Thursday, February 27, 2014

Just words

Oh this computer! I can no longer view YouTube videos. I may be able to post a video on my blog that you can see but I'm not sure about that. Yeah I'm whining but in reality I have it pretty good. Every time I start to think, "poor me" then I think about the guy I see on trash day pushing a shopping cart looking for soda cans and bottles. More than likely he has all his earthly belongings with him.

So my computer is not functioning properly. So what? Two or three days of getting up at 4a.m. is not a pleasant thing especially when it's very cold and yet I know I have a warm home to return to later. So in reality I'm doin' jess fine. But this computer is really annoying me. Still I have to repeat that at 4:50 this morning when I went out to start my car... I mean if I had a choice of staying in a warm comfy bed or going out in the dark at 5 a.m. and it's 10 degrees... well...

I also have to apologize to a couple of you out there, I haven't checked my mail box in about a month. I checked to see if my credit card bill had arrived and I saw an email from Carole and Nookworm. I'll get back to you. Also opening an email can be a problem. According to my Norton anti virus my computer is clean but something is wrong.

I guess I was whining again. Speaking of which, I still have a bottle of wine Arlene gave me on my birthday. Perhaps tonight would be a good night to crack it open. I'd invite her over tonight except she has an early shift tomorrow whereas I after three 6 a.m. starts have to work until 8 p.m. tomorrow. I don't to leave for work until 10:30 a.m. Of course that means I get home at 9 p.m. 

This is what happens when I just sit and just write stream of consciousness. I  had no subject matter except whatever popped into my head as I started to write. And this just popped into my head, thanks to everyone for the kind words on my photos. I wasn't fishing for compliments because you folks have always been very kind to me. I think I'm getting better at it. From the camera end of it, my camera is mostly beyond me. I'm not a technical person. I just want, whatever it is, computer, camera, car, to just work. I'm only mildly interested in how it works. Where I think I've improved as a photographer is framing a picture. The composition. That's the creative aspect. That's where my abilities, such as they are, are. I've only used a handful of settings on my camera. Sill I do enjoy taking pictures and looking at them later on. Selecting the best, then trying to enhance or improve them with my photo program. It's a fun hobby.

Still getting back to our work schedule, Arlene and I don't get to take as many little local side trips as we used to. There are still plenty of places for day or weekend trips here in Massachusetts and the rest of New England. The last two years those activities have been curtailed save for our twice a year visits to Martha's Vineyard. We are heading back on June 1st. We can't wait! Then we head back in mid September, which is the best time for us. Both times are perfect. The weather is nice and 40 to 50,000 people haven't arrived yet or have all gone home. 
Arriving there by ferry.

Sunset on Oak Bluffs Harbor

The marathon happens in April and they are already talking about the heightened awareness and new regulations. More closed streets. I am reminded of it every day. I know I wrote this last year but every day I drive past Krystle Campbel family home. She didn't live there at the time of the marathon but she grew up there. She was the same age as Arlene's twin daughters. They went to school together. They played together at each others homes. As I mentioned last blog Arlene lives next door to me. She grew up in that house and has lived there a good portion of her life. After the bombings last year Arlene and her daughters were greatly affected. I in turn was and still am affected by this. Every day I drive past the Campbel home.
Well I better end it here. I have a phone call to make. Guess who? Then I believe I'm going to have that glass of wine.
I'm outta here.



Monday, February 24, 2014

Some stuff and the zoo.

Sunday morning was  quiet. I won't work on a Sunday. Not because of any religious reasons directly, but I do like to think about it as a day of rest. An old fashion notion these days I suppose, at least for people in retail. Fortunately there is a state law that doesn't require a person to work on Sunday and if you do you must be paid at an overtime rate. I have worked on Sundays and probably still would if my company would stop tacking on 4 hours from my vacation account to bring me up to 40 hours.

However, the above has nothing to do with anything I will write because apart from the zoo, I sometimes have no idea what I'm going write as I begin. So as I said Sunday morning was quiet, Arlene and I had made plans to see each other in the afternoon. We both do the same thing for the same company in different locations. On any given day you can start work at 6 a.m. or have your shift end at 10 p.m. so Sunday is a good day to get together, despite the fact we live next door to each other. It wasn't bright and sunny like Saturday was but it was fairly warm as the day before. I had a case of cabin fever as the only places I've been for the last two weeks, my house, my car and work. I suggested the local zoo. I knew some of the animals weren't available because of the winter. Still it was seasonably warm, the zoo was open and it was the next city north with a short highway drive. It was overcast and any of the outdoor animals were fenced in (duh!) and behind some not so clean
plexi-glass. Of course I took pictures. I do it because it's fun. I make no great claims as a photographer. I take pictures. I say this because some of these pictures have been doctored up, more so than usual.   

Though unseasonably warm it was still a gloomy day yet there was a pretty good crowd. Mostly young families with kids, grandparents and just a mix. I remember coming here when I was a kid. The two big stars were a polar bear and an African elephant. It's not a top zoo in regards to any national recognition, but still it's a pretty neat place to have so close by. The gorilla was spending the winter on the other side of Boston. I don't know about the giraffe. He could have passed on as it's been over 20 years since I was last here. The most entertaining animal was the sea otter. They can really maneuver in the water.


After the zoo we grabbed a meal at a local restaurant, then back to Arlene's. We're both at the same stage in life and we once again talked about retirement. I do admit that it does feel strange to talk about it, but the time is approaching and I think I'm ready for a change.

Not much new to report over the last couple of days. I have a couple of things to do but nothing too strenuous. So that's it for now.

I'm outta here.

Oops! I forgot the eagle and the one decent shot of the black bear.


Friday, February 21, 2014


Crossroads is a song written by legendary bluesman Robert Johnson. I was made aware of the song by the '60s band Cream. The group that made Eric Clapton a superstar. That has nothing to do with what I will write about except that Clapton was a big influence on me personally guitar-wise. I have recently been transferred to a location that has a very affluent clientele. I don't have a problem with that. I been there before. I have dealt with clientele at both ends of the economic scale. Not to mention the middle. If you drew a line from my house to where I work now it's about 12 miles. Around here there are few straight lines. There are many ways to get there. None of them easy. Time-wise they are all about the same. Mileage-wise there's a difference. In complete confession I admit taking the longest route, only because it's simple in execution. I have no appetite for driving through town every day a various times. This has fueled my thinking of retirement. I don't like working here. It's not the customer. I do find it amusing that  some people get all dressed up with minks and jewelry to food shop, but I really haven't had a problem with them.

Many things have changed in the last few weeks and I feel I may be "standin' at the crossroads". The company has been in full panic mode for many reasons and I don't think I want to deal with it anymore. There's more to life than corporate lunacy.

I could mention the weather. I was off today and I didn't go anywhere. We had a rainstorm this afternoon. Complete with thunder and lightning. Normally I don't get bent out of shape over the weather. I accept the fact that where I live, we are prone to getting snow in the winter but I do have cabin fever. I want to go someplace, preferably outdoors. Maybe Sunday, if the weather cooperates, because it's back to the deep freeze next week.

Last Sunday I went to the lakes to see if there were any photo opportunities. Nothing special. The snow had fallen the day before.
     The was lots of snow about and very limited access to the shore or any of the grounds.

Then there is the Amelia Earhart Dam at the other end of the upper lake. That's it, left of center, left of the tree with the white snow stripe, in the distance.

Then there were the porch photo's. Beth said they looked Christmassy. Well I had one for a header photo around Christmas.

We had snow 5 out of the 7 days last week and this week. 

Here's Arlene's house. She lives on the third floor.

There's where I live. Where you see that light on the first floor is where I sit typing this.

And finally a shot up the street.

Not an exciting blog I grant you but a blog non the less. It's getting late and I have a load of laundry to gather and put away, then it's night night.

I'm outta here. Ooh the waters cold!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Yeah, we got more snow.

This is not news to a lot of people but we and many others have received more snow. Two batches this past week. Wednesday into Thursday for which I had the pleasure of driving home through. An hour and a half of crawling down the highway. The first two pictures were taken  Wednesday night on the front porch. This house is set up strangely. My front door is on the side of the house and the door on the front porch is just a doorway onto the front porch. This was a bedroom at one time, it's now my "office" or computer room. Not to mention it's the room where things that do not have a place yet are put.  

The next three pictures were taken last night. Obviously the location is the same. The last picture is a bit blurry as it is two picture stitched together. I took the shots quickly as the wind was howling and the snow was still falling. As it turns out we here in the Boston area only got four inches whereas down on Cape Cod the city of Sandwich received fourteen inches. I now make sure that I have a good supply windshield washing liquid with all the highway driving I am now doing. The drive wouldn't be so bad if I was traveling in the opposite direction of the majority of the people. At one time I was working in Gloucester which is about 48 miles from here but it was an easy drive heading north while most people are heading south towards the Boston area. I was there in less than an hour. I've worked in Boston, a scant five or six miles away and it's taken me an hour both in and back from work. Such is life around here.   

So what's happening today? Well first I have to get off my butt and clean my car and maybe even go out and take some pictures. Of course that depends on whether there are places to park at some of my favorite local haunts. Later on Arlene, her daughters and I will be celebrating a late Valentines Day with delivered meals from our favorite local restaurant Raso's. Perhaps a bottle of wine.

How I wish I was here.

OK writing this has put off me getting my act together. That was an awkward sentence. Time to clean up and head out.

I'm outta here.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

TitIe! have no stinkin' title.

Hello! I'm popping in to say hi. I guess that was redundant. Anyway, I suppose I could tell you a tale of woe but I'll give it the Readers Digest version. Long drives at the worst times of day. Snow. More on Thurs. A friend calls and wants to come by after he picks up a prescription. It's true we haven't seen each other in almost a year. I say, "OK, but you can't stay long. I have get up in about 7 hours." He stayed a bit longer than I would have liked, but that wasn't what really annoyed me. An mythical 15 minute arrival time turns into 45 minutes and even that didn't bother me. What really annoyed the sh*t out of me were the 4 phone calls, not including the initial one. The first one to tell me that he was leaving for the pharmacy. He should be there in about 15 minutes. Call #2, he just got to the pharmacy. Call #3, he's leaving the pharmacy. Should be right there. 10 minutes tops. Call #4. I hear his truck pull in my driveway. He calls to tell me that he's in my driveway. The time he took to call me he could of walked the 20 or so feet to ring my doorbell.

Then Sunday evening, my friend Dave and I are going to see some friends in Lowell. It's about 20-25 mile drive but it's all highway. The highway is very close by and as I merge into traffic, my car starts to hesitate, stutter and buck. Not to be confused with law firm of the same name. We instantly turn back. A little icon of a yellow wrench appears on my dash. I look it up in the manual. It could mean a transmission problem. Transmission! All wheel drive! Mucho $$$$!  I have to work at 11:30 a.m. on Monday. I have to get the car to the dealership, it's still under warranty or else I would go to my regular mechanic, excuse me, technician. I have to get a rental and drive to work 30 miles in a strange car. 

Tuesday. I get home from work at about 6:30. There are four messages on my phone. One from the dealership. One from my sister telling me her husband was in the hospital. Next up was a message beginning in mid sentence. It sounded like an elderly lady saying something like, "...then they got a brown one and a black one..." I think she was talking about mice. It was a bit amusing.  Next one was from Dave telling me a mutual friend's father had died. The last one from Arlene.

Fast forward to today. I had received a couple of calls from the dealership since Monday telling me they couldn't find anything wrong. Truth be told when I took the car in it ran fine but I still wanted it checked out. I got out early because I started early. Fortunately, I rented the car at the same place. They found nothing wrong. It could have been water in the gas, or a sensor glitch and so on. But what about the little yellow wrench on my dashboard? What is it telling me?
"Oh it could mean anything. It's just telling you there's something wrong."
Well I already knew that! What's the point of having these idiot lights? Still they were nice to me. I already knew that if they found nothing I would still be charged $169.00. The fee would be waved if they found a problem and fixed it. It would cost me nothing. They also waived the rental fee. That saved me $120.00. It drove fine. Who knows what happened.

I heard this on radio this morning. There's a proposal to bring the Summer Olympics to Boston. Are you kidding me! This city has strangling traffic to begin with. It sounds nice on paper but where are you going to put all these people? True there are facilities available for the events but it's very crowded here. I'd be OK with it if they gave me two weeks vacation with pay so I could stay home and watch it on TV.

So we have snow coming by morning but I don't have to work. I'm staying put and chillin', at least between laundry loads.

I'm outta here.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Be careful what you wish for.

Feb. 6.
This blog has taken me forever to write. It's actually more like a diary entry. It's been a very stressful week driving to a new location. Driving 30 miles at 5 a.m. through a blizzard. My computer has been incredibly slow. Writing on it was a chore. The bulk of this, and I do stress the word "bulk" as it long, for which I apologize, was written during the course of this week on a little Asus laptop.  It really should be 3 or 4 entries. It seems that I have overcome my computer problems. I hope.  Let the bulk begin.

So I ran into my former boss and friend one morning at work a few weeks ago. I was working the overnight shift doing inventory. I hear a familiar voice and turn around to see my former boss Scott. He had finished his inventory and had to attend a meeting at my store because we have a conference room. I have worked with Scott in various locations more than half my 43 years with the company. The last time was between the years 2000 and 2011. We both whined about our jobs in our particular stores. I am in a city store just a stones throw from Boston. He is in the western suburbs in the wealthy "village" of Chestnut Hill.  A wealthy suburb with a difficult and demanding clientele. We talked about the old days and Scott complained about his "brain dead" crew and how he would like me to come back and work for him. Now the location ne is not all that far away from where I live, about 12 miles. It's one of the few locations in the Boston area that I have not worked in. I agreed that it would be great to work with him again. Well guess what? I dropped a few well placed hints with a few people in high places and this passed Friday I was called to the office and informed I had been transferred to Chestnut Hill, officially classified as a village with parts of it in Boston, Brookline and Newton (home of the Fig Newton) .

Now I had no clue as to how to get there. After Map Questing the location I found the most direct route was through Boston. Now as I have said many times how I love the city of Boston and all it has to offer but getting around the city if you don't know all the streets can be a nightmare. Streets based on 300 to almost 400 year old cow paths combined with all the continuous construction can make it a nightmare. So to make a long story longer, I plugged all the pertinent information into my GPS and off we went. At first it seemed pretty simple. Drive passed the store we worked in in the 80's, very close to Fenway Park, continue straight until we pass several hospitals, bear right onto Rt. 9. Follow it until you reach the store. Seemed simple enough. Only about 12 miles. Well it wasn't. Since I worked there the "Big Dig" has happened. They took down an elevated roadway, a tunnel was built under the city, and a bridge was erected along with numerous ramps and exits that I have never used. Well we (Arlene and I) took the grand tour. We drove around and around, going through parts of town I have never been to.
Well we eventually got there. This is, supposedly, the store of the future. You grab a shopping cart and push toward an escalator specially built to take the cart up to the second floor and you get on another escalator and meet your cart at the top. The same is true when you leave. You put your cart on it's escalator, you get on the people escalator next to it and you meet at the bottom. Why is the market on the second floor? Because part of the parking lot is under the store. Why? I'm not sure. By the way on our confusing way home we passed what turned out to be the scene of a murder. This little side street in Cambridge was blocked with police cars and yellow crime scene tape. The story was on the late news.  
Alright that was Sunday. I'm now writing this on Monday evening at about 11 p.m. I have worked my first day there. I found that there were several ways to get there. The most direct route, through Boston, was not an option. Too nerve racking. There were several other options involved driving roads that I have never been on. I ended up taking a route that takes me in the opposite direction at first then loops around the city and connects to the road that the store is on. All the roads are highways and tack an extra 20 miles to my trip and yet the time is nearly the same and it's all highway driving. Of course the time you travel is crucial. As always my schedule is all over the map. Monday was 8:30a.m. to 5:00p.m., Tuesday 11:30 to 8:00p.m., Wednesday 6:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and so on. Tonight's drive was not great because it was snowing but I'd rather take 3 major highways and end up a half mile from my house than wind my way through the city. I've worked in town before and have spent 45 minutes to an hour driving 6 miles at rush hour.

Tuesday evening 9:30. I got home about a half hour ago, ate the rest of the pasta primavera I made last night and am now in bed writing this. Today we had the usual snow panic buying everything in sight.

Wednesday. Up at 4 a.m. Another snowstorm, predicted to start around dawn around here. Halfway through my drive the snow started. The day was slow businesswise as everybody was home drinking their milk, eating sandwiches, and whatever else they bought in mass panic over snowmagedon. The drive home was ponderous. At several points in my journey this 4 lane highway slowed to a stop as we were all behind what they call a "conga line" of plows.
Needless to say I was dog tired when I arrived home after an hour and a half drive.

Thursday. I managed to stay up till about 12:30 and slept until almost 8 this morning. Much better than my average 5 hours. I have things to do today but you know what? I'm spending it lounging around doing nothing except writing this, eating, playing the guitar and having a beer or two, if I had any. But I' not going anywhere. I have another 6 a.m. start tomorrow.

I've gone on long enough. I've got a lot of serious nothing to do.

I'm outta here.