Saturday, December 27, 2014

Traveling Much in Rochester

     "I have traveled much," says Thoreau, "in Concord."  And it seems I'm traveling much right now, simply sitting in this desk chair.  Just now, a couple of days after I posted about my skype visits in New York and California, Ben calls again from Los Angeles.  It's the first time I've ever had anyone Skype from outdoors (can one do it from a cell phone?)  and I'm in a position to report there's blue sky in LA right now, and lots of sunshine. 
     They're at the weekly soccer game.  I watch Nathan kicking the ball manfully, I'm introduced as "my grandmother" to Ben's teammate Freddy, and I see half a dozen spectators on the bench.  This morning those include Freddy's visiting father, the Queen's first cousin Prince Michael. 
      I didn't take a picture of the bench, so I'll show you instead one of Freddy's father with some of his other relatives.


Friday, December 26, 2014

Register for the draft before your 18th birthday.

Still almost all women, few men back from the war yet.
In yesterday's obituaries, a 91-year-old woman about whom it says she graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Syracuse University School of Journalism in 1944 and “was editor of the school paper, the Daily Orange.”  I find myself offended by “school paper”, which somehow trivializes that impressive publication.  Besides, I don’t recognize her name,  though I was already working on that newspaper by 1944.  I’ll bet she was simply a junior editor.  I was that myself, never mind the cum laude and Phi Bete, and I’ll bet my kids would never think of putting any of that in my death notice.  But she had no children.  I wonder if she wrote the obit herself.  These days I not only read the obits, I find myself looking at the list of survivors and trying to picture the person who wrote the notice.

I am reminded of the morning after my sister Esther died.  I had taken over  a proposed obit.  Cousin Betty came in (with a casserole of course) and I was just telling her how complicated it was, trying to get the job done in a house full of writers, when Martha came over, gave me a worried look, and said “I don’t want to interrupt, Aunt Edith, but why did you use a semi-colon here instead of a comma?”

Monday, December 22, 2014

Coast to Coast

I think of my grandparents, who left for America knowing they were cutting themselves off forever -- they'd never see their parents again, never hear their voices.  And now -- look what happened just yesterday.  In the morning Ben skyped from Los Angeles, whole family, Nathan wanted me to show him some snow. 

 And in the evening, someone set up a laptop and I was there in Manhattan, watching Dov and Connie arrive from Vancouver, joining in the brochas over the candles (that's the picture I should have taken; it was lovely) and then virtually (meaning of that word has changed btw) sitting at the dinner table.

  The conversation was a lot more lively than this snap of my screen looks (I show up as the ghostly bit up in the corner.)  The kids will take all this for granted, but I'll never cease being amazed at what a world we live in.  No problem that I couldn't actually eat -- I don't really like latkes anyhow.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Exciting Adventure!

My winter coat had a loose button this morning, and it needed tightening.  It needed mending -- and that's when I realized it's been a great many years since I've even sewed on a button.  The process was downright exciting, opening that jumbled drawer with all those spools of thread, and the cute little scissors, and yes, a thimble.  Even a pincushion.  If you'd asked me, did I own a pincushion, I wouldn't have known.  But I do, I do!
Hard to believe, but long ago I used all that stuff -- to sew merit badges on boy scout sashes, to hem something we bought one size too big so (s)he could grow into it.  The whole exercise triggered a trip into the way way past.  Today I wasn't sure I'd be able to thread the needle, but I did! I could!
I still can!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Melmac Memories

How could I have forgotten?  Story in the current New Yorker brings back memories –  1950s,  house full of boomer babies,  and in the kitchen – MELMAC !!  We were so lucky to live in exciting modern times, when you could actually buy sturdy colorful dishes that the kids couldn’t break!

In a web site for Melmac collectors (yes, of course there are Melmac collectors) I just found this -- it looks almost like what we bought 60 years ago -- but we had tumblers as well, and I think we bought two sets.  Our neighbors did the same,  and then we cleverly swapped.  They took all the yellow and orange ones, we took the turquoise and grey.  Hard to believe I felt good about that, but I did.

As the years went on and the kids got older, eating off dull turquoise plates – and drinking from grey 'glasses' -- lost its appeal.  We replaced it with blue-and-white Johnson Brothers china, and I gave the Melmac set, still intact, to -- ???  Maybe to my sister?   At any rate, I do recall that whoever had it next complained to me one day that the damn stuff wouldn’t break.  

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Not a post -- just an update.  Definitely snowbound.  But I don't need to go anywhere anyhow, and for your viewing pleasure, here are a couple of birds that just stopped at the feeders by my desk window.   

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

So We Need Help

So I start reading this review of "So We Read On" and then I decide to save it instead -- it'll be more interesting if I read the book first. 

So I get the book from the library, start to read it and then decide to save it instead -- it'll be more interesting if I go back and re-read "The Great Gatsby" first.
But it seems there's no longer a copy of Gatsby in this house, so I find it on the Internet.  The University in Adelaide opines that it's no longer copyrighted in Australia, and their screen is most attractive.
But my back hurts sitting at the desk.  It'd be great to finish the remaining chapters lying down. 
So I dig out the Kindle I haven't opened in a year or two.  But I've forgotten how to download onto the Kindle. 
I already have the novel on my desk computer...or am I just signing on to that web site when I read?  How do I get the novel on to the Kindle? 
Someone's attention to this matter would be greatly appreciated. 
Then I could go back and read the library book. Then I could go back and read the review. 
          Which is where we started. 
          Thanking you in advance, 
                               I remain.

Friday, December 5, 2014

L'Avant-Midi d'Une Old Lady

Wake early as usual, turn off security system and bring in newspaper – for what it’s worth.  It weighs four ounces these days.

Not-quite-breakfast: apple and a chunk of cheese. 

Back to bed, read paper.

Turn on bedroom tv and the movie is the Romeo and Juliet that Zefferelli made in the 1960s.


Immediate memory of Dottie, BF (we bought houses next door to each other) but sadly, not F.  They saw that movie before we did, and I can still remember her report:

“The theatre was full of 14-year-old girls and they were all crying.  I was crying too and hoping that somehow it would have a different ending this time.”

Roger Tory Peterson signed our bird books!


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Is Nowhere Safe?

I thought it a bit excessive when the Chevy I bought last February received its third recall this year.  But it seems danger lurks everywhere -- this just in:  
Greetings from
We have learned of a potential issue regarding certain product(s) that our records indicate you purchased through the website:

Screaming Meanie Timer and Alarm Clock with 120 dB Alarm - assorted colors
For more details on what you should do, please contact Pacific Cornetta at
If you purchased this item for someone else, please notify the recipient immediately and provide them with the information concerning these issues.
We regret any inconvenience this may cause you but trust you will understand that the safety and satisfaction of our customers is our highest priority.
Thanks for shopping at

Some of my Thanksgiving visitors took that alarm clock (still in original package) because their son has trouble waking up. This is terrible!!  What if something horrible happens to my grandson and it's all my fault for buying that Screaming Meanie???!!!  As Amazon cautions: please notify the recipient immediately and provide them with the information  I won't rest until  you GET IN TOUCH WITH SIMON AND WARN HIM!!!

Good thing they went home by train.  At an airport they might have been arrested for trying to hijack a plane with an alarm clock. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Things Change

We're back-and-forthing via email (family coming from Los Angeles, Scotland, Milwaukee, Manhattan, Boston)  to plan Thanksgiving dinner.  My query about whether the shopping list should call for whole squash or packages of cut-up chunks brings this response, from someone I still regard as one of the young women: 
It annoys me to pay people to cut up is just not that hard to do.
I'd like to think I felt that way at her age, but I can't remember.  At any rate -- these days I'm the exact opposite of annoyed.  Almost anything is indeed that hard to do, and I'm delighted if I can find someone else to do it.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Edith and the Perfectly Fine, Warm and Toasty Copacetic Week

Sorry, keep forgetting to give you an update.  This is a much better week.  Both cars are  now in running order (okay, the one outside is encased in ice, but if it ever thaws I believe it'll work just fine.)   I'm wearing two perfectly good hearing aids.  I have not had a stroke.  We did not get all that snow, just a pretty coating.   I looked at my face in the mirror and wondered why on earth I thought a few new blemishes would even be noticed in among all the rest of the wear and tear.  (No illustration available.) 
Everything is copacetic.  If you're too young for that word,  you can look it up.  Wikipedia lists five possible etymologies, "all of which lack supporting evidence."  But it describes this week.
North Americaninformal
adjective: copacetic; adjective: copasetic
  1. in excellent order.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Edith and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

 Edith and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

Actually, I’m perfectly cheerful.  Wotthehell !  But you know – I'd love to list everything that’s happened since Monday. And this blog is, after all, supposed to be about Being Old.  So
* First thing Monday morning, the white electric car wouldn’t start.  Lots of back-and-forthing with the service department and it’s still dead five days later.
* Monday --  Doctor said yes, as I suspected, I'd had a TIA mini-stroke (no illustration.)
* Backed little yellow car into post while leaving doctor’s parking lot (you don’t want to see that rear end.) Won’t be able to have scrapes fixed till electric car useable. (see above)
* Googled TIA on Internet, where first four sites all said “one in three go on to have a stroke” – one site added helpfully “within a year.”  Decided not to look at any more sites.
* At audiologist's, ldropped off  right hearing aid to be sent out for repair.
* At dermatologist's (see below) discovered left hearing aid had fallen out somewhere.  Conversation muffled.
* Called audiologist and heard with difficulty over the phone that hearing aid insurance recently expired.
* At library, was told I never returned that book I cannot find.  Also owed $9.35 overdue charges.
* At dentist’s office told appointment no good, protocol changed yet again, must prepare with antibiotics (re old hip replacement), pick up prescription, come back next week.
* Had not one but two of those migraine auras or whatever you call them.  They’re not all that irritating but they make this list more impressive so I’m including them.
* Friday, today,  had three pre-cancerous thingies removed from face.  Will I look human by Thanksgiving? ( latest count is 21 for dinner.)
* Yesterday suddenly couldn’t breathe, throat abruptly closed up, first laryngeal spasm I've had since the summer.  As usual, thought I was going to die.  As usual, didn’t.
* So that was good.  And it’s only Friday.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Unsolved Mystery

I arrived at the Crab Shack in Henrietta (Hta?) at ten to six, nd parked next to a shiny red Chevy Spark.  This is worth mention, as my little car is evidently no big seller – I think that’s only the fifth Spark I’ve seen since I bought mine in February.
The pleasant girls at the reception desk had only one six o’clock reservation – for 18 persons, pharmaceutical company gathering, so I settled down on a couch near their desk and watched the passing scene.  Not a face I recognized.  Not a clue. 
At ten after six I ordered take-out clams, which came after ten more minutes, and I left at twenty after six.  (If I remember right, you had to give a full professor twenty minutes?)
Sixteen dollars brought one of the smallest orders of fried clams I’ve ever seen.  I’m not sure the chef could get a job in Maine, but maybe it’s just that things no longer taste the way I remember.  They were indeed whole clams, though, soft-bellied, with a whiff of the sea when you bit into them.  Wish I’d thought to take a picture when they arrived so you could share the whole experience, but I hadn’t had any supper and I’m afraid I drove home one-handed.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Crab Suspense

Okay, gang -- the day we've all been waiting for.  This evening at 6 pm I go to the Crab Shack in Henrietta, in response to a cryptic note on my calendar that says 
6 Hta Crab Shack
or maybe that's not what it says.  Those of you who commented didn't seem to think so.
By this time tomorrow it will be over.  We may know all.  Or we may not.
I looked up the menu -- you can't read it, but it lists fried clams.  I kind of doubt that.  I don't think there's anything but clam strips once you get west of Albany.
So exciting!  Suspense all round.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Stock Tip

Last winter, when the land was full of snowbanks and driving Norm's car felt like piloting an ocean liner, I traded it in on the smallest four-door sold.  I know it doesn't look it,  but that's a four-door -- and it comes in yellow!

I just received my third recall notice -- that's one every three months. 
They write that this is General Motors recall 14456.  That's the zip code for Geneva, about 30 miles from here. 
They're definitely running scared.
          If you have GM stock, my considered advice is -- SELL!  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Peaceable Kingdom

As we speak, three stags lying around in the backyard -- pictures just taken from my desk.  They won't be this amicable in the spring, that's for sure.


I'll be grateful if anyone reading this can tell me why I've written "6 (if that is a 6) Hta Crab Shack" on the calendar for a week from today. 
Yes, it'll be Julie's birthday.  
The Sage Rutty I understand.
The M-J  I'm going to skip and it's just as well if you don't know what it is. 
But do you think I should go to the Crab Shack in Henrietta (next town over) at six next Wednesday evening?
And stand by the entrance? 
And see what happens? 
If anything?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Thank you Ma'am.

Amy reports that, yellow being the suffragette's color,  she took a yellow rose to Susan B. Anthony's grave this morning.  People had already been there, leaving two pots of roses, a stone with a ribbon on it, 27 assorted pebbles, and -- as we did last year at this time -- an I VOTED TODAY sticker.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Something to Look Forward to

You may want to calculate your own life expectancy, as I just did, on this web site.  I don't remember now where I found the address, but it must have been somewhere reliable. has evidently been discussed in a number of places I see regularly, including CNN, ABC news, USAToday and the like.  It uses the latest studies to predict one's probable lifespan.
I answered 40 questions, and it was clear the answers had relevance to life expectancy:  they asked of course about cigarette and alcohol use, but then also probed family health records, diet, exercise, stress levels, work load and the like. 

You may recall that I started this blog, 86andholding, more than two years ago.  Now I'm in my PIANO year (think about it.) So I'm eager to share with you the good news I just received from this computerized state-of-the-art analysis:

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Day in the Life

     This blog was supposed to be about Being Old, and today it is.  Looking back, I realize it has been a Senior Day All the Way.
     Morning -- Elder Law Fair, sponsored by half a dozen organizations including the County Bar Association.  The flyer promised it would start with Refreshments at 8:30 -- alas! nothing set out but coffee urns and hot water for tea.  You know the drill  -- the usual opportunity to cruise exhibitors' tables and pick up imprinted pens, key chains, and wrapped candy, all of which went into a bright red tote bag from the AARP. 
  I breakfasted on tea and kisses.  Sounds like a song title.
    The first lawyer who spoke said he preferred the phrase Seasoned Citizens, which he then used  throughout his presentation.  Maybe I'm the only one of several hundred attendees who found that somehow patronizing?  as if Senior was a bad word?  I did pick up a few facts, though -- did you know Americans aged 85 and older constitute less than two percent of the population?  I realize there's no particular merit in simply breathing for a long time,  but it doesn't take much these days to make me feel special.
Retired Teachers
Autumn Leaves
     After a couple of breakout sessions, I left for the town's weekly Senior Lunch, where after the meal we had a concert of Fall Music sung by -- it does seem to be the theme of the day --  the Retired Teachers Chorus.  Music now strikes my ears as painful cacaphony, so I scuttled out after their first number, which was the appropriate Autumn Leaves.  
     Then in the afternoon -- I swear this was all coincidence -- I had an appointment at a local non-profit called Lifespan.  My health insurer is discontinuing the fine prescription drug coverage it's been offering -- well, it was somewhat fine.  I have fallen into the Donut Hole
Donut Hole
and trust me, that's quite a shock.  I've been at sea, trying to find the right new insurer for stand-alone  Part D -- spent hours on the Internet, studied formularies -- imagine learning  a new word at my age --  and finally gave up in frustration.

     That Lifespan appointment turned out to be with a woman who took courses and passed an exam to be certified as a Medicare Counselor or whatever they call it.  She said there's at least one available in every county, free.  She typed my meds into just the right screen, hit keys to research things I hadn't even considered  -- would I save money buying online? -- did any insurer have special arrangements with pharmacies in my zip code? -- and came up with exactly the right company (four stars out of five in consumer satisfaction, too.)
     Best of all, when I said I wouldn't be able to enroll over the phone and was stressed out by the Internet, she offered to do it for me.  She spent another half-hour on the phone -- even she found it frustrating.  But at least she could hear what they were saying on the other end.  And I'm all set!
     You've got to work at Being Old.

Friday, October 24, 2014

My Musical Career

      In 1936, during the Depression,  I was having trouble in school and my mother was called to the Principal’s Office.  I believe the problem was “talking too much” – probably disruptive in class, perhaps because I was only 10 years old in the 7th grade.  We’d moved around a lot, doubling up with relatives as Daddy’s employers went out of business one after another.  I’d  go from a progressive school to a backward one and be “skipped” a grade.  They did that in those days.
     The principal suggested therapy -- it must have been free -- at the Judge Baker Foundation in Boston.  They evidently recommended “enrichment”, for I suddenly found myself joining the Girl Scouts, attending camp (on scholarship), and taking free clarinet lessons at school.
     A few years ago, my friend Mary wrote on her impressive University letterhead to the Foundation and secured the transcripts of my interviews.  Reading them over, I was surprised to see that The Depression was like another member of our family.  A clarinet reed cost 25 cents, the instruction book cost 25 cents, and the family was discussing – which should we buy first?
     The school lent me an instrument that was antique even for those days – a one-piece metal clarinet.  I could join the junior high band as soon as I’d memorized the third clarinet part to “Military Escort” – I remember it to this day.
     But what I started out to tell you was that my clarinet teacher told me he’d been playing in the band at the PanAmerican Exposition in Buffalo when President McKinley was shot.  I had a vague feeling that meant he was extremely old.  Recently figured he might have been in his 20s that day in Buffalo, in his 50s when he told me – younger than any of my kids are right now.
     Some years ago I joined a seniors ensemble sponsored by the Eastman School of Music, a group eventually named the  New Horizons Band.  That  always sounded to me like a drug re-hab group --  I had proposed The Grateful Living.  Anyhow -- some years after that I found my embouchure was going the way of all the other muscles, back hurt sitting in rehearsal, hearing was threatened by the trumpets, and brain started hearing music as jumbled cacophony.
      End of my musical career.  My clarinets ended up on eBay, all but one -- my granddaughter has it in Vancouver.  She didn't need a teacher -- you can learn an instrument these days just by watching YouTube.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Today's Fun

As I may have mentioned, I’m clearing out old papers, and a couple of weeks ago I found this 1876 document.  No idea when or how it came into my possession but I know why I kept it – it’s about a mortgage loan between
                                      DARIUS PALMER
and – here’s where it gets really delightful –
                               COLUMBUS LOVELY.
Also enjoyable -- that semi-literate addendum extending the loan.  It contrasts nicely with the law clerk’s more polished wording and penmanship but I guess it got the job done.
There is, of course, no reason to hold on to this but I couldn’t bear to throw it out, so I posted it on eBay ten days ago.  As the folded document fits nicely in a one-stamp envelope, I even offered Free Shipping. 
       There was just one bid, there’s just one person in the world who wants this, and today they found him !!   He lives in Levittown, PA. 
       My Paypal account (so handy for Internet shopping) is all of $5 richer.  And -- over the years I’ve had a few interesting chats with eBay buyers, so I emailed this guy to ask if he is by any chance a banker or lawyer who might want to frame this and display it.
       If you’re not using eBay, you’re missing some fun and games.  Trust me – it’s user-friendly.  If I figured it out you can too.  I never even had to consult a grandchild.