Thursday, September 30, 2021
Friday, September 24, 2021
Anyway, this particular musing stems from the somewhat belated revelation that, for all the cigar boxes in the house, my dad didn’t smoke cigars. Or did he? I know a number of his friends did, though it seems unlikely he would have acquired their empties for whatever reason. Now, Dad did have a massive postage stamp collection, and he even ran his own philatelic business through the 1970s into the 1980s. At one time, I recall there being dozens of cigar boxes full of stamps of every nationality and denomination stacked in every available household space. Perhaps it was a stamp collecting thing. Cigar boxes for stamps. Maybe there was a corresponding market for empty cigar boxes back when. Hell if I know, but if I’m going to lose sleep, which seems to be an inevitability these days, it’s a far better to lose it dwelling on this shit than, for example, the anti-vax idiocy I encountered earlier today, which nearly sent me over the edge.
On that note, I’ll leave you with this little jewel.
Sunday, September 19, 2021
|A lovely cache guardian at "Chapel Hill|
I have, at least, managed to fit in some geocaching, a handful of nice outings with Brugger, and a couple of relaxing gatherings with friends. Last weekend, the No-Dead-Weight Irregulars — Diefenbaker (a.k.a. Scott), Old Rob (a.k.a. Old Rob), and this old dude — hit Cary for a lovely day of hiking and caching, culminating in a beastly good bison feast at Ted’s Montana Grill in Durham. Yesterday, Ms. B. and I rode over to Chapel Hill, aiming to do a little shopping, wining, and caching. We managed to do all three, though — thanks to the football game that locked up every bit of parking in town — we couldn’t manage everything we had hoped. Still, we procured an excellent lunch at The Spotted Dog in Carrboro, which has long been one of our favorite dining destinations. Today, the usual suspects, plus Fishdownthestair (a.k.a. Natalie) made a short but happy day of caching at the Rich Fork Nature Preserve in High Point, which included first-to-find honors on a new cache, which required some effort, in that the published coordinates were a couple of hundred feet off.
Brugger and I have already worked in a few fright films to kick off the Halloween season, which we’re starting marginally early, since much of the month of October will be devoted to other necessary activities. So far, we’ve put on Indigenous (a so-so shocker from 2014), The Thing (2011), John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), Night (Curse) of the Demon, Casting the Runes (an entertaining BBC production from 1979), The Ninth Gate, Black Mountain Side, and probably another flick or two I’m not remembering off the top of my head. Fun stuff, naturally. We have a few other must-watch movies on the docket.
And just as an aside here, if you haven’t gotten yourself vaccinated against COVID-19, for the love of Yog, do it. If you don’t plan to, unless you’ve got some kind of mitigating condition or circumstances, you and your ilk are causing more havoc for our healthcare system than is sustainable, and I personally know quite a few healthcare professionals that have absolutely had it with you. I am not a healthcare professional, but I can tell you, I’ve had it with you too.
And that, as they say, is that.
|A dapper Ms. B. on the Bolin Creek Trail in Chapel Hill|
|The old homestead at the Rich Fork Nature Preserve in High Point|
|Natalie and Old Rob look on as Scott tries to stop the brain from leaking out. Not sure it worked, Scott.|
Monday, September 6, 2021
It was the first plane ride for Ms. B. and me since before the pandemic began. We were a couple of early birds on Thursday, September 2 — our flight took off at 5:10 a.m., so we were up and at it by 3:30 a.m. Fortunately, from start to finish, everyone around us was masked up, as required, and of course, Ms. B. and I had our COVID-19 shots a few months back (as did her parents). We headed from Greensboro to Flint via Charlotte, on full flights, both of which were on time, smooth, and trouble-free.
We arrived in Midland, MI, early in the afternoon, had some lunch, drank coffee, and spent a good portion of the afternoon hanging with the parents. Rather than go out geocaching, I stayed in and worked hard to complete a short story for an upcoming anthology. Mission accomplished! I feel like the story did everything it set out to do, and I hope the editor will feel the same. Of course, I will post any news on that front whenever there is any news on that front to post. Despite having gotten up well before the ass-crack of dawn, we both stayed up to the wee hours watching cooking shows on the Food Network, which has become long-standing tradition whenever we're in Midland.
Friday turned out to be quite a productive day, geocaching-wise. I got up early and, as has been my custom on the past several visits here, set out on the bicycle for big ol' caching run. I found a fair bunch, couldn't find a couple of others, and put in seven or eight miles of pedaling.
|Do you see the cache? It's right there, in the picture....|
After lunch, the lot of us hit the road, headed for Clare, about 30 miles from Midland, so that Ms. B. and her folks could explore an antique shop or two. Naturally, while they did this, I wandered off to hunt caches. I discovered Clare's very large, very old graveyard, which was quite lovely — one of those graveyards so picturesque they surely take some of the sting out of being buried. We had intended to stop at the famous Cops 'n' Doughnuts doughnut shop, but it — like most of the rest of the little town — was overrun with specimens of the human species, a huge number of which were stopping through on their journeys north to the annual Labor Day walk across the Mackinac Bridge, which connects Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas. So we opted to forgo doughnuts (though I did get to snag a cache there). Once our business was concluded in Clare, we moved a few miles back eastward to Sanford, a tiny little town that damn near came to an end a year or so ago. An incredible amount of rainfall swelled the Titabawasee River to unprecedented proportions, which resulted in the destruction of two dams and massive flooding in and around Sanford. When we visited here last September, we went to Sanford to view the damage (see "Midland with a Twist," September 18, 2020). Since then, most of the town has been as restored as restored can be, but the river and Sanford Lake are just plain gone, with only marsh and destroyed property remaining in their places. The folks found a decent antique mall north of town, while I again set out on an enjoyable cache run.
After a nice dinner with the folks, Ms. B. and I made the pilgrimage to Whine!, which is pretty much our regular Midland wine bar — though, rather than wine, I decided to give their gin martini a try. I found it pleasing. And, as per usual, upon our return we sat up late with the folks watching cooking shows. I always wonder why I feel so hungry when I'm here.
|A view of the old cemetery in Clare|
|Alleyway art behind Cops 'n' Doughnuts in Clare|
|Big-ass weeping willow, little Ms. B.|
For dinner, Kimberly and I constructed shrimp tacos, which everyone enjoyed. And then it was a quiet, homebody-type evening in front of the TV.
Another relatively early-morning bike ride got Sunday started for the old geocacher. This one turned out to be another long ride with few cache finds, but I did get to spend some quality time on the hunt. One — at a picnic shelter at Optimist Park — was rated high on the difficulty scale, and I never did find the damned thing after almost an hour of searching. I'm sure that little fucker is there; it's just a really tough hide. I got in a bit of trail riding at nearby Stratford Woods Park, and at least there, I did find the cache. Drank coffee.
After this, Ms. B. and I headed downtown, where we completed an Adventure Lab cache that led us to several noteworthy locations along Main Street. That was fun, and I also picked up an additional cache along the way. During the afternoon, she and her folks went out to hunt more antiques, while I stayed home to rest and recuperate after all the rigorous pedaling. And I got a bunch of this blog written.
Drank more coffee.
Come dinnertime, we decided to hit a couple of different downtown destinations to split up the courses. We began at Café Zinc — out on the lovely terrace — with a dirty gin martini for the old dude (which would have been exemplary but for the non-regulation martini glass, which sits poorly with certain of us drink snobs), a not-at-all-oaky Chardonnay for the lady (feh), and a shrimp cocktail to share (bravissimo). We followed this by trucking ourselves a couple of doors down to Gratzi, which we had visited once before, a couple of years back. On that experience, the food left more than a little to be desired, though the drinks were perfection and the service exemplary. This time, I ordered the veal Bolognese, and Kimberly went with meatballs with marinara sauce. Hers was delicious, mine was good, though not exceptional. As before, the service couldn't have been better and the atmosphere there is top-notch. For these, we'll give the place a solid thumbs-up.
|View of the hidden trail that leads toward Stratford Woods Park|
|Heading for the cache in Stratford Woods|
|Ms. B. in front of "Santa's House" in downtown Midland|
And that was our long Labor Day weekend Midland trip. Mostly relaxing, with fun caching, bike riding, dining, drinking, and wonderful family time. Drank coffee. The weather was absolutely perfect this time around; I sort of suspect that, on our next trip, it may be cold. Damned cold. Michigan cold.