An attitude of gratitude, that’s the philosophy I find myself embracing lately. A prime example is when I turned on the TV a week ago Sunday and saw the news accounts of the tragic train accident on the Metro North Railroad . Since the Hudson Line is the line I take in to the city, I identified viscerally. Thinking of the four people killed I found the same haunting thoughts echoing through my mind as had when I’d heard about the workers in the Twin Towers or the students and teachers at Sandy Hook. They left home, thinking it was going to be a day like any other…….but they never came back.
I come back again and again, and I don’ t take it for granted.
My thoughts were with those people this weekend. I was attending a party in Manhattan Friday night, and going back again Sunday morning to meet my friend, CM for our annual museum visit and lunch. Readers of this blog know that normally I’d be kicking up my heels in joy to be traveling to the city twice in one weekend. And I was, although perhaps my kick was a little lower. I wasn’t afraid of traveling that stretch of track so soon after operations resumed. I was just respectful.
And while I waited for the train I took in the beauty of the Hudson. Yes, even in winter:
OK I cheated and waited in the warmth of the overhead waiting area.
I enjoyed the southern view
I enjoyed the beauty of the old station
I noticed the flag was flying at half staff for Nelson Mandela
I almost missed the train!
From the train, I appreciated the soon to be replaced Tappan Zee Bridge, and was grateful for all the times I’ve driven across it safely – especially that time in 1969 when the wind blew my VW into the next lane.
I appreciated that I arrived safely at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
And that once again got a chance to see the treeAnd the precious 18th century figurines beneath it.
And most of all…..
I was grateful to arrive back at the Peekskill Train Station safe and sound.
I guess you could call this part two to A Familiar Sight, a post I wrote about how I’d been obsessed with a white dog who haunted my high school years, appearing only when I had no witnesses, and the current illusive Pink Cadillac who has taken his place. So I suggest if you missed it, you take a look before proceeding.
After that initial, no camera moment, with a score of Pink Cadillac 1, Virginia 0, that dang-nab Pink Cadillac continued to haunt me. One day I looked up from my desk, and there it was approaching the building.
“Look look there it is!” I may have startled my office mate but at least I had a witness. I grabbed my camera and ran out to the parking lot.
“Where’s the Pink Cadillac?” I asked the woman I’d nearly knocked over
Her answer? What Pink Cadillac?
How could she miss a Pink Cadillac? I began to think I was hallucinating. But no, I did have those two witnesses.
Okay – Pink Cadillac 2, Virginia 0
I took a day off a week or so later and when I returned, this photo was waiting for me in my email inbox.
Was he taunting me? Ol’ PC must have known I wasn’t there and took a leisurely saunter up the road. But what he didn’t know was that I had a trusty office mate armed with a smart phone
OK PC – 3 V – 0
I’d almost conceded the game when what should I see, today? And with my camera within reach -
See, I wasn’t crazy, not about this anyway. He’d turned around before entering the lot. That’s why the woman I almost knocked over had said “What Pink Cadillac?”
And so we bid adieux to a mystery.
Now if only I could find that white dog!
On my way to buy underwear is the answer.
Where were you on November 22, 1963 when you heard John F Kennedy had been shot? is the question.
I was obeying my mother’s command. Other mothers admonished their children to always wear clean underwear lest they be hit by a car and taken to the hospital and be found to have on dirty undies. For my mother, it was preparation for any trip I took. “Go buy new underwear.”
Th trip I was about to undertake was not an exciting one. Part of the senior year experience at my Catholic Girl’s high school was a three-day retreat at a monastery in New Jersey during the short school week preceding Thanksgiving. We had been dismissed after lunch the preceding Friday because ????????????I have no idea why since we wouldn’t be departing until Sunday. Maybe it was so we could all go buy new underwear!
At any rate, there I was walking west on East 75th street toward 5th avenue to take a downtown bus to EJ Korvette’s on 47th and Fifth. It was a cold blustery day, much like today, and as I rushed head-on into the wind blowing east from Central Park, a doorman stepped out of the polished wood shelter of an apartment house lobby and called out
“The president was just shot.”
I don’t recall what I said. Probably “oh no.” The next half hour or so is a blank. I probably headed on in disbelief and waited for the bus.
My next recollection is visual – looking out the window as the bus headed south and noticing the clusters of people planted outside stores windows on Fifth Avenue, watching news accounts on televisions that had been placed in the windows.
The next memory is aural - the eerie sound of all the church bells on Fifth Avenue – St Patrick’s Cathedral, Thomas Episcopal Church, and others – all chiming in discordant symphony. No words were needed. Everyone knew what they meant. Our young president was gone.
I had not intended to write about this but a serendipitous occurrence urged me on. A classmate of mine with whom I’ve reconnected via Facebook posted a question for me on her timeline. She seemed to recall that we’d been dismissed early but didn’t know why. In replying to her, my mind took another weird hop, skip and jump and I realized the spot where the doorman stepped out to tell me of Kennedy’s shooting was half a block away from where three years earlier, JFK, then a presidential candidate, had waved to me, a 13-year-old schoolgirl standing on the median of Park Avenue; he, on his way to his first debate with Nixon, and I, waiting for all the motorcycles and limousines to pass so I could catch up with my friends on the other side of the street. If you missed that post, here it is.
And now, fifty years later I’m flying to San Diego in the morning to spend Thanksgiving with an old friend. And I’m taking a very bold step. I’m packing old underwear!
See you when I get back!
I think the winter of 2013-2014 is going to be one b..tch of a winter here in New York. Why?
I’ve been looking out my office window on this dogwood tree for nearly eight years. And never, never have I see berries on it …….
- Until this year
And if you recall my post Doggone, I showed you a surfeit of berries on my dear dear holly bushettes.
What has this got to do with a harsh winter? Well in my humble opinion it’s Mother Nature, offering the birds and squirrels extra sustenance to tide them over through the incredibly harsh weather ahead.
And look, the birds have heard the call.
Again, I’ve never seen so many fine feathered friends porking out on this tree.
And this goes on all day.
On what do I base my prediction? Past experience. I’m not sure of the year, perhaps it was 2009 or 2010, a fall when venturing outside The House of Mars was akin to stepping onto a field just as a jet fighter began shelling everything in sight. Acorns were hitting the ground en masse. All day and all night all you heard was whack, boom, bang as they hit neighboring roofs of houses and sheds.
A friend of mine had to take her car to the body shop to hammer out the dents, So many littered the ground that walking was hazardous. Another friend went down on his bum after stepping on a batch. I myself was beaned and practically saw stars one morning while walking dearly departed Marcos. I was glad that I took the hit instead of him.
My personal belief, which I proclaimed at the time. was that Mother Nature was providing all these acorns to tide the squirrels over as the mother of all winters approached. Not only the squirrels, but, with the way the acorns hit the ground with enough force to penetrate the ground, I believed new oaks would be needed to replace those soon to fall over the winter.
And what of it?
Trees came down like crazy!
And you know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words?
I ran out of places to pile snow that year:
Enough said? Be prepared, and let’s compare notes next spring.
Today I read that Yahoo is in an uproar due to CEO Marissa Mayer’s somewhat arbitrary requirements for job performance reviews. So seeing as Marble, the newest resident of the House of Mars, has been on the job for two months now, I think it’s time for his performance review. Unlike Ms Mayer, I. as CEO of The House of Mars will be totally flexible and let you judge. Has he lived up to the expectations based on his references. Said references being Susan, the representative of Little Orphan Animals the rescue group that had him up for adoption.
“He’s quite a character”:
Witness him standing his ground as Marceau tries to move in on his territory:
“He certainly loves to play.”
And he doesn’t need any playmates. He amuses himself:
Witnessing his play solved a mystery too. How all these blankets ended up in the kitchen:
I wonder how Marcos would have rated him had he still been here to see him dragging his beloved cat toy?
When I first moved to the House of Mars, I had delusions of grandeur about the future of the threadbare rocky yard . My visions fell somewhere between a lush, eccentrically overgrown English Cottage garden and the rich manicured layout of the Bronx Botanical Gardens. Fourteen years later, my feet are firmly on the ground. I have a few faithful perennials which I feed in the spring and promise to re-feed in six weeks, but………
and I promise to prune the bushes but……………….
and weed, but……
But ……my holly bushes, that’s another story.
I faithfully feed and baby them and keep the ground around them free of weeds. And I admire their symmetrical waxy leaves all year-long.
In turn, they reward me
with more and more berries each year
And this year, they had a surprise hidden away
I never even heard of a holly flower.
Although they aren’t growing as quickly as I expected, they are expanding and filling in, becoming the living fence I wanted – although the need is no longer there. The need had a name, and it was Lucky.
The House of Mars has had one owner for the past 14 1/2 years – moi. The house next door is on its fourth set. Lucky was part and parcel of family #3 – a blond cocker spaniel. It’s not that he was bad. In fact he was amazingly obedient. All anyone in his family had to do was call “Lucky, home!” and he turned on a dime and ran home.
The problem was he never should have left home. And he definitely shouldn’t have been chasing Fremont and Niles but when he did, I behaved in an adult manner. I had a few polite words with the owner, who would apologize and for the next few days when Lucky was let out, he was tethered to his own deck. For a day or so, then he’d be back.
I didn’t always see him but I’d know he’d been visiting because I’d find his calling cards These I dealt with as maturely as I could. I got the cat pooper-scooper and tossed them over into Lucky’s yard where they’d land
(tee-hee) right in front of their shed door
In a perfect world, the neighbors would have fenced in their property but…………
So I did the next best thing. I set out to grow one. I doubt they’ll reach the six-foot height I envisioned, not in my lifetime, anyway. But it doesn’t matter….
Family #4 has been here almost eight years now and so far …….no dog.
But there soon there was a fence.
A few fences.
And a gate or two
You see, when Marcos came to live at the House of Mars, I had visions of the handsome hunk of dog romping around the back yard. What I didn’t realize was you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. He’d spent his first eight years as a New York City walk-on-a-leash, lounge-in-the -apartment-all day dog. He preferred
And now Lucky’s gone and Marcos is gone but I love my fences. They divide the property into a suite of outdoor rooms
And they give these guys somewhere to hang out.
I’m not talking about Dr Gregory House, the anti-social doctor with diagnostic prowess of the TV program House. I’m talking about The House of Mars.
As is my wont, I try each year to put off turning on the heat until November 1, not so much for economic reasons, but as a stubborn matter of principle. Some years, it’s a struggle. But dressing in layers does the trick. Other years, I’ve had to give in. This year it looked like I was actually going to make it. It didn’t dip below 50 until last Wednesday - October 23. I only had nine more days to go.
It wasn’t easy though. The windshield thermometer in my car registered 37 degrees on Thursday morning and 38 on Friday. I took to taking showers at the gym and at night, piled on the blankets. Each morning I awoke to a pile of cats beside me. Anyone remember the 70’s group, Three Dog Night? I had Three Cat Night.
Then Friday happened!
I came home Friday evening to what smelled like burnt popcorn. At first I thought it was coming from outside, that neighbors were burning some sort of weird logs in their wood-burning stove. But when I went outside. the smell vanished. Then I realized – not only was it originating from inside, but it was burnt cat hair. Marceau had gone through a period of sleeping on the heating unit this summer.
I went over – touched it – sure enough – still warm.
Insubordination!!!!! It took it upon itself to heat the house. But not by much. You see I never turn it all the way off because two years ago when I did, the pilot went out and I had to get the propane company to re-light it. I now set it to the lowest temperature, I can, without actually turning it off, assuming the house would never get that cold
Looks like I was wrong!
It came on twice more overnight. I guess the house was saying “I’m @#$!! Cold.
This weekend was warmer and by this Friday, November 1, it’s supposed to reach 65 so I’m going to stick it out. Technically, I think I’ll win. After all, I wasn’t the one who turned it on.
But I did winterize outdoors on Saturday so outside could catch up with inside.
The patio is empty.
The shed is full.
The screen door is out.
The storm door is in.
And now I’m ready for the long cold winter
As soon as I finish Fall.