Wednesday, February 24, 2016

It's Ron's Turn

Ron and Andrew, Chesapeake Bay, 1994
Happy Birthday, Ron. This is not a photo which highlights your activities for the year. No mention of another great theatrical role (although I wanted to post the photo of your face when you wore—and dropped—the towel in Enchanted April). No mention of all the bread you baked and the garden and the koi you tended. No mention of the trips you took with your family to check out colleges for Patrick. No mention of your ambitious blog (
and sorry, Ron, I am still catching up with that.

And I am not writing this because you are the only person in the family who could read the paragraph above and recognize praeteritio.

No, this is a photo of an act of kindness which made me so happy to know you would be a part of our family. In 1994 Lucy was about to start college in St. Louis, 600 miles to the south. On the same day Andrew would start graduate school 500 plus miles to the east. Both had a great deal of "stuff" which needed to be transported. We were all set to take Lucy and trying to figure out how we could help Andrew. Kate's boyfriend at the time came up with an offer of help, which was so welcome. While they were there Ron's former roommate, who was living in the area and who would be Ron and Kate's best man the following year, took them sailing on Chesapeake Bay.

Amazing how digging out old photos can be such an aide memoire.

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Political Post Devoid of Politics

On May 21, 2014, way before the American political arena was populated, I wrote a post advising Hillary Clinton not to run, based not on her political viability, but on her age and the difficulties we all encounter as we get older. Then here comes Bernie Sanders, who is now 74 and who would be 82 at the end of a second term, assuming he got one. Sure he looks pretty good now—they both do and they have both been facing the rigors of campaigning and riding around on buses and eating suspect food in diners. But there is a limit.

I swear I had figured that with the advent of Mr. Sanders it would be a good time to repeat my warnings, and by one of those co-incidences or synchronicities, today Ronni Bennett wrote a very a propos post, listing some of the ways we are robbed of time as the years go by. People who wrote comments were delighted to find themselves members of a club, sharing their experiences. I know I was. Forgetting how to spell: check, getting mixed up with numbers: check. And so on.

How does this play in the political arena?  Bernie can't fly to Europe, Frau Merkel,  because he's having a double bunionectomy. Hillary can't get to the phone, Mr. Putin, because it takes her so long to pee these days. If we pay heed to these and other examples in the comments, neither of them would get much done because they will both sleep longer and need naps.

I rest my case and am off to bed.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Week for Birthdays

First there was Andrew's wife, Marcie, who celebrated her birthday on Monday. In addition to raising six delightful children (and all that involves as they segue into the teenage years), she works full time on a schedule which involves a commute from Rockville to downtown DC, arriving home at 2:00 a.m. Marcie has had to confront many crises head on, as those of you who followed Veronica's first year will recall, and there is now another dragon to slay.

Yesterday and today marked birthdays for two grandchildren. Yesterday was Charlie's sixteenth birthday so we joined the Bernas family for dinner. Charlie is the proud owner (and player) of three guitars, so a number of his gifts were guitar related. Thanks for inviting us over for dinner, Charlie. Today we celebrate the fourteenth birthday of Andrew and Marcie's oldest child Liesl. She's our oldest granddaughter and it has been such fun to look through photos and see how much she has changed. Next year she will be in High School!

Monday, February 15, 2016

"Mr. M. is the Wisest Man I Have Ever Met"

The writer of this article, which appeared in the online magazine of Loyola University in Chicago, is referring to her high school math teacher. Her high school math teacher is our nephew and godson Patrick.

There are many adjectives I could add to describe Patrick, but I just want to say that kind and generous would be at the top. It is his rather unusual use of one of his math classes that is my subject here. On a visit to our house a couple of years ago he told the story of one of his students who wrote a letter to her grandmother which delighted her. She died soon after.  When I read Lauren's article I knew I had to accelerate my rate of writing letters. I can hear the clock ticking away for some of my contemporaries. I was actually a very good letter writer not so long ago. I knew my sister-in-law loved letters and would have given anything to receive more from her children.  So I tried to fill the gap. In her case it was pen and paper letters, because she wanted nothing to do with computers. After her death the snail mail letters were fewer. I see nothing wrong with e-mails (as long as they are long and substantive.) I have twenty one grandchildren who need to hear more from me—and I hope it spurs them to reply.

So I decided that Lent was a good time to get back to letter writing.  I wanted to concentrate on paper letters, composed on the computer since my handwriting has become so bad, with a few photos to illustrate family activities. Surely one letter a day was doable. Lent started last Wednesday and to date I have not written a single letter. I have to complete my letters in the morning: one day we had lunch with some good friends (which was wonderful) but I came home and had to take my nap, two days were eaten up with ill effects from my nasty medication. I have to do better and I must not let the enthusiasm I regained from Lauren's article on Patrick get away.

In a wonderful example of synchronicity after I read the Loyola article which I found on Facebook, I came downstairs and found in our mailbox a letter from Patrick.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Rocks and Hard Places Part 2

I am still being consumed by this business. I am adopting a holy policy and asking for the serenity to accept what cannot be helped. But I fear it is so much easier to deal with other people's bad habits than my own.

One area which comes entirely under my control is my sewing roomlet. It is thus named because it has two full walls, one partial wall and the fourth side has no wall. Not as weird as it sounds. When I set the room up after the walls were painted, I took a large bookcase from one of the children's rooms, painted it red and used it to contain patterns and boxes of fabric etc.,  but since there was still not enough room for my sewing necessities, I bought some cheap, but helpful, stacking units. I'll break down and show these old photos, so you can see how these units are drooping.

The door on one unit won't shut and I have to tie the doors together. The shelves are sagging. It has to go. I now have a heavy wooden bookcase which I can paint and use to store some of my fabric. And therein lies the rub. I am reorganizing my goods, but if one container is for felt, should I put the project for felt that I am just beginning there, or does it belong in my (rather big) "projects to be finished" container? How small does a piece of fabric have to be before it goes in the scrap container?

Of course, I am not the only one with this problem. Ten or so years ago we helped a friend prepare for a move into a retirement home. She was 85 at the time and her biggest problem was winnowing down her enormous collection of clothes, china, linens and all the treasures she had accumulated over a life time. She would be able to take quite a lot (and did), but the biggest problem was her basement, stuffed with who knows what.
The girls and I helped her, but we were not getting too far (ever see Hoarders?)  She is a generous woman and we found that if we said we would like something, she would give it to us—although we knew we would immediately dispose of it.

 I was the obvious choice to be the recipient of a pile of newspapers dated around Dec. 12 1936. The Newspaper is the now defunct Detroit Times and you can just about see the main story of the day. The paper is large and the folds are in poor shape. I couldn't open it without doing more harm to the paper and in any even it would be hard to scan the whole page. There are a number of related articles and a large photograph of Mrs. Simpson. Lynne was a teenager when these events transpired and I can imagine the romantic attraction. Although I know the final provenance of the documents, I wondered what had happened to these papers in the interim. She had gone off to college, married two husbands, given birth to two children, all the while keeping (but not protecting) the newspapers which appealed to her teenage heart.  This English scandal was given great coverage, though I admit that in this paper at least the editors cut away to the Dionne quints after several pages. Even when I took these papers I was trying to decide whether to keep them. I solved my problem by throwing out the others and keeping this one.

The King is Dead: Long Live the King.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

A Busy Week for Eleanor

We just returned home from celebrating Eleanor's twelfth birthday. Kate's kids get to chose the menu on their birthdays—Eleanor chose chili and ice cream cake. And she made the cake herself from a new cookery book she just received. Delicious.

The next time we see Eleanor will be on Friday evening when she takes the stage at Brownell in their production of "Fiddler on the Roof." She is playing the role of a Russian peasant, costume by Grandma.

All this and practices and games for her travel soccer team.

You go girl!