Monday, April 27, 2009


I almost never come into my house by the front door. I have a nice wide porch that spans the width of the house and, over the winter, I would sweep it occasionally but that’s about it.

I guess you could say that I have a “back door house” and friends and family normally enter by way of the deck. That’s why it was a complete surprise for me to come across this sweet scene.

I decided it was time for a “Spring cleaning” outside, now that the pollen seems to have abated, and I started out front. With broom in hand I approached the porch and started to move the furniture before sweeping. I noticed that a bunch of leaves seemed to have blown together on top of a 3-tier wrought iron piece where I usually put fresh flowers in season.

Imagine my surprise when I tried to move it and a startled little Carolina Wren flew out. She had been protecting her eggs and I quickly realized it was her nest.

As soon as I took the picture of her nest I left her alone and now I’ve been carefully monitoring the progress. I’ve counted six eggs but no action so far.

I pray that the little ones will be OK but I fear that the nest is too open to temptation. We have a bevy of feral cats that roam the area and I can’t imagine how Mama will protect her babies. Maybe I can rig up a screen type of thing that surrounds the nest but lets her fly in through the top. Any ideas??

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Who's got the beef?

We all appreciate the good provider who brings home the bacon ... but how often does that same man come home with 600 pounds of premium beef?


It was a typical, crisp October night in 1971. Our little upstate NY town had already rolled up the sidewalks and, in our house at least, we were all tucked in for the night. We had no forewarning that the evening’s calm was about to end.

The barking of our dogs awoke us, but it was the sound that we heard next that was really alarming. It sounded exactly like the rushing waters of a turbulent stream or waterfall. We couldn’t imagine what was happening until our eyes adjusted to the night and we realized that a large herd of cattle was running past our door.

“Oh, no,” yelled my husband. “They’re loose and heading for the Parkway.” and before I knew what he was doing he’d pulled on his boots, grabbed a jacket and was out the door.

Our house was situated very near to the Taconic Parkway and I realized what he meant. If these black animals streamed onto the highway the result could be disastrous. A driver would have a hard time seeing them until it was too late...both for him and the cattle.

Dick jumped on his horse, Thunder, and the two of them took off down the road. By the time the children and I made it to the parkway he had most of the animals corralled in the median but one of them had, indeed, been hit. It was at this point that the owner arrived. He, too, had been asleep but was awaked by a call from a neighbor telling him that his cattle were loose. Needless to say he was very appreciative of Dick.

I took the children home to bed and the owner, Dick and some other good Samaritans worked together and finally got the cattle back where they belonged. It was about 3 AM when Dick came home but he was looking mighty pleased with himself. Evidently the owner had offered to pay him but Dick had declined. The farmer, however, would not take no for an answer and finally persuaded him to accept the animal that had been killed on the highway.

So, there you have it! My hero had indeed brought home the bacon...except in this case it turned out to be 600 lbs of prime beef. We paid $100 to have it cut, packaged and stored and we ate like kings for a long, long time.

I’ll let you do the math...but that was a pretty lucrative night’s “work”.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

MEMORIES OF MY DAD……….1900 to 1960

I love this picture of my Dad (1948) because it shows him at his favorite Sunday event...solving the New York Times Crossword Puzzle. I recall the times when we would hold up our usual 4 PM Sunday dinner until he was finished. The dictionary in the picture is very well-worn and was handed down to one of my sons who still uses it. Dad had little formal education but he had a great curiosity about life and he read voraciously.

Dad’s other hobby was stamp collecting. He started this in his youth and had an extensive, and quite valuable, collection. It must have been a heart breaker when he had to sell a large part of the collection during the 1929 Depression. I remember him soaking colorful and exotic stamps off of envelopes, drying them and then meticulously picking them up with tweezers and adhering them to the designated pages with those little transparent glue-back tabs. He loved to show us the stamps and then point to where they came from on the World globe. (Our first history lessons.)

We were a family of 6 women (my Mother and 5 sisters) and Dad would often have a hard time holding his own. He would try to introduce a serious subject at the dining table and, invariably, one of us would start to giggle. Of course that set us all off and when my Mother joined in the laughter Dad would throw his hands in the air and say, “I give up”...but always with a twinkle in his eye.

He was never abusive but I do remember one time when we had done something “bad” and he lined the 5 of us up, threatening to give us each a whack with his belt. We were all agog since this was so out of character for Dad. I guess we were scared but this quickly changed to uncontrollable guffaws when he whipped off his belt and his pants fell down !!

Dad was a romantic and the love of his life was my Mother. He would serve her breakfast in bed with the toast cut in to heart shapes and he would use any excuse to send her a card, such as the Valentine above. But, his warm and loving heart was big enough to include us all and, although he passed away 49 years ago, I still bask in the glow of that love.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

…Three…Two…One… BLAST OFF !! the world-weary and jaundiced eye of an adult this picture probably looks like an old lady and a young child in a dog cage. Even little Bella, whose cage this is, seems a bit bewildered.

However, to the eyes and imagination of little 6 year old Faye this is a wondrous space ship and we are about to be launched into outer space.

“Where are we going?” I ask and she informs me that we will be traveling to a far off planet. “Which one?” I ask. “Oh, I don’t know, Grandma. How about Mars, or maybe Jupiter?”

We call to the earthlings that it’s time to secure our ship and they need to give us the countdown. Faye’s dad and the others gather ‘round us and they latch the gate shut so we won’t fall out. “Let’s get going,” they shout and they start counting loudly ...10...9...8...

Faye and I hold Bella tightly and wiggle into the best positions for take off. ...5...4...3...

“Lets go to Neptune instead”, I say and Faye says she thinks that’s a great idea. ...2...1...BLAST OFF ! and we’re on our way.

I hear someone in the background saying that they don’t care which planet we choose as long as it’s not Uranus. They all laugh at the off-color insinuation and someone else says, “Can you imagine actually naming a Planet Uranus?”

I ignore this “wit” and it goes right over Faye’s head. Our eyes are closed and we toss ourselves around in the cage as we picture ourselves hurtling through outer space.

“How long will we be gone ?”, I ask Faye but she just pats my hand and says “Not long, Grandma. We’ll be back on earth real soon. That’s a planet too, you know”.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


A few weeks back I posted a blog entry about my back yard ... which is literally an untamed jungle. I can’t keep up with it so I concentrate on the little lawn in front of my house and let the back go wild.

The picture that I included with that post showed my “jungle” covered with a light dusting of snow. It was quite lovely and the comments that I received warmed my heart. Here are a few of them:

“It's not a "jungle" it is a wildlife natural garden.”

“I like the jungle. There's a well known house here in which the couple purposely left the site around the house natural for the birds. So you are right on with your jungle yard.”

“Our neighbors consider us eccentric as we actually have trees and those trees drop leaves, and *gasp* we don't rake them up - well, except for a few we need for mulch.”

“I prefer a jungle to manicured lawns. It greatens the odds that you'll get many curious birds and rabbits roaming through.”

Now that Spring is coming on fast my “jungle” is, once again, changing face. The wisteria has arrived ! It’s another way for Mother Nature to dress up my back yard and the birds are enjoying it as much as I am.

A “Carolina Blue” sky, fluffy white clouds and animal life of every variety combine to make the “jungle” a natural wonder to behold

Saturday, April 04, 2009


In Sept. of 2006 I posted a blog entitled “Who is brave enough to “BELL THE CAT”? I had heard the expression used on the BBC when a man being interviewed was complaining about some of Tony Blair’s past decisions and then added, “but it’s too late to “Bell the Cat” now.”

I wasn’t sure what he meant so I researched the expression. I found that it is taken from the Aesop fable about a mouse who proposes to put a bell on the cat so that they can always know when he is other words, the cat wouldn’t be able to sneak up on the mouse unawares. This is a fine idea but, as it says in the fable,“who will be brave enough to ‘Bell the Cat‘?”

It occurred to me that this would be a wonderful tool to use on our politicians. In 2006 we had a government that gave lip service to free speech. This was a joke as a lot of us found out when we disagreed with them. If we spoke out against the war in Iraq we were accused of not supporting our troops or being un-American. If we wanted to separate church from state we were thought of as “non-Christian”, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

I thought then, and I still do, that if we were brave enough as a nation we could insist that our politicians wear a metaphorical bell. We would be able to check their motives and decisions before we were blindsided by them. We would listen for the tinkle of the bell and be forewarned.

I am much more optimistic than I was in 2006 but we still need to keep an eagle eye on our politicians. President Obama has promised us an administration of transparency. Let’s dare to “Bell those Washington Cats” (on both sides of the aisle) and maybe we’ll get what we voted for !