Friday, August 28, 2015

Ain't She Sweet?

In earlier days I wrote about my previous refrigerator. Public enemy No. 1. We tended to refer to it as "our new refrigerator", although it, together with our other "new" appliances was installed in 2000. Time flies.

Oh the trouble we had with melting rubber hoses, replacement hoses that didn't work and a noisy compressor which was good for 2 weeks or 2 years, according to Rick. No water and no ice either.

So a couple of weeks ago this lovely appliance found it's way into the kitchen. It had to be counter depth, but the freezer is on the bottom, and there have been all kinds of improvements in the last 15 years. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Look at all the space. I can put big platters of food in it for a party. I wanted to show a photo of the fridge with food arranged tastefully (no pun intended). But a few minutes after I took the photo of the empty appliance, my son and four children arrived. I sent them to the basement to bring up the food I had stored in the basement refrigerator and we shoved it randomly in this beauty. Now they have left and the refrigerator is plundered. I have to decide where everything is to go. Eggs on the left? Pickles on the right? Problems again. But at least water and ice are dispensed from the door rather than the floor.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

This is Ridiculous

If I have no problem, I will create one. It was some time ago that I marked my 10th anniversary, proudly announced I would return—and disappeared off the face of the earth. There were reasons: prior to an iteration of each real or imagined reason I had sketched out a post, written a witty title, researched photos and then I came to a withering halt.

There was the title "The Summer of my Discontent". Not as witty as I imagined, but it did come a fair way to describe a summer which started off cold and so rainy that weeds had their unfettered way with my flower garden. A nice reversal—flowers eventually choked out most of the weeds, but I never bothered to remove the remainder. We did get a few days of the stifling heat and humidity of a typical Detroit summer and today it was so chilly I was looking for a sweater.

We had our usual share of visitors. I had plenty of warning, but I have lost my touch. They were all family of various degrees, all spoke English and all were helpful. The days of screamers and seas of diapers are over. Now I need to find a way to put food into the mouths of teenagers (and I have to remember that "pre-teens" get ravenously hungry too!) I don't have the words to thank my three daughters and their husbands who helped me with meals. Put it the other way round: I occasionally helped them. The weather co-operated with us, so for the most part the kids could use up their energy, and work up an appetite in the pool. A visit from grandchildren would not seem right without an out-door movie. This year it was Breaking Away, which brought forth memories of the 70's for some of us and smiles at the bits of messed up Italian from our guest from Italy.

Just when I was about to write that much awaited (ahem) first post, I got entangled with that neurologist again. Warning, if you can possibly avoid them, do. This time it involved a neurosurgeon, a bunch of MRI's, a treatment for my inner ear which demanded that I sat up in a chair for two nights and subsequently slept on my right side. I also tried taking less medication—but taking more if I had a problem, which of course I did. The problems involved inability to focus my eyes and uncontrollable shaking of my hands. So goodbye typing for a while.

I feel pretty good right now, but suddenly, though not unexpectedly, my e-mail was converted to a Microsoft based system. There are training sessions for all the employees, but we retirees are on our own.  It took me three days to figure out how to print a document. I'm getting there because I hate to be defeated, but I still have to deal with the instructions on "How do I set up my Apple iPhone (and iPad) to synchronize to the new Wayne Connect using Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync?" Until then, I cannot get my e-mail on my phone, but it involves backing up to iCloud, which I have always avoided.

O well, time to call in the grandchildren. See you soon. I promise.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Ten Years Ago . . .

. . . I made my first post on this site.

There's lots I want to write, but it is late (great victory, USA). Always an excuse, isn't there? But I will be back. It just seemed appropriate to mark this anniversary.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Hamburger Helper

Embedded in our family lore is an item about me and a not-too-palatable food item called "Hamburger Helper." Yes, there is some truth to this story, but I can explain.

First, I need to go back at least half a century. My family never possessed a car. That was not in the least bit unusual when I was growing up in those post-war years, although by the time I left England in 1963 car ownership was becoming more common. During my childhood, not having a car was never a hardship, although of course it may have been to my parents, when it came to shopping and all the requirements of life, like shopping and going to work. I blithely lived my life jumping on a bus.

Here is the form of trans port ation my dad had before his mar riage. I wrote about this in an earlier post. Fast-forward to 1971: Andrew had just been born and with four children under the age of five I decided I needed to learn to drive. We had a bizarre lifestyle which involved waiting for Ernie to get home before we bundled four children into a car so he could take us all to the grocery store, for appointments at the doctor etc. I don't think I realized that doing all that singlehandedly would not be much fun.

In any event, I signed up for driving lessons in the parking lot of Grosse Pointe Farms. I am a bit vague about who offered the lessons, how many times a week, but I am pretty sure they were at 5:30. (Or was it six?) It involved Ernie and the kids dropping me off, going home for dinner, and coming back to fetch me. They would need dinner, so I bought this product called Hamburger Helper, which called for browned ground beef which was mixed with the contents of the box. That way I could prepare it in advance and it merely needed warming. An added advantage was that the kids liked it. Heaven knows how I fed Andrew. I completed the course, passed the test, parallel parking included.

Last week I went to the grocery store. I had noticed earlier that the shelves were looking different. Some brands were being culled, others restocked. Imagine my surprise when I came face to face with shelves stocked full of a product I had not looked for for years. All flavors, all kinds of Hamburger Helper. Chicken Helper! Tuna Helper!

There must be a lot of mature women learning to drive.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

It's Always Greener . . .

Our winter is, perhaps, winding towards its close. Though heaven knows, we have had some pretty rough Marches in the past. All  we have to do is navigate potential spring floods. My guest beds remain un-made. Should I make them with flannel—and have to rip the sheets off and re-make the beds with percale if my first bunch of spring guests arrive on a hot spring day? Or should I make the beds with percale? Then I have to search out blankets already smelling of mothballs to keep them warm? Problems, problems, problems.

This will be with us before long. And worse. I'm just showing this to people who say they like to live in the Mid-west because of "the seasons." Then the question is bandied around, "Which do you prefer, the winter or the summer?"

I know the answer to that one—whichever we are not suffering from at the time.

Friday, March 06, 2015

It Calls For a Reversal

In late 2012 I was pretty insulting to the firm Paper Direct for the slew of catalogs they were sending. And still do. I should not be upset, because they had rightly surmised that I loved to write letters and that I loved attractive stationery.

Paper Direct's Pretty Petals
In the past, many of my letters and non-cyber communication were addressed to my sister-in-law who did not have a computer and had no intention of getting one. So I loved to send her long letters on paper like this. I had to use a computer because I have a somewhat shaky hand these days, but it was probably easier for her to read. After her death I found my correspondence was pretty much limited to e-mail. Not that it saved work: I write some pretty long e-mails usually with photos attached. It would be easy to plunk the text in a letter and mail it, but I have fallen into the trap of instant gratification—the e-mail can be there within ten seconds, I save the cost of a stamp and don't have to make the trip to the mail box.

The other day as I was reading some blogs and following links to some previously unknown blogs, I was thinking that there are a lot of great writers out there. And I got to wondering how many letters they send. Perhaps an aunt or cousin would love to get the content of their blog not on the internet but as a letter. (Don't expect that friends and relatives will read your blogs and follow your life from the internet. They won't. After a long post about, perhaps, a month long safari, someone is bound to ask , "What did you do this summer?" Needless to say, I made up the safari bit, but the underlying truth is there.) I can promise you that the sight of the mailman coming up the walk with a letter will make the recipient happy and feeling loved.

I know that was the case with Flo. So this is a challenge for some of you great writers. Forget the blog and use your skill to enrich someone's day.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Where Are They Now? (Anyone Know?)

Official Wayne State College Bowl photograph.
In the early sixties the program managers at NBC figured they could swell their audience share with a show which pitted students from two universities each week, not in sports, but in brains. And it was a success. The show was College Bowl, sponsored by GE, and each week from 1959 to 1970 one school was knocked out and another took its place.

In 1968 Wayne State was invited to take part. We never knew what prompted the University authorities to decide that the perfect person to select and train the WSU team would be a member of the College of Liberal Arts who had arrived in Detroit a scant eighteen months earlier. Possibly it was because Ernie had become good friends with Sherwin Collins, the go-to man for the College who had the ear of the Dean. There was no shortage of knowledgable students from which to choose, but the trick was to pick four who together could cover the whole gamut of arts, science, sports, culture—and who would not fall apart at the sight of a camera. In addition they needed quick reflexes, because the first person to ring the bell in front of him/her would have the opportunity to give the answer. The College of Engineering supplied ersatz bells which were taped down to a table with duct tape for training sessions.

Here's a casual practice photo of the team of Chuck Zastrow, Dennis Staszak, Sanford Cohen and Joel Shulman, fingers at the ready. Ernie had John Gregg from the Communications Department to help him and I did my bit by sending down practice questions. That made three of us who knew next to nothing about Astronomy, Geology, Physics etc.

A week before the big day Brandeis beat the school against whom they were pitted, so we knew Brandeis would be our opponents. I don't recall the flight to New York, or the journey to the Warwick Hotel, but I do know that we were shepherded by Mike Sibille, the university PR guy.

I think we flew out on Saturday
morn-ing, which, accord-
ing to my note on the back of this photo gave us time for a visit to the Central Park Zoo. Those of you who know Kate may recognize her peeping through my large pink coat. My only explanation for the white gloves for a trip to the zoo is that this was the 60's.

In the evening we all went for dinner at Mama Leone's. The next day we prepared for the show which was broadcast live.

The WSU team was wonderful, but in the end they were no match for the seasoned team from Brandeis. We excitedly flew home after the show. The cameras had concentrated on the team, of course, but we knew there were occasions when they had been turned on us. Our friends and relations in Detroit and all over the country had been watching. We went straight to the friends with whom we had left eleven-month-old Al to ask their reaction.

The golf match which NBC ran prior to our show had run over-time and College Bowl was not broadcast.