Liberal Land Lunacy!
(or how did a nice Republican like me end up in a place like this?)
Alas, my time in Colorado was awesome, employed by Sun Microsystems
and having an office with the entire west wall windows and a sliding
glass door that let out onto a balcony, all in the shadow of Pikes
Peak! But even these good things must come to an end. Sun was my
first real computer employer (no more being the highest educated
drywaller in all of Colorado Springs) and even though reverse
discrimination abounded they did hire me, so I became fiercly loyal
to them. When they told us our site was being closed and we were
asked to move to Massachusetts, I jumped. One of four people who
did, the rest either quit Sun, or moved to CA, or hung on working
from home (before such a thing was all that common) until the campus
in Broomfield was built.
So here I am, living among liberals (so I thought!) It turns out that
these small town folks are a lot Republican, most of the evil stupid
democrats live in the cities like Boston. Unfortunately there are
so many of them we get stuck with their stupid laws (and taxes!!!
this is Taxachusettes after all) and stupid senators, the bozo's
Kerry and Kennedy. Ah well, at least every so many years I get the
EXTREME satisfaction of voting against them, which is something I
only dreamed about doing back when I lived in the United States.
Massachusetts isn't part of the US. I don't exactly know what country
it really is, but at least they do accept US currency (especially
when you are paying those taxes and racheted up insurance fees.)
Many folks are friendly but the true New Englanders are not, they
snub you like you are some kind of foreign invader. The first day I
went to work here and met the team, greeting them all with a How-ya
doin!!! attitude, they looked like they were ready to shoot me. I
am not the only one that notices this attitude, and they drive worse
than anyone I have seen anywhere (and I've driven in San Antonio,
Houston, Denver, Cleveland, Pittsburg, Philly, and NYC. MAYBE the
DC area is worse, but it's hard to imagine.) While they do eat a
lot of ice cream (redemption!) they resist things like progress or
change. Everything is an antique, every town, building, etc. Even
at my house I have a 200+ year old cart path that runs across my
property. I had to put in extra gates in my fence in case some 200+
year old farmer came strolling along and wanted to walk the path.
If it's on the ancient maps, it's gospel.
I moved here to the landscape of colonials and garrisons. Very few
houses have porches, so being the good Ohioan I am I built one right
across the entire front of my house. I could have afforded a house
a couple hundred thousand dollars more expensive, but dad always said
if you live well within your means you never have to worry about
keeping up with the Jones - you ARE the Jones! so we bought cheap.
Thus I could afford a porch, then a hot tub and gazeebo, a finished
basement, finished attic, additional bay windows, a huge chain link
fenced area, and oh yes a three car garage with a 24 by 40 room over
it. This year I added a 13 by 24 sunporch on an elevated deck
off the back of the house. That's the housing situation for us, a
little slice of Ohio and Colorado here in liberal land. Costs me a
lot more in taxes, of course, and imagine this - some folks living
around me grumbled a bit about it looking out of place. Waaaaa for
them. I noticed porches have sprung up all down my street, and
a whole lot of additions have also appeared. Hmmmmmm......
The snow's a lot worse here, with winter seeming to last about 10
months of the year. Some years are worse, some are milder. It
really isn't that bad - unlike Colorado, Mass gets all four seasons.
Spring is over in about 2 weeks, but we do get one! The snow, when
it comes, piles up and lays there all winter. One year our yard
disappeared in November and re-appeared in May. Because of some
fluke with our location, we'll have ice and snow on our yard when
people a few miles away are already mowing grass. I guess that
means I have less grass to mow, but that snow (and the abundance of
dark, cold days) gets pretty tiring. Not like Colorado with its
320+ days of sunshine a year.
Ok, lest you think Mass is just plain awful, (and having to deal
with uber-liberal senators, sky high insurance rates, and taxes and
taxes and taxes) there is a lot of good to say about it. The church
is better than awesome, the folks are great and opportunities abound.
That fall foliage with the kaleidoscope of colors can't be beat, not
anywhere that I know of. There are zillions of toads and frogs, if
you like that kind of thing (and I do!) and you hear them peeping
their hearts out all spring and summer. I am not a big fan of all
the mosquitos, but they haven't been so bad as they were when we
first moved here. The infamous black flies people complain so much
about really only last a couple weeks. The trees are tall, the
birds are plentiful, and we enjoy the raccoons, deer, foxes, crows,
porcupines, and turkeys that criss-cross our yard now and then.
While there are lots of snakes, supposedly none of the local ones
are poisonous (unlike CO!) and tend to eat bugs which is fine by me.
And by the way - we do have a lot of salmanders. But NONE OF THEM
have blue spots. If I ever saw one with blue spots, and I HAVE NOT,
it would quickly be moved to the other side of town where there
are known blue spotted colonys. Mass is one of those places where
people have had to give up their homes because of the critters. We
see the yellow spotted ones often, though, and they grow as long or
longer than the distance between your thumb tip and pinky. They
pretend to be slow and sluggish, but put one down and they can move
very fast once they think you aren't looking. The handful of turtles
we've caught also moved a lot faster than I expected.
Boring! Ok, some few random memories:
Dave the cub scout, and me going to camp with him each summer.
Lately he's grown out of scouts but I've become the chaplain at a
camp in mid-New Hampshire.
Dogs! We moved here with two, and buried one but replaced him
with 3 more. Four dogs are a pack (and a pain!) but I wouldn't
trade them for anything.
Summer interns at work. I've had over 30 of them now after all these
years. I've never had a bad one, but some of them have been heads
and shoulders better than the rest. UMass interns are the best!
MIT interns are the WORST. What snooty jerks!
The Big E (New England Exposition), which is the state fair of the
area. Not as big as the Ohio state fair, but a day trip of fun
nevertheless. I'm sure glad my bud Gary at work suggested it to me.
Jessica Rabbit. Not the cartoon one, the real one. Now where's
that time machine!
New Years Eve parties, in particular 2004? when we had all those
candy bars, 138 different ones I think. Folk still look back on
that with reverence!
Speaking of chocolate, the trips to the Cafe LeFleur with Kieran.
All chocolate, all the time, for $25 a head. Yum!
Lowell Spinner games. They're not the Sky Sox so you can't really
learn their names, but it's a live ballgame anyway and lots of fun.
This year, their 10th anniversary, I got all the bobble heads (10
of them) they gave out and bought a charity uniform right off the
relief pitcher's back. When I won, I was there with a couple of
our close friend familys from church and I pointed out the pitcher
on the mound was wearing my shirt! As we all looked at him, he
took that moment to blow his nose on the sleeve and wipe his sweaty
face on the other! I guess if he ever commits a crime I've got his
DNA on file!
My peach tree that finally gave me some lush peaches, enough to
almost break off the branches. But yum! Just wait for that black
cherry tree to kick in.
Turning 40 and my so-called friends that were so happy to remind
me all about it!
Dave working at the pizza joint and bringing me home extra pizza
or crazy bread now and then.
Duck tours of Boston and dinners at Fire and Ice.
The trip to Bar Harbor (for those from these parts, Bah Hahbah)
and the feeding of the insane seagulls. Dave (and Deniese!) really
enjoyed this one.
OF COURSE the trip to Yellowstone in 2006, what I think was the
nicest vacation in my life. It's worthy of its own write up, with
all the wacky and fun things that went on. Safari Kathy, Moose Holly,
Brave Matt, Lug Nut Robert, Camera Dave, Smokin' Deniese, Ice Cream
Randy, and Signpost Jessica just to touch a few highlights. You all
know who you are!
My cheap midlife crisis, where I bought a red convertible. Ok, it
was a Geo Metro convertible and I got it for $400 on ebay. Robert and
I put a new engine in by hand - no hoist. Come on, the motor only
weighs about 85 pounds! I told you I was cheap! And to top it off,
I went to the junkyard to buy some parts for it and came home with a
white one for my wife.
The crazy roads. From Boston's common, you can SEE the Swiss Hotel
but don't try to drive there. All the roads go the wrong way! And
even out here in the country, you drive along and it's Townsend road
then Pepperell road, then Lowell road. And you never turned!!! What
is wrong with calling it just one name and leaving it at that? Even
the interstate I-95 is also SR128 and something else or other.
Houses and barns connected in one big long house-barn thing. Very
cool, so you can feed your horses without ever going outside, I
guess. Makes for some looong (and maybe smelly?) houses.
People everywhere. I mean everywhere, there's simply nowhere you
can go where there isn't someone there. The towns are crowded,
the country is full of houses, etc. I'm suprised the animals can
find anywhere to live.
The power going out. They don't bury the utility lines here, so
every time a tree or branch falls on the lines we lose power. I
don't recall the power going out in Colorado, ever, but then the
utility lines are all buried there...
But I know why they aren't buried. Rocks grow in my yard! Every
year I dig them up, about football sized, and every year more grow.
No wonder there are so many rock walls here, all over the place!
Yet more cart peeling parties with the guys as we watched football
on the big screen some sunday afternoons.
Millie and Neil living with us. It was nice having Deniese's sister
living here, even though we didn't see much of her and Neil because
they hid in their bedroom and hardly ever came out. I liked chatting
with Neil, and wish he was still around once in a while.
Spike the african water frog eating junebug after junebug with her
pac-man like mouth, and finding her in the dog's water bowl after
yet another famous escape!