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Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

With childish, glee, I stopped the car and called Tom. He answered with “the mallards are back”, remembering seeing them earlier in the day and sensing just how long it took me to go down the drive and up the road, where I first saw them.

Actually, they were in the street. The pond, a messy bit of swamp and cattails and grasses, had melted its frozen self upon the road, where the mister and missus were happily courting, oblivious to the me and my auto machine as I braked, grateful that I saw them cavorting about in a fowlish way on the Cutoff.

We missed the Mallard family last year. There simply wasn’t enough water to paddle in. This year; well, this year the snow melt has provided a waterfowl haven. As I slowly drove away, muttering quack, quack, quack, I remembered a little ditty for McDonald’s that aired on television here in the 1980′s. It was a catchy little jingle about Nippersinkers and rain and waddling.

We eventually discovered there really was a Lake Nippersink, just over the Illinois/Wisconsin border. A golf resort/family vacation spot with little cabins, a big lodge for eating, and all manner of activities for young and not-so-young alike. Jennifer took arts and crafts lessons and was in a talent show; something with wishy washy washing machines. Katy, about three at the time, opted to take water aerobics with me. Tom took them canoeing, I went antiquing and we all ate and ate and ate . . .

. . . and we all sang the Nippersink song. Do any of you remember it? Did you ever go to summer camp?

We are Nippersinkers. We’re in luck. If it rains all week, just pretend you’re a duck.  Quack, quack, waddle, waddle!

 

 

 

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she's a good skate37The four years between the winter Olympic contests seem to slide by quicker than they used to. Where, I wonder, has the time gone?

In one of my recent moments of Olympian “remember whens”, I recalled one of the first Winter Olympics I can remember, as a fourth grader in Mrs. Thurston’s classroom. I hunted down a post I wrote, during the 2010 winter games, which, if so desire, you can read about here.

Can it really be that four years have past since I wrote that post?

Have you been watching the 2014 Winter Olympics? Have you been thrilled by the skiing and the hockey, the snowboarding and bobsledding (gotta love the Jamaicans), the ice dancing and figure skating? To me, no matter where one’s roots are planted, the Olympics are golden opportunities to watch gifted and determined athletes from all corners of our small and wonderful planet.

I’m partial to the ice rink events; from ice dancing to pairs ice skating and anything else with two blades, flowing costumes and music, I sit, perched this year on my couch, with what looks like more snow  outside and much colder temperatures than the weather in Sochi, watching, in awe, the warm poetry on ice; the skill, the strength, the athleticism.

What is your favorite Winter Olympic sport?

(PS – there is a very short post on Olympian skier recently posted on Brittle)

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Photo from Blue Bloods website

Photo from Blue Bloods website

As the gurney was being rolled out of the cardiac cath prep area, there were enthusiastic encouragements of “good luck, Tom Selleck” and “hope you are out of here soon, Tom Selleck”. These pleasantries were coming from the nurses, technicians, and even, yes, even the anesthesiologist!  I turned around and smiled, then said “Hey you guys, cut it out. I have to live with him!” . . .

. . . and live with him I do, with all the gratitude one can have for the bullet we just dodged, the miracle of medicine, and a remarkable medical team.

Tom Selleck” in this case is my very own Tom. He was the patient on the gurney, being transferred to a regular room at a local hospital this past Wednesday, in good spirits and happy to be alive.

Tom has been dealing with a complicated and serious eye condition for the past several years. The condition is one that has resulted from being a Type I (Juvenile) diabetic for 45 years. We will talk more about this on our companion blog, Brittle, in time. For now, however, I will bring it all forward with how this condition led to Wednesday’s gurney ride.

A vitrectomy was scheduled for November 19th; a delicate operation on the eye. Tom’s retinal specialist required that he get clearance from his internist, who is also his endocrinologist, for the surgery. An appointment was made, blood work-up and EKG performed, an we made plans for the next month’s recuperation period. A blip in the EKG and Tom’s long-term diabetes necessitated a stress test. On Tuesday, the stress test showed abnormalities. He was immediately seen by a cardiologist, and an angiogram was scheduled for the next day.

Any procedure is risky, dear reader. It is more so with a Type I diabetic. Tom is on an insulin pump, which is the means by which insulin in controlled. The pump is attached by a small needle to his abdomen, with a long tube (like an IV connection) and a small device, the pump, attached to a belt or pocket.

Need I tell you how friendly a hospital gown is for anyone, let alone someone with any type of life device? They ended up taping the pump to the palm of his hand.

Then, there is the actual administration of insulin during any surgery or procedure.

Well, my Tom is much craftier that Jesse Stone, much swifter than Magnum, PI, and tougher than New York City police chief Frank Reagan. He set the nurses straight on what he needed done and how often he needed his sugar levels checked. Before long, the cardiologist came in, papers were signed, and off my dear husband went for a look-see into his arteries.

A little more than an hour later, my hospital issued pager went off, alerting me that the procedure was over. Tom was coming back to his room, and was doing great. He had several blockages necessitating the implantation of two stents .

What surprised us all the most that one artery was clogged by 82%, the other 99%!

Tom has always eaten well, is very active, maintains healthy weight, and has near perfect cholesterol, especially LDL. He showed no symptoms associated with these sort of blockages. No pain. It was a miracle that these arterial blockages were found in the way that they were – and a miracle that he had not suffered a heart attack.

We cannot begin to express how grateful we are that preparation for eye surgery brought Tom to a stress test – and a renewed lease on life. Nor can we express our gratitude for good doctors making timely calls. Tom has recovered fabulously, the route the cardiologist took was through a small prick in his wrist, making recovery easier. We’ll talk some more about neuropathy and how we have now learned that it can also impair the chest on Brittle in a day so.  Right now, Tom Selleck and I are going out for a short, brisk walk down the Cutoff.

I feel like saying amen; for this, dear reader, has become a bit of prayer in its writing.

AMEN!

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We call it Veteran’s Day, though our elders, who were children during World War I, may still call it Armistice Day. You might call it Remembrance Day. Whatever the name, these are moments, brief moments in time, set aside to remember and honor those who have fallen in war.

Have you seen Masterpiece Theater’s My Boy Jack? It was aired here in the States on public television a few years ago. It is the story of Rudyard Kipling, and his boy, Jack, who went off to war, and never came home. This is the final scene with a poem so haunting. So poignant. So memorable on this day of remembrance.

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My dear friend Janet, aka Country Mouse, mentioned the candy, Chuckles, in a comment recently on our companion blog, Brittle. It stuck in my mind, like Chuckles can do to one’s teeth, only I forgot the name, which is one of many things that don’t stick in my mind these days. Tom and I chatted about Chuckles over dinner, which lead to another posting on Brittle. The mere mention of Chuckles, once I remembered it, made me smile, then giggle, then laugh as I remembered one of the funniest episodes of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, Chuckles the Clown Bites the Dust.

Like Carol Burnett’s “Went With the Wind” scene, where she descends the staircase in a little something she saw hanging in window, the Chuckles the Clown episode makes me laugh just thinking about it.

Chuckles the Clown was a multi-faceted character of a children’s’ show on the MTM series. We rarely saw Chuckle on screen, even though we knew who he was. He was the host of a children’s show on the same station as the newsroom that featured Ted, the hapless newsman, Mary,  Mr. Grant, and Maury.  The sad news comes to the newsroom that Chuckles the Clown has died. He was dressed in the clown character of Peter Peanut when he was crushed by a rogue elephant and killed during a parade.  Maury and Mr. Grant, in spite of themselves, start making jokes, expending nervous energy, over Chuckles’ untimely demise, much to Mary’s disapproval. At the funeral, Mary has a few giggly moments herself.

Then, there is Penny, who has what has been called a wicked sense of humor, and a stream of thoughts that take her from insulin reactions, to Chuckles candies, to this funny scene.

Have you ever had a bout of giggles at an inappropriate time; a bout where you can’t stop laughing and feel as if you have a little seltzer down your pants?

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Back in the day, the Ipana toothpaste commercial had one of the catchiest jingles around. I remember walking to or from school, locking arms with friends, skipping along and singing brusha brusha brusha, here’s the new Ipana,,  giggling like a gaggle of happy geese.

Fast forward to present, and here I was on Tuesday afternoon, an expired toothbrush in hand, scouring the little crusty crevices of the kitchen sink with it. I was all alone, singing the jingle, giggling like a goose who had just stepped into a puddle. It’s funny how these  things suddenly come back to us, isn’t it?

As I worked, banishing all the hard water crud that accumulates on our faucets, I started thinking about kitchen tools; the really useful ones, like an old toothbrush, which come in handy for scrubbing small crevices, and I wondered . . .

Do you use a toothbrush for things other than teeth?

Do you have on handy other dual-purpose items in your kitchen?

Video from YouTube.

There is now a link to our other blog, Brittle, on the lower right hand side, showing the most recent posts.

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Foggy

DSCN1389I apologize, dear reader, for being out of touch for so long, with my writing sparse and my postings irregular. I’m still here, on the Cutoff, finishing up a few projects that nestled in between a sinus infection that finally abated, only to be followed by a nasty cold – all of which have left me in a bit of foggy state.

How foggy was it? So foggy that even the Hallmark Channel didn’t interest me, nor Turner Classics. So foggy that the jumbo KitKat candy bar Tom brought home for me hasn’t been torn into. So foggy that I slept through Jennifer’s visit, whilst kind and considerate Tom made dinner.

I did, at long last, come out of the foggy bottom, with my Grecian beak just a wee bit tender, sucking on cough drops and avoiding comedies lest my nose not be the only thing dripping, to see this week’s episode of “Call the Midwife”. How I love Chummy and her constable. Poor Cynthia. How wonderfully her friends rallied, reminding me that I must be better at reaching out to friends in distress. Even though I read the book, I didn’t “see it coming” with Jimmy, and wanted to shake him while comforting Jenny for her disappointment in him.

The dear sisters at Nonnatus House are real and complicated and simple, for their mission is one of care to the women of Poplar in the East End of London. I did start to tear up when I heard the echos of  “you are my special angel” down the long corridor. I won’t say why, for those of you who haven’t seen it, I’ll just that it all reminded me that my own fog has lifted, and isn’t that grand, though nowhere as grand as the fog that eventually lifted in this impoverished section of London in the 1950′s. My drippy nose also made me hold the often curmudgeonly Sister Evangeline, whose nose tends to drip as much as mine was, with a little more compassion as I watched her compassion come through in several scenes.

If you are a fan of the book and/or series, I would love to read your thoughts. If you are not yet, I encourage to you to read or watch – or both.

While looking for the correct spelling of Nannatus House, I came across this article about the sisters that you might find interesting, which can be found by clicking here. . . .

. . . and I do still plan to share a few photos of the germ miners that generously shared their colds with me from way up north.

Off I go. Nose to blow, work to get done, nature to contemplate here on the Cutoff.

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dt-1.common.streams.StreamServer.clsJust as I was getting ready to sit down and write, news came that Roger Ebert had passed away.  I felt a sadness at his passing, and the ending of an era of good writing and civil discourse.

Roger Ebert was a writer, a reporter, and a film critic; the title you may know him most prominently for. Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel paired up in the 1970′s reviewing movies on television. Siskel and Ebert were quite a pair; movie critics from rival newspaper. Siskel wrote for the Chicago Tribune, while Ebert wrote for the Chicago Sun Times. The two would sit in a studio balcony and critique movies, often getting into heated discussions about a movie and whether it deserved a thumbs up or thumbs down.

It was great entertainment, in part because of their lively exchanges, mostly because they discussed movies intelligently. Sets and scripts and writers and a movie’s value were all brought into play and, for a generation or two, they taught us to look for quality in films, not just fluff and box office smashes.

Roger Ebert won the Pulitzer Prize for movie critics in 1975. It was an unheard of honor then for a movie critic. He was among the first, if not the first, movie critic to draw attention to independent films. This was long before Sundance and others and his thumbs up helped propel the careers of many in the business. He was intelligent, fair, principled, witty, and loved the cinema. He also loved to read – and to write.

Roger Ebert continued the show after Gene Siskel passed away. Their rivalry was also a friendship, much, it would seem, like brothers in fierce competition to be first.

Over the past dozen or so years, Roger Ebert battled cancer of the thyroid and salivary glands. While he endured treatment, enjoyed remissions, and continued to work, cancer eventually led to the removal of his jaw and the collapse of his vocal chords. Instead of hiding, Ebert soldiered on, continuing to write, using technology, and eventually speaking mechanically. His face disfigured, his voice silenced, unable to eat, he penned some of his best work, tweeted and blogged, tackling many subjects, including movies.

I wrote about Roger Ebert, linking to a post I found particularly touching, early on in my blogging life, which can be found here. I read Ebert’s post again this evening, then read a few more, glad for he and his words, which could really never be stilled, and all that they taught us.

Photo of Roger Ebert and more information can be found here.

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hugh_obrianDear Reader,

This is  a public service announcement. It is one I wish I had heeded through much of my younger years. I wish I had listened to Ann Landers.

I met her, once, as a high school senior. Staff members of our student newspaper were invited to a press conference at the Chicago Sun Times, which is where Ann Landers originally wrote for. Actor Hugh O’Brian was in town promoting the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership program and I was among the lucky few from our school that attended.

Mr. O’Brian was the very handsome actor many of you might remember for his television role as Wyatt Earp. Do you remember that television series? The Legend of Wyatt Earp. Sigh. The girls in our group were as giddy as teenage girls can be. The boys in our group were full of machismo, for this WAS Wyatt Earp (brave, courageous, and true).

We somehow managed to get to the event on time, found seats in a press room, chatted with each other and  with students from other newspapers; then we fell silent as Hugh O’Brian came into the room. For most of us, this was a first time of seeing an actor in real life as opposed to a black and white television screen. Hugh O’Brian was as dreamy in person as he was on-screen – and he was as committed to his program for youth as anyone could be. We listened, took notes, and Janice, the editor-in-chief of our paper, raised her hand and posed a question. Somewhere, in a box, in the bowels of our basement, sits a news clipping of the event, quoting Janice’s question, with my hair showing. These things are important when one is seventeen.

As the press conference started to wind down, a side door opened and a sprightly, diminutive woman in a classy suit, high heels, and higher hair 3586929rushed in. Hugh O’Brian was “way cool”, but, this tiny woman with lots of spunk was none other than Ann Landers, the syndicated columnist who gave advice on boyfriends and marriages, mothers-in-law and nosy neighbors. She even ventured into such topics as basking in the sun. Almost everyone I knew read her columns, which were often clipped out and left on the kitchen table in case the “shoe fit” for some bit of advice.

Miss Landers has a strong voice and a stronger presence. I remember her whisking in and commanding the room as she gave us a few bites of journalistic wisdom and encouraged us to follow our dreams.

How I wished I had listened to one piece of  her advice. Ann Landers wrote early, and often, of the hazards of sitting in the sun, warning that sun would age her readers and worse. It would cause cancer.

I thought about whether or not to write about my recent bout with a pre-cancerous skin condition. I’m fine, really; a month of some nasty cream on my face, a bit of discomfort and worry, but, I’m fine. Eight years ago I had a basal cell growth removed from my nose; a little cut and paste by a plastic surgeon and no one knows it was there. Since then, religiously, I go in yearly for a full body screening. This past December my dermatologist said “ah, we have something we need to take care of”. Nothing I had noticed, but, she did, it was treated, and I am grateful.

I tell you this now not for you to worry or feel badly for me. Please don’t.  I tell you this as a reminder to use sunscreen and protection. Stay out of the sun. The problems I have experienced, and will likely continue to, are a direct result of worshipping the sun all those years ago, even after a tiny women with strong words wrote to all who would read to beware of what damage the sun could do. I ignored her. Several months after the press conference,  I went to Chicago’s Oak Street Beach with friends and managed a very bad sun burn. My mom cut out her column and left it on the table. The “shoe fit” – and still, I sat in the sun, again and again.

Do check your skin regularly. Use sunscreen and hats. Make an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist for a skin check, especially if you have ever had a bad sun burn or have a light complexion, and if you notice anything suspicious, be proactive – and listen to Ann Landers. I sure wish I had.

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 abram-efimovich-arkhipov-russian-artist-1862-1930-away-1915

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive. Anais Nin

One never knows where “dem bones” will end up. Take, for instance, a ham bone. One leftover from a Christmas luncheon. Actually, someone did take the ham bone. Several people, in fact, did. It made perfect sense to let the ladies who offered to warm the hams have “first pick” at the bones, which they happily took home. One bone, however, was passed on to another, Pat, who froze it to share at another time. I was one of the lucky ones who got to enjoy it!

I was delighted to receive Pat’s invitation to lunch, though not sure if I would be able to make it as it was a week after my sister’s surgery. As luck would have it, I was able to attend and, as these sorts of things go, it was JUST the thing I needed.

Several of us sat around Pat’s table on an icy Friday morn in February, enjoying a most delicious ham, bean and kale soup accompanied by spoon corn bread, a spicy carrot salad, and stimulating conversation with just the right pinches of laughter and encouragement. Dear reader, please know this hearty lunch with one of “dem bones” was a balm for my soul, allowing me to regroup, repair, and rejoice!

Ah, dem bones! As I wended my way home, I started humming the spiritual “Dem Bones”, then recalled a performance on the famed show of years ago, the Lawrence Welk Show. I guess I was still picking at ‘dem bones”. This version was performed on a Halloween show. I hope you will enjoy “dem bones” – and maybe have a big bowl of hearty soup, shared with friends, perhaps, someday soon.

 

 

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