Columnists

Sun
02
Jan

Slice of life

I’m thankful for the wood burner tonight. I’m up late, which is rare for me. But I need to sit by the fire tonight. The rocking chair is upside down, used earlier in the day as an entrance to a blanket fort. I turn the chair upright and drag it near the fire. I grab the poker and disrupt the log on top to encourage flame. And I rock. <BR><BR>The tragedy occurring on the other side of the world is beyond comprehension. Daily the death toll climbs. I try to calculate all the people I ever came in contact with over the course of my life - friends, relatives, acquaintances, the lady behind the counter at the custard shop, the substitute teachers I had in fourth grade, the man who cashed my first paycheck, and such. I estimate that number to be a few thousand. Then I realize that fifteen - more likely twenty - times that number lost their lives in the span of a day. My mind reels. I add two more logs to the fire.

Sun
26
Dec

Words from a burning heart

I wonder if I’ve told some of you this story before, but indulge me if I have. I was talking about the wonderful snow we’ve had with some of my friends and I remembered how when I was a kid my Grandma took us across the road to the woods to sled. There was a large hill and a clearing in front of these woods and we had just gotten a large, deep and wet snowfall.<BR><BR>We tried in vain to get our sleds moving down the big hill (a thrill we’d been anticipating for a long time) and could only manage to move a couple of yards. We were all bundled up against the cold in snow pants and layers of coats and our mittens and boots were beginning to let snow in past their tops. It had been a long climb up the hill and disappointment, like the cold, was beginning to set in.<BR><BR>Without a word my Grandma (in her late 60s) lay down and began to roll down the hill. Over and over she rolled, plowing a firm base about five feet five inches wide all the way down.

Mon
20
Dec

Baby Boomer echoes

“ A Bustling Corner,” Part 2<BR><BR>Everyone living in Ely, or remembering the years you were around this neck of the woods, will certainly recall the northwest wind whipping across 3rd Avenue East and Sheridan Street. It’s got to be one of the coldest and nastiest places to inhabit during the throes of winter weather. <BR><BR>Ask anyone shopping or working at the old Zup’s store. Remember the iced-up front windows and doors? Even the automatic door openers gave out.<BR><BR>Constant swinging doors gave way to a gusty, icy cold, way below zero breezes, lowering the temp within and cashiers donning the old blue uniform dress knew how cold, cold really was. <BR><BR>The old time Zup’s cashiers wore the faithful uniform topped with a cardigan sweater, encased their bodies in snuggies (short length women’s long johns), nylons, socks and boots.

Mon
13
Dec

Slice of life

My to-do list has changed over the past few days. Now, at the top are the words “Plan for Emergencies.” <BR><BR>My car broke down recently. I was over 40 miles from home, it was 9 degrees outside and I was ill prepared for being stranded. I was dressed in thin polyester/nylon pants and wearing nylon stockings and black dress shoes that exposed the tops of my feet. Fortunately, I did have on a warm coat, hat and gloves.<BR><BR>It took over three hours from break-down to rescue. I had a lot of time to think about how I could be better prepared for vehicle emergencies in the future and also to contemplate how serious (and uncomfortable - my toes are still cold!) a vehicle break-down in the winter can be.

Mon
06
Dec

Slice of life - The morning person

To quote (out of context) writer Virginia Woolf, a woman must have a room of her own. Like many people, I’ve never had that luxury. I shared a room with siblings while I was growing up and with roommates - and later a husband - in early adulthood. Although I’ve never had a place or space of my own, I’ve always had a time of my own. My time is early morning.<BR><BR>The advantage of being an early morning riser is that many people are not. Most early morning risers would like to keep it that way. Early morning is time for one’s own self, time to reflect on the day’s potential, time to take pleasure in quiet and solitude. <BR><BR>As best I can tell, the ability to rise in the early morning is genetic. Either you’re born to wake up before the sun or you’re not. Many mothers can attest to this. “He’s always gotten up early,” some will say.

Wed
01
Dec

Baby Boomer echoes

Most Boomer kids were around before the automatic washer and dryer. <BR><BR>We remember Ma washing clothes in a wringer washer, using scrub boards, wash tubs and clotheslines inside or out. At least we recall that much. But if we asked Grandma what laundry day was like before that wringer machine, we likely heard stories that would tire you out just listening to all the hard work.<BR><BR>I catch myself in these modern times dreading the chore of sorting, loading, and transferring to the dryer or the baskets of wet clothes to hang on the clothesline. It seems an endless task, but just think what Ma or Grandma from the Old Country endured. <BR><BR>Let’s go back to the days laundry wasn’t something you did on the spur of the moment, at any time of day or night. Times when one item wasn’t thrown in because “I need it now,” right at this moment and kids didn’t understand the process.

Fri
26
Nov

From the miscellaneous drawer

Although going to a variety of classes always interested me, I was a lousy student. A mid-range student, seeing as many Ds as As or Bs. <BR><BR>Grades didn’t seem important. What there was to care about was whether I would grow to understand the subject. So the more esoteric the subject, the more likely I was to take it. Two un-memorable ones were “Italian painters of the High Renaissance” and one called “Russian Geography.” <BR><BR>The test for the Renaissance painters included being able to identify a hand from a painting with artist, title and date. I failed.<BR><BR>What I did get out of the course was a good appreciation of the skills of the painters and the technique which some offered of placing a view of their city behind a person in a portrait.

Mon
22
Nov

Slice of life - On Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day is scarier than Halloween. <BR><BR>To be sure, it’s a bit frightening to figure out how to manage to get seven or eight different dishes on the table at the same time without the mashed potatoes getting cold or the green beans getting rubbery. <BR><BR>And for those of us who host friends or relatives in our homes - especially when they stay for a few nights - the Thanksgiving holiday can be a cause for alarm. <BR><BR>Then there’s the fear of overindulgence - that one might eat too much, drink too much, say too much - or perhaps that fear belongs only to me. <BR><BR>But the most unsettling thing about Thanksgiving is the giving thanks part. As with most issues, this one can be traced back to childhood.

Mon
15
Nov

From The Desk of the Old Timer

Since the national election, there has been considerable discussion in the press and on TV concerning something called “reaching across the aisle,” the idea being that the Republicans, Democrats and any odd Independents, should put their partisanship aside and extend the hand of friendship in a spirit of cooperation.<BR><BR>Frankly, there are no hands to grip. Any Senator or Representative who attends a session of Congress will find no one for whom to reach.<BR><BR>This is the way both houses attend sessions. Or, rather, do not attend sessions. One of the most disappointing events witnessed by visitors to either of these august bodies of democracy is that when the Congress is “in session,” it really isn’t. No one is there. Well, not exactly. The presiding officers are there - Speaker of the House and President of the Senate.

Sun
07
Nov

Slice of life

I’ve been flying solo quite a bit lately. My husband’s job requires him to do some traveling in the fall. Since mid-September he’s been home a week, gone a week, home a week, gone a week. The weeks that he’s gone are, in a word, exhausting. <BR><BR>When my partner is gone and I’m left to juggle things on my own, I have a hard time keeping up. I rush through homework with the kids; dinner is fast food or a bagel and a bowl of cereal; the little kids get hands and faces washed before bed - a bath takes too much time - and the laundry sits wet in the washer, wrinkled in the dryer, and piling up in the hamper. Life is MORE hectic, MORE hurried. <BR><BR>I’m anxious; the kids are anxious. When I drop them off for practice, they speak from experience when they say, “Now don’t forget to pick me up!” <BR><BR>But for me, there’s an end to all of this in sight. Soon this stretch of travel will be over.

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