Monday, January 18, 2010

GG and Some Gaps

The great grandparents naming game is half complete.

Finley & Co. made their way down to White Plains from the Boston area over the weekend, allowing his proud paternal grandparents to show him off. He cooperated by mostly sleeping or looking around interested. We didn’t hear a peep from him all night after he went to bed, though his parents assured us he did wake up several times. But we and our friends and relatives experienced no tantrums or uncontrollable crying spells during his two days in New York. The few times he did cry he was comforted by the sounds of Broadway musicals sung by those who held him. He finds Guys and Dolls particularly engaging, especially the A Bushel and a Peck song.

For more details on Finley’s maiden trip to New York, visit

During Finley’s too-short time spent with us, we seemed to have reached a consensus on what he will call his grandmother—it will be GG, pronounced Gee-Gee, not the French way, Gigi. In case you haven’t figured it out, GG stands for Grandma Gilda. Since my nephew-in-law Matt once worked for Ford, I told him I’ll pass on being called GM. So I’m still without a grandparent name.

The car reference is a good transition to the subject of baby conveyances. It’s been 31 years since GG and I had to buy a stroller. Sticker shock! “Acceptable” strollers seem to begin at the $250 price point and can zoom up to $1,000, if you get the model that automatically wipes the kid’s tush if he has an accident (just kidding, about the cleaning feature, not the price).

When we were new parents in 1978, the Cadillac of strollers came from Perego. I can’t recall what it cost, but it was way beyond our budget. We opted for the Model T version—a basic umbrella stroller. It was lightweight, folded easily and for $14.99 could not be beat for practicality, price and convenience. Some of our friends cautioned that if Danny, as he was known back then, fell asleep in the stroller his spine would be ruined for life by being bent over for too long a period. We threw caution to the wind. Doesn’t seem to have affected Dan or Ellie.

Dan and Allison haven’t finalized their stroller choice, though it’s sure to be a vehicle more suitable to off the road and jogging routines.

Generation Gap: If you’ve taken the opportunity to link to the Finding Finley blog mentioned above, you’ll have come across the following sentence near the bottom of the post:

"He looked pretty dope in his grizzly bear hoodie, don't you think?"

As a former editor I thought I caught a mistake in the copy. After all, what mother would suggest that her son looked like a “dope?” And if she was making that suggestion, the correct usage would be “dopey.”

Turns out I was out of touch with modern expressions. “DOPE is hip terminology for great, sweet etc.,” Allison advised.

Who knew? I’m so embarrassed!

Global Warming Gap: “Why don’t you just raise the heat if you’re cold,” Gilda admonished me last week after I wrote about being a prisoner of the second floor (

Projecting an image of being too destitute, or cheap, to heat the house sufficiently to be comfortable didn’t sit too well with my wife.

But that’s only part of the problem last week’s post uncovered. Now I’m beginning to wonder if during our forthcoming trip to Los Angeles it will be a warm haven. Sure, unless the earth shifts its axis, LA should be warmer than New York in February. But comfort and warmth are also psychological effects. If it’s not as warm as expected, chills might tingle down my spine.

What makes me start to quake in wonder? This note from my sister:

“Your blog was very reassuring we do heat the house.......however, even though the system is new, 6 years old, LA homes are poorly ventilated and the heat escapes and the cold lingers. It is hard to find a warm, yummy place to sit and read, except the bathroom where you can put on the electric heater and then it is toasty warm. People do wonder about your absence,, bring lots of layers. We in LA think layers are the “in” thing. We all suffer from the same lousy insulation and ventilation issues regardless of the size of your paycheck.”

Bring lots of layers!!!!!! That’s what I’m supposed to be escaping. Now I don’t know whether I should pack socks or not!?!

Lee wasn’t the only one who responded to the cold. A friend, who shall remain nameless so I don’t embarrass her, said, “Murray, I too am imprisoned by the thermostat. I set it at 65 for the days whether I'm here or not! I like to keep the heating bills (ridiculously high despite my efforts) low. We bought a wood burning stove 15 years ago and if the outside temp dips below 25 I use it. I've found a wonderful use for the blankets my mother knit years ago!”

In our first house we used to heat a good 70% of the time with a wood burning stove inserted into the living room fireplace. At least half of the six cords of wood burned every winter I would gather and cut myself. I was a real lumberjack in those days, riding around in my Vega keeping one eye on the road and the other on the roadside looking for downed tree limbs. If I saw one of sufficient size, I’d pull over, take out my chain saw and lickety-split cut the pieces into 20-inch sections just right for our stove. Pieces too wide to easily catch fire I’d chop in the back yard. It was year-round work.

When we moved to our current home 26 years ago, we inherited a smaller wood burning stove in the den, a location not conducive to heating the whole house. Even though we replaced it with a more efficient and aesthetically pleasing stove, I lost interest in logging. The stove has been useful during the occasional oil burner failure, but for the most part it sits like most home exercise equipment, a visual reminder of activity long discontinued.

Gender Gap: Historically, men and women who live together have an ongoing battle. It’s a delicate subject, so I won’t spell it out in detail here. But those savvy enough to know what I’m referring to will understand. It’s a question of “up or down.”

For all of our married life, Gilda and I have lived in a “down” environment. A few weeks ago we suddenly and inexplicably started to experience a few “up” moments. No matter how often a return to the down cycle is requested, up times keep intruding on our tranquility.

Perhaps this public disclosure will prod us back into normalcy.

Fan Gap: Now I know how Mets fans feel. They couldn’t stand it when the Yankees won the World Series. It hasn’t happened yet, but the prospect of a Jets Super Bowl victory has this Giants fan cringing. I do admire the grit displayed by the Jets. It’s like old time Giants football—a staunch defense backing up a power running game and an opportunistic offense. But I’m too selfish a fan to see any joy in the Jets advancing while memories linger of the Giants discombobulating over the last 10 weeks of the season.