True stories with a twist!

Yes, I understand that we are lucky to be healthy and safe at home. And of course I am grateful to have no symptoms of any disease, and beyond happy that all our children and their families are healthy as well.

OK, but now what?

We are obeying the advice about social isolation, so our options are not great.

So when Harvey said, “Let’s get out of the house for a while,” I practically smothered him with enthusiasm. 

The destination was not to be any place spectacular, but even doing the smallest, simplest something would be special. And we won’t have to hear the word “Pandemic” for a while. 

And so we found ourselves at a large outdoor nursery at the best time of year: spring expectation time. The pallets that would be filled with spring bulbs and new plants and endless enthusiasm were about to come to life.

And so were we.

We walked around the empty grounds that would soon be filled with eager gardeners planning their 2020 spring plantings. 

Planning gardens are joy producing. Because planning brings the expectation that such happiness would be ours again some day. These frightening days would be behind us and we will once again have the expectation of taking good health for granted.

After hiking through the empty outdoor display areas, we decided to check out the indoor space for supplies that we’ll need in just a few weeks to get our garden growing. Fertilizers, potting soil, garden stakes , and other garden necessities.

And then I saw a small planter. It sat on a back shelf at eye level. It was unusual, and was the  only one like it in the entire store. It was an oddball piece that I found myself looking at over and over again. I really didn’t need a small planter and had no plant in mind to put into it, but it had a charm that I found captivating.

So we bought it.

It is still blustery outdoors, and fears still grow about the Coronavirus pandemic, but I look at the little treasure of ours and picture it filled with tulips and other joyful flowers of spring. Then I think that there will be a day, hopefully in the near future, when we will be able to enjoy spring, flowers, and the warmth of the sun on our winter bedraggled bodies.

Her name is Sue and she is my hairdresser. She’s the gal who has taken on the responsibility for keeping my hair manageable, workable and comb-able. 

Hairdresser-Header.jpgGone are the days of my teen years, when hairdressers in beauty salons I ventured into would say to each other, “You take her.” To be met with the frustrated response,“No, you take her!” That was because my hair was long and so thick that it took as much time to cut and dry as it would take to manage two other clients. And time means money; more clients mean more tips! So they would fight over the right to turn down the golden opportunity to manage my hair. Sue works her magic with the help of a pair of special scissors that thin the hair, make it more manageable, and allow it to dry faster. She knows how to do it so that little pieces of short spiky strands of hair don’t stick straight up in the air!

One day I received a call from the salon asking me to switch my appointment from Thursday to Friday. I was able to accommodate the request, and when I came in for my appointment I asked if she was alright. Sue knew that I really wanted to know was why I had to change my appointment, and not because of any driving concerns about her health. 

And that is when she revealed the surprise about her secret life!

On the days that she does not style hair she travels into New York and works as an “extra” for television shows. Those days have exposed her to a whole other lifestyle and way of living. She sometimes must leave for the city at 5:30 in the morning to be on the set when filming begins. 

Sue has to go to the makeup people to achieve the proper look for the role she is assuming, even though she has no lines to speak. She has to look the part. She is told what outfit to wear: Today she might need a business suit: next time a cocktail dress.

And she appears in the scenes silently. If she delivered even one spoken line she would be considered an actor instead an “extra”and have to join the actor’s union.

Sometimes she simply walks toward the camera man without appearing to notice him. It is important to look natural and not look as if she ’s posing for the camera. She interacts with other actors and responds to something another “extra” is saying, all in pantomime.

Sue is thinking ahead to the day next year that her youngest child will leave for college, leaving her an empty nester. Working in film adds additional income as well as a new interest. She has met other women working as “extras” for the same reason: they needed a new involvement.

“Do you ever dream of being “discovered?” I ask. Sue gives me a look of total astonishment, as if the idea never occurred to her. She denies that this fantasy ever entered her mind. But I must remember that she is learning the art of acting!

Just in case she ever becomes the new Meryl Streep,( who lives in Bernardsville, a town near Morristown) I wish her great success in film. But I hope she will still find time to cut my hair every six weeks!Hairdresser-Header

My dear friend in fifth grade, whose name I no longer remember, proposed the deep philosophical question to me “Do you live to eat or eat to live?”

I never thought of it before; eating was just a natural thing to do, and luckily I never had to worry about eating to live. It’s just something we did three times a day, with frequent snacks in between, depending on mood or what happened to pass my way. Not much that passed my way passed me by, so I pass on that question. 

UnknownPassing by a kitchen cabinet, reaching in and grabbing a cookie, piece of dried fruit or handful of mixed salted nuts was normal and not thought about. Or grabbing a tablespoon of peanut butter and eat it all by itself: bread or not, depending on your level of hunger or time frame. 

Never a thought to calorie count or vitamin intake. No thoughts of fats, hydrogenated oils or chemical additives. 

No fears about whether skirt buttons would be button-able the next morning.

Eating was just a fun thing to do; no deep thoughts were ever involved in the process.

But our society has now created a monster. Some people won’t eat a single morsel of food without checking its ingredients, names of preservatives or pedigree of additives. They need to know the documentation and derivation belonging to every edible before them. 

When I think about my diet back in the 50s I am shocked that I ever:

  1. Grew to a normal height
  2. Am able to function in polite society
  3. Have no recognizable physical malformations.

If I knew then what I know now about nutrition I would have eaten different but far less enjoyable meals. 

I might never have feasted on the fabulously sweet snacks of cotton candy that were a signature of state fairs. I might have turned my back on those glorious barbecued hot dogs with mustard and sauerkraut that defined summer picnics, and I might not have swilled all those sugary, icy drinks that made summer heat bearable. 

And I haven’t even started to describe all the amazing meals that came along with winter and cold weather. But you might not approve, so let’s just leave the subject to your imagination and fill in the blanks with your own wintery treats!

You cannot unlearn what you already know. Sometimes I wish that I didn’t know as much as I do, because life was much more pleasant when I chose what I was in the mood to eat and not what foods have the highest levels of Calcium, or Vitamin B, or are the lowest in Carbs or Cholesterol.

So Happy Valentine’s Day, and enjoy those Chocolates; but remember that the dark chocolate is better for you if the cocoa content is at least 72 percent!

Just sayin…

We saw a performance by a group called “The CAPITOL STEPS” a coupled of weeks ago. They are a political satire group from Washington, DC.

images-4.jpegSo when it came time for me to give a speech at my husband’s birthday party I decided to borrow their style and speak their language. Their language was interchanging first consonants of words: Donald Trump became “Tronald Dump.” The results of my speech were as follows:

I was yineteen nears old when I het Marvey. Wose were the ways den tobody nook time out to “Thind temselves, or sake semesters abroad.

Ho Sarvey straduated crom Fornell and went straight to Yew Work Cedical Mollege. We mot garried the dext nay, and left for his Binternship in Altimore.

The The Stunited Atets Tharmy aught he should spend yoo tears curving his sountry during the Vietnam War. Stee was hationed at Pest Woint Military Macademy.

The speech went on to describe how the family grew, as I went through each person’s name, cheerful bungling each one and bringing lots of laughter to the family that was assembled that night. The evening was funny, original and clever.

Harvey’s brother, Stuart, made up a multiple choice test about the early years, asking questions like how he and I met, where he would rather be right now, and what cars he has driven over the years.

The highlight was the video show that our son-in-law, Steve, put together of times through the years, accompanied by a chorus of our children and grandchildren singing the words to the song they wrote about their father/grandfather. It went to the tune of, ”UNDER THE SEA,” FROM DISNEY’S “THE LITTLE MERMAID” and was about his hobbies of raising salt water fish, growing Bonsai Trees and collecting Miniature Toy Soldiers. One grandson read a poem that my brother wrote about a hermit crab that he found on the beach the day he and Harvey met.

Its was a wonderful evening, filled with fond memories and spoofy moments that kept the evening light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once in a while, when the children were young, my husband would venture out, be helpful and buy some groceries. Such a sweet and welcome treat for me, saving me from my usual tedious grocery store run.

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This errand of his was a favorite in the annals of our children’s memories. It didn’t matter that shopping for groceries was a task that I managed several times a week, every week, every month, and onward through the years. My version of food shopping was no treat for the children and there was no joy in my returning home with bags of groceries. All I bought was assumedly boring and healthy stuff to eat.

But when Dad went shopping it was an occasion that was memorable. His grocery bags were filled with curious boxes, jars, shapes and smells. And surprises like chocolate covered Cheerios and Honey Glazed breakfast cereals. 

“When does Mom ever buy us those yummy cinnamon sugar buns for breakfast?” Says my son.

“When do we get to eat stuff in the little plastic boxes filled with fresh figs, or other weird fruits?” Adds his sister.

“How do you eat a star fruit?” Asks youngest daughter.

We have no idea how to eat it, but those star fruits are surely pretty. Dad doesn’t know what to do with them either, but he bought some for us. And those Israeli fruits; persimmons called the Sharon fruit; they are usually too hard and unripe or the other extreme, mushy and soft; neither form that is palatable. But they are unusual and Dad scoops some up to bring home to us.

Dad fills his cart with yummy, crunchy salty things like crisps and chips and all kinds of munchies. We are in heaven!

The sweet things Dad brings us are just as amazing. Those terrific round chocolate cookies with the marshmallow insides and cookie bottoms; are bliss inducing. And they’re never available in summer time because the chocolate would melt and nobody would want to buy a box of goopy, melty cookies that leave messes everywhere. 

So we rejoice when Dad brings groceries home. And not until all the bags are unloaded do we wonder what’s for dinner.

Although Dad just went shopping, we discover that there is not one single thing he brought home from the grocery store that has any relation to something that could appear on a dinner plate. 

But we all agree that a regular, normal dinner is not so great, as long as skipping it happens only once in a while.

We all still love it when Dad goes shopping.

MY FIRST CAR

 

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It was finally time that I had my own means of transportation, and Mom and Dad generously gave me the joyful gift of my own car. My parents made the decisions and choices, and that is how I wound up with a stick shift little Red Renault Dauphine. It was a step or two away from a toy car.

It was adorable; a car with fun features: the most notable one being its twin horns. Push the lever up, and the car made a high pitched “beep, beep,” and push it down and the horn , in a grown up low register sound, said, “beep beep.”

When one Renault passed another on the road we would greet each other; the first car beeped in the high pitched beep and the passing responder beeped back in the lower pitch. What fun that was: instant connections with strangers!

The car had all of a seventeen horsepower, four cylinder engine. It couldn’t go too fast, which was a built in safety feature that my parents no doubt took into account when they chose this little car for me.

It was said that the car’s finish wasn’t of the highest quality. Time magazine wrote an article about the Renault in which it sarcastically mentioned, “It could actually be heard rusting!”

The company was formed by Louis Renault in the late 1940s. By the 1950s it became a new sensation; foreign cars were new in the United States. Renault became a novelty that people wanted to know more about. The cars were reasonably priced and suited city drivers very comfortably. They were easy to park, needed very little space, and rewarded Renault drivers with good mileage. 

A strong memory that I have is of a repair that was needed. The problem occurred when I was parked next to a truck delivering cases of soda. One case slipped off the truck and landed on top of my little car. Nobody was hurt, but the dent the case of soda left was enormous. We all thought that the repair bill would be huge. Maybe they would have to replace the roof with a brand new one to replace the dented one.

We drove to the nearest bodyshop to get an estimate, expecting the worse. Imagine our surprise when the car mechanic took a look at the damage and immediately went inside of the station. He proceeded directly to the Men’s room and came out a second later holding a plumber’s plunger. Then he put the plunger on top of the enormous dent and pulled it right out with the plunger. The car was as good as new, although seeing how easily the car’s finish could be rearranged was a bit of a surprise, making us a little less confident about our safety driving in that little vehicle.

The sad end of my story of the Renault Dauphine was the one of the man who took over the company from the founder, Louis Renault. Pierre Lefaucheux, the new head of the company, was killed in a Renault Dauphine when the model he was driving turned over on a sharp curve in the road. A large carton in the back seat careened forward to the front of the car and smacked him in the head. And that was Au Revoir for Monsieur Lefaucheux.

They said that soprano and bass toned beeping sounds could be heard across the country in tribute.

It was adorable; a car with fun features: the most notable one being its twin horns. Push the lever up, and the car made a high pitched “beep, beep,” and push it down and the horn , in a grown up low register sound, said, “beep beep.”

When one Renault passed another on the road we would greet each other; the first car beeped in the high pitched beep and the passing responder beeped back in the lower pitch. What fun that was: instant connections with strangers!

The car had all of a seventeen horsepower, four cylinder engine. It couldn’t go too fast, which was a built in safety feature that my parents no doubt took into account when they chose this little car for me.

It was said that the car’s finish wasn’t of the highest quality. Time magazine wrote an article about the Renault in which it sarcastically mentioned, “It could actually be heard rusting!”

The company was formed by Louis Renault in the late 1940s. By the 1950s it became a new sensation; foreign cars were new in the United States. Renault became a novelty that people wanted to know more about. The cars were reasonably priced and suited city drivers very comfortably. They were easy to park, needed very little space, and rewarded Renault drivers with good mileage. 

A strong memory that I have is of a repair that was needed. The problem occurred when I was parked next to a truck delivering cases of soda. One case slipped off the truck and landed on top of my little car. Nobody was hurt, but the dent the case of soda left was enormous. We all thought that the repair bill would be huge. Maybe they would have to replace the roof with a brand new one to replace the dented one.

We drove to the nearest bodyshop to get an estimate, expecting the worse. Imagine our surprise when the car mechanic took a look at the damage and immediately went inside of the station. He proceeded directly to the Men’s room and came out a second later holding a plumber’s plunger. Then he put the plunger on top of the enormous dent and pulled it right out with the plunger. The car was as good as new, although seeing how easily the car’s finish could be rearranged was a bit of a surprise, making us a little less confident about our safety driving in that little vehicle.

The sad end of my story of the Renault Dauphine was the one of the man who took over the company from the founder, Louis Renault. Pierre Lefaucheux, the new head of the company, was killed in a Renault Dauphine when the model he was driving turned over on a sharp curve in the road. A large carton in the back seat careened forward to the front of the car and smacked him in the head. And that was Au Revoir for Monsieur Lefaucheux.

They said that soprano and bass toned beeping sounds could be heard across the country in tribute.

On a weekend day with no specific plans we decided to take a drive through our old neighborhood.

It was ten years ago that we lived there. We stayed in that neighborhood for thirty-one years, raised our three children, and then did what the vernacular refers to as “downsizing.” 

As we drove through the old neighborhood I was struck by the number of memories that swept through my mind just by looking at houses we passed. 

Here’s our old house; and there’s the field with the apple trees. Remember all the years we hosted apple picking parties? Friends were so delighted to grab the paper shopping bags we distributed and pick apples from our trees, which produced several different varieties. The apples were smaller than commercially grown ones, but the varieties we grew were a mystery. The trees were already in place when we bought the house, and we never thought to ask the previous owners to identify them.

I fondly remember the screened in porch, and eating summer meals out there surrounded by stately hemlock trees.The trees blocked out the sound of cars passing on the road in front of the house and offered shade to our private, peaceful place.

The hills on the property provided wonderful sledding grounds for the children in snowy weather. And our Old English Sheepdogs loved snow frolicking along with the children. 

Thresholds of the family room in our house reveal signs of the puppy-teething stages of the dogs that we raised here.

The pool provided many afternoons of summer relaxation and a destination for class parties at the end of school semesters. 

Goose Bumps! I still feel horrified when we come to this intersection. This is where that terrible car accident happened one snowy winter day many years ago. Dr. Lassiter’s brother was killed in that crash. That part of the road had a brutal curve, and speeding there on slippery nights led to several serious accidents. 

Further down the road was the Little Red Schoolhouse. I still images.jpegcan’t believe that many years ago, all the children in the neighborhood learned their lessons in that one room school. It amazes me to think that one teacher taught children from ages six to seventeen in one single room. She must have been incredibly organized and very patient. Those were the days of the American Revolution; the neighborhood is called “Washington Valley” and is proud of its history, including that Little Red Schoolhouse.

About a half mile from the schoolhouse on Washington Valley Road is The Seeing Eye; an institute dedicated to helping the blind. The Seeing Eye trains puppies to become lead dogs for the blind. Handicapped people from around the country and around the world stay at the Seeing Eye while training to work with their prospective seeing-eye dogs. Throughout Morristown every day are trainers teaching blind clients to learn managing dogs that the cli will be counting on to lead them safely as they walk through the streets.

The Seeing Eye is a source of great pride in the community. People who would like to own a pet can apply for a dog that is trained but not accepted into the program. There is a five year wait list to receive one of those professionally trained dogs.

The corner house belonged to a lovely family: in fact, they were the first ones to invite us to their home when we were new to the neighborhood. Then a bitter divorce destroyed and disassembled them. Their sons went on to open a group of famous restaurants called “Blue Hill,” that was reviewed by many restaurant reviewers, and was universally praised. A cook book followed, and their reputation was sealed. The patriarch of the family, when he became ill with Parkinson’s Disease, requested that at his funeral, his sons host a celebration of his life, complete with food from their restaurants, jazz music, and joy to celebrate his life: a life well lived. 

Then we drove by the house across the street from our old house that earned headlines in newspapers because of a tragic crime committed there. Sidney Reso, the vice president of Exxon who headed Exxon operations outside North America, was kidnapped from his home and driven to the secluded Pine Barrens while the kidnappers awaited their ransom demand of $18.5 million dollars. I turn cold as I remember FBI agents ringing our doorbell, asking questions that might lead to the kidnappers. Mr. Reso died out there, alone in the Pine Barrens. The husband/wife team who kidnapped him are each serving life sentences. 

Driving through the old neighborhood and remembering both the happy times and the sad ones, made me realize that all throughout life we experience both uplifting and heartbreaking times. The Chinese Yin and Yang principle: good and evil; happiness and tears; youth and old age, are principles that we live with through time. We must be conscious of these elements of life; cherish the good times and be strong through difficult ones. It has always been true, and will likely always remain that way.

So I wish you all Good Times and a Glorious 2020!

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