Thursday, April 30, 2009

Scenes from a City

Hey all,

Here are the first installment of pics from our fabulous trip to Boston. It was about a 7 and a half hour drive and we found our way to our hotel in the downtown area without a hitch. We were all kind of dreading the traffic (arriving at Friday rush hour), but it was light and didn't pose a problem at all. We stayed at the Omni Parker House on School Street (the oldest hotel in the U.S., incidently), which was a great location in the heart of historic Boston. Our first night, we had a fantastic meal at The Oceanaire, an excellent seafood restaurant located in a space that used to be a bank. Very high ceilings and lots of marble. I highly recommend it if you are in town. I had fried clams as an appetizer - they were huge, very tasty and plentiful, enough for a main really, and a grilled swordfish steak with a mango relish, which was also incredibly tasty. We were kind of tired after the long drive, so we turned in fairly early the first night to be bright and shiny for the next day. Here are a few pics:

On the road - Mount Kathadin in Maine in the distance straight ahead

Lovely homes along Commonwealth Avenue - Magnolia trees in blossom


The Public Gardens

Cute boys playing flute in the Public Gardens

Roof tops - Note the detail on the steeple

More fun in the park

Boston Common and State Building

Paulie and I at an Indian Restaurant on our second night

Ron and Paul

Hospitality Suite on the 9th floor

The second tallest building in Beantown. There is a bar/restaurant at the top, often with live jazz. We went both in the daytime at at night. The night shots didn't come out because of the glare from the flash, but below are some pics from the daytime.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Safe and Sound

Hi guys (and dolls)! Just a very short post to let you know that we're back from Boston safe and sound. We had an absolutely fantastic time. It's a terrific city, the boyz were very hot and so was the weather! Sunny every day and yesterday it got above 30 C (more than 90 F!). We also ate very well and had some memorable meals! We took lots of pics, some of which I will share with you in the days ahead. I even snapped a few for an upcoming Skinny Saturday! Will post again soon.. Now I have to finish unpacking and do a wash!

À très bientôt!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Boston Bound...

Heya.... Just a very short post to let y'all know that I'm off to Boston tomorrow and will be back on April 29. I am driving there with Paul and Ron and Brad is coming on Sunday... Supposed to be a BEAUTIFUL weekend all along the eastern coast of North America, i.e., both here and in Boston. 27 and 28 C most days! Yipeee! We definitely need some HOT, sunny weather.

Take care all and we'll see you next week... Now I really do have to go pack!

Oh, all right.... Maybe a few boyz to make up for my not being here on Saturday!

Monday, April 20, 2009

It's Official

The move is a go! Mom wasn't feeling well yesterday morning and didn't want to go down to check the new place out, but she is going to take my word for that she would be better off at the new place. It's truly not something that I take lightly and I am convinced that she will be immeasurably happier at the new place. It's like living in a real home with 5 other people in the middle of a beautiful park-like setting as opposed to living in a converted hospital with 40 other residents. I am very pleased. And relieved. At the new place, I KNOW that she will receive the best care possible. I gave her formal notice of lease termination today. She will have until the end of May to move, but hopefully, we'll be able to do it around the middle of next month. Phew... A huge weight off my shoulders... Now I just have to tell my siblings!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Skinny Saturday 51

Well, it's been another beautiful spring day here in the Maritimes. The temperature must have gone up to 13 or 14 C, very nice. I stayed in bed this morning until almost 9:30. I had woken up around 3:00 a.m. and I took half an Ativan in an attempt to get back to sleep, but to no avail, so around 4:00, I took another half and gradually drifted back into slumberland around 5:00 or so.

After walking Kaiser, grabbing a bite, and making out our grocery list, I headed down to the basement to bike my 21 km in 45 minutes. Then, after showering and eating lunch (a tasty sandwich with smoked salmon), I headed back down to the "other" home to give it another once over. I was successful today, i.e., I made it all the way to the home without the road being flooded.

And wow. It is SUCH a nice place. I maintain that I would live there. And one of the workers is actually someone who left working mom's current residence to go there. The rooms are in fact a bit bigger than a remember them, but still smaller than mom's current room. But I am more convinced than ever that mom should make the move. I think she would much better care and be in an atmosphere that is much more like living in a real home, as opposed to "a senior's home." I called mom after I got back and told her all this... She's unsure what to do... She thinks a move would be a big deal both for her and for me... I told her not to worry about me... We could move her in a half day. No big deal.... In any case, I told her that I would like for her to see it for herself and that I would take her there tomorrow if she was up to it. She said that she would sleep on it and that she supposed it wouldn't hurt to look. I hope she goes. I think after one look, she, too, will be convinced. Wish me luck!

In other news, Georges and Barb are coming over tonight for a few drinks after dinner - I think I may break out a bottle of Pinotage that we purchased in NYC... It's been a while since we've connected with our good friends... (And we can always pick up more in Boston next weekend!)

With that, on to the boyz!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

This and that...

Hey guys and gals... Not a whole lot new to report... Just two days working so far this week and I am already looking forward to the weekend. Things are really picking up at work and I also have to do the performance appraisal of the employee working under me before I leave next Thursday. I'm taking Friday next week and Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday the following week to do Boston with Paul and Ron and Brad. (We gotta get together and do some planning, btw, guys!)

It was a gorgeous sunny and warm day here - warm being relative - 10 C, which is in the low 60s F, I think. Still some patchs of snow hanging around, but there are some signs of spring in the air. Kaiser and I came across a gaggle of honking geese heading north on our early morning walk this morning. Lots of birds singing now in the mornings, too, and some of the grass is actually starting to turn a little green... The trees are just starting to bud though, and it will be a good month before we see any leaves.

Today, Brad and I booked another week at the same cottage we had already booked for a week in August (beautiful dog-friendly place on a river, close to the east coast, and no neighbours for 1 km on either side!). We are now booked for 2 straight weeks in August. We had been waffling about what to do and we considering taking another week in the fall and renting a cottage in Maine, but the idea of having two weeks off in a row proved too tantilizing. It will be so nice to just plop ourselves down someplace nice for 2 whole weeks and have the time to really relax and unwind. It's been a long time since we've done that and I am very much looking forward to it. We'll take lots of good books and new recipies, sleep in, head to the beach, kayak, walk, swim in the river and the ocean, play with the dogs, and do some day trips, too... Ahhh, I can't wait!

Oh, and here's a new song I heard today on Radio Bruno (from Bologna). Give it to me Right by Melanie Fiona. I guess it's kind of an old song from the 1960s, but it's new to me and I like how she does it. Check it out:

Monday, April 13, 2009

The weekend what was...

Wow... THAT went by fast! As 4-day Easter weekends usually do, unfortnately. And now that the weekend is over, I can tell you who our guest was - It was Maurice from Montréal (author of aMMusing, for which there is a link in the side bar, though Maurice has not been blogging much of late. **Ahem**). He came down to help a bunch of our Paulie's friends and family celebrate his 50th birthday! YAY PAULIE! Happy Birthday in advance, buddy! Paul's actual birthday is later this month, but one of his sisters wanted to suprise him big-time and held the celebration about 2 weeks ahead of his real birthday. And suprised he was, though he told us later that he had an inkling that something was afoot when he read on this blog that a "friend from out of town was visiting for the weekend..." Really, Paulie. You are far too suspecious!

In any event, it was great to visit with Maurice and to spend an evening with a whole group of Paul's friends and family.

In other news, I never made it down to the other home on the weekend, unfortunately. I was going to go and made a valiant attempt... On Saturday, after driving for about 30 minutes and with only about another 10 minutes to go, the water was over the road and I could go no farther. Several vehicles ahead of me (a half ton truck and a volvo) made it though, and I probably could have made it as well, but I didn't want to chance it. Our car is quite low to the ground, and I could just see myself making it half way though and the car stalling. THAT would not have been pretty. So I turned the air blue and turned the car around, drove back to where I had started, and set off for mom's current residence. We had a good visit, though I was still annoyed about not being able to get to the other home... Perhaps I'll try again next weekend. Mom is now using her oxygen only when she goes out for meals and through most of the night. She does seem to be getting stronger and not nearly so winded whenever she does anything... Long may it last! Hopefully she'll be able to off the oxygen completely in a month or so.

After visiting mom, I came home and made dinner for Brad and Maurice and myself

Sautéed scallops and celery with steamed asperagus with hollandaise sauce and basmati rice

The birthday boy and his mommy! Doesn't Paul's mom look GREAT for 90!!

Just before dude smushed the cake into Paulie's face -- just kidding, this was the offical blowing out of the candles

Friday, April 10, 2009

Nos Achats

Just a quickie post to show you a bit of what we bought in NYC. We aslo made a quick stop at Old Navy and picked up a few clothes. Usually, I buy underwear while I am away, but this trip, I just didn't have time. Hopefully I'll be able to pick up some drawers in Boston at the end of the month.

It's a mix of sun and cloud here today. Very nice out when the sun is shining. The dogs have been out on the deck for a couple of hours now, just taking in the fresh air. They will sleep well tonight. I raked one bag of kulch off the lilies and rhubarb in the back yard. Things are just starting to poke their heads up out of the soil... We still have a fair amount of snow in the back yard, but another week should put an end to that.

Did my 21 k in the bike today (so nice to have a 4-day weekend!) and cleaned up the house a bit. Brad has a concert tonight (he sings in two choirs - he's a tenor with a great voice). We are also expecting a friend from out of town to visit tonight and tomorrow. Will be great to see him.

Wishing everyone a great weekend and a Happy Easter (even if you are heathens, like us!) :)

We actually brought home two bottles of the Pinotage (first one on the left). The next one is from the same vineyard, but a slightly less expensive bottle. The third one (far right) is a Brunello from Tuscany.

Opera Playbill, ticket, and MetroCard. I bought a weekly pass for the Metro ($25 US) as we took the subway a lot.

All of this stuff below was free except for the 2009 Time Out Eating and Drinking Guide. It was about $11 and will be an invaluable resource for our next trip to the Big Apple.

AKEA purchases (chocolate and coffee) and Vanilla Coconut BodyScrub from Sabon. It's really amazing stuff. Salt from the Red Sea, doncha know. Your skin is VERY soft after using the product (and you smell good enough to eat, to boot!)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A few pics of the other home

I thought I still had a few shots of the other special care home that I was telling you about that I looked at a couple of years ago and where I would consider moving mom now. Sorry that some of the inside shots are quite dark, but it was the view I was after. The place is really, really nice. I would live there! And that's saying a lot! It is fairly close by, though not any closer than where she is now. Thing is, a move would be a major upheaval for mom at this point. She will be 89 in October. And she would have considerably less space in her room. Right now, she almost has two rooms: she has a small anteroom with a sink and cupboards and a small fridge and then she has a large bedroom with her own recliner that will raise her up when she wants to stand. She has had a hip replacement and has arthritis in most of her joints, so the chair is a big help, and there would not be room for her chair in her room at the place below, though she could have it in the living room there, I believe. Where she is now is a former hospital building. Forty residents on 2 floors. It's very clean, much more institutional, and no views. But she IS used to it... Also, an opening DID come up at the other place exactly 1 month after she moved to where she is now. I asked her then if she wanted to move and her answer at that point was no. But that was just after one major move and before the water problem and the commode thing... Ugh... What to do... And she had always lived by a lake and swam in it until she was 80 years old... Double ugh... In any case, I thought I would show you some pics to give you an idea of what I am struggling with....

Jersey Swap!

Check it out. N.Z. Ruggers swap their jerseys:

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Cooler head

Well. I've calmed down a bit. Sorry for that rant last night. (And thanks for the supportive comment, Joy! :) The pressure and stress from mom's stay in the hospital and her discharge and the problem with the water in her room all came to a head, I guess. Mom herself was in a good mood this morning and didn't want me to press things regarding the commode situation, so I am steping back and will let things play out as they will. I called mom again this afternoon and she sounded absolutely amazing. Truly her old self. I hope it lasts, though I recognize that it probably won't. In any event, there is an opening at another home closeby and I'm going to take another look at it on the weekend. It was my first choice a couple of years ago when I was looking for a place for mom to move into, but there were no openings back then. It's absolutely gorgeous and accommodates only 6 residents, so it is much more like a real home environment and I think the food would probably be better, too. It's set on an idyllic 2 or 3 acres right on a lake. The grounds are absolutely beautiful in the summertime. The only drawback is that the rooms, while all private, are on the small side and mom wouldn't have the space she is now used to. Oh well, life is a game of give and take. It's worth another look and that's what I'll do on the weekend.

In other news, Brad and I will soon be off to the U.S. again! Our good friend Paul(ie) will be marking the big 5-0 later this month and he's asked us to take a trip to Boston with him to celebrate! And who could say no to our Paulie? I'm going to drive down with Paul and Ron, and Brad, since he has a choir concert that weekend, will drive to Bangor again on the Sunday and fly to Boston from there. We've just been to BOston on day trips before and don't know the city that well... We're definitely open to suggestions on what to do and see while there :)

And it's a great day for equality in Vermont! The Legislature there made same-sex marriage legal today! Way to go and congrats!

Will Update

I am removing the previous post for a while till I get things sorted out with the home. Today should be an interesting day.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Skinny Saturday 50 & End of NYC Trip

Phew! Another very busy weekend! Just got back from mom's. She's looking a lot better and says she feels a little stronger every day. Unfortuantely, though, there was a big rain storm last night and she had water in her room and they had to move her upstairs at about 1:30 in the morning, oxygen and all... Unbelievable. This is about the 5th time that has happened and the owners/administrator will be hearing from me on Monday morning. She was lucky that one of the women upstairs was in the hospital she she was able to use her room. I'm not sure where they would have put her otherwise. In any case, she's back in her own room now - till the next time there is a heavy rain!

Finishing up our NYC adventure, we had a terrific meal at Intermezzo on Saturday evening. It's a great little Italian spot in Chelsea. And as you can see from the link in the previous post, they have a great prix fixe dinner on weekdays. This time, we both started with salads, mine a ceasar and Brad's a garden salad, I believe. He then had the red snapper and I had the penne Putanesca. I'm pretty sure we had dessert, but I can't think of what it was right now... After dinner, we rode the subway up to Columbus Circle and walked from there to The Met. We found our seats and settled in for a great performance. We thououghly enjoyed La Sonnambula. Juan Diego Florez was phenomenal and Natalie Dessay was terrific, too. The entire cast was excellent in fact, and there were several very long ovations, both during the performance and at the end. Incidentally, we took a tour of The Met the next day, part of which included a quick visit to the lead's dressing rooms. Our guide told us that Mr. Florez had been in the building and and we just missed him by about 20 minutes :( In any case, we ended up in his dressing room, (we knew it was his because the humidifier had his name on it)... There was a tee-shirt on the dresser table and for an instant, I thought that I might linger just a few seconds after everyone else had left and slip it into my hoody pocket, but alas, I am not a thief... I did give the tee-shirt a quick squeeze on my way out, however! (I've told you before that I think Juan Diego Florez is da bomb, right?) :)

After the opera, we went back to our room for a while and then made our was to Barracuda, a gay bar very close by. It was jam packed with, for the most part, hot guys. It seemed, though, that everyone knew everyone else - except us. We stayed for a couple of beers and then headed back to our room.

Sunday, we slept in a bit, till about 10:00 or so, I think, then had some breakfast and showered and went down to Soho where we made a pilgrimage back to Dean and Delucca, a fantastic food emporium. We picked up some cheese (an English Stilton and a slab of Mobay, which is half goat milk and half cow milk cheese with a layer of ash in between - it is, in fact, very good, and I am nibbling on the remains as I type this. I also bought a small bottle of grilled peanut oil. It sounded yummy, and I am hoping that Brad can eat it instead of seasme oil, which he does not tolerate.

By this time, my morning coffees were having their usual effect on my bladder, and I was hoping there would be a restroom at Dean and Delucca, but no such luck... We made out way up the street to Crate and Barrel, and there there was a washroom on the second floor - Remember that, if you are ever in the neighbourhood and in a similar predicament. We continued on, and I picked up a Sunday Times ($4 in NYC, $12 at home the next day!). We also dropped into a Sabon store, which of course sold soap, candles and other related items. The gal had our number in no time and, I walked out with a jar of vanilla/coconut body scrub costing a little over $30. (It contains salt from the Dead Sea, mind!)

Then it was time for brunch, and we'd dedided on Marquet Pâtisserie at 15 E 12th Street. It was a good choice. Very nice atmosphere and delectible food. I had an omlette with garlic fries and Brad had a salmon Niçoisse salad. We then rushed back up to The Met for our tour. After that, we went back to the room and had a quick nibble of the cheese I had purchasd and a glass of wine before making our way to Aroma at 36 E 4th Street between Bowery and Lafayette Streets. Once again, the service, food, and atmosphere exceeded expectations. They have a prix fixe dinner on Sunday nights for $29, so that's what we opted for. I had the soup, which was a tasty zucchine and bread concoction, the spinach and riccota ravoli, and cinammon apple bread pudding for dessert. We had a wonderful bottle of wine with dinner and a delighful sweet Italian white wine with dessert. A major thunder storm passed over while were eating and we were thing of taking a cab back to our room, but it had let up by the time we finished, so we walked the 10 minutes or so back to the subway and caught a train.

For our last evening, we went out to Club 20 (which is located at 20 W 20th Street). It's sort of a strip club, I guess, though the performers never get down to the bare essentials :( Six nights of the week, female strippers occupy the stage, but Sunday nights, it's the boyz! Quite a few (25 in fact) very handsome guys strutting their stuff... We (okay - I) dropped a few dollars there... We stayed up way too late and had a fairly early morning the next day, but what the heck...

Indeed, the following morning we checked out around 8:00 a.m. and made out way out to Newark airport. After a somewhat turbulent flight back to Bangor, we slogged through the 3-hour drive home. The gal at the border didn't even ask to see our passports, and after a few quick questions, we were back on the road on the Canadian side of North America. It was drizzling and spitting snow. Ugh... If it weren't for the dogs and our gall darn jobs, I think we both could have stayed in NYC for another month or at least until the snow was all gone at home! Thankfully, it is disappearing quite quickly now, and I have heard robins singing the last two mornings...

Here are a few more trip pics and then the boyz. Have a great weekend all!

The bar and front half of Marquet Pâtisserie

The table beside ours at Aroma

The bottle of wine we had with dinner at Aroma - I'll give you the full name later on when I find it!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Mo' Big Apple

So while we were relishing our meal at Dirt Candy, Brad spied a barber shop across the street. We decided that if it was still open after dinner we'd go over and he'd get a trim. He'd been wanting to get his hair cut before we left, but with the craziness of last Thursday, he didn't have a chance. He made it in just in time and since there was a bench outside and it was a nice evening, I sat outdoors and waited. It took a while, but Brad says it was the best cut of his life and the guy even used a straight razor on his neck. (Ha! I've thought of using one sometimes myself!;) Actually straight razors in barber shops are outlawed in our province, perhaps in all of Canada. Who knows, maybe there was a spate of barbershop killings in the 1950s or something.

In any case, after the trim, we made our way back to Chelsea, stopped a corner store and picked up some supplies for breakfast, and went back to our room and crashed.

Here are a few pics of our pad. The room was large, and had a kitchen, all for about $250 a night right in the middle of Chelsea. Not bad at all by New York standards. We have tried to stay at this place in the past, but it was always booked. This time we lucked out.

The next morning, Brad dedided to go for a run with the Front runners group (many large cities have a gay running group and a lot of them are called Front Runners after the book by Patricia Nell Warren.) I decided I'd head up to the Met box office to pick up our tickets for the evening's performance of Sonnambula. We agreed to meet back at the hotel at 1:00 p.m. After getting the tickets, I meandered back down to the Time Warner Building, shopped around a bit and then went to the Whole Foods store in the basement to pick up a sandwich as I was getting peckish. I chose a yummy roasted chicken with pesto, and I got a baguette and some cheese and some wine for later in the afternoon with Brad. The sun had come out and I decided to walk the 30-some blocks south back to the hotel.

Naked dude in the lobby of the Time Warner Building (there was a naked women on the other side). Like the bronze boar in the Florence market, people were rubbing a certain part - for, ummm, good luck, I guess! Works for me! :)

Naked dude's view of The City

Look! Green grass and buds on the trees!! Still lots of snow back home :(

Sunny skies and the Empire State Building

After lunch and a glass of wine with Brad in the room, we made our way downtown to a pier near Wall Street where we caught the free water taxi over to IKEA in Brooklyn. What a great idea! I'm sure the store pulls in A LOT of customers this way making it very worthwhile. It's certainly a terrific way for people to get get out in the harbour and see The City from a different perspective. We're thinking of getting a new bed, so we wanted to see and plop our backsides down in a few that IKEA has on offer. The store was absolutely packed. Have you ever been in an IKEA that isn't? And lots and lots of cute gay boyz and some straight ones, too!

So long Manhattan

Hello IKEA!

Cute boy - gay or straight?

After testing some beds and making our way around the IMMENSE store, Brad bought a new flatwear set and I picked up some Swedish chocolate and coffee and then we took the water taxi back to Manhattan. We hopped on the subway back up to Chelsea, changed for dinner and the opera and ate at a restuarant just around the corner, where we had stopped at on our last trip back in 2004. Intermezzo.

More on our meal there, the opera, and the rest of the trip coming up... Stay tuned!