Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gift for Grandma

Public service:  I’m solving your “what do we get for Grandmother?” problem.  If the old lady uses a cane, you’re all set.  Canes Can Be Fun! and they don’t cost all that much.  I’ve just gone out and bought two more. They’re the right-hand ones in this picture.
Some of you may remember that when I first corralled my canes for a group photo, the black one was missing.  Never did find it, must have left it somewhere.  But on the rare occasions when I dress up, nothing except black seems elegant enough.  For further class, I ordered  it as this sort-of-British-royalty walking stick.  It’s a disappointment.  With no crook it’s difficult to prop up when I get where I’m going, or when I need to use my hands.  Don’t get Grandma a walking stick.  
I make no apology for the other new one.  If you could see it, even you couldn’t resist genuine bamboo, and it’s in a delightful shade of green. 
So what would I recommend for your Grandmother?  As I wrote before, the bright purple one elicits the most comments, so that might be a good place to start.  Little old ladies are supposed to love purple, just as pre-teens do.
While I was wondering whether it was ethical to give you the name of that company I like, I typed in “FashionableCanes.com” and lo and behold!  Out of all their hundreds of canes, the one right there on the home page as the Deal of the Day turns out to be --

Deal of the Day

Vivid Purple Derby Walking Cane With Ash Wood Shaft and Silver Collar

                        $30.56 (You Save $3.40!)

Talk about coincidence!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Intimations of Mortality

So I woke up feeling really rotten, which is unusual. Thought maybe it was a heart attack (I didn’t have chest pain with the other ones, so who knows?) Decided it probably wasn’t, and lay there thinking about death. I don’t have any trouble with the thought – these are bonus years anyhow – really good years, but just bonus. And if I died today, I wouldn’t have to clean out the frig to get ready for Thanksgiving; that’d be a plus.  Found myself thinking that dying may well be an interesting experience.   But how frustrating that I wouldn’t be able to write about it afterwards.
Only illustration I could find.

So I quit thinking and got out of bed.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Menu Excerpt

This from the menu at last Saturday night's excellent restaurant.
I was hoping to show you a photo of some chicken breasts ranging freely, but I can't seem to find one.  You'll have to picture it for yourself. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hey, Doris!

The problem is that I live alone – so  I have no one to share with but you when I hit a Hey Doris!.  That,  according to my son the newspaperman, is what one calls the kind of news story that causes the reader to rattle the paper and call out “Hey, Doris – listen to this!”
What I just ran across is not a newspaper article but a  catalog item I absolutely must share,  and there's no one but you to yell to. 
So -- Hey, Doris -- look at this one!  For a reverent way to celebrate the Nativity, buy some stockings for your chair's legs.  

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Lost Illusion

Spoiler Alert -- Maybe you shouldn’t read this.
One of the worst things Anna ever did for me:  my actress daughter mentioned that when movies shoot scenes in public places, they often get permission to block off traffic in the early morning hours, before things get busy. Those aren't sunset shadows -- that baseball shot must have been taken around 7 a.m.
Or take that great movie Mystic River.  One of its strong points is that it was shot on location in East Boston, taking over a whole block of Boston three-deckers and bay-window-front houses.  There’s an authentic atmosphere to the streets, the cramped house fronts, the crowded interiors, the bars.  And yet –
Once you’ve heard that bit of information from Anna, it gets a little harder to lose yourself in the story, because you can’t help noticing:  was the boys’ friend really abducted soon after dawn, with the glare of early-morning sun  way in the background?  Did the cop really arrive just an hour later? 

The girl’s first communion is supposedly just over, so why are her parents standing outside with the rising sun in their eyes?  And it looks like Jimmy got up at dawn to pick out that tombstone.

How come Dave and his son are already returning from a Little League game at that hour of the morning?  And in the ironically cheerful parade that ends the picture -- come on -- those shadows are the giveaway.
Hard to ignore once you're aware of it -- does break the illusion.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Shlock and Sillyness

I did think I'd seen the worst when a catalog offered Pride and Prejudice salt-and-pepper shakers in the form of Elizabeth and Darcy. 

Today, though, a different company says that for just $7.00 (plus s&h) I can become the proud possessor of a kit containing 22 assorted Jane Austen temporary tattoos.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Eleven Eleven Eleven

In the 1930s this was known as Armistice Day, and our parents and teachers still had vivid memories of the day in 1918 that ended the nightmare of the Great War -- on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, at eleven a.m.
We didn't get the day off, and I remember the bells in the hall started clanging at 11 o'clock.  We stood beside our desks facing the flag, heads bowed, for two minutes of silence.
Then again I remember being out on a sidewalk once – must have been a Saturday -- when church bells started ringing and factory whistles blared.  Cars pulled over, a trolley stopped in the middle of the street, everything went quiet, men took off their hats and held them to their hearts for a full two minutes, then everything started up again.
And a few years ago, visiting in Canada, I was in a gathering in a suburb of Vancouver, standing silent in the rain under a group of umbrellas, as two squadrons of single-engine WWII  planes flew under the  clouds on Remembrance Day.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Generation Gap

Anna knows I like spaetzle --I have upon occasion made myself one egg’s worth for breakfast-- so she emails me an article about spaetzle from Wednesday’s New York Times. 
Their recipe is almost identical to the one in my 1964 Joy of Cooking.  The only difference is that my recipe doesn’t include the caraway seeds, the cabbage, the leeks, the garlic cloves, the chile flakes, the thyme branch, the apple cider vinegar, the rye flour, the whole milk, the Gruyere or the Emmenthaler cheese. 

I do, however, sneak in a pinch of nutmeg.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Election Day

Beautiful sunny day.  Amy and I drove out to Mt. Hope, the Victorian cemetery laid out by Frederick Law Olmstead, to visit the grave.  Found it covered with memorial stones and pebbles; someone had planted two new flags.  Amy left flowers (ribbon is lavender because that was the suffragette's color).

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Acronym in Progress

Today, back to the ostensible subject of this blog: being old.
I’m about to tape a checklist to the door that leads to the garage.  Otherwise, I get out to the car and find I’ve brought the wrong set of keys.  This entails a moderately painful get out of the car, unlock that door, fetch the right keys (forget to put the others back where they should go), moderately painful get back in the car.
Or I’m half-way down the driveway and realize I forgot the driving glasses.  (See remedial routine above.)  Or get all the way to the corner before I remember the cell phone (suppose I needed to call 911?).  Or arrive at the doctor’s office without the hearing aids.  Or get the only slot way back in a parking lot and discover I have no cane.  Or arrive at the checkout counter without my wallet.
Airline pilots and – these days – surgeons, use checklists to avoid mistakes, but come to think of it, perhaps I could manage with just an acronym.  I understand they’re routine in med school for things like memorizing the bones in the foot – and many of them are unprintable.  Easy to remember, impossible to forget.
 I can still see my mother standing at the kitchen sink, one day in 1934, telling me how to remember the names of the Great Lakes – HOMES.
And a couple of years before that, cousin Betty giving me my first piano lesson – those lines signify Every Good Boy Doth Finely.  Second thing you learned  – the first was the location of  Middle C -- right?

So what can I do with Keys, Wallet, Hearing aids, Glasses, Cane, Cell phone?
Distinct shortage of vowels there.  What if I make it Eyeglasses and Hearing Aids?
Wouldn’t you think an E would be simple to fit in?  And that extra C is still a problem.  Maybe I can just call it Phone.
Well, work in progress.  At least I don't have to worry about mislaying my purse.  I don't use 'em.