Tuesday, October 31, 2006


This beautiful Samoyed became part of our family in 1973. Her name was “Aphrodite” and we teased her relentlessly about being the “Goddess of Love”. Only in the months to come would we realize how aptly she’d been named.

“Aphrodite” settled into our household as if she’d always been there. We were a family of 5...myself, my husband and 3 teen aged children. We also had 4 German Shorthair Pointers and a quarter-horse named Thunder. We were living in a small, rural town in Upstate New York and we welcomed our new addition.

The other animals were penned but “Aphrodite” had been used to a city apartment so she became our “house dog”. She was good as gold and we couldn’t have been more pleased.

About three months after “Aphrodite” came to live with us she came into heat. My husband was very old fashioned where this was concerned and he did not believe in “fixing” his female animals. “We’ll keep her in the house”, he said, “no problem.” and that’s what we tried to do.

This proved to be an impossibility. There must have been 5 or 6 Adonis-like dogs milling around our front yard and the pull was too strong for our “Aphrodite”. At the first chance she was out the door and away they went in a flash. We searched for her but with no luck and it was two days before she returned.

We had a large open field across from our house and my husband was the first to spy her. “Look at that little minx”, he said and sure enough, here she came. She was positively glowing as she trotted across the field. She had a big smile on her face and wasn‘t the least bit interested in the line of exhausted looking male dogs that were straggling to keep up with her.

Now she was happy to be home and the mixed-breed puppies that she inevitably had were easy to place since they were an adorable combination of brown fluff and her big smile.

But it became more and more difficult to keep her at home and we worried about the busy turnpike nearby. We had friends in West Virginia who loved her too and when they offered her a home on their 200 acre farm we let her go.

It broke our hearts to see her leave but we knew that she was a free soul and needed to wander. “Aphrodite” closely resembled her namesake, the “Greek Goddess of Love” and I can imagine the two of them roaming those West Virginia hills even today.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


When Halloween arrived in 1958 I was a young bride living on West 75th St., in New York City. We had been in our "railroad" style apartment for two months and I couldn't remember seeing any young children there. We were on the 6th floor which we reached via a dark and rickety elevator. This was basically a building of small apartments occupied by singles, gay couples and the elderly.

With these thoughts in mind I didn't even consider the idea of providing for "trick and treaters". My husband agreed and even felt more strongly than I that it would be a bad idea. "No mother in her right mind would bring a kid up that elevator", he said, "and, besides, we can't afford to be spending money on a lot of junk food for a bunch of snotty-nosed tots that we don't even know and probably wouldn't care to."

"Well", I thought, "he's in a fine mood", and I went to the kitchen to start dinner. He was still in a foul humor at suppertime and it was apparent that his day had gone from bad to worse. When the doorbell rang he threw down his napkin in disgust. "I can't even get a few minutes of peace in my own house", he growled as he headed down our long hallway to the door. I heard it open and then... a profound silence. I waited a minute and then went to see if I could help.

I will never forget what I saw. There was my husband crouched down so that he was on eye level with a tiny imp dressed in a tiger costume. They were having a conversation and the little boy kept nodding his head and smiling. Then Dick reached in his pocket and I saw him put all his loose change into the Halloween bag that the child was carrying.

I quietly returned to the table and was sitting there when Dick came back. He was looking a little sheepish but he didn't give me an explanation. He said that he "had a little business to attend to" and that he'd be right back and he was out the door in a flash.

When he returned he had two bags filled with goodies. It was then that he told me about the conversation with the little boy. Dick had given him his change so that he could buy what he wanted, but he'd promised him that he would get some candy to have on hand for the rest of the "trick and treaters".

We found a bowl for the candy and then put it on a small end table near the front door. We even decorated the outside of the door to make it look friendly and then we sat back and waited.

Yes, you guessed it. Not a soul appeared. Our little Halloween tiger had been our only taker. "It's strange," said Dick, "I don't remember a grown up being with that little boy. You don't suppose........"

Friday, October 27, 2006


In 1991 I saw "Enchanted April" for the first time and it has stayed with me ever since. I grant you that it is a "feel good" movie but it is far superior to what that connotes. The scenery alone would draw me back time and again.

Based on the novel by Elizabeth Von Arnim, "Enchanted April" is the story of four women from London, strangers, who have joined their resources in order to rent a villa in Italy for the month of April. It is in the 1920's.

The women leave a cold, drizzly London and arrive in Italy to find themselves at a dark and foreboding Villa. They are dismayed to see that is it raining even harder than it was when they left.

The scene that follows this is amazing. It is the next morning and we are in the bedroom of one of the women. She goes to the window and slowly opens the heavy wooden shutters. All of a sudden the room is infused with sunlight...the rays just bouncing off the walls. She breathes in deeply and gazes at the view that stretches for miles and ends at the water line below. She is bursting with joy as she calls out a "good morning" to her friends.

And that is the first of the magical moments that make up this gem of a film. I truly did not want it to end. I won't give away the plot because, if you have not seen it, you deserve to experience it on your own. There are twists and turns that will delight and entertain the most cynical aficionado.

Joan Plowright plays a prominent role and her name was the only one that I recognized in 1991. Other cast members are Polly Walker, Miranda Richardson, Alfred Molina, Jessie Lawrence, Michael Kitchen and Jim Broadbent. They are superbly suited to the roles they play and they've become very familiar to me over the years.

This truly is my all-time favorite movie. It never fails to lift my spirits and is one of the few films that I can watch over and over. I hope it will be the same for you.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

2005...My correspondence with JIMMY CARTER

In January of 2005 I saw millions of dollars being spent on the pageant that was supposed to be an inauguration. It was widely advertised as being funded by "private interest" money and not coming out of the pockets of the lowly taxpayer.

What rubbish! Just how naive do there politicians think we are? The big money guys do not shell out that kind of money without expecting to get a return...and we all know that it is the low man on the totem pole that carries the biggest burden.

In a moment of complete frustration I sat down and wrote a letter to Jimmy Carter. I chose to write to him because I have always admired his courage and humility. The accomplishments of his life are varied and impressive, even though he was not a very effective President, in my opinion. (Much too nice a person for that thankless task.)

After he left office he chose to make a real difference in the world, rather than retire to obscurity. In 1984 he and his wife, Rosalynn, became active in "Habitat For Humanity", and it was their participation that helped to make it a world-wide project. He loaned his name to many Foundations, as well as establishing the "Carter Center"...all in the quest for peace and to fight disease & build hope among the peoples of the world.

In my letter to President Carter I explained that I had been in Italy when 9/11 happenend and I told him of the support and love the Italians had shown to us. In 2004 I returned to Italy and was shocked at the difference. Just 3 short years of our present administration had ruined years of fence mending. Once again we have taken on the "ugly American" syndrome.

I explained to him that I felt like a small voice in the wilderness, that I didn't recognize my country anymore and that it frightened me to see the decline of the middle class.

Imagine my surprise and the thrill that I felt when I received an envelope bearing no postage...simply the words "Jimmy Carter" where the stamp would have been placed. Inside I found a copy of my letter and his hand-written message in the upper right hand corner.

I will treasure that piece of paper and, even more to the point, I will try to do as he says. I will continue to let my views be known.

Monday, October 23, 2006


At least three time a year I make the trip from North Carolina to New York State where my daughter and her husband live. This year is memorable because I added two new adventures to the journey.

I had made arrangements to meet Colleen of Loose Leaf Notebooks in Floyd, Va. on Friday morning. I was able to do this because my good friend Denise has a second home in Fancy Gap, Va. and we drove there on Thursday afternoon. Her house is rustically spectacular and the views (when the fog rolled out) were breath-taking. We did what females seem to do best...we ate and talked and made plans for a longer visit next time.

In the morning I chose to drive the Blue Ridge Pkwy. to Floyd. That was a treat in itself. It had been drizzling but then the sun came out & everything took on a sparkle, as if diamond flecks had been sprinkled from the heavens. Before I knew it I was at the Cafe del Sol and meeting Colleen. She is exactly as I had pictured her and it took no time at all to feel as if we were old friends. We found that we had much in common. Her blog has always been one of my favorites and will be of even more interest now that I've seen her in the surroundings that she loves to write about.

By 11:30 I was back on the road, wending my way North on Rt. 81. It is one of my favorite trips and the pictures that I show here are ones that I've taken over the years. They are barns & farm structures along this route that caught my fancy. Isn't it strange that we go to great lengths to keep our houses trim, painted and pristine, but when it comes to this type of building it's just the opposite? So often it's the tilt of the structure or the way it is placed on the land that gives it that particular charm that we crave.

Now I am with my daughter and her husband in Columbia County, NY. They have a house that is perched atop 10 acres of greenery with lovely views of the mountains. The feeling of peace and contentment I get while I am visiting their home is incredible. I never tire of watching the changing seasons and I love the deep toll of the bell that Brian designed from an acetylene tank. The least breeze will set it ringing.

The threat of snow and frigid air will send me South again. I'm not as rugged as I used to be, but the memories of this wonderful trip will warm me until I can do it again next Spring.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Hometown thrill...the BOSTON MARATHON, 1947

America's first marathon took place on Patriot's Day, April 19th, 1897 in Massachusetts. It was the Boston Marathon consisting of just fifteen runners and covering 26 miles from Hopkinton to Boston's historic Back Bay.

Today the Maraton is host to over 20,000 runners and, although considered one of the premier foot races of the world, it still retains the route that was plotted out in 1897.

This course runs directly through the town of Wellesley on Rt. 9, once known as "The Old Post Rd." This is where I grew up and each year we would anxiously await the day of the race. Then we would line up on the main street of the town and cheer on the runners of our choice. It was especially exciting in the 40's because Clarence DeMar (1888-1958) was still alive and running. (That is he in the picture) He was the legendary figure who won 7 Boston Marathons, 1911, '22, '23, '24, '27, '28 & 1930.

I was 14 in 1947 and I remember that year in particular because, not only was DeMar running but it was also the beginning of the handicapped racers and it was amazing to watch them. Of course in those days all the participants were men. It would be 25 years before women were allowed to join in.

In Massachusetts Patriot's Day is a big deal. It commemorated the anniversary of Paul Revere's famous ride and, although the Boston Maraton waa just part of the day's festivities it was always my favorite.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


In this year of 2006, rife with political scandals and horrific acts of homicide, it is pretty hard to understand how a little cartoon figure could cause such a stir. But that’s exactly what happened with Betty Boop, who made her appearance in the early 1930‘s.

As I understand it she had originally been portrayed in the form of a floppy eared dog but by 1932 Paramount Pictures and Max Fleischer had transformed her into the Betty that we all came to love. She was a blatantly sexual cartoon character but the animators made sure to keep her “pure”.

Her cartoon films stood out from the competition mainly because of the upbeat jazz soundtracks. Artists such as Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway were two of the better-known contributors. One film was actually titled “Boop-Oop-a-Doop” and when Betty is threatened by a salacious ringmaster she tells her friend, the clown, “He couldn’t take my boop-oop-a-doop away!” That phrase became her byword.

It is ironic that Betty’s spirited sexuality would spell her doom even as it was making stars of the women who copied her antics. Can anyone forget the memorable performance by Marilyn Monroe in “Some Like it Hot”, the 1959 hit with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis? Her song “I Wanna Be Loved By You” with the chorus of Boop-boop-a-doop was a direct takeoff of Betty.

In 1934 the Production Code censorship laws forced Betty to increase the length of her skirt and to cover up the revealing neckline. She was no longer a “risqué” flapper. She became a husbandless housewife with a little dog named Pudgy and the films fell flat. It would seem that her cartoon career was at an end in 1939, but you can’t keep a girl like Betty under wraps.

She has been revived over the years in syndicated films and even had a cameo appearance in the Academy Award winning film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” in 1988. Her phrase “Boop-Oop-a-Doop” has survived the test of time and is imitated to this day by teasing females.

I realize that her demise was in 1934 but it seems to me that not much has changed. We still get sidetracked on unimportant issues, (such as the length of a skirt), while we allow the unlawful and dangerous shenanigans of our politicians to go unchecked! Nope, nothing much has changed that I can see.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


In 1973 my family and I were living in a small town in upstate New York. We didn’t entertain like we had while living in the city but on this particular night we were having a sit-down dinner for 12 couples.

It was a snowy November evening and all of our guests had arrived, but where was my husband? He and our oldest son had gone out hunting early in the day. Now it was well past dark and still no sign of them.

I was starting to get panicky but then I heard a car door slam and knew they were home. We all went to greet them and watched as they carefully lifted Dick’s hunting jacket out of the back of the Blazer. It seemed to be heavy and it took the two of them to carry it inside.

That was when we heard the tiny yapping sounds and we realized that his jacket was full of newborn pups. There must have been 7 or 8 of them and Dick explained what has transpired.

He had noticed a pregnant dog about 4 weeks earlier and every time he went into the woods he would call to her and they became friends. About 2 weeks before our party Dick noticed that the mother would not come to his call and he assumed that she must be having, or already had, her puppies.

So it was a shock when Dick and Mark stumbled onto the body of the mother. She had most likely been killed by a ruthless hunter who saw movement in the brush and assumed that it was a deer. They were devastated and then their next thought was, “where are the pups?” They finally located them scrunched into a hollow log covered with snow and they extricated them one by one and bundled them in Dick’s jacket.

You can imagine the rest of the story. We took turns sitting on the kitchen floor, fancy dress clothes and all, cuddling the pups and feeding warm milk to them. So it became a “sit-down” dinner party after all.

And, to top it off, one of the guests was a journalist. He wrote an article that tugged at the heart strings of many readers and all of our little “orphan pups" were adopted into good homes.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


In 1960 “Candid Camera” premiered on CBS and enjoyed an eight year run. It was the first reality-based comedy program on TV, featuring footage (taken by a hidden camera) of everyday people caught in ridiculous situations devised by the show’s host, Allen Funt.

When I was researching dates and facts about “Candid Camera” I came across this comment by a fellow watcher, “I can’t see how anyone except someone with a sadistic streak a mile wide could honestly enjoy watching people be pranked and made fools of. This should tell you a lot about the cruelty of human nature and how so many of us get a kick out of seeing someone degraded on national TV.”

Really? Here are some of the “cruel and degrading” episodes that I remember most clearly:

The bunch of school kids who have been having a lively discussion about Muhammed Ali...only to have him show up on the playground and surprise them.

The dry-cleaning clerk who tells the customer that he sold their laundry to make money for college.

The store selling water beds and the customer that tries it out, only to find that the water bed has sprung a leak.

The famous “wired mailbox” that says “thank you” every time a piece of mail is deposited.

...and my favorite: The official-looking person who stops a car at the state line and tells the driver, “I’m sorry but Pennsylvania is closed for the day. Come back tomorrow.”

I guess this tells you a lot about my sadistic nature because I thoroughly enjoyed the show. It could get repetitious at times but it was good, clean fun, and the simple act of being recorded on film brought “15 minutes of fame” to many a hum-drum life.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


One of my sister Peggy’s prized possessions is her copy of this lovely book, “The Yearling” signed by the author, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. It is proudly displayed on a hall table in their home in Gainesville, Florida.

When Peggy and her husband moved from Massachusetts to their new home they were pleased to find that they were just minutes away from the famous “Cross Creek” residence of Ms. Rawlings. They couldn’t wait to share this experience with me on my visit to them in 1995.

Entering “Cross Creek” is a shock and a delight. The shock comes from finding yourself in this idyllic setting just minutes from the progressive bustle of Gainesville, and the delight is in knowing that you are welcome to soak up the experience much as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings did when she lived and wrote there.

She bought the 70 acres of “Cross Creek” in 1928 with her husband, Charles. She loved the remoteness, the wildness and the simplicity of life that she found there. She had been a city girl but the minute she saw the property she felt it was “home”.
Her marriage was not to last but she had found her “place of enchantment” and she lived there until her death in 1953.

This was actually a working farm and Marjorie had high hopes for her orange grove. This never came to fruition but her writing did. She started writing short stories in 1930 and in 1938 she struck gold with her book “The Yearling” which won a Pulitzer for Best Novel that year. In 1942 she, once again, won acclaim with the publication of her book, “Cross Creek”.

We approach Marjorie’s home by a winding country road that takes us past an orange grove and outbuildings. It then leads us to a picturesque farmhouse, made up of three separate buildings inter-connected with porches. We see a daybed on the verandah where she would often sleep when she was working on a novel. It is just paces away from her open typewriter.

We see her kitchen where she loved to cook, it’s shelves still lined with jams and jellies made from her own fruit trees. Her household is a jumble of contradictions, much like Marjorie herself, from the vintage cooking gear to the elaborate, antique Hitchcock dining room set. As we leave the house we have the feeling that life has come to a standstill. We catch the sweet, pungent smell of oranges and herbs and we can understand how this place could nourish the soul of a gifted writer.

The spirit of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings is very much alive in this place of enchantment. We can almost see her wave goodbye to us as we reluctantly return to the 21st century.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


In March of this year I visited my friends Ted & Dwayne in Palm Springs, California. It was my first time there and my hosts had gone overboard to make sure that I didn’t miss a thing. We rode the Aerial Tramway to the snow covered heights of Mount San Jacinto, hiked the trail of the Tahquitz Canyon to the awesome 60’ waterfall and spent a day at the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens.

One memorable evening we changed course. This was our night to “make whoopee” and we lived it up by attending the world famous “Palm Spring Follies”. This is a Broadway-type performance of music, dance and comedy of the 30’s and 40’s, with a cast that is old enough to have lived it!

I must admit that I was pretty skeptical about watching a bunch of “elder hoofers” do their thing. I knew that the performers ranged in age from 57 to 82 and I was prepared to be generous in my acceptance of their old-age shenanigans.

Was I ever wrong! From start to finish the Follies proved to be an exceptionally professional performance. The cast sang and danced with a zest that even a teenager would envy.

About mid-way in the evening Riff Markowitz, originator of the Follies, introduced the performers individually. He gave their names, ages and a brief biography of their backgrounds. Most of them were “retired” from a career in acting and dancing and they loved the opportunity to be back in the spotlight again.

There were male dancers, of course, but it was the women who captured the hearts of the audience. They swept on stage with their multi-colored fan headdresses and took their bows as Riff called out their ages. The last one, of course, was the 82 year old dancer and the audience gave her a standing ovation.

It was a night to remember and, as I write this, I can’t help but think of our own Lucy, of "Golden Lucy’s Spiral Journal". I’ve not only seen her picture but I’ve enjoyed her blogs and I’ll bet that (at age 84) she could be up on that stage in Palm Springs giving them all a run for their money

Monday, October 09, 2006

THE CHESS GAME … circa 1972

A few years after my husband died in 1990 I was looking through some old photographs. I came across a wonderful one of Dick and one of our sons playing chess. It really touched me because it was so reminiscent of how they used to spend hours at the chess board. Dick had been teaching all the children to play since they were toddlers.

The only problem was that it was a Polaroid shot and was almost 20 years old. As so often happened with film of that era it had faded so that I could barely make out the expression on Dick’s face. I mentioned this to Mark (the son in the picture) and he agreed that it was a shame to lose that memory.

Then Mark did a wonderful thing. Unbeknownst to me he “stole” the photo when I wasn’t looking. He is an architect and has a very good eye for design so it wasn’t difficult for him to produce this wonderfully stylized version of that photo. He captured the moment exactly as it had been in the original.

This was his Christmas gift to me that year and I was thrilled. I had copies made and, in turn, gave them as gifts to all of my family members.

And the games continue today. Mark is a rated chess player and competes whenever he can get the time. He and his siblings learned a lot from their dad...not the least of these being the tenacity and patience to play a good game of chess.

Friday, October 06, 2006


I thoroughly enjoyed reading the latest post by Mortart on his blog Octogenarian:
"A guy who never met a Jew before." and, as the title suggests, it describes the breaking down of age old prejudices.

This brought to mind the journey that I have been taking for the past 17 years. In 1989 I attended my first AA meeting and I was devastated. I had absolutely nothing in common with this strange group of humanity.

I had always thought of myself as a liberal, well educated and non-prejudicial person. What more could they ask for? I was no longer a child and I, literally, couldn’t see where I could gain anything from these “misfits”. But, not to worry...Pinehurst is a wealthy community, and, if I chose carefully, I could attend only the “high class” meetings.

The only problem was that I was getting nowhere. Thankfully, I had a wise Sponsor who suggested that I reach out and try to find the similarities in my fellow members, rather than the differences. I started to attend “new-comer” meetings that were mainly made up of younger people and those of different races and religious leanings.

All of a sudden the world seemed to open up before me. I realized that I had been living in a vacuum…and a boring one at that. I became teachable and the more I listened and opened my heart the more I learned.

My friends today are a conglomeration of different races, and ethnicities. They range in age from 17 to 84 and not a day passes that I don’t learn something new from them. We share laughter and tears and the knowledge that we will be here for each other as we continue on our journey of sobriety.

Today I feel like I have a metaphorical rainbow that covers and protects me. It is made up of the melding of all these colorful characters that I almost didn’t let into my life.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

ARTHUR FIEDLER & the POPS…1950 & 1964

I was twice privileged to see Arthur Fiedler conduct the famous Boston “Pops”. The first time was when I was 17 and I had the best of all worlds that night. I was on a date with a college boy and we were going to the Boston Symphony Hall.

In those days the Hall had two faces. During the Symphony Season it would be very conventional but as soon as it was over the workmen would arrive. They would take out all the seats and risers and pack in small tables and chairs, reminiscent of the type that you might see at a curbside Bistro.

The 65th Boston Pops season had begun and we were among the hundreds of fans who were there. My date had ordered for us and I remember that we had a carafe of sauterne on the table and two teeny wine glasses. I guess there were “munchies” too but I don’t remember.

I do recall when Arthur Fiedler came to the podium. There was a roar of approval from the audience until the popular maestro took up his baton. Then the lights were lowered, the talking ceased and the concert began. It was a typical “Pops” evening filled with semi-classical music and a few lighter pieces.

What really impressed me was that, at the end of each number, instead of going offstage, Arthur Fiedler took a seat up front on the stage and beamed at us, while waitresses collected orders for beer, wine, or lemonade. Then he would stand up ...our signal to stop talking...and the next segment would begin.

The evening ended with a standing ovation and a loud cry for “more”. The maestro didn’t let us down and his final encore was a rousing rendition of “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top”.

My second “Fiedler adventure” was again in Boston and this time at the famous Hatch Shell. This is an outdoor concert venue adjacent to the Charles River. The performances are free and there is no formal seating…just a large expanse of grass where the audience spreads blankets and sets up portable chairs.

This time it was 1964 and my husband, some friends and I had spent the day sight-seeing in Boston. We were thrilled to have chosen a day when the Boston Pops would be performing. Once again I was able to listen to and watch the amazing performance of Arthur Fiedler. He truly held the audience in his hands.

As I recall it, the Shell was in need of repairs and it wasn’t until the Pops started their famous 4th of July concerts that much was done for that. In 1991 the Shell underwent a final significant renovation. It is a “must-see” on any Boston trip and is the site of a memorial to Arthur Fiedler...a fitting tribute to the first permanent conductor of the Pops.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

DICK and THUNDER …. 1971

This is my favorite picture of my husband. I have others that are more in focus and technically superior...but they don’t capture Dick’s spirit like this does.

Whereas my childhood was practically idyllic his reads like a Dickensian novel. His 34 year old Dad died of a brain aneurysm when he was a young boy so he never had the constant love of a father.

His mother was a very private and stoic woman. We knew that she had come from Ireland on a “potato boat" in the early 20th century but that was all she would admit. It wasn’t until years later, after both she and Dick had died, that I found out that she was actually a serving girl in a fancy home in Nyack, NY and that Dick’s father was the youngest son of that family.

All accounts seem to agree that it was a happy marriage until the death of his dad. At that point the family turned their back on Dick’s mother. A very wealthy woman in town took pity on Dick and his older brother and she paid to have them go to private schools. This left his mother on her own and she went to NY City, where she worked for many years as a clerk in one of the large department stores.

Dick did not have the temperament for private schools and was constantly getting into trouble. (He was caught in one escapade where he and his buddies had raided the ice box at night. When going back to his dorm room he had put a carton of milk in his pocket...except that it was upside down and the trail of milk drops led straight to him !) He was actually thrown out of Exeter and returned to NY City where he attended Stuyvesant High while living with his mom. This proved to be a good move for him since it was one of the most innovative schools in the nation at that time and he graduated with honors.

He had some college (NYU) but decided to jump into the fray and in 1954 he became an intern at “Life” magazine. He worked and traveled with such greats as Margaret Bourke-White, Eugene Smith, Eliot Elisofon and Alfred Eisenstadt. He was taught well and in 1958 (when we met) he had just left “Life” and was striking out on his own.

Dick had a special knack for photography and it was a sad day when he had to give it up due to poor health. He needed a more stable life style and we moved to the country where he opened a Real Estate office.

There had been many changes in his young life and there would be many more to come...but his indomitable spirit always triumphed. He wasn’t easy to live with. He had no tolerance for compromise and expected us all to be as hard on ourselves as he was on himself, but his love for our little family was total and he dedicated his life to us, until his death in 1990 at the young age of 59.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Foley, another coward hides behind "alcoholism"

I am sick and tired of people with high profiles who get themselves into shameful situations and then hide behind the blanket of alcoholism. The lastest of these is the sleeze, Foley. (He's the Rep. Congressman who resigned Friday amid scrutiny of his disgusting emails to a 16 yr old Page.)

Do people honestly believe that going to a rehab and getting "clean" changes the basic person? This is ridiculous. Does the sinner who is a diabetic get to be a saint because he can control his sugar levels?

Congressman Foley, I hope you do get help, but be up front about it. If you're a sexual deviant go to a program that's specific to that...don't sneak under the huge umbrella of Alcoholism.

One of the things that I like the most about AA is that it concentrates solely on alcohol. We share how we got sober and how the newcomer can stop drinking. We do have members with multiple mental health problems but they are never discussed in a meeting...they are encouraged to get help for them elsewhere. When a person like Congressman Foley brings his "related behavorial problems" to a rehab and calls it "Alcoholism" it tarnishes it for all of us and I highly resent it.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


There are few birds that can rival the Cedar Waxwing. The sight of them perched on a berry-covered bush is enough to warm the heart of the most cynical pessimist. But, I get ahead of myself. Let me tell you the story of “my” Waxwings.

In 1978 my elderly mother spent the winter months with us in North Carolina. At age 84 she was still very active and her mind was exceptionally alert. No matter where she was she would find things of interest and she had a knack for turning the mundane into an adventure.

One of my mother’s disciplines was to take a short walk every day and she would usually be gone for about 30 minutes. A week into her visit she took her regular exercise but it was almost two hours before she returned home, her smile telling me that she had thoroughly enjoyed her latest escapade.

Mother had heard that we had a bedridden neighbor living just 4 houses down from ours and she took it upon herself to visit her. When there was no answer to her knock she tried the door and, finding it open, she stuck her head in, giving a friendly “Woo, woo, anyone here?” A woman answered and Mother ventured in and introduced herself ! (Can you imagine that in this day and age?) The two women became great friends and those visits were the highlight of her days while staying with us.

She would also bring home leaves and berries and anything else that caught her fancy and she would pour over our encyclopedias to identify them. One day she was doing just that in “her” little back bedroom when I heard a loud cry of astonishment. I went running to see if she was OK and the two of us watched in wonder as more than 20 Cedar Waxwings settled to feed on the berries of a small tree in our backyard.

The tree was just outside her window and we were not more than 10 feet from the birds. We watched in awe as these lovely creatures fed to their heart’s content. I mentioned that I could run and get my camera but Mother put her hand on my arm and said, “Don’t move. They’ll be gone before you get back. Just savor the moment.” … and she was right. All of a sudden they perked up, as if they’d heard a silent alarm, and within a minute they were gone.

That was 27 years ago and for a long time I watched to see if “my” Waxwings would return to that little tree. They never did and now my tree, my mother and my Cedar Waxwings are all gone. But, not my memory...that I will savor forever.