Friday, January 28, 2011

an A.B. morning...

I woke up yesterday to a fresh layer of snow and knew it would be an AB in Annette Bening. I love her impressive acting credits and her distinctive style. She just puts it "out there", but, really, Annette, is it time for a new hairdresser?

I have my AB mornings (and days), but I confine myself to a small universe that encompasses my laptop in the living room, the fridge in the kitchen and the TV and my books in the family room. I'm not out strutting the red carpet at the Golden Globes. I forego the black evening gown for comfortable sweats or my favorite polka dot pj's.  But, hey, there may be something to her carefree, "this is me" attitude. So don't be scared if you see me like this in the Stop and Shop. I'm just living the AB life... 

Annette--working the red carpet
me on an AB morning

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Love, Loss and What I Wore

I saw this play last week, when my original plan to see Laura Linney in Time Stands Still was scuttled by her absence. The TKTS booth offered Love, Loss and What I Wore, a Nora Ephron anthology that promised a light afternoon of laughter.  The theatre was dominated by women and I swear I had seen Vagina Monologues years before in the same venue.  Five actresses take the stage, sitting on chairs, reading the script and assuming different roles. It delivered the laughs, as promised, but got me to thinking about the theme.

It's such a great idea--why didn't i think of it? You do remember what you wore with the happy or sad times, the favorite childhood clothes, the adolescent angst with your mother, the times you felt so cool in your boots or your hippie vest or so hot in that little black dress!

Judging by my husband, who adored his purple stretch bellbottoms with the buttons on the fly and his American flag pants, I would venture to say this association to clothing applies to men, too, although most wouldn't admit it. (and fewer still can actually say they still own those clothes, tucked away in a box in the basement)

What was your favorite childhood outfit?  When I was 10, I got red leather gloves for Christmas to wear to church with my "good" coat. But, I discovered when wearing them outside to play that a snow ball would turn reddish from the leather dye and a whole new adventure began.  We had snowmen with red eyes, snow cars with red backup lights and snow forts with red doorknobs. (yes, lots of snow in Schenectady). The gloves were ruined and my mother was not pleased.

Neither was she pleased when she caved to my pleas, supported by my Aunt Marcella, to buy denim shorts a few summers later. I was thrilled. They were light blue (because Mom absolutely refused to go for the dark denim--"so mannish"), very tight, knee length. I wore them with a button down, yellow oxford shirt with a light blue stripe. 

My other aunt, who also had only sons, had her own idea of how to dress me and every Christmas I got an expensive shirtwaist dress from Klopman's--even into the sixties, when I just died having to wear it. The last one I remember had a white background with red flowers and a red accent belt. Even my mother agreed it was time to tell Aunt Be that the reign of the shirtwaist dress was over.

From college I remember my first pair of jeans in freshman year, when my roommate took me to downtown Ithaca's Army Navy Store to buy boys jeans because they didn't make them for girls. Later, a group of us were sitting in someone's dorm room, sprawled across the bed or hunched together on the floor, discussing the great issues of the day, when someone commented. "Look we're all wearing blue jeans!"  I also had a favorite red and white flowered peasant blouse and a yellow Indian print dress with huge sleeves.

Years later,(no connection to the story above!) when I was pregnant and finally had a Dolly Parton chest, I sported a navy sundress with cleavage, an unheard of experience for me. (now if only I hadn't had that big belly!)

Happy times--the clothes I bought for a Bermuda getaway (without kids)-- and sad times--the black pinstriped pants suit (very IBM) that I bought for my father's funeral, but never wore again.

So, think back to your favorite (and unfavorite) clothes and I'll think you'll find a story connected to them.  Indulge yourself and share with us, if you dare!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

This day in history - January 19

I'm a sucker for This Day in History items. In fact, my first blog last year was exclusively on NJ history. (never went viral).  Today, January 19, is my younger brother Peter's birthday, so let's explore this happy day. 

Many famous birthdays are celebrated today, including Edgar Allen Poe (born in 1809). Baltimoreans are keeping watch for the famous Poe Toaster who for the last 60 years has marked the birthday with three roses and a half finished bottle of cognac left on Poe's grave. The toaster missed last year, perhaps finishing off the cognac instead, but let's hope he's there this time.

There are a number of musical giants born this day: Rocker Janis Joplin (1943) and Country Star Dolly Parton (1946) and two who died this day: Rockabilly Carl Perkins (1998) and the soulful Wilson Pickett (2006). That must explain my brother's late blooming musical talent with original songs like Kelly, Kelly (dedicated to their guinea pig and soon to be on You-Tube).

Paul Cezanne, the famous artist was born this day in 1839. My mother always promised Peter art lessons at the museum and who knows where he'd be today, if he'd had them....perhaps painting native women on the Fiji Islands.

Robert E. Lee was also born today, in 1807. Lincoln asked him to be commander in chief ot the Union Army, but, alas, poor Robert decided to be loyal to his native Virginia and ended up on the losing side. I can't find any significance in this event for my brother. He's not a loser, I don't care what you've heard. (Just kidding-- is that too Ricky Gervais?)

Jean Stapleton, of All in the Family fame, shares this birthday (born 1923) and any resemblance to my mother is just coincidental.

Among the daring exploits of this day (not counting when Pete and my father raked the snow off the roof of our house in 1970) is Howard Hughes transcontinental flight in 1937.

With the revised zodiac replacing the familiar one, which didn't  factor in the earth's wobble and the fact that the sidereal (star) positions are based on the sky 2000 years ago, my brother has now morphed from a Capricorn to a Sagittarius. (me, too)

We've gone from hard working,  focused, materialistic, humorous but reserved goat-loving people to crazy centaurs who are optimistic, fun loving, more philosophical and spiritual, honest and free wheeling. Sure, as Capricorns, we would occasionally be capricious, but now the lid is off and we're able to enjoy unlimited freedom, unusual ideas and being on the move all the time. I don't know about myself, but perhaps some truth in this for my brother who embraces yoga, guitar playing and song writing.  And for both of us, the children of Buffy's arch enemy, we've embraced a truly unusual idea--loving a dog.

Whatever our new planet Jupiter dictates for us, I toast my brother with cognac and wish him all good things for the coming year  (and hasten to warn him about the Sagittarian's weakness for  gambling, which inexplicably has affected the Aquarius and Aries members of our family).

      Thursday, January 13, 2011


      Just returned from the midweek Mohonk Mountain House spa-cation. Their word, not mine.  It was a wonderful getaway with gourmet meals, daily spa treatment, beautiful setting in the Catskills, rustic hotel, outdoor activities and sunshiny days. I even went snowshoeing. Our husbands were off skiing the French Alps at Chamonix, so three of us, plus daughters,  arranged this outing. (I had a friend fill in as my substitute daughter, since Beth was in Florida at Harry Potter World--drinking butterbeer.)

      Butter Beer Beth
      The hotel, a national historic landmark, stretches along the lake for a half mile, with the oldest section built in 1879 and the newest in 1906.

      I love hotels like this--lots of polished, carved wood, big windows, fireplaces and cozy lounges. 

      It took me a day to realize we had no tv in our room, although there was a public tv lounge and an internet room. I was going to abstain from internet activity, but, hey, I had to check on the approaching storm. (The pull of my digital self is very strong)

      Women always get glassy eyed and jealous when they hear about someone with such a lovely spa adventure, but a word of advice.  There is a danger of overmassaging, as you can see from the picture below.  I'm on the left, smiling, but that jellied-arm looseness and total relaxation has spread even to my hair follicles, which are flattened out and unwilling to perk up despite the hair mousse. 

      Some people are just better at spa-ing, as my friend on the right demonstrates--happy relaxed smile, glowing skin, and, damn, her hair looks good! 

      Friday, January 7, 2011

      Wrapping up the holidays

      So hard to take down the decorations. I do it in dribs and drabs, so it seems like an endless task. Just when I think I have everything boxed away, I notice another little angel or mini Christmas tree tucked away on a side table...and the pine needles will last until spring!

      I'm sitting here listening to a great juke box website with songs from 1950-1989. No good music after 1990, apparently. Pick a year and see if you remember the tunes.

      Here's a follow up picture on the Midget Santa/Candy Cane story.

      Who is this man and what is he doing with my father's candy cane?
      Did you correctly guess that the smiling elf is none other than Midget Santa's helper, my brother Peter, all grown up and still looking good in a little red hat. Yes, he has the candy cane, but we still haven't figured out where it was in 1965. (Best guess: being repainted in the cellar).

      More corrections to that story: the buyer of Midget Santa was my oldest brother Joe, who thought it would restore him to the good graces of my parents (something to do with missing dinner or staying out too late at night) Where the Santa was purchased is also being questioned. I was informed that there was no K-Mart in 1965 but a check of Wikipedia reveals that the first K-Mart was launched in 1962 in suburban Detroit and the chain had grown to 100 stores by 1965, so the one on Central Avenue in Colonie definitely could have been there.  I agree, though, the store was most likely Montgomery Wards or Two Guys (my father's favorites) or J.M. Fields (my mother's favorite store).

      Enough with upstate NY trivia, here's some NJ history. I bid a fond farewell to the season of gingerbread houses with a visit to Lambert Castle in West Paterson, which featured a holiday display.
      The real Lambert Castle
      the Gingerbread version

      nice porch
      Other winning entries:
      i think this was a historic jail

      cute and a whole yard full of characters

      Looks like the oversized house
       across the street from me

      ....and the NJ History lesson:

      The castle was built in 1892 as a home and showplace for the art collection of self-made man Catholina Lambert. He emigrated from England at age 17, having worked since age 10 in the cotton mills of Yorkshire. A quick learner, he rose to prominence in the Paterson Silk Industry, becoming a partner in a mill by age 30. He married a wealthy woman from Boston, Isabella Shattuck, and they had 8 children. Sadly, only 3 survived to adulthood and this memorial window was dedicated to the daughter Florence who died at age 24 from pneumonia.(clearly she was the favorite child).

      Lambert had styled the mansion after the castles of England he remembered as a child. Isabella died in 1901, after 44 years of marriage. Three years later he married her widowed sister (very biblical). Following the Paterson Silk Mill Strike of 1913, many of the mills moved to Pennsylvania which had a cheaper labor source (women and children). World War I and lack of credit further eroded his business and he eventually declared bankruptcy and was forced to sell off many of his art treasures. He died at age 89 in 1923 and his son Walter sold the castle to the city of Paterson soon after. It is now open to the public as a museum under the auspices of the Passaic County Historical Society and is part of Garrett Mountain reservation. (home to many epic high school cross country races)

      Overlooking the city of Paterson,
       the first planned industrial city
      The view from the front balcony of New York City skyline

      Monday, January 3, 2011

      Best Birthday Ever!

      Still basking in the glow of my wonderful 60th birthday celebration on Saturday. Wow! So much to love about it, I don't know where to begin.  The play Million Dollar Quartet was rocking good fun, a nice complement to our Southern Swing trip and our new founded interest in Elvis and the pioneers of rock 'n roll.  The restaurant Saju Bistro had good food, a nice setting and great waiter. Thank you, Marshall. We weren't rushed and had time to enjoy the guests, the gifts, the speeches!  Kudos to Pete for his Word to His Sister on turning 60, but watch out, speechmakers, Gary is warming to the role and giving you all a run for your money.

      I want to thank each of you for coming and making it a very special day for me. Here are the fabulous pictures:

      This is what 60 looks like!
      The Kids' table

      the happy couple

      Pete's Word to my sister on turning 60

      Joe - back from LV just in time!

      sing it, Chuck!

      Love this lamp for my new computer corner

      Saju Bistro

      Sunday, January 2, 2011

      New Year's Resolution - Part Deux

      Wednesday was the day! Food: check; Clothing: check; Movie schedule: check

      Off and running with a mall mango smoothie for fortification, I entered the 16-plex.  Ticket seller gave me the senior price without me asking--good omen or was it a mistake to wear the velour warmups? First pitfall: my scheduled second movie choice was in Theater 1--all the way across the lobby, a tactical risk. Worse yet, an unanticipated factor: AMC employees must have just finished a customer service training video. I never had so many people saying hello to me and wishing me a nice day, even though I walked with head down and avoided eye contact. Would they remember me six hours later when I was still haunting the hallways?

      My first pick was in lucky screening room 16--all the way down the long corridor, allowing a leisurely look at each theater's movie and next start time. Movie was Black Swan. There's nothing like a psycho sexual thriller at 11:30 a.m. to get the blood pumping.  In fact, when I stopped in the Ladies Room afterwards, I flinched at the rivulet of dark pink liquid soap spilling down the sink, mistaking it for a trail of blood.

      I considered a change in the movie schedule, switching my second and third choices, as I passed the theater for # 3 movie on my way back to the lobby, but the timing was wrong. The coming attractions had eaten up a full 15 minutes and now I had no choice but to cross over to Theater 1.  The garrulous manager with the headpiece was nowhere in sight, so I sidled over to the Ladies Room next to the two lone theaters. The sign over Theater 1 flashed "cleaning", although it was five minutes until showtime. I slipped back into the bathroom for another few minutes and then with my best Pink Panther moves eased into the darkness for True Grit.

      I had just seen the original on tv and they actually stuck pretty close to the same plot, although much was made about the Coen Brothers returning to the original book. "Hey, little sister," Jeff Bridges was good--took ownership of the role that was created by John Wayne. Matt Damon and the girl who played Maddie were also excellent. The tone was still humorous but a more realistic look at the West than the original.

      Time to cross the lobby again, but now at 4:00 p.m., it was getting more crowded. Safety in numbers and I completed movie #3 The Fighter with no problem.  The movie was a surprisingly good fight story,set among the shanty Irish of Lowell, Mass and based on a true story. Great performances by the actors Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams in this dysfunctional family tale of crack addiction, sibling rivalry and eventual redemption.  (It did have the requisite training run through the streets, but no Rocky song or flourishing finish at the top of the museum steps.)

      And then it was time for movie number four. TA DA!  Well, like countless ice skating Olympians before me,  I was forced to substitute the triple for the quad and that spelled an end to my championship dream. I found the training just wasn't there. I was tired and hungry, my back hurt and the choices for number 4 were poor. But I'll be back next year, determined to make the quad.

      On the way out, I realized I had left my purchases from Macy's behind. (probably during the first movie) The security guard said I could go check (Velour warmups open doors)  No luck, but I was philosophical on my long walk back down the corridor. Maybe crime doesn't pay. I knew my brother would be happy that there was some retribution for my lapse in morality--4 movies for the price of one, indeed! I could hear my mother saying "See, God punished you"  and felt that Maddie Ross of True Grit would have approved.

      The guard, however, suggested I check with Guest Services, who asked when I had lost the package. "It was earlier in the day" I replied. "I just came back now."  The Macy's bag appeared from under the counter.  Awesome. Crime does pay!  As I passed the guard, I actually said this:
      "So heartwarming that there are still honest people out there. "  ....just not me! ha!

      I don't know why I get such a kick out of sneaking into the movies. I think that's something you're supposed to do when you're 14 years old. Well, I missed my chance, always being the good girl, so I'm catching up now. Everyone needs their Thelma and Louise moment and you have to admit that sneaking into movies pales in comparison to blowing up a tractor trailer or locking up a highway patrolmen in the trunk of his car, to say nothing of driving into the Grand Canyon!

      Happy New Year to all and let me know your themes for 2011. Mine will be the year of writing...and don't worry, I plan to expand beyond blog posts, so you won't be inundated!