It’s not easy being Big Green

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‘Nah. I take it back. It’s actually pretty sweet.’

Last weekend I got to catch up with Gouda and Crud and JookBock and Sex and The Mole. Because last weekend Dude Man and I went up to Hanover, NH, to attend his 50th reunion at Dartmouth College. Yes, folks, I said 50th.

Dude (circled) in the bosom of the Class of ’74, in front of Dartmouth Hall

It was very well-attended, especially by The Dude’s pack of pals, the aforementioned Gouda et al. Dude Man was in a fraternity there, once known as Kappa Kappa Kappa, or, affectionately, Tri-Kap, but renamed Kappa Pi Kappa a few years ago. Why? Just picture them attending intermural sporting events decked out in sweatshirts with KKK on the front.

A Big Green gaggle (Dude circled) in front of the once-called Kappa Kappa Kappa House. Look closely, and you’ll see one of them sporting a freshman beanie

There were other renamings that got most of the 50-year classmates’ heads spinning around. Like, not only did they stop calling the sports teams “Indians” and rename them “Big Green” (which I kind of understand), they also renamed the medical school the Geisel Medical School — after Theodor Geisel, the children’s book author. (Yes. A medical school named after Dr. Seuss.) I guess the Geisels gave them a ton of money. When this guy came up to us in one of the buffet lines soliciting class donations — “Hey! Let’s get the class to 100% participation!” — we asked how much money we’d need to give to rename the medical school — no, not the Dude Man Medical School (or even the Whitmore Medical School), but to put it back to what it was: the Dartmouth Medical School.

What Dude Man (circled) looked like as a frat boy

Other than griping about names, did we have fun? You betcha. You haven’t lived till you’ve seen Seventy-Somethings parading around in Dartmouth-green bedecked straw boaters. Why, some of the attendees, including Dude Man himself, dug out their freshman beanies for the occasion.

That’s the best shot I have of beanied Dude Man…seen walking ahead while pal Lex points out a shadow

Incidentally, as I’ve mentioned before, the Nickname Thing is a Dartmouth Thing. The Husband Known as “Dude” got his moniker because he wore a tie to the Freshman Mixer. (Not sure if he also wore his beanie.) The others got theirs in various colorful ways. “Gouda” because his mom sent him cheese. “The Mole” because his last name is Molinari. I don’t want to know how “Sex” got his. (That’s Sex and his long-suffering wife posing in front of the guys’ dorm in the photo at the top of this post.)

That’s Chee-Hee with Dude Man sporting (and holding) reunion merch

In case you’re wondering, not many guys — and it was all guys at Dartmouth till about halfway through Dude Man’s tenure there, when girls were admitted and dubbed “Cohogs” by the welcoming male student body — not many guys lived in the Tri-Kap house. There wasn’t room. The Dude and his roomie Sex lived in a dorm called Gile Hall (the doorway of which is pictured at the top of this post). Trust me, even though the rooms at Gile were teensy, they were worlds better than the accommodations at Tri-Kap. One of the other wives (hi, Susan!) couldn’t even go inside the frat, it was so junked-up and smelled so bad.

A couple of Tri-Kap wives seated in the only place one could sit with impunity: outside

Me, brave soul that I am, not only when into the frat house, I went down into the basement. Where, after countless beer pong games, your feet stick to the floor and your nostrils are assailed with an aroma equal parts beer, pee, and cake. (There was plenty of beer and pee; I’m not sure why the smell had cakelike topnotes, but it did.)

The rest of the place wasn’t much better. There was another 50th reunion attendee who oversaw the renovation of the Tri-Kap house a few years ago who wandered around going “Oh noooooo!” and shaking his head from side to side in wonder at the destruction and disorder. If Kappa Kappa Kappa wasn’t the model for Animal House (It was Alpha Delta), well, it should have been.

Dude, sporting his reunion straw boater, with a few other intrepid guests inside the frat house. That’s the moaning man in the background

Speaking of “Goats,” Roger Federer (Greatest Of All Time, in my opinion as well as many others) was the commencement speaker. The whole Class of ’74, spouses included and topped with those Class Straw Boaters, was supposed to lead the graduation procession. Dude Man and I were game — and thrilled to see Fed speak — but we woke Sunday morning to rain. Not just a sprinkle, either. It was coming down in proverbial buckets.

Me, not in the rain in a graduation processional

So we scored some Starbucks, and watched the rain come down on Occom Pond, right outside the window of the gorgeous house that one of Dr. Dude’s patients loaned us for the weekend. 

Thank you, Dartmouth, for a terrific Reunion Weekend. Sorry I didn’t keep my straw boater.

New York City. June 2024

 

Bridge? It’s basically indoor golf.

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‘Why I am not a fan of either game.’

When I was a little girl, I liked hanging around while my parents played bridge. My mom belonged to a ladies’ bridge club that played during the day. (Much laughter and coffee-drinking.) And both parents belonged to a group that met at night. (Much laughter and smoking. Drinking, too, and not just of coffee.)

I don’t have any photos of me — or anyone else — playing bridge. But I do have this nice one of a Scrabble game at my Mom’s 90th birthday party

The couples took turns hosting, and my sibs and I loved it when it was our parent’s turn. Then we got to “bartend” and pass around bowls of Bridge Mix. (Do they still make Bridge Mix? That was good stuff.) As I recall, this was one of the few times — other than Halloween and Easter — that we kids got to eat candy. And, yes, I can’t say this enough, that Bridge Mix was good stuff. Sophisticated, you know? At least if you’re twelve.

Bridge is really serious, too. There is studying involved. From books like this one. Not exactly a page-turner

So I grew up associating bridge with Adult Fun. But when I finally got a chance to learn bridge, I got a rude awakening. Bridge was really serious. And took up large chunks of time. Two-hour lessons one morning a week, plus four-hour duplicate events one afternoon a week. The only bridge I liked was the Tuesday afternoons I played with three friends where we took turns hosting. Talking and laughing (along with wine-drinking) were allowed.

The Child plays outdoor golf. She was pretty good at it. Better than me, at any rate

So basically I discovered that bridge is like golf. This is not a compliment. Over the years I have tried to play golf. Not very hard, I must admit. I think I tried exactly twice. I remember both occasions vividly because I became extremely frustrated at not being able to hit a satisfying drive. To be honest, I couldn’t even hit a puny drive. I failed in every attempt to even connect with the ball. It just sat there on the tee while I whiffed and puffed and swore. I finally gave up and just rode up to the green in the cart and sort of tossed the ball up toward the flag and putted it into the hole. That was the only part I liked — the putting.

Dude Man is very good at golf. He is very good at every sport. Grrrrr

The rest of golf I hated. You should have seen my face when I realized I couldn’t just go home — but had to wait until the other members of my party were done playing. (This was Dude Man and our BF Jim; it’s amazing he’s still speaking to me and coming to Thanksgiving after this awful Golf Outing. To this day, I can get a reaction by saying, “Hey, Jim! Remember that time we played golf?)

Another fun indoor game: Sorry! You get to be sort of mean, even

My Dad loved golf. He even liked to watch it on TV. I remember him supine on the couch with a cat nestled somewhere, snoring away with a golf game on. When you tried to change the channel to something well, more exciting, he’d startle awake — “Hey! I was watching that!” The thing that was sort of funny about golf on TV was how the commentators would whisper. Because you’re supposed to be quiet when someone’s lining up a shot and whatnot. But, um, the commentators were somewhere else, in a booth, right? Even the clapping after a good shot was quiet. We kids had a name for it: “golf clapping.” Basically, the only thing loud about golf was the pants.

At least golf was on TV. I doubt very much that bridge is on TV. Televised bridge: now that’s a concept.Tune in to watch people seated around a table not talking and not doing much else either. Poker is on TV. There have even been poker scenes in movies. Remember the poker games in The Odd Couple with the green and brown sandwiches? That’s because poker is fun.

If I want to spend a chunk of time inside doing something boring, I can do this. At least I have a clean stove when I’m done

But bridge? Nah, it’s basically golf. No talking. No drinking or smoking. Takes huge chunks of time. Involves keeping track of numbers. So. I say bridge is golf. And the heck with it. At least with golf, you get to be outside.

Being outside is the best — especially when you’re outside in Brazil. Where I saw absolutely no one playing bridge. Or golf, for that matter

New York City. February, 2024

 

 

 

Hangin’ with Gouda, Jook and The Dude

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‘Those Dartmouth Boys do love their nicknames’

Many of you Faithful Readers think that I’m the one who dubbed The Dude “his Dudeness.” An honor I would love to claim, were it the truth.

But no. Wayne was The Dude way before I clapped eyes on him in the late lamented Shabu Shabu on our first date. (You can, of course, read about this sacred event in “The Time I Had A Blind Date with an Eye Doctor.”)

What The Dude looked like on our first date. Well, except he wasn’t wearing that white doctor coat at the time

He was christened “The Dude” because he showed up at the freshman mixer at Dartmouth College wearing a tie. This was in 1970, when Dartmouth Men were sporting fringed suede vests and/or leather hats instead of ties. (I have this on good faith from the suede-leather-vest guy, a perfectly lovely man nicknamed “Crud,” for some reason I’d really rather not know about. The Dude was the one with the leather hat.)

That’s Crud, seated left, with Dude and me. That’s Eleanor, Lady Shearing (“Ellie” to us) standing in back. Her husband was knighted by the Queen. Which is a great story: “She’d Better Put a Bell on It”

Like I say, those Dartmouth Boys do love their nicknames. It’s been ages since The Dude last sported a leather hat, but he and his bros still call each other by their college monikers.

Earlier this summer, one of Dude Man’s roommates, a man with the perfectly good name of Ken, contacted us to say he’d be in town — he and his lovely wife Ellen (no nickname that I know of) live in LA — and would we like to get together to have lunch?

“I’ll make a reservation, but it won’t be under “Jookbock,” was how he ended the conversation. See, Ken was quickly renamed “Bookjock” at Dartmouth because all he did was study. He studied all the time because he didn’t like Dartmouth (He really really wanted to go to Harvard) and wanted to get out of there as fast as he could. So he hit the books — “Bookjock” — and graduated early. Well, for some reason, “Bookjock” morphed into “Jookbock” (more fun to say, maybe? Dude Man can’t remember) and was eventually shortened to “Jook.” Which is pronounced like “book,” only with a “j.”

That’s “Oooo Come On,” or even more familiarly “Oooo” with The Dude and The Child as an actual child. He was called “Oooo Come On” because he was always urging himself on while playing squash. At D’mouth, of course

Also at this lunch was a guy named Gouda, whose mother named him Scott — a perfectly lovely name. I know because I have a brother named Scott. My Scott owes his Actual Name to a nickname — something I found out about at his Living Wake last week. (A thoroughly enjoyable event you can read about here.) Turns out Scott was named “Scott” in honor of our Dad’s nickname: “Scottie.” Dad got called this because when he was little his mother used him as kind of a dress dummy so she could pin up the hem of a skirt she was making for one of his sisters. Dad loved wearing the skirt and didn’t want to take it off. It was plaid — so, “Scottie.”

Two Younger Brothers at the Living Wake event last week. That’s Doug on the left and Scott-named-after-our-dad’s-nickname on the right

But back to the Dartmouth Scott. It was his mother who was responsible for the name “Gouda,” since she used to send him care packages of cheese. (At this point I have to wonder what kind of mother sends cheese care packages. My mom sent brownies, or sometimes Rice Krispy Treats.)

(Before I forget, I must point out, in the spirit of full disclosure, that the three Dartmouth guys in the photo at the top of this post are not, alas, Jook and Gouda. If they didn’t have nicknames, they certainly compensated with what appears to be a very nice marijuana crop.)

I’ll close by mentioning that The Dude and I did in fact have a most marvelous lunch with Gouda and Jook. Their wives too, though as far as I know, they don’t have nicknames. At least not nicknames they get called in public.

A gaggle of Dartmouth guys — all with nicknames

Amagansett, New York. August 2023

Boats? Dad had yachts of them

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‘And not all of them were in the water’

Okay, okay. I’ll apologize for the terrible “yachts” pun. Sorta. I did win a contest with it, though, back in the Olden Days.

See, New York Magazine used to run a contest in every issue that involved wordplay, something I enjoy very much indeed, as evidenced these days with my compulsive playing of both Spelling Bee (every morning with coffee) and Wordle (every cocktail hour with, well, a cocktail).

Mom shucking corn. Which has nothing to do with this story. Except that I always enjoy a cocktail as part of my perfect corn cooking method (here you go)

This particular contest was to come up with funny definitions for words beginning with “y.” My winner? Yachts: many many boats. (Which is also a title of one of my pieces you can check out after this one, if you’re not too tired of being amused.)

Enough about me and my love of word games. Let’s talk about my Dad and his love of boats. I’ve written about his famous houseboat, the Sir-Launch-A-Lot. (He, ahem, loved puns too.) Today I’m going to talk about his landlubbing boats — his cars.

I’ve used this photo before, but I can’t resist. It shows Dad (courtesy of Scott, the camera’s owner) operating a remote shutter to take an early selfie.

See, Dad didn’t like just any ole cars — he liked really big cars. Cars so big that they were like boats. He favored Chrysler New Yorkers and Lincoln Town Cars — cars so big and boatlike they were like piloting the Queen Mary. I swear you’d turn the wheel on one of those babies and it would take several seconds for the car to actually turn.

And how was the ride? If you were seated in one of these, you not only couldn’t hear any outside noise, you couldn’t feel anything on the outside either. No bumps, no potholes, no speed bumps — even those wakey-uppy grids they put before you come to a big intersection just felt like you rolled over some sandpaper.

Here’s a car we actually owned. (It was a Ford; I remember going to the showroom.) That’s me in the back having a tantrum and refusing to participate in the Peterson family photo

Speaking of Town Cars, once Dad and Mom were visiting me in New York and Dad noticed many big black cars tooling around.  “Look! New Yorkers love a nice big Town Car too!” Little did he realize that these Town Cars belonged to car services, not to Actual New Yorkers.

To be fair, Dad didn’t actually own his Town Cars. (Nor his Chrysler New Yorkers). He leased them as part of his business. Of course I never paid any attention to this — until I was a freshman in college and Dad told me he’d get me a car if I got straight A’s. I did, and he did. I got a cute little Chevy Vega. Bright blue. But, after a year I had to give it back. No, my grades didn’t plummet. I didn’t realize Dad had leased it. (My Oldest Younger Brother Scott was a wiser bargainer; when he got his straight A’s from Northwestern, he made Dad buy his Datsun. It was orange, I think. But it was his, I know.)

“My” Chevy Vega, getting accessorized with cans and such on the occasion of my first wedding. (Yes, I was married before the Days of the Dude. Read about it here.)

So, how big were Dad’s boats. Er, cars? They were so big that Dad hung a tennis ball (at least I think it was a tennis ball; it might have been a golf ball) from the ceiling of the garage, placed so that it bonked gently on the windshield when the boat (er, car) was pulled in enough to close the garage door without crunching any fenders.

Sadly, I have no photographic evidence of the inside of the ball-bedecked garage. But here’s what was outside: a nice comfy swing

They were also so big that once we lost a child in one. True story. A big ole batch of Henrys was visiting — maybe for Dad’s retirement party. At any rate, it was back when we sibs all had little kids in tow. We were rounding everyone up and someone had told my nephew Leo to go get in Grampa’s car, then neglected to see him sitting in the back seat. Everyone left (in other cars, no one wanting to drive the boat), and it was hours before anyone remembered about Leo. Yup. He was still in the back seat, waiting. Gosh. Maybe he’s still there. I know I haven’t seen him in a while.

This time it’s Doug having a tantrum. And who could blame him? Yikes. At least we weren’t in old-timey costumes

Amagansett, New York. August 2023

 

 

Missing Mr. M

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‘The end of the end of an era’

Let me start by saying how pleasantly surprised I was, upon googling my late dad’s engineering firm, HMG, to find that it not only still exists, but appears to be thriving — with four, count ’em four offices instead of just the one they started when I was a kid. The home office, however, appears to have relocated from Carlyle Lake Road to somewhere in Breese, which is kind of like the Dodgers absconding from Brooklyn to LA.

Youngest Younger Brother Doug playing cards on the Sir Launch-A-Lot with The Dude. Note HMG-monogrammed promotional beer cozies

“HMG” stands for Henry, Meisenheimer & Gende, the names of the three young gumption-filled engineers who founded this firm back in 1966. Of these, “M” was Last Man Standing. Until earlier this week.

Learning of Mr. Meisenheimer’s demise (I could never bring myself to call him “Hal” or even “Harold”) sent me careening down Memory Lane. Of course, to be fair, just catching a glimpse of, say, a handprint ashtray has the power to do so these days.

(Incidentally, I did start calling Mrs. Meisenheimer by her first name. It was the year I turned 65, and Mrs. M, er “Ruth” convinced me that it was about time.)

That’s Mrs. M (er, “Ruth”) sitting with my Mom and Sister at Mom’s 90th birthday party

See, not only did my dad (the “H” in HMG) work with Mr. M, I babysat for their kids. Which amps the grownups-deserve-your-respect level up another notch, or maybe even two. I babysat for a lot of people back then; I racked up a lot of experience doing this, and not just experience watching kids. See “Alice’s Adventures in Babysitting.

Babysitting at the Meisenheimers’ was my favorite gig. I can’t remember these kids fighting, much less peeing on each other. And they always gave me a goodnight hug. (Sometimes even a kiss.) Also, the Meisenheimers had this beautiful house that felt so warm and comfortable to sit around in after the kids had gone to bed. It was only years later that I realized this was because the Meisenheimers had lovingly restored it and furnished it with antiques — kind of rare for that split-level rumpus-room era. They even had shelves and shelves of books — books that they let me read. I’m pretty sure it was there that I discovered Sherlock Holmes.

Me with fellow graduation marshal Stanley. We were high-school juniors at the time. I was a babysitter; as far as I know, Stanley was not

But back to Mr. H. The photo at the top of this post was taken about the time the firm was founded, and shows him pretty much the way I remember him. I say “pretty much” because it is missing one very important detail: his pipe. I can honestly say that I never saw Mr. M without one clenched firmly between his teeth. He didn’t even remove it to speak. He would just kind of position it in the corner of his mouth and talk around it. Since my dad did the same thing, only with a cigarette, it made for some muffled exchanges. In fact, we Henry Kids called the way they talked to each other “Engineering Speak,” and used to imitate it ourselves. “Hey Harold,” our dad would go, “can you (mumble mumble) me the (mumble mumble) plans?” “Sure!” goes Harold, “Let me just finish the (mumble mumble) first.” This method of conversing was made even more hilarious once HMG built their new office and they communicated over an intercom.

Dad and The Child regaling the crowd at his HMG retirement party

Anyway. The photo of Mr. M in his obituary doesn’t have his pipe. But he looks remarkably like he does in the photo on the HMG website — and in my memory.

RIP, Mr. Meisenheimer. If the angels can’t understand your mumbling, my dad certainly can. Assuming he’s up there with you.

Amagansett, New York. July 2023

 

 

 

Grad School

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‘What I learned by going to reunions’

Last weekend The Child wasn’t here to help celebrate The Dude’s birthday. Which wasn’t too big a deal, because A) it wasn’t a Big Birthday (just one of those annoying all-too-frequently occurring regular ones) and B) she’s here now, so we’re celebrating the birthday this weekend instead.

Celebrating not one but two birthdays last weekend. With not one but two cakes!

So, where was Her Childness last weekend? Celebrating her ten-year college reunion, that’s where. And if you think all-too-frequent birthdays give one pause, chew on that.

The Child and I at her college graduation ten years ago. Neither one of us looks one iota different. Well, not to me, anyway

I know, I know. You’ve heard me whine enough already about how quickly time passes. But seriously? Little Sammie Jane has been out of college for ten years?

Dude Man takes the measure of The Child. Then puts a brick on her head

Oddly enough, she did not invite me to go to her reunion with her. Though there is precedent for Mom-As-Reunion Date. My mother attended my ten-year high-school reunion with me. And, yes, she was a splendid date indeed.

Gosh, I don’t know why The Child didn’t invite me to her reunion. I got to go to this graduation party, didn’t I?

I also went to my 20-year and 40-year high-school reunions, though sans Mom. And I went to Dude Man’s 15-year and his 50th reunion, too. It was supposed to be in 2020, Dude having graduated in 1970. But, thanks to Mr. Virus, 2020 was not a year for reunions–or any gatherings, for that matter. And whomever was in charge of rescheduling sort of dropped the ball.

A couple of weeks ago Dude Man and I were happily ensconced in Amagansett with a major rainstorm of the deluge variety raging outside, when he plays a message left on his phone. Something about a 50th Reunion Bash being held that very night. “Did I want to go?” I motioned out the window. “Are you kidding?”

Well, one look at his little classmate-craving face and I caved. Soon we were hydroplaning our way on the Long Island Expressway back to Manhasset. Where 25 or so of his almost-200-strong Class of ’70 were gathered, damp but happy, clutching cocktails and peering intently at each other’s nametags.

The nametags, helpfully, were emblazoned with each attendee’s high-school yearbook photo. Although, sadly, this was not the one on The Dude’s. (hubba hubba)

So here’s where I go out on a limb and share what I’ve learned after going to so many high-school reunions. At the ten-year reunion, the men look better than the women. That’s because the women have tenaciously clung to the look they had in high school. Same hair style, same makeup techniques. But ten years have passed; maybe that flip needs to flop. They’ve also gained a few pounds. The men are still rocking high-school style too, but somehow it doesn’t matter, men’s styles not being quite so, well, changeable.

That’s Stanley rocking men’s style circa 1968. Still works, doesn’t it?

At the 20-year reunion, it’s the opposite. The women have figured it out. They’ve ditched the bouffants and (mostly) the pounds and look pretty darned terrific. Bonus discovery: the wallflowers have blossomed. So much so that (at my own 20-year bash) I heard more than one man exclaim to a formerly-invisible girl, “Sally (not her real name, of course) is that you?!?”

Meanwhile, the men have lost their hair and gained some paunch. Oh well. It pretty much all evens out at the (gasp) 50.

Oh. Before I forget — and before you ask. What about my college reunions? Didn’t I go to any of them? Well, actually, no. And not because I didn’t want to. No, as far as I know, good ole University of Missouri isn’t big on reunions. At least I’ve never heard tell of one. Gosh, maybe the rest of my class has been having incredible bashes every ten years since 1973 — and I just haven’t been asked.

Me, in college. Wouldn’t you want to get together with such a fun-looking girl at a reunion? One would think so.

I’ve been to Dude Man’s college reunions, though. The ten and the twenty. Here’s what I learned. The men at the ten (this was an all-guy’s school) were handsome and successful and showed off their wives and cars. At the twenty, they were (mostly) still handsome, and they were in the same cars — but they had new wives. I can hardly wait to see what they’re all up to at the 50th next year.

Dude and a bunch of Dartmouth Dudes at a reunion. Not sure which one, since The Dude, darn him, never ever changes

Oh, if, unlike me (I’m talking to you, Kim!) you’ve been to a Mizzou reunion, please keep it to yourself. Meanwhile, I’ll just keep going to any ole random reunion that’ll have me. Oh, and birthday parties.

Amagansett, New York. June 2023

 

 

The Grammy Awards

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‘And the winner is…’

Last weekend I had the pleasure of greeting a new grandchild. No, this was not my new grandchild (fingers — and toes — are firmly crossed hoping for that Blessed Event) but a very fine grandchild indeed. I mean, just look at this baby.

Even if you are not usually fond of babies, you must admit this one is a dandy

No, the latest winners of the Grandparent Lottery happen to be Dude Man’s cousin and his wife. They had us over last weekend to meet little Elouise. There was eating and drinking and laughing plus funny-face-making, high-pitched cooing and, of course, much cuddling. I swear that baby got passed around more than the wine bottle(s).

The latest winners of the Grandparent Lottery

I say “latest winners” because little Zachs and Esmes and Orens and Sophias and Madeleines and Francescos seem to be popping out everywhere like flowers after the rain. And, since I knit baby sweaters for the progeny of people I am related to and/or like a lot, my fingers have been getting a workout. (Which, of course, makes it harder to keep them wishfully crossed.)

Oh, and Elouise got this little number. It has pockets. You know, for her pacifier. Or car keys

But enough about teensy knitwear. All these new grandchildren got me thinking about my own grandmothers. How wonderful they were, but how different.

A rare occasion when both Grammas were in the same room at the same time: Gramma H on the left (with undyed hair!), Just Plain Gramma to the right, also undyed (as usual)

One was wiry and skinny, wore slacks, worked in a factory and — most fascinating to us kids — dyed her hair. Why was this fascinating? Well, we kids didn’t know from hair dye. We just knew that Gramma Henry’s hair was a different color every time we saw her: sometimes brown, sometimes reddish, sometimes almost black. (We kids also didn’t know about false teeth. There was a scary lady in my home town who used to push her partial plate out at us to keep us out of her yard.)

Gramma Henry (with Laura and Mom) aboard the Sir Launch-A-Lot. Gosh, she has undyed hair — and is wearing a dress

My other gramma — my mom’s mom — was kinda plump, always wore a housedress, worked on a farm and most certainly didn’t dye her hair. She even wore an apron. Pretty much all the time.

Classic Gramma (Peterson) at right. Housedress: check, apron: check

Incidentally, my mom’s mother was known as “Gramma,” while my dad’s mom was called “Gramma Henry.” True, we saw my Peterson gramma more often than the Henry one, and my mom and I even lived with her while my dad was off serving in Korea. But, still, I bet that stung.

Our Korean Conflict family unit: Gramma and Grampa in the middle, Aunt Marilyn on the left, Mom on the right. Oh, and me on the lap. Read about what happened when my Dad returned in “Kissing Daddy Good-night”

(Back then, no grandmothers — at least no grandmothers that I knew — were called anything but “Gramma.” Well, maybe “Grandmother,” but that was only in books. I certainly hadn’t heard any parent of a parent referred to as “Nana” or “Gigi” or “MomMom” or even “G-Ma.” Yes, I wrote a piece about this.

Gramma beating Aunt Shirley, Mom and me at Scrabble

Yes, they were different. One played poker and one played Scrabble. One drank plum wine, and the other something she called “silver tea,” which was a cup of hot water.

But both of them deserve a Grammy Award for being so wonderful. Thanks for jogging some fine memories, Miss Elouise.

It’s exhausting being a baby. And a parent (!)

New York City. May 2023

Sifting through a big ole flour sack full of feelings

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‘Emotionally ambushed by a humble household gadget’

So I’m unloading the dishwasher and putting the clean dishes away when the cutting board hits a jumble of Tupperware lids in the back of a cabinet and refuses to slide all the way in.

(Incidentally, I read somewhere about somebody who has two dishwashers in their kitchen — one for clean and one for dirty — so they never have to put the dishes away. Also regarding dishwashers — and this is something that really happened, not something I read about — one time my sister-in-law, in a fit of misguided helpfulness, unloaded the dirty dishes and put them all away, a fact I only discovered when I grabbed a “clean” plate to find it gravy-glued to the one beneath. It was weeks before I found all the sticky ice cream bowls, egg-crusted forks and coffee-besmirched mugs hidden in my cabinets like Easter eggs.)

An Easter egg decorated by Her Childness lo these many years ago

Anyway. This being a below-counter cabinet, I got down on my hands and knees to untangle the Tupperware jumble and happened to spot the flour sifter jammed way in the back.

Well. It wasn’t Memory Lane that flour sifter triggered — it was a whole Four-Lane Memory Highway. A virtual Long Island Expressway of memories.

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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Wombat

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‘Camouflage for kitties. Er, cities.’

“I’d pass the stuffing, but I can’t see you,” I wise-cracked to a Young Relation at the Thanksgiving table this year.

He was wearing a teeshirt in a camouflage pattern, you see. (Or don’t see; hahaha.)

I get my sense of humor — and of the absurd — from my mother, who once famously remarked that she would have bought that set of camo sheets on sale at Target but she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to find her bed.

Look closely; that ornament in front is actually Yours Truly

But back to the Relation in the camo shirt. His was the pattern that one wears while hunting. You know what that looks like; it’s that woodland/jungle pattern that’s not only on teeshirts, but on cargo shorts and leggings, raincoats and totes. Pretty much everything has been “camo’d,” including those sheets on sale at Target. In fact, I’m sticking my neck out and saying that camo print is the young version of animal print. Instead of leopard or zebra, the under-MediCare Fashionista slink around sporting U.S. Woodland or Desert. (See my “At Least it’s not a Dead-Squirrel Stole” for a riff on the Elegantly Mature and their penchant for animal prints.)

In my humble opinion, the only person who ever looked good in this hat is The Child. When she was five.

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Chilling Effect

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‘The Icebox Cometh. The Refrigerator Taketh.’

Harrison Ford is 80.

Yes, that Heartthrob of the Seventies, he of Han Solo and Indiana Jones fame, is old. Older than me, even.

“Ain’t he neat?” Harrison when he was not old. In my favorite role — that uncredited drag-racing devil in American Graffiti

Even if they hadn’t given his age in this interview I read in the NY Times, he would have given the game away, age-wise, by referring to a certain kitchen appliance as an “icebox.”

Incidentally, Harrison gave the interview to promote a new role of his — playing somebody’s great-great-great uncle — which is also a rather elderly thing to do. But, hey. More power to you, former carpenter-who-made-it-big!

I’m just glad you’re older than me, Harrison. So few people are these days. Well, my mother is, but I get mistaken for her sister. A lot.

“My sister” “My daughter” “My sister” “My daughter” (movie reference!)

But back to “iceboxes.”

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