Thursday, March 27, 2008


I know - I know - I said I wasn't going to blog any more until next week. But then, the mail came today. If I can't spout off on my blog, where else?

I had, like a good little citizen, written to my Congressman. Today's letter was a reply from Senator Menendez. He started off telling me all the right things. He agrees with me. Oh, yes. He says right there, "Thus, while I agree President Bush has committed a myriad of egregious acts..." But then it goes right downhill. "I do not think that we can afford to spare the time and resources needed to build the case for impeachment..." My question is, why didn't they start it a long, long time ago? He continues, "not when we must work hard to withdraw our troops from Iraq, ease the burden on the middle class, and ensure all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care." Say what? When are they going to start working on those things?

Senator Menendez always says the right things in my book. Saying and doing are so very different. He also claims that Mr. Bush will "someday answer for what he has done..." Uh-huh.

I will say this. Senator Menendez always answers his mail. Some don't. I don't see him at work and maybe he is trying to do the things he's talking about. If so, he isn't succeeding and must be very frustrated about it. I am not a patient person when it comes to politics. I worked for eighteen years for a local government, and saw first hand how politics works, locally and for County and State. If it isn't the same on a Federal level, I'm sure it's worse, not better.

I hate politics!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


This is just a fun thing that came in an e-mail yesterday. Unlike most e-mails I get, I'd never seen it before, and I thought it was interesting. Maybe you'll enjoy it too.

Apparently there is a Lemon Festival held in Menton, Italy, which is a town located on the coast near the French-Italian border

All of these things are made from lemons, oranges, grapefruit and limes.

Of course, if you click on the pictures, they will enlarge and you will be able to see more detail.

There were more, but I'm having some difficulty
getting the pictures on with so little text, so I think
I'll let it go at this. Imagine all the work that went
into this. Rather like the Rose Parade.

With company coming, I may not be posting for a few days. See you next week.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I am going to indulge myself with a very long post today.

On Long Island, in 1956, I was working for a dentist in Rockville Centre. Ralph was a Certified Dental Technician, whose lab did work for that dentist.

Once we started dating, in early October, we saw one another every day, for the rest of his life. Well, not quite. There was a three day weekend when I went home to PA for Thanksgiving - but he did call me every day then. During the next year we must have hit every restaurant on the south shore and a few up north. We walked the boardwalk in Long Beach. We wandered over beaches and gardens and woods. We drove all the way out to Montauk Point. We spent hours sitting in our favorite booth at a quiet little restaurant-bar in Wantaugh. We traveled to Pennsylvania and to Connecticut to meet his many aunts and uncles and cousins.

When my mother ordered the wedding cake she made the baker a little crazy trying to choose the little bride and groom to go on top. She said, "They're just standing there." But they finally found a pair that was holding hands. "That's more like my couple."

We closed on the little house in Massapequa Park the day before the wedding.

Plans were for a week's honeymoon, but after the third day all we wanted was to be in our own house, so we headed home. Our home! No one knew we were there. It was wonderful!

In the next four years three small people joined us. Ralph was a wonderful father - a wonderful husband. Life was almost idyllic. Oh, I don't suggest we never had our arguments. Life would have been pretty dull without them, wouldn't it? He could be stubborn and hot-headed. I definitely am not the easiest to live with - pretty bitchy, as a matter of fact. At times he would turn on his heel and walk out of the house. When he returned after a long walk, he would be calm and happy and back to "normal", which infuriated me, because I was still seething. But we loved one another, completely, and always ended in one another's arms.

In 1964 he had his first heart attack. I went to the hospital every day. The children were three, four and five. The oldest had heard of a Little League coach who had a heart attack on the field, and had died. Several days after her dad's heart attack, she asked me where it was that I went every day. Of course, I reminded her that Daddy was in hospital and I went to see him. She said, "No you don't. Daddy's dead." That was a shocker! Pay very close attention to your children if there is a family crisis. You never know how their little minds are working. Fortunately, he was in a first floor room and we could take her to a window where he could wave to her.

Life went on. I believe I was in denial. Nothing could disturb our blissful existence.

In 1968 I learned I was pregnant again. The first words that Ralph said were, "I'll never live to see this one grow up." I didn't believe that for a minute. I should have recognized his concern.
We had sometimes argued about this sort of thing. His parents had died in 1950, within minutes of one another. Both had been ill, neither telling the other how seriously, wanting to spare one another worry. I felt that couples should share everything, good or bad. I'm sure Ralph wanted to spare me. I should have been more perceptive.

When the little one arrived, he doted on her. I think he tried to cram in every moment with her that he could, knowing it wouldn't be forever. She was six when he left us. The others were fourteen, fifteen and sixteen.

He was in hospital for a week, but was sent home on Friday afternoon. We spent a quiet weekend. Sunday night he tucked in the youngest. A little later, he began to show signs of another heart attack. We went back to the hospital. The doctor assured us that they had "caught it in time". A little after midnight they persuaded me to go home to the children and return to visit in the afternoon.

I got into bed. Our black lab, Charlie, got up on the foot of the bed. I needed his comfort. At 2:30am, Charlie leaped to his feet and froze like a statue, looking toward the window. I have to say, my first thought was of Ralph, but I rejected that immediately as being foolish. Charlie ignored me and stood stiff for a while. Then he collapsed on the bed, dejectedly. A while later, the phone rang.

Until that time, Charlie had a ritual. Every day when it was near time for Ralph to come home from work, Charlie would go from door to window repeatedly, until his master came through the door. But from that moment, Charlie never looked for him again.

My husband was a quiet man, lay-back, unassuming. I was the one who did the talking. I think at some point I had the mistaken idea that I was the strong one. When he was gone, I came to realize that I drew my strength from him. We had eighteen years together. Not very long in the grand scheme of things - but time enough to store a lifetime of memories.

This weekend our children will be here for a visit. Our beautiful Ruth, who was the light of his life, albeit exasperating at times. Our son, Joe, who in fourteen years, learned from his father what it means to be a man. Our Rita, who is so like him in so many wonderful ways. And our Kitty, who gave him, and me, pure joy. I'm not sure if it is just coincidence, or if they were aware when plans were made for the visit, but this Friday will be Ralph's 85th birthday.

The butterfly counts not months - but moments - and has time enough.
- Rabindranath Tagore

Monday, March 24, 2008


Got the letter re the Stimulus checks today.

Exactly how much money was wasted sending that to everyone? It is a useless piece of paper to be recycled along with the rest of the junk mail. It told us nothing - not even the mailing dates. At least they give us that much on their website. And where did the money come from? Three guesses.

Do any other seniors among you agree with me that the same thing is true of those big, expensive books they send us each year, supposedly telling us all we need to know about Medicare? Everything they say in those books about what is covered is just vague enough that they can never be pinned down to anything. Just maybe, if they saved a little on printing those, we wouldn't have quite so much deducted from our Social Security checks.

OK. I sounded off enough today. I'll try to be more cheerful tomorrow.

Sunday, March 23, 2008





Saturday, March 22, 2008


˙sıɥʇ ʎɹʇ oʇ pɐɥ ʇsnɾ ˙sǝɯɐƃ ƃuıʎɐld ʇsısǝɹ ʇ,uɐɔ ı

If you're finished standing on your head now - I will tell you that Winston, over at NOBODY ASKED, pulled this one on us, and I couldn't resist doing it too.

It had me puzzled. Even after he gave us the link, I just stared at it and had no idea what to do with it. Obviously, I am pretty ignorant about computers, and a bit slow on the up-take. Friend, Lisa, was here, and when I showed it to her, she figured it out for me.

If you are as nutty as I am, and want to play with it, go to Flip, and give it a try. ¡ unɟ ǝʌɐɥ

Friday, March 21, 2008


Well, it's happened. As of yesterday, we are now paying $3.01 per gallon at our local WAWA.
Why - I can remember..... (Oh, Lord! There she goes, reminiscing again!) when I'd go for a ride with Daddy, and he'd pull into the gas station. The pump was a funny thing with a big lollipop-looking thing on top that proudly proclaimed the price - 25c. Of course, those were the days of the penny postcard and the three cent stamp.

After my parents divorced, Dad gave my mother the princely sum of $100 a month child support, until I turned eighteen. No alimony. My mother was too proud. She was also virtually unemployable, being deaf, and with only a grade school education. Our rent was $80 a month. She worked in a laundry to supplement the child support. How on earth did she do it?

For one thing, kids didn't need $100 sneakers then, and none of us had cell phones or computers. In late August, Mom would take me shopping for school clothes. I'd get a pair of shoes, a winter coat, three blouses, three sweaters and a couple of skirts. That was it. And I was happy with it.

I don't remember ever being hungry. There was always bread (25 cents a loaf), and milk, and eggs, and peanutbutter. And we ate an awful (and I do mean AWFUL!) lot of tapioca pudding.

My father even gave me an allowance. A quarter a week. It was enough. Movies cost ten cents for the Saturday matinee, until the dreadful day when the government added a penny tax.

What do kids get today for a high school graduation gift? My mother made me a dress. My father gave me my first watch. No - that's a lie, because I did have a Mickey Mouse wrist watch at some point earlier.

Enough of this! I'm starting to feel like Granny, repeating herself, telling stories of the good old days.

Don't forget to play the Vocabulary Game to donate FREE RICE for the hungary. See the sidebar under Also of Interest.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Five long years ago today, the United States of America invaded the country of Iraq.

How much longer? How many more lives, American and Iraqi, must be lost?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


This morning, in reading thepagansphinx blog, I discovered - well, a number of things - but among them, this clever site. Dave Walker does some great cartoons, and invites us all to use them in our blogs. I'm a real sucker for cartoons. I have the greatest admiration for those who can say so much in a one liner under a simple drawing. (One of my favorites is Ann Telnaes.)

Anyway, I just had to try it. So here is one of Dave Walker's cartoons that I particularly like.

This one is not world-shaking - just fun.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Stimulus Checks

Good morning.

Yesterday my oldest daughter sent me an email, suggesting that I use it in my blog.

According to an article in the Detroit Free Press, written by columnist Susan Tompor, the mailing of the much discussed tax rebate, or stimulus checks is not dependent on how quickly we get our 2007 income tax forms into the mail, as many of us believed. Instead, it is to be done depending on the last two digits in our Social Security numbers. This may not come as a surprise to many people, but I had not heard about it. Maybe I don't read the papers closely enough. I certainly had not heard about it on TV.

If you're interested, this is the schedule the Detroit Free Press says will be followed:

Assuming that your tax return is filed on time, and that you request direct deposit of any refund, if the last two digits of your Social Security number are:
00-20 your check should be deposited May 2
21-75 May 9
76-99 May 16

If you do not request direct deposit - or if you will pay taxes instead of getting a refund
00-09 May 16
10-18 May 23
19-25 May 30
26-38 June 6
39-51 June 13
52-63 June 20
64-75 June 27
76-87 July 4
88-99 July 11

Of course, if you have any kind of financial trouble such as past due taxes, or are delinquent on student loans or child support, you may not get a stimulus check. You may receive a letter from the government telling you where it will be applied.

One thing puzzles me. That next to last entry. Are checks going to be mailed on a holiday?

Well, there it is. I don't understand why the Detroit paper carried this, and the papers that I see did not, or why I had heard nothing on TV. (Though, truthfully, I don't listen too closely to what passes for news on TV. I think I've mentioned that before.) I did go to the IRS web site, and, sure enough, mailing will be based on the Social Security numbers.

Seems kind of sad to me that I haven't felt much excitement about the possibility of receiving "extra" money from the government, and I don't know anyone else who appears to be very excited about it either. There seems to be a general feeling of "I'll believe it when I see it."


Ten more months, folks. Can we make it for that long?

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Villas Girl,

First - aren't these lovely? My friend, Lisa, the Villas Girl, sent them to me by email this morning.

What a nice way to start my day! Thank you, Lisa.

And check out her blog to see what else she did for me.


Have you ever Googled yourself? I'm sure most people have.

Some time ago I decided to see if I could find a high school friend with whom I had lost touch. She and her husband had moved repeatedly all over the U.S. This woman has what I think of as an unusual name, and her husband's name is definitely odd, so I didn't think it would present much of a problem. How wrong can you get? I found six women with the same name and their husband's names were also the same. Since I didn't want to contact six people and freak them out be asking all kinds of questions, I gave up the search.

But this started me wondering how easy it would be for someone to find me. Believe me, this can get scary. I found me, with many entries for Flickr and blogs. But I couldn't believe how many other people there were with my name. There is a woman who is involved with the Girl Scouts, one who is a notary down in Boca Raton, another entry in Spanish that I never did figure out. And finally, the scary one. This gal not only has my name, but lives in the same general area. And she has been investigated concerning the deaths of two small children. Do you think if any old friend decides to look me up, they just might decide to back off?

While I was at it, I decided to Google my children. They were pretty interesting. For two of them there was nothing about them personally, but all sorts of nice other people with their names. One of the others did have an entry for herself. Then the fourth, Kitty, has dozens of entries concerning her writing, poetry, hosting on NPR, etc. I didn't even finish reading hers to find out if there was anyone else with her name.

It can be a fun way to waste some time. Try it, you might be surprised at what you find. But if you're looking for a long-lost friend, don't believe everything you read.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Six Word Memoir

On March 13 I was tagged for a six word memoir by Sandpiper, whose blog you will find here. To find her own six word memoir, look for her March 13th post called Boardwalking I.

Sandpiper did a fine job, despite her protests that she has not been blogging long, and knows little about such things. I haven't been blogging much longer than she. I have been tagged for one other meme, which I did the best I could for. This time, while I will attempt to do a six word memoir, I am afraid I will not go on to tag others. I found that it was not something most bloggers I happen to know really want to do. Or, those
who are willing, have all been tagged so often that I hesitate to ask them to do another. So I think what I will do is throw it out there, saying, anyone who is interested, please feel free.

The reason I am doing it is that I find this particular one interesting and challenging. I thought about it a long time. All I came up with for myself is this: I will turn 76 this weekend. I am the last member of the older generation of my family still living. I have been
a widow for 32 years. Two of my four children, and all of my grandchildren live in other states, and I seldom see them. Most of my old friends are also deceased, and the handful who are left are scattered across the United States. Thank heaven for the computer and email! All of this leaves me with six words:

Photographs bring loved ones close again.


If any of you agree with me that this little exercise is worth some time,
these are the rules:

The meme rules are:
1. Write your own six word memoir
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like
3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere
4. Tag five more blogs with links
5. And don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

I do not know how to comply with the rule about the original post, because I do not know where this one started. And, as I have said, I am not goiing to tag five others. Sorry, Sandpiper, I just don't think I can do that this time. But it is a fun one, and I hope the others you have tagged will follow all the rules.

It's Here At Last

I knew it would come, but I was getting so very impatient. Other people's gardens showed signs of it, but nothing was happening in mine.

But at last I think it has come.

Some of these are from my garden. Some are from my daughter's (which I planted when I owned the house so I sort of still feel the garden is mine - just a little bit).

It can only get better from here on.

It's amazing to me, how much my spirits are lifted by the sight of a few
flowers. I feel it when I see them anywhere,
but when they are in my
own garden, it's just the best ever!

Next it will be the flowering almond.

And what I enjoy the most is to find flowers that I have all but forgotten, suddenly springing back to life and surprising me.

The crocuses do that every year. Is it possible
that the squirrels move them around sometimes? Or is it just that I have
a practically non-existent short term memory? In any case, they always come as a nice surprise, showing up where I least expected them.

It's here! Spring has arrived at last!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wonderful Wednesday

Thanks to those who answered about the flower. Kitty has some doubts about it, but says it does attract snails just like the Nile Lily, sadly. Apparently snails are a really bad problem out there.
Except for my grandson. He loves them.

I called this "Wonderful Wednesday" because I just came from visiting Wyetta, and she is doing great! I was so happy to find her with a big grin on her face when I walked in. And when I greeted her, she SAID "Hello. How are you?" I haven't heard her voice in a long, long time. But today the ventilator is gone, and she is talking again. In fact, she chatted away most of the hour I spent with her. I think if I had been that long without really speaking, you wouldn't be able to shut me up. Lately, when I have been there, she has been very depressed, and sure she would never get home again. Today she was full of news about how she will soon be moving out of the section she is in now, and will have an electric scooter to move around in. She doesn't know if she will be able to walk again, but is pretty enthusiastic about the idea of getting home at least in a few months. She's talking about her flowers at home, wishing she could be there soon enough to see them this spring, but saying maybe she'll be there to see the fall foliage. So, yes. This Wednesday is definitely wonderful.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Flower Time

Kitty and Mike have some wonderful flowers in their garden in California. Here's one they have had for a couple of years now. I love it. They sent me a few seeds, and the Villas Girl and I are going to try it. There's just one thing. None of us knows the name of this flower. Does anyone out there have an idea? Doesn't really matter. We'll enjoy it, whatever it is. We just call it a blue star, but that isn't really very accuracte to describe it. Just curious.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Old Stomping Grounds

It looks like a really beautiful day out there. I was headed out to see what I could see, but the car wouldn't start. Called my son, who will stop by after work. Meantime, I guess I am blogging.

Every once in a while there are scenes on TV news of places that I remember well, but they are no longer as I remember them. One such place that appears quite often is the 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby, PA. These days it is likely to be the site of a murder or something equally as disturbing. I remember it so differently.

When I was five, and six, and seven, my mother would take me into the 69th Street area to shop. We would go up the hill on one side of the street and down the other. We would start at the department store on the corner. I guess I knew that store by heart. The best part was pa
ying for our purchases when the salesgirl put the money into a metal cylinder and sent it through the pneumatic tube - Whoooooosh! - and waiting for the change and sales slip to come back. Remember that? As children, we loved it.

My mother was deaf. She read lips perfectly under ordinary circumstances, but occasionally a sales person would turn away while still talking. Then it was my job to relate the missed information. It made me feel very grown up and important.

For some reason I loved to watch my mother buy stockings. She made it quite a ritual, looking at different shades and weights, running her hand inside the tops of the stockings and holding them up to the light. This puzzled me because she always ended with the same kind.

I also liked buying shoes for myself. I never liked the choice. They were usually ugly brown oxfords. But in those days we tried them on and then stood with our feet inside an x-ray machine and could look down and wiggle our skeleton toes. That made it worthwhile.

Then we would start up the hill, stopping here and there, mostly window shopping. At the top was Kresgies Five and Dime. I got to pick out a small toy there. Then on across the street and down the other side. The very best was at the bottom of the hill again. Schneider's made their own candy and ice cream. We sat at a little round table and ate a pointed scoop of ice cream, served in a round metal dish. There has never been, nor ever will be better ice cream than that! If I got really lucky, Mother would buy a pound of butter creams, half chocolate and half vanilla, before we headed back to the terminal.

Another place I see on TV often is the Aronamink Golf Club. As a youngster, the golf course meant only one thing - sledding! It was a long walk from our house, but it was the best. One of the hills there was almost as good as a roller coaster. Naturally, we called it Dead Man's Hill. One of my earliest admirers (about age eight) used to let me go down, belly-flopping, on top of him, because I was afraid to do it alone. Georgie was a sweetheart. He gave me my first kiss, too. We were in the very front row at a Saturday matinee. Gregory Peck, in Days of Glory, at the Waverly Theater in Aronamink. He told me he loved me. Sadly, I did not return the feeling, and let him know it. But he seemed to bounce back from the disappointment pretty quickly.

Other sites flash on the screen. I don't recognize some of them even though they have familiar names. Isn't that where the bowling alley used to be? I thought the Baptist Church was there on Garret Road. I know the Hoagie Shop was there on Burmont Road. That's where I entered one day to find the old Italian lady sobbing into the sandwiches she was making. I asked what was wrong, and she told me she had just heard that Franklin Roosevelt was dead. (At sixteen, he was the only president I had ever known.) And I recognize that corner, where Schline's Delicatessan used to be. They had the most wonderful cookies in big canisters, and Mrs. Schline always handed me an extra one.

I wonder if I would find my way around the old neighborhood if I returned today?

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Another Reason to Love Blogging

Remember, back on February 29, when I wished my friend, Jack, a happy birthday? But I said that he would not see the blog entry, because he "doesn't do computers". Well, he saw it!

Let's see if I've got this right. Maryknoll's "Community Outreach Coordinator" saw it. From there it was sent to the Council Secretariat Supervisor, who figured out it might be for Jack, known to them as Father John, of course. Yea!!

He says he celebrated with a birthday dinner with friends.

Jack's friend, Debbie, who types letters for him, also has a computer, and between us we can probably communicate with him a bit more often than I have in the past. I'm so grateful to all those who had a hand in passing along my birthday message, and especially to Debbie. Perhaps she and I will also become friends. That would be nice. I've sent her my url of course.

So - Hi there, Jack! Hi, Debbie! And thanks to Blogger. You did us a favor.

The Elders

Have you heard of The Elders? I learned of them through a blog post from the pagan sphinx.

They are an international group of men and women, including such people as Nelson Mandela and Jimmy Carter, who are working to hold governments and their leaders accountable to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The rights of all seem to me to be so basic that I cannot comprehend the idea that they could be ignored. I understand, of course, that they are ignored every day, even by the leaders of our own country. Note the bill Mr. Bush just vetoed. It leaves me stunned and appalled.

"For the last 60 years it‘s been governments that have been asked to sign the Universal Declaration.

We hope that 2008 can be the year that individuals, not just governments, sign the declaration.

We‘re hoping for one billion signatures from across the world.
We want yours to be one of them." - The Elders

Please take a look at the sites and think about signing the declaration. Thanks.

Friday, March 7, 2008


I seem to be having a small problem today. I cannot access comments to my posts. Nor can I access the comments to other people's posts, so I can't tell you how great you are!

Hopefully, this problem will go away soon, as so many others have in the past. Meantime, if anyone has asked me a question and is waiting for an answer - it may be a while.

But the good news is - lying in bed this morning about 5:30, I became aware of songbirds outside. Haven't heard them in so long. This must mean SPRING !!!

Thursday, March 6, 2008


I miss visiting with Wyetta. I miss our talks, sitting at her kitchen table. We would talk about literature, art, travel, religion, gardening, the environment, our children, the general state of the world, our memories from childhood, photography. I'd often bring photos to show her. Except for my husband, I found I had more in common with Wyetta than with anyone else in this world. We share an outlook on life.

We have known one another for more than thirty years. In "the good old days" we spent many hours together - often with our children as well - always with cameras in hand, roaming the beautiful Jersey shore, fields and forests.

I don't see Wyetta often these days. For many months we never saw one another at all. I wrote to her, but she couldn't write back. It wasn't a very satisfactory arrangement. For well over a year now, Wyetta has been in hospitals or nursing homes. Today she finds herself in a convalescent facility within an hour's drive of my home, and every couple of weeks I manage a visit.

It's usually early morning when I start up the Parkway. I pull into one of the parking areas, hoping against hope to find an empty space somewhere near the rear door of the building. Sometimes I get lucky. It's a long walk down the hallway, no matter how close the parking. I don't do long walks very well these days. It's a very cheery building though. Lots of windows looking out onto pleasant landscaping. Several large community areas with comfortable seating and big screen TV's. Best of all, the staff is always smiling and friendly, from the men mopping the floors and the young women who change the bed linen, through the nurses and therapists. All are courteous and ready to help either patients or visitors.

Wyetta's room is near the end of the corridor, in the respiratory unit. Her face al
ways lights up when she sees me. It's a little difficult to give her a hug and kiss. The trach gets in the way. But we manage. I usually bring her fresh fruit. She claims the food is terrible, and sometimes her breakfast tray is still in the room, untouched. She makes short work of an apple or a bunch of grapes. We'll chat for a while. Well, I chat. She mouths the words while I try to read her lips. At least once or twice during the visit she'll tell me, "I want to go home!" When I took her a picture of her house, she held it and stared at it for a long time. I took her a picture of herself that I had put onto the cover of Vogue, through She got a kick out of that one. I asked if she thought her daughters might enjoy being put on a magazine cover. She told me "Ebony", but magmypic doesn't offer that one.

I don't stay too long with her. She tires easily. So it's another hug, and I say good-bye til next time. Wyetta is such a beautiful person. I am very fortunate to have her in my life.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A Day in Monterey

Came across a paper I had typed eight years ago, about one day during a visit to my family in California. I would like to share it with you. I cannot believe that photos of that day are not availble at the moment. This is one that Mike took of Kitty at another time, in the same general area where our day began. It at least gives a sense of the beauty of the place.

A very full day.

Our first adventure started at Garrapata (Tick) Park. We drove out past Point Lobos and past the abalone beach. At the park, we hiked along a short trail, high above the rocks and waves. So very beautiful! A short trail for Mike - a long one for me. But well worth it. Had I been doing it alone, I probably would have taken two or three times as long. Despite the cold wind, the exertion left me really warm. I had dressed anticipating cold wind on the water later in the day.

My favorite moment on this hike was watching a gorgeous hawk, perched high above, surveying his domain. Many wild flowers bloomed along the way. I always enjoy flowers blooming in February, while I'm thinking of the frozen earth back east. And the views below us were spectacular.

After our hike, we went on to our much anticipated whale watching.

Downtown Monterey is really nice. From there, we headed on foot toward the Bay, continuing through a lovely park/plaza, clean and bright, with extremely nice shops and restaurants, flowers blooming everywhere, fountains, the Old Customs House, and the Maritime Museum. Then we reached Fishermen's Wharf. Now, Fishermen's Wharf in Monterey is a historic place (built in 1846, the first stone pier, etc.) but it's pretty nasty. It's the only spot I know of in Monterey that is not beautiful - tacky souvenir shops, very suspicious seafood stands, dirt and litter, and crowds of people - mostly tourists. But at the end are the whale watching boats. At that point, the water looks dark and dirty. The sea lions and shore birds are raucous and crowd one another like the people on the pier. Sea lions often climb aboard some of the old boats anchored there. They're pretty comical.

Once aboard the whale watcher, it all changes.

The water of Monterey Bay is incredibly blue. We had a gloriously sunny day and really choppy water. We bounced and slapped our way past the City of Monterey and then Pacific Grove, watching the giant waves break wildly over coastal rocks, sending spray higher than we could believe. What a view of Point Pinos Lighthouse! It was easy to spot Pebble Beach because of the huge balloon above it for the AT&T Tournament being held there.

We had hoped to see orcas which had decided to visit the area the previous week, but they had moved on. We did spot gray whales. What a thrill! They are amazing! It wasn't easy to stand at the rail, and harder to photograph due to the pitching of the boat, but what fun!

By this time I was exhausted, but very happy.

Back on land, Mike told us about a road he had seen on one map, but which didn't appear on others. He was curious and wanted to go exploring. So long as I could just sit in the car while he drove, I was up for it, so we headed for Carmel Valley and Robinson's Canyon Road.

This nine mile long road is very narrow - barely two car widths, and with many one lane bridges. It's an ear-popping steep climb full of hairpin curves and double S curves, through a forest of wonderfully twisted, moss covered tree trunks, branches hung with feathery lichens, and lots of redwoods, which are always mysterious and awe inspiring. Between them, breath-taking views. The danger of plunging hundreds of feet to destruction seemed pretty certain at any given moment. Then, unbelievably, as we rounded a curve, dead ahead we saw a big old cow, out for a stroll, coming toward us down the middle of the road. She did allow us to creep past her, then she ambled on, as disinterested as only a cow can be.

The road eventually began to descend. We saw a ranch house off to the right below us, with no clue how to reach it. Then we saw a small house on our left, right on the road. The road seemed to be petering out. A second, rather dubious looking one, branched off, and at its head was a collection of mail boxes and a sign saying "Private". We had to wonder just how the mailman managed the trip. We started back the way we had come.

Along the way we spotted a bobcat. After a few miles we looked far down the canyon and saw a cowboy, complete with white hat, riding along behind his dog. Maybe they were out searching for the wandering cow? We were on the lookout for her too, and found her, grazing calmly, standing like a mountain goat on the steep slope. She ignored us.

A very full day.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Linux vs. MicroSoft

What to do? I will probably be wondering that all month long.

At the end of March my daughter and son-in-law and their three year old will be visiting! That's exciting! But once they arrive I will have to have made up my mind.

My son-in-law, Mike, is, at least in my opinion, a computer genius. He is responsible for the fact that the system I use on my computer is Linux, rather than MicroSoft. I love my Linux! It is far easier, faster, cleaner, all kinds of good stuff, than MicroSoft. I would really hate to give it up.
I really hate MicroSoft. BUT....

It seems that everything in the world of electronics is geared to MicroSoft. My camera, printers, just about anything you can name, no longer comes with a nice, easy to follow paper user's manual. It comes with a user's manual on a CD which must be played through a computer and is compatible only with MicroSoft. Many videos and some very interesting sites on the web are not compatible with Linux. Or, if they can be made compatible, I can't figure out how to download them. I am not very computer literate, and Linux language (or Simply Mepis) is still a mystery to me. Oh, let's face it - so is MicroSoft language, but everything Linux begins with the letter "k" so it looks more mysterious.

I won't do anything that will prevent me from handling my photos differently than I am doing now.
That would be a deal breaker.

Mike will bring what's needed to convert me to MicroSoft if I decide to go that direction. But should I do that? Can I bring myself to abandon my beloved Linux? I have 25 days to decide.
Tune in next week, and learn whether I have made up my mind.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


The gardening catalogs keep coming in the mail. I still look through them and plan my imaginary garden even though I know it will never come to be.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a part of Pennsylvania where you could just sort of look at a spot on the ground and think about what you'd like to have there, and it would start to grow spontaneously. My mother always had flowers. And when I was a child, each summer I had a little vegetable plot with a row of carrots, a row of beets, and one of parsley.

In my twenties, I moved to New York's Long Island. Again - no problem with gardening. I never read a book on the subject. Just went by instinct. Our garden was always full of whatever flowers took my fancy each year. Everything thrived.

Then I moved to New
Jersey. The "Garden State". For several years I filled the yard with flowers and sometimes tried new things, out of curiosity. One year I grew peanuts and cotton successfully. One summer was filled with Jerusalem artichokes.

But now I am an old lady and unable to stay out in the sun very long and cannot do much digging or weeding. I miss having my gardens. But I do have my bulbs to present me with spring gifts, and a few perennials to bring the butterflies. And there are lots of pots here and there. I s
till like to try new and different things now and then. A dwarf orange tree might be fun.

It never ceases to amaze - a simple little seed, eventually turning itself into something so very beautiful. I cannot imagine a life without the opportunity to watch things grow - plants - or children. They are both exciting to observe and bring so much pleasure to our lives. And, of course, sometimes frustration and/or disappointment. But there's always hope for the next season. Something to look forward to - to plan for. Anticipation is what keeps us keeping on.

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. - Anonymous