August 27th – Today is the day!

For all of you who are held in thrall to Starbucks and Pumpkin spice –

Pumpkin Spice

I double checked, it’s August still
Yet scrolling down my Facebook wall
It seems I’m wrong, it’s really Fall.

Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger – nice.
Cloves and allspice – maybe not,
Still, in pie it hits the spot.

Coffee, sure, that’s de rigueur
But sprays and soaps and lotions, Yikes!
The world seems made of pumpkin spice.

Old fashioned folks like me protest!
Pumpkin spice in pie is best,
Please leave it out of all the rest.

© 2018 Grace St. Clair
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8 days after surgery, 6th day at home – What I have Learned

George had surgery last Saturday morning,  that would be August 17th. They put 3 nails/ screws/whatever in the top of his femur. We came home from the hospital Monday night. He cannot put any weight on his left leg, the only medical equipment we were sold was a walker. The hospital was ‘nice’ enough to call an independent non-emergency medical transport company for me so we could get George home. I had to make the call to that company all the ‘case manager’ did was call and get a price. I have other bitches about the hospital but I will save that for another time.

Every day we face new challenges, every day I figure out how to MacGyver our environment and I have to say I am doing a bang-up job with that. Every day there is another delivery from Amazon and every day there  is a return to Amazon – BTW – items from medical supply companies carry a hefty return fee.

I don’t usually post my personal business on Facebook but I did have short notes as to what happened since my only social contacts are on FB – I have no friends or support system where I live and that is entirely my own problem and I am not complaining about that. All my far-flung friends sent ‘thoughts/good wishes/hugs et al – very nice, that’s all anyone COULD do but truthfully, totally useless.

From my own current experience should you ever have a friend close by (NOT someone like me, far, far away) here is what they will need and, trust me, want:

1. Don’t ask – Do.  “Call me if you need anything” you say. Well, no, they won’t. YOU call THEM. Text them first to see if they are available for a call and THEN CALL.  If you really want to help them in some way, just SHOW UP.

2. With one person incapacitated in a two-person only situation, the one thing I assure you  they need is food. Already prepared and ready to eat. By 5-6 at night I am so exhausted that the mere thought of trying to prepare dinner is beyond  contemplation. (Hell, by that time of the day I truly do not even know my own name.) So – bring your friend food – something they can pop into the microwave or heat up quickly in the oven. Hopefully you know your friends well enough to know what they like to eat. Bring them healthy snacks – if you know they like fruit bring some, make sure they have bread and milk or whatever it is that they use on a daily basis.  Bring them a treat if you know what their ‘poison’ is. Not a lot of it, just a tiny bit, but bring some.

3. No one can do someone else’s shopping for them, so call them, set up a time for you to go to their house and sit with the ill/injured person while the caretaker goes to the grocery store. The most perfect scenario here is if there are two of you – one to sit with the sick person and one to go to the store WITH the caretaker. OMG – that will be total heaven for them.  The best thing ever.

What NOT to say –

1. Call me if you need anything.

If your friend is far away and you cannot offer any real assistance, as much as you would like to (Bless your heart) then please do NOT:

1. Send thought and prayers – I know you mean well, your friend knows you mean well but in this situation, when your friend is at the end of their rope and choking their reaction to ‘thoughts and prayers’ is unprintable.

2. “Take care of yourself and get some rest” – Seriously? And how do you expect them to do that? That bit of advice will send them over the edge so far and so fast you cannot even imagine.

What can you do for your far away friend? Just stay in touch – Send them a quick email and tell them a quick story about YOUR day. Your friend wants some distractions, wants to get out of their own head. And most of all something to make them laugh. They most probably want and need a good cry but a good laugh will do them so much good.

So that’s my real life advice – 2 sets of advice for 2 different situations.

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Let's talk about names

yet again. Sometime back I wrote about names in my family.  Being Italian-American that was quite a convoluted little history.

The topic of names came up yesterday, and again today, because Da Baby Princess has a new sister and my husband and I were going round and round about both of their names.

Baby Princess #1 was given the same name as a Greek island – why I do not know, or having asked, do not remember. I do know that they did tour the Greek islands on a vacation. Her middle name is a very pretty commonplace Anglo name after Da Papa’s grandmother.

Baby Princess #2 also has an unusual name, in this case she is named for/in honor of, a woman who has the same profession as Da Papa and I was told she is quite renowned in their mutual profession. Her middle name is also a commonplace Anglo name that runs in the family.

Okay – I understand naming a child after a family member but naming a child after someone you don’t know but admire? Well, okay, why the hell not, you have to call the kid something.

Or do you?

One of my favorite plays/movies is “A Thousand Clowns” wherein the one of the main characters is an 11 year old boy, living with his uncle, and they have a deal. The boy can use whatever names he wants until he is 13. At 13 he has to decide on a permanent name.

I like that idea a lot. Of course nowadays, a child might choose the name of their favorite pop star and live to regret it. The play was written back in the early 1960’s so I don’t think that was a real consideration and besides ‘Elvis’ there weren’t that many celebrities with odd names (Ok, ok – there was ‘Rock’ and ‘Tab’ but I don’t think too many boys related to them.)

Of course you could just wait until the baby starts to develop a personality and then choose a name that seems to fit. That’s another possibility. But I have other issues with names –

1. What’s the deal with middle names? Why? You have a first name that should be totally your own and a last name that links you to your relatives – why do you need a middle name?

2. Does being named after someone, either a family member or someone famous (for one reason or another) have an affect on the child’s self-esteem/self-identity? Does the child feel he has to live up to the reputation of the person he was named for, and if that reputation is less than stellar, does the child feel he is destined to be like that less-than-stellar person?

My husband was named after his father, a junior until his father died, and my husband does not think fondly of his father.  Today he said that he didn’t like his first name but he can’t think of another he would like any better.

Me, I love my name. I always have. Indeed, I like the Italian version even better and I was going to change it but everyone said I would just be called Grace anyway so why bother. The reason I wasn’t given the Italian version of my name is that my mother didn’t know how to spell it and no one would tell her! So instead of Graziella, I became Grace. There is no direct translation into English for Graziella, I was told it was more of a cutesy ‘baby name’ not a real name at all and a loose translation was ‘little Grace’. Don’t know, don’t care – I love my name.

When I was younger (much younger) when we girls were out on the town and picking up guys we would never give our real names, my problem was coming up with an alternative name – there was none that I thought suited me, even remotely. I always tried to come up with another Italian name but seriously, do I look like a Tina? Or even a Marie, which was my middle name and which I dumped a long time ago.

Anyway –

Baby Princess #1’s name, in its original language, means ‘untamed’.
Baby Princess #2’s name means ‘spear’ or ‘warrior.

Do you think Da Mama and Da Papa of Da Baby Princesses had a theme in mind?

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When I listen to music

I can ONLY listen to music. I cannot multitask. When there is music, there is nothing else.

My husband is watching a thoroughly stupid movie, so I went into my office to write a post and decided that, since my noise cancelling headphones don’t cancel noise very well I would listen to some music. I’ve been meaning to dip into some cello music. I choose Pablo Casals Bach cello suites. Not very engaging, I’m sorry to report. Then I saw “The Song of the Birds” – Oh my! Heaven..Heavenly…Transportive.

So I’m listening as I type this, when I finish typing, I will play it again – and do nothing else but listen, immerse myself in this glorious, lush magical experience.

I offer this experience to you –

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Not for me…

I’ve reached the end of my interest in mainstream entertainment. We watch television in the evenings and I have reached the point where there is nothing I care to watch. We stream all of our entertainment: Netflix, Prime, Hulu Live, Acorn, Britbox and PBS. That is a boatload of ‘stuff’. And very little of it is for me.

My husband has less discerning tastes and will watch almost anything, even if he isn’t really interested. Why he continues to watch is beyond me. I have no problem with the off button, none.

He watches the stand-up comedy shows on Netflix, I don’t. I have zero tolerance for being bombarded with profanity. Zero. None. Nor do I care about other people’s sex lives. Nor do I care about 20-somethings, and 30-somethings and even 40-somethings mundane life problems. Been there, done that. There is nothing new under the sun.

As for movies or series – oh hey, I am not a teen or an adolescent. I don’t care about their sex lives either. Nor do I care to be subjected to even more profanity from teenagers.

As you can probably tell, I have a problem with profanity. I have had a problem with it all my life. And, as I have talked about many times before, I still don’t know why ‘shit’ is considered profanity – I think it is the only word that gets blipped on US television.

Anyway, we have started to just re-watch shows and movies we’ve seen before. That list is primarily British and Australian crime dramas and movies. Last night we re-watched “Unfinished Song” (also know as “Song for Marion”) on Netflix. Such a lovely, intelligent movie. But most of all, the featured song was “Goodnight, my angel (lullaby) by Billy Joel. It was not just part of the soundtrack but it was a part of the story,

I am rather fond of lullabies –

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Back to books then, shall we?

A few days ago I wrote that I had, masochistically, started another book by Sadie Jones. My 3 previous attempts at reading her novels resulted in those books going unfinished, indeed, being relegated to the ‘ho-hum, boring’ bin rather quickly. My 4th attempt, “The Snakes” fared a bit better, initially. Out of some 448 pages I read about 350 of them and then…I could not spend one minute more with these people, in that situation. No, I had had enough of them, I no longer cared. I did read the last chapter to see if the story went anywhere and it went to a dark place – a most unsatisfying ending. Perhaps if I had read the entire book, and not just 2/3 thirds of it, I may have seen the point to the ending, it might have all been building up to this particular conclusion – but I could not persevere, I just did not care. 

In an early chapter, one character said of another “He had no reward, he was in deficit to his life, paying out and getting nothing back“. (The Snakes by Sadie Jones). 

And that reminded me of a poem I had written some 40 years ago. I’ll share that with you, if you don’t mind. 

(I’ve never titled any of my poems, save for one, and that only because it was presented formally to the public. I guess the public at large requires titles.)

What price we pay
   for dreams and expectations.
Life time payments
  for undelivered goods.

We pay by pain for
  for pennyweights of happiness
and the account is never closed
  for lack of funds.

A lifetime’s statement written
  in blood red debits,
Credits due but not received,
  no interest earned.

We buy our lives with
  cold hard pain and
And there is no money back,
  no satisfaction guaranteed.

No refunds – no returns – no delivery
  But always payment due.

© Grace Torre St. Clair

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It just seems wrong…

to sit here this morning and chitter-chatter on about inconsequential things like a book I’ve just read or my Monday battle of the laundry room. And yet life goes on, for most of us. I read a blog post this morning which suggested a mantra of  ‘the sun still comes up’. Yes, well for some of us. Yet I get the woman’s point. She also suggests that ‘thoughts and prayers’ are a valid response, but it needs to be coupled with actions for change. I can definitely get with the actions for change.

My husband and I were discussing the weekend’s events, how could we not, and he expressed his admiration for the Prime Minister of New Zealand who, after a mass shooting with assault type weapons, called for a ban on them and 6 days later, the law was passed.  My husband noted that even if all such weapons were taken out of stores today there would still be many, many still out there – already purchased. Indeed, New Zealand, despite a buy-back program is struggling with this very issue. But still, they are doing SOMETHING. They took action.

Actually the United States does have gun control laws, they are ‘permissive’ rather than ‘restrictive’.  While researching for this post I found an intriguing website,, hosted by the University of Sydney, Sydney School of Public Health.

But it’s not just the easy acquisition of guns, particularly assault-type weapons, that is the problem. It is the mindset of this country that is the problem. A mind set that has been over 400 years in the making. We are no better now than the Spanish conquistadors or the English settlers of the early 1600’s.

We have not learned anything in over 400 years, we have not gotten better as human beings, we have moved forward only in the sophistication of methods in dissemination of the rhetoric of hatred and the tools to act on that hatred.

I have stronger words in my head but I have chosen not to put them here. But know this, for those who agree with, and support this rhetoric of hate, I hope you believe in a divinity, and that in the end, that divinity will have mercy on your soul.

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