The Name Game   4 comments

Last week I found myself smack dab in the middle of The Name Game. For those of you too young to remember The Name Game, although it sounds like a television show, it wasn’t. The Name Game was a song that was popular back in the 60’s. Although it was pretty ridiculous ,it was catchy and somewhat of an ear worm.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term ear worm it’s a song you should run screaming from because once it gets into your head, you can’t get it out.  It bores into your brain and you find yourself humming, singing, whistling – whatever – all day long. Ear-worms are patient. They can  lie dormant for  long periods of time, but once awakened – watch out!  The Lion Sleeps Tonight has been dozing in my head since high school. Drat, now I’ve gone and let him out!

The Lion Sleeps tonight

Oops, Sorry for the digression ….oh yes, The Name Game

The name Game

. It went like this

Shirley, Shirley bo Birley Bonana fanna fo Firley
Fee fy mo Mirley, Shirley!
Lincoln, Lincoln bo Bincoln Bonana fanna fo Fincoln
Fee fy mo Mincoln, Lincoln!
Come on everybody!
I say now let’s play a game
I betcha I can make a rhyme out of anybody’s name
The first letter of the name, I treat it like it wasn’t there
But a B or an F or an M will appear
And then I say bo add a B then I say the name and Bonana fanna and a
And then I say the name again with an F very plain
and a fee fy and a mo
And then I say the name again with an M this time
and there isn’t any name that I can’t rhyme
Arnold, Arnold bo Barnold Bonana fanna fo Farnold
Fee fy mo Marnold Arnold!
Luckily there are no sound effects to this blog or the song would be loose in your head by now,
but bear with me, this is all germane to my story.
(And for you information, I can hear you, whoever just said “This better be worth it!”)
…………OK on to ……….tada !!!!…… story………….
I was speaking to  a young lady recently. Her name was N. Lipscombe. I immediately thought of Sharon McLean, my bestest BFF in all the world back in fourth grade. I thought of Sharon because she had a cousin named Rudy Lipscombe. I asked Ms Lipscombe if she had a grandfather by that name (sigh yes, grandfather, time marches on) Her face lit up and she said she did have a great-uncle (double sigh) who passed away a couple of years ago (triple sigh), and although Rudy wasn’t his given name she thought he may have gone by it. I told her I didn’t think Rudy’s given name was Rudy, either but I didn’t remember what his real name was.
She told me her family was from Virginia, and now I was getting jump-up-and-down excited because I remembered Sharon’s grandmother, who was also Rudy’s, was from Virginia. Ms Lipscombe said she was getting goosebumps and as soon as our appointment was over, she’d text her father and ask him. As I left I gave her a whole set of names our conversation had unleashed – Mrs, Ryals (Sharon’s grandmother);
Aunt Louetta (Sharon’s aunt  – Rudy’s mother)
Young fashionable Aunt Fannie who had a handsome boyfriend.
And oh, yes – Uncle Robbie who was in the Air Force and brought home a real German wife —  with an accent and everything!
Can you tell I spent a lot of time at Sharon’s?
It wasn’t until I arrived home that afternoon that the most important name popped -into my head – Giscombe. Rudy’s last Giscombe – not Lipscombe!.

Posted March 19, 2015 by virginiafair in Uncategorized

A Warm Surprise on A Frozen Day   2 comments

If you recall, back in January, I posted a blog titled Wood you Believe Number 19? If you don’t here it is. I’d related how  the USPS deposited a Christmas card addressed to #19 Wood……. in my #19 Wood………mailbox. The only problem was the sender in Hialeah Florida thought it was en route to #19 Wood……. in Jamaica West Indies. I felt bad since the sender had gone to the trouble of going to the airport and spending the money needed for foreign air mail postage. So I put it in an envelope along with a note explaining why it was arriving late, and went to the post office (Not the one that had obliviously delivered the wayward card) and sent it on its way to Jamaica.

Happy ending to the story — or so I thought.

But a happier yet ending was yet to be –  a warm one that arrived on a single digit day

I stopped at my #19 mailbox  a few weeks ago and extracted a large card addressed to #19, and immediately my eye went to the colorful stamps.

DSCN1853Inside I found

DSCN1852It was from Mrs Enid Wiggams, who resides at #19….. in Jamaica.

She added a lovely note and made a point of including her address. Do you think it was a hint she’d like a Christmas card next year? Probably not, but I’ve saved the card so I can send her one.

Posted March 2, 2015 by virginiafair in Uncategorized

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Tell It Like It Is   4 comments

Warning: I feel a rant coming on.

Does anyone else have a problem with today’s weather forecasters’ obsession with the Wind Chill Factor, or am I the only one?  It’s getting so bad that I can watch an entire weather forecast, and if my attention wanders for one second, I miss the the actual temperature.

Note To Al Roker and his biddies. (Freudian slip. I meant buddies, but they do go on like a bunch of old biddies, don’t they) Sorry, but I warned you this might be a rant, Now where was I. Oh yes, Note to Al Roker and his buddies:

I do not want to know what it feels like outside. Call me old fashioned, but I just need you to tell me the real temperature. I’ll find out how it feels when I actually go out.

(For  my West coast readers, who may not know about such things, according to the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office, “Wind chill temperature is a measure of the combined cooling effect of wind and temperature. As wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at a faster rate, driving down both the skin temperature (which can cause frostbite) and eventually the internal body temperature (which can kill). The Wind Chill Temperature index is the measure of this relationship.”)



Do you see that top set of numbers, the ones in the black border under the word temperature? In the old days, that’s all we needed to know.

But you know, all this histrionic hype may actually work to my advantage. Yesterday I was actually worried. Listening to the news, I began to picture the Arctic Express as a frost-breathing dragon bearing down on the House of Mars. But I had to go out and slay it. Rafael Miranda, my Sunday meteorologist said if I didn’t shovel the snow that fell overnight, it would freeze to ice. I got up my courage, quadruple-layered up,  and waddled to the door.


Hey! I wondered, Is the Arctic Express Monster masquerading as a beautiful day?

Rafael had done me a favor. The real temperature could never measure up to his hype. I was pleasantly surprise. So much so, that when I was finished, I decided to go to the gym. When I arrived there I had another pleasant surprise, the always (pardon the word) wind-chilled parking lot,  felt no colder than it did on any other winter day.

Only the sight of poor Mighty Mouse reminded me of how cold it was.DSCN1861

He was even wearing icicles on his old boo-boo


Back home again, Mighty had a message for Al Roker.

DSCN1855“Never mind how the cold feels. I’m out here all the time and I’m dressed for it, but I’m lonely and cramped down here.”

DSCN1858“When will this path become  my driveway again? I want to go home?”

I didn’t have the heart to venture a guess. What do you think? April? May?

Riding My Wildhorses   2 comments

I must say, I do come across Walmart displays that stop me short. A few weeks after coming across the dreaded pot holder loom that was the subject of my last post, I stopped short at this pair of foot massagers.

DSCN1826I wasn’t about to buy them but they certainly took me to another place. Allow me to explain, even at the risk of revealing, to those who don’t already know, just how strange I am.

It all goes back to 2005 when the House of Mars was down to one cat. No that’s not right. Technically,there was no House of  Mars, so let’s just say the house without a name was down to one cat, Niles.

Niles had always been a cat who needed feline company, but 24 lb Fremont, who had always looked after him, had died of cancer in 2004,

Niles, left; Fremont, right

Niles, left; Fremont, right

and pugnacious Dino who liked to fight with him went out one morning, never to return.



Oh, I didn’t mention Niles also had cancer, did I? So when he started howling and pacing around the house, my first thought was that the end was near. Always one to seek escapist routes  I also thought  He’s never been alone before. Maybe he’s just lonely. Since it was Saturday evening, a trip to the vet wasn’t possible, but a trip to an adoption fair the next day was – an adoption fair that just happened to be at the pet cemetery where our Fremont rests in peace.

So after a quick stop at Fremont’s grave to solicit his guidance, I found my self walking straight to a cage holding a spooning Marcel and Marceau who were an almost exact copy of Fremont and  Niles.

Marcel, left; Marceau right

Marcel, left; Marceau right

I brought The Brothers Mar home, and after a brief hissy orientation, they took poor sick Niles under wing. Marceau also took to chasing Marcel through the house, and even though they probably weighed all of six pounds each, they sounded like a herd of wild horses thundering across the  hardwood floors. I wish I could say the three of them lived happily ever after, but I do like to think Fremont and Niles are. Niles succumbed to his cancer three months later.

(And since the house now belonged to The Brothers Mar, The House of Mars was born.)

I hear you screaming So what about the cat foot massagers ????? I’m getting to that; but first  –  two more things you need to know.

  1. Of all the cats I’ve had to put to sleep Niles death struck me hardest, as he was only 5 years old and the only truly sweet cat I’ve ever owned. (My apologies to the other eight, past and present).
  2. Since eighth grade, or thereabouts, I’ve found it comforting to link painful experiences to rock and roll songs. Its my process of letting go and accepting.

Not long after Niles’ passing, I happened to be driving to work when the Rolling Stones’ classic “Wild Horses” came on the radio. I share with you the lines that I associate with Niles last three months.

Childhood living is easy to do
The things you wanted I bought them for you
Graceless lady you know who I am
You know I can’t let you slide through my hands

Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
Wild, wild horses couldn’t drag me away

The things Niles wanted were Marcel and Marceau, his own private wild horses. And the last line?

Wild, wild horses we’ll ride them some day

So when I saw those massaging slippers, all I could think of was me,riding the Brothers Mar like a pair of water skis up in the celestial realm

……But not quite yet. – I hope.

Posted February 5, 2015 by virginiafair in Cats

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Looming Trouble   3 comments

They say the sense of smell has the greatest power to evoke memories, and this may be true. I have only to get a whiff of lemon furniture polish and I’m four-and-a-half again, and entering a freshly scrubbed kindergarten for the first time. A newly opened box of Crayola crayons can take me there, too. Sight comes in a close second. However it’s not quite so instantaneous. Deciphering a visual memory can take a few seconds. I’ll show you what I mean.

There I was, in Wal-Mart, minding my own business, on the way to buy bottled water  when I walked past this display.

DSCN1007i proceeded about 20 steps before I stopped short, a silent screaming n-o-o-o-o echoing through my brain. The dreaded pot -holder-making-monster!!!!!

My mother used to go shopping on Wednesday’s, my father’s day off, and it had always been her habit to bring me back a book of some sort . Sometimes it was a story book, other times a coloring book, a connect-the-dos book, or as I got older, crossword  or puzzle book with wonderful maze puzzles. I was always quite happy with these but when he got old enough, my younger brother Jimmy instructed my mother to “buy toys, not books”. So I think I’ll blame the loom on Jimmy.

I must have been about eight when, thanks to Jimmy, my mother  brought home a handy-dandy little loom kit – for me of course. Jimmy probably got a car or toy soldier. It wasn’t quite as big as the one that jolted me in the store. As I recall, there was a green metal square loom, about 8″x8″ with these serious looking “teeth” on top. Also in the box was a plastic bag of cloth loopy things, all different colors, and I guess, there must have been some sort of hook, maybe like a crochet hook.

It was probably November or thereabouts because right away, my mother started me on a Christmas project , or as she put it……….

“Wouldn’t it be nice if you made a couple of pot holders for Nanny?”

Maybe she had hopes that I’d become a master crochet artisan like my grandmother. who could spin perfection while watching a movie in a darkened theater.

I guess my pot holder was passable because next year “we” were starting in October, making pot holders for Aunt Edrie, Aunt Gladys, and Aunt Stell. Future years would see our downstairs neighbor Mrs. Vanderveer, who put up with the ceiling noise of three kids being kids, added to the list. Later, came  Mrs, Shirley, my girl scout leader, and Mrs. Edgecombe, my piano teacher. Since everyone from previous years remained on the list, receiving a new improved (or not) pot holder, “we” were starting “our” project during the summer.

Once the memory ran its course, I shook off its effects, and proceed to the beverage section, Well, maybe not quite directly. I stopped to ponder taking this on.


Posted January 26, 2015 by virginiafair in Uncategorized

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Wood You Believe Number 19?   7 comments

The following is a true story.

About ten days before Christmas I went to my mailbox and found a Christmas card addressed to Mrs. Ena Wiggan. Although it’s not unheard of for me to receive a neighbor’s mail, I didn’t recognize the name. Then I read the rest of the address


I do live at 19 Wood……… but it’s not Woodhaven, and, as tempting as the West Indies may be with tomorrow’s forecast of single digit temps, I make my home in Putnam County NY, not Jamaica. To make it even more mind-boggling, this misplaced Christmas card had originated in Florida!

Is there anyone out there who can tell me how a letter could travel 1,000+ miles in the wrong direction to the wrong country, based solely on the number 19, and a road that begins with the word Wood?

Two different people told me it means I should take a trip to Jamaica, but I did the next best thing, I put the whole thing in a new envelope and mailed it to Mrs. Ena Wiggan and her family.

So far so good, it hasn’t come back!

A Day at the World’s Fair – Not What I Was Expecting   2 comments

Warning: The blog you are about to read is X-rated No, make that an R rating. Well, let’s say PG-14. At any rate, it’s about my losing my …….. No, not that. What’s the right word? My ideals? My expectations? My innocence? For once I’m at a loss for words, so let’s just get on with it.

I’ve been meaning to write about this day since I came upon this feature article in the New York Times last Spring.

DSCN1650It was marking the 50th anniversary of the 1964 World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens.


There were personal accounts of people who’d had their lives changed by attending.



My memories of the Fair aren’t quite so dramatic. In fact I found the whole experience a let down. You see, as long as I could remember I’d heard my mother waxing poetic about her repeated trips to The World’s Fair of 1939, also held in Flushing Meadows Park. To hear her tell it, it was the most exciting, awe-inspiring experience she’d ever had so I had great expectations. My mom, a Brooklyn girl, had been 24 years, fresh out of college, with the high expectations of The Greatest Generation when she visited. When it had its second coming 25 years later, I was a 17-year-old streetwise Manhattan baby boomer, but still I was willing to give it a chance – especially since we got a day off from school and didn’t have to pay the two bucks


The catch? We had to wear our school uniforms. It was Catholic School Day at the Fair. Fifty years have passed so I’m a little fuzzy on whether it was just high schools or elementary schools too. I guess if younger kids were included, they went with their classes as a field trip. But high school students were on our own as long as we could figure  out how to get from Manhattan (the center of the universe) all the way out to (what we viewed as) God-forsaken Queens. (More on this laterit’s the X-rated part)

As for the Fair, itself,  I have only boring memories. I remember the lines being terribly long, and we just couldn’t be bothered standing and waiting. (As if we had better things to do?) We did stand on line to see Michelangelo’s The Pieta, and it was truly breath-taking, bathed in blue light.


But that was it, as far as exhibits went. We visited a lot of bathrooms to comb our hair. I’d soon go for the hippie look but this was 1964’s pre-hippie world and our idea of looking good translated to teased hair, black eyeliner, and white lipstick, and did I mention  hair  – teased hair. And don’t forget the rolled up skirts (a practice I’ve noticed today’s Catholic school girls still hold near and dear)

Oh yes, we did consider one line worth joining – a log jam ride. I rode in front and saw the splashdown coming, so did everyone else except Susan who was wedged in at the rear, and didn’t see it coming.

log jamDid I mention teased hair and lots of eye make?

So no, the world’s fair was not exciting and did not live up to my expectations. I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought upon reading the commemorative article, had it not been for the trip there.

As I said we were left to our own devices to get there so of course  I went with, as kids would say today, my four homies.  Grace, Tina,  and I were coming from different ends of Manhattan, and Suzanne from the Bronx, so we met at the Time Square subway station. Susan’s family had recently moved to Queens so we were to meet her at the Queens Plaza subway station. But when we got there, she was nowhere to be found. As it turned out she was waiting at Queensborough Plaza – where we were supposed to be.

I’m not sure how we figured this out. No cell phones back then so we couldn’t call her. Although we’d never heard of either plaza, we learned that Queens Plaza was, and I guess still is, a hub where different subway lines come and go. Somehow we figured out what train to take next. So there we were – from left to right – me, Suzanne, Tina, & Gracie, standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the platform. We felt the rumble and saw the lights of the approaching train  still in the distance, far down the tunnel. We still weren’t 100 percent certain so we decided to confirm that this was indeed our train. A business-type (banker?) man was standing next to me. I still remember he had on a pinstripe suit.

“Is this the train to take to Queensborough Plaza?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. “But don’t take this one. Another one will be coming.”

I related his answer to everyone  – still shoulder-to shoulder. ( Can I take back my earlier comment about us being street-smart? We decided to wait for the next train.) As this train rumbled in, however, another noise distracted me – the rattle of a newspaper, a newspaper he held in front of his fly. I looked from the corner of my eye and saw his fly was open, and he was beating his front and muttering in its direction.

Well, maybe I wasn’t street-smart but I was a cool New Yorker.  I wordlessly scooted  behind my friends to stand at the far end of our formation – leaving poor Suzanne, dare I say, in the line of fire. Only when I was safely positioned, did I lean forward and point. Well, I won’t get graphic, but let’s say he finished the act – just as the doors of the soon-to-depart train began to close. Somehow, four screaming girls managed to wedge themselves in, still shoulder to shoulder, still screaming.

And when we’d calmed down – you know what bothered us most? Not that he’d done what he did, but that we’d picked him to ask because he was wearing a business suit. Who’d expect a business man in a pinstripe suit to be a pervert?



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