The Suitcase Lady


February 14, 2017, 8:54 pm

I love old fashioned movies where the romantic couple finds one another and lives happily ever after…….with each other.

Unfortunately, most modern romantic films don’t work that way any more. Two people do find each other, they do fall in love and they do find happiness in being together. But in the end they go their separate ways because each needs to become a super celebrity or another Steve Jobs. End of movie. Stardom wins. It’s all about the “me”.

The fatal flaw, the big lie in this type of movie is obvious: only one in a jillion of us is going to be a superstar. Most everyone is an average, ordinary person muddling through life. If we hitch our wagons to a celebrity star, we most likely will end up in an emotional black hole.

I am not against ambition, determination and achievement. But finding time for each other, those who make our lives rich and happy, those who love us, is equally important.

Since I’m a hopeless romantic and it is Valentines Day, I will end with this statement from President Jimmy Carter. “The best thing I ever did was marrying Rosalynn.”

After 70 years of marriage, this couple proves it’s possible to be partners and succeed in both love and work. And it is also worth noting that they both have retained a terrific sense of humor.

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February 7, 2017, 9:09 am

My paternal grandmother knew how to multipurpose her kitchen chairs. She hung her pasta to dry over the chair backs. Being thoroughly German, grandmother made noodles. The noodles were used mainly for her wonderful homemade chicken soup. Leftover noodles were fried in butter for a quick, easy supper.

I never learned how to make pasta from her, and my mother was strictly a Creamettes woman. My lack of ability in the homemade pasta department, however, does not disqualify me as a member in good standing in the pasta fan club. A week without pasta is a sad week and a two pasta week is not excessive.

Pasta in its multiple shapes and sizes is the ultimate comfort food. Even the names of pastas are delightful….

Conchiglioni- large shells
Farfalle- butterflies
Orecchiette- little ears
Radiatore- radiators
Rotelle- little wheels
Mostaccioli- mustaches
Vermicelli- little worms

Turning pasta into a delicious, anticipated meal can take fifteen minutes or be a major production. Cooks of all ability levels can get satisfaction from creating a homemade pasta dinner. Boxed or frozen pasta entrees seem superfluous.

Pasta also gets stars for being an economical entree. Pasta, baby peas, a dollop of butter, fresh basil, lemon rind and a sprinkle of grated Italian cheese is a feast which costs little to concoct. The leftover money can be spent on wine.

One of my favorite children’s books is “More Spaghetti, I Say”, by Rita Golden Gelman. The main character, a monkey named Minnie, has a spaghetti fixation:

“I need more. More spaghetti, I say. I love it. I love it so much!
I love it on pancakes with ice cream and ham. With pickles and cookies, bananas and jam. I love it with mustard and marshmallow stuff. I eat it all day. I just can’t get enough.”

My sentiments exactly.

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January 31, 2017, 10:36 pm

Christo and his late wife, Jeanne-Claude, are internationally famous installation artists who wrap things up. Whereas we ordinary people wrap packages and presents, this couple thinks more monumentally. They have wrapped the German Reichstag, an ancient Roman wall, a Spoleto fountain, a medieval tower, the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, a coast in Australia, a park of trees and the Pont Neuf Bridge in Paris.

When not wrapping, the pair has surrounded eleven Florida islands in shocking pink fabric, erected 1,340 blue umbrellas in Japan and 1,760 yellow umbrellas in California. Millions of visitors viewed their 7,503 orange fabric gates in Central Park.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude were born on the same day, June 13, 1935, he in Gabrovo, Bulgaria and she in Casablanca, Morocco of French parents. The two met in Paris in 1958 when Christo painted a portrait of Jeanne-Claude’s mother. They began collaborating on art projects in Europe, moved to America in 1964 and made New York their home base. Both became American citizens. Years of teamwork ended in 2009 when Jeanne-Claude died from a brain aneurysm.

According to the couple, the purpose of their gigantic constructions is to create works of art for joy and beauty. They financed their works entirely through selling the preparatory drawings and collages for the projects. No licensing deals were ever entered into, and all workers on their installations were paid. The locales where their artworks were constructed reaped huge windfalls of tourist dollars.

Although all of their works took years or decades to come to fruition, none exist at the moment. They were all created to be temporal; some existed only a fortnight.

Until last week, Christo was working on the final stages of his largest project, a silvery, 42 mile canopy floating over the Arkansas River in Colorado. He has invested over 20 years and 15 million of his own dollars into “Over the River”. The artist now has cancelled the project.

An excerpt from an interview of Christo by a New York Times reporter follows:

“Christo said the Job-like patience required in seeking approval for his projects has always been an element of the spirit of the projects themselves. He needs to feel passion about them, in the same way a more traditional painter and sculptor does, he added. But in this case, ‘that pleasure is gone because of the nature of the new administration. I am not excited about the project anymore’, he said. ‘Why should I spend more money on something I don’t want to do?’ “

Perhaps Christo could become interested in wrapping The Statue of Liberty. That would be apropos of the moment.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin 1971-95 Photo- A. Kasimir Ciesielski C1995 Christo | by

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January 24, 2017, 9:25 pm

One of our best Christmas presents was a fifty pound bag of peanuts. Two people and a herd of cats obviously cannot eat an almost unliftable bag of nuts. The squirrels in the Tooley Café, however, are in an elevated state of bliss.

The peanuts came with a red, metal, doughnut-shaped dispenser. Minutes after we hung the contraption from a branch in our Café the squirrels arrived, both the big grays and the little reds.

They use two methods to get at the treasure within; the top down approach via branches and the bottom up approach. The Tooley Café chair (which washed up on the beach one day) is used for the later.

The squirrels take turns pulling out the nuts, racing away with the nuts in their mouths and shortly returning for more. We deduce there is a lot of caching going on here. Either that or our squirrels just like to eat in privacy, and we’ll soon have the fattest squirrels in the neighborhood.

The squirrels do have some competition. Our resident family of five blue jays loves the peanuts. They wait patiently on a branch a few feet above the feeder for a squirrel to leave. Then they jump down to extract a nut before a squirrel returns. They have to work hard to free a nut from the metal cage; beaks apparently aren’t as skilled at this task as squirrel paws. After scoring the peanuts, the jays fly up onto a higher branch and bang the nuts on the branch until they open.

Thus far, despite the flurry of activity, harmony reigns around the feeder, with one exception. One jay finds it easier to grab the peanut out of his friend’s beak than to do the work of extricating it from the cage.

There has been a new development the last several mornings. The squirrel feeder is missing when we wake up. My husband has to go searching for it in the woods. This has all the earmarks, or paw marks, of raccoons. Apparently, there have been some big peanut parties in the woods at night lately. The squirrel feeder now has a curfew… it goes into the garage when night falls.

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January 17, 2017, 8:52 pm

About three week ago, I got winter out of the closet. Ever since studying Japanese art in college, I have followed the Japanese concept of living with artworks in tune with the seasons. So when the first heavy snowfall covered the ground, the time had come to bring out the winter pictures.

Over the years I have gathered a collection of art and ephemera from multiple sources. I have bought wonderful art in galleries, but also from thrift stores. Many of our artworks have been gifts from artists, others are pictures I’ve cut out of magazines and discarded library books. I am also a devotee of affiche…..I’ve been known to remove posters from walls, but only after the event advertised on them has past.

Our art is displayed throughout the house. We do not have a tokonoma, a Japanese alcove for displaying seasonal art, but our white wavy shelf serves that purpose. Here is our winter gallery, provenance included.


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