Saturday, January 31, 2015

Princess Pug Zoe

Our first dog: Bandit. When he was a pup, his mask was darker. Thus his name

Very young Steve

Miss Zoe
Yesterday I was sorting through papers (ruining my shredder forever) and came across our first pug's AKC papers. These arrived several months after we bought Zoe. I was very surprised to find out her registration name was Princess Pug Zoe. We were not told her name when we got her and named her by the time we got home. Josh wanted to name her Zo, after his favorite basketball player, Alonzo Mourning (what did she have in common with a basketball player? Besides both being black...) but I said since she was a female, maybe Zoe would be a better name. She was a cute, feisty thing. By the time she was only 18 months, she became very ill with lupus. Steroids slowed the progression but she died anyway. Josh was heartbroken. She was replaced a couple  of months later with Spud, the pug (registration name Leader of the Pack) who we had for 15 years. He has not been replaced. The kids have moved out and some of the grandkids are allergic. Plus I had envisioned doing more traveling while retired.
 Above is Zoe's replacement Spud trying to make friends with Sasha, the cat. Sasha was having none of that but as they both aged (Sasha was 22 when we had to put him asleep), he would be curled around Spud for warmth. Spud so resembled a lumpy potato, his name just spoke to me. And people would guess correctly his name. Spud did not have the feisty personality as Zoe did but was a very sweet dog.
We are awaiting word that we can start moving stuff into the house. They told us they would contact us by this morning. They better get cracking as a huge storm is coming our way and they are driving to around Charlestown, SC.

My neighbor called this morning in tears. Her husband died yesterday from Stage 4 prostate cancer. He was given about a year when diagnosed almost 9 years ago but the miracles extending his life ran out.


Friday, January 30, 2015


This Lalique work is called Suzanne from the Corning Glass Museum
Lots of cool stuff there. We stopped by after Daniel's birth in 2009 but didn't have time to see anything aside from the gift shop (very nice selection of things) since we spent the earlier part of the day in Cooperstown (Baseball Hall of Fame) I had passed on that and spent my time reflecting on Glimmerglass, the native word for Lake Otsego (Last of the Mohicans). According to the website, I just missed the Lalique exhibit
Tympanostomy is the procedure that describes the insertion of tiny tubes in ones eardrum to drain the inner ear. Allie was subjected to this first thing today. It is generally recommended after 5 ear infections: Allie during her brief time on this earth, has had 10. Often the ear infections persist even while on antibiotics though ear infections can be viral. She even had several sessions with a chiropractor to 'align her sinuses' (I did not approve...hate when chiropractors overstep their expertise). Guess what? That didn't work. Due to constant fluid in her ear, she has failed some hearing tests. A bunch of vile fluid drained out today during the procedure. She is crabby right now.

Today some potential movers come today for an estimate. Hopefully it won't be nearly as high as previous ones. Some disagreements here concerning what should be in the new house. I did get permission to throw out 35 years of income tax handouts and numerous medical plan descriptions for plans we haven't had in 30 years.

Cold, icy and windy...not too inviting for a run. I will wait until after the movers come. I did lift lots of weights at the Y yesterday.

Hopefully this smile will be back soon:


Thursday, January 29, 2015

The other New York

Me overlooking Keuka Lake, one of the Finger Lakes. I identified it as the only one with a big fork in it

A door my father loved to photograph in Hammondsport at the base of Keuka Lake

Countryside somewhat north of Corning

The road to Ithaca. My father loved this stand of poplars

We were just south of an area known as the snowbelt which covered the Finger Lake regions I remember being driven through snow tunnels as my dad went to Rochester. Plenty of snow in our area too.

I believe this is Watkin's Glen at the base of Seneca Lake, the closest finger lake to us

World's End State Park. Technically this is in Pennsylvania right across the border. I took the name literally as a kid as it was so totally desolate...The World's End
People sometimes ask us as a couple where we are from. Steve immediately says he's from Brooklyn or NYC. In many ways, he has never left. He won't watch the local sports teams or learn what is going on locally but still follows, rabidly, NY teams. He makes fun of the local Midwestern 'accent' thinking it's evidence of our 'rubeness'. I will pipe in that I am from New York too but Steve will snort and say, not really. Where I came from is not really New York. Yeah he had lived in the state 12 years more than I did (he moved to New Jersey when he was 20) but to some city folk, there is the City and then there is somewhere else (99% of the land) that just calls itself New York.

Corning is a small town of about 20,000 in Central New York (east-west ways) just north of the Pennsylvania border. It is in the Allegheny mountains that extend all the way through Pennsylvania  down to Maryland (so my bike ride on the GAP in June 2013 went through some similar landscapes) The 'mountains' surrounding Corning are more like Big Hills. The area was settled along the banks of a very often flooding Chemung River. The town spilled over to the hills surrounding it, which needed chains in the winter to visit (the library was up there for instance). Our house was in the flood plain, which was badly damaged during Hurricane Agnes in 1972, the most deadly force one hurricane ever (force was determined by its very weak winds, the floods are what killed people). We were long gone leaving at the very end of 1960 but I had visited a friend in somewhat nearby Alfred College and hitched a ride back to Corning in 1973 6 months later.

It was a one industry town. The Corning Glass Works where my father was a chemist. Despite ';being in the middle of f88ing nowhere' (my father regularly plotted his escape, he was not happy there), the Glass Works was a place of innovation bringing the world pyro-ceram (aka Corning ware and Corelle), fiber optical cables and Gorilla glass among many other things. It also had an art glass division, Steuben ware (after the county it was in) handcrafting expensive glass objects marketed on Fifth Avenue, NY. One could watch the artisans at work. Pieces from it still command a huge price when unearthed on Antiques Roadshow. They also manufactured 'pyrex', heat resistant glassware used in the laboratories (like where I worked). The Glass Museum, which I went to regularly if we were snowed in featured all types of glass, shatter resistant, bendable,optical, fiber glass which was flame resistant. I could recite everything that had in 1960 as we were there so often. They also have a world class museum featuring the history of glass containing Venetian glass. We spent zero time there. I went there in 1973 and dragged my reluctant children there in the 90s. Whatever project my dad was assigned to was failing and he believed that they would blame him so he took a much more pedestrian job as an auto window glass chemist for the auto industry located in **Michigan***where he wanted to be. We went back to Ann Arbor twice a year where my grandparents lived.

He hated being confined to Corning so on weekends we were constantly driving around the state with him photographing everything.

It would have been his 88th birthday today. He died almost 11 years ago of mostly stubbornness and magical thinking leading to probably fixable health conditions that killed him. As you can see, he took me on his various escapes from Corning. My mom opted to stay home much of the time. He saw me as his 'mini-me' but then I betrayed him shortly after my marriage. I was not forgiven.

Many times I was told that once I became five or so, I ceased to be 'photogenic'. Maybe that's why I am only seen in the distance in these photos. And as he told me, I only became 'less and less' photogenic as time went by to the point that it would be impossible for me to attract a husband later in life and that I must depend on my brains, which he diagnosed me as being especially smart so at least I had that. Fortunately once I hit junior high, I became less 'ugly'. By freshman year in college, I found myself surrounded by men who didn't share my father's vision or maybe the hormones made them blind to my unattractiveness. Still some of these photos, which I am too vain to put up here, do show a homely child.

Work very slowly continues here. As you can see, I am distractible and Steve isn't progressing much faster. Maybe we will move out next week. We really don't have a plan....

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

When I was very young...

My 3 year old brother

Didn't seem like my hair ever got combed

me and a door in Hammondsport NY

A tree and me

My grandmother's funeral in 1960 on the terraces of my grandfather's house just outside Ann Arbor. This photo is transposed as the garage is on the right side not on the left.

Maybe I am 7 or 8

My brother

My brother is 4 years younger than me

When I was 6, we went to Florida

One of those dots is me in Florida

My best friend is on my frenemy on the right Again my hair needed washing and combing
Found lots of slides today buried in boxes. We have a slide reader, only good for 35 mm. Unfortunately many of the transparencies are 2 1/4 sq. The colors are now quite funky but I haven't seen some of these before

Unreliable narration

All of the above are photos of confetti I took in Sulmona during my summer in Italy 2008. Confetti are Jordan almonds, dyed and wired together to make flowers. The streets were lined with baskets of them. I wish I took more photos. Aside from the confetti, the town was very pretty surrounded by high mountains.

Sulmona turns out to be the furthest east I ever had been. I was thinking that Venice being on the Adriatic would have been further but Italy's boot sways way east, more east that most of Croatia and Slovenia. I had wanted to take a bus to Pescara, even further east, but I was unable to make that happen. Furthest north? York, England. Furthest south? Bridgetown, Barbados. Furthest west? Neah Bay at the tip of the Olympic Peninsula WA. I haven't been to Asia or even Hawaii. Someday.

None of this has anything to do with the title. I recently read Gone Girl and watched about half of The Affair. Both the book and the show rely on the same set of events being recounted by 2 people and there are many, many discrepancies between the 2 narrators. In Gone Girl, the events retold by the woman are clearly twisted for her nefarious and psychotic ends. In The Affair, it isn't clear if the discrepancies are purposeful deceptions or not. Maybe if I were to watch the remaining episodes, that would be clear.

I have listening to This American Life podcasts in the middle of the night. I was hoping that being able to do this in the dark might be less disruptive to my sleep. And the voices lull me to sleep. I often awake when the hour long show long since ended and discover I only listened to the first 10 minutes. But I am finding that concentrating on the story lines are preferable to obsessing about this or that. The theme of one of them was would your life narration stand up to fact checking? One of the stories was about a Bosnia immigrant who escaped death by seconds and luck several times before he made his way to the US as a teenager. His family was settled in a low income housing project and the school associated with it was very poor. But a substitute English teacher had him write an essay. He was learning English on his own by translating the one book he was able to take with him from Bosnia. His essay consisted of  part of this translation. As the book had not been translated into English before, there was little chance of it being recognized as plagiarism. The teacher was so impressed that she used it to get him a scholarship into a prestigious private school, where he excelled leading to scholarships to ivy league colleges and to the successful life he leads today. This American Life decided to do some  fact checking. It was very hard to track down this substitute teacher but they eventually did. He had said that the teacher was there for only a week but she was there for an entire semester. That one essay had nothing to do with her recommending him to the private school. It was obvious to her he was a diamond in the rough. He had said he was the only white kid in the entire school aside from a fellow Bosnian immigrant who was not rescued by a nice teacher and ended up in jail later in life. It turned out he exaggerated his minority status. As it turned out, this teacher had to change careers due to her helping him escape public schools. This fact delighted him as it added a new dimension to the  'how lucky he was' narration that described his life. The kid was not a liar but he perceived things differently than what later was found to be the truth.

How would your version of your life stand up to fact checking? My father insisted he made great financial sacrifices for me and would tell anyone within earshot, that if it weren't for him, I'd be a complete failure. This is not how I see it. Would your kids remember what a great mother you were?
There are four different narratives on that alone. And the biggie, marriage. Does your narrative match your husband's?

Yesterday we were commiserating with the sellers on the difficulty of culling through possessions. Steve actually said he HAD NO TROUBLE THROWING THINGS AWAY.  I stared in amazement. Is he kidding me? I just need to drag out the list of stupid things he insists on keeping, which is very long, trust me...or not. He is not a liar but he clearly sees things differently than me. The story he tells about the house we have lived in almost 32 years is this: there is no attachment whatsoever just an investment property we are currently flipping. We weigh  the return on investment of each improvement we make. Meanwhile I am leaving all my gardens, my own private Vegas patio, my decorations, the people who greet me as I run, I am sad. I can tell myself how much happier I will be with space and working bathrooms but I don't quite believe it.

The closing took only 10 minutes. Mainly we were trying to co-ordinate utility transfers with the sellers. We do have keys. At some point this weekend or maybe even Friday, we will get a text to say that they are gone and we can come over without them trailing us. The house is now ours. Still the house was full of so much stuff and they are moving to the South where there are no basements. Their lower level will be a 6 or 8 car garage, I forget.

The closing place wasn't far from Josh and Julie's so we went there afterwards to go out to eat with them at a not very good Mexican restaurant.


Today's task is to collect once and for all, everything going to the charity people coming Saturday. As it turned out, Steve was not appreciative of me emptying ten sample shampoo bottles into his big shampoo container. Given his lack of sense of smell, I thought I'd get away with it and I did mix it up thoroughly.

The temp will rise 20 degrees in just a few hours and then I will be out running before our miniblizzard tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Closing Day

All of these photos are from around Chipping Camden

Cotswold Way

Later this afternoon, we will have our own house out in the country. We have a walk through an hour before closing but as their stuff will still be there, not much point in that. We have questions to ask though. Their moving van will be gone sometime this Sunday. When will we be in? Who knows...but the window people will be here in 2 weeks so sometime before then.

The number one comment to me is Aren't you excited!?! Even Steve asks me that. He clearly is.  I guess I am acting like a giant buzz kill and need an attitude adjustment. It will be nice to have a clean, pretty house. I will enjoy my jetted tub. I will enjoy coffee on the porch and seeing what flowers pop up. I will enjoy my fire pit and waterfall.

The charity people will come here Saturday. Hopefully they will take all that we give them.

Usually Tuesday afternoon is my time at the Y. I went early today. Unfortunately The Most Unpleasant Man was there. My times haven't intersected with his for a while. He will sit on the most desired pieces of equipment between sets and read the paper while picking his nose. I managed to use the equipment I most wanted to before he came but just seeing him again set me on edge.

I can't believe 5 inches of snow shut down NYC. Good thing Julie didn't go as most restaurants and stores are closed. She'd just be sitting in her hotel room. Boston though has much more impressive snowfalls though.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Double birthday

Birthday cupcake and birthday pie for Oliver and Steve. Tess is giving Grandpa some help

Daniel busy with his Wii games

I liked the light on Maya

Naomi fixing a dubious Tessa's hair

Tessa and Maya playing house
What better present can you get for your 55th birthday than a first grandchild?. I took off early one morning with rare good weather on my 750 mile race to see Oliver born crossing customs twice to get to Boston with a car full of baby supplies. To keep myself awake, I listened to Italian language tapes. As it turned out, though I arrived in plenty of time, at the last minute a C-section was performed but I did get to see him within his first 10 minutes of life ex-utero.

We celebrated the 2 birthdays yesterday though Steve and I went out tonight. It was fun watching the 5 grandbabies interact.

I didn't do much packing today. I baby sat for part of the day. Tomorrow  by this time,  we will have 3 properties. l the money has been wired to the title company. We were told that the signing will take less than 20 minutes. Julie cancelled her business trip to NYC because she did not want to become stuck there. Today would not have been a good day to drive to Boston. 2.5 feet of snow is forecasted. Better them than us.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Purple and orange

2 of our bedroom walls are purple with accents of mint green

I started with this rug and chose 2 of its colors for the wall: purple and peach

Found this gem in the Museum of Modern Art shop in NYC
The warmth of yesterday caused a thick glaze of ice today. Fortunately the bike path had enough salt on it to remain clear.

As you can tell, our house has plenty of orange. It will take forever to figure out how to decorate the new house with what we have.

This is all so hard.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Orange and Blue

Oil pastel Josh made in middle school. Matched our room
This stained glass piece has an oak frame. Got it at an art fair and of course it matches

Should this wallpaper go? Despite its age, its in perfect shape and might be expensive to remove The blue is more navy blue than the light blue this photo suggests

At some point I will discuss my peach, eggplant and mint green bedroom.
So many decisions. As I type, new sinks and faucets are being put in. Most of the stuff is off our walls (and yeah, we have lots of stuff). It is almost warm enough to run without breaking my neck on the ice.

Moms night was fun last night. Good times.

And if I didn't have more pressing issues, I wasted time fixing up some of my very old photos of Italy.Below is from a church in Vittorito, Abruzzo. The frescos presumably were made about 500 AD as is the statue of St. Biagio. Italians love to exaggerate.



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