Category Archives: Observe & Ponder

The Fates and the Furies

  The Fates

  The Furies

I love me some mythological figures.

And these days, myth is a whole lot easier to swallow than reality.

And come on, I know I’m not the only one obsessed with Game of Thrones’ Daenerys Targaryen and her three ill-tempered winged dragons.

The stories of Greek mythology have always fascinated me. From heroes and monsters to flying stallions, I found the creatures unnerving yet beguiling.

But none more than the Fates and the Furies.

THE FATES

I’ll start with the Fates: Three sisters, who determined human destinies and affected the paths of all of the universe. The ultimate girl power.

Clotho (The Spinner), Lachesis (The Allotter) and Atropos (The Inflexible) were goddesses of predetermination, spinners of the thread of life and dealers of some crazy karma.

And if you dared to step out of line and make these ladies mad? They didn’t get mad; they got even. Let’s just say karma was a bitch—times three.

Clotho, the youngest of the Fates spun the thread of destiny. Lachesis measured its allotted length, and when she decided that the thread was long enough, she would give the order to Atropos, the oldest of the sisters, to snip the thread with her shears, cruelly cutting through the cord of life.

In older mythology, the Fates were fatherless and created by the goddess Nyx (Night) without the intervention of man.

Clotho (the present), Lachesis (the future), and Atropos (the past) are almost always depicted as weavers of tapestry on a loom, with the tapestry dictating the destinies of men. The threads often appear incredibly delicate and yet we know that only Atropos’ sharp and menacing shears can cut through them. Her ability to end it all suggests the unforgiving power of karma.

THE FURIES

And then there were the Furies: Three furious and infuriated sisters.

Homer mentioned them in the Iliad as daughters of the night who had no pity in their hearts. And in the Odyssey, he referred to them as the “avenging Furies.”

Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone were three powerhouse goddesses who lived in the underworld and exacted vengeance and retribution on wicked men who hurt women and swore false oaths.

The Furies were spawns of earth and sky.

The three daughters were born of Gaia (Mother Earth), who conceived them in the drops of blood from Uranus (Father Heaven) that fell upon her body when he was castrated by his son Cronus with a jagged sickle made of adamant.  Ouch.

Their Latin names translate as follows: Alecto (Unceasing), Megaera (Grudge), and Tisiphone (Retribution).

They were guardians and protectors of the law when the state had not yet intervened or did not exist, or when the offense was a crime of ethics and not actual law.

Their brass wings made escape impossible; their ripping claws made their torment relentless. They would harass and injure their prey but never killed them.

They punished men for crimes against the natural order and were particularly angered by homicide, perjury, and unkind acts against one’s family. The Furies also protected underdogs and social outcasts.

A victim seeking justice could call down the curse of the Furies upon the criminal, the liar, the unethical, and those sisters would get to work.

Now, these are my kind of girls.

Tormentors who pursued unpunished evildoers and relentlessly hounded lying, cheating, unethical men.

The Fates and the Furies: six powerful badass women, who were the embodiment of divine order and law.

We sure could use some avenging and relentless Furies right about now, with a little fateful karma thrown in.

Respect — Just a Little Bit

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that my life was forever changed in the summer of 1967, when I was the ripe young age of fourteen.

1967 was a tumultuous year for me. The rest of America was in a tumult as well, dealing with peace rallies, the Vietnam draft, race riots, and war demonstrations.

A real shitstorm of a year that I wish I could forget.

But what I will always remember was the connection I had with the then unknown Aretha Franklin’s hit song:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.

What R-E-S-P-E-C-T meant to me in 1967 was a hope for dignity, bravery, empowerment, strength, guts, courage, nerve, daring, confidence.  Every time I heard that song, I felt a kinship with it.

A year later, in the late great 1968, Aretha released (You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman, but this time her words did nothing for me.

I was certain that no man could ever make me feel inspired.

But then I heard it on the radio in 1984, and it was like I was hearing it for the first time.

It was a few months after my son was born, and it hit me that I could indeed be inspired by a man. Not as a wife, but as a mother to a son.

When my soul was in the lost and found
You came along to claim it
I didn’t know just what was wrong with me
Till your kiss helped me name it
Now I’m no longer doubtful, of what I’m living for
And if I make you happy I don’t need to do more

Rest in peace Aretha and thank you for inspiring me.

Spring Cleaning Tips

I am writing this blog for my own benefit,  because I know if I write my spring cleaning tips in a post it will be forever immortalized on The Teri Tome.

This way next spring, when I can’t find my spring cleaning check list, I’ll know where to go!

Spring has sprung, and I know what that means.

I’ll be cleaning, and my husband will be…

…I know what I have to do, but I don’t really want to.

And I don’t really need a checklist, because I know the drill.

Wash the windows, wipe down all my ceiling fans and lights, change out the cabinet shelf liners, degrease the kitchen, give the refrigerator a full clean out and clean up, wash the curtains, vacuum under the beds, tip top the bathrooms, degrunge the grout, and so on and on and on.

I’m already exhausted and entirely turned off.

But I gotta do it.

And my husband?

He knows I gotta do it too…

So here are some tips:

Clean your glass shower doors: The easiest way to remove hard water stains and soap scum? Dryer sheets. Yep. Try it. Wet a dryer sheet and working in a circular motion, clean the glass. If a film remains simply wipe it off with a glass cleaner and paper towel.  You can also use dryer sheets (unused or used) to buff spots off mirrors, bathroom, and kitchen fixtures.  They also remove rings around the toilet and are great for baseboard cleaning.

Shower scum: Fill a dish wand with half vinegar and half dish soap. I highly recommend blue Dawn. (Make use the Dawn is blue.) Then scrub away. You can also use an old sponge, Dobie pad, toothbrush or scrub brush and just dip into a cup of the same solution.

Degrunge your tiles and grout: First sweep or vacuum. Mix warm water and powdered oxygen bleach to create a thick paste consistency. Not runny. (OxiClean is the best). Do not use regular bleach. It won’t work. Then apply the bleach paste to the grout with a sponge and let it sit for 5 to 30 minutes. For large surfaces work with small areas, so the solution doesn’t dry on the surface. Then take a scrub brush and tjuz it around. (Or is it zhoozh?) Whatever. You get the point. Then rinse with hot water.  As the grout or tile dries, it will brighten up without the hassle of heavy scrubbing.

Removing mildew from white grout: Try using a bleach pen. This method is tedious, but the payoff is worth it.  Use the pen to draw the bleach into the grout lines. The pen allows you to target the grout without getting bleach all over the tile. Wait 10 minutes and then rinse. For really mildewy grout, you may need a second application. It can also help to gently scrub the bleach into the grout with a toothbrush and then wait the 10 minutes.

Remove stubborn toilet and bathtub rust stains: If you have a lot of iron in your water and struggle with rust stains in your toilet or bathtub, the perfect solution is a product called Acid Magic. Acid Magic is the user friendly Muriatic acid replacement, and is safer because it won’t burn your skin and has up to 90% less fumes. But make sure to take all the precautions you need to, like wearing gloves and safety glasses when using it. To clean rust from toilets and other porcelain surfaces, add three parts water to one part Acid Magic. Apply the mixture to the rust stains with a sprayer, brush or foam pad and watch the stain dissolve. Rinse with clear water. You can also use it full strength for stubborn stains. Avoid getting the acid on metal parts because they can discolor.

Remove tough stains from vinyl flooring: f your vinyl floor has marks or stains that won’t come off, try using Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). Using rubber gloves dampen a white rag and rub it on marks and stains.  Don’t use anything but a white cloth to avoid color staining.

Take advantage of your dishwasher: You can save yourself a ton of time by washing all kinds of stuff in your dishwasher. Be sure there are no plastic parts that won’t be able to withstand the heat and run them through a “normal” washing cycle. Some examples of stuff you can run through your dishwasher on a “normal” cycle: silicone oven mitts and trivets, toys, figurines, kitchen brushes and sponges.

Ceiling fans: Take an old pillowcase and spray the inside with Pledge, Endust or any all-purpose cleaner. Slide the case over the blade and then slowly draw the fabric back. All the dust and dirt will stay in the pillowcase instead of flying everywhere.

Keep your refrigerator squeaky clean: Wash the interior with a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda for every quart of warm water. Loosen hardened spills on fixed parts by wetting the area with the mixture, allowing the residue to soften. Use a toothbrush to scrub crannies.

Lint free television and computer screen cleanup:  Spray a touch of screen cleaner to a coffee filter and wipe away the dust with no lint worries.

Clean your blinds: Combine equal parts water and vinegar in a bowl and get a sock to put over your hand. Dip the sock in the solution and then run it over each slat of the blinds to remove any dirt or dust.

Remove tarnish: Place sterling or plated silver in an aluminum pan. (It must be aluminum.) Sprinkle 1/2 to 1 cup baking soda over the silverware. Keeping the pan in the sink to minimize splashing, pour enough boiling water to cover the utensils. When the tarnish disappears, remove the silverware and buff with a soft cotton cloth.

Wash small neck decanters and pitchers: Fill the bottles with water, drop in a tablet or two of a denture cleaner such as Efferdent, let stand overnight. Then scrub with a narrow nylon brush.

Stainless steel appliances: For an impressively clean shine, put some rubbing alcohol on a soft cloth and wipe those annoying fingerprints away. You can also use a drop or two of olive oil.

Your couch: Baking soda can help remove lingering smells and break up stains on the fabric. Start by brushing off the surface of the couch, then sprinkle baking soda on the area you want to clean. Let it sit for about 20 minutes and then vacuum it up using the brush attachment.

Quick and easy way to clean up dust, dirt, and crumbs:  Use a lint roller to pick up dust, dirt, and crumbs pretty much anything your house.  It’s perfect for lamp shades, drawers, tablecloths, carpets, and window screens. If you have fabric that needs a face lift, lint roller it!

Remove kitchen/bathroom cabinet gunk: Mix together a solution of vegetable oil and baking soda, and then use an old toothbrush to scrub all that gunky stuff out of the corners of cabinet surfaces.

Get your rings to shine again:  The safest way to clean an engagement ring or any other type of ring with precious metals is to mix warm water with a small amount of blue Dawn dishwashing soap and let the ring soak for about 10 to 20 minutes. Then use a soft toothbrush to make it sparkly clean.

Get rid of mold: Clean mold the same way you clean cuts. Mix one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide with one cup of water. Wipe the mixture on the moldy spots and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. Then scrub the area to remove all mold and stains, and wipe down the surface.

Hardwood floors: Make a magic solution by combining 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1 tablespoon castile soap, 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol, with 2 cups warm water. Then pour the mixture into a plastic spray bottle. Apply this cleaner over stained hardwood areas, wipe with a soft cloth and you’ll be amazed at the shiny results. Take special care not to get your floor too wet while cleaning.

Porcelain tile floors: Start by sweeping the floor to remove any dust on the porcelain tiles. You can use a dry dust mop or a vacuum. Use a damp sponge mop and a solution of 1/4 cup of white vinegar to 2 gallons of water.

Quartz countertops: Wipe countertops clean with a damp cloth. Use a mild, nonabrasive detergent soap for deep cleaning.

Erase Scuff Marks: Clean off shoe scuff marks from vinyl flooring with a clean, dry tennis ball. A light rub and heel marks are erased.

Outdoor aluminum chairs: Combine blue Dawn with warm water and scrub with a Dobie pad. Then rinse very well.

Trex Decks:  Combine an equal amount of water and white vinegar and use a soft cloth to remove dirt and grime. Rinse thoroughly after use and do not leave the vinegar in contact with the surface. A nylon scratch pad or toothbrush can be used on harder to clean areas.

Quartz composite sinks: A wipe down with a damp Magic Eraser works every time.

Magic Erasers are indeed magic. You can use them on pretty much anything.

And blue Dawn works miracles on most stains. Just take a white cloth and dab it with a touch of Dawn (only blue), then rinse it off and wait for the shockingly positive results.

Happy cleaning!

Oh, and if I missed anything, please share your cleaning tips with me!

And if you have any brilliant ideas for how to get my husband to help me, fess up!

#NoMakeup

The no makeup trend purportedly started when Alicia Keys announced in May of 2016 that she was quitting makeup—not just in her daily life but also on her airings as a judge on The Voice as well as her professional life.

Lots of celebrities quickly followed suit, inspiring young girls to show off their unfiltered self with boldness, courage, and confidence.

No disrespect to Alicia, and the rest of the VIP’s, but I quit makeup over ten years ago.

Which got me to thinking:

Did I actually start the No Makeup movement?

A few years ago a friend wanted to share something with me, but she didn’t want to hurt my feelings.

I responded with an immediate “please tell,” but was inwardly nervous about what she was going to divulge.

She hesitated awkwardly and then blurted it out.

“You look so much better with makeup.”

My response: “Uh duh. You think I don’t know that? But I like my makeup free look.”

My daily beauty regimen goes like this:

Wake up. Wash my face. Slather on sunscreen. Wash my face. Go to sleep.

I’m not saying I’m anti makeup. Trust me, when I’m in the mood, I can cake it on with the best of them.

But 99% of my life is spent free of anything on my face but SPF 30.

So sorry Alicia, you did not start the no makeup trend. It was Moi!

And I also think I should get credit for the #NaturalBride movement!

Here’s why…

At my then hair salon five or so years ago, a pretty young blonde girl walked in with her mother for a bridal makeup trial. I can still vividly recall that her youthful face was perfection. Her clear, bright skin was dewy and unwrinkled. She had piercing blue eyes and naturally pink lips.  Gorgeous!

The three of us left the salon at the same time. I hated my hair, and there was no denying from her body language, Miss Bride-To-Be hated her makeup.

She looked older, and her face was laminated with a combo of foundation and blush. Her eyes were darkly lined and thickly mascaraed, their cerulean color barely discernible. And her ruby red lip corners turned down in sadness.

For whatever reason, she asked for my opinion. Her fretting mother looked miserable.

“What do you think?” I asked the once fresh-faced, soon to be bride back at her.

“I feel clownish and way too done-up,” she whimpered. “I barely recognize myself.”

Pathetically, she looked to her mom, who in turn looked to me and asked, “What do you think?”

Now, if you know me at all, my mantra is this:

You may not like what I have to say, but you’ll always know where I stand. So, if you don’t want to know what I think, don’t ask.   

They both asked, so I went in for the kill.

“When you first walked in, you were beautiful, fresh, and natural. Now? Not so much.”

I looked from daughter to mother, and no one was crying, so I plowed on.

“Why not go for a touch of mascara, a tint of blush, some lip gloss, and be done?”

Mother and daughter looked at me like I created a miracle, collectively shouting “YES!” and then gave me a too long and too hefty of a hug.

Awkward!

But I bet she made a beautiful bride.

#TeriStartedIt

Fifty Shades of Grey (Paint)

One of my Facebook friends thought I made a typo when I wrote that I was going through a kitchen takeover instead of a kitchen makeover.

I made no typographical error.

If you have ever renovated a kitchen, you know the drill.

TAKEOVER!!!!!

Let’s start from the very beginning.

I have always dreamed of having a white kitchen.

I know what you’re thinking. Get a life. People are starving. In places.

It’s lame. I get it. But that was my if-I-ever-had-the-pleasure-of-renovating-my-kitchen dream, so try not to judge me too harshly.

As it happened, when we were looking for houses in the mid 90’s, the house we now live in had a white kitchen, and I took it as a sign. Sold!

So 22 years ago, my kitchen was my favorite non color but admittedly long in the tooth. It had white Formica cabinets, counters, and back splash.

It was worn out, but it was white, and I was happy. Having spent my earlier years in a Bridgeport Connecticut tenement, I was living the dream.

Fast forward 22 years…

I finally convinced (okay more like coerced) my husband into renovating the original-to-the-house kitchen. And I knew from the get go, that it was going to be white.

My contractor, cabinet guy, plumber and some of my peeps tried to talk me out of it, telling me white was passé.  They all had their opinions about white being cold, hard to keep clean, and sooo past tense.

But for anyone who knows me, I tend to march to the beat of my own drum.

Tell me something is passé, not in, or past tense, I could give a you-know-what.

I have no interest in keeping up with the Joneses—or anybody else for that matter.

Passé? Past tense you say? Don’t care.

I was going for the whole white shebang. Passé shmasse.

White floor, white cabinets, white counter tops, white faucets. That’s what I wanted. And that’s what I was going to get.

Oh and I decided to throw in a white high gloss exterior door and matching white high gloss window trim, and white eggshell walls and ceilings.

Okay, if you’re rolling your eyes over the white on white on white, even I will admit that my obsession with white was a tad too much.

So along the way I made an executive decision to get off the all white kick—change it up.

…and go with a grey wall.

To be precise,  white on white on white with two and a half walls of grey.

The white part was easy peasy.

I ordered white high gloss cabinets, white quartz counter tops and matching back splash, white hardware, and a white porcelain floor.

The grey walls? Not so easy.

Once I decided on grey, I began my usual laser focused OCD-ish quest for the perfect grey.

This was easier said than done.

What I discovered was that the color grey is elusive, schizophrenic, unreliable, misleading, two-faced, three-faced.

Yet warm, inviting, calming and cool.

There are indeed fifty shades of grey. Or is it gray?

Thus began the process of priming and painting, and priming and painting and then priming some more. I could NOT find a grey that I liked.

The first time I walked into my local paint store I told the salesman I was looking for grey paint.

He looked at me in semi disgust. “Which one?” he asked me as he intently picked paint chips off the front counter.

“I don’t know, you tell me. I’m just looking for a regular old grey,” I responded.

“Good luck with that.” He said under his breath as I strained to hear what he was saying.

I had no idea how accurate this salesman’s words would end up being.

I showed him a photo on my phone of a grey kitchen wall I liked.

He squinted at the image and then muttered four words: Barren Plain and Wish.

I asked him if that was one color or two. He answered me so softly that I had to ask him twice.  Even after answering me again, I still couldn’t hear him.

So instead of asking him a third time, I filled up the space with nonsensical talk about my counters and back splash, blabbing about how I was told that quartz is the new granite, droning on about my peninsula, my hardware, blah blah and blah.

By the time I finished my verbal dissertation he was at the other end of the store whipping up my paint.

I took the sample size paints home and had my contractor put them on two pieces of wall board.

I then intensely inspected both of them. Intensely being the operative word.

Barren Plain (2111-60) didn’t look grey at all. At first, I thought it looked beige, but then when I looked at it for like the 30th time, it didn’t really seem like beige either.

I went online and looked up the color, and one blogger called it greige—a combo of grey and beige.

Get out the primer!

Then I moved on to Wish (AF-680).  I was hopeful about Wish because as a wordsmith, I tend to find signs and meanings behind words.

And for whatever reason, I felt a kinship with the name. Wishful thinking because it did not work out at all. I wish I never tried it. It was a weird taupey color. Something you might find in a diaper. Not what I was going for at all.

More primer!

I then trudged back into my paint store lugging the two pieces of Barren Plain and Wish painted wall boards, and shared my misery with the salesman who recommended the two shades of grey in the first place.

“Why do the colors look one way on the swatch and another way on the wall? Why does the paint stick not match the paint on the wall? And why do the greys look one color on one wall and another color on the other wall?”

The salesman shrugged and said, “That’s grey for you.”

I found his answer to be wholly unhelpful.

My response? “Anastasia of Fifty Shades, the novel, said it best. Oh, my.”

He looked at me blankly. He apparently had never read Fifty. And he was also apparently not feeling my paint pain.

We stared at each other awkwardly.

“I mean,” I finally said, breaking the silence. “Why is grey such a problem?”

He looked at me like “duh.”

“It’s all about the LRV,” Mr. non personality blurted out, rolling his eyes before he turned his back on me to help another customer.

“The wha?”

He was preoccupied ringing up customer B, so he didn’t respond.

So I asked again.

“The SUV?”

“The LRV. The light reflectance value,” he said with some annoyance as he rang up customer C.

“Can you write that down for me?” I asked him.

“Are you serious?” he asked me.

“Well yeah, I need to look up that thing you said.”

“LRV,” he repeated as he wrote it down.

“No, not the letters, the words of it,” I said leaning in to see what he was scribbling.

He looked up and gave me an awful look.

“Would this be a bad time to ask for a couple more grey suggestions?” I asked him tentatively.

He walked into an office behind the counter.

I wasn’t sure if I should take that as a yes or a no.

He came back with a piece of paper with two lines of words on it.

I read the words out loud to no one in particular: “Stonington Gray and Gray Owl?”

“And is it G-R-E-Y  or G-R-A-Y?”

When I looked up, he was gone.

“HELLO? HELLOOOO?”

The salesman popped his head out from a back room. He was visibly aggravated. “I’m on lunch.”

“Okay, could you just whip me up these gray-with-an-A paints real quick?”

He zhoozhed up two pint size cans of paint. As he took my twenty dollar bill, I asked him what his name was. He said it softly, and as I strained to hear, I had to ask him a second time.

“Okay thanks for your help Robert,” I chirped as I walked out with my “grays.”

I ran home and tried both paints on some wall scraps I found in my garage.

Then I googled “light reflectance value.”  The first article I found was titled: “LRV and why you should NEVER choose a paint color without it.”

NEVER?

The article read more like a science experiment, full of incomprehensible information like: A color’s Light Reflectance Value (LRV) measures the amount of visible and usable light that reflects from or absorbs into a painted surface.  LRV is measured on a scale that ranges from zero (absolute black, absorbing all light and heat) to 100 percent (pure white, reflecting all light).

What?

Oh, and there was an app I could buy called LRV Guru which assists with calculating color contrast ratios and would do the math for me.

Wait. Now there’s math involved?

This LRV thing was getting way too complicated, so I went back to painting wall scraps.

Stonington Gray (HC 170) was too blue. Urgh.

Gray Owl (2137-60) was a nice gray but slightly darker than I wanted. I moved around the sample scraps from wall to wall. Gray Owl on the wall with the three windows looked great, but on the wall with no light, it looked dullish. “That damn LRV,” I mumbled under my breath.

I was all but giving up, thinking maybe I should just go with Gray Owl and be done with it. I was running out of time. Plus I was running out of wall boards.

My husband nixed the Gray Owl, so I was back to the drawing board or should I say painting board.

I drove over to Home Depot and found a paint swatch there that I liked. I then headed directly over to my not-so-trusty paint store.

My not-so-favorite salesman was having lunch. Again.

“Hi, Robert!” I said overly loudly, feigning enthusiasm. “I’m baaaack!”

He looked up from his sandwich and said: “It’s Richard.”

“Oh okay, Richard. So when you’re done eating can I show you a swatch I found at Home Depot?”

“Home Depot don’t carry Benjamin Moore,” he said in between munches.

“Yes, I know, but can you try to match the swatch up with something nice for me?” I asked him gingerly.

I think I was getting on Robert’s nerves. I mean Richard.

“Pleeeeease?”

He put down his sandwich and concocted something called Graceful Gray (PPV18-12).

I thanked him profusely and ran home to paint it out. But Graceful Gray was a very dark taupey greigy color. I was all but losing hope.

On the way back to the paint store I picked up a Caramel Brulée Latte at Starbucks for Richard. I was hoping that maybe a bribe in the form of a coffee would help me to get the grey/gray I so desired.

I ran into the paint store, Starbucks gift in hand.

Richard was very excited about the coffee concoction, and in between sips he gave me the inside scoop about lightening or darkening gray with percentages of other colors.  Then he confided in me that most people call him Dick.

Did that mean I had to call him Dick? I so preferred Richard.

And the Latte was a huge success because Dick was impressively accommodating and very full of a lot of words. He also happened to have a beautiful smile.

He worked up two versions of the same color: Classic Gray and Classic Gray darkened by 25%. Maybe it was the caffeine, but Dick was a new sales man.

I quickly paid him and drove off to do my painting thing.

The Classic Gray (OC 23) was a warm gray but had a purple undertone. I really wanted this color to work. But the purple was literally bouncing off the walls.

The LRV was B-A-D.

I was hopeful that the Classic Gray darkened by 25% would result in a bit more contrast with a little less purple. Nope. Didn’t work.

The following morning I dejectedly drove back to see Dick. This time armed with a Starbuck’s Caramel Macchiato and a blueberry muffin with yogurt and honey.

When he saw me walk in his face lit up. “I knew you’d be back. And I think I found the grey for you. 1611. Gray Tint.”

As the machine shook up 1611, Dick sipped on his Macch and chattered away, telling me among other things that his mother calls him Dicky. Or is it Dickie?

As I paid for the paint pint I was thinking to myself. Really? Gray Tint?

Why didn’t Dick think of this in the first place?

Gray. Tint.

A tint of Gray.

Come on Dicky. You should have thought of this one right out of the grey gate.

I was hopeful as I watched my contractor paint the wall next to the window.  The gray lived up to its name and indeed had a tint—of lavender, which happens to be my favorite color, so I took it as a sign.

Each wall looked slightly different, but the hues were all warm and a lovely contrast to the white window trim and ceiling.

LRV and all, it was perfect!

(There is a part two to this story, which is that after the painting was completed, I discovered that the white porcelain floor was laid down incorrectly and had to be ripped up. As flooring experts marched in and out of my house, they all agreed on the same two things: My beautiful and expensive white floor had to be trashed, and the color should be changed up. To what else? Grey! I mean Gray!)

Every Shoe Tells a Story


I recently spent a euphoric family sleepover weekend at home with my loved ones.

In the middle of a sleepless night, as my loved ones slept, I passed the pile of shoes near the front door and was compelled to photograph them.

Proof that although I was stressed and sleepless, love was all around me.

The image of my families’ footwear told the story, without my having to say one word.

The adult female and male shoes, baby girl shoes, and little boy shoes, helter skelter in the entrance way was the dead giveaway that a lot of my favorite people were “in the house.”

As I recently combed through my phone photos, the shoe image jumped out causing me to pause and reflect on the whole shoe thing.

Shoes can speak volumes about a person and their personality. And shoes can often times speak for themselves.

They can also serve as a symbol for family gatherings, historical events, and more.

No matter what the situation, shoes will most likely tell a story.

Where have your shoes taken you? What do your shoes say about you? If someone were to spend a day in your shoes, what would they experience?

Early in my life, I recall feeling horribly embarrassed by my shoes. Many of them had been purchased at the Salvation Army, and because my feet were so big (I still wear close to a size 9), I often wore boys shoes.

And everyone has heard the old adage: You can tell a man by his shoes.

Two starkly different perceptions are conjured up in my head when thinking about my view of shoes: The dark vs. the lighter visual.

The light side first:

My babies’ first pair of shoes. (How I wish I would have bronzed them). My daughter’s orthopedic ankle-high boot that attached to a bar brace at night, ballet slippers, tap shoes, and her first pair of heels. My son’s first pair of soccer cleats, ice skates, and wing tips. And all those uber-expensive sneakers the kids insisted they had to have because everyone else was wearing them.

My despised but admittedly comfortable saddle shoes I was forced to wear at Saint Ambrose Catholic School for eight long years, my white go-go boots, penny loafers, and Mary Jane’s.

My first pair of designer shoes; Manolo Blahnik’s bought in error. After an afternoon of champagne celebrating at the Four Seasons, I saw a gorgeous pair of black bowed heels in a store window. When I tried them on they fit like a glove. I thought the price on the box said $77.00. I charged them in my champagne stupor, and only realized on the train ride home that my receipt said $770.00. Non-refundable.  What a difference a 0 can  make.

If you are a regular reader of my blog posts, you know there will always be the darker, more sinister side of things.

The dark side now:

I insisted on burying my grandmother in her slippers because she always complained that her bunions were killing her. Except lung cancer killed her in the end.

On 9/11, as the towers burned and then crumbled, women yanked off their high-heels so they could flee the cataclysm as quickly as possible. Heels don’t make for fast running. A pink spike here, a wing tip there.

Blood-stained, dusty, almost-unrecognizable shoes from that unfathomable Tuesday. One woman got her shoe and foot caught in a piece of twisted steel and thought she would die there. Someone helped to free her foot, and she recovered her shoe. He saved her life but she never found him to offer her thanks. Maybe he died.

Others discarded their shoes as they trudged through stairwells flooded with water from fire sprinklers. And the entire floor of the Battery Park tunnel was strewn with shoes from people taking them off to run as fast as fast could run.

A grisly photograph sent to me by a colleague of a pile of bloody shoes belonged to victims from a site of a terrorist blast in Kabul, Afghanistan on July 23, 2016.  Some still had bodiless feet and legs attached to them.

On a visit to D.C., a lone pair of dirty old boots left at the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

And the hundreds of shoes piled high at the Washington, D.C. Holocaust Museum. In a room full of smelly, nauseatingly musty shoes. Heels, flats, sandals, loafers, wide, narrow, old, new, worn, withered, scuffed, colorful, dark, white, leather, cloth. Men’s and women’s shoes.

And baby shoes. Lots and lots of baby shoes. A mountain of baby shoes. No missed bronzing opportunities for them.

On the wall of the shoe room was the following poem by Moses Schulstein:

We are the shoes. We are the last witnesses.
We are shoes from grandchildren and grandfathers
From Prague, Paris, and Amsterdam.
And because we are only made of fabric and leather
And not of blood and flesh,
Each one of us avoided the Hellfire.

 

 

 

 

 

Whatever Happened to Steak and Champagne in Coach?

Before the Arline Deregulation Act of 1978, the government was in full control of what the airline industry charged for seats, and which routes they received.

The only way for airlines’ to compete against each other, was to offer the best customer service and flying experience they could.

As a Delta Airlines flight attendant in the early 70’s, I worked hard for the money.

Back in 1972 Delta offered a complimentary filet mignon steak dinner and all-you-can-drink champagne in coach.  Business boomed as flyers flocked to Delta for patience, empathy, a man size slab of beef, and bottomless bubbly.

I’ll share that nightmare job with you in some other blog post.

Delta’s advertising back then boasted that their flight attendants “walk over five miles on a typical flight.”

And trust me, I’m sure I did.

“She hangs your coat, offers you a pillow, comes around with magazines, briefs you on safety procedures, brings you your choice of drinks, serves your meal, pours your wine, answers your questions, helps your children, refills your coffee cup, points out landmarks, takes your tray and brings you your coat. And she takes it all in stride.”

(Not to mention, service with a smile, even when the men would pinch my butt, not once but numerous times.)

Delta hyped us as attractive, considerate, courteous, kind, orderly, personable, poised, polite, truly dedicated and goes far beyond the call of duty.

(I’d certainly call letting passengers pinch my butt going far, far beyond the call of duty.)

And as if their ads weren’t sexist enough, Delta came out with a targeted campaign for U.S. military personnel, offering them a 50% discount for “The guy who’s got a girl in every city.” The ad displayed six bathing suit clad women with names like “Your Chicago cutie,” “Your San Francisco sweetie,” or “Your New York knockout.”

I kid you not. And so you don’t think I am exaggerating, take a look at the ads for yourself:

But nothing could beat the sexist “Fly Me” advertising campaign that National Airlines rolled out with just around the same time.

National offered up their modelesque flight attendants as part of the airline travel experience. The company painted the ladies’ first names on every plane and mandated that the attendants wear “Fly Me” buttons during in-flight service.

And when their revenues increased by 23% as a result of their advertising, National upped the sexual innuendos in their ads by having their flight attendants look seductively into the camera, and softly whisper, “I’m going to fly you like you’ve never been flown before.”

We’ve certainly come a long way from the 70’s.

Fast forward to 2017.

Children with peanut allergies and their families are roughly removed from planes, a young mother who is trying to manage twin babies is hit in the head with a stroller, a 69-year-old man suffers serious injuries after being slammed and dragged off a plane to accommodate an airline employee.

Good ole deregulation.

And if you’re lucky enough to survive an airline personnel bully, you still have to be jammed into a packed plane, with no leg room and no food. And how about the dreaded reclining seats?

I wish the airlines would wake up and make the seats immovable. Why they think there is any available space for reclining is beyond me.  It just makes the ride that much more unpleasant.

And I hope that passengers continue to record the antics of airline personnel bullies and to stand up and say something if they see something.

I don’t expect to dine on steak and champagne in coach, but I’m tired of being treated like a piece of meat.

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Hamlet, in the Shakespearean play of the same name, was despondent and feigning when he declared: “To sleep, perchance to dream–ay, there’s the rub…”

The prince contemplated suicide, although in the end he was poisoned by Laertes, and not by his own hand.

I have always preferred my own interpretation of Hamlet’s words though: That a sleep full of dreams might help to offset troubles and sufferings in life.

A pair of papers was recently published in the journal Science, offering evidence that we sleep to forget some of the things that happen to us each day.

Sleep to forget. Maybe that’s all that the heartbroken Hamlet wanted to do, and then, perchance, to dream.

I am not a good sleeper. I lay awake each and every night with a million thoughts running in and out of my brain.

And when I am lucky enough to catch a break, and fall into a deep sleep, I have some sicko, frightful, extremely detailed dream that never seems to end.

Most times I forget them by morning, although when the dreams wake me up in the middle of the night, with my body drenched in sweat, and my heart pounding out of my chest, I recall them all too vividly. And as I lay there shaking in my bed, I analyze what in my life is causing such terrifying phantasms.

People have been pondering the meaning of dreams for centuries. Sigmund Freud’s theory centered around the idea that dreaming allows for the sorting through of unresolved events, and/or repressed issues.

Sleep to forget. Dream to sort through issues.

I recently purchased a book about interpreting dreams. My interest was less about the interpretation and more about Freud’s take on things: Produce a dream based upon a particular issue or event.

There was a section in the book that provided instruction on how to provoke a dreaming state of mind.

Remarkably, I was successfully able to sleep, and then elicit, not one but five dreams using the techniques from the book.

Here’s how I did it.

The book first emphasized that unemotional focus was key, and that it may take several nights in a row to produce the dreaming state, although it took me only one.

It was also recommended to view any problems or events from a distance.

Additionally, the book suggested that if you didn’t have a specific problem or dilemma, but just wanted to look farther into the future, the same process would apply.

The most important part of the exercise was not to think too hard or worse, overly obsess about the issue at hand, because that would only thwart sleep, and result in wakefulness.

The advice was to analyze the event or problem from an objective point of view and purposefully remove yourself from the issue altogether.

The goal was not to try to solve anything, but instead to focus on the issue itself, in the hopes of working through it in your dream state.

The bottom line was to specifically focus on what it was you wanted to zero in on before you fell asleep.

And most importantly, make sure to keep a pen and paper next to your bed so you can write down all of the elements and particulars about your dream as soon as you awake.

Since dreams are mostly fleeting, they need to be written down in as much detail as possible.

So that first night, prior to falling asleep, I placed a pen and some paper on my nightstand. Then I tried to remove all thoughts from my mind and as the book instructed, forced myself to totally relax.

Next I thought about something that had been bothering me terribly, but I did it without emotion, and didn’t try to solve anything.

And I didn’t place any blame or ask myself why it was happening.

I merely pinpointed the issue, and then began to analyze some of the aspects of the situation.

I first asked myself what the dilemma was about. Then I asked myself how it made me feel, and who was involved.

As I organized my thoughts and feelings, I kept pushing and pressing my psyche to gain clarity through slumber.

And then I must have fallen asleep.

Because I need to protect my situations and events, as well as the people involved, I am going to be somewhat vague about the dreams I had.

But I will tell you that there was nothing remotely vague about my dreams that night. And my five dreams were broken up. I had one, and then wrote that one down. I was awake enough to write, and excited at the eliciting of the dream itself.

And then I had the second and third together. And once I wrote those down, I fell into a deep sleep, and then came the fourth and then the fifth dreams, which I wrote down, quickly falling asleep in between them.

When I awoke the next morning, I was well rested but at first extremely disoriented and groggy.

I had all but forgotten the dreams until I read what I had written down, and was stunned that the entire night of dreams shockingly tied in with many of the situations I so desperately needed to sort through.

Here they are:

Dream One: There were two calendar dates, one was in March, the other in July. In my dream I was very afraid I would forget them both. One seemed more important than the other, and in the dream I actually analyzed whether there was really only one date that I needed to focus on, but just in case, and to cover any possibility, I needed to remember both. I was obsessed with the dates.

[I can only tell you here that I woke up at about 2 a.m. and wrote both dates down. The date in March turned out to be freakily significant. Since the other date doesn’t happen until July, I won’t know if it is significant or not.]

Dream Two: It was a bad storm, and the rain was whipping like this: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Blinding, crazy rain. I needed to get to the beach, to be with a girl. I didn’t know who the girl was, but she was important to me. I knew I shouldn’t drive in such bad weather, but it was imperative that I be with this girl.  I kept asking myself that once I got to the girl, how would we be able to sit outside in this violent tempest? I kept asking myself that question over and over again. The wind and rain would make it extremely dangerous to travel, but I felt I had to go, that I needed to go, no matter what.

Dream Three: I was standing on a balcony, high up in a building, staring at the churning ocean. There was a path in between the water and the building. A path of sand.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

water

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

l                         l

l                         l

l                         l

l mom/child l

l                         l

l                         l

l                         l

_____________________________________________________________                                                                                                                       me
______________________________________________________________

A mother and her child were walking toward the building. I didn’t know them but I was nervous that they should get away from the water, get closer to the building. The water was rough, and I was afraid for them.

Dream four: I told a loved one (I will call the loved one “X”) that I was going on vacation. X called me on the phone to say that while I was away X was going to have a few friends over. I told X that I didn’t care about the friends coming over but that I needed to trust X and that X needed to be responsible. I told X that X never calls and the last time I saw X was over a year ago. I started to cry and told X I needed to get off the phone.

Dream five: A woman got a disease on a ship and a man was sitting next to her and consoling her. He put a blanket on her and set it up like a tent to keep her warm and then sat under it with her. He kept talking to her and reassuring her. Then some boat staff came by and said they had to remove all of the dead bodies. The woman thought she was alive, but they thought she was dead. They poured gasoline everywhere, on suitcases that were strewn all around, and on the deck, as well, and were getting ready to light everything up. As the woman watched, they pulled the man away.

[Even though my dreams were frightening, I woke up calm, and at peace and I am looking forward to trying it again tonight.]

Happy 90th Birthday Sidney Poitier


On February 20, 1927, Sidney Poitier was born in Miami, Florida. His parents were poor immigrant farmers from the Bahamas, where he and his family eventually returned.

When he was 15, he moved back to Florida, eventually making his way to New York’s Harlem where he became a dishwasher.

He served in the army, and then joined the American Negro Theater working there as a janitor in exchange for drama training.

In 1961, while the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was organizing the “Freedom Ride” Poitier appeared in his first major movie appearance when he played Walter Lee Younger in A Raisin in the Sun. While Poitier’s fictional character was mired in neighborhood tensions over interracial population in Chicago, the original Freedom Riders were being beaten by mobs in several places, including Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama.

The movie was terrific, but Poitier and the film didn’t get much attention. If you haven’t seen the movie, I strongly urge you to do so.

Two years later, a quarter of a million people participated in the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, and heard Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech.

That same year, Poitier starred as Homer Smith in the 1963 movie Lilies of the Field, and he was finally recognized as the star he was. The story of an African American itinerant worker who encounters a group of East German nuns in Arizona, who believe Smith has been sent to them by God to build them a new chapel, hit moviegoers hard.

I will never forget the last scene of the film, with Smith slipping quietly away into the night.

I recall my mom weeping next to me in the theater, and my grandmother later telling me “things were changing.”

Changing, indeed. The movie debuted just one month before Kennedy’s assassination.

Poitier’s role as Smith earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor, making him the first African-American man to win the honor.

I saw both movies as a child, but to be honest, I was too young to fully understand the importance of the films, or how talented Poitier was.

It wasn’t until 1967 when I was fourteen that I fell in love with Poitier in his role as a high school teacher in To Sir With Love, a British drama film that dealt with social and racial issues in an inner city school.

It was also in 1967 that the changing times had divided most Americans into “them” and “us.”  Following a police raid on a black power hangout, Detroit erupted into the worst race riots our country had ever experienced, with 43 people dead—33 African Americans and 10 whites. Hundreds of racial disturbances were reported across the country that year, including major riots in Tampa, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Newark, Plainfield and Brunswick, New Jersey, which killed at least 83 people. It was also the year that Muhammad Ali, formerly Cassius Clay, was stripped of his heavyweight boxing title for resisting military draft as a Muslim minister in the Nation of Islam.

I am embarrassed to say that at the time I didn’t fully comprehend any of it.

But To Sir With Love left an indelible mark on me and forever changed my view of black vs. white.

Poitier played teacher Mark Thackeray, and it was the first crush I ever had on an actor.

I can still vividly recall when at their end of the school year class dance there was a “ladies choice,” and tough girl Pamela chose Thackeray as her dance partner. That scene hands down just blew me away.

The film’s title song “To Sir With Love,” sung by Lulu (who played the unforgettable Barbara Pegg in the movie), reached number one on the U.S. pop charts.  I can’t tell you how many thousands of times I played that 45 record. (See the YouTube video of it below.)

In the same year, Poitier followed up with In the Heat of the Night and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, where he starred opposite Katharine Hepburn, as a black man in love with a white woman.

Art indeed imitated life—the film debuted the same year that the Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage in the landmark case Loving v. Virginia.

The lyrics of To Sir With Love ended with “A friend who taught me right from wrong
and weak from strong, that’s a lot to learn.”

But if I’ve learned anything, it’s something my French-American grandmother used to tell me over and over again: Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.   The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Happy 90th Birthday Sidney.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8-M_wg8AI4

Drinking Alcohol. How Much Is Too Much?

I recently went to my allergist to be retested for certain fruits that have lately been causing me extreme stomach pain, lip throbbing, nausea, and internal palpitations.

As I breezed through filling out the medical forms, one question, in particular, gave me pause. How many alcoholic beverages do you have a week on average? I lied. Bigly.

After my tests, my doctor wrote down the following fruits to avoid: Cherries, blackberries, peaches, plums, and grapes.

She further explained that as part of getting older, my body chemistry is going through a change, thus all of the new allergies I have developed. The cursed female change wasn’t enough? And hello. DID MY ALLERGIST JUST SAY TO AVOID GRAPES?????

“What about wine?” I asked her hesitantly.

“Yeah, I’d definitely stay away from wine for a while,” she said like it was no biggie.

Whoa. Stay away from the vino?

Before I could fully process her suggestion, my allergist followed it up with: “As a matter of fact, I would like you to stay away from all alcoholic beverages for at least a month.”

I was speechless, so I just gave her a super ugly grimace.

Yikes! Her dictate swirled around in my head. This is what she’s asking me to do a week before Christmas???????

Could I actually go cold turkey for a whopping four weeks?

Okay, maybe I could, but definitely not until after the New Year.

After the New Year, I reiterated to myself. But not a day before.

Okay, so I’m at the allergist because my stomach pain is so bad I can’t sleep, I’m throwing up in the middle of the night, my lips are regularly throbbing and swelling, and I have an incessant metal taste in my mouth.

And I’m resisting my doctor’s recommendation, because?

My brain was turning and churning. As I mentally processed if, how and when to stop drinking, I asked myself: Why do I drink?

Easy enough to answer.

I drink to relax, I drink to celebrate. I drink to calm down. I drink when I’m lonely. I drink because it’s hump day, Friday and Saturday. I drink because it’s Monday. I drink because it’s snowing, storming, sunny, cloudy. I drink because it’s my birthday. I drink because it’s someone else’s birthday. I drink because it’s Mother’s Day. I drink because it’s Father’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve… Dang, I drink for any old reason.  Plain and simple: I like to drink…in a boat, with a goat, in the rain, on a train, in a house, with a mouse. Here there and anywhere.

My allergist interrupted my rambling thoughts: “It seems to me that you’re unnecessarily obsessing over my suggestion. If having a drink is that big of a deal, and you can’t let it go, then have one drink, and don’t beat yourself up over it.”

Gee, thanks, Doc. One measly cocktail.

I responded to my doctor with: “One drink a day? One drink a month? Define one drink.”

“Remember that this is your decision and your decision alone,” she replied. “You’re in control.”

“I’m not sure I am in control,” I weakly blurted out, shocking myself at my honest candor.

And therein was the elephant-in-the-room question: Was I in control of my drinking or was my drinking in control of me?

“Go home, think about it, and do some research,” my allergist suggested as she led me out of her office.

And as most of you know, I am the fact-finding Queen. So I dug right in…

Below is everything I wanted or needed to know about alcohol abuse but was afraid (or just didn’t give a hoot) to ask:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, moderate drinking is defined as up to 7 drinks a week for women and 14 drinks per week for men. [There goes that gender gap again.]

Heavy drinking is defined as consuming 8 or more drinks per week for women, and 15 or more drinks per week for men. [Eight lousy drinks per week? Uh-oh.]

Binge drinking, the most common form of excessive drinking, is defined as consuming 4 or more drinks during a single occasion for women, and 5 or more drinks during a single occasion for men. [Do the number of hours per a single occasion change this statistic up at all?]

In the United States, a standard drink contains 1.2 tablespoons of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in:

  • 12-ounces of beer (5% alcohol content). [Don’t drink it. Don’t care.]
  • 8-ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content). [What’s a malt?]
  • 5-ounces of wine (12% alcohol content). [Aren’t there 8 fluid ounces to a cup?]
  • 5-ounces of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey). [Yikes, no wonder those martinis always do me in.]

Most people who drink excessively are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent.  [Whew. Good to know.]

The economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in 2010 were estimated at $249 billion, or $2.05 a drink. [what’s a couple of bucks here and there?]

Okay, I was on a research roll. So I kept on trolling:

    • Do you really want a drink or are you drinking out of habit? [To be clear, I really want a drink.]
    • We live in a very boozy world. [You got that right Jack!]
    • Being sober does not mean you have to spend the rest of your days living like a nun. [Then why am I feeling one with Mother Theresa?]
    • If you look carefully, you’ll see there are loads of people out there leading full and happy lives without alcohol. [Carefully is the operative word.]
    • A glass of wine has similar calories to a slice of cake. [I’d rather drink my calories. Just sayin.]
    • The body can’t store alcohol, so it metabolizes it right away and gives it priority slowing down your metabolism. [As Bob Dylan would say: The slowest now will later be fast.]
    • The Arthritis Foundation has linked alcohol to inflammation of the joints resulting in arthritis. [So what if I can’t open a jar? That’s what husbands are for.]

All kidding aside, after my extensive research, I decided to dip my probably arthritic toe into the no alcohol water. No plunging head first for me, though. Not yet anyway.

Starting today, until January 2nd, I have imposed a new alcohol rule on myself: No more than one glass of wine a day, any three days per week. And never two days in a row. So the end result is that I am going to consume no more than three glasses of wine per week through January 1st. Yes, I can, yes I can.

Okay, I hope I can, I hope I can.

And on January 2nd? I’ll keep you posted on that.