Tag Archives: Portland

As they used to say on Futurama: Good news everyone

Greetings, readers. The novel based on my play, Four’s a Crowd by Darren Taylor, went live for sale on Amazon.com this past Saturday. It took a few days for them to finalize something, I don’t know what it was, but now copies can be purchased by anybody. I ordered two copies for myself, and they were shipped late yesterday afternoon. I’m going to talk to a friend of mine who owns a local bookstore and see if she will take three or four copies on consignment. I think she will. She took copies of my three books, Picking Up Where We Left Off: My Bear Spring Camps Stories, Tales from North Bay & Beyond: More Bear Spring Camps Stories, and Greetings, Readers: A Year in the Life of a New Blogger, so it stands to reason she will take this book too.

I can’t believe it is late June already and my trip to Bear Spring Camps is a little over a month away. Time is flying. From what I am seeing on people’s Facebook posts, the weather and the fishing have been good. Two big thumbs up for that. I’ve made all my preparations, I’ve booked the hotel rooms and rental car for the trip up and back. The only thing left to do it wash clothes, pack, and find all the electronic gadgets and equipment that I wish to take with me. I am ahead of schedule from last year. I’ll need to get out the old checklist and update it. I’ll also need to find a few things, like my fishing rod which I did not put it back in its usual spot. Not to worry, for as my mom used to say, there is always Wal-Mart, and a half-decent Zebco rod can be purchased for around $20.

I’ll be bunking overnight in Portland Maine this year, in a Motel 6. I’m very excited to be staying by Casco Bay. I tell you, if I ever move away from State College, it would be to Portland, Maine. I would get season tickets to the Portland Sea Dogs and would be that much closer to Bear Spring Camps for summer vacation.

On to a different topic, her royal highness, Princess Josie, the kitten, has been terrorizing my furniture and my legs with her sharp claws. Thank goodness I am taking her for her first check up on July 6th. A good nail clipping is first on the list. I don’t think she will need any shots, but since I took over ownership from someone else, I think I will check with that person to make certain. Josie has been acting like a young kitten recently, being rambunctious and spending quite a while in the penalty box, stretched out and sleeping on her towel. I also give her treats if she goes in by herself. I would love that to happen more often. Ha, ha, ha.

Lastly, I survived the hottest day of the year a few days go, with temperatures near 90 degrees F and high humidity. Although I will take it over freezing to death any day, it was quite a large temperature hike in a 24 hour period. My body did not like it. I dragged that day and went to bed early that evening.

Tomorrow’s blog entry is going to be an update on my writing projects this summer. It is not going as well as I hoped, but I still have some time to get those creative juices flowing. More details tomorrow. So until then, take care, have a great day, and as always, happy reading.

Out of the Park Baseball 18 is a hoot

Greetings, readers. About a month ago I purchased from Steam a really good-looking baseball video game. I watched the trailer, and thought to myself, that’s for me. The price was right, and I love sports games, so I clicked purchase and downloaded it. My fun was just beginning.

Obviously I was going to take a good look around the game to see what it had to offer. I quickly learned that the graphics when playing a game are something from the 1990s. That, my readers, is this game’s only downfall. OOTPB18 more than makes up for the bad graphics with every conceivable statistic you could want and several game modes you can choose from. You can be the manager of the team or the general manager and hire and fire as you see fit. You can play a season from any year 2017 all the way back to the beginnings of baseball, including the Negro leagues. I’m not certain if all the correct players are there since the Negro leagues were before my time, but I imagine that they have as many correct names as they could find, with all appropriate statistics. There is an on-line mode which someday I will try out and all major league teams have their own appropriate farm systems in place. lt is such fun to watch the Portland Sea Dogs – the Boston Red Sox AA team – play a season.

Now, for my favorite part. You can create your own league. When I saw this, I went bananas. I spent an entire evening putting together my new league. The NABL, or North American Baseball League. I have two teams in Mexico, one in Cuba, and yes, Montreal has a team again, the Montreal Mounties. With me being from Pittsburgh, you just know I had to have a team representing my home city. The Pittsburgh Steel Hounds got off to an 8-2 start and have fallen on hard times since. I tried to renegotiate a new contract with my best player and when he didn’t respond, I withdrew the offer, intending to make it better, but to my surprise and utter disappointment, he, “will no longer negotiate with this team.” Now I know how George Steinbrenner felt.

Another cool feature is the daily news page, complete with newspaper, all the leagues’ activities, team injuries, and standings. It’s your whole league in a nutshell. This is what I do when I get up in the morning; I check my team’s page as I sip my morning coffee.

Also, there is a fantastic feature called real-time simulation. When activated, the games will be played at true-to-life speed. You see just the box scores in this mode, which in itself is intriguing. If there is a pitching change needed in any of the games, there will be a pause of a few minutes. That is how real this game is. If you choose to view the game, it will speed up again.

This is one of those games that I am going to discover something new about a month from now. It is never going to get old to me. Me and my North American Baseball League will be very happy I’m sure for many seasons to come.

Here is my final score, no pun intended. Graphics: 4 out of 10. On-line mode: bravo, lets give that a 10. Statistics: 10. Ease of Operation: 9. Features: 9.5. Bringing the final score to a 8.5.

A side note for you. Because of my fall last week I have a follow-up doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning. I didn’t want to take another personal day, but I also don’t want to damage the foot if there is something wrong that can be taken care of now. Rebecca will have another blog up tomorrow, and I will be back next week, hopefully for both blog days.

Until then, have a great day, take care, and happy reading.

Bear Spring Camps 2017 was a smashing success

Greetings, readers. I am back from Bear Spring Camps and ready to begin work again. I am feeling energized with many ideas for blog entries and personal writing projects. I sat in my cabin every evening listening to the crickets and the loons while I was deep in thought reflecting on the year to come.

First of all let me tell you about my rental car. OMG! The 2017 Hyundai Tucson is that company’s small SUV. It had adequate space, more than enough power and every gadget and readout known to man. With cruise control on the interstates it averaged 31.5 miles per gallon. Not too shabby. Along with the GPS unit I purchased, I was easily able to go on my side trips. I stopped at Portland, Maine on the way up and on the way back, and even spent an hour at Hampton Beach in New Hampshire. I used my computer’s webcam to take a few snapshots. Only one turned out very well and I put it up on Facebook.

I used the computer’s webcam to take this photo. I think it really well.

As Rebecca said in her blog entry a couple of weeks ago, I got a late start the Thursday morning I left for camp and was only about 30 miles down the highway at lunchtime. I stopped at the Flying J truck stop for lunch, over ate, and then had to blare music and freeze myself with air conditioning just to stay awake. The Hyundai had Sirius XM radio, which I took advantage of quite a bit. Did I love that car? I put 1,455 miles on it. That should answer the question. I always tell myself I will drive back to Maine during the year but that never seems to happen, nor do I think it will this year. I will have to return to using Zipcars for my driving around town.

Driving down the lane to my cabin for the first time brought back all the wonderful memories of years gone by. I felt Mom with me in the car and in the cabin many times. I had a nice surprise; the tree in front of my front porch was trimmed back a bit, giving me a better view of the lake.

It rained a bit more than usual. When it was raining, I had to go inside and close the door. At night time I don’t mind that. During the day there is not much to do. I tried a couple of times on rainy afternoons to connect to the Dunkin’ Donuts internet in Waterville and I am sorry to say I didn’t have much success. I always got coffee and a doughnut. Not much changed in Waterville or Belgrade Lakes, but not much ever does.

I went early morning fishing just once and it was a truly magical experience. For a short time we were fog bound, then it lifted to be a gorgeous morning. The lake’s water level was higher than it has been in a number of years. That was good for people with pontoon boats like me. I’m already signed up for next year and am eagerly awaiting August 4th.

I had one disposable camera and I think that 25 out of the 27 shots will be good ones. On two occasions the camera was slipping out of my hand when I heard the click, so I will have a beautiful blurry shot of a boat seat and another of my foot. Better to do that then drop the camera and lose all my pictures.

When I came home Sunday afternoon, Keekee was beside herself. She meowed, jumped on me and nuzzled, wanted food and lots of loving. She is a happy kitty cat once again. I am sure her extra affectionate mood will calm down when she realizes that I will not be going anywhere else again soon.

How would I rate this trip? Family and friends: 10 out of 10; the weather: only 7 out of 10 [more rain than usual]; fishing: 8 out of 10 [usual for me, fantastic for others. Both Dave and his nephew Cole caught pickerel and pike.] Food; 10 out of 10 as usual. For an overall score of 8.75 out of 10.

There is a summary of this year’s Maine voyage. As much as I loved being there, it is good to be back so we can get to work. Until tomorrow, take care, have a wonderful day, and happy reading.

Bear Spring Camps 2016 was one of the best ever

Greetings, readers. I can’t believe I’ve been home almost a week. Time is flying already. In the early morning hours I’ve had time to reflect on this past vacation. I have so many fond memories. Were some things different? Yes, and even though I don’t love change, I must admit, I enjoyed the changes.

For the first time since I’ve been going without Mother to Bear Spring Camps, I traveled up with Dave Trost and family in their minivan. I was still able to take most of the things I always took, and seeing the sights as a passenger again was welcomed. We did leave for Maine, and leave from Maine, early in the morning. So the first few hours were in the dark. We had to pick up David’s daughter Emily’s friend in New York City; that was most interesting. We drove right by Newark International Airport. As some of my regular readers know, I am a flight simulator hobbyist, and have “flown” out of that airport many times. Everything looked so familiar.

As we approached New Hampshire in the daylight, I anticipated seeing the Piscataqua River Bridge and my favorite state of Maine. The Trosts take a different route than I do when I am driving the route to camp, and shoot off from I-95 to I-295. Somehow the Lord must have awakened me at the proper time, for just as I opened my eyes, we were passing Portland and I got to see the baseball stadium, the East Deering Swing Bridge, and the B&M Baked Bean factory. It was like someone plucked me from the vehicle and put me back in my train simulator. What a thrill!

We arrived at camp in time for dinner, the noon meal, and right away I noticed a major change. The wooden dining table chairs, which I had seen since childhood, were replaced with brand new metal chairs. Oh, my. After the shock of “I hate new things” wore off, I accepted Dave’s logic that they will be much easier to clean. Before the vacation was over, I must admit, I actually liked them better.

The first few days were quite routine, picking right off where we left off, visiting friends, taking the boat out, and doing all the things we did 52 weeks before. As I mentioned in my first camp book, it truly feels like you never left. We pushed the play button and continue the movie. An odd but wonderful sensation.

Mid-week brought the heat wave and Thursday’s happy hour. Tallie, a Mosher family relative, came for her annual visit and boat ride. It was a gorgeous day. Tallie and I took many pictures with various views of the lake.

The rain came on Friday. That was fine with me, for we got our morning fishing in before it really came down, and then the afternoon was for packing anyway. I must say, I was grateful for the rain; it was way too dry in New England. Leaves were already turning.

Before departure evening, allow me to share what I consider the highlight of the trip. Dave’s nephew Cole had the fishing day of fishing days. He caught a couple of white perch, several bass, and his prize, a 24 inch pike. He had that for supper, before he ate his lobster, and enjoyed every bite. Cole was using top water lures for the most part and got extremely excited when a good fish was on his line. He’ll even agree that he sounded like a little kid, whooping and cheering, and yes, shaking. After the pike was reeled in, he needed help to get the fish unhooked, not only because the fish was biting the net, but Cole couldn’t control his shaking hands. So yay, Cole, on the best fishing day I have seen in quite a while.

Finally, the last night was bittersweet. Packing preparations were made with the checks and double checks to make sure nothing was left behind. Then it was time to wait. Dave and family leave early in the morning, so I slept from 9:30 until about 2am. I sat patiently until they arrived in a driving rain to pick me up at 3:30. I went back to New Jersey with them, for what they call lobster fest. It was delicious. I then took a bus from Harrisburg back home.

Overall, I consider this one of my finest Maine vacations. It was relaxing, stress-free, I walked a lot, and eat like a horse. I give this vacation a 9 and a half out of 10. Had there been more Yahtzee, it would have been perfect.

Until next week, have a good weekend, take care, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Struggling for a topic

First, the update on Joe and Keekee. Joe is in Maine, he crossed the border into the state about 10:00 this morning. He went up to Portland and called from there to say he was having a really good time. Keekee is her normal self for the week Joe leaves; she mainly slept and ignored me yesterday. She may need more attention today when I go over there, since she was alone for the night, or she might just need me for soft food. (She has an abundant supply of dry available to her 24/7, but she prefers the canned soft food.)

I’m beginning to wonder how Joe does this blog twice a week, every week. I’m sitting here trying to think of a good topic and the only thing I can come up with is: I should be more fit and doing stretching exercises, but I probably won’t because I’ve been thinking that for a few years now and I haven’t done it yet. I don’t like to change my routine. I started to write that but after one paragraph it wasn’t going anywhere and I deleted it. I definitely seem to blog better when I’ve written something out ahead of time. Joe though, will lean back in his chair, think a moment, and then start dictating on a topic that just came to him that day. Sometimes he knows ahead of time what he wants to write about, but a lot of times he will pull it out on the spot. I will type it, we will edit it, and another entry will be done. He often struggles for a topic, but he always finds one.

So, for the entry next Wednesday, I will prepare a bit more and have a better topic than, wow this is hard. I will also have an update on Joe and Keekee, for those of you who are interested. Until then, as Joe would say, have a good weekend and happy reading.

Getting ready for camp is filling my brain

Greetings, readers. Another Thursday blog entry. With all reservations made early this year, I find myself wanting to dig out the list and begin to put things for camp in a special spot in my apartment. When I was little, my mom would always put everything by the closet doors in the foyer. That was her special spot. The night before the car got packed, that area was so full of stuff that we couldn’t even open the closet doors. With my small apartment, I don’t have that big an area, and it is a little too early anyway.

I do have my list on the computer and it’s already updated. Things I’m taking include a flashlight and batteries, an umbrella, a radio, and a GPS unit. And, of course, my clothes neatly packed.

This year’s side trip, if I can find it, is going to be a certain street in Portland, Maine called Commercial Street. I have seen a representation of that street all year in the Train Simulator computer game. To my happy surprise, when I did some research on Google Earth, everything was exactly as the computer game depicted. I can’t wait to see it. I’m going to purchase at least two disposable cameras. I’ve been keeping up to date with the weather in Maine and it has been good. Hopefully that trend will continue through my vacation. Something I’m going to add to my list, which I’ve never brought before, will be books from the library in case it rains.

Speaking of books, unfortunately no new pages of the Dickens book I’m reading were read this morning. I wanted to try to read some of it every morning. But my sinuses said no. I told Rebecca to come late so I could have a nap. I am 50 years old, I’m entitled.

Yes, there will be a blog entry tomorrow, but I had this idea and I thought let’s do it. I realize we have been blogging a little bit more than usual the last couple of months, but inspiration strikes. Rebecca and I continue to set aside Wednesday and Friday as our blog days.

This morning I awoke to a wonderful sight. It was something called blue sky and no clouds. It had been cloudy and rainy pretty much since this past Sunday. After work hours, I’m going to go run a couple of errands and fully enjoy the sunshine.

If you have good weather then enjoy it, do take care, and until tomorrow happy reading.