Archive for December 2013
… But there were times I wasn’t so sure. I’m talking about my Christmas tree ornaments, and the reason for my worry was
You know what they say about not seeing the forest for the trees, I figured it was just a matter of time, but I was presently surprised.
Marble, the kitten of endless exploration, was no more interested in the tree than the jaded brothers,
or Marceau, both of whom were celebrating their ninth Christmas at The House of Mars
As for the ornaments about which I was concerned? First off, first of all there was this…
These ornaments are older than I am, made just after World War II when metals were still in short supply. I believe they’re vintage 1946 from my parent’s first Christmas tree.
Then there are these…
See the white ones? I found them in the attic shortly after moving into The House of Mars, and when I leave , I’d like to leave them with a note for the next owners. Then, there’s
This was given to me by my friend Fran at a Christmas Eve dinner she hosted in 2005. She left ornaments at each place setting, by chance, and asked of each of us, in place of grace, if it signified anything. For me, since it portrayed the Rockefeller Center tree and skating rink, it reminded me of my Aunt Ginny who, starting when I was four, would meet my mother and me each Friday evening at the rink after leaving work at The New York Times, to teach me to ice skate. Aunt Ginny had passed away in 1998 of breast cancer, and Fran was also to pass away in 2007 of Ovarian cancer.
Then there was the tree topper…
sent to me by a friend at Christmas 2004, because it reminded her of my beloved Fremont. Alas, she knew not that Fremont had passed over in August of that year. Speaking of beloveds who are no longer with is. This was given to Marcos a couple of years ago. Last year was his last Christmas on the planet.
Oh my, I’m getting a bit morose here so let me end on a joyous note.
Tomorrow is my birthday. I’ve survived yet another year, too. YAY!!!!!!
…..an amazing but welcome aberration of nature: this weekend’s temperatures. I’d intended a totally different post but the weather this weekend begged a blog!
Weekends being what they are, I was in the city. I knew it was going to be warm but I guess it didn’t sink in exactly how warm 65 degrees would feel after a Tuesday of snow and days of temps in the teens. If I didn’t know any better I would have thought it was a few days before Easter, not Christmas.
As the infamous “they”say, One picture is worth at least a few words
Judging by the temperature and the sky, it could definitely be April, no, it could be May!
But nightfall brought me back to reality, but in a joyous way. That’s the Christmas-lit Empire State Building in the distance.
It may have been night but the temperatures were holding their own. And people were loving it.
Dispensing with coats
A couple of hours later I arrived back at the Peekskill train station. What a difference fifty miles can make
And another six miles at the House of Mars
I awoke to what I thought was the foggiest morning I’d ever seen.
Then I realized they were fogged up. It was warmer outside than in. So I opened the windows. Yes, in December!
And set out to finish my Christmas shopping!
Merry Christmas to all!
It’s taken me mucho years but I’m ready to admit that I really do have a problem. It stems back to a well-meaning aunt and her gift of a book. Aunt Irma was one of my father’s sisters and she’d visit us regularly, though, oddly enough, Daddy was never there when she did. He’d be at work and it would just be my mother and me. Since she lived way out in Queens, and we were in Harlem, this involved subways and buses yet she never arrived empty-handed. She’d always have a West Indian spice bun for Daddy and something for me. One fateful day it was a musical book. It was the summer before I started kindergarten so I was four. Of all the books I’ve read, and I’m an avid reader, it was the one that had the most profound and lasting impression on me.
The book was boxlike – and on the spine was a handle. When you cranked it, The Farmer in the Dell would play. Between the sturdy cardboard covers were paper pages. You turned the handle and as the song played you turned the pages to sing along and keep up with the story. Since I was so young , I’d never played the circle game of the same name, so this illustrated story-behind-the game was my first introduction. And it pulled me in. Too far in.
In case anyone is not familiar with the game, one child would be chosen to be the farmer and he’d stand in the middle of the circle as everyone clapped their hands and sang
The Farmer in the Dell, the Farmer in the Dell, heigh-Ho- the derrio, the Farmer in the Dell
The Farmer picks a Wife, The farmer picks a wife, heigh- ho the derrio, the farmer picks a wife.
At this point, he’d pick a girl to join him in the circle. This went on in similar fashion with the wife picking a child, the child picking a nurse, the nurse picking a dog, the dog picking a cat, the cat picking a rat, and the rat picking a cheese.
At this point there’d be a change in lyrics:
The farmer runs away, the farmer runs away, Heigh-ho the derrio, the farmer runs away
and the farmer would run out of the circle,.
The wife runs away.
And out she’d run with each succeeding member sung out of the circle in the order in which they’d been picked until it got to the cheese. Of course since a cheese has no legs. It can’t run. At this point the words would come fast and furious as the circle swayed in and out, the children clapping their hands around the poor cheese, singing
The Cheese stands alone. The cheese stand along, Heigh-ho the derrio, the Cheese stands alone.
The operative word in understanding my predicament is my choice of words above – the poor cheese.
When Daddy came home for dinner and sought me out with his signature “Where’s my girlfriend?” he found me in my room crying.
When he asked me what was wrong, I told him “The cheese is lonely, and everyone laughed at him.”
A few months later, I seem to remember my mother muttering to my father, “Remind me to thank your sister for that book.” Each morning she’d walk me to school as I whimpered quietly. I tried to hide it from the teacher but once she noticed my tears and asked me why I was crying. My answer? “We left Daddy home shaving and he’s lonely.”
My concern knew no boundaries. I worried about poor Tweetie, my canary. Was he lonely in his cage? What about Peter, my turtle? As our family grew with the addition of two brothers, I stopped worrying so much about Daddy, but stories about me gained the status of urban legend. If there was one cookie left on the plate or one pork chop, I’d beseech some one to eat it, put it out of its lonely misery. In the supermarket, if a can of corn or a bottle of juice was out of place, I’d seek out its brethren and reunite them. Lest you laugh and say “how cute!”, let me tell you about Sunday – yes, the day before yesterday – 12/15/2013.
There I was in Petsmart buying cat food, Nature’s Recipe chicken, to be precise. It comes in little trays of six but you can buy them separately if you like.
I get chicken because Marceau is so fussy though by looking at his physique you’d never suspect it.
Then I saw Chicken with Beef. Thinking Marcel and Marble (who both would eat Cleveland if it was on a dish), might like a little variety.
So I nabbed one. I made it half way to the checkout before it hit me. I’d taken one of the remaining two. The last one was all alone on the shelf.
Yes, sad to say, I had to go back and get it.
I wonder if my mother ever thanked Aunt Irma for that book!
An attitude of gratitude, that’s the philosophy I find myself embracing lately. A prime example is when I turned on the TV a week ago Sunday and saw the news accounts of the tragic train accident on the Metro North Railroad . Since the Hudson Line is the line I take in to the city, I identified viscerally. Thinking of the four people killed I found the same haunting thoughts echoing through my mind as had when I’d heard about the workers in the Twin Towers or the students and teachers at Sandy Hook. They left home, thinking it was going to be a day like any other…….but they never came back.
I come back again and again, and I don’ t take it for granted.
My thoughts were with those people this weekend. I was attending a party in Manhattan Friday night, and going back again Sunday morning to meet my friend, CM for our annual museum visit and lunch. Readers of this blog know that normally I’d be kicking up my heels in joy to be traveling to the city twice in one weekend. And I was, although perhaps my kick was a little lower. I wasn’t afraid of traveling that stretch of track so soon after operations resumed. I was just respectful.
And while I waited for the train I took in the beauty of the Hudson. Yes, even in winter:
OK I cheated and waited in the warmth of the overhead waiting area.
I enjoyed the southern view
I enjoyed the beauty of the old station
I noticed the flag was flying at half staff for Nelson Mandela
I almost missed the train!
From the train, I appreciated the soon to be replaced Tappan Zee Bridge, and was grateful for all the times I’ve driven across it safely – especially that time in 1969 when the wind blew my VW into the next lane.
I appreciated that I arrived safely at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
And that once again got a chance to see the treeAnd the precious 18th century figurines beneath it.
And most of all…..
I was grateful to arrive back at the Peekskill Train Station safe and sound.
I guess you could call this part two to A Familiar Sight, a post I wrote about how I’d been obsessed with a white dog who haunted my high school years, appearing only when I had no witnesses, and the current illusive Pink Cadillac who has taken his place. So I suggest if you missed it, you take a look before proceeding.
After that initial, no camera moment, with a score of Pink Cadillac 1, Virginia 0, that dang-nab Pink Cadillac continued to haunt me. One day I looked up from my desk, and there it was approaching the building.
“Look look there it is!” I may have startled my office mate but at least I had a witness. I grabbed my camera and ran out to the parking lot.
“Where’s the Pink Cadillac?” I asked the woman I’d nearly knocked over
Her answer? What Pink Cadillac?
How could she miss a Pink Cadillac? I began to think I was hallucinating. But no, I did have those two witnesses.
Okay – Pink Cadillac 2, Virginia 0
I took a day off a week or so later and when I returned, this photo was waiting for me in my email inbox.
Was he taunting me? Ol’ PC must have known I wasn’t there and took a leisurely saunter up the road. But what he didn’t know was that I had a trusty office mate armed with a smart phone
OK PC – 3 V – 0
I’d almost conceded the game when what should I see, today? And with my camera within reach –
See, I wasn’t crazy, not about this anyway. He’d turned around before entering the lot. That’s why the woman I almost knocked over had said “What Pink Cadillac?”
And so we bid adieux to a mystery.
Now if only I could find that white dog!