These Days

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Hello all. Apologies for the extended absence. It's been a crazy busy few months - a crazy busy 6-8 months, really - at work. Things should quiet down now (she said hopefully). This upcoming weekend should, fingers, crossed, be the first weekend I haven't had to work (excepting when I was on vacation) in nearly that entire time.  As I said, crazy busy.

We've had one of the strangest winters and springs that I can recall. Believe it or not, the months of March and April were both colder - significantly colder - than February. The week of the 15th was typical of this atypical stretch. When I woke up on Tuesday morning the 16th, it was barely 40°F/4°C. It actually snowed in parts of New Hampshire and Maine. 

The next day, Wednesday the 17th, the high temperature was - believe it or not - 95°F (35°C). It was the first day of a three-day heatwave, with temperatures each day well above 90 temperatures.

To give you an idea of how big these extremes have been, I went from my winter coat and gloves on Tuesday to this on Wednesday:

Talk about wardrobe whiplash... Things became more seasonable last week, but it's still cooler than normal (I was sitting outdoors as I wrote this, but had to come inside because I was shivering). And tomorrow is looking even chillier, with yet more rain. On the bright side, we're no longer in drought conditions here in New England, as we have been for the past few years. Definitely a good thing, that.

All that being said, I'm hopeful that I can soon retire the coat and gloves, cute though they may be, and finally break out the sundresses at long last. Fingers crossed.  

Anyway, I promise to try to write more often. I know I've said that before, but hopefully this time I'll have enough time/energy to follow through. Quite a bit has been going on, and will be going on, so I'm hoping I can write about some of it here. Watch this space. Have a good week, everyone. :c)


I was originally going to post several songs from what is my favorite album so far this year, The Sadies' Northern Passages, but with the untimely passing of Gregg Allman this weekend I've decided to include a few personal favorites from his amazing career. 

First up is "Melissa," one of his most tender songs, with the Allman Brothers:

Next up is a ripping live version of my favorite Allman Brothers song, "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed." 

I saw them play a jaw-dropping version of this during their headlining set on the second day of the 2007 Newport Folk Festival. The interplay between them is breathtaking.

And to bring this post to a close, here is his moving rendition of Jackon Browne's "These Days," from 1973's Laid Back, his debut solo album.

Jackson Browne recorded it on his For Everyman album, also from 1973, although he actually wrote it in 1965, when he was 15(!).  A number of other artists have covered it over the years (Annie Clark, a/k/a St. Vincent, does a particularly affecting version), but for my money Allman's version is definitive. RIP, Gregg...

Back, Down

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Hello all. Work has been insanely busy, and it's been a while since I've had time to do anything else. So this will be brief.

My back, unfortunately, is still an issue. I've been wearing a brace for the past two weeks, something I've never, ever had to do before. (You can sort of see how bulky it is in the above photo.) After two weeks in it, the back feels slightly better, but is still quite stiff. It's almost certainly the result of stress. I don't see it going away for several more weeks, unfortunately, but hopefully the soreness will ease its grip on me before then.

It's been unseasonably cold the past 7-10 days, with record-setting temperatures. It's been one of the strangest winters I can recall - well above average temperatures *and* well above average snowfall at the same time. One reason I've been so stressed is that I haven't been able to do any running for nearly four months. Two extended bouts with bronchitis, an iffy stomach, and the aforementioned cranky back are the culprits. I'm sure the constantly yo-yo-ing temperatures aren't helping either.

Since exercise, particularly running, is by far the best method I've found to relieve stress, it's doubly frustrating that I've been unable to do much of it for some time. Hopefully the cold and snow - we received 12 inches/30 cm on Tuesday - will finally abate, and I'll be able to get outside after work and ease back into my usual workout routine. I cannot wait. 

Well, actually I can. I'll heed the lesson of my doctor, a fellow runner, when I asked her when I could start running again.

"Wait until your back is totally pain-free... then give it another week," she said. She knows me too well.

OK, time for this girl to run - metaphorically speaking only, alas. Sigh. Hopefully only for a bit longer...


I've been on a tight budget for some time now, for reasons I'll be able to explain later. I made an exception, however, when I read that Gary Clark, Jr. had a new live double album coming out this week. I wrote about my first time seeing him several years ago [LINK], and how incredible he was. This is his second live double album in three years, with a single studio album in between. 

For most artists that would be overkill. Not Clark, however. As adventurous as his studio albums are, his live shows are even better. He never plays a song the same way twice, and his blistering guitar playing alone is worth the price of the album. That he is a superb singer and songwriter on top of that merely seals the deal. (His outstanding longtime backing band, particularly rhythm guitarist King Zapata, who isn't exactly a slouch on guitar, is icing on the cake.) 

Based on two listens to the album since last night, this one is even better than his previous live effort. "When My Train Pulls In" is a highlight on both albums. While this scorching version is from Eric Clapton's 2013 Crossroads guitar festival, the version on the new album is equally incendiary. 

You know you have the goods when Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy watch your entire performance from the side of the stage, as they did in this case. Not bad for a skinny kid from Austin...

Back Off

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Hello all. I'm writing this on the third consecutive day of flat-out hot weather here in New England. It was 75°F (24°C) here yesterday. In February. (Needless to say, the above photo was not taken the past few days.)

Today is slightly cooler (66°F/18°C); still, this is still crazy-warm for February in New England. One week ago we had over two feet of snow on the ground; other than the remnants of several large piles in the corners of parking lots, it is now completely gone. While I am no fan of snow, temperatures this warm in the middle of winter here are more than a little unnerving.

That being said, follow along for more on the rest of my week.

Mid-Winter Musings

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Hello all. Hope this finds you well. It's been quite a while between posts, so please follow along below the fold for what I've been up to the past month-plus.

Conversations with C: Leftovers

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Hello all. Hope you're having a good week so far. Believe it or not, I'm only just now beginning to feel better from my bout with the flu. 

I was diagnosed with bronchitis (again) early last week after being sick for over a week already. I wound up being out sick all of last week. I battled bronchitis back in November as well, which leads me to believe it never really went away. 

I spent every day from New Years Eve until Sunday in bed, which is highly unusual for me. Generally even at my sickest I feel well enough after a few days to at least get out of bed; not this time, however.

I managed to go back to work this week - minus my voice, alas, which seems to have taken the brunt of the damage in its pitched battle with my nightly coughing fits. I want to give a heartfelt thank you to my colleague C, who kindly made me a drink combining hot water, honey, and lemon every day this week. It went quite a ways towards soothing my vocal cords. Thank you again, Mr. C! :c)

More below the jump...

Another New Year Flu By

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year, all. Hope you had all had a lovely holiday season.

I'm going to keep this short, for, as the title indicates, I'm battling the flu. Again. Sigh.

I had it back in November, and unfortunately it decided to pay a return visit just after Christmas.

I managed to fight it off for several days, but since Friday evening I've basically been in bed. Not necessarily sleeping, mind you; a wracking cough has been waking me up throughout the night.

I was hoping it would go away, but last night was the most unpleasant yet. It's painful to breathe at times as a result, and my ribs are sore as well. Bleah. I'm hoping it's not bronchitis (I had it in November as well), but I suspect it might be. It wouldn't be the first time I've had it multiple times in short order. Hopefully I'm wrong.

More to follow when I'm feeling up to it, including (buried lead alert) seeing my parents for the first time in nearly two years. The short version: I survived, helped in no small part by the presence of my sister and nephew. I think the result was the most I can hope for, under the circumstances.

Take care, everyone, and here's hoping 2017 is good to you all. :c)


Oh, and it probably goes without saying, but the photo above was not taken the past few days! :D It's from about three weeks ago. I wouldn't subject you to a shot of me now. ;-p


This feels like a particularly appropriate song to begin 2017. It's the leadoff track from R.E.M.'s great 1986 album Lifes Rich Pageant (sp). "Let's begin again," indeed.


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