Thursday, February 25, 2010


…or, at least, we THINK its Anglee. She’s one of two Black Cochins that my daughter and her husband brought South with them in December. The other gal is LeeAnn and they are dead ringers for each other. My daughter can tell them apart by their distinct characteristics but in a photo it’s near impossible.

Isn’t she gorgeous, regardless of name? And a bit haughty too I might add. She seems to be more than a little annoyed that this strange old lady is taking her picture. But, in reality, they are both very friendly. They love to strut their black, fluffy selves around the cage like royalty…clucking to their heart’s content.

We have two other chickens and they are very sweet also; but, they are the more usual varieties and much smaller. Plato is a Red Star and her sister Socrates is a Comet. They seem to like a good petting much more than the Cochins.

I did a little research on Cochins and found that they were imported to England and the United States in the 1800’s from China. It is said that Queen Victoria received a pair of them as a gift and that she became greatly enamored with the breed.

The interesting thing that I found was that all the descriptions of Cochins that I read said they laid brown eggs. Here is a picture of the ones I gathered today from LeeAnn and Anglee and they are definitely a soft, sage green on the outside with a Robin‘s egg blue lining inside. I wonder what that’s all about?? Do any of you farmers know?

Saturday, February 20, 2010


This is not a painting but a country scene near where I live. I drove by it the other day and then circled back and took this picture because the lighting was so unusual. The lavender in the sky would seem fake if it had been put there with oil paints.

We have many of these small barns and out-buildings dotting our landscape. This was big tobacco country at one time and every small farm seemed to contribute it’s share of leaves to the industry. Now most of these small fields are planted with soybeans, corn or just plain hay.

Now that I am retired I can spend as much time as I want touring the back roads and it never fails to fill me with awe when I see scenery such as this. It’s a wonderful respite from the rush and stress that seems to be a part of life nowadays.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


This is a vehicle that is parked on Rt. 1 in the town next to the one in which I live. I guess it is there to advertise the tattoo business but it never fails to give me a sick feeling whenever I see it.

The generation of today seems to have no idea how the use of the words GAS CHAMBER can send chills down the spine of anyone who experienced or has read about the horrors of the Hitler years.

Of course it brings to mind my good friend Amy who is 90 years old and a victim of the holocaust. This is what I wrote back in 2006 after a short visit with her.

“I could tell that Amy was agitated and she confided in me that a woman had approached her and asked if she would write down her remembrances of her years in a concentration camp. She had decided to do it and, when I asked her if it was cathartic, she answered with a very strong ‘NO, and it is tearing me up inside...but it must be done. Pretty soon there will be no one left to record the facts and it’s critical that we don’t forget.’

One of the memories that she shared with me that day was when she was forced into the bus that would take them to the camp. It was difficult to breathe because they were packed in so tight and the Nazi guard let them open the windows. They were still in a city and at one point the bus had to stop on a busy street. A girl suddenly flung her small infant out the window. Someone caught the child and before the Nazi could see what had happened the baby was gone from sight.

Of course she was crying by the time she’d finished her tale and the only response I had was to cry with her.”

Can things like this happen again? Are they happening? I strongly support a person’s right to express their beliefs or lack of them but I still find this vehicle to be offensive. Am I way off base or
does it offend you, too?

Friday, February 12, 2010


Steve Huneck is an artist with a great love for his dogs so it was only natural that he would portray their antics in his whimsical art. The first picture that I saw, about 3 years ago, was “Life Is a Ball” and I loved the simplicity and the upbeat message.

When I visited my niece in St. Johnsbury, Vt. she told me that his studio, gallery and DOG CHAPEL were nearby so I couldn’t wait to visit and I wasn’t disappointed. It is located on 400 open, pasture-like acres aptly named “Dog Mountain”. Visitors are encouraged to bring their dogs and there are even three dog ponds for their pleasure!

The gallery is a delight. There are many pictures for sale but also children‘s books...written and illustrated by the artist...specialty items and, most fascinating of all...FURNITURE.

The highlight of our visit, for me anyway, was the DOG CHAPEL. Mr Huneck built the chapel after he had a near death experience and he considers it “the largest artwork of my life and most personal”. Visitors are encouraged to celebrate the lives of the pets that they have lost and I was amazed to see that the walls of the two large rooms that comprise the chapel were completely covered with bits of paper and photographs. Here’s an example:

(If you can’t read it, it says: “Bailey, you never bit or made me cry. I miss you everyday and know you’ll never be replaced in my heart. Why did you attack Daddy?”)

I don’t know about you but I want to know the particulars. Did Bailey die of natural causes or was the attack on “Daddy” responsible for an early death? Did “Daddy” provoke Bailey? Is the writer of the note a youngster and should he be wary of “Daddy“, too? Was Bailey accepted into “Doggie Heaven” or is he wandering in “limbo” because of his aggressive behavior? Has he repented or was it never his fault to begin with?????

Oh, it’s all too mind boggling to contemplate. Doggie-saint or Doggie-sinner … what does it matter? A beloved pet is gone and his owner has left a farewell message tacked to the walls of the “Dog Chapel”. Not closure exactly but certainly a comfort.

The sign in front of the Chapel summed it up for me...and I couldn’t help but think that it would be a different world if more churches would adhere to it. It reads:


Saturday, February 06, 2010


Solving crossword puzzles just might be the world’s most popular pastime. Kings and ditch diggers alike put pencil to paper daily as they fill in those little squares in search of a solution.

The passion for word games dates to the Greeks of the 6th century and acrostics have been around since the days of the Romans; but, the actual crossword puzzle that we know today was introduced in 1913. It was invented in England and once it crossed the ocean to our shores that was “all she wrote”. The obsession had begun and it spread like wildfire.

I’ve found, in my own case, that a puzzle a day keeps the boredom at bay. That, and a good book, are my daily companions and I’d be lost without them. But there are many people who could care less and you can spot them easily. They are the ones who give a loud, disgusted sigh when a “puzzler” calls out, “5 letters starting with A meaning sour.” For lovers of crossword puzzles that is just something we do but it really annoys the people who don’t care for them. I try to keep my enthusiasm checked if I find myself in their presence.

My father’s favorite Sunday activity was to solve the New York Times puzzle so I grew up in this atmosphere. He considered this a family project and would include us all in his search for just the right word. It was great fun and we all celebrated when another week’s puzzle had been solved.

Recently I came across this little poem written in the 1920’s and it gave me a chuckle because I often find my head filled with words from the crosswords that I’m working on.

“Anger, ire, temper, rage !
Era, epoch, eon, age !
Do, re, me and fa, so, la,
Egyptian sun god, Ra, Ra, Ra !”

I was bitten by the “crossword bug” a long time ago and it has only increased in intensity over the years, so I guess I will go to my grave calling out clues. How about this one? “Two small words in 6 letters, starting with T and ending with D, meaning Finale ?”

T _ _ _ _ D

Monday, February 01, 2010

No ‘’GENERATION GAP’’ here …

It gives me a warm feeling to be writing about this small town enterprise…and here’s why:

My husband and I and our three children moved here in 1978. There were just two gas stations then and this one was named “Tommy’s EXXON”. The owner was a very pleasant man who ran an honest business and his wife worked tirelessly by his side.

We became friends despite the fact that they were about 10 years younger than we were. They had one child (a girl) when we first met but a little boy named Alan soon came on the scene. He was a sweet child and loved to play at the station.

With the advent of other gas stations Tommy decided to give up the dispensing of gas and to concentrate solely on auto upkeep. The name, at that time, was changed to “TOMMY’S AUTO”, but was always known simply as “Tommy’s”.

Car owners for miles around knew that you could count on Tommy for an excellent job at a fair price. But it wasn’t always easy to get good help and we were all thrilled when “little Alan” showed an interest. First it was just after school and on weekends but it soon became apparent that this was to be his dream.

And now that dream has come true. His folks retired at the beginning of the year and “ALAN‘s AUTOMOTIVE CENTER” has become a reality. I know that Alan not only continues his Dad’s legacy of honesty but has continued with another tradition too …his wife is working by his side, just as his Mom did for his Dad all those many years!