On the Dot

Today Bill and I cleaned out his closet. I cleaned out the cabinets in both bathrooms. I went through my pantry with a fine tooth comb, tossing everything that I could bear to toss. I even went so far as throwing away my cookie tins, or at least the large ones. I kept the smaller ones. By 1 o’clock this afternoon, I was limping around the house like Chester from Gunsmoke.

My instructions were to put green dots on the things that we want to take with us. At this point, I’m focusing all of my attention on figuring out what earns a green dot. Remember the Seinfeld episode in which Elaine has to figure out which of the men she dates is “spongeworthy?” I’m in a similar situation, figuring out what is “green dot worthy.” I keep reminding Bill that anything that doesn’t have a green dot will not come with us and he will never see it again.

We sign our paperwork on Wednesday and get our keys and possession of our apartment on Friday. I have to put a lot of green dots out there between now and Monday. Therefore, I am warning you that you likely won’t hear from this blogger until next week. I will try to drop in a time or two, but if you don’t see my blog, never fear: like the Terminator, I’LL BE BACK.

Friday Book Whimsy: The Hotel Nantucket.

Author Elin Hilderbrand is a prolific author, known for what is termed her “beach reads.” As much as I read, and as much as I enjoy a summer read, I have never read a book by this author. It won’t be the last one, because I enjoyed The Hotel Nantucket very much.

The Hotel Nantucket was once a well-respected hotel, known for entertaining the well-to-doers who habitat Nantucket Island in the summer. Unfortunately, the hotel suffered a serious fire in 1922 that killed a housekeeper, whose restless spirit wanders the hotel waiting for someone to discover the truth about the fire and putting her at peace.

Much like the hotel, Lizbeth Keaton has also suffered a setback, breaking up with her long-time fiance, with whom she ran a successful restaurant, after learning that he was involved with another woman. She leaves him and the restaurant behind. Lizbeth is delighted to be hired by billionaire Xavier Darling to run the completely remodeled Hotel Nantucket. Darling purchased the old hotel and spent millions bringing the it back to life. Everything about the hotel is perfect. The restaurant is run by a famous chef. The spa is magnificent. The rooms are sheer perfection with not a wrinkle or spot of dust to be found. The question is, can Lizbeth and her staff — all who have complicated histories and secrets — meet Darling’s goal: to receive a perfect score from the hotel critic who can make or break hotels? Thus far, no one has ever received a perfect score.

The hotel occupants have as many secrets as the staff. Shortly after the hotel opens, a mysterious woman and her two adorable children arrive, asking for a room for an unknown period of time. What’s more, she will pay cash, and money is no object.

The story is told from different vantage points, but it isn’t confusing at all. And the ghost of Grace, the housekeeper who died in the fire, isn’t a bit offputting. She’s merely an observer, and, while she plays a strong role in the story, it isn’t in any way a ghost story.

The Hotel Nantucket is a luscious novel that leaves the reading wishing they were rich enough to afford the thousand dollar rooms.

I loved this book.

Here is a link to the book.

Can You Spare a Dime

Tuesday we took a break from packing to make a quick trip to Fort Collins to help my sister Jen celebrate a landmark birthday. She turned 65 yesterday, which in my estimation allows her to officially be called a senior citizen. Thus, the landmark label. Bring on the AARP and Medicare benefits.

We had a wonderful celebration involving Oregano’s Pizza and including our granddaughter Adelaide. I asked Jen if she wanted to drive, and she was quick with her no way, Jose. It was her birthday, after all, and I was treating…..

Two bellinis later…..

It was such a last-minute decision that Bill and I packed nothing more than two toothbrushes, a travel toothpaste tube that had about three more squirts in it, deodorant, our technology, and the clothes on our backs. So when we arrived back home yesterday midday, we were sad sacks. Unshaven, unshowered, wearing the same clothes we had worn the day before, and tired of being in the car. Between all of Bill’s recent doctors’ appointments, I’m beginning to consider my Honda a second home.

I decided I had enough energy left in me to make orange chicken with broccoli for dinner. And when I say “make,” I mean going to Trader Joe’s and buying the package of frozen orange chicken and adding broccoli to the mix. Our nearest Trader Joe’s is about a 15 minute drive through Cherry Hills Village, Denver’s wealthiest suburb. It’s where Peyton Manning lives. It’s also where our new QB Russell Wilson lives. I don’t know if I drove by either one of their houses. I didn’t see a sign in any of the front yards that read I’m paid $245 million dollars and Coach didn’t give me the ball at the end of the game. Thus, I don’t think I drove past Russell Wilson’s house.

Anyhoo, all of those rich people shop at that particular Trader Joe’s. I shop there often, but generally I’m not looking like a homeless person. I couldn’t help but notice all of the fit women with their sandy blonde hair tied back in a bun on which they spent a full hour making look messy. They all had on Lulu Lemon yoga clothing. The combined value of their diamond wedding rings could feed a village in Myanmar for years.

I didn’t care, though, because even though I looked like I could carry a sign saying Vietnam vet needs money for brain surgery, God bless, I love shopping at Trader Joe’s. I wander up and down the aisles dreaming of all of the frozen meals I could make from their freezer case. But I remained loyal to my commitment to emptying out my fridge and freezer as much as I could before we move. So I purchased only what I set out to purchase and nothing more. Not even flowers.

I promise a shower and deodorant is forthcoming.

Crab is More Than Grass

Yesterday morning, we were on our way to Bill’s final audiologist appointment following the acquisition of his much-needed hearing aids. We were behind a Lyft driver at a stoplight, and the light turned green. The driver Lyft didn’t move. I waited a few moments, and gave a friendly honk. Well, to be honest , it wasn’t that friendly because as usual, we were in a hurry. The Lyft driver put on her blinker, indicating that she intended to turn left when she got the arrow. Unfortunately, she wasn’t in the turn lane. Poor soul. I roared around her, and I will admit that I wasn’t using Christian language. I was afraid to look back to see what carnage she left when she turned left out of a non-turn lane.

When we successfully merged onto I-225, I explained to Bill that I planned to give up getting angry at drivers for Lent. Then I realized that Ash Wednesday was 162 days away and it wasn’t even Advent yet.

“Well, of course I could give up getting angry at drivers right now,” I reluctantly admitted. “I guess it doesn’t have to be a Lenten sacrifice.” Crazy notion.

Unfortunately, it was that kind of a day. Thirty minutes later, we arrived at UC Health — which has a huge campus that comprises many kinds of health care. You might imagine that they have ample parking for such a huge campus. However, on that given morning every person in the Denver metropolitan area decided to visit UC Health, whether they had a doctor in that facility or not. “Honey, let’s go take a drive around UC Health and see if we stumble across any dead people.” I drove around every parking lot in the area, along with dozens of other hopeful drivers, and there was not an empty space to be found. I finally ended up dropping Bill off in front of the building, and heading off to have a cup of coffee at the ubiquitous Starbucks.

A bit later, Bill called to tell me he was finished with his appointment and ready to be picked up by his chauffeur his wife. He got in the car, and I was ready to take off when he noticed that his right hearing aid was missing in action. It had apparently come off when he removed his face mask. We looked and looked and looked. We prayed and prayed and prayed for St. Anthony’s (patron saint of lost items) intercession, all to no avail. The hearing aid is gone forever.

At this point, after having spent a fortune on window coverings, the $1,500 to replace one hearing aid seems like chicken feed. Still and all…..

I don’t know exactly why, but things just seem more difficult these days. I don’t know if it’s that the world has gone crazy, or just the fact that I’m getting older and less patient. Perhaps 20 years ago, I would have been amused by the fact that there was a distinct shortage of parking at a health facility.

The reality is that, despite yesterday’s blog post in which I stated that I was looking upon my messy house as a work of art, the mess is making me crabby. Once I’m settled into a clean, unmessy apartment, I will once again have a sunny nature.

Bill’s not holding his breath.

You Call It Clutter, I Call It Art

For most of the summer, but particularly the past few weeks, we have been residing in what I would almost call living hell. There are boxes upon boxes in our living room, my kitchen counters are so full of stuff that it is nearly impossible to prepare a meal more complicated than a bowl of cereal, our bedroom is like a minefield, making it dangerous to try to make it to the bathroom during the night. I have piles of things designated for Goodwill, boxes designated for the movers, piles of junk that will leave with Gone For Good.

But I was delighted to come upon an article from apartmenttherapy.com which explains that my mess isn’t clutter; rather, it’s a statement against minimalism, an expression of yourself, a work of art. They refer to it as maximalism, a word I can wrap my head around these days. My maximalism can beat your minimalism any day of the week.

According to Arnold d’Alger, a Frenchman over whom I’m apparently supposed to be very excited but have never heard of, he is filling his 915 square foot apartment with things that hold an emotional significance. He is calling it cluttercore. I like that. I am currently decorating my 2,800 square feet house in the style of cluttercore. Mr. d’Alger goes on to say, “The style of the apartment was not defined in advance, it’s just an accumulation of things we love.”

Boom.

The only difference between Arnold and me is that he is purposely messing up his apartment. I, on the other hand, am simply in over my head. Still, it makes me happy to know that I can call it cluttercore rather than a hot mess.

Arnie is a strong proponent of hanging art underneath your windows, maybe in clusters. Similarly, I have art under my windows, but the art pieces are simply on the floor, leaning up against the windows, stacked one on another. It’s just a new take on your unique style, Arnold. Mine are just waiting to see if they will make the cut.

He goes on to explain that he divides the room up into sections, separating them with hanging plants and plants on the floor. I’m unable to replicate this look because I dumped most of my plants into our composting bins the other day, giving the two that escaped the compost bin to my niece Jessie. My rooms are separated by walls.

Soon I will be moving away from my current maximalism to what I hope will be a modified form of minimalism. I want my house to look homey rather than stark, but I can’t wait for the time when I won’t have to jump over boxes in my bedroom like O.J. Simpson trying to get to his plane on time. (Likely only Boomers will understand that reference.)

Two weeks and counting.

It’s a FamilyAffair

Little by little, things are disappearing from this house. Oh, don’t worry. We don’t have a secret burglar. Things are disappearing to our delight and with our blessing.

On Saturday, my niece Jessie and her boyfriend Rob came to pick up our piano. I was absolutely delighted weeks ago when she said she would gladly accept our piano for her home. It turns out she had purchased a keyboard a few weeks before we announced that we were moving, and has been studying the piano on her own using that keyboard and her iPhone. Jessie coerced her boss into helping move the unexpectedly heavy piano. Why it was unexpected is because a few years ago, we were putting in new flooring and didn’t know how to move the piano. It so happened that an electrician was doing some work. Bill offered him cash to help him lift the piano up one step back into the living room. Bill later professed that he did little work and the man lifted the piano completely by himself. The two men, along with Bill and Jessie (who probably weighs 100 lbs. soaking wet) got the piano to the truck/trailer, but had no clue how they were going to lift it onto the trailer…..

Fortunately (at least fortunately for us, though perhaps not them) our neighbor and a friend drove up at exactly that time. Using what few charms I have left these days, I convinced them to help lift the piano. It made it safely to their home, where Jessie immediately began practicing…..

On Sunday, Bill’s eldest, Allen, showed up to help clear out the garage. He worked for literally hours, even went as far as getting up in the attic above the garage to empty it completely out. In addition to a few more camping supplies, he found an old cash register that had been there when we moved in. He also found a wooden wine barrel with some dried-grapes, indicating that at some point, someone had used the grapes that grew on our back fence and at least attempted to make wine. Who knew? Not us.

As for Allen, he took the two travel bikes with which we never traveled and my beloved Weber grill. He also intends to return and take one of Bill’s tool chests along with some of his tools. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see these things go to a friendly home.

While Allen was busily cleaning our garage, Jll and Alastair arrived to pick up our outdoor dining table and the four chairs. “Where are you going to put them?” I asked her. “I’m going to replace the outdoor set you gave me years ago before you bought this set,” she replied. Again, good home.

When Court and his family come next Saturday, our patio will be pert near empty, and that’s a good thing.

In addition to the ancient cash register and the wine barrel, Allen also came across this sewing chest…..

I recognized it immediately. It belonged to my grandmother, and in those mysterious ways in which we end up with things, I ended up with her little chest. I used it for years, and have no recollection as to why it made its way to the attic above the garage. At any rate, I immediately called my sister Jen, and she is delighted to claim ownership. It needs a bit of dusting, perhaps some loving care, and perhaps a screw or two, but it belonged to Grammie, so it will be loved.

Finally, while going through a box that belonged to Mom and Dad (again, no clue as to how I ended up with it, I found a collection of photos. This was one that made my heart melt…..

The photo is of my sister Bec at about 5 years old. She rocked the crooked bangs for which we were all famous (though admittedly, hers has a bit of a perky swoop to the side).

I loved the buried treasure I’m coming across these days.

Saturday Smile: Cool, Man

After a period of unusually hot weather, finally yesterday seemed more like typical September weather. I have said before that I love Indian Summer, with its warm days and cool nights. What I haven’t loved is our hot days and all-too-warm nights. Yesterday the high was unusually low, but it will taper off and the next week looks to offer typically warm days and cool nights. That makes me smile.

Our niece is picking up the piano later today, so it will be nice weather to move a heavy instrument. The living room will look empty, but that’s okay. Little by little, we are getting ready to move.

Have a great weekend.

Surrey With the Fringe on the Top

In memory of Queen Elizabeth II, I am repeating the one-and-only blog post I wrote that featured Her Highness. May she rest in peace. God save the King.

Chicks and ducks and geese better scurry
When I take you out in my surrey
When I take you out in my surrey with the fringe on top. – Rodgers and Hammerstein

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Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae (didn’t he star in every Rodgers and Hammerstein movie ever made?)

I recently finished reading a book that had to do with my secret addiction – anything having to do with the British royal family. I am embarrassed to admit it, but I can’t get enough of the Dysfunctional- Family-To-End-All-Dysfunctional-Families. We all have our dirty little secrets and being a Windsorphile is one of mine.

One of the more useless pieces of information that I learned from the book was that the Queen’s favorite song is People Will Say We’re in Love. She loves it so much, in fact, that she has it played every morning for her, by a piper outside her bedroom window. I think it’s a pretty song, but after about 5 minutes’ worth of Rodgers and Hammerstein on a bagpipe, I would ask them to stop. Please, please stop. Never come back. Off with his head.

Anyhoo, if you’re an avid musical fan, you will recognize, as did I, that People Will Say We’re in Love is from one of the many Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals. I couldn’t, however, recall which one. Carousel? South Pacific? State Fair? Something where the main female character wears a dirndl skirt and looks longingly into her soon-to-be boyfriend’s eyes as she sings to her. That much I knew. So, like any intelligent person in the 21st century, I Googled it.

It’s from Oklahoma. Shirley Jones sings it wearing gingham. I’ll bet Queen Elizabeth II has never owned a single item in her life made of gingham. Nevertheless, it was the first song that she and her prince danced to, so it’s “their song” and her favorite. She has a right.

Princess Elizabeth and Lt Philip Mountbatten after their wedding November 1947. Mirrorpix/Courtesy Everett Collection (MPWA574514)

Princess Elizabeth and Lt Philip Mountbatten after their wedding November 1947. Mirrorpix/Courtesy Everett Collection (MPWA574514)

But it got me to looking at what other songs of note came from that particular musical. I can’t say I knew a whole lot of them. There is, of course, Oh, What a Beautiful Morning. But I don’t think Pore Jud is Daid, or The Farmer and the Cowman ever made it to the Top 40. But then I saw it: The Surrey With the Fringe on the Top.

And I thought of my dad.

He never owned a surrey with or without fringe, at least as far as I know. But I have a VIVID recollection of him singing that particular song as part of a men’s musical choir originating in Columbus, Nebraska, when they performed on a local Omaha television station. Chicks and ducks and geese better scurry…..

My dad had a beautiful tenor voice. He was, as I have mentioned before, a gifted musician. He was part of the Navy band during World War II. More importantly, at least as it relates to me, he played clarinet and saxophone as part of a dance band directed by one of my mother’s brothers. It was as part of that band that my mom and dad met. She collected money at the door and he sat and stared at her with his tongue hanging out (those would have been my mom’s words). The rest, as they say, is history.

I actually never heard my dad play either one of those instruments. He had long ceased playing in the band by time I was born. I have long suspected that music was how my father WISHED he could have earned his living; baking, however, was more realistic for a family man.

I did, however, hear my father sing on many, many occasions. He sang in the choir at St. Bonaventure Catholic Church in Columbus for many years. And he would still sing loud and clear with the congregation long after leaving the choir.

And then, of course, he sang as part of the Apollo Club, a choir started in Columbus in 1946, headed up by the local musical guru Forest L. Corn. Mr. Corn owned Columbus Music, and also taught band at the public high school where my dad was a student. In fact, it was Mr. Corn who persuaded my father to join the band, thereby changing the course of my dad’s life. My dad always felt a bit guilty because he admitted to me one time that he only joined the band to get out of working in the bakery after school.

But back to my father’s singing voice. It was beautiful, as anyone who heard it would attest to. It was the clearest tenor voice I had ever heard. Well, there was Andy Williams, but hey! I was 6 or 7, and it was my dad! Seriously, however, he really did sing beautifully, and kept the clear tone until he was pretty darn old. God bless him. He’s undoubtedly singing now with the angels.

I think the Apollo Club dissolved sometime in the 70s. But I can still picture the group of men in their matching tuxedoes singing that song on our little black and white television. I think of that every time I hear it. Every. Single. Time.

Watch that fringe and see how it flutters
When I drive them high steppin’ strutters
Nosey pokes’ll peek thru their shutters
And their eyes will pop….

For that tiny little surrey with the fringe on the top!

Thursday Thoughts

Strangers in the Night
Yesterday morning, our doorbell rang. I answered the door and there were two very pleasant-looking people standing there — a man and a woman. “Hi, are you Kris?” the woman asked. “Yes,” I answered tentatively. It so happens that it was the people from the estate sale company who our realtor had asked to come take a look to see if we have enough worth holding an estate sale. As it turns out, the said after we took what we want to take with us to Wind Crest, we probably wouldn’t even break even. My feelings weren’t hurt. In fact, the only feeling I had at all was used to having strangers come into my home and figure out how to help us move. The fact is, our real estate agent told me they were coming, but I’m so goofy these days that I had no recollection. She did agree to check into selling the parade saddle. That’s keeping me up at night.

Dust Bowl
Yesterday morning, Bill and I tackled our house attic (not to be confused with our garage attic). I knew that the predominant items in that attic were going to be Christmas decorations, and I was right. There were six full boxes or Christmas decorations that I haven’t touched for five or six years. Oh, and don’t forget the two artificial trees to go along with the three that are in the basement. Two of them will come to WC with us, but the others need to go bye-bye. I went through all of the items in the boxes and pulled out a few to take with us. It was like looking at all new decorations because I had forgotten what I had. After all was said and done, I’ve ended up with four full boxes to take to Goodwill.

Masons Anyone?
I also cleaned out some more cabinets in the kitchen. In fact, I’m almost done with the kitchen except for the pantry. I filled up an entire Whole Foods Bag with lids for the multitude of Mason jars I own. I did a lot of canning in my day, but I think that’s a pastime for, well, the past. I don’t see myself putting up tomatoes given that I won’t be growing them. I bet I have 30 jars of various sizes. The jelly jars I plan to give to Dagny for when she harvests her honey.

Visitors From the East
I FaceTimed with our Vermont family this past weekend. I was excited to learn that the four of them plan to fly to Denver for Bill’s 80th birthday celebration on October 22. This is their year to come for Christmas, so we will see them twice in the next few months. Hooray!

Ciao.