The friend who had a nanny for her dog


‘Way up on the Upper East Side’

One of the many things I enjoy about living in New York City is the, well, mix of people. Where I grew up in the Midwest — at least when I grew up there — a brunette was pretty darned exotic.

But here you get to rub elbows (and sometimes much much more) with a wide variety of folks. Some of whom live on a scale that can take some getting used to. Like, one day The Child came home from nursery school with this to say: “Mommy, Helen’s mommy has a couch in her bathroom!” Me: “How nice for Helen’s mommy!”

And I once shared Safety Patrol duty with a very congenial fellow mommy who, it turned out, had the same last name as a whole wing of the Metropolitan Museum. (No, she wasn’t named after it; it was named after her.)

My mommy friend’s namesake

And you may recall (from my story “Three, and You’re Under the Host”) that when The Child was attending that Quite Distinguished Private All-Girls School, we were invited to some pretty swell parties. (All the parents, not just us, were invited to these parties. But still.)

This Mingling-with-the-One-Percent also happened at work. Back then, Ogilvy had a decidedly Country-Club flair. Maybe it was because David was, well, David. (He lived in a castle in France, for starters. If you want, you can read about His Ogilvyness here.)

David liked to surround himself with other “Gentlemen with Brains”. (Yes, that was a phrase he coined.) So there was the Account Guy Who Was a Whitney. And the Creative Guy Who Was a Delano. (Which is a flavor of Roosevelt.)

As close as I’ll ever get to a Roosevelt

Yup, the Social Register was amply represented. I remember there was this one assistant account executive who just disappeared one afternoon. His office was empty, his jacket was draped over his chair. But he was — poof! — gone. Turned out he’d gotten a phone call telling him he’d come into his inheritance.

Among these People Who Really Didn’t Have to Work was a  producer on the Dove team. As you may recall, I was a copywriter. So I was responsible, with my art director partner, for coming up with the ideas for TV commercials. The producer was in charge of getting them made. At the time, Dove was in the midst of its “Seven-Day Test” campaign, which, if you are as long in the tooth as I, you may remember. In case you don’t, here’s an example:

I never really understood what Lucille (not her real name) was doing working at Ogilvy — or working anywhere, for that matter. She was married to a Money Guy (my term for anyone in “finance”), lived in a palatial apartment on Fifth Avenue, and had staff.

She had a maid, and a driver, and a cook. In fact, she told me once that she had never been in her kitchen. 

Meet our cook. Yup, I even do the grilling chez nous

Now don’t get me wrong. Lucille may have been one of the One Percent, but she was sweet and kind and generous to a fault. We once worked on a Dove commercial in Chicago in the middle of winter, where we were shooting, for some insane reason, outdoors, and it was Chicago-in-the-middle-of-winter cold. So Lucille kindly loaned me “one of her old fur coats”.

Even after she stopped working at Ogilvy (or anywhere else) she would call up out of the blue to, say, offer us house seats to “Hairspray”. Or invite us to some trendy restaurant. Once we were eating at this nouvelle cuisine hotspot, and I ordered the “lobster ravioli”. A huge white plate decorated with swirls of sauce was placed before me. On it was exactly one “lobster ravioli”. Stephen, her husband (not his real name either), upon finishing his meal, asked “Who else wants to go for pizza?”

Lucille (of course) got her clothes in Paris. Or at this boutique on Park Avenue called “Martha”. (Speaking of Park Avenue, the picture at the top of this post shows me the closest I’ll get to an apartment there.)

Once I mentioned to Lucille that I’d seen her “on Third Avenue the other day” and she said that it couldn’t have been her because “I never go to Third Avenue.” (For those of you who are not New Yorkers, Third Avenue, at least on the Upper East Side, is where the hardware stores, locksmiths, and vacuum-cleaner-repair places are.)

But. Back to staff. Besides the maid, the driver, and the cook, Lucille had a nanny. For her dog. She had this standard poodle named Gerard (yes, that was his Real Name; that dog was smart, but I don’t think he can read), after Gerard Depardieu.

Gerard (the dog Gerard, not the French movie actor Gerard) had not only his own Bear (a stuffed Steiff) to play with, but his own Person too. When you said to Gerard “Go get your bear! Go get your bear!” off he’d go, and come back with his bear in his mouth. Not sure how he fetched his nanny.

Pictured here is the nanny for our cat. Poor Tuna didn’t have her own bear — but she did have this nice Child to play with

Anyway. I’m not sure whatever happened to Lucille. Maybe she’s one of my readers. (Hello out there, Lucille! Thanks again for loaning me your Old Fur!) At any rate, I often think of her fondly when I’m walking up Third Avenue on my way to the hardware store.

New York City. February 2018

Like oil and river water


‘We’re one crazy mixed-up couple’

They say that opposites attract. Well, The Dude and I have been married more years than most of you Dear Readers have been alive. Which is pretty amazing in and of itself. But it’s even more amazing given how, well, opposite the two of us are.

In fact, I’d call us bi-polar opposites, given that our differences often drive us crazy.

Okay, there’s the easy stuff. I’m coffee; he’s tea. I’m radio-on-in-the-car; he’s I-want-to-appreciate-the-silence. I like parties; he’s I’ve-worked-hard-all-day-and-want-to-crash-at-home. I like novels; he only reads non-fiction. (‘Why would I want to read something that someone made up?‘) I love art; he only likes art that looks like what it’s supposed to be and/or looks like it was very hard to do.

Pointe Hilton by Jack Mendenhall. Meets both The Dude’s criteria: looks like what it is, and indeed looks like it was very hard to do

And what is it with hot and cold? Has there ever been a married couple who agrees on the thermostat? There he is, in the dead of winter, wearing a tee-shirt and turning up the heat; I say put on a sweater — preferably one of the many I’ve knit for you. Continue reading

If your friend jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?


‘Sometimes it’s best not to follow the leader’

I have this Teddy Roosevelt fixation. Maybe it’s because my name is Alice*. (In case your history’s a bit rusty, Teddy’s daughter Alice Roosevelt Longworth was a lively cigarette-smoking rebel who grew up to be a famous elderly curmudgeon. She had a needlepoint pillow that read ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me.’)

*Yes, ‘Lutheranliar’ is really named ‘Alice’. After my Gramma. Middle named ‘Celia’. After my other Gramma, whose actual name was Cecelia. But my mom said she shortened it so I wouldn’t spit on people. Go ahead; try it: “Alice Cecelia”. I rest my case. Or my mom does anyway.

And Teddy? Well, he did crazy things like wander off into the wilderness all alone and lead charges into battle on horseback. And he still found the time to read two books a day — even while he was busy being President.

Teddy almost died of malaria making the same (gulp) trip we did a couple of months ago. Read about his trip in ‘River of Doubt’. Read about ours in ‘Eat. Or be eaten’ or ‘The Curse of the Potoo’

One of the coolest things that Teddy did (or at least I think so) was how he evaded the pesky ole Secret Service. Since Teddy had actually become President when the guy before him, William McKinley, got shot,  there were lots of Secret Service agents following him around to make sure that this kind of thing didn’t happen to him, too.  Continue reading

The Red Shoes (on)


‘When saying it wrong is too cute to correct’

I was feeling kind of empty, the Australian Open being over and all (oh where will I get my Federer Fix?), so I called my Mom.

(Let me say right off the bat that I am ever so grateful to have a Mom, and that having one as smart and funny and almost-always-available by iPhone as mine is, well that’s just cosmic icing on the cake.)

So, anyway. After discussing various relatives and their illnesses and books and movies and baseball (she doesn’t follow tennis, but I love her anyway), and the Fate of the Nation in General, we got around to my blog. And the fact that my Mom had, yet again, tried to post a comment that didn’t ‘take’. (We won’t go into technical details, except to note that my Mom is extremely tech-savvy, more than I am, in fact. She has personally designed her own emoji. So I am stymied about why/how she can’t post comments. Sigh.)

My Mom and Dad and my Peterson Grandparents, when I was adorably small and in no need of shoes, red or not red

Her comment? It was in reference to last week’s post which, if you recall, was about me feeling like it was about time already to be giving away certain stuff in my closet and was titled ‘At least it’s not a dead-squirrel stole’. Continue reading

At least it’s not a dead-squirrel stole


‘On knowing when it’s time to let go’

Now, I haven’t gone so far as to embrace ‘Swedish Death Cleaning’, which, if you caught my post from a couple of weeks ago (“Out with the old year, but not out with the old stuff. Yet.”) you know is this thing where Swedes give away their stuff so that their kids don’t have to go through it after they die. Honest.

But lately I have been going through my clothes and offering what I consider choice items to The Child and her pals. They are, after all, in their mid-twenties, which is how old I was when I acquired, say, those paisley corduroy pants. Or the orange-and-white striped cashmere sweater. Or the fancy black dress shown in these photos:

I’m not what you’d call a Clothes Horse, but if you’ve been a grown woman as long as I have you tend to have a pretty packed closet. When an Event comes up, I don’t go shopping, I just dig around in there and find something that’ll ‘do’.

For a recent rather fancy wedding: dress I wore to Niece Ella’s christening in 2000, jacket I got in London when I was working there in the 90s, plus sunglasses scored on an LA shoot in the 80s

Continue reading

“I write, therefore I am”


‘You read, therefore I am grateful’

I was sitting around the other morning, trying not to think about how weird it is that it’s not even 12 degrees outside and I’m scratching away at chigger bites (from our recent Panamanian Adventure; see last week’s post for deets and pix), when I noticed I got a ‘pingback’.

Our two lovely guides plus one irritating Panama tour participant who, among other things, insisted on being addressed as ‘Raven’. She got chigger-bit too. But she deserved it

For non-members of the Blogosphere, which would be darn-near all of you, bless your Faithful Little Hearts, this ‘ping’ meant somebody cited my blog, good ole Lutheranliar looks at life, in their blog. Which is an incredibly nice thing to do, and doesn’t happen all that much. At least not to me. Before I go on, I simply must thank this nice Blogger Person, Orla by name, who writes “Fancy Paper: little things that make you happy”. When I checked that ‘pingback’, I found that she had nominated me for something called the Blogger Recognition Award. (It’s protocol to thank your nominator, but I like to think that I would do so anyway.) Thank you, Orla!

What does happen to me? Cats hiding in plain sight. Or Sitting on Guys’ Heads in Times Square

Again, according to protocol, we Nominees are also supposed to say how we got started blogging, give two tips to beginning bloggers, and last but not least, list some blogs we like and follow.

Whew. Let’s dig in. So, how did I get started? Continue reading

Put a bird on it


Tippecanoe and Tyler Too: a totally tired, totally cheating travelogue’

I picked the picture at the top of this post for two reasons. One, because it has a bird (actually, many birds) on it. (Hail, Portlandia!) And two, because it shows a bed.

We flew home very late last night from our latest birding adventure, and boy are my arms tired. (Sorry, fatigue has made me giddy and prone to awful puns.) Meanwhile, don’t you hate trendy gerunds like ‘birding’? Like ‘parenting’ and ‘mothering’. What’s next, ‘kidding’? Oh. There already is a ‘kidding’.

Anyway. Since I have a mountain of sweaty stinky birding duds to burn (er, wash) I’ve decided to take the easy way out and just show you all some pictures from our trip. (I know, I know. Shades of the Olden Days when vacationers would bore their friends with their slides. (Which were like photos, but were these things they’d put in a ‘projector’ and show on a ‘screen’.) But really. If you’d been on a post-holiday night flight full of screaming kids accompanied by adults sorely lacking in Basic Parenting Skills, you’d choose this option too.)

So on with the (not-slides-but-close) show! Continue reading