Saturday, April 11, 2015

Power of the Press

A blog comment from Anonymous (CMS) questions whether the proprietor of that funky Lamp Repair shop looks old enough to have been there when I accompanied my husband to pick up a repair 25 years ago.  He is indeed, Con, and here's how I know.  When I stepped through his front door, he came out from the back workshop and stopped me in my tracks with two words:  "Edith Lank".
And as further proof of how old his is -- he still reads the newspaper.  Not only does he  remember when I came in with Norm, he said he sees my picture at the head of the column every week.
That picture is about two centimeters high -- a bit more than half an inch.  But it's evidently more powerful than I ever realized.  Last week's mail brought a letter from jail.
That happens a couple of times a year -- the address is in a lot of newspapers and prisoners are lonely.  This one tells me that he is bored and lonely and with one look at my picture he was "instantly turned on (smiley-face icon)".  Not bad for a two-centimeter head-and-shoulders of a woman in her 90th year, actually. 
He's looking at the picture as he writes and "all I see is beauty and wisdom.  I'm very attracted to women of your era and age." 
He quotes the column's promise to answer all letters* -- tells me he's getting out in 10 months.  And he's incarcerated, as it happens, in my state.   
The kids recommend I get a post office box immediately.  But that seems silly -- the address has been in newspapers ever since 1975, and anyhow, it'd be locking the barn door after this particular horse has already been stolen.

*will not answer this one.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Very bad news.

These days the doctor spends a lot of your visit typing away, and when you check out you're presented with a stapled bunch of papers.  The secretary highlights your next appointment, because who's going to read all the rest of that stuff?  At least, that's the way it goes at my doctor's these days.  But yesterday I figured I'd see what all the rest of the printout said. 
I wish I hadn't.
Very bad news on page 4.
My vitals are listed -- blood pressure actually good for a change.  Weight where I knew it was.
But height -- ay, there's the rub.
For lack of 16/100th of an inch, I'm now less than five feet tall.
Reading that is the kind of moment you don't forget. 
It's now official. 
Less than five feet tall.
It's amazing, what a difference losing an inch or two makes.   You learn to make adaptations -- I rearranged the refrigerator shelves with the big stuff on middle shelves instead of top ones -- and then found exactly that change in a list of Aging in Place suggestions.  (And by the way -- when you come right down to it, everyone on this planet, this minute, is Aging in Place.  No big deal.)
But anyhow -- if you're looking for a thoughtful inexpensive gift for your Grandmother, let me recommend The Grabber.   I wasn't sure how to google for illustrations.  Grabber is the term we've always used in this house, but that didn't seem very technical.  We can't have been the only ones to call it that, though -- Dozens of  "images" came up immediately.
You don't need to wait till you're old.  You don't even need to have a grandmother.  Get one today and you'll thank me when the sweater falls behind the couch, or the boy throws the newspaper far into the bushes.
Assuming you still get the newspaper.    

Friday, April 3, 2015

I Wish You Could See

Two days ago I realized I needed a pair of brass candlesticks, preferably old, and I needed them in a hurry.  For some reason I didn't even think of the Internet -- probably because of the hurry part.   And for some reason what came into my head was an odd shop on the other side of town I'd seen once, maybe 25 years ago, when Norm needed to pick up something metal that needed fixing.

What was I thinking?  That the metal guy  would tell me where to look?  Was the shop still there? Could I even find it? 

Well, it was and I did.  And I wish I could show you that place -- turns out its name is Lamp Repair.  I should have taken a picture of the show window -- at any rate, here's what that window looks like from inside.


The showroom has two counters.  This one, complete with properietor,  shows his back workroom.











And here's the front counter.  I'll give you another shot of that, so you can find the cash register (look hard in the middle of the picture.)
















And what did I come away with, out of all that?  Can you believe?


When I got home, 15 minutes on the Internet identified the pair as inverted-beehive- and-diamond pattern, 1800s Victorian, made in England. 



Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Today Only

You may want to take a look at Google Maps today -- try an address in the city.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Censored Verses

As a P. S. to yesterday's Woody/Seeger concert:
If I was hearing right, one singer appeared to have unfamiliar verses in This Land is Your Land. I did catch one line "...on the back side, it didn't say nothing" -- followed by a smattering of applause and laughter from people in the audience who had better hearing aids than I do.  So today I googled the phrase and found original verses that record companies omitted in the days of the Commie Scare and the Cold War:
One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple
By the Relief Office I saw my people —
As they stood hungry, I stood there wondering if
This land was made for you and me
 
Was a high wall there that tried to stop me
A sign was painted said: Private Property,
But on the back side it didn't say nothing —
That side was made for you and me.

Another P. S.:  Some years ago I tuned in to the CBC -- used to pick up Toronto nicely in the car -- and came in on the last few minutes of a program that was bewailing the US influence on Canadian Culture.  Even our movies copy them,  the host complained.  And then there's all that pop music from the States ...etc. etc.  And then the program ended with his usual theme song:
This land is your land, this land is my land.
From Bonavista to Vancouver Island
From the Arctic Circle to the Great Lake waters
                                                             This land was made for you and me.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hootenanny !

I don’t go to concerts any more – that excellent book Shouting Won’t Help used the right word – orchestras now sound like “cacophony”.  But guitar is another story, and the names Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger stood out in boldface from the list of What’s Doing Today.  Who, I wondered, would attend?  who would perform? who remembers the Depression, the Labor Movement , the Vietnam War?
Well – the church sanctuary was filled.  Those pews were just right for an audience of more than 500, average age probably near 70.  I’m used to older groups these days, but not to at least half of them being men.  Lots of grey and nicely trimmed facial hair in evidence, both audience and performers.  If you want a clue to the generation represented – every fourth musician was named Dave.  And why had I bothered to change out of dungarees (okay, blue jeans) just because I was going to a concert?  I'd say maybe 300 people were wearing them.  Some on stage.

We had it all – Union Maid, Deportees, Hobo's Lullaby – and the old men in the audience knew all the words and sang along.  We had a mandolin, an autoharp, banjo, harmonica, lots of mikes, cords, wires and speakers, and a stunning collection of guitars.  When they started Where Have All the Flowers Gone I thought – well, that was a popular hit, they could have skipped it.  And five seconds later,  surprised myself by bursting into tears -- nothing like music to bring back old emotions.

And we ended – of course – in old-fashioned hootenanny style, with all the performers on the platform (one hesitates to call it the stage in a church) and the number that’s always sure-fire for group singing – This Land is Your Land.  Then it was We Shall Overcome, which evidently involves grasping the hands of those next to you and swaying back and forth ( I guess I’m behind the times.)  That would, I thought, have been more effective if there’d been more than one black person in the place.  But it meant everybody's heart was in the right place, so what the hey.

The best thing that happened all day came after that, in the sunshine of the parking lot.  One of the women singers came up and asked wasn’t I the person who’d heard them sing Pete Seeger’s Get Up and Go at the Farm Market and asked for the words?  That must have been six or seven years ago – and what followed was even better:  She said she remembered my sister.  She’d been in the chorus of the early Gilbert & Sullivans in the troupe Esther founded – a thriving institution that has already survived my sister by more than 20 years.  I smiled all the way home.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Red Birds and Deer

What will they spend considerable money to say about you when you're gone? 
Whoever wrote Doris's death notice the other day took pains to let the world know that Dodie collected red birds.  This doesn't strike me as odd, for I know someone who has a bedroom devoted to hundreds of teddy bears, most of them purple.

And I know I promised not to send any more bulletins about the weather hereabouts, but this was exciting -- I just saw a deer for the first time in a couple of months.  I've been worried about them.  This one found a narrow green patch that just opened up-- just as well it doesn't know we're promised

 
                          ____________________________
                              
                              more snow over the weekend.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Leisure Seeker

 While I was snowbound, I ran out of library books and took another look at the for-some-reason-I-don't-want-to-give-these-away bookcase.  I pulled out what may be the most recent book in there  (copyright 2009) -- The Leisure Seeker.  It's just as delightful a re-read as it was in the first place.  My only objection is to the picture on the cover of my paperback.  It would appear I came away with a pretty good mental picture of the 1978 motor home known as the Leisure Seeker.  For starters, it's a real motor home -- I knew that as soon as Ella mentioned the captain's chairs for driver and passenger, but the one shown here is just a trailer.  And I photographed a closeup of that illustration, to show you what struck me as completely wrong -- John's fine, but Ella was definitely not slim, and there's no way she could possibly have stood on one foot. 
I was glad to see, googling for illustrations, that the hardcover edition shows the proper vehicle, sneaking away from Detroit heading for Route 66.     I'm trying to find the right way to persuade you to get hold of this novel, because I know you'll enjoy it.  Granted, there aren't too many stories with protagonists in their 80s, but it is totally captivating.  Of all the review raves (it must have been one of those that put me on to it in the first place) the one I like best calls it "Kerouac-lite...On The Road with shorter sentences and less drugs and sex." 
 But not, I would add,
without any.

P. S.  I know I promised to stop already with the winter complaints, but this morning I finally succeeded in photographing a snowfall -- don't know if the flakes will show up on your screen, but anyhow, here's what today started out like.  For a change.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy Spring!

Last time I'll post about the weather, I promise.  But it's hard to resist, waking up on this first day of spring -- here's what it looks like out there this morning, and you probably won't be surprised to hear that it is
snowing.  Heavily and sincerely.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Thoreau Wouldn't Approve

But I shall use this improved means to share today's unimproved news with you  -- here's a glimpse of the birthday bulbs on my desk, and behind them -- what you can't see in this picture of the back yard is--
 that it is snowing. 
 
P. S.  I just  walked past the livingroom, which I don't enter from one visitor to the next, and happened to notice that in spite of all that thaw, we're still pretty well supplied with icicles.
 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Breaking News, Maine to Texas


Running out of library books while snowbound, I pulled Henry David Thoreau back out of the "please-take-I'm-never-going-to-read-these-again" bookcase and spent some time in Walden.  There I found the exact quote I've always remembered as "but what does Maine have to say to Texas?"
     Here's what Thoreau wrote:
     "... improved means to an unimproved end… We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate."
 
      When I'm on Skype -- by some miracle not only talking to my son in Vancouver but seeing him at the same time -- I use that fantastic opportunity to tell him that the temperature finally got above freezing here.  Then my daughter instant-messages from New York, taking a few minutes at work to find out if my driveway is cleared yet. 
      I think of my grandparents, leaving home knowing they'd never hear their parents' voices again or see their faces.  I'm sure the rare letters that made it back and forth to Lithuania, to Bessarabia, didn't waste space talking about the weather. 
    The younger ones among you will just take today's communication opportunities for granted but these mysterious miracles are incredible to someone my age.  So now with the usual vague guilt feelings, I'll use this fantastic venue to show you something completely trivial -- after our three days of sunshine and thaw, here's the view just now outside the office window.  Yes, we had a lot of snow.
     Still do.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Can one post a video?

No, I guess one can't.  This is a lovely bit, with tremendous bubbly sound, but I suspect you're going to get only a jumpy glimpse of what's going on all around the house.  Pity.  But anyhow --
 
 
 
 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

It's still

Still below freezing, still snowing.  Just a week ago I foolishly abandoned my resolution to remain snowbound and left the house.  As this blog is supposed to be about Being Old, I'll report that I tripped at the entrance to the post office, on a mat placed there so one wouldn't trip.  My instant reaction was a triumphant I DIDN'T BREAK ANYTHING -- if you're older than 70, you know how I felt.
For eight days now I've watched this black eye, hoping it would fade before I'm to give a (sold-out!) talk on Tuesday, but not much is happening.  It's suggested I say my husband hit me, but as some of those present may know he died four years ago, that's not going to work.
But back to this unexpected receipt of bon appetit magazine.  I am bemused by a full-page photo of Hearts of Palm and Artichoke Aquachile Negro and then -- whaddye know!

 Here's a perfectly recognizable recipe.  This sandwich uses cheese with an English name, and the bread is -- as it should be -- what my son Dov calls "fluffy".  As usual, they have to do Something Different, and this time it's spreading the outside of the slices with mayonnaise before grilling on a buttered pan.  Any of you ever done it that way?  Maybe that's the secret of those fantastic ones at the drive-in in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.  I fully intend to try this, as soon as I can get someone to dig out the car -- at the moment I'm out of fluffy bread.
BTW -- can someone tell me how to change the info under my picture?  I'm 89 now and we journalists are sticklers for accuracy.  

Friday, March 6, 2015

I'm Baa..aa..K

Okay, the kids came from both ends of the continent and in-between, we celebrated my birthday (I'm even farther away from 86 now) and they've gone and it's still below freezing and it's still snowing.  Dannie took some better pictures of my icicles.


 
 Then today the mail brought a copy of the magazine bon appetit.  How to type the name of that magazine, when it likes lower case, and I'm too lazy to find out how to make the acute e?  At any rate, the mailing label says welcome and that I have a  subscription.  
At first glance, I thought the cover featured snakes, but almost immediately I decided those were electric cords.  Then closer inspection revealed that I'm being urged to try for black spaghetti.
    I realize there's no point in featuring Chef Boyardee on the cover of a gourmet magazine.  Of course they have to come up with Something Different.  Still -- black spaghetti?
   But if it was you who sent that as a birthday gift, thank you.
   I guess.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

It's Still Going But I'm Not

Well, when yet another day dawned without any prediction that  the thermometer would ever rise above freezing, I gave up.  Possibly the Karft macaroni had something to do with it.  At any rate, an obliging young man freed the yellow car.
-- I don't dare take the little electric out in this --it's cozy in the garage.

And now for  your viewing pleasure I append a view of the frig yesterday morning -- and another taken Friday afternoon, following a triumphant foray to Wegmans.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Snowbound Adventure (Continued)

Yes, it is still going on and on.  The longterm forecasts offer only new storms with more of the same.  Eight below zero promised for tomorrow morning.  It's still cozy and delightfully leisurely in here.  I’m not saying we’re running low on food –
but last night I broke into the Kraft Macaroni I stock for  grandsons.  Note the last of the carefully-rationed orange juice.  

And behold --  the Fates took notice!  Just now, as we speak, an emergency supply of orange juice is delivered  by a venturesome niece. 
       This is turning into a fine adventure.