Friday, November 20, 2009

A Fairy on Stilts?

Soon Thanksgiving will be over and December will be here. You know, that time of year when we re-read Dickens' A Mid-Winter's Carol, send out Holiday cards and grow misty eyed as we hum along to I'm Dreaming of a White ... Come to think of it, that song has not joined the ranks of the politically correct.

Not yet. But Scotland is leading the way. Dundee, to be precise. Clearly the good citizens feel the need to celebrate something and, "instead of the traditional nativity story, the festival will feature a solar-powered disco, a continental market, a circus and a fairy on stilts."

Oy vey.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Technology Marches On

Need to cut a thread while at a basketball game? Need to unscrew something while out in the woods? Ernie has always come to the rescue, pulling out his trusty Swiss Army knife.

His style has been considerably cramped of late by the efficient TSA inspectors at airports, who tell him in no uncertain terms he can’t take his knife on board a plane. Twice he solved the problem—once by sticking the offending object in a planter and retrieving it on the way home, once by secreting it under a wastebasket. On one occasion when he remembered to put the knife in his carry-on baggage and take it all the way to DC, he was stopped from entering the Library of Congress. Bet you didn’t know there are indentations in the brick facade of the L of C where you can stick a knife for an hour or two. It will be a while before he tries that one again: on our last trip to Washington he once again forgot he was carrying the knife and had to surrender it.

I just saw the latest Swiss Army knife in the National Geographic Catalog. In addition to all the usual blades, screwdrivers, files etc., there is now ... a USB drive. So next time you are out in the woods you can skin a snake, cut little pieces of kindling and, if you come across a computer, write up your field notes.

But those crafty Swiss, they think of everything. “The drive also detaches easily from the tool so it can be placed in your carry-on bag.” I don’t suppose the USB drive would work too well after sitting in a planter for a week.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Crinoline Lady

Recently I was telling Kate about the Collyer brothers and how their fatal passion for hoarding gave their name to fire department codes indicating a house packed to the gills with potentially flammable materials. As is so often the case, within a few days there was an article in the Wall Street Journal describing other tragedies caused by this addiction to collecting excess possessions.

I’m not guilty of this kind of behavior, although I will admit that as I was putting stuff back into the dining room and re-arranging the drawers in a couple of chests, I lovingly ran my hands over a few things which I have been hanging on to for over forty years.

My mother’s mother lived
about a mile away and every week day afternoon (except Monday: that was washday) my mother walked to my grandmother’s, where they sat and drank tea and knitted until Mrs Dale’s Diary was over and it was time to go and get our tea. Sometimes, instead of knitting, my mother would do what she called “her embroidery.” She would embroider pillow slips or tray cloths or little doilies. Some of these are now in my possession—rarely if ever used. I wash them once in a while, starch them, iron them and put them back in the drawer. I can’t bear to throw them away. I am not sure if they are all my mother’s work. Some of the white on white and cut work items are exquisite and I think they may have been done by my Auntie Doris. What I remember my mother doing were variations of a design known as “A Crinoline Lady” or sometimes “An Old Fashioned Lady”. It always involved a large crinoline skirt and a parasol and there were usually flowers or butterflies in the background. The Crinoline lady in the photograph on the left was on a pillow slip, finished with crochet work.

I’m not even sure if my mother used them. I treasure them, and hope that my similarity to Langley Collyer ends there.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


"He'll be there between 3:00 and 6:00". He is the refrigerator repair man. One of these days I will write about my refrigerator. The lemon.

Anyway, the hands of the clock edged closer and closer to 6:00. And once again, the waiting window served its purpose.

Monday, November 09, 2009


Remember my post about the waiting window? I wrote it over two years ago and in my last sentence I lamented the need for some new wallpaper. Well, here’s the waiting window today. I love the riot of scarlet and crimson in the paper. I wasn’t exactly looking for wallpaper when I found this, but when I saw it, I knew I must have it.

I seem to throw sidebars into most of my posts. Here’s today’s. We bought this house 40 years ago and I wallpapered the dining room twice before. The first time was in the seventies. Avocado green and yellow floral stripes. Well, I told you it was the seventies. It was actually rather attractive, though I was too inexperienced to realize that when you have an old house, the walls tend to be crooked and broad stripes are not the way to go. This paper was followed in the late eighties with the teal paper in the earlier photograph. Both times I did the entire job by myself. The first time I had a slew of small children running around, the second I was working full time. But I don’t seem to remember the job seeming onerous.

Flash forward to 2009. My plan was to do it all again. When Kate offered to help me, I was delighted. You guessed it. She did it all, while I stood around tired and clueless. I can't thank her enough. It was difficult paper to work with, but it is done and I will never wall paper that room again.

We still have to agree on a rug and I will have to reupholster the chairs, but I smile every morning when I catch sight of this cheerful paper. I still wait by the window once in a while, even if it is just to remember waiting for a husband to make it home from work and for children to creep home in the wee small hours.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


I need to lose a little weight. Quite a bit of weight, actually. A lot of weight. If I decide to get serious, I know where to start. I must reactivate my gym membership and spend a few hours on the bicycle, the rowing machine and the treadmill. And I need to watch what I stuff in my mouth. I am pretty sure it is not what I eat, but how much that is the problem. Portion control will be my new mantra.

One thing I will not do is eat this disgusting looking food. I cannot for the life of me see how a person could lose weight—let alone keep diabetes in check—by eating pancakes and syrup, lasagne, chicken salad with mayonnaise, and brownies. Nary a green leaf in sight (except for a ruff of lettuce and a pickle or two) and these foods are being held up as objects of desire!

Perhaps you think this company’s advertising couldn’t get much worse. You are wrong. Here comes the sidebar. Ernie graduated from John Carroll with Don Shula. They were on the track team together, and that association caused us to follow Don’s immensely successful career as a football coach avidly.
He’s been retired for a while, but he suddenly popped up and informed us that a steady diet this food caused him to lose 32 lbs. Mrs. Shula got in on the act, losing 23 lbs. Why am I so upset? The lovely Mrs. Shula doesn’t refer to her husband as “Don” (“Donny?”), but proclaims (click on image), “It’s really important for Coach and me to enjoy our life and our family." Coach! Does she go around saying, “Coach, here’s your breakfast” or, “Coach, it’s time for the party.”

Too much Decadent Fudge Brownie is not a good thing.