Tuesday, December 29, 2009

yule be glad you did

Wrapping paper, food and everything eggnog. Now that the end of the year is quickly approaching the endless lists appear to close out the year, and at the end of this week, a decade. No one seems to have coined the right catch phrase for the last ten years yet. Think of what has changed since the ball dropped in Times Square and people waited for the year 2000 to cause mayhem with computers and ATMs. People horded food and money in anticipation for Y2K to cripple systems that wouldn't recognize a year that did not begin with '19.'

What did the word google mean in 2000? It certainly didn't earn a capital letter yet. 'Text' referred to words in a book and not something that could fatally damage a relationship. I and M were two letters that only appeared together with an apostrophe sandwiched between them and not yet another way to stay in constant contact with someone. Now try this. Google the word kindle and see what you get. Not the definition of a word that involves emotion but an electronic device to read without the hassle of an actual book. Advancements? Depends on who you ask.

I have a picture of a group of friends who came over for the first season finale of American Idol in May 2002. We had wine and panini and a huge tossed salad with the first bit of lettuce from the garden. There were different opinions on who we thought would win and if we could have put our younger selves through such intense scrutiny as entertainment. The picture was taken with a camera that had film that was developed at the drop-off kiosk at Costco that disappeared several years ago when I looked to develop my latest rolls and was informed by some surly woman that "everyone uses digital cameras now." I wrote on the back of the picture 'Sam, Di and me watching American Idol.' Apparently, I had the forethought to scribble 'reality tv' in parentheses because I might not remember what the genre was. Now the television listings are filled with anyone willing to let the cameras roll and capture the range of behavior for their fifteen minutes of fame. A father in Colorado led the local police to believe that his son was accidentally carried away in a balloon in the hope of recharging the family's chance at a reality show and a lovely looking woman in a sari, along with her husband, crashed a White House dinner. Why? She was being considered for 'The Real Housewives of DC.' At this rate kids are probably going to question Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny earlier in childhood because none of these characters have their own reality shows so they can't be 'real.' "Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. Did you catch his show last week when Mariah Carey visited him in the North Pole and let everyone know when her new album would drop?" Take a trip back through the last ten years. Think back to when the Food Network had food and MTV had music. Really.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

tell tale squirrel

I am paranoid every time the tree branches scrape against the window. The reason is because I had not one, but two crafty squirrels find their way into the house last month. I was standing at the kitchen sink watering and pruning some plants when I heard scratching noises which seemed to be coming from inside the wall. I shut the water off and stood there following the sound as it made its way further along what seemed like an endless Habitrail in my moss colored walls. I was trying to figure out if I was indeed hearing what I thought was an animal tunneling through the walls of the kitchen when the dog wandered in and tilted his head to one side. Then he reared up on his back legs and let out a bark like only a seventy five pound mutt can give when protecting his damsel in distress. That's my boy. Once the husband was home there were no noises anymore and he tried to reassure me by selling the 'it was probably the trees against the window' story but my faithful friend and I knew better. That night and the following morning I kept thinking that I was periodically hearing the scamper of something in the walls. Edgar Allen Poe couldn't have crafted the scene any better.

Calling exterminators was like trying to close a real estate deal. "We will come at night but you'll have to pay double." "We'll set a trap but no one can come to check it until Monday" because my squirrel showed up on Friday. "We'll come if it is in the attic but not a wall." One of the exterminators nonchalantly suggested simply taking down the wall.

The next day Alvin the chipmunk, or whoever was in there, was back and now it sounded like it was actually in the cabinets. Or maybe it spent the night and was just now making a late start to the morning. Either way it was 'check out' time.

I woke up the dog who was curled up in his favorite barrel chair and got him to reluctantly come with me to the other side of the house. He was curled up in a room adjacent to the dining room and kitchen and this had the potential, after chasing many a squirrel up a tree in the yard, to be the one that didn't get away. I closed the wooden and glass paned door to the dining room and placed the call to the husband at work to get the ball rolling with the exterminator and he assured me once again that there was no way this persistent critter was going to get into the house. As he spoke I got to see who was making all the racket as a squirrel appeared to look through the glass paneled door. It took one look at me and then frantically started to dart about the dining room. This is when it pays off to have nice neighbors as I got mine to stop raking leaves and come and help me show this bushy tailed intruder the door.

Squirrel number two came in through a hole in the drain pipe above the windows in the den. Fortunately, when he was out gathering nuts we were able to plug the hole and we have not heard any more suspect scratching. As I rounded our corner in the car yesterday I passed a squirrel who never made it to the other side of the street. I wonder if it was one of the guests in the walls? Well, he won't be going anywhere now. The complete opposite series of events of an Edgar Allen Poe classic.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

if i don't see you have a great holiday

'Tis the season for the ubiquitous 'hey, if I don't see you have a great holiday.' There are some people that I want to point out the fact that we both know we won't see each other again before the holidays so let's go ahead and commit to the good wishes here and now. Holiday decorations can reflect much about the resident dwellers. Some people favor simple boughs of greens and some haul out the holly and then some for the biggest and brightest display they can pull together. There is a mammoth house on my route home that had a truck of workers milling about taking Christmas decorations bigger than the workers themselves down a wooden ramp on the back of a delivery truck last week. There were displays of lights being strung in tall pine trees, dancing ballerinas twirling on their bases, battery operated figures skating and a sled that could easily accommodate the portliest of Santas. There's no place like home for the holidays and the bill for the workers to create the festival of decorations outside. I pulled in the driveway and I could hear my dog barking at my neighbor who was on his roof hanging sparkling lights from the porch with his aluminum ladder leaning against the house. Just the way it ought to be.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

eye of the tiger

The file for 'you can't make this stuff up' just got another entry. It does the work for you. Tiger Woods' clean living image was forever tarnished when word of the dreaded 'other woman' surfaced after his wife's heroic attempts to extricate her husband from the driver's seat of his crumpled SUV by smashing the back window of the vehicle with one of his golf clubs. Before you could say 'fore' the affair to remember became something else all together with the 19th letter of the alphabet. "Affair' became 'affairs'. Plural. Millions of dollars from NIKE rode on Mr Woods' perceived perfect image and their three word slogan of Just Do It. He certainly lived up to that part of the contract. Maybe a better slogan for the kids would be Just Do It; Or Not.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

fork in the road and the stuffing

Another Thanksgiving come and gone. It is a holiday I enjoy because it is simply about taking a moment and giving thanks for who you are with and what you have. It is an idea that everyone might benefit from more than once a year. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade is the official kick off of the holiday season and the day can be drastically different from one year to the next. One year the parade participants are bundled in layers to fight the biting chill and the next year they almost have to fake being cold on the floats dressed in hats and scarves sailing down the parade route and balmy breezes.
The parade took a turn this year and headed down Seventh Avenue instead of Broadway. It had something to do with the balloons and the handlers. All the characters seemed to do well all these years minus one unfortunate year with the Cat and the Hat and a lamppost gone wrong. But time marches on and I noticed that one of the teeny bopper boy band heart throbs was texting as his float passed by. These times they are 'a changing.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sesame Street's number of the day is the big 40

Sesame Street was a favorite of mine as a child. Now, I read that the original street has had some subtle makeovers of the residents and their dwellings. Over the years, Oscar apparently received a citation or two and had to clean up his garbage can act and Cookie realized the dreaded food police were onto his food pyramid and its lopsided leanings to all things bakery related. Talk about taking the wind out of someone's sails. He's the Cookie Monster. If I could, I would tell him about the article I read about Mr Mayor of NYC and his mission to rid every adult of their individual decision to indulge in trans fats or not. It seems that the king himself has some of the worst dietary habits and likes to put salt on his saltine crackers according to the always available to quote 'unidentified staffer.' It seems that Sesame has struggled to keep their foothold in children's interests in order to keep up with the Joneses. You know the Joneses. They're the ones who never have dirty garbage cans and treat cookies for their children like contraban. Next, Bert and Ernie get seperate places and the next character introduced on the street is Cougar Cathy.

Friday, November 20, 2009

turkey lurkey

The dog and I spent some quality time in the park this morning since we have been given the gift of another unseasonably warm day. The rain pounded the windows in the den last night and the constant droan of the ships' horns in the harbor started to make it diffucult to hear the dialogue of a movie I was watching. A storm like that makes you savor such a clear morning that much more. Some people dress to the calendar I guess. We passed a woman in an anorak, hat and gloves. Is she not experiencing the same morning the rest of us are? This time next week people will be walking off their turkey feasts or waking to the bugle to celebrate the true meaning of the holiday season. Scoring the best deal on a flat screen t.v. One radio station became all Christmas music all the time today. Slow down, you move too fast.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

facebook 'friend' farce

Here's another entry for the 'you just can't make this stuff up.' It is a clear Autumn afternoon in the park with the season's brightly colored leaves floating down on warm breezes. I am speaking to a couple about a recent gathering I attended. We realize that there is a person I had a conversation with at this function who knew these people before they were a couple. The wife mentions the woman that I had spoken with and says that she is this woman's 'Facebook friend.' "Really?" says the husband and asks about her life. The wife eagerly shares all of this woman's information about her husband, children, where she lives and on and on. She tells her husband that she has, in turn, filled this woman in on all their personal family information.

As fate is known to do, a few minutes later the woman from the event happens upon the scene and we are all in each other's little corner of the world. I bring the women together and say nothing more than 'look who is here.' They look at each other,confused and then me. After what seems the right amount of time and puzzlement I say their names and introduce the 'Facebook friends' to each other in a park in the light of day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


It is Veteran's Day. A salute to those who have served us and those who are doing so now. It is my sincere hope that all the parents who didn't send their children to school last week so that they could take the kids to the parade for the World Series Yankees take advantage of a school holiday and return to the 'canyon of heroes' today to honor the veterans. They are most likely hitting the sales at Macy's though. The kids saw 'history being made' with the World Series champions last week.

Monday, November 9, 2009

brotherly love

Filed under you just can't make this stuff up.

A mother is having a casual conversation with another mother as two small children, pacifiers firmly in place, start playing the hand challenge. Poke. Poke back. Poke again. The action escalates into a shove from one boy and the other goes down. Mom does a triple take and now is aware of what is going on. She takes both boys by an arm and brings them face to binky face for the required negotiations. Hunched over, she demands from the pusher the following:

'Did you push your brother? Did you? Did you push him? Say you're sorry. We don't push. Say you're sorry. Do you hear me? Say it. Tell your brother you're sorry. Now. Say you're sorry or you're going to get a smack!'

See what I mean?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

moving in and moving on

Ah, Mother Nature. She never lets us become complacent. Just when we think we have her all figured out she surprises us with what we don't expect. I had given in to the cooler forces that blew through a few days ago and then it all changed to a relaxed warmth that embraced once again. It took me back to the day we moved into our house and filled it with what reflects who we are and made a house a home. The moving truck backed in our driveway with the slant of a November sun and the leaves crunching at our feet. It was a day of importance coupled with something as mundane as carrying boxes and potted plants. All I wanted at the end of that day was an outlet to plug in a tv to tell us who the leader of the country would be. That evening I realized that perhaps I may have hung out with a guy named Chad, no not really, we would all learn the meaning of a 'hanging chad.' November 7, 2000.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Montauk daisy and feeling lazy

The first real gust of air blew off the water when I was walking through the local cultural center this morning. That first blast that says it is really time to face the cold season that is rolling in. The magnolia tree is laughing at us and our never ending quest to clean up its leaves. The rake is barely put away, the groan of the garage door closing and those leaves start to trickle down to the empty patch we have just cleared. It has been a crazy growing season. The Christmas cactus, who took their usual summer respite on the back porch, are in full bloom and Thanksgiving has yet to happen. The morning glory vine on the lamppost that I nurtured from seed did nothing this summer. Now it has grabbed hold of the bare dogwood branches above it and it is sending forth bell like blossoms of periwinkle. The Montauk daisy which peaks when every thing else has finished for the season is always a wonder at this time of year. It stands strong among all the discarded leaves around it. This was a long week. I need to be more like the Montauk daisy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


When did Halloween become such a celebratory holiday? Sure, there have always been some people who are more into the festivities of all that is spooky than others. But adults wishing a Happy Halloween to each other with no children around? Orange strings of lights twinkling on bushes as kids run from one house to the next. We never had them. Then again, I never thought I would see the day that a kid would reach into his stash and hunt around among the sugary treats to retrieve his ringing cell phone from the bottom of his bag and answer it. But I did.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Cue the orchestra, raise the curtain, I am stepping into the light. Blogging. I have resisted technology as much as I could so far and I will continue to do so. I have no interest in the whole notion of 'social networking' as I don't have the luxury of time to spend with my friends as it is. My generation is becoming so disconnected from personal interaction in the wake of keeping up contacts on the web with people they wouldn't even recognize when reaching for the same gallon of milk in the grocery store. I attended a function recently where so many people were looking at their phones it made me wonder who they couldn't be away from for three hours?

I take pleasure in watching the shifting changes of the magnolia tree in my yard. There are leaves that fall, buds that burst forth in an explosion of vibrant pink in the spring to remind me of what has passed and that time moves on, even when I may not be ready.