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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"

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:

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 city centre (walkable) and in a neighbourhood of larger, detatched, houses. The house I spent the first 11 years in had 5 bedrooms and there was a 3-roomed surgery attached. When I was about 11 my parents had a house built on an adjacent plot of land that they controlled (leased not owned). It was actually slightly smaller and had a smaller garden but no attached surgery (that other house was sold to another partner in what was then a 3-doctor partnership. My mother was very house-proud and so pets were a no-no because they were far too "messy". I think I'm still way ahead of you on words and so, for now, that's yer lot. Neil

sturm und drang is, I think, German for storms and bringing things to the surface, emotionally in this case, I could be spelling it wrong or am completely mixed up about memory is beyond abysmal these days..yes chemo brain is real! I googled and nothing came maybe i'm making it up out of the whole cloth as it were....You sure have traveled a lot! I ordered a louise Hay book today on Amazon about Empowering Women. It sounded like something i could use .Then there is Cricket, the game rules sound like, with a bit of tweaking, they could apply to baseball too. American football is beyond my comprehension altogether, all that pushing and shoving up and down a field and the ball shape is preposterous! Who come up with these things? Native American games were designed as training tools for hunting and warfare I suppose, what does baseball train people to do?? or Cricket??? odd. Thanks for taking the time for the bio. It helps to visualize where a person "comes from". So I guess I'll put the 64K question out do we arrange to see each other in the 3D again? got any thoughts about that? unless you would prefer to stay "on the radio" some more?-s

THIS IS YOU! Susan, one last thing before bedtime - or maybe after in your case - I really knew it as soon as I discovered this on Wednesday though I couldn't tell you without sounding more than a little bit crazy - we'd not met, after all. I've played it a lot these past 36 hours and, as your story unfolds, it becomes clearer and clearer that this is you. It could hardly be a more perfect fit:

From Sue: I just saw this now, I felt an instant "recognition" about it when you sent it before but didn't want to say anything in case I mis-read it...I often don't pick up signals correctly (what an understatement)...thanks

From Neil: ??? One of us sent a blank....

From Sue: sometimes i hit the wrong arrow...

From Neil: arrow? are there injuns around??

hi neil, I just found out I don't have jury duty at all next week..they cancelled court! so I'm off the hook for six more years. On another front I seem to have a mouse problem. God I hate it when they start showing up. I hate killing things but this one is really bold! He/she was on my kitchen counter staring at me eyeball to eyeball and just turned and sauntered it was no big deal. The cat is useless..she has no teeth and she's half i'm off to the Agway to buy some traps. This house is such a sieve I can't plug up all the holes and hidey places...Eck! Does the Poe Cottage suffer from this? I hope not! Well with that pleasant news I wish you a better day! -s

Good Morning Sue!

I am surprised that they let you off so easily with the jury service but I will not question your good fortune. I have to confess that I'm not the world's best pest controller. The live ones don't really scare me, startle perhaps but not scare. However, I'm a bit squeamish when it comes to dealing with dead animals - just about anything warm blooded. At school I somehow bypassed the dissection classes in biology but I think my sensitivity in that area pretty much ruled out medicine as a career possibility, I think to the disappointment of my father who saw me as a 'last chance' in terms of following his career direction. The cottage is surprisingly mouse-free - probably because there's not much food for them! There was one in the basement apartment a few months ago but I think it snuck in when I left the outside door open and there was a storm outside. There is a pest contol guy (Solomon) who comes around at the beginning of every month and puts down glue traps but in the year or so I have been here there have only been one or two 'catchings'. Rats are a different story (yeek, she says) they are more commonplace but (so far) outside not in. Solomon baits traps around the cottage and generally the bait in at least 2 of the traps is eaten and on two occasions that I know of poisoned rats have staggered along the path and expired somewhere near the front door. The poison makes them disorientated and dehydrated and they die looking for a drink. The 2 that I have seen expired have been quite big and quite clean and manicured looking. There is a ginger cat which hangs around the cottage (outside, not in) but it seems street-wise enough not to eat the poisoned rats. N

YEEKS! I'd have a hard time with rats...this mouse looks like a pet store mouse (biggish, brown fur with a white belly) and since my daughter used to have them as pets long ago I have a hard time getting rid of them (too softhearted by far) but the alternative is to move out and let them take over..but i don't think that's going to happen. Did i mention the rather large black rat snake that lives in my basement? The snake used to be my mouse eradicator but seems to slipping up on the job! Well now, I've certainly made my house sound enticing haven't I? mice scampering about under foot, snakes lurking in the basement...I've also had bats fly down the chimney and hornets nests in the window's such a lovely little cottage in the woods...hark I hear the intrepid deer hunters firing off rounds at the deer in the woods. Is it still hunting season??? well enjoy your cozy nook and I'll do battle with the fauna in mine.. The snow is coming down in earnest now probably another 6-8 inches. it's making up for last year.-S


From Neil: Do you need affirmation? You shouldn't..

What is do-able? The weather forecast tomorrow is not good but it seems like Sunday and Monday will be fine. Doing something together at New Year might be nice. New Year, or Hogmanay, is a very Scottish event but somehow I have not really got strong memories of happy Hogmanays-gone-by the way I have with some Christmasses. That said I have no idea what we would do, or where, other than probably not Time Square. What would appeal to you? What would you feel 'safe' with? Sorry to pass the buck but I feel a need for guidance...

From Sue: haven't done anything at new years for years..and I've never heard of Hogmanay. Meeting on a holiday might be too much hubub, and feels a little overwhelming to me.. . I'd rather meet again on a more neutral day so Sunday seems better. Would you feel Ok coming here? We could have a more quiet visit that way...???back to you...

From Sue: I have a further enticement to get you up here..have you ever been inside the Vassar chapel? They have LaFarge windows! It's Sunday so I imagine it would be open (although with my luck they're closed for the holidays) I tried the Vassar website but they don't say anything about when it's open..

From Neil: You really didn't need to 'up the ante' , you are more than enough of an enticement for me though having an activity to at least aim for is a great idea.

I had not even heard of Vassar - had to look it up - and you may be right about it being closed but we can always check it out. What train would you like me to catch? N

From Sue: There's a 10:52 express out of GC , gets you here by 12:34. I'll whisk you off to lunch and then we can try our luck at the chapel. I actually know the former chaplain (I taught his daughter) but can't find his phne # (drat disorganization) but i'll keep trying. -S this should be fun....

make that 10:50, they changed the time in the newer schedule online.

Ok, I see it 10:50/12:32. This seems like a good plan...

From Neil on Saturday 29th December 9.14am: I just got back from a little walkabout and it is snowing steadily.

Your rat snake took me aback a little. At first I thought you meant rattlesnake, which would probably have been a leg-puller. So I looked it up and, needless to say, it turns out to be a common breed of snake. "Lifespan unknown". One has to wonder what yours lives on if it has grown too lazy to chase mice. I have to say that one of the things I enjoyed about the US was, and really still is, the variety of wildlife one finds, even in relatively well populated suburbs like Verona. In the garden there we had squirrels, possums, raccoons, skunks and deer. One year, in a neighbouring town, police had to tranquilize an 800lb black bear that had decided to rest up in a tree. I used to put food out for the smaller animals and birds. This was usually frowned upon but my view was always much better to feed them in the yard and get rid of the scraps rather than have the raccoons and skunks raid the dustbins - especially the raccoons which were quite ballsy and would stare humans down with those big eyes they have. Funniest to watch were the crows which are actually very smart birds. Did you know that when they have a surplus they will bury food, just like dogs do? They also cooperate with one another. When feeding in the garden one would usually act as lookout, from a vantage point on the garage roof. What (for me) was interesting was that when this happened one of the birds feeding would take food to the lookout. Still looking forward to my visit, you are going to have to work a lot harder to put me off....

From Sue: envy you having sidewalks to walkabout on. Here it's worth your life to take a walk in the streets, the cars go too fast. That's why we all take to Rail Trails. Crows are very interesting birds indeed. They also have a sense of humor. They've been observed taking clothespins off of a clothes line and cackling when the human tries frantically to take up the laundry. They will also call out to warn each other if they spot a gun. Their language has been studied and they have a wide range of calls that mean different things..(I've studied crows and their behavior with kids...) A favorite book I use to read aloud to my kids is Jean Craighead George's, Charlie's Raven about a boy who adopts a baby raven. Her best known book for kids is My Side of the Mountain, about a boy who runs away from the city and lives in the wild somewhere in the Catskills. That book has certainly fueled a lot of young imaginations! It's hard to ignore nature around here but at least I haven't had a bear show up on my doorstep! We have heard coyotes howling on really quiet nights and that's a little spine chilling but beautiful too. The snow is piling up but at least I don't have to go anywhere so my "house pets" and I will just enjoy it all from in here..-S

There now follows a break in emails because they were supplanted by mobile phone exchanges and (many) conversations in person....This section, covering Sunday 30th December and Monday 31st is "under construction" so let's move on to New Year's Day, 2013:

Hope you got home Ok and It's still standing. ....i miss you...-S

I'm home, missed an opportunity for a short-cut which I will tell you about later so that you can not miss it. House still standing and everything as I left it. Only tiny little cloud on my horizon is that I appear to have left my mobile somewhere along the way. Could be near your settee or dining table, in the car or otherwise had to be the restaurant (unlikely) or on the train (also unlikely I think). It is no big deal, as mentioned the phone is not the greatest, I pre-pay month to month so it can only be used to the extent of what credit it there, it's really just the short-term and the convenience factor. If you could look for it (or call it and listen!) I would at least know what I nned to do about it. If you are going to be visiting the Bronx in the near-term (yes that was an invitation) you can bring it otherwise maybe a piece of bubble-wrap and a first class stamp?

I should have started this with a thankyou but instead I will end on one...N

neil, i found the phone in the fast do you need it. I can send if next day mail ..or bring it on the weekend (is that near-enough-term?) that is if you want me to come that soon?? -S

Hi Sue,

There's really no difference between Thursday (earliest by mail) and the weekend. I really don't get much traffic on it and the important people can reach me on the land line in the cottage so the weekend is fine, if you are up for an *"adventure"*. Just as an FYI the short-cut I missed was the chance to get off at 125th st which would probably have saved half an hour or more. The subway station is right underneath the rail station and the 4 line stops there. My instincts are telling me that your coming down in daylight on Saturday might be best - a more gradual introduction to the conditions here - but we can noodle that one. My Saturday schedule is that I am open for tours from 10-4 but if you are around during that time I have lots of books for you to look at, some of which will definitely interest you and the computer has a real mouse, keyboard and a good-size screen if there is any work you want to bring with you. I don't think I have Word but I do have a full suite of Open Office which is about the same. Music is on-hand but you will have to use the headphones while any visitors are being shown around. Sunday is 1-5 which is quite civilised. The cottage is very warm and cozy, even to the point where I sometimes have to put on the AC to get the temp down! It's because the main boiler for the whole building is in the kitchen and it really is not set up to be economic. N

Don't worry I can deal with just about anything...I'd bring my laptop to write reports. Actually it would force me to do them! so, if I get off at 125th st i'd leave the station to get the #4 train? then Kingsbridge rd...i don't actually remember how to get to Poe Cottage; which streets etc..well you'll let me know i'm sure..sat am would be fine. -S

We can work out the details but it is very easy.

Came across this website via a tweet linking to the list of musicians who died in 2012 but the Jan1st blog entry may amuse you: N

And here's a follow-up to one of those ideas: i had a student one time tell me that her mother told her drinking from a can with a flip top would kill you if you didn't clean it. Her mother actually confirmed this story and was serious! makes you worry about the human race! -s

It was the black snake behind the toilet that had my imagination going....N

WATCH OUT! i did once find a skin shed near a heater vent (small one) and have seen a few in the basement...but not lately...

Don't be too quick to blame the snake, any skin sheds you find around the bed and couch over the next few days will probably be mine....

I can't believe i never heard of this place! I have heard of the Pitcairns and bryn athyn but didn't know what it was..interesting. ( I'll be on the lookout for your "shed" it's probably a different shape from the snake one).... -s

Glen Cairn is a great place for an (OK, ambitious) field trip.

thanks. I especially enjoyed the" weird" one (you knew i would) it was very comforting.(lol)....The Nine things was absolutely right on. I like this person's thinking and to see it in Forbes Mag of all places! -S

Good Morning, Sue, For some reason I have never fully understood the Bronx Historical Society (or to be more specific the one or two people who run it) is paranoid about the presence of a live-in person in the cottage becoming widely known. For this reason I am under strict instructions not to speak to journalists and am even supposed to skirt around the question if asked by visitors. Up to a point I can understand that I (or anyone performing my function) could become a target for sensationalist articles. For the most part I do tow the party line - I do not knowingly talk to journalists, though no-one can stop them taking a tour - and when asked where I live by occasional curious visitors I usually just say 'nearby' or 'not far from here'.

Every now and then some enterprising journalist will do an article about the 19 of us (according to the article) who occupy these properties around the City. This is the latest such article, which appeared in the NY Times last April. As you will see I do get a one-line mention, though not by name:

I must say that when I read the article I did feel a little bit 'special' to be one of only 19 in a city as large and important as New York...

Good article. I especially like reading the reader's comments after the article. One was complaining about hearing another story of "elitist jobs" which given your description of what your apartment is like and the amount of time you are required to spend there, had me laughing! People have such crazy interpretations about what they are reading (obviously thru their own personal lens). I have to take my laundry to the Laundromat (another elitist activity in someone's eyes I'm sure....What clean clothes! teachers get paid too much!) Enjoy this beautiful day...SUN! -S

Hi Neil, I saw this review in a friend's post on Facebook: BEST LES MIZ REVIEW: "Went to the movies with the wife. We saw this obscure movie I had never heard of, some French foreign film. They must have been giving away free tickets because the lines were out the door. Anyway, the movie starts and Wolverine is singing his guts out. then Catwoman starts crying and singing and it’s all very moving. The only problem was, the girl next to me, who had apparently read the book or something, starts singing along. it was very distracting. so Wolverine is on the run from the Gladiator because Catwoman had a baby at Borat’s house, but now she wants Wolverine to care for her. Time skip. A bunch of kids get shot, and in the end everyone dies. Four stars.”

Sounds like what I saw....-S, were you the "girl...who had apparently read the book or something....singing along"? Neil

By way of an aside the following was an email exchange between Sue and Pat, who I believe was the friend with whom she went to see Les Miserables. "Hi Pat, Have a good New Year...The fella I met in NY on Thursday has become the best thing that's happened to me in a long time. He came up on Sunday and didn't leave until Tuesday...the game of life is, Sue (PS his name is Neil)"

Pat responded: "I am thrilled to hear about the new love of your life staying with you for so long. Yes, I remember his name is Neil and even mentioned it on the voice mail I left for you this morning - guess you didn't get that. I had called wanting to know if you were into another matinee today, but that longing is now long gone.

Well, my dear Sue, it sounds as if 2013 has started off on a very positive note for you. With what 2012 was like, you deserve this/him! Do keep me posted.

Love, Pat"

From Neil - Hopefully you will have seen the one I send earlier with the teddy bear...

here are two more about the intrepid outside news reporter: It was a great series, wonderful characters and very funny scripts. They used to write the scripts each week, before the show was aired, incorporating real news items to give it authenticity. In a funny sort of way Alex reminds me of you. N

These are very funny. I was laughing hard all through the teddy bear makes you wonder about what might really happen "out there" during a news story..who knows ....

I loved it when the old lady, in an innocent-sounding deadpan voice says to the policeman "I haven't got a door" N

Hi Sue,

I'm going to attach a copy of something I was reading earlier - give it a quick once-over and tell me if it looks familiar in terms of what you were discussing with your diet lady. I'm guessing it will. The dietary regime you are destined for is more radical than I would have first envisioned but not really, when I reflect on it. It is nearer to a black and white situation than an "all things in moderation" approach at very least in terms of a body-cleansing situation, if not also forevermore. It would seem that we are probably not going to be eating out so much and going through the process of selecting a place to eat lunch is going to get a lot easier. You probably did good with the soup and maybe the Japanese was OK-ish but neither probably come up to the strict criteria of your new regime. Hard-to-forego items will include dairy (esp cheese) and chocolate but the transition is not going to be anywhere near as difficult as it would have been for you a year or two or more ago. Also, not to be underestimated, you have some positive trade-offs such as kissing and cuddling. Tell me what basic ingredients (esp breakfast things) I should be getting in. What kind of milk do you use? Do you want cereal? Dinner on Saturday I can probably figure out but you will need to guide me re breakfast and/or any snacks...

Oh my! I didn't mean for you to feel you need to change anything! Mainly all she said was to try and eat organic food. . I'll show you the information she gave me. I don't know that it has to be quite as rigid as you're thinking. I do have to wrap my head around's a bit overwhelming to contemplate. As far as dairy, her main idea was to make sure any dairy is made from raw milk. To start she said eat goat cheese, not cow. Most of this regimen is about getting away from the over processed, chemically enhanced, genetically modified, and pesticide drenched foods that are in our supermarkets...I can eat organic grain cereal, raw milk (I'll buy that), nuts and fruit -mainly raw things....I don't want you having to get this stuff- i''ll bring things with me... I don't see an attachment??

( the kissing and cuddling will be the best part of this transition;.the proverbial icing on the whole grain, sugar-less cake!..) I was worried this might be freaking you out a little?? are you ok with this? I don't mean to make this some huge issue... it's just something i need to do...-s


Don't worry about me but you should read the attachment (it should be there) because it does make sense. I'm not necessarily suggesting a spartan regime but what I am reading into this dietary stuff is that there is at least a chance that 20thC living and environment and diet is what got you sick and so a part of the corrective action is to avoid the 'bad stuff', a lot of which you are already doing. However, there is another dimension and that is that certain foods and supplements may have a very pro-active effect by helping your body to oxygenate and cleanse itself. The piece that was new to me was the need to avoid foods that contain or foster mold growths that can be very harmful and even some whole-grains are apparently not good in this context. Freaked out? A few years ago I might have been but not now and eating at least close to what you do certainly won't hurt me. It's not as if I am totally locked in; the number of times we eat separately is more than enough for me to gorge myself on bad stuff if I choose. The stuff I copied does have a credible 'ring' to it and there are some things there that I would not have thought of but which seem to have a solid base in science. Nuts, for example, are not universally good for you - whole macadamia, almonds and walnuts are OK but peanuts are quite bad for cancer recovery as are (to my surprise) cashew nuts. It seems that salmon is OK but you are advised to seek out the wild, not farmed, variety (though ironically that can actually be cheaper and better too). The other thing you maybe ought to think about if you haven't done it yet is a detox to finish getting the chemo chemicals out of your system. Fresh and raw seems to be what to aim for with veggies and juicing is probably what you should be doing for your breakfasts. Green tea is very good too.

NOTE: The attachment file was 18 pages long and I have nothing to link to. If anyone would especially like to have a copy email me and I will try to get a copy for you.

Ok found it. yes a lot of this is what she was talking about but some of the info in your article is geared towards people who still have cancer cells which i don't. The diet she described to me is an anti-inflammatory diet which is good for any one with auto-immune issues or cardiac problems...(hint hint or former cardiac problems?) -s (good night i'll talk with you some more tomorrow...)

You nailed it. That is exactly what she is telling me....she has given me a very definite list of foods to eat which I'll share with you later. I'm up again because there was a strange sound coming from the soft water system in the doesn't seem to be anything...(god i hate houses!) -s

What was it I nailed?

Hi Sue,

I kind of lost track... Now on to what might be another string to your bow, and for all I know this may already be a part of your cancer avoidance strategy. There is stuff in this documentary which I was not even vaguely aware of and it tells me that you should probably be staying very close to those friends/neighbours of yours up the road.... Just in case you were labouring under the misapprehension that the AMA and other powers that be are doing everything possible to work towards developing cures for cancer, watch this. Pay special attention to the section about Gerson (around 45/50 minutes>):

Sue's reply: I meant that you pinpointed the idea that the 20thc environment was the cause of my cancer (and everybody else's as well) I have genetic markers as well but she said those could be overcome with the diet change. She calls her diet the Biblical diet in the sense that we shouldn't put anything man-made or engineered into our bodies but rather stick to what our organism was "created" to eat....she isn't preachy or heavily religious...she is very spiritual. She talks about the primary foods as being our self-confidence, attitude or outlook and spiritual growth. I'll send you a link to her website. She's probably a little over the top for most people but I trust her knowledge.and her enthusiasm is infectious! I've always believed in thinking outside everything (box? what's a box?) and this makes sense and feels like the right thing to do now. I sent the youtube doc to my friends up the street...I know they'll appreciate it. It was very interesting! what were you doing up at 3:48 am??? The diet helps with insomnia too by the way.....-S

What I was doing at 3.48 am was researching your diet and health regimen. Do not lose track of the presentation in the email headed "Must See", it takes what your dietician is recommending a step further in avoiding foods which come from animals and fish and is also quite a significant part of what Gerson put into his cancer treatments.

If, as seems to be the case, a diet of non-animal products creates an alkaline environment which, in turn, is more hostile to cancerous cells then you should be working to shift your ph balance in the alkaline direction. A few years ago I listened to some public radio programmes which seemed to be addressing that and I believe turmeric was one dietary component which was good in that regard.

Sorry I should have realized it was more purposeful! I'm always startled when people join me in this fight ...ii've always been the one fighting for other people (it's the fixer mentality in me).. something I have to let go of and be more willing to accept from thanks for your effort to help me figure this stuff far the videos have helped reinforce what Toni has talked about. She also recommended a course of supplements to take..the main one being probiotics, then raw D-3, and cod liver oil.She recommends I use the website She says they use scrupulous methods and are the most cost efficient. She also advised me about the acid/alkaline balance "acid in the gut, alkaline in the blood" She recommended cooking only with coconut oil (which my daughter was already doing here). She will be sending me some recipes for smoothies and juices which she advised were essential....this is taking on the sembalnce of an all out "holy" war isn't it? and the strange thing is the medical profession may not be the leader of the vanguard. I'm a little worried now about the chemo drugs that are probably still in my tissues but will feel better after I start this cleansing regimen. Hope you got some sleep finally! -s

If you want to have a regular "staple" to build your diet around you could do a lot worse than Vegetable Biryani made with turmeric and lots of other mild spices and coconut milk, the veggies can be underdone, even almost raw. You can cook a whole pan-full (the pan the fish was cooked in would work) and refrigerate it. However, what I am hearing is that at least part of the turmeric you ingest should be uncooked.

Vitacost does look good. Based on what I read up on in connection with Forever Living products I suggest you think about one or other form of Aloe Vera plus some form of Arginine plus a good fish oil product with lots of Omega 3 and should be high in EPA and DHA. The latter is to keep your triglycerides and cholestorol down, they will not do anything to keep the cancer cells away. All of it is at a fraction of the marked-up FLP prices, no surprise there. Has your dietician talked about a specific detox or only detoxing as a natural result from the change of diet? It could be worth asking the question about doing a detox to get rid of the chemo chemicals quicker than waiting for nature to take its course. It need only take a week or so and you can do it in a managed way. One of the programmes referred to some of the side-effects of the detox - needing extra showers because of malodorous chemicals and so on - and that is something you might want to get over with quickly. N

So in all of this ..i completely forgot I have my 6 months appt. with the oncologist next week and I have to get the blood work done today! Chemo brain time again! I ordered the probiotics and omega 3 cod liver oil but they were out of raw d3 so I'll get that somewhere else...the tumeric and curcumin stuff is fascinating....I knew there was a reason I love Indian food! Also some Mexican food also uses cumin and tumeric...I'm hoping to see my friend, Ellen (up the street) today. -s

From Neil......Karma: With link about mice.....Maybe you should give the traps a rest and start making miniature teddy bears....

ahhhhhhhh I'll never be able to kill them after this! Laura wants to make them into taxidermy mice and photo them..(she's a sick girl)....S

From Sue: I ran into my co-worker Brian when I stopped by school to get my camera today. We were talking about this diet I'm embarking on and he suggested I look at CSA farms in the area. I knew he had some sort of connection to Vassar Farm or the Poughkeepsie Farm Project just down the road from school. He was explaining that you pay a yearly fee (around $350.00) and then during the "season" May-Nov. you stop by weekly and get portion of whatever is ready to be eaten. It's along the lines of a food co-op except you have access to the actual source of the food..the farm. You can also defer the cost a little by volunteering to work at the farm...There are at least 3 CSA farms in this area and many more over in Dutchess Co. I think you get a certain weight; 5-10lbs on a weekly basis. If it's too much for just laura and I I'm thinking I could include in a friend or two, like my friend Lynn, to help pay for it and then split the harvest..seems like an interesting proposition and fills the bill as far as the farm source goes...

Not wishing to put a damper on it, I took a quick look around the website and could not find the word "organic" anywhere. I did find 'sustainable' but if they are using pesticides, chemical fertilizers or even if they are adjacent to farms that do or used genetically modified seeds etc then it is not going to be up to the standard you need.

Maybe (hopefully?) I'm missing something but you really need to check it out.. N

No , I did ask Brian about it and he says they don't use chemical pesticides only organic ones and they are in an urban other farms around them but you are correct that all this needs to be checked out. I'm going to look at the ones in the New Paltz area since for most of the season I'll be on this side of the river. There is also a food co-op in a nearby town that I know only sells organic produce etc. so worse comes to worse i'll just rejoin the co-op. Probably a safer and less expensive bet. It just seemed like a cool idea to do the farm but there is also a waiting list for the "shares" and the cost is high....

The second link sent me to Shoprite of Vails Gate which is the grocery store I used for 20+ years when I lived in Newburgh! Thanks for the other link . It has some of the CSA's in my area...Toni and Brian both recommended Hawthorne Valley Farm for raw milk etc. and I'm going to check them out. I hope you're doing a lot of other things besides this!

Just for the heck of it I looked up how to get to Poe Cottage from Kingsbridge and Jerome Ave. where the subway stop (is?) It had me turn left twice on the Grand Concourse (not sure what that meant) is the cottage between two parts of the Concourse? I can't quite see it in my mind's eye (30 years since I've been there)...oh well there's still lots of time for you to tell me" where to go" (just kidding) - S

From Neil - Not at all sure about the 2 raw eggs, either from an aesthetic or a dietary standpoint, but the rest looks OK and the hand-blender looks very user- and cleaning- friendly. I am sure that Dr Ali would add a scoop or two of turmeric to the recipe and that is probably a good thing to do:

From Sue: Toni says she's sending me some recipes for smoothies and juices to make. Hopefully without raw eggs although that is what she advocates as well....

From Neil: Thinking about that other documentary perhaps you should be breakfasting on hash browns...but that would probably make performing for your charges 'interesting':

The Shoprite link was not an accident, though it was meant to be the New Palz one, just to show you what organic produce they have (quite a lot and not just seasonal).

The cottage is on the east side of the Grand Concourse where it intersects with Kingsbridge Road. It is at the northern end of Poe Park. If you are on a 4 subway the best stop is Kingsbridge Rd and when you get off the subway you head along Kingsbridge Rd, walking AWAY from the Armoury. Cross over the Concourse and you will see the cottage. Only one gate into the grounds of the cottage will be open and that is the one inside Poe Park, opposite the ultra-modern looking Visitor Centre. If by chance you should get a B or D train you should get off (also) at Kingsbridge Rd. Try to be as near the back of the train as possible because you want the subway exit which is nearest to the back of the platform which will bring you up right across the street from the cottage. N

From Sue: re: hash browns ; it might make the" performance" interesting enough for them to pay attention to me for a change! The show clips are funny. I especially liked the one with the next door neighbors "dropping by". I always thought Annette Crosby was a "serious dramatic actress". I remember her as one of Henry VIII's wives(Anne Boleyn?) on a PBS show in the 60's...good grief I can remember that but not to get blood work done for a boggles the mind, what's apparently left of it. The supermarkets here are in competition with each other and both Shoprite and Stop&Shop have very good organic sections. There is a Health Food store in New Paltz as well that has a wide assortment (although more expensive)...and a specialty butcher who only sells grass fed's not going to be hard to find the food for this diet..thankfully!

One Foot in the Grave is a classic - well written and well performed. So, did you not get your blood drawn? I thought you had remembered in time...

Forget the butcher, it's the grass you need not the animals that feed on it!

no I got the blood work done ..i just can't get over that i forgot it until then!

After his email exchange Sue made her first visit to the cottage on the weekend of January 4th-6th. I have no recollection of what we did but I am sure we would have had at least one meal out, either on the Friday or Saturday evening and I would have cooked on the other. I seem to remember that on the Saturday Sue went to the Bronx "Little Italy" which was just about walkable from the cottage or an easy bus-ride. I think that she bought some supplies from there. Other than that I know that we spent some quality time together, made love and cuddled on the less-than-comfortable sofa while watching movies on the TV.

From Sue: I made it back (being silly). I have to say being back in the Bronx was a little strange at times. I've forgotten my "city" smarts somewhat and felt a little intimidated, like any "out of towner" might..took me awhile to adjust to it...walking around Fordham Rd and going into stores etc. helped make it more ordinary..I'm still a bit daunted by the subway. Riding the #4 again made me feel nervous for some reason, again that comfort level thing, I guess...Once I know where I'm going (know the route) I feel better. Navigating around you was a lot easier and wayyy more fun! Thanks for a lovely time....

Anyway, I miss you already and hope you had a good day with lots of people coming by to break up the day...-S

ThankYOU, for visiting and for all your gifts.

I'm now getting going again after having put my feet up because it was quite busy today. I have not done a final tally but I opened at 1pm, soon after dropping you off, and there were 4 or 5 people waiting to be let in. After that there was a steady stream including a group of 6 or 7 cub-scouts (probably around 8 yrs old) and 4 adults. They arrived when I was about 10 minutes into a tour with 2 Poe enthusiasts and so I suggested they wait in the park for about 15 minutes and I then did a special tour and tried to make it interesting for the kids. According to at least one of the "Den Mums" I did a good job and everyone seemed happy.. I probably had no more groups than yesterday but the groups were mostly bigger except for the last one who was a young (30-ish) history scholar from Lisbon who was my last of the day - he was very interested and I was able to give him a more in-depth presentation. I was thinking I might have a walk out to the supermarket but I really don't need to and so I may just stay in for the evening. I'm glad the speakers work - have you been rediscovering your music? Am pleased to report that the absence of a beard does not appear to have damaged my credibility as a Poe "expert". As usual I was able to fool them! Visitors today ranged from Montreal, Mexico City, Adelaide, Portugal, New Jersey and, of course, New York. How are the reports coming along? N

Gracious! You did have a busy day. It's nice you talked to the kids on their level. I hate taking my class to a historic site and the docent/guide just gives them the same old spiel they give everybody. It's a good opportunity to know how to modify the talk.. I've been sitting with my feet up also..I'm not the world traveler that you are! I made an (organic) cauliflower gratin tonight with a Swiss chard and mushroom broth soup. NO meat! I'm turning in early tonight... back to the school routine tomorrow....thanks for the Scottish art link. It looks interesting. -S

Words to live by from an American icon.... I especially liked "wash teeth if still have any....."

His dietary recommendations weren't bad either "eat good - fruit - vegetables - milk"

From Sue the following day: So if you don't hear from me later it's not because I'm ignoring you..I forgot to bring home the STUPID@#*@$ PLUG for the laptop...I can use Laura's desktop to check gmail but maybe you need a night off?? -S

Where did you leave it? I'm not seeing it in any obvious places?

Oh Neil! no I didn't leave it with you! I left it at school today. I ran out of battery so I'm on Laura's desktop.

I thought there had to be another answer because I could not find it anywhere down here. Of course it could have been cunningly concealed, if you'd left it deliberately, following my example with my phone, that being after I'd foiled your attempt to slip away with the door key...(insert smiley!)

So, how was re-entry? Painless? Fun? Did you find things from the holiday to remember and smile about?

Oh many things, indeed, to downright grin about! And how about yours? I'm afraid I was not smart enough to think of a good "ploy" so I'll just have to come back for no other reason than that I miss you and want to be with you again...

Today was a "professional development day' so we had to be developed through many hours of yakkity yak....the children come tomorrow. I feel the harness being slipped over my back as we speak...It was a lovely holiday. The next one is Jan. 21st. It will also be the 1st anniversary of my diagnosis. I have my 6mos. check-up on Thursday which I'm not expecting to have any surprises.

Tuesday 8th January: I remembered to bring the plug home! I hope you're having a productive little savages were back in full form today. One little guy went home in the morning because he wasn't ready to come back.(wish I had an accommodating mother like his). Actually, I feel bad for him. He's one of my kids with pretty severe learning issues and he's anxious about not fitting in...he is the sweetest little boy I've ever had so I want him to feel better about the whole thing but he has huge anxiety attacks now. On another front, my daughter has a horrible head cold so I'm avoiding her at all costs but I DID get a flu shot yesterday so we'll see if i survive this nonsense.. So what are you up to? Any movement towards chapter 2? How's Cafe Press treating you today? Do I sound a little "buzzy"? I went to the gym after school (I'm trying for 3 days a week) and feel like my engine got reved up wheeee! No doubt I'll crash before too long... So, hope to hear back from you.. -me

Hi, you!

I'm OK, not a hugely eventful day at this end. Chatted with Kathy this morning to update re cottage matters after the break. Did some research on CafePress competition and began the process of image editing which is the necessary precursor to creating new items. Following the research found some new Van Gogh works that I will include. The flu shot and Laura-avoidance sounds like a good strategy. I should have given you a bunch of hand-sanitisers that I have (promotional giveaways left over from the Chinese visa card project), remind me next time you are here. How are you going to resolve your little boy with anxiety issues? The best psychological treatment might be something called 'systematic desensitisation' which basically moves him progressively through various stages of proximity to the source of the anxiety (= the classroom?), comforting and rewarding him for handling each stage. It has been used for treating adult phobias such as agrophobia but it does take time. Perhaps there is a way to adapt it. What do you do at the gymn? N

Hi back, I think we are going to recommend the mom get him some kind of professional help. He keeps asking her to "home school " him, which she might actually consider. I don't think that would really be in his long term best interests..but we'll see...

I do what's called the circuit at the gym. The circuit consists of about 8-9 machines each constructed to torture and aggravate a specific muscle group in your body. The bottom line is that you limp away rubbing various parts of your anatomy wondering what the hell you were thinking to take this on! I also spend time on a treadmill. Today, my friend Judy (you met her with her 2 sons in New Paltz) went with me so that was nice, to have a partner in crime so to speak.. Laura is going to get me an i-pod so I can at least listen to music. Right now it's just monotonous and boring. I've never been much of an athletic type..but after last year I need to be more active so now I go to a gym..I made a veggie meal which was pretty good tonight. Just a mixture of whatever was in the fridge sauteed and eaten over pasta. It wasn't bad! Which Van Gogh pieces are you going to use? -s

Don't you mean 'partner in punishment'?

The Van Goghs I 'discovered' include the following:

Landscape with House and Ploughman

View of The Hague with the New Church

Autumn Landscape at Dusk

Skull with Burning Cigarette

Vase with Carnations

Vase with Red Poppies

Japanese art

Japonaiserie (after Hiroshige)

Japonaiserie Oiran (after Kesai Eisen)

Park at Asnieres in Spring

Plus others. The folder I am working from has just a few shy of 2000 works, in chronological order, ranging from small detail studies (hands, feet, figures) in pencil, charcoal or some other monochrome, to full-blown oils. I would like to do something with some of the lesser known works and detail studies but I have yet to figure out what. There will not be a mass market for them but real Van Gogh students and enthusiasts might go for items incorporating them. One thing I could aim for is a definitive source which has literally everything or a little piece of everything, I have that same concept in mind for Monet. I'm just not sure if the demand will justify the effort. On the positive side definitive sources and resources usually come into their own..

I'm going to hit send as you may be flaking out before too long. N

Flaking out! Moi??? au contrare....yawn..... OK I am going to go to sleep soon. It's been a loooonnngggg day. I like the concept about using the Van Gogh's. I'll have to think a bit about it but I do like the idea....the ultimate resource aspect seems solid but yes, a lot of WORK! I'm particularly interested in the detail studies..I like seeing sections of paintings focused in on so to speak. They create a completely different "picture" to enjoy. -Sue

Hi Sue I. Have to go to Manhattan this evening. Will be back sometime after! 10 N

Have Fun! -Sue

Hi Sue,

I'm back, safe and sound, are you still up and about? Neil

I am! what's up?

Not much, but I was thinking about you as I have been doing rather a lot of late.

What time is your check-up tomorrow? I had a haircut while on my travels today - maybe not quite as short as yours but definitely getting close, almost respectable... Neil

I bet you look just as cute as me (lol) My appt. is at 3:30. I'll let you know when I get out. i don't expect anything to be "out of whack". I feel fine...I've been thinking about you too...I wish I could come see you but I'm also a bit strapped financially too so I need that next paycheck as well as getting the reports done..( i hate being responsible). Oh well, life in the fast lane, right? -S

I KNOW you look cuter, trust me. I can handle deferred gratification and it is definitely true that abstinence makes the heart grow fonder but do get the reports done, it would be a shame to waste all that abstinence!

I will take that idea under advisement! Can't be wasteful now can we! I'm off to dreamland, hope you have a good night too..-s

Thursday 10th January: I'M ALIVE Hi Neil, The doctor's appt. went well. My CA125 tumor marker went down again (that's the right direction) It was 8 now it's 4." Normal" is 20 by the way and it never goes to 0. My white blood cell count was normal (finally!) I take this as a good sign. She wants me to get a CAT Scan at the end of the month to mark 6 months and then I'll have 3 month blood work checks and 6 mos. scans until a year is past which would be June (that's when I had my last chemo). soo knock on wood (or my knobby head) it all seems to be OK at this point. I guess I can be guardedly optimistic now...wouldn't want to tempt fate....-S...

Hi Sue, That sounds like good news! Thanks to Google and a few sites it took me to I now know at least a little about CA125. It's not that I didn't trust you, I just wanted to know what it is and how it works. From all I can glean the numbers in your case seem very positive. Static readings in themselves can apparently be misleading but a trend (up or down), especially in a case where a known cancer is being treated. One site actually referenced "a 50% change" as being "significant". The further tests are reassuring. Just be very clear that there is somewhere a bit south of where you are who wants you to be around and in good health for a long time to come. Neil

spotted a typo: insert "someone" before "somewhere"...

Sue replied: Well, to let you know I started a year ago diagnosed as stage 4(which I regarded as just a "number" not a sentence) with a CA125 of 360. then it went to 120 after the first chemo and finally ended at 16 in June after the last(6th) one. It's been steadily decreasing which is a very positive thing ! I apparently am one of those lucky people for whom chemotherapy works really well....and of course I had a great surgeon. The tumor marker is only one indicator the other thing is the scans and the one I had in October showed a complete absence of any tumor activity anywhere so I'm expecting this next one to be the same.

I'm very happy to have someone "somewhere south ' of me in my corner. It's a relief in many ways after some of the other attitudes I've encountered...!

I truly believe in the power of positive energy. I was surrounded by it for the entire time I was being treated. When I returned to work in the fall, parents of children I hadn't even taught came over and hugged me and told me how worried everyone had been and how much I was loved and how much it seemed like a miracle to all of them. It was quite unexpected and touching. It was a true portrait of how much of a caring community we have here. Anyway, I mean to prove them right and continue to be a "miracle".(lol)....-S

I'm not sure why you sent these but I love them! I've always loved the way old book bindings look. They convey a feeling of ancient mystery that I find very appealing. Are you thinking of using these for the phone covers or better still Kindle covers? (very funny if you did)..-Sue

Good Morning, Gorgeous! I sent the book cover images because someone twittered them to me and I thought (knew?) you would like them. I would dearly love to use them for (a) journal covers (b) Kindle and Nook covers and (c) phone covers. I have even seen similar designs on tee-shirts using covers of old, known works. Unfortunately this whole collection is in one place and has been photographed by one man. Image use - personal, educational etc - is only OK if non-commercial and so I can't really use them. One-offs do exist (auction websites and some others) and I even have one or two EAP ones already.

Darn! I thought they would be so good.

Phone cases, phone cases and more phone cases

....and I'm still only scratching the surface. I have been selling some. A couple of designs (Starry Night and Phone Box) seem to have been picked up by the Algorhythm and are getting exposure. Also phone cases generally seem to be "hot". I'm still surprised that other designs which "should" be working aren't and so I created a new "phones" section and am populating it with designs. I also need to go through and edit a lot of the titles because where the artwork title is long the item bit like " case" is being truncated and that could be affecting search retrievability. It is a mind-numbing task but will hopefully pay off in the long run. I would like to feel that this is a "once and forever" job but it is actually only until the next generation of phones happens along. So, what did you do to celebrate your results? N

very nice! Those are beautiful. I can see why they'd be popular. I haven't done anything to "celebrate" but on Jan. 26th my "fun with sue " group is having a get together so i expect that will be a kind of celebration...I really miss seeing you by the way. I had a struggle with myself about coming down anyway but then I checked my finances and realized I just can't do it (sigh).. BUT next weekend is a 3 day-er because I have Monday off (Martin Luther King Day) so that will be nice! -Sue ( PS I was listening to the Corrs last night. I really like them! I never heard them before which is strange..I especially liked Breathless)

I just need the phone covers to get found which is not as easy as you might think. The Corrs sound especially good through real speakers . Every other weekend seems like a good base to build on, with special emphasis on the long, holiday ones. At some point I plan to buy you one of those books of 10 trips which will make life easier but I'm not quite in shape to do that this month. I am mindful about what you said about the issues that being away every weekend caused... Enjoy your 'poets' day N

I have to agree everything sounds much better on REAL speakers. I'm luxuriating in sound these days! I'm sorry about the lack of money being such as problem right now. I have to pay my school taxes and then I'll be on a better footing...I can buy the 10 trip thing myself but I don't know much about it. I 'll look into it...I didn't mean to be a damp blanket about the traveling it's just that it was so exhausting last year and I need time to do ordinary everyday stuff like go to the laundromat every so often...I'd much rather be with you on the weekends but what's the expression, "reality bites"...I'm on a slight break right now so I'm off to do copious copying for the next week's lessons....until later.-S

Whew! am I glad this week is finally always takes such a long time to get the kids back to a "normal" routine after a big break. Some of them are still on break! I had 2 girls go off for ski weekends yesterday and two other families are going away for a week at the end of January for a "ski", if I was paying what they are for tuition I'd make sure my child was in school every day that they can be! Hope your day was productive. I'm sitting back watching an episode of One foot in the grave...Victor lost his job (not a pleasant idea) and is trying to put on a magic show...??

I came home to "drama". My daughter is planning on breaking up with her boyfriend tonight and got mad at me when I agreed (gently) with her decision ."You never liked him" was thrown at my're so lucky to have a son! Also her father called and cried on her shoulder because his wife told him she's leaving him in 3 mos. (this has happened at least 4 times in the last year). So all in all I'm in drama central tonight. I'd like to hide out and become invisible for the night..I really wish I HAD taken the train to NYC tonight... so how are you? Anything dramatic going on in your world? Hopefully not! Oh and to add insult to injury we have another mouse! (big surprise)..I think I'll listen to some soothing music for awhile with the new lovely speakers someone (due south) gave me.... thinking of you...-S

Hi Sue, I've just signed off from OKC having taken the time to respond to 10 messages that began to pile up from around New Year. I told all of them that I am in the process of becoming inactive because I am in a relationship which I would like to give my full-time attention to. (Should I be telling you this? I'm sure I read in dating 101 somewhere that it is an absolute no-no to be this open this soon..) Anyway your picture popped up while I was there and so it seems appropo to let you know what I was doing. Sorry to hear about your dramas. Your daughter is beginning to sound like something of a contrarian (maybe she has the covenanter gene)...does she think that she might be in a different place if you had viewed things differently? Hasn't she figured out that it's HER relationship? Bottom line? If she has real doubts they will almost certainly get bigger not smaller. Got sidetracked on CafePress and ended up doing a whole page full of Owl items! N

Hi Neil, I also had gotten off of OKC but then realized if I wanted to "see' you I had to log back on! (I miss your face) Silly stuff. They say I can't sign off for a week now but I haven't been going on it anyway..I'm in the same camp as you on this one..I have absolutely NO desire to look at any more profiles or engage in any more conversations..I've also told people I'm "involved". You have my full time attention as well. so there, I've been open with you in opposition to dating 101 too. I'm glad you brought it up because i was feeling a little unsure if i should mention it. It's nice to be on the same page on this one without even discussing it!

I also got off of POF. The weird thing is these sites still send you messages and flirts and supposedly your profile is down or gone or whatever(?)They're like an octopus that won't let go! I guess they want to tempt people to stay on even if they are exploring a new relationship. Kind of nasty.

Laura has calmed down and admits she's trying to figure out what to do and over reacted...she's just very confused about what's going on in her life right now and is feeling depressed... good luck with the owls. I haven't done art work in a week so maybe this weekend I'll try my hand at an owl collage..-S

I was just watching a great biography of Joan Baez on PBS, who is one of my all time favorite singers and "people". I haven't listened to her in ages (like years!) so it was a nice way to reconnect with her. I guess my favorite song of hers is a Dylan tune that is not very significant but always made me feel strangely peacefully content ..of course it doesn't really describe any relationship I ever had in reality but was rather an "ideal", which it probably was for her too .You Ain't Goin Nowhere.. Do you know it?

I also love a song she does with her sister Mimi Farina by Donovan: Try and catch the Wind:

Well, I am certainly waxing nostalgic...listening to music always does this to me. It's hard to not get "caught" up in some emotional state or other....

How goes the Cafe Press work?-me

Sorry, I was catching up with the latest Law and Order episode on Youtube. I know both the tracks you mention but I associate You Ain't Goin Nowhere more with the Byrds because that is the version I heard most often. I'm also familiar with Try and Catch the Wind but the Donovan version. I can even recall some of the words which probably means they are good - In the chilly hours and minutes of uncertainty I long to be...and that's without playing a reminder. Having our interests in music revived is a very healthy thing (IMO) even if some of the associations may be bittersweet and/or lead to the odd wave of nostalgia. So, what do you want to know about CafePress? N I may send a couple of music links, I just need to plumb the depths of my mind...

I was just wondering if any of your newest creations have gotten any hits? I especially liked the owl...although I think that one just went up , right? I'm still frustrated that you can't use the bookbindings, they would have been Perfect! for i-pads, kindles must be hard to find things and then not be able to use them because of copyrights etc. not to mention the time you have to spend researching the images you find.

Anyway, did i ever tell you that I've probably seen every episode of L&O at least 3 times. They've been on re-runs on at least 3 cable channels for the last couple of years. When I was sick and sitting at home they were sometimes the only thing worth watching. I will confess to channel surfing between episodes of classic, SVU, and Criminal was a truly pathetic year (lol). I still like Jerry Orbach the best..

Thanks for the Byrds version, I've actually never heard it! I liked Mimi Farina a lot although she wasn't nearly as famous as her sister. her husband Richard Farina wrote a book I always liked with the catchy title of; Been Down so Long It Looks Like Up to Me. One of a plethora of angst driven novels that 60's adolescents loved. It was very funny in parts too .

Hits maybe but no sales, it's really too early for that. It can take a day or two before items are even searchable within the CP system and then they have to get "found" which is a whole 'nother story and easier told than written. Don't rule out the book bindings, it is a good idea and there is more than one way to skin a cat. There will be some other book covers online, it's just a question of finding them. Also, if any of the ones on the Morgan Library site look generic enough I might take a flyer and use them and there could be ways to 'tweak' them and blur the edges, as it were. My current #1 sellers are the British Phone Box which I blatantly copied from others a couple of months ago but maybe mine looks better or is better described with better key-words. It's still relatively small numbers but some sales is always better than no sales. Next is a version of Starry Night - another knock-off but again either better done or better described. How do you like my (understated = not stated) "pair of hooters" tee shirts? I did a design with 2 owls for mugs and thought I'd try it on some ladies' tee shirts!

The L&O series I have been watching is a brand new 2012/13 season of SVU. I think on the basic Hulu I'm seeing them 4 weeks after they appear on the network. I have seen a lot of the old L&O episodes and I also like Gerry O. Way back, when I would be over here on business, I used to listen to one of the Light FM radio stations (NJ 106.7) while driving around and it was also sometimes used as piped music in stores. Once or twice I would stay in my rental car at JFK waiting to hear the last of a "set" before heading into the terminal. There were a few tracks I would hear, sometimes in batches, on there that I didn't hear anywhere else. Here are a couple of them plus a few others that came to mind: Sometimes when we touch by Dan hill - A really beautiful song. The Day They Drove Old Dixie Down by Joan Baez (I like the melody and the beat a lot, also the intro and build-up. Music by John Miles Listen for the change of tempo at 3 mins 40... Constant Craving by K D Lang Mandolin Rain by Bruce Hornsby Every Little Kiss by Bruce Hornsby The End of the Innocence The Road Not Taken

A favourite Remake from the 80s - A Groovy Kind of Love by Phil Collins


Sue, I just thought that you might not have heard some of the original tracks I sent through "REAL SPEAKERS" and so here are a couple that might be worth revisiting, plus a couple of others: With Every Beat of My Heart by Chris Rea I Give You The Morning by Tom Paxton Leaving London by Tom Paxton Heart of Gold by Neil Young

thanks I awoke to all this music and have been happily listening and procrastinating for a time! Now I need to get to work (sigh)...-S

REHEARSING MY LINES Good morning, welcome to the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage....

And I'm trying to write a completely negative report without being negative! Try that one some time! -Sue

clearly has potential but.... needs to...(more)(less) has a tendency to.... has to.... (Can't be completely negative. There has to be a positive somewhere, even if it is only that his parent's are paying..) Is my photo showing up at your end?

thanks and yes I like the New (old?) look! I don't mind scruffy but this looks much better I have to say (also you're smiling in this one!) I don't need to go on OKC to "see" you.(lol) (I'm not a" mad" stalker by the way...just miss you and I'm very visual).

The problem with reports is you have to be objective and say what needs to be vagueness but still be gentle about it...this little guy is a very sweet kid who basically can't function in a regular classroom setting but his Mom does know this already, (I've had numerous conferences and she's been to scads of "experts") it's just hard for me, personally to have to say it all clearly so there's no room for doubt. We're trying to move her towards seeking a different school for him next year....She teaches in our HS and is an alum of the school which makes it even harder..her "dream' was to have her son go to her school. Not too much guilt being the destroyer of dreams..

.Are things busy today? -S

"New" (this morning) and it is relatively quiet so far. Just having a break while 2 people watch the DVD,

I just feel like I'm hibernating's a response to the grayish world around me right now. It's white and gray and drizzly and chilly ...not inspiring in the least. I just want to hunker down in the covers and read a book...or take a nap...hope your day held more energy...s

Today was fairly busy - more like last Sunday than last Saturday. There was an art exhibit opening in the Visitor Centre (something called 'Swamp') and I think that brought me a few visitors I would not otherwise have had. They were a nice lot - seemed interested and got nice thankyous as they left - home locations ranged from across the street (literally) to Argentina, Milan, NJ, CT and elsewhere in the City, maybe elsewhere too. While I remember next Saturday is Poe's 204th birthday and apparently Lucy in the Visitor Centre is arranging some 'events' which she tells me will include a musical rendering of Annabel Lee sometime between 11 and 11.30, a reading of at least 1, possibly 2 other Poe works in the afternoon and maybe some prints on display, not sure about tea and cakes. Assuming you are here you might care to check it out, you can even wear your Poe tee-shirt if you want to be fashionable. Your "grey" day sounds like it could have been a nice one to spend together, under or above the covers, with or without book(s)....I've even discovered some new British dramas you will probably enjoy. They are period mysteries from Victorian England, newly (last 24-hrs) uploaded by the guy who gave us One Foot in the Grave and many many others. We can watch them when you next come down. What is the latest with Laura? Did she make the break or is she vascillating (or even, like Mother, procrastinating)? Only curious... I read an extremely long review of the movie (which I'd not heard of) about the 10-year hunt for Bin Laden. Some are saying it is Best Film material others that it over-complicates the issue by, perhaps inaccurately, attributing some of the ultimate success to having got results through the use of torture. It may be getting close to the time for me to take a subway ride but first I need to research to find 2nd and 3rd films. Lincoln would be one if they have it, not sure about a 3rd... I made an interesting discovery on CafePress yesterday. I tried searching, using what I thought were obvious and relevant search terms 'Impressionist", "Pre-Raphaelite" "Art Nouveau" and maybe even artists like "Matisse". Whereas I would have expected hundreds, even thousands, of items the searches only turned up a few pages each and my items had reasonable prominence. This suggests to me that maybe people are not searching in that way or maybe they are just not into art or SOMETHING because normally to have high prominence on common keyword searches means sales and they are not happening, at least not in those categories. If you get a chance do some searching (from and see what you think. It is hard to gauge exactly what constitutes "a lot" in CP terms because their sales may be very thinly spread. However, overall this has to be good news because prominence in search engine rankings is always a good thing, eventually the searches come along. N

So what did you see? where did you go? Do tell...I'm living vicariously...I almost never go to the movies. Les Mis was the first one I went to see in months. I don't like going by myself but my friend Lynn goes all the time by herself. She lives in Rhinebeck and there's an Art House style theater there (independent films and foreign films mostly).

Any howww,, hope you had a good time.

No movie, what I was aluding to was a trip on the D line (not tonight, for my to-do list) to find one of the Chinese guys who sell pirate DVDs at 3 for $10. I too have not been to a movie in quite a long time - can't even recall what it was but time-wise sometime last year but earlier rather than later. There were a couple of those indie-style theatres over in Queens but I have not even begun to explore the cinemas here in the Bronx - in all my time here in the states (never mind just the last 15 months) I have never been to a Bronx cinema. This evening I have been pottering around online and have a few YouTube tracks which I will send you momentarily.

Oh funny. And here I thought you were out and about! I watched The Spirit of St Louis on PBS and then Laura came home and did a tarot reading for me. I drew the "world "; apparently everything is tip top and the world's my oyster and then I had an upside down" Devil" which indicates that I have work to do on myself to let go of past things and the last one was" Pentacles #9" which means I'm in a good position financially (HAH that proves it's bunkus) We know how to entertain ourselves here in the Parise household....oh yeah the boyfriend never showed...again. This is, unfortunately his modus operandi...he never shows up and leaves her hanging for days and even weeks on end. Personally I would have told him to take a hike a lonnnngggg time ago.I never went to see any movies when I lived in the Bronx either. They weren't the most enticing places to tell the truth. We did occasionally go into Manhattan to see something ,but rarely.. The D-train connection sounds more interesting anyway....

Medieval folk meets rock - head on - with Maddy Prior - Steeleyespan All Around My Hat

Solitary Man by Neil Young Also Crackling Rosie

Gracious! I never heard of the Maddy Prior group but it reminded me of a group that I LOVED when I was about 19 or 20. This song was a mantra in my head for gives you a glimpse as to what I was like in my early 20's (hint...airy faery. I WAS in art school after all) laugh all you want.."Dust be Diamonds" there's no accounting for taste....especially in the very young. Yes, I dressed like a crazed gypsy and had hair down past my ass....what were your transgressions?

I hope you're well rested and ready for trouble (just kidding) I forgot to tell you that I went on cafe press and tried some of those keyword searches but didn't see anything that I thought was yours??? I tried Impressionists, post-impressionists, artists and Van Gogh. I saw what looked like someone else's "Starry Night collection" and it led me to a lot of esoteric sites but nothing that looked like yours. Maybe I don't know how your "collections" are labeled? These said "Van gogh collection". It's kind of dizzying to navigate in there! I'll try again later. I'm off for my bi-weekly laundromat "experience". taa taa....

Good Morning Sue,I am more or less rested though I do miss waking up with you. Did I tell you that I like waking up with you *a lot*? I also find being intimate with you to be almost unbelievably easy and incredibly *fulfilling* (yes, that word perfectly describes it). Just wanted to share a couple of current thoughts. Now onto the more mundane....I'm not 100% sure what exactly I was asking you to do, I'm still formulating my own thoughts about adding more items, figuring which items and working out how to get those items to the top of the pile in terms of search engine optimisation. I did look myself again and I do not (yet) have any significant presence in terms of the generic "impressionists". I may be developing a niche in Van Gogh but probably have a ways to go (I didn't check that one). I do have quite a strong presence in "Pre Raphaphaelite" - quite a lot of items on the first page or two are mine - and that reflects the work I put in. Unfortunately it is probably not an important search term at least not here in the US. Klimt is a mixed bag and I seem to have some serious competition there. Art Nouveau has some of mine, as does "Matisse" though in case of the latter I only have a few phone cases, not much more.Generally speaking the items and images which come up highest in searches are the most popular (most searched and/or most sold) ones and so I should aim to have those in my offerings in some way,shape or form.That's enough about SEO (search engine optimisation) for now. Here are some music tracks for you to play:

Lily Marlene by June Tabor

I do remember the Incredible String Band. There was someone in my social circle who was "into" them but for the life of me I can't remember who it was - I think I've narrowed it down to a couple of people but then it is a blank - but I don't think I really listened to the music. Maddy Prior is quite an icon and was still performing in 2007/08 and maybe even now. Bye for now,N.

You say the nicest things to me. Really, I mean it. I also feel that way about you as well. Waking up with someone you feel completely at ease with and can't wait to see is the such a great to the other...It astounds me how much I'm attracted to you! It's quite a new thing for me. Well, I won't gush (it's not my comfort zone or probably yours either) but needless to say I'm looking forward to spending that quality time with you soon..Hope your day goes well. I'm back to report more procrastination...-s

Hi Gorgeous! I'm just telling it like it is, just simple truths - no embellishments. If you can handle background music here are a couple of links, somewhere in this lot you should be able to find something that just plays itself without constant clicking.

Hi Sue,It was fairly quiet today - more like last Saturday than last Sunday. I had a call this morning, out of the blue, from a guy I did some work for back in 2010. He works for Hugo Boss at Columbus Circle selling expensive clothes to high net worth individuals and has been doing that kind of work for 20+ years. Apparently he was a personal shopper for Condaliza (sp??) Rice and has also done some fashion photography. I think he is probably gay but I can't say I've seen evidence. Anyway it seems that he is off to the UK next week and is hoping to get a job in Burberry in London and wants me to help write his resume. Frankly I'm surprised to hear from him because we last met about 2 years ago when he was (also) getting a resume ready for a trip to the UK but we had a falling out when he was less than happy with what I did for him, it's a long story..So I was almost tempted to give him a wide berth but he has a habit of conversing very fast and one has to be pretty determined to steer a conversation. Anyway I will give him the benefit of the doubt and see if this time we can be in sync regarding what he wants and what I can do for him.So, I'm heading out momentarily and will probably be back around 10 give or take. If I miss you before you turn in I wish you a very good night and hope that your charges behave themselves in the morning.XXX

Good luck! He sounds extremely HIGH maintenance...Does he think you'll give him an edge because you're from the UK and know the language better (lol)...actually I know why.. because It's what you've done (probably, really well) for many years...I'd pick you too...Are you off to find a Chinaman with some hot video's? I really enjoyed the Corr's concert by the way, thanks! -S

Hi Sue, I'm back after a totally abortive trip. I have to take the blame though I just wish that Marlon, who is high maintenance by the way, had been patient enough to wait a little while longer in the place we'd agreed to meet instead of heading off to a place he'd only voice-mailed me about because I didn't get the voicemail. What happened was that I left the cottage without my phone - it's not that uncommon, I really don't use it that much - though 5 minutes out I did think about coming back for it but foolishly did not (isn't hindsight a wonderful thing?). I then went to the subway, discovered that neither machine was taking cash, went down to the Fordham Rd station (not too far and in the right direction) but then had a very long wait for a train - Sunday service I guess - and arrived at Columbus Circle at 7.15 ish. I hung around for about half an hour but to no avail and came back to a couple of voice messages. I now have another meeting planned for tomorrow am at around 8.30. I'm not at all sure I want the aggravation but maybe it will turn out OK and I may even make some money out of it. There was a Chinaman on the subway, in fact I think I encountered no less than 3 video vendors on my way up and down, but did not splash out. How are you? Did you finish your reports? Without wishing to gush, or anywhere even close, I can honestly say that the only fun thing about riding up and down to 59th St was the chance to think about you, which I do rather a lot these days. Actually, not just about *you* but also about *us* and the way we seem to have clicked.

Oh poor you! (you make me laugh) Life has these ridiculous mishaps that waste our time and make us wonder if there isn't a mischievous spirit at work...I've often wondered about that!

...As to report writing..I'm afraid it's a complicated and time consuming process. I've done 4 out of 13 which is actually a good start. The first half are due on the 22nd and the rest on the 28th so I'm not in bad shape...I'll bring my laptop when I come Friday and just work at them while you're "upstairs" Sat. and Sun.. It's probably better to do them somewhere where I won't be distracted...

I think about the rarity of finding someone with whom to "click" in the first place. It's never been that easy for me for some reason and I obviously haven't had the best of luck in that. I don't dwell on it much but it has always puzzled me why it should be so...and I do definitely feel the "click" this time, quite distinctly...

As if it's bad enough that Santa Claus doesn't exist..... seems that the whole Greyfriars Bobby story was a hoax to stimulate tourism. I found this via a tweet pointing to the 140th anniversary of the statue being erected:

Revisionist view

In 2011, after five years of research, Jan Bondeson published Greyfriars Bobby: The Most Faithful Dog in the World, the most detailed biography of Bobby to date. In it he dispelled the story as traditionally told and offered a different version.[5][3][4][6]

As background, in 19th century Europe there are documented over 60 'graveyard dogs', or 'cemetery dogs'.[3][4] These were stray dogs which were fed by visitors and curators to the point the dogs made the graveyards their home. People thought, "Oh look at that poor dog, waiting by his master's grave," so they kept looking after them: the stray dog had free food while graveyard curators had company and a good story to tell visitors.[3][4] In Bobby's case, he was originally a stray that hung around nearby Heriot's hospital, but became such a nuisance the hospital gardener threw him into the graveyard.[3][4] James Brown, the curator of the graveyard, was fond of Bobby's company and began to feed him to keep him around.[3][4] Visitors saw Bobby and liked to believe he was loyally staying by his masters grave, and provided Brown with tips to hear Bobby's "story". After an article about Bobby appeared in the Scotsman visitation rates to the graveyard increased by 100 fold with people arriving from all over England and Scotland.[3][4] "They would give James Brown a handsome tip and have lunch in the Traills' restaurant."[3][4] It was a lucrative situation for Bobby, Brown and the local community.

Bondeson believes in May or June 1867 the original Bobby died and was replaced with a younger dog because he states pictures of him show a clear change.[3][4] The first was an old tired-looking mongrel, the second was a lively youthful Skye terrier that ran around and reportedly fought with other dogs.[3][4] This also explains the longevity of Bobby, 18 years, since Skye terriers usually only live around 10-12 years.[3][4][2]

When the story of Bobby first broke it was believed his owner had been a shepherd buried in the graveyard.[3][4] Later, a scholar named Forbes Macgregor, who wrote a biography of Greyfriars Bobby, believed the owner was John Gray, a local policeman buried there in 1858.[3][4] Neither makes full sense since a shepherd wouldn't normally use a terrier for herding sheep, nor would a small terrier normally be used as a police dog.[3][4]

Over the years local Edinburgh residents who knew the facts had talked in public, there were even newspaper articles that cast doubt on the story, and even while Bobby was alive some councilors cast doubt on his story when it was discussed at Edinburgh City Council. However, the romantic legend of Bobby was so ingrained and beloved that any revisionism over the years went largely unnoticed.[3][4][7] Jan Bondeson stated "It won't ever be possible to debunk the story of Greyfriars Bobby – he's a living legend, the most faithful dog in the world, and bigger than all of us."[5]

In memory

Greyfriars Bobby's Bar. Two men are passing the statue, lower right.Bobby's headstone in Greyfriars Kirkyard

A lifesize statue of Greyfriars Bobby was created by William Brodie in 1872, almost immediately after the dog's death. This was paid for by a local aristocrat, Baroness Burdett-Coutts.[8] This stands in front of the "Greyfriars Bobby's Bar", which is located near the south (main) entrance to Greyfriars Kirkyard. The statue originally faced toward the graveyard and pub but has since been turned around, allegedly by a previous landlord of the pub so that the pub would appear in the background of the many photographs that are taken each year.[citation needed] The monument is Edinburgh's smallest listed building. Originally built as a drinking fountain, it very aptly had an upper fountain for humans and a lower fountain for dogs. This had the water supply cut off (as with all Edinburgh's drinking fountains) around 1975 amidst health scares. Both basin areas were infilled with concrete soon after. After being daubed with yellow paint, allegedly by students, on General Election night in 1979, and being hit by a car in 1984, restoration became critical. The monument was subsequently fully restored under the supervision of the then Edinburgh District Council in 1985. The entire base is newly carved but emulates the original exactly.[9]

A plaque on the site of a tavern where Bobby was a welcome visitor

A red granite stone was erected on Bobby's grave by The Dog Aid Society of Scotland, and unveiled by the Duke of Gloucester on 13 May 1981. Since around 2000 this has been utilised in a shrine-like manner, with sticks (for Bobby to fetch) frequently being left and occasionally dog toys, flowers etc.

The monument reads:

Greyfriars Bobby

Died 14 January 1872

Aged 16 years

Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all.

Guided tours of the Kirkyard are given by a number of groups, including the Greyfriars Bobby Walking Theatre and the Greyfriars Kirkyard Trust.

On 25 September 2009, the BBC reported that the statue had undergone a form of 'vandalism'. Protestors against Donald Trump building a golf course had visited statues in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Stirling replacing the faces of the statues with that of Donald Trump, and in some cases, also attaching a set of toy golf clubs to the statue. The 'vandalism' to the statue of Greyfriars Bobby consisted of a face mask of Trump being placed over Bobby's face.[10]

Oh well people will be people you know (and dogs too)...after awhile the hubub will die down and the legend will come back stronger then ever...just like that ridiculous story of Geo. Washington and the cherry tree....another victim of revisionist history...(ha). -S

Zazzle Sale They don't happen very often but it's nice when they do: Sold 2 of these at a profit of a little over $13 each: Our Lady of Guadalupe Throw Pillow

Oh cool. The Latin American connection comes through! She looks good on a pillow.

UCK DAY Hi, What a miserable, yucky day. Everyone is feeling down and out here. This is such an uninspiring time of the year ...I hope you are faring better. I always go into hibernation mode when it's like this. Also adding to the mood was something that happened on the way to work. As I was going to the bridge on the main road out of New Paltz there was a poor deer just lying down in the middle of the roadway. It must have gotten hit just before because it looked completely out of it and dazed. I wanted to stop but didn't know what I could do about it. There was a State Police car behind me so I hope he stopped even though I know he'd probably just shoot it to put it out of it's misery (they do that around here)..God, this is not one of my better days. Sorry to be mopey....Friday seems a long way off right now...have a good day and I'll try to cheer will help..-S

Hello Sue, I'm sorry that I can be there to un-uck your day, which I am quite sure I could do. At very least we could hibernate together which is far from being an unappealing prospect. You were quite right not to stop and sympathise with the deer this morning. There is absolutely nothing you could do and you would even run the risk of getting bitten by a deer tick. I did see one in a similar situation a few years ago when I was out in the wilds of NJ or PA only in my case the deer was actually trying to run around in a blind panic but was clearly badly hurt. I was going in the other direction but, like today, there was a police car pulling up and I am sure that the deer was about to be put out of it's misery which is probably the only course open, as happens with horses that break legs. Had an OK visit to the city this morning although the amount of hanging around was beginning to try on my patience. I got there slightly early, around 8.20 but Marlon didn't put in an appearance until around 8.50. I was close to leaving and I actually began to dis-assume some of the responsibility for last night's debacle. It really was not a smart move on his part to disappear off to somewhere he'd only voice-mailed me about without knowing that the message had reached me and if he had either waited at the place we'd agreed on or at very least checked back there he'd have found me. Grrr. Anyway the good news is that, after all that, the work needed on his resume isn't that extensive. He is fairly clear what he wants and it's more a question of getting something over to Burberry in London and the content is really secondary because he has already had some discussions. I did tell him that IMO it's a bad move to make - wrong job, wrong place and wrong time - but he's not in a listening, logical mode and at the end of the day it's up to him to make his own mistakes. My guess is that the odds on them coming up with the package he's describing and getting him a work permit are quite low but we shall see. So, I must get to work on the resume. I have already done a lot of it by hand but I need to type it up and get it off to him by email by later this afternoon.

Ucky day or not I am willing to bet that you are looking quite dishy and eminently huggable, so there!

thanks for the cheer-up it worked! The sun finally made an appearance and all is right with the world. I'm nothing if not "Pantaglorian"...(there probably isn't such a work bu there should be. Marlon sounds a little loony tunes. you did your best..! -Sue

Ok, you got me, I give up, what on earth is "Pantaglorian"??Google was zero help and so I have to admit my total ignorance...

I probably misspelled it. Dr. Pantagloss, the tutor in Candide always speaks of things (even horrible ones) as being "the best of all possible worlds".. etc. sorry I sometimes screw up my literary references BIG time! -S

Even with your additional explanation I still had to resort to Google (the word you were looking for is Panglossian, by the way) because my education somehow by-passed Candide, Voltaire and in fact most French literature. No apology necessary and (good news) you can probably screw up your literary references as much as you like, even the English ones, and they will still be so far above my head that I won't notice!

Oh dear I'd like to blame chemo brain but I've ALWAYS been like this. My family used to refer to me as "little miss malaprop" (probably another spelling mishap) so now you've found one of those "foibles and idiosyncracies" I warned you about in my "profile". I always put up a warning ahead of time so there are no misunderstandings later truth I love language and enjoy playing with words a lot...even when I don't remember them clearly..(but NOT scrabble).-S

I would rate malaprops as more of an endearing characteristic than a foible or idiosyncracy According to Wikipedia Archie Bunker a character in the American TV sitcom All in the Family is also known for malapropisms. He calls Orthodox Jews "off-the-docks Jews" and refers to "the Women's Lubrication Movement" (rather than Liberation)

Ah to be included in the esteemed company of Archie Bunker! Praise indeed! (I'm laughing)...

not to mention fellow members of the Women's Lubrication movement...

An uncommon bunch to be sure! I hope I'm worthy of the honor..

supremely or, to quote a malaprop, slipperbly...

Marlon's Resume: - It seems he is very pleased and all I had to do was tone it down by changing "World renowned" to "Internationally acclaimed"

(hahahahahaha) self delusion wins every time!

Nice Tracks: Not sure if I already sent these:

Carole King - In the name of love

No you hadn't..I love her. Natural Woman was a huge fave with us women's lubricators ya know...or wimmins lubes as some call us..

I have followed this group for years! I guess I missed this years NO Pants Subway tour. If you ever need a chuckle or even a belly laugh check out their website. My favorite is King Philip of Spain giving out autographs next to his portrait in the Met Museum.

Richmond -- We should plan a trip down there in the summer. It needn't be a big deal, we could rent a car to get down there and stay a couple of nights. Richmond is a nice city and there are some great places to visit in the surrounding area. We could fit a lot in between a Monday and a Friday. How's that for a bit of long-term planning?

Sounds good to me. I do own a car you know..although it might not be up for a "long haul" that. I've never been to Richmond.

I know you own a car (and you might even own a better car by the summer) but sometimes rentals can be as cheap as $30 a day and for the peace of mind and to be putting the wear and tear on someone else's vehicle might be a wise course. In any case it removes a possible mental obstacle. I've been down there a couple of times and can vouch for it being a nice place for us to go...Anyway, there's something to think about while you are making that gloomy commute: "Once upon a morning dreary, while I ponder, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, I think of Richmond more, and the fun we''ll have as never before..."

you're a poet! I never knew!

OK, let's try a Haihu: Monday morning dreary Richmond love beckons Tuesday gleams does indeed look better today. You are a better poet then I.

Sorry, I meant a Haiku. The H and K are too close together... Is your day going better than yesterday? Having nice thoughts? N He IS She IS They BE In the Moment by P. Neil Ralley, 2013

Don't worry, as my friend Ellen says, "I meant what you knew." I'm just impressed by your doing it!...and yes, today is going by much injured deer and the sun is sort of out. They're saying 3 inches of snow possibility of a snow day or at least a delay might be in the works. I could use the snow day to write reports so I'm hoping....

hi Neil, Another day down ..I can't believe I'm hoping for a "snow day" so soon but IAM! Do you keep getting annoying junk from OKC? They just sent me some crazy thing they're trying where you agree to go out with someone as a "blind date". You can't see a photo of the person...that ought to be really successful. You wonder who's in charge of their marketing..adolescent boys...or what..Fortunately we don't have to worry about that one anymore (lol). How was your day? I'm gathering up student work etc. "just in case" I'm home tomorrow..I'm packing up to leave so I'll be in touch later.

.Thinking about going to Richmond (or anywhere with you) is a very nice thought. Traveling for me was always a little anxiety causing mainly because I didn't know what I was doing half the time...and I was the one expected to figure it all out! ( you learn as you go right?) It would be great to travel with someone who actually knows how to do it..I might even enjoy the experience for a change.. -S

You will...probably more than you could ever imagine.

Not sure if I have been wasting or investing time today, only time will tell. Mass appeal is sadly not a given but I think that you will like the results. See below and don't forget to click on the link. Will be stuck in the cottage tomorrow, at least in the morning, as some people from the parks dept are coming to plan some finishing jobs left over from the renovations. I have not had the OKC invitation that you did - perhaps they realised that I wouldn't buy into the idea of a blind date (so what makes you special??) but maybe it's because I'm signed out and you are not...who knows?...who cares? Visit Cafepress for the complete Haiku Love Poem Valentines Day Collection

I like it. Hopefully it will emerge and take precedence on Cafe! It's not too long until V-day so let's hope early shoppers find it! Is the tag Haiku etc. or Valentine's Day haiku? Would putting the holiday first make it show up in that particular search easier? I can't think too many people would be looking for haiku as a keyword for valentines' day gifts???or am I completely mixed up about this?...even "rose poem" seems like a better search title? (by the way I was able to finally sign off OKC myself today so hopefully I won't receive any more silly invitations from the website either)

I'm waiting for the snow to come....holding my breath won't help...on the other hand the weekend is supposed to be sunny and great so what's to complain about! I bought you some expresso coffee from a Coffee Roasting Co. in Kingston. We'll see if it tempts your tastebuds! I like their regular coffee so am expecting this to be Ok. The co. is called Monkey Joe's.

I'm sorry. I can be really "stounade" (I have no idea how to spell it but it's Calabraise italian for" out of it") I know that any words you put in the description can initiate a search, the order doesn't matter. I do listen, it's just sometimes my brain doesn't register right away...