There’s a giant wombat in the basement of Worcester Museum. It’s there because Henry Hughes was bored of banking. It was the starting point of a story that has led me, via mid-19th century Brisbane and the learned societies of Victorian England, into some of the darker corners of the British Empire.
In 1838, the young and ambitious Henry Hughes left his job in Worcester for a new life in Australia. He was accompanied by the Isaacs family, including two brothers whom Hughes had known well in Worcester, Henry Edward and Frederic Neville. Hughes and the two Isaacs brothers — just 22 and 18 at the time of their arrival in Australia — bought a farm in Hunter Valley, and settled awhile. But it seems that this agricultural idyll failed to satisfy their thirst for adventure. Spurred by tales of fortunes to be made on the frontier, they sold up…
Look what that MELANIE B CEE gave me? What a sweetheart! That’s not a white elephant. That’s a saving grace!
Okay, my gift recipients are … cough, cough … VICTIMS … cough, cough, cough …are the following: Marilyn (yeah I’m picking on you today). I hope you can use this. I know I could! HEY SANTA?? You taking notes??!
Is there enough money to repoint the chimney? Replace the kitchen window? Maybe even replace ALL the windows!
Oh, thank you thank you thank you!
Since so many of the people with whom I am online friends, what I will give all of you is a year of health, free of fear. Where no one hates you, no one is cruel. Where you can do what you enjoy and feel free and happy while you do it! To all of you on this first evening of Chanukah … be full of joy!
This is a joyous time of year and I send you all kisses and hugs and every sort of good feelings. May your books sell, your dogs and cats be healthy, and all your remaining parts work almost like new!
And just to keep this fun, here are some portraits of the many animals on the Commons yesterday during the preparation for the parade. Goats, sheep, and Vicuna! And one photographer.
And one last portrait … and a reminder that — AGAIN — we will be gone all day at the audiologist at the hospital because it’s Garry’s three -month audiological checkup. There are going to be a lot of tests and a lot of tune-ups of all the equipment.
And yes, I WILL bring a camera this time. If I don’t have time to visit your blog, please forgive me.
It’s just going to be that kind of month. Doctors, vets, and actually a few cool parties that are long drives from here, but we’re going to try to go anyway. At least they aren’t in Boston, so we might actually get there!
At first, I thought I wouldn’t see the birds when the weather was bad, rainy, windy, very cold … and then I realized that was exactly when I would see them. Birds are not indoor creatures. They expect the rain to fall on them. They don’t go home to their comfortably dry and heated houses.
That’s why we get so many mice in the fall. They like a warm, heated house too and ours seems to be the one in the neighborhood.
Today was the day of the chickadee. Which is the state bird for Massachusetts, so I suppose we must have a lot of them. I have dozens of them.
It’s Red-Bellied Nuthatches one day (doesn’t that sound like some kind of insult?) and Chickadees the next. And then, there are the lurking squirrels.
Actually, that’s not fair. They aren’t lurking. They just eat all the stuff the falls out of the feeders and some days are better than others. this wasn’t a good day. Half a dozen little black birds (Juncos?) were walking around yesterday. They thoroughly cleaned the deck.
I became friends with Jane in the late 1970’s in a rather circuitous way.
I worked at a law firm and one of my jobs was to write short Trust and Estate recommendations for Merrill Lynch clients. The person I dealt with at Merrill Lynch was a woman named Jane London. That was Jane’s professional, maiden name. Jane knew me by my professional, maiden name, Ellin Kardiner. This fact becomes important later on in the story.
Jane and I both hated our jobs and spent a lot of time talking on the phone. We had a lot in common and developed a great rapport. We only met in person once, when both of our bosses took us all out for lunch. We hit it off fantastically.
At one point, Jane had just gotten married and was house hunting. She wanted to move to a coop on the upper east side. I had just moved to a coop on East 92nd Street, so I was giving her advice.
For some reason, which I can’t remember, our professional relationship ended and we lost touch. By then I was pregnant. I gave birth over two months early and quit my job to stay home and take care of my preemie.
I made friends with a woman in my building who was also an older (I was 30) stay at home mom with young kids. Her name was Janet. One day, Janet told me that she had met a new tenant in our building, on our elevator line, who was also a stay at home mom in our age group. Her name was Jane Berenbeim. By now I was using my married name, Ellin Kaiser, so Jane was told she was meeting someone named Ellin Kaiser. You can see where this is going.
We all arranged to meet at Janet’s apartment. I got there first and was nursing my son. Jane walked in and we looked at each other in disbelief. “Jane London!” I cried! “Ellin Kardiner!” Jane exclaimed! We didn’t realize that we were seeing an old friend again because we didn’t know each others’ married names! We also hadn’t realized that Jane had, in fact, bought an apartment in the same building I was living in, just three floors down.
We became close friends and our kids grew up hanging out at each others’ homes. We would run up and down the back stairs to see each other. Jane and I both had second children and we both named them Sarah. We stayed in touch for a while after I moved to Connecticut in 1991 but eventually, we lost touch.
We reconnected recently and are happily back in each other’s lives. We still have a lot in common and enjoy each other’s company. Our husbands get along famously as well. So this friendship is back on track and destined to last for the rest of our lives!
We are always in the middle of dealing with our relatives, especially this time of year. It can be a challenge. We love them but brokering who is going where while trying to avoid the inevitable battles which will last until the next century leaves us having “loud conversations” with each other.
Which is not fair. It isn’t even our drama. I suppose that’s why some families just give it up after a while. The drama overwhelms the joy.
We don’t have Mom and Dad, Gramps or Gramma, Uncles or Aunts to consult for help. We’re it!
I look at the old photos of my family from long, long ago. I wonder how they dealt with these things. They look so young and carefree. I know things were not always easy for them as my brothers and I grew up. I still recall “loud conversations” between Mom and Dad.
I used to wonder why they didn’t resolve things easily like they did on family TV shows which were forever playing as we were growing up? You know, where father definitely knew best? I once even asked my Mom why our house wasn’t like Donna Reed’s home. You can guess how she answered me.
Why didn’t the clock stop for Marilyn and me when we were younger and healthier with some of those beloved family members still around to help us deal with stuff. We’re the “old folks” now, the senior members of what was once a lot bigger bunch of relatives.
Family are us. It’s more than a little disconcerting.
Today, we actually got outside with cameras. It wasn’t raining and for a few hours, it was partly sunny. It was cold, but not bitter … and I needed prescriptions and some food. I’ve been waiting for the beginning of the month and the arrival of money and pickings were getting a bit thin.
Phew. We made it.
Uxbridge was holding its annual Christmas Parade, so not only did we get my prescription and groceries, but we got a place to park. We took about 300 pictures of the Commons as they were getting ready to start the parade.
And then … I saw the clock and a tower! I took pictures! Oddly, it came out square. I forgot that the only part of the old church that still functions is the clock.
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