeling a nuisance, I was treated graciously and did not feel rushed in the slightest. I noticed the same kind of feeling everywhere I went. Walking along busy streets, I noticed that people went out of their way to apologize if they bumped into you. In the subway I got a few “excuse me” and “pardon mes.” Particularly in businesses, I was treated warmly and appreciatively. We buy into stereotypes too easily. chambers

The Municipal Archives – Tuesday morning I went to the Municipal Archives of New York City. I had been in touch with the staff there for a couple years. When I knew that I would be coming to visit, I really got serious. The staff had located some documents that were potentially helpful to the research that I am doing. I was going to be able to get there and look at them! The archives are located at 31 Chambers Street amongst all of the city government buildings. These buildings are pretty awesome to behold. We made our way to the location on a Tuesday morning after a Monday holiday. The subway was jam packed, but easily negotiable. Once I got to the archives and checked in, I became a little worried. We could not find my request. With assistance from the helpful staff, we located the papers and I was able to get to work. It was great! All around the spacious room, people were delving into boxes of records or microfilm. The staff walked about answering questions. There was a young man sitting next to us looking at city planning records dating back to who knows when. Two brothers were looking up family history prior to  taking a journey to Eastern Europe. For my part, while the records that I had to look at didn’t reveal much that I didn’t know, there were many interesting things that I found and I made copies of to bring home. It also made me so thankful that items associated with an event that happened more than eighty years ago were filed away in a box and someone from the midwest can send an email and have those items waiting for her when she comes for a visit!  2013-10-15 10.22.41

Meeting Some New FriendsAlso associated with my research, I got to meet a couple more family members of my research characters. We met J and his daughter for breakfast on Monday morning. We spent a delightful meal getting to know each other and recounting how all of this happened. I also got to hear about A’s special stuffed animal who shared breakfast with us. Because of this breakfast venture, I now know what Halloween costume is perfect for a seven year old growing up in New York City – Eloise, of course! I also clearly understood, once again, what a gift I have been given to find this story. I continue to try to write this history up well. In the process, I have uncovered some interesting things, that I have been able to share with kind, welcoming, accommodating family members. Meeting some new family members and being so warmly welcomed for what I have done was humbling. samandjean

Sam and Jean – As a parent, you want to see  your children in happy relationships. Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole heck of a lot you can do to secure such a thing. You try to model well, but even that can be challenging. In the end, you just have to hope. So, the best part of the trip was getting to spend time with Sam and Jean. It was our second chance to meet Jean, and it proved to be quite great.  I smile just thinking about how good I think that they are together. They seem to make each other laugh a lot – which I think speak volumes. They appeared caring to each other in many ways. On Sunday night we got to take Jean out to dinner without Sam as he was working. It felt easy and comfortable. A very good thing for the week!  2013-10-15 12.10.19bouchon

Food of New York – This trip provided an over the top food experience. Due to the good food connections that Sam and Jean bring to the table, we had two nights where fabulous New York City chefs cooked for us. At Bouchon Bakery and Cafe in the Time Warner Center, we got treated courses that ranged from a beautiful potato soup to a peanut butter and jelly dessert presentation.  At Blue Hill in Greenwich Village, the table kept producing more  treats like fresh local vegetables perfectly seasoned with salts, a chicken dish with mushrooms and a tomato sauce that was unforgettable and a pumpkin seed candy that spoke autumn. We also had some nice Belgian inspired food at Resto. Delicious tacos in Brooklyn. Decadently greasy burger and fries at Shake Shack. Chewy wood-fired pizza and yummy appetizers at Franny’s in Sam and Jean’s Prospect Heights neighborhood. Goodness!

It was a fun week. Getting out of town and spending time with co-workers, thinking about how we can do our work more effectively, was inspiring. Spending time in an iconic city inspired me to understand the world in a better way. Enjoying food in an indulgent way was, nonetheless, magnificent. Being with people I love was more than good.

Talking With Strangers


A very distinct childhood memory that I have is being in the “major” department store near our town. I was with my mom. I may have been seven or eight. I don’t remember either of my other sisters there – just me – and we were probably buying some clothes for me. The saleslady asked me a question, and rather than answer her, I cowered behind my mother and did not say a word. My mother did not say anything at the time, but later she let me have it. When people talked to me, I was to answer.

​Flash forward twenty years. I am fairly newly married. Recently moved to a new city. A new mom. As an independent person, I did pretty well creating my own routines. Nothing screamed out to me that I really didn’t know many people, and that I certainly hadn’t made any friends in this new life. That was, until I went out of my comfort zone and it became evident to me that it was true. And then I would get mad at everyone else.

​It made sense. Here I was, am educated, funny, young woman who had just embarked on this amazing journey of motherhood. Why wouldn’t all of these co-workers or new friends of my husband be clamoring to get to know me? We didn’t go out too often, but I remember many occasions when we would go home and I would complain or just clam up because no one talked to me; or that people asked me one question and then that was it. I blamed them, but then I started blaming myself. Maybe I was just too boring. I was happy with my life of staying home and taking care of my baby and then babies, but I got that maybe it wasn’t of much interest to people who weren’t there in their own life. So, for awhile, I langoured in the self-indulgent temperament that it was what it was – so be it.

​I guess that period of my life didn’t last a huge long time, but it kind of feels like it did. When one is willing to accept a situation that doesn’t make you happy, it can be a burden. When I would go into a social situation accepting that people wouldn’t be interested in me, how could good things possibly result? I was back in that situation where I would hide behind my mother and not say a word.
​But the lesson that I learned gradually – and sadly, I am still needing to push myself on this years later – is that there are very few people out there who are perfectly comfortable or really good at walking up to a stranger – or a barely known person – and engage that person in a conversation. It is hard. And when you have other people around you who you know and are comfortable with, why would you take the time and effort needed to talk with someone new.

​I can’t answer that question for everyone. For me, working at it has made me happier with myself. I can now be that person who talks to the person who no one seems to be talking with, and I can kind of keep a conversation going. I am not great at it by any means, but I am getting pretty good at asking questions and drawing people out. It sometimes leads to reciprocation where the person tries to get to know me better, but, I have to say, that it doesn’t always. People almost always like to talk about themselves. I like to hear about people. It is a good match.

​In essence, there is still a great deal of that little girl who hid behind my mother in me. What is different, however, is that I am a person who relishes the other people in my life that have come into my life in ways that required me to be open and interested and interesting. I would never have those people in my life if I hid myself.

I never know when the next great connection will be made. I also know that every time I push myself to talk to someone that I don’t know or barely know, it gets easier. I learn something. Part of me hopes that the person enjoyed the chance to get to know me a little bit better.

Last Week’s Good Things

DSCF7556October is here! Ignoring the government shutdown –  that seems anything but good – these are some of the good things that brightened my week:

Google Chat – Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s there would be crazy predictions about what the future would look like. It was a little bit cool like The Jetsons with automated everything. It was also a little scary with technology that you weren’t sure what it would mean. One of those scary tech-y predictions was the video phone. What if someone called you up and you were just getting out of the shower? or you looked bad? or you were with someone you weren’t supposed to be with??? The concept I had in my mind, was one in which you wouldn’t have a choice. Either your phone calls were all video, or they weren’t. That is not how it turned out. We now have ways to make video connections when we want them. We can talk to family and friends as long as they have a computer and a camera. It is a wonderful thing. This week, we got to spend some time talking with Ali, Sam and Jean. It was unscheduled and fun. We got to see Banjo, some of Sam and Jean’s apartment, and Ali modelling her amazing 816 hoodie. This version of the Jetsons is just right.

DSCF7551_2Wentworth Homecoming, Lexington Applefest and VW in a Parade – This weekend was the homecoming at Wentworth. Dan and the staff at the school put so much time and effort into this. Their goal was to create a happy and memorable time for alumni coming back to meet up with old friends and new. I got to share in some of the festivities over the weekend. Not only did the attendees have a perfect autumn weekend, but they seemed to be having so much fun with one another. I have learned that attending a military school can lead to adventures and misadventures. I got to hear of a few, and I know that many more were shared among the alumni. As part of the weekend, the school organizes a parade that goes down the Main Street of Lexington. Lexington is a classic little Missouri river town. Over the past years, they have been working to grow their downtown with businesses and renovation. There is a nice little bookstore and some neat antique stores. The Spotted Pig serves cold beers and good food. Coinciding with Homecoming was the Lexington Apple Fest. Along Main Street, vendors sold crafts, antiques, and apples. Around 1:30 on Saturday, an announcement was made asking the Apple Fest attendees to make way for the parade. Immediately people moved to the sidewalks. Led by the drum crew, the little parade appeared. DSCF7541There was the Grand Marshall, Norma Maring – whose 80th birthday was celebrated all weekend – waving like it was the happiest day of her life. There was a float with the Homecoming Kings and Queens – seeming to have fun and waving like royalty. DSCF7544There were some more convertibles with school Hall of Famers. But, best for me, was seeing my VW – sparkling clean after I had given it a much needed inside and outside cleaning – driving in the parade. Dan was behind the wheel. The President of the school and his wife were in the back. Great stuff!

Lobster Rolls – Dan came home from the store a few nights ago and told me that there is a lobster sale at our grocery store all month long. “I think I am going to make lobster rolls.” Mmmmm! When Sam was in college, I had one of the best eating experiences of my life. We went to the Pearl Oyster Bar in Greenwich Village and had a lobster roll. It was packed with lobster and mayo and served in a grilled/buttered hot dog roll. Good grief, it was good! Since then, I am a fan of the simple, but delicious lobster roll. Dan was true to his word. On Wednesday he came home with some lobster tails that the grocery store steamed for him. He mixed the meat with mayo and a little onion. He buttered and toasted some hot dog rolls. They were wonderful. It is a pretty good October day when you can leave work and come home to your house in Kansas City, Missouri and feast on a freshly made lobster roll!

Neko Case on World Cafe – I know, I know! I’ve been talking about Neko Case a bunch lately, but there continues to be more to talk about! She appeared on David Dye’s World Cafe’s Podcast recently and I listened to it this week. Neko Case can sing AND talk. David started the interview by stating that Neko’s new album came out of some tough times that she was having after the death of her parents. He noted that many of the interviews after the release dealt with that experience and that he wanted to go in a different direction. Neko was happy about that, but she spent some time explaining that she was not averse to talking about it – depression/blues is a natural thing for people to go through when they have sad things that happen to them. She then started answering a number of random questions from David – books she likes, what about her house in the country she likes, how she deals with airports. The question that I most loved her response to was when he asked her what was the last thing that truly delighted her. She responded, “I gotta say, that that happens like every six minutes. I am pretty excitable. Like, I had those salty chocolatey almond things about ten minutes ago and I got to say, those were pretty epic.” That is my kind of girl! She also does acoustic versions of 4 songs from the new album that are sparkling too!


Commemorative Stamps – This week we sent out a number of cards, and I loved putting on the stamps. In general, I am trying to send more notes through the mail. Something that makes mailing anything happier is the opportunity to use one of the many beautiful and fun commemorative stamps that the postal service offers. On our last trip to the post office, we discovered the Lady Bird Johnson stamps. The stamps are in honor of the one hundredth anniversary of her birth and they recreate five of the stamps issued in the 1960s to promote her Plant for a Beautiful America campaign. They are so pretty. I also have some postcard stamps that have different Hawaiian shirts. There is a “Made in America” series that feature early twentieth century photographs of laborers at work. I have Rosa Parks and Johnny Cash to gussy up envelopes. Going into a post office and buying stamps and not asking for commemoratives is a missed opportunity.

I hope you had a week where you can look back and recollect some of the good things. Please share one if you would like!

Last Week’s Good Things

I am a little late this week, but what the hey! There were some really good things last week and they are still worth thinking about!

  1. Image 7New shelves – If you know me you probably understand that I have a penchant to buy books. A few weeks ago, Dan and I went to Half Price Books to get a copy of A FAREWELL TO ARMS for our book club. I believe that we left with about 20 books. It was bad? Our books have outgrown available space, so we did what one does when they have too much of something. We got more shelves. By consolidating Dan’s clothes and moving out a little dresser that we had in our bedroom, we had an empty 35 inches of wall space in our bedroom. It is perfect for two of the stackable bookshelves that Amazon Prime could get me pronto. This week those new shelves arrived and I had a dandy time filling them with books. I am not completely satisfied with the arrangement yet, but that will come. In the meantime, now, when I walk into my bedroom one of the first things I see is a lovely tower of beautiful books.
  2. hallsCough drops with a message – This just tickled me. I received Dan’s cold this week so I have been spending some time sucking on Hall’s throat lozenges. I am about halfway through a bag that I started when I had my last cold. The other day when I set the wrapper down, I noticed some words on it that did not look like the normal Hall’s logo. The label was covered with motivational messages! There are a number of different sayings that appear on the drops. It makes you feel like your healing process is getting a little cheer!
  3. Image 6Hummingbirds – We have three hummingbird feeders in  our backyard. We have had them there for a few years, but this year Dan has been keeping them up better since he gave up on feeding seeds to the other birds (they were getting pretty messy). Over the past few weeks, we have been completely entertained by a group of hummingbirds that come and eat at the feeders and then play around with each other. They pester each other and dive bomb and race and then come flying back in for a sip of nectar. We sit on the patio in the evening and enjoy a beverage and the aviary antics. They accept our presence without a care. They get so close it sounds like a huge bee in the ear, and there are times that they swoop in so fast that it seems that they will hit us. I think that it is almost time for them to leave the area, but they certainly have earned their sugar water while they have been here!
  4. Learning Opportunities and Good Teacher – As noted, I have had a little bit of a cold this week. It really manifested itself this weekend. I was scheduled, however, to attend a workshop all day Saturday. Not only was I not feeling great on Saturday, but it was also one of the most beautiful August days on record. I really wanted to attend this workshop, so despite it all, I went. I was so glad that I did. From 8:30 until 5:00 the instructor kept my attention and I learned so much. It is a great thing to be engaged by a good speaker talking about something that is meaningful to you.
  5. Post Office article in Esquire – I somewhat reluctantly say that I like Esquire magazine. I know that they can do their fair share of objectifying women. Aside from that, however, it is a well put together magazine. I like the layout a lot. It has the busyness that really appeals to my design likes. It also has some completely wonderful writing. Esquire does some big time reporting in the midst of some of their fluffier things. This past week I read the article that they did recently on the postal service. I love so much about the US Postal Service. Ben Franklin was the first Post Master General and he is a hero of mine. I think it is amazing that I can spend 46 cents to send a letter anywhere in the United States and it will get there so quickly. I still love hearing the sound of mail being delivered. I would so love to see the machines that do the sorting of the mail because that feeds into my love of automated machines. I could go on. Anyway… in this article, Jesse Lichtenstein writes about the financial issues that the postal service is having (very enlightening), highlights postal employees from the letter carrier to the head person, and most interestingly, he talks about how mail gets from place to place. I would really love to go watch that happen one of these days!

New York State of Mind

When I went to college and told people where I was from I learned something. While New York may present itself as one entity, it is not. There is “The City,” and there is “Upstate.” At the time, I was eighteen years old and had never been to The City. I was clearly an Upstater. Me from the western most county of the state, my roommate from the center of the southern part of the state, our buddy from the Adirondacks, and my neighbor from the Catskills within easy driving distance from The City –  all of us were Upstaters.

Moving to Missouri I had to explain to people that growing up in New York did not mean that my lungs were ruined by pollution and my ears by the noise. I was from as pastoral a place that one could imagine, but am as much of a New Yorker as the kids in the Bronx. It’s a big state. It’s a diverse state. It is a beautiful state.

I haven’t written on the blog for a long time because life has been a whirlwind. Part of that was that we took a roadtrip back to Upstate New York recently. The trip revived my deep love for that area.

Driving from the center of the country, you really get the feel of it. It starts in eastern Ohio when the flat highway starts to get some rolling hills. By the time you hit Pennsylvania, the hills are everywhere and they continue into New York. Everything is green and speckled with farms and lakes.

Our base the first part of our trip was Jamestown, New York. On our route, to get to Jamestown, we crossed Chautauqua Lake via the Chautauqua Lake Bridge. The bridge has been there since 1982. Prior to that, you either drove around the lake, or you took the ferry. I’ve written before about my memories of the lake. This time I saw that many of the same landmarks from my growing up days were still there. It is some version of time standing still.

I’m feeling the need to break back into the blog life slowly. There seem to be many things that I have organized in my brain yet, let alone attempt to write coherently about them. However, because this trip was so awesome, I am going to share some photos that summarize the combination of beauty, silliness, love and fun that is my New York. The intent of my blog has always been to focus on what makes me happy, and boy oh boy, this trip did.

I was back in an area where a beer comes in a Buffalo Sabres glass!

2013-06-22 21.20.35

I got to eat a Johnny’s hot dog.


Sitting around a fire after a graduation party yielded more amusing stories than can be imagined, including conversing with a woman who everyone called Turd.

2013-06-23 17.48.05 Got in some serious family time that started at the Southern Tier Brewery, which occurred after I tripped, fell and bent up my glasses royally.


We got into Cooperstown and found a lovely place by the lake to eat and wait for Sam and Jean.
2013-06-25 15.22.01 It rained briefly, and even that was pretty lovely.

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We got to meet Jean.


Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame were as great as I remembered them.


But this display was no longer there, so I could not recreate this shot:


We got to visit one of the best breweries in the country.


And one of the more charming breweries that I have visited.


Where I got to buy this t-shirt:

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Birds with personalities entertained us for a significant amount of time.

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This was the second time faces were inserted into cutouts that day.

2013-06-26 15.55.17Flowering baskets always looked as beautiful as this.

2013-06-27 08.09.20It was more than great. Wait until I tell about Louisville.