Beige Skates


In the process of clearing out the home my parents lived in for forty years, I found my father’s black ice skates with the pointed blades, up in the basement rafters.  They were not in bad shape considering how old they were.

While I was sitting on a chair in my basement a few days ago, I looked straight across the room and saw my own ice skates.  Looking at the beige skates with the rounded and notched front blades, the history of those skates slowly seeped across my mind.

The year I was nineteen years old I was dating a young man who enjoyed ice skating and wanted to teach me how to do it.  Roller skating was something I had enjoyed since childhood but I never learned to ice skate.  I bought the beige shoe skates at the department store where I had been working since I graduated from high school.

Kenny picked me up and when we got to Forest Hills pond he helped me into the skates and laced them up for me and off we went.  It didn’t take too long before I got the hang of it and about half way through our session, we took a hot chocolate break.

I believe the last time I used the skates was when I took my two year old daughter to an ice rink to see if it was something she’d enjoy.  She had a good fall and that was the end of that.  In her teen years she and her brother both did the in-line skating with the neighborhood kids until they both gave that up for skate boards.

Although I never skated again, I still enjoyed watching the professionals do it well.  One year my cousin Theresa had some tickets to an ice show downtown and treated me to one of the performances.

With the ice skating competitions in process before the 2018 Olympic Games even began, I found that I did not recognize the names of the current generation of skaters and a handful of the ones I used to watch are now the commentators on the younger players as they take the stage.

Sighing as I looked at the now old beige skates, I put them into a plastic bag and carried them up the steps to put where I would remember to take them to a donation box.  The temptation is strong to march them right back to their place in the basement, but I know I will have to be strong and let them go, in the hope that some other youngster may use them.


Between Bouts

"Oh yeah...winter. Now I remember!"

Last Sunday was chilly but dry and very sunny.  All of the brush and trees are dormant with drab brown colors, not a day I felt inspired to go walking to find pictures that need to be taken, so I went to Target and later to Walmart to look around just in case there was anything I needed, on sale before their year-end inventory.

After walking around in Target and feeling that I at least got some exercise out of the process, I went on to the other store and what I ended up buying was in the edible category, but there too, I got some exercise and was glad to be home a few hours later.  With the weather prohibiting my shopping during the single digit temperatures, now my curiosity was satisfied I won’t get the urge to go to the malls again for another six months, so I can get other things done instead.  Yet, it was nice to have a little time out from routine and to see what is new in retail.

This evening I met Diane and Kay at the Knights of Columbus hall for a chicken paprikas dinner, which was pretty good and filling.  We signed up for the end of February dinner of beef stroganoff.  Of course if there is a foot of snow, we will miss it.

The availability of weather reports, and for the smarter phones, Aps for alerts and minute by minute changes in weather tracking, is amazing.  For the last two years I have found myself scheduling appointments, lunches, even whether to go to the office or not depending on storm predictions and if the street has been plowed or not.  Even when there has been an accumulation of snow, if the street is completely visible, I head out confidently, as I did this week both Monday and Tuesday.  The good news is that the winter is half over.

Agenda by Weather


On Sunday evening I checked the Cinemark show times to see when The Post would be showing on Monday, the senior discount day.   The earliest one was at 12:55 p.m. and the next at four p.m.  I called Diane to let her know and also pointed out that the weather forecast said we would be getting snow starting at 2:00 p.m.  She said she could make the 12:55 show and figured we’d be in and out before the brunt of the storm hit.   I was not as convinced as she was and did not look forward to struggling along the short drive home.  On the other hand, how much of life was I shutting out by deciding not to brave a little snowstorm?  If Diane wasn’t concerned, why should I be?  Dragging my heels, I said I’d call her by noon on Monday if I was not going.  In fact she called me just before noon to see what I decided and I said I would forge ahead.  It was getting a bit grey as I drove to the theatre complex.

The movie was easy to get involved in and when we headed back to our cars, we found that there was a fine rain/snow mix falling and not yet sticking to the pavement, so we then agreed to re-convene at Arby’s.  She always keeps the fast food coupons in her car just in case.

At the restaurant we studied the coupons and we both decided on the turkey sandwich and the small mint chocolate chip shake.  Both were very tasty and filling and with the coupons came to $4.31 for each of us.

By the time we finished our repast the snow was sticking and we had to brush off our car windows.  The Arby’s is very close to my home, so I was very thankful to pull into my garage and then the house and park the wet snowy boots, cap and jacket.

Once I was in comfy at home clothes and looking out the window, I was glad for the chance to have been out but so glad to be home.  The snow fell all evening and in the morning the plow made a few passes but the street was still thickly coated.

A Cup of Prevention


The flu has become so rampant this year that thirty-seven children have died from it already, according to today’s news, and in some cases, a patient had been diagnosed, and within two days was dead.  Now that is scary!

The Saturday before last in Church there was a man a couple of pews ahead of me who started coughing so hard he had to sit down and cough some more.  I noticed he wasn’t there last weekend.  He really should not have come the week before either, risking the spread of whatever almost doubled him up with coughing.

It doesn’t have to be winter for me to make a pot of soup, but when it is cold and dreary outside, I feel especially lucky to be able to pull out the big cauldron, fill it 2/3rds  with water, add spices and a generous spoon of dry soup base and let it come to a boil before adding soup meat.  Once that is boiling I start adding other ingredients, like diced onion, about half of a small bag of barley; (that is a lot of barley for some people, but not too much for me) 3 ribs of celery diced, 3 carrots whole, tomato sauce, and after all of that is beginning to smell good, I shred about half of a cabbage and add it to the mix by the hand full and last of all I add a can of red kidney beans.   After a total of about an hour of cooking and the soup is smelling SO good, I turn off the heat and just let it sit there until I am ready to ladle a portion out into one of my big soup mugs.  Then slowly, so I don’t burn my lips or tongue, I sip it from the spoon.  I am convinced that soup like this keeps me well.

Eating fresh fruit and drinking enough water and getting a good night’s sleep are also important.  I also keep vitamin supplements handy along with chewable zinc and a jar of Vicks which I apply to my throat and wrap an old kerchief around should a hint of sore throat feel like it is sneaking up on me.  Recently I heard on health hints on some news program that rinsing the throat with warm salt water works too.  Back when I was pregnant with my daughter, it was the only remedy for my then very bad sore throat that my doctor would condone.  Now that my children are grown and gone, I have learned that honey is better than any over the counter cough medicine.  I probably could have paid at least a semester of college tuition with what I spent on cough and allergy medicines.

I am also a believer in getting the flu shots every year and have heard that even if the shot of the year isn’t the most effective for the strain of the day, getting the shot every year helps build up a resistance to the flu.

It doesn’t hurt to have had healthy parents and I believe what I heard on PBS many moons ago that the Neanderthal genes we still carry in our DNA also contribute to healthy immune systems.



Cochinchina was the name attributed to the region of Viet Nam colonized by the French long before the Americans became enmeshed in the war in Viet Nam.  This fragment of memory has stayed with me since I studied East Asian History at Foothill Junior College in Los Altos Hills, California.  There are many articles on the internet about how long the French tried to institute themselves in that part of the world, wanting to expand their territory as the Dutch and English had in India, however, not as successfully.  From that class I also had the impression that the French involvement was somehow what led America into that tragic war.  The one lasting influence left by the French there and in other parts of the world has been their language, still spoken, while the societies are not otherwise, French.

There is so much going on in our world today, that it is difficult at best, to keep abreast of current events, never mind remembering what actually happened and who did or said what even though the news casts drum the stories into our heads daily and these issues and wars and crimes have a direct impact on our lives.

Perhaps studying history is the only way to get a grip on the past and what really happened.  Diane and I went to see the movie The Post yesterday and while I remember names like Daniel Ellsberg and others from that era, I was astonished to learn just how intense the experiences of the Washington Post and The New York Times and their journalists were, just a few decades ago.

A movie like this is a reminder of how important the role of newspapers has been and while so much news has gone digital, the few remaining giants should not be allowed to fade into the past.

Just under the wire

last jedi

Star Wars was not even on the indoor marquee any longer, but lucky for me it was still at Cinemark on Monday, the senior discount day, when I arrived on my way home after a doctor’s appointment.  The young man at the ticket counter said it was just going to start as the ads and trailers before the film begins were almost over.

Instead of being allowed to wander around wondering where to sit, they now require patrons to select a seat before the ticket is printed out, so I chose 12 F, knowing that sitting too close to the front would make me feel like I was right in all those battles.  So I got my ticket, checked the prices on something to eat, decided I wasn’t that hungry and got into the theatre just as one of the many explosive scenes was underway.

There have been many science fiction movies with interstellar battles and planets being obliterated, heroes flying at breakneck speed performing unreal stunts and surviving endless conflicts, but I haven’t bothered to see any of them.  I am pretty much a Star Wars fan from over the years and continue to be amazed at the imagination and technology of the process.  I also cling to the nostalgia of each of the original cast members, though one by one they are bowing out.  There was an enjoyable scene with Yoda, still offering wisdom to Luke.   Luke Skywalker evaporates into the sunset and of course in reality Princess Leia passed on.   There were an enormous number of names of people in the credits list, which began with, “Our Princess, Carrie Fisher” which I found touching.

With women gaining momentum in today’s world, whether it is in the form of protests, marches, organizations for promoting women’s rights, it is fitting that this film featured a female Jedi flying at Chewbacca’s side.  The next thing you know, women will be getting equal pay for equal work!

Death by Handbag

shoulder bag

With winter upon us, it seemed like a good time to switch handbags from my usual mid-sized 2 strap carry-all, with extra clothing on and boots and umbrella and me with still only 2 hands in which to manipulate anything that I was not zipped or wrapped into, to the old fashioned cross body bag.  This puts the strain on the shoulder the strap crossed instead of the wrists, which all seems logical. I admit that I might not have opted for this mode du jour had it not been for some pressure from my cousin, Theresa, who strongly advised I go that route back when I was visiting her last Easter since that would free up one hand from carrying while the other is balancing the cane for walking and it might be a slight deterrent to purse snatchers.

Once I get to the car with my assortment of baggage I unload it all into the back seat and lock the door before climbing into the driver’s seat.  This program had been working well enough until the single digit temperatures persisted and I decided that it was time to haul out the “big coat” or in my case, the heavy down jacket.  It is much more cumbersome to drive in than the little fleece jacket I’ve been using for the last few winters when the weather had been fairly mild.  The heavier jacket is actually for a man, but I have been wearing it since my son would not wear it no matter how good my intentions when buying it for him many years ago.  This jacket is very warm, has assorted deep pockets, snaps and a zipper and a hood.

Trying to leave the office parking lot, donned in this jacket with the cross shoulder purse bouncing on my front side as I walked to the car, I opened the back door of the car and tried to deposit all my things but could not get the handbag off of myself.   It was trapped in place by the hood.  I wrestled with it for several minutes while trying not to let the door slam on me from the strong wind.  Nothing I could maneuver would separate the cross shoulder handbag, the huge jacket and my person.  I wedged us all into the driver’s seat pushing the bag away from the steering wheel while trying to truss us within the strains of the seat belt.   Eventually I heard the click and I got the car in motion and managed to get home safely.  It was work getting out of the jacket with the handbag still firmly in place and I was grateful to finally be free of the monster without having strangled myself in the process.