English Leather

Do guys use after shave lotion anymore? When I was in high school and college, English Leather and Canoe were the “go to” after shaves (whether or not one shaved). I would slather it on – going through a bottle or two a week – whenever I’d go out with a girl. I thought it made me ummm. . . desirable. Instead – looking back on it – I have to wonder how they could stand the stench. At a dance or party – the competing smells of English Leather, Canoe, Skin Bracer and Old Spice took priority over everything else.

Today – I will occasionally detect a whiff of perfume from some (usually younger) lass – but I don’t recall having sniffed a men’s after shave in years. Maybe it’s because the old schnozzola is losing its sense. Or maybe that sense of recall? Either way, times and tastes change. If I were to go out today – and look for an after shave, it would probably have the scent of barbecue sauce or chocolate chip cookies.

As to English Leather and Canoe – perhaps they could be useful in dealing with the troubling smells left by our former and current Presidents. . . . .

Little Feet

[A valuable spring repeat from November 26, 2017]  When I was about 10 years old, I pestered my father to let me drive the family car.  Sooooo. . . . one Sunday, my dad let me drive home from Church.  Not all the way – but the last mile or so — on a road that was pretty vacant and ran in part along a corn field. I’d sit there peering over the steering wheel – my father with one hand on the wheel, one hand on the ignition and one hand on the gear shift.  From then on, I was the “Chuber” driver (“CHurch UBER“) on Sundays.  

Sometimes, my dad would take me to an empty parking lot and let me drive.  Round and round.  So I “learned” to drive at a pretty early age. When Lauren was about 12, I let her “drive” on occasional Saturday afternoons in our Church parking lot.  

My father had a lot of wisdom to impart to me in my formative years (which – Donna comments – are still in progress).  My dad always told me when driving to keep my “eyes moving.”  Watching.  Left.  Right.  Check the mirrors.  And he told me to always watch for “little feet.”  As I drive along a street, I was told to glance forward — under the cars parked along the street.  Why?  Because you can see if there are little feet — on the other side — below the car.  And you can slow down.  It’s easy to see an adult standing by a car.  But there’s no way to see a child unless you see the “little feet” under the car you are approaching. 

I’m always watching for “little feet.”  Try it next time you’re driving.  Keep an eye out for little feet. . . . .

Empathy

Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?   — Henry David Thoreau 

[This is a repeat from April 14, 2018. The world needs a message like this. You will not smile. But you will think] The Cleveland Clinic is known as one of the great medical institutions in America and probably the world.  Two years ago, the Cleveland Clinic produced a powerful YouTube video on empathy.  I watched it for the first time in early March.  And I’ve watched it several times since.  

As I walk from the train station to my office, I’m sure I pass a thousand people.  Probably more.  Each one walks in his/her own world.  With their own thoughts.  Dealing with their own issues.   Health.  Fears.  Demons.  It is important to realize that each one of us has a story.  Each one of us lives with the cards that are dealt in the lottery of birth.  And the life that is thus given.    

Do me a favor – and devote 4-1/2 minutes to this video.   It’s hard to watch this video and not feel a sense of empathy for the human condition.  A sense of – that could be me.   You may want to watch it again. . . .   

How Can You Eat that Stuff?

[A repeat from August 3, 2017] De gustibus non est disputandum is a favorite phrase of mine (I know – “get a life RH“). It means “in matters of taste, there can be no disputes.”  We all have different tastes – in food, activities, temperature, friends, work, politics and other things.  Your “taste” in food may be way out of my wheelhouse but that doesn’t make it wrong.  Or right.  It’s just your taste.  

I love spaghetti carbonara with lean bacon, pancetta and peas.  I crave avocados (see 8/20/13) and smoked salmon with mustard.  You may hate the stuff (you poor soul) but – hey brother – de gustibus non est disputandum.  

I know a lot of folks swear by soft shell crabs.  But what is tasty about chewing on shards of broken plastic?   I’m not a fan of corned beef and cabbage.  I’ve never ordered it and on occasions when it has been served to me, I will nibble a piece of cabbage and bury the rest under a roll.  And pat my stomach “delicious!”   Ribs?  I mean what’s the point?  

I’m not afraid to try new things.  I’ve eaten worms, bugs, brains, innards, gizzards and goat tongue – often in business settings.  But when given the choice?  I’ll tee up something I like.  Or tolerate.  What’s your most unfavorite foods?    

Once Upon a Time

[A happy repeat from September 13, 2018] Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess. She lived in a big castle and had a cat. The cat’s name was “Flashy.” One day, the beautiful princess stepped outside the castle with her cat – and THEN . . . .  

Donna and I happily entertain our granddaughters with regularity.  It’s always special to share time with them.  When we have a meal, we normally encourage some sort of interaction.  It’s more than “how was your day” or “do you like your spaghetti.”  Donna or I will whirrrrr our arms around and point to one of our granddaughters and say “You begin a story.”  The 3 or 6 year old will begin a story – often like the four lines above.  Sometimes – they’ll start a story on their own.   After “and then” — the obligation shifts to the next person at the table to continue the story.  We’ve had some verrrry interesting adventures come out of this round table authorship.   I often include the beautiful – yet powerful – princess going to the local golf course and shooting a sub par round from the back tees.  

Another staple for dinnertime discussion is “Rose and Thorn.”  Everyone is asked the “Rose” of their day — the happiest or most exciting part of the day.  Then we will  ask if there was a “Thorn” in their day — something that happened that wasn’t pleasant or happy.  We learn a lot – from our granddaughters and from each other from these simple yet insightful interactions of dialogue.  What was the Rose of your day?   

Mulligans

[A repeat from November 9, 2014] Speaking of golf, when I’m with my buds on the golf course and we tee off on the first hole, a “Mulligan” is frequently offered for an errant tee shot.  We call it a “breakfast ball.” It’s a do-over.  Even if we’re playing for a few coins, it’s “hit another – nobody saw that first one.” 

Wouldn’t it be nice if in life we had do-overs? Mulligans? For errant words or deeds?   We do in a way though the granting of a do-over often lies in the province of the recipient of the errant words or deeds.  It’s called “forgiveness.”  I’m sure we all have things we’d like to do over.  Words.  Deeds.  And we’re all grateful for the granting of forgiveness (or lack of ill consequence).  I’m sorry . . . . It’s okay.  No worries

But today, there is a poison of political correctness that can sink careers.  Free speech is being crushed.  Do overs?  For the wrong word?  Forget it.   Accusations – even though false – are often enough to destroy a life.  

I’ve said some dumb things and done some even dumber ones that I’d like to call back.  But in the words of the great poet Omar Khayyam:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

Our futures lie within our own hands.  The “moving finger” business is probably a good reason to think twice before we act — or speak.  And knowing of our own fallibility – and frailty – a reason to consider the granting of Mulligans to others.   

The Bakery

My father was of Danish heritage and my mother Swedish. I never had much in the area of Danish food but Swedish? Mercy. . . . . My favorites were Swedish meatballs, Swedish pancakes (my personal recipe is posted on January 31, 2020), lingonberries and Swedish baked goods. To this day, our family will have a variation of Swedish meatballs at Christmastime. But the baked goods have fallen by the wayside. . . . . .

So it is ironic that my mother’s grandparents got off the boat from Sweden in the early 1900’s. And shortly after arriving in Chicago, my great grandmother – Hilma (Johnsson) Sandell – opened a bakery in the basement of 4244 N. Crawford Ave. The family lived upstairs. From my earliest days, I remember devouring limpa bread, cardamom coffee cake and peppakakor cookies. On rare occasion – it was a sockerkaka – a sponge cake with strawberries and peaches (and the obligatory whipped cream). Ahhhh . . . “sweet” memories.

Chicago has a few good Swedish restaurants (Svea, Tre Kronor and Ann Sathers) and a Swedish area on the North Side appropriately called “Andersonville. ” There is the Swedish American Museum that chronicles the immigration of Swedes to shores of America. There used to be a Swedish Club (my dad was a member) but no more. There is a hospital (Swedish Covenant) and a college (North Park University) that have Swedish roots. For Swedish baked goods, I have had cross country deliveries from Hulda’s Swedish Baked Goods in Brookline, NH ( http://www.swedishbakers.com ). Plan to drool if you peruse the website. . . .

Every family comes from somewhere – and most families retain or at least recognize their culinary roots. I am no different. So you will excuse me while I wolf down a few peppakakor. . . .

Zungenbrecher

Sooooo. . . . in response to my post on tongue twisters, my friend John sent me a note offering a tongue twister in German. So I began practicing this Zungenbrecher. I think I’ve got it but don’t hold me to it. Anyway, it got my meager brain churning – and I checked out Zungenbrecher in other languages. I thought you might like to see a few – and practice with children or grandchildren.

German tongue twister

Eseln essen Neseln nicht, Neseln essen Eseln nicht.

Donkeys don’t eat onions and onions don’t eat donkeys.

Spanish tongue twister

Qué triste estás, Tristán, con tan tétrica trama teatral

How sad you are, Tristán, with such a gloomy theatrical tale!

Arabic tongue twister

Al mishmish dah mish min mishmishkum wa kaman al mishmish dah mish min mishmishnah.

The apricot is not your apricot and the apricot is also not our apricot.

French tongue twister

Si mon tonton tond ton tonton, ton tonton sera tondu.

If my uncle shaves your uncle, your uncle will be shaven

Chinese tongue twister

吃葡萄吐葡萄皮儿 – 不吃葡萄不吐葡萄皮儿。
吃葡萄不吐葡萄皮儿 – 不吃葡萄倒吐葡萄皮儿。

chī pútáo tǔ pútáo pí ér – bù chī pútáo bù tǔ pútáo pí ér.
chī pútáo bù tǔ pútáo pí ér – bù chī pútáo dào tǔ pútáo pí ér.

Eat grapes throw out their skins — don’t eat grapes don’t throw out their skins.
Eat grapes don’t throw out their skins — don’t eat grapes throw out their skins.

Tongue Twisters

[An oldie from June 19, 2014] The first tongue twisters that most kids of my generation learned was “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.  A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.  If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?” 

The two others that I remember well (and which to this day I can recite perfectly) are:  Rubber buggy bumpers” and “Sally sells sea shells by the sea shore.”  I was told to repeat them three times quickly and of course I remember them coming out “Rubber bubby mumpersRugger buddy buppersBuggy bubber bumpers.”  The “Sally” one came out equally bad. 

I haven’t given much thought to tongue twisters until a few weeks ago when someone challenged me to say “I slit a sheet, a sheet I slit, and on the slitted sheet I sit.”   That is not one for the faint of heart.  Especially if you have to say it while holding your tongue.   Fortunately I learned this one from Donna early on (must be an East Coast thing) so I took a breath and spat it out.  Flawlessly.  Raised a few eyebrows that did. . . .  

If anyone gets bored, here are hundreds of tongue twisters online.  And there are tongue twisters for children (which is a good educational tool). See e.g. https://www.playosmo.com/kids-learning/tongue-twisters-for-kids/ .   Excuse me now as I wish to wash my Irish wristwatch. . . .

Thread the Needle

[A repeat from February 18, 2018] Did your mother have a sewing machine? Mine did. Once a month or so, my mother would pull out the Singer sewing machine and darn socks, ripped underwear and replace buttons.  She would sew patches on my ragged jeans and I was ready to go.  Sewing was part of everyday life.  I learned the basics of sewing.  My grandmother would sometimes ask me to “thread the needle” for her since her eyesight was not too keen.  So I would kiss the thread and do the job. 

Today though – it seems that sewing (as I remember it) has gone the way of the rotary telephone.  In my house, we don’t sew ripped socks anymore (they go in a donation bin).   When something needs sewing, we take it to the local cleaners and they do the job for a few dollars.  I still carry one of those matchbook-sized sewing kits (a few needles and some thread) when I travel but in the years I’ve carted it along – I don’t think I’ve ever used it (except once using a needle to remove a sliver). 

The Huffington Post had an article (October 17, 2014) that said millenials don’t know how to sew, do laundry or even take care of their clothes.  They also don’t know how to cook (Marketwatch); figure out tire pressure; handle finances; do routine first aid; or . . . . quite a few things.   I am thinking about quitting the legal profession and opening a gas station with a laundry service, fast food counter and a medical clinic.  With Wi-Fi . . . . . .