Thursday, January 30, 2014

The family looses a kitty.

I received a phone call from my sister. She was quite saddened. The day before she had to take her cat, Onyx, to the vet for one last time. Onyx was 15, which is about the average long lifespan for a cat. There have always been cats in our family, either from when I was growing up or owned by my two sisters or my parents. We had one right from when I was born right until the present day. I really can't remember the first one as she disappeared in 1956. I personally don't own one but my landlords cat has taken a shine to me over the last 7 years. In fact she will come to me before she'll go to her owners. That's only because I pay attention to her, but getting back to Onyx. She had been failing and finally my sister made the very tough decision. Poor Onyx had been suffering the last few days. There were no prospects for her recovering. I happen to be off a couple of days ago when my sister called and told me what happened the day before. This is never an easy situation to deal with. There have been 5 cats in our family over the last 45 years. Two lived till 20, one 19, one 15, (Onyx) and poor sweet little Bella who only made it to 10. Though they all affected me when they passed, the most emotional one for me was the kitten we got in 1960. We, my sister and I, named her Peppy because she was energetic, very playful, smart and quite affectionate. She was very docile and would let my sister put a bonnet on her and be pushed around in a toy baby carriage. She would sleep we either one of us, and with my baby sister after she came along in 1965. She also defended us. If any one of us were being yelled at for something she would come into the room and meow loudly at my mother or father as if to say, "You leave my kids alone!" She was a gem! She survived being hit by a car at the age of 7. She was tough as well. I'll always remember her being chased into the back yard by a dog. The dog cornered her by the house. Two lightning fast paw shots to the dog's snout and he/she ran away yelping. Her health began to falter later in her life and at the age of 20 she was at the vets and nothing more could be done for her. The whole family went to see her one last time. She was in a cage, curled up with her back to us. My mother called her name and she struggled to get up and turn around to face us giving a faint meow. It was heartbreaking.

Not long after my family acquired Albie. Her was just maturing from kitten to cat. He was a big boy at 19 pounds. He was also smart and affectionate and loved to play. Albie and I had established a routine. Any time I went to my parents house whether for a Sunday meal or for any reason. He would immediately go to the mat in front of the sink so I could roughhouse with him. I would have to wear a leather gloves or else he would have made hamburger out of my hands. As soon as I came though the door he would go to the kitchen mat and wait for me. There was nothing vicious about it but he was a male and just more aggressive. Peppy would play the same way except she would be gentle. She would gently bite your hand but never break the skin. You would rub her belly and she would grab your hand with her paws and pull it to her mouth but her claws never came out. Albie would also fetch. I'll never forget the time when he came up the cellar steps with this rather large black super ball (remember them?) in his mouth. He dropped it, my sister throw it down the stairs and he tore after it and brought it back again. All his own idea. In later years as my moms health was failing he would sleep with her and if she had to get up in the middle of the night for a bathroom run he would accompany her to the bathroom and patiently wait and walk back to the bedroom with her. He also enjoyed occasionally walking across the piano keyboard in the middle of the night if the cover was left open. He was big, smart, playful, quite a character and very affectionate. He also made it to 20. Two cats 40 years. Then came little Bella. She was a bit skittish, but a wonderful little cat. She was also adorably cute with a faint little meow and also quite affectionate. Bella developed health problems and only made it to 10 years. We were all saddened when she passed because though she belonged to my mother and younger sister but we all loved her. Another little friend was gone. Meanwhile my middle sister got Onyx. She wasn't as outgoing as the others but it was apparent that she had a special bond with my sister. As I said earlier she lived for 15 years. Se had a good life but her last year was shaky. I will miss seeing and patting Onyx but my middle sister lost a loyal friend and it has affected her. It's only been 4 days. She's handling it well but I know it hurts. My gut tells me that there will eventually be another to replace Onyx but it's to soon to tell when. My younger sister got Sammi shortly after Bella left us a few ears ago. Sammi is a cutie  and very outgoing. She's relatively young and hopefully has a long life ahead of her. I left out Mickey. I have mentioned him before. He preceded Onyx and lived 17 years. He was a pound heavier than Albie with big double paws. He could pick things up to look at them. He would also fetch his favorite little red ball. He had even more reckless abandon. When you threw the ball down the stairway which turned to the left at my sisters house, he would tear down the stairs, smash into the wall and down the rest of the stairs and return the ball to do it all over again. Still he was quite sweet and friendly and sensed if my sister was upset and would stay by her side whether on the couch, bedroom, or kitchen. Another wonderful pet.

So we said goodbye to Onyx this week, but what else have I been doing? Well my zany work schedule continues. Late nights and early mornings. It reeks havoc on your sleep schedule. I have tried try write a blog twice but I have to admit the well had run dry. I couldn't think of a thing to write about and after my last entry only got two comments I wondered if I should just shut it down. I just wasn't writing anything of interest to anybody. The one time I sat down and tried to catch up on what was going on in the blogging world I fell asleep in my chair after a 9p.m. shift. Still it would be hard to close up shop because I would miss the people, some that I have now known for six or seven years. So I am not closing down.

I guess many of us in the U.S. have been going through some rough weather. It has been quite cold here and colder in some areas. It just makes me think of going back, once again to Martha's Vineyard. The  date is tentatively set for the week of June 1st. It's not that it will be toasty warm then, though that could easily happen, but the crowds won't be there and the weather will certainly be nicer than it is now. And though by now we have seen pretty much the whole island, it doesn't diminish the calming effect it has on Arlene and I. The slower pace of life compared to the city. The do something or nothing atmosphere that's just two hours from my front door. We are truly fortunate to have this resource so close by. They know us at the hotel after 7 trips in four years. It's a quaint and unassuming place with the ocean a minute or less from the hotel and the center of town a five minute walk away. This will have to keep me going for the next four months.   

Alrighty then, though I am off today I can't afford to get lazy and sit in front of the computer screen at this point. I have some errands to run and laundry to do and blah blah blah. I really don't want to go out but it is sunny though only about 17 degrees. Get this stuff done and enjoy what little time I have left on my day off. Sometimes you just get caught up in a series of circumstances and life passes you by. It reminds me of a line from a John Lennon song, "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans."
And now off to the shower.

I'm outta here.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Dear diary...we lose...Auto Show...other words where I said something.

First let me apologize for not being around much. Let's just say that I have been quite busy. Sometimes my day doesn't end until 9 p.m. Today I (Saturday, because that's when I started this.) arrived home at a reasonable time about 5 p.m. but it was a hard day. I'll just say we were short staffed and leave it at that. We also had a bit of snow, now I don't know if that contributed much to the extra business, but I'm sure the fact that the Patriots are playing in the AFC Championship game had something to do with it. It's either bad management or just the cold reality of saving payroll. Wrong day to do it.  Well I'm not going to spend the whole blog grousing about work. There were a few amusing moments the last two days. I was working the counter for a bit and a guy walked up and asked for a competitors turkey. I told him we don't carry that in this company.
He said, "Isn't this S**p & S**p ?"
"No. S***'s"
"I don't even know where I am!"
A guy standing behind him was obviously laughing. His shoulders shaking up and down. I know I was smirking.

Then an older woman, dressed nicely, and smiling pleasantly came to the counter and said, "Prosciutto."
"Sure. Imported or domestic?"
"Prosciutto." She repeats.
"From Italy or America?" I ask. I then make the decision or her.
"I'll give you the domestic. It's a more reasonable price."
Still smiling she nods yes. 
"How much would you like?"
More pleasant smiling she says, "No English."
Another guy waiting behind her is laughing.
Fortunately Ricardo was working and I made use of his multi language skills and at least he was able to give me an idea how much she wanted. She could only order in grams not ounces but I've learned to convert so that wasn't a problem. By the way there are just a hair more than 28 grams per ounce so a half pound of something is about 224 grams.
Then there was the guy who should have asked for the angus roast beef, but instead asked for "a half pound, Agnes roast beef."
"Half of Agnes." I repeated as I turned towards the slicer. My co-worker slicing next to me was smirking.
Thin and Trim Turkey Breast has been mangled a few times. Thin and Thrim, Thick and Thin and the most recent as of today, Think and Trim.
At this point we conclude the Saturday portion of our program. It's late and I'm a tired Boston Boy. I shall continue more than likely on Sunday evening after the game. Go Pats!

Ok It's now Sunday night and I have just returned from Arlene's and I sadly I have to report that the Patriots lost and won't be going to the Super Bowl. Oh well. We've certainly had our share of  championships around here and though the Patriots haven't won the Super Bowl since 2004, they have been to the Super Bowl 5 times in the last 12 years and won 3. Then there are the other championships by our home teams in the various sports. 8 total in the last 13+ years. Sports wise, we are one lucky area. 
I had no idea what I would write tonight after the game. Win or lose I know I would have mentioned it. It only happened a short time ago as of this writing. It's only sports. It's only a distraction, another form of entertainment. I am not a sports yahoo. I don't live or die on the outcome of a game. Apart from all that it was a pleasant evening at Arlene's.
Talk about a "generation gap". A phrase popular when I was young. After the game Arlene's daughter went into her bedroom. The doorway was about 6' from where Arlene and I were standing. She closed the door and about 30 seconds later, while we where standing in the same spots, Arlene gets a text on her phone. Guess who? Her daughter, 6' away from her, texting to remind her of something. All she had to do was talk from her bedroom, door open or closed and she could have been easily heard. I found it amusing. I love the abilities that a computer gives me. It's a wonderful tool  for many things but I am hardly a high tech guy. I could care less how it works. As long as it does, I'm a happy guy. I don't text. I'm not saying it doesn't or won't come in handy It doesn't happen to be a need in my life. But Allison (Arlene's daughter) has grown up in a different era. And who am I to argue with someone that attends Harvard. She has already graduated from Tufts University. This is one bright young woman.

Monday evening January 20, 2014. Dear Diary. Yup this used to be a blog, now it's a diary. Anyway let's put this puppy to bed. Earlier today I went to the Auto Show. It's not far from here but if I wasn't for my friend Dave, a former cabbie, I don't know if I could have found my way there. The convention center is located in what was the original Boston. The streets go every which way. It's a mix of buildings from about 3 centuries. Two blocks of buildings from the 20's then a 40 floor glass plated building. Then for no apparent reason the road bends to the right then left. I feel bad for any visitors from out of state. It can be a confusing place to get around. We also had a dump truck drive into the channel. That clogged up our journey. But we got there and in reality it took about 25 minutes. Not that bad. The Auto Show was OK. Many of the cars on display were not much different than what you would see on the street. You had some exotics, and the ultra luxury models. Some cars were beautiful and others just had anonymous styling. They could have been anything. There were a lot of people there and sometimes you had to rush to get a shot of a car. A lot of the photos were blurry. Some weren't that blurry. Some came out OK. I picked out the best ones and made a short slideshow.


That's enough. Time to end this monstrosity.
I'm outta here.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Aquarium part two

I don't have much to say, although sometimes that remains to be seen. I have recovered from the monthly inventory at work. One day a month my work/sleep schedule goes topsy turvy. Inventory starts at 12 midnight until 8 in the morning. I hardly sleep on the evening before, in fact I do more pretend sleeping. I lay there trying to sleep at 5 in the afternoon. I think I went out for about an hour and a half. When I get home in the morning the last thing I want to do is go to sleep. That just leaves me awake at night. Still after saying all that. I have to say I felt ok and even perked up a bit late morning, early afternoon. I was awake for about 24 hours. However  I make no claims to being coherent.

People are getting all revved up around here over the Denver/Patriots game Sunday. What an amazing run the Patriots have been on. Here they are again one step from the Super Bowl. I'm sure the rest of the country hates them and that's understandable. That's only because they've been successful. We hate the Yankees for the same reason, all of their success, not lately though. Arlene and I are making plans to watch the game and work in a meal, either before, during or after the game on Sunday. Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning. It doesn't get better than that.

Ok I've prattled on long enough here's part two of the slideshow from the Aquarium.
I'm outta here.     

Monday, January 13, 2014

New England Aquarium. Whacky weather and whatever else I can think of.

Sunday was fairly warm by January standards. As with a good chunk of the country, our weather has been a seesaw ride. From below zero blizzard conditions with 50 mph winds, to temperatures in the 60's two days later. Sunday wasn't bad with the temps in the low 40's though it was windy and mostly cloudy. Arlene and I hadn't seen much of each other over the last several weeks, much less do or go anywhere. Work and the holidays took up much time and energy. Well, long story, not much longer, we both had Sunday off and the weather was going to be tolerable. What can we do, where can we go that won't be far, cost all that much, all with a minimum of exerted effort. The aquarium! The train station is about a mile and a half from here with a big free parking lot. It's Sunday so there won't be many commuters. Take the train into town and get off right at the aquarium. Sounded like a plan and it was. It was ten suggested to me that we get off at a particular stop and walk the rest of the way, instead of switching trains and getting off  right in the aquarium building. It would have been a nice walk on a nicer day. It only took 10 minutes and though we were not downtown with the much larger buildings, the wind gusted through the surrounding buildings. We walked by the hideous Boston City Hall. I think the building was opened in 1969 or 70. It replaced the old one, which still stands, now an office building. It was of classic architecture. They replaced this lovely old building with this very ugly hunk of concrete. We were also in the vicinity of the Custom House which used to be right up against the harbor before all the landfill, so people arriving in the U.S. could be processed. It was Boston's first "skyscraper".  Built in 1915 with 32 floors. It's now a hotel/timeshare building.

The aquarium was pretty crowded as other people had the same idea that we had. Lots of families with little kids. There is a 4 story circular tank in the middle of the building and tanks built into the surrounding walls, penguins, sea lions, various seals. The center tank is the main attraction with a multitude of colorful fish, turtles, and so on. The tank itself is a colorful coral reef. People were glued to the viewing windows. You work your way up the floors taking in the center tank at different levels and all the other surrounding tanks.

So we did the aquarium and gave some thought to walking to the nearby Faneuil Hall (tourist trap but still a neat place) and The North End for a fabulous Italian meal. We decided that we could get a very good meal locally. The less walking around in the wind we did the better so we headed to the nearest station for the ride back. 

Of course I took pictures. I hate to tell you how much time I spent Sunday evening and Monday going through the pictures, making the video and writing this. Still I had the days off and though it took quite a while it was all very relaxing. There are enough picture for two videos. I'll post the first one on this blog and the second, which I haven't made yet, on the my next posting. 

Time for supper.
I'm outta here.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Snow? What snow? Oh that snow.

The snow was not the worst part of the storm. It's New England. It snows here. It was the near 0 temps on Thursday and Friday coupled with the wind. I don't know how strong the wind gusted to but it was surely below 0 wind chill wise. The snow was not the worst part when I went to my car at 5:30 a.m. Thursday morning. We received roughly a foot of snow. The wind was howling. I started my car and thank goodness the old girl kicked right over. I let it warm for about 10 minutes while I went inside and contemplated my sanity for going out in these arctic conditions. My first mistake, apart from getting out of a nice warm bed, was forgetting about the last step on my front stairs because it was completely covered up causing me to nearly fall down and aggravating my less than perfect left leg. The one that I injured on Martha's Vineyard a couple of years ago. Cleaning the snow off my car was fairly easy because it was a powdery snow due to the cold temperature but that wind was brutal.

I made it to work OK as there weren't many cars on the road and wouldn't you know it my first customer at about 7:05 ordered baloney and cheese. There was hardly any bacon left on the shelves. Bacon? Since when is that an essential food? Thursday was a horror show. But that's all history now. We had what is called around here, a nor'easter. That's when warm, moist air from the south travels up the coast and meets rotating cold air, from the north, mixes with warm air and blows back over the land from a northeast direction. Yeah we got a good amount of snow but the amount was not that unusual. Nothing like the 4 feet in 1978. 25 or so miles north of here they received 2 feet of snow. And yet, there's an old saying around here, "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute."

It's supposed be 40degrees today and hit 50 on Monday. Of course there was non stop babble about this a day or two earlier. I unlike some people don't blame weather forecasters for whipping people into a frenzy. People whip themselves into a frenzy. The governor was on television talking about all the measures that were being taken by the state and what people should do.

So now we come to Saturday. Saturdays are normally busy. That's not unusual however this Saturday was just as bad as the day before the storm. Why? It was a struggle. I ended up working 9 hours straight and though I admit to taking a couple of 15 breaks I never got a chance to eat anything until about 7:30 in the evening. I don't know where I got the energy but I was pleased with the fact that I was holding up better than people half my age. Still it's over. Today is downright balmy. I'm just kicking around today and I don't plan to do much of anything. I am also off tomorrow though I do have to do some of the more mundane tasks related to housework including laundry which has backed up quite a bit. Later on a buddy and I will go out for a burger. It's been about a month since I've had one and burgers and fries sounds pretty good. There's no Patriot's game today so I may or may not watch some football but you can bet I will be watching next week. I cannot tell you what a privilege it has been to watch this team since 2001. We are so lucky to have had Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and it will be a sad day when they are no longer around here.
I wish, at least to some extent, that I had gone to the ocean during the storm to take some pictures of the angry ocean. Of course I could have been certified legally insane to try and drive during the storm and besides there was that little thing called work that also got in the way. There were people surfing during the storm! There is this group called The L Street Brownies and every New Years day they take a plunge into Boston Harbor. The video is from 2011 and I don't think it was as cold as this year but the video's from this year were just too long. And really what's the difference. It's about a bunch of loony's, said with affection and admiration, taking a plunge into the frigid harbor. At the beginning of the video it states the "World Famous L Street Brownies". I don't know what makes them world famous because these type of things happen in a lot of places and I don't know why they call themselves the "Brownies" because they are not a bunch of young girls, nor are they cake like in appearance, yet it happens every year no matter the weather.
Alright now to get down to some serious hanging around and oh yeah maybe some laundry though there's always tomorrow.
I'm outta here.