Saturday, December 29, 2007
A year later, I am packing to leave for Fort Lauderdale, FL, and while away it is highly unlikely that I will add anything to my blog so I wanted to extend my wishes for a happy, healthy and peaceful 2008 to all who read this.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
The sheer gluttony I showed overeating at nearly every meal the past couple of days is sickening. Suffering from chronic food coma, I have come back to the office seeking solace from my refrigerator which has so much food it could feed an entire African village.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
In honor of the Christmas holiday, I thought I would end tonight's blog entry with an excerpt from one of my favorite holiday tales...
...The Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood
puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came
without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and
puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he
hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store?
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Recently this diner in a doublewide was remodeled, menu revised and hours extended (open now 24-hours on the weekends). The waitstaff told me that a male couple who recently bought the diner were responsible for the changes. Aside from the change in decor in the front room (which still is a bit off in my opinion), there must have been a change in the kitchen as well because everything being served looks far fresher and has much more taste.
Because the new owners have not changed the affordable prices and large portions Victoria's regulars can still be seen lining up in the cramped foyer of the diner waiting for a seat every weekend. Lines tend to get a bit long by 10:30am but everyone always seems to be quite friendly about the wait. Victoria's clientele boasts a large cross-section of Bostonians. On any given weekend you are likely to see young, old, gay, straight, latino, black and asian. My favorite patrons are the African-American women who come after church decked-out in their Sunday finest. They add a touch of elegance if not over the top fashion 'a la roxbury' which I never was exposed to growing up in the suburbs.
An added bonus previously not mentioned if you happen to be a 30- or 40-something is that the music played during weekend brunches is 80s only. I'm sure for the younger clientele, this retro feel fits in just fine with a dining room in a trailor but for someone like myself who grew up during the 80s it is an unexpected and pleasant touch not overlooked and definitely appreciated; brunch always tastes better listening to the likes of Prince, Madonna, and Cindy Lauper.
How to get to Victoria's
Victoria's is located on Mass Avenue on the Dorchester / Roxbury line, at 1024 Massachusetts Avenue. It is easily accessible off of I-93 and as the address indicates, on Mass Ave.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
The 20 minute drive into the suburbs looked like a winter wonderland and provided me time to contemplate what I would say when I saw her. I was concerned that due to the stroke or medications she might not be alert, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that nothing was further from the truth. We had a wonderful conversation reminscing of stories from the past, talking about family members and the current holiday season.
At times the conversation was tinged with sadness, and it made me realize how very aware she was /is of her mortality. When sadness would enter her voice, I would acknowledge what she said and let her know I shared her sentiments, but I did not let her dwell on the moment or forget about how lucky we both were to have our family so close (both in proximity and emotionally). That was what our morning together was like; conversations about nothing in particular and enjoying our moment alone together. If I noticed she was sad, I would use my humor or wit to lift both our spirits.
However, when it was time to leave, I could not help but notice that the vivacious grandmother I knew most of my life has in recent years seen her spark dim. My grandfather passing away a decade ago followed by an accident a couple years ago that resulted in her taking a bad fall and now most recently her faltering health has changed the grandmother I have known most of my life. Today's visit made me long to be back in my grandmother's house like when I was a child. My memories of those years bring me tremendous comfort, and I will continue to wrap them around me like a thick blanket to ward off the cold feeling I had when I turned my back to leave her room in the hospital earlier today.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Bank to employees: Pay it forward
FARGO, North Dakota (AP) -- A bank is giving its full-time employees $1,000 each and part-time employees $500 each. There's one condition -- use it for people in need. State Bank and Trust Chief Operating Officer Michael Solberg said each full-time employee will receive $1,000 and each part-time employee will receive $500, as part of a $502,000 "Pay it Forward" initiative. "We're going to really see some huge impact on our community," Solberg said.
Employees were told not to use the money for themselves, their families or families of other bank employees. The bank asked each employee to document the good deed with a video camera. The deadline is June 30. The employees were told they may choose an individual cause, pool their money for a larger project or collaborate with donors outside the bank. The privately owned bank has more than 500 employees, he said. The bank made the announcement over the weekend.
In previous years, the Fargo-based bank has taken 5 percent of the company earnings and divided it up at holiday time among employees.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
According to the Santa Speedo Run website, the run has raised over $150,000 over the past 7 years for the following charities:
September 11th Children’s Fund
Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research
Children’s AIDS Program at Boston Medical Center
Children’s Hospital Boston
The Ellie Fund
Eliot Community Human Services
No estimates for the number of runners or the amount of money raised for this year's charity, Women's Lunch Place,was published initially but you can check the Santa Speedo Run website in a few days and I'm sure the information will be available.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
You can check out my account by linking here.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Sunday, December 9, 2007
About Morro de Sao Paulo
For those unfamiliar with the island, the beaches are numbered and while most of the activity on the island is centered around beaches one and two, you can easily walk to these locations (10-minutes by beach) from Pousada Villa dos Corais. The island does not allow cars and most of the foot traffic can be found on the beach as people explore the pristine island. Our pousada and many of those out on beach four provide transportation into the town, but we opted to walk along the beaches each evening. The island is extremely safe and clean so walking even late at night was common. I would highly recommend anyone considering a trip to Morro de Sao Paulo to stay at Pousada Villa dos Corais (pre-season rates were $150 / night and includes breakfast). The grounds are meticulously maintained, accomodations are spacious and secluded, service is impeccable and the food delicious. For those who like to treat their stomach when they travel, we found that most of the restaurants on the island were somewhat lacking, but our Pousada did not disapoint. Next door to the hotel is a delicious restaurant (only open for lunch) that has beautiful views of beach four called Pimenta Rosa and next door (about 100yards away) is a large two story bar that looks like a Brazilian version of a log cabin. I've included both in the picture gallery above for visitors to see. The bar is open until about 11pm each night and is a great place to go grab a drink. We actually split our time fairly evenly between the beach and the inifinity pool with the swim-up bar at Villa dos Corais.
Cars are not allowed on the island which is probably a good thing because the roads (what few there are) are in horrible condition. However, it is very easy to get to the island and it is equally easy getting around once you arrive. Most people who arrive opt to take the boat which leaves from Barra in Salvador. The boat ride is relatively cheap (approximately $25 each way) but takes 2.5 hours. We opted to fly which is more money (approximately $100 each way) but it takes only 15 minutes. Flying is not for the faint of heart. Although one can hire a pilot to fly them to the island (there are two tiny landing strips) most who fly use the services of Addey Taxi Aereo or AeroStar (we used AeroStar). Personally, I loved the flight and had a good time but on both legs the weather was beautiful - I'm not sure I would feel the same if we were flying in bad weather.
Salvador claims to have 365 Catholic churches (one for every day of the year), but easily the most impressive must be the Church and Convent of St. Francis which was built in the early 1700s and includes 37 beautifully tiled mosaics and a profusion of carvings covered in more gold leaf than I have ever seen in my life. The affect is awesome (to use a truly Bostonian adjective).
Truthfully, Salvador was not one of my favorite cities to visit, but it was one of my favorite places to eat. While in Salvador we ate at two restaurants that anyone visiting should try. The first and more famous restaurant is Sorriso da Dada (loosely translated as Dada's Smile). Located in the Pelourinho district, the restaurant is not fancy but provides a very warm and welcoming atmosphere. The woman for whom the restaurant is named leaves a lasting impression and represents the best of traditional Bahian cuisine I have ever had. We also ate at a newer restaurant in Barra (pronounced ba-ha) called Pereira. The restaurant is across from the beach and provides a more modern take on Brasilian cuisine in a very cool setting. Here you will see tourists mingling with young, wealthy Bahians enjoying an evening out. It is next to a Japanese Sushi restaurant (same owners) called Sato which we did not eat at but also looked fun. Sato was busier at night but Pereira always had people out on their beautiful patio / deck.
While in Salvador we stayed at Grande Hotel de Barra. The hotel was conveniently located across from a small beach, and while the accomodations were clean I found the rooms lacking in almost every creature comfort. The rooms were spartan and old (despite being assured we were in a newly renovated room). However, for two days - it was easy to deal with and the location was both safe and seemingly fairly central. Moreover, the hotel was quite affordable costing approximately $90/ day (keep in mind when I was in Brasil the US dollar was quite weak - the rates in Brasilian currency was 190 / night). If one were to book a room at the Grande Hotel de Barra, I would strongly recommend requesting a room facing the beach. We stayed in room 511 which was a corner room, closest to the beach and five stories above the street noise and smells. While walking through Barra, we stumbled across Pousada Manga Rosa which looked beautiful from the outside. According to the B&B website, rooms range from $70 - $100/ night.