Monday, November 30, 2015

Slingshot Anyone?

So we decided between ourselves to go out on Black Friday. A date – kind of.  Searching for “guy” gifts and hoping we wouldn’t have to go to the next county to get in line at the checkout.

Now let me tell you a bit about the first place we hit, Harbor Freight. The scent of it smacks you in the kisser when you waltz through the door. It sends most men into a swoon and most women looking to get out fast. I’m talking metal shavings, concrete floor, oil can and hot off the presses sale flyer kind of odors. I have to mentally prep each time we visit.

Once inside, he went his way and I went mine. I will say that this store is great when it comes to freebies. It’s little stuff but good stuff and with coupon in hand you’re likely to score a cool item or two. Like flashlights, screwdriver sets, and zippy little tape measures.

And then there are the slingshots.

Now what, you say? That’s where this wandering woman wound up last Friday. Gazing in amazement at a display of Daisy metal and rubber slingshots. Wow, I thought. These are allowed? And just at that instant I also thought of King David. You know, the kid who killed Goliath. Before he was king, of course. If he’d been standing beside me, he’d have  been doing the “Gonna Gettum” happy dance. This slingshot was a thing of beauty. Black and yellow sitting there in its bubble package like an angry wasp. Big, honking rubber strap with a pad at the end to hold Philistine hammering rocks. Whew.

“Can I have it, Aunt Sue? Please? Please?”

Aunt Sue groans.

And then I glanced further down the shelf and what did I see? Blood pressure cuffs. Little ones. The kind you can carry with you and will fit on your wrist. The kind that David’s mother might have found useful. Poor woman.

“David! Enough with the quails already. Put. Down. The. Slingshot."

“Aw, Ma.”

“I mean it. Your dad brought me six yesterday and now there are ten more plopped on the table this morning. It’s not like I can freeze them for later or something.”

And then she remembers the time he “accidentally” clonked his brother in the knee out in the sheep pen putting him out of commission for a week. She made David, only six, take Jeb’s place that week as punishment. Poor sheep.

And on it went until the Philistine’s became a global threat increasing his mother’s need for that nifty blood pressure wrist thingy. And finally David sneaked out on her one morning to make history. If only he’d had that awesome Daisy slingshot the whole of the Philistine army might have gone down.

Anyway. These are the crazy thoughts that a Black Friday excursion can bring about when a woman is faced with slingshots and blood pressure apparatus in a “guy” store.

We got out of there with a good many gift items. But not the slingshot. Instead I snagged that blood pressure cuff. Anybody know David’s mom’s address?

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, November 23, 2015

Our First Poet

 Did you know that America’s first poet was a woman named Anne Dudley Bradstreet? She’s been a great inspiration to the poet in me and I wonder if we could have spoken about it. Since we’re separated by about 368 years it would be difficult. But let me tell you about her.

She came to this country from England with her family in 1647 at the age of 17 and  had already been married, for two years, to Simon Bradstreet. The four ships they traveled with only took two months to get to New England’s shores and when they arrived it was beyond different. And kind of scary. We were a vast wilderness then and the amenities she was used to were scarce. Still, she bent herself to God’s will, dug in her heels and survived.

She began having children at the age of sixteen and subsequently bore Simon eight of them. Back in the day the edge of the wilderness was at the end of your post and rail fence and it took a lot of inner moxie to keep your wits about you.

The thing is, because her husband was of high position and frequently away, she nearly raised those children herself (well, he must have been there at least eight nights – right?). When she wasn’t caring for them, she was busy fending off disease and hostile neighbors. And have you ever looked at a really old cookbook? They beat their eggs with tied up twigs for crying out loud. Plus they were robins eggs and it took forever to get enough together for an omelet.

In her “spare” time she wrote poetry and did it so well that she had her work published. Okay, her brother back in England published it and it wasn’t considered wonderful but she got a lot better in subsequent years. Probably wrote with goose quills and squid ink, too. She waxed poetic mostly about her husband and children. She called her children her little birds and penned a charming poem about them in 1659 titled “In Reference to Her Children”. In fairness to Simon, records show that he adored her and wrote this about her.

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye woman, if you can.

She was our country’s first poet – an incredible woman. A stained glass window in her honor hangs in St. Botolph’s Church in Boston. That’s her in the picture at top.

I’ll be breaking for Thanksgiving – I’m cooking for 15. I hope yours is blessed, filled with good things, and great love.

Monday, November 16, 2015

12 Perfect Hours

Sometimes, when someone gives you a gift, they don’t realize what they’ve done. A case in point was the Christmas gift my son and his wife gave to me this year - early.  It was a uniquely American experience.

It began with an early morning train ride, a normal thing for many commuters, but not this girl. I haven’t been on a train in decades. We hopped on in Hudson and hopped off at Penn Station in NYC two hours later. The city that never sleeps, world renowned, a lure to tourists and terrorists worldwide. Um – okay – forget that last part. Keeping it positive here.

We surged out of the train station and the sun was at our backs as we tromped the streets of Manhattan. It was Sunday but still there were people all the heck over the place. Cement canyons galore. Vendors of every stripe. As in, “real” cashmere scarves for ten bucks a pop or - your bargain of the day - 3 for $25. Such a deal. We forged on for ten or twelve blocks and then I looked up and saw the big “R”. We’d arrived at our destination – Radio City Music Hall.

Ever heard of it? Ha, ha. I know you have and I was there with family and friends to see the Rockettes. Ever heard of them? Well, I have and all my life, too. I felt like a ten year old. The. Christmas. Show.  Are you with me here?

I took the picture up there in the corner out on the street where it hung on the Radio City building. We were a little early so we met Katy’s Aunt Gail for a late lunch just around the corner at Bill’s Bar & Burger. Excellent burgers and I indulged in a chocolate shake for which they are renowned. It was right up there on the Yummy Scale.

Afterwards we hit the street again and were soon shepherded into the theater where we were greeted by this sight.

Some Christmas tree, huh? Glass crystals and towering above it all. Anna (granddaughter) said, “I want that in my room.” So, of course, I’ll get it for her. And I told her so as we looked for Row Q and the eight seats reserved just for our crew. We settled into this theater world of draped stage and a thousand lights. Red everywhere. Snowflakes dancing across the ceiling where it seemed as though voices whispered, “Hey, you’re in for a treat!”

And then – the lights lowered, the orchestra began the overture and when 24 reindeer pranced onto the stage my throat nearly closed up. Suddenly the millions of people all over the world who would love to be sitting where I was popped into my head. Oh, New York. I thought of Mom. She would so have loved to see this. She who was enamored of all things classy and beautiful and Big City.  My eyes were glued to the lovely young women with long legs, cheerful smiles, rhythm and grace who gotta dance. 

I won’t bore you into a coma with a review of every scene but near the end of performance an astonishingly beautiful Nativity – with live animals and everything – strode across the stage to the strains of “The First Noel”. Nearly all of the babble sounds from the audience ceased as the Wise Men presented their gifts. God was in the room and I’m pretty sure He approved.  

Sadly, at the ninth hour of our trip, it was time to leave the beauty and dazzle of the theater and think about getting on the train again. Lined up waiting for the crowd were Pedicabs willing to transport passengers around town. So the three of us needing to get back to Penn Station decided to go for it. What fun! Those guys really know how to haul. We three goofy women offered a queen’s wave to the crowds as we passed. In ten minutes we were at the station and a few more had us back on the train heading for home, tired and happy.

So what do I think of my Christmas gift? Well, how many people do you know who get to experience 12 perfect hours? Ever.

Thank you, Katy and Eric. Love you so much.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Trivia Bits

Feeling a little blog lazy today, but thought you might enjoy some interesting bits of trivia I’ve come across lately. Kind of amazing, some of it.

1.    Clean snow melts more slowly than dirty snow.  Like – who watched the snow long enough to find out?
2.    Boiling an ostrich egg takes 40 minutes. Eat one and you’ll have consumed 2000 calories.  And if you make egg salad sandwiches with it you need 4 gallons of mayo. I just made that last part up. But still.
3.    Like eggplant? Almost all of it (2/3) is grown in New Jersey. Wow, go Garden State.
4.    There are no squirrels in Australia. !!! They can have some of ours. Really.
5.    Johnny Depp has a fear of clowns. And yet, and yet – he works in film. Go figure.
6.    Camels are thirsty critters. They can gulp down 500 cups of water in ten minutes. Did you know that? Me neither.
7.    Gorillas burp when they are happy. Anyone else married to a gorilla?
8.    Sheep outnumber people in New Zealand. Is that good or Baa-d news for the census takers?
9.    The parachute was invented before the airplane. Aw, c'mon!
10. Thomas Edison was afraid of the dark. Thus, the light bulb.

Have a great weekend. Full of fun and frolic. Okay?

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, November 9, 2015


Yesterday I was held captive while traveling to and from the movies. My granddaughter, Anna, was with me and we were on our way to see "The Peanuts Movie". You might argue, since I was the driver, that I held her captive, but no, it was the other way round. Here’s how it all went down.

Me: Okay, Anna, it’s time. You get to ask me three questions.

Anna: (groans) Oh, this is hard.

Me: Oh, c’mon. I always ask you questions (it’s the only way to get something out of them). Isn’t there anything you want to know about me? Think how long I’ve lived – all that history.

Anna: (groans) Okay, I’m thinking. But then will you tell me a story?

Me: (groaning – I know what this means) Okay, okay, what’s your first question?

She asked me four and right now they escape me, but I dutifully answered and then she said . . .

“Now tell me a story.”

“A true one, or one I make up?” (I know what this means)

“A true one.”

So I dig out the big blue box marked “Memory Bank” and this is what I told her.

One summer, when I was a young teen I ordered a makeup sampler that I found in the back of a magazine. I was sure those dabs of blusher and lipstick (Candy Pink) would make all the difference in the world when it was time to return to school and WOW all my friends with how I’d changed over the summer. Then, after a whole week of waiting with no delivery, I began to stalk the mailman. The poor guy.

We lived where the he walked his route and I knew just about the time he came every day. Our black metal box was right outside the front door – the one with the glass curtained window – and I’d peek through that curtain as he walked up and deposited our stash for the day.

Day after day I was disappointed. No makeup sampler. Still, my eagerness grew. I just knew it would be in that mail delivery tomorrow and I took up my station daily.

My dogged espionage-like activity did not go unnoticed by my sisters. They knew what I was waiting for and why I hogged the spot by the door at mail time every day. So, one afternoon as I took up my post, one of them (I think it was Shari) tiptoed up behind me just as the mailman approached the box.

I stood still as an oak. I barely breathed. I pulled the curtain aside ever so slightly so as to see whether my long awaited makeup sampler was finally being delivered, when . . .

That rotten sister of mine grabbed the curtain and flipped it up. Way up – so that the mailman and I made astonished eye contact with each other for about six seconds.

I was momentarily stupefied but then I made the same sound as Charlie Brown did in the movie yesterday in his iconic football scene. Arrrrggggg!

It got real ugly after that. Sister on sister violence  was rarely reported in those days and I didn’t enlighten Anna about what happened next. Suffice it to say both Shari and I lived to tell the tale and lo, these many years later, we laugh about It. Actually, she was laughing her head off at the time, too, greatly increasing my wrath.

So you see? I was a captive in the car yesterday – to memory. And now my granddaughter has something to put in her “Memory Bank” although hers is probably orange like the bag she had her movie money in. And it’s not very full – yet.

What’s in your Memory Bank?

Image: vectorolie                                                Free Digital Photos

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Beloved Things

As I perused my old files this morning, I came upon this post from last year. I thought it worthy of repeating as my sentiments about the topic remain. I hope it touches a cord in you. Have a wonderful weekend. 

Who You Take With You

When I stand at my dresser in front of my  open jewelry box every morning there’s a brief moment or two when I must decide what reminder to take with me that day. Shall it be the small gold cross that my husband gave me when our youngest son was born? Or perhaps the bracelet my best bud Karen gave me? It’s a magnetic shimmering little bit of a thing and it’s supposed to help if you have arthritis. Which I do and it’s most pronounced in my wrists.

You see, ever since I was a teen I’ve loved wearing other people’s things. It could be because we were so poor and hand-me-downs were the order of the day. Mom would get boxes of clothes and shoes from well meaning relatives and we’d plow through them to pull out the gems. And I got it in my head that other people’s belongings were somehow more trendy, expensive, tasteful – whatever – than what we owned. I remember one dress I wore all the time in high school. It had a paisley pattern in muted colors and the style was only a few  years out of date. Was it an aunt who had given it? I can’t remember but I loved wearing it.

When Mom died back in 2011 my sisters and I took on the duty of cleaning out her apartment. Tough gig. You must touch everything your mother owned. We had to decide which of those things we wanted for our own. I took the picture of the angel. She’d always loved that print and I’d found it in a catalog and sent it to her one year for Christmas. It’s in the room where I’m writing this. Hey, Mom. I also took some scarves – my granddaughters love them – and a denim jacket that is my first choice on a chilly day. Washes up like a dream.

The bulk of my jewelry has been given to me, mostly by other women. I love these women. A dash of brightness in my ears, at my wrist or around my neck reminds me of their friendship. I imagine them standing at a craft fair table or a counter at Kohl’s or our local gift shop. They’re thinking of me and I know how that feels because I do it, too. But they’ve bothered to take the time to consider their choices and find something to please a friend. How cool is that?  

So who shall I take with me today? My daughter-in- law Heather gave me a pair of silver double hoops. Casual, easy to slip in and goes with everything. Probably those. I’ll take Heather with me today.

Can you relate?

Photo: I'm smack in the middle. My sisters and me on our 2011 getaway to Savannah.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Critter Trouble

We have chipmunks. Have had for many years. There’s a whole enclave of them under the front porch and over the years they’ve set up quite a community just inside the cellar wall. I know this because I’ve seen their stash of maple “helicopters” in that corner of the cellar - it runneth over. Chipmunks are real slobs.

Ew. Maybe that’s a bit harsh. Probably Mrs. Chipmunk (and there have been many, I’m sure) is a neat and tidy little miss. But the Mister and his boys are a rowdy bunch. Like the time this past August when my own Mister and I sat on the patio with a cool drink as is our custom just before we pop something onto the grill. Suddenly there was a great rustle in the bushes.

Two brash young munks tore out from under the greenery and chased each other across the yard and back. They scurried onto a pile of cinder blocks we’d plopped under a tree, turned on each other and put up their dukes. Squiddly –do-do. Little fists flying, a couple of cool insults shot between them and then they were off again. Quite entertaining.

Now it’s November and this morning, as we came to life after a long winter’s nap, there was a “thud!” downstairs coming from front porch area. My man threw back the covers, pulled on his sweats and sallied forth to defend our domicile.

I highly suspect it was one of the Munk brothers. At it again. Probably one of them was about to knock on the front door to ask for some sugar for his cereal when “Wham!” he was tackled from behind by a sibling and clonked his head on the door. Hearing the man charge down the stairs frightened the critters and the were gone before he hit the landing. Cereal with no sugar coming right up.

As much trouble as the boys are, I think the girl chippers are spies. Oh, yeah. I hear their scritchy little feet in the walls. I do. I follow the noise and pound on the plaster to let them know I’m up and moving. Hardly scares them at all but I know what they’re up to. I highly suspect they watch me while I put on my face every morning. I’m sure they find it highly amusing – “She sooo needs a new shade of lip color, Clarice, don’t you think?” Little snots. They fear no such criticism since they know they’ll be cute all their lives without needing an ounce of Maybelline

We have chipmunks.  About now we’re ready and willing to give them your address because we’re thinking of putting the whole dang enclave on the market. They'll need a new home. Let me know if you’re interested. Please .... please .... please