a life well lived

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Snow Globe 12/30/00

Sitting safe and snug in the big chair in the living room feels like being in the beautiful snow globe that Clara gives Heidi, the one with the cabin that looks like The Grandfather's house.  It has been snowing since before dawn, big beautiful flakes in the morning and smaller "means business" flakes in the afternoon.  It is now just past dusk and it is still snowing.  

There is something about snow that can bring out a sense of community, at least in these parts.  Elsa fires up the oven and makes "Blizzard Brownies" for the Staubs, Millmans and Gallaghers, all neighbors with children.  She has been making the rich, dark fudgy brownies for as long as I can remember - the neighbors know that they can count on having her trudge through the snow to deliver a full batch to each house.  Concerned for the wild life, she turned the three big green trash bins on their sides out on the back porch and pointed them toward the house, away from the snow, and loaded them up with bird seed and sunflower seeds. 

John slept until almost 3:00 p.m.  This has been the first day in weeks that he could get a long slumber - it is a blessing that it is such a sleepy-time day. 

As for myself, I slept until 10:00 a.m. this morning and then, throughout the day, I kept falling asleep in the big chair in the living room.  I headed up for an early nap and slept until 5:00 p.m.  As I said, the snow makes it a great day for hibernating.  

We do not live in a community in the sense that Bryn Athyn is a community, but we do live in one, all the same.  One of our neighbors dug out from his path to beyond our driveway, another shoveled the entire length of our path, and a third shoveled our driveway.  That is community with a capital C.

Many wonderful sights have been seen from our big living room window over the past week.  Last Saturday, I was sitting in the living room when the sound of sirens came closer and closer and closer until it sounded like they were going up Mallard, which is the next street over.  They sounded familiar and strange, at the same time.  I realized it was because they kept going and going and going, even though Mallard is not a long stretch of road.  Even stranger was the fact that the neighborhood children came streaming out of their houses onto the road.  It turned out that Santa was making his annual visit to the neighborhood, which apparently he does every year - thanks to the Feasterville Fire Department - on the Saturday before Christmas, but we have never been at home on that Saturday before.  It was quite a sight - the fire trucks stopped smack dab in front of Squirrel Haven and Santa, who was riding on the top, got down to talk to all the excited children and hand out candy canes.  The children looked so happy and their parents looked like little kids themselves.  It is a moment those children will never forget.  It is a memory this Gramster will never forget. 

Last Sunday, Christmas Eve, the blessed sight was seeing Whitney and Chad and Peter, then later Shannon, then still later Reynolds, walking through the front door.  

On Christmas Day, it was fun to watch the neighborhood comings and goings to the various houses, as families head out or headed in for holiday celebrations.   

Today, it was the snow and watching the children - bundled from top to toe - having snow ball fights and hauling sleds around and one of the older children even headed up and down the street on a snow mobile.

I am grateful that today is a Saturday, so Elsa did not have to go to work, that is it not New Year's Eve and it is not New Year's Day, so I can just sit back and savor the experience of a soft hush of a day. 

Take care, stay safe, and God bless - Jessie's Adopted Grandma

Ode to Joy 12/29/00

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra closed its season last night with a rousing
presentation of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, the Choral Symphony, which includes
the "Ode to Joy."  My goodness, what a lot of memories it sparked.

The memory dearest to my heart is of  a summer many, many moons ago.  

Wynne Pitcairn, Mim, myself and Elsa went to the shore for a week - Ventnor, or Brigantine or Ocean City.  We had a house right on the beach.  Unfortunately, Wynne got sick almost as soon as we arrived.  In true Wynne style, she did not want the rest of us to miss out on a good time, so she had Mim drive her back to her Horigan grandparents' Bryn Athyn home where she could get TLC, recover and then come back to the shore for the rest of the stay. 

We missed them when they left, so I decided that we should take the jitney (a small bus) up to Atlantic City, stroll the boardwalk and see a movie.  We saw "HELP!" which starred the Beatles. 

My, how I enjoyed that movie. 

I remember the scene where the four of them entered what looked like the doors to four separate row houses, only to find they were in a large common room.  It was a delightful movie.  At one part, Ringo is threatened by  the a man-eating Bengal tiger.  A Scotland Yard inspector tells him that all will be well, that it was the famous man-eating Bengal tiger that had escaped from the famous London Zoo and that it could be soothed by hearing the "Ode to Joy."  The inspector starts singing it, then Ringo joins in, then the rest of the Beatles, then the rest of the Scotland Yard contingent, then the group gets larger and larger until there is a shot of an entire stadium singing the "Ode to Joy." 

It also reminds me of the television broadcasts of the Olympics.  I do not know if it still is, but the "Ode to Joy" was part and parcel of the telecasts at one time.  It always set my spirits soaring. 

Whenever I hear the "Ode toJoy," I think of  fun and exhilaration.  I think Beethoven would be pleased.

Have a warm, snug day.  We are expecting a major snowstorm tonight.  Brrrrr.

Take care - >>KRL<<

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ancient Rattlesnake 12/28/00

That was John's description to Elsa of how I sound when I shake "Clappy" (my noisemaker) to let them know I need to get up in the night.  It makes me feel good to know that, in spite of being pulled out of the studio or out of bed to help me get up to use "Lamb," my s-i-l sees humor instead of bother in the situation.

Last night was rough.  If my shoulder had permitted the movement, it would have been a toss and turn night.  When Elsa came down at the same time that the sun was beginning to come up, she noticed my top covers were tossed off.  I normally sleep with a cotton flannel sheet, a wonderful "North Star" blanket, a 2nd blanket and with my dear old red robe keeping my feet snug.  Sounds like a lot, but my room is over the garage and can get a bit nippy at night.   

Last night, however, I  experienced something I have not felt for forty or more years - hot flashes!  Pardon the imagery, but I felt like throwing off all my covers, tossing off my nightgown and running around naked.  It was strange and interesting, but it did not make for a good night's sleep. 

As soon as Elsa finishes tapping this out and heads to work, I will be back  to bed for what I hope will be a long and peaceful sleep.  

Love and peace to you all from this restless and unrested   *Ancient Rattlesnake* 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Star of Wonder 12/27/00

As long as there is a hint of ice out yonder, I will stay safe and snugg in Squirrel Haven.  That means that I have not seen all the familiar sights of Christmas.  The only decorated houses I have seen this season are the ones within view from the big chair in the living room - Staubs, across the street, with it’s bright colored lights and the electric Santa standing by the chimney;  Millman’s brilliantly outlined home;  and I can see, reflected in Betty and George’s windows across the street from us, the fabulously decked out Gallagher and Kuchar homes, both dripping with those electric "ice cicles" which are so popular. 

Elsa and John have described the sights outside of my viewing range.  The great big tree that John and Jill King outlined with white lights.  The houses on Byberry and on Terwood Roads that are apparently done by people in the same family (same last name on the greetings), both of which are top notch examples of excess.  Peter told me about the house on Moreland Road that is what they call "over the top" with decorations.

The places that I remember best include a house over on Fitzwatertown Road that Pete would drive us to see every year.  I think this was around the late 1960s and early 1970s.  There would be cars parked so people could get out for a good look.  Before that, we would take the children to see the lights in Greenridge Farms, which is off of Buck Road before you get to County Line, Once, Pete took us to see the lights of Manayunk and Conshocken - they were really something to behold. 

The light I miss seeing more than any other is the star atop the cathedral.  Our family’s favorite Christmas Eve Children’s Service was the 4:00 p.m. service - when we went in, it was still light out, and when we came out, it was dark and we would look up at the top of the cathedral tower and there it would be, the star.  It was a moment that was always fresh and new.  (In 2014, the star is lit during Tableaux, two Sundays before Christmas - still as inspiring as in 2000, just lit longer.)

The star itself is a light bulb atop a long thin pole of some sort.  One year - I think it was in the ‘80s - Ariel Gunther was heading up to check it or something.  Now, Ariel was no spring chicken at this point.  When he got to the top, he collapsed.  He said he was just winded, but the people who were with him were justifiably alarmed.  They called the rescue squad.  

 Now, imagine trying to get someone who is all the way up on the top of a cathedral tower back down.  They literally had to call in the Navy.  Soon,  rescue helicopters were buzzing the cathedral, but they realized that air lifting Gunnie wouldn’t work.  What they finally did was to have Navy personnel "rappel" him down the side of the tower.  I can only imagine how mortified Gunnie was, especially as he kept telling everyone he was fine, that he had been winded and that was all.  You can imagine the local news had a field day.

We found out just how famous the incident was a couple weeks later, when Mim,
Elsa and yours truly were doing some Christmas shopping in Wilmington, DE.
Mim asked the lady at a shop if she accepted checks.  Yes, she did.  Mim wrote out her check, only to have the woman ask her for her driver’s license and a credit card for verification*.  Well, Mim did not have a credit card.  As she explained to the woman, if she had a credit card, she would have put  the purchase on that.  The woman would not budge.  Then her eyes lit on the address on the check.  "Are you from the town where that man was stuck up on the top of a church?" she asked.  "Do you know the man they had to get down?"

Mim acknowledged she was from Bryn Athyn and that, yes, she had known Mr.
Gunther for all of her life.  "Well, SURE we’ll take your check!"  Is that  amazing or what? 

It reminded me of when I was at Strawbridge’s in Jenkintown and a salesgirl would not accept my passport as verification for a check because I have never driven and I have never had a credit card of any type.  Phyllis Pitcairn happened to spot me just after I had been turned down flat and the two of us greeted each other happily and did some catching us.  After we parted and I headed for the escalator, the salesgirl caught up with me.  "Well, Mrs. Lockhart, if you know Mrs. Pitcairn of course we will accept your check."   I never have and never will understand what passes for sound business practice.

When you go past a brightly decorated house or look up at the "star" atop the
cathedral, take an extra look for me.

Holiday hugs and love - the Gramster

* That was standard practice back then - approval of a check required both a driver's license & a credit card.  Go figure.  elm 

Friday, December 26, 2014

More Christmas heart

A memory popped up last night, so vivid it felt as if it happened the other day, not over 50 years ago. 

When Mike was around 5 years old, my mother took him Christmas shopping.  Mike had the grand sum of $3.00 to spend on presents for his family.  He spotted a rhinestone broach that struck him as just the ticket for his Mom.  It cost $3.00.  His Gran tried her best to talk him out of it - he would have spent all he had on one gift - but Mike would not budge.  

 As Mother told itto me later, he stood his ground and looked her straight in the eye and declared, "If I want to spend all my money on my mother, that is what I am going to do."  He did, too.

Of all our children, Mike has the most down-to-earth concept of money.  When he was 17, he informed us that we were not to buy him any more clothing, that it would be his responsibility.   He went straight out of high school into the Navy and supported himself from that day forward. 

Mike was not always so.  Before he was 15, money burned a hole in his pocket.  As soon as it came in, it went out.   What turned him around was wanting to go out to California to visit the Ripleys for the summer and work on the ranch.  To get there, he had to earn the money for the trip out and back. That did it.  Mike watched every dollar, quarter, dime, nickel and penny. 

Today, Mike is a thrifty Scot, getting good value for money spent.  He likes to save, to spend wisely, to splurge judiciously.  Noble traits.

Love to all - Mike's Mom