Sunday, February 28, 2010

Confessions of Disc Ripper have I been filling my days since the operation? 

Well, Husband decided to treat himself to a Sonos sound system for the house.  Sonos uses wireless Sonos techology to transmit digitized recordings to rooms in the house that have Sonos receivers. 

It ain't cheap.  So for now we have one Sonos receiver downstairs and the server that holds all of our music upstairs with the computing equipment.  Sonos allows you to control what it is that you are listening to from your iPhone or iTouch.  And we can add zones when our rich uncle gets out of the poor house.  Technically we could have a zone for each bedroom, both offices, both bathrooms, and the living room, kitchen and basement and all listen to different things in each room.  In a 1,200 square foot house with four bedrooms, that could get you quite a headache.

The receivers came in this week and since I was trapped at home with limited activity options, I decided that I could sit at my computer and rip CD's that we own (and take up way too much room in our modest home) so we can box them up and send them to the basement for storage, thus freeing up more space in the living area for  - er - living!

Husband is a musically inclined person, so he has many CD's.  I too have many CD's from the days before iTunes.  Haven't listened to them in years.  I am not a music person like the Husband is.

Anyway, since Wednesday I have "ripped" 1,400 songs.  Only half the CD's are done and I am about ready to loose my flippin mind.

I quickly discovered that I can't use iTunes to rip the music anymore because it sucked up all the space on iPhone. So then I had to go to Windows Media Player, which worked, but one of my DVD drives is wearing out so it hummed LOUDLY whenever you inserted a CD.  Bother.

The good news is that we are half way there and now we have one rack in the guest room that has to be done. 

The better news is that I start back to work this week and will have an excuse not to rip any of the second rack.

Thank God for work!

Wicked Wicked, That's the Ticket

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Poncho's with Pom Poms!

That this movie was slighted by the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences was a crime!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

When Star's Understood Their Place

Walter Matthau, Sally Field AND Zsa Zsa! Buddy Hackett performing oral on a microhpne? Those were the days.

But you'd nev-vah find Angelina in any square if the show was on today. Brad, either - at least while he's married to that skank. Nor would you find Paris Hilton (maybe that's a good thing), or Beyonce or Matthew McConaughey, either. Rosie O'Donnell? Jesus you couldn't keep her away from a revived Hollywood Squares even if each square came equipped with Donald Trump.

They could do it today, but it wouldn't be the same...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Grandma has a problem

Not only does she has the gambling fever, but sonny boy backthere is wearing an ashtray on his head.

Babe Vigoda

Happy Birthday wishes are going out today to Abe "The Babe" Vigoda.  Who said there is no such thing as an ugly baby?

I am home!

I have arrived home after a 24 stay at Riverside Methodist Hospital, that was at once supreme, and only spoiled by the bland liquid diet and my "roommate" - a man from Southern Ohio who was in great pain and irrationally stupid.

The operation went according to the book. I could hear Donna, Felix, TBJ, Norma, Mr. Peenee and Mr. Bluehaunt all chanting "Where is my man, where is my baby?" during my operation!  Thanks to you it was a success - and a helluva caberet perfomance as well.

And my surgeon - a fascinating man named Oscar who looked good and therefore felt good -  not only took good care of me, BUT he also snagged me one of the gallstones so I can add it to my collection of family memoribilia!  When I tell that stone was so big that they had to break the mother to get out of me with the laproscope, I am just busting my buttoms with pride! I am as proud a mama of that stone as the woman who gave birth to the 20 pound baby in Mexico last year.

And the nurses were fantastic - they really were grand.  However the food was miserable.  Chicken boullion, orange "jell" snacks, "italian Ice" (notice that I left off the capital "I" as not to offend my Italain friends) , apple juice, grape juice and orange jucie and all of it "bland".  However this morning jest before I was discharged they sent up this sweet little faux omlete and I thought it it was the greatest feast a man could get.

All in all, it was pleasant expirience, given how Mr. Gallbladder had treated me a month ago today.  And I am lucky.  Of all the things that could have gone wrong, this was a walk in the park.

But back to the man in the bed beside me.  I'll call him Cletus.  Cletus had problems - the likes of which none of us could comprehend.  Children when I tell you by the third cry from help that he emmitted because he could not find his teeth, to the prayer calls he was getting from his home church in Racoon Spleen, Ohio to his wife and her loud ass talking on the cell phone, you can not imagine the suffering held by me as I stayed silent through the whole ordeal!   Not once did I tell Cletus to pipe down.  Nor did I say to him shut up.  I suffered in silence as if to take some of his pain from him.  And Cletus' problem.  "He got," his charming wife Donna Mae told me, "either gout, or what they call 'spinal stoneohsis'.  And where is that nurse with his pain meds?"

What was I to do?  I knew the poor man did not have "the gout", and I knew better to than to correct her by pointing out that its "spinal stenosis" - that is was I, not her oxycontin addicted Cletus, who had the stones.  What could I do? 

I did what I could, I offered her one of gaggingly sweet Italian ice's and said, just after she gota spoon of the pineapple ice in her mouth "I understand.  And just where is that nurse, she needs to measure my urine output in that jug."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Area any of these men your father or grandfather?

Bet you these fellows never in a million years ever thought that they would end up on a gay man's blog.  Salute!

We award First Place to J.W. Fox.  Overall the whole package measures up!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Through the magic of scheduled posting...

...while you are reading this, I am lying on the operating table, out like a light while a handsome Puerto Rician is poking about inside of me, searching, probing and getting ready to remove the offending gallbladder.

Trust me when I tell you this my pet's, I would much rather be in Philadelphia than where I am.

Jesus - he's not here, its just an expression - its dark where I am at the moment and I hope to high heaven that I don't see any bright light that might draw my attentions.

And of course, this would NOT be a good idea to have an out of body expiriences.  I have had enough of those in my youth during really bad romantic entanglements. 

Well, I'm stuck right here for a while but you can bet your bottom dollar that the next seven or so hours are not going to be funsy onsy for me or my nurses.

The good news is thtat when this over I will weight a whole pound less than when I went into this place.

Until we meet again - and remember I still need good wishes until I tell you its OK to stop, so keep chanting for God's sake.

Thats a good way to get yourself killed

Lets at least hope they got him out before before the wrinkles set in. 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What I am transfering to our network harddrive

We would love SoS even if the combo didn't create fantastic (and under rated) music - Colleen Drury's fashion sense is unbeatable!  This is a compilation of their works over the previous 18 years from Japan.  Evdently they are big in Japan.

Most people only remember their "charting" song Break Out, but SoS is sooooo much more - so much cooler and jazzy then they are "pop".  No tripe for me - they feel as good as a good glass of chardonay on warm summers eve.

If you have forgotten how incredible this combo is - and they prefer to record "live"; something other artists gave up on years ago - go buy this and indulge in the best music that you could be listening too!

Think of me, my children, from 7:30AM to 9:30AM EST...

...because that is when I will under the knife and let the doctors "harvest" by rock filled gallbladder.

I am unusally calm about this surgery thing.  I'm trying not to be blasé; I do not to temp the fates, or anything else.  Surgery is surgery.  But I must say that the cutting and them taking my organ and its tissue is not at all my concern. 

Its the knocking me out that scares me.  And then possiblity of the nausea and hurling after the surgery that I has me scared shitless. 

But I am calm, if for no other reason than I have never had any surgery in my life, and therefore do not know first hand how miserable I could be.

I plan to be back online by Tuesday evening or Wednesday morningish to let you know how I feel and how great it feels to be fifty pounds lighter thatnks to the removal of the gallbladder.  That is how much they weigh, isn't it?

So remember - think good positive thoughts and send you energy my way.  I'll need every ounce of it.

One way to get some pussy

You can just imagine the Lesbian wrath if this were played in the US.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Me! Me! Me!

First TBJ posted about Freda Payne's fur hemmed dress. Then I responded with Roberta Flack's Sticky Bun Hair on the Grammy's. He returned my thrust with something more powerful: A Meme! Thus I must comply with:

“Share three classic movie moments that have, in some shape or form, made you buy things, do things, think things that perhaps you shouldn't have.”

Lets see...what could it be...what could have had that impact on me? My problem is that I love movies that entertain me, which is a hodge podge lot at best. But the ones that make me desire, or reflect, or speak to something within me are movies with far deeper meanings - things that trigger emotion not material desire.

Airport (1970)
On a cold and bleak Saturday afternoon in 1970, when there was nothing on TV, my neighbor and friend Gary Moore decided that we needed to ask my father to take us to a movie.  I was seven, Gary was eight.  My father not wanting to sit through anything Disney said " about Airport?"  Gary - who was my polar opposite - gave an enthusiastic yes.  Me, never hearing of the movie asked "is it funny?" because being happy was a fleeting emotion for me - I wanted to be happy and movies were one of the few ways in my childhood that I could accomplish it.  And I was also a bit picky when it came to going to movies with my parents since they coned me into sitting through the Song of Norway, which was not everything they promised it would be.

My father assurred me that it was a funny movie, and off we went - with, I think, my middle brother.  Getting to the theatre I got my popcorn and my soda and waited.  The movie wasn't funny, in fact it was boring.  We had just returned from Florida on a jet liner, and two years before we had flown back from Los Angeles on a jet, which I had found to be enjoyable.  But watching other people fly on a plane was not fun.  I was bored, and even Helen Hayes couldn't bring a smile to my face.

And then the nervous man on the plane blew himself up, and my nightmare began.  Song of Norway this was not.

Totally unprepared, and lied to by the man who was suppossed to love me and want the best for me, their nightmare was now my nightmare.  When you grow in a violent home, the last thing you want is for that violence to invade the insulating cell that protects your fragile sense of security.  My father, ever attuned to me (ha!) and unaware of the insecurities that he planted in my head told me to "grow up" and "its just a movie."  "What are you crying about, its a "G" rated movie - just like Bambi," he said.  But Bambi never had to live in terror that the people on the airplane would die horrific deaths, and "Airport" was not a cartoon.

But the movie shattered my world.  I begin to develop all manner of trust issues.  The next thing to go were elevators - despite my parents assurances that they were safe, I was convinced that we would die in them when a cable broken and we would be smashed to smithereens.  Then it was the school bus which would lose its breaks and I would be smashed and lay dying while everyone else got out alive.  Then it was abandonment. Other phobias followed.  Each one undermining me, each one chipping away at my sense of self worth.  Like Susan Hayward, I wanted to live and every situation when I was out of control presented me with certain, irrational  terror and death.

"Why can't you develop an irrational fear of going sterile and ruining your eyes when you sit too close to the TV?" my mother asked me one day.  "I can tell you that you'd have a much worse death than if a school bus went over a cliff." 

It wasn't that I was afraid of death, it was the terror that you would have to live through before you died that scared me sensless.  The idea that one could be misled into feeling safe only to have the worst thing imaginable go wrong.  That was my real issue - or so said the school psychologists who interviewed me and reported back to my mother that I was neurotic at the age of nine.  "Who isn't?" was her reply when the report on me was concluded.

It was my mother who finally laid a line in the sand, she had saved enough money for tickets to the Rose Bowl in 1974 when I was 12.  It meant flying.  Flying meant dying in the worst way possible.  I protested, I begged and I pleaded not to go.  If we got on that plane, I was convinced that were going to be tortured by a man with a bomb and we would die.   But she held her ground.  I flew and survived to talk about it. 

Chinatown (1974)

Where do you begin with Chinatown? This is one of the few "great" works of cinema that emerged from the 1970s. Yet its topics - greed, murder, cruelty, incest, parental betrayal are so strong and so well portrayed that Americans are afraid to celebrate this film.

In 1974 I was dragged to California because my mother got us tickets on a tour "junket" to the Rose Bowl - OSU was playing - and damn it we were going come Hell or High Water. I was a basket case about flying (see above) because of an incident involving Airport, the movie and my father's role in making me see the film, so I was convinced we were going to die on that plane. We didn't. And once in California I found myself in enthralled with Los Angeles and its movie star heritage.

Making matters even better, my Father's sister and brother-in-law - My Aunt Betty and Uncle Lou, had an absolutely heavenly house on Stradella Road in Bel Air that we visited. The house had an astounding view of the Canyon and downtown L.A. The night time lights were intoxicating as were the homes perched on the side of the mountain.

So when Chinatown came out I had to see it. I was also 11 years old. After pestering my mother, who said "go ask your father," I started pestering my father who said "let me talk to your mother." My mother did what she always did when her was on the phone: She lit up a Vantage, made a cup of instant coffee and put the phone to her ear periodically saying "Yes Marvin...Uh huh, Marvin...I never said that Marvin..."

When my father took me to see the movie I was entranced by its portrayal of Los Angeles and water rights and Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway and the views of the city. And then there was that whole "She's my sister, she's my daughter she's my sister..." Coming out of the movie theatre my father said "You know what happened between that father and Faye Dunaway was wrong." To which I responded "yes, but don't you wish you could go back and live in Los Angeles back then?" A silly thought for child still basking in the amber-glow of John Alonzo's Oscar nominated cinematography.

Bells Are Ringing (1960)

Not Judy Holiday's best movie, but her last - a fun trifle about a girl working at a telephone answering service. You remember them, don't you? The first answering machine I ever saw was on January 21, 1983 in the apartment of the man that I call my first ex-husband. I had just come out to myself - admitting I was gay and hearing those words come out of my mouth was quite a shock. But I saw that answering machine and I thought it was the most decadent thing I had ever seen. When I moved to Columbus I got one because it was something that I needed, but it was really a symbol that I had arrived.

But when I saw Bells Are Ringing, I was taken by the opening scenes immediately following the names of the stars and the producers and directors. It’s a montage of young women and ringing phones and missed calls and campiness. I had to have that for my out going message because I found it clever, Susanswerphone, if said quickly in a Brooklyn Accent it could sound like "Stusanswerphone." Getting it on tape was another matter. Rent the film, get a VCR, play rewind, play, rewind, record, record record.

Thinking myself clever, it took my brother in Cleveland and his "You know that outgoing message is useless and it wastes my time" to realize that if the answering machine was a token of adulthood, that outgoing message that was so cute in the film, was pretty childish.  I reverted to the standard message; Stusanswerphone was out of business.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

The brilliance of Nia Vardalos' My Big Fat Greek Wedding is - if you come from a large city - you realize that you can remove the "Greek" and insert any ethnic group and get the same movie with the jokes, but told from the Italian, Jewish, Polish, Japanese or Serbo Croation vantage point. The only group that this movie can be made to work with are WASPs because the WASP's have to be your straight man to make your ethnic group look even more wacky.

For me, the movie takes on another dimension. I am the result of my parents being half Jewish and half Methodist (who converted to Judaism before I was born). So not only do I get the humor of the Greek family (which is closest to the humor you would get if the movie was My Big Fat Jewish Wedding), but I also see what happens when the two tribes don't mix so well. Because of this, I am neither really Jewish to the Jewish community, and I'm not a non-Jew to the gentile world. And because I have never made a connection with God, I'm not sure what that connection should feel like.

So while I get the humor, and feel an understanding for Nia's consternation, I also know that for those of us who have a foot in each world - one in the ethnic, the other in the non-ethnic, neither side ever really takes you for what you are - you are always going to be someone from the other side, you are always gone to be one of "them". For those of us that can never bond, we are neither fish nor fowl but we are always on the outside looking in.

Still I found myself yearning that Lanie Kazan was my mother and that if that couldn't be arranged that she could at least find good roles in popular movies.

Mother (1996)

I've never been a fan of Albert Brooks, until I saw his film "Mother".   Lets be honest, who here in the blog-o-sphere hasn't had an issue with their mother at some point or another?  Some mothers give birth and leave their young never to look back, like Jenny in East of Eden.  On the other end of teh spectrum, other mothers give birth and will never leave you, no matter how far you try and run, like Mama Rose in Gypsy.

My mother is, a little in the middle - which is why Brooks film is so brilliant.  He got my mother, and planted her into the mind of Debbie Reynolds and gave Reynolds great lines that sound like they would come out of my mothers mouth. 

There's a scene in the movie where Brooks goes to the grocery store and Reynolds drives him there.  They circle through the parking lot, looking for a place to park - Reynolds just keeps missing the spots and keeps driving.  This is my mother, to a "T".  Albert Brooks understands me, I said to myself.

Truth be told, this was a lie to myself.  Albert Brooks can't really understand me because Albert Brooks doesn't know that I exist.  And, Brooks can't capture 100% of my mother and the things that created her or made who she is.  She and I have our differences, but I am grateful that she is who she is after being through everything that she's been through.

But when Brooks made this movie and combined lots of mothers and their quirks, he had to have hoped that people would identify with them, and I fell for it hook, line and sinker.

OK, like all good Meme's, I get to tag two people.  Therfore I tag:

Mr. Peenee because he gave me a Meme once and it made me flatulent for a week- and -
Mr. Bluehaunt because he wears a mask and I find that terribly arousing!

Good luck boys!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Everything in ruins

My friend Sharon called me to tell me that her nephew died last night.  The 18 year old had gone in for gallbladder removal yesterday afternoon after not feeling well for sometime.  When the surgeon's made the laproscopic incisions, they found a mass, which they biopsied and discovered was malignant.  The young man was taken back to recovery, where he was able to come to and communicate with his parents before going back into surgery for the mass.  When the larger incision was made, it was evident that the cancer had spread throughout his abdomen.  As the surgeon's conferred, the young man's heart stopped and a beloved child, brother, son, nephew and grandson died just as he was about to step off into his own life.

After I heard about it, I went and looked at his Facebook Page and read his posts from Monday and Tuesday about not feeling great and tired of not feeling great.  He was excited about his surgury because getting rid of the gall bladder would make him feel better and he promised his friends and family that he would be up and back and better than before. 

Off to the side though was a quote from Charlie Brown, to the effect that he was afraid that when he was his happiest, something could go wrong and ruin everything.

It seems that the older I get the harder these events hit me.  Not because I'm having gallbladder surgery on Monday, but I've at least had a chance at doing something, testing myself, accomplishing things that others said I could never do.  He never had those chances we take as adults.  Thats what gets me.

So Monday when I go under it will be with a bit more trepidation, but I will emerge stronger, healthier than before because a little bit of him will be in me.

The Smoking Closet

Since I have written about my E (Leatrice, who watched over me as a child), the memory was raised about the cleaning women that worked for us when I was a child.   We had cleaning women because the house on South Woodland was large, and because it was a sign that we had "made it".

The first one was a wonderful woman named Rosalie. She was my father’s favorite and she worked for us when we lived on Sherrington, and then for a brief period while we lived on South Woodland. Rosalie was very kind to all of us. But the thing that sticks in my mind is that Rosalie wore bedroom slippers all the time.   When my father would see her arrive, or would see her when he got home, he would sing out "Rose-A-Lee!"  I think that Rosalie may have worked for my father before my parents were married when he lived in Mayfield Heights.

There was Phoebe, a returning contestant, who came when I was in second and third grade. I liked Phoebe a great deal. But she had no time for children and talked in the third person. “Sweetie, I can’t talk with you, Phoebe has to vacuum” and “Child, you need to go up stairs and watch TV or go outside and play because Phoebe has to clean downstairs and she can’t it with just messing it right back up.”  After the Matty affair, Phoebe came back for a while, but left again when my parents seperated.

But the one forever burned in my mind was a woman named Matty that worked for us. Matty came on a high recommendation from one of my father’s “friends" and that was like getting unsolcited advice on how to stop drinking from a drunk laying in the gutter.  A recommendation from one his friends was a real crap shoot.  I think, I was in first or second grade when Matty came into our life, so I would have been 7 and 8 years old, but you don’t forget your first fright. And she was it. She was dark skinned – almost blue in her complexion, Matty was a walking bag of bones with crooked yellow tar stained teeth and glasses.   Whenever I hear Whoopi Goldberg do her Jamacian routine - and the charecter talks about a person who looked like an old raisin, I think of Matty.

She could have been the nicest person in the whole world – and evidently she was adored by the child in another house she worked at, so I was told by my father. But I was totally freaked out by her for the exact same reason my mother avoided her: Matty was filthy, and I don’t mean foul mouthed, but her uniforms were filthy.

"When I saw that her slip wasn't clean," my mother said, "I knew she wasn't clean." 

But the cleaning women were my father’s hires. My mother had E working for us. So as not to rock the boat, she avoided Matty at every cost. If Matty was cleaning upstairs, my mother was downstairs. And if Matty was down stairs, my mother went out shopping.  "Why should I be a prisoner of my bedroom when I can be at Bonwit Teller?"

My issues with Matty were further compounded when I decided that Matty had the worst disease possible: cooties. Now when I was a little kid, a cootie was a game where you built a bug. First person to build the “Cootie” won. But when I got to kindergarten, that’s where I discovered from the other boys that girls had cooties, and I discovered from the girls that I had cooties because all boys have cooties in first grade.  Since I had made up my mind that Matty had cooties, I asked if she knew what a cootie was to see if anyone else had ever raised the topic with her.

“Cooties?" she laughed, exposing her yellow teeth.  "Only dirty bums got the cooties,” she told me while she snuffed out a Winston into her chicken noodle soup bowl.  "How do you know this?" I asked.  "Well everone knows that bums got cooties.  You got to burn their clothes because if you put on their pants then you got the cooties too!"  Evidently Matty had been finding bums in the street, taking their pants and wearing them, and burning them I reasoned.  This hobby, along with the Matty's cooties, the sight of her snuffing her cigarette ashes in chicken soup, and the smell of the Winston made me queasy. God save us all!

But let’s set the cooties aside for a moment, and let’s discuss Matty’s smoking.

Now my mother smoked, so it wasn’t like the smoking was a big deal in our house, but Matty’s smoking was prolific.  She had her Winston's and the world was her ash tray.  My mother had to have conversations with her about it. E even got involved.

“Sister,” I remember E telling her, “I am not telling how to do your job, but you cannot clean this whole house with one hand, and stink it up again with what you got burning in the other.” If the constant smoking was an issue, what she smoked was an ever bigger one: Winston’s. Their smell was pungent, sweet and stomach turning.

Once I saw Matty smoking and her ash fell in the carpet. She saw me looking at what happened, took her foot and ground the ash deep in the carpet and said “It kills the moth larva,” before vacuuming it back up. By this point I was convinced that Matty was not a human, but an honest to God cootie herself. I started getting a nervous condition where I needed my own can of Windex and a roll of paper towels, and would start spraying everything within sight the minute Matty left the house for the Rapid (Shaker’s version of a streetcar) home. If she had touched it was polluted with an imagined film all things Matty. I sprayed Windex on anything, and I sprayed on everything that you aren’t supposed to use it on. I was obsessed with eradicating anything germ she left on whatever she touched.

Matty left our employment shortly after another confrontation about her incessant smoking problem. This time it was E who saw smoke rolling out of a coat closet by our back door one day. Just then my father walked in the back door.

“Jesus Key-riced! Do you smell something burning?” he asked.

“I think you need to check that closet.” She said as she put her coat and scarf on. “It could hold the answer to a lot funny things going on around here.”

“There could be a fire in there!” he stated. But everyone’s inaction was pretty evident. If there was a raging inferno in that closet, it would surprise just about everyone concerned. And raging infernos don’t puff their smoke, either.

“The only fire in that closet is coming from a Winston. I told her once already she isn’t a hog and all that smoking she’s doing isn’t going to cure what ails her, or preserve her.” She gave me a hug, gave my father a look that said “you killed it, you clean it,” and out the door E went, not wanting to be around for what was coming next.

Dad opened the closet, and there was Matty, in a cloud of fumes, puffing away.

“What the….”

“Oh Mr. K, I needed a smoke and I didn’t want to get the house dirty so I just thought I could step in here and light up for a …” My father shut the door. After a minute's worth of silence that felt like an hour, he walked to the garage and got the Cadillac started.

That night he took Matty to the Rapid, paid her for the day and her severance and then came back home. The next morning he loaded the trunk of the Cadillac with every coat in that closet and left for the dry cleaners, intent on removing Matty’s “cooties” and their scent from our home forever.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Women of Casino Royale Deserved Better Careers

Joanna Pettet

Dahlia Lavi

Ursula Andress

Jacquiline Bisset

Debbie Kerr

Anna Quayle

Each of these women are beautiful, and each deserved better careers than they received.  Of all of the Debbie Kerr (Deborah sounds so stodgy) faired the best, but she could never break out of the mold of playing cold, proper, and overly annunciating women until Casino Royale rolled around and she got the chance of a lifetime to ham it up - and she did splendidly!
Jacqueline Bisset enjoyed a calm career - nothing too over the top (until Paul Bartell's Scenes From the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills), as did Ursula Andress after a promising start.  Perhaps Ursula's fate was hampered by her overly protective and egotistical husband John Derrick, who threw Julie Newmar over for Andress - only to defenestrate Ursula for Bo Derrick.  And look what good that did him.  Dead you know. Pity.
Anna Quayle got a fun turn in this movie, but an even better turn as the kraut Queen who hated children in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  And I was so rooting for her in that film, too!

Dalhia Lavi scored Casino Royale's best line though.  The Isreali actress (with the FAB hair of the movie) introduced herself by saying "I'm the new secret weapon, and I've just been perfected."  Who could argue with that?  Lavi's cvareer was limited to a few movies and a couple albums.  She remains popular in Israel, but she should have been a "star".
But the biggest loss was Joanna Pettet.  She could sing.  She could dance, she could do drama and she could do comedy.  And for a while she was doing Alex Cord, the suave leading man of the late 1960s.  Joanna kept busy, but her career drifted off and she's virtually unknown in today's world of cinema.  SHE DID get the cherry role in this film though - that of Mata Bond - the love child of Mata Hari and James Bond (suspend disbelief, suspend disbelief).  Pettet ended up with more screen time in this three hour frolic than did any one else, PLUS she got to go up against Anna Quayle as the evil Frau of "International Mothers Help, East Berlin" (a spy training school for Shcmeersh).  But by 1972 she was starring in movies of the week like "Weekend Nun" with others whose prime had passed (Ann Southern, for one).   The video below is the only one that I could find for her on YouTube.  Someone from a language for which I do not have the font misidentifed what the white stuff spewing into the faces of others is.  (Shame on them!)

Olympic Schadenfreude

Every two years, Americans partake in the sport of Olympic Shadenfreud - that of watching the athletes of the world do their best only to fail in Olympic fashion. 

Monday, the news from Vancouver is that the Russians are shut out of medal contention in pairs figure skating for the first time since 1964.  It seems that Russian Yuko Kavaguti (above) fell on the ice, thus ending the 12 Olympic run.  Poor Yuko, no soup for you.  It must be humiliating that this happened.  Let's watch it on the instant replay, again, and again, and again.  Quick, cut to the box where Yuko and her partner are awaiting their scores with the coach who is not pleased.  Of course there used to be anxiety on top of the humiliation - back in the days of of the Russian dictators, Yumi's little mistake would have at least earned her a one way ticket to "camp" in Siberia.  But now, Yumi must be happy that her life's drama is playing out on the NBC Schadenfreude Olympics.  Tsk, tsk, tsk.

And then there is the case of Norway's Petter Northug, a strapping young man of great accomplishment, and the current world champion in his sport of cross country skiing.  Favored to win in the Men's event on Monday, the NBC Commentators took great relish in watching Northug self-destruct on the course.  Even though they called his lack-luster performance a non-issue, they kept going back over to the camera trained on this man and continued to shred his performance, and proclaimed with glee that he finished a middling 41st.  Never mind that the closest American to the viking finished a full 30 seconds behind Northug.  ANd did anyone out there thing of Northung's last name?  NOR and THUG; a lst name that surely stands for a combination of "Norway" and "Thug" in the minds of American Spectator.

When it comes to the Olympics, American's in their living rooms always take the Gold in Schadenfreude.

Inspiration of Pricess Leia's Sticky Buns Hair

I have been having fits of apoplexy since Mr. Todd at SSUWAT unnerved me with Freda Payne's Fur trimmed Glam Gown from the 1972 Grammy Awards.  And this can not stand without being answered with a find of my own: Roberta Flack's Afro Sticky Bun Hair - a full three years before Star Wars!  Gotta love the 1970s!  The ball is in your court, Sir Todd!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Rats Crawl All Over Them

The way we live today is very different than the way we lived when I was a child in the 1960s. I’m old enough to remember when people got dressed up, or at least dressed better when you went places, be it your grandparents or the Heinen’s Grocery Store on Chagrin Boulevard and Avalon Road.

In those days you just didn’t jump in the car and go someplace if you needed something, because “What if someone sees us,” as my mother would say. To a child’s mind, this made no sense, but what it meant was “People are going to see us as we are and they will talk about us, so get inside and let me wash your face and give you a fresh shirt to put on.”

Then when we got to the store, and my mother would hoist little me into the cart seat, we would shop, until someone saw us, then we had to stop and my mother would have polite conversation, which usually started by saying something like “I’m half ashamed that you see us like this…” I never understood what she was getting it because we looked like everyone else in Shaker – clean, wearing nice clothing. But what she was really getting at was the coded message that we could look much better than good – we could look fabulous if we needed to.  And if we look just a shade under dressed, then people will know that we've got it all going on.

The comment by my mother was usually met with a “You look fine…I must look a wreck, but I had to run out to the…” and so it went.   The coded message being sent between them was that "I keep a clean house" and "If you're not telling anyone you saw me, I'm not telling I saw you.  And my house is just as clean as your house."

Today, if you need something at the store, you go out and you get it; none of this game playing “oh I must look a wreck.” You’ve been working in the yard for hours on a hot sunny day and need to run to the hardware store. You’re dirty, sweaty, and you bump into a neighbor and its “yard work – you too?” Of course you can clean up. But life is too short sometimes. People understand that these days.  Things, and what we say are more direct.  We are less likely to use round about methods - we go for what we want.

So life was full of coded messages that adults said to one and other.  But they also told those coded messages to us. Whether you call these Mommielies or something else, our parents, and other adults, back then would tell us things to keep from doing things. Sometimes the code harbored a lesson we needed to learn. Other times adults didn’t know what to say to us so they invented terrific lies to scare us into doing (or not doing) certain things.  If the boogeyman wasn't going to get you, then gypsies would, if you survived running with scissors.  Life - they wanted us to know - was full of dangers, both real, and imagined.

My Aunt Miriam was a master at telling these types of tales to us, and above all, she loved “the rat story” and used it as often as she could.   Miriam was born in the “Old Country” – what is now Latvia – and she came to the United States with my grandparents as a very young child, probably around 1907, so I think the rat story had something to do with her upbringing over there.  Maybe she saw a rats on the streets of Dvinsk as a toddler, or maybe on the ship during the crossing. Or maybe it was something my Grandparents told her.  Whatever the basis for it, if she could, Miriam would rely on tales vermon to keep us from doing things that we were not suppossed to do. 

Miriam was my father’s eldest sibling – I think Miriam was around fourteen or fifteen when my father was born.  Since I was a late in life baby, by the time I was born, Miriam was a grandmotherly age.   Her daughter, my Cousin Joyce, had children that were a year or two off me, so this was a case of a slipped generation.

Aunt Miriam was very particular.  As my mother tells the story, George and Miriam hosted  well wishers after my parents were married in downtown Cleveland in the courthouse.  The afternoon before the wedding, Miriam called my mother asked if my mom if she could pick up the cookies for the reception at Hough Bakery and drop them off, which my mother did.  That night, it was the sister of the groom, not the bride to be in a panic on the phone.  "You didn't have them wrap each butter cookie!" she stated to my mother.  "George and I will be up all night dusting the crumbs off each cookie!" 

"Let me get this straight - you're the one getting married and she's complaining because you screwed it up and she's going to be up  all night, dusting cookies?" I asked.

"She wanted everything to be perfect, and you can't fault a person for wanting to do what's right," my mother replied.  "And to her, making sure the reception was important.  Times were different then."

"Would you stay up all night dusting crumbs off cookies?"

"I'm not your Aunt Miriam," my mother pointed out. "And its not 1960.  People had different priorities back then."  Still I had in my mind this tableaux of both George and Miriam, hunched over their kitchen table, squinting in the bad light from the ceiling fixture, each holding specially made brushes, and each gently flicking crumbs from the surface of the butter cookies.

Aunt Miriam's house was highly decorated, and all of the upholstered furniture was encased in protective plastic to preserve it, much like Lenin is preserved in his coffin. The decorating went all the way to the candy in living room bowls.  The candy matched the decor as well – it was part of what Miriam called “the total look” of her house. The thing was, that candy looked good, but it was off limits to anyone because if someone ate it, it would spoil the total look.

This is where the rat story gets deployed in my father’s family.

At one Passover Seder Miriam bought something other than the usual Brachs Sourballs - which we were not allowed to eat because it was a sure ticket to chocking to death - an exotic candy to Jewish kids: Jordan Almonds. We’d never seen anything like them – pale blue and green – and this was a time when there were no blue candies. Jordan Almonds are a staple in Italian Catholic households at Christmas, but to us, the were unearthly.  What did blue taste like? For that matter what did that color of green taste like? And what was under the candy coated shell?  We were drawn to then like flies to honey, but Miriam would sense that we were too quiet and like a psychic, she knew exactly where we were and what we were about to do.

“DROP IT!” she commanded to her grandson Chip.  Seeing that I had already had one in my mouth, she held out her hand in front of my face. “SPIT!” I did as I was told.

“THESE,” she said to me, and Chip, in a tone reminiscent of how someone speaks to being that they suppose is the village idiot, “ARE STORED IN BULK – THE RATS CRAWL ALL OVER THEM!  THEY ARE DIRTY.  WE DO NOT EAT THESE.  THEY WILL MAKE YOU SICK.”

The code had been deployed. It never dawned on us that it was highly improbably that rats had wallowed in these candies before Miriam loaded them into the gold ceramic dish. Nor did it occur to that one day we would be faced with Sinclair Lewis’ “The Jungle” in English class, or that the FDA had guidelines for what levels of insects parts are acceptable in processed foods.

All we knew was, that according to Aunt Miriam, that rats crawled all over the candy. And we found that fascinating. So fascinating that I adopted that phrase and carried it with me to nursery school the following week, where I used it at afternoon snack time.

“You’re not going to eat that cookie, are you?” I would say accusingly to one of my school mates at Jewish Day Nursery School. “They are stored it in bulk and the rats crawled all over it.” This went over the schoolmates head – we were all too young to understand that rats carried all manner of disease. Still I persisted and by the end of the week, I must have said it to the wrong thing to the wrong kid because my mother got a call from the woman who ran the school and I ended up being sat in a seat in her office and I was in big trouble.  Parents were hysterical that rats were intermingling with the food, according to their children. The health department was coming for an off cycle inspection.

“Why have you been telling people that?” the head of the school demanded.

“My aunt Miriam said so,” I replied – too young to lie and seeing no reason to anyway. “She said that the rats crawl all over food that is stored in bulk. What’s bulk?” My innocence worked in my favor and I was off the hook, but I was told never to repeat the story of the rats again.

My father had a different take on this situation.

“Do NOT let your Aunt know that you told this 'rat story' to anyone. The candy was fine. She just didn’t want you eating it because it wasn’t put there for you to eat in the first place,” he yelled.

Something in my mind clicked. Adults would tell you things that weren’t really true to keep you from doing stuff that they didn’t want you to do. Why not just tell you to stay away from it? Why not just say “no”? What other lies were they telling us?  Were they lying about babies?  What about Santa Claus?  And were all those people who purported to be my Aunts and Uncles really who they said they were?

Sometime after that I was caught sitting too close to a color TV and my mother yelled at me to get away from it. “It will make you sterile and ruin your eyes.” I moved. Not because I was worried about becoming sterile – whatever that meant to my eight year old mind – or about my eyes, but because the veil of smoke and mirrors had been lifted and I knew what she meant was I was too close to the TV.  Why she just didn't say it remains a mystery.

“Don’t eat that sugar cube,” my grandmother admonished me one day in sixth grade as I tried to take a cube from the sugar dish. “The rats,” she made whiskers of her fingers trying to emulate a rat, “crawl all over them.” But she was using them in her coffee, I pointed out. That got me a smack for being flip. I got in big trouble for use of logic on that one. The code was the code, and no one likes a smart code breaker.

The rat story stayed in the family a few more years, but by the time my grandmother died, it was pretty much a non-issue. And as I got older it became less plausible, less probable.

"Stu, Honey," my Aunt Nan said to me one day when I was in college.  I was 20 and had just popped a red Brach's Sour Ball into my mouth and and had an idea what was coming. 

"You're going to tell me that these are stored in bulk and that the rats crawl all over them, right?"

"Its awful, isn't it," she said.  "And then they sell it to people like us."

"If these things are so dangerous, why are they always around?"  I was 20.  I could ask the question.

My aunt thought about it for a second.  "I don't know.  They just are."
Years later when I actually got to eat a Jordan Almond, it was a let down. First of all the candy coating is just that - a coating of sugar and water and food coloring.  Its sweet, but beyond that its plain. It didn’t taste blue – it just tasted sweet. And you have to like almonds, which I don't. Feh!

Still, whenever I see Jordan Almonds, the first thing that comes to mind is that somewhere, in some warehouse, a cunning rat is doing his best to make sure that a mother, somewhere, someplace is able to tell her children something close to the truth.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day, Part 3

Love and desire have many faces...

Here's hoping your Valentines Day is spent lookings at the one you love, and they smile back when they see you!

Happy Valentines Day, Part 2

Who wouldn't like to spend Valentines Day in Nathan Gunn's arms today?

Happy Valentines Day, Part 1

Be on the lookout for Cupid's cuties.  They'll be the ones with bow and arrow today...

Friday, February 12, 2010

There is no such thing as an ugly baby


There are just ugly baby portraits.

This weekend...

...get yourself all dressed up and go out and buy something that amuses you!

When you think of cocktails, think of...

...The Mermaid Lounge in Cincinnati, Ohio.  "Service with Charm!"

David Wain's Shaker Heights, 1978

I think I knew his sister Amy Wain! Then David went on to become a big name in film. Go figure.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

One of life's cruel fates

Mother was right: Your attendence record has a way of following you for the rest of your life.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Metlox Aztec, for TBJ

METLOX AZTEC - Jawbone Dish

A couple days ago I posted our china and dish patterns.  The Metlox seems to be a crowd pleaser.  This is Metlox's Aztec pattern, which I love.  If we hadn't started on California Mobile, I think I would have made this our dish pattern. 

Compared to Metlox's California Freeform and Mobile, Aztec is very affordable, I think had a better design that goes with any color scheme. The grey blue and the black are really timeless!  Search on eBay for Metlox+Aztec.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Just like a real girl, except...

...they could never get Barbie to roll her eyes and look mortified like real girls do.

Have yourself an Aviance night

Bay Area Douche Bags on Househunters

There's a foot of snow outside and not much to do inside, so the husband and I were watching Househunters on HGTV and we must be living right because the show focused on these two people from the Bay Area looking for a weekend get away that costs under 2 million (in otherwords, two people that we just can't identify with) in Napa.

And Oh My GOD, Becky!  And these two major douche bags!

Now I am sure that they are simply lovely people.  But they are spoiled yuppies and they whine!  No vineyard view!  Too big!  Too small!  Where will he soulfully play his guitar chords? And wherever will she put her artist studio!  Wahhh, wahhh, wahh!

My favorite was her "I don't like the color of this room."  Give me a break!  If you can afford a two million dollar weekend getaway, you can afford to pop for a painter to paint the rooms your favorite shade of beige. 

How do people like this get on TV?  Worse, why do I watch them?

Damn Robot Children

You know you, Robot Children are so damn needy.  "Look at me...I'm sweeping...Please oil my joints..."  Sweet Jesus, next time I'm buying my Child Robot Housekeeper at Best Buy and I'm not spending the extra on the cute module either..

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Electra Wow...Electra Wow...Electra Wow...Electra Wow...

Don't you just love Judy Strangis? Room 222. Mean Mary Jean (not my mother, the Plymouth Duster sales girl in the commercials). And Electra terrific as DynaGirl.

About two thirds the way through look for a couple frames in which Michael Blodgett (oh he of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls - and one time Mr. Meredith Baxter). Electra amazing...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Family China: Our dishes

Metlox "California Freeform" water pitcher

Metlox "California Freeform" - Chip 'n Dip

Metlox "California Mobile" Dinner Plate

Metlox "California Mobile" Coffee Cup & Saucer

The Mother-in-Law discovered Claifornia Mobile in the 1950s and by the time I came around it was broken or gone.  So...I went looking for it and found it on eBay and found enough to make a set.  But because they are not dishwasher safe (maybe they are, but I'd rather not expiriment on the pieces) we use them in the summer, occassionally.

Since I'm not a fan of pink and teal, I prefer the harder to find California Freeform pieces with the rust and aqua (not crazy about that yellow though).

The great thing about Metlox is even though its pottery, the shapes and forms are beyond words, and there are other fabulous "modern" patterns like Aztec, California Palm and Navajo.  Trust me - if Laura Petrie really existed, she would have California Palm dishware!  Don't believe me? Look it up! 

Our China; My mothers pattern

Rosenthal China, "Coins" designed by Raymond Loewy (1950s)

My mother's china is the opposite of my great grandmothers - which is formal.  I never really liked mom's china until I got older and it really is my favorite.  24 carat gold in the circles, of sett by light grey circles; Replacements Ltd. calls it "Rhythm Shapes"  Its simple.  Its fun.  Its clean.  And it was designed by Raymond Loewy - the same man who designed Studebakers (and the Hoover logo, too!).  We use this for parties and special occassions.  My never had the coffeepot - found that on eBay for less than $40!

Our China: Memmy's Pattern

Noritake's Minaret ca. 1921

Memmy - my mothers grandmother - married a second time in 1920 to a Columbus Ohio inventor and engineer.  She went from a rural farm (no electric, no indoor plumbing) to a really nice house in Upper Arlington, Ohio.  This was her china.  My mother, born in 1924, remembers that Sunday dinners were formal affairs and that she thought her step grandfather was a mystic because he could command the maid to come into the dining room to clear plates and other needed functions simply by will.  It wasn't until later that she and her brother were playing under the dining room table that they found the floor pedal under the carpet for the service chime.

Friday, February 5, 2010

When in Massena, New York, be sure to stay here!

Located near the Welland Canal in beautiful Massena, New York, the Motel Oral offers the decerning traveler with 29 throughly santizied rooms outfitted with asphalt-asbestos floor tile floors, hi-gloss ceramic glazed block walls, fiberglas-asbestos line privacy drapes and twin beds (featuring MAGIC FINGERS vibrating units), plus prviate baths and Gideon Bibles in every room at an affordable price.  Televisions available! Ground floor rooms also come with free complimentary lawn chairs at every door.  All second floor rooms come with a usuable balcony! How many motels can boast that?

Motel Oral's swimming pool is open every June through August.  Outside newly painted exterior! Camp sites available!  Just steps to the Eisenhower Locks! Call ahead for reservations - don't be turned away from all of this!

Looking for a place nearer to Buffalo?  Try our sister motel, the Anal Inn and Suites.  "Just look for the sign of the 'winkin' sphincter!"

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Whoa, Nelly: Pretty is as pretty does.


Someone I know from my profession, who works in a job that I once held, messages me on Facebook and tells me that a former "client" that we both know is on Facebook and that I need to look at the profile.

So I do.

The woman who we both knew doesn’t look as I remember her. Six years can do a lot to a person. 

Sure has changed. Wow we wowwie.

Self awareness is something that evades some people.  It does. Yup.

Dateline 1977. Predatory female on the loose!

Poor Mr. Baker. Not feeling well and all. If he only saw what he's going get hit with. His own personal Sante Kimes.

I don't remember this commercial, but I do remeber the "Bell System" animation at the end of it.

This is one reason why we love TBJ and SSUWAT

A day or so ago I sent TBJ at Stirred, Straight Up, with a Twist a note telling him about the above clip after I failed to find any still pictures about Ms. Day's stunning coat/gown. And true to form, TBJ found exactly what I was writing about and posted it on his FABULOUS blog, SSUWAT. We love him for these acts of kindness, but I love him because he is a very sweet friend as well. You don't find people with as good a heart that often, and his is pure gold indeed.

Do Not Disturb - Ms. Day's second movie with Aussie Rod Taylor isn't that great of a movie (She plays the wife of an Executive for Poughkeepsie Woolens; the couple get an oversees transfer, and the ignored housewife scores an unwanted French admirer and must get her man back in this seen it before comedy. BORING, but better than Caprice (what isn't?).

ANYHOO, the one scene in this movie that sticks with anyone with a lick of sense is Day, making her entrance at a soirée in this stunning orange sherbet sequined dress. HOWEVER its the way she reveals the dress that is breath taking - her plain jane trench coat is also lined with tangerine sequins as well. And just when you think that it can't get any better, she reveals the back of the dress.

When I saw this as a child of 10 for the first time, all I could think about was that everyone woman, just once in her life, deserves an outfit of this caliber, and the chance to make this type of entrance.

If only life were still this stylish - a world before Crocs.  It just leaves you speechless!

My husband is the reason why we can't keep a good Vestal Virgin around...

...and do you have any idea what a pain it is to find a good Vestal Virgin these days?  Or just a virgin for that matter?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Forever my E

In my life, I have had two great loves, both known to me by the endearment of “E”.

There is my husband, who I love very much – nicknamed “Big E” as a child by his brothers, and then shortened into just “E” when he topped six feet. I’ve known him since August of 1981; we’ve been together since 1997. We celebrated our commitment with our families and friends in 1999 and then we tied the knot in 2008.

But today marks the 38th year that I have been without the first great love of my life, my first “E” – the one I named so because I was too young to say her named, Leatrice, or Lee when I learned how to talk, and the name stuck.

I was a late in life baby for both my parents. When I was born, my mother went into a pretty serious post partum depression. My father, an attorney decided that she needed someone around to take some of the pressure off and help around the house, and allow her some space so she could also take care of father’s two sons by his first marriage. He got a name from someone, and Leatrice Thomas came to our house a couple days a week with the understanding that her place was temporary – once mother was back up to taking care of everything in about six months, the position would end.

At first E helped with me, allowing my mother to shop, run errands and ferry my brothers to Hebrew School, friends and music lessons. Along the way while I napped, she did the laundry, helped with the ironing, made sure the dog was walked and that I was fed, changed and happy as a baby can be.

As I transitioned from newborn to infant to toddler, E became a fixture in our home. She became so important to me that as a sign of my love and security with her, I stood for the first time for her, not my mother.  "I was getting your bath water ready and Leatrice called out 'Mrs. K - get the camera.  He's standing!'" as my mother tells the story.  I still have that picture of me in the crib, E’s arms ready to catch me if I fell, as my mother took the picture.

But as I grew older, the relationship between my parents disintegrated. My father wanted to be the one who was right all the time and my mother wanted something where she wasn’t bothered by everything. Its hard to be in relationship when one person isn't at their best and another one who doesn't understand why they just don't snap out of it.  They never should have married, I don't remember them ever talking. Even with a toddler and two teenage boys, my parents couldn’t sustain civility towards one and other; soon hostilities broke out, and the yelling and screaming turned to punches and slaps and calls to the police.  My brothers took our father’s side - who could can blame them, he was their only living parent, and she was the odd person out. I took my mothers side. I remember during one fight – I must have been two or three – my mother at her bedroom door and my father in the hall and physical hatred between them being expressed and somehow I got in the middle and started hitting my father’s legs. He was in his underwear and I remember quite clearly how the shins on his legs had the skin pulled tight – the hair had gone from them years ago as happens with some men. I remember how razor sharp the bone was as I started hitting him, screaming at him, wanting him to die for hurting my mother. The police would come – I thought they came to everyone’s house in Shaker Heights, and things would calm down until the next night when it would all start all over again.  God, how I hated him then for it, and I hate still hate him for it all these years later.

But when E was in the house, everyone behaved. The “employee” who wasn't supposed to see what was going on, saw everything.  She saw the black and blue marks on my mother.  She was no stupid woman, and she did not suffer fools wisely.  She knew what was up and who was at dishing it out.  Moreover, she didn’t take any guff from anyone.  My father tried to get rid of her, but she announced that she wasn’t going. He ordered her from the house, but it was he who ended up moving out.

All I knew was that when E pulled up to our house in powder blue Falcon, I was safe. No one yelling; no one screaming. And I knew that there were expectations of me and I understood that. And this let me know that I was loved, that there were sane people in the world. And in return, I loved E.

And her daughters also became my protectors – babysitting for me when my parents went out.  I loved them - and still do - to this day.  They are both warm and wise women.  They got those traits from both E and Tommy, her husband.

And if I was really good, as a treat I got to go to E’s house for a day.  E lived with her husband and their two daughters on Dundee Drive in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood, which by that time had become a predominantly African American community. E had beautiful skin – clear and smooth, to me, she was beautiful.  But I had no idea that she was African American, nor did I understand that her husband – Tommy – was either. For that matter, it never hit me until years later that there was any difference in people just because their skin color was different. But this was Cleveland in the 1960s – before the Glenville riots and before Hough rioted as well. Things were simmering below the surface.  I wasn’t allow to play out on the sidewalk, but there were plenty of things to do inside.

The family gathered in the basement, which had the makings of a second kitchen and laundry room. E’s parents lived in the upstairs apartment, and E and her family in the downstairs, and the basement was the space that could hold everyone. Granny and Grandpa were wonderful to me – everyone was. I was in fact a spoiled and scared little kid – but here I felt normal here because they too expected things of me and that there were limits. And those expectations were the things that made me feel secure. I knew my limits, and therefore I knew I had a place. I knew I fit in.  I knew I was safe.

My parents divorced, and then had second thoughts – their marriage was plagued by bad decisions and this was the one that proved to be a nightmare for all of us. By 1968 they had their divorce remanded, and we moved to big house on South Woodland for a fresh start. E stayed with us, and would bring me corn bread – a great delicacy - and we would listen to AM radio while she ironed or straightened up after I came home from school. Because this house was really big – my father hired actual cleaning women to come work and tried to get rid of E. But my mother held her ground – E’s job was watch me, and on the sly keep my father in line. On several occasions I remember him trying to tell her off only to have her flip the tables with her reading him the riot act. He hated her until his dying day because she she never put up with BS.  And she did it without a foul word ever escaped her lips.  He knew she was right and he knew he had met his match in her.

I do remember that once E spent the night at our house, and that it was a Wednesday night.  She went upstairs and came back down in her house coat, she flipped on the TV and we commenced to watch The Tom Jones Show.  No sooner than Tom was three bars into Delilah, that E started with her audience particpation.

"Sing it Tom!" she cried.  "Lucky girl, that Deliah! Oh I'm getting warm - oooh Tom, Oh, my!" She started fanning her face.  "Its getting warm in here - Sing IT!" she cried. She turned to me and said "Get E some water!"  Which I did.  I got her lots of water that night, because the more Tom sang, the more involved she became - as if she was in the audience and Tom was singing just for her.  Everytime I tried to speak she said "I don't ask for much, honey.  Let Tom sing - That's right, its not unusual to be loved by anyONE!  Oh, dear!"  It was a different side to her; even though she had pinned up her hair, she was letting it down, so to speak.

E stayed with us until just before Christmas 1971. She was going to have some surgery and then she would be taking it easy and wouldn't be working for us.  But she said that she would visit. I was nine, and preoccupied with my toys - she had left before and returned, she would come back again.

That February we were out – my cousin Phyllis was with us - and the car broke down in the snow and the ice. My parents were separated again and somehow my mother managed to get us all home when the phone rang.  Mother told us to go to the family room, and I remember her crying as she talked on the phone. E died, and her daughter had called to tell us. E had come through her operation and hospital recovery and had been home, seated at the kitchen table, laughing and talking when her heart gave out.

My E was gone. The only person who expected something from me, the only person who didn’t use me as a bartering chip, the only person who made my days shine, was gone.  I had no one that I could talk to, no way to express my grief.  I was young and they thought I would get over it. 

At every chance my father would say something mean about in the coming years.  And each time he did my hatred for him grew.  I now understand that he did because he wanted my to love him as I had loved her.  But what he didn't understand was that I loved him because he was my father, but maligning her wouldn't undo all that he had done.  And maligning her only pushed me that much further from him.  It wasn't until died that my life finally found the normalcy that I expirience when she had me under her care.

Twenty years later I figured out what her husband’s real first name was – “Tommy” was an endearment – and found him still living in the house on Dundee Drive. Granny and grandpa were gone, and he updated me on Ceil and Donna. I asked him if he had a picture of E that I could copy – I didn’t have one, except the one with me standing naked as a jay bird in my crib and it was just her out stretched arms. I longed to see her face and he obliged, telling me to keep the small photo that he found. A year or so later her daughters greeted me with open arms as well, and they provided me with the image above, from New Years Eve 1970.

One of her daughters once tried to convey to me that it was just a job, that her mother was an employee, but I know that she stayed as long as she did because she loved me, and because she wanted me to have as much time as possible with someone strong enough to guide me in the right direction. I understand that she was an employee - she had to do what she needed to do.  Yes, she received a check with each visit, but no check buys the type of love that she lavished on me and for the right reasons, and accepted mine in return without any hesitation.  The love she gave me was structure and limits and support and kindness and praise, with an unending supply of hugs.  Not every child gets these things, in that order, even on a part time basis from their parents.  I am blessed for E's role in my life.

The rational part of me knows that when a person dies, they’re gone, except in the memories that we hold for them. But the emotional and spiritual side of me knows that she is up there watching over me – watching over all the children that she sat or took care of. Of all the people that I know I will find in heaven when my time comes, its Leatrice Thomas that I know I'll see first, with her arms outstretched, welcoming me.

Years later someone asked me if I found it strange that the two greatest loves of my life were both named “E”. I do. Yet I know that both E and my husband love me, expect good things from me and accept me. If there is a God in his heaven, I believe that there is, this was possibly his way of letting me know that life has a way of working things out. That the cosmic dance that goes on beyond our comprehension has a rhythm and cadance, and that the rhythms are part of a plan, and that the plan interconnects all in a in way too great for mans comprehension.

On this date that she left me behind on this earth I take time to remember the woman who gave a mother’s love to child in need, even when it wasn’t part of the job description. And now I understand that the arms in the picture of naked baby Stu standing for the first time are still there for me.  She is still there when I need them to help me get back up and keep going when I lose my way.   She is in my heart, she is part of me.  I am a stronger person for it.

So for me, she will never be Lee – she is forever my first love, my E.