Friday, June 29, 2007

A Rose by Any Other Name

My newest grandson was two weeks old last Wednesday. Already he has two strikes against him.

First, we took photos of him as he is, not as we thought he should be .

Now, thanks to an feature cited in Arts and Letters Daily, I realize that Marcie and Andrew were pretty cavalier about the choice of his name. They chose it because they liked it. How silly! The article in The Wall Street Journal gives prospective parents hints on how consultants can (for a hefty fee) give advice on an appropriate name for the up-coming child. Does this sound odd? Well, if the parents cited in the article with the last name “Stone” have to pay money to be told that a child with the name Flynn may have problems running for President, maybe it is a good investment. (Cheap hint: Wilma and Barney aren’t a good idea either.)

The article was written by a writer with the name of Alexandra. I already have a grandson called Alexander, but Alexandra would be quite acceptable for a girl.

And is spite of what the article says about “Zoe Rose” . . . well, I’ve no objections.

A Matter of Degree

I do not have a Ph.D. Lots of people I know have earned this distinguished degree. I am, however, ABD, but that is about as much use as a maxi-skirt in Paris Hilton’s wardrobe.

Why am I telling you this? Well, you see, I am a bit forgetful and if I should be applying for a job or creating a resume, I want to be sure I don’t “make a mistake” about the degrees I have earned. It appears that this was the fate of the Director of the Detroit Zoo. In common with a number of public officials and former football coaches at Notre Dame, he claimed to have earned a Ph.D., while in fact “it never got finalized” and he omitted to take it off his resume. The obvious question is, “What was it doing there in the first place?” What about the little matter of orals, and signatures, and diplomas and transcripts?

I suppose we could ask why someone at the Detroit Zoo didn’t check his credentials more carefully when he was hired, but I am not an investigative reporter. I just want my friends to keep a close eye on my claims. And my integrity.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Relative Viscosity

Taking a plane anytime soon? This information may help. When I flew to Washington last week, I made the mistake of assuming that a large tube of hair gel, half full, was the same as the allowable 3.4 oz tube (and the industrial strength stuff doesn’t come in small tubes anyway). TSA didn’t agree and confiscated it!

However, on the way home I had in my purse a jar of Marmite (thanks, Andrew). I sailed right through security.

There are some (many, actually) in my family who consider Marmite more lethal than hair gel. Apparently TSA doesn’t agree with them.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Ascot Gavotte

The movie version of My Fair Lady got it all wrong. Part of the delight of Ascot is not the dramatic contrast of white and black, but the marvellous blaze of color as captured in these wonderful hats (thanks to the BBC for these great photos).

Then there’s the kind of titfer that Heather and Jessica over at Go Fug Yourself would have a field day with.
Men, for the most part, however well connected tend to look a little dare I say soppy? in formal headwear. And, in my humble opinion, no-one, but no-one, looks better in a hat than HM the Queen. Unless maybe Helen Mirren.

Things May Not Be What They Seem

I spent some time on Monday putting up photos of my latest grandson and his siblings on Flickr, only to discover shortly afterwards, thanks to Beth* over at TUS, that I wasn’t doing them justice. I thought Sebastian was a cute baby, but if I had only sent my photos to the miracle-workers here, look what they could have done! So your baby drools? Eliminate the drool. No eyelashes? No problem. Why, they can even add hair should your child unfortunately be bald.

Look at the rest of the samples and see what you think. I know what I think.

*If you are wondering about the title of Beth's June 16 post, that's how the Supreme Court just voted in the case she argued before them recently.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Welcome, Sebastian!

Sebastian Robert Ament was born to Andrew and Marcie on June 13 at George Washington Hospital. He weighed 8lbs 9 oz and was 20" long. I went to DC for his birth and had a wonderful time with his three siblings. I wouldn't venture to guess who he looks like, but he's a cute little fellow.

There are some more photos here. Click on "Sebastian's birth" to get to the set.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Comings and Goings

These two delightful teenagers visited us this week from Iowa along with their mother Bridget, who is Ernie's niece and also his god-daughter. Their visit was way too short, but they were in a rush to get Emily (on the left) to a camp at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. Come back soon, Bridget, Bridgie and Emily.

Who's going? I am. I leave for Washington tomorrow for the birth of Andrew and Marcie's baby. I'll tell you all about it when I get back

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Burpee's Mesclun

I no longer succumb to the seduction of the sirens. No need to lash me to the mast. I can take or leave those temptations in the garden catalogs. I now cling to the tried and true, and top on the list is Burpee’s Mesclun mix.

Tonight, for the first time, we had a salad composed entirely of our lettuce. Delish! We’ve been mixing bits in with bought lettuce for a while, but at last we had enough for a whole bowl of peppery goodness. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Re-arranging the Deck Chairs on the Titanic

That’s what we in Grosse Pointe appear to be doing if we put any credence in an article which appeared in USA Today. The economic situation in Michigan is certainly poor. The automotive industry is in disarray and the “For Sale” signs line the elm-bordered streets. The realtors try to entice prospective buyers with cute boutiques. Forget “specialty shops.” What most of us want is a place to buy a spool of thread or cheap underwear.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. A silver lining, if you will. The author of this article overlooked an earlier article in the Free Press describing the cut rates that are available as a result of Michigan’s financial woes. I was intrigued by the couple from Farmington Hills, who had “set aside” $20,000 to join a country club, but were able to join Plum Hollow for $6,000. If Farmington Hills can offer a bargain, so can Grosse Pointe. The initiation fees at the Lochmoor Country Club here have fallen from $38,000 to $7,500. Is that per person or per family?

No matter, I will practice putting while singing a quick chorus of “Nearer my God to Thee."

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Sunrise, Sunset

We have been most fortunate with our neighbors. When we moved into our house in 1969 there were a number of elder statesman on the block. There was Mrs. Connors, who became a frequent guest for holiday meals and a good friend, together with her son John. There were the Courts, who every year sent an invitation summoning the block to a New Year Open House at “The Court House.” Then there were the O’Neills, who lived next door at 812. They were already advanced in age when we met them. Mr. O’Neill had retired from the tractor division at Ford, where he had on one occasion at least chauffeured the “old man.” Mrs. O’Neill had graduated from what was then Michigan Normal College and had spent part of her life teaching in Detroit’s Guyton School. They kept active in their retirement: he drove for the Red Cross Blood Bank and she worked with a number of auxiliaries. They always ran their errands together and I loved to watch how she stood by the back door, stooping occasionally to remove a stray weed from the flower bed, while he opened the garage and backed down the ten or twelve feet to the door to pick her up.

There must have been times when our five noisy children annoyed them, but Mr. and Mrs. O’Neill never complained. (And it was always Mr. and Mrs. O’Neill—none of this Jim and Ella Mae nonsense for them.) In summer, Mrs. O’Neill would invite the children and me over for tea on her back porch. At Halloween there was always a special treat at the O’Neills. We got to know their sons, Mike, Paul, Tom and Fr. John. We got to meet their grandchildren. They were the most uncritical of neighbors. Once in a while you could see Mr. O’Neill glance at our shaggy front lawn, but he never said a word, even though he was a stickler for neatness and order. This magnolia tree of theirs, which is still going strong, was anathema to him. Every April he would patrol his front yard with a spiked stick, picking up the petals as they fell.

The O’Neills were substitute grandparents for five children whose own grandparents lived far away. As the kids got older, we encouraged them to lend our elderly neighbors a hand until they automatically ran over with a rake in the fall or with a shovel when the snow covered the front walk or the driveway. It was a sad day when Mr. O’Neill died and when Mrs. O’Neill too died, it was the end of an era.

I have thought about them a lot lately. This winter, when the driveway was full of snow, our neighbor on the other side, Dave, used his snow blower to make sure we could get out. The neighbors in the O’Neill's house snuck over with shovels and brooms to make sure the front walk was cleared. Jared is learning from his parents, Tim and Michelle, the same lesson we tried to teach our children.

And us? The seasons have followed one another. Happiness? Sure. Tears? Of course. I don’t remember growing older, but we are now the old folks on the block.