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Showing posts from July, 2013

Golden Lady

Back in catholic high school, we had a retreat where we watched a movie about a sweet young college girl.  One day, the girl heard some jazz music, saw a clarinet player on stage in a bar, and the next thing you knew, the girl was drinking, smoking and doing some other clearly non-catholic things. Later in our all-girls class, the nun explained the movie to us by saying that the musician was Satan, the clarinet was a phallic symbol, and we would probably end up in Hell if we dated musicians.  She stressed that drum sticks, guitar necks, and anything that could be squeezed, stroked or blown into was a phallic symbol and should be avoided at all costs.

I spent the better part of a week reading Webster's Dictionary trying to figure out what the heck a phallic symbol was. There was no spell-check back then so I  concentrated my search on words that started with the letter "F" not "PH". And I was a little shocked when I finally found it.  Let's face it, I doubt S…

Put Me In Coach, I'm Ready to Play Today

When I was eleven years old, I dreamed that The Beatles bus would break down in front of my house.  The Beatles would knock at the door, ask to use the phone, and when Paul McCartney saw me, he would demand that I join him on their tour.  Today, I dream about finding a full-time job with benefits.

I think the Beatles dream, even with two of them dead, has a better chance of happening.

Looking back, I've had some freaking wonderful jobs in my life.  I was the candy buyer for a major department store where I traveled to Europe to sample and buy the finest chocolates and cookies in the world.  I also worked for two of the largest European candy companies.  Wingman got to see me in action with one of them on our honeymoon in Italy,when he was permitted to sit in on my presentation to the president and CEO for a new holiday collection. A year later, as I was awarded the #1 salesperson for America at our international sales meeting, he was sunning himself poolside in Sorrento with the bik…

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

I remember a brain teaser in grade school where you had to figure out how to get three cannibals and three missionaries across a river in a small boat built for only two passengers.  To prevent a disaster, there can never be more cannibals than missionaries together.
Somehow, I always think of my brothers as the cannibals and me rowing the boat. I never worry about the missionaries-I just have to make sure the cannibals don't try to kill each other.
I am the oldest of five siblings. Until my parents added onto our house, we were wall-to-wall kids with the four oldest sleeping in one bedroom of a two bedroom house.  Maybe that's where the problems started-I slept alone in a cot, my sister had a crib and the boys had to share a bed.  After the house addition and with the arrival of the last baby, the now three boys bunked together in what definitely wasn't the city of brotherly love.  At dinner, we needed rotating seats, because my brothers could never sit next to each othe…

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

A couple of weeks ago, I made a young woman cry.  Not just cry-first she teared up, then sobbed, then wailed, THEN threw herself down in dramatic fashion in loud, convulsive gasps.

And I'm surely going to Hell because I did it in church.

It all started when the music director at my church made a plea for musicians to join the bell choir. She said bells were easy-all you need to know is how to count to four.  Sometimes only three.  No problem-just like when I told Wingman I could play tennis. Sure, I had a tennis racket in the back of the closet that I won at a work picnic. Sure, I had a couple of tennis balls that we use to throw to the dog.  What could be so hard about a hitting the ball over the net? Two hours later, a frustrated Wingman told me I needed to find a new sport. I apologized for my teeny little fib, and he took me for a drink.


Admittedly,  I don't have a musical bone in my body, and had no business joining this bell choir. I never learned to play an instrument as …

Luck Be a Lady Tonight

It is true that I have been on a losing streak since last summer.  Casino Craps bosses would take the dice away after the number of snake eyes I can throw in a row and send me packing to their competition. It's bad for business to have a loser on the tables.

So what does a person do who has broken the mirror, while walking under a ladder, with a black cat in in her arms wearing an open umbrella hat?

She buys lottery tickets.



I admit to having bought them in the past.  I even ran the office lottery pool at work for a few years.  We had the windows on the big bus all clean and shiny so when we won, we could moon the executives as we left. 

Come to think of it, three of the biggies were in the pool as well.

While I was living with my folks, my dad would be the instigator.  He would have his tickets out, and ask me to check to see if he won.  When I told him to save the nitroglycerin-he wasn't a winner, he'd whisper so my mother wouldn't hear "Wanna go in on Friday's t…

Auuuggghpricots

One trug full made this many, plus a quart or a pint and a half of syrup being reduced right now. So, guessing about the half-liter jars, about 11 pints.

It's unattractively whiny of me, but I'm starting to be the least little bit tired of canning apricots.


Now I'm going to unload the dishwasher and make zucchini bread.

Undeserved Abundance

Sometimes people new to gardening ask me questions that suggest they're actually kind of frightened of the whole enterprise: "But isn't it hard?" "I'm afraid of starting with seeds." "What if I mess up?"

The last one usually makes me laugh. My gardening adventures are sort of a lurch from mess up to mess up. For instance, while taking a walk today and seeing zinnias all over, I realized that none of my flowers, not even the stalwart sunflowers, sprouted. That's probably because of my ongoing irrigation problems. Mess up!!

What I tell neophytes, and what I've been telling myself over the last week or so, is that the garden and you are on the same side. Seeds want to grow, plants want to bear, and you presumably want the same thing.

That's a teensy bit more difficult to hold in my consciousness when it seems that what the garden wants to do is to bury me under a groaning mass of unrelenting harvests. But why complain?

The Blenheim aprico…

Torn Between Two Lovers

I was married to Wingman for 30 years and dated him for another six prior, before I gave him the "marry-me-or-hit-the-highway" ultimatum.  Which didn't leave many other years to date. But I did have a first love. A high school first love who committed suicide last week.

I met him through my brother-they played on the same summer baseball team.  He was a hell of a shortstop-he lettered in high school as a freshman.  His dad died when he was young, so he was raised along with two brothers and a sister by his sweet little Japanese mom.  Being half Asian, his looks were exotic, and with his long shiny black hair, just a little bit dangerous-so different from the Catholic School boys I saw every day.  He was three months younger than me which put him a year behind me in school. Imagine-me a cougar-in-training back then.


After high school, we grew apart.  I was Little Jackie Paper and he was Puff the Magic Dragon. I went to fashion school to be a department store buyer. He just …

Brilliant Repurposing

At least that's what Ellie called it.

220 yards of spindle-spun-and-plyed baby camel and silk. I needed to use all kinds of kitchen tools to get it from the spindle to the skein holder, which is also somewhat jury-rigged. In the absence of the 1" dowels, salad tools worked fine.

Odd how months of spinning, in odd moments, and often forgotten, wound off the cop, whooshing on the hook in the tea cup, in less time than it takes to take pictures.

220 isn't enough to do a lot, but there is much more left unspun, and much spun but not plied. It's a satisfying project.





Color My World

It's no joke when I say that what Queen Elizabeth in 1992 called her "Annus Horribilis" was nothing compared to what I went through in 2012.  So what if three of her kids separated and/or divorced and one of her daughters-in-law wrote a tell-all book? Big deal that she had a castle fire and had to charge admission at Buckingham Palace to pay for it!  Didn't she still have her husband (pompous, arrogant jerk that he is), a job that's only requirement is to wear pretty party hats and a couple of other castles to escape to?

From July to the middle of October, there were days that I felt pretty good about my life and where it was going.  I had great friends and family who were constantly there for me, my oldest son and daughter-in-law were expecting right around my birthday and I found out that I was going to be a grandmother for the second time this April, complements of son and daughter-in-law number two. Then, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, my world was picked u…

Grazing in the (Crab)Grass

One of the things that my Wingman was the best at was maintaining the yard and especially his pristine lawn.  I mean it, that grass stood at attention when he went outside.  If the NY Yankees' grounds crew had ever done a flyover of our yard, it might have garnered him a new career. I however, chose to be on a need to know basis only-I just needed to know the grass was green while he mulched, de-grubbed, sprayed and spread "stuff'. 

If he wasn't already dead, Superstorm Sandy would have killed him.  Forget that there was three feet of water everywhere inside the house.  Wingman would have had a heart attack seeing the mud that covered the Arborvitae. Lumber, marsh reeds and trash was everywhere.  All the beach grasses were smashed from floating debris.  The tree that sent out shoots that he cursed every spring was uprooted and perched precariously on the deck and roof, preventing us leaving by the back door.  And when the service came to take down that tree, the crane…

Miss Congeniality

Before last summer, I was someone's Miss America.  Someone chosen as his best of the best.  And, for a brief time, I think I'm safe to say that my sons also thought of me as their Miss America, or at least the best of the peanut-butter-and-jelly-set moms.  Two of them are married now and their wives wear the crown.  My youngest has a girlfriend who is taller, thinner and prettier than I ever was.  Everyone I know is someone's Miss America...but not me anymore.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to go out on a Friday night and headed to a local church carnival.  Walking alone with my snow cone,
I mused about the teenagers mixing and mingling with excited hopes of finding that first love, the young moms and dads taking pictures of their kids on the rides, the senior citizens holding each others arms as they maneuvered over cables and curbs.  It was a raucous smoky crowded night and I was a little depressed being alone.


I was surprised when my phone rang and I saw that it was my …

One Is The Loneliest Number...

Growing up, there were seven people in my family sharing a three bedroom, one bath home.  At college, I lived with three girls in a one-bedroom NYC walk-up.  I shared my first post-college apartment with my best friend, and when she got married, my boyfriend/future husband moved in.  We raised three active sons who for the most part stayed close to the family. As dysfunctional as we all might have been, there was some comfort in having someone around to at least tell you that you were dragging toilet paper on your shoe or had spinach in your teeth.
Last summer was the first time it was just me hanging without a safety net. Rebuilding after Sandy, I taught myself how to use a hammer without
causing too much damage and even a cordless drill/screwdriver (instead of a butter knife) But that's when I discovered that there are just some things I couldn't do (or do easily) without my Wingman.

The first was trying to cut off a plastic wristband after a day at the beach.  Do you know th…

Three Times a Lady (Or how this blog got started)

It's 18 days short of a year since my IRS status changed from "Married" to "Head of Household". Most of the house is different now-no Yankee games on TV, no dirty dishes in the sink, no vodka bottles hidden in the garage.

My husband of 30 years passed away of a pulmonary embolism; a complication of brain surgery after a long battle with alcoholism. The night he passed, I went to the hospital with a buttered hard roll for him: his healing brain had reverted back to his NYC commuting days when he'd grab a coffee and a roll for his bus ride to his film editing job. 
As he drank his coffee and ate his roll, we argued about him wanting to go home with me.  He had not yet relearned how to walk, so the aides were moving him back and forth to a chair (his bus seat) and we all had hopes of being able to move him to a rehab facility.  Five hours later, an doctor called to say something was wrong, but not to come. Ten minutes later, another call and this time please hu…

June and July, how they fly

I make up blog posts in my head. This generally happens while I'm puttering on something -- picking berries alone, picking beans, cooking, and the only drawback to this is that moving the post from my head to the computer is often not done.

And thus, the portmanteau post. Imagine gorgeous, reflective prose about each of these events. Instead of the long, thoughtful disquisition on patience, and ripeness, and busyness, and preserving moments in jam jars, I give you annotated pictures.


June starts birthdays. Denise got a chocolate-peanut-butter triple layer cake, smuggled to the park in a box for surprising purposes.


Somebody turned eight in July -- and her strawberry cream cake, from Cook's Illustrated, was made with two days' worth of homegrown Tristar berries. Not only did it feed family, friends, and cousins, but some of us may have had slices for breakfast the following day(s). Ahem.

Ignoring the fact that the Blenheim apricot trees are simply loaded for bear, and I'm g…