Digression: Things I find on the Beach: Dolls, Coconuts and parts of floating docks.

Today, I’d planned to sit down and do some literary submissions and/or some polishing on the book but it did not happen.  On Friday, I was home on a use/lose vacation day from work.  It was supposed to be a break in the extreme cold front but the wind was kicking up which wasn’t pleasant, but I still worked to drag over sandbags in the yard and patch our foundation.  Because of the wind and the time of the high tide I wasn’t able to do any further patching on the seawall.  I did the usual chores around the house and also had to write a request for ENF/Environmental Notification Forms — because the Town put a notice in our local newspaper on November 14, that on or about Nov. 15, they would be filing this ENF about a drainage project on the beach next door.  So I’ve requested to be on updates by the town’s environmental consulting firm and from Mass. Environmental Protection Agency/MEPA — which actually means I did some writing in the form of two serious requests/letters, that I ran to send via certified mail with a receipt at the post office and did a few errands on my way back.

Saturday was my day “off” off I went to book club and saw everyone which was a nice break.  Today, I’d hoped to play catch up.  On Friday I did clear some lumber, long pieces and these panels that keep washing up.

Last week another floating dock section washed up, we had about a half dozen or so last month that I pushed over the wall and DPW/town Dept. of Public Works picked up and hauled away.  This latest one showed up last week but it was gone when I started to clean the lumber/panels off the beach on Friday — I thought someone else might have fished it out but no such luck, it had apparently gone back out with the tide and got stuck in the mud by the groundwater drain and washed up again today — next to our seawall/where the old and the new wall break.

IMG_0635Generally my approach is to roll these floats over and up the hill (when they tip most of the water drains out) and then over the town’s wall where DPW will eventually pick them up — but as you can notice in the photo above this one was now encrusted with mussels.  Clustered they were in thick bunches large, medium and tiny little ones barely the size of my finger nail. See close up photo below.


Since I did not want to commit any kind of a mollusk massacre — I ran back into the house and grabbed some rubber gloves and the camera and it took awhile but I peeled off as many as I could — trying to keep the bunches intact before throwing them back into the incoming tide.  To note, some of the shells were already broken, either from the tide, hitting our wall or attacks by the seagulls that cursed at me and then flew away but the sky was also getting dark and it was starting to sleet.  I’m not sure if this is a natural adhesive that has ever been adapted but they did not pry up easily — I was actually saying — give give — if you want to live.

No one of course stopped by to lend a hand. One girl with a dog did walk on the top tier of the beach/town wall — I saw her walk by and staring at me then she walked back up on the sidewalk.

After I removed the mussels and relocated them back into the oncoming tide I rolled the dock/section over the wall and pushed it over by the steps — because we are supposed to have a storm tomorrow and it’s possible the water could go over the town wall — I don’t want it hitting our wall at the top or our fence which are not in good shape.

While on the beach I did my usual cleaning, beer bottles, plastic wrappers/bags, and a little styrofoam but I couldn’t get the tiny pieces, with my fingers cold and clumsy from pulling off the mussels.

And then thought I saw a ball on the flats between the outcrops of the marsh grass but it turned out to be — a coconut.  So I took a photo before pitching it in the trash as it was submerged and I think compromised by the saltwater.

IMG_0637.JPGTo add to my collection of odd finds, awhile back earlier this fall, I found this doll — I have no idea how she came to be stuck on the seawall — I found her wedged when I was looking for cracks/damage to patch.  But I was able to completely clean her, and hopefully I can find her a good home with a more careful owner — so I’m going to donate her to a nonprofit that gives books/small toys to kids in the city

IMG_0591And that concludes another episode of things I find on the beach.

Bookstore Memories: Buck-A-Book a treasure of a local chain-let.

Not exactly sure when the last Buck a Book outlet/location closed but I’m always missing it, especially this time of year when I’m hunting and purchasing books and other items for holiday gifts.  It was based somewhere I think in Massachusetts and had outlets all over Greater Boston — there was a Cambridge store not exactly in Harvard Square but on Mass. Ave. between Harvard and Central Square.  Similar locations were just outside of Copley Square in Boston and Davis Square in Somerville.  At one point I think they had some stores in Western Mass., Rhode Island and Albany, NY.

The stores I visited most often were in downtown Boston, there was a store on Tremont Street across from the Park Street T/Subway station and my favorite was located on Court Street, on the corner of Tremont (a few blocks away) on a lower level, you had to walk down a flight of stairs.  When the Court Street outlet first opened, I was working as a temporary clerk at the probate court, and I would go on my lunch break to browse.  At first all the books were stacked with their spines up on long tables, similar to Boston’s famous discount store: Filene’s Basement (also shuttered and greatly missed).  The books were remainders or overstock, the titles repetitive, there was a lot of nonfiction, nutrition and sociology but also some fiction books.

Eventually their stock expanded and the layout eventually changed to include bookcases and a larger range of books including children’s books.  The books were mainly a dollar but also they had what they called: “Bit more Books” still a deal and in the range of $2-5.  My best find was: The Night Before Christmas illustrated by artist, Grandma Moses.  I think I paid $5 for an edition my mother had paid full price for at the Grandma Moses museum when she visited the gift shop.

They added more children’s books, toys, greeting cards, and some novelty gifts including at that time movies on videotape — this was the early 90’s when VHS was still being used and only some folks were using DVDs it was the start of their launch and they were still expensive.  My dad loved a VHS documentary on UFO’s I picked up their and one of my cousin’s a Hello Kitty video she always watched as a kid especially when she was sick.

Court Street was always constant, Park Street a strong second — I went to both on a regular basis sometimes to Court Street several times a week. Some of the other stores in Copley and Cambridge changed and shifted locations, probably due to rising rents.  I remained hopeful that either Court or Park would continue as a solo store–I remember Court Street having a promotion for a  special Harry Potter release party with the kids dressing up and getting little gifts.  But they too both closed, I think Court Street first and then Park Street.

Over the years, Buck a Book operated, I bought so many wonderful books and gifts there, for myself, family and friends — I wish they were still around today.


Digression: “Something wicked this way comes” — Shakespeare.

This Shakespeare quote: “Something wicked this way comes.”  Has been popping up in my mind at home, at work, on the bus and train and walking to and from work.  Perhaps it was because of Halloween and all the decorating but it evolved to more than that.  My bad feeling, which sometimes can take away energy.

Change is difficult.  Yesterday we launched a new database system at work which I was dreading even though I’m hoping for the best and trying to be positive as leader for my staff.  On a completely different note, my mother got some news one of her oldest/closest friends will be moving far away to an assisted living facility.  She cannot manage the care for her husband who has a brain disorder and is declining.  This will give her support and freedom to enjoy her own life.  It’s sad she selected a place so far away — my mother will not be able to take the Ride there (public transport service for the elderly/disabled), because it is out of the geographic service area.  This friend also decided due to a few minor/recent accidents she will no longer drive–which is probably long overdue, my mum hasn’t felt safe in her car for awhile.

But as the cliche goes: “Out of sight out of mind.”  This loss will be difficult for my mother and I spent a good time of the weekend listening to my mother even before we heard the official news.  The holidays are approaching — I think that is why I’m sensing some sort of sadness in the absence of missing how things used to be — busy with preparations and people we no longer see either because they passed away, moved away or moved onto other phases in life.  I did reach out to my dad’s sister to see how she did with the last storm, they lost a tree due to the previous high winds and she is inviting us to Thanksgiving.  She just isn’t great about calling and doing the nice extras my mother longs for and so I accepted and confirmed we will bring sweet potatoes her husband likes and pie and sorted out transportation.  I told my mother last night asking: “Aren’t you glad we are going to go there for Thanksgiving.”  It did soothe a little but not much.

Over the weekend I did a few repairs and yard work not enough though the cold is rapidly approaching and descending later this week.  I needed our handyman’s assistance with our storm windows and few other items and he did finally assist me yesterday.  I also had to ask for an extension of time for our seawall permit to do the compliance applications.  I’ll spare the gory details of the red tape cliche but it’s all time and effort and draining.  I didn’t have any time really to do any polishing on the book or any literary work.

After writing out the request, I looked out the window and saw someone in our backyard.  I thought it was  woman with curly blonde hair and she was wearing a vintage style varsity team jacket.  I ran for shoes and outside and caught her coming up the driveway — actually not sure if her or him but an older child.  I asked: “Can I help you?”

My answer was muddled — muttering something about a ball.  And I was thinking–“Can we have our ball back?”‘ That was actually the name of a literary magazine/online publication an acquaintance of mine had for awhile.

“Did you lose  your ball?”  Then I saw an older man, perhaps my age or older, graying beard with a young girl perhaps four (4) years old in a dress.

I turned to him and he said something about how they wanted a look at the wall and the pier.  It was then I realized I misheard it was not “ball” but “wall” as in seawall.

I pointed to my neighbor’s pier and said: “Mrs.’s Gregory’s pier?”

“No,” the man said. “The pier at the yacht club.”

And then I understood he sent the older child in our yard to look because the tide was partially still up and they could not see from the flats which are public access.  The yacht club to be noted is down the end of our street, several blocks away.

Here I was a combination of dumb founded and angry and I wanted to tell him so but I did not want to say anything harsh in front of his children.

“What is wrong?” He asked me then.  I noticed the younger girl standing on the top of my older seawall that I cannot afford to replace and have been patching for weeks and said, “Please have her get down.  That wall is not stable.”

He glared at me and the girl I think knowing she was wrote got down. They left through our gap in the beach fence, the town left for my dad to access and walked away up toward Court Road.

Two wrongs don’t make a right as yet another cliche goes but I cannot help how awful and inappropriate it was for him to let the older child just walk into our yard and to act if nothing was amiss and be so self righteous to me.  He was being rude and they were trespassing.  And I wanted to tell him so.  We border a small fence but the wall and our yard are private property and so I have signs up.  Mostly for safety reasons.

Our fence is in a bad state along the driveway where my dad had the old gate. But I’m thinking next spring, we should put up new gate somehow with an anchor–somehow maybe I’ll have to hire a mason to replace the post, I’m going to ask my aunt’s husband/my uncle by marriage when I see him at Thanksgiving.

Art Exhibit at the Mass. Statehouse

On October 16, 2019, my mom and her artist friends and colleagues from the Winthrop Art Association (WAA) had an official opening/reception for their exhibit outside the State Senate Chamber in the Massachusetts State House.  The picture on the headline (above) is my mum along with Dawn Mahoney, pictured with our State Senator Joseph Boncore. We had a nice crowd of WAA members, family and friends, and I attended as well to take some photos and see everyone, and a couple of my attorneys popped over as well which was very sweet of them.  (All of the photos posted here are mine/taken by me.)

My mom is the founder of the WAA, and someone I think Dawn our current/ongoing WAA present probably put together this summary about the history of the founding.


All of the paintings were chosen by the staff of our State Senator, Joseph Boncore’s office.  My mom entered the same painting she did for the 2019 festival and it was accepted.


Here is one of Dawn’s lovely and intricate pen and ink illustrations of our former Narrow Gauge Railroad Station, now part of our town’s history and lore.


The Martelli family is very talented.  Below is one of Matthew Martelli’s amazing black and white seascapes — often from afar they look like photos.


This is a landscape of nearby Revere Beach by Mark Martelli — Matthew’s twin brother.  Yes they are identical twins  and both very talented artists!  Revere Beach, to be noted is where my parents met and fell in love working at the former Arcade Bazaar — a huge discount store owned by the notorious Louie Fox.


It was a lovely reception, Senator Boncore was very gracious and took pictures with everyone in the Senate Chamber, and afterwards, his staff had coffee and a nice selection of fruit, cheese and crackers and pastries for everyone.

IMG_0624The exhibit remains open in the hall outside the chamber on the third floor of the State House until the end of November.  It is open to the public — everyone is welcome to stop by and see it.