Archive for November 2013

On My Way to Buy Underwear   2 comments

On my way to buy underwear is the answer.

Where were you on November 22, 1963 when you heard John F Kennedy had been shot?  is the question.

I was obeying my mother’s command. Other mothers admonished their children to always wear clean underwear lest they be hit by a car and taken to the hospital and be found to have on dirty undies. For my mother, it was preparation for any trip I took. “Go buy new underwear.”

Th trip I was about to undertake was not an exciting one. Part of the senior year experience at my Catholic Girl’s high school was a three-day retreat at a monastery in New Jersey during the short school week preceding Thanksgiving. We had been dismissed after lunch the preceding Friday because ????????????I have no idea why since we wouldn’t be departing  until Sunday. Maybe it was so we could all go buy new underwear!

At any rate, there I was walking west on East 75th street toward 5th avenue to take a downtown bus to EJ Korvette’s on 47th  and Fifth. It was a cold blustery day, much like today, and as I rushed head-on into the wind blowing east from Central Park, a doorman stepped out of the polished wood shelter of an apartment house lobby and called out

“The president was just shot.”

I don’t recall what I said. Probably “oh no.” The next half hour or so is a blank. I probably headed on in disbelief and waited for the bus.

My next recollection is visual – looking out the window as the bus headed south and noticing the clusters of people planted outside stores windows on Fifth Avenue, watching news accounts on televisions that had been placed in the windows.

The next memory  is aural –  the eerie sound of all the church bells on Fifth Avenue – St Patrick’s  Cathedral, Thomas Episcopal Church, and  others – all chiming  in discordant  symphony. No words were needed. Everyone knew what they meant. Our young president was  gone.


I had not intended to write about this but a serendipitous occurrence urged me on. A classmate of mine with whom I’ve reconnected via Facebook posted a question for me on her timeline. She seemed to recall that we’d been dismissed early but didn’t know why. In replying to her, my mind took another weird hop, skip and jump and I realized the spot where the doorman stepped out to tell me of Kennedy’s shooting was half a block away from where three years earlier, JFK, then a presidential candidate, had waved to me, a 13-year-old schoolgirl standing on the median of Park Avenue; he, on his way to his first  debate with Nixon, and I, waiting for all the motorcycles and limousines to pass so I could catch up with my friends on the other side of the street. If you missed that post, here it is.

And now, fifty years later I’m flying  to San Diego in the morning to spend Thanksgiving with an old friend. And I’m taking  a very bold step. I’m packing old underwear!

See you when I get back!

You Heard it Here   4 comments

I think the winter of 2013-2014 is going to be one b..tch of  a winter here in New York. Why?

I’ve been looking out my office window on this dogwood tree for nearly eight years. And never, never have I see berries on it …….

DSCN0997Until this year

Until this year

And if you recall my post Doggone, I showed you a surfeit of berries on my dear dear holly bushettes.


What has this got to do with a harsh winter? Well in  my humble opinion it’s Mother Nature,  offering the birds and squirrels extra sustenance to  tide them over through the incredibly harsh weather ahead.

And look, the birds have heard the call.

Again, I’ve never seen so many fine feathered friends porking out on this tree.


And this goes on all day.


On what do I base  my  prediction?  Past experience. I’m not sure of the year, perhaps it was 2009 or 2010,  a fall when venturing outside The House of Mars was akin to stepping onto a field just as a jet fighter began shelling everything in sight. Acorns were hitting the ground en masse. All day and all night all you heard was whack, boom, bang  as they hit neighboring roofs of houses and sheds.

A friend of mine had to take her car to the body shop to hammer out the dents, So many littered the ground that walking was hazardous. Another friend went down on his bum after stepping on a batch. I myself was beaned and practically saw stars one morning while walking dearly departed Marcos. I was glad that I took the hit instead of him.

My personal belief, which I proclaimed at the time.  was that Mother Nature was providing all these acorns  to tide the squirrels over as the mother of all winters approached. Not only the squirrels, but, with the way the acorns hit the ground with enough force to penetrate the ground, I believed new  oaks would be needed to replace those  soon to fall over the winter.

And what of it?

Trees came down like crazy!


And you know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words?

I ran out of places to pile snow that year:


Enough said? Be prepared, and let’s  compare notes next spring.

Marble’s Performance Review   4 comments

Today I read that Yahoo is in an uproar due to CEO Marissa Mayer’s somewhat arbitrary requirements for job performance reviews. So seeing as Marble,  the newest resident of the House of Mars, has been on the job for  two months now, I think  it’s time for his performance review. Unlike Ms Mayer,  I. as CEO of The House of Mars will be totally flexible and let you judge. Has he lived up to the expectations based on his  references. Said references being Susan, the representative of Little Orphan Animals the rescue group that had him up for adoption.

He’s quite a character”:

Witness him standing his ground as Marceau tries to move in on his territory:DSCN0880DSCN0881


He certainly loves to play.”

And he doesn’t need any  playmates. He amuses himself:


Witnessing his play solved a mystery too. How all these blankets ended up in the kitchen:


I wonder how Marcos would have rated him had he still been here  to see him dragging his beloved cat toy?




Doggone   1 comment

When I first moved to the House of Mars, I had delusions of grandeur about the future of the threadbare  rocky yard . My visions fell somewhere between a lush, eccentrically overgrown English Cottage garden and the rich manicured layout of the Bronx Botanical Gardens. Fourteen years later, my feet are firmly on the ground. I have  a few faithful perennials which I feed in the spring and promise to re-feed  in six weeks, but………

and I promise to prune the bushes but……………….

and weed, but……

But ……my holly bushes, that’s another story.

I faithfully feed and baby them and keep the ground around them free of weeds. And I admire their symmetrical waxy leaves  all year-long.

In turn, they reward me


with more and more berries each year

And this year, they had a surprise hidden away


I never even heard of a holly flower.

Although they aren’t growing as quickly as I expected, they are expanding and filling in, becoming the living fence I wanted – although the need is no longer there. The need had a name, and it was Lucky.

The House of Mars has had one owner for the past 14 1/2 years – moi. The  house next door is on its fourth set.  Lucky was part and parcel of family #3 – a blond cocker spaniel. It’s not that he was bad. In fact he was amazingly obedient. All anyone in his family had to do was call “Lucky, home!” and he turned on a dime and ran home.

The problem was he never should have left home. And he definitely shouldn’t have been chasing Fremont and Niles but when he did, I behaved in an adult manner. I had a few polite words with the owner, who would apologize and for the next few days when Lucky was let out, he was tethered to his own deck.  For a day or so, then he’d be back.

I didn’t always see him but I’d know he’d been visiting because I’d find his calling cards These I dealt with as maturely as I could.  I got the cat pooper-scooper and tossed them over into Lucky’s yard where they’d land


(tee-hee) right in front of their shed door

In a perfect world, the neighbors would have fenced in their property but…………

So I did the next best thing. I set out to grow one. I doubt they’ll reach the six-foot height I envisioned, not in my lifetime, anyway.  But it doesn’t matter….

Family #4 has been here almost eight years now and so far …….no dog.

But there soon there was  a fence.


A few fences.


And a gate or two


You see, when Marcos came to live at the House of Mars, I had visions of the handsome hunk of dog  romping around the back yard. What I didn’t realize was you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. He’d  spent his first eight years as  a New York City walk-on-a-leash, lounge-in-the -apartment-all day dog.  He preferred 188

And now Lucky’s gone and Marcos is gone but I love my fences. They divide the property into a suite of outdoor rooms

And  they give these guys somewhere to hang out.


Posted November 4, 2013 by virginiafair in Uncategorized

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