Friday, October 21, 2016

Writing Class - Setting a Scene. Ice Skating

It was already dark at 4:00, when I ran from our back gate over the icy lanes, skate laces tied around my neck, galoshes flaps open in the current stylish way, past Kwenchels grocery—where I had a credit line for penny candy—across the dark school yard to the rink—a white patch of joy, shimmering in the glacial light cast from the light poles. Only because the air was still, were we allowed to skate at -20 degrees F. With even a zephyr of air movement, the wind chill would turn the skating rink into a blast freezer.

Inside the warming shack, I pulled on my white skates, impatient with the laces, anxious to get on the rink with my friends to play "Crack the Whip." We’d form a line of skaters and speed down the ice as fast as possible, the lead skater stopping abruptly and causing the rest of us to swing in an arc around him while the person at the end would let go and be catapulted across the ice at high speed. Being the catapult was exhilarating and required skill to judge how long to fly before braking to avoid slamming into a snowbank at top speed. Wrists had been broken and teeth lost. It was dangerous and it was fun.
Back row: Gail, Jerry, Eilleen. Front row. Me. 

After skating for an hour, we went into the shack to warm up our noses, our numbing toes and freezing fingers. The boy I liked, Jimmy Krantz was sitting in the corner staunching a nosebleed—the air was so cold and dry that bloody noses were a regular occurrence. Old Jim, the rink man, sat next to him on the boy’s side of the shack puffing on his pipe. Little icky clumps of bloody tissue were scattered around on the benches and floor despite Jim’s regular scoldings about putting them in the trash. Jim, our de facto parent, kept order in the shack, scraped the ice clean, performed first aid and stoked the pot bellied stove. The stove pumped out plenty of warm air which combined with the snow melt from our clothes and skates making the air feel almost tropical. The only ventilation in the shack came when the door opened and shut, letting in a huge cloud of frigid air which, like something alive, swirled in and raced across the floor as if trying to reach the other end before vanishing. Inside, the shack smelled like all of us - a combination of tobacco, burning wood, wet wool, black licorice and cooped up pre-teen feet. 

A highlight of the skating experience was throwing your ice-caked gloves on top of the stove where they would hiss and sputter. Like my fancy skates, I inherited the bright orange gloves from my older sister, Eilleen. She'd left our childish ice play behind her, spending that winter practicing her role in the high school production of the Mikado, set in the imaginary town of Titipu. "Titty Poo, Poo Titty, Titty, Titty, Poo Poo," I'd repeat, loving the sound of those dirty words now legitimatized in our home. I couldn't believe my luck! My God-given job as chief torturer of my sister was a snap that winter after such incredibly witty material fell into my lap. I called my sister "Titty" at every opportunity for months. In retaliation, she called me "Hegen the pig woman," a riff on the character of Moonbeam McSwine, an Al Capp creation we both enjoyed.

Time proved her to be the superior namer as fifty years later, I still signed my emails to her as Hegen pW, over the years transmogrifying “pig woman” into an honorific which we laughingly compared to her JD. It seems odd to me now in the remembering, that I never called her Titty or Titipu again. 

Monday, October 17, 2016


One of the highlights of any trip to DC involves visiting with Roseanne Russo, Richard's longtime friend and now mine. Roseanne had an illustrious career in the FBI which is how Richard and she met. Roseanne was the first female profiler in the FBI and developed many of the psychological profiling tools that are still in use. You can't make a career out of this specific aspect of law enforcement...there's a limit to how long a profiler can "live in the brain," so to speak, of the bad guys, without going a little nuts yourself. The rest of her career was equally interesting and she was recently featured in a chapter of the book, "Women in Blue," where you can read the whole story.

Now retired, Roseanne is a tour guide at the Kennedy Center and at the local PBS radio station. This election cycle she's busy registering voters and campaigning for Hillary. And much more...she uses her time wisely, always giving. A great person.







"No see to no see," said our docent at Monticello explaining the laboring hours of the enslaved farm workers of Thomas Jefferson. The docent spoke faster than a machine gun and crammed an amazing amount of information into a 45-minute walking tour of Mulberry Lane, the commercial part of Monticello where joinery, nailery, dairy and cloth making activities thrived. 

Slave children up to the age of six didn't have jobs; from six to twelve years old they cared for younger children; from about twelve they worked in the various enterprises on the plantation and if they were good they'd get a plummy job in the house or on Mulberry road. If they weren't efficient and productive they'd be sent out to the fields to work year round in blazing heat or freezing snow, no see to no see meaning before sunup to after sundown.

I've always wanted to see Monticello and despite many trips to DC never made it. This time, even though it's a long drive (2 1/2 hours each way), we did it. The trip actually flew by as we were accompanied by Richard's longtime friend Tom, who told us stories about his experience as a mock prisoner of war in survival training in the navy. For me, the conversation was fascinating as they talked about their experiences in the CIA.


Above and below is the vegetable garden, one thousand feet long by twenty feet wide. 




The trees are just beginning to color. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

More on the Air and Space Museum


Items Lindbergh carried on his trans Atlantic flight. Laxative...funny, but all that sitting probably bound him up a bit.

"Computer" for altitude.

And more planes...

Taking photos of Discovery.
And the Canadian "arm" tool used to manipulate objects outside the spacecraft.
Four hours flew by. This was my second visit...I'd go for a third.


Sepia Saturday October 2016: From here to there.

In Washington DC for a few weeks and I finally got to Mt. Vernon, where we admired this riding chair, a replica of one owned by George Washington. They were used instead of horseback and were reputedly more comfortable because you could shift your weight around. It was easier on the horse as well to pull the weight, rather than carry a person on its back. 

The economy of Colonial Virginia moved in carts---they were the pick up trucks of the day.

A view of the mansion in its imposing location with beautiful views out to the Potomac!
For contrast to the speed of the cart, we visited the Narional Air and Space Museum Annex to see the magnificent machines on display. The blackbird, Lockheed SR-71A, my husband is standing in front of is the fastest manned, air breathing plane ever made. On it's final flight from Los Angeles to Wash DC it made the trip in 1 hour and 4 minutes. Designed and built in 1966, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the plane....despite it's appearance, it qualifies for Sepia Saturday. As the docent in the museum explained it was designed with slide rules and one large card sorter. 
The skunk was the mascot of the blackbird as it was a product of "skunkworks" engineers at Lockheed. On all the planes the skunk is smiling. They painted this sad skunk on the plane in the museum in recognition of the birds final flight to the location.

Here is the official logo of Lockheed Martin company with the smiling skunk.

More and more wonderful planes.

A few of the space program artifacts.

 Jet on over to 
Sepia Saturday for more stories about getting from here to there.


Friday, October 14, 2016

Harris Teeter

We wandered the aisles at Harris Teeter getting a few provisions. Probably the IPA's are available at home and I never take the time to look them over carefully. Nifty illustrations and graphics.

I worked on this product 30 years ago. They've done a nice job with new packaging and graphics. 
I really like the Vlasic's new upscale brand.
An amazing array of mustards...
Including a few under the McIlhenny's brand which I worked on in concept. Somebody else saw it into production.
I don't like oysters in my stout but I love the illustration.
After watching Mad Men who could pass the Utz chips without buying a couple of packages. 



Alexandria and Luke's Lobster

George Washington attended Christchurch in Alexandria. The church has changed little over centuries. 


Poor Charles, with a typo on his grave stone. I'm not having a stone but if I did it would probably have a grammatical flaw. How I long for an editor to whisk through my scribbles and clean them up! I'm guessing the Simms family decided to accept the stone with the typo rather than have the mason redo the job. Or maybe Charles asked for this so his stone would never go unnoticed. 
Washington's pew which has been graced by the presence of many dignitaries over the years. 


We had a pleasant lunch with Larry, Bill's husband. Bill is dying of ALS and
we weren't able to see him. Larry is Bill's caretaker, friend, rock...a hero in our book.
Autumn floral arrangements and a sleeping dog.

Cannon converted to a fountain...a much better use.

Later that night we saw a small troupe, Pinky Swear, in a delightful hour long compilation of country songs about men murdering their wives, "Over Her Dead Body: A Bluegrass Benediction."There seems to be an endless number of these (Banks of the Ohio, Long Black Veil, Twa Sisters and Barbara Allen) and as the presentation was in conjunction with Romeo and Juliet, it worked.
Still later, we had lobster and crab rolls at Luke's Lobster. The soft squishy buns and fresh, fresh
seafood were swoonfully good. Makes a person want to either camp outside Luke's or head for Maine.