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Sue and Neil's Story - Part 1: November 24th 2012 to February 14th 2013

This is not so much a blog...more of a book-in-the-making...but it will be in instalments. So, when and where does this story begin? Well, it seems to have begun at a little after 4am on the morning of Saturday 24th of November, 2012 when (presumably) Sue was browsing on one of the dating websites which she frequented and where she must have stumbled upon my profile. Sadly I cannot recall which of the dating sites produced the result - it would have been Plenty of Fish, OK Cupid, or EHarmony - those were the ones I remember us frequenting. FWIW my money is on Anyway, before we get onto our exchange of correspondence, here is Sue's profile which is the first thing(s) I read about her:

Username - SueParis Age: 61

City/Province: Tillson, New York

Marital Status: Divorced

Seeking: woman seeking man

Intent: I am seeking a partner for a long-term relationship.

Body Type: Average

Height: 5' 9" (175 cm)

Faith: Non-Religious

In 5 years: I want to be happily in love and in a committed long-term relationship.

My Background

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian Hair Color: Grey Eye Color: Hazel

Exercises: 1-2x per week

Education: Masters

Longest Relationship: 10+ years

Smoking: Never

Has Children: Yes, they live at home Wants Children: No

Drinking: Drinks socially

Occupation: teacher

Zodiac Sign: Virgo

In My Own Words

I'm a warm, spontaneous, non-linear, random abstract, creative person who embraces life with a positive outlook. I'm looking for someone to cherish and be cherished by....I value integrity, and witty, impish humor (because frankly that's my style too). I am an artist and a teacher and consider myself a life long learner. I'm looking for someone who is intellectually curious and connected. I don't think having a lot of degrees makes you smarter (but it does show commitment!) I think there are many different types of intelligence...I am NOT a serial dater. I'm very careful about who I go out with.

I would appreciate someone who is a divergent thinker in many ways. I hate routine and always take the path least traveled. I will never approach things in a straight line (not my style). The side roads are way more interesting and who says we have to get places in a hurry.

I don't like making grocery lists of things I like but know you have to find out something about me so here goes: I love reading and anything with a historical perspective, I also read a lot of books about art and artists as well as educational philosophy (for my work). I love music that moves me, emotionally, and physically. I am a R&B,Delta Blues, Old rock (60's-70's), classical, Brazilian tango name it . I live in a beautiful natural setting and my spirituality is tied up in the natural world. I am a liberal in my outlook but like to keep an open mind..I'm interested in finding ways that help the world not increase profits for corporations...I'm a humanist first and foremost....Hope that's enough. I've written too many of these essays in the past few months. POF, OK Cupid.....hope to hear from someone out there.

I would like a first date to last however long makes sense.

I think a typical first date should be spontaneous -- I like to set a time and place to meet and then see where our date takes us.

My Ideal Partner

• Is between 56 and 68 years old.

• Never smokes.

• No preference about parental status.

• Minimum education: Some College/University.

This was the first message I received from Sue:

From suparis Sent: 11/24/2012 4:47 AM

Hi, I liked your profile. I'm becoming a connoisseur of such things lately! Your work seems very interesting. My parents loved to visit churches and stained glass windows were high on their list of favorites. I spent many a summer looking at them! I once lived in the Bronx myself (Riverdale) years ago. I know I live pretty far away from you but ,"nothing ventured nothing gained"... -Sue

Unfortunately I did not keep a copy of my own profile from that time but my response will at least give you an idea of what it would have contained:

From neilepi Sent: 11/24/2012 6:26 AM

Hi Sue,

My profile is not entirely up to date but the changes may actually appeal to your non-linear, artistic, creative and less-traveled side(s?).

For a little over a year I have been a resident caretaker in the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage at Fordham. The deal is that I get to live rent-free in the somewhat rudimentary basement apartment and in return I give conducted tours of the cottage for a few hours on Saturdays and Sundays. It is an arrangement that dovetails neatly with my chronic underemployment.

I still do the artistic "stuff" as well although the sparse revenues from commercialisation of my StainedGlassPhotography (add a dot com and you will have my main content site) has given way to exploiting the art of others on CafePress. For two of my "shops" there append /ralley and /fineartdesigns to cafepress dot com There is some creativity in imagineering the items, deciding what will appeal and presenting them in an attractive way but it is a long way from the creativity put in by the Pre-Raphaelites, Klimt, Van Gogh, Monet and countless others.

Last not least I am hoping that some of Edgar's spirit lingers on here and that it may inspire me to complete RiskPremium, which was once a contemporary thriller in the making but is in danger of becoming a historical novel. If you are so inclined you may read the Prologue and Chapter 1 at the website of the title with a dot net appended.

I have not been at all active in terms of dating, unless you call one date in over 12 months "active". This is partly a function of slender economic resources but almost certainly due to other factors that I have not totally analysed. Frankly, not having a car and having weekends fairly tied-up, the feasibility of conducting a relationship with someone 70+ (?) miles up the Hudson is tricky, to say the least. However, as someone who once successfully conducted a relationship which spanned the Atlantic Ocean, I suppose I should not be discouraged or deterred.

I too am becoming a connoisseur of dating profiles and when I apply my selection skills, which were honed in the corporate world, I find your profile interesting and you appear to be a very attractive person. I like your photo a lot - it was clearly taken on a day and in company that you were very happy - and was a little disappointed when you mentioned the short, grey hair (you spell your way, I'll spell mine...). I hope that it does not mean that you totally look your age unlike your photo which portrays someone several years your junior.

Actually, who am I to talk? Right now, as I type, I have a shock of white hair on my face having re-grown the beard I sported for much of my adult life; my hair is also somewhat unruly. However, it's nothing that a shave and a haircut won't fix.

That's all for now.



This was Sue's response: From suparis Sent: 11/24/2012 7:12 AM

Hi Neil,

Actually most people's reaction to my grey hair has been enormously popular! I should tell you that it wasn't by choice. I recently had a battle with ovarian cancer, (which I won..I'm now cancer free.) The hair is a result of 8 months of chemotherapy. And if I do say so myself I look better now then when that other photo was taken! I am very young at heart and working with kids has helped with that attitude! It's amazing just to be still on the planet!

I remember the Poe cottage. It always looked so incongruous in that neighborhood. Is it still fairly Irish? It sounds like a really interesting set up. I also love history and have read avidly. Mostly European and Japanese history. My ex-husband had a huge (1200 volume) collection of history books. He had dual degrees in History and anthropology (BA and MA). It's one thing I miss from that relationship. (otherwise, I'm glad to be out of it).

Yes distance and finances are an issue for me as well. I was in a relationship last year with someone in Schenectady(75 miles away)...I did all of the driving every weekend. It ended after I became ill and couldn't do the drive. My car is a junker and it almost expired as well!

I will try to look at all your websites etc. I only have pretty bad photos of my art work. I'm getting my daughter (she's a photography student) to re-do them and then i want to set up a website. I'm determined to finally put it out into a public arena etc. something I was always too insecure to pursue...I have some of the pictures on my profile on OK cupid..(sueadam is the profile name) It's also a free site.

Well ,it's been nice chatting with you...-Sue

I then visited OK Cupid and left the following message: Nov 25, 2012 – 5:15am Came here to look at your art - interesting and I can suggest ways you can develop and/or market it. Stopped longer than intended and answered what felt like interminable questions of varying degrees of irrelevance. Have now stopped despite having only reached about 1/3 of the way.

Nov 25, 2012 – 7:00am

Oh Neil,I'm sooo sorry. Answering those questions gets to be addictive for some reason!!! It's as if you 're caught up in a labor of Herculean proportions...Hope it was a little fun!

Thanks for looking at the art. The photos are god awful so I'm surprised you got any kind of idea what they look like. I would be really interested in how you think they could be developed/marketed (other then better photo's, which I'm working on!). I see you were up at 5:15am, so hopefully you're getting some rest..hope to hear from you again, Sue

There then followed almost a month of nothing, no communication, while we both went on with our lives, until December 19th when the following exchange took place:

Message from sueadam Dec 19, 2012 - 8:10pm

Hi Neil, How have you been? Is the Bronx still standing? Hope all is well. -Sue

Dec 19, 2012 – 9:09pm

Hello, Sue. You probably noticed that I clicked on your profile earlier. It was to jog my memory because I was trying to explain how I came to have a profile on OKC to someone who had asked about it. That said I was left with a lingering thought that you do sound like a quite interesting person.

I'm OK and the Bronx is still standing and actually feels quite safe and peaceful compared to some places in Connecticut that I'm reading about. (This was in reference to the school shooting at Sandy Hook) I have been enjoying modest sales on CafePress (see CafePress dot com /fineartgifts) which is a seasonal blip for sure but it is telling me that I can make at least a half-decent living there with just a bit more time and effort. Would you believe I have sold some shower curtains (Klimt and Turner artwork but others are in the works), a duvet cover and a couple of yoga mats? CafePress has come a long way since it was just tee shirts and mugs.

Had my first real date in over a year last weekend. As a date it was not a huge success, not even close. I was 97% sure from what I had seen online that there would be no chemistry, at least not on my side, but she asked and she was a nice person so I accepted. We met at the Met and looked around the Matisse exhibition (I picked it with her in mind, Matisse is not a great favourite of mine) and I will say that the atmosphere felt good. I also had a quick look in the Met shop before she arrived and got a few ideas for designs for CafePress - I'd actually like to go back and spend more time in the shop. It is excellent value once I get over my English tendency to follow "the line" and make the full, recommended, $30 'donation'. I pleaded (genuine) poverty and donated $1.

Did I ever send you a link to my blog? I have taken up the cause of Scottish Independence and you will find some posts there. It is at I would especially like you to scroll down (a long way) to March 2007 and read the excerpts from real trial transcripts, they are funny, especially the ones by pathologists. I dare you not to laugh...

You did well, you got over 2000 characters out of me!

Take care,

Neil (a real person, honestly)

Dec 19, 2012 – 9:11pm

Sorry, I meant cafepress dot com/fineartdesigns (I have used "gifts" in so many other domains but this time I opted for the classier "designs"

Sue's response: Dec 19, 2012 – 9:35pm

wow...well I hope future encounters have a more favorable outcome. The Met shop is one of my favorite places in NY. My ex-husband and I used to go to the Met every other week or so when we lived in the Bronx ( before child) and about once every other month or so when we had moved upstate. NEVER pay the asked for admission! I used to pay a quarter when I was a student at Pratt. They have plenty of patrons and rich tourists from Ohio picking up the tab....

I only like Matisse's paper cuts (of course). If you go back what would you look at? The American wing has some great possibilities. I know one of the furniture curators (husband of a good friend). I'll look at your blog...why Scottish independence? My family came here in the 1600's from Scotland. Another branch came over in the 1850's also from I guess I have a little curiosity. Is it a real "thing"? I thought Edward the III (or was it the IV? one of those pesky Plantagenets) kind of put an end to all of that....anyway you're very interesting too. Keep in touch, pen pals are fun too you know...-Sue

Sue added: Dec 19, 2012 – 9:50pm

Ok I read it . That was one of the funniest things I've read in a long time. There are actual tears in my eyes right now! Thanks....-S

Dec 19, 2012 – 10:25pm

"If you go back what would you look at?"

What would you like to show me? I feel sure that you will have at least one day through the holidays when you could fit in some sightseeing....Me? I'm even free weekends until after New Year.

On weightier matters, yes "it" really is real and bodes to be a very interesting and multi-dimensional campaign. Summarising, Scotland became part of the UK, per se, in 1607 but has enjoyed varying degrees of separateness and to a significant degree it's own identity, over those 4 centuries. In recent years there has been a Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh which has had some power over some governmental functions but a long way short of true "independence".

The latest situation is that the UK government agreed that Scotland could have its own referendum in the Autumn of 2014 and that the result would be a Yes/No decision between remaining part of the UK with the existing state of devolution OR full independence with all that might entail.

What makes it very interesting and complex is the situation vis a vis the EEC. Right now most people will tell you that the population of Scotland breaks down 1/3 in favour of independence, 1/3 in favour of staying in the UK and 1/3 undecided. Because of the inherent risk-aversion of people in this kind of situation the chances of getting a majority in favour of independence hinges heavily on reducing the "unknowns", the biggest of which is membership of the EEC on similar terms to those enjoyed by the UK right now and those terms are kind of unique to the UK such as still having the pound and not the Euro.

It is really quite hard to simplify and distill the issues but suffice it to say that the situation is hugely complicated by the fact that Europe itself is in crisis mode with major economic problems in Greece, Ireland, Italy and Spain (others too) spilling over into Europe itself and threatening the future of the Euro.

In my opinion (right now, unlikely to prevail) the very best solution would be for (North Sea oil-endowed) Scotland to go for full independence, not only from the UK but also from the EEC. Along very similar lines, in fact, to Norway which is actually in enviably good shape.

Anyway, from my stance, what started as a calendar and tee-shirt marketing project (which from that standpoint has been a spectacular failure, so far) has evolved into an active campaign, if only one of assisting with the circulation of info and opinions. To see some of my designs (if you have Scottish blood pay close attention to the calendar) go to CafePress dot com/ralley and scroll down until you find a Scottish-looking section. It has also got me "twittering" which, if you didn't know, is the crack cocaine of electronic communication.

You almost got me to 3000 characters this time and if I'd allowed myself to bore you more with the Scottish situation I'd have gone over 5000 I'm sure.


Dec 19, 2012 – 10:48pm

Ah shucks, I was hoping to get you past 5000! I'm known for my lengthy e-mails so watch out and I(shudder) don't watch the word count. I'm very spontaneous that way...

I'd love to come down and "see" the Met with you. My favorite parts were never the stuffy painting galleries though. I love the historic rooms and the Asian and Islamic art sections but my absolute favorite was always the Medieval section. I always tried to get in to see the tree with the Neapolitan figures ,which I love, this time of year so that's one place i would go...the imagination runs wild in that place..the Cloisters is also a special place for me...but a bit chilly this time of year! The Met has the most beautiful collection of ancient musical instruments which are quite exquisite. I could see you using pictures of those on various items...what say you? they'd perhaps be better sellers then Scottish Independence T's. Lots more music lovers out there.

Thanks for the explanation about Scotland. I didn't mean to sound flippant, we really don't hear much about it in the press here. The fiscal crisis i knew about but not that Scotland has a referendum coming up. Thanks for the info I'll try to keep abreast of it now.

If you're serious about meeting me there let me know. No pressure no expectation; just like to show you a place that's special.. it's only a train ride away...I'm off next week until the 8th of's been nice re-connecting with you...-Sue

Ps I don't cocaine for me mon...

Dec 19, 2012 – 11:36pm

I was serious. Do you want to do it before or after Christmas? Saturday would work for me, and it's open longer giving us more flexibility but I will leave the timing entirely up to you. The only fixed commitment I have is lunch this Friday when I am being treated by my boss from the Historical Society, other than that the entire rest of my life is at your disposal. Well, at least until January 5th when my weekend duties get resumed.

Your idea about musical instruments is a good one. Not sure about the rules re photographing exhibits, I do know that commercial use of any pics is strictly taboo but I suppose one old banjo looks much like any other old banjo...

Sorry, you are going to have to wait for the other 4,262 characters.

Dec 20, 2012 – 5:31am

Good morning, Did I mention I get up with "the chickens"? I think I could make my way down there Sat. It will probably be a madhouse but then again the whole holiday season is like that for the Met. After Christmas is just as we might as well just go. If possible earlier rather then later...I'll have to consult train schedules but how about 11:00ish? Trust me on this one, the afternoon will be chaos there. By the by do you still sport the beard? If you're taking a survey put me in the positive way do you look like "Santa"?? best regards, Sue

Dec 20, 2012 – 6:04am

Hey, Would you be OK switching to regular e-mail. This site is confining..then you wouldn't have to count characters... if so i'm at -Sue

Dec 20, 2012 – 6:05am

Good morning, Sue. 11-ish on Saturday is just fine, just let me know the where & when once you have consulted timetables etc. In case it slips my mind my mobile is 646-250-3954 which might be handy for fine-tuning on the day.

I was seriously contemplating a shave an a haircut but will hold back a while, at least on the shave part, in light of your comment. A bit disappointed about not looking like Santa in Rise of the Guardians - it's probably the only time in my life that someone has told me I looked like a Super Hero.

The weather forecast is good - over 43 degrees and partly sunny with only a 20% chance of rain. Even Cloisters might be quite pleasant.

Our messages are about to cross....

Good Morning Sue,

Just thought I'd wish you a Happy End-of-the-World Day. Found this quote on the UK Daily Telegraph Website: The exact timing of today's cataclysm is unclear but, according to some self-appointed experts, it could occur shortly after 11am UK time - the time of the winter solstice - leaving Britons chance for a final breakfast. (That makes it 6am EST) The article does go on to say that modern Mayans believe it is just a transition from one cycle to another and not a falling off a cliff as the scaremongers would have it. I really do hope the the world doesn't end today, I would hate for something cataclysmic to get in the way of our date tomorrow. That would be just typical - the first time I meet someone really nice on a dating site and the end of the world happens - what a bummer... Taking a glass-half-full approach, and assuming that today proves to be just like any other in the history of the planet, your plan for Saturday sounds great and I am looking forward to meeting you in person. CafePress? Nothing so complicated as dealing with suppliers. It is print-on-demand, pure and simple. If someone wants a shower curtain or a yoga mat that's what they order and that is what is made and shipped. No inventory, no risk. The profit margins are not what they used to be a few years ago but provided CafePress can bring in large numbers of customers, through advertising and search engine optimisation, the volume can compensate for the loss of margin. You can also buy any items from your own stores, without a mark-up, so you can buy to resell at fairs, gallery shows etc. There is another enterprise called Zazzle which operates along similar lines. What Zazzle has that might be of interest to you is printing onto custom-sized canvases which you could use as a base to build on or you could just print your finished works onto canvas. I'm thinking of the former of the two options because there you would be creating a 3D art form beginning with an image printed onto the canvas. Here are links to a shop I have on Zazzle:

Hi Neil, Yes the planets DIDN"T misalign apparently. I do have a slight head cold (hazard of being a teacher of small fry) but nothing significant..I sound a little like a combination of Kermit the frog and Talleulah Bankhead but otherwise I'm fine...I look forward to finding you in amongst the tourists at the Met! ( I taught a year long study about Central America focused on the Mayan culture for 6years so I KNEW the whole thing was hokum)

Neil, So I'm curious about the mysterious P. in front of your name. I've been ruminating about various names it could be...Paul, Peter, or Philip just seem too prosaic. You'd probably use those..why not? But what if it were Philpot, or Peregrine? How about Philbert or Poindexter,.. hmmmm, I'm also favoring Greek references like, Pythias for instance or Prospero (very Shakespearean and all that) ah a mystery to be solved in time I'm sure...see you tomorrow

Hadn't I told you already? I guess not...

I was born on April 21 1952 which just happens to be the Queen's birthday and so apparently I was destined to be christened either Elizabeth or Philip and fortunately my parents spared me the embarrassment of opting for the former. Not sure why it was that Neil became the name I used, I'm fairly sure it wasn't any of my doing. What was a conscious decision was actually using both initials. When I was young I would simply use 'Neil Ralley' at school and on homework etc but when I got to about 16 and opened a bank account I used my full initials as a (very early) identity-theft/cheque signature protection device. So, sorry to spoil your reverie and fantasies about what kind of name I might be ashamed of. It is probably just as well that when I was at school I was not doing the pretentious thing of using the first initial and middle-name combo - I would probably have got myself knicknamed the PNeil implant! There is a kind of family tradition with names. My father was named Alexander Reid Ralley - the Alexander from his father and Reid being the maiden name of his grandmother who didn't like using "Ralley" after being deserted by my Great Grandfather. Reid was the name my father went by rather than 'Sandy" which is the abreviation for Alexander in Scotland. My eldest brother is Andrew Reid and goes by Andrew and my other (also older) brother is Alexander Edwin (I have no idea where the Edwin comes from, probably should but don't) and he is known as Sandy. Prosaically, P. Neil R

Ahh another dream shattered! Actually I figured it was Philip because of the time period you were born in. I don't think i was named for any Susan in particular in 1950's American culture. My mother was not a fan of Susan Hayworth as far as I know...certain names are big in my family too. Robert Alexander is the most prevalent with 3generations and 3 variations at the moment and my middle name, I always hated as a kid because it made no sense to me, was a "family" name: Hazlett.. I kept the Parise because i was buying a house at the same time i was getting divorced and couldn't handle any more legal I wish I had changed back (choices choices) ( Darn I was hoping for Percival at the very least...). sue

I'd like to share this with you and test your reaction.

A few weeks ago, via a tweet I received from one of my Scottish connections, I learned that a much-liked and admired singer/song-writer called Mike Marra had died. I had not heard of him but, not least because he was the same age as me, I decided to dig around and the tweet I had received contained a link to this song he did at a recent Burns night concert in Glasgow. I played it and I really find it quite haunting. I also have a strong sense that Marra was a very NICE and very humanistic person. The song was originally written by Burns and I have read at least one person say that THIS is how it should be sung but there are countless other arrangements and versions by singers of all nationalities, even REM did a version of it. Here it is: By way of a balance here is one of my all-time favourites, it is the main theme from a film called Local Hero. The soundtrack was (very cleverly) written by Mark Knopfler, a brilliant composer and guitarist: I will also throw in a very cheerful rendering of some Irish music by a couple of hugely talented instrumentalists:

Thanks Neil those were really lovely. Local Hero is one of my favorite movies. I love the shots of the Northern Lights and he's trying to describe them to his boss in America..priceless...I also fell in love with the Scottish Isles because of a movie from the forties called, I Know Where I'm you know it? I first saw it on TV when i was about 13 and it has stayed with me all this time. The music was so beautiful and the B&W photography was gorgeous. I come from a long line of Presbyterians (naturally) but both sets of grandparents, who lived in completely different parts of the country, were Scots Covenantors, a very strange off shoot of Presbyterianism. It's hard for Americans to have a sense of identity other then American, especially if your family has been here for multiple generations. I work with a woman who is from Scotland and she has a dance class after school that teaches kids Scottish dancing and it's very popular (you don't have to be Scots to join).They perform at a local Burns Night in Poughkeepsie every year...traditions live on...My father would always say, Scotch is something you drink..Scottish is what the people are...-S

It's not a film I'm familiar with but I was able to find a clip for you:

Have you heard Kiki Dee? Here are two of my favourite tracks by her. Song for Adam is quite sad but the low tones she hits at the ends of the verses are just wonderful, very earthy and very sexy. This next one is just a very beautiful song, you will probably want to play it more than once:

You've got me going now, Sue...

Here's an artist you probably will not have heard of. He is a Brit called Chris Rea and is very talented. I am sending you 2 tracks which could not be more different. The first has one of the best intros you are ever likely to hear. Back in my corporate days one of my 'perks' was a company car and I managed to wangle 2 back-to-back, super-fast Ford Sierra Cosworths. The second was 4WD and would do 0-60 in about 5 1/2 seconds and would easily do 150mph on a good stretch of road with no police around. Well, this was my go-faster track. There is a moment about 2 minutes into it when it just explodes and that is when I would accelerate and really DRIVE. By way of a total contrast the second track is also by Chris Rea and it is just breathtakingly beautiful and a total antithesis to the first track:

Ok I'm going to sleep now...the concert has been lovely...but I'm very tired. (i got up around 4:30) see you soon. I'll wear a bright turquoise scarf and be on the left side of the staircase...g'night - S

Hi Neil, I'm afraid we tempted fate when we mocked the end of the world. I've been up since 3 with a flooded basement.My house is built in a wetland area. After Hurricane Irene I had 4ft of water down there and needed to be pumped out by the local fire dept.. It's ground water, the water table rises etc...Anyway I woke up because i heard something and went to check and sure enough I had about 2 inches of water..AND my cockamamie sump pump wasn't working! I had to pull it out and thump it around a few times and now it works but I'm afraid to leave it in case it stops again. I've been up sweeping water into a trough that feeds water to the pump trying to get it out but it keeps refilling..(ground water..after Irene the pump ran continuously for 4 mos.) also the hose on the pump sprang some leaks so I've been battling those with my trusty duct tape. I really need to move to a nice apartment this is ridiculous...

It's so stupid! I'll call you in the morning but right now I may have to stay and "babysit" it or even get another pump to install as a sorry I was really psyched to meet you and see the Met..(sigh)..-sue ( I know now the true meaning of the phrase "rain check")

hi Neill, I'm sorry about that call. My whole head is completely stuffed up and coupled with lack of sleep and terrible phone reception I was less than conversant (also I have laryngitis)...I think Thursday seems like a good day. Weekends in that museum are chaotic so maybe we'll luck out(we're due for some) The pump won't be an issue by then. The water table should be fine and if not I'll just unplug the D@*& thing and deal with it when I get back. My brother was supposed to help me with it back in the fall but he got too busy so now I'll call him and "guilt" him a little about it (lol)..anyway, have a good day and I'm sure we'll talk some more before Thursday.. -Sue

Hi Sue,

No need for the apology. I should warn you that my mobile phone is not the best either, it is one of those that is only used for making phone calls (remember those? You probably had one when you were a kid) but the speaker is not the greatest and I'm now thinking that the mike might not be the greatest either. I will replace it eventually but for now it is not a #1 priority. If you ever want to call me at the cottage use the land-line there which has quite a good handset. The number is 718 329 3795; unfortunately the Historical Society has a very limited contract with Verizon and I can't use it to call mobile phones unless they are on the Verizon network or local or something. It is a shame, really, I was quite looking forward to hearing what a cross between Kermit the frog and Talleulah Bankhead sounded like, the more so because I can't recall having heard Kermit "speak" and have not the foggiest idea who Halleluiah Bunkbed is... For the record I think with just about any other date I can remember, at least these last couple of years, my reaction to the postponement would have included at least a tinge of relief but today's meeting was one I was unequivocably looking forward to. I thought a Noah quote would be appropo here and so I googled. Among the interesting, ludicrous and irrelevant answers these 2 stuck out. Not because they are relevant or appropo but just because they are interesting: “Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.” ― Dave Barry and “My Sunday school teachers had turned Bible narrative into children's fables. They talked about Noah and the ark because the story had animals in it. They failed to mention that this was when God massacred all of humanity.” ― Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality Neil

for this one be sure to have a box of paper hankies to hand when he talks about learning Welsh, trust me...


My mind is blown by this I'm expected to carry a gun! The first principle for educators is "keep the children safe" be it physical safety or emotional safety or what have you..This is ridiculous. Those women teachers who died trying to protect their classes did it because it's instinctual to protect our's part of our biology for crissakes. It's what keeps the human race going. It is not instinctual to use a gun to do that! I spend a lot of time and energy helping young children learn how to "get along" with each other, how to negotiate disagreements and how to settle disputes so that everyone benefits and feels Ok about it. I DO not want them to think I'm so fearful of the world outside that I need to tote a gun! What are these lunatics thinking???? The first week of every school year I brainstorm with my students what kinds of behavior are necessary for them to have the best year in school. We call them guidelines, not rules. Thank god most of them end up saying some variation of the golden rule! which as far as I remember is not" An eye for an eye". I'm completely, as you English say," Gobsmacked"( (i read a lot of Roald Dahl in my class). sheesh

Hi Neil, Wanted to wish you a happy Christmas Eve..any plans? I've been up looking at other people's art sites all morning and am beginning to feel overwhelmed. I received an "invitation to jury duty" for the week of Jan.2nd...ah the joys of participatory democracies. i postponed it from September..they wanted me the week school started but you're only allowed one postponement so I'm on the hook. Hopefully I won't be called (hope springs eternal). Enjoy your day. At least it's sunny! -Sue

Yes, Vernon is further north and it is not a million miles from Orange County. That said, what I actually typed was Verona!

Verona is in Essex County, in the triangle between the Caldwells and Montclair and Livingston Where in Orange County? My in-laws lived in Otisville and so I got to know the drive up route 23, past High Point, quite well and also Middletown and the surrounding area. Have fun playing Clue, or Cluedo as it is known in the UK where it was first published in 1949 by Waddington, the world-renowned board game-maker which made most of the games I can remember. I quite liked Monopoly but my favourite was Risk which appealed to my liking for strategy. When I think of toys and Christmas I tend to think of train sets (Hornby 00) and Scalextrix (electric racing cars on a rubber track) because Christmas was the only time I recall those games getting put up because they took up a lot of space and that cut across my Mother's need to tidiness. It's not that we lived in especially small houses but neither of the houses I grew up in had what you would call a family or games room. Neil

Oops, I need to have my eyesight tested! I lived for 20 years in New Windsor on the edge of Newburgh. It was suburban hell. We bought a house without really doing our homework and had no idea the Newburgh schools were worse then anything in the inner city of NY. What a surprise we had in store. My daughter was in early infancy so I had time to investigate other options. That's how I embarked on finding out about alternative private schools and ultimately teaching in them.

Oh how funny, i didn't realize Hasbro or whoever had "acquired" English games.We played a lot of Monopoly too. I remember summers spent playing card games like canasta as well.My backyard neighbors growing up always had Croquet set up and we'd spend hours after dinner in the summer "killing" each other off. We were merciless! Kids don't seem to play those games anymore, what a shame..

I know all about train sets too. My brother and father had an HO scale train set that also only came out at Christmas. It had all kinds of geographical features. My favorite was the mica lake. The little houses and roads were so cute. I loved watching the train whizzzz by. Now and then my brother would even let me do the switches! Ok nostalgia hour is over..back to the kitchen...-Sue

Hi Sue,

I just wanted to let you know that I actually had to resort to Google to look up a word you used earlier. This wasn't a case of 'knowing the gist' but maybe needing clarification, as sometimes happens when I am both reading and writing. This was a case of plain "durrr" - I had never seen of heard the word before and yet you used it so easily and naturally. Fortunately I was able to establish (I think) that it is a truly American word and for all I know isn't even IN the Oxford dictionary and is certainly not in common parlance in the UK. Here's what I found online:


[kuh-nip-shuh n] Show IPA


Often, conniptions. Informal. a fit of hysterical excitement or anger.

Also called conniption fit.

Origin: 1825–35, Americanism; origin uncertain

The nearest colloquialism from the UK would be "have a fit" or "throw a fit", the more modern, less 'correct' but perhaps more expressive would be "go apeshit" or, slightly less impolitely, "go nuts", "go absolutely nuts". "Go beserk" is one of the 'better-spoken' person's expressions.

I guess conniption is a word Poe would have used - he might even have invented it, there's a thought!

So are you a better-than-average Scrabbler? I used to think I was quite good, maybe am, but when I play against a Philippina friend, a Special Ed teacher who plays seriously, she beats me 9 times out of 10. Through her I was also introduced to a school nurse from a school here in the Bronx who is a REALLY serious player and talks of regular scores in the 300-400+ range. I've not played her but I am sure that her boasts are not empty.

Oh dear..scrabble? probably not. I played it once or twice when i was young. While I do have a fairly extensive vocabulary apparently I have always had a problem with developing logical or sequential patterns. (also I was known in my family as little" Miss Malaprop" because I used words in the wrong context frequently as a child), I am much more free form in everything I do. I've often thought it's because I'm left-handed and ambidextrous to some degree and my brain just won't "go there". Number doesn't play"nice" either. I can never hang onto numbers in my head I always have to write them down, the sequential order starts flying around and jumping out of order...on the other hand I am a pretty good "speller" again visual memory plays its part. I bequeath to you "conniption" ; use it as you might be a good word to use in a mystery/thriller! By the by, have a lovely Christmas...-S

Dalai Lama's Christmas Tweet: - Compassion brings peace of mind and with it better health; so cherish compassion.

Merry Christmas to a fellow Left-Hander

On Tue, Dec 25, 2012 at 6:27 AM, P. Neil Ralley <> wrote:

Good Morning Sue,

Someday you can explain all that stuff about sequential patterns and numbers, clearly not over a game of Scrabble, but meanwhile here's a recent article about left handedness: and an excerpt from yet another one:

Whether you're a righty or lefty may say more about you than what hand you use to write or play sports. CREDIT: Igor Kovalchuk | Shutterstock

Left and Right Handedness

In this weekly series, LiveScience examines the psychology and sociology of opposite human behavior and personality types.

To get a sense of human handedness, take a survey of those combination chair-desk furniture pieces in classrooms. The desktops tend to wrap around from the right. That's so right-handers can comfortably rest their arms while jotting down notes with their dominant hand. For that uncommon left-hander, if he or she is lucky, there might be an odd-looking desk or two with an oppositely molded desktop.

Such classroom chauvinism reflects the puzzlingly strong bias toward right-hand dominance in our species. All over the planet, nine out of 10 people, on average, favor their right hand for writing, throwing and so on. ("Footedness" roughly follows this same breakdown, though for sensory organs, such as eyes and ears, preference is less skewed; true ambidexterity occurs in less than 1 percent of the population.)

Despite more than a century and a half of research, scientists have yet to find an answer for what causes handedness. "It's a very good question but we don't know," said David P. Carey, a neuropsychologist at Bangor University in the U.K.

Clues relating to asymmetries in our bodies, and especially in the brain, however, could help explain the paucity of "south paws."

To the left, to the right

Are you a righty or a lefty? CREDIT: Karl Tate, LiveScience Infographic Artist

Left and Right handedness

The selection of one hand for fine motor control might reflect the fact that much of our anatomy and function is not balanced.

Our internal organs do not mirror the body's exterior, bilateral symmetry — that pattern of two opposing legs, hands, nipples, eyes, ears and so on. The heart and spleen, for example, normally form on the body's left side, the liver on the right; each lung bears a distinctly different shape.

And so it goes with our brain. That wrinkly pulp in our skulls divides down the middle into two hemispheres and, in a quirk of evolution, each hemisphere controls the opposite side of the body; that is, the brain's left hemisphere operates our right side, and vice versa. The same process occurs with vision — what our left eye "sees" is processed by the right rear of the brain. [10 Things You Didn't Know About the Brain]

Although the two halves of our brain have broadly similar anatomy, certain tasks tend to be handled by one side of the brain more than the other. Scientists chalk this up to efficiency's sake, as performing duplicate, simultaneous actions on each side wastes energy and available brain power.

"For a lot of actions, it's a good idea to have the boss living in one place," Carey said.

Hand to mouth

That phenomenon of brain laterality and division of labor could help explain handedness. Among the more demanding and recently evolved tasks for our brain is language processing and generation. Intriguingly, in 90 percent to 95 percent of right-handers, the left hemisphere is dominant for language and speech functions, suggesting evolution has honed one side to handle skillful work.

"If I have one part of my brain controlling my fine motor movements, it would make sense to have this part handle language, too," Carey told LiveScience.

Yet the relationship is not so simple. About two-thirds of lefties are also left-hemisphere dominant for speech and language, Carey said, and some 5 percent or more of righties have right-hemisphere dominance. [Constant Battle as Brain Pits Right Hand Against Left]

Delving into genetics has not yet explained away the extreme bias toward human right-handedness either, though hints of inheritance emerge. The chance of two left-handed parents having left-handed offspring, for instance, is around 25 percent, compared with 10 percent in the general population. A gene discovered in 2007, called LRRTM1, shows up more in lefties as well.

Paws to claws

Researchers have also looked to other animals to help them solve the human riddle of handedness. Many mammals, including our closest living relatives the chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas, exhibit a preferred hand. So, too, do dogs.

"Your dog is one-pawed," said Carey. "If you force a dog to reach for a toy through an aperture, it will tend over many trials to use one paw over the other."

But this breakdown for left versus right in Fido as well as Coco is about 50-50, eschewing humans' overwhelmingly right-sided population-handedness. That even-handed, if you will, split extends to non-mammals such as fiddler crabs, whose enlarged claw for fighting develops on either side in equal measure.

"Sinister" lefties?

Whatever handedness' origin in humankind, it's clearly been around a long time. For example, cave paintings have shown the occasional lefty ancestor clutching a spear.

The relative scarcity of left-handedness, as with many "otherisms" in human history, has provoked cultural superstition and discrimination. Even just several decades ago in the U.S., parents and teachers still snatched pencils out of children's left hands and tried making lefties write like a righty.

The ancient prejudice against lefties remains embedded in the English language. "Sinister" shares a Latin root with "sinistral," meaning "in regards to the left side," and "left" derives from the Anglo-Saxon word for "weak."

For biological reasons yet unknown, lefties might indeed be slightly cursed. That gene associated with left-handedness, LRRTM1, is also associated with the mental disease schizophrenia. Correlations have been found for left-handedness and illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease and alcoholism.

On the other hand, some evidence points to lefties possessing on average more intelligence or artistic giftedness than righties, perhaps given their alternative brains. Interestingly, four out of the last seven presidents have been left-handers, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford.

Living as a lefty

Overall, handedness ­— inasmuch as it offers insight into an individual's cerebral and bodily abilities, tendencies and deficits — is just one of many elements in a complicated picture.

"There is not a one-to-one correlation. …. It is not as if you are left-handed [so] you will become brilliant or get a disease," said Amar Klar, a geneticist at the National Cancer Institute's Center for Cancer Research in Frederick, Md.

Although the stigma against left-handedness has largely lifted around the world, Carey pointed out that righties still have it easier.

"Poor lefties have to live in a right-handed world," Carey told LiveScience. "The fly in your trousers is right-handed; even a can opener is right-handed."

Did you know Obama is left-handed?

Anyway, I wish you all the very best and hope that you have a great day,

Yours sinisterly,


Sue replied: Too funny! Thanks for the information. I was recently told that left handedness was a result of too much testosterone in utero! haven't found any evidence to back that one up...although it was a PhD scientist geek who told me that gem..all I can say is thank god we don't live in the 14th-16th centuries. I don't think I'd like being burned at the about you? the pattern stuff is my own attempt at trying to explain why I'm so illogical..just observations about how my own brain seems to function (or not). -S

The light is just coming up outside and when I looked there was snow on the ground! Not much, just a dusting but enough to make everything look clean and fresh..I love snow when it's just fallen and the world is bright and shiny! I capture, just briefly, that feeling from childhood that the" world is your oyster" and you have to go out and plunge into it...before it melts and is gone. I'm feeling somewhat nostalgic daughter is at her father's house so it's just me and the cat..and apparently you (online).-s

You obviously are at an advantage upstate in terms of the light dusting. Here in the Bronx the roads are wet but it is probably from a light rain-shower from long-gone clouds because the sky is clear and blue and it promises to be a bright, sunny morning.

Shouldn't it be "the cat and I"? I guess either construct is OK. Yours apparently and affectionately, Neil

Oh nit- pick nit- pick: she and I, her and I, the cat and I....(she's currently curled up in a ball sleeping the sleep of the innocent) grammar has never been my strong suit...enjoy the sun. Hopefully it lasts. Affectionately, me or I or ....???

To Susan: me or I or meow?

To Neil: I was having a "I have to listen to Christmas music" moment earlier and realized I have no access to music in this house! I don't get the channels on TV that play music (too cheap to pay more), and the only stereo I have is about 15 years old that I bought for my daughter years ago and is currently residing in the makeshift shed i call a "garage", Soo, off I go to the shed..15 minutes later having dug through seven years accumulation of (oh I might need that some day stuff) I located its battered, dirt encrusted carcass. Lovingly dragged it inside, cleaned it off, dug out my collection of Celtic Christmas and Baroque music CD's didn't work....probably the reason it was put out to pasture in the shed in the first i had to resort to youtube and the very faint speakers that are part of this laptop..I MUST get an Mp player and some kind of speaker for the new year! You must think me barbaric! I actually love music can't fathom why I don't have anything to play it on in here....very odd realization...

to susan

The good news is that your thirst for music is probably symptomatic of a healthy frame of mind, at least that has been my experience. Maybe, also, the fact that you do not have at hand the means of playing music is telling you something...

I wish I could share my sound with you.

It's not state of the art but my 2 small Sony stereo speakers which are hooked up to my computer pack quite a punch. The speakers in my TV monitor are not bad either but I've not figured out how to get them working with the computer. (Trying to be creative) Do you have a set of headphones or a phone headset that will plug into the computer? For the New Year all you really need is a pair of speakers that can be plugged into your laptop which will act as your MP3 player, assuming it has a CD/DVD drive (does it have a DVD drive? I'm interested because I have been building up a folder of MP4 videos from YouTube which I was going to copy onto a DVD for you but that is only going to work if you have a DVD player, either in your laptop or through your TV. Come to think of it, if you have a DVD player there is at least a possibility that it will play CDs, if you have try one, it will either work or not, I don't think you can damage it.

yes, my daughter told me to get speakers for the laptop too. I wish I had done it already...I was working on a painting and wanted to hear music playing..The laptop does have a CD player. I think it should act as a DVD player too..I'll try one of Laura's netflix DVD's and see if it works or not. In the meantime there is always the Yule Log on channel 11...although their playlist is astonishingly awful..but beggars can't be choosers. I'm off to Connecticut around noon. We spend Christmas with my sister-in-law's family. I've known them all since we were little kids. They live within a heartbeat of Newtown (will be a little strange to be over there). Be of good cheer and i hope you have a good time today. It's been fun sharing Christmas morning with you! - Just to be sure..are we still going to the Met Thursday? I don't think you ever said yea or nay?? let me know if it still works for you. -S

I make it 48 hours 10 minutes and 47 seconds from now, give or take a few seconds.

The answer is "yes". N

OH! I'm not quite the time keeper you are but great! Thanks for the choral music that hits the "spot". i have been yearning for music. It was a big part of my life growing up. My father's mother was a concert pianist in her day 1920'2-30's and my dad always had symphonies playing..It adds so much color to the world i does feel like the springtime of my life is arriving after some pretty rough weather...-S

The perfect sketch for the technically challenged

Dec 25, 2012, 11:04 AM

to susan You will like this:

Neil PS The precision was for emphasis, as a general rule I'm not big into timekeeping

Later, on the evening of Christmas Day Sue sent this one, entitled "STUFFED" oh my, the problem with holidays is everyone stuffs you to the gills! Just returned from my whirlwind trip to Ridgefield CT. It's nice to be with a crowd of people you know really well and then it's just as nice to get the hell out of there and back home! Did you go anywhere? I hope you had an enjoyable day. The snow disappeared as quickly as it came..c'est la vie..-S

Hi Sue and Happy Boxing Day (almost, as I type, maybe actually, as you read),

I am glad that you had a fun day with your family. My day was very quiet but OK. I don't mind quiet Christmases where I am exercising choices, there have been one or two which turned out that way other than through my choosing and that was not so good. I will not bore you with the blow by blow account but there are one or two minor achievements buried there including a nice email exchange with my son which I will follow up with a Skype call when he is back in Cambridge and the uploading of several hours worth of music videos onto the Kindle device I won at a raffle a Foxwoods around this time last year. I had tried a few times to get music or videos onto it but Amazon didn't make it easy to get non-Amazon "stuff" onto it and somehow I couldn't get things into the right format. Today, however, it all magically came together and so I now have lots of things to listen to on my next long spell away from the cottage. In the course of doing that I found a new song that I like which I had not heard before. The version I first heard was by Linda Ronstadt, whose singing I like a lot - I even saw her live at a charity concert in Newark some years ago, she is very talented. The song is called "Feels Like Home" and I have (now) heard versions by several other artistes, including Bonnie Raitt, but the song seems to be a perfect match for Linda's voice and so hers is the one I will append. It is apparently from a musical called "Faust' which I had not even heard of (shows my ignorance of the live show music field - there was a time in the 80s when I saw a few in London - the usuals, Cats, Evita, Phantom, Les Miserables - but then I started to travel and somehow lost touch with the stage world. Faust interests me, though, I will need to check out the soundtrack. Anyway here's the link:

PS Glad the English (and Welsh) hymns worked for you.

Sue replied: That was truly beautiful. i believe it was part of the soundtrack for a pretty sad movie about a young girl who had cancer..(My Sister's Keeper) but it's still beautiful just on its own..i loved Linda Ronstadt long ago. i don't hear much about her these days. She has one of those "pure" voices that can just pierce you...I liked her partnering with Emmy Lou Harris another beautiful voice.So, Happy Boxing Day to you as well. I always thought the English held boxing matches the day after Christmas, when I was blissfully ignorant..It created quite a visual image I can assure you! " Hello Auntie Joan", (KABLOW!) Happy Boxing Day! Oh you English, you're so eccentric! -s

I'm noticing you like beautiful voices so here are two of my favorites..(I hope I'm getting the hang of this cut and paste thing) If not, it's Emmylou Harris and Sarah MacGlaughlan(sp?) singing "Angel" - S

Very nice. Sarah's version is among the 100+ tracks I transferred onto my Kindle yesterday and have (so far unsuccessfully) been trying to connect together on a DVD. The other Sarah track I have on there is this one:

Some other EmmyLou duets:

and a Judy Collins track:

Happy St Stephen's Day, Susan

It sounds so much more elegant than "stuffed", don't you think?

Here's another Boxing Day tradition for you: (courtesy of Wikipedia) "Boxing Day is a popular day in the UK and U.S. for mounted fox hunters. Despite fox hunting being banned in the UK by the Hunting Act since 2004, Boxing Day remains the biggest meet of the year for most hunts, who use Drag hunting instead of live quarry." Does this mean that the poor foxes have to dress up as vixens and get chased by foxy hounds? That could be an even funnier sight than your duelling aunties. The song was written by Randy Newman for what I think was just an album called Faust, I don't see any reference to it having been taken to the stage. James Taylor played God and it starred both Linda Ronstadt and Bonnie Raitt. I'm not sure but I think that Bonnie may have sung Seems Like Home on the original. It was released by Linda in March 1995 on an album of the same name. I haven't seen a reference to it being used in a film soundtrack but it certainly would fit. Just as an FYI it seems that our Myers Briggs profiles are a perfect match. It is a couple of decades since I did the test, way back in my corporate days, but my profile is/was INTJ:

From Neil: It has not come up in our exchanges but, for the record, I greatly admire good teachers and see the job, when done well, having the potential to bring about positive change and impact humanity well beyond the immediate context. The ripples can spread long and far, over generations. Not to be underestimated.

From Sue: I believe in the saying about "standing on the shoulders of others" to learn how to be a better teacher. My mother was a HS English teacher and I had an Aunt who taught what used to be called Civics , now social studies. They were truly inspiring teachers( and people) and helped me see what teaching is really about..nurturing the love of learning in young folk. They can learn many things on their own but, "how" to learn and to appreciate and want to develop your own learning for your own sake is the most fundamental.. that's why the bureaucracy and politicians will never "get it". A statistical score represents nothing but a snapshot of that person at a given time, it does not show what they are truly capable of doing.. .(sorrry, tendency to get up on soapbox)....-S Enjoying the music by the way...thanks


Petula Clark started her career in radio in WW2. This video is from a show she did in 2010 at the age of 78. She turned 80 last month and I think did a couple of 80th birthday concerts. Absolutely amazing.

These 2 are from a concert in London a year earlier: Cliff Richard was the first of the UK superstars to clock up 50 years of performing, at least a year ahead of the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who etc. He was born in 1940 and started perfoming in 1958. This video is from a couple of years ago when he was in his late 60's. He is gay but managed to stay in the closet until a few years ago and even now declines to talk about his sexuality when interviewed.

On December 26th I forwarded to Sue this weather advisory which I had received from the Parks Department:

Good Afternoon:

How else would we close 2012 than with some more inclement weather – it has been quite a year – violent thunderstorms, tornadoes, and Hurricane Sandy.

The Forecast is calling for some severe weather for later today and tomorrow – please use extreme caution at the sites as there remain a number of damaged trees that could be further compromised from this approaching storm.

The forecast is calling for:

Forecasters are tracking a powerful winter storm heading toward the tri-state area that could make post-holiday travel treacherous and complicate the commute Wednesday and Thursday for people back to work after Christmas.

The storm is expected to move in after lunchtime, and get messy quickly.

Meteorologists say the system will bring a heavy sleet and snow mix or heavy rain, depending on the track. Intense winds, downed wires and localized flooding are possible with this storm.

Rain is expected to develop Wednesday afternoon, with a wintry mix forming over parts north and west of the city. Heavy precipitation is expected Wednesday night into Thursday morning. The city is expected to see mostly a mix of freezing rain and sleet, while areas further north and west could see up to 8 inches of snow.

Forecasters predict moderate snow mixing with heavy sleet and rain, moderate coastal flooding and damaging winds of up to 60 mph for the city, Long Island and the coast. Nearby suburbs in Westchester and Fairfield counties could experience heavy rain along with sleet and snow with damaging winds. The possibility for ice accumulation is also possible, especially in Sullivan, Duchess and Ulster counties.

A high wind warning is in effect for most of the area Wednesday evening to Thursday morning. The National Weather Service also issued a flood watch for northeast New Jersey from Wednesday evening to Thursday morning as meteorologists predict up to 2 inches of rainfall could sock the area.

Seas on coastal Long Island could peak at 15 feet during high tide, so Sandy-weary residents are advised to take additional precautions to prevent flooding in their already storm-ravaged homes. Another round of high tide flooding is expected to affect parts of Queens and the Jersey shore in the morning, with swells of 6.5 to 8 feet possible in areas like Sandy Hook and Freeport.

On Wed, Dec 26, 2012 at 1:42 PM, P. Neil Ralley <> wrote:

My first instinct was to ignore this and pray but that probably is not a smart thing to do.

As far as I can tell Manhattan will be fine by late morning. The wind will begin to drop around 6am and there is not even rain forecast. That said I have no clue what shape New Palz and Poughkeepsie will be in, both being significantly "to the north and west of the City".

Over to you, Sue.


On Wed, Dec 26, 2012 at 2:48 PM, susan parise <> wrote:

yeah.. I'm a bit nervous about it...we're supposed to get ice, sleet , rain and snow!!!as if one of those wasn't enough..I'll play it by ear. Unfortunately the train is in P'OK and I'm a good 30 min and a bridge away from it... This is beginning to take on epic-ly absurd proportions now. What did we ever do to the gods to provoke them in this fashion..really! I'll get back to you, .just in case, how does Friday work? I don't even care anymore about the stupid museum crowds. -S

On Wed, Dec 26, 2012 at 3:37 PM, P. Neil Ralley <> wrote:

I'm much happier being proactive than reactive in these situations but alas I do not have the luxury of a choice here.

Friday is OK, as is Saturday, as is Sunday but sooner would be nicer.... Looking on the bright side I have not the slightest doubt you are worth every second of the wait. N

On Wed, Dec 26, 2012 at 3:43 PM, susan parise <> wrote:

I have to agree...waiting it out is the sensible thing to do...(i hate being an adult)..I'm quite sure you're worth the wait too...and it would be nice to arrive in one piece ! -s

On Wed, Dec 26, 2012 at 3:48 PM, P. Neil Ralley <> wrote:

Is that a definite 'no' to tomorrow or a 'probably no, assuming that the snow and ice arrives per the forecast'? Either is OK, just clarifying..


On Wed, Dec 26, 2012 at 4:05 PM, susan parise <> wrote:

Oh sorry, lack of clarity is my issue at times. I think I'll" go for it" if the ice /sleet and heavy snow is out of the picture. The local news says mostly rain/snow showers and that's easy to deal with...I'll let you know before I decide to go. Most of the mess is due to occur tonight. -S

On Wed, Dec 26, 2012 at 4:14 PM, P. Neil Ralley <> wrote:

That's great, (genuinely) hope always trumps no hope.

I can't think of a suitable introduction to this, just enjoy...

susan parise <>Wed, Dec 26, 2012 at 4:23 PM

To: "P. Neil Ralley" <>

I WISH I lived in Hawaii right now! that was too funny...-S

From Sue: So this will be my prediction for tomorrow:

Hope I'm right! -sue

I hope you are right too!


Well, I'm up , my driveway got plowed about an hour ago. There is a lot of snow on the ground and on my car...I will assess shortly the likelihood of being able to get on the road. I'm thinking I can but maybe not as early as we originally planned. I may need another hour or so for things to get plowed and salted etc. I'm optimistic! (always).. -S

Good Morning, Sue,

Just take whatever time you need and keep me posted. I feel singularly bereft of any musical or humourous distraction, it's as though I'm letting the side down. Neil

well, I couldn't think of any suitable "the plow is here and I'm feelin' good" songs either.... I looked at the train schedule and I'll aim for a 9:30 which gets me in at 11. Not too far off in time....-S

Sounds great, more than. If anything changes just call my mobile, as long as I'm not in the subway I will pick up.


OK I have that # with me. Just dug out the car and pathways..whew! Glad I started going to the gym again! It's about 6-8 inches but now it's turning to drizzle and not cold at all. Maybe it'll all be gone by the time I get back!-S

one more I'll stand near the ticket booth closest to the grand staircase, i can't remember if there is one? I'll be on the left (in honor of our mutual lefthandedness)? I wear a bright purple ski jacket type coat so you can't miss me! (It looks good with silver hair lol) Anyway I'll be the one scanning the hordes unless you get there before me...-s

So, that was who I would be looking for in the Met - Purple coat and silver hair!

I'm not sure if there are any references to our date in later emails but in case not I will provide a brief description albeit based on my less-than-perfect recollections. In the Met we looked at the Christmas tree with all of its decorations, from there I think we headed to the American Wing, chatting along the way, as much as it is possible to chat while looking around a museum, and after seeing the stained glass panels by Tiffany and LaFarge we wandered into the musical instruments gallery. After a couple of hours we were both tired - the Met will do that to you, there is so much to see - and I suggested that we might head out and get some lunch. The nearest subways to the Met are on Lexington Avenue and I think I had done some research and found an Indian restaurant somewhere downtown. I have tried many times recently to recall exactly which one and where exactly but I would need to go down there and look and these days I do not go into the City very often. Guessing I would say that it could have been around 10th street but it could have been 18th where I think there is a cluster of Indian restaurants. Anyway it turned out to be OK. Because it was after 2 o'clock we had the place to ourselves and it was buffet-style so there were a number of dishes to partake of and we talked...and talked...and talked. I don't have a clear recollection of the conversation but we definitely exchanged some details about our lives and previous relationships. I learned that Sue had put up with what sounded like a bad marriage for 30 years or more. She said that it had not been all bad but I was sure she had not been treated as I thought she should have been. She had gone through a bankruptcy, largely caused by a lack of communication which eventually led to unpaid taxes and IRS liens. What seemingly brought matters to a head was when Frank, her ex-, brought home a lady he had met online and was having a relationship with. This seems to have been the final straw and Sue moved out and (finally) began to entertain divorce proceedings. She also told me about her parents - her father served in the Airforce in WW2 and later went into advertising and communications - her mother a teacher and avid reader, something she passed along to Sue who I later discovered to be the most prolific reader I have ever known. She had a brother, Rob, with whom she was very close, who was married with two adult children and living in northern New Jersey. She told me that the marriage break-up, and probably the marriage itself, put her off the idea of having another relationship for at least a couple of years and then she began online dating with what sounded like not huge success. Afterwards, much later, Sue told me that it was over lunch that she decided that she liked me, I think a lot, and made a decision to go forwards. At some point she told me that she needed to head back as she did not want to be picking her car up from Poughkeepsie Station late at night. I would guess it could have been 4 or thereabouts before we left the restaurant and caught the subway back uptown. I have to confess that, to my shame, I did the lazy "practical" thing and stayed on the #4 subway which was going to the Bronx and let her get off and go to catch her train at Grand Central. The gentlemanly thing, of course, would have been to accompany her to her train before going back to the Bronx.

So, from here we can resume emails for a while: I think that I was first, around 7.30 pm that same day, with an email entitled


Hi Sue,

I have no idea what the protocol is and who should say what and to whom and when, and frankly I really don't care. I just want to let you know that before we met my expectations in respect of you, based on our email exchanges, were beginning to seem more than a little unrealistic but having met you I can honestly say that they were actually exceeded. I could very happily have spent several more hours with you and still have been left wanting for more. Rightly or wrongly I left the timing up to you and I hope that was OK. The HR analyst in me could provide you with solid facts to back up my observations and I will happily go through them sometime. For now suffice it to say that you are a very interesting and attractive lady and I would very much like the opportunity to get to know you better. At very least I would like to hear your perceptions, what are your feelings? Thankyou for making all the effort to come down to the city and spend time with me, Sincerely, Neil

Her first one, sent around the same time, was entitled:"ho me again home again jiggity jig" Thanks Neil that was fun today. I am now officially exhausted, which is hard to do to me because I'm the "energizer bunny"! Thanks again . we'll talk soon I'm sure.-Sue

From Neil Something I know you will appreciate: Some years ago Graham Chapman, one of the founder members of the Monty Python team, died rather quickly and unexpectedly of a form of throat cancer, at only age 48 - maybe not surprising as he was both an alcoholic and and a pipe smoker.Anyway his fellow comedians deliberately avoided appearing at his actual funeral, out of respect for close friends and family. However, sometime soon afterwards they arranged a memorial service and if you have not seen it already I think you will enjoy this clip. It reminds me a bit of Peter Sellers specifying that the music at his funeral should include 'In the Mood' by Glen Miller, which he actually hated.Another funeral story was about Winston Churchill who, in common with any UK dignitary who would be entitled to a State Funeral, actually got to participate in the planning, long before it would actually become reality. Anyway Churchill apparently specified that the cortege would pass by Waterloo station because he reasoned that he would die before De Gaulle (with whom he felt either rivalry or hostility) and De Gaulle would almost certainly attend the event. Churchill just wanted to rub De Gaulle's (rather large) nose in it because Waterloo station was, of course, named after the Battle of Waterloo.Anyway here's Graham Chapman's memorial service: and (not quite related) here's Cleese on Palin: the DVD you will find a short edited highlights of Churchill's funeral set to very moving music. It is worth watching. If I had to award a Man of the Centennial Churchill would have my vote for the 20th century and you will see from the shots from his funeral just how well respected he was in the UK.

Hi Neil, I hope it didn't seem like i was "running away"!( I just wanted to get home before it got too late. It's a 2 hr trip)

I also enjoyed talking to you in that quiet little restaurant. The MET almost did me in with the crowds. I think we had a good time together and I felt completely comfortable with you. You have some very interesting ideas about things and I really was interested in what you had to say... sometimes when I meet people I have this feeling that I need to keep the whole conversation I'm" on ". Fortunately, I never felt like that today. I think the lead-up was also interesting and you are pretty much what I thought you'd be , which was a huge relief! - PS (I never set much store by protocol in these things ....)looking forward to further "getting to know you"....Sue

Hi Sue,

No, I didn't sense you were running away. If anything I did some running of my own by allowing 'practical' and 'sensible' considerations over-rule my natural instincts and staying on that stupid subway train. The "right" thing to do, and what I would have done without batting an eyelid in my teens, 20's, 30's and probably 40's was to have accompanied you to your train or at least the platform and Grand Central and, who knows, maybe had a Brief Encounter-style parting! Instead I did the boring, staid, totally unimaginative thing and stayed on the subway train. I think that you said somewhere in your profile or the questionnaire that "clinging" is an undesirable attribute (and, based on the one or two glimpses into your past that you shared, I can understand a little of why that might be) but it's no excuse. I have a romantic side and it behoves me to show it from time to time. You must tell me which of my ideas you found interesting so that I can expand on them. I have a lot of thoughts and observations about you that I am close to sharing but I'm not quite there yet. Overall I have a very strong sense that you are like a very precious jewel that has been neither well cared for nor properly appreciated and yet despite all of that you still sparkle and shine and that shows amazing strength of character. You are truly a very special person, Susan. Let me know when you have an idea for "further getting to know you" and have a very nice evening. I am sorry that I was unable to figure out how to get the 154 or so MP4 videos to play sequentially but I guess you will probably be quite happy that IT is not my forte. Bon nuit mon cher, Neil

Oh don't beat yourself up i didn't expect you to get off the train, (although secretly, i kind of wished you had too) we get older some of our "patterns" stay firmly ingrained. Sensible certainly does win the day more often then not..I hope I didn't talk too much about "the past" I try to avoid that, one; because most people don't want to hear about it that much and two it still has the power to upset me, somewhat. I actually like it when people tell me their history because I love hearing people's stories. You obviously, have a good ear for them too. Accordingly I guess I need to say that I've become more guarded and promised myself i will take things slowly when i meet people now, especially after the last debacle. You don't have to hit yourself over the head more then twice to realize something's not working!. I don't seem to make good choices when it comes to who i choose to be with. O f course there haven't been very many of them so i guess it's not too bad. Interestingly, after the whole cancer thing I feel less of an urgency to find someone right away.....which you would think might be the opposite.I finally realize that I need to think about what I need and not try to be whatever the other person wants me to be (boy does that NOT work) The thing you said about the jewel was very touching by the way..never had anyone say THAT to me before...

Well, how do you feel? Being married three times had to be intense. We are certainly an interesting mixture of experiences aren't we? - S

Now I am beating myself up! Not only did I do the boring, staid and even out of character 'thing' but, horror of horrors, it also got noticed and was a source of disappointment (shrivels up into a tiny ball with hands clasped tightly around head - oh the joys of being an English introvert...)

You may not know it but you would not have escaped without giving up a little about your past. As it happens it came out naturally and without much coaxing but if I didn't have a little insight (for me) it could be the 800lb gorilla in the room. You are right to question. I guess you have heard Einstein's definition of insanity which is doing the same (negative) thing over and over again but expecting a different outcome.

The jewel thing is only a very small part of the total picture. What I can tell you with absolute certainty is that if whoever has a relationship with you treats you with the love, respect and admiration that you so richly deserve the rewards, in terms of the relationship for both parties will be just incredible. You have SO much love in you and the amount of energy and effort you have expended in negative relationships can only be the tip of an iceberg, just think what can be unleashed in a positive situation, again on both sides. Whether that ends up being me or someone else does not alter the potential. And the really fun and amazing thing is that you have only got a vague sense of what that potential is.

I'm not sure if I'm ready to give you a full written account of my 3 marriages, all in good time maybe, but what I will tell you about the 3rd, which is really the most important insofar as it relates to my emotional maturity, is that for me it was very much a marriage of love and respect and I honestly and seriously intended it to be my last marriage (it nearly was in 2001, lol) I was 100% faithful, 100% loyal and showed Eileen the utmost respect. My biggest problem was underachieving (we touched on some of that today) and in how I dealt with or didn't deal with that and how Eileen reacted to the situation. There was certainly a lack of clear communication, the situation was probably not helped by my alcoholism though I was a very functional alcoholic drinking, for the most part, by way of self-medication almost like taking sleeping pills - I didn't drink and drive, didn't drink and work, didn't drink to excess while out or in socializing. Nevertheless it probably had a debilitating effect on me and my relationship(s). I will underscore that I gave up over 5 years ago of my own volition without rehab though I was helped by a therapist. At first (on the insistence of my therapist, also called Sue) I did attend some AA meetings and I still feel that is a support structure I can avail myself of, OR give back to at some point. However I found that I was able to maintain my abstinance and truthfully feel better for it (and feel able to function far better and be a much more loving partner in a relationship) because of it. However, that was all too late to save the marriage and the divorce, which Eileen insisted on dragging through the courts at great legal expense, proved lengthy and was acrimonious.

(Not really joking) If I have another committed relationship, rather like you with your car, I am reasonably certain that it will be my last one and I intend it to be my best.

I'm not looking for any immediate commitment - not offering and not expecting - but I know what is possible and I would like to create the environment to see if we (the dreaded "w" word) can grow this orchid and win a prize with it at some hypothetical horticultural show..

I know I have touched a nerve but I'm not looking for instant results and so no need to panic or feel pressurised, other than in a very nice way.


oh dear, come on get out of the rolled up ball it's not a big deal! thanks for the kind words. i've always reacted to things very spontaneously and without much regard for my own self-interest so I'm re-learning how to be a little bit more self protective. that's basically it....I also self-medicated with alcohol during a very bad section of my life. My mother died and we went bankrupt all within 3 months and as you can guess there was no emotional support for any of it from my husband (big surprise) in fact i had to handle the bankruptcy completely on my own while my mother was dying,, but i was using alcohol to deaden myself (I referred to it as taking a vacation from my life) It was awful. It also didn't involve my functioning in my public life and naturally, I did it somewhat secretly for a number of years, but i feel guilty about my daughter (she was about 10). After my mother died i got myself into therapy. It's a funny thing but I haven't got the slightest interest in drinking. I can have a glass of wine and never want another. It fulfilled a function at that time and place and after i dealt with things there was never a need for it again. In all the years since I've never felt even the slightest urge to drink. So now we have that one as a shared experience..i get it.. s

The following morning:

OK, Enough sturm und drang here! we need to lighten up! i just heard from a good friend of mine who lost her father a few weeks ago. She was one of my "supporters" during the cancer time so i want to be there for her too. We're going to see Les Miserables, not sure that's the cheeriest movie to see but she's a drama teacher so off we go! have you seen that? I've been inundating myself with the music you gave me so I'm going to be in good form to see a "musical". I hope you're enjoying what might actually turn out to be a sunny day! Do you get out for walks anywhere? The Bronx is not noted for its recreational areas except maybe Van Cortlandt Park , I used to watch the West Indian teams playing Cricket (not sure i spelled that it really spelled like the bug?) Anyway, it was amazing to watch them. By the way, I know as little about that game as I do about Baseball. They both employ a bat right? (sacrilege in some circles) No one in my family were ever sports people we were always book tell me something about your childhood? You had more siblings so that had to be interesting. My best friend growing up was one of 6. It was the noisiest and most rambunctious group I'd ever encountered! Did you grow up in a town, city, outlying suburbia or in the wild? and where exactly? too many questions? Ok, whenever the spirit moves you and whichever you want to answer. I wouldn't want to create a distraction from you writing the next chapter in your BOOK! (just a little nudge) have a good day, sue

What is Sturm and Drang? That one is totally new to me.

Interesting coincidence about Les Mis. The lady who introduced me to Louise Hay was a beautiful Australian I met on an overnight flight from Singapore to Melbourne. She was (hopefully still is) an incredible person and we had a brief affair to the extent that is possible from a distance of over 10,000 miles. I think our association, though brief, had a profound effect on both of us. Anyway she was a true music person and was constantly singing or speaking the praises of Les Miserables which I think was her favourite musical. She nagged me constantly to see it and be uplifted by it. I did eventually see it in London and I found a good soundtrack on youTube that I have been playing in the background as I have been typing. It is entirely appropriate that you should be seeing Les Miserables today, I am sure that Pennie wants you to. Yes, the bug is really spelled like the game (lol) and if it is no-one (singular) it should be 'was' - this time there is no doubt! Cricket usually confuses most non-English people, and some Brits too. Unlike baseball it is actually played with 2 bats. Here is probably the clearest description of the rules of cricket (sometimes fondly referred to as the "In and Out Game"): The Rules of Cricket

You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that's in the side that's in goes out, and when he's out he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out. When they are all out, the side that's out comes in and the side thats been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out. When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out. When both sides have been in and all the men have out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game! There is quite an age-gap between myself and my 2 older brothers. Andrew, the oldest, is about 7 years older and Sandy is about 5 years older and so it was more a question of watching them 'do' stuff rather than playing 'with' them. The influence they probably had was to help make me somewhat 'older than my years', I probably did modify my behaviour to fit in and not be written off as 'just a kid'. Andrew was the more interesting of the two. He had airguns and would shoot wood pigeons and play around with home-made explosives - nothing large-scale, you understand, but he did get up to some fun and games. You should hear him talk about it someday, especially some of the practical jokes. I wasn't really that close to him in childhood but have grown closer to him and his wife, Patricia is a really wonderful, warm and generous person. They have a daughter, Rebecca, who is married with 3 children and lives near Paris. I was born and raised in Carlisle, a small city near the Scottish border. My father was a GP (doctor) who had graduated from the University of Edinburgh and served as a medic in WW2 - he was in the 51st Highland Regiment under Montgomery and saw action at El Alamein, Sicily, D-Day, Battle of the Bulge and Germany. He was a quiet man and life took its toll. He became alcoholic and reached crisis point when he collided with a police car while drunk and on duty. Not immediately but eventually he agreed to go into rehab and then early retirement. He died of a major stroke when he was 66. I should add that he was also a heavy smoker. We lived in a very upmarket and desirable district of Carlisle, less than a mile from the