Thursday, December 15, 2011

New York's Home But It Ain't Mine No More

Thanks to Neil Diamond and his song, "I Am, I Said," for the title of this post even though the grammatical errors make me a little crazy — but, admittedly, "New York's home but it isn't mine anymore" is not as poetic... and it would be even more of a mouthful for singing.  I will momentarily forgive his grammar because Neil Diamond went to my high school (Abraham Lincoln High School on Ocean Parkway) and his aunt owned a beauty parlor on Brighton Beach Avenue (appropriately called "Diamonds") where she proudly displayed his photo in the window.  And, while I'm on the subject of the song, "I Am, I Said," I'd like to thank Jerry for making the trek back to New York with me just so we could see my mother and brother and for, more than 30 years ago, not "leaving me lonely still." I don't even want to imagine what my life would have been like without San Geraldo.

WE MOVED HERE FROM LONG ISLAND IN 1964.
(GRAY SCAFFOLDING AT GROUND LEVEL; IN THE MIDST OF BRICK REPAIRS AGAIN.)


We are back in Sevilla, happy to be home and with a bad case of jet lag. My mother, the Dowager Duchess, surprised us yet again by deciding that, at the age of 84, she wanted to purchase her first computer.  She said she was inspired to get one so we could do video Skype calls every week.  So, our first day in Brooklyn, we took her (along with my brother Chuck) to Best Buy where I helped her select a laptop with a large monitor.  She then decided she'd also like to have a printer. I called the cable company to install a line for her and they were able to do so the day before we left.

FROM THE AGE OF 10, I LIVED 17 FLOORS UP (6 FLOORS FROM THE TOP)l

Since the modem needed to plug into her phone and since the newest of the four phones in the apartment was 25 years old (one phone has a rotary dial), I had to run down to the store (luckily, there's a Radio Shack across the street) and buy new phones while the installer was running the cable.  I had a lot to try and teach the Dowager Duchess in our last day and a half.  Computer, printer/scanner/copier, phone with digital answering machine.  I wrote up around 10 individual pages of instructions, such as "How to Turn On/Off Computer," "How to Read Email," "How to Send Email," "How to Create a Microsoft Word Document," "How to Skype," etc.  Jerry suggested we get her some type of "Computing for Dummies" book.  She hates the series simply because she doesn't like to think of herself as a dummy and she finds the title offensive, but I told her how helpful the books are, so we're going to order one for her.

ON THE WAY TO STARBUCK'S ON BRIGHTON BEACH AVENUE, OUR LAST MORNING IN BROOKLYN.

I am a Mac user.  My mother bought an HP PC.  I used a PC at one job for a few years, but I'm much better with a Mac, so figuring things out and then teaching my mother was challenging.  I'm a good teacher but not when I'm clueless.  The Dowager Duchess took a computing class in college about 10 years ago, so recognized some things, but hasn't had any practical experience.  She doesn't want to take another computing class now at the college because she said they go into much more technical detail than she wants or needs.  So, she thought she'd take the computing class offered at her local Senior Center where she goes weekly for a painting studio.  Ironically, the Center's computers got attacked by a virus and the class has been canceled.

OUR LAST VISIT TO STARBUCK'S FOR A WHILE.

I hope it all doesn't overwhelm the Dowager Duchess and I look forward to our first weekly Skype video call this Sunday.  Chuck, with his learning problems and limited reading skills, is amazing with technology (and a lot of other things as well).  He intuitively knows how to work the Duchess's mobile phone (and once at my request showed her where to place it in relation to her ear so she could actually hear me when I called).  Chuck is an ace at his Nintendo games.  I have a feeling he'll figure out the computer and printer without the help of any books.

THE VIEW FROM THE KITCHEN JUST BEFORE WE LEFT FOR THE AIRPORT.
THAT'S THE OCEAN WE WERE ABOUT TO CROSS.


Considering my concerns, I was amazed to find — when we landed in Barcelona last night and I turned on my smartphone — an email message waiting for us from the Dowager Duchess telling us she missed us and welcoming us home to Spain.  She's just full of surprises.

A VERY DIFFERENT VIEW OF THE WORLD.
JERRY AND MARGARITA, SEEN FROM OUR LIVING ROOM IN SEVILLA.

30 comments:

  1. Sounds like a lovely trip, and beautiful pictures, as always, and even nicer that--and I love the name--Dowager Duchess is going tech on you!

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  2. Here's raising a glass to your lovely Dowager Duchess! What a brilliant surprise for you upon your return.

    Glad to know that you and Jerry are back safe and sound and that you had a lovely time away.

    I think Neil Diamond is a brilliant songwriter/performer - my grammar is dreadful, I can live with his mistakes.

    I hope your Mother continues to surprise you!

    Elaine
    xx

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  3. Welcome home Mitch & Jerry! Reading your posts I know you had a great time.

    What are you whining about, your last visit to Starbucks?! At last now you can drink REAL coffee not that bathwater they serve! ;-)

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  4. I love her royalty tittle. We all named my 96 year old mother "La Gran Dama Eloi" because her name is Eloina and she is a blue-blooded dame. She is traveling now for a couple of months by herself and is visiting her nephew in the Dominican Republic. They went to Cuba for a week. But she wants nothing to do with computers. She says that when she was learning to talk men stopped talking and fought WW1, she was learning to walk and men started to fly. So that now she is not going to stop reading.
    Feels good to be back in Sevilla, doesn't it?

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  5. Bob:
    Yep, the Dowager Duchess is not boring.

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  6. Elaine:
    The Dowager Duchess will appreciate the raised glass.

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  7. Peter:
    Sorry, just stating a fact. Not whining. You're absolutely right. It was very nice to enjoy our cafés con leche this morning.

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  8. Raulito:
    I wonder what men would do if La Gran Dama Eloi DID take up the computer.

    And, yes, it feels SO good to be home!

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  9. So glad you were able to visit NYC again...no Starbucks for awhile...I'm beginning to shake thinking about it...safe trip back across the North Atlantic!

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  10. Always so tough to leave family. What a stunning view from the kitchen. xox

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  11. Hello Mitch:
    We are delighted to learn that you both are safely returned to Europe following on your recent Atlantic crossing.

    How very splendid that your mother should be embracing all of the new technologies particularly when so many people, of a far lesser age, refuse to do so on the grounds that they are too old. Please, when next on Skype to her, give her our warmest wishes.

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  12. sophie...^5:
    I didn't mean to make it sound like I had regrets about not visiting Starbuck's again for a while. Café con leche in Sevilla is fine with me. I am not without my caffeine.

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  13. Nubian:
    My mother's apartment has really stunning views. I could sit on the balcony or by any window for hours. It's also the way in and out of NY Harbor, so it's a great spot for watching the ships and boats coming and going.

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  14. J&L:
    Thanks so much. My mother will be flattered (and embarrassed) by the warm wishes.

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  15. Let me know when she starts blogging. It will be my First Read of every morning.
    Welcome home!
    m.

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  16. Mark:
    I will NOT teach The Dowager Duchess to blog! She'd only tell stories to embarrass me. This is MY domain to embarrass HER.

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  17. Great post Mitch! It filled in a lot of 'your story'. Chuck is lucky to have you as a brother and I am sure you feel the same way. I have 'worked with' people like Chuck for years in the school setting and they were the most rewarding! I learned so much about life and laughter.
    Welcome home. and I LOVE your mom's name!!!

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  18. Anyone who works in references to Neil Diamond is a star in my book.

    Scott

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  19. Elaine:
    And not ashamed either!

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  20. Jim:
    Chuck provides us with lots of stories (lots of challenges over the years, too). He's also a very good watercolor painter and did a new painting for us. I'll have to share his work in a future post.

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  21. Scott:
    His lyrics definitely plant themselves in one's head.

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  22. Mitch! What a sweet post. I can totally relate...my mom just got an iPhone (after having her little nokia cell phone since 2003) and is completely overwhelmed. It's been an experience trying to explain the difference between e-mail and a text message! I think I might have to the same 10 page write-up for my mother as well. Happy Holidays to you and Jerry. Miss you guys & glad to see you are settling into your new home so nicely (finally!)

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  23. Natalie:
    Jerry knows the difference between email and text, but has never done either from a phone. And using the phone to make a call is a major event. But, ask him to create a home network and he's a pro. Go figure!

    We sure do miss you! Hope you and Eric are already enjoying the holiday season.

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  24. If La Gran Dama Eloi ever took to computers she would probably have a blog even more liberal than mine...she is twice as militant and in your face...the old lady has spunk and is cantankerous as hell.

    saludos,
    raulito

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  25. Being from Seattle I find the New York housing odd.

    I really enjoy reading your blog.

    Thanks

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  26. Raulito:
    I would love to meet La Gran Dama Eloi... or would I?

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  27. Travis:
    I never really thought about it, but you're right. Although Seattle has apartments, I don't remember seeing anything that looked like what you'll find in NY.

    Thanks for the kinds words about the blog. I really appreciate the attention!

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  28. This post made me smile! Shows that we are never too old to learn new things. I love the line 'and this is the ocean we were about to cross'. It is amazing how life takes us in so many directions and how easy it is to fly over oceans to discover new adventures. Lovely!

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  29. Jeff:
    The Duchess can definitely be an inspiration. We have now successfully skyped! And we have exchanged a few emails. It makes life so much better.

    When I was a kid, I used to love to stare out my bedroom window at the ocean, watching the ships leaving the harbor, and imagining the other places across the water. My sister then ended up across the Atlantic in England and here we are in Spain. Who would have ever known!

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