Tuesday, April 28, 2015

One more month.

It's been just over a year since I semi-retired and I have to say that  I'm still in a period of adjustment. I don't have the money coming in that I used to. I'm not crying poor mouth because I did save during the 43 years I worked for this company. I'm glad that the person who informed me when I had become eligible for a 401k plan and how it would be a good idea to put money away for the eventuality of retirement, talked me into it. Now I'm still working part time, not so much for the money but to maintain my health benefits until I can get it from the government at 65. I will still have to purchase health insurance because it is mandatory in Massachusetts to have coverage. I think the number of insured people here is 96 or 97%. I am also grateful that I chose to work for this company. At the time it was the Cadillac of supermarkets in greater Boston. They were quite innovative. They were the first market to offer there employees a retirement fund as they were non union. We were the best paid. They were the first supermarket to package their meats and offer a bundle pick-up. That meant you paid for your groceries, the bags were put in in a tub on a conveyer belt which disappeared into the bowels of the store. You got in your car, drove to the side of the store and they would magically appear and someone loaded them into your car. This always fascinated me as a kid. They were a wonderful company to work for. The original family who started the company in 1915 are the ones who are responsible for the 4th of July concerts with the Boston Pops by the Charles River. The story goes that one of the family was friendly with Arthur Fiedler and one day they were sitting in a car drinking some Dunkin' Donuts coffee when he presented his idea to Fiedler and how he wanted to  end the concert with the 1812 Overture synchronized with fireworks. This has become a Boston tradition. As I said they were a wonderful company. There have been many owners since those days and up until two years ago they nearly killed it. Now they're desperately trying to revive it after changing the name of almost all of the stores to a name that wasn't very prominent around here. Some genius said, Hey the Star Market name has a history around here. Lets change the name back. I hope they are successful though I'm going to quit completely in a year and a half. I have had enough. At that point it will be 46 years with them.

Arlene and I are desperately looking forward to our vacation at the end of May into June. You know where we're going. We haven't tired of this place yet. The people in the hotel know us. They think we're married and always have a bottle of wine waiting in the room for us. It's always addressed to Mr. and Mrs. ----------. It always gives us a chuckle. We have the same routine every time we get there. We usually arrive on the island at 9 or 9:30 and check in time is 3 p.m. They remind us of that and we say, "Not a problem." We leave our things and walk downtown, such as it is, and have breakfast at the same spot, Linda Jeans, and wander around ending up at the ocean. They always manage to get us in early anyway.

So here's a slide show from 2011. I have posted some of these pictures before but not all of them. We have spent some time over the last couple of weeks looking at the videos and pictures and it just calms us down and making us wish we could live there. Unfortunately we can't afford to live there but we are lucky that we can go there a couple of times a year.

So here's our trip to the Vineyard in September 2011. 



I'm outta here.
Oh and one more thing here is an email from our dear friend Beth from this passed Christmas. What a sweetie!

 Merry Christmas Paul.  It is a bright sunny day here in central Illinois.  I will be having my Christmas with the kids on Saturday.  I didn't buy presents this year so I am giving money instead.
I am feeling a bit better each day and I thank God for that.

Hi to Arlene!  Enjoy life Paul, it is a precious thing.

I plan to get back to blogging  in a few weeks.  I am on Facebook.  Do you have a Facebook page?

Love,
Beth

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Beth

I was going to write about something different. My computer has been acting up the last week so I haven't been around. I just read Carole's blog and though I was sad before I am much sadder now. There's little more that I can add as all her friends have pretty much said it all. She was a special person to me here in the blogging world with always a kind or humorous comment on some of the silly things I have written. I am not a particularly religious person in terms of organized  religion but you can't help but hope she will receive a special place later on. I will hope for a miracle as that's all we can do as humans. I have missed her these last few months and I won't forget the Christmas and birthday cards, the phone conversations that I will cherish. This is the kind of person she was these are a few lines she wrote on her blog Dec. 2, 2013.

A birthday and an anniversary…
Happy Birthday to my friend Paul in the Boston area.  If you have a minute please stop by and wish him a happy birthday.  Paul has been my friend for most of my 8 plus blogging years.  I am sure Arlene is taking him out to a super duper place to celebrate!
It is very easy for me to remember Paul’s birthday as it falls on the date of my wedding anniversary some 50 odd years ago.  
 
Here are a few more pictures of Beth and family members.
 
Beth in the 3rd grade.
 

Beth and her sisters. Beth is on the right.
Beth and her sister Ebby.

Beth and her husband Jim.
Beth and her sister in law.
Beth and her brother in law.
 At this point I am really at a loss for words. All I can say is, Beth, although we never met in person, your friendship was important to me and I considered you a good and close friend.
I love you Beth,
Paul


Monday, April 20, 2015

A cool, rainy marathon day.

The winners of all the categories have already crossed the finish line as I write this. First of all I can't imagine running much less walking 26 miles. There were 30,000 runners. At the beginning of the race it was estimated there were about a million people lining the route. Not that many at this point as it is rainy, windy and about 43 degrees. There is also a Red Sox game traditionally at 11 a.m. on marathon day but I don't think it was played out due to the rain but I could be wrong. So all in all Boston is crowded to begin with but I'm glad I don't have to be there today. I'm just staying put today. I don't have any reason to go out. Yesterday was a nicer day and originally Arlene and I were going to take a ride to Gloucester just to be by the ocean. We could have driven to Revere which is only about 6 or 7 miles east of here, but Good Harbor in Gloucester is a beautiful beach where I spent much time in the '70's. That was not to be as it would be cooler by the ocean so Arlene nixed that idea. Instead we just drove around town, parts I haven't been in in years. Despite all the people living around here there has been much wooded land left undeveloped. We eventually ended up at a dog park. A place where people can unleash their dogs and let them run around free. They were fetching balls, playing keep away from each other with a stick. They were quite amusing. After that we went for a bite to eat. I have been craving a cheeseburger for 2 weeks

Arlene told me something I was not aware of. Her daughter had been assisting the wheelchair competitors in the marathon the last several years. Helping them at the staging area before the race or at the finish line. For some reason she decided not to go in 2013. She would have been near the finish line. Talk about a prudent decision at the right time. I can't imagine how things would have been had there been two casualties of the bombings in the same neighborhood not to mention what it would have been like for Arlene and her family.
Ok here's us driving, actually Arlene driving for a change, around our hometown. The part where we don't live. Just a tad pricey. So what else is new. I had a problem posting the video on this blog for some reason. More than likely it was too large a file. So I ended up splitting it in two. First us just driving around town, then the dogs romping around the park and finally a few clips from television of todays marathon.




Well this thing has taken an eternity to put together between uploading problems and a computer problem that I seem to have finally overcome. So that's it. Over and out.
I'm outta here. 


 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Those were the days...

That was a title of an old Cream song as it was of the Mary Hopkins song, both in 1968, or the theme song from All in the Family but  Nookworms blog about her youth inspired me to think about my early youth in the '50s and the '60s. A lot of what she wrote was similar to my recollections. We didn't have the technology that we have today. We did have television, which at the time was in it's infancy, but still was a pretty incredible thing. I remember watching I love Lucy when it was on as a regularly scheduled program, Monday nights. I remember watching the Honeymooners which was always and still is a favorite of mine. I remember walking to school. We lived very close. I remember my kindergarten teacher who was also my 3rd grade teacher and later my piano teacher. We would go out and play during the summer and wouldn't go home until you heard your mother hollering for you to come home for lunch or supper or curfew. We rode our bikes around. Kick ball, whiffle ball, stick ball in the street. The telephone pole was first base, the manhole cover second and so on. Tag, hide and seek, digging holes in the dirt and getting completely filthy. It was a time of the polio scare and I knew a girl who had it. I remember having a plethora of childhood maladies from chicken pox, measles, ruptured appendix, an eye operation and scarlet fever during the families first trip to Italy in 1956. We were there for almost 3 months. I would get killer colds that would knock me for a loop, I especially remember having walking pneumonia. It would seem that I was a sickly child but I really wasn't. Then at a point in my teens I stopped getting colds and truthfully I don't think I've had a cold since sometime in the 1960's. I have been quite lucky to be so healthy in my adult life. As Nookworm said in her blog, I really don't see kids playing outdoors anymore. Their lives are much more structured and of course they have much more technology than just television. Now to be perfectly honest if all this stuff was around when I was young I would probably be doing the exact same thing. It was a simpler time. I remember the testing of air raid sirens every Saturday which would be really scary and creepy. Things are much more complicated these days. When I am stopped at a light and I see the person in front of me with their head down I know they're texting. When I was driving back then, well not in the '60s, if someone had their head down they were either asleep, dead, or more than likely rolling a joint. I may have done that once or twice.

Still I have to say I had a happy childhood. I was lucky to grow up when I did. The world was still in turmoil. It always has been, we just have much more sophisticated...well everything today. I still remember seeing Nikita Krushev saying to America, "We will bury you!" The nuclear arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States was pretty scary as well.

The marathon is Monday. I have never gone to the marathon to see it but I have been there on marathon day a few times because I was working at one of our stores which is in the Prudential complex on Boylston St. in downtown Boston. The finish line was not far from the front door of the store.
    No matter what your shift was, unless it was overnight, which I have also worked, you weren't going home for quite a while. But that was ok because this was a big event and it was pretty neat to witness runners going by the front of the store towards the finish line though I never saw a winner cross it. The crowds were large and the store was busy. I will be off on Monday but I have no desire to go to Boston. It can be one big pain in the ass normally speaking, though it's only 5 or 6 miles away.  Here's a shot of Boston from across the street from where I used to live about a half mile from where I live now.


Well that's it for this episode. I have to hit the hay as I do have to work tomorrow. The less I work the less I want to work. I have been working for 47 years. I find that hard to believe, but it is what it is and it's better than being dead. And on that cheery note...
I'm outta here.  
 
 
  

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

My friend Beth

For those of you who have known me since the days of Spaces you might also know my friend Beth. She has been battling cancer for a while now. I received some emails from another friend from Spaces who is now also on Blogger, Carole. I called Carole because Beth requested that she get in touch with me. This is when I found out this troubling news though I knew that she was not well for a while. Beth has been absent from Blogger for a while. She has posted updates from time to time on her condition. Beth is a wonderful person who doesn't deserve this malady but this is what she has to deal with. It would be pointless for me to put a link to her blog because she's not blogging at the moment. However if you know Beth please keep her in your thoughts and prayers and if you are a friend from the days of Spaces or know both her and me from blogger you can contact me personally and I can fill you in on what I know. I have gotten to know her over the last 5 plus years and have formed a wonderful relationship with her. All I ask is that you keep her in you thoughts and prayers. You won't meet a nicer person.

Get well Beth.
Paul

Monday, April 13, 2015

Lovely Sunday.

The weather finally broke and we had a lovely day. It hit 70 degrees and the sky was a clear blue. Arlene and I had decided to take a day trip like we used to do a couple of years ago. We decided to go to the ocean. In reality the ocean is only 6 miles away. We could have been there in about 15 or 20 minutes depending on traffic. As it turns out everybody else had the same idea. In reality I wanted to go to Gloucester. It's about 48 miles away but it's all highway and it would have taken a bit longer but Good Harbor is one of my favorite beaches. I spent a good deal of time there in the '70s as my friends parents had a house there. A home that was in their family for several generations. It's built on the side of a hill so that from the front it appears to be a small one floor cottage but in reality the land slopes down behind the house and it actually has 3 floors. As I said I spent a good deal of time in the '70s. The beach was a 3 or 4 minute walk from the cottage. One amusing memory is though the cottage was built on a hill the only place you could see the ocean from the house was from the toilet seat. 

Well we set out on the nearby highway that heads north. 4 or 5 miles up the highway traffic came to a crawl then it halted. By turning on the local news station we found out there was an accident about 2 miles further on. We ended up getting off the highway and headed back deciding to go to a local recreational area. We are fortunate. Though this is a densely populated area we have several bodies of water in my hometown including a river that flows into Boston Harbor. Way back when, much wooded land was set aside for recreation so though this is a cramped, congested area we are fortunate to have some nice outdoor areas. We just wanted to be outdoors and enjoy the wonderful weather.
This is part of Good Harbor Beach. That's Turtle Island in the distance. This was taken about 10 years ago.
The rest of the beach.
 
  So we ended up going to the local lakes about a mile and a half from here. It was nice just being outdoors after the particularly awful month of February. There's is little trace of the 9 feet of snow we received. Good riddance!

This little video was just us enjoying the beautiful day.  
After the lovely afternoon we decided to have a bite to eat then hit the liquor store for a bottle of wine to enjoy on Arlene's porch as the sun goes down. Although the porch faces west there are many houses and trees in the way for a good picture. So we went into the store to check out the wine and what do we see?

Yup. Boston Red Sox wine. Now the Red Sox are a money making machine. The owner, John Henry, is quite wealthy and he's not hurting for cash. Well my curiosity got the better of me and I bought it. It was a cabernet sauvignon and it was quite good. Now it may sound like I know what I'm talking about when it comes to wine, I don't. If I like it I like it. Arlene is much more knowledgeable about wine than I am and she was surprised how good it was. It wasn't all that expensive at $14.99. I rarely spend more than that if I buy a bottle. Usually less. All this dovetails neatly with Red Sox home opener which is today. They are 4 wins and 2 losses so far just finishing up a series with the New York Yankees in which they won 2 out of 3. If you're a Sox fan you enjoy a win over the Yankees more than any other team. It's such a great rivalry.

So that was our Sunday. Today is just as nice as yesterday though I have no major plans. Just the usual mundane household tasks. That's all for now, over and out.

I'm outta here.      

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Easter Sunday was nice and the verdict.

No really Easter was nice. I had to attend 3 different locations but aside from driving to my sister's house, which took about 4 minutes, then driving back, into the driveway and walk next door to Arlene's, go to the third floor where she lives. Then down to the first floor where her brother and family live. It was crowded with children ranging from 1 year to 12. Their parents then my generation, which is now the grandparents generation. Arlene and I were the oldest people there. I didn't think about this until I started writing this entry. I can imagine some extended family member who I had not met asking, "Hey who's the old bastard in the chair?"

Then there were the 3 dogs. Mid size dogs with three different personalities. One very shy and retiring. The next, friendly and he calmly hung around with us while the third was a character. He had a lot of energy and was quite friendly. His name was Nico. As soon as Nico discovered that I knew the best spots to scratch we were buddies. He tried to lick me to death then jumped on my lap and he's no lap dog. He must go 40 lbs. plus. The one and two year olds were cute and well behaved and quite entertaining. 

I ended up leaving the third floor with a doggie bag consisting of a cannoli, 4 Italian style anise cookies, very much like my mother used to make. I had to refuse a few other tasty items then back up to Arlene's. We settled in the living room and ended up watching The Ten Commandments. One of her daughters was doing some important stuff on her laptop. She's the one attending Harvard. I never thought I would know someone attending Harvard after graduating from Tufts. I'm at the point in life that has told me, what she is shooting for with all this education, is something that she has explained to me before and will explain to me again. All I can say is it is connected to the computer and teaching and that's all I need to know at this point. Her other daughter showered and went to bed.

So we watched the rest of the movie. I have to say it was quite amusing. Now let's not get our religious undies in a bunch. I'm only talking about the movie. It was a big, 1950's Hollywood production with Charlton Heston Edward G. Robinson, Anne Baxter, Yul Brenner, Yvonne De Carlo and so on. There was much over acting, corny dialog, seemingly silly casting, particularly with Edward G. Robinson. I couldn't help but think of him as a gangster see! All he needed was a cigar stub in his mouth. It was a very colorful film and you could see that they spent money on the sets. The dialog was easy pickens and we chuckled our way until near the end, relatively speaking, It was a long movie, on for around 4 hours.

I left Arlene's with another doggie bag of pizza, lasagna and 4 frittatas. I'm not sure if it's Italian, Mexican, Spanish or what. There are many similar words as all three are Latin based. Any way my mother made some thing very similar with eggs, asparagus and who knows what else. The only real difference is size. My mother made them frying pan size on a burner and Arlene's daughter made them in the oven in a small cup cake pan. I can add all that to the 2 pieces of ricotta pie and hunk of chocolate cake from my sister. 

When I got home there was still about 40 minutes left in the movie and I watched the rest. I can enjoy a movie for several reasons. I can flat out just like it or like something about it or it can so bad that it's actually quiet amusing. I used to go to a theater in Cambridge in the late 70's early 80's that would show these films from time to time. So bad they're good. When I was a kid we used to get laughs from all the bad American and Japanese science fiction movies. Almost all of the Godzilla movies except for the first one, which scared the crap out of me when I was a kid. It was made in 1955 or 56 and I saw it a couple of years later on TV. 

So it was a fairly long, but good day. It was nice to see a big family crowd at Arlene's brother's place. I first ate the anise cookies the next day. Then a few hours later I went back for the cannoli and it was spectacular. None of this food is real good for you but it is so good.

As has become my habit here on blogger, a blog may be written over several days. Such is the case with this entry. I was ready to publish but then  while I was out running a few errands I heard that the jury in the Boston Marathon trial had come back with their verdict. It was as everybody expected, guilty on all counts. It's hard to put feelings into words. You react to these horrific events that have happened here and throughout the rest of the country on different levels. From having it happen near you to being directly affected by it. As I have said before I did not know any of the people killed or injured but it turned out I did have some sort of connection through Arlene because her kids knew and went to school with Krystle Campbell. As children they played at each others homes. So by a couple of degrees of removal it did affect me. As I drove home today I once again passed by The Campbell family home knowing that they were all in the court room in Boston, only 6 or so miles away. We have always lived in scary times but now with these kind attacks on our home turf, you really have to wonder about what could happen no matter where you go. Scary times indeed.

I didn't intend to end on this kind of note but you never know how things can twist and turn. So I'll finish up by saying weather wise it's pretty crappy. If I were a weatherman I'd call it partly crappy with increasing crappyness tonight, followed by widely scattered crap in the morning. We're even getting a bit of snow. How nice.

I'm outta here.


                          

Monday, April 6, 2015

Snow, the President, my cell phone, coffee

Though the vast majority of the snow is gone, there are still big ugly piles of it in empty lots. Arlene and I are really getting antsy for vacation. The last time we had any time off was last September. I'm sure all the snow in February exacerbated these feelings. Now it's true we have both been semi-retired for just about a year, there still is a period of lifestyle adjustment, at least for me. Now let me just say I know I'm just whining. I don't have any major beefs. Things could be much worse for me. Still I now work three days a week. That's four days off. There are days when I'm not really thrilled that I have to work the next day and then there are days when I don't mind. What the heck? I'm out at 2 p.m. Still 9' of snow in about five weeks had made things rough.

Every once in a while at work, the word gets around that the president is coming, no, not of the U.S. It is quite amusing to watch all the managers run around. All in a mild state of panic. "Dust this! Fill that shelf! Get rid of that! Samples! Samples!"

And it has been scientifically proven, by my reckoning, that in 82% of the time, they never show. The managers spend payroll that they've saved. The more they save the bigger the bonus check. I told my boss that I refused to get into tizzy. I've seen this routine many times over the years. I'll do whatever they want me to do I'm just not going to get frantic. It's almost like Paul Revere. The store manager (Now called a store director. Well pardon me while I play the grand piano.) should go about the store on a power jack shouting, "To brooms! To mops! The President is coming! The President is coming!"  

As I was sitting home letting my car warm up before work, because we've still had below 30 degree mornings, my cell phone (a cheap one) in my pocket was apparently making a call. "What the #&%%**!!!" 
I quickly shut it off. It appeared that my name tag was inserted between the flip phone. Somehow, just by my movement in the chair, the name tag pressed 3 buttons in perfect order. From picking  the phone book, then picking a number and then dialing it.
I put the phone back in my pocket. A minute later my house phone rings. It's my youngest sister wanting to know if I just had called her. She was in the shower. She first called my other sister to see if she called. They then assumed I called and maybe "ass dialed". A term that I had never heard but understood what it meant. I however did not have the phone in my back pocket, I had it in a front pocket so I guess I thigh dialed. It is an exciting life.

I have never been to Starbucks and I never go to Dunkin' Donuts, well only if I have to. I guess I'm pretty old fashioned. I prefer a small mom and pop kind of place. The coffee is at least just as good and the donuts are always better instead of just being sort of doughnutty. The Dunkin's are everywhere around here. It's like a rash. Then we Have Starbucks. They've been around here for a while now. There's one in my store of employment. It always struck me as a bit pretentious. The "coffee Shoppe" for the hip people. Cambridge is the perfect city for Starbucks. Now I'm not saying all 100,000 people are pretentious, pompous twits, but there is a large group of them. Cambridge has its regular people neighborhoods but the influence of Harvard and M.I.T. is evident where I work. So we have a Starbucks in our store.
It's the hip place were you can buy a Venti (a large for us regular folks) latte for more than a gallon of gas at $4.60 something. The coffee sizes are listed as small, is a tall, medium is a grande' and large is Venti. I'll bet some people buy a grande' just because they like to hear themselves say, " I'll have a "Grahhnde'! ".

So Starbucks wants to introduce a dialog on race to it's customers as they buy their coffee and their little foo chi chi sweet. At least Dunkin Donuts still serves donuts, well they're donut like. So while a person is trying to buy their coffee the clerk, wait, I'm sorry, the "barista" is supposed to write something positive about race on the cup or engage you in a conversation.
Black people in particular weren't overjoyed with this effort. One woman said, and I'm paraphrasing here. "I don't have time to explain 400 years of history. Just give me the damn coffee." Well said.
Maybe this campaign was started with the best of intentions but if it was, it was shortsighted and na├»ve. Or maybe it was a deliberate business move and they misjudged their clientele. Maybe, or the company was more full of itself than they thought their customers were.

Here locally after the just mentioned episode comes the story, at least here, that Starbucks has been "redlining" certain areas of Boston. That is sectioning off areas where they won't build, or charge more. Banks are usually accused of this, concerning loans. Now nothing has been proven and little has been said of it since though it came to light within the last week. To be fair it is still just an accusation, but it has got people talking. At this point Starbucks doesn't need any more bad publicity. I personally don't care if a Starbucks opens up in my local square but it will be surely outnumbered by several Dunkin' Donuts, a breakfast place, an Italian pastry shop, a real donut shop and an ice cream place that serves breakfast. Then there are the restaurants, a roast beef place, a sub shop, Chinese and Indian restaurants and so on. It's pretty cramped there. So good luck to 'em.

To end on a more pleasant note here are two shots from Cape Cod.


I'm outta here.