We were touring a castle in England years ago, and came to the banqueting hall. “This hall has been remodeled many times,” the sign in the room said, “the last time in 1654.” It was a reminder of how old buildings in the Old World really are, and a cause for doubt: can it be that this room looked just the same as it did more than 300 years ago? I thought of that sign many times as I was reading “The Secret Lives of Buildings: From the Ruins of the Parthenon to the Vegas Strip in Thirteen Stories” (Metropolitan Books) by Edward Hollis.
This is the time of year to dream of wishes fulfilled. We are making our lists for Santa, or for whomever is our personal giver of gifts. Most requests, I suppose, are reasonable. Some may ask for a gift that sparkles, or one that hums, or perhaps even one with four legs and a tail that wags. Green is always good, whether it means environmentally beneficial, or the sort of green that folds neatly into a pocket.
(Occasionally, a reader will ask me when we will have something else by my grandson, who is in the Peace Corps in Peru. He obliged by sending the following. Nothing in the content represents the Peace Corps or the United States government. It is simply the observation of an individual.)
“Hey, you got a dollar for a hamburger?” It was about lunchtime, and I was exiting my car in front of the courthouse. I smiled and said, “Yeah,” and reached back into my car at the coin keeper and gathered a handful of change. I had a hunch and intended to follow it. Now that I had his undivided attention I asked, “I think you know my husband.” He looked puzzled. “Bardwell,” I called out.
My little basket of cemetery tools seemed woefully inadequate as I faced a stalk as tall as me growing right out of the middle of the gravesite. I had just driven two hours to clean and decorate the grave, but for this job I would possibly need power tools.
This year marks the 250th anniversary of Handel’s death.
I have the perfect antidote for the sort of stress that makes folks wish for a prescription of tranquilizers.
With glittering baubles, bows — and even a doggie bone or two — a four-day silent auction Dec. 1-4 at the Rosenzweig Arts Center should make it a snap to deck the halls this Christmas season. Twenty decorated wreaths will go to the highest bidder, and lend support to two good causes at the same time.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas ... and, perhaps a bit too soon. Chris and I, along with our array of “usual suspects,” fought the too, too early onset of shopping, and business-type, must-attends this week. We took in two very cool concerts, both with thematic locales quite far from the North Pole.
I want to tell you about my aunt, the one that always said, “Geet?” meaning, “Did you eat?” I’m only going to say that she lived in a Southern town that had an annual pilgrimage, and she lived in one of those old houses downtown and the house was said to have a ghost. My mother always said, “That Aunt Sarah is a bird,” which meant that she was eccentric or a “character.”
Before our president, the Joint Chiefs and the National Security Council make their final decision about Afghanistan, getting us deeper into our hunt for Osama Bin Laden or obliterating the Taliban, they would be well-served to buy me a plane ticket to come brief them on Elvis.
Early on I attempted to rid myself of all things Southern except, of course, my charm. I believed the accent and expressions made me sound ignorant, and I wanted to be cosmopolitan, sophisticated and smart. Then over dinner once in the North Country suddenly, “Well, that ’bout knocked me slap dead” came flying out of my mouth.
It occurs to me that, as Thanksgiving approaches this year — the second Thanksgiving of the economic plunge — some people may have a difficult time being thankful. Just recently the jobless rate reached double digits, and that does not include the underemployed. That’s still not as bad as the rate during the Great Depression, when about a fourth of the workforce were out of work. Ten percent is not as bad as 24 or 25 percent, but for the person who is unemployed, it is 100 percent.
Most of us are thinking about gratitude this week. And why not? Everywhere we look there are reminders of our wealth of blessings.
If you are lucky enough, your mother or grandmother had a recipe box that now lives in your own kitchen. I don’t know many cooks who actively keep one nowadays. I think the advent of instant recipes via the Internet, along with enough published cookbooks to warrant their own section in bookstores, have lessened the importance of saving passed-down recipes. And, many of these passed-down recipes have lost their relevance to today’s cook, with amounts given in pinches, or ingredients that include such items as oleo or prunes (lots of prunes in those old recipes).
Our world is so very full of need. It is overwhelming, trying to understand the vastness of poverty and suffering. Humans everywhere (and voiceless animals) are hurting. Sometimes scarcities are created by war, or natural disaster, or the unwise actions of a government. Misery may be the direct result of choices made by those most in distress. However, the causes hardly matter when the results are tragic and immense.
My mother was definitely a Southern mother, and I appreciate her more and more the older I get. I feel that I must apologize to the following generation, especially the young women, for spending more time and money trying to preserve my own youth and less acquiring the wisdom necessary to pass on to their generation. “ ... older women ... train the younger women ... ”
You may spout any praise of America, but you cannot conceal the fact: America has no hedgehogs. Not native ones, anyway. Oh, we have hedgehog hobbyists who enjoy having imported hedgehogs as pets, and even have them compete in the International Hedgehog Olympic Games (the Olympic Committee who runs the human version wants you to be sure they do not themselves sponsor or endorse the hedgehog version).
Charles Darwin’s name is so firmly linked with evolution that it is often forgotten that he was interested in specifics of biology. For instance, while he was fretting for 17 years over whether to publish about evolution, he was busy investigating barnacles. He was to publish an authoritative work on them. He also wrote about the geology he had seen on his travels in the “Beagle,” and did experiments on whether eggs or seeds could travel the oceans to get to new lands. He was constantly busy on other projects, constantly enquiring and doing his own research simply because he had an exemplary curiosity.
When I moved to Columbus from Washington, D.C., I was in Miss Emily Potts’s fifth-grade class at Franklin Academy. In Washington people had teased me about my “southern drawl.” In Mississippi they called me a “d---- yankee.” My defense was to try to talk like whoever was talking to me. (I have even caught myself lisping back at someone who lisped!)
2. 'OzLand' to premiere locally Thursday ENTERTAINMENT