Monday, April 30, 2007

Perfect Weather

After a morning of clouds, yesterday turned out to be a perfectly lovely day in New York City. It was warm, but not hot. High 60s/low 70s. (I'm talkin' Fahrenheit, for those of you who measure temp via Celsius, Kelvin, Reaumur, or Rankine.) A nice cool breeze. Perfecto, in my book.

Which set me to thinking about "perfect weather." Some folks would be happy as all git-out if 24/7/365 the thermometer read 72 degrees. But not me. My answer to "What is the perfect temperature?" is: it depends. Here's my run-down, worked out on my stroll through Central Park yesterday.

March through June: 60-72 degrees with a little breeze. And give me several days and nights - spread out, of course - of thunderstorms and a good steady rain. One must have some time to stay indoors, drink tea, and read a couple of murder mysteries.

July and August: 82 degrees tops, low humidity, and a little breeze.

Labor Day through October 15 (I have this very finely worked out, don't I?): Nothing over 70 for September; nothing over 60 after that. Several days of a good autumn rain.

October 16 through Thanksgiving: 35-55. I want that fall nip and the occasional frost on da' punkins. (And it's always nice if Thanksgiving Day has perfect autumn blue skies with temps in the 35-45 range.)

Thanksgiving through Valentines Day: Nothing over 45 degrees, with snow being an absolute must Christmas Eve through New Year's Day. (I've never seen it happen, but a girl can dream.)

End o' Feb: I don't care as long as it passes quickly.

That's my year of perfect weather. Obviously, I'm a child of temperate climes. From my post to God's ears.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sonic Boom-er

Shameless Plug Alert!

Good friend and author Richard Croker (mentioned once in a while on this very blog ), has churned out yet another tome that will suck hard-earned bucks outta my wallet. His new book, The Boomer Century, is now available for dollar/pound/yen/rand-grabbing, because you know you'll want a copy.

Richard's Civil War books, To Make Men Free and No Greater Courage, have been huge successes (no extra charge for another shameless plug, Richard), but this time he turns his sights and talents to me. Well, us. And by "us," I mean Baby Boomers.

The Crok-man's book is companion to the PBS documentary of the same name and is based on the transcripts of more than 30 of the program's interviews. Though he didn't interview Shorty PJs (humph!), I'm sure it contains lots of fun stories, photos, and pictures to color or play connect the dots. Perhaps it includes a free Etch-a-Sketch or Spiro-graph. Or not. I haven't held the actual book in my hands, but I know Richard wouldn't put a dull book out there.

Tired of Baby Boomers? Well, boo-hoo-hoo! Blame grandma and grandpa for breeding like rabbits after WWII and then using us as advertising and marketing guinea pigs for the first 20 years of our lives. (That's why they're called The Greatest Generation, me thinks.) You're stuck with us as long as you dance to "Shout!" and "I Will Survive" at parties and watch TV Land reruns of "Leave It To Beaver."

Go on out and buy Richard's book. Available on Amazon, among other places. It'll be a good 'un.

So, Mr. Now-I'm-in-the-REALLY-Big-Time Croker, you'll have to come to Noo Yawk City to sign my Boom-Book. And don't sue me for copyright infringement for using the graph from your book. It was for promotional purposes only. (Never forget, we knew ya' when, and what happened on the road may not stay there if someone offers big bucks for a Croker expose.)

Congratulations yet again, Sir!

Friday, April 27, 2007

A church, a swamp, and a tavern

It was just that kind of a day. We got the conference business over before 9am, then headed for Williamsburg and Jamestown. Since I'm at the Episcopal Communicators annual conference, the trip had a decidedly Anglican slant to it. Fortunately, we had a tour guide who was intelligent and engaging, but not overly-animated (don't you hate those?), so I learned a lot without feeling the need to slap the stew out of her. Her knowledge of early American history and Bruton Church (Williamsburg) was amazing.

Jamestown swamp - I mean, settlement - is all gussied up for its upcoming 400th anniversary as the first permanent English settlement this side of the pond. The Queen's coming (Elizabeth, not Helen Mirren), and all sorts of other dignitaries. I don't think I knew the fort was triangular - and part of it now lies in the James River, due to years of erosion. And forget the John Smith/Pocahontas fling. Never happened. She was only 11, he was 27, and that kind of thing was frowned upon even in 1607.

After a swampy afternoon, full of thunderstorms then sticky sun, it was back to the King's Arms Tavern in Williamsburg. A nice meal and two hard ciders later, it was back to Virginia Beach.

I'm tired but smarter. It'll be good to sleep in my own bed tomorrow night. I'm comin' home, New York!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

First Landing

What?! You didn't have April 26 marked on your calendar as the 400th Anniversary of the first landing of the Virginia Company ships at Virginia Beach?

The Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery moored a few yards off the beach on this date in 1607, with good old Captain John Smith aboard (he happened to be in shackles at the time, as some of the others in charge accused him of plotting a mutiny).

Well, bright and early (and reeeeeeeeeeally cold) this morning, we boarded buses and headed several miles up the road to First Landing State Park, where the "first landing" was re-enacted and commemorated. It was great fun (and did I mention cold?) and educational. Just a little conference perk.

Tomorrow, on to Jamestown!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


This is going to be a catty post, so I'm just going to be right up-front about it. Plus, this is my blog and I don't have to be one bit politically-correct if I don't wanna.

On my mid-morning flight from LaGuardia to Norfolk, Virginia, for a conference, the flight attendant was - I swear - at least 70. Or a not-very-well-preserved 60, maybe. Now, I once thought this was a-OK, not giving the old heave-ho to someone over the age of 30 who had a calling to serve people in the skies. But, I have to say, I'm over it. Bring back the young, perdy thangs (men including, of course) that used to hand out peanuts on an airplane.

I know that's ageist of me, but I can't help it. Speaking as one who is flying headlong into "geezerdom," I believe I have some credibility on this issue. I want my flight attendents young and hip looking, not tottering down the aisle and making the landing announcement for "Nor-fork" in a halting voice. Give me those cute, sassy stews from the early days. That's what a flight attendant is supposed to be. (And none of this Hooter's Air stuff, either. You know what I mean.)

If the coot-attendants were, say, friendlier or more helpful ("Here you are, Hon. Is that enough gin in that drink, or do you need another little bottle?"), well, maybe OK. But the oldsters are just as rude and uncaring as the whippersnappers. Point: If you're my age or older or even 20 years younger, find some other profession. I mean it. There are other ways to earn travel miles than by rolling your Zimmer frame up and down the aisle of an airplane all day.

So, airlines! Make those uniforms snappier (the ones from the 60's and 70's were pretty way-out cool) and bring back the young'uns. I deserve to be served by cute fly-girls/guys. I can get the bum's-rush by someone in my own age bracket any old time.

Monday, April 23, 2007

"Grant to this home the grace of Your presence"

I was a new homeowner in May 1994 when good friend and then-rector of All Saints' Atlanta, Harry Pritchett, celebrated a house-blessing (technically - er, liturgically - called "Celebration for a Home") for Kate and me at our little house on Strathmore. It was a joyous event, with lots of family and friends following Harry through the various rooms of the house for the blessing and prayers.

The very last thing I did when I left the house for good in December was to remove the silver cross that Harry had nailed over the door all those years ago.

Tonight, in a very different place and under very different circumstances, Harry blessed my tiny Spanish Harlem apartment.

He blessed the entrance ("welcome her upon her return"), the "library" (ha! 3 bookcases taking up one corner of the room - "Teach us, O Lord, where wisdom is to be found"), the bedroom ("Guide us waking and guard us sleeping"), the bathroom (yes, the bathroom: "Give us proper respect and reverence for our bodies"), the kitchen ("Bless the hands that work in this place"), and the living room ("How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity"). Four of those "rooms" are really within one room; we deemed the place well-blessed.

And after each room had been blessed, he took the cross that I'd brought from Atlanta and nailed it over the doorway.

Then we went to a great little bistro across from St. John the Divine (Harry was Dean of the Cathedral a few years back) and continued the celebration with good food and lovely wine.

Blessed, indeed!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Queen celebrates her birthday

And We are very amused, the three of us.

Elizabeth "Betty" Windsor. Happy 81st, Your Majesty. Betty, as you remember, got to be famous by having Helen Mirren portray her in The Queen. Mirren walked off with the Best Actress Oscar this year. Mrs. Windsor is a bit ticked that she didn't get an Academy Award as well. Humph!

Catherine "Get That Horse Off Me!" the Great. According to the Julian Calendar under which she was born, Kate the Great is another queenly-type who celebrates April 21 with party hats and cake and no small amount of vodka, I'd wager. Bring on the empty horses!

And then there's Me "Shorty" PJs, Queen of Spanish Harlem (though I'm sure there are a number of queens up here who would dispute my title). The great thing about being a part of this royal trio is that no matter how old I get, Betty and Kate will always be older - way older - than me. I'm the "Queenette" of the group.

And We are still very amused.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Over the speed limit

Saturday, I start cruising over the speed limit. My accelerator moves from 55 to 56 on April 21, and barring any unforeseen catastrophes (and goodness knows, anything can happen), things only speed up from here on out.

This is not going to be a post about the trials and tribulations of aging. Nor is it one about the wisdom of age. (In fact, I've found that in some ways I'm getting wiser, but in a whole slew more, I'm just as big a nincompoop as I ever was. Remind me again when that wisdom-thing's supposed to kick in - )

No, I refuse to wax philosophical, but if I'm heading hell-for-leather toward 60, I want to know who's going with me. I ain't a-goin' alone! Here's a partial list of born-in-'51ers, class-of-'69ers:

  • Kirstie Alley (No wonder she's channeling Jenny Craig.)
  • Rush Limbaugh (Noooooooooooooooooooo! He has to be much older than me.)

  • Phil Collins (So does he.)

  • Jane Seymour (The Medicine Woman, not Henry the VIII's wife. I'm not that old.)

  • Kurt Russell (Yu-um.)
  • Olivia Hussey (But I thought Juliet died at 13 . . .)

  • Sally Ride (Astronaut-chick)

  • Richard Thomas (Goodnight, John Boy)

  • Anjelica Huston (Love her, but she does kinda look like a drag queen. Maybe that's the look I need. Hm.)

  • Cheryl Ladd (second-tier Angel)

  • Lynda Carter (Yes, we are all still Wonder Women.)

  • Queen Noor of Jordan (A queen. That's what I think I'll be when I retire.)

  • Julie Kavner (Yes! Marge Simpson and I are the same age! Sa-weet!)

  • Michael Keaton (Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice. Beetlej - )

  • Sting (What the . . .? Boy, he is an old fart, ain't he?)
There's a bunch more, and I won't bore you with the entire list. But it's all pedal-to-the-metal from now on, you aging rockers, athletes, and beauty queens. Eat my dust, chirruns!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

And in other news . . .

Tucked in between news of floods and wars and campus massacres are other less urgent stories that don't tax my heart/mind/soul. Bypassing the usual Anna Nicole-Britney-Mel updates, I've found a few items to draw my attention away from the blarings of breaking news:

Just in time for the Beijing Olympics, China's cracking down on the scum of society who spit in the street, curse in public, and/or don't know how to properly queue up. Public officials are pulling out all the public relations and educational stops to ensure the rest of the world doesn't find out about the boorish habits of the Chinese people. Imagine having to teach a billion folks how to line up (while not spitting or cursing). Joy luck to ya'!

And the demise of yet another great dame - although, she was 96 years old, so she'd cheated her demise for years. So long, Kitty Carlisle. You made "To Tell the Truth" and "What's My Line" worth watching all those years ago. And thanks for the outstanding work you did on behalf of the arts here in New York.

Wait. There was one more thing. Hm. What was it? Oh. I know. A correspondent for The Guardian has listed the 10 best books about "forgetting." I might have read one or two of the books on the list, but I don't remember.

Now, let's all go watch something meaningless on television, what'd'ya' say?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What's left to say?

How many more times do we have to go through this? Are we ever going to learn anything from these annual (bi-annual, monthly, etc.) mass shootings? No, you can't stop someone hell-bent on causing destruction, I suppose, but this kind of thing seems to happen 'way more often now than back in the Whitman-shooting-from-the-Texas-Tower days. And, yeah, this happens once in a while someplace else besides the United States, but we must set some kind of record for killing off school kids or folks sitting in a restaurant enjoying a family meal. I cannot even imagine the grief of the families affected by the Virginia Tech shootings.

So what gives? Everyone seems to have an opinion, and yet, we never seriously work at solutions. Everyone prays and leaves flowers and teddy bears, then - unless directly affected - moves on. Then it happens again - bigger, more shocking. More prayers and teddy bears. No dialogue or solutions, though. At what point does God reach down, grab us by the necks and say "Stop praying and get to work fixin' this thing! I was hoping your brains would've evolved better than this by now!"

At the risk of sounding flippant (and I certainly don't mean to be, but sometimes humor helps), I will leave you with two quotes from the great Eddie Izzard (in or out of drag - your choice):

"Guns don't kill people, people kill people, and monkeys do too (if they have a gun).”

“And the National Rifle Association says that, 'Guns don't kill people, people do,' but I think the gun helps, you know? I think it helps. I just think just standing there going, 'Bang!' That's not going to kill too many people, is it?"

Monday, April 16, 2007

The last time it rained this hard in New York City . . .

. . . Audrey Hepburn was kissing George Peppard in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Note: just because it's raining hard in New York, doesn't mean you'll be kissing George Peppard on some Upper East Side street. (Not that I went out looking or anything.) Or that you'll look as good as Audrey Hepburn soaking wet.

Still, I'm safe and dry (until I venture forth to work). Didn't lose power or spring any leaks - thank goodness - but it's still pissin' down outside, so anything can happen I suppose. I'm also grateful that I didn't have to fly in and out of the city this weekend. Lots of stranded folks out there, my boss-lady being one of them.

Well, time to break out the snorkel-gear and head for work. I figure, Australian Crawl to work, Back Stroke from work, what'd'ya' think?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A soggy day in New York-town

Whoo-eee! It is flat-out pissin' down rain here. I've seen worse, but it has been a steady downpour all day. I don't see evidence of strong wind, though. Rumor (i.e., TV news) has it that it's kicking up 35-50 mph on Long Island and Lower Manhattan, but it hasn't reached my end of the island yet. I keep checking the trees outside (yes, there are trees - just beyond the railroad tracks and pink crack-house and along the street next to the projects) to see if the wind's up yet, but we seem safe for now.

I've taken Bailey out a couple of times, and we've survived, though she gets her business done quickly and doesn't linger with pee-mails. Mainly, I've watched the whole wet parade of life from my 5th floor window today. I know that all of those Central Park and Park Avenue tulips will be popping out any day now. Ahhh.

And I stand by my Friday comment about loving to see all the yellow taxis in the rain. It's like Christmas lights in the dark of December. Grey all around, with streaks of slick yellow-orange and red tail-lights breaking the drear.

Just singin' and dancin' in the rain.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Waiting for spring

A few shots of the flora from my end of Central Park. Everything's fixin' to pop open, but we have a Nor'easter due to blow through on Sunday, so spring may be on hold just a little longer. Hope it's fine where you are!

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Three TV shows I just don’t get what all the fuss is about:
1. Seinfeld. I don’t mind that it’s a show about nothing; most TV shows are about nothing. I just never found anyone on Seinfeld very funny or likeable. Especially Jerry Seinfeld.
2. American Idol. Please. I’m not even going to explain myself on this one. I’d love to see Gregory House beat the Idol judges into submission with his cane, then shove ‘em off the air.
3. The Sopranos. I’ve tried. Really. Both Kate and Garth insisted I watch at least one season of this show before passing judgment. It was painful. Watching 12 episodes of this was work for me. I wanted it to interest and intrigue me as much as the whacked-out Fisher family from Six Feet Under did. But nope. (I know I’m really swimming against the tide on this one. So be it.)

Three things I just love about living in New York City:
1. Hoards of yellow taxis in the rain. The sight is invigorating and interesting and Gershwinesque. Very cheery little beacons in the dark (unless you can’t get one, then they seem to lose all their charm).
2. Walking the dog in Central Park. An infinite variety of sights (for me) and smells (for Bailey) and terrains.
3. Sitting in my apartment watching any number of NYC-based movies and television shows and thinking “Hey, that’s all right out my window!”

Three things that drive me crazy when I travel:
1. Having to take my shoes off for airport security. Well, you know that, since I’ve whined about it before. Still. Yuck!
2. Internet charges in airports and hotels. There is no consistency out there at all. In my opinion and experience, every place on earth should have affordable wireless internet access. There. That’s my presidential platform.
3. People who bring really stinky food onto an airplane. Lingering odors of sautéed onions and greasy pepperoni for 2-3 hours? No thanks.

Got any "threes" you need to get off your chest?

Of granfalloons and wampeters

If you go to Kurt Vonnegut's website, here is what you'll see. This bird has flown. (1922-2007)

I know everyone's favorite Vonnegut is Slaughterhouse Five, but I do love the slim volume, Cat's Cradle . After reading it in 1972, I neatly folded the terms "granfalloon" and "wampeter" into my personal list of words that I throw out over and over again. Don't know why "foma" and "karrass" didn't make the cut. Anyway, I've taken much delight in slotting groups into these categories over the years; and, besides which, granfalloon and wampeter are just fun words to say.

Thank you, Mr. Vonnegut. Now, off to work at one of my granfalloons, er, wampeters, er, whatever.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


After almost a year of over-the-top changes, I've finally hit the wall. Ergo, no posts of late. I can't move forward in any part of my life until I get this apartment in order. It's proving more of a problem than I anticipated.

There are days where all I can do is look around at the unopened boxes, flop down in a chair, and pig-out in front of the TV. I want it in order so desperately, and yet I am immobilized by all that has to get done. Over the past week I've set little task-goals for myself - 2 boxes one night, 3 the next, 1 after a particularly rough day. Having a chunk of time off has helped as well, thanks to Good Friday and Easter Monday holidays.

I've been such a bore lately that I didn't want to inflict any of that on you, dear readers. I'm not feeling very "Easter" at all. I believe I'll be in full-tilt Lent until I get my surroundings organized. The good news is that I do see light at the end of my "nesting" tunnel.

Tomorrow, I won't be in church - first time in 25 years. I'm ignoring Easter this year. I will celebrate resurrection and un-hibernation when the books are on the shelves and the pots and pans find a cabinet to live in.

So, lovely Easter hats, you will just decorate Grandpa's dresser this year instead of my head at a joyous Easter service.

(Reading this over, it sounds so dreary. I'm really fine - just a little overwhelmed.)