Touch ‘M’ for ‘Murder’

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‘The time I out-teched my Techie daughter’

Boy, are my arms tired. I just flew back from the Coast; the Oregon Coast, that is, where I spent a most marvelous three days with two of the coolest women on the Planet, my Mom and my Favorite Sister Laura. (I’ve told her many times that she would be my Favorite Sister even if I had more than one sister, which I swear is the truth even though I can’t exactly test my theory.)

Favorite Sister, pictured at left in tiny hat. Mom, on right. All on the Oregon Coast, just 3 days ago (sigh)

The reason she’s my fave — today’s reason anyway — is that she gave me the idea for this post. Which is about the time I out-teched the most tech-savvy person I know, a person in her mid-twenties who holds a seriously important job at a company so techalicious that I have absolutely no idea what it is they do. It is called Kensho, and you can, if so inclined, read about it here. My brain, as well as my arms, is way too tired to try to ‘splain it to you.

The Person in Question is, of course, The Child.

The Child gets introduced to Technology at an early age

I had just finished showing my Mom how to back up her iPhone and her iPad and we all got to talking tech. (Yes, my Mom is totally tech-savvy. She emails and googles and texts as well as I do. And she’s way ahead of me with emoji. She even has an avatar. Heck, I don’t even have an avatar. Maybe I should get her to make me one.)

My mom can stroke a cat and swipe a screen — at the same time

Anyway, we three are talking tech, specifically about the new iPhone — which, as you know, costs about a jillion dollars and does everything except dance and sing — when Laura goes ‘Hey, remember that time you tried to show The Child how to work the dial phone?’ (Except she used The Child’s real name.)

Well yes, I did remember. I had read somewhere that it’s a good idea to keep a regular land-line phone around the house in case some disaster happens involving power outages, since cellphones or even those cordless non-cell phones can run ‘dry’ with no electricity. You just plug your trusty landline model into your phone jack and you’re good to go. At least till the food all runs out and the rioting starts in the streets. (Oops, that last part is going to be in a post about Doomsday Dude.)

The Trusty Landline, AKA Princess Phone, we keep around for emergencies

I’d saved this old Princess Phone just for Disaster Duty. Remember Princess Phones? They were pretty slick-looking — and considered rather cutting edge back in the days when to ‘swipe’ meant to steal your sister’s chocolate bunny and a ‘software upgrade’ meant you got a new puppy.

We’ve got tech in our genes: The Child and my Mom collaborating over a keyboard

So I haul out Miss Phone and hand it to The Child. She looks a tad confused and asks ‘But how do you use it?’ Which is when I realize that she has never seen a dial phone before. Why, even in the picture at the top of this post, when she is a mere toddler, The Child is holding a touch-tone phone. Ancient, large, and with an antenna, but touch-tone nonetheless. Touch-tone is just a ‘touch’ away from touch-screen. But dialing? Well, that’s a different, unknown, story. At least to The Child.

I take the Princess Phone from her and demonstrate. ‘See? You put your finger in one of these holes with a number in it — and rotate the dial. Like so!’

Well. Try as she might, The Child just cannot do it. She sticks a finger in a hole to get at the number, then pulls it out. She tries to rotate, but her finger sort of wimps out and she lets go too soon. She even tries using a pencil (yes, she knew what a ‘pencil’ was) when I tell her that manicured ladies of my acquaintance dialed that way to save their nails. No dice; no dialing.

She can’t dial a phone, but she can Face Time like nobody’s business. Which is what she is doing here one Thanksgiving when she could not be present because she was honing her tech skills across The Pond

Oh well. I guess there will always be things that Mother Knows Best. Even if it’s only dialing a phone.

New York City. October 2017

Take me home, country road

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‘You can pick your friends, and you can (urk) pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose’

Apologies for the less-than-elegant subhead, but it seemed perfect for this piece. So I just had to (urk again) pick it.

See, we just spent another glorious Columbus Day Weekend in glorious Upstate New York with friends we must certainly have ‘picked’ most carefully, since we have been together for decades now. For the purposes of this story, and to protect their identity and their feelings (though they both hate social media and are sure never ever to even glimpse this story; why, they wouldn’t even click on it if I sent them the link), they shall be known here as J & P.

Truckin’. Even the trip Upstate has its charms. Here we are in the ‘passing’ lane

We do this thing where we go to Their Place for Columbus Day, and they come to Our Place for Thanksgiving. This has been going on since The Child was an actual child — she learned how to ride a bike at J & P’s; also how to drive (sort of) in a thing they called the ‘Ute’ (for ‘utility vehicle’) — so it made me a tad Mom Sad that she didn’t join us this year.

I looked and looked for this really cute photo of The Child learning to ride her bike on this very road, and couldn’t find it. So this’ll have to do. Couldn’t find the Ute shot either, darn it

But time marches on, as is its wont. The Child is now A Grownup (though I refuse to re-nickname her that) and had her own carefully-picked friends to hang out with this nice long weekend.

But back to the picking-your-friends-to-be-like-family thing. As you Faithful Readers know by now, I do have a most marvelous family. I was exclaiming on the phone to my mother just the other day how lucky I feel to not only get along with my various and sundry family members — even my by-marriage ones — but to actually look forward to seeing them. It’s amazing to me — and my mother — how many people we know who don’t like their sister or hate their brother or can’t stand their (gulp!) mom.

So, our ‘adoption’ of J & P as honorary family members does not mean that we find our blood relations in any way faulty. J & P are rather the icing on the family cake, as it were. And as you may recall from an earlier story of mine involving my Middle Younger Brother Roger, I definitely believe that your family is who you think your family is.

Me, as the turkey in a Thanksgiving Sandwich. On the left is real-relation ‘P’ (The Dude’s sister). On the right is hand-picked-relation ‘P’ of this story

Just how close are we? J & P and We have watched the Oscars in our jammies in a hotel room in Telluride. We’ve marched around Cape May stalking birds at dawn. We’ve been jolted awake by celebratory fireworks in a farmhouse in the middle of a vineyard during harvest time.

J & P know what I look like without under-eye concealer, and either of them would be my first choice to escort me home from a colonoscopy. Granted, like other family members, even the really-related ones, they are less than perfect. They do things like eat in bed and vote for Trump. And even my idiosyncratic Uncle Arlyn doesn’t eat in bed.

Speaking of eating. Dig the Dude’s cowboy steak bone, foreground. And yes, that smiley face belongs to J

But love them we do. And look forward to seeing them on both big Days, Columbus and Thanksgiving. Any other time in between, for that matter.

So, J & P. You will no doubt never clap eyes on this post, but I thank you anyway. For another gobsmackingly gorgeous Columbus Day. And for being part of our chosen family. See you two turkeys at Thanksgiving!

May the sun never set on our friendship

New York City. October 2017

 

Happy Birthday to my Selfie

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‘Reflections on the 10th anniversary of the iPhone.’

Honest Injun. I was going to write a piece about iPhones and ringtones anyway. But as I was reading the Times (er, procrastinating) with my zillionth cup of coffee, I happened upon the news that the iPhone came out ten years ago today.

My my my. It seems like just yesterday that I was sharing a (very tiny, so it’s a good thing we got along) freelance office with an art director I dubbed Svenska Boy, who was the very first person of my acquaintance who had an iPhone. He waited hours in line outside the Apple Store in Midtown Manhattan to get it. Sigh. Technological memories are so bittersweet.

Take that early selfie at the top of this post. Please (!) It’s not only fuzzy, it’s taken in a mirror. Because the phones back then didn’t have that reverse camera. Or maybe I just hadn’t realized it was there. Oh well.

Selfies before iPhones. I take a picture of my reflection with a thing called a camera. Actually it was a Flip Video Camera. Remember those?

But back to the reason I was going to write about phones in the first place. It has to do with sounds. I was at the Amagansett IGA a few days ago, stocking up for my umpteenth wave of weekend house guests, when I spied a woman who used to date one of The Dude’s cousins. (Hey, I’m alone all week. When I run into someone I know, even vaguely, they simply must be prepared for a bit of social interaction.) Continue reading

Crime ‘n Stuff

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‘Waves of summer mayhem out East Hampton Way’

Well. No turkeys-storming-the-birdfeeder excuses today. I’m late because Labor Day Weekend brought me a full complement of competent Twenty-Somethings to liven things up here around The Compound. And after they left I had to immediately erase all traces of their occupancy (change the sheets; wash the towels; wipe up the avocado-toast crumbs) — or feel super sad.

These turkeys are welcome at my ‘feeder’ any ole time. I miss ’em already

So now that I can walk around the house without feeling assaulted by reminders of a rollicking good weekend (oops, somebody left her wineglass out by the pool; er, that would be me), let me get down to the actual topic of the piece. Which is crime.

Now this is a crime: floaterless pool floats

Yes, crime. Out here on the Eastern End of Long Island, otherwise known as The Hamptons, we do have our share of crime. In the summertime much of it has to do with road rage, which is understandable when you consider that the local population explodes from around 20,000 to upwards of 60,000. Some sources say 100,000, even. All I know is that they all have cars and that all summer long it’s impossible to leave my driveway without doing that queen-wave-with-a-smile gesture that means “You’d better let me out now, if you know what’s good for you and that shiny finish on your passenger door!”

Why, just the other day I watched in wonder as a Range-Rover-wielding Botox Fan backed out of Brent’s Deli (home of the Best Fried Chicken on the Planet) right into a hapless Camry waiting at the red light. I hope she at least bought him a bucket. With sides. Continue reading

“I wouldn’t say no to a piece of pie”

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‘What to do when you’re stuck in traffic’

So The Dude and I driving back to The City last night, and of course there is horrible traffic, it being the height of summer and all. The Dude is working Google Earth to discover a back road to the Back Roads, which these days are as clogged as the Montauk Highway since Jerry Della Femina’s daughter saw fit to publish a back-roads map a couple of years ago, earning her the wrath of every Local from Southhampton to Montauk. Oh well. One Percent Problem, I know.

The scenery in the Hamptons is gorgeous. That is, if you’re into gazing at the backs of cars

But the one promising lead — a teensy dirt road invisible on Apple Maps — turns out to dead-end at a golf course. In our quest, we happened to pass over and under the railroad tracks several times, which got The Dude to thinking about how he really really needs more railroad ties for our driveway. (Someone, ages ago, probably The Dude’s Dad, lined our driveway with railroad ties. But they’re really old, and crumbling, and they never did go all the way down the drive anyway. Somebody got a hernia putting them there, no doubt.) Continue reading

Looks like we got ourselves a HooHah!

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‘The Family Reunion, taken to a whole new (Henry) level’

Well, no one who appeared in one of my commercials died this week. (Are you still out there, Betty White?) Or not that I know of, anyway. So “HooHah” story it is.

Now let me be clear. The Henrys did not invent the “Family Reunion.” Family reunions have been around, oh, I’d say probably since the invention of Large Extended Families. No doubt some of you readers can recall sticky gatherings of seldom-seen aunts, uncles, and cousins featuring picnic tables laden with summer dishes like jello salads (urk) and glorified rice (yum). Games like Corn Hole (a real “thing”, I kid you not) and wiffle ball and sometimes even croquet would be played (though our “croquet” was decidedly non-Downton-Abbey-esque, involving lots of violent “sending” of opponents’, i.e. younger cousins’, balls, resulting in much wailing).

Gathering of the Henry Clan featuring sweaty, crying cousins (I’m down in front next to the boy sucking his thumb)

The other side of my family, the Petersons, had Family Reunions too. They even gave theirs an idiosyncratic name. I dimly recall attending something called the PAL Reunion in Belvidere Park. (This was in Belvidere, Illinois, the closest metropolitan area/gathering place for my farm-residing relations.) The “PAL” stood for, I believe, Peterson, Anderson, and Lindstrom. Yup, these were the Swedes.  Continue reading

HooHah Time is Story Time

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‘The one about the Big Midwestern Paper Company’

First, big fat apologies for being late with my story this week. I was Out West for a big ole family reunion (referred to in my fam, with infinite fondness, as a ‘Henry HooHah’). Many adventures were had which I honestly do not have the time nor the photos (yet) to go into right now, including a last-minute extra bonus day with my Favorite Sister Laura, courtesy JetBlue:


The one thing I can report right now is that, yes, many amusing stories were told at this HooHah, most while holding a glass of wine, and sometimes, if the story-teller was really really lucky, with an extremely cute baby in his or her lap.

Me, mid-story, no doubt, pacifying fussy-yet-still-adorable teething baby with nice cold wine bottle (chewy rubber spatula not having done the trick)

Oh, before I forget. The picture at the top of this post — the one showing me not really smoking but scaring my teensy niece by pretending to do so, was taken at one of the very first Henry HooHahs, held in Amagansett in, oh, I’m thinking, the early 90s. Yes, I was telling a story at the time. The one about the Chicago Manicurist shouting “Hold on to your son!” after being frightened by the sight of Middle Younger Brother Roger wearing a beret. (Someday, maybe, I’ll tell this one. But it involves using an accent, in a non-PC way at that, which would be tricky to relay in a blog post.) Continue reading