Ye Olde Grinding Shop

July 10th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor

This morning the singular sound of a bell was heard proceeding slowly up the street towards the house. DING! (pause…. ) DING! (pause….) DING! I first laid eyes on the source of this attention getter years ago during our first summer or so after moving into our new home. The sound recalled childhood days of my old neighborhood but I couldn’t quite place my finger on what produced this distinctive tone. Images emerged of the old street vendors back in the 1950’s; the tiny marketplace of the fruit and vegetable man, although mobile, was more or less stationary once he wheeled it into place. But there was something else from that era that escaped me.  Upon hearing this sound again after all those years, I ran to peer out of the upstairs window. Having just awoken, I felt I might still be in dream state. What appeared was an old red truck from the 1940’s or 50’s. On it were the words “The Grinding Shop.” It was “the scissor man” as we kids referred to him back then but he sharpened all sorts of blades and tools, household and gardening implements. Apron clad mothers would rush out of doors with their scissors and kitchen knives to be newly sharpened. For those of you who grew up in the suburbs during this time, this was a blast from the past. Or was it a ghostly vehicle making its rounds? Was I stuck in some sort of time warp? DING! (pause….) DING! (pause….) And it was gone.
Over the years, this sound has been heard each summer. And each time I rush to the window to wonder and watch, immersing myself in a flood of memories. Today would be different. I would STOP the scissor man just to assure myself he was real. The old red truck crept slowly towards the house. Quickly – think! What did I have that could use sharpening? Scissors? No. Knives? No – too sharp. I envisioned a weekend lost at the emergency room having severed an index finger. I’ve got it! Pruning shears! (Remember last week’s ordeal? My frenzy dulled the blade down to a mere blunt so that now it couldn’t cut a wisp of grass). I motioned at the door for the scissor man to stop and ran out back to the shed to grab the sheers. Careening out the front door I made for the truck. “Take your time”, the scissor man spoke in a familiar old neighborhood accent. He was clean cut and shaven. Friendly. So why was I disappointed? What was I expecting? Of course he was real but I half expected to see an old timer with a handlebar moustache – a relic from a bygone era. He was just a normal guy.
I handed him the shears without asking the price. “These will be $9.00”, he said. “Wow”, I thought to myself. Certainly not 1950’s prices but I couldn’t back out now after flagging him down and making him wait. “Okay”, I said with a smile. After all, it’s the novelty of the thing, of getting my pruning shears sharpened by the scissor man, how cool is that? He buffed the blades on a wheel, stopped to oil them, then walked over to another gadget to straighten out the blades. He adjusted the screw connecting the blades, opened and closed them several times to ensure easy usage. Then he walked over to another wheel to sharpen the blades. I watched as the sparks flew. Finally he handed over the $9.00 job. “You don’t see too many of these around anymore”, I said eying the time worn vehicle.  He asked where I was from and acknowledged that the previous owner’s route was my old neck of the woods. “I’m  the last of the kind”, he said. “After me, it’s over”.
There will be no more scissor men. Nothing to jar the memory of my past. Little by little, the past fades into, well……….the past. Buried in the graveyard of the mind. Lets’s not get overly sentimental but I do enjoy the small snippets of what it is that makes me who I am – reminding me where I came from.
As if on cue, the church bells are chiming some old hymn.  Another sound saying “This is who you are”. A child of 6 or 7. A woman, timeless as the ages.

So………………..whadayathink? What gets you reminiscing about your lost youth? Does it make you feel a twinge of sadness or happy inside? Maybe a good old fashioned, healthy mixture of both.

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Is This it?

July 9th, 2011 by Michael Tabor

Click onto this after reading the article: ” Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day” – Roger Waters.

I am not sure if there is some sort a “God” but if there isn’t, then doesn’t the aforementioned notion render this life meaningless. Without a God and an afterlife, doesn’t this life seem short and pointless? I firmly believe that if there were not a God then we sentient beings would have to create one.  How then could a loving mother go on when her child succumbs to some dreadful disease?
I am not going to blog about the existence of God right now, after all it would take a book in order to cover all the arguments; besides, it’s not something we can prove one way or another. One could read as much as humanly possible on the subject and still end up at square one (like me – lol). In the future, I will blog about some of the salient ideas on the existence of God but what I want to discuss now is this life and how it slips away.
With the aid of the internet and all of the social networks (no one is anonymous anymore – yours truly, Big Brother) I was able to contact my first best friend – from first grade until he moved away to Florida in seventh grade. We talked for hours reminiscing, jogging our memories about our childhood and how time flies. I am married and I have wonderful, lifelong friends but “George” was my first blood-swapping buddy and best friend.
It didn’t take much to make us happy back then, all we needed was a baseball and sometimes we didn’t even need that. We had all the time in the world and we knew it; we luxuriated in our youth. Everything was possible and the only setbacks were maybe – stepping on a piece of wood with a nail protruding (ouch), striking out at the plate, getting detention, losing a fight to a stronger kid (nobody really got hurt back then), getting pounced with apples (there were a plethora of apple trees in our neighborhood and sometimes we would eat them but more often we’d throw them at each other), fishing and not catching a fish….. you get the point.
I was fortunate to have a great childhood. I know people who have had nightmare childhoods either because of financial reasons (parents), a premature death in the family, abuse, etc. However, I was one of the lucky ones.  Childhood was magical and I thought it would last forever.
They say that ignorance is bliss and when I reflect back upon my life, I put some stock into this little adage. Going back to my opening paragraph, I wholeheartedly believed in a God and as a matter of fact I didn’t have an encounter with an atheist until I was a freshman in high school. That was when innocence started to slip away. I was a late bloomer in high school and education didn’t mean a whole lot to me. It wasn’t until my college years at which time I couldn’t keep my nose out of a book and to this day, my voracious reading has not diminished one bit. However, I continually ask myself, am I any happier now that I have all this knowledge?
So now I am 48 and my life is more than half over. Our parents and loved ones are dying and when I come back from a funeral I say to myself – IS THIS IT?
So now it is your turn WHADAWETHINK ? Did you have a happy childhood? Do find that your life is slipping away? Could you be happy without a God? What gives meaning to your life?
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Good Fences

July 6th, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor

Let’s consider the purpose of a fence; used to contain livestock/pets, shield a specific area from the elements, define a property, obtain privacy. All these reasons are purposeful and necessary, especially when living in close proximity to one’s neighbor. Now let’s define “neighbor”;  a person or people living near or adjacent to oneself who are either “neighborly” or behave otherwise with relation to one’s fence line. Ok, you see where this is going. Let’s face it – fences are there for a reason.
Back in the 1950’s when our neighborhood was first established, they built cookie cutter capes side by side as a template for the ideal setting in which to live. The builders left the spaces in between open – no fences. What were they thinking? Then, little by little, the people who purchased these charming little dwellings began to mark off their slice of utopia for the various reasons mentioned by way of fencing. And they lived happily ever after, right? Uh, guess again.
Fortunately, for most of us, the fence, with our adjoined properties is respected and rarely is it necessary to reach beyond that boundary. Should the occasion arise when one must overstep that boundary, we act in a neighborly fashion, ring the doorbell, and ask. If no answer, repeat steps one, two and three at a more opportune time. Then there is the jerk (for lack of a more dignified term) that skips steps one, two, and three and does what he damn well pleases. Yes, he actually enters his neighbor’s yard, which might I remind you, is fenced.  He simply drives around the block in his suburban van with his tools, his kids, his ego (ever more inflated with the task at hand), and together they spill out of the van like a malignancy. He ENTERS the property with the utmost importance and with the sole intent to prune the back portion of his shrubbery, which faces his neighbor’s yard. The neighbor stares aghast from her window at the scene unfolding before her – in HER yard. Jerk, buzzing about his business with the children lined up like little soldiers picking up the clippings.  If only the neighbor, frozen at the window in disbelief, had a German Shepherd to let out right about now instead of the Jack Russell she owns. (No offence Chip, but you’re not up to the job).
This same Jerk (normally given a more distinct title) had the audacity to enter my back yard and lopped whole branches off my property that he deemed intrusive to his side of “the fence.” Fortunately, for him, I was not home at the time (I can be worse than a German Shepherd when defending my fortress). Nevertheless, I was faced with the unpleasant task of confronting this transgressor to remind him of the purpose of the fence line. Not only was he unapologetic and made it a point to say so, he blatantly did not care. Not entirely surprising given his track record. I had endeavored to perform this mission alone, believing that my loving husband might lose his temper making us appear confrontational. In hindsight, I should have accepted his offer for I was attacked by the Jerk’s Pit Bull – his wife.
I was greeted most ungraciously at the door by the Pit Bull with little more than a snarl. The conversation went downhill from there. For those of you who don’t know me, I avoid confrontation whenever possible and although I was the damaged party, I did not raise my voice. Instead, I detected a certain edge creep into my tone as I struggled to control it, deflecting blow by blow accusations concerning the unruly growth emanating from my yard. Had I not seen it for myself, given their  outlandish description, I would have been certain we were dealing with a monstrous green tangle more apt to be found in the Amazon rather than Long Island suburbia. Ah, the sins we neighbors commit against one another! The arm connected to my green monster dared to brush the roof of their shed causing me to be labeled the untidy groundskeeper.
I returned home to my haven, deflated, desecrated and demeaned and began clipping away fraught with fury. Take THAT! And THAT! And THAT’s your head snapped off! Yes, all the anger directed at Mr.  and Mrs. Jerk resulted in a very productive and prodigious afternoon. It’s also very therapeutic, I might add. I carried huge piles encased in twine to be carted away at the curb. Other areas less offensive were attacked with a vengeance – CLIP! CLIP! CLIP! Morphed from a mild mannered woman of calm reserve into a dangerous wild-eyed fiend with shears, as I maniacally clipped away.
For the first time in ten years, I have installed padlocks on the gates leading into either side of my property. My sanctuary is officially off-limits to everyone with the exception of the people who mow the lawn and my nearest and dearest Jack Russell neighbor.
Good fences make good neighbors – better fences do not necessarily make bad neighbors better but one out of two’s not bad. I hope you found this article amusing. One day, so will I – when the Jerk can’t get in.

So………….whadayathink? How would you have handled this situation? And have you ever experienced anything of the kind? And isn’t he a Jerk with a capital J ???

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July 1st, 2011 by Magdalena Tabor

Grab the summer

With both hands.

A watermelon slice

Sticky sweet

On both cheeks.

Spit out the seeds

Of trepidation and trouble.

Leave the rind on the sand.



Hang your seat

From a limb.

Long languid strides

Slow as honey

From a Jar.

Grab the ropes

With both hands

And let go,

Forgetting the empty swing.