Archive for April 2014

It All Started With a Pink Pig   3 comments

I came home one March evening to discover a waiting line at the litter box.DSCN1318

I knew where he had come from but I went upstairs to check, just the same.

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These are stuffed animals which a boyfriend used to win for me at festivals, or send as gifts while we were together. They’d been gathering dust and I had been successful at procrastinating over how to dispose of them. By the way, they were neatly arranged against the wall last time I remember being up in the loft. I guess I don’t go up there as often as I should!

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Over the next two weeks or so, I’d come home from work to discover that the migration was continuing.

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Some didn’t quite make it down the stairs.

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Some made it down the stairs, but just barely.

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Had word gotten around that I was considering evicting them after all these years, or was something else going on?  I was leaning toward the latter but I had yet to catch him in the act.

As you can see by the look on his face,  Marceau knew but he wasn’t saying.

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Aha! Finally. Who else but Marble!

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Now that the cat was out of the bag, he showed no restraint

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I must say I was impressed. She’s bigger than he is

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I decided to experiment. I’d set them up down here and see if he’d get  bored and bring them back upstairs.

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A few days later.

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He’s moving them. But this isn’t quite what I had in mind.

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 I’d do it myself but Marceau seems to have taken a liking to the arrangement. (Look closely!)

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Posted April 15, 2014 by virginiafair in Cats

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Perception vs Reality   2 comments

Recently I’ve come up against conflicting opinions  regarding the relationship between reality and perception. The funny thing is up until a few months ago, I’d never ever stopped to consider the possibilities, but then a coworker commented that 97% of reality is perception. It intrigued me and I thought a bit about it – but not that much!

Then this past Saturday I stopped for some take-out food and as the owner went back to the kitchen to bag my order I noticed a piece of paper put up next to the swinging door, proclaiming that perception is not  reality. I wanted to ask him what it meant but by the time he came back, I had forgotten. Oh, well.

This all fit in with a blog idea I’ve been tossing about for a while, even taking notes for, but never managing to get around to putting it into words. This is kind of funny because it’s all about words, and  mis-perceptions that have brought a smile to my face when I realize I’ve read something too fast, or listened with half an  ear and a quarter of a brain.

While listening to a food show on PBS, I heard

  • “Use a nice dirty baking potato.”
  • Everyone else heard ” a nice sturdy baking potato.”

 

On another PBS show, this one on travel, I heard the host  lament

  • the hunting of “an endangered wino”.
  • Everyone else heard “endangered rhino.”

 

I guess I watch a lot of PBS shows. This time it was a gardening show. I heard

  • “Let the seeds urinate.
  • Everyone else was  told to “Let the seeds germinate.

 

On a health and beauty segment of the news about weight loss. I heard

  • surgery is often necessary to tighten up blue skin
  • Other listeners hear it was  loose skin that needed tightening up

 

And last but not least, on a health and beauty show, I was reminded how important it was to my health

  • to get lots of wedgies
  • A whole different reality than getting lots of veggies.

If you think I don’t listen well, wait until I tell you what I’ve read. But that will have to wait for another time, another place. For now, so long, it’s been real!

Posted April 8, 2014 by virginiafair in Uncategorized

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There Oughta Be a Nostalgia Attack Warning!   2 comments

There I was minding my own business, driving home from a day at work and an evening at the gym. I had a mile to go when one word, Ebinger’s reached out from the radio speaker and dragged me back to 1961 (or thereabouts) to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, where my grandfather and two aunts lived.  Ebinger’s Bakery! It didn’t take long for the faded-to-mist memory to rise up and flesh out. And it brought an old friend – Fudge Marianne. Meanwhile  back in the present, as I waited for the light to turn green in 2014 Putnam Valley, a woman related how twenty years ago she went to extremes to to duplicate an Ebinger’s cake for her 80-year-old  Brooklyn grandfather.

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Ebinger’s was a long-standing Brooklyn  icon, kind of a 20th century Junior’s . (Not being a cheese cake  aficionado, I venture to say Ebinger’s turned out better cakes) I don’t think the bakery was famous outside of Brooklyn since I never heard  it spoken by anyone while growing up in Manhattan. Most likely,  if not for Aunt Ginny, the NPR account would have only elicited “huh?” from me. But instead I find myself in the living room on the first floor of the two family home where my grandfather and my two aunts lived.   My brother Jim and I are anticipating being called into the narrow mahogany dining room, dominated by a long rectangle of a table, six high-backed chairs, and a sideboard. Finally it comes.  “Time for dinner.”

Ever since my grandmother  had passed away in 1960, my mother’s youngest sister,  Aunt Ginny had assumed the role of hostess whenever we came to visit, we being me, my parents, and my two younger brothers. Whereas I recall my grandmother’s meals as being gravy-drenched and over-cooked, especially the canned spinach, my Aunt Ginny’s dinners were definitely worth the hour and a half drive all the way from Harlem in northern Manhattan,  through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel at the tip of Lower Manhattan and then all the way through Brooklyn, the largest of the five boroughs to Bay Ridge . If you saw Saturday Night Fever – you’ve witnessed Bay Ridge. In fact the disco where John Travolta danced his signature solo was just a couple of blocks away and like Grandpa’s two-story two family  house, also situated on  Fourth Avenue . But disco wouldn’t arrive for another 13 years so it was still the neighborhood movie house,  The Harbor.

What was so special about Aunt Ginny’s cooking was that she didn’t!  Aunt Ginny was what in those days was known as a career woman. She worked at the New York Times and knew not a thing about cooking, nor do I think she cared to. But she knew her way around a deli and a bakery, and she aimed to please. My brother Jim loved ham and potato salad so there would be a platter of cold cuts  on the table with carefully rolled slices of not only ham, but salami, turkey, and roast beef, as well as heaping bowls of potato salad, cole slaw, and macaroni salad. As for my eating pleasure, I kept my eye on the Ebinger’s Box perched on the sideboard, 99.9% sure that when  opened it would reveal a Fudge Mary Ann,  resplendent in all its smooth chocolate icing, layers of yellow cake, and sumptuous  butter cream.

Which brings me back to my car in 2014 where this woman on the radio is rambling on about how hard it was to replicate this landmark Ebinger’s cake, the confection they were known for. So I’m waiting and waiting for her to string together  those three glorious words  – Fudge and Mary and Ann. That’s when she says Blackout Cake. And I say, “say wha?  She goes on describing it, a dark chocolate cake, with dark chocolate frosting and dark chocolate crumbs sprinkled on top, so named for the mandatory black out periods imposed during World War II.

But back to Brooklyn, finally the meal is finished and  already stuffed, I proceed to top it off with a piece of ….yes,  Fudge Mary Ann,  or maybe it was two pieces. We then retire back to the living room where Jim and I are certain we’re going to burst and die. I swear to never eat that much again…….But I do,the next time and the time after that, until I went off to college. By the time I graduated, Grandpa had died and Aunt Ginny sold the house and moved to an apartment, an apartment with no room for a mahogany dining room set. And so like so many other fond memories, Fudge Mary Ann faded away to nothingness until…….

Back in my own living room in the Google Age I decide to resurrect it . Aha, first off, I find thisi

Ebinger Baking Company, with a chain of stores across the borough, was founded in Flatbush in 1898 by George and Catherine Ebinger. Famous for their cakes and pies, and especially their Blackout Cake, they closed in bankruptcy on August 26, 1972, “going the way of the Navy Yard, the Dodgers, and Luna Park”, said the New York Times.

Their what? Their blackout cake?!?!? Not one mention of Fudge Mary Ann? I don’t give up that easily. I march into Google Images and type in Ebinger’s Fudge Mary Ann cake. But instead I’m shown pictures like these.

 

A blackout cake

A blackout cake

 

 

I scan through rows and rows of cakes until I’m cross-eyed.

 

Hmm, is this what Fudge Mary Ann looked like?

 

Is this what Mary Ann looked like

 No, not fancy enough

 

 

 

 

Or maybe this is her, she may have had slices almonds

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No, maybe not

 

Gradually I come to realize I have no idea what she looked like but I sure remember how that scrumptious cake tasted………or do I?

Hmm, what did it taste like?

A horrifying thought crosses my mind.  What if I’m the only one left in the world who remembers Fudge Mary Ann, but I don’t? Does that mean she never existed? Kind of like that tree falling in the forest. How depressing. If only I’d been listening to the classic rock station instead of NPR!