January 23, 2023

"10 Helpful Tips Before You Keel Over" (Check it out before it's TOO LATE!!!)

 10 Helpful Tips Before You Keel Over

Making it EZ-PZ for those you leave behind

It was an uneventful Thursday until my best friend called to say her mother had died unexpectedly.

My friend and her brothers were in shock and totally in the dark about what to do. Their mother, who had divorced years ago, left no instructions, plan, or direction for her final wishes. What kind of funeral did she want, and where did she want to be buried? What do they do with the house and the cars? At this time of great grief, my friend and her brothers were overwhelmed with the next steps.

There’s a takeaway for all of us: Think ahead. Following are a few tips that will help make things easier for our children at a time when they need our guidance and direction most.

1. Make your wishes known. Deciding on one’s eternal resting place is a big decision. Don’t leave it up to someone else to decide whether and where you want to be buried or cremated.

2. Where’s your will? In our house, it’s in my office. You know, in the set of drawers over by the thing. (Be clear!)

3. Some credit cards offer life insurance. Do you have the papers in order? I knew someone who, by chance, was looking through his deceased father’s papers and found $150,000 on some arcane credit card.

4. Your beloved pet. To whom will you bequeath it, and does that person know? Having a pet is a huge responsibility. At best, your friend or family member will be overjoyed to take it on. At worst, they are allergic, and the burden will fall on them to find the right new home. In addition, would you like to have your pet taken care of in the manner they are accustomed? Consider making a monetary provision for them in your will. (Maybe NOT like infamous hotel queen Leona Helmsley, who left her precious pooch $12 million!)

5. If you have a safe deposit box, be sure that your children know at which of the over 5,000 FDIC-insured commercial banks in the United States it is. Again, be clear on which bank and branch. Oh, and the key in the little envelope they handed you when you initially opened the box? Do you know where it is? Be sure someone does. Sure, the bank can call in a locksmith, but that’s added expense and aggravation.

Another thing: Who can access the safe deposit box? A court order may be needed to open a box that is held only in the name of the deceased, although these rules vary from state to state.

6. Did you opt for a “safe” box at your house? Again, be sure to inform someone where it is. And, again, if it is locked, that special someone will need to know the combination or where you keep the key.

SIDENOTE: I have another friend whose mother let her know that she had two “safe” boxes. One was in the basement (found it!), and one was “under a pile of black cashmere sweaters.” Great, except that her mother died in July.

The sweaters were packed away somewhere. Maybe in the attic? In summer storage at the dry cleaner? The search added another quandary amidst the grieving.

7. Passwords. Your bank account, email account, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Not only will the list be enormously helpful to have in one place for your family, but it will also prevent someone from hacking your FB account and sending messages on your behalf by mistake after you’ve passed to the other world.

Don’t laugh; this happened to one of my friends. They didn’t know until an old family friend wrote, “Did you know I’m still getting ‘Likes’ on Facebook from your father?” (Who died, like, LAST YEAR?)

8. Do you have money hidden all over the house? I have known people to find cash stuffed in mattresses (not creative), in a Tupperware filled with cookies in the freezer (sort of creative), and in a can of Ajax in the garage (creative).

Keeping a small amount of cash in an allocated spot (that you’ve told someone about) is fine. However, the safest bet is deposit the bulk of it in the bank where it can make interest. (Remember #5 on this list? There are over 5,000 FDIC-insured commercial banks in this country from which to choose. Select one of them.)

9. Delegate someone to go through your stuff and gather anything you don’t want anyone else to find. Like the doobie you have stashed in an ashtray on the top shelf of the corner hutch? Will people lose respect for you if they find that copy of Fifty Shades of Grey where you put place marks?

What about love letters from that person you met in San Marco Square on your first trip to Venice?

10. How about jewelry? Remember that ruby ring you put in a secret place before you went on a cruise a few years ago? And when you got home, you forgot where you hid it? Maybe now that you’re dead, and the place is being emptied out, someone could keep an open eye for the precious heirloom.

If you are reading this with sound mind, do your homework. Make a plan. And be sure to keep loved ones in the loop if you have any revisions.

And until “The Plan” is called upon, go live your life to the max. Have a hale and hearty time experiencing all you can before your time is up.


January 19, 2023

January 21 is SQUIRREL APPRECIATION DAY!! (Let them feel your love, if only for this one day.)

Squirrel Appreciation Day

An Annual Celebration of Those Annoying Critters

On January 21 — every year — it’s a big celebration in our house. It’s National Squirrel Appreciation Day!

I’m thankful for many things, and my list runneth over, but I never thought squirrels would hover at the top. Christy Hargrove, a wildlife rehabilitator in North Carolina, founded National Squirrel Appreciation Day to make us aware that food sources were scarce for them in mid-winter.

And be they shades of gray, pale orange; deep reddish-brown or black; Ground, Tree, or Flying squirrels, on this particular day, we’ve got Hargrove’s blessing to honor them and make them feel as if they matter.

For background, these creatures are at it 24/7. As pure opportunists, squirrels will break into your attic any time. They’ll leave cracked acorns on your lawn when they think it looks too neat. Have overflowing bird feeder problems? Need an attic pilfered? Count on these ubiquitous rodents to show you a thing or two. Watch them skitter, hop, run, jump, and fly as they test their might and moxie, and your patience.

Here are a few important facts to help you embrace these critters that range in size from the five-inch African Pygmy Squirrel to the three-foot Indian Giant Squirrel:

1. They have four front teeth that grow continuously, at a rate of about six inches per year. (Charming.)

2. Their strength can rule the world. In 1987 and 1994, trading on the NASDAQ market was briefly shut down due to squirrels chewing through power lines. In 2012, more than 3,000 Northern Virginians lost power because one “curious” squirrel got into substation equipment and caused a transformer to blow.

3. A group of squirrels is called “scurry,” or a “drey.” Knowing this fact can be an excellent conversation breaker. (As in, “Hello. And Happy National Squirrel Appreciation Day! Do you know what they call a group of squirrels?”)

4. Most ground squirrels kiss when they see each other. Mouth-to-nose and mouth-to-mouth. (Ewwww.)

5. The brainy Rocket J. Squirrel (aka “Rocky the Flying Squirrel”), created in 1959 by cartoonist Jay Ward, is one of the world’s most famous of the Sciurus genus. He buds around with Bullwinkle the Moose.

6. Adjectives used to describe squirrels include “annoying,” “cute,” “scurrilous, “messy,” “entertaining,” “invasive,” “jittery,” “adorable.” (Do you have a favorite adjective for your favorite squirrel?)

7. They communicate by making shrill sounds. (Who doesn’t from time to time?)

8. Squirrels have big tails for several reasons. Its primary function is balance by enabling them to dart around quickly without falling. However, should they step amiss, the tail is also used as a parachute when they fall and a cushion when they land.

In addition, tail gestures are a form of communication. (We do not know if the term “tattle tail” was invented by a squirrel.) When the tail quivers, it means, “Get the flick away from me.” And lastly, those fluffy tails serve as excellent blankets in the winter.

9. Though their brawn with hauling nuts might flirt with your affection, squirrels do not make good pets. In fact, in many states, it’s illegal to keep wild animals. (Please don’t remind me of the pet chimpanzee-who-tore-off-someone’s-face story in Connecticut a few years back. So while a squirrel wouldn’t quite do that, they are not a species you can fully trust. Plus, they can’t [I’ll repeat that, THEY CAN NOT] be litter box trained.)

10. It is a little-known fact that mother squirrels are occasionally cannibals. But only if she is stressed out or stuck in the attic with some of her pups, and there’s no food or water.

Let’s face it — there’s not a lot to forage for in January. So help celebrate National Squirrel Appreciation Day by putting some extra food outside by the bird feeder.

Toss them a handful of sunflower seeds. They also like dried corn.

If you’re feeling exceptionally generous, offer a few tulip bulbs. (Watch out for your fingers.)

January 3, 2023

Being The Weirdo Kid With Glasses (and an Eye Patch)

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash
Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

Blank. Black.


Photo by the Author

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December 30, 2022

Frank Lloyd Wright's "Fallingwater" is miraculous in ANY medium

Originally appeared in Medium/"Illumination"

Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Fallingwater” as a Gingerbread House on Steroids

By Bonni Brodnick
Photo by Melodie Dearden
Photo by Yuhan Du on Unsplash

The project took twelve hours to design. Forty hours were spent putting together the 164 pieces of house made from roughly twelve square feet of gingerbread dough.

For the stone, concrete, steel, glass, and wood imbued in the actual “Fallingwater,” they used over eight bags of powdered sugar for all of the frosting and over 40 bags of large Smarties (used to simulate dry stack stone on the building exterior). Finally, the river and waterfall are made from three batches of hard candy.

“Melodie, WELL DONE and entirely deserved FIRST PLACE! Great-grandfather would be proud and looking for royalties! LOL. Your rendition was festive and infinitely more attractive than the ‘thrown up candied Santa intestines’ of your competitor. There is just no accounting for taste. Cheers!”Ms. Galt refers to the “Candyland” entry that came in first. But who has the cantilever balconies thing hanging over the waterfall action?

December 22, 2022

POUND RIDGE PAST & 4 Stars of the Book

 I was invited to the N2N holiday luncheon at Conant Hall and there were 4 stars from POUND RIDGE PAST!!  [L to R:] Santa (aka David Goldberg from the Rec Department), Joan Volland Frenette ("It's a Bounton-full Life," p. 64), Me, EBie Wood ("Into the Woods," p. 74), Joan Goldberg (great quote, p. 25) and Lisl Steiner-Monchek ("The Horsefly in Pound Ridge," p. 170).

"Pound Ridge Past: Remembrances of Our Townsfolk" is a great gift for the holidays, birthdays, a house-warming gift, someone moving out of town, or anyone interested in what makes Pound Ridge so unique. The book spans from the rural 1920s to the swinging 1970s and reveals what life was like in this unique town that is often referred to as "God's Country."

For more info, please contact me at bonnibrodnick@gmail.com.

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