Saturday, November 30, 2013

Black Friday. Not for me. My sisters cat and my wonderful friend Beth.

If you live in the United States "Black Friday" has become a phenomenon. Retailers are opening earlier and earlier with all kinds of teaser deals to get you into the store, as early as 6 p.m. in some states, on Thanksgiving night. I'm waiting to see the trampling videos on the news. Retailers aren't allowed to open on Thanksgiving in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine because of what is called up here, the "Blue Laws". They can open at midnight though as it is officially the day after. You won't find me in the throng of consumers shopping at midnight, never mind, 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. Most of the stores around here didn't open until 5 or 6 a.m. the next day. True they are offering some good deals but I can't help like feeling like a sheep being herded to slaughter.. On top of it I had to start work on Friday at 6 a.m. As I listened to the news on the radio at 4:30 in the morning there were already traffic jams at certain points where a mall was located. By the way it was a long day on Friday. 6 a.m. until 4 p.m. Fortunately the first 6 hours were slow probably because people either had to work, had the day off and didn't want to go anywhere or they were Christmas shopping. You can leave me out of all that madness. I can't help but feel manipulated by all these big businesses. People who run these big companies, always make out whether or not the business is successful. They still get their bonuses. They always walk away with cash in their pockets whether or not they have success running a company or they milk it dry and kill it. My favorite comedian, George Carlin once said, and I'm not sure if this is an exact quote, and please forgive the wording, the rich keep all the money and pay none of the taxes. The middle class does all of the work, pays all of the taxes and the poor are there to scare the shit out of the middle class. George was a brilliant man.

Apart from all that grumbling my actual Thanksgiving Day was good. The meal was good, there were no family fights, not that we ever had them, but people have stories about holiday gatherings that descend into petty bickering and fighting. Ours was quite nice. Then there was my sisters cat, Mickey. I don't have a picture of Mickey but he is a very large tabby cat around 20 pounds with large double paws. He can picks things up with one paw to look at them. He also is the only cat I ever saw that will fetch a thrown little red rubber ball and return it. It took a bit to get him to learn to release the ball, but when he realized that you would throw it again the game was on. He flies down the stairs, smashes into the wall and bring it back. He also has a very sweet disposition and is quite vocal and social. Well Mickey was singing his "I wanna go out" song and my sister would say, "No Mickey it's too late and too cold."
Now don't tell me they're not smart and can't reason things out. He finished whining and walked over to a floor plant and sat by it. He then looked at my sister then looked at the plant. He did this 3 times, then suddenly took a swipe at the plant tearing off 3 or 4 leaves. My sister shouted "Mickey!" and got up. The cat took off and led her right to the door. She was angry with him and let him out. He got his way. That's pretty clever.

Well it's taken me 3 days to write this not because of exhaustive research though the exhaustive part played a role as apart from today I was never able to sit at the computer for any length of time without having to do something, go somewhere, return phone calls or just plain fall asleep. As I write this it's about 6:08 Saturday evening. I have two phone calls to make then it's time for supper.

On a final note, as I walked up the stairs to my front door tonight after work, I reached into my mail box. There was one item. I get inside flick the light on and what do I see? A birthday card from Beth. I was both surprised  and touched. Thank you so much Beth! You are the sweetest person. I can't thank you enough but I will think of something. Again, thank you Beth!

That's it.
I'm outta here.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A childhood Christmas memory. The Enchanted Village.

Before the all the malls, at least around here, the place to do your major Christmas shopping was downtown Boston at downtown crossing where the two major department stores in New England, Jordan Marsh and Filene's resided. They were located right across the street from each other. Both are now gone. Jordan Marsh in particular was a destination at Christmas time because they had the Enchanted Village of St. Nick. A group of animated figures set in a fictional village at Christmas. I remember my mother taking my sister and I into Boston. I always liked riding the buses and trains into town. The hustle and bustle of downtown Boston was exciting and we knew we were going to the Enchanted Village at Jordan Marsh including a visit to see and get a picture with Santa. Macy's swallowed up both department stores sometime in the 80's.


For whatever reason Jordan Marsh stopped the Enchanted Village in 1972. It reappeared a couple of times over the following years at a couple of other Boston locations. In 2009 the Enchanted Village animated figures and sets were put up for auction and were purchased by Jordan's Furniture, no relation to Jordan Marsh, a large furniture chain in the area. They refurbished everything and a few years ago the Enchanted Village was brought back to life. Arlene and  I went a few years ago and I probably blogged about it on Spaces. Well we went back this passed Sunday. It was a cold windy day, though sunny. We travelled about 18 miles south of Boston to the town of Avon. Location of a very large Jordan's Furniture. It was crowded with families with little children and nostalgic baby boomers like ourselves reliving old happy childhood memories. We both enjoyed it. It even included the blueberry muffin's they sold at Jordan Marsh, not the original ones, a bit stale by now, but supposedly the original recipe and you could tell they used fresh blueberries. 

One word about Jordan's Furniture. It is an unusual company. There's an Imax theater, a skating rink, a motion ride called M.O.M and a few more things I can't recall. They have a New Orleans theme during the Mardi Gras when they recreate a New Orleans street scene in the very store we were at. It's the largest in they chain. They combined furniture shopping with entertainment. Truly unique. Warren Buffet was so impressed with the business he bought the company. The former owner Elliot Tatleman is still the face of the company and is still all over television. Jordan's has a big sign on the right center field wall in conjunction with a "Monster Hit" promotion. If a Red Sox player hit's a home run off the sign somehow, somebody get's some kind of special deal.
After the Enchanted Village we went out to dinner at our favorite local restaurant, Raso's.
We started out with our usual "antipasto".

Antipasto $12 (great to share)

Roasted red peppers, marinated mushrooms, grilled asparagus, caponata, fresh mozzarella,

prosciutto di parma and soppressata

This is what Arlene had.

Marsala chicken $17 veal $19

Pan seared medallions with sautéed mushrooms and choice of penne or linguine

I had,
Linguine Julia $14

Pancetta, fresh tomatoes, sweet peas, basil, toasted garlic, parmesan cheese and a touch of cream,
tossed with linguine with grilled chicken $16.5 with grilled shrimp $18.5
So all in all, though it was cold and windy it was a nice day. A diversion for both us after working for a company who is desperately trying to re-establish itself after years of mismanagement by our previous owner, "SuperValu" which was neither super nor of any value. They ruined my original company which was a wonderful company to work for. They were the first supermarket in the country to offer a 401k retirement program for their workers. They were offering cooked foods before anybody around here. They were the ones who contacted Dow Chemical to develop the plastic mesh bags that you buy oranges and onions in bulk that spread across the whole industry. We had  bundle pick-ups. The customer would pay for their groceries which were then put into a tug, placed on a conveyer belt which would disappear into the bowels of the store. You went to your car, drive to the side of the building or a spot in the parking lot and someone would load your groceries in your trunk or back seat. We were the Cadillac of supermarkets around here. Then SuperValu happened, they started to change the badging on the stores and slowly killed the business. We are no longer owned by SuperValu. Efforts are now being made to trying to revive the name. I hope it's not too late. I am also considering retirement in the near future. My company's original name, Star Market. It's on Wikipedia.

So after all that blather here's a video of pictures and clips taken at the Enchanted Village yesterday. I wasn't using my camera. so some of the video clips go out of focus a couple of times. I don't like shooting pictures and video's buy looking at a little screen on the back of the camera. You can't steady the camera against your face like you can with a viewer. It' easier to frame a picture or video when you can hold the camera firmly against your face. It was also very crowded and difficult to get a clear shot. At the end of the Enchanted Village was an animated Ray Charles figure sitting at a piano singing Christmas songs. This wasn't part of the original village but pretty neat none the less. Here's the video.

OK I guess I've taken up enough of your time.
I'm outta here.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thank you for all the kind words last post/Will we get casinos?

Once again thank you all for you kind words last post. It means a lot to me. I never thought of myself as a photographer, just a guy who likes to take pictures. The word photographer implies that I know what I'm doing. Technically I am clueless. I do not fully understand my latest camera. I have been using it for about a year and a half. My previous camera was basically a 8.1 mega pixel point and shoot. It had a nice zoom and was easy to use. Most of the pictures last post and the ones on this post were shot with that camera. I broke off the picture taking button. I will get it repaired. Changing lenses on the new camera can be a pain and I have to carry a small suitcase along with me. Having said all that, I finished going through most of the pictures from 2005 till now.  There were a lot of pictures. I didn't look at them all. I am itching to go somewhere and take more pictures. Today looks to be a pleasantly gloomy day so I don't know what I'm going to do. 

People in Massachusetts like to gamble. I was surprised to find in the ranking of the state lotteries, Massachusetts was #2 behind New York. Considering the difference in population, nearly 20 million for NY to 6.6 million I was surprised. So gambling is a big business around these here parts. In 2011 the State gave the OK for 3 casinos to be built. The Las Vegas people are here and so are the Foxwoods people from Connecticut. There have been several proposed sites, two of which were and are very close to me. Within 5 or 6 miles.  One of those two cities voted the proposal down while the other voted for it. These two cities border each other. There is the promise of jobs and tax revenue which I suppose is a good thing, but are they kidding? A casino within a stones throw of Boston? Big Dig or no Big Dig this is one congested, cramped area. Traffic is a nightmare. Amongst the worst in the country. How can this help? Other proposed sites have been rejected by locals for the very same reason. And these were less populated regions. There are other proposed sites including my beloved Martha's Vineyard. Say it ain't so Joe. I know this sounds like "Not in my back yard", and some of it is. This will bring more traffic through my town. We have enough with 3 exit ramps from the main north south highway. Up to 3 casinos will be built somewhere, sometime. Do the pros outweigh the cons? I really don't know. I went to Las Vegas back in 1979. It was bright and glitzy back then as it always is. I suppose it's something to see but I'm not much of a gambler though I will admit to a scratch ticket now and then.

Sometimes I really don't know what I'm going write about when I begin. So here are the last of the pictures I can't wait to take more.

There are a few pictures I wish I didn't include upon watching these again. Watching the Gingerbread Houses again reminded me of how strange and even a creepy they were when you first walked onto the grounds. You expected munchkins to emerge from the bushes. Still once you get used to them it's really just a peaceful departure from reality. They're certainly colorful.
OK that's enough.
I'm outta here.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Well wouldn't you know it

The title has nothing to do with anything I would possibly write. And I will think of something to write. I suppose I could whine about the shaky situation at work. Not on me personally, though one must be careful. It has been a very tough week. Today I am off. I have a scheduled extra day off, not because I wanted it and not because the company is being real nice to me. Monday was a legal holiday in Ma. Veterans Day. If I worked I would have to be paid overtime. They don't like that. And Monday is my regular day off anyway. But I'll take the extra day off. It comes out of my vacation time and I have more than I can spend this year. Not too long ago I would take 6 or more weeks off a year. I got spoiled. Ah the good old days.

Now if you need a good laugh, and who doesn't, I suggest you watch this. It's a YouTube classic. It's been around for a while and you may have even seen it before. It's a couple of news anchors breaking into fits of laughter after a model falls off her shoes. Their laughing is infectious. I laugh every time I watch this.

When I had some down time in the last two weeks, I decided to put all the discs I have containing photos in better order than they were. Time to time I would load a disc containing pictures of a particular place. Soon I was picking out ones that I liked and then I had to put them in some kind of order. I had created some busy work for myself. I did it as a distraction and soon got caught up in it. And guess what? I made slide shows out of them. On second look at some of the pictures that I stitched together I saw some flaws in them. Maybe a blurry bit on a building or a tree. I'm better at it now but they don't always come out perfect.

Some I resurrected and or have used recently and some date anywhere from 2008-2012. Maybe even newer. It was a bit confusing at times but still fun to put together. B the way the little boy in the last post wearing the Red Sox cap, a big foam finger, clutching a World Series pennant in a stroller, is Arlene's grand nephew. It was taken when her niece took little Zachery to the parade a couple of weeks ago. I got the picture from Arlene not the Internet. Alright enough verbal babble, here are two of them.

  I've neglected my Blogger duties the last week so I have a bit of catching up to do. The sun is out and it will hit the 50's today, though I'm going nowhere. Loved the email Beth!
Time for me to saddle up and publish this puppy.

I'm outta here. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Let me make one thing clear, yes it was terrific that the Red Sox won the series, but this whole episode goes far deeper than just another championship. The Red Sox were playing while the marathon was in progress. Traditionally the Red Sox play an 11:00 a.m. game on Patriots Day, a local holiday, the players were watching the marathon from time to time when they were at bat. Many of the players who live within walking distance of the park, were going to go to the marathon with there families after the game. Fenway Park is within walking distance of the marathon finish line. It made them stop and think.  The next home game the team paid tribute to the victims who were killed or maimed by the explosions. Three people died, people lost all or part of their limbs. David Ortiz of the Red Sox grabbed a mike and rallied everybody in the park and in New England. He used some salty language but he spoke from the heart. The players took it upon themselves to help the city and the area heal from this tragedy. The Boston Marathon is very special to Boston. It's the oldest marathon in the world and as you may have guessed we around here have much pride in all the things that we have. The Red Sox recognized this and made it their mission to win the whole thing. They carried a special Red Sox Jersey they had made honoring the victims to every park they played in.

After all the hoopla of winning they had a victory parade through the city on the Duck Boats which eventually ended up in the Charles River. The weather was perfect tickling 70 degrees. I work pretty near the river and if I was off I would have parked there and walked down to the river to the same spot where Arlene and I took the Charles River/Boston Harbor tour on the very same Duck Boats a couple of months ago. Of course we would have had to get there early as there were an estimated two million people lining the parade route.    
None of these photos are mine. These are the Duck Boats at Fenway Park before the parade.

The Duck Boats make their way out of the park and down the streets of Boston.

Johnny Gomes places the trophy covered with the team jersey that they hung in every park they played in, on the marathon finish line.
There they had a ceremony and an opera singer sang God Bless America and the crowd joined in.

So in the end, as much as it was fun to follow this team and watch it win it all again it really wasn't about another sports championship. Not this time. It was about an organization and group of 40 guys who never gave up and helped a wounded city heal.

Now apart from all that on Sunday Arlene and I went out to a local sporting goods store so she could buy some World Series mementos to send to family she has around the country. Once a Sox fan always a Sox fan. I on the other hand didn't buy anything. Some of the t-shirts weren't bad at $20 but $40 for a World Series cap, forget about it. After that we went to our favorite restaurant, Raso's.
Arlene had a dish similar to eggplant parmesan. It was quite tasty. I decided to get something I haven't had in many years veal masala on a bed of linguine. All I can say is wow! After that we just went back to Arlene's and watched the Patriots game.

Apart from a couple of loads of laundry I plan to hunker down and relax today (Monday). I had a rough week at work. That's it. Over and out.

I'm outta here.