Today I am wearing a tee shirt that says “If You Can Read This, You Are Standing Too Close”, a testament to the year we have just spent. When I bought it, I gave no thought to the possibility of obsolesce beyond hoping it would become so. I just liked the shirt.
So here we are, miles ahead of where we were last year at this time. The crisis is on the decline and, with the advent of serums, hand washing, and distancing, it appears we can whip this thing. Given my age, I made sure that I got my shots at the first opportunity and, although I was not militant about it, generally followed the prescribed guidelines to protect myself and those around me. Now, sans mask, I walk around with much more abandon, but still giving others their space.
It seems that, like so many other things, if you do them enough, they become habit. I find myself washing my hands as soon as I return home from anywhere for instance. I never used to do that, but now, it is almost automatic. I have also become more attuned to my environment. Pay more attention to what science and our medical leadership are espousing. What are the conditions in my state, my town, my neighborhood. Things I really didn’t pay any attention to before. Good things to do. Things that say ‘are you living better because you are more conscious of the reality that surrounds you’. I think the answer is yes.
I hope that my tee shirt never returns to relevance, but being that I own it, I will still wear it and let those that read it wonder why. I just wish there was a way that it could be updated to say “If You Can Read This, Give Me A Hug”. Just sayin.
Hello and welcome to another chapter in the ever evolving life of me, Kramer. Here again to talk about whatever happens to be on my mind at the time. As you can see from my picture above, I have recently exercised some “kick back and relax” moments, mostly because we have been getting some wicked bad rain storms. Not that we don’t need the rain, but there is a difference between showers and downpours. Showers don’t result in floor warnings. But at least it spared Bob the necessity of running around with a hose, trying to grow some grass. I’ll have to say, the front yard looks a lot better, even if there are a lot of weeds out there. Green is green, right?
Last time we talked, I mentioned that Bob has been volunteering at the shelter more. A couple of weeks ago, he participated in a Free Vaccination Clinic provided by the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society. People from throughout the county were encouraged to bring their cats and dogs in for free Rabies and Distemper shots and they took advantage of the opportunity.
Due to the time it takes to pre-register the pets, fill out the necessary forms, provide tags, and actually administer the shots, they were only able to provide shots for forty families over four hours, but several families brought two or more pets. I understand they will also be holding a walk up clinic which I am told moves a lot faster. It was a big success and one that is looked forward to by the communities. They have another one planned for July and again in August.
One of the perks while waiting was the availability of free dog and cat food and free collars and leashes. That is what Bob did, driving the van back to the warehouse for more supplies, bringing fresh water for the pets, and handing out the food. He said it was a rewarding experience to do this for people who were very grateful to get it. That’s why he has signed up to participate in the next two.
I haven’t been going out with Bob as much because he won’t leave me in the car on warm days. Even with the windows left slightly open, on a 70 degree day, it only takes 20 minutes for a parked car to heat up to 100 degrees. So, even though I get mad sometimes when he doesn’t take me with him, I know he it only doing it for my own good. But, I still get to go a few places. Bob likes getting out too, so I’m sure he will be looking for something we can enjoy together.
Well, I guess that’s about it for this time. This is your old bud Kramer saying “keep a smile on your face and a treat in your pocket”. And to my still homeless friends, there is someone looking for you as hard as you are for them. Trust me.
Hi again all my faithful followers. Kramer here. Doesn’t seem possible that another two weeks have expired since I last wrote. It might be that I have been spending more time outside with Bob. We have been experiencing some hotter weather then is normal for Maine at this time of year. We have had several days in the high eighties and today is in the low nineties. Bob was running around the front yard this morning with a hose. He seeded the lawn the other day and needs to keep it wet. Thankfully,he maintained a modicum of decency by wearing cool but not overly revealing clothes. He may have lost weight but, come on, he’s no Brad Pitt.
Last week, we threw his backpack in the car and drove down to Two Lights State Park, one of Bob’s favorite spots. We can sit up on the cliffs overlooking the ocean and enjoy a little respite from the heat. In fact, it gets chilly. I’m guessing the incoming sea breeze dropped the temp into the high sixties while it was low eighties back home. We came here last year, but it was different this time in that there were a lot of people. Bob said that’s the way it used to be. I loved it. As you can see, I mostly hung out on a bench working on my tan and entertaining all the admiring visitors that walked by.
Bob took some pictures. As the afternoon went on, the tide began to come in, so visitors and sport fishermen had to leave the rocks. The sky and clouds were beautiful. I don’t know the name of the island that you can see in the distance, but it is close to a place called Kettle Cove. I wouldn’t mind living there, but Bob says the property values are in the two to three million range. I got the impression that he doesn’t have that. He just gave me a look.
This weekend Bob volunteered to help out the Humane Society event, giving free vaccine shots to dogs and cats. They had a good turn out. He has some pictures, but I don’t think he has edited them yet, so I will talk more about that the next time. So, until then, this is your old pal Kramer saying keep a smile on your face and a treat in your pocket. And a shout out to all my still homeless friends. Someone is looking for you. You just haven’t found each other yet.
Now that the Pandemic is hopefully on the wane and we are reintroducing ourselves to our friends and neighbors ,it reminds me of the time when I entered the military. One of the first things they did was march us through the barbershop and cut off all our hair. I remember coming out the other side and a friend of mine jokingly saying “who did you used to be”? Current circumstances have made me ask the same thing.
Through all of the preceding months of directed or tacit behavior, I came to realize that, within my physical isolation, my best friend was me. Regardless of circumstance, I was always there for me. When something needed to be addressed, I was there to discuss it with myself. At every turn, the one person I could count on was me. The reality was and is that the most self sustaining person in my life is me. Always has been actually. Just perhaps not consciously.
So now, here we are, re-entering what passes for life today, suddenly confronted with all the voices and rhetoric coming out of storage and re-engaging us in vocal communication beyond our solitary musings. Words exchanged between willing and welcome participants, haltingly at first, but slowly becoming more comfortable.
I still talk to myself however. Everything I have ever done, right or wrong, has been as the result of one of these conversations. Decisions made after considering alternatives, mulled over by our voices within. There is a comfort in that. Exercising the freedom of thought and action based on my values, my paradigms. And of course, the most significant thing is, I win all the arguments, make all the decisions, and of course, I am never wrong. Occasionally mistaken perhaps, but never wrong.
Hello again everyone. Kramer here. Well, the weather has started to cooperate although it is kind of erratic. In the last couple of weeks we have had a few days in the nineties and others that started in the fifties. However, currently we are rocking along in the seventies and that suits me just fine.
Bob has been spending more time at the Humane Society shelter. Besides his weekly route picking up donations from local businesses, he frequently volunteers to be a driver, carrying dogs and cats and rabbits between the shelter and the vet and sometimes, I get to go. In fact, we are going to take a cat and a rabbit to the vet this coming Friday. Sometimes we go in the van and others he just loads them in our car. Either way is fine with me.
From time to time the shelter will receive a shipment of dogs from other kennels, mostly from the South. Of course, being up here in Maine, virtually everything is to our south so that would make sense. Recently, we had a van load arrive from Oklahoma. All are given thorough exams, shots, and, if not already, are neutered or spayed. Any medical issues are corrected and then they are micro-chipped before becoming eligible for adoption. I am happy to say that most, if not all the dogs and puppies on this trip have been adopted.
Since the shelter is a resource for an entire county, one way they help the communities is to provide food to more rural areas that run their own pet pantries. From time to time, Bob and I make a run to one of these towns to replenish their inventories. A couple of weeks ago we took a trip to Canton Maine, a small community about 35 minutes north of the shelter. We had never been there so it was an adventure for both of us and they were happy to receive the shipment. I, of course, did not assist in the unloading as I was busy guarding the van, a very important job which I take very seriously. I know that’s why Bob brings me with him.
Friday, Bob and I went over to visit his wife and on the way, he stopped at a nursery to buy some geraniums to plant. It is beautiful where she is and it was a gorgeous day. While there, we traveled down by the yacht basin and Bob stopped to snap a picture. I’ve never been on a boat, but they look interesting. Maybe one of these days I’ll get a chance.
Well, I guess that’s about it for this time. Glad we could get together. Hope to see you again in a couple of weeks. Until then, keep a smile on your face and a treat in your pocket. This is your old friend Kramer signing off.
I’m sure most if not all of you have heard the old saying “You Are What You Eat”. Well, I would like to add to that “I Am Also What I Don’t Eat”. Since going on a low carb diet at the first of the year, my whole culinary life has been amended. Oh sure, the protein is the same, it’s just everything else that has changed. But, it is a means towards an end. I succeeded in losing the 35 pounds that I set out to lose, and may even push it another five. But, by and large, I am in maintenance at this point.
Since eating this way is a forever thing, I learned quickly to stop dwelling on my sacrifices and to start concentrating on my successes, and there have been many. Although my home baked bread still resembles meatloaf, I have, after a lot of trial and error, found a low carb bread called Aunt Millie’s Live. Since low carb hasn’t really taken hold up here product wise like gluten free has, I am forced to buy off the net which adds a few bucks to my budget. But, finding a source for bread and rolls is kind of like buying a winning scratch off ticket. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, you rejoice.
There of course have been many other changes. I routinely use almond and coconut flour in place of all purpose. It’s not the same. To me, not even close. But my muffins and cookies tasted good, so I’ve convinced myself that this is what it is, so get over it. King Arthur however has introduced a ‘Keto friendly’ flour that, while slightly higher in carbs, is a one for one substitute for all purpose. Yes, it has wheat in it, but unless you are one of those that religiously follows a strict Keto regimen, (I’m not) then a couple of extra carbs here just means a few less somewhere else. I try to stay around 25 a day, give or take. I don’t do macros.
I never thought I would see the day that I would be haunting the produce section for root vegetables. Things that I here to fore have seldom or never eaten. I have extolled the virtues of cauliflower, so it was easy to cross potatoes off my list of eatables. But I have also discovered the turnip. I found a recipe for french fries using the turnip in place of a potato. Does it taste the same. Nope. Does it taste good. Yup. So I thought I would go a step further. My wife had a recipe for a basic potato salad that I used to love and have missed. So I wondered if I could make it with turnip instead. The answer is yes. By replacing the sugar with Swerve and the potatoes with turnip, I turned out a very acceptable knockoff. One more ‘can’t have that’ crossed off the list.
I can’t say that all is well in paradise, but the exceptions aren’t earth shattering and I have been known to cheat from time to time. For instance, now that I am in maintenance and strictly in the name of science, I have started allowing myself to have a couple of beers every week. There is also Keto ice cream for sale, and ‘no sugar added’ Jif peanut butter in moderation is not bad either. I am constantly on the hunt for new low carb recipes and have built a rather extensive cook book of great tasting foods. More recently, I have started delving into the world of converting existing recipes to reduced carb versions. Once I realized that for most high carb ingredients there usually is a low carb substitute, I thought ‘why not’. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but so far, I haven’t thrown anything away. There are just some I didn’t make twice.
So, there you have it. With my air fryer and Instant Pot pressure cooker, I can go where I have never been before. My next challenge, now that the enforced isolation has been partially lifted, is to rediscover restaurants. It’s going to take some research to find places that offer some low carb choices or at least dishes that I can fit in my diet. But, in the back of my mind there is still a little voice saying ‘no one ever got fat eating one slice of pizza. Or two. Just sayin.
Hello again to all my friends and fans. Kramer here. Someone said Summer is around here somewhere, but except for one day, I haven’t seen it. I hope that wasn’t the whole thing. There are so many things I want to do this year. Bob has stopped wearing a mask most places and says that we are going to be able to do stuff outside that we haven’t been able to do for over a year. We both enjoy parks and the ocean, so suspect we will be visiting some of them. Like the waterfalls I told you about in my last post.
I promised to show you a few more of the things we did when Bob’s sister-in-law visited us a few weeks ago. Every day we tried to do something. One day, we decided to hike one of the woodland trails here in Gray. We decided to take the blue trail because it was the shortest at about a mile. However, it was pretty rugged terrain, so we consulted our map and found that the white trail was running parallel to us. We ran across a couple that were out there mountain biking and asked if they knew the best way to get to the white trail because we wanted to go back to where we had parked. He pointed to the red trail which is the one they had come down and said it would take us back. What he neglected to say was ‘eventually’. So, our one mile hike was closer to two and a half miles.
I was pooped and we all were thirsty. So Bob took us down to the pub and we had a drink. They have a water bowl behind the counter for guys like me. Much appreciated. I can’t go in anymore because they now serve food and the state inspectors won’t allow it. So we sat at a table out front.
Another day we went to Portland to visit Fort Allen Park. It was originally built during the Revolutionary war, but as you can well imagine, the original fort is long gone, but it’s still a great place to visit. They have a cannon that was saved from the USS Maine (Remember The Maine) and a restored ships mast from the USS Portland.
It is right on the waterfront so we decided to walk a little bit of the trail. The first thing we saw was the freight ferry that runs between the mainland and Peaks Island. We were there when it arrived and watched them dock and unload some trucks before returning to the island. We also saw the narrow gauge train that runs along the coast. The engineer even waved at me.
As you can tell, we had a very eventful time almost every day. I even got used to riding in the back seat and took a couple of snoozes back there.
Well, I guess that’s about it for now. Thanks for stopping by. I always enjoy telling you about my adventures. I’m looking forward to more. Now that Bob has lost a bunch of weight, I will have to make sure I keep him in shape.
Til next time, this is Kramer saying keep a smile on your face and a treat in your pocket. And to my still homeless friends, keep the faith. It will happen for you.
Monday was a ‘feeling out’ day. Maine went mask-less on May 24th, and I for one was ready. However, just because our Gov said it was OK, with reservations of course, didn’t mean that every business, and/or person, had signed on. As government is so want to do, they just opened the cage. It was up to each individual and business to decide whether or not they wanted to step out. Many of the chain stores relaxed their mask requirements, as did our supermarket. But not without a plea to unvaccinated shoppers to please mask up and to those of us that were, well, they wouldn’t be upset if we did so too.
So, it was with some trepidation that I entered the hallowed halls of produce and perceptions. I casually looked around me to scope the atmosphere and found that more then half the people were still masked. It was a little unnerving to be the only bare faced guy checking out the vegetables. I soon found myself looking for others ‘of my kind’ with a subconscious urge to surround myself with them. It turned out this was going to be harder then I thought. I was obviously in the minority.
As I progressed, I started chastising myself for my feelings of unease, frequently reaching into my pocket and fondling the mask I had brought for moral support. Be brave, I thought. Soon, more people will take heart from your actions and themselves begin to cast off the bonds of maskdom. You will be seen as a leader, unafraid, forging a new future.
Soon, my feelings of forced isolation began to wane and I stood a little straighter, walking with more confidence. However, since the directional arrows had been removed from the aisles, it was now possible and probable that you were going to meet other people moving in the opposite direction, and I did. Rounding a corner, I was confronted by a dad and his two young daughters, all masked. I didn’t think anything of it at first until I noticed one of the daughters staring at me and she appeared to be frowning. In a gesture of civility, I smiled. She did not smile back. As I passed their cart, she stepped a little closer to her father, her gaze never wavering. After passing them, I had to look back and sure enough, she was still staring. All my bravado began to recede and my quilt trip began. I had just been dissed by an 8 year old.
In retrospect, it occurred that we adults may have a rocky road to travel, at least initially, where it pertains to the kids. Niether of those little girls were yet 12 so showing them my immunization card probably would not make a difference. They were too young to carry one and were probably too young to read it anyway. They were just emerging from a prolonged environment where school meant a few hours daily on a computer and playing outside was a memory. Physical interaction is something that had been eliminated from their life over a year ago. The only thing, at least to them, that had changed, was me.
I am going out again today, and again, I am going to cast off the chains of isolation wherever and whenever possible. I will again display my newly regained sense of freedom, although, not assertively. But I can’t help wondering about that dad and his two girls. I wonder how long it will be before one of them climbs in his lap and says “Dad, are the people with faces the same as us”?
I have always been a visual person. By that I mean, I have a tendency to observe, well, everything. My wife was fond of saying that I had the world’s largest collection of minutia. She may have been right.
I tend to notice the things we pass every day without really paying any attention to, or even acknowledging the presence of. Things like signs. Any sign. They are my anchor to the world that surrounds me. They are the identity of a town, a community, or a street. They are the businesses that want to let you know they are there. They are the people that want you to see their environment. Signs are the place markers that provide a sense of stability to our surroundings. A reminder that everything is not temporary. Some things have been and will be around for a long time.
It was with this in mind that I started to pay a little more attention to town signs. Not so much attention, but rather, how they either welcomed me or just let me know where I was. Some made me want to enter a town. Welcomed me even. Not just words, but a feeling. So, I started collecting pictures of some that I had the fortune to pass. Not all of them jumped out at me, but they all caught my eye for one reason or another.
Kittery is the first town that you pass through upon entering Maine from New Hampshire, and I thought it really did say welcome. Sitting next to a peaceful harbor, it has a warm feeling and, it gives you a little preview of what the state has to offer.
Wells is just a little further up the pike. I can’t say this one really grabbed me, but again, if my destination were in fact Wells, I would feel good about my arrival.
Freeport kind of said historic Maine. Old homes, mature trees, and a vibe that made you want to get out of your car and walk around. The word explore comes to mind.
Windham is one town over from where I live and was probably one of my least favorites. To be fair, it is not a tourist town, so the sign does what it is supposed to do. If you’re looking for Windham, it makes sure you don’t miss it.
Camden on the other hand is big time tourist. A beautiful harbor, shops, B&B’s, and cafe’s. You can bike, hike, sail, and shop, all in a rustic setting. Their sign kind of said rustic to me.
Kennebunk is another location that welcomes you with a theme, setting you up for expectations of boats and shops and wonderful seafood restaurants, and it doesn’t disappoint.
I think you get the idea. There is a lot to be said for a sign. It is more then just a symbol, marking a location, it is an introduction to a location, that if done right, makes you want to know more. So, that is why I saved the sign for my own town, Gray Maine for last. It is a pretty sign, and unto itself, is quite attractive. Now I know that we are not a tourist town. In fact our claim to fame is that if you are heading up into the heart of Maine to hunt, fish, hike, ski, shop, or just explore, you will probably go through Gray, and maybe stop at Dunkin’s. So we don’t really have a theme beyond “At The Heart Of It All”, which I guess kind of sums it up. But I also think that, beyond the physical sign, aesthetics play a big role in establishing a mental picture of a town.
So, I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I think we went a little overboard on our ‘Heart’ theme thing by placing our sign in front of a cemetery. However, It apparently worked for me. I did come here to retire.
There was a time when, if someone I knew well, told me something, I would accept it on face value. I had no reason to believe it was not true, or at least accurate. There was no reason for this person to tell me something that they themselves, did not believe.
However, over the last few years, I have become skeptical of the”facts” that made me think “what”? And, when tested, they frequently turned out to be an opinion gleaned from whatever channel they watched.
I’m not talking politics here. We all know how polarized any discussion about that is. I’m talking about how much trust you place in anything, spoken or read, regardless of who said or wrote it. Although I have found myself becoming more cynical over time, I have concluded it is not bad thing. It is, in fact, at least for me, a self induced security measure, helping me sift through things like all the science we were told supported the Covid19 conclusions made by the most learned among us. It also protects me from things like Facebook, but that is an enigma unto itself.
In today’s world, where fact checking has become a profession, and checking the fact checkers has become a necessity, it appears that the definition of ‘fact’ is “anything heard, seen, or read that agrees with our paradigms, without regard for verification”. If we want to believe it, it becomes a fact, at least to us. The next guy may not reach the same conclusions, therefore, turning certainties into tentatives. Opinions are often elevated to fact status because of an agenda. Stories are even manufactured for the express purpose of spinning them as fact to achieve a desired end.
I think personal responsibility has died an early death, or at least is in critical condition. We have become at best “an unidentified source”. It’s OK to say whatever, or write whatever because there is no downside. No one is going to penalize you for espousing here say as fact. Oh, they may criticize you in the media, but more often then not, the criticism is faceless. Anyone can say whatever they want because no one knows who ‘they’ are. Technology provides an excellent disguise. And mostly, any criticism takes the shape of a different fact, and the cycle begins anew.
So I guess I will just sit here, being my cynical self, fact checking, or more probably ignoring a lot of what passes before me. I will pick and choose what I want to believe and they will no doubt become my facts. Just as all the above is. Just as anything I write is. You can save yourself the trouble of verification. Everything has been fully analyzed and is 100% fact. Trust me.