Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year

Photograph by Paolo Brillo
Royal Albert Hall 2013  

From The New York Times, Arts Beat, The Culture at Large, November 19, 2013: 

A Bob Dylan Video 47 Years in the Making
Promotional video clips were hardly unknown when Bob Dylan released “Like a Rolling Stone” as a single in 1965, but Mr. Dylan never made one for the song. Now Columbia, his record label, is making up for that oversight with a newly produced web video for the song, mainly to promote “The Complete Album Collection, Volume 1,” a 47-CD set that includes all of Mr. Dylan’s studio albums, six live sets and a two-disc rarities compilation. But in the process, the company is redefining the way promotional clips are viewed.

Usually, you sit back and watch. If they’re by a performer you collect, you may go to some effort to obtain a copy. But Columbia’s new “Like a Rolling Stone,” which went live on Mr. Dylan’s website on Tuesday morning, demands not to be played so much as played with.

 I wasn't able to embed the "newly produced web video" mentioned above into my blog page here, but please do click on the link provided above to see and interact with this "newly produced web video" which is truly amazing.  If you don't thoroughly enjoy the experience, well,  ..... I don't quite know what to say about that, you will have to end the sentence for yourself.

Click here for the rest of Allan Kozinn's piece on the making of the video. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

I'll Be Seeing You

Cathedral bells were tolling and our hearts sang on;
Was it the spell of Paris or the April dawn?
Who knows if we shall meet again ....
But when the morning chimes ring sweet again...
I'll be seeing you

My husband, many years ago,  told me he didn't believe in an afterlife called Heaven.  It shook me to the core and I replied to him, "I don't care if you believe or not.  That's where I'm going and you're going with me even if I have to drag you there."  Recently, the subject of Heaven came up again, of course, I was the one to bring it up.  This time he said, "I'm not sure if Heaven is real, but if that's where you're going, I'm going with you." 

Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 3 in D minor Sixth Movement
 "See" what becomes of the melody at 1:43

Orquesta Sinfónica de Puerto Rico
Maximiano Valdés, conductor
Coral Filarmónica de San Juan
Coro de Niños de San Juan
Carmen Acevedo Lucío, chorus master
Festival Casals- March 2008

 In its simplest form, the program consists of a title for each of the six movements:
  1. " Pan Awakes, Summer Marches In"
  2. "What the Flowers in the Meadow Tell Me"
  3. "What the Animals in the Forest Tell Me"
  4. "What Man Tells Me"
  5. "What the Angels Tell Me"
  6. "What Love Tells Me"
Mahler originally envisioned a seventh movement, "Heavenly Life" (alternatively, "What the Child Tells Me"), but eventually dropped this, using it instead as the last movement of the Symphony No. 4.
which incorporates a song called "Das himmlische Leben", which presents a child's vision of Heaven.

Das Himmlische Leven
The Heavenly Life

We enjoy the heavenly pleasures
and avoid the earthly things.
No worldly tumult
does one hear in Heaven!
Everything lives in the gentlest peace!
We lead an angelic life!
Nevertheless we are very merry:
we dance and leap,
hop and sing!
Meanwhile, Saint Peter in the sky looks on.

Saint John has let his little lamb go
to the butcher Herod.
We lead a patient, innocent,
dear little lamb to death!
Saint Luke slaughters oxen
without giving it thought or attention.
Wine costs not a penny in Heaven's cellar;
and angels bake the bread.

Good vegetables of all sorts
grow in Heaven's garden!
Good asparagus, beans
and whatever we wish!
Full bowls are ready for us!
Good apples, good pears and good grapes!
The gardener permits us everything!
Would you like roebuck, would you like hare?
In the very streets
they run by!

Should a fast-day arrive,
all the fish swim up to us with joy!
Over there, Saint Peter is running already
with his net and bait
to the heavenly pond.
Saint Martha must be the cook!

No music on earth
can be compared to ours.
Eleven thousand maidens
dare to dance!
Even Saint Ursula herself is laughing!
Cecilia and all her relatives
are splendid court musicians!
The angelic voices
rouse the senses
so that everything awakens with joy.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

gone, gone, really gone, real far gone, YIPPIE!!!!!!


You don't have to be a Freudian to enjoy Freud's couch.  It's a thing of beauty in and of itself.  Stretch out.  Close your eyes.  Free associate.  I don't want to make you paranoid or anything, but remember - you are on the internet - men in white coats are watching your every move and reading your every word.

This article, "Analysing Freud's Couch" by Peter Cook appeared in
The Guardian, Monday 21 August 2006

"Why did Sigmund Freud make his patients lie on couches? Why didn't he tell them to sit up straight, or psychoanalyse them standing up? The solution to this mystery has been found and is on display in a fascinating exhibition in Freud's old apartment in Vienna, part of the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of his birth.

In Freud's day, reclining in mixed company was an extremely risque business. "If a visitor is announced, you are to receive him in a standing position -never lying on the chaise longue," warned Konstanze von Franken in her Handbook of Good Form & Fine Manners, published in Berlin in 1922.  Even sitting upright on a couch, rather than a straight-backed chair, was seen as far too forward. "A gentleman never takes a seat on the sofa," declared Herr Schramm in his book of etiquette, Good Form & Proper Deportment (Berlin, 1919).

In light of such stern advice, Freud's invitation to his patients to lounge about seems remarkably daring - rather like a modern analyst inviting his patients to strip off and clamber into bed. So why did Freud risk opprobrium by asking those who visited him to adopt such a provocative position? The answer lies in the extraordinary things that happen when people do their thinking (and talking) lying down.

As an enthusiastic practitioner of hypnosis, Freud had seen how lying down liberated people from conventional trains of thought. Although he abandoned hypnotism soon after he moved into his apartment in Vienna's Berggasse, he retained a hypnotist's couch to assist him in his new technique of free association. Freud found that lying down promotes a loss of control that encourages more instinctive conversation. And no wonder -the word couch (from the French coucher) doesn't only mean to lie down; it also means to put an idea into words.

The safer English word, sofa (from Arabic suffa) has none of the same connotations, so it's ironic that Freud's couch - a gift from a Viennese patient - ended up in prim Hampstead, where Freud spent his final years, after fleeing to England to escape the Nazis. Today his couch has pride of place at 20 Maresfield Gardens, the house (now a museum) where he died in 1939."

November 8, 2009 at 10:55 PM

Ms. X
Hmm, fery interestink.  I can see why people would really open up while lying in such a relaxing and calming atmosphere. Maybe that's why I have such a hard time sleeping, the instinctive conversation within my head just keeps bouncing around, looking for answers.

November 12, 2009 at 10:09 PM 

My doctor has a couch.  Nothing like the one in the picture.  But I could never lie down on the couch in a shrink's office no matter how beautiful it was. I'm too inhibited.  I sit in my chair, which is a lounge chair, but I never engage the lounge feature.  The slim lined, black leather Ikea type.

I sit straight up, or slouch forward with my arms resting on my knees. That's my usual conversational posture.  Edge of seat.   Always on guard. Ready to make a quick exit.


November 13, 2009 at 4:47 PM
Hmmm.  Just noticed the last time I visited my Doc that there is no longer a couch there and now I'm wondering if it was ever there at all or if I just imagined it? 

December 29, 2013 at 2:23 PM
Update:  I no longer see my Doc.  The co-pay became too much of a burden.  I do believe psychoanalysis helped me - to some extent - I certainly left far less delusional than when I entered and with a much more attractive hairstyle.  Looking back, I have to wonder what the hell was I  thinking.  I must never wear my hair that way again! 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Carol of the Bells Light Show

"Carol of the Bells" is a popular Christmas carol, composed by Mykola Leontovych with lyrics by Peter J. Wilhousky. The song is based on a folk chant known in Ukrainian as "Shchedryk". Wilhousky's lyrics are copyrighted, although the original musical composition is not.

The song is based on a traditional folk chant. It was associated with the coming New Year which, in pre-Christian Ukraine, was originally celebrated with the coming of spring in April. (This explains the reason why the original Ukrainian text speaks about a swallow returning and lambs being born.)
With the introduction of Christianity to Ukraine, and the adoption of the Julian calendar, the celebration of the New Year was moved from April to January, and the holiday with which the chant was originally associated became the Feast of Epiphany (also known in Ukrainian as Shchedry vechir). The songs sung for this celebration are known as Schedrivky.

The original Ukrainian text tells the tale of a swallow flying into a household to proclaim the plentiful and bountiful year that the family will have.  The title is derived from the Ukrainian word for "bountiful". The period for the birth of animals and the return of swallows to Ukraine, however, does not correspond to the current calendar season of winter.

In Ukraine, the chant is currently sung on the eve of the Julian New Year.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Happy Birthday Papa Francesco

Illustration by Bryan Drury for TIME; Photo reference: Alessandra Tarantino / AP

A child takes off Pope Francis' white zucchetto, or skullcap, during a meeting with children and volunteers of the Santa Marta Vatican Institute, at the Vatican on Saturday. (Photo: Associated Press)

Full Moon Mental!

 Should I or shouldn't I ?

Hi Leo,
Today's Full Moon in Gemini is mentally and emotionally charged! This energy will cause deep thoughts and feelings to race through your mind, leaving you feeling a bit lost and questioning how you got here. The answers you need now lie within your past.

All the things that happened in your past lives are carried over into this one. Your habits, fears, and even all the people you know are here for a reason. By understanding your past lives you can make this life more meaningful!
Tru dat.

Can't make up my mind which version I like better.  The above seems so rambunctious and noisy but has such a great cast of characters.  I think my vote must go to the version below.  It doesn't jamble and jar my nerves like the gang-banger up above.  

My Back Pages: I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.  
Tru Dat

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I'd Rather Go Blind

Clarence Bekker
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Guitar, Vocals
Clarence comes from Suriname, and moved to Amsterdam at the age of 6
and is currently living in Barcelona, Spain

Published on Dec 12, 2013
Today we are proud to share a new PFC Band Live performance of the Etta James Classic, "I'd Rather Go Blind", filmed at Byron Bay Australia during our recent 2013 Tour. Turn it up, share it with your friends and family and lets spread the love to everyone we meet!!

Titi Tsira
Guguletu, South Africa

Tal Ben Ari- a.k.a. “Tula”
 singer and songwriter from Tel Aviv, Israel, based in Barcelona

Roberto Luti
Livorno, Italy

Grandpa Elliott
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Harmonica & Vocals

Mermans Mosengo
Kinshasa, Congo
Guitar & Vocals

Orbe Ortiz
Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Bass, Tres

Jason Tamba
Matadi, Congo
Guitar & Vocals

Peter Bunetta
Los Angeles, California

Playing For Change Band

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Kad mi dodjes ti

For Nick & Nadia

Kad mi dodjes ti

Pada noc puna strepnje nema Te tu kraj mene,
a trebam Te kao pjesnik- svoju bol.
Na srcu mi studen, zima, na usnama Tvoje ime
i samo cekam dan da dodjes mi!
A kad mi dodjes Ti i osmjeh vratis mi
sva patnja i bol zivota mog ce proc.
U nocima bez sna ja Tebe dozivam
da dodjes mi Ti i kao svi pocnemo mi mirno zivjeti.
Moj dan nema kraja, a nocu Tebe sanjam
I samo cekam dan da dodjes mi.
A kad mi dodjes Ti i osmjeh vratis mi
sva patnja i bol zivota mog ce proc.
U nocima bez sna ja Tebe dozivam
da dodjes mi Ti i kao svi pocnemo mi mirno zivjeti.
A kad mi dodjes Ti i osmjeh vratis mi
sva patnja i bol zivota mog ce proc.
U nocima bez sna ja Tebe dozivam
da dodjes mi Ti i kao svi pocnemo mi mirno zivjeti.

Когда вы приходите ко мне

Ночь полна тревоги вы не рядом со мной,
Вы нужны как поэт-его боль.
В центре моей холодной, зима, на губах имя Твое
и только и ждут того дня, когда я буду нуждаться!

И когда вы приходите ко мне и вернуть мою улыбку
все страдания и боль моей жизни пройдет.
В бессонные ночи, я звоню
Вы придете ко мне и нравится все начать жить мирно.

Мой день на этом не заканчивается, я мечтаю о тебе
И только и ждут того дня, когда я буду нуждаться.

And When You Come To Me

As the fearful night falls, you are not here by my side,
While I need you like a poet needs his pain.
In my heart, the cold, the winter
On my lips , only your name
And I'm only waiting for the day you'll come to me!
And when you come to me, and bring back the smile on my face
All the pain and worry of my life will pass.
In the sleepless nights I'm calling for you,
to come to me and so that we could start our peaceful life together.
My days are endless, and my nights are filled with you in my dreams,
And I'm only waiting for the day you'll come to me.
And when you come to me, and bring back the smile on my face
All the pain and worry of my life will pass.
In the sleepless nights I'm calling for you,
to come to me and like everyone else we start our peaceful life together

View From the Front Porch

This Morning

Monday, December 9, 2013


Today while going through my keepsakes I found the following items.  I only meant to look for one particular photo and wound up spending hours reminiscing.

It will snow real soon and I will make a snowman and it will melt - Sean

My House by Sean

Dear Mom and Dad - I want to thank you for letting me have pets and I am thankful for my bike and all my other stuff like my possessions and a house and not a apartment and for having a big yard to play in and a dog to play with in the yard - Love your son Sean

Seany Pooh, my only son.  Christmas 1968

What My Mother Means To Me - by Colleen

What my mother means to [me] is buying me a candy bar or giving me a dime or taking me on Trolly Trains to 69th Street or taking me to grandmoms house and telling me to play and when I came in with mud on me I'd track it on the floor and then when she would see it shed send me out the door and say dont come in unless your clean and then you can eat your lunch.  So then I went and cleand and I came in and ate my lunch and it was time to leave and then I said by and me and momy went out the door and we found that it was dark and we walked home and ate dinner and then I went to bed.  And then my my momy said good knight and kissed me and she said Sweet Dreams.

Three Little Monkeys  - Christmas 1968

The one in the middle created the Mother's Day Card and short essay "What My Mother Means To Me".  As I read it again today I felt the same tinge of apprehension when she seemed to go off on a tangent and wondered once again "where the heck is she going with this story?"   I think she might have been a little annoyed with me for making her go out and clean her shoes off before entering my mother's very tidy house.  Today, decades later and in her own home,  everyone takes off their shoes and leaves them in the entrance hall.  I think she takes after me when it comes to writing. When the stream of consciousness kicks in you never know where you're going to wind up. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

cry baby cry - stick your finger in your eye

It was a September morning in 1948 and mother was dressing me for my first day of school.  In advance of this momentous occasion she had purchased all the items I would need to be a first grade student at the public school.  A metal lunch box with a thermos; red patent leather shoes; a supply of white anklet socks; yellow galoshes; a blue rain coat with white Scottie dogs on the pockets; a green wool coat with a black velvet collar and matching black velvet hat that tied under my chin and had ear flaps; five bright  plaid dresses with white cuffs and collars.   I remember standing on the kitchen table so mother could pin up and later hand stitch the he hem of my dresses.  I was small for my age and my clothes always required alterations.   Although I was told that all of these preparations were for something called school, I had no idea what school meant.  There were no books in our house.  My mother and father were not book people.    I had coloring books and paper dolls, but that was the extent of it.  My father told me wonderful stories but they didn't come from a book.  A boy next door, several years older than me, taught me the alphabet song, but it was just that, a song.   I had no concept of letters or of combinations of letters and their use in forming words.  I knew only the spoken word and the meanings behind the spoken word.  But I clearly did not comprehend the meaning of the word school.  If I had, I wouldn't have been so complacent, so cooperative, so trusting.   Mother's friend, Helen, drove us to school on the first day. Helen waited outside in her car while  Mother took me by the hand and walked me across the playground, up the stairs and through the big double doors. Mrs. Schieble greeted us as we entered her first grade classroom.  She had blond hair and a soft voice.  She showed me where to sit but I wouldn't let go of my mothers hand.  I had never been in a room with so many other children and had no intention of staying there without my mother.  I put my thumb in my mouth and buried my head in her.  She pleaded with me to sit down at my desk but I refused.     After a while she told me that she had Helen's car keys and that she had to go out and give the keys to Helen and then she would come right back.  I waited for a long while, with my thumb still in my mouth, until I realized it was a trick and started crying.  There was another girl who was also crying.  Mrs. Schieble called us cry babies. The next day was much worse.   Mother put me on a big  yellow school bus, kicking and screaming.  I was terrified.  My fear and horror over what was happening to me was so intense, that even today when I think of it, I can feel the panic, but in a detached way.   I refused to take a seat.  That would be committing myself to the horrible situation that I found myself in. The bus driver yelled at me and said I had to take a seat or I was going to make all the other kids late for school.  I didn't care.  I thought about my half-eaten peanut butter toast still sitting on the kitchen table.  I remembered mother saying, Come on slowpoke, finish that toast or you'll miss your bus.  I didn't think it was actually going to happen.  A bus coming to pick up  me?  Never. No  way!   I guess I was in denial.  Between sobs I tried to tell the bus driver that I didn't  finish my peanut butter toast. The bigger kids started laughing and singing, Cry baby cry, stick your finger in your eye.   I threw up all over my brand new shoes.  Everyone said, P-U!  The bus started moving again.  I lost my balance and fell on the floor. I bit my lip and my tongue  and  I  was bleeding.  The bus stopped and the bus driver yelled Get up.  Get up off that floor right this minute and get in your seat or get off the bus.  I couldn't get off the bus because we were down around the bend in Hell's Corner where all the juvenile delinquents live.  He didn't seem to care when I pointed that out to him,  so I sat down, thoroughly humiliated, next to a girl who  smelled like  buttered popcorn.    She was  picking her nose and giggling.  She reached into her pocket and handed me a lolly-pop.   It tasted like lemon flavored blood.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Stuck on the pane two flies buzzed ..........

Henri Matisse etching for James Joyce's Ulysses

Tip: a rollicking good time erupts at 4:07

 An excerpt from Joyce's "Ulysses" 
 (I actually painstakingly transcribed all of this from my own copy of Ulysses. And yes, I created this exceedingly odd, perhaps even bizarre video embedded above.  Yikovitz!)

"Mild fire of wine kindled his veins. I wanted that badly. Felt so off colour. His eyes unhungrily saw shelves of tins, sardines, gaudy lobsters' claws. All the odd things people pick up for food. Out of shells, periwinkiles with a in, off trees, snails out of the ground the French eat, out of the sea with bait on a hook. SIlly fish learn nothing in a thousand years. If you didn't know risky putting anything into your mouth. Poisonous berries. Johnny Magories. Roundness you think good. Gaudy colour warns you off. One fellow told another and so on. Try it on the dog first. Led on by the smell or the look. Tempting frjuit. Ice cones. Cream. Instinct. Orangegroves for instance. Need artificial irrigation. Bleibtreustrasse. Yes but what about oysters? Unsightly like a clot of phlegm. Filthy shells. Devil to open them too. Who found them out? Garbage, sewage they feed on. Fizz and Red bank oysters. Effect on the sexual. Aphrodis. He was in the Red bank this morning. Was he oyster old fish at table. Perhaps he young flesh in bed. No. June has no oysters. But there are people like tainted game. Jugged hare. First catch your hare. Chinese eating eggs fifty years old, blue and green again. Dinner of thirty courses. Each dish harmless might mix inside. Idea for a poison mystery. That archduke Leopold was it? No, Yes, or was it Otto one of those Hapsburgs? or who was it used to eat the scruff off his own head? Cheapest lunch in town. Of course, aristocrats. Then the others copy to be in the fashion. Milly too rock oil and flour. Raw pastry I like myself. Half the catch of oysters they throw back in the sea to keep up the price. Cheap. No one would buy. Caviare. Do the grand. Hock in green glasses. Swell blowout. Lady this. Powdered bosom pearls. THe elite. Creme de la creme. They want special dishes to pretend they're. Hermit with a platter of pulse keep down the stings of the flesh. Know me come eat with me. Royal sturgeon. High sheriff, Coffey, the butcher, right to venisons of the forest from his ex. Send him back the half of a cow. Spread I saw down in the Master of the Rolls' kitchen area. Whitehatted chef like a rabbi. Combustible duck. Curly cabbage a la duchesse de Panne. Just as well to write it on the bill of fare so you can know what you've eaten too many drugs spoil the broth. I know it myself. Dosing it with Edwards' desiccated soup. Geese stuffed silly for them. Lobsters boiled alive. Do ptake some ptarmigan. Wouldn't mind being a waiter in a swell hotel. Tips, evening dress, halfnaked ladies. May I tempt you to a little more filleted lemon sole, miss Dubedat? Yes, do bedad. And sh did bedad. Huguenot name I expect that. A miss Dubedat lived in Killiney I remember. Du, de la, French. Still it's the same fish, perhaps old Micky Hanlon of Moore street ripped the guts out of making money, hand over fist, finger in fishes' gills, can't write his name on a cheque, think he was painting the landscape with his mouth twisted. Moonikill A Aitcha ha. Ignorant as a kish of brogues, worth fifty thousand pounds.

Stuck on the pane two flies buzzed. "

The Totally Bogus Cosmic Web Store

Made this video in 2009 and had a lot of fun doing it.  It's not everybody's cup of tea, or should I say, hot mulled cider - ugh - scratch the hot mulled cider, make it eggnog instead.  I've never been to Hackensack, have no intentions of going to Hackensack, just want to clear that up. 

Welcome to the totally bogus cosmic web store. We have combed the world to find the most unusual and exciting items ever made available for sale to the general public. You won't find these items anywhere else I can guarantee you. It is our mission to make your holiday shopping as stress free as possible. Here at the Totally Bogus Cosmic Web Store we take pride in the quality of the merchandise we offer. Our dedicated staff of giftologists have made an in-depth study into the kinds of gifts people want most. Even those hard to shop for people on your holiday gift list won't be disappointed this year if you do your shopping with us. So then, without further ado, let's get started.  Sit back. Relax. Leave all the work to us. What could be easier? Our theme this year is none other than The Twelve Days of Christmas. I love that tune, don't you? First item please.
Oh dear.  I wasn't quite expecting that.  Excuse me.  I must talk to one of the staff.   Henry.  Henry could you please come out here? 

Yes.  Yes.  Here I am.   Is there a problem Olivia?

Well Henry, I don't know.  I was about to ask you that. Is there a problem?

Not that I'm aware of.

The monkey is legitimate?

Well of course the monkey is legitimate.  She can  type 120 words a minute and has a very impressive resume.

Alright then, just checking.  Sorry ladies and gentleman.  The staff has been known to play a trick on me every now and then.  One never can be too sure.  Well then, our first item of the evening. A personal secretary.  How utterly charming.   Tell us about this item will you Henry?

Of course.   It would be my pleasure.   On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a personal secretary.  This adorable executive monkey is every woman's dream.  No more racing to meet deadlines. Miss monkey is a whiz in your home office.  Also doubles as babysitter, chief cook and bottle washer, housekeeper extraordinaire and gardener.  Anyone can give her Chanel Number Five.  Think outside the box this year.  Order miss monkey today and you will never have to think outside the box again.  Give the woman in your life a gift that keeps on giving and giving and giving and giving and giving and giving and giving and giving and giving and giving .....

Alright Henry that will be enough.

and giving and giving and giving .....

Henry.   That will be quite enough thank you.  Let's see that picture of our first item once again, shall we?  To refresh our memory. There it is then.  You've got all the information you need to order miss monkey.  Our operators are waiting to place your orders.  Call within the next 24 hours and get that wonderful motivational poster.  I'm rather fond of bananas myself. 

And now for our second item of the day.  On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two mis-matched gloves.  Can't seem to get that  tune out of my head.  Does that ever happen to you?
Alright everyone.  Take a look at your screen.   And there you have it ladies and gentleman.  Our second item.  Mis-matched gloves.  How very interesting.  Whatever will they  think of next?  Tres chic.  Tres chic.  Barbara.  Will you come out here dear and tell our viewers more about these marvelous mis-matched gloves?  Barbara. Barbara? 

Yes.  Here I am.  Good morning Olivia.  I just love the earrings you're wearing today.  Are they Joan Rivers or Suzanne Somers?  I used to have a pair very similar to those.  I don't know what happened to them.  I think I left them in my hotel room in Jamaica.  Or was it New Orleans?  Oh well.   One of the two.  I still have the matching bracelet but I hardly ever wear it because, well you know, it's just not the same without the earrings.  I suppose I could always wear gold earrings with that bracelet.
Nothing over the top.  Or pink topaz.  Yes.  Pink topaz would work don't you think?  After all, no sense in letting that gorgeous bracelet lie in my jewelry box just because I no longer have the original matching earrings. 

Barbara.  I don't mean to interrupt darling, but why don't you tell our viewers about our second item. 
If you don't mind. 

Oh yes.  Sorry.

Not a problem my dear.  Go on now.  Let's hear all about the gloves shall we?

Alrighty.  On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two mismatched gloves.  Let me begin by telling you that these gloves are all the rage in Paris.  New York. London.  East Hackensack New Jersey.  They are stealing the show on runways in every fashion capital of the world.  And, as you know, when it comes to fashion, one day you're in and the next day your out.  Don't let this happen to anyone you love.  Make sure those people on your gift list are in.  Don't let them leave the house this year wearing a matching pair of gloves.  Here at the totally bogus cosmic web store we are working diligently in collaboration with the National Organization for the Prevention of Fashion Faux Pas to nip the widespread disgrace of fashion ignorance in the bud.  How are we doing this you may ask.  We are doing this by offering you this avant guarde collection of high-quality knitted gloves which can be mismatched as you please.  And please people, don't try to pull the wool over our eyes by ordering matching singles.  We weren't born yesterday you know.
Thank you Barbara.  Hackensack New Jersey you say?  What a small world.  I have a very dear cousin living in Hackensack.  Did you know that Hackensack is only 12 miles from Manhattan? No wonder they are so fashion-conscious. Yes indeed.  Only 12 miles from Manhattan.  In fact, you can see the New York City skyline from my cousins kitchen window.  Lovely view.  Lovely view.  Now,
let's get on with our business ladies and gentlemen.  Take another look at item number two and call our operators to order these wonderful mismatched gloves.  And don't forget to have your credit card ready

Well by golly those telephones sure are busy.  Remember, our supplies are limited.  Call now to make sure your items arrive in time for the holidays.  And now, we must take a short commercial break. Don't go away.  We will be right back with our third item.  On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me ..... I wonder.  What could it be?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

After the Flood / Sam II

I wish I could give Sam's II a wonderful review, even a good review, but sadly, I can't.  Athens is a beautiful little town and its small business owners need all the help they can get to keep the town alive and well.  We were at Sam's once - before the flood - and swore we would never go back, but this past weekend  we were in Athens for plumbing supplies and very hungry so we decided to give it another chance.  We are seasonal residents and hearing that the temperature was going to dip down to 19 degrees on Saturday we made an impromptu 4 hour trip from our primary residence to our "mountain home" north of Athens to turn the heat on and make sure our water pipes wouldn't burst.

Before going to Sam's we stopped by Lowery's on Main Street in Athens, hoping to have a great breakfast only to learn that it went out of business because they suffered so much damage from the flood of 2011.  In addition to the restaurant, Lowery's was and still is a flower and gift shop which also designs and creates quality monuments. They do all phases of monument work from the initial pencil sketch, sandblasting, to setting the finished product in the cemetery.  The Lowery's also own and operate a funeral home.  All of their business are on Main Street.  Evidently, the restaurant which was in the rear of the building that houses the flower and gift shop, was a superfluous venture and did not produce income significant enough to warrant a complete overhaul after the flood.  In fact, Rick Lowery in a statement he gave to the local newspaper doesn't even mention the restaurant when he speaks of his businesses.  I wonder if Rick ever ate there.  If he didn't he missed some great food. I wonder if he ever ate at Sam's before or after the flood. 
"I had 7 feet of water in my monument building, and 56 1/2 inches in the funeral building," Lowery said. "In the flower shop, we lost most of our inventory. It was all under water.  "I've already called another funeral director in Towanda. He's offered to let us use his funeral home." Rick Lowery
Read more about the flood of 2011 from the Star Gazette

So, anyway, here is my review of Sam II:

*The coffee was drinkable, not wonderful and not horrible, but merely mediocre and thus drinkable.  The coffee creamer was artificial, not real half and half or real cream.  In dairy country I find this hard to understand.  Spending a little more on real cream and not being so stingy with the coffee grounds would make a world of difference.  Good coffee is a must in any place I go for breakfast. 

*There was only one server on duty when we arrived, she was very cordial and efficient, and when we commented to her that she seemed to be doing it all, she said someone else would be coming in at eleven.  The place wasn't packed, one customer at the counter, and guests at three other tables besides our own.

*My husband ordered pancakes and orange juice, thinking he was playing it safe, saying privately to me, "How can they screw that up?" and "How bad can their pancakes be?" .  He soon found out.  First of all, when initially ordering he asked for blueberry pancakes.  Our server seemed a stunned by his request, as if he was asking for something rare, exotic and unattainable.  She responded with "Oh, they don't have blueberries back there."  "Okay" he said, "just give me 2 regular pancakes".  His regular pancakes which he says were bland, lacking any discernible taste, might have tasted a little better with real butter instead of the miserly sized lump of butter substitute.  He said, "Oh well, at least the orange juice is okay.  But really, how hard would it be to keep some frozen or canned blueberries on hand, or some blueberry jam or preserves?  And why not real butter?  Go to the Creekside Discount Grocery in Rome, PA -  they've got great butter for 1.29 a pound and you could probably get some blueberry preserves there too.  You've got to start thinking outside the box, Sam II. 

I was braver than my husband and ordered poached eggs, homefries and bacon.   I had to drain my eggs which were swimming in water.  There was a wooden salad bowl on the table which contained extra packets of fake butter.  I emptied the fake butter onto the table and poured the egg water into it.  The eggs looked good, cooked to the right degree, but after after eating a few spoonsful which tasted okay, I got a spoonful that tasted really awful  (in a way I can't explain because I can't compare that taste to anything I've ever had in my mouth) and in disgust, I had to spit it out into my napkin.  That was the end of my egg eating.  I was left with 2 wimpy pieces of bacon and a whole mess of homefries.  I poked through the pile, looking for pieces of potato that appeared to be "fried".  Most were  small white cubes that apparently had not touched the griddle long enough to be browned.  Never have I seen such a poor excuse for homefries. 

We won't be going back to Sam II unless they get their act together.  What I would recommend is a serious restaurant intervention.  I could put up with the bleak, impoverished fire-hall atmosphere  if the food was decent.  I think Sam II has great potential as a much needed eating and gathering place for Athenians and visitors - but, in it's present state,  it is crying out in desperation, not only for a physical interior makeover and sufficient staff, but also and especially, for more motivated and imaginative cooks. Another piece of advice:  Call Chef Irvine

Robert Irvine
Turning around a failing restaurant is a daunting challenge under the best of circumstances. Attempting to do it in just two days with only $10,000 may be impossible. But Chef Robert Irvine is ready to take on the challenge. He'll channel MacGyver and use a lot of muscle to rescue these desperate places from complete collapse. Can one man, in two days, with just $10,000, turn the tide of a failing restaurant and pave the road to a successful future? Find out as Robert Irvine takes on      Restaurant: Impossible.  Read More

Sam's II on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Castrovalva and Vola Vola Vola

Castrovalva by M. C. Escher (1930)

Like many of Escher's early works, it depicts a place that he visited on a tour of Italy - the Abruzzo village of Castrovalva.  The perspective is toward the northwest, from the narrow trail on the left which, at the point from which this view is seen, makes a hairpin turn to the right, descending to the valley. In the foreground at the side of the trail, there are several flowering plants, grasses, ferns, a beetle and a snail. In the expansive valley below there are cultivated fields and two more towns, the nearest of which is Anversa deglie Abruzzi, with Casale in the distance.

A photograph of Castrovalva with a somewhat Escher-like feel

More great photos of Castrovalva, Anversa deglie Abruzzi and Casale here at Italian Ways

Vulesse fa' 'revenì pe' n'ora sole
lu tempe belle de la cuntentezze,
quande pazzijavame a "vola vole"
e ti cupri' de vasce e de carezze
I would like for just an hour
the beautiful time of joy to come back,
when we played "fly fly"
and I covered you with kisses and caresses.
E vola, vola, vola,
e vola lu pavone,
si te' lu core bbone
mo' fammece arpruvà.
And fly, fly, fly, fly
and flies the ... peacock,
if you have a good heart
now let me try again.
E vola, vola, vola,
e vola lu pavone,
si te' lu core bbone
mo fammece arpruvà.
And fly, fly, fly, fly
and flies the ... peacock,
if you have a good heart
now let me try again.
'Na vote pe' spegnà lu fazzulette,
so' state cundannate de vasciarte.
Once, to ransom a handkerchief,
I was sentenced to kiss you.
Tu ti scì fatte rosce e mi sci dette
di 'nginucchianme prima e d'abbracciatte.
You blushed and told me
to kneel down before hugging you.
E vola, vola, vola,
vola lu gallinacce,
mo' se me guarde 'n facce
me pare di sugnà
And fly, fly, fly, fly
and flies the ... chanterelles,
now if I look to your face
I feel I'm dreaming.
E vola, vola, vola,
vola lu gallinacce,
mo' se me guarde 'n facce
me pare di sugnà
And fly, fly, fly, fly
and flies the ... chanterelles,
now if I look to your face
I feel I'm dreaming.
Come li fiure nasce a primavere,
l'ammore nasce da la citelanze.
As the flowers are born in the spring,
love is born from childhood.
Marì, si mi vuò bbene a accome jere,
ne' mi luvà stù sonne e 'sta speranze.
Mary, if you love me like yesterday,
Do not take from me this dream and hope.
E vola, vola, vola,
e vola lu cardille,
nu vasce a pizzichille
ne' me lo pò negà.
And fly, fly, fly, fly
and flies the ... goldfinch,
a kiss like a pinch on the cheek
You cannot deny me.
E vola, vola, vola,
e vola lu cardille,
nu vasce a pizzichille
ne' me lo pò negà.
And fly, fly, fly, fly
and flies the ... goldfinch,
a kiss like a pinch on the cheek
You cannot deny me.
Nà vota 'r'na pupuccia capricciosa,
purtive trecci appese e lu fruntine,
Once you were a spoiled girl,
you had hanging braids and a bow headband,
mo ti sci fatte serie e vruvignose,
ma ss'ucchie me turmente e me trascine.
now you've become serious and shy,
but your eyes haunt and charm me.
E vola, vola, vola,
vola la ciaramella,
pe' n'ore cuscì belle
vulesse sprufunnà.
And fly, fly, fly, fly
and flies the ... shawm,
for such a beautiful hour
I would sink underground.

The song, almost the anthem of Abruzzo, was written in the 1920s by Luigi Dommarco (Ortona, 23 Dec 1876 -Rome, 3 Sept 1969); the music is by Guido Albanese (Ortona, 2 Dec 1893 - Rome, 6 Jan 1966).

The meaning of this song of Abruzzo is connected to the folk tradition, where "vola vola" was a simple, funny game. Boys and girls sat crouching around a companion who had been chosen as "Capogioco" (game leader). All players placed their pointing fingers on the game leader's knees waiting for the latter to say "Fly, fly, fly..." and the name of an animal.
 If the animal was a bird everyone had to lift their finger, otherwise they should stay still. Anyone who by mistake let a non-flying animal fly, had to pay a pledge (such as the handkerchief in the song). The pledge was then to be redeemed by paying a penance (as kissing a girl).

Italy World Club

Friday, November 8, 2013

An Auspicious Day Unfolds

Feast Day of Our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces (depending on the source of which there are many).  My source Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Salus Populi Romani (English: Protectress of the Roman People)
(Protectress translates literally as 'salvation' or 'health')
Salus Populi Romani is a title given in the 19th century to the Byzantine icon of the Madonna and Child holding a handkerchief and Gospel book respectively, and the icon is reputed to date to the Early Christian era,  where it was enthrowned in the Borghese or Pauline Chapel of the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica in Rome.  It has historically been the most important Marian icon in Rome. Pope Francis also made this icon one of his first places of pilgrimage the day after his election to the Papacy.
 Salus Populi Romani is one of the so-called "Luke images" of which there are many throughout the world. These were believed to have been painted from the life by Saint Luke himself. According to the legend: "after the Crucifixion, when Our Lady moved to the home of St. John, she took with her a few personal belongings--among which was a table built by the Redeemer in the workshop of St. Joseph.  When pious virgins of Jerusalem prevailed upon St. Luke to paint a portrait of the Mother of God, it was the top of this table that was used to memorialize her image. While applying his brush and paints, St. Luke listened carefully as the Mother of Jesus spoke of the life of her son, facts which the Evangelist later recorded in his Gospel. Legend also tells us that the painting remained in and around Jerusalem until it was discovered by St. Helena in the 4th century. Together with other sacred relics, the painting was transported to Constantinople where her son, Emperor Constantine the Great,  erected a church for its enthronement." 
 "One can imagine the immensity of graces she received during the gestation of Our Lord Jesus Christ as she formed Him, carrying Him in her womb for nine months. He lived in her as in a Tabernacle. One may only envisage the boons Our Lady received in her spiritual life coming from this contact of souls.

It was a kind of mutual gift: while she was forming His body, He was forming her soul and making her still more perfect, bestowing unheard-of graces. I don’t know if even the highest Angels are able to understand those graces. Now then, she corresponded perfectly to all those graces with an astonishing fidelity."
Professor Plino Correa de Olivera -  commenting on a text by St. Louis Grignion de Montfort - True Devotion to Mary which can be read here
It was not my intention to blog about Salus Populi Romani or the Feast of Our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces.  But, you know how it goes, or maybe you don't, one thing led to another and Our Lady not only fell into place but became, rightly I believe, "enthroned"  above all that follows.


This morning I received the following email:

From: "Kaili Lambe,"
To: ____________________________________________

Sent: Friday, November 8, 2013 9:07:13 AM
Subject: Something scary is happening in Albuquerque

Leo --
Something pretty scary is happening in Albuquerque right now.  Voters will cast ballots on November 19th on an initiative that would ban abortions after 20 weeks with virtually zero exceptions.

This is a serious attack on women -- and it's a deliberate attempt by extreme interest groups to test their latest anti-women strategy.  We can't let this initiative succeed in Albuquerque -- add your name right now and fight back against this attack on women's health.

The groups behind the ballot initiative are extremely well funded and -- if they win in Albuquerque -- you can bet they're going to take this approach to cities and states across the country.  OFA is working with a strong coalition of organizations that are dedicated to fighting back on the ground in New Mexico. But we need anyone who cares about this fight to stand in solidarity no matter where they live.

Join in and stand up for women in Albuquerque and anywhere else their rights are threatened:


Kaili Lambe
Women's Issues Campaign Manager
Organizing for Action

This was my reply:
"Something pretty scary is happening in Albuquerque right now"
Scary for whom?  Certainly not the innocent life/fetuses/babies inside the wombs of their mothers. 
 "Voters will cast ballots on November 19th on an initiative that would ban abortions after 20 weeks with virtually zero exceptions."
I hope and pray the bill passes in Albuquerque.  In my opinion, all abortion is a heinous attack on humanity.  It's murder and nothing less.  In mass - nationwide, worldwide - it's genocide, population control. The further along the pregnancy the more despicable abortion becomes. I am currently awaiting two new grandchildren and their ultra-sound pictures are proof that these sweet, beautiful innocents need a voice to speak out against the ultimate crime of abortion. I am outraged and physically sick by the thought that a 5 month old (and older) baby inside the womb of its mother can so heartlessly and hideously have its life exterminated.  And for what?  Women's' rights?  STOP using Women's rights as an excuse for infanticide.  And STOP assuming that all Democrats or Liberals are of the same mind on the issue of abortion.
This is a serious attack on women -- and it's a deliberate attempt by extreme interest groups to test their latest anti-women strategy.
Stop peddling your propaganda and don't send me any more of your filthy emails.

Leo - mother of 6, grandmother of 18

Kimmy and Me
Mary, the beloved Mother of chosen souls, shelters them under her protecting wings as a hen does her chicks. She speaks to them, coming down to their level and accommodating herself to all their weaknesses. To ensure their safety from the hawk and vulture, she becomes their escort, surrounding them as an army in battle array. Could anyone surrounded by a well-ordered army of say a hundred thousand men fear his enemies? No, and still less would a faithful servant of Mary, protected on all sides by her imperial forces, fear his enemy. This powerful Queen of heaven would sooner dispatch millions of angels to help one of her servants than have it said that a single faithful and trusting servant of hers had fallen victim to the malice, number and power of his enemies.
St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (1673-1716)
 On this day, November 8th, 54 years ago, at the age of 17, I became mother to a beautiful baby girl, 5 lbs, 13 ounces.  I was going to name her "Amber" but my mother pleaded with me not to, because she had already told all the women in the bowling alley that her name was "Kimberly".  Kimberly was my second choice, and because I hated seeing the anguished look on my mother's face, I complied to her wishes and Kimberly it was.  My first choice of Amber came from a romantic novel that enthralled me, "Forever Amber" by Kathleen Winsor.

I don't know where the book came from or who it belonged to; it was simply there in our house on a bookshelf and I decided to read it.  I remember once, at about the age of 15, I was in my room reading Forever Amber when I heard my father and mother asking "Where's Leo?"  My favorite aunt, a nurse who lived and worked in Brooklyn and came to visit every weekend told them where I was, "She's in her room reading that dirty book again."  Dirty book?  What was she talking about?  At 15, I was not able to read between the lines, I had little to no knowledge of things sexual.  Hugging and kissing a boy here and there was as far as my experience and imagination took me.  Many years later, the reason for my mother's anguished expression over my naming my baby Amber finally became clear.  I still have the book, it's mine now and a very precious possession.

I will have to finish this later.  My husband and I are going to visit Kim and give her a birthday gift in a few hours and I have many things to do around the house before we leave.  He is sitting in a chair across from me, glaring.  I know what he's thinking - that I am wasting time.  He doesn't understand blogging.

Now, for the hard part.  I am reluctant to reveal what is about to follow, but the intention of this blog and the tying together of its parts will not be realized if I omit this very personal account of the months and days that preceded the birth of our first born child.

I met my husband in the fall of 1958 on my way home from a high school foot ball game.  I was 16 yrs old and in the 11th grade.  He was 17, and had dropped out of Catholic parochial school at the age of 15 in order to work full time as an apprentice in a printing company.  We fell madly in love and by February of 1959 I was pregnant. I put off telling my parents for as long as I could and went to great lengths to hide my condition because I knew if I told them my life would be turned upside down and I would never be able to finish my junior year.  Finally, late in  April we decided it was time to "face the music".  Actually, it was my husband who broke the news to my mother. I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  We were in his little blue Plymouth and had just picked up my mother from her job at the local delicatessen.  When we pulled up in front of my parent's house he turned off the engine, turned to face her, and very calmly blurted it out: "Leo's pregnant". 

She looked as if she was about to faint.  "Oh no," she said, "I trusted you two."  And then, turning to me she said,  "What am I going to tell your father?"  She was thoroughly devastated.  I don't know exactly what transpired immediately after that, but from what I can surmise, she didn't tell my father, instead she called my aunt, his sister, the nurse in Brooklyn, and together they devised a plan.  The plan, according to what my mother told me, was for she and I to take a trip to visit my aunt in Brooklyn, a brief weekend get-away, some time to think.

My aunt lived on 64th Street.  I'm not certain of the exact address, but 1274 E. 64th Street seems to stick in my head, perhaps from letters we exchanged in later years.  She lived in that same apartment until her death in 1968.  From her kitchen window I could see young women coming and going from what my aunt told me was a Catholic home for unwed mothers. At the time, I thought nothing of it, I made no connection between the home and myself.  In retrospect it probably was the Angel Guardian Home on 12th Avenue and 64th Street run by the Sisters of Mercy.

I was never approached by my mother or my aunt on the subject of giving my baby up for adoption.  I would have been horrified by such a prospect.  But, I was approached by my aunt on the possibility of doing something far worse and more horrific.  She told me she had a friend who could put a needle in my belly, and pop, just like that, make all my troubles go away.  I couldn't believe my ears. The word abortion was never used.  I was aghast,  protested vehemently, told her no, I would never, could never, do a thing like that.  She asked me why I was so against her suggestion.  I told her I loved Johnny, I wanted to marry him and have my baby.  That was the end of our little "get-away".  There was no more thinking to be done. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Animal Crackers

Lamo by Leo
The Missing Painting from Animal Crackers?

Capt. Spaulding: You're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, which doesn't say much for you. 

Capt. Spaulding: Well, art is art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west, and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce, they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now, uh... Now you tell me what you know.

Notice the striking resemblance between Lamo and Groucho,
especially their right hands.

Capt. Spaulding: I used to know a fellow who looked exactly like you by the name of Emanuel Ravelli. Are you his brother?
Ravelli: I am Emanuel Ravelli.
Capt. Spaulding: You're Emanuel Ravelli?
Ravelli: I am Emanuel Ravelli.
Capt. Spaulding: Well, no wonder you look like him. But I still insist there is a resemblance.
Ravelli: Heh, heh, he thinks I look alike.
Capt. Spaulding: Well, if you do, it's a tough break for both of you. 

Capt. Spaulding: [sings] Hello, I must be going/I cannot stay, I came to say I must be going/I'm glad I came, but just the same, I must be going, la-la!
[Tries to leave, the guests stop him]
Mrs. Rittenhouse: [sings] For my sake, you must stay/If you should go away/You'd spoil this party I am throwing.
Capt. Spaulding: [sings] I'll stay a week or two/I'll stay the summer through/But I am telling you/I must be going

 Animal Crackers - Synopsis
At the estate of Mrs. Rittenhouse, Jeffrey Spaulding, an African explorer, and Horatio, his secretary, become social lions at a house party in progress; and on their heels are the professor and Signor Ravelli, musicians. Arabella, the hostess' daughter, is in love with John Parker, an unknown artist; and Roscoe Chandler, an art connoisseur, arrives with a valuable master painting, of which John had made a pastiche while a student. Arabella persuades the musicians to substitute the copy for the original, and recognizing the art patron as a former fish peddler, they blackmail him. But a rival society matron, whose daughter has copied the same painting, plots a similar substitution to embarrass Mrs. Rittenhouse. Later, during a thunderstorm, the musicians steal the painting, but Hives, the butler, replaces it with the other pastiche, and at the unveiling the plot is exposed.

More about Animal Crackers at Turner Classic Movies