Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Testimonial

Way back when, I used to have a section on the right hand side of this blog headed "People I Know". Under that heading I had links to blogs written by friends. At one time or other I listed blogs written by Bridget and John, Barbara, Kim, Liza and Marcie. Well, I guess that's  not too many, but they are all people I know and I enjoyed their writing (any chance of your coming back, guys?) As they stopped writing, I took them off one by one. Life, as they say, gets in the way of writing blogs.

Now there is a worthy replacement. Allow me to introduce you to Ron's Bookshelf. As you can surmise it is a blog of assorted book reviews. I should tell you that when I subscribed to a service which will let me know a new post appears, I received this reply,

"Congratulations!

You recently signed up to follow this blog's posts. This means you're joining the most amazing conversation about books on the Internet today. You need to confirm below to receive each new post by email.

To activate, click Confirm Follow. If you believe this is an error, ignore this message and nothing more will happen".

This blog has every promise of being good, possibly great, but "the most amazing?" It's OK, he won't be offended. The writer has a wonder and acerbic sense of humor, is a published playwright, an accomplished actor, terrific husband and father—and my son-in-law.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Spice of Life

When my kitchen was remodeled a few years back, there were many decisions to make. Some were made for me, mostly dictated by the size of the kitchen —mainly walls we couldn't knock down, or adjacent rooms we could not do away with. We had to keep two doors and a window, which meant the walls we had to work with to install cabinets were pretty limited. Then there were so many cabinet designs . . .

One choice I made was one I probably couldn't have made when I had five hungry children living here—a spice cabinet. Then I would have needed the space for food or casseroles or pots and pans. At this stage of my life I have loved it, because I was so fed up with rummaging around for thyme or marjoram or whatever.

These shelves are half the width of the cabinet, which means there is an identical arrangement on the back and also taller shelves at the rear of the cabinet. Savory spices on the front and sweet spices to the rear, and arrangement which confuses the other inhabitant of the house, "Is cinnamon sweet or savory?" I keep threatening to arrange the jars alphabetically.

See those shorter jars? They make so much sense, because it is almost always impossible to use up an entire jar before it is out of date. When we were last in Chicago we visited the Penzeys store in Naperville and I bought jars, both short and tall, and caused laughter—or was it scorn?—in my family by indicating by labels the date of their purchase. Since then I have been replacing some of my older purchases, studying a jar or two before I visit the grocery store. 2002? I really bought some in 2002?

Excuse me while I go arrange my jars alphabetically. It really will be even easier to find Chinese Five Spice.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Beauty is in the Eye . . .

Two of my favorite blogs are stored in a folder entitled "frothy blogs." They are The Sartorialist and Advanced Style. In each the blogger trolls the streets of European cities, though the latter is mainly confined to New York, camera in hand, taking photos of (mostly) women, who catch his eye for their fashion acumen and eye-popping style. As you might surmise, the latter blog is confined to women of a certain age, though most of them can pop an eye or two.

The community where I live has more than its share of well dressed women, but they are mostly clad in Lily Pulitzer garments suitable for cocktails and dinner at the Yacht Club. I am exaggerating, I know, but the look tends to be a tad boring, especially in high fashion areas—such as the grocery store.


This woman really caught my eye the other day as I was buying low sodium ham. A fabulous look for the grocery store. So I, and my cart packed high with quilted Charmin, followed her to the check-out lane, where I whipped out my iPhone and took a photo. Did I need her permission? Probably. Should I have edged closer and got more detail of the red swing coat and the large hat? Quite probably.

Maybe this will encourage me (and some of you) to make blog entries whenever you see eye-catching outfits. Or even to wear them if you have them tucked away in a closet.

And you can't see it, but this woman was a candidate for "Advanced Style."

Monday, November 03, 2014

It's Now or Never

I last wrote in July, so perhaps you can appreciate that I got myself into one of those predicaments—the longer I didn't write, the less likely I was to write. Altogether a situation I disliked. Not only did I not write a post, I didn't read as many entries as usual. It was a hard period for a number of people. Death and illness entered their lives, but they seemed to negotiate through each situation much more graciously than I who was drifting through my daily life.

After a few weeks of silence I had some plan or other for my writing. I didn't follow through. Then, since my overall intention for this blog is keep a chronological record of the passing weeks, tastefully illustrated by photographs, I decided that dates and times were important. I got them (and the photographs) all mixed up. So, let me just mention in some chaotic fashion a few events—and then get on with things before November goes the way of the past few months. The clock fell back today: I started on a bit of a clean up, doing nothing I had planned to do but a few other large tasks. So why not sit at my desk and write what I can before going downstairs to watch the end of "Death comes to Pemberley." Anyone with a sharp eye can see I have drifted to the next day. All Saints Day and All Souls Day have always been holidays about which I have been confused as I march inexorably on toward the grave.

We had the family picnics that mark the National Holidays in the summer, plus a few extra. I had my hair cut three times and we had the front yard landscaped to give our house what is known as "curb appeal." There were at least six visit to various doctors and I spent two days sitting around St. John's Hospital while first Ernie then my granddaughter underwent outpatient surgery. Nothing serious, but a little alarming.

If you want really alarming, that would be the three storms of the summer. I won't forget the date of the first. It was our forty eighth wedding anniversary in August, and the worst, or maybe second worst, rainstorm ever to fall on Detroit, one of those storms when cars are left floating and basements are flooded. There were photographs of freeways being washed away and of downed power lines. Our basement suffered from what is known as "clean water", but others were not so lucky. Not so long after came the storm which knocked out power—then there was the storm which uprooted trees.

There were visits from out of town family, and numerous trips to the grocery store. We accompanied Kate on a trip to Chicago to take three teenagers to stay with a friend and to visit comic con 2014. Driving through Chicago on a Sunday, with lanes closed for a bike race, was another interesting experience. Under what I would consider extreme sports was Ron's entry into, and completion of, the Detroit Free Press Marathon. We went down to cheer him and countless others on.

Sometime between storm 1 and storm 2 we handed over our house to daughters 1 and 2 who were giving a baby shower for daughter 3. It was a gorgeous day and many of their friends joined us to wish Lucy well.

I know there is much I have forgotten and I trust that no-one in the family will be upset if I say that my absence from Amen with a T was crowned by this:


This is grandchild number 21, Joseph, born to Peter and Lucy on September 26, the same day his cousin Benjamin was born in 2001. More photos to follow. Doubtless.

I will keep writing.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Caution: Men at Work

As I drove up and down a street in Grosse Pointe during the last couple of years to the school four of my grandchildren were attending, I noticed the construction going on across the road. The building is just about completed, but the publicity started a long time ago (I'm not going to use any names, or post any photographs just in case, well you know.) It is billed as a senior living facility, a continuing care community where we can gracefully age in place. It's true, we need such a place in Grosse Pointe. Should one or the other or both of us need to give up our large house and move to an "apartment home", we would be relieved to live close to three of our children and in easy reach of the battalion of doctors we visit these days. Nice to know we would be across the street from the Hunt Club, close to the Yacht Club and two Country Clubs. Yes, we live in an up-scale area.

I compare any facility I visit to the one in which a former neighbor lives—the Henry Ford Village, a much older facility which has learned by experience what works for seniors. It is in Dearborn, which, I believe, has the largest population of Arabs in Michigan, if not in the USA. But no Hunt Club.

Our new residence had an Open House on Saturday, and surprisingly I was able to persuade this house's co-resident to come along with me. What did I find surprising? The lack of organization, for one. We signed in in a book where we were not asked to provide our address, though this event was surely a recruitment exercise. We were corralled by a very attractive young woman who didn't know as much as she should about the facility, but was quick to tell us that the remark, "This place must have been designed by a man" had been bandied around.

Hence the title of this post. As soon as we walked in to the building there was a small, formal waiting room and right behind it— the swimming pool, and right next to the pool, the eating area. Only a man would have thought that 80 year old women in their swim suits wanted to be in full view of new arrivals and diners. "Abundant closet space". Yes, for a guy with six golf shirts and an equal number of pants. I wondered why the built in washer and dryer was the first thing she showed us in every room. Only a man (with a calculator) would design a TV room for about 10 people without realizing that seniors have a need to socialize and cosy common areas are so important.

A lot more to say, but I came to the conclusion that perhaps some day the stars might align to cause me to end up in this facility.

Until I read the cost sheet.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I'm in Love!

Let me explain. When I saw water escaping from the bottom of my old (and I mean old ) washing machine, I realized that its days—or hours—were numbered and that those commercials about the Maytag repair man having nothing to do were somewhat exaggerated. I have an impeccable sense of timing. You are talking to the woman who had a sewer back-up on Christmas Day, when, or maybe because, there was a houseful of people wanting to eat. And we would need water to do dishes! In this case I was about to take a trip to Chicago. Fortunately I could eke by on my already-washed clothes, but I needed to have a washing machine up and running by the time I returned.

My research this time consisted of running across the driveway to borrow my neighbor's Consumer Reports and calling my sister-in-law who had earlier been telling me that she had bought two washing machines which she hated and returned before settling on a third. She told me that the first two were not "washing" machines, they had merely given her laundry a shower. I soon found out what she was talking about.

The evening before my trip saw us visiting store number one, going on to store number two and returning to store number one. (I left number two not because of their choice of machines, but because they wanted to charge $15 to haul away the old one. A matter of principle, not $15.) My biggest problem, however, was that I wanted an old fashioned washing machine. I wanted a top loader to begin with, and then I was dismayed to discover that the new machines do not have an agitator. More roomy drums, but even the salesmen admitted that the lack of an agitator made getting laundry harder to get clean.

I settled on a Whirlpool. A plain, old fashioned Whirlpool. Being plain and old fashioned didn't exactly mean that it was inexpensive, though it was half the cost of the fancy new models with enough buttons and doo-dads to send the device into orbit. I have been doing laundry for fifty years and have never needed half the controls some of these machines have.

I ordered it and it was delivered and installed and waiting for me on my return. Could the person with whom I share the house have taken it for a test drive in my absence? Well, he could have, but at the beginning of our marriage he announced, "I don't do laundry."

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Agony and the Ecstasy

The best-kept secret in this house was Lucy's pregnancy. This photo was taken several weeks ago, so you can imagine why it can no longer be a secret. She and Peter wanted to choose the right moment to tell Peter's daughter before the new baby became public knowledge.

That's done now. Her two sisters want to give her a baby shower, so on Sunday the four of us went to put together a registry. I wasn't much help. I suspect my older four told us what they would like as a "grandparent" present and I didn't bother with the rest of the things they were accumulating. I haven't had a baby since 1976 (the one and only time I was the recipient of a shower. More about that at a later time.) We went to a large nationwide store which I won't name because I can't get the punctuation right. Aisles and aisles of products for babies and toddlers. These products were neatly organized: sleeping, eating, playing, bathing—you get the idea. They were divided into "must haves" and "would likes", or words to that effect. And the choice! Just in the stroller category we have jogging strollers, full sized strollers, luxury strollers, double and triple strollers—lord have mercy—stroller accessories, stroller bunting and footmuff. To name but a few.

That set me thinking. What do I remember about buying equipment for my children? Very little. I do remember going to what was then J.L. Hudsons, our local large department store. They certainly didn't have stores specializing in babies back then. We bought a crib and the following year when it became clear we needed a second crib, I think I sent my husband off to buy one. Crib number two didn't seem so special! I suppose I bought some baby clothes and I know got signed up with Dydee Service which took my used cloth diapers away every week and replaced them with soft, fluffy clean ones. Until the nurses handed over newborn baby number one, I had never held a baby. We had no family in Detroit who could have given us advice about feeding and clothing and bathing. We figured it out.

So when my new grandchild arrives, I will be ecstatic. But marching around the baby emporium, especially with my still hurting knee, was agony.