Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What Went On?

These days the obituaries are about the most interesting part of our increasingly feeble excuse for a daily paper -- there's plenty of sociology here, and it's intriguing to see what family members consider important about a Life.  I've been wondering about this one for more than a week now:
“…Although he experienced significant betrayal in his life (and you know who you are) far far more important was his relationship of 42 years with his wife, best friend, companion, partner and business manager Victoria.  He loved his sons Michael Patrick and…”
Who do you suppose you-know-who-you-are is, and what went on?  At least there's no mystery about who wrote the obit -- definitely Victoria, wouldn't you say?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Hosta Hospitality

Three graceful fawns (is that the word?) just showed up, but -- sorry -- they simply refuse to stay together and say cheese for a picture.  
I knew there was some reason I planted that hosta -- and here I was getting ready to hire someone to weed!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Tsk tsk

About the only time I regret living alone (except when the bird feeders need filling) is when I hit what my son Avi calls a "Hey Doris!" moment -- and there's no one to say "look at this!" to.  I forget what the 10th-grade teacher called it, but isn't there something wrong with the first sentence in this e-mail just received?  and from an organization that deals in the written word!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Sorry for the delay!
As a valued member of the Democrat and Chronicle, we wanted to let you know that the delivery of today's newspaper may be delayed. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your patience.


Thursday, August 25, 2016


     You must get these emails yourself -- pleas from your nephew who is suddenly in jail in Minnesota "please don't tell my folks, just send bail", and official congratulations  about your sweepstakes award of $4,000,000 "held here in bond until you prepay the taxes".
     Of course the column invites mail from strangers, and the address appears every week in dozens of newspapers, so I end up opening all sorts of exciting propositions.  But here's a first, which arrived a couple of days ago:Attention.  I am very sorry for you, is a pity that
this is how your life is going to end as soon as you don't duty as I am mailing you now is just to KILL you and I have...already been paid...Now do you want to LIVE OR DIE?...$8,000 is all you need to spend...

It's a long message, at least 800 words, and it ends --
On the off chance "someone who you called your friend" is reading this --
                        UP YOURS!!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Stag Party

The damn stag is still out there.  Plenty of leisure for taking
pictures.  I'll start by showing you where he's standing -- using no zoom, this is my desk.  The green thingie hanging out there is a bird feeder just filled by the cleaning lady -- I'm afraid of falling now so I wait for her to do it.  Okay, you're oriented, right.  Now, for your viewing pleasure, the kind of thing my uninvited guest has been indulging in for half an hour now,  
stopping every now and then to give me an challenging stare as he takes a chewing break.  Maybe deer chew cud?
The other night I turned on the backyard spotlight and there this guy was in the dark -- but I was still blaming that horde of sparrows for emptying the feeder.
Of course it's always comforting to know that other people have worse problems (what's that word?  schadenfreude or something?  yes, I know, I could look it up.)  Here, for instance, is the photo my kids Dov and Connie received last week from their housesitter back in Vancouver -- look what's been getting at their bird feeders!

Monday, August 15, 2016


Heading for the morning bath, I find on a top shelf a book I'd quite forgotten -- Queen Mary and Others, by Osbert Sitwell (yes, Edith's brother.)  It's a handsome hardcover, which I evidently bought for 88 cents. 
It seems to be a first edition, 1975, but alas! a quick trip to reveals that it's still a drug on the market -- used book stores are offering copies for 99 cents today. 
Anyhow, what I set out to show you is the footnote on page 30, which I'm having trouble photographing.  Sitwell (Sir Osbert, actually) is reporting on a luncheon party --the writing style is catching -- attended by Queen Mary, and he mentions their host's son-in-law -- if you ask me, simply as an excuse to append this brief footnote, 
*Some years later, he met a strange death, by sawing off a branch on which he was standing.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Mystery Solved

You may wonder what Fanueil Hall in Boston has to do with that mystery slab, but long ago, a restaurant in there was the first place I ever ate Indian Pudding.  And that's what Anna reminds me she made when she was here a couple of weeks ago.  Now of course I do remember.  It was great.  Tasted authentic.
We can blame the whole foo-fa-rah on small vessel ischemic cerebral atrophy, which is that white stuff on the outside of my brain that showed up on the hospital's MRI last month -- a great excuse for everything these days.  And not worth fretting about.  

 I think Anna ended up using an Internet recipe, but I know she did consult the cookbook she and Monica put together years ago.   When my sister Esther died, so many people wanted Esty's  index-card  recipes that we ended up -- in those primitive analog days --  at Kinkos. 
The epigraph below is from the Pilgrim's Hymn we always sang at Thanksgiving -- still do, if it comes to that, but for the last 20 years without Esty.


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Mystery Slab

A friend asked why posts have been scanty recently -- I must confess it's gratifying that someone noticed -- and as you might have guessed, The Family was visiting from out-of-town (out-of-the-state, out-of-the-country.)  Working my way through the leftovers, and having received no response after an appeal to my recent visitors, I throw this open to all and sundry -
It's somewhat crumbly, and to my surprise a bit nipped off tastes of ginger, but no gingerbread was involved in the recent festivities, and anyhow this does not have the texture of baked goods.  Clearly it was cut with a knife there -- off a larger something...
What's interesting is that I don't seem able to eat it until I know what one is supposed to do  -- does it call for a glass of milk?  does one use a knife and fork?  should it be warmed up? grilled?  is it appropriate for breakfast?  is it a dessert?  should it be ingested in small amounts?  crumbled over ice cream?  is it safe after it's thawed?  If that dark bit isn't a raisin, what could it be?
I don't seem able to simply relax and take it on its own, somehow. 
Clearly, we've become too civilized.

*btw, that face peeping out of the corner in the first picture is, appropriately enough, Samuel Pepys -- I made the mistake of putting the Slab on my desk to take the picture, and Sam's portrait is on my mouse pad.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Alive and Not Kicking

1. okay (adj.)

being satisfactory or in satisfactory condition                     
  • hunky dory
  • cool
  • swell
  • on the ball
  • right on
  • AOK
  • ippsy pippsy
  • peachy keen
  • copacetic
  • cooking with gas

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Farewell My Lovelies

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.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Movies -- Did I Post this Already?

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?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Onset in 1926

       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

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Flamingo Update

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. 
It's not even a flamingo.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Louis's Sundays

His place is about this size.
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."

Saturday, July 9, 2016

bird bath videos

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. 
video video 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.                       

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Funnies

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 Sunday FUNNIESMemory 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.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

1 day, 2 days, 30 days

Yesterday Simon and Christy commented that they hadn't seen any blog posts lately, how come?  I chose to take that as a compliment, -- at any rate, I was as the Brits say in hospital.  (I'm trying to think of an illustration to liven things up at this point but nothing appropriate comes to mind.)
I suspected it was just a TIA (sort of a mini-stroke that soon vanishes) but called 911 just in case and the hospital kept me over ("increased risk of stroke for the first 24 hours") and ran a lot of tests.  All came out normal but the MRI was worse than childbirth -- or maybe I've just forgotten.  Meanwhile Anna searched the Internet and found "increased risk of stroke for two days " after a TIA while Avi's research turned up the disheartening report that the British take away your driver's license for 30 days.  But hey -- the British voted to leave the EU, if it comes to that.
So anyhow I'm fine.  Some time ago Anna sent me this link to a delightful article from the NYTimes.
 It strikes me as entirely accurate, particularly the last sentence. But wotthehell, Mehitabel had it right -- Cheerio my Deario.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Unusual Suspect

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?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Backyard Drama

House Finch(es?)
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?

Carolina Wren
 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.


Squawk squawk

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.