Thursday, May 28, 2015

T minus 3 days... least as of this writing. As per usual I probably won't finish tonight as it's already 9:10 p.m. and I've been up since 5 a.m. blah blah blah. Today was my last day of work for 10 days. Arlene is already off but she has been busy the last few days with her daughter graduating from Harvard! She has already graduated from Tufts University and now Harvard! Of course Arlene is very proud of her daughter and all she has accomplished. I've only known one other person who attended Harvard but that was just after high school a while back.

Arlene attended some kind of ceremony on Wednesday at the school. That was an all day affair and today (Thursday) the actual graduation was held. As I drove down Massachusetts Avenue, know locally as Mass. Ave, on my way to work today at 6:30 a.m. or so, there were people here and there walking towards Harvard Square in their cap and gowns. I wish I had a camera handy especially as I drove home. What a crush of people about in that fairly small square. It was almost as bad yesterday. The very front of the Harvard gates is where two, two lane roads merge. It's a battle to make sure you get in or stay in your proper lane. It can be a major pain in the buttockical region. The whole area was a mass of people. Still it is a little exciting. There were a whole array of races of people, all smiling and excited. People from all over the world.

      I spoke to Arlene before I started writing this. She was tired but excited and happy for daughter. She told me today that the diplomas were handed out in a huge tent. It was hot and humid today, 88 degrees. It was hot and long but she said she loved it. (I suppose I could have phrased the a bit differently.) The principle speaker was the President's Secretary of Education. I forgot his name.

So we will be leaving in a few days. I still have things to do. Friday, when I'll probably finish writing this, Arlene is having a party at a local restaurant for her daughter and friends. I will be attending that. Hey, free food! On Saturday I will have take care of some loose ends and be ready to hit the road Sunday at 6 a.m. Arlene doesn't like me mentioning the long range weather forecast. The first 3 days will bring rain of varying the  percentages, 40%-60%. It looks much nicer the second part of the week. There are a few specific things we'll do but for the most part it's unplanned. Perhaps we can take some kind of tour in Edgartown. I wouldn't mind touring some sea side mansions like we did a few years back in Newport Rhode Island.
I'll see if I can finagle some of the graduation pictures. I'd love to see them. I have been on a bit of the Harvard Campus but there is much more that I haven't seen. The closest I've gotten to Harvard was driving passed it.

So I think I will finish this tonight. I'm a combination of sleepy and hungry even though I had a good supper. Ah, I see the well has dried up. Good night.
I'm outta here.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pretentious? Moi?

Somebody at work asked me if I was going anywhere on my vacation. I, of course said yes, Martha's Vineyard. Then I wondered if that sounded so pretentious. Off to the Vineyard for a week. Yes there is an element on the island that are wealthy. Beautiful homes near cliffs overlooking the ocean. Private estates. Well that's not me. Still when I tell someone that I am going there I do wonder what they think. Then again they might not think anything of it. It's about a 70 or 80 minute drive, then a 45 minute ferry ride and your there. It's really not all that different than a drive to the mountains in New Hampshire. New Hampshire might not sound as snooty as "the Vineyard".
Still people like Arlene and I might seem like riff raff  to the wealthy people with summer homes there.
"Oh here they come with their Toyotas and Fords and Chevrolets How awful."  
 Actors, musicians, writers etc. have homes and a couple of presidents have vacationed there. We stay in the hotels near where the ferry docks. It's not cheap, neither is the food, but it really gets pricey on the other side in Edgartown.

 When we go to Edgartown it's mostly look but don't touch except for the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore. So you could buy a book on vacation. There are much more horrible things you can do on vacation than buy a book.

Aside from eating and sleeping most of the things we do cost nothing or next to nothing. So you have an ice cream? So what?! Going out for a nice meal while watching the sun set over the little harbor is a wonderful way to end the day. One night is to be set aside for watching the sun set at the cliffs on the other side of the island. We did this once in 2011. It was a gorgeous night. There were other people on the beach but it wasn't mobbed. Everybody had enough real estate to feel a bit isolated. Some people were drinking champagne or wine or who knows what. Arlene and I killed a bottle of wine. It was beautiful. This picture that I just posted on the last blog was taken that night in 2011.

 Another item from the "Are they nuts! Dept." It is being proposed to bring a grand prix race to Boston. This is almost nuttier than bringing the Olympics here. Almost but not quite. Still I think I heard it will take place on the south side so for me personally it would be about 15 miles away. Some sniffing around by local news organizations reveal that some local business men stand to profit greatly from this if it happens. The same is said about the Olympics. It all sounds great to showcase a city that I love but you have to be real. Boston functions despite itself. It's a compact city with some very old streets that can meander due to them being laid out in the 1600's-1700's. Within 30 miles of the center of town are 4.5 million people. Are they going to tell everybody to just stay home for the day so they can have a foolish race! I'm not against racing. I'm not against Grand Prix racing but this area cannot handle the shutting down of roads or the huge amount of tourist that would come for an Olympic game. You are now inviting the world in. And though your city may look great on an international broad cast, the havoc it would create would benefit a handful of people. If the area was set up to handle the influx of people and vehicles I would be for it. But in reality, though the area is my home and I will remain here, it's almost more European than American in design. It's a wonderful place to live. It has so much to offer but that does come at a price. Getting around at times can be a trial. Any time I want to go to Boston I won't drive though it's 2 cities over, I'll take public transportation. You can get just about anywhere in a 25 to 30 miles radius of the city by public transportation. Not that it's always fun.

So both things smell kind of fishy. New Hampshire would love the Winter Olympics. They have the snow and the mountains and about one fifth of the people that live in greater Boston. It would be great for their economy. We're doing ok here overall in Massachusetts.  The city would get some benefit from people flying into Boston and traveling north. Some would stay here, some would stay in New Hampshire. I just don't think this area is equipped to handle that kind of human traffic without hurting most it's citizens and benefitting a few. 

So what else is happening? Not much though I have begun to put aside things that I will bring with me next week. On a good day down there at this time of year, it will hit the low to mid 70's and that's just fine with me. We will probably get some rain but what can you do when you plan for it 6 months in advance. I think I will buy a few things. Nothing special. Some t-shirts and maybe another casual shirt or 2. I rarely buy clothes. I'm no clothes horse. I use 'em till I cain't use 'em n'more. Vacation is an excuse to buy some. I could go wild and buy a pair of jeans but in reality I am well set with jeans. 

Well be leaving next Sunday, May 31 at 6 a.m. The first day is loosely planned out. It's mostly a hang around and re-introduce yourself to the place. Aside from a couple of particular spots or activities not much else has been planned. It's only a week away then it's back to abnormal. It has been and will be nice and pleasant around here next week until Tuesday when it suddenly will hit the 90's, at least that has been said. Not my favorite weather, still go back a little over 2 months and we had 9' of snow on the ground. You get what you get and roll with it.

So the count down begins today, Sunday the 24th. T minus 7 days and counting.
Time to stop.
I'm outta here.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Monday, then there was Tuesday

Monday was a beautiful day. It wasn't as warm as Sunday was supposed to be. Isn't that an awkward sentence. Sunday was supposed to be warm and humid in the 80's. It hit about 75 and not all that humid. It was a beautiful. Monday was a bit cooler with a lovely blue sky. Before I go on I'd like to state that I will NOT be starting every new blog with weather conditions, I just got a bit carried away.
I called Arlene and asked her if she'd like to take a walk. She said yes but that she had to run a quick errand. OK. She runs her errand then comes to my door. We start to walk down the street stopping briefly at her house next door. Arlene's house is what we call a "three decker" or sometimes, a "tree deckah". Arlene lives on the third floor, her brother and his family live on the second floor and a tenant lives on the first floor. The young mom from the first floor had an infant in a stroller and what might have been a 3 year girl. Arlene stopped to say hi and chat a bit. As she said hi to the little girl the little girl pointed to me and asked Arlene, "Is that your daughter?"

Her mother just smiled and shook her head. Arlene couldn't contain her laughter. Being mistaken for somebody who is over 30 years younger than me is not a bad thing, except for the gender thing, and a 3 year old  mixing up words is not unusual. It is the first time I have been mistaken for someone's daughter. We had a pretty good laugh over this, having to stop a couple of times to get rid of the excess laughter.

As we walked Arlene referenced neighborhood lore and things about various houses and the people. She has lived in this neighborhood most of her life. It is a nice neighborhood sandwiched between two busy streets. One of those streets runs right along the river. It's one of the 4 oldest streets in this city. By the late 1600's to the mid to late 1800's sailing ships were built along here. It was easy for a ship to be sailed down river to the harbor, and from there go to Europe, Africa or the Caribbean. I'm ashamed to say I know little of the history of the city that I have lived in all my life. By American standards it's a pretty old place, established in 1630. The fourth oldest English settlement.

Each street in this neighborhood seems to have a name referring back to significant people in the cities history. They could have been ship builders, governors etc. Here's a picture of a house a couple of streets over from here. The Peter Tufts House. Thought to be one of the oldest if not the oldest still standing brick house in the U.S. Built in 1677. Though it is about an 8 or 10 minute walk from here this is not my picture.
It is Peter Tufts descendent that donated the land where Tufts University now sits. 
The rest of Monday was uneventful except from that thrill you do get when you do laundry. Tuesday there was work. That went ok. Today I am off once again. No big plans. There's always plenty to do I just don't have any big plans. Last night Arlene and I started discussing our plans for vacation. At this writing it is 11 days away and we are looking forward to walking into this lobby.
I took this the first time we walked into the lobby in 2010. It's actually 3 pictures stitched together. It's a bit fuzzy around the plant on the coffee table. Panoramic stitching can produce some nice perspectives as long as you or things don't move such as a flag in the parts of two pictures that are the same. A flag in the wind can be a problem, shots involving water or people moving can produce a blurry image as well. Technical I am not.

I've used this photo, a 3 picture composite that came out well, before. It's one of my favorites, an unexpected site as Arlene and I took a walk by the ocean as the sun was setting. We had come from supper in the downtown area by a bay. When you walk along the sidewalk by the ocean with the ocean on your left you come across a pond on your right. We turned to look to the west and saw this over the pond. 

I was pretty steady with the camera and nothing really moved. It's a favorite moment of ours and the picture represents it nicely to us. Here is sunset from the other side of the island. How can you tire of scenes like this?

The beauty of traveling there before and after the tourist season is you are not amongst 75,000 of your closest friends, who come here during the summer season.

Locally where we stay, the downtown has plenty of places open but it's never really mobbed. So we can pretend we live here in a fairly stress free atmosphere for a week, thanks to your credit card. This is a bit of the Oak Bluffs downtown. It's about a 10 minute walk from the hotel. It's also a bit early in the day here.

Another 10 minutes or so walk in another direction takes you to the harbor. 

Or you could head off in another direction and end up where the munchkins live.

Sometimes I think that I sound snobby about all this "zipping down to the Vineyard". I don't mean to, it's just that in the last few years our lives have changed a bit. We both entered our finale years of full time employment. For me a radical change to my life after almost 45 years of full time employment. Arlene raised two daughters and worked full time nearly as many years as I did. The idea of going there just popped into my head one day. Perhaps it was the Presidents first vacation there.               

Why would the President go there for a vacation? Well rich people have estates there, and there are only a few ways to get there, and, what if you went in the off season? I checked out the hotel prices and locations and found a nice compromise, at the Pequot. A block from the ocean and a short walk to the "downtown".

Why not give it a shot? It can't cost that much for 4 days? After the first trip we were hooked. That was in 2010. Here we are 2015 and we're less than two weeks from leaving once again. I guess it's fun to be in this small ocean side town, that at times smack a bit like Mayberry, and pretend that we live in this peaceful little place. If all goes right between driving and the ferry we can leave at 6 a.m. and get there by 9

Here's the staff that has remained fairly constant over the last 5 years. They were posing for several of the guests including us.

So that wraps up this pile of stuff. I never know how a blog will turn out when I start. I had no idea that the looking through some of these pictures would be triggered when I started the blog, but there you are.

I am always grateful to those of you who visit my blog. I Thank you for your comments.
I'm outta here.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

I was surprised

As you may or may not know the Marathon trial is over and he has been found guilty. No surprise there. What caught me off guard is the jury voted for the death penalty. The 7 women, 5, man  jury, deliberated for a couple of days and then surprised many people including me. This is liberal Massachusetts. I suppose after hearing story after story from victims families and victims it just pushed them over the edge.

As I wrote at the time I didn't know I had a remote connection with one of the victims. She grew up a couple of turns from here. Arlene's daughters knew her, played with her, went to school with her. I saw all the television trucks around the house as I drove home from work that day. I was unaware of what happened 5 or 6 miles from where I live. I found out when I got home and then later speaking to Arlene I learned of her connection with Krystle Campbell.

This affects us all around here. It makes me proud that people around here may be liberal, but when pushed they push back. I am proud of the city as well. As bad as the layout of the roads is and as bad the traffic can be, (It took me 20 minutes to travel 2 tenths of a mile today. Road resurfacing.) this place has much to offer, though  I will avoid driving into town at all costs. I'll take public transportation. 

Today as with all days that I work, I was stuck in traffic right by the gates of Harvard. Today was actually much worse than normal. And every day there are people taking pictures of the front gate, having their pictures taken in front of the gate. In particular I see many Asians. That's a long way to travel. I see many out of state plates. I even saw one from Alaska. I feel sorry for those folks not from around here. We are aggressive drivers. You have to be at times or you'll never get to make you're turn. We didn't get the knick name "massholes" for nothing. So driving around here can be a bit of a trial. Ok enough of that. Here's part two of some of the pictures of places Arlene or my friend Dave and I went in 2009, but mostly with Arlene. You can tell the "guy things".

Oh vacation c'mon! Two more weeks. Arlene and I are burnt out. I didn't think I could be this burnt when I'm just working part time but it has been since last September that we've had some time off. I'm ready to do nothing for a week, well next to nothing, ya gotta eat. 
This particular post was right off the top of my head. It's not what I was thinking of writing originally. Not that that one was going to be some sort of cosmic showstopper. So I think I'll shut up now and publish the thing. 
I'm outta here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Say kids! What time is it?!

It's time to cool my jets. I lost it a bit with a customer. I didn't yell or rant. I have dealt with this woman since the year 2000. First from 2000 to 2011 and now back at the same location since a year ago March. I am of Italian decent. I am proud of my Italian heritage but I have to say they are amongst the worst customers at a deli. This woman comes to the counter and orders her usual assortment of cold cuts. She orders a half a pound of mortadella and before she can say what I know she will say I say, "I know, cut it thin." Or as some of them say, "cutta tin". Now I grew up hearing broken English. My mother was the only person, save for my cousins, who didn't have an accent. Now she orders a quarter pound of hot capicola. The two items I have mentioned are made of pork. I cut it, wrapped it, priced it and gave it to her. She orders some cheese and I start to cut it. As I am slicing she says, "Are you sure this is the hot capicola, not the sweet?"
I unwrap the package and show her what I cut.
"See the red pepper? This is the hot one."
I pick up a piece of sweet capicola and say, "See the black pepper? This is the sweet one. Why do you always question me?"
She became a bit sheepish and said she was sorry. I didn't feel all that great but I guess I let my guard down and let the situation finally get to me.

This followed by a "Some company big wig is coming alert. Quick everybody scurry around!" Most of us just watch this in amusement. The usual person in charge, the store director, formally known as a store manger, was off today. I guess director sounds more important. After all he or she directs. 
"Put that over there! I have so directed. So it is written, so shall it be!"
Whereas a manager, they just manage. They just get by. Doesn't sound as important. So with no director or assistant director the chore of directing fell on the shoulders of the front end manager or the cash department, where they take your money. He was a nervous nelly. At one point I went outside on a break as it was a beautiful day and there he was out side the store, looking into the distance. A hand shielding his eyes from the sun, staring into the distance as if he were on the bow of a ship searching for land. I would have loved it if he shouted, "Vice President HO!"
As I went back into the store I passed the Admiral and said, "He's here. I just saw him get off the bus." 
He didn't think it was all that funny. 

Another alert came in about an hour later. "He's at Porter Square!" A store about 4 or so miles away. In afternoon traffic that could take 25 or 30 minutes I was there until 4:00pm. No sighting. And on the odd chance that someone official does show up it always goes like this.
Mr. High and Mighty -"Hello. How are you?"
The common, lowly, worker droid -"I'm well. And you?"
Mr. High and Mighty-"Fine! Thanks!"
Whew! I think we survived that!

In other news, this past Sunday, it was early and I was asleep. Then suddenly I wasn't. I was startle awake by a sound that I couldn't identify. It was a loud, whooshing, white noise sound. It was a small, flexible pipe that flows into the toilet tank. It had burst and as spraying water at about half the bathroom. The floor was filling up with water as I turned the shut off valve. Long story short, I mopped the floor, Found out it leaked downstairs. The plumber actually came on Sunday but didn't have the right size replacement on his truck. So I know what that meant as far as the bathroom went. I'll spare you the gory details. Later that day Arlene and I went out for supper at our favorite place. Then back to my house we sat on the back deck having some wine. I know that sounds so snobby, but it was a nice night and we like wine. It's not like Arlene has to go far to get home, next door. Anyway, Arlene knowing about my bathroom situation asked me, "What if I have to go? Do I have to use a bucket of water to flush?"
"No!" I replied. "There's still a full tank of water."
And trying to get a bit romantic on Mothers Day I said, "I saved the last flush for you."

In my continuing effort to unclutter my life and organize things, I know I'm still in the process adapting to a much smaller work load and more free time. Sometimes it is not so different because this week as a favor to my boss I worked on Monday which I haven't done in years. As a part timer I set how many hours I want and what days I'm available. So as a favor to her I worked Monday and ended up working 4 full days. Arlene kept trying to point out that she is taking advantage of me. My experience and familiarity with the store and customers and for a lot less money per hour than the year before. And Arlene is right in the respect that my boss is getting a bargain basement, full time employee who can do just about anything she can do. Not everything but pretty close. So I had to tell my boss, who has been good to me, that I only want 3 days. I'll work 3 full days if you really need me but no more.  I'm not really semi-retired, I am retired. 

So some of this free time has been taken up by organizing a stack of cds with pictures and videos of places locally we went to back in 2009 when I still only had a blog on Spaces. Back then I had organized the pictures as a video photo album. I forgot I had these.
They were about 2 minutes each. I combined the first two and slightly modified them. 

So I guess that's about it.
I'm outta here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


As of now I don't personally know anything concerning Beth. That may change as I will probably not finish this tonight.
This has been a very busy week. It seems things have become busier now that I'm working less.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked by Arlene's daughter if I would take some pictures of a carnival in the parking lot at city hall. I said sure, so Arlene and I headed to "the square" as we would say around here. It's not much of a square but it's the only square we've got. There were police by the entrance stopping traffic for the pedestrians. I began taking pictures. I moved up the street for a different angle then sat down on a little wall by a medical building.
A minute later over came a young policeman. He introduced himself and asked me what I was doing. It seemed fairly obvious to me what I was doing. He was very polite. There was a mêlée at one of these carnivals a few years back in city not too far from here. I told him what I was doing and dropped a name and the name of the local  news web site. Mind you at the time I was across the street from the carnival. He shook my hand, thanked me and left. It seems police are quite sensitive at the moment. He really couldn't have done anything. I have every right to take pictures in a public place.

It was getting dark and it was overcast. The wolves were howling...ok it was a little pain in the ass Chihuahua. Sniffing, yipping, barking and annoying. 


This was this afternoon, 5/4/2015, looking out my front window to the porch. Nothing great here but it was a beautify day

It was the first really beautiful, warm sunny day. I was off but I had no urge to leave the house.

So here it is, the next night, 05/05/2015. I'm getting to the computer late these days. What started this whole blog was remembering my grandfather. I got off on a tangent. My grandfather on my mother's side was having some difficulties. He was still in Italy. He had come to the United States in the late 1920's. My mother was born here. They went back for reasons unbeknownst to me and the war broke out.

Flash forward to the mid to late 1970's. Calls from Italy to the family here that my grandfather was getting confused, seen wandering around. The decision was made to bring him to the States. He would stay with my family for four months, then at my mother's brothers house, then at their others sisters house. When he was with my family, the same routine happened when I came into the house. My mother would say in Italian, "Who is this?" My grandfather would say in a shrug, "I don't know."

My mother would say, "That's your grandson!"
Grandpa would say, in Italian, "No! My grandson is in America!" as he sat in a kitchen 5 or 6 miles from Boston.
"You are in America!"
"What do you know about America! I was there!" Then my grandfather said, "I speak English!"
To which my mother would say something like, "Ok. Let's hear some English!"
My grandfather looked at the kitchen table, picked up a spoon and proudly said, "Spoondella!"
He picked up a fork and said, "Forkett!"
You had to laugh.

There were times when we would be on the porch and my father and grandpa would be having the same old discussion. You're in America. What do you know about America, I was there, then my grand father would point up our street and say his farm was down there, point at a factory close by and pronounced that, the city hall.

The most amazing part of this is, when grandpa was taken to the North End of Boston, a very Italian neighborhood where my uncle had a store, where my grandfather and his young family lived in the 20's and 30's, he was back in America. He recognized buildings and a street or two. Leave the North End and it's back to Italy.

Grandpa was harmless but you had to watch him. He once wandered away from my aunts house, the state police got involved. We finally received a call at about 11 pm. The state police had him at their barracks at the airport and that he was a little tired, (he covered about 6 miles) but non the worse  for wear. He was about 86 at the time. When we got to the barracks he had 5 or 6 troopers around him seemingly amused as he chatted on in Italian. He was a tough old guy and he was still physically strong.

He lived until he was 94. He didn't die of old age. He fell and hit his head. He didn't last long then. Who knows how long he would have lived. I suppose it's a combination of good genes, hard work on the farm, and having a pretty healthy diet. Those Mediterranean's know how to eat. My grandfather grew oranges, lemons and limes, figs, walnuts, and an assortment of vegetables.

Here's a picture some pictures I got off the web of the little town in Sicily, Cannicattini Bagni. The first picture with the church in it, is very recognizable to me. My grandfather lived on the street behind the church. I remember walking on the main drag. If you walk left on the main drag in front of the church you come to a beautiful little landscaped park.

 Ok, I've gone on long enough. I'm not even going to proofread it. It's late and I have to work again tomorrow. I'll try and visit around on Wednesday evening. 
I'm outta here. 
I miss you Beth.