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January 7, 2007

Friends

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It is Sunday morning.....I am sitting on the couch, a cup of my favorite Bon Jour (a chicory flavored coffeelike beverage Julia brings me from France) in hand, watching Charles Osgood and "Sunday Morning" on CBS. They note the death of Vincent Sardi and I think of past visits to the famous restaurant in the heart of the theater district (and of the canelloni I always ordered). Occasionally I look out the new French doors at the pond and the various waterfowl gliding by. Sunlight fills the room, and it promises to be another glorious day at Thirsty Boots Farm (yesterday was 65 and today the weatherman promises 55). Life can't get much better than this, I think, but it did.

I received a phone call from a friend.

I begin with a history of our relationship. John and I met this couple through mutual friends years ago when we lived in Madison. We would see them at parties given our friends. Then a few years ago, we reconnected when we were all members at a small yacht club in Essex. The husband helped John who was then chair of the House Committee (supreme fixer-upper). We began to see more of them and discovered two truly wonderful people - humorous, kind, considerate, sensible. In them we discovered admirable strength, optimism and a sharing of same values. In short, friends with whom we enjoy spending time.

We saw them over Chirstmas. Knowing their love of Scotland, we wanted them to meet Julia and we invited them to the party we threw for her and all the friends she's met over the last 18 years she's been coming to Thirsty Boots. A great time was had by all.

So back to this morning. I'm not a phone person. I'll use it to convey a message or information but generally I am not a chatter. And yet this morning, I found myself enjoying a long conversation. After 15 minutes, we promised to call each other about a dinner date in a couple of weeks (after checking husbands' schedules).

I sit here now thinking about good friends...people you like and who, in turn, like you and how a simple call set the tone for my day. Little did she know what her call would do.

So thank you, friend. Time to pay it forward.

P.S. As I hung up, I received yet another phone call from a brother. I find I now have a bet on the Jets/Patriots playoff game this afternoon (what happens when you live halfway between New York and Boston). At 4:00, it's on the the more serious game and time to root for the Giants!

January 12, 2007

Sigh.......

Forget Calgon! Just get me the quickest Delta flight and take me away. Heather is in Florida and is driving me crazy with her photos of where I would really like to be. Not that I don't love my little kiddos, but really....can anything compare with this? (taken, I believe, during cocktails on the beach)

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So let's just get it out of the way...Yes, I am jealous!

She and George are off the Key West today, January 12.

February 3, 2007

I Think I'll Keep Him

I just went in to see John, who is sitting comfortably at his favorite place - the end of the kitchen table, to tell him not to worry. There will be no divorce for us.

This morning's Today program reported that the divorce rate in marriages lasting over 20 years has doubled in the last 10 years. How sad. Why? The answer is abuse - emotional, verbal and perhaps physical. In short, there wasn't much there to begin with.

In two weeks, John and I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. (I can't tell you how we're celebrating since John may sneak a peek at my blog and I'd hate to spoil the surprise.) When I think back on our 30 years, I realize we will not become this Today program's statistic. I think about these 30 years in stunned astonishment, awe and thanks.

How did the time go so quickly? I can remember everything as though it were just a few years ago. The months leading up to the wedding and the overwelming welcome and kindness by John's friends and extended family. Our wedding day - the wonderful care John's best man, Carroll, gave John; the make-up session at Elizabeth Arden's and then having to wait around til the 3:30 wedding; the wedding itself - who could forget that? I think it still remains a topic of cocktail conversation and laughs to this day. The honeymoon at the Florida house we wish Grandmother never sold.

I think about our three houses...Larchmont, the tiny house up on the hill on Myrtle Boulevard. It was not a posh address but it was a cute, cozy house close to Carl's, the village and it was where Julie and Patrick were born. The three of us walking down to surprise John at the train station are warm, vivid memories that are as important to John as they are to me. We joined Larchmont Yacht Club and sat on the famous front lawn to watch John's new boat being delivered. We made friends who are still important to us.

Next was Madison where Heather joined us. We needed this stepping stone to add more friends to the "right hand." (You know the saying, "I can count my really good friends on one hand.") and then it was on to Killingworth where we discovered we needed two hands (literally as well as figuratively). Thirsty Boots Farm became our home, the place the children grew up, established their friendships, went to school, left and now continue to come home to.

So here I am....right where I want to be after an already rich 30 years....a wonderful house, three great kids and a husband with whom I hope I might get another 30 years.....provided he doesn't yell at me.

April 2, 2007

Serendipity

Life can be funny sometimes. Every once and a while something happens that causes you to stop and think about "who" is moving the "chess pieces of life" around.

This is our friend Mike Vujnovich who lives in Northern Wisconsin. He and John got to know each other years ago when John had the Ascom Hasler account (postage meters) and is a close friend. Mike visited us in Connecticut this past Thursday and Friday and we had a great time.

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Mike shared with us that after leaving Thirsty Boots Farm, he was going to head for NYC where he was to visit a new acquaintance whom he found to be quite remarkable. Her name is Editta Sherman but she is also known as "The Duchess of Carnagie Hall" and "Photographer to the Stars." She lives in an apartment/studio over Carnagie Hall and has taken photographs of Bela Lugosi, Charles Boyer, Andy Warhol, Marlon Brando, Noel Coward, Henry Fonda, Elvis Presley, Anthony Quinn, and Leopold Stokowski, just to name a few. Now you note that they are all dead but she clearly is not. She is 94 years old and sharp as a tack. (Proof of that will come in a bit.)

We were enthralled with Mike's story about her and but more amazing was what Mike discovered in our cottage that night after we went to bed. Noting the photographs of my parents and grandparents on the wall, he went to get a closer look and ........yep, right there under the large photograph of my grandmother was Editta Sherman's signature. This called for a phone call the next day and so on our way to dinner, I "met" Editta by phone. We related the story of such an extraordinary coincidence to her, gave her my grandmother's name and Editta proceeded to describe the photograph to us - "Yes, I remember. Her hands were in the picture with large rings on her fingers and bracelets around her wrists. She had her white hair pulled back." To use one of Julia Scott-Barrett's favorite phrases, I was "gobsmacked." How could a 94 year-old woman describe so acurately a photograph taken 50-60 years ago? And of a person who was not a famous celebrity. Take a look...

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An accurate description, I'd say.

Even more incredible, she went on to tell me she thought she had taken a photograph of my grandfather. Sure enough, when Mike got to NYC on Saturday, he called from Editta's studio and apartment to tell us he was sitting there with her looking a 1945 photograph she had taken of my grandfather apparently for a magazine cover.

It was an extraordinary turn of events. One day I hope to meet her to hear if she has anymore remembrances of that time when she met and took photos of my grandparents.

May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

It's 10:30 on a Sunday morning just hours before my Mother's Day lunch. I should be doing my reports for school but in my true procrastinating fashion I have chosen to put down some thoughts instead.

Mother's Day.......my own mother disliked it. She said it was created by the card companies to make money and that mothers ought to be appreciated more often than just one day of the year. She was right, of course. So I think of her now. I wish that I could remember all the motherly touches, hugs and kisses she gave me, but at age 58 one's memory isn't always accomodating. I wish also that at age 58 she were here so I could talk to her as one mother to another but then that means she would be 91 and the conversation might not go as I've imagined it would. And so I turn my thoughts to my children.

My three children......how I have been blessed. When I was a little girl (very small), my mother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told her a "mother and a cooker." Those passions never waivered; I wasn't derailed by Gloria Steinem and now as I sit and think, I can say with some pride and joy, "I did it." (And, of course, in a different fashion, continue to do it.) I have three wonderful children who give me enormous joy. My mother also said that having children was a good thing because it made you think of others rather than just yourself. Well, I know what she was trying to say. Having the kids has given me the opportunity to extend myself and give of myself more than I thought possible and that too has given me great joy and happiness. Before I get too schmaltzy....another friend once sent me a sign that still hangs in my kitchen today that says, "Having kids is like being pecked to death by chickens." Thank you, Glenn, for keeping me grounded!

This year one of my children wrote, "Thanks for being such a great mom. You always put us kids first...." I had to stop and think about that and I decided, "I guess that's right," but it's what all mothers do really, or at least want to do. For that, I have to thank John. There were many, many times he had to take a back seat.

So Happy Mother's Day to all.
Happy Mother's Day, John.
Happy Mother's Day, Julie, Patrick and Heather.
Happy Mother's Day, Baba.

And Happy Mother's Day, Mummy.

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September 13, 2007

Carrying on a Tradition

Taking advantage of a day off from school (Rosh Hoshanah), I decided to head into New York to personally make arrangements for Patrick and Chrissy's engagement party. I was looking forward to meeting with my contact at the New York Yacht Club and afterwards having lunch with Patrick. Wanting to make my trip into the city a relaxing and restful one, I decided to take the train, hopping on the Shoreline East in Clinton.

Will I ever do anything in a restful manner? Typically, I left a few things until the last moment, including ironing my linen skirt. Naturally there was a spot smack dab in the middle of the front. Took care of that. Next decision - what top to wear. I knew the temperature would get up to 76 degrees but the thermometer outside was just hovering above 50. Hmmm...what to wear that was stylish and not too bulky to carry around New York. I solved that problem with a Pashmina I got while visiting Heather in Stockholm in 2001. Perfect. Warm, not too frumpy looking and light.

OK - into the car at 7:35 for a 15 minute ride to the train station, leaving me 15 minutes to wait for my train. Perfect. That is until the elderly woman in the silver Camry pulled out in front of me and obeyed the speed limit down Route 81. As we approached the local Dunkin Donuts, I willed her with all my might to take a left and get a cup of coffee. What was I thinking? She was of the age where she either had decided only to take right turns or she was too smart to drink a cup of coffee and drive at the same time (she probably saves a lot of money by making it at home anyway). Well, I was lucky because another 2 miles down the road she did take that right. Once again the road belonged to me (and the string of cars behind me). By now the anxiety level had risen just a tad but I was still OK. I had in fact left a 15 minute window; I couldn't have lost more than three or four minutes. Then I took the wrong turn at Route 1.

Having been to the Clinton railroad station only once (and at night) to pick up Patrick, my usually good sense of direction completely failed me. I realized it quickly (when there was no train station to be seen), turned around, headed east and saw the station. Phew....pulled in and parked the car...7:55...10 minutes til the train. I walked liesurely up the platform only to discover there was no place to buy tickets. A gentleman assured me I could buy one on the train. Well, that was fine except I had been planning to purchase my tickets with my credit card and had very little cash with me (anxiety level was getting a little higher.) There was no time to get to the nearest ATM. Fortunately I discovered I had enough money to get a ticket to New Haven where, I now realized, I'd have to dash down the stairs, through the tunnel, up the stairs and into Union Station, stand in line, get my ticket and reverse the process....all in ten minutes. The gentleman assured me I'd have time.

When I purchased my ticket to New Haven from the conductor, I thought I'd confirm with him I would indeed be able to pull this off before the train pulled out of the station. He took my money, assured me I would and walked off, probably wondering what kind of nut travels to New York City with only $10 in her wallet.

Now this is where the good part starts....As the conductor continued down the aisle, the woman in the seat behind me tapped my on the shoulder and said, "You'll never make it. I'd be happy to give you a twenty if you write me a check." Before I could help it, my jaw dropped and I said,"You would?" I realized how ridiculous I must have looked and before my expression of complete astonishment changed her mind, I accepted her offer and said, "Thank you!" I really don't know why I was so taken aback at this act of kindness. There still are lots of decent, trusting people in this world and all around us. So, check for cash was exchanged and it turned out my savior lived minutes in Chester and on the same road as my vet.

As I relaxed back into my seat and pulled out my reading material, I was thinking that clearly, on this crystal clear, sky-blue day (the kind of pre-fall day my father loved), someone was watching out for me. And so I traveled the train to the city, really and truly relaxed and happy, and anticipating my lunch with Patrick where I planned to present him with the wedding ring his grandfather presented to his grandmother 68 years ago. Whether it fits, can can hold up for another 60 years, or even goes with the ring Pat gave Chrissy will be for them to determine.

There's a lot of love connected to that beautiful, little band of diamonds and right now it's right where it should be...in Patrick's pocket.

And now, having finished this blog entry and headed of to bed, I swear I can hear my dad in his impish way saying, "Kathy, you are such a sap!"

November 7, 2007

Voting 2007

Well, I voted.

I have to say it was a different experience this year, giving me some pause for thought.

First I had to make my way past the candidates at the front door. What's with that? In previous years I don't remember that last minute pressure...Are they staring me down, willing me to vote for them? Do they know who I am? Do they dislike my party affiliation? On the way out... will they know I didn't vote for them? Do I make eye contact, smile, dash for my car in the rain? Too much pressure (and prehaps a little too much paranoia).

After passing the dvd player in the hall informing voters how to use the new machines (new machines? Is Killingworth going the way of Florida?), I made my way inside the school cafeteria, only to notice my usual routine for check in was not to be. The check in tables were all switched around. (I thought this was way too much change, requiring too much thinking for 6:30 in the morning.) Scanning the tables, I found O-Z (for my road) and the familiar face of Florence Broach smiling and saying good morning. In spite of knowing who I am, out came the license and and I stated my "full" name when she asked for it. Hmmmmm...would that be my name with my real middle name or my name with my maiden name (and by the way, where does that mean my middle name went?) or maybe even my name with my middle and maiden name? I got through that with going with the maiden name as the "new" middle name. I was then handed the red folder with the ballot....what? a paper ballot? I have to write? Where are the familiar, ancient grey machines? "Gone!" was the answer.

I took my ballot to the four-person station with the partions to keep my neighbor from smirking at my choices and began to fill in the bubbles. Oh, God.....the dreaded bubbles. Now I know how my kids feel with their standardidized tests. More paranoia ensues..."What if I go over the lines or don't completely fill in the bubble? Can I use an X?" Well, at least I didn't have to go through the second-guessing procedure that plagued me on every multiple choice test I ever took in school..."Should the answer be C? The last two answers were C, so there can't be three Cs in a row...but maybe there is another C.... just to fool me." (You can imagine how I did on my SATs and, no, don't ask.)

What did cross my mind as I made my decisions was, "What if I wanted to change my vote?" I certainly couldn't do that with the special, black, felt-tip marker that was provided to fill in those bubbles. And, as I glanced at the ballot, I wonder why there was so much white space. Where were the names? Usually there were many more people involved. What had happened to the desire to serve in this community? There were far too many categories where I was required to "choose any two" (or three) and where only two (or three) people were running. Well, that's sort of a done deal, isn't it? Granted...many of the names on the ballot have been there for years, and I mean years. Don't take that the wrong way....these are wonderful people who have served this town long and well. I voted for them again but still wondered where were the others who had moved here and loved this town? Is the feeling of volunteerism and giving back diminishing?

I walked over to our new, 21st century optical scan machine, inserted my ballot and it was immediately spat out. Oh, God....more pressure- "Were my hands were too wet as I voted?"; "Perhaps the machine doesn't like my answers"; or "I must have done something wrong." As I tried again (and was successful in getting the machine to swallow my results), I realized I missed the old, familiar click of the metal levers as I chose my candidates; I missed "unclicking" my vote if I decided to give someone else an opportunity; I missed the clash of the main lever as I hauled it over to one side to cement my decisions. You really had to put some effort into getting that lever over and that effort always made me feel as though my vote stood for something, was important, and made a difference.

As it turned out, my vote did stand for something (even though it was not cast with my usual clanging determination.)

In this small community, on November 6, 2007, the Selectman's office was determined by only 27 votes. More important, the incumbent received only 18% of the vote - a result of the town's overwhelming message that it wanted a non-arrogant individual who could be respectful of other town officers (in spite of their party affiliation), and who would work with others as a member of a cohesive group to support the best wishes of the majority and the town.

Yes, a lot of pause for thought. And perhaps the most powerful?.....thinking about and giving thanks to that small group of Pilgrims and their Mayflower Compact (the basis for our "majority rules" system and the foundation of our Constitution) which allows us to participate in this thoughtful process every few years. It's a great system.

December 4, 2007

Exhausted!

It's that time of year again.

I see you nodding your head in agreement, "Yep, the shopping, the parties, the eating, the drinking, the baking."

Nope....

"End of the semester and report writing?"

Wrong again. No, it's football season and Tuesday morning, meaning I stayed up to watch Monday Night Football...all of it. What a game it was!

Last night the Patriots played the Baltimore Ravens and there was so much hype regarding the Pats 11-0 season and whether the Ravens would keep New England from being the fist team since the '72 Miami Dolphins to end up with an undefeated season that I thought I'd throw up, give up, and go to bed. (Sometimes those announcers really haven't got much to say.) Thankfully (I think) I did not.

Again, what a game! The Ravens had nothing to lose and everything to gain and they played their hearts out. They led the entire game and the Patriots played catch up all night. In the last quarter the Ravens were ahead 24-20. Now, we all know the last quarter is where Tom Brady shines, yet it was the break down in discipline (along with Brady's cool, determined 73-yard drive) that allowed the Patriots to score another touchdown with 50 seconds left.

And, as if that weren't excitement enough, in 40 seconds the Ravens quarterback got his team down the field (after 35 yards worth of penalties assessed on the opening kickoff for their unsportsmanlike conduct) and, with 4 seconds remaining, threw a Hail Mary that was caught at the 1-yard line! But with four Pats to stop the forward movement of the ball, the game was over....Pats over the Ravens 27-24.

I have to admit, I'm happy the Patriots won but up until those last few minutes, it was the Ravens' game all the way.

At any rate, here I am at school, tired, drinking coffee, and thinking about those reports I should have been doing......and glad I stayed up to watch.

November 5, 2008

NOVEMBER 4, 2008

A landmark day....we have elected the first black person to the highest office in the land. It was great to watch on television although having to wait until the western polls closed to get the results was tough. I kept falling asleep.

How I wish Cameron had lived to experience this night. He would have been ecstatic. And he would have been pleased with my vote. I did it in your honor, Cameron (and for the good of all of us).

May 20, 2009

THE PERFECT CARD

Recently a friend sent me a card I just loved and I decided I must share it with everyone. Here is is:


"The pursuit of pleasure

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must be the goal of every rational person."
Voltaire (1694-1778)


(Hmmm...this is not how my parents felt the few times I "acted up" in boarding school.)


P.S. Thank you, Steve.


About Musings

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to KathyMcCurdy.com in the Musings category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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