Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sadness in Boston

I don't know if this story made national news or not but there was a tragic fire right in downtown Boston a few days ago where two firefighters were killed fighting a blaze in an old brownstone. The fire station was just up the street nearly across the street from the Prudential Center. We have a store at the base of the building and I am very familiar with the area having worked there several times over the years. It is a sad and tragic story. And I am not in the best frame of mind  these days (work) so this has been tough to take even though I didn't know either gentleman. I watched the news this evening (Friday) as they took the firefighters back to their hometowns in a procession of fire trucks and police cars. It was very emotional.

It's now Saturday. I had a very eventful day at work. Though I now work for my favorite boss again and a good friend for over 30 years, there is someone else, second in command that I have butted heads with for the last 5 weeks. Today's problem started when I didn't bring out a case of pickles because I could have fit one more jar on the shelf. On top of that the one case was at the bottom of a 4 case stack. He got all over me for that. Then a box had fallen over in our refrigeration chest and he drags me in there and accuses me of doing it. My blood pressure shot up. I told him "check with his part timers"... and besides he was the one who put all the stuff away anyway. I told him to get off my back. I made arrangements to speak to the store director (they used to be called managers). I decided to semi retire. Go part time, work closer to home. It's not going to be for a few weeks though. I have since calmed down. It's going to be a bit of a change after 43 years (April 1st), but I don't need his nonsense. And let me tell you I would have liked to use much stronger language at work and here but I've calmed down.

Tonight my friend Dave came over. We had a couple of beers and watched a very stupid movie though it did have a few funny moments.

Well this wasn't my cheeriest post but to use a cliché, it is what it is. I don't have a particularly good schedule this week but I will muddle through.
To borrow Beth's shtick, 63 days till vacation. Ok it's getting late.

I'm outta here.

Monday, March 24, 2014

I need a vacation! The island is calling me.

As I have mentioned about a billion times, Arlene and I are going back to Martha's Vineyard June 1st. We are thoroughly enchanted by this little bit of heaven. We are booked and itching to travel. Both of us have been shuffled around at work. From location to location, two or three days a week for various reasons, me, covering vacations, working re-openings, Arlene, pretty much the same except she had to go into town to work at one of our premiere stores for some new "training". She doesn't need training and neither do I. 

We've been bought and sold several times since the original family sold out in 1964. By the way the family who started the Star Market Co. are the people who pay for the 4th of July Boston Pops concerts. In 1999 things changed. We were sold again to an English company, Sainsbury but this time we were stuck together with another New England Supermarket company which Sainsbury owned. One that was practically unknown in the Boston area then they began renaming the stores. We had 60 stores in the area, the other company had 6 though they had more stores in New England. However they were practically unknown around here. Suddenly last year they started renaming the Boston area stores back to the original names because those geniuses suddenly announced that the name has a long history around here. Well pardon my French, but no shit Sherlock!

So stores are being remodeled, and reintroduced with the original name. Arlene and I have been shuffled around. On one the one hand it's a compliment because we know our jobs. Both Arlene and I work in the two top stores in the company. Both pull in over a million a week. The stores not us. On the other hand it shows that they shouldn't have laid off 700 people a year ago. They don't have enough help. Last week they wanted to send Arlene to a store on the other side of Boston. She refused. Driving across Boston during the morning or evening rush hour can be quite taxing. She didn't want to make the drive and I don't blame her. Then they found out that we are a couple and sent me there as well, essentially so I could drive Arlene. The store is actually very close to the JFK Library which I admit I have yet to visit. Shame on me. So we are both worn out and the island is calling us. We go in June and September. Nice weather ,no crowds. It's so quiet and peaceful.
Here's a sunrise shot from Oak Bluffs, where we stay.
 Here's a sunset from the other side of the island in Aquinnah.

   I've used some of these video clips before but not all of them. It starts with us on the highway entering Boston at 6 a.m.     

I have to admit that it's been hard for me or Arlene to have a semblance of a normal life. I could start work at 6 a.m. or at noon. Sometimes I get home at 9:15 in the evening and have to get up at 4 to be in by 6. You can't eat or sleep properly. The last few months I have had only enough energy to wash my dishes and do laundry and that's only because I really have to.
As I was writing this I received a phone call from Arlene informing me that she will be going part time. She has had enough. I'm not that far behind. It will be an adjustment for her as I suppose it will be for me. I will find it hard not to have the same amount of money coming in as I have had for the last 43 years (as of April 1st) but I do have savings and I will not be out on the street. Will I be able to hit Martha's Vineyard twice a year? Maybe not but I'm sure going to try.
I watch the video's from time to time and it gives me peace. Once again some of the clips in the following video have been used before but I made another video of us just walking around. It's so quiet and peaceful. For about a week all we have to do is decide where and what to eat, where to go or not go. It's our own personal slice of heaven and we are so fortunate to have this place such a short 3 hours trip from home.

At this point let me just say what a giant pain it was to put this blog together. Not because I couldn't think of anything to write but because of this computer. It took forever to upload the videos and then I couldn't find the video on my YouTube channels. Then when I found the video I couldn't get it to my blog. Now I finally managed to do it in a most unusual way involving another little laptop I have. I can't even explain exactly how I finally did it because I don't remember. This computer's days are numbered.

So I guess I'll stop whining and put this baby to bed. Now it's a little past 10 p.m. and I have to be up in six hours. This thing has taken two days to put together. Goodnight Irene and everybody else.
I'm outta here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What to write

When I get the time I do feel the urge to write a blog. Sometimes I will get an idea about something to write on my way home from work but I will either forget it or it's too late and I have to go to bed and by then I've forgotten it anyway.

Other times, like this, I sit down and just start with something and see what happens. I begin this on Monday evening and I  may finish it tonight, or maybe not.

I had my yearly check up today. I'm happy to say everything looks good. I met my new doctor today and I was leaving I was told that he was leaving and I would have yet another doctor. Well I'm not going to worry about it as long as I don't have to see him or her too often.

OK now it's Tuesday evening about7 p.m. I just finished my supper of chicken, ziti and broccoli. Ya know it hit 32 degrees today and after all the cold weather (it was 14 degrees when I left for work this morning) we have had, it felt down right balmy. The car was warm when I went to leave work. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and my sun roof was open, at least until I got to the highway. I was on the notorious, at least around here, Rt. 9. A roadway built for another time.

Well looky there. It's Wednesday. This is not a blog it's a diary. Weather wise it was a nice day. Aw who cares.
For my friend Beth. Parking is very tough in Boston unless you're willing to pay pirate (Arghh!) prices in a garage. The North end is the original Boston, which was a blob of land connected to the mainland by an isthmus. It was almost totally surrounded by water. The area they call the Back Bay is all land fill. The Charles river was much wider back then as it flowed into the ocean. As for the streets in the North End being narrow, some of those streets date back to the 1600's. And no I would not take my car there. It's easily accessible by public transportation. As it is heavily Italian you can have a fabulous lunch in one of a myriad of wonderful restaurants, walk down and see Paul Revere's house, walk to the old North Church then walk to Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market and still beat the crush of people leaving work in the 4 to 6 p.m. rush hour at the train station. When I was a kid my uncle Joe had a store there and on a few occasions my mother, sister and I would go. It was your typical Italian store of the time. Provolone cheese and salami's hanging over the counter. The cookies and pastries. The cold cuts and Italian bread (a particular weakness of mine), sausages, fresh meats, imported pasta's, olives and olive oil and so on. Nice memories. I also want to thank my dad for taking us to Italy twice. Actually there's a blog or two there! The first time I was four and a half. We stayed for 3 months and I was sick with Scarlet fever for a stretch. Those are my most vivid memories of that particular trip though I do have a few others. We went back in 1965. That wasn't that long ago right, at least if you're talking in glacial terms. I have many memories of that trip including going to Rome, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican. Thank You Dad. I have memories of flying up from Sicily to Rome and looking down over the Mediterranean and you could see the coast of Sicily and Italy right down to the bottom of the sea. I remember swimming in the warm Mediterranean. I don't know how he could afford it being a barber, but then again he was quite good. And no mafia jokes please, we were hardly wealthy.

OK. I could go on all night but I have a 4 a.m. alarm waiting for me. As usual I am wide awake when I should be getting ready for bed. Below is a video. I may have shown a version of it before. It's nothing special. No cinematic triumph, but keeping with the Boston theme. A couple of years ago, my friend Dave and I had nothing to do so we decided to go into town to the Prudential Building and check out the "Skywalk", a place to view Boston and the surrounding area from about 500' up. When it was built it was the 3rd tallest building in the U.S. now it's just another tall building. It's not even the tallest in town. Anyway it wasn't a very sunny day but it was something to do. Now Dave was already retired at the time (2011) . He has plenty of time on his hands. He watches a lot of T.V. You can hear him talking about some show as I'm taking video through the window. You can here all kinds of background noise such as things from television monitors, people talking, kids, and Dave going on about some television show and finishing up the video, Dave, in his Boston tinged accent, says to me, "Why  don't you get yourself  a "smaht" phone ..." and that's it. I need to get a real video camera. Hopefully in time for my vacation June 1st."      

 That's it kiddies.
I'm outta here.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

More pictures. Part one, maybe.

Last blog Nookworm commented that I "sure get around" as in going places. You know, here there, different places. I have mentioned before, it took me getting a camera that started me going to places that might have subjects I would want to photograph. Apart from some trips to Martha's Vineyard I am strictly local mainly because it's cheap. Even Martha's Vineyard,  which is not so cheap, is a little over three hours from my door including drive and ferry ride. I now appreciate all I have around me.

Anyway finding those Boston Pictures the other day made me want to look at more. So I picked some out.

Here are a few other downtown shots. This is the John Hancock Building.


The Boston Public Library

The balcony you see as you walk in.

The original part of Boston. The North End. That's the Old  North Church in the background.

Pail Revere's house.

The North End is heavily Italian.

Faneuil Hall right. Historic building. Quincy Market left. Tourist trap, but can be fun.

The Constitution. "Old Ironsides" in nearby Charlestown.

The Swan Boats on the Boston Public Gardens.

A shot from the harbor.

I've lived around here my whole life and I have never been to Salem. I went to the beach there a couple of times when I was young but have never checked out any of the witch hysteria sites.
I've never been to the JFK Library. It was very close to where Arlene and I worked a few days back. I've been to Lowell Ma. many times but have never checked out it's historical sites. This is where America's industrial revolution began. It was the first planned city in America. So there are plenty of places to explore within three hours of my front door, depending on traffic of course.

I admit from time to time I will take a look at certain places I have gone, most of the time with Arlene. It's fun to look at them again, that's why you take 'em in the first place.

I'm outta here.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


So Arlene and I worked together for the first time since 1996. We had to cross town in a slow crawl and right when we were in a quarter mile of our destination we got lost. We knew we were close but I do have to complain about the lack of street signs around here. At one point we we're told to take our first right which turned out to be a one way, the wrong way. We stopped at a state police station for directions, Long story short we got to our destination.

Some Grand Reopening. Who has a "Grand Reopening" on a Wednesday? The slowest business day of the week. Apart from an annoying ride the day was slow. Arlene went to work in the kitchen and I was stationed behind the deli. Arlene saw a busy lunch rush with people ordering meals, sandwiches, pizza, various forms of chicken and whatever else they had over there. I on the other hand did next to nothing. Not for want of trying. I was willing to do anything just to stay occupied but I basically just stood around. By 2 P.M. Arlene came over to me saying she was bored and she would talk to the manager, who she knew, and see if we could leave. So we left at about 2:15. We plugged the GPS in and hit "Destination" "Home".
Still it was confusing. The store is bordered on the back by a public train station and tracks. Behind the station was the expressway heading north. The road we needed to be on. So close...yet so far. The GPS did eventually get us on the expressway. This part of town is residential with an expressway cutting through it and typically, streets with no signs, and a rotary (roundabout) or two. A very difficult place to deal with if you are not familiar with the area. During our escape I unwittingly drove through a red light because I was trying to see an alleged left I was to take. Fortunately none of the cars moved and this was, finally the entrance ramp to the expressway.

So we stopped at our favorite restaurant for a drink at least that was the initial plan. That's what I said we were going to do yesterday. As we approached our exit I said, "I'm hungry. Let's eat." So we ate.

Today I more or less relaxed. I took it upon myself to begin shredding all the paper that accumulates over the months. The junk mail, old bills, anything with my name and address. I thought computers were supposed to eliminate all this extra paper. I also thought about going into town to Copley Square like I mentioned before. I wouldn't mind going this Sunday except it's going to be overcast and about 37 degrees. It can get windy around big buildings and this is saved for a better day. I've been to the Prudential Center many times and it's on the edge of Copley Square but there's a lot of it that I'm unfamiliar with.
The following picture is not my picture. I got it off the web. This is the Christian Science Mother Church. I know nothing of the religion but it is a beautiful building.

My friend Dave and I went to the Prudential Center, which is behind the church to the left in the above picture. This was back in 2011. It was a warm, humid, mostly overcast day and it was something to do. More than likely I've shown these pictures before.
Below is the Prudential Building left and 111 Huntington Ave right.
111 Huntington Ave from the 50th floor of the Prudential.

The Christian Science Church and reflecting pool. The red circle at the bottom are fountains.

The fountains by the reflecting pool shot in bad light. I had to really lighten this up. But the little girl was having fun in the fountain.

There's a video of the above day somewhere. Anyway soon I'll be going to bed. There's another long day tomorrow. The best I can hope for is that I don't have to deal with the woman who looks like Ernest Borgnine.

I'm outta here.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What? Another title?

I'm wingin' it again. I guess I'll complain about my drive again. Depending on the time it can be fairly quick (35 minutes) or a slog down a four lane highway in molasses like fashion. Tonight's traffic (Tuesday) was so slow that I kept a diary of the trip. (Insert rim shot here). 

There was a little incident. For a moment from time to time the traffic would break loose and speeds would pick up to 40 or 50 mph. There was about a two car gap in front of me and suddenly this guy comes in diagonally from the left and cuts in front of me.
I was, in order, shocked, scared and angry. I did not want to be behind this guy. I had an opportunity to change lanes to my left. I was slowly pulling up next to him, as my lane was moving a bit faster, I looked over and called him a certain body part. I'm sure he could read my lips. He flipped me the bird and I told him to be fruitful and multiply, just not in those words. This is not usual behavior for me on the highway or anywhere but every once in a while you come across a real cement head.

Apart from that I found out today (still Tuesday) that I will be working in a store on the other side of Boston. A location I have never been to. Once again the drive is not difficult and Boston is not physically big. It's really a straight shot. Unfortunately I will be joined by a few thousand of my closest friends. I'm going to a store that's having a grand reopening. Now the person who assigns people to such events knows both Arlene and me. She also found out recently that we are together. She's sending both of us. This is only for one day. At least as far as I know at this point in time. Fortunately I will have good company to share my misery.
I've worked my share of openings and grand reopening and they are usually a mix of confusion, making fun of company officials, hanging around and checking out the remodeled store. 
Since we are going together Arlene and I decided that we would stop at our favorite restaurant and have an adult beverage. Just one. We don't get to spend much time together due to our schedules. Sunday is about it.

After the weather improves a bit more, Arlene suggested that we go to Copley Square in Boston. She was recently there and said how much it's changed in the last 40 years. I used to work there in the 70's ad 80's. I was there a few years ago when I went to the Boston Public Library which is a few blocks before the marathon bombing sight, but I didn't walk around the area. I have some shots from a skywalk, 50 floors up, in Prudential Building, of Copley Square but I never walked around the green space and fountains. I never took in all the different architecture from modern to classic. Hopefully we have a sunny day.

Apart all from that I have to go to bed. I should be there now. I want to be here now.

Nighty night,
I'm outta here.  

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Live! From my front room it's Saturday Night!

Ya know about the only good thing about my daily commute is while traveling south towards home, you come around a certain bend in the highway and suddenly you see the Boston skyline. It's like seeing Oz in the distance. After a tedious 30 mile drive I know I'm 5 minutes from my driveway. That's the best part of my day. It's the new job location and the location it's self. Even though I am dealing with an upper income clientele they really haven't been a problem. I did a bit of counter work today and I had a young couple ask me for turkey.
"Sure what kind would you like?"
They turned and stared at each other seemingly dumbfounded. We have upwards of 30 turkey's alone.
 They looked like two chickens trying to hypnotize each other.
I finally said, "Here this is a very nice one and it's at a sale price. Just plain turkey. No honey, no smoked, no Cajun, no bacon..."
They seemed relieved. All this perplexity over what kind of turkey sandwich they wanted.

The store itself, "the store of the future", I come to find out is really a store of the compromise. It turns out the town looked at the plans and said "You don't have enough parking."

The compromise, the most of the first floor, which was to be for back room stock, was eliminated and became under store parking. The result is a crowded, cramped store. We have to bring our stock out through swinging doors, not from the back of the store, but from the front, right in front of the cash registers. People trying to leave with their shopping carts, other people milling around and you with a big dolly, stacked to the top trying not to kill yourself or anybody else. Then there's the silly escalators, one for the person and one for the shopping cart. I've been at this location for about a month and the shopping cart escalator has already broken down once. That was fun.

Last blog was a little weird. All the comments I got were from people I don't know. They were all very nice, just odd not really knowing any of them.

84 days till...

Now it's time for a frozen fudgy treat.

I'm outta here.