Friday, March 22, 2013

My Grandpa.

St. Patrick's Day was very pleasant. Guess what we ate? OK you know what we had. There was actually only one Irishman present as he was out numbered by Italians. Before going to my sisters house we stopped at an Italian bakery in the center of town. It's biggest and best claim to fame is that it is a second location of the original in the North End, where as I have mentioned before there are a plethora of Italian bakeries and restaurants. (I can't wait to go back!) We got some chocolate cream filled cannolis and some St. Patricks Day themed cupcakes.

During the meal my sisters and I began reminiscing about our grandfather, my mothers father. He was still working his farm back in Italy in the late '70s but reports were filtering back here to the States, that Grandpa may be loosing it a little. My mother and her brother and sister decided that they should bring him to America so they can care for him. This, of course, led to squabbles over the property back in Italy but that's a story for another time. When he got here he lived for 4 months at each of his children's homes. He was a nice old guy but he was definitely not fully aware of what was going on. For instance you couldn't convince him he was in the United States. He still thought he was in Italy. He actually was in the United States in the '20s finding work as a laborer. My mother was born here in Boston. My other grandfather was here as well but he didn't bring his family. He also worked as a laborer and sent money back to the old country. The knew each other. For all I know my parents marriage was arranged. They only lived a few streets apart in Italy. When everything crashed in 1929 they went back.

As I said you had to keep an eye on Gramps because he would wander away because in his mind he was still in Italy. One day while he was staying with my aunt in a neighboring town he wandered away. The police were called. He was missing a good 8 to 10 hours. About 11pm he was found at the Logan Airport, about 7 miles from where he was staying. My parents, aunts and uncles and there spouses went to the state police station finding him holding court, talking Italian as he was surrounded by a group of amused state police. He was tired but none the worse for wear. He wasn't a big man but he was quite strong due to years of working his farm. He was in his mid to late 80's.

Often while sitting around the kitchen table Grandpa would brag about all the money he had. So somebody would invariably ask, "So let's see all this money." He would reach into his pocket and pull out all these old Italian bills, which were larger as the denomination was bigger. When he was done he would put it back in his pocket. You could wait several seconds and ask him the same question and he would take the money out and show you again.

As I said before you couldn't convince him he was in America. However when he went into the North End, where my Uncle Joe had a store, Grandpa would recognise the buildings and suddenly he was back in America. He even recognised where he lived over 50 years before. As soon as he left the North End he was back in Italy.

When you would try to convince him that he was in America he would say, in Italian, "What do you know about America? I was there!" It was all quite amusing. He would then say, in Italian, "I can even speak English." He would pick up a spoon and say, "Spoondala!" A fork, "Forksy". A plate, "Platesy".

One time, I was over for supper, my mother and her dad had a fight about something. Grandpa went out to the porch and was sitting on the steps. It was time to eat but Grandpa wouldn't come in so my father and I went out to bring him in. He wouldn't budge so my dad and I decided we would carry him in. Dad had him under the arms and I had him by the legs. We were laughing at the whole scene as we wondered how this looked to the neighbors. Grandpa started to struggle. As I said Grandpa was quite strong. He was kicking his legs and flailing his arms. We laughed trying to carry him up the stairs, laughing until one of his flailing fists caught my Dad right in the chops. For a brief instance I saw my Dad's mood quickly changed and I saw him make a fist like he was going to hit Gramps back, but he quickly regained his composure but I can assure you he was not happy. On the other hand my mother found it quite amusing. This did not help Dads mood.

Grandpa was really a gentle soul. When he stayed with my family he would spend his days during the summer puttering around in my fathers vegetable garden. By the way you have never had a more delicious tomato sauce than one made from tomatoes right from the garden. Grandpa made it to 94 years of age. In fact both grandfathers were the same age and died the same year, 1981.

When I get around to it I will scan some pictures from our first trip back to Italy in 1956. I think there are some pictures of my grandfathers farm and various shots of me sitting on a donkey (What else?)

Here's a shot I got from Google of the little town in Sicily, Cannicattini Bagni where my father lived. My mother lived there as well after her family left the States. I have been there twice, the last time in 1965. I have quite clear memories of that trip. The church you see in the picture was on the main drag of the little town. My grandfathers house was on the street behind the church. The back of the church was a few doors down from the house. The arrow shows where the house was. There was a little courtyard in the back and a stairway that led to another open courtyard upstairs where there were grape vines, a table and chairs. It was actually quite nice.
If you went down the street from the Church to the left you came to a beautiful little park. This picture I found online doesn't do it justice. I don't remember if there are any pictures of this park that we took.

  There are also Greek ruins on the island as Sicily has been conquered by a few different cultures besides the Italians. I have also been to Rome and the Vatican. There are pictures somewhere but at this time I don't know who has them.

OK this blog has taken forever and it's almost bedtime. I had a long busy day at work but it was productive. It's amazing how good things can go when a bad boss takes a few days off.

I'm outta here. 


Sunday, March 17, 2013

I can't wait for the weather to improve, at least temperature wise. For too many years I have not taken advantage of all that I have around me. Getting a camera started me on my journey and I hope to continue it as the weather improves. Of course I will be going back to a certain island at the beginning of June. I am in love with this place and would even consider moving there if I could afford it. It's been since early September since I've had any real time off. Oh sure I've had two long weekends off since then, but one was a few weeks back thanks to a big snowstorm. We weren't allowed to drive and public transportation was halted for a day. I remember telling my boss, "You won't see me tomorrow."
By the way, not allowing driving was a good decision by the Governor. It was much better to deal with 25 inches of snow with as little disruption as possible. I have a car not a tank and driving to work through two feet of snow is not my idea of fun all wheel drive or not. 
I would like to go to Vermont. I have been there once back in the '70s. It was memorable, not because I enjoyed the scenery or the music festival I was going to attend, but because my friend and his girl friend had a huge fight on the way up including her throwing a can of soda (full) at him from the back seat as we drove down the highway.  He then tried to throw it back at her .I won't go into the particulars but it was essentially a two and a half hour ride up, more fighting in the parking lot, and two and a half hours back,with some fighting, then silence the rest of the way. Not one of the nicer road trips I have taken.
There's plenty to see and do in New England. I have been to Maine a couple of times but I'm sure there's more to see and do. I've been to Rhode Island a few times and it reminds me of a smaller version of Massachusetts, and a different accent. I've been through Connecticut heading to New York but have never stopped there. I really don't know if there's anything I want to see there but then again I haven't tried to find anything interesting there. There still is plenty for me to do and see within a 25 mile radius of Boston. I can't wait for the nicer weather so I can head back to New Hampshire. It's such a beautiful place and not very crowded. The Boston area alone has almost 4 times the people than the entire state. And best of all the border is only 20 to 25 minutes from my drive way. 
Happy St Patricks Day to all who celebrate. We will be celebrating in the typical way with a corn beef and cabbage meal at my sisters. My lady friend an I will be heading over there around 2 o'clock this afternoon. Of course there will be a bit of a twist as the only Irishman in the group will be my brother in law. The rest of us are Italian so I will be providing desert from Mike's Pastry here locally. Mike also has a location (the original) in Boston's North End. The very Italian North End. If any of you out there ever make it to Boston you must go to the North End. You will be transported to Europe. It's loaded with restaurants, pastry shops, Italian food stores, pizzeria's and sidewalk cafes. You will never get a bad meal there. The smells are heavenly as you walk down the street, not to mention Paul Revere's house and the Old North Church (one if by land, two if by sea). It's all very Italian. Just don't drive in you'll never find a place to park. The streets are narrow and winding. It's all part of the original Boston peninsula before all the land reclamation. It's quite easy by public transportation. You'll love it!

And yes we will be getting snow Monday night into Tuesday. About 4 to 6 inches. There are still piles of snow here and there from the last big one a month ago. My back still aches after the seven hour shoveling marathon, including a snow blower. I view snow as just an unnecessary freezing of water.

Well that's all for now kiddies. It's still not quiet 8 a.m. Sunday morning. I am an early riser. I have been up since 5 and had my breakfast. I am going to plop myself on the couch and watch a dvd. Possibly take a snooze, then get ready for the big meal this afternoon.

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

I'm outta here.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Lets see. Where was I?

Oh yeah. I went to work as always, just seeing Saturday and Sunday in my sights. That's what it has become for me. It is a real chore for me to go out in the evening after work. I guess it's part of  aging. Still I can't complain too much. I had a good check up at the doctors and all my numbers are good. My biggest problem is with a still sore left leg from my little incident on vacation last year.

 There are rumours that my company will be sold again. The most recent sale won't be complete until March 18. The word is they are going to rename all the stores they changed, back to the original name. Then they will sell all the Boston area stores under one name. The name we had when all this first went down in1999. They said there was value in the name because we have been around since 1915. What fools. They should have left the name alone when we were first purchased by an English outfit called Sainsbury who owned another New England chain. They stuck both companies together and it seems randomly changed the names of some stores while keeping the old name on others. They changed the way we do business and basically dumbed us down or as they told us, "Lower your standards." I am lucky to still have a job. 700 people were layed off 2 months ago as a condition of the sale. Now they are re-hiring again. I hope the second sale happens and we go back to doing business the way we used to. Of course I'd also like to retire in about a year but that's just a thought at the moment. If this next sale goes down it will be the 5th time we have been sold in 14 years. OK enough about work. I'll be there soon enough.

From the "Are you kidding me?!" Dept. A local group has put in a bid for the next Olympics. In Boston! are you kidding me?! Where? It's cramped enough as it is. I was driving home from my mechanic this morning about 9:45, on a road that runs parallel to the major highway into Boston from the north. From time to time you can see Rt.93 from the road I took. At 9:45, about 10 miles from the Boston line was this nearly stalled traffic jam on a 4 lane highway. According to what I read in the Globe, there will about 16,500 athletes, technical assistance for some 15,000 media members, and they will need hotel space for about 45,000 visitors. That's 76,500 people! Where are you going to put all these people?! In theory it's a great idea and I would love to see it. It would be a boon to the economy, and sure would be fun but let's get back to reality. Boston is a small, big city. It originally was an almost island at the end of a peninsula. Apart from land across the harbor, both north and south, a good deal of downtown is landfill.
There's the Garden, where the Celtics and Bruins play, Fenway Park, and Harvard Stadium. Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots play, is about 30 miles away, so I suppose you could have events in these various places but you would have to go beyond the city limits. Personally I think this would be a nightmare.
Congratulations to my lady freiend's daughter for being accepted into Harvard University graduate school. I can't imagine how tough that is. This young lady is destined for success. She's very bright and a hard worker. Congratulations Allison!
Well this wasn't one of my better blogs but what do you want for nothing? Your money back?
I'm outta here.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Another quick week and winners to the Efrem Zimbalist Jr. Look-a-like Contest announced!

So I sat in this very chair on Saturday night after arriving home from work at about 9:30 p.m. I thought about writing a post because I haven't written in a while or even visited anyone. As I sat there I realized that a whole week just disappeared and that I thought the very same thing the previous Saturday night. In fact this has been the story for a few months now. Going through the week just get to Saturday night at 9 so I know I will have the next two days off. Truthfully I really don't want to do anything at least on Sunday but over the last few months I've let a lot of things slip. I have fallen into a rut. About the most exciting thing I've done as of late is buy Skippy Super Chunk Peanut Butter instead of my regular creamy style.
The room where my computer is, became the refuge for anything that I had not put away properly in the first place or for things that really had no proper storage area in the first place. Things that I have lugged around for years that I have never used and really have no use for. So I gave myself a wake up call. It's time to reorganize myself again. I have to do this every few years, hopefully simplifying my life, when in reality life gets more complex and convoluted every year.  I suppose that part of it is that I am tiring of working the same job for 42 years, though I also know that I'm  lucky to have have it. Compared to many people, I'm doing OK.

Just one more whine. I can't wait for some time off. I last had a week off Sept. 10th of 2012 and the next one is scheduled for the end of May or beginning of June. We've also had a pretty crappy winter. On the other hand it's now March. So Spring is close by. Daylight savings time starts next week. Much nicer weather will be here in a few weeks. That's always good to recharge the batteries. Then there's another trip to Martha's Vineyard scheduled during that end of May, beginning of June period. Once again I am lucky to have such a place relatively close by. If you go in the late Spring/early Summer, end Summer/early Fall it's a relatively inexpensive 5 day trip. There are still places we haven't been too. First up will be a short ferry ride to the infamous Chappaquiddick Island. There are other things to see, but no doubt, we will check out the bridge that Ted Kennedy drove off in 1968. It's a much smaller Island than M.V. and looks to be beautiful from some pictures I've seen.

So now it's mid afternoon on Monday and it's back to work again tomorrow. I did get to watch the Ben Afleck movie Argo last night. It was well done and very entertaining and I think most of the screenplay stuck true to the real story. There was a bit of Hollywood thrown in at the end with a chase scene of sorts, at least I thought it was. But hey it's a movie not a documentary.

Man are there enough reality type shows on television. When I do sit to watch tv all I seem to see are reality shows  with some seemingly ridiculous concepts like Amish Mafia. Really Discovery Channel? How real is this reality show when all the characters are being followed around by cameras. Then there's the History Channel. I don't mind Pawn Stars or American Pickers but an entire day dedicated to reruns of Pawn Stars on one day and American Pickers the next. And what's so historic about Swamp People? Then there are the cop and special agent shows. Now I'm sure they're all well done but they all are the same. It's usually a murder or a terrorist threat. It just goes to show you that there is a lot of capacity in broadcasting, Too much for the industry to fill.

Blogs are a bit like a reality show. We all communicate via a computer screen. Sometimes it goes a bit further. Back in the days of Spaces I ended up talking to 4 people. 3 in the U.S. and one in the Far East but I can't remember what country. Sorry Dawn. 2 of the 3 U.S. people had spoken to each other and with me. Music cds were mailed back and forth. So you do get to make friends on a more personal basis. You also connect with a diverse group of people but all you really know about people is what you read on the screen. Is it real? I guess it's as real as you want to make it.

Technology has changed how we lived so much just in the last 10-20 years. I have never seen so many distracted people who's entire life to seems to revolve around endlessly staring at a little screen. I am not knocking the ability to text, though it seems to have created a new problem. I'm sure the next electronic gadget breakthrough will be a phone that sounds an alarm when you are about to walk into traffic.

Blogs are a result of high technology. To me it's an interesting and still new method of reaching to people anywhere in the world. Casting a world wide fishing lure and see if you get any bites. A reality show aspect as we all interact over great distances. It's real and real-like at the same time.

Well this is what happens when I sit down to write something without knowing what I was going to write in the first place. Wow it's supper time!
I'll get back to you Beth!
I'm outta here.