Monday, March 30, 2015


I went to a lovely luncheon last week. This is a group of around 60 ladies from our section of the community here at Sun City Carolina Lakes. The great gal who organizes it tries to have something interesting to do each time. This month she had us pick a question out of a basket. We had to go around and get as many answers as we could from the other luncheoneers. I sat on my butt, chatting as others came to our table, and got 12. One busy gal got 42 answers to her question. But what struck a lot of us was the question pulled by the gal sitting next to me: “If you could trade places with one person, who would it be?”

I think that’s why I just sat there. As the others came by and she asked her question we got into some great conversations. Why? Because not one gal wanted to be anyone other than herself, or be anywhere else. When asked the question, each one, including me, had to think hard because we really didn’t know. Many of us have serious upsetments in our lives, yet we wouldn't think to trade places. I think this speaks volumes on the type of women, the type of men too, who live here. It is a great community of interested and interesting people who like their lives “just fine, thank you.”  After a bit of discussion and joshing around, each one came up with a flip answer. One gal said "Bill Gates", one even smarter gal said "Melinda Gates", me, I said "Queen Elizabeth". 

My question, not to intriguing, was “If you could be an animal for a day, what would you be and why?” Dogs, cats, birds, a horse, even an SCCL dog, because they seem to be pampered around here. Another gal’s question was “if you could have any type of house, what would you have.” The best answer that one brought the biggest round of applause: “Clean!”  

Sunday, March 29, 2015


If this is Sunday is must be Ice Cube Day. I've forgotten where I learned it, but somewhere I learned that using ice cubes to water orchids was a safe way to prevent over watering. It works! So every Sunday I treat all my plants to their weekly cocktail. 

These are my houseplants - my only house plants: 3 orchids, a Christmas Cactus, a little succulent, and an amaryllis. Those last three were given to me this past Christmas, doubling the collection and crowding the triangle behind the kitchen sink. This is a pix from early March.

This is the picture today.  All three orchids are in bloom. I never give the plants any 'food', I just use the ice cubes. Perhaps there is something in the water here that the orchids just love. The little one on the left I purchased in February, the one on the right that bloomed this month is in its second bloom for me, and the one in the middle is on its third bloom - regular as clockwork, first bloom on the first of February. 

Three cubes for the big orchids, two for the little one (There's one in the back.) The amaryllis gets two cubes, the cactus gets one, and the succulent gets a sliver or two. They seem to love life by this east facing window. Doesn't take much to make them happy.

Friday, March 27, 2015


I recently read this quote from the editor, author, and playwright Beatrice Kaufman: “I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich. Rich is better.”  Ain’t that the truth.

Actually, I’ve never been poor. My brother and sister and I never felt “Hey, I’m depraved on account I’m deprived,” but for a while after our father died, when we were in our teens, it was a bit touch and go.

We did o.k. because Mom knew how to make ends meet, how to squeeze a nickel, how to have us help out wherever we could. Entering her own teens during the depression, she had a great example to follow in her own mother, the mother of eight. My mom learned well. She fed us well, made a lot of our clothes, and kept a lovely home. Though she took her vacation time from work when we were out of school for the summer, we all loved to be home with her. I particularly remember one day when we had school but she was off from work. Coming home that afternoon was such a treat because Mom was there to greet us. I still remember the smiles.

Once when funds were scarce and my Mom couldn’t get new gym sneakers for me, she darned the holes in the old ones with maroon thread - my school colors, maroon-and-white-dynamite! I thought it was great, and I think I started a minor fad. It never bothered my sister or me that she had hand-made our prom gowns, or any of our clothes. Though we didn’t have the expression “it is what it is" then, it was what it was, and it was normal life for us. Every once in a while during those years, Mom would get a little ahead. She said it never failed: one of us would need something out of the ordinary and she’d be back to square one.  She was there so often, she knew how to handle it. I am pleased to report that for the last years of her working life she had a wonderful job with my uncle, was paid a very good salary, and with family and friends, along with some world travel, enjoyed her retirement immensely.

And really, though it might be better, I’ll never be rich. My husband and I are contentedly comfortable. We were able to retire when he was 55. When you finally own your own home, have no outstanding loans or credit card balances, and drive a good ten-year-old car, yes, life can be called comfortable. Not rich, comfortable.

Friday, March 20, 2015

SIMPLIFY (Is that the same as ‘EXTERMINATE!’?) *

On February 11th, the BBC ran a piece called Why is Simplicity So Complicated? They said this: Technology is meant to make everyday life more efficient, but ironically, it too creates it share of unnecessary complexity with profuse password prompts and inboxes brimming with 500 new emails per day. Why do I need to sign into an app or website using Facebook or Twitter? And the pile-on of technological simplifiers that complicate things goes on and on — just how many passwords do you have to remember to sign into everything you need for daily life and work?

They also suggested creating “complexity-free zones”, not constantly checking your email, and blocking off a period of time when you are just not connected. They went on to suggest a few solutions for harried people in the workplace.

In these days of on-line connections, we know people far and wide. Our circles of friends and acquaintances have become almost unmanageable. More and more we are relating more to what’s going on with our friends than to what’s going on right in our own homes.

Many years ago when I first went on line, I delighted in the fast and easy way I could learn, keep records, and communicate with friends and family. I jumped right on Facebook when it started ten years ago. Oooh, but after a while it all got to be too time consuming. I still have a selected few sites I check as part of my daily routine, but I opted out or unsubscribed to a lot of the sites, especially Facebook, that were taking up chunks of time each day. I’ve had to adopt the KISS method for using my computer and its computing, communication, and storage abilities. Makes life simpler.

A few thoughts:
The BBC said “Technology is meant to make everything more efficient.” It ain’t necessarily so. I learned that back in the late 60’s when we converted our bank’s checking accounts to computer. It was all supposed to be fast and easy. It was, to an extent, but we were inundated with computer printouts that made work more cumbersome for everyone from the tellers to the bookkeeping staff, and it necessitated adding several more employees.  Two steps forward, one step back.

I am extremely grateful for the inundation of computer printouts. We needed a lot of extra storage space for all the daily printouts. This was in the days before the Federal powers-that-be could decide how long to keep the daily printouts that were 11" x 15" and several feet thick, and waaaay before ever increasing memory capacity in smaller and smaller machines. The bank had to convert some basement space, mainly stealing room from the men’s and ladies’ rooms, for storage. My future husband was the one hired to do the job.

Finally, this: the end of the piece, as they always do, the Beeb tacked on this note: To comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Capital, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter. It almost makes an oxymoron of the whole article.

*With apologies to Dr. Who and the Daleks

Friday, March 13, 2015


In The Writer’s Almanac, one of my favorite source for blog topics, I recently read a birthday piece on the novelist and travel writer Pico Iyer who said: "The less conscious one is of being 'a writer,' the better the writing. And though reading is the best school of writing, school is the worst place for reading. Writing should ... be as spontaneous and urgent as a letter to a lover, or a message to a friend who has just lost a parent ... and writing is, in the end, that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger."

That’s exactly it! I’m writing my blog as a letter to a stranger. After a long pause in writing for our community magazine, a pause in which I took up blogging, I recently wrote a brief piece on Thomas Wolfe and his Look Homeward, Angel. I never could get into any of Wolfe’s lengthy novels, and so I’d never been interested in him at all. Seeing as how he was born just a few hours from here in Ashville, North Carolina, I thought I’d look into the topic when I saw it on the list of suggested future topics. In just a few hours I was able to turn out what I think is a nice piece.

How? I re-discovered that I could take a few pages of basic, dry information, from Wikipedia and a few North Carolina travel websites in this instance, and, with a bit of paraphrasing and some judicious juxtapositioning, turn them into a fairly interesting article. At least it’s interesting to me: all I want to know about Wolfe and his work in a nutshell, and as it relates to me and my neighbors. I don’t know the tastes of these relative strangers in my community, but I tried to make it something they’d like. I remembered that I’d done it before for things like Audubon, table forks, the opera, and the end of the American Revolutionary War. (If it wasn’t for the South, we Americans would all be British.) I sincerely hope the 'strangers' in my community will find the article interesting and not too dry.

I do know and love several of my regular blog readers – and you know who you are – but I certainly don’t know every one of you. That’s why I try to make my blog interesting to a stranger. I can’t be sure what background you have, what makes you chuckle, what makes you sit up and take notice. I write only about what interest me, of course, and I hope it interest you too.

Friday, March 6, 2015


In March the wind blows down the door
And spills my soup upon the floor
It laps it up and roars for more
Blowing once, blowing twice
Blowing chicken soup with rice

Geeeeze Loueeeeeze, I did it again! I forgot to post the poem for March. We're heading to the last of the verses, though I didn't start them the same way Sendak did. I started in July. Maybe that what is throwing off my inner scheduling.
Yes, this March has been windy so far. It better not spill my soup upon the floor - I just cleaned and waxed it!


We are at the rainbow’s end – the end of the spectrum –
the ultimate ultraviolet.

For a wee bit of not too purple prose, I wrote about that color when I was in a purple state of mind. I’ve decided to bypass indigo on the ROY G. BIV color chart.  Really, I think they threw in the indigo to make Roy G. Biv readable and memorable as a mnemonic. Indigo is really a blue.

Purple as an ecclesiastical color is used in Advent and Lent, and in the last century or so, for funerals. Purple is the color of royalty. It was once prohibitively expensive, and only the rich could afford it. In ancient times, the dye was painstakingly manufactured from the shells of a Mediterranean type of spiny murex. Byzantine emperors always wore purple, and Roman officials edged their togas in that color. Kings and queens the world over wear purple robes for coronations and other regal occasions.  
Though purple pigment was available from manganese which was used widely in arts and crafts, along with a mixture of red and blue pigments, the color, in the shade of mauve, was synthesized as an aniline dye for fabric only in the late 19th century, after which the general populace could afford purple clothing.

Her Majesty - Born to the Purple
Purple prose is, and I quote Wikipedia, “extravagant, ornate or flowery.” Not too many authors resort to purple prose these days, but I’m thinking that the folks who want to lengthen a very basic boy-meets-girl story, or who get paid by the word for their fiction, do indulge in a modern day version of gimcrackery.  Instead of “he looked at his watch”, “he looked at his gold Patek Philippe watch” or, to expand on “her balance was precarious in her new high heels,” we read “her balance was precarious in her new red-soled Louboutin heels.”  In each one the author added three precious words to the cash count.

To my distress, purple, along with other unsuitable colors, has become a favorite color of nail polish. I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and not every woman can have model-worthy hands, but why do those with less than perfect fingernails insist on decorating them in strange (to me!) colors. Just saying…

The Purple Heart, “Purple mountain majesties”, Purple People Eater, Riders of the Purple Sage, The Color Purple, Purple Rain, Harold and the Purple Crayon: these are all singularities. There are very few general expressions for purple, except that one could be in a purple haze or perhaps be a shy violet.

The V in Roy G. Biv is violet, but must people usually just call it purple. Rom blue-purple to purple-red, the colors go back around the spectrum. Lavender, lilac, mauve, orchid, - there are just a few names for the various shades in the purple family, unless you throw in the magentas and pinks.

Finally, everyone of an age similar to mine knows about
Jenny Joseph’s “When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

I am already an old woman and sometimes I do wear purple, but I am past ‘practice’, past rehearsal: I am live and in person