Signs of the Times   3 comments

I am an inveterate reader – put it in front of me, and I read it. The only thing I don’t read is my smartphone – mainly because I don’t have one. Because of this,  I’m free to read signs – neon signs, metal signs, wood,  plastic and paper – in windows, on walls, up on billboards, on the sides of buses and the walls of subway cars. In fact the subway is where reading all came together for me.

From infancy until I started kindergarten at age 4-1/2,  I spent two torturous two hours riding the subway from Manhattan to Brooklyn ( and two hours back) each Friday to visit my grandmother in Brooklyn. Subways have changed a lot over the years but, back then, as today, passengers avoiding eye contact are prisoners of the ads staring down at them. I still remember the light of recognition flashing at me when I noticed that the letters, c o f f e e on the ad looked just like the c o f f e e on the can in our kitchen. I don’t recall what I said but my mother said it brought smiles to all the fellow N’Yawkers on the train. (I also knew  the word BAR since there was one on every corner in our neighborhood.)

Well, I don’t ride the subway quite as much but I still read signs,  always, all the time, and some of them merit a second look. Speaking of coffee, let’s start with this one.


Do you remember when coffee was  the flavor?

And how about this in the front of Office Depot.


Empty cardboard boxes – -$1.00 ( the ones from which they’ve already sold the paper?) .

And now for an internet moment……


 Note it’s a page with yoga-related links

What I’m puzzled by,  is the box of related links. Hold on, let me enlarge it


Coffin for sale? Just think –  all these years I’ve been thinking yoga was good for me.

So you see – friends who chuckle and think I’m referring to writing when I say words are my life don’t know the half of it!

Posted October 28, 2014 by virginiafair in Uncategorized

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Can I Sue?   1 comment

If you’re a Red Bull imbiber, I guess you know you’re entitled to a $10 refund. It seems some disillusioned Red Bull “athletes” won a class-action lawsuit claiming they’d been misled by the sports beverage maker’s claims that drinking Red Bull would boost their performance and reaction times. I’ll reserve judgement as to whether they were incredibly gullible or just thought of a way to boost their chances of  fifteen minutes of fame. They’re sure not getting rich off it! But it did get me thinking and I ‘d like your opinion.

Should I sue the avocado growers who banked on me seeing the bright red RIPE and not  the smaller blue-bordered when soft.


But I guess I don’t have any legal leg to stand on since misleading as it may be – they are telling the truth.



And how about this. I didn’t buy it but one of my co-workers did. The words screamed out at me when I opened the fridge in the break room.


Now I ask you – fruit but no pulp? Hmm.


Get a load of this statement. Domino sugar is taking a chance on my interpretation.



Oops! Guess you can’t see it. I’ll write it out.



Well, I’m a firm believer in karma, so I’ll let these go. But there is one question that’s been going round and round in my inquiring mind for many moons.   Anybody remember Keds and PF Flyers, the Nikes of the 1950’s?

Did Keds live up to their promises?


 How about PF Flyers?

 PF Flyers


My mother would never buy them for me so I had to make do with generic sneakers. She said all those ads were just  nonsense.  But maybe you had a pair of Keds or PF Flyers. Was my mother right? If she was – you just might have the makings of a class action suit.

Good luck








































































































































































































































































































































































































































































I never knew since my mother refused to pay their prices. She said it was all just nonsense p. so any baby boomers out there, was she right? If so, maybe you can sue for nonsense. Red Bullers did.


The House of Mars Gets a Trim   2 comments

When I arrived home from work last Wednesday,  this was my first clue  that it had been an exciting day at The House of Mars :


My second:



Seeing the truck wasn’t a surprise.

Seeing how close it was less than a yard from the house was!


I’d arranged (sort of) to have two trees cut down. One was growing very close to the house, and its branches were dangling perilously over the power and cable lines. I do hate to end any life but since nearly half the  lower branches were dead  I rationalized I was putting it out of its misery. Plus, it had misbehaved in a storm a few years back – dropping a limb, the size of a small tree across the walk.



I asked around the neighborhood if anyone knew of a good tree surgeon, and heard the same answer time after time. “Lussier, he’s the best there is.”

I know it’s the rule of the wise homeowner to seek out three companies and get quotes from all, but it seemed the man could do no wrong. And so finally, after putting it off for over five years, I made the call  on a Monday morning.  Everyone had warned me Lussier could be slow to respond so I was not surprised when I had to leave a message for him. No problem, I thought,  I’m not on a hurry. Procrastination suits me well, but drat! I found a message on my phone Saturday –  he could come by on Sunday morning to take a look! Sigh

Long story short – He gave me a great price on the two trees and said he would  clear out several pesky ones that had sprung up on the slope down to the road and seemed to be losing their sense of vertical.

That was it!He gave me a great price and said I’d come home one say that week and find my trees gone.

True, to his reputation, a week passed and the trees were still there. Then, the following Wednesday,  he came, he saw,  he conquered.



DSCN1728There was more but one of my neighbors with a wood stove had already begun work  clearing the yard.

The puzzling part  was that there was not a soul around – just the trucks . It was a bit ghostly. The neighbor who’d sung his praises the loudest  surmised  he was on another job. Without his truck? I  thought, but said nothing. Instead I called Lussier and of course, left a message.

“Come back for your money.” I also assumed he wanted his trucks!

I got back no message but the next morning at 8, there he was climbing out of a pickup truck and coming up my driveway – coffee cup in hand.

Yes, he’d got my message but it was late to call back. He’d been out “riding dirt bikes with  the  boys.” He’d said he’s be back that evening for his money but right now he “had to drive to work.” And sure enough, faster than I back my car down the driveway, he and his truck were gone


PS – Seven days and counting – the money is still waiting on my dining room table.

Posted October 7, 2014 by virginiafair in Uncategorized

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Cheer up New York, Derek Lives   2 comments

Dear Yankee Fans

This is not a letter of condolence although judging by your long faces, one would think Oh Captain, Your Captain had passed away. The media coverage didn’t help, did it. I lost count of how many times the morning news flashed this live shot last Thursday -

  • during weather reports, when the forecaster fretted over the possibility of rain,
  • during the sports segment when the commentator reminded us this would be the last time Oh Captain, Your Captain would be playing in pinstripes;
  • when they went to the live reporter in front of the stadium a good twelve hours before that dreaded last home game would begin.

jeter flag

Please notice, the flags are not at half-staff.

But if I was drowning in Derek Jeter stories the morning of the last pinstripe home  woe ’tis me,  the  morning after found me washed up on shore. But at least you were all happy. One of my most rabid Yankee fan co-workers greeted me with a beaming smile as he rhapsodized  “Can you  think of a better way to end a career?’

You probably are saying, aw, she’s just another Yankee hater, and that’s not true – it’s the fans….oops, let’s not go there.

What I’m saying is Choose to be happy.

Derek had a long career. He’d dreamed of being a Yankee since his first little league game. He’s said many times it was a dream come true. And if that’s not enough to put a song in your heart –  He’s a multi-millionaire. He has a castle in Florida. He has a long life ahead of him with women lining up  to share it with him. So come on, smile – you can do it.

Besides, I have a funny feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of him.




Jeter ad2

Jeter ad1

Now if you excuse me, I have to psych myself for my team’s playoff game Thursday  all on my lonesome……



The Only Living Detroit Tigers Fan in New York City

Housewarming Deja Vu   2 comments


Summer has come and gone but it’s left a treasure trove of memories. Remember the MacDonald’s parking lot I showed you where they hold a weekly classic cars show?



Well, it’s just a McDonald’s parking lot again.




And now, my deck is quiet except for the chairs who vie for my attention, each Saturday and Sunday morning, whispering, “sit here sit here ” as I set down my coffee and paper.


You may see an empty deck but if I linger long enough I see the gossamer memories of friends and loved ones sitting, talking, and enjoying each other’s company at my barbecues.

Yes, barbecues, as in four. You see, The House of Mars, being what it is, strains at the seams if I have more than eight people for a sit-down dinner. So rather than repeat the weeks of stress I went through the summer I had  gala BBQ of twenty people, the daily visits to for long term forecasts, all the obsessing over what I’d do if it rained, I broke it up into several small gatherings that can fit around the dining room table of Mother Nature wants it that way. Yes, it can be hectic for a lone hostess but it’s worth it.

perfect hostess

This all reminds me of the meaning of a housewarming party. When I was in the process of getting divorced I dreaded the prospect of moving into the apartment I’d found.  Although I loved the apartment, and looked forward to starting a new life, the idea of entering an empty space where not even the heartbeat of a cat would be there to warm it was a chilling thought. But then I had  a dinner party,  and friends began dropping in, and before  I knew it, the apartment felt as comfy as a robe and bedroom slippers.

So now, while I do not look forward to a long cold winter, at least I won’t be quite so cold as I shovel the snow off the deck. I’ll be warmed by the memories of fifteen years of BBQs and all those who made them possible – human, feline, and canine.


Posted September 16, 2014 by virginiafair in memories

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Yes, You Read it Right   3 comments

Back in the early ’90’s when I was teaching first grade, Fridays were Cooking Day. I had a convection oven in the class room, (don’t  ask  how I got it!) and the class and I would prepare and cook a snack that went along with whatever unit I was teaching. At Halloween time we toasted the pumpkin seeds we’d scraped from our class jack-o-lanterns. When learning fractions we made pizza and sliced it.

When we did a week’s worth of projects centered around the picture book, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, we made – what else but cookies.


For frosting, there was vanilla icing and red, blue, and yellow food coloring.  I went around with three bottles of food coloring, one each of red, yellow, and blue. The children were given a choice of one drop from each of any two, which they then mixed into the white icing to come up with either orange, green, or purple icing

I like to believe there are about twenty-five 30-year olds walking around San Jose who never forgot their primary and secondary colors.

Not only were these lessons wonderful for demonstrating that food requires preparation of ingredients but were also great hands-on, non-language-based experiences  for a class made up of children whose parents had emigrated from Vietnam, China, Thailand, India, and the Philippines. I was teaching what was called Structured English to children, most of whom were  born here, but while functional in speaking English, it was not their first language, and who often got by faking that they understood more than they actually did.

For the teacher, it was a well-earned “down day” to end the week.,

I bring this up because lately I’ve been hearing how today’s computer-connected, microwave children are disconnected to food production, and really have no idea where fruits and vegetables were before they were frozen or canned. Several urban schools are conducting pilot programs where the children tend a vegetable patch in a rooftop garden or some reclaimed corner of a concrete playground to gain firsthand knowledge.

I’ve also been seeing proof of this need at the checkout of my local supermarket. I can’t count how many times high school and college-aged clerks, when faced with entering the code of  a bunch of fresh spinach, turn to me blank-faced and  ask  “What is this?”

But yesterday  proof stared me in the face as I entered the store. Right there, just  inside the door, in the section that touts local produce, AND MAINTAINED BY PRODUCE CLERKS, I came across this.



That’s right, in case you couldn’t read the sign, here it is again



OMG, how can you work in produce, and not know the difference between a  radish and a beet!!!!!

I would have laughed if  it weren’t so sad.

Now,  if you’ll excuse me , I have to go and take  an anti-fussiness pill.

A Rambling Mind at The Beach   3 comments

Is it really September? While running this morning, I came upon a walker who’s a high school teacher. I asked her when the first day of school was, and she said “Tomorrow.” Having been there and done that as a teacher, I quipped “I’m sorry.” Her response? “It had to happen some day.

I guess I should take that to heart. I succeeded in wringing every moment out of summer but now that it’s labor Day + 2,  I have to agree with her. It happened. Summer’s over, and to add insult to injury, I’d been really banking on spending the whole 3-day weekend at the lake, but @#!&* !! it was a rainy weekend .

It gets worse, today was the type of day I’d been waiting for in vain all summer – 90 degrees and extremely humid. And I had to work! So I’m finding solace remembering a day at Jones Beach a couple of weeks ago ————–

I decided to take a break from baking in the sun so I excused myself from friends to take a solitary walk and be with myself. That was all self needed to ramble on. Being a captive audience I had no choice but to listen.

First thing we came upon was a flag up by the bath house. In some kind of weird synapse intersection my mind said “Where’s the bear?”

I realized a deja vu moment had collided with reality, and for a moment I was seeing  the district office of Oak Grove School District in San Jose where I used to teach, and where the state flag of California was always waving in the breeze.

California state fkag

The shapes of the buildings were similar, as were the colors plus the flat landscape……. then my focus popped into gear and I wondered if the connection wasn’t even more circuitous …



This is the flag that started it all.  It’s flying over the First Aid station.  Put a hyphen in the middle  and you get  Medi-Cal which is California’s state Medicaid program.

(No one ever said my mind works like other people’s – especially where words are involved.)

Now that the California state flag was on my mind I wondered “Where the heck is the  New York state flag – after all, this is a New York State Park”

I set off in search. I decided to walk along the boardwalk. I used to walk on it with my family many moons ago but back then it was a soft wood board walk – as in SPLINTERS,  and it gave off a damp tar-like smell


But between  Superstorm Sandy and medical research, the  nostalgic feel of the boardwalk and the smell live only in my memory. Sandy demolished most of the boardwalk, and creosote, the wood preservative substance responsible for the smell, was found to be cancerous. So the new boardwalk built last year is made of ipe bethebera, a Brazilian hardwood that is so hard, nails will not penetrate. The boards have to be screwed in

(Editorial commeny: Speaking of screwed. Brazilian hardwood? Is New York screwing up the rainforest !)


Deciding to visit the bathroom as long as I was here, I came upon this sign.


Is this term a blast from the past or what? But I guess it says it all, doesn’t it?

With all the free-form rambling my mind was doing, it forgot what it was looking for in the first place, but my eyes find it – the New York State flag!


But then, as I head back to my friends on the beach, my eyes find something I wish they didn’t.

DSCN1618At the bleep bleep beach? what the bleep?


 Since this blog is rated PG, my mind’s ramblings had to be cut by the censor!


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