Paugussett SF, Newtown CT

3 10 2018


Yay, we did it! We went to all 14 of the DEEP Sky’s the Challenge sites for 2018!


Paugussett State Forest entrance: Hunting warning, so we wore bright colors


Lake Zoar looking north

The falls were roaring today! Gorgeous woods and walk



Lake Zoar looking east


I inhaled my lunch before Cherry was half done with hers: Yummy falafal, lamb wrap, baba ganush, and even halvah to go…wow.

So. We did it! We printed out our photodocumentation and sent it off to DEEP with the hopes of winning a walking stick (well, at least Cherry is hoping for that). It was a great challenge and of course we enjoyed our time together.


Hiking for Friendly’s: Huntington State Park (Newtown/Redding) and Danbury Friendly’s

13 09 2017

Huntington SP brook 09.11.17September 11, 2017

A day of extraordinary weather sends us on our way to our next Friendly’s in Danbury. We head west on I-84 and Cherry updates me about a recent family event. She, her sisters, and stepmother gathered at one sister’s home for a delightful, relaxing weekend. They thought about having a T-shirt made for their “reunion”—maybe next time! Both Cherry and her stepmother had cat issues before making it to the get-together, but all worked out.

Huntington SP sign 09.11.17Our nearby hiking site, Collis Huntington State Park, is a bit southeast of Danbury and we enter on its southeastern boundary. We start on the Aspetuck Valley Trail and head westerly to the park boundary. Trails are well marked and relatively flat as we continue on the blue trail a little more than a mile. The area is lovely, quiet, and peaceful. We share connection: I tell her about my newly discovered plumber who lives near her; she tells me she met someone who went to high school with me at her local library.

Huntington SP geological feature 09.11.17We reach an intersection and decide to take the red trail next and discover a large rock outcrop. I talk about my efforts to get ahead on maintaining my family home and the success I’ve had getting help for the house where I live. We talk about celebrations and birthdays, and I tell Cherry that I’ve booked a cabin at the beach for next June for my birthday. I’m already excited and I see her eyes sparkle. “I love the way you’re back to planning ahead and being hopeful,” she says. Before we know it, we are back at the car; it’s been 3.4 miles and two hours, but our time just flies by here. Off we go to Danbury’s main drag.

We enter the Friendly’s parking lot in the rear and I wonder if it’s even still open—no cars. Yikes, but yes, there are cars in the front and we go inside. Not many people, and Cherry and I bemoan the potential loss of what we consider a national treasure. Our waitress, Karen, exuberantly seats us and we are on a roll. She is the friendliest Friendly’s waitress we’ve yet to encounter. “If by any chance you girls are seniors, well….” she winks at us. Cherry is in love!

Huntington SP Danbury Friendlys 09.11.17We enjoy our lunch; Cherry gets grilled cheese and soup, since she’s had a weekend of sinful eating with her family. I get the honey BBQ chicken and manage to actually save half of it for dinner. Karen has learned our names and uses them frequently. She picks up Cherry’s jacket when it falls on the floor, she cleans up after us as we eat. She checks in regularly. She covers all her tables with ease and connection. “Good manners,” she says to a young boy on our left who has answered all her questions about his dessert. Our sundaes are the highlight, as usual: Cherry’s Hunka Chunka Peanut Butter fudge and I switch it up to pistachio with hot fudge.

Cherry of course wants to tell Karen about our project. She thinks it’s pretty neat and asks where we hiked today. Cherry tells her we have only five more to go and are hoping to celebrate our finality at the Cromwell Friendly’s, where we began this adventure almost three years ago. “I know it’s a distance, but you’re invited,” Cherry quips to Karen, who clearly is touched by our outreach.

We review our list of Friendly’s and, indeed, only five more to go! Just like everything else, step by step, a large task gets accomplished in (Friendly’s) bite-sized bits.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ready Player One: Thumbs DOWN

3 04 2013

Ready_Player_One_coverLeaving the library, I picked up a copy of Ready Player One, our One Book selection for this year. On a gray Saturday afternoon, I decided to treat myself and sat down for some enjoyable reading time. Boy, was that not the case! Firstly, it’s futuristic science fiction, not something I generally read, with a retro focus on popular culture of the 1980s — music, movies, and video games. Although I lived through those years, those references were exactly what I try to ignore/forget!

 But, wanting to participate in upcoming One Book events, I plugged away. I got through Level One, almost half of the book, before I just had to stop. Personal preference aside, I appreciate the author’s concern about environmental and social future, based on where we are heading. However, I found it a frightening commentary on today’s society when a cult hero promoting virtual violence and escapism is idealized.

Certainly, the IOI were greedy bad guys. But the hero, James Halliday, founder of OASIS, promoted escapism into a virtual reality devoid of genuine contact with any living beings. His programs also eliminated motivation to fix what was wrong ‘out there’ (exception for Art3mis) and I would classify them as equally misguided and highly disturbing.

Eventually, I read the last few chapters to see if I missed anything important. Is it redeeming that Halliday suggests a little dose of reality or control of OASIS even to the point of shutting it down? To me, it came as a minor footnote at the end. Cline evaded a golden opportunity to make a powerful statement when explaining the Halliday/Og falling out. Instead of a philosophical difference (video games vs educational tools), he pinned it on the girl.

Using video games to avoid the real world has the potential to lead to devastating results – here in Connecticut, think Newtown. With the goal being to kill the enemy, these games addictively increase adrenaline levels, letting players become superheroes and lose track of time and reality. Escapism at its highest. Research isn’t clear that violent video games lead to violence but it’s intuitive that they don’t promote collaboration, cooperation, or brotherly love.

 Personally, I’d rather live in the real world and spend my reading time with something either more inspirational or meaningful.