Thursday, December 30, 2010

The IVY takes off …

About three years ago I took this picture to send to my daughter to demonstrate the new colors that I had chosen for my living room. It also shows the large ivy plant that I hoped would continue to grow without much direct light.

I was told that a once-a-week watering was all that was required and I‘ve pretty much stuck to that. However, there were a few times over the years when I wasn’t home to take care of the plant and I thought it would surely be dead by the time I got back.

Luckily for me this never happened. That ivy plant has proved to be a sturdy survivor as I can attest to by this recent photo.

I sometimes wonder who the ultimate survivor will be …me or the ivy !!

Friday, December 17, 2010


Brrrrrr…it looks so cold it’s enough to make you want to grab a sweater and a warm pair of gloves.

It must be a lovely winter scene somewhere ... bare branches with drifts of snow on a frozen pond, or could it be a child’s school project ... you know, the kind where they use a mirror and cotton puffs to simulate a setting for “Swan Lake” ?

No, it’s none of these. This is another example of the amazing pictures that my search engine Bing brings to me daily.

These are salt formations in the Dead Sea in Israel and, despite the cold feel of the photo, there’s nothing chilly there. The surface temperatures can reach over 90 degrees F. Another interesting fact is that the water at the bottom of the sea is called fossilized water because it is so heavy and hasn’t moved for thousands of years.

Thanks, Bing, you never fail to fascinate me with your choice of pictures !

Monday, December 13, 2010

Supporting AA friends during the Holidays …

Holidays are a time of much stress and big “triggers” for many alcoholics.

The non-alcoholic can enjoy these days with cookies and cakes laced with alcohol and the cordiality of raising a glass in a toast. For we, the alcoholics, this is deadly. One of the sure fire indications that a person has a drinking problem is when they can’t stop imbibing once they’ve started. (Have you ever seen an alcoholic leave a drop of liquid in a discarded glass … while they were still conscious, that is ? Of course not !)

The AA community where I live is very aware of the pit-falls that are waiting for us and we make a big effort to give even more support to our members during this time. The picture above shows a portion of our community room where we host Holiday dinners and events, as well as our regular meetings morning, noon and at night.

One of our most successful ventures is our “Christmas Marathon” that starts this year on Sat. the 18th thru New Year’s Day. Our members sign up to commit to 3 hours shifts and we stay open until Midnight during those days, plus host a Christmas dinner and a New Year‘s lunch.

We have been doing this for quite a few years and my favorite memory centers around a long distance trucker who found himself in our area during a critical point in his journey to sobriety. He had called our Answering Service for help in finding a meeting and they referred him to us.

When the trucker arrived it was apparent that he was in a bad way. He was newly sober and his hands were trembling. He was craving a drink like crazy. It was about 2 pm and he stayed on for the rest of the day. You could just see the calm return to him the longer he remained. When midnight came and we had to close up he asked if it would be OK if he slept in his truck in our parking lot. Of course we said “yes”!

Long story short he stayed with us for the entire time … right up through New Year’s Eve and the following day. By this time we were all old friends and he had shared much of his life’s story with us. In many ways it was a miracle that he had been able to get sober and he was doing everything in his power to stay on the path. Needless to say we hated to say goodbye.

For all of my non-alcoholic readers I say: “raise your glasses, make your toasts, and eat those rum balls. Just don’t try to talk an alcoholic into doing the same … those 'triggers' are no laughing matter.” Thanks and Happy Holidays.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

2 photos…same place, same day !!

Can you believe it? These two pictures were taken (March, 2006) on the same day in the same place ... Palm Springs, California. I was visiting my good friends Ted and Dwayne and took the top photo from the balcony of their apartment.

Later that day we journeyed to the mountains that are in the background of that picture. We took an aerial tram up the side of the mountain and in less than 10 minutes we’d jumped from a comfortable day in the 70’s to the winter wonderland that you see in Photo #2.

It was really an eerie experience. The air was at least 40 degrees colder up top than in the desert below and the snow was thick and lush. I was glad that I’d been forewarned to wear heavy clothing and gloves.

Some of the hardier folks set out to walk the nature trails and I was told that burro rides were available, if that would be more to my liking. But I was perfectly satisfied to stay where I was ... a steaming cup of coffee in my hands, an awesome view at my disposal and the knowledge that I could leave winter behind me with just the aid of a short tram ride down the mountain.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

ENGLISH … a mixed-up mess

Many times I’ve thought how difficult it would have been for me to learn English if it had not been my mother tongue. I am an avid reader and every page seems to be filled with words that would confound me if I were not already aware of their double, and sometimes triple, meanings.

Then, of course, there are the ones that are spelled the same and pronounced in a totally different way…or, conversely they are spelled differently but pronounced the same ! What a mess.

Recently I received an email with a list of sentences that aptly described this. Here are a few and some of my own:

* I will PRESENT the PRESENT in the PRESENT, rather than
wait ‘til tomorrow.

* The dump was so full we had to REFUSE more REFUSE.

* The DOVE DOVE into the bushes.

* Sadly his insurance was INVALID even though he was an

* See how the buck DOES prance when the DOES arrive.

* If I could PRODUCE more PRODUCE we’d eat better.

* My HEIR is out getting some AIR, he will be here ERE long.

* The COLONEL picked the KERNEL from his teeth.

I could go on forever but you get the idea. I’ll bet you have some favorites of your own. Maybe you could share some with us.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

One of the many “perks” of blogging …

In August of 2006 I posted an entry about this World War II advertisement for the New Haven Railroad. My dad was the production manager of an advertising agency in NY City in the 40’s and this ad was written by his good friend and co-worker Nelson Metcalf. The ad has become one of the most famous ones of WW II and it launched a successful career for Mr. Metcalf.

Now it is more than four years since I posted that entry but I continue to get comments on it. The latest one came just a few days ago and “anonymous” said:

“Today I bought a vintage (1942)WWII prayer book for soldiers and sailors, distributed by a church in Troy, Ohio. In a pocket in the back cover I found an anonymous, handwritten copy of Metcalf's ad. I am so glad to have found your blog so that I can put it into context. I'll always wonder what happened to the young serviceman who was moved by that ad .”

Isn’t that wonderful? It warms my heart to know that some of my memories might be of use to others. Here are the words to:

"The Kid in Upper 4"

"It is 3:42 a.m. on a troop train.
Men wrapped in blankets are breathing heavily.
Two in every lower berth. One in every upper.
This is no ordinary trip. It may be their last in the U.S.A. till the end of the war. Tomorrow they will be on the high seas.
One is wide awake ... listening ... staring into the blackness.
It is the kid in Upper 4.

Tonight, he knows, he is leaving behind a lot of little things - and big ones.
The taste of hamburgers and pop ... the feel of driving a roadster over a six-lane highway ... a dog named Shucks, or Spot, or Barnacle Bill.
The pretty girl who writes so often ... that gray-haired man, so proud and awkward at the station ... the mother who knit the socks he'll wear soon.
Tonight he's thinking them over.
There's a lump in his throat. And maybe - a tear fills his eye. It doesn't matter, Kid. Nobody will see ... it's too dark.

A couple of thousand miles away, where he's going, they don't know him very well.
But people all over the world are waiting, praying for him to come.
And he will come, this kid in Upper 4.
With new hope, peace and freedom for a tired, bleeding world.

Next time you are on the train, remember the kid in Upper 4.
If you have to stand en route - it is so he may have a seat.
If there is no berth for you - it is so that he may sleep.
If you have to wait for a seat in the diner - it is so he ... and thousands like him ... may have a meal they won't forget in the days to come.
For to treat him as our most honored guest is the least we can do to pay a mighty debt of gratitude.

The New Haven R.R."