Friday, February 29, 2008

World Hunger

If you are interested in doing a little something to make this world a better place, please consider stopping by this site. You will find many various ways to accomplish a lot with very little effort.

There are gifts to buy for family and friends, lovely ecards to send, free of charge, ways to help with just the click of a button.

I found the site this morning, while reading the Savage Chickens cartoon, of all things. Started looking through the many pages of gifts, and picked out a T-shirt for one of my daughters. Also sent an ecard to one of them. Everything you find to do or to buy on the site benefits someone somewhere. Take a look. See what you think. Sounds to me like that "Every Day Kindness" that Dianne talks about.

"Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars, to change the world." - Harriet Tubman

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to all of the leap year babies out there.

And a very special birthday wish to my dear friend, Jack. Our birthdays are only about two weeks apart, but he is celebrating his 19th today, while I am about to turn 76. How could that happen? Not fair!

We started life together back in 1932 in Pennsylvania. We shared some great adventures in our early years. Then we went our separate ways. Eventually we got back in touch.

Jack started his studies at Villanova, but left there to become a Maryknoll priest. He spent some years in his "parish" in the jungles of El Salvador. When he finally returned to this country, he served as Vicar General at Maryknoll for a while, and later as president of their university.

Jack won't be able to see this blog post. He doesn't do computers any more. He has been retired for some time, and now suffers from Parkinson's disease. We still keep in touch as best we can. He sends me a note occasionally, when someone types it for him. I always look first for the signature. He manages "Jack" at the end of the note, though it grows more shakey each time.

Love you, Jack. God bless. And Happy Birthday!

Thursday, February 28, 2008


One day last week, I started out for the supermarket. The wind was picking up, and when I looked up I saw the sky full of dark, threatening clouds in beautiful formations. I changed direction - something I seem to do a lot of these days - and headed for the bay. There is a stretch of Beach Drive that runs along the edge of the Townbank area of North Cape May that I always like to traverse from end to end whenever I get the chance.

I have watched this tree for thirty years. Every time I see it, lea
ning away from the water, battered by the wind, losing the fight a little at a time, I wonder how long it will survive.

The water was very rough that day. I actually shivered as I looked out to the west, and was very grateful that I was inside the car. These pictures were taken through the windshield.

At other times of the year I might be concerned if the wind was so high and the car windows were open. Just past the road where the land drops off sharply, it slopes down to the narrow beach, and is held together by a dense growth of poison ivy. It's a pretty plant, but even windborn poison has been known to make life miserable for me.

Each time I drive this route I look at the houses along the way - some of them year-round homes, and some for the summer people - and I marvel that they, and the road itself, still remain. Like the old tree, they are living on borrowed time. The history of the coast shows us whole neighborhoods that once existed, disappeared under the sea or the bay.

This day, the air was full of gulls, seemingly being blown around the sky. If
you click on the picture, you can see them up there.

At the e
nd of Beach Drive, the road is continued on the property of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. You can drive to the end, where there are some picnic tables under a roof. Many, many people seem to like to gather there each time a ferry is leaving North Cape May or arriving from Lewes, Delaware. They wave to the passengers, and the passengers wave back, and the gulls swirl around above. I'm really not sure what that is all about, but they seem to get pleasure from it.

The day I was there, it was between arrivals or de
partures, so there were relatively few people in the parking area. I sat for a while in the car, then braved the cold wind to take a couple of pictures. Despite the stormy sky, the water in the channel seemed calm and when the sun managed to break through a little, it was sparkling.

There is a fascination in water, be it the ocean, river, lake or stream, or just a quiet pond. It's calming and soothing. We need that.

I would never want to live in a place too far from the water.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

East Walnut Lane

When my mother was eighteen months old, her mother died. Her father sang tenor in The First Lyric Quartet on the vaudeville circuit, and since he did not feel he could take the baby with him as he toured the country, he left her in the care of friends. She grew up considering this couple her parents. The older sister in this family was my Aunt Emmy.

When I was small, we lived in the suburbs of Philadelphia. One of my favorite things was a visit to Aunt Emmy's house. Mother and I would take the trolley in to 69th Street, and then a bus to Germantown. When we got off at East Walnut Lane, we stepped into another world. The streets were cobblestone, and the sidewalks red brick. I loved the pattern of the bricks and the way, as they had settled, they formed little hills and valleys, with the occasional brick missing or jutting upwards just enough to stub a toe if you weren't cautious.

Row houses lined the street. Each had a small front porch and a postage stamp sized patch of grass, separated from the sidewalk and from one another by wrought iron fence. Aunt Emmy's house was like all the others except that hers was at the end of a row on an alley, so there were windows in every room. At the curb, many houses had a hitching post with a carved horse's head.

Inside were what we called railroad rooms, each one opening off the long hallway, and there were front and back staircases. First was the front parlor. I was not allowed to go into the front parlor, but I could stand in the doorway and look around. It had the stereotypical horsehair sofa, the lamps with fringed shades, and an upright piano draped with a Spanish shawl. So far as I knew, no one ever played that piano. Then came the back parlor. Not very interesting. Then the dining room with its massive, dark furniture. Last was the kitchen, which I loved. A big butcherblock table in the center of the room, an old fashioned icebox, and best of all, the sink. No modern faucets there. It held a small handpump to get the water. And always in that kitchen was Aunt Emmy.

Emmy was a tall woman who stood very straight. Her hair was pulled back severely in a knot. She always wore dresses in subdued colors, high neck, long sleeves, and a long skirt, almost to the floor. And always a bib apron to protect it. She would frown down at me and ask if I had been a good girl since she saw me last. If anyone dared to tell me I looked cute or had a pretty dress, she would snap at them, "Don't tell the child that! You'll turn her head." Emmy had a hard life. Her daughter and son-in-law had both died young "of the consumption", and she had raised their two children. I'm not sure how I knew that Aunt Emmy loved me, but I did, and I loved her dearly. After a few more stern questions, she would tell me, "Go play. And use the back stairs."

Up the stairs I would go. I don't remember the bedrooms at all. Guess I never bothered with them. The bathroom was wonderful! There was a huge tub with claw feet. The toilet had a tank suspended above it, and you had to pull a chain to flush. I thought that was great!

But the room that was my destination was the front room. It had been made into a sewing room and had a machine with a treadle. And sitting on the big window seat under the bay window overlooking the street was a record player - a big wooden box with a crank, and a funnel shaped speaker just like the ads. All that was missing was the little dog with head cocked. And there was a pile of records that held songs I never heard anywhere else. Outside the window was a street light. It had been converted to electricity by then of course, but still looked like an old gas light. And one of my favorites on those records was "The Old Lamplighter". I played it so many times it's a wonder I didn't wear out the grooves on the wax record.

I often wonder what East Walnut Lane looks like today. But I'm not ever going to go back to find out. I prefer to remember it as it was in the 30's, and to remember Aunt Emmy in her kitchen.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

One Million Blogs for Peace

The logo is pretty self explanatory. There may be many of you who hesitate to commit to an immediate withdrawal of troops. I can understand that. And I am in no way reluctant to support our people in Iraq. They need and deserve our full support. But I do believe that this war, that should never have been begun, should end as quickly as possible - for the sake of our people, and for the sake of the Iraqi people.

I found this site through the pagan sphinx - an unusual and fascinating blog.

The Dream

"Lift up your eyes
Upon the day breaking for you
Give birth again
To the dream."

- Maya Angelou

from On the Pulse of Morning
the Inaugural Poem

Monday, February 25, 2008


And now that I've shown you Spring, this is just for Laura, of
Somewhere in NJ. Have to show her that she is not alone in her
childish exhuberance - or whatever it is that makes us return to
the wonderful fun of acting like a kid, no matter how old we are.

I thought I'd built this snowman a year or two ago. I guess I'm really
in my second childhood. It was back in 2002. That's OK. I was all of
70 years old then anyway. And there I was, all by myself, out on the
back deck, building my snowman. I made him look into the back door so I could look out an enjoy him more.

Laura built a wonderful snowman this year.
Go for it, Laura, any time you feel like it!


Just do this. You won't be sorry.
Click on the word below. Then click anywhere on the
black screen.


Saturday, February 23, 2008


Before we let winter go entirely (even though I am anxious to see it go) I have to show you what my kids built back in 1967, in New York.

I don't remember if Easter came early that year too, or if the snow just kept coming late in the spring.


This is an email I got from Kitty today:

"This is a local poet with some national notariety. Click on this week's link and you'll find another boasting grandparent. I thought you'd appreciate the company"

And the url she sent me is for Ric Masten.

I love it! I hope some of you will enjoy it too.'

Friday, February 22, 2008

And Now - The News

Don't you sometimes long for the good old days, before the morning "news" shows? Of course you do. I shouldn't even ask the question. I've read Dianne's hilarious post, back on February 13th about the weather man, and recent references by other bloggers, that all tell me I'm not alone in this.

Why do they persist in calling it "news" when it obviously is meant to be entertainment? (And sometimes it is actually entertaining.) If an item was really newsworthy, they would break into whatever else they were doing to let us know about it right away. They would not be planning to tell us about it later, and meantime teasing us with a promise to let us in on it if we stay tuned in for the next segment, or tune in to the 11: o'clock news. And if something we use or eat every day has been discovered to be dangerous to our health, wouldn't that be deemed to be real news, rather than be postponed until tomorrow's broadcast?

And by the way, I really resent it when we're told excitedly, "This just in! It has been reported that doctors...scientists...environmentalists...whatever...have discovered that..." followed by something that we've all known for at least five years.

And don't even get me started on their endless reports on celebrity babies/divorces/rehab comings and goings. I DON'T CARE! It's none of my business. I have my own life to live.

Apparently TV programmers believe that their viewing public is made up of morons.

This is why I listen to NPR. Not that they always give me only real news, but I don't always feel insulted. When I want to be entertained, I turn on the TV. And when I do watch TV, I avoid the major networks at "news" time. If I'm going somewhere, I may watch the traffic report. If I want to know about today's weather, I open my front door and look outside. If I need to know what the weather may be like tomorrow, I go to I don't need to see someone standing out in the rain to know that it's raining.

OK. I'll get off the soapbox now. Sorry. Just had to get it off my chest.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Hedge Garden

While writing yesterday's post, I came across a picture of my oldest grandchild, Lisa. She was visiting Yearick's Hedge Garden. It's a grainy old picture, but you can get the idea.

The Hedge Garden was Gus Yearick's version of a topiary garden, located on his own property, here in Lower Township. There was Santa Claus in his sleigh, complete with reindeer, in front of his home. To one side of the house was extensive open land. He had filled it with all manner of wonderful pieces. He would plant a hedge, and shape it into a ship, an animal, a small village of houses, a wishing well, etc.

I understand that the first piece he did was a tall ship. By the time I first saw it, it was about fifty years old, and quite impressive. I'm told that it once appeared on the cover of National Geographic Magazine, though I never saw that. Over the years Gus added ships and a tugboat, and then Lady Liberty, creating his version of New York Harbor.

In one area he arranged a baseball game. He even placed a ball in midair, leaving the pitcher's hand.

Gus didn't use wire frames nor any other devices. He used a pair of hedge clippers - that's all.
He devoted most of his time to his hedges. Four generations of my family enjoyed visiting his gardens. I went alone many times, usually taking pictures. Gus would come out and chat with me. He loved it when people came. Tour buses made the stop. There was never a charge to see his work. He would see me coming, and hurry out. "I see you got your picture-takin' machine with you again." We got along just fine. I used to get an extra set of pictures, and give one to him. That really tickled him. He told me that everyone took pictures, but no one else gave them to him.

He also kept a large garden full of zinnias and marigolds. This was edged all around with what looked like a row of lovely blue pointed glass bricks. I asked him where he had found such a pretty edging. Gus chuckled as he told me, he had found a pile of them in the woods and brought them home. - old milk of magnesia bottles! He pushed them into the ground upside down at an angle to make the edging.

When Gus was in the hospital, and knew that he was dying, he made his son promise to dig out all the hedges. He knew that no one else would ever keep them trimmed, and he didn't like the thought of them all growing over in an unsightly manner. His son kept the promise - almost. He left one hedge - The Statue of Liberty. It made me very sad to see them all disappear, and even sadder to see Miss Liberty slowly disappearing into itself.

Thank you, Gus, for many pleasant memories.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Before you begin - I apologize for the varying sizes of type. Blogger won't let me control that nor the placement of pictures
today. What's more, a friend tells me that what you see is NOT what I'm seeing on my computer, so I don't even know how to fix it . Sorry.

Some grandmothers carry around brag books with pictures of their grandchildren. I guess I'm using my blog instead. But now really - how can I not brag with a little guy like this?

No, he isn't like this any more. They grow so quickly that you can't believe it.

I think one thing that makes me happiest about this grandchild is that both of his parents are avid bookreaders. Not that there aren't many things that make me quite sure that he will have a very well-rounded education. First of all they are living on the California coast, and go hiking and camping and searching tide pools, they garden, they are interested in all sorts of cultural activities, they have pets. But first - they read.

And they read to him. This boy has a bigger library than I do. And he loves it. I know, I know. There may well come a time when he will rebel and decide, for at least a little while, that he doesn't want anything to do with books. Many kids do that. But I think this one has a good chance of avoiding that one.

At present, he is only interested in books with pictures. (He's only three.) May I give you a sample of one blog entry that his mother made a while back? It's a short one:

Friday, October 26, 2007
How Far the Apple Falls from the Tree

Isaac has been whining about Daddy all morning, so we
drive up to Mike's office and meet him for lunch.
We wander together into one of the lunch rooms that shares
space with a book exchange library. Isaac takes to the shelves
and begins flipping through mystery paperbacks.

"What's that book about?" Mike asks him.

"Words," Isaac says plaintively, placing it on the floor and
digging out another.

After a brief look, his fears are confirmed: "Dis one 'bout words too,"
he sighs.

I love it. Even when he comes to visit me,
we tak
e a trip to the local library, where
his Aunt Rita works.

I have made a couple of little tapes of
myselfreading some of his books, so
even though we are 3000 miles apart
he can sometimes hear Grandmom's
voice. His mom says he does listen
to them. I'm not sure how long
they will ho
ld his attention.

Of course, he doesn't spend all of his time with his nose in a book. I would hate to think he might
ever do that. He's a very busy and imaginative little boy.

Sometimes out of doors

And sometimes indoors, baking cookies

And today is his third birthday!

Guess what! I have two other grandchildren! And
I love them just as much. But they are now in their
twenties. Not so cute and cuddley any more, but
just as lovable. And when they
were the age Isaac
is now .... !

I don't have full face pictures of Lisa handy. They are in albums that I
cannot access right this minute.
But she was a little beauty queen for sure.

And her brother,
Joey, was a
real charmer
at the age of two.

I do have a picture of the two

of them that I can show you,
taken when they were just a
little older.

They are still beautiful people. Lisa works in
social services.

Joe is in construction. I don't want to post
current pictures of them without their permission.

And there you have it. All three of my grandchildren. If I spend more
time talking about Isaac, it is only because he happens to be in the
isn't-he-cute-learning-to-talk and oh-look-what-he-can-do-now stage.

I am blessed.

I have posted it before, but I think this quote is appropriate:

Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man. -
- Rabindanath Tagore

Monday, February 18, 2008

Photo on Request

My daughter, Kitty, emailed me today with the suggestion that I post a photo that I took years ago with my trusty old Pentax. I think it's a fun photo. Always liked it. In fact, at one point I even had some cards made up with it. It's on my bedroom wall, and it always makes me smile.

So, for Kitty, and for my own enjoyment, here is my grasshopper. it was taken outside my front door at the house that is now owned by my daughter, Rita. As you can see, I got right down there eye to eye with the creature. He didn't seem to mind posing for me. In fact, he pretty much ignored me and my camera and just continued sunning himself, letting the world go by.

No summery pictures in Kitty's blog today, even though it involves sunny California. She
and Mike went looking for snow so that Isaac could learn what life is like in other climes. It started my morning off with a chuckle. Don't guess Kitty was chuckling when they met the Sheriff of Mariposa. (Why does the fact that "mariposa" means "butterfly" crack me up?)
But I'm reasonably sure that Isaac's first experience with real snow will be something he will remember as a fun thing when he looks back on it years from now.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Where is Spring When You Need it?

This is what I keep looking for. Haven't seen anything recently resembling crocuses outside of this house. At the house where I lived seven years ago, now owned by #2 daughter, there will be crocuses and snowdrops and those little blue thingies I never could name, starting to bloom. They always showed their faces by Valentine's Day. I am longing for signs of Spring.

And in two and a half months more - heaven! Leaming's Run Gardens will be opening. This is a place that restores the soul. You can wander through, enjoying the log cabin home and barn with the kitchen garden; or you can head directly for your favorite spot and spend as much time as you like amid flowers, trees and birds, butterflies and dragonflies; or if you prefer, with frogs and fish and lily pads, with the occasional harmless snake, and a few chipmunks and squirrels scurrying by. I especially enjoy watching the many hummingbirds, my favorites.

You may encounter an Aprill family member, always willing to answer questions or just stop and chat.
I cannot now remember if I took the picture of the crocuses at the top of this post. I do not want to take credit for it. I do

The gardens opened the year my mom entered a nursing home located nearby. I can't count the times I left there following a visit with her, taking refuge at Leaming's Run, where I was able to regain my equilibrium after the strange experience of having Mom think she was a child and I was her mother. In the years since she has been gone, I still spend as much time there as I am able, from mid-May until mid-October.

If ever you find yourself heading down Route 9 in south Jersey, do yourself a favor and put it into your itinerary. (Those harmless snakes stay out of sight unless you sit very still and quiet for a long time. Even Villas Girl, who is terrified of snakes, loves Leaming's Run.)

Thank You One and All

I really have to pause at this point to thank everyone who reads this blog. I cannot believe that so many nice people actually take the time to read what I have to say.

The first time that I did a post, and THERE WERE COMMENTS ! I could not believe it. And they were all such nice comments.

It took a long time for me to get into blogging at all. Just didn't think it was for me. Now that I have started, it has become a rather humbling experience. When I read what some of you are writing,
I seriously wonder why my words are worth reading. I don't pretend to be an author, in any sense of the word. I just enjoy putting down on paper (or on the monitor) whatever comes into my head. And I like to add pictures, just for fun. But the photographs I see in your blogs! Some of you people have such talent! I often excuse my photos because I only have an inexpensive little digital, and I envy those of you with some of the equipment I know you have. But it takes more than fine equipment to produce a fine photograph, and so many of you are truly artists.

In the short time I've been doing this, I seem to have acquired a new group of friends. They feel like friends, even though we've never met. What's more, a group of acquaintances keeps growing and growing. I now have a problem because the list of blogs I like to check out as often as possible has grown way too long. The list on my sidebar is only part of it, and I am tempted to move all of them up to be Favorites. My "Bookmarks" list is rediculously long. In just the past few days I have found Nature Remains, Sandpiper, Grouse and Chortle, and Law School Sucks. The first two are beautiful. The other two are really amusing. And these are only a few. I spend most of my time at home alone. I spend a whole lot of time on the computer. Thank you all so much for filling that time with pleasure as well as challenging me to look in other directions.

Keep writing. And keep those cameras pointing at our beautiful world.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

It's getting late in the day here, and I hadn't intended to do a Valentine's Day blog. But this came in an email, and I couldn't resist:

Being in love is like standing in wet cement. The longer you stay, the harder it is to leave, and you always leave something behind.

- Author Unknown

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Re-Reading Books

Recently, Nina, of Nature Remains left me a comment asking if I had read Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. It was a familiar title, but I was having a senior moment, and couldn't remember the book right away. I asked my daughter to bring it to me from the library where she works. She did this, and also reminded me that I had once given her a copy.

As soon as I started to read, I recognized the words as old friends.

I love re-reading a really good book. I cannot understand people who do the read through, and then discard it. I want to see the book on the shelf. Just knowing that it is there and that I can return to it whenever, makes me happy. Put it down to another of my little idiosyncrasies. Books are my friends. I cannot discard them. I solve the problem of overflow by passing them to my daughter, reasoning that they aren't far away when they are with her. I can always visit, or borrow them back.

Gift from the Sea holds charming analogies involving, among other things, some of my favorite things - sea shells. It is a really lovely little book, well worth your time. If you'll excuse me now, I am going to go back and finish re-reading it.

Before I go - One brief quote from Anne Morrow Lindbergh:

"If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others."

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The World of Meme

Ok, Folks. Dianne, of Forks Off the Moment has tagged me for a meme. This really isn't my sort of thing, but I guess it could be fun. I'll give it a try.

Guess we start out by giving you the rules we're playing by, so here goes:

Link to the person who tagged you.

1. Post the rules on your blog.

2. Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.

3. Tag six random people at the end of your post, by linking to their blogs.

4. Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their

5. Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

And now, I post my six quirky habits, for all to know. I guess I have enough to fill pages, but I will gladly restrict my list to six.

l. I just can't let a new word go. If I run across one I don't know, or have heard but am not sure of the meaning, I am compelled to find a dictionary and learn what the heck it means. The vocabulary game for free rice is great, because it supplies both the word and the definition. That's my kind of game.

2. Still in the realm of language, it drives me crazy when an announcer on radio or TV manages to mis-use or mis-pronounce a word - especially if it is the name of a country. I don't care if an ordinary person like you or me does this. But a news anchor!? IT'S THEIR JOB!

3. I have a habit of picking up a shell or a stone whenever I find myself spending a beautiful moment or two in a beautiful place. I carry them in my pocket or on the dashboard of the car for a while, then sooner or later they find their way to my desk or table or bookcase. I cannot begin to tell you how many little shells and stones I have accumulated. I just seem to need something of the place with me. I take photographs, but that isn't enough.

4. I almost always travel a different route to get to a familiar destination. When I was working, I lived only a half mile at most from the office, but I went a different direction and took the long way 'round every day, unless I was running late. I like a change of scenery.

5. I can't stand nail files or emory boards or dentist's drills or brushes, or anything that rasps. I close my eyes and take it in the dental chair, but I don't have to file my nails! Manicure scissors do just fine.

6. I absolutely refuse to forward any email that threatens dire consequences if left unforwarded, or any chain letter of any kind. Just won't do it. Superstition makes me angry......and superstition coupled with religion makes me furious. God is not going to damn anyone to hell for breaking a prayer chain. And don't try to guilt me into it by telling me if you don't get it back you'll know what that means.

Guess that brings us to the part where I tag a few more unsuspecting people:

Lisa (Villas Girl)

Lisa (The Butterfly Farmer)





Monday, February 11, 2008

Clouds and Rice

Yesterday the wind was so high that I offered to drive my number two daughter home about 5:pm. On the way, I noticed the clouds were so beautiful I just had to have a picture. I headed up the highway, thinking I could find a good spot for a photograph near the park. Well, traffic was pretty heavy and I didn't really make it. I was aiming for the clouds low to the horizon. They had a dark layer on the bottom, and were white on top. By the time I reached the park, the white was turning pink, the clouds seemed even lower, and the traffic was heavy, so I took a shot through the windshield instead of getting out. But as I rounded the curve past the park, I glanced into my rearview mirror and saw an orange sky. OK. I had to turn around and head the other way, toward the bay. Made it just as the sun was sinking into the water.

Normally, I don't go driving at sunset. I don't see at all well in the dark, so for the sake of the general driving public, I stay off the roads. But I wasn't far from home this time, and I made it back before I turned into a pumpkin.

Please don't forget, if you have time, to play the vocabulary game, and win free rice for those who need it so badly. It's sponsored by United Nations.
FREE RICE is always on my sidebar under Also of Interest.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Grandmom Strikes Back

My daughter must be in a funky mood. She has posted two pictures of her son recently, niether of which is very flattering. Well, here's our boy as his grandmom likes to see him.

Sorry, folks. Just couldn't resist.

In this photo he was climbing into a huge truck on display at an agricultural exhibit in a museum. He LOVES trucks.

Friday, February 8, 2008


Poetry has always been part of my life. When I was very small, my father used to read terrible poetry to me in a sing-song voice. If I paid attention long enough to the words I didn't like them. But it was usually late in the evening, and I was a sleepy child, and the rhythm of his voice was pleasant. That's what I heard - the rhythm. As I grew older I listened harder and lost interest in the trite verses he read; but the idea of poetry, the feel of it, the fascination, was there. To be fair, he did sometimes read me good poetry. To him it was all the same I think, but I learned the distinction early on. At that time I did love A Child's Garden of Verses. Thank you Mr. Stevenson. Later my sister read to me, things like Alice in Wonderland. The Jaberwok and Father William delighted me and I learned that other types of poetry existed.

From there, I took off on my own, exploring a world my parents found puzzling. Why would a child want to sit and read books? Why would she want to spend Saturday afternoons in the library? I found A. A. Milne quite by accident at a friend's home and promptly fell in love. What a lucky child, Christopher Robin! (How sad for future generations of children that Mr. Disney robbed them of knowing the original version.)

I will be ever grateful to the librarian of our elementary school. I don't remember her name or even her face, but I am aware of the social stmosphere of the time and place, and am reasonably sure that she might have lost her job and books would have been burned if the Board of Education had been aware of how she stocked those shelves. In the fourth grade I discovered the poetry shelf. I found poets like Countee Cullen and James Weldon Johnson. I saved my allowance and bought myself On These I Stand and God's Trombones. My parents looked puzzled and shook their heads.

Of course I had to try my hand. In the fifth grade we were assigned the reading of Evangeline. I won't even try to describe the way in which my prissy, old-maid teacher presented it. But, too late! I'd already read ahead!. And immediately I sat myself down to pen an epic poem of my own. (It was pretty horrendous.) In the sixth grade our assignment was an ode for Memorial Day. I was rather proud of that one. I entitled it An Ode for Memorial Day. How clever was that? But it was printed in the school paper, and I was forced to read it in assembly for the whole school. I was pretty full of myself. I do believe that was the only time I was ever published, but I could have filled many tomes with my efforts. Still do it, occasionally. No more romantic epics, I assure you. Perhaps more an attempt at the style of Carl Sandburg.

My brother fancied himself a poet. When he returned from Europe at the end of World War II his duffle bag was full of his efforts. After his death some years ago, his daughter sent me some of his later work. He tried hard, bless him, but in my opinion his poetry was pretty bad - even worse than mine.

My youngest child makes my heart sing! She is, indeed, a poet.

Because it is Black History Month, I believe it might be appropriate to end with a favorite from
Countee Cullen:


"Locked arm in arm, they cross the way,
The black boy and the white.
The golden splendor of the day,
The sable pride of night.

From lowered blinds the dark folk stare,
And here the fair folks talk,
Indignant that these two should dare
In unison to walk.

Oblivious to look and word
They pass, and see no wonder
That lightning brilliant as a sword
Should blaze the path of thunder."

Remembering that this was written back in the 20's, please, God, don't let these words describe attitudes today nor in our future.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Baseball and Blogging

I was having a telephone conversation with my three year old grandson the other day regarding a baseball game he and his dad had been watching. Now, you understand, that what passes as a conversation, especially on the phone, consists of an announcement on his part that this event had taken place, followed by a series of questions on my part to which he answers, "Yeah!" This time he did then ask me a question, which his mom had to translate for me. He asked if I had ever seen a baseball game. My answer was, "Yeah!"

It started me on yet another reminiscence. No, I did not inflict this one on a three year old.

I have attended many baseball games. But way-back-when I attended a game between the Phillies and the Tigers, at Connie Mack Stadium. Saw Connie Mack himself, too. I have no recollection of who won the game but I do remember the summer sun and the climb up to our seats, and the hot dog that I ate and the old man waving to the crowd. A lovely, warm memory.

My grandson is, of course, not only the cutest, but the most accomplished three year old who ever lived. He has the added advantage of living 3,000 miles away from me so I only get the cleverest and funniest side of him, and never hear any whining or tantrums or see any bratty behavior. I get to see pictures and read his mother's blog entries (Fetal Positions II: beyond the pregnancy chronicles). She is a talented writer and poet and manages to paint me wonderful pictures in words. She is too busy these days to blog every day. But I check every day to be sure I don't miss anything. She writes about her son of course, but adds commentary on our world - politics, the environment, her observations on mankind.

Shameless plug: Just look over there to your left and click on Fetal Positions II, under My Favorites. She is most definitely my perso
nal favorite.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

An Afternoon at the Point

The weather this afternoon was kind of strange. Warmer than it has been lately, but still cool for my liking, sort of cloudy, as if it just couldn't make up its mind if it should rain or let the sun shine. But I was restless. Had to get out of the house. I decided to take a ride up to Cape May Point.

I started up Sunset Boulevard. It always makes me sad now to ride past what used to be my beloved South Cape Meadows. For thirty years it was a favorite spot for me. I would wander onto its paths which were usually rough and often puddled or muddy. No matter what time of year, it always offered something
wonderful to see. The best time of year was around Mothers' Day, when I could always count on goslings and signets, and sometimes met challenging geese or swans who did not want me to pass too near their babies. Butterflies could always be counted on in the warm weather. I often spotted small animals scurrying out of sight as I passed. Wild flowers were everywhere.

But for the past year the Meadows were off limits while all kinds of construction was goin
g on. We were told it would be better than ever when they were through. They now claim it is. I don't know about that. To begin with, admission is now charged. But putting that aside - Look at what has happened. The water is lying all the way up to the road - and we haven't had any really bad storms lately. As I look back toward the dunes in the distance, what I now see is ever-so-neat and tidy paths with bird-watching platforms and little bridges built over the low spots. What I do not see, even at a distance and despite all the water, is very many birds. I hope they will find their way back after a while. I suppose the Nature Conservancy should know what they were doing. Maybe the summer will bring back the wildlife. We can hope. At least their sign is nice looking and the parking lot is nice. But somehow I doubt that I will be spending much time there. Certainly not this year.

Well, I continued up Sunset Boulevard toward the Point, intending to end up at the Park where the lighthouse stands. But of course I had to detour around Lake Lily first. No visit to the Point is complete without visiting the lake. There weren't quite so many birds on the water today as usual, but I enjoyed those that were there. Nothing exotic. Just ducks and geese. I don't think I saw any swans today either.
I just circled the water once, and continued
on my way to the park.

The municipality of Cape May Point is an interesting place. I love the architecture found there. And if I wander very
far from my usual route, I always manage to get myself lost. It's a pleasant exprience, and I do find my way out before long, but I could never give anyone else directions to their Post Office or to any particular spot in the town except the lighthouse and the lake. I did not get lost today - just once around the lake and on to the park. But on the way I did pause to snap a picture of what I think is a beautiful sundial in someone's front yard. And, of course, the lighthouse itself can be seen from almost anywhere in town.

I always mean to take a picture of the tiny townhall that sits right at the entrance to the park. It's the cutest little building. But I always forget, and I forgot today.

As you enter the parking lot, Smokey admonishes you to be careful. You continue past the visitors' center and museum on one end of the lot, or head for the other, where you find the nature trails, and also the hawk watch platform.

I climbed up to the platform today, and enjoye
d the view for a while. Then I wandered down again and drove home. Not exactly an adventurous afternoon, but for me, a very pleasant one. I've been cooped up in the house for far too long.

As I left the park, the sun was starting to move down the sky, and silhouetted the lighthouse very prettily I thought.

By the way, I took the photo under the header for my blog up at the Point a few years ago.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Native American Ten Commandments

I have been trying to figure a way to add the Native American Commandments to the blog. As you can tell, it is impossible to actually read the commandments in so small a picture, and yet I would really like to see them here. I think my only solution is to place a large picture in this blog entry, and print out the commandments.

I found this picture some time ago in Webshots. I know that there are other versions of the commandments. I happen to prefer this one. I doubt that we can ever know which version may be the "original" one, or if there is a single original.

The Earth is our Mother,
care for her

Honor all your relations

Open your heart and soul to the
Great Spirit

All life is sacred; treat all
beings with respect

Take from the Earth what is
needed and nothing more

Do what needs to be done for
the good of all

Give constant thanks to the
Great Spirit for each new day

Speak the truth, but only of
the good in others

Follow the rhythms of nature;
rise and retire with the sun

Enjoy life's journey but
leave no tracks

If only we could follow these precepts every day. I guess I'm a dreamer. But, imagine....