Archive | June, 2011

Good People at Trader Joe’s

24 Jun

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It was a dark and stormy night. Actually, it was rush hour on a Thursday, but the dark and stormy part is true – thunder and lightning had been booming and crashing for 30 minutes or so; all around me people were rushing to finish errands and get home before the expected heavy rain and possible hail began.

I dashed into Trader Joe’s for a couple of things, along with a few other hardy souls. Just as I rounded the corner into the dairy section I heard shouting: “call 911!” and stopped in my tracks  as the Trader’s staff converged to help an elderly man lying on his back on the cement floor, obviously having a seizure. Immediately the staffers turned the man on his side, placed a rolled up shirt under his head as a cushion and called 911 while one person comforted the man’s distressed wife as she stood, shocked, beside him. Quick action by the staff of Trader Joe’s made this unfortunate medical emergency seem like a well-practiced drill by a team of EMTs. The man regained consciousness soon after and I completed my transaction and left just before the emergency workers arrived.

My experience at Trader Joe’s has always been pleasant – friendly helpful staff, quality products at a reasonable price – all the reasons one would continue to patronize a business and recommend it to friends. Now I know the back story – this Trader Joe’s is staffed with conscientious, well-trained people who are willing, as individuals and as a team, to do what they can to help their fellow man.

Good people. Shop TJ’s.

Trader Joe’s Hanover (513)

1775 Washington St
Hanover, MA 02339
Phone Number: 781-826-5389
Trading Hours: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm

The Rock Keeps on Truckin’

21 Jun
The Rock and Me

The Rock and Me, in Full Regalia for The Cotillion, 1973

My friend, Paul, was a most memorable guy. I first met Paul when I was 15 years old and he was 17, but I had known of him for years as we attended the same church and Catholic school. If there was fun to be had, Paul, or “The Rock” as he was lovingly known, was the first one in the pool. Or on the bus, or to arrive at the festivities. The Rock was always the life of the party wherever he stood. Whether he was playing timpani in church, marching with the Sancians drum corps, or singing frat songs at the top of his lungs in an elevator, he was definitely having the best time of anyone within earshot. And if you were a witness, you were included  in the good times – he was impossible to ignore. The Rock had a contagious attitude of goodwill and love for all in his path. Like all of us, there were times when he doubted himself, but mostly he was full of love and life.

Paul was highly intelligent and had a wide array of interests; deep in his bones, though, he was a musician. Percussion was his specialty – in drum corps he played bass drum, toms, timpani, and xylophone (we called them “bells”). In addition to many years marching with the St. Francis Xavier Sancians, he spent time as an altar boy, the manager of the BC High football team, an engineering student, an employee of the Boston Flower Exchange, then briefly joined the seminary until he decided that would not be a good career choice for him.

Paul’s life was cut drastically short at age 29, when he was taken from us by a massive heart attack, yet those of us who loved him feel he’s still with us, due to both the funny stories of him we find occasion to share, and his famous catch phrases. If ever you made a stupid mistake in his presence, Paul’s biggest insult was to call you “hockey puck.” At the other end of the spectrum was his all-purpose feel-good phrase “keep on truckin'” – if you needed a boost, or felt tired or discouraged, you could count on The Rock for a heartfelt “keep on truckin'”, which provided the desired result almost every time.

The Rock was a strong and reliable friend whose unique spirit influences my life even now, almost 28 years after his death. I’ll keep on truckin’, my friend. Thanks for everything.

Kitchen Garden Update

15 Jun
Kitchen Garden 06-15-11

Progress in the Garden

It’s June 15 – the kitchen garden is progressing nicely as you can see from today’s photo – and my Christmas Cactus has joined the group to take advantage of the tremendous amount of liquid sunshine falling from the skies of late.

I’ll update from time to time…

Click here for the original Kitchen Garden Post

May I Borrow Your Pen?

14 Jun

PensYou have a pen for a day or two, and then it’s gone. It disappears. Does this happen to you? I like to keep a pen or two on me at all times, favoring those that write with blue ink. During my school days, I did my best to keep my pens in my desk or book bag when not in use, but they always disappeared eventually. When my two sons were in school, they’d take a new pen almost daily as they left the house for school. By day’s end, the pen they left with would likely be gone, sometimes replaced with another they’d found along the way, or they’d simply arrive home sans writing implement. The boys would be as puzzled as I: where do these pens go?

The question I’ve been pondering since high school remains: why are we not knee deep in pens? Why are the hallways of schools everywhere not cluttered with pens, ripe for the picking? A plethora of pens to be kicked like fallen leaves as you walk through the hallways of your office building? Yet, when you arrive at the cashier at the supermarket, no one seems to have a pen.

Where do the pens go?

I bought a seven-dollar pen because I always lose pens and I got sick of not caring.
~ Mitch Hedberg

Ants Marching

11 Jun

Ant feeding on honey Each Spring without fail, our home is beset by ants. It’s a common problem and we’ve come to recognize that Spring would not be sprung unless at least one of the 22,000 species of ants is in our kitchen foraging for crumbs.

Wikipedia tells us that ants have colonized almost every landmass on Earth, except for Antarctica, Hawaii and a few other small islands. These amazing creatures work together to feed and defend their colony and adapt most any habitat to their own needs. Some cultures include ants as part of their cuisine, which makes sense since there seems to be an abundant supply.

In our home we don’t enjoy ants as a snack and feel a bit beseiged in Spring, but discouraging the little creatures occasionally with a mild (mostly water) ant spray around the perimeter of the house works well. Until next year.

Quench

9 Jun

Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Quench is the loveliest word, don’t you think? My shampoo bottle instructs me that this delightfully sudsy and emollient brew will quench my dry hair and scalp, bringing occasion to stop and think about this word: quench. Say it aloud – doesn’t it sound just like what it means? Dictionary.com tells us quench synonyms are, slake, allay, and satisfy (as in thirst, or desire); to quell or suppress (as in rebellion). You see it used often by the press when a wildfire is quenched or extinguished. Quench can also mean “to cool quickly by immersing in liquid” as when steel is tempered by being plunged into water.

It happens every so often: a word I rarely notice will strike me as worth examining. This exercise reminds me of a weekly assignment from ninth grade English, known as Word Wealth Words of the Week. Mrs. Driscoll assigned ten words each week for which we were required to draw a picture portraying the meaning of the word, as well as use the word in a sentence. I certainly spent more time on Word Wealth than on algebra or history, because words are fascinating. My crude drawings were more like crayon stick figures than art, but I enjoyed choosing the perfect shades of cornflower, nude, blue green, or burnt umber from the box of 64 Crayola crayons. Somehow this assignment felt like an important task and I completed it with great satisfaction every week.

Quench. To me it sounds like a tall cool glass filled with crushed ice and sweet tea, garnished with a lemon slice and sprig of mint.

Let’s play this again sometime. What’s your favorite word?

Change is Inevitable

7 Jun

John F. Kennedy once said “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” It’s a beautiful truth of life and oft quoted. And yet we persist in holding our politicians’ feet to the fire if they make a change in their perspective, intentions, or political platform. I understand the need for consistency and the benefit of perseverance – you made the decision to go this route and you follow through. What seems wildly unreasonable to me is that when new information comes to light, or an evolution of need or circumstance, any revised or reversed stance by our candidates and civil servants is outright condemned. It’s condemned by the both the press and the opposing political party.

Change is inevitable. We commit to a plan, try it out, either it works or does not and we move on to the next thing. That’s how life is lived. We live, we learn, we adjust, and so it goes. Why cannot our political system allow for change? It’s a major flaw in the system. Programs that were instituted 20 or 40 years ago may not serve well now. Welfare, health care, public schools, defense and other government systems must adapt and conform to modern requirements and new efficiencies.

If public service is intended to be service to our country, we must insist that all our politicians be open minded students of the world so they may serve us well.

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