Marco Blows His Cover   2 comments

I have long suspected that Marble is the reincarnation of Marcos. Allow me to sway you to my belief.

Mistaken Impressions

I adopted them both as a result of an obsession based on a falsehood. Believing the plea of my favorite 104.6 DJ Maria Milito that a 16-year old dog had been surrendered to Animal Control in Manhattan, I wasted no time in running to his rescue. What I brought home was a robust, rambunctious 7-year old. Somehow the neighbor who brought Marcos to the shelter, since his owner could no longer care for him, had said he was 16. Perhaps it was a language problem. The shelter is in Spanish Harlem and I used to call Marcos my Puerto Rican dog when I once witnessed his ears perk up and his head swivel around when we passed landscapers calling to each other in Spanish.

As for Marble, it was my view of him in a cage in the Petsmart adoption room. All I had to do was see the back of his head.

DSCN2067For some reason, he didn’t turn around and I didn’t disturb him. Maybe I had blinders on, but I do not recall taking note of his back, so I was laboring under the impression that he was an exotic cat with one lone stripe tracing the length of his back, like a skunk in reverse. He wasn’t.

Slim Jims

Marcos entered the House of Mars with his ribs not only palpable but poignantly visual. This was most likely proof of what the Good Samaritan’s explanation that “his owner could no longer care for him”.


When the “rescue lady” delivered Marble, I commented “oh, how thin.”  Her interpretation? “He’s slim.

DSCN0850Compare the posture and tell me that’s not the same old soul!

I managed to fatten him up when he was Marcos…….

097….but have had no luck with him as Marble due to a chronic case of inflammatory bowel disease. Although truth be told, Marcos may have had it too. I often Joke that he came back as Marble, just so he could throw up on spots he missed when he was Marcos.


If you don’t believe me ask Marceau the Moocher. He’s already ready to share.


But if you need irrefutable proof, here it is.

DSCN1935Not convinced?


OK, be like that!

The Daily Breakfast Ambushes   4 comments

Sound travels. That’s a given, but how it travels is another thing. At the House of Mars, for instance, when my next door neighbors are talking above a certain level on the deck on the far side of their house, it sounds as if they’re in my backyard – but only if I hear them through my bathroom window.

DSCN2019And I guess they have to be on some sort of mystery solar sweet spot since I don’t always hear them.That house has had seen three sets of owners since I’ve lived here, and it’s been the same with each set of neighbors. They don’t have to be loud, they just have to be on their deck.


This summer I discovered another sound phenomenon at the lake I go to. There is a certain mystery spot in the middle of the swim area where the human voice projects as if amplified by a microphone.It has to be late in the afternoon when the crowd is thinning out


and it has to be a loudmouth doing the talking. I witnessed it twice, but while the first instance was merely annoying, the second was traumatic! A woman was drilling her kids on their multiplication tables.

If you’re asking yourself what’s so traumatic about that, you didn’t have a mother like mine. You see, when it came to the times tables, you never know when she would pounce. Once she knew the ones you were weak in, she turned into a pit bull. I was fine until I got to the nine times tables, 9X7 in particular. For my brother Jim, it was the eight times table and 8×7 was his mental block. While we never knew when she’d bark either one, we were reasonably sure it would be at breakfast. 9×7? 8×7? Sometimes she’d toss a curve ball like 6×7 then circle back to 9X7 or 8×7.

63, 56, it dawned on me there on the beach. Why didn’t she quiz us in reverse? Give us the answers, let us come up with the equation. Maybe it would have helped.Why didn’t our teachers do that? Why didn’t I do that when I was a teacher? Who knows, maybe teachers more creative than I was, came up with this tactic

The drill was still going on as I started to pack up to leave and  I wondered why the woman didn’t correct her daughter when she replied 132 to the equation 11×12. Why didn’t she tell her the correct number was 121? I stopped to give 121 some thought and realized that’s 11 x11. See, my theory works!

Posted September 9, 2015 by virginiafair in Advertising claims, Math

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Have Faith My Friends, Have Faith!   3 comments

My morning routine varies little. After my cup of coffee, I make my way down to the basement to turn off and empty the dehumidifier. As I pass the vegetable garden, I will myself to stay on the concrete path Taking a deep breath, I descend each step, repeating a silent mantra, Leave them alone, leave them alone.  My will power holds up on the way down,vegetable but evaporates on the way back up.

I bend over and peek under the giant atomic monster spectacle zucchini plant in search of any new green zukes,


then do the same at its slightly smaller yellow squash cousin.


If my garden was the state fair, I’d have to rate these two a gold medal, since no sooner do I slice and grill one harvest, but find several more lining up for the next time I fire up the grill.


Next I sidle over to the eggplant where there’s no need to search. Although not as prolific as the squash varieties, it has yielded one meal and it looks like another one is not too far in the future.


And although they’ve had their problems between the groundhogs’ occasional raids and my absent-minded trampling on them, the pepper plants are giving it their all. I gently part the leaves and count the pretty white flowers and recall how crisp and crunchy the one tiny pepper I couldn’t resist picking back in July was, even though I should have left it on the plant a little longer. One is waiting for me, if I can have the patience to wait for it to get a bit bigger, or maybe a lot bigger. Oh, yes, I’d give it a bronze medal.


But now the fun ends. I know I should just turnaround and go back into the house,  but that masochistic part of me propels me on to the tomatoes with whom I have a love/hate relationship. I’m in awe of how huge the the plants are. But I guess they have to be if they are to hold up all those huge beefsteak tomatoes hanging from them. Green tomatoes. After checking each one for a hint of yellow or orange, I sigh and turn my back on them.


Slacker medal for them


You see, it’s more than my disappointment. It’s my friends I worry a bout. No, not my veggie plant friends, but my real live flesh and blood friends, the ones who were so hopeful as they accepted my overflow of small plants last May, the 23 seed tray mates of the  5 runts I kept for myself. Only two have reported red tomatoes, the rest are in the same boat as I am, seeking that slight change of green to yellow green, then on to orange……and so on.

Then came tonight – since we haven’t had rain in over a week, I hauled the hose over for a soaking than the watering can I usually use to gently administer to each plant.


I wasn’t really looking at it, but there it was. Well, isn’t it always the way?!?

DSCN1949Have faith my friends, have faith. Your’s are on the way!


A Rambling Mind Leads to a Blogful of Bologna and Another Weird Coincidence   2 comments

My mother’s number was 5. When packing my school lunch she always gave me 5 cookies. My number is 3. When I pack my own lunch, or bring tea and cookies into the living room for a bedtime snack, I always take 3. If I have company and  there are two of us, I put out 6. If three, 9. In talking to her people I’ve found out everyone has their own number. Think about it. What’s yours?

This is an extension of last week’s blog where I wrote about the Indian restaurants lining Lexington Avenue in “Curry Hill.” I was now on my way back to Grand Central station to catch the train home, having had lunch and catch-up time with a friend. As usual, I chose shoe leather (or in my case, sandal leather) over the subway, and as I strolled along I was thinking about all those restaurant photos I’d taken (way too many)  and wondering how many to include in the blog. Naturally the number 3 sprung to mind, and my mind rambled on from there to bologna. That’s because in addition to the 5 cookies, my school lunch box usually contained a piece of fruit  and a bologna sandwich.

Bologna was  a staple of my school days , actually our school days –  our, being my brother Jimmy and I. Jimmy’s consumption of bologna extended to breakfast as well as lunch. In addition to being a believer in the number 5, my mother believed in the importance of breakfast. The problem was – we didn’t; not if it meant cereal, eggs, or anything else children all over the country were eating. Determined to get something into me, she resorted to leftovers. If we’d had spaghetti the night before, I had spaghetti. If it had been pot roast, my breakfast was two slices of bed, covered in pot roast and gravy. Not Jimmy, though – all he would eat was bologna. Not a bologna sandwich, though, but bologna cut up with mustard. It had to be cut up into bite sized pieces and slathered with mustard. To this day, the smell of mustard makes me nauseous.

So there I was, immersed in memories of Jimmy and  mustard fumes, when I looked up and saw this restaurant smack dab in front of me!

DSCN1928And this sign in front of the door

DSCN1927PS – At that price, I hope they used lots of mustard – and included 5 cookies

The Universe Gave Me This Blog Post   1 comment

I thought I had a problem. I wanted to write a blog post for this week, but I had no ideas. Then, lo and behold one was handed to me on a platter.

I should have known I’d get an idea over the weekend since I’d be going  to Manhattan, not once but twice. Saturday, while I had a wonderful day and a delicious vegan lunch with friends, yielded nothing in the way of a light bulb going on over my head. Sunday, however handed me this post, but in a very mystical way, one that reinforces my belief that there are no coincidences.

Summer Sundays begin with coffee on the deck and the New York Times, not necessarily (in fact, not usually), the current day’s paper. Anyone who knows me well knows I am obsessed with reading the whole Sunday edition – all seven sections (Sunday News, Sports Sunday, Sunday Business, Week in Review, Arts & Leisure, Sunday Styles, Real Estate) plus the Magazine and any special sections that may be included. Only when I’ve finished, do I buy another Sunday edition; even if it takes me a month of Sundays. So there I was reading  Chronicling Neighborhood “Joints” in May 24’s Metropolitan Section,  a feature paying tribute to eateries that have stood the test of time in a city that has a continuous turnover of restaurants.


Kindly note this paragraph. We’ll return to it in a moment.


After arriving at Grand Central Terminal, I set out to meet a friend downtown.  About 10 blocks into my walk, I happened to look across the street and  noticed this line of parked taxis.


I looked up at the street sign. 28th Street – I was in Murray Hill, also know as Curry Hill. Now go back and read the sentence aboutbiry

  • cabbies,
  • biryani (an Indian rice dish)
  • and Murray Hill.

For those not familiar with Manhattan, here are two  bits of information.

  • A large percentage of NY taxi drivers are Indian,
  • and there’s a two block stretch of Lexington Avenue with nothing but Indian Restaurants.


And my own personal favorite:


These only begin to scratch the surface. I’d have been very late to meet my friend if i snapped a photo of all the Indian restaurants. But think about it, of all the old Times I could have been reading, I found one that made mention of cabbies in Murray Hill, and of all the avenues I could have taken through Murray Hill, I happened to take  Lexington.

Life, I love ya!

I love the New York Times,  too, and since I’d finished the May 24 paper, I stopped to get


The Universe Provides…. and SheTakes Away.   1 comment

Way back in what was another lifetime, I was a teacher. Actually you could consider it two lifetimes. When I was fresh out of college I spent eleven years teaching in the Bronx, then after taking a nine year sabbatical I returned to the profession – this time in San Jose. While my Bronx “lifetime” was a pleasurable, rewarding one, my California career took an opposite turn. I attribute it to the fact that in the Bronx I never ventured above third grade. After my first two years I descended to first grade, and eventually snuggled into Kindergarten.

As for California, all was going well until the year I volunteered to leave  my comfort zone of, kindergarten and “move up” to fourth grade.  Little did I know I’d be teaching the Fourth Grade from Hell. Looking back I wonder if it would h ave been half as bad had not the class roster included Russell, Ruben, Alex, and Mark, known to me as The Gang of Four.  I’ll say no more about them, as they are now about 35 years old, and they may find me on Facebook!

I guess it could have been worse. I could have been teaching The Class that Drove Mr Mays Crazy. True story – one day that same year I was enduring the ten-year-old old gang wannabes, the second grade teacher went home, and never returned – not until the next year, by which time he had recovered from his nervous breakdown. The now third grade class prided themselves as being the class that drove Mr Mays crazy.

I survived the fourth grade without a breakdown, and was grateful to be able to return to a first grade class for the next two years. They would be my last two years in the profession. My students were darlings, but  the fourth grade experience had done irreparable damage.

Resigning at year’s end was in the pipe dream  stage when I came across a sentence in a New Age-y magazine.

If a woman follows her heart, the universe will provide.

My heart didn’t have a destination in mind, but it did have an escape. At the end of the school year, I followed my heart the hell out of teaching!

Speaking of provisions, wouldn’t you think the universe would be only too glad to provide in the garden? Not at The House of Mars! Not yet, anyway. She’s toying with me. My soil is home to the most amazingly large, beautiful lush squash plants – one yellow squash

DSCN1899and one zucchini.


I was so thrilled when they started putting out vibrant yellow flowers. I was crushed when they fell off a few days later.

DSCN1901This happened again and again. Flowers. No flowers. Flowers. No flowers.

I looked it up (gotta love the internet!) and found this is normal. They were all male flowers and that’s what male flowers do – mature, scatter pollen, and fall off. The article promised the female flowers would come. It sounded suspiciously like an exhortation to trust the universe to provide. I’m still trusting.

Then one day I was adding scraps to my compost pile which is nearly as far away as you can get from the squash, and still be at The House of Mars, when I saw this growing out of the pile of stones retaining it.

DSCN1898Another squash plant! The universe had provided, after all!!!!!

Later on I thought about it. The leaves and flowers looked similar but I’d discarded lots of pumpkin and melon seeds there last year. Oh well, whatever it was, Mother Universe was giving me a bonus plant, and I was grateful.

A couple of days later, I went back to check on it. The universe had provided, but she provided it to the woodchuck squatter on my property, not me.


I decided to give it a chance, and dug up the remains to transplant to the garden.


And that’s when the answer to its origins was revealed .


Posted July 29, 2015 by virginiafair in Uncategorized

How Do I File a Complaint?   2 comments

Last week was hot – almost too hot for me. And that’s saying a lot.


It was the first time in my sixteen years at The House of Mars that I had to run all three window fans at once, along with the ceiling fan in the kitchen. Normally I only use the fan in the bedroom , and only at night if I wake up and can’t get back to sleep. Most summers that only happens three, maybe four nights.

But hey! I’m not complaining. I love the heat. And I’m not one of those people who philosophizes about how it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. I say BRING IT ON. Heat and humidity are what I dreamed about all last winter.

Speaking of winter, I do have something to complain about.

Hey V bite your tongueNobody’s talking about winter. That’s a bad word in July.

(Can you hear that? That’s my inner voice speaking. )

But actually a bad word in July is exactly what I’m complaining about. Many many summers ago, come the end of July, my mother would start with the comments –

“Before you know it, school will be opening.”

“We’ll have to go look for clothes for school.”

Well, there went my summer The clock was ticking.

“Look, the stores are already advertising  Back to School sales.”

Yep, the alarm was set.

Well, it’s happening. Last week while it was still mid-July and 97 degrees in the shade, what did I hear on TV but a Staples stock up for school ad. And yesterday a famous Footwear ad  about how this school year can be the best yet if you get cool shoes.

But actually now that I’ve gotten how I despise rushing the end of summer off my chest, that’s not what I’m complaining about.

This is


Posted July 23, 2015 by virginiafair in Summer

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