Monday, November 6, 2017

Hair

Thought I was through with blogging, but this hair thing has been obsessing me so -- yes, I know it's irrational  but maybe talking about it to you will help me let go of the irritation.  

How come I only noticed a few weeks ago? How long has this been going on?  Did the Pope recently issue an edict saying you can't anchor a cable tv network unless your hair is below your shoulders...you can't make a commercial for this year's automobile unless your hair is long and almost -- but not quite entirely -- straight?

  Women are ironing their hair again?...we might as well be back in the '80s.  
And what's the word I'm trying to remember (I once heard that the nouns are the first to go, and that's true) -- aha!  extensions!  That's the word!  I've been dealing with hair for more than nine decades now, and I happen to know it takes at least a couple of years to grow hair down to your shoulders, so we're talking hair extensions, right?  or did everyone on TV suddenly decide to wear wigs?  I can't tell just looking at them -- what do you think?
Maybe I haven't been paying enough attention. Maybe it's been happening over a period of a few years and I just never noticed? 

And why does this whole thing irritate me so?

Monday, October 2, 2017

I see by today's paper that Si Newhouse Jr. has died.

Sometime around 1945 I found myself sitting next to this freshman at the typewriter lab in the journalism school at Syracuse.  Evidently trying to impress the kid with how the school would make him a professional, I bragged that I'd spent the past summer at the Penn Yan Chronicle-Express -- to which this freshman responded that he'd spent it as a reporter on his father's Staten Island Advance.

Which, come to think of it, was the paper for which a generation later my son Avi Lank covered some good stories at one point...

Monday, September 11, 2017

Proud Moment

     In the 1940s during The War, I had a summer job as county correspondent for the Rochester daily newspapers.  Typed each story (double-spaced, one side only) twice with different lead paragraphs, kept carbon copies (remember carbons?) and took my offerings to the 3 o'clock Greyhound bus for the 50-mile trip to the city.
     I was instructed to clip my stories if they appeared in the fat State editions of those dailies, paste them up (minus headlines, alas) in a long roll, and every week measure that roll with a long string. As a stringer (it would be years before I ever heard the word "free-lancer") I was paid --could it have been ten cents? --per column inch.
     It occurs to me only now -- why the string?  Why not just take the tape measure to that roll of clippings in the first place?  Did I mail in that string or something?-- can't remember.
     So just now, more than 70 years later, I googled "stringer" to see if I'd remembered right, and yes, there was the word.   But when Wikipedia started to discuss the etymology of "stringer" it appeared nobody knows where the term came from. The possibility that stringers were considered second-string journalists was offered.  There was no mention of  measuring one's clippings with string.
     So I typed in my contribution.  First time I ever did that, ridiculously easy, and there it stands on Wikipedia!
     I've forgotten so many things -- but I remember exactly where I was standing the day in August 1944 when I phoned (long-distance !! in the middle of the day !! before the rates changed !!) to tell the State Editor that I'd be leaving to return to college.
     Just one telephone in our house, on a party line (our ring was one long one short) -- and as I stood there in the kitchen that unknown Editor said -- I've forgotten a lot now but I remember his seven words exactly -- 
    "It's been a pleasure receiving your copy."

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

No Longer Heard

Cleaning out a desk drawer, I find three pieces of scrap paper -- 
and I can't take a picture to show you because my camera is no longer working. 
I don't feel capable of learning to use a new one. 
My cell phone is a dumbphone -- if there's a way to take pictures with it and transmit them to you I don't know how and I no longer feel capable etc.
Maybe I can find a vintage Canon SD1100 IS on ebay -- stay tuned. Meanwhile, here with no illustration to dress up the post is what it says on those pieces of scrap paper.  What do you suppose I was intending to write?

rumble seat
Sue Barton, Student Nurse
Dionne quintuplets
hand signals
house dresses
Dutch bob
matching panties
double dutch
popsicle stick "free"
Red Fairy Book
Shirley Temple paper dolls
tire blowout
dry cereal
floor wax
matching panties
penny candy
bathing cap
tourist cabin
mastoid
root beer barrels
candy cigarettes
diptheria

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Profitable Hobbies

Yesterday I found a box of old letters Norm had saved from the few years before we were married.  He job-hunting; I putting myself through college (one could do it in those days) and freelancing articles to magazines.  I wrote “I just finished re-typing that article about you.  It’s not bad and I think it’ll sell – it’s about 2,000 words.” 
Well, I evidently did find a market for it, and the magazine may have paid something like a penny a word.  Twenty dollars would have been a lot of money in those days. 
That was a long time ago and I forgot the whole thing.
     Fast forward SEVENTY YEARS.
I get a phone call from a woman who lives one suburb over. She’s been reading the November 1947 issue of a magazine called Profitable Hobbies, and she finds an article about a Norman Lank who tape-records festivities like weddings and bar mitzvas.  There’s a picture of the young man, with his impressive huge recording machine. And the byline on the story reads Edith Handleman.  
“So,” she says, “Norman Lank had a real estate company here, and Edith Lank writes that column in the Rochester paper so I wondered…”

Which left me wondering how on earth she happened, 70 years on, to be reading the November 1947 issue of a magazine called Profitable Hobbies. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Past is a Different Country

     Well, I got down the cardboard box with the letters Norm had saved, from 1946 -- my senior year at college.  I was writing during class, which was held in a Quonset Hut.   Over the summer, the war just over, and the GI Bill promising to pay tuition and living expenses, Syracuse had promised to admit every returning veteran who applied.  Over the summer, enrollment had gone from 10,000 to 20,000 --
     hence the Quonset Huts.  I wrote that the side near the coal stove was warm, and I was wearing a mitten on the other hand.  
     There were men in class!  Not even boys -- men back from the South Pacific, from Europe, from the Battle of the Bulge -- and here's what I wrote --
     "The smoke in here is pretty thick -- seven cigarettes, one cigar and two pipes all going at once."
     The past certainly is a different country.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Can You Believe


Ran across this booklet in a bottom drawer -- I'd forgotten all about it.
In 1946 -- I seem to remember I was home for some school vacation -- I was contacted LONG-DISTANCE by the DEAN OF WOMEN -- would I, she asked, be interested in copy-editing and updating the (women's)
RULES AND REGULATIONS OF SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY?
I was so impressed to be speaking with that august individual -- in the daytime! before the rates changed! --  so flattered to be asked, that it never occurred to me to ask if there was any payment involved -- so there wasn't.
Of course I did the job, and in time for reprinting before the freshmen arrived that September.  Syracuse's Chancellor had promised to take any veteran who applied, and over the summer the student body went from 10,000 (mostly women) to 20,000.  Those new students were fresh from at Iwo Jima , the Battle of the Bulge,  the liberation of Auschwitz -- and they made short work of the long-standing tradition that new students wore Freshman Beanies for three months.
I have no memory of the work I did on that booklet, though I still have the letter the Dean sent expressing her gratitude.  But I came across the old one the other day. 
 It was dated 1941.  Evidently mine would be the first revision -- first reprint -- since The War.  Paper had been so scarce -- like most everything else.  I have no memory of what guidelines I used, what changes I made, but anyhow, I wanted to show you the sentence that greeted me on the first page I just opened it to --

There is no dancing or card playing in the dormitory living rooms on Sunday.

The rest of that page makes pretty interesting reading too.  Those telephones, for instance, were coin (nickel) wall phones down in the entrance halls -- none of us had individual phones, which were unavailable anyhow like so much else during The War. And while the rules mention leaving the house after 11 o'clock, I remember that freshman girls had 8 pm deadlines, and could sign out for no more than three 9 o'clocks during a semester.  As is now obvious from the rest of that booklet, the main concern of that Dean of Women's Office was to see that as few of us as possible, in the days before The Pill, ever showed up pregnant.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Finance Problem

For income in my old age I'd built a nice cozy group of municipal bonds -- they pay low interest rates, but they're pretty reliable and the dividends are free from income tax.  And I don't have to think about them, which is great these days when I seem to be a lot less capable of thinking.
Starting last January, though, some of those bonds are being called in, for some reason I don't even want to try to understand
-- and I'm left with cash to re-invest. 
When I ask for investment advice, the kids are no help at all. 
Well, full disclosure, actually I did get an opinion from my son in Vancouver, who says
"There's a good mutual fund that specializes in marijuana, but I'm afraid you can't buy it in The States."

*note: "to serve you better" my server has upgraded me and I can no longer figure out how to get pictures on this post.  I used Google to find some lovely ones -- the Canadian flag with its maple leaf replaced with a sprig of marijuana, for example -- but I can't post it.  If anyone out there feels helpful, it'd be much appreciated.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ain't he cute ?!!

So I just came out here to send the kids the usual "I survived the night" email, glanced out at the feeders and what to my wondering eyes did appear but this guy having a fine breakfast on $3.99 a pound peanuts from Wegmans.  Nice way to start the day.  Nothing I can do but watch from in here -- Companion not due till Friday afternoon.   

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Duck Update

     Okay, it's 4 pm on Tuesday, and here's a report for those who have been asking if the Misguided Mallards are still wasting their valuable nesting time in that shrinking puddle at the rear of this suburban back yard. 
     I hadn't seen either one for several days, and then just a few minutes ago there was the male alone, standing tall and absolutely still, watching the house.  Just standing stock-still.
     I couldn't figure out why -- and then, waddling back from the spilled birdseed under my window, came his mate.  They're both still with us! and he'd been watching her.
     By the time I got the camera out again, she'd made it almost all the way back -- and she's such a camouflaged dullness that you'll have trouble finding her.  Try for that little grey spot above the center there.  He, evidently reassured that she was obeying his summons, had already returned to the puddle--if there still is a puddle.  Hard to tell from here, and I can no longer walk to find out.
      If this actually results in ducklings, it'll be a first, in the more than 60 years I've been watching this backyard.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Breaking News from the Obits

     This morning's obits lists a man who "passed away on Friday...at the age of 60, surrounded by his family and friends."  Not right of course -- my kids are all older than that and they're still kids.
     But anyhow, what I started to tell you is that he is survived by "his wife Mary Ellen...his daughter Melissa...his son Brian..., daughters Naomi...and Michele..."   There's a story back of that, one suspects, but again I digress. 
      Nine grandchildren are listed, all with interesting names ----MacKenzie, Bethanie, Morgan, Cooper,... but anyhow, what I wanted to tell you is that 
     in addition to a long list of close friends, he is survived by
    
 
four dogs, a cat, and a rabbit.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Wildlife Adventures

Assuming this program will operate as it should today -- you will remember I showed you the Mallard ducks that migrated in here Easter weekend -- as they do every year -- attracted by that strip of melting snow at the rear of this back yard. 




I think I told you they always move on, looking for a nice swamp to nest in, because that water dries up and disappears every year within a matter of days.
This afternoon, though, I found him still here, and what's more, chasing another male away, after which he flew out to the end of the back yard and landed with a --- omg!--- a splash.
Now here's the view of the yard from my desk, and these days that's all I've got to work with -- can no longer get back there to see what's going on, and even moving to another window is a big undertaking.
 
 So I got out the binoculars, and sure enough, there's a puddle still left back there, about the size of a manhole cover, and I'm afraid they're wasting their 2017 nesting opportunity, because I know -- if they don't -- that it'll be gone within a few days.
Okay -- he's in the middle of this picture, looking at you, and I've blown it up so you can see her more or less -- she's just to the right of that dandelion in front of him, beautifully camouflaged by Nature so that it's hard to see her...because, I'm afraid, she's sitting on eggs.  Or could that be a grey chick already, just to her right?  Wish I could get out there and find out.  
Only consolation is, come to think of it I haven't seen that feral cat around here lately.
Stay tuned!
 

Monday, April 24, 2017

ALTERNATIVE FACTS

DAMN, THIS PROGRAM ISN'T WORKING RIGHT.  I"VE BEEN TRYING TO GET THIS POST OUT FOR TWO DAYS AND I UNDERSTAND THE PICTURES DON'T COME THROUGH, NOR CAN I CHANGE THE SIZE OF THE TYPE.
TIME TO CALL THE COMPUTER HOSPITAL  -- I CAN NO LONGER TAKE IT IN BUT THEY MAKE HOUSE CALLS.
I GIVE UP.  RATHER THAN SPEND ANY MORE TIME ON THIS, I'LL JUST SKIP RIGHT TO THE POINT AND TELL YOU THAT THE TOPIC TO BE PRESENTED NEXT SEPTEMBER BY BILL HUTCHINGS IN BATH, ENGLAND CONCERNS ITSELF WITH

TRUTH AND FICTION: ALTERNATIVE FACTS IN JANE AUSTEN'S NORTHANGER ABBEY

and I finished the post off with a picture of Kellyann Conway, the originator of a phrase that's evidently made its way around the world at lightning speed.   Wikipedia tells me she first pronounced it fewer than four months ago.  Got to figure that invitation had to be printed in England, travel across the ocean, make its way to my house -- and it must have been some time earlier that Bill wrote the description of his talk, assuming even then that Brits reading it would recognize the phrase. 
- - -- -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

This morning's post brought a mailing from the Jane Austen Society, the original one, in England.  It includes an invitation to a scholarly gathering planned for late summer in Bath.  

   Nice picture of the Royal Crescent, incidentally.  Norm and I once spent a night in the hotel that you'd never guess is discretely located in the center of that Crescent -- no  obtrusive sign allowed. But I digress.

   This year marks the 200th anniversary of Jane's death.   Years ago I stood in the low-ceilinged room where she died -- yes, in Bath.  I don't believe one can visit it now-- sorry, digressing again. 

   So -- Austen scholars are concentrating, right now, on the two of her novels published that same year, 1817 -- Northanger Abbey and Persuasion


The list of speakers for this planned assemblage is impressive -- Bill Hutchings, for instance, is Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Manchester, co-editor of The Cowper and Newton Journal, a National Teaching Fellow (whatever that is), and the author most recently of Living Poetry and Living Fiction. 

Here is the lecture you could hear him deliver, late morning next September 25




















and finally, here is the bit that brought me up short:

 
IT'S PASSED INTO THE LANGUAGE!
INTERNATIONALLY!
YOU CAN EVEN FIND IT IN WIKIPEDIA!


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Have a Nice Day


 After skipping several monthly tests, yesterday I finally remembered to make a routine check of  the panic button I wear around my neck. 



Remembering how loud the other alarm -- the door/window thingie -- is,





I scooted not too close to that little speaker box in the living-room, pressed my button, and was rewarded with an immediate “EMERGENCY EMERGENCY” from the little box.


 



Then I scooted up next to it, waiting for a human voice to come on and ask what was the matter.  And just at the instant when that happened, I had – for the first time in more than a year –

 a sudden spasm of the larynx.

Unable to breathe, unable to speak.

In the past there’s been instant panic thinking I’d die, but this time it was instant panic thinking I couldn't answer. I pictured firemen breaking down my front door.  Thought if I did die at least they would find me.

Meanwhile for some reason the Voice went away, total silence.  I struggled for air and then the Voice came back and asked again.  By that time I was able to whisper “I’m okay”.  Couldn’t believe the Voice would hear it, but It said something along the lines of “Have a nice day” and vanished.  By which time I was breathing again.

Not all that much drama in life lately, but you’ve got to admit there’s excitement every now and then.

 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

This clunky AOL server doesn’t always bring up emails I sent in the past few days, but I think I told the kids, in Monday’s good-morning-I’m-still-here note, that I was expecting the podiatrist for a house call that afternoon.  Cleaning lady on Tuesday.  Hairdresser house call on Wednesday.  Think I slated that email Aging in Place but of course not too sure about anything these days.
At any rate, yesterday I was expecting the podiatrist after her office hours.  First time at my house – she had assured me it would still be covered.  Her name was down on my calendar – an old-fashioned cardboard calendar – right here in the basket of the scooter.
 

Decided, as the afternoon wore on, that she’d probably want to clip those toenails in the kitchen, so I figured out a way to prop myself safely at the sink and tackled several days’ mess. 

Just at I finished, the doorbell rang.  Flurry to get back in the scooter, reminding myself that falls happen during hasty transfers – scooted to the front door thinking that can’t be the cleaning lady, I don’t think she’s coming today, opened the door and there was a woman who seemed familiar but definitely not the cleaning lady.  I must have looked as bewildered as I felt.  She said “What’s the matter, didn’t they phone to tell you I was coming?”  I’d seen her before but I was pretty sure that wasn’t the cleaning lady….pause. 

End of story.  You know who it was, and so did I, after perhaps two minutes, maybe not even that long.  Probably  due to that white stuff on the surface of my brain, in the MRI the neurologist showed me when I had the TIA.

Tomorrow I'll also have a visitor from the senior residence I applied to.   Seems they require a "15-minute-cognitive test."  I'll bet the first question will be "What year is it?" (I'll report to you) and I definitely know 1984 came and went.  Even if I'm only operating with maybe 70%, that's still passing, right? 

Now I'm not so sure.

Aging in Place.  

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Duck Duck Easter

                                                  Well, that's a relief! 
I worried last week when the Passover Mallards failed to show up.  But I guess they just got confused by those liturgical calendars -- some years Easter and Passover fall at the same time; this year they didn't. 
At any rate, here's what's outside my desk window right now.  This year they're evidently Easter Mallards.
  As always, they'll plod hopefully around the soggy back yard for a few days, grazing under the birdfeeders on bits knocked down by the songbirds. 
 Then they'll face facts, accept that this place is drying up, and depart to find some nice gooey marsh for nesting.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

They're Baaack!!!

Wegman's supermarket is suddenly full of Easter candy, with Peeps in all sorts of configurations -- surely there were not this many variations in earlier years?  For my birthday I received a pack of three large orange ones "DIPPED in decadent orange fudge" and trust me -- there's a reason we never heard of decadent orange fudge before.  Possibly the worst candy ever devised.  The remaining packet is up on the counter where visiting teenagers will absently browse on anything in sight.
And thank heaven, I also received some decent old-fashioned run-of-the-mill Peeps -- they were even the yellow ones.  I stabbed their cellophane and practiced restraint till they seasoned properly, and I can't show you a picture because they're all gone.
But the exciting news at Wegmans is that the Cadbury creme eggs are finally back -- been waiting months for them.  Sugar sugar sugar in its most delightful configuration. 
So Dannie, here's this year's very first effort.  I know -- the red is a bit torn down there next to the chick, but I couldn't help that -- the creme had oozed a bit and it was stuck to the chocolate there.
 I promise I'll practice diligently -- will try to do better right through to Easter.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Visa Secret Revealed

Just got my Visa bill, realized I didn't make a payment in January. 
 So I called the phone number, finally got to say "representative", which brought up a  live person -- her name was Tiffany so we know she was young --
 "What can I do for you?"
 "Well, I always pay my bill promptly, but it looks like I forgot in January.  There's a late fee and interest here.  Do I really have to pay them?"
"No ma'am you certainly don't.  I'll take those off right now."

I think (never sure about anything these days) that They are legally (?) required by law to give you one free slip-up a year or something like that. 
I post this information as a public service.
You're welcome.

 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Na Zdorovie!!

 I still read the obits every morning, and I always check the first words
 "died peacefully in her sleep"--
 (how do they know it wasn't terrifying?) 
 Sometimes it's "at home surrounded by his loved ones"
(a consummation devoutly to be wished, btw ..)
 And then yesterday this one... If you can't read it on your cell phone, I expect there's some way you can enlarge it.  
 
 
 anyhow, it starts --" Rochester:  (1947-2017) Released to the next adventure ..."  That birth date is an alert right there -- he was in his teens through much of the 1960s.  It was an exciting time to be a teenager but a pretty hard time to be a parent --trust me, I was there.
  Between them our boys drove Abbie Hoffman, marched on Washington with MLK,  hitch-hiked to the moonshot and heard Arlo Guthrie at the Newport Festival, registered for the draft and debated fleeing to New Zealand or Canada -- and then they turned middle-aged with good marriages and respectable careers. 
 I was curious to read what became of Charles, but judging from this obit, he was a living fossil -- true to his era right to the end.  Anyhow, what I started out to tell you is that someone thought it worth including in his obituary that he
WENT TO WOODSTOCK WITH A PURCHASED TICKET.
YES!  Our Dov went to Woodstock (driving his friends in our station wagon after dawn because his junior license didn't allow driving at night)  And YES! he'd PURCHASED A TICKET, only to find that as Woodstock developed, the fences were thrown down and the gates opened.
Na Zdorovie!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Here's a First!

Could it have been half a century ago that Anna made paint-by-number portraits of The Beatles?
 I guess if you live long enough (and I have) what goes around comes around.
At any rate, here's what the magazine from Cornell Ornithology looked like in the mailbox yesterday --
 
and when the outside cover was removed -- 
 
 
So I'm curious -- is this indeed a first, or has anyone already received a magazine with this kind of embellishment for your coloring pleasure?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Balanced -- and a Bargain!

      As a public service, today's post is all about a perfectly balanced bargain meal --and  one that can be eaten without having to leave the driver's seat.  For your reading pleasure I append a McDonald's check and here's your script:
      First, you drive up and order a "small cheeseburger".  Right there is your dairy and your protein. 
     Then you ask for a "senior coke".  (I know, I know, but I need the caffeine these days and I don't drink coffee.)
Besides, I want to alert those of a respectable age -- did you know you can get a full-size drink for 79 cents?... or even 69 cents? (read on)  You just have to ask.
    Then, because the chopped onions on that cheeseburger don't really provide enough fruit-and-vegetable component -- and because I've eliminated the pickle and the ketchup, which you may remember Reagan (was it?) classified as a school lunch vegetable...
   ...it's prudent to end the meal with a hot apple pie.
   Yes, this nicely balanced meal can be had for just three dollars,
   BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!!
   If you go to store #32511 instead of store # 4789, you save a penny on the cheeseburger, the coke is ten cents less, the pie is a real bargain and the tax becomes only twenty cents.  

  A third MacDonald's had even different pricing, but I can't seem to find the check.  At any rate -- here's your well-balanced meal for
LESS THAN THREE DOLLARS.

       We're Lovin It!

 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Bigger than the Carnegie Deli

After at least a decade I still remember the address of the Carnegie Deli -- 56th street between 5th and 6th.
Last time we were there, Norm wanted to buy a half-pound of pastrami to take home-- and the guy behind the counter said "It's cheaper if you just order a sandwich."
So we took a sandwich home.
Just as well he isn't here
to know it's not.
Meanwhile --

Monday, January 9, 2017

Holiday Leftovers

 It's way below freezing out today. 
 Way past noon.  I'm still in furry slippers and cozy bathrobe, with every intention of staying that way till bedtime. 
The house is pretty well back to normal after the Holidays and the family Visitors, with just a couple of leftover mysteries:
Whose is the red apron?  I suspect Maria.
 
And who left the impressive paperback Hamlet and Oedipus?
Julie just finished a course that involved Greek drama, so I suspect her, but yet -- look at the price in the northeast corner of that cover:
 -- that's got to be a generation or two earlier.  Maybe Julie got it while they were visiting Anna, who has a nice collection of drama stuff from her Equity days.
But anyhow -- the big mystery is
 What Ever Happened to the Bathmat That Got Soaked When the Fancy Shower Leaked?
I have looked high and low. 
Come to think of it, that's a figure of speech. 
I can no longer look either  High or Low.
                        Any information will be appreciated.