“Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes”

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‘Unless, of course, they come with a chocolate bunny’

That quote up top is from Thoreau. I don’t know much about little Henry David’s family or what they did for Easter, but I’m thinking he may have felt a tad better about new-clothes-requiring occasions if he’d had a nice mommy who sewed him a sport coat. Not to mention a Bunny to leave him an Easter basket.

Younger Brothers Scott and Roger and I show off our Easter finery, which was most likely made by our mother. No, that’s not the Easter Bunny. That’s Sandy, the Dog of Our Youth

Last weekend was Easter. It was also my Youngest Brother Doug’s birthday. Since he is waaaay younger than me, and I wasn’t around for many of his Easters, I don’t have a photo of him lined up with the rest of us wearing Easter duds. But I do have this shot of him in his (almost) birthday suit.

Doug, looking clean and shiny and very proud of himself indeed. Maybe getting ready to dress himself for Easter. (Note string tied to bathroom door as an escape mechanism in case the latch caught)

Easter was a big deal when I was growing up. Not as big a deal as Christmas, of course. But when we were kids, any occasion when adults insisted that Jolly Old Elves or Big Bunnies were going to sneak into the house and leave you gifts was pretty darned exciting. The Tooth Fairy was cool, too, what with the money left under your pillow and all. But nobody, as far as I know, has made a chocolate effigy of the Tooth Fairy. Maybe because of the tooth thing. But probably just because nobody knows what the Tooth Fairy looks like, except kind of like your dad, in pajamas.

An early Easter. When the crowd of dressed-up Henry Kids consisted of, um, me. Good thing I was too young for Dad’s Tooth Fairy duty; he was away, doing other duty off in Korea 

And any occasion that required new clothes was also a big deal. Easter was a biggie. Mom usually made our outfits as well as her own. She famously made my brothers sports coats — and matched the plaids. Which, if you sew, you know is very hard to do. I made my own clothes too, when I got big enough for my foot to reach the treadle. Where we grew up, sewing kind of came with the territory. Especially if you wanted to wear anything, well, trendy. My HS BF Norma sewed a ‘granny dress’ but she got in trouble wearing it to school because it didn’t meet the dress code — it was too long.

Nope, it’s not Paris. It’s me at another new-clothes-requiring occasion: Prom. I’m with High-School Hunk Brad, wearing a dress I made myself. Thank goodness it had dots, not plaids

But back to Easter. On Easter morning we’d wake up to find an Easter Basket by our beds. It didn’t matter how old we were; this happened every Easter. Even when I was a Hulking Proto-Adult home from college on Spring Break, I would wake on Easter morning to find an Easter Basket by my bed. And I bet if I’d been back home for Easter this year I would have found one there too.

There were little foil-wrapped chocolate eggs in these baskets, plus a big old chocolate bunny, but no dyed eggs. The dyed eggs were for hiding. They were hard-boiled eggs dyed in the kitchen with our Mom, using food coloring (these being the days before those dying kits with dissolving pellets, and way before the advent of those horrible pull-apart plastic eggs). We used to draw on our eggs with white crayon — our version of batik — the crayon wax would keep the dye from ‘sticking’ to the designs, and we could create some pretty nifty effects.

Our Mom — or in later years, the Big Kids — would hide these eggs. I have to confess that I much preferred hiding to finding. It was a blast to think of clever places to put the eggs. I remember one in the crook of a tree that remained undiscovered for weeks. (Our family liked to put things in crooks of trees; my Dad once put the ‘portable phone’ — remember those? — in a tree crook, and no one found it for months.) Besides enjoying the hiding, it was also super fun to traipse around on Easter morning behind the Little Kids going ‘you’re getting warmer…cooler…warmer again! You’re hot! very hot!’ while they searched.

And what did we do with these eggs? Well, we didn’t eat them. Eating was for the chocolate eggs. And the big ole bunny. Our family was divided between the eat-the-bunny-right-now faction (my brothers) and the save-some-bunny-for-later group (pretty much only me). As a ‘saver’, I would nibble on, say, one chocolate ear, then hide the rest. Of course, my smarty-pants brothers knew where to look and would eat my bunny as well as theirs.

As years went by, I got better at foiling them, though. I once hid a big pinwheel lollypop I got at the Clinton County Fair so well that I forgot all about it. Till I heard scratching and squeaking coming from a dresser drawer where a family of mice had established a sort of rodent condo — with my sweaters as their bed and the lollypop as their pantry.

Anyway, about those dyed eggs. Even if we hadn’t had the chocolate eggs to distract our taste buds, we kids weren’t overly fond (if at all) of hard-boiled ones. Especially dyed hard-boiled eggs. If you’ve ever shucked yourself a home-colored HB egg, you’ll know that the dye tends to seep into the egg itself, and a blue-tinged egg can be sort of a deal-breaker when you’re, say, seven. Even adults find purple egg salad a tad off-putting. So, as the Little Kids found the eggs, they’d slip them to our Dad, who would rouse himself from his supine-on-the-couch position to peel them and pop them whole, Cool Hand Luke-style, into his mouth.

Oh, when it rained, we didn’t cancel the hunt; we just hid the eggs in the house. One year, about a week after Easter there was this horrible smell in the living room. Turns out one of the eggs had been hidden too well, and was still buried beneath a couch cushion. We didn’t give that one to Dad.

Jump ahead to Easter with The Child. Even though we are not what you’d call ‘religious’, we did get a kick out of dressing up and going to church with Aunt Eleanor. That’s because Aunt E went to the Methodist Church, where they sang awesome Easter hymns. Really resoundingly good ones, like that one that goes ‘Christ the Lord is risen to-daaaay…ha ha ha ha HAH lay-eh ooo ooo yah!’ We would drive home from the service with the sunroof open ‘hallelujah’ing our hearts (and lungs) out.

Ready for some Easter-hymn bellowing at Aunt Eleanor’s church, headgear and all. I’m ashamed to admit I did not make The Child’s dress, though I did knit the sweater she’s wearing in that shot at the top with the giant chocolate bunny

This post is getting about as long as a Lutheran hymn (six or seven verses, all sung in a mournful minor key, even the joyous Easter ones), so I’ll wrap this up with another cute Mom-and-Child Easter photo. I didn’t make The Child’s dress. Like the one in the picture above, The Child’s Doting Aunt Linda bought it for her. And no, I did not make my suit. Don’t tell the Easter Bunny.

The Easter Tradition continues, sans hats. But definitely with Easter baskets (not shown)

New York City. April 2017

“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