Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The New Neighbors

We've lived in our house for over 25 years.  It's a one floor townhouse with two bedrooms, one bath, attached garage.  You are probably no more than a half hour drive from finding something like it. These planned housing areas, with curvy roads and walking paths through the trees, began around the Capital Region area near Albany some three decades back.  Oddly, the more jobs there are in the Albany area, the more Saratoga County (where we live) has had to build and build, add hotels to store the people who haven't bought their house yet, and build more.

Except in our development.  The Luther Forest homes were done by the early nineties.  It's now become the spot where young families start, and elderly folks can sit and finally watch some quality TV.

As my wife and I are slowly move into the second category, some observations on suburban life, especially with New Neighbors just finishing taking everything out of the truck and settling into the house we're attached to.

1. In the past 25 years, we've had young military families who have some connection to the local atomic labs.  The guys are always the rock hard buzz cut types who wouldn't let you help with a shovelful of snow even if National Security depended on it.  The wives are usually quiet, and holding a baby.  These folks usually last about six months, then are reassigned.

2. Then we had the rock drummer.  He and his lady fair seemed to exist on manna that trickled down from somewhere.  He was kind enough tell us that he practiced at odd hours, like 2 AM.  We just needed to bang on the wall, and he'd stop.  This must be something he was used to telling neighbors. They disappeared in their Volkswagen one morning.

3. Then the senior citizen.  Her daughter stopped by daily to help out her Mom, and we were just "wavers".  No conversation, just a "hi", as we headed for our car or the mailbox.  Then came the Christmas snowstorm on Dec 25 2002.  The daughter had another obligation, and could not be with her mother on Xmas.  The daughter asked if her Mom could spend the day with us.  My wife's mom was already there, so why not make it a foursome? It seemed the Christmas thing to do.  And we got through it.  Mom disappeared a month or so later to nursing home land.

4. Mom was succeeded by a bevy of independent women who would at least join in the costs of a new roof and driveway as it was, but nothing much else.  My wife has been in the neighbor's house twice in 25 years, me, once.

5. Around 2005 or so we had a ice and wind storm that felled a tree in our back yard.  These are tall pines about 60-70 feet high so when they fall over, hope you're in a tank, cause it'sa coming down. It did serious damage, but in below zero weather, the cleanup was literally painful.  Fortunately, "the guys (that is, neighbor to our left and to our right, and me) did our best to straighten it up.  Eventually, the professionals finished up.  That was the only time the three house's residents got together to do anything. Ever.

6.  Who says good fences don't make good neighbors?  The guy on our right asked me if I'd mind if he put up a privacy fence? Nope. Go ahead.  He has been there for ten plus years now, and we've had maybe about three conversations including the one in No. 5. He has a dog that does not appear to age, and from that I get some structure.  The guy leaves for work around seven AM, comes back to let the dog out at 9:45 AM, lunch at 11:45, and home at 4:30. Every day. I know the sound of the truck going out and coming back.  Which means I need another hobby.

In a house we first thought was "temporary" we've lived here more than a quarter century, and as my condition worsens, it means no stairs and easy access to my stuff.  Quiet days. Peaceful nights. So we stay.

I think the "Neighborhood" idea never took off around here because there are no kids within a five house radius and has not been for years  Kids interacting with other kids bring parents into the mix with school talk and parental issues.  Even when the military families lived next door, they kept their kids away from whoever was around.

One thing I do wonder, now that Jackie and I are retired and the New Neighbors (names forgotten already but there is a dog) are settled is how long until they ask the question: "Are you OK?" followed by the classic"You don't look sick."

Hey, you never know.  But they'll be wavers eventually, and eventually, disappear.  Luther Forest used to be the crown jewel in Malta.  With the new factories pumping out something, and people coming from the Far East to live and work here, the Forest has become the backwater place.  Potholes, repairs slower, already two Chinese restaurants and its a good bet that when we go to the Supermarket, one third of our fellow shoppers are not speaking English.  But this is Malta.

We'll still be here in 2015.  I hope you have a great year, too. Thanks for reading. 10,000 plus.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

An MS'er goes back to Disney World 2014

An MSer goes to Disney World.

Things you learn:

  1. No matter how slow you think you are moving WDW, there is always someone slower, and normally they are right in front of you, no matter where you are.  Sometimes, they are obese (and carrying more food), sometimes they are listening deeply to the words of another (who is slow also) or they are moving as pack,normally age 18 - 25 young males and females, and they are trolling everything on the Web (their index fingers going flick, flick, flick) until they have an OMG moment and stop to tell the rest of the pack the news.
  2. People in rented scooters are, for the most part, trying to maneuver about the Parks as best they can. Others seem to get some thrill ramming into your back legs (because they see you as “slow”) and will not stop until you move aside.  This is why there is so much searching at the entrance to the Disney Parks.  We have to bring stuff, and the Parks want to make sure that we who have to bring stuff to Parks don’t bring Tasers to make the place the Happiest One on Earth by removing Loud Talkers, Whining/Screaming Children, and the Walk and Sudden Stoppers (see No. 1) from ruining other people’s days.
  3. Speaking of scooters, my wife and I have decided that next year, barring a cure, of course, that I’ll have to start driving a scooter when we next visit WDW.  We stay at a Disney resort and I would use it there just to get around the area.  I can plop down in the Parks plenty of places, but the resorts? Nope. Get on the busses! Buy stuff! If you are sitting, and not eating what we have, you are wasting our time!
  4. We will gladly take your picture at a lovely site, and you can download it for a low low price of about 20 bucks a pop, and you can also download it for four 
    weeks and then its gone.  They give you the best shot, and you are then stuck with a lousy shot on your own or pay the 20 bucks. Not always, but enough to add to a stress level. And you can only get these pictures for a month after the camera clicked by the Disney pros.
  5. And all through this, my exhaustion and leg pain continues unabated. “Having a good time?” “Yep!” “Good. Relaxing and having fun?”  “I haven’t relaxed since 2008.”  
  6. For me, “Its a small world” is a challenging ride.  All those eyes blinking, and the international dolls being placed in motion by sticks in their butts, and the damned song.  Just the stupid song.  Move to the next number down or “Small World” will be stuck in your head, too. You have been warned!
  7. Please add to the list of People I Want To Taser as being anyone who walks around the beauty of the Parks, and there is great beauty, attached to a phone in their ear and move quickly (to you, sometimes a sloth moves quickly) and she does not see you because busy people talking on their cell look down at the ground as they walk, and are stunned to see you suddenly in front of them. It is your fault.  Then they move on with a sigh and a “What? Sorry. What was that? No, some old guy, looking at my butt.  Ha-ha.”
  8. At the end of the Mickey’s very merry party (with free 8 ounce hot chocolate and two sugar cookies per guest) the parade of Disney characters went up Main Street, once around the rotary and then went back to cartoon oblivion behind a door near the giant toy train that circles the Magic Kingdom.  Walt liked trains.  There’s no real catch here except that the departure of the characters meant Disney, Inc. would like you, the customer who just paid a separate admission and received two cookies and 8 ounces of hot chocolate in return and told to move into a two foot wide area of the Main Street closest to the road. See, I fall over a bit, and being moved around by the “Helpers”, didn’t help matters.  Finally, someone was kind enough to reduce the size of their baby stroller from warehouse to SUV size and I could watch the cartoon spectacle, as long as I kept 80% of my sneaker behind the line. The human version of the Frozen group just smiled and waved.
  9. This is usually where I can get really annoyed about disease, Congress, or something, but I’d like to leave Disney (and 2014) with this picture.  I turned around at the last minute and took this shot.  I am not sure that the future (or the MS version of it) may allow me many more trips down to Orlando or a lot of other.  So I may not see this again.  All that kept going through my mind was President Obama (no politics, please) at his 2nd inaugural when he was leaving the stand stopped and turned around, seeing the day, and the dignitaries, and the crowd cheering.  “I’ll never see this again,” he said.  Live each moment.  Be present here. As much as you can. And to requote the great Warren Zevon “Enjoy every sandwich”. 

    Happy Holidays!