Archive for November, 2018

Rock Center 2018

Sharing a couple of images from the Rockefeller Center tree lighting — 11/28/18. I wait all year for this! And this year 1) Tony Bennett was on TWICE and 2) the tree was lit in the middle of the show so we could watch it longer!

Tony Bennett (nee Anthony Dominic Benedetto) at 92

60,000 lights!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

AND Throwback Thursday. Here’s my favorite (and only) photo of Thanksgiving Day from my childhood. I’m not sure why I’ve kept it, or why I like it. Maybe because everyone is smiling, even my mother, which was very rare.

Thanksgiving Day, mid-century

At the head of the table: Uncle Al. Then, clockwise: my father, my sister, my mother, Al’s wife Aunt Teresa, (me, the photographer, not shown!), Aunt Louise, cousin Jean, cousin Gloria, and Uncle Louie.

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

Welcome to Boston

The World Series has been over for about a month, so I’ve recovered from the Dodgers’ loss. It’s not so much their loss that has me down, it’s the Red Sox win.

I’m from Boston, so you can see why I’m upset about the Red Sox victory. I like to think that I’m part of that famous curse — the failure of the Sox to win the World Series in the 86-year period from 1918 to 2004.

If you’re not sure why a former Bostonian is ready to heap another curse on the team, I’ll remind you what they did in 1952. In fact, I’ll just start from the beginning and print this memoir, published in the Elysian Fields Quarterly, April, 1993.

Memoir: The Boston Braves

My friends know me as a middle-aged scientist whose interests run from Italian opera to French Impressionism and back. Not much in between, certainly nothing that might involve sports, active or passive, indoor or outdoor. I am hardly recognizable as the same woman who nearly let the tides of professional baseball determine her choice of college forty years ago. But following the Braves to Milwaukee, which I had never heard of, was my only positive thought on the gray March day in 1952 when the headlines announced that the team was leaving Boston.
I threw myself across my bed that day and wept so loudly that my mother shuffled in and bent over me, hands on her wide, aproned hips, like some black-padded umpire, and ordered me to stop. At fifteen, I had never dis-obeyed my mother, so I stopped crying and tried to focus on something in my room that wouldn’t remind me of the end of my world. I longed for my father, who was still at work, probably high on a ladder securing a rain gutter or patching a damaged roof.
My walls were covered with baseball–the official chart of National League logos; southpaw Warren Spahn warming up; Sam Jethroe, black and fast, sliding in to steal second; autographed programs and laminated ticket stubs– “like a boy’s room,” my mother said, with a click of her tongue.
The sounds of the park rang in my head–John Kiley at the organ, not quite drowning out the rustle of dungarees and jackets and the creaking of the old green wooden chairs, raised and lowered as people filled the bleachers. The smells from the battered concession stands filled my room, sweet cold drinks and ice cream, the pink, white, and brown kind I never saw outside the park.
My father had introduced me at age seven to the lively, struggling Braves, who became my perfect friends. In their white uniforms, trimmed in red and blue, they always tried their best to win, to please me. As soon as my mother left the house for shopping or visiting, my father and I, two short, dark figures, came to life in front of the old Philco radio. His strong calloused fingers, never quite free of grime and paint stains, drew the ball field on a brown paper bag and diagrammed every play for me. We heard other programs, too–Inner Sanctum, The Shadow, The Answer Man. But first priority was always for Bump Hadley’s raspy voice, tones which became even less crisp as the game wore on (he did, after all, advertise lager ale).
My father would let me stay up until we heard my mother’s steps on the front porch. Most often she was returning from helping a neighbor with a new baby or chatting with friends while they clipped coupons from box tops and newspapers. At the first jingle of her keys, I would race to my bed and pretend to be asleep, like the inmate who hides an escape attempt from a prison guard.
I used the Braves to direct the rest of my life, too–if the Braves beat Brooklyn I’ll get all A’s and my mother will love me; if I finish three Hail Mary’s before this inning is over, she will not find out that I sat next to a boy at the matinee of High Noon; if Mathews is safe at second, then I will be safe at home and in this world. I had no plan for If the Braves leave Boston.
At school I drew tomahawks in the margins of my notebooks and wrote with pens and pencils shaped like tiny bats that said, “Sincerely, Tommy Holmes.” One time I signed a card to Paul, whom I loved, secretly, of course, Merry Christmas from Lou Perini and the Boston Braves, as if my own name had too little weight to hold ink. Other girls were thin, pretty, confi-dent. They had the right to say “hi” without apology. I could only say, “Did you see that third inning catch last night?” or “I’ll take Earl Torgeson over Ted Williams any day.” (Don’t think I expect you to notice me or acknowledge me. I’m just here as a messenger for the Braves.)
Now, how could I face life without the Braves? Without my father and our wonderful conspiracy, was my real question. Without a way to talk to other kids, was another.
I ground the terrible newspaper into my chenille spread and wondered what I could have done to prevent this loss. A novena to St. Anthony? No candy during lent? An urgent letter to Tom Yawkey, the Red Sox owner who refused to help the Braves by sharing Fenway Park?
The same papers and newscasters that brought word of the future of the Boston Braves that spring told of anti-British riots erupting in Egypt, of Albert Schweizer giving his life to others, of H-bomb tests in the Pacific. But current events did nothing to give me perspective, to help me with my struggle.
The next day, I barely heard the voices around me. “It’s your father’s fault you’re this way,” from my mother. “I guess now you’ll have to be a Red Sox fan.” This from classmates who did not understand that existence is not like a baserunner, sprinting from one anchored sack to the next, around to home; it is like a whisper of wind under a fastball, waiting to be named by the umpire. “They ain’t nothing ’til I calls them,” says the umpire.
My father understood. I listened carefully and believed his simple message–”We did that long enough, cara, we’ll find something else.” And through the next thirty years until he died, we did indeed find “something else” in our adult relationship.
But, more amazing, Paul (with unparalleled genius he had figured out who sent him the card) also came through. “Now you can come to your own high school basketball games,” he said, “and let the Braves go west.”
I did even more than that–I let all of baseball go west and never followed it again.
From time to time through the last forty years, I have watched baseball games out of the corner of my eye and sometimes allowed the cheers of the crowd and the crack of the bat to carry me back to the old Philco. When friends hear the story of “my life as a Braves fan” they mistakenly think it would take little to turn me into a 1990s fan. They offer tickets and invite me to tailgate parties. But reentry into baseball cannot unearth the passion I felt in the 5Os, exulting in Bickford’s hot August no-hitter, moping when Antonelli popped up (pitchers took their turn in the batter’s box back then!), defending my underdog Braves with all my energy.
The shapes and motions of baseball are part of my past, in scrapbooks and on closet shelves with my saddle shoes. The comings and goings in the ballpark, inning by inning, game by game, season by season-even city by city-introduced me to the rhythms of life. Baseball and the Braves have already done all they ever needed to do for me.

-

Get some rest

Nothing brings on more advice than a health/injury incident. Not that I’m ungrateful, but sometimes it takes all my patience not to run through my life’s experiences, especially with medical/health advice. A recent trip-and-fall accident brought out some of my favorites.

Still image print, NYPL, Gautier-Dagoty, Arnauld-Eloi, 1741-1771

1. Get some rest. As if I’m deliberately staying awake, tossing and turning, hurting, whatever. As if could just slap my forehead and say, “Gosh, I never thought of that!” (Here I would close my eyes and z-z-z-z-z-z.)

2. It’s nature’s way of telling you to slow down. Oh, and what if it’s nature’s way of telling me to speed up? That I’m not doing enough, otherwise I wouldn’t have time to have this accident?

3. See a physical therapist. This one brings out a long list of painful experiences, of which these are among my favorites:

– the most honest PT: this guy looked at my x ray, asked if it hurt to sit. When I said no, it hurts to not sit, he said that was wrong, and therefore he couldn’t help me.

the funniest PT: this was a woman who told me to get up on a table taller than I am. When I said I couldn’t get up there, she said she couldn’t help me. The next day I got an email saying she’d welcome me back when I was better. Hello?

-- the monster PT: this guy levered me up on a high table and forgot about me until I was screaming loud enough to attract the person next door.

the second monster PT: this woman hooked me up to electrodes and went to lunch.

I could go on, but I’ll close with this:

What with the lack of guarantees offered by medical science, who knows from cause and effect? When my nephew’s knee went out they told him it was because he didn’t exercise enough. When my friend’s knee went out they told her it was because she exercised too much.

See what I mean?

Cheaper Than a Therapist

I’m happy to welcome my friend, best-selling author LOIS WINSTON as my guest blogger today, and here’s why!

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.

~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~

I’m not one of those authors who always knew they wanted to grow up to write novels. The urge to write came upon me much later in life during a time of great personal stress and upheaval. We all deal with stress in different ways. Some people run marathons, others run to therapy, and still others run to the mall for retail therapy. None of these were viable options at the time.

After years of a mandatory daily mile run around the high school track for gym class—which had to be accomplished in under ten minutes—I’ll only run to escape a killer hot on my heels. Otherwise, forget it!

As for therapy, retail or otherwise, one of the factors causing me stress at the time was financial. We were eating macaroni and cheese casseroles most nights to stretch the food budget. No way could I afford a new pair of socks, let alone a shrink.

So I began to write. It all started with a dream. I normally don’t remember my dreams, but I remembered this one in vivid detail. Each night the dream returned, unfolding like the chapters of a book. Eventually, I decided to write the dream down, and before I knew it, I’d written 50,000 words. That dream, after ten years, many rewrites, and an additional 50,000 words, became the romantic suspense, Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception, the second book I sold to a publisher.

I not only discovered that I enjoyed writing fiction, I realized that writing relieved my stress. Losing myself in my characters enabled me to escape my own problems, if only for a little while. I probably could have accomplished this by journaling, but many years ago I discovered my mother was reading my diary, and I hadn’t written anything truly personal since.

Writing fiction became very cathartic. I could instill various characters with bits and pieces of myself. Every book I’ve written has a little of me in at least one of the characters. But which characters and what traits remain my secret—with one exception. In my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series Anastasia’s communist mother-in-law Lucille is patterned after my own communist mother-in-law. Anastasia’s reactions to her often mirror my own thoughts and actions from back when my mother-in-law was alive. Although I have to admit, Anastasia often handles these situations better than I did at the time. In my defense, though, I’m only human. She’s my better angel, personifying the woman I strive to be. That’s the beauty of fiction. We can recreate ourselves through our characters.

New Release!

Drop Dead Ornaments

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 7

Anastasia Pollack’s son Alex is dating Sophie Lambert, the new kid in town. For their community service project, the high school seniors have chosen to raise money for the county food bank. Anastasia taps her craft industry contacts to donate materials for the students to make Christmas ornaments they’ll sell at the town’s annual Holiday Crafts Fair.

At the fair Anastasia meets Sophie’s father, Shane Lambert, who strikes her as a man with secrets. She also notices a woman eavesdropping on their conversation. Later that evening when the woman turns up dead, Sophie’s father is arrested for her murder.

Alex and Sophie beg Anastasia to find the real killer, but Anastasia has had her fill of dead bodies. She’s also not convinced of Shane’s innocence. Besides, she’s promised younger son Nick she’ll stop risking her life. But how can she say no to Alex?

Buy Links

Amazon https://amzn.to/2MBo1xS

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/drop-dead-ornaments

iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/drop-dead-ornaments/id1431548050?mt=11

Nook https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/drop-dead-ornaments-lois-winston/1129345148?ean=2940161937181

Website: www.loiswinston.com

Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog: www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/anasleuth

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Anasleuth

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/722763.Lois_Winston

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