Monday, June 30, 2008

Voices In the Attic

I think I may be "going 'round the bend" as they say.

Actually, I'm sure there is a logical explanation, but if there is I haven't discovered it yet.

This is the mystery:

When I sit at my computer desk, I hear voices. Can't make out the words, but there are definitely voices - like a radio perhap
s? The computer desk backs on the wall between my living room and bed room. And when I am in bed at night - yep - I hear voices.

My first thought was that some time ago, someone must have been working in the attic and left a radio turned on up there. (I have never been in the attic in this house, since it is only accessible by ladder.) Understand, I was in bed at the time and half asleep. But even half asleep, I quickly rejected that idea, since I don't believe there's an electrical outlet up there, and a battery would have gone dead long since. Besides, the only one who has been up there in the past eight years has been my son, who installed a ceiling fan for me ages ago. and I haven't heard these voices until fairly recently.

I suppose it really is a radio, and that there's some kind of quirk that brings the sound into my home somehow. I'd love to know how it's happening.

I remember when we lived in North Cape May on a very busy street, back in 1978, we used to get police calls coming through our TV every so often. That was pretty weird. Have
n't run into this sort of phenomenon since then.

These voices really annoy me - mostly because I can't tell what they are saying. I'd really like to be able to identify them.

Hmmmm - I do have satellite dishes on the roof......

And there are lots of others ar

wonder if there have been any UFO sightings lately.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


As you might have noticed, I love to take pictures. If it isn't people I know and love, and if it isn't flora or fauna, I even
take pictures of things. I'll take a picture of pretty much anything. For example: This image was on the top of a flyer distributed a few years ago advertising the Monterey Rubber Chicken Poetry Slam and Open Mic, which my daughter co-hosted at the time. The chicken was drawn by her friend, Bridgette, a great cartoonist. (Yes, the winner received a rubber chicken.)

Some things I photograph are more aesthetically pleasing - at least to me. This is the underside of the gazebo roof at Leaming's Run Gardens.

And then, there are signs. I seem to take pictures of a lot of signs.

Many things related to Cape May of course.

The Parkway sign, the Concrete Ship, the sign welcoming visitors to the park.

Not all signs are quite so welcoming. And I'm definitely not the only one who photographs signs. My daughter took this one in Hungary, protesting McDonald's proposing to put the Golden Arches in their quaint little town.

I don't blame them. Have you ever tasted the out-of-this-world version of a hamburger you can buy in a kiosk in Eastern Europe? Who would want Mickey D's after eating one of those? And who would want the arches spoiling the beauty of one of their quaint little towns?

Here's another sign I love. It's in front of my favorite garden stand.

And then, there's another kind of sign entirely.

Another daughter's doing.

I have to include one more, because it's one of my favorites. It's in Pacific Grove, CA.

I take pictures of BIG things, to send to my three year old grandson. I like to send him an email once in a while.

And sometimes, I take pictures of very small things. This may be considered flora I guess, but it's my blog and I'll include it if I want to!

There's one more picture I love because it's of a basket of shells I keep near the front door. They remind me of a very pleasant day spent on the beach. Every one of these shells was collected on that same day. We had had a storm the day before, and hundreds of shells were washed up. I love sea shells.

And I think I'd better close now. I could play with my pictures
all day. I never seem to get tired of them. But if my readers came here anticipating an interesting story, I'm afraid they must be disappointed. It's just a long, quiet afternoon, and I'm playing a little.

Tomorrow is also a day. Maybe I'll do better then.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thank You Gina

Gina, aka the Pagan Sphinx, has seen fit to present me with the Arte y Pico Award.
This award is given for creativity, design, interesting material, and contribution to the blogging community.

I feel so honored that Gina has presented me with this award because she is someone I truly admire and respect. In the six short months that I have been blogging I have come to think of her as a friend, and have watched in awe as she takes a stand and speaks out on whatever she believes needs to be addressed in our world - always well informed on her subject - voicing her argument with calm logic.

The rules for this award are as follows:

l.) Choose five blogs that you consider deserve this award for creativity, design, interesting material, and for contributing to the blogging community, no matter what language.

2.) Each award must have the name of the author and a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.

3.) Each award winner must show the award and put the name and link to the blog of the one who has given the award.

4.) The award winner and the one giving the award must show a link to "Arte y Pico" blog, so that everyone knows its origin. That link is here: Arte y Pico

The bloggers to whom I would like to extend this award are:

Lisa at Ramblings of a Villas Girl, for her down to earth observations of every day life, and her great photography. She has owned a camera for a very short time, but is already producing some really wonderful pictures. She's a natural. Besides, I love the girl.

Nina at Nature Remains, who gently and beautifully teaches us about the natural world and all its creatures. She accompanies her posts with some of the most marvelous photographs I have ever seen. I must go to her blog every day.

Ann, for two blogs: Nature Tales and Camera Trails and Varying Seasons, which is strictly a photo blog. Known as Me Ann My Camera, she too offers us an amazing closer look at the creatures with whom we share this planet, as well as earth, sky and water, reminding us to pause and observe.

Kathie, who lives in Sycamore Canyon, whose vivid descriptions of her world let us picture the desert of Arizona and the birds as clearly as if we were there with her, and for her poetry, and for her very real concern for our environment.

And finally, Island Rambles. This blog, from Vancouver, Canada, just fascinates me. She offers photographs, videos and narration on everything from whales and soaring eagles, to local history, beach-going and fairs. It's a joy to explore.

May I echo what Gina has written about both Dianne at Forks Off the Moment, and Singing Bear at Tiz Yer Tiz. I love them both very much and read everything posted by each of them.

I hope that the recipients all understand how much I admire them. They should not feel obligated to appoint any or all five to receive further awards unless they wish to do so.

As Gina would tell you - Peace to all.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sky Watch Friday

St. Peter's By the Sea Episcopal Church, in Cape May Point, NJ. is a tiny wooden church, b
uilt in 1876, often called "The Gingerbread Church". Originally it was located a bit farther to the west, but was moved back from the shore and the encroaching sea. Today it stands on the corner of Harvard Avenue and South Lake Drive, across the street from the dunes which protect it from the water.

Many years ago, my great-grandfather, the Reverend John Kemper Murphy, (b.1827 d.1900) preached in this church whenever he brought his family from Philadelphia to Cape May Point for summer vacation. That was my family's first connection with Cape May County.

While I have never attended this church, I have a sentimental attachment to it, and think it is a lovely little building. The gardens surrounding it are also very pretty, and attract many butterflies. In early October, during the migration of the monarch butterflies, it is a very popular spot for photographers.

This is the view of St. Peter's from the foot of the path that crosses the dunes, to the water. As you can see, it is very near. When the butterfly migration starts, flowers, trees, dune grass, everything may be covered with monarchs .
It is a breath-taking sight.

Please visit Wigger's World, the home of our host, Tom. You will find a list of all participants in Sky Watch Friday, and, thanks to Tom, you can view many wonderful pictures.

Creative Photography

I was an early bird this week, so to find my Creative Photography post, you have to go way down, five posts, to the bottom of the page. Some people complained they couldn't find it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Leaming's Run

Tuesday brought such perfect weather that I just could not stay indoors. Now that I have my rolling walker, complete with seat in case I need to rest (aka Hugo), I decided the time had come to return to my beloved Leaming's Run Gardens. It has been at least two years since I have b
een there. Even the last couple of years that I was able to make it, I couldn't do the whole walk. Since I have been visiting the gardens for thirty years, I do know some short cuts, and made use of them when I felt that I couldn't do the entire walk.

I arrived about 9:45, and was happy to see there were only one or two cars in the lot. I unloaded
Hugo and we set out on the familiar path. I greeted certain trees, familiar garden designs, benches, even spots along the path where tree roots cropped up enough to make small barriers for Hugo's wheels, as if they were old friends. A few new small gardens were pleasant surprises. The kitchen gardens around the log cabin have been expanded. I see they've planted

e Concord grape vines. And there certainly are more varieties in the hen house. I did not see any chipmunks this time, and no humming birds.

(And no, Lisa, no snakes put in an appearance.) But lots of frogs and turtles and birds.)

Many early flowers greeted me, but nowhere near what will be appearing in coming months. It's always new and different no matter how often you visit, all the way into October.

This time I just enjoyed revisiting the familiar - like coming home again. I enjoyed the trees and ferns and water, and the patterns of sun and shadow constantly changing.

Hugo served me well. But by the time I had passed through the amazing stretch of tall bamboo, I was happy to see the gaze
bo, where I rested for a while.

Even after that rest, as I pushed on, I realized I was slowing down considerably.

By the time Emily's gift shop was in sigh
t, near the end of the journey, I decided I might have overestimated my abilities this time. Didn't even pause there to find out what new things she has fashioned from dried flowers.

I just pushed on, past the beautiful Leaming House, to the final trail that leads back to the parking lot.

Two hours after I had begun, it was a relief to get Hugo back into the Baretta and put myself in beside him.

Home again - exhausted - aching - but very, very happy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Memorial - Ric Masten

For those of you who enjoyed Ric Masten's poetry and art:

Ric's final book, Take 3 - Not Dead Yet, arrived in Monterey the day that he died. According to his daughter, April, the family plans to keep up his web site, but she has not yet been able to make changes to his postings to announce his death or anything about his book. She says that you can order to book if you wish. It costs $30 plus $3 postage. The address is:

SunInk Publications
37931 Palo Colorado Road
Carmel, CA 93923

I had to smile when I read that address. I recall a day while I was visiting my daughter and her family in Monterey, when we went exploring around Carmel. It's such beautiful country, and we followed roads we had not yet explored. I wrote about that day some time back, telling about the breath-taking ride on a mountain road, during which time we navigated some hairpin turns and were suddenly stopped dead by a cow standing in the middle of the road. That same day as we were heading home, son-in-law Mike turned off the highway and told me that he was going to show me how some people lived in the Big Sur country. We drove up another steep, wooded road where the redwoods and other trees grew so thick that they made the bright, sunny day seem almost twilight. That was Palo Colorado Road.

In an article in the Monterey County Herald, last updated on June 21st, Laith Agha wrote about a memorial service held for Ric. He spoke of Ric's poetry books, 23 of them, and his music. He recorded 92 songs.

Ric was also an ordained minister. His "marrying robe" was special. When he married a couple he asked them to embroider something on his robe. If they divorced, he said they had to return and unstitch the embroidery.

His son-in-law, Tom Hunt, remembered fondly that he had said "the real teacher of your life is you" and "take your sun glasses off every once in a while and look people in the eye" In my book, that's real good advice.

The Monterey Herald put part of the memorial service on line:

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Lisa, the Villas Girl, and I celebrated the first day of summer yesterday. She called and asked me if I'd like to take a ride to see if we could find the osprey nest she'd heard about. Of course I would.

We took the scenic route, getting there. I love being a passenger instead of driver. I get to look around more.

The ospreys are nesting on boxes placed in the wetlands fairly close to the highway. I am surprised at the proximity to traffic, but it certainly makes for easier photography. When we reached the spot, both parent birds were on the nest. When we stopped, papa got agitated and circled us the whole time we were there.. Mama continued to feed their three chicks, and I got some fairly decent pictures. Lisa's camera is better than mine, and she got some really stunning shots. I'm sure she will post some soon.

When we decided to move on, I told Lisa that we were not far from Hereford Inlet. We decided to go there before heading home.

The gardens are
well established now. I think they will be lovely, as usual when they have a chance to do some more growing. Right now there are lots of lilies everywhere. There are also some hollyhocks - one of my favorite old fashioned flowers.

We also got an added surprise. Lisa started clim
bing the steps to the lighthouse entrance, when she said, "Is that a duck?" It was. A female mallard was walking back and forth in the garden under the steps. Lisa continued into the gift shop, and spoke to a woman there, who immediately grabbed a bag of grain and ran out to feed the duck. It seems that Mr. and Mrs. Mallard appear there every year. They never bring their babies, but one at a time shows up for a hand-out.

The duck enjoyed her meal for a while, and then walked over to a garden hose which was coiled up near the building. The woman called a gentleman to come out,
and he went to the hose and turned it on, making a puddle for the duck to drink from. She was very territorial, chasing away the pigeons who tried to join the party.

We had a lovely afternoon.

As always - click on pictures to enlarge.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


It's time once again to fight the battle of the ivy. No matter how often I try to dig it up away from the house, no matter how often I scrape it out from under the shingles or away
from the paving, it comes back.

And when it comes back, this is what happens.

And this, too.

Wouldn't it be nice if everything I planted grew as strong and beautiful?

Actually, my little garden plot is doing very well so far, thank you. The wild flowers are crowding one another quite a bit, due to the hard rain we got right after I planted the seeds. But I think wild flowers will survive that. The sun flowers around the back of the garden are looking fine, and the butterfly bush I planted last year seems to be almost ready to blossom. So I'm a happy camper. The veggies haven't really got started yet.

I give credit for the success to the fact that I laid wire mesh over the garden after planting, so my neighbor's cats were thwarted in attempts to use my garden for their litter box.
That's what has happened many times in previous years. No amount of pepper, nor any other means of keeping them away has worked. Now if only I could find a means of keeping them off my car. I always have little kitty footprints over the hood, windows, top and trunk, and I don't dare leave a window open or I find one curled up on the seat. Don't understand why, if you have a pet, you don't keep it in the house except for exercise time. My neighbor has five cats, and the only time she ever sees them is when they come home to eat, then they run right out again, looking for ways to harass the neighbors.

Well, this didn't start out as a bitchy blog, so I'd better end right here.

Creative Photography

This is kind of fun. I enjoyed visiting the other bloggers who entered posts in Creative Photography last week to see what sort of pictures they came up with.
There was quite a variety, and I loved most of them.

I believe that I included this picture in a blog post that I wrote a while back, about butterflies. I have cropped it a bit. The picture is of sleeping butterflies, and was taken a few years ago during the monarch butterfly migration in Cape May, NJ. I had no idea at the time that butterflies sleep, clinging to trees and bushes. They look like leaves on the mimos
a tree.
If you look closely, you can make out the orange of the butterflies' wings. When I took the picture, the sun was going down and light was fading fast - hence the need for the butterflies to find a place to sleep for the night.

If you would like to enter, follow the link to Creative Photography , read the rules and sign up before next Thursday afternoon.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


A favorite spot for me to visit is the Wetlands Institute. There is lots to see inside, but I have often spent my time out of doors. The gardens are really wonderful, and often full of butterflies - my favorites. Behind the building, a long trail runs through the wetlands to the water.

A year or two ago I found a whole tree full of swallows along the trail.

The next picture was not taken at the Wetlands Institute,
but I think it may be appropriate to include it, since it is
so like the tree full of swallows.

This one is a tree full of turkey vultures, not at the Wetlands, but was taken on a country road not too far from the scene.

Our friend, Tom, is kind enough to host Sky Watch every week. The project has grown to 225 participants from all over the world.

The list of links to all the posts can be found at his blog, Wigger's World.

Creative Photography

Saw the link to this on Dianne's blog. It sort of appealed to me and I started looking through old pics. What the heck. I'll give it a try. Don't know just how creative this is, but I kind of like it. Click on picture to enlarge.

Aboard the Whale Watcher - Creative Photography

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Summers at the Shore

Since we lived in the suburbs of Philadelphia when I was very small, summertime always meant at least a week spent "down the shore". To our family, that meant Ocean City, New Jersey. It was a dry town, a family town, and had the nicest beach we knew. It also meant a stay at one of the big rooming houses - the ones at least three stories tall, with many steps leading up to porches which wrapped around the first floor - porches lined with highbacked rocking chairs, and shaded with striped awnings.

My mother and I, and often a neighbor, a friend or an aunt, would board the bus in Philly for the long ride. I never minded the ride. I always had a window seat, and enjoyed watching the changing scenery, excitement mounting as it turned into sun and sand as we approached our destination. I would be wearing a sundress and sandals, but Mother would be wearing one of her best dresses, and white shoes, and a hat - always a hat - and gloves. I do remember one memorable trip when the weather did not cooperate. The walk from the bus station to the rooming house was made in the rain, and by the time we got there Mother's hat was ruined and her dress was shrinking.

As we'd reach the house, I always peeked around the corner of the building to be sure there was an outside shower. That delighted me. When we came from the beach we took a shower out-of-doors to get rid of the sand so we wouldn't track it into the house.

Our days there followed a pattern. We would have to dress to go downstairs for breakfast. The biggest treat was toasted cinnamon-raisin bread. For some reason we never had that at home. It had icing on
top! I was always anxious to get to the beach, but first, Mother had to have her second cup of coffee. Then we would go up and change into bathing suits at last, and head for the oceanside. The ladies had their favorite spot on the beach, in sight of The Flanders Hotel. That is the landmark I always look for, even today, when I am in Ocean City.

After a morning spent jumping the waves and building sand castles, we would go up to the boardwalk and find the hot dog stand - again, right near The Flanders. There has never been a better tasting hot dog or hamburger anywhere than those from that stand on the boardwalk. Only three or fo
ur summers ago, I happened to be on that boardwalk, and found that stand, and it's true! They tasted just as good! And I'm not really that big a fan of such things. I don't suppose they could have been using the same gr... No, of course not.

After we ate and looked into a few shop windows - especially the one that sold the salt water taffy, and manufactured it right there in the window before our very eyes - we headed back to the house. I had to take a bath and then a nap in the afternoon. I don't know what the ladies did. I imagine they joined all the others in the rockers on the porch, using the palm leaf fans, and chatting with one another. It was a very rare thing if we found anoth
er child in the house. Once in a while there would be another, but mostly I was alone. Again - I didn't mind. I was used to being alone, surrounded by adults. I concocted my own little games, or just daydreamed much of the time. After my nap, I had to dress up. Then, while my mother got dressed (which took forever) I would go out and sit on the front steps with a pinwheel or a doll, to wait for her. Then we would go to dinner. Do you have any idea how long we stood in line outside a restaurant in town. I think every tourist in town tried to go to dinner at the same time. Dinner was always very, very good, when we finally got there. And then it was time to stroll the boards. I was often allowed to go on the merry-go-round or other amusements on the Kiddie Pier. My favorite was the ferris wheel. And we walked the whole length of the boardwalk and back, as it grew dark. Oh, I loved it! Allowed to stay up way past regular bed time, and see the lights and the crowds. We would end at the Music Pier, but my favorite was hanging over the railing, listening to the surf wash underneath, pretending I was aboard a ship.

By the time I fell into bed, I was more tired than I'd ever been, and I could still smell the wonderful salt air.

At the end of our visit, we would return home with tanned skin, and souveniers in our suitcases, and a couple of pounds of fudge and salt water taffy.

There were other trips to the shore. Once I went by train with a girl friend and her parents. Another time by car, with another friend, this time to Stone Harbor where we stayed in a little cottage with a pier out over the water. Had great times with them. But the best was always the rooming house with its porches and rockers and palm leaf fans. How times do change! Today's children wouldn't be satisfied with that kind of visit, would they? Wouldn't likely be taking naps and dressing for dinner either. But I kind of miss it. Maybe I'll ride over to Ocean City and take a stroll on the boardwalk. Might even look for that hot dog stand.

The picture above is NOT mine. It was done by professionals: Senior Studio in Ocean City, and is of Gillian's Fun Deck, taken in 1936. I was probably there then, and many successive years.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Pictures I Will Never See Again

My mother was the keeper of the photographs. She loved her big old Brownie box camera, and took hundreds of pictures with it. She had some in an album. Most were just thrown into a big box. I loved to go through that box every chance I got.

When Mother passed on, my sister became custodian of the pictures. That was fine. And during that time, I did some darkroom work, and copied quite a few of them. When she passed, her daughter took over everything she had. My niece is an unhappy woman who seems to feel a need to possess everything she can. Even if she doesn't really want it - it is hers, and no one else must have it. After my sister's funeral, we went back to my niece's house. She had the album and picture box there, and we spent a long time reminiscing over them. I put aside quite a few that I really wanted, and told her that I would have them copied and return the originals. She would not allow that. She insisted that she would have them copied herself. Somehow I knew this would not happen. I had my Pentax with me, and actually photographed a dozen or so. She kept saying that wasn't necessary. That was the last time I ever saw the pictures.

But no matter. They are engraved in my memory. Unfortunately, I can't show them to my children and grandchildren.

Most were taken out-of-doors. Flash bulbs weren't around back then. There are a few pictures of my mother as a child. A couple were taken in the Pocono Mountains, where her mother took her "for the air" after a bout with scarlet fever. There are several of my father's family - Grandmother sitting on the front steps, surrounded by her nine children. One really cute one of my father and one of his brothers taken at South Cape Meadows. Way in the distance you can make out Cape May Lighthouse. They spent summer vacation here even then.

There are some of Mother and Daddy and some of their friends, before they were married - long skirts and big hats. The men wore those flat straw hats. All taking silly poses, as young people do. There are beautiful pictures of my sister and brother taken before I was born. Then there are pictures of my own life - as an infant in a big wicker carriage - with the family cat. My kindergarten picture. I can see every child in that class. There are many pictures of Jack, of course, and the DeVries kids from across the street, and other neighborhood friends. Birthday parties - my own and friends'. My mother's garden, and the house, always in the background. Our front porch. Oh yes, and my swing. Why it was hung in the doorway of the garage, I can't tell you. If you fell off on the back-swing, you landed on the cement floor. If you went flying off on the forward-swing, you hit the cinder driveway. But I didn't fall off very often.

There are pictures of us sitting on the beach in Ocean City, and of the rooming house where we stayed, and the boardwalk.

I have only one picture of Bill, my brother, in uniform in World WarII, but I remember others of him, in basic training, holding up a 7' snake he found in his sleeping bag with him when he woke up one morning; pictures of him overseas, with an English nurse; one of children in Belgium, sitting on a jeep. Then, when he came home, his wedding day. Mother and I wore the most terrible dresses to that wedding. Big shoulder pads were in at the time. Then pictures of his two daughters. My sister and her dear husband, and their daughter.

Well, it seems I don't really need to have those pictures after all. I remember them all so clearly, and they will always be with me, won't they? And the Lord knows, I've filled enough albums of my own that my children will not know what to do with them all when I've gone. I keep them in my computer, too. That seems to be what my kids do. I hope they print enough to pass on to their own families though. There's nothing like holding them in your hands and reminiscing.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Random Stuff

"Firefox cannot find a server at" - and I couldn't figure it out for myself? Had to call Villas Girl, who asked me if my modem was on. Oh yeah - the modem! I'd turned it off along with the computer last night when thunder started to rumble. - Duh.


And speaking of storms - How come we get a Weather Bureau ticker on the TV screen at 3:19pm to warn us that there is a severe storm watch in our county "until 3:30pm:? (and the sun shining brightly all afternoon) - Duh, again.


Kitty and family are home again. She promises to try to blog soon about Cape Cod. Can't wait. Hope she adds pictures - although she's already posted a lot on Flickr. I'm always hungry for more.


I have a crabby old lady question: Why do parents let their children scream? I don't mean yelling. Children yelling back and forth and laughing at play - that's fine with me. I mean shrill, blood curdling screams, as if they're being killed. If they're allowed to do that constantly, for no good reason, how are we supposed to know if they are really hurt or in danger? It's only certain children who seem to do it, and they're usually all in the same family.


It's very hot. And they say hotter tomorrow. Good Lord! It's only June!


Can you tell, it's been a quiet Sunday and I'm a little bored? I don't like being bored. It's a very uncomfortable feeling. Glad it doesn't happen often. Maybe I'll just play another game of mah jongg.


Still 218 more days.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Kit and Mike and our hope-for-the-future were in Massachusetts this past week. Mike had a business conference to attend in Cape Cod. First, they stopped at the grandparents' home for a couple of days.

Being the Other Grandmom, I can't resist the opportunity to show off a couple of pictures sent to me, of my youngest grandchild. I call this one The Eyes Have It.

And then there is Isaac, just being Isaac, while his mom is busy eating. He's making devil's horns.

And there are the three-generation pictures. I do love the one of the men of the family. The one with Grandma is pretty cute too.

Oh, OK, if you insist - here's one more. This one is of the oldest and youngest cousins, Ian and Isaac. Just because it's cute.
OK. I'll stop now.