Friday, June 28, 2013

A rare Friday off.

Yup. Apart from a week off I never get Fridays off. It really doesn't mean anything except that today is sort of a re-opening for my company. We in the deli have new little costumes to wear. Instead a company polo shirt and an apron, and a baseball style company hat, we have white chefs coats with black collars and a black hat similar to a sushi chef's hat. And yes we had meetings about the companies "new direction" and how we are to approach things concerning customers and customer service. That's all well and good except they scheduled our meeting at noon. They took two people out of my department right at the height of lunchtime business to tell us how important "customer service" is. On the surface it seems so counter productive. Why would you want to emphasize "customer service" while at the same time further reducing customer service at the height of business? Seems stupid. Well it is stupid. More than likely word came down from top management that all employees must attend these meetings to be aware of the companies new direction and purpose. 
This must all happen by June 28. And, oh yeah, don't spend any extra payroll. Bingo! It's the same old problem. So since 1999 we've had 5 owners, each one trying "something new"  but always on the cheap. It has all snowballed the company to it's present position. 
None of us in my department are particularly thrilled with our new uniforms. It seems like we will look like a group of over grown organ grinder's monkeys. Hey I hope it works for every one's sake including mine, but it's really just lipstick on a pig. Oh well.

Let's see. Yesterday I almost ran over two people. Two distracted people. Walking into traffic from behind a parked vehicle without looking because they are transfixed by a little hand held screen. There are cyber zombies among us. I could rant on this but I won't. 

I really don't want to do anything today, but I do have a few things to do. I'd rather just lie about. Outside it's overcast with the threat of showers. The temperature is in the 60's. I have no place to go except the washing machine and some other house work locations. I make my debut in the new costume.. I mean uniform tomorrow. I suppose it wouldn't really matter to me if I really was a chef. Do they think a customer seeing someone cutting their half pound of Land-O-Lakes American cheese will think, "Oh WOW!!! A chef is cutting my cheese! This is has got to be good!"
I pray that the supermarket gods smile on us and this dog and pony show works. Retirement is in the near future for me, but not just yet. After all these years I want to go out on my terms.

Well as often happens I wanted to write a blog but I wasn't quite sure what to write about. Initially this was going to take a different direction but I can save other topics for the next blog. Until then...
I'm outta here.
As I rummaged through a disc of photos I found this one. This is Bella. One of the many cats that have been in my family. She passed about three years ago at the age of 11. She was sweet, a bit skittish, but very gentle. My mother loved her and the reverse was true as well. All the other cats lived between 17 and 20 years My other sisters cat, Onyx is 14 and is doing well. Bella was a cutie.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A walk for Krystle

Sunday was a hot sunny day. Arlene's daughter Allison and her track coach from high school, had organised a walk to raise money for the Krystle Campbell Scholarship fund. Both Allison and Krystle ran track for "The Coach", as he is referred to. It was held at the local high school sports facility. As I mentioned in the previous blog Allison asked if I could take pictures of the event because she was going to write about it on the cities web site and her own, which is about the city as well. I got there about 9:30 in the morning. I live very close to the facility but have never been there as I was long gone from high school when it was built. Essentially they were selling t-shirts, burgers, hot dogs, drinks...etc. as well as pledging money for laps around the track all to raise money for the Krystle Campbell Scholarship Fund. They also had some entertainment. A young man sang four songs to his own accompaniment on guitar. I thought he did just fine. Following him we had a barber shop quartet from the high school who were surprisingly good. Then there was the high school band. What can I say? They sounded just like they did when I was in high school, bless their little hearts. I had been asked to stay until 12:30 because of something that was going to happen. That was the mayor and Krystle's parents were going to arrive. I have to say I didn't feel all that comfortable taking these pictures. I did it and as a favor to Allison and because I like to take pictures. Allison does such good work starting and organising events like this for public awareness and support. As I said I didn't feel good about snapping shot of Krystle's parents. They put on brave faces, but how can this not still be fresh on their minds. The Marathon was only two months ago? 

Well the event on Sunday raised over $10,000.  Who knew? Of course I was only there for a little over 3 hours and it was a 12 hour event. Still while I was there, the largest amount of people hovered between 30-35. Some were buying a hot dog or a t shirt, coffee or  walking around the track. I was quite impressed at the amount raised. Good for them!
Here's a few shots from yesterday. No shots of Krystle parents, just the performers and maybe something else.
 This whole senseless attack on people who were just enjoying a public sporting event saddens and angers me even though all who I know and love were nowhere near the Marathon on that day. This poor young woman having her life taken away from her as she was entering the prime of life. Everything I read and heard about her was positive. Everybody loved her. What a stupid world.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

So what have I been doing?

After having a vacation week a couple weeks ago, where the ride down was, well, very wet. It was followed by three nearly perfect days of 68-72 degree, clear sky days. We left on a Monday and though it rained all the way down, by 7:00 that evening it had cleared up. We went out to eat then walked back to the ocean, sat on a bench and started to decompress. A few people were out but not many. The traffic had dwindled down to one or two every so often. We felt like we had the place to ourselves. That's the beauty of going in the off season.
Then there were the monsoon rains on the thrill packed, frustrating, bladder bursting, snail paced, four and a half hour ride home. So what have I been doing?
We sat by the ocean just a little up the road apiece from here, early Monday evening as the sun went down. All the nonsense of the real world slowly dissipated.

Well working for one thing. I was mellow on my first day back to work, until about 11a.m. when this guy with an armful of groceries and two bags peanuts in the shell clutched in one hand rushes up and says, "Where are the peanuts?"
"Uh, you're holding two bags of peanuts."
"I want more."
"Well those are in the produce department."
"Where's that?"
This genius had just walked out produce department to ask me where the peanuts that he was holding, where located. My co-worker had to turn away and go in the corner so he could snicker away. My mellowness evaporated. I was back in the real world. My schedule has me starting at 7a.m. one day an 12:30p.m. the next. I'm told this is only temporary, for a couple of weeks. We'll see.
Then there was Arlene's birthday. Arlene's daughters and I took her out for dinner. As a present I got a multi frame picture frame. It held several different sizes for a total of nine. Martha's Vineyard means much to Arlene as it does to me as well. I decided to pick out nine pictures of certain significance, print and frame them. I have a lot of pictures. Going back to 2010 and I started looking at them and suddenly decided that I should make a master collection of my favorites. I then decided that it would be nice to have a photo album of all my favorite pictures. Something on a shelf, not on a computer screen.
The Clay Cliffs in Aquinnah on the opposite side of the island. This picture doesn't do the place justice. It's breathtaking.
    So to make a long story boring I ended up with a total of 265 out of about 600 or 700. I finished printing out the first set on Friday. It was time consuming but pleasurable, transporting me back to places. I have filled one photo album and need to buy another as I have 78 photos left over. I'll give the first set to Arlene, but I do want one for myself. As it looks right now we will be heading back in Mid September.

Well I worked a late shift tonight and have kind of lallygagged (You should have seen the way I spelled it before using the spell check. And now back to our story.)... around and tried mightily to produce a blog entry. I have a full day on Sunday. Nothing too strenuous. From about 9:30-12:30 I will be taking some pictures at a function held at the local high school football field. I hesitate to call it a stadium. It will be a fund raiser in honor of Krystle Campbell. The young local woman who was killed at the marathon. She grew up around the corner from here. Arlene's daughter Allison, went grade school through high school with Krystle and runs the local city's web site. She helped organise this walk around the track to raise money. Something is supposed to happen at 11:30 on Sunday morning and she would like some pictures for the city's web site and her own. I am getting all this information second hand from Arlene so some of the facts are cloudy. I will then go home and hopfully do some laundry and a few chores. Later at six we will go out for a bite to eat. Catch up on a few things, then it's back home, sleep and then back to dealing with the great unwashed. Present company excluded of course.
"Ah. Scuze me. Where's the thing to make the hamburgers?"

OK. That's it. It's soon to be tomorrow. I need my beauty sleep.
I'm outta here.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The awful end to a mostly good week. Plus!! Special guest stars, a popular bodily function and the Silent Treatment.

As I mentioned in the last blog the drive back from Cape Cod was a complete nightmare. Complete with a strange command from the portable GPS that sent us on a road that we weren't familiar with, blinding rain, a near accident, complete with a Janet Leigh like scream from "Psycho". And the long quiet stretch that I thought was just a long quiet stretch. It turns out that at some point at some time since we left the island I was insensitive. It was a complete mystery to me about my insensitivity. I asked and begged for Arlene to tell me where I crossed the line, but she wouldn't tell me.
"You should know!"
Yes I should know so please tell me?! She never did. She seemed to get over my faux pas and settled in for some mutual misery as we drove unknown roads in a driving rain. Here's a video of the drive down, the beautiful weather for three days and a bit of the ride from hell back. I made a mistake on a caption. We did not catch the ferry at 8;15a.m. and begin the drive home at 9:20a.m. At 8;15 we were eating breakfast. We weren't sure if we were leaving from Oak Bluffs or Vineyard Haven. We left the hotel at check out, 11a.m. and headed to the harbor. We then learned of the change of harbors because of the storm. We caught the 12:15 ferry out of Vineyard Haven. And another note on the captions they appear an instant too soon in most cases. Apart from that it's a masterpiece.

So we're sitting in the less than glamorous ferry for the ride back to Woods Hole in Falmouth. By the way you will hear the name Woods Hole on the national news from time to time because that is the location of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Any way as we are underway the odor of garbage permeates the smallish cabin of the ferry, for the truck, which we had to follow from Oak Bluffs to Vineyard Haven when we learned of the switching of the docks because of the changing weather, was parked right under the open windows of the cabin.  Oak Bluffs harbor goes out to open ocean whereas The Vineyard Haven harbor is protected by a bay. I suppose this foul odor was a precursor to the ride ahead of us. It was going to stink. The urge for a popular bodily function became apparent to me. There was a men's "rest room" right in front of me and my need to "rest" was coming on strong owing to two cups of coffee at breakfast. Somebody came out of the rest room and I got  look inside. Very small and not a lot of privacy from what I saw. The urge to rest grew stronger and I decided that if I don't take care of this now I would be forever be holding my peace. Figuratively speaking of course. I went in. It was pretty grungy and I was out of there as quick as possible. The was a ladies rest room. The smell of garbage was sickening. We decided to go sit in the car on deck. But before we left the cabin I ask Arlene if she needed to use the facilities before we went back to the car. She was not enthusiastic about the ferry's ladies room for which I cannot blame her. Still any port in a storm. It will be a long time before we arrive anywhere where we can stop. She said she was fine. She apparently could hold off on "resting". OK.

We go back to the car for the last half hour of the ride. We dock and soon are driving off the boat. We enter a parking lot and there are cars coming in all directions. I make my way towards the exit. Just as I'm about to turn onto the street, Arlene says, "Go left towards those buildings."

Huh? How? We're about to take a right onto the road and there's no way I can take a left. "Why did you want me to take a left?"
She replied, "Because I wanted to use the rest rooms in that harbor building."
"Well why didn't you say that before we left the boat?" 
She answered, "I'm OK. I can wait."

As we drive away from Cape Cod the rain and wind intensify. Sometimes it's hard to see out the window. As we drove I asked Arlene if she would like me to stop at any restaurant so she could "rest". I was willing to buy something just so she could "rest".
"No. I'm alright."
I'm not sure how much time has elapsed since we left the ferry. Maybe 40 or 50 minutes. The computerized woman's voice on my GPS receiver tells me to take the next exit. She hasn't failed me yet though I'm still not really sure of the roads down this way. I have to move a lane over to the far right lane for the exit. I check my mirrors. It's hard to see. Arlene says it looks clear. Directional on I begin to move to the right. Suddenly Arlene lets out a blood curdling scream straight out of a horror movie. And there right next to my right front door is another car. We are inches apart! I cut back into my original lane. After a couple of seconds to calm down Arlene apologized for screaming. No apology was needed. It was terrifying.

Maybe 15 or 20 minutes pass. We are both quiet. We just want to be home. The GPS lady says, "Traffic alert. Recalculating."
She has never said traffic alert in the four years of use. What does that mean? We soon get new orders to take a specific exit. 20, 30, 40 minutes later, who knows, Arlene turns her body to the right, looking like she might be taking a little snooze. More time passes. I put my hand on Arlene's leg and say, How're you doing?"
"Don't talk to me!"
"You're so insensitive sometimes!"
"Did I say something? Did I do something?"
"Never Mind."
I begged for an explanation but all I got was silence.
The silent treatment continued for a while. Now I begin to feel the urge to "rest". But where. This will only add to the agony of the ride. So now there are two of us in silent agony, who have to go. In my head I'm sure the GPS would eventually get us home. My car compass showed we were heading in the right general direction, N/NE. Why were we approaching Boston from this part of the state when there are a couple of  highway's that go right from the Cape through Boston, with an exit ramp a minute or two from my driveway. I recognized the names of the cities on signs but wasn't really sure where they were in relation to Boston.

Arlene suddenly resumes a normal sitting position and announces that she's OK. She's over it. Over What? I decide to give the matter a rest. The GPS has us take another exit and soon we found ourselves on city streets. Crowded, with traffic lights, buses, lots of cars and heavy rain. We know where we are. We're in Dorchester. A suburb, considered part of Boston. The Expressway (in name only) was somewhere to our right. I've never been in Dorchester. I don't know the streets. The GPS lady remains silent. The mood lightens up a bit, though not that much when you have to really go, we know we still have a long slog ahead of us. Did I mention it was raining?

OH NO! That guy at the lights wants to take a left into the on coming lane! We're not going to move! It was slow and painful through Dorchester.. Suddenly we saw a sign for Rt. 93 North. A road we should have been on for 20 or 30 miles. I'll cut this short right here. We got on 93 and crawled the last 6 or 7 miles.

We pulled onto the driveway and made tracks for the door. Got inside and took care of business. We both sat down. I had a couple of beers in the refrigerator and we just relaxed for a bit. I checked my phone messages. It was the usual stuff untill the very last message. It was from the Steamship Authority informing me that the ferry for Woods Hole, Falmouth would be leaving from Vineyard Haven instead of Oak Bluffs because of the storm. I never gave them my cell phone number. Only my home phone. A fitting end to a strange vacation week. Oh and concerning my mysterious indescretion, I think I've got it figured out, but that's for another blog. I can't write anymore.

Here's a slide show of some of the pictures.
     OK it's the last day of my vacation and I do have a few errands to run before I can settle in for the last day of my vacation. Time for some breakfast.
I'm outta here.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Dreary begining, wonderful middle, agrivating ending.

OK. So I have been back from you know where, since 4:30 or so yesterday. I followed the long range forecast for about two weeks and for the most part it looked perfect. As it turned out things changed after two weeks and suddenly it looked like rain both here and on the Vineyard. I know I know. That sounds so pretentious. The odd thing is, where we stay is the complete opposite of pretentious. Oak Bluffs is a working persons town. Of course there are some art galleries and book stores, plenty of restaurants, a nice coastline, off beat shops, colorful and fantasy inspired architecture.
A line of "Ginger Bread" Cottages.
  The cottages were all part of a Methodist religious revival meeting in 1835 that proved so popular that the cottages sprang up around the meeting area of the revivals.
There a still plenty of images and clips for me to go through. 

So as I was saying there was lots of rain to accompany us down to Falmouth on Cape Cod. Sometimes quite heavy. It rained right into the late evening the first night. It didn't bother us all that much as we couldn't officially get into our rooms until 2p.m. and it was 9:20 in the morning. Despite the steady rain we had umbrellas and we would inevitably have to eat lunch and it was good to stretch our legs after the white knuckle drive down. The manager knows us by now and will get our room ready as soon as possible. At least that's what she says. For all I know the room is 10 minutes from being ready and it's an act to ingratiate the hotel to the customer. It doesn't really matter, they have always treated us well here. The next three days were picture book perfect, though we noticed a significant influx of people by Thursday. This is the latest in Spring we have come here. It's around this time when the tourist start to flock in. The population grows from 15,000 to over 100,000 through the summer. No thanks! When you go early in the season or late in the Fall there are times you feel you've got the place to yourself. Sill, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were all quite lovely.
The Main drag in Oak Bluffs at about 9 a.m.

The other way.

The ride home on Friday was looking grim from the word go. As happened last September as we were leaving the weather was changing. The normally placid Oak Bluffs harbor waters and beach were churning. The wind picked up and it soon began to rain. Oak Bluffs Harbor is not a protected harbor. There's no bay. It sticks out to open ocean. So we go up the road to a town called Vineyard Haven. It has a protected harbor. None of this affected the departure time of the ferry. They are very good about departure and arrival times. As we drove to the other harbor we were stuck behind this large and long refuse removal trailers and this one, though covered with tarps, smelled of garbage. As it turns out he's haulin' this stuff back to the mainland. We were behind him right till the time vehicle boarding began. It turns out we weren't going back on the same ferry we came over on. The same one we always went over on. You drive your car in the belly. Get out go upstairs or go on one of several decks. Our ferry, as it turns out was a bit more utilitarian with a flat open rear deck where all the cars and trucks are parked. Maybe 30 or 40 of them. A very small cabin with a not very appealing men's room. On top of that the large garbage hauler was parked against the wall just below the cabin. We sat there with six other people, serenaded by the fragrance of rotting garbage. After about 10 minutes we decided to go and sit in the car like all the other smart people. I don't need to tell anybody about a popular bodily function we all share after drinking coffee. The men's room looked sketchy from glimpses I got as people entered and left. I was sure you weren't going to see this men's room in Better Homes and Gardens never mind Better Men's Rooms and Gardens, but it was at best functional though cramped, with little privacy, and not a little room you would want to spend any more time in then you had to. 

I come out of the men's room and ask Arlene if she has to got to the restroom so she can ah, "rest" before the long drive back. She declined. She wasn't in need of any "rest". The drive back was worse than the drive down. The horrendous rain storm, a detour taken by the GPS from our normal route. A near accident. A prolonged episode of the silent treatment who's answer may or may not be discerned by me. On the other hand after all was said and done we were still able to laugh about it.

Next time I will go more in depth on the long agonising ride from Falmouth up through Boston and home 5 from miles from there. A ride I hoped we would survive so we could live to die of old age.
OK I have more pictures and clips to go through. I may make a slide show and surely another major motion picture shot with a 5 megapixel camera.

I'm outta here.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Why does this have to end?

So far, apart from, the first day which poured rain all the way down and all day while we were on the island. The evening cleared and ever since then it has been picture perfect. We haven't done anything or gone anywhere of note.

It rained the whole day on Monday.
Monday evening cleared up and was quite pleasant.

We had plans to visit a few places but it has been so beautiful (72 degrees more or less) and sunny that we have had a wonderful time walking around Oak Bluffs and basically eating. There was one expensive lunch though ,$80.00 including tip, and though the food was good, it wasn't worth the money just to sit by the harbor to eat. The local supermarket, a family owned business, was so much cheaper than the big chain we work for. Our company should be ashamed of themselves. The very same items that we carry on the mainland were a dollar cheaper here where every thing has to be shipped over by boat.
Walks on the beach have been especially beautiful at night. And though the sun sets on the other side of the island it made for a beautiful sky.

Oh well we'll be home tomorrow and we are going to have pretty much the same weather that we had driving down on the first day. I don't really care as I am off through Monday and I have many picture to go through. Ok I,m off to do more nothing.I'm outta here. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The hotel where we stay official video.

This is the official Pequot Hotel video. It's a charming and rustic place with a very relaxing atmosphere. 

Two more days...

...then it's off on vacation. Today I'm doing all final laundry as it is unusual for me to have a Saturday off. It's usually a late night till 9 p.m. I just came back from having a hair cut, at the last second I decided to get them all cut. (OK I know that's an old lame joke.) As I sat waiting my turn I read a Sports Illustrated article on the Marathon bombings. I have to admit as I read that the tears were welling up in my eyes again. This is all still quite fresh in everybody's mind. All the events that happened took place quite close to here. I was even in Watertown the day of the Marathon checking out the location of a registry of motor vehicles, though they weren't open because of the Patriots Day holiday. It seems in their great wisdom the registry has stopped informing you when your drivers licence expires. I was driving around with an expired licence since this passed December. The closer registry, the next city over, had been closed. It was after I arrived home from Watertown and and turned on the radio that I learned of the bombings. Watertown was where the 200 round shootout occurred, where the older wounded brother was run over by the younger and killed and where 16 hours later the younger brother was found in a boat in someones back yard. I learned of another personal connection to all this. Not only did Krystle Campbell grow up around the corner from me, (Her family still lives there) and not only did Arlene's daughters grow up with her, went to school with her and played with her when the were kids, Arlene's brother, who works in conjunction with the state police was the guy who towed the boat out of the yard after the second bomber was captured hiding from the law. And the kicker to all this is that one of Arlene's daughters goes to the marathon every year to cheer the runners and hand out drinks of water, decided to give it a miss this year. She would have been on Boylston St. near the finish line. 

As I said, reading the article brought it all back and I could feel the emotions building as I sat and waited my turn. Then I read a line that made me swell with pride again though at this point I don't remember who said it (not a local) and it's not a direct quote, Bostonians, even more than New Yorkers, can be obnoxious in their pride about their city. And as a local I have to say it's true. We can be obnoxious about our city and I am guilty of this as well. We are down the road apiece from the biggest city in the country. Our sports teams are often locked in battle. Is there a bigger rivalry in sports, when both teams are doing well of course, than Red Sox-Yankees? Our local pro sports teams have done well with 7 championships in the last 13 years. New York City has more people than the entire state of Massachusetts. But if any New Yorker ever reads this I will never bad mouth New York City. On the contrary I like the fact that I can live in Boston and have the largest and most important city in the U.S. about 200 miles away. I got to see my second all-time favorite musical group, Cream (Beatles#1) live, re-united for the first time since 1969 after a meteoric rise in two and a half years, rivalling The Beatles. They would only play in one U.S. city and it wasn't Boston. It was New York in 2005. They later broke up again over the same old crap, but I got to see them and they were still the same power house group except, if they were American citizens, they would be collecting social security. Eric Clapton did OK for himself though. Hey! Thanks New York!

To tie all this endless rambling up, Yes we locals can be obnoxious about where we come from. I've had it thrown in my face once, by someone from another state and he was right. On the other hand I didn't really start to appreciate the area until I got my first digital camera, and that wasn't all that long ago. I just took it all for granted. There no way to measure what citizens, in what cities have the most pride. It's subjective and yet it is true that we here in the Boston area and state, have plenty to be proud of. 

And now to sound even more obnoxious, my lady and I will be flitting off to Martha's Vineyard. Once again we are lucky to have this little get away reasonably close by. Now going to Martha's Vineyard is not particularly glamorous. Aside from a couple of seaside towns where the whaling mansions are and well off people live, most of the people you meet are working class, whether locals or main landers. You'll never get near where the rich people live or summer.
Still at this time of year and in early fall there is a peacefulness on the island. The weather is pleasant, most of the time, and you literally don't have to elbow through 50,000 people over the over the course of the summer. You know the best part of the trip for me? It's the 45 minute ferry ride. You're now out in open water for a bit and you definitely know that you are leaving all that every day bull back there, for a little while at least. A big decision will be where to have lunch or supper or which one of the six towns you want to visit. Then there is the calming effect of the ocean. Maybe because of where the island is located along the coast, but every time I've been there the ocean has been quite calm. I believe I booked a tour of the island. We already did this once before. It's not all that long, an hour, hour and a half. Here's one of my favorite pictures of a sunrise. I have posted it before but I like it.

It's been about a year on the button since I had my little mishap of stepping into a drainage ditch behind a sea wall while taking pictures similar to the one above. In fact it was the same day, a little after this one was taken. Fortunately the upcoming little trip will be taken at a leisurely pace. I don't really care if it rains like hell! OK that's a big lie. It looks like we may have to deal with a shower or two, so we might get wet. Who cares? Of course this all hinges on you having brought more than one set of clothes.

So if all goes according to plan I shall be reporting in a time or two from down there. It is 91 degrees as finish writing this at 3:25 Saturday afternoon. I am just beginning to feel like my vacation has begun. It's been 9 months since the last one. I think I'll have a beer.
I'm outta here