Friday, May 30, 2008


It was just past 6 AM when I entered the restaurant and I saw that one other customer had been seated before me. He was a nice looking young man and, since we were the only two there, we nodded a silent “good morning” to each other.

I chose this particular restaurant because I like their choice of breakfast items. On this day I opted for a Spanish Omelet and coffee. My friend was equally conservative and ordered 2 eggs, no meat, a biscuit and coffee.

We were just getting down to eating when we heard the loud approach of an 18-wheeler and, a few minutes later, the driver of the truck was being seated. Now there were three of us in the room and once again we nodded to each other pleasantly.

Our new man was very large & I wasn’t surprised when he ordered the equivalent of 3 breakfasts. After he placed his order he sat back, crossed his hands over his protruding tummy and proceeded to rock back and forth in happy anticipation of the feast to come.

It took two waitresses to carry out the large breakfast he’d ordered and it was placed ceremoniously in front of him. He had pancakes, 3 eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits in gravy and a side order of their special hash browns with cheese, not to mention a large Pepsi.

The breakfast seemed to be literally swimming in butter, gravy and syrup but there was an addition to it that caught my eye. A large slice of twisted orange had been placed artistically atop the pancakes. The driver literally reared back when he saw that and then, very carefully with thumb and forefinger, he plucked the offensive orange slice from the stack and, with a sigh of relief, deposited it in the ash tray.

The stranger and I could only smile and shake our heads as we locked eyes across the room. We didn’t have to hide the look of amusement on our faces. There was no way that the truck driver would have seen us.

Now that he had successfully rid himself of the one healthy element of his meal he was completely and happily engrossed in the orgy of eating.

(PS: This is a rerun and I apologize to you who have already read it.)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

My Italian Trompe L’oeil bedroom

Trompe L’oeil (Definition: French for “fool the eye”...a two-dimensional artistic rendering that looks actual or real... i.e: three dimensional.)

It’s no surprise to any of my faithful blogger friends that I have a love of all and everything that is Italian. My only overseas experiences were to the Umbrian and Tuscan areas of that amazing country a few years back and I still bask in the memories.

With that in mind I decided to bring a bit of Italy into my own home. I designed a wall mural that would do the trick and then I had to decide where to paint it. I only have five rooms and a central hall in my little house so I settled on my bedroom.

The window in the picture above is part of a larger mural that covers a corner of my bedroom. It is usually the first thing I see when I wake and it never fails to cheer me up.

I will probably never get back to Italy. The dollar has really dropped in value in relation to the Euro and I’m afraid the costs would be prohibitive. However, I can still day dream and I do that a lot.

Many of the monasteries where we stayed had open-air windows like this and if I squint my eyes I can be back there in a flash. Isn’t the mind a wonderful thing? A no-cost vacation awaits me every morning!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Our “L’il Marco” at the Bocce Restaurant, 1959

The picture above was taken around 1968 at the Bocce Court of the “il Vagabondo” Restaurant on E. 62nd St. in New York City. I was excited when I came across it and this is why:

Dick and I were married in 1958 and living in the city. We used to go to a favorite Italian restaurant and I’m pretty sure it was this one. You entered through a neighborhood-type bar and then into the back room which featured an indoor bocce court. It was so much fun to enjoy a magnificent Italian dinner while watching the men compete.

In July of 1959 our first son was born. We named him Mark and he was an exceptionally good baby. We felt confident that he would behave so we took him with us when we treated ourselves to a night out at “il Vagabondo”. He was about 2 months old.

The bar was very crowded that night and we knew many of the locals by sight, if not by name. Many of them were elderly Italian men and their eyes lit up when they saw Mark and they wanted to know what we had named him. Of course he became “L’il Marco” to them and they insisted that we leave him with them and go in and enjoy our dinner.

I suppose that sounds a bit shocking in today’s world, but we felt very secure leaving Mark with them. Even when we were seated at a table in the next room we could hear them “ooing” and “ahhing” over “L’il Marco” as they passed him gently around the bar.

When it was time to leave I remember that our usually good baby started to cry and I was amazed. In a very short time he had come to love those rough old men and he hated to leave. I felt the same way.

When I was in Italy, many years later, I would watch and listen as the Italians laughed and gestured their way through a conversation. It would remind me of that magical night when Mark, (who will be 49 this July) became “L’il Marco” and was held in the loving arms of those old men.

I wrote to the “il Vagabondo” restaurant when I was researching for this blog entry and they actually answered me. It makes me feel sure that it is still the same warm and friendly spot that we loved. If you are ever in New York City I would highly recommend that you pay them a visit.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

AA’s Sponsor-sponsee dilemma

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He saw a person on the ground and yelled down to him, “Can you help me? I don’t know where I am.” The man replied, “Sure, I’ll help you. You are in a hot air balloon hovering 30 feet above the ground...between 40 and 41 degrees North latitude and between 59 & 60 degrees West longitude.”

“Wow, you must be an AA sponsor”, said the man in the balloon. “I am”, said the man, “but what gave me away?”

“Well”, answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically right but I am still lost. Frankly you’re not much help at all and you might even have delayed my trip.”

“You must be an AA sponsee”, replied the man. The man in the balloon was amazed and said, “I am, but how did you know?”

The man on the ground said, “Well, you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. You have risen to where you are due to a lot of hot air. You are expecting other people to solve your problems and the fact is that you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but, somehow now IT’S MY FAULT” !

Saturday, May 10, 2008


My Canadian friend AC, on his blog “Spring Raindrops”, threw out a challenge recently on his May 3rd entry. He listed “six unspectacular quirks” that he has and challenged his readers to do the same.

That darn challenge ate away at me and I found, much to my surprise, that this was a difficult thing for me to do. “My lord,” I thought, “my life must be either fraught with deep meaning or it’s all so unspectacular that I can’t separate a habit from a quirk”.

All that being said…here is the best I could do.

1. I only put $25 worth of gas in my tank at a time. It means going to the station more often but it fools me into feeling the pinch less.

2. When I can’t sleep I pick a letter of the alphabet and try to list as many names of people as I can think of starting with that letter...literally boring myself to sleep.

3. I guess I hum when I’m nervous. I don’t think so but my friends and family say I do !!

4. If I wake in the night and see that the time on the clock reads a combination of the same numbers (such as 11:11, or 4:44, etc.) I take that as a sign that I will get a happy surprise in the upcoming day.

5. I have often made an impulse buy (say, of $30) and decided on the way home to take it back. Then, after I’d received my $30 back I would praise myself for being frugal and saving that amount. (This used to baffle my late husband who could never seem to make me see that I was actually only back to where I’d been before I spent the $30 !)

6. Lastly, I’m addicted to that silly “Spider” card game on the computer. I would be ashamed to admit the amount of aimless hours wasted on that game.

Monday, May 05, 2008

PLUM ISLAND, Massachusetts……1937

My sister Nancy looks on as I balance a bottle on my head. I seem to be very proud of myself. I had to rely on my oldest sister, Mary, for the particulars surrounding this photo. I had heard family members speak of Plum Island over the years but I really don’t remember going there.

I was particularly interested because I couldn’t fathom how we would be able to afford the whole summer of 1937 on Plum Island. We had very little money then with 5 girls to clothe and feed...and we lived in New Jersey, nowhere near the shoreline of Massachusetts.

However, according to Mary, our Mother suffered from severe back pains and a friend of the family offered us his cottage on the island for the summer. We girls ranged in age from 4 ½ (that was me, the youngest) to 13 years, so we would be able to care for ourselves and enable Mother to get a well deserved rest.

Our get-away was spent in a tiny cottage named “Alice”. It was one of a group of compact little wooden structures and was directly on the beach. Although we had a rudimentary kitchen there were no bathroom facilities and our community of families shared an outside shower and an outhouse.

There was a small store, a run down board walk and an open-air building where we could play games, listen to music and work on jig saw puzzles. No TV’s, cell phones, or other distractions ... just lots of sun, sand and ocean.

As I gaze again at that picture I can’t help but chuckle at the silly little girl with the bottle on her head. Little did I know then that “putting the cork in the bottle” was to play a huge part in my later life. I certainly didn’t seem to be worried about it then !

Thursday, May 01, 2008

ADRIENNE RICH ...a candid poet

I have to admit to being nearly illiterate when it comes to poetry. Although I am an avid reader (at least two books a week) I do not seem to be able to relate to most poetry. Recently, however, I was perusing a book by Bill Moyers, titled The Language of Life, a Festival of Poets and I came across this poem by Adrienne Rich. It really spoke to me.

Perhaps that is because she is in my age group. Perhaps it is because she is a feminist thinker and political activist. Perhaps it is because I have the same fears.

I love the fact that she refused offers from both the Clinton and the Bush administrations to perform at White House functions. That tells me that she lives what she writes and I think that is rare in this day and age. Here is the poem:


“There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off in to shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled,
this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here, our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods meeting the unmarked strip of light --
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won’t tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times
like these
to have you listen at all, It’s necessary
to talk about trees.”