Thursday, November 05, 2009


I think it is a bad sign that in order to cheer myself up I will sometimes open up my spam email, just to get a giggle out of the terrible spelling and the crimes committed against grammar.

Here's my favorite sentence from a recent email.

"Following the brake out of the war, almost all government offices, cooperation’s and prostates were attacked and vandalized."

All I can say is that had to sting!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Acid Test

Just when I think the level of discourse in our family can’t sink any lower, Doris shows up with a shovel.

I was up at the nieces for dinner a few nights ago. My brother and his wife were in town and I was asked for family dinner. They had brought their new puppy and the Niece was cooking so how could I say no, and so off to Cape Anne I went after work.

My brother met me at the train and during the drive he caught me up on some of Doris hijinx. Once in the house everyone was too busy playing with the new puppy who is at the all ears and feet stage to talk about much of anything else.

Once dinner was on the table conversation became more general and this was when my sister-in-law brought up the topic of “I can’t believe your mother said…”

It would seem that the Niece’s younger sister decided it was time her new beau should meet Grandma. Always a scary proposition at the best of times. From what I can gather the poor fellow is a very polite well, well brought up, southern boy. Whatever the case, the poor man didn’t deserve it.

From what I could gather, Doris decided that the dinner table was the perfect venue for her to launch into a recitation of her most recent visit to the gynecologist. Doris it seems, has not been doing her Kegel exercises and therefore her lady parts are starting to fall out of her “hoo-hoo”. Knowing Doris, I am pretty certain this was all explained in graphic detail. Not, I think, a mental picture you want through the remainder of dinner. What the hapless beau’s reaction to this was, I have never been told, but my sister-in-law said something to the effect that she couldn’t believe my mother brought the subject up, much less at the dinner table. My response to my sister-in-law was “How long have you been married to my brother, now?” Actually, knowing my family, I was more surprised no one asked Doris whether the doctor suggested surgery or just gave her a cork.

Later the Niece was driving me to the train station and mentioned her new beau will be coming to visit from the Netherlands in December. She asked me if I wanted to meet him and we thought about some different activities that he might enjoy on a visit to Boston. She then asked me if I thought she should introduce him to Grandma.

“Only if I get to watch!” was my response.

The Niece being a sport said “Cool! Road trip!” Unable to help myself, I suggested we just throw him to the sharks and play cards with my dad while Doris talks, non-stop at him. It may seem mean, but anyone who can survive Doris is a keeper.

We’re looking at it as the acid test.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Neti Pot Warning

If you use a Neti Pot, make sure you flush ALL the saline solution out of your sinuses. There is nothing more embarrassing than having salt water pour out of your nose when you are going down on someone. Not that this has ever happened to me. Ever. Certainly not yesterday. That is all.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Office conversation

Younger office mate gets off the phone.

Him: That was weird! My mother never calls me at work. I figured something must have happened.

Me: Everything okay?

Him: Yeah, she was just reminding me to call up my grandmother, it's her birthday. She's getting up there.

Me: How old is your grandmother?

Him: She must be like 79 now.

Me: (laughing) Doris is 83 and she's still going strong.

Him: That's right, you have a daughter about my age.

Me: My daughter is older than you.

Him: How old is she? She can't be that much older.

Me: 34

Him: So, she's only.... like.... 6 years older than me. But my parents are older than you.

Me: I'm 54.

Him: Well my dad or 55.


Him: Wow! You are the coolest old guy I know!

Friday, August 21, 2009

This and that

Yeah I know, it's been a while. It has been sort of a mixed bag for me lately as it has for a lot of other people.

However, life goes on and I am going to try and start posting regularly again. If for no other reason than to stop RG from nagging.

I mean, it's not like there hasn't been plenty to bitch about. The weather just plain sucked through June and July and now that August is here, we in the northeast have been hit full force with Boston summer weather. Basically, what that means is oppressive humidity coupled with high temperatures. On the other hand, you don't have to shovel heat and you don't slip and fall on the heat on the sidewalk. Plus, I have something of a tan finally. On the Ganome scale of successful summer, it is best measured on depth of tan. While I am not nearly as dark as I have been in past summers, at least I am not pale, so that's a good thing.

For added measure the recent spate of uncomfortable weather just exacerbates petty annoyances, so I should be able to work myself into a lather about any number of things. Such as the 3 way tie I am having over who to hate the most here in Boston. Bicyclists, pedestrians or motorists.

I could go on about my garden and my lack of motivation to keep it up.

I could crab about work and ponder why it is that at almost every job I've ever had I have wound up having to be the responsible adult, when those around me at times get away with bloody murder. I could also muse on the fact that if I pulled any of the stunts that others manage at work, I'd be out of a job.

All of these are fascinating I know. But for the moment I am just going to think about trying to get to the beach over the weekend.

Monday, June 29, 2009

As much as things have changed....

I was pretty horrified when I heard about the raid on the Rainbow Lounge. I admit, it is Texas, after all. But still....

40 years after Stonewall and people wonder why we are still out marching and making ourselves visible. The next person to suggest that gay people are looking for "special rights" and not just our basic civil rights is due a good bitch slapping.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Koko Taylor. Aged 80

I just read that the great Koko Taylor has passed away. In my youth she was frequently in the Boston area, often at the old Passim's Coffee House. She was more known to blues fans than the general public, but she was one of the truly great voices in American music. I for one will miss her.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Good News

I had been waiting around for my test results and finally called Dr. Fred to get the news. As it turns out, my test for celiac disease came back negative, so I can gorge myself on bread if I want. On top of that, my cholesterol test showed that my cholesterol level is actually down since the last time I was tested! I guess all this healthy food and exercise is paying off.

So, it would seem that my problem is lactose intolerance which can be controlled. I think this means no more ice cream, but that is a pretty small price to pay. I am not that big a fan of ice cream and I actually prefer sorbet, so this will be a good excuse to start playing with the ice cream maker that C. gave me, seeing what flavors of sorbet I can turn out.

I have been very sporadic in my gardening and I am going to try and get myself on a regular schedule and start making some changes in the garden. I am actually thinking about what I would like to do in the garden again which I take as a good sign. I am hoping that if I can get back into the groove with shoveling dirt and pulling weeds I will start to feel some satisfaction with the whole gardening process again.

I did manage to remember to get a card in the mail to Doris for Mother's Day. I just followed the insulin shock method of card buying. I just went through the cards until I found one that made me start to feel nauseated and caused me to start seeing little black dots swimming in front of my eyes from the level of saccharine in the sentiment. If this doesn't keep me off the shit list for at least a couple of weeks, nothing will.

So, I have the weekend before me. It will involve hitting the gym fairly hard, now that the worst of the spring pollen season is over. I have been slacking off, mostly because my head has been so full of snot that I was sure I would drop a weight on my head if I tried to do anything that would cause my blood to circulate. I also have to head out to the garden and continue with the project I've started and somehow make some time to do things with friends. With any luck it will involve seeing the new X-Men movie. I mean, Hugh Jackman! Do I really need to say anything else?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

More Whine?

This has not been a red letter week in Ganomeland. I went into the dentist on Monday to have what was to be my last crown done. Dr. Hunky realized it was time for x-rays. The result is that one of the crowns I had done previously has a cavity under it. The good news is that it is under warranty, so it's not going to add to my dental bill burden. The bad news is that it will eat up some more personal time at work so that I can have this attended to.

We are also having what seems to be a record spring for pollen. At the moment I have no voice or appetite. I am sure that all of my friends are counting their blessings in that I am really not talking much and as it turns out that even when I do try to talk people can only understand about half of what I have to say. Another upside, if you will is that several nights of post-nasal drip have killed my appetite and I've dropped 2 pounds this week.

However, an unfortunate side effect of this is that this weekend marks my friend Wahz 65th birthday. His friends had planned a birthday lunch at one of the snazzier bistros which I was suppose to go to. This morning I realized after my bowl of morning oatmeal was making itself known, that about all I would be able to manage at lunch would be a cup of tea. However, when I called up Wahz to suggest that I go over and just stick my head, in have a cup of tea, and at least show my face, he suggested I stay inside out of the pollen, since he could only understand about half of what I said over the phone.

If this isn't enough, I had to go and see Dr. Fred as well for a check up. In the course of our conversation I said I was feeling fine, though I had been having some mild digestion issues. After asking me about what I'd been eating, he gave the opinion that I have developed lactose intolerance and I go on a 2 week dairy free diet. After a little more questioning on the good doctors part, he has also decided to have me screened for celiac disease.

I really can't help but feel that it is insult added to injury, expecting a Frenchman to give up both cheese AND bread! Dessert I can live without, but a life without bread or pasta is looking very grim indeed. Life without extremely smelly, strong and gooey cheese looks pretty pallid as well.

Did I mention that yesterday around mid day the new temporary crown Dr. Hunky had just put in popped out? It did. I wound up having to leave work early and having my tooth glued back in. This did not get my weekend off to a glowing start.

All in all, I am beginning to feel like the character in the Oscar Wilde story who was described as having "lost his temper and his digestion in India and never found either again".

I know that in the great scheme of things, life will get better. If I have these food allergies, I will change my diet and learn to live with them. I will find some way to do something for Wahz to mark his landmark birthday. The currently sex crazed trees will eventually lie back, light up a cigarette and ask, "Was it good for you?" and life will become about as manageable as anybody's life gets.

For the time being however, I am going to pop another benedryl and feel sorry for myself while I pray for rain to knock some of the pollen out of the air, and start thinking about what life will be like living on a diet that doesn't include wheat.

There's always Thai food!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A Piercing Look

Last summer I was chatting with one of the other gardeners over in the old Fenway Gardens. I had been sweating away for a while and by that point had my shirt off. A mutual friend stopped by. When he saw me he did a double take and said something to the effect that I was ripped. "You should get your nipples pierced!", was his final judgment.

Now as a matter of fact, when I was a much younger and more carefree Ganome and had much more disposable income, I had had my nipples pierced. I had gone about in this happy state for several years. Then I got quite ill and wound up in the hospital for a week. One of the many drawbacks to my hospitalization was that they made me remove all jewelry. By the time I was back home, the piercings had closed up.

As memory serves, the actual piercing process was not a pleasant experience and was not one I felt I wished to repeat. But the idea stuck with me. Over the winter, I was visiting my dentist, Dr. Hunky and we were talking about tattoos and piercings and he evinced some surprise at my undecorated condition. After I got home I contacted and old friend who used to be a piercer to ask her advice on anyone that was reputable around town. She gave me the name of a shop and I sat on the information for a while longer. I was not particularly anxious to relive my past experience, but the idea of having pierced nipples with the novelty of actually having pecs was very tempting.

Finally by the end of the winter, the combination of boredom, tax return money and what must have been a desire to return to my former state of stainless steel decoration won out. I headed off to Chameleon in Harvard Square.

I wound up meeting an nice young fellow named Owen who did the job. It was quick and relatively painless. No one was more surprised than me. You can see the results. I've heard that body piercing is so 1995 and no one has it done anymore. This pleases me no end to hear. It's always better to march along on your own than to follow the crowd. Whatever the case, I feel like I have worked far to hard to develop some actual pecs, so I'm gonna have fun with them.

Maybe it's time to start saving for more tattoos.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Busy Weekend

I've had a productive weekend. Yesterday I spent a few hours at C.'s so he could teach me how to use PhotoShop to clean up some architectural floor plans so they can be used as a digital reference for space at work. It was a perfect day for it. It was cold and if not rainy, gloomy and threatening.

Today I managed to do a couple of loads of laundry, put in some time at the gym, go grocery shopping and get a couple of hours in at the garden. I am now simmering tomato sauce in preparation to assembling a scallop and eggplant parmesan, using the recipe that Brett Stewart posted on his blog. Brett is apparently a man of endless talents, blogger, commentator, humorist, activist and who would have guessed, cook. On top of being hotter than a tin roof in July. Too bad he's taken, or I would have moved to Toronto by now.

I suppose I could make a start on cleaning my apartment as well, however I forgot to hire a bulldozer. Maybe in a couple of weeks. Next weekend is out of the question, since I will be spending Sunday eating Jell-o salad in the bosom of my family. I could have ducked out of this I suppose, but that would have meant abandoning the Niece to face this ordeal alone. While there are those who consider me heartless, not even I could leave the Niece to that fate. Besides, if nothing else our family is amusing in a "god I wish I had a gun so I could shoot myself" kind of way.

I long ago came to the realization that killing my family was not the answer. That would only lead to prison, which would just be another version of my family with the disadvantage that I wouldn't be able to occasionally escape for a quiet walk by myself. No. If I am going to molder, I would prefer to do that in a tasteful urn, not in some prison cell where I would undoubtedly wind up working in the laundry.

The garden is coming along slowly but surely. I have still not been bitten by the gardening bug. I can see what I need to do and I am formulating my plans for the garden, I just am not experiencing the overwhelming enthusiasm that is usually what accompanies spring. Things are starting to turn green, I am getting an idea of what has survived and what will have to be culled. I even moved a couple of plants, yet nothing. However, hope springs eternal. I am hoping that if I keep going through the motions I will eventually become excited about gardening. For the time being all I really want to do is get the chore out of the way and then go and reward myself by doing something simple like treating myself to a cup of take out coffee. Hanging out in the garden is just out of the question.

On the other hand my work out is going much better these days. Not that I have made any real gains in my routine, but I seem to be redeveloping my enthusiasm for pushing myself. I am back to setting goals for myself and even if I don't reach them, it won't be for a lack of effort on my part.

So, perhaps there is hope. Maybe if I just stick with the garden through this rather joyless period, I will be able to start enjoying the activity again. I've even set some goals, so who knows?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Back in the garden

Yesterday was a nice day here in Boston. If a bit on the cloudy side, it was warm and pleasant. I went to the gym and after that ran a couple of errands. One of my errands was to get my garden renewal into the post. I have pretty mixed feelings about this. Last year was not much fun in the old garden with one thing and another.

After I had finished my errands, I grabbed a cup of coffee for the walk home and coming across a city bench I sat down, enjoyed my steaming cup of caffeinated goodness along with the warmth and watched the city go by. After a few minutes I pulled out my phone and gave my friend C. a call and suggested we get out and enjoy the weather. C. suggested we go to a wonderful little pastry shop called Athan's, where one small pastry provides you with a days worth of calories. We went, we ate, we schmoozed. We probably also gained about 5 lbs each just by inhaling in the place.

By the time I got home, I still had the afternoon ahead of me. Having sent in the money to the garden society I felt like I ought to make at least a gesture in the direction of getting my garden in order. I had done virtually no clean up last fall, so there was plenty to be done. I also wanted to do a serious pruning on the climbing rose that was the basis of my problems with the garden society last summer.

I walked over to the gardens, grabbed a wheel barrow and then trundled off to my plot. Needless to say, I hadn't been able to find my garden gloves, so my pruning experience was a bit like throwing myself into a pit of angry cats. One of the attractions for me of the "New Dawn" rose, aside from the pretty cream and pink blooms is the fact that it has thorns that could take the hide off an elephant.

One and a half wheelbarrow loads of rose canes later and I was ready to do some more clean up. Montauk daisy, dried up and sad herbaceous peony, Annabelle hydrangea and cone flowers, all got much needed haircuts. I then began cleaning up leaves and willow wands that had dropped into the garden.

This also gave me a chance to inspect the spring bulbs I had bedded last fall. There are some noticeable bald spots in the biggest tulip bed. Evidence of the depredations made by the local rodent population over the winter. Still, I ought to get a fairly decent display and I am less resentful over the loss since I had anticipated this and purchased bargain bulbs. Others may wish to risk expensive Dutch bulbs, I however learned my lesson years ago and have opted for Darwin tulips. They are cheap. They will bloom for years unlike their showy Dutch cousins, which should be treated as annuals and as I stated are also cheap. If you are going to wind up feeding the voles, squirrels and rats, you are not obligated to serve them the equivalent of a meal from a four star restaurant.

I had hoped that all this labor would work its magic and I would start to feel the enthusiasm for gardening that comes with spring and the appearance of leaf buds and of plants starting to poke up through the earth. There is nothing like the quickening of spring to renew you.

So far, I'm not feeling it. I filled up the wheelbarrow with garden waste. I inspected plants for signs of life and evidence that they have made it through another New England winter. I just couldn't feel that rush of excitement over the number of buds set on the viburnum or disappointment at how poorly my rhododendron had fared.

I am working on plans for changes in my little plot. I am going to try a less is more approach to the garden. Clearing out things I am not in love with. I will be changing the way some of the beds are laid out. I am even girding my loins to make some changes in the topography of the garden, but there is a something missing.

Some of this may have to do with the fact that a lot of the social aspect of gardening has disappeared for me. I very much doubt I will be spending time hanging out with my fellow gardeners this year. What with one thing and another I feel like I really should start keeping that part of my life at arms length. When I go out to get my hands dirty I should be concentrating on communing with my plants. I really don't feel like getting into any future situations that lead to ill will. Goodness knows that on one particularly memorable occasion I was let know in a most definite manner that one gardener would consider his world a better place if I kept any comments and opinions to myself unless they are on the topic of gardening and I suspect then only if they are solicited and of a technical nature.

So, as things stand I am going to try and concentrate my gardening efforts to clearing out any unwanted plant life, reshaping beds and trying to make sure I do my gardening in the earlier hours of the day and leave the rest of the day to my betters. This will I hope leave me more time to hit the beach this summer. The beach has it's own appeal and I hope it will allow me to cultivate not only flowers but also a good all over tan. After all, there is a clothing optional beach just a quick T ride away.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Goal weight

I have stumbled upon a new method of achieving your goal weight as we prepare for swim suit season.

No, not the stomach flu. That's for amateurs. How hard is it to lose weight when everything you eat goes through you like a dose of salts.

No, no. All you have to do is catch a simple head cold and have it settle in an ear. If the continuous pounding headache isn't enough to put you off your chow the sensation of having a nail driven into the side of your head combined with bouts of dizziness that have about the same effect as being on a boat in rough water will kill any desire to eat, no matter how hungry you feel. That's the real key here. No matter that you experience hunger pangs, just the thought of consuming solid food will turn your stomach.

Yesterday I had one portion of pudding. Not the whole bowl, but what it says on the package is one portion which according to the manufacturers of Jello pudding is 1/4 cup or 1/4 of the entire batch.

Why pudding? It had a certain innocuous nursery appeal, I associate pudding and ginger ale with childhood illnesses. I really couldn't think of anything less offensive. It stayed down, but I can't say I enjoyed it much.

At this rate I will be ready to be seen in my new squarecut swimming trunks in a matter of days. The one problem with that is that the weather will not be ready for my new swimsuit for at least 2 more months. Possibly longer if the weather continues to be uncooperative. However I am looking at this as a chance to develop an aversion to food. Or at least yummy, delicious, bad for you, tastes so good food. If I work this window of opportunity perhaps I can train myself to loath the mere thought of pork chops and focus on things like broth and dry toast as being truly the things that will be satisfying and delicious summer treats and not a big plate of fried chicken and potato salad.

Still, hope springs eternal in the human breast and perhaps I will be able to keep my weight down to 160 for the warm months. But preferably without the standing on a rolling deck sensation.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Book meme

The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (X)
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (X )
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (x)
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (x)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (X)
6 The Bible - ()
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (X)
8 1984 - George Orwell (X )
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman (X)
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (X)
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott (x)
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy (X)
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller ( )
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (X )
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier (X )
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (X)
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk ()
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (x)
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger ()
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot (X )
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell ( X)
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (X)
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens (X )
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy (X)
25 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams (X)
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh ( X)
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky (X)
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck (x)
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (X)
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (x)
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy ( X)
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens (X)
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (X)
34 Emma - Jane Austen (X)
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen (X)
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (x)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini - ()
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres ( )
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden ()
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne ()
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell (X )
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (X)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez ( )
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving (x)
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins ( X)
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery ()
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy (X )
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood ()
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding (X)
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan ()
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel (x)
52 Dune - Frank Herbert (X)
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons (X )
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen (X )
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth ( )
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon ( )
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens (X )
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley(X)
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon ()
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez ( )
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (x)
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov (X)
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt ( )
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold ()
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas (X)
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac (x)
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy (X)
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding (x)
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie ( )
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville ()
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens (X )
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker (X)
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (x)
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson (x)
75 Ulysses - James Joyce ()
76 The Inferno - Dante ()
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome ( )
78 Germinal - Emile Zola (X)
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray (X)
80 Possession - AS Byatt (X )
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (X)
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell ( )
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker (X)
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro ( )
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert (X )
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry ( )
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White (x)
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom ()
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (X)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton ( )
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad (X)
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery (x)
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks ( )
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams (X)
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole (X)
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute ( )
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas (X)
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (x)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl ()
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo (X)

It looks like I've read about 70 of the titles off their reading list and there are several that I have been meaning to pick up. There really should be a rating system though. Most of the books I've read an either like or in the case of Thackery, Austen, Dickens and Shakespeare, love. Others like the "Da Vinci Code" and "On the Road", not so much. I'm not sure "Hamlet" counts, since I also checked off the complete works of the Bard, but hey it pads the score!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Family values

One of the last times I was talking with Doris, she mentioned that she had been talking with my Great Aunt Bertha. (That woman has to be 200 years old by now) It would seem that she has been looking into the Scottish portion of the family.

I was a little surprised by this. I know a fair amount about the French side of the family. On my father's side we are Pelletier's and Rivard's. On my mother's side there are the Mallette's. I am aware, though not knowledgeable about the Abenaki ancestry. My great grandmother on my father's side was full blooded Abenaki and according to Doris there is plenty more native blood on both sides of the family.

There is however, also the Brown clan.

In the past, we have never discussed the Brown's. In large part this is due to my grandfather, Carroll Brown.

When Florence Mallette met him in 1919, he was a strapping, handsome redhead, fresh home from the war. One thing led to another and over the objections of her parents she married a Nova Scotia Scot, who was also a protestant. Believe me, this was a big deal back then.

As is turns out, this was not the wisest move Grandma ever made. While Carroll may have been handsome and strapping and redheaded, he was also a hopeless alcoholic and a spendthrift. By the end of 1926, when my mother was still an infant, Grandma heaped further disgrace on the family by wisely divorcing Carroll.

Flash forward to the present day and for some reason things are being glossed over. Forgive and forget seems to be the watchword and the older generation seems to be embracing their Scots ancestry. According to Bertha, aside from the Brown's there is also a branch of the family called Stewart. She of course claims these are the royal Stewart's. Other than the fact that Bonnie Prince Charlie was another hopeless and useless drunk, I have no reason to believe that this portion of the family was ever anything more than a group of drunken sheep thieves, who managed to get themselves deported to Canada by supporting Charles Stewart's claim, rather than actual descendants of the Stewart dynasty.

But I decided to be a sport and check out Scottishness. A kilt seemed like the place to start. I now have verified that the cheap bastard gene is definitely French.

I googled men's kilts, went to a website in Scotland that sells kilts and not wanting to be pretentious by choosing the Royal Stewart tartan, I went for the Brown family tartan. In order to go about authentically un-bifurcated, I would have to be willing to part with, in the neighborhood of, 400 dollars. And that's just for the kilt.

It seems that you cannot just put on a kilt. You also need a sporran, a sporran chain, a kilt belt and a kilt pin. After that there are the kilt hose and flashes. This is just for the casual look. I shudder to think what a formal outfit would cost.

Pained to the very core of my cheap bastard French soul I did take a look at what I would call the "Ready made from the waist down Scotsman kit". This it would seem is the economy answer to heritage reclamation. The basic outfit includes everything one would require in order to turn yourself out in some sort of Rob Roy fantasy.

There are a few restrictions. Instead of the rather snazzy clan tartan, you are confined to a not unpleasant blue plaid. There is also included in the package, a Jacobite shirt, which it appears there is no escape from, sporran, sporran chain, belt (who knew there were special kilt belts) buckle, brogues, fake Sgian Dubh, kilt pin, kilt hose, flashes and last but not least, a kilt hanger.

All of this totals up to 417.00 US. I have no idea what the shipping charges would be. There is the option to eliminate a few of the accessories. For instance, I could do with a little less authenticity and remove the Sgian Dubh, the brogues and the kilt hanger. This got me down to 330.00 and change not including S&H. As I said however there is no escape from the Jacobite shirt, which I can say with no reservation I would not be caught dead in, whether it be public or private and could do quite nicely without paying for.

All this feels a bit excessive for a man who is willing so scour every discount outlet in the Boston area if necessary looking for bluejeans, since I consider paying any more than 20 bucks for a pair of jeans is highway robbery. So, for someone that has never celebrated Burn's day, eaten haggis or done a highland fling $330, not to even think about over $400 seems more than excessive. In my defense I can say that, no stranger to making a fool of myself in public, I am not worried about looking ridiculous by wearing a kilt. Actually, aside from being a bit on the bowlegged side I have pretty nice gams. In some ways there is an appeal there, since I would think that kilts would be quite comfortable. I actually can think of a certain other blogger, who I am told by credible sources turns quite a handsome figure in a kilt. For me the thing is that I doubt I would make a credible looking Scotsman.

I don't have the complexion for it for starters. As far as I can tell, all of the Brown's and Stewart's are susceptible to sunburn, whereas I tend to go from a sick looking olive in the winter months to a distinct brown after being exposed to a refrigerator light for a few minutes. I am not worried about meeting the height requirement. Grandpa Brown, while built like an ox, was not a tall man. In all honesty, I look more like Jacques Bonhomme than I do a Jacobite so I am not sure anyone would be fooled into thinking I looked like I harkened from the British Isles.

Besides it is also much less expensive to embrace my Quebec heritage. I already have a hat with earflaps, and a plate of poutine with a couple LaBatt's is substantially less expensive than a kilt. It will also not induce nightmares of my Quebecer ancestors rising from their graves to admonish me for pissing away that much money on a piece of clothing that I don't think any of them would be entirely pleased with.

But, in the spirit of embracing all of my ancestors I am willing to compromise and by mathematically reducing my Scottish blood from on quarter to a fifth and get my Scotch on in the form of single malt. Preferably, Glenlivet or Laphroaig.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Once more round the dance floor

Once again we celebrate the anniversary of the day that marks the first of the many times I have disappointed Doris. This particular instance was when, in 1955, I refused to be born on Valentine's Day. (Even then I was operating on gay time.)

Yes kids, in spite of a misspent youth that was largely characterized by drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse as well as having lots of man sex that made the Baby Jeebus cry, I have against all reason made it through 54 years.

I should warn you that I am planning on hanging around for at least a while yet, like some small, pestilential and persistent weed.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy VD

In an attempt to get into the spirit of this malignant holiday, I thought I would share with you a romantic little tune, sung by the late Blossom Dearie.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Be My Baby

I was listening to BBC radio this morning and heard that Estelle Bennett, sister of Veronica "Ronnie" Spector who with Nedra Talley was one third of the Ronettes has passed away.

It has been over 40 years since this song hit the airwaves, when I was just a wee Ganome, dreaming of the day that I too would be able to wear my hair in a beehive and get some white go-go boots.

A lot has changed, but I still love this song which is always featured when I am playing the soundtrack of my childhood inside my head.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blossom Dearie

You may or may not have heard, Blossom Dearie passed away Saturday. I remember first hearing about her as teenager, reading "The New Yorker" in the library at my high school in rural Vermont. Blossom Dearie gave me a vision of a city that was far more exciting and sophisticated than the cow town I was living in. Eventually, I landed in Boston which, while more exciting and sophisticated than Bomoseen Vermont, none the less fell short of Manhattan. Almost 40 years have passed since I first heard Blossom Dearie but her voice still brings back a small part of a 15 year old sitting in a high school library dreaming of an exciting life in the city.

I think the song I will always remember best is her rendition of "Satin Doll". I couldn't find that particular song on Youtube, so instead this is Ms. Dearie singing an Irving Berlin tune.

We'll miss you Blossom.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Another birthday

As you may have read, Doris turned 83 Saturday. As these things go, while I may feel like the old lady is getting, well... old, it doesn't really effect my perception of my own mortality too much.

However, 34 years ago today, Daddy's precious little angle came into the world. I cannot believe my teenage daughter is in fact 34 years old and has a kid of her own that is now in high school.

Any associated number with my own age really doesn't bother me one way or the other. But this having an adult child crap can really make the years weigh you down a bit. At any rate, happy birthday kid!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Happy 83rd

I feel compelled to inform her many fans, that Doris is celebrating her 83rd birthday today. I called like a dutiful son and she talked at me, at great length. However, it's her birthday and I let her go on as long as she wanted to. As we say up in Vermont, that woman could talk the hind leg off a mule!

Friday, February 06, 2009

A Lucky Break

Considering that I was not looking forward to my day at all, it has turned out much better than expected.

I had to go off an see the orthopedist this morning and thought I was going to waste half of my day at the hospital. Instead I was whisked in and out of x-ray and the doctor was actually with me "shortly". The upshot of all this is that I in fact merely chipped a bone and did not have a stable fracture, whatever the hell that is and, AND this is the most important part, I get to throw out the much hated and I have to admit after 2 and a half weeks, rather gamey wrist splint I have been wearing.

I have also been given the green light to lift weights and use the rowing machine to my little hearts content.

You have no idea of how much better this makes me feel already. I don't think I had any idea of how much going to the gym was a part of my routine and how much shape it gave to me day.

Now, to get back on my schedule!

Super Ganome

I figured I might as well jump on the bandwagon and come up with my superhero avatar. Uhhh.... They did not have a short guy with a middle aged roll available. But he's bald! So I at least get honesty points for that one.

Obviously, one of the things that happens when I transform into Super Ganome is that I get a bottle of "Just For Men" out and touch up the old facial hair.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The good news

I was walking past the burned out shells of the string of restaurants that I had mentioned earlier. I was walking, disheartened by El Pelon and noticed a sign saying that they are planning on reopening!

My little heart is singing, though I managed to refrain from doing a happy dance on the icy sidewalk, since one broken wrist is enough.

Hopefully, RG and I will be once again eating burritos the size of an adult head.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Stop yer whinin"

I haven't been blogging much recently, in part because I broke a bone in my wrist and typing is even more challenging than usual. At the best of times I am a pretty piss poor typist, however my cast keeps trying to send things to the printer, or asking my browser to display in HTML, among other things.

Also, I haven't felt like I've had much to say other than to gripe about how much I a.) hate being in a cast and b.) that this situation is totally screwing up my workout routine.

Not exactly compelling and I am tired of hearing myself whine about the situation, so I am fairly certain no one else wants to hear about it.

So, to move things on to a positive note, I have been thinking about what has been working out lately. It's been a good time for gadgets. After putting in good service, my faithful Nokia 3220 really needed to be put out to pasture. It has been a great phone, but the contacts on the keys, specifically the * key, which allows you to unlock the keypad was going.

After trying out a cheap replacement, that was not going to do it, I bit the bullet and got this baby.

It seems to be as good a phone as my old one, which is all I really wanted. But to make my consumer experience more enjoyable, it has an MP3 player built into it and it actually sounds good. Who knew? I don't expect it will replace my iPod, but it will be a nice distraction on days that I go out unpodded and get stuck waiting somewhere and need something to distract me. It definitely isn't coming into the gym with me. Unlike some of my fellow gym goers, I view the gym as a refuge from phones and email.

Another new item that HAS made it into the gym with me is my new razor.

I had seen this thing advertised on the internet, but just figured that is was up there with the thigh master as far as actually being useful. However, I saw one of the guys at the gym using one and he raved about how sharp the thing is and how good of a job it does. And it actually does. Work that is. The only thing I have had to get used to is that you don't press down, not even to remove the barbed wire that grows out of my face in lieu of a beard. It's a pretty cool gizmo and I will be happily grooming myself with this item for the foreseeable future.

Last but not least, I was turned on to the following video by Joe. Unusually, for me I commented on Youtube. The next day my inner teenage girl screamed at the top of her lungs when I saw in my email that Matt Alber had replied to my comment on Youtube.

So, these are a few good/fun/silly things that have been going on. I am sure that the next 5 or 6 weeks will fly by and then I will be back in the free weight room and start kicking asses.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another example of why the Ganome is a dumbass

Life is full of important lessons. I have been taught a very important lesson recently.

If you are walking down an icy sidewalk and your legs go out from under you, let go of the Little Miss Healthypants lunch that you are carrying. Because if you stupidly try to hang onto it, instead of just landing on your well padded ass, you slam your hand down on the sidewalk and break one of the small bones in your wrist that they can't reset.

This takes you out of the running in the weight room for 6 weeks and puts a real crimp in your workout routine.

It's looking like there is a lot of time in the near future on the much hated aerobic equipment at the gym for a certain dumbass Ganome that we all know and laugh at. I am probably going to be the size of a house by the time this is all over. RG however thinks I'll only go up to the size of a trailer, but he is always optimistic.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Big Fire

When I headed out the door at my usual ungodly hour to go to the gym, I smelled smoke. Initially, I was worried that there was a fire in my building because the smell was very strong in my foyer.

Walking out the door, I looked down Peterborough St. and saw firetrucks further down the block. I walked towards the excitement and saw that there were firetrucks lined up down the block. A quick look at the activity told me that I should turn around. The last thing the firemen needed was some gawker getting underfoot.

I headed off to the gym and when I got home I checked the Boston Globe site. This is the story. The whole row of little restaurants down the street have been destroyed.

It's upsetting. Not just because, selfishly, these are places I like to go to and give my money to, but because they were all Mom and Pops.

These were little privately owned restaurants, which unlike chains actually added to the character of my little part of Boston. They were by and large cheap places to get some good food. They were also a sort of common ground. Walking into any one of these establishments allowed you to see an interesting cross section of our increasingly yuppified neighborhood. While there were young professionals aplenty, you also could still see students, section 8 housing residents, the elderly and low wage earners, like me. All of them had sidewalk seating, so it afforded some great people watching opportunities. I especially liked the lack of pretense. No matter how much you are earning, it is impossible to pretend you are doing anything other than eating a burrito off a little cardboard container plate, when you are engaged in this activity.

I hope that the various store owners have good insurance. I really hope that they are all able to rebuild. It would be nice to think that the city will do something to ease the way for these small businesses to reopen. I doubt that will happen.

Hizzonner hasn't attached the Boston name to any project that didn't have the term luxury attached to it in years. I have a hard time believing, especially in the current economic climate that the city is in any way going to assist a group of small business owners, regardless of the ineffable contribution that they make to keeping some sense of neighborhood going in our area.

So, it is rather a sad day in the Fenway. I will be interested in seeing how the neighborhood reacts and if out of some sense of neighborly goodwill or a desire to keep some identity as a distinct neighborhood if the community does something to restore what has been an institution on Peterborough Street.

Monday, January 05, 2009

The real curse of the holidays

Everyone talks about why they hate the holidays. It's too commercial. It's too frantic. Expectations are too high.

I hate the holidays because they are too fattening. I received a rude awakening when I got on the scales recently and tipped in at 170. Somehow, between Thanksgiving and Xmas, I had managed to acquire a few unwelcome pounds. It's always the same thing, every year. No matter how much you promise yourself that you will exercise moderation, there is always someone shoving a plate of cookies under your nose saying something like, "Oh have one, it's the holidays." Or I have to listen to RG tell me that holiday calories don't count. This coming from the only person I know that can eat like a pig and lose weight.

So, once again this morning, I headed out the door to the gym. It was an act of will.

As I was enjoying my slumbers last night, Mother Nature decided to rain down ice. I swear I got more exercise trying to remain upright going to and coming from the gym. However, needs must when the devil drives as they say, so I am trying to get back into the habit of eating sensibly and exercising portion control, while bumping up my routine to defeat the evil forces of delicious fattening food.

I suppose I should take a glass half full attitude towards this. Look at it as motivational and try and think about how this will get me to bump my workout up and get closer to my goals.

In fact however, I am just looking forward to being able to button my pants without holding my breath again.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy 2009

Happy New Year's! It is currently 6 degrees with a wind chill of -11 outside.

I have no idea of what we have in store for us for the new year, but I would like to wish the best to everyone and hope that come what may, we all enjoy a better year.

I myself will be heading out to the gym soon and then spend the day freezing as I go and pay calls on friends.

Once again, my very best wishes for everyone.