Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Siamese Chairs

I was sitting in the mostly empty waiting area of a doctor's office, staring at a lovely print of a meandering river flowing between a slumbering field and rolling autumnal hills, minding my own business, when I distinctly heard an argument taking shape. The raised voices seemed to be coming from a set of identical connected chairs just to my right.

"People do so like me more!" the chair farthest away from me proclaimed.

"No, they don't!" announced the chair closest to me. "I think we're chosen equally." (I was pretty sure I heard her mutter, "But, really, me more!")

"I heard that! And you've got a screw loose, I tell you!" the first chair declared. "I'm an aisle seat...obviously a prime location."

"Well, I'm next to a table - with magazines, I might add!" chair number two retorted haughtily. "You don't have a leg to stand on if you seriously think you're more popular."

"Take that back!" demanded the first seat. "I bet the next human chooses me, and then we'll just see!"

At that moment, a woman with two toddlers entered the waiting area. She plopped each one into one of the bickering chairs and went up to the counter to register. The tiny humans immediately began to slap one another, but repeatedly managed to stop just before their mother caught them in the act. The chairs let out what everyone else must have assumed to be a loud creak, but I'm sure I heard a syncronous, exasperated "You win!"

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Coffee Mug

I am a coffee addict. It is most definitely an addiction. I love coffee so much I even make earrings out of coffee beans. As a coffee lover, I have designated mugs for home and for work. My three work mugs hold between 28 ounces and 10 cups (yes, 10 cups - my daughter had a mug custom made for me as a Christmas gift). My home mugs average around 16-20 ounces.  I drink out of a home mug while I'm getting ready for work, and take a work mug with me when I leave. One of my favorite home mugs (it's maroon with my favorite Disney character on it) was given to me by my son. Imagine my surprise when I sat down this morning to put on my eye make-up and heard Piglet's distinctive voice greet me:

G-G-Good morning! I hope I d-d-didn't startle you.

Oh, I'm just happy I didn't spill any coffee! (I suddenly realized that I was talking to my coffee cup!) Piglet???

I know I'm just a very small animal, b-b-but this is a rather large cup. I was afraid you w-w-wouldn't notice that I was here. (His hands were behind his back and his little chinny chin chin was practically touching his chest.)

Of course I know you're here, you silly little pig. (I heard him giggle.)

C-C-Christopher Robin calls P-P-Pooh "silly old bear." This is the f-f-first time I've ever been called "silly little p-p-pig!" Wait 'til I tell Pooh!

(He giggled again, and catching a glimpse of my mug through my eyelash curler, it almost seemed as if he shyly kicked out his left foot.) You don't mind being on such a large mug, do you?

Oh, no. N-N-Not at all. I'm on much b-b-bigger things than this. As a very small animal, I have to g-g-get used to mostly everything being bigger than m-m-me.

(I have Piglet pencils, Piglet candy tins, Piglet figurines - my favorite is him seated wearing a scarf, which I keep on my dashboard - and a small pink plastic outline of him on the back window of my van. I wondered if my van was one of the "bigger things" he was talking about. So, I asked him.) Is my van one of the bigger things you mentioned being on?

Oh, yes. Of c-c-course.

(I suddenly had quite a few questions for Piglet.) Oh, my gosh! What about when this mug goes in the dishwasher? What happens to you?

I just g-g-go somewhere else!

(I really had to ponder that for a moment.) go somewhere else? Uh, how? Where?

I don't know, but it's just like in the Hundred Acre W-W-Wood...sometimes I'm tidying up my little house, and then the n-n-next thing you know, I'm playing P-P-Pooh sticks with Pooh, Eeyore and Tigger!

(Having watched many episodes of Pooh, I knew exactly what he was talking about. I said "So long" to Piglet, placed the maroon mug on the counter next to the sink - someone else could put it in the dishwasher! - and headed out the door. While I was walking past the back of my van on my way into work, I could have sworn I heard a small voice say "S-S-So long!") 


My husband and I went to London and Paris for our honeymoon. At the time, we had no living room furniture in our apartment and I remember having to justify our choice to my father (who thought we were nuts): "Furniture may come and go, but we'll have these memories forever." So, off we went - chairless, but happy. Thirty-six years and seven couches later, we still love reminiscing about that trip. I am actually reminded of it every single day, because at Miss Selfridge in London, I bought a little 5-inch plexiglass stand-up mirror (with a delicate hand holding a rose etched on it - it was 1976 - that kind of stuff was really cool then!). Imagine my surprise when I reached for that mirror and heard this:

Hullo, Duckie! (The mirror sounded exactly like Judi Dench - not as the royalty she portrayed in "Mrs. Brown" or "Shakespeare in Love," but as Jean Pargetter in "As Time Goes By.") Need any help with anything today?

I don't suppose you can do anything about the wrinkles? (She chuckled.) Well, anyway, I can't seem to get my eyebrows to match up this time. Don't you think the left one makes me look like I'm perpetually surprised?

Come a bit closer. (I leaned forward.) Hmmm. (She paused.) Yes, I see what you mean. Have you your tweezers?

(I quickly removed them from my sparse make-up basket. They were not hard to find.) Here they are!

Splendid! Now, see that hair smack in the center of your right, not that one...over...over...that's it...remove that one.

(I did as the mirror instructed. Now I looked doubly surprised.) Ummm, I'm not sure that worked.

Oh, dear. Yes. I think you're right. Well, that can be easily mended. (She then had me pull a few hairs from the left, go back and pull a few from the right, and then back to the left. When she was done, my eyebrows were so thin they sort of looked like the pencil lines actresses in the 1930's sported instead of real eyebrows - and I still appeared perpetually surprised.) Oh, dear-oh-dear. I think you may have gone too far.

(I knew she meant no harm, so I couldn't very well blame her for my new, unexpected look.) Oh, well. No worries. Maybe I can start a new trend. (We both laughed, and I put her back in the basket.) See you tomorrow! (I headed right to my computer to Google how long it would take for eyebrows to grow back, and wondered whether I had enough sick days to cover it.)


[Just a note on this one: I wrote this three days before the news of Judi Dench's macular degeneration was disclosed. Even though it is an object that would be useless without vision, this mirror absolutely had her voice.  Even so, I seriously considered changing it to Maggie Smith. It just didn't work. It was, and always will be to me, definitely Judi Dench's Jean Pargetter.)

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I wear the same two chain bracelets on the same wrist every day. One was given to me by my college-attending son when he was in elementary school (it's silver) and the other was a Christmas gift from around the same time from my husband, daughter and son (it's gold). The only time I don't wear them is when I'm having a "don't leave the house" day. Last Spring, we went to Princeton's Communiversity Day and almost immediately after we arrived, I bought a black, copper and gold bangle bracelet from an organization raising money to help prevent river blindness in Africa. The bracelet is just my style - understated, very earthy, and meaningful. I wore it all the rest of the day, then tucked it into a drawer. I have not worn it since. It's not because I don't want to, but because I'm just so used to my two favorites that I can't bring myself to switch. Imagine my surprise when I opened the drawer this morning while getting ready for work and a lyrically melodious voice greeted me with these words: "Will you wear me today?" Somehow I knew it wasn't my perfume or a headband speaking.

Well, um, you see, today I thought....

Oh, I see. Another day you will choose not to wear me. (It sounded so dejected.)

Oh please don't think of it that way. I admire you every time I open this drawer (which was true!). I just imagine the clinking and clanging of your hitting my desk while I'm at work all day and then, oh dear, I...uh...I choose not to wear you. Oh, geez, I am sorry.

Quite right. But what about when you weren't going to work? What about when you went to New York to see "The 39 Steps" off-Broadway? (How did it know that?) Or when you went to Olive Garden for your daughter's birthday?

Hey, wait a second. How do you know about that stuff?

This is a drawer, remember? You put your theater stubs in and you took out the "Buy One Get One Free" coupon. And, not to be bold or presumptuous, but you could easily choose to wear me when you decide to use your Panera gift card, you know.

(My bracelet was absolutely correct. I had had many opportunities to proudly wear it, but instead chose not to. I decided then and there that at the next non-work opportunity, I would most definitely choose to wear that bracelet.) You are so right! How do you feel about a trip to the veterinarian on Thursday evening? And then maybe to drop my son off at school? Oh, this is going to be such fun!

(Maybe it was just the shape of the bangle, but I could have sworn that bracelet smiled. One thing, though, that I can't quite figure out is where the two tiny voices I heard in the car all the way to work that morning were coming kept saying, "No, she won't" and the other kept rebutting, "Oh yes, she will." Oh well.)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I love pens. I always have. I love the act of writing, even if most times I can't stand what my penmanship looks like (a cross between printing and cursive, and way too large!). Even in high school and college, I'd rewrite French vocabulary, or historic dates, or math formulas - not just as reinforcement for my brain but because I simply love to write. Tonight, while waiting at college for my not-yet-driver-licensed son's class to finish, I had four pens to choose from (I always carry multiple writing implements) and so this was written with a lovely silvery-grey PaperMate Flair - black ink, ultra fine point - with a long black cap and silver clip. It's really quite posh-looking for being so utilitarian. Imagine my surprise when I heard the unmistakable voice of Cary Grant (not the fast-paced exasperated Cary Grant of "His Girl Friday" or "Bringing Up Baby," but the mature, debonair Cary Grant of "Charade.")

Ahh. Isn't this a simply wonderful evening? Breathtaking sunset...gentle breeze...perfect Spring-like day, wouldn't you agree?

(I admit I was slightly taken aback by my pen speaking to me, especially since it sounded like Cary Grant. I also had to admit that it was, in fact, very Spring-like considering it was February in New Jersey!) Uh...well...yes, as a matter of fact, it is a lovely day. We're way over 50 degrees, I think.

What a perfect day for a stroll in the park, or a boat ride on the river. Why don't we leave this place and get some fresh air? 

(Now, I'm slightly overweight [okay, a bit more than slightly] and I have a slight heart problem, and despite repeated promises to myself that I will begin exercising tomorrow, well, tomorrow just keeps on being tomorrow and so a walk, even with a pen that sounded just like Cary Grant, held no great appeal.) Couldn't we just stay cozy here in the van? It's only for another hour or so...

Why it's a shame to waste such a fine evening. After all, winter's fury has not yet shown itself and days like these may be few and far between. (He made a sort of "tsk-tsk" sound. With his accent, even the "tsk-tsk" lacked a truly reproachful tone.)

Oh, I know. Really I do. (Darn those tomorrows!) But we could play a game instead. Would that be okay?

A game? Hmmm. You don't say? My dear, I think you've got something!

(So, my pen and I played the game where you see how many words you can make out of another word. We ended up with 119 words from "ARCHIBALDLEACH" and had a simply marvelous time!)

Here are the words: are, arc, arch, arid, acrid, ace, ache, ale, aid, ade, a-ha, acid, air, ail, area, bald, bide, bid, bed, bad, bade, bale, bail, bar, beach, bear, bare, bled, birch, brace, bride, bridle, bard, blade, bill, ball, bleach, belch, bread, car, cad, cab, call, caller, called, care, cadre, clear, child, crab, crib, chair, chalice, cradle, chill, chide, char, chiller, card, dear, dire, dial, die, dice, dab, dale, deal, crab, dill, drill, ear, each, era, hear, heard, hard, herald, hair, hare, hail, held, heal, hill, hide, head, hall, ice, ire, ill, idle, idea, led, lad, lid, lice, lace, lied, lie, lair, lard, ladle, label, lab, liar, libel, liberal, lead, lea, rice, race, raid, rail, real, reach, rich, ribald, read, red and rid. Whew!! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


A few weeks ago I was innocently sitting at my desk in the den, alone in the house (well, except for our two cats), when I distinctly heard my name being called. The voice was sweet and smooth, rich and silky. I wasn't even scared, the voice was so calming. Imagine my surprise when I tracked the sound down to the chocolate bar sitting on the half-wall next to my desk.

Excuse me, but were you calling my name? 

Ohhh...I certainly was. (The chocolate bar's words flowed in a kind of Peggy Lee-ish, Mel Torme-ish, Nat King Cole-ish kind of way. I found myself mesmerized by its rhythmic cadence.) I was afraid you forgot I was here. Usually I'm not around for such a long, long time. (Really, it was only on the wall for about a week, and being a confirmed chocoholic, I was a little surprised when I found myself not immediately indulging.) 

Ummm...well...I'd really love to, but....

But?! (There was a slight hint of shock and surprise in the candy's otherwise dulcet demeanor.) Am I not appealing? (It was a chocolate hazlenut bar from favorite!)

On the contrary, you are most appealing! It's just that, well...

You're not on a diet again, are you?

Oh gosh, no. 

Well, then, come on! What's stopping you? (Then it sort of started singing.) Choc-o-late...hazle-nut...yum-yum-yum.

(It was torture. Finally I had to blurt out the truth.) I have a toothache! I can't even eat real food, much less chocolate! I knew you were there! I looked at you every single day! (I scooped up the candy bar and shoved it in a kitchen drawer.) I'm so sorry...

(A few weeks later, after having tooth #31 extracted and the gap having healed over, I opened the drawer to get the gravy ladle and there, glowing - yes, glowing and with angelic music playing - appeared my candy bar. I had forgotten all about it! So, that night after dinner, my dessert was the most delicious, creamy-nutty, smooth - and did I say delicious? - chocolate hazlenut candy bar!)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Dashboard

My fourteen year old Dodge Grand Caravan (which I've only known for nine of those years) has made four round trips from New Jersey to Disney World (well, 3-1/4 really), countless excursions to New York City, numerous forays to IKEA (in Elizabeth, NJ and our favorite in Conshohocken, PA) and has experienced neverending railfanning escapades. Except for major surgery in 2007 in Richmond, Virginia (yes...we had to leave it there for a new transmission and rent a van for the rest of the trip to Disney), it's been a real trooper. Naturally, though, along with our weary finances, the poor van has had to suffer through minor aches and pains without remedy. One of the most inconvenient maladies is the hit-or-miss dashboard. Sometimes it works, most times it doesn't. I am now a pro at judging my speed to within 2 mph. And, though I've come too close for comfort a few times, I have not yet run out of gas (knock wood!). This morning, after two full weeks in the dark, my dashboard finally decided to show itself again. Imagine my surprise when I received a response to my "Well, where have you been?"

Oh my. Have I been absent again? Dear, dear, dear. (The dashboard's voice was most definitely that of Edward Everett Horton, very much as he sounded in "Top Hat" with Fred and Ginger - see

It's been two weeks this time. I thought you were going for a new record.

Oh, heaven's no! Well, was it really two weeks? My, my, my. I simply can't imagine it's been that long. Two weeks, you say?

Uh-huh. (I happened to notice that an emergency stop at the nearest gas station was in my immediate future.)

Imagine that. Well, I simply have no recollection of it being that long. Certainly not. No recollection at all.

You do realize this has been going on for almost a year, don't you? And you're gone for longer periods of time than you're here!

Not really! You don't say? Well...what do you know? Hard to believe. Yes, yes. Just simply too hard to believe!

Apparently it's a huge job to fix, too. Any idea why you do it, or why you just can't stay on?

Oh no, none at all. Out of my control, I should imagine. Yes, that's it. Out of my control. Why, I don't even know when it happens. Comes from right out of the blue. Dear-oh-dear...right out of the blue!

If I ask nicely, can't you please stay a bit longer this time?

Love to. Yes, indeed, I'd simply love to. But, you see, I have nothing to do with it. Nothing at all. I'm here and then I'm not. Just like that. Here, and then not.

(I pulled into the gas station and turned off the ignition, hope-hope-hoping that when I turned it back on Mr. Horton would still be there. As my luck would have it, the rest of the ride to work as absolutely silent. But, as least now instead of being frustrated that my dashboard doesn't work, I look forward to those rare occasions when Edward Everett Horton accompanies me for the ride. Oh yes, indeed!)