Before my family ran into a brick wall, my parents took me to it when I was around Nora's age and I remember it pretty fondly. The other place we went to a very few times was a little amusement park called Jolly Cholly's. It was a lot like what Edaville is now, with rides mostly aimed at little kids. I remember little cars, all of them sort of 50s styles and already out of date. I didn't care, I was four or five. I was charmed.
And that's pretty much what yesterday was like. Charmed. They definitely have some "better" rides, including a roller coaster, but it's all small scale and fun. And there's a whole lot of retro stuff there including a "space" ride build around what are clearly meant to be Mercury program capsules--so probably 59 to 61 as I'd guess once the Gemini spacecraft was revealed in 1961, they'd probably have used that.
What's great is the atmosphere is perfect for little kids. There are no teenagers here trying to impress their dates. I think it gives some of the older younger kids ie, the 9 and 10 year olds a little more permission to enjoy what might get overlooked as "little kid" rides. And even for Nora, there was only one ride, a scrambler, that she was too small to ride, Though we told her she was too short for the rollercoaster and a couple of others that we thought she (or I) would freak on. She did freak out on the tilt a whirl, which she loved the last time we went. I'm guessing that's because it was towards the end of the day and she was getting tired and probably a little dehydrated.
Another nice aspect, is they don't care if you bring stuff in. So we had our water bottles and some trisquits to eat. We also got a couple of sodas along the day and had lunch at one of the official places, so we paid our pound of flesh. The $4 they lost in forcing us to buy a bottle of water was more than made up for in goodwill. Plus, really, you gotta let the little ones have their water bottle or their snack or whatever the heck it is that they want. They're, well, little.
One thing I have to give Nora is she is not a commercialized child. She glanced into the Thomas gift shop, but never pushed to go in. The only item she actually even asked a little about was a Thomas balloon. She was there for the experience.
As an odd "holy crap" sidenote, the "Thomas" train is actually just a prop and the train is really powered by a small red diesel switching engine behind Thomas. A tip toe through wikipedia and a few other sources informs me that the red switching engine was originally built for The Whitin Machine Works, which was the the mill in the Decaying Mill Town where I grew up.
Monday was July 4th. We took it vaguely easy and then went to Bub's for an early dinner before going to the fireworks. The fireworks show was great. Nora had a fantastic time and got to ride on the little kid rides they have for it. Bub's was disappointing though. The little rack of ribs that came with our ribs and link was... little. Really little. I thought maybe it was baby back ribs, but even for those, the ribs themselves, like the actual bones, were really small and thin, and had almost no meat. Given that, they were also pretty dry. I can do better myself, which is a big wow when it comes to Bub's. Well blah. Hopefully next time. If not, we'll just get the sides and stuff ourselves with those because they're still amazing.
Tuesday we went to Look Park and Nora got to play at the splash park. We feasted on the snack bar's offerings. The fries are fried food service fries like you'd expect, but geez, you can make a meal out of a $3.50 order. I have no idea how they break even on that, much less make money. We also rode the little train and looked at the animals. We were both exhausted by the end and decided not to do the paddle boats. Next year, that comes first while we're still in shape to corral a 5 year old and keep her out of the drink. That night we went to Panda East, which was our favorite Chinese food place back in the day. Nora had never been to a "real" sit down restaurant before and was very well behaved and very impressed--both achievements as she really doesn't like Chinese all that much. She kept mumbling about how fancy it was, which was adorable. Afterwards, we took her out for ice cream, which was home-made (well store-made) and has apparently ruined her for regular ice cream and she keeps telling us it's not as good as the ice cream in Amherst.
We ran up to Shelburne Falls on Wednesday before driving home, but honestly, I don't remember a lot about the day other than it being hotter than hell. Particularly given that Cape tends to be about 10' cooler than the rest of the state, so we're just not used to it. Oh yeah, we drove through Turner's Falls. We lived there for a year in college. I think it's pretty safe to say we wouldn't do that today. The stark grimness of our state's opiate problem was on full display in the person of a blond junkie prostitute who I simply cannot believe was over 18. I know it's more an aspect of it being more on display where here on Cape our opiate problem is better hidden. But geezus. And note that Tony Bourdain did a "heroin special" episode of his show that was Cape and Franklin County.
And every day we got delicious coffee and croissant at The Black Sheep, which is actually Nora's favorite place.
Unfortunately, the trip took it's toll and while I was "well" (if sneezy) for much of the middle of it, I was back to being sick by yesterday my first day back at work and today I ended up calling in sick because I couldn't stop coughing long enough to take a shower or do much of anything else. Hopefully a day of hydration and DM will help.
It's made us once again start scheming on how to get back out there. Fortunately, the housing on Cape is doing that thing where it goes up faster than the rest of the state. Eventually our tiny home will have enough for us to sell, buy a place out there, and stick enough money in the bank. (Right now, we'd be a better than even, but not with enough buffer for us to be comfortable. Maybe if it was just us, but not with Nora.)
Note: the air is so damned clean in western mass. Cape looks so nice and the ocean air smells pleasant, but we get Boston smog and our weekends in particular are bad because it doubles up the crap floating over the bay with everyone driving onto cape for vacation.
Janna also was coming down with a pretty severe sore throat with accompanying ear infection. Because of that, we really didn't get up to nearly as much as we would have liked.
My game for the weekend was cancelled and I gather they're having a session on Sunday, the 3rd when I'll be in western Mass. Really not thrilled about either thing. I think I'm going to run something on my own, but I'm caught between ideas. Call of Cthulhu is something I can run in my sleep and it's in a lot of demand, but I'm really intrigued by 13th Age, particularly the (unreleased) Glorantha setting. I think 13th might be my nibanna between squishy systems like Fate and more crunchy stuff like Runequest.
Yesterday was less than optimal. I woke up and thought to myself, geez, it seems awful cool. I looked at the time because it was pretty early and sometimes I wake up on weekends before the thermostat is set to goose the heat from the night setting. Nope, that's not it. So I look and it is 56' in the house and the battery light is flashing on the thermostat.
So I grumble and turn on the coffee and feed the cats so they don't consume me whole, and then get batteries out of the charger and pull the thermostat off the wall, put it the batteries, and put it back up. We keep a pot of water on the stove to keep some moisture in the house, so I click that on, and go sit on the couch with my ipad. A few minutes later, the coffee beeps and I get up and the flame on the stove is down to nothing. I realize I also haven't heard the heat go on and confirm this.
I turn the burner on the stove off and relight it. It flames into full strength and then quickly dies down to nothing. And then I realize, our gas meter is frozen and we have no heat, no stove, and no hot water. And this sucks. We call it in to the gas company and they assure us someone will come and fix it and Janna drags up a couple of space heaters we originally bought 20 or so years ago when the heat pump in our condo died back in Maryland. Thankfully, they actually still work and it starts to get slightly warmer.
Of course, we have a cathedral ceiling so it doesn't get really warm, but we do manage to get the temperature up into the 60s. And we sit down and wait. And wait. And wait. It's almost three o'clock before the van from National Grid arrives. We hold our breath until he agrees that it's the gas meter and he sets about fixing it. And we finally get our hot "morning" shower around 4 in the afternoon, just in time to start dinner.
We said, no, it's not good to share snacks because you don't know what people are or aren't allergic too.
She then explains.
Her friend doesn't get sent to school with a snack. If the kids don't have a snack, then there are pretzels the teacher gives out. But her friend really doesn't like pretzels and won't eat them, so if she doesn't share, then her friend doesn't get a snack.
OK, Nora, I'm a little proud that you got in trouble now.
I just can't imagine how these kids, they're only five years old, feel when the teacher drags out the Pretzels of Poverty. We're one of the very lucky ones in the tiny slice where "parents" and "not living in poverty" circles intersect on Cape's sad ven diagram.
The rest of the people who actually have to work here? The Cape these rich second home owners see might as well be a cruise ship's private island.
Tonight there's a story and ice cream time for the new kindergarteners, which is also a chance for them (and us) to meet the teacher and do one last visit to the school. So two hours after the end of preschool, she'll be in her new school meeting her teacher and the other staff people.
And if that's not enough to finish out a long day, after the storytime, we'll be heading out to western Mass. We figure she'll sleep on the trip and we can spend the entire day doing fun things for her and then drive home after dinner when she'll also sleep. We hope. This has been postponed for the last few weekends since her birthday for various weather and commitment reasons. It's a last minute thing for all of us and should be a complete surprise for her.
In other news, our new ceiling fan has arrived. We got a rather expensive model that uses about half the usual power and comes with a remote, so we can actually reverse it for the winter. We also invested in a new set of Corelle dishes for everyday use, rather than the mishmash we had. (These included the remnants of the set I remember my mother throwing at my drunk father just before the divorce. Oh the loving family memories.) We have everything ready to go on our roof and new skylight as well.
I'm making some mild progress on my next book. I don't know where this one went off the rails, but it has been a bear to get done. I've done two major rewrites, one of which i totally reversed. I figure I need three more chapters and then start the editing process. The good news on that front is that seven months after release, my book is still on the top 100 best sellers in lesbian romance, which is just whacky.
We drove out separately, they were in the Kia and I took the Fit alone with the car seat removed and set up for cargo. Nora was fantastic at the store. Yes, it was a friday, so it wasn't crazy, but she did so well. She's still a four year old so it wasn't purely smooth, but given the stimuli and two tired mommies, it went so well.
We also got a bed for ourselves because a bit ago our Malm collapsed with some kind of defect. This one has storage, which will be nice.
Saturday I got Nora out of the house so Janna would have time to put together her bed in peace. We went to the farm and looked at the critters then took a rather long way to the pet shop and picked up some glofish (genetically modified zebrafish) and some oto cats better known as algae eaters. We are down to one of the "shellie" cichlids so I have a little 5 gallon tank where she or he is going to "retire" and we're remaking the 30 gallon into a planted community tank. The glofish will go with the cichlid and the otos can start cleaning the big tank which has way too much algae.
We just had a great time and thankfully, this seems to have reset Nora's "I don't like fish" phase. She's got a long list of dislikes which include cows, pandas, elephants, and more than occasionally me.
It was just the most amazing weekend. SO much fun. And then it all went to hell. I don't know what happened, whether it was exhaustion or food poisoning or what, but I woke up Sunday morning and immediately threw up and spent the next six hours either being ill or sleeping in misery. It started to wear off by afternoon and by the evening I could have a turkey sandwhich, but ouch ouch.
Monday was Patriot's day which is a Massachusetts holiday and I had it off. We took it easy. Janna was tired from building the Ikea stuff and tending to me collapsed on the couch. I made a nice roast chicken dinner and we pretty much stayed close to home otherwise.
Still, despite the weird sick thing, it was a pretty nice weekend. Probably going to be having a lot of long weekends soon because I need to burn vacation hours in a serious way. I think I need to dump 3 weeks in the next two months.
What a weekend. I had high hopes. The week before my Active Directory got into serious trouble and I spent all day Saturday in work and a good chunk of Sunday working on it remotely. So I took part of Thursday and all of Friday as comp time expecting to have a nice weekend with a little bit of sane time. That would give me a day to unwind from work, then we'd have Janna's parents over, then we'd have a day to unwind from that.
And that worked Friday. Janna took Nora to the local children's museum and I stayed at home and got a few hundred words of my new piece done as well as just some relaxing peace and quiet. I took care of the shopping and made dough for pizza. We had a nice evening. All was well in the world.
Then about midnight, Nora simply erupted. I'm guessing it was something picked up at the museum, but she just puked everywhere and that pretty much repeated itself all night long. Due to the odd layout of our house, she still sleeps with us, so when I say erupted, I mean erupted on us. Well, I think she missed the cat.
Given the evening's festivities we cancelled for the second week in a row on having her grandparents over for dinner and spent the day being quiet. And a little shellshocked. She started to come out of it about the middle of the day and perked up and was able to eat.
Then we discovered the other shoe dropping. With huge piles of wet sheets, blankets, duvet covers, and everything else under the sun, our dryer decided to die. It runs for about fifteen minutes, then shuts off with a lint filter warning and never warms up. Well, the lint filter is perfectly clean so it must be a sensor or it needs the internal ducting cleaned or something. Janna will call the repair people today. We have some nice independents who were able to fix our refrigerator rather than telling us to replace it. Hopefully they can do the same with our dryer.
For extra bonus points, Janna's parents didn't pick up when we called to cancel and when we made our third call without them picking up the phone or calling back, we started to freak out because of the unsafe nature of their home. Apparently it required actually telling them to call us because when Janna did that, they finally called back an hour later. (They do not have a cell and her father has his email set to delete everything as spam.)
Then yesterday Janna started to feel sick and I'm not exactly firing on all cylinders so more or less the weekend was a complete loss. I barely wrote. The house is a shambles. And now I'm back to work, which I very sincerely could do without for another day.
Yesterday I woke to find around 5 inches of snow had fallen over night instead of the 1-3 inches we'd been told was coming, which was already too much. I almost wept. It doesn't really impact me all that much other than slip sliding down the driveway, but it is really getting to me emotionally. It's just disruptive to constantly be wondering if the power is going to go out and so on. We've actually been looking at vacations for next winter, maybe a Disney Cruise which we figure would be Nora friendly.
Nora is doing great. She's starting to pick up the ability to recognize and "read" some words. Socially, she's still improving. She has official "friends" at school and is going to a birthday party this weekend. Unless it's postponed again due to blizzard. We watched My Neighbor Totoro last weekend with her, which she absolutely loved. She wants a catbus and saw a photo of a giant one at the Ghibli museum and announced we should get one and there was enough space in the living room for it.
My book is starting to get past that first month rush, but it burbled back up to #1 in lesrom today. Sales are a bit slower as it is February, but by the end of next week, I should qualify for the Romance Writers of America published author network, which is pretty cool. I also have an audio book currently in production with a great narrator.
So with all those proceeds. I bought myself a computer! A really nice iMac. The top of the line "late 2013" 27 inch. I got it from the refurb store (which are mostly "buyers regret" not actual refurbs) and when it came, it had an upgraded video card and huge 3gb hard drive. Unlike the MacMini, this one is working out great.
My second book is coming along. I'm at 19,000 words. It's a young adult about two 17 year olds thrown together when their families take a combined vacation. The presumptive title is "Our Demented Play Date."
The big achievement was that, for once, I nailed the noodles. Nailed them. Wonderful flavor and not falling apart. Perfect in every way I could imagine. I can't even list the number of times I've had wilted noodles or ones that stuck to the wok and ended up half as much. Part of my success, I'm sure, was a different brand of noodle. I was also careful about how much they were cooked and did a lot of seasoning and added a bit of oil while they were still in the (non-stick) pasta pot.
Yesterday, ugh. Maybe best not to talk about it, but Nora was pretty much in demon mode. "NO!" was pretty much her one word vocabulary. The night culminated with her being allowed a half hour of Frozen puzzles on her kindle followed by an ultimate meltdown when the half hour was over.
On the other hand, I roasted pork in the slow cooker and Janna made this amazing jimaca slaw and we had the most amazing soft corn pork tacos.
I didn't get any writing done between going nuts cooking saturday and just going nuts on Sunday. Seventh is still #1 in lesbian romance, but I know I need to have something ready for March to keep that momentum. I'm just stuck on a scene and need to push thruogh it.
I am maniacallly downloading crap to read and watch during the downtime, but batteries are only going to hold out for so long.
Speaking of writing, my first novella is available for pre-order. It's on the hot new releases and the top sellers for lesbian short reads, so I guess that's good. Though I suspect it's two or three of my friends, not big sales. We shall hope for the future. If it can get onto those lists, it gets visibility and pretty much everything goes from there.
On New Year's Eve we took Nora to Edaville Railroad, which is now Edaville USA. For people who aren't from eastern Massachusetts, the quick story is back in, I think the 50s, some guy went a little nuts putting up Christmas lights around his cranberry bogs and opening them to the public. Then it was too hard for people to see them all, so he bought an old narrow gauge train and ran it around. It's become a big tradition to go see the lights when you have little ones.
Since then, they've branched out and they have some vintage amusement rides, some kiddie rides, a scrambler, a tilt-a-whirl, and this funky "space ship" ride that is very obviously based on a Mercury space capsule and must date from the early 60s.
One thing for sure, Nora loves rides. She also loved the train. I was more than a little nervous, particularly running out there after I got out of work, but it all worked out. It was freezing though. Cape is probably 10 degrees or so warmer than the rest of Massachusetts because of the ocean, and wow were we not ready.
Other than that, it was a good New Years, though we didn't get up to much and as usual, the champagne is still sitting in our refrigerator.
In other news, my novella is done and I've been through a couple of rounds of editing. I'm trying an online service called Autocrit that does a computer search for passive voice, run on sentences, and that sort of thing. I'm finding it more or less helpful.
I returned the Mac Mni. As I worked with it, I just didn't think I was getting enough for the money. It had a lot of lag when I was web browsing. That's probably something to do with me using Chrome and the feud between Apple and Google, but it doesn't matter. I use Chrome and it was laggy when I scrolled down. I also had some weird issues with dragging and dropping text. So whatever the issues were, it was getting in the way of me writing and working and it was supposed to make that easier. So instead, I reinstalled the old PC and I'm back to that. This means I'll have to do the final ebook layout on the laptop's 11" screen, but I guess that's life.
Other than that, not a lot up outside of work. It's been a tiring week, not sure exactly why. I'm still getting over that horrible cold I had and the days are getting shorter (ugh getting up in the dark!), but I've had no energy when I've gotten home from work so my writing and other things are slipping. I'm trying to keep up on taking a walk during my "lunch" hour (I never eat lunch or anything else at work) to try to get in better shape and lose some weight. It's nice two mile loop down to the beach and I listen to music or podcasts or something.
Nora continues to do great at school and seems to have made a friend, though she denies it when asked. The school has done amazing things for her and we're very very pleased. We're even talking about expanding her week to cover monday and friday. If she wants, of course.
I barely have gamed at all. The whole "gamer gate" thing with misogynist assholes attacking women who game has been very trying on me. I've dropped off of a board I'd been a member of for over ten years because they turned into shits over it and wallowed in the leaked nudes. It's sad to see people who are usually quite reasonable people about other things be unable to acknowledge that they may not know how other people experience things. I'm not the only one to leave over it at least.
Getting better on Sunday was good as Janna made a big equinox meal. We had these interesting squash/potato pancakes, an ungodly good beet salad with capers and feta, and some beef sausage from one of the local farms, then for afters these amazing Apple hand pies with the most perfect crust I could imagine. Oh, she picked up a quite nice shiraz as well.
Mostly what I did during the lost week was read. I have only a vague notion of how many lesbian romance novels I read, but Amazon will not be making any profit on my $9.95/month Kindle Unlimited subscription. I think of the funniest experiences I had was with a "rock star" romance that I quite enjoyed, then I got to the end and discovered she'd written a few stories for the "new" (now over ten year old) Thieves World books.
I'm sort of slogging through this week. To return to the 90s: I'm not sick, but I'm not well.
Well, when we were visiting Joy and Lona and Henry and Peter, a couple of things happened that made me reevaluate my camera situation. The first was that when we went for a walk, there was no way I could deal with stringing my DSLR around my neck. Too big. Too heavy. Too dorky. Too hot.
The second was the of all the pictures I did take, the best one by far was done with the Fuji XF1 compact and that made me think of some of the better pictures I've taken and quite a few are from the Fuji not the Pentax and I realized that it ain't the camera capabilities, it's that the XF1 is always with us and the Pentax is kind of a hassle. I just plain end up taking more pictures. It also doesn't hurt that the minute she sees the DSLR, Nora just starts mugging for the camera so it's not very natural.
I've always liked Fuji and I've noticed that a lot of the people who were posting photos I thought were really well done were using Fuji mirrorless equipment. The cameras also have a nice retro look. I'd been eyeing them for a while.
Then Fuji had a sale. It wasn't the most amazing sale, but it was a sale sufficient that I could upgrade to a camera that would fit our lifestyle better and with sales of my used equipment, come out only a little worse than even. So I'm now the happy owner of a Fuji X-E1 mirrorless camera with the 18-55 kit lens and the 27mm pancake. The latter was the real key. The thing is tiny, it's a good focal length for general use, and together that means I can carry it in my purse. In fact, if I can find a decent case that hugs the contours of the camera (and I have), it can live in my purse full time and I can drag out the 18-55 when I want to do more serious shooting.
So far the results have been pretty good. The reviews say it has issues with focus and it does hunt a bit, but Pentax was all screw drive and not a whole lot faster. I love the fact that I can see the depth of field in the viewfinder. Generally, the lenses are far superior to anything I had with Pentax except for the old manual 50mm. The 18-55 is just amazing.