Monday, June 23, 2014

Lazy Sunday, busy Monday.

Sunday, as is today, was another beautiful, comfortable day. It will remain as such until we get rain on Wednesday. No this is not a weather report. I'm not sure what it is. I wasn't sure what to do yesterday. I could have just lazed about. It seems Arlene was thinking the same. I think we are both in a state of adjustment. She has been semi-retired 8 weeks. Me, 7. We have more time on our hands. Summer has just begun. We have talked about various things we could do or places we could go. All local, which includes New Hampshire, places that would be relatively inexpensive. The cost of gas and maybe lunch or dinner. One potential overnight stay in New Hampshire, back to Mt. Washington. There's a hotel at the base, who's weekly summer rates are quite reasonable. $64.00 a night. I've written about the last time we went before, maybe 2009, but it is a vivid memory for the both of us. The weather at the base and the weather on the peak can be quite opposite. As we pulled into the parking, lot the top of the mountain was in the clouds while the surrounding sky was clear blue. It will always be a roll of the dice when predicting the weather up there. If it's clear ,the view is spectacular. You see all the surrounding mountains for what seems like forever. Or, as we found out as we went to buy tickets for a van ride to the peak, while it was clear and 78 degrees outside, on the peak the wind was blowing at 60 m.p.h. making the temperature feel like 18 degrees. There was snow and hailstones. Now we came prepared. I had never been there but Arlene had and she told me about the drastic changes in weather on the peak and you should always bring winter weather clothing with you no matter what the weather is below. We also checked out the web site. Not everybody did. There were people in flip flops, shorts and tee shirts.

It was just as awful as it sounded when we read the weather conditions upon arriving. It was dark. The lights on the gift shop in front of us were blurry. The driver warned people to take off hats, glasses and whatever might be loose and easily blown away. He got out first to open the passenger door on the side. His hair shot straight back as he crossed the front of the van. He was doing his best Marcel Marceau's "walking against the wind". His skin was pulled taught by the wind as he opened the door. We all made a bee line into the gift shop. A stone building chained down to the mountain. 

The inside of that smallish gift shop now resembled a camp for war refugees. Bewildered looks. People panting for breath. Their eyes darting back and forth while possibly questioning their sanity. Hair shooting out every direction. Hopefully the people in shorts and tee shirts learned a lesson. This is the place where the highest wind speed ever recorded happened. 231 m.p.h. 

In the 50/60 or so minutes it took to ride to the peak, it went from a lovely summer day to being stationed on an Antarctic outpost. It was a different, wild, drastic and totally hilarious experience that Arlene and I still laugh about. We laughed about it Sunday which prompted us to possibly give it another go. This time instead of a van we will take the Cog Railway to the peak. It is quite scenic and the ride up (1 hour) should be nice. The weather could be just as bad or worse on the peak this time as well. We would stay an extra day so we could explore a bit of the local area. All of this is just talk right now. It may or may not happen.

Still all this is about adjusting to a new schedule. A bit more free time on our hands. A slight change for me after working full time for 43 years in one job and a total of 46 so far. We are fortunate to have many things to do and see in a relatively small area. Yesterday as I hung around Arlene called. She asked me if I wanted to take a short drive to Winchester, a town next to my city. We share the Mystic Lakes (last blog) with Winchester. I have not been to Winchester since 1970 though it's only a couple miles from here. Winchester is an upscale bedroom community. My city is a bedroom community as  well just middle/lower middle income community,closer to Boston. They are completely, a sleepy, well manicured residential, upscale town.
Arlene volunteered to drive. It's a lovely drive. As you drive along the river in my city it becomes all residential/woodland. A really nice place to live and you shortly enter Winchester. All we really did yesterday drive to the center of town, park and cross the street to a little area called Mill Pond. It was about 6 p.m. and the sun was still burning bright as it made it's way west. Essentially we walked around the pond and I took pictures and videos. We then walked around the corner and I was treated to a dish of  ice cream. So all in all it was a lovely way to close out the day.
 A little island in mill pond.





Time to get back to reality and the laundry. Though it's close by I could never afford to live in Winchester. It is a town in so many respects. Most of the businesses are local. No malls and it's chalk full of beautiful homes. The median price there is about  $650,000.  It really is a lovely place except you have to bring your trash to the dump, well maybe someone who works for you can take it there. Time to fold clothes.
I'm outta here. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Are they nuts and whatever else comes to mind.

Who's nuts? The people who want to bring the 2024 Olympics here. Where? There's barely enough room for us. Despite all the billions spent on the "Big Dig" and the obvious improvements, it's still a crammed, congested area. On the one hand, sure it's a feather in the cities cap. On the other hand it's a nightmare waiting to happen. At least that's what I think. I remember all the detours and closed roads, and how many people will this bring into the area? Then again, if it happens, maybe in 10 years I won't care.

Alright apart from my quickie rant, the weather has been just about perfect. Today looks to be just as nice. There isn't a cloud in the sky as I write this. I spent most of Saturday, working around the house. Doing things I have been avoiding. All that took up most of the day, and it was a beautiful day. Sunny, 75. I was pleased with myself with resisting the urge to laze about the whole day. I mean it was my first day off from work in the week. At the moment, the semi in semi-retirement, seems quite limited as the last two weeks I have worked 31 hours instead of 40 when I was full time. On the other hand, it is vacation season and I have gained hours covering the vacations of others. I don't want to rock the boat and my manager appreciates having someone of my experience around and I appreciate that. I can always alter my availability so I'll hang in there for a few more weeks. Thus endith the whine. 

So as I was saying it was a beautiful day, Arlene, the other semi-retired person in this epic, was working until 4:00. I called her as soon as she arrived home. I wanted to catch her before she got too comfortable and suggested we go out for a bite to eat and a drive down to the local lakes for sunset. I have never been there for sunset and it's a very nice spot just on the other side of town. There's a beach and a large well kept open space. People were playing soccer, barbecuing, and just enjoying the beautiful weather. The sunset was a little disappointing only because it is a bit hilly around the lake so the horizon was obscured. Then again I have been spoiled by the beautiful sunset we just happened upon on vacation a couple of weeks ago. Still it was a beautiful evening at a lovely setting.



And of course the inevitable video. It's quick. You can hear kids in the background playing soccer. There were families enjoying the evening here and there. One group had a guitar and were singing together. Despite all the congestion around here we are blessed with many green open spaces. It was all in the planning and natural features of the whole area and I for one am grateful for the forethought.

Now it is time to get on with the day and whatever it brings so...
I'm outta here.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Six Weeks and a bit more about you know where.

It has been about six weeks since I have begun my semi-retirement. I am working, part time, in a store that I worked at from 2000-2011. I have worked there in every decade from the 1970's to the present. Up until the mid 2000's it was the top store in the company. It's not on top anymore but it still is #4 in a chain of 155 stores. It used to be a feather in your cap to work there. The main office for the entire company was next door. Company officials were always in and out of there. Well I'm back there again. I still know many of the people and customers and truthfully I have enjoyed my reduced role in the workforce. I went from having to be available to work at any time of the day or night to telling the company when I am available to work. Of course I have taken a big hit in pay but I'm not complaining. I put in 43 years at the company and that was not my first job. I've been working since I was 16 and now I have trimmed back my work obligations and I am loving it.
I work with a guy named Ben. Ben and I started at this particular location (right across the street from the Mount Auburn Cemetery) around the year 2000. I was a full time employee and Ben was a new part time hire. We worked together for the next 11 years. I was transferred in 2011. Now I'm back in a reduced role as a part timer and Ben has become a full timer. Our roles have been reversed. I put up with a lot of Ben's crap back then. He's not a bad guy and is likable but will try and talk ragtime at times. Trying to introduce some little scheme to alter his schedule, but try to introduce it as somehow beneficial to you. When you're his boss you have to deal with it one way. As a part timer I can deal with the double talk differently. When he tries to talk me into staying later or not to leave early after my boss asks me if I want to cut out early. When he asks me to swap shifts or to cover for him while he cuts for an hour I simply say no. Don't get me wrong over all my years  I have asked and been asked to change shifts because of some unforeseen circumstance and have done so. Things happen in peoples lives and you have to cooperate because someday you may need someone Else's help. It's nothing more than just being a good person.
Now don't get me wrong, over the years these little episodes were quite humorous. There were exchanges that made everybody laugh and it became a little game between us. A very guy like thing exchanging lines and quips to every body's amusement. One day last week it was slow and my boss asked me if I wanted to leave an hour early. I said sure. One hours pay more or less is not going to alter my lifestyle radically and besides I am semi-retired. Well Ben gets wind of this and he starts.
"You should stay and let me leave early because..." and then begins the problem or sob story. My wife son that. My daughter needs a ride to, fill in the blank, _________.
We went back and forth for a bit then I asked Ben, "Are you getting enough fiber in your diet?"
"Fiber?" he said in his best indignant Haitian accent. "What do you mean fiber?"
"Well because I think you're full of shit."
The other part timer Andrew laughed. One of the ladies who works in the kitchen next door laughed, and even Ben laughed.
I left, hitting the produce department for some bananas and nectarines and headed home. Fiber is very important.
I am one week removed from vacation but it has lingered with Arlene and I, in a nice way. If you asked me about Martha's Vineyard five years ago I suppose I would have thought of it as a little summer playground for wealthy people. And it is but after going there for the first time in 2010 around this time of year I came away with a different impression. Certainly things are more expensive because everything has to come by boat but not everything here is to cater to the wealthy. There are many places that cater to the less affluent especially in the off seasons of spring and fall. There are no huge beach going crowds. There are no crowds at all. Still the more I go the more I realize that it is not a great life for the year round residents who rely on the summer tourist frenzy to make ends meet. And I certainly don't want to sound like an elitist who talks about zipping down to "the Vineyard" for a weekend here or there. The people who do that own what are sometimes laughingly called "cottages" which in reality are four bedroom, lavish homes with pools and tennis courts
and the Atlantic ocean as part of your back yard. You will only see these homes from a distance or on a satellite photo. This is where you find the President, wealthy business people and Hollywood types.
 And yet I have been there a total of eight times in four years. There's an ad campaign currently being shown on television locally about Cape Cod with the tag line, "Far away close by." That's the way I feel about the island. It's and 86 mile drive, 7 miles on the ferry and all of a sudden you are in a quaint, tranquil, beautiful place. All in 2 to 3 hours, in the off season of course. It also helps that we leave early and drive in the opposite direction of everybody heading towards the Boston area. I was spending about as much time on the road just driving to work or home every day, covering 30 miles each way not just under 100, before I retired from full time.
There are still a few more pictures and clips to deal with. I printed out and album for Arlene. I may or may not do one for myself.
Here are a couple of more video's. The first is us driving around getting "lost" as we explored parts we had never seen before. The second is a combination of sunrise and sunset clips.
OK time to get on with my day.
I'm outta here. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Flawed video's of a flawless time

There's a lot of Martha's Vineyard that I still have to look at in terms of pictures and clips. The first video below is of our trip over on the ferry. My camera has a flaw in it. Pictures or video's on the long distance lens may have what appears to be a hair or a fiber visible on certain shots or clips. I've cleaned both lens and the inside mirrors in the camera to no avail. And though it shoots high quality videos you have to use your right hand to twist the lens to zoom in making for some shaky camera work. And once again I express my displeasure with having to look at the screen on the back to see what I was I videoing. The screen washes out with almost any kind of light, so you're never really sure if you aim correctly or if any of it's in focus. I've also pioneered a new filming technique. Out of focus through  dirty windshield. Now even if you take all the above whining into consideration, we had a wonderful week. Apart from Thursday, which we knew going in, was iffy. It rained in the morning, slowly cleared, the sun reappeared then and set spectacularly.

It hit 80 one day but the rest of the week was quite comfortable, between 68 and 72.
I would shower and dress early and go out for a morning walk. I took video one morning of my walks through the neighborhood where the Pequot hotel is located. Most of the homes are over 100 years old. Some have the dates they were built conspicuously somewhere on the front, 1847, 1872 and so on. Some are homes that are rented out, others belong to families who use them every now and then. There is no dearth of parks in the town of Oak Bluffs. If I stood in the street in front of the hotel, facing east, there would be a park one block behind me, one block to my right another, three blocks to my left one more, and one block in front of me, the ocean. What's not to love

As Arlene and I sat eating breakfast in the dinning area one morning when two young ladies entered. They were early for check-in but were invited to have breakfast. Right off the bat you could tell who had the brains in this outfit and who should consider renting some for the summer.
Young lady #1- Hey! They don't have a pool here!
Young lady #2- Hello! Five houses down, ocean!
Moving on, The video below is the ferry ride over, ending with us driving off in Vineyard Haven instead of Oak Bluffs. That happens from time to time. Oak Bluffs is only a couple of miles away.

Once we drove off the ferry Arlene mentioned how early we were and how she'd like to drive around. She found her way around beautifully and had no problem going from on tip to the other and kind of zigzagging her way back to Oak Bluffs where we stopped off for a mid morning breakfast at Linda Jeans. One of the few places that stays open year round. I couldn't eat like that every day, well I could but you would have to wheel me around on a dolly. But it was a terrific breakfast.

We got our room and they told us that we were upgraded to a room with a king-size bed, a small porch and a fold out couch. Though they are always very nice to us it really wouldn't have mattered if we had a queen sized or two single beds. Still they had a bottle of wine waiting for us. It's always a relaxed homey feel at the Pequot.

Alright as most of you know I could go on all night but I won't. There are still raw pictures, as in right out of the camera and nothing else, for me to look at and pass judgment. I have begun to visit around. I am quite tanned if only my arms and face. It doesn't take much for me to tan. It's the Mediterranean blood.
OK shows over.

I'm outta here.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Normal life returns tomorrow, until then...

Hello. I've been back since Saturday. Saturday was pretty much a lost day. Not a total loss. After running a few errands, eating some food, Arlene and I got together for a last time for that day. Though the vacation was quite restful, I did not always sleep that well. I am an early riser as a rule from 43 years of working in food retail, and I intentionally got up shortly before sunrise on purpose one day so I could walk down to the ocean to see it, photograph it and video it. There are a lot of pictures and video's to plow through though I've done some of it already.

I conked out Saturday night in front of my computer. Got to bed at about 2 a.m. Natures call at about 4 and the next thing I knew Arlene called me at 12:30 p.m. Sunday. The rest of the day was a lazy affair. Nothing is yet to be unpacked so there quite a bit of laundry in the near future.

There were a few amusing moments during the week. On the day we were at the Clay Cliffs in Aquinnah. Arlene and I were at a railing overlooking the lower portion the cliffs, around the shoreline, halfway down the shoreline from the tip of the cliff, in the picture below.

There were a good amount of people around, but hardly mobbed. There were two women to our left. One woman knew about the island. Whether she was a resident or someone who owns property, she was showing the other around. The other woman was obviously a friend or client, again whatever, who had probably never seen the ocean in person. As we all looked down at the water, the four of us saw some things and movement in the water below.                                                                              
As in some sort of marine animals. Arlene and I had an idea what they could be. Both Arlene and I smiled and chuckled to ourselves as the visitor asked her friend                           
"What are those? Whales?" There was a brief pause, "No... those are ducks."
Another day, or maybe the same day for all I can remember, Arlene was sitting out on the little porch we had...
...there was a woman sitting at one of the tables in the courtyard. I was inside playing with this laptop. Much like I am now. Soon I hear a sound which I can not readily identify. It sort of sounded like a woodpecker. Then I begin to hear Arlene chuckle. I had no idea what was going on. The unidentified sound turned out to be the woman laughing. I then heard another woman calling a boys name. What happened? A little boy, somewhere between 3 and 4, ran out of the doorway diagonal across from our porch, butt naked. Not only that, he ran across the little courtyard, up the stairs of the porch and into the reception area. The other woman's voice was his mother chasing. After she caught him and began to carry him back she was chastising him.
"Didn't I tell you to stay with me?" and he answered using a word they begin to use early on because of it's apparent power,
We all chuckled at this as well. No, the all powerful word.
Then there was Arlene's little meltdown as we drove around. Her idea. Just driving around to see parts of the island where the actual locals live, not the very wealthy. Truthfully, even though I've done more of the driving around there, Arlene knows her way around much better than I. Things were going along swimmingly until a couple of turns onto residential streets. As I asked in my earlier blog, how lost can you get on an island that's 15 miles at its longest. You eventually will get to the ocean and it's only a matter of going left or right. As we approached a certain bridge for the third time I begged her to just stay on this road with the ocean on our right. Eventually you're on the main drag of Oak Bluffs and our hotel is a left, one block in.
At this point Arlene has been driving for several hours and she's getting tired. She tells me that the signs on the bridge confuse her. Why I ask.
"Well on one side they say one thing and on the other they say something else!"
"Well of course." I said. "If you're heading into Oak Bluffs you see Entering Oak Bluffs. If you're going the other way it's going to say Entering Edgartown. She suddenly realized what she had said and we both laughed it off. 
So Monday begins my re-initiation into reality. I still have pictures and video's to plow through. It's a labor of love because just brings up all the wonderful memories of a place that I am fortunate to have reasonably close by. While I was there I rebooked for late September into early October. Arlene knows I did but doesn't know I got the suite.
Well it's time to get rolling. Many more videos and pictures to check out over the next few weeks. See you all soon.
I'm outta here.

Friday, June 6, 2014


Today is the first day where the weather is, well, under the weather. I'm not sure what we will do as it looks like rain most of the day. There's always eating, reading who knows what else. The weather has been just wonderful and tomorrow and the next day look good. Unfortunately we are leaving on Saturday. I can't explain why this place seems so magical. Part of it is that it's relatively close. Out the front door at 6:30 a.m. and on the island by 8:45. That was the fastest we ever got here. Oak Bluffs, where we stay, is a funky, happening place. When you go to the Gingerbread Cottages it's like you have walked into a fairy tale. I haven't taken any pictures of them yet but I have many of them already, but we still have a few more days so I will more than likely post a few for any newer readers.

Here are a few shots of Edgartown. It's very New Englandy. Many of the old whaling captain's homes are now hotels, bed and breakfasts, museums or art galleries. You have to be well heeled to live here year round. It is a beautiful area.

The Edgartown library.

This year I have paid more attention to the various license plates. The majority are from Massachusetts (Duh!), many Florida plates because many people from Massachusetts retire to Florida, but so far just around our hotel I have seen two California plates, Colorado, Nevada, Georgia, New Mexico and Virginia. People from the other New England states, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania are pretty common. Most of those people can get here with a days or less drive.

Last night, (Thursday) I had the first prime rib I have had in about 30 years. Let's face it, it's pricey and not all that good for you but boy it was delicious. Apart from our first day here we have had breakfast in the hotel. Lunch is not too expensive as long as you stick to having a sandwich somewhere and a drink. I have eaten things that I would not necessarily have normally such as French fries, potato salad and so on. Not because I don't like them because I do, just for health reasons. I'm not a health nut by any means but the last 7 or 8 years I have cut most of this stuff out of my diet because, well, it really isn't good for you. A turkey club  sandwich cost about $8.99 which is not too far out of align with prices at home, but there is one restaurant called Nancy's, which is right on the water, which is really expensive. The average meal starts at $20.00. Throw in an appetizer and a couple of drinks you are in the $70 to $80 range. The food is very good but I think they are just taking advantage of their location and the fact that the President ate there. We ate there a few years ago and we walked by it last night but one look at the menu and prices and we went somewhere else.

Thursday was the only day where the weather wasn't up to snuff. Much rain in the morning and afternoon though it did clear up by evening time. Today (9:06 a.m.) It is beautiful again, a bit cool in the lower 60's, but the ocean was gorgeous when I took my early morning stroll. The magic of this place is that it attracts everyone from the very rich to the average person. There's a lot of Hollywood here, not where we are but in the more secluded area's and I read that the locals leave them alone so they can stroll about like anybody else. Not around here but "up island" as the locals call it. 

Ok I've babbled on long enough. It's time to take advantage of another beautiful day.
I'm outta here... tomorrow.   

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Today was the first day where the weather was less than perfect. It rained in the morning but cleared up in the afternoon enough to make a side trip to the clay cliffs in the town of Aquinnah at the other end of the island. We didn't get as near to them as the last time two years ago but they were still gorgeous. I have taken many shots here but it's so gorgeous that you can't help but take more.

  We took Arlene's car because of a few niggling electrical issues with my car, though it still ran fine. The deal I drive down to Cape Cod and she'll do the driving on the island. Well I liked that! We had a small episode as we got lost. Arlene got a little nervous but calmed down when I told her how lost can you get on an island that's 15 miles at it's widest point. As long as you have the ocean on your right you'll eventually will hit Oak Bluffs. No matter which way you go you'll hit the ocean. There are only six towns on Martha's Vineyard.

 On our way to Aquinnah we found the cemetery where John Belushi is buried.

Arlene sitting on the stone with Belushi carved on it.

...and that's Tom Crui... no wait it's me.

This is a park one street to the right of our hotel. Below are a few shots from the neighborhood our hotel is located in.

We were in Edgartown on Tuesday. I've got a few shots. Thursday will be quite rainy so our plans might be limited, but we'll deal with it. There's always wine.

Time for bed,
I'm outta here.