Sunday, December 30, 2012

Let's, and oh yeah the birthday party.

So it's about 8:20 PM ON Saturday night. This might turn out to be a long rambling post. I know I'm not going to finish it tonight. I have what I'd like to write about in my head but right now it's not very coherent and being coherent is a good thing. I'll just start with what's going on at this moment. It's snowing. There are people who have lived here all their lives but there still stunned when they hear it's going to snow.
"Snow! Here in New England!"
 The forecast for this area is 4 to 8 inches. Still people run out and buy extra food. It will never change. It was a hectic day. I'm just glad I no longer work in the seafood department. Lobsters were on sale for $4.99 lb. I have awful memories of lobster sales past when I used to work strictly seafood. People being picky about a lobster that weighs and ounce less than another. When you're talking an ounce that could be shell and water. There's no bonanza of meat in a 16th of a pound. Soft shell vs. hard shell. I saw a guy at 8:10 in the morning ordering 4 lobsters steamed. He was going to have them for breakfast. That's a little too rich for my blood. Lobsters are tasty, even tastier when dipped in butter but it's the fact that they are expensive that gives then this cache'. You eat crabs basically the same way though they taste a bit different but they are less expensive and there is no hysteria over them. Still I really didn't have to deal with that.
I did have a guy ask me for some mosquito (mesquite smoked) turkey. today. I wanted to tell him that it was a seasonal item that you usually see in the Spring.
Every time things got a bit bogged down at work one of my           co- workers would show us this picture on his phone. It made me laugh every time.

Who knew that NASA had a sloth astronaut (slothtronauts) training program? He seems to be a pleasant and amiable chap and he cheered us up when needed.

I mentioned in the last blog about a birthday party I went to on December 12. It was the birthday of my friend Earle's, wife, Phylis, also my friend. What an awkward sentence. Earle had rented a room in a small local Italian restaurant. Everything was gratis, free. Food and drink. When Arlene and I walked in we were offered beer, wine or a shot of something or other. We settled for a glass of wine. Apart from Earle and Phylis I didn't know anyone there as they were all friends of Phylis and Arlene had never met Earle and Phylis. Everybody was quite chatty and soon the little tidbits of food was circulated among the crowd. It was a small room and there were at 30 people. The food itself was alright but I wouldn't write home about it. Little hunks of fried fresh mozzarella with some kind of batter. For all I know they came frozen out of a package and fried. Mozzarella has a very mild almost none existent flavor. It's wonderful when used in conjunction with an antipasto with roasted peppers, marinated asparagus spears, calamata olives, marinated artichoke hearts and prosciutto and the bread of course. This fried mozzarella was plain dull. By the time we actually sat down to eat, I had had two glasses of wine in about an hour. I ate something that night but it was so nondescript as to even register a memory.

At this point in the evening I was on my third glass of wine. The food might not have been what I would have expected from a supposedly good Italian restaurant but the conversation was good. Although I have no idea what was talked about. From this point on I remember sitting there chatting with people and having a perpetual full glass of wine but I have no memory of being asked for a refill. I just continued to drink. By 10 pm the room emptied out fairly quickly. Soon the only people left were Earle and Phylis, Arlene and myself. I knew I was a bit tipsy but I felt good until I tried to stand up. I wasn't tipsy I was drunk. I was fortunate to have my friend there because apparently Arlene was feeling no pain either so she couldn't drive home and she lives next door. Did I mention that's very convenient? I sort of remember trying to put my jacket on and I am told that I had a slight accident while trying to leave. I bumped into a small table with decorative bottles of olive oil and vinegar. Knocked them to the floor while letting out a resounding "whoops". I do remember standing outside for a few minutes slapping Earle on the arm proclaiming, "You're driving me home buddy!" They formed a plan. Earle would drive Arlene, conveniently next door, and I home and Phylis would meet him there. Fortunately I only live in the next city over. Earle and Arlene got into the front as I poured myself into the back seat. I was having trouble with the seat belt and they told to be quiet and lie down. Home 10 minutes later we said our goodbyes as the cold night air was reviving me enough to make putting the key into the lock on the door a bit easier. I can't say I woke up singing 'Zippity Do Dah" but considering I really don't know how much I actually consumed it was a fair morning. All I remember was the my glass was always full and that every time the waitress came by offering more wine, I have been told my answer was always a resounding, "Sure!" 
OK here come all the disclaimers. I am not a big drinker. I do like wine, preferably, a dry wine and I have been known to have a couple of Sam Adams lager every once in a while but I don't have a large capacity for alcohol and that's just as well. I called Phylis and Earle the next day, to apologise for my behavior and they were great about it. They said I was very entertaining and apparently a happy drunk. Earle warned me that I was getting out of hand with this getting drunk every 22 years or so.

Alrighty then, I am finishing this blog on Sunday morning at about 8:45. We did get snow overnight. Not much really, only about 3 or 4 inches. My landlords and I have already been out. All shoveling and car cleaning duties have been performed. I went out to get some gas and the roads are in good shape. It was very pleasant driving around with little or no traffic. Later today it's out for lunch, then Arlene and I will settle in to watch the Patriots at about 4:30. What a run the local Boston teams have been on the last 12 years. 3 Super Bowl titles, 5 Super Bowl appearances, 2 World series wins, A Stanley Cup in Hockey and an NBA Championship. We are spoiled rotten sports wise and otherwise. It's not a cheap place to live but for many years I have taken for granted all that surrounds me but not any more. Sure the traffic stinks, and the drivers are very aggressive and it's very crowded. There are many people crammed in a small area but it's my home and I love it. Even though I don't live in Boston proper, it's only 5 miles away and it has so much to offer.

Well that wraps up this long winded, two days in the making blog entry. It's back to reality as laundry and other assorted household chores await. 9:11 in the morning. Not bad. The whole day is still ahead of me.

I'm outta here.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Where to start? Well firstly I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday. I surprisingly enjoyed one of the best Christmas Eve's in many years. At first it looked like my family was going to splinter off to other gatherings. That was certainly OK by me. I had a couple of places to go or I would have been fine staying home. An evening with out human contact is not necessarily a bad thing. Especially after a day when it appeared they were handing out free samples of Stupid Pills at the front door.

"Sir! Would you care to try a  Stupid Pill?"
"Well I don't know. I, ah..."
"I'll bet you're already taking them!"

I can't imagine what it must be like working in a department store this time of year. I really am not going to go on railing against humanity. All I really mean a simple quiet evening is not a bad thing every now and then.

My sister is in the middle of buying a house. She's understandably a little on the grumpy side thanks to the bank and the state. I called to say hello and she quickly informed me that she was not planning any Christmas eve or day dinner. She was too busy and tired to do anything but to "stop by if you want to." Long story short, my other sister showed up so along with my two sisters and brother in law we ended up ordering Chinese food and did quite a bit of laughing and a bit of drinking. Of course it isn't real Chinese food. It is Americanized. I don't think Chinese people are eating Crab Rangoon. And I was hard pressed to find much crab meat in it. But none of that mattered, it was wonderful to have a no pressure evening.

Then of course we come to work. The chain I work for changes it's sale cycle/ad change every Friday. On this day we receive new signs and shelf tags. Shelf tags are the little tags on the front of a grocery shelf telling you what the item is, a scan bar, and a bunch of numbers. Prices change, tags change. It's Friday and I'm out checking shelf tags. I come across this one. Has anybody ever heard of this particular item?

You have to wonder what BAFF is and why does it have to be squishy? Is that a sign of ripeness? Maybe we northerners prefer our baff squishy where as the southerners prefer a firmer baff? Is it a cheese or some kind of cleaning item? "Look how easy the Squishy Baff cleans up that disgusting mess!" 
We do know that buying one will cost you $15.99. You could be buying something to eat or something to clean your toilet with. I'm just trying to stay in the holiday spirit here. 

Despite all the lunacy above, my actual holiday was quite nice. On Christmas night I went to my lady friend's house. I feel silly saying "my girlfriend" at my age. Of course that could change once I get off my high horse. There. I'm down.
She lives next door. It's very convenient! We had a lovely meal along with her daughters. It was all a very pleasant night. It began on a humorous note. Arlene lives in a rather large "3 decker" or 3 family house. It's about 110 years old. It's been in her family for a good chunk of that time. There are 5 good sized rooms on each floor. Arlene lives on the 3rd floor. She has a little dog. A "min pin" or miniature doberman pincer. It's a nice little dog but it's a bundle neurosis . Any little thing can set off a yipping frenzy. I do find it amazing that he can tell tell the difference between when I stand up to go into another room, from when I stand up to go home. I'm guessing Bruno has abandonment issues.  

So I walk up the front porch stairs and press the door bell for the third floor. Keep in mind that the people living on the second floor have two dogs and the people on the first floor have one as well. 
"Ding dong"
"YIP! YIP YIP YIP..."! etc. What is he thinking? 
"Someones leaving! Someones coming! Where are you going?! Don't leave me! I saw a leaf! Where's my food! 
This racket sets the two dogs on the second floor off. They're mid sized dogs with howls and deeper barks! And then on cue dog #3 goes off! All this racket over nothing. It was funny though.

I am back to work and it is not pretty. I could retire next year at this time and might just do that. I would like to take some time off in the next few months and hopefully I will be able to. One thing I am definitely going to do is head back to Martha's Vineyard in May or June. I am so lucky to have access to a place that's not all that far away, yet is surrounded by ocean and pretty peaceful (in the off seasons anyway) yet not all that different than where I live. It's good for the soul and also considerably cheaper in the off season.

I do have another incident to report but I think I'll save it for the next blog which should be in a couple of days. All I'll say about it is that it happened on December 12 at a friends birthday party in a restaurant. It was all free. The food and the wine flowed...

I'm outta here.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas to my friends

Yes I know I have not been around but that doesn't mean I haven't thought of my friends here on Blogger. Life has a way of getting complicated very quickly and it has. There are factors and reasons as to why I haven't been around. I won't go into them but I will say overall I'm fine but time and energy have been in short supply as of late. The holidays have something to do with it at least in the last couple of months but I would be remiss if I didn't make the effort to poke my head into the blogging world to wish my wonderful friends here a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or whatever may be appropriate at this time of year to everyone. I thank you for sticking with me and am grateful to have met you. Hopefully the new year will be a little less complicated and I can get back to my usual nonesense on a more regular basis here on Blogger.

Thank You All!

Monday, December 3, 2012

My thanks to everyone...

...and especially to Beth for the birthday wishes. Beth you see sent me a birthday card. It sat in my mailbox overnight because when I came home from work I neglected to check it. I checked it on my way out the next morning and discovered this card in the mail. I knew it was a birthday card but I didn't recognise the name or the address. I did know someone named Beth in New Hampshire around 1971 or '72 but then we lost track of each other. Had she married and moved and suddenly thought of me all these years later? Why? It's not like we had a romance. We were just friends that I met through a mutual friend who attended art school with her in Boston. Throughout the day the mystery popped into my brain now and again. Is this Beth from New Hampshire? I pulled into the drive way after work, this time checking my mail box. Just a bill from the gas company. Happy Holidays. Where's our money? As I entered my house there was the envelope on the little table by the door from the mysterious Beth. I picked it up and suddenly, while looking at the postal stamp, light dawned on Marblehead. It was Beth from Blogger! I had never received anything through the mail from a fellow blogger. So thanks everyone for the birthday wishes especially you Beth! That was very sweet.

These are busy days. In fact it's been a busy year. Work has been a strain. I survived a layoff last month. 700 other people weren't so lucky. It's been a hectic and convoluted 13 years since my original company was sold to the parent company of another old New England supermarket chain owned by and English Corporation named Sainsbury. My original company was a local company that had been around since 1915 and we were the Cadillac of the supermarkets around here. We had many owners since the original family sold out in 1964 to the Jewel Corporation out of Chicago. Through the next several owners, the local company was still run by the same people so at store level nothing really changed until Sainsbury, an English Corporation, bought us and stuck us on the side of their American holdings in New England. This company can trace it's origins back to the 1880's. Now they were failing. I suppose they thought adding us to them would add revenue since our 60 stores were mostly in the metropolitan Boston area where there are about 4.5 million people, not scattered throughout New England. I guess it seemed like a good idea. From the beginning we were told to lower our standards and they were right. We were THE upscale market in Eastern Ma. and a couple of other New England states with many food industry firsts to their credit including cellophane wrapped meats, plastic mesh bags for oranges, in store cooked foods plus a few others. OK it's not like curing cancer, but they were still firsts. We were the best paid with the best benefits. After 5 years I had four weeks vacation. Since 1999 it's been a confusing array of poorly thought out ideas. We were no longer being run with people who had worked their way up through the stores but by people with just business degrees. Their knowledge on how the retail food business operates on the ground floor  was sadly lacking. If you want to buy roast beef you have to pick from six different brands. All this does is confuse the customer. If they say, "Give me the one on sale." You then have to ask them which one because they will put three on sale. A simple task has become tedious. Then about eight years ago they began changing the name of all my original company stores, to the other name, then a couple of years later they started changing them back because the name had been established in the area for so long and there was "name recognition". Well pardon my French, but no shit Sherlock! It took all those degree carrying baboons about eight years to realise this. Can you get a degree in common sense? It does seem to be a common thread in a lot businesses these days.

We are presently owned by another sad sack corporation in Minnesota named SuperValu. They are neither super nor a value. Their two highest grossing locations in the whole U.S. are our two original stores located in Downtown Boston and next door Cambridge. I don't say that to brag I say that because they want to sell us. How sad that you have to sell your two best retail outlets because you helped in killing the reputation of both company names. As far I know two deals have fallen through so far. The last purposed deal involved the laying off of 700 people as part of the deal then, no deal. And yet despite all this I still have a job for which I am very grateful.

Last Sunday I went to see Lincoln. The movie that is. A great movie! Everything about it, superb. Acting all the way around was top shelf. Daniel Day-Lewis was outstanding as Abraham Lincoln. The rest of the cast was just as good. It is a wonderful film. In other local news. Last week, right near the very Cambridge store I mentioned above they were filming a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio. A friend of mine who works in that store phoned me and said she saw the movie trailers on the street right behind the store and Leonardo was seen riding his bike around Porter Square. I don't know the name of the movie. Maybe I'll change the name of this blog to Entertainment This Afternoon.

My sister has just purchased a house and I of course am happy to help her move. Besides I could be living there someday. Between working odd schedules at work, keeping in touch and socialising with friends when I can, and of course seeing my lady friend (Not a big problem though Honey!),  moving boxes for my sister, it's a busy life. I am off today and I have been a total slob accomplishing nothing but this blog entry and eating and it's been a welcome relief. 

I've gone on long enough. Once again a big thank you to everyone for the happy birthday wishes especially to you Beth. Thank you! That was very sweet of you. I won't forget this!
That's it. I'm outta here.