Monday, September 21, 2009

Becky's Birthday

A group of us got together to celebrate Becky's birthday. It was her wish to go to The Brewery in Lowell for dinner followed by shooting pool, throwing darts and playing air hockey upstairs. It all sounded reasonable to me.

It was like a field trip.

At dinner she got her collective present - a Mandoline. In addition, she got a ton of cards. Just yesterday she had the opportunity to play her mandoline. I understand she cut up over five pounds of egg plant in perfect slices. But that's another story.

I had never been to The Brewery in Lowell. It is in an old converted mill building, much like almost everything else is in the old mill towns. There was lots of open space, high ceilings and brick work. We all got different meals; I had a pizza that was really good.

The Brewery is also a microbrewery and they had a bunch of their best available. Not sure what to get, Becky & I shared the sampler. We got a sample of four of their beers, one of which was 14% alcohol and definitely put a spin on my supper.

We then went upstairs for the fun and games. Air hockey was cool. I was 1 - 1. Shooting pool, I had Becky on the ropes but lost when I scratched on the eight ball. Well, she was the Birthday Girl, after all. Onto darts.

It had been a long time since I'd played darts. The dart board was not quite far enough away for me to have to wear glasses but just far enough away that there was a little fuzzines around the edges. However, in my best beer style, I hung in there and made a credible showing. I thought the darts were better than what you'd expect to find at a bar and I was right. As we packed up for the evening, the darts went into the case of one of our party. Hmnn.

Afterwards, we went back to the house where cake and ice cream was served. How old are we? Well, there was some wine flowing so I guess we were some kind of adults, maybe just trying to re-live an earlier time. Maybe it's just that those earlier times were actually more fun than the ones we can't quite remember being at.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Last Night's Dream

Flying. My dream last night had to do with flying. I remember visiting somewhere, a place where my friends would meet, almost like a club house or a meeting house. For some reason one of the guys had an AK 47 assault rifle and I knew that was going to cause us trouble. A minute later, after showing us the rifle, sure enough the authorities came. I thought, or said to the group, we need to get out of here before things get really bad.

I took off out of a window and flew into the sky. As I rose I needed to avoid the electrical wires strung from the building to the pole. At first I tried to go between the wires but they were too close together and so I decided to go under them and then rise up into the sky.

I never fly high, just enough to clear obstructions, it seems. Sometimes I get way up in the sky, to get a view that encompasses a wide area, but mostly I like to travel just above the highest object I need to clear.

As I flew over the rooftops and skimmed the treetops, I kept an eye out for the authorities that had entered the building. I saw they'd captured the rifle and were going after the group of us. For some reason, though I was not a leader, a ringleader, or even associatied with the rifle, I felt I was being sought, somehow through association with the group.

At another point in the dream I flew through the window of someone's house. It was the home of an elderly couple. They were downstairs; I went in through their bedroom window. They were talking as I went through their house; for some reason I wanted to exit from their front door. They saw me but didn't question my being in their house. They were familiar to me, more like in a neighborly sense than as friends.

As I opened their door to go out, I saw the authorities coming and so had to change course. I went back through their house, upstairs and out the window of a back room. As I flew out of the window I once again had to avoid the electrical wires. I cleared the rooftop and flew into and through the tree in their back yard.

Across the rooftops I flew, out into clear, open land. I flew high over a large expanse of fields and open land. It was a liberating feeling, soaring and gliding and moving in long sliding arcs. I would take these long dips toward the ground then, when getting close, would arc back up into a long upward slide to gain height.

At one point I returned to the meeting house, to see what had happened. The house was empty. I was walking around inside and saw the box the rifle had been in. Hearing the sound of people coming up the stairs I looked and saw the authorities coming. I had to once again head out the window, flying up onto the rooftop where I watched the building become surrounded by authorities and interested on-lookers. Someone pointed to the rooftop; apparently, I had been noticed.

I took off again, climbing into the sky, away from the adversity. Feeling free once more, I flew through the branches of a tree as I gained altitude. I could feel the leaves brush against me as I went. I could feel the warmth of the sun as I broke through into the clear sky.

It was probably at that point that I woke up. It was such a vivid dream. There was color, though the inside of the meeting house and the authorities were a drab brown. The elderly couple's house was bright. They had wallpaper of some type of pattern that was clean and comfortable. Trees were brown, leaves green. Electrical wires were black. The sky was blue and the fields green.

Surprisingly, the dream stayed with me long enough for me to write it down although now that I am doing so it is fading from my consciousness. I know that when I start to edit this writing, it will all slip into obscurity, the way most dreams do.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rafting the Deerfield

Last month a small group of us went out to western MA and took a rafting trip down the Deerfield River. Class 4 water most of the way.

I had always wanted to go river rafting; tubing the Gunpowder River in Baltimore County was fun but kind of tame, by comparison. I wasn't sure about taking on the Colorado River, what with the logistics of the journey an' all, so the prospect of going local on a somewhat comparable river was exciting.

Rafting on the Deerfield, according to our guide, was every bit as like rafting the Colorado in terms of the difficulty, the runs just weren't as long. I thought of it like the way skiing on the east coast is compared to skiing in Colorado: the pitch was about the same, but out west the run is just about ten times longer.

Our day started by arriving at the check-in, getting complimentary coffee and settling down to listen to the guides tell us the do's & don'ts, the way flight attendants tell flyers what to do in case of an emergency. If you fall out of the raft, we were told, assuming you had your life jacket on securely, first try to work your way back to the raft; if not, float on your back, keep your feet up and, as you go down river work your way over to the side.

If, however, they said, you are close enough to be grabbed by a person in the raft then that person should grasp you by the jackets' lapels and pull you on board, right on top of them. Which is what happened on our raft.

The person sitting in the front right position got bounced out of the raft. She hit the water, had a look of momentary fear and panic, and then in the next second was being hauled up and over the gunnel, safe and sound.

We were in the first of 7 rafts that day. Our guide was responsible for all seven rafts and so we went first and then watched as the others caught up with us. He took some time to jell us into a well-coordinated crew (and also to test our moxie); as a result, as we waited for the others to run the rapids we'd spend time in the hydraulics letting the raft fill & drain and having us spin around in circles.

I enjoyed spending time in the hydraulics. We were in a wave/trough that was about 4 feet deep. If you weren't careful it could get very nasty very quickly but the seven of us in our raft, six plus the guide, worked well together and so it was fun.

At one point in one of the hydraulics I thought back to the beginning of the day, when we were getting ready to take the bus to the put-in point on the river. I thought I'd make one last stop at the bathroom before getting on the bus. I had put my ring of keys on my little finger, since I didn't have any pockets in my bathing suit, in preparation to putting them in the box of keys along with everyone else's at the bus. As I reached and flushed the toilet, my keys slid off my finger and right down the hydraulic created by the action of the flush.

The run down the river was a good time for all of us. In addition to spending time in the hydraulics, our guide had us turn around in circles, make our way across the river to the more interesting parts of the rapids, and generally spice up the trip, since he had pegged us all as competent thrill-seekers.

At the end of the trip we were all able to float down river about a hundred yards, to get the feel of what it would be like to do so, and then catch the extended line to get over to the side. I guess while we had fun floating, the guides had a chance to practice their rescue skills. It was a win-win for everyone.

Tired, wet and satisfied, we all took the bus back to the building in which the day started and had a big lunch. I'm not sure how good the food was but I was so hungry that I ate my fill and then some.

Triple A was very prompt, opening my car door so I could get the extra key I always keep in my wallet, which in this case was in the car.

And, it was for sure I slept well that night.

Rafting down the Deerfield. Okay. Now I'm ready for the Colorado River. Then again, maybe not.