Archive for February 2014

Hanging Out at The Beach   5 comments

Last  week’s post was about The House of Mars under the siege of snow, and it included a picture of my poor forlorn clothesline; the clothesline I bought when my dryer died last April. Why didn’t I buy a new dryer? Because it was of the same vintage as the  washing machine, and I just knew that if I went through the hassle of buying a dryer, taking time off to wait for delivery, etc etc, The washer would probably up and die the next day. And I’m glad I did.

The washer spun its last spin in July.


Now you may ask – why did I put off replacing them?  A natural inclination toward procrastination might be # 1 on the list. Fear would  be #2. fear? Yes fear…

That neither could pass through here.


Well, July turned to August, and August to September, and I settled into my laundromat routine. Having spent more of my life living in apartments than houses, I am quite familiar with the motions of going to the laundromat.

My best set up was my last California apartment, in Los Gatos; a tiny five unit complex. The laundry room was kitty corner to my backyard. I’d step out the door, cock my ear and if it was  quiet,  I’d come out with my basket of laundry, then go back in and continue on with whatever I’d been doing. When I heard the washer stop, I’d run out and transfer to the dryer. It actually entailed far fewer steps than here at The House of Mars.

The worst arrangement had to be my first apartment ever, in Yonkers, N.Y.  There were three washers for 60 apartments. And as if that weren’t bad enough, there were only two dryers! I was teaching at the time and, if I timed it right, I could nab a machine while the stay at home moms were cooking dinner, and before the nine-to-fivers came home. When I set out for school on washday morning, I’d leave my laundry basket just inside my apartment door and  that afternoon when I came home,  I’d enter the building by way of the  service entrance, peek into the laundry room, and if a machine was free, run like a banshee up to my apartment on the second floor and get my laundry.

But now! Doing laundry fits seamlessly into my regular routine……..

thanks to The Beach Shopping Center in nearby Peekskill.


Let’s get the question of the name out-of-the-way.  I have no idea. There’s no sand, and the nearest water is – the Hudson River about five miles to the west.

Unless you count this.


I put my laundry in the car in the morning, and after work,  go straight to the aforementioned shopping center

and park near the laundromat


walk across the parking lot and work out at the gym.


Besides doing laundry, the Beach Shopping Center also offers opportunities for take-out on nights when I have no food at home. Twenty minutes before I’m about to  leave the gym, I call next door


or maybe the other next door.


So you see it isn’t so bad. Will I ever get a new washer and dryer?? I’ll let you know if  I ever measure that door!

Models: This New-fangled Weather Reporting   2 comments

This winter and its snow deluges  prompted a couple of Weatherman/politician verbal fisticuffs recently.  A couple of week’s ago, Georgia’s governor, Nathan Deal, complained that the Weather  Service fell short in warning the Peach state of the impending storm that paralyzed Atlanta.  And last week New York’s new mayor defended his decision to keep New York City schools open based on an inaccurate weather report. Al Roker was swift in his meteorological defense in both cases, even tweeting all the way from the Olympics in Sochi to deBlasio. The gist of both defenses was Whatcha talking ’bout. We told you so.

Well, let me defend Al. I heard him on both occasions, as well as his cohorts on ABC and CBS. Both cities were warned. However, might I venture an explanation and perhaps a suggestion? Cut out all the various weather forecasting models, the European model, the Canadian model, the GFS model, all these whatever forecasts spit out by super computers somewhere up in the clouds. Or is it The Cloud?

I myself fumed one morning as good ol’ Al went through four models, yes, 1,2,3,4 of just whether or not we would get “significant” snow. Yes, eventually the weather service hit  upon the right one, but it reminded me of my high school approach to answering essay questions. Scribble down everything you know and maybe you’ll hit on the right answer

Do you think they have a model that can predict when  I’ll have full use of many essential components of the House of Mars.

Whaddya think, Al? When do you think I’ll be able to dry my clothes outdoors?


When will I be able to actually see pavement on my walk?


 When will I get my driveway back? April, May?


‘Cause I’m feeling cramped in my present driveway.



Posted February 17, 2014 by virginiafair in Uncategorized

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Be Careful What You Wish For   2 comments

Friday February 7 marked a year since Marcos left the House of Mars for the last time. I can’t say the time flew because his passing really changed the  atmosphere and energy of the house. Speaking of energy, February 5 marked 5 months since Marble took up residence. Only 5 months? It seem like a lifetime and I’m not sure how I mean that.

Although Marcos was an extremely mellow dog, he had his moments when I first rescued him. There was his talent for honing in and snatching up anything on the street with a shelf life of 10 years or less. We had some battles royal as I’d try to wrestle unrecognizable specimens of food from his jaws of steel. I’m amazed no one ever reported me to animal control for abusing a dog. His best stunt was the time he managed to grab an extra-large slice of pizza from a box lying along  the road and swallow it seemingly whole.

I don’t know how many times I commented “you must have been into everything when you were a pup. I wish I knew you then.”

Into everything!That  brings me back to Marble. Looking back, I realize there were signs. When I called the rescue group back in September to inquire about him, I was told he was a “character.” And then, when he had exploratory surgery for an intestinal ailment that was never diagnosed, the vet could not stop marveling about how “bright” he was. Put bright and character together and you get the demon of The House of Mars.

I could go into a gazillion anecdotes but don’t they say a picture is worth a thousand words?

DSCN0991He was uncharacteristically accepting of this post-operative collar he had to wear. Maybe he  knew the surgery cost as much as my second car!

But let’s get to the healthy bright character:


Let’s see, I wished I’d known what a mischievous pup Marcos had been.

Marcos died February 7


Marble was born March 5.


Just saying……….

Be careful what you wish for!

Posted February 10, 2014 by virginiafair in Cats, Uncategorized

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You Never Know When You’ll Be Revisiting a Nightmare   3 comments

I’ve been having a recurring nightmare ever since I left teaching.   It’s practically the same each time. I am back in my kindergarten classroom early in the morning, in a panic because the principal will be observing me for my yearly evaluation,  and not only am I unprepared , but months have passed since I’ve entered one lesson plan in the plan book, the book which the principal will be inspecting as part of my review.

lesson planSo there I am, frantically filling in all  the squares.

That’s Act I, Act II finds me without the pressure of the imminent observation, but similarly unprepared. As a result I’ve run out of off-the-cuff activities and the class slowly deteriorates, one child at a time, into raging chaos.

As a personal disclaimer let me point out that I never found myself in either situation but since I’ve had twenty years to analyze the dream, I’ve come to see how it correlates with my life. The dream only visits me when I find myself enmeshed in a situation over which I have no control.  For example, it was a regular part of a night’s sleep in the years I was responsible for my father’s final declining years.Thank goodness, I haven’t had it in a while. So why do I bring it up?

Friday was the start of Chinese Year, The Year of the Horse.

year of the horseThat  morning there had  been an item in the news about some parents in Chinatown suggesting  that the Chinese New Year be made a school holiday in New York City; their argument being that schools are shut down twice a year for the Jewish holidays. Without taking a side, let me point out that the Jewish holidays have always been days off from school ever since I can remember. However this wasn’t because of a majority of Jewish students. No, it was because the majority of NYC teachers were of the Jewish faith. Although I don’t have the figures in front of me,  I doubt this is the case today.

But, oh yes, back to the dream….. That evening as I drove home from work, listening to NPR, there was a conversation about the proposed holiday. A caller suggested that perhaps the Board of Education could consider instituting floating holidays  like some businesses do. That way children could stay home for whatever holidays are of importance to them.  My contribution to the dialogue? “Floating holiday? Aagh. Choke, No No No! ”

It’s a wonder I didn’t have a nightmare that very night!  One of the worst things, at least for a kindergarten teacher, and I suspect all levels, is to have a significant percentage of the class absent. Back before vaccinations, when the first child came down with chicken pox or measles a teacher could just kiss goodbye any expectations of having a full class for weeks. What this meant was whatever you taught had to be re-taught.  And unless you wanted the children subject to boring repetition

bored k ids

you had to plan a lot of independent activities for the “well” so that when the “formerly unwell  returned you could teach them. And measles being measles, this was a shifting population.

The major problem was that for a significant proportion of the first half of the school year, independent activities in Kindergarten are a   “Ha!  yeah!” proposition. Don’t believe me?  Have you ever seen the movie Kindergarten Cop where Arnold Schwarzenegger plays an undercover cop posing as a kindergarten teacher? Of course it takes him all of three minutes to lose control of the class.

out of control

His love interest, a teacher down the hall, comes in and restores control, leaving him with these immortal words of advice (and my favorite movie quote in the whole wide world):

Kindergarten is like“Always remember Kindergarten is like the ocean. You never turn your back on either of them.”


Pleasant dreams (I hope)