Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Salty Master Salt

Ever heard the expression: "To sit above the salt?"

Back in the day, sitting "above the salt" meant you were sitting in an honored position between the host and the master salt.

This most important container, as salt was hard to obtain and very expensive, was placed in the center of the long dining table. Some "Master Salt" containers were, in very fancy households, sterling silver  outside with a cobalt bowl, and sterling silver feet like a bathtub. Salt is corrosive to silver, so explains the cobalt bowl.

The Host as the head of the table and family, always sat at the head of the table. As per tradition, the Guest of Honor was always placed to the right of the host.

So, if you were between the host at the head of the table and the master salt in the center of the table, you were "above the salt!"


Monday, November 13, 2017

A Tale in 12 Tweets - Dead Eyes Open Don't Close

1. Mom said: "Even after a long illness, when you think you are ready, you're not ready."

2. Rushing into the hospital room, my feet stopped at the foot of the bed. I was Silent. Stoic. Stunned.
I heard my Step-Mother's voice: "He just passed. He was waiting for you."

3. I had never seen someone deceased before. I was 32. My Parents always said funerals were for adults. I figured I'd better show a stiff upper lip.

4. Dazed & now looking around the room for the 1st time, I saw a sea of step-cousins standing around Dad's bed. What were they all doing here, I thought?

5. Oh. A Catholic vigil. But, Dad was raised Episcopalian. Later on in life he said he was an Atheist. Don't know if he would have liked that Vigil.

6. So, there I quietly stood. The daughter who did everything I was expected to do. The "good egg" as my Dad often said. Why didn't anyone call me? I would have left work earlier for the vigil. Then again, it would have devastated me.

7. Perusing my dear Dad's face, I wanted to put my head on his chest, or some such sign of affection, but I could sense someone behind me.

8. So, I had the idea to close my Father's eyes. I'd seen it in the movies a million times.

9. Broken hearted, I reached out and tried to close my Dad's eyes, but they bounced back open. Three times. Oh no. What is going on?

10. Suddenly, I heard laughter. "They don't work that way. That's only in the movies. The muscles stay the way the are when people die."

11. Oh, I thought. So, that's that. Here I stand, a bit humiliated. Definitely devastated. My life has changed forever and I'm to much of a dork to know the eyelids don't close, and why has Hollywood shown this final act of kindness for years if it's fake, I thought?

12. Poor Dad. My deceased Daddy with his eyes open. Well, I thought, the Funeral Home will take care of things, and they did. They had him looking like I remembered. Handsome and dignified.
He would have liked that.


Friday, September 22, 2017

A Tale in 12 Tweets - I stayed at The Harvard Club & they thought I was smart, the passers-by.

A Tale in 12 Tweets

1. I stayed at The Harvard Club & they thought I was smart. Like a member of an exclusive club, I was treated differently by staff & passers-by. Respect. Plus, everyone says "Hello!"

2. Growing up ADHD in the 1960's, I was scolded by my Father in 1st Grade for being in the lowest reading group. No one understood ADHD or panic disorders.

3. My private girls' school wanted to put me on Ritalin, but my Mother said a definite "No!" She told me it was very important for me to pay attention in class & sit still like the other girls.

4. I wanted so much to be like the other girls. Not to be teased. Not to be thought of as quirky. So, I concentrated on consistently trying harder than anyone else.

5. I learned to try and anticipate the next challenge at school and at home. To anticipate a person's next need by giving. To help my Mother with chores without being asked.

6. A classmate on the playground is setting me up for a joke or a back stab, then humiliation. Our house needs dusting, painting, spackling paste, wallpaper, yard work.

7. After a few years, I became the glue. The bond trying to hold together my studies and family. After my best & only friend in 4th Grade moved away, I stopped talking.

8. My mother took me to a child psychologist. I thought I was stupid & cried during the test. The result was "average bright" but my Mother placed me in a different school the next year instead of having everyone know I had flunked 5th Grade, including me!

9. My new school was Co-ed. Got picked on just the same, but excelled academically. Excelled in sports. Long distance running. What a joy! Who knew!

10. As a child, then teenager, finding what you excel in, is so important. You start off excelling in 1 area, and end up also excelling in other areas. Confidence.

11. All in all, growing up in a poor Glass Castle type house taught me resourcefulness, and anticipating the customer's next need before they know they need it. They don't teach this at Harvard. No school can teach resourcefulness.

12. Parents strive to get their kids into Harvard so their kids may learn self-direction, resourcefulness & so their kids may have respect from others. Can't be taught, but they'll think you went to Harvard anyway, the passers-by.  

See this story on Twitter @kbsquared1961, Kathy Barrett Baker


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Tale in 12 Tweets - I am born.

A Tale in 12 Tweets - I am born, and yet, I am not supposed to be here.

1) Not supposed 2 be here. Born in 1961 at 27 weeks.Weighed 3 lbs. Dropped to 1 lb.,7 oz.
10% chance of living. Baptized the hour I was born.

2) Jaundiced. Rib cages not connected. In an incubator 4 3 mos. Mom, who was so brave & in labor 4 24 hrs., my head the size of a tomato. Feet ended at her elbow.

3) Experimentally, it was thought in order 4 incubated baby 2 avoid eye problems, oxygen was 2 B turned off until baby turns blue, then back on.

4) Mom, artistic in spirit & emotional about this most traumatic birth, would not visit me in the hospital. She thought I was going to die.

5) Dad visited me daily to & from work. He'd ask the Dr. each visit if he could buy baby furniture. Every day, the Doc answered a quiet "No."

6) 6 weeks later, finally, the answer was a reserved "Yes" from the Doc. Dad said this was the happiest day of his life. Mom was still scared.

7) 6 weeks more w/ 1 of 2 preemie baby Drs. in the Country & had no further health issues, & was able to go home! Wish I could meet that Dr. and thank him!

8) Colicky and allergic 2 eggs, now 3 mos. old & 6 lbs., I cried all the time. Mom was scared of me. She still thought I was not going to survive.        

9) Traditional baby photos on the bear skin rug at 9 months old were happy, but I was a skinny baby. It took me 2 years to grow into my age.

10) Later on, my parents went thru bankruptcy & divorce, but they each agreed my difficult birth was the worst thing ever to happen to them.

11) Mom & Dad spoke of my early birth throughout my childhood, but didn't tell me the details until I was 18. My eyes welled up with tears.

12) Medical sciences advance, but the miracle of childbirth is no guarantee. God has his plan. Babies are the most precious gift to parents.

A Tale in 12 Tweets is also on Twitter @kbsquared1961


Thursday, May 19, 2016

It's 5:00 Somewhere! Have your Cocktail Glass?

It's 5:00 p.m. Somewhere :)
For all above age 21, above is an example of a crystal Cocktail Glass, just to make your drink taste better!
The "Cocktail" before dinner is an American born custom, which came into style shortly after WWI.
Be careful, however, don't drink too many before dinner or you'll be sloshed and end up dancing a jig in front of a crowd at a formal party, just like the character Mosley on Downton Abbey! Cheers!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Be kind. Do well. Leave things better than you found them.

Every day. Everywhere You go, try to be kind. Try to do the best You can do. Try to leave things better than You found them. Not just at Christmastime, every day. Kindness goes a long way. Kindness relaxes a worried soul. Kindness heals a heart. Kindness rebalances the soul. Pause, look, listen & breathe out, and be kind every day. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Benedict Cumberbatch's Hamlet is Elegant yet Manically Energetic and Star Stunningly Brilliant!

We are all coal dust in the end, so we may as well enjoy life before it all goes to Hell and we kick the bucket full of coal. If there's any way y'all can catch female Director Lyndsey Turner's production of Hamlet at The Barbican, or soon to be in movie theaters world wide, do so!

Simply put, Benedict Cumberbatch is the Mick Jagger of actors. His indefatigable portrayal of Hamlet is magnanimously manic, amiable, delightfully funny with dignity, yet mercurial, morose and cruel. His strong diction is clear and as an added perk, the sonorous tonal quality of his voice is a God given gift. He is hard working, beautifully educated and infinitely experienced in theatre, but here's the difference that separates the 95% famous from the 5% infamous: Benedict Cumberbatch absolutely loves being up on that stage and adores his audience, just as Mick Jagger does, and this unspoken, unwritten charismatic quality, coupled with his immense talent, is the sugar fondant icing on the cake. It's the genius of the draw. It's the "Sprezzatura" we are all chasing in our own lives, right in front of us, on stage. We, the audience, are drawn in to Cumberbatch's natural ease of manner in and of the mere moment, we are drawn into his tornado of energy. Drawn into his soul he slams on the stage floor, in front of us, as the noble yet tortured Hamlet.

The second character in this Herculean production of Hamlet, is the old 'Grand Dame' mansion of a set. This antiquated, mildew colored green, generational "Plantation House" of Hamlet's family, stands silent and grandiose, and like a ghost, encompasses the entire stage and permeates the story throughout the play, symbolizing the external and internal disintegration of this outdated monarchical system, society and family.

The famous cast includes the wise and distinguished Karl Johnson, as the dignified ghost of Hamlet's Father, who, covered in grave dust, achingly warns young Hamlet of the sheer evil found in some families.

The commanding Ciaran Hinds is the former King's sociopathic, stern brother, Claudius, who has no conscience, and seeks out revenge at any cost, including an eternal existence in Hell.

Anastasia Hille pleasantly pleases us as a regal and gorgeous Gertrude, quaffed and elegant in 'Grace Kelly' fashion, just trying to survive in a man's world.

Jim Norton plays Polonius as the kindly Professor type, with love and hope for his daughter, and the unwavering, however unfortunate loyalty to the office of 'King'.

Surprising Sian Brooke as Ophelia was a treat to watch. She played Ophelia first as extremely virginal and timid, stayed and even a bit hard to hear at times. However, once driven mad, Ophelia's ticks and twerks were visible and audible as crazier than a rat in the out house. Great!!

Leo Bill as Horatio although nicely acted and animated, was very hard to hear and hard to understand, as he stood slouching over with his backpack, and was always standing askew to the audience.

Rudi Dharmalingam was delightful to watch on stage as a happy Guildenstern, and I hope we may be seeing more of this young, promising actor lit up with a wonderful stage presence.

Lastly but not least, Kobna Holbrook-Smith was a strong physical and metaphysical force as Laertes. Wow!

The costumes were partly period, sometimes modern hoodie, but always the actors wearing the clothes, never visa versa.

The melancholy, yet classic Cole Porter music enlightened and lightened the mood of the scenes, and the motion and choreography of the actors' movement was fluid and lovely, although the action on stage was mostly skewed stage right with its balcony and staircase.

The Dining Room table and chandelier were some of the favorite props, gorgeous in a decaying 'Land of the Landed Gentry' kind-of way, with dead animal 12 point deer antlers strewn all over the table top, and the fire of lit candles lining it's length. How else would any declining family dinner be complete without at least one family member vaulting themselves onto the top of the table, standing tall and pontificating during dinner.

The entire 3+ hour production went by in a flash. Although the Acts were very nicely timed, the one criticism many women have is the "only 20 minute intermission." A bit of an anxious rush for we girls. Not even time for a cocktail.

So, before we are all to be turned into coal dust, climb over the coal mounds, into Hamlet's world, where you can be very comfortably in your seat, and be entertained underneath and around the stars, in the grand style of thrilling live theatre, (or live streamed theatre), the stuff super stars are made of, from coal dust.