Archive for January, 2016

Everyone’s cousin leaves Haymarket

January 15th, 2016

pcampoSurely it’s good when changing of the guard does not involve an ambulance or hearse.  Yet the absence of my favorite Haymarket vendor has disturbed me. Today I got truth and knowledge.

I’d had an eye operation and was under surgeon’s orders to “putter around the house” and not do anything athletic, nor lift anything, nor expose my head to extreme weather.

When I returned after several weeks to my weekend ritual of 36 years, Pat (left in colder days) was not there. He and his father, Frank, had that stall back when my now huge number-one son was an infant in a Snugli on my chest. Now though instead of Pat, Ottavio Gallotto, President of the Haymarket Pushcart Association, had his crew there.

I didn’t ask about Pat, hoping he was hale and away to pick up a tan or the like. I was trepid. His father had died in 2007. Frank was a great role model for Pat, born Pasquale. Frank was one of those kind and gentle souls, who wasn’t ruffled by even the nastiest bargain hunter. Someone would be yelling, feigning indignation, but Frank let him vent and then explained how things were. Nice guy.

I noticed too that Pat’s mom, Jean, whom I’ve never met, died this past fall. So, somewhere I feared he might have fallen ill or worse as well. I know he was younger than I, but hey, 20-year-olds have heart attacks and strokes.

With mixed feelings, I finally asked Ottavio today. He paused and said, “He retired.” (pause) “He is only 60.” (pause) “Crazy, huh?”

Maybe not so crazy. His father worked much longer in their stall. Maybe Frank never tired of it and Pat wanted to spend weekends doing something other than setting up a stall before dawn, artfully arranging lemons and grapefruits, and in 100F or 0F standing there dealing with the likes of me until late afternoon every damned Friday and Saturday. Good on him. Bad for us.

Various Haymarket vendors develop their shticks. There was the relatively famous guy at the butcher shop catercorner from the Campo camp. He frightened some sensitive folk with his sudden “Want some meat, buddy?” query, invariably delivered less than a foot from your face. As I recall there was even a t-shirt with the saying and his raw-steak-like red/blue face.

Jimmy was another who has moved on. He hated the cold. That’s not a good fit for an area close to the waterfront. He was cheerful in spring and summer, but come the dreadful winter winds with sleet, snow and ice, he’d let everyone know how unhappy he was.

And Pat’s calling card was his calling. He’d greet everyone as “Hey, cuz,” or “What do you need, cousin.” Everyone was family to him. He got that attitude from Frank.

So, Haymarket now is without Pat. Clearly, I”ll have to deal.

I got used to the candy/nut man moving on. My sons considered it a right and rite to get a treat from him as a reward for shopping with me. I got used to the massive herb cart going away too.

Pat was the place for certain items. If you wanted the prettiest and most flavorful lemons, you’d head there. He kept his prices the lowest in the market for what he carried too. It was a pleasure doing business with them, father and son.

 

Stony Brook, You’re It!

January 3rd, 2016

I’ve run various shots here and on Flickr (like this one) of Stony Brook Reservation in Boston’s Hyde Park neighborhood. More than the cat-tails and red-tail hawks, the humanoid contemporary wall art — a.k.a. tagging — typifies this end of the massive park.thompson

It’s worth an urban archeology expedition to see the graffiti in what was the Thompson Center. Opened in 1977 as a recreational facility for the physically disabled, it was largely neglected and finally closed in 2002. There’s talk now of turning into a dog-exercise joint. Certainly canine folk are eager for pooping and panting places. They are likely to goose the dozing mayor and city council to get their dog park.

ThompsonisisMeanwhile, the taggers are relentless. Each time I visit, there is new graffiti. The sprayers must have been singularly active Channukah to Christmas to New Years, there were perhaps a dozen paint cans and lids discarded in the main area. The accompanying pic does not show the dominant purple and lavender spray this time.

Strikingly though, the art is egocentric and devoid of political content. Today I was surprised to see the anti-ISIS sentiment. We can be reasonably sure those foreign terrorists are not aware of the statement and would not be concerned were they to become aware. However, I’ll watch for more commentary on my next trip.

Surgical Sounds for Good and Ill

January 2nd, 2016

Mistake the first in my recent eye surgery was finding/viewing videos of the operation. To this simple person, eyeballs should not get four holes, guide tubes and multiple instruments in them. The pulsing fundus spasms alone are disconcerting.

Don’t watch your operation before it occurs.

In my case, the anesthesiologist got me just high enough before the deed (only 20 minutes of actual surgery) that I would not feel and react to a big needle going under the eye into the optic nerve and muscles to keep the eye motionless. So, I heard everything he and the two surgeons said.

If you have the choice, opt for a general. Sure, you’ll be groggier longer, but you won’t hear what you don’t need to.surgery1

 

 

 

 

Thus, my heaven-hell spectrum.

By decreasing hellishness, what you don’t want to hear is “Oh shit!” or “Oops!” followed closely by “Oh my God!”

Sighs and grunts are bad but not terrible.

Minor surgeon glee as in “All right!” is pretty damned good. A self-congradulatory “Yeah!” is perfect.

In my case, I clearly heard repeated grunts followed by several sighs. In the recovery room, the surgeon explained. He had wanted to thoroughly remove any extraneous scar cells off the macula. Lackaday, one layer tightly adhered to the retina, which lifted with the layer as he used his itty-bitty forceps. He stopped before he risked tearing the retina wall, thus blinding me.

That’s hard to argue with, although I share his disappointment, surely to a greater degree. He’s positive he stopped any advancement of the condition, but can’t be sure short-term how much visusal improvement I’ll get. In fact, with macular pucker (a.k.a. wrinkled retina) surgery, the doc and patient don’t know for sure how the operation worked until three to six months later.

My surgeon, Dr. Peter Lou, is classified as a super-doctor. He’s been operating on eyeballs for 32 years he says. He knows his stuff and is a nice guy as well, always learning and far more atune to what the patient says than a stereotypical surgeon. In fact, he says he doesn’t think surgeons are all that big a deal.

Back on the operating table, there I was with a plastic half mask to quadruple ensure they’d work on the proper eye (the right was the right and I left Mass Eye and Ear with a black R marked above the eyebrow as a CYA tool). My eye was numb and blind for the surgery. The left one was covered by the mask and paper cloth.

Yet I heard it all. The chairs faintly creaked as the two surgeons watched their work in the microscope screen. The BP/respirator machines beeped and breathed in turn. The surgeon’s movements made subtle rustles. The tiny drill inside the eye whirred almost silently. Then there were numerous grunts, followed by sighs of exasperation.

Still…far better than “Oops!” or worse.