Saturday, May 31, 2014

Almost, at least as of this writing.

Once again I feel guilty about not being around but in my own defense apart from sleeping (sort of), working (Hey did you hear I retired?) and maybe a meal a day, I haven't been home all that much. When I did get on the computer I actually started three different blog entries which I never finished. It does take me forever to write a blog. I will finish them because I took a long time writing them.

All right enough of that nonsense. As of this writing (about 7:35 on Saturday evening, Arlene and I will be leaving at 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning. We tied up loose ends today as we haven't seen each other since last Thursday. By the way on Thursday she invited me over for a simple ziti and meatball supper. I have to say Arlene makes a home made sauce that is so much like my mothers. The same goes for the meatballs. And of course I loved my mothers home made sauce and meatballs. There are the three camps concerning the preparation of the meatballs at least as fall as I know. You mix your ground beef as you see fit and place them in the sauce raw and let them slow cook in the sauce and the sauce should be home made.
You brown them in the oven for a time and I have no clue how long or the temperature, and then you put them in the sauce. Or as my mother did, brown them in a frying pan, then put them in the sauce. Arlene does the same thing and she's only half Italian. This is the second time I've had Arlene's home made sauce and meatballs with pasta. It was wonderful.

See, I went off on another tangent, interrupted by a phone call. That's why it takes me so long to write a post. I have three other unfinished posts. 

So the upshot of it all is we are leaving Sunday morning. The beauty of the whole thing is (excuse me, another phone call. This time made by me)... Ok I just got off the phone with Arlene. The leaving time has just been moved up to 6:30 a.m. This all ties in with what I was going to say. The whole beauty of it is , we will get to the dock by 8:00-8:30 a.m., get loaded (the car) onto the ferry, not to be confused with getting loaded on the ferry. The ferry leaves at 9:45 and were on the island by 11a.m.

Sunrise, June 2010

The clay cliffs on the other side of the island.

Well it's time to wrap this up. The next time you hear from me  we will be on Marta's Vineyard.

I'm outta here... by 6:30 a.m.       

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Memorial Day 2014. Busy days. Car problems.

It's been a busy time. On Tuesday evening I attended the wake of my friend. It was delayed a bit because one of his brothers lived out of state. On Monday, I attended the Memorial Day Ceremony at the local cemetery. Arlene's daughter runs the city website and her own website about local news. I volunteered to take pictures for her website. My parents are in this cemetery. Someday I will reside here on the other side of the grass. My aunt and uncle, my grandfather, Arlene's parents, maternal grand parents and two cousins. One killed in Vietnam in 1967. So it's an emotional place for all of us. And believe me seeing my name on the gravestone really creeps me out.

Still it was a nice ceremony and seeing all the flags planted on the graves of people who had served or killed in battle really had an affect on me. There were plots for WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the last few wars. The mayor made a comment about searching Memorial Day on Google and coming up with sales events and car ads. It's also called the unofficial start of summer. But as we all know that was not the original the reason for the day. It's something I had forgotten about. I don't know maybe that should be one of the days when just about everything shuts down. Like Sundays used to be once upon a time. It's just one day. Surely we could survive.
The featured speakers and guests. The Police Color Guard on the left. The young women standing left of center, on the right in the light blue/green jacket is Allison, Arlene's daughter. The other woman was hired to video everything.

 I also took some video. A bit of the Mayor's, two other snippets of speech. The high school band was there but, I know they're just kids and they tried, but at some points they just sounded like a bag of cats. A quick wrap up of the ceremonies, with taps and the retiring of the colors.

On to a much less solemn, but very annoying and no doubt expensive topic. Over the last week, my air bag icon has come on, my sunroof won't slide open, I have a air leak in one of the wheels, not the tire, there was a water leak from under the dash on the passengers side possibly connected to the fan on the heater/ac fan not working and for the last couple of months the cd player won't eject the cd's. It'll play 'em but won't eject 'em. All six of 'em. They couldn't fix anything this week. I hate dealing with the dealership and would never take my car there for maintenance. I have a regular mechanic.

The car is not that old. It's a 2008. It has run like a top. Flawlessly. Not one mechanical problem. Rides quite nicely and handles well and has a bit of get up and go. Now all of a sudden all these annoying, mostly electric related problems have happened mostly in the last week and it could possibly be traced back to a relatively inexpensive drainage tube under the hood near the dash that's clogged. They have all kinds of warning chimes and sounds so why don't they have some warning sign or sound telling you when your tube is clogged, so to speak.

This raised another problem concerning our rapidly approaching vacation. My car is registered to go on the ferry. I don't want to take it because I can't get the wheel or heater/ac working this week. I could let the rest go until the week we get back. So I had to call the  ferry company and find out if I can take another car other than what's on my reservation. Arlene's car is the same size as my car. My car is based on her car. Almost identical in size. I was told as long as the person who made the reservation was in the car and showed some ID, everything will be fine. I certainly hope so!

So I haven't been around for a few days and I might be able to look in later today as it is very early in the morning as I write this. The anticipation is growing for the two of us. As long as my car gets me to work the next three days, it can sit dead in the driveway next week. I'm not going to let it spoil my week. I didn't make the fancier count down placard for this post but it doesn't change the fact that there are 4 days till vacation! I will, more than likely, be reporting in from down there. Now I really have to get to bed.
I'm outta here.  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A personal sadness.

A sad note for me personally. A friend of mine, who I admit I have not seen in over 30 years, has passed away. It doesn't make it any easier even though we lost contact. It's one thing when a parent of a friend passes. Sad but in the course of life, it is the way it should go. It has happened to me and to all my friends. If there is anyone left in my contemporaries families parental generation, they are in their late 80's or 90's. When people of your own generation start dying it brings things home. You begin to realize your own mortality.

His name was the same as mine, Paul. We shared another common thread, we both worked in a supermarket, in the same department. When our whole gang would get together in the basement of one of the guys parents homes, we would eventually pair off and start talking about the similarities of our jobs. And a note about my friends parents, they let us hang around in their basement. We always had music blasting, there were parties and lots of noise and yet they never bothered us, and there were times when the could of thrown us all out because of all the nonsense that occurred but they didn't. I guess they figured at least we know where they all are. This was the 70's, and we were all within a few years of each other age wise.  We were not a bad group of people but we were young and had just come out of the '60s. There was drinking and various drug use. Nothing really bad by todays standards but I'd be lying if I said that none of that went on. There were a few infamous episodes like the Halloween/crazy foam (it came in a aerosol can) party which ended up being similar to a Three Stooges pie fight. There was also a similar party with silly string. It also came in a can. Both times only 3 people new about it before all kinds of silliness erupted. What mess that was but boy did we have fun! There was the night we decided to play hide and seek at 1 a.m. in the morning. The result? Somebody stepped on a pipe that fed oil to the furnace. Oil all over the cellar resulting in a visit from the fire department. Despite all this we were a pretty harmless group of guys and gals and I thank Lenny's parents for giving us this place to hang around. There were other stupid things we did, owing to the exuberance of youth. The night we put cinder blocks behind the rear wheels of Lenny's car parked in his driveway. He got in the car as we watched from the street. He put the car in reverse but it did not budge. What did Lenny do next? He stomped on the accelerator, the car rolled over the blocks and stopped with a very loud bang. We of course thought this was hilarious! Fortunately there was actually very little damage to the car though Lenny was less than thrilled with the gag. As I write this I am smiling at all the fun things we did. All the laughs we had. All of which brings me back to Paul.

Invariably when Paul and I were both present we talked about our very similar jobs. He worked for the biggest chain in the region, My company was the second biggest though we had more stores in the Boston area than they did. In fact we owned the area. That's where all the people are, about 4.5 million. As we began to talk somebody would invariably say, "Here they go. They're talking meat again."

As you age people get married, move away, start their adult lives. As I said I hadn't seen Paul in over 30 years though he was still local. He had moved to the city next to mine, one that bordered Boston. Several days ago my friend Dave, who I have remained in contact with since those days called me and told me of Paul's passing. And even though I hadn't seen him in years it still had an affect on me. He was a good guy. Never had a bad word about anybody, a hell of a good whist player, and though we went our separate ways years ago it doesn't change the sadness when one of your contemporaries  leaves this mortal coil. Rest in peace my friend.

Monday, May 19, 2014

One loyal and tough cat and other stuff.

By the way this blog is gluten free. Ok to start things off I saw this  
clip on the news. It took place somewhere in California. A little boy was in his driveway with his bike. A neighbors dog apparently got loose, circled around a car in the driveway. By the way the little boys family had security cameras in several locations. So the dog sees the boy and goes for him, biting on the leg and trying to drag him away...

Man there was so much traffic the last couple of days. I mean there's always a lot of traffic but this was unusual until I realized it was graduation time. I drive by two colleges on the way to work. Tufts and Harvard. There were many out of state cars. It also was a gorgeous weekend especially Saturday. I've driven through Harvard square many many times over the years and it's always crowded but this time it was over the top. Of course many people were just taking advantage of the beautiful weather, 75 degrees, low humidity and not a cloud in the sky. It didn't start that way as I drove to work at 6 a.m. it was raining heavily at 2 p.m. it was another world.

On Sunday it was a little cooler and there were clouds but it still was a lovely day so I went back to the Mt. Auburn cemetery to explore parts I never saw before. There were lots of bird watchers. Let me tell you it's good exercise. There are hills and valleys. I walked about for two hours always making note of what street I parked on. If you don't you could easily get lost though you could always eventually find the exit. The place was full of bird watchers. More than I had ever seen before. I did find another pond, but there are two more that I have yet to locate. I can't wait for the fall, well actually I can, but this place is stunning in the fall. Anyway here are some more shots.





And of course I have another 3 minute video. Taking videos with this particular camera is not easy. First of all you can't look through the view finder, you have to look at the screen on the back which can be practically useless in the sun. Second of all there is no automatic zoom or focus. That has to be done manually. It's tough to focus when you can't see what you're filming, taping, videoing, whatever you call it. So as a result there are some out of focus bits.

On Saturday evening Arlene and I went out for a bite to eat and one of her daughters came with us. She is a brilliant young woman. She would have to be. She graduated from Tufts and is now attending Harvard! As close as I would ever come to Harvard is when I drive by it on the way to work. Any way we finished eating and as we were leaving there is a gate you have to open. Alison went to open the gate but she grabbed the wrong side, so of course it wouldn't open. Arlene grabbed the other side and opened it. Alison walked out first and Arlene turned to me and said, "Can you believe it? She goes to Harvard but she can't open a simple gate." We both chuckled.
Alrighty then I've taken up enough of your time.

                                           I'm outta here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I have no idea what I'm going to write. Let's see...

 I guess the first thing I should say is when looking at a map of the Mt. Auburn Cemetery I realized that we have only seen about a third of the grounds. It is 175 acres and there are so many roads and paths and I also found out there are two more ponds on the premises. I hope to get back soon before spring turns into summer. Of course fall is the best time as this place is a kaleidoscope of colors. 
Now I really don't think I have anything of any real interest to write about except I do find being semi-retired is nice but after not working for a few days I find myself whining when I do have to work. That's where the semi part comes in. On the other hand I do know that pretty much the same clientele shops here as did between the years 2000 and 2011. Many people come up and say hello and welcome me back. It's all very nice and I feel like a celeb. Well maybe that's overstating it a bit.
Let's see, Monday was another beautiful day so I decided to go down to the local lakes for some sunset shots. I didn't get quite what I wanted as I couldn't see the actual horizon. The sun went behind the trees surrounding the lake. There are beautiful homes all along the lake on the other side. I can't imagine what those places go for. Still it was quite comfortable. People were walking along the shore, people with their families. A volleyball game. An ice cream truck even showed up. I did not partake.


As part of my whining about work, I do have to work 5 straight days this week, nearly 40 hours. The same thing will probably happen next week as this is the beginning of vacation season. Of course I will be doing the same thing because it's...
... and I'm starting to get antsy. Actually as of this writing it's 18 days but it's Wednesday evening and I'm officially making it 17.
As the old lady said to the Peeping Tom, thanks for looking in.
I'm outta here. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

What a day!

Sunday we had perfect weather. Very low humidity with the temperatures ticking 80 degrees. There may have been a wispy cloud here or there but if there was I didn't see them. It was just too good a day to waste indoors, so I called Arlene and asked her if she would like to waste it outdoors with me. It was around noontime so I suggested we go out to eat. Of course it was Mothers Day and though her daughters want to take her out for dinner they couldn't on Sunday because of various reasons. So I said, "Let's go out to eat."

Arlene had a simple but tasty dish of turkey tips, salad, mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus with a Caesar salad. I had chicken, ziti and broccoli. Once again a pretty simple dish. It would have to be if I can make it. However I wish I knew how the chef made that clear sauce. Just a small amount on the bottom of the plate. Man was it good!

Anyway it was such a beautiful day we ended up at the Mount Auburn Cemetery. I've never been there in the Spring. In my semi retirement I now work back at the store in Cambridge which is right across the street. Not only is this a place for the departed but for the living as well. It was the first landscaped Cemetery in the country. It has trees from various parts of the world. Hills and valleys. A couple of ponds. Two chapels and some famous people. Politicians, religious people, a man named Charles Bulfinch who was this countries first native born architect. He designed the state houses of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine and later was commissioned by the President to design the Capital Building.
The painter Homer Winslow, Edwin Land (Polaroid Camera), Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and a headstone I stumbled across, Curt Gowdy.
This place is 175 acres right in the middle of Cambridge. A city just across the Charles River from Boston. It's densely populated with about 106,000 people. The entrance I use is on a main road with businesses, my store, gas stations and homes. In one direction you head towards Harvard Square and Boston, the other into suburbia. Yet once inside you are in a serene, beautiful setting.



Here's a quick video. It's less than a minute. I was using a different camera and I really have to improve my video recording skills. Still it gives you an idea of the calm setting.
I still have not explored all of this place. When you park you really have to be aware of where you are because of all the twisty paths, hills and valleys. I certainly can see getting confused as to where you are when you wander about.  We parked and explored the immediate area then we got back into the car, drove a bit more and parked again.
We got a good walk in with the hills and all. Leaving wasn't too bad. You kind of head back toward the gate, at least you make your best guess, and eventually you run into a sign setting you off in the proper direction. We then made our way to a coffee shop for a cuppa and something sweet.
It was a picture book day that we got to enjoy. Grab 'em when you can I say. It sure beats slicing a pound and a half of Genoa salami.
Au Reservoir.
I'm outta here.