Halfway Home

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Hello all. Hope everyone had a good weekend.

The big news in this corner of the blogosphere is that I received my first vaccination this past week. I'd been attempting to line up an appointment for several weeks (i.e. as soon as I was eligible), using a number of tools to search for appointments. 

One thing I learned quickly is that she who hesitates is lost - or at least shut out from that round of appointments. You basically had to responds literally within seconds upon receiving a notification or everything would be booked. 

I finally landed one through the state-run program, and was scheduled to get one in Boston on Friday afternoon at the Hynes Convention Center in the Back Bay neighborhood (for those unfamiliar with Boston, think the traditional image of Boston, with the brick house buildings and the gas lamp style streetlights; that's the Back Bay). While getting into and out of the city is a hassle, thanks to Boston's notoriously awful traffic, and I'd been hoping to find something closer, I was still genuinely pleased to finally have an appointment. 

Just as I was leaving to head into Boston on Friday, I received one of the "appointments available" text message alerts. Out of habit I opened it up - and there were suddenly multiple vaccinations available at multiple nearby locations. I hadn't seen a single one closer than about 25+ miles until this.

I decided to click the link to see what was available, expecting the usual notice that all available were taken - but lo and behold, I was able to snag one in the next town over. I could hold the reservation for three minutes, so I quickly checked to see if it was still possible to cancel the appointnent in Boston, I didn't want to take a time slot away from anyone else at either location, needless to say. Fortunately, it was possible, so I cancelled in Boston and registered for the shot at the nearby pharmacy. 

And how did the appointment (using the Pfizer vaccine, in case anyone was curious) go? Just fine. As predicted, my arm was sore around the injection site, particularly for about 8-10 hours afterwards. It's still a bit sore, but basically it's just slightly more than a typical shot. Other than that, I just feel more tired than usual today, which is also common. I've taken it easy today (no 10K runs today, needless to say).

I'm now registered for the second shot, in three weeks time, which I am very much looking forward to. I think I've mentioned that my parents, sister, nephew, and niece have already been vaccinated, so I was the lone straggler. I'm looking forward to being to see my sister and my nephew C in person without a mask for the first time in a long, long time.

So, as the post's title indicates, I'm halfway there. I felt as if I've been in one of those suspended states of animation for quite some time on a number of fronts, as past posts have indicated. Hopefully the new apartment (which I'm really enjoying - as is my little menagerie in the photo above) and this are a sign things may start to move in the right direction. Fingers crossed.

That will do it for this post. Hope everyone has a great week. :c)


Bonus photo: this was the view from my kitchen window on Friday, April 16th:

Suprise! We wound up with about an inch where I live, but friends in central Massachusetts received over half a foot (~16 cm). It was also very cold for April here: just above freezing all day. It was 80°F/25°C just a few days before. Similarly, yesterday was sunny/75°F (23°C); today was rainy/48°F)(°C). .Such is spring in New England...


A few songs to wrap up this post. We'll begin with one from the late, great Levon Helm. This is his version of Buddy & Julie Miller's "Wide River To Cross," from his wonderful 2007 album Dirt Farmer:

Here's a gorgeous Julie Miller song - hymn, really - from her 1997 album Blue Pony. This is "By Way Of Sorrow":

I listen to this one a lot when I'm feeling down. She is a brilliant songwriter (as is her husband Buddy).

Finally, one last Julie Miller song, covered by Emmylou Harris on her landmark 1995 album Wrecking Ball. Here's her stunning version of "All My Tears."

As the unmistakable sound indicates, Wrecking Ball was produced by Daniel Lanois, a longtime favorite of this blog. I was fortunate enough to see Emmylou tour behind this album, with Daniel Lanois and his band backing her up. It was an incredible show, as you would imagine.

Until next time, then...

Musings: Thru With The Two Step

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Hello all, and a happy mid-week to you. Just wanted to put together a brief post to stay in the writing zone. 

I'm pretty tired tonight; a car alarm kept going off every half hour or so last night from midnight until almost 4:00 AM. It sounded as if AAA finally came and towed it away, so it must have been an electrical problem. I had long since conceded defeat to getting a decent night's sleep by then, unfortuantely. I can get by on 4-5 hours, but I got less than three last night, and I'm feeling it right now.

One other, much more positive, reason I'm dragging a bit is that I'm running again. I'm still in the very early stages, where my only goal is to rebuild my stamina. I had an online appointment with my doctor this morning, who is also a runner. She nodded sympathetically when I mentioned I'd started up again. She agreed that the first few weeks of starting again from scratch (which I am, for all intents and purposes) just, well... suck. :c) There's nothing to do but keep the big picture in mind  and work through it. It will be worth it in another 2-3 months when I start seeing serious results. And having done it once before I know the payoff will come. So as the blog title says, it's through with the two step, each day.

As I've mentioned in recent posts, I'm determined to get out of the long-standing rut where I've been for too long. Without going into details, my doctor's appointment today will help. As we were finishing she said she knows I'll get past this rut, and said I'm one of the most determined patients she's ever had. That was a nice thing to hear. Positive feedback like that goes a long way.

OK, that will do it for now. I'm off to take a shower, then hopefully get a decent night's sleep. Ciao, everyone...


I was sorting through moving boxes over the weekend and pulled out an old favorite from my record collection: Robert Plant's second post-Zeppelin solo album, The Principle of Moments (1983), which for me is his best solo album. 

I'll start with a song that was running through my head (no pun intended) during yesterday's jaunt through the neighborhood - "Through With The Two Step."

Next is one of the album's two hit singles - "In The Mood": 

One reason it's such a great song is the unmistakable drumming of Phil Collins. I was lucky enough to see Plant's tour to support the album - his first as a solo artist - and even luckier because Collins was the dummer in his touring band. I've never understood the flack some people give Collins; the man was a monster drummer. Just listen to the drums in the song's instrumental break, around the 3:05 mark. Seriously great playing. 

(Having watched the video for the first time in I don't know how long, I have to say: it is really, really weird. lol I still haven't figured out how the housewives at the 1:28 mark figure into things... but I sure do love their look! Maybe for my next Halloween costume...)

The other hit from the album was "Big Log." I don't care much for most music videos, but this one is a standout; it perfectly captures the song's dreamy, mysterious, other-worldly feel.  

I always loved how it ends too; you get the sense this scenario plays out over and over as each new person arrives. 

I'll wrap up with my favorite song from Mr. Plant, one which never actually appeared on an album proper. "Far Post" was recorded during the sessions for Pictures at Eleven, Plant's solo debut album from 1982, but inexplicably didn't make the album. Again, Phil Collins drums are a highlight: 

It's funny what you remember; I distinctly recall this song receiving extensive airplay on WBCN-FM & WCOZ-FM, Boston's two biggest rock stations at the time, in the fall of 1982. I have vivid memory of hearing it on COZ's Thursday night Top Ten countdown that autumn as it climbed the chart all the way to the top spot. Quite impressive for a song that at the time was only available as the B-side to an import single (if memory serves). I liked it enough that I trekked all the way into Boston to Newbury Comics (which is still around and still great) to buy the single. And all these years later it still sounds great...

'Til next time, everyone...

A Sort of Homecoming

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Hello all, and Happy Easter to those who observe it. Hope your weekend was good, and that the Easter Bunny was generous. :c)

As mentioned in my last post, Thursday was moving day to my new apartment. It was an intense, draining experience (I had barely two weeks from viewing the apartment to moving day), but the hardest part is over. I still have some unpacking to do, and the apartment needs some additional work on the part of the landlord (finishing repainting in the living room and spare bedroom, fixing the fan in the bathroom), but overall it's in good shape.

It's funny; this is is less than a quarter-mile from my previous apartment, and about five houses from the apartment previous to that (hence the title of this post). But even though it's not that far distance-wise from my most recent apartment, it really does feel like a homecoming. This apartment is really quiet, which is a welcome change of pace. 

And even though it's only a quarter-mile away, this feels much homier. I went for a run today on one of my old routes. It was my first run in over a year, so I have a long way to go to get back to where I was headed pre-pandemic, but I'll get there. More on that in my next post (along with plans & progress on other post-move goals).


Back to settling in. My sister and nephew came over Saturday afternoon to help me with the unpacking. My sister also picked out some curtains for the apartment. She has a real eye for interior design, so I'm happy to defer to her in these matters. I have to say, curtains make a *big* difference. 

Once the painting is done early this week, my nephew and I are going to hang some pictures. And after we finish we'll get dinner from his favorite restaurant, which, by sheer coincidence, is literally across the street from where I now live. (I'm sure spending quality time with his favorite aunt is the real draw for C, not the chicken cutlet & fettuccine house specialty, right? ;D)

My sister also brought a few housewarming gifts, including one of her beloved candles (she *loves* candles):

She also brought a really cute plant holder (see the top photo) - and, to my surprise, an Easter basket. Check it out: 

I saved the best for last. Check out the adorable gift I received from my dear friend Halle:

Needless to say, this occupies pride of place in my living room. :c) Thank you very much, Miss D!!! 

OK, time to wrap this one up. Have a great week, everyone!


I'll end with a few U2 songs, starting with the song that provided the title of this post. This "A Sort of Homecoming," the opening track of their 1984 classic The Unforgettable Fire:

Next is the title track from the same album, one of their most beautiful and mysterious songs:

The Unforgettable Fire was a transitional album for U2 between their first three albums (Boy, October, & War) and their commerical high point, 1987's The Joshua Tree. War had been a beakthrough album for them, but rather repeat its sound, they chose to take a risk and completely retool their sound. One result of that is that the band chose to leave off some excellent songs that simply didn't fit their evolving sound. This is "The Three Sunrises":

Another standout track that didn't make the cut for The Unforgettable Fire is one of their most beautiful songs - "Love Comes Tumbling":

You're definitely on a songwriting roll when songs as gorgeous as this are relegated to B-sides (and, in the case of these two tracks, the Wide Awake In America EP).

That will do it 'til next time, everyone!

My New (Old) Beat

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Hey folks. Happy end of week to everyone. Just wanted to write something up tonight because (dramatic pause): I moved into my new apartment today. Phew... it was quite the adventure pulling off a move in less than two weeks while working 50+ hours. But it's done.

I liked my old apartment (really, the first floor of a house) well enough, but this is substantially larger (my bedroom is nearly twice the size of the old one), and much quieter. Much as I enjoyed my landlord's children, having a four-year-old tearing around directly above me for hours on end was less than fun. 

Now I live above a small office, and the only other apartment unit is rented by two young residents who are studying at local hospitals. I heard them come in earlier this evening, but haven't heard a sound since, which is what the landlord told me to expect.

I think I mentioned in a previous post that this is a block away from another apartment I rented several years ago. I like this neighborhood in general, but particularly because my favorite restaurant is across the street and, even better, because I now have access to the running routes I used when I started running about 5-6 years ago.

My last apartment wasn''t far from here, but the traffic is much heavier, and the running routes involve crossing a number of busy streets. The routes from here are on much less traveled roads, have more varied terrain (some hills of differing intensities), and go through some of the prettiest streets in town. 

I took today (Thursday) and tomorrow off because I know I'd be exhausted by now. It's supposed to be a quintessential early spring day here in New England tomorrow - overcast, with occasional light rain and/or snow, temperatures a degree or two above freezing, and a raw east wind off the Atlantic - excellent conditions for kicking off a new season of running. 

I am determined to get back into the best shape of my life. I was well on my way in the fall of 2019, only to be waylaid by, in order: a) a severe bronchial infection that lasted nearly two months; b) a hyper-extended knee, injured on my first run after recovering from the bronchitis; c) three (re-)broken ribs; and d) the pandemic. Other than those things, I have no excuse for not being out there pounding the pavement. ;D

Kidding aside, I've set my mind to pucking up where I left off in October 2019 and meeting my goal by the weekend before Christmas this year. I jsut had a chat with my nephew C, who told me he's going to be moving back to the next town over in a few weeks for work. He wants to start running again as well, so we're going to be running partners. I've never run with anyone else before, but C is just like me when it comes to setting goals: once he's done so, he doesn't let anything stop him, up to and including broken bones (just like his Aunt Cass, unfortunately for him!).

So, I'll be getting back to my longstanding exercise routine over the next 2-3 months. While packing for the move I dug up a number of outfits I'm looking forward to wearing again by the end of the year. Not that I needed it, but the extra motivation is nice. 

And finally, with the move nearly done, other than unpacking and some cleanup here, I can resume my writing projects again. The past month has basically been a wash in terms of significant progress; there are only so many hours in the day, and working 50+ hours and packing doesn't leave much left over I've been taking notes and jotting down ideas when time permits, which will hopefully provide some fodder now that I'll have free time again.

OK, that will do it. I'll wrap this up with a few Bruce Cockburn songs. First up is one he wrote about moving from Toronto to Montreal to be near his then-girlfriend (they've since married). This is "My New Beat," recorded for his 2002 anthology Anything Anytime Anywhere:

If the backing vocals sound familiar, that's becuase they're courtesy of Patty Griffin, who has one of the most distinctive voices around.

And to wrap things up, a gorgeous, meditative song about travel (of a sort) from his third album, 1971's Sunwheel Dance. This is "Feet Fall On The Road."

Have a great Friday, everyone. See you back here soon...


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