September 13, 2011

So we bought a dresser today. After 20–some years of marriage we have never had one. We have used alterative methods of storing clothing, I won’t go into detail but you don’t want to see our bedroom. We saw this one at Costco but the price was more than we really had to spend given the recent replacement of both a computer and a water heater. I was in Costco today for some odds and ends and saw that the dresser was marked down to half-price (and a third of what they are offering them for on line). That made it a no brainer, checking the finances, and doing some research with a measuring tape, I determined that we could afford it at that price; it would fit in the car and into the house.

Quita stepped out of work a little early and took the subway to the stop near Costco where I picked her up and we drove over to the store, where we purchased the next to the last of the remaining dressers. The dresser was much heavier than anticipated, and it required the help of a passer-by in the parking to get it into the car. Arriving at home we awaited the return of Padraig from school at which time we recruited to assist us with the unloading, and uncrating. Removing the enclosing box and drawers made the dresser much lighter and enabled us with some effort to get it up the steep front steps and into the front hallway of the house. Eyeing the seventeen narrow stairs to the 2nd floor (oh the joys of 10 and 1/2 foot ceilings) it was clear that it was beyond the capacity of the three of us, (me, one small but strong woman and one 16 year old with no upper body strength) to get it up those stairs.

We needed at least one other adult who is capable of handling heavy cumbersome loads. The obvious choice was our good friend and neighbor across the street who works as a baggage handler at the airport. Quita called over to the house and his wife (also our good friend) answered the phone. Upon inquire of hubby’s availability his wife replied, ‘He just threw out his back, in fact I am just getting the massage table out to give him a once over.’

And so, our new dresser sit is the entry hall awaiting it’s relocation until we can find the manpower to move it to the 2nd floor.

Dear neighbor and friend, I hope that your back heals quickly, I realize that his seems a little self serving, but I do hate to see anyone in pain, and I also look forward to getting this dresser out of my hallway.

October 16, 2009

Death in the Heart of Roxbury, MA or The Hawk Takes the Squirrel.

As I was getting out of the car this afternoon, and walking around the corner of the house to the front door I heard a small commotion in the grassy triangle across the street. Something rustled in the trees and then thumped on the ground. Walking across the street, I saw a hawk in the grass. I assumed at first that it was injured as it had it wings spread and seemed to be limping along the ground. I quickly realized that it was not a limp at all, but that it had a squirrel gripped in its talons. I always carry a small camera with me and I took a few quick shots of it on the ground. The camera doesn’t have a good zoom capacity, so I took a chance and went in the house to get my video camera.

When I returned the hawk was still there seeming to be looking for a place to consume its prey. After a moment or two it flew down to the end of the cul de sac landing in a tree. Waiting there but a moment longer, it hopped over to an adjacent roof and proceeded to consume the squirrel. I did manage to catch a little video in spite of the cold fingers and my jittery focus.

I was thrilled to witness this more than anything. One would think that living in the ‘inner city’ that the wild life would be restricted to birds and a few squirrels and other rodent. Surprisingly, this is not the case. And while we aren’t seeing deer and bear, I have had occasion to see wild turkeys, and there is a large family of skunk that occupy the neighborhood. There are also reports of coyote sightings in some parts of town. So I guess that I should not be surprised to see a hawk acting out the fundamentals of its existence.

A little postscript here: This is my first posting in months. I think I got to the point where I had other things to do besides hear myself talk to myself. Now that the weather has cooled off I think I will be more prone to filling my time with endless babble.

July 8, 2009

I've been away.

Yes, it has been a month since I posted anything here. In some respect, I just haven’t been inspired to write, and in others it has been a busy month which included a included a lot of home projects as well as two weeks vacation in Seattle, and a total computer failure which required the purchase of a new computer.

At this point I am certainly not going to give a day-by-day chronicle of the months events, but I will cover a few highlights. My last entry was for July 4th, the next day we packed up the car and headed to Cape Cod for the annual Mashpee Wampanoag pow wow. This is an annual event that we try to attend every year. There is always any number of friends attending as well as a few of Mrs. ‘cousins’. We got an early start for a change, and were actually out of the house by noon. This was also the test drive for the van that had been in and out of the shop over the previous week with transmission issues. I am happy to report that the car ran beautify much to my relief. And it was good to get it out give the engine a run. It actually gets somewhat decent mileage on the highway, as opposed to the 14mpg it gets in the city. I am sure we qualify for the cash for clunkers program but I digress. The weather at pow wow was beautiful, and especially appreciated after the wet and cold June that we experienced. Not thinking ahead, we forgot the sunscreen and managed to get light sunburn. The dancing, singing and drumming was better that I recall in the past, and the number of people attending was larger too. We of course spent amore money that we should have at a couple of vendors. Both Mrs. and I buying wampum earrings, mine were just simple disks, and hers were a cluster of traditional style wampum beads hanging in a cluster.

Because we had gotten an early start, we left a little earlier that usual and decided to drive around a bit on the return trip and do the sightseeing we usually don’t have time to do. The boy, sitting in the back seat just wanted to go home, but we pulled rank, and he proceeded to fall asleep leaving us to take our time and enjoy the scenery. After an hour or so he awoke and was disgusted to find that we were no closer to home that we were when last checked. We did finally get on the road back to home, and blissfully the traffic was lighter than we expected.

So let me post this, and I’ll try to catch up wit the more in soon. In the meantime here is a collection of photos from the pow wow that I put together in a little video.

Independence Day in Boston

We finally got some decent weather in Boston for Independence Day. After weeks of overcast and rain, the sun finally came out and the temperature reached into the upper 70’s. (That is mid 20’s for you in Europe.) I deemed it ‘get out of the house day’ in celebration. I am one who enjoys wandering around the city or taking a long drive on a Sunday afternoon. Neither the boy nor Mrs. is fond of either activity, the boy would rather play video games and the Mrs. would rather bead or read.

Boston does a big celebration for the 4th in and around the Quincy Market area, with music and other events. Thousands of people attend, primarily tourists but a good many locals as well. I enjoy the event, as much for the people watching as anything. Some negotiations ensued, and Mrs. begged off claiming that she hated crowds and had to clean her office. The boy had no such negotiation point, having spent several hours already playing video games. So around noon we grabbed out subway passes and headed down to the station. On route we stopped and chatted with a couple of other neighbors who were out also enjoying the summer weather and the holiday.

Hopping on the T we arrived to a Quincy Market teaming with hordes of people as expected. One of the more enduring fixtures of the area is the street performers. Most of them fall into the juggling / magic act format with a fair amount of snappy patter tossed in to keep the audience interested. The acts of this sort all tend to blend into one another after a while, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t entertaining. I enjoy seeing the variations they the try to put in their acts to make them stand out. The big theme this year seemed to be about Gaining height to be able to be seen over the heads of the crowds. We saw two acts working on straight ladders, and another act, a pair of local twin boys who are masters of the Diablo, perform with one standing on the others shoulders. A Divine Street Performer?
That alone is worth the price of admission. Their mastery of the Diablo is pretty amazing as well. We didn’t watch the street acrobats this time. They do a hip-hop break dance routine with lots of tumbling thrown in, it is pretty amazing but the boy decided that he had a mission in mind and didn’t want to stop.

One of the street performers we watched. (Not my video. )

The boy decided that he had to visit his favorite store, Newbury Comics, a local purveyor of pop culture. You can read that as music, videos, comic books action figures and other trinkets. (Actually I used a visit to the store as a bribe to get him to accompany me.) It wasn’t too painful of a visit, he passed up action figures of Dr Who characters, but conned me out of 15 dollars to pay half of the cost of a video game. He promised to pay me back at some time in the future, but we both know that it probably won’t happen.

That duty taken care of we crossed over to City Hall Plaza where the commercial vendors set up shop, and the city has a bandstand. The music was ok, and the vendors passing out free sample were fewer that usual, we scored a couple of bottles of Cholula Hot Sauce and little boxes of Honey Bunches of Oats. Victorinos, the makers of the Swiss Army Knife had a tricked out Airstream Trailer but were only passing out samples of a soon to be released Swiss Army knife cologne. Mutual of Omaha had and exhibit called Adventure Tour, celebrating their sponsorship of the Wild Kingdom television show. It was full of animatronic animals that begged to have you be photographed with them, but the final piece de resistance was the animatronic bust of Marlin Perkins, the long deceased host of the program, popping out if a plastic iceberg on a wetsuit. A creepy Marlin Perkins

We both agreed that we had enough entertainment for the day and hopped the subway home where a piece of wild caught Alaskan sockeye salmon was waiting to be grilled. That is possible the favorite food of everyone in the house. I slow grilled it a western red cedar plank that I acquired for that purpose. Joining it on the grill was corn on the cob and grilled bread. Dinner was delicious, the salmon was done perfectly if I do say so myself, and we all wished that there had been more fish.

After dinner we discussed where and how we were going to watch the fireworks, and after a brief discussion we decided that watching them from the house was the easy no effort answer, that way we could also watch them on TV. One of the advantages of living close in to the center of Boston is that we can see them pretty clearly from the bedroom window on the 2nd floor. And after wards we don’t have to fight crowds and traffic on the way home. A couple of years ago we decided that we would go down and watch them from the Esplanade we packed a picnic dimmer and took the subway down. It was fun, but the place was packed, but when it came time for the fireworks we discovered that out location was less than ideal. We moved around and finally found a place to watch from, but it was a pain in the darn as hundreds of other people were doing the same thing. When they were over of course all 500,000 people watching from the Esplanade left at the same time. It was all foot traffic but is was no less backed up as if it were cars. We got home well after midnight exhausted.

Doing that once was enough, and this year we wanted to rise early and well rested the next day as we were heading down the Cape Cod for pow-wow.

A couple of other sights not mentioned earlier:
Living Statues - note the water bottle behind the sign at her feet.

Another living statue - you have to be pretty self assured to stand around all day in a silver lame' leotard.

June 30, 2009

What's been going on?

Apropos of nothing herein.

It has been nearly a month since I have added anything here. I guess in part that I just haven’t been in a writing some times the mundane events in life are just that, and I find that I just don’t have anything to say about them. That being said let me see if I can catch up a bit without going thru a blow-by blow of every event.

The first topic is usually the weather, which has been absolute shit for the last month. As of a week or so ago, the Boston Globe was reporting that we were experiencing the cloudiest June since 1903. I don’t know if that record was actually breached, but it is the topic on every ones mind. On an average we are having one day of sun for every five days of rain. The rain of course is usually on the weekends. The upside of this is that the yard is looking better than ever before. I reseeded large patches of the lawn in the spring, and they are doing great, what in past years has been a scrubby patchwork lawn is actually looking pretty lush. Of course is it also a little over grown because the weather won’t cooperate to allow me to mow it. Our plots in the community garden are also doing quite well, although I am sure that the plants would like a little more sun than they are getting. The weeds love all the rain too unfortunately. The Mrs. and I spent a couple hours on Sunday dodging raindrops and weeding. The results from 320 square feet of garden space were wheelbarrow full of weeds. We are starting to harvest a few herbs from the garden and there is some broccoli that will be edible in a few days.

Not my lillys but I walk by them all the time.

Next topic: the boy. He finished school on the June 12, and the 13th was his 14th birthday. He thought it was an appropriate way to celebrate the end of the school year. The last week of school was almost like he was already on vacation. I think he had but one day of actually classes, two days of that week were half days with various events at the school of which parents were invited. And one day was ‘skip day’ on which there were no classes, but one of his classmates decided to have a party. I was a good thing that work has been light for me since the term finish for me as I spent a lot of that week ferrying him to and from school and other social events. There was one day that week that I made 4 round trips to the school and back. Thankfully it is only 3 miles from the house.

He started his summer program this week, leaving us two weeks to keep him entertained or otherwise occupied in the interim. And you wonder why I haven’t updated the blog in a while. I took him to work a couple days and had him help me unpack some new equipment I purchased. His mother took him to work with her a couple of days, I took of work a couple days to do stuff, and somehow we filled the time the available time. The summer program is designed for Native American kids living in Boston to give them a link the their native heritage. It is sponsored in part by the Indian Center and Harvard University. He has been attending since he was 6 years old and it is something that he looks forward to every summer. It is mostly run by Harvard students most of who are also of Native heritage. It has been hit or miss over the years, but is currently on a ‘hit’. It is a nice mix of just fun stuff to do, swimming and games and the like along with workshops and field trips centered on their common heritage. Among the projects this summer are workshops in traditional drumming, dancing and jewelry making, and the summer will be finished by a trip to Washington DC to the American Indian Museum. I am jealous.

As for me, I have been plugging along I have a list of outdoor projects that I need to get to but the inclement weather has been preventing me from doing so. The major project is rebuilding the entry shed over the back door. It has some serious rot issues around the base that need to be attended to before the fall. I just need a few day s of good weather so that I can dismantle portions and rebuild it, but no such luck so far.

I am currently involve involved in car issues. The beast, as I have taken to calling the Dodge Grand Caravan that we drive is misbehaving and is doing it’s best to avoid actually being repaired. We are planning to drive down to the cape for the holiday to attend the Wampanoag pow wow at Mashpee. But if I can’t get the car in condition for a road trip we will be spending the holiday weekend locally. It has two issues, one is a clunk in the front end the feels like the drivers side wheel is coming loose. The second is that transmission which is not shifting correctly. Solving these has required daily trip to the mechanic since Thursday, it took two trips to solve the ’thunk’ but we are still working on the transmission issue, it seems to be an electronic sensor issue but we have not been able to track it down. So far it has only cost $550 but we ain’t done yet. Say a prayer and wish me the best.

Also seen on my daily travels

I won’t go into too much detail about the other technology failure issues that I have faced in the last couple weeks. Let me just say that a hard drive failure on my computer was made less catastrophic by the purchase a week or so prior of a 1TB outboard hard drive for back up. The replacement hard drive cost a mere $70 for 320GB, replacing the original 80GB drive. I was down for maybe a total of 36 hours including the time to reformat and rebuild the files. Salute to the Mac Time Machine for making the process relatively painless.

Now I notice that the CDR drive in my ‘puter isn’t functioning. Is it something in the stars?

But to finish on a happy note: the boy received in the mail the other day a letter from the head master of his school. It was an official “Head of School’s Letter of Commendation’ for his work in drama.

It read: ‘P.. deserves special commendation for his contributions to the Schools drama program this year. A three-season ‘varsity’ player P.. has demonstrated his acting talents and range by bringing to life the characters of the Baker in Into The Woods, Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Phil the Techie in Ax of Murder. P.. is a true ensemble player who leads by his quiet, focused discipline and his love for the dramatic arts.’