Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday Evening

I'm sitting inside safe and warm while the rain's pouring down outside. Dixie's at her usual spot on her bed sound asleep. Not too much exercise for her today, given that it's been raining all day. Hopefully tomorrow we'll be able to get in our morning walk.

This past Friday, which I took off from work for Veteran's Day, I traded in my car and bought a brand spanking new 2007 Toyota Corolla LE from Watertown Toyota. I'm so happy with my new car. I love it. I now have remote keyless entry, cruise control (which is very cool), electric windows, and a CD player that holds 6 CD's. It's color is indigo pearl something - it looks navy blue with a little sparkle added. And, the best part, I was able to pay cash for it so it is mine with no strings attached.

I was talking to the salesman about the breaking in period and he said that Toyota now runs the engines for 12,000 miles before they're installed in the car so there is no breaking in period. You get in and go. When I left the lot, the car had 51 miles on it. Today I drove down to New Bedford and back for work and it now has close to 200 miles on the odometer. The car I traded in, my '98 Corolla, had 146,735 miles on it - and was running strong. I averaged about 32 mpg. in that car. My new car is supposed to get 32 mpg city and 41 mpg highway.

The mechanic I took my old car to, and will be taking my new one to, told me that he saw no reason why I couldn't have gotten 200,000 miles out of it. I tell ya, Toyota's will run forever.

The only thing I don't like about the new car is the antenna that sits atop the rear of the roof. I think it looks ugly. On the other hand, I'm thinking about afixing something on it so I can find it easier in a parking lot.

I went out today and bought a new digital camera. I had dropped my old Nikon Coolpix one too many times, I guess, and it stopped working. Now I have a 6 megapixel Sony Cyber-shot. Interestingly, it uses AA batteries instead of a ni-cad. The sales guy at Best Buy said that digital cameras are getting slimmer and until you get into the over $200 range most all of them use AA's. I got rechargable batteries and a charger to go with it.

So things are looking up at the moment. The Ravens won on Sunday and went to 7 - 2. The Patriots lost but I don't really care. I was finally able to watch a Ravens game two weeks ago when they beat the Bengals. I tell you, up here in New England you don't get too many Baltimore games. Once the play offs start and the Ravens are kicking butt I may be able to watch a few more games.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Eguie Castrillo at Berklee

The other night we went into town to listen to Eguie Castrillo perform at the Berklee Performance Center. It was quite a show. Eguie and his orchestra play Latin-jazz fusion music. Their sound was too big for the center but boy, it sure was good. Congas, drums and timbales fused with trumpets, saxophones and piano.

The evening started with a video show alternating between jazz and Cuban music performances as a means of providing an historic context for the audience. Then, at the video's conclusion, from in the back of the auditorium marching up to and on stage was, coming down one aisle dixieland jazz and coming down the other aisle Latin rhythms. It was quite a display, complete with dancers. And, it was very effective, the merging of the two distinct and different styles of music. Eguie put it all together.

He plays with such energy that the orchestra lit up under his smiling face and larger than life presence. In full command, Eguie let the players play and the energy swell until the entire Center, audience, dancers and band became one. It was incredible.

I had never listened to Latin jazz fusion music before. I know how to dance the Meringue and have done some Salsa and Cha Cha so I'm no stranger to Latin music. And I've been listening to jazz for close to thirty years. Never, though, had I ever thought about their marriage. Well, after this, I'm a believer. Latin jazz fusion music rocks!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Living Up Here in Massachusetts

Earlier today I was thinking about living in Massachusetts; really, I guess, about living in the metro Boston area. Interesting, at least to me, is that while I live in Waltham I walk the dog in Newton and hang out in Watertown.

I work in Boston, down in the South End and, when I take the commuter rail, the T, from the West Newton station, I get off at the Back Bay station. My lunchtime walks take me up into and through the Boston Common, the public garden, Copley Square, over into Chinatown, and down into the edges of Roxbury.

Last week I walked over to the Berklee Performance Center, which took me past the Christian Science Church. I walked along the edge of its reflection pond and cut through the Church’s huge square.

This evening I spent some time figuring out the distance of today’s walking. I figure I walked close to six miles. And that doesn’t take into account Dixie’s evening walk.

I was able to get out of work early today and so I grabbed up the dog and made it over to Prospect Hill Park in Waltham before sundown. It was a clear, crisp, sunny day today and from my viewpoint ten miles west I had a beautiful view of Boston’s skyline.

I also visit people in Cambridge and go shopping in Harvard Square. I go to festivals in Somerville. I’ve been to flea markets in Grafton, art galleries in Marlboro; my doctor’s office is in Brookline. I shop at the malls in Natick and Burlington. I’ve put my feet in Cape Cod’s waters and hiked in the Berkshires. I’ve climbed through Purgatory Chasm, walked the Keystone Arch Bridge Trail and swam at Shelburne Falls. I’ve seen the Red Sox play at Fenway and chimed in on singing Sweet Caroline.

My job takes me all across the state. This month, November, I’ll be traveling up to Beverly, out to Pittsfield, down to Taunton, New Bedford and Brockton, and over to Fall River.

I’ve been around the Commonwealth, that’s for sure. But Massachusetts is a state that can take a lifetime to explore. One thing’s for sure, living here in the Metro Boston area, it can never be said that there’s nothing to do. There is so much art, culture and variety of activities to do that it’s impossible to be bored.

Massachusetts is a quirky place. The people up here are reserved, but friendly. They drive aggressively but, in person, are polite and considerate. They’re a little hard to initially engage in conversation but once they know you open up like people anywhere else. The accent of the folks here is charming and confounding.

When Julie and I were getting ready to go to Sarasota, one of my colleagues told me to make sure to go to Shockey’s in Venice. It‘s a bar/restaurant with a fishing pier right on the beach. So, we get to Florida and I tell our hosts that we need to make sure to go to Shockey’s. I get a quizzical look and am told there’s no such place. I explain about the pier, the beach, Venice. Ohhhh, they say: You mean Sharkey’s.

When we got back I was telling this story to another person, long time Mass. resident but originally from Buffalo. She told me that she was once driving with this same person and was told to turn on Wannah St. Wannah Street? she said. Yeah, turn there. So, she asked, how do you spell that? W-a-r-n-e-r. The joke about “Pahk the cahh in tha yahd” is not far-fetched when it comes to the folk up here.

I like it up here. Don’t know if I want to stay here forever but for right now it works. I’m still exploring the state and absorbing the New England culture. Of course, if I moved somewhere else that I liked I’d probably do much the same as I am here: explore, meet and hang out with the locals, partake in the natural wonders and seek out its culture.

It does get cold up here. Gets cold and stays cold. It gets long underwear, wool cap and heavy coat cold. Not as cold as it gets in Maine, I’m told. Yeah, to quote a local, and not as wahm as it gets in Florider, either. You know, I think I’ll know it’s time to leave if I ever staht tahkin’ like them.