Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Real 'Old Blue Eyes"

I know Sinatra is known as Old Blue Eyes. But Paul Newman was MY Old Blue Eyes. I came within six feet of him - TWICE!!! Both times were at racing events. Back when the Indy style race car was governed under one body called CART - I was a big fan. I even managed to cajole my husband (who at the time didn't care for racing) to go with me to the annual race held at the Meadowlands Sports Complex. Basically they created a course through the roads and parking lots of Giants Stadium and what was the Brendan Byrne Arena (where the Nets play). Well, Norm put up with this for the first year. (He wasn't too thrilled when I got us there at 9:30 in the morning for a 4:00 p.m. race.)

The following year Norm couldn't go for some reason, so I asked my brother, Brion if he wanted to drive over from Long Island and go. He said sure, we agreed to meet in front of Giant Stadium at the main ticket entrance. As usual, I was there early and I wandered around the area where they park the haulers to see if I could catch a driver or two for an autograph and just see the cars. I walked over to the ticket entrance where CART had a trailer for officials and stuff and just as I was going to cross the street I noticed a Volvo station wagon parked in front with a blonde woman sitting in the front seat knitting. I did a double take and realized it was Joanne Woodward. I started getting giddily (I know, not a word - deal) excited. I wanted to go over and say hello - or something, but I was tongue tied and pretty much frozen to the spot. After a few minutes the door to the trailer opened and a man came out with one of those sloped racing caps on. You know, the kind men wear when driving a convertible, and I did another double take because he had a beard and I almost didn't recognize him. It was Paul Newman. You couldn't have blasted me out of my spot. In my head I was screaming and jumping up and down, waving my hands, calling out "Paaauuuulll". In reality, I just stood there and gave them both their privacy. I watched him get in the car, say something to his wife and drive out of my life, ahhhh...

I was still a basket case and couldn't wait for my brother to show up so I could become a babbling idiot to him - "Do you know who I just saw?? Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman, Paul Newman - PAUL NEWMAN!!!!"

My brother must have been the charm because the next time I saw Paul and Joanne Newman was at the Nazareth CART race. Again, I was with Brion and one of his friends. We were walking through the garage area and a convertible was trying to navigate through the crowds. Again, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. I was much cooler this time and just gaped as they drove by, trying not to look like a total idiot.

I had seen several of his movies on TV when NBC had 'Saturday Night at the Movies' back in the late sixties, and seventies. I remember going to the movies and seeing 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' and 'The Sting' one of my favorites. I saw him with Jackie Gleason in the 'Hustler' and 'Cool Hand Luke' another one of my favorites. Lately, he was the voice of the old car in 'Cars'. But those blue eyes, oh, those blue eyes - piercing, warm, funny, seductive, charming, roguish, intelligent, soulful, and just plain gorgeous.

He was a good American, a good actor and a great human being. He bucked the Hollywood norm and lived a honest, meaningful life. He didn't just show up and give a sound bite. He put his actions and his money and power to meaningful and good use, giving back to society. Newman's Own, started on a lark - a bet between two friends has given over $175 million dollars to charity and the 'Hole in the Wall' camps, established for children with serious illnesses are two of the most public examples of his generosity.
He was a good man and will be missed by many for many reasons, but I personally will miss those wonderful blue eyes.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Take Me Out to the Ballgame...

Last night Norman and I said goodbye to a old and dear friend. We didn't see her as often as we used to these last fifteen years or so and that made me a little sad last night. We try to made it down to New York City to see her at least once a year but this final year I'm sorry to say we missed saying goodbye in person.

My husband was born a Yankee fan. His dad and cousins growing up in Rochester and then later in Connecticut served as the foundation of not only his love of the Yankees but of baseball. Nothing brings Norm more pleasure than announcing to us how many days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Norm was there the day they honored Mickey Mantle and placed his plaque out in Monument Park. (I remember listening to that pre-game show on the radio.)

I should have been a born Yankee fan as my dad grew up in the south Bronx, just off the Grand Concourse and sold peanuts at Yankee stadium as a boy. Harry M. Stevens - the concession company that sold us mountains of peanuts, cotton candy, soda and hot dogs - there is nothing better on this earth than a hot dog at a ball park - my dad remembered working for him.

However, I grew up a Met fan. My dad may have worked at Yankee stadium, but he wasn't a big fan of the game, my mom was :-) My dad used to get tickets for the new team that played in Flushing - the Mets. I'll tell you more about them in another post because they are also saying hello to a new home next year.
But this is more about goodbyes. I used to tease people that I had a mixed marriage. I was a Met fan married to a Yankee fan and in New York, you are either one or the other. I had very little knowledge of the Yankee's when I met Norm. What I did know were distant memories of my childhood. When I was somewhere between 6 and 9 years old my dad took me to a Yankee game. We had great seats, right along the third base line, right in the first row! A friend of my dad's even gave me an autographed ball. I think Mantle played that day but he didn't do well. What I remember the most is that after the game, they let the fans walk out on to the field and cross over the outfield and walk out under the bleachers. I thought that was really cool. My only other early memory was seeing the New York Giants play in very cold weather in Yankee Stadium. Again, my mother was the Giants fan and my dad was just the ticket broker.

Fast forward to the early and mid 70's. Here I am married to this Yankee fan who says "Who?" whenever I ask what the Met score is! We managed to live in harmony through the 70's. We even went to one of the playoff games in the Reggie Jackson, Tommy John era. Norman and one of his grad school classmates drove into the Bronx just to buy tickets and a group of us trekked into the city on a cool and blustery Friday night and had 'nose bleed' seats. Last night they talked about the stadium rocking when a crowd of 60,000 get excited. Well, I can testify to that! We shook!

I had a bit of a Met's heyday in the 80's but I was coming over to the 'dark side' after 10 years married to a Yankee fan. You can get the Yankees on the radio almost anywhere in the US. "The New York Yankee Radio Network" - it's called, so for the next ten years or so, it was all Yankees all the time. The Mets became more of a fond distant memory and a lot of them migrated over to the Yankees, Tom Seaver, Doc Gooden, David Cone and many more. I began thinking of them as Yankees not Mets. Then in the late 80's early 90's we were living in New Jersey and for Norm's birthday I got him Saturday, season tickets - 13 games. We would pack a lunch or hit the deli and drive across New Jersey on Route 80, across the GWB (George Washington Bridge) down the Major Deagan and into the parking lot under the Degan and the Metro North line. We'd cross the bridge with the flutist playing the F-Troop theme (among others) with his case lying open with a buck or two of change in it.

We'd come down the stairs to the big metal bat, cross into the stadium and walk up the ramp to the greenest, most beautiful stretch of grass you'd ever want to see. The interlocking NY right behind home plate, the arched facade in the outfield and beautiful blue sky overhead.We'd attended a number of 'Old Timers' games over the years and very early in our lives they would always introduce Mrs. Lou Gehrig and Mrs. Babe Ruth. I rarely ever got a good luck at these ladies because they didn't come down to the field. They sat up in the owner's box and received the ovation their husbands would have. Last night, God bless her, Julia Ruth Stevens, Babe Ruth's 92 year old daughter threw out the ceremonial first pitch!Norm and I celebrated two very important events at Yankee Stadium. We were at a game in the summer of 1991 and after we got to our seats I got up to go the stadium store. I had something to buy. I came back and handed Norman the bag and a card. He opened the bag and found a little Yankee's onesie. He looked a little puzzled then opened the card that had a lion on the front and the sentiment inside said "Shhhh! you don't want to wake the baby!" I had chosen Yankee stadium to tell Norm that we were pregnant.

Fast forward six years. We had arrived back from China barely a month earlier, 40 days to be precise and we were back at Yankee Stadium with Alexa and my brother and sister-in-law and nephew. I managed to get this welcome request in...

It was a surprise more for Norman than Alexa. As you can see she was a little young at the time to know exactly what was going on!In the top shot she's being held by Maggie with Norman right in front and in the shot directly above she's sitting on favorite uncle Brion's lap wondering what cousin Joe and aunt Maggie have. She wasn't hugely impressed! We did manage to take Alexa to several more games over the years and even though she won't admit now, she did have a favorite player in the mid 90's - Paul O'Neill! She even flirted with an interest in Jason Giambi, but she'd deny it vehemently now.

So last night we sat there and watched the Old Guard, Yogi, Whitey, Larsen, the middle guard, Reggie, Willie Randolph, Chambliss, Nettles, Winfield, Mattingly, O'Neill, Williams and young guard, Pettite, Posada, Mariano and Jeter say goodbye to the House that Ruth built and that we have all come to think of as our home away from home. I wasn't sad until Jeter gave his thank you to the fans. I teared up a little during that. Norman, he cried through the whole thing. The pre-game honors and the post game celebration. Like Jeter said, we will carry our memories across the street next year and the fans will still do the roll call, ask for a curtain call and buy another hot dog and toast to the memories of old and the beginning of new ones.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm in a rut...

I think I've been down this road before (that's why it is beginning to have a groove down the middle). I'm in a rut. Well not exactly a rut, it's more like massive indecisiveness. I have all these great ideas at night (after 12:00) of what I'm going to do the next day and the next day comes and ...nothing...I have a massive clean-up to do in the house and my scrap room in particular. I've got to call Dell about getting Alexa hooked up to the Internet because she spends her homework time on my computer! I've got laundry piling up that needs to be done, I need to take a shower and get ready for class - colored pencils, tonight and I'm still contemplating -- taking a nap ZZZZZZ!!!

I had one semi boost of energy one evening and started going through the mountain of magazines that I've accumulated and flagging the pages of layouts and cards and projects I like. We got the cutest cards and stamps in for Halloween from Memory Box and I went on line to find out how they did them because they are so cute and reminded me of Edward Gorey in their simplicity. So now I've got 4 stamps to make Halloween cards and Thanksgiving cards. Oh, did I mention that I don't send Halloween or Thanksgiving cards (I haven't sent Christmas cards out in two years) and I DON'T STAMP!!

I know it's not a requirement but a treat, but I desperately need to get a pedicure. My fingernails are in terrible shape and a manicure wouldn't hurt but my Anglo Saxon guilt complex is saying I shouldn't do any of those things until I at least do the laundry so that my poor indigent daughter has clothes to wear to school...I don't have any new photos for you but as we are still waiting on hearing about a puppy I thought I'd share my 'niece' Montana. Isn't she a sweetie!!

Well, Priss gets home in an hour so I better at least do her underwear. Gymnastics tonight so the joint will be jumping after five. Time to get up and dig that groove a little deeper.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


OH! MY! GOODNESS!!! What a summer, what a first week of September. Are you like me and totally overwhelmed and feel like you've lived a whole year in just the last two or three weeks? It's been a whirlwind at our house and my head is buzzing like the last lightning bugs of summer.

Where to begin?? Alexa is back to school - Oh, happy days! I know, I'm a mean mom. In my defense --- I have no defense, I'm so happy to not have to deal with the daily "Mom, I'm bored, can I have a friend over, go to the pool, have a sleep-over, go to Darien Lake, go shopping for school clothes, take a class at the store, come to work with you..." it went on and on and on...

So here's the first day of school...

Norm is such a softie. He stayed home to see Alexa off on the bus for her first day of 6th grade.

Here is my yearly new shoe photo. As you can see it's missing the shoes...well, you get new flip flops at least. If you asked Alexa, the most important part of the photo is the pedi she talked me into the night before.

We really liked this photo of her with her new Abercrombie tote getting ready to get on the bus. I'd like to say I did the happy dance and got a ton of stuff accomplished once she was on her way, but I decided to do something much more enjoyable --- I went back to bed!

We had a bit more of a peaceful time shopping for school supplies. However, (I always have a but!) WHAT A LIST!! I thought last year was bad, I could open my own Office Depot for what I had to get for this child. We moved to this house and town because of the quality of it's school district. Little did we know we needed to take out a home lone to afford the yearly school supplies! Here is a small sampling...

You will note we have everything from swimsuits to safety goggles, pencils to post-its (all 24 required packs!) Antibacterial wipes to over 20, count'em OVER 20 pocket folder in specified colors. Three, not one, not two but THREE locks and three or was it four jumbo cloth book covers at $4.99 apiece! What happened to cut up groceries bags - oh, yeah I fogot - "Is plastic OK?"


Lastly, my parting shot is of this gorgeous looking specimen of male youth...Alexa had to take another bag of stuff to school. You had to know she used one of her multitudinous (my word, deal with it) Abercrombie shopping bags. Thus begins the 6th grade!!