Friday, March 27, 2020

The power of music ...

The famed Neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks wrote this just days after the September 11th attacks on the Twin Towers.

On my morning bike ride to Battery Park, I heard music as I approached the tip of Manhattan, and then saw and joined a silent crowd who sat gazing out to sea and listening to a young man playing Bach’s Chaconne in D on his violin. When the music ended and the crowd quietly dispersed, it was clear that the music had brought them some profound consolation, in a way that no words could ever have done.
Music, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and profoundly emotional. It has no power to represent anything particular or external, but it has a unique power to express inner states or feelings. Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation. One does not have to know anything about Dido and Aeneas to be moved by her lament for him; anyone who has ever lost someone knows what Dido is expressing. And there is, finally, a deep and mysterious paradox here, for while such music makes one experience pain and grief more intensely, it brings solace and consolation at the same time.”

To me his words are as comforting today as they were back then.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

The waters of Venice

Most of Italy has been on lock-down for weeks due to Covid-19 so, while looking for something uplifting to write about, I was pleased to come upon this article about the waters of Venice.
It reported that “One small silver lining has been reported in Venice. Locals have noticed how clear the water appears perhaps due to the lack of motor boats and general pollution. These clearer waters have even led to wildlife appearing in the canals with swans, fish and more spotted in recent days.”

I was in Venice in 2001 and can attest to the fact that the waters of Venice looked nothing like the picture above. Little as it is this does indeed seem like “one small silver lining” in an otherwise very dreary world.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020


I can barely take in all that is happening to the world right now. It seems like a horrific dream except that I keep waking up. This George Washington quote is the closest I could find to express what I am feeling.

I and my children are in self-imposed quarantine and, although it seems like we are hiding, it is following the CDC requirements and is crucial to our very existence. The deadly corona virus is, indeed, bad company and I agree with the quote … it is better to be alone than in it's company.

I intend to keep on blogging and hope you will too. We may be on lock-down but we are not alone. Sharing how we handle our daily challenges may be just what our readers need.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Me as a "totally bored" teenager

I remember the day (72 years ago) when I complained to my mother that I was “totally bored “. Instead of consoling me she said, “did you ever stop to think that bored people are very boring?” That really took be aback. I wasn't sure what it meant but I did know that it made ME the boring one !

My mother went on to suggest that I visit our neighbor Mrs. Whitely. She was an 87 year old widow who seldom left her house and I couldn't see how that would fix my problem. However it was better than sitting around feeling sorry for myself so I made up a plate of cookies and, reluctantly, made my way across the lawn.

Mrs. Whitely was pleasantly surprised to see me. She invited me in and insisted that we have a tea party to go with the cookies. She told me to make myself comfortable while she prepared it all so I spent the time wandering around the room trying to make sense of everything. I felt like I was in a museum and in actuality I was.

To make a long story short that was the beginning of an amazing friendship.  Mrs. Whitely had been widowed for a long time, but she still had vivid memories of the years that she and her husband  traveled the world for his business. Everything in that room was in remembrance of those years and she was thrilled to share it with me.

When I told her how “totally bored” I had been before coming to see her she (gently) scolded me by saying, “boredom is a luxury that millions in the world do not have. They spend every hour just trying to survive. You must never squander that luxury.”

Now I am the 87 year old widow and I reminisce about those magical days spent with Mrs. Whitely. She was a very wise woman, as was my mother. They taught me that boredom is a trap and the best way to avoid it is to get out of yourself … like visiting a neighbor perhaps ?

Monday, March 09, 2020

Natural disinfectants from household items

Household items like White Vinegar and baking soda are effective disinfectants and much safer to use than the commercial varieties loaded with toxic chemicals. They are also much cheaper. Here are a few examples of their use: 

White Vinegar:

* Use equal parts White Vinegar and water and wash down walls and 
counter tops.  Also effective on interiors such as refrigerators and drawers.

* An excellent window cleaner.

* Clean a coffeemaker by filling the reservoir with a mixture of White
Vinegar and water, Run it through a brewing cycle and follow with
several cycles of water to rinse thoroughly.

* Use ½ teaspoon of White Vinegar in place of 1 teaspoon of lemon
juice in savory recipes.

* Cover rusted tools with White Vinegar and soak for 24 hours. The next
day scrape clean with Brillo. (My late husband swore by this.)

* To kill weeds between cracks in paving stones and sidewalks fill a spray
bottle with straight White Vinegar and spray multiple times on them. 

Baking Soda:

* Erase crayon, pencil and ink from painted surfaces by sprinkling
Baking soda on a damp sponge. Rub clean and rinse.

* Unclog a drain. Pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain. Then
slowly pour ½ cup of White Vinegar after it. Let sit for 5 minutes,
(covered if possible). Follow with a gallon of boiling water.

* If you have marble countertops stick to warm water and baking soda 
to safely disinfect without harming the surface. 

* Settle a stomach during occasional indigestion. Stir ½ teaspoon
baking soda into a1/2 cup of water and drink. (Safer and much less
expensive than otc antacids.

* If you find you are out of toothpaste don't panic. Just dip your tooth
brush in water, sprinkle on baking soda and you're all set.


Thursday, March 05, 2020

I really resent this ...

Recently I watched a “60 Minutes” segment that, literally, had me in tears. No, it wasn't anything political or a world disaster … it was a review of the Broadway remake of the musical “West Side Story” that is currently making it's debut on Broadway.

Why was I so sad? Let me explain ...In 1957 I was living in NY city and thrilled to be attending the opening night of the amazing musical “West Side Story".  It was (and still is) one of my favorite memories. One of the things that I loved about the original show was the raw stage simplicity that allowed the music of Leonard Bernstein to be front and center.

The beauty and the ugliness of NY City were on stark display and I was entranced with the simple set changes that tied it all together. I have never (before or since) seen a musical that touched me as this one did.

The new production of “West Side Storycomes from the mind of Belgian director Ivo van Hove and the glitzy rendition left me not only cold but also very sad. The actors perform on stage as a large and constantly changing movie version is displayed on the backdrop behind then. Combine this with the “over-the-top” choreography and there's little that makes me think of New York City … especially the way it was in the year 1957 when Bernstein wrote about it. ..AND, the final blow, they left out the song “I Feel Pretty".

I guess this shows how petty I can be … but, how dare a Belgian director, known primarily for his Off-Broadway avant-garde experimental theater productions, make an over-the-top masquerade of one of my favorite memories. You bet I'm resentful !