This Frank Sinatra tune floated in and out of my head along with the symphony of wind chimes as I took a break from a very hard garden project to sit on the deck and quench my thirst with my favorite (daytime) beverage, cold ginger and peppermint tea.
My view from the deck. Lawn is suffering a bit in this heat.
Like the song, our fickle summer wind blows from the west most of the time; I’m a couple miles from the Pacific Ocean.
Nobody can ever compare to Frank’s lyrical interpretation.
The summer wind came blowin’ in from across the sea
It lingered there, to touch your hair and walk with me
All summer long we sang a song and then we strolled that golden sand
Two sweethearts and the summer wind
Like painted kites, those days and nights they went flyin’ by
The world was new beneath a blue umbrella sky
Then softer than a piper man, one day it called to you
I lost you, I lost you to the summer wind
The autumn wind, and the winter winds they have come and gone
And still the days, those lonely days, they go on and on
And guess who sighs his lullabies through nights that never end
My fickle friend, the summer wind
The summer wind
Warm summer wind
The summer wind
Songwriters: Hans Bradtke / Henry Mayer / Johnny Mercer
You know how I love to clean? That’s because she made a game out of washing windows, polishing silver; even ironing. She made it all fun, never a chore.
When Angel Boy had his medical scare a while back, it was my mom whom I channeled in the hospital. I remembered every single thing she ever shared with me about being a strong, assertive patient advocate — how to interact with doctors and staff — and to NEVER leave the side of a loved one, which is the reason why DIL and I were there 24/7 for the almost two weeks he was hospitalized. We all firmly believe this is one of the reasons he’s here today. REALLY.
On a happier note, all I know about fashion and style, shopping and Chanel, I learned from my mom and I’m more than happy to carry on that legacy.
When I spray on my favorite scent, Chance by Chanel, before I leave for the gym, I remember more of my mom’s words of wisdom:
“Don’t save good perfume for special occasions. Wear it every day just for you.”
When my mom retired from nursing, she moved in with us. After suffering from months of unexplained stomach pain and nausea, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Sadly, she didn’t live very long after that.
We cared for her with the help of hospice and she died peacefully at home.
Toward the end, after school, my seven-year-old son would climb on her bed, tell her about his day and feed her a couple spoonfuls of soup.
Sometimes, caring for a terminally ill grandma is a beautifully tragic way to learn compassion.
Angel Boy and my mom had a special bond; she would play Candyland for HOURS with had endless patience. When he was two or three or four years old, whenever he’d call out “MOM!” we would both answer, because for the longest time, that’s how he referred to us both– until he named her “DangDang”, which is how his brain processed the sounds in “Grandma”.
She would have been so very proud of him.
When Angel Boy finished graduate school, I bought him an Hermes tie because that’s what Grandma would have done — memorialize the occasion with an amazingly extravagant gift.
I can think of no better way to honor her memory than to shop for a little something special, ‘cos that’s exactly what she’d want me to do!
A few of my favorite vintage photos:
Stylish nurse ensemble. I still have her cap and velvet ribbon tucked away, wrapped in tissue paper.
Lovely afternoon skirt, blouse, and contrasting belt to highlight her curves.
Me (very yellow with frilly socks) with Mommy, attired in a full-on Jackie Kennedy look minus the pillbox hat.
Frank Sinatra was one of her FAVES.. She used to annoy me SO much by singing along with Old Blue Eyes whenever this song came on the radio: “It Was A Very Good Year”
Princess Rosebud won this round. I’m not proud that I surrendered to the use of toxins to win this war, but I felt I had no choice.
Finally, we enjoyed a well-deserved mug of life-giving, life-sustaining dark, rich, bold coffee.
The spoils of war, my friends.
P.S. As much as I wanted them GONE, I can’t help but admire their determination. Let’s all sing along with Frank Sinatra in “High Hopes”
SUNDAY UPDATE…BREAKING NEWS…
Mission NOT so accomplished. A terror cell of insurgents split from the main army, invading our bedroom. Coming from the attic, this has nothing to do with being thirsty. This is a military coup. Princess Rosebud is fighting back alone; her tugboat man retreated to the safety of a beach.
Maybe not, ‘cos if that were true, I’d be Eleanor Powell or Ella Fitzgerald and hub’d be Frank Sinatra or Fred Astaire or Sammy D.
Long relationships possess an ebb and flow; that we know.
On any given day, either one of us is the frustrating one to be married to (most often me ha ha). Sometimes we’re on the same path– in sync and cosmically aligned — sometimes we misunderstand cues and hurt feelings ensue.
My tugboat man and I have experienced it all — mostly we’re sailing along on the same course (nautical reference) — but this past Sunday was a nice and easy day, kind of a quirky series of activities that pretty much defines our relationship in a good way, I think.
After a few days on antibiotics, hub’s up and about, almost recovered from an upper respiratory infection except for a nasty cough that’s stubbornly refusing to disappear.
My recovering invalid requested French toast for breakfast with fruit and yogurt — as much as I throw a certain amount of snark his way, I’m a dedicated caregiver — I learned it all from my RN mom.
Hmm, thought to self: next time he’s sick, I’ll need to remember to wear my mom’s old nurse uniform and that cool hat she wore along with the thick white support stockings and shoes — I love to play dress up. Yes, I never grew up, I know that…
In appreciation for the yummy breakfast, Tugboat Man declared that he would learn to play one of my favorite songs on his ukelele, Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine”.
He brings his Kala Concert Uke when he goes out to sea; it’s the perfect size for traveling.
(BTW, a beguine is a dance.)
That led each of us down a parallel path on You Tube to search for all the different versions we could find.
Sitting side by side on the sofa with our individual laptops, we shared our discoveries, both of us mirroring jaw-hanging-open awe of Eleanor Powell and Fred Astaire dancing in Broadway Melody of 1940:
While this may not seem like an overwhelming good time to everyone, when you’re a mariner’s wife, these simple slices of an everyday life — things you might take for granted under different circumstances — become more precious and more poignant — and more appreciated.
(Look at me! A deep thought! Did you think it wasn’t possible? Did you doubt that I could be more than a one-dimensional shopaholic?)
We both agreed that our all-time favorite was performed by Ella Fitzgerald. I can (and do) listen to her over and over:
But Frank Sinatra’s is awesome, too. Throughout the years of his career, he sang it many different ways, and we listened to them all:
And then there’s Sammy Davis, Jr. He’s amazing:
What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday morning.
I guess for us today, what we do IS who we are, and the reaffirmation of us; together, enjoying different interpretations of “Begin the Beguine”, eyes closed, side by side, each of us feeling the haunting lyrics and exotic melody.
Sometimes, just being together is enough.
Whose version do you like?
Begin the Beguine
When they begin the beguine
It brings back the sound of music so tender
It brings back a night of tropical splendor
It brings back a memory ever green
I’m with you once more under the stars
And down by the shore an orchestra’s playing
And even the palms seem to be swaying
When they begin the beguine
To live it again is past all endeavor
Except when that tune clutches my heart
And there we are swearing to love forever
And promising never, never to part
What moments divine, what rapture serene
Till clouds came along to disperse the joys we had tasted
And now when I hear people curse the chance that was wasted
I know but too well what they mean
So don’t let them begin the beguine
Let the love that was once a fire remain an ember
Let it sleep like the dead desire I only remember
When they begin the beguine
Oh yes, let them begin the beguine make them play
Till the stars that were there before return above you
Till you whisper to me once more, darling I love you
And we suddenly know what heaven we’re in
When they begin the beguine
When they begin the beguine.
#Ella Fitzgerald, #Frank Sinatra, or #Sammy Davis Jr.
For a brief moment in time, I lived my life’s dream of being an actress.
I had an agent.
I even combined my love for writing with my desire to become the next Oscar winner and wrangled a real live Press Pass from the Theater Arts Guild (which I saved all these years and take out to weep on every so often as just another unrealized dream.)
One time, I interviewed Bob Hope and Connie Francis. By the way, funny as you think he was on stage, he was an absolute JERK behind the scenes. At least that’s what I observed as he demanded that his white Rolls Royce be driven underground at the Sports Arena where he was to appear with Connie Francis in a tribute to the military. There was such a small crowd that a near-panic ensued and busloads of Marines drove in to fill up the seats and save the day.
Anyhoo, I get that I was a nobody with a freshly minted press pass, but I did write for a legitimate publication and he didn’t have to be so rude and dismissive. I wrote an honest, authentic, and genuine piece, not a speck of fluff anywhere. I still have the article somewhere along with my press pass. One day I’ll rummage around in my box of broken dreams and post it.
From tiny on-screen moments on the beach in a bathing suit in Harry- O with David Janssen to my last shoot as a Costa Rican hooker in Deadly Desire with Jack Scalia, it seemed as if I had a calling. I even had a few bit parts with lines, although most of them ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor, so there’s nothing to be found on YouTube to document my star’s brief rise and fall.
Upon reflection, I’m not quite sure why I was typecast as a prostitute? Bimbo in a bikini? Oh well, another fantasy died, thanks to an abundance of wrinkles and hundreds of pockets of cellulite. Time marches on, right?
There was a time I had auditioned for a film that was shooting in San Diego, “Stuntman”, starring the great Peter O’Toole.
Me with Alex Rocco.Photo property of Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife
There I was, once again, a girl in a bikini, on the beach in La Jolla. (Nice abs, if I do say so myself.)
That’s where I met Peter O’Toole. Because we were right on the beach, it was a fairly egalitarian scene. It was fascinating for me to watch actors as they rehearsed their script outdoors — like Steve Railsback who kept going over his lines; “We’re losing the light, Chuck.” “Chuck, we’re losing the light” “We’re losing the damn light, Chuck!”
Photo courtesy of sandiegohistory.org
And then there was Mr. O’Toole as he was called, pretzeling his tall, extremely skinny body onto his special chair, one leg laconically tossed onto the arm as he half-sat, half-reclined — star power all the way — and he raised his voice, knowing that he’d command attention in less than two syllables, ” Where’s my coffee? I want my coffee HOT!” to all of the hovering assistants.
He was so thin that he showed us how he wore layers and layers of clothing — even in the summer — to give his body a little padding. (I heard Frank Sinatra did the same thing.)
I was way too cool to ask for an autograph; I wanted him to think of me as an equal; a fellow “actor”, not as a fawning sycophant.
All of us cute young barely clothed girls had an easy time as desired accessories around the set; we had more access to the celebrities, we watched them play chess or checkers or were even invited to eat lunch with them.
At the time, I thought that I was being singled out for my “specialness” and my acting skills; now I see that there was a darker and more exploitative side to what goes on behind the scenes. Trust me, the casting couch is alive and well in Hollywood.
But for me, it was all innocent, all good, all wholesome. I didn’t get drawn into any of the after-hours partying, didn’t make any bad choices in life or follow a destructive path.
My acting pursuits ended with the birth of the Angel Boy except for an inspiring portrayal of that Costa Rican hooker.
My very last line…”Te gusta, señor?” (“You like, Mister?”)
Act on, Mr. O’Toole. Break a leg. You are remembered and missed.