Summertime And The Livin’ Is The Same As Always – Only Warmer
Today is the first day of summer and the columnist is looking forward to spending some time fishing and chilling out on the beach with a good book. That is, if it ever arrives.
Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. - John Lubbock
The Summer Solstice is upon us! I’ve spent the last two weeks planning what I’m going to do with the extra daylight that I’ve been so graciously allotted today. Don’t laugh! This is important stuff! It only happens once a year.
I was considering taking advantage of the additional light by taking some publicity photos of myself. I figured the natural lighting would help to create a nice mood. I may call Rich over at Hudson Photography to get some help. I haven’t seen him since I bumped in to him over at ECAT on Oliver Street several months ago. He’s a consummate professional so I’m sure he’ll have some great ideas.
I’m planning on Tweeting the pictures to my publicist in Los Angeles; a former student at Stonehill College. And I’ll be fully clothed. I figure there’s no sense in getting naked since I don’t intend to run for political office.
Every summer I make a pledge to take more time to get outside and relax, but the time always seems to slip away leaving that promise unfulfilled. Something always seems to get in the way – something that’s more important. More accurately, I allow the time to slip away and I permit my priorities to become scrambled. It’s my fault this happens. The summers in New England are much too short and I allow myself to be much too busy, leaving little time for rest and relaxation.
My wife, Berta and I take a couple of weeks every summer to get away and clean out all the mental baggage that has accumulated over the previous fifty weeks of the year. Two weeks isn’t nearly enough time. I think the Europeans have it right. I don’t want to turn this column in to a treatise on the cultural differences between the United States and Europe, but if you’re interested you can read, Work Week and Vacation Variances: Stress, Rest, and Productivity. I’ll warn you though; this article may infuriate you or, at the very least, make you just a wee bit envious.
We’re taking our oldest grandson, Logan, up to Maine with us this year, which will put a whole different twist on our vacation. We may not get as much time to kick back and ‘chill’, but we’ll happily sacrifice that time for the opportunity to introduce Logan to the awe-inspiring experience of exploring a tidal pool, landing his first fish or hunting for seashells at beautiful Popham Beach.
The cottage we rent sits right on New Meadows River, one of the many thousands of Maine’s salt water tributaries that empty in to the Atlantic. The cottage has its own dock and is nestled in a grove of lofty pines. It’s fairly isolated, yet within just a few miles of civilization. But its foremost amenity is –tranquility!
Life can be crazy. We need to make time to get away from it all, to refocus on what life is all about; the simple things. The things we too often take for granted.
Easton offers some terrific spots to get away without actually getting away if you’re unable to get out of town this summer. One of my favorite local escapes is Borderland State Park. Although the park can get fairly busy; it’s large enough to allow the adventurous hiker to escape the crowds, get off the beaten path and blaze their own trail. Be careful though! Don’t get lost!
Two of our favorite places to take our grandkids without having to leave town or spend a lot of money are the NRT Sheep Pasture and The Children’s Museum. Both present an opportunity to escape the demands of everyday life and offer special programs for the kids as well. The sheep pasture is free of charge, while the museum charges a nominal fee of $6 per person for non-members. Members and children under a year old are free and there are discount passes available.
Be careful when you visit the Sheep Pasture though. Hilliards is right across the street and if your kids are anything like my grandson, you’ll be shelling out a few bucks for candy, ice cream or both. I don’t believe there’s ever been a time that we’ve visited the Sheep Pasture that Logan hasn’t said, “Gampy, we go to Hilliards now?” as soon as we drive out on to Main Street. And just to be sure, he always checks with my wife. “Nana, you take me to Hilliards now?”
He has a very selective memory. He can remember where Hilliards is but he can’t remember to pick up his toys at our house before he goes home. Funny how that works!
It wouldn’t be a true rendition of The View From Here without either a rant or a story about an encounter with weirdness, or both, so here we go. I believe this will qualify in the ‘both’ category.
On May 31, I ordered two books from Borders.com. One of the books, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year, by Anne Lamott, was for my daughter-in-law, Karre, who will be presenting us with our first granddaughter, Clover Catherine Havey at the end of August.
It just struck me that one of our grandsons, Logan, is named after an airport and our soon-to-be granddaughter, Clover, is named for a plant in the leguminous pea family. What ever happened to names like Bill and Linda?
That last paragraph was a slight diversion, for which I’m famous, and also qualifies as a rant, albeit a tongue-in-cheek rant. Now back to our regularly scheduled topic, assuming you believe there is one.
The other book I’d ordered, Do the Work!: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way, by Steven Pressfield, was for me to read while on vacation in Maine.
Operating Instructions arrived at the Borders in Mansfield, which is where I’d asked to have the books shipped for some inexplicable reason, a few days after I’d ordered it. Do The Work was shipped from another location and, according to the lady at the store, was expected to arrive within the week.
While awaiting the arrival of Do The Work; I checked my FedEx tracking number several times a day as is wont for me to do being as I’m just the slightest bit obsessive/compulsive. Okay, I’m more than the slightest bit OCD, but that’s not the point. I wanted my book! I’m also patience challenged.
I called the Borders store in Mansfield every day for a week and stopped in twice. No book! A few days following my last store visit; the FedEx site showed that ‘instructions had been delivered to the U. S. Postal Service’, whatever that means.
Apparently, the free slow-boat-to-China delivery method that I had earned by paying my paltry twenty dollars to upgrade to Borders Plus Membership involved FedEx shipping my books to the Post Office and the Post Office then shipping them to their final destination. According to the Borders website, this amazing process should take eight to nine business days. I think I may be able to walk to Easton from the Borders warehouse in West Virginia in nine days.
I waited patiently; well, maybe not patiently, but I waited a few more days and checked with the store again. Still no book! The woman at the store gave me the phone number for customer service and advised me to call them, which I did.
Okay, let me preface this next remark by saying this, if you can't speak fluent English, you shouldn't work in customer service. I know that’s not very PC, but guess what? I’m not a PC kinda guy.
Seriously! What’s up with that? Is it me, or should someone who speaks to people for a living be required to speak the language of the person they’re speaking with? A customer service guy in Russia should be fluent in Russian, right? And a customer service guy in France should be fluent in French, correct? So why is it that when I call Borders customer service from the United States I get hooked up with someone who can't speak fluent English? Oh, granted; they think they speak English, but come on now!
I almost hung up on this poor woman several times. I just couldn’t understand her and come on now; how many times could I say, “I’m sorry, could you say that again?” It’s not her fault. She’s just trying to make a living like everyone else. The companies that hire these people are the ones that are at fault. And Borders isn’t the only one. This is common practice.
It’s crazy! I hate talking to these people! I predict that within a few years there will be a new phobia added to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. See if you can come up with a name for ‘fear of speaking to a non-English speaking customer service rep’.
So, according to the nice lady, the bottom line to my quest for the missing book is – the book has been misplaced. Misplaced? Really? No! The Post Office lost my book! What a surprise! I’m stunned! That never happens!
Borders promised that my book would arrive no later than Tuesday, June 21, which happens to be today. I’m not trying to be a negative Nancy, but I’m not betting on it arriving on time.
Can you believe it? More than three weeks to get a book from West Virginia to Massachusetts. I could have written the book by now!
Make it a great week!
Bob Havey is an Easton-based freelance writer. His column, "The View From Here", appears each Tuesday at http://easton-ma.patch.com and his column "Take Me Back" runs every Friday at http://mansfield-ma.patch.com