Archive for September 2013

Close the Book. Put The Phone Away. Try Life, You’ll Like It   6 comments

I was in a window seat on  the 11:35 AM express into the city, absorbed in my book , as a beautiful morning rushed past  unseen. Halfway down the page, I was distracted by a scolding thought. Head in a book is as bad as eyes on the smartphone. It’s all the same. You’re missing the life in front of your face .

I realized this rogue thought was right. I wasn’t any more present on this train than those people I rail against who are so absorbed in their phones. After all hadn’t two different people at the gym told  me  just last week that they always see me on the cardio machines but were loath to say hi because “your head is always in a book” They both said exactly the same thing!  I now realized that my explanation about being in a book club and the gym being one of the few places I could get in a solid chunk of reading did nothing to set me apart from the phone zombies. Paper world, electronic world, neither holds a candle to the real world. I closed my book.

The Hudson Line of Metro North runs alongside the river from which it takes its name. I was seated on the land side so I set to admiring the trees in various states of losing their leaves, realizing it was a unique view , one that would never be seen again. I could take this same train the next day, and that some of the leaves could be gone, or more gold than green. It was beauty that would never repeat itself.

From time to time, I looked up at the houses set in the sloping hills.  Homes I coveted for their view of the river, and imagines how the people inside were spending that particular moment we shared.

It was  time for  the  Hudson. I couldn’t let that slip away. I looked  across the aisle  just in time to see the Tappan Zee Bridge zip past. A new bridge is in the works so  this old bridge was a sight to be savored.

I marveled at a tiny lighthouse that zipped past. In all my trips to the city, I’d never noticed it, probably because my head was in a book.

Sailboats drifted dream-like down the river. Never again would we all be here together again.

And as I took it all in, a movement in my peripheral vision broke the spell. I didn’t give it much notice . Being a  Saturday morning train, riders  are often napping.  I  assumed it was someone rising from a slumped position. And indeed it was someone. It just wasn’t the someone I’d expected.


He just sat there, perfect posture, gazing  out at the Hudson. He knew what life was all about.

I got out my camera and asked permission to take a photo, and when I inquired if he was always so good, the young man replied that yes she was, but that she was especially  happy this morning, because  she loved hiking and was tired out  now.


And as if on cue.


“You’ve already been hiking?” I asked , amazement in my tone. He smiled and nodded.

Wow I thought, Now that’s getting the most out of life!  And when they quietly exited the train at 125th street, one stop ahead of Grand Central Terminal where I was headed, I realized that had I been reading my book,  I’d never have observed this slice of life!

Speaking of slices of life I came near to missing.  Yesterday I noticed for the first time that I had some really faithful flowers that were still giving it their all. In my  long rush  to get out the door and to my car each morning  I’d been neglecting to give them the attention their summer-blooming neighbors received. And so, to those  who are toughing it out to the first frost, I salute you:


Now, all of you, go out and be mindful!

Posted September 30, 2013 by virginiafair in Uncategorized

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Virginia, I’m Surprised at You!   4 comments

“Virginia, I’m surprised at you!”

Oh how I hated those words back in elementary school. When the good nuns said that, it made me want to do something even worse than whatever it was I’d done to provoke their disapproval. It made me feel I was some kind of goody-goody, and what could be worse to a 4th grader’s street credentials?

Well, see this?


This has had me surprised at myself for two weeks. I should have know better.

Little Marble and I were playing with a string. The cat is obsessed with strings. So when I dangled a tantalizing string in front of him, in a millisecond he sprang  waist-high and grabbed it out of my hand.  Unfortunately, at the highest point of his leaping swipe, one  of his needle-sharp claws, punctured my index finger. It hurt, but it wasn’t the first time I’ve been speared in my 40 years of  living  with cats.

That was Tuesday, the week before last.  Witness my thoughts of the next few days

Wednesday: Hmm,  this finger still hurts, and it’s kind of warm.

Thursday:  Look how red that finger is! I  think it’s swollen, and it feels really warm.  Is it swelling? I wonder if I should go to the doctor. Naah!

Friday:  Man, this still hurts, but  it hasn’t gotten any worse. Translation: I won’t call the doctor.

Saturday: Owee-ooch -ch-ch ( Have you ever noticed how many times you hit your finger in the course of a day? I hadn’t – not until it brought forth burning pulsing throughout my whole hand.) Maybe I should have called the doctor yesterday.

I was weighing my options by now.

I really don’t want to go to the Emergency Room………….. I  guess I could call the doctor’s office. After all,  the message does say “If this is an emergency, press 1. 

I was meeting  R in the city, for a  walk on Manhattan’s  High Line and dinner. That would take my mind off my finger. And it did. But I got an idea of how it looked when, from across the dinner table, he asked “What did you do, catch your finger in the car door?”

(Full disclosure: I did take a photo, but I don’t want to sicken you. )

Saturday night’s thoughts: You  know I think this is abscess,

                                                                          I don’t like that blue, black, and purple.

                                                                                     Is gangrene only green?

                                                                                             Sniff, sniff. It doesn’t smell.

                                                                                                   Monday’s 36 hours away. That’s not too long.

Sunday: This doesn’t look good at all. That abscess has grown. 23 hours to Monday.

Owch-ee-ooc-chee.  @#!!!&$# door jamb!

I had lunch with C & D in the Bronx but  I managed to conceal it from them. I knew C would make me go to the hospital.

Sunday night:  Only 12 more hours

Well, to make what’s becoming a very long story excruciating. The doctor’s receptionist did squeeze  me into his schedule And guess what he did? He took one looks and …………..


So why was I surprised at myself? It’s a double whammy

  • #1 Years and years ago, I was a licensed animal health technician  in California. Treating cat abscesses was a daily occurrence. Cats fight. Even when they play, they fight.  Cat A’s claw punctures Cat B’s skin. The skin closes over the puncture but the damage is already done and bacteria is left behind  to grow and fester. So not only did I know all along what was happening, I recalled that assisting at a lancing and drainage was most rewarding since the results could be seen immediately.
  • #2 Even though he was a hulking king of whatever neighborhood we lived in, my dear huge boy Fremont incurred an abscess or two from lesser upstarts. And the moment I’d notice a swelling – we were off to the vet in an instant.

So the moral of my story?  Do unto yourself as you do to your pets,


Posted September 24, 2013 by virginiafair in Uncategorized

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A Familiar Sight   2 comments

Alas I  have no pictures this week. That’s because the topic at hand may, or may not be all in my head.  If you recall a few weeks ago I lamented about not having my camera with me when I saw an honest-to-goodness, gen-yoo-ine Pink Cadillac like Bruce Springsteen sang about. If you missed that post take a look.

Well, this is getting spooky. Last Friday I was setting out on my daily lunchtime walk around the office park where I work, and while I was still in the lobby  what should glide past the glass double doors but –  the elusive Pink Cadillac. I ran out but it had disappeared around the corner.

Yeah yeah, I can hear you. “Virginia, it’s all in your head.” Spare me, I grew up hearing that. Let’s not go there

On second thought – let’s do go there – to my high school years. I used to leave for high school early. Living in New York City, specifically Manhattan, meant you were on your own getting to school. Sure you got a reduced fare bus pass but there were  no school buses except for the disabled. What this meant for me since I lived on West 150 street and my high school was on East 75 street, was that I had to take two buses, a downtown one and then a crosstown one. And since the home room bell rang at 8:25, I had to catch the 7:30 downtown bus.

So there Iwas at 7:20, walking sleepily down 150 Street toward the bus stop on the corner when a pack of stray dogs came trotting out of a courtyard I was passing.
“Don’t run, don’t run,” I reminded myself but still I picked up my pace, and they went their way, and I, mine. And oh yes, they were led by a majestic looking German Shepherd type with a snowy white coat.

I began to encounter them at least once a week and although I took more notice of them than they did of me, they were beginning to spook me – especially the ghostly white leader of the pack but when I’d bring up the incident at dinner, since none of my family had ever encountered this canine phenomena, I’d get the standard response, “Virginia, you’re imagining things – it’s all in your head.”

They may have thought it was funny, but I didn’t. Well, to paraphrase Richard Nixon, they wouldn’t have  Virginia to kick around much longer. I’d soon be heading off to college. And what do you think happened when I did? They moved! Fortunately they told me where – to the Northeast Bronx. And they acquired my replacement – Duke, a sweet pupp-a-roo. Yes, Duke was sweet through and through, but he had a Napoleon complex toward any dog bigger than him. Being a medium size dog himself, this meant he was a war with a sizable portion of the canine population.

One morning while home for some break or other, I was walking Duke when what should come walking down the street towards us but  a pack of dogs –  led by – yep, a white German Shepherd!  I managed to shake off the paralysis of shock in time to realize, not only was EL  Blanco bigger than The Duke, so were all his cohorts. Duke noticed too

Having no choice,  I dragged him into a typical NY neighborhood  candy/newspaper store  with a soda fountain. If I’d ever had a notion we could just slip in un-noticed and stand just  inside the  door until El Blanco and his gang were gone , it was dispelled by Duke’s lemme at em barking and  growling .attitude

“You can’t bring a dog in here, “yelled the proprietor.

“Oh yes, I can” I stood my ground until the cost was clear.

Guess what the family’s reaction was when I burst in and telling them of my ordeal? Yep, all in my head.”

Did I really think the beautiful beast had followed me all the way up to the Bronx?

Well Let me just say that I’ve always had an interest in Shamanism. Shamans, natural healers, have spirit helpers called familiars who display the appearance of an animal found in nature – a fox, eagle, wolf, rabbit, etc.

So if you happen to see a white dog driving a pink Cadillac – don’t worry. He’s with me!

Posted September 16, 2013 by virginiafair in Uncategorized

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Life Goes On: Part 2   3 comments

Do you remember how Marcos took over my former guest room?



Although I miss him dearly, I had every intention of restoring it to visitor status. But I guess I didn’t work  fast enough. Marcos room has a new tenant.  Meet Marbles, the House of Mars’ newest Mar.



How did this come about? I wish I knew.  On Thursday, August 22, I stopped at Petsmart to get cat food. This, in itself was out of the ordinary since I always run this errand on Saturdays. But I had something else planned for Saturday, so there I was.

Little Orphan Animals, a  local rescue group, had set up cages of kittens outside the entrance. I took a quick peek, again, not my usual habit; I usually put blinders on when passing rescued cats. No problem, though, They were all very young, and at my age, I  didn’t want a kitten. I continued on into the store where I detoured to  venture  into the adoption room; again, something I avoid like the plague. I guess I got over-confident, because there I saw the most exquisitely colored white and black kitten.

Kitten, I pointed out to myself. But isn’t rationalization a wondrous thing? I managed to convince myself that he  wasn’t a young kitten since the sign said he was five months old.

The problem is, his mom and brother were there  too. How could I break up a family? I’d have to take all three. Luckily sanity interrupted my thought process

“Ahem, do you realize that would mean you’d have five cats? And how big is your house.”

“Um, 700 square feet, give or take,”

I decided to think it over, and entrust them to fate. After all, I wouldn’t need cat food until the Saturday of the following week. Anything could happen in that time.  Maybe they’d all be adopted.

And so I returned on Saturday, August 31.  Only one cat remained – the beauty! I quickly jotted down the phone of Susan, who was sponsoring him, and …….the rest is history.

Thursday, September 5

After checking with my veterinarian that I would be a trustworthy cat guardian, Susan delivered BW, whom I promptly renamed. I consigned him to Marcos’s room where he’d be gradually introduced to the Brothers Mar, via  sniffs and paws groping under the door.  He vanished under the bed, not to be seen again for twenty-four hours. I left food, water, and clean litter and checked periodically. Nada, zilch, zero


No Marble sighting in the morning.  But when i returned in the evening he’d decided maybe he’d like a look around.




See why I named him Marble? from every angle, he’s just a swirl of black and white.


Saturday Morning ,

He still hadn’t eaten, but he seemed comfortable with his new digs


Saturday Evening

Uh oh, time for an introduction to the brothers, but Marble wasn’t so sure.


And the brothers, for their part, huddled in the dining room, trying to make some sense of this little newcomer, probably saying “Thank goodness she didn’t bring home a dog like last time.”



Sunday Morning


Marble was raring to go,


but the Brothers split up and fled to higher ground






Sunday evening

Marble’s appetite returned to life.



Notice who finished first!


Monday Morning 

The Brothers are trying a new tactic:  Good Cop Bad Cop, Marcel hissed at him in the morning.  Marble  paid him no mind. Marceau took over the role in the evening.  Again – no reaction.

Oh, those two, they’re such a pair of old fuddy -duddy bachelors, stuck in their ways. Tell me, could you hiss at this face?







Memo to Self: Take the Camera!   2 comments

When will I learn. I mean, how much effort does it take to tuck a 4 ounce camera in your pocket?

But n-o-o-o-o-o! Time and again, I come upon an snap-shot worthy happening, and  feel like hitting myself in the head a la You could have had a V8 .

This doesn’t happen most of the time since my camera lives in my shoulder bag and nine times out of ten, the bag is slung over my shoulder.  It’s that one time out of ten that trips me up, like that  lunch time walk I took through the office park where I work, when  I came upon   a pink Cadillac parked in the parking lot three buildings down.  I mean, how many times do you see an honest to goodness early sixties behemoth with garish tail fins, and two-toned to boot? Pink with a white roof!  It was just like Bruce  Springsteen  and Natalie Cole sang about so I walked over and looked in the back seat – but neither one was having “a party in the back of the pink Cadillac.”

Then there was last Wednesday. If only I’d thrown the camera into my backpack before I headed out for the gym, I could have grabbed a shot of  the Kentucky Fried Chicken  employee on her dinner break,  heading straight across the parking lot,  in full uniform, visor and all,  making a bee line from KFC to the Chinese take-out  next to the gym.

But don’t worry, you know I always have a picture or two for my posts.

While watching my daily dose of the Today show last week, I had time to grab my camera and get proof that Savannah Guthrie’s dress is directly related to my makeshift laptop bag



My bag


And their distant cousin

My shower curtain