Category Archives: humor


woman with ashes

I can’t believe I am saying this, but I miss the old catholic traditions for celebrating lent…and I just realized why.  This morning I dashed into the nearby church and did the quick in and out circuit to get my ashes.  It’s a NYC tradition.  Ash Wednesday is when all the lapsed catholics “come out of the closet” so to speak, and indulge their religious leanings,  just in case….We are too busy to stay for mass, much less stand in line a long time to get the yearly ashes on our foreheads, so downtown churches make it as easy as possible. One has the priests standing ON THE SIDEWALK in front of the church, and people need only pause for a second to get their ashes on their foreheads…at another, bigger location, they have Mass celebrated in the upper church, while a line of priests stand ready in the lower chapel to distribute ashes…if you time it just right, you can make a straight circuit from the sidewalk, downstairs to the chapel, get your ashes, and be back out on the sidewalk again without even breaking stride.

My favorite was a church on Wall Street that had special accommodations for the stock brokers and traders.  Just after communion, the priest walked to a small table  on the side of the altar, piled with little white boxes, and announced ” Would all the people designated to bring ashes back to their offices please come forward?”  Yep.  I worked down there as a temp for several months, and people on the trading floors seldom leave their desks for anything: food, massages, dry cleaning, and all other needs (they don’t have chamber pots, but I’m sure catheters were considered at one point).  Some secretaries were going to take the ashes to work and give them out.

Catholics aren’t required to do a lot of the things we used to when I was a kid, but I’d like to bring back a few. Skip giving something up for Lent.  It’s just planning to fail, like your New Years Resolutions.Not for the sake of religious fervor, but as a break in routine, celebrating the change in seasons and to give myself something to look forward to.  For the 6 weeks of Lent, I don’t eat meat on Fridays, follow the custom of fasting (1 full meal)and abstaining(no meat) on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and before going to the Easter Parade, I go to Mass on Easter.  Churches used to cover all religious figures and pictures with purple cloth during lent, skip all the big music during mass, and only use a few candles on the altar.  Then on Easter Sunday, you would walk into the church and everything was uncovered, the church was full of flowers and many candles, and the choirs were allowed to sing in their full glory.  The changes from the last six weeks made your heart fill.  Just as mulching your flowers during winter makes them bloom with more vigor in the Spring, I think some of the traditions of lent can do that for the soul, psyche, spirit, or whatever you choose to call it.

Just a thought…..


Garter Hose for School!?


People of (ahem) a certain age will remember that the invention of pantyhose for women was a real game changer.  At my catholic high school, the girls were not allowed to wear pants–of any kind–to school and were expected to wear dresses or skirts with socks(very 50’s) or wear Garter Belts with hose.  Yep, you read that right!

Dresses were above the knee if you were modest, but the current fashion called for 4 inches above the knee.  This wouldn’t be a problem, but when you realize that garters come down so far on your leg that the tops of your hose almost always showed when you sat down.  The boys found this a delightful non-problem, so they would cheerfully get an eyeful every time we sat down, and they’d hang out near the water fountain to watch the skirts hike up as girls went for a drink.

Of course, cheerleaders were allowed to wear skirts far shorter than anyone else, and the main difference between the squads was that the “A” squad wore skirts just below crotch length(with black underpants, of course(snicker)….

It was amazing that the nuns let this go on rather than break the taboo against women wearing pants that had been around for decades.  The man I was assigned to as a student teacher told me he was very grateful when the schools decided to let girls wear pants, jeans and pant-skirts.  Since the young girls had no idea how to sit when wearing the short dresses, they would sit with their legs open, rather than crossed and he used to be afraid to look at his students when standing in the front of the room….there was a lot of stuff on view…..On a practical note: garters held an “oops” factor–sometime the little clips lost their grips so your hose could suddenly fall down, and the clips were very uncomfortable to sit on…..Once the fashions moved from mini-skirts to micro skirts, girls gave up on gartered hose completely.  On to wearing go-go(knee-high boots, a la Nancy Sinatra), or thigh-high hose will lace tops, or no hose at all……As far as the guys were concerned, it was all good….

The next time you hear parents or kids complaining about strict school dress codes, you can snicker as you remember this little tidbit….I did!


For most people, the Fourth of July immediately conjures up visions of barbequed meat, potato salad, cole slaw, hot corn on the cob with butter and beer.  As a daughter of a US Army Sargent growing up in the sixties in Junction City, Kansas, for me the Fourth is connected with marching bands, parades, and fireworks!

Nearby Fort Riley Kansas is the home post of General George A. Custer, (yes, from The Little Big Horn) and The Big Red One Infantry Division; one of the premier fighting units in World War II, Korea, and Viet-Nam. ( I’ll discuss crazy George some other time.)

On the Fourth, Fort Riley would send troops and the Big Red One’s marching band into the city to march in the annual parade, then they would have activities on post for people to come out and enjoy.  Usually the band would hold a concert on the parade ground (a huge open field the size of 4 football fields, where soldiers practice marching). Off to the side of the band you would see 6-8 small cannons, with gun crews eagerly standing by.  At the end of the concert of mostly John Phillip Sousa pieces, the band would do the last section of Tschaikovsky’s 1812 overture,   Of course that meant instead of using drums, they would shoot off actual cannons as the piece ended, then from the tallest hill nearby, more soldiers from the artillery brigade got to shoot off the fireworks.  Most years everything went off without a hitch, but my favorite year was when the cannons–which shoot flames out the back of the barrel as the gun fires–set all the grass on fire.  Half of the group ran to get water, while the rest kept firing the guns.  Every year thereafter, the post fire department had water trucks standing by at the concert.

Another year they cleared a huge field next to the body of water we laughingly called a river(it was usually a mud flat) and allowed people to actually ride on tanks, troop carriers, jeeps and other military vehicles….We had never known before that how LOUD, DUSTY, incredibly uncomfortable those vehicles are–with no shock absorbers as far as we could tell, but it was fun!

I am always disappointed when I attend fireworks displays today.  Since military bands marching music is considered corny now, programmers in NYC usually dig up some pop music and play that instead.  People don’t know what they’re missing.  I’ve even gone so far as to bring along a tape recorder, and play recordings of Sousa’s wonder music just loud enough for me to hear; and I’ve noticed people move closer so they can hear too….You’d have to be emotionally dead not to be moved by the piccolo solos at the end of The Stars and Stripes Forever.  Maybe some day the planners will go back to using the right music for fireworks celebrating our nation’s birthday.  In the meantime,

Happy Independence Day!!!

An American Horror Story: Getting out your Summer Clothes

stained shirtThis week I finally admitted to myself that I had to put away my turtlenecks for the summer, and change out the winter clothes for warm weather duds. As I took last summer’s outfits out of the storage the overwhelming question in my mind was, “What the hell was I thinking?” (soundtrack from Psycho….Reet,reet, reet, reet, reet!)

Was it sun-blindness that made me think it was OK to go out in public wearing these far-from-white blouses? (Honestly some are closer to gray or tan than white). And holy cow, the colored tops with clearly permanent stains—on both sides!

Why didn’t anybody tell me—or stop me from wearing them before they reached this state….And I cheerfully put them away so I could wear them again this summer…OMG

Please, before this summer gets into full swing–and you admit to yourself that the sweat running down in your eyes  isn’t just hot flashes–have a clothing intervention with your friends. Stop them, before they see a horrific shot of themselves on Facebook wearing something that they should have burned last September!!!