Monday, February 23, 2015

A day of reflection

Yesterday was quite warm. It hit around 40 degrees after days of temps in the teens, single digits and around zero. That is changing again today. I went to the dentist this morning and it was 29. This was still quite balmy compared to how it's been but it is on the way down again tonight and will be in the single digits by tomorrow morning. At the moment it is quite sunny but the wind is picking up. I can feel the cold through the window. I was going to buy tires after the dentist but I just didn't feel like doing any more driving than I had to. The main roads are fine but it is the residential area's that are difficult. Trying to see around 7 and 8 foot piles of snow to see if anybody is coming is a trial and while driving on the main roads you have to be on the lookout for people coming out of side streets. Most just inch out which is understandable because you just don't know if anybody is coming. It's the morons who continue to drive like there's no snow and they're just going to make their turn traffic be damned. We do have the reputation of being notoriously aggressive drives around here or just plain bad. I think the roads contribute to this. But I do think we have more than our share of bad drivers. I am proud of the many things that have come out of this area. It's really an impressive list. From the first college to the first public schools, the revolution that gave birth to the country, to the first liquid fueled rockets, the industrial revolution, to the computer and the internet to mention a few. Driving not so much. As I have said before some of these roads date back to the 1600's. Cow paths is what they sometimes refer to them as. We have some buildings and homes in my hometown that date back to the 1600's, 1700's and 1800's. Arlene and I just prefer to think about scenes like this. It's only a few months away.

It's almost been about a year since Arlene and I have semi-retired and I think we're still in a period of adjustment. You have to fill up the time that used to be taken up by work. Staying home sure beats working but you can't just sit in front of the TV or a computer all day. So yesterday I continued to sort things out in my own home. Even though it was "warm" and sunny out I had no desire to go anywhere. I decided to go through more pictures that I have taken over the last 10 years and put them in better order. I have a lot of pictures stored on discs and I do mean a lot. I first separated all the Martha's Vineyard pictures and put them off on their own. I scanned a few more family pictures in Here are two shots of my great grandmother and grandfather on my mothers side. These had to be taken in the 1800's sometime because I know my grandfathers were born around 1887.

 Then here's a shot from 1968 when my dad went back to the old country. It's both my grand fathers on one of their farms. I'm not sure who's farm it is. The one on the right is the son of the above people.
All this has put me in a more reflective mood. I have entered a new phase of my life. My great grand parents are long gone. My grandmothers both passed in the late 50's and my grandfathers made it until 1980.  As I am aging I think back on my family and there is nobody left save for one aunt back in Italy and she has to be in her late 80's. I came across this photo from my uncle Sam's funeral back in 2011. Here's a shot from before I was born of my parents, uncles and aunt. On the right are my parents, then my mothers sister Tina and here husband Joe. Kneeling in front is my mothers brother Sam. He was in the army at the time. I do know it's after WWII.
So all that are left are my generation of siblings, and cousins both here in the U.S., Italy and Australia. I've never met the ones in Australia and only met my cousins in Italy in 1956 when we went there though my aunt and uncle from Australia did come to the States back in the 80's. They did a kind of world tour, first going to Italy then coming here. I know I've posted this picture before but it's my cousin and me in Italy back in 1956. That's me on the left, I don't remember my cousin's name in the middle and my cousin on the right is named Benedetto or I'm assuming in English that would be Benjamin.

 I was and still am reflecting on the past as I get older. Now I'm not feeling sorry for myself. I am a lucky guy. I'm in a wonderful relationship and though I'm not living in the lap of luxury I'm doing ok. Still it's a time in my life where I reflect on the past and miss the people that have gone before and how hard they had it. Especially my grandparents. Both grand fathers came to this country sometime between 1900 and 1920. My mothers parent both came and my mother was born here. They went back and the war broke out. Only my father's father came here, worked and sent money back before he went back. After watching the ongoing PBS series "The Italians" did I fully realize how tough it was for those people. They weren't exactly welcomed with open arms but what made the Italians finally succeed was the fact that they valued the family most of all. They stuck together. That's why we have the wonderful enclave of Italians in the North End of Boston where you have a ton of restaurants and bakeries in a relatively small area. You won't find better Italian food anywhere, even Italy. 

I didn't know that the first place the Italians immigrated to was not New York, Boston or any other east coast city, It was New Orleans where they replaced the black slaves who were "freed" some 20 or so years before. The picked sugar cane for meager wages and were essentially slaves and treated horribly. My grand fathers came to Boston and worked as laborers. Then went back. By the time my parents came in the late 1940's there was already a small community of people from that little town in Italy in the area. Though they still faced some prejudice it was booming times for the country and they found their place in America. I am in no means comparing their experience to what blacks went through but it still wasn't easy for any of them to uproot from their homeland and come here, learn a new language and become citizens.

So that's it kiddies. There's still much to do but I do have the time and in the future when I can fully retire, I plan to enjoy my life as much as I can because in the end it's finite. To all that came before me I salute them. They were exceptional people and through their hard work and sacrifice I am able to live a fairly comfortable life and I thank them.

I'm outta here.      

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Y'ever get a phone call from yourself?

No really. Have you ever heard the phone ring and you look at the little screen to see who it's from and your name and number appear? Of course I pretended I wasn't home because I didn't want to talk to myself. I do enough of that already. I waited to hear my message but nothing was said. So I guess I hung on myself not really wanting to say anything to me.

Aside from all the above nonsense this has happened twice. I have never answered it. Who knows what might be the cause or the reason. While writing this a little light went on in my head. I thought, "Why not Google this and see what turns up?"

So I did and it was just as I suspected. A scam. Especially these days, a person has to be very aware of ever increasingly clever scams. Though truth be told this one seems ridiculous. Why or more importantly, how on earth would this be possible? Why would you not know that something was wrong when your own number appears on the phone that is the phone that is supposedly placing the call? 

Well that was my morning excitement. I am off today and have a few in house things to do of which I have done none yet. Yesterday was a long day made longer with just getting around. I took my friend Dave to the supermarket again. I really don't mind helping him and I had a few things I had to buy myself. I never really go food shopping in the traditional sense because I have worked in a supermarket for (on April 1st of all days) 44 years, so leaving a supermarket to go to a supermarket to shop is a little different for me. Dave's pick-up had to be coordinated so that he be waiting for me outside as soon as I got to his house. It's a two way street which normally can accommodate two cars traveling in opposite directions with cars parked on both sides. Not now. It's still two way but you better pray nobody is coming in the other direction. Here' the 45 second ride down Winter Street to a waiting Dave.

  This was taken Monday morning after the most recent clean up.

As you can see in the video the snow was much cleaner a couple of days ago. That window on the left is my living room window. This is the part of year where you just grin and bear it. I heard a TV report that we have more snow than anchorage Alaska. So I guess in a strange way we should take it as a feather in our caps so we can muddle through or, if you'll excuse my phraseology, "plow" through this.

I'm outta here.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Feb. 15, 2015 Morning update, 7' of snow.

What can you say, so far we have had about 7 feet of snow in 3 weeks. We only got about a foot of snow in this latest round. It's very light. I haven't been outside yet and don't plan on it until tomorrow. It is windy, at last viewing of the TV it's gusting around 40 mph around here. There are people out shoveling and snow blowing as I write this and it's maybe 14 degrees.
This was taken about 10 am this morning. That's my car behind the pointy snow pile in the lower right hand corner of the picture and Arlene's behind mine. The wind is much worse along the coast and it's not that far away from here. Maybe 5 miles. Things wind wise are much worse on the Cape. Everybody is fine though, all the family and friend phone calls have been made and everybody is doing ok. We are all stocked up and hunkered down. Though this is an unprecedented snowfall in such a short time it's part of the deal around here. Here are some clips from television this morning, taken with my little 5 mega pixel camera, both local and from the Weather Channel.

 Ah what can you say? Well nature commands that you sit back and all normalcy stops then you sit back. You hunker down. You get to stay home and maybe think about all that is good about your life. This will all be gone eventually and with spring, a rebirth. Arlene and I will once again begin taking our little trips and take an actual vacation, and be thankful that we can weather the storm and enjoy some of the good things in life. I remember Arlene asking a relative of hers who lives in California and was saying how they couldn't live around here and deal with the winter, "What challenges you people?" And that's what this is, a challenge. Truthfully nobody likes what's going on here at the moment but we'll get through it. It's not the first time this has happened and it won't be the last. So now it's time for me to grab some lunch. Chicken cutlets sounds good.

I'm outta here.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Just waiting...

Yes we're all sitting around waiting for the next installment snowmageddon. We are approaching 7 feet of snow in a month. That would seem to be more appropriate for Alaska. Sure we get snow in the winter. That's part of the deal around here. I suppose the ski areas love this, except for the fact that few people will be able to get to the ski areas, at least for the next few days. The snow begins tonight at about 7 pm. More worrying than the snow are the hurricane force winds. As long as we don't lose power we'll deal with the snow. Where to put it is the real problem. Shoveling a foot of snow is really not a big deal normally. It's just part of the deal. There are 8 foot piles of snow on either side of the driveway making backing out an adventure. Locally the city has widened the main roads but the side streets are a different story. I have a friend who has a heart condition. His car is buried in his driveway. He had to get the supermarket and the pharmacy. Though he has a supermarket about an 5 minute walk from his house under normal conditions these aren't normal conditions. This was last Tuesday. I am very familiar with his neighborhood as I grew up around the corner. Dave lives on a two way side street. As I made the turn onto his street I prayed that nobody was coming down in the opposite direction. I had prearranged by phone for him to be outside so that the pick up could be as quick as possible as there was just enough room for one car. My street is a bit wider than his so that if you encounter a car traveling in the opposite direction there is space to squeeze by each other. Not so on the aptly named Winter St. It was akin to driving down a canyon of snow with 7 or 8 foot piles of snow on each side. Fortunately nobody was coming the other way. And despite the congested traffic we accomplished our tasks.
Then there's the cold. As I opened my gas bill there was all this information on how I had used more gas than normal and that I should turn my thermostat down to save money. As far as I'm concerned this is stupid when the temperature is somewhere between 20 degrees and 0. No matter what you set the thermostat once the indoor temperature drops below the setting on goes the heat. And my guess is that whether you set it at 70, 68 or 60 degrees as soon as the indoor temperature drops below the set temp the furnace will turn on. So why should I walk around my house in a winter coat when the outside temperature is in the single digits and my heat will run continuously no matter what I set it at. So I tell the gas company to shut up and be grateful that I can pay my bill.
Last night I made the mistake of falling asleep early while watching TV. This meant that I would be up late. Fortunately I didn't have to work but I was awake until 2 in the morning. I decided to go back to going through my pictures and organize them in a better fashion. I started back in 2008. Most of these pictures have been posted before both here and on Spaces but what the heck. So here are 4 slide shows that I have put together. There are local shots and shots from the various trips Arlene and I have taken both here and in New Hampshire and Maine. I made the first one last night, actually early this morning. I was getting bleary eyed but I wanted to finish the first one before I went to bed. I made a few goofs like using a comma instead of a period. Screwing up the titles by numbering them wrong. Still they are placed here in the proper order.
Apart from all that I am cozy and warm with enough food to carry me for several days. Tonight Arlene invited me to dinner. I will supply the wine or beer depending on what we're having. Ok I have been in front of this computer screen long enough. Maybe I'll watch some television. For me it's the easiest way to take a nap.
I'm outta here.     

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Oh well

What can you say about the weather? Oh I can think of something. It really sucks! And yet snow is nothing new around here and for the most part you accept it. It's part of living in this area. It's my home. And despite all the things that can drive you mad I wouldn't live any place else, unless of course I hit the lottery. Then I would buy a place somewhere warm or warmish most of the time. By warmish I mean no colder than 40 degrees, and it has to be near the ocean. I would still live here, maybe a bit west of Boston. It still gives relatively good access to Boston, the ocean or the mountains. Not that I've been to the mountains much. Only 3 times. Mt. Washington being the most memorable. 

So what can I say about the weather. I can say that we're going to receive about another foot of snow. Apart from 1978, this only the second time this type of event has occurred in my lifetime. It has happened in the recorded past. Around 100 years ago give or take a decade or so. Normally we get a snow storm 6, 8, 10 inches. It looks pretty for a day or two. Then it starts to get dirty. Then maybe you got another moderate amount and so on through the winter. This time it's a challenge. 

Driving, walking or getting anywhere is quite a challenge. Never mind that, people who use public transportation probably are probably having the worst time. Understandably this is an overwhelming amount of snow in a very short time and it would be very difficult to maintain  top service under these conditions. The public transportation service might like to tout they were the first in the nation but the amount of aging equipment that broke down including track failure, buses breaking down in the middle of streets and an entire subway line shutting down, stranding thousands people.

I have often said that my drive to work is only 5 miles. There are more buses on the road than usual to take the place of the shutdown subway line. Add in the pedestrian traffic, people taking cars instead public transportation and all the snow and it really can be quite annoying. Another strange event is the upcoming Boat Show. Someone towing a 47 foot yacht for the show took the a wrong turn somewhere and ended up on the downtown streets and got stuck in a snow bank trying to make a turn. None of these pictures are mine. The farthest I will travel in the next several days is next door to Arlene's. I'm not insane.


So I find myself a bit more relaxed this evening. I worked 3 days. That's all and yet the from the moment I left the house until the moment I pulled onto the driveway it was one high energy/annoying 3 days. For me shoveling more snow is the better alternative to having to go anywhere. Fortunately I am off until next Tuesday and who knows maybe Tuesday as well.

So we all grin and bear it because in a couple of months it will go back to being the pain in the ass to get around place that we all here really love.

I'm outta here.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Snowzilla update

What can I say? The photo below is a composite. You thought we had a lot of snow last week. The one on the right is from this passed Sunday. This winter, well actually the last two weeks has been brutal. We have surpassed 1978, which until the last two weeks was legendary. To be sure it was rough, but this is something else. It will snow until early Tuesday and it is cold. There is more snow in the near future. Where I live I am right on the snow line meaning we could receive 16-24 more inches of snow.

Now more than ever do Arlene and I long for this.
Well it will be a few months before we can enjoy this scene. Right now it's 7 a.m. and snow is falling lightly but quite steady and it will continue until tonight. I have more shoveling in my future but not right now.
This is a little video from yesterday. The people next door hired someone to clear the front of their house, dumping the snow in their front yard.
This was a few days ago before the latest round of snowfall. I had an errand to run and thought to get it out of the way before the snow began once again. For the most part the roads were in good shape. You will also notice that I called someone and idiot during my drive. Oh well. I had to cut the video in half because it seemed to be too long for blogger. I did not upload it to YouTube. 
I don't know if the videos will work or not. I won't know until I publish. Okee dokee I think I'll have another cup of coffee, maybe do some housework and prepare for some more shoveling later this afternoon.
 I'm outta here...but not until later. 


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Live from the arctic circle...

Where do you put all this snow? We've had more snow in one week than we've ever had in a whole year.
Now before I continue I have to mention that I have had computer problems again. While I was in the middle of writing this post or uploading a video, playing a game or just cruising the web the computer just shuts down. I did manage to upload a video (below) and I accidently published a blog instead of saving it. I never finished it. At this point it's late Sunday morning and guess what? It's snowing. By Tuesday we could get another 2 feet of snow. I have yet to go out and shovel. It's not snowing hard. It's not a blizzard like last week but it will continue until Tuesday. I guess it is what it is. At least the Patriots won.   

As you can guess driving around in this stuff is not fun. Until today the roads were in good shape. The big problem for me and I suppose everybody else are the giant piles of snow at the end of streets. You cannot see if anybody is coming on your left or right. Another fun exercise is driving down two way streets. You pray nobody comes in the opposite direction. But despite it all people seem to have taken all this in least up until now. What can you do? It's nature. Still the thought of having around 5 feet of snow by Tuesday is not real comforting. The city and the state are running out of space to put any snow they have removed. The law prevents them from dumping it into the ocean because of pollution concerns. When I last went to work on Thursday almost half the parking lot was taken by giant piles of snow. I can't imagine what it will look like when I go back on Tuesday.

Ok. I'm getting mighty hungry. I think I'll make a pasta, chicken and vegetable dish then I'm going to have to go outside and clean up the snow that has fallen so far. Ugh!

I'm outta here.