Category Archives: Family

Melodic Mystery

The other day, Husband played a CD of Borodin’s 2nd String Quartet. We have been listening to a lot of chamber music lately, and this is a CD we had for a while but hadn’t played before.  I had never heard this quartet before.  When the 2nd movement, (Scherzo) of the quartet played, I knew I had heard the tune before, and exclaimed “That is that is Buttons and Bows”!  I am somewhat prideful of the fact that I have a really good auditory memory, and once I hear a tune I rarely, if ever, forget it.  This is what it sounds like:

Husband protested, saying that Buttons and Bows was a very different tune. Being a Boomgaarden, (someone who is never wrong), I set out to solve the mystery. and turned to the internet  to prove my point.

Well, Husband was right. This is Buttons and Bows:

What, then was I remembering? I found that the 2nd movement of Borodin’s 2nd String Quartet was used in the song Baubles, Bangles, and Beads from the musical, Kismet. I never in my life saw that musical.  The song from the musical was quite popular in the 1950’s, however,  and was recorded by Miss Peggy Lee and by Frank Sinatra. I assume I heard the tune on some occasion as a small child and it stuck with me.

Well, Husband allowed that since the titles all were replete with B’s, I could be forgiven for confusing them. I am glad the mystery is solved.  I really like Borodin and think he is a seriously underrated composer.

What have you researched lately? What are some of your earliest musical memories?  How do you deal with being proved wrong? Ever seen Kismet?

RIP Tomie dePaola

When I was working in the book industry (B. Dalton and then Software, Etc.), my employee discount was a blessing and a curse.  Nice to get a discount on books but dangerous to someone who didn’t have a lot of disposable income.  During those years, the books that often went home with me were children’s books, particularly those with lavish illustrations.

If you have/had kids in your life, you’ve probably seen some of Tomie dePaola’s work.  In addition to writing his own stories, he also did all his own illustrations as well as illustrating for many other authors.  Often his work depicted his vision of folk stories or legends, including stories of his most memorable character: Strega Nona.   The first of the Strega Nona stories is a bit like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  Strega Nona leaves Big Anthony at her hut while she is out and he is determined to show the village folks how her magic pasta pot works.  As you can imagine, it doesn’t go well, but Strega Nona gets home just in time to avert disaster.

Tomie dePaola passed away this week, complications from surgery after a fall at his barn studio on his property in New Hampshire, where he had lived since 1973.  He was still working at the age of 85!  Over his career, he wrote and/or illustrated over 260 books and won just about every award there is for children’s literature, including a lifetime achievement award presented in 2011 by the Children’s Literature Legacy, a branch of the American Library Association.

I have quite a few Tomie dePaola books, from a signed copy of Strega Nona to volumes of nursery rhymes, poems and folktales to The Legend of Bluebonnet, The Legend of Poinsettia (one of my holiday favorites) and a stunning pop-up book, Giorgio’s Village.  As I’ve been cleaning out and cutting back, I have hit my bookshelves hard, but I haven’t had the heart to cull any of my Tomie dePaola.  I don’t know if I’ll have grandkids at any point, but I’d better hang on to them, just in case.

We’ll miss you Tomie.

Is there a children’s author or illustrator that you’re fond of?  Or that your kids or grandkids are fond of?

The Basement!

Photo credit: Wonderlane

I think I may have figured out how I am going to stay sane through all this isolation. I have “discovered” a new room on our house – heck, a new floor! – our Basement. Saturday (I may have mentioned here) we cleaned and organized enough that it feels comfortable down there. It’s an OLD basement (1930 era house) but at least it’s dry. There are five small windows, and the ceiling and walls are painted white, which makes it pretty light.

The joy of it is that I can spread out down there with my mask sewing project – there is room for a cutting table and ironing board. There’s an old rug under all this so my feet don’t get cold – if it feels too cool, I just add another layer. I still need a coffee kiosk, or I suppose I could go up to the “fireplace” niche in my (tiny) bedroom – the Break Room!

But the best thing about this is it feels a little bit “away” from the rest of my life now.  I have a commute – even if it is only up and down twelve steps, it will be a bit harder to get to the kitchen. And with a 900 sq. ft. house, it will give us both some well needed space. Heck, I might even get fully dressed to go to “work”.

Some of the “baboons” here (if you’re relatively new on the Trail, click on FAQ at the top) may already have this sort of space in their abode. If so,

is it useful at this time?

Is there some nook or cranny (attic, closet) at your about that you haven’t explored lately?

If you are living with others, do you have a place where you can get “away” if you want to?

Let’s Celebrate

Photo credit:  Jennifer Chen

A couple of month ago I had a doughnut ice cream sandwich for breakfast.  It was PJ’s fault – she had announced the day before that it was going to be National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day.  It was a sweet treat that was a bit too sweet even for me and has not been repeated.

Of course the very next day was Groundhog’s Day and just a couple weeks later, I saw some silly bit on the internet that February 17 was Random Acts of Kindness Day.  I decided to do some checking and

    • National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day (first Saturday in February)
    • Seuss Day (also called National Read Across America Day) – March 2
    • Pi Day – March 14
    • Star Wars Day – May 4
    • National Take Your Dog to Work Day – June 22
    • National Hammock Day – July 22
    • National Black Dog Day – October 1
    • Bathtub Party Day – December 5

There is actually a National Day calendar online and from a quick glance, there is something to celebrate every single day of the year, even February 29.  But there are plenty of things left to put on the calendar.  I looked and didn’t see Dust Bunny Appreciation Day nor did I see a National Day of Reading in Bed.  Sorely needed.

Any other days we need to celebrate?

Good News – Well, For Me Anyway

Twice before in my life in corporate America, it has been rough times.  Nothing quite like this, but for the travel industry, tough.  After 911, with all the airlines shut down and folks scared, everything went very quiet in my division for several weeks.   The second time was the recession of 2009, when companies thought that having incentive programs would make them too “visible”.  All the bank programs went first (even the banks that never took monies from the government), but many followed suit.  During both of these times, management was very serious and a vice president actually said out loud that it wasn’t a time for happiness.

I’m feeling the same right now, as if joy and happiness have been outlawed and I think this is more stressful for me than the general situation.  So it is with trepidation that I announce I am experiencing some happiness right now.

When YA was six, we took that vacation to Maine for the Machias Blueberry Festival.  I know I’ve mentioned this before.  I journaled, took photos and collected postcards, placemats, brochures and anything else I thought could be useful in a scrapbook.  When we got home, I found a good supply of stickers and doo dads at the craft store; I already had a good supply of rubber stamps of lighthouses – I’ve collected them for years.

I got the scrapbook designed and in the first month or so, I managed to get about a third of my material mounted and decorated.  Then things got busy and I put all the items in a black wire basket that eventually got shunted to the top of my studio bookshelf.  As YEARS went by, I often looked up at it, but never felt like I had time to really dig back into the project.  Well, I have time now, so last weekend, I pulled the basket down, dusted everything off (cough, cough) and got to work.  It took me a bit to figure out the font I had been using and I spent about an hour sorting everything out, putting things in piles by location and eventually finding a scrap of paper in the bottom of the basket that I had used to record where we had been each day.  Gold.

So I’m happy to announce that finally, nearly 20 years later, the Maine scrapbook is finished.  I was on a roll, so I also did two little scrapbooks for Rhiannon and Zorro as well!  I have all three of them in my bedroom, where every time I notice them, I get a little thrill of accomplishment.  Wondering if I would have such a good feeling about the scrapbook if I had actually finished it 20 years ago?

Any projects you’ve been putting off for far too long?

Skim vs. Powdered

Our discussion the other day about paper plates reminded me of stories that my folks used to tell about their early married life.  My dad was in basic training in North Carolina and my mom moved there to be close to him.  She taught gym part-time and they lived in a small trailer.  One of the stories they told me about how broke they were was that they couldn’t afford to buy a set of plates.  So not only did they eat on paper plates, they cut the paper plates in half!

By the time I came along, they were in better shape, although still not great; my dad was in law school with two part time jobs and my mom was forced to quit working the minute the school district found out she was pregnant!  As a kid, things were tight, not destitute, but definitely tight. One of the ways that my mom saved on groceries was by using powdered milk.  I still remember it after all these years, chalky and for some reason never seemed to get really cold.  I hated it.

At least once a month we had Saturday dinner at my grandparents’ house – hamburger and french fry night.  There were a lot of reasons that I liked to eat my Nana and Pappy’s; one of those reasons was that they had “real” milk.  It was always very cold because that’s the way Pappy liked it and there was always plenty.  They had a special half-gallon carton holder that looked like this:

When my younger sister started school and had “real” milk every day, she began refusing to drink the powdered milk at home.  While I hadn’t been brave enough to do this on my own, I quickly followed her lead and my mom gave up and began to buy “real” milk.  I started drinking skim about 30 years ago and I’m still a big milk drinker all these years later.  My mom doesn’t understand how I can drink skim and  has suggested more than once that I “might as well go back to powdered milk”.  Yes, after all these years, she still remembers how we “forced” her to buy milk.

My milkman told me yesterday when he was making our delivery that big local dairies are going to discontinue skim milk production for a bit.  Apparently skim milk requires more steps and production time; during our current crisis, trying to keep up with demand means cutting out skim so more easily produced milks can make it to market faster.  Who would have thought?  Guess I’ll be on a higher fat milk for a while.

Do you remember any meals you enjoyed at your grandparents’?

Birth Announcement

The Birch Aquarium is throwing a baby shower!  They have just welcome two very rare babies – weedy sea dragons.  Apparently sea dragons  are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity and the aquarium has been trying for years.

Sea dragons, as you can see, look like little flotsams of seaweed and are actually distant cousins to the seahorse.  The Birch actually acquired their first sea dragons after years of successful work with other sea horse varieties.  In the wild, most sea dragon species call the waters of Australia home.

The two new additions are about an inch long and will feed primarily on shrimp, like their parents.  At this point, it is now known the gender of the babies; according to the Birch, they “likely won’t know until they reach sexual maturity in a few years. “This bit of sea dragon news caught my eye because we have sea dragons at the Minnesota Zoo; we’ve had them for years, so I didn’t realize they were rare.  In fact, while YA is joyfully trailing her hands in the shark/ray pool (which she can do for a LONG time), I almost always wander over to watch the sea dragons.  Their alcove is kept dark and they are mesmerizing as they float through their habitat, their “weeds” floating gracefully around them.

Do you have a favorite exotic animal?