Monday, October 30, 2017

Staying in October

Tomorrow is Halloween. Once all the ghosties and gholies have come and gone there will be a non-stop roll towards Christmas with only a brief pause at Thanksgiving. This means that Fall, our romantic version of it, will fast fade as we dream instead of frosted window panes, winter moons, babies in mangers and jingling bells. But just for a moment I want to stay in autumn and I always turn to music to help me do that. Wanna come along?

Jo Stafford was a singer from the 1940’s and 50’s whose exceptional voice graced us with “Moonlight in Vermont” found here:
Her clarity of tone wrings every bit of emotion from lyrics that take us right out under that moon. Makes me want to hop in the car, drive east and stroll beneath trees shivering out of their red, orange and gold leaves. I’ll snug my warm sweater up under my chin and trace the lacy patterns of clouds drifting across the darkening sky. Thanks, Jo. 

Nat King Cole renders a poignant version of “The Autumn Leaves” here:
His voice is one of those, that when it makes you sigh, that sighs says everything because words fail. What a gracious gifted man and singer we had in him. When he sings this romantic song everything about autumn, all that we love, comes and kisses us on the cheek. Roger Williams piano version is also beautiful, but it’s hard to beat Nat.

Barry Manilow gives us a bittersweet goodbye to October in “When October Goes”  Oh, my goodness. I just love this song . So much so that I only listen to it a couple of times a year and only at the end of October. I never want it to seem tired or worn. I hate to see October go just as much as Barry does. That little ache in his voice says it all.

I know November has its own sort of loveliness and I’ll be all about the holidays in a week or two. But for today I’m still hanging around in autumn. I hope you get a chance to listen to these or whatever else might help you stay there for a while.

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, October 23, 2017

Some Stuff You Should Know

I am fascinated by the origins of words and phrases and also quirky facts about our world.  Today I thought I’d share some of my finds with you. I’ll bet you can’t wait. Here goes.

EVOO – Okay, that’s not exactly a word or phrase, but it’s an acronym put into the Oxford American College Dictionary in 2006 because of its frequent us by Food Network star, Rachel Ray. It stands for extra virgin olive oil. Yeah, no, don’t say E-voo like some arrogant cow trying to impress you with her foreign accent. You say each letter so it kind of sounds like one word. Just listen to Rachel.  

Nerd – This word was coined by Dr. Seuss when he gave the name to one of his oddball creatures way back in the day. They were all that way, with their unruly tufts of hair everywhere, don’t you think? Perhaps I’ll start making up a word here or there and see how many stick. My first attempt? Blurf. I’ll imagine what it means in a minute.

Enervated – Ha! This does NOT mean full of energy. It means drained of energy. Sure does sound like the opposite, though, right? Well, the next time you say it, drape your hand over your brow and hang onto the nearest chair or counter. Nothing like maximum drama to illustrate a word's true meaning. “I am enervated beyond belief by this pile of laundry.” Ask the arrogant cow if you might borrow her accent, too. As you glide to the floor you’ll impress everyone.

Jump on the bandwagon – In the late 18th and early 19th century horse drawn wagons, carrying a band (imagine that) were used by circuses, in parades and during political campaigns. And who wouldn’t love to be invited to “jump on” and join the fun? Every Tom Sawyer and Jane Finn out there, that’s who. Of course that meant you were all in for the clowns, drum majorettes, and the mayor. I once jumped on the “Spam for everyone!” bandwagon and have yet to live it down. Ugh.

Have a baby? Get a pet – This I read in a recent Reader’s Digest. Canadian researchers found that babies one to three months old living in homes with furry pets that carry high levels of (hang on while I type these loooong words) Oscillospira and /or Ruminococcus, gut microbes, have a lower risk of allergies and obesity. Hello, Fido! My father-in-law’s maxim of “You have to eat a pound of dirt before you die” kind of fits in with this study. In my mind anyway.

So, that’s probably enough continuing education for you right now. Go ahead and add to the list, though, if you’d like to and have time. I’m all ears.

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, October 16, 2017

Charlie, Ichabod and Wind

That song that’s not about Christmas will be creeping up on us soon. You know the one  “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens . .” Maybe we associate it with the holidays because we all have favorite things that come to mind when a new season is upon us? Dunno. Anyway my favorite things list is long and seems to begin climbing the peak about now because summer has nearly completed her annual striptease and awaits the kiss of autumn – that naughty boy. She’s asked me to share some things on my list for October.

Ichabod and Charlie – I broke down and bought DVD’s of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”. I’ve loved them both for many years. Charlie and I go way back. I was 16 when the Pumpkin debuted on television – yes, smarty pants -they had television back then. It was a greatly anticipated event and it didn’t disappoint. That pumpkin patch, mouthy Lucy, Snoopy with his WWI obsession. And, of course, the no show of the Great Pumpkin himself made this cartoon what it is today, a national treasure.

Ichabod and I go back even further than that. When I was in elementary school, living in Southern California, we only had one car. If Mom needed it for the day, she would drive Dad to work in the morning and sometimes one or more of us would go with her in the evening to pick him up. On the way we’d pass through a section of town we dubbed “spooky hollow” which amounted to a dip in the road and a clump of trees. It was all we had and our homage to the Disney special about Ichabod and his encounter with the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow. We loved plopping in front of the television to watch it every Halloween. Now I live in upstate New York where autumn is on full display every October and actually live in the Ichabod Crane School District. Huh.

Wind – My favorite kind of weather. Not of hurricane proportions, but the kind that almost makes you think God is speaking to you. Whirling around tree trunks and rattling our old shutters, it’s a reminder that another kind of weather is headed our way and why the heck don’t you have the storm windows up yet? We only have the two in the kitchen. I’ll get to them. Soon as God gives the word.

Sweaters – Early last week I pulled open the bottom drawer of the dresser in the spare room and there they were. I drew back the tissue paper I’d covered them with last spring and grinned. The teal blue one, the red one, the black one with tiny cardinals on the front. They spoke to me, “Hey, sister, time to think about getting us out of here. Did you hear that wind last night?” I took the teal one out and told the others to pipe down –for just a few more weeks.

From here I could rhapsodize about the big bags of Halloween candy on sale at CVS. Snack size Snickers, Almond Joy, Kit Kat's and hardly any calories if you only eat ONE. I could go on and on about the big pile of pie Wiapples in the bowl on the kitchen table or the whopping pan of lasagna I made for company the other day. The heat from the oven warmed the house nicely. It’s not quite time to crank up the furnace. I’ll save that for November.

Now – I’m guessing you have some things on your favorites list too. Brown paper packages tied up with string perhaps? We'd love to know. 

Image : Free Digital Photos

Monday, October 2, 2017

Oh, Masterpiece

Masterpiece Reviews

I’m a big fan of Masterpiece Theater. Especially the mysteries, but also some of the historical fiction. Here are my opinions on two of them.

Poldark – Ross Poldark is a scar faced (be still my heart) British soldier returned home to Cornwall from fighting in the American Revolution. He finds his fiancĂ©, Elizabeth, engaged to his cousin, Francis, and his estate in ruins. And you think you have it rough. But, because he’s our hero, he forges on and eventually marries Demelza his servant girl. He’s remains besotted with Elizabeth, is determined to re-open an old mine on his property, becomes involved with smuggling and there are side plots, too. This all from the first season and it was just okay. Ross scowls a lot. A. Lot. Maybe that’s the reason for the “dark” after the “Pol”? I dunno. But he does even more of it in the second season where we’re bombarded for two hours with all the women’s problems. Such as jealously. Ross sneaked out and slept with Elizabeth in season one and – surprise! Demelza didn’t like it. She smacked him a good one upside the head to show him, too. And then the pregnancy. Whose baby did Elizabeth deliver – her husband’s – Ross’ mortal enemy - or does the wailing infant belong to Ross? And then there were war ships lost at sea with two of the other characters, the doctor’s wife and Elizabeth’s cousin, having husbands aboard. Oh, no! Are they alive or will Carolyn and Verity become widows – possibly on the same day! Oh, no! I’m sorry, this kind of stuff makes me glad I had my Kindle in hand and a Spider Solitaire game going. Yes, I could have changed the channel, but I just kept hoping it would get better. Like another mine explosion or Errol Flynn emerging from Sherwood Forest to capture Demelza's heart (so there, Ross!). Something. 

Grantchester – A little better. But this time there’s a brooding vicar and we’ve moved forward a century or two to 1953. The love of his life has also abandoned him to marry another, but at least Sydney Chambers and his police officer buddy, Geordie, have murder as a distraction. Grantchester is the name of this fictitious little town near Cambridge, England, and it’s full of charming characters who have it in for each other. Really, what would Sydney do if he couldn’t help out here? Oh, yeah. He smokes and drinks and pines for Amanda, the heiress he can’t have and he occasionally gives a tortured sermon. But then someone is murdered. Whew! Let’s get to the meat of the show here and shove personal problems aside for a bit - please. But, all in all, once you get all the characters straight (which his new assistant isn’t – though he struggles with it), this one can be enjoyed. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out whodunit but I don’t glance at my Kindle nearly as often whilst I'm trying to figure it out.  

Maybe I’m past the age where I can appreciate yet another female giving birth for our viewing pleasure or men scowling and lusting or horse and rider dashing along seaside cliffs. Or perhaps it’s just that these two fall short of my expectations. I’m much more inclined to love Sherlock, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre or Downton Abbey. All of which were superbly done in my estimation. Thank you Masterpiece!

So, there ya go. Any thoughts? 

Image: Free Digital Photos