Monkey see, monkey do


‘Up close and personal with the Burt Reynolds of chimps’

Okay. I realize only too well that there are some of you out there who may not ‘get’ the reference in the subtitle of this piece. Well, Once upon a time, there was an actor named Burt Reynolds. He was considered quite hunky at the time. So hunky, in fact, that he agreed to pose nude (yes, nude!) for a women’s magazine centerfold. (Equal Rights, you know.)

Anyway. This piece is not about feminism; it’s a piece about chimps. Check out this link, and see if you don’t think there isn’t a rather strong, um, family resemblance between Burt and the cheesecake cousin I’ve pictured up there at the top of this story. And no, I don’t mean that as an insult. We are all primates, after all. Even Donald Trump.

Some folks thought there was a resemblance between Burt and my Starter Husband. This was, at the time, considered quite flattering. But, being sort of a naughty person, when Mr. Starter would bring up this supposed resemblance on social occasions I used to say that, yes, he did look just like Burt — from the feet down. Check out ‘My Polio Shot Marriage’ if you’d like to make up your own mind.

My current — and long-lasting — hub, The Dude, just caught me chuckling to myself over this post, and said ‘Hey, I thought Burt Beynolds was dead!’ (The Dude looks like James Taylor. Which is another story. Hmmm. Good thing I’m done getting different husbands; who knows who the next one would look like?)

But no, Burt is not dead. In fact, he made a movie just last year (the title escapes me; I could look it up, but am not sure I am going to be able to use this internet much longer). Anyway, Mr. Reynolds claims in interviews to regret posing for this famous (at the time, anyway) centerfold. But I certainly don’t regret going on the Optional Primate Trek that was offered on this Birding Shindig. We got VERY ‘up close and personal’.

Miss Chimp makes a monkey out of me in this double selfie. Yes, that is a female. As am I. Though we both are coming across a bit Unisex here

We did this chimp-searching with professional primatologists. (And some guys with guns just in case elephants attacked us — elephants do attack people on occasion, but the guys with guns don’t kill them — they just shoot up in the air to scare them away. Whew!)

This was in a place called (and I kid you not) the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Which kind of reminds me of when I visit my Mom out on the Oregon Coast and there are all these places named from when Lewis and Clark got stuck there and were very very bummed. Like there is a place called Cape Disappointment. (I have a mug somewhere emblazoned with this name; it cheers me up no end to drink from it and relish the fact that I am not stuck on a damp ship with a bunch of crabby explorers.) On our trip we were certainly not disappointed. Not only did we get to skip a wet cold winter making salt, we got to hang out with a whole chimp family.

We did have to be sort of careful around the Alpha Male. (See him in the picture at the top of this story basking in his well-earned Alpha Glory.) We didn’t want him to think we were trying to usurp his role. Every time he beat his chest, shrieked, and banged on the sides of a tree we, well, did our best obeisant monkey impersonation.

Some time, some how, I hope to be able to add the two little films of the chimps that I made. One shows a cute baby chimp running merrily along; the other shows our group cowering as Mr. Alpha beats the tree trunk and shrieks. Sadly, you can’t see him, but you definitely can hear him. Sounds just like a Tarzan movie! Only with no loincloths.

Hey! I found the cute-baby-chimp-running-video!

In closing, let me share a selfie with another kind of primate, one who rarely beats his chest, not to mention tree trunks.

Me, with my favorite Alpha Male

Uganda, in Africa. June 2018


Dude, we’re not in Kansas anymore


’Though the sky sure as heck looks like we might be’

I thought I might have to skip a weekly blog post (quel horreur!) but it looks like I have internet here in Uganda, at least for the moment — the key words being ‘for the moment’.

So this’ll be a quickie. Mainly photos, with a witty bit of banter as filler. (Fingers crossed on the ‘witty’ as well as the internet access.)

Let’s start with that picture up top, showing an extremely scary (at least to this Former Midwesterner) sky. Some of our intrepid birding band were actually on board that little mainly-metal lightning-bait boat and insisting upon chugging upstream to clap their eyes on the Murchison Falls—no matter that the sky looked like the one that whipped Dorothy off to Oz. But cooler heads prevailed. Thank heaven for our Hipster Birder Leader, who insisted on herding us all safely to shelter, where some disgruntled mumbling ensued while we waited out the maelstrom. We (finally) did get to chug on up the Nile.

We missed the Falls, but not the boat. Thank you for not making me a Lightning Rod, dear Hipster Leader (the guy at left, not behind me. Duh)

On the Nile, we found plenty to amuse, including crocodiles and hippos. And (of course) plenty of birds, pointed out by our afore-mentioned Leader, who was himself a rare specimen—a birder sporting not only Hipster Headgear, but a beard, a ponytail, and plenty of tatts (though none of birds, I noticed.) He was also really into martial arts.

Our Birder Leader’s back, displaying a description of a martial art called ‘Grappling’ (somewhat obscured by strap supporting assorted essential gear for something called ‘Birding’)

Speaking of ‘backs’, back to the Nile. Where we found plenty to compensate for the lack of waterfalls. Here are a few highlights:

Hippos! Look up to about eleven o’clock past the hat (those are Birder Directions, by the way) and you can just make out a sneaky guy (or gal, who knows?) peeking at us

The Dude checks out the hippos, in between oodles of birds. There were crocs, too — and not the ugly shoe kind, either

The next day, after riding across the Nile on a rather creaky-looking ferry, we ventured into the safari-esque part of the park. (We’re speaking here of Murchison Falls National Park. In Uganda. When I get a chance, I’ll put in some useful links. Cross my crocodile-fearing heart.)

We’ve got the whole world in our hands. Well, in between us, anyway. This globe marks the spot where the ferry crosses the Nile. The Victoria Nile, that is

That safari part of the Park had its daunting moments as well. For one thing, we (mostly) weren’t allowed to get out of the vehicle, otherwise we might find ourselves a snack for a lion (though we didn’t see any) or a charging target for a Chad Buffalo. We saw plenty of those—though no, I don’t have a photo. Maybe The Dude has one. On the camera that never relinquishes its photos.

Okey-doke. But then where do those ruts lead? And why are they there?

Since I have a bit of internet time left before we take off for a bird-beladen (is that a word?) afternoon, let me finish with a few shots from the following day, when we traveled to yet another National Park (name to come when I can look it up). But here is a sign we saw along the way. Check out the bottom admonition closely:

Check out the warning on the bottom of this sign. I’m opting, personally, for the ‘be faithful’ option. Crossing my fingers that The Dude concurs

In this particular park, there is a rather famous road called The Royal Mile. This is because the last King of Uganda (the one who lost to the British in a long war) used this road to do his Royal Birding. Kidding. He used the road to get to what is now known as Lake Alberta. (You can bet it wasn’t called that when the king used that road to get to it, though.)

I’m fuzzy on the details of the war that he lost, but there was something in the story about how this king failed to get all the other area leaders on his side. They turned on him (sided with the Brits, actually) and, well, there you go. Sounds kinda familiar, huh? Hold on to your pride, while the enemy divides and conquers. And now everybody in Uganda speaks English.

The picture is almost as fuzzy as my memory of Ugandan historical details—but this is The Royal Mile, lined with birders with bins instead of bad Brits with guns

There were, of course, zillions of birds as well as other creatures — some monkeys, some chimps, some bugs, even some dangerous trees. Though this one tree was only dangerous to other trees. I think. It’s a fig that starts as a seed that wafts on the breeze to land in the upper branches of some innocent, unsuspecting host. The fig seed then feeds on moss and such, sends down vines, surrounds the hosts tree and, um, strangles it. Gulp.

The tree behind me strangled its host tree. Instead of me

There were bugs, too. I didn’t hang around long enough to find out if they were dangerous. But everybody took a picture of this one. I’m thinking it’s because she (I’m anthropomorphizing here) was so pretty. Fashionable, even.

This bug dresses in Lily Pulitzer, so how dangerous could she be? (I didn’t try to find out)

Well. Time to go. Today we spent the whole morning with a band of chimpanzees. Honest! I promise to tell you all about it next time. Unless another storm gets me. Not to mention a snake or a bat or a gorilla. Yes, we’re seeing gorillas — on Saturday.

The lights at the end of the stormy tunnel. Maybe there’s a pot of gold at the end. Which this is — the end, that is

Kibale National Park, Uganda. May 2018

A Night at the Opera


‘Where everyone falls in love with the wrong person, and dies a horrible death in the end’

Maybe you’ve heard this joke. It’s the one about the guy who goes to the ballet and asks, “Why don’t they just get taller girls?”

Sorry. My dad used to tell that one, and I don’t know any opera jokes. I do remember there was an old Bugs Bunny cartoon that was a parody of Wagner, but actual opera jokes? Hmmm.

I wanted to start with a bit of levity because, most of the time, opera is sort of the opposite of humorous. But that’s what I love about it. I mean, what’s not to like about poisonings and sword fights and firing squads? And brutal stabbings with daggers — of bad guys (take that, Scarpia!) and of one’s self (poor Butterfly). Oh, and let’s not forget the jumpings to one’s death off parapets. That’s in Tosca, my very favorite opera. 

Anna Netrebko rocks the house as Tosca. Here she is soaking up her zillionth curtain call after jumping off that parapet

Anyway. I’m not going to get into a lot of Opera Stuff. Except to say that I absolutely love it. Except for maybe exploring the upper reaches of the Amazon, opera is quite possibly the most exciting thing I do. At least with all my clothes on. Opera is even exciting before it starts. Just check out this video taken from the balcony of the Met:

Magic Fountain, Magic Flute #metopera #bestqueenofthenightever

A post shared by lutheranliar (@lutheranliar) on

And it’s exciting after it’s over, too. I know people who are content to watch those “live in HD” opera movies. And I’m happy for them. But they miss the curtain calls. Which can be crazy (and practically the Best Part). The other night after Pretty Yende (yes, that’s her name; she comes from a part of Africa where parents name their kids what they hope their kids will be — she has a brother named ‘Prosper’) sang Lucia (as in Lucia di Lammermoor), the house was fully brought down. People were not only ‘brava’-ing like mad, they were tearing up their programs and showering dear Pretty with the confetti thus made. And the screaming and shouting and stomping of feet? I bet you could hear it from wherever you were that night. You just thought it was thunder, or that volcano in Hawaii.

Dear Michael Fabiano as Lucia’s driven-mad-enough-by-love-to-stab-himself-and-still-keep-on-singing lover got a Standing O that wasn’t too shabby either. He’s a Jersey Boy who got an infamous start in the documentary ‘Audition’, which is worth watching even if you think opera is for effete snobs. Michael’s sort of a bad guy in this film; while everyone else is being nice and self-effacing, he wants to win. (And he does! So operatic.)

Outside the Met during the Ring Cycle. Four days and like 40 hours of Wagner. A once-in-a-lifetime experience. Literally

It’s fun to watch that documentary. It’s kind of like ‘Spellbound’, but with singing. And the singing is all aria(s) all the time, so it’s not too intense. The Dude only likes arias; he thinks whole operas are way too long. And he’s not wrong — most are at least 3 hours, and some, like Tristan und Isolde (my other fave) clock in around 5. And don’t let’s get going on the Ring Cycle. The Ring goes on for days. I adore opera, and once was enough for me.

Me, taken midway during my Ring Stint. Yup, one result (other than a sore butt) was my official blog photo

I could go on and on about opera. But then, like one of those Soviet works like ‘The Nose’ I’d no doubt put you to sleep. (I made myself stick around for the whole Nose experience, but I hated it with a dreadful hate. Sorry, Shostakovich.)

I couldn’t start with an opera joke, but I’ll end with a funny opera story. Dark, but funny. The other night, when I was watching Pretty and Michael do their mad-scene-and-self-stabbing Thing, there was a crash in the box behind me. (I should explain that by ‘box’, I mean a side-parterre box, in my opinion the best value in the House. These are located just to the sides — hence the name — of the Grand Tier, and not only are a perfect perch for singletons like me, but just as good as the GT boxes, which cost an Absolute Fortune, and are usually populated by Famous Rich People.)

Me, ensconced in my side parterre perch. Where the view is quite wonderful, and not that crazy-pricey

Anyway, this crash came from the Expensive GT Box right next to me. Someone had fallen to the floor, upturning her chair and that of her neighbor. After the crash, there was a commotion, then three ushers entered the box with flashlights to deal with the situation. Turns out said Someone had been ‘overserved’ some overpriced champagne, probably in the Grand Tier Restaurant during intermission.

The Met during intermission. Sometimes I have champagne, but I usually indulge in calling my Mom  

During the ensuing commotion, I could hardly pay proper attention to Poor Tosca stabbing Evil Scarpia. I could hear the ushers whispering things like “Can we help you up?” and “Wouldn’t you like to get up from the floor and go lie down, um, somewhere else?” while the woman protested (loudly) “NO, I am FINE” and “I just need to STAY RIGHT HERE” and suchlike. It was a good thing it was dark; if I’d caught the eye of my fellow parterre-boxers we would have all burst into inappropriate-for-opera giggles.

Finally, happy ending in the box (Well-Heeled Woman exited stage left); satisfyingly tragic ending on the stage. Lucia goes mad, her lover gets stabbed, Pretty and Michael bring down the House, and I get myself home to (maybe) more champagne. Curtain.

Sometimes I get champagne at intermission too. And sometimes I just steal The Child’s

New York City. May 2018

How many people can you pack into a gazebo?


‘No one knows — because no one has ever tried.’

Some time ago (in a piece called ‘What’s Not To Lichen?’) I wrote about stuff that families find funny. (Usually, but not always, it’s only the people actually in that family who find these things funny.) Sometimes, like in the Henry Clan, it’s bad puns. My Grampa Henry had a whole collection of particularly-awful puns. Plus dirty limericks. He wrote one once about his gall-bladder operation. He survived; fortunately, the limerick did not.

Me. Doing stand-up in a bed of you-know-what. Check out ‘What’s Not To Lichen?’ for more punishment (er, examples)

Besides awful puns (and sometimes limericks) there’s usually a set of inside jokes — groaners that never fail to amuse, at least when told (and retold) within the confines of the family itself. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “How many dead people are in that graveyard?” (Answer: “All of them.”) I know, I know. If you can stand it, a good selection of both Henry and Whitmore specialties can be found in ‘Kangaroo Walks Into A Bar’. Just don’t take a sip of coffee before you read it; there’s a Whitmore urology joke that’s killer.

Sometimes this funny family stuff can’t be categorized as a pun or a joke or even a limerick. Sometimes what’s funny just is.

Take gazebos. For some reason, if you’re a Henry, the mere sight of a gazebo is sure to crack you up. (If you’re not sure what a gazebo is, you can click here or just look at the photo at the top of this post.) If a Henry sees a gazebo, and points it out to a fellow Henry, both burst out laughing. If there’s a non-Henry along, he/she can look a bit baffled.

Two Dudes in front of an empty gazebo. Yup, I am laughing right now

Thinking gazebos are funny has just always been one of our Family Things. Partly it’s that ‘gazebo’ is such an inherently funny word. Also, they invariably look, well, silly. Kind of ornate and effete and ridiculous. It doesn’t help that they are — always — empty. Go on; try to remember the last time you saw anybody actually occupying a gazebo.

We Henrys used to try to imagine scenarios when we’d make use of a gazebo if we had one, say, in our yard in Southern Illinois. (Sit there and read a book? Nah. You’d get eaten alive by mosquitoes. But what if the gazebo had screens? Cue screams of Henry laughter.)

We thought gazebos were so silly we used to make a game of pointing out all the (empty, every single one) gazebos we could find. We’d point, then make a ‘zero’ (to indicate no one was in said gazebo). We didn’t have to say anything; we’d just ‘get it’. I once took a bike ride with my Mom and Middle Younger Brother Roger all around his lovely gazebo-dotted hometown of Geneva, Illinois. We almost fell off our Schwinns.

We Henrys are not the only ones, apparently, who find gazebos innately hilarious. Recently, John Mulaney did a Gazebo Riff during his opening monologue on Saturday Night Live. Here, I’ve cued it up for you:

Nice to know the Mulaneys were a silly family too. I can’t wait to see if he works a gall-bladder limerick into a future monologue.

Before I go, I must admit that there was one time a Henry actually used a gazebo. That I witnessed, anyway. This was a few years ago out in Petaluma, CA, where my Oldest Younger Brother Scott made an appearance at the Butter and Eggs Festival (yes, that’s a Thing) with his band, Bad Neighbor.

Bad Neighbor plays. Yes, that’s a gazebo and the band is in it. You can’t see the whole thing. But I did; I was there. But I was never in the gazebo myself

Quick note. His band got the name ‘Bad Neighbor’ because one night when they were practicing in his garage, the guy next door came over to complain about the noise and said, “You are a really bad neighbor!” To which my Bro said, “Thanks, you just named our band.” Sometimes, when just two of the four band members do a gig, they call themselves Half-Bad Neighbor.

But why play in a gazebo? Isn’t that what band shells are for?

Oh. I guess the band shell, like this one in Central Park, was otherwise occupied

New York City. May 2018

One from Column ‘A’


‘Alice’s Adventures in Astoria. Free Schmeeg lesson included’

No, I didn’t climb the Column. Nor did I hike up the Head. (I have done both — the Column climbing and the Head hiking — but being deathly afraid of heights, believe me, once was enough.)

But the Peeps who tagged along on my recent Visit to Mom and Sis were more than game, so up they went, a-climbing and a-hiking. (The pic at the top of this post shows said Peeps peeping over the top of the Column. Which is in Astoria, Oregon. In case you’re craving column background, you can read all about it here. )

Me. Not climbing the Column (seen looming in background)

My Head. Next to the Tillamook One. (Which I am most def not hiking)

View from the top of Said Head. (Photo not taken by me)

Turns out that abstaining from heights can have its dangers too. I was pooped on by a seagull while not hiking the Head. I swore the darned thing laughed at me afterward but The Dude says there are no Laughing Gulls in the Northwest, so I guess it was my imagination. Though the icky white streak on my track pants was definitely real. Good thing I learned from previous Birding Adventures to always carry Kleenex in my pants pocket.

‘Hey! That’s Haystack Rock!’ And no, I have absolutely no idea what it is I am pointing at

Yup. We had loads of adventures on our Trip West, some not even involving heights (or bird poop). The Child and her BF and The Dude and I met up in Vancouver (the Washington One, not the British Columbian One), where my Beloved Younger and Only Sister lives, then scooted out to Seaside to see my Mom.

Seen on one of my morning Seaside Coffee Walks. My ‘free advice’? Don’t get a tattoo. Oh, and avoid seagulls — or at least walking under them

Incidentally, ‘cannibis’ (AKA ‘pot’), like tattooing, is legal Out West, and we also saw plenty of places to score (er, ‘buy’) weed on our trip. The biggest Pot Place in Seaside is located next to the police station. Though there is also one on Route 26 right next to the Dairy Queen, which seems even more appropriate. We noticed lots of activity at many emporiums like these on our drive to Seaside, since it happened to be 4/20,Though the kids did have to explain that all that pot-buying had absolutely nothing to do with Hitler’s birthday.

Chamber of Commerce nightmare. Seen across the street from the Best Mexican Restaurant ever. I forgot the name, but it’s in Seaside. Just, um, find this sign and go across the street

I’m a bit fuzzy and jet-lagged (and somewhat daunted by the prospect of washing loads of poop-festooned clothing), so I’m going to cheat a bit this week and offer you less text and more photos. Here’s some more fun signage, seen on our side trip to Astoria. Which, incidentally, was once its Own Country (sort of, anyway), founded by John Jacob Astor as a fur-trading post and his own personal kingdom.

Worlds of caffeinated options also abound in Astoria. You can’t walk 20 feet without passing a coffee shop. This one was in a converted garage

These days Astoria is a Kingdom of Hipsters, its streets studded with thrift shops, micro-breweries, and more coffee shops than you can shake a gluten-free pretzel stick at. But, predating hipsters by a long espresso shot is a place we affectionately call the Bong Store, where we made an obligatory visit. This is a place located right under the Scary-Ass Bridge (actually, the Astoria-Kegler Bridge) that sells cigars, porn, all kinds of jerky — and, yes, has a whole room full of bongs. (They also used to sell swords and scabbards. But when I asked about them, they said sorry, no more swords, but they did stock crossbows and dart guns. Oh.)

Before I forget. Here’s Mt. Hood — twice. Nobody in our group climbed it. But not because they didn’t want to

This post is getting looooong, and I have to get cracking on that laundry. But I did promise a Schmeeg lesson. This is a crazy game that involves hiding quarters and slapping tables. Here’s how my sister ‘splains it:

And here’s what it looks like when you play it:

As you can see, a Good Time Was Had By All. Save the quarters you get in change from that Pot Purchase, and go ahead and try out some Schmeeg. See you next week — and thanks again for your hospitality, Sister and Mom!

Our Seaside Selfie Selves say ‘so long and see you soon!’

New York City. April 2018

“I see by your outfit that you are a birder”


‘On the Streets of Laredo, way back when — and now’

Nobody goes to Laredo,” says my Texan Friend. Well, call me ‘Nobody’ then, because I’ve not only been to Laredo, I’ve been there twice.

This most recent time shouldn’t really count, since The Dude and I were there not even a whole day, Laredo being merely the ‘end point’ of our birding adventure to the Rio Grande Valley, tales of which I will regale you with another time. Or not. But count it I will, since we did in fact “go walking on the streets of Laredo”, to quote the Immortal Johnny Cash.

We didn’t spy any “young cowboys all dressed in white linen”. Or any cowboys at all. Well, except for these hombres:

The only cowboys we spied. And they were hanging out at the airport, not walking on the streets like any self-respecting Laredo cowboy

No, the time I spent in Laredo that really counts is the time I went there as part of a trip made with my Gramma and Grampa Peterson and my Aunt Marilyn. Continue reading

Crocodile Dumdee


‘What you don’t know can hurt you.’

A couple of years after The Dude and I got married, we took a trip to Australia. This was a very long time ago. So long ago that when I googled ‘Crocodile Dundee’ after coming up with that groaner of a title, I found out the movie came out after we took our trip. So we weren’t familiar with lines like That’s not a knife…this is a knife’, much less with the fact that practically everything in Australia can pretty much kill you.

Speaking of my punsterific headline, let me say right off the bat that I don’t mean to pick on The Dudeman. It’s just that the photo of him in his Crocodile hat looks, well, more ‘DundeeLike’ than mine.

Me, sporting my Crocodile Dundee (er, ‘Dumdee’) hat. And not much else. I’m perched by the pool that had all the snakes in it, soon to be described in horrifyingly hissy detail

Because, let’s face it. We were both pretty dumb on this trip. Granted, this was long before TripAdvisor or (probably) even the internet itself. (Not sure; I’ll have to ask Al Gore.)

At any rate, we were young, we were naive, and we were game for pretty much anything. We were also pretty poor, but I had oodles of frequent flier miles from all my work-related plane-hopping for Ogilvy. (See ‘Around the World in 80 Shoots’) So we cashed ’em in and flew Qantas to Cairns. Where, before we could even grab a rental car, we were ourselves grabbed — right there in the terminal — by a couple of guys who said “Hey, wanna go diving on the Great Barrier Reef? Come with us!” (Use your imagination for the Australian accents.)

No, we didn’t buy the Brooklyn Bridge. But yes, we did hop right on this dive boat

Nope, we were not certified divers. In fact, I had never even tried diving before. But we strapped on that gear and dove right in. There are still marks from my fingernails etched into that boat’s wooden sides. Continue reading

“What should I write on this name tag?”


‘That time I helped out at The Child’s School.’

This past weekend the Northeast got socked by a big ole Northeaster. Maybe you heard about it. Heck, maybe you were even in it. Like any sensible person, I rode it out tucked up safe and dry indoors. (Though an alarming number of people who got nailed by this storm were also indoors — they got squooshed by big ole trees falling on their houses.)

Inspecting the damage the day after the N’Easter. Yes, that cliff got majorly undermined. And no, you’re not supposed to stand that close to it

I did my best to distract myself from the swooshing of sideways rain and the rattling of windows withstanding 55 mph gusts by engaging in some serious house cleaning. And then, as a reward, I started a very good novel. (Pachinko, if you’re interested. One of the NY Times Book Review’s Ten Best Books of 2018, and deservedly so.)

But it was hard to concentrate. Instead of losing myself in a story about Koreans in Privation in the Far East, my mind wandered to Kids in Private School on the Upper East Side. Specifically, it wandered to that time I handed out name tags. Maybe it was the pillow: Continue reading

Working for Doctor Dude


‘The job I was just not cut out to do’

I’ve worked at a lot of jobs, over a lot of years. I worked at ad agencies in New York and, before that, in the Midwest. Before that I worked at my hometown newspaper. And before that I was a babysitter. Heck, I’ve even worked as a “cleaning lady” — and not just in my own house. Oldest Younger Brother Scott and I ‘did’ my Dad’s office back when I was a kid in grade school. (I can’t remember what we got paid, if anything.)

But nothing I had worked at before in all my many years of working prepared me for serving as a receptionist in my husband-the-doctor’s office.

Yup, The Dude is a doctor. An eye doctor (an ophthalmologist), in fact. If you’re going to be a doctor, it’s a pretty good kind to be. For one thing, there are hardly any emergencies. No matter how often your mom warned you, it’s really not that often that kids poke each others’ eyes out with pointy sticks. Another thing that’s good, at least from The Wife’s perspective: no one gets naked. Nope, you’ll hardly ever hear an eye doctor say “Let’s get that top off; I need to examine your retinas.”

The Dude’s extremely adorable office mural, made for him by the extremely adorable Child

Continue reading

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.) Continue reading