Wednesday, January 30, 2013

“Hyde Park on Hudson”

Hyde Park is in Dutchess County, New York where my family and I lived for quite a few years and where my daughter and her husband have their business now. So it was with anticipation that I went to see the movie “Hyde Park on Hudson” this week.

I had a hard time envisioning Bill Murray as Franklin D. Roosevelt but was surprised and very impressed with his portrayal of our 32nd president.

In a nutshell the film is based on the romantic memories of Margaret Suckley of Rhinebeck who was 99 when she passed away in 1991. Her letters and diaries came to light then and, supposedly, were the inspiration for this movie. We sympathize with her as she discovers that she is not the one true love of FDR (as she believed) but is, in truth, one of many.

This all comes to light in 1939 when King George VI of England and his wife spend the weekend at the country estate of the Roosevelts in Hyde Park, New York, overlooking the Hudson River. Their visit was in hopes that it would bolster American support for the United Kingdom on the eve of World War II.

My favorite scene in the movie is when FDR and the King cloister themselves in his study and speak candidly to each other. I was touched by the president’s kindness toward the “stuttering” King and the depth of understanding that evolved between them. It allowed me to put aside my annoyance with FDR and his life style and to concentrate and admire his brilliance as a politician.

The entire cast was spot on but I thought that Olivia Williams as the young Eleanor Roosevelt was perfect
I have no idea how many historical liberties were taken in the guise of artistic justice … I suspect there were some … but it was still a most delightful film in my estimation.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Let it snow … or whatever …

…as long as I have a good book to read I can put up with almost anything.

Most of my younger friends have Kindles or something like them; but not me. Call it old age or just plain habit but I still prefer the feel of an actual book in my hands. I also love the feeling of finding those book “gems” for under a dollar at yard sales or thrift stores.

The experts say that maintaining an active mind is the key to staving off Alzheimer’s and I hope that is so because my two favorite mind exercises are crossword puzzles and reading.

I listened recently to an authority on sleeplessness and he stated that one should never read in bed. I guess his reasoning was that reading would stimulate the mind and tend to keep the reader awake. It acts precisely the opposite way for me and the last thing I do every night is read a chapter or two. It works better than a sleeping pill.

Joseph Addison has said, “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body”. I would add crossword puzzles to that. A daily dose of the two of them presents me with a mental playground where I can romp to my heart’s content. I work the crossword puzzle in bed also...first the puzzle and then the book.

I don’t like to think that I have an obsession to working crossword puzzles but an unsolved one, wherever I find it, is definitely a lure. That’s why I had to laugh when I saw this cartoon.

Caption …. “Who cut out the crossword puzzle?”

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Looooooong Time Ago … 1933

My mother was an art teacher at Skidmore College before she married my father in 1924 so it’s no surprise that she would decorate her correspondence with sweet little drawings as you see here. That’s me … born February 15th, 1933 ! Can you believe that I was ever that small … or, that sweet ?

I was looking for something else today when I came across this and it brought back so many poignant memories. Evidently this letter was sent to my sister Nancy in response to one she had written to our mother who was still in the hospital after having given birth to me. (In those days it was the norm to stay up to a week in the hospital after delivery … I believe the term for that was “birth confinement”.)

Here’s another part of the letter …

I was the last to be born … the youngest of 5 girls and we all managed to live long and fruitful lives until this past year. Now we are down to three and it makes me humble to realize that I am the only one still “mobile”.

As I turn to the ripe old age of 80 I give thanks for a fairly alert mind and a relatively healthy body … but it still begs the question:


Friday, January 18, 2013

CARROTS … Yum, Yum

Here are my two little house guests, Wren and Bela, who are very well behaved. Once a day they get a special treat and you see them here waiting to be told “OK” … at which point they will pounce with glee upon their slice of carrot! Now, who would think that a carrot slice could bring such joy?

But, this is how they’ve been trained. They are not given table scraps or doggie bones. Rather, they have a set diet and by adhering to this they are both in excellent health. Their dispositions are very sweet also and it got me to thinking how important initial training is … in people as well as animals.

We’ve all seen examples of how small children play with others their age without prejudice. They could care less if their playmates are black, yellow or green, for that matter. They just want to enjoy what the world has to offer and to contribute to it. It’s only when the adults come into play that it goes downhill.

Imagine how different our world would be if we were taught early on to cherish the “carrots” of life, (those simple pleasures of our youth) and to forego the qualities of jealousy, hatred and greed that are so carefully taught to us by society and well meaning parents.

I love these words by Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. He addresses a similar issue: “When I was a child I acquired some of the traits that had a lot to do with my insatiable craving for alcohol. I was brought up in a little town in Vermont, under the shadow of Mount Aeolus. An early recollection is that of looking up at this vast and mysterious mountain and wondering what it meant and whether I could ever climb that high. But I was distracted by my aunt who, as a fourth-birthday present, made me a plate of fudge. For the next thirty five years I pursued the fudge of life and quite forgot about the mountain.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Frustration … followed by VICTORY !

I wonder how many of you blogger friends have experienced the same frustration that I have trying to get used to the “new and improved” blogger setup on Google. It’s near impossible (for me anyway) to set the pictures where I want them and then, to make matters even worse, I found today that I COULDN’T UPLOAD PICTURES AT ALL. Upon investigating the “Help” option I found this statement:

“The photo upload icon is not appearing for some users on Internet Explorer. We’re investigating the issue and will update this post as soon as we have more information. In the meantime you can work around this issue by … temporarily switching to the Edit HTML mode of the compose editor.”

Well, that’s a start I thought so I clicked on “new post” and was surprised to see that it actually had a box with the letters HTML in it. Now, I have no idea what the initials stand for but I decided to take a chance and I clicked on it… and guess what? I was thrilled to find that I was back to my old tried and true format ! Whoopee ! Not only could I post my pictures as I did before but I could position them just where I wanted.

I sure hope that Google or Blogspot, or whoever it is that I’m connected to, keeps this option ! I’ve stopped swearing at them and it feels like I’ve won a victory. Now I’m all set and ready to post a new bunch of blogger entries … …if I can keep my mind from going blank, that is !

Friday, January 11, 2013

On Safari … two weekends ago !

Can you believe that my niece Wendy and I actually went on a safari and it was within 20 miles of my home !!

I had heard of this educational zoo in Cameron, North Carolina, for a few years but, as is so often the case, when something is local you tend to disregard it. I knew that it was a sanctuary for rescue animals but I had my mind set on a small enclosed area with some cats & dogs & perhaps a few tropical birds to add color. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The Aloha Safari Zoo is a wonderland. It’s true that they are not all of the “show animal” variety. After all, these are rescued animals and some are missing limbs and others have less visible defects but they are mostly just exotic animals that would have perished if it had not been for the love and care of a local man named Lee Crutchfield. His first “rescue” came in the form of a monkey that he received as a gift and just 7 years later he now has a 60 acre zoo complete with over 300 exotic animals, ranging from Watusi cattle, with horns that span 6 feet in length to a zorse (an offspring of a zebra and a horse.)

All of the animals have heart wrenching stories and it’s amazing that he’s been able to save them. Here are just a few examples:
This sweet “little” giraffe is their latest acquisition. She would not survive in our chilly winter climate so they’ve provided a barn complete with heat to get her through to the summer. The highlight of our tour was the “safari ride”. It meanders through the 60 acres on a dirt road bordered on both sides with fenced acreage of paddocks where the majority of the zoo’s animals reside in specialized habitats. They seem to love the attention and you can actually pat heads and gawk to your heart’s content. It’s a photographers paradise.

Volunteers and donations make this zoo a possibility and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Y’all come if your in the vicinity !

Sunday, January 06, 2013


…and a “sit-down” affair !

In 1973 my family and I were living in a small town in upstate New York. We didn’t entertain like we had while living in N Y city but on this night we were having a formal dinner party for 12 couples.

It was a snowy November evening and all of our guests had arrived, but where was my husband? He and our oldest son had gone out hunting early in the day. Now it was well past dark and still no sign of them.

I was starting to get panicky but then I heard a car door slam and knew they were home. We all went to greet them and watched as they carefully lifted Dick’s hunting jacket out of the back of the Blazer. It seemed to be heavy and it took the two of them to carry it inside.

That was when we heard the tiny yapping sounds and we realized that his jacket was full of newborn pups. There must have been 7 or 8 of them and Dick explained what has transpired.

He had noticed a pregnant dog about 4 weeks earlier and every time he went into the woods he would call to her and they became friends. About 2 weeks before our party Dick noticed that the mother would not come to his call and he assumed that she must be having, or already had, her puppies

So it was a shock when Dick and Mark stumbled onto the body of the mother. She had most likely been killed by a ruthless hunter who saw movement in the brush and assumed that it was a deer. They were devastated and then their next thought was, “where are the pups?” They finally located them scrunched into a hollow log covered with snow and they extricated them one by one and bundled them in Dick’s jacket.

You can imagine the rest of the story. We took turns sitting on the kitchen floor, fancy dress clothes and all, cuddling the pups and feeding warm milk to them. So it became a “sit-down” dinner party after all.

And, to top it off, one of the guests was a journalist. He wrote an article that tugged at the heart strings of many readers and all of our little “orphan pups" were adopted into good homes.

(If this story is familiar to some of you it’s because it’s a re-entry. I apologize but a really bad head cold has put me to bed and my “blogger thinker” is not working !)

Thursday, January 03, 2013

1987 … one day, two great golfers !

Does anyone recognize this guy? It’s Chi Chi Rodriguez, the professional golfer. The first Puerto Rican to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

It was 1987 and he was in Pinehurst, NC playing in a Senior’s Tournament. This is also the locale of the hospital where I was working, (in the ER), and we were all excited because Chi Chi had just signed the register … wanting to be examined by the docs for stomach pains.

It was a slow day and he received an inordinate amount of attention from the doctors. You notice that is in the plural. I think just about every doctor in the house found a reason to “treat” him…and, to be fair, Chi Chi loved the attention.

This was a few years before we became automated and we still had a hand-written sign-in log at the front desk. Imagine my surprise when the next name, directly after his, was that of my husband. He was having some breathing problems and decided to come in and get some relief. When he saw Chi Chi’s name above his he gave a chuckle and said, “What do you know? Two great golfers in one day!” Somehow that message was not passed on to the Doctor’s who could barely be drawn away from the “real” golfer to tend to my husband !

I was sorely tempted to copy that log page and have it framed but I couldn’t afford losing my job over it. HIPPA wasn’t enacted until 1996 but I knew enough not to break the “privacy rule” and I left well enough alone !