Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I'm back. I think.

Hello. It's been a busy couple of weeks. All is good if not a tad tiring. I trust everyone had a good Christmas. My actual Christmas was quite nice. The meal was pretty much what my mother would have done. Christmas was always lasagna, meatballs, sausage and pork. Pork is one of the secrets of a delicious sauce. My sisters outdid themselves. They made a variation of a calzone. A calzone is essentially bread with, typically stuffed with cold cuts and cheeses but you can make it with any kind of stuffing. It' essentially a folded over pizza. My sister made hers with swiss chard. I remember working at that bakery/deli back in the 70's and they were the only place making them locally. I'm sure there were other Italian places making them but they weren't as common as they are now. In Italian calzone means pants or pant leg. The first ones I saw were similar to a pant leg in shape but others make them in a crescent shape. If you make it with cold cuts it's good to lay the cold cuts on the flattened dough then roll the dough up jelly roll style.
Typical calzone

My sister made one that looked pretty much like this one.

And the inside looked pretty much like this one does.
Then there was the deserts. The fried ribbons of dough coated with sugar and cinnamon. They look more or less like this.
The there were the little ricotta pies.
Last but not least there were my personal favorites, pizzeles.
My other sister made these and she nailed it. She made them just like my mother. Very light and quite tasty. She made a vanilla batch and an anise batch. I've gained a pound and a half just writing about the stuff. There were other things as well but these were the highlights. One thing about Italians, we love our food, and there's always way too much. My mother would have been proud of my sisters. It was a wonderful meal some of which I still have in my possession. Tucked away in the freezer.

We're in for some snow on Thursday into Friday. As of this writing they are saying anywhere from 6-12 inches. I do not get whipped into a frenzy when snow is predicted. It's wasted energy. You can't stop it and if you live in an area such as New England, it's going to snow in the winter. People crack me up when they act so surprised when they hear it's going to snow.

That's the least of our problems. As much as I love the city of Boston there's one thing that's not endearing. The traffic. A few years ago we endured the "Big Dig". A 15 billion dollar project that took down an expressway, added a very nice bridge and another tunnel under the city. I'm sure there were other things but this project lasted almost twenty years. Did it improve things? I don't know but it does look nicer. 

Well there are three tunnels that run under the harbor and they are closing one for repairs. They say it will be closed from Dec. 27 until March 12. Well that's just great. I don't have to use any tunnels in my daily doings though I do use the Zakim Bridge and the Ted Williams Tunnel when I go to Cape Cod or Martha's Vineyard. My main concern is that people will be rerouted and some of those people will be travelling through my city. It's bad enough that we have three exits in the city from the major north south highway in eastern Ma. People get off the highway in my city if their destination is just north of Boston. The center of town is just one big mess between 7 and 9 in the morning. It's not an easy area to get around. Some of the roads around here, including Boston, were laid down 300 years ago. Designed for horse and buggy travel not for the 21st century.

Well hopefully I'll be back here on a more regular basis. It's getting late and I do have to work tomorrow. I'm outta gas. Oh Beth in case you didn't see a comment I left on one of your blogs. I do have something else to send you. I'll get to the post office in a few days.
That's it. I'm done.
I'm outta here.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Not one of my better postings

This is another one of those blog entries, probably written over a few days. As I begin this it's about 7:35 on Sunday evening. At this point I don't have much to say except that I spent a pleasant day. I watched a couple of movies which is unusual for me. It's difficult enough for me to sit and watch one movie never mind two. It's irrelevant what movies I watched. They were superhero movies, which I have a connection with from my youth. At an early age I began buying and collecting comics and have a fairly large collection scattered over several locations. Some of the books have good value. That ended 40 years ago.

Sunday I found myself in the quiet of a Sunday morning, far removed from the food retail madness of the day before. It was relaxing and later on I had plans to watch the Patriots game next door at Arlene's which we did. She worked until 4 and the game was at 4:30. I offered to show up with our usual antipasto for two and a pizza from our favorite local restaurant Raso's. For some reason I took a picture of the take out antipasto a couple of months ago.

    I happen to love this dish and have eaten it as supper. Aside from the salami (2 slices) there's nothing really bad for you here. There's also a sprinkle of olive oil. So we ate and watched the game. 

This entry is more like a diary than a blog because it is now Thursday evening. This is the first time I've had any down time since Sunday. While watching the national news tonight I was made to feel old when they reported that it was 50 years ago tonight, Dec. 26, that Capitol Records released the first single in the U.S. of The Beatles, "I Want To Hold Your Hand". How innocent a title can you get? The Beatles were a huge influence on anybody of that generation. I was 12 going on thirteen. Smack dab in the middle of their demographics. I still play the records.

For no particular reason, here's a shot out my bedroom window while it was snowing last Saturday night. It was dark out but I guess all the white around reflected the street lights and it appears to be daylight.
 Well I have a lot of catching up to do around here. I hope everyone had a lovely holiday. I hope Rhapsody up in Toronto, got her electricity turned back on.

Well I think I'll go sit on the couch and play a little guitar. Of course it's a regular size guitar that I will play, for a little while.
I have to say this is one of the most disjointed, pointless blogs I have ever written. I need sleep, so I'll try and watch television as well, The only time I readily fall asleep is when I try to watch TV.
Maybe I'll be more lucid tomorrow.

I'm outta here.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Some snow and other stuff.

As I write this I notice that I write the phrase "As I write this" a lot. But it is undeniable that in fact as I write this it's snowing again. It's about 9 p.m. on Monday evening. It was 8 degrees at 6:15 this morning. My heat went off the night before. As I went to bed there was no heat coming through. When I woke up it was about 50 degrees inside my place yet the heat was on. It turns out my landlord turned it on manually at 5 a.m. At this point I'm told, it has been addressed by a professional or so I'm told. For all I know the professional was his brother in law Joey. 

Ok now it's Tuesday evening, One thing I didn't mention in the Monday entry of this blog was the unusual phone call I had from Arlene (conveniently living next door). We were just chatting about our jobs. She does pretty much what I do only in a different location. She's fairly close to Harvard so she sees some "Harvard" types as well as the local townies. We were basically talking about some encounters we have with customers. One common mangling is the name of a cheese company in Wisconsin. The name is Belgiosio (bel-gee-o-see-o). It is actually the name of an Italian town named after  a family in medieval times 800 years ago. Anyway it is not uncommon for someone to ask for the Belgiosio provolone as the, "Bella Lugosi" provolone. So as we are chucking and complaining about various things then Arlene  calmly says, "Hold on a minute Paul." Within about two seconds what do I hear?
This went on for about 30 or more seconds. Her dog, a min-pin, (a mini Doberman pincer) is barking. Though he's a good dog his bark is high pitched and quite cutting. I can hear Arlene's daughter running in asking what's the matter, but all Arlene is saying is, "AHHHHHHHHH! AHHHHHHHHHH!"
Finally I hear Arlene shout, "MY LEGS! I CAN'T WALK!"
My initial thought was muscle cramps. I've had them and they can be quite painful. As her daughter tries to tend to her I can hear what sounds like a little bit of suppressed laughter from her daughter.
"Put the phone down Ma! Put the phone down! You're screaming into the phone!
She never put the phone down. This is what Allison was snickering about. She finally said, "I'll call you back in a while."
She called back about 40 minutes later. A bit subdued but as we talked she was lightening up. Both her legs had cramped up. She was laying on the couch. She had a bit of a snooze before she called me. I explained that I knew she was in obvious pain but at first I wondered if she was having a heart attack. I was with my mother when she had here first heart attack and the symptoms and reactions were not the same, not that I'm any kind of expert because I'm not.
As the conversation loosened up I mentioned how the whole episode sounded from my end of the line. She mentioned to me how her daughter was trying not to laugh because Arlene was still holding the phone to her ear and screaming into it. Soon Arlene was laughing as was I. Leg cramps are not a laughing matter yet if you can't laugh at, as it turned out, a minor affliction,  an situation made absurd then you take life too seriously. We laughed about it again tonight.

Not much else to report except on Sunday I was in my kitchen and I heard my landlady in the back hall. Now my landlords are an Italian couple in my age group. He's a little older and she's a little younger. They've been in this country for about 45 years and have owned this house for about 40 years. Arlene has lived in the house next door for most of her life. The house has been in her family since 1910. The house was built in 1881. It was the first one on this street. Arlene told me about the apartment next coming available in 2007. I gave it a shot and was in like flint because they knew Arlene for so long. And I will say it has been very nice living here. I am very lucky. My landlords are wonderful people. I almost feel like I'm living with family. They both speak fluent broken English. The husband, Joe, is an easy going, hard working guy. His wife who's name is Maria but wants to be called Joanna, I don't know why, can come across as very stern and hard. She is actually quite nice and generous. Why she wants to be called Joanna, instead of Maria I haven't a clue. There's nothing wrong with the name Maria. I have a cousin named Maria. 
I am the occasional recipient of fresh veggies from their garden. There's nothing better. It recalls my upbringing. We always had a garden and there was nothing better than a salad made from fresh picked greens and veggies. The best thing was the spaghetti sauce made from fresh picked tomatoes, basil and whatever else my Mom added. It still was the best I ever tasted.
So Joanna can comes across as serious. There have been times when I was in the cellar doing laundry and Joanna will come out of this room that Joe made for her. To digress a bit, the room is a fully equipped kitchen, with a small living room area with couch and TV and a bathroom. She cooks down there. The rest of the area is just cellar. I wouldn't have minded moving in there if it wasn't for all my stuff.
Joanna will come out of that room while I'm dealing with the laundry and say, "Hi Paul."
It always startles me because it come out of nowhere and she speaks in a staccato, stern, tone. She then asks, "What's the matter Paul? I scare you?"
What I'm thinking is yes Joanna, you do scare me.
But she is actually quite nice.
I can hear them in the back hall when going up to their apartment. The other day I was quite surprised to hear Joanna singing to herself as she came up the cellar stairs, passed my door and up more stairs. Well, she was either singing or in great agony, but it made my smile. I almost feel like I'm living with family. They've known Arlene for forty years, that made them trust me. I am a very lucky guy. 
So I come to the end of this pasted together over 3 days, blog entry. I have today off. It's an extra day as I have so much vacation time to use up. I have a lot but I just don't get to use it. Time to get my act together. I have two errands to run and some things to do around here. I'll be back to check around blogger later.

I'm outta here.      

Sunday, December 15, 2013

What's wrong with people?

Hello. As I begin this it's about 10:28 Saturday evening. I worked until 9. As many parts of the country, we are, as I write this, in the middle of a snow storm. We've know this was coming for several days and yet people act so surprised when snow is predicted around here. It doesn't matter if you grew up here or moved here from another state or country, I would think you would have some general knowledge about the weather in different parts of the world. That's not really the worst part it's how nuts people go with the food shopping. As most of you know I work in a supermarket so I get to see this buying feeding frenzy first hand. Now I'm not against stocking up if a large storm is predicted. This is not a large storm. Around here 6-10 inches are predicted. Now that's not a dusting. It's also not the end of the world. The majority of the snow will fall overnight so I have shoveling in my future.

In my opinion most this panic stems from 1978. That was the year of "The blizzard of '78". Now that was a storm! Hurricane force winds, damage up and down the coast with hundreds of homes destroyed due to the ocean surge. 54's of snow. Over four feet. Thousands of people stranded all over. There was a hockey game at the Boston Garden and thousands of people were stranded there for four days. 4 people died. Grocery stores were cleaned out for days. Nothing could move with 4 feet of snow on the roads. I was working until midnight that night. I remember a rather tough drive home and was surprised when I got up that it was still snowing heavily and the wind was howling. The weather people blew it completely.

I have no plans to go anywhere on Sunday. I need to recuperate from straight 8 and a half hours of buying frenzy. I never got to eat. I had several orders for two pounds or more of baloney. Who can eat that much baloney? And if you're throwing a party and all you are serving is baloney...what? You want some American cheese? Of course. To complement the baloney. Excellent choice. What kind of wine will you be serving with this? Other people were just shopping as they regularly would on Saturday. Even they were surprised at this feeding frenzy.

So what if we get 10 inches of snow. That happens during the winter in the northeast. Is it an annoyance? Sure. But if I really had to go somewhere on Sunday I could. But that's not going to happen. There's shoveling, then a football game and then, whatever I want to do. One day without human contact is not a bad thing sometimes.

Thank you so much Beth for the Christmas card. Stay tuned, I have something to send  you in a week or so.

Time for bed.
I'm outta here.   

Monday, December 9, 2013

Thank you Beth and everyone who stopped by.

Despite having some computer problems I had a very nice birthday and Beth surprised me with a birthday card. Sending folks from your blog over here was a very sweet thing to do Beth and I thank you. You are the person I've know the longest in the blogging world and I thank you for your visits and support. 

It's been a busy week at work. There's been some upheaval. My manager has been transferred and actually I'm very happy about it. It's not a story that I would tell here. It's not very interesting. I have no profound words of wisdom on the upcoming holidays. I am pretty tired of the Christmas songs I get to hear all day long at work. I never really realized how many versions of Jingle Bells there are. I try to not listen and turn them into white noise. I don't mind tuning into one that I like, if it catches my ear. However one struck me as bizarre and a bit creepy. Santa Claus is Coming to Town is a bit creepy. You better watch out? You better not pout? Yeah, you better not piss off Santa. He's coming to town ya know. He sounds like a mafia don with little elf loan sharks and hit men.... hit elves? 
He sees you when your sleeping. With all the kids in the world it sounds like he spends most of the year hiding in the bushes and peeking into windows.

He knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good. So be good for goodness sake!
He knows your every move. He's coming to town and Santa has a notoriously short fuse.
He's making a list, and just to be sure, he's checking it twice. He's gonna know if you've been naughty SO YOU BETTER BE NICE! You don't want the long, black Cadillac limo pulling up to your door and have some thug elves take you for a ride.
"Da boss wants ta see ya. He hears you've been a very naughty boy." 

All in all the song is a collection of warnings over a jaunty arrangement. Fortunately the real Santa is much nicer than the one that's "coming to town".

So I'm at work and I'm putting some supplies away under a counter. I am very close to the hot food counter and hear a customer ordering some lunch. He gets a small bag of chicken wings, pauses and then he asks for some vegetable rice.
"How much would you like?" asks the counter person.
The answer, "Three" followed by  a long pause. Hello!
Three as in two grains of rice and a tiny cube of carrot? Or would you prefer to go full bore and go for three grains of rice.
Hello! Earth to customer!? I then got called away so I never found out the answer to the question. Soon to be a major motion picture!

We had a coating of snow and have another coating coming in a day or two. That doesn't stop the television stations from teasing viewers with little weather updates, "There's snow in our future. I'll let you know how much at 11."
Oh please. It's not hard to whip the public into a frenzy over a snowstorm  . If you live in an area that has snowy winters I'm sure they do the same thing as well. And why do some people act so surprised when it snows in the winter? If it snowed in August, then be surprised.  

I think it's time to draw this sorta lame attempt at a blog to a close. Beth and everybody else, I thank you once again. Beth I will be in touch. I have something for you.

Oh I have to work tomorrow! Time for bed.
I'm outta here.