Monday, April 28, 2014


Originally posted in January 2012 - I've just returned from an extended weekend visit to Charleston, South Carolina, of course, and I'm in the catching-up phase. I'll have a few Charleston related blogs in the future.  Meanwhile, this blog is still au courant as far as my life is concerned: the dust was still there to greet me when I returned from the trip.
I hate dust. I dusted once – why is it dusty again?  I know, I know – it’s just a rhetorical question.  I hate dusting.  To be truthful, I hate housework.  You’d never know it if you took a quick look at my house – it is almost always neat and picked up.  Few people believe me when I tell them that’s because I’m lazy. I don’t want to have a big pick-up-and-straighten job to do so I neaten as I go. But the dust does accumulate.  Don’t come here wearing your white gloves, otherwise I’ll make you use them to do the dusting.

Spruce pollen cloud
I didn’t have to think much about dust for about a quarter of a century. We lived about twenty miles from the nearest city in upstate New York, out in the clean air of the country where the dust didn’t accumulate very quickly. Well, I must admit that during pollen season in the middle of the woods it could be a bit (a bit?) messy. And it didn’t come all at once: maple, oak, beech, evergreens – they took their turns. Brush past a spruce and it would explode with pollen. The mess stayed mostly outdoors on the porch and patio furniture.  A good hosing took care of it.

Here at SCCL I’m starting to think there are little dust elves sprinkling the stuff around when I sleep.  It isn’t as bad now as when they were building new houses around us, but it almost seems as though I could dust every day. It also seems as though I am less and less inclined to do any housecleaning at all.

On one recent sun-shiny day the angle was just right for the light to reflect off the floor into some of the neglected corners, and on to some of the kitchen cabinets – egad! I hate that kind of sunlight almost as must as I hate dust.  Well, I embarrassed myself into getting out the floor mop and the cleaning spray and sponges and I tackled the job: not just the mess so blatantly lit for me, but the whole floor and all the cabinet fronts. Counter tops too while I was at it. I did draw the line at washing the walls and pulling apart and cleaning the appliances. I mean enough is enough.  I do realize that I felt soooo much better for having done the job – but no one was there for me to brag to. Ah, well. I’ll get my reward somewhere later on in life – I hope!
Just thinking about how my mother and her mother kept house makes me ache all over.  My mother’s mother’s house shone from top to bottom. It will suffice to tell you just that she washed all the walls in her house at least twice a year. Though, like her mother, she did take apart and wash her refrigerator every Thursday, which I think excesive, my mother must have thought her mother's wall washing was the excessive thing. Most of Mom's walls were wallpapered, and the painted walls in the kitchen and bathrooms got washed perhaps once a year, and when I got older sometimes they were washed by me! 

I’ve lowered my standards even further. I take after my other grandmother: I’m lazier. That gal was one of the original liberated women: her house was, as they say, “Clean enough to be healthy, dirty enough to be happy.”  She had places to go, people to see, and go and see she did. 

And so do I! 

Amen to that!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I don't suppose anyone will want to try to fit 450 candles on
Shakespeare's cake.

There's a good, brief bio you may want to read over at The Writer's Almanac

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Up until about seven years ago our phone – just one – was hardwired to our house. We went all over the country, all over the world, without it. We never planned to go across Death Valley or other deserted stretch of road, so we didn’t need a phone.  If we’d had to stop by the side of any road we believed that sooner or later someone would come along to help.

Today we were talking about this and admitted that we’d feel naked if our cell phone wasn’t on our person. We don’t plan to wean ourselves from our cell phones, but we were a bit surprised to realize how much a part of our daily ‘dressing’ they’ve come to be. You know the routine when you’re about to leave the house: purse (soon more men will need them!) or wallet, car keys, cell phone. I know the younger generations need to be almost surgically attached to their phones, and in the case of our own family’s younger generations they have to have not just ‘ordinary’ cell phones, but iPhones or iPads, i-yi-yi-yi-yi! Everyone needs to know where everyone else is every minute of every day. Everyone needs to be able to know what’s going on in every corner of the world at all times.

Frank and I are planning a long weekend away.  We were talking about all the extra things we need to pack nowadays versus what we packed years ago. Seems like the list gets longer and longer. We’ve always been sure to remember the vitamins and extra film for the camera, and that was about it.  Now we’ve got prescription medicines to add to the ‘must pack’ list, and chargers for our phones and camera batteries. (I do acknowledge that it is lovely to have the little memory cards for the camera – they take up so much less space.)  And, above all, we can’t forget our cell phones – yes, we’d feel naked without them.

This is the vintage of our cell phones - older versions, just like us.

Friday, April 18, 2014


April is the poet’s month. It provides them with inspiration: everything from Wordsworth’s daffodils to Chaucer’s shoures soote, his sweet showers. (In college I took a course on Chaucer. We even had to take a language lab in it to be able to pronounce the Middle English properly. That course was a pip. But I digress!)

April is also the month when lots of good people were born: my husband, my sister, the Queen who will be 88, and William Shakespeare. We celebrate his 450th birthday next Wednesday, the 23rd. Time to brush up your Shakespeare, as Cole Porter said in Kiss Me Kate.*

Shakespeare: poet and playwright, contributor of many new words and idioms to our language, and bane of the existence of high school students.  I’m not going to go on and on about the lists of his plays, poems and sonnets, there are lists of those universally available, or the everyday language we owe to him – and we would hardly be able to express ourselves these days without him. I am going to moan about reading his plays in high school. Aaaaarg!

I’m hoping that high school students these days are introduced to Shakespeare live: stage plays, movies, TV, on line. Back in the late 50’s, reading his plays was, for me, a chore. To this day I have a hard time reading a play, so hard that I don’t read them at all.  What gets to me? It’s the names of the characters that get me – see this from MIT’s Complete Works of William Shakespeare, a great source for the written word.


SCENE I. Elsinore. A platform before the castle.

FRANCISCO at his post. Enter to him BERNARDO

Those BERNARDOs and FRANCUSCOs stop me, and I get involved in who is saying what. My eye just can’t breeze past the names. If I were watching the play I’d have a visual of Bernardo and Francisco. Bernardo or Francisco would not name their name and then speak their line. Am I making myself clear? Of course it would be chaos for the actors learning a play if their character’s names were not given. Whose line is it anyway? (?)  Anyway.

How 'bout The Tempest?

The plays we had to read in high school were Julius Caesar and Macbeth - not the most interesting to high school students.  Why didn’t they choose A Midsummer Night’s Dream or Taming of the Shrew?  Perhaps something really powerful like King Lear. How ‘bout The Tempest?  How ‘bout any of the many Shakespeare plays I’ve seen since then? I remember a seeing Henry V, with the opposing sides, the French and the English, done up in silver and blue, wearing football helmets decorated with wicker baskets. Now that would interest the students: Henry V done as a football game. Yes, I do hope they make Shakespeare a visual these days.

*See that?! Kiss Me Kate: The Taming of the Shrew made interesting and painless.  Odds bodkins!

Monday, April 14, 2014


On Friday night we were treated to a fabulous wine-tasting dinner at one of the area’s upmarket restaurants. Let me tell you, there was everything from Scottish salmon to baron of beef, with things like octopus, truffles, nori, and black rice along the way to a desert plate with several delectable offerings. I ate every little morsel, drank every drop of wine. It was wonderful!   
My moment? Oh, it was just that in the light in my closet I had pulled out and put on my dark navy slacks instead of a black pair to go with my black shell and black-and-white printed jacket. I didn’t notice it until I stepped out of the car into the late afternoon sunshine. Oh merde!
But was I dismayed?
No. Years ago I would have died a thousand deaths, not just knowing but knowing for sure that everyone would be looking and laughing at me.  I’m past all that now. I know that no one noticed – the three I was with hadn’t noticed – and if anyone  noticed they weren’t going to come up to me and chide me, tsk tsk,  for my faux pas.
It has taken decades, but I finally realize that in this day and age, what people notice, what they think of me, matters little in the long run. I’ll never know about their thoughts, and they, to my delight, will never know about mine.
So - was it a Senior Moment? Of course not: it could have happened
to anyone. It was my turn.


Thursday, April 10, 2014


My father’s nickname was Bud. “Hey, Bud!” You too would probably want to be a Bud if your given names were Oliver Osborn. My mother had no nickname. Her name was Dorothy and she absolutely hated, hated!, to be called Dot or Dottie. My granddaughter Victoria is Victoria, never Vickie or Tori, and outside of the house please don’t call her Sweet Pea, her mom’s nickname for her. She and her sister Elizabeth, Liddie to us, have a great but sometimes annoying doctor who insists on calling them by names they hate. He calls Victoria Vickie, and Elizabeth Bitsie. Bitsie!? It gets their attention all right, but not in a good way.  Why would he want a kid annoyed by him? My five nephews too use their whole given names – no nicknames please.
Nicknames given by parents are usually loving; given by friends, they can be fun - my husband’s nickname in the army was Johnny, for Johnston – or often cruel. In grade school there was a kid we called “Boogie Nose” because his nose was always running or he was picking it – eeeew!
I wouldn’t dare to begin on all the famous nicknames for historical, entertainment or sports figures. You can do that for yourself by googling ‘nicknames’. All I can say is that after doing that and reading further, I am absolutely amazed and sometimes appalled at the origins of many of them.
My mother’s nickname for me was Lee Lee. I just love it when I know the crossword puzzle answer to “actress Sobieski", and I wish I were her age and know what I know now. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


This Gahan Wilson cartoon sparked an idea for today's brief blog.
Not even for a minute, only for a second or two has it all made sense. It's happened to me a few times in my many years: a flash of brilliance, what they now call the "ah-ha moment".  Only rarely have I been able to grasp the thought and not instantly forget it. Even more rarely have I been able to use it, to act on it.  It's frustrating.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


“I’m in love with a big blue frog, a big blue frog loves me” - Ah, yes, I hear them in my mind’s ear: Peter, Paul and Mary singing about that big blue frog. Even the Muppets got in on the act. Of course that was inevitable: the most famous frog in the world is a Muppet. It ain’t easy bein’ green. Perhaps that’s why Kermit was sometimes blue. But I digress.     
April, as all of you should know, is National Frog Month. This link speaks for itself:  I took the test – I’m not a frog, alas in the grass (no, that was pigeons!)  But I can appreciate frogs no end.   As an indicator species on our planet their recent disappearance is alarming. They range in size from one no bigger than a housefly to those huge cane toads plaguing and unfortunately not disappearing in Australia. Yes, all toads are frogs but not all frogs are toads, so let’s not split hairs – of which they have none, unless you count the hairy frog whose hair isn’t hair at all. But I digress yet again!
Frogs are associated with witchcraft, with longevity, with fertility (just think of all those tadpoles) and, of course, with enchantment. They’ll even levitate in a magnetic field. Kids love them, ladies collect them in their various ceramic or metallic guises, and the chocolate variety at Hogwarts is toot sweet.
Boop! Boop!
Enough of this silliness. Go out and find a frog to kiss today.