Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ain't We Fancy?

I never knew there was a Facebook page called "Grosse Pointe Architecture", so I certainly never knew it featured, or rather included, our house. Mind you, since the page was pointed out to me and I have started checking it out from time to time, it looks like sooner or later every house in the Pointes will turn up on the pages. This photo must have been taken slightly earlier in the fall, because by late November all leaves have gone from the maple. Those lovely red leaves remain on the oak all winter and the rakes have to come out in spring just as the russet leaves fall and the bulbs begin to break through. It wasn't taken this fall, because the new landscaping isn't there.

The person who posted these photos has done his homework because he identifies the architect and it appears I know one of his descendants.

To those who celebrate it, Happy Thanksgiving. Be back soon.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Farewell, Kafka; Bye-bye, George Orwell.

Time for confession: we all have fears. Creepy crawly objects from the natural world, maybe standing up and making a speech in front of people, even laying bare our souls in a blog. It is only in the last year or two that I have stopped waking up in the middle of the night, terrified that I have to present myself in a university examining room to fill out sheets of paper with my collected wit and wisdom on a bunch of books I have never read. I guess that is common, and the reason this topic is best dealt with by the friendly neighborhood psychologist.

Fear seems to be part of a continuum. Imagine one of those annoying lines beloved of doctors, "On a scale of one to ten, where would you assess your pain?" I hate those, it is all so relative—or maybe it isn't and I should learn to play their game. In my continuum I start with apprehension, move on to concern, nervousness (as in, "Al, I am so nervous at the thought of you and your family driving up and down the Maryland mountains to come here for Thanksgiving"), pass through to being scared (That's when I am summoned into the workroom and asked to catch a piece of wood as it passes through this monstrosity.)
I would be more scared, but I have been doing it for many a year without any harm coming to me, the carpenter or the saw.

You have been waiting for me to pass through being terrified to arriving at petrified, and there is only one part of life that pretty much guarantees I'll wet my pants.

I am turning more and more into an on-line shopper, no longer a luxury but more of a necessity in these wet, snowy and cold days of winter. I'm not always comfortable handing over my credit card number, but there are a few safeguards and the amount of money concerned is usually not too frightening (that's another synonym. Wonder why there are so many?) Staring at a site like this represents the end of my continuum.

Normally I would double those numbers, even triple and add on a car, though maybe I wouldn't mean to. What if I had made reservations at a hotel for a different month? The possibilities for mistakes are endless, especially now that I am a little more careless and forgetful.

Or maybe that is what petrifies me.

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,


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.