Friday, December 26, 2008

Its the day after Christmas, but the holiday isn't done. Carol and Pat are coming today for a girls coffee klatch. Later, Chris and Marge are coming . Chris has 2 presents waiting for him...and I have one gift coming with Chris. On Tuesday, Judy and Doris and I are going out for tea. Both of these dear friends have been to Paris. I am going, too. They promise to share insiders guide to the city. The reason I am going is a sad reason.

Dee called me from Florida. She has been diagnosed with lung cancer. She is a smoker. How any one can think of smoking, is beyond my understanding. Teenagers think it makes them look grown up. Instead, it makes them look stupid. After a time, smoking will make them look dead. What a deal. One pays money and agree to become addicted to nicotine. In return, you increase your probability of dying from cancer. Why would anyone with even a grain of common sense agree to such a bargain? Paying a large corporation to make them sick?

Dee was one of those people. She has smoked for decades. It finally got to her lungs....after years of lung problems...pneumonia every winter, for example. (Stephen, are you listening?)

We were three and four years old when We met. Her parents bought the house just two doors down from my parents. We started to play right away. The moving van was still unloading furniture. I wish I could say that We stayed connected all these years, but the truth is that We lost track of each other. The dividing line between two school districts was right between our houses. I walked one way to school and Dee walked down the block in the other direction.

Dee admired my Mom's business sense. Perhaps my mother was a model for Dee. They both went into the same business field: real estate. My mom bought and sold houses. Dee bought houses and kept them, rented them out. In time, my childhood friend became a millionaire. When Mom was in assisted living, Dee contacted her. They had been writing to each other all this time. In this way, I got Dee's address from my mother. Dee and I picked up where We left off.

One of the things We wanted to do, was to travel together. shouldn't two retirees be able to drop everything and take a trip? We discussed it. Dee wanted to go back to Paris. She has been there two times before. She loves that city. We would see it together, but not at this time. We were both too busy. I flew down to Fort Lauderdale and spent a wonderful vacation with my friend...catching up on marriages, children, grandchildren...hopes and disappointments.

Then, she got the news from her doctor. After three months of chemotherapy, probably wearing a wig to hide her bald head, my old friend and I are going to see Paris together.
The following is stolen from Glamour magazine: Here are 10 reasons for not being perfect. I was glad to find this list, as my life, my house and environs, my mind, my finances...are far from perfect. I suspect I am not alone.
1 Have you seen the Venus De Milo? Awe inspiring and yet, she is missing two arms.
2 Perfection? Well, it's exhausting.
3 Your being a size 4 won't make him better in bed.
4 When you finally find a guy who's thoughtful enough to pick up his socks, he'll make you pick up yours, too.
5 Avoiding chipped fingernails means no gardening, no pictachio eating, playing the piano. Not worth it!
6 Every happy family has a pathological liar arsonist cousin who owes them $2,000...or some such.
7 Nobody interesting has neat handwriting
8 Mutts are just the cutest dogs.
9 If you act like a perfect professional all the time, no one will talk to you at the office holiday party.
10 Breast implants need replacing every 10 years or so...just for your information.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Dear Louise: I swear this is true: I was reading the Christian Science Monitor and ran across the book articles. First thing in my mind was "I should send this to Louise".

Then I got the mail, and saw your clippings about department store display. This brings back a lot of memories. In comparison to today's store display, We've gone down hill. I know that there are fabulous scenes are in the stores in New York, but in Connecticut...hmmm...have to go to the malls and then I see marketing, not art.

I remember getting on the bus with my mother. There was a connection from the trolley that ran to a wire overhead. Electricity was supplied by that overhead connection. In the winter, with everything wet, the wire would crackle. The trolley ran on rails embedded in the road. Inside the trolley, there was straw on the floor. I think the purpose of the straw was to absorb the water from our boots and also to insulate the floor. I remember having very cold feet, sitting on the trolley. I remember that the trolley was very crowded.

At last We were downtown. There were department stores everywhere. The crowd was exciting. The activity was exciting. Christmas music played through loud speakers. Some stores squirted perfume into the air. One of the best experiences, was seeing the windows decorated for Christmas. There were automaton dolls dressed as Santa's helpers. A train ran around the scene. Everything moved! It was wonderful. I got to sit on Santa's lap and tell him what I wanted for Christmas. I distinctly remembered that I didn't know what I wanted, so I made up something.

There was a florist shop that put the same display on every year. It was a Santa flying out the window. (half was inside and half was outside attached to the glass). Men sold Christmas trees in the vacant lots, remember? The fragrance of pine and balsam filled my nose. What a wonderful memory.

It was cold in Buffalo in December. We were dressed for the weather in wool snow pants, coat and matching hat, scarf and mittens. The mittens had a string that ran from one mitten to the other, so when you took off your mittens, they dangled and did not get lost. We wore Wellington boots over our shoes. Shoe boots hadn't been invented yet. If you didn't wear your snow pants, you got a red welt on the back of your calves where the top of your boot rubbed on your leg. Remember what the coat room in school smelled like when all the kids took off their snow clothes? The smell of wet wool....very distinctive.

Well, I am off the topic of window display. My college offered an art course in window display. I think they called it by a different name, but that was what it was. One display that stands out in my mind, was made entirely of white card stock. The artist cut and bent it so it stood on its own. It was a fashion scene of ladies in dresses...all made out of card stock. I remember the faces. How did they cut the stock so that the noses stood out? What a wonder.

Every window was decorated all year round. Remember the corner store down the block? They subscribed to a window decorating service. They changed their window display about four times a year. The display was made from colored corrugated cardboard. It was set up as fans, cylinders, back drop, etc.....all made of cardboard. The store manager displayed groceries in the window with the a display of mustard or laundry soap. Just about the time the cardboard is fading from the sun, a new display is put up. Perhaps the color scheme was changed with the and green in the winter, fall colors in the fall. That is my guess. If you look around, you can see the reminents of this type of display still up in some windows. Now a days, posters selling merchandise is in the window, but it isn't the same thing as a designed store display.

Another display was in the windows of the houses . Dad would drive us around to look at the Christmas lights. People put their Christmas tree directly in the front window so the lights would shine outside. Some people would put an electric candle in every window. We would drive around, looking at the lights of our neighbors. In my dreams, I can still see the lights against the background of night.

I hope you get to Lancaster to see the restored displays. Thank you so much for sending the article to me.

Enclosed is the book article I thought you might like, and another article on the Great Lakes.

The Christian Science Monitor next year will go to an all electronic paper. This means that I can't cut out an article to send to you unless I print it out first. Note that sometimes the articles are short videos. Those, I can't send through the mail. I will miss not having my paper copy. I like to read it in the morning with a cup of coffee at the local diner. Some times, I leave the paper for others to read. Won't be doing that in the new year. I understand that newspapers are in trouble and there may come a day when there won't be any news stands. I hope I am gone by then.

OK, Buffalo Gal, it is time to close.
Sending you love and laughter and lots of good stuff your way. Gardenbug.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

This is my turn to address cancer. The surgeon has removed the skin from the top of my nose. He brought a flap of skin from under my eye to cover the wound. Very small stitches mean it will be hard to tell I had surgery for sun damage. After a week of healing, it is time to go back to get the stitches removed.
Spence comes with me. Spence hasn't been to this medical building in a while. We pull into the first entrance to the parking garage. It is on the back side from where I usually park, but it is the same garage. This shouldn't make a difference.
Inside, We look for the bridge on the second floor that will take us to where I have to go. It isn't there. Where did it go? No matter. There is the elevator. We take the elevator to the fifth floor and get out. My doctor's office isn't there. Where did it go?
This calls for a strategy. Another person in the elevator tells us We are on the wrong elevator. We have to go to street level and take the other elevator.
Down to street level. Out on the first floor and walking, walking, walking....there is the correct elevator. We take the elevator to the fifth floor and there is my doctor's office. My stitches are taken out. No infection seen. I receive my follow up appointment...the last one I will need.
Spence and I and several other patients take the elevator down to the second floor. There is the bridge to the parking lot. We cross the bridge . My truck isn't on the second floor where it should be. We walk up a flight. We walk down a flight. Spence matches the view to the one He saw when We parked the truck. The view out matches, but no truck. This is very strange. How could We get lost in a parking garage? Where did my truck go?
No solution but to walk to ground floor. We check the street signs. We are on the correct street.
However, We are diagonally across the street from the medical building. I don't understand how We got there, as I don't think elevators go sideways, but here We are. We cross the street, enter the other parking lot, walk up to the second floor and there is my truck...with Lily in it, barking for us.
The explanation is how the building got enlarged. My guess is that Yale Medical developed one building for medical offices. Then, they bought the building next door and added more offices. Each building had elevators. Think of a "U". First We were in one side. To get to the other side, We had to go to ground level and go up again in the other side of the U. The parking garages are a variation of the same theme. One garage is attached to one side of the U. The other garage is accessible from the second story bridge that takes me across the street . If I park in that garage, I must remember to use the bridge, or I may never be found. This complex is a great place to play a rat in the maze game. Find the cheese in the parking garage.