Monday, December 31, 2012

Love, Babe

         Why I'm Babe -- Abigail was the first grandchild to call me Baba.   Then back in the 1980s, when her folks bought a home computer, she tried writing me a letter and printing it out, and added an apologetic p. s. –“I’m sorry but there's a  spell-checker and it changed your name to Babe.” 
        It does come in handy.  For some reason it feels awkward to sign a greeting card as  “Mother” or “Grandmother” so “Babe” works just fine.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Don't Tell Me What to Do

               "Have a nice day!" 
               I have to bite my tongue to keep from retorting "I'll have any damn kind of a day I want." 
               Same with  "Enjoy your dinner!" 
I'll do anything I choose with my dinner, thank you very much.

              And yet -- go figure -- I always smiled when Julia Child's warbling voice wished me a chipper "Bon Appetit!"


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Can YOU Help ME?

Never mind saying “Yes, please” to every stranger’s “Can I help you?” 
Now there’s a new development:  I find myself perfectly happy to accost strangers and ask for help.  “Excuse me, could you please reach that box down from the supermarket shelf...carry this package into the post office for me...pick up the trash from the garage instead of down at the curb?”

And it's okay, because they all look so happy about it!  You’d think they were so many Boy Scouts, who had to wear their pins upside down until they’d done a Good Deed for the day. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Can I Help You?

It started about the time I turned 80.  A stranger would say "Can I help you?" and my first reaction was a silent disbelief -- "What DO you suppose I look like?"  Those were the days when I still didn’t want to be seen in public using a cane.
            Now of course my reaction is "You bet--thanks!"  By all means, help me step off the curb, load the groceries in the car, pick the cane up off the floor.
Most often, of course, it's "Can I hold that door for you?" and I always feel like saying "Listen, I can manage that, it's the least of my worries.  If you really want to be helpful, how about coming back to the house to put up the storm door?"
Yes, I WILL go to the head of the line, thank you.  Standing in line is just too painful, and besides, I'm entitled.  It's an odd feeling, but -- don't ask me exactly why --these days I'm entitled.  To everything. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The World BP

Chicago Style

I was born before the stock market crashed, lived through the Great Depression, through a World War, lived in a big city, lived in the country, graduated high school, went to college -- and believe it or not, kids, had never heard of pizza.
There must have been pizza somewhere in those days – in squares cut out of big trays at old-fashioned Italian weddings, for instance.  But I’m pretty sure – much of America had never heard of pizza.
I know exactly where I was when I had my first slice, and I can even pinpoint the year, 1945.  My folks were driving me back to college (with precious rationed gasoline), and my father stopped at a shack outside a small town.  He’d heard they were serving this trendy new thing.  I remember him getting back in the Buick saying “Well, now I’ve tried it.”
That was my first piece of pizza.  A couple of months later I had a second, and again I remember exactly where -- a brand-new restaurant on the south side of Decarie Boulevard in Montreal. 
It was delicious. 
But kids -- believe it or not -- there really was a world Before Pizza.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Most Perfect Gift

Last week some women at the senior center were talking about sessions at their church, putting together Christmas packages for the deserving poor.  I wondered how the deserving poor felt about that.  And then I remembered when I was 13—so it would have been 1939 -- I  was ordered  flat on my back, not allowed to sit up, not allowed to leave the bed, for 12 months.  (Scheuermann's disease, adolescent kyphosis, spinal deformity.)
In the hospital I must have been a charity patient, because I never heard any talk of the expense, and our family was suffering a really bad Great Depression.  My home was more than 50 miles away, so I didn’t see my folks all that often and didn’t have other visitors.
For some reason I wasn’t allowed in a children’s ward.  I had one of eight beds separated by curtains, in a room with windows only down at the far end, the kind of ward you see in old black and white movies, only gloomier.  My parents bought me a headphone radio, but hospital rules allowed no radios on the wards, no exceptions, so they had to take it back home.
When Christmas came, I heard music for the first time in months, carolers out in the halls.  And on my breakfast tray, a slim wrapped package from some organization or other.  Somebody was thinking -- It was probably the only thing I could have kept in that place.  A bracelet.  White enameled links with alternating white and green stones.  Probably cost half a dollar -- a quarter? --  in the five-and-ten.  Something to look at.  A bit of color.
It was the most wonderful gift I ever received.
p.s.:  Don’t feel too sorry for me.  I made friends with the Red Cross Grey Lady who wheeled the library cart.  My father made a wooden rack that hung over my bed with elastic loops to hold an open book, and I read three books a day for 11 months.  Then the doctor sent me home early with exercises and a back brace.  I’ve had upper-back pain every day since, but fortunately I never knew, until I googled it recently, that what they’d been treating is also known as the Hunchback Disease.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Grocery Mystery

Well, we finally got Trader Joe's up here in the boondocks.  Had a pleasant time looking at all that yuppie stuff. 
 Saw a bottle of ORGANIC MAPLE SYRUP.                       
              Still trying to figure that one out.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

More Multitasking

There's nobody to hear me yell “Hey look at this!”, so I’m showing it to you instead.  And if I ever win Hearts with a score of Zero, you’ll get to see it again for sure. 
Assorted grandchildren probably don’t  know I’m using their names for the imaginary opponents.  I’m Babe.  Will tell you how come  it's Babe some other day..
So I played this game all by myself while talking on the phone with -- or more accurately, listening to -- an extraordinarily long-winded neighbor.  I had started out playing a version of Solitaire.  Switched to Hearts when it became evident I could tackle something a bit more demanding,  because all the conversation required from me was an occasional “uhuh”.
So am I the only person who ever played Solitaire during a phone call?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

and the answer is


Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?

Benjamin: Yes, I am.

Mr. McGuire: Plastics.

Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?

Mr. McGuire: There's a great future in plastics.

Friday, December 21, 2012

One Little Word

     The announced topic of the speaker at Tuesday's senior luncheon was "Aging."  She began with a warm-up quiz that got everyone in the room involved, 10 questions.  When she read "You'll wonder where the yellow went" several voices called out "When you brush your teeth with Pepsodent" and I actually remembered the tune that went with the jingle.  Almost everyone knew what builds strong bodies 12 ways (Wonder Bread, which led to some murmurs about the recent demise of the bakery.)
   Not only did I have the answer to her final question, but I knew what the question itself would be as soon as I heard the first five words:
     "In the movie The Graduate..."
So you can have the satisfaction of answering it for yourself, I'll wait until tomorrow to post it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Packing Archeology

It’s hard to think back to DOS, that  quick and Dirty Operating System I learned in the early 1980s, but I believe it was then I set up a  file (seems as if we called it something else then?) as a Packing List.  I’ve added to it over the years, never taken anything off.  And while I had resolved not to include too much “me” in the blog, this does seem an appropriate place to meditate on changes over the years. For some reason--no good reason, actually-- the first part of the list is alphabetized, and here are relics of the past:

Bathing suit:  Never again.  When my cousin Betty was 86, she said “nobody ever gets to see these legs again.”  I thought that was pretty drastic, now I agree completely.

Beach cover-ups:  Not necessary, see above.

Bras:  On my 80th birthday I made three resolutions:  no more bras, I’ll never wear a skirt again, and I forget what the third was.  Full disclosure: about once a month, I’m sorry to say, there is an outfit that calls for a bra. Getting it on involves analytic geometry and considerable shoulder pain.

Business cards:  Doing is one thing, but marketing is another thing altogether. The best thing about writing is that one can do it sitting down.  For speaking engagements these days, or radio, there’s always a stool.  But marketing takes energy and one needs to be – as Norm said when taking on salespersons – hungry. No more ambition, no more business cards.  These days I hand out slips with the address of this blog.

Cosmetics:  Never again.  Beyond a bit of lipstick to cover some unpleasant spots that have somehow popped up on the lower lip, any further attempt would be comical. 

Took this in Bonaire, 1981
 C-card:  Never again.  At  55, I was inordinately proud of that just-earned Basic Diver Certification card.  Then on my 80th birthday, took my 145th open water dive and it turned out to be the final one.  Too aware of weakening muscles to enjoy the fish and the coral, glad a son and a  grandson were my buddies that day.

We’re not three inches down the Packing List, haven’t even reached the Ds, where we can cross off Diving Equipment (see above) and Dresses (also see above).  The no-more-dresses resolution I’ve never broken, not even for Abigail's fancy wedding, where to my relief one of the other grandmothers turned up in a pants suit too.
But as I’m opposed to long posts—and too much “me”—let’s leave the rest of the list for another day.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sorcerer's Apprentice Ties

The house has been drowning in ties.  In Norm’s bottom drawer, mile-wide ties from the late 1940s, when manufacturers were giddy about the availability of fabric after war-time rationing.  Some hand-painted – he couldn’t bear to throw them out.  Way back in the closet, those skinny affairs from – I forget, some time between then and now – including a couple of navy knit ones.  Ties on the tie rack, on the other tie rack, ties in the suitcases, ties on the top shelf. 
I sent them to the Goodwill.  I found more.  Took them to the Open Door Mission.  Found more.  I kept out a dozen of the best and pitched them to visitors: sons, son-in-law, grandsons. 
“That’s okay, I already own a tie.”  “Never seem to need ties, thanks anyhow.”  “C’mon, Mom, who wears ties these days?”
            Who indeed?  And then yesterday on his way home from work, my attorney stopped in with yet more papers to be signed. Sat at the kitchen table in his dark lawyer suit, white shirt, and --- !!!  Who wears ties???  You betcha!!!
            He took the navy one with the thin red stripe.  He took the yellow one with the little diamonds once known as a power tie. He took every dignified one in the lot.  Wish I’d thought to take a picture of them.  All I can show you is the frivolous ones he declined. 

Would you trust a lawyer who wore these?
                If anyone reading this leads a frivolous life and would like them, do get in touch with me.  I really mean it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I heard the word  Kamenets-Poldolsk  somehow when I was very little and I remember enjoying the sounds. Then last week I ran into it in a book.  And then I read it again somewhere else yesterday.  Sorry, don’t remember where so I can’t tell you that.  But what would you say are the odds of coming upon that same nifty word (words?)  twice in one week after a gap of more than 80 years?

Just looked it up in Wikipedia, after a small argument with Google about spelling.  Kamenets-Podolsk turns out to be a city, a small one, currently in the Ukraine.  It has been at various times part of Turkey, Russia, Poland, Austria-Hungary and Lithuania

Really?  Lithuania?  Yes,  Virginia--if you read it in Wikipedia it must be true.
It looked as if Kamanets-Podolsk  would have been in the news in 1927, but come on – I wouldn’t have relished those rich syllables when I was only one year old?  At any rate, I post them here so you can try them out yourself. Don’t they roll off the tongue nicely?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Jumbled and Jivey

Last midnight I--here I was going to say I suddenly sat upright in my bed but you know I can't do that any more -- I suddenly realized that I had left the final two lines off yesterday's post, so here they are now::

A kiddley divey
Two wooden shoe.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


and dozeydoats and little lamzydivey.  And so, evidently, do little deer. 
This just a few minutes ago.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Is it really that much trouble to type "All right"?  
And if that's exhausting, why not just say "Okay"? 

Or to save time, a simple "OK"?  Please, will someone tell me, how come today even that's too much work, KOops, capital letter too much effort? Should I have  typed just "k"?

And am I hearing right (admittedly always iffy these days) -- are people even saving time   lately by saying it that way?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Final Hot Sauce Report

First time I've seen that stag approach the bird feeder where I mixed in the Texas Hot Sauce.  He went for the seed so quickly that all I could get was a blurred picture.  Then he pulled back and gave me a long reproachful stare through my office window.
And then turned tail and left.  I tell myself that hot sauce can't really poison anyone, or how could they sell it for people?   But I feel bad.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Back to the Queen

Never mind all that speculation about what Queen Elizabeth carries in her handbag.  Today we concentrate instead on the purse itself, the same one she’s carried every day since at least 1947.  That’s 65 years ago, gang.  Or wait a minute -- I take it back -- it looks as if she may have replaced it along the way, and she does own another handbag – it looks just like this one but it’s black. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Robin, Dog, Baby

Anna skypes that if I look in the brass chest, I’ll find some little gifts she put there while they were home for Thanksgiving.  And suddenly I flash on a scene from 82 or maybe 83 years back.  My folks are looking down at me, all excited, and a voice from the radio is saying “If Edith will look in the bottom of the china cabinet she’ll find a birthday gift.”  I cannot tell you anything about that radio program, but what I found was two dolls, one with blond hair, one with brown.

Radio was a big part of life in the 1920s.  The popular songs I remember hearing  while we lived in that house (we lost it after the stock market crash) reflect a  three-year-old’s interests:

When the Red Red Robin goes Bob Bob Bobbin Along,
The Whistler and His Dog,  and
I Found a Million-Dollar Baby in the Five- and Ten-Cent Store.

As I recall, it seemed perfectly reasonable that the man had found a baby in the store.  I have no idea what became of  those two dolls, but the china cabinet has moved 3,000 miles to Dov and Connie’s house in Vancouver.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Dying at the Movies

Leslie Howard's just been shot.

Have you ever noticed what happens when one of  the good guys is dying in the movies?  Or perhaps it’s one of the bad guys that we really like but he can’t be allowed to end the story alive?  Say he gets shot in the middle of a crowd.  People rush up, and someone says “Stand back, give him air!”  And that’s all  they do, except sometimes they loosen his tie and collar.
Getting him air is all anyone seems concerned about, but no one ever tries artificial respiration.  Hasn’t anyone in that whole crowd ever taken a Red Cross First Aid course?  Not even in the Boy Scouts?  Nobody tries to see where the bullet entered.  Nobody whips out a handkerchief to put pressure on the bleeding wound.
Occasionally someone yells “Get a doctor!” but no one calls 911.  Well, you can’t hold that against them; this is usually in black and white and they don’t have cell phones or 911 yet.  But when the doctor does push his way through the crowd (it’s always a male doctor) all he does is pull up one of the victim’s eyelids and shake his head significantly.
                Meanwhile the nearest and dearest – and sometimes this is a woman – cradles the victim’s head carefully so the camera can find the right close-up angle, and listens for the dying words, always important to the plot, carefully thought out and beautifully delivered.  After which the head suddenly drops and it’s all over.
                If you’re my age, you’ve probably seen someone die, maybe more than once.  And as far as I can tell, it’s never like that.  I was going to continue here, but I think I’ll quit.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Peaceful Sunday Afternoon

Seventy-one years ago today, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I was upstairs in a rented house in Penn Yan, New York.  (I mention the village just because it has such a fine name.)  A magazine was running an essay contest with a first prize of $50, twice what my father earned a week as a factory superintendent. So I was at my typewriter, a Royal portable that had no 'zero' or 'one' --you typed a capital 'O' or a lower-case letter ' l'.     
I seem to be getting off topic pretty fast.  Okay, what I remember is going over to the top of the stairs, a steep straight enclosed flight in the middle of what I just realized must have been a very old house.   I can still see Daddy standing at the foot of the stairs, the radio is on, and he is looking up to shout that “The Japanese just bombed Pearl Harbor.”  
I had no idea why he was telling me, what or where Pearl Harbor was – only a vague idea of where Japan was for that matter.  No thought of how our lives, all the rest of my teen years, would be affected.  I just went back to the typewriter.  But there must have been something in his voice that made it one of those “remember where were you when...” moments.      

At school on Monday, we all trooped over to the Junior High, a new (1930s) building that had an auditorium (our old Academy didn't have one.)  A loudspeaker had been installed for President Roosevelt's address to Congress -- and the nation.  My co-editor on the (mimeographed) school paper, the Penn Yan Key, challenged me to take down the speech.  No fair, she was taking shorthand.  But Roosevelt, a gifted orator, spoke with majestic deliberation, and I got it all: 

“Yesterday... December 7... 1941... a date which will  LIVE..(I can still hear the emphasis and the pause) INFAMY... the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately ATTACKED...”

I won the contest and the essay was my first published magazine article.  


Thursday, December 6, 2012

S. W. A. K.

New Years Eve 1950
Today for the first time I tried my new bright red lipstick   
(see October postings.)  Soon as I put it on, I flashed on
the 1940s.  Am I imagining it, or did girls wear a great deal
of bright red in those days?
First, of course, we used Tangee.  That, kids, was a mild,
almost transparent beginner's lipstick that was supposed to change, after you put it on, to a shade particularly suited to your complexion.  I used other girls' Tangee at high school
(shudder) because my father wouldn’t let me wear lipstick.
Then when he finally gave in, what I bought was indeed bright red. Max Factor.                                                 
This morning that bright red looked so weird on my 2012 face that I immediately blotted my lips on a Kleenex. (Computer just corrected me by capitalizing that trademarked word).  I looked at the smudged tissue and it brought back the letters we wrote almost every day during WWII, to the millions of men – many of them teenaged boys – across the Pacific and the Atlantic.  On those envelopes -- now that's what I call an emoticon !


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Expertise from Warren Buffett

      Again this week, here's a sentence from the current New Yorker magazine, and this time it’s something I not only understand but agree with-- a quote from Warren Buffett: 
      “I was happy when I was in my twenties, and I don’t see a reason to change things.” 
      Was I happy in my twenties?  I recently re-read an entry in a 1953 journal -- I had just peeked in the upstairs bedrooms at my little boys asleep and come downstairs "...practically purring." 
      And now?  Okay, I hesitate to admit right out in public that I’m happy.  It seems inappropriate for a fairly recent widow.  And yes, of course I badly miss the sharing, the ‘listen to this’, or "let's do that" of a 63-year marriage that ended up close and supportive.  And yes, at this time a year ago I was—I realize now looking back--pretty off-balance.  I made more bad moves than the kids know anything about.  And yes, the oddest things were triggering me to choke up. 
       But in the end, I'm with Buffett.
       It would be a bad return on investment to waste these bonus years being anything but happy.      

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

East is East and West is West

                Ben, who now lives in Los Angeles,  flies East and brings his little boys over for breakfast.  With my own grandsons in mind, I  stocked up on bananas, orange juice, milk, and of course lots of bagels, warm from the oven when I picked them up. 
So  those California kids sat down at the table and stared right past a platter of bagels, not interested,  didn’t even know what they were.  I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it.   Why -- my grandchildren teethed on bagels.  All except Miriam-- she begged for bagels just to lick off the cream cheese.
                “Granola,” says Ben.  “They eat granola for breakfast.  Where’s your granola?”
Granola?  In 86 years I’ve never bought granola.  Never seen a granola in my life.  Don’t even know where one would find it (them?)  in Wegman’s.  
Big crisis.
And then – Wait a minute!  Abigail used to live in  California – and didn’t she leave something on the top shelf  last summer?  And what’s  Ben reaching down?  Can it be?  Yes it is!  A box half full of granola!
Last-minute save!      

Monday, December 3, 2012

Now Boarding for Peter Rabbit

My otolary..oh, never mind.  Let's start over.
My ear doctor..once explained that vowels are easier to hear correctly.  Where people have more trouble, he said, was with consonants.
And so there I was in O’Hare Airport waiting for the next plane to Milwaukee, and striking up a conversation with the woman sitting next to me.
 “And where are you going?”
 “Peter Rabbit”, she said.
I digested that in silence, but when she stood up and gathered her belongings I took a look at the notice board--NOW BOARDING FOR CEDAR RAPIDS 
Try it yourself – identical vowels.  Even some identical consonants. .
                  You've got to admit -- things like that do make life more interesting.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Now That's Being Old

Anna skypes this afternoon, and having read the preceding blog asks what's the other new thing I learned yesterday.

 I haven't the slightest idea.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Not Elderly Resistant

     Great feeling of achievement today.  Did two things I'd never done before, which is supposed to create extra -- somethings -- in the elderly brain.  I thought maybe it was more neurons, but Marion tells me it's synapses.  Whatever.  Always useful these days.  A  lecturer who explained it said it had to be something you'd never done before, "you may enjoy your crossword puzzles but they don't build more brain...."  Audience, at the seniors luncheon, muttered disagreement at that point.
     Anyhow -- First, as they're no longer offering my marvelous health insurance after this year, I suddenly realized there's a deadline next week for enrolling in Medicare D, the prescription thing.  As usual, first thought was "Who can do this for me?"  Realized nobody was going to, went on the Internet, first to Google, then to a government website that promised to be real easy, has just been revised to be real easy.
      It isn't.
      But it had -- aha! -- an 800 number for when all else failed. 
      That brought me to a wonderful gentleman.  His southern accent made things a bit difficult but on the other hand it made him speak slowly so that evened out.  I pulled the "old enough to be your grandmother, don't hear well, throw myself on your mercy" bit and promptly got enrolled in Medicare D.  Only hitch was a big chunk of fine print he was required to read to me so I could say "I agree" but that was okay as I played Free Cell the whole time he recited it.

      Note in the photo of the meds ("pills" is so last-century)  that the aspirin lacks a "not elderly resistant" cap, more's the pity.  And did you know that "Aspirin" used to be a trade-marked term?  Bayer lost it because the word was only too successful and "passed into the language."  Xerox and Realtor fight hard, these days, to hold on to those trademarks.
      But we're getting way off-topic.  I'll leave bragging about the second achievement for another day -- don't like posts that get too long anyhow. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Scene of the Crime

Recovering From The Kids

 It was wonderful having the family here visiting, and this morning I finally found the hair dryer, tucked under a bedside table in the little back guest room. That about does it.

I have no idea which harried parent shut which little kid out on the porch to watch TV, right next to the wicker chair with all that tempting wound rattan.  Or to be more precise, formerly wound rattan.

I’m still wondering who parked my car under the sparrow tribe in the buckthorn tree, with the resulting splats on the hood and incidentally the radio pre-sets changed to an assortment of ear-splitting stations.  Or who stowed the handicap parking permit in the passenger-side map pocket, where I didn’t think to look for a week.

It took only a few days to figure out how to get the outside post lantern on at dusk, off at dawn again.  Someone must have jiggled the wrong switch; admittedly, it’s tricky.  Re-setting the night light on the microwave took longer – I  finally had to dig out the instruction manual.
I couldn’t understand why the clothes dryer was so slow, had already called a repairman when I noticed that all the heat and fan settings had been changed. And my best spatula has disappeared.  Sure, I have other spatulas, but it’s almost impossible to cook without that particular one I’ve had for at least 50 years.  I’m not exactly saying anyone stole it, but you’d think it would have turned up by now.
Probably the unkindest kindness of all – one morning after highly successful popovers, some misguided person energetically scrubbed my cast-iron pans within an inch of their lives.  It’ll take months to get them properly seasoned again.
When I came back from taking the last kids to the airport, the garage door opener didn’t work but I managed to haul the door up myself.  Strained my back for at least a week, then finally noticed the automatic opener has a manual override cord dangling from it.  Obvious: what ten-year-old boy, suddenly tall enough to reach that tempting red cord, could walk through the garage without pulling it to see if something would happen.
 And don’t even get me started about the thermostats!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Greatest Generation

This blog is indeed supposed to be about Being Old and I wish I knew how many genuine elders are reading it.  I get statistics from Blogspot but they just tell me things like --  seven people in Russia looked at it last week, and more than half the viewers are using Microsoft.  Wish they could break it down by age groups -- after all, it's clear that Facebook can. 

I'd like to think I hit a "me too" nerve when I confess that in those columns of celebrity news where
People's Names appear in bold face, I don't recognize a single one of the famous newlyweds, hit-and-run drivers or heroin busts.  Only time I know the name is -- usually at the end of the column -- when they break the news that someone formerly famous and long forgotten has finally died. 

And then, take a phrase like this one, out of a current New Yorker article --
"a circulator to sous-vide the pork belly". I recognize two words there, the last two.

Okay, maybe five words if you include "a", "to" and "the". 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

More Being Old

This blog is supposed to be about Being Old but I keep getting distracted.  So today, to return to our theme, here are the targeted ads in the right-hand column when I signed in to  Facebook this morning:

Mom's Facelift Secret

Faithful Women Wanted   which appears to be a seniors dating site -- who knew?

Aging Skin Care               and

Death With Dignity           that one's a book.

So I wonder:  Are they just after me, or do younger people get the same Special Offers (as Kindle calls them)?

Monday, November 26, 2012


Correction:  Connie e-mails, after trying a comment that failed to post , that "Dungeons and Dragons" was -- is -- not a computer game.  "It was 'Adventure' that we played on the mainframe at Cornell."

Haven't heard that word "mainframe" in some years.  Guess it went the way of "eyeballs" and "floppy."
So last-century.

Fox Redux

Can't resist showing you a better one -- it just got up and started walking around the yard.

Wildlife Adventure

If backyard wildlife doesn’t excite you all that much, you can skip this one, but I just have to share.  I’ve lived in this suburban development for 58 years now, and never before seen what just plopped down for a rest here.  Pictures just taken through a not -very-clean window while sitting at my desk. 

It’s still there.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Birds are Coming!

I used to think that when you were old, They sent an eagle to tear out your vitals.

Now I think it's more like -- what They send is a flock of canaries, one at a time, to peck you to death.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Queen's Earrings Revisited

I owe you an apology for my off-hand statement that Queen Elizabeth has worn the same earrings every day for 40 years.  Should have done some research.  It would appear from these pictures I just ran into (1957 and 1960) that she has worn them and -- while we're at it -- that triple-strand pearl necklace, every day for way more than half a century.  

and this is a woman who owns more jewelry than Elizabeth Taylor ever did.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Ancient Artifact

     All right, children, now this is a floppy disk.  It doesn't look all that floppy but it would be if you took it out of the protective casing.  It is eight inches high, almost twice the size of a CD case, and goes in an eight-inch slot in your Tandy computer.  I don't remember if it would have been compatible with the Commodore, the Thinkpad, the Epson or my $4,500 IBM.  Nor do I remember how many bytes it held, but it was few enough that the number could be expressed in "bytes" -- just tiny naked individual bytes.
     I bought the IBM to serve as a word processor (ugly term).   It  processed words with something called Volkswriter, which I had chosen over something more difficult called WordStar.  Then I would exit the processing program and load a different one to print out what I had written -- that's because the computer couldn't remember two things at one time. 
     All I did was process words for at least five years.  Then my grandchildren visited, bringing more floppies containing  A GAME.  I had heard there were computer games--one of my sons was playing Dungeons and Dragons at midnight on a college machine.  By that time I was on a different computer myself -- they developed fast and we had to buy new ones every so often.  That  first game, Pharaoh's Tomb,was in exciting amber and green!  and a five-year-old  taught me how to play it.
    It was the beginning of the end.  I could have written ten books in the time I've invested in computer games.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What Ever Happened to Eyeballs?

    What ever happened to eyeballs?  Way back--I went on computer in 1983, paid about $4,500 for my IBM and got 64k.  And those were good dollars.  I remember the price of the dot-matrix printer because it was kind of cute: $1,776.
    Anyhow -- in the early days of  the Internet, we used to hear about "eyeballs" -- how many eyeballs a web site was getting.  I always used to wonder whether 300 eyeballs represented 300 viewers or -- think about it -- 150.
    Now I receive daily reports about the number of  pageviews for the blog.  That's obviously one viewer per, but I don't really understand the reports (they're complicated) and above all they don't tell me what I most want to know:  Is anyone reading all this beyond my own family (who know they have to keep up or they'd fail the pop quiz next time they visited) and my own friends (who don't really count)?  Well, yes, you count but you know what I mean.
   What I'd love to know is if, after seven weeks, are any genuine strangers looking in on all this?  If you're a genuine stranger, perhaps you could let me know with a comment, or email to  (Yes, the kids say my address is back in the last century, but I'm not about to change it.)
    If I still had one, I'd take a picture of a one-sided single-density floppy disk to include here.  But at any rate, please, I'd enjoy hearing whether there's anyone out there!

Monday, November 19, 2012


Thought it’d be interesting to make a folder listing everything that’s wrong with me, and just so I wouldn’t miss anything, I’d start at the bottom and work my way up.  Before I got to the right ankle I had six things on the list, which was so discouraging that I quit.
Details upon request; be sure to enclose an SASE.  If you don’t know what an SASE            is—or at any rate was -- you’re too young for this conversation anyhow.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dark Mystery

Living alone – more specifically, cooking alone – naturally leads to attending lots of senior lunches and church suppers.  This past week, they’ve all been turkey dinners, of course.
n      United Methodists, usual plastic gloves on volunteer buffet servers, white meat, the squash had nutmeg in it, cranberries were the superior kind, ground up with orange peel.
n      Senior Center, white meat, trouble cutting it up with those plastic knives, one old guy brought his own knife.
n      JCC, white meat,  no pumpkin pie, apple strudel instead.
n      Trinity Reform Church, platters to pass (does the Health Bureau approve that?), and those platters included dark meat!  They roasted whole turkeys!
So here’s something I’ve been wondering about a long time – what do they do with the dark meat?  Every big association luncheon you attend serves the same thing, right?  Breast of chicken with some sort of sauce (and sometimes stuffed with something), with rice to which something has been done, and chunks of yuppie veggies.

So what about the dark meat? I realize they’re breeding turkeys and chickens these days for big white meat (my mother, who was from Boston, reprimanded us if we ever called it breast meat).  But those birds must walk around, so wouldn’t you think there’d be drumsticks involved?  Or maybe they don’t walk around these days.

Wild turkeys do, at any rate.  This one showed up at the window right in front of my desk last spring..

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Incredible Free Prize p. s.

Don't know when I've been so impressed.  A friend (not up on blog ettiquette yet, don't know if one is supposed to name names? -- maybe initials?)
          S. P. sends a link that shows someone on Espy offering the following:
Wilton Black Cat & Moon Halloween Cupcake Decorations 1985
The yellow plastic moon is 1 3/8" in diameter. The black cats have sculptural detail. The decorations are old stock from a candy store and have not been used. The back is solid yellow with the following embossed - copyright 1985 Wilton, Woodridge, IL 60517, Hong Kong, 2113-4301           $6.50       one only        
So what I want to know is, how on earth did he find them?


Friday, November 16, 2012

Act Now to Receive Free Prize

   Okay, so I fell for the ad and sent for the Jane Austen bandaids.  (Sorry about use of trademark.)  I just had to see them for myself.  They'll be fun to pass around when I speak at the library next January, on the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice.  I'll also be taking the Pride and Prejudice board game, the Pride and Prejudice beach towel,  and the Pride and Prejudice paper dolls.
   But then a friend emailed to remind me that I was entitled to a free prize.  So I pulled the mailing wraps out of the waste basket, and sure enough, here was a ...well, you tell me.

   Hint:  This Free Prize is plastic, if that helps you figure it out.  I'd like to get it into the hands of someone who would treasure it, so it goes to the first person who contacts me, and I'll even pay the postage.