Leaves of Grass – A Special Edition

A rare find – Signed copy of Leaves of Grass

Long Island Past and Present

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While looking for something to read next, I came across a signed copy of “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman published by David McKay (Copyright 1900). On the front matter, there is a picture of him with a handwritten note on the bottom “David McKay from his friend Walt Whitman”.

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I browsed through the book and a page was earmarked and there was the poem “O Captain! My Captain!”, one of the favorite poems of our class in Literature in high school. I didn’t know who Walt Whitman was at that time. I was thirteen and English was not my favorite subject. For me I like Math the best. I had no idea why the class loved the poem so much except for the fact that our English teacher, Mrs. Brual, read it to us with so much emotion that we began to like it. She was the principal of…

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Salute to the Women in Uniform

Pacific Paratrooper

American women played important roles during World War II, both at home and in uniform. Not only did they give their sons, husbands, fathers, and brothers to the war effort, they gave their time, energy, and some even gave their lives.

The utilization of women in an organization such as the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) offered a “golden opportunity” to solve manpower shortages. So recognizable was the opportunity that Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall himself told the War Department in November 1941, “I want a women’s corps right away, and I don’t want any excuses!” Urgent wartime demands necessitated the use of all able, willing citizens, regardless of gender. In recruiting women, the Army assured them that they would be doing “unusual and exciting work” and that their service “in making available technically trained men for combat service will be of great value in winning the war.”

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Constance Spry – The Rose and The Mother of Floral Design

Constance Spry

Constance Spry, introduced in 1961, is one of the first English Roses hybridized by David Austin and its success contributed to the founding of the English Roses. David Austin Roses is a flower arranger’s dream. They can be used to make wonderful floral arrangements either on their own or with other plant materials. With its voluptuous blossoms and dainty habit, you can duplicate the beauty and charm of an Old Dutch floral painting. 

Constance Spry Climber by DARPhoto Credit – David Austin Roses

Constance Spry can grow to a height of 6-12 ft. with a width of 6-8 ft. or 10 to 18 ft. as a climber. Bloom size is 3” with a petal count of 80+. It has a lovely pink color and very fragrant. The only drawback is it only flowers once in the spring but it blooms profusely.

 

Constance Spry by Flower Magazine
Photo Credit – Flower Magazine

Who is Constance Spry?

Constance Spry is the mother of modern floral design. She would have loved to use David Austin Roses for her floral arrangements. After World War 1, she changed the formal, rigid composition of floral design with unconventional pastoral compositions; flowers arranged asymmetrically with assorted shapes of foliage in various types of containers. She used all kinds of wildflowers, grasses, pods or practically anything the Victorian ladies shunned. Her style was full of drama and a refreshing reprieve from the more stiff floral design of her contemporaries.

Constance Spry PinterestPhoto Credit – Pinterest

Connie, as she was known to her friends, was born in Derby, England, in 1886 and raised in Ireland. She found refuge from her domineering mother in the gardens of her childhood, where she began to take note of what would become her favorites: old garden roses, lilac, mock orange, laurel, buddleia, and evening primrose, as well as grasses, weeds, and other typically overlooked plants and materials.

 

Though flowers and gardening would be her lifelong passions, under her father’s direction she began her early professional life as an educator and social reformer. Traveling by horse-drawn wagon through the Irish countryside, she became a proponent of healthy living, educating housewives on the benefits of fresh air and nutritious food as part of a “War on Consumption” campaign. After a disappointing marriage to a coal mine manager, she took her only son back to England to begin life anew. It was there she met and fell in love with Shav Spry, a colonial civil servant who would be her lifelong companion.

It wasn’t until the age of 41, that Spry’s amateur talents as a floral designer were noticed by an influential lunch companion, leading her to Norman Wilkinson, a theater designer whose encouragement would launch her meteoric design career. With a commission to do flowers for cinemas and a perfume shop, Spry took her unorthodox visions of gathered materials and artful references out of the homes of friends and into the public eye, where she was praised for displays that in an incredibly modern twist included leaves, berries, seed pods, wild clematis, and golden hops mixed with exotic orchids.

Suddenly this middle-aged woman found herself thrust into the social scene, befriending legendary decorator and fellow entrepreneur Syrie Maugham and an exuberant crowd of theatrical personalities and social luminaries. She became the florist of choice to London high society organizing the flowers for royal weddings. She designed the flowers for the Queen’s wedding and Coronation. Her books on flower arranging made her a household name.

Constance Spry Cookery Book by antique-atlas.com
Photo Credit – Antiques-Atlas.com

 

Besides being an influential floral artist, Constance Spry is the founder of the Cordon Bleu cooking school and an author of a bestselling cookbook bearing her name.

 

 

Until next time. Stop and smell the roses.

Rosalinda

When is the rain going to stop?

 

It’s been raining on and off everyday for too long. The ground is so soaked already. My roses are drowning.

This is the view in front of my townhouse everyday.

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This is what you can see through the window in back.

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Remember the nursery rhyme:

Rain. Rain. Go Away.

Come again another day.

Little children want to play.

 

I would like St. Swithun to send the rain to California. They need it there. We have enough rain here already.

Have you heard about St. Swithun? Who is he? What’s he got to do with rain?

St. Swithun is regarded as one of the saints to whom one should pray in the event of drought.

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St. Swithun – Photo Credit: Christianity.com

I remember years ago while I was in New York and it rained on July 15 and it kept on raining everyday till late August. We were having an Ice Cream Social at the end of August and I mentioned it to one of our guests who lived across the street. She must be well-read because she recited the poem right away. Not many people know about St. Swithun. She knew the legend about St. Swithun and the 40 days of rain. It says if it rains on St. Swithun’s day which is July 15, it will rain for 40 days.

We might be heading that way. I cannot remember the weather on July 15. Maybe it was raining. It has been raining everyday for quite sometime now. Where I live in Johns Island, it is like England’s weather. The sun will come up and then dark clouds move in all day long. The rain is so localized. It could be raining in front of my house but not in the back. It could be pouring on the lake but dry on the street. Weird.

Here is the English weather lore proverb about St. Swithun:

St Swithun’s day if thou dost rain

For forty days it will remain

St Swithun’s day if thou be fair

For forty days ’twill rain nae mare

 

A Buckinghamshire variation has

If on St Swithun’s day it really pours

You’re better off to stay indoors.

 

St. Swithun was an Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Winchester from his consecration in Oct. 853 until his death on July 2, 862 and subsequently patron saint of Winchester Cathedral. On his deathbed St. Swithun begged that he should be buried outside the north wall of his cathedral where passers-by should pass over his grave and raindrops from the eaves drop upon it. However, it was decided later to move his body to a new indoor shrine, and one theory traces the origin of the legend to a heavy shower by which, on the day of the move, the saint marked his displeasure towards those who were removing his remains.

According to Durham chroniclers, the legend was derived from the tremendous downpour of rain that occurred on St. Swithun’s Day, July 15, 1315.

 St. Swithun Roses

This is a rose hybridized by David Austin named in honor of St. Swithun.

Photo credit – David Austin Roses

 

Until next time. Stop and smell the roses.

Rosalinda

 

Nagpatong Rock Formation: The Two Towers

GALAEROS

Nagpatong Rock is now becoming popular to those mountain seekers both professionals and hiker-wanabes (like me). It is composed of two peaks facing each other which reminds me of the 2nd installment of the epic movie Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers.

(Photos on this post were taken January 29, 2017)

Located in a humble barrio of Barangay Cuyambay, Tanay, Rizal, this rock formation looks so perfect that entices you to reach it no matter what it takes. But mind you, these two towers of rock can be more tricky than you might think. So if you have a slightest doubt or having a second thought that you might fall, I suggest not to climb the summit.

Derived from its name, “Nagpatong” or “Patong” which means in Filipino a layer placed on top of the other (http://tagaloglang.com/patong/), the view of the rock formation from afar looks like…

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The Pink Slip, A Short Story

 
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I thought I’d start August with a great story. This is a true story that happened to me 30 years ago and was entered and won an award at the Writer’s Digest short story competition a few years ago. It was one of the most memorable experiences I had in my business career.

Somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind, I knew it would happen. It would just take time. The steam was slowly building and it was getting near its boiling point. When it received too much pressure constantly, eventually it would explode like an ancient volcano lying dormant for so long. I was not aware it would happen soon.

I parked my car in front of my office building. It was one of those muggy days in August 1988. The sun was shining brightly and as the wind shifted, I could smell the stench coming from the recycling plant a quarter mile away. It was giving me a headache already and it was only 9:15 in the morning. I was late already but that was not new. I never came to work on time. I usually got there at about 9:30 am. But I made it all up by staying late every night. Whether I came in early or not, I would stay late anyway so I decided to go late to avoid the traffic.

I got out of the car and picked up my briefcase which was full of worksheets I took home the night before. I had been working for three years then as a Controller in a company in Roslyn, a couple of miles from the historic town. In spite of my working late, I still took work home every single day. Work seemed to pile up. The faster I worked, the more work my boss gave me. I stayed late every night and worked weekends too yet my boss went home at 5 pm every night while I stayed late catching up on things I could not do during the day. I put in a 70-hour week all the time, working till 7 at night, sometime till 8 pm and a couple of time till 10 pm during the month-end closings. I also put in a day’s work on Saturday and half a day on Sunday. It was a grinding work schedule. My boss was constantly calling me into his office and we worked on schedules after schedules all the time. He kept thinking of making more schedules every day and of course more works for me. I did all the ledgers and the financials together with tons of supporting schedules and my boss reviewed my work before we released the financial statements every month. All these paper trails were wearing me down.

I barely made it to my office and the phone was ringing already. “Good Morning, how may I help you?” I answered. I knew it was Howard. He must have seen me walk in. His office was near the front door.

“Can you come to my office?” Howard would say.

“Sure. I’ll be right down,” I said.

I grabbed my yellow pad and my pencil and walked to Howard’s office which was three offices down the hall. All schedules had to be done in pencil. That’s what Howard wanted. I passed Gloria’s and Bob’s office. Gloria would wave her hand as I passed her open door. Bob would smile as I stepped into Howard’s office. They knew my day started already.

It would be like this all day, walking back and forth to Howard’s office. I got my exercise everyday just going to Howard’s office. It would be less than an hour and my phone would be ringing again and it was Howard again wanting me to go back to his office. Few times, he would just want to show me some new forms he made or how he arrived at some numbers. Politely I nodded and then would walk back into my office. I could not get much done with all these trips to his office all day.

I remembered one Christmas and we had an exchange gift. I had the most unusual present and it was from Gloria. She gave me a pair of small roller skates as a gag present. She said I needed them to go back and forth to Howard’s office. Everyone started laughing. They all knew how I spent my day.

I was so tired that day. It was a Friday and all week I was working like a dog and I must be so exhausted that day. It was not even 11 am and I had gone to Howard’s office three times already. He was giving me more work to do and telling me that I did not do what he wanted me to do the last time. I knew I did it right but he kept on nagging me. I must have been too tired but for the first time in my professional life, I stood up and yelled at him. I told him I did what he wanted me to do and I was tired of him giving me more work to do and he never appreciated what I did.

I stormed out of his office, walked past Bob’s and Gloria’s office in rage and banged my office door shut. I was furious. I was out of control. I called the Personnel’s Office and told Pat, “I need a new boss. I can’t take it anymore.” I’m sure Pat heard the commotion. Her office was next door to Howard.

I started crying and could not stop. I was in hysterics. What had gotten into me? I did not know. All I could think was I was fed up. I could not stand his nagging anymore.

A few minutes later, I heard a soft knock at my door. I heard Jerry’s voice, “May I come in?” Jerry was the Vice Chairman of the company. His office was across the hall from mine. I was sure he heard me bang my door shut. I got up and opened the door. Jerry walked in and locked the door. He was a towering figure, a six and a half foot man and everyone was afraid of him. I was not. I knew he liked me. Pat said so because he knew I worked my tail off. He was always my mentor.

“What happened?” Jerry asked.

I stood there by the door. I could not speak. I started crying again. I felt like a child and could not stop crying. Jerry put his arms around me and tried to calm me down. I finally did. I went around and sat at my desk and he sat at the chair across my desk. I tried to compose myself. I told him what happened. He had to be told. Whether I was wrong or not, I probably was wrong acting the way I did, but I could not help myself. I did not know what got into me to act that way.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I should not have done that. It was unprofessional the way I acted. I’ve never done that kind of thing before.”

“I understand. It’s all right,” Jerry said.

“I’m really sorry I lost my temper. I promise I won’t do it again.”

“I know he is difficult. I’ll talk to him. Don’t worry about it,” Jerry said and left.

I locked the door as soon as he left. I didn’t want to see anyone. A few minutes later, I heard another knock.

“It’s me. Pat.” I heard from the other side of the door.

I got up from my desk and opened the door. Pat, our Personnel Manager, walked in. “Sorry to hear about that,” she said.

“I should be the one to say I’m sorry,” I said.

“No. Jerry came to see me. He and Bert will talk to Howard,” she said. Bert was the Chairman of the Board.

“I really want another boss. I can’t take this thing anymore. You know I work hard here. Probably more than anyone else but he does not seem to appreciate it. I’ve had it with Howard.”

“I know you work hard. Everybody knows,” Pat said.

“He was impossible. But I don’t know why I acted so badly.”

“You must be so stressed out.”

“Maybe,” I said lamely.

“Why don’t you and I go out to lunch?” Pat suggested.

“No, I can’t. Not in my condition. I’ll work through lunch. I want to be alone.”

 She left and I turned on my computer. I hadn’t turned it on all morning since I had been going back and forth to Howard’s office.

It was almost noontime. I grabbed my brown bag although I didn’t feel like eating. I couldn’t seem to stop crying. I couldn’t concentrate on my work. I took a few bites from my sandwich. Finally I calmed down. I started to do my work. No one seemed to bother me now. I had no idea what was going on outside my office. My door was locked. I didn’t want to see any one.

By 2 pm, my phone rang. I barely said hello and heard Mike, the President, on the other end of the line. “Would you come to my office please?” Just like that.

I said, “Sure, I’ll be right over.”

I powdered my nose and looked at my compact mirror making sure my eyes were not swollen. They were a little red but I composed myself. I opened my office door and walked through the corridor to the right passing all the offices. Howard’s office was closed. I went straight to the corner office where the President’s office was. I knocked lightly on the door.

I heard him say, “Come in.” I walked and tried to smile. He motioned for me to sit. There were two chairs in front of his desk. I sat down on one on the right next to the wall.

I sat solemnly and waited. He said, “I heard about you and Howard.”

I tried to apologize. “I’m very sorry. I didn’t mean to get so upset. I don’t know what happened?” I was on the verge of tears but I controlled myself.

He looked at me and said, “We know you work very hard and we also know Howard. Thanks for being such a good sport.”

I tried to smile. “It’s okay. It’s part of the job.” I shrugged. I was waiting for him to tell me I’m fired. I waited.

He opened his drawer. I was very nervous. I saw he pulled an envelope. I saw something pink. My heart sank. I knew this must be it.

He handed me the envelope after taking out a pink note. I stared at it. My hand was shaking. I knew I was getting fired and this was the formal letter. I looked at him.

He said smiling, “Open it.” I opened the envelope. My eyes popped out. I saw a check. I looked at it and at him in disbelief.

“We want you to know we do appreciate your hard work. Bert and Jerry talked to me. It’s the least we can do. We want you to stay.” They probably thought I would quit which really crossed my mind. They also knew it was hard to replace me at that point because I did most of the work in my department.

I was looking at the envelope and said, “You don’t have to do this. Dealing with Howard was part of the job. Although I would rather have a new boss.”

“We know. We’ll talk to Howard and hope things will be different from now on. You can put that in Miscellaneous Expense.”

He got up from his chair and I knew the meeting was over. I stood and shook his hand and said, “Thank you.”

I went to my office and closed the door. I called my husband and told him the story. Then he asked if I was fired.

I said, “No! I got a bonus instead.”

“What bonus?” he asked.

“A check for a thousand dollars.”

He said, “Whoa! You have to do this more often.”

In a few months, I got what I wanted. They hired Kevin, our new Chief Financial Officer and Howard was out.

 

 

Until Next time. Stop and Smell the Roses.

Rosalinda