Wednesday, April 30, 2008


OK I said yesterday's was the last. But there's still this one day left of Poetry Month, and I can't resist just one more. And thanks to those of you who have encouraged me to include more poetry now and then.

The north central coast of California, Monterey County to be exact, is my favorite place in this country. It's so very beautiful! Mr. Longfellow thought so too. He spent a lot of his time there, and I understand that it was there that he wrote his epic poem, Evangeline. The love story told in this poem took place in Acadia, not in California. But he was inspired by the sea and the forests around him. If you visit Point Lobos you will understand. If you spend some time there, you can close your eyes and listen to the waves crashing on the rocks, and breathe in the scent of the forest. And you can recall the words in the first half of the Prologue to Evangeline.

This is the forest primeval.
e murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss and in garments green
Indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld,

With voices sad and prophetic;
Stand like harpers hoar,
With beards that rest on their bosoms,

While loud from its rocky caverns
The deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate
Answers the wail of the forest.

These pictures are both from
I do not feel my own pictures from Point Lobos are descriptive enough to illustrate the poem.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Poetry Month is drawing to a close. I haven't really posted many of my favorites, and there are so many. Now that the month is closing, I am thinking of about a dozen I'd like to cover. Too late

Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) is one of my favorites, and another that I'm going way back to remember. Now that I've settled on him, I have to decide which poem to choose. Again - there are just so many. The only way I can decide is to choose a favorite topic as well.


The sea is never still.

It pounds on the shore
Restless as a young heart,

The sea speaks
And only the stormy hearts
Know what it says.
It is the face of a rough mother speaking.

The sea is young.
One storm cleans all the hoar
And loosens the age of it.
I hear it laughing, reckless.

They love the sea,
Men who ride on it

And know they will die
Under the salt of it.

Let only the young come,
Says the sea.

Let them kiss my face
And hear me.
I am the last word
And I tell
Where storms and stars come from.

The sea picture is not mine. It is from

Another of his verses can be read if you click on his picture.

Monday, April 28, 2008


It has taken me almost 70 years, but I finally found about three doctors that I really like and respect: my family doctor, my cardiologist and my podiatrist. The others I see are OK - as good as it gets in South Jersey so far as I can tell. Even the doctors I see here, when they are sick, go up to Philly to be treated. Years ago I worked in hospitals and I knew a lot of doctors - good, bad and mediocre. But they weren't my doctors. We did have a truly wonderful one on Long Island for about twenty years. But the best ever was the General Practitioner my family had when I was growing up.

Dr. Lampe (There's an accent over the "e" but I don't know how to do that on a computer.) had his home and office in downtown Philadelphia. We lived in the suburbs. But any time we called, he would come out to us. He was much like the doctor in a Norman Rockwell p
ainting. He wore a three piece, brown pin striped suit, was a bit rotund, wore his glasses down on the end of his nose, and he had an old, worn, brown bag full of medical paraphernalia, plus a tube of pink pills. No matter what else he gave you for whatever was wrong with you, he always gave you a few of those wonderful, pink pills. They worked like magic to make you feel better. He even gave me a few extra for my dolls. He was also a great believer in the power of potato soup. Mother would tell him that I did not like potato soup, and he would say, "Then give her mashed potatoes."

When I needed a vaccination or an inoculation, we would go into the city to his office. I've never figured out how he could have office hours when he was always running out to patients' houses. His house reminded me of my Aunt Emmy's house, except that it was not part of a row. Inside, it had dark paneling and dark furniture in the waiting room. He had no receptionist. When it was our turn, he would open the sliding double doors and summon us into the office where we would sit by his desk and discuss our needs, then he would take us through another door to the examining room.

I always enjoyed the trip to the city, and never minded the shots at all. I loved Dr. Lampe.

In the 30's and 40's family doctors knew us inside and out - knew our homes and families and all of our problems, physical and otherwise. They knew us as individuals, which often allowed them to treat us more successfully, even without modern day medicine. Today's doctors are laboring under huge caseloads and constraints from so many regulations it must make their heads spin. They really don't have the time to treat us as they should, even when they dare. I do not envy today's doctors. And, as one of today's patients, I am not too happy living in the Age of the Specialist.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Two things today.

First - It is still April, and AUTISM AWARENESS month. In case you are not familiar with them yet, there are a couple of great blogs out there, waiting to be read. SnoopMurph h
as one of them, called these are the days. And Joey's mom has the other, called Life with joey. They both have great little kids and you might enjoy reading about them.


The second thing is - sort of having to do with yesterday's mention of farms and farmers.

This is another blog I've read before, then seem to have forgotten for a while. Well, actually, there was a blog by that name, but she has changed jobs and started over again. Tana Butler
says, "Lettuce praise farmers". She writes a blog called i heart farms, with"stories and pictures of real people and real food". (There are lots of nice cow pictures, Shelly.) Farms - food - animals - nature - something for everyone. Just thought you might be interested.


I just read Cliff's post today. It really made me start thinking. Those of us who are not farmers, especially those of us who live in cities, really do not have a clue as to what is involved in getting the food we eat into our kitchens and onto our tables. At the moment, he is concerned because it has not stopped raining long enough for him to get his corn planted. It's a ripple effect, isn't it? How many other jobs depend on the farmer? And ultimately, we do not have that corn to enjoy. Not to get all deep and dark, but it's worth some thought. Let's give that thought and maybe a prayer for the weather and the farmers out there, doing their thing so that we can have a good meal.

Friday, April 25, 2008


I wake these spring mornings to the wonderful, beautiful song of birds. A truly wonderful way to wake to a new day.

Came across a verse the other day that I rather like.

A light broke in upon my brain -
It was the carol of a bird;
It ceased. And then it came again,
The sweetest song ear ever heard.

- Lord Byron - The Prisoner of Chillon

I'm not sure why I like Byron. It's unlike most poetry that appeals to me. It goes back to Jr. High School I think, when I read Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, and was quite impressed.

I have never forgotten another line he wrote: I love not man the less, but Nature more.

Thursday, April 24, 2008



6:15 PM -
I was sitting in the living room, eating my supper. Was actually thinking of the hummers and wondering when they would show up. Happened to look out the open front door where the feeder hangs - and there he was ! I'm so glad I had put out nectar in hopes that one would show up.

So - It's official. First hummer I know of being sighted in Cape May County this year. I'm a happy camper.

Yes, I did get a picture, but it isn't really clear enough for anyone but me to know that it's a hummer.


Who can tell me what kind of tree this is? A few years ago I planted several trees which were then barely twigs. All of a sudden, last year, I realized
some of them were getting pretty big and should be moved. This one was still spindly, but it was flowering, so a little while later, I moved it to the side of the house. It's doing fine, and this year is blooming very nicely, although it is still so small and frail looking, I doubted it would make it. But I don't know what it is. I don't believe it is a cherry.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


As you may have noted, Lisa and I have been playing with Widgets. She found a black cat one first on someone else's blog, and just had to have it. It went from there. We both discovered the joy of the cyber pet. Silly fun. Feel free to play, and to feed them. If you investigate the pig, beware! He is very, very loud.

While I'm at it, here's another promotion of a family member. Kitty has posted pictures of her garden in a couple of posts. Really pretty!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Couldn't resist. Dianne inspired me with her Project Green butterflies yesterday. I had to dig out a few of my butterfly pictures. I just love butterflies! When I was younger and faster on the draw, I was able to capture some of them on film. (Yes, we used film in those days.) So here are a few.

The first is a dia
na that I spotted in Leaming's Run Gardens.

Then there is a longtailed skipper (and friend) that was sitting on a zinnia over at the Wetlands I

The little cabbage white was flitting around
near Hereford Inlet Lighthouse.

I'm not sure what this one is. But isn't it pretty?

And the next one is a painted lady.

The tiger swallowtail is one of my favorites.
Have you ever seen Monarchs, exhausted from their migration, sleeping on a tree limb? These are not leaves, they are sleeping butterflies.And of course, the monarchs, by day.

They are all so beautiful! I have dozens of pictures. But there is no such thing as a picture that can truly capture the thrill it gives me to watch the flying flowers.


Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to have no one left to ask?

I do love to reminisce about the old days - good or bad. (Had you noticed?) But I am the last of the older generation of my family. If I am vague or confused about details, there is no one left for me to ask.

When I was a child and came down with measles, mumps, chicken pox - whatever - and had to stay in bed, one of the first things I asked for (after toast with jelly, and Junket Rennet Custard) was the picture box. In
later years my mother put photos into albums, but back then she had a large dress box full of pictures. There was everything from tin types and some formal portaits from studios on heavy cardboard, printed in sepiatone, down to snapshots from a Brownie camera. Pictures from both families, several generations, all mixed together. I would ask her who the people in the funny clothes were.

Mother loved to tell about them. But her stories were often short on detail, sometimes contradictory, and I am sure, not terribly accurate. Since she had been raised by foster parents, I was never quite sure if we were talking about blood relations or foster ones. This is Mother with her foster father.

So many pictures! I remember them all very clearly. A good thing that I do, since most are now in the hands of a niece who won't share them even long enough to have copies made.

Two of my mother's favorite stories involved the reasons why she was so terrified of lightning storms. The first was of her whole family (the foster family) sitting in their big kitchen during a storm. A ball of lightning entered a window and rolled the entire length of the room, burning a path in the linoleum covered floor. The second was of herself and her mother during a stay at a resort in the Pocono Mountains. They were on a horse and buggy ride on a wooded trail when a storm came up. A bolt of lightning felled a tree in front of them, the horse bolted, and they were taken on a wild ride.

My father could not tolerate the fact that she showed fear in a storm in front of the children. Whenever a lightning storm came along, he would take me out onto the front porch to watch it. I loved it. Still do. That is one of the few things I am grateful for that my father did for me.

My father was not given to reminiscing. I don't recall him ever speaking of his parents, nor of growing up with three sisters and five brothers. Mother told me a little about his family. I may have mentioned Great Aunt Becky in a previous post. I do repeat myself sometimes, but Becky is worthy of a second mention. I'm not sure how, or even if she was related. I met her a couple of times, when she would come to our house for Thanksgiving. She was never shy about speaking her mind. Mother often quoted her, talking about Father's family, saying, "I don't know why that family is so uppity. They aren't even lace curtain Irish. They're nothing but shanty Irish."

His family was, indeed, "uppity". They didn't like my mother at all. She was "only a common shop girl" when Dad married her, having no education past grammar school and working in a department store. This is a picture of the two of them in the twenties. I may have posted it once before.

Mother's favorite story about them concerned my Aunt Frances. Frances was the oldest of the nine children. Their mother died very young, leaving Frances to raise her siblings. Once she considered that job done, Frances decided she wanted a life of her own. She settled on a nursing career. Apparently in those days, "nice" girls were not nurses. They could teach or become librarians, but definitely not nurses, and the family turned their backs on her. Once she completed her training, and being a good Episcopalian girl, she then became a missionary, and was sent to Alaska to work among the Inuit people. Now the family took her back into the fold, because she was associated with the church. However, while working in Alaska, Frances fell in love, and she married - an Inuit. Uh-oh. Disowned again. But the story continues. Being the feisty young thing she was, Frances decided to bring her husband home to meet the family anyway. On the way, the boat hit an iceberg, and all aboard drowned. Sad. But now the family felt that Frances was a martyr in the service of the Lord, so they could talk about her again.

I do wish that I had known my Aunt Fran

I wish that I had known my grandparents. All had died before I was born - all six of them, including my mother's foster parents. Is it any wond
er that photographs are so important to me? They are the only way I can know anything about these people.

These are my father's parents.

These are my mother's parents.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Because of my age, I am frequently the target of salespeople who want me to have my hearing checked. My mail is full of offers to give me a great deal on a hearing aid. I actually have had my hearing checked from time to time. So far, no one has found a problem.

My mother was deaf. We found salespeople at our door on many occasions, carrying their small black boxes for Mom to try. She would always comply. They had her put on the device, then sit with her back to the salesman, and he would say, "Can you hear me now?" (just like the current day TV commercial) Inevitably, she would say, "No, I don't hear a thing," and he would swear that she was answering him.

When I was quite small, my then teenage brother rigged up an earphone to the old Atwater Kent radio. It let Mom listen to her soap operas - not by ear, but by holding it under her chin. She heard by bone conduction. That's the way she listened to The Romance of Helen Trent and Stella Dallas. I'm not sure when or why she found that this no longer worked for her. Back in those days I could sometimes talk to her if she held an empty paper towel roll to her ear, and I held the other end tightly against my mouth. She didn't hear my natural voice, but could make out most of the words. Some days that didn't work at all.

Mother had a good friend who was associated with a school for the deaf in Philadelphia. I was so young, I have no clear knowledge of this, but I have the impression that she was the founder of the school. I do know that her money supported it. Mother and I would travel to this woman's huge, beautiful home regularly, for lip reading lessons. While they were busy with that, I was allowed to play outside on the grounds of the estate. I often met boys from the sc
hool, gardening or mowing lawns. These boys were deaf and mute, and I thought it was great fun to try to communicate with them. They were very patient with me.

Mom learned lip reading so well that many people never knew that she was deaf. I have no idea why she did not learn to sign. I wish she had, and that I had. What I would do was form letters with my fingers to spell words for her - much like this logo from my sidebar. It took
time, but it worked for us, and I learned to be a very good speller.

Many years later, my brother, who worked for Bell Telephone, invented a new type of hearing aid. He was pretty excited about it. He and his wife and daughters carried it down to Delaware where Mom was keeping house for her brother at the time. They spent the afternoon talking with our mother. Talking with her! Carrying on a conversation. She was able to hear them clearly. My brother was on top of the world. He had accomplished his life's goal, to let his mother hear again. He left the prototype with her that day. But when they left, she put it on a shelf in the closet and never used it again. At that stage in her life, she simply did not want to hear. She said it was too confusing to her.

I have heard of this kind of thing - people who are deaf or blind for many years, suddenly given back this sense - and being overwhelmed by it. I wonder how I would react in such a situation?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

JABBERWOCKY And other stuff

Back in the 1870's, Lewis Carroll wrote two of my favorite poems, which were part of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. The first was
Jabberwocky, which begins:

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogroves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

(That gave Spellcheck a workout!)

I recall one summer evening when I received a telephone call from a young man my girlfriend had been talking up to me for a while. During the conversation, out of the blue, he quoted the first two lines of that to me. I immediately came back with the next two lines. We knew right away that we had at least something in common, and we made a date. (We found out quickly enough afterwards that we didn't have much more, and never had a second date.)

The other one is Father William. It begins:

"You are old, father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head
Do you think, at your age, it is right?"

"In my youth," father William replied to his son,
"I feared it might injure the brain;
But, now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again."

It's a rather lengthy, silly poem. It amuses me.

I always loved to hear my sister read Alice to me. But when I was small, the illustrations in the book frightened me. I wanted to hear it, not look at it.

Friday, April 18, 2008


On April 17th, Liza at It's just me, also known as The Egret's Nest, posted a piece titled Have You Ever Fallen in Love (with a house? or rather a piece of property?) Her words and especially her photographs were beautiful, and made it very clear why anyone might fall in love as she did.

It made me think of a trip I made to New Jersey from Long Island, New York, thirty years ago.

My husband had passed away two years earlier. I wanted to make the move to Cape May County. My mother and sister both were living here. No family remain
ed on Long Island. And it was the place Ralph and I had intended to make our home "some day". My youngest daughter and I made a visit to scout out the area.

We looked at many houses in North Cape May. Then we decided to take a break and wander down to the shore area. On the way we saw a house for sale, and I decided to take a look, even though it was way too large and too expensive. It was old, and in some disrepair, but I fell in love with it immediately. It just felt like home to me. I even loved the dirty, dingy basement. Can't explain why. Perhaps it was reminiscent of the basement I remembered from the house where I was born. The whole place was dusty and musty. No one had spruced it up to try to
make a sale. There were forgotten odds and ends here and there - old bottles and boxes. They just added to the charm for me and I imagined myself investigating them. Who knew what other treasures I might have discovered in closets or corners. Ah well.

I tore myself away, and we put it behind us. My daughter had little interest. She wanted to get on with our trip toward the ocean. - Thirty years later, I am so grateful we could not
buy that house. The property across the street, which we had been told by the realator could never be built on, is now developed. And the taxes on that particular piece of property are today sky high. This is how it looks today. I'm not too fond of the dog statues in front, but it really does look nice. Someone has put a whole lot of work into it.

We went on to Cape May City. As we drove down Beach Avenue we saw a huge house, facing the ocean, empty and for sale. A beautiful place of course like most on Beach Avenue, but nothing I would ever have dreamed of, so far beyond my financial means as to be laughable, and far beyond the needs of our little family unless we intended to start a Bed and Breakfast. She wanted to look, and out of curiosity, we went inside. I thought it was beautiful, but had no further interest. My daughter, on the other hand, fell in love completely. She was awestruck by the graceful twin staircases, meeting on the second floor under a gorgeous stained glass window. And when we went upstairs and out onto the small balcony overlooking the Atlantic, that did it. She begged me to buy the house. When I told her it was impossible, she practically threw a temper tantrum. To an eight year old I guess nothing is financially impossible. "But Mom! We have to buy a house anyway. Why can't we have this one?" The temper was not like her. She was just so completely enamored of the place, she could not accept the fact that it could not be. She was angry with me for a long, long time.

Today that house is the thriving restaurant, Peter Shields Inn, and even more beautiful than it was thirty years ago.

We bought a nice split level in North Cape May, but each time I drive past either of those houses, I feel a little wistful, remembering the dreams.


Yea! Some of you out there participated in Poem in Your Pocket day. It was fun, and I'm glad to see that you joined in.

So far I have found poems on two blogs: Shady Gardener at Does Everything Grow Better in My Neighbor's Yard, and Laura at Somewhere in New Jersey. I loved both poems. Take a look.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


It's Poem in Your Pocket day! And I'm in the mood for A.A.Milne. He is probably my all time favorite poet to be honest. He wrote for children, but the Pooh books and When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six are such a delight, because adults can enjoy them too.

Please indulge me. I just love these poems.

Spring Morning

Where am I going? I don't quite know.
Down to the stream where the king-cups grow -
Up on the hill where the pine trees blow -
anywhere, anywhere. I don't know.

Where am I going? The clouds sail by,
Little ones, baby ones, over the sky.
Where am I going? The shadows pass,
Little ones, baby ones, over the grass.

If you were a cloud, and sailed up there,
You'd sail on water as blue as air,
And you'd see me here in the fields and say:
"Doesn't the sky look green to-day?"

Where am I going? The high rooks call:
"It's awful fun to be born at all."
Where am I going? The ring-doves coo:
"We do have beautiful things to do."

If you were a bird, and lived on high,
You'd lean on the wind when the wind came by,
You'd say to the wind when it took you away:
"That's where I wanted to go to-day!"

Where am I going? I don't quite know.
What does it matter where people go?
Down to the wood where the blue-bells grow -
Anywhere, anywhere. I don't know.

The next to last verse in that gets me every time.

My passion for Milne came back to me the other day when I read Amanda's post about celebrating her little boy's sixth birthday. She accompanied it with a picture for each year of his young life, and with each picture a line from Milne:

When I was one, I'd just begun.
When I was two, I was nearly new.
When I was three, I was hardly me.
When I was four, I was not much more.
When I was five, I was just alive.
But now I am six, and clever as clever,
So I think I'll stay six now forever and ever.

Please forgive if I have made a mistake in a word or two; I don't have the book in front of me.

Poetry is such a wonderful thing to share with a child. And it is Poem in Your Pocket day.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Still thinking of Poetry Month

Poem in Your Pocket is coming up on April 17th. That's tomorrow!

Here's one for the young people in your life. I found it on the Poem in Your Pocket site.


She rides the sky like she owns the sun,

on a sea of air and light -
surfing, skimming, rising high,
then sweeping low and tight.

She swoops to catch a perfect wave,
her wings held straight and true.
You lift your chin and hold your breath
and wish you could do it too.

copyright @ 2007 Used with permission of Margaret K. McElderry, an imprint of Simon &^ Schuster Children's Publishing

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Wow! Thanks to Hot Mama at Law School Sucks and So Do Lawyers. She gave me an award today.

I really appreciate this. Hers is one of my favorite blogs. I never miss it, and I'm never disappointed by it. The award says, "I've got a friend in you!" and I hope that's the way she feels because I sure do.

I've made a lot of friends since I started to blog. I'd like to pass this one on to some of them.

First, Dianne, at Forks Off the Moment. I've come to admire her so much. Beautiful writing, and beautiful sentiments. A warm and wonderful person who does put into practice the "Every Day Kindness" she speaks of.

Next, Gina, at The Pagan Sphinx. Again, I feel tremendous admiration for this woman. She is one of the few who is not afraid to stand up and fight for what she believes. You Go, Girl!

And third, Singing Bear, from Tiz Yer Tiz. A very nice gentleman from Great Britain, perceptive, caring, and also one who has the courage of his convictions. He also gives us some charming poetry from time to time.

There are many bloggers out there whom I admire and would love to recognize in some way.
I love you all.

Again, thanks so much, Hot Mama! You made me feel all warm and fuzzy.


I seem to talk a lot about my youngest, Kitty, on my blog. Probably because she is a fellow blogger.

I do have two other daughters - and a son - and they are pretty great, too! At least, I think so.

It always amuses me. We go to the supermarket, or walk down the street. We could be on a nature trail, in the woods, at the beach, a mall, the zoo. No matter where we are, sooner or later I hear from someone, "Ma, isn't that the nice little girl from the library?" or "Look, Suzi! Isn't that the library lady?" My second daughter is famous - locally, that is. It reminds me of the little girl in the comic strip, One Big Happy. The child talks about Library Lady, Playground Lady, and Cafeteria Lady. However, in Rita's case, she is often referred to as "that nice little girl" in the library. She is petite, and she has the kind of face that will always look younger than her years. And yes, she is very, very nice - always ready to help a patron.

She's nice to me, too. I see more of Rita than any of my other children. Rita lives and works within a half mile of my house. We eat lunch together most days. And Rita is always willing to tackle anything I ask her to do for me, around the house or in the yard. She's good company.

Rita bought the house we used to live in. I'm not sure that I did her any favor, selling it to her. When I made the move to the little house I live in now, I left behind an awful lot of things she may not need. And she now faces all the usual - and a few unusual - homeowner woes. Who knew that the pear tree would lose a branch in a wind storm, doing enough damage that she now needs a new roof? Who knew that she would need to replace the hotwater tank, which happens to be located in an almost unreachable spot under the kitchen counter?

Being the Library Lady, Rita is our walking Dewey Decimal file. If she doesn't know the answer, she knows how to find it for us. She's ver
y good at crossword puzzles, or playing Upwords, or Scrabble. And I still think she should go on Jeopardy one of these days. Here she is, playing Upwords with her sisters.

She is very happy to be Library Lady. The people she works with at our local branch are exceptionally nice people. Come to think, it's been my experience that most people who work in libraries are nice people! Must be that they are happy in their work.

Hey! Isn't that the nice little girl from the library on the back of that motorcycle?

Monday, April 14, 2008


On Saturday I decided to take my new rolling walker to the nature trail at the Point.

I do understand the reasons for improvements - really I do. But I can't help being nostalgic about the lovely things that used to be. Most of the boardwalk on the nature trail has now been replaced by fiberglass "boards". It just isn't the same. Plus, I
don't know how it would sound on boards, but when I push the walker along the fiberglass, it's pretty noisy. The ducks and the swans don't seem to be phased by it, but I can imagine there are many birds who would take flight pretty quickly, hearing this. And other small critters might be spooked by it too.

There has been a lot of work done in the park since I was last there. Many trees that were dying or damaged have been cleared out. It looks kind of barren. There are many, many tiny new trees planted. That's encouraging. And at least the lighthouse is clearly visible from almost anywhere on the trail now. That's kind of nice.

Some of the old trees are still with us of course. And I do love to see them.

And here and there you could find a little new one, struggling upwards. That makes me very happy.

I enjoyed my walk in the sunshine - as long as it lasted. Even the weeds and usual forest floor debris were pretty. I only had to take advantage of the built-in seat in my walker once for a short rest. But, as had happened all day, the clouds started scuttling across the sun, and I knew I'd better head for the parking lot. I almost made it
before the raindrops started falling.

I rather enjoyed the short walk in the rain, too. I'm not sweet enough to melt, so I didn't mind. And as I reached the end of the trail, I found another nicely framed picture of the light in front of me.

As I was getting into the car, it seemed that everyone visiting the area was rushing to leave. Funny, isn't it, how fearful most people become of just a little rain. I did notice one or two hardy souls (those wearing the typical hat and birder's vest) heading onto the trail. I'm sure they enjoyed it.

When they had cleared out, I followed. The rain stopped again quickly. A little way down Sunset Boulevard I passed what used to be South Cape Meadows, now turned into what the Powers That Be seem to feel is an improved area, and are now charging a fee for us to visit. Once again - I know "improvements" have to be made, but sometimes I just don't see it. Here are two pictures. The first is of the Meadows as I have enjoyed them for many years. I've wandered down this path many times. The second is of exactly the same path, as it is today. Is it really an improvement? I guess it will grow up over the years, but the way things are going, as it grows, it will be mowed.

I got a dirty look from a gentleman behind the fence when I stopped to take the picture.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Please don't forget - April is also AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH.

You might be interested in watching NIGHT OF TOO MANY STARS, on Comedy Central TV.

Sunday, April 13th at 8: PM,
Eastern Standard Time.

so you know it's got to be good!

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Ellen Bass is an award winning author and poet, residing in Santa Cruz, California. She has published six collections of her poetry. You may possibly have heard Garrison Keillor reading some of her work. If you would like to see and hear her reading some of her own poetry, you may do so on YouTube. Go to the bottom of page 3, continued on page 4. You may also read more about her at

The poem I would like to bring to you today is from her book, The Human Line, Copper Canyon Press.

Asking Directions in Paris

Ou est le boulevard Saint Michel?
You pronounce the question carefully,
And when the native stops,
shifting her narrow sack of wine and baguettes,
lifting her manicured hand,
you feel a flicker of accomplishment.
But beyond that, all clarity dissolves,
for the woman in the expensive shoes
and suit exactly the soft gray
of clouds above the cathedral does not say
to the right, to the left, straight ahead,
phrases you memorized from tapes
as you drove around your hometown
or mumbled into a pocket Berlitz on the plane,
but relays something wholly unintelligible,
some version of: On the corner
he is a shop of jewels in a fountain
when the hotel arrives on short feet.

You listen hard, nodding,
as though your pleasant disposition,
your willingness to go
wherever she tells you,
will make her next words pop up
from this ocean of sound,
somewhat the way a dog hears its name
and the coveted syllable walk.
If you're brave enough, or very nervous,
you may admit you don't understand.
And though evening's coming on and
her family's waiting, her husband lighting
another Gauloise, the children setting the table,
she repeats it again, another gesture
of her lovely hand, from which you glean
no more than you did the first time.
And as you thank her profusely
and set off full of groundless hope,
you think this must be how it is
with destiny: God explaining
and explaining what you must do,
and all you can make out is a few
unconnected phrases, a word or two, a wave
in what you pray is the right direction.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Yesterday I set out to find the nature area that Lisa talks about. She has been there several times, looking for the bald eagles' nest. She has told me about seeing many birds there - lots of activity around the distant nest. She has photographed it through her binoculars. She was also scouting it out for me, knowing that I can't do a lot of walking any more. She wanted to know if I could get my rolling walker past the guardrail and onto the trail.

Directions in hand, since it was a warm day and the rain had stopped, I set out on my little adventure. I've driven Route 47 many times, but never before paid much attention to things like counting traffic lights. I was to turn right at the second light, and for some reason expected this to be a short distance. Distances always seem longer when you're looking for landmarks. She hadn't told me that it was way past Goshen. Sixteen miles up the road, I found my tur
n. Then a left and a quick right, and I was on Beaver Dam Road. Went zipping along on the asphalt past several properties, then BAM, I hit the dirt road. Lisa drives an SUV. I have a twelve year old Beretta. I've been on dirt roads before, but this one.... Didn't think to look at the mileage but it was a long winding dirt road with lots of bumps and wicked ruts along the way. Suddenly, I reached the end. As I got out of the car, what I think was an eagle soared overhead briefly. It was the one and only bird I was to see.

I had the walker on the passenger seat. (It doesn't fit in the trunk) but elected to leave it in the car and stick to my cane. Too muddy out there.

It's a pre
tty area. One might expect an abundence of wildlife. That day, nothing was stirring, on land, on water, or in the sky. I was all alone. I scanned the distant trees on the other side of the lake with my little binoculars, remembering Lisa's photos. Did not even spot the eagles' nest. I thought I saw something that might be it, but wasn't sure. That was disappointing. All flora, no fauna. But I had found the place, and did enjoy the brief visit.

On the way home I concentrated more on the scenery along Route 47. First, I saw the giant billboard, much the worse for years of we
ar, proclaiming that God loves me. Then there was the tiny town of Goshen - a handful of houses, a fire hall, and a church. I think the church is within the town limits. I'm not really certain. It's spring, and Route 47 offers many lovely fruit trees in bloom. The Mosquito Commission property has several big, old weeping cherries. I had to stop there for a moment, heavy traffic notwithstanding. My pictures were taken through the windsheild - sorry.

The boatyard still had its many boats shrouded like ghosts. Route 47 can be an interesting drive, with its farms, fields, lakes, some quaint old houses, churchyard cemeteries, and garden centers. I enjoy it.

So now I know the way to Beaver Dam, and know it's negotiable terrain. I just hope that my next visit will include some sightings of eagles - or owls, or beavers - something with feathers or fur.