10.16.11

Fall

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:42 pm by Administrator

A rare view from the level of the trees rather than ground. Nice work, Mother Nature!

And yet again I take a while to update.  Fall is here, and the weather is cooler, leaves are changing colors, and the days are shorter.  Last weekend felt like summer, but this past week was most definitely fall-like.  We went to an apple fest in central Massachusetts (about an hour away) and rode a ski lift at a mountain to get a view of some foliage and then hung out at a festival eating apple cider donuts, eating caramel apples, and drinking hot cider.  Fall indeed.

I like my new job.  I like the fall weather.  I like wearing layers and not sweating all the time.  Life is generally fine.  There are of course bumps here and there, but that’s why we kept the car with 4-wheel drive, right?  Of course cars make little difference in the bumps of life, but I would like to think I have proverbial 4-wheel drive as well, as well as non-locking brakes, and pretty good fuel efficiency, all in the metaphorical sense.  Perhaps because I make sure I maintain with good fuel, rest, and rarely grinding the gears.  I hope you all are also taking care of your personal maintenance.

This is the time of year when I really like living on the east coast.  Here are a few pics from Mount Wachusett in a town called Princeton, which is near where I lived as a child for a few years.  Central Massachusetts is quite beautiful:

One view from the ski lift coming back down the mountain.

I hope you’re having a good autumnal season.  Let me know if you want more pics…..

07.24.11

Summer

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:41 pm by Administrator

Sorry I’ve been away for a while.  The past 2 months have had a lot going on, and making time to write just didn’t happen.  So, my one-year anniversary in Boston has passed, as has my one-year anniversary at my job, just in time to find a new job.  I will be moving to a different job in August.  I won’t write too much about that other than to say it is a good move for my career but it will be hard to leave the clients I was working with, just as it always is.  And change is forever inevitable.

I am actually in Texas for a few days, delivering my car to my father.  We don’t need 2 cars in Boston, so my car will live a better life with my dad.  My car was getting a complex due to being driven so little.  She needs highways and attention, not being passed by as I walk to the subway or bus.  She did an excellent job getting us back down to Texas, and we drove through some states I had never truly seen: Alabama and Mississippi.  There is much beauty on the highways of the south that I had never seen.  There is also a very different culture that is evident even on mainstream radio stations.  It was an interesting adventure.  We also went to New Orleans, staying in the French Quarter.  I hadn’t been there since college, 20 years ago.  It hasn’t changed much, and smelled even worse than I remember.  Perhaps due to the heat.  Perhaps due to the partying that we did not engage in.  The food was good, though, and it was interesting to see New Orleans still in a recovery process.  It was raining buckets the whole time we drove in Louisiana, and that was a little scary.  I hadn’t heard about any hurricanes, so we just kept on driving.  It wasn’t as pretty as Alabama.  Can you say “swamp?”  We made it to Texas safely and quite exhausted.  And here we are for a few days.  A really quick visit focused mostly on family.

It is so so hot.  It was also hot in Boston for a few days, but the heat is about to break.  That is something I appreciate about Boston.  Any heat waves end relatively quickly.  In Texas the heat will not end for a looooong time.  I can tolerate almost anything I know will end.  It’s how I get through classes at the gym.  I tell myself to endure because it will end.  And it does.  In Texas that message never worked because the endurance had to go on for so long.  Heat in Boston is like a tough workout.  It sucks for a bit and then it ends and you recover with some water and a good meal.  Heat in Texas is like torture.  I do not miss it.

I do miss people, like all of you.  And now I will miss my car.  She was so, so good to me.  I know she is in good hands and will be happy with more regular attention.  She will also appreciate not being profiled.  Somehow in Boston my tinted windows led to traffic stops for not violating any laws.  I think I was assumed to be a gangster.  And then I wasn’t.  And the police didn’t know what to do.  I think I might be the only driver in Boston who DOESN’T break the law.  And yet I got stopped.  I really hope that doesn’t happen to my dad.  I doubt it will.

The next month is going to be full of more transition – in my own life and seasonally.  While autumn won’t come until September, August usually involves a cooling off and some shifting, as the climate prepares to change.  I’m ready for more change.  A little nervous, a little excited, and ready to adapt.  Once again.

05.01.11

Walk for Hunger

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:20 pm by Administrator

I completed the Walk for Hunger today: I collected pledges and then walked 20 miles all over Boston and the surrounding small towns to raise money in order to help end hunger in Massachusetts.  I have some blisters, but other than that, it was a gorgeous day to be walking along the Charles River and thereabouts.  It didn’t get above 60 degrees, so it was pleasant for the entire walk.  There were sooooo many people.  This is a yearly tradition for many Bostonians.  Some people have been walking since the walk started in 1969.  Some people who didn’t look older than 25 were on their 25th walk.  It was a family tradition form birth onward.  Pretty cool, huh?  And we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful spring day.  I would have taken more pictures, but I was walking and trying not to get trampled.  Here are a few shots of some springtime along the way:

Waiting for the Red Line at 6:30am. It's this sunny at 6:30am.

The first mile with lots of walkers.

One of many mile markers. I think the blisters started around this one.

The Charles River. Much of the last part of the route was parallel to the Charles.

Sailboats on the Charles. Trust me, it was REALLY windy. Hard a lee......

Boston Common, the final stretch into the finish line. Thankfully it was filled with tulips.

20 miles! Woot woot!!!! And then there was a dance party on the Common. What fun despite the blisters!

04.17.11

Spring is Here (And So Are the Runners)

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:08 pm by Administrator

Tomorrow is the Boston Marathon, which tends to be right around the time spring actually appears in New England.  Today is a beautiful day after a cold and windy day yesterday and MAJOR storms all night long.  Right in time for a deluge of runners from all over the world.  I kind of forgot that the finish of the marathon happens near the Prudential Center, which is where I went to run an errand today.  Wow.  Talk about crowded.  The street was blocked off, the bleachers were up, and the finish line was ready and waiting.  There were lots of people taking pictures and just standing around, which typically if one were to do in the middle of Boylston street, one would be dead, or at least cussed out to the extremist of extremes.  Boylston is usually bustling with traffic, and while lots of people walk the sidewalks to take in the shops and sites of the Back Bay, today it was outrageous.  A year ago I came here on this weekend for job interviews on Marathon Monday.  I remember flying with lots of people who were going to run the marathon.  This year I am a local.  Go figure.

I have no desire to ever run the Boston Marathon or any marathon for that matter.  I recently read an article that stated marathon completion has become so common that marathons with qualifiers (like completing a previous marathon under a certain time) have become crowded and overbooked, while in the past they were exclusive and much smaller because few people attempted to even try.  Now everyone is trying.  And I guess everyone came to Boston this weekend to demonstrate they can run 26.2 miles in under a certain time.  Power to them.  I will be at work, despite it being Patriot’s Day and a work holiday for 99% of the state.  I remember last year there was the marathon, Patriot’s Day celebrations, and a Red Sox game, all at the same time, in a close vicinity.  I drove through the Back Bay area and saw more drunk people falling in to the street than I think I’ve ever seen.  It even beat 6th Street.  Now I know better than to go to the Back Bay on Marathon Monday.  And I rarely drive there.  I take the “T,” which was also super crowded today with lots of of people not sure where they were going.

I took advantage of the beautiful day and got off at a stop near the beach and walked by the water for a little while.  I live near a beach that is a bit of a hidden treasure, with miles of running/walking paths and lots of benches and places to hang.  It is often busy, but there is a part that most people don’t go to, and I have found the hidden quiet spots.  So I walked and sat for a while, finally free of the touristy crowds.  And it felt like spring finally.  It’s not warm yet, but it’s not cold either.  The trees are budding.  The birds are singing.  The flowers are blooming.  And the grass is green (and a little muddy due to the rain).  While spring does happen in Austin, it always seems so fleeting, leading right into heat and what I associate with summer.  So I always called it sprummer in Austin.  Here, spring is cautious and slow, creeping in, creeping back out, then easing it’s way to a comfy and not overbearing place of mild temps and breeziness.  Summer will not be here until June most likely.  This is actually more my speed.  I missed a true spring, a blatant transition.  And here it is.  Complete with compulsive runners, Revolutionary War reenactments, and Red Sox games.  Here are some pics of spring in Bahhhston:

The finish line from a distance....

The finish line close up...

Spring on Boston Common. The buds and blooms are hard to see, but they're there.

The beach in the morning sun.

03.07.11

Spring Tease

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:09 am by Administrator

It was 60 degrees today in Boston.  It will get cold again tomorrow, but it felt very nice to not have to wear a parka, hat, scarf, gloves, and stay in constant motion when outside (at least that is my formula for avoiding freezing over the past months).  I wore only a jacket and was able to stand still and feel just fine when outside.  In Austin we kind of take spring for granted, and much of the time it’s more like sprummer, with relatively warm days as soon as February.  Here spring is appreciated and embraced and honored.  I know I feel that way.  Granted, it’s not here yet, and today was but a tease.  But it will be here, not months from now, but weeks from now, and that is a relief.  My cat actually slept in the living room rather than next to the space heater in the bedroom.  I took her outside on a leash (which she hates), and she sniffed the air and closed her eyes as the warmish wind whipped her fur around.  She hasn’t been outside in a really long time.  And finally the deck is just a deck rather than a mound of snow.  We will venture outside again as it gets warmer.  And I will definitely be hanging on the deck as soon as the daily highs stay consistently out of the 50s.  I.can’t.wait.

I know it is already spring in Austin, and I hope all of you reading from there are enjoying the wildflowers and wearing your sandals already.  Enjoy!

I won’t put the parka away just yet, but I look forward to the day when it can be put confidently in the back of the closet and I can consider socks optional.  Soon…….

02.13.11

Crock Pot, I love thee

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:40 am by Administrator

I have been a lifelong fan of the crock pot.  In childhood I remember the meals you could smell for hours, waiting, waiting, waiting, and then the tenderness, the blended flavors, the warmth……. yum, yum, yum.  I didn’t own my own crock pot until just a few years ago, and while it got used in Austin, it didn’t get used nearly as much as now.  I.love.crock.pot.  There is something so wonderful about the warm meals it makes for me while at work (or on a snow day, hanging out, smelling the lovely consequences of its hard work).  I can smell my dinner usually before I even walk in the main door of the building I live in.  And when I walk into the apartment, it smells like home.  And there are fewer dishes to do, little to prepare before digging in, and the results almost never fail to please.  I fix some stand-bys, like stews, but I found a new website with many, many gluten free crock pot recipes, and I have gotten much more adventurous.  My recent favorite (a curry dish, so if you don’t like curry, never mind, but if you do, be jealous of my tummy):

- 1 13.5 oz can of coconut milk (don’t use the light, it doesn’t taste as good. or use the light and then stir in heavy cream at the end. Your tongue wants the thick stuff… trust me.)
- 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 4-6 frozen skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- 1 T tomato paste
- 2 T curry powder (not a typo, it’s a lot, but it’s good. Curry isn’t spicy, just flavorful)
- 1 t ground coriander
- 1 t ground cumin
- 1 inch peeled and grated ginger (I didn’t use that much, I don’t particularly care for ginger)
- few dashes of hot sauce (I used Tobasco)
- 1 yellow onion. chopped
- 2 or 3 cloves of smashed and chopped garlic
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 of an eggplant, chopped (I didn’t peel)
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped (I hate peeling sweet potato, so used a knife and lost a lot of the flesh accidentally

- salt and pepper to taste at the end

The Directions.

Assemble all of your spices, coconut milk, tobasco sauce, and tomato paste. Combine the sauce ingredients in the bottom of your crockpot. The sauce will be a lovely yellow.

Add the chicken, flipping it over a few times to coat it nicely. Pour in the garbanzo beans.

Wash and chop all of the vegetables, and then add to the Crock-Pot. Don’t worry about stirring them in the sauce. Let them sit on top of the chicken and steam away.

Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours, or on high for 4-6. I cooked our dinner on high for almost 6 hours. The chicken was fully cooked, but still had shape, and the vegetables were soft and quite nice.

Stir carefully to mix flavors. If you stir too rough, the sweet potato will fall apart.

Serve over rice; I used brown.  Add salt and pepper to your preference.

Yummy yummy.  I recommend if you have a crock pot and haven’t used it recently to become reunited with its magic.  Because it is magical, especially on a cold winter’s night when the tummies are growling.

Enjoy!

01.29.11

60.3 inches

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:11 am by Administrator

That’s how much snow has fallen in the past 5 weeks.  In places like Minnesota and Canada that amount is no big deal, but in Boston, that’s about 15 inches more than average for an entire year.  I’m sorry if I seem obsessed with the snow, but it really has dominated reality here, impacting people physically, mentally, socially, …   Schools and work have been closed several times, about once a week, so that the flow of everything gets totally off.  It affects my paperwork and getting things done.  And since this is my first winter in 15 years, it’s been a bit of a shock to my system.  It’s a shock to the people who’ve lived here forever.  So, snow dominates currently.  I’ll try to write about other things, but in the meantime, the weather has been the big deal.

01.23.11

Lawn Chairs in Winter

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:26 pm by Administrator

Yes, lawn chairs have a purpose in the winter in Boston.  They hold your shoveled-out parking space for you.  It is actually legal to “reserve” a space you shovel out when you are gone, at least for 48 hours after a snow emergency.  The thing is, people keep doing it, even longer than 48 hours after the snow emergency.  It seems especially relevant this year, as we keep having snow emergencies.  There have been 3 in 2 weeks.  So, there are lots of lawn chairs (and traffic cones, and garbage cans, and the such) marking shoveled territory all over the city.  My block is no exception, and considering how exhausting it has been to shovel out 3 snow storms worth of snow, I have used my lawn chairs for their winter purpose.

Two examples (not my actual lawn chairs)

The thing is, not everyone respects this ritual of protecting one’s hard work.  I had heard co-workers complain about neighbors moving their markers and saw stories on the news about parking space spats.  But my block seemed pretty tame in this regard.  Not last night…..

It was still not 48 hours after the snow emergency ended, so I made sure to put out my lawn chair to claim my spot.  I hadn’t just shoveled this time.  I had totally cleared the spot, as I knew it was going to get to near 0 degrees, and I didn’t want anything wet to freeze and cause potential challenges.  Other spots on the street were not nearly as cleaned-out, with lots of patches of snow and slush and ice.  I had this funny feeling something was going to happen, especially since I was going to be home pretty late after a concert.  And what do you know?  When I drove down the hill, there was another car in MY SPOT, and my lawn chair was thrown onto the sidewalk on the other side of the street.  Whoa!  I tried to roll down my window to talk to the gentleman who was actually sitting in the car in MY SPOT.  Now, it was pretty late, and it seemed odd that a person was in a car because it was SO.SO.COLD.  My window wouldn’t roll down – it was frozen shut.  So, I stopped the car in the middle of the street and got out to ask this person to kindly give me my spot back.  I kept my distance, just to be safe.  But it didn’t matter.  This guy ignored me and actually put up his hand at me.  Well!  Since it was late, I let it be and parked in a poorly-shoveled spot, too tired to do anything to remedy that.  I took my lawn chair back to the house and somehow refrained from any disrespectful gestures or words.

You are probably wondering why I don’t just move back to Austin.  I had a driveway there, it rarely snowed, and there is non-territorial parking all over the place.  Well, that’s not really an option, so I will have to learn to deal with this part of this city’s culture.  It is a bit of a pain, but it is what it is.  We are supposed to have yet another potential blizzard this week, so I will simply have to shovel all over again.  And maybe this time I will use 3 or 4 lawn chairs.  Maybe I’ll include the picnic table just for good measure.

01.19.11

Winter Craziness

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:28 am by Administrator

Currently it is pouring rain in Boston, turning the 2 feet of snow into a heavy, slushy goop.  This morning it was snowing and below freezing, so there was ice covered with snow.  Slippery to say the least.  My car, which has a perfect track record for starting, would not start.  I had been out of town for 4 days without the car and hadn’t driven since the blizzard last Wednesday.  I guess the combo of not driving and super-frigid temps equaled mechanical issues.  I had a meeting, so I had to get to work.  Thankfully I can catch the bus to work just a block away, and I did.  Well, I slid to the bus stop, freezing my tushy off.   I got to work late, but other members of the meeting were late as well (or didn’t make it due to awful traffic because of the snow).

At some point in the day, the temperature rose significantly, and it started to rain.  Thus turning everything to slush.  And making the snow that fell previously into a heavy dense substance.  Heavy and dense enough to knock down a power line by my job, so the power went out at the end of the day.  The program I work for is in a basement, and it was already dark out, so we had a sudden and unforeseen complete black out.  What a blast!  Somehow everyone got their stuff together and left, earlier than usual, with lots of things left out, undone, and impossible to even see.  We had flashlights, but that place was too creepy to hang out in any longer.

So, I ventured to the bus stop through the slush and ice, sliding every which way, stepping in deep puddles, enduring pouring rain.  It was bizarre.  Thankfully the bus didn’t take too long and was warm.  But due to the blizzard last week and being out of town, I had no food, so I had to go to the grocery store before going home.  And then carry my groceries home on the bus.  Now, people do that here every day of every week, and it’s no biggie.  I used to do this in my younger years.  But I hadn’t done it in a really long time.  And it was raining.  The hardest part of the whole journey was walking home, up a slippery hill, carrying groceries, worried I would fall on my backside and toss my groceries.  I made it home safely, and after dropping off my bags, I tried the car again.  It started!!!!  So I let it run for a while as I pushed the sloppiness off my car and then shoveled it into a growing pile of neighborhood snow.  Will it start in the morning?  Who knows.  If it doesn’t, I’ll just rinse and repeat, hoping everything above the feet doesn’t make contact with the ground.

01.17.11

Poor Pats

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:57 pm by Administrator

The New England Patriots are a really.big.deal up in these here parts (aka pahts).  And the rivalry between the Jets and the Patriots is longstanding and fierce.  My boss is from New York and an avid Jets fan.  Most of the people I work with are Pats fans.  I anticipate when we return to work on Tuesday, there will be a bit of tension, as the Jets beat the Patriots on Sunday night in a playoff game.  Perhaps some of you saw it.  It was a pathetic performance on the part of the Patriots.  So, so sad.  Now, I am not a huge NFL fan or anything, but the Pats Love is contagious.  A little bit like Longhorn Love when living in Austin.  And just like when I lived in Austin, I kinda sorta kept up, mostly through listening to the conversations of Longhorn addicts and watching the expressions of the people at the tailgate parties near my home when I lived in Austin.  I did watch the Jets-Pats game last night.  We actually made popcorn and other football snacks and got really into the game.  I don’t typically do that.  So, I guess the culture is contagious.  Sports are a big deal in Boston.  Even if the Patriots are no longer in the running for the Super Bowl, now there are the Celtics, the Bruins, and soon enough the Red Sox on which to place our love and attention.  I actually got to meet several of the Celtics about a month ago.  I can’t tell you how or why, but let’s just say they are very tall and some of them are hilarious and others more serious and mannerly.  They are a varied bunch of talented athletes.  I will catch a few of the games on TV.  I could go to a game if I wanted to pay A LOT of money, but I think I’ll pass.  It is so interesting to live in a city where all of the sports teams are SO big and play right inside the city and the aura of the team’s performance emanates throughout the city, contributing to driving performance, behavior on public transportation, and the level of public drunkenness.   I find it quite amusing and an interesting sociological phenomenon.  Yes, Austin had the Longhorns, but that’s about it.  Boston is rich in sports addiction.  Aren’t I lucky to be right in the midst of it all?

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