“Getting the Blues”

After I had finally finished my year of getting rid of all the unnecessary belongings we had accumulated during the twenty years we have lived in this house, I began a project to repaint all the walls. I had painted and/or wallpapered every room when we moved in, but nothing had changed since then. Well, actually my stamina had changed between 54 and 74! I hired someone to pull down the old paper and paint the walls.

The second floor with its three bedrooms, a long hall, and one bathroom was our first project, one room at a time. I kept to a theme of yellow, blue and white. But that hardly narrowed it down. Each room gets different light and required me to choose just the right color. I found a light yellow fairly quickly for the hall. But then I had to deal with the blues.

The names of blues are very seductive, but they rarely give any real help in knowing what the paint tone actually is. For that I brought home both color cards,seen above, and about 40 individual color sample cards. I ended up with five different blue colors including Hollyhock, Bluebird, and Permafrost. None look remotely like their names.

Now on to the first floor. There the predominant color will be yellow, with blue and white accents. But after looking at the “warm colors” paint chart I seem to be confronted with another challenge to pick a variety of yellows. No wonder so many people have just surrendered to greige.

“Hanging On or Giving Back?”

Every adult seems to have some kind of reevaluation in mid life. I have been fascinated by how that dynamic plays out in the lives of the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife Mackenzie Scott Bezos. When more money than Croesus fails to provide satisfaction, where do people go? In the case of Jeff, apparently into a teenage boy’s fantasy life of a “bombshell” girl friend, a yacht and a rocket trip into space. In Mackenzie’s case into marriage with the science teacher at her children’s school. The above photos highlight the remarriage of each.(The photo of Jeff is typical of the ones he posts. I didn’t pick a particularly “revealing” one.)

More telling to me, however, is how each Bezos has chosen to deal with what seems to most of us as an obscene fortune. (Probably every one of my readers contributed to the wealth.) Yes it came from a good idea, but it also resulted in a massive dislocation to society and came from questionable treatment of workers. But as of last year, Jeff has given away 1% of his fortune, mostly for space travel, and Mackenzie has given 18% to a wide variety of causes including housing and education. She says she intends to give the money away “until the vault is empty.”

As for settling the mid life struggle we usually face, Jeff apparently thinks happiness is out in space. Mackenzie seems content to improve life here on earth.

“The Harder They Fall”

A number of statues have been taken down around the United States as people question who ought to be commemorated in bronze and who should go on the scrap heap. I have been interested in this issue and picked up Alex von Tunzelmann’s Fallen Idols:Twelve Statues That Made History(2021) to know more about the phenomenon.

She begins each chapter with the name, location, date of erection and date of removal of the statue. She includes ones from around the world, including Hungary’s Joseph Stalin(up in 1951 down in 1956,) South Africa’s monument to Cecil Rhodes(up in 1934 down in 2015,) and Belgium’s King Leopold II(up in Kinshasa in 1928 down in 1966, but up in Brussels in 1926 and still there.)

Each chapter thoroughly outlines the circumstances surrounding both the placing and the dismantling of each statue. The same discussions seems to take place no matter the location of the tribute, and the author challenges each statement which favors leaving the statue in place. Exploring and refuting the arguments of “the erasure of history,” “the man of his time,” “the importance of law and order,” and “the slippery slope” defense, she ultimately concludes we should simply quit memorializing people in large public bronze objects.

Whether or not you agree with her final conclusion, the author will definitely have given you more than a pat answer to any question about a statue: whether it should go up or if it is time for it to come down.

“Wait Training”

Lately whenever a service provider takes longer than what seems like 30 seconds to get to me she apologizes for making me wait. Since I have usually been oblivious to any inconvenience, it makes me wonder why the apology seems necessary. Similarly if when I pull forward as a light turns green in the time it takes me to put pressure on the gas pedal the person behind me is honking his horn. Apparently I am supposed to be ready in an instant to tear off from the stop. ( I don’t do that because so many people are running stop lights lately that I have to make sure no one is racing through.)

I think that a many people in American society have never had any “wait training.” Growing up, I had numerous occasions to learn to wait. Waiting was considered a virtue best taught through numberless opportunities to practice it. A phrase much used in connection with this schooling was “hold your horses.”

Dinner was at a set time. The time was set by my mother, not by the four of us. “Dinner will be ready when it is ready” was the clue that we were going to have another chance to learn to wait. As the oldest I was constantly told to “wait for your brother” or “wait for your sister.” This was not negotiable nor was any other opportunity to wait. “Don’t rush me.” “Keep your britches on.” More lessons.

Charlie and I lived in a house with one bathroom and three girls who needed to use it. This was graduate level training, particularly for Charlie! “I’ll be out in a minute” rarely had any meaning when it was uttered by a teen age girl. Of course that same girl could be heard to moan “Let me in–I’m dying out here.”

As I look at the picture of my grumpy self shown above, I admit that I wasn’t happy about having to wait. But I didn’t complain. “Complaining won’t make any difference!”

“Is it Cabots or God?”

View from Cabot Hall in Cambridge 1966

With help from crowd sourcing used by Pete to assist me, I was able to find the statistics for each individual post I have written in the last five years. I wanted to see how many times my post from June 3, 2017, “The Cabots Speak Only to God” had been viewed. I was curious because when I check my views each week several show up every time for that one. It turns out that it has been looked at 1766 times! The next highest is 691, with a typical post getting between 50 and 100 views.

The question is WHY. Why on earth would a post about my time in my dormitory Cabot Hall keep getting readers four years on? There can’t be that many people interested in that dorm. I can only conclude that they are coming there after doing a search through blogs with a keyword “God” or “Cabot.” Now perhaps it is a search for Cabot, either the cheese or the explorer. But I suspect that it is actually a search for “God.” Not God per se(although maybe that happens too!) but mentions of God.

I assume that as soon as someone reads the actual post they are quickly aware that God is not the focus of the post. Neither of course are the Cabots, except for making fun of them.

Just wondering if any of you have similarly wondered about popular posts. If so, I would love to hear which ones top the list.

“Turning Up The Heat”

Yesterday morning I kept hearing an intermittent knocking sound which sounded like a woodpecker. Since the noise was coming from the basement, not an adjacent tree, Charlie went downstairs to find the source. The furnace was making the noise, and some tiny spot in my brain said “I bet it’s air.” The heating man came later that morning and confirmed that it was air.

How did I know this? I remembered some vestige of knowledge from my childhood about radiators. Sadly, I had forgotten the other bit from then that heard my mother saying she had to “bleed the radiators.” We have lived in this house for twenty years and, although we have a 1929 heating system which uses radiators, we have never “bled” them. The upstairs has always been chilly with very little heat coming from the radiators there, but we had never given it a second thought.

The worker began to “bleed” the radiators using the little key pictured above. Apparently there was so much air in the upstairs radiators that the technician had to go into the basement three different times to deal with an override setting when too much water was accumulating. He said he expected the upstairs would be much warmer and that we might need to partially close the radiators.

No kidding! I am now in my office which is even warmer than the dining room “office” gets with the door shut enclosing the thermostat. The bathroom is toasty. Our bedroom was so hot last night I threw off the covers. So adjust them we will. And let’s hope we don’t go another twenty years without thinking of”bleeding” the radiators!

“You Aren’t From Around Here!”

Pete’s comment about the correct pronunciation of Norwich when he looked up Rocky Neck State Part reminded me to return to a post I started before the chaos of war in the world. Because I cannot say any more than I already have on the subject of Ukraine and Russia, I return to the earlier writing.

One of the obvious marks of a new comer to an area is her way of saying a place name. In Oregon it was the word said as “or-ee-GONE’ instead of “or-ee-gun.” In a similar way, saying the “will-a-met River” ensures you weren’t raised near the “will-AM-it River.” A blogger in Cornwall made sure that I didn’t pronounce “Mousehole” the way it appears and wrote it is closer to “mowsel. But I don’t think anyone would think I was from Cornwall once they heard the ways I say ordinary words!

My favorite encounter with a completely unphonetic place name was the night my mother and I stayed in Kirkcudbright, Scotland. We had driven back from the Island of Skye on our return to London and needed a room for the night. After passing through Newton Stewart, we came to Kirkcudbright. In those days, before internet and cell phones, we just went into an inn to see if there was a room. We were fortunate to not only get a room but to also find ourselves in the middle of a wedding reception. My more proper mother thought we should stay away. My young adult self insisted we “crash” the party. We did and we were warmly welcomed to the fete.

It was at the party that we overheard the town name. It was so far removed from the phonetic rendering that we didn’t even realize at first what they were saying. But ever after when I see that name I remember that night, that wedding party and “cur-coo-bree.”

Sad to say in Connecticut they pronounce Norwich as “nor-witch” and have the poor sense to call the Thames River just the way the word looks, long “a” and all.