Archive for February, 2012

Leap Day

“Oh, Mr. Hare, I really should have listened to you and cancelled my hair appointment today. You were right. It’s never a good idea to get a perm on Leap Day”, said Dolly.

“I tried to warn you, Dolly. ‘Tis a confusing day here on the Cutoff, what with Leap Day and 40 mile per hour winds and 60° temperatures” said Mr. Hare. “I, myself, am confused. I woke up today thinking it was March 1. Mrs. Hare caught me just as I was hopping out the door.”

Dolly asked “Where we you going, Mr. Hare?”.

“To see Louie Lion who usually comes storming in the first day of March”.

“Oh, dear” said Dolly “He will be confused this year, won’t he?”

“Indeed, he will. Let’s just hope that March will go out like a lamb. Now, Dolly, let’s see if Mrs. Hare can help you with your hair.”



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Virtual Music

I have a secret.

Some of you, like Tom, Jennifer, and Katy know about it. I think my sons-in-law are on to me. Janet (Country Mouse) likely remembers from our youthful days in college, and I’m sure my sister remembers. I will guess that most of you, however, do not know my secret, even if you attend the same church or have gone to a concert with me.

I’m tone-deaf.

Can’t carry a tune.

Can’t even remember the words to songs, often making up my own as I go along.

Oh, I’ll sing in the shower and Kezzie has heard me sing, though I worry about my influence on her. If you are nearby, I can be very, very quiet, so as not to frighten you with the sounds that come out of my mouth.

It was with amazement that I watched a feature on a national newsmagazine show about Erik Whitacre’s Virtual Choir.

Whitacre started with “a simple experiment in social media”.  He invited visitors to his blog to submit videos of  themselves singing. He imagined himself conducting these singers, posting himself doing just that. The singers were then digitally put together into a virtual choir made up of a range of voices from around the world singing Whitacre’s piece.

The first virtual choir morphed into a second and a third is soon to be released.

What an interesting concept and what a joyful sound, especially to someone like me. This idea of singers, now in the thousands, singing together, yet never standing next to each other, miles, oceans, hemispheres apart, following one conductor, Eric Whitacre, their voices  soaring across the heavens.

 Click this link to hear one of the virtual songs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7o7BrlbaDs

You can click here to find out more at Eric Whitacre’s website.

I’ll sing along with, but, I promise, I will not record myself doing so.

It really is an amazing world, full of possibilities, don’t you agree?

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To My Shadow

To My Shadow

You stand behind me at the podium,

a mute accuser, and refuse to speak.

Words mean nothing to you.

Late, you rush ahead of me

on a deserted street, a total stranger,

while I hurry to catch up to you. 

You have the floating liquidity of

a ghost who disappears around corners

and takes on odd shapes in the dark. 

Sometimes you cling to me, a shady

figure slouching in doorways and alleys,

but other times you vanish completely.

Shadowy self, lonely double, I don’t know

which of us is more insubstantial. 

  Edward Hirsch. Special Orders.

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Tiptoe through the window
By the window, that is where I’ll be
Come tiptoe through the tulips with me

From Tiptoe Through the Tulips by Al Dubin

What joy it was to see the sunshine as it danced among the tulips in the vases on an icy cold February morning.

Here on the Cutoff. we managed to dodge most of the snow that caused winter havoc in other areas, for which we are grateful. It was easy to appreciate the sunshine on Saturday, and the clear sky with a fingernail moon in a starlit sky come evening. They were gifts to our winter weary souls, and a welcome reminder that spring is waiting in the wings.

Come, tiptoe through the tulips with me for a few minutes here.

Or, if you prefer Laugh In, Tiny Tim, and a brief glimpse of a very young Goldie Hawn, go here.

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Peppers and Eggs

I knew what he was going to say as soon as he walked into the room. He was holding a pen and a post-in note pad. With an ear to phone, I asked my sister to hold for a minute. Tom was getting ready to write me a note, but said it instead.


Tom and I both grew up in traditions of meatless Fridays, especially during Lent. Old habits die hard – not that I’m trying to kill them off, mind you. I appreciate setting aside a day without meat or a time for fasting and I respect the tenets that honor this.

Tom’s Lenten Fridays were more in the tradition of salmon patties. Mine were of lentil soup. I always have been interested in what others had for dinner on Fridays. In fact I still am.  A simple supper of tomatoes on a platter with hard-boiled eggs, some Feta, a drizzle of olive oil and some crusty bread work for me. Smelt fried in batter with a bit of lemon were a treat growing up and, once on my own, I made a pretty good tuna casserole.

What do you serve if you observe no meat on Friday? Do you do a fast for communion or a spiritual cleansing? What is a quick dinner for you or a favorite vegetarian meal.

I would often make peppers and eggs on Fridays, tucked into some good Italian bread, especially when our girls were around Lately,  Tom and I have enjoyed a quick trip for lunch to an area hot dog/Italian beef chain come Friday.


 Like many eateries in the Chicago area, they serve pepper and egg sandwiches during Lent on Fridays.

We each had one today!

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“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”

Daphne du Maurier. Rebecca

I do not know how I have managed to get through all these years of books and not have read Rebecca. I’ve known the opening line for as long as I can remember, but, have never read the book.

Well, dear friends, I finished it, just in time for our book discussion tonight. I’m looking forward to a good talk about the first Mrs. de Winter , the second Mrs. de Winter, who is the narrator, Maxim, Frank, and the horrible Mrs. Danvers. This atmospheric  novel, where the reader can almost feel the fog roll in, the water lapping the shore, the presence of the deceased Rebecca, is sure to make for a lively discussion.

Have you read Rebecca,  seen the movie, or read any of du Maurier’s works?

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During yesterday’s lunch, we talked a bit about growing up with Civil Defense drills and whether or not our bottoms would give us away in the event of a nuclear attack whilst hiding under our desks. Three women, products of the era in which they grew up;  threats of the nuclear age, something ominous called “the cold war”and what our fear levels were as children. Mine, it seems, was the highest, but, I defended myself. Our little house was, you see, the victim of space age testing.

It was one of those long-ago days that both my sister and I remember clearly and the same way. This fine  autumn day was warm, the windows were open, and we were sitting with our grandmother at the kitchen table with an after school snack and homework. The scene still comes back as so vividly as pleasant and safe; an idealized vision of mid-century.

We all heard the loud crash at the same time, shattering the peaceful setting. Two elementary school sisters and their loving grandmother flew in a mad dash through a tiny hallway to the front door. The Eisenhower Expressway rolled past our house. The metal on metal sound of automobile crashes were familiar. We assumed an accident had occurred and it sounded as if it was right in front of the house. So we thought, until Dottie turned around and let out a scream.

There, on the carpeted living room floor, were hundreds of slivers of glass, dropped like a bomb, from our mid-twentieth century television set. Nothing else was disturbed. No windows or door or knickknacks. Just the television screen.

It is a long stretch of the imagination to remember what television screens were like in the early 1960’s. This was not the era of flat screen TVs, but, of big, bulky television sets with tubes and wires, rabbit ears and inches thick screens.

It was incredulous that only the television screen had blown out. Logic defied reason. The television had not fallen, just the screen, and a screen that size should have broken into several large shards, not slivers of glass.

Yia Yia tried to keep us calm, sending me next door to get my aunt, who was as perplexed about the scene as we were. We checked the house for other damage. Nothing else was shattered. Nothing else broken. Adjacent neighbors were fine. Of course, our shock soon settled into annoyance; no Bonanza or Mayberry. No Saturday Night at the Movies. We did feel a bit like Lost in Space.

The next day in school a classmate, Roseanne, announced that the back window of the family station wagon had exploded. Just the back window. It was shattered, like our television screen, into hundreds of little pieces. It happened at the same time of day as our own little explosion. They lived down the block from us.

Several days later, buried deep into the afternoon edition of one of the many newspapers then printed in Chicago, my dad came across a little article.  It described complaints received about the random breakage of glass in the area. Our television screen and Roseanne’s family car, were the victims of space exploration and military might. Jets from Great Lakes had been conducting tests, breaking the sound barrier, miles up in the sky the day our television screen exploded.  We never heard the sonic boom that day. Just the breaking of  glass. Neither my sister, nor I, never forgot that day.


Have you ever experienced an unusual phenomenon?

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