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.
He was even wearing icicles on his old boo-boo
Back home again, Mighty had a message for Al Roker.
“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.”
“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?
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.
I 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
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
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.
- 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).
- 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.
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.
i 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.
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!
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.
It 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 later – it’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.
Did 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?
If your name is Virginia, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when I say it’s about to start again. As for the rest of you, if you don’t know the story of Virginia O’Hanlon and the letter she wrote to the New York Sun, back in 1897, asking if there was such a thing as Santa Claus, and the answer she received back, you are blessed…….. and most likely not named Virginia.
Yes, fellow Virginias, since 1897 we have been subjected to some wise guy, apropos of nothing, assuring us that “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause.” And it’s about to spread like the flu. Look what I found in the New York Times last week.
As if Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus hasn’t plagued three generations, now they’ve gone and written a book and a DVD so it will spread the curse to yet another generation, all the young and upcoming Virginias.
And it gets worse, there I was watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade when this loomed on the screen
That “Virginia” now has her own balloon.
Yes, dear tender little V’s you might as well learn young. It doesn’t have to be Christmas, it can be the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Flag day; it can even be November 2 – the point is you’re never safe. There’s always some jokester who, upon learning your name is Virginia, will smirk and say —well, you know what he’ll say. ( and yes, this does seem to be a male thing)
Maybe we should all move to Virginia. Then when we’re accosted by one of those a $$#@%es, all we’ll have to do is point to our license plates.
Some dads watch football on Sundays, my dad swept the driveway and sidewalk outside our Bronx rowhouse. In the summer, it was a challenging job because in addition to the regular city soot and debris, my mother’s beloved mimosa tree, which due to its size should never have been planted there, insisted on shedding its feathery petals and tendrils anywhere it pleased.
In the fall, he exchanged his broom for a rake and raked the pesky feathery leaves of said mimosa tree in addition to the mighty oak trees across the street
Daddy was usually out there for hours at a time, doing a job that would have taken anyone else twenty minutes at most. Why? Nine times out of ten, one of us would look out the window and he’d be at the fence talking to someone. Look out twenty minutes later and he’d be out on the sidewalk talking to someone else.
A decade and a half passed, in which time I moved to California and back. Daddy lived to be 94, but fell victim to Parkinson’s Disease for the last decade of his life. Since I was responsible for his care, I was running back and forth to the house on Bruner Avenue daily. I cannot count the times I was stopped as I entered or left by someone who asked “How’s Doctor Fair feeling?” I had no idea who these well wishers were, but they knew Daddy. For this reason, we lovingly call Daddy the Mayor of Bruner Avenue.
What brings this to mind is my own love(?) affair with my driveway. Come fall and I am out weekly too – but for good reason. Living in a quarter-acre of forest makes raking akin to shoveling snow in the midst of a blizzard (been there – done that)
Since my property, with all its stone walls and fences does not lend itself to leaf-blowing, I haul the leaves up into the woods and construct cute little walls of leaves.
Daddy would be proud of me.
Or would he?…..
Sorry Daddy, the remaining quarter acre of The House of Mars has priority over the road So if you want me, I’ll be with my good buddies…
and we’ll be here….
or maybe here….
If we’re not there, we might be here…
Uh, oh don’t look now but the driveway needs a tune-up
Maybe someone will come by and talk to me.