Category Archives: New England

Rolling with Laughter

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Coworkers are my source of humor and constancy in my daily routine.

We tend to miss each other over weekends, sometimes I feel it is due

to our being ‘displaced’ from our lines of preferred professions. All of

my fellow table mates at lunch and break were in other jobs before they

came to work at the warehouse.

When Melvin went off to Massachusetts, the week seemed to drag

forever.

 

This week, just the first three days already, have been hysterical. He

regales us with tall tales of lobster 3 or 4 times eaten daily. He is also

teaching us more and more about the Army life he led.

 

You may remember a long ago post about Melvin being raised by

parents from an island. By the time they came to America, they had

chosen Massachusetts as their home. I think the link, “cous cous” may

connect you to that story. . . We feel this is an interesting ‘thread’ that

connects the two of us. Since my Mom’s parents were both immigrants,

meeting on a street corner in New York City, but choosing to live in

Connecticut. My Grandpa’s father had chosen Massachusetts, where

my Grandpa went to school and his sister lived there, once adults.

Grandpa had moved away from there to go to the engineering or

‘technical college’ in New York City. He knows we both like many of

the New England specialties, too.

 

Melvin had been a good student in school. He decided to go into the

Army to get a ‘free education.’ Instead, he found his true interest or

“calling” in cooking. He did not go to culinary arts institute. He went

to Germany while in the Army, where he had an amazing time learning

about German food preparation. Then, he followed this with his next

tour of duty being spent on the Army base in Hawaii. Where native

fresh fruits are part of the daily Army diet. He excitedly described to us

at break today, they are also cut specially into shapes like lotus flowers

and birds, presented on the platters as ‘garnishes.’

We pursued this culinary specialty subject awhile, “Not in Officer’s

Club, but Mess Hall grub has garnishes?”

“Yes,” Melvin intoned then elaborating, “The different things you

can create varies from vegetables to fruits. A large melon, zucchini,

radishes or apples you make sliced criss-crosses, blanch them in

boiling water and quickly place them in icy water. The hot water gets

them to open up like a lotus blossom.”

He added, “Did you know that the Army never adds new amounts

of a food to an older dish?” (You know how while at a buffet or a

salad bar, they add more potato salad to the old? Nope, this NEVER

happens in the Army dining room!)

 

So, Melvin brought me the delicious German wine last year, which

he mentioned that in Germany at Christmas, the shops downtown

have little tables of treats and ‘shot glasses’ of drinks. They also warm

their wines and give out tastes of these. He contributed to my sense

of ‘culture’ while I shared this with my Mom and family last year.

Mom said a toast in German, which was one about health and love.

(My Mom’s mother was born in Germany. She told me to thank

Melvin. He had bought this on the Rickenbacker Air Force base,

as a gift to me. So thoughtful, you can see why he is a ‘keeper,’

when it comes to friends!)

 

Another morsel he shared with us was of an Army skill he acquired

while in Germany. He informed us they would bring in huge blocks

of ice and there would be one skilled ice sculptor who would create

lovely centerpieces for Army banquets at holidays. He apprenticed

and learned this amazing skill.

Again, we asked Melvin, “Do you mean ordinary Army enlisted men

would have banquets with carved ice decorations on their tables?”

We were incredulous. I am hoping there may be some enlisted men

from the past, who will confirm this outlandish ‘story.’

Really, please let me know. . .

“Yes,” Melvin looked and sounded like he had the Bible and would

“solemnly swear that this was the truth, the whole truth, so help

him God.”

Melvin then proceeded to tell us about mountains, ski cabins and

other etchings in his German ice sculptures. Then, he decided to

mention how he created elaborate Hawaiian ice sculptures with

volcanoes, trees and ocean waves along beaches. He had learned

how to, sculpt detailed floral arrangements out of ice. We wished

he had photographs but we believe his stories.

 

So, when Melvin got back from Massachusetts, we listened to how

he and his ‘my lady’ had lobster omelets, lobster rolls and lobster

linguini. He emphatically repeated this annoying part (we were

jealous, that is why we were annoyed), “I ate lobster 3 or 4 times

a day!” Upon repetition,  we still did not roll our eyes, since he was

entertaining us quite brilliantly. Never a dull moment at the good,

old warehouse with Melvin around.

 

Melvin’s accent had changed over his one week “Back home, out East.”

He vocalizes the sound of his “r’s” to “h’s” so his car was a “cah.” You

could close your eyes and imagine a Kennedy speaking. He sounds so

“cultured.” We tell him he should take his “lady friend” to England

and get their full ‘edification.’ Come back with a British accent. Then,

being the dramatic ‘ham’ that he is, he put his little pinky out and

pretended to hold a tea cup and saucer. He attempted an imitation

British tea party, exclaiming “Cheerio, my deah ones, we need to

order some crumpets and scones.”

 

Melvin told us how offended he was McDonald’s thinks “frappes”

sound like “frapays” while most New Englanders know “frappes”

rhyme with “wraps.” The real ‘frappes’ are delicious old fashioned

milk shakes made of real ice cream and whole milk, with flavors with

real chocolate syrup or real whipped cream. It makes me think of the

rants that began with this funny question, “Don’t you understand the

words that are coming out of my mouth?” from the two movies, with

Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in “Rush Hour’ (one and two.)

 

Whenever Melvin opens his mouth, we laugh. He is full of spirit, likes

to tease and pull your leg. There is always a chance,  at any moment,

for his voice to  become high-pitched and indignant about something.

This is what he calls his “Ohio homey’s” slang and attitude.

 

The story Melvin finished with was about his days of being the Head

Cook at the Marysville Penitentiary. He claims that at any point in

time, you could run into a sister of a male inmate, while she is in

the female cellblocks. Or a mother! There was a special occasion,

where the Warden had arranged for a comedienne named, Monique,

to entertain the inmates. She is a known African American stand-up

comic, who uses ‘blue’ (vulgar) humor in her sketches and anecdotes.

Melvin smiled wide, snorting while remembering some of the skits

or jokes she told.

Melvin finally stopped laughing and  said, “The Warden got up from

his seat in the front of the room, apparently unaware of her type of

humor, with a bright red face, looking down as he walked to the back

of the room, quietly exiting. Everyone clapped and hooted, encouraging

this Monique to ‘carry on,’ with her crass jokes.”

 

I had a chance to change the subject at second break and told my

good friends that yesterday was the 51st anniversary of Push Button

Telephones. (I had already decided to post about the serious subject

of Malala and her Nobel Peace Prize.) So, you are finding this fact

out a day later than my coworkers!

 

ATT first presented these new phones to Pennsylvania residents on

November 18, 1963. The original Push Button phones had only ten

buttons, while in 1968 they added two more buttons (#) and (*). This

squared off phone replaced my favorite old fashioned  rotary phone.

Going along with the raucous humor and our improved mood, since

it was our Melvin’s long-lost return, we used our fingers to squeeze

our noses, to make our vocalizations to sound nasal and together

we imitated one of the greatest comedians ever, Lily Tomlin, by

chanting:

“One ringy dingy, two ringy dingy” and so forth, making the funny

character of the old time operator from variety shows of the 60’s

of “Ernestine,” come back alive. Tammy and I were rolling while

Melvin, who is a great imitator of voices, was pretending to be

the character.

 

In honor of Melvin, though, I will tell you his favorite singer is not

who you would expect. If you remember my post, “Someone Saved

My Life Today,” you may remember Melvin loves Elton John, so

does his girlfriend. The songs he says are ones that get him up and

dancing are:

“Honky Cat” and “Crocodile Rock.”

Melvin is one ‘hep cat’ who knows how to ‘jive!’

 

Wacky Wednesday

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Blame it on that silly television show, “Mike and Molly,” with the

indomitable Melissa McCarthy and her husband’s character played by

Billy Gardell! I had the song, “Elvira,” with its quirky words

playing in my ear all day today! “Giddy up, Hi ho, Silver!” and

more of those lyrics are like the “earwigs” that you just cannot

get out of your head! Mike’s mother had an 8 track tape of the song,

stuck in her car. Mike’s car was needing to be repaired. He gets

permission to borrow the car. If there is a youtube clip of last

night’s show, with his two African American friends, one a cop and

another a regular coffee shop guy, you must watch it! Especially,

with Billy Gardell’s character, Mike, voicing the words that include

the “Oompa wow wow’s” and the three grown men, actually acting

like they are riding a horse, you will laugh so hard!

(Thanks to Oak Ridge Boys, who released this in 1981.)

I was going to start with a wish for you to have a “Happy Hump

Day!” Then, due to my being a little ‘off’ today, in a whole

different frame of mind, I thought of a fun set of word plays,

making it more like “Have a Loopy Hump Day!”

Humps are due to our getting up the hill and supposedly, for the

rest of the week, it will be smooth sailing down that hill. I hope

this hump wasn’t too big of a challenge for you to reach! Many of

us were saying we were ‘hung over’ due to too much chocolate and

sugar intake over the weekend!

Humps make me, of course, think of the various animals with humps,

like the camel and humpback whale. Then, my mind wanders off to

rhymes, “Does anyone still ask those polite words, at tea, ‘Do you

want one lump or two?'” (I suppose that the British ‘high’ tea,

still includes good etiquette, but wonder if people still buy sugar

cubes to carry out this practice?)

While minds are unraveling, (or are you ‘unwinding’ yet?) I think of

the poor man who is the “Hunchback of Notre Dame.” I feel for those

who have deformities and see my Mom’s posture slipping, with a small

little hump forming on the back of her neck. I am trying to tell all

around me, to remind me to put my shoulders back and straighten up!

Train of thought is taking me into a dark tunnel and I may just get

‘off track’ completely!

I do think that it is sad when people used to put lumps of coal into

‘naughty’ children’s stockings…

Even though hemp and hump aren’t rhymes or even related, have you

heard they are now able to dispense medicinal marijuana out of new

vending machines? (Of course, you will need a valid I.D. and a

Doctor’s orders…)

I also heard that Willie Nelson claims that by smoking pot, instead

of cigarettes, that it ‘reversed his emphysema!’ Apparently, he was

diagnosed with this disease while in his forties, smoking cigarettes.

Supposedly, Willie got concerned about his singing voice, so he chose

to quit the one bad habit and continue on with smoking weed.

In the pursuit of some smiles and chuckles, I have a few more

entertaining tidbits that I heard recently. Trivia Pursuit always

was one of my favorite family games…

Do you remember the television show, “Wings?” My parents and I liked

it, due to its ensemble cast and ongoing jokes. It was set in a small

airport in Connecticut, where the young, attractive woman who ran the

coffee shop, was played by Crystal Bernard. You may remember one of

her interesting qualities was, she was a talented musician, singing

and also, playing a cello.

“Wings” included the roles of two brothers, one who was responsible

and the other; less so. They were the “Hackett Brothers,” owners of

the fictitious, “Tom Nevers Field” Airport.

You may know that the people, ‘graduated’ and found new adventures

after the show ended. The man who sat in the coffee shop, who was a taxi

driver, was played by Tony Shalhoub. He moved on to have a successful

show called, “Monk.” Then, one of the brothers, the one who was a little

on the wild side, (Steven Weber played him,) was recently on one of my

favorite re-makes, “Dallas.” Steven Weber is playing the governor of

Texas.

Then, I spotted on last night’s funniest comedies, where a female lead

is just hysterical. “The Mindy Project” stars Mindy Kaling, an Indian

woman who is a gynecologist.

Last night, (4/22/14), another celebrity ‘grad’ from “Wings” was on her

show, playing a cop. His name is Tim Daly, who was the dark haired

‘responsible’ Hackett brother.

By the way, “Wings,” ran for seven years from 1990 until 1997. Its

setting was in a small town in New England. Most of the scenes, like

another one of my favorite ‘oldies’ “Barney Miller” (which seemed to

never leave the squad room.) Well, the “Wings'” characters never seemed

to fly anywhere! They were mostly ‘stuck’ in the airport terminal or

occasionally, the hangar.

Pretty good, clean-cut comedy that has a fond place in my heart. There

was a wacky woman who played the ‘reservations’ clerk, who was an elderly

lady. No one could ‘put one over’ on her! She was portrayed by Rebecca

Schull. Thomas Haden Church’s character was the aircraft mechanic. He

left the show in 1995, to be in other character roles, both television

and in movies… like “Spider Man,” “Sideways,” and a really fantastic

movie about life and death, “We Bought a Zoo,” with Matt Damon as the

lead, while T. H. Church is a real ‘character’ in it!

A sports trivia question could include, “What Columbus team may make a

National Playoffs?” It would be the Columbus Blue Jackets!! They have

made it to Game #4 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs!

Hurrah, for the Blue Jackets! They play the Pittsburg Penguins at 7 p.m.

tonight.

The lovely Sally Field graces a woman’s magazine looking mighty fine, with

a pretty Spring dress on. She had to gain numerous pounds to portray one of

her finest acting roles as Mary Todd Lincoln, in the movie, “Lincoln.” She

is best known for her humorous roles, her acting career started while only 19

years old in “Gidget” and then, “The Flying Nun.” I loved her in, “Places in

the Heart” and her Academy Award winning role as, “Norma Rae.” Single men,

did you know she has been single for nearly 20 years? (Divorced in 1975.)

Sally is only 9 years and 9 days older than I am and I have been so lucky

to have sometimes been told I ‘remind’ people of her, including my little

brother, Richard!

I did a recent post about the famous Pharrell Williams’s song, “Happy.”

I could not believe my ears today, on the radio, hearing David Lee Roth,

of Van Halen fame singing along to “Happy!” I mean, the man is a Rock

and Roll legend, inducted to their Hall of Fame in 2007. Do you expect

the man who made the songs, “You Really Got Me” and “Jump” to sing this

song… Wait! There isn’t much of a “leap” from his song, “Jump” to the

song, “Happy!”

Now, the final smile that will also produce an “Awwh!” from all of you,

is the story about the couple whose house burned down in Connecticut.

It was such a shame, for Megan and Bryan who lived together. But, the

wonderful ‘love story’ with a ‘happily ever after’ ending is that he

confided in one of the firefighters, who stayed and sifted with him,

through all the ashes to find…

The diamond engagement ring that Brian had bought Megan!

Once found, Brian got on his knee and proposed to Megan!

The viewers were neighbors and firefighters, alike!

Even better…

A week after their home burned down and everything in it,

they got married right in front of the house’s site!

Sent you some smiles, while “I served up a plate” of Wacky

Wednesday trivia information!

Hope

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I have a trio of sources of Hope. Daffodils give hope in a

book by Lisa Genova, called “Love Anthony.” The main character,

Olivia, lives on Nantucket Island, where we know New England’s

winters are a ‘bear!’

Even while the winter is long, the daffodils break through

the frigid ground. There is a scene or time when Olivia is

watching the delicate flowers,

“Shivering in the wind, impossibly bright and fragile and

brave against the cold grayness.”

There is a plot that includes deep grief, almost overwhelming

Olivia. She finds hope in the beautiful yellow flowers. They

are, to her, a poignant sign that summer will come again,

“and life will return to her as well.”

When we have faith, there is always hope in something that

will shine into our darkest days. It will give us signs, like

the purple crocuses, the bright and gay daffodils, and the

multiple colored tulips, all whose blooms have managed to

survive the coldest of winters.

Another message, from a man named Reverend Louis E. Campbell,

who wrote in 1982,

“One robin does not make a Spring.”

He goes on to tell us of the hopeful messengers

or ‘Harbingers’ of Spring:

“One (robin) can make the spirit sing!

The tardy snowflakes yet may drift,

But cannot cancel out the gift.

Brave prophecies can lift the heart,

And spur the soul’s ascents to start,

The crowing cock foretells the dawn,

Before the glooms of night are gone.”

I have a funny or silly, but hopeful little story

about my weekend visit with my two grandsons. We

like to walk over to and alongside the little creek

by the side of my apartment building.

There are three bridges that we can go across,

one we must go one at a time, holding Nana’s

hands.

When we get in the middle of the two ‘safer’

bridges, the boys (and my little M & M girls

on a different occasion) like to toss pieces

of whole grain bread to the ducks.

I have mentioned, off and on, to them and maybe

to you, that the ducks wake me before the ‘dawn’s

early light.’ They are sending up a cacophony of

quacks to the skies lately!

I usually look at my bedside alarm clock, tuck

my head deeper into my feather pillow, and sigh,

trying to get my last moments of sleep.

Well, guess what my oldest grandson exclaimed,

upon seeing that there were a total of eight

ducks, six male mallards and only two females?

It is almost risqué but he would not really at

the age of nine, mean it in that way, but he said,

quite excitedly,

“Those girl ducks are ‘lucky ducks!'”

I studied his face for a moment, to see his intent

and serious countenance. He was not meaning to be

disrespectful or improper. So, I asked him,

“Skyler, why do you think the girls are so lucky?”

His answer made sense. It gave me hope, too, in little

quiet soap bubbles floating in my ‘bathtub of life.’

“Nana, they are lucky because they have lots of

boy ducks to protect and fight for them. Oh, and

they can choose which ones to ‘date!'”

He is on the ‘cusp’ of knowing about sexual behavior

but not really thinking of the mating calls and the

ducks with their needs and urges to propagate.

Innocence prevails, that gives me Hope!