Saturday, January 31, 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015


January strikes me as a perfect month for complaining, while February and March seem better for whining. To me, whining is a lower-energy, endurance sport, perfect for months that seem to drag on and on, while complaining is more like a sprint. I barely left the house this month and didn't get nearly enough exercise of of any type, so I'm trying to make up for that by expending energy on grexing,* at least. I've only got another two days, so here goes. 

1. The Olympics in Boston. Worst idea ever. I can't imagine a stupider plan. I don't believe any of the polls that show that close to half of Bostonians support this idea. I suspect that the pollsters are asking loaded questions, like: "If the Olympic Committee picked Boston, could you show me your response to that?" And then they interpret screaming hysteria or fainting in horror as positive energy.  

The plans including building a beach volleyball stadium on Boston Common. 
This will require cutting down old trees and generally wrecking the landscaping. 
People often think this photo is just a joke, but the plans are REAL.

You'd either have to a one-percenter with ownership in a local construction company, a shill on his payroll, or a complete moron to think this idea plan has one molecule of merit. It's enough to make me want to move to Salem, although, who knows, Salem could get saddled with turning its historic area into a giant water-polo stadium for all we know. The games will be spread out pretty far around the eastern part of our state. No US city that's hosted the Olympics has a positive story to tell because the costs, the projected "profits," and the overall impact on that city were far worse than anyone ever dreamed. Massachusetts's construction company owners will roar all the way to the bank while the rest us hand over our cash to them to build stuff that will be used for less than a month and then need to be torn down. What a racket, in more ways than one.

I'm not sure our new mayor has noticed, but we have a few big problems to fix (education, homelessness, housing, infrastructure, for starters). Wrecking the city for its inhabitants and spending billions on 17 days of semi-fascist (he's already forbidden city workers to say anything negative about the Olympics, and one reason the OC likes Boston so much is the way the police shut down Boston and the surrounding towns completely after the Marathon bombing) insanity is not the answer. Yes, it might indirectly help a few of our infrastructure and transportation problems. But there must be better ways to do that. Let's focus on fixing them without destroying things that do work in the process. If you want to use my tax money for that, fine. But if one penny of it goes to funding the Olympics, man....  
Some other time, I'll tell you how I really feel about this topic. At length. But let me just say in closing that I'd rather tear my head off and eat it than live in Boston through an Olympic construction nightmare. And, yes, I will collect signatures for the referendum.

2.  Microsoft Office. What the hell is going on with you, MS Office? I'm using the 2008 version on my Mac because newer versions are, according to people I talk to, too horrible to contemplate. Each new version is stupider than the next. After I upgraded my operating system recently, to Yosemite, Office became even more annoying. Every time I open a program, it opens a blank document for me when, 99 times out of a 100, I do NOT want to send someone an email, for example — I'm just checking for mail. It opens a blank Word document when all I want to do is open my writing project and stare at it and procrastinate. Thank you for attempting to read my mind, MS Office, but it's been  an epic fail, so stop. And did I mention that I'm always reopening these programs because they keep crashing on me? And almost every day there's some new, unpleasant surprise. 

Believe it or not, I woke up early this morning, determined to make some progress on the writing project. I'm in the home stretch. But, no. Last night, for no reason, MS Office had an identity crisis. I've spent the last three hours unable to work because Office is trying to rebuild itself. At the snail's pace that it's taking, it will take the better part of the day, assuming it gets through its so-called repair routine. More likely, it will just screw up more stuff and make new problems for me. I'm sure I'll be getting more unpleasant surprises. And all I did last night was close a Word document, quit Mail, and shut down my computer, and this morning all hell broke lose. I know: I should switch to Pages... right?

Three hours later.

Okay, that's enough. I have more to complain about but now I think it's your turn. Is something bothering you? Then start a blog or leave me a comment.

I promise I'll try to find something positive to say about something that isn't either a cat or a cake soon.

* Pennyslvania Dutch for "complaining." Doesn't everyone say this — or are my Penna. roots showing?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Ramble in Charlestown

On Monday, just as the blizzard was starting, I went for a walk around Charlestown. There's a condo there, a crazy one, with three floors, two kitchens, and about six doors opening to the common areas that don't lock. Some trusting soul who really likes to cook and climb stairs must live there. But it also has four marble fireplaces (one might work) in airy, high-ceilinged rooms. It overlooks the Monument, and has a garden.

We'd been to the open house the day before after brunch at the Warren Tavern, a favorite of ours. But we didn't have time to walk around the neighborhood. We figured the condo would attract a bidding war and some cash buyer would snap it up in 48 hours. That's how it goes these days. And since it was at the top of our price range and needed a lot of work, it was out of our league.

But I always like to do my due diligence, so I went for a ramble in the snow.

It's an uphill walk to the Monument from the Orange Line. We've always driven to Charlestown but since I don't drive, I wanted to explore on foot. Since it was snowing and cold, it felt longer, At least Whole Foods is along the way. I went inside to warm up. That would probably become a habit if we moved here. There's only one supermarket in Charlestown, one bakery, and one pharmacy, as far as I know.

The tiny vintage shop we'd visited the day before was closed, but the friendly Maine Coon that belongs to the owner was lounging in the window:

Charlestown has hilly streets and a lot of lovely historic architecture. It feels like a village. If you are used to living in downtown Boston, surrounded by restaurants, shops, and everything you need, it also feels remote. On the other hand, it's pretty, and it's quiet, and that can be wonderful. 

The "Gaslight District" near the Monument is full of character and charm, with brick townhouses reminiscent of Beacon Hill:

The streets closest to the Monument have the nicest Victorian architecture — and not only on the outside. Peeking in the windows reveals that many people who live here have preserved their elegant historic interiors and furnished them accordingly. Standing on the sidewalk outside them, l feel like the Little Match Girl, shivering in the snow, looking in at warmth, light, and elegance. Then I remember that I have rooms like that, too, and stop being maudlin.

Charlestown hasn't always been the most welcoming place, of course, depending on who you are. But check out the plaque on this Catholic Church:

That's pretty great.

When I got to the condo, the agent was ushering out a group after a "second showing." They stood on the sidewalk talking enthusiastically. I left. Today I was surprised there will be another open house this weekend. Yes, that condo is crazy... although I do like the neighborhood.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


View from the window when I was procrastinating yesterday.

So, it snowed and snowed yesterday. And then it snowed more. It looks to me like we got about a foot, but I haven't left the house since Monday. My husband went to work today and he claims we got more than two feet. He's probably the better judge.

I'm staying in until I get over this massive case of Writer's Block, or whatever it is I have, that is keeping me from finishing my scriptwriting project for a Japanese art show. I would say it's Writer's Block for sure, but it hasn't kept me from writing 500+ words for a friends blog and a slew of emails.

It seems I have a very specific variant of Writer's Block, called Woodblock Print Block.

And it's bad. I've only got about six more little scripts to go out of 25. I initially had more, but I was very enthusiastic whenever anyone on the team suggested recording a video interview instead having me write. That helped a lot.

I am in such bad shape that I actually ordered another sweater today.

I hope February turns out to be a better month than this one. January, as usual, has proven to be boring, drab, and cold. And also strangely... woolly.

Maybe I need to watch more TV. (Or I should reacquaint myself with the gym.)

I've decided that, as an incentive to finish up, I'm not going outside to do anything fun until I'm done with the first draft. But, as it gets colder, I'm not sure if that's going to backfire. I still have to go out to do various un-fun things, you see.

Back at it. (Ha!)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Possum Poses

 Possum doesn't always lie around on his back, showing off his belly, and he wanted me to tell you.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Making the Scene

It was another exciting Saturday night here, with Possum, Lion, Wendy, and Harris warming the bed for us and Toffee snoozing on a chair nearby. We're finding these four curled up on the bed together more often lately. We can usually count on someone to be with us when we're there, too. Lion brings us drinking straws and toys when he wants to play fetch, whatever the hour. Harris comes by to curl up between us, to try to eat my hair or nurse on my ear. Possum and Toffee sleep at our feet.

We worked last night until we couldn't stand it anymore and then we decided to try an episode of the Amazon TV series Transparent, recommended by Some Assembly Required. We stuck around for four more episodes. It's over-the-top in terms of the adult children's romantic problems and frenetic sexual activity (and nudity, numbingly de rigeur these days). But it's well-acted so the characters are holding our attention. I had a transsexual professor 35 years ago, with a wife and school-age children, so that plotline feels like too little, too late, but it all beats working for sure.

We're expecting a huge snowstorm tomorrow night, with blizzard conditions. We'll see. If there's anything interesting to photograph, I'll go out on Tuesday. Otherwise I plan to hunker down for the next few days and work, make soup, and hope for a snow day or two for my husband.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Snow Day

Toffee and I were beginning to forget what snowstorms were like. We're only supposed to get a few inches but it still looks lovely. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Be Prepared

My husband and I were sitting around in the living room a few minutes ago when he said, "Would you like some cake and a glass of milk?"

And I said, "What cake? Surely not the cake in the fridge? The cake I got because we are going to dinner tomorrow night and we're supposed to bring dessert, and since it's going to snow and rain and be disgusting all day tomorrow, I decided I'd better get a cake today?"

And he said, "I completely forgot."

And I said, "You thought I brought home an $18 cake just for us? I never do that! But when I got it I couldn't help thinking that, if it snows as much as it's supposed to, they are going to cancel on us, and we'll get to stay in and eat the whole thing ourselves."

And he said, "Good thinking."

Right then the phone rang. It was our hosts. He's in his 80s and fell while walking to the bank today. He's okay but knows he'll feel sore tomorrow and wants to take it easy. They are also worried about us driving out to their place in bad weather tomorrow night. So, a rain check.

Now I'm sitting around, waiting for my husband to ask me if I want some cake and a glass of milk.

I hope he didn't forget again. (It's vanilla-caramel-toffee, his three favorite flavors. Resistance is futile.)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Belly Up

I am midway through my writing project (Japanese art) and procrastinating like the dickens although I do manage to make some progress every day. I have two or three more weeks to crank out my first draft. Possum has not been very helpful, although he did spend some time sitting on my research materials so at least he has absorbed some information by osmosis. He may have something useful to say to me about Japanese art later on. At the moment, the only thing he's been able to offer me is his  belly, for stroking. A good excuse to procrastinate.

Online shopping is another good way to procrastinate. I keep buying sweaters from J. Crew. There's something about Japanese art that makes me want sweaters. I mean, I really keep buying sweaters. So far, I've ordered an awful lot of them, just to replace a couple of old wrecks. I've stopped keeping track of how many. More than twelve.

I've been in an odd, risk-taking mood lately, so I ordered unusual colors to try. It wouldn't surprise me if risk-taking is associated with procrastinating. Yesterday I ate a sample of sushi from the Star Market without missing a beat, and I normally would never go near sushi, let alone taste a molecule of it. But a Japanese man handed it to me and that was that. I seem to be into all things Japanese at the moment. Except for the art I should be writing about.

I accidentally ordered one sweater twice. But I think I'm not entirely crazy, just somewhat crazy — and so is J. Crew. I initially ordered everything that interested me in my usual size, Small. But J. Crew now makes size XXXS, probably for precocious 10-year-olds, or perhaps their dolls. When my orders began arriving, I realized I've been demoted to XS. So all the Smalls have to go back, and I had to reorder everything in Tiny. Unfortunately, that was before I discovered that colors like "Toffee," which sound lovely, read as "Muck" on me.

I will have many, many sweaters to return. I'll be keeping two or three. Unless they pill like mad, which they might.

But walking to J. Crew is another good way to procrastinate. Sayonara.