un petit holiday hangohvaire

tgiving2015manifested itself with a tickle in the throat, striking Papa bear first on Thanksgiving itself and now your faithful blogger is also afflicted, obliged to nurse the turkey soup, tea and cold cure drinks while confronting bills to pay, piles to sort, laundry to fold and a novel to write. The roof is to be done between today’s posting and the next. It will be a two day affair, and a photographic extravaganza to be sure. Thursday’s dinner went over beautifully. The guests and family and friends were warm and the pets were exemplary. Note three dogs, all of whom were camera ready for the pre-meal group photo.

The Unbearable Strangeness of Seeing

The above photo is from Thanksgiving 2008, filled with the energy of Yes We Can. And then you catch glances of your self as seen through memory and time. It is a kaleidoscope of fragments keenly felt rather than duly noted with the cool eye of a dispassionate observer. In so many family photos, one would never imagine the sorrows and shadows of Miscommunication, yet one knows it happened. Didn't it? Or else one surely wouldn't feel that way, would one?

Thanksgiving 2006

    This is a nod to several Thanksgivings. My esteemed brother is always present and with various children coming and going, the loss of a parent and the addition of friends, your loyal blogger and loving spouse age before your very eyes, filled with turkeys, lobsters, hubris and wonder.                


Thanksgiving 2008


Thanksgiving away from the Big House 2012

Perhaps this is the ironic comedy of aging, or is it the regrettable inability to see a story from the other guy's perspective?

As we attempt not to cower, nor throw stones at glass houses, one struggles to imagine desperately pooling your resources to get on that boat to Greece, cell phone in saran wrap and child bundled up, grasping at your hand, as you bravely squeeze in among the others and pray no one drowns and just pray it will be okay when you reach the other side.

It's what the first celebrants of Thanksgiving went through. Albeit they didn't have cell phones. Or saran wrap. Or the internet. But I digress because here, in the Garden State, I blog and dabble as I muse over Thanksgiving's dinner and who will sit where.

Today's Brian Lehrer show, http://www.wnyc.org/shows/bl/ had callers describe their own families being denied asylum by the United States during the Nazi regime. Happily, a generation or two later, they made it to New York and are now listeners of public radio, living in the metropolitan area. 



Thanksgiving 2014, first course in Chelsea, second course on Sutton Place to follow

In 2010, we left our home, shamefully awkward (in the way that only the best British novelists can describe) because it had all gone awry. Through a series of happy accidents, phone calls, tenacity, paperwork and Grace, it has been restored to us, and I am overcome with gratitude and relief. All I can add is Thank You. Oh, and perhaps this year the spouse will sport a different color than blue. Just to shake things up a bit. Gobble, gobble.





The process

Blessings abound. In the face of current events am reminded how staggeringly lucky I am to be concerned with a porch in the suburbs rather than by- any myriad of tragedies. Breathtaking beauty  surrounds us. Look at the magnificent porch floor. Talk about your makeovers.

The porch before renovation

From this

Endless beginning of porch renovation

Masked man on a scaffold.

to this!

to this!

And from this....

And from this....


To THIS! oh yes indeed

Blessings abound.Now for the Autumnal Beauty Shots!

while the porch railing remains exactly where it is

watch the leaves change

from this

from this

to this

to this

Your loyal blogger

wrestling with high class problems

wrestling with high class problems

while the boys celebrate their differences


celebrating differences

Not much to report alas


Eight weeks ago I posted a photo very much like the one to the left.

The difference is that this photo has a dumpster that is much more full. It pains me to say that is the only difference.

More news will be reported as it occurs. This is your faithful blogger, writing to you from the other grey gardens, somewhere in new jersey.

and they call it puppy love

20151003_145506Began to write all kinds of gnarling gnashing of teeth post filled with angst and dram, but prefer warm fuzzies so can only offer the demise of this summer’s footwear and be so very grateful for everyone being okay and loved ones who know they are such. Cryptic, but there we are. Go Jets!

In Jesus Class, we must leave our cell phones on the table

Thus spake the newest addition of my household, a beguiling Chinese girl, whom I shall call Ana. She is attending a local parochial school, and unsurprisingly, Religion, or as she calls it, Jesus Class, is a requirement. And as utterly miraculous as Jesus undoubtedly would have have found the iPhone, in Life as in Jesus Class, there comes a point where you have to leave it on the table.
Many months have passed since I sat in the parking lot of the acupuncturist and listened to the message inquiring whether our home was still available. Two women, thoughtful and kind, had seen it when it was on the market and I really didn’t know whether it had been foreclosed upon or not.  We were moving on and putting it behind us. My husband referred to it as “the worst mistake I have ever made” and all I knew was the humiliating blow to my exuberant egotism which believed that there was no reason that our lives at that house would not work.

You get what you deserve. You don’t deserve what happened to you. Life is unfair. Karma is a bitch. What goes around comes around. Bad things happen to good people. Did you think if everyone else was required to do such and such a thing, that somehow you would be exempt? You’re pretty entitled, aren’t you.

I called Ocwen, asked to whom I might direct the women interested in the house. I was fed the extraordinary rigmarole that defined my relationship with this particular service provider.

“These women would like to buy the house.”

“Oh no, Ocwen cannot sell it to them.”

“Well, are you going to foreclose, or aren’t you? It’s been seven years.”

“Oh no. This is an attempt to collect a debt and the call will be recorded for monitoring purposes-”

Random acts of kindness occur sometimes when meeting someone, and you share stories of your lives, and exchange ideas and information. As a hoity-toity white woman (’cause I know that’s how I come across) it never occurred to me that there was help for our predicament.

That help came in the form of the Urban League of Elizabeth.  And that lovely woman inquiring about the house, with clarity of purpose told me. “There’s a man there named Charles. I think you should meet him.”

Today we are entering the Trial Modification. There have been countless applications, and paperwork, thicker than what used to be the Manhattan Yellow Pages. And embarrassment, because people like us don’t have things like this happen. When life and your own ineptitude at managing and anticipating it endeavors to kick you in the ribs like so many others- but not the people you know. Because my dear, these things don’t happen to people like us. It’s just not done.

At least that’s what I’d been led to believe. The night we met Charles, he said to me. “I know you feel alone, but you’re not. There are 40,000 people just like you. In Union County alone.” Countless applications for modifications, endless submissions of every kind of bank statement, utility bill, and more submissions had been for naught.  In the fifth year following the Intent to Foreclose notices, and the third short sale of our home that had gone into contract and then simply fell though, we walked away. After meeting Charles, with his help, I began to put the paperwork together again. We were turned down another two or three times, but he talked us through it and we kept resubmitting and we moved back home. We have poured every last centime into patching the house back together and this morning, Charles led the conversation with Ocwen wherein I accepted the terms of the Trial Period of the Modification.

It may not be the end. But it is certainly the end of the beginning.

Beginning, ending and DeJaVu all over again

The move continues unabated. We are marginal enough as a family that big changes often take place using shopping bags and throwing junk in the back of our cars. We have also rented UHaul trucks, but never big enough to do the entire thing in one fell swoop. That’s just not our style. Decisions are made swiftly, but moving house drags on and on. Thank God, the end of the month is here, and finally, finally, FINALLY, all that’s left to be done is to wipe the dickens down at the old place.  So, what does one do after a five year absence when returning home? Begin big projects and adopt puppies of course.


White is nice. Bright is nicer – some more thoughts about color



There is an antiques store on 70th or 71st street on Lexington Avenue, on the west side of the street. Its walls are painted the most extraordinary color of sunshine. Looking in, one is drawn to stay and rest forever surrounded by the what is really, nothing more than a sensational paint job. But you know, that beautiful color just makes a person feel good.20150822_100633

White is nice. Bright is nicer. Hence after much consideration, and not a few samples, I took the plunge.








A whirling dervish of clutter and mayhem

20150812_085339Back in the day, early 2005, in fact, my mother was washing a pair of socks in the sink of her bathroom. I had found a gorgeous Russian woman to be her companion, as her health necessitated she have assistance keeping it together. At the same time as my mother washed her socks, she had the television on in her sitting room and I believe, she told me later, the phone rang. The gorgeous Russian was downstairs preparing lunch for them both.

It had been a hard day. The spouse and I were working together, and may have driven home together as well. Walking into the living room, the space seemed somehow different. I looked up and noticed the ceiling had lines running through it like a county map. I looked down and the old oriental rug’s colors seemed darker, more vibrant. I knelt down and the rug was soaked. They had obviously worked hard to clean up the plaster that fell as the water flowed from the ceiling.

We had been in the house about four months, and these were the rumblings of storm clouds in the distance.

The spouse called Kevin and Ralph. They came by, and the ceiling was removed and replaced. Its contents- the room is 12 x 25 feet- were placed in the dining room. The opening was taped off and the contractors were present for a few days. Once Kevin came in and looked around the kitchen. What’s going on here? he asked. Did you have a party?

Well no, it’s just my usual clutter and mayhem. Moving gives you that. It gives you a profound abundance of clutter and mayhem.


A great leap forward and then

many, many little steps backwards. Our water challenge continues unabated. And unpacking. And all of one’s challenges with short comings organizational and domestic rise up to remind one how very modest is the skill set for the above. The folks in the picture below have their organizational selves very, very much together. My heavens. Talk about your black and white story.

The detail on the stairs and door will have to wait for another burst of time and energy. As we count down to the final push, the plumbing’s complexity has necessitated NEW EVERYTHING unlike we had hoped behind the walls, under the floor, above the ceilings.  A mighty, mighty shout out to M.Poz Plumbing and Electrical- they have been so kind and responsive. At first the plumbing seemed like a straight forward re-connect. Instead it morphed into a triage scrambling of exploratory surgery- and these guys just kept moving, getting it done and humoring my marginal approach with improvising and re-purposing all the components and bits required to make the house habitable. So! Without further ado, may I present some Renovation Porn? The following photos have not been enhanced or photoshopped in anyway… this is what happened to my house THIS LAST WEEK.

20150812_085314        20150813_102043     20150814_123309      20150814_094133

The spouse has been emphatic- No camping and no sharing bathrooms (when one has 4 toilets in a residence, that doesn’t seem an unreasonable request)…. As I  fretted over the pink bath, the holes in the walls and ceiling facilitated an unequivocal updating, mitigating the feminine wallpaper quicker than one might say, ‘I declare!’

Not only are the above pics hot Renovation Porn, they also make for good Blog Fodder (that’s a Harry Potter/Black Adder mashup… Oh yes, and then were the power tools and delivery guys who hauled up a mighty heavy, heavy armoire thing I got at the second hand furniture store- It was so compelling, I didn’t pick up my phone to take a picture… Just stood back and admired the magnitude. Stairs up, roaring and up again. Two guys- very much over forty years of age… Closer to sixty, really. Incredible.

I declare!