Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I Hate Spunk

By early 1971 I had four children under four. I did not watch television—sleep had a much greater attraction for me. I did, however, glance at the newspaper, and over the next year or so I saw accolades being heaped on a comedy show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I had not been around to see her earlier work in The Dick Van Dyke Show, in which she played second fiddle to the lead, but I gave this new show a chance, and was immediately hooked. Everything seemed right—a cast of strong actors and themes which were relevant to the time. I still didn't have time to analyze the components which made the show not only successful, but often controversial and I was certainly not aware how major problems were skirted in an era when Mary, as Dick Van Dyke's wife, could only be shown with him in their bedroom (double beds) if she kept one foot on the floor.

I found this book in our local library the other day, and it turned out to be a treasure trove of back-ground in-formation. I didn't know how much work went into pitching an idea to the networks, how much shows had to fight to get a good spot in the line-up and how important it was to ratings, all the work that went into everything from finding theme music and designing opening credits to auditioning a cast.  The supporting cast, real characters in their own right, was noteworthy. Fascinating that Cloris Leachman turned up half an hour late for her audition as Phyllis because her five children were "making trouble." Fascinating that Ed Asner turned back as he made his way to the parking lot to ask if he could have a second chance to deliver what became the iconic line, I hate spunk.

Every page of this book is packed with details. The most socially relevant are the resistance of the network to a show about a single woman (and one who was thirty years old) and the groundbreaking female writers. I love trivia. Who'd have thought that when Mary stopped at the intersection of Nicollet Mall and Seventh Street to throw her beret in the air in her sheer exhilaration at being in the big city, it was a "black and turquoise beret Moore's aunt had given her", or that in the opening scene she wore a fox-fur trimmed jacket which disappeared by the second season when she became an animal rights activist.

I loved this book, yet it occurred to me that it may be pointless to recommend it to anyone who is not a devotee of the shows (or over 65). As for me, I went to Hulu and found I could watch the first three years, that's 72 episodes, free!! I suppose I could access the rest of the series on Hulu Plus. I was sorry I would not be able to see the episode entitled Chuckles bites the dust from the sixth season. The description in the book of Mary's "cracking up" was hysterical. But you can't keep a good woman down and YouTube came to the rescue.

Undemanding, perhaps. Dated, yes, but the beginning of a whole new era in television.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Very Special Person

Here is our lovely, smart and ambitious daughter-in-law Godelive. Gody met our son in Rwanda when they were both doing relief work and she came to this country fourteen years ago, speaking three languages perfectly. None of them was English. She set about learning a new language and began working as a nursing aide, even though she was a degreed nurse in Italy. In fact she had earned a Master's degree in Belgium. Eventually she became an RN, all while raising four lovely sons, and this weekend she was awarded her BSN. She has had to make the horrendous trip around the Beltway to get to Providence Hospital and they have appreciated her nursing skills by recognizing her as one of their outstanding staff members.

We are so grateful to Marco and Patrizia Tan-gheroni who gave Gody (and later her sister Yvonne) a home in Pisa and who arranged for a family to assist their sister Apauline. They can be so proud of her dignity and her courage. We certainly are.  We love you, Gody.

Friday, October 25, 2013

They're Baaaack

I thought I had written about these fabrics last year—or maybe the year before. I do know that I found them in Joann Fabrics when I went to check out their Christmas offerings, but I have come to the conclusion I must have posted them on Facebook. As you can see, they feature that traditional Christmas icon—the Christmas pig. Nothing says Christmas like a pig, tastefully interspersed with skinny pine trees. I cannot imagine what anyone did with this fabric, or what the buyer was even thinking of.

So guess what he/she decided to include in this year's offerings.

They have added more traditional woodland denizens, a beaver, an owl and a deer. That's more like it, though I don't think the deer is feeling much love, comfort and joy during the hunting season. Most importantly, this fabric is not cotton, but snuggly flannel, and since I have a tendency to turn flannel into night dresses, I am tempted to make a man-sized one for my new son-in-law who is a hunter.

I think he would prefer a Santa Claus, or a creche.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013


My disappointment grows apace!

Years ago, when I started this blog, I went to a great deal of trouble to install Sitemeter (I just couldn't get it at the bottom of the page.) I wanted to track the thousands of people who were going to read my blog each day—who were they? where did they live? who referred them to my site? Each week I eagerly opened the report from the folks at Sitemeter giving me the harsh facts. I get one screen listing the domain name of the last 100 visitors. That's pretty meaningless because it is mostly numbers. Hm, "Churchbutler", I quite like that one. Then there is the location list. Nice to make new friends in Bogot, Cundinamarca, Colombia and Khabarovsk in the Russian Federation. There are are other confusing reports (Out clicks, Exit Pages, Entry Pages) but nothing can disguise the grim truth set out in the Summary. Average readers per day, between 8 and 11. Even worse, when I took that hiatus and published nothing for many months, I still got 8-11 readers a day.

Here's the final straw. I was looking at stuff on my iPhone to while away some waiting time. I don't like to do that because I find it difficult to read screens and virtually impossible to write. I must have been in an area related to Sitemeter. I think. But this is what I found:

There are nine million, three hundred and forty three thousand, eight hundred and sixty one people in the United States who "rank" higher than me. My blog is worth $723.06. What does that mean. Content? Style? I could raise that amount if I advertised beer? No IPO for me. I'm dispirited, but I'll plod on for a while.

Friday, October 04, 2013

To Everything There is a Season . . .

. . .  or maybe not.

October is certainly the month to clean up the garden ready for spring, Everything is dead or dying: the phlox is mildewed, the peonies have black blotches on their leaves, the shastas and black-eyed susans have proliferated, but cannot keep themselves from their ultimate demise. Everything must go into large paper bags or the compost. I try to get everything done before it gets too cold, but right now it is hot and I rush around trying to work in the shade. Anyone who has read this blog in the past knows that this is the time I quote Laurence BinyonWade through the post until you come to the link to his glorious poem. Each year I quote it brings me one year closer to the time that someone else will welcome the beauty of the re-born peonies and phloxes.

As I cut down the plants, look what I found. I had  taken my dead and yellowed Easter lily outside in spring and planted it in the hope that it would have understood the message of resurrection and bloom again next year. One thing you can count on around here is that the lilies will burst into bloom right around the Fourth of July. And here it was, the Fourth of October. I hadn't noticed it coming back to life until it was uncovered. Perhaps there is a lesson for me here or a topic for a homily.

P.S. Today is Liz's birthday and I can't find a photo. She will be so happy, but I have to acknowledge this special day.