Friday, January 29, 2016


Facial tissues are the bane of my existence these days. My husband is snotty! Not a snot, just snotty. It’s a long story – over forty years long.

For years, my husband carried a pocket bandana – not a handkerchief, no, he needed a big boy for his big blows. As I wrote in The Sneeze, he makes a great noise when he sneezes – same thing when he blows his nose. He had, still has, quite a collection of bandanas, but he no longer likes having a – how shall I put this delicately – a “wet” handkerchief in his pocket. In a way, I welcomed this change. You have never lived until you’ve hand-washed snotty bandanas while you’re traveling away from home. I did that for the first for the first few trips and then I rebelled. Perhaps that was the germ of the idea for him to use tissues.

Now he prefers to use Kleenex. Not just any facial tissue, the others are, too him, too scratchy, too thin, and prone to blow-through. He likes tissues: one blow and he can throw it away. I rarely encounter a snotty tissue these days, but with great regularity I get a laundry-full of Kleenex remnants. Why? Because he leaves the clean tissues in his pockets. He stocks up every morning. It’s a loud “aaarrrg!” when I open up the washer and see tissue bits all over everything. I try to get as much of it off as I can, but a lot winds up in the dryer and on the dryer filter – and all over the floor. It’s one of my earthly trials.

So, who’s the dummy here, him or me?  Me, of course, because only in recent months have I thought to go through his pockets before I throw the shirts or jeans into the washer. Live and learn – but why did it take me so long?

I do realize that I am not the only one with this problem - this laundress thought to take a picture of the mess.
It's such fun picking all the schnibs off of everything - not!

Friday, January 22, 2016


We are now somewhere right between the birthdays of the brothers Grimm, Jacob’s on January 4th, and Wilhelm’s on February 24th. Give or take the year, both are having their 230th birthdays.

Today, Grimms’ Fairy Tales don’t seem so grim, but that’s probably because most of us know the fairly innocuous Disney versions. Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and even The Brave Little Taylor, came to us complete with malevolent fairies, ugly stepsisters, witches, and giants, but they were soon dispatched in Technicolor and with catchy tunes. Reading the original versions, people today might be shocked at the violence in the old folk tales, but then again, after living in the midst of such movies as Nightmare on Elm Street and The Exorcist, maybe not.

The Grimms volunteered to collect local oral folktales for a friend’s project. They wound up writing them in collections of their own, eventually including over two hundred tales, and gradually toning down some of the stark images in the stories they heard. Modern versions, including operas, films, plays, and, of course, children’s books are mostly low key and very entertaining, but are not at all the moral tales and life lessons originally intended to teach the young.

Compare, for instance, Arthur Rackham’s illustrations for Cinderella and Snow White in 1900 for a volume of Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, to the Disney illustrations.  As the illustrations became simpler, rounder, with less detail and more color, so too did the stories become relatively sanitized over the years. The morals of the stories are still in place, but they warn more than scare.

The Seven Dwarfs are certainly less intimidating
in the Disney version.

Friday, January 15, 2016


In one of her Brunetti books, Death in a Strange Country, Donna Leon has her hero, Commissario Brunetti, think of the answer in a ‘hallucinogenic instant’. It is the “aha” moment, as Webster’s defines it: a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension. It can also be the instant, usually traumatic, when your life flashes before your eyes.   

On a regular basis, nine times out of ten, we just think of what has to be done and we do it. The hallucinogenic instant comes at that tenth time, the time when we are desperate. When we’ve got to solve the problem, do or die.

It also comes when, as noted, our life flashes before our eyes.  This has happened to me. Once, on an excruciating January day after a night of constant snow followed by freezing rain, I was dumb enough to try to get to work on the Long Island Expressway. Wrong decision! It wasn’t essential that I get there. Cresting a hill, the wind took my car and sent it sailing into another car that had had the same experience. Crash! But between the time the wind took the car and the time I crashed, time itself slowed down for me. I even had time to think about what I was thinking. I never thought I was going to die, but I did get a quick review of things past. Eerie, to say the least. I was right near the exit I would have taken, so I left the car and trudged through the ice and knee-deep snow to get to work and start the recovery process. As I walked, I thought more about the experience. It was nasty to be in the accident, but in a way I was delighted to then be among those whose life had flashed before their eyes and lived to tell the tale.

Friday, January 8, 2016


Prejudices: we like to think we’ve none, but we’ve all got them tucked away here and there. I believe that we think that when we’ve overcome our parents’ prejudices we are free of it all – ‘taint so. And really, sometimes I think we think we’re prejudiced when maybe ‘prejudice’ wrong word. I do not “pre-judge” people on looks, so I am supposing that I am not prejudiced. But then if someone opens their mouth and out comes something I don’t like or is just not correct – bingo! – the shutters go down. I love this quote from Maya Angelou: “When people show you who they are, believe them.” So maybe I’m not prejudiced, I’m postjudiced.

Friday, January 1, 2016


Today we start the new year. I wish all of my readers a happy, healthy, interesting 2016

The silver apples of the moon...

This poem is a lovely, dreamy thing to me, reminiscent of Robert Frost and Lewis Carroll, and it paints a watercolor picture in my mind. In my second year in college I took an unusual course in literature. I think the college was catering to this particular professor because the year was two semesters of her personal favorites: Chaucer and Yeats. Could there be and two writers more different?  I did enjoy both courses, except perhaps for the required Middle English language lab sessions, and this was one of my favorite of Yeats poems.


     The Song of Wandering Angus

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dangled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.