Mystery Of The Mentally Ill Musician

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Me and my banjo

June 19, 2016

San Diego, CA

I got this email today, asking me to join a new Meet-Up group that’s forming in my area. It started with:

“I would like to start a Meet-Up group for mentally ill individuals who enjoy music and play an instrument.”

Well, I am a musician, and the thoughts that immediately ran through my brain, in this order, were:

#1. This is a joke, perpetrated by one of my funny musician friends. This is funny!

#2. This is not a joke, but rather, it’s someone asking me to help run a group that will help mentally ill individuals. I would love to help out this great cause!

#3. OMG…someone sent this to me because they think I’m mentally ill! WTF? 

Now, I’m not making fun of mental illness here, so please, no lectures or hate mail. I’m just sayin’, why would I be on the receiving end of that email?

Why does someone think I’m mentally ill?  Is it because I started playing the banjo?

As far as I know, I do not, nor have I ever, suffered from mental illness. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! And not saying that I won’t, someday, acquire a mental illness. Shit happens.

In the meantime, I deleted the email. If they resend the invite, maybe I’ll go check it out.

File this one under, “Things that make you go, hmmmm.”

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The Latest, Greatest, Newfangled Diet Device

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The Cook’s Muzzle

May 9, 2016

San Diego, CA

Introducing…The Cook’s Muzzle. I invented this device last week, when I realized that I consume about a zillion calories, while I’m cooking dinner.

I always seem to start cooking about an hour too late, when I’m way past the point of making rational decisions about anything. And before you know it, I’m eating anything and everything in sight.

And so, I invented this simple device, which you wear while you’re cooking. It makes it impossible to consume unauthorized food products.

See!!! It's impossible to eat while wearing The Cook's Muzzle. No food is getting in here!

See!!! It’s impossible to eat while wearing The Cook’s Muzzle. No food is getting in here!

The Cook’s Muzzle isn’t just for cooking dinner either. You can wear it to prevent mindless gorging anytime you’re around food. My personal favorite….wearing it to parties where they’ll be lots of cakes and cookies. It’s also quite the conversation starter, except that you can’t really conversate while you’re wearing it. But, whatever! I assure you…you will meet interesting people nonetheless.

The Day That Went To The Dogs!

Old Quebec City

Mark and Dax hike up a steep, narrow street in Old Quebec City

Day 97    September 14, 2014

Quebec City, Quebec

Canada

Lucky for us, French Canadians love dogs, and dogs are allowed on the passenger ferries that cross the river into Quebec City. So Dax and Trixie would be hangin’ with us in the big city today!

Taking the ferry to Old Quebec City

Taking the ferry to Old Quebec City

Mark and I, and Dax and Trixie spent all day wandering around Old Quebec. There was one downside to having the pups with us. It was really cold outside, and although we’d have loved to been able to sit inside and eat lunch in a nice warm bistro, we couldn’t. The French Canadians don’t love dogs that much. So we ate lunch outside in the cold. That’s what coffee’s for…to warm up. So we drank a lot of coffee.

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Interesting architecture in Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

A lot of tourists in Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

Old Quebec City

After lunch, Dax and Trixie met a very nice Irish Wolfhound, who was touring the city with her people. Her name was Harriet. She was spectacular! The biggest Irish Wolfhound I’d ever seen!

I started thinking that maybe Harriet the Irish Wolfhound, was my mom, Harriet Cohen, reincarnated. My mom wasn’t particularly fond of dogs, so this would kind of make sense that she’d have to come back as a regal and beautiful dog…ya know, to gain a love and appreciation for dogs! At least, I think that’s how it works.

When we were thoroughly worn out from the cold and from so much walking around, we took the ferry back to the other side of the river. Dax was being Mr. Congeniality on the ferry. He was smiling at everyone, getting lots of pets, and giving lots of kisses. He was pretty much the center of attention on that ferry ride! Trixie ignored everyone, as usual, and just searched for scraps of food on the ground.

Later that evening, we drove back into the city to have dinner. We easily were able to park the Space Shuttle just a couple blocks outside of Old Quebec. And we were able to go out to dinner, without the dogs, to enjoy a little French Canadian cuisine. Or, as we dubbed it, Cuinadian!

I tried to order in French. I have no idea what actually came out of my mouth when I spoke. But the waitress appreciated my attempt, had a good laugh with us about it, and brought me what I ordered!  Cie la Vie!

I got what I ordered!

I got what I ordered!

The Dangers Of Speaking French! Who Knew?!

Longest covered bridge in the world!

Longest covered bridge in the world!

Day 96     September 13, 2014

Somewhere in New Brunswick  to  Quebec City, Quebec

Canada

When I woke up this morning, and looked out at the lovely river view that we had from our camp site, all I could see was the massive amount of steam rising off of the water. I don’t imagine the water was warm at all, but that’s just how freakin’ cold the air temperature was!

I don’t know why, but I was still shocked to find out that the air temperature in the campground shower/bathrooms, was equally as frigid cold. Brrrrr!!! Mark and I decided that we’d go see Quebec City and Montreal, and then head the hell south. It was so cold that, for the first time ever, when we hit the road, we both turned on our seat heaters!

We took a detour to Hartland to drive across the world’s longest covered bridge.

Longest covered bridge in the world!

Longest covered bridge in the world!

And another view of her....

And another view of her….

And it spans this pretty river....

And it spans this pretty river….

 

And on the inside....

And on the inside….

And across we go!

And across we went, just to say we did.

And we stopped in Perth-Andover, where we had an amazing lunch at the Waterfront Bistro. Gourmet smoked salmon and asparagus panini. Delicious!

Chillaxin' on the deck, waiting for lunch.

Chillaxin’ on the deck, waiting for lunch.

This would be our last stop in New Brunswick, which was a significant landmark. After this, we’d be crossing into Quebec Province, which is French speaking. I am not French speaking. Mark is barely broken-French speaking.

Our first stop in officially French speaking territory, was just over the borderline in Quebec, at Tim Horton’s. Using his not so stellar French, Mark tried to order one doughnut. We got six huge doughnuts. We proudly walked out of Timmy’s with a bag full of six doughnuts, and planned our strategy for survival.

It was time to bring out the big guns….the iPhone language translator app. Mark would speak French into the phone, and, in theory, the proper English words would be spoken back to us. Then, speaking as precisely as I could, I would try to mimic the French words into the phone, and then listen to the English translation spoken back to me.

Here’s a little chart of what I thought I said in French, and what the iPhone thought I said:

What I thought I said in French…………………..The IPhone’s English translation

I’m sorry, I don’t speak French…………………..I saved Jana Ronson

I’m sorry, can you say that again…..……….……I’m sorry, and you could diet

I’m sorry, repeat please…………………………..I’m sorry, pizza please

And then there was a translation that had something to do with telling someone they need pants. I decided that it’d probably be too dangerous for me to attempt speaking French.

At the end of our fun little day full of adventures, we checked into Motel et Camping Etchemin, just across the river form Quebec City. This was a combination motel and RV park. Lucky for us, the receptionist spoke perfect English. And so, we DID end up with a nice RV site behind the hotel, and NOT with a deluxe hotel suite!

You Call It Summer, I Call It Winter!

Local cuisine. It's cold out, but not so cold that we can't drink a beer!

Local cuisine.

Day 95     September 12, 2014    part 2

Antigonish, Nova Scotia  to Somewhere in New Brunswick

Canada

There was still a lot of driving to be done today, so back on the road we went. We crossed most of New Brunswick on the highway, which meant that we didn’t see much, except for trees. New Brunswick has a lot of trees.

As evening approached, we found a really nice campground for the night. The place  was closing for the winter in three days, and it was pretty much empty except for a handful of New Brunswickians squeezing in their last few days of camping for 2014.

We had a site with a nice sunset view overlooking the river below. The view didn’t quite make up for the fact that it was butt-cold outside! We bundled up by layering on almost all of the clothes we had with us. Thank goodness we’d bought wool hats when we were in Newfoundland.

Once bundled up, we leashed up the pups to go on one last evening doggie walk. And that’s when we met a group of four New Brunswickians, out for an evening stroll around the campground. They looked at us, and we looked at them, and we all burst out laughing.

What was wrong with the picture was, that we were bundled up in lots of clothing, including hats, scarves, and gloves, and we were still cold. And they were out strolling around in shorts and t-shirts, and were perfectly comfortable.

When the New Brunswickians saw our California license plate, well, they said, “That explains it!” And when they found out we’d been living in the Space Shuttle for three months, one of them exclaimed, “Oh my gosh! You should be given some kind of award!” Haha!! Mark and I both laughed, and then agreed with her!

We bid these nice people good night, and went about our evening walk, in the frigid cold of the Canadian summer!

Local cuisine. It's cold out, but not so cold that we can't drink a beer!

It’s cold out, but not so cold that we can’t drink a beer!

Will The Real Adam Sandler Please Stand Up….

@ Coffee Cove

@ Coffee Cove

Day 91     September 8, 2014

South Brook to Barachois Pond Provincial Park, Newfoundland

Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

In the middle of the night, we’d been awoken by an alarm going off inside the Space Shuttle. Argh!! It was our tire pressure alarm. I disconnected the alarm so that we could sleep and deal with it in the morning. So now we had to deal with it.

Fiona in the morning @ Kona Beach Campground

Fiona in the morning @ Kona Beach Campground

One of our tires had dropped from 61 psi, to 54 psi. Mark was able to use our bike pump to get the tire up to 59 psi, but, we clearly had an impending situation on our hands. It had become obvious that our problem with those gas station air pumps the day before, had actually been a problem with our tire.

But ya know what? There wasn’t anyplace nearby to get the tire looked at. And since we could pump it up to 59 psi, well, that was good enough to keep us on the road until we reached somewhere where someone could help us.

And so, off we went, up Route 391 to King’s Point and to Rattling Brook to see the waterfalls. This is where we came to the conclusion that a lot of stuff in Newfoundland was falling apart. We walked up the trail as far as we could, only to find that the stairway path leading up to the great view of the falls, had been destroyed by a rock slide. I guess that, being pretty remote, and there not being many people around, Newfoundland just wasn’t in a big hurry to fix some stuff. I don’t have a problem with that.

Mark & Dax. Going to see the waterfalls, or so we thought.

Mark & Dax. Going to see the waterfalls, or so we thought.

End of the hike for us!

End of the hike for us!

At least the hike there and back was pretty!

At least the hike there and back was pretty!

Pretty scenery across the street from the Rattling Brook Falls hike

Pretty scenery across the street from the Rattling Brook Falls hike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretty scenery across the street from the Rattling Brook Falls hike

Pretty scenery across the street from the Rattling Brook Falls hike

Dax the explorer...

Dax the explorer…

Mark & Dax taking some photos

Mark & Dax taking some photos

Next stop….St. Patrick’s and Coffee Cove. We parked in the parking lot at Church of the Sacred Heart, in St. Patrick’s, and ate lunch in the Space Shuttle . Down below was Coffee Cove. With a name like Coffee Cove, we were sort of hoping we’d find at least a cute little coffee shop . But, there didn’t seem to be anything but some scattered houses, and solitude.

Church of the Sacred Heart in St. Patrick's.

Church of the Sacred Heart in St. Patrick’s.

The view down towards Coffee Cove from Church of the Sacred Heart in St. Patrick's.

The view down towards Coffee Cove

@ Coffee Cove

@ Coffee Cove. No coffee shop here!

 

 

 

Fiona in Coffee Cove

Fiona in Coffee Cove. Mark’s down there having a look around.

Coffee Cove

@ Coffee Cove

Beachside was our next destination. Maybe we’d find a coffee shop there. Umm…nope…except for a small community of small houses, we didn’t see so much as a grocery store or anything out there. I found this, on Wikipedia,

“There is only one business located in Beachside and this is a souvenir shop called Newfoundland Souvenir Manufacturing Limited.”

Hmm, we missed that too. However, what we did find, was some absolutely spectacular scenery!

The beaches were actually a greenish color

The beaches were actually a greenish color

So beautiful!

So beautiful!

The weirdest thing about Beachside, which Wikipedia doesn’t mention anything about, was the color of the beaches. All of the beaches seemed to be green. Why? I don’t know. Too much spinach in the water? Probably not, as the water was a beautiful shade of blue. Well, there was too much of something on those pebbly beaches, I’m just not sure what.

Stopped for a photo op on the way back to the highway

Stopped for a photo op on the way back to the highway

Mark, taking a pic of the grand view...

Mark, taking a pic of the grand view…

Although actually not our main goal for the day, we did eventually find coffee…at the Springdale Tim Horton’s. Not so charming, but it did alleviate our cravings. Got some free internet while we were there as well.

Back from whence we came....heading south....

Back from whence we came….heading south….

We continued our journey southwest on Route 1, all the way to Barachois Pond Provincial Park. We checked in with the on-duty park ranger, who bore an uncanny resemblance to Adam Sandler. And he was funny as hell too.

I bet he could make a fortune if he went on tour as an Adam Sandler impersonator. However, in the 10 minute comedic banter back and forth with him, he told us he’d never been outside of Newfoundland, and had no desire to travel outside of Newfoundland. Really? Not even in the winter? A little escape to Florida maybe?! This was kind of hard to believe.

Then it occurred to me that maybe this guy was the real Adam Sandler!! Maybe he goes to work and hangs out in Newfoundland during the summers. Ya know, to get away from the Hollywood scene and get some peace and quiet.

The ranger/Adam Sandler, did tell us that Barachois Pond Provincial Park has the reputation as a raucous weekend party destination. But we were there mid-week, and at the very end of the season. There was hardly anyone else in the park. Once again, we had our choice of campsites. We chose site #1, right by the lake. It was a good choice!

Barachois Pond Provincial Park

Barachois Pond Provincial Park

Evening walk around the pond

Evening walk around the pond

Evening walk around the pond

Evening walk around the pond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunset from our campsite...site #1

Sunset from our campsite…site #1

Girl With The Nerdy-Geeky Full-Body Anti-Bug Suit

Somewhere on west coast of Newfoundland.

Somewhere on west coast of Newfoundland.

Day 84     September 1, 2014

Red Bay, Labrador to Portland Creek, Newfoundland

We’d been sequestered inside the Space Shuttle since sundown the day before…since the nasty biting black fly attack and counter-attack. We’d planned to stay in Labrador another day and night, but couldn’t stomach the idea of dealing with that again. Both of us already had welts from yesterday’s attack, and they were pretty painful.

In fact, we were so afraid to go outside, that we got up at 5:30 am, fired up the engine, and got the hell out of there. If we were lucky, we’d be able to catch the 8:00 am ferry back to Newfoundland. And we were lucky, and we did.

Early morning drive to the ferry terminal to leave Labrador

Early morning drive to the ferry terminal to leave Labrador

Adios Labrador. I hope I can go back there some day. But, next time, I’m gonna buy one of those completely nerdy-geeky full-body anti-bug suits.

Couple hours later, we found ourselves touching ground back in Newfoundland. We stopped somewhere along the coast to walk the pups and to get some fresh fly-free air!

Back in Newfoundland! Cute church. Somewhere on west coast of Newfoundland.

Back in Newfoundland! Cute church. Somewhere on west coast of Newfoundland.

Somewhere on west coast of Newfoundland.

Somewhere on west coast of Newfoundland.

Somewhere on west coast of Newfoundland.

Somewhere on west coast of Newfoundland.

And off we went to the next historic site….L’Anse aux Meadows, where there’s evidence of an old Viking settlement. And by evidence, I’d be referring to dead people. Or, actually, grassy mounds that were burial sites.

Getting close to L'Anse aux Meadows...

Getting close to L’Anse aux Meadows…

Near L'Anse aux Meadows

Near L’Anse aux Meadows

Mark and Fiona

Mark and Fiona

Near L'Anse aux Meadows

Near L’Anse aux Meadows

Near L'Anse aux Meadows

Near L’Anse aux Meadows

Near L'Anse aux Meadows

Near L’Anse aux Meadows

In California, this shack would cost about $1.2 million.

In California, this shack would cost about $1.2 million.

Near L'Anse aux Meadows

Near L’Anse aux Meadows

There was also an historic reenactment village nearby. Those historic reenactment kinds of places kind of creep me out, but it’s like seeing a car accident on the side of the road…you just can not stop looking. So, we visited that too.

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village. A viking game board.

@ the Viking reenactment village. Mock-up of a viking game board.

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village

@ the Viking reenactment village

The view at St. Anthony's.

The view at nearby St. Anthony’s.

As we drove south, we enjoyed the beautiful sunset on the coast, and then finally docked for the night at Mountain Waters Resort Campground in Portland Creek.