March 31, 2008

Plumbridge, Levittown, Pennsylvania

A week ago was the anniversary of a local tragedy. In 1967, Mary Mamon bludgeoned three of her neighbors, one to death. Loretta Mullery died, her son Donald suffered huge damage, and the Mullery’s thirteen-year-old neighbor, Nancy Markham, suffered life-long damage as well. My mother lived across the field from them. Nancy was her first best friend. My mother was supposed to sleep over at the Markham’s the night before. If she had stayed over as planned, she would have been attacked as well.

Nancy suffered brain damage and a result couldn’t return to school or a normal life. She had to attend the Wood School, for “people with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities, challenging behaviors, emotional disorders, brain injury and neurological disorders.” She loved the Beatles, and her favorite song was Penny Lane.

Patty Mullery, in 7th grade and daughter of the woman killed, discovered the scene coming home from church with fellow classmate and neighbor, Andrew Mealey. When my mom eventually asked him about it, all he said was that there was so much blood. TV shows that depict crime scenes are tame compared. Blood was everywhere.

My mom remembers hearing that Mary Mamon went to the wrong house. Her target was the Markhams. Back then, people had their last initial on their screen doors. In a row were the Mullerys, the Markhams, and the Mealeys. All M’s. She heard that Mary Mamon saw the M and went in, not realizing that there were three M’s.

There’s only one hit on google about this. Some guy who writes about crimes wrote two articles on “The Murderous Mary Mamon.” Turns out she had a hand in the accidental death of a five-year-old back in the 1930s. Somehow she was acquitted.

Not for her final offense. She was convicted, and died in prison.

March 6, 2008

hot cocoa (post)ulate

I am a Swiss Miss. That's one of my iChat headlines, and it is true. I am addicted to Swiss Miss hot chocolate. I will be the first to admit that I have a problem. On average, I drink about two mugs of cocoa a day.

But people underestimate the goodness of Swiss Miss. "It's just an instant mix" or "It's weak." Well, people, I believe I have found the perfect recipe for a nice mug of hot cocoa - yes, instant.

Take two packets of Swiss Miss milk chocolate hot cocoa powder. Open and pour into mug. Get yourself a spoon. Pour a quarter/half cup of hot water into the mug. Mix the water and powder until all powder is dissolved. (Note: take as much time as needed to dissolve it all. It might be longer than you wish to stir, but keep going. This is a crucial step.) Next, fill the mug to about half an inch from the top with hot water. Stir again to distribute the thick chocolate mixture you made in the previous step. Then, top off with cold water so your cocoa is not too hot to drink.

It's quite lovely.

Just today I got another convert. I walked her through the steps and she made herself a cup of cocoa. After drinking a bit, she said, "It's fluffy. Not watery at all. It has a bit of fluff as if made professionally." She had underestimated Swiss Miss. Now she knows, and hopefully you do too.

March 3, 2008

the evening (post)

Last night my synagogue, Beth Am Israel, put on our annual cabaret! It's quite fun. This year's theme was Places I Remember. All of the songs had to do with places. Everyone started rehearsing way back in September, and the hard work payed off. People are getting better each year, and the show keeps expanding.

My contribution was "The Boy From", which is a Sondheim song from "The Mad Show" and "Side by Side by Sondheim." I'd never heard of it before, but my dad knew of it. Thankfully, I remembered all of the words, a feat which I had yet to accomplish through all of the rehearsals.

It's fun to be on stage singing, but the real joy of the night is all the happy people. It may sound cheesy, but everyone was wonderful, and the show made the people in the audience and on stage really happy. It was joyous. People should get together more often.

With all of the technology available in this day and age, it is easy to go for days without interacting with people in a meaningful way. Meaningful interaction is not paying the delivery guy who brought you food. Meaningful interaction is not a phone call or online interaction. Meaningful interaction is face-to-face gatherings with real people. There should be more, not fewer, of those.

I'm lucky that a group of family friends gets together once a month to sing songs, and talk, and eat cake. Those times are meaningful. Not in the sense that something productive gets done, but we all leave with greater well-being.