Overdue Number 1: Eat at Cafe Polonia

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This is overdue, but I’m so glad that we made sure to do it! Number one on this past winter’s To Do List was to eat at Cafe Polonia, a well renowned Polish restaurant located in Andrew Square in Dorchester – the heart of the Polish Triangle. This kept getting delayed over the winter, and the one Saturday we did make it there we were turned away because they were fully booked. I knew that the place was small and popular, but I certainly didn’t expect to be told to “make a reservation and come back another weekend”. I think that in the end, that actually made me even more determined to get there!

I should note that usually when I have a notion to try a new restaurant or to some type of ethnic cuisine, I have to do a certain amount of convincing to get Pete to go with me. This time around it was much easier – Pete only had to look at the menu once and he readily agreed to go with me. This time he even pulled a me and was scoping out the menu in the afternoon, planning what he would order! He may have done that with the intention of scoping out their beer list, which they don’t have online, but it still made me think that maybe he was as excited for this as I was – and when it comes to food, that’s just about never the case.

I got the Polish Plate, which is a sampler of pierogi (three different fillings – the potato and cheese were by far my favorite), kielbasa (tasty!), stuffed cabbage (I thought it was bland, we weren’t fans), and bigos (lots of sauerkraut – not my thing). Pete got the Gypsy Pancake, which is two potato pancakes with goulash sandwiched between. It was INSANELY delicious. Pete also got the only dark beer they serve – a porter (seen above) that he absolutely loved. He basically wouldn’t shut up about how good it was, and if you know Pete you know that “he wouldn’t shut up” is not something people say about him, so it must really mean something!

We’ve already got our return trip planned – one order potato and cheese pierogis, one order kielbasa, and one order gypsy pancakes to share, leaving some leftovers to take home. Pete, I’m sure, will have at least one of those porters, and I’ll be making sure to leave room for the chocolate babka cake for dessert!

Number 5: Ice Skate at the Frog Pond

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My friends Norm and Michelle and I kept trying to get to the Frog Pond for ice skating and being foiled by the few days that we actually did get winter weather this year. It turns out that the third time really was a charm! On the final night of the season, we made it! Just in time for the zamboni to head out and groom the ice while we tied (and retied) our skates and laughed about how it felt to walk in them after so many years.

Pete, despite having grown up in a state with winters worse than New England’s, has no idea how to ice skate and didn’t want to try. He went for a walk and came back just in time to laugh at us as we worked our very cautious way around the rink for the first lap.

One lap is about all it took for me to fall in love with it and regret not having taken advantage of living within walking distance of a free outdoor rink for all the time we lived in JP. By the time we were done, I had decided that next winter I need to get my own ice skates and then buy a season pass for the Frog Pond, because I could TOTALLY ice skate on my lunch breaks at work! And then drag all my friends back to skate with me on the weekends. Friends: consider yourself warned…but hey! Hot cocoa is on me.

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Number 3: Take the BPL Art & Architecture Tour

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I have been wanting to take the Art & Architecture Tour at the Boston Public Library for a long time, but hadn’t found anyone interested in doing it with me until recently. Katie saw it on my Winter To Do List and mentioned she was on board, so we finally got around to meeting up after work for the ~hour long tour (after a stop at Thinking Cup for tea/hot cocoa).

web_3.8.2012_BPL_4bThe tour guides are all volunteers, and ours was great! She certainly knew her stuff, and added to the basic information with anecdotes that were often quite funny. Our group was probably the perfect size – about 12-14 of us total – and the tour was the perfect length. I’m sure there is a lot more to the library than was covered, but any longer would have been a bit overwhelming. My favorite bits were when she talked about recent restoration to the artwork and what it entailed, and hearing about the process behind getting some of the artwork into the spaces.

I can’t recommend this tour enough…for one thing, it’s free! There’s so much to see and do in Boston that I think a lot of people miss out on smaller things like this because they aren’t as well publicized. The tour is just over an hour, and it’s smack in the heart of Back Bay – folks should be able to work it into a trip easily! In fact, I’m interested in taking the tour again if only because I’m curious to see if different tour guides offer different anecdotes.

The next time you’re at the library, for the tour or otherwise, don’t forget to pet the lion’s tail on your way past – rumor has it that stroking the tail of a lion statue will make it come to life!

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Number 4: (day two) My View

View

I was working from home today, and this is the view from my desk chair when I look out the window that’s to my left. It used to be straight in front of me when I was sitting at the desk, but I may have rearranged the furniture in the office/guest room twice this week, so now it’s to my left. It’s not the prettiest of views (especially when it’s an overcast, grey, winter day), but I love having it.

Random tidbits about this view (and our neighborhood):
– I’m pretty sure that we are the only people in our neighborhood that walk on the sidewalk. Everyone else walks down the middle of the street. Quincy’s sidewalks are in horrible shape, but they are certainly not so bad that I would choose to walk in the street instead of using them. I’m talking everyone – families with babies in strollers, women with infants in carriers, the can and bottle collectors with their stolen shopping carts. It’s one of the first things I noticed about the neighborhood when we first moved here, and it has driven me bonkers ever since.
– We belong to a local running club (I may or may not have over-thrown the guy who started it and taken charge myself), and recently met one of our neighbors through it! You would think that living on an all residential block we would have met our neighbors being out in the neighborhood, but it’s urban enough that people just don’t work like that. We are friendly with our downstairs neighbor Dave who moved in a few months ago, and we have both met our immediate next door neighbor Mr. Matchlight (whose stairs you can see in the photo – not his real name), but otherwise we have never spoken with any neighbors. Until one of them showed up at a running club event, and it was discovered that she lives in the building on the left in the photo above. In fact, if I had taken the photo at a different angle, you would be able to see her windows.
– Our neighborhood is primarily Asian. At one end of the block is the Greater Boston Chinese Community Center and at the other end is the Chinese Baptist Church of Greater Boston. When we first moved here, it felt very, very different than our previous neighborhoods (most recently a predominantly black neighborhood with a smattering of Vietnamese and prior to that a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood) but we have come to love having an abundance of amazing Asian restaurants near us…even if I do miss being able to get a great burger within walking distance.
– At least once a day when I’m working from home, I overhear someone having a screaming argument. Sometimes it is two people walking down the (middle of the) street, and sometimes it is one person on the phone, but it always happens.
– My favorite sight to see out the window is the children from the daycare around the corner out for a walk, all holding onto the loops on their rope…do you know what I’m talking about? It’s like a little parade of adorableness, just for me to enjoy from my window! It’s hilarious to watch all the toddlers looking and pointing and pulling in a different direction while their teachers walk along at what must be a painfully slow pace and try to keep them in line. I should add here that these are the only other people who walk on the sidewalk, so don’t call DSS on them.

Number 4: (the start) Take One Photo A Day

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I’ve seen two different sets of prompts for a February Photo A Day – here and here. A nice coincidence when taking one photo every day for a month is on my winter to do list! I put both prompts on my calendar for each day this month so that I’m not 100% responsible for coming up with a photo idea by myself each day. This should be fun.

Today I went with prompt number two – you. Soooo….this is me. At work. On a call* (can you spot my headset?). Do you ever see a picture of yourself and think “Oh! That’s what I look like?!” That’s what happened when I looked at this one. I’m not sure what it is, but even after spending a few minutes editing the photo and uploading it and then putting it here, I still feel a little surprised every time I look at it.

A few other quick tidbits:
– Another woman that sits on my floor was wearing this same sweater today. We ran into each other twice, even though we usually only run into each other twice a week…probably because our sweaters recognized each other as kinfolk and wanted to say hello.
– I’m growing my hair out a bit and because I’m in between cuts it looks much better wavy or curly than it does straight, which is how I’ve been wearing it most of the time lately. Today I used a product that’s meant to “enhance” curls, and apparently it works because I got at least half a dozen compliments on my curls. I guess people prefer curly hair!
– I have spent the last 4 years working on very virtual teams. Until six months ago, my manager and I were the only two people on our team that are located in Boston. I spend a lot of time on calls and I rarely ever meet the people I work closely with face to face. I was super excited today to find out that a woman who I worked very closely with for a year and a half is in Boston for the next week and a half, and we went out for dinner tonight. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to finally get to put a face with a name and a voice and a personality! It’s always weird to explain to people that I have never met 90% of the people I’ve worked with for the last six years.
– I’m kind of excited for this photo a day…I hope that feeling lasts!

* I swear I was paying attention, you can totally prop your camera up on a stack of books and take self-timer shots and still be hearing everything discussed on the call.