Friday, January 6, 2012

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Two stories today which I find just incredible.

Just days before the divorce was finalized, Joanne startled Corzine by suddenly insisting on keeping the Sagaponack house. Corzine had hoped it would become a gathering place for their children and a way to rebuild his ties to them. But Joanne insisted, and he gave in, valuing the house at roughly $9 million. That might have been the end of the story, except that Joanne has what one friend calls ‘a real nose for real estate.’ In 2010, after renting the house for a stunning $900,000 for a single summer, she sold it for $44 million. The buyer was none other than David Tepper. Corzine, friends say, was apoplectic. One suspects he grew even angrier when Tepper tore down the house to build one of his own. ‘That was just a massive fuck-you to Jon,’ recalls a friend.”

The guy paid $44 MILLION DOLLAR$ for a mansion only to tear it down to build another? Unbelievable. And he wasn't the only one.

Elin Nordegren is a human wrecking machine ... who just LEVELED her brand new $12 MILLION Florida mansion ... because, well, she can afford it. {snip} We're told Nordegren has hired a high-priced architect to build her dream home…

 Money money money money...


Wednesday, January 4, 2012


When I still had some available discretionary funds, I bought stacks of books, mostly used. Last year alone I ordered 84 books through Amazon. I also ordered 40 DVDs. I figured when the economy takes its last gasp, I'll at least have books to read and movies to watch. So I stockpiled books (and movies) the way some people stockpile canned goods. 

I like murder mysteries and thrillers, and I prefer male protagonists. I rarely meet a female protagonist I like. The one exception is Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum, the spunky bounty hunter from Joy-zee. I read the first ten books in the series, maybe a couple more, and absolutely loved them. Then I chickened out, afraid the writing would read as though it had been phoned in, the stories redundant. 

As protagonists go,  Stephanie Plum is the exception, not the rule. 

Enter The Girl in the Green Raincoat, by Laura Lippman. It's a Tess Monaghan novel, the 11th in the series, but my first. I usually try to read a series in order, from first onward. I'm sure I looked at the previous books in the series, but obviously something just didn't click. Maybe because it was a Tess and not a Tom. And then I saw that luscious emerald green cover on Amazon and read the first page, and I was sold. 

It's a breezy read, both in length -- it's a mere 158 pages -- and in style. I loved the Rear Window set-up. In fact, I'm pea-green with envy it's now been done and not by me. Tess Monahagn is no Stephanie Plum. I can relate more to Stephanie than I can relate to Tess, but I'd like to try the first Tess book, Baltimore Blues. Once in a while a breezy read is refreshing. 

In other news...

> Just 9* this morning when I taxied grandchildren to school and 18* when I picked up Little M this afternoon.

> I discovered the "OFF" button will not, I repeat, will NOT turn on a curling iron no matter how many times you frantically hit the button. Amazingly enough, swearing doesn't help, either.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Christmas vacation is officially over and schools are back in session,  which means I'm back in the saddle again.

The mild weather is history, as well. You can identify the older windows in our home by the iced panes. My car was caked with globs of ice, and it was 15* when I picked up the grandchildren to cart them off to school. It was 18* when I picked up Little M, the third-grader, and took him home.  

Not quite Varykino, still, winter has arrived.


Monday, January 2, 2012


One afternoon while my mother was next door with Granny Harris, rocking and chatting with her on her front porch, Granny’s telephone rang. The call was for my mother. Mrs. Goodier, the telephone operator, could see from her switchboard directly across the street that the reason my mother wasn't answering her own phone was because she was next door with Granny Harris. So Mrs. Goodier rang Granny's number to get in touch with my mother (a.k.a. call forwarding).

The time was the mid-1950s, when women were known as Mrs. or Miss, a time when a small town's informational superhighway was nothing more than a lady with a headset and a memory for details. 

In the village where I grew up, there was no Ma Bell conglomerate, just the Dimmock Hollow Telephone Company situated in the living room of a home on Main Street. Owing to the low population, the phone numbers were just three digits. Ours was 112 and my grandparents' was 290. But it really wasn't necessary to know anyone's number since the operator knew everyone anyway.  That picture is of Mrs. CA Bruning, switchboard operator and German translator, in Iowa,  but it looks pretty much the way I remember the Dimmock Hollow Telephone Company back in the mid-1950s.

On one particularly nasty winter's morning, my mother had trouble driving to work because the roads had not yet been sanded. When my mother called her boss -- which meant, of course, going through Mrs. Goodier first -- he advised my mother not to bother until the roads were safe. Later that morning, Mrs. Goodier rang my mother to inform her that the roads had been plowed and sanded.

There were no cell phones or beepers in the 50s, just the switchboard operator. Doctors made house-calls back then, and should you need to contact him while he was making his rounds, the operator knew exactly where to reach him. You could always count on the operator during any emergency -- fire, accident or whatever. Best of all, the operator was the first one to learn when school was closed for a snow day.

What generated this flood of memories was The Attack of the Pridefully Ignorant: "I pointed out that we were in the Information Age and that practically everyone who communicated did so using digital tools. About five seconds into my response, I just changed the subject; I am not prepared to argue with the pridefully ignorant." 

I'm not a Luddite; I'm not one to thwart progress. We have one PC and two laptops at home. I readily admit cell phones are indispensable. Each of our four grandchildren has one. They master technology long before I ever do. They can txt ms and tweet and type their stream-of-consciousness into their FB pages with ease. But suggest they write a letter...? Which is why in this reach-out-and-touch-y'all society, we seem to communicate less on a personal level. I'm from an age when there used to be an informational highway without much of the fuss. It has been my experience that for the acquisition and dissemination of data, you couldn’t beat the switchboard operator.

Speaking of cell phones... My butt just hung up on you.


On to today's news...
We have our first snowfall of the season. It's a blustery 30*, with a wind chill of 16*. Tonight the mercury will dip to 4*.  This should please our neighbors, a young couple from Florida who have been anxious to see snow for the first time.

Since New Year's was on a Sunday, today is a legal holiday. Of course. I'm waiting for tomorrow when life should kick into gear again, when the mailman is back on his route and Rush is back on the air and all's right with the world.


Sunday, January 1, 2012


I asked my 10-year-old grandson, Little H, if he stayed up to watch the ball drop last night. 
Nah. I've stayed up before and seen it, and let me tell'ya, it's nothing special. We watched it on the news this morning, instead. 
He's ten and he's already figured it out. I took him to mass at St. Vincent's this morning, and he sat there quietly devising a new way to surreptitiously display his middle finger. Like I said, he's ten.

The day began bright and sunny, in the mid-40s -- more like Easter Sunday instead of New Year's Day -- and by midday it morphed into dreary and dismal, which I wouldn't mind if I had that fireplace.