Company all gone, frig that was absolutely stuffed a few days ago is pretty much empty. So are the cupboards - when I went looking for a jar of spaghetti sauce just now, none left. But the pasta was already boiling, so I searched for something to add to it, and in the back of the refrigerator found this tub of turkey slices. Anna buys them for her boys, must have left them.
So I pulled off some to see if it was too salty -- it wasn't -- and then too late
noticed the top half of those slices.
Which inspired me to take a look at the expiration date on the tub.
Yes, the kids were here in May... I hasten to post this in case you never hear from me again, so you'll know what happened.
As usual, got back in bed after breakfast, as usual turned on tv, and as usual didn't feel like getting up. Midnight in Paris was playing again, and I found it delightful again. This time I paid more attention to the camera work, so evocative, so appealing.
Got to thinking about which movies I enjoy seeing more than once and came up with a few favorites -- perhaps you'd enjoy them, perhaps you already have. I won't call them Best Pictures, except that I do remember thinking, the first time I saw Babette's Feast, that this was what motion pictures were invented for. The rest is not a particularly intellectual list, now that I think about it, but anyhow, along with Babette, I am fond of Starman,
Moonstruck and -- shoot! Lying in bed this morning I had a list and now I can't remember the others. I'll let you know if they come to me. Meanwhile -- Netflix says I need to add to my queue. Your recommendations?
It seems kind of picky for the kids (okay, they're in their 60s but they're still The Kids) to suggest -- more than once -- that I might like to get a driving re-test. First off, about the only time they get to critique my skills is after I've picked them up at the airport. That runs less than 15 minutes, and half the time it's "that's okay, Mother I'll drive" anyhow. When I asked Avi point-blank what he thought of my driving ability he said it was no worse than ever. Hmm. Taking tests can be interesting, though, and if I can explore the matter without alerting the Department of Motor Vehicles -- more specifically their License Bureau -- wotthehell! Lifespan, our local seniors agency, gave me a phone number to call and I've been offered a lengthy evaluation followed by a road test. It starts with a lot of paperwork, including discharge papers from that recent hospitalization, the TIA thing. There's a form to be signed by my doctor, and one for me to fill out. That's what I wanted to show you. At first I was sure I was in the wrong place.- I am to check one of these boxes for Current Diagnosis: Learning Disability, Mental Health Condition, Seizure -- then I noticed the ailments were listed in alphabetical order, and Bingo! -- take a look at the very first one: The form asks for Onset Date for each problem. Okay -- February 27, 1926
Wish I'd thought of it first -- these flamingos hang out on a front lawn near us. They re-group and move around a lot, lending new interest to every drive on busy Elmwood Avenue. But -- you'd think, after 90 years, I'd have learned life is full of disappointments -- today the lawn sported a new arrival, and frankly, it strikes me as just plain tacky.
Record muggy heat this morning, and as I got the Rollator out of the car and started tottering across the parking lot to Louis' hair salon (currently a single basement room in a big apartment building) it crossed my mind -- for the first time -- that I might not be able to do this much longer. Louis and I have met monthly for half a century now. While I struggled with the doors, I was rehearsing how to ask if he ever made house calls. Then as I inched into a chair he whipped the cape around my neck and said "I have something to tell you. "They just raised my rent here and I've decided to quit the business. It'll be hard on the ones that need color, but for just a haircut, and someone like you who pays in cash [?!] I could come to your house, starting in September." It struck me as what Annie used to call "COSMIC." Louis lost his wife some months ago, and as he snipped away he told me that he goes to the cemetary every Sunday, visits his wife's grave and "I talk to her. Then there's this guy who's at his wife's stone about 100 yards away. So then the two of us go to breakfast at McDonald's. We get the special deal on two Egg McMuffins with sausage, and two free senior coffees."
"And then we go to the track and bet on the horses."
It's clear that if I'm going to continue sending you bulletins from the bird bath, I'd better invest in a tripod of some sort. Do they even make tripods for these little things? Yes, I see there's a place to screw it in on the bottom.
Back in the 1960s, when I started substitute teaching -- first earnings since all those babies, except for the occasional magazine article -- Norm said (we were a different generation, you understand) -- don't use your money for household expenses, do something special. So I consulted some Kodak people in the Ornithological Society, and bought a really big long heavy affair,
a tripod, different tripod for the car window, took Kodakcrome slides of course and knew what I was doing when I went after the birds.
Now I'm too lazy even to learn the latest little digital cameras -- when I lost my old one I went on eBay to find an identical "vintage" replacement. That's by way of apologizing for these videos, the first I've used it for. But it is fun to see, the way some birds won't drink from the pool, but hover by the pipe to catch the drops. I wanted to show you the goldfinch and the chickaee, who are more photogenic, but as I complained a few days ago, the more decorative birds are staying away lately.
Note to self: at least, learn to turn off camera before ending shot.
There's not really much use posting nostalgic stuff when most people who would remember don't read blogs anyhow -- or even have computers -- but last Sunday's paper seems so pathetic. It still gamely divides itself into five sections, even when a section, like these Comics, consists of nothing but a folded-over single sheet of newsprint. And anyhow, those aren't Comics -- they're the SundayFUNNIES. Memory seems to skip all the intervening years, and it's maybe 1933, a Depression year I'm in a small sunny living room, stretched out on the floor with the thick wad of Sunday funnies, and a cheerful voice on the radio is saying "In the first picture we see Mutt telling Jeff..." It must have been the beginning of the broadcast, because that was the top strip on the first page, as I remember. The rest of that page was taken up by the Katzenjammer Kids, which they say is the country's oldest still-running strip -- it started in the late 19th century. I wonder if it's still full of the stereotyped dialect it used back then. ISS YOU COO-COO? their mother yells.
Tillie the Toiler I remember because she was so up-to-date. She'd had her hair bobbed -- something Daddy had not yet permitted my Mother -- and she worked in an office! As you can see in this ad, 30 strips were just about right for a Sunday paper.
Gasoline Alley, it seems, is also still running. Skeezix had been born (or rather, found abandoned in a basket) on our friend Elliott's birthday, Valentine's Day, 1921. Elky is gone, but Skeezix is still running -- well, probably more like hobbling. For a short period under a different artist he stopped growing older, but now he's a white-haired veteran of World War II and a great-grandfather.
The red dress Little Orphan Annie always wore was brighter, at least in the Boston Globe, than it is here, but Sandy and Daddy Warbucks are just right. At the age of seven I never stopped to analyze the last name of that conservative capitalist. They changed him for the movie, but in the funnies he died of despair over the election of FDR.
So maybe he's what the GOP needs right now, to solve its problems with all those WW I-profiteer bucks.
This morning it appears I may have been all wrong, blaming the grackles and starlings for emptying the bird feeders
and just now Bambi strolled around the willow tree to browse -- no, browsing is on low tree branches -- but what if it's nibbling on the catnip Dannie once planted there? Will we have a drunken deer? A befuddled fawn?
All the bird feeders are full, it's lovely weather, God's in his heaven, all's right with the world. No, that's from The year's at the Spring -- today it's more like What is so rare as a day in June?
This window provides endless entertainment -- goldfinch(es?), cardinals, lovely nuthatch(es?), the bossy blue jay who scares everyone else up into the willow tree but he's worth it. And I won't have to refill the feeders for at least a week, which is just as well -- these days I don't go out there alone for fear of falling.
But then -- cue creepy organ music -- for the first time I can remember, big birds swoop in. I don't resent the flicker -- so decorative. But the grackles come in droves, scare everyone else away and gorge on everything in sight. And then the starlings bring some of the most unappealing babies you ever saw, with such continuous squawking I have to close the window.
Yelling and fighting, those Disney villains take no time at all to empty everything but the peanut feeder -- for some reason they can't seem to get very far with that one. When they leave, the sparrows zip in. Their bills aren't really right for nuts but they try. For the first time I take a video, so you can share nine seconds of the excitement.
Pay attention to the southwest corner of the feeder.
That's where the tragedy is -- I took a final still after the others flew off.
Yes, that ball of fluff in the lower left was a dead sparrow. Judging from the excitement half an hour before, I'd say it was accidentally pecked to death. And the big question was -- what to do? No way I could go out there alone without getting in trouble.
Well, quick windup -- landmark event. For the first time ever (if I remember right, always uncertain these days) I phoned for help. Amy came over and brushed aside my apologies with "It's okay, I dispose of cat shit all the time."
I can't tell you what she did, as I did not watch. But then we refilled the feeders, and I'm back in business. I may be pretty much restricted to this chair lately, but you can't say there isn't plenty of drama in my world.
On Skype today with my son in Vancouver (I'll never take these miracles for granted) to clean up some mysterious problems that arose in the administration of this blog-- and we finally find -- okay, he finally finds -- the page (the screen?) we're looking for. While he's solving my problems, I spend the time reading the Blogspot manual, or whatever it's called when it's online, and one of the first sentences takes me back to my original computer, a hefty (and expensive) IBM, must have been around 1983. That machine was so sophisticated, did marvelous things I couldn't begin to understand, but when it came to the manual (which I guess you can see up there on the left)-- well, it was clear that the manual, like the computer itself, was probably the work of boys who still had zits, and who couldn't spell.
More than 30 years later I get the feeling not much has changed -- here's part of a sentence I found today on a really sophisticated page intended for Blogspot administrators: ... use the login info for the selected links then type youre blogger identety to edit anything else
Because I haven't figured out how to respond to comments( it's shameful, how mentally lazy I am these days) -- I'll tie up a few loose ends today: yes, that's a normal red squirrel; I just never had one before. Yes, I cleaned up the exploded hard-boiled eggs; it took an hour and ten minutes but what else have I got to do? Yes, I contacted the English Department at Fisher (thanks for the web address but I phoned, using my land-line, showing my age again) and Deborah Vanderbilt came over and picked up that textbook, which she needed promptly. She looked over my collection of Jane Austen translations (72 volumes in 28 languages) -- and read the author's name from one -- turns out she had once lived in Japan. For that matter, last evening my son and daughter-in-law arrived, just back from a trip to the Baltic -- so now I have an Estonian Pride and Prejudice.
Back in the 1980s I taught real estate licensing in night school, for the Continuing Education Department at St. John Fisher College. Maybe I was an adjunct lecturer -- or are there adjunct instructors? So anyhow, last Saturday the mail carrier delivered this package and I opened it without stopping to read the label --
Who is Deborah Vanderbilt, and does she need Academic Writing for Students in a hurry (it's hard for me to go to the post office), and after 30 years where did the publisher get my address, and why is the zip code wrong, and if they're going to send me free books, why not something interesting?
There's not a thing on my calendar today, which feels so luxurious -- no need to watch the clock, worry about missing an appointment or showing up for something on the wrong day. After a nicely balanced breakfast, I put up some eggs to hard-boil, and came out to the computer -- without getting dressed! -- to check email and play Freecell. I was trying for a perfect record to show you (but you can see I lost it on the fourth round) and idly thinking about what Mother said years ago, and how my neighbor at the seniors lunch said the exact same thing "Lately I can only do one thing a day." I mentally checked off the few things I do these days -- no laundry needed yet, groceries holding out, bird feeders filled, column sent off up to date. I was thinking it probably isn't good for me not to have at least one thing to do and -- wait a minute! what's that smell? Long-time readers of this blog already know what it is. I don't think I've told you about every occurance, but it happens at least once a year.
"But didn't you attach a timer to your rollator?" "Yes, but then I have to remember to set the timer." And I can't really afford to throw out any more pots -- this time I'll have to scrub. It's the bits on the floor that pose the most problem -- no way I can bend down to use a dustpan. Vacuum is out of the question. Will they carpet-sweep up or are they too sticky? And the cleaning lady won't be here till Tuesday.
This last bit is way out in the front hall -- that's the livingroom carpet on the right. This, at least, I can pick up with the grabber.
Rather than face the problem, I took the pictures and came out here to tell you about it. Still not dressed. Have a nice day!
Okay, I give up on that little squirrel. It's your standard Red Squirrel and I just never saw one here before. Also I don't see how they're allowed to call these feeders squirrel-proof. Those peanuts are $3.95 a pound in Wegman's.
No question the world has been shrinking -- no more shopping except for groceries (where there are fine shopping carts for support; people leave them for each other at the handicap parking spaces), no more concerts, no lectures, no swimming never mind no scuba, no travel -- no leaving town -- etc etc. So I get my excitement from the view at this desk chair, all day. You can't really tell from here, but I watch about a full acre of suburban back lawns, with a thin strip of woods behind. And this morning -- an exciting mystery!!
You can see it for yourself -- I could, the minute I sat down here. Directly up from that square suet feeder, right below the overhang -- here, I'll give you a closeup.
Now where on earth did that ribbon come from? How did it get looped up in the stump of the old willow?
That's the tree that I had them amputate a few years ago when some of it fell on this office -- see earlier blogs. And come to think of it, was it only a few years ago that I was able to walk way out back and take pictures?
Well, you take your excitement where you can find it!