“I’m watchin’ him!”

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‘The “Playdate”, back in Midcentury Modern Times.’

Last week I wrote about the Midcentury Modern custom of sending a high-school social studies class on a field trip to a maximum-security prison. I say “custom” because, frankly, I was astonished to find that many of you readers out there had done the very same thing. (And that’s not counting those of you who went to the very same high school as me.)

This week I’m curious to see how many of you grew up experiencing the Midcentury Modern version of the “playdate”.

“Playdates”, for those of you who don’t have, haven’t had, or don’t know anyone with children, are when parents or caregivers (what we used to call “babysitters”) set up specific times and places (“dates”) for kids to get together to “play”.

I just love that there is an actual Wikipedia entry for “playdate”. If you don’t feel like clicking, here’s what it goes on to say: Playdates have become common because the work schedules for busy parents, along with media warnings about leaving children unattended, prevent the kind of play that children of other generations participated in.

Hmmm. Just what “kind of play” was this? Continue reading

The gift that keeps on giving

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‘It really is the thought that counts’

First, I must extend my heartfelt apologies to The Child for using that photo up top from a Christmas-morning-in-her-early-teens-when-she’d-dyed-her-hair-an-unfortunate-hue. But it’s the only picture I could find of her actually presenting us with Christmas Coupons. So I simply could not resist.

As for the Christmas Coupons themselves, here’s one I had the foresight to save. Too bad it has, alas, expired.

I don't have a photo of The Child presenting me with this, but she was not a teen, and had normal-tinted hair at the time. I'm thinking maybe 8 or 9

I don’t have a photo of The Child presenting me with this. But I’m betting she was 8 or 9 at the time, with untinted hair and pretty impressive cursive

The Child came up with the idea of Christmas Coupons when she was barely able to scrawl with a Number Two pencil on lined paper. Instead of going to the Ben Franklin store to buy her Mommy a teensy vial of Evening in Paris (like I did for my mom, and which she probably still has), The Child would inscribe small bits of paper with promissory notes, usually for personal services. (Her foot rubs were in great demand, by her Dad anyway; I’ve never been able to let anyone anywhere near my feet.)  Continue reading

Time for the Unusual No-Trump Overcall

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‘Hoping against hope that an Orange King isn’t in the cards’

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: politics really has no place in LutheranLiarLand. But these are, as that Chinese curse would have it, ‘unusual times’. Which means I’ve broken my rule once or twice. So sue me. (See ‘The Boss Who Got Banished to Belgium’ and ‘Libertarian Blonde’ for recent examples of quasi-political straying.)

But today is Election Day. Finally. I figure I’ve got very little to lose by venturing out on that Political Limb. Most of you have already made up your minds — or even voted already. (If you haven’t, please stop reading this right now and get out there! Unless, of course, you’re planning to vote for the Orange Guy, in which case you can keep right on reading. In fact, why not read all 135 of my posts? Maybe, just maybe, you can finish before the polls close.)

But back to the point of this post. Besides the obvious Donald Dig, did you notice the bridge reference? No, not like George Washington Bridge. Bridge as in the game of bridge. Lessons in which I am taking. Learning bridge is hard. So hard it makes my head spin around and smoke come out my ears. Kind of like what happens when I watch Donald in a debate.

So why take bridge lessons, you ask? Continue reading

The Fat Lady ain’t sung. Yet.

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‘Expressions of glee from the Land of the Free and the Home of the Cubs’

I am (in)famous amongst Henrys for my lack of interest in team sports. I’ve been known to ask if baseball is the one where they throw the little white ball with the stitching, as opposed to the one where they throw the big orange ball with the pointy ends. (I do know that the big round orange ball is the one that gets ‘dribbled’; I didn’t attend Carlyle High School basketball games just to flirt, you know.)

Well. As some of you may recall from my ubiquitous Facebook presence, I recently spent a most pleasant long weekend with as many Henrys as could squeeze into Oldest Younger Brother Scott’s house in Petaluma. The ostensible reason for our get-together was to celebrate a couple of Henry birthdays (my Mom’s and Middle Younger Brother Roger’s).

That's Birthday Boy Roger on the left, Birthday-Venue-Boy Scott on the right

That’s Birthday Boy Roger on the left, Birthday-Venue-Boy Scott on the right

But what got everybody really excited was not the big ole dual-duty birthday cake (with a candelabra on top, seriously), or even the Second Presidential Debate (the Town Hall One with the Stalking), but watching the Cubs battle the Giants for a spot in the National League Playoffs. Continue reading

‘The bears are watching a movie’

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‘A getting-into-school back-to-school story’

Out on my walk today, dodging double-wide strollers and long-legged schoolgirls clutching Starbucks pumpkin-spice lattes, I felt a bit of a nip in the air. I’m a person who really hates to see summer end (see last week’s ‘The days are long, but the season is short’ for a nostalgic riff), but even I was getting tired of walking through what felt like hot dog breath — at 6 in the morning.

I was going to write about houseguests. And I still might, though The Child has cautioned me that some of my subjects might recognize themselves. But then again, she also told me that ‘this is my blog and I can write whatever I want’.

But all those schoolgirls — and the nip — reminded me of the story of how The Child got into nursery school. So I decided to tell that one instead. (Besides, I have to go to the dentist in about an hour, and this is a quick story.)

See, here in New York City (and in other Big Cities, too), getting into nursery school is a Very Big Deal. Apparently, if you don’t get your 3-year-old into the ‘right’ one, he or she will miss her (let’s stick with the feminine pronoun, since The Child is a girl) chance to grow up to be a Captain of Industry or a Supreme Court Justice. (Which is the job aspiration to have, not ‘President’; see my ‘Now Let’s play Supreme Court Justice’ for reasons why).

There are books written about getting your child into nursery school. Seriously. Someone tried to loan me one. You should have seen my face as I politely refused. Continue reading

The days are long, but the season is short

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‘Childhood and Summer. Both over way too soon.’

Some wit on Facebook said the other day that September was kind of like one big ole Monday. Well, I totally get that. Places to go, people to see, work to do, school to go back to.

But, hey. If September is Monday, then isn’t August Sunday Night? You know what I mean. Summer starts out so full of possibilities and then all of a sudden it’s August, and you’re filled with regret over all the stuff you didn’t have time for. That New Thing you were going to learn (yes, I mean you, bridge.) That project you were going to finish (the Christmas pillow I’ve been needle-pointing my entire adult life). That book you were going to write (or just, um, read).

If August were a book, it would be this one

If August were a book, it would be this one

When it comes right down to it, that unused paddle board in the basement isn’t so different, really, from that pile of math homework that used to confront you accusingly on the dining room table while ‘Sixty Minutes’ ticked away in the living room.

What makes things even worse is when you realize that you actually had the time to do all these things, but just didn’t get around to them — because, well, summer is so long, and you have plenty of time. Continue reading

The Days of Wineberries and Roses

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‘Listening to the Warm: sensational summery sounds’

Forget Rod McKuen. It was Henry James who nailed summer. He once famously said that the two most beautiful words in the English language were ‘summer afternoon’. Go on; say them out loud. Better yet, murmur them.

‘Summer af-ter-noon‘. Mmmmmmmmm. You can practically feel that hammock swaying.

Now you’ve already heard me go on about the tastes of summer — I’ve waxed ravenously poetic about such seasonal delights as watermelon and corn and berries-somebody-else-picks and glorified rice and even (yum!) Jello Cake.

But I haven’t talked much about summer sounds. You know the ones I mean; sounds that really say summer. Fireworks. The ice-cream truck. And, for me anyway, that fwap fwap fwap sound that happens when you clip playing cards onto your bike spokes with clothespins and ride home from the Carlyle Municipal Pool gnawing on a frozen Milky Way.

Continue reading