Sunday, December 14, 2014

Melmac Memories

How could I have forgotten?  Story in the current New Yorker brings back memories –  1950s,  house full of boomer babies,  and in the kitchen – MELMAC !!  We were so lucky to live in exciting modern times, when you could actually buy sturdy colorful dishes that the kids couldn’t break!

In a web site for Melmac collectors (yes, of course there are Melmac collectors) I just found this -- it looks almost like what we bought 60 years ago -- but we had tumblers as well, and I think we bought two sets.  Our neighbors did the same,  and then we cleverly swapped.  They took all the yellow and orange ones, we took the turquoise and grey.  Hard to believe I felt good about that, but I did.

As the years went on and the kids got older, eating off dull turquoise plates – and drinking from grey 'glasses' -- lost its appeal.  We replaced it with blue-and-white Johnson Brothers china, and I gave the Melmac set, still intact, to -- ???  Maybe to my sister?   At any rate, I do recall that whoever had it next complained to me one day that the damn stuff wouldn’t break.  

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Not a post -- just an update.  Definitely snowbound.  But I don't need to go anywhere anyhow, and for your viewing pleasure, here are a couple of birds that just stopped at the feeders by my desk window.   

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

So We Need Help

So I start reading this review of "So We Read On" and then I decide to save it instead -- it'll be more interesting if I read the book first. 

So I get the book from the library, start to read it and then decide to save it instead -- it'll be more interesting if I go back and re-read "The Great Gatsby" first.
But it seems there's no longer a copy of Gatsby in this house, so I find it on the Internet.  The University in Adelaide opines that it's no longer copyrighted in Australia, and their screen is most attractive.
But my back hurts sitting at the desk.  It'd be great to finish the remaining chapters lying down. 
So I dig out the Kindle I haven't opened in a year or two.  But I've forgotten how to download onto the Kindle. 
I already have the novel on my desk computer...or am I just signing on to that web site when I read?  How do I get the novel on to the Kindle? 
Someone's attention to this matter would be greatly appreciated. 
Then I could go back and read the library book. Then I could go back and read the review. 
          Which is where we started. 
          Thanking you in advance, 
                               I remain.

Friday, December 5, 2014

L'Avant-Midi d'Une Old Lady

Wake early as usual, turn off security system and bring in newspaper – for what it’s worth.  It weighs four ounces these days.

Not-quite-breakfast: apple and a chunk of cheese. 

Back to bed, read paper.

Turn on bedroom tv and the movie is the Romeo and Juliet that Zefferelli made in the 1960s.


Immediate memory of Dottie, BF (we bought houses next door to each other) but sadly, not F.  They saw that movie before we did, and I can still remember her report:

“The theatre was full of 14-year-old girls and they were all crying.  I was crying too and hoping that somehow it would have a different ending this time.”

Roger Tory Peterson signed our bird books!


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Is Nowhere Safe?

I thought it a bit excessive when the Chevy I bought last February received its third recall this year.  But it seems danger lurks everywhere -- this just in:  
Greetings from
We have learned of a potential issue regarding certain product(s) that our records indicate you purchased through the website:

Screaming Meanie Timer and Alarm Clock with 120 dB Alarm - assorted colors
For more details on what you should do, please contact Pacific Cornetta at
If you purchased this item for someone else, please notify the recipient immediately and provide them with the information concerning these issues.
We regret any inconvenience this may cause you but trust you will understand that the safety and satisfaction of our customers is our highest priority.
Thanks for shopping at

Some of my Thanksgiving visitors took that alarm clock (still in original package) because their son has trouble waking up. This is terrible!!  What if something horrible happens to my grandson and it's all my fault for buying that Screaming Meanie???!!!  As Amazon cautions: please notify the recipient immediately and provide them with the information  I won't rest until  you GET IN TOUCH WITH SIMON AND WARN HIM!!!

Good thing they went home by train.  At an airport they might have been arrested for trying to hijack a plane with an alarm clock. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Things Change

We're back-and-forthing via email (family coming from Los Angeles, Scotland, Milwaukee, Manhattan, Boston)  to plan Thanksgiving dinner.  My query about whether the shopping list should call for whole squash or packages of cut-up chunks brings this response, from someone I still regard as one of the young women: 
It annoys me to pay people to cut up is just not that hard to do.
I'd like to think I felt that way at her age, but I can't remember.  At any rate -- these days I'm the exact opposite of annoyed.  Almost anything is indeed that hard to do, and I'm delighted if I can find someone else to do it.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Edith and the Perfectly Fine, Warm and Toasty Copacetic Week

Sorry, keep forgetting to give you an update.  This is a much better week.  Both cars are  now in running order (okay, the one outside is encased in ice, but if it ever thaws I believe it'll work just fine.)   I'm wearing two perfectly good hearing aids.  I have not had a stroke.  We did not get all that snow, just a pretty coating.   I looked at my face in the mirror and wondered why on earth I thought a few new blemishes would even be noticed in among all the rest of the wear and tear.  (No illustration available.) 
Everything is copacetic.  If you're too young for that word,  you can look it up.  Wikipedia lists five possible etymologies, "all of which lack supporting evidence."  But it describes this week.
North Americaninformal
adjective: copacetic; adjective: copasetic
  1. in excellent order.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Edith and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

 Edith and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

Actually, I’m perfectly cheerful.  Wotthehell !  But you know – I'd love to list everything that’s happened since Monday. And this blog is, after all, supposed to be about Being Old.  So
* First thing Monday morning, the white electric car wouldn’t start.  Lots of back-and-forthing with the service department and it’s still dead five days later.
* Monday --  Doctor said yes, as I suspected, I'd had a TIA mini-stroke (no illustration.)
* Backed little yellow car into post while leaving doctor’s parking lot (you don’t want to see that rear end.) Won’t be able to have scrapes fixed till electric car useable. (see above)
* Googled TIA on Internet, where first four sites all said “one in three go on to have a stroke” – one site added helpfully “within a year.”  Decided not to look at any more sites.
* At audiologist's, ldropped off  right hearing aid to be sent out for repair.
* At dermatologist's (see below) discovered left hearing aid had fallen out somewhere.  Conversation muffled.
* Called audiologist and heard with difficulty over the phone that hearing aid insurance recently expired.
* At library, was told I never returned that book I cannot find.  Also owed $9.35 overdue charges.
* At dentist’s office told appointment no good, protocol changed yet again, must prepare with antibiotics (re old hip replacement), pick up prescription, come back next week.
* Had not one but two of those migraine auras or whatever you call them.  They’re not all that irritating but they make this list more impressive so I’m including them.
* Friday, today,  had three pre-cancerous thingies removed from face.  Will I look human by Thanksgiving? ( latest count is 21 for dinner.)
* Yesterday suddenly couldn’t breathe, throat abruptly closed up, first laryngeal spasm I've had since the summer.  As usual, thought I was going to die.  As usual, didn’t.
* So that was good.  And it’s only Friday.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Unsolved Mystery

I arrived at the Crab Shack in Henrietta (Hta?) at ten to six, nd parked next to a shiny red Chevy Spark.  This is worth mention, as my little car is evidently no big seller – I think that’s only the fifth Spark I’ve seen since I bought mine in February.
The pleasant girls at the reception desk had only one six o’clock reservation – for 18 persons, pharmaceutical company gathering, so I settled down on a couch near their desk and watched the passing scene.  Not a face I recognized.  Not a clue. 
At ten after six I ordered take-out clams, which came after ten more minutes, and I left at twenty after six.  (If I remember right, you had to give a full professor twenty minutes?)
Sixteen dollars brought one of the smallest orders of fried clams I’ve ever seen.  I’m not sure the chef could get a job in Maine, but maybe it’s just that things no longer taste the way I remember.  They were indeed whole clams, though, soft-bellied, with a whiff of the sea when you bit into them.  Wish I’d thought to take a picture when they arrived so you could share the whole experience, but I hadn’t had any supper and I’m afraid I drove home one-handed.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Crab Suspense

Okay, gang -- the day we've all been waiting for.  This evening at 6 pm I go to the Crab Shack in Henrietta, in response to a cryptic note on my calendar that says 
6 Hta Crab Shack
or maybe that's not what it says.  Those of you who commented didn't seem to think so.
By this time tomorrow it will be over.  We may know all.  Or we may not.
I looked up the menu -- you can't read it, but it lists fried clams.  I kind of doubt that.  I don't think there's anything but clam strips once you get west of Albany.
So exciting!  Suspense all round.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Stock Tip

Last winter, when the land was full of snowbanks and driving Norm's car felt like piloting an ocean liner, I traded it in on the smallest four-door sold.  I know it doesn't look it,  but that's a four-door -- and it comes in yellow!

I just received my third recall notice -- that's one every three months. 
They write that this is General Motors recall 14456.  That's the zip code for Geneva, about 30 miles from here. 
They're definitely running scared.
          If you have GM stock, my considered advice is -- SELL!  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Peaceable Kingdom

As we speak, three stags lying around in the backyard -- pictures just taken from my desk.  They won't be this amicable in the spring, that's for sure.


I'll be grateful if anyone reading this can tell me why I've written "6 (if that is a 6) Hta Crab Shack" on the calendar for a week from today. 
Yes, it'll be Julie's birthday.  
The Sage Rutty I understand.
The M-J  I'm going to skip and it's just as well if you don't know what it is. 
But do you think I should go to the Crab Shack in Henrietta (next town over) at six next Wednesday evening?
And stand by the entrance? 
And see what happens? 
If anything?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Thank you Ma'am.

Amy reports that, yellow being the suffragette's color,  she took a yellow rose to Susan B. Anthony's grave this morning.  People had already been there, leaving two pots of roses, a stone with a ribbon on it, 27 assorted pebbles, and -- as we did last year at this time -- an I VOTED TODAY sticker.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Something to Look Forward to

You may want to calculate your own life expectancy, as I just did, on this web site.  I don't remember now where I found the address, but it must have been somewhere reliable. has evidently been discussed in a number of places I see regularly, including CNN, ABC news, USAToday and the like.  It uses the latest studies to predict one's probable lifespan.
I answered 40 questions, and it was clear the answers had relevance to life expectancy:  they asked of course about cigarette and alcohol use, but then also probed family health records, diet, exercise, stress levels, work load and the like. 

You may recall that I started this blog, 86andholding, more than two years ago.  Now I'm in my PIANO year (think about it.) So I'm eager to share with you the good news I just received from this computerized state-of-the-art analysis:

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Day in the Life

     This blog was supposed to be about Being Old, and today it is.  Looking back, I realize it has been a Senior Day All the Way.
     Morning -- Elder Law Fair, sponsored by half a dozen organizations including the County Bar Association.  The flyer promised it would start with Refreshments at 8:30 -- alas! nothing set out but coffee urns and hot water for tea.  You know the drill  -- the usual opportunity to cruise exhibitors' tables and pick up imprinted pens, key chains, and wrapped candy, all of which went into a bright red tote bag from the AARP. 
  I breakfasted on tea and kisses.  Sounds like a song title.
    The first lawyer who spoke said he preferred the phrase Seasoned Citizens, which he then used  throughout his presentation.  Maybe I'm the only one of several hundred attendees who found that somehow patronizing?  as if Senior was a bad word?  I did pick up a few facts, though -- did you know Americans aged 85 and older constitute less than two percent of the population?  I realize there's no particular merit in simply breathing for a long time,  but it doesn't take much these days to make me feel special.
Retired Teachers
Autumn Leaves
     After a couple of breakout sessions, I left for the town's weekly Senior Lunch, where after the meal we had a concert of Fall Music sung by -- it does seem to be the theme of the day --  the Retired Teachers Chorus.  Music now strikes my ears as painful cacaphony, so I scuttled out after their first number, which was the appropriate Autumn Leaves.  
     Then in the afternoon -- I swear this was all coincidence -- I had an appointment at a local non-profit called Lifespan.  My health insurer is discontinuing the fine prescription drug coverage it's been offering -- well, it was somewhat fine.  I have fallen into the Donut Hole
Donut Hole
and trust me, that's quite a shock.  I've been at sea, trying to find the right new insurer for stand-alone  Part D -- spent hours on the Internet, studied formularies -- imagine learning  a new word at my age --  and finally gave up in frustration.

     That Lifespan appointment turned out to be with a woman who took courses and passed an exam to be certified as a Medicare Counselor or whatever they call it.  She said there's at least one available in every county, free.  She typed my meds into just the right screen, hit keys to research things I hadn't even considered  -- would I save money buying online? -- did any insurer have special arrangements with pharmacies in my zip code? -- and came up with exactly the right company (four stars out of five in consumer satisfaction, too.)
     Best of all, when I said I wouldn't be able to enroll over the phone and was stressed out by the Internet, she offered to do it for me.  She spent another half-hour on the phone -- even she found it frustrating.  But at least she could hear what they were saying on the other end.  And I'm all set!
     You've got to work at Being Old.

Friday, October 24, 2014

My Musical Career

      In 1936, during the Depression,  I was having trouble in school and my mother was called to the Principal’s Office.  I believe the problem was “talking too much” – probably disruptive in class, perhaps because I was only 10 years old in the 7th grade.  We’d moved around a lot, doubling up with relatives as Daddy’s employers went out of business one after another.  I’d  go from a progressive school to a backward one and be “skipped” a grade.  They did that in those days.
     The principal suggested therapy -- it must have been free -- at the Judge Baker Foundation in Boston.  They evidently recommended “enrichment”, for I suddenly found myself joining the Girl Scouts, attending camp (on scholarship), and taking free clarinet lessons at school.
     A few years ago, my friend Mary wrote on her impressive University letterhead to the Foundation and secured the transcripts of my interviews.  Reading them over, I was surprised to see that The Depression was like another member of our family.  A clarinet reed cost 25 cents, the instruction book cost 25 cents, and the family was discussing – which should we buy first?
     The school lent me an instrument that was antique even for those days – a one-piece metal clarinet.  I could join the junior high band as soon as I’d memorized the third clarinet part to “Military Escort” – I remember it to this day.
     But what I started out to tell you was that my clarinet teacher told me he’d been playing in the band at the PanAmerican Exposition in Buffalo when President McKinley was shot.  I had a vague feeling that meant he was extremely old.  Recently figured he might have been in his 20s that day in Buffalo, in his 50s when he told me – younger than any of my kids are right now.
     Some years ago I joined a seniors ensemble sponsored by the Eastman School of Music, a group eventually named the  New Horizons Band.  That  always sounded to me like a drug re-hab group --  I had proposed The Grateful Living.  Anyhow -- some years after that I found my embouchure was going the way of all the other muscles, back hurt sitting in rehearsal, hearing was threatened by the trumpets, and brain started hearing music as jumbled cacophony.
      End of my musical career.  My clarinets ended up on eBay, all but one -- my granddaughter has it in Vancouver.  She didn't need a teacher -- you can learn an instrument these days just by watching YouTube.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Today's Fun

As I may have mentioned, I’m clearing out old papers, and a couple of weeks ago I found this 1876 document.  No idea when or how it came into my possession but I know why I kept it – it’s about a mortgage loan between
                                      DARIUS PALMER
and – here’s where it gets really delightful –
                               COLUMBUS LOVELY.
Also enjoyable -- that semi-literate addendum extending the loan.  It contrasts nicely with the law clerk’s more polished wording and penmanship but I guess it got the job done.
There is, of course, no reason to hold on to this but I couldn’t bear to throw it out, so I posted it on eBay ten days ago.  As the folded document fits nicely in a one-stamp envelope, I even offered Free Shipping. 
       There was just one bid, there’s just one person in the world who wants this, and today they found him !!   He lives in Levittown, PA. 
       My Paypal account (so handy for Internet shopping) is all of $5 richer.  And -- over the years I’ve had a few interesting chats with eBay buyers, so I emailed this guy to ask if he is by any chance a banker or lawyer who might want to frame this and display it.
       If you’re not using eBay, you’re missing some fun and games.  Trust me – it’s user-friendly.  If I figured it out you can too.  I never even had to consult a grandchild.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Answer to Comment

In case you don't read the comments --
First response to the post about my war-time job as a teen-aged journalist asked -- was my job taken over by a man when the war ended?  And my immediate reaction was
"Who even noticed?"  We were all so eager to make up for the four years we'd lost, most of us couldn't wait to get married.  Where do you think all you baby boomers came from? and why the 1950s were so contentedly suburban?.  My recollection is hazy, but I believe the Feminist Movement didn't raise our consciousness (mine anyhow) until those babies started leaving the nest.

Pink was Big in the '50s.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

My Career as a Stringer

I was a teen-aged stringer.
In 1943, with all the young men away at war in Europe and the South Pacific, girls could go for just about any jobs they wanted.
     My cousin in Boston, drafted after one semester of college, had sent me his Introduction to Journalism textbook. And having memorized the whole book, as soon as high school was out in May I walked confidently “down-street” in Penn Yan and talked to Sidney Ayres, editor of the village's weekly newspaper.  He hired me on the spot, not only as a full-time reporter, but also as – thrilling title -- the Yates County Correspondent for four city dailies.
     I brought in my prized possession, a portable Royal typewriter that had no keys for the numbers one or zero (capital “I” and “O” served instead.) Sid squeezed in a battered little desk out by the job printing presses in the back room, and I was a journalist!
     Each story was written first for the Penn Yan paper, deadline Wednesday noon for publication on Thursday.  (One of my first assignments was keeping in touch with the hospital on Wednesday mornings to see if anyone was going to die in time.)  Then, if the item seemed important enough, I wrote it with two different leads.  One was intended for the state edition of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the other for that city's Times-Union.   With each I typed a carbon copy, and those went to the Elmira paper and – if I remember right -- Geneva.  I do know my deadline was three in the afternoon, when some copy left town on the Greyhound bus, and the rest went, I believe, on the five o’clock train to Rochester.
      I remember interviewing an old man who had piloted steamboats on Keuka Lake, and taking his picture with the paper’s Speed Graphic, with its 4 by 5-inch film pack.  For that article Sid gave me a by-line; in those days by-lines were seldom awarded and it was my first.  I remember being sent to interview a brand-new war widow only a few years older than I was, talking in her kitchen while she fed her son in his high chair.  All of this, of course, on foot.  I had no license, no car, no gasoline ration. 
     I remember counting the coded blasts on the fire whistle that told where a blaze was located, and seeing all the shopkeepers on the two blocks of Main Street dash out for a little excitement as volunteer firemen.  I remember being sent out on D-Day, sixth of June, 1944, to write about the village’s reaction. It was a beautiful sunny day, and all the church doors were open.  Inside, people simply sitting in the pews or kneeling, nothing going on, not a sound.  Silence.

     After a few weeks, the elderly journeymen in the back room offered to teach me something about printing.  They promised to show me type lice, which nested in between lines of metal linotype slugs.
      “You have to look close,” they said, “bend right down and we’ll pull the slugs apart so you can see them.”  And of course, as soon as I did, they slapped the column of slugs back together and I got a faceful of ink and cleaning fluid.
      “Now you’re a real printer” they chortled, and wasn’t I proud!
     I believe Sid paid me $15 a week, the equivalent of perhaps $200 today.  And in addition, he showed me how to bill the Rochester papers as a stringer.  Each day I’d scan my parents’ copies.  With any luck I’d find something of mine, to clip (alas, without the headline) and paste in a long rolled-up strip.  At the end of the month I’d stretch a string the length of the roll, measure the string, and send in the roll with a bill for ten cents a column inch. 
     Why I wasn't instructed to just measure the roll of paper itself, I have no idea, but I’ve always assumed the process was what made me a stringer.
     I never got to see the glamorous press rooms of those Rochester newspapers, and I spoke with an editor just once.  As September approached, I telephoned (my first long-distance call!) to tell the state editor someone else would be taking over till next spring; I was leaving for college.  And he said – it was one of the most wonderful moments of my life –

“It has been a pleasure receiving your copy.”



Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Whichever You Prefer

The book has a delightful cover (which is NOT a portrait of  Jane Austen, no matter what the Rice family maintains – but that’s another story) and Barnes and Noble has nicely published this British work, first printed in 1905 – which last bit they don’t exactly lie about, but the date is pretty much hidden at the very end of the jacket blurbs.
There's the 1905.
No mention of 1905.

Fairly good book, actually.  Scholars haven’t discovered much that’s new about Jane Austen in the past century anyhow, and the Edwardian prose style is interesting.  So I get to Chapter Five, which is going to discuss The Six Novels.  The Author begins by criticizing “what purports to be a book” recently published (1905, remember) that summarizes the plots of the novels.  And she compares anyone who’d try to read Austen that way with a lazy diner who would rather gobble – say – hamburger, instead of coping with the challenge of a good rib roast.
Well, what she actually wrote was “…the laziness that prefers hash to joints.”

The phrase did give me pause.