Apr 20, 2012

Vibrating Hairbrush

Frances Marie Etzbach

As much as my father endeavoured to color inside the lines, his sister Frances sought to go past the edges of the lines, living a most unusual life.

A first generation American, Fran grew up in Winnetka, Illinois, attending New Trier and graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Illinois.  After University, Fran went to work at Women’s Wear Daily, eventually becoming office manager and secretary to the boss.  She retired at 65, sold the home she had lived in since her birth, and moved to California to one of those “sunny” retirement communities.  High achievement was her calling card:  she hated being retired.She joined the Peace Corps and went to Yemen, wore a Burka, and taught office skills to young women for two years.  My father worried about her and sent her the New York Times Sunday crossword, on which he would make a few mistakes— claiming he was sending it because he  couldn’t finish it.  Fran always believed him; it never occurred to her that her older brother could do a crossword puzzle.  From The New York Times no less.

She left the Peace Corps and went to work for Save the Children until she was in her late eighties.

She spent her final years in a rent controlled apartment in Dallas, where I visited her and met her Dream  Group. They ate barbecue and took apart her dream of making a basket (basketball basket) at her childhood home on Elder Lane.

She was enamoured of  “backward speech,” known by its proper name “reverse speech” by its founder David Oates.   On his website, Oates tells us that he has been compared(or has compared himself) to Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and Nicholas Tesla.  I am quite sure that he reaped financial benefits as a result of Fran’s admiration.  She  encouraged me to send her my writing which she would have recorded backwards to see what I really meant to say.

She invested early in soy beans (we all thought she was crazy) and gold.  She had in her possession a vibrating hairbrush which emitted a purple light.   As far as we know, she lived alone all her life except for a brief marriage to a guy who turned out to be a lout.  Growing up, we were positive she was an old maid.

Among her certain fears was Y2K.   Fran secured a place in the mountains and took refuge until the technocrats  gave the world the all clear.

Finally she had to move to a care facility where she spent her anger on the nurses, threatened to jump out the window and only took pleasure in visits from my cousin Doug, who helped her with her finances.  She loved him especially because he was tall and thin.

One day she decided she had had enough, and she was gone.




Apr 17, 2012

Romney’s Good Deeds Will Secure Planet, Not Presidency

Totally Spontaneous! courtesy: mittromneycentral

Now comes a book about Romney’s good deeds, which he “doesn’t talk about.”  EVIDENTLY NOT.  It is in an f–ing book.

From the TV promos, it appears that the book is about how Romney helps white men who are fellow Mormons.  Securing his postmortem planet.

One guy talked about how Romney showed up with his sons to dig a stump out of his yard.  “There were no press there” said the grateful Mormon, whose house had burned to the ground.  BUT THERE WERE CAMERAS!  How can people believe that Romney took time out of his campaign to go to some guy’s house he didn’t know, and dig up his stump?  Maybe because Romney has been on the stump for so long he misunderstood what his son was asking him to do.  Wild man with a chainsaw.

It is heartening to know, however, that if he does win the Presidency, Ann will fire all the help and clean the White House herself and Romney will dash off periodically to do yardwork at some Mormon’s house.  God bless us, everyone!

Apr 13, 2012

In Vodka Veritas

“You actually thought I liked it?!”

A few weeks ago we resurrected the Shabu Shabu pot and small gas burner we got at Marukai, “the Japanese store.”   Ian and I had gone to Marukai and we bought all the fixings, including an “uncondensed special broth” that was being sampled when we were there.  We made Shabu Shabu that night and everyone found it delicious (or so they said at the time).

Yesterday, I decided we should have shabu shabu again, because it is a healthy meal, not fattening, and everyone loved it (or so I thought).  Not having the “special uncondensed broth,”  I haphazardly made a broth with vegetable, beef and chicken broth, some freeze-dried Japanese soup, a bit of soy sauce and some of my son’s homemade “Kabayaki” sauce.   It was serviceable.  Upon hearing of my concoction, Ian declined to join us, and Mark and I sat down to have dinner by ourselves.

Mark said it was delicious, even remarking that we should save the broth and make soup the next day, noting that he would not be here.  As is tradition, Mark had a “gargle blaster” with dinner.  Later, when he was falling asleep, I said that we should make sure to buy lots of shabu shabu beef at Marukai and freeze it. (Marukai’s shabu shabu beef is prime beef, perfectly sliced).

Mark said “I don’t think so.” Me:  “What do you mean?”  Mark:  “It’s very bland.”  Me: “I thought you liked it.”   Mark: “No, not very much.”

Apr 13, 2012

But Did She Have Help?

“All by myself…

We already know that her husband employed a yard service that employed illegal immigrants.  “I had to fire them.  I am running for President.”  We know they have several homes and she drives two Cadillacs.

Isn’t possible that she hired help as she chose to stay home to raise her children?

We were nowhere as rich as the Romneys, but my sisters were raised by a Governess, as was my mother, as was her father.  When I was growing up, my brother and I had a baby “nurse,” and our household employed a handyman/yard man, a laundress/housekeeper and a cook.  Like Ann Romney, my Mother chose to be a stay-at-home mom.

Her kids appear to be perfectly nice, she is likewise nice and Willard is the perfect patrician go-to-work Dad.

So the “I don’t bake cookies” versus stay-at-home Moms is back in play.  Get over it, everyone.  Ann Romney “stayed home,”  and she probably had help.  This could make her the head of a small business.

Personally, I think Willard  should pick his own fights and not hide behind his wife’s skirts.

Gloria. Circa 1955.

Gloria. Circa 2012.

Other than working for the American Red Cross in Korea for two years, Gloria Garvey has lived in Hawai`i since 1971. Her opinion and other writing has appeared in: The American Philatelist. Honolulu Weekly, The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Star Advertiser, Hawai`i Reporter, Pacific Business News, Island Scene, The Design Management Journal.

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