Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wilkommen Back

For many, many years, I have held one piece of theater deep in my heart and without a nanno-second of hesitation, if asked, I will tell you that Cabaret is my absolute favorite.  No, I did not see the first performances on Broadway when it opened in 1966.  Joel Grey was in that show and made history as the Emcee to end all Emcee's.  I did not get on the Cabaret jag until I saw the 1972 film version for the first time. Joel Grey and Liza Minnelli were THRILLING in their roles. She was, and always will be, Sally Bowles and Joel Grey nailed that role, holy cow, did he ever.

 Michael York was a new-comer in that film and he, in the Clifford Bradshaw (as an Englishman) role, was magnificent.  His adorable face and his sexy voice left me very much in love with him and wanting to hit Sally in the head for dumping this beautiful and innocent man who showed her unconditional love.  Shame on you, Sally.

Way back there in the late nineties, the show came back to town and found a home at a theater that was re-named  "Studio 54", a perfect venue in that it allowed part of the audience to sit at tables, as if in the Kit Kat Klub. When my big night came, it was wonderful.  The make up, costumes, sets and performers were spot on. The ticket prices, which ranged between $2.85 and a whopping $7.50 in 1965, were considerably higher.  All the elements were in place and we hardly, understand that I am not saying that lightly, missed Joel Grey.  We had us a new Sally.  In fact, we had a host of Sallies, but the one I saw was a very, very good bad-girl.  The Kit Kat Klub was perfectly portrayed and cabaret life was beautiful...."the girls" were beautiful. We got the feeling that the world outside this cabaret was not beautiful.  Even though we knew the Third Reich was very, very close, we genuinely got the feeling that we were safe and everyone in our cabaret had the right to do whatever they desperately wanted, with "desperate" being the operative word.  Germany was, after all, falling apart at the seams and Hitler was beginning his charismatic crusade.  Those inside the cabaret did not know that tomorrow did not really belong to them.  The theater was working her magic and I was totally embraced by her powerful arms.  The final scene, when the cruel reality of the rise of Hitler makes itself understood, left me speechless and and indelible mark found its way to my brain.

Fast forward if you will, to last Saturday night and find me again in a seat at Studio 54, next to one of my two best pals, another Cabaret devotee.  We were psyched and ready for what we were sure would be the best performance in history.  Our two seats, not in the orchestra, now cost almost as much as a year of my high school tuition without exaggeration.  So, how was it?  Not as great as we had anticipated.  While Allan Cumming did deliver, brilliantly, he seemed a tad bit bored with his job.  He played almost entirely to the orchestra seats (I know, they were supposed to be "in" the Kit Kat Klub but. hello, we're here).  Maybe I expected too much, but, other than his presence on the stage, I felt that this was an amateur production, that the Kit Kat girls were at best pre-professionals, and Bill Heck was a poor excuse for the love interest of the biggest disappointment, Michelle Williams as Sally Bowles.  She totally lacked whatever it took to convince me that she was the best choice for the role.  I'm not a theater critic by any stretch of the imagination but I did find my thoughts matching what I later read.  The thought "dressed for the prom" was validated by more than one report, leaving me to question over and over why such a major role should be handed over to an actor for a Broadway debut.  Seriously?

I recently heard that - don't faint if you love New York as I do - the Broadway show might become extinct. It's so hard to believe but, as I looked back at the original scenes, even at the revivals, I note that there were so many more cast members, giving each production number amazing clout.  It was less costly.  Seats were affordable.  Salaries were lower.  People were more relaxed.  Expectations were lower.  We left our troubles and disappointments outside. Inside, it was beautiful.  Life was a Cabaret.

Friday, April 25, 2014

 I shamelessly admit that yesterday morning, I was thumbing through the latest copy of Martha Stewart's magazine, Living, when I came across an article in the "How- to- Handbook" section.  The article was titled Be Kind - And Unwind.  After recovering from the irony of such an article in a magazine published by a woman who, by all accounts, has never made kindness one of her most notable personality traits, I sat down and read on.  I need more how-two's when it comes to life, especially at this time of my life when I am trying to balance the needs of multi-generations.

Naturally, my thoughts, since reading the article, have focused on the topic of kindness and I've re-run so many mental videos, weighing in on my own acts or missed opportunities.  I've probably spent more time reflecting on acts of kindness that that touched me as the recipient and it is amazing that these are still so on the surface of my thoughts after many years in some cases.

It does not take much thought to recall being rescued in the Venice airport by a high-ranking executive of my company who appeared out of nowhere at exactly the right time.  The woman who gave me the glass dish at the flea market when my son was in high school, the man who's "random act of kindness" paid my toll that day on the New Jersey Turnpike, the box of chocolate cupcakes, beautifully tied with a pink polka-dotted ribbon that was held in the hands of a young, disabled friend as I retired from Colgate, they jump out in memory.  I'll never forget being too ill to get out of bed and after grocery shopping with her Nana, a very young daughter telling me that she bought "grasshopper" cookies for us because they were on sale, or my adolescent son, giving his cousin a precious video toy that he had just bought with his own money, just because Nick was so interested in it.  Friends, too many to list, who have shown kindness in its purest form, over and over, humble me.  And then, yesterday my father, who asked repeatedly "when are you going on your vacation?" just to be sure that had  the segway needed for his presentation of some cash for "your trip", fresh from the pocket of his trousers   Kindness.

The Living article touts acts of kindness as the "latest prescription for good health", that new research finds the simplest of acts as boosters of well-being.  The benefits of good deeding range from lowered rates of depression and mortality to increases in self-esteem and strengthened immune systems.  "Doing unto others" might be the next generation of mood-enhancing therapy.  When we are kind, we feel better about ourselves and seemingly everything else in the world.  The nicer we are, the happier.  Becoming happy results in becoming more creative and more productive, good reasons for sharing your toys.

All of these thoughts surrounding kind acts and mutual benefits left me with a stunning lesson, one that I might even be tempted to send along as a Letter to the Editor.  How sad it is when life goes on long after everyone you have loved have left the world, when all things that were once so much a part of your life and happiness have disappeared, when you no longer have anybody to receive your kindness.

It is extra-sad when you no longer are the receiver.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Parallel Parable

Wellfleet Harbor

My first-born is forty three years old, something I find very, very hard to grasp.  I remember so much about his baby and child hoods but certainly have also forgotten much.  One thing I do recall vividly, is the first thing I said following his birth....."well, I'm glad we have a baby and now, I never have to do that again".  Of course, it was not the case.  That Baby Boy became Big Brother two years later and I wasn't the first nor was I the last to utter those words after giving birth without the use of so much as an aspirin.  And why am I thinking back to this right now?  Because mine is the kind of mind that needs to connect dots.  I love parallels or is it parables?  A story is not a story unless it relates to another story?  So, yesterday........

My best friend in all the world, Cam, and her husband, Erwin.......who both.......

Don't they look like the blissful retirees that they have become?

retired a few weeks ago and are already starting to tick things off on their bucket list.  Stop One, along the way to the rest of their lives, is a week on the beach here on the Cape.   Yesterday, we found our way to their secluded beachfront cottage and allowed the day to unfold, the four of us together under the sun, watching the water, collecting oyster shells on the beach, followed by dinner....with a view.

Just another ordinary Monday dinner on Cape Cod

So, where's the parallel?  I'm getting there.........

We labored all winter.  We said "never again".  We spent the first of many-to-come days next to the water. 
We forgot all about the pain and we're ready to do it all over again.

I love you Cape Cod!!!!!!!

The parable: " Be careful what you curse about in Winter because you only get so many Summers"  (I know, it only makes sense to me) Oh, and "Good friends rent good houses"!!  Wait a minute...these are not parables...these are just sayin's, aren't they?  Maybe better this way:  "The Story of the Winter, the Spring, the Labor and the Delivery" but my friends had nothing to do with any of the above.  I'm stumped.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter People

Sleep is not my best game and the mysteries of why I can't stay asleep once I get there, remain as such.  On this particular day this was not such a bad problem.  It is Easter Sunday and I wanted to get to an early Mass, the 7AM.  I figured that it would be the only opportunity to get to a service that was not packed with families, babies crying, standing room only.  As I have already stated, I do not like pomp and circumstance and theatrical celebrations when it comes to church time.  So, today, I got myself into the shower and out the door with time to spare.

As I turned down the street to the church parking lot, I immediately realized that I was not one of the "few" who would be at this first Mas of the day.  There were people....everywhere.  At 6:50 AM, the huge parking lots were already full and people were walking toward the church entrances in droves.  Were these all the atheists that we have been reading about lately, the ones who think they know the answer and are trying so desperately hard to recruit members?  Are they going to barricade the doors, kidnap the faithful and put them all in a spaceship?  Nope.  I fell into line with the crowd and found myself one of the few vacant seats and today, I actually listened to the homily and it was uplifting.  I don't remember every word and the pen I keep with the notebook in my handbag is broken so I could not write things as I wished I could.  But, I do remember this.  He said "be Easter people".  He explained what he meant by that and it was lovely.

The priest asked that we consider waking up from the darkness, embracing the new light, that we take this mission on as of today, and carry it with us for the next fifty one weeks.  So simple a request, isn't it?  I'm tired of the darkness of winter and the late arrival of spring's warmth and charm.  I'm ready to become an Easter Person.

It was a nicely-paced liturgy.  Nothing dramatic.  Surely it was not an "express" Mass, but it wasn't prolonged .  I'm sure that the rest of the morning will be different.  This is the day that the "A& P" Catholics show up.  Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and today.  There will be traffic jams entering and exiting both the parking lot and the church.  Babies will be crying. Parents will be frustrated.  The sandwich generation will be out in full force, trying to juggle their weighty responsibilities without showing their frustrations in a holy place. They will all be there.  For today, they will be Easter People.

A little side-note if I may......I'm always looking for signs.  Am I doing this life thingee correctly?  Am I being as good a wife, mother, daughter, daughter-in-law, Christian, as I can be?  I don't always do these the same way others do.  I like to think, and act, out-of-the-box and I wonder what track I am on, is that road I've chosen the one that leaves me totally lost or is there a bend in it, way up ahead, that I cannot yet see, that will lead me to where I should be?  Well, I'll leave it up to the reader to, as I stepped up to receive Communion, out of a large chalice of perfectly round wafers, I was handed one in the shape of a triangle.  I take it as a sign.  What do you think?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good But Sad Friday

From the New York City Digital Collection:  Old Images of New York:  The New York Public Library

If there is one thing I will never, ever part with, it is my New York City Public Library card.  To me, it is priceless and an object of beauty.  It gives me a wonderful old feeling.  It's a trophy.  It affirms my connection to my favorite place on Earth and reminds me that there is a place on that Earth where I truly do belong.  

I've written so much in the past about Manhattan, how at home I am, how great I feel every time I exit the train and put my feet down on the ground, the ground that I think of as hallowed and sacred.  I could write volumes more, tell so, so many stories.  I've had experiences, met people, been places and have made some of the best friends one could ever wish for.  

But, there is nothing that can equate to the feeling I get when I hold my library card and know that it is something that can only be issued to a certified, legitimate, bonafide New Yorker.  I'm going to go give it a hug right now as I think about the Mass on Easter Sunday at the Church of the Holy Family at U.N. Plaza.  Easter lilies, too many to count, lining the aisle.  I wish I could magically transport myself there to be reborn.  Good Friday.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I Want it Badly

We colored Easter eggs. Drank coffee, talked, laughed and acted like kindergartners, grown up style.  That's what we did yesterday morning at 10:30.  Not 10:00 as we had planned.  I changed the time.  For a very good reason.


Joe and I went to breakfast on Sunday morning at Big Al's, followed by a peek into the window of the thrift shop, which happens to be closed on Sundays and Mondays.  My heart started to race as I saw it, hanging on a rack, right in the front of the store where everyone, walking in, would also spot it.  The big, really red straw handbag that I knew, at first sight, I had to have.  The two-day wait might just kill me, but I was going to get there at the moment the shop opened on Tuesday, going in for the kill.

We planned to meet at my home at 10:00.  All agreed.  Bring your own eggs and ideas and I'll supply the rest.  But wait.....the shop opens at 9:30 and I needed time......"Dear Friends, please come at 10:30 instead of 10:00.  I have to go to the Thrift Shop to buy a red straw purse that I saw in the window on Sunday"....Okay.  These are my friends for a reason.  They understand me.

If I had to set an alarm clock, something I haven't done since I was thirteen, I would have.  But I did not. I was up at my usual crack-of-dawn, using my time to collect and  assemble all the things necessary for the coloring event, killing time, waiting for the exact right moment to exit my home, get in the car and drive to the parking lot of the thrift shop so that I would be the first customer to enter.  You really would have thought that I was going to the State Lottery Office to collect my millions.  Everything was down to a science.  I knew exactly how much time to spend on each and every chore and if that phone rang.....I would have to ignore it unless it really was the Lottery Office calling.  That, I would not ignore.  I checked the clock over and over again.  I did not want to arrive too early, looking pathetic as if I really did not have a life, sitting in my car as if I had nothing better to do.  So every minute, every action, was calculated and very soon, that purse would be in my hands, and in a few weeks, would appear in many photos.  It had "Savannah, here I come!" written all over it.

But I was a few minutes early and I did have to sit in my car and I knew I would be the first customer of the day and I got to thinking.  This is Holy Week.  I was given the gift of faith at my baptism.  My parents furthered my faith and strengthened my bond with that faith by allowing me to live a real life.  Church attendance was never forced upon me.  We did not read the Bible. My brother and I were never preached to, we made a lot of our own choices based upon what we inherently knew as right or decent.  The most important lesson I ever learned from my upbringing, was acceptance. Race, ethnic background, sexual preference, political views.  My mother was brilliant as a teacher of humanity and out-of-the-box idealism.  I have her to thank for my comfort with all people.  All people. Period.

I want the final reward.  I could kick myself a hundred times over, every Lenten season.  I feel humble and not deserving if I allow myself to hold to a standard that is part and parcel with old-fashioned Catholicism.  I don't observe "Holy Days of Obligation", mainly because of the O-word in there.  I eat meat on Fridays in Lent because I refuse to believe that God said it was wrong and I know that it was a man-made dictate to help the fishing industry ages ago.  I don't give things up for Lent.  Were I able to do that, I would not have a problem with my weight, ever.  God knows I'm weak.  He made me.  I recycled my palms after Mass on Sunday of this week.  I refuse to take them home and make a toy out of them.  I get it about the Passion even though I don't fully understand the mysteries therein. I hate that they make the congregation participate in the reading as if it were a Broadway show.  But, I do believe and I do want to attain redemption because I do believe that there is more there than there is here. And I do love the Man who went through all of that, just for me.

So, I had to forgive myself for preparing more for the trip out to the Thrift Shop than I have for other, more significant things.  I now own the purse.  It is as lovely as I had imagined it would be.  Better than it looked through the glass window.  I made sure that it would be in my hands and I calculated well.  I got my just reward. Perhaps, by understanding all of this, this every-day application of my faith, I will get the real prize when it's all over.  I do want it.  Lent is not over yet.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Being There

As you can see, I haven't gone anywhere.  Idle threat.  Lazy.  Comfortable with things the way they are and have been for the past 204 (!) blogs so far.  Fearful of change.  Too old to take on something new.  Why bother?  Short attention span.  Better things to do with my time.  Ain't really broken so why fix it?  Bloom where I'm planted.  No matter where I go, there I'll be.  Whatever.

It never ceases to amaze me.  I get up in the morning, get my coffee, sit down here and have abso-lute-ly no idea of what I am going to write. I just do know that I have to exercise my right brain. And I stare out the window, look into the trees. Suddenly, the Morning Muse, the one who has been sleeping on one of the branches of a pine tree, takes flight and lands on my fingertips.  That is, if I allow her to do so.  Allow her?  I beg for her to come into this room.  I love following my muse as she guides me and rarely do I question her opinions.  Today, she is hard at work and I can barely keep up.  I'm still not sure what direction she will point to but I 'm watchful and ready to participate.

I had intended to move my blog to another blog site.  I wanted to put more "buttons" on this one, little interesting side-bar selections for readers as I have seen on other blogs, but could not seem to find the way to do this. I got frustrated so I just figured I'd start out fresh with another site and I tried. Half halfheartedly.  It isn't easy.  It's like moving to a new community, bringing your old stuff, and trying to fit in with new friends and neighbors, all at the same time as you are trying to please the old friends and not lose them along the way.  I tried to copy and paste but it just wouldn't happen.  Is there a war between the two sites, a border patrol that I couldn't see?  Is my blogger passport out of date?  Well, for whatever reason, I abandoned the project, at least for now.

Isn't that what we so often do?  Abandon projects?  At least, that is what I find myself doing, more often now than when I was young.  Every couple of months, I clean out my storage closet, the one filled with my best of intentions, and throw out, into the dumpster, unfinished "projects"; half-completed sweaters and my attempts at stitchery, canvases filled with collage-bits, magazines and articles that once held the promise of a closer look.  Money and time, wasted, or maybe not.  Is it not better to have tried and moved on, than to not have tried at all?  Doesn't being at an age, over sixty-five, give us a few free passes that we can pick and choose from when we have to decide between staying and moving on?  I think back to the past twenty years of my life and realize that they came and moved on quickly and I know that the next twenty will be here and gone all too soon as well and now, I give myself permission to try things, to see what fits and feels manageable in my life and to discard all that does not.  So, I remain here blogging on and on.

Did the morning's visit from my muse bring me a list of cliche's?  I think not.  It's Monday and the start of a new week of the realization that I don't have to try so hard at being who I am and doing what I do.  I just have to be there.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Big Al's

There's another new kid on the block and we have already decided that we want to play, a lot.
Don't know about anybody else who lives in our 'hood, but Joe and I have been thirsting for such a long time for a nice little "luncheonette", a place where we could get breakfast for under thirty dollars, and a quick lunch.  Our needs were simple.  Nice decor.  Friendly staff.  Owners who appreciated our business, good coffee, cleanliness and a feeling that this was a place that would be here for a while.  We've seen so many food businesses come and go. We know the look..

We have been back, living here on Cape Cod for almost seven years.  We're not novices at this lifestyle.  We came here forty one years ago and settled down with two babies for thirteen more years before returning to New York and living in a suburban city a mere thirty minutes from Manhattan.  We both grew up in that area and there are things that we came to, shall I say "take for granted" and now bitterly miss.  For instance, after a movie, we're still craving a diner.  Give us something, anything, open later than seven o'clock, that serves coffee.  Once in a while, we need a real bagel with cream cheese and lox. Stop and Shop, we love you, but those are not real bagels and you know it. I personally have a hard time suppressing my desire to hop into my car and make the four hour trip to Bloomingdale's or Lord and Taylor for a dose of plain frozen yogurt, the tangy stuff, topped with fresh strawberries. Oh, and  I miss Papa Razzi, the one we used to walk to for dinner, our home-away-from-home, with our very own waiter.  We think about you every day Alberto.

There is not one friend here on the Cape that I would consider trading for a two cent seltzer, so life is not exactly unpleasant. New York days, filled with career moves, were never as personally fulfilling as those that I get to spend here with my highly creative and fun playmates.  So, when Big Al hung out his shingle, we got very, very excited.  A new "luncheonette" within a mile of our house. Open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch.  They're up early, ready to roll.  From Day One, Al and Laurie have not disappointed.  They're friendly, the place is decorated the way a luncheonette should be.  It's clean.  The coffee is good and hot.  The food is good and they know, as soon as they see me walk in the door, that there will be egg whites in action very soon.  A dream, come true.  A meeting spot.  I think my friend Linda and I actually have our own table, the one next to the magazines.  If one of us is late, the other one waits and if the waiting is too long, the whole crew worries.  Yesterday, I walked in and Bill, "our" waiter, said, "sit there where the tea is, she's in the restroom".  I don't think Alberto would have done it so well.

So, here's to you, Big Al.  You came along just at the right time and it looks like you will be around for a long time to come.  We will not allow you to leave, get sick or retire.  We've even met your kids and we love them.  Your wife is our friend and we need her to make sure you don't run out of egg whites.  Oh, and Al, smart move on your part, putting your business right next door to the thrift shop.  Bam!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Happy Anniversary to My Baby

Have you ever made some bad collective decisions and wished and wished and wished again that you could go back in time and redo the whole thing?

Today is my daughter and son-in-law's ninth anniversary and it is that one day that brings it all back and makes me crazy with the thought..."What the hell was I thinking?"

Yes, I know, it was their day.  It wasn't about me, and the bride was gorgeous, radiant and happy with every detail after carefully planning for months.  The groom was also happy and together, they started out that day on the rest of their lives which so far, have been blessed with two beautiful daughters, a home in a great school district, complete with requisite in-ground pool, large fenced-in yard, two cats and one pug.  They have so much to show for their decisions. But I......I'm still haunted by the memory of the wrong dress, the very expensive wrong dress that is somewhere in a plastic bag at the bottom of another bag in my closet.

This all started when Sara and Jeff became engaged.  I don't know if it's a New York thing or if this same mania happens elsewhere but it goes like this:  "My daughter got engaged", the joyful announcement, and it ends like this: "You better hurry up and start looking for your dress"with never ending stress. It is on that very day that the future mom of the bride starts to lose her sanity and,  as in this case, starts gaining even more weight.  I think that's the rule in my family.  For every pound the future bride loses, the future mother of same gains.  So of course, the next breath that I uttered was "I can't buy a dress off-the-rack in MY size", meaning "I cannot show up looking like THE MOTHER OF THE BRIDE!!!!

So, after spending hours on internet searches in my office (full disclosure Number One, I spent very little time actually working in those months), and a much-needed vacation to Florida where my friend Jay proclaimed that I should have "fun" with what I was going to wear....I located some very nice black gowns in a little shop.  Black, being the operative word.  Here's another disclosure, Number Two.  When Sara was a wee-girl, I told her and meant it with every bone in my body, "If Mommy can't wear black to your wedding, she will not come", after I was sure that she understood that she could not marry in June, July, August or any other month that would find me pouring baby powder down my back to keep from sticking to the seat as she and her intended exchanged vows.  Looking back, I'm surprised she didn't elope!

With the name of the dress designer and the styles in hand, I rushed back to New York and made an appointment at an exclusive shop on Greenwich Avenue for a Saturday in November.  The wedding date was set for April, mind you, but the stress was in high gear and I had to answer for the billionth time "did you get your dress yet?", so I obeyed the commands and got going. My phone call to the shop was all I needed to insure that the dresses I had seen in Ft.Lauderdale would be awaiting my arrival and I was ready to try that perfect gown, the one I knew would hide a multitude of body-sins, the black beauty that would make me feel confident and ready to greet the wedding guests and hold forever in my memory a stunning me. And the dress was there, on a hanger, in a room with other dresses selected by the salesperson.....who changed the course of history.  To this day, if I found her, I would have to strangle her. Seriously. Although, I have to hand it to her. She was one heck of a good salesperson because yes, she had the dress I had requested and yes, she also had a few others that she thought I might like and yes, she allowed me to try all of them on before she zinged me with...."and now, try this one on!"  I totally thought that at that moment I was in the hands of a certifiable crazy person so I obeyed to the best of my ability.  The dresses do not come in real people sizes, they are tiny sample sizes so "trying on" meant holding the garment up to my body and pretending I was actually wearing it...all three pieces of it. A long slipper satin skirt which featured a rear "mermaid" panel in the finest of Chantilly lace, a lace shrug, and the piece d'resistance, a lace, strapless, bustier.  Oh my God.  Me???  Bustier??? I had enough anatomy to fill two or three bustiers and never, in my life was I able to wear anything strapless.  What?

I tried to talk her out of it but she was so insistent.  She was great at her job.  "Lady, if you've got it, flaunt it!" she exclaimed as she pushed me in front of the mirror and held my dress on tightly.  "You don't look like the type of woman who wants a Mother of the Bride Dress and this is NOT one!" she gushed.  And then the grabber, "Honey, you are not going to loose 100 pounds by that wedding so go with what you have there".  I was putty in her hands and we were headed for the point of no return, especially after she assured me that the dress would be made for me, inch by inch, customized to my measurements and would fit me perfectly.

The fact that all of this would cost me more than my first car did, got lost in how accommodating I was to become, that I could announce to my helpful friends that I found "the dress" and it was 'being made for my body and mine alone".  Of course, I did have to think about this and I made another appointment for the following week to bring the future bride who, well let's make a long story short.....was agog.  She also slipped into that fantasy world very quickly and both of us took leave of our senses at the same time. The words "Mom, I can't wait for my friends to see you in that dress" put me way, way over the top and a huge deposit later, we were back on the avenue, giggling.

The months went by and the big day arrived.  No, not the wedding day.  The "fitting" day.  What?  "Fitting?"
Should this dress not "fit"????  After all, the women who slaved away for the designer, Rose Taft, were working with the precise measurements sent to them by the Saleswoman of the Year, the same one who promised me that it would fit.  Pins here, pins there, pins everywhere.  Okay.  That will be another hundred-and-something more dollars for "alterations".  Now, I could have made a scene.  I could have demanded my money back, I could have done any one of several consumer-protected things but I didn't.  I simply said "wrap it up, I'm taking it just as it is".  That was in February.  The wedding was planned for April.  I spent from February until one week before the wedding date, looking for a new dress.  Well, here's another of those long-stories-shortened.  I took the damned dress to the little independent dressmaker who we had always used and she fixed it for me for $35.00 after lots of tsk-tsking and shaking of her head. (I told her what I paid for it and she felt very, very sorry for me)

The real big day came.  We traveled to Boston where I got my hair cut and colored the day before the event. Another huge mistake.  And, on the morning of the wedding, I got my hair re-done, at this point, I asked that the hairdresser just make it look as if a firecracker had exploded on my head, which she did and I sat through the agony of having make-up applied and a few hours later, I put the dress on and magic happened. I felt exactly as the Saleswoman of the Year knew I would, totally distracted from the fact that my little baby girl was all grown-up and was getting married that day.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


“Writing is an extreme privilege but it's also a gift. It's a gift to yourself and it's a gift of giving a story to someone.” --Amy Tan

Monday, April 7, 2014

For My Children


Seagull | Photograph by Andre Eide

The skies are clearer now, there are so many more birds in the trees, flitting from one to the other. The leaves are also returning, providing new contrasts. Shades of green against blues of sky make for varied and treasured views that change moment to moment as the earth rotates ever so slowly on her axis.

I made an observation the other day as I watched a red wing blackbird scale its way from limb to limb.  It was a beautiful sight, that bird with its full wing span, the brilliant red patches revealed as it was in flight.  When it landed, shuttering its wings, it was once again a totally black bird. The secret was hidden.  On another tree, a woodpecker perched.  It was facing the tree and as a result, the full beauty of its "dress" was revealed; red hat, white and black coat, drop-dead gorgeous.  The blue jays, were seen from the same position. In-flight, they show the most amazing burst of blue and black and white in their wing span.

There's a feeder below our window.  A kind and caring neighbor keeps it stocked and the birds come as do the ducks and turkeys, from morning until night.  Looking down, I see only their heads, the tops of their bodies, shoulders as it were. It's hard at times to distinguish which from which,  looking down at them as they feed and walk around in circles, and it is not until they once again soar upwards, fly through the trees with the blue sky as a background, that their full beauty and uniqueness is seen.  The red wing blackbird distinguishes itself from the other black birds. The blue jay is no longer seen as the aggressor that it is.  The Baltimore Oriole is a joy to behold and the sea gull, majestic.

My mother used to try to comfort me when I would lament to her that as my children matured into young adults, I spent less and less time with them.  She would compliment Joe and I, by saying that we had done maybe too good a job at giving them independence, the goal of parenting having been met in spades. We gave them wings and let them fly.  Their time ground-feeding was incredibly short as it turns out and it wasn't until they took flight that their true beauty was revealed.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mutual Muses

The door is always open at the Cultural Center
Okay, so the winter was relentless.  Sent my mind into overdrive, thinking of how to escape next year.  Why I allowed myself to dwell on that I don't know. Too frustrating. We're here for a longer run that we had ever imagined and escape to warmer climates for weeks on end, are reserved  for siblings.  So, I did a lot of grousing.  Might even have called it obnoxious complaining.  Said "grrrrrr!" a lot.  Made the best of it.......and now that the shroud of winter is lifted, I am able to sit and count my blessings and once again, revel in the fact that I live in an incredible place and am surrounded by beauty every moment of the year. I have, in addition to other blessings, a host of amazing friends and acquaintances here, and away from here.

Now this is not intended to be a pat-yourself-on-the-back-Lynn expository piece. Nor is it an "I love Cape Cod" piece.  This time, I'm talking here about a part of Cape Cod life that is so much a part of why I really do love my life here, the huge number of creative individuals who also call this home. My amazement never ceases.  With each new person I meet, I continue to be wow-ed.  This narrow strip of land holds more artists and writers, poets and craftspeople than one can imagine.  Talent is in abundance and the source of inspiration, constant and there is no place that embraces the feeling that art is for everyone than the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, the local "temple" for all-the-arts-for-all of us.  With the smallest of full-time staff, Bob Nash and Lauren Wolk, the directors, make this work like a well-oiled machine and their tireless efforts and brute determination shine through day after day after day.  Artists are born here.  See here and be seen. Become a member and join a nurturing family.

Our friend, Celine Federici and her oil painting
Almost monthly, a new show opens at the Center.  With the openings, come receptions, times for the community to gather, to celebrate the great works of art that are perfectly curated on the walls of the Great Hall and the three smaller galleries.  Rarely, do I not see lots of friends at these openings and often, new friends are made on these common grounds. There are two shows to which I look most forward each year. The first is the All Member Show and the other, the one that opened on Friday,  "Mutual Muses VII: A Marriage of Visual Art and Poetry". This is the extra-special show which features the work of 100 artists and poets.  They inspire each other's creation and the results are pure joy to the beholder, especially when the artist or poet happens to be one of those creative and talented friends.
Another opening of another show

So, to the beloved Cultural Center and to those who have made it all worth while, through the snow, the cold, the wind and the grey skies, a big round of applause and thank you for your part in keeping us here, where we really do belong.

Our friend, Carole Johnson and her beautifully handcrafted silver jewelry

Thursday, April 3, 2014

In the Thrift Shop

There's a hot-spot in my town, a place where I run into more people I know, than any other place in town.  No, it's not the supermarket where, for some odd reason, I rarely have encounters with friends.  It is the VNA "Thriftique", the large second-hand shop that sits right in a shopping plaza on Route 28 in South Yarmouth.  It's so much a part of my life that I almost have withdrawal symptoms on Sundays and Mondays, the two days it is closed.  These feelings do not belong to me alone.  Just say the name, "VNA Thrift Shop" and invariably, the person to whom you are speaking will give you an "Oh" or an "Ah", signaling the start of a lengthy discussion on the virtues of this amazing place.  Men and women alike, old and young but mostly, the older because we have an appreciation for the treasures that are housed in this place.

I love a bargain.  Who doesn't?  But my shopping experiences at the VNA go way beyond that need to find something "cheap".  I enter, and I am soothed.  It's a virtual oasis, especially if I am feeling stressed, tired or bored.  The best part, is the fact that there is such a turn-over of merchandise, keeping the friendly volunteer staff busy with a constant restocking of shelves and racks.   I am not only a purchaser, I am also a donor and no matter what the size of my contribution, or the contents, I simply drive up to the back door and one of the staffers comes out to my car with a huge smile and a set of hands that swoop the items out of the trunk or backseat and I drive away.......oftentimes, directly to the opposite side of the store, the front door.

So, what is it that has hooked me, made me such a loyal fan? What is it that rises my adrenaline and pushes me over the threshold several times each week?  Perhaps it is the need for a specific item, some wine glasses to replace some broken, a new tea pot or a funky piece of jewelry for a dollar.  Maybe it's the books, finding those titles that years ago, when doing a down-size of my own living space, I discarded and now, wonder how I could have lived all those years without that very one.  I've thought, more than once, if the book I was buying had once been on my own shelf at one time during my family history. I would not be in the least bit surprised to find my name on the inside cover.  What goes around, comes around, has new meaning.

Thrift shops are, as it turns out, more than just places to shop.  They are akin to museums.  They hold the answers to how people might have lived, what was and wasn't important, what is no longer considered to be part of a stylish wardrobe.  The thrift shop might very well be the most important place in a town, any town, for this very reason.  Racks upon racks of articles of clothing, handbags, shoes, hats, coats and even lingerie, all have a story to tell.  Did someone lose or gain weight?  Was this the last outfit Mother wore before she died?  Where has that handbag been?  What grounds have these shoes touched?  How much did the former owner have to save before buying this or that item that now sells for a mere dollar?  Stories and stories and more stories.  If only these items could talk.  Oh, how I wish they could, I truly do.  Perhaps they would, in addition to telling me their personal history, let me know that my addiction is a good one, that I am a faithful custodian, honoring their place, making them feel once again as important as they were the day they were first purchased.  I sense that there is a need for people like me.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Reflexology at Salon Justine

There remain few things in my life that I am as selective about as the person who cuts my hair.  After leaving my beloved Remy in New York, I became a typical "hair whore", trying dozens of new stylists and one-by-one, rejecting them for various reasons.  My needs were simple.  A savvy, well-trained and groomed hairdresser whose hygiene was flawless, conversations intelligent and interesting,  In addition, the salon had to be easy to get to, clean beyond words, up-to-date and operated by people who were in the same measure as my stylist.  If all the criteria were un-met, I would politely inform the desk person that no, I did not intend at this time to book another appointment and I would call when the time came for another cut.  That was, until the day I was encouraged to call Salon Justine in Dennis and request the amazing Kate Woods, one who I was assured would understand my hair.  I made the call, got the first appointment and gave up hair whoring that very day.

Justine Saglibene is the owner and let me tell you, this is a business woman who knows how to get it right. She has personality and style and her shop, well it's always an enormous pleasure just being in there.  She knows what makes women feel good, what they like to see, smell, read and sip.  Coffee, tea, water and cocoa are offered by this busy lady and her equally busy and beautiful staffers.  They are pros in the art of making one feel welcome and at home.  I trust all of them, knowing that I would be thrilled with the outcomes but it is Kate who has the honor.  In her hands, I feel that all is well with my hair and occasionally, my eye brows.  I've recommended her to so many of my friends and of course, to my husband who shares my need for everything to be perfect in a salon, and I've never heard one word that led me to believe that I erred in my judgement so when Kate told me that Leah, the adorable Receptionist/manicurist/hostess was going to offer Reflexology and was offering free introductory sessions, I listened. Kate would never steer me, or anybody else, wrong.  I booked my appointment without hesitation.  I love to help people who are just starting out in the dream-fulfillment department and while I came up short in the knowledge department regarding the ancient art of Reflexology, I did know that it wasn't harmful and that it was a recognized alternate therapy.  When Kate told me that one of her clients had the best night's sleep following her session, I was totally ready to lie down and take it, whatever it was.

Knowing that this might possibly be relaxing, I made a late-day appointment and promptly at three o'clock yesterday afternoon, I was ushered by Leah to her little spa downstairs.  It smelled great.  The music was already on, the lighting was perfect and there was a tiny water feature that sent a cascade down little rocks, enhancing the spa atmosphere.  I laid down on the "treatment" table and was enveloped in quilting, the colors of which reminded me of India or Asia.  My hands were tenderly massaged with cream and then place into very warm mits.  Warm buckwheat wraps went underneath my head to support my neck and under my chin.  My head was to be kept comfortable and warm as I laid flat, arms at my side, eyes closed.  And, for the next hour, the magic of touch took over and all the muscles of my face were manipulated and massaged by these capable hands.

Reflexology, I learned, is usually associated with massage of the feet.  This was "Facial Reflexology" a method that uses the same basic principles but applies them to touch points found in the head rather than feet. By stimulating points in the face, shortcuts are taken to the brain, calling upon it to release those famous endorphins, chemicals which bring us to our happy places very efficiently. Messages are sent to the Central Nervous System, directing specific organs and glands to produce what is needed to regulate blood and hormones and most importantly, to ratchet up the immune system.  This is facial yoga and it could very well result in a more youthful appearance or at least a healthier looking face.  I suspect that these results come to those who are Reflexology "regulars", and after this session, I gotta admit that the thought is crossing my mind.  It was wonderfully relaxing,  I totally went with the soothing vibes and the masterful touch.  I was carried away into a place that I think I may have earned after a weekend which included lots of face time with a very elderly mother-in-law. I was sad when Leah announced that we were all done but I was ready.

I had an instant urge to go shopping, to find something pretty for myself or at least to browse through the possibilities.  Fortunately, there is a TJ Max not too far from the salon and I drifted around there for a while before my next stop, a visit to my own elderly parent.  I arrived and actually found myself taking my coat off, ready to spend more than my usual two minutes, ready to listen to the same questions and comments,over and over, without becoming quite as impatient.  Something powerful had to be responsible for my lightness.

Leah deserves a huge thank you and a big wish for great success.  I'll be back as a paying customer, I know that I will need that soothing again and again as the road ahead gets bumpier. So, Leah, keep the candles lit, start the music and let the water flow.  

For more information on Reflexology,


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Mister Bill

New York Historical Society: Bill Cunningham: The Fa├žades Project
Courtesy of the New York Historical Society Museum

It does not get much better.  A rainy Saturday in New York City.  A museum visit. A new find for lunch. My honey at my side and......Bill Cunningham.  As my husband sums all of the parts, he tells me that I had found Nirvana and he was so right.  Umhumumhumhum.

Bill Cunningham. If you are a New Yorker, I need not introduce him further. But, if you are not, ( and you are forgiven).....he's the 83 year old originator of street-style photography.  His series of candid photos which capture snippets of the latest fashion and style trends,  appear in the New York Times several times a week. In addition, his are the photos of the socialites, the ladies and gentlemen who would dye their blood blue just to have that one moment forever held in a one-by-one inch box, part of the montage created by Bill and his lens.  No digital photos here.  He's the real-deal, frame by frame in black and white. His rolls of film are developed by the guy who owns the shop downstairs from the Times. Contact sheets are poured over by Bill and an assistant until Bill feels that he has exactly what he was going for on any given day.  A photographer, a camera, a bicycle and a love of fashion and style, these are the essential elements of a quintessential New York icon.  Unchanged since the day he started.  Harvard drop-out, U.S. Veteran, former hat-maker, photographer and best friend to Editta Sherman. It was she who became the model for a fabulous collection of photographs, eighty-eight of which he donated, as silver gelatin prints, to the Museum of the New York Historical Society in 1976.  They were lovingly retained and now  hang in their glory in a brilliantly curated show called "The Facades Project".

The Facades Project started in 1968 when he and "The Duchess of Carnegie Hall", Sherman, began photographing pieces of  New York historical landmarks.  In period costumes, many pieces of which they found in thrift shops, Editta was photographed in front of 128 architectural settings. The stunning photographs show her interpreting the relationship between attire and the history of New York City with exquisite adherence to detail.  We see her posed in photo after photo that tell us about the style and fashion scene, covering a 200 year time span.  The photos are brilliant for so many reasons, not least of all Bill Cunningham's mastery in allowing the viewer to realize skillful pairings of articles of clothing with their surroundings.  As a former hat maker, he shows us in countless instances what his eye has seen; beautiful relationships between the form of a headpiece to that of an architectural detail,  and it is breathtaking. Black and white have never married as well.  Amen.

A new find for lunch, " Cafe Frida", on Columbus Avenue, where we devoured the best guacamole we've ever had, was a perfect choice before we strolled back up the avenue in the rain.  Were there puddles?  I honestly can't attest to that fact.  My feet never touched the ground.