Sunday, November 28, 2010


ENTERTAINING THE MASSES (particular fans who call themselves a clan and follow his career enthusiastically), the Little Actor picked up the role of rock star quite by accident, and then seemed to relish the portrayal.

One of the sisters of my yard man told a friend of hers, "When family comes home, there is an orgy of togetherness." Since my yard man's family traveled home from five different states to celebrate the thanksgiving holiday, and have yet to go back, we are thick with association even now. We are eating too much. But we are laughing abundantly, as well!


Thursday, November 25, 2010


(at the home of my yard man's sister),

from oldest,
Minnie (88)
Lila (1/2).

For this food we are about to partake (prepared by family and friends), make us truly grateful...

from the gallon of gravy
to the pumpkin pies,

all the way to the left-overs. Make us grateful for the great outdoor refrigerator in which to store the leftovers, in spite of the sleet and rain.

And, for those who do the clean-up,
(speaking strictly for myself)
I am already truly grateful!!

Dear Reader of mine.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010



I'LL WAGER, READER DEAR, YOU NEVER OPENED A POSTAL PACKAGE to find walnuts. On second thought, if I'm betting on it, let me amend that to walnuts in the rough--good English walnuts in the shell. Oh, and I'll stipulate further: they had to be sent by friends, not just from some mail-order company! And, more thing. Along with the walnuts, there had to have been included a homemade pick (I received one, and it was fashioned from a nail; but this one--this one showing up in my wager--it could have been made from anything at all. I won't be a stickler about that).

So there you have it, Dear Reader. Ahem, are you stepping up to call my bluff? If you win this wager, I'll send you my pick. It is far superior to yours, I'll bet. Yeah, I'll bet you my box of walnuts...oh, wait, dear me, it is time to stop gambling with my windfall!

(Because--unlike you--I did receive walnuts in the mail, and they are from friends, and, by George, I do need that pick made by George!)


I spent the afternoon engrossed in a project that's completely new to me. Never before have I worked on a design for two gravestones; well, to be honest, not even for just one gravestone.

The consensus was two markers for the graves of my parents, and it was I who suggested that the design flow from one to the other. Good idea! my siblings agreed. Go ahead and show us what you have in mind! So I'll show you, too, Dear Reader, when I've got it done...

Tea is my hot drink of choice and brewing loose tea is what I prefer. A few weeks ago I came across this big glass mug at the thrift store. It's as large as a small soup bowl, and perhaps it is meant for sipping soup. But I've started brewing my tea leaves in it and this has bumped up the pleasure of my tea-drinking considerably. Every morning, now, I take delight in my see-through bowlful of tea.

On this eve of Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for you, Dear Reader. I am ever so thankful for you!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010


SAY, IT'S BEEN A WHILE SINCE I dropped a salmagundi in your lap, Reader Dear. Here comes one now,* and please don't act as though I didn't warn you:

First off, here's what got dropped into my lap--it was the job of serving refreshments to two hundred people. Refreshments, I said (I see you turning pale)--Finger foods only. Just a little something after Sunday's morning church service--not a sit-down meal! (Although, I can't pretend I didn't quake just a little, nonetheless.) So, on Saturday I backed my U-haul up to the door at Costco. Well, actually it was just a cart; but it was a haul--four kinds of fruit and big fat muffins and loaves of sweet bread. The muffins were of such a generous size that I planned to cut them into fourths...and the loaves into twelve servings each. I figured one bag of oranges would do it; I counted about thirty-two inside the mesh, and I'd cut them into eighths...that would be two- fifty-six; and let's see, not everyone would eat a slice, some would eat two. But what about the pears? They were giving out samples, slurp, slurp...and, oh, they were quite delectable! One bag of eleven...hmm. Well, you can see, Dear Reader, my brain had the bigger job here, while my muscles got off easy. Eventually, however, calculations were complete and the haul got hefted to the trunk of the car. And then out again. And finally to the serving table. (Skipping over numerous steps in the which I took The Yard Man with me to unload it all at the church on Saturday night, and then coerced him into stopping at the grocery store so as to pick up a few more pastries of some sort, and maybe a big bunch of bananas, because, well...what if I didn't have enough?!)

Fortunately, it was all quite sufficient. In fact, what I had was an overabundance--a surplus, indeed--of oranges! On Sunday morning, as the line of partakers had moved down along the serving tables, the oranges, so gorgeously red, were overlooked for grapes and pears. They were passed by for bananas, and passed by for pastries. They appeared to be little pariahs.

mistook them for grapefruit! I'd surmised. After all, hadn't I gotten that very idea myself, with a shock, when I'd cut into the first of the oranges and found it delightfully ruby-colored? But, still......I puzzled over this as I cleared up the leftovers. The oranges were so yummy...didn't word get passed along? Every scrap of pear was consumed, and just a few bananas and grapes survived to the end. But the least half lay uneaten.

"Yeah, they thought it was grapefruit," my Yard Man agreed, when the big job was over. He was helping me load into the car the pumpkins and flowering plant I'd used for decoration."That must be it, cause they sure were good oranges!"

"Yes, they were!" I said. And then I accosted a friend walking by, "Don't you think the oranges were good?!"

"Actually," she said, and she looked a little sheepish,
"I didn't eat any."

"What?! Why not?! Did you think they were grapefruit?" It was just so puzzling. I know she's fond of oranges.

she responded. She was hesitating; something told me the mystery was about to be revealed!

"Then WHY didn't you eat any?" I begged to know.

"Well," she said, "I couldn't set down my plate, and I couldn't take the peel off the orange slice with just one hand, so I didn't take any. "

Ah, Dear Reader, thus shone a very large light! This was the lesson learned: Holding a plate of finger foods and eating them, too, should not require the use of more fingers than a person possesses!

*There was a glorious sunset this evening. But the sun went down before I got this salmagundi fully concocted! I'll have to add more ingredients another day.



Monday, November 22, 2010


OH, DEAR READER, THIS MORNING I HAD CAUSE TO stop and consider my greediness --how it is that I don't wish to give away even one tiny increment of my time if I feel that it is going for naught. And then, if I'm forced to give, I fantasize about throwing a tantrum. About stomping. About fussing. I think about yelling, "Hey, chop-chop, get the lead out!"
"Did you notice who got here first?!
" I think of squawking to employees of big box stores as they dawdle and take phone calls, and service a string of walk-up-later customers while attending to my order.

"DO IT. JUST DO IT, ALREADY! SHOULD IT TAKE A WHOLE HALF-HOUR," I want to roar, "to cut two little pieces of tile!?"

Ah, yes, I thought of roaring. I relished the idea. I was smiling patiently and murmuring, "That's okay." But inside was a great big roar.
That is my confession for the day, Dear Reader. Now you know.



Thursday, November 18, 2010


TODAY WAS NOT THE DAY THAT IT RAINED. No, that was back on Tuesday when the clouds stayed open most of the day. Lucky for me, I got to go out with a friend. We had lunch together. But this poor guy, a neighbor of mine--I was shocked to see he went out with the trash!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010


YES, I KNOW THAT NOSTALGIA HAS EVERYTHING to do with choosing my childhood home as "Most Beautiful Spot on Earth." I couldn't expect many others' points of view to jibe with mine on this. It's a bit like calling one's own mother the sweetest and best--but of course!

Yet when the sun drops down the western sky and transforms the whole place into a cathedral of color and light, one whose organ music is tranquility and the gentle slapping of waves against the shoreline, the cries of water fowl, I stand on the pier
and want to shed tears at such magnificence; is it any wonder--any wonder, I ask you, Dear Reader of mine, that I'd be looking for others to fall on their knees here, as well.

Do I sound a tad melodramatic?
All right, all right, maybe just a wee bit.
I didn't weep,

though it really was one of the most stunning sunsets I've seen in a while.

And I took lots of photos to prove it.

Except, uhm, that's not true.
I took lots of photos just because I couldn't stop myself.

Until I got to this one, the crowning peak of the sunset.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010



MY BREATHING HAD SLOWED. My brain had that swimmy feeling it gets when it's about to drift into the Land of Nod. The panorama of stars overhead was quietly twinkling on me (though I could only believe that to be true, of course--I was no longer watching). Very suddenly, then, not twenty feet away from where I so recently had surmised that a snake was my biggest worry, came the sound of something fighting for its life. There were shrieks and little screams and agonized sounds of struggle. And, even more ghastly, there were loud snarls, vicious growling, flesh-ripping and lip smacking noises. Well, I don't know for sure about the lip-smacking, but it was pretty clear that Mr. High-on-the-Chain was relishing his midnight snack of poor little Lower-on-the-Chain.

I will pause while my heart skips a beat, and then I will tell you that you likely never saw a queen-sized air mattress, a flimsy blanket, and a pillow sail through an open sliding screen door with quite such speed; and, leading the way, a shadowy pajama-clad figure who's thanking her lucky stars (which, even with her eyes wide open, she can no longer now see) that she herself was not the late-night delicacy considered for consumption!

After some time spent studying just exactly how high on the chain this wild Mr. High might be, and what the chances were that he was still hankering for an entree, and would find a flimsy screen door no impediment whatsoever to making it me, I commenced to lie awake a few more hours before finally sleeping. Needless to say, it was a short and restless night, in which I dreamed of a wild boar-like creature with the legs of a turkey and very ferocious.*

I have just told you, Reader Dear, what I've got to say about the most unpleasant part of the whole extended weekend, and thus it's time you hear (but mostly see) what made it delightful:

The pier.

The high tide.

The rippling river water.

..........................................................................................The bright orange berries on the walk to the cemetery.

The pine grove between the house and the river.

The pine trees streaking
the afternoon sun.

The Saturday evening dinner at the very same restaurant as Friday night, but with a different waitress,
and a different brother, too.

The Sunday visit to Williamsburg.

Colonial Williamsburg, that is.
(not far away).

And again, the river. The sunset.

Oh, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

But you will see more of it tomorrow, Dear Reader,
if you'll come back just one more time.
I promise.



Monday, November 15, 2010


I DID NOT FLOAT AWAY ON A RIVER of busy-ness, though I did sense the danger of that happening before I hastily tossed my smallish bag into the car and rushed off to the train station to pick up my NYC sis and set out for Virginia. I have been gone, however...away to what, in my personal Book of Records, is listed as MOST BEAUTIFUL SPOT ON EARTH. (And, after an extended weekend there, I'm more convinced than ever that I didn't slip up in my classification.) The weather was such that it somewhat redeemed the gasping-for-breath heat of my previous visit to this place where I spent my childhood, as it was breathtakingly (gaspingly, one might say) pleasant.

The primary goal of my sister and myself--our reason for making this trip--was to establish definite arrangements for one or more gravestones--the uncertainly of number being the indecision as to whether our parents would each have a stone or would share one. My sister had made an appointment to meet with the man from the memorial stone business at three o'clock, Saturday. Because we weren't quite sure of the company's location and he had said it was a half-hour's drive away from the old home place, the man had suggested that he meet us at the cemetery--just a quarter-mile away.

So Friday afternoon was spent driving south, and so stunning was the fall foliage, I well-nigh exhausted my supply of positive exclamations. And then it got dark, and abruptly I had opportunity for negative ones--we had to bring the car to a halt in a clot of traffic and creep down the road inch by inch. But, lo and behold..."Nita!" I said. "Look over there!" To our right was Hogg Funeral Home and the very gravestone-making company whose services we'd be using. Of course, it was dark, and the place was closed, but we spent a full half-hour inching along in front of the company's sign and the building. As soon as we had passed it by, the accident ahead was cleared, traffic eased, and we were on our way.

Well, then we spent another half-hour driving thither and yon, trying to untangle our memories of all the road connections, and figure out how to get to the restaurant where one of our brothers (the twin one) was waiting to have dinner with us. From there on, however, the weekend went swimmingly (I just had to use that term, Dear Reader; it's all about the river, you know [and don't say you don't! I've told you about it before]). There was just one exception (which I'll tell you about right now).

"I'm not going to expose myself to mildew and mold any more than I have to," I told my sis. "Sleep where you want, but I'm going to put my air mattress right here by the open screen door." It was kind of chilly with the door wide open, so she slept in a heated room with the thermostat and I slept in that one with the cold.
Or, at least I tried to sleep for ever so long. Now, since it was cold anyway, but I couldn't quite see the stars, eventually I thought, Why not move my mattress to the deck and sleep outside?!

So that's what I did. In the dark of night I opened the screen door and dragged the queen-sized air mattress out onto the leaf-covered deck. I transferred the sleeping bag, the flimsy little blanket and my pillow. Then I crawled down inside the bag again and looked up at Orion. This is great! I thought. Why didn't I think of this sooner?

That's what I was thinking as I tried to relax and imagine that I would be warm enough as the night got colder. Then the breeze picked up a little and rustled the leaves all around me on the deck, and I chanced to think of snakes. Snakes! This time of year they'd be looking for a place to hibernate, wouldn't they? Ah, the thought made me nervous, but I tugged the sleeping bag tightly around my neck. They're like mice, I know, but if I can just hold this grip in my sleep, I won't wake up with a snake at my feet. I shivered mightily at the very thought, but stayed outside. Breathing deeply, I eased back into sleeping mode. Once or twice small scuffling sounds jerked me upright, but peering into the darkness, I saw nothing. At long last, I was drifting off to sleep.

(And perhaps you are doing the same, Dear Reader. This tale is dragging out, and possibly you're yawning. But there's more to come--loud snarling noises and something to wake you up; well, at least it woke me up! You'll just have to come back tomorrow, I suppose, if you're curious at all.
What I'm trying to say is: TO BE CONTINUED.)


Tuesday, November 9, 2010


AHA! I'VE GOT A COUPLE MORE little quirks to tell you about, Dear Reader. Tiny twists of fate. I'm a fan, it's already been divulged, of coincidence.

Okay, so this first one was yesterday. I had to go tend to a tenant. My Friday conversation with Tiffany had gone something like this: "Were you thinking," I had asked, "about paying your rent?"
"Well, here's the thing," she'd responded, "I can't make the rent by myself. And I haven't seen Shana for weeks! She's not talking to me. I know she paid last month, but I don't think she'll pay any more rent."

Oh, lordy, lordy.
It hit me that the situation here had further descended into the muck and mire of we-had-a-falling-out-ness. I'd been foolish to think there would be resolution.

So that's how yesterday morning found me headed for Tiffany's apartment, aiming for her signature on a document entitled Cancellation of Lease Agreement. (It's a contract I ad libbed onto paper, envisioning as I did so a bemused court of law, snickering at my work).

"I've got a lot to do," said Tiffany, when she'd signed away her free housing rights. "Today is the birthday of one of my very best friends!"
" Wow,"
I exclaimed. "No kidding! Mine, too!"
"Oh." Tiffany looked at me, "Happy Birthday!" she said.
"I mean, it's the birthday of one of MY very best friends, too!" I said.

Ahem. So, that was it, Dear Reader. I know the fluke wasn't all that outstanding. Sure, everybody's got a birthday; every day lots of people are having one; for every three-hundred and sixty-five people you know...oh, just forget it! I was impressed, anyway--nobody has more than a handful of very best friends!

So how about today's happenstance:
I was off to the Toyota dealership yet again. This time the notice received in the mail had read: "Certain 1998 Through 2010 Toyota Sienna Vehicles Equipped with a Spare Tire--Severe Corrosion of Spare Tire Carrier Cable--SAFETY RECALL NOTICE (Remedy Now Available)"*

*"(Remedy Now Available)" was written in red ink. I suppose that was meant to be the exciting part. (Wow, even though this vehicle has been driven for almost ten years, and this condition could have been a problem since its manufacture, now there's a remedy, yipee!)
Well, I'm sorry, but here was the candy coating for me--I could take this car to the dealership where 1) it would be fixed for free, and
2)they would take me via their shuttle service to any place I wished to go within a pretty broad radius [though not to Arizona, the driver informed me]. Oh, and
3)they would bring me back whenever I pleased.

(A little parenthetical explanation here, which has nothing to do with odd coincidence, other than the fact that I'm planning on shuttling off to the very same shopping center and meeting the very same friend as was the case last time Toyota recalled my car. But there's really nothing odd about that, other than the fact that our rendezvous is impromptu. I just called. We just talked. "I'll come meet you," she said, "but we have to walk to the park!"
"Then you'll have to bring me a pair of shoes," I said.)

And she did--what a fabulous friend.
Oh, my, this is getting long, Reader Dear. Where was I? Climbing into the shuttle car, I think.
And the driver announces to my fellow passenger, "I'll take the young lady to the shopping center first."

Dear me! I wonder if his poor eyesight is going to be a safety factor. "I'll bet I'm about your age," I say. And we quickly discover it is true. Furthermore, Larry, the fellow passenger and I are just the same age.

"Did you both grow up around here?" the driver asks.
"No, I didn't." I say. "I grew up in southern Virginia."
"Oh?" Larry swings around in his seat, "Where? Out in the western part?"
"In Newport News," I say.
His eyes open wide. "I spent my whole adult life there!" he exclaims. "Up until just four years ago!"
How amazing, I think. How many times is this little fluke going to happen to me!?
"I joined the army," Larry's saying. "And served at Fort Eustis."
"Well, I grew up right across the river from there," I tell him. "We heard the guns of Fort Eustis every day!"
He goes on to tell me where he worked, where he lived when he left the army. He and his wife got married the very same year that I said "I do" to my yard man.

The shuttle car driver pulls up to the curb at the shopping center. The engine is running and he's patiently waiting as I squeeze in comments and questions.
Arrgh. What curlicues could have been added to this coincidence, I'll never know. I have to say goodbye and let the driver (two years older than me, but with questionable eyesight) take his passenger and go on their way.

But I get to go on my way, too--right on to the very best part of my day. And savoring that little waddayaknow besides!


Sunday, November 7, 2010


I WENT TO THE PARK AGAIN today, just to check on Tiny. (No kidding, he's the one who got me out the door). What happened was, I was vaguely aware that the afternoon was fast waning, and I suddenly realized that in spite of getting that whole long terrific, delightful extra hour in the middle of the night last night, this evening's puny gift would only be a stretched-out time of darkness. So I jumped up, put on my sneakers and was out the door in four-fifteenths of the time I usually spend fighting the gravity of inertia.

This is what I have to report: The scene-of-the-crime tape still mars the landscape around Tiny's old hopping grounds, and all was quiet. I don't wish to be irreverent, but I sadly fear that Tiny has croaked.

In his memory I gathered a last dandelion of autumn and scattered it over his final resting place. After which I made a four-loop salute to the dying sun.





Saturday, November 6, 2010


I KNOW FOR YOU AND ME, DEAR READER, birthdays seem to roll around like pumpkins at Halloween; but for the Little Actor, it was pretty much a lifetime ago since he had had a birth day (what I mean to say is, that little gap in the middle of the word disappeared for the very first time today!)

And, oh, the privileges one is afforded on the very first anniversary of one's birth!

Think of it, Dear Reader,
when was the last time you happened to have an adoring audience who oohed and aahed as you unabashedly buried your face in the birthday cake and let yourself go hog wild, consuming the better part of the entire confection, afterward going so far as to crawl around on the floor and eat up the crumbs?! (And still those lovable fans were cheering you on!)

And then! Not only a little mound of new presents to open up, but friends (older and wiser) able to open up entertaining possibilities for your old stuff! (Nose rings? Earrings? Far out! And I thought those things were only for chewing on!)

Yes, Dear Reader, there's a lot to be said for birthdays that have never made their appearance before!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY #1, Lewis Jerome,
my dear Little Actor!


Thursday, November 4, 2010


THE LITTLE ACTOR WAS HERE FOR A few hours today while one of his caretakers was off being cared for by a doctor (or at least, the good doc was telling her she could go on caring for herself, as her very bad sore throat was due only to a very bad cold). The Little Actor seemed to be feeling okay, however, so I put him right to work.

"Here," I said, "I've got just the role for you! It calls for a one-year-old." When he looked at me a little questioningly, I added, "You're not quite that old, I know, but you'll do just fine. After all," I told him, "you've got a birthday party just days away!"

Then I looked toward my bag of paper that was waiting to go for recycling and I started to explain, "The script says..." But he seemed to know just what was called for and jumped into action without further ado.

Scene One.
Take one--

Scene One.
Take two--

Scene Two.
Take one--

Scene three.
Take one--

And it's a wrap!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010


OKAY, I'LL ADD SOMETHING. But it won't be much.
(You can't see it, Dear Reader, but my lower lip is slightly protruding.)

Really, with today's insight it's not difficult to know why so many of my fine neighbors tried to ignore me yesterday as they crunched across the gravel of the parking lot, following the sign with the arrow saying "VOTE HERE."

I didn't know many of them, but I did know the man who came and joined me around noon at the other party's table (okay, okay, the grand old victorious party, as it now happens to be!) Don and I didn't recognize each other immediately, but when I told him where I live, he said, "Oh, your daughter used to come and swim in my pool!" Then we had plenty to converse about, and only a very little bit pertained know...what was on everyone's mind yesterday. Don and I talked about the good old days when my daughter swam in his pool.

But to everyone else--as they came from the parking area and headed for the door of the polling station--he and I would say a "hello!" As they were leaving, I would tell them, "Thank you for voting!" and then Don would say, "Have a good day!"

Every once in a while, if a female voter would glance my way, I couldn't resist sharing: "Today is the ninetieth anniversary of women getting the right to vote!" Ah, wonderful! All of these women seemed pleased to hear it. I couldn't help but notice, however, the subtle shift that often occurred when I gaily added, "Thanks to a Democratic congress!"

Well, tsk, tsk, too many marched in and gave their vote to the party who would have refused them the right to do so! Alas. How ironic. And I came home after nearly nine hours of watching gorgeous leaves float down from the giant sycamore tree towering overhead--nearly nine hours of sitting in the bright sunshine and the cold. The cold!

I walked into the house and put an apron on over my cotton sweater, my insulated vest, my wool sweater and my quilted jacket (I told you I would add something more, didn't I?!) Then I made myself a plate of spaghetti with cilantro, which reminded me of the national colors of Italy. Which made me wonder if people are prone to sit for hours at Italian elections and shout, "Thanks for voting!" until they are chilled to the bone.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010


THE ALARM SQUAWKED AT 7:00 this morning and I groaned. I knew at that very moment--that very cold and barely daylight moment--there were already people walking into polling places and dutifully casting ballets; and yet I, with the responsibilities of my political office calling, wished to do nothing more than shirk my duty, bury my head under the pillow and go back to slumbering.

I re-set the alarm for another ten minutes and spent the time contemplating an announcement to my constituents: "To leave office before my term is completed is what every instinct in my body wishes to do at this moment. Therefore, I shall resign the office of committee-person, effective at 7:15 a.m. today." It seemed just a bit dramatic, however. And, honestly, the logistics of making this announcement in some official way and in a timely manner seemed daunting. Besides, I had already loaded the trunk of the car with a folding table and a chair the night before. And my yard man, before leaving on his five-day trek, had hoisted into the car the beach-umbrella-holding contraption he'd contrived for my use at the flea market a while back. (Of course, I had stashed the beach umbrella, too, pleased that it was so suitably blue.)

Furthermore, I'd made arrangements with the committee chairperson to pick up signs and watch her in action for a while, to get a feel for the job I was expected to do.

So I got myself up and I got myself dressed. The plan was for me to sit outside amid a cluster of political signs and answer any questions that voters might have pertaining to voting or pertaining to the candidates running for office on my party's ticket. Naturally, a critical aspect of the plan was the "sitting outside" part--and I knew it was cold. So I donned a pair of corduroy pants; a heavy cotton sweater; an insulated vest; a wool sweater. Then I looked at the thermometer and it read 37degrees. I added a quilted jacket.

I'll add something more tomorrow.