A Record Can Be a Madeleine

I came across a snippet of an interview with William Shatner whose latest memoir, Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder, came out last October. In the article ninety-three-year-old Shatner said soemthing along the lines of, “We’re here and then we’re gone. I  mean, who even remembers Danny Kaye any more?”

That got my dander up. I remember Danny Kaye!  Fondly. Dearly. Not necesssarily for his movies or that sui generis rapid fire partee.  No, I have had a special place in my heart since I was four years old.  My mother bought a children’s record album of his that came out in 1960. Danny Kaye retells six stories from around the world. In one, a young girl becomes a maid for an eccentric man who calls his cat White Faced Siminee and his house High Topper Mountain.  Sixty-three years later I can still recite the final line of this story. The stingy close-hearted protagonist in Nail Broth learns to share. In a tale from Russia, a wealthy egocentric home-owner learns the value of modest living. A daft father-to-be consults with the village wise man whose answers even a four-year-old could figure out.  Each story had its own musical composition which deepened the magic of each of the tales.

Shatner’s comment about no one remembering Danny Kaye set me on a search to find this album if I could. I  had kept my copy for decades and even played it a few times for Elliot and Emma when they were young but somewhere along the way it vanished. Google to the rescue.  A pristine copy arrived in the mail last week, the red cover as vibrant as I remembered it. The record, within its pristine white sleeve, was flawless. Slightly giddy with anticipation I centered the record on the platter and watched as the tone arm found its groove.

Danny Kaye’s voice was just as I had remembered it — warm, light, rich with all sorts of cadences and accents. The words of each story came flooding back to me as did images of the Atlanta apartment we lived in at the time. I was my four-year-old self again, sitting on the floor completely caught up in my imaginings as Kaye told  his tales.

Olivia and Leah are coming next week. I hope they’ll enjoy the record even half as much as I did. Danny Kaye just might be will be remembered deep into the 21st century.

*Master of All Masters!  get out of your barnacle and put on your squibbs and crackers for White-Faced Siminee has gotten a spark on her whiskers and if you do not get some pundalorem soon, all of High Topper Mountain will be on hot cocolorem.

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This Tickled Me

Another grey cloudy dreary winter day here in Michigrim.  I pulled into a space in Kroger’s parking lot, fumbled for my list, and wished, not for the first time to see the sun again.  

Then I saw this car smiling at me. Windshield wipers askew, a double smile on the hood, its little window-washer-jet eyes further anthromorphizing the image of a happy little being.  I couldn’t help but smile back.

 If a car can be happy despite its wonky wipers, I can surely weather another gray sky. Sometimes all it takes is a second look to shift one’s mood.

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Forever Blowing Bubbles

Doing dishes can be boring. But not when you use the detachable rim of your smoothie cup for a bubble wand! Even my cabinet pulls and handle were fascinated!

I adore bubbles. They are totally magical.  They defy gravity. They’re iridescent. A bubble is a perfect sphere sandwich of water and soap molecules. When we were nine, my cousin Sharon taught me how to blow bubbles using my hand as a wand.

1. Submerge your fist in soapy water.
2. Open your fist slowly, keeping your fingers pressed together and your index finger and thumb in contact.
3.  You should see a film of soap in the circle formed by your forefinger and thumb.  Blow gently and magic! Your first hand-made bubble.

 photo credit: Martin Darvick

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To Dye For

I love getting messy with Leah and Olivia. Stomping in rain puddles, playing with finger paint, squeezing Play-Doh® through our fingers…Bring it on!

While I had to be in charge of the messy part of tie dying the      T-shirts, Olivia helped twist the rubber bands and held the “rabbits’ ears” of bunched fabric for me to bind. We dipped the shirts in the bucket of dye, stirred them round and round à la Macbeth’s witches.  What a flashback to my high school years when sleep-overs were prime tie dye time — shirts, shorts, undies, you name it, we tie-dyed it.  We made a (quasi) matching one for Leah and an extra for Olivia to keep or give as a gift. And I have a new night shirt. No matching undies however.


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Double the Pleasure

Last weekend my son took me out in his family’s new vehicle — an electric bike/people transporter. Imagine a souped-up 21st century rickshaw where rider and passengers have traded places. Olivia and I nestled ourselves in the passenger bucket while Elliot rode us along Chicago’s lake shore. It was totally cool, a lot of fun, a little bumpy and we definitely drew looks and quite a few thumbs up. I don’t know if she’ll remember this maiden ride, but I will never forget it.



photo (edited for privacy) courtesy of Martin Darvick

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Beach Trash Transformed into Art

I’ve been fortunate to know artist Deborah Hecht for nearly 40 years.  In that time I’ve watched her expand from watercolorist to using ceramic tiles as her canvas, to carving, glazing and firing clay into three-dimensional installations and sculptures, to assemblages of found and finessed objects to her latest wonders — turning beach trash into breathtaking art.
        It began with collecting balloons and streamers on the beach of her Lake Michigan summer home. More and varied trash washed up: bubble wands, bottle caps, plastic shovels just to list a few.  Deborah collected, culled, and cataloged and ultimately created delightful, breathtaking works of art.
        At her recent art opening at the Woods Gallery in Huntington Woods, MI  Deborah recalled taking stock of the bags and bags of trash she had organized, “I’m an artist.  So I did what I do. I  made art out of it.”
        The exhibit is on throught August 31. Don’t miss it.  I can’t wait to return with our granddaughters.

“Beach Trash on Shutters”

Someone snapped this of me and said it looked like I had just stepped out of the painting. Maybe I was looking for a way back in?


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