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Monthly Archives: October 2011

A Penny A Piece


Today while I was collecting paper napkins from the den, in order to insert them back into the napkin holder resting on the kitchen table, I had a sudden flashback to a much earlier time, and my Grandmother.

Before I relate what the flashback was about, I must tell you why I was gathering napkins from the den. This is my most annoying and almost daily ritual. One I do while stomping and gritting my teeth.

I live with someone who is a paper napkin hoarder. Not any special brand of paper napkins. It could be Scotts, Vanity Fair, Kirkland, or the specialty Holiday napkins. Any brand will do. They might be dinner size, cocktail squares, or threefold as come in a diner holder.

This man who I live with must have a phobia about desperately needing a napkin, and not having one on hand. On most nights we have dinner in the den, therefore the holder, which is always stacked, is not within reach. Dinner napkins are carried in with plates, flatware, and glasses. Some how, probably when I am occupied at the stove, more napkins are secreted into the room. Clean napkins are then hidden behind pillows, under blankets, and in between cushions. I really can’t tell you what drives this hoarding, but it drives me bonkers.

This obsession is carried one step further. Anytime we attend an affair, the following day those monogrammed napkins are on his night stand. Could they be wedding favors and no one told me to take one myself? Why was I left out? As soon as I stumble across these weird mementos, they get tossed in the garbage along with the Wendy’s, Burger King, MacDonald, KFC, napkins. I am sure we will acquire more of those.

All this wasting and hoarding of paper napkins makes me crazy. Not that I have a long way to go, but it truly is one of my button pushers. This brings me back to my Grandma flashback.

When I was growing up money was really tight. What little there was Grandma had in her purse and she held the strings tightly in her worn fists. As you can imagine paper products such as napkins were an expensive luxury. We used linen or a mapine (dish towel). When we did have the paper variety in the house if you took one for anything other than dinner Grandma would take it out of your hand, shake it in front of your face, emphatically, to inform you they were ‘a penny a piece’. I don’t know where she got her figures from, but she said it and I believed her. This from a woman who when you asked her for a stick of gum, which she kept in that same purse, would generously take it out, rip it in half, and give you half. I one time did the same thing to a friend who is the same age as I. This when we were about fifty. He looked at me shocked and said no one had done that to him since his Grandmother.

I am a person who does a lot of silent analyzing of people’s behavior. After some time I’ve concluded that the man I live with grew up in a household which suffered a dearth of paper napkins. Now that he is an adult, has made his way successfully in the world, he feels as if he can have and use all the napkins he wants. I am of another mind.

Myself, I know what makes the world revolve on its axis. No waste. Napkins are, “A Penny A Piece”, my Grandma told me so.

** One hint that ABC news recently gave to help people budget in these tough economic times was to dispense with paper towels as this was something we could do without.

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Posted by on October 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Love/Hate Computers


There is a common saying about boats, “The happiest day of your life is when you get a boat. The second happiest day is when you get rid of it”.  This can also be true of computers.

Don’t get me wrong, I love computers and everything related to this age of information and communication. Right from my first Commodore 64 to the current, PC, laptop, iPhone, iPad.  They have each in turn romanced me, won me.  In return, I have given them my all. 

I’ve made every attempt to learn what makes them tick, to understand the nuance of the workings.  As recompense,  oft-times, I am met with nothing but  confusing signals. Will they be with me for any length of time? Does it pay to pamper an older model, or dump it for something more flashy and up to date? Should I stay involved at all? Like any intense love affair there are times when you wish to trash the whole thing and go back to a simpler way of life.

I have a few of the grown up toys. All of them incompatible. A Blackberry phone, an Apple iPod, a well working Dell PC, that is currently running on Windows XP Pro, a mini Toshiba netbook running on Windows 7, and my iPad, which is another Apple product. Is it no wonder I can’t get these vain, self-centered, prima donnas to gel?

Now I have been seduced by something called, ‘the cloud’. I was so excited when first hearing about it. I downloaded it immediately on the iPad. As I understand it, the purpose of the cloud is to dump your work from any of your systems into this five gig storage center. The magic – you are able to retrieve it from another of your computers, iPad, phone. Oh the joy!!

Having downloaded the app on the iPad, I was informed, by ‘the cloud’ that it must also be downloaded on my PC. No problem———- Attempting this I am informed I must download OS5 on my comp. I tried for quite a while.

The OS5 crawled around my comp for about an hour before telling me, ‘Oh no you have Windows XP, you must have Vista or Windows 7 to install OS5 before you can download ‘the cloud’. “What the F—–”

Being me I immediately ordered Windows 7 online, to upgrade. The cost $217.45, in order for me to be able to use ‘the cloud’.

For three hours it analyzed, it questioned, it processed, it hummed and groaned. My PC sounded like an antiquated, washing machine. I was getting sick to my stomach. Then an innocent looking sign came on the screen. “Sorry you cannot automatically install windows 7 when your operating system is older than Vista. You must download the instructions to custom install.”

I went to the site for the instructions. It informed me I should print them out. I did. It was seventeen pages. The first page said, ‘back up your computer onto an external hard drive because you are bound to lose information and some of your programs won’t be compatible with Windows 7.’ I paraphrase.

Well first, I wondered, do a lot of people keep an external hard drive hanging around just for kicks? By this time I was about six hours into the project, and my blood pressure would have shocked my cardiologist.

I’m not a quitter, and I have worked on my own computer many times, but seventeen pages of instructions made me throw up. The next day I called Microsoft and got my money back. Then I called Best Buy. I spoke to a kind, knowledgable geek.

I’ll cut to the chase, the cost to upgrade would eventually end up being about $500.00. I could buy a new comp for about $900.00. All this for a free app called ‘the cloud’.

My conclusion, I didn’t have ‘the cloud’ yesterday and I won’t have ‘the cloud’ tomorrow.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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White Elephant For Sale


Everyone has heard of Garage Sales, Tag Sales, Swap n Shops, and White Elephant Sales.  The purpose of these advertised and coordinated events is to rid yourself of items that you no longer want. 

Perhaps it’s that conch shell, that is decorated with a Florida Beach scene complete with palm tree as the center piece, hand painted inside.  So hard to clean the dust out of the deep recesses of the shell.  Remember, you just had to have it when trudging from one souvenir shop to another, on a one hundred degree day, during that nineteen ninety-five vacation.  The sun must have boiled your brain.  It was so00 different.  Yeah, that will be a goer!

What about the size six, gold lame` gown, worn for your cousin Louisa’s wedding?  Never mind that you are now a size sixteen.  When was the last time you saw gold lame` at an afternoon wedding.  Let’s disregard Russo’s on the Bay for the sake of this point.  Someone might buy it if you change that $20. price tag to $2.  Halloween is just around the corner.  The neighbor’s kid will don an orange fright wig, pin on the gown, wha la, Trick or Treat.

Swap and Shop is another form of bargain hunting.  This is when you bring all your treasured junk down to the basement of the Church, Synagogue, or Elementary School, and trade it for the treasured junk of the other bargain hunters.  You don’t reduce the amount of clutter in your home, but it someone else’ clutter and you can enjoy it for a time.  Some are wonderous buys.  You’ve heard one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  That is true.  Didn’t you always yearn for a six-foot wooden giraffe to grace the corner of the den?  By the way, you don’t always have to swap your stuff for theirs.  In a swap and shop you can actually pay with cash for that giraffe.

Tag Sales are usually the contents of a home.  Not a bad way to decorate your own house on a shoe string.  People sell their stuff because they are moving out-of-state, downsizing, or a family member has passed on.  The best deals are divorce, tag sales.  Often the prices are low to spite a mate.  Great discounts on golf clubs, or fairly new bedroom sets.

Lets talk White Elephant Sales.  This is an old term, but still used in certain circles.   It is really the same idea as all of the above, but the origin of White Elephant sums up why we, as a society, must use caution.                                        A white elephant in 19th century Thai mural painting

A white elephant is an idiom for a valuable but burdensome possession of which its owner cannot dispose and whose cost (particularly cost of upkeep) is out of proportion to its usefulness or worth. The term derives from the story that the kings of Siam (now Thailand) were accustomed to make a present of one of these animals to courtiers who had rendered themselves obnoxious, in order to ruin the recipient by the cost of its maintenance. In modern usage, it is an object, scheme, business venture, facility, etc., considered to be without use or value.

The term derives from the sacred white elephants kept by Southeast Asian monarchs in Burma, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. To possess a white elephant was regarded (and is still regarded in Thailand and Burma) as a sign that the monarch reigned with justice and power, and that the kingdom was blessed with peace and prosperity. The tradition derives from tales which associate a white elephant with the birth of the Buddha, as his mother was reputed to have dreamed of a white elephant presenting her with a lotus flower, a symbol of wisdom and purity, on the eve of giving birth.  Because the animals were considered sacred and laws protected them from labor, receiving a gift of a white elephant from a monarch was simultaneously both a blessing and a curse: a blessing because the animal was sacred and a sign of the monarch’s favour, and a curse because the animal had to be retained and could not be put to much practical use, but cost a significant amount to maintain.

Next time you go bargain hunting, make sure you don’t bring home a White Elephant.

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Winds of Change


With today’s brilliant sunshine lightening up our world one could be deceived into not noticing the biting gusts harkening the winds of change. Each blow is stripping the autumn array of colors from the towering oaks and gentle maples.

I stood outside and allowed the wind to mess my hair and massage my cheeks. It was dry, cool, wonderful. Wind erased the hold over of last season’s scent of damp moss. Summer blooms are faded, stems are leggy, devoid of tender leaves just waiting for the first frost to permit them their rest.

I am loving these moments of communing with nature. Why did it take me so long to stop and look around at what I have at hand,  given to me for free? I guess I know the answer to my own question.

Winds of change have embraced me.  I am riding high on the invigorating current. The struggles of a beautiful Summer has passed. Time for a warm fire flickering on the hearth, feet up on the recliner, and a drink in hand.  The joys of Autumn.

Thank you for allowing me to wax poetic!

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Growing Up


For those of you who know me personally, as a friend, or casual acquaintance, you just won’t believe that in my younger years I was irreverent,  impatient, driven, intolerant, blunt, hot-tempered, stubborn, cold, and sacrilegious.  Or perhaps reading that you have rolled your eyes at that entire confession. Some might say what’s changed?

Well I am here to tell you, I’ve changed.  This is the softer, kinder me.  Can you imagine?

I had some good qualities that almost balanced the arrogance of youth, but not quite.  I was loyal beyond expectations, honest, loving to those I trusted, and romantic.  I’ve tried to hang on to those qualities even though it is sometimes difficult.  Loyalty has gotten me in trouble more times than I would like to admit.  Standing fast beside someone only to later learn that they were wrong put me in sticky situations more than once.

While I was never unkind, if I thought that someone should know better, no matter what the issue, those not so nice traits (see first paragraph) would quickly surface.  Usually one at a time, but once in a while a tsunami of feelings would wash over me.  My fury would unleash.  The cause of the tidal wave, almost always, was my feelings being hurt.  I was betrayed by someone I trusted and cared about.  That kind of hurt burrows deep.  It took me a long time to get over the betrayal of a friend, and forgiveness was not in the game.  Now I make an attempt to forgive, but sadly I never forget.  How much better for me if I could develop a mild amnesia regarding slights.

I assumed everyone held loyalty and honesty in high regard, another fault of youth.  We create standards and expect others to live up to them.  People were my friend until they showed themselves not to be my friend.  I had a friend criteria.  I imagine everyone does whether it is consciously or not.

There were times, when I was a teen, that my Best Friend Forever, Susan, and I would ease the hurt we bestowed on each other by a good soul cleansing, hair pulling, knock down, fist fight.  We would make up the next day, all forgiven.  Oh if it could only be that easy now!  I doubt I could take or deliver a good punch anymore, but you better believe I would try if provoked.

Today, I am friendly with most, although true friendship must be earned, on both sides.  When friendship is found it’s a wonderful thing, especially in these latter years.  Expectations are more realistic and confidences are saved for the very few.  For others, I play it pretty close to the vest, a strategy which protects from those loosed lipped acquaintances.

The age of my friends span at least fifty years, most south of my own age.  Growing up helped me realize that you can learn from any person, no matter their length of time on this earth.  It also taught me that sharing my own experiences, at times, can smooth the path for someone else.

So I am here to tell you that growing up is not so bad.  Except for those few flash backs to my youth, I don’t grit my teeth as much.  Life is sweeter.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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An Angel Watching Over Me


My father died at the age of forty-one. He was snatched away, while at work, by a massive heart attack, caused by a blood clot that could not pass through his hardened, clogged arteries. I was just thirteen years old at the time.

Although I was pretty young I remember the circumstances of the day as if that sad drama, or perhaps tragedy, had taken place only moments ago. When you kiss someone goodbye in the morning, you rarely expect it to be the last time you will see them on this side of the veil.

February 9th, 1959 had begun as a pretty happy day. My mother treated me to a beauty parlor appointment. I was graduating from the eight grade that coming June and although it was early February, graduation photos were being taken at school the next day. The beautician had even put a rinse in my hair when she heard my hair was being done for a special occasion. It would be shinier than usual for the posed photographs. I couldn’t wait to get home to show my family.

There was quite a bit of noisy buzz reaching me as I climbed the final flight of stairs to the sixth floor apartment. Even though it was really cold the front door was open and all the neighbors were standing around inside. I couldn’t imagine what was going on. The noise abated when I walked in. I went straight to the living room where my mother was sitting in a chair crying. With several of the neighbors watching I took my mother’s hand asking where my grandmother was. Even at that young an age I knew by my mother’s tears, and the crowd in the house, someone had died. Since grandma was the oldest, I assumed something had happened to her.

The words, daddy died, did not register immediately. I remembering not believing her at first. Crying out that someone had lied to her. He was coming home. She told me that police had called and told her over the phone. Co-workers had found him. He dropped dead. Just like that. Losing a parent is never easy, even when it is expected because of illness, but having one stolen without warning as through an accident, or sudden heart attack, suspends reality. It’s just not to be believed.

The circumstance of his death is forever etched in my mind. Hundreds of what ifs play in my head. What if they had today’s technology. What if he could have been saved? How would have my life been different growing up with a father. These and more are questions without answers.

Having a loved one seized from me in such a manner didn’t and doesn’t dictate how I live my life. But I am always conscious that it can happen. While fairly cavalier with my own being, I insist my husband do well visits to the Doctor.

Two weeks ago I set up a cardiologist appointment for life long partner and husband, Jim. He had no symptoms, no pains, and no real reason to go to the Doctor. In fact, he is hardly ever sick and has never been hospitalized in his life. He barely catches colds. Never-the-less, I insisted. What was wrong with having some routine tests just to have a picture of what your heart looks like when it is healthy? Jim appeased me, the cardiologist agreed. Probably just to quell my unspoken fears.

One week later Jim had a quadruple bypass. The surgeon told us that his main artery going to the heart was over ninety percent blocked. Additionally, three lesser arteries needed to be bypassed as well. There would not have been a heart attack, it would have been sudden death.

At this moment, Jim is home and on his way to full recovery.

Some might think that we were some really lucky people. Others might believe in predestination, it wasn’t his time to go. As for me, I know I would no longer be who I am supposed to be without Jim, my life partner. Whoever in the heavens decides these things, blessed me with an angel to watch over me. My angel whispered in my ear to get my honey to the doctor. And so I did!

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Post Season – Another Rain Postponement – Ferdy & Camille


Having mentioned, many times, how much I love watching baseball, particularly the New York Yankees, I won’t go into my love affair with the team.   But today was the first day of the Post Season.  The day when all the stats of one hundred and sixty-two games get thrown out, and the much abbreviated season begins.

The Yankees were scheduled this evening to play the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium.  Eight-thirty was start time.  Although my favorite announcers were not calling the game, it was going to be called by FOX announcers, I was still pumped up for the game.

A friend had called in early afternoon wanting to come over for a visit.  I nicely, but firmly, informed him to arrive about five as the baseball game was beginning at eight pm or so.  He understood perfectly.  I wanted no distractions.  He came, we chit chatted, and like the gentleman he could be, left before I started checking my clock.

Eight-thirty arrives, CC is on the mound, we get two outs in the bottom of the second, the score is tied at one – one, and the skies continually torture the players, first with light rain, down pour, then easing up for a bit.  Now its raining the torrents of hell.  Noah didn’t see any more rain than this in his first hours on the ark.  After about an hour and fifteen minute rain delay, Joe Torre made the dreaded decision to postpone the game.  They would resume the next day.

During this wait, prior to the decision having been reached,  I remembered that a very long time ago, during a rain delay, they would entertain viewers with old Charlie Chan movies, (probably politically incorrect today), or Laurel and Hardy flicks, (some really funny stuff, and if you don’t know who Laurel and Hardy are you probably won’t get what this specific blog is about), or Abbot and Costello classics,  (not the tv shows but their full length movies that ran just over an hour.)

One of my all time favorites was, ‘Hold That Ghost‘, (1941, several years before I was born).  Joining Bud and Lou in this very funny movie was an incredible comedian by the name of Joan Davis, and straight man, Richard Carlson, (who later went on to play the lead in a television hit, ‘I led three lives’.

I won’t give you a blow-by-blow of the entire movie, but a piece of the funniest scene that would have me laughing my brains out, every time I saw it. 

A party of individuals are all in an old mansion searching for stashed away money.  Without a doubt the mansion is haunted.  At some point Ferdy (Lou Costello) and Camille (Joan Davis) are told to wait for the others, who are searching the house.  They are seated at a table in a vast room where candles keep moving around without being touched, and only seen by Ferdy.

Emphasizing how eerie the house was, the scene set up is a dark stormy night, with loud claps of thunder,  making the two, Ferdy and Camille, shiver with fright.   Since it was an old mansion, the roof leaked.   Due to the leak, a huge puddle formed in the middle of the room.  Ferdy and Camille have a slight attraction to one another.  Somehow they are standing facing each other on either side of this puddle.  He says something she finds cute.  Camille bends her tall, lean, body, at the waist, playfully sprinkling up drops of water, to land on Ferdy.

You can surely see by the expression on his face, he doesn’t quite know how to take this.  As round as he is tall, Camille topping Ferdy by several inches, he bounds down to splash his lady-love with a handful of water.  I’m not going to give you a transcript of the action, however, their playful expressions of love turns into a full-fledged water fight, in the house, fueled by a big water puddle.  It is soooooo funny.

So, rather than bore their audience with re-runs of good baseball plays that we have seen about one hundred times, now that it is the end of the 2011 season,  let’s have some classic, fun, films, that never grow old. 

On second thought,  nevermind, I’ll just play them in my head, and tell you about them.

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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