Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Roll Top Desk

I received a catalog in the mail the other day. I receive many catalogs, and generally recycle them without a glance. But this one was full of toys and games and urged me to "share your favorite toy memory". It was supposed to sell us the old fashioned toys we remembered from our youth. I leafed through, first noticing that those good old fashioned toys had new fashioned prices, and that many also had a more modern twist than I liked. But then I saw it. A tiny version of a roll top desk with matching chair! It all came back to me.

In 1938, when I was six years old, my mother had finally agreed to divorce my father and my mother, brother and I moved from the big house to a small, semi-detached house two blocks away. We lived there for one year, until the divorce became final. It was a nice little house. Downstairs we still had living room, dining room and kitchen - just scaled down in size from the other house. Also like the other, and like many homes in those days, there was a pantry attached to the kitchen. Since there were many shelves and cabinets built in to the kitchen, my mother found this pantry almost unnecessary for her supplies, except for a few shelves where she stored canned goods. She asked me if I would like to use it as a playroom. About this time, a friend asked Mother if she would like a desk for me, since her child had outgrown it. The little desk and chair were placed in the pantry, which then became my "office". My sister was twenty years old at the time, and was a secretary in an office in the city. I adored my sister, and wanted to be just like her, so this pleased me no end.

The best part was that it was a roll top desk. I had never seen one before. I rolled that top up and down until it was a wonder it didn't break off. And there were many cubby holes and four or five drawers that offered endless possibilities. (This one doesn't have as many.) I busied myself at that desk every day. My dolls sat around the room, and I gave them orders and dictation. I was a very efficient boss. I had a little box for my pencils and pens and a space for crayons and stacks of paper.

In 1939, when I turned seven, we moved from the little house to an apartment. The little desk disappeared, as did so many things. My mother's favorite thing was throwing things away. I suppose the desk went the way of so much. Maybe that's why I tend to be a hoarder. Never want to part with anything that just might come in handy later, or maybe one of the kids will be able to use. I was pretty proud of myself eight years ago when I moved to the tiny place I live in now. I got rid of a ton of things. But I guess I was really cheating, because one of my daughters took the house I was leaving, and I have to admit that I left many, many things in the attic. They're still there.

If I had an extra $275. (plus tax and shipping) I would be tempted to buy that little roll top desk in the catalog for myself. I could put it in the back room, and who knows? - maybe my grandson would be able to use it one day.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Little More About Green Jobs

Yesterday morning I published a short piece about the Green Job Act of 2007. There were supposed to be - and I hope there were - demonstrations all over the country to get Congress to start going to work on the Act. In much of the country there have been storms and flooding, which may have put a damper on things, quite literally. I know, for instance, that I got out of bed to turn off the computer at 1: am, when I was wakened by thunderbumpers so loud they shook the house. But that sort of thing must not stop our efforts.

A farmer friend from Nebraska asked me if - in view of the fact that he uses "a John Deere mower with a six foot deck on a windy day" - does that mean he already has a Green Job? Well, yeah, Cliff. My personal opinion is that farmers have Green Jobs. I know a little about farmers. There have been a few in my family, and I am surrounded by farmland here in South Jersey. That's what we do - farming and fishing. And trying to keep the crazy tourists from tramping over the fields.

For the benefit of those of you in the Big City, farming isn't just putting seeds into the ground and waiting for them to grow. A farmer has to be a Jack of all trades, and today's farmer needs a college education to do it right.

But - what we're looking for within the Green Jobs Act of 2007 is training programs to get people into jobs such as: (and I'm quoting right from the site)

Jobs that will preserve and enhance environmental quality
Installing solar panels

Retrofitting buildings
Constructing transit lines

Refining wasted oil into biodiesel
Erecting wind farms
Repairing hybrid cars
Building green rooftops
Planting trees

The Act authorizes money to create an Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Worker Training Program. Because it would then put so many to work, it is believed to be able to "create a Green Pathway out of poverty".

Think about it.
Do something about it.

Here's the site.


Sept. 29 - Thank you, Ray, for leaving your comment.

Ray has provided three links for those already trained and interested in finding a Green Job directly. He says there are well-paying Green Jobs listed:

www.linkedin.com (networking)
www.indeed.com (aggregated listings)
www.realmatch.com (matches you to jobs)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Camera Critters #25

This morning for Camera Critters I have chosen one of my favorites. It's the end of September, and about now, or in early October each year, the monarch butterflies start their migration to Mexico. Depending on the weather, here in Cape May County, we are treated to masses of these butterflies preparing for their flight across the Delaware Bay. Here are a couple of pictures from a previous year.

One of their favorites is the goldenrod. The more goldenrod, the more butterflies.

There is another photo over on my sidebar.

You can find many more critters of all kinds at Misty Dawn's site, here.

Thank you, Misty, for hosting Camera Critters each week.

WE - Green Jobs

Today is a day of action all across the country. Groups will be demonstrating, asking for training for Green Jobs - Jobs directed at changing our way of life to construct homes and other buildings in more environmentally friendly ways and with environmentally friendly materials; jobs related to solar or wind energy; jobs related to any and al
l ways that we can free ourselves from reliance on oil.

The Gre
en Jobs Act has been allowed to languish for almost two years. Let your Congressman know that you want it to be acted upon.

Way down at the bottom of this page, below the Archives, there is a brief video concerning Green Jobs.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sky Watch #11

Today I am going back to the bay. I live only a few blocks from Delaware Bay, and I do love its many moods and changes. The day I took these pictures was clear and sunny, and the sky was pretty.

First I looked to the south. There were a couple of Hobi Cats drawn up onto the beach in back of one of the houses.

Then I looked to the north. I love the curve of the shore at this spot. The sky had an entirely different appearance in this direction.

As I left the beach, I noticed the sky again, over the tops of the trees.

The summer months almost always bring us beautiful skies, no matter if it is a sunny day or if a storm is coming - the sky is always beautiful to me.

Please stop at the Sky Watch site and thank Tom, Sandy, Imac and Klaus for their help in bringing these pictures to us.

The Bail Out

Want to protest the Bail Out?

You can join thousands of others protesting. Click on this link:

Let your Congressman know how you feel.
As of yesterday, over 100,000 letters of protest had been delivered.


Here's another choice, thanks to Dianne of Forks Off the Moment. She has suggested this means of communicating your feelings to Washington. It is
a form you can use, from Barack Obama's site. You may prefer this one.
Obama sponsored petition

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pun Intended

As you can see, I have changed the appearance of my blog a bit. I think it will make it easier for me to see. My old eyes didn't like the old look. It will also make it easier for me to put larger pictures into my posts. Hope you like it.

I should mention, in case you've never seen it - the cat picture is not mine. It's been around on emails for years now.


The following were sent to me by email.

WARNING: Do Not Read If You Hate Puns

l. The roundest knight at King Arthur's Round Table was Sir Cumference.

2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

3. She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.

4. A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because it was a method of math disruption.

5. The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.

6. No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

7. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

8. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

9. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

10. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

11. A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.

12. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

13. Two hats were hanging on a hatrack in the hallway. One said, "You stay here. I'll go on a head."

14. I wondered why the baseball seemed to keep getting bigger. Then it hit me.

15. A sign on the lawn at the drug rehab center said Keep Off The Grass.

16. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to the hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse said, "No change yet."

17. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion. (Is that a chicken joke?)

18. The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

19. The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

20. A backward poet writes inverse.

21. In Democracy it's your vote that counts. In Feudalism it's your count that votes.

22. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.

23. Don't join dangerous cults. Practice safe sects.

What can I say? Every once in a while you've just got to get a little silly.

Hope for the Future

Deborah, who writes Notes from the Cloud Messenger, has given us a message today that is well worth your time. I really needed to read this. Take a look.

Like many others, I have about reached saturation point, listening to political ads and debates and discussions, and doing my own share of ranting. I have managed to come pretty close to a melt down, worrying about what if? and why don't they?

It's time to step back, take a deep breath, and reassess. As Deborah reminded us, "if we can dream it, we can have it." We can bring about whatever we set our minds to if we work at it. The sun will continue to rise every morning. Each star in the heavens will continue on its appointed journey. And we will overcome.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Have you seen their commercial yet? I saw it on CBS last night. It's great!

If you don't know about it, you can go to their site.

There are so many possibilities. We can solve the energy crisis and climate crisis if we can convince the right people to act now. We can do it without foreign oil, without drilling in environmentally sensitive areas, without filling the pockets of greedy corporations with our money. To begin, we need a treaty among nations.


My friend, Singing Bear, left a comment on this post in which he said, we need
"a spiritual revolution rather than a political one" I think he found the right words.
And Sylvia pointed out that it can be discouraging thinking, what can just one person do? But "all of us together are not just one". You're right, Sylvia.


I have to admit, I'm proud of this one. First, because of the intent with which it is given: building solidarity among left-of-center bloggers. I guess that would be me. At least, when I look at the political picture today, I certainly don't find myself on the right, or even near the center. And second, because it came to me from Gina, at The Pagan Sphinx, who is a blogging friend for whom I feel such respect. She is passionate in her beliefs, in her desire for peace, in her love of family and of art. Most importantly, when she believes, she acts on those beliefs.

In the spirit for which this award was intended: building solidarity among left-of-center bloggers, I do want to pass it on to the following:

To Sylvia, at The View from Over the Hill. Because she keeps on top of things, and keeps us informed. Because she cares.

To Caroline, at Caroline's Crayons. Because her drawings and story lines are so touchingly relevant in today's world. Because she cares.

To Deborah, at Notes from the Cloud Messenger. Because she is so beautifully expressive, and is so concerned with what is happening to our world. Because she cares. Deborah is a Canadian. Perhaps not what one would expect to be included with U.S. Democrats and Independents, but I believe she is one of us in spirit.

To Kathryn, at Fetal Positions II. Because she, too, expresses her concerns for the future of our country and the world and longs for peace. Because she cares.

I must echo Gina's awards. I would happily name every one of them myself: Dianne at Forks Off the Moment, Ben Heine at Ben Heine - the Blog, Poetryman at The Peace Tree, Sherry at After the Bridge, Betmo at Life's Journey, Homeyra at Forever Under Construction. Every one of their blogs so worth reading. I am so honored to have been included in the list. Because they care.

To all of you - PEACE


I guess it's time for the male side of the family to be heard from.

My son was born in 1960. We were very happy now that we had one of each. It just seemed right. You know how newborns' features change so quickly day to day at first. As we were leaving the hospital, me in the wheelchair holding the baby, and Ralph walking beside us, a nurse saw us and started laughing. She said, "Well, there's no doubt whose baby that is!" It was so true. His
little face was the picture of his father's.

A month later we took him down to Pennsylvania to meet his Grandmother. We never had any trouble traveling with the children, and we were frequently on the road. Joe always slept the whole time in the car. There was no carseat requirement for children back then, which may have been a good thing for us, having three in three years. Where would we have put them all?

Here they are a few months later, getting ready for
We didn't try to put Joe into a costume, but we gave him a Robinhood hat. Even that didn't stay on very long. He wasn't very tolerant of such things. He was perpetual motion. His sister loved dressing up, so she became the little Dutch girl.
I don't think we ever bought cos
tumes. I always managed to put something together. Of course, in 1960 they were too little to care what they wore. And we never bought a TV until Ruth was five, and her kindergarten teacher asked that they watch certain programs, so they didn't ask to be dressed like any cartoon characters

By this time, my mother was living in Delaware, keeping house for her brother, whose wife had died. We visited them on the farm frequently.

Joe was always Daddy's boy. After all, he had all those sisters, and me, to contend with, so I guess that was pretty natural. Please excuse the informality of the dress in this photo. I had to include it because I love the way they are just enjoying one another so much.

Have to show you
this one. Our neighbors had a kiddie pool in their yard. This is Joe and Ruth and a couple of friends. My neighbor, Pat, and I were sitting in lawn chairs on the other side of the pool, chatting. How quickly things can happen, and how important it is to watch your children every minute! We thought we were doing that. We must have taken our eyes off them for a few seconds, because when I looked up, Joe had gone missing. Thank heaven, it was only a few seconds. He was floating, face down in the pool. The little girl and boy you see there, were just staring at him, never saying a word. Joe was fine, and wanted to get back in. I don't remember where Ruth was, but she wasn't saying anything either if she knew about it.

Joe was the happiest little kid I ever knew. Nothing bothered him much. On a few occasions he did throw a temper tantrum - wh
ich was always a surprise and seemed all the worse because it happened so seldom. Mostly he was just happy-go-lucky. He was never any trouble. He even took naps without a fuss. In fact, he would stop playing sometimes and announce that he was tired, and he'd go to bed. As he got a little older, he kind of drove me crazy being so good. We told the children not to leave the yard without telling us where they were going. He would go a step farther, and run home to tell me he was going to Tony's house when he had been playing at Nickie's house. Tony and Nickie lived next door to one another, a few door away from us. I could see their yards from our house. He never gave me any trouble - until after he graduated high school.

This is a picture of all four of the children in 1971. Kitty is sitting in "the Trojan Horse", which was given to Ruth on her first birthday, and saw hard use by all four. It got its name because one of them (Ruth, I think) at some point was in a school play, and they needed a horse for the little soldiers to drag across the stage. At present, it is in Joe's tool shed, waiting for re-painting after a little repair. But I don't know when Joe will get to it. He's a pretty busy guy. - Or maybe he's gone fishing. This is the one picture you don't want to click to enlarge. It's so old and beat up that enlarging only makes it worse.

Joe is very much like his dad in so many ways. I am so proud of him for more reasons than I can express. He is definitely one of the Good Guys in this world. Ralph would be very proud to see what his son has become. And why shouldn't he be like that? Ralph taught him just about everything he knew, and showed him how to live.

I wish that I could show you pictures of my handsome son as an adult, with his wife and step-children, and even his grandson. (I guess that makes me a
step-greatgrandmom) But Joe does not trust the internet, and has asked that none of us put him or his family in our blogs, so I can't do that. The closest I can come is this picture taken in 1974. It's a pretty awful photo, taken by a neighbor with an old Polaroid camera. It was a rush job because at the last minute, Kitty told us her kindergarten assignment was to have a picture of her whole family, so we dragged out the kids and the dog (He's standing on hind feet, in front of me), all of whom were less than willing. Rita's hiding behind Ruth because her clothes weren't deemed suitable or something. But it's the last picture of all of us together, and for that reason, one that I love.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Officially, I'm still on my vacation from politics. But I think maybe this is the way we all should go. What do you think?


The other day, Clara, of Clara's Corner, tagged me for a meme. I've been shying away from that sort of thing. But this seems like a fun little thing, so here goes.

1. Where were you ten years ago?
I was right here in South Jersey, and I was still working for the Township, but thinking of retirement and/or finding a new job. (I opted for retirement.)

2. What is on your to-do list for today?
My daughter, Rita will be here most of the day, after she cmes from church. We'll read the Sunday paper and talk, etc. It's a take it easy day.

3. What would you do if you became a billionaire?
I'd certainly want to give each of my kids a nice gift. I'd probably move to the Monterey area, or at least find myself a second home there. And I would look into what I might do to help our environment and the energy crisis.

4. What places have you lived?
I was born in Pennsylvania, and lived in a series of four homes there. Then I moved to Long Island, NY, first in Rockville Centre, then Oceanside, then in Massapequa Park. After that came southern New Jersey, and three different homes here. Hmmm - ten different homes. I feel like a gypsy.

5. What are your bad habits?
Procrastination is probably the worst. I get exasperated with my kids when they put off things I feel should be done NOW, but they come by it naturally. I do it all the time. I spend too much time on the computer. And I probably have many more. Ask my kids.

6. What snacks do you like?
Chocolate has to top the list. A plain Hershey bar - sometimes sandwiched between Saltine crackers. I do love chocolate cake or cookies. And I love pretzels or salty crackers. But I love snacking on fruit, too. An apple a day.

That's it! That's my list, Clara. I'm supposed to pass it on to three people, but I don't do that any more. If you feel like it, have fun thinking, and maybe writing down, your answers to these questions.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Camera Critters #24

It's Camera Critters time again, and one of my favorite places in the world is Monterey, California. And one of my favorite places in Monterey is their wonderful aquarium down on Cannery Row. From time to time, they hold little talks or classes for the general public outside of their building, on a deck extending into Monterey Bay. If you look over the railing you will usually see sights like this one.

This picture of a sea lion is kind of fuzzy. I'm not sure why. But another I took the same day at a greater distance seems to be clear. The sea lions are pretty comical to watch, and they make a whole lot of noise - especially if several get together.

Misty Dawn hosts Camera Critters for us each week. Go to her site to find lots more animals, or to participate with your own pictures.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Someone suggested that I write about my children. I have done that, early this year, when I first started blogging. I did a sort of summary of my four. I've also written quite a bit about my youngest, Kitty, and did a post on the next youngest, Rita. I had every intention of going on to the other two, but somehow got distracted along the way. So, today I will talk about my third girl, Ruth. She is the oldest of the four.

Ruth had to be the most eagerly and happily anticipated baby that ever was. Ralph and I were both anxious to start our family. She was born on December 30th, just in time to give us a tax deduction for the year, thank you. We carried her home and put her under the Christmas tree.

She was an angel. Slept through the night from the very first. She talked very early - never baby talk. It was startling to hear grown up words coming from her little mouth so early.

She was only fifteen months old when her little brother arrived. She looked him over, saw the piece of umbilical cord still on his tummy and wanted to know what that was. I gave her the briefest possible explanation, and she said, "Oh. You mean he was plugged in." OK. That was a pretty good answer. She seemed delighted with him.

In another sixteen months, they were joined by another baby girl. I don't think that Ruth was quite so thrilled about this one, though she never acted out. She always seemed to know what we wanted to hear, and that's what she gave us. Joe was a big boy, and always seemed able to hold his own with big sister. Rita was always very small for her age, and Ruth often tried to bully her. She was feisty though, and could usually manage, but we had to watch them. Ruth gave her a pretty hard time, except when we were looking.

Because she acted older than her years, and simply because she was the oldest, I think we may have expected a bit much of her. But she rose to the challenge, and she was always
as good as gold. Never gave us any problem - until she was five. Then one day she walked into the kitchen alone, came out looking all innocent, and shortly after, when I happened to go in there I found all the gas jets turned on. "Did you do this?" "No" And that was how it all began. She really gave us a run for our money. She was smart as a whip, and had a very strong opinion of her own capability to do whatever she set her mind to, with or without our approval. She never told us if she got into any kind of difficulty - until she had found her way through it, and the whole thing was resolved. Then she might confide what had gone on. (She's still like that.)
I used to tell her she was responsible for every gray hair on my head. We lived in New York, and as the kids became teenagers, they had a curfew. She never kept it.

Ruth was ten years old when number four came along. She immediately became a second mother to Kitty. Here they are in 1969. The oldest and youngest remain close to one another today. But Ruth often tried to override my advice or wishes concerning Kit. And guess who Kitty listened to more often than not.

Isn't it lucky for us all that kids do manage to outgrow most of their less than charming traits as they get older?

Two years after Ralph passed away, the rest of us moved to New Jersey, where we could be close to family members. Ruth remained in New York, where she was attending college. She has never left. She is a true Long Island girl. This is how my girls looked in 1980. The three of them are so different in appearance.

Soon after college graduation, Ruth married Gary, the boy she had been seeing for some time. They remained on Long Island. In due time, there were two children - now adults. She and Gary have since divorced, but we haven't managed to persuade her to join us here. Her life has been in New York forever, and she has many good friends there and is enjoying the job that she has now. And of course, her children are there.

This is one of my favorite pictures of her. I think it's typical of her today.

Ruth has become more than my daughter. She is now my very good friend. I am very proud of her. She is a warm, wonderful person. She has a gift for story telling, and can keep you in stitches of laughter at any given time. Whenever she might decide to re-locate to Jersey, it would make me very happy.
But I'm not holding my breath.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sky Watch #10

Time for another Sky Watch.

We have a small airport not far from our neighborhood, and every so often they have what they call a "Fly In". What that means to us is that for a couple of days all kinds of planes fly into that airport one after the other. The smaller planes sometimes make a lot of noise, but don't usually come in too low.

On the other hand, the larger ones not only make a lot of noise, they also come in very, very low. There are times when we are almost sure they will take a few shingles with them.

I took these pictures from the deck behind my house.

Fly on over to the Sky Watch site. Say thank you to Tom, Sandy, Imac and Klaus for handling all of these people with photos every week. Add one of your own if you're interested.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Follow Up

This is sort of a follow up to my list of places I've been employed. I figured, if I don't do it now, I'll forget - just as my daughter, Kitty said when she emailed me the pictures. I asked her to send one because all I seem to have left of the little critters I used to knit, is one sad little owl. I knew she had some because I've given them to Isaac, just as I have to every other little person I know.

I'm sort of backing into this, aren't I? OK. When I wrote last, I mentioned that I had held one job as receptionist-typist, where I had so much time on my hands that I took up
knitting. Among the things I produced were many, many little stuffed animals. Lily Hydrangea asked me if I could show some of them. Sure, why not?

The penguin was actually one I made for Kitty herself, and Isaac has inherited it. Somewhere or other, I have a picture of Kit and the penguin, out on the ice in the Delaware Bay, one cold winter after we moved down here. They have both managed to survive all these years, and are now living in sunny California, far from the ice and snow. I'm glad Penguin survived so long. He looks in pretty good shape, too.

He is made in nine pieces: 2 black feet, 2 black back, 2 black flippers, 1 white front, 2 orange beak. (You could make the feet orange or yellow. And different people asked me to make the body different colors.)

The owl and cat are basically the same 2 piece body, only I usually made the cat skinnier. Wings for the owl, tail for the cat, and the faces different. This one is the one I have left. I think I must have kept it because I didn't do too well on the eyes on this one. - Owl and cat are so quick to do, it was easier to make another than to re-do the eyes. I'm sure anyone who does much knitting can figure out how this is done, and it can be any number of stitches that you like, depending on how fat you want them. Click to enlarge if you want to count stitches. I never used a pattern - just made it up as I went along. I stuffed them with old stockings, so they are washable and dry quickly.

So, there you have it. Anyone who cares to start knitting can give it a try. They are small enough for a baby to handle easily - well the cat and owl are. Penguin may be a bit awkward until baby is big enough to manage him.


There seems to be some difficulty with the link to Lily Hydrangea. If you have trouble, you can go to Long Island Daily Photo, on my side bar under Must Read Every Day.

Once upon a time...Part II

I think maybe I owe a debt of gratitude to my daughter for suggesting I start getting back to telling stories of my life. I have been feeling inundated with political hoopla. and I have been a part of it. Definitely time for a break!


When we left my story, I had just agreed to move to New York's Long Island with an old high school friend. When I hung up the phone, it came rushing into my mind - how would my mother take this? Would she be able to keep the apartment and take care of her needs without me? (Many years later, when my son soberly told me that he wanted to move out, and would I be able to handle things without him?, I would remember this day, and have to fight to keep from laughing in his face.) When I broke the news to my mother, her first words were, "You're not taking the TV, are you?" So much for my concern.

My friend's mom drove us to Long Island and let us go apartment hunting. It was surprisingly easy. That done, we went home to pack. She drove us back with a small U-Haul to move in.

My friend had a boyfriend who lived in Brooklyn, and she had been to New York many times. I knew no one and nothing. Didn't even know how to start looking for a job. Since I had been working for some time in a Philadelphia hospital, it seemed logical to start by applying at the nearest hospital there. I found a low-paying, going-nowhere job in their Admitting Department. It would pay the rent until I could find something else.

I continued working at the hospital for a little over a month. It was pleasant enough, but since it was a Catholic hospital, I was working with the nuns. I never had any contact with other staff nor with patients, so it didn't offer any social life for me. That was taken care of with a couple of men from Philly who made the trip to see me, and by a seemingly endless stream of roommate's BF's co-workers and clients he insisted on bringing to meet me - each one worse than the last. But one morning I missed my bus to work, and had to call a cab. The cab driver was a college guy, and we got along very well. Didn't have to ride the bus any longer. He then introduced me to his sister, who was pregnant and therefore leaving her job. She took me to meet her boss - a local dentist. I got the job.

Through my work as a Dental Assistant, I met my future husband, and a year later we married. I'm sure I have covered that story before in earlier posts. But until then, I really enjoyed working for the doctor. He had another office in Manhattan where he worked two days and some nights during the week. The other three days and a half day on Saturday, I assisted at the chair. The rest of the time I developed X-rays, kept the lab clean, made appointments, and sent out bills, but it was a real pleasure to have the place to myself most of the time. I would lock the door at lunch time, and eat in the waiting room to the accompaniment of the radio. The office was just down the street from our apartment - and later, when I moved out on my own, it was still not far away.

After our marriage, I was a stay-at-home housewife, and 14 months later, a mom. That is the way it remained for the next twenty years, except for a brief foray as a Tupperware dealer when Ralph had his first heart attack.

Two years after Ralph's death, we moved from Long Island to Cape May County, New Jersey, near my mother and sister. And then the job search began once again.

It had been a long time, and I wasn't really ready to plunge into the working world again. I was still in a rather zombie like state, unwilling to accept the idea that my husband was not coming back. I was still going through the motions of daily living, without fully participating in it. That took me a long time. But I decided I needed to find at least a part time job. I found one. Just a few hours a day, in a Foto Booth. Do you remember them? Pre-digital days. The kiosk was in the local shopping center parking lot. I've always been crazy about photography, and it wasn't a very demanding sort of job. Why not? I enjoyed it. I got to look at everybody's pictures. And - best of all - that is where I met Wyetta. We quickly found we had a great deal in common. And she was as much of a photo nut as I was. Her kids were about the ages of mine, and that is always a great thing among friends. We made many a trek to the Point, or to Leaming's Run, or any place we could find where we enjoyed taking pictures and just soaking up the beauty of nature, sometimes just the two of us, sometimes with the kids. I was even able to set up a dark room of sorts at home. Good times.

Well, eventually the time came when I felt a real need to find a full time job. One of the regular patrons of the Foto Booth was a township cop, and he suggested that I apply for a job with the township. The pay wasn't anything wonderful, but the benefits were, and that mattered to me, since I still had two of the girls at home. Hospitalization as well as generous vacation time and personal days were very important to me. The hours were ideal with one still in grade school. And I lived only a half mile away, which was also extremely important since I cannot see to drive at night. I took a Civil Service Exam, came out at the top of the list, and got myself a job in the Land Use Department. By the time my youngest was 18 and the Survivor Benefits ran out, my salary at the township had increased enough to allow us to do just fine, thank you. A long, long way from the $32.50 a week that was the starting salary in 1950!

I worked for the township for 18 years. I could write a book about that alone. I don't think I want to. I retired eight years ago, and wouldn't go back for any amount of money!

And there you have it - the history of my employment. Hope you enjoyed it, Kitty. It may not have been all you anticipated. If anyone made it all the way to the bitter end - well, you were very brave. I'd like to end with "happily ever after", but "ever" hasn't arrived yet, and I guess "happily" is relative. But - I'm almost there.


I have received a comment on my post, Where Did It Go? which was published quite a while ago, July 12th to be exact. It also applies to the one from September 1st.

I really appreciate this person taking the time and trouble to send this, and I'm going to print it here:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Where Did It Go?":

I made the counter... I also downsized the site now to handle the traffic -- so the only thing running on there now is the counter + hosting. That should take care of the downtime for a while to come. Sorry I let it go down a few times, it gets ~1 million views across the web every month"

Thank you so much Anonymous. Thank you for putting the counter up there to begin with. I think it's really important for us to stay aware of the sacrifices made for us. I also watch iCasualties, which lists even the names, ages, and other facts about the men and women these numbers represent.

You are doing us a much needed service. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Once upon a time...Part I

Twice recently my daughter has suggested that I write more about the jobs I have had in my lifetime. I think it's her way of saying, "Enough already with the politics, Ma! Stop your bitching and whining and tell us a story instead." OK.

Once upon a time, long, long ago, when I was very young and very foolish, and the world and my place in it were still The Great Unknown....

Exactly five days after my high school graduation, I went to work for Ma Bell. I became a Service Representative for the huge monopoly that was the telephone company. I was the "Voice With the Smile" at the other end of the line when you wanted to move your service from one home to another, or when you were having problems with your line, or even if you were a little old lady who was hallucinating that there was someone hiding under her bed, and she wanted someone from the nice telephone company to come out and remove him. Seriously, you would not believe some of the people on the other end of that line. Between these calls, I had to dun delinquent customers for payment of their bills. Since my particular area to be covered included a section of town full of doctors and lawyers, most of my customers did not pay their bills regularly, if at all, secure in the knowledge that their phones could not be removed (doctors) or that if we tried it, they could find a way to sue us. No, no, not all doctors and lawyers are like that, but those in this particular area of town seemed to be. All telephone employees' calls were subject to being observed at any time. Wire tapping personified. And we all had to be, at all times, the "Voice With the Smile". I did this for three months, at which point I got sick of customers cursing me and me being sickeningly polite in return. It isn't in my nature. I quit.

On to bigger and better things! I then left Upper Darby, and moved into the Big City of Philadelphia, and California Packing Sales Company (Del Monte Foods).
The one good thing about Calpak was that I met Nancy there. Nan and I have been friends a lot of years. She lives out in Arizona now. Calpak was OK. Just not the exciting world of business I had somehow pictured. They started me off on the switchboard, with some typing on the side. It was an old fashioned, plug-in-the-call type of board. Very first day I got a call from the man I was soon to learn was head of a very large food chain. I didn't even get out the "Good morning" when he started screaming curses. I pulled the plug. We went through this three times in a row. Next time I got out the whole greeting. Silence for a moment. Then, "Are you the young lady who has been disconnecting my calls?" I agreed that I was. "May I speak to Mr. G." (the District Manager). I connected him. A few minutes later, Mr. G. came out with a big grin on his face and congratulated me. Everyone else in the office stared at me open-mouthed in amazement that this little pipsqueak of a girl had the nerve to disconnect a call from this guy. But I'll tell you. Any time he called and I answered, or when he came into the office, he removed his hat and cigar and chatted with me pleasantly for a few moments before slamming the hat back on his head, cigar in mouth, and stomping through the office, skattering all others from his path.

I never took shorthand, although I had learned it. I typed 120 words a minute and rarely made mistakes, so I took dictation directly onto the typewriter. I eventually graduated to the teletype machine, and I loved it. Do you remember them? As you typed, you cut holes in paper tape, which was fed into another machine which sent it over the wires to California. "Sweet mixed pickles, sour mixed pickles, sweet pickle relish and chou chou." It was fun. And then you got to throw the paper tape streamers out the window when there was a parade. Our offices were right on Broad Street.

The bad part of Calpak was a certain salesman who shall remain nameless, and whose desk was directly behind mine. Jobs in those days were easily found. In fact we used to go on job interviews sometimes on our lunch hour, just for the heck of it to see what the inside of some of the more posh offices looked like. You could go on a half dozen interviews, then pick the job you wanted. But I hung on where I was for a whole year, despite Sleezy Salesman, because I didn't really think it would look too great on my resume if I left my first job in three months, and then a second one in less than a year. But then he pushed me too far, and I quit. I'm proud to say I was offered a raise and a bonus and more vacation time if I'd stay, but I'd had enough. Onward and Upward!

This time I decided to see what it was like close to home, and took a job in the office of a car dealership owned by my brother's best friend. Never worked so hard in all my life! We were two girls trying to do the work of at least four. We were paid an enormous salary, and we told our friend that we would gladly take a pay cut if he would hire an additional girl or two, but this lame brain just laughed. Folks, I lasted about two or three weeks before I staggered into his office and quit again.

I spent several days sleeping. Then I went back to the city. I found myself right across the street from Calpak, at a large Engineering and Construction company. I spent a couple of years there and made many very good friends, one of whom was later to be my maid of honor, and with whom I am still in close touch, although she has lived in Honolulu for many years. I was called a receptionist, although I did a lot of typing as well. Also did a lot of knitting when there wasn't any typing. I knitted myself a 3/4 length coat. I knitted many stuffed animals including a 12" penguin that was so cute everyone in the company wanted one, and I ended up knitting a dozen or so. There are still a few owls and pussycats floating around here somewhere. All the kids in my family have played with them. How could I continue to work at a job that was obviously not what you would call challenging? It was the people I worked with. They were all so much fun. We hung out together after work. Went for drinks, on dates, trips down the shore, etc. But it did finally get to me, and I had to move on.

Next was a small but highly respected (if that's the word for it) advertising agency. Don't ask me what possessed me to do that. It was a fun place to work. Nice offices. Nice people. But I very quickly came to feel it was the most useless job on earth. Not just my part of it - advertising in general. It just wouldn't do.

Finally, I found my niche. I went to work in the Social Services Department at Graduate Hospital. I finally felt useful. I was still typing most of the time. I typed reports for the Social Workers. Typed from old fashioned (even for those days) wax cylinders on an ancient dictaphone. I also acted as clinic secretary from time to time - Cardiac, Orthopedic - Functional - whatever. I was interacting with staff and patients all the time. I don't know what Graduate looks like today. Probably all shiny renovations. Who knows? But back then it was old and dreary looking. The majority of the patients were from the surrounding tenements, although with some of the best names on the staff, others did travel great distances for care there. My father wasn't saying much now that I was an adult, but he didn't approve of me walking around this part of town. I never had a moment's concern myself. Aside from the fact that the boys in the hood knew the staff and looked out for us, they were mostly genuinely nice people. just trying to get by, like the rest of us. There was the occasional gun shot wound or knifing, but the 1950's were a lot quieter than today's drive-by shooting scene. I was never afraid in any part of the city. Come to think, I was never afraid in any part of any city, and trust me, I've been to some that would have turned Dad's hair white over night. There are good and bad people everywhere. There is safety and danger no matter where you go. You can't live in fear. You just need to live each day as best you can, and trust in God, while trying not to do anything too foolish.But, as usual, I digress.

Again, I found good friends and good times in this job, and who knows how long I might have stayed. But as it happened I had a phone call one day from an old high school friend. She told me she had a teaching job lined up in Rockville Centre, New York. How would I like to move to New York with her? As it happened, I was still living at home with Mom, and chafing at the bit. I felt responsible in a way. How would she be able to make out if I left? But I so wanted to leave! It was time. I didn't even hesitate when this girl asked. Sure, I'd love to move to New York.

But, children, that is another tale for another day.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Change of Seasons

I guess autumn is really on its way at last.

Before I leave the subject of 9/11 completely, let me mention that my daughter
posted and said, on that morning, the three year old woke up and said to her, "Mommy, tell me about some people who died." No preamble. No explanation for it. But it is rather chilling, isn't it?


As I have mentioned, I have had the first cricket inside the house for the season. And now I have another. This one has not shown himself. He has been residing somewhere in the kitchen for the past two nights. I don't really mind too much, since he is staying in the kitchen - so far. It's far enough from my bedroom that I am not driven crazy by his chirping all night, and I don't think there's anything in there like carpet or paper that he can destroy.


The best part of autumn in this part of the world is the absence of tourists, at least for a while. I went food shopping on Friday morning, and there was hardly any traffic on the roads, and I could walk down the aisles in the store without being elbowed, and there was only one person ahead of me at check out. Tomorrow I have to go up the Parkway to the doctor's office, and I know I can plan the timing easily to make my appointment. Lots less stress.


What are your feelings about meteorologists? I know it isn't an exact science, so far as being able to predict with complete accuracy which way a hurricane is going to move, etc. I don't mind when they can't tell us that kind of th
ing . But it kind of gets to me when they try anyway, and get all worked up about it, making dire predictions as to what might happen. They seem to be on the same wave length as the anchor men and women who tease us with world-shaking news that we can only hear if we tune in at 11: , and we don't want to miss it! Don't get all wide-eyed and fill your voice with unwarranted urgency. Just tell me what you think is going to happen, and own up to the fact that you don't really know for sure. - And what's with sending some poor soul outside in the worst imaginable conditions to tell us it's windy and raining? We know it. We will believe you if you confirm this for us - from inside the studio. Honest. Sure, I'd like to see some pictures of flooding or a dust storm, just so I know how bad it is in another part of the country. But not at the risk of the cameraman's life.

Weather, along with "news", has now become entertainment. I think it's sick.


May I indulge myself with another Grandma story? Nothing sensational. Just a quiet and amusing little anecdote. First of all, I called him a three year old. He is now three and a half. That is very important to him now.

Isaac gathered all of his stuffed toys of the Winnie the Pooh characters, and then added farm animals and a few others. He announced that he wanted to act out the Pooh stories. His mom asked how all the others fit in. He said, "Dose are the fwens and a-lations."


He got on the phone with me Sunday, and told me very excitedly (and loudly) that he is three and a half. He goes to a yoga class for little people and their parents. They do positions like the dolphin, the shark, etc. Last week he told the teacher he had made up a new position. It is the octopus, which he demonstrated for her.


Well, gas is now down to 3.35 here, and considerably lower in some towns. Don't understand the inconsistency. My feeling is that prices should be statewide. The Villas Girl tells me that the Wawa stations are now asking for cash up front. I guess they've been ripped off too often, but how the heck can you know how much you're going to need before they pump it, especially when the prices jump day to day?


Guess I've rambled on long enough today. What? Another chicken joke?

Privileging the Lie

For a long time I have been driven to distraction by the media. I have all but given up reading newspapers except for local news, and rely mainly on NPR and PBS for news. I also try to see and hear news programs from other countries, because I want to know how they see us and our current political disaster. I do, of course, watch the networks, and can hardly avoid hearing their take on things, even though I don't sit down and watch what they call news.

Among other things, I receive by email a weekly update called Media Matters for America - Jamison Foser. On September 12th he sent a piece headed by the words I used as the title of this post: Privileging the Lie. In it, he discussed the influence that the media has on the voting public. He calls it "conservative misinformation", an apt title, and he discussed at length the political campaign of the year 2000 - Bush and Gore, whichis what he is referring to when he says that this time it's different.

If I may quote:
"The frame of most news reports about false claims made by McCain (and Palin and their staff) is very different. The frame isn't John McCain is lying again; it is John McCain said something; how will Barack Obama respond? Some of those news reports get around to mentioning that McCain's claim isn't true -- but those passing mentions hardly matter. They aren't the dominant theme of the report, so they don't stick in the minds of readers and viewers."

The vast majority of those readers and viewers cannot be bothered to do any homework on candidates. They do not look up the records. They know little or nothing except what the media tells them, and constant repetition of a lie, without constant qualification as to the truth, leaves them with memory only of the lie.

This Media Matters piece ends with this: "
Reporters "take sides" with everything they do. Everything they do involves a choice, involves a decision that X is more important than Y. When they report a lie five times before reporting the fact that it is false, they are taking the lie's side.

The question isn't whether reporters should "take sides" -- they can't possibly avoid taking sides.

The only question is whether they will side with truth or with fiction."

It's pretty obvious which side most of the media is on today.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Camera Critters #23

First, let me say thank you to all of you who identified the white plume moth for me last week. I appreciate your help.

Hi. My choice of critters this week is birds. I am not a birder in any sense except that I like to walk through woods and field and listen to their song and take pictures whenever I can. Don't know a lot about them except that I like them.

I took this picture when I was visiting my daughter in California. This is the natural bridge at Santa Cruz.

While I was there I also snapped a picture of a western bluebird, near their vegetable patch. At least I think that is what it's called.

Closer to home, I got a picture of a young
eastern bluebird. It let me walk up close to it and take a picture.

Even abroad, bird pictures appeal to me. These were taken in Budapest, Hungary. Don't know what they are. As I said, I just love birds, and the settings in which we find them.

I just realized - I have another picture that I took the other day. I'm going to add it now, a bit late. Both ridges of the roof are lined with birds.

What made me remember it was seeing another participant with a picture of birds on a roof. Thank you for that, Pea in a Pod!

Check out Camera Critters at Misty Dawn's site to visit other critters or to participate yourself.