Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Whichever You Prefer

The book has a delightful cover (which is NOT a portrait of  Jane Austen, no matter what the Rice family maintains – but that’s another story) and Barnes and Noble has nicely published this British work, first printed in 1905 – which last bit they don’t exactly lie about, but the date is pretty much hidden at the very end of the jacket blurbs.
There's the 1905.
No mention of 1905.

Fairly good book, actually.  Scholars haven’t discovered much that’s new about Jane Austen in the past century anyhow, and the Edwardian prose style is interesting.  So I get to Chapter Five, which is going to discuss The Six Novels.  The Author begins by criticizing “what purports to be a book” recently published (1905, remember) that summarizes the plots of the novels.  And she compares anyone who’d try to read Austen that way with a lazy diner who would rather gobble – say – hamburger, instead of coping with the challenge of a good rib roast.
Well, what she actually wrote was “…the laziness that prefers hash to joints.”

The phrase did give me pause.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Present is a Different Country

I dressed carefully for the marathon film festival – well, okay, what I did was I wore slacks (perhaps the preferred word is “pants” these days) instead of jeans. That’s what passes for dressing carefully now.  And I went a bit early, to leave time for chatting with friends who’d show up there.  Same expectations for the box lunch that would break the four-hour film.  (It was edited down from a German TV series about five young friends and how they change as they go through World War II.  Gripping.)

So here’s what happened:  the auditorium was completely full -- of people I didn’t know.  So was the supper room.  I never saw a single one of them before.
Come to think of it, who did I expect to see?  Norm is gone.  Jeanette is dead, so’s her husband.  Leon isn’t getting around much at 96.  Ruth is at rehab healing her hip.  Now that Danny died, Jean is moving out of town to be near her daughter.
All the BFFs I ever had ignored the “forever” part.  Esty’s gone, so is Dottie, and Betty, and Hilda, and Muriel. (It’s pleasant to type their names, though.)
Sitting there, I was struck with an odd feeling from so long ago, when I was a kid during the Depression and we moved around so often. It’s a weird sensation and I’d forgotten it. In that auditorium and at the supper tables, I was invisible.
I was a stranger.  I came from out of town, from a far country.  And the place where I came from is called Old Age.


Friday, September 19, 2014

First Money I Ever Earned

     In 1938, at the height of the Depression –  for our family the depths -- we were, as my mother used to say dramatically “two weeks away from [applying for] Relief”.  And then my father finally got a job again ! !  as superintendent of a clothing factory that was the largest employer in a little Upstate New York village.
     Daddy had seen the world – orphaned at 10, he bummed around the Northeast from one older sister’s home to another, in cities like Montreal, Boston, Buffalo, New York, Portland.  But the rest of us had always remained in a tight-knit city circle of relatives.  I had 21 first cousins in the Boston area.
     So that summer we were suddenly cast out into the wilderness.  We rented the back half of a Victorian mansion next to the Catholic church.  And the landlord’s son greeted me with “Want to go picking?”   Rready for anything, I said “Sure.”
     Early next morning, a big farm truck pulled up in the driveway.  My new friend (could his name have been Wilbur?) helped me climb in back and hang on to the wooden slats that formed the side walls, as the truck racketed around the village picking up kids.
     Half an hour later we pulled into the lane at the Fullager farm and jumped down.  I was equipped with a wooden quart basket that tied around my waist and another empty basket that fit into it.  Then, as the sun beat down, we were turned loose in the raspberry patch.  Homer’s son patrolled the rows, collecting full baskets and punching holes in the cardboard tags we wore on strings around our necks.      More than three-quarters of a century later, I still have my tag.  On the back is Mrs. Fullager's reckoning at the end of the day?  end of the week?  end of the harvest?  I think it was 53 quarts at 3 cents each, and 8 quarts at 4 cents.  Black raspberries paid more, because they scratched your hands. At any rate, it came to $1.91.  First money I ever earned.  It looked like a lot to me -- and it was.  Buying equivalent today (I just looked it up) $32.22.  Not bad for a 12-year-old's first job. 

     When the raspberry harvest was in, before the truck took us home one last time, Mrs. Fullager invited all of us into her big sunny kitchen, and treated us to – well, I remember two kinds of cake, and there must have been lemonade.  Years later, in more than one British movie, I saw rousing scenes of the traditional Harvest Home Celebration a Landlord would host for his workers.  I’ll bet her hospitality was a direct echo of that. 

Down but Up to Date

Fully certified by the Green Burial Council!
At the OASIS senior center I recently finished a four-session course? -- workshop? -- seminar? (I dislike that latter term) -- at any rate, it was about Cemeteries and was more fascinating than you might imagine.  We ended up with a bit about the latest movement, which is known as  Green Burial.  It omits lots of traditional funeral stuff, including memorial stones.  So what if you want to find Grampa's last resting place and commune with him for a bit?   That's easy -- you will have his
                                                    GPS co-ordinates.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Company Again

Just realized I haven't posted in more than a week -- as you might have guessed, company again.  Don't touch that dial! -- we'll be right back.  Ever notice that when they say "we'll be right back" they won't?   That's when you're in for a flock of commercials.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Delightful Title

In today's mail, the fall calendar from a local hospice organization.  They offer courses on topics like Tai Chi for Parkinson's, 100 Days to Successful Aging, Wisdom Practicum Discussion and Senior Pilates. The class I just have to tell you about, though, is about pre-planning one's funeral ("...legal issues...price guides for five different plans...")  It's offered by the non-profit Funeral Consumers Alliance, founded 1957.  Class meets for just one session, tuition cost is $6, and it meets on -- oh heck, September 5.  That was yesterday, so we both missed it.  But the best part, anyhow, was the course title:
Shop Before You Drop

Monday, September 1, 2014

Cirque de Sole

     This may be the first time I've needed to tell you about something from the morning newspaper --  forgive me, but it's a real Hey-Doris! item and I have nobody else to yell "Did you see this!" to.
     It seems that hundreds of Sneakerheads paid $20 each to attend a convention here yesterday -- the Cirque de Sole.  While some limited edition sneakers sell for a few hundred dollars each, it's evidently the after-market that really counts.  Yesterday here, one collector paid $2,500 for some sneakers ("trainers", to you Canadians), and another rejected $6,000 for a pair of Nike Air Jordans made for the rapper Drake.  One organizer described the subculture as "the intersection of collectibles and fashion."
     Don't know why I'm so surprised.  A few years ago here, I was looking on the Internet for an illustration to go with my memory of wearing shoes fastened with a buttonhook (also associated in whispers with abortions back then) -- and I ran into a thriving Buttonhook Society, with meetings, conventions, display case exhibitions...clearly there's an organization for just about any obsession you can imagine.
     That set me to wondering about the possible value of my son's tattered Converse hi-tops, circa 1967, that hang on that nail by the furnace.  But when I went to take a picture for you, I discovered to my horror that the nail is empty!  Someone must have stolen those, somewhere over the years.  I'll bet they've been smuggled out of the country.  They'll probably show up at a convention in Zurich next year, priced at who knows how many thousands of euros.

This would have been BEFORE -- and I'll never be able to show you AFTER.