Winds of Worry

Photo Credit: lindsayloveshermac via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: lindsayloveshermac via Compfight cc

My children, husband, relatives, friends and complete strangers say I am a compulsive worrier and control freak.

But, when you live in a house surrounded by trees, you tend to worry when there are reports of 15 mph winds with gusts up to 45 mph. You like to prepare for disaster ahead of time.

Here are some of my recommendations.

If a tree falls on your house, you might have to go outside and be seen. With this cold weather, no one has actually seen you for weeks, and some folks are even wondering if you ever really existed. So dress appropriately for the moment you hear the crack of the branches, and the tree starts falling onto your roof and into your bedroom.

Plan your sleep apparel for the evening storm:

  • Scratch the pink, blue and white pajama bottoms with the ripped seams that you usually wear accompanied by the bleach stained red tee shirt top.
  • Instead, select appropriate I-have-to-run-out-of-the-house-likety-split sleepwear. May I suggest you retire to your boudoir in simple black sweats, along with a gray turtle neck (sans bleach stains) top. Socks and shoes are always a nice touch. Robes and slippers are only recommended for size two’s with fresh pedicures.

If, after the tree falls, you have to be carried out of your house you might also want to make provisions for the week that will follow.

Plan food for the events.

  • Have plenty of nourishing, yet suitable for a crowd casserole dishes just waiting to be microwaved in your fridge. It is important to prepare these dishes from scratch, so that people will compare you to Martha Stewart during their tributes. Soups are lovely, sustaining, and I highly recommend Portuguese Caldo Verde for feeding a large crowd.
  • My late Aunt Shirley also specialized in her “mourning meatballs” (with peppers and onions) which she put in a large vat for our family.

While you might want to run around and straighten your house as the winds whip up, it is highly recommended that you put your house in order ahead of time.

  • Clean bathrooms; hang fresh towels
  • Organize drawers and closets by color, season, event and in the case of some people, current size

Some last minute bedtime preparations must still be performed at the last minute.

  • Floss and brush
  • Dust
  • Put some fresh candy in the candy dish on the end table in the living room.

Then, go to bed, sleep well, and let the wind howl.

Working, then Walking to Brooklyn in a Blizzard

A man walked to Brooklyn from mid-town Manhattan during the blizzard.  He missed the last subway running at 11 p.m. because he was doing his job, shoveling snow. I don’t remember the details, only my own outrage.  Why was I outraged? I was outraged because the news reporters told the guy’s story, and then they left him to walk to Brooklyn from somewhere in Midtown, in the snow and oncoming blizzard.

I wanted to play the news clip for you here on this blog, but I could not find it. My husband says the guy was walking from somewhere on Park Avenue to somewhere in Brooklyn. His memory is better than mine, and, as much as I “search” for a recap of the story, I can’t find it. Coincidence?

Is it that the local TV station  received some heat for not helping the guy, perhaps by giving him a ride in their van, making some phone calls to police, or getting him hooked up with a warm place to sleep?

The man was dressed warmly, and he did not complain about his impending trek.  Am I just an overprotective liberal New Yorker? What would my conservative Arizona son say?

It might be something like, “Ma, Pop Pop (his grandfather, my father) walked to work in the snow. You are an overprotective liberal. The man made the choice to walk. Celebrate the guy’s self-reliance, his fortitude, his American gumption. The reporters probably asked him if they could help, and he probably turned them down.”  Then, knowing my son, he would say, “It’s people like you, Ma, who are ruining America.”

I don’t know. I do know that I’m beginning to see there are so many different perspectives on just about everything.

Dr. Hawking, Where are My Socks?

Photo Credit: toxi via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: toxi via Compfight cc

Right now, as I write this, I am thinking about aliens. A few minutes before thinking about aliens and space colonization I was wondering about whether I should prepare paella tonight and have leftovers for the next two nights, and no cooking.

Isn’t the human brain a marvelous thing?

Dr. Stephen Hawking’s brain and his ideas on the universe have always fascinated me, at least those concepts I can grasp.  Dr. Hawking is hot these days.  There’s that wonderful movie about him called The Theory of Everything. I loved it.

Then, courtesy of one of the blogs I follow, Be Like Water, I found this Ted Talk by Dr.  Hawking. ,

According to Dr. Hawking, if I understood his Ted Talk, there is a strong probability that a “few hundred light years” out there, there is a strong probability that there are alien civilizations. Dr. Hawking mentions probability quite a bit in his talks. I tune in to probability because, as both a teacher and a student, studying probability was “easy” for me. We flipped coins to figure out probability of getting heads or tails, and we played with dice to figure out somethingorother.

My favorite math problems were the ones about the probability of pulling out a chartreuse sock from a drawer filled with ten black socks, two chartreuse socks, and assorted single socks of lemon yellow, tan, navy and gray. I learned that, after washing, drying and sorting my laundry, the probability of my ending up with the same sock pairs that entered my hamper happily mated was highly improbable.  Talk about everyday math.

According to Dr. Hawking, there is a strong probability that our human race may not survive the next one thousand or even one hundred years. He says we must explore space and consider colonization.   I’m all for that. Maybe we’ll find the answers to some of his questions about the universe, and I might find some nice aliens wearing my long lost socks.

Organization is the Key to a Smooth Thanksgiving!

Photo Credit: Chetham's Library via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Chetham’s Library via Compfight cc

Let’s just say you are like me, and you are “doing” Thanksgiving. Now, if you are like me and you are “doing” Thanksgiving, you may share some of the following concerns.

First of all, if you are married to a man like my husband, Jerome the Great and Good, he is probably a man who likes to be organized, not like you. He says things like, “I want to get all of the Thanksgiving shopping done by June 15th because I don’t like to “be in the stores” at holiday time. This man, has been haranguing me for weeks about how I always wait for the last minute.

If you are blessed with a “helper” like Jerome, I’m sure you are also blessed with friends and family like I have. Let’s just say my beloved family and friends can be a trifle indecisive. If you are like me, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, you are still not sure if you are having 12 guests or 2212 guests because no one gives you a definitive answer.

Jerome, the Great and Good, doesn’t get this. “We can buy the paper goods; they’re on sale now,” he says sometime in July.

You say, “Sorry, exploding firecrackers are American, but not really autumnal.”

If you are like me, in the days prior to Thanksgiving, some of your potential guests are in conflict…with assorted in-laws. Should they split their time, bodies, and casseroles between two “venues?” Should the wife go to her mother’s house and the husband go to his mother’s house? Couples, especially new ones like my daughter and son-in-law huddle and whisper, “Should we stay at your mother’s house for antipasto and clam dip and then go to my mother’s house for turkey and stuffing?” Unsaid, but implied is, “Because my mother’s stuffing is better than your mother’s stuffing.”

In August, as he thinks about Thanksgiving, Jerome says, “Well, at least we can open the dining room table and add the extra leaves. Are we doing buffet or sit down?”

If you are married to a person like my Jerome, you just roll your eyes.

Two weeks before Thanksgiving, Jerome wants to get all of the food shopping done.  To make him happy, you go to the supermarket with your shopping list, buy a bunch of stuff, but of course not the last minutes which are the core of your shopping: the fresh turkey, the string beans, Brussel sprouts, fresh cranberries, fruit. Besides you don’t know whether you are buying a 25 pound bird or a 12 pound bird.

It is the week before Thanksgiving and some of your guests haven’t decided to be with their own strays or whether to bring “their” stray people to your house, where you have assured them that all strays are welcome. Usually this group of “strays” can add up to 11-213 people.

A few of your guests are having unexpected medical procedures (possibly childbirth, knee surgery,etc.) the day before Thanksgiving, and they don’t know whether they will be well enough to come with their children, significant others, and most importantly the casseroles, roasts and desserts that they bring every year. Note: these casseroles (corn/sweet potato); roasts: (spiral ham); pies: apple, pumpkin, cherry) are the fundamental core of the Thanksgiving meal.

True, other stalwarts step up and offer to get the ham, the pies, and the casseroles. But, this can be tricky, if the original providers of those “brings” show up with the very same dishes.

Jerome says “Last year we had too many desserts. It was a pity.”

If you’re like me you say, “Well that’s because nobody tells me what they are bringing, and last year I ran out the day before Thanksgiving and bought a bunch of pies and a Grandma’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake. Then, everyone, brought pies, and I ended up freezing the Grandma’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake.

I didn’t mention that Grandma’s Coffee Cake disappeared from the freezer from those damn elves that sneak in there and eat frozen cakes. But that’s a story for another day.

As I write this now, Jerome is in our basement, looking over our leftover paper plates.  One pack of 8 cocktail napkins, festooned with turkeys is definitely from last year’s Thanksgiving. Jerome just loves that decorating suggestion about mixing and matching dinnerware, and I know it won’t take long before he finds the leftover paper goods from other holidays.  I can see my Thanksgiving table now, a true study of Americana …American Flags, Yankee Baseballs and Valentines.

On those mix and match plates, my guests are helping themselves to a bountiful assortment of harvest foods. And the turkey? Well, Jerome forgot to nag me about it, and I can’t be expected to remember everything. I’ll run down to the store and order one for next year.




1954: The Stupid Teacher



1954: Fifth Grade Classroom: Yonkers, New York

“Do you know what they do with stupid boys like you?” Miss Reynolds, my teacher, said to two boys in my class who were fooling around.

Nobody answered, so she continued. “Well, I’ll tell you what they do. They put them in the army in the front lines so that they can be killed off right away.” I swear this is an exact quote, even though this event took place sixty years ago because I remember going home and sharing what Miss Reynolds said with my mother and father.

My father was a World War II Veteran. To be exact, he came to the United States in 1936 from Poland, just ahead of the Holocaust, served in the American Army, won his citizenship and a Bronze Star along the way. He saved another soldier’s life when they were crossing the Moselle River in France, under fire. This amazed me because I thought my father, who did the sidestroke, swam like a girl.

I was born in February of 1945. My father did not meet me until he came home from the war in November of 1945, and I was nine months old.

My father never talked about the war, but when he did speak, he spoke with a heavy accent.  He said things like “uppels” for apples and “vash” for wash. When I was a child, I wished he did not have that accent. It made him seem less American. But, what did I know? I was a child.

After I told my parents what Miss Reynolds had said to the boys in my class, my father, the man with the accent, went to my school the very next day. He didn’t even dress up. He wore his heavy work pants and works shoes. I was not there for the conversation.

I do know this quiet man, for the first time in his life, arrived at work late because he needed to meet with my teacher first.  He never shared what he said, but I knew I was very proud of him.







(For every “yes” you give, award yourself with one of the best chocolate candy miniatures you have been hoarding.)

Are you at home, awaiting trick or treaters, instead of being in your gated snowbird condo in another state?

Are you at home, awaiting trick or treaters, instead of escaping to the mall or movies?

Are you able to hear the doorbell, haul yourself out of your chair, and answer the doorbell every five minutes?

If you are taking your grandchildren trick or treating, award yourself with an additional five pieces of candy corn. If you rush home with your grandkids to give treats to other trick or treaters, you really are a Halloween superstar!


Do you wait for the goblins and princesses to ring the bell before you open the door?  Then, do you shut the door even though you see the next bunch of trick or treaters coming?  You know the fun for them is all about ringing the doorbell and waiting.


If your doorbell rings at 7 a:m, do you answer it, wearing your  robe and slippers, wave to the young parents, and remember what it was like to be a working mother or father with a young trick or treating child?

If your doorbell rings at 7, 8 or 9, pm…Same answer as above.

If your doorbell rings at 10 or 11pm. Do you answer it, wearing your robe and slippers, and remember what is was like when you were a loony teenager? Their bodies might be bigger, but on Halloween, teenagers are still little kids.


On Friday nights, I usually plan a nice TGIF dinner with wine for my spouse and myself. This year Halloween falls on a Friday night. Should I prepare my dinner and enjoy it with my wine?

Only if you want to kill yourself, waste good wine, and have the little goblins talk about the old people smells.

I have always loved Halloween. Should I dress up in costume to answer the door?

In memory of my dear father….please don’t do what he did. Dad, to answer our door, put on a Tiny Tim wig (Remember, “Tiptoe Through the Tulips”) and took out his teeth. I am sure there are kids—now parents themselves—who were scarred for life! Dad meant well, I swear.


My House Pops! Is that Feng Shui?



Today’s post is about home decorating. According to my son, granddaughter, son-in-law, and numerous “allow me to straighten your pictures” friends, another suitable title will be “What Not to Do When Decorating Your House.

First let’s discuss emotional needs….mine.  I know what I need, and I’m still searching for it. I am an introvert. I need peace, quiet, contemplation, meditation, candles, and Native American flute music. For the past twenty or so years, I have been trying to “feng shui” my house. Some people do not feel I have succeeded.

I am not a monochromatic home decorator. My granddaughter says, “Grandma, your house pops!” My son snickers when she says this, and I want to smack him. Perhaps a house that pops is not in keeping with feng shui.

My son in law smirks, as he goes from room to room in my house, moving my paintings into totally unbalanced tilts and shifts…just to see if I even notice.  Ha! Ha! I think I’ll smack my son-in-law too.

Perhaps a “house with tilting paintings” is not in keeping with feng shui.

For the past twenty years I have been searching for feng shui, and trying to figure out how I can have it and, at the same time convert the junque I pick up at garage sales into a shabby chic home, worthy of any decorating magazine. I like to pride myself on my creativity. You know; using things a different way and “making them work.”

I’d like to show you  photos of my  bedroom which I decorated with African tribal cloths, gourds, wall hangings over triple dressers, and one large bust of some lady naked from the waist up.  My friend, Gerry, and I went shopping at these discounted African Arts and Crafts warehouses in the Chelsea section of Manhattan.  I don’t know what Gerry did with her stuff. I, however, revitalized my circa 1968 Macy’s bedroom furniture  into a tribal village. My children called my bedroom, Botswana. I’d show you my photos, but I’m expecting  either National Geographic or Architectural Digest to request one first.

Two steps from the hallway outside Botswana, my family and other adventurers could enter My Garden Room. This room was formerly my daughter’s junior high and high school bedroom. Here, instead of using tribal cloths, I covered her circa 1970’s campaign style furniture with tan plastic roll-up blinds (to simulate bamboo.) Then I piled on a bunch of hardy (yeah sure) potted plants. My green walls, white molding, stained white carpet, scented candles,  portable fountain,  and vintage boom box playing Native American Flute music set the meditative tone I was seeking.

I tried to sit and meditate, but I worried too much.

The problem was I overwatered the plants. The dirty water overflowed the plant saucers, cascaded over the plastic blinds, and landed on the few clean places left on the old white carpet.  Then the dead plants dropped their dried up leaves all over the room.

It was hard to be serene with all of that death around me.  I tried. I gave up when I realized that if I fell asleep to the Native American Flute Music, the candles would catch on to something  and I would probably burn the house down.

It’s been quiet lately in AdventureLand. If you need a free-lance home decorator, I am available. If you don’t want me, then how about sharing some of your own stories?




Do You Live With The Invisible Man?

href="">Roberto F. via Compfight cc

I think, my dear husband, Jerome the Great and Good, missed a couple of physics lessons in school. He must have cut the classes on Light and Sound.

Jerome, usually a very smart man, misunderstands the physics of light.

For example, when he comes into the kitchen for his early morning coffee, even though it is dark outside, he opens the vertical blinds and puts on the overhead light.  This makes me crazy because I am a private person.  He justifies his behavior by saying, “It’s dark outside, and no one can see in.”  See what I mean about the physics?

Wearing my flimsy negligee (Yeah, sure.) I enter the brightly lighted kitchen, and run to close the blinds.

“No one can see you,” he says, and then he adds, “and who would be looking anyway?”

You know the movie, Gaslight, where the husband tries to make the wife think she’s going nuts?  I just thought I would mention it.

Jerome is not too swift with the physics of sound transmission either.

“You are too loud,” I often say to him when we are sitting outside.  As I said, I am a private person.

He tells me I am obsessed with what the neighbors think.

Here’s an example.

We enjoy outdoor meals on our deck, with wine. Once a decade, when our neighbors’ lawn mowers, tractors, zappers, hedge trimmers, leaf blowers, and chain saws are not on, our little backyard is gloriously quiet. Ah, stillness. I can hear the fluttering of the birds’ wings. Jerome and I converse. We sip our wine. He shares a story about his day. He uses a bad word. Trust me, the word is not “doodyhead.”

“Shh,” I say gesturing to our backyard. “The neighbors will hear you. There are kids out there, you know.”

Although Jerome was absent for the physics session on sound, he has perfected the physics of motion. He gets an A+ for Eye-Rolling. This silent movement is directed at me. “No one can hear,” he says, and then to prove his point, he shouts, “Doodyhead! Doodyhead! Doodyhead!”

I cringe. My neighbors used to think Jerome and I were upstanding citizens.

I want to throw a plate of something at him. But I don’t, because my neighbors will see, and then, they will all hear me say “doodyhead” back to him, and I will be arrested, and sent away, and my children will have no one to overprotect them, ever again.

He says I worry too much.  I’m worried about that.



Photo: href=””>Roberto F. via Compfight cc






Football Betting is For the Birds!

Photo Credit: furanda via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: furanda via Compfight cc

My daughter and I are in a football survivor pool. For those of you not in the know – survivor pool is the greatest invention for gambler wannabees during football season. A survivor pool doesn’t require much skill.

I don’t need to spend the time and energy that a fantasy football team requires. It’s low commitment, loads of fun, and, simple.  Here’s all I have to do each week:

  • I look at all the multiple football games being played that week.
  • I pick out one game
  • Then I pick the winner of that game.
  • If I win, I advance to the next week where I start all over again. Pick any team and then pick a winner.
  • Here’s the catch though. I can never pick my winning team again.

So, my daughter and her husband tell me, there are a variety of schools of thought on picking winners

  • Go strong at the beginning and go for a guarantee of a great team.
  • Some players, however, opt to leave their strongest teams until the end.

I play differently.  As an Audubon nature lover, my picks are all focused on teams that are named after birds.  As I have told you earlier in this blog, I’m not good with statistics and only passed in college because I was dating the instructor’s buddy.

Here are my current results. So far my bird teams haven’t let me down.

  • Week One, I chose the Seahawks and they won.
  • Week Two, I abandoned Jerome the Great and Good’s NY Giants, and chose the Cardinals. (I love the way cardinals feed their young and my granddaughter lives in Arizona. Makes perfect sense, don’t you think?)Yes. The Cardinals won.
  • Week Three, I picked the Eagles. Once when I picked up a piece of litter from a mucky pond, a bald eagle swooped over my head in salute, and I didn’t even think anyone was watching.

This Week Four,  I’m torn between the Ravens and the Falcons? What to do? What to do?  Got it!  I love crabs, both the succulent soft shell ones and the hammer ‘em open hard shells. Baltimore’s got them both,

As the sun sets and our midnight dreary approaches,  I’m wondering if Jerome the Great and Good is going to roll his eyes again at my weird team picks. The answer to that philosophical question is” Nevermore, nevermore”… because I keep winning.

Ravens it will be!



Adirondack Chairs in God’s Country


I see kids today doing their homework while reclining on their beds.

People of my age did not do that. We used desks.  If you are a contemporary of mine, I bet you remember taking great pride in your desk and feeling like a real hot shot when you organized your drawers with your new school supplies and, then, topped it off with your new green blotter.  I even had a special desk lamp!  Yowza!  Sitting at that desk, I felt like I was in the Oval Office.

That feeling lasted for the first week and a half of school. Then, I started hating homework, messing up the drawers, and listening to songs on the radio like Runaway by Del Shannon.

But, anytime my parents came in the room, there I was, at my desk, looking studious.

I think desks were a part of my parents’ American Dream.  Desks were ergonomically designed for work, and hard work meant success.

Speaking of success, as those of you who follow my blog know, I married Jerome, the Great and Good. We bought a home in what our parents called, God’s Country, because it was forty-four minutes from the Bronx. Also, our home was a real house, not an apartment with a screen door on the third floor or the elevated train running outside the living room.

Jerome and I bought two Adirondack chairs for our backyard. OK, so the chairs are plastic, and they are not exquisitely carved by Native American craftsman.  When you pull into our suburban driveway and see those two forest green plastic chairs under the trees on our dried up brown grass, you can almost hear the call of the loon and the howling of the wolf.

Unless you’re an astronaut manning a control panel during takeoff, Adirondack chairs are not designed for work. True, you can set your glass of iced tea down on the wide arms of an Adirondack chair, but if you drink your iced tea in your reclining position, you may choke to death on an ice cube.

The green plastic Adirondack chairs in our backyard are not suitable for reading a book, or writing a personal manifesto, or even a shopping list.

Adirondack chairs are only good for looking up.

Looking up is great, perhaps even greater than doing homework.  There is never a test on “looking up,” and you don’t have to study for it. Often I sit in my Adirondack chair, look up and think about the same stuff I thought about as a child. I count the leaves on a branch of a tree.  Then I try to figure out how many leaves there are on the tree. Then I think about all the other trees on my block, my town, my state, my country and the world.  Then I feel alive, even more alive than I felt when I listened to Runaway by Del Shannon.