Friday, February 27, 2015


In, Beastly Things, one of her wonderful books featuring the Venetian policeman, Commissario Guido Brunetti, the author, Donna Leon, relates how he reacts to a summons to the Vice-Questore’s office: “the obligation to deal with his superior often filled Brunetti with anticipatory weariness.”

I read that sentence and it was a bit of an ‘aha’ moment. That’s just what happens when the phone rings at dinner time. It is invariably the doctor’s office calling to remind us of an appointment in two days. I can’t just ignore it because I know what it is. No, I have to answer and speak loudly in the phone so their machine will start its message, and then hold on for a while.
If I don’t, the call will go to voicemail and I will have to go through the rigmarole of dialing in and pushing the buttons to get it off. I suppose it is a good thing that they remind us – we’re not infallible - but it does fill me with anticipatory weariness.

And why is it, speaking of anticipatory weariness, that when you call in to any automated phone system they ask you to “please listen carefully, as our menu has changed.” Even before you call you can anticipate this spiel. I’ve been calling in to some companies with great regularity for several years – they always say “our menu has changed”, and no, it hasn’t! For most of them I’ve learned just when I can press the remembered number to get me where I want to go.  If it is a new company to me, I just jeep hitting “O”, which is really the zero, for a human.  Look ma, no operators anymore!

Life is full of little bouts of anticipatory weariness. I know I have to come up with a pleasant answer each and every week when the checkout clerk at the supermarket asks me if I need a hand out with the groceries. It’s nice of them to ask, they always do, but I’d rather be the one to ask when I do need help. But I try to be polite.

Then there’s the perky or too genial waitperson or manager in a restaurant – they come in both genders – who interrupts your meal to ask you if you are enjoying it. O.K., chew and swallow, or break up your lovely conversation to formulate a polite answer. What I’d really like to tell them that the meal is fine, it’s their interruption I object to. But I try to be polite. Over the last forty years, my husband and I dined regularly at several restaurants. Other than the wonderful food at each, what we enjoyed was our uninterrupted meals. If something was wrong, and on a rare few occasions it was, our problem was noticed and seen too at once. Now that’s service!

There’s a bit of anticipatory weariness in many things: having to listen to all the back-patting and humor before they get to the meat of an awards ceremony; having to sit to wait while dozens of other people’s kids get their diplomas; seeing a person you’d rather avoid but can’t; agreeing to go to a family function where you know you’re not going to enjoy yourself; the daily commute. I’m sure you can add to this list.

None of these situations are life threatening, but they are less than pleasant, even less than just neutral. We put on our big girl panties and deal with them, being courteous, polite, gracious, and, above all, civil.  We suffer it out and offer it up.  -

Yes, there is no terror in the bang, in handling the inevitable: it’s the anticipation of things like the wait and the process that gets us down.

Keep those halos polished.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


CHOPIN - he was Polonaise

Today might have been the 205th birthday of Frederic Chopin. They’re not sure if he was born on February 22 or March 1, in 1810.  (I missed commenting on his bicentenary: it was just before I started blogging.) My husband believes that Chopin’s music is “civilized”. He believes all the music written during Chopin’s era, what we now call the Romantic Era of music, is civilized.

The Romantic Era composers: Beethoven, Paganini, Rossini, Donizetti, Schubert, Strauss (Johan), Mendelssohn, Schumann, Liszt, Wagner, Verdi, Strauss (Johan II), Brahms, Saint-Saëns, Delibes, Bizet, Tchaikovsky, Dvořák, and Grieg. Though the list goes on and includes so many more composers you will have heard of, I’ll stop with Grieg, one of our favorites. The list is in order of their birth, and I do thank the Wikipedians for the list. I just googled list of Romantic Era composers, and there it was.

GRIEG - Have to have Norwegian music, of course!

As I read down the list, the music of many filled my head. (Oops! I just went back to the list to close it, and there was Debussy – oh, and Delius and Richard Strauss and Sibelius. Oh heck, can’t leave off those born later like Scott Joplin or Franz Lehar, and Vaughan Williams and Rachmaninoff and Ives and Ravel. I’m like a kid in a candy store.)

RAVEL  (as Danny Kay called it : "Rav'-els Bo'-la-ro")

I buried Johan Strauss II in there – he’s Frank’s favorite. Give him a waltz and he’s happy as the proverbial clam. Give me the music of any of the Romantic Era composers and I am delighted.

STRAUSS - Just the opening strains of this piece make FJ smile.

I started out to write a bit of an essay on Chopin. Men like him have been on my mind for a while now. He is in a group I’ve put together, a group of highly talented men who died too young. We have to wonder what more they would have given us had they lived to a ripe old age. I think of Chopin, Gershwin, Thomas Wolfe, the poet Rimbaud, John F. Kennedy, all died before the age of forty.  So my Chopin etude has morphed a bit.

Friday, February 20, 2015


I've blogged about blue – but it was a post of a different color. Now I take up the color blue.  We’re almost to the end of the visible spectrum, having covered red, orange, yellow and green. Just blue, maybe indigo, and violet to finish.

Blue skies, and deep blue seas – the first things we come up with when asked about blue. Frank and I have a personal reference to the deepest blue sky we’ve ever seen – we call it Honningsvåg Blue. This is the blue of the northern Norwegian town we visited on a cold, sunny day many years ago. Four of us, we two and our British friends, stood there and marveled at the colour of the sky. (The u in colour for the British!)

A page from our album

Blue has been in my decorating repertoire for many, many years. Blue is serene, and to me, the best color for a bedroom. Ours is basically blue.
There are few blue foods other than blueberries, and they’re really purple, so I don’t care for a blue kitchen. Blue is great in a bathroom too. Though the rooms are now done around green, shaking up my household palette, I had a blue living room and dining room for fifteen years.

Blue runs the gamut from green-blue to blue-violet. Remember all those blues in the box of Crayolas? (Holey Socks! On a whim, I googled Crayola Blue. Crayola has pages where you can explore all their colors.) Alice blue, baby blue, robin’s egg blue, Carolina blue, China blue, blue jeans and blue meanies: there are many names for blue, from aquamarine and ultramarine through lapis lazuli (don’t you just love to say lapis lazuli?) and navy, to periwinkle and lavender blue (dilly, dilly). (Silly, Silly!)

Tumbled lapis lazuli

Blue has always been a popular color for uniforms, military and constabulary. The men in blue are the ones to look for when trouble brews. In tropical climes however, the policemen’s blue gives way to white. Good thinking. We once saw a policeman sweltering in his blue uniform while walking the area around the Gay Head Lighthouse on Martha’s Vineyard on a very hot 5th of July. Whites, even khaki, were what he should have been wearing.

Wikipedia says, and I add my bit in []’s: “Surveys in the U.S. and Europe show that blue is the color most commonly associated with harmony [Rhapsody in Blue?], faithfulness [true blue], confidence [those men in blue], distance [into the wild blue yonder], infinity [∞], the imagination [out of the blue], cold [that Honningsvåg sky, and don’t forget that the hot and cold faucets are often labeled in red and blue], and sometimes with sadness [to be musical again, Am I Blue?]. In U.S. and European public opinion polls it is overwhelmingly the most popular colour, chosen by almost half of both men and women as their favourite colour.” [See that?!]

If you are ever plagued by the blue meanies, go to Wikipedia and read all about blue.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


The music goes round and round - and round some more!

Several years ago, for a long length of time, a very long length of time, Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas played through my head.  It played and played until I was thoroughly sick of it. When I hear it now at the holidays I think “Oh, No, not again!” I’ve had a few tunes running through my head since then, but none as long as what I’m experiencing, even enduring, now: the Rape Song from The Fantastics.  I had an original cast recording, I played it until the grooves were about to flatten, so you’d think my brain could pick out an easier tune, say Try to Remember.  Noooo – it had to be the Rape Song. (“I know you prefer abduction, but the proper word is rape.”)

It’s long, and it’s complicated, and it’s clever. Cole Porter would have loved it. And I just know that until I’ve mastered the lyrics I won't be able to get the song out of my head.

Oh Ra-a-a-a-a-ape! 

Monday, February 16, 2015


Holey Socks! It’s still before 9 a.m. this morning and I’ve been all over the world, fascinated by a handful of different things.

The Writer’s Almanac told me that on this day in 1848, playing the piano to a selected audience, Chopin gave his last concert in Paris. He was so young: he’d give another concert in London later that year, and then he died the following year at the age of 39. More about Chopin on Sunday, the 22nd.

The always interesting BBC News daily email told me about the cyber thieves who’ve stolen from worldwide banks an estimated 1 billion dollars since 2013, about the Arctic cold wave here in the north-east of the continent, and also told me about a bit of kinkiness goin’ on in the animal kingdom. Every one’s doin’ it, from red velvet mites to North Atlantic Right whales. Naughty!

And my dear friend in the frigid climes of Canada told me about the gorgeous works of Jack Storms, a sculptor in glass, cold glass. Cold glass, but warm, wonderful colours for this gray winter morning.

The amount and scope of what can be found on the internet never ceases to amaze, enthrall, and entertain me.

Friday, February 13, 2015


Here we are again – Friday the Thirteenth. We’ll have three of them this year: today and in March and November. I’ve already written about triskaidekaphobia, for those of you who would like to read it. Today I just want to remind you to watch out for black cats crossing your path and for unsafe ladders. 
Be especially careful with those ladders!

Oh, good grief!

are you kidding me?

Let's all be careful out there!

Thursday, February 12, 2015


It got me – that darn bird! Early this frosty morning, while I was putting away the groceries from my predawn trip to Harris Teeter, Frank’s phone rang. I rushed into the living room to get the phone – hipperty lippin’ faster than fast - because he was still sleeping. Nothing – no one there! Then it rang again. Aha!

Darn that bird!  He was sitting in the tree right outside the kitchen window, and he sounded just like the ring on Frank’s phone. The laugh was on me. I hope he attracts a cute female: he sure got my attention!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Several BAFTA winners

This last few days, BBC Pictures has featured spreads on both the Grammy Awards, aired on February 9, and, on the day before, the BAFTA Awards, the latter being the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

Now I’m not saying that the British embody the epitome of taste, and I did see pictures of some beautifully dressed celebrities who attended the Grammys, but to my way of thinking (and let’s face it, I’m 72 years old and not really at all into what passes for what to wear on the American music scene these days) some of those folks at the Grammys are a bit freaky. 

Madonna, showing much more than we need to see of her.
And who designed that ridiculous and uncomfortable looking getup?
I suppose she sacrifices sense for the sensational.

To make illustrate my thinking on this, I’ve selected and saved several photos from the BBC to use here. I think the photos they selected, and they must have had the same idea, bear out my thoughts.  To wit: 


 as compared to


To be fair, this is a from the Grammy website itself.

I rest my case!

Friday, February 6, 2015


I’ve finally figured out why I find it ‘itchy’ to buy e-books. I do subscribe to Kindle Buffet and BookSends to glean all the good freebie books each day – I remember the old saying: “For free take, for buy waste time.” So if a freebie looks good, seems to be my kind of reading, no first person, present tense, maybe a wee bit racy, maybe with a good mystery, I’ll add it to the collection.  After all, I can delete it if it proves to be a dud.

But if I buy an e-book and it proves to be a dud I am stuck, I’m out the money, even if it is only 99¢. Moreover, when I’m finished with the electronic book I’ve purchased, and I usually read them at least twice, I can’t donate it to the library to generate a few shekels for the Used Book Sale to entertain or enlighten someone else. I don’t feel at all upset that I can’t pass on something I got for free.

I borrow new books from the library, I usually buy gift books for my granddaughters from Daedalus or Chinaberry, and I buy used books for myself from sources like Thrift Books, the first entry on my laptop’s bookmarks list. My husband sometimes thinks I keep Thrift Books in business. He sees those distinctive orange mailers in the mailbox and says “Uhoh, more books!”  Yes, but these I can pass on. My money at work, as it were.

It has taken me a while to come to this conclusion.  In the year or so that I’ve had the Kindle app on my new laptop I’ve certainly ‘wasted’ money on e-books I purchased. Only a few were duds, and in the main I got my $3.99 or so worth of entertainment from reading the book. But I wasn’t able to pass the book on to someone else – that’s a shame in my book.

We’re told never to judge a book by its cover, but this one below intrigued me. The book itself earned four stars on Amazon, with mixed reviews, mostly favorable. I did like the story and I’ve already read it twice. But I absolutely love the cover. It isn’t your typical bodice-ripper, hands up her skirt type of illustration. It isn’t the current cover – and why do they see the need to change covers on electronic books?  The new one is just a head shot of a pretty male face, one that would never appeal to me.  I keep this book in my Kindle library just to be able to see the cover every once in a while. Odd, I know, but that’s me.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


In February it will be
My snowman's anniversary
With cake for him and soup for me!
Happy once, happy Twice   
Happy chicken soup with rice.

Ah, February - the month that we usually pronounce and spell incorrectly. It is a month I love because we've lots of family birthdays. From children to great-grandchildren, the oldest will be 56, the youngest just 1 - she is so sweet, I could just take a bite out of her. It is the amethyst month, and that is my favorite stone - not my own birthstone, alas. 
Have a Fabulous February everyone.