Friday, September 28, 2012


My grandfather passed away when I was twenty-one, two weeks after I graduated from college. This was before it occurred to me to look outside of myself and peer group for things that might have been interesting. Each of us has such a rich history that we are often missing opportunities to find out about. Day to day stuff seems to trump all. There is so much to sift through. All at once it feels like everything matters, or so overwhelming that none of it does. I have some very vivid snapshot memories from when I was a kid, but sometimes am missing how the whole tale fit together or where it started. Sometimes it is such a welcome spot in a hectic day to hear a story that just stands on its own, presented in a way that all we have to do is listen. Luckily, a lot of times, all you have to do is ask the right person the right question...thanks Dad!

When my grandfather turned 16, in 1928, it was time to get to work. He initially wanted to be a stone mason, but that had an unpaid apprenticeship and several levels to work through to be on the job. The next logical choice was to attend barber school? The training in Fordham was quick, they then practiced on balloons using single blades, then progressed to paying folks living on the street to be practice heads. After achieving success, it was off to work in an actual shop. The standard order of the day at a barber shop was a shave and a haircut.

My grandfather soon realized that there was more money to be made at a beauty parlor due to the diversity of requests. After finishing beauty school (no drop out here) in Manhattan, in his twenties, he went to competitions to see what sorts of things were going on in the beautician world. Haircuts were not the rage among women in that day, but color and styling were. He did win some awards at the competitions and had started to mix his own dyes. At that time, women were trying to get their hair dyed close to their natural colors, and without the colorwheels and do it yourself kits of today, it took some professional doing to get a decent match.

I never really thought about who was actually going to my grandfather's shop, that he co-owned with a woman named Sally, back in the day. My father explained that, on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, there were three levels of customers. First, working women who just needed to maintain their hairdos went to the shop. Due to the shop's location in a wealthy area, relative to the rest of the Bronx, where many of the men went to work daily in Manhattan, there were wives who could afford to have standing regular appointments. Finally, there were everyday people who were customers when special events arose that they wanted to spruce up for. Thursdays and Fridays were the busiest days in anticipation of the weekend. They accommodated these people's schedules and requests often working from 7:00a.m. until 11:00 p.m. on those days. The wash and set was the most popular - big hair with spray, and color. It also became clear that most women liked to have their hair done by men, so a second man was hired and worked his entire career at the shop. While makeup was not available on a grand scale, they started carrying it at the shop.

On my grandfather's sixty-second birthday, he put the shop on the market. He and my grandmother left soon after for what had been their summer place in Brewster, NY. This is where my stronger memories start to kick in. My grandfather set up a shop in the downstairs of the house. One of the things I remember most about my grandfather being a hairdresser was the sort of bronze colored plastic bottle of hair dye, with the pink top, that was always speckled with some very dark indigo. Silver Fox was the name of the color. My cousin and I thought it was so funny that these women wanted blue hair, as we were not sold on the concept that the end result would really be a silvery gray. Another fond memory was riding the swivel chair that he had. Seriously, how long could two six year olds be amused by spinning around in a chair that also had the ability to raise and lower? Quite awhile, apparently. I still feel nostalgic at the salon when the foot release lets that audible bit of air out, causing the chair to lower.

I remember some joking and mumblings about my grandfather's scissor works when it came to us kids. I also remember being a rather unhappy young teenage girl heading upstairs after my turn in the chair. His cutting technique was always the same, and what worked for one cousin, worked for the next. I never stopped to wonder why his skill with his regular customers did not seem to be translating onto my head. Of course, I have also led a lifetime of wanting my hair to magically arrange itself in styles it is not meant to take on. Now when I stop to think about the era my grandfather was successful in, I realize that people weren't very often doing things like growing their hair out, only to get it all chopped off the following year. He was very current for his customers, who were not typically under thirty years old. When I think back on the older women I knew as a kid, they looked the same for the duration.

During my grandmother's illness, my grandfather became very adept at washing and styling hair for people who were unable to get out of bed. He brought his skills to the hospital where he volunteered for over ten years earning his 5,000 hour pin. He also made house calls, and still welcomed customers into the magic chair downstairs. Often men and women from the hospital and/or their spouses became regular customers.

My father can sometimes be heard commenting on someone's hair style or color, while mentioning that he was the son of a hairdresser. I admit that I am not in full support of there being any sort of genetics behind having a keen eye for coiffures. Case in point, this granddaughter of a hairdresser recently realized she bought the wrong color temporary hair dye and was too lazy to exchange it, and decided hiding the gray was more important that having the rest of her hair a desirable color. There are a few posts I could direct you to that would further display my deficient cosmetology skills. It warms my heart to know that this would not have disappointed my grandfather, as he had a fine sense of humor and a kid's playful spirit. He would be laughing with me.

Andrea: 2 1/2...Grandpa: 60, yet timeless

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

52 Weeks of Happiness - Week 29

Remember how my trip to the apple orchard this year suffered a slight ding when the Fritter Shack was closed? Well, it made me very happy this week when my husband came home with a bag of STILL WARM fritters!
It is funny to think of how hot those delights usually are as we try to eat them on the spot, considering the ride home was over a half hour. 

He had been refereeing a football game a few miles down the road from the orchard. To make his trip worthwhile though, he bought more fritters than the three I would typically get for my son and I to share. Yes, I used poor judgement in just how many of them I ate, which was on top of the poor judgement I used while stuffing chocolate in my face before my surprise arrived. Oh, but I was still happy...make no mistake! I was happy again the next morning when I reheated the two leftovers in the toaster.

I was also happy to be thought of, I must admit!

Thanks Leigh for hosting the happy every week!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Random as usual

Well, let's start out with word that this blog got someone working with the store that I mentioned bra shopping at. She makes sure that the store is represented accurately and effectively online. The email she sent hoped that I would link to the store's bra page in my post, but I don't think I can actually encourage anyone to order a bra online (considering how well my fittings go), although the selection there IS fabulous. I was also offered a 10% off code. Um, I got a 30% off coupon in the mail for doing nothing AND the lowest coupon amount that place offers its customers is 15%, so let's try not to be insulted. Moving on...

This guy was all business up front while picking out his beverages, but little did I know...
...about the party in the back. Too late, farewell mullet man.

Not only are the zombies coming...
...but they are bringing disco back! Please let the Solid Gold Dancers be with them.

OK, I saw this hanging on the wall, behind my husband's chair in our third floor French class, at open house last week. I was so darn distracted by its placement and possibilities, yet my son had not noticed it in two weeks of classes. It was pretty close to the door, obviously.
We spent some time with our dear friend google and learned so much about this evacuation chair. I still have concerns over the logistics of finding the room with the chair in an emergency, with hoards of crazed teenagers remaining calm by flipping out. However, I do understand the purpose better, now that my suspicion that it might have been to restrain trouble makers has been put to rest.

I got trapped in my car in the grocery store parking lot yesterday very briefly, but still amusing. As I grabbed my purse off the passenger seat, the woman driving the car to my left scooted her mini cart in to unload her groceries right next to my door. Now, I would think that she saw me pull in since she had to walk past the back of my recently parked car to get to her location. I figured she'd throw a bag in, realize a woman was staring at her from the van 3 feet away and move a little, or at least move a little faster. Nope. Six bags were slowly transferred into her car. Then she paused to reflect for a moment or two. Then she and her cart moved along, and she never looked back even when I got out of my car. I did have the camera phone out at one point aimed at her, but really didn't have a good feeling about it.

Moving back...the problem with starting a post earlier in the day and then doing things like taking girl child to the orthodontist and making dinner, is that life keeps right on happening...emails keep right on rolling in. Yes, I received a second email from the department store protector! Since her initial email was some time (6 days) ago, she wanted to know if I had considered adding the website to my blog, and if there was a way she could make that easier for me. Maybe she'd like to guest post? I am pretty sure I have to respond, as closing my eyes waiting for her to go away did not work. (Oh, hi there you if you're here. I am talking about a completely different weird email I received.) I am not terribly interested in doing free advertising for a national chain, am I? 10% off for an online purchase does not compute as compensation in my little world. Is it just me? I could barter. I have a floor that needs mopping...seriously, it is the only thing left on my to-do list for this week!

Where's that Stacy with her bottle of wine? Ah, there she is!
Let's go see what she has going on!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

52 Weeks of Happiness - Week 28

Fresh fruits and veggies make me happy, especially when they are free! I got to forage in three different gardens this past week, with permission of course. Luckily, I brought my camera along for the last one.

I was so impressed by the strength of the vines that held these pumpkins up off the ground.

After recently meeting a tomatillo for the first time, I was happy to see these little guys growing.I will be even happier when they are ready!

A classic butternut squash, but the color of the stem told us it wasn't quite ready to come off the vine.

A little vignette of dark green that I threw together. Those zucchini were hidden, and went undetected, thereby growing enormous. The curly one made me happy, as you know how I like produce oddities.

The perfection in shape and color of this little pumpkin made me happy. The oregano is trying to move in to make friends.

These jalapenos look completely different than others I have seen, but I saw the plant tag there with my own eyes.

It made me happy that my daughter and her friend were interested in our harvesting outing. They were clicking away taking photos on their phones. Here they are checking out the grapes.

I was happy that I noticed my daughter's friend taking a picture of this rose. Isn't it a beauty? Hope it makes you happy!

Stop by to visit Leigh and see what is making other people happy!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Random bits

With only five shopping weeks left until my birthday, there is some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that if you did not plan accordingly, you might've missed the opportunity to secure your purchase of Little Lu Lu or Baby Babu for me. The good news is that Leila is now on the scene, and she might just be the finest creepy monkey doll in the land. While she is touch activated to wrap her tiny hand around your my finger, and also needs batteries, make no mistake...the fine print says she is NOT a toy. Of course she isn't!
I am on pins and needles! I am not just bursting with the wonder over which of these primates will be on my doorstep (maybe all three? Squeeeee!), but with the holidays just around the corner, what other wonders of simian science will be gracing my coupon section?!?!

For some reason, my husband got to fill out the questionnaire my son brought home from his Chemistry teacher. I admit to offering Minecraft-y, but those other two?
Plus, now the teacher has to worry about what the resourceful kid is up to during chem lab. Maybe for number four I should have noted that his father suffers from delusions of humor.

Here is the latest Walmart ad to grace our mailbox...
Now I love a frozen pizza and Edy's ice cream as much as the next lazy mom, but the shear ambiance of Walmart is not what brings me through the door (in fact, I am usually dragged there kicking and screaming, and then leave in a foul mood), but the prices might...hmmmm, prices?

Now here is a delightful dinner option. Got the price, but no idea how much those six cubes weigh!

Um, when did Dora branch out into the adult toy market? I don't think Swiper is going to steal that!

On that note, I should probably go (*blushing*)...

Don't forget to see what Stacy and the other Randomers have going on this week!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Searching for support (again)

I did not embark on this mission unarmed. I had the tag of what was proclaimed to be the finest fitting and most comfortable bra in the land, a Kohls 30% off coupon, and a good friend. Aside from a measuring tape and the secret algebraic formula for what the numbers and letters really mean (which said good friend actually explained on the way), what else could I possibly have needed? Besides a flask.

Two years ago, it was nearly impossible to find my, alleged freak of nature, size in any typical store. Well, women of the world must've united to take a stand against regular sized boobs on correctly proportioned bodies. Now there are TONS of seemingly fabulous choices in my size...oh, but they don't fit. 
Finest bra in the land, and super comfy, until all five sizes I tried. I am almost over it...almost.

Sure this one gave me an attitude, but did nothing for my ego.

I used to wonder why the pretty patterns were never on the fuller sized bras. Today I realized that those lovely designs turn a little ugly in larger swatches.

I did get frustrated, but not quite hopping mad, so this was not necessary.

I just needed to chill out. This bra would also have been perfect, if I was prone to running into walls, with its impact level 2 rating.

I was not, in fact working it, with eleven of the thirteen bras I tried on. This one seemed to be made of some sort of scuba suit fabric. Fabulous, and French...oh la la.

It was hard to remain focused on the cups without my mind wandering to tea...and muffins...mmm...muffins...good muffins...HENCE THE BAD MUFFINS!

Um, so yeah...I am sorry for the person whose ass is this close to her shoulders.

This was like the superhero section for undergarments. Nobody messes with Cheeky Control! Look how she shoots rays from her fanny!

Ladies, please just remember...

I did not come home empty handed, but fully expect to suffer some sort of wardrobe malfunction, when the strap flying frenzy of the dressing room is gone, and I am left alone...with the girls.

Friday, September 14, 2012

52 Weeks of Happiness - Week 27

Ok, ok, ok, so I don't do the dance of joy when the big yellow bus rolls down the street in early September. It's no big secret. However, as the kids get older, I do feel a sense of hope and enthusiasm for the adventure that lies ahead for each of them. That is not to say that I was/am completely dread-free, but this is the happy place, so I am looking for it...digging deep and finding the happy!

I am happy that my tenth grader humored his mother by bringing the new Lego folder she bought him.
10th grade
I am so happy that people were willing to smile before 8:00 a.m.
7th grade
I am ever so happy that I have so many photos to look back at the moments I swore I would never forget. It makes them so much more vivid, while serving as some sort of proof that all of that time has gone by.
Jet pack set for Kindergarten
I hope this one makes you smile too.
Look out preschool
I am also happy that I could do much better than the 2009 flashback photo in last week's apple pictures...2003, baby!
3 and 6
This is such an awesome adventure that Leigh is leading us on, stop by her place to see what made other folks happy this week!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


My daughter had to ask an adult some questions about 9/11 as part of her social studies homework. There were some nuts and bolts about the where and when. Then came a question that asked who the heroes were that day. I was already concerned that I might not have given the answers that her teacher was looking for, but decided to keep winging it. I answered that the firefighters and police were, but that anyone who lent a hand and tried to help was also a hero.

Here is my 9/11 post from 2010

I guess with the election this year and all that we will go back to business as usual as a country divided tomorrow...rats.

Friday, September 7, 2012

52 Weeks of Happiness - Week 26

Apple picking makes me happy!
The trees were loaded with apples. I so enjoy seeing the different colors and varieties.
 I am always impressed by how many apples even a small tree can yield.
 The Fritter Shack was not open (sniff), but the fudge from the gift shop was as delicious as ever. (I didn't take a photo of the box because it was pretty well demolished by the time I thought of it.)

It is amazing how much things change in just three years...


I was happy that some planning enabled my girl to enjoy fresh off the tree apples, even with her braces.
I was also happy that the orchard brought out the same silliness in my boy as it usually does.
 It made me so very happy that we got to share our ritual with my father and stepmother, who were up visiting.

Stop by and visit Leigh, as she has some beautiful pictures of what made her happy this week!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Random reflections

I am trying to pretend that I don't know that our air conditioning is on the fritz. I certainly didn't want to call in for Labor Day holiday rates, and the nights were cool enough to keep things decent inside until later in the afternoon when the temperatures were due to start dropping any way. However, today it is humid...ick. Although I am not sure I can blame my fidgetiness completely on the moisture in our midst, as there is something else in the air...AMERICAN IDOL FEVER..woo hoo! We are catching it tonight! My step-mother and I cannot wait to to see the smiles on my daughter's and her friend's face as they take in the sounds of their favorite contestants. (Um, my bathroom visit is planned for Deondre's arrival on the stage.) As long as our desire to see them happy wins out over any embarrassing dance moves we might be tempted to involve ourselves with, I think it will be awesome.

Sometimes when I fear I might completely lose my mind, I can almost feel myself drowning...
(No Barbies were harmed in the making of this post.)
Other times, I am filled with a peaceful bliss as I watch all of my cares sail away with it...
Why no, I don't know what you people are having for dinner. Bye now.

I was so flattered that the guy puttering around in the trunk of his van on the left thought he had left ample room for me to get into my driver's seat in the van on the right. I did make it, but only because I could not have cared less about any door dings I risked inflicting upon his automobile..

Did you ever wonder how a very certain coffee place feels about your special requests? Right back at you barrista!
(We were not immediately informed that my father had indeed ordered French Vanilla.)
I made some hot pepper jelly last night, but I am not including a photo of the filled jars. Instead, this photo goes out to the wonderful Empress at Good Day Regular People. She recently asked if I could include a picture of my dust bunnies, to sort of balance out the homemade goods that had been on display. To assure both her, and the rest of you, that I am keeping the bar just as low as ever, I present this...
...yes, that is a Cheerio ever so gently suspended in a cobweb on my kitchen baseboards. I did not crochet those cobwebs, nor did I bake that toasted oat ring myself. I am fairly certain I impressed our company when instead of getting the vacuum cleaner or a cloth, I hunched down on all fours with my camera. 

Speaking of webby things, I giggled yesterday when my father told me to be careful poking at a spider, as I did not know what kind it was. Yeah, ha, ha. I promptly told the tale to my step-mother who agreed. Whaaaaat? I seriously had no idea that poisonous spiders were available in our neck of the woods, in part because I never asked. Spiders were one fear I didn't really have, so why would I have taken the effort to gather information that might've changed all that? Well, upon further investigation by my arachnexpert (and her knowledge of how to google things really quickly), we discovered that the object of my fascination was a wolf spider...a poisonous wolf spider, complete with Union Jack markings on his body...
...yet I still couldn't tear myself away. It was like I had met a celebrity.

Stacy has been having her own spider adventures, so stop by to check out what tangled web of random she's weaving!