Friday, September 27, 2013

Lost and found …A small victory

If any of you out there are lovers of jigsaw puzzles you will understand the frustration and annoyance that I faced today. I’d spent many hours piecing together this charming scene only to find that a piece was missing !!

How could this be? Over the years I’ve bought and been given many puzzles but I’ve held on to just a few, the ones that really appealed to me, and, of course I would never save a puzzle with any pieces missing. So, I decided to go in search of that one small piece. It had to be somewhere.

It’s very easy for puzzle pieces to get lost on the “rug” that I painted on the floor so I got out my trusty broom and did a thorough sweep there.

No luck …but I did have a cleaner floor.
I took my search further and proceeded to sweep the entire kitchen floor and even part of the hallway, thinking that the wind might have blown it out there. I was just about to give up and was thinking that I’d throw the darn puzzle out when I decided to take one last go-round. The only difference was that I stuck my broom UNDER a small cabinet and, lo and behold, there was that pesky little piece.
OK, I hear it …those of you advising me to “get a life” but I say it’s these little victories that make up the life I have !

Monday, September 23, 2013

A magical day …

Meet my son Matt. He’s a gentleman so I’m sure he’d get up to greet you if he could but he’s in a bit of a tight squeeze doing some finishing work on a project.

He’s working on a boat house at Lake Tillery which is a little over an hour from where we live and he brought me along for the ride. He thought it would be a good change for me and he was so right. I admit to taking the requisite pain pill before we started to keep the Shingles at bay, but it didn’t diminish my enjoyment.

Here you see the boat house …a very attractive building with a lovely area to sit overlooking the water.

I brought a good book and my usual NY Times Crossword puzzles so I had plenty to keep me occupied while he installed a fan vent and did a lot of finishing work inside the boat house. You see the lovely view that I had in the first picture and wandering to the ground level this is what I saw …

Beauty from every perspective and such a nice change from my usual “woe is me” day at home ! I felt better than I have for 6 weeks and really think this blankety-blank disease is coming to an end.
Thanks, Matt … It was truly a magical day.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Shakin’ the Shingles …

No, this isn’t a blog about the latest barn dance craze. It’s my way to say “Thank You” to all of you for hanging in there with me for the past 6 weeks. As soon as I got the diagnoses of Shingles I knew I was in for a siege but I really didn’t expect it to be so debilitating or to last so long.

I was interested to learn that the name Shingles derives from both the Latin and French words for belt or girdle. I can certainly relate to that since the pain, for me, is directly under my rib cage and feels just like someone has placed a 6” belt around that area and is tightening it vise-like until I can hardly breathe. Not fun !

On the plus side I have to admit that I am very thankful that my bout of Shingles is concentrated on my back and not in the facial area as it is for so many. I can’t imagine how painful that would be.

To be honest I still have a ways to go but I am definitely coming out on the other side and can accomplish more each day. As you know I relied on posting repeats of some of my oldest blog entries because I just didn’t have the strength of mind to think up new ones. The fact that you still reread and, in many cases, re-commented means a lot to me.

Bloggers and blog-readers are special people !

Sunday, September 15, 2013

"Let sleeping dogs lie..."

I love catch phrases and it's fun to find where they originated.  “Let sleeping dogs lie” aptly describes this picture. It is a phrase believed to have been originated by Chaucer around 1380 in Troilus and Criseyde, 'It is nought good a slepyng hound to wake'. It means that one shouldn't stir up a potentially difficult situation when it's best left alone

Then there’s “it’s a piece of cake” meaning that it would be an easy task...but, where did that saying originate? I tried to find the answer but there were many conflicting opinions. It was often paired with “easy as pie” and I was amused to read that many women said it must have been coined by a male since “there’s nothing easy about making a pie...or a cake, for that matter.”

I was reminded of Dorothy Parker, (1893-1967), the controversial American writer who was best known for her caustic wit. While playing a word game with some friends she was challenged to use the word HORTICULTURE in a sentence. She came up with “You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.” which of course is a take-off from the well known caption “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”.

Then there is our plain-speaking US President Harry S Truman.

He is credited with two phrases that have stood the test of time (since 1949). They are: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” which he often would say to his staff, and: “The buck stops here.” He did not originate the later but had a sign to that effect on his desk for his stint as President so he is usually thought to have coined it.

And, of course, when our carefully prepared plans go wrong we are quick to shrug our shoulders and say: “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go astray”. This can be traced directly to a Robert Burns’ poem entitled “To A Mouse, 1786”. He had upturned a mouse’s nest while plowing a field and the poem is his apology to the mouse !

Well, I could go on forever but they say that “brevity is the soul of wit” (Shakespeare's Hamlet, 1602) so I’ll call it quits. Besides which “two heads are better than one” (proverb first recorded in John Heywood's A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, 1546) so I’ll be waiting “with bated breath”, (1250–1300; Middle English, aphetic variant of ABATE) to see what you guys come up with !!


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The MUSIC ROOM…a Child’s Escape

When I was ten years old our family lived in a 13 room, 3 story Victorian house in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts. It sounds very elegant but was actually a very “lived in “ abode, housing my parents, four sisters and even a schoolteacher who boarded with us. The rooms were filled with old hand-me-down furniture and, all in all, it was a very comfortable, but less than chic, home.

The one exception to this, however, was the “Music Room”. It held all the Victorian furnishings that my Mother had inherited from her parents, including a piano, and I loved to sneak in there, especially in the wintertime when the doors were closed tight (to save on heating). Then the room became my private, if somewhat chilly, land of make believe.

I would always sit in the same place…perched high in the exact middle of an austere Victorian loveseat and my eyes would seek out the objects in the room. The piano dominated the room, covering half the wall and wide enough to carry a Tiffany lamp, 3 stacks of sheet music, a violin and a clarinet atop it’s paisley shawl. It was the most ornate piano I have ever seen, a gigantic black body waiting patiently to be played.

The rest of the objects in the room vied with the piano…the marble table tops turning pink from the reflection of the peach colored wallpaper, the leather book covers, the frosted light globe hanging by a “gold” chain and, best of all…two Victorian side chairs.

Those chairs looked like little “fat ladies” stuffed into flowered brocade, the dark scrolled wood curving into shoulders, short arms jutting at either side and their legs planted firmly apart on the floor.

It was my childhood escape and I loved the way the everyday hustle and bustle of the rest of the house receded as I sat there. I was the grand dame … the chairs were my “friends” and we were waiting for the recital to begin. A slight nod to the invisible pianist ….and the music would begin.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

My “Military” Faux Pas … 1959

(Please forgive me for posting another “repeat” … but this horrendous bout of Shingles seems to hang on and my mind and body are still both on hold …)
In 1959 my husband Dick and I were living in NY City when he received a phone call from one of his old National Guard Buddies from Fort Drum. Dick had been the official photographer and driver for a one star General while in service there and it was this man who was “in town for the day” and inviting us to a gathering of the old crew for dinner and a polo match.

We thought it would be fun but Dick warned me that the General could turn into a bit of a jerk if he drank too much. The polo match was held in the massive drill shed of the 7th Regiment Armory on Park Ave. and, although I knew nothing of the rules or who was playing, it was thrilling to watch. The aroma of horses was a little overpowering but I tried to ignore it, knowing that we would soon be having dinner far removed from the smell.

At the end of the game a group of about 20 of us, including the General, made our way upstairs to the very elaborate Board of Officer’s room where we were served drinks. I couldn’t believe how ornate it was…with large framed pictures of famous past Commanders on the walls.

We must have been directly above the horse stalls because the smell was almost as strong in that room as it had been in the shed. It didn’t seem to bother anyone else, but then they weren’t 5 months pregnant as I was !

The evening, and the drinks, continued and the General, who had been very soft-spoken, was getting more rambunctious with each round that was served. I finally nudged a girl next to me and asked if we could suggest that it was time to eat. She was shocked at the question and stated, in no uncertain terms, that when one was in the presence of a General you had to wait until he gave the “command”.

I sat back and tried to listen to the story-telling but I found myself getting really angry. After all, Dick and I weren’t in the Army...why did we have to wait for the all-mighty OK from the General. Without really thinking about it I gave Dick the eye, rose from my seat and, while patting my stomach, I said, “Thanks a lot, folks. It’s been wonderful but this little one is saying it’s time to go home.”

There was a stunned silence and then, bless his heart, Dick rose too. He gave a farewell salute to the General and we left. “We’ll never get invited again,” he said, “but it was worth it...just to see the look on the old wind-bag’s face.” Then he gave me a big hug.

“Dinner out” became two hot dogs from a street vendor and a long walk home...


Wednesday, September 04, 2013

1943 ...the story continues

Writing about those days in 1943 (when our family entertained British sailors) has made me realize that I was too young to understand the loneliness that so many of those boys must have been experiencing. For me, at age 10, it was a time of great excitement and expectations.

We lived in Wellesley Hills, Mass., quite near the railroad station, and it was a treat to watch the incoming trains from Boston and to see "our boys" arrive. Many of them were based in Boston at the Fargo Naval Base and would come out every weekend or day that they had off. We often had 5 or 6 boys at the same time.

As I mentioned before the officers proved to be unacceptable...very Britishly (is that a word?) proper and no fun at all. We only deviated once away from the sailors. That was to invite two Australian belly gunners to our house. Their names were Happy & Jack and Happy became my special friend. 


When he finally left to go back to action I remember saying "Happy landing" and being very proud of my 10 year old's ability to make a pun of his name. Sadly he was the only one of the entire group that we entertained that was killed. As you can imagine I sorely regretted my parting remark. His friend Jack was shot down too and finally returned to his home, but in an almost vegetated state. Obviously, being on a ship was much safer than being in the air.

The war ended and so did our small contribution but the fond memories will be with me forever.