Technical difficulties

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‘On leaving the blogosphere for good. Almost.’

Those of you who have been reading my stories for a while (bless you) know that I try to publish fresh nonsense every week, usually on a Tuesday. If I miss a Tuesday, I’d better have a darned good reason — like going to a wedding or visiting my mom or roaming around in the jungle dodging leeches and internet holes.

The wedding, as the story appeared in the East Hampton Star. (No, don’t squint. You can read it by clicking here)

Well. The pretty good reason was that none of my subscribers got my last post. And if you write a post and your subscribers don’t get it, that’s kind of like dressing up in your fanciest duds just to hang out at home. You express yourself, sure. But what’s the point?

And, darn it, that last post was pretty good too — a story about a person I knew who actually met the Queen. If you’re one of the hundreds who missed it — yes, I (ahem) have hundreds of subscribers now — just scroll on down. Or, if you’re balancing a cup of coffee, just click right here to read “She’d Better Put a Bell on It.” 

Speaking of Mom visits, here she is with her trusty chariot during my last one

Anyway, if you’re reading this now, I got the glitch fixed. But this glitch-fixing involved lots of back and forth with India. (Thank you, Mr. Kandani!) I’d send Mr. K a pleading Help Me Email, and, because of the time difference, it would be the next morning before I would get a reply. I’d try his suggestion, watch it not work, gnash my teeth, send him a screenshot along with another plea, then go get a coffee and tackle my morning round of Spelling Bee. (Honestly, coffee got me through this crisis; read “The Breakfast of Champions” for my ode to this beverage; or “Time is Indeed Fluid,” for that matter.)

Our leech-dodging Borneo group, masked — not against Covid, but against breathing bat shit

This back-and-forth went on for two weeks before I realized what was wrong: a doohickey on my dashboard that was supposed to be toggled somehow got untoggled. Heavy *sigh* (and yet another coffee) goes here. I retoggled it; fingers crossed.

Another reason to skip blogging: going to see “Top Gun” with The Kids

So. I’m not cashing in my blogging chips. Not just yet. (Though I did come up with a dandy of a title for my last post: “That’s All She Wrote.”) But I’m awfully tech-tired right now. I’ll end with a sweet little wedding video and a promise to be wittier and more entertaining next week.

New York City. September 2022

 

 

 

 

“She’d better put a bell on it”

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‘A story about Queen Elizabeth’

It’s been a while since I wrote a piece that qualifies for my ‘Brushes with Fame’ category. I’ve got some pretty juicy stories parked there. About Steve Martin, Vladimir Horowitz, Karl Malden, Willem De Kooning, Malcolm Forbes and even Elvis.

This week the long-expected-but-still-shocking passing of HRH Queen Elizabeth reminds me that I have one about her, too. No, I never personally met the Queen, but I knew somebody who did — and here’s his story. (Oh, that person in the crown at the top of this story? That’s me with two regal pals — hi, T! hi E! — channeling queenhood on a recent birthday.)

Here’s another birthday shot — this one taken in honor of my mom’s 90th. Because, why not? Mom’s a real queen in my book

The person I knew who met Elizabeth the Queen was, in fact, pretty famous himself. His name was George Shearing, and he was a celebrated jazz pianist. He not only played at Birdland, he wrote  “Lullaby of Birdland,” a song I bet you know, even if you don’t think you do. But I bet you haven’t heard it played on a massive pipe organ in St. Thomas Church. (Which I did, at the funeral of Sir George.) Continue reading

Sitting Pretty

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‘And pretty much just sitting. Thank goodness.’

Perhaps you recall my saying that I had a couple of good excuses for going Blog-AWOL back in August. One, of course, was the much-anticipated wedding celebration of The Child and the SIL. Read all about it — and see lots more pretty pictures — in “Two Weddings Are Better Than One” and “No, I Didn’t Skinny-Dip At That Canadian Wedding.”

Oldest Younger Bro Scott captured this image of the Happy Couple

The other excuse?

Me and my other excuse

I was visiting my Mom. Where, thank goodness, we pretty much just sat around talking. Oh, sometimes we’d drink coffee and talk. Other times we’d drink wine and talk. But sitting around was our preferred activity.

Sitting around having lunch at Beaches, our favorite riverside restaurant

There were two reasons for this. One was that I was all tuckered out from the wedding. No, not from helping with the wedding. As I told many of my friends who asked, “How are plans going for the wedding?” I had absolutely nothing to do with it. Nothing to do with the flowers, the food, the music. Not even the guest list. This summer, in a show of mother-of-the-bridely concern, I asked The Child what her colors were, and she looked at me like I had grown another head. “Colors? My colors? I don’t know.”

Colors? Who needs colors? What you want are scads of adoring friends and family. All picked by The Child and the SIL

Nope. All I had to do for this wedding was show up. I didn’t even need to buy a dress. When I asked about that, I was told to just pick out something from my closet.

The winning dress? This little navy number I’ve had for about 20 years. Those gorgeous accessories? I’ve had them even longer — all 3 of my brothers and my one and only sister

No, the wedding was exhausting because there was a whole week’s worth of activities leading up to it. And not activities like shopping or having tea or touring stately homes. These were activities like hiking mountains. Scree was involved. So were grizzly bears.

Why, there was even a hike the morning of the wedding. Here I am being supported by a strapping young grand-niece

The wedding itself wasn’t too exhausting. Not for me, anyway. There was a bit of stress involving hair and makeup. And I had to give a toast. Though I think the fact that I was giving a toast was more stressful for The Child than for me. She was terrified that I’d riff on her old boyfriends. “Me? Make fun of your old boyfriends?” “Well, you have made fun of them. Lots of times.” “Not at your wedding. That would be tacky.” Meaningful silence.

Appreciating a hilarious toast by either the bro or the dad of the SIL. (Neither made fun of The Child’s old BFs.) At least we got to sit down

Oh, and after dinner there was lots of dancing. Some moves were fairly strenuous. Thank goodness my twirling days are over.

Even the dancing was strenuous

So. After all of this activity I was really looking forward to a week of recreational sitting. And, lo and behold, Mom’s place was perfect for it. My sister had scouted out the perfect furniture for Mom’s previously-underutilized balcony. And, trust me, we gave it a workout. The only time we went inside was to watch Cubs’ games. Oh, and to get more coffee and/or wine.

We even engaged in some rock-related activities at Mom’s: arranging these Maine specimens sent by Youngest Bro Doug. No scree, as you can see. And yes, Mom is watching a Cubs game

I was truly and duly relaxed after a week at Mom’s. Why, so relaxed I almost forgot about the wedding. Kidding.

One more wedding photo (thank you, Joanna!) taken after the freak thunderstorm, but before the ceremony. Happily ever after, folks!

Oh! Here’s one last photo, for this week anyway. Taken from my plane window on my way home:

Saying bye-bye to Mt. Hood. I am sitting (of course) and sipping wine. Airplane wine, but still

Amagansett, New York. September 2022

 

 

No, I didn’t skinny dip at that Canadian wedding

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‘But I did get up close and personal with scree.’

First let me remind you that I had a darned good reason to skip a couple of blog posts in August. (Actually, I had a couple of good reasons, but The Wedding is the one I’m talking about today.)

Dude and Child walking down the aisle to the shore of Lake Louise

Another reminder. This was the second of The Child’s two weddings. The first — and legally binding one — was held last May on the rim of the Grand Canyon. The second — the one family and friends could attend — was held a couple of weeks ago on the shores of Lake Louise.

The Child Bride at her first (legal) wedding. Yes, the groom was there too, but that was about it

The wedding itself was gorgeous but not without drama — though not of the will-the-groom-show-up kind. A thunderstorm blew in one hour before I Do Time, so freakalicious that it capsized several canoes on the lake, sending their (luckily) lifejacketed occupants — including one woman clutching a lapdog — into the forty-degree drink.

Me, with view of Lake Louise out our window. No capsized canoes in evidence. Yet.

Speaking of gorgeous, I was invited to the bridal suite to have my “hair and makeup” done. I was relieved when informed that I needn’t bring my own makeup, since I really don’t have any. I did relate a cautionary to the makeup artist. Once upon a time, my late lamented sis-in-law Patty got all dolled up to go out, whereupon her young son Aaron exclaimed, “Mommy! You look just like Clowny Boy!” (This was a stuffed toy of Aaron’s that looked, ahem, like a clown; Patty did not take this as a compliment.)

Neither Aaron nor Clowny Boy could make it, but his brother Joe sure did. That’s him with his dad, Oldest Younger Bro Scott

When I went back to our room all groomed and polished, I struck a pose in the doorway, and said, “Well?” To which Dude Man replied, “Huh?” I did a little spin, explaining about the hair. “Oh. It doesn’t look as stringy as it usually does.” I didn’t bother pointing out the makeup.

A gaggle of Henrys — plus Susan, my Scree Coach (read on), on the right. That’s me in the hair and makeup

But enough already with hair and makeup. What about that scree? Well. One of the cool things about Wedding #2 was, not only that we got to go to it, but that there was a whole week’s worth of fun run-up activities. Most of these took place in and around Banff. Which I swear is spelled with two “fs” because there’s just too much fun for one. (Or, as my experience will prove, maybe too much fear.)

Dude, Child and great-niece at the top of Sulfur Mountain, Banff. Yes, all three climbed the mountain. Me too

Most of these activities — mountain-climbing, white-water rafting to name a couple — were pitched toward the Younger Set. Dude Man and I did accomplish a couple of the more family-friendly climbs. But one day, puffed-up with our success at scaling Tunnel Mountain, we decided to “do” the glacier hike. Which ever after became known as the Horrible Hike — and not just by the seventy-somethings (us.) In fact, one of the Younger Set, a most fabulous female neurosurgeon whose hobby was pole-dancing (honest), is the one who dubbed this the Horrible Hike.

Nope. Not the Horrible Hike. Yet another beauty shot of Dude and Child

Before I heard her refer to it this way, I had been calling this hike just “Scree!!!” — pronounced just like you think, very loud and like a scream.

Me, practicing how to say “scree!!!!”

See, scree is a toxic mixture of dirt and loose pebbles. When a mountain trail is composed of scree, especially at, like, a 45 degree angle, the Hiker has little, if any, purchase on said trail. There is lots of slipping and skidding, and, if you’re afraid of heights like me, a panic attack or two. There were a couple of times I was frozen mid-slope, clinging to a root or a rock rather like that poster of the cat hanging from a ledge by its front paws.

Dude Man and Me, pondering our next move (straight up that scree-covered right-angled slope in the background) with Susan and Suzanne

The Younger Set had, of course, scampered up to the glacier’s edge well before the rest of us. In fact, I heard that The Child spied me below, mid-scree-festooned climb, and said, “I can’t believe my mom is doing this!”

The Younger Set, all set up by the glacier at the top

Well. I couldn’t believe it either. But, with Scott’s Squeeze Susan’s coaching and James’ Aunt Suzanne’s encouragement, I made it (almost) to the top.

Look in that circle to see me leading the line of descenders — The Child right behind me providing moral encouragement

Dude Man and I joined a group descending only when told the extra 100 yards or so — more or less straight up — weren’t “worth the extra effort.” Scott and Susan pushed on. “We’re only here once!” was their attitude.

Scott on top of the world — and a whole heck of a lot of scree

Their go-for-it attitude meant they missed quite possibly the scariest part of the Horrible Hike. We had made it all the way to the parking lot at the trailhead when someone said, “Look! There’s a bear!” Of course we all ran back to get a glimpse. We were only about ten feet away, peeking through some bushes, when someone said, “Gosh, he’s brown…and has a hump. It’s a grizzly — and he’s heading this way!”

Dude Man and our fresh new SIL stuck around long enough to photograph Mr. G. Yikes

So. I got up close and personal with a grizzly and hiked the Horrible Hike. But did I skinny-dip? Nah. That would have been waaaay too scary. Besides, it would have wreaked havoc with my hair and makeup.

Amagansett, New York. August 2022

 

 

Two weddings are better than one.

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‘Especially if they both involve the same two people.’

Yes, I’ve been AWOL for a couple of weeks now. But I have a very good excuse. (Many good excuses, actually, but I’ll stick with this one for right now.)

*sigh* The gorgeous Lake Louise setting. The Child pointed out that this is the second time she’s tied the knot in a National Park

The Child had a big ole wedding up in Canada. At Lake Louise — which, if you haven’t been there, is well worth the trip — with a whole week’s worth of ramp-up activities in Banff the week before. (Ditto Banff.) There was so much going on — hiking and rafting and gondola-ing and line dancing — that I didn’t have time to do my PT much less weigh in with blog posts.

Gondola-riding with a Great-Niece

Now, I have time — but so much material I can’t possibly put it all in one measly post. So I’ll focus on explaining why, since Her Childness has been legally hitched for more than a year (see the delightfully scenic “Runaway Bride” for the story) — why, oh why, she and the SIL had another wedding.

Wedding Number One: If you make a toast in the Grand Canyon and there’s no one there to hear it, are you really married?

I’m going to crib a bit from my wedding speech here. (Yes, I was asked to say a few words — but only after reassuring The Child Bride that I most absolutely would not entertain the wedding crowd with tales of Old Discarded Boyfriends.)

Child and SIL take their turn at the podium, Child looking decidedly relieved at my not mentioning old BFs

I started by pointing out that His Dudeness and I had not had a wedding. Yes, we got married, but that was pretty much it. We thought at the time that we would have a party for our family and friends after we got back from our wedding trip. Then it was, “Oh, we’ll have a party on our first anniversary.” Well, that anniversary passed, and so did the fifth and the tenth. The twentieth and thirtieth.

Mr. and Mrs. Dude, almost 40 years ago. A hot dog stand, but no party

And, gosh, the ole anniversary odometer will be turning over to 40 before too long — and still no celebration. (See “Party of Two” for a story of one of our non-celebrations.)

Another shot of Dude and Child strolling the aisle. Note uncanny resemblance. Yup, I was a conduit

Okay, you may be asking, but who cares? Why is having a celebration so important? I mean, other than that it’s so much fun to drink champagne and make toasts and dance like a crazy person and go skinny-dipping at two AM.

During the dancing, but before the skinny dipping

The reason is that weddings are pretty much the only time the family and friends of the bride and the groom ever get together. (Well, except for funerals, though I tactfully omitted mentioning that in my speech.) This was the first time I’d seen my brothers since my Mom’s 90th birthday party three years ago.

Here we are, all dressed up and ready to party: all five Henry kids, together again after three long years

And where else but a wedding am I going to get to trade sibling stories with the SIL’s great aunt on his mother’s side? Or scramble up a mountain with his Dad’s sister? Or dance with members of his college track team?

SIL’s Dad’s sister, plus Oldest Younger Bro Scott, Dude Man and Me, plotting our next move on the Scary Horrible Hike (story to follow, or not)

Yes, having another wedding — a wedding celebration — was a pretty cool idea. So cool, that maybe The Dude and I might rustle up a celebration for our 40th anniversary, after all. Though I think we’ll skip the 2 AM skinny dip. That’s a memory that would last a lifetime — but for all the wrong reasons.

Photo courtesy one of the 2 AM skinny-dippers (not me, thank goodness)

New York. August 2022

 

 

 

Galapagone

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‘Adoring Ecuador — in spite of spooky caiman, scary towers and claustrophobic lava tubes.’

Yes, we made it. To the Amazonian jungle, the Andean peaks and the Galapagos Islands. There was plenty of excitement, though perhaps the most hair-raising bit was American Airlines cancelling our 6AM flight at midnight the night before.

That’s our lodge in the distance. Yes, it’s accessible only by water

We spent the first ten days in a remote lodge in the middle of the jungle, where swimming was allowed only in a caged area since there were caiman and piranha and sea otters roaming the waters. (Tempted to swim? I was most decidedly not.)

Lucy, the caiman who lives under the breakfast pavilion at Sacha Lodge

Though I did indulge in some tower climbing. For those unfamiliar with jungle birding (which may be most of you), towers and walkways suspended high above the jungle are pretty much a necessary evil, since the canopy is where the cool birds hang out. And with some tree heights well over 100 feet, there’s really no way to see, say, a paradise tanager without taking the plunge (hah) and hightailing it up a tower.

Me, after shimmying up one of the two canopy towers

There were seven of us participating on this jungle adventure, five of whom went on to the Galapagos. After more than a week of muddy-trail-and-scary-tower togetherness, we’d formed a pretty tight bond. I’ve often said that these birding trips are like jury duty. You show up when and where you’re told; you eat together, talk together, pay attention to authority figures. And the Galapagos trip was almost literally like a jury since there were 13 of us (12 jurors and an alternate).

Our Galapagos Group. There was no one who was The One. Unless it was me, of course

Usually on these trips there is a participant who is The One. He/she is maybe a little too loud or too whiny or who has some other personality trait that’s, well, annoying. Like, there was a woman on a Panama trip who insisted on being called “Raven,” though she had a perfectly good normal name (Rebecca, I think it was.) I responded to this request by “mistakenly” referring to her as Sparrow.

No sparrows, but plenty of iguana. So many that you had to be careful where you stepped

And then there was the famous instance of the vegan on the East Africa Tour. In those days it was pretty tough to provide for a vegan in the wilds of Africa while traveling from lodge to lodge every day. Every time we unpacked our tasty lunches, we’d look to see what nasty surprise Jodi would find in her box labelled “Vegan” (or sometimes just “V”). The funniest was the day she found her box filled with a hand of bananas — and nothing else. Well, nothing else but the giant tarantula nestled inside. And then, on our last night together, Jodi, like the rest of us, ordered a pizza. “You’re having pizza?” inquired our baffled guide Terry. “I thought you were vegan.” “Oh, I was just trying out being a vegan on this trip, just to see if I liked it.” she replied, as Terry’s face grew red and his head spun around on his neck.

Decidedly non-vegan lunch on board the Nemo III, our floating Galapagos home

We had a vegan on this tour too. But he was very nice. And got to eat a lot of avocados.

Dude Man makes a couple of new Galapagan friends. I don’t think they’re vegan either

Suffice it to say that the Galapagos Islands themselves lived up to all the Bucket List hype. I will have more than enough material for several more blog posts. (Oh, and remind me to tell you all about when we almost drove off a cliff up in the Andes.) But before I sign off today, let me tell you about the Lava Tube.

The Galapagos. We got to visit ten of the islands. Only three of them had any people living there

This is pretty self-explanatory. The Galapagos being volcanic in nature, there are lots of big ole “tubes” where lava once flowed. We had just finished a rather lovely lunch (no hands of bananas with clinging tarantulas) at the tortoise preserve when Willy, our guide, suggested a post-prandial stroll — through a nearby Lava Tube. “How long is it?” someone asked. “About two football fields. Silence. Asked for a show of hands, only Dude Man raised his. Then one other guy raised his. It was only after one other woman raised her hand that I figured “what the hell,” and raised mine too.

Another new Dude Man buddy

Our intrepid little band set out. There were many steep stairs to the entrance, but the beginning wasn’t too bad. There was even lighting. But, as we forged on, the tube got narrower — and shorter. Until, at one point, we had to sort of “limbo” our way under a rock outcropping. Here I was, scrunched up under a ten-foot span of cooled-off lava that was 3 feet from floor to ceiling. Literally a once in a lifetime experience.

Trying not to think about Tom Sawyer while in the Lava Tube

Whew. More adventures next week. Now I really need to get back to Barbara Pym. 

Thinking longingly about English villages and vicars

Amagansett, New York. August 2022

 

Social media, Sixties-style

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‘My Mom and Magazine Club’

A couple of weeks ago I told you about how my Dad loved to go out on his houseboat, the Sir Launch-A-Lot. He’d fill ‘er up with clients and/or family members and tool around Carlyle Lake for hours, regaling one and sundry with jokes and stories.

My Dad was pretty entertaining on land, too. Here he demonstrates his favorite trick

Mom liked the houseboat, too, but her favorite thing was to go up on the roof with a nice big stack of women’s magazines — Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Family Circle. and the like. There were seven of these magazines that were extremely popular back in the Sixties — they were actually referred to as “The Seven Sisters” — and my mom took several. She liked company while she did this, and I was happy to oblige. We’d work our way through the stack making small talk — jumping in the Lake every once in a while to cool off.

Favorite Sister Laura and me up top of the Sir LAL, demonstrating an early selfie, courtesy Oldest Younger Bro Scott

While paging through the issues, we’d make (mostly snarky) comments on the fashions and the celebrities — no Kardashians, but plenty of Kennedys — and the ads. This was back when they ran those ads that showed some gorgeous woman in a bra with a headline that said, “I dreamed I painted the town red in my Maidenform Bra.” And there was a feminine hygiene ad that showed a box with just one copy line: “Modess: because.” I used to wonder, “because why?” We’d even make comments on the magazine covers, which always seemed to feature both an outrageous dessert — “Scoop Up Double Chocolate Brownie Sundae!” — and a fad diet — “Get Ready for Swimsuit Season in One Week!”

I don’t have a lot of photos of the inside of the house in summer — it was so darned hot, we spent most of our time outside

There were also cool regular features in these magazines that were fun to read bits of aloud. One of our faves was “Can This Marriage Be Saved” from the Ladies Home Journal. We also liked to scope out interesting recipes — leafing though women’s magazines was how we discovered Jello Cake, which is one of the most delightful creations ever. I was going to say “dessert” creations, but in our family, Jello Cake never made it to dessert. It got eaten as soon as it “set.” One Jello Cake that was destined for dessert (to grace a client houseboat outing) was found marred with a big bare footprint right in the middle. It got eaten anyway. (Jello Cake is that good.)

Mom on the porch with Grandkids Leo and The Child. Look closely at the coffee table and you’ll see a big ole stack of magazines

Mom and I could go for hours paging and commenting, paging and commenting. It was Sixties Social Media, you see. We were being social while engaged with media. And we were hooked on it well before the internet was a gleam in some nerd’s eye.

As entertaining as those houseboat social media sessions were, Mom’s Magazine Club took the whole thing up a notch. She and her friends would meet once a month and trade magazines and stories while eating a nice lunch. (Serving a nice lunch meant a chance to try out some of the recipes they found in those magazines. They’d also serve lots of coffee. I couldn’t find a shot of my mother actually present at Magazine Club, but the shot at the top of this post does show her wielding a coffee pot.)

The closest I can get to a picture of Mom at Magazine Club. I bet she wore outfits kind of like the one in this family portrait

Mom and her friends would take turns being the hostess and also giving talks about articles they’d read in the magazines. Mom told me she remembered giving a particularly well-received presentation on evolution inspired by a magazine article. I’m betting it wasn’t from Ladies Home Journal.

Oh — before I go, a little announcement. The blog and I will be on vacation until the end of July. Here’s hoping you find plenty of social media (preferably the in-person kind) to keep you occupied till Lutheran Liar Looks at Life returns.

New York City. July 2022

 

 

If at first you don’t succeed, pretend you’re a squirrel.

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‘Third time’s the charm for this tenacious little critter.’

Apologies for being late this week, but I’ve got a good excuse. Rather, several good excuses — and they’re all named Whitmore. Basically, we had Whitmores coming out our ears — staying with us (Dude Man’s sis and squeeze), eating with us (cousins and such) — and celebrating with us (various and sundry).

The fete at the Eleanor Whitmore Early Education Center had Dude Man and Cousin Girl rapt (Hi, M! It was great seeing you!)

We were dining out and going out till I, for one, felt quite like copping out.

The inimitable Aunt Eleanor, founder of the EWEEC, in a rare moment of repose

But, as they say, be careful what you wish for. Because now I’m sitting here all by my lonesome, wishing for all the hub and the bub — and the people who caused it — to come back.

The Child *sniff* just about an hour ago. I’ve already cleaned her room, erasing all traces of her recent occupation — a technique I highly recommend for beating the just-left blues. (See “To Clean, or Not to Clean?”) 

Of course a little blog-writing can also help keep me from deeply sighing as I pass The Child’s empty room. So here goes.

This is the story about the crazy squirrel that I was going to tell you last week — until I remembered that June 21 was the anniversary of my Dear Dad’s passing on to the Great Rosebed in the Sky. (See “Remembering Dad and the Sir Launch-A-Lot.”)

Dude Man tends the rose bush that Dad gave us

There are several species who frequent our feeders — but they’re intended for birds, not squirrels. In fact, The Dude has fortified these feeders with very efficacious squirrel deterrents.

The Dude hand-feeding the species for whom the feeders are intended. (Yes, they land on his hand!)

So, imagine my surprise when, while devouring my New York Times one morning, I spied a squirrel wrapped around the bottom of the biggest feeder, holding on to the bird perch thingies with three paws while transferring bird seed from the little feeder holes to his mouth with the remaining paw.

Squirrel taking a break from hanging from the feeder, no doubt getting ready to chomp on a deck chair

How on earth did he get there? I wondered, as, having eaten his fill he casually dropped to the ground. I went back to reading about the untimely death of Roe vs. Wade (no, we’re not going there today) and — wouldn’t you know it — I glanced up and there he was again.

This time, The Child parked herself in front of a window and waited, iPhone camera trained on the scene, to catch Mr. Squirrel in the act. Here’s the surveillance footage. Be sure to watch till the end:

Well. Dude Man was not having this. For one thing, they are definitely not going hungry — there is so much seed that gets spilled on the ground, those squirrels are practically round they’re so well-fed.

Fat sassy Squirrel Man digesting on our deck

These are the same furry culprits who have been eating our deck furniture and even our house. Seriously. I caught them red-pawed one day, gnawing away at the siding.

Gnawed-upon corner of the house. Fortunately, a friend told us about a spray that makes the wood taste nasty to squirrels (Thanks, Ken!)

So. You think you can just jump up there and devour all our bird seed, Mr. Squirrel? Hah! Let’s see what happens when we raise the feeder a couple of inches. I mean really. Let’s see what happens:

Kinda looks like somebody threw him from behind that tree trunk like a furry little football, doesn’t it? But you’ve got to hand it to that squirrel. He never — ever — gives up. Remember him when you’re feeling frustrated or ineffectual. Or just hungry.

Speaking of hungry, I could use a taste of those berries The Child is offering her Whitmore Grampa. Actually, forget the berries, I could use more Child

Amagansett, New York. June 2022

 

Remembering Dad and the Sir Launch-A-Lot

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‘A boatload of memories on this longest day of the year’

I was going to write about this crazy squirrel who’s been entertaining our Amagansett guests with his determined efforts to reach our bird feeder. But then I remembered. It’s June 21 — which is not only the longest day of the year, but a sad day too. It’s the day our Dad died 13 years ago.

This guy will have to wait till next week. But he’s good at waiting

I’ve written about Dad many times, of course. About his jokes (“Kangaroo Walks into a Bar”), his napping (“Let Sleeping Dads Lie”), his obsessions (“There Go the Roses”) and even his comb-over (“Hair Hacks of the Follicly-Challenged”). Just last week I wrote about how The Dude is, in many ways, so much like him that sometimes I feel like I married my Dad (“Of Mugs and Men.”)

Dad knew his way around a kitchen, having been a short-order cook (among other things) in his college days. (See “Dad Eggs and Ham”)

Sir Launch-A-Lot — yes, that was this boat’s actual name — has made it into my stories before too, most notably in 2018’s “Yet’s Go to Ye Yake.” Sir L-A-L was a pontoon boat that Dad bought for what he called “business reasons.”

It’s kinda hard to see, but “Sir Launch-A-Lot” is there above the front window, behind my Sister, Gramma Henry and Mom

At this time in his life and career Dad was well into his “Deej” period, details of which, including photos of his famous “Poop” phone, can be found in last week’s “Of Mugs and Men.” As “Deej,” he was the partner in the Henry, Meisenheimer & Gende engineering firm tasked with growing the business. “I’ll take clients out on the boat,” said Dad (er, Deej).

Nope, those aren’t clients. That’s Dude and Youngest Younger Bro. But they are wielding HMG-branded beer holders

And so he did. He tootled around on Carlyle Lake with boatloads of clients, regaling them with cool stories as well as cold beers, steaks on the grill and clams and lobsters “baked” on sandbars. Once he mistakenly hit “reverse” when pulling into the dock after one of these outings, bonked a piling and watched as the grill flew off the deck and into the drink.

Sir Launch-A-Lot safely docked. Look closely and you can spot the grill up front on the port side

Sir Launch-A-Lot was acquired well after I’d flown the nest — the lake itself didn’t exist when I was a kid — so I missed out on many a sunbaked watery adventure. But the boat was there during my college summers for topside sunbathing and women’s-magazine-reading with my Mom. And for fireworks-watching with whatever family members were around on the 4th of July.

Dad in the “bass boat,” which was also used for water-skiing, Sir L-A-L in background. Not sure if the bass boat was acquired for “business reasons”

And, I’m glad to say that good ole Sir L-A-L was still afloat when The Child came along. I’ll have to ask her if she remembers jumping off the boat roof with her own Dad. (Uncle Scott, who took the jumping-off-the-boat photo at the end of this story, was very “into” jumping off the boat roof, but I’m pretty sure our Dad felt the same way I did about that. Which was “No thanks.”)

The Child up top the Sir Launch-A-Lot

Sir Launch-A-Lot was eventually sold (or given?) to a family friend. And my Dad (and Mom) eventually moved far away from Carlyle Lake. But when summertime rolls around I often find myself reminiscing about those long summer days on the boat with Dad.

The Dude and The Child jump off into the sunset. RIP, Sir L-A-L. And Dad

Amagansett, New York. June 2022

Of mugs and men

Standard

‘I think I married my Dad’

“If my eyes are not deceiving me, your Dad looks like your husband?!? Hmmmm.”

This is what a friend (hi Leslie!) commented after reading my birthday tribute to Dad on Facebook. (You can read it, too, even if you hate FB: “Kissing Daddy Good-night.”)

And you know what? Leslie might be right. Dad and Dude not only look somewhat alike — right down to the blonde lock of hair over one eye — but they act alike too.

Take this Thing About Mugs. I’ve scoured the house from basement to attic and still can’t find a mug that Dude Man liked to use. I would say that it was his favorite mug, but that would be a lie. This mug actually belongs to The Child. Which makes it even worse that it is MMIA. (That’s “Mug Missing In Action.”) He’s lost a mug that isn’t even his.

Mug shot of The Child. Tho this is not the mug in question. I couldn’t take a photo of that mug — because it’s, well, missing

My Dad was famous for doing the same thing. After a visit from him and Mom, I would find mugs scattered around the house in the unlikeliest of spots. On arms of couches and chairs, of course. But also under couches and chairs, even beds. Once I found one balanced on the pipes of our furnace. Mugs would turn up outside too. On and under the outdoor furniture, natch. But also nestled in bushes and and on the tops of cars.

Dude Man liked to use The Child’s mug because it was very similar to his favorite mug.

Dude’s favorite mug. The Child’s was remarkably similar — with coyotes instead of hippos — probably because it was made by the same potter, tho purchased in Santa Fe, not Africa

The Child’s mug found its way here when Child and Beau (now SIL) took off in the Summer of ’20 on their camper-van adventure. They stored their household goods here “temporarily” while they road-trip roamed. (Note to Child: better come get your stuff before Dad gets his paws on it and it all disappears.)

Child and Then-Beau hit the road, leaving wordly goods — including now-missing mug — behind

But back to Dad and Dude.

They also have (or had, in my Dad’s case) a propensity for misplacing phones. Just last week, The Child was a witness more than once to Dude’s Thing About Phones. Almost every day he’d say, “Say, I can’t find my phone; could you call me?” — so he could listen for the ring and zero in on it.

Nine times out of ten it was in the bathroom.

Dad, too, was always misplacing phones. Once, when “portable phones” — remember those? — were all the rage, he took his outside so he wouldn’t miss an important call while working on his roses. The phone was missing for weeks before they found it in the crook of a tree.

I don’t have a photo of Dad with his portable phone — so this one will have to do

Oh, speaking of phones and bathrooms, my Favorite Sister shared a hilarious Dad story with us last Sunday on our Family Facetime. Dad went through a phase when he liked to be called “Deej.” This was a squooshing-together of his initials, D for Dale and J for Joseph. I think he liked the zingy, hip sound of it. His friends and colleagues must’ve liked it too, since they all started calling him “Deej.” Mom even used “Deej” as part of her email address. The only holdout was Regina, the (very colorful) local woman who “cleaned” our house. She called him “Henry Dale” — a reverse of his first and last names, and at a high volume at that.

Dad early in his “Deej” phase, showing off his spoon-balancing technique — a talent The Dude does not share. At least I don’t think he does

Anyway. It seems that one day Laura’s girls had some stick-on letters and suggested labeling Grampa’s phone (by then, cutting-edge as usual, he had a flip phone) with his nickname.

But when their cousin Aaron spied the phone on a table (or maybe in the bathroom or on top of a car) he asked, “Aunt Laura, why does Grampa have “poop” written on his phone?

Good question, Aaron.

Before I close, I’d just like to say that there’s one other thing my Dad and Dude Man share. Like my Dad, Dude has shown himself to be an incredible — and memorable — father.

I’m thinking it turned out pretty great that I “married my dad.” We can always get more mugs and phones.

Amagansett, New York. June 2022